Posts Tagged ‘Evil’



May 7, 2014

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

Everyone has to wait. I don’t know of anyone who seeks to wait. We are forced to wait. We wait for the doctor; we wait in traffic; we wait in the grocery line; we wait for results; we wait for opportunities; everyone is confronted with the necessity to wait. Therefore, we get a lot of practice in how to wait well.

Alone on the train

The advent of Smartphone game apps makes waiting a little more bearable for me. I play solitaire on my Smartphone to pass the waiting moment. I will settle myself into a comfortable waiting chair and occupy my mind with a game of solitaire as I wait.

The particular solitaire app that I play has two game options. One option is a random dealing of digital cards. Cards appear on my screen from a random number generator with no reason or intention. It is  purely a matter of chance as to whether the cards will fall in such an order as to allow you to win the game. The other option is a dealing of a winning set of digital cards. In this case, someone has designed the order and placement of cards so that the hand can be won. It is a matter of stepping through the cards and discovering the design hidden in the stacks.


I noticed a pattern in my playing the last time I waited for my wife and daughter’s hunt for the elusive prey of fitting jeans. I noticed that I am rather impatient with cards randomly dealt. I am quick to abandon the game and move on to another because I know that chaos rarely allows a win.  A misplaced card will frustratingly block a stack that contains the link to successfully win the game and I will quickly give up.

Alternatively, I will patiently try to find the secrets of a game that I know to be designed. The knowledge that the game is not randomly driven, results in a surprising degree of patience. I will patiently flip through the digital cards long after I would have abandoned a random game with similar apparent barriers, because I know that chaos does not reign.

I realized that this pattern of patience in the simplicity of solitaire might hint at a wider truth. Waiting becomes difficult when we begin to lose hope that all will work out well. We are prone to act rashly when we sense the powerlessness that comes from waiting. The temptation to give up, grows proportionately to our belief that chaos reigns.

We are told to patiently wait for the Lord. There is a belief inherent in that command. Patient waiting only makes sense if there is a design behind the circumstances we find ourselves in. The knowledge that life’s circumstances are not randomly driven should result in enduring patience.

Because God is in control…

…we don’t have to fret about all that has gone wrong.
…we don’t have to fret about those who cheat to get ahead.
…we can refrain from anger.
…we can refrain from revenge.
…we know He will deal with the evil of the world.

Because God is in control, we can wait patiently for Him.

PRAYER: Father, you know that I don’t wait well.  Forgive the unbelief inherent in my impatience.  Lord, teach me your patience.  Teach me to trust you.  Teach me to wait upon you in faith.  Thank you for being in control.  Thank you for giving my life and this world a plan.  Thank you for the design that your hand has made in all things.  Open my eyes to the work of your hand in this world and my life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“RULE OF LOVE” – August 20

August 20, 2013

“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.”  Jeremiah 27:5

All representative societies have the rule of law as a cornerstone; a compilation of rules to ensure that the weakest of citizens are protected from the powerful.  The powerful are always  tempted to do what is right in their eyes.  Regardless of motivation, the rule of law intends to limit the exercise of power.

In a similar manner, I have a tendency to try and subjugate God to my concept of the rule of law.  I conjure a rule of love by which I seek to constrain the power of the divine into a paradigm that is acceptable to my sensibilities.  My rule of love encompasses all that is lovely and kind and pleasant.  I easily attribute all the byproducts of this rule of love to God.

However, my concept of the rule of love gets me into trouble when I read books like Jeremiah.  The prophecies of Jeremiah crush my feeble boundaries of love.  God’s wrath confronts my sensibilities.  I am tempted to retreat back into my little paradigm of love and turn away from the reality that the wine of God’s wrath has been and will be poured out upon a rebellious people.

Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send to you drink it.  They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.  Jeremiah 25:15-16

Babylonian captivity

Babylonian captivity (Photo credit: jimforest)

The sword that the Lord sent among them was the nation of Babylon.  The creation of the Babylonian empire was a brutal and horrifying saga of conquest.  Love was not the message of the Babylonian armies.  Death, misery, and suffering were the result of resisting the armies of Babylon.  Yet, it seemed right to God to give the Babylonians their empire.

Babylon was neither the first nor the last empire to gobble up vast portions of the earth.  History tells us of the Aztecs, Inca, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, the dynasties of China, the Mongols, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman, Nazi, Soviet, British, Japanese, and American; just to name a few.  God has allowed them all.  He was the one who determined it was right for them to rule.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Ti...

