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Following Jesus can be a treacherous path of trying to change the world, as we see it, and running straight into the truth that we are, indeed, the one with the problem.  We need deliverance from:

  • … Our belief that it is up to us to change people.
  • … Our judgmental and legalistic ways.

Think about this:

In the beginning of Luke 19 – the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus.

(Raise your hand if you just started to sing “Zaccheaus was a wee little man, a wee little man, a wee little man was he!”)

Jesus is in Jericho and a crowd has gathered. The crooked tax collector Zaccheaus was there. He can’t see over the crowd so he climbs up a tree to see Jesus. In the middle of that crowd – which likely would have included more than a fair share of holy or influential or important or preferred or religious people – Jesus heads right for that tree and calls out to that guy – the one who is a social and religious outcast, ridiculously perched up in the branches – to come on down because Jesus wants to go to that guy’s house for supper.

Huh?   How do I explain that to my religious friends?

I mean, honestly.

  • Jesus always picks the wrong guy.

Of course, everyone in the crowd gets quite indignant, muttering among themselves about how Jesus is now the guest of a sinner. Not only did the guy betray his religion, Zacchaeus has betrayed his people, his nation, colluding with the powers that be for his own gain and oppressing the very people who were supposed to be his people.

Or how about the story of the town harlot of Samaria?   The infamous, “Woman at the Well”?  (John 4:1-42)  The longest conversation recorded of Jesus and one person was with this woman who had five husbands, and was with a guy she wasn’t married too when Jesus approached her.

There is our Jesus, sitting by a well…in forbidden Samaria.

Does anyone else see the humor in this story?

The town slut, (or Ho, Hussy, Loose, Sinner, etc. (as she would be called today) approaches Him.

Breaking the Christian rules with humility, grace and mercy

Image: Katie Bulmer

What?

Isn’t she hopeless and an embarrassment? And openly living in sin, (deep breath)!

Plus, Jesus, as a Jew, was not even supposed to be in Samaria, let alone talk to a woman, for heaven’s sake!!

That woman!!

We hate that woman!  Don’t we?  We can’t be seen talking to her.

  • Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Imagine if Jesus was in our world right now in the flesh,  and he heads right over to someone who cooperated with and benefitted from oppression of innocent people, someone who had traded integrity for political power, someone we distrust, someone who we feel is dangerous, someone who stole from people in a socially acceptable and governmentally blessed way, someone who took the very religious or national identity that we cherished and basically stomped all over it for his own gain.

I can think of a few already, but I won’t mention names.

Ugh. We hate that guy.

Don’t we?   I mean aren’t we supposed to keep ourselves clean by dissing those who are not living up to our standards as we interpret them?

Would we be murmuring and complaining and wondering about this Teacher who apparently had missed the important parts of the very Law he claims to teach.

Never mind He really came to fulfill the law Himself.

We don’t hang around with people like that, Jesus.  (Insert whine)

Don’t you know? Good people wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like that.

Just like we don’t hang around with women who are caught in the act of adultery, or fornication, and….

  • We don’t hang around with Samaritans,
  • We don’t hang around with powerless children,
  • We don’t hang around with women who have a bad reputation,
  • We don’t hang around with beggars or the poor or the oppressed or the criminal or the possessed or the socially marginalized or the ones who aren’t allowed to come to church with the good religious people, never!

Get it together, Jesus.

And, hey, news flash, we certainly don’t go to the personal home of a corrupt politician for a bite to eat or the apartment of the town prostitute for a cup of tea.

But Jesus does it anyway.

Jesus seems not to care about our who-is-in and who-is-out line in the sand. He doesn’t seem to care about what we think about all the wrong folks hanging around with him.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law but while also revealing the Love behind the Law, and the inadequacy of it, he came to replace the real love of a real God for their people.

Jesus came because God so loved the world.  After all, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in the book of John, it was because God so loved the world that Jesus came to us.

Jesus came, not to condemn the world but to save the world.

…Including the guy we would rather see condemned, to be honest.

How can we miss this?

Now take note of this fact:  because of an encounter with Jesus, Zaccheaus turns around gives half of everything away. He is so moved by Jesus, he vows to pay back anyone he has cheated four times the amount he stole.

The Samaritan woman?

Oh, she just became the first woman evangelist telling the whole town about Jesus.

Extravagant repentance.

Wild, reckless love for a man who was like no one they ever met.

They both were not just fulfilling the letter of the Law, they were repenting into the heart of Love Himself.

Looks like the presence of Jesus transforms everyone…even those of us who think we have it all together.

  • The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Zaccheaus was lost, Jesus sought him out, and in this moment of repentance – which was so much more than just money or position – he’s reoriented to the Kingdom of God.   The woman at the well discovered that her bucket could only be filled with Jesus, not a multitude of lost men.

Now that is something to get excited about!

  • Think of the word “today” in that passage. Jesus says “Today I must stay at your house” and then later “Today salvation has come to this house.”

The time is now.

We’d rather another day, another house, another time, another kind of sinner.  Don’t bother us with the now.

But today is the day for the wrong guy…or the wrong woman.

It’s perhaps telling, where we see ourselves in that story.

Are we the crowd, resentful and muttering because we think THAT PERSON shouldn’t be included because they aren’t righteous enough or holy enough or good enough or acceptable enough or just enough?

  • Do we have a long list of people we’d probably be pretty mad to see Jesus hanging out with in our world? Do we begrudge seeing Jesus head right to a certain house with a certain person?

We have our sort of people we want to keep out.

Sure, we’re okay with this kind of sinner being included –but not that kind.

But over and over, Jesus picks the wrong person in our eyes.

He even picks you, and me!

Or perhaps we see ourselves more in the one who everyone else wants to keep out.

 “Today, today, today, I’m coming to your house.

And all we can do is receive Jesus with such joy and relief.

And our own sin – everything that damages us and damages our relationship with God and damages our relationships with one another – is over!

We stop putting God into a box of our own self righteous rules and let Him do what He came to do.

…Love on all of us and see lives transformed.

So we turn everything in our lives upside down and inside out to be with Jesus, to be Him extended to everyone…not just those we think won’t contaminate us.

…To cooperate in making all things right, today.

