Category Archives: God

Don’t Waste Your Tears

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Tearful Verses

If you ever want to a word study through Scripture that will break your heart, do a word study on tears. Just a quick glance will reveal painful examples such as the following:

  • My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God. – Job 16:20
  • I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. – Psalm 6:6
  • Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! – Jeremiah 9:1
  • And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24
  • Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. – Acts 20:31

But just as there are heartbreaking verses, so are there ones that offer hope for the hurting, hope for the ones who cry.

  • Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8
  • For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. – Psalm 116:8
  • They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. – Psalm 126:5
  • And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4

Don’t Waste Them

A while back I met with a young couple for pre-marital counseling. During the two hours that we sat and talked, I took the opportunity to share with them some some painful experiences from my past. I thought it would be helpful for them to hear from someone who knew what consequences felt like, what it was like to shed tears.

wedding picture fourYou see, even though my wife and I have been married for over 26 years, we have had our share of pain; we’ve shed our bottles full of tears. And precisely because of those times, I was able to look into that young couple’s eyes and say with all authority, “Do it God’s way! It’s worth it!”

King David knew what it was like to experience God’s chastisement, but he also knew something good would come from it. He said, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Part of that joy, I believe, is when we see the fruit of yielding ourselves to the Father and seeing Him use our tears to water the seeds of wisdom we sow into others.

Tears are inevitable; everyone will shed them. The tragedy is when no lesson is learned, God is not trusted, and what could have been turned into joy sours the pillow of hopelessness.

Without God, tears are spilt; with God, no tear is wasted.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Life Lessons, ministry

I’m Just a Simple Preacher

“Simple Preacher”

I’m just a simple ol’ preacher
I know what I know, I think
But when I’m around the scholars
I find that my knowledge stinks

They impress with their didactic polemics
And their proofs of amanuenses
But at the risk of sounding solipsistic
I know that I know I have Jesus

– Anthony Baker

 

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I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Spice Girls

Do you remember the Spice Girls? Here today, gone tomorrow girl band from the U.K.? They were the ones who recorded the catchy and famous pop song “Wannabe” (I’ll spare you the video).

What was the catchiest part of the whole song? The part that goes:

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

As a matter of fact, just for fun, here’s a link from the movie Chicken Little. The pig and chicken characters do a pretty good cover.

Honestly, I’m not totally clear as to what the Spice Girls wanted. I wouldn’t know a “zigga” from zagga. On the other hand, I bet what they wanted was not what poor Job (in the Bible) wanted, but we’ll get to him in a minute.

Heaven

Have you ever thought about what you would want to see most in Heaven? Assuming Heaven will be your home after this life (don’t assume – eternity is too long for a mistake of that nature), what would you want to see first? Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

Do you look forward to walking on a street of pure gold? Are you excited about seeing things that can hardly be imagined, much less described? What about gates of pearl? An emerald sea? Do you really, really want to meet all the saints of old, including relatives who have gone on before. Angels? A mansion?

Job

Do you remember Job? He was the guy in the Bible (with the book named after him) that lost everything he owned, including his wealth, family, and health. He even lost his friends, especially if you consider all they did was accuse him of wrongdoing.

Job wound up in such a state that his own wife even begged him to just curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job was a miserable wreck of a man who had every reason to want to go to Heaven. Yet, what Job really, really wanted to see first was not golden, bejeweled, or even a thing…He wanted to see God.

Remember, what you want tells a lot about your heart. Instead of wanting to exchange his suffering for a new body; his poverty for wealth; his loneliness for a reunion with loved ones, all Job wanted was to see God with his own eyes, in his own flesh. This was his hope and desire all wrapped up in one.

For I know [that] my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this [I know], That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. [How] my heart yearns within me! – Job 19:25-27 NKJV

What we fail to think about is that when we see God, all the other joys of Heaven will have to seem secondary! God, the highest of all that is good and lovely, the depth of Whose attributes can never be plumbed, will one day look into our eyes in a moment of total realization, understanding, and belonging. What else could compare? Sure, there will be other things in Heaven, but who will care if it takes a million years to get around to some of them?

Tell me what you want. What do you really, really want.

Do you want Heaven, or Him? There is a difference.

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God Did Not Create Another God


Would you take a moment and consider something?

