Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting Better At What You Do

Photo by Sloan G.
A Professional Improves His Craft

I was recently watching a YouTube video that featured actor Will Smith. The main thrust of this video was Will discussing the various stages he went through as an actor and how he attempted to get just a little bit better everytime he did a new project.

I don't doubt this about Will Smith for one second. I believe what he's saying in this video because I've witnessed his progress along the way. From Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Independence Day to The Pursuit of Happyness to Seven Pounds, you can definitely see a growth in his acting abilities. He has studied and worked really hard to be one of the great leading actors of this generation.

Growth Requires Focus And Hard Work

If you're going to get better at anything, it's going to require focused intensity and hard work. This is true whether you are an actor, a politician, a writer, an entrepenuer, a business person, a musician, or a photographer. Talent and ability is only going to get you so far in your career and in your life. There are millions of people who have natural talents in the area of music, but when you think about it, there are really only a few thousand of them that are true superstars. The ones who "made it" in the area of music focused more on their craft and worked harder than everybody else.

We live in a culture though that is severely ADD. We are scattered all over the place in our work, in our families, in our churches, and in our lives in general. We're stressed out, over worked, and burned out because we lack focus on what we really should be doing. We've allowed a bunch of semi-important things to crowd out a few most important things. If we're truly going to grow, though, it's going to take laser-like focus and plain old hard work to see any kind of constant, steady improvement in any area of life.

Constant Improvement And Christianity

A hallmark of the Christian life should be constant, steady improvement. I'm not talking about a good works salvation, either. But, what I am saying is that each day when we wake up in the morning, our desire should be to live out the "Jesus' Way" just a little better than we did the day before.

As believers in Christ, we all have areas that need improvement in order for us to become more like Jesus each day. Each one of us has different strengths and weaknesses. Each one of us has a different set of sins that we struggle with and through in order to overcome by God's grace.

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of focused intensity and hard work in living out the Christian life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he wrote these words:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Where Do You Need To Get Focused?

In what areas of your walk with Christ do you need to get focused and work really hard? What sin(s) do you need to finally overcome and lay aside in order to become more like the Savior. What spiritual disciplines do you need to focus on a daily basis in order to grow in your faith - daily Bible study, prayer, church attendance, and so on?

Today, consider the attitude of Will Smith as he has worked really hard in order to become one of the best actors of this generation. How much more so should we as Christians get focused and put in the hard work on our spiritual life and God's Kingdom work? These are the things in life that truly matter in this world and the world to come.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

God Will Meet Your Needs

Photo by SS&SS
A Gloomy Forecast

As I am writing this post this morning, more discouraging news is being broadcast by the media. The dreaded "double-dip recession" is the latest economic forecast based on a continuing flat US economy, an almost 10% unemployment rate, and further massive drops in the stock market. Europe is in a deep financial mess, and even rumors about economic problems in China are beginning to surface. It would seem the entire world is having a financial meltdown.

People are definitely scared right now. They're freaking out, saving money for more continuing rainy days. People are pulling money out of the stock markets because there is so much instability and uncertainity. For several decades now, people have put their hope, their trust in wealth. Our financial times have been relatively great since the 1980s  that people have forgotten that our economy does run in cycles of both good and bad, bull and bear markets. When times were great, they lived on the razor's edge financially with too much debt and too little savings. Now that times are lean, they are in a jam, and they are having to make a major pendulum swing to the opposite side of the spectrum through a restraint in spending, unloading of debt, and saving money wherever possible. It's a whole new world, baby.

Hard Times And Christian Living

In an ideal world of faith living, Christians should have been living opposite the world financially for the last 25-30 years. Christians should have been giving back regularly to God through their local churches. They should have been paying off old debt and avoiding any new debt. They should have saved some of the income God had blessed them for a rainy day emergency fund. They should have been saving a portion of their income for retirement. They should have been living in modest homes and paying off their mortgages as quickly as possible.

But, this has not been the case. During this last cycle of bullish financial times, Christians followed the example of the world's way of handling money. Now, the majority of them are "reaping the whirlwind." They are reaping what they have sown financially for the last several years. They are in a huge mess that they are desparately trying to work through right now.

God Is Our Supplier

If we've been horrible managers of God's money up to this point in time, then perhaps we do have good reason to be nervous about the economic situation we now find ourselves in. But, even the Christian who now finds himself in a financial disaster should not be in a panic.

Philippians 4:19 reads, And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. As believers, we have a really rich Heavenly Father! God's Word states that everything in heaven and on earth is his His to begin with. And because He knows everything about us and our specific needs, He will meet those needs.

