The Christian Tendency to Fix Everyone Should Be Fixed

Job was a righteous man and he got nailed when God made a bet with Satan.

Job, wallowing in his pain and misery, desired someone to talk to, someone who was able to go between him and God to sort some things out. Job was confused. He knew he was righteous, but why all this bad stuff?

Job says, “Know now that God hath overthrown me.” The word “overthrown” is the same Hebrews word translated “crooked” in Ecclesiastes. Job is basically saying, “God has made me crooked!”

Job’s argument with his friends goes like this: “I know I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I don’t know why this is happening. I know God did it to me. I have no idea how to get rid of it. I have no clue. Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

How beautiful! Job knew he had been made crooked by God, thus he also knew there was nothing he could do to straighten out his crookedness. That which is crooked can not be made straight.

Job’s friends, on the other hand, knew exactly what to do! In Job 8, Bildad says

Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.

Bildad asks whether God’s judgment is perverted. The Hebrew word for “pervert” is the same word translated “crooked” in Ecclesiastes. Bildad knew God’s judgment couldn’t be perverted, THEREFORE, Job is merely getting judgment for his sins. Job should repent and then God would straighten!

Fascinating! Bildad was wrong! Bildad’s hypothetical question, “Doth God pervert judgment?” implies a “no” answer, but his explanation of that answer is wrong! Does that mean God’s judgment of Job is perverted and crooked?

By all appearances, yes! Job didn’t know what was going on, he just knew God would take care of him.

Bildad knew exactly what was going on and exactly how Job could take care of it, and was utterly wrong!

Here’s the thing about straightening crookedness: We don’t even know what the background issues are, how can we possibly think we know how to solve these issues?

Yet who do Christians tend to resemble when they hear other people’s problems:

Job: I don’t know, lets wait and see. No matter what, lets trust God
Bildad: I know what God is up to. Here’s how to fix your problem.

Let us be swift to hear and slow to speak. We cannot straighten that which is crooked. Never forget that we’re part of the crooked.

We Can’t Fix the World’s Problems

Two times Ecclesiastes says, “That which is crooked can not be made straight.”

Crooked things are twisted, perverted, messed up things. Like pretty much everything around us.

This is a fascinating concept. You can’t fix things.

Humanity cannot solve humanity’s problems. Are we aware of this? Or do we just ignore this bit of wisdom like we do the rest of Ecclesiastes?

Isaiah talks about crooked things being made straight three times. Each time the one straightening the crookedness is God.

God is the one who dropped crookedness on us as a result of our rebellion against our Creator. He made the world good; sin made it bad. God warned us that would happen.

God is not crooked, but He’s not afraid to give us crooked results for our crooked actions. God also, however, says that through His goodness we can be made straight.

But nothing else can straighten our crookedness. Got that?

Are you sure?

Government cannot straighten our crookedness. We can not pass laws enough to make us and our problems straight. The war on drugs and the war on poverty demonstrate this quite well. All our best philosophies and tons of resources have gone into solving these problems. Yet the problems persist, and in some ways are worse than ever.

The Church cannot straighten crookedness. Not even if all our guys were voted into office and all our constitutional amendments passed, all our laws were enacted, and Ten Commandments monuments were on every block, still society’s problems would persist.

You cannot solve everyone’s problems. No matter how much you think you know, you are not the one who is equipped to solve other people’s problems.

That which is crooked cannot be made straight.

How depressing.

Actually it’s not depressing, it’s a main reason why people end up going to God! He’s the only one who can straighten our crookedness.

But hang on, before you start thinking you know how to get God to do your bidding, the ultimate straightening is not until He returns, removes the curse, and sets all things right.

We won’t get peace in the Middle East. We won’t solve poverty. We won’t be able to stop homosexuals from getting married. We won’t be able to stop abortion. We won’t.

I know this is not what various organizations who need your donations will tell you, but it is what the Bible says.

