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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Profound Prayer

I had thrown out an insensitive and stupid comment about Roman Catholics a couple days back, and I made an even stupider comment about prayer. Again, my apologies. Atheists of course mock and ridicule prayer as much as they mock anything regarding Christianity.

I confess that I don’t understand what is taking place, not exactly, when I attempt to communicate with my Lord and Saviour. This I do know. The deeper my relationship with Jesus becomes the more that discernable patterns emerge regarding prayer. For example, when atheists say that prayer doesn’t work, there’s a good chance that they’re right, at least according to what they perceive as working. In other words, there are good reasons for why they are right in certain cases.

. John 14:6 - “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

When we pray without a healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus we simply do not have unimpeded access to God the Father.

. Matthew 6:7-8 - “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

How would your spouse or ANYONE for that matter respond if you spoke to them with rehearsed and rote phrases? It’s ridiculous. Prayer is communication within the context of a personal relationship.

. Psalm 66:18-19 - “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.”

To call God a liar, to say to Him that what He says is wrong is not wrong and then to ask Him to help you out with something doesn’t make any sense. God is love, but He’s not a fool; He will not be mocked.

. James 4:3 - “You wouldn't think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you'd be asking for what you have no right to.”

When you know that you are in a wrong relationship with God, you are right to expect Him to ignore your requests for help.

. Matthew 6:5 - “And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?”

Whether it’s in a restaurant or at Church or anywhere really, if your motive for prayer is to make a show of praying, well, again, that has nothing to do with a genuine, honest relationship and God is likely to ignore you if not discipline such insulting behaviour.

. James 1:6-8 - “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

My own experience has been that the longer I live with Jesus, the better that I know Jesus, the more that I become “one” with Jesus the more likely I am to want what He wants, disagree with what He disagrees with, shun what He wants me to shun, go where He wants me to go, and so on. That means that I will be more likely to ask for what He wants me to ask for and therefore I will have faith that I am praying in His will. I will have faith that what He wants for me is what I’m asking for and my faith will be strong and sure that He is hearing me.

. 1st Peter 3:7 - “Be good husbands to your wives. Honour them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God's grace, you're equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don't run aground. ”

This pretty much speaks for itself. To think that I can be mistreating anyone that God loves and then ask Him for Him is absurd.

. Mark 11:25-26 - “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

Obviously I can’t be holding bitterness in my heart and expect God to honour my hypocrisy. God promises that we will be forgiven only as we forgive others.

. Proverbs 21:13 - “Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.”

God desires mercy, not ritual, not religion. He will not ignore our selfishness and hoarding.

There are times when God does not answer our prayers and there are good reasons for Him ignoring our plea for help. God willing, I’ll finish this post tomorrow.
“God made everything, and we human beings who have been made in His image find our greatest fulfilment, purpose, happiness and integrity in being rightly related to Him. If I do not see it that way then I am out of line with my Maker. I am out of line with the One who designed me and with what I am designed by God Himself to be. I am fighting against myself. ”
Don Carson

Thursday, September 29, 2011

“They Were Astonished”

That’s a line that was used a lot to describe the people’s reaction to Jesus’ teaching.
“They were amazed.”
“They were astonished.”

Oh, baby were they ever astonished.

Certainly it was kind of cool to have someone teach “as one who had authority.” Unlike the other religious teachers (atheists say that Jesus only copied the teachings of earlier religious leaders - wrong yet again), Jesus didn’t try to impress them with how well read He was and how many sources He could cite. That was a nice change. But the real reason that they were astonished? Nobody had ever talked to them like that before.

For those looking for forgiveness?
Grace and Mercy was offered.

For those who thought they were good people?
Harsh doesn’t half describe how Jesus tore into them.

Jesus could not believe how stupid these “good” people were, how cavalier their attitude was regarding eternity in hell. They were so far from understanding His message that Jesus was relentless in pointing out their need for heaven. He did this by pointing out their sin over and over and over again.

They loved watching His miracles
He reprimanded them for it.

They loved it when He fed them.
He chastised them for it.

He told them, “It will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

They were astonished.

They were amazed.

And then they killed Him.
“God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys humanity. He hates inequity as a mother hates that the disease that would take the life of her child.”

God hates evil infinitely more than we do. And, unlike most of us, He did something about it. Jesus came to die and absorb the full force of God’s wrath. The death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ broke the power of evil, undid the effects of the Fall, and opened the door for all time to anyone who will come to Him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Rolling Stone

There are many weird things about Christianity and the Bible and all that stuff. Two that stand out for me today are these.

At Jesus’ resurrection, we read that the “Stone had been rolled away from the tomb.” In reality, the Greek for the word we translate as “rolled” means “Blown away,” “Cast out,” “Thrown away from.” Jesus didn’t just get up Sunday morning, yawn, stretch and cause the stone to grind its way backward in the trench. Jesus’ tomb was blown open so that witnesses could see in, observe the empty grave clothes still wrapped in cocoon fashion and know personally that Christ had risen. His was a victory appearance, victory over sin and death. Jesus rose from the dead in a manner that humans could see and verify the evidence for themselves.

Which makes the next point all the more strange. Why do Christians wear the symbol of the cross? Yes Jesus’ death is significant, but it was His resurrection that brought us into forgiveness as well as proving that one day He can and will provide for our own resurrection. In fact, the cross wasn’t even recognised as significant until almost 45 years after Jesus’ death. Until that time it was the RESURRECTION that held people’s attention.

“A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, What is this babbler trying to say? Others remarked, He seems to be advocating foreign gods. They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.” Acts 17:18

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33

“The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” Acts 4:1-2

To stop talking about someone coming alive after having been crucified is one of those things that is a lot easier said than done. I understand completely why they were not willing to stop. It was THE event that divided history into before Jesus the Christ and after Jesus the Christ.

