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You’re a parent and you find out that your child is ill. Very ill. Doctors are telling you that the recovery rate for this particular illness isn’t very high. The only treatments they’re offering are things that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Your kid is scared and looking at you with those big, anxious eyes. Parents are supposed to be able to fix anything, but you can’t fix this. Parents are supposed to always know what to say, but you’re speechless. Parents are supposed to be able to save the day, and you’re feeling like a total failure. It’s time to reach out for some help, so you hop online and start cruising through Christian websites looking for advice on how to handle your situation. It doesn’t take long to notice that a lot of them are telling you the same thing. This isn’t God’s will. Disease comes from the devil. Healing is just a prayer away. We have a big God: if you believe, you will receive. There’s power in numbers, power in repetition, power in holy water, power in fasting, power in chanting Bible verses. Tell God what you want enough times and He’ll surely do it. Continue reading
As we explain in many articles on this site, God is the Source of every trial and blessing in your life. His primary reason for creating trials in your life is to draw you closer to Him. When we’re hurting, we suddenly find ourselves motivated to ask theological questions that we used to avoid, and we become receptive to difficult truths. When life is going great, we find it uncomfortable and threatening to think about God’s involvement with evil. But when He saddles us with some debilitating disease or with some chronic illness, suddenly we become much better listeners.
Suffering has a way of spiking our courage so that we stop running away from the scary questions. Why does a good God want people to suffer? Why are His methods so brutal at times? How can we tell when God is upset with us and when He’s pleased? Why is God silent when we’re seriously depressed? Why does He refuse to answer us the way we need Him to? Why does He sometimes act as if He’s abandoned us in our hour of need? Why are some of us suffering so much more than others? These are the tough questions that we need to get around to facing if we’re going to grow close to God, and we discuss all of these issues in other articles on our site. If you’re sick, it doesn’t at all mean that God is mad at you, punishing you, or cursing you. If you’re sick, it doesn’t mean you have insufficient faith or unconfessed sins. Certainly spiritual rebellion is a real thing, and God will often use trials to drive rebels towards repentance. But once we start saying that all health problems are a form of Divine discipline, well then we’re just being absurd. Even health problems which start out as a form of discipline cease to be about discipline once a soul repents. This is because God is not a jerky Father who beats on His obedient kids. God is a very good and gracious Father. If you sincerely care about pleasing Him, then He’s pleased with you—it’s just that simple. But you can count on the fact that His pleasure will not manifest itself in the form of a trial free life, because God has you on this planet to mature, not stagnate. Continue reading
If God was really pleased with you, you’d be happy, healthy, and financially well off. This is a very common belief among both Christians and non-Christians. It’s an absolute lie, yet it’s also an extremely popular idea and one which is aggressively promoted by many very successful Christian leaders. Whenever we find a lie being promoted by folks who know better, it is because they have found a way to profit by doing so.
Prosperity theology—a system of beliefs which is built on the assumption that God wants us to have happy, carefree lives on earth—is a huge moneymaker. It’s rather like teaching Christians that God commands them to tithe: the folks who teach the lie make bank while the people who sincerely believe in the lie end up in a world of hurt. Unfortunately, many of our leaders in the Church today couldn’t care less about how many souls they trash on the way to lining their own pockets. As an individual Christian, you’re just one more chump who they might be able to make some money off of. If you prove to be reasonably easy to manipulate, they’ll spend effort messing with you. If you aren’t, they’ll kick you aside and find someone else. Welcome to the world of false shepherds in the Church: it’s a merciless scene in which there is no real concern for human souls. This is why it’s so important that you not put your trust in human beings to guide you in life. God Himself must be your Guide, because He is the only One you can really trust. But before you are going to develop strong trust in God, you need to grasp that He is for you in life, and before you can understand what that means, you need to learn a few things about how God operates. Continue reading
Does God need someone to touch you before He can help you? Of course not, He’s God. So what’s this business about laying on of hands? Well, this is one of those things like fasting that we pick up from things we read about in the Bible. We pick it up and then we won’t let it go, because we think we’ve found a way to manipulate God. Continue reading
In the Church today we spend a lot of time praying for the sick to get well. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. When they do, we rejoice in the power of prayer. When they don’t, we feel confused, frustrated and sad. We wonder where we went wrong. If you’re tired of riding this roller coaster, or if you’re wondering how to respond to a sick friend who is asking for your prayerful intervention, then this post is for you. Continue reading