Jonah (Part 1)

I have been fixated with Johan lately. I know it’s a story we have heard a hundred times, but as my pastor says, “we must always be careful of those stories we know well.” Because we know them we tend not to pay too close attention.

It takes some effort to try and understand all the symbolism of Isaiah’s prophecy. It takes a little meditation to grasp the John’s revelation.

Does it really take that much to understand the story of Jonah?

Well, maybe we got it all figured out, but let us take a walk together through this book one more time and see what we get out of it. Hopefully you will read this and think, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” But if not, maybe God can let us both grow through this.

Do me a favor. Read Jonah once all the way through. It’s only 4 chapters so it won’t take long.

I wish I could go through this book verse by verse but that would be too tedious to read. If you want to read my commentary on Jonah, wait about 45 years from now and I should be done with my complete commentary on the Bible. Till then we are cutting to the chase and hitting the highlights.

The first thing I noticed is that God said Nineveh’s sin had confronted Him. Understand that ALL sin confronts God, but it seems that there comes a certain time when God says “enough.”

Am I the only one who has reached that point, even after I have been saved, where God points out something in my life and says, “Enough!”

Jonah was told to go preach against the city. God didn’t tell Jonah to go convert people. God is the only one who can convert anyone. Oh yes we can manipulate people’s emotions into praying a prayer and going about their life, we could even get someone to live a moral life, but only God can save someone.

The point of preaching is not to trick people into living better lives. Any preacher who does not confront you with the sin that is in your life and tell you that there is only one way to be cleansed of that sin is a charlatan that only uses God as a means for a pay-check.

At least Jonah was truthful with himself and God. As we will see later, he flat out said, “I don’t want to, and you can’t make me!”

As we will see later, God never made Jonah do anything, but He did make a pretty compelling argument.

My words are up so till next time, let me know what you think so we can work through this together.

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Same Old Story. Does the Bible Really Say…?

Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said,…”  Gen 3:1

I was once told that when you hear God is doing something new, rest assure that Satan is doing something old.

God is the same and never changes.  Well guess what, Satan hasn’t changed his playbook much either. 

The newest version of Satan’s attempt is Rob Bell’s “Love Wins.”  I don’t want to get into a long drawn out critique of his work, because there are men who are much better at that than I am, but I do want to show you how to spot these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

From the very beginning, Satan has taken God’s truth and twisted it just enough to take someone off the straight and narrow path.  He did this exact thing with Eve.  Eve knew she wasn’t supposed to eat of the tree, but when Satan gives us an alternative that fits what we really want anyway, we will take it. 

I do not mean to give Satan more credit than he deserves, but we have to understand where this age old idea comes from.  Satan does not run around placing these individual ideas in the minds of every person, but especially this day in age, he doesn’t have to.  There are plenty of people who are planting these seeds for him. 

Rob Bell is one of them.  And I am going to go ahead and say it that Rick Warren is one of them, too.  I wish there was enough time to point out all those who are pedaling God for a profit, but I would wear a hole in my keyboard long before I could list them all. 

After listening to a number of different interviews with Mr. Bell, I believe his ideas come more from a desire to be relevant than a planted seed from Satan.  Bell has taken an idea that everyone gets to go to heaven, and used that to interpret Scripture.  I do not know any born-again Christian who takes this guy seriously, but there are others who are harder to pick out. 

It’s the guys like Warren that scare me the most.  I have only read one of his books (The Purpose Driven Church), but that was enough for me to know that this man is dangerous.  I do not believe I am overstating the issue.  Warren is smart enough to say the right thing but then goes in a completely opposite direction.

Warren will state time and time again that the church is not meant to cater to the wants and desires of its congregation.  Yet, time and time again he says that the only way you can grow your church is to find out what your congregation wants and desires through polls and go for that.  He would make one heck of a politician.  (I wonder, why did he really interview McCain and Obama?)

I don’t think that people as intelligent as Warren do this unknowingly.  If only Johann Tetzel had his skills Leo would have been drowning in gold.

