Can God be perfect and not His Word?

The God of the Bible inextricably links Himself with His Word.  He says His Word lasts forever (e.g., Psalm 119:89, Isaiah 40:8, Hebrews 1:10-12) and that all His Words belong to the character and being of Christ (e.g., John 1:1-5, Hebrews 1:10-12).

God tells us He is perfect (e.g., Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 18:30 Psalm 116:5, Psalm 119:137, Psalm 145:17, Daniel 9:14, Ezra 9:15,  John 1:5, 1 Peter 4:18-19).  If God exists, and He says He is perfect, but His Word is not perfect . . . God would be lying, and there would be no truth in the universe.

This isn’t to say there has never been a translation error as the Bible has been passed down, but God’s original Word is perfect–and God protects, and has always protected against copyist and translation errors.  Since there have been multiple copyists of God’s Word, we can trace back to the original even if minor copyist mistakes were made, since different copyists would make different minor mistakes.  And translation mistakes are easily discovered by tracing back to the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew and Greek).  (For a deeper discussion, see Inerrancy and Inspiration of the Word of God by Matt Slick Manuscript Evidence for the Bible by Ron Rhodes, and these free internet videos: Is the Bible reliable as a historical document?, The Manuscript Evidence for the Bible, Scripture Under Scrutiny Part 1 and Part 2.

There’s a backdoor question about the perfection of God’s Word, too:

Was the Word of God just relevant for a time” (in part or in whole), but not now?

If I believe that good is transient, then there is no way I could believe the God of the Bible.  His Word simply does not allow for a transient good.

If I believe good is changeable, then the Bible could never have been correct, because it claims that good is permanent and eternal (e.g., Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 25:46,  Corinthians 9:9).  Since the Word (Jesus) is God, if God’s Word is not perfect (see John 1:1-5), then God would not be perfect (e.g., John 10:9, John 11:25, John 14:6, Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:1-10, Ephesians 2:18, 1 John 5:20).

The Bible could not have been correct in one context but not another, when it clearly claims to be correct in all contexts . . . that would be something like saying, “1 + 1 can equal any sum,” and then turning around and saying, “It was all right to say 1 + 1 = 2 back in 2010, but you can’t say that now.

Realizing God’s Word can’t be correct some of the time and wrong some of the time, only two views are possible:

1.      The Word of God is perfect in every way.

2.      The Word of God is not perfect, and the God of the Bible does not exist.

So here’s what’s at stake: If the Bible is right, Christ Jesus is the only way to salvation, not in some particular culture or at some particular time, but for all the earth, always.

If the Bible isn’t right, there is either another way (another religion or belief system) or no way at all.

The destiny of my eternal soul is placed on my belief or disbelief in the Word of God.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” (Jesus, quoted in John 14:6b, GW)

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Photograph by Kelsey (Love Fusion Photography), profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/supersonicphotos/, website http://www.facebook.com/lovefusionphoto

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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“Why would a loving God allow us to continue in this miserable state?”

I’ve been there.  I’ve asked the question.

But . . . what is the alternative?

Do I want God to stop the world?  If God came right now and fully intervened, as He will one day, our chance to receive Him would be over.  No one else will ever be able to be saved once He comes back, since we are made right by God through our faith in Christ Jesus’ atonement . . . and there will be no more opportunity for new faith once God is fully revealed[1] (see Romans 3:22, Galatians 2:16).

As long as this world continues, as long as there is more time, God is patiently waiting for more people to turn to Him (see Isaiah 65:2, Romans 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9).

Our “miserable state” is a blessing . . . because God is giving more people the opportunity to turn to Him, the opportunity to love Him . . . before it’s too late.

The Bible warns us,
time is running out.
(Romans 13:11b, NLT)

One day, the watch will stop.

The end of the world is coming soon. (1 Peter 4:7a, NLT)


The Lord will soon be here.
(James 5:8b, GW)

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[1] 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that faith will last, but the faith that will last is the faith that started without full knowledge.  When we have full knowledge, we will only benefit from faith if we had the faith before our full knowledge.

