Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dawkins’ Malevolent God

Atheist author Richard Dawkins wrote - [The Christian God is] “Arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

In chapter 19 of his letter to someone called Theophilus, the Physician and Historian Luke tells of how Jesus responds to such accusations. In this parable that Luke records, Jesus tells of a wealthy man leaving his affairs in the hands of servants while he travels abroad. Prior to leaving, he gives each of his servants a certain amount of money to invest. Upon returning from his trip, the man finds that one servant managed his Master’s investments well. Another did a so-so job while the third did absolutely nothing with the money he’d been given to manage. The last servant’s excuse for not doing anything was that his opinion of his Master was that of “a hard man,” a capricious malevolent bully, if you will, and he was afraid of him.

Without admitting to any truth that the charge might have, the Master says, “If you think that’s what I’m like, why did you do nothing to try to serve me properly?”

God has given each one of us marvellous gifts. Along with these material and physical gifts, He has also given us compelling proof of His existence. Now, if a Creator God exists, regardless of whether He’s loving or cruel, don’t you think it would be wise to find out anything and everything we can about this Being? Don’t you think it would be wise to do what you think would please a Being that is able to bring a mathematically precise universe into existence? Don’t you think it would be wise to follow a Being who says to “fear Him who can destroy the body AND the soul”?

Or do you think that it’s wise to stand and shake your fist at, mock with distain and rage at this Creator God that you say you don’t believe in?

Face Set Like a Flint

Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Meditate on it, study how Jesus did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He's there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through - all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
but don't be crushed by it either.
It's the child He loves that He disciplines;
the child He embraces, He also corrects.
Hebrews 12:1-6

Sunday, February 27, 2011

“Perhaps the best argument that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his or her theory.”
Astrophysicist C. J. Isham

For example: “The most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.”
Quentin Smith

That’s the most reasonable belief that an atheist scientist can come up with?

To have atheist scientists say things like, “The Big Bang didn’t have a cause,” or “The Big Bang didn’t need a cause,” would be laughable if they weren’t so desperate and pathetic. Those kinds of comments certainly aren’t coming from science. They’re coming from a faith based position with no evidence to support it, a faith based position that is being promoted in a final gasp of life as science itself is proving the existence of Creator God.
“Perhaps the best argument that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his or her theory.”
Astrophysicist C. J. Isham

Saturday, February 26, 2011

O Lord That’s Hard

"All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God's order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in Him, and sin is not part of His program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They've got Him all backward." 1st John 3:4-6

I know that I and many Christians look at that verse and wish that we didn’t understand it. We wish that because we do understand it - clearly. Think about that! No one who continues to practice sin has a correct understanding of Jesus. Their relationship with Jesus is off the rails.

Jesus went to the cross with the explicit determination of dealing with the presence of sin in our lives. John is saying that if that hasn’t happened Jesus isn’t in our life.

“So, my dear children, don't let anyone divert you from the truth. It's the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin.” 1st John 3:7,8

For those of us who are tempted to think that we can have a foot in both worlds, this verse states as clearly as can be that to do so is impossible.

Here it is again:
“People conceived and brought into life by God don't make a practice of sin.” vs. 9

“How could they? God's dwells within them, making them who they are. It's not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here's how you tell the difference between God's children and the Devil's children: The one who refuses to practice righteous ways isn't from God, nor is the one who refuses to love a husband or wife, brother or sister or fellow believer. 1st John 3:10

John isn’t saying that Christians only sin a little. He is saying that Christians don’t sin - period!

What do we do with something like that? I am a Christian. Yet I sometimes deliberately sin.
Yet John says that if Christ lives in me I will not sin.

There is just the slightest of wiggle room here.

The grammatical form or the term used here for “sin” means, “Keep on sinning,” or "Make a practice of sinning.” Other verses from Paul’s teaching confirms the idea that a follower of Jesus does not make a practice of sinning. Will we still fall from time to time? Obviously. The question becomes:

Will we justify that sin?
Will we make a practice of it?
Will we return to a pattern of sinning?

If Jesus lives in us, how could we?

“In Him there is no sin.”
“He is without sin.”
“He is separate from sin.”
“He knew no sin.”

Do you not think that having the very Spirit of the living God residing in us would and should make a difference in our relationship with sin? If we are right with God it means that we will reflect a consistent pursuit of righteousness. We will no longer continue in a pattern of sin. We will no longer remain in sin.

The evidence of a converted life is a converted life-style.

If Jesus is in us, then staying “in” sin is no longer possible.

Mercy is . . .

Mercy is the kind of love that does not need to be required or demanded for it to take action.

Mercy is an overflowing of generosity.

Mercy is a spontaneous, love which comes from having experienced an even greater Love.

“There are many who know well that they are not Christians (despite what they say) because they do not love liberally and without grudge or complaint.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ya Gotta Love Smokers

Today it’s 49 degrees below zero - crisp - very crisp! Yet here come people, smokers, with the windows rolled down on their vehicles because they think that they won’t stink quite as much like a dirty ashtray.

At -49 there isn’t much that lightens my mood, but to watch smokers drive around with their windows down is always good for a smile.
“As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency - or, rather, Agency - must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”

Astronomer George Greenstein

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Extreme Make-over

Every once in awhile I speak of my journey from A to B and an atheist will chastise me for not giving myself credit for the “work that you’ve done.”

They don’t get it.
They can’t get it.
They just don’t understand.

