Hey Pastor Park! I want to thank-you for the grace you show in your answers. I really appreciate your example of presenting your views in a gentle and humble manner. I also have a question, I struggle with reconciling God, as he is depicted in the Old Testament, with how he is depicted in the New Testament. Did He really order the deaths of men, women, and children belong to nations that opposed Israel? I know He is ultimately just, but I keep getting hung up on this.
Hey dear friend, I appreciate your very kind words.
This is a really tough question that has disturbed me when I was an atheist and disturbs me even more as a Christian. It will always be a point of tension that might not be entirely resolved until our time on earth is done. I’d like to graciously present several different views about the wars in the Old Testament, from most brutal to most reasonable, and then let you decide. I’ll tell you what I personally believe in the end.
Please note: I’m not soft about the Bible. It does say a few hard things that I’m going to question all the way to Heaven. Jesus said hard things too. I don’t want to accommodate Scripture to fit a Westernized, watered down, sugarcoated, therapeutic pick-me-up. But I also don’t want to capitulate to my own Easternized, patriarchal, wrathful, vengeful picture of God. I believe the Bible has way more nuance than that. I know we won’t all see eye to eye on this either, and that’s totally okay. I truly welcome disagreement and I want to know where I’m wrong.
So here are some views to consider.
Continue reading “Why Is God So Homicidal In The Old Testament?”
The Christian life can’t just be about running away from sin: but is ultimately about running to Him.
That means finding His mission, His purpose, and His heart for you. It means asking for His wisdom in how to discipline yourself, to be shaped by His truth, to be restructured in His image. It means bonding with other like-minded individuals to live out your God-given calling. It’s so fully experiencing the love of God that you are shaken down to your very core, melted and tenderized by His grace to never go back, but only pursue Him forward.
— J.S. from The Christianese Dating Culture
Here’s what I’ve learned about choosing the things of God and partaking in His mission.
I’ve noticed that after I disciple a young kid and see his eyes light up from the truth of the Bible, I can’t go back to how I was. It’s too good to give up. After I serve food at the homeless ministry, after I volunteer at a retreat, after I go on a mission trip, after I serve at an orphanage or a prison or the projects — the attraction of sin loses its grip on me.
Because the things of God are so much brighter and bigger and deeper than the things of this world. This is what Thomas Chalmers called the Expulsive Power of a New Affection.
Ever notice that after the gym, you’re too tired to fight anyone? Ever notice that after a healthy meal, you’re much less willing to eat a bag of Cheetos? And whether you “feel like” going to the gym or eating healthy, you choose it anyway: because not only is the alternative bad for you, but it makes the alternative less attractive.
Sometimes people wait to “feel right with God” to go serve Him. You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to be qualified or clean or deserving to serve. Your choices change your heart just as much as your heart changes your choices. What you do comes out of who you are, but who you are also comes out of what you do.
— J.S. from The Christianese Dating Culture
I often have these troubling moments when I totally don’t believe in God anymore, and I wonder what it would be like to live without Him.
I was an atheist for most of my life, so these thoughts are comfortable and familiar, like the blue plaid super-hero cape I wore in third grade. I go down a spiral of binge-reading atheism blogs and I can’t stop myself. I start to wonder if God even does anything because there’s so much horror in the world, or if He’s just a construct of a hopeful mind looking for momentary relief. It can take days to pull back from this, and doubts never really fade; you just live with them.
I remember the words of that father with the demon-possessed son, who told Jesus, “I do believe, but help my unbelief!” And Jesus healed him. He didn’t shut them down. He didn’t say, “You better believe all the way first.” I get to thinking there must be more than all this, and that God did break into this fractured world somehow and began a healing at some point in history for all of eternity, an invitation to a new story, a reversal of entropy. I get to thinking we’re not just spinning alone out here, and that this is all going somewhere, and I have this tiny mustard-seed-sized faith that Jesus tells me can move mountains. I think even if this isn’t true, I so badly want it to be, and maybe that’s okay too. I do believe, and he doesn’t shame me for my unbelief. For that, I can believe Him — and for a moment, the mountains get shaken.
Before you meet God, He was in a certain sense your enemy, and you were friends with sin, Satan, and the world.
What God did was: He set Himself as an enemy of sin, of Satan, of the world, even of death — and He was literally ripped apart by these things at the cross. God did all this so that He could be your friend.
Jesus removed every single obstacle between you and him so that you could be together, in the best relationship there is. Friends are willing to pay the cost for love: and greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
After you meet God, you are now at odds with the world, which is why the Christian life is so hard. But you have Jesus, and he calls you out into the world to help remove those obstacles too. He calls us to cross over the dividing line of the human heart, to change enemies into friends: just as you were changed.
In a way, the Christian is a matchmaker between Heaven and earth. When you’re friends with God, your mission is to hook people up with God.
Since the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened, then
Continue reading “Because It Happened”
The Christian knows that Jesus died on the cross in our place, beat up death, and gave us a great mission. But how does the Gospel fit into our everyday lives?
The very second you believe the Gospel truth, you have a brand new heart in Christ. This is now who you are because of what he’s done.