Fifteen years after Jesus’ murder, Paul wrote, “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scriptures said and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive though some have passed away. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all He appeared to me.”
1st Corinthians 15:3-7.
“Every happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.”
Malcolm Muggeridge

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jesus Prays For You

Isn’t that amazing? Roman Catholics go to Mary and a whole host of earthly no-accounts to try to get them to manipulate God on their behalf, and all along the Creator of the universe Himself is working for them and with them. He has committed Himself to our protection.

Of course the “working on their behalf” is not what we might imagine.

For example, as with all of us, satan was out to destroy Peter, who was one of Jesus’ early followers. Jesus told Peter, “satan has asked permission to sift you like wheat,” (remember from the account of Job that nothing happens in your life without God’s permission or will), but I have prayed for you.”

Jesus prayed for Peter before anything had even begun to happen. Jesus knew that Peter would fail Him. Peter didn’t know it. He wouldn’t have believed it if you told him so.
Even in his failure (and by extension ours) Peter was not alone. While Jesus does not protect us from the trials that we need in our lives, He never forsakes us. He never leaves us alone.
When Peter denied Jesus for the third time, Jesus looked at Peter, I think to remind Peter that He was still on Peter’s side and to remind Peter of His words, “And when (not if) you return to Me, you will strengthen your brothers.”

Peter (and by extension you and I as well) are loved with an everlasting love. Whatever the trial, whatever the pain, whatever the doubts that our wrong beliefs about God may engender, we can be certain that Jesus is walking with us, supporting us, encouraging us. Jesus came to earth in part to know what it is like to suffer the pain of living in our fallen world. None of what we go through escapes His experience and compassion and empathy.

Two Errors

I’ve written before that there seems to be two errors that those considering Christianity tend to make.

The first is to believe that if one becomes a follower of Jesus, all of life will become joy and bliss and free from trial and disease.

The second error is that if one becomes a follower of Jesus, all of life will become drudgery and boredom.

J.I. Packer says, “It must be said that of these two extremes of error, the first is the worse, just to the extent that false hopes are a greater evil than false fears. The second error will, in the mercy of God, lead only to the pleasant surprise of finding that Christians have joy as well as sorrow. But the first, which pictures a normal Christian life as trouble-free, is bound to lead to bitter disillusionment sooner or later.”

I’ve seen this countless times. And in every case that I can remember, is that while it’s the person’s beliefs about God that have been wrong, when proven wrong they reject God Himself instead of adjusting their wrong beliefs.

For example, ‘If I’m a Christian, God will protect me from bad things happening to me.’ This is a very common false belief. Then when the person’s parent dies or they fail a test, or lose a competition, they conclude that God must not be real. Sad but true.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Need for Pride

It’s how seculars hold everything together. Finding things to be proud of is how they survive the rigours of life. It might be a talent, or their looks or their education, or intelligence or their wealth or power or position. It may be their possessions or how they’re “greener” than others, but something will be found. Something must be found for a pagan to feel ok about h/herself. Pride is the answer to surviving life.

“God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble.”

Hmm. What to do?

Well, for one thing, let atheists and pagans go their own way. They’ve got it all figured out. We however dare not follow. After all, how can we be proud when our Saviour, Lord and character goal, Jesus the Christ was humble? How can we serve ourselves when He served others. How can we be arrogant when we look at Jesus on the cross? As Paul said,

“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything that you have is from God, why do you act as though it isn’t from God?”

What does humility look like? On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus, Creator God, The Greatest Conceivable Being, Lord of lords and Kings of kings removed his clothes, wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the feet of His students, including the feet of the one who Jesus knew was just minutes away from betraying Him to death.
“The moral shock suffered by humans through our mighty break with God has left us all with a permanent trauma affecting every part of our nature. There is a disease both in ourselves and in our environment.”
A.W. Tozer

Our Creator has left us with the freedom to do whatever we want; even to reject His Love. No one will be forced to spend eternity with their Creator.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Atheists and Micro vs. Macro

I’ve written often about Atheist Origin of the Universe Mythologies. You know. The twelve or so stories that have been advanced and discarded as to how the universe came to be - specifically without a Creator.

That’s the whole point, you know.

Atheists must have a universe without a definitive space / time boundary (the material infinite) or else, well, or else it proves there had to be a non material Creator. And yes, each and every one of the Atheist Origin of the Universe Mythologies have been discarded precisely because they all break down to a point where they show that a definitive space / time boundary does in fact exist. They simply cannot get away from that reality. Nevertheless, atheists committed to Mythology cling to any one of these stories as true.

AOUM’s are an extension of Oakham’s Razor which says in part that it makes sense to choose the least complicated solution to a problem. Fine. No problem with that. The other part of Oakham however is that as soon as you find a natural explanation that might be usable, you can dispense with the whole Creator God idea.

So each Origin of the Universe Mythology has been hailed as “The One” that sets us completely free of God, only to be set on the shelf when proven unworkable. This leaves atheists to wait for a new natural saviour. Not to worry. There’s no shortage of them. In fact atheists have gone so far as to throw out Oakham and simply declare, “There IS a natural explanation for how the universe came into being. We just don’t know what it is.” Some have even accepted, “If you use imaginary time and imaginary numbers and imaginary space, you don’t need a beginning for the universe.” Thank you Stephen Hawking for that brilliant observation.

Atheists say things like this because if you need a beginning ex nihilo of a natural universe, then you also need a non natural Beginner. That is not allowed in atheism. It causes atheists to twist science something awful. They say things like, “Some things don’t need a cause to begin to exist,” and “Out of nothing doesn’t mean literally nothing.” In the same manner that atheists don't understand the difference between something and nothing, they don't understand the gap between life and non life, nor the difference between adaptation within a species from the huge leap from one species into another species.

Adaptation within a species has been declared, by atheists as proof of macro evolution from one species into another. Evidence for adaptation has taken us to the point that, “We don’t have a natural answer - yet - but we KNOW that we will have an answer some day.” Even though all we should have are transitional stages of animals running around and even though all we should see are transitional fossils, several hundred years is not enough time to find them. And as per Mr. Oakham, we now have atheists saying, “Because evolution is the only natural answer we'll accept, we declare, that’s what happened.”

