Sola Christos? (Part 2)

Believing that Christ is life and life is Christ makes perfect sense, and I readily quote, “For me to live is Christ.” However, the temptation to declare, “Christ and Christ alone,” and then add to this declaration my success, my abilities, my recognition, my reputation, my contacts, etc. is at times overwhelming. Before I know it, it is no longer, “Christ alone;” it is “Christ plus.”

Paul penned a famous passage of Scripture in Philippians where he discusses fame, recognition, and entitlement and points out that he has every reason to boast based upon these achievements. But then he says, “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (3:7-8).

Like Paul, I am tempted to think highly of my accomplishments, and when I succumb to this temptation—Christ plus my accomplishments—I embrace the enemy’s lie that I can enhance my worth to God beyond that achieved on my behalf through Jesus Christ. But interestingly, when I walk after the flesh in this fashion, instead of life’s inventory being filled with peace and contentment and joy, I find that discontent drops anchor.

Our English rendering, “rubbish” (v. 8), is nicely sanitized, perhaps so our sensibilities will not be offended, or the public reading of the Word will not leave us blushing. Brother Paul literally states that he considers those things he might contribute to Christ as, “the vilest of human excrement.” Somewhere along the way Paul’s word choice was translated, “rubbish.” Even though you may not know Greek, you grasp the accurate options. One word starts with the letter “s”, the other with the letter “d”.

Paul understood that anything he contributed to Christ was derived from his plethora of abilities to perform legalistically apart from Christ’s life. Stated again, he grasped, and stated emphatically, any gain based upon his credentials failed to endorse Christ and Christ alone as the source of life. As Paul considered this, he likened it to something our translators have determined is impermissible to write in a cultured letter written to mixed company including children.

And with that I am fixated upon this: Will it be Christ and Christ alone, in which He gives me all of Himself and His life, or will it be additional “rubbish” derived via my fleshly abilities to enhance life beyond Christ?

Sola Christos! Christ alone?

That Sunday—the ear worm stuck in my head, but I could not sing, “All of you is more than enough for all of me.” Instead, I stood entranced, listening to Father’s thorough voice, nurturing me toward understanding Christ’s absolute sufficiency and my absolute need. I sensed Him cutting through the intoxicating fog of my abilities, and somewhere in my inner recesses, His Spirit revealed my heart’s desire.

I realize this is a simple note in concept, but don’t stumble over it as I have for much of my life. If the enemy can entice us to endorse any supplement to the finished work of Christ, we thereby agree that Christ is less than sufficient.

The question stands. Christ alone, or Christ plus?

God has stated His terms. What are yours?

Sola Christos? (Part 1)

Do you ever get ear worms? That is, get a song stuck in your mind? “We all live in a yellow submarine, / a yellow submarine.” Or, “Under the board walk, / down by the sea.”

We sang a song in church recently that stuck in my head: “All of You [God] is more than enough for me.”

About eighteen months ago my Heavenly Father posed a question and then left me to ponder: Christ alone, Pres, or Christ plus? He did not offer a great deal of commentary. It wasn’t necessary.

This wasn’t a hard question for me to understand. But, it has been challenging to appropriate.

Understanding that Christ is the only means to God—sola Christos, or Christ alone—is clear. Sadly, what is not so clear—at least in my practice—is the fleshly belief that I can add to my life with something of my own ability, and in so doing, enhance the Kingdom of God and perhaps my standing in God’s eyes.

I know the truth of this matter, but knowing the truth is not the challenge. Practicing the truth is the hard part.

Changing the World (unabridged)

Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, said in one of his most famous speeches, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.” There is a healthy balance in TR’s words. Greatness is not hampered by difficult circumstances or tough issues. In fact, greatness would not be great unless there were monumental challenges to overcome. Victory would not be sweetly savored unless defeat had been stared in the eye.

Meeting challenges is inevitable. Jesus said so when He told the disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation.” But rather than launch into a discussion of how we are to deal with personal burdens, I want to spend the balance of this piece talking about our obligation to the greatest issue facing mankind.