So, what do we do? Just sit by and watch the world flame out? Sort of. But we also know the One who can put fires out.

We are to 1) obey God. 2) Stop complaining. 3) Hold onto and hold out the word of life. In so doing we stand out like lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:12-16).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. Not politicians. Not the church. Not Ten Commandment monuments. The Gospel offers deliverance from crookedness.

But remember, even there, you still live in a crooked world and will get crookedness no matter how much you believe the Gospel. Faith does not deliver you from the curse of the Fall in this life.

That’s why Solomon concludes that life on this earth is vain. This is not our home. Our home is much more straight. Bring the reality of that home into your own life.

No, you can’t solve poverty, but you can help those in need. No, you can’t stop the homosexual agenda, but you might be able to help a homosexual. No, you won’t be able to end abortion, but you may be able to help a young girl care for her child.

Stop worrying about solving all the world’s problems and take advantage of the opportunities around you. Live the Gospel. Preach the Gospel. Let the Lord do the straightening.

Talking About God Does Not Equal Knowing God

Talk is cheap, which is why people do it so much. If we had to pay for everything we said, I guarantee we’d maintain silence.

Talk is also cheap in that words mean next to nothing. Putting your trust in the words of others is a fine way to be let down.

Faith is firmly rooted in God’s Word. God, who knows all things, limited His written revelation to about 1,000 pages. When you consider this, it’s astounding! The amount of words I have written far outnumber God’s! Guess who has more valuable stuff to say? The One who said less. Go figure.

God seems to measure His words, not saying too much nor too little. Sure, we’d like Him to have said more about certain theological issues we argue about and less about genealogies and stuff about ram fat. But God knew what He was doing.

God, who knows all things, said very little. People who know little, often say a lot. In fact, we often substitute verbosity for knowledge. We try to cover ignorance with words.

While Jeremiah bemoans the nearly ruined people of Israel, he describes them to God like this:

You [God] are near to their lips
But far from their mind.

Religion often uses words in place of knowledge. Since few actually know God, yet aren’t comfortable admitting that, they use religious blather to fill the gap. We all lose.

We lose because we have to listen to religious blather.
We lose because we think being religious means being wordy.
We lose because the most vocal people who take over are often the least informed.
We lose because while listening to empty words, we waste time not getting to know God.

The most important thing is to know God. If you don’t know Him, don’t get caught up in verbose religiosity. Don’t try to fool others by using much speech to cover your ignorance.

Long prayers don’t please God, nor does long speech of any kind! Be still and know God. Let the talk flow out of your natural growth in knowledge; don’t let it be a substitute for knowing Him.

“Survival of the Fittest” is the Atheist Version of “God’s Word is True Because It Says it’s True.”

People make many statements, a large portion of which make no sense after a little bit of thought.

Circular reasoning is the basis of many of our “factual” statements. When you catch one of these in action, they’re quite fun to point out.

If a guy were trying to be impressive, he would use the word “tautology.”

Tautology is being redundant, saying the same thing over again, repeating yourself. Exactly.

A tautological statement then is an “empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false; for example, the statement Either it will rain tomorrow or it will not rain tomorrow.”

Here is a classic piece of tautology widely accepted by many: Survival of the Fittest.

Pointing out the tautology of the Survival of the Fittest goes like this:

Animals who survive are the fittest.
How do you know they are the fittest?
Because they survived.
How did they survive?
Because they are the fittest.
But how do you know they are the fittest?
Because they survived.

And on and on. Survival and Fittest are equated thereby saying the say thing. Survival proves the Fitness, and Fitness proves the Survival.

A classic Christian tautology goes like this:

I believe God’s Word is true because God’s Word says it’s true.

Now, as much as you may believe God’s Word is true because it says it is, you can’t be shocked when someone who doesn’t take God’s Word as truth rejects this line of reasoning.

God’s Word is true.
How do you know God’s Word is true?
Because it says it is.
How do you know that’s true?
Because God’s Word is true.
But how do you know God’s Word is true?
Because it says it is.