I wouldn’t worry about this too much. Positing an alternative to God is the life’s work and goal of the atheist. And that’s ok. We all need something to do. Speaking of which. I’ve blown out the lawn sprinklers which means that I’m free until spring. Although I might have to clean off my Dresser sometime in December. And maybe roll coins in January. There’s no way I’m going to force both of those jobs into one month.

Gotta go to the lake - it's 33 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Enjoy!

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

“From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of self as self, the terrible alternatives of choosing God or self becomes necessary, for the centre is open to it.”
C.S. Lewis

The gift of freedom that God has given us carries a huge price tag. Free-will implies choice; and choice implies alternatives.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Without Grace - Nothing

There are some people in our congregation who have been caught up in some movement that has led them to think they need to be keeping the Older Testament laws - dietary laws, cleanliness laws etc. This movement (The Bride of Christ is just one name that it goes by) also tells them that to be saved people must leave the physical Church. This is so tragic. For if we add to God's Grace, we lose His Grace.

"You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Gal. 5:4 (NIV)

"When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace." Gal. 5:4 (Messg)

This is serious stuff that this group is doing.

"So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law. Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because "the righteous will live by faith." Gal. 3:9-11

"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Gal. 2:21

know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Gal. 2:16

Death’s power is limited:

It cannot eradicate memories
Or slay love
It cannot destroy faith
Or permanently hobble the smallest hope in God
It cannot permeate the soul
And it cannot cripple the spirit
It merely separates us for a while
That is the only power death can claim
No more
Donna Vanliere

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Atheists Are Winning!

“Can churches do anything to maintain their relevancy? Maybe we’ve already won.”

That’s a line from the “Canadian Atheist” blog.

It is always with a sense of relief that atheists read reports of declining Church attendance in the West. They cheer this news as a sign that the world is finally headed toward their utopian dream. And well they should cheer. Their relentless message of “no god” is having an impact. Their message of the Bible being nothing more than “a bronze age book written by a bunch of goat-herders” is sinking in. People are indeed leaving the “Church” in record numbers. The ones leaving were never really in a relationship with Jesus in the first place, so the number of His followers is not being reduced, but that’s not the point. In the West Church attendance is down and dropping fast. Not so much for East Asia with China soon to be the largest Christian nation on earth. At any rate, all may not be as it seems. The truth of “We’ve already won,” depends entirely on one’s perspective.

You ever see those pictures of old bearded men strolling up and down the sidewalk with a sandwich board declaring, “The End Is Near!”

It’s true. I don’t know what that means in view of a definite time-line but reality is, rather than the Bible being hopelessly out of date, it is becoming more relevant by the day. Society is moving steadily towards life as it was in Jesus’ day.

“If they hate you, remember, they hated Me first.”

Jesus described the signs to watch for as we approach the Day as being like the birth pangs of a woman in labour. The labour pains increase not just in intensity but also in frequency. The warning signs that He described for His disciples then are looming with greater force day by day. What atheists are witnessing and celebrating is something prophesied long ago.

I can’t help but find it amusing as atheists cheer their role in fulfilling prophecy. The intimate pairing of rising atheism and homosexuality at the same time in history is just one example.

The spiritual continuum used to have a few atheists at one end and a few evangelical followers of Jesus at the other, with loads of christian pretenders and secular hangers-on in the middle. Today there are fewer and fewer people in the middle with both ends digging in. Most of those who were in the middle, functional atheists to a person, have moved into the atheist camp and, I might add, they are doing so in the delusional belief that it’s their intellectual, individual, free thinking self that is making the choice to move.

Nope - ‘fraid not.

Like someone being evicted from an apartment for not paying the rent, God is driving christian pretenders into the secular camp for not making use of the faith they were given. The rate of this eviction is increasing at a phenomenal pace. While God will welcome all He has chosen regardless of who they are or what they have done, those who wish to live without Jesus will find Him packing their bags for them. As the end draws near fewer and fewer are left in the middle.

Ya, atheists are winning. As long as you don’t count spending eternity in the absence of Love as winning.
Slavery to Jesus is the only avenue down which one may escape slavery to self.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forgiveness - It’s A God Thing

Hugo said that I don’t know any outspoken atheists. He must mean except for the two that I hired when I was still working. As well as the one that lives next door and the one across the street, as well as my wife's sister and brother-in-law. She's outspoken to the point of - well, they might read this so I'll leave it at that. The fact is, I love atheists - mostly for the humour and Hugo has provided loads of humour.

A couple years ago I read a book called “The Devil in Pew Number Seven,” or maybe it was number three. I can’t remember. Anyhow, it’s worth getting. True Story. One of the villains of the story, now a convicted murderer got out of jail in 1999 and CNN just did a thing on it. The gist of the article is about the woman, who was 6 or 7 when this guy shot her parents right in front of her and her brother. You see, she's now a Christian and she has forgiven the man. She forgave, she says because of the love and mercy and grace that Creator God, through her faith in Jesus, has implanted into her heart.

Hugo said to me this morning, “You don't understand atheists Rod, so it's time for you to stop pretending otherwise.” Ok, let’s let atheists themselves help us understand them. Let me start with comments from two Christian readers of this article. Then I’ll move on to the humour.

“If any of us have a difficult time forgiving someone who has hurt us deeply, please read this story carefully. Read all 4 parts. I pray that just as Rebecca was filled with God's Grace, we too be filled with the same Grace that allows us to let go and forgive.”

“As a Christian, I serve a God of Mercy and Justice. Thanks to God's mercy I have salvation and so can everyone else, even drunken murderers and terrorists who plot to kill innocents

Now to the atheist humour

“You two are so clueless you MUST be Christians Would you still be spewing such nonsense if this were to occur to your children? You geeeezus fanatics really scare me.”