Though TR wasn’t talking about Christianity in his Chicago speech, his words apply. “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” Our individual relationships with Christ are intensely personal on the one hand, but on the other, we are to be beacons of light to those around us. We are to be actively intervening on behalf of people against the enemy as he tries his best to ramrod them into the destitution of his agenda.

All around us there are people struggling with challenges spanning the gamut from individual, to national, to societal. The effects of mankind’s consistent decision to live independently of God are evident even though we posture and pose and erect façade’s to hide our poor state of affairs.

It makes no difference what the fleshly tactic of independence is. All flesh is sin and ultimately it renders its consequence.

What calling is more noble than to understand the magnitude of God’s work in Christ at the cross and share that with others?

As TR said, “We cannot avoid meeting great issues.” Indeed! This one affects us all and is the greatest issue in all of history. If we consistently intervene in the lives of those close to us with a lifestyle that exemplifies Christ’s victory, and if we look for opportunities to verbally reinforce this when given the opportunity, we address this great issue and affect the world greatly.

Does this call for us to boldly confront everyone with the reality of Christ’s work?

For some a bold testimony is reasonable. But for most of us, we seize the challenge before us with a lifestyle that consistently demonstrates Christ’s life, and every now and then, God calls upon us to speak a word on His behalf. More often than not Father asks us to lead by example and encourage by word.

In other words, the ability to articulate your victory in Christ as though you were going to make a presentation is not necessary. Your life, and our faith, are not a show. You must demonstrate Christ far more than you talk about Him.

TR said, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” Peter said we are to be prepared to give an accounting of our hope. Paul told Timothy to be ready in all seasons. Jesus said we were to go into the hedges and highways and compel people to join us. In Acts, we are simply told, “Go!”

I can hear it now: The devil is asserting that these thoughts are legalistic because I am talking with you about matters of greatness, influence, and action.

Hogwash! Resist the devil and send him packing!

Our Heavenly Father has privileged us to join Him in changing the world. In the power of the Spirit we should dare great things! Together, we play a great part in the world.

Changing the World (Part 2)

What calling is more noble than to understand the magnitude of God’s work in Christ at the cross and share that with others? As TR said, “We cannot avoid meeting great issues.” Indeed! This one affects us all and is the greatest issue in all of history. If we consistently intervene in the lives of those close to us with a lifestyle that exemplifies Christ’s victory, and if we look for opportunities to verbally reinforce this when given the opportunity, we address this great issue and affect the world greatly.

Does this call for us to boldly confront everyone with the reality of Christ’s work?

For some a bold testimony is reasonable. But for most of us, we seize the challenge before us with a lifestyle that consistently demonstrates Christ’s life, and every now and then, God calls upon us to speak a word on His behalf. More often than not Father asks us to lead by example and encourage by word.

In other words, the ability to articulate your victory in Christ as though you were going to make a presentation is not necessary. Your life, and our faith, are not a show. You must demonstrate Christ far more than you talk about Him.

TR said, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” Peter said we are to be prepared to give an accounting of our hope. Paul told Timothy to be ready in all seasons. Jesus said we were to go into the hedges and highways and compel people to join us. In Acts, we are simply told, “Go!”

I can hear it now: The devil is asserting that these thoughts are legalistic because I am talking with you about matters of greatness, influence, and action.

Hogwash! Resist the devil and send him packing!

Our Heavenly Father has privileged us to join Him in changing the world. In the power of the Spirit we should dare great things! Together, we play a great part in the world.

Changing the World (Part 1)

Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, said in one of his most famous speeches, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.” There is a healthy balance in TR’s words. Greatness is not hampered by difficult circumstances or tough issues. In fact, greatness would not be great unless there were monumental challenges to overcome. Victory would not be sweetly savored unless defeat had been stared in the eye.

Meeting challenges is inevitable. Jesus said so when He told the disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation.” But rather than launch into a discussion of how we are to deal with personal burdens, I want to spend the balance of this piece talking about our obligation to the greatest issue facing mankind.

Though TR wasn’t talking about Christianity in his Chicago speech, his words apply. “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” Our individual relationships with Christ are intensely personal on the one hand, but on the other, we are to be beacons of light to those around us. We are to be actively intervening on behalf of people against the enemy as he tries his best to ramrod them into the destitution of his agenda.

