Exodus Theology 101
Posted September 2019. S. Basham.
A survey of a life’s journey, choices and consequences, forgetting and remembering and belonging to a transformative community.
Most new Christians have times when everything goes right…then we have to work
This was evidence of God’s presence every day on a journey they knew took over a week via the short route. God said NO to this for their protection and took them a way they didn’t know that looked the opposite direction.
God wants us to run out of self-sufficiency…..it is in dependence we learn to trust the nature and character of God and not our own ability. Grumbling against God shows you don’t know Him well yet.
Recovery and spiritual growth means we must remember who we were before Christ and in the desert [the speaking place], we form relationship with God and others. We can’t do this alone. The ‘promised land’ is not for individuals; that’s why we need community. WE all get enough ‘bread from Heaven’ for every day if we collect it and don’t become complacent or grumble it’s not enough.
We are in a hurry to get to where we think we should be after all our suffering and abuse. We think God ‘owes’ us because He took us on as His project and know He can do the miraculous. God needs time with us to change us from slaves to His people, a nation and those who are united to possess the future. God’s cloud, fire and manna did not stop. It takes years at some of the stops on the journey.
When God takes too long [in our estimation], or our leader is away, we can fall into idolatry, blaming others and looking for ‘entertainment’ that’s immoral because we look fondly back on the past and think it wasn’t THAT bad. Our ‘baggage’ is meant to be offered to God to transform into Holy things.
WE can easily take God’s everyday presence.
We can easily take God’s every day presence for granted and forget He IS with us every day, even when we don’t ‘feel’ it. When we feel ‘stuck’ in a place for years and can’t see ahead, the cloud is upon us and in front of us.
God doesn’t think we need to know what’s ahead yet when we are stuck for a while, God may be doing deep holiness work in us and our community so we ‘tabernacle’ with Him. We all move on in community.
The daily sacrifices and sin offerings required the one sacrificing to put their hand on the head of the animal and mentally transmit their sin so it could be killed and BURNT. We at times, feel ‘burnt’ by our sin and feel things in our lives are ‘killed-off’, removed or taken. WE grieve, we hurt, and we lament: transformation is painful….it costs.
How quickly after God moves-us-on we grumble against God and His provision again. God gives us glimpses of what is ahead that we prove not to be ready for due to our grumbling, fear, anxiety and not believing what God said was true. Our own toxic poison bites us. God provides a healer for our poison. We go back into the desert [the speaking place] to be refined, purified, become untied as a community, remember the God who IS able, don’t take for granted the everyday Cloud, Fire and Manna and realise we CAN do what He says, together.
The cloud will lift, the burnt offering becomes Christ and Jesus is our everyday bread from heaven. Don’t quit on community.
Pastor Sandra Basham 2019
Job's Friends - when friends go wrong.
Posted November 2017
Job’s friends and the testing of friendship with bad theological advice
The chapters 4-37 of the book of Job outline what Job’s friends think, believe, say and DO in the midst of the intense suffering of their friend Job. The friends are genuinely concerned, genuinely devastated for Job and initially, are most helpful when they are silent and grieve in the culturally acceptable way [ sackcloth, ashes, weeping and silence]. The friends are there observing Job’s distress and are ‘there’ during Job’s suffering, which some Jewish theologians believe was either over 7 months or 7 years. That’s a high level of commitment to the friendship, regardless of how their dialogues become more and more ungodly and unhelpful to Job.
The friends haven’t left Job in his distress, nor given up on making sense of the compound disasters. They have not said God has totally abandoned Job, however, they struggle to explain the calamities without resorting to flawed theological beliefs about the nature of God or trying human reasoning for the inexplicable – which, upon reading the chapters is interpreted as criticism, judgment, self-justification, prideful boasting and woeful ignorance of the nature of God…AND ignorance of what God is doing in eternity despite Job’s disastrous circumstances. They completely ignore the possibility Satan is attacking Job and that God has a divine purpose they do not understand.
Let’s look at the friends.