That’s the True Self — but it doesn’t always feel this way.
When Jesus made Peter the head disciple, Peter’s original name was Simon. The word Peter was a nickname which meant “rock.”
Jesus was telling him: Simon is dead. You are now a rock. You might not feel like it today, but this is who you are because of who I am and what I’m about to do. I’m inviting you into the True Story of Your Life — that you can’t do this yourself, and that’s why I’m going to the cross to do it for you.
Continue reading “Gospel Reminders: Heart Transplant”
If you’re down today, remember who you are.
In Christ, you are a child of God: saved, forgiven, and free.
You have a strong father in Heaven who absolutely loves you, and who actually likes you. It’s why Jesus came to be one of us.
He gets your struggle, he’s alongside you, he’s rooting for you, he will never stop.
We are the sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who is in control of everything.
We have a Savior who wrote himself into the story of the world to write the final victory on our lives: so nothing else gets the last word but him.
Look no further than the cross and the empty tomb.
You have — right now — a Spirit of courage, bravery, compassion, love, and truth.
Remember: you are His. You are secure forever.
You are called to carry the cross, deny yourself, kill your flesh, lose your life, and leave behind the world: but you are never alone in this. The one who calls you to follow him is the very one who empowers you to follow. Grace will cost you your pride, greed, anger, lust, sorrow, and selfishness — and in turn you get endless joy, eternal life, intimacy with our Creator, and reckless freedom to love. It feels like sacrifice because we are used to our way, but you give up what you never needed anyway. It remains the Best Deal in the Universe.
If you’re discouraged, remember your Great Story. We were made by God but gave Him the middle finger, so God in response sent His Son Jesus Christ who gave up paradise and dropped down into human history as a perfect, sinless, healing savior born of a virgin, absorbed the wrath you deserve for your sins on a dirty Roman cross, jumped out the grave like a boss, flew up to Heaven with a promise to come back with 100 million angels, and gave you His Spirit to make it in this crazy upside-down world. He loves you, He’s got a purpose for you, and He loves you in your sleep. Wake up in the morning and let that hit you like a freight train. You only need to believe.
I think we often want everything to be neatly organized and packaged. Life is messy, and things are messy. The Gospel is clear, but I think the Gospel lived out in the context of a broken world is going to be messy, and we have to understand that and give permission to languish and to swim and do ministry in that kind of messy space.
— Eugene Cho
… When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
— John 13:1
All kinds of motivational literature are good at telling you what’s good and bad. The church is great at beating the dead horse of consequences, drenching it in lighter fluid, and lighting it with napalm. We get it. Sin bad, God is good.
You might as well describe the water that the person is drowning in.
There are always real obstacles in the way of breaking free to a breakthrough. Like spiritual blocks that cut the momentum. What might not seem like a big deal to you might be a big deal to them. Because not everyone thinks like you. This is where it gets messy, messed up, and it’s not so black-and-white. Moving forward is not a straight line, and “sanctification” is less of a light switch than it is a journey.
God understands this and wants to break down each obstacle in the way, one at a time, until you can step forward unburdened by blind spots and dead weight. None of these obstacles make you a bad person, but just misinformed. Jesus didn’t come to make you “un-bad” anyway. He came to give you True Life.
Here are four obstacles to tackle to really break through to the other end of God’s vision. These things are not your fault, but you can choose not to wallow in them.
Continue reading “Four Obstacles To Break On The Way To A Breakthrough”
God’s decision to forgive Peter required the death of his Son; Peter’s decision to forgive those who had offended him would cost him little more than his pride. The same is true for us.
In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another. Forgiveness is the gift that ensures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment.
— Andy Stanley
I know this whole “Holy Spirit lives in you” can be weird, mysterious, New-Age-ish, and more difficult to fathom than O-Chem II.
But if you believe the Gospel — that Jesus the Son of God dropped down into human history as a perfect, sinless, healing savior born of a virgin, absorbed the wrath you deserve for your sins on a dirty Roman cross, jumped out the grave like Shark Week, and flew up to Heaven with a promise to come back with 100 million angels — then you have God’s Spirit living in you. That’s no small thing.
So what does He do? What does this change?
Well — everything.
Continue reading “Seven Things The Holy Spirit Does”
“God’s decision to forgive Peter required the death of his Son; Peter’s decision to forgive those who had offended him would cost him little more than his pride. The same is true for us.
In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another. Forgiveness is the gift that ensures my freedom from a prison of bitterness and resentment.”
— Andy Stanley
This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor.
… You know that in the end you are not really giving away anything at all. Instead you are gaining. Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way. … Why? Because you have found something worth losing everything else for.
This is the picture of Jesus in the gospel. He is something — someone — worth losing everything for. And if we walk away from the Jesus of the gospel, we walk away from eternal riches. The cost of nondiscipleship is profoundly greater for us than the cost of discipleship. For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing him.
— David Platt
God, you loved me right out of my addictions. You loved me out of my despair. You loved me out of my darkness, conceitedness, misery. You loved me right out of myself.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
— Galatians 2:20