Saturday, April 3, 2021

Is God unjust?

There are some kingdoms of this world that seem to be more blessed by God than others. How can that be? Is God unjust? I think we find the answer when we address a basic misunderstanding in our view of history. Because we all grew up learning that the different peoples developed independently from one another, created their own culture and religion and that now, for the first time ever, missionaries would tell the people of a foreign God, whom they never heard of before. But that is not the story of mankind. Truth is that all peoples trace back to Noah’s three sons and their wives. After the flood, Noah lived another 350 years, and we can be sure he told the people around him everything he had experienced and everything he knew about God. Abraham was 58 years old when Noah died, so there is a good chance that these two actually met! While Abraham’s family had preserved the heritage and feared the one true God, others moved away further and further – both geographically and spiritually. Eventually, only bits and pieces of the true story remained and new ‘gods’ were created. Wherever truth got lost, forgotten or outright rejected, the glory and the blessing of God departed; and with every new god invented or called upon, the kingdom of darkness expanded. In some places, you can feel a much stronger presence of evil than in others, or, to say it positively, you can feel the presence of God in some places more than in others. But God lets it rain on the just and the unjust.


[1]  Noah’s son Shem lived another 152 years; by then, Abraham had already died, his son Isaac was 110 years old and Jacob 50! See Appendix 4 in my book "Christianity, Politics and the Sovereignty of God" (This article is an exert from Chapter 5.1 "Kingdom Geography").



Friday, December 11, 2020

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Be assured: The LORD is God!

 

I think we are about to see that God does not need judges, Supreme Courts and presidents to "save Christianity". He is not only a god, like Gideon's father may have hoped Baal to be, but the LORD is God and he can defend himself when someone tries to break down his altar!
God is not impressed with laws and locations of diplomatic missions. Faith, hope and love are the things that move him, and they mark those whom he has moved. Yes, it will become more uncomfortable to be a Christian even in the U.S., as in other Western, nominally Christian nations. But when opposition increases, it will seperate the ones who truly want to serve the King from all of those who just want to have their best lives now. Are we ready to love like Christ did? He called Judas his friend unto the last minute, even though he knew that he would betray him, When Christ returns, will he find such a love in his church? Will he find it in you and me? Rather than shouting alloud on the street corners (a.k.a. "social media"), we should repent in sack and ashes and ask for his fire to re-ignite his love in our hearts. Let us all use this unusual, once-in-a-lifetime Christmas season to beseech him for that!



Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Is this what we prayed for?

Two months ago it was far away in China. One month ago it was a little bit closer, in Italy. Now it´s all over Europe, the U.S. and all around the globe. Even India with its staggering 1.3 billion people is in shut-down mode with only the most essential functions still operating: Covid-19 has invaded the planet. A tiny little virus has turned the entire world upside down!


So, what´s going on? Is this some evil plan by demonic forces? Is it a conspiracy of the pharma industry? Was the virus really manufactured by scientists as a biological weapon? Is it God´s judgment? Are we in the end-times? Or is it just a natural phenomenon that happened randomly?


As Christians, we can be assured: God is in control! At the end of the day, it doesn´t matter where the virus came from or who made what mistake that might have caused more damage than necessary. The better question is, like it should be in every disaster, how we as Christians should respond to the crisis. I think our response should be threefold: Worship, Work, Witness. Yes, "www" - we can even use the world-wide-web to do it! Let me say a few words to each of these three responses.

  1. WORSHIP: Remarkably, some things that seemed to be so important to many of us, are now shut down (football stadiums, concert halls, temples, even churches...). I believe God is calling us back to worship Him, independent from whether he gives or takes. We sang it in songs, didn´t we? God deserves our worship in the good days when we have an abundance of everything (health, wealth, family, job, etc.) just as much as in the difficult times when things are rough, we are getting old or loved ones die. We might not understand. We can grieve. We can and should fight, pray and fast for victory, recovery, and safety. But it would be the greatest if, in everything, we could say with Job: "Though he slay me, yet I will trust in (= worship) him!" Nothing can separate us from His love, therefore let nothing keep us from praising Him!
  2. WORK: Many of the frontline workers in hospitals and nursing homes are dedicated Christians, who, together with believers of other religions as well as atheists, are tirelessly serving the sick and dying, risking and often sacrificing their lives for the sake of others. Even if the virus was God´s judgment, Christians should always seek to help and serve. It was Christ´s mission, and as the Father had sent him, so he has sent us into this world. Of course, that does not only apply for doctors and nurses but to every believer in his/her circle of influence.
  3. WITNESS: The first two "w"s would be incomplete without this one. After all, what good is it, if a vaccine and a cure for Covid-19 are developed, everybody goes back to work/school but remains untouched in their hearts and souls? Neither CNN nor the governments of this world will call sinners to repentance. How will the lost hear of the loving Savior unless somebody tells them about him?
It is tempting for me to also focus on the plans of the enemy, as I am not unaware of his schemes (see 2. Cor. 2:11). It is not very difficult to see how the Antichristian forces are using the current events to pursue their agenda. But thoughts like these will be labeled conspiracy by the conspirators, I try therefore to focus on the positive things God is doing or wants us to do respectively. Just a few thoughts on something that C.S. Lewis is said to have written as early as in 1942: 


I think what Jesus says here is a very good description of how God can use the current crisis for good. I also agree that the enemy would like to promote anxiety, fear, and panic - the opposites of peace, faith, and trust. Satan always comes to steal, destroy and to kill. I don´t think, however, that he has any interest in shutting down businesses, schools, sports events, and even churches, as these have become idols for many that have replaced true worship of the living God, the creator of all things. It seems more plausible to me that Jesus did the former (closing of places, financial turmoil) to bring about the latter (restoration of families, etc.)! So, maybe Covid-19 is really what we prayed for when we asked the Lord for revival!?

See also God´s sovereignty in natural disasters, accidents and terrorist  attacks 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

What it takes to shake nations

Gambling/Entertainment: Las Vegas closed
Dow Jones, DAX down
About 2600 years ago, the prophet Zephania foresaw: "The Lord will be awesome to them when he destroys all the idols (gods) of the land. The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land" (Zep 2:11) -  
Who would have thought that He could do this with a little virus? 

Sports: Stadiums closed, Olympics postponed
Music: Concert Halls closed
Arts: Theaters closed
Entertainment/Gambling: Las Vegas closed
Hollywood: Cinemas closed
Travel: Hotels closed, flights canceled
Economy: DowJones, DAX down
Yes, even Religion: Churches, mosques; temples closed!

None of the things mentioned above are evil or bad in themselves. But if they become the center of our lives (i.e. our idols), God is able to turn entire nations upside down anytime. What an opportunity to reconsider our ways! 

Turning disasters into opportunities
The church by and large missed 9/11. Let´s use this time to proclaim the gospel to the nations!

You will not hear it from the government, nor from the media: Jesus Christ still saves!





____________________________________________________________

Churches can be closed. Websites and chatrooms can be shutdown. 

But the word of God cannot be bound (see 2 Tim 2:9)!




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Our attitude towards sickness and healing

Here are some thoughts, jotted down after listening to a teaching by Bill Johnson on unanswered prayer. I hope you will find some encouragement and/or some food for thought and further reflection. God bless!

  • "If you just had enough faith, you would be healed!" This is not a cruel thing to say to somebody who is sick (even though it certainly can