All around us there are people struggling with challenges spanning the gamut from individual, to national, to societal. The effects of mankind’s consistent decision to live independently of God are evident even though we posture and pose and erect façade’s to hide our poor state of affairs.

It makes no difference what the fleshly tactic of independence is. All flesh is sin and ultimately it renders its consequence.

And into this milieu we have been inserted, endowed with power from on high, and entrusted to bear witness. But how does this work for the quiet among us, the introverted, and the shy? In the course of life, what does greatness truly entail? That’s next....

Freedom (unabridged)

Do you hear that? The drumbeat? Between Easter and Independence Day my internal rhythm invariably turns toward the cost of freedom. The thumping drub in my heart comes from everywhere.

Do you remember the final scene from the movie, Braveheart? How about the final scene in Christ’s crucifixion? Do the similarities strike you?

Let me refresh your memory. Braveheart is the Hollywood rendition of William Wallace, the Scotsman who led the catalytic uprising for freedom against the tyrannical, Edward, King of England. In the final scene, the executioner is disemboweling Wallace but grants him a moment to collect his strength and utter a final statement. Wallace summons his comportment and screams, “Freeeeeedommm!” It cost him his life.

The final scenes of Jesus Christ’s life are equally gruesome. Like the liberator of Scotland, the liberator of mankind summoned his reserve of strength and composure to utter words of freedom: “It is finished!” It cost him his life as well.

Freedom is precious.

It must be treasured and hallowed lest it become hollow and the entitlement of those with vague recollection.

Freedom is not easily obtained.

I have peered out upon the sea from the gun tubs on Pointe du Hoc. Strode the beaches of Normandy. I have retraced the steps of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Stood in the squares that spawned the revolts against Communism. I have listened to the silent voices at Bull Run, Pea Ridge, and LookOutMountain. I have stared into the azure waters entombing the USS Arizona. I have climbed the tower of the NorthChurch.

Freedom is not easy!

Freedom is not cheap.

I have visited the American cemetery at Omaha Beach. Walked through the tombstones at Arlington. Touched the names at the Vietnam Memorial. Shaken a hand maimed by a grenade. Stood where King stood and dared to dream. Stared into an eye blinded by shrapnel. Witnessed the handing of a folded flag to a widow and heard the rifles fire their final salute. Prayed with women whose husbands and sons and daughters died fighting tyranny.

Freedom is costly!

Freedom is easily compromised.

Sacrifice, pain, loss, and wounds dim with time. They are even romanticized. Witness that we think little of wearing a cross around our neck, commemorative of our Savior to be sure, but symbolic of the most horrific torture and execution ever devised.

Freedom must be memorialized. But not just in our histories. Freedom must be enthroned in our heart! While our intellects and emotions play a part in properly valuing freedom, neither are capable of elevating it sufficiently beyond the ravages of time, entitlement, and diminished worth. Only the heart can care adequately for freedom—because invariably a heart was yielded so another heart could escape tyranny.

The Galatian Believers compromised their heart’s freedom with legalism. Angrily Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).

What does it matter if I tolerate a little legalism with grace? What difference does it make if I accommodate a bit of self-effort within my testimony? Is it essential that I comprehensively believe life is encapsulated in the declaration of, “Christ, and Christ alone?”

What would it matter if we did not celebrate Independence Day this year? What difference would it make if we concluded there were enough memorials in D.C. and that another honoring veterans of World War II was not necessary?

Why should it matter if we simply went to the lake on Memorial Day? Must we have school children memorize the Gettysburg Address and digest each of Lincoln’s words? Why should it matter if politicians use freedom’s fields for political purpose?

What would be the harm in our minds drifting during the quarterly taking of Communion on the church calendar? Why would it matter if Easter was diminished only to the symbol of a new set of clothes or Independence Day to hotdogs and beer?

Do these treasures of freedom matter? Of course they matter!

But. But, freedom is fragile.

