The Justice and Grace of God

Have you seen this video?

My initial reaction was to give thanks to God that he isn't a Father like that. The only problem is that I watched this video the same day that I was reading Leviticus 10:1-3:

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

That's not a safe God. God makes Tommy Jordan, the father in the video, look a little laid back.

In his book Hell Is Real (But I Hate to Admit It), Brian Jones writes:

Contrary to what you might have heard when you crossed the line of faith, you weren't saved from a mediocre version of your life the day you came to Christ. You weren't baptized to escape a life of boredom. You weren't reconciled with the Creator so you could live life with meaning and purpose, free from a flabby waistline and dingy yellow teeth. Instead, Jesus rescued you from falling into the hands of Someone larger than your mind can conceive, stronger than the combined strength of a trillion nuclear explosions; a holy God destined to unleash the complete, unrestrained force of His wrath on you for offending His holy nature. That's what you were saved from.

Or, as Timothy J. Stoner writes in The God Who Smokes, God "is as hypnotically compelling as a surging forest fire and ten times as dangerous. He is out of control – ours, not his."

Right from the beginning, God reveals himself as a God who is both gracious and just. Any understanding of God that emphasizes only grace or only justice is deficient.

God is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin."

But God "will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:6-7).

Tim Keller says, "It is only because of the doctrine of judgment and hell that Jesus' proclamation of grace and love are so brilliant and astounding."

A video of a father putting bullets into his daughter's laptop has made me grateful again for God's justice and grace, and amazed again that I didn't get what I really deserved.

Beloit College Mindset List

This year's Beloit College Mindset List has just been released:

This year’s entering college class of 2015 was born just as the Internet took everyone onto the information highway and as Amazon began its relentless flow of books and everything else into their lives. Members of this year’s freshman class, most of them born in 1993, are the first generation to grow up taking the word “online” for granted and for whom crossing the digital divide has redefined research, original sources and access to information, changing the central experiences and methods in their lives. They have come of age as women assumed command of U.S. Navy ships, altar girls served routinely at Catholic Mass, and when everything from parents analyzing childhood maladies to their breaking up with boyfriends and girlfriends, sometimes quite publicly, have been accomplished on the Internet.


Herein Lies Our Challenge

From the Pew Forum:

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.


Sarah Cunningham: A Christian Response

Sarah Cunningham, author of Picking Dandelions, has this to say about the Ground Zero mosque controversy:

I’ve been encouraging Americans, particularly people of faith, to make a purposeful attempt to pump love and grace into our culture rather than to add to volatile or antagonistic attitudes that could fuel further violence as it escalates. Does this mean I am abandoning my spiritual or moral positions in favor of relativism? Absolutely not. I do not pretend that I see the Muslim faith and Christian faith as compatible and I do not rescind that I believe the best hope for healing in our communities is found solely in the way of Christ. Political correctness aside, I am not ashamed to say this.


She also has an article at Relevant that just came out today that's worth looking at.

If you haven't read Sarah's book, it looks like Zondervan is going to be giving away full, electronic version of Picking Dandelions next week. The book recounts Sarah's experience at Ground Zero. Check back next week for more information.

Goats Rescued

From The Canadian Press:

HELENA, Mont. — Two young goats that wandered onto the thin ledge of a railroad bridge and spent two days high above a highway were hungry but safe when they were plucked to safety with a towering crane...

Church said it wasn't clear how the nimble-footed animals got into the predicament, but she speculated they wandered onto the ledge at night then froze after the sun rose and they discovered where they were.

There's a sermon illustration in there somewhere.