Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. J.R.R. Tolkien
How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are. 1 John 3:1
*I’m over sixty now, and I’ve always had plenty of hair—a good foot and a half of it in the 1970s. Barbers often commented, “Wow, what a bush!” I think one actually charged me extra because of it. Well, that’s not really the case these days. The bush has fallen over dead! Chemo killed it. They say it grows back and that sometimes it reappears different than it was before. When I was being marinated with cancer-killing chemicals I said that if it comes back blond I’m gonna start surfing. It didn’t and I didn’t.
Instead of a gradual receding of my hairline over decades of aging, I lost all my hair—right down to my eyebrows and eyelashes—overnight. You just don’t look right without eyebrows––sort of extraterrestrial. The top of my head looked like a clear-cut forest. Though disconcerting, my new look wasn’t a complete shock to me. Among all the other unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy—chemo-brain, nausea, debilitating fatigue—the premature loss of my hair seemed trifling. Some people look better bald—but I wasn’t one of them. Continue reading →
“God himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for his wonder.” Thomas Kelly
Speaking of “wonder,” I wonder a lot––mostly about God. I used to wonder if he existed, but since I got that settled to my complete satisfaction forty-five years ago, my wonder is now of a different sort.
“Wonder” itself has a number of connotations. There’s the wonder that involves frustration, another is more of a curious sort, and then there’s the kind that connotes unreserved marvel. My wondering about God includes all three at different times. Continue reading →
By “Preacher Talk,” I’m not talking about pronouncing “God” like it’s spelled “Gaaaawwwd,” or about that practice of adding an extra breath-syllable to the end of each phrase: “God is good–huh! His Word is true–huh! Let’s do his will–huh!” Then there’s that certain preacherly tone that sounds like no one ever talks in real life. I’m not talking about pronunciation or a tone or style.
What I mean by “preacher talk” is the cliché-driven kind of Christianity that preachers often inadvertently espouse when we give our messages. It’s the happily-ever-after-Christianity where everything always works out in this life for everyone that believes and acts right. I’m talking about the formula-driven spirituality that says if we do such and such, God will most certainly do so and so. It often comes out in sermons in terms like, “God always…” and “God never…” Continue reading →
[This is the first of two Addenda to the essay on “What God is Like.”]
God is not made of clay. We don’t get to mold him into whatever form pleases us. We get our information about him primarily from the Bible – at least I do – and I am convinced that the data there is reliable. I believe in the Bible and what it teaches me about God. Though this short essay has taken more of a philosophical approach and is not full of a lot of specific excerpts from the Scripture, please don’t take that to mean that I’m making stuff up about God. In this section you’ll find a primer of Scriptural support for my musings. Any number of other worthy resources on the character of God can give you a much more exhaustive list of passages, to say nothing of your own thoughtful reading through the Bible. In addition to the Bible itself, if I had to recommend just one book on the Person of God, it would be A.W. Tozer’s tiny book, The Knowledge of the Holy. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. Continue reading →
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.Romans 11:33-36
This is my “conclusion” to my essay on What God Is Like (with two addenda to follow), but let’s be real, how does one conclude a conversation about what God is like? Trying to “finish” a study of the Infinite is like snorkeling to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – without fins or flashlight! Continue reading →
[This is the 2nd half of a brief chapter on God’s justice. You might benefit from reading the 1st half first.]
He’s compassionate in distribution
Among us Evangelicals it’s a well-known fact, if not a particularly well-appropriated reality, that God is “consistent in retribution.” We know that his justice is retributive, and when he forgives, he’s being consistent with himself and forgives on the basis of a satisfied justice. Yet, at least in my circles, we haven’t been nearly as familiar with the theme, every bit as prominently taught in Scripture, that his justice is also an expression of his compassion. Continue reading →
I’m ashamed to admit that I came to the table late on this aspect of God’s personality. Though “justice” is mentioned 134 times in the Bible, in my three decades of pastoral ministry I never gave one message on the concept of justice for the poor and powerless. In fact, until recently, I’d never even heard a message on it. (That’s not coming to the table late, as in arriving during the dessert. By the time I became aware of this, the table had been cleared and the dishes were washed, dried, and put away!] Continue reading →