Oppressors are constantly attempting to subject us to the yoke of bondage. If freedom is diminished, then those who died to procure it are at risk of having died in vain. If freedom is not treasured, then it is not worth fighting to recognize or elevate—either as a nation or as a Believer.

Freedom. It is won, but it is not impervious to diminishment.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Here’s to the sacrifice. May you always live true to your freedom! And, may I also follow suit.

Freedom (Part 2)

Have you thought any more about freedom? It’s been on my mind since my last note a couple of days ago. Part 1 is here if you missed it. The Galatian Believers compromised their heart’s freedom with legalism. Angrily Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).

What does it matter if I tolerate a little legalism with grace? What difference does it make if I accommodate a bit of self-effort within my testimony? Is it essential that I comprehensively believe life is encapsulated in the declaration of, “Christ, and Christ alone?”

What would it matter if we did not celebrate Independence Day this year? What difference would it make if we concluded there were enough memorials in D.C. and that another honoring veterans of World War II was not necessary?

Why should it matter if we simply went to the lake on Memorial Day? Must we have school children memorize the Gettysburg Address and digest each of Lincoln’s words? Why should it matter if politicians use freedom’s fields for political purpose?

What would be the harm in our minds drifting during the quarterly taking of Communion on the church calendar? Why would it matter if Easter was diminished only to the symbol of a new set of clothes or Independence Day to hotdogs and beer?

Do these treasures of freedom matter? Of course they matter!

But. But, freedom is fragile.

Oppressors are constantly attempting to subject us to the yoke of bondage. If freedom is diminished, then those who died to procure it are at risk of having died in vain. If freedom is not treasured, then it is not worth fighting to recognize or elevate—either as a nation or as a Believer.

Freedom. It is won, but it is not impervious to diminishment.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Here’s to the sacrifice. May you always live true to your freedom! And, may I also follow suit.

Freedom (Part 1)

Do you hear that? The drumbeat? Between Easter and Independence Day my internal rhythm invariably turns toward the cost of freedom. The thumping drub in my heart comes from everywhere.

Do you remember the final scene from the movie, Braveheart? How about the final scene in Christ’s crucifixion? Do the similarities strike you?

Let me refresh your memory. Braveheart is the Hollywood rendition of William Wallace, the Scotsman who led the catalytic uprising for freedom against the tyrannical, Edward, King of England. In the final scene, the executioner is disemboweling Wallace but grants him a moment to collect his strength and utter a final statement. Wallace summons his comportment and screams, “Freeeeeedommm!” It cost him his life.

The final scenes of Jesus Christ’s life are equally gruesome. Like the liberator of Scotland, the liberator of mankind summoned his reserve of strength and composure to utter words of freedom: “It is finished!” It cost him his life as well.

Freedom is precious.

It must be treasured and hallowed lest it become hollow and the entitlement of those with vague recollection.

Freedom is not easily obtained.

I have peered out upon the sea from the gun tubs on Pointe du Hoc. Strode the beaches of Normandy. I have retraced the steps of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Stood in the squares that spawned the revolts against Communism. I have listened to the silent voices at Bull Run, Pea Ridge, and LookOutMountain. I have stared into the azure waters entombing the USS Arizona. I have climbed the tower of the NorthChurch.

Freedom is not easy!

Freedom is not cheap.

I have visited the American cemetery at Omaha Beach. Walked through the tombstones at Arlington. Touched the names at the Vietnam Memorial. Shaken a hand maimed by a grenade. Stood where King stood and dared to dream. Stared into an eye blinded by shrapnel. Witnessed the handing of a folded flag to a widow and heard the rifles fire their final salute. Prayed with women whose husbands and sons and daughters died fighting tyranny.

Freedom is costly!

Freedom is easily compromised.

Sacrifice, pain, loss, and wounds dim with time. They are even romanticized. Witness that we think little of wearing a cross around our neck, commemorative of our Savior to be sure, but symbolic of the most horrific torture and execution ever devised.

Freedom must be memorialized. But not just in our histories. Freedom must be enthroned in our heart! While our intellects and emotions play a part in properly valuing freedom, neither are capable of elevating it sufficiently beyond the ravages of time, entitlement, and diminished worth. Only the heart can care adequately for freedom—because invariably a heart was yielded so another heart could escape tyranny.

