Yet Will I Trust Him, Part 1: A Man Called Job (Job 1:1-12)

The world doesn’t seem to be what it ought to be. It is broken as well as beautiful, and that hurts. Has your life ever been affected by crime, poverty, violence, joblessness, or homelessness? What about disease, disabilities, deformities, or discrimination? How about a weather event, such as an earthquake, tornado, flood, or hurricane? Has your family ever been jolted by a fire, a fatal accident, a destructive riot, or a school shooting?

The question is always the same. After the initial shock and horror subsides, after the news crews go home, after others have gotten on with their lives, we’re always left with the same question: “Where was God in the midst of my suffering? And why did he let it happen in the first place?”

Christian professor Peter Kreeft has said, “More people have abandoned their faith because of the problem of evil than for any other reason. It is certainly the greatest test of faith, the greatest temptation to unbelief.” It is for this reason Christian author Philip Yancey calls the problem of evil “theological kryptonite.”

Can the ancient Hebrew book of Job provide any insight into the universal problem of pain? It is often said that the theme of Job is the age-old question, “Why does a loving God permit the righteous to suffer?” But if that is the theme of the book, the question is never fully answered. Perhaps the theme of the book is better stated, “How do the righteous suffer?” The book of Job can show us how to endure until the world is finally what it ought to be—beautiful and not broken—when God in Christ makes all things new.

At issue in this first message of the series is the question, “Shall a person love God because he’s God, and enjoy the blessings received from his hand?” Or “Shall a person love God only because of the blessings he or she might receive from his hand?” Satan’s implied accusation is, “God, you’ve stooped to bribery. You give good gifts to your people to make them love you. Take away the gifts, there will be no more love.” But in Round 1 of his suffering, Job proves the accuser wrong, so the score right off the bat is God—1, Satan—0. Moreover, we come discover that suffering is not meaningless if we come to know God better in the end. Job certainly did, and so can we.

Sermon Resources:

Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.

Today’s Chuckle | 09.17.2022

A Brief Update

It’s nice to be back in the saddle after another Th.D. residency this past week. The schedule was awfully thick, but it was a delight to be with the students on campus again. Several of us went to Sight & Sound to see David after the last class, and we were blown away by the production. Do yourself a favor and go see it if you possibly can. No spoilers here, but I guarantee you will feel “hugged by heaven” during the finale. Most of us in the audience just sat there in silence for a while after the curtain came down. Good art will do that for you!

On top of all that, I had a funeral and graveside service to do this week. The dearly departed was a believer, and it was honor to highlight his Christian faith during the service. Additionally, I celebrated my daughter’s last day as one of her grandmother’s caregivers. Stage 7 Alzheimer’s is right around the corner, and Lorena is needing a new kind of specialized care, so Bethany is pursuing a new opportunity that matches her skill set, passion, and experience. We had a lovely lunch date together and a mini-shopping spree as a thank you for all her hard work this past year. Andrew has also been helping out as needed, and he is much appreciated, too.

Our Friday night movie binge resumed. Having completed Stranger Things season 4, which is a masterclass in storytelling, we went back in time to watch The Fugitive (1993), starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, pursues the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt led by a seasoned U.S. marshal. It’s quite good, and we’ll probably watch the follow-on production, U.S. Marshals (1999), next week before settling on a longer binge-worthy series.

Finally, adorable pics and clips of our little “Bubby” (Samuel) are stacking up, so I may need to pull some of those together soon and post an update. After all, that’s why most people really come to TNL once in a while, right? 🙂

‘The queen is dead. Long live the king.’

Queen Elizabeth II
April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022
Prayers for a prominent and beloved family. Memories of our time in London and Oxford are flooding back.
A double rainbow appears over Buckingham Palace as crowd gathers to mourn the queen.
The queen served as the United Kingdom’s monarch since 1952, a 70-year reign unsurpassed by any other.
As a woman of deep Christian faith, Elizabeth now has the supreme honor of casting her crown at the feet of the King of Kings, even as she reunites with those who have gone before her in grace.

Case Dismissed (Zechariah 3:1-10)

“If life had a second edition,” wrote John Clair, “I would correct the proofs.” But as Steve Miller used to sing, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future.” No part of our lives can be un-lived or re-lived. That’s why guilt can be such debilitating factor in many people’s lives. Past failures can feel like a ball and chain around the soul. Is there a solution for such a spiritual bondage? There is indeed, and we get a glimpse of it in Zechariah 3.

God gave the prophet Zechariah a message for the Jews who had returned from exile, many of whom were trying to get back on track with the Lord. They, too, had a past that was filled with shame. In picture form, God gives them his promised solution for sin and the guilt that usually comes with it. It’s the picture of Joshua, a high priest, who has dirty clothes and therefore is disqualified from ministering in the temple. God’s solution is to rebuke Joshua’s accuser in court and give the priest a new set of garments: “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you” (Zechariah 3:4). Case dismissed!

But how can God unilaterally dismiss a case without sufficient grounds? Wouldn’t he be violating a sense of due process in his own courtroom? Wouldn’t he be violating the canons of earthly ethics and eternal justice? Wouldn’t he be appealing to a legal fiction to simply declare that Joshua is now both sin-free and guilt-free? No, not in this case, for God speaks of that which is “symbolic of things to come” (Zechariah 3:8)—a “servant,” a “branch,” and a “stone,” all terms that refer to the coming messiah.

God says, “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (Zechariah 3:9), and he did—on Good Friday. The case against God’s people is dismissed because God in Christ has paid their debt on the cross. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Apostle John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). Indeed, when God is your advocate, all charges against you will be dropped.

No part of our lives can be unlived or re-lived, but we can still have a new life in Christ by faith. It’s a life in which not only are the charges against us dropped, but we are also sentenced to eternal life in the unrelenting love of God. That’s why we call it the “gospel,” the good news of Jesus Christ.

Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.

From Cackling to Squealing

Last week I wrote about our Cackling Little Bubby and shared a few clips of Samuel putting us in stitches. Here’s a clip of his newfound capacity for squealing. It reminded me of an article in the UK Independent several years ago in which scientists claimed that dolphins and whales squeal with delight “like children” when they are having fun. Samuel, I think, can laugh with the best of them.

And a couple more, just for fun. 🙂

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

Samuel has now spent the same amount of time ex utero as he has in utero. Happy 9-month-iversary, dear one! But those nine months have just been chronos time. Every moment we’ve spent together with our little Bubby has been kairos time. (Yes, there’s a beautiful difference between those two Greek words for time.)

What a joy and delight SamJam has been to us since we first laid eyes on him and held him in our arms! (And, yes, his list of nicknames just keeps growing, as does he! Right, Boo?) Here are a few snaps from the recent milestone.

Unrelatedly, our Friday movie night venture is about halfway through season 4 of Stranger Things. Drew and I agree that a marvelous storyline is unfolding, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this arc comes to resolution. I suppose, then, that now is as good a time as any to recommend Michael Heiser’s The World Turned Upside Down: Finding the Gospel in Stranger Things.

ISBN-13: ‎978-1683593225

Dr. Heiser is a top-tier Old Testament scholar who’s been cited a few times already in my second dissertation. I have about eight or nine of his books and listen to his two main podcasts regularly. In addition to specializing in ancient Near Eastern cultures, he devotes a lot of his time to all things supernatural. For him, the stranger the better! But do pray for Dr. Heiser, as he is fighting a nasty battle with pancreatic cancer. So far so good, thank the Lord.

Be blessed and have a great holiday weekend!