Eliphaz – [ch 4, 15, 22] who confronts Job with Job’s impatience and his rash words, somehow indicating that Job ought to be a better example and not be discouraged in all this, because the disasters obviously show that Job is not as righteous as he thinks he is. Eliphaz resorts to speaking about how God speaks to him and then tells Job that according to his theology, if Job were righteous, none of this would be occurring, because his God doesn’t work that way…God punishes wicked sinners. He challenges Job to apply his own ideas to himself…do what I do…stop whining, complaining and arguing with God and with me…I’m right, you’re wrong (ch15:17)…wicked men suffer, admit it….(ch15:20-35). God is punishing you and your family for your sins [generational curses doctrine]. Eliphaz even says Job is unimportant to God because true piety is always rewarded…he calls Job a liar and says because Job wasn’t a generous, caring person to the needy…what Job didn’t give, he was now losing (ch22:6-11) [cause & effect theology]. Only good, generous people are given riches [prosperity doctrine].
Bildad – [ch 8, 18, 25] accuses Job of exaggerating his suffering [fake-it-till-you-make-it, or positive confession theology] and accuses Job’s children of bringing judgement upon themselves (ch8:3-4). He accuses Job of ‘acting’ righteously, with impure motives and incorrect theology (ch8:3-6 / ch18) [sectarian factionalism thinking]. Bildad suggests God views Job as evil and Job’s worth is like a cow or maggot to God: that God doesn’t love Job, Job doesn’t love God – God is ‘distant’ and concerned only with judgment - and that’s why Job is weak, diseased, his children have died and he’s lost everything (ch 25)[Phariseeism].
Zophar – [ch 11] Speaks once. Says Job is talking like a fool and that he’s got more wisdom than Job about what God’s kind of righteousness actually is (ch 11). He suggests Job is deceitful and sinful and that’s why all this has happened [the righteous do not suffer]. Zophar gets defensive of his stance and accuses Job of wicked pride and craving and hoarding wealth, which means [in his theology] God will remove his wealth, family and health as punishment for not sharing what he had with those poorer than himself [not getting life & priorities right = punishment].
Elihu – [ch 32-37] The youngest…He has been silent for a long time and emotionally engaged in the blame-game dialogue, but has been a silent, angry observer, figuring out how to have his say about Job and the other 3 friends. His anger [aph = snorting nose in Hebrew] burned [charah = a hole with stuff bursting out…excrement]…. Elihu believed that God needed somebody to defend Him and Elihu took on that role. Elihu was angry with Job for being angry at God [positive confession & fake it till you make it thinking], because its sinful to be angry at God….despite 70 psalms of lament in the scriptures. Elihu was also angry the older men hadn’t resolved Job’s issues and he disliked their critical approach to Job. He spoke out of ANGER for a long dialogue [activated primal brain, not logical]. Elihu used the approach – Job, you’re no different to me…God has found fault with me; he’s got to find fault with you (ch33:6-11). Elihu advocates that the group of the friends determine for God, what has been the cause of Job’s suffering, so the issue can be over as he’s frustrated with it asit’s taking too long (ch34:1-4) – it’s obviously cause & effect! Elihu insinuates there is a hidden darkness in Job that he believes is rebellious and arrogant and says that Job doesn’t know how God works 34:35-37 [projection of his own stuff?] . Elihu corrects the 3 older friends for their poor theology about God not caring (ch36-5-12)…however, he says God only cares for the truly righteous [Phariseeism]. Elihu however, does not slander God and is not later rebuked by God.
OK, let’s examine these types of friends when they surface in our own lives as a point of making sense of one of the messages of the Book of Job and how to apply this to ourselves and our relationships.
Imagine you have suffered on multiple levels; loss of relationships, loss of health, loss of ability to work and loss of assets…sinking into depression and grief…..stuck! Then your friends turn up to comfort you…..