And what of our freedom as followers of Jesus Christ? That’s next.

Born and Borne (unabridged)

Do you hang on to God or does God hang on to you? I ran across Isaiah 46:3-4 the other day. Even though I had marked it in my Bible, it was as though I had never seen it before. “Listen to Me, [Pres]…/ You who have been borne by Me from birth, / And have been carried from the womb; / Even to your old age, I am and shall be the same, / And even to your graying years I shall bear you! / I have done it, I have made you, and I shall carry you; / And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.”

That’s a pretty extensive list of personal vows.

Note that the Lord has had his hands under us from the moment we showed up in the delivery room. Even though you are reading this letter like a civilized, mature adult with all of your dignity wrapped around you, picture your face on the naked body of a newborn baby screaming about his predicament in life. Instead of the doctor’s hands catching you and your Mom’s and Dad’s arms enfolding you, imagine the hands of God supporting your head and back, wrapping you up in your first blanket, swaddling you, proud to be the One holding you.

For all the tenderness, strength, and commitment portrayed in the above paragraph, the Lord vows to be the same to you and me right through to old age. No disenchantment, bad days, mood swings, whims, or pettiness. He simply says, “I am and shall be the same.”

Just to be sure we hear Him right, He rephrases His last statement and says, “Even to your graying years I shall bear you!” The word “bear” implies that the load of us is heavy. But note that does not stop the Lord from making the vow anyway.

Here is my favorite line: “I have made you.” This isn’t a reference to forming our bodies during pregnancy. God is talking about character, person, and personality. He has overseen the process of us becoming who we are. Psalm 78:72 points out that God did this “according to the integrity of His heart” and with “skillful hands.”

As I retrace my spiritual history, I see the hand of God throughout the process, like the time I stood in a phone booth on El Camino Real in San Clemente, California and understood for the first time that it was God and God alone, not God and my parents, or God and the church. He was intent on being my God and proving Himself to me.

I heard from Him in no uncertain terms the day I cheated on my Senior Life Saving exam. Woe!

While reading The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, I experienced God as the Hound of Heaven. He pursued me in spite of all obstacles.

I could take you to a culvert running under a dirt road in northern Illinois where I sat and talked to the Lord about His will regarding my college education. I accepted His counsel and look back to see that He did indeed guide me with integrity and skill.

And on, and on I could go, recollecting how Father has made me. If you think about it, you’ll find that you have a similar history.

“I shall carry you.” This is anything but a simple vow. The word “carry” means to lift, to forgive, to look at with desire, to honor, to marry, to long for, to respect, to shield, and take as His own. Get the message?

God ends where He began and with what He reminded us of midway through the passage: “I’ll bear you,” even when you are heavy.

Run your fingers through your hair. Hold you head a little higher. Set your jaw and fix your eye. You are being borne by your Father Who made you.

Born and Borne (Part 2)

I’m continuing to think about Isaiah 46:3-4. “Listen to Me, [Pres]…/ You who have been borne by Me from birth, / And have been carried from the womb; / Even to your old age, I am and shall be the same, / And even to your graying years I shall bear you! / I have done it, I have made you, and I shall carry you; / And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.”

Here is my favorite line: “I have made you.” This isn’t a reference to forming our bodies during pregnancy. God is talking about character, person, and personality. He has overseen the process of us becoming who we are. Psalm 78:72 points out that God did this “according to the integrity of His heart” and with “skillful hands.”

As I retrace my spiritual history, I see the hand of God throughout the process, like the time I stood in a phone booth on El Camino Real in San Clemente, California and understood for the first time that it was God and God alone, not God and my parents, or God and the church. He was intent on being my God and proving Himself to me.

I heard from Him in no uncertain terms the day I cheated on my Senior Life Saving exam. Woe!

While reading The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, I experienced God as the Hound of Heaven. He pursued me in spite of all obstacles.

I could take you to a culvert running under a dirt road in northern Illinois where I sat and talked to the Lord about His will regarding my college education. I accepted His counsel and look back to see that He did indeed guide me with integrity and skill.