A follower of Jesus does not change h/herself, but is instead changed from within. It has nothing to do with effort. It has everything to do with being indwelt by a Being that squeezes out the filth. Following Jesus involves choosing a path of change, but the path itself does not bring about the change. The path simply places a person in a location whereby change is allowed to happen.

Instead of grabbing, we receive.

Instead of striving, we welcome.

Like standing in the rays of sun coming through holes in a roof, the only discipline we need is one of remembering to move with the sun as it moves across the sky.

Atheists and other people of the world are not incapable of bringing about character change in themselves. As I’ve said many times, these people can become good, as the world understands good. They do so, however by changing the rules by which they think and do. One set of rules is replaced by another set of rules. The lifestyle itself becomes what is worshipped. Willpower becomes the god.

Don’t handle!
Don’t taste!
Don’t touch!
Say This but not That

“Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” Colossians 2:21-23.

As with anyone who has “overcome” a bad habit by brute force, the will soon becomes our master. As long as we think that we can save ourselves, evil will have gained that much more power over us. We may look better on the outside but it is only a matter of time before the real us will show through.

“How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. Matthew 12:35,36

The changes that we experience as followers of Jesus are changes that we notice in hindsight. They are not goals that we set out to achieve.
One day we look at ourselves and see:

“Hmm, bitterness is not part of me anymore.”

“Well, isn’t that interesting? I’m able to love those I used to avoid.”

Life becomes something of ease. There is no longer the exhausting need to hide who we really are. Our outer self begins to match our inner self. Goodness is not a performance but part of our very nature. God has transformed and conformed us to the likeness of His Son.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, as atheists are fond of saying, “You can just be good for goodness sake,” if you want. But it won’t do you a lick of good on judgement day.

Only an extreme make-over from sinner to saved will count.
“If people use Jesus as an example, we could expect to recognise Him in someone where there is the characteristics of self-effacement, self-suppression, abandonment to something or someone other than myself.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bieber Calls Americans Evil

Honestly? I think he was joking. It can be fun to poke Superman in the eye. We know Americans aren’t any more evil than anyone else - which means - quite a lot. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t inherently different from Canadians like Bieber.

For what it’s worth, Wendy and I took the kids to the Bieber movie yesterday. One Hundred ($100.00) dollars for five kids and two adults. And that’s on cheap Tuesday! And that’s sharing drinks and popcorn!! I know, it’s our own fault for having so many kids but still . . .

Back to how Canadians and Americans are different.

The main difference is that Americans have a deep distrust of their government. I don’t know what percentage it is but it seems like many, if not most Americans have this crazy idea that their government might lie to them from time to time.


In Canada we have no such fears. We know our government lies to us. In fact, we’d be surprised if they didn’t lie to us. That our government manipulates us with truthy statements is taken for granted and we move through life taking this fact into account.

We aren’t shocked when a Member of Parliament cheats on h/her spouse.
That’s what corrupt people do!

Didn’t pay their taxes?

Took bribes?
Yes, and?

Oh sure, this one or that one might have to resign h/her post for a really big crime, but Canadians don’t feign surprise that the sin of another person has been found out. It’s who we are and we accept that. There is no delusion of a moral majority existing in Canada.

And for those few noble souls who get into government for reasons other than to promote their own agenda and line their own pockets, the tidal wave of corruption that flows from the majority swamps their efforts to do the right and avoid the wrong, so the result is the same.

We up the taxes to pay for the leakage and life goes on.
Hosea 12:6 - But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Long Wondered Why

Because my arthritis began when I was ten-years-old, I found myself living vicariously through the athleticism of baseball and football players and Olympic athletes. Their bodies could do far beyond anything my body would ever allow me to do. All my body could be counted on doing was betray me.

It was only a couple decades into my life that I realised that I wasn’t just admiring the bodies of athletes, I was despising my own body. Why in the world would God do this to me? What good is a cripple? Only after I began working as a counsellor was I able to see the purpose in being “in-valid,” in the eyes of most of the world. My body, such as it is, quite simply makes me non-threatening to those who feel very threatened by their own failings as they attempt to navigate the vagaries of life.

“Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.”
Thornton Wilder
“Preconceptions exist in our own head; if we start out with the preconception that God will never allow the innocent to perish and then we see a righteous man perishing, we will have to say, “You cannot be a righteous man, because my preconception tells me that if you were, God would never allow you to suffer; therefore you are proved to be a bad man.”

When Jesus came on the scene the preconception of the historic people of God was this - “We are the constitution of God, Judaism is God’s ordination, therefore You cannot be Messiah,” and they crucified Him.

Our Lord said that His Church would be so completely taken up with its precedents and preconceptions that when He came they would not see Him because they were taken up with another point of view.

The question for each of us to ask ourselves is this: Would I recognise God if He came in a way I was not prepare for?”

Monday, February 21, 2011

The North American Native

They’re quite popular in Europe you know.




First Nations People

In Canada what they call themselves keeps evolving.

Europeans are caught up in the romance of our aboriginals. A man from one of our daughter’s home Reserve is working,

as an “Indian,”

dressed like an “Indian”

riding a horse like an “Indian,”

for Euro Disney in some Wild West Show. He made a literal fortune (he flies back and forth on a regular basis), and married a Swedish beauty queen. Even when she came over here, walked into the squalor of his First Nation abode, and met the woman and children that he abandoned to pursue his dream in Europe, the beauty queen’s dream of being part of a real Indians’s life did not diminish her excitement. His alcoholism and domestic violence drove her away, but he quickly attracted and married another beauty. This one from the Netherlands. They’re living on the reserve even as I type. Our daughter is trying to teach her English.

