The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: His Relationship with Evil & Pain

God’s View of Self-Defense

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Guns. Knives. Pepper spray. Martial arts. Burglar alarms. There are many ways to try and protect yourself in this world. There is also a lot of common sense floating around. Don’t go down that dark alley alone. Stay out of the bad part of town. Don’t wear those colors in that gang’s turf. But if we totally cater to those who want to do violence—if we all back off and obey their ridiculous rules—isn’t that giving in? Isn’t that letting fear rule our lives? But then again, are we testing God if we intentionally put ourselves in harm’s way and assume that He will rush to our defense? Is the man who keeps a loaded gun by his bed honoring God by embracing his role as the family’s protector, or is he dishonoring God by putting his faith in his own skills and a manmade weapon? There are no blanket answers to these questions. There are no rules of behavior that we can say will apply to every situation. But there are guiding principles which you can use to figure out how you should handle the concept of self-defense, and that is what we’ll discuss in this post. Read more of this post

Why You Must Learn to Separate God from the Church

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Maybe your pastor ran off with the church secretary. Maybe the church treasurer stole a bunch of money. Maybe the worship leader made a play for your wife. Maybe the whole congregation is spreading slander about you. Maybe the evangelist on television conned you into giving him all your money. Maybe your priest molested you. When the Church treats us badly, the common response is to see her actions as the actions of God, and here is where the problem lies. Because while God will most certainly use the Church to cause you problems in life, the Church is just a tool to Him, she’s not His incarnation. When you merge the Church and God into a single entity in your mind, you end up in a major mess. Unfortunately, this is what a lot of humans do: they see the Church as an extension of God Himself, and they then try to use the actions and motivations of humans to understand who God is. If your pastor is kind, God must be kind. If your pastor is a jerk, then obviously God is a jerk. If your priest can’t be trusted, then God can’t be trusted. If other Christians exclude you, then God must be excluding you. This whole line of logic is seriously flawed, and if you insist on clinging to it, you’re going to end up in Hell. Why? Because God isn’t going to let you write Him off because you refused to acknowledge who He is. Read more of this post

Untaught Lessons of the Cross: Facing the Dark Side of God

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

“For Yahweh loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

In the world of Christendom, the cross has become a powerful symbol of love. This is quite right, for Jesus clearly associated His crucifixion with an act of great love on the part of both Yahweh and Himself. But Jesus never said that the cross was only about love. In fact, He also taught His Old Covenant Jewish disciples to associate His death on a cross with an atonement sacrifice for sins, and by doing that, Jesus turned the cross into a most disturbing conglomeration of lessons—many of which we carefully avoid discussing in the Church. So let’s discuss them now, because it is the untaught lessons of the cross which have become most important for modern day Christians to learn. Read more of this post

The Purpose of Dysfunction: Understanding Why God Messed You Up

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

You have issues. Maybe you beat your wife. Maybe you always sabotage relationships. Maybe you have to show off all the time. Maybe you freak out over having sex. Maybe you can’t get enough sex. Maybe you fantasize about hurting people. Whatever it is, you can see that you’re messed up in your head, but you honestly don’t get why. The day comes when you finally decide to get help. All of a sudden, it’s like your eyes are opened. Finally you can see your dysfunctional behavior in a whole new light. Now you get that you beat your wife because you’re ragingly insecure and afraid of her dominating you. Now you get that you always sabotage relationships because you’re so afraid of someone else dumping you first. Now you understand that your obsession with sex is driven by a desperate need for the affirmation that you never got as a kid. When the lights go on like this, we feel like we’re making some real progress. By the time we start aggressively seeking help, we’re fed up with the damage that our destructive habits are having on our lives. We want to change. We want to cut away these old anchors and move on already. So now that we’re understanding ourselves better than ever before, it should be a simple matter to change, right? Wrong. Read more of this post

God’s Absolute Sovereignty: Essential Theology

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Here is a classic theological dilemma:

  • There are elements, activities, and principles in this world which we humans feel greatly threatened by.  Things such as pain, violence, suffering, and depraved desires.  We label these things as evil.
  • If we acknowledge that God exists, then we realize that He is more powerful than us.  The thought of a superior Being who is involved in evil greatly threatens us, so we decide that God cannot have any relationship with evil at all and that He must find it as threatening as we do.
  • We now need to explain the existence of evil in the world while still keeping God separate from it.
  • We choose a set of creatures who are greater in power than we are, yet evil in nature, and we assign those creatures control over this earthly realm.
  • Now our good God is still in control, yet totally separate from evil.  This makes us feel safe.