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Why is there so much evil and corruption in the world? Why do children need to be taught to behave, whereas disobedience and naughtiness come rather naturally? What exactly is sin, where does it come from, and how does it relate to our view of God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ?

While this topic of sin is no longer fashionable to voice, the world needs to understand its plight before it comes to believe in the wonders of God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. On this program the hosts will discuss these questions and more as they begin a new four-part series on the doctrine of Original Sin on the White Horse Inn.

Original Sin“Sin is rebellion against God. If we start talking about sin as ‘I’m not fulfilling my potential or something like that,’ we’re already starting off wrong. We need to ask how sin relates to God if sin is rebellion against God. There’s ways that the Bible has talked about this; sin is about missing the mark of God’s law.

“God is holy and the way that the Bible depicts sin is there’s guilt that comes with our rebellion, there’s corruption that comes with that, but it also talks about sin as folly. So talking about original sin actually helps describe to us our present reality.” – Justin Holcomb

Term to Learn:

Original Sin

6.2 Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

6.3 They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.

6.4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. (1689 London Baptist Confession, chap. 6, Sections 2–4)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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We have a lot of questions from parents of prodigals, and those parents want to walk wisely. Dennis, a father, writes in: “Pastor John, thank you for this podcast. I have a 16-year-old prodigal son who has left our home and walked away from Christ. I struggle to know whether I should generously financially support him in the world, like the father in the prodigal son story. Or, unlike what it seems Eli should have done, should I take a more strict position in relation to my rebelling son? The prodigal was given his inheritance, blew it on lewd living, and returned home in repentance. Eli’s sons were wicked, lived in all sorts of sin unchecked and unrepented of, and they died for it. Abundant grace or strict restraint? What should the father of a prodigal do especially in regards to finances?”

I love the way he has already thought a lot about this and thought about it from the Scriptures. Frankly, I wish I had precise and clear answers, but let me say what I do have, and maybe the Lord will use it in some way.

One of the things that makes a relationship with a prodigal so difficult and complex is the interplay between passages of the Bible concerning church discipline and passages concerning parenting. One of the hard church discipline issues is that, on the one hand, we have a call, for example, not even to eat with someone who is a professing believer and living in immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11). And on the other hand, normal expectations of what godly parenting is might make that kind of guideline very difficult to carry through. And there are many other kinds of ambiguities as we try to sort through the special role of a parent in the life of a child who will not submit to his parents’ authority any longer or doesn’t believe any longer in what the parents believe.Should a Christian parent give their rebellious child money?

So, with regard to financial help for a prodigal, I can’t see that there is just one rule that applies to every situation. It seems to me that there are so many factors that make a difference. How old is he? How serious is his sinful behavior? And what are the effects of it on others and the harmfulness of it on himself? Are there elements of respect remaining in his heart? Is there departure? Was his departure ugly rebellion or just a more honest difference of conviction? Is he eager to get on his own feet financially, or is he just aimless and simply mooching? And on and on the questions go that we have to ask.

The reason I think these questions matter is because they are the sort of thing we have to ask about all of our generosity towards others, especially those who mistreat us. I am thinking of Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:38–42,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

However, as radical as those are — and I will circle back to that radicalness in just a minute — it is plain that from the Bible itself that there are structures of society, spheres of society where the Bible puts limits on those teachings. For example, in the family, children should obey their parents and parents should discipline their children rather than always turning the other cheek (Ephesians 6:14). In government, the state has the right to punish criminals rather than turning the other cheek (Romans 13:14). In schools, teachers have a right to give failing grades to students who don’t do their work. In businesses, employers have the right to see that employees fulfill their expectations in order to earn their salary; otherwise, they could lose their jobs. In the church, people can be excommunicated. But when all those spheres of life are taken into consideration, Jesus did mean something radical when he said, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” and when He said, “Give to the one who begs from you.”

So, the older I get, the more inclined I am to take those commands more literally than I once tried to justify myself in not doing. I don’t think there is a simple rule that will dictate when you help a prodigal financially and when you don’t. On the one hand, you want to show the child that Jesus is your all-satisfying treasure. And any withholding of money which might be wise in any given situation is not owing to stinginess or fear or greed or insecurity. It is owing to a desire to do the child good. We want him to see that. And that would mean that parents would look for other ways to continually do good to the child.

I think that is a significant principle that, if you have to say no in one area because the child’s expectation is harmful as you see it, you try to help him see your heart is still there for him by pouring yourself out in other ways. You will continually reach out to him rather than write him off. You will continually offer yourselves even if you don’t offer your money. And that may be much more difficult. To get on a plane and go across the country might be much more difficult than wiring money. You will go out of your way to be there for the child.

And, yes, at some utterly surprising moment, you may give him a wonderful gift that is not designed to advance his sin, but lavish him with grace in the hopes that God might open his eyes. Above all, I would just say to this parent: Immerse yourself in the word of God and join hands with your spouse in continual prayer for wisdom and love and boldness and even joy while your heart is breaking. And I think God, out of that, will show you the way forward.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes here.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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This is one of the most important questions we’ve gotten in the Ask Pastor John inbox, and it comes to us from a listener named Jesse. “Dear Pastor John, in a recent episode (#948) you note that: ‘God sent his Son into the world to suffer with us and for us. This means that, if we trust him, none of our suffering is punishment for sin. Christ bore all of our punishment for sin.’ But there are very real consequences for our sin in this world, both on ourselves and on others, both for believers and unbelievers alike. For example, financial hardships following selfish overspending, or sexually transmitted disease following promiscuity. How do we see this as discipline and not punishment? And what really is the difference between the two?”

Is Pain Punishment for My Sin?The difference between God’s discipline of his children and God’s judgment on his enemies is an infinite difference. So, I hope I can help Jesse feel the difference, because it is so important for his or her own walk of faith.

So, let me begin by defining the difference with a cup full of biblical passages — just two. And they are massively important. When I speak of God’s judgment upon his enemies, I am referring to the misery that he brings upon them, not for any purifying or restoring or rehabilitating purposes, but solely to express his holy justice, his retribution, not restitution. And it is purely on the basis precisely of what the enemies deserve. It is not to demonstrate mercy. It is to demonstrate righteousness and justice.

For example, Revelation 16:5–6,

“I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, ‘Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!’”