Ain’t life something?

So what’s this got to do with anything? Well, I’ve said in the past that moving through life with Jesus as my guide has allowed me to “step into life’s sorrows, tragedies and loss with eyes wide open and chest bared to the blast.” When I say “chest bared to the blast,” I have a picture of an North American Indian on his horse, facing into a storm with stoic ferocity, unbent, unafraid.

I’ve also said before that we humans spend so much time trying to squirm out of our problems that we miss any and all learning that was meant for us to receive while spending time in our problems. Because of Jesus, because of His reality in our lives, because of His power and presence, we can stand fast, not with the strength of a stoic (Christianity is the opposite of stoicism) but with the power of the living and risen Christ.

We can refuse to run away; to escape to some worldly safe-haven of alcohol or whatever. Instead we can physically, emotionally and spiritually engage the wildness and unpredictability of life. We can accept the pain, absorb the loss, look tragedy squarely in the eye, for “we do not grieve as those who have no hope.”

We can do this because we are not alone. And as we do this Jesus works within life’s difficulties to make us fuller, richer, stronger followers whose character, little by little begins to resemble His own. Who we are becomes more than we’d ever dreamt we’d be.

There is a saying, “When great trials are avoided, great deeds remain undone.” I would add that when great trials are avoided, our souls growth into Christlikeness is diminished or even aborted.

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control - the result of God’s Spirit dwelling richly in us comes only by stepping into life’s sorrows, tragedies and loss with eyes wide open and chest bared to the blast.
“Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-formed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance. Dealing with burning issues easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the Source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible but not relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle, and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.”
Henri Nouwen

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

“We must reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity; but we must also concede that there are presently no Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”

atheist Biochemist Franklin M. Harold

There are some atheists reading here that seem to have evidence for their beliefs that biochemists don't.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Risen When?

Jesus said, “Know that I Am with you always, right up to the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20).

. If Jesus resurrection is just something that happened two thousand years ago, it has no real power for the present.

. If Jesus resurrection is just something that we experience at some point in the future, it has no lasting impact on the present.

However, if as G. K. Chesterton once told a reporter, Jesus is standing right beside me and behind me and in me and through me, then today takes on a whole new and powerful perspective.

. Jesus is risen now! He never leaves me. He never gives up on me. "I can lie down and sleep in peace because You alone O Lord make me dwell in safety."

. Jesus is risen now! Because of that I can at times reach through the “thin places” and almost touch the reality of the other side where Holiness exists in all purity and power.

Jesus is risen and, as Augustine once said, “Exists in a state that is more intimate to me than I am to myself.”
Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Hosea 14:9 -

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


When Jesus is asked what will be the signs that the end of the age is near, He mentions global warming and people’s perplexity at the raging oceans. He talks about a continuous state of war in the world and famines in many countries and then He says, “The very stability of the heavens will be shaken.”

Of course people like atheists ignore all the warning signs because to admit they are coming true would be to admit that their world-view, their belief system is not just wrong, it’s fatally wrong.

I’ve often wondered what that means, “The very stability of the heavens would be shaken.”

What would that look like?
What would that entail?

I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that beginning about two decades ago, the Heliophere has been shrinking at a fantastic and alarming rate. The Revelation of John seems to describe something like an asteroid striking earth and a third of all living things being destroyed.

How do you deal with several billion human bodies, not to mention the animals?

Of course, such objects have made it through earth’s atmosphere in the past. The vast majority however have been deflected by our main defence shield, the Heliosphere. The Bible seems to say that at least one more is going to make it through.

His Word Lives Forever

Sceptics often mock the words of a book written by “primitive” people.

Primitive? They knew this!

“Earth and sky will wear out, but not you;
they become threadbare like and old coat;

You’ll fold them up like a worn-out cloak,
and lay them away on the shelf.

But you’ll stay the same, year after year;
You’ll never fade, you’ll never wear out.”
Hebrews 1:10-12

Unlike atheists, the writers of this Book also knew that everything material does not come from nothing material without a cause.

I mean, just who is the primitive thinkers here?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The View From Here

John Shea has written about the effects of a rejected heart. In it I see the atheist’s world-view as s/he rejects both Creator God and the effects He has on those who commit their lives to Him.

For example the atheist sees:
. Christian sacrifice or dedication and chalks it up as guilt.
. The atheist is witness to Christian charity and sees condescension toward the poor;
. Powerful preaching - obvious manipulation;
. Conversion of mind - rationalization;
. Peacefulness - ennui;
. Love of neighbour - self-interest;
. Friendship - opportunism.

The excitement for Jesus of the old is seen as pathetic;
The exuberance for Jesus of the young is seen as immature;
The steadiness of faith in Jesus of the middle-aged is seen by the atheist as sheer boredom.

Titus 1:15 - To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.
“There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatised.”
Robert Jastrow

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stop Trying So Hard!

Whenever Jesus’ disciples were caught striving to head to the front of the pack, Jesus would take a child, place this little one before them and say, “This is how I want you to be.” In one place Jesus is recorded as saying, “In all earnestness I tell you - unless you become like a little children you will not enter My Kingdom.”