I think about a person who risks money on a stock.  If that person banks everything in that stock without having full knowledge the stock will win, (s)he benefits from that “faith” even (and especially) after the stock skyrockets.  Faith is taking a risk and trusting when full knowledge isn’t available.  As finite, fallen humans, we can’t have full knowledge of God.  But we can have faith in Him anyway.

Photograph by Timlewisnm, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/gozalewis/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why do we need healing?

We cannot heal ourselves.  Just as there is nothing a broken toaster can’t repair itself, so we cannot repair ourselves.

We also cannot pay back.  We cannot erase away our mistakes any more than a broken toaster can erase away the time it has been broken.  Even if we could create something new, we are still stuck with the time we spent as our fallen selves, and that time separates us from God eternally.  There is no way we can undo our rebellion against Him, or the rift we have created from Him.  Since we cannot go back and make up for lost time any more than the broken toaster will be able to one day make up for even a single minute of unproductivity, we must hope for someone who can not only repair our brokenness but also pay for the time we have lost.

God must choose to come and save us or else we will stay broken and never be able to pay back the lost time, or the damage we’ve caused by our brokenness.  Just as a faulty toaster can burn down a whole house, our brokenness causes pain and misery for others (and ourselves).

Unlike that broken toaster, though, we chose to break down.  We chose through sin–all of us–to stop working for God.  And what we found is that there is no work we can do for anyone else than will restore us.  The broken toaster is dangerous when plugged in, a fire hazard . . . and we are dangerous when we try to work apart from God, leading only to our own destruction.

But why would God allow us to break down?  Why wouldn’t He have made us so we could never self-destruct?

We live in a universe where living beings have free wills, from angels all the way down to insects.

Humans have a special free will: the will between good and evil[1].  With that free will, we chose to fall.  We have cut ourselves off from the life of God.  And God will not restore us by force.  Just as He gave us a free will to start with, He will give us our free will to end with.  We have to choose to be with Him to live with Him for eternity.  He will not make us.

Our suffering does not mean we were made by a Creator who gave us no meaning or could care less about us.  Our suffering shows things aren’t working out the way they could have been, if we’d followed God’s one rule to stay away from the knowledge of good and evil.  (And that rule was a total blessing, for the moment we broken the rule, not only did we discover the knowledge of evil, but we chose to act on evil.  God’s rule was to protect us from the ability to do evil, but we decided to break His rule and choose to have the ability to do evil–and we chose evil, both at the same time.)

And now we can’t go back to the Garden of Eden and undo Adam’s choice or our choice to follow in his footsteps.  The bad choice we made with our free will has locked us out of using our free will for righteousness!  When we used our free will to fall, our free will fell.

Only with Christ did our free will to choose righteousness once again become a possibility[2]. Christ restored our free will by freeing us from the eternal lockdown sin had on our will, and by wiping away our sin if we use that free will to come back to Him.

Why would a loving God allow us to continue in the state we’re in?

Because He is giving us a chance–all of us–to use the free will that Christ has restored so we can choose His forgiveness and grace.

Open your ears, and come to me! Listen so that you may live! I will make an everlasting promise to you- the blessings I promised to David.  (Isaiah 55:3, GWT)

All whom the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (Jesus, quoted in John 6:37, TNIV)

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 11:28b, NLT)

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[1] Angels have this special free will too, but once they make a choice for evil, they have no ability to come back to righteousness because they have no opportunity for redemption.  I could try to guess why this is, but the truth is, I know very little about angels and they are supernatural beings to me.  So I won’t begin to speculate about why they immediately fall past redemption when they choose evil, other than to recognize that there is no reason to believe they want to be restored to God, and to recognize that God is far wiser than I am and that He is love and knows things I cannot possibly even begin to imagine without making an utter fool of myself.

[2] Those who were saved before Christ came to earth had faith that one day Christ would empower them to be able to choose eternity with God.  Their faith was counted as righteousness because they believed Christ’s righteousness would one day cover them (see Romans 4, especially 4:22)!