The Eliphaz types would come and tell you to ‘suck it up’, stop whinging, get up and on your feet…..get busy……go back to work, don’t complain or blame God….. and would then ask later if there were secret sins in your family, marriage and wonder if you were under a generational curse that needed breaking…. Because… something was wrong with you or your family because God only rewards the generous and good people…let’s discuss now: were you generous with what you had - to earn God’s blessing? [earning God’s approval / brownie-points theology]
BIldad types come along and tell you at the worst possible time, that you need to ‘chin-up’ and ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’….everything is ‘positive confession’, it’s ‘sowing and reaping’…….it’s not that bad! God is still on His throne and all is good. It’s not that bad because it doesn’t matter to God anyway…and there is no point carrying on about it, because the person’s view of humanity, you and self is inconsequential. Humans are nothing in God’s economy: God’s pawns. God sends evil on wicked people only.
Zophar types come along and says things like you need to stop living in the past, move-on, move out - you’re stuck in the consequences of thinking selfishly about your losses and you need to think of everybody else: You’re not living an ‘others’ focused life…how self-obsessed! If you did what they suggest, got your priorities right and burned-out working for others & serving others…..things would improve and you wouldn’t feel so alone or so bad….God will reward that apparently.
Elihu types come along and are not logical at all, he/she gets agitated about how long things take to get better for you and is frustrated with all the philosophical debate about what you’re suffering , why, and what that means. They’ve lost patience with everybody, especially you! What’s needed is a speedy recovery! Elihu’s will not listen as much as tell you all his/her own stories as a point of saying – why don’t you do what I did and you can get over it?
What is clear from the Scriptures is that disaster is not always God’s judgment [Luk 13:4] God said Job was a righteous man [Job 1:8; 2:3]. Paul suffered many disasters [2 Cor 11:24-26]; the apostles were martyred for doing the right thing. We can all suffer when we are in God’s will, we can prosper when we are not. WE do not make the rules.
Maybe if our friends are suffering, we need to shut-up and wait. When our friends are in agonising circumstances, they may NOT have done anything wrong. We do not have to resort to telling people how God works according to human wisdom or our various denominational theologies: Scripture speaks for itself. God does not change (Ex 34: 6-8; Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8; Jam 1:17) God cannot be controlled and is in charge of all life circumstance (Isa 45-6-7). God is fair and just in all He does (Deut 32:4). God has purposes we do not understand this side of eternity (James 1:1-16).
God is bigger than all of human ideas. In Job 42:7 God rebukes all the friends (except Elihu) because they misrepresented Him. May we, not misrepresent God, nor speak out of our frustration, anger and challenged theologies when we ourselves, or our friends suffer.
It is important to consider…if God says the friends theology misrepresented Him, we cannot use those verses to accurately depict God of how God works. Maybe these verses were written for our instruction….(2 Tim 3:16).
Pastor Sandra Basham.
Posted on October 27, 2014
Greek Word – μυστήριον mystērion, from which we get mystery and mystic. Typically this is communicated as being a truth that is hidden. However I suspect writers like Paul the Apostle were well acquainted with the “Mystery Cults” of the Greek World and wanted to communicate a truth that went beyond the simple conveying of “something hidden”.
The Mystery Cults came about prior to Christ and lasted for a couple of centuries after him. They were formed in the belief that if the initiates performed actions that were reflective of the life of the god they followed, that they would also partake in the god’s glory – that some benefit would accrue to them.
Paul is very deliberately drawing this parallel and indeed in 2 Corinthians 1 verse 7 he states “and our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also the consolation”. It seems that Paul is absolutely of the opinion that if we partake in the life of Christ we will also partake in the resurrection of Christ.
Romans 6:5-9 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.”
This belief has been somewhat hidden from the Protestant Church, perhaps for fear of falling into sacramentalism. Sacramentalism is the belief that if we undertake certain actions (sacraments) that will be sufficient to avail for salvation. Partaking of the sacraments; baptism, confirmation, confession, communion etc then becomes a (poor) substitute for following a life that is truly reflective of Christ’s life. It is true that Jesus underwent baptism, received the Holy Spirit and instituted the last supper, but I don’t think for one moment that Paul is alluding to these things when he talks about being partakes in Christ’s life and death. No doubt the Protestant fathers despised the empty sacramentalism of the Roman Church at that time, but in the eagerness to steer the faithful away from these beliefs they appear to have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
The net effect of this is that these messages of Paul have been diluted or lost and in it’s absence the prosperity doctrine of health and wealth has arisen.