So, there is the mark of pure retributive justice. It comes upon the sinner solely because of what they deserve, not because of any good that the punishment will do them.

You can see it even more clearly in Revelation 19:1–3, because here the judgments are eternal, not temporary. So, clearly they are not helping at all for a person to become holy. They are punishing him for not being holy. Here is what it says:

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’ Once more they cried out, ‘Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.’”

So, this is what I am talking about when I speak of God’s punishment upon sin in contrast to the discipline of God’s children. It is what the guilty deserve. It is holy and just retribution, and it is eternal. Therefore, is not designed for rehabilitation. It displays God’s justice, and it highlights how valuable mercy is to those who receive it.

On the other hand, God describes his discipline for his children very differently and extensively in Hebrews 12:5–11. Listen how different this is:

“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him” (Hebrews 12:5).

Notice, this is discipline, not retribution. This is happening to God’s son, whom he loves and means to improve, even though it involves God’s displeasure. You can see that in the word reprove. And it goes on:

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. (Hebrews 12:6–10)

There is the great difference: “for our good, that we may share his holiness.” That is different from punishment on God’s enemies. “For the moment all discipline seems painful, rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

So, I say again: There is an infinite difference between the painful things that come into our lives and discipline us — designed for our good that we may share God’s holiness as loved children — and that terrible experience of pure retribution where we simply bear what we deserve and experience God’s justice forever. It is called hell. And, of course, Jesse — and this may be the stumbling block — Jesse is absolutely right that many of the painful things in the Christian’s life are owing to our own sins: some that we committed before we were Christians, and some that we have committed since we have been Christians.

When Jesse asks, “How do we see this as discipline and not punishment?” it sounds like he may be making the mistake of thinking that God’s disciplinary action can only be the result of our righteous behavior through persecution, maybe, and God’s punishment comes only as a result of unrighteous behavior. Now, that is not the case. God’s discipline may indeed come from our own sinful behaviors and their consequences as Christians. And you can see this in 1 Corinthians 11:30 and following. Some Christians had sinned. They had really sinned in the way they had treated the Lord’s Supper. And here is God’s response:

“That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died,” — died for their abuse of the Lord’s Table, their sin. Christians sin. They died for it.

He goes on, “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord” — meaning: ill, weak, death — when we are judged by the Lord — “we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31–32).

Amazing. This is a stunning example of God’s disciplinary judgment that goes so far as to bring about the death of his child. And that death is the disciplinary effect of sin in the child’s life because it keeps him from going to hell. It says, “that we may not be condemned along with the world.” That is why he took us out. Amazing.

So, Jesse, there is an infinite and precious difference between God’s retributive justice in punishment and God’s purifying discipline in our pain. And that difference does not lie in the origin, the human origin of the pain — whether good or evil. It lies in the purpose and the design of God in our suffering.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes here.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Dr. William Lane Craig responds to a critique from The Secular Outpost.

KEVIN HARRIS: Dr. Craig, we always keep up with some of the writers and bloggers at the Secular Outpost. They talk about your work quite often and reference your work. “Does Theism Explain The Necessity of Moral Truths?” This talks about your moral argument and says that it fails. What is your take from why there would be a bug (as Jeff says in this article) and not a feature in your moral argument for God’s existence?

DR. WILLIAM LANE CRAIG:The argument he gives is a rather complex argument for thinking that the existence of God would not suffice to explain necessary moral truths. He seems to want to defend a kind of Atheistic Moral Platonism, though that is not entirely clear.

KEVIN HARRIS: OK. He says,

“…’Theism expresses a necessary proposition,’ is itself a necessary (but not a sufficient) condition for God’s existence to explain necessary truths, including necessary truths about the existence of moral values.”

DR. CRAIG:Here I think he has not expressed himself very well. We shouldn’t say theism expresses a necessary proposition. I am not even sure what that means. What the theist wants to say is that the sentence “God exists” expresses a necessary proposition. That sentence does not itself express a necessary proposition because if the English language never existed, or example, then it would not be true that the sentence “God exists” expresses a necessary proposition. That is a contingent feature of the fact that English exists. But I do think that the proposition expressed by the sentence “God exists” is a necessary truth. I do think that the existence of God does serve to explain the existence of necessary moral values and other moral truths.

KEVIN HARRIS: He continues,

“As software engineers might say, this is a bug, not a feature, in Craig’s moral argument for God’s existence.”

 DR. CRAIG: I take it by that he means this is some sort of a defect in the moral argument, I guess. Go ahead.

KEVIN HARRIS:

“If Craig’s moral argument requires that theism be a necessary proposition, then it is much more likely that theism is necessarily false…”

DR. CRAIG: I don’t understand why he thinks that that would be the case. I think the moral argument does lead to the necessary truth of the proposition, “God exists.” But I see that as an entailment or implication of the argument, not as a defect. The question is why does he think that is problematic?

KEVIN HARRIS:

“Paul Draper explains the point well. ‘Suppose that theism is not a contingent proposition. Then it is much more likely that it is necessarily false than that it is necessarily true.’”

DR. CRAIG: OK, now that is odd. Let’s assume that the proposition “God exists” is either necessarily true or impossible. Jeff thinks it is much more likely that this is an impossible proposition than a necessarily true one. Why does he think that?

KEVIN HARRIS: He says,

“This is made clear by any objective comparison of the available reasons for thinking that theism is necessarily true to the available reasons for thinking that it is necessarily false.”

DR. CRAIG: That seems to me to confuse the epistemology with ontology. The reasons for thinking that theism is necessarily true has nothing to do with the necessity of the proposition that “God exists.” That would only have to do with whether or not we have warrant for believing that proposition. But that seems to me to be completely irrelevant to the necessary truth of that proposition.

Similarly, the reasons that he gives for thinking that this proposition is impossible are the old coherence of theism objections that it is improbable that there should be a being which is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. You can’t just assert that. You’ve got to argue that. I don’t think any of those sorts of objections go through. There has been an enormous amount of ink spilled over the question of the coherence of theism, and I don’t think anybody has even come close to demonstrating that the concept of God is a logically incoherent concept. So I don’t think we’ve seen any reasons given here by Jeff for thinking that the proposition “God exists” is probably impossible.

