The Goodness of God

goodness-of-god

The acts of goodness that most amaze us are the undeserved and unexpected acts.  We remember them.  The young man who takes off his own shoes and gives them to a homeless man whose shoes are in tatters.  The policeman bringing food to someone begging on the street instead of arresting them.  People like Mother Theresa who left a life of Western comforts to devote herself to the poor of India.  I remember as a child someone who used to treat me a bit harshly and then one day did something unexpectedly kind to me.  It’s been more than 50 years and I don’t remember the specifics of her harsh side but I distinctly remember that kind act.  Such acts bring us to tears.  They revive our hearts.  They give us hope.  Why?  Because we instinctively long for such gracious goodness in a world so lacking in it.  I read the internet news almost daily and what I see there is that for every act of gracious goodness, there are five or ten stories of murder, cruelty and betrayal.  These rare acts of goodness help to restore us in the face of such cruelty and wrongdoing.

And yet we do not see that our lives and the lives of the entire world are bathed in the gracious goodness of God.  God created this world knowing what we would do with it.  He could have simply said no to the very idea of the world.  He could have decided the world was not worth the trouble.  After all, the world breaks his heart every moment of every day.  Who needs that?  But for the sake of the love he decided to lavish on us, God decided we were worth all the pain we would inflict on him.  Gracious goodness.  Faithful goodness.

Continue reading “The Goodness of God”

Lazarus and the Rich Man

choice-png

This parable is told in Luke 16 beginning in verse 19.  Yeshua is on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified.  He knows this.  In chapter 17, we find him on the road to Jerusalem.  In chapter 18 he predicts his death for the third time .In chapter 19 we find the triumphal entry.  He knows where he’s going.  He knows what will happen and he keeps going.  So much is packed into these chapters.  He’s trying to get the people ready.  He’s trying to get the disciples ready.  I think that’s why he tells so many stories.  I don’t know about you but stories are much easier for me to remember than instructions.  I think that’s why Yeshua told stories.  There are some amazing things in this parable.  Yeshua was trying to jar the religiously righteous enough wake them up to what they were doing.  To wake them up enough to follow him.  He loved them.

Continue reading “Lazarus and the Rich Man”

The Hands of Yeshua

what-happened-to-your-hand

I don’t know if anyone has noticed the Youtube link on the left side of the blog page.  It links you to my Youtube channel.  I make videos to music that moves me.  I just finished a video for Yom-Yeshua (aka Christmas).  If you want to see it, here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M29Q8V9i-ig&t=8s

I collected images from the life of Yeshua in chronological order.  The thing that struck me most was his hands.  Hands lifted to heaven.  Hands touching the sick.  Hands giving sight to the blind.  Hands taking two fish and a few loaves and feeding thousands.  Hands raising the dead.  Hands reaching out to Peter as he sank beneath the waves on a stormy night.  Hands touching people who were untouchable.  The hands of God doing what they had not been able to do for thousands of years…reaching out to touch the people he loved.  Showing them that he’d never forgotten them and that he never would.  And then at the end, hands carrying a cross.  Hands pierced by nails driven into his flesh by all of us.  It could have been me holding that hammer and in a very real sense, it was me.  And then the miracle.  Once again, hands reaching out to touch those he loved.  Hands pierced so that once again they can save those they touch.  Then he ascended to heaven where those hands speak to the Father, telling him that the price has been paid and we are clean.

The Bible says God created the world with a word and we know that Yeshua is the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

All things were created through Him,

and apart from Him not one thing was created

that has been created

John 1:1-3

This is one of my favorite parts of the Bible.  I love these verses.  All things were created through Yeshua.  He was there at the beginning and he acted to create all that there is.

He created all knowing what would happen.  Knowing that we would fall and need to be redeemed.  Knowing what a mess we would make out of his perfect creation.  Knowing we would break his heart over and over and over again.  And he did it anyway.

We know that God created time and that he exists outside of time.  He sees it all as one thing.  To God there is no past, present or future.  It all simply is, at once, and within his view in its entirety.  He can hold time, space and the universe in those beautiful hands.  So you have to ask yourself, were the hands that formed the universe, the hands that made man from the dust of the ground, were they pierced?  Yes, I think they were.

Merry Christmas.

God and “Alternative Life Styles”

how-deep-the-fathers-love

How about a topic that is never far from the news these days?  One that is guaranteed to get me into trouble.  Let’s talk about God and gays, lesbians, transvestites, trans genders and the “gender-fluid”.  The world has changed considerably since I was young.

