ExPCA

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About ExPCA

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  1. Blog posts from a pastor

    Someone asked me on Sunday whether devastating hurricanes are the judgment of God. I pastor a small congregation in Tampa, Florida and write this even while watching forecasts of category 5 Irma barreling down on our state. This storm of course is following close upon the terrible devastation of Harvey on the city of Houston and surrounding areas. Shelves in Tampa are bare of basic supplies and people are nervous. I just filled 10 sandbags to put around our doors if needed. So is this God’s judgment? Jesus addresses this very question in Luke 13:1-5 1There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Apparently Pilate the governor of the region had killed some Galilean people while they had come up for sacrifice, likely for unknown political reasons. Additionally, there was a calamity involving the collapse of a tower, killing eighteen people. Jesus perceived the thinking behind the question brought to him. Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners…. do you think that they were worse offenders…? Here is the logic of many people: Step 1: Certain people encounter disaster. Step 2: Disaster is ultimately from God. Step 3: They must have been judged for their sins. Step 4: They must be really evil. This is common thinking, isn’t it? Haven’t you heard people ask if Katrina hit because New Orleans because it was more evil than other cities? Don’t people draw such conclusions about various terrible events in the world? These are common questions. What does Jesus say? Notice first that Jesus does not refute “step 2” - the idea that such disaster is ultimately from God Some respond by saying that God had nothing to do with such things. After all, God is good and loving. How could he do something like this? But this thinking must be rejected as an option. Evil and sorrow is in the world because of mankind’s sin, but Scripture is very clear that in an ultimate sense, God is still in control even of such things. Here are just a few verses: Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? (Amos 3:6) Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exodus 4:11) Even when the direct cause is not nature or disease, but evil people, still God claims ultimate control: 27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:27-28) To affirm these things is to approach the incomprehensibility of the Almighty God, but he is indeed the Almighty. To say that any event is outside of the scope of his power and ultimate design robs him of his eternal power and divine nature. So Jesus does not deny the ultimate sovereignty of God. Jesus does not directly refute step 3 either - the idea that such events are judgment. God is doing many things in disaster and calamity. Judgment is certainly one of his purposes. Think of the greedy rich man that Jesus spoke of. But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' (Luke 12:20) That man died in the night, and whether it was sickness, murder, accident, etc., it was the judgment of God falling upon him. We must also recognize however, that for those in Christ, calamity is most certainly not judgment. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) If a Christian dies in a hurricane, it is only gain. If a Christian loses all their possessions, it is absolutely terrible, and yet we trust God’s word that God is working for his or her good. God uses all things in the life of the Christian for their ultimate and eternal good, though we may not understand how. God is carrying out many purposes that we cannot presently see through various disasters. But yes, judgment is one of those purposes. But where Jesus sets us straight is particularly step 4 - the idea that those who suffer must be more evil. 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. …5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Jesus understands the self-righteousness of the human heart. How easily we look at those suffering the horrors of war in Syria or Iraq and conclude that it must be their fault and we are morally superior. How easily we conclude that the starvation that so many North Koreans or Yemenis face is somehow an indicator of their greater sins. How easily we elevate ourselves. Have you ever had the thought that you enjoy the good life because you are a good person? Wrong! Notice the key word that Jesus uses: “likewise.” “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." He compares the fate of these various people to what “you all” will experience - “perishing.” In other words, every single person should look at disasters and see a picture of judgment. But you should not so much think about others. And you should certainly not elevate yourself above others. You should think about the judgment you yourself will face when you stand before God. And therefore you should repent. Disasters in this present time do not follow a strict plan of “good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.” Rather, God’s dealings are veiled in mystery until the great day of judgment, where every thought, word, and deed will be judged with holy and perfect justice. Conclusion: So are these hurricanes God’s judgment? Yes, in some limited sense, along with many other purposes of God. But the take away for all people is see in these things a picture of the awesome power and judgment of God. C.S. Lewis called pain, “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Look at suffering, and recognize that yes, God will judge the world. God will judge you. And you will perish, unless you repent. God has provided a way of salvation. The Son of God suffered the full weight of God’s judgment upon the cross. Jesus Christ perished. He died so that we might live. He went to the cross as a substitute for sinners. All who will repent, turning from sin and trusting Jesus Christ, will be saved. This is the grace of God.
  2. The outer bands of Irma are presently passing over Tampa, intensifying by the hour. I write from a home in Alabama, to which my family has evacuated. It was the thought of category 3 or even category 4 winds raging over my home which compelled me to pack up at 2:30 AM on Friday morning, load my wife and two toddlers in the car, and drive for twelve hours. As friends who stayed behind give me updates on the conditions, there is one core issue that that we all are thinking about: the immense power of this storm. The outer bands are just the beginning. For all who find themselves awed and perhaps trembling by the raging of this power, let me call you to consider God’s word. There are in fact other “outer bands” of tremendous importance. Job is a man known for his intense suffering, but in Job 26, he teaches us this: Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14) Job is speaking about what is called the omnipotence of God. Or in other words, he is describing the very edges, fringes, or “outer bands” of the Almighty. Job says that these outer bands include the following: The Creation of the world: 7He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. His providential ruling over all meteorology: 8He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. His majestic design of the waters and light: 10He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. His awesome rebuke of evil: 11The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke. His dominance over chaos and evil: 12By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. `13By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Think for a moment about this: the creation of the cosmos....just the fringe of God’s power; the unleashing of the cyclonic power of Irma....barely the edge his designs; the casting down of Satan himself and the powers of darkness from heaven....only the tip of the finger of God. In other words, take the most vast physical, spiritual, and providential happenings of the heavens and earth....and you have just barely touched on the outer bands of the omnipotence of God. You cannot discuss the omnipotence of God (his attribute of being all-powerful) without realizing that he is also incomprehensible. Verse 14 - But the thunder of his power who can understand? We can say that He is the Almighty, but what does that mean? All my years of study and thought cannot give me a full grasp. All of eternity itself will not be long enough to scale such heights. For some reading these words, I wonder if you have ever thought about these things. Isn’t it odd that so many have not? After all, Job tells us that the dead think about this continually. 5The dead tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. 6Sheol [the grave] is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering. And yet, we seem so dull to it. Further, Moses says this: Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? (Psalm 90:11) Indeed, who does think about this? Who sets their mind on the power of God, and especially on the power of his wrath and anger? If you have never done so, I plead with you to do so now. God send storms like Irma so that you would be awakened (Isaiah 26:9). Do not miss the opportunity. There is an Almighty God and you do have an eternal soul and you are a sinner and there is a great conflagration to come: the undoing of the created order in fire when God judges all human beings and angels. His omnipotence will be expressed in the perfect justice of the Judge of all the earth. And who can stand in that day? Those who do not consider such things are far more foolish than those who remained on the beaches of South Florida in vain hope of being spared the fury of Irma’s power. Do not ignore the outer bands. For those who are willing to consider the truth of God and humble their own souls in acknowledgment of sin, there is something more awesome and wonderful yet to be said. It can be seen in the midst of a storm on Sea of Galilee some two thousand years ago, where frightened sailors woke up their sleeping teacher asleep on the boat: And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4:39-41) Who indeed is this? It is Jesus Christ, who, as Job said, “By his power he stilled the sea.” The Almighty God became man. The infinite and eternal one took upon himself the finite and temporal nature. He did so because he is not only omnipotent in his judgments, but he is omnipotent in his love. This is a mystery no mind can grasp. God became man and died for sinners. On the cross, Jesus took the wrath of divine justice in the place of all who will trust in him. And here, I think we must say we pass beyond the outer bands into something far more central. We come to a sort of “eye” in the storm. By the grace of the Lord Jesus and his gospel, we find that at the center is the joy of those who are at peace with God. We find the pleasures of knowing the one whose love surpasses all knowledge. We come into a true relationship with the Incomprehensible God, who comes to us as a Father to a child. And we can join with confidence in those words of Job, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27) Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I can say to all who trust in him and repent of their sins: do not fear Irma. (Prudence and wisdom, yes, but fear…no). Fear God. The fear of God quiets all other fears. And like Job, do not merely fear him, but let your heart faint for him. Through Jesus, you have the unspeakable joy of knowing him. And one day, you like Job will indeed see him face to face.
  3. Pumping Ass