Come up with something a little better. Repeating your circular reasoning will win few arguments.

If we demand higher logic out of evolutionists, perhaps we should start with us.

Coexisting With Other People’s Sin

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners. I don’t think universal sinfulness is any sort of new revelation. No kidding.

But the Bible has a point to make about the fact we are all guilty before God–Don’t judge too harshly, consider your own faults before dealing with others, and lighten up would ya?

No really. That’s one of the main points. Consider:

Ecclesiastes 7:20, proof text extraordinaire for this subject, says, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Look at what comes next:

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.”

Since we are all sinners, you must regret some things you have said or done. Therefore, take it easy on others who probably regret what they just said or did that is currently offending you.

Sin is bad. We’re not supposed to do it. But the Bible seems pretty consistent on the fact that we must learn to coexist with sin. We’re not to make peace with sin in our own lives, we are to battle it. This battle WITH OUR OWN SIN should produce humility.

You know you are fighting your own sin seriously when you are humbled enough to lighten up on the sins of others.

Jesus is our ultimate example. He just didn’t seem to have a problem with the awful sins of sinners. He mostly had a problem with people who had a problem with other people’s sins–Pharisees, scribes, elders, “judgmental, self-righteous church people.”

We should learn from all this. The Church should be a place where we’ve learned our lesson and been humbled sufficiently.

Yet the Church seems to major on hammering the sins of others. We’re offended at everything. One person says one thing just a little bit off on Facebook and we must set them right with all the self-righteous verbiage at our disposal.

Good night people! Have you never said anything a little bit off where maybe you can ease up a bit?

The Bible says when we judge others, God will use the same standard to judge us. That should make us never open our mouths again. Ever.

Instead we can’t keep the gaping hole shut.

If you view sin as a problem, shut up about it and fight off your own.

Hey Church, Fight the Right Enemy

James McPherson is an excellent Civil War historian. He has written volumes on the Civil War.

In his recent book he talks about the arrogant Union General, George McClellan, who completely failed as a general. The more he failed, the more arrogant and mean he got. Here is a snippet of one of his tirades against people ON HIS SIDE.

The Secretary of War, he wrote his wife, was “the most depraved hypocrite & villain” he had ever known. If he “had lived in the time of the Savior, Judas Iscariot would have remained a respected member of the fraternity of Apostles.”

I have to admit, that’s pretty funny.

McPherson goes on to explain that McClellan had more animosity and hatred for other generals and politicians of the Union than he ever expressed toward the actual enemy, the Confederates.

Wow, if that doesn’t sound like church!

McClellan had early success as a leader of troops, which vaulted him quickly into the echelons of power. Immediately this new-found power went to his head, and the jerkness began.

McClellan began to lead troops not to win, but to not fail to maintain his reputation. The more he was criticized for his inaction and losses, the more vile his blame of others became.

Although one of the most despised Civil War Generals by historians, he is a fascinating study in human behavior.

Early success is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. We watch athletes and pop singers hit the big time at a young age, and before long they are bombed out on drugs and committing suicide.

It’s a sad thing. But most of us don’t get that sort of extreme stuff. But we find something out, something no one else knows, some new insight into Jesus and we think we’ve arrived.

We then begin to belittle and bash all those who don’t see things like we do, since we had our big experience and insight.

Knowledge puffs up. Pride and arrogance are our biggest dangers. We ought to fight the true enemy rather than blame fake enemies.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. You are your biggest problem, not anyone else. Fight that fight first. Take the beam out of your eye before worrying about dust in others eyes.

When Not to Be Like God

Several times the Bible tells us to be like God and many times to be like Christ.

We should all say with John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He must increase” when it comes to our life.

The point of salvation is to be delivered from ourselves, to be created new in Christ Jesus, so that the life I now live is not mine, but Christ’s.

I lose me; I gain Christ. That’s a sweet deal.