But these messages are important because throughout his writing Paul invites us to live in a way that reflects the life of Christ.
Consider Phillipians 3 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
and Ephesians 5 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
So we see how Paul weaves this narrative into his letters and yet we as pentecostals are bereft of this message and continue to wonder how we should live our lives.
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Posted on April 9, 2013
Having, finally, come to the end of ourselves, we now need to ask the question as to how things might be fixed? We owe a debt we cannot pay no matter how we might try and worse still, like a shopaholic in a designer store, we continue to do things that make it worse.
So what do we need?
1) Well first off we need some way to pay the debt.
2) Then we need somehow to put right all the damage we have done
3) and then we need to change ourselves completely so that we don’t continue to make it worse.
4) Oh and by the way, we also need somebody to act as a sponsor so that we don’t fall back into our old ways and if we do will pick us up dust us down and set us back on the right track – and pay for any damage we might have done during our relapse.
Hmmm, dream on sunshine that’s never gonna happen right? Right?……..
Well now I have some good news for you. The bible says “God so Loved the World that He sent his only begotten Son that whoever might believe on Him would not perish but have eternal life. He came not to condemn the World, but that through Him the world might be saved”.
It also says that “the wages of sin is death” rightly so – as we have discussed sin is Godlessness and rebellion, but then it goes on to say ” but the free gift of God is eternal life”.
What does all that mean? Let’s examine the four needs we have identified earlier.
1) We need someone to pay our debt – someone has paid our debt, his name is Jesus, the Son of God, sent from God. You see God cannot just ignore our debt, instead he has paid it himself. When Jesus went to the cross his death paid our debt.
2) Putting right the damage we have done – Jesus was laid in a tomb, dead on Friday before sunset. On Sunday morning at sunrise he rose from the dead. But his body was not the same, he could walk through walls and later we find that his physical body could dwell in eternity (Heaven). You see Christ’s body was now what it should be – what ours would have been before sin robbed us. Scripture calls His resurrection body – the first fruit of all creation, and promises that through the action of the Cross all creation can now be restored.
3) We need to be changed – when Jesus ascended to Heaven he sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within all believers. One action of the Holy Spirit is to bring about regeneration, that is, to bring about a gentle but persistent change in us, so that we are no longer who we were.
4) We need a sponsor – in fact, Paul the Apostle go as far as to say that, whilst our physical bodies remain the same, whilst we remain in this World, nevertheless we are renewed inside. Its as if there is a new person inside this old body, and the two parts, the new and the old, battle. Sometimes the old, with its old habits, compulsions and failings prevails and we can despair – as Paul himself exclaims ” who will rescue me from this body of death”? The answer, of course, is that Jesus will, through the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.
You might reasonably ask, “Can it really be that easy?, and the answer to that is yes and no, so perhaps we should look at that next time.
Posted in Blog | Tagged Apologetics, God Stuff | Leave a reply
Finding a way
Posted on January 6, 2013
Finding a Way back to God
In the previous discussion we considered the fact that all mankind has to a greater of lesser extent become Godless.
Even those who claim to be meritorious on the basis of the way they have lived religiously or morally or ethically have a problem.
The problem they have is that they are seeking to put God in their debt. They are, whether they acknowledge it or not, trying to force God to accept them, to oblige God to let them into heaven. Of course that will not do, God, if he be God, is no mans debtor, but the problem is even greater than that. Even the most religious person would have to admit that at some time in their life, at some point they did not live up to God’s standard.
What then? Do we imagine that we can balance out our bad actions with good one’s so that we can achieve a pass mark and then perhaps haggle with God? Unfortunately scripture makes it clear that the pass mark is 100%. As Paul the apostle puts it, “if we fail in one point of the law, we fail in all parts. Think of it this way; how many times do I have to lie to make me a liar? Well…once of course. How many times do I need to steal before I am a thief? Well….once of course.