College professors are another group that are great at taking a little bit of truth and twisting it ever so slightly that its hard to tell which way is up.  I am sure I have told many of you about a New Testament class that I took at a secular university where I literally watched a number of kids lose their faith.  In the face of criticism their faith did not stand. 

People like this poke holes in your beliefs, then stand back and laugh at you.

Warren and his like are taking what God has said and changing it ever so slightly that it is hard to tell what is true and what we wish were true.

I wish everyone got to go to heaven.  I wish the purpose of the church was to make everyone in a community feel fulfilled.  But, the truth makes them nothing more than wishes.

How do we know what is true?  Jesus gave us the example when he was tempted by Satan.

Read Matthew 4.  Every time Satan tempted Christ, he wasn’t trying to get Jesus to do anything extreme.  Jesus was hungry, turn the stones to bread.  Didn’t he turn the water to wine?  Jesus was the Son of God, prove it.  Didn’t Jesus perform miracles to prove who he was?  Jesus is going to rule the entire world, just worship someone different. 

Your eyes are satisfied when you think that everything you see can be yours, because God loves you and wants you to be happy.  It makes your flesh feel better that you can keep on sinning and not worry, because there is no hell anyway.  It strokes your pride when you think that the church is there to make sure that your needs are being met.

Many times Satan doesn’t make it about right and wrong.  It’s about intentions.  It’s about the heart.  It’s about God’s timing.

Do you want to go to heaven?  How are you going to get there?  Are you going to believe that you are a sinner and put your trust in the work of Jesus? Or are you going to believe that God loves you and you don’t have to worry about a hell because it doesn’t exist?

Do you want your church to grow?  How is it going to happen?  Are you going to conduct a poll and cater to people’s itching ears, or are you going to hit your knees and ask God for the strength to witness to a fallen world?

So how do we tell if our intentions and heart are pure?  What does the Word of God say?  This is the example Christ left us with.  Satan even quotes Scripture, but Jesus knows how to deal with him.  Jesus does not get into a philosophical argument about where people like Hitler go if there is no hell.  He uses the Word of God to fight his fight. 

As always I’ll let you in on a little secret that isn’t a secret at all.  God’s Word is more powerful than any argument you can come up with on your own.  Can your tongue but like a two edged sword?  Can your argument separate bone from the marrow?

Well it may seem like a secret to some but those are the ones who have their ears plugged and don’t want to listen anyway.

Lord, gives us ears to hear and a heart to learn. 

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The World Never Gets It

It truly is a shame how easy it is for any idiot to sit behind a computer and prove to the world just how low their intelligence level is. 

Just when I thought there was starting to be decent sports reporting out there, ESPN’s Rick Reilly proves me wrong.  I know, I know. I said before, getting my theology from ESPN is like getting my politics from the Dixie Chicks, but this man has stooped to a new level of scumbag.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on him.  Maybe ESPN has its own version of the Special Olympics for writers and this guy got published just for showing up, but then again that would be an insult to handicapped people the world over.  This guy would probably ridicule a quadriplegic for not being able to dribble a basketball. 

I guess my expectations where a little high for a guy who’s new big book is about his two year search for the “worlds dumbest competition.”

I guess now I’ll tell you how I really feel about it. 

I am sure all of you know the firestorm Joel Northrup started when he decided that his convictions were worth more than a state title in wrestling.  Joel graciously bowed out of the first round of the tournament, instead of wrestling female Cassy Herkelman. 

I have know Joel for many years now and know that this is not the first time he has decided not to wrestle a girl.  But, before there wasn’t a state title at stake.  I wish I were in a position so I could talk to Joel and tell him what it meant to me personally for him to take this stand. 

Having been on a similar stage myself, I can imagine how hard it may have been for Joel to walk to the scorer’s table and tell them that he withdrew from the match. If you looked carefully at the photos taken at the event, you may notice one detail that has slipped past most people. When Joel withdrew he had enough respect for the sport and for Cassy to completely dress out as though he were going to walk out on the mat and wrestle.

Joel did not make a snap decision and it wasn’t a surprise to him who he was supposed to wrestle, yet he was completely geared up just to walk over and withdraw. 