    Pump on!
  4. Sh** christians have said to you

    Yes. Leaving the fundamentalists is an awakening. Leaving their biblical literalism and exegesis in order to start actually living life. But they would say I'm outside of christ now that I left them. They would say I am not sitting under god's word and that I am out of his good graces. All bullshit... once you meet arrogant, psycho fundamentalists and actually see how they live and speak it's all just a seriously twisted joke. No thanks!
  5. Afterlife and the brain

    Scary realization. To ask a question that all of us are thinking, "but what will become of the ego?"
  6. Jesus Did It!

    Very creative. I thought you were going back to christianity for a second there. Whew. christianity really is a charade. In my experiences both the nondenominational-hyper emotional crowd and the orthodox-fundamentalist-biblical literalist crowd are just fucking nuts. There's really no other way to put it. And I've tried sincerely many many times to live the way they do.
  7. Pumping Ass

    No Reconciliation without rectumciliation!
  8. Sh** christians have said to you

    Because all feelings, emotions, actions, and words need to be subjugated into biblical verses and/or pseudo-christianity systems in order to lower the populous' blood pressure and schizoid tendencies about the impending doom of death and decay. Because the bible does not speak about everything, but speaks about everything indirectly. Right? Fuck that.
  9. Pumping Ass

    You know what? I think that is the definition of ass pumping I was looking for. #ConfirmationBias #AdHominem #Rectify
  10. @Stranger, Have you ever given yourself a "stranger?" It's when you sit on your hand until it goes numb and then masturbate with that hand. Please advise. Yours, EP
  11. Ha!!

    What an asshole! I would play along and email back: "Reverend, We have prayerfully decided that this year we will be giving exclusively prayerfully and not financially. Warmly, Nutrichuckles"
  12. A hypothesis

    Bibler, Welcome! I'm curious, what is your purpose for interacting on this site? Best regards, EP