“But don't Christians (and believe me I'm not one of them but I'm guessing your are) believe that if you repent and accept Jesus you are saved and will go to heaven? Then she very well might see him again. And those who live good lives but have never heard of jesus will spend eternity in hell. Religion is funny.”

“Am I supposed to feel sympathy - compassion - empathy for this monster? If it was my child that he killed I'd make sure he wouldn't be around.”

“The sadness of all this is very obvious....could I myself forgive those that destroyed this family?....absolutely not.....prison or no prison, I would have certainly put more effort into making them pay.....Big Time!”

“This story makes me want to throw up. Oh BOO HOO! Feel sorry for him!! He's a CHANGED MAN. Harris Williams has FOUND JESUS, so everyone should forgive him! What a load of BS. He's a convicted murderer. Speaking of that... he was convicted to life in prison, so why was the guy released after little more than 20 years?”

“If someone did that to one of my loved ones I would immediately extinguish their whole gene pool.”

“While forgiveness has some therapeutic value for the victim it is highly overrated by church people.”

“The predilection to forgive the worst of acts is one of the most reprehensible aspects of Christians. Such forgiveness allows evil to live on, and flourish. Forgiveness is the Christian cop-out”

“Right, we're all weak and spineless. If invoking "God" is the only way you can offload responsibility, have at it.”

What do you mean? Those comments don’t strike you as funny? Kind of focussed on vengeance you say? Kind of filled with hate? You think? Hmm. Well, ok. What makes it funny, at least for me, is that after all these functional atheists fantasise about murder and mock Christians for forgiving, this next guy tries to set us straight about how wonderful atheists are. I'm ready to be educated Hugo.

“Some of us don't need a "God" crutch. While it's true that belief in God can give person strength, it is not true that people can only forgive with God's help. People forgive for many reasons, one of which is they simply don't want to live with the bitterness and anger any longer. Atheists and agnostics forgive all the time”

Ya I can see that. We just read about all the desire to forgive that oozes out of atheists. I guess I didn't understand them after all.
“Face to face with reality, and especially the reality of evil, the faith that understands why it has come to trust must rest where it has not come to understand.”

Life is difficult and suffering is a mystery. But faith, knowing that it believes because of Love freely given, can tolerate mystery.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are We There Yet?

After three years of learning from Jesus about the coming of His Kingdom, after His murder, after His burial, after His resurrection, after His meeting with them for a period of 40+ days, and just before His ascension into the next dimension, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Are you now going to restore the land to Israel?

Now wonder the majority of Jews didn’t accept Jesus as Messiah. Even those who were taught most carefully by Him didn’t get it. Their blind-spot for what the Kingdom of God would look like was huge - as is ours.

The health and wealth crowd of today is not so different from the early disciples. The focus was completely on earthly importance. “Are you now going to give us the stuff we want?” Protecting land and possessions. Hating enemies. Gathering more for ourselves. Worrying about losing what we’ve already gained in worldly wealth.

Jesus brought His Kingdom with Him and demonstrated for them and us what we could have - right now - as we join and become members of His Kingdom - right now.

And what did He bring with Him?
. An unworried trust in Creator God
. A refusal to be anxious or fearful
. A generous heart toward those in need
. Faith, hope, compassion and love
. Forgiveness toward those who intentionally harm us
. An intolerance of bad religion

These are signs that God’s Kingdom has arrived in people’s hearts. Jesus said that He came to give us an abundant life, a full life. He came to make us truly alive and complete. This is not done through keeping rules, although that is a result. Instead this fullness, completeness, this abundant life is gained by a transformed persona whose main characteristic is an overflow of love and grace and mercy.

If you sense Jesus calling you, you can be part of God’s coming Kingdom - right now! If you’re not sure how that’s done, just ask.
For over thirty years it’s been my experience that God has not broken even one of His promises - not one - not ever.

Monday, September 19, 2011

“Come and Die”

Have you considered Jesus’ invitation? “Pick up your cross and follow Me.”
Some religious leaders try to appeal to your sense of greed by telling you that “God will give you the desires of your heart,” and then define a person’s desire as “stuff.” You know, lots of health and lots of wealth.

And Jesus? What does He promise?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it best as Jesus saying, Pick up your cross and “Come and die.”
Further Jesus said, “Deny yourself. Lose your life. Give up everything that the world considers essential.”

Jesus has pretty much told us to do the opposite to what those who are wise in their own eyes tell you to do.

You see, atheists and those who are as dull of mind and slow of thought think that we can just set out on a program of self-improvement and that will do just fine. And it feels just fine to those who take part in such a venture because rather than leading to greater humility, it leads to greater pride. It makes them feel better about themselves. The ubiquitous pride of atheists is no accident. But self improvement is no solution to the worlds problems because the self IS the problem.

The self is the sole problem with which Jesus came to deal. The human heart, the habits and desires and lusts can’t just be improved upon. The human heart must be killed and a new heart inserted. The heart of stone must be crushed and a soft heart, a heart of love must be given. No “self-made” heart can be allowed anywhere new God’s kingdom for it is this “self-made” mind-set that made it all wrong in the first place.

The way of Jesus is the way of the cross; of death to the corrupt self. The kingdom that Jesus brought and invites some to enter is not just something that will arrive in the future. The Kingdom that Jesus brought is right here, right now where we can truly pray that His Will will be done right here on earth as it is done in heaven.

Come and die, in order that you might live life to the full!

Why Do Good?

At the heart of all of our service to Jesus stands the cross. Because we stand forgiven, we are set free to find joy in knowing and serving God. Because the Spirit indwells us, we find we have fresh affections for God and a desire to glorify God.

We do not serve God in order to be forgiven or to gain God’s favour. Rather we serve God BECAUSE we have been forgiven and have received God’s favour as a gift. Gratitude and joy provide the fuel for the believer’s service to God and others.’

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Are We The Same?