Even though God has promised His followers that He will meet our needs, He wants you to do your part in the process. Confess your sin of mismanaging God's wealth that He had entrusted to you over the last several years. Get educated on strategies to handle your finances according to the principles contained in God's Word. Crown Financial Ministries and Financial Peace University are two great places to start. And, start living accoring to these Biblical principles. As we become more obedient to God and His Word, He will supply our needs and help us back out of our financial ignorant mess!

Who Or What Are You Trusting In, Today?

Through these financially difficult days, in who or in what are you trusting, child of God? Are you trusting in your financial intellect? Are you trusting in the government to get you out of your mess (I hope not!)? Or, are you even trusting in Biblical financial wisdom?

While some of these things can certainly be helpful, our ultimate provider is God Almighty. Through times of plenty or lack, He still owns it all. He loves you and He has promised to provide for the needs of His children. So, relax and place your trust in His provision.

Also, check out these related posts:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Power of Words

Photo by nathanmac87
Words Are Powerful Things

Lately, I have been reminded of the power of the words that I and others choose to use. Words have the power to build someone up, and words have the power to tear someone down. The words that we choose to use combined with our tone of voice can be a powerful force as well.

For those of us who are parents, I think we probably all at least have a head knowledge as well as working experience with this. I know that with my two daughters, I catch myself all the time now thinking about the words and tone I have been using with them. I start asking myself questions such as, "Am I being to harsh with my girls right now?", "Is there a better, gentler way I could be communicating the same thoughts with them?", "If I were one of my daughters, would I appreciate how I'm speaking to them this very minute?"

Consider the truth of the power of the tongue as described in James 3:3-12:
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
In light of this powerful Scripture passage, we could all do a better job in controlling the words that come out of our mouths.

Biblical Wisdom

God's Word contains practical wisdom on using our tongue for a force of good to those around us. Here are just two simple suggestions based on multiple verses in the Bible:
  • Use wisdom when you speak and refrain from talking if necessary. Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue (Proverbs 11:12). Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity (Proverbs 21:23). Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless (James 1:26).
  • Use soothing, healing words when you speak to those around you. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18). The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).
Words Have The Power Of Life And Death

From both a practical and spiritual standpoint, we know that words from those who have influence in our lives have a powerful impact on us. Proverbs 18:21 states, The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

When I think back on key, positive, pivotal points in my life, I recall influential people who came alongside me and spoke truthful, encouraging, correcting, loving, and healing words. They may not have always been the words that I wanted to hear, but they were definitely the words that I needed to hear at that point in my life. As God spoke to these influencers, they listened to His voice and allowed His words to flow through them to me. I'm grateful that they were obedient to God and He was able to use them for good in my life.

And, I can also look back at some of the more difficult times in my life when people spoke to me who were not under the control of the Holy Spirit. They spoke harsh, negative words of death to me. They were running their own agenda. They had no concern how their words impacted my life.

Go Out And Make A Difference

You have a choice today. You have a choice to speak words of life or words of death to people. You can be a force for positive influence in people's lives through the way you speak to them, or you can be a negative, destructive force in their lives.

Consciously evaluate your speech on a regular basis. Have you fallen into negative, destructive speech habits that maybe you weren't even aware of? If so, what do you need to do to turn that around in order to speak life-giving words to those around you that you love?

You can make a powerful difference in somebody's life today through the words that you choose to use. Choose wisely.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forsaken But Not Destroyed

Photo by Alfredi

Have you ever been abandoned, left totally alone to fend for yourself? From personal experience, I can say it's one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel totally helpless, kicked in the gut, spit on, and pretty much worthless all around. You feel completely confused as to why you have been abandoned in the first place. You feel that it is an unjustifiable action of those who have abandoned you.

In My Story over the last couple of years, I have unfortunately experienced abandonment. Someone that I thought I knew and trusted with all that I am, simply just walked away. Crazy, absurd, rude, selfish...all of these thoughts entered my mind, but it didn't solve my problem. I was now abandoned, left to fend (mostly) for myself moving forward in life.

When I contemplate abandonment, I am reminded of the movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks. Through no fault of his own, Chuck Noland's (Tom Hanks) FedEx plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean, where he is left to fend for himself for several years on a deserted island - no rescue planes, no boats, no nothing! He was presumed dead along with the other members of the crew.

And when I think of abandonment, I'm also reminded of the life of our Lord Jesus who was abandoned by all His followers right before His trial, beating, and crucifixion.