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Titus and the Roman legions in 70 CE) – painting by Francesco Hayez (1867) …item 3.. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish and 97,000 captured. (Photo credit: marsmet543)

Consider all that these conquerors have done to the conquered in the name of empire.  The savagery that humans have done to one another in the name of conquest turns my stomach and confounds all that I understand to be right and wrong, good and bad.

Conquest does not fit into a warm-fuzzy concept of the rule of love.

Many have turned from the God of the Bible when their concept of a loving God will not fit into biblical portrait of God that includes His wrath.  “A loving God would not do that”, is a statement that I have often heard.  Others refuse to look upon those scriptures that teach of God’s wrath.  Still others create theologies that make God respond to the development of empires, the atrocities perpetrated on the conquered, and all other forms of evil in this world.

These are all attempts to subjugate God to a rule of law that we have created; a rule of love that elevates God’s love above His wrath.

We forget the world that we live in.  This earth is not a world of love.  It never has been.  If it were a world of love, then we would not need a Savior.  The evil and sinful acts that happen every day in this world testify to our need of a Savior and remind us that we live in a world facing God’s wrath.

I believe that it is revealing that God’s wrath can be seen in the actions that are most clearly absent of His love.  When God’s love is withdrawn, the evil of man’s rebellious heart can be clearly seen.

It is a terrifying thought to live in a world without the love of God.  It is a fearful thing to face the wrath of God.  Jeremiah was prophesying of God’s impending wrath through the Babylonians so that God’s people would turn back to Him:

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.  Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.  Jeremiah 26:12-13

Likewise, it is good for us to behold a world without God’s love that faces only His wrath.  We do a disservice to all who walk in the flesh when we focus only on God’s love and ignore His wrath.  The warnings of God’s wrath are intended to persuade the lost to mend their ways and deeds and obey the voice of God.

All the evil that is perpetrated on this earth should remind us of our need for God’s love.  That is why Christ came to this world.  He did not come to make this world a nicer place.  He came to save sinners from the just wrath of the Father.  God’s most loving act was the sending of His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin to condemn sin in the flesh.  That is how God showed His love to the world.

The full revelation of God’s love is what is necessary to satisfy the final demonstration of God’s wrath.

We either accept all of God’s love through Jesus Christ or we get none of it.

That is the rule of love.

PRAYER: Lord, I fear your wrath.  I fear it for myself and for my enemies.  I fear a world that is absent your love.  Thank you for sending your son to save a sinner like me.  Thank you for showing such great love to this rebellious and sinful world.  Lord, I want all of your love.  Forgive me for those times that I have not valued your love for me as I should.  Forgive me for those times that the joy of my salvation, the joy in your love, does not radiate from my being.  Thank you for reminding my of your wrath and turning once again into the loving arms of your embrace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“LET’S (NOT) RODEO” – July 20

July 20, 2013

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

English: Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. ...

English: Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. Photo by Chuck Szmurlo taken July 10, 2007 with a Nikon D200 and a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to a rodeo the other night and was reminded of the amazing power of bulls.

Bulls possess the most natural raw power that I have ever witnessed from an up close and personal perspective.  I grew up around bulls, which instilled in me an incredible respect for their power.  I have seen a bull effortlessly rip a stanchion section from its moorings.  I have been sent running when a bull inadvertently flipped a 500 lb feed manager in the search of some remaining crumbs.  I have been aghast to watch a cattle trailer bulge unnaturally when some bulls decided to enter three abreast … after a slight encouragement on my part.  (That was a big oops!)

Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. The "...

Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. The “bullfighter” or “rodeo clown” is standing just to the right of the bull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the rodeo, I saw a 2,000 lb animal repeatedly leap about four feet into the air with a 170 lb man on its back while spinning until the rider was flung from its back like a rag doll.  That is power.  It is enough power to dissuade me from any inclination of crawling onto their backs and going for a ride.

I have always been apprehensive around bulls.  Growing up on a dairy, I had several jobs that required me to get into a corral with a bull.  I don’t know what it is but Holstein bulls seem to be more ornery than other breeds and we had several ornery bulls.  If they got too mean, my dad would get rid of them but too mean was always more subjective than I thought it should be.