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Christianity is not an infomercial.  

Christianity is not an infomercial. 

  • It isn’t about getting rich.

It’s about sharing the riches of Christ.  (Nope, that’s not money and bling and sports cars.  That’s love and mercy and faith.)

  • It isn’t about winning elections.

It’s about worshiping the King.

  • It isn’t about being nice.

It’s about receiving God’s perfection by His blood.

  • It isn’t about social networking.

It’s about inviting friends into the God’s eternal love.

  • It isn’t about feeling good.

It’s about being good through Christ’s redemption.

  • It isn’t about saying an A-B-C prayer.

It’s about making an eternal commitment to follow Jesus.

  • It isn’t about dragging people into church.

It’s about inviting people into a love so amazing people would beat the doors down if they only understood it.

  • It isn’t about joining a club.

It’s about inviting everyone.  Everyone.  E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

  • It’s not about giving a few dollars to the poor.

It’s about giving everything to God.  (And giving to the poor is a BIG part of God’s plan.)

  • It isn’t about getting what you want.

It’s about discovering what God wants.

  • It isn’t about setting an example.

It’s about following the Example.

  • It isn’t about the ianity.

It’s about Christ.

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” (Ephesians 1:11, The Message)

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Photograph by Kevin Simpson, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/videocrab/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Comes after

Christianity is the pursuit of Christ.

And our pursuit of Him.

Which comes after His pursuit of us.

It is not you who chose me, but it is I who chose you and appointed you that you might go and be fruitful and that your fruit might remain; so that whatever petition you present to the Father in my name He may give you. (Jesus, John 15:16, Weymouth NT)

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37b-38, NASB)

Christianity is the love of Christ.

And our love of Him.

Which comes after His love for us.

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19, KJV)

This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10, ISV)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Best Birthday of All

Tomorrow I’ll be 28 on the 28th.  Since I am “matchy matchy” (as in, I could have jumped up and down the first time I saw identical wallpaper and bed sheet patterns) the 28-on-28 thing is a big deal to me.  But it isn’t going to be the best birthday of all.

When I was 5 or so and my parents threw me a big surprise birthday bash with “practically” my entire preschool class (ok, maybe 7 kids), and my parents wore clown costumes, that was a big deal to me. But it wasn’t the best birthday of all.

When I was 16, and friends from all over our city gave me a favorite book, and when far-distance friends mailed me books, and I had a bookcase of books by the end of the day, that was a big deal to me.  But it wasn’t the best birthday of all.

When I was 21, I didn’t know I’d be spending the last birthday with my dad, and that is a big deal to me now.  But even that wasn’t the best birthday of all, and my dad would agree I know.

The best birthday of all happened about 4 A.D.—it was so obscure at the time we don’t even know the day or month and we’re not even totally sure of the year—in a barn, of all places, in a town in the Middle-East.  It sure wasn’t the most popular birthday party—the celebration included some shepherd and a poor man and his wife.  (There were a lot of angels, but they sent out the invitations [to the shepherds].  The angels didn’t come to the party, because this party was for people.)

I’ve heard of belated birthday celebrations, but not on this scale—joining the celebration later would be an elderly man named Simeon and elderly woman named Anna, and even later, sages who were total strangers . . . oh, and even later, millions of people.

28 on the 28th . . . ok, that’s nice.  That’s probably only happened to, oh, a few million other people or so.

But the first birthday of God . . . that is once an eternity.

“Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord.

(Luke 2:10b-11, NCV)

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:6, NJKV)

God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom he loves, through whom we have redemption, the forgive­ness of sins.

(Colossians 1:13-14, ISV)

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Tips

Sitting in two rows along each halls of a movie theater with dozens of people, I got a tip.

We were there because our movies had been shut down and we’d been instructed to exit.  There was a tornado warning in the area, and no one was allowed to leave (and I wouldn’t have wanted to!).  I think it was like a Thursday night, so the theater wasn’t as packed as it could have been.  People had come in smaller groups, and were more open to talking with strangers as we waited for an all-clear.