But we should also consider a word of caution when it comes to being like God/Christ.

Not all of who God is should be who we are.

Proverbs 24:12 says “shall not he [God] render to every man according to his works?” God is paying attention and will reward or judge what we do. It’s His prerogative to do so as our Creator and our Judge.

Later in Proverbs 24 we are told “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

Proverbs 24:29 tells us not to render to every man according to His work like God does.

So, how come we are told to be like God and yet told here not to do what God does?

No matter how much like God or Christ you become, you are no one’s judge. You don’t get to take revenge on others. We are to leave that up to God.

In this way, actually, we become like the incarnate Christ. Jesus Christ let them beat Him, spit on Him, reject Him, and crucify Him. He did not retaliate nor defend Himself. He asked that His Father’s will be done and submitted Himself even unto death.

That’s what God wants us to be like: submitted to His will regardless of the cost. This is how humans can be most like God.

A few other examples where we aren’t to be like God: We should not go through life with a messiah complex. We should not act as though we are all-knowing, nor all-powerful, and we certainly can’t be omnipresent! You don’t know the future, so stop telling people what’s going to happen there.

Our character is molded into Christ’s character. We are to have the mind of Christ, which is the mind of a servant willing to die for others. That’s where we are made like Christ. Right there.

Serving others as we serve our Father in heaven. Love. That’s who we should desire to be. God is love. Go be that.

168mph Fastballs and Doubts About Christianity

Last Wednesday was April Fool’s Day. I have never liked April Fool’s Day. I don’t like idiots. I don’t know why we have a day to celebrate them.

30 years ago there was a classic April Fool’s Day prank pulled by Sports Illustrated. They did a huge article on a guy, Sidd Finch, who could throw a 168-mph fastball due to his excessive training in yoga, who was considering leaving baseball to play the french horn.

The subhead of the article reads, “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd’s deciding about yoga — and his future in baseball.”

Read the first letter of each word. “Happy April Fool’s Day–ah fib.”

Many people believed the article. Two general managers of other ball teams called the commissioner expressing reservations about the safety of hitters. On April 8, Sports Illustrated had a blurb saying that the fictitious pitcher had retired. It wasn’t until April 15 that they admitted the whole thing was fake.

Ever wonder if Christianity is just a huge April Fool’s joke?

I think every believer would admit to that haunting thought in the back of the head saying, “What if this is all fake? What if I’m wasting my time? What if I’m being fooled and in the end, I’m just a fool?”

Doubt is part of faith. Until we have definitive proof, we will have doubt. Seeing is not believing; seeing eliminates belief. Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe. We walk by faith, not by sight.

People tend to doubt what they should not and trust what they should not. Since we have a whole day set aside for it, we understand the intrigue of being fooled. We are a skeptical people.

This is a good thing. Skepticism is what leads to learning. Doubt leads to seeking answers. Don’t buy the line that doubt is always bad. Yes, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you have doubts about Christianity, about Christ, the resurrection, about life after death, or anything else, that’s fine. But don’t just wallow in the doubt.

Seek and you will find. Do some research. Check out the alternatives. If Christians get hot and bothered about doubt, about researching other options, it merely shows our insecurity.

Christ is big enough to defend Himself.

For me, I’ve looked at the other options. Christianity, although containing many things hard to be understood, was the most credible option to me. Other religions have the veneer of being humanly devised. See my recent post about why I believe the Bible.

Faith will push you. Faith has to be hard. Faith will contain elements of doubt throughout. But what will you do with that doubt? Will you rant and rave against God? Will you give up? Will you be inspired to search it out? Will you mock those who believe what you cannot?

Answer carefully. Until we see God as He is, doubt will linger. Is your faith big enough to handle doubt? If you never have doubts, be careful, there’s a chance you never think.

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

If You Like Change, You Should Change

Because life is vain and mundane, we tend to like change.

We are surrounded by options because who wants to eat the same food every day? Who wants to listen to the same music every day? What wants to watch the same movie over and over?