When God created man, He didn’t create another God.

You might think that’s nothing new, but it is a very, very important truth – one that is rarely unpacked when discussing issues of sin and suffering.

There are people who wonder why God, if He exists and is so powerful and wise, created a free agent who could sin (break God’s law).

Others question why Scripture would suggest that Jesus was slain before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20).

The answer to these questions and many more is that God did not create another God, only man.

God has certain characteristics that Man could never have simply because he was created. The most obvious are that he is not eternal, omnipotent, immutable, or omniscient. The most important is that Man, no matter how perfect he was at the moment of creation, was not holy as God is Holy.

If God were to create another like unto Himself, then God would not be God. If Man could be created, he couldn’t be eternal.

No matter what God created, His creation could never be Himself, and therefore not God.

God is eternally immutable, unchanging, therefore He cannot sin. On the other hand, Man is not eternal, nor immutable, so even from the beginning of creation, he had the potential, however remote, to sin. Therefore, even though God did not create sin, nor did He cause Adam to sin, sin was inevitable simply because God created a creature that was not Himself.

Why was it part of God’s plan that Jesus would be crucified, even before Adam even sinned? Because simply creating Man brought with it the inevitable possibility, the inevitable reality, that he would need to be redeemed – because he is Man, not God.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10 KJV

Simply put, the only way sin could have been avoided would have been for God to never create any being capable of freely communing with Him. If he had created a robot, a machine, then sin would not have been inevitable. But since Adam was given the freedom to choose, a will, and since he was not God, the inevitable required an Emmanuel.

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Love Is Love?


What does it mean when you say “Love Is Love”?

Let’s change the words a little and see if the same way of defining love works with other stuff.

  • Rock is Rock.
  • Lamb is Lamb.
  • Bob is Bob.
  • Cola is Cola.
  • Dirt is Dirt.
  • Poison is Poison.
  • Hate is Hate.

As you can see, the words above are not as easy to define by stating that one is what it is. To say that a rock is a rock is to say a diamond is a piece of driveway gravel. To say that dirt is dirt is to equate what my flowers are growing in with stuff people dig up to smear politicians.

Is every Bob the same as every other Bob? Is Coke really as nasty as the generic stuff? Is a stuffed lamb in a toy store the same as the living, breathing, pooping animal capable of growing wool?

If “hate is hate,” then is it equally immoral to hate murder as I could hate my neighbor?

LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing. All it does is confuse, belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.

Is there no standard for what love is supposed to be? Is self-love the same as sacrificial love? Stating that “love is love” doesn’t even clarify whether or not love is a verb or a noun?

That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write (1 John 4:8,16): “God is love.”

What love is supposed to be is directly related to the nature of God. God is the standard. God is the Definer.

Love without God in the equation is a scary, vague, unstable, dangerous, self-serving, undefinable, always-changing emotional term that can be used to justify anything (which can be verified by doing a Google search of “Love Is Love” memes).

Poison isn’t just poison, but love without God is a poison that blinds the heart. 

 

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Filed under Culture Wars, General Observations, God, Love of God

The De-Grandeurization of God

Proud Doubter

Last night I was scrolling through the Facebook posts of a friend. Actually, I wouldn’t exactly call the person a “friend” as much as a former acquaintance. The person I used to know as a young, vibrant Christian student, one who boldly proclaimed his faith, has now become proud doubter.

Look, let me be the first to say that moments of doubt are not uncommon, and far be it from me to cast judgment on those who do. I have had my moments of doubt, and there have been many times when I’ve had to pray, “Lord, help my unbelief.” But one thing I’ve never done is boast about my doubting. G0d forbid!

Yet, as I scrolled through the posts and the comments of my young friend of years gone by, what I saw was one who was proud of the fact that he felt free enough to doubt, even to allow his doubts to affect what he believed about God.

A Blown Mind

Come to find out, my young friend has been doing some study. He has become fascinated with astronomy, specifically the “Big Bang.” As many have done, he has proudly ditched the supposed illiterate belief in a Young Earth creation and taken off full bore down the road of “true” science. He has been blown away by the scientific “evidence” that led him not only to doubt his earlier beliefs, but to look forward to other areas in which his understanding of God may be changed.

In other words, because of what my young friend has now learned, he is looking forward to the de-grandeurization of his God.