I believe that the people who argue that these sexual identities are part of a person’s make-up when they are born and the people who argue they are life choices are both missing the point here.  They are asking the wrong questions.  They are giving the wrong answers because they are asking the wrong questions.  There is something deeper at issue here, something more fundamental and that’s what needs to take center stage in any discussion of sexual identity.  The ultimate issue here is control.  Who is in control?  In control of your life?  Your decisions?  Your attitudes?

Continue reading “God and “Alternative Life Styles””

Follow-Up to the Argument Against Polytheism

light-in-the-dark

It astounded me that the Egyptians did not walk away from their multiplicity of gods when faced with the power of the One God.  Doesn’t it make you scratch your head?  I just scratched mine.  I keep going back to what Yeshua said in John 3:19.  “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”

I was reading in I Samuel 5 and 6 today.  It’s a very interesting story.  Previous to this the Israelites had been defeated in battle.  They conclude (rightly) that God was not with them.  So, what to do?  Well, they certainly didn’t stop to ask God what he thought.  They hauled the Ark of the Covenant out of the tabernacle and put it in front of the army.  God in a box.  Kind of like an oversized and very dangerous rabbit foot.  Yeh.  God didn’t go for it.  The army got its collective butt kicked and the Philistines grabbed the Ark.  First they put it in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod.  Next morning they went in and Dagon had fallen on his face in front of the Ark.  Helpless on the floor but that didn’t stop the Ashdodites (Ashdodians?? Whatever.).  They picked Dagon up and put him back.  Next morning, same thing except this time he was smashed to pieces.  On top of it all God terrorized the people and inflicted tumors on the inhabitants.  Result?  Get that thing out of here.  So they sent it on to Gath.  More tumors.  More terror.  Gath sent it on to Ekron.  Ah yes, but the Ekronites had heard all about this from the neighbors.  “The Gittites then sent the ark of God to Ekron, but when it got there, the Ekronites cried out, “They’ve moved the ark of Israel’s God to us to kill us and our people!”  (I Samuel 5:10)  So what happened then?

Continue reading “Follow-Up to the Argument Against Polytheism”

The Elder Brother and I

prodigal2

Luke 15:11-32  The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Many of us know the parable Jesus told about two sons.  The younger son went to his father and asked to be given his share of the inheritance now – saying in effect that his only interest in his father was in what the father had and that he didn’t want to wait for his father to die.  The father should have kicked him out and disinherited him but instead he liquefied a third of his assets and gave them to the son who promptly went out and spent it all on wine, women and song.  Starving and left with nothing, the boy returned home to humbly ask his father to hire him on a farmhand since he did not deserve to be a son.  The father, unpredictably, ran to the son on the road, showered him with hugs and kisses and threw a party.  The older brother (the first heir and in line to inherit the remaining two thirds of the assets) came back to the house, saw what was happening and threw a hissy fit.  “I’m the good one.  How dare you take him back?” he said in effect.  Instead of getting angry, the father pleads with him to show love to both his brother and his father because judging by the elder brother’s behavior, he didn’t love either one of them.

I was raised in the faith.  I’ve toed the line.  I have chosen to live in accordance with the teaching of the faith.  Just like the elder brother.  The elder brother scares the crap out of me.  I know I run the risk of being the elder brother.  I have known a lot of elder brothers in the churches I’ve attended.  I don’t like them and I understand why people don’t like Jesus because they think he’s like the elder brother.  My advantage is that I know Jesus and he’s not like the elder brother at all.

Continue reading “The Elder Brother and I”

The Argument Against Polytheism – Part 3

egyptiangods

All right, so we’ve established that the character of God stands in stark contrast to our character and the character of the polytheistic gods.  But what does this mean?  Is it important?  The answer, of course, is yes.  God’s holiness and purity is linked to his power.  It is part of his essence.  If we want to talk about God and describe who and what he is, we have to include holiness and power.  Yet even that does not begin to contain God in words.  He is infinitely more that those two words can hold.

If the reason the polytheistic gods and mankind feel so comfortable together is that we are more similar than different, then let’s apply that to holiness and power.  We are not holy.  If they are impersonating God, then they are not holy.  We are limited in our abilities.  Are they?  Well, if God is who he says he is and they are what he claims they are (rebellious servants) then let’s look for an example in which the power of God and the polytheistic gods is compared.  And the classic example comes to mind.  Yup.  Moses at the court of Pharaoh.

Continue reading “The Argument Against Polytheism – Part 3”