Jesus Was Abandoned

I have come to the conclusion that those of us that have experienced abandonment are in excellent company. Surrounding the hours leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, He was completely forsaken. All of his disciples completely abandoned the Jesus' ship, even His inner-circle of three disciples - Peter, James, and John. He had no one to help with His defense. He was left alone to defend Himself in front of both the Jewish rulers and Roman authorities.

Even when He hung on the cross in the last few minutes of His existence in the form of human flesh, He cried out to God the Father, asking Him why He had abandoned Him on the cross to die. In Matthew 27:46, we read Jesus' words to the Father:
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Even God the Father had to turn His face from His Son as He bore our sin and our shame on the cross.

God's Promises

In the book The Man God Uses, author Henry Blackaby writes about the experience of abandonment  in this way:
Because God has given you promises in his Word, you can, with great confidence in God's unfailing presence and provision, live your life boldly before a watching and hurting world. Everyone may forsake you, even your family and friends, but this will not destroy you, for you know God's promises! You know God has not, nor will he ever, leave you or forsake you. Others who watch you will be amazed at your faith and will be attracted to the God you serve. Your testimony of God's faithfulness will draw them (p. 154).
When I experienced abandonment a couple of years ago, I knew God's promises. I believed in God's promises. It was difficult, but I stuck to my beliefs and trusted in God to sustain me through that difficult time. Plus, as a staff minister at a Bible-believing church, I knew people were watching me and how I would handle myself through the process.

People Are Watching

What Henry Blackaby wrote in the above quote is true. People are watching us, believers and non-believers alike. They want to see if you truly believe what you say you believe. In my case, it was even more challenging, because I had a personal blog full of posts stating what I believed about God. I was put through a test that I had no idea was coming when I first started this blog.

And you know what? I started hearing from people that were watching me live out my life, listening to what I said, and reading what I wrote. The cool part of a difficult situation is that I was able to influence their walk with the Lord in a positive manner, and for that I'm thankful.

You know what else? At some point in time over the last couple of years, massive changes and healing took place in my life. I can look back at the situation and praise God for using this time to mold me and shape me into who He wants me to be. Plus, I no longer feel abandoned. I am surrounded by family, friends, and a church family that love me.

Final Words Of Encouragement

If you're feeling abandoned right now, just remember these things: First, trust in God and rely on Him. Second, allow Him to do His work in your life. And third, your abandonment will not last forever. Psalm 30:5-12 has been an appropriate reflection for me and my situation. Perhaps you can find comfort in these words as well:
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 
LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? 
Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.” 
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
Also, check out these related posts:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paying taxes is your Christian duty

Photo by Zenobia_Joy
The Tax Man Cometh

For those of us here in the United States that have the joyful blessing of paying quarterly estimated taxes, today, September 15, is supposed to be installment number three of four payments for tax year 2011. When I became an ordained minister 12 years ago, I started having to pay my own taxes. Honestly, I wish everybody had to pay quarterly estimated taxes, because then there would be a lot more unhappy Americans regarding the tax code. As a result, we would all probably be voting in better leaders who could do a much better job of controlling government spending and wouldn't raise our taxes all the time. But I digress...

In the name of Jesus, though, we have a group of so-called "Christians" that like to take a more radical stand about paying too much in taxes. On principle, I agree with their assessment of the broken tax code in this country, and when it comes time to vote, I will vote many times on the economic principles and policies of specific candidates. Where I would disagree with some in this group, though, is the outright refusal to pay any taxes at all. This clearly goes against what God's Word teaches us.

God Wants You To Pay Your Taxes

In Romans 13:1-7, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear to believers that believers should pay their taxes:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
From this passage, we see that God has established government authority over us. In fact, Paul even calls those that govern us God's servants! They may not be believers in Christ, but God has established these leaders over us for our own good. We as believers are called upon to submit to these governing authorities, give them respect and honor, and pay our taxes.

Respectfully Disagree, Vote Accordingly, But Pay Up

Back in early church times, the Roman government ruled the empire with an iron fist. The average citizen had little to no say in who ruled and what laws were enacted. They simply submitted to the government authorities or faced possible execution!

American Christian citizens are in a little bit different situation. We do have a say in our government process. We have the right to free speech and the right to talk about our disagreements with the government. We have the right to peacefully demonstrate about these disagreements. We can support candidates for government offices that agree with our positions. We as believers can even run for political positions if we so desire! And finally, we can go to the polls and let our voices be heard through the ballot box with our votes.

When we have done all we can do through these various channels, though, we then need to submit to those in authority, give them respect and honor, and then pay our taxes. It's that cut and dry.