And on, and on I could go, recollecting how Father has made me. If you think about it, you’ll find that you have a similar history.

“I shall carry you.” This is anything but a simple vow. The word “carry” means to lift, to forgive, to look at with desire, to honor, to marry, to long for, to respect, to shield, and take as His own. Get the message?

God ends where He began and with what He reminded us of midway through the passage: “I’ll bear you,” even when you are heavy.

Run your fingers through your hair. Hold you head a little higher. Set your jaw and fix your eye. You are being borne by your Father Who made you.

Born and Borne (Part 1)

Do you hang on to God or does God hang on to you? I ran across Isaiah 46:3-4 the other day. Even though I had marked it in my Bible, it was as though I had never seen it before. “Listen to Me, [Pres]…/ You who have been borne by Me from birth, / And have been carried from the womb; / Even to your old age, I am and shall be the same, / And even to your graying years I shall bear you! / I have done it, I have made you, and I shall carry you; / And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.”

That’s a pretty extensive list of personal vows.

Note that the Lord has had his hands under us from the moment we showed up in the delivery room. Even though you are reading this letter like a civilized, mature adult with all of your dignity wrapped around you, picture your face on the naked body of a newborn baby screaming about his predicament in life. Instead of the doctor’s hands catching you and your Mom’s and Dad’s arms enfolding you, imagine the hands of God supporting your head and back, wrapping you up in your first blanket, swaddling you, proud to be the One holding you.

For all the tenderness, strength, and commitment portrayed in the above paragraph, the Lord vows to be the same to you and me right through to old age. No disenchantment, bad days, mood swings, whims, or pettiness. He simply says, “I am and shall be the same.”

Just to be sure we hear Him right, He rephrases His last statement and says, “Even to your graying years I shall bear you!” The word “bear” implies that the load of us is heavy. But note that does not stop the Lord from making the vow anyway.

And with His vow, what does God do? How does He superintend our days? Next time I’ll offer you my perspective on this.

Good God (unabridged)

May I be brutally honest? Of course I can. I know the relationship we have, but I wanted to be sure before I penned the following paragraphs. You probably get tired of me telling you of the battle I wage against distrust of God. Nevertheless, I struggle to trust. I know it is irrational, circumstantial, and unbiblical. But, aren’t your struggles as well?

Two weeks ago, events lined up in a gauntlet of life that left me so stressed I was having chest pains. Yes, I know I should trust the Lord; I was trying! But therein lay much of the problem.

Suffice it to say I felt abandoned by God and hunted by the enemy. I was on the defensive with God and on the run from the devil, both of which, by the way, are losing propositions. I desperately wanted to hide out and hunker down, but not even a retreat to the garage eased the barrage. (When a man can’t hunker down in his garage, you know life is tough!)

Circumstances degenerated from bad to worse. Ten days later I was dazed and shell shocked. Finally, a break in the action occurred and I grabbed a couple of hours (you thought I was going to say, beers, didn’t you?) to sit down and process the previous day’s casualties, the most significant of which was God.

I had given up telling God what I thought of Him earlier in the week. It was clear my opinion was having little motivational effect getting Him to do what I felt was right. The conclusion appeared evident: God is supposed to be good, but from my vantage point His goodness is speculative and in jeopardy.

It is a therapeutic discipline for me to sit down and write since putting words to paper demands clear thinking and leaves little room for generalization and assumptions. As I began to form words into sentences and examine the presuppositions penned before me, I realized I had fallen into a familiar pit. Like Daniel, I was not devoured by the lions, but I sure had a lot of slobber on me.

For the umpteenth time I came face-to-face with my expectation that God should treat me differently because I am trying hard and doing a good job. Not only is He being unreasonable, it is not fair of Him to show such little regard for my yeoman effort to be good. If I am working so hard to be good, why should He not follow suit?

You may recall some earlier words of mine: “God is not fair, and we don’t want Him to be. If He is fair, then we will all wind up in hell.” Have you noticed that just because you write something down and believe it, doesn’t necessarily mean you will remember it when you need it the most?