Kids do, that’s who.

Kids like stuff and then keep wanting that stuff. I always liked pizza and, as a kid, could never figure out why my parents didn’t just have pizza for supper every day. How awesome would that be?

But parents say “you’d get sick of pizza if you had to eat it every day.”

Well, even as a kid, I was man enough to take that chance.

Jesus Christ tells us to have the faith of a little child. Children don’t get tired of the same thing over and over. In fact, they revel in the same thing over and over.

Adults get bored. We know about options and choice. We want new stuff, not the same old stuff.

When Israel wandered in the Wilderness they wanted food options. At one point they desired to go back to bondage in Egypt where they at least had a menu. Out in the wilderness it was just bread. Bread, bread, bread.

Don’t even get them started on water.

When it comes to food, I very much have the faith of a child. It frustrates my wife. She asks me before grocery shopping, “What do you want for supper this week?” Every week my answer is “Spaghetti.”

I have eaten the same basic breakfast for many years and the exact same lunch for more years than that. I’m a simple man. I’m not hard to please. I don’t need many options.

As a good Christian, I let my natural proclivities prove my spiritual maturity.

There is one fundamental change we all need–you must be born again. After that change, other changes will come in as you cease to be you and begin to be more like Christ.

That is good change.

But change for the sake of change, as a habit, is bad.

My son, fear the Lord and the king;
Do not associate with those who are given to change.”

There is something wrong with people who need change. If you hang with people who like change, you should change who you hang with.

Some change is good: the change that forms you into Christ.

Fleshly motivated change is bad.

As my favorite hymn, Be Still My Soul, says

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Amen!

Radical and X-Treme Mundane Faith

Life is filled with feedback when you’re a kid.

You’re either getting grades, awards, recognition for excellence or else getting in trouble. Whether you do good or bad, someone is there to point it out.

In a way, that’s kind of nice. You get the idea that people are paying attention to you, so even if you’re in trouble constantly, you’re at least getting attention!

People want to know what you’re doing, what your favorite subject in school is, what sports or instruments you play. As you grow older it’s about what college you want to go to, what your major is, are you married yet?

Then you hit about 25 years of age and suddenly, you get no feedback at all. You don’t get in trouble by anyone often, nor do you get any praise or rewards. There’s no report card letting you know how you’re doing.

Life can seem pretty dull. Nothing is happening that anyone is paying attention to. What gives? Am I not doing anything anymore?

Maybe, more than likely people just aren’t paying attention anymore.

This gets to people. A “mid-life crisis” is a real thing. Life is just the same dumb thing day after day with no reward. No one asks you what’s going on because they already know what’s going on. Even when we are asked what’s going on, we reply “same old same old.”

Boring.

Lots of times Christian advice comes in and says, “You need to live radical in Jesus! Restore the grandeur of adventure by stepping out on faith! X-treme faithful radicalness, man!”

Maybe. Perhaps we could use less Candy Crush and more evangelism in our lives.

However, I think we need to be ware of that advice too. Life is vain. Life is mundane and routine. That’s the way it is. Whether your life is exciting or boring, it’s still vain!

Our desire for change and for new isn’t always good. The People of Israel wandered in the Wilderness whining about the same food every day and following the same guy every day. BORING!

Israel wanted Radical X-Treme rather than mundane following God and doing your job.

Life is boring, I don’t mind saying it. Yeah, there are ups and downs that pique our interest from time to time. But most days are just like most other days and that’s fine.

We live for heaven and eternity. That is our hope, our source of joy, our source of wonder. This life is toiling to eat. That’s the Fall that felled us all.

We endure for the joy set before us. Endure. Fight the fight. Run the race with patience. Watch out for the itchiness of mundaneness. Sin often fills that longing.

Do your job. Wake up to righteousness. Give each other some encouragement along the way. Slug away at faith day by day.

You’re doing a good job, and I like your shoes.