Read more of this post

The Law of Attraction & the True Source of Our Troubles

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

When it comes to explaining how life works, there are two schools of thought. Those who deny the reality of a God who is intimately involved in His creation teach that there are impersonal forces in the universe which have a weird way of balancing out right and wrong. Here’s where things like karma and the law of attraction come in. If you do nice things, nice things will come back on your head. If you do mean things to others, mean things will happen to you. If you think negative thoughts, you will attract the negative towards you. But why? There’s no rhyme or reason, it’s just the way things work. But who set things up to work this way and how can impersonal laws have a moral code? No one can explain it because the theory is utterly stupid. Be on your guard against belief systems which try to uphold portions of God’s moral code while simultaneously scrubbing God out of the picture. Such games don’t work. You can’t divorce God from the things He has made, and God is the One who taught us what morals are. Read more of this post

The Illusion of Bad Luck

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There is no such thing as a curse of bad luck or walking around with a dark raincloud over our heads. There are two factors which create the illusion of bad luck: God inflicting us with trials, and our own choice of emphasis. Read more of this post

Questioning God’s Methods: Is this really the best He could do?

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

HOW DOES GOD DEFINE GOOD?

It’s no use playing games of denial. A lot of what God calls good seems awful to us, so let’s be honest about it. And by the way, who was it that taught us how to define good and bad in the first place? God did. It is God who teaches us to view suffering as a negative thing. It is God who teaches us to be compassionate instead of amused when we see another human being hurting. It is God who teaches us that it’s wrong to sing and dance around those who are mourning. It is God who teaches us that intentionally inflicting pain on others is a terrible thing…and then He goes right on to inflict all kinds of pain on us. Hm.

While God has given us a general list of good and bad behaviors, He also teaches us that examining mere actions isn’t enough. To make an accurate assessment of something, we must examine motivation. In general, the action of murder is labeled as bad. But there are other times when murder is a good thing. When a cop shoots the man who is firing bullets at another policeman, that is a good thing. When a convicted murderer is exterminated for his crime in some humane way, that’s a good thing. When a doctor must kill a baby in order to save the life of the woman giving birth to him, that is a good thing. Murder has its place, and even bad actions can become good depending on motivation. Read more of this post

Why You Need to Mock God

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

This post is speaking to non-Christians.

What kinds of emotions come to mind when you hear Christians talking about Jesus? Rage? Bitterness? Hate? Think about how you spend your time. Are you going out of your way to mock and insult the Christian God? Are you intensely bothered whenever you hear Christians declaring their love and loyalty to Jesus? Your aggressive behavior is only a surface symptom of a deeper issue. When we find ourselves hating God and feeling a need to mock and slander Him, it is often because we feel that He has wronged us in some terrible way and we’re really just out for revenge. Maybe He did something He was never supposed to do. Maybe He failed to do something that He was supposed to do. Whatever the reason, when God hurts us intensely, where can we go for help? Most of His followers want to sit around saying “God doesn’t do evil.” Well, this doesn’t help you very much, does it? When God crushes us, we need a better explanation than “Sometimes God works in mysterious ways.” Read more of this post

Why did God create sin?

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

God says that He hates sin. When we hear this as a complete thought and then try to understand the presence of sin in the world with spiritually young minds, we end up concluding that sin somehow snuck in here against God’s will and that He has nothing to do with it. A wall then appears between us and God, with Him on the good, pure, innocent side of things and us wallowing in the moral muck. We’re told salvation will resolve the sin problem for us, but it doesn’t. We still sin, and the longer we believe God hates sin and wants nothing to do with it, the more isolated our sin makes us feel from Him. This is when we need to go to the Holy Spirit for help in resolving our crisis before we get hopelessly bound by shame and guilt. But in the Church, we’re not taught to go to the Holy Spirit, we’re taught to overcome our sinful desires in our own strength. Well, that’s not going to happen. Oh, but in the New Testament, we find some of the apostles commanding us not to sin like it was some simple choice. Well, that just shows you how spiritually advanced those men weren’t that they should hand out such useless advice. Read more of this post