Every major news outlet around the country quickly picked up the story and ran with it.  While most of the comments on message boards covering the story were positive, yesterday, ESPN allowed Mr. Reilly to show the world just how clueless they are about what really transpired. 

Do yourself a favor and don’t even read the article. It will make blood shoot from your eyes and you’ll end up kicking the family cat.  I’ll do the best I can to make it through the article again and tell you why the world will never understand why young men like Joel take the stands that they do.

Reilly spends about the first half of the article telling us how tough Cassy is and that she doesn’t need anybody protecting her, let alone Joel.

He acknowledges that most of Iowa and the Herkelmans respected Joel for his decision, whether they agreed with it or not.  But then he asks, “Why?”

He continues, “Does any wrong-headed decision suddenly become right when defended with religious conviction? In this age, don’t we know better? If my God told me to poke the elderly with sharp sticks, would that make it morally acceptable to others?”

The only thing I would find morally acceptable from this guy is if he poked himself with a sharp stick. 

The world, and Reilly included, thinks they know better, but to let them in on a little secret, Joel was the only one who did get it.  It’s not Joel’s fault that someone raised a girl and turned her into a boy.  When the rest of the world sees a boy, Joel sees a girl.  He sees the truth, not what the world is telling him. 

Cassy’s own father doesn’t see it.  “She’s my son,” says her dad, Bill. “She’s always been my son. Since she could walk, she’s always been the tomboy, busting stuff up, walkin’ through glass with her bare feet.”

But don’t let me get away from Reilly’s downhill slide into Dirtbag City.  He points out that Joel didn’t refuse to wrestle Cassy for sexual reasons, he and his father, Jamie, cited the physicality of the engagement. 

Reilly continues, “That’s where the Northrups are so wrong. Body slams and takedowns and gouges in the eye and elbows in the ribs are exactly how to respect Cassy Herkelman. This is what she lives for. She can elevate herself, thanks.”

No matter how hard it tries, world can’t pull the wool over Joel’s eyes.  He understands that this world will try and tell you that something evil is good.  If Joel “respected” Cassy in the hallway of any public school he would be arrested. 

If you haven’t broken your computer screen yet, hold on cause it gets worse. Reilly is going for a record, “If the Northrups really wanted to ‘respect’ women, they should’ve encouraged their son to face her. When he didn’t, it created a national media hurricane with Cassy in the eye of it. She was surrounded by 20 of us Friday not for how she wrestled (she wound up being eliminated two matches later) but for how she didn’t.”

Joel didn’t put her in that position. Her parents put her in that position by getting her into wrestling when she was in just second grade.  I am sure Cassy’s parents are great people and Cassy isn’t going to suffer any long term ill effects from all this, but yet again this world wants to blame everybody else for the situations they put themselves into.  Joel just happen to be the one who had enough guts to tell them all that what she was doing was wrong.

It wasn’t anything personal, it was just the truth.  I have heard that hell hath no fury greater than a woman scorned, but try telling anyone in this world that they are solely responsible for the situations they put themselves into and watch out.  How dare someone say that what Cassy was doing was anything but right.

Reilly can’t even see that maybe he and the 19 other bloodsuckers could have left her alone until after she was done wrestling.  No, it was Joel’s fault they couldn’t leave her alone.

Hang on people, I know it’s rough, but we are almost home and I don’t want to deprive Reilly of his shot at the title as the world’s biggest sleaze-ball.  He continues, “I don’t feel as bad for Cassy as I do for Joel. He was the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state at 112 pounds. He was 35-4. He had a chance to win the whole thing. In Iowa, that means a lifetime of people buying you lunch. It’s corn-state royalty. To give all that up to protect a girl who loathes being protected? What a waste of a dream.”

First of all, sometimes you have to protect people from themselves.  Secondly, Joel knows there is a better crown out there waiting for him.  Someone he knows is waiting to give him an eternal crown and tell him “Well done thy good and faithful servant!”  Those words would beat hearing you named announced a thousand times as a state champion.  There is more at stake here than a piece of metal.  Yet again, there are few people who can understand this.