Did God?

If you will remember, it was Satan, in the Garden of Eden, who posed the first doubt-inducing question, “Did God…?” This led to Eve questioning the motives of her Creator.

Unfortunately, developments in modern science have been used in the very same way to create doubt, to cause believers to question the abilities of their Creator. They look at the marvelous works of creation and ultimately conclude that it was natural forces which created what we now see, not God. By doing so, they unwittingly fall prey to the gradual undermining of their faith, going from one “enlightening” conclusion to another, saying: “Well, if what I believed there is not true, then what else about God is not true?”

They proudly march forward with a presupposition of doubt leading the way, redefining God and His creation.

The Declaration 

Most detailed image of the Crab Nebula

Credit: NASA, ESA and Allison Loll/Jeff Hester (Arizona State University). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

But here’s the thing: Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Even more, Psalm 97:6 says, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.”

Is the universe expanding? Yes, it is. But what does that necessarily mean about God? The universe is expanding, and men are made up of the same elements found in stars. Does this mean that believing God created the heavens, including man, “as is” is out of the realm of possibility?

The God I serve is so big, so powerful, so awesome, so grand that when He said, “Let there be…” it was. There’s no reason to doubt, even if it doesn’t all make sense.

After all, the grandeur of creation was created out of nothing. If God could do that, then nothing is impossible for Him. Science doesn’t have to disprove anything; it should be declaring.

I’m a proud believer.

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The Witness of a Mother’s Love

The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the love of a mother…therefore, we are without excuse.

Marie Baker. My Mother :-)

Marie Baker. My Mother 🙂

Listen to “The Mother’s Day Song” (by Anthony Baker)

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What Are the Five Solas, and Did Elvis Sing About Them?

‘O Sole Mio

When I am driving long distances, particularly when I’m alone (as far as I know), I sometimes sing aloud certain songs to keep me alert. Sometimes I sing songs I know well, and other times I make up lyrics to fill in the gaps for songs I know little of.

One particular song is “‘O Sole Mio,” or “It’s Now Or Never.” I will usually sing to myself and use the words interchangeably, adding in what I know of the chorus of “It’s Now Or Never,” then make up the rest from there. The whole idea is to sing loudly, operatically, in order to keep the blood and oxygen flowing, but sometimes my own lyrics crack me up, especially when I expand on the sexually predatory characteristics of Elvis’ version.

Credit: Wikipedia

Actually, the older (1898) Neapolitan song has nothing to do with the English-language hit recorded by Elvis Presley in 1960. ‘O sole mio actually translates into “my sunshine,” while It’s now or never translates into: “I’m so turned on by your looks that we should have a one-night-stand…I’m outa here come daylight.”

So why am I telling you this? I’m glad you asked.

Sole is the Italian word for “sun.” Luce del sole is Italian for “sunlight.” So, by way of a totally unrelated personal story, I want to segue into something that should be important to us all… I want to shine some luce del sole on the Solas 🙂

“It’s now or never . . .” (Elvis)

The Five Solas

Sola is the Latin word for “alone,” and for a practically 500 years non-Catholics (such as myself) have held five particular “solas” near and dear to our theological hearts.

1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
2. Sola fide: “faith alone”
3. Sola gratia: “grace alone”
4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”

What do they mean? Well, nothing Elvis Presley was singing about, that’s for sure. The following can be found on a great website whose link is already on my sidebar, GotQuestions.org.

Sola scriptura emphasizes the Bible alone as the source of authority for Christians. By saying, “Scripture alone,” the Reformers rejected both the divine authority of the Roman Catholic Pope and confidence in sacred tradition. Only the Bible was “inspired by God” (2 Peter 1:20-21) and “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Anything taught by the Pope or in tradition that contradicted the Bible was to be rejected. Sola scriptura also fueled the translation of the Bible into German, French, English, and other languages, and prompted Bible teaching in the common languages of the day, rather than in Latin.

Sola fide emphasizes salvation as a free gift. The Roman Catholic Church of the time emphasized the use of indulgences (donating money) to buy status with God. Good works, including baptism, were seen as required for salvation. Sola fide stated that salvation is a free gift to all who accept it by faith (John 3:16). Salvation is not based on human effort or good deeds (Ephesians 2:9).