To give a non-theological example. Take the mathematical proposition called Goldbach’s Conjecture. Nobody knows whether Goldbach’s Conjecture is true or false. But if it is true it is necessarily true; if it is false it is necessarily false. The fact that we have no good reason to believe Goldbach’s Conjecture doesn’t do anything at all to undermine the fact that this could well be a necessarily true proposition. So these epistemic considerations are simply irrelevant to the necessary truth of the proposition in question.

KEVIN HARRIS: He says,

“Let’s put that to the side and assume that God’s existence really is broadly logically necessary.”

DR. CRAIG: Now that’s a funny thing to do. If you put it to the side and you assume that God’s existence really is necessary then that’s the end of the debate! Right? Who needs a moral argument for God’s existence if you assume that God’s existence is broadly logically necessary? I think that what Jeff has done here is he is thinking that it is an assumption of the moral argument that God exists necessarily, which would threaten to make it circular, when it is actually an entailment of the moral argument. It is an implication of the moral argument. In fact the moral argument as I state it doesn’t really imply the necessary truth of God’s existence. The argument as I run it is:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
  3. Therefore God exists.

That doesn’t say anything about the necessity of the conclusion. That only arises when we reflect on the fact that objective moral values and duties themselves don’t seem to be contingent. It seems to be true in every possible world that torturing a child for fun is morally wrong. That would be an implication of the moral argument. It leads us not to a contingently existing God but it in fact leads us to a God whose existence is metaphysically necessary. That is an entailment, not an assumption of the moral argument.

KEVIN HARRIS: He continues,

“If that were so, how would it follow that God’s (necessary) existence somehow explains the (necessary) existence of objective moral values?”

DR. CRAIG: I think that people like Robert Adams, Philip Quinn, and William Alston have done a good job on this question. They argue that God himself is the paradigm of moral goodness, and that his commandments are the source of our moral obligations. Insofar as we human beings resemble God’s nature we, too, have intrinsic moral value and goodness. So I do think that there is explanatory depth in theism.

His response is to react to my argument against the alternative of Atheistic Moral Platonism which is the view that moral values exist as abstract objects. This connects interestingly with my work on divine aseity, doesn’t it? Because in talking about the challenge of Platonism to divine aseity we talk about the existence of abstract objects like mathematical objects, numbers, sets, and functions, or possible worlds, propositions, properties, and so forth. But we could also talk about moral values. If the Platonist thinks that moral values are abstract objects then this provides an atheistic alternative, but only at the expense, I think, of a very extravagant metaphysic, namely, you’re positing this realm of abstract moral objects presumably existing beyond space and time. And that raises a whole host of metaphysical questions, one of which is the one that he responds to here. I find it hard even to comprehend the Platonist view. As I say here, I understand what it means to say a person is just or that he acts justly. But I draw a completely blank when we are told that Justice just exists as an abstract moral value. This is all the more obvious when you reflect that the abstract object Justice is no more just than Quickness is quick or Being-Five-Fingered is five-fingered or Redness is red or Wisdom is wise. These are not properties that these abstract objects have. So if Justice itself is not just and there are no human beings and no God then how is it that Justice exists? This is almost trembling on the brink of self-contradiction. I have a very difficult time – speaking just honestly – in even understanding Platonism.

KEVIN HARRIS: I wonder what the beef is here because he says your “selection of ‘justice’ as his example of a moral value is odd.”

DR. CRAIG: He wants to argue that justice is not a value concept; it is a duty concept. Well, we could quibble about that, but then he says, “Fortunately, Craig provides other . . . examples: mercy, love, and forbearance.” How does Forbearance exist as an abstract object? I don’t even understand what that means. I know what it means for a person to forbear with someone else, but when the Platonist says Forbearance exists as an abstract object, I just have a complete blank.

KEVIN HARRIS: The article continues,

“Here I want to use moral values like mercy or love to show that God’s necessary existence is not a sufficient condition for explaining the necessary existence of moral values.”

Dr. William Lane Craig's Moral ArgumentDR. CRAIG: Now wait a minute. I thought he was supposed to be defending Atheistic Moral Platonism. I don’t see that he’s defended it against my objection that it is unintelligible. Does Jeff really think that Love is an abstract object that exists beyond space and time independently of any persons? He is not responding to the objection that Atheistic Moral Platonism is unintelligible. Instead he’s trying to turn the tables now and say,Well, you theists don’t explain the necessity of moral values because God’s existence won’t explain the necessary existence of things like mercy and love.

KEVIN HARRIS: He says,

“If moral values like mercy or love ‘exist as properties of persons, not as mere abstractions,’ it would seem that they are relational and so would require that two or more persons exist.”

DR. CRAIG: I agree with that. If you look at my chapter on the Trinity inPhilosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, that is one of the plausibility arguments that I give for a trinitarian doctrine of God and against unitarian conceptions of God such as you find in Islam where you don’t have a plurality of persons. I think that for God to be loving requires that there be another to whom God gives himself away. Since that can’t be any created person (since created persons are contingent) there must be a plurality of persons within the divine being. But also the directedness of love – in love one gives oneself away to another. It just doesn’t center narcissistically in one’s self. I think this makes it plausible to think that God is a plurality of persons necessarily.

KEVIN HARRIS: Then he says,

“Mere theism doesn’t entail Christian theism, which in turn means it does not entail the Christian doctrine of the trinity is true, and so it does not entail the existence of multiple divine persons.”

DR. CRAIG: I think that depends on how you define theism. If you mean by theism simply the view that there is a creator and designer of the universe, I would agree.

KEVIN HARRIS: That would be mere theism or generic theism.

DR. CRAIG: Well, I don’t know. It wouldn’t imply the doctrine of the Trinity. But, as I say, if you say that love is an essential property of God then I’ve argued that theism does entail, not the doctrine of the Trinity, but at least a plurality of persons within God. That is my argument.

KEVIN HARRIS: So even if it were the case that theism is necessarily true, it wouldn’t follow that more than one person exists.

DR. CRAIG: And that is where I disagree with him. I’ve given an argument for thinking that that is the case.

KEVIN HARRIS: OK.

“But if, ‘More than one person exists,’ is a contingent proposition, this creates a problem for Divine Nature Theorists (DNT-ists) like Craig who want to argue that God’s nature explains all objective moral values, including relational moral values like love and mercy.