I remember bedding down the animals during the winter.  We would get all bundled up in our insulated coveralls, boots, and gloves, mount-up on the tractor, and pull a trailer full of straw into the corral.  My dad and I would lug straw bales over the frozen and pocked surface of the corral, spreading the straw out to give the cows some protection from the temperature and slop.

The corral was an obstacle course of tripping hazards from iced, craters where animals had lain to frozen mounds of manure that had become heaped by mysterious forces.  Add to this pleasant landscape, the circus act of juggling an eighty pound bale of straw between walking, jostling knees while suspending it in the air from bailing twine stretched tight by a precarious backwards lean.

There were plenty of reasons to keep your eyes on the ground so that you would not take a tumble and find yourself immersed in all that animal goodness.  Unfortunately, the necessity of watching your step had to be shared with an eye toward the most aggressive resident of the corral.  While we spread the straw, the bull would circle our little perimeter.  He would paw the ground, head down and steam rolling from his nostrils.  He did not like us in his corral and his low, bray was a continual challenge to a fight.  My eyes were constantly darting from the ground to the bull and back to the ground.  I worked hard to keep as many cows, equipment, straw bales, and whatever else that was available between me and that ornery old bull.  It was a dance that I did not enjoy.

It was a dance that haunted my dreams.  One of my youthful reoccurring nightmares was of running from that bull.  I remember waking up exhausted from spending a dream filled night of jumping over fences, diving through stanchions, and sprinting across a corral while a bull was bearing done on me in a full-on charge.

I have never thought that playing with bulls or ignoring them were good ideas. 

It seems to me that there are many people who treat sin like a bull to play with.  They have a bull rider’s mentality when it comes to sin.  They don’t respect the power of the flesh enough to stay away from it.  They think that they can mess around with sin for their eight seconds of delight and walk away unscathed.  I find bull-riding the most unnatural of events at a rodeo.  All bull riders eventually get hurt.  I watched two riders limp away from their ride attempts just from our night at the rodeo.  Bull-riding is a very dangerous business.  In a rodeo, the bull always wins.  The rider may last for eight seconds but he is still flung to the ground and has to run out of the corral as the bull rampages.  In the same way, playing around with sin is a dangerous proposition.  Many of us allow the lingering attitudes of resentment, discontentment, gossip, sensuality, lust, crassness, etc. in our lives and think that nothing bad will transpire; as if we can manage spiritual forces of evil.  When I have done that, I am attempting to ride the bull of my sinful flesh.  It has never gone well for me.  Sin cannot be managed.  There are forces behind it.

There are always consequences to sin.  Some consequences may go unnoticed but the sweetness of my relationship with God has always affected when I have sought my delight apart from Christ.  No one gets away unscathed.  Eventually, someone is going to get hurt and in the meantime your life turns into a spiritual rodeo.  The eight seconds of delight has never been worth it.

However, I think that the greatest danger to most of mankind is indifference toward God.  I have never thought that ignoring a bull was a good idea.  It is an even worse idea to ignore God because an indifference to God is an equal indifference to the present darkness of this world.

Being indifferent to powers and principalities of this world is like taking an afternoon stroll through a corral of angry, ornery bulls.  We live in a world that is in rebellion.  It is a world that opposes our God and us by extension.  Why would we walk around indifferent to it all?  Our enemy is not indifferent to a Child of God.  God is not indifferent to us.

Why would we be indifferent to all that is occurring in the heavenly places? 

Life-Savers In Action

Life-Savers In Action (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

Living our life in a manner that is indifferent to our advocate and protector is sheer folly.  Just consider the attitude that allows us to go days without thinking about our savior; foolishness.  God actively protects those who are His.  God is much more than our bull-fighter but He does that very well.  Christ has put Himself between us and our enemy.  We should be doing all that we can to keep it that way. We should be living our lives with an eye toward the path before us but also be aware of the most aggressive resident of this world.

That means following Christ with all of our heart and stop the rodeo of sinful disobedience.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for playing around with the evil of this world.  Forgive me for not taking the spiritual forces of evil seriously.  Thank you for keeping me safe.  Thank you for keeping our enemy away.  Help me to follow you.  I don’t want my life to be a rodeo of sin.  I want to be more and more like you.  Please continue to transform my heart and help me to see this world for what it is.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



“MADONNA’S BABY” – June 11

June 11, 2013

“Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?  Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes.”  Job 21:7-8

Baby's cradleA little more than a decade and a half ago, my wife and I were without children.  This was not by choice.  We had been hoping to be what so many couples seemed to just become.  Yet, the gift of a child remained a mere dream.  Our friends and family would decide to have a baby and a couple months later they were pregnant.  We waited.  We watched the world growing around us and we waited.  Our waiting involved doctors, schedules, temperatures, medication, procedures, and prayer.