“Those first Christians of Acts 2 were not devoting themselves to social activities but to a relationship. They understood that they had entered this relationship by faith in Jesus Christ, not by joining an organization. And they realise that their fellowship with God logically brought them into fellowship with one another. Through their union with Christ they were formed into a spiritually organic community. We must grasp the idea that fellowship means belonging to one another in the Body of Christ, with all the privileges and responsibilities that such a relationship entails.”
Jerry Bridges

Throughout the history of redemption, God has been acting to save a people, not a disconnected group of isolated individuals. He has taken separate individuals and joined them together into a single entity. Far from so many of our modern misconceptions, the Biblical picture of the church can best be described as community; a group of people, joined by a common life, united by common values and a common purpose, devoted to living out this life together within the larger society. This is the type of church life to which God calls us - a life that shines as a testimony to His work in us. His intention for our lives together is more than simply attending the same Sunday meeting and believing the same doctrines. Biblical fellowship is not merely “socialising” - it is sharing our common life in Christ; life that is rich, enduring, and eternal.
“The conviction that Christian doctrine matters for Christian living is one of the most important growth points of the Christian life.”
Sinclair Ferguson

The Christian life is not meant to be an aimless wandering; it is not a journey without meaning. God intends for us to understand who He is, how we are to relate to Him, and how we are to understand our lives and the world in which we live.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Climb the Broken Staircase

The Holy Spirit Works In Us
“And we all, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”
2 Cor. 3:18
The only good we do is what He does in us; it is not that we do nothing ourselves, but that we act only when we have been acted upon, in other words, under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit.”
John Calvin


We Work With the Holy Spirit
“Sanctification is a thing for which every believer is responsible. Whose fault is it if they are not holy, but their own? On whom can they throw the blame if they are not sanctified, but themselves? God, who has given them grace and a new heart, and a new nature, has deprived them of all excuse if they do not live for His praise” -
J. C. Ryle

The intentional pursuit of godliness is a priority here because the Scriptures command it. In taking sanctification seriously, we are taking God’s holiness seriously and the reality of our own sin seriously. It is not uncommon to find some Christians who down play the role of sin in their lives. They think that such talk seems negative or counter-productive. Those in the Word Faith Cult actually treat words like those involved in Voodoo, so they avoid talking about this side of reality.

Few endeavours are more exciting than the pursuit of becoming more like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Far from making us self-centred or morbidly introspective, our pursuit of holiness intensifies our joy as we become more amazed at God’s forgiveness, and more intimately acquainted with our God. Ultimately, our holiness brings God glory as His character is increasingly displayed in our lives. Such mercy and grace provides powerful motivation to cooperate with God’s sanctifying work in our lives and so to “continue the journey” of the Christian life in the context of the local church.

True Love

True love for Jesus involves the whole person. There is an unmistakable inclusion - if not emphasis - on loving God with our minds - with what we think, our values, our opinions, our reasoning, with our view of God and ourselves and the world. The real question is not, “Do we need sound doctrine?,” but rather, “Is the doctrine I have sound?”

The only way for us to know God is for Him to reveal Himself to us. The only place He does this in such a way that we can have a relationship with Him is in His Word.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hugo and Morality

In comments on my post What is this Evil, Hugo has been trying to tell me that he, an atheist, has a moral base for how he lives that is objective in nature. Of course he is wrong. In fact I believe that in previous comments he's even said that he believes morality to be realitive to the situation. Either Hugo has changed his stance, which atheists can and do regularly, precisely because their morality is not objective or he's forgotten what he's said. Regardless, here's why he's wrong.

. If God does not exist, then objective morals, values and obligations (def. below) do not exist.

. But we know from our interactions with other people that objective morals, values and obligations DO exist. We know, and we know absolutely when someone does something “wrong” to us. We don’t have to wonder for one second what our community or society thinks about what the person did to us. We KNOW that we were wronged. We believe that objective morals exist at the moment that we’ve been wronged. So why does that point to God being the source of objective morals?

Just as physical laws are fully realised in the physical world, objective moral laws (Spiritual laws) are fully realised in Jesus and Father God. As I stated before, our daily interactions with others shows we know beyond doubt that objective moral order is as real and independent of our recognition as is the natural order of things. Our perceptions of natural and moral laws are givens of our experience.

. Objective moral Goodness and Obligations are based on God’s character. God’s commands are not arbitrary, for they are the inescapable expression of His Just and Loving nature. And, since our moral obligations are grounded in the Divine commands that come out of His Divine character, moral values and duties do not exist independent of God.

. What God commands or permits is good and what He forbids is wrong, bad, evil, self-destructive.

This is what it means for morality to be objective vs. subjective, selective or relative to the situation. Objective morality is not based on the individual’s character or personality or level of empathy, or that person’s likes or dislikes, sanity or insanity. Nor is it based on the ebb and flow of the community’s likes / dislikes etc..

Why choose God as opposed to you or me or Hitler?

God by definition is the least arbitrary stopping point, the least arbitrary point of final authority. That's what it means for morals to be objective. They have a grounding in a final and ultimate authority.
God doesn’t just exemplify goodness. He IS goodness.
God doesn't just exemplify justice. He IS Justice.
God doesn't just exemplify love. He IS love.

Almost everyone is willing to recognise an ultimate standard of goodness or at least authority. Atheists might choose the government or the community but it most often boils down to themselves. What do I want? What do I like? What do I think is best for me?

Choosing the individual as the ultimate standard of good and bad, right and wrong sets up obvious and irreconcilable issues of conflict.

Any moral construct (don’t rape, don’t discriminate etc.) that is "invented" or adopted by mankind and that is truly good for society, will BE good for society because it coheres with an objective moral principle that exists independently.

Objective means it is right and true regardless of whether you agree with it or obey it or even know that it exists. Again, “objective” (not arbitrary or relative) because it comes from the Ultimate source of Truth, Goodness, Justice and Love - our Creator.

