God wants to show us his love for us in the circumstances he providentially arranges for our lives to be lived in. When all is right and rosy in our lives, it is quite easy and natural to arrive at this conclusion. God has blessed me; he must love me. Yet, as all of us who live in this world know, life is not always lived in the Big Rock Candy Mountains. We have troubles and they are never in short supply. If pleasure and ease are the barometers of goodness, it is far from evident in our natural sight that a good and benevolent God rules the universe when there is so much pain and suffering in it for the creatures he has made. By faith, however, we are shown the sufferings of One Man as the very content of God’s love for us. This is Jesus Christ, who through his suffering and resurrection offers to unite us to the life of God. In and with our Lord Jesus Christ, then, God demonstrates his mighty love
You cannot escape it even if you try. The Ebola outbreak dominates the news cycle day-after-day right now. So long as this virus impacts even one American millions of Americans will keep on watching this endless reporting. Once it dies down, at least in terms of being a threat to the US, then we will soon forget about it. Meanwhile West Africans will die by the thousands. I am not cynical about this at all. I simply think that this is the way news goes on day-by-day inside the bubble of life here in the US.
If you’ve ever traveled abroad you will soon realize just how America-centric we are in terms of what interests us. News of the world fills one page in most daily newspapers in the US. It only makes the TV news if it impacts Americans directly. (The one exception happens when a great tragedy strikes some part of the globe and then it will be mentioned once or twice and forgotten.) In Europe the news reporting covers a bit of local interest, the world at large and then America. We have this
I remember when I first heard the Spaniard’s name – Miguel de Unamuno. I was driving my car to speak in Iowa in the summer of about 1998 and the esteemed founding president of Regent College (Vancouver), James Houston, mentioned the importance of this Spanish philosopher for deeper insight into the faith. The course was one on spiritual formation. It seemed odd to me that Houston would mention a philosopher who more than dabbled in some ideologies that would trouble most American conservatives. (They trouble me too.) Little did I know what treasures awaited me in discovering the work of this early twentieth century thinker. But I am ahead of myself. Who was Miguel de Unamuno?
Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (1864 – 1936) was a Spanish essayist, novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher. His best known, and most important, philosophical essay was The Tragic Sense of Life (1913). His most famous novel was Abel Sanchez: The History of a Passion (1917), a modern exploration of the Cain and Abel story. For Unamuno, art was a way
For the record, I have warm personal regard for Dr. John Piper. I have known him for at least 25 years. He spoke at several events for me in Wheaton and I did the same for him in Minneapolis. I respect him for his integrity, courage and godly perseverance through trials and deep challenges. I believe that he has helped multitudes discover a great and awesome God. I also believe he has impacted thousands of young Christians to grow in deeply personal ways. But I believe John does get some things wrong. I have avoided saying this in the past because I do not like to challenge the views of people that I know and love. While bloggers near and far can jump on John Piper's oft-quoted statements I am loathe to join in these criticisms precisely because of my past relationship with John. I place real value upon this past relationship with a brother in Christ even though John and I are not
Today millions of Americans celebrate what we call Thanksgiving Day. My friend Steve Brown wrote in his recent Key Life publication that he’s a little bothered by devoting one day to this or that. “It’s as if the point is: You are a dolt and can’t pull this off all the time, but try hard for just one day.” He says this is something like Pastor Appreciation Day or Brotherhood Week. You can love your pastor for one day and then abuse him the rest of the time. (He is being humorous folks, if you do not know Steve.)
Steve Brown relates that when he is going through a season of complaining God reminds him that he is a lot bigger than he ever thought. He says that this Thanksgiving he will be thankful because he knows that Someone who loves us and who is in “large and in charge.” He relates the story of an atheist friend who was so thankful about the birth of a
Try Laughing at the Devil and Some of Those Preachers Who Think They Understand the Mystery of Divine Providence
When the earthquake destroyed much of Haiti earlier this year Pat Robertson made another of his characteristic public statements about good and evil. Martin Luther and C. S. Lewis, to name only a few thoughtful Christians of their ilk, noted that one of the best methods for dealing with the devil was to taunt him. They urged us to literally laugh at him. Well, I think there is an appropriate time to laugh at the silliness of some public pronouncements made by well-intentioned but unwise Christians like Pat Robertson. Honestly, if I didn’t laugh at such nonsense I would cry or get very angry. So try this “Letters to the Editor” response for a laugh.
Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune Letters to the Editor January 14, 2010:
Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make
Last August, during the now famous Lutheran (ELCA) church-wide assembly in Minneapolis, lightning struck the steeple on a downtown Lutheran church where part of the meeting was being conducted. Since the ELCA voted to accept same-sex marriages at this meeting, a decision which created a storm of response pro and con, the news media covered this event rather intensely. As is typical of these types of events people were lined up on both sides like political parties set to win a debate. Some saw God’s smile in the events that unfolded while others saw a divine frown. Condemnations were forthcoming from all sides, especially from some evangelicals who relished the providence of this particular steeple being struck by lightning. They openly said that this somehow displayed God’s obvious displeasure. At the time I wondered (again) at this odd and all-too-frequent attempt to explain what we cannot, and should not, explain.
Was the lightning an act of God? Well, yes I think so myself. In fact, even insurance policies still use this kind of language about such events. But the question here is really simple: “Do
Pope Gregory the Great said: "The weight of fear is the anchor of the heart.” I see a lot of fear in a lot of Christian hearts these days. President Franklin D. Roosevelt noted in 1933 that fear paralyzes those who succumb to it. Francis de Sales said, “We must not fear fear.” And John Calvin said, “The inward joy, which faith brings to us, can overcome all fears.” But fear we do and fear seems to be in the air since 9/11. If Christians are not filled with anger and rage, at Congress or at the current President, then they are often filled with fear of the multitude of things that they believe can actually harm them.
The fact is a great deal of what most people fear is based much more on nonstop media hype than on reality. And whether it is the problem of immigration or the threat of crime we all tend to
Recently a friend referred to his own developed theory of dealing with pain and suffering by saying to me, “Comparison never helps!” I wrote that statement down and then thought about it for a good while. I have to agree with it at a very deep level.
Here is how this theory works. I break my arm but you loose your arm completely. You feel that compared to me you have it much worse than I do. The problem is my arm still hurts and I am experiencing real pain. For the two of us to compare ourselves, and our respective levels of pain, will serve no good purpose. Your pain is not my pain, end of discussion.
But Christians, like all people, tend to do this comparison shopping of providence all the time. It’s just that Christians can do it with a greater sense of warrant and piety since they believe in God’s active involvement in their lives. But you are you and I am me. We know that no temptation has taken either of us that is not