DR. CRAIG: And I would deny the antecedent of that sentence. I don’t think that the sentence “more than one persons exists” is a contingent proposition. That expresses a necessary proposition. This is seen through the argument that I have given for a plurality of persons in the Godhead.

KEVIN HARRIS: He says,

“Sure, there is a sense in which we can talk about a person loving themselves or having mercy on themselves, but I think it’s clear that not what people usually have in mind when they talk about ‘love’ and ‘mercy’ as moral values.”

DR. CRAIG: Amen! I want to say, Jeff, thou art not far from the Kingdom of God! This is my argument against the Muslim and the Islamic conception of God. I think he is on the right track.

KEVIN HARRIS:

“So if moral values are properties of persons; if some moral values are relational; and if ‘More than one person exists’ is a contingent proposition, then there are possible worlds in which God exists but relational moral values do not exist.”

DR. CRAIG: What would I deny in that statement?

KEVIN HARRIS: That it is a contingent proposition.

DR. CRAIG: Right. I think that it is not a contingent proposition that more than one person exists.

KEVIN HARRIS: He wraps it up saying,

“Thus, God’s existence, even God’s necessary existence, cannot explain necessary truths about all objective moral values because it cannot explain necessary truths about relational moral values. But that entails Craig’s moral argument fails.”

DR. CRAIG: And we’ve seen that that is based on this false reasoning. What doesn’t get said here is what alternative Jeff wants to offer to theistic-based ethics. Is he going to defend Atheistic Moral Platonism? If so, then he owes us a response to the intelligibility objection that I raise against Platonism.

KEVIN HARRIS: I want to say, again, that this shows the importance of your new book, God Over All because it gives such a grounding for when you encounter articles like this that delve into these deep philosophical issues.

DR. CRAIG: I must say, it almost makes me laugh how time and time again I have chosen these abstruse seemingly irrelevant topics like God and time or divine aseity as the focus of my research and again and again they prove to be relevant in unexpected ways in other areas.

(This podcast is by Reasonable Faith / William Lane Craig. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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“Hannah kept wailing even when Eli the priest mistook her for a drunk and questioned her sincerity. She simply set the record straight by telling him, ‘I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief’” (1Samuel 1: 15-16).  

She didn’t care how she looked as she prayed.   God knew her heart…

We know Hannah  for her sorrow… She longed for a son, but couldn’t have children. We know her for her faithfulness. She never gave up hope that God would hear her prayer. We also know her for her sacrifice. She dedicated her baby Samuel to the Lord

and left him at the temple to serve God “all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11).

Praying Like Hannah, a Drunken Woman

Image: Lev Haolam

Hannah is one of the most recognizable women in Scripture for all these reasons. Many of us remember her story for her deep anguish over not being a mother. We all most likely recall her time at the temple, taking her request to God in powerful prayer. And what mom wouldn’t be impacted by Hannah’s bold move – leaving her little blessing at the temple to be raised by Eli the priest?

And did you know after God answered her prayer for a child to deliver her from her barrenness, God continued to answer the prayers for Hannah?   She had two more sons and three daughters– while Samuel “grew up in the presence of the Lord” (>1 Samuel 2:21).

  • Hannah trusted God without doubt or concern. Her reverent fear of the Lord was just one more quality of her godly character.
  • We have to get serious in our prayer lives.
  • We have to determine that we will hang on and not stop believing until we see an answer.

That’s what Hannah did year after year.

She “showed up.”

She entered her conversations with God broken, resentful, bitter, unhappy, defeated and moaned like a drunken woman.  She was herself without pretense.

  • Do you not think God knows our humanness?

But one year Hannah decided to focus on God and His provision instead of dwelling on her unchanging circumstances. Hannah did something that brought her into the inner courtyard of God’s presence: she prayed with determination.

And her relationship with God went from the possible to the personal, from inactive to active, from nominal to phenomenal.

I heard a teaching today about prayer…but not the way we usually think of prayer…the point was being made that God already knows what we have need of before we even ask.  Ever think of that…and have you ever questioned why, if He already knows, do we need to pray about it?

  • I have.

Because my long journey with the Lord has been a constant pondering about prayer and how to do it.   There are so many types of prayer and where do we start?

What has really set me free is the fact that I have pressed into a very personal relationship with a very real God through His Son Jesus and the freedom has come in my “just talking to Him”.

Every day…

All day…

About everything.

So, I prefer to call prayer, “talking to Jesus”…It just makes it more personal to me.

That teacher this morning said we pray to Him to release our own FAITH….

  • MY FAITH ACTIVATES MY PRAYERS IN HIS PRESENCE.

That is why we ask!

It is acknowledging the fact that you are believing Him for His absolute involvement in your life and your desires, your healings, your journey….

There are many types of ways to pray, or talk to God.

Right now I am studying about Warfare.

  • We know we don’t fight flesh and blood, but principalities and wickedness in high places.   We are seated in the heavenly realm in the spirit to adequately combat the enemy and all his forces of hell that want to defeat us on every level.   But we have the power that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelling on the inside of us.   We have the power to fight off those wicked spirits and be victorious.

Having been beaten down and disappointed, do you find it hard to boldly and specifically ask God for something in prayer?

I know I do.

  • But here Hannah was, at the lowest point in her life, offering up a request that she had probably thought a thousand times. The Bible says we don’t receive because we don’t ask. Don’t give up on asking for what you most desire. And do it believing that God gives good gifts to those who ask because He does, and He is a rewarder of all who seek Him.

Let’s not linger at the gate of God’s presence, going through the motions of worshipping God and yet holding sadness and bitterness in our hearts.

Let’s count ourselves as ones who have been brushed by His greatness and honored to have the profound privilege of talking to God on every level and make our requests known.

Let’s rejoice that He gave His power to us to combat the evil one dwelling on this earth.  And we can do that well.   It just takes determination!

He did NOT leave us here powerless and defeated.  But as His children, we are equipped to walk within His Kingdom in the here and now.

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Jerrad Lopes helps every day families learn how to follow Jesus in every day life. Dad Tired is a group of guys from around the world who are taking their faith, their family, and their marriage very seriously. You can become a part of the group by going to DadTired.com and clicking on the Community tab, which will link you to our closed Facebook group.