A young man sat across from me, somewhere around my age: in his twenties, in between high school and career.  He wore mall clothes and had a great grin.

We struck up a casual conversation, he and I and, every now and again, somebody around us would throw something into the mix.

He was a waiter—a seasoned waiter I took it.  I wasn’t a seasoned waitress, but I had worked over a summer at a local pizza parlor (and it wasn’t the best time in my life, let me tell you).

Somehow or other, we got on tips, probably because that’s pretty important to a server’s livelihood.  At the time, I think it was only California that had to pay minimum wage to workers plus tips and not partial-minimum-wage-and-tips-compensate (I checked and it is still this way in my state).  I guess if you didn’t make enough tips you could get minimum wage—but probably at the irritation of management.

Of course, no server tries to make minimum wage.  They hope for customers who surprise them with a great tip.

I’ll never forget the customer who would always give me a great tip, like a $5 (and at a pizza parlor in the year 2000)!  And it wasn’t just the money.  He would say things like, “You’re great” when I would get him a drink refill.  He was wonderful.

The guy in the movie theater hallway and I talked about how you could get the best tips.  We both agreed—smokers and drinkers and smokers-and-drinkers.  When I first started working at the pizza parlor, I had dreaded the smoking section because I didn’t like to breathe secondhand smoke.  I think it was one of the managers or servers who tipped me off, “Oh, but they tip the best.”

The first time I had to serve the smoking section, I discovered how true this was.  The ones who ordered beers (and I was not, at 16, allowed to even touch the bottles—the cook brought them out for me) and the ones who smoked and drank tended to be kinder, more patient, and more generous.

Then the guy across in the theater said something like this—this was some 5 years ago so I’m only getting the gist (and without bad language), “Yeah, and then there’s the Sunday crowd.  Those Christians are tightwads.  And rude.”

And then he told me a story about a tract that looked like a big bill—a $50 I think—but it was really of course not a $50 bill but a tract.

“And left with no tip.”

Now what a way to bring people to God.

I don’t know what happened to that smart, funny, and lost young man who sat across the hallway from me living in relative morality and ranking Christians near the bottom.

But I do know that when we who call ourselves Christians save ourselves a few dollars at our server’s expense . . . we lose our witness . . . and maybe far more.

I can’t tell you what to do if you go out and eat on Sunday.  But I can tell you it may be costing more than percentage points.

God has convicted me that how I treat servers should not be that they are here to serve me, but that I am here to serve them.  Therefore, the quality of the food, even the quality of their service . . . doesn’t really matter.  What matters is the quality of my service to them.  Do I treat them with respect, patience, and kindness?

One way God keeps me on track is by writing something on the bottom of my receipt like, “Christ’s blessings on your day!” How do you think I tip when I write that?  You betcha.  That is God’s way of keeping me generous.

And how could I be any other way?  I have not only been treated with the most extravagant generosity in the universe by the Lord God, but I have been treated to the most unimaginable grace as well.  If I can get all the grace I need to cover my sin and I can’t give one drop to a rude or condescending or lethargic server . . . what does that say about me?

How convicting.  How absolutely convicting.

But Jesus called them to Him, and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you; but whoever desires to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as the redemption-price for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, Weymouth NT)

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Photograph by Shagun (Sean R.), profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/sr/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

The Stench

A couple weeks back, I decided I would save money by cooking Thai rather than buying out.  As usual in any kind of errands in my life, I had no real plan of action, and so when I went to the grocery store, my strategy was to buy a few sauces from the Thai aisle and hope they fit together.

One of the ones I bought was fish sauce.  I am not a big fish kind of person, but I like Japanese eel sauce on my sushi and I love one particular Thai dish that has no fish sauce in it and somehow this brought me to the conclusion I might like the Thai fish sauce.

Upon making Thai at home, after glancing at Thai recipes, I began pouring different sauces into the bowl of noodles I’d made.  I decided to add a little fish sauce.

I opened the bottle and a waft of something like dead and unhappy fish sitting in crates on a dockside for a hundred years hit my nose.