My wife and I were on a cycle induced emotional roller-coaster.  We received an unwanted answer to our prayers every month.  The optimism of getting the science right was always ground away in the reality of the elusiveness of life.  The hope of God doing a miracle was dashed against the hard answer of no.  Every month tears would be shed quietly in disappointment.  The question of why, was underlining many a cry out to God.  My wife and I would push back the feelings of hopelessness and try again for another month.  That was our walk through infertility.

It was during one of these low points when the answer of no was still bruising our hearts that the media heralded an event that pierced me through.  Madonna, the “Material Girl”, the woman who had published a sex book, the performer who had been fined for the explicitness of her concerts, was pregnant.

God was allowing Madonna to have a baby.

English: Madonna performing "La Isla Boni...I remember being incredulous about that news.  It was just wrong.  We loved God.  We were striving to follow Christ and glorify Him through this path of infertility that He had given us.  We were children of God and yet this woman, who denigrated the name of the Lord and His people, was being blessed with a descendent.  It was too much.  I was angry with God and the seeming injustice of His plan.  The unfairness of that news was palpable.

I remembering questioning, just like Job, why the wicked prosper.  It is so difficult to wait patiently upon the Lord when those who want nothing to do with God are still healthy and prospering.  They seem to be doing extraordinarily well without God.  It is easy to even start to admire and envy the success and freedom that those who oppose God seem to possess.

We are in trouble if our hope turns to a prosperous and healthy earthly life.  We will struggle if our joy and happiness lies in being materially prosperous between now and the grave.  The reality is that the wicked do prosper and the godly do suffer.  All you have to do is be observant to discover that there are not always detrimental material consequences to sin.  The good and righteous don’t always have the storybook ending in this life.  There are some whose sin does cause them to suffer in this life.  However, there are others whose sin is the source of their material success.

I don’t have an answer as to why the wicked are allowed to prosper on this earth.

“Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those who are on high?” Job 21:22

I do know that we all, wicked and righteous, will lie down alike in the dust, and the worms will cover us (Job 21:26).  Christ did not come into this world to make our lives better.  He did not become righteousness for us so that we would be prosperous and successful.  He came to save us from the grave and the punishment due our sin.

Death does not respect wealth or poverty.  It is not swayed by age.  It is not delayed due to a person’s happiness nor is it hurried by another’s misery.  Death comes at its appointed time to all.  Our faith in Christ is what matters at that time.  Our hope is for our reward beyond the grave that Christ saves us from.

Until that time, we are clay in God’s hand.  While we are on this earth, God will do with us as He has planned.  He will use circumstances to exposes areas of our lives where we have misplaced hope.  He will use suffering to show us where we love something more than Him.  He may use our misery for others in ways that we will never know.  We may struggle in our existence for a purpose beyond our comprehension.

Are you really ready to teach God how He should run the universe?  Do you think that you can educate God on fairness?  It did not work out well for Job when He tried it.

Our faith is so intertwined with our trust in God.  They are one and the same.  You cannot have faith without trusting in the promises of God.  We are told that God is working out everything for our good.

My wife and I have seen the faithfulness of God in our infertility.  We were blessed with two children through adoption.  He blessed us in a way that we had not anticipated.  I cannot imagine being a dad to anyone else.  I can now see God’s hand working through everything to bring those wonderful children into our lives.  Infertility and all of its disappointments and struggles was part of that process.  Now, I still don’t know why.  I don’t know what God has in store for my kids.  I don’t know the legacy that will come from them being raised and loved by my wife and I, but I do know it will be good.

My hope and prayer for them is that my Redeemer will be theirs; that their hope will be as mine, beyond the grave in the everlasting and loving arms of Jesus Christ.

I do know that God’s plan will be so worth it all.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me a hope that is beyond this world.  Forgive me for getting so focused on what is happening to me that I lose focus on who You are.  Thank you for having a plan that is for my good.  Help me to endure well for your glory in all that you have called me to be a part of here on this earth.  Lord, use me; mold me; make me into a vessel of value for your kingdom.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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