Joel ended up losing a heartbreaker in overtime to be removed from the tournament, and Reilly can’t help but get a little personal as he crosses the finish line, “Neither he, nor his coaches, nor his dad, had any comment. He was reportedly on his way back home to Marion, Iowa, where his mom was about to deliver her eighth child. For the kid’s sake, I hope it’s a boy.”

And there you have it folks. Reilly wins going away. 

I tell you what Joel, this world is going mad.  There are idiots everywhere, and when you take a stand for Jesus they are going to hate you.  So please do me a favor, hold that new little baby close and teach him to be as strong as you are.  Don’t let him listen to this world.  I can only pray that my own boys understand what a great man you are and that they will try and follow the great example you set for them.  I only wish I were able to fully relate to you how proud I am of you.  Trust me when I say that there are people the world over that are taking strength from the stand you made. 

As for you Reilly, if you ever write a book about the “World’s Worst Writers” give me a call. I got your number one right here.

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A Return to the Basics

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures,

We can all make mistakes.  I set out to be provocative in this blog and spur people onto truly consider what they believed. But I may have been a little over zealous and forgotten that those who read these posts are not always up on the discussions that have spurred my posts. 

I had a very wise man pull me aside and point out that while he agreed with the points I have been making, there are better ways to go about building up the body of Christ.  He was right.  He didn’t want me to loose my enthusiasm, but in a world with so many false teachings people can quickly shy away from anything that smells wrong.  I have to say that I do the same thing and I am quick to make snap judgments myself.    I applaud my brothers and sisters who hold onto what is good and true and reject the rest. 

In my prayers and searching for a topic to write about next, God showed me something.  Nothing has ever been more controversial and edgy than His truth.  Nothing sets this world on its ear more than God’s truth. 

The books and messages that I enjoy the most in my own life are those teachers and preachers who boldly proclaim only what the Bible says.  They don’t generally get into theological discussions about the nuances of Scripture that lead to never ending round robins of interpretations.

Those preachers of old that people labeled as the “Hellfire and Brimstone” kind, did nothing more than tell you what the Scriptures said.  The only ones that come out one of those messages being offended are those who are under conviction.  I am glad they are offended by the Truth.  That means that their hearts are still sensitive to hearing God’s word.  Those who should be convicted but are not, I fear for the most.  I once heard that “what you are not offended by tells more about you than what does offend you.” 

If you want to see how far we have fallen from God, just turn your TV on and watch what your not offended by.  I would go so far as to say that if we Christians were honestly offended by everything ungodly on TV we wouldn’t own one. 

We (and most of all I) need a return to our first love.  We (I) need to return to the fundamentals. 

So I am starting a series I want to title “GOD IS…” 

Step by step we will take a look at who God is.  Not who we think HE is, but what His word says He is. 

Let the journey begin.

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Have I Lost the Plot? Part 2

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the first part, we saw how we can do nothing to earn our salvation, it is a free gift of grace.  We only need to have faith that God provided Himself with the perfect sacrifice in His Son.  All of God’s wrath against sin was poured out on Jesus on the Cross.  We could not atone for our own sins.  We could never pay that kind of debt ourselves.  We are judged on whether or not we reject the Light that has come into this world.

Based on these facts we have to understand that a child who dies before what is commonly called the “age of accountability” would go to heaven.

1. They are born with sin on their hearts, but God’s wrath against that sin has been quenched in Christ.

2. They have received the same gift everyone else has, but they are unable to reject it.

If a child cannot be saved before they are able to confess Christ, then salvation can only come through works.  We as believers are commanded to do certain things as a profession of our faith in Christ, but those actions are for the strengthening of our own faith, a witness to the world, and a building up of the body of Christ.  They have no positional effect on our standing as a saved person or not. 

Realize that this is not cutting Christ out of the picture.  It is only through the work of Christ that these children are allowed into heaven.  When we are at the judgment ourselves we will not be able to do anything but plead the blood of Christ that covers our sins.  These children are coming to the Father through the Son.  They are entering through the narrow gate.  They are not being saved through any other name than the name of Christ.

