Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: bad things happen

Is God a good boss or a bad boss?

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of good bosses throughout my career.  I’ve had my share of lousy ones, too; but looking back, my list of bosses is full of people who used their authority well.

So, what makes a “good boss”?  Someone who is involved, but not overbearing.  Someone who puts in at least as much effort and care into their position as they expect me to put into mine.  Someone who takes an interest in developing their employees.  And while this last item may not be at the top of everyone’s mind, we want a boss that, in fairness, holds their people accountable for their responsibilities and actions.

For a “good boss”, we work in ways that we never consider when we have a “bad boss”.  For a “good boss”, we aren’t afraid to bring up both the problem and our suggested solution.  We put in the extra time at work because we know our manager is putting in the time as well.  We seek out her opinion and want to hear how she will grow us.  We put our best efforts in, because we know that he is appreciative and will reward our efforts.  We wouldn’t consider giving this kind of effort if we are managed by a “bad boss”.  We may be forced or coerced into doing this occasionally, but volunteering it?  Not a chance.

But how does this ideal compare with how our modern culture portrays – or even we sometimes think – about God?  Have you ever been asked these questions?  Perhaps you’ve wondered them, too:

·       If God really cared, why do bad things happen?
·       Is God even paying attention?
·       Why is God letting people get away with their selfishness and evil actions?

These are hard, real questions.  And it’s ok to ask them…no need to watch out for lightning strikes.

However, I want us to look at the sentiment behind these questions – do we think God is a “bad boss”?  Are our assumptions about God getting in the way of how we see Him? 

·       Do you think God is at work in the world?
·       Do you think God is interested in how you learn and grow?
·       Do you think God holds people accountable?

Did you answer yes or no?  What are you basing your answer on?
Did you answer I’m not sure?  Then let me give you a sampling of verses to consider:

When Jesus was asked why He had the authority to heal people on the Sabbath, He gave this response:

John 5:17
Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.”

When discussing how He cares for His people, Jesus said:

John 10:10
I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

When writing to believers, Paul had this stern warning for them:

2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

How do these few verses affect the way you perceive God?  If you’re still unsure, that’s ok…but don’t stay there.  Pursue God.  Search the Scriptures.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Because when we see God as He truly is – a “good boss” – then our attitude, actions, and aim in life changes greatly.  But if we believe that God is absent and uncaring, we will miss out on the fullness of life He has to offer – the kind that only a “good boss” can give.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Nice-sounding ideas about God

We don’t like the feeling of “not knowing”.  We try to figure out a story’s plot and guess who the villain is long before it is revealed.  Riddles bother us if we don’t get them right away.  Not satisfied with the information we’re given, we often look deeper, expecting to find people’s hidden agenda or motivations.

We are bothered the most when we don’t understand our current circumstances – when bad things happen to (seemingly) good people, when natural disasters ravage the land, or when nothing in life goes as we expect.  The desire to find meaning and understanding within the difficulties of life can make a person desperate enough that they listen to almost anyone who claims to have an answer or explanation.

This uneasiness is often preyed upon by other philosophies and religions.  They will claim that someone must go through their secret ritual initiation before they are accepted.  They claim that God is mysteriously distant or uninterested, unless we make ourselves good enough and devoted enough to get his attention.  Preying upon people’s feelings of inadequacy, they claim that only a select few – only those with secret knowledge – could understand the mysteries of God.

While their words may sound like help…they will actually take you hostage.

Paul had the same concern for the believers in Colossae.  He did not want their relationship with Christ to be usurped by manipulative teachers.  As you read Paul’s warning against these false teachers, look for how the Colossian believers are to protect themselves:

Colossians 2:2-4
I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding, and have the knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ.  In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.  I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments.

A little later, Paul warns them again:

Colossians 2:8-10
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.  For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

There are tons of nice-sounding ideas about God that are floating around the world.  Since most people understand that there is a spiritual aspect to life, many of these nice-sounding ideas pop up in our day-to-day conversations. 

How do we combat them all?  We can’t realistically study each one and find “the perfect rebuttal” to every philosophy and theory that comes along.  Instead, Paul directs believers to focus all of their attention back to one person – Christ.  In Jesus, we will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

Not in the next Christian-living best-selling novel.
Not in the next formula for how to make God answer your prayers.
Not in the next preacher who claims to heal everyone who has “enough faith”.

Remember that Satan quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus.  Therefore, just being able to quote Scripture isn’t enough to protect us from false teachers.  Instead, we need to heed Paul’s advice and ensure that our wisdom, our knowledge, and our philosophy of life are based on Christ.

That is the check we need to use.  When presented with a nice-sounding concept about God, take an objective look at it, and ask:

Does this idea match up with who Jesus truly is…or is this idea based on a person’s tradition or maybe even their own wishful thinking?

Keep Pressing,
Ken 

Blindsided

Blindsided.
Knocked down.
Run over.
Left for dead.

Life does that sometimes.  Just completely out of the blue, you get that phone call.  A relative in good health suddenly dies.  A friend’s child is in an accident.  Layoffs.  Divorce.  Cancer.  Any number of things can take us out at the knees without any warning.

And we’re quickly reminded of how fragile and small we really are.

In Psalm 119:25-32, the author use two descriptive phrases to relate how he feels after life has knocked him down.  First he says, my life is down in the dust.  Other translations render his words as my soul clings to the dust or I collapse in the dirt.  He feels so low that he can only relate to the trampled dirt on the ground.  Secondly he says, I am weary from grief.  Other translations relay the author’s meaning by stating my soul melts from heaviness and my soul weeps because of grief.  We can relate to the psalmist because we’ve all had times when our hearts are so heavy that even our souls are shedding tears.

Our typical reactions to getting knocked down by life is to ask God “Why me?” or, if we’re feeling mature, we’ll ask “God, what are You trying to teach me in this?”  However, the psalmist has neither of those responses.

As you read this section of Psalm 119, look for where the psalmist turns to when life has brought him down low:

Psalm 119:25-32
My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word.
I told You about my life, and You listened to me; teach me Your statutes.
Help me understand the meaning of Your precepts so that I can meditate on Your wonders.
I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word.
Keep me from the way of deceit, and graciously give me Your instruction.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your decrees; Lord, do not put me to shame.
I pursue the way of Your commands, for You broaden my understanding.

When life has him down in the dust to the point where he is weary from grief, the psalmist looks for life and strength though Your word.  He’s not looking for an explanation or a life-lesson, rather he is looking for God himself, as revealed in Scripture.

It is noteworthy that when he asks God to help me understand, he’s not looking for the meaning of what knocked him down to the ground…instead he’s asking God to explain the meaning of Your precepts.  Again, he’s not focused on how he got there or why he got there…he’s focusing on meeting God in the midst of it all.

When life has knocked him down, the psalmist implicitly trusts God with all aspects of the situation.  And he seeks God through the Scriptures to reinforce his faith.

So should we.

Keep Pressing,
Ken