Many of you have reached out to me after last week’s podcast, where I described the really tough times my wife and I have been going through, and dumb decisions that I’ve recently made. Thank you so much. Thank you for your kind words and prayers.

I was just telling a friend this week – all of us are struggling through our “junk”, as part of our sanctification process. In other words, God doesn’t just save us and bails on us. But, He keeps walking with us and in His grace and mercy continues to expose to us our junk in order to lead us to repentance and help make us more like Him.

I just wish I could stop messing up in front of so many people!

But, I guess it comes with the territory.

Regardless of all of my junk, God is good… all the time!

Lately, because of His goodness, he is drawing me closer and closer to Him! Amen!!

Now, I bring all this up because I think that too often, we tend to fluctuate between to false gospels…

The first tells us that our behavior is so bad that we fall into a spiral of shame and guilt – much like when Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden after they disobeyed Him. Too often, we just want to hide when we feel like we don’t have our act together.

On the flipside of this, there is the lie that we tell ourselves that says: I’ve been praying regularly, I’m reading the Bible, I’ve got my act together, so now I can approach God because my behavior is better.

Both of these are false gospels.

The truth is that all of us are broken, sinful enemies of God who are desperately in need of His grace, which He earnestly gives to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He has taken us as enemies and made us sons and daughters – heirs to His kingdom! Therefore, we shouldn’t be filled with shame, but know that God love us and send His Son to die for us because He knew we would blow it, and yet He STILL loves us! Also, we shouldn’t be so proud to think that because we are so amazing, that our behavior makes us right with God so that we can approach Him… it’s’ impossible for us to be pure enough to approach God… but He invites us to because He loves us, not because of how we behave.

There are no such things as good days and bad days in God’s economy. We are in need of God’s grace all the time. And He redeems us and cleanses us continually, as we humbly repent and pursue His will.

So, get this… whether you are performing at your best or at your worst, God’s view of you doesn’t change.

Switching gears just a bit, when I was in Africa last month – without cell service and many of the other luxuries that I enjoy here at home – I was able to connect with the people around me much deeper without all the distractions that I normally surround myself with. This started me wondering if we are able to daily live fully present in the moment in America.

That got me looking into a “movement” called Minimalism. It starts with looking around your home and simply de-cluttering all the non-essentials. In the U.S., we are such a consumer-based culture where we buy more and more stuff all the time. So, Minimalists strive to get rid of the things that 1) we don’t absolutely need; or 2) do not bring us joy.

As I started purging these things from my home, I discovered a refreshing sense of clarity.minimalism

This made me start to wonder if I can do this same thing beyond the stuff in my house. Could I begin to de-clutter other aspects of my life? The easy start was getting rid of unnecessary apps on my phone. Could I trim down my connections on Facebook? Could I get rid of certain music that doesn’t necessarily bring me joy or draw me closer to God? What about distractions like cable TV or home internet?

I started evaluating everything in my life and evaluating if I actually need it, or does it actually bring true joy to my life. So, I’ve now been a Minimalist for a whopping ten days and I’ve noticed much more order, not just on my phone and in my home, but in my heart and mind as well. I find myself less distracted and much more aware of God’s blessings in my life. I’ve been a better friend, husband and dad over this past week-and-a-half by simply having more time to devote to the people around me.

So, ask yourself… are there things in your life that actually distract you from being present or put barriers between you and God or your loved ones?

(This podcast is by Jerrad Lopes. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Jesus in HD Slider

As you will hear in this PODCAST, there is No.Clearer.Picture in all of the Bible of the heart of God towards sinners — I’m talking the hardest of hardhearted sinners — than this one right here in Luke 13.

A Scriptural snapshot that will go a long way to defining your Biblical view of God and your Biblical understanding of Jesus, both as a man and as God.

If you think of the Bible as a picture book, Luke paints for us a portrait of Jesus that is, quite frankly, irresistible, and most refreshing to my soul. It will be to yours as well. Guaranteed.

One that comes to us, ironically enough, thanks to a small cadre of good Pharisees. Yes! You heard me right. Good Pharisees.

The Pharisees as a group, as we have discussed in weeks gone by, and as you therefore understand, were historically among Jesus’ chief tormentors. That being said, there were in the minority some good Pharisees.

Nicodemus comes to mind as a good Pharisee, one who lovingly cared for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.

In Mark 12, Jesus told a good Pharisee that he was “not far from the Kingdom of God.”

In Acts 15, reference is made to a number of good Pharisees who were committed Christ-followers.

And here in Luke 13, we find a small group of good Pharisees who traveled likely from Galilee to Perea to warn Jesus about the murderous intentions of Antipas.

This, my dear friends, is quite a gripping story.

Image: Bob Smerecki

Image: Bob Smerecki

So, let’s begin by reading Jesus’ words in Luke 13:34,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

So, here we are in Perea – a geographical destination that is not mentioned anywhere, specifically, in our four Gospels. It’s known as the “region across the Jordan River”. Jesus was pretty much living in exile – a man without a home. Which is why Jesus said back in Luke 9:58,

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Yet, as I mentioned, even this Man without a home still had some good Pharisees who were going to great measures to look out for His well being, as we read in Luke 13:31-

At that time some Pharisees said to him, “Get away from here if you want to live! Herod Antipas wants to kill you!”

32 Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and the third day I will accomplish my purpose. 33 Yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day I must proceed on my way. For it wouldn’t do for a prophet of God to be killed except in Jerusalem!

I find it interesting – even a bit ironic – that Jesus uses the word “fox” to describe Herod… the same word he used earlier in describing lowly creatures who have dens while He was without a place to lay His head. At this moment, Herod was out to kill Jesus while able to rest each night in his palace.

Herod’s hatred for Jesus was absolutely palpable. We see evidence of this on the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion, as He stood before Herod in His “mockery of a trial”.

Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus. He regarded Jesus as little more than a carnival monkey and wanted only to see Jesus perform miracles for his enjoyment. He wanted cheap entertainment – a magic show. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer.

What I find amazing is how Herod – in his exploitation of the Son of God – contributed in his own way to the fulfillment of a 700 year-old-prophesy in Isaiah 53:7,

He was oppressed and treated harshly yet he never said a word.