I know God is not fair, neither is he predictable or safe. And I don’t want Him to be fair, predictable, and safe. But God is good, and I desperately need to know and believe this about Father God.

I had defined “good” using the term “fair,” and that was a critical mistake. Because I failed to define “good” correctly, and believed goodness to include fairness, I wound up with a perspective of God that rendered Him neither fair nor good. Oy vey!

God is not fair.

He is not safe.

He is not predictable.

But God is good.

I realized as I worked my way back over the battlefield, picking up the pieces of my composure and my theology, that I know a great deal about fairness, safety, and predictability. But, I don’t understand goodness nearly as I need to.

I dropped my perspective, ceased reconnoitering the battlefield, and voiced a new question: “Father, you have listened patiently to me berate and misjudge you and cast you in my own image. I apologize. Jesus said, ‘None is good except for God.’ I believe what He said. Father, would you help me understand your goodness?”

Good God (Part 3)

I know God is not fair, neither is he predictable or safe. And I don’t want Him to be fair, predictable, and safe. But God is good, and I desperately need to know and believe this about Father God. I realized that I had defined “good” using the term “fair,” and that was a critical mistake. Because I failed to define “good” correctly, and believed goodness to include fairness, I wound up with a perspective of God that rendered Him neither fair nor good. Oy vey!

God is not fair.

He is not safe.

He is not predictable.

But God is good.

I realized as I worked my way back over the battlefield, picking up the pieces of my composure and my theology, that I know a great deal about fairness, safety, and predictability. But, I don’t understand goodness nearly as I need to.

I dropped my perspective, ceased reconnoitering the battlefield, and voiced a new question: “Father, you have listened patiently to me berate and misjudge you and cast you in my own image. I apologize. Jesus said, ‘None is good except for God.’ I believe what He said. Father, would you help me understand your goodness?”

Good God (Part 2)

I had given up telling God what I thought of Him earlier in the week. It was clear my opinion was having little motivational effect getting Him to do what I felt was right. The conclusion appeared evident: God is supposed to be good, but from my vantage point His goodness is speculative and in jeopardy. It is a therapeutic discipline for me to sit down and write since putting words to paper demands clear thinking and leaves little room for generalization and assumptions. As I began to form words into sentences and examine the presuppositions penned before me, I realized I had fallen into a familiar pit. Like Daniel, I was not devoured by the lions, but I sure had a lot of slobber on me.

For the umpteenth time I came face-to-face with my expectation that God should treat me differently because I am trying hard and doing a good job. Not only is He being unreasonable, it is not fair of Him to show such little regard for my yeoman effort to be good. If I am working so hard to be good, why should He not follow suit?

You may recall some earlier words of mine: “God is not fair, and we don’t want Him to be. If He is fair, then we will all wind up in hell.” Have you noticed that just because you write something down and believe it, doesn’t necessarily mean you will remember it when you need it the most?

I gained clarity—finally—when I redefined my terms. That enabled me to manage my expectations...and recast my image of God.

Good God (Part 1)

May I be brutally honest? Of course I can. I know the relationship we have, but I wanted to be sure before I penned the following paragraphs. You probably get tired of me telling you of the battle I wage against distrust of God. Nevertheless, I struggle to trust. I know it is irrational, circumstantial, and unbiblical. But, aren’t your struggles as well?

Two weeks ago, events lined up in a gauntlet of life that left me so stressed I was having chest pains. Yes, I know I should trust the Lord; I was trying! But therein lay much of the problem.

Suffice it to say I felt abandoned by God and hunted by the enemy. I was on the defensive with God and on the run from the devil, both of which, by the way, are losing propositions. I desperately wanted to hide out and hunker down, but not even a retreat to the garage eased the barrage. (When a man can’t hunker down in his garage, you know life is tough!)

Circumstances degenerated from bad to worse. Ten days later I was dazed and shell shocked. Finally, a break in the action occurred and I grabbed a couple of hours (you thought I was going to say, beers, didn’t you?) to sit down and process the previous day’s casualties, the most significant of which was God.

Next, the light begins dawning on me—yet again. Sometimes I feel like such a slow learner.