If man-made moral constructs work across time and culture:
. They will work because they are objectively and ultimately right.
. They will work because they are based upon standards that are objectively and ultimately sound.
. They are objectively and ultimately sound because they originate from the character and command of our Creator who is the ultimate source of Truth, Goodness, Justice and Love.

The Christian base for objective morality is based on Truth. In our interaction with others, when wronged, you and I know in an instant that it's based upon Truth. Because it's based upon Truth it helps in the survival of the collective.

The stated atheist base for morality is based upon it's “perceived” ability to aid survival. In reality, the atheist base for morality is what will allow them to do what they want, get what they want. It may or may not work over time. It is something that will change with the ebb and flow of human desire, likes and dislikes, current ideology and the ability to meet our immediate need. As such, at any given time, it may or may not entail truth and therefore is not objective.
“Though our outside shell is wasting away, crumbling, dying, fading from the scene, inwardly we are being renewed day by day, stage by stage, level by level, all to the glory of God. We are more than conquerors with nothing and no one being able to stop us.”
2 Corinthians 4 and Romans 8.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Knowledge yes - Wisdom no

In the last chapter of the book of Daniel, he writes that in the latter years of history, the amount of knowledge that humans possess will vastly increase and that people will be travelling here and there around the world.

What a concept that must have been for him, writing at a time when acquired knowledge was very limited and the term “around the world” regarding understanding what he was saying, was equivalent to our present understanding of "before time began."

Well, we certainly are travelling around the world in ways that were unimaginable even 50 years ago. And we certainly are seeing an increase in knowledge to a degree that the amount that we know doubles every few years.

But wisdom? Mmm, not so much.

In fact, most humans take a look at the knowledge that we’ve accumulated (for example as it applies to origins), they see where it’s pointing and then they make the decidedly unwise decision to ignore the obvious conclusion and go with “magic” did it, or perhaps, “nothing” did it, or even, “none of this is real.”

For these people, anything is better than accepting the truth of a Creator to whom we will one day be held accountable for our decision to deny His existence.

"One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord of lords, and King of kings, true God and Creator of everything that is seen and unseen."

How’d He Do That? Special Revelation:

Special revelation is a means by which God lets us know Him that far surpasses general revelation. The clearest and best known aspect of this means is Jesus of Nazareth.

Because of love, God became human (John 1:1,14).

I’ve said that we cannot be fit to lead until we’ve lived the life of those whom we intend to lead. This God did for us by “taking the very nature of a servant . . . being found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:7,8). Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen Father God” (John 14:10). Jesus requires no supplement. He is “the exact representation of God’s being” (Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus is the best example of special revelation by which God has made Himself known to us. If you're not sure what Creator God is like, look to Jesus.

Monday, September 12, 2011

“Arctic Ice Levels Hit Historic Low”

“This stunning loss of Arctic sea ice is yet another wake-up call that climate change is here now and is having devastating effects around the world,” Wolf said in a statement.

Can you imagine how alarming it must have been when people realised that the ice had melted so much they could see the southern-most tip of Florida and even parts of Louisiana?
Generally speaking, nearly every error in anthropology involves putting us up to be divine like God or pushing us down to be animals like the rest of creation. Only by seeing ourselves between God and the animals do we have both our humility and dignity.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How’d He Do That? Special Revelation 3:

God, who made Himself known through the person of Jesus, who is the incarnate Word is supplemented yet again through the indwelling and working of God’s Spirit. Because of our fallen nature, we deny the true character of Jesus and misinterpret the Bible to suit our own desires. As sinners, we naturally resist every form of God’s revelation. Only through the transforming nature of a healed and forgiven relationship with God can we come to know our Saviour and Creator as He desires us to know Him. This is a redemptive knowledge, a changing knowledge, a transforming knowledge. The very Spirit of the living God subdues our rebellious nature and replaces it with a nature eager to know God and to be known by God.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What is this Evil?

A couple decades ago, I was doing some work in the Federal Corrections system. In my off time, after work, I was doing a lot of reading about satanism. Well, one of the guys that I was working with was pretty - um - spooky, creepy, unbalanced, more than the norm, and the norm was pretty unbalance. Anyhow, I had never spoken of what I was reading to anyone. I doubt that my wife even knew (we have very different tastes in reading material so her pile is her pile and mine is mine) and even if she did notice what I was reading she never had any contact with anyone who could have told this guy. Long story short, this guy comes into the office and after a bit of small talk he says, “Your studying about satanism aren’t you?”

The problem with involuntary facial movements is that they’re, well, involuntary. Noticing the twitch of my eyebrows he said, “I'm a Shaman, my father was a Shaman. My grandmother was a Shaman as was her mother before that. I have powers and I know how to use them.”

Evil, has fascinated me for a long, long time. Evil as an entity, evil as a personal agent, personal, social, and governmental evil - that kind of stuff. I’ve been fascinated with we as humans who give ourselves willingly to evil and thereby become its slave. I’ve been fascinated with evil as we remain enamoured with it even as we watch it destroy our important relationships. If evil is a real entity, like information or logic or matter or energy, and if you are obsessed with attaining power (as is everyone in the prison system (and I mean “everyone”)) then why in the world would someone want to be on the side of the created (satan) rather than on the side of the Creator?

Surprisingly, at least to me, an atheist said recently that he believed evil to be a real entity. That’s almost as shocking to me as when I heard someone say just after 9/11 terrorist attacks, “Until today, I didn’t believe in the existence of evil.”

According to the Bible, God created human beings to bear His image; to possess and display to a limited degree His mercy, grace and love. God created humans to use their intelligence and creativity to manage the earth and walk humbly with their God.

The invited entrance of evil into the cosmos changed everything. Yet, God’s plan for a healed, forgiven and intimate relationship with His creation has not ended. While the presence of evil temporarily adds tension to that plan, that plan itself will not be halted, only delayed.

Whose side are you on?