So, if you pay estimated, quarterly taxes, don't forget to cough up your fair share today. God's servants in the government are short on cash too.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When You're In Love

Photo by Wolfsoul
You've Got It Bad

When you first fall in love, you do crazy stuff. You stare at your love interest from across the room. You talk on the phone or text with them for hours at a time. You talk about serious subjects, and then turn around and talk about silly stuff. You poke fun at each other. You give each other cute little nicknames. You buy extravagant gifts for them, even when you probably can't even afford it. You want to spend every available moment with this person even when you should probably be busy doing something else.

You freely give of your time and money to someone you care about because you love them. You will go without; you will sacrifice whatever it takes because of a passionate connection. It's truly unbelievable what we're capable of when we're in this estatic state of love.

God Is Crazy In Love With You

This is even true of God's relationship with us puny human beings! He created the human race back in the Garden of Eden in order to have an intimate relationship with us. But then we messed the whole thing up. Through our great-great ancestors, Adam and Eve, we all inherited our sin nature. We erected a wall of sin that hindered a connection with our Creator.

God's Word is His love story for us. Over thousands of years, He has demonstrated this crazy kind of love for us. He has yearned to spend time with us. He has sacrificed for us. He gave His only Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, as The Way to buy us back to Himself. God through Jesus loved us so much that He gave His very life for us.

Loving Is Giving

Loving through giving cuts against the grain of our sin nature, though. In our sinful, fleshly state, we make love about taking because we are selfish. Sure, when we first fall in love, it's easier to give because we're on an emotional high. We're crazy in love and not thinking clearly. But over time, we slip into old patterns. The "high" is gone and we get selfish once again.

When you boil down true, mature, Godly love to its core essence, it's all about giving. "For God so loved the world that He GAVE..." (John 3:16). When we truly love someone or something, we will give everything we have for them. We sacrifice our time, our energy, and our resources for those we love. Some in this world have even had to lay down their very lives for those that they loved.

Do You Love God?

So, the question that begs to be asked is "how crazy in love with God are you?" Are you seeking to spend time with Him on a regular basis? When you wake up in the morning, are your first thoughts about communing with your Father? Sure, we all have schedules and are busy in our own little worlds. But, the truth is that we will make time for those who truly have our affection. Do you get in the Word on a regular basis? Are you in prayer at regular times throughout the day? Our love for God is evident through how much time we spend with Him.

Finally, are you giving back to God in a crazy, nonsensical way? Are you giving back all your talents and abilities in service to Him? And, are you giving your financial resources back to Him in order to build up His Kingdom?

Love God through giving back everything to Him. He gave His only Son on a cross at Calvary for you.

Also, check out these related posts:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Let Me Tell You How Jesus Changed Me...

Photo by h.koppdelaney
A Phrase Catches My Attention

I was recently listening to an audio recording of a talk that was given by Dr. Jay Strack at a conference for pastors. You can click on his link for more information about Dr. Strack. In brief, he is one of the leading experts today in the world of communicating with teenagers and young adults within the church world.

So, during his talk to these pastors, Dr. Strack said one brief phrase that really grabbed my attention: "Let me tell you how Jesus changed me." Honestly, I don't remember the exact context in which he said it, if he was getting ready to tell his own personal testimony, or what.

I guess my ears perked up when I heard it, because I could relate to it. Over the last few years, through the trials and tribulations of this life, I could definitely identify with this statement. You see, Jesus has changed me. He allowed the circumstances of my life, in essence, to force me to change. Sure, I had choices. I could have kept on doing the same stupid stuff I had always been doing, but through the challenging times, I stepped back and re-evaluated my life and my relationship with the Lord. I allowed Him to mold me and make me a new creation - "The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17b).

Am I saying that I'm perfect and don't struggle with the "old" still? Heck no, even after major life changes happen, we all still struggle with the flesh and sin nature. All I know is that I'm not the same person that I was, praise God. Jesus did change me through His life-changing power.

Jesus Really Does Changes Lives

A true encounter with Jesus really can and should change your life. But, many in the evangelical Christian world, so fearful of espousing a works-based salvation, steer clear of the works component of salvation. No, I'm not saying that works save, but what I am saying that once we have been saved through the resurrection power of Jesus, our lives should look radically different. We should have "good works" or "fruit," if you will, that demonstrate a transformed life. At the very least, we should be in the process of life change. Of course, some changes take longer than others.