I work with so very many christians who spend their lives striving, straining, manipulating, controlling, trying by almost any means possible to get ahead as the world defines getting ahead.

These people judge themselves not according to God’s standards but according to the world’s standards.

They find their worth in possessions.
They find their value in having achieved in business or education.
They find their security in wealth.
They find their sense of belonging in being liked by others.

I’m terribly worried for them because I think that Jesus, who “in all earnestness” warned them away from these things may very well say to them some day, “I never knew you.”

Cultivating status is one of the most useless activities that can occupy our time and effort. Yes money and knowledge can bring worldly power. Yes it feels good to be considered an “expert.” But all this as well as the game of one-upmanship that they bring are passing away and are of less than no account in the only Kingdom that counts. Competition is antithetical to the innocence of very early childhood, and innocence is what Jesus counts as highly valued; for innocence frees us of fear and worry and anxiety and anger. Innocence frees us from living lives that are shiny and appealing on the outside but are desolate, cold and anxiety-ridden on the inside.

“We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us - not because we have deserved His love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because He has chosen to love us. We are children because He is our Father; and all our efforts, fruitful and fruitless, to do good, to speak truth, to understand, are the efforts of children who, for all their precocity, are children still, in that before we loved Him, He loved us, as children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Frederick Buechner

Only God Can Do That

Christ’s death and the meaning associated with His death are inseparable.
Christ’s death removed the penalty for the sins of those who place their faith in Jesus. Jesus made Himself our sin and took upon Himself the penalty of our sin.

The word for that is Propitiation:
“He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1st John 2:2;

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1st John 4:10

Jesus’ death meant that He absorbed the complete wrath of God. Why would He do that? Because only God can absorb the wrath of God without being destroyed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Deistic Universe? Hardly!

Contemplating the implications of Big Bang Cosmology, Richard Dawkins once said that, “A fairly good case could be made for the existence of a Deistic God.”

Several times after I’ve posted "Why I’m Not An Atheist," a common comment is, “Well, all you’ve done is prove a Deistic God.”

I have a ten-year-old son (the one who operates in the bottom 5th percentile) who lays his head on my chest when he wants to express or receive love. Even when prompted, he seems incapable of hugging. Nevertheless, whether I’m sitting, standing or lying down, my son just comes over to me, lays his head to my chest and lets me stroke his hair for about a minute. Then, satisfied that he is loved or that he has shown love to me, he runs off and plays.

“If you have seen Me,” said Jesus, “you have seen God the Father.”
“The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus. He lay his head back on Jesus’ chest and asked . . .”

Think about that!

The Creator of the Universe - the Deistic uninvolved God of the atheist world came to earth and dwelt among us.
King of kings.
Lord of lords.
True God, on the night in which He was betrayed had one final meal with His closest followers. These men had spent three years with Jesus and He had profoundly changed their characters and their lives.

The youngest of the bunch, John, who was probably still a teenager during Jesus’ earthly ministry had found in God the lover of his soul. He’d just been told - again - that Jesus, his closest friend, Rabbi, Mentor, Saviour and Lord was hours away from being tortured to death. The disciples could scarcely take it in. This was the last thing they were expecting from their Messiah. Certainly Jesus had told them repeatedly that He would return to life three days after His crucifixion, but those words had even less meaning to Jesus’ disciples than His prophecy of a dying Saviour. After all, dead men do not naturally rise from the dead. So John, in a cloud of confusion and about to lose the one person who understood him totally, like holding a childhood pet about to be euthanised, lay his head on the human heartbeat of God the Son.

The Being that Dawkins and Harris and others like them call a monster, removed any apprehension of approaching God from these men. He’d accomplished this through the actions of His perfect love that had been demonstrated in front of them for three years. Jesus, God in human form showed Himself to be someone to whom John could come to without fear, or worry or shame.

Sebastian Moore once said, “In religion there always lurks the fear that we invented the story of God’s love.”
In religion, yes.
In a healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus - not a chance.

John had just witnessed the Creator of the Universe strip down to a towel around His waist, take on the role of a Gentile Servant (the lowest of the low) and wash the feet of not just his closest friends, but also the feet of the man Jesus knew would betray Him to death.

When John writes to us, “God is love,” this was not something that he learned in Sunday School. I said a few posts ago,

“We cannot know God apart from community.”

John had read the same Scriptures that we have. Before Jesus introduced Himself to John, John knew something “about” God. Because of Jesus, the Theistic God of Christianity, because of living in community with God, John KNEW God in an intimate, healed and forgiven way.

Jesus said that we too, can have that same type of relationship.

I declare to you the truth of Jesus’ promise.

“God is love” - And - “I am the disciple that Jesus loves.”

There was / is no other reason for Jesus to bring me to salvation other than His love. I had nothing to bring to the table. I had nothing to offer in return for my salvation. All love. Only love. Nothing else explains Jesus choosing to save my soul.

From what John learned during his time with Jesus he wrote decades later - “In love there can be no fear, for perfect love drives out fear” (1st John 4:18). For John, the heart of the Gospel was not a doctrine passed down by some scholar. The Gospel, for John was something born out of his own experience. And the message he passed on to us is, “God is Love.” 1st John 4:16.

Those who lived with Jesus learned that He was the only thing in life that was worth pursuing. When Jesus asked if they were going to leave Him, like most of the others had already done, Peter responded, “Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life!”

