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Back to the Basics: Theology Proper #18 God and THE PROBLEM OF EVIL! (Part 1)

“If there is a good God, why is there so much EVIL in the world?”, my non-Christian friend asks.  And “why do the wicked prosper and the righteous take it on the chin?  If there is a good God,” he continues, “He wouldn’t want evil in His world.  And if He is a powerful God, He could put a stop to it.  Why doesn’t He?

These questions can’t be avoided, especially in light of the February 14th mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (17 people killed and 17 wounded), or the October 1, 2017 massacre of 58 people (and 851 injured) on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada while they were at a music festival, or the April 17, 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA which left 33 people dead.

And that’s only one kind of evil.  How about so-called “natural” disasters? In 1931 the death toll from floods in China was estimated to be between one and four million. In 2004 an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean took the lives of over 280,000. In 1920 the Haiyuan earthquake killed over 270,000. The Bhola cyclone in 1970 left between 250,000 and 500,000 dead. A cyclone in 2008 made landfall in Myanmar (where I am going in August) and killed 84,500 people with 53,800 missing. In 2005 a Pakistan earthquake registered 7.6 on the Richter scale. The official death toll was 75,000 people along with 106,000 injured. Need we continue with additional examples?

But the problem of evil is not a new one.  The Bible does not sugarcoat the issue.  The people in the Bible knew suffering, perhaps much more than we do.

So, how are we to respond to the problem of evil?  (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2018 in doctrine of God

 

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Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) (Part 3)

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-9-05-43-amImagine being the parent of the man born blind.  In Jewish culture physical disabilities were often thought of as God’s punishment for personal sin (see the book of Job).  Even though the Jews did not believe in the preexistence of the soul, some might have even blamed the man himself for his blindness.screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-6-19-21-am

Physical challenges are hard: verbal attacks are often more painful.  And it may be that some said painful and injurious words to the man born blind as he begged for help.  They might have said, “Why should we help you?  You’re obviously under God’s judgment!  Or at least your parents are!”

Imagine how refreshing it must have been for this blind man to hear Jesus’ response to the question, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  The text doesn’t specifically tell us that the man born blind heard these words from Jesus, but it seems reasonable to assume so.

How could another human being make such a categorical declaration about someone else?!  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned . . .”  Who is qualified to say something like this?  ONLY GOD!  And God knows us and our sins and why we experience the tragedies that we do in life.  Jesus not only declared what was screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-6-10-39-amNOT true (“Neither this man nor his parents sinned”) but also what WAS true (“but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him”) (or COULD BE true).  Isn’t it the case that when we are suffering the real question we need an answer to is not “Why has this happened to me?”, but “FOR WHAT PURPOSE am I gong through this trial?”  And they are not the same question.  To ask WHY assumes we might challenge God’s wisdom in sending or at least allowing such and such to come into our lives.  To ask FOR WHAT PURPOSE indicates a willingness to honor God with this trial.  We need to know that our challenges are not purposeless!  And this blind man’s wasn’t!

As the great preacher Steve Brown put it, “Sometimes we serve God better with our wounds than with our wellness!” (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in tragedy

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! (Life’s Tragedies)

Screenshot 2016-01-05 19.36.41

“Unbearably tragic” — Do those words sometimes describe what you are going through? We might overuse the word tragic. Some teenage girls might call a broken fingernail tragic (some teenage guys are too self-absorbed to see anything as tragic!). Real tragedies are a burned-down house, a daughter’s broken engagement, a son’s near-fatal car accident (all of which my family has experienced).

Without the Lord, I don’t know how anyone deals with the tragedies of life! He is our Rock. He is our Comfort. He is the One who sustains us and gives us peace when life is falling apart around us.

I grew up on the King James Bible and I love the verse which says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee” (Is. 26:3). Please notice:

1. “Perfect peace”: Not a tad of calmness or a trace of tranquility, but perfect peace.  Not a peace we manufacture through positive thinking.

2.  “whose mind is stayed on Thee”:  Focusing on Him instead of our present calamity!  Valuing Him above all other matters in life.

3.  “because he trusteth in Thee”:  Trust is not a once-for-all injection of spiritual adrenaline.  My trust in the Lord is tested every day.  Sometimes by small matters; occasionally by large, punch-in-the stomach circumstances.

How about you? Right now?  Is your life more like a new crayon Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 6.40.05 AM“lined up in order, bright, and perfect”?  Or more like “a bunch of ground-down, rounded, indistinguishable stumps, missing their wrappers and smudged with other colors”?   Don’t stand there, immobilized and lamenting your situation.  Allow the Lord to paint the picture He wants to paint with the colors that you have.  Right now.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in tragedy

 

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LOST YOUR MUSIC?

During a recent trip to New Orleans, my wife Linda and I visited the Lower Ninth Ward where Hurricane Katrina did so much damage years ago.  We were appalled at the devastation still visible in that community, condemned houses which needed to be torn down.

Some of the houses still had the symbols painted on them that showed what the rescuers found in the catastrophe.

One of the images that will stick with me is that of a violin covered in dust, lying in the debris of the hurricane’s aftermath.

This image raises the question:  Have you or I lost our music for the Lord?

Questions:

1.  How do you know when you’ve lost your music for the Lord?

2.  How does one go about getting it back?

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in music

 

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