People have debated the cause and purpose of suffering for centuries. Job is the person most associated with this struggle to discover why.
The book of Job is about 4 miserable friends who visit Job to be of some comfort to him. Instead they only add to his pain. “Stop assuming my guilt,” he told them. “….for I have done no wrong,” Job 6:29.
The question of suffering is never solved. No one has ever been able to say categorically that this or that is the reason suffering occurs. The best answers are simply a well-educated guess based on the character of God and the evil of our world. That said, I believe that suffering arises from the choices that human beings make in the exercise of their free will.
Continue reading Guilt by Catastrophe
No picture captures the grandeur and size of it. It dwarfs those standing in line for lift tickets, making them look like ants from the perspective of the top observation deck. Even the 605 foot Seattle Space Needle looks like a shrimpy cousin compared to the Eiffel Tower at 1,063 feet.
Standing under the Tower or on top of it renders its observer speechless. What can be said about something whose steel looks like Belgian lace? Continue reading Seeing Something for the First Time
A friend of mine called me at my office and warned, “Arthur has just left my office, and he is mad. He’s coming to your office. You’d be well advised to leave.”
Arthur was our church’s resident crazy man. He was unemployable, quirky, and creepy. His long suffering wife put up with his craziness to the great amazement of all of us who knew them.
I hurriedly left my office and drove toward my home where I was going to put my car, out of sight, into the garage. But in my rearview mirror appeared Arthur, clearly following me home. I took a longer route and eventually lost him. Several minutes later the door bell rang. Continue reading Come Out of Him
Ruth is a little 4-chapter book sandwiched between the Old Testament books of Judges and First Samuel. It’s a tiny, insignificant story – a story without big characters, miracles, or battle victories.
In the story Naomi and her husband Elimelech left their home town of Bethlehem because of a serious famine, fleeing to Moab, southeast of Bethlehem. Their sons, Mahlon and Chilion, accompanied them – four people in the little party. After settling in Moab, their two sons married Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. Continue reading Three Approaches to Life
Excitement filled Zac’s house.
“Get the china out of the cabinet.”
“Buy the best duck you can find at the market.”
“Polish the silverware.”
He didn’t usually get his best stuff out
For the scruffy crowd that came to his house.
The wealthy people he stole taxes from
Wouldn’t have anything to do with him or his silverware. Continue reading The Party at Zac’s House
Matthew was a Jew who worked for the Roman government as a tax collector. He got this job when he made the highest bid to the Roman official posting it on Craigslist. His job was to collect 1% of annual incomes for Rome but it was expected that he would extort more monies for his own bank account.
These “publicans” were Jews, hated by the Jewish people because of their complicity with Rome and their unscrupulous reputations. A publican, or tax collector, had to be ready to accept awful rejection from his own people.
Which is why Matthew gasped when Jesus walked by his tax booth and said, “Follow me.” No one ever invited people like Matthew anywhere. The best he could hope for was that people would just ignore him and not hiss when they walked by his booth. Matthew immediately put out his “CLOSED” sign and left with Jesus. Continue reading They worshiped, but some doubted.
Matthew didn’t identify him – just “an angel.”
Matthew said that this angel rolled back the mill-stone door of the tomb of Jesus and was sitting on it when the two Mary’s arrived. Luke said that Joanna was there too. They came expecting to have the awful task of putting aromatic spices on a body already beginning to decay – a measure of the love that they had for this dead one.
The Roman guards that were supposed to be guarding the door of the tomb were dumbstruck by the angel’s presence. Who wouldn’t be? A giant mill stone moved about like a marble. An angel sitting on the door like he was taking a coffee break. The people who were supposed to insure against anything fishy were lying in a stupporous heap against the tomb. Continue reading The Angel
The internet lit up recently with story after story about a Seattle pastor who used over $200,000 of his megachurch’s money to buy his way on to the New York Times best seller list. It’s bad enough for any author to attempt such a deceit, but it’s more painful when it’s a person making claims about representing Jesus. The criticisms of such behaviors get “enhanced” much like the prison sentence of a person using a gun for a crime or belonging to a criminal street gang. Continue reading Five Reasons for Integrity
Our free society provides for equal access to trial by jury for every citizen of our country. It’s one of the ways we preserve individual freedoms and insure that a dictatorial, arbitrary form of government does not take over.
Courts are anal about assembling juries that are as fair as possible. Potential jurors are asked various iterations of “Do you think you can render an objective verdict?” The ones that say “no” or that the court perceives to have too many external, prejudicial influences are excused. Continue reading It is what it is.
Shakespeare said it. “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.” (From Venus and Adonis.)
So did Jesus. “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ (Matthew 16:2,3) Continue reading Red Sky in the Morning