I too am a disciple who Jesus loves.
I too rest my head on the heartbeat of Creator God.
I too lie down and sleep in peace.

Only those who have never known Jesus can foolishly suggest that this is not a Theistic universe.
The beauty of being a follower of Jesus is that I already possess that which my soul needs the most; I’m already a member of the only Kingdom that I’ve ever wanted to join; I’m already where I most long to go.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do You Hate Romans 8:28?

In a sermon awhile back it was mentioned, “All things work together for good for those who love Him, those who have been called according to His purpose.”

I remember a few months back an atheist saying something about what a huge lie that verse is.

Remembering what he said just struck me as so very sad. This verse is a promise that Jesus has kept to the letter in every circumstance of my life. This is one of the most awesome promises in the Bible and it’s off limits to those on the outside looking in.

Atheists read the first six words of the verse, ignore than last fourteen words and declare the verse to be a lie.

That is so profoundly sad.

Thank you Lord for Your presence and mercy and grace and love and more than anything, for Your salvation.
“Human DNA contains more specified, formulated, coded information than an entire set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. If a full line of text of the encyclopaedia were to arrive in computer code from outer space, most people, atheists included, would regard this as proof positive of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. But when we see this in nature x 1,000,000, it is explained away by atheists as the working of random forces.”
George Sim Johnson

Atheists must do this, of course, because to admit the obvious would be to admit that atheism is an empty, absurd system of blind faith.

Friday, February 11, 2011

See What A Difference Love Makes!

Allowing oneself to be loved by God changes everything.

. Living as a disciple who is loved by God is not some abstract notion or a form of religious diligence.

. Living as a disciple who is loved by God is a fundamental truth that should go to the core of our existence.

And when it does, a profound tenderness for other life is a natural consequence. When it does, our perception of reality is dramatically changed. “There is neither slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor Gentile.” All become worthy of our respect. A little child’s interruptions (I know something of these :-) are cause for a type of worship. Sinners and saints are both seen through the eyes of Jesus.

There are many who take to religion like a duck to water. Their lives and the world suffers because of it.

There are fewer still who allow themselves to be loved by their Creator and their character as well as the world around them is the richer for it.

This is why disciples of Jesus tend to be far more inclined to defend life than lobby for the death of the innocent. Knowing that we are loved by our Creator should create a tenderness toward all others, not just the powerful, wealthy, intelligent and beautiful.

“What is required is to become the Beloved in the common places of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities fo everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.”
Henri Nouwen
“There can only be two basic loves. The love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A New Command I Give You

Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant by that statement? It’s from John 13:34. “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another [as I love you].”

Do you get it? Do you see how it’s different? Way back in the Old Testament we’re told to Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. The new command is, “Love as I love you.” How Jesus loves us is not at all how we love our neighbours or even ourselves.

“Even pagans love those who love them.”

While we were still His enemies, Jesus died for us. Jesus’ act of love took place regardless of whether we respond to that love or reject that love. As those who “love as I have loved you,” our acts of love, and kindness, and self-sacrifice should never be done in order to change someone else. Christians far too often show kindness in order to “witness” or to draw someone to Jesus. If there are strings attached (expectations for someone to change) to our show of love, then it probably wasn’t a decision to love that prompted our behaviour.

We are living in the age of grace. God is good to everyone regardless of their response. Jesus, our example and character goal, came to earth knowing in advance that He would be abused, misunderstood, mistreated, rejected, insulted, betrayed and ultimately have humanity do our absolute worst to Him. Yet He entered into a covenant relationship with us anyway because He loves us. And then Jesus said, “Pick up your cross and follow Me (be like Me, do what I did, act like I did), in your relationship with others.”

So profound is this type of love, so supernatural is this type of love that the apostle John was able to say, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love one another.” It can’t be done without the indwelling of Jesus’ Spirit. Only the love of Christ in us allows us to be willing to lay down our lives for others, regardless of their response to that love.
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Joel 2:13 -

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

God and Arrogance

“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to Him. He grieves that we have forgotten Him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence. God’s sorrow lies in our refusal to approach Him after we have sinned and failed.”
Richard Foster

I’ve heard some people accuse Creator God of being arrogant because He demands our total allegiance. These people of course are simply not capable of thinking of any positive reasons for why God tells us to love Him with everything we’ve got.

Titus 1:15 - To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

2nd Samuel 22:27 - To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you come across as shrewd and deceiving.

Matthew 12:34 - “How can you who are evil say anything good. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The evil predilection brings evil out of the evil that is stored up in him.”

In reality, giving our all to God is the only reasonable thing to do since He is our Creator.

. No one will ever love us with as pure a love as Creator God.
. No one will ever see each one of us as totally unique and special, like God does.
. No one will ever try as hard to make us fully alive as Creator God.

As Paul said, “If God did not spare even Jesus in order to bring us safely home, do you think there is anything else that is good that He would withhold from us?”

Jesus went to the cross FOR YOU. That isn’t arrogance. That’s love. And He did that knowing who you are, who you have been and who you’ll be in the future. God is not afraid of stepping into the messy places of our lives. He did it while He walked the earth and He’ll do it again now, if only you’ll let Him.

That isn’t arrogance.
That’s love.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Not Fazed!

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us - who was raised to life for us! - is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate You.
We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Romans 8:38-39

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Lost It!