How’d He Do That? Special Revelation 2:

Jesus the Christ is the clearest example of God’s special revelation of Himself to us. The Bible is the next clearest form of God's revelation concerning Himself. However, Jesus and the Bible are not separate. Jesus IS the Word. While the words of the Bible were written in specific cultures, they apply to every culture. Nevertheless, the Jesus we know through salvation is the Jesus of Scripture. Conversely, the Bible can only be truly understood with the assistance of the indwelling of Jesus’ Spirit and a living faith in Jesus and His testimony regarding the Bible.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Over And Over And Over Again

God reveals Himself

We resist that revelation

Only when we’ve reached the absolute end of ourselves, through illness or death or divorce or incarceration or things like that, only when those predestined to receive the gift of salvation have reached the end of themselves, only then is the existence of God received.

Like those who, finally having a heart attack, begin to watch what they eat, coming to the end of ourselves makes us spiritually teachable.

In the absence of submission to a higher authority, acceptance of God’s existence is not possible.

Sanctification is a work of Grace

Many make the mistake of thinking that we are saved by grace, but that we then become "holy" by our own efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are justified by grace and we are sanctified by grace as well. Grace is necessary in both cases, and it is unmerited in both cases. The key difference is that in justification we are passive, but in sanctification we actively cooperate with the Holy Spirit in receiving and responding to God’s grace.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is this Evil?

However you might define evil (I define it as anything that opposes God’s will) its persistent presence in humanity is forever pulling us toward self-destruction and destruction of the world itself.

We are the cause of evil, and Jesus is the cure.

. Just as Israel is to play a role in the restoration of the cosmos, so too Jesus.
. Just as Israel’s role in the restoration of the cosmos has led to its destruction, so too Jesus.
. Just as Israel, as God’s chosen people was crushed, so too Jesus.

The problem of evil results in the destruction of the world itself. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that we as human beings can do to restore this earth to health. Oh, sure, we have wonderful plans but our evil nature makes sure that we are never able to fully carry those plans to completion. Personal corruption and greed see to that. In fact, we ourselves are so broken that we can’t even recognise that we no longer work as intended. Some, as with atheists, celebrate and revel in our brokenness. They see the symptoms of our brokeness as progress.

Our cosmos, our earth our selves are irreparably damaged. We broke Creation by opposing our Creator, thereby inviting the entrance of evil into Creation.

We broke God’s Creation and only Creator God can restore it.
The ultimate goal in sanctification is conformity to the image of Christ. As we grow to know His love and appreciate what He has done for us, we will also grow in our desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him - “in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Eph. 4:1)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How Important Is It?

Really, really important! What’s so important? Setting right issues where a fellow Christian has a grievance against you.

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there your remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

These verses are not just talking about you happen to be sitting in Church one day, . . .

These verses are talking about something along the order of, you’re standing at the alter getting married. And in the middle of getting married you remember that you’ve offended a brother or sister in Christ - then go a fix the relationship.

How common is reconciliation prior to worship the Christian Church?
How seriously do most Christians take this command?

Well, it’s true that counselling twists my perception of human relationships, but I’m thinking it’s pretty rare.

God is saying, “Don’t even think about trying to worship Me when your relationship with someone else is broken. That kind of worship is unacceptable to Me.”

Reconciliation MUST come before worship. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without reconciliation Jesus will not receive your “worship.”

“ Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” Amos 5:22-24

How common is reconciliation prior to worship the Christian Church?
How seriously do most Christians take this command?

Well, it’s true that counselling twists my perception of human relationships, but I’m thinking it’s pretty rare.
I was just reading in a Time Mag that riots broke out in London a few weeks ago because of wealth distribution inequities. (Sigh)

We do not sin because our hearts are empty, wounded, broken, or in need of love, self-esteem, or significance. We sin because of sinful desire (corrupt self-love) that has not been recognised and put to death.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Emergent Atheists

First of all, I’d like to say to any discouraged atheist leaders, if you fear that your message isn’t getting through, cheer up! Leaders in the Emergent Church have got it loud and clear and they’re passing it on (and getting paid for it, no less) to 100's of thousands of eager listeners.

A couple years ago an atheist expressed surprise that I had some favourable thoughts regarding the emergent church. I’ve been reading here and there over the years about the emergent church and some of what I read is encouraging; emphasising that which has perhaps been downplayed too much in some evangelical circles. Other parts are down right humorous as emergent leaders try to sound, well, very much like modern or should I say, post-modern atheists.

For example, for both emergents and atheists:
. Each group is made up of those who have been hurt, and the many more who wish they had been hurt by a mainline church.

. For both, teaching or saying something as though its a fact and then saying, "I might be wrong," is a sign of humility.

. The Bible is not authoritative for daily living.

. Both want to throw off the shackles of the Church; or more importantly both feel the Church as a shackle.

. God’s Wrath and Judgement need not concern us.

. God’s Wrath poured out on sinners would be an injustice and prove that He is not a God of love. “[Evangelicals teach] God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, and if you don’t love God back and cooperate with God’s plans in exactly the prescribed way, God will torture you with unimaginable abuse, forever,” MacLaren. This quote is so close to what you can find on numerous atheist blogs that either atheists have quoted Maclaren or he is quoting atheists.

. Both say that original goodness, not original sin is our natural state. Total depravity is “biblically questionable, and profoundly unhelpful.”

. Because of the last point, both downplay the importance of the Christian God and salvation. After all, the journey is more important than the destination.

. Christianity, as traditionally presented is exclusive, us / them, in / out and it’s not good.

. Truth probably does not exist, at least not in a form that humans can discover.

. Tolerance has come to mean that someone’s behaviour / lifestyle may be offensive or wrong but - whatever.

. I don’t need God / salvation in order to be a good person.

. We’re going to make the path of acceptance so wide that you can’t even see the ditch on either side. We’re going to make the gate of acceptance so wide that you can’t even see the doorposts.

. Both glorify living in a perpetual state of doubt.

. Both agree that Jesus, if he existed, was a good man

. Both agree that the best we can do is copy Jesus’ behaviours

. Both agree that the most important point of life is to live right and love others

. Post-modern thinking only applies to the Christian religion. The rest of life goes around the course driven by logic.