If it is true that an unborn child or a child who dies before they are old enough to understand the work that Christ did for them can go to heaven, then the same must be true for those who are born with a mental disability but grow to adulthood.  They, too, never have the capacity to reject the Light.  We ourselves testify that these handicapped people are not fully capable of understanding the consequences of their actions.  Many handicapped people can act violently form time to time, but we do not treat them as violent people. 

Let me make one caveat.  If someone is handicapped after they have reached adulthood, then they will judged according to the condition of their heart before they incapacitated. 

But what about adults who have never heard the name of Jesus?  How do I reason that it is possible for them to go to heaven? 

First of all, I base it off the fact that the nation of Israel never knew the name of Jesus.  They did know that a Messiah was coming to take away their sins, but if they died before Jesus came, how could they call on Him to save them?  Their animal sacrifices did not take away their sins, these offerings were just a teaching point on what the Messiah would do for them.

Hebrew 10:1-7 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. So when he came into the world, he said,

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. “Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in.  “Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’”

Isaiah 1:11-15 “Of what importance to me are your many sacrifices?”says the Lord. “I am stuffed with burnt sacrifices of rams and the fat from steers. The blood of bulls, lambs, and goats I do not want. When you enter my presence, do you actually think I want this – animals trampling on my courtyards? Do not bring any more meaningless offerings; I consider your incense detestable! You observe new moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations, but I cannot tolerate sin-stained celebrations! I hate your new moon festivals and assemblies; they are a burden that I am tired of carrying. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood.

The animals to be sacrificed were to be the firstborn and without blemish.  The animal sacrifice was only to remind people that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood.  Those in the Old Testament will also be able to claim the eternal work of Christ, but never knew His name. 

Just for clarification, Jesus’ redemptive work was completed before the earth was ever formed. 

2 Timothy 1:9 He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

This may require some future explanation on how the Son paid the price before He was born on earth, but I will cover that at some later date.  For the time being, just realize that the work Jesus did on earth covers those before His crucifixion in the same way it covers us. 

What were the components of Israel’s faith that gained them salvation?  They understood that there was a God.  They knew that according to the Law, they were sinful people and that only God could provide a sacrifice that would remove the stain of sin on their heart.  It is possible for those who do not know the Bible and have never heard of Jesus to understand all these key elements.  Everyone knows there is a God.

Romans 1:19-21 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.

God tells us that those who have never been taught the law have it written on their heart.

Romans 2:14-16 For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.  They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

When someone realizes that God exists, and that they are not able to keep His laws, a key turning point is reached.  The final piece is missing in their conversion from the damned to those who can be saved.  They must realize that there is nothing they can do to make up for these broken laws.  If they can somehow understand that only God can provide them with a way to bridge the gap, THEN I say they have faith in the work that Christ accomplished.  They must somehow grasp the fact of a sacrifice that is made on their behalf. 

How does this happen?  I have no clue.  It may be a special revelation that God gives them.  It may be a vision like what Paul experienced.  I do not know, and I do not assume that it will be the same for every person, but I believe that it can and does happen.  I do not at all think it happens regularly, therefore we must continually preach the gospel to a fallen world.  Many more people will go to hell if we do not evangelize the four corners of the world.  People are not saved because they are sincere in their wrong beliefs, have an improved nature because of their tribal religion, or even that they are ignorant of Christ.  Yet, these reasons do not negate the fact that God is able to save those whom He desires to save.  I only point out that salvation is possible for all, so that every man is without excuse.

The Bible even states that there will be people from every tribe and tongue in heaven.

Revelation 5:9-10 They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands.

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Have I Lost the Plot? Part 1

As much as I would like to give a full explanation of my position in one sitting, this is proving to be a much more tedious endeavor than I had originally anticipated.  So this will be part one with at least one other part to follow soon.

For those of you who where not privy to the internet firestorm I started, I am going on record as saying that it is possible for those who have never heard of Jesus to go to heaven.  Now that I have your attention, let me explain.

I am fully on board with the fact that no one can get to heaven without going through Christ.  I totally agree with this statement:

John 14:5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So how is it that someone who professes faith in Christ alone can say that it is possible for someone who does not profess Christ to go to heaven?