It’s a fact that it is impossible to disobey even one of God’s commands or guidelines for how we are to live without harming ourselves. The more that we make up our own rules for living the worse our families, our community, our country and our world fairs. It’s simply not ok to not love our neighbours as ourselves. It’s not ok to lie, to steal, to covet, to worry or to be anxious, to lust and fantasise about someone as a sexual object, to have affairs or to divorce and remarry.

These things and more are destructive to who we are. Justifying them blinds us to the changes in us that need to be made. Yet, these are the things for which we naturally long. So we make excuses for why we should do life our way. Jesus tells to give up our futile and foolish way of doing things.

“He who loses h/her life for My sake will find life.” Matthew 10:39.

This does not mean that we lose who we are or that we lose our will or our ability to make choices. Rather our will becomes one with the One who knows us best. We become able to choose life and life enhancing thoughts and behaviours. Dying to our natural self means that we become abundantly alive - as we were meant to live. To lose our life and to take on the life / character of Jesus is to begin functioning as fully as possible.

To lose our life and to take on the life and character of Jesus is to stop fighting against ourselves, our families and our world.

To lose our life and take up our cross to follow Jesus is to live in harmony with ourselves and with God.

To die to self, to lose the self in Christ is to lose a self-destructive bent and to gain a life- enhancing world-view.

“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passion and desires.” Galatians 5:17,24.
“This new realm of molecular genetics is where we see the most compelling evidence of design on the Earth.”

Biology professor Dean Kenyon, repudiating the conclusions of his own book which originally said that life arose from chemical evolution. He has since concluded that nothing short of an intelligence could have created the formulated, coded information that allows for life, after the Genome Project unveiled the secrets of life. The head of the project, Francis Collins said, “DNA is our own instruction book, previously known only to God.”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Atheist’s Favourite

There are few “religious” authors more favoured by atheists than Bishop Spong. A functional atheist himself, the Bishop has written,

“What does the cross mean? How is it to be understood? Clearly the old pattern of seeing the cross as the place where the price of the fall was paid is totally inappropriate. Aside from encouraging guilt, justifying the need for divine punishment and causing an incipient sadomasochism that has endured with a relentless tenacity through the centuries, the traditional understanding of the cross of Christ has become inoperative on every level. As I have noted previously, a rescuing deity results in gratitude, never in expanded humanity. Constant gratitude, which the story of the cross seems to encourage, creates only weakness, childishness and dependency.
Shelby Spong (italics mine)

Makes you blink doesn’t it? “A rescuing Deity results in gratitude.”

Is that a problem? Spong thinks so.

Mercy tends to induce gratitude where ever it is found.
You rescued me from hell?
Thank you.

You rescued me from selfishness?
Thank you.

You took this cold, cold heart and gave me the ability to love?
Thank you.

Spong thinks that it encourages “weakness.”

I have never been stronger than since I became a disciple of Jesus; not in my own strength but in the strength of God Himself. “My power is made perfect in weakness.” We are born weak and lost and helpless and without hope of ever attaining full humanity on our own. As a result Paul said, and I agree fully, “I rejoice in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. . . for when I am weak, then I’m strong.”

Spong also says that my dependence on what Jesus accomplished at the cross / resurrection produces “childishness”

Being thankful, something rarely spontaneous in children (children are naturally takers), is a sign of maturity yet Spong sees it as a sign of childishness. Odd man, Spong.

C.S. Lewis in his atheist days also hated all the gratefulness that Christians displayed. He describes his surprise when he discovered that thankfulness and praise actually made Christians and later himself more generous, more open minded, more humble, more stable, more wise, more thoughtful. “The humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.”

The fact is, Bishop Spong, when we are ungrateful we are at our most selfish and immature. When the reality of what God has done for us has fully sunk in, gratitude is the right and proper outcome.

We cannot expect an atheist to ever understand that.

Here Comes Sunday!

“It astonishes me how many Christians watch the same banal, empty, silly, trivial, titillating, suggestive, immodest TV shows that most unbelievers watch - and then wonder why their spiritual lives are weak and their worship experience is shallow with no intensity. If you really want to hear the Word of God the way He means to be heard in truth and joy and power, turn off the television on Saturday night and read something true and great and beautiful and pure and honourable and excellent and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). Then watch your heart un-shrivel and begin to hunger for the Word of God.”
John Piper

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do You See The Light?

Have you ever gone exploring in a caves? Spelunking is the fancy term. I’ve only been in touristy caves - led by a guide - but it was well worth the time - fascinating stuff.

Now suppose you were in one of these caves and whatever source of light you were using failed and failed completely. If you’ve been in that situation then you know the meaning of total darkness. And suppose you were in this total darkness, not sure of which way to turn, fearful because you can’t remember exactly where that deep hole was, not sure of which way leads to the way out. And then from somewhere far down the tunnel, someone turns on a flashlight.

A normal reaction would be what?
To turn towards the light of course.

Something similar happens in real life. Unknowingly we are wondering, lost in a dark cave. The Bible describes it as, “We are strangers here on earth.” Empirical evidence shows quite clearly that we humans really don’t have a clue what we’re doing. When dilemmas arise, an educated guess is the best we can do. Even the most intelligent among us make choices that, at least in hindsight, can be seen as clearly destructive to ourselves and those we love. We are foreigners in a strange land. We are lost - in the dark. Jesus describes us as “Like sheep without a Shepherd.”

