Episode 286: It is a question as old as time: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” (Jeremiah 12:1, ESV) Or to borrow a more common phrasing of a similar question: “Why do good things happen to bad people?” With so much evil in the world, with the prosperity of groups like ISIL who are grossing $1 million dollars a day and corrupt, dare I say treacherous, politicians succeeding and thriving, this is no doubt a question many people have today: Why? Tune in as I explore this important subject.
Today in Church History: The Unjust Execution of Boethius
Question of the Day: Should we avoid trials and temptations?
Episode 268: When people suffer, typically it is not arguments or formulae they seek to explain their pain. When people suffer, they are angry, hurt, mad, upset, furious with God. “Why me?” The greatest issue with people and suffering is not intellectual but emotional. Tune in as we explore how God does not try to get Himself “off the hook” with suffering but actually puts Himself on the hook through Jesus.
Episode 267: This is the 5th question in the “Six Question to Ask a Skeptic” series of lesson. Everybody suffers at some point in their life. Whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, regardless of race or sex or religion – everyone suffers. So is there any meaning or significance to the suffering? Tune in as I explore this question and deal with the problem of evil.
Episode 265: Comedian Robin Williams took his own life last week. His frenetic style could be rather blue at times. However, I knew him from his kid-friendly movies like Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire. He was brilliant, but tortured by depression. It was ultimately depression which lead to his suicide.
Depression is a serious mental condition which is not to be taken lightly. The church historically has been a haven for the mentally ill. In fact, early church writers considered conditions like depression as primarily a spiritual issue which must be handled with devotion to certain spiritual disciplines (i.e. fasting, prayers, etc.). While there may be a tendency on the part of some to scoff at this idea, we must remember that Christianity is a religion of the mind. We are to love the Lord our God with all our mind (Mark 12.30). Our minds are to be renewed so that we become transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 12.2).
Tragically, many who suffer from depression unfortunately turn to suicide and Robin Williams is a most recent example. Suicide is murder of self and murder is categorically condemned in Scripture (Genesis 9.6; Exodus 20.13; Leviticus 24.21; Deuteronomy 5.17; Luke 18.20; Romans 13.9). Murder is an affront to God because it strikes right at the crown jewel of His creation: His image in man. Suicide is smashing to pieces God’s image in one’s self.
Suicide is a sin. It is not the unforgiveable sin, but a sin nevertheless. Like all sin, it is selfish, focused on the gratification of the irrational thought (there’s the mind again) that the world would be better without me. However, doing yourself in is not doing your loved ones a favor. The grim truth is that family members and loved ones are left heartbroken and grief stricken as they attempt to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and move forward without this person.
Episode 241: A curious thing is happening in America. Have you noticed? Have you noticed how a crucifix is an object to be taken down for it is offensive while a homosexual man can parade down Main Street wearing nothing but thong underwear and it is deemed acceptable? Have you noticed how it is demanded that the Ten Commandments be removed from courthouses since they are archaic and draconian while the latest celebrity pop star continues their self-destructive behavior toward an early demise with his or her latest shocking display of immoral behavior? Have you noticed how teacher-led prayer is banned from schools but a teacher can access pornography on his work computer and he keeps his job? In fact, convicted pedophiles have never had it so easy; one man who raped a teenage girl (she eventually took her own life) was given 30 days in jail!
While the temptation is to think this present situation is unique to America, the reality is this has happened in the past all over the world. It happened in Greece. It happened in Rome. It happened in England. Frankly, it continues all over Europe. And it happened a long time ago in Israel, among the people of God. When it happened then, God spoke and said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, ESV) There is no blessing attached to what is happening to our nation, only a curse. It is a sad day when morality is so distorted that right is wrong and wrong and right. Terrible is the day when the distinctions between right and wrong are so confounded that light is said to be darkness and darkness is said to be light. Cursed is the day when the bitterness of sin is said to be sweet while the sweetness of the word of God is said to be wormwood.
The Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” I gave several examples of how this shows up practically in America. Now consider another way in which it shows up. Look at the sports and entertainment industries. Tim Tebow is a menace with his public display of prayer and was essentially run out of the NFL but Jason Collins (the first openly gay player in major sports) and Michael Sam (who recently came out and will be drafted into the NFL next month) are heroes. Sadie Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) and her Christian faith stands juxtaposed with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber whose lives have taken self-destructive turns. In each of these cases, the world lionizes the athletes or superstars who engage in immorality while disparaging the individuals who pursue of Biblical ethic.
