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Making Sense Out of Suffering: Why Study the Book of Job

(Photo of the Lord speaking to Job in a whirlwind, courtesy of blueletterbible.org)
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold Job 23:10
It is an ancient yet ever-present problem: why is there pain and suffering in the world? Even more troubling, why do the righteous suffer and the unrighteous prosper? Theologians, philosophers, yes, everyday people have pondered this terrible reality.
All of us go through some degree of suffering. Some have a ‘high pain’ tolerance and others don’t. But for most people in the western world, no matter how intense the heat of suffering may be, always remember that in other parts of the world, they suffer in a manner we would know nothing about. Perspective is aways important.
More than one book of the Bible deals with the topic of suffering. The New Testament epistle of I Peter focuses on it. Yet no part of the Bible majors on this topic to the extent that the Book of Job does. In a sense, this 42 chapter Bible …
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Paul’s Secret to Changing the World - Part 05

… I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus Philippians 3:12ff
Paul the apostle was one of the most influential, impact-making, legacy-leaving people in all human history. His amazing work is still paying rich dividends until today. How did he do it?
So far, we have learned:
Principle One: Grace brings world-change;
Principle Two: Righteousness brings world-change - when you change into the righteous image of Christ, you are then empowered to be an agent of change to the world.
Principle Three: Knowing Christ. Christ is such a powerful, singular figure that knowing Him brings empowerment in return.
Principle Four: Taking hold of Christ.
Let’s review the last step - which is the most important. Philippians 3 tells us the secret: he let go of ‘everything’ in his life - good, bad, and ugly - so he would be ‘hands free’ to take hold of Christ and His purposes for Paul’s life. That’s what the above verse is about. The principle of ‘apprehending…

Scandal in Hollywood: Where’s There Smoke …

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetopsLuke 12:2-3
It may help sell newspaper but it is news that can make you sick to your stomach. A number of women, up to 60 thus far, have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, age 65, of sexual harassment, assault, even rape. Weinstein was fired from his own company, the Weinstein Company, and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Weinstein’s long, lucrative career is in tatters, even though he denies having ‘non-consensual’ sex.
Then award-winning actor Kevin Spacey has also been accused of harassment - mostly of men. His first accuser is actor Anthony Rapp of sexual advances in the 1980s when he was only 14 years old. Spacey says he does not remember the incident, offered an apology, and…

Culture War Part 02: What Do The Two Sides Believe?

The great cultural civil war, with its polarisation of society groups and poisoning of the public square, continues. As we learned last month, this ‘war’ is nothing new - it is at least half a century old. Yet, the flare-ups that we witnessed during and after the 2016 US presidential campaign, shows us the need to understand what’s going on. After all, when you understand a problem, you are halfway towards a solution (Proverbs 4:7).
Remember, this is similar to the ‘Cold War,’ where there is not so much an exchange of bullets and weapons fire. What we have instead is an acrimonious public discourse, an abundance of legislation and regulations, the tyranny of political correctness, and a divided public.
The two sides of the culture-war are:
1.On the Left: Secular Progressives (often called ‘Liberals,’ but best to stick to SP), influenced by cultural Marxism and old-fashioned socialism;
2.On the Right: Traditional Values Conservatives;
Ultimately, this war is about western civilisation - the…

What Should We Think About America’s Mass Shootings?

It was heart-breaking news: on Sunday 5 November 2017, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was hit with a mass shooting. Devin Kelley, age 26, with a history of violence and mental health issues, stormed into the church. Clad in black, carrying a military-style rifle, and wearing a ballistic vest on his chest, Kelley fired at the congregation indiscriminately and at close range. By the time he was done, 26 people were dead, with ages ranging from 5 to 72. Among the dead was the 14 year old daughter of the pastor. Kelley later committed suicide after being attacked by a gun owner.
It is the grimmest of role calls. Kelley’s shooting spree comes on the heals of the Las Vegas attack on 1 October 2017, where 64 year old Stephen Paddock killed 64 people during a concert. Omar Mateen, age 29, murdered 49 people in a gay night club in Orlando, Florida on 12 June 2016. There was the attack on Virginia Tech by a Korean migrant named Cho Seung Hui, age 23, on 16 April 2007; Cho…

M’judarra (Lentil & Rice Casserole)

This is a vegetarian main meal delight. Popular in Egypt and the Middle East, m’judarra is a simple lentil and rice with spice dish. Topped with golden-fried onions and plain yoghurt, it is a taste sensation.

1 ½ cups brown lentils, washed and drained. 1 ½ t. salt 5 cups water 2 medium-sized onions, cut in half and finely sliced (or make more if you like golden brown onions) 150 ml light olive oil 1 cup or less (1/2 cup) long-grain rice, washed and drained. Spices: Choose one. Cinnamon or curry powder or cumin to taste.
Place lentils in a saucepan with salt and 3 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add a further cup of water and boil for approximately 15 minutes.
While lentils are cooking, fry onion in oil until dark brown or golden (be sure not to burn). Set aside a generous part of the onions and add the reminder, together with its oil, to the boiling water. Add rice and stir. Add remaining water, add one of the three spices listed above to taste (don’t go overboard), cover and cook over …

For Such A Time As This: Why Study the Book of Esther

The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. 17And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them Esther 8:16-17
It has all the ingredients of a block-buster movie, but this is no Hollywood creation. The Book of Esther tells the very real story in the 5th Century BC of an insidious plot to destroy the Jewish people. Ironically, this scheme was not hatched by the overbearing Egyptians, war-like Assyrians, or despotic Babylonians - it happened under the enlightened, cultured, tolerant Persian empire. Of all Israel’s occupiers, the Persians should have been the least likely empire to hatch such a plot - but, as the book tells us, not only was this plot of Jewish destruction conceived, but it almost succeeded. The reason it ultimately failed is because of the ‘God-factor.’ The Lord promise…