So here’s the problem – I can try to do the very best I can, but it will never fix the damage I have done and will continue to do in my life. I cannot make amends for the hurt I have caused no matter how much I want to. And remember this, our anti- creational acts tear at the very fabric of the time- space continuum and there’s nothing we can do about fixing that up.
Anyway, let’s get real for a moment. Ask yourself this question: how many times have you decided to turn over a new leaf only to fall back into your old ways? How many times have you made a new years resolution only to give it away on the 2nd of January?
The problem is that we are creatures of habit, we are all obsessive-compulsives to a greater or lesser extent and our habits, our obsessions, our compulsions continue to drive us back to the conclusion that without help we can never really change.
Now you may read this and consider that what I am saying is a load of rubbish. Of course you can change, if you want to! Well my friend if that be the case, then go ahead, and when you have failed enough, you are welcome to come back and pick up where you left off.
On the other hand, if you have a sense of urgency and you don’t want to waste any more time trying to be better and going nowhere then read on. Because there is a way that things can be fixed and there is a way that you can change and there is a way back to God.
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Why doesn’t God just fix it?
Posted on October 25, 2012
This , of course is a simple question with a complex answer. One might also ask; why does a good God allow so much suffering?
In order to resolve this, we need to understand the question as to why we were created. In the book of Genesis it is stated that God created mankind in his own image and likeness. I take this to mean that we were created with similar ethical and spiritual faculties to those of God himself.
Amongst those faculties is the ability to make decisions that are not simply based on expedience. In other words we can take a situation that on the face of it requires an immediate response of one kind and through careful consideration of the alternatives choose a different response because it has a better outcome in the long run. We can also choose to balance our personal gain against the gain of others and sometimes even choose to to sacrifice our gain in order that others might benefit.
These are not faculties available to any other creature, except perhaps in limited circumstances where, for instance, a mother hen might protect her chicks by sacrificing herself. However, she does this by instinct and not through careful consideration of all the abstract alternatives.
Now, in order to behave like this we have to also own the faculty of free will. We can choose alternative approaches precisely because we are free to do so.
The problem is that mankind has not always exercised these faculties for the benefit of all humanity. In fact the reality would be something entirely different. In most cases we act for personal gain even when it hurts others. These choices are commonly made because we as human beings demonstrate far less love for our fellow man than God does. We fail to see in each human being the image of God, that God has placed there.
Suffering doesn’t always require really bad men either, though they do exist. Often our little bad choices can accumulate to cause serious deprivation elsewhere. Suffering can occur because we make small seemingly insignificant poor choices.
In the face of suffering people commonly ask “where is God?”, but a far better question would be to ask, “where is humanity?”. For a people who can put men on the moon, there can surely be little excuse when children starve to death.
If that be the case, then in order for God to fix things he can either; remove our free will, kill all the bad people (whoever they might be) or find an alternative that fixes things by another route. We will explore that alternative in another chapter, but before we do that we need to get a bit personal about Sin.
Posted in Blog | Tagged Apology, God Stuff | 3 Replies
Doing good all the time
Posted on October 10, 2012
For Christians, the end can never justify the means. All too often in life we see people; defend untenable positions, lie, bully, disenfranchise and cheat, while they argue that eventually good will come of it.
This can never be true. Goodness is always part of our culture or it is not. Goodness requires us to be kind, gentle, respectful, caring and generous to everyone at all times. We cannot simply turn these things on and off when it suits. They are either part of us, or they are not.
To turn goodness off when it suits, reveals a calculating mind that is incapable of being spontaneously good. To turn goodness on when it suits reveals hypocrisy.
To perfom evil and expect goodness to result indicates a singular degree of naivitey or personal dishonesty.
For goodness to prevail we must do good all the time, otherwise we are like a person in a maze trying to navigate our way out based on a light switching on randomly for one second in every hour. Though such a person may occassionally see the light and recognise the light as a good thing, they will always be truly lost.