A man who was perhaps Jesus’ closest friend wrote, “Jesus was the light. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it. Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”
John 1:5; 3:19,20

Isn’t that amazing? We’re lost, lonely, fearful, hungry and when rescue appears in the distance, we turn away from the light and walk deeper into the tunnel of darkness.

I know the feeling intimately. I’ve been a Christian for thirty years now but I can still recall how uncomfortable I was in the company of Christians or in Church in my pre Christian days. When a Pastor would speak about virtually any sin (and I’ve been guilty of every category of sin that exists) it felt like he was talking directly to me. I didn’t like it and I avoided these encounters where ever possible. The light was presented and I turned back toward the darkness.

You’ve been lost in the cave for seven days. No food. The water is almost gone. And then a light - far in the distance - and a voice, “Hello! Is anyone down there? I’m here to rescue you!”

And you respond, “Rescue me? Do you know how that makes me feel when you say I need rescuing? Why, you must think you’re better than me. What kind of a self-righteous bigot would make me feel like I need rescuing?”

“You’ve been lost for a week. I’m here to show you the way out.”

“There you go again with your holier than thou attitude. What makes you think I even want your help? Go away. I’m sick of all the guilt you try to lay on me.”

As one atheist says on his blog, “So long and thanks for all the guilt.”

What a difference conversion makes! When Jesus opens our eyes to the truth of our situation, the delusion that we are simply on a leisurely hike gives way to the realisation that we are indeed lost and in dire straights.

When that happens, when we see the truth of the situation, in response to a light being shone into a cave where we’ve been lost, when the rescuer shouts, “Is anyone down there?” those who admit they are lost shout back, “Yes! Over here! Help me! Save me! Rescue me!”

Jesus said, “I have come not to those who think they are righteous but to those who know they are sinners.”

Today, when a Pastor talks about some type of sin, instead of turning away I shout out in my mind, “Yes that’s me! Jesus saved me. Jesus loved me. Jesus died for me because I was lost in sin and He brought me safely home. I once was blind but now I see. I once was lost but now I’m found.”

About thirty years ago I turned toward the light. It was the best decision I ever made. Since then, I can honestly say that every year has been better than the year better. Not becauase there has been less suffering and pain. In fact there has probably been more. No, it's been better because the supernatural presence of Jesus has been there with me in the tragedy and loss. In this life you're going to suffer. You can either suffer with your Lord and Saviour - who brings peace and assurance and strength and comfort - or you can suffer without Him.

You are lost. There's no doubt about that. We begin life - lost.
The question is, are you willing to be rescued?

Your Creator is your only source of hope. Power, or position or wealth or education or relationships or science or health; none of these things will lead you safely home.

Go toward the light for the light is the embodiment of Love - the greatest
Love in the universe.

Good luck on your journey.
“The Church is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ and owe Him a common allegiance. They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’s sake.”
Don Carson - “Love in Hard Places”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Hitchens Still Alive?

I sometimes go a few days without checking the news, so not sure, is the man of double-speak still around? I say double-speak because Chris is the man, I think, who said that religion poisons everything - just as though every philosophy or world-view other than religion is good. That is in fact what he wants you to believe. This, even though empirical evidence shows that most of the violence and death and atrocity from the 20th century was generated by movements that were distinctly secular - AND - there is no reason to expect any change in this century even with radical Islam rising.

Richard Dawkins has said, “Individual atheists may do evil things but they don’t do evil things in the name of religion.” Bull! The atheists that did the greatest amount of evil in the 20th century did so because their atheism spawned a seething hatred for religion as demonstrated by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Honecker, Castro, Ho, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Kim, Ceausescu and virtually every atheist that blogs about religion. The point of their agendas is, ‘Religion is harmful. Get rid of it and everything will begin to move toward civil society.’

Marx and Engels put it bluntly, “Abolish all religion and all morality.”

The fallacy in the belief that peace will reign if religion is dismantled is seen in the fact that in the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the October Revolution, the Russian Civil War, the Sino-Indian War, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, the Chinese Civil War and other conflicts around the globe that have killed 100 million people, religion is nowhere to be seen, except as a target for the violence, while atheism is front and centre. Richard Dawkins simply cannot bring himself to admit that atheism was the driving force from which atheists, directing governments made up exclusively of atheists was obsessed with spreading anti-God propaganda, and specialized in the murder of millions upon millions upon millions of believers. Atheist Soviet rulers systematically and efficiently destroyed the majority of churches and killed the majority of religious leaders during a period from 1918 - 1941. This was not individual atheists perpetrating evil. This was individual atheists doing evil in the name of atheism. They were perpetrating evil, all according to the atheist agenda to eliminate religion from society.

To be fair, tremendous evil HAS been done by religious people.
To be fair, none of the evil that has been done can be supported by the teachings of Jesus.

The influence of Jesus in people’s lives produces the opposite of evil and if you are seeing a pattern of evil in someone’s life then you are not seeing a follower of Jesus.

“Belief that you are accepted by God by sheer grace is profoundly humbling. The people who are fanatics, then, are not so because they are too committed to the Gospel, but because they are not committed enough. Think of the people you consider fanatical. They’re overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive, and harsh. Why? It’s not because they are too Christian but because they are not Christian enough. They are fanatically zealous and courageous, but they are not fanatically humble, sensitive, loving, empathetic, forgiving, or understanding - as Jesus was. What strikes us as overly fanatical is actually a failure to be fully committed to Jesus and His Gospel.”
Tim Keller

A man as brilliant as Hitchens should know that it’s we - humans - that poison everything, including religion. His bigotry causes him to direct his rage toward religion and give all other forms of thought, including the one most guilty of death a pass.
If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.
Leviticus 25:35 -

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Can We Know God?