. Over the years I’ve labelled many, many people as functional atheists. These are people who live as though God doesn’t exist. Emergent leaders live as though God does not and perhaps cannot reveal His nature and character to us and therefore they worship, or journey toward a figment of their imagination.

Oh, and the funny parts? In the excellent book, “Why We’re Not Emergent” Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck say, “aren’t some of the new names [used by emergent leaders] going to be obstacles to faith more than invitations? Won’t many seekers find that we are trying a bit too hard when we have:

. “Fusion Services” instead of worship singing

. “Hire Experience Designers” instead of Pastors

. Call our Church buildings “Incubators for kingdom-inspired, creativity, and social action.”

. And at what point does sitting on the floor talking about the Bible, while calling it “an impromptu but extended tete-a-tete between church members that focuses on the intensity of interpersonal communication” sound more profound than it really is? p.154-155

My guess is that after Rob Bell and Peter Rollins et al. have sold as many books, and taken in as many offering plates that they can manage, they’ll join the ranks of John Loftus and Bart Erhman. As Rollins states, “[Emergents] remain dubious concerning what we believe about God, to the point that we disbelieve the God we also believe in, “holding atheism and theism together in the same cradle of faith”
Rollins “How (not) To Speak To God

If, in a decade or two giving up on a thirst for a healed and forgiven relationship with Creator God is true for the leaders of the Emergent Church - what of their followers?

As Bret Has Pointed Out . . .

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works,” James 2:17,22

We are saved by faith in Jesus alone, but true saving faith will be validated by a lifestyle that testifies to the reality of faith. True saving faith will always lead to obedience. Where there is no Holiness, there is no Holy Spirit.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just Agree With Him

satan loves to accuse us, day and night.
You’re no Christian. Look at how you lie.
You’re no Christian. I doubt that you’re even saved.
You’re no Christian. Look at how weak your faith is.
You’re no Christian. You wish you were just as rich as the guy next door.
You’re no Christian. You’re thinking what she’d look like in just her underwear.
You’re unworthy to call yoursel . . .

Shut-up you little schmuck. That’s right. I’m unworthy. I’m unworthy today. I’ll be unworthy tomorrow. And I was unworthy when Jesus died to pay the penalty for all the sins that you keep yapping about. You say I’m weak in faith. Well, guess what? You’re right. I’m prone to wander. I’m prone to fail. But God gave me enough faith to trust Jesus for my salvation and that makes me a winner and you a loser.
“Conversion is our willing response to the Gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation,”
Wayne Grudem

There is no true repentance without faith, and no genuine faith without repentance.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bret and Hugo

First of all, Hugo - always Hugo. Do you really believe that people do wrong things because the right thing isn’t written clearly enough? Drive the speed limit and you’ll soon see that you are one of the slowest vehicles on the road. Is that because the speed limit isn’t written clearly enough?

Are there 25,000 murders in the U.S. every year because the law isn’t clear that murder is wrong? I mean come on. You aren’t that stupid.

It’s our sinful nature that makes us twist right and wrong to suit our desires. If a "christian" man wants to "rule over" his wife he'll use something in the Bible, like Genesis 3:16 not because it isn't clear to those who want to do what's right, but because he wants to twist it for his own purposes. I've noticed in counselling that our favourite Bible verses say an awful lot about our personalities and where we're at in our journey. The younger people tend to focus on Justice and the older people underline or highlight Mercy.

If a person wants to do what’s right. If a person wants to find out what is the right thing to do, the Bible is crystal clear. Check out this post and see how confusing it is:

So - Bret. As you know, according to the Bible, the man is the spiritual leader of the home. Not because he is better, smarter, more favoured etc. but because we live in an ordered precise universe. Anyhow - A Spiritual Leader Models For The Family:
That’s our job, to show our family what those things look like. If we, as husbands and dads don’t do our job properly, our children, like so many others will view Christianity and Hypocrisy as synonymous. Anybody can go to Church. Anybody can read the Bible. Anybody can Pray. Only someone in an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus wants to live and love as He lived and loved. THAT is what our children need to see from us. They see it most obviously in how we love our wives.

See also:
God is in no way obligated to show kindness and mercy to anyone - least of all to those who have rebelled against His rule. We are completely unable to earn any merit from God; we stand condemned in the courtroom of God’s justice. Yet God resolves to extend mercy and favour to us in spite of our guilt.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Woman's One-down Position

Gen. 3:16 - “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”

I’ve had men point to Gen. 3:16 and say, “See! It says right there that I am to rule over my wife.”

Note the change.

In the beginning, woman was created equal to man. Here, because of sin, a fall in position has taken place for the woman but note this: This fall in position is descriptive of trouble and anguish to come for one reason only. Because of man’s sinful nature, her husband will rule over his wife with selfishness rather than with gentleness and concern.

I find it interesting to note that the word “desire” in 3:16 is the same word used regarding sin in 4:7. It means to control or to possess. In reality, 3:16 means, “You will desire to control and rule your husband, but he will rule over you.”

Like Jesus’ comment, “The poor you will always have with you,” this statement in Genesis is condemning of man.

In fact, some men reading this will only now have the realisation dawn on them that they had taken this verse as license to keep their wives in a one-down position, when instead God is saying, because you are sinful to the core, this is how you will treat your wife.
Wrath is God’s holy response to sin: His personal, active antagonism to sin that derives from His settled opposition to every evil thing. It is therefore right - and even necessary - for God to hate sin, to oppose all wickedness, and to judge all who practice it.

Some think that the idea of wrath is unjust or unbecoming to a God of love. This is largely because we underestimate both the extent and the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God. Not only is God perfectly justified in His wrath, but without it, His very character would be compromised. It would contradict His nature to not punish sin. If God failed to punish sin, He would cease to be just. If He ceased to be just, He would cease to be a loving God.