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.

Meanwhile, the priests and teachers of the law stood there shouting their accusations, so Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. And once again, Herod unwittingly behaved just as God had said through King David in Psalm 22:

Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads saying, “Is this the one who relies on the Lord?”

And so we read of Herod Antipas, as Jesus stood silently before him, harshly sneering, mocking and ridiculing the Son of God.

Finally, we read Antipas’ men put a royal robe on Jesus’ shoulders and sent Him back to Pilot. Herod, no doubt was frustrated that he didn’t receive the magic show he had anticipated.

So, back in Luke 13:32, when Jesus referred to Herod as a fox, we know today just how wily and harsh of a fox Herod truly was. But Jesus was never one to be intimidated. He knew His schedule. In fact, the whole world operates on His schedule, not Herod’s. This is why Jesus told the good Pharisees, “You to tell that fox Herod Antipas that I’m not ready to die yet. Not here. Not today.”

Yet, those words were followed by Jesus’ heartbreaking words for His beloved people in His beloved city:

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! (Luke 13:34)

Wait… what? Jerusalem killed God’s prophets? Sadly, we read the following:

So they conspired against him [Zechariah], and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 24:21)

Then we read in Jeremiah 23:

Now there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah…

…And they brought Urijah from Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. (Jeremiah 26:20, 23)

Again, we read in 2 Kings 21:16 that

King Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord.

Moving to the New Testament, we read in Acts 7:59-60,

As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.

He died in Jerusalem – the “City of Peace”. But, by her own choices this city has known very little peace in her history. Not then. Not today.

Yet it is still the city that God will always love. It’s His “mailing address”. It’s inhabitants are God’s family and friends, as is written in Psalm 122:

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
    May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
    and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
    “May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

Yet Jerusalem is also the city for which God mourns – centuries ago when they were led into captivity throughout history and even today.

As Jesus, Himself said in Luke 13:34-35,

How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 35 And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

So, while Herod is a fox who preys on chicks, Jesus is the hen who longs to protect them.

Yet they refused and rejected Him. Even evicted Him.

This is perhaps why Jesus uses the words “your house” instead of calling it His own.

This is further proof that given enough time, God will give us exactly what we want. In my estimation, THAT is the definition of God’s wrath or punishment. And that is exactly what happened in 586 BC and in 70 AD.

He will remove His hand of protection and He will give them exactly what they want. Just as we read in Ezra 8:22,

“Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.”

This is a lesson our own country desperately needs to hear.

I’m reminded of R.C.H. Lenski’s interpretation of Luke’s Gospel, when he wrote:

“Grace is not irresistible; every case of resistance proves it… Damnation results from man’s own will, which settles into permanent, obdurate unaccountable resistance against God’s will of grace. The more God draws the will with the power of grace, the more this will rejects God until grace can do no more.

…Jesus willed to save them, but they willed it not.”

Yet, God weeps, as He wants all of His children to come home to Him… even at the cost of His own Son’s life.

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Daren Streblow

I think it’s weird how people name their dogs. I mean, it’s clear that dogs aren’t even aware that they have names.

“Your name is Spot.”

“OK… whatever. Whatever you’re trying to communicate with me is fine. I’ll just keep wagging my tail like this because you seem to enjoy it. Ya got any food?! How do you stand on your back legs for so long like that? That’s really impressive. Ya got any food?!”

“You are Spot.”

“Finger. Pointing. Got it. You seem to want me to wag my tail at your pointed finger.”

I mean, if dogs cared about, or knew their names, we wouldn’t have to worry about whistling after using their name. Yet, we always do.

“Here, Spot! Come here, boy!! (WHISTLE!!)”

“Is he calling me? Well… he whistled, so that must mean he has something for me. The whistle is always for me. The evil cat never responds to his whistle, so it must be for me. And, if he whistles at his wife, she smacks him… so that means he must mean it for me.”

Plus, if dogs actually were aware of their names, I think they’d be pretty disappointed.

“Come here, Boomer!”

“Boomer? That’s the best you could come up with? Is this some sort of weird commentary on my voice? Boomer? I’m more of a Dennis, really.”

Do you really think your dog wants an ironic name, anyway? Too often, I see things like pitbulls named Sugarplumb, or as Riley shared… a cute little pug named Sushi. Sushi? Who would ever want to come back to your house for dinner after seeing your dog named Sushi and your cat named… what… Meatloaf??

I think we should keep it simple and name our dog’s “Dog”. If you have more than one, then your second dog would be named “The Other Dog”. You may think that it’s uncreative to have one name for all dogs, but when you think about it, that’s the way dogs see us – we all have one name: Ruff.

The worst ever was when my cousins gave my uncle a new dog with the worst name ever in the history of housepets. My uncle wants to be nice to his kids and tolerates his new dog’s name. This was fine until the dog escaped from their house and got lost in the neighborhood. So, as the sun is setting on his suburban neighborhood, Uncle Al had to walk through his streets, yelling for his dog… by name, of course:

“Killer! Killer!!! Where are you, Killer? Are you in this nice couple’s backyard, Killer?!”

Next, my incredibly funny friend, Bone Hampton joins the show. Bone has a bone to pick with people who can’t seem to mind their own business. He performs at a lot of secular comedy clubs, and when it’s not appropriate, he refrains from evangelizing from the stage. He simply tells his jokes, and if something he says piques someone’s interest – especially if it’s about the Gospel – he’s more than eager to talk more. But, if you don’t want to have anything to do with Bone’s beliefs… he’ll leave you alone. He’s heard too many people complain about Christians who seem to be throwing Bible verses into peoples’ faces and he doesn’t want to come off as one of “those types of people”.bone hampton

However, Bone is also a diabetic and he has to be careful about what he eats and drinks. So, when he is at a restaurant, he often orders something like:

  • 15 pieces of whatever they’ve got,
  • 14 side orders…
  • and a Diet Coke.

That’s what he does to make sure his meal is diabetic-friendly.

Yet, the waiters at the restaurant never have any problem “food-evangelizing” to my friend, Bone!

“You know… that Diet Coke is bad for you.  It can cause cancer.”

“Excuse me? Aren’t you simply supposed to take my order and bring me my food? I didn’t ask for your counseling on this.”