This is my argument and overall statement.  On what basis are you saved?  I believe that we are saved by grace through faith and that grace is open to all.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.

Romans 5:9-11 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.

So there is absolutely nothing you have done to deserve this gift.  This includes a prayer you prayed.  Many have prayed the sinners prayer and will still end up in hell.  Even some people who have been considered great men and women of God during their time here on earth will serve eternity in eternal damnation. 

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’

Salvation is not a formula you worked out in you head. You do not profess X, therefor God must Y, so that you can get Z.  God will not be obligated into owing you something.  I don’t care how much you tithe, how many times you get baptized, how many times you recite “Our Father.”  It will make no difference in the position you stand in with God.  Only Christ can wash us from sins, and only our faith in this gift will save us.

Just in case you are a little slow on picking up what I am laying down. Let me break this down Barney style for you. 

God provided Himself with a perfect sacrifice that would take away all the sins of the world.  Your deeds were never taken into account.

The wrath God had against sin was quenched in the sacrifice Jesus paid for us.  So we will be judged solely on our acceptance or rejection of this truth.

John 3:19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

This is the judgment.  If we reject the Light we will be lost.  We reject the Light by loving our evil deeds.  We push the Light away.

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God and Football

I was reminded today of why I pay little attention to sports writers. 

Having to listen to bias commentators during a game is bad enough, but sports writers have a keen ability to show the world that they are purely one trick ponies.  ESPN’s writer Tim Keown is no exception.  I am sure his article Auburn’s BCS win: Faith or coaching? made Auburn head coach Gene Chizik sick to his stomach. 

I know it did mine.  Truthfully, I was initially so mad that I had to walk away before I had to purchase a new Dell computer. 

Then I realized that taking my theology from ESPN was about as bad as taking my politics form The Dixie Chicks. 

Keown continually pokes fun at Chizik’s opening comments, “First of all, I can’t be more blessed to be part of a whole team like this.  Man, God was with us.”

Unless I missed something else, this was the only reference the coach made to God.  Yet Keown drones on and on about how Oregon should not even had shown up since it was a forgone divine conclusion that Auburn was going to win.  He also asks that if coaching had so little to do with the win, then will Chizik actually cash the $600,000 bonus he gets for winning a national championship. 

At the very least Chizik earned his payday.  I am not an avid reader of Keown’s, but if this article is the best he can come up with at the end the entire college football season, then I would ask if he feels ok with cashing his paycheck.

To be fair, I understand that Keown was writing a little tongue-in-cheek.  I get his attempt at humor.  Despite his best effort to the contrary, he did ask a valid theological question.

Does God care who wins a college football game and does he influence decisions, plays, weather conditions, etc. to ensure that His pick wins?

The simple answer is, Yes!

God does care, if the great Creator of the universe takes the time to number the very hairs on your head.  I would say He cares if those hairs are on the winning or losing side. 

I would never suggest that God is simply manipulating games to preserve his perfect record at picking winners and losers, but rather that there are greater aspects of life that can be influenced by a simple win or loss. 

Let me tell you a little story that may help to illustrate my point.

I know a guy who was a fairly decent wrestler in his high school days.  His senior year he was being looked at by a few smaller colleges and even had a standing scholarship offer on the table.  This young man was on his way to the state tournament after beating the #1 ranked wrestler at districts by no fewer than eight points. 

He had a great tournament all the way up to the semi-finals.  Then he lost by one point.  He had to sit and watch the one he had beaten at districts go on to win the state title with a first round pin. 

To say the least he was disappointed in himself, but that match could have quite literally changed his life. 

He never did go on to wrestle at the college level, but instead a series of other life events lead him to a place where he would meet his wife, settle down, and lead a great life.

Now, had he won that match and go on to win the title would he still have met his wife?  I don’t know.  But I do know one thing for sure.

When I get to heaven I will be more than happy to thank God for letting me lose that match. 

So to answer Keown’s questions, it does matter to God who wins and loses.  God may not dictate the game, but He sure has a bigger plan in motion that involves every player on the field.

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