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The nature of Evil
Posted on October 10, 2012
We have come to understand that the bible makes it clear that the character of God is good. Indeed the bible makes it clear that God is entirely and always good. Other faiths may choose to believe that there is a balance of good and evil in the universe and that this is manifest in God as well, Christians do not.
So how are we to understand the presence of evil in the universe? This can be inferred from the story of creation in the book of Genesis. At the end of each day the bible says that God saw that it was good.
But then God saw that Adam did not have a companion and for this he noted that it was “not good”.
From this we can come to understand that evil is the absence of good. We can then extrapolate that quite simply to understand that the absence of good means the absence of God. In human terms, evil enters mankind’s heart when they rebel against God and refuse to recognise him and follow his rules for living. Instead they push God out of their lives and choose their own course – the absence of God. The bible calls this sin.
Evil may arise directly because people choose their own course. For example, God forbids stealing, greed, adultery, murder and lying, but these things happen because people ignore God’s rules and choose another course. Misery follows.
Evil may also arise indirectly because people choose their own course. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit, rather than follow God’s rules, the ground was cursed because of it. What this means is that all the disease and hunger and poverty in the world is a consequence of people choosing to follow their own course rather than God’s rules.
[philosophical note: We noted earlier that rebellion against the creator sustainer was an anti creational act. Now we begin to understand that this is true in a very real sense. Not only do our rebellious choices immediately affect those around us, but they also tear at the very fabric of creation. We were put on this Earth with a job to do, and it was not to rebel against God].
So probably the next question to ask is why doesn’t God just fix it?
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Christian Work Principles
Posted on September 19, 2012
Some time ago I started working on a set of principles for work. Much comes from my experience of managing a team of over 80 people and seeing what worked and what didn’t. Some comes from my observation of how people have mismanaged me or others.
Maintaining honest scales,
treat each other with honesty and respect
do a fair days work for a fair wage
if you mess up, own up, fix up, move on
don’t rip anybody off, rather be generous
pay when payment is due
Bearing false witness
never lie about anything, the facts will eventually come out.
if you are obliged to lie or mislead it usually means that something needs to be fixed. A person or company can only get by for so long by misleading, much better to fix the problem.
never lie about somebody else
never act on hearsay – confirm the facts through two or more witnesses or give the benefit of the doubt
avoid triangulation – often the solution is to construct in start up meetings where all parties are present.
family comes first – most people work to live not live to work, its great if people love their job, but as a Manager you will get better long term performance by helping people achieve an appropriate work life balance.
as a manager, don’t expect more than the salaried hours, ask and appreciate, or pay overtime.
maintain a safe working environment – people have a right to go home unharmed at the end of the day
Slavery was left behind in Egypt
never operate an environment of Fear, Obligation or Guilt
operate a no blame culture
never manipulate people for personal or corporate gain.
Remember we are all dust
don’t take yourself too seriously – especially if you are the Manager
bear with each others failings and support each other
Work towards peoples strengths and build a team that has all the strengths you need and help each other to see the strengths in each other.
remember the difference between “I am the boss” and “I am a man under authority”
True leaders spend their lives enabling those whom they lead to reach their maximum potential
Be Angry but do not sin
there is room for passion in the workplace, but little room for uncontrolled anger.
uncontrolled anger breeds resentment, usually because uncontrolled anger leads to a failure in one of the previous principles.
if you are angry give yourself time to get yourself under control, reflect your concerns off somebody you trust and be willing to listen to their counsel.
never do anything in haste.
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About God’s permanency
Posted on September 18, 2012
Having accepted at least for the moment that God is good we need next to determine if God is always good. For if He changes on a whim then how could we ever rely on Him.
Well the good news is that the Bible makes it very clear that God is constant. Not necessarily in the actions that he undertakes but certainly in terms of motive. His intention is always for good.
The book of 1 Samuel Chapter 15 and verse 29 says “also the glory of Israel will not lie or change his mind for he is not a man that he should change his mind”.