Yet, if he were to approach anyone and say, “Hey… you know… not going to church is bad for you”… then they’d likely go ballistic on him.

But, no one seems to have a problem with telling him his Diet Coke is bad for him.

Still, Bone tries to remain nice and friendly whenever this type of situation arises.

“Let me tell you something that I know for certain, as a diabetic… If I drink a regular Coke… that’s going to get my foot cut off. You’re just guessing that Diet Coke might give me cancer, but I’m straight up certain that regular Coke will be the death of me. I’m from the South. I was raised on chitins and pig’s feet. My stomach can handle Diet Coke!”

Finally, my dear pal Darrell Dyer calls into the show.

His story isn’t for everyone, especially considering that this show is appropriate for the whole family. This may be too much for young listeners.

Darrell is traveling the country, speaking for schools, churches and other organizations – battling against bullying and school violence through humor and his personal story.

The catalyst that threw him into the world of speaking out against bullying and school violence was the memories of where he came from. Prior to traveling and speaking, he worked as a Youth Pastor at his local church. After working with junior highers for ten years, he gained a clear perspective on how important it is for us adults to not forget our own childhoods and where we came from.

Especially when you had a childhood like Darrell’s.Darrell Dyer1

As a kid, he thought what he was experiencing was common for everyone. So, in the fourth grade, when he confided in a classmate what was going on in his home, he endured a rough twist of events when this buddy of his turned into a bully.

You see, from the time Darrell was eight-to-twelve-years-old, he was molested by several different people, and even raped one time. Yet, as a kid, he didn’t know that life was supposed to be any different.

So, when he finally opened up to his friend, he found himself targeted for the next six years by this bully.

Darrell would fake being sick to avoid going to school – not because he hadn’t studied for a test like most kids, but to escape being blackmailed and verbally abused by his bully. Compared to the mental anguish that Darrell endured for all those years, he practically wished he were physically bullied – at least he could fight back against that. But, he could only sit quietly and take the abuse of the psychological bullying he endured. Every minute of every day, he lived in fear that his bully was going to tell the world about Darrell’s sexual abuse.

So, today, Darrell shares with others how to overcome tragic life stories like his.

One step he talks about is learning how to laugh off the hurt. Oddly enough, it seems that some people who have been hurt the most know how to laugh the most. Maybe it’s because they are starving for an opportunity in life to laugh out loud and let it all out.

It’s also critical for people to learn how to forgive. Now, when Darrell talks about forgiveness, he doesn’t mean “permission for the offender to keep offending their victim”. Rather, it’s arriving at a point where the victim can look at the offender in the eye and ask, “What is it about me you don’t like?” This simple question begins to help the victim free themselves from the prison of bitterness and unforgiveness they find themselves in.

We are all in need of forgiveness for something. Our very sin nature separates us from God and puts us in need of His forgiveness. So, when we can learn to forgive others who do us wrong – just as God has forgiven us – it’s liberating in so many ways!

But, as Darrell puts it, real healing begins when we can actually sit down and start naming the people who have abused us.

He carried around his hurt in silence for 27 years. Yet, he says today that he wouldn’t trade his world for nothing! Of course, he doesn’t wish that he could be abused more than what he endured, but everything that he has gone through has caused him to become the man he is today, with the story he can tell in such a way that he can help people who have gone through similar abuse and bullying, find grace and forgiveness in their lives, and draw close to God.

One key is for young people to receive good, Godly counseling.

As Darrell puts it… it all comes down to a choice: Life or Death. Decisions determine destiny.

The answer to this decision is clear: Life.

It’s within the grasp of everyone. Even those who might believe that death is their free will and choice as a means of escape. So, Darrell encourages people to find their worth, not in their peers, or their past… but in how their Almighty and all-loving Creator views them.

If we look at Joseph’s example in the book of Genesis, even after his brothers abused him, beat him, and sold him off to slavery, when it was all over, Joseph was able to forgive them and speak to them kindly. So, we’re not talking about trusting the bullies again, or rebuilding relationships through reconciliation, but if the victim has truly forgiven their abuser and has released themselves from the prison of unforgiveness, they should be able to at the very least speak kindly to the offender.

That’s when good healing can begin.

You can find out more about Darrell, his story, and how he can come and share with your school or church at DarrelllDyer.com.

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(The following was originally published at CareyGreen.com.)

In Matthew 5:7, Jesus said:

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

But, what does this have to do with business?  How can we apply this to our careers?

Well, firstly, we need to remember to have mercy towards our clients and customers.  It’s just a fact of life (and business) that clients don’t always have their act together.  They send important documents, contracts and other things late; they don’t always follow up on their end of agreements.

But, we – as Christ-followers – are supposed to be like Jesus in all aspects of our lives, including our careers.  So, we need to be merciful to the people we interact with at work.  Now, of course there are times when discernment plays its part and your recognize that certain clients are simply not a good fit and no amount of second or third chances will make a difference in that regard.  But, even as  you cut a client loose, be merciful in how you do it.  Don’t do anything with a harsh attitude.  Be gracious and kind at all times.

Secondly, we need to be merciful toward employees and contractors.  We’ve all made mistakes and have had on-the-job troubles.  We need to recognize that while the people under our supervision or contract with may slip up now and again – just like we do – we need to be merciful when it inevitably happens.  Again, there is also a point of responsibility that everyone needs to own, and the time may come when you may have to let someone go. But, even then, we Christians need to work hard to go overboard in being merciful so that we demonstrate Christ’s mercy to those who we deal with in our business efforts.

Finally, we need to learn to show mercy to ourselves.  As entrepreneurs, we can be really hard on ourselves.  If we miss a deadline, or fail to accomplish a goal altogether, or miss out on an opportunity, we can really beat ourselves up over it.  Remember, God is the One who is sovereign.  He’s the One who is ultimately in charge of your business.  In fact, it is His business, when it comes down to it.  So, when these tough moments happen, entrust them to Him and know that He is full of mercy – so you should have mercy on yourself as well.

This doesn’t mean that you can or should be lazy.  It doesn’t’ mean that you should just take the day off when you should be working.  But we all do need to learn to give ourselves a break and allow room for failure.  That’s how we learn.  That’s how we grow.

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