Sola gratia emphasizes grace as the reason for our salvation. In other words, salvation comes from what God has done rather than what we do. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Solo Christo (sometimes listed as Solus Christus, “through Christ alone”) emphasizes the role of Jesus in salvation. The Roman Catholic tradition had placed church leaders such as priests in the role of intercessor between the laity and God. Reformers emphasized Jesus’ role as our “high priest” who intercedes on our behalf before the Father. Hebrews 4:15 teaches, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is the One who offers access to God, not a human spiritual leader.

Soli Deo gloria emphasizes the glory of God as the goal of life. Rather than striving to please church leaders, keep a list of rules, or guard our own interests, our goal is to glorify the Lord. The idea of soli Deo gloria is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The five solas of the Protestant Reformation offered a strong corrective to the faulty practices and beliefs of the time, and they remain relevant today. We are called to focus on Scripture, accept salvation by grace through faith, magnify Christ, and live for God’s glory.  © Copyright 2002-2017 Got Questions Ministries

Never heard of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation before today? Well, I hope this shed some sunlight – luce del sole – on them for you 😉

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Filed under Christianity, God, grace, Martin Luther, Theology

If We Could Only Comprehend!

This morning my prayer for you (and myself) will be the same as what the apostle Paul prayed…

I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 CSB

Oh, that we might comprehend the width, the length, the height, and the depth of God’s love through Jesus Christ! If we could only even slightly comprehend the vast, expansive spread before us, mercy and grace for every need; the never-ending, eternal, infinite promise of his love and care; the heights to which we are raised, far above the lowly, humble truth of our natural condition and state; and the depths of Christ’s love – humble depths to which the love of God had to reach down in order to pluck us from the pit of sin… If we could only even slightly comprehend them!

Yet, through His strength (v. 16), and being rooted and grounded in His love (v. 17), it is possible! Hallelujah! Because He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us! (v. 20 NKJV)

This morning, and every morning, to God the Father be all glory in the church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, wherever they may be, forever and ever, “world without end” (v. 20).

And all the people said… “AMEN!!” 

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Something Good Worth Waiting For

I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1

There’s an old saying, “good things come to those who wait.” Where did it come from? Who said it first? I don’t know, although I’m sure it’s traceable. All I know is that the first verse of Psalm 40 says almost the same thing, only what comes to the one waiting is better than anything this world can offer.

Something’s Wrong

Let’s think about some things that have to be going on for this verse to make any sense. First, something is wrong. Why else would David be crying out to God? Something is wrong. Why else would he be wanting God to do something.

Last night I dealt with some serious prayer requests. One thing led to another and I brought up the question that so many ask: “If there’s a God, then why is there pain? Why do good people suffer?” Here’s another question, though: If there is no God, and still there is pain and suffering, then what’s the point? Either there is pain and suffering and people going through bad times for no reason whatsoever, or there is a great plan beyond our understanding, one being worked out by a loving God.

The pain is there, regardless. Why not believe there’s hope?

In God’s Time

The second thing to observe is the fact that God works on His own time table. David cried out, for how long we don’t know, but God’s response was not immediate.

How often to we find ourselves calling out in prayer, “Do something! Do it NOW!” In David’s case, whatever was wrong was more than he could handle on his own; he needed divine intervention. How often do search for immediate answers? How often do we question God and His timing all because we know more about what is really needed at the moment?

David waited patiently. Patience requires faith. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Are you waiting patiently?

To Those Who Wait

To those who wait patiently on the Lord; to those who have faith that God will indeed do what is best; to those who wait God gives something that most do not realize they never truly have – His undivided attention. David waited patiently on the Lord, and He “inclined” unto him.

Picture two people sitting at a table. Lots of other people are at the table, too, just going on and on about all manner of stuff. One person tries to talk to the other, but there are so many distractions. Eventually, when the other notices how much the one wants to talk, he leans over, rests on an elbow, bends an ear, and says, “Now, what were you saying?”

God is omniscient; it’s not like He can’t hear all prayers. But within this verse we get a glimpse into the reality that there is something special, a sweet privilege that comes to those who “wait patiently on the Lord.” To reach that point of communion with the Creator of the universe, to know you have His ear: now that’s a good thing for which to wait, don’t you think?

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