Oh, wow.  I capped the fish sauce back up.  No way.

Now, I have a tough time throwing stuff away, even if I know there is NO chance I will ever eat it.  Somehow it makes me feel better to know it’s sitting in the refrigerator or pantry rotting away rather than in the garbage can.  So I decided to put the fish sauce back in the pantry.

This morning, my mom trying to juggle an arm full of stuff, knocked the fish sauce bottle over.  It broke on the floor of our pantry.

Would anybody like to buy our house?

For the first 15 seconds or so, it wasn’t bad.  I walked into the pantry and saw the sauce on the floor.  I was actually happy the fish sauce had been knocked over and not something I was planning on eating.

I was happy for about 10 seconds.

And then an invisible, giant, rancid, 1-billion pound fish swam into our house.

In disbelief, I grabbed my shirt, holding it over my nose and mouth so I wouldn’t breathe fish air.  My appetite for breakfast completely lost, I handed my mom wet, soapy paper towels while she braved the pantry, scrubbing away.  I cowardly went and got disinfectant in the non-hazardous back of the house while she cleaned.

Like some kind of Abbot & Costello routine, I sprayed air freshener up in the air, which of course rained down all over my mother who was on the floor trying to clean up the rancidity.  My mother then took the bottle away from me and sprayed some more.

At first, the soap seemed to work.

Nope, it didn’t.

I hate air freshener, because they smell like fake chemicals to me.  But the air freshener would have been better than the reeking fish smell.  I say would have been and not was because what actually happened was the artificial freshener swam around Mr. Giant Invisible Fish and we had two smells to contend with.

I hoped the smell would go away, but after about 2 hours it became so pungent I decided more had to be done.

I turned off our air conditioner and tried to open windows.  To my dismay I found they were stuck shut or had been painted shut or something.  I ripped at the windows until I could get 2 of them up, opened the door and used the sliding screen door for I think the first time ever, and attacked the fish smell with more air freshener.  I sprayed the air freshener right on the brick floor in our pantry and the vent which had gotten soaked in fish sauce as well.  (Mom had washed out the vent, but talk about an ideal way for Mr. Fish to stink up the whole front half of our house.)

I then attacked the smell with sunny-smelling soap.  But Mr. Fish apparently had SPF on.  I tried to figure out what else to do. Nobody was likely to buy our house today.

A cleaning tip came back to me I’d read a long time ago.  I wondered if it would work for this strong of smell.

I search in our pantry to see if we had any of what I was looking for.  I was almost sure we did, but where was it?

I found what I was looking for, poured it into a rag of napkins, and wiped the floor down with the new substance.

Within seconds, the stench was killed.

I couldn’t believe it.  I could now smell only the smell of the bitter substance I’d used to clean.  But that bitter fragrance seemed so very sweet right now, so very, very sweet.

Now I could smell the outside streaming through our house (and the unpleasant air freshener I’d tried to use—why had I even gone to such a fake substance?).

I opened the bottle of substance and took a deep smell.  Nothing sweet had worked.  But this bitter substance had overpowered an impossibly-strong smell.

I think about the significance of vinegar—not in the unimportant spill at my house, but in the most important sacrifice of all time.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. (Matthew 27:33-34, ESV)

At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” When some of the people standing there heard him say that, they said, “Listen! He’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar. Then he put it on a stick and offered Jesus a drink. The man said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice and died. (Mark 15:33-37, GW)

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified him there with the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Dividing his garments among them, they cast lots. The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” An inscription was also written over him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Luke 23:33-38, WEB)

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30, NIV)

Through the most bitter death, the Lord Jesus destroyed the impossibly overpowering stench of sin for all who would come to be covered by His bitter sacrifice so that the most sweet redemption of all time could take place.

Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time—enough for all time.

(Romans 6:10a, NCV)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Health, Wealth, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, & Why My Father Didn’t Get Healed

Panic clamped its talons on my skull, and I was waiting for my brain to burst out like yolk in an egg.

