God’s Love is What God Says It Is Not What You Want It To Be

There is much talk about God’s love. Most of the talk is based on human opinions of love rather than what the Bible clearly says about God’s love.

–God is love therefore all are saved
–Love wins so no one goes to hell
–Love removes consequences
–Love makes sin irrelevent
–God loves freely, no strings attached
–God’s love is unconditional

All of these statements are based on opinion rather than the Bible. There are strings attached to God’s love. Love does cover a multitude of sins, but only to those whom God truly loves, not just to those who claim to have God’s love.

The Apostle John was the most in-depth writer on God’s love. He is the disciple whom Jesus loved and he is constantly talking about love.

“God is love” is from 1 John and is typically the only one of John’s verses people know about God’s love. But if you truly want to know what God’s love is like, how to get it and stay in it, then read John.

Justin Taylor wrote up a post about John’s teachings on God’s love. It’s short, quotes John’s actual words, and gives a great intro to the subject. Please read.

Becoming a Man and Owning Trees

I was cutting up trees for firewood and my boy was helping me. He was struggling to cut the last chunk in half. I carried on with my business and heard the escalating frustration behind me.

I waited until there were tears and the throwing of saws. “Jacob, you are the one with the brain here. The tree has no brain. You show it who is boss. Own the tree, Jacob.”

I made him deal with the frustration and cut the tree. Then I had him come back and grab the last two pieces of tree and hold them and yell “I own you!” He struggled through tears and frustration and about 10 minutes later he was able to say “I own you” to his tree with real conviction.

When God gave man dominion over the earth it wasn’t just a commission to plow land and stuff, it was an actual transference of authority. If we own trees, we are not to let trees own us.

No tree should make you mad and upset. No tree should ruin your day. No tree should own you. Part of ownership is being in control, inanimate objects should never get the best of us.

I may be stretching the spiritual point here but I think it factors in. In fact, it changed a young frustrated boy who was ready to give up all work for the rest of his life, into a young boy who continued to cut up trees for another half hour saying “I own you” to each piece he cut off.

My boy is becoming a man one tree at a time.

Being Known of God and Going to Heaven

Knowing God is how one gets to heaven, and what heaven consists of. If this bores you, prepare for hell.

But knowing God can be a deceitful thing. Many claim to know God who merely know facts about God. The real test of knowing God is whether He knows you.

Paul says that knowing God is actually God knowing you. It’s not head knowledge; it’s a relational knowing. Whether God knows us is the true test of whether we know God.

God is larger than us and if we are to know Him, He must take an interest in us for us to learn about him.

If I want to know Barack Obama I’d have to call him and spend time with him. Except that Barack doesn’t know me and thus won’t spend time with me or talk to me on the phone.

Saying I know Mr. Obama because I know some facts about him is not the same as knowing him, because he doesn’t, and more than likely, never will know me.

But God desires to be known and thus is willing to know you so you can know Him. Yesterday I showed you words of Christ that said eternal life consists of knowing God.

Today I show you a verse that says eternal life is God knowing you. I absolutely love the Bible and its stunning continuity.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

Knowing God and being known of God are what eternal life consists of. God only grants eternal life to those He knows and to those who know Him, because you can’t truly have one without the other.

Knowing God and Going to Heaven

Many people express an interest in going to heaven. Heaven is generally brought up shortly after complaining about some dreaded experience in life, like car problems, health issues, and such like.

This isn’t all bad: it is indeed the sufferings of this world that pale in comparison with the glories of heaven. But I fear many stop here and view heaven as just like earth with less car problems and illness.

It isn’t. It’s much more and much different.

Heaven is about knowing God. A believer’s longing for eternal life is really a longing to know God better. Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Knowing God is eternal life. Knowing God is the way to get to heaven and the essence of being in heaven. Although many express a desire for eternal life in heaven, only those who are currently enthralled with knowing God now should have any expectation of going there.

In fact, if you have no discernible interest in knowing God here, I’m not sure you’re going to like heaven anyway. Heaven is not about you getting all your toys that don’t break; heaven is about getting God in full.