Last Sunday we were told that:
. We cannot know God apart from being in community.
. We cannot change deeply apart from community.

That sounded pretty good to me but the people at our table disagreed. One said that he could know God from studying Scripture at home. The other two said they know some people who left the church / congregation after being hurt by the Church and “they have really grown spiritually since leaving the community of believers.”

Wow! Do I ever disagree.

Here’s why:
. We get to know God by obeying Him. We are on this earth to become like Jesus whose main characteristic is love. If we are not in community, if we are not interacting with other people there is no reason to obey Him in those areas that are most crucial to maintaining community which not incidently is the place most conducive to learning and practising love. I see this most often in the community of marriage.

If we want a good marriage, we are forced to obey God. This is true whether we are Christians or not. The things that make for strong, stable marriages are the things that God commands us to do in our relationships with others. To the degree that we obey or disobey God in these areas, to that degree will our marriages be successful.

For example:
"The husband must love his wife and the wife must respect her husband." (Ephesians 5:33).

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), impartial and sincere. Peace makers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3: 17,18 (insertion of spiritual fruit mine).

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, Holy, and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. And forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12, 13)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

“Don’t provoke or envy one another,” (Galatians 5:26)

Here’s the trick. The things that make for strong, stable marriages, or any relationship for that matter are the things that require our “dying to self.” Strong community requires the kind of love that does not come naturally and when, through the strength of God we obey Him by loving as He loves, THAT is when we come to know God.

For example, when I’m called to sacrificially love my wife, or when I’m required to demonstrate servant leadership in my home, I flinch. I resist. I don’t want to do those things because it hurts my ego. It conflicts with the desires of my natural self which instinctively wants to protect “my rights.” But it’s my natural self that Jesus has come to destroy and when I follow His lead in loving and serving my family, it is then and only then that I realise, “Ah, this is exactly how God loves me. This is what God is like.” I come to know God by obeying Him in community and when I obey Him in community I am changed deeply.

Because I’ve worked with thousands of couples, I know that the first guy is wrong about being able to know God through staying at home and studying the Scriptures. We can know ABOUT God by reading the Bible. God has revealed Himself to us through the Bible so even atheists can know about God by reading the Bible. However, we come to KNOW God in the fullest sense by obeying what He tells us to do in the Bible. That is why Jesus could say to those who “did religious things” in His name, “Get away from Me. I never knew you.”

Dying to self, or Picking up your cross and following Jesus most often means loving others the way that God loves us. The reason that’s what it means is because loving others - as He loves us - is difficult to do. A “cross to bear” isn’t something that comes to us, like an illness, or death or a difficult child. A cross is something that we pick up of our own volition. Loving the difficult to love is just such an example and it’s the main reason, I think, why God brought into being the institution of marriage. For it is in marriage specifically and other committed communities generally that we truly learn what it means to love. Jesus, our example and character goal, came to earth knowing in advance that He would be abused, misunderstood, mistreated, rejected, insulted, betrayed and ultimately have humanity do our absolute worst to Him. Yet He entered into a covenant relationship with us anyway because He loves us. And then Jesus said, “Pick up your cross and follow Me (be like Me, do what I did, act like I did), in your covenant relationship with your spouse.” Jesus also said that if you “Do not pick up your cross and follow Me you cannot be My disciple.” Notice that He didn’t say, “You won’t be a very good disciple, if you don’t pick up your cross and follow Me.” He said, “You are NOT My disciple if you do not pick up your cross and follow Me, become like Me, do what I did in My relationship with others.”

. Regarding those who left the church community after being hurt and saying that they were really growing spiritually, the exact opposite must of necessity take place. Our relationship with God, our ability to know God can only atrophy in that scenario for precisely the reasons just mentioned. Of course we can learn some things about ourselves after a relational hurt. We might even be driven to seek God more diligently after a relationship breakdown, but it is only in obedience to God within community that causes us to grow into Christlikeness.

. Growing into Christlikeness is THE good that God promises to bring out of “all things,” in Romans 8:28.
. Growing into Christlikeness is THE main reason for which we have been placed on this earth. Romans 8:29

So, I agree with the premise:
. We cannot know God apart from being in community.
. We cannot change deeply apart from community.

There was one more point that is part of this package that I haven’t mentioned yet.
. We cannot win the world without community.

Jesus said, “They will know that I exist because you love one another.” The world cannot see us loving one another if we are not in community. The world cannot see us loving one another if we walk away from the community (marriage included) that may very well hurt us. We cannot learn to obey God by loving the difficult to love if we avoid the difficult to love. God loves us - the difficult to love - and we can only know what that is like, we can only come to know God, by allowing Him to change us into those people who love others as He loves us.

Why the Law?

Sceptics often mock, “Are you saying that no one knew they were doing wrong before the Ten Commandments. And I reply, “You don’t know right from wrong even with the Ten Commandments.”

“But I can hear you say, "If the law code was as bad as all that, it's no better than sin itself." That's certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behaviour would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, "You shall not covet," I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it. Romans 7:7