The room was framed in a fuzzy blur.

College, 2003.

I thought the world was going to end—no, not the world, but me.  I thought I was going to end.  I thought my soul was going to be squeezed until it detonated like a grenade.

I shouldn’t have gone to class.

I knew now that I shouldn’t have gone to class, but it was too late.

I’d been upset in the commute over, of course, but I told myself I’d be all right.  It’d be okay.  So what that my father was going to see a faith healer?  So what that he had been waiting, longing for the day when this man of “god” would come to town?  So what that his dementia had made him nuts and he was a totally different person and he now watched junk “religious” shows on TV?  So what that he was going to find out he wouldn’t be healed by this con artist?  So what?  He wouldn’t listen to me.  So what?

I’d walked down the long sidewalk to class, and I told myself I was going to be all right.  I was going to be okay.  So what that my father had begged people to take him (since he couldn’t drive) to see this “faith healer” after my mother refused?  So what that my father didn’t know what he was doing?  So what that, had he only been in his right mind, he would have stopped this “healing trip” in an instant?  So what that he’d told me my whole life how health-and-wealth teachers were a fraud, and now, in his weakest and desperately pitiful longing . . . in his confusion and dementia brought on by this illness . . . he’d been tricked by some wealthy, healthy “preacher” who made a living off of broken and dying?

So what?

Yeah, so what?

I’d sat down in class all right.  I’d felt a little funny, but surely it would be okay.   I opened my laptop.  I wasn’t going to tell anybody.  How could I?  How could I tell people that my father, devout to the Word of God, had been trapped in one of the most vile heresies that has ever haunted the Christian church?

And as I sat there, classmates started coming in.  People were talking.  People were laughing.  The laughing sliced through me like claws.  Why did they have to be laughing?  Why did I have to be in this room?

I was dizzy, disoriented, lost.  I knew I was too sick to excuse myself, too sick to stand up, too sick to make my way out of that horrible room.

And then the professor started the lesson.  Casually.  She was looking at me a little funny, but then she looked away, thinking I guess I was lost in thought.

And it was suddenly too much.

I didn’t hear anything.

And I started screaming.  Hysterically.  Hysterically screaming.

I woke up on the floor.

I woke up to two college professors huddled over me.  One had her hand on my head.  They were praying for me.  I had tears streaming down my face, and snot stringing from my nose, and I remember one of them hugging me, and me thinking, How could she do that?  How could she do that, when I’m so gross?

And they took me into an office, and I cried.  And cried.  And I told them my father was going today to see a faith healer.

And he wasn’t going to be healed.

I went home that day like shattered glass set together with the wrong kind of paste, fashioned in the wrong kind of way.  I felt so fragile that a mere touch would crumble me into fragments too small to see.  And yet I felt ferociously angry, ready to tear the health-and-wealth movement apart brick by brick.  And yet I was so wounded I felt as if I could not last much longer unless I hated God with as much hate as I could secretly store away.

God had done this to me, hadn’t He?  He had done this to my father!  What was this, anyway?  Cruelty?  Vengeance?  Wicked humor?  God had taken away my father’s good mind and given him this messed-up, wrecked-up one.  God had given my father Lou Gehrig’s Disease, hadn’t He?  What for, to prove He could do whatever He wanted?  To show how much He hated me?

Why is it, God, you would let wicked, awful, filthy rich people stab the frail hearts of the sick and dying?  How could You let that happen?  What kind of a God are You?

I can’t write this without tears running down my face.  Not because I still believe this.  But because the hurt, the injustice, and the absolute abuse that health-and-wealth man dealt to my father and my family . . . wounds me still.

I found out that my mother had secretly gone to the church to watch over my father (who had gone with a kind friend—my father could not drive and he was in a terrible position—how could he refuse when, to my father, it was a rejection of all hope for his healing?).

My mother sat in the balcony, tears streaming down her face.  She watched as my father, who had stood in line for hours at the door, had been rejected for the “healing platform”, slowly staggered up from his seat, walked down the long aisle, and tapped the security guard to try to get through to go down for healing.