No interest in God? Then you have no interest in heaven. If you’d rather have toys, then get a job and go buy them. If you’d rather have heaven, then dump the toys and find God.

NASCAR and Prayer

A YouTube video featuring a plump southern pastor praying at a NASCAR race is making the rounds. Basically he makes a mockery of prayer by thanking God for all the NASCAR sponsors and throwing in the now pastorally obligatory “thank you for my smoking hot wife,” which taken literally she probably was smoking and since it’s been 300 degrees down south is, no doubt, hot as well.

There are two responses to this video:

1) This is the best prayer ever! Absolutely hilarious. ROFL!
2) This is sheer blasphemy, this pastor is heretic scum and should be stoned.

Here’s my response:

First off, it is funny. Secondly, it is total blasphemy. However, the whole notion of praying before a NASCAR race strikes me as blasphemy, it’s not the venue.

Guys who would use a prayer before a NASCAR race to share the Gospel may have their reward in heaven. In my book, accepting the offer to pray before a NASCAR race is mistake number one.

As a pastor I have had to pray in many venues, some of which seem ridiculous to me. Before church softball games, before Awana Grand Prix races, before many things that are nothing more than just plain fun.

I’m not opposed to praying before these things, but I am opposed to making prayer solemn in a unsolemn locale. At least before church softball or Awana Grand Prix you are talking to people who are aware that this is a churchy event.

NASCAR races are fun for those who find them fun. They are a gathering of people who enjoy partying, getting drunk and hoping to see guys get hurt, it’s no place for a prayer and you might as well have fun with it.

Would I do it? Not a chance, but this guy gives his stand before God someday and who knows, maybe God likes the high performance of Sunoco Racing Fuel and is glad someone finally thanked Him for it.

Ridiculous Giving and Spiritual Growth

“. . . one of the best things that could happen to many believers would be for them to be led to give away, all at one time, a substantial part of their savings.

“That is, they should give a substantial part of their capital.  Why?

“Because there is something about giving away a sizable percentage of one’s money – and, of course, the amount would vary entirely from one individual to another – that is spiritually invigorating.

“And there is seldom a case in which a large gift does not throw the Christian back on the Lord and increase the feeling that he is all-wonderful and that he is more than able to care for the one who trusts him.

“I have seen this happen in many instances.  And I have never known a true Christian to be sorry for even the most sacrificial giving afterward.”

James Montgomery Boice

Nahum, Jonah and Cookie-Cutter Pastors

Nahum was a prophet to Nineveh about 150 years after Jonah. Jonah warned Nineveh of doom and Nineveh frustratingly repented and the doom was averted.

Sometime after that (Jewish tradition says 40-days after Jonah left), Nineveh gave up on their repentance and returned to being a vile city in a vile kingdom. These were bad people and God finally has had enough.

Nahum comes to tell them that destruction looms. Nahum uses pretty nasty language about God pulling their skirts over their heads and throwing filth at them, throwing rocks and pouring out fiery fury.

Nahum got the job Jonah would have died to have.

Why did God choose Nahum to give this message and not Jonah? Was it merely a timing issue or was there something about their character that God used Nahum to give the final warning rather than Jonah?

Perhaps Jonah revelled in their destruction too much, maybe Nahum approached it with more humility. Perhaps that message if delivered by Jonah would have solidified Jonah in sin.

For whatever reason, God, in His wisdom, chose Nahum and not Jonah to talk about throwing filth on Nineveh.

As we observe the diverse landscape of modern Christianity, let’s avoid the tendency to make pastors, prophets, evangelists and other servants of the Lord all the same.

There is no cookie-cutter approach, yet for the most part one pastor is the same as the next. They tell the same sermon illustrations, with the same jokes, the same laugh, the same smile, the same tone of voice and inflection. It’s all so smooth, so practiced and so fake.

We’re all different. Many members, one Body. Don’t be afraid to use who you are as you humbly submit to God’s call on your life.