When I think of a Bible story, a Biblical character whose life radically changed as a result of an encounter with Jesus, I always think of Zacchaeus. And, when I think of Zacchaeus, I can't help but recall the old song we always used to sing as kids in Sunday School..."Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he...." But I digress. Check out Zach's story in Luke 19:1-10:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
In Zacchaeus' life, he apparently had money issues in his fleshly, fallen state. The Bible says that he was the chief tax collector and very wealthy. Back in those times, tax collectors were the scum of the earth. They were constantly cheating people out of their hard-earned money. Hmmm, not much has really changed in modern times, has it?

But, as soon as the lives of Zacchaeus and Jesus intersect in Jericho, a remarkable transformation takes place in the life of Zacchaeus. Jesus changes him, and the evidence is in his greatest struggle - money. He tells the Lord that he is going to give half of his stuff over to the poor and anyone he has ever cheated will get back four times the amount of money that he cheated them out of. Wow, talk about a major change! Zacchaeus moves from a life of wealth and selfishness to one of extreme generosity.

Has Jesus Really Changed Your Life?

There are a lot of so-called Christians out there who say that their lives have been transformed by the saving power of Jesus. But, if we were to compare their lives to the unbelievers around them, there wouldn't be a whole lot of difference between them.

Sure we all have challenges living the Christian life in a fallen world. I'll be the first to admit that. All of us have certain areas of our lives, though, that we haven't completely handed over to the Lord for total transformation. But, when we have a real and powerful encounter with Jesus, we have choices to make. Am I going to stay stuck in my old ways and my sin nature, or am I going to allow Jesus to change me?

So, how about you? Has Jesus really changed your life? If so, I'd love to hear your story of transformation.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Our Relationship With God Is Complicated

Photo by L. Jones
Fitting God Inside A Box

People try to fit God inside a box and make Him what they want to be for their lives. Let's take for example God's attribute of love. People like to take this one specific attribute about God and then draw conclusions about their own personal situation. They will say (or at least think) such statements as "Well, I know I'm being disobedient in my walk with Christ right now, but that's OK. God loves me in-spite of my rebellious tendencies."

Or, some hyper-critical Christians will swing in the total opposite direction and dwell on the attributes of the holiness of God and His judgment. Even as I write this statement, Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church come to mind as misguided Christians who want to make hate-filled speeches and protests, thinking they're doing God a favor by speaking out on all of the great sins of the United States. Unfortunately, they aren't helping God or Christianity by their words or actions. They are so focused on those specific attributes of God, and they fail to balance them out with God's other characteristics.

You Have To Take All Scripture Into Account

Is God a loving God and merciful to us regarding our sin? Yes, according to the Scriptures, we can see that our God is a loving and forgiving God. Is God a holy God who hates sin and punishes people for that sin? Yes, He most definitely is a holy God who hates this sins of mankind and brings punishment upon those that He wants to punish for that sin.

We cannot fit God into a box regarding specific attributes of His nature. He is a lot more "complicated" than that. He is God, and we're not. In his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever writes this regarding God's nature:
We can summarize the main story line of the Bible simply under five words; this what the Bible teaches us about God: that He is creating; that He is holy; that He is faithful; that He is loving; and that He is sovereign...(p. 59).
We must understand God by His revelation of Himself, not by our own hunches, not by our own wishes, not by the way we like to think of God. Too often today we speak as if evangelism were advertising and explain the Spirit's work in terms of marketing. Some even talk of God Himself as if He were made in the image of man, rather than the other way around...
...We are at our most dangerous point spiritually when we think everything is fine. We need to know that God is entirely right to condemn us forever. And we need to know that God in Christ has offered us another way, if we rely not on our own righteousness and our own goodness and merit but on Christ and on Christ alone. That is when we find the way to peace with God (p 73).
Are You Trying To Place God In A Box?

So, are you guilty of placing God and His nature into a specific "box?" Have you even really given it that much thought? Given people's specific personalities and/or tendencies, we can all tend to focus in on one or two of His characteristics that speak to us, our lives, our sin, and our situation.

Obviously, in today's world, I think a lot of us like to dwell on God's love and His nature to forgive. Because of our own unique battles with the flesh, we tend to assuage the guilt of our sin and the fear of God's punishment in our lives through focusing on His love for us. While His love for us and His faithfulness to us will never fail, we must also be reminded that we serve a holy and sovereign God as well. There should be a "holy fear" and respect of God's sovereignty over our lives.

Man's relationship with God is complex, and we must take into consideration a full knowledge and understanding of what the entire Word of God, from Old Testament to New Testament, teaches about His nature. Don't get hung up on one specific attribute of God, and certainly don't try to squeeze Him down inside a box of your choosing.

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