The security guard brusquely told him he could not pass.

And my father staggered back to his seat.

And then this health-and-wealth pastor preached about money and healing.

And my father staggered up from his seat, hobble down the long aisle, and tap the security guard on the arm to try to get through to go down to healing.

And the security guard told him, no remorse, No.

And my father stumbled back to his seat as the chosen people waited on the front rows for their “healing”.

And then the health-and-wealth pastor kept preaching about money and healing.

And, yes, my father got up again.  And again.  He got up every time he had an “opportunity”, and every time he was rejected, and that security guard sent him back to his seat with not one touch of compassion.

And my father put money in the offering plate.

And then the service was over, and my father realized the horror of what had happened.  He sat there, tired from the long standing, wear from the effort he had made and the appeals . . .

And in my father’s eyes, he had missed his chance.

My father came home from that.

He wasn’t healed.

My heart breaks even now to think about my father stumbling down that aisle.  My heart breaks to think that this fraudulent movement has associated itself to Christianity to feast on naïve victims.

For a long time after that, I was far, far away from God.  My stance was, if God approved of such practices, He could just leave me alone.  And if He allowed such practices, He could count on my lack of endorsement.

My father died in 2004.

I’ve talked in other blogs about God’s hand stretched towards me, always waiting, and how God has called me to nest in His love, how He has spread His grace around me like wings.

God had to tutor me, one-on-one, in His love.  I was way behind the class.  But He did a masterful job of catching me up.  And when I realized how God is love as 1 John 4:16 says, God very graciously began to give me answers to the hard accusations I had made about Him, until they dissolved into only wonder that He had been so good and so patient with me.

God hadn’t made that health-and-wealth “preacher” do that to my father.  God hadn’t even wanted him to.  God’s desire is for us to pursue Him and, as we follow, to learn love, justice, honesty, mercy, kindness, patience, and grace from His path.

But then why had God allowed this man to hurt my father so?  To hurt me so?

I don’t know God’s total plan.  But I do know that every second He delays before Jesus returns, He is waiting for more people to come to Him because He is love.  At the moment Jesus returns there will no more chances.  God has been waiting for people . . . people like that health-and-wealth teacher . . . and people like me.  If God had ended the world before my father had gone to that meeting . . . I wouldn’t have been saved.  The very thing I wished for would have condemned me eternally.

Really, of course, I didn’t want for the world to end, just for that preacher to be “stopped”.  But what if this experience hadn’t happened?  Would I have ever come to the point where I finally saw how much I needed God?  Could God allow this to happen so I could have time to come to Him? And, if so, how could I complain about that?

And what about the people I have compassion for because of my experience?  What if one person, even one person, comes to Christ because of the empathy God taught me through that experience (that experience which Satan and our choice to sin, not God, instigated)?

I can’t play “God”.  I can’t decide which things to stop and which things not to.  I don’t know what will lead to what.  Certainly if God stopped all evil, the world would come to an end!

I believe, “All things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (from Romans 8:28, NIV)

I forgive the health-and-wealth man and the security guard who did this to my father.  I pray God will draw them near, by His grace, and they, too, will see the love of God, which makes all wealth look as dirt on the ground.

The hardest thing for me was knowing my father had struggled to get out of his seat, staggered down the aisle, and again and again pleaded to be allowed past to walk up to the platform for healing.

But let me tell you something.  Something I know with all my heart.

On September 22, 2004, my father walked up to the gates of Heaven, and the Lord Jesus Christ let him in and nobody, not nobody, will ever again block my father from the altar of healing, because he is with the Healer.

And he didn’t pay a dime for the privilege.

Rather, his Healer gave His body, His blood, for my father.

And I know how God could allow my father not to be healed.

Because God Himself healed my father.

Forever.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, NLT)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Circle of life?

I don’t believe in the circle of life because I don’t want to be recycled.

Cans, yes.

Me, no.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. “ (Jeremiah 1:5a, NLT)

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Photograph by Jo Ann Deasy, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/7682623@N02/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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