There was somewhat of a proverb in Israel in the days of Malachi the prophet. , “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them” (2.17). These words “wearied” God. It seems this proverb has been revived in America. God looks favorably on you if you approve of immorality and “don’t judge.” The world has it all mixed up. Somehow God delights in you if you are open-minded and accepting of things He has clearly and categorically said are sin. In fact, this kind of specious reasoning wearies God. Frankly, He is tired of it. Especially among Christians. It is one thing for the world to have a mixed up idea of what is good and acceptable; they’ve rejected the wisdom of God. But when God’s own people do this, as in the days of Malachi, it is most unsettling and disturbing.
August of last year. District Judge G. Todd Baugh handed down a sentence of 30 days in jail to former high school teacher Stacey Rambold. Rambold’s crime? He raped a then-14 year old student who, when the criminal case went public, committed suicide just before her 17th birthday. The judge tried to justify his sentence, saying the girl had equal control of the situation and was “older than her chronological age.” It was a bitter pill to swallow for the young lady’s family and sparked outrage and protests in Billings, MT where the case was located. A bitter pill, and rightly so. The prophet Amos says, “O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!” (5:7, ESV) Wormwood is a bitter root which leaves a sour taste in the mouth and can be poisonous. Kind of like injustice. In fact, just verses later, Amos says the people have “turned justice into poison” (6.12). Failure to uphold justice and righteousness is a poison which will kill a society.
Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the planet until Jesus came, said, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15). He goes on: “It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice” (Proverbs 18:5). When justice is not done, evildoers rejoice (cf. Proverbs 21.15). “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). It should be plain with sentences like that mentioned above, the tip of the iceberg in which justice was not properly administered, that the American justice system is void of the wisdom of God. It was not always that way. John Jay, 1st Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once wrote, “In forming and settling my belief relative to the doctrines of Christianity, I adopted no articles from creeds but such only as, on careful examination, I found to be confirmed by the Bible.” How the mighty have fallen!
No nation has ever done what America is currently doing and lived to tell about it. The perennial pursuit for amusement and entertainment regardless of how base or depraved it may be; the increase of homosexual behavior and its acceptability as just another alternative lifestyle; the relentless termination of innocent human life through the savagery of abortion; the legalization of the gateway drug marijuana; the continued castigation and censuring of Christian moral values – all of these and many others are the telltale signs of a nation heading toward the brink of ruin if not already there.
The Christian response to all the darkness of culture and society are encapsulated in a phrase from Jesus: “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness” (Luke 11:35, ESV). People practicing wickedness love darkness and hate the light (John 3.19-20). It will always be this way. So those who follow Christ must pursue truth and seek purity in their lives. God says, “Woe to those who…put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5.20). This should never characterize the Christian. No wonder Jesus says, “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6.23) Claiming to be light but practicing darkness is the height of hypocrisy. So “live as children of light” (Ephesians 5.8, NIV). Be vigilant against the onslaught of the evil one and engage in what is good, right, and true.
Our purpose is to discern and determine the actions and attitudes which are pleasing to God (cf. Ephesians 5.10). We are to pursue fellowship with God, Who is light, and not fellowship with “the unfruitful works of darkness” (verse 11). In fact, we expose the works of darkness for what they are by shining forth the light of God’s word. We hold them up to Christ, the Light of the world, and compare to determine whether they are evil to be shunned or good we must hold fast.
Episode 220: We see the church over in Africa facing intense persecution and yet growing like crazy. When we compare that to our experience…well, we are not facing the same kind of persecution (if any) nor are we growing. What gives? Tune in as I explore this matter.
Question of the Day: Is it true that Jesus created everything?
Episode 211: It’s happening Syria. It’s happening in China. It’s happening in North Korea. Christians living under a totalitarian regime suffering for their faith. What does it really mean to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ? Tune in as I discuss what Jesus means when He says, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Episode 191: The millennial reign of…who? Must be chapter 20 of Revelation. The book of Revelation begins to wind down very rapidly and the 1,000 years figure shows up a lot. Tune in as I bring clarity to oft misunderstood (and exploited) passage.
Episode 189: God has issued his judgment concerning Rome (i.e. Babylon). Now comes the Word of God out of heaven to execute that judgment. Battle lines are drawn up for the Battle of Armageddon and then…tune in to hear what happens.
Question of the Day: What do Mormons really believe (part 1)?
Episode 188: There’s all kinds of noise in Revelation 18 as angel’s decree the judgment of Rome and as the various people on earth mourn over the destruction of Rome. What about the people of God? Tune in and note the contrast between the mourning of “those who dwell upon the earth” and the saints of God.
Question of the Day: Is the Bible historically reliable (part 2)?