Psalm 55 and verse 19 says “God will hear and answer them, even the one who sits enthroned from of old. With whom there is no change”.
The book of Malachi chapter 3 and verse 6 says “for I the Lord do not change.”
Interestingly there are occasions in the bible when God changes his mind, but these are always cases where he intends to bring some sort of judgement on a people or a person and changes his mind to be merciful.
[philosophical note: if God is really God then he exists outside of the space-time continuum we know as the universe. Everything within the universe is part of creation and is governed by the rules of the universe including the passing of time. But if God exists outside of the universe then he is not governed by time. Note, I am not talking about a physical location but simply saying that God exists in a place (dimension if you will) that is not governed by time. The physical universe needs the passage of time in order to exist (more later), but that makes everything in the universe temporary. Outside of the universe there is no time, so there is no change. This means that if the God you believe in can change in his essential character, one moment bringing good and the next evil, then he is part of creation and not the God I am talking about. In fact he or she is not God at all].
So now we know that God is good and he doesn’t change. This means we can have faith in him, but it begs the question as to what is the character of evil.
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The Character of God
Posted on August 13, 2012
If we are to have faith in something or someone we need to understand the nature of that something or someone. The most basic understanding of God can be gained when He tells us something about himself. Thankfully we have an entire book that relates how God has interacted with mankind and told us about himself. This book is called the Bible.
In the book of Exodus, chapter 33 and verse 18 we read about how Moses, one of the great prophets of the old testament, asks God to show Moses his Glory. Interestingly God immediately responds “I will parade my goodness before you”. So when Moses asks God to show him the thing that God believes is the best thing about himself, God responds by showing Moses how good He is.
From this we begin to learn that God is good. Perhaps this is not what we would expect. Maybe we have been taught that if there is a God then he is a rather frightening and angry character. But this is not what God says about himself.
[basic philosophical note: In a created universe the action of a creator sustainer would be expected to be considered good by the created. After all the creator made the created and sustains the created and therefore any action against the creator would be in it's most basic form an anti-creational or bad (even reckless) act. However, and this is important, the bible insists that God is not only good in this basic philosophical sense, but that his intention toward us is good. Though we as the created may not be able to discern all the links in the complex chain of his actions the bible says in the book of Romans chapter 5 and verse 8 that "God causes all things to work together for good, for those that love God" (ie respond appropriately to him as creator/ sustainer). If things don't work out well for those who are in rebellion to their creator/sustainer, then we can hardly blame him for that!].
Rather interestingly, though the Bible insists that at the most basic level it is within God’s goodness that he continues to provide blessings to those in rebellion to him. As Jesus puts it in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5 and verse 45 “He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”. In other words he doesn’t just snuff us out the moment we rebel against him, though of course, as creator and sustainer he could and would have right to do so. Instead he continues to sustain us in the hope that we will come back into a right relationship with him.
So the other important question to ask in the next section is whether God is constantly good or only sometimes good. I would hardly slump into a chair if chairs only supported my weight some of the time. Instead I would test each chair very cautiously before trusting my weight to it, and that’s not faith, that’s uncertainty.
Posted in Blog | Tagged Apology, God Stuff | Leave a reply
A matter of Justice
Posted on August 12, 2012
First the special pleading of retailers prevailed to say that they had to be able to open on Sundays otherwise Jobs would be lost and retailers would go to the wall.
Now they are seeking to remove penalty rates on Sundays.
Of course they are, this is not about survival, this is about profit.
Amos 8 says
4 Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, 5 saying,
“When will the new moon be over,
So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, And to cheat with dishonest scales,
6 So as to buy the helpless for money And the needy for a pair of sandals, And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”
7 The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob, “Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.”
Rest assured, those that seek to exploit the lowest paid in our society and to make profit by dishonest means will not be forgotten by God. Indeed Judgement is coming!
This Blog is in memory of our Pastor Mark Goldstone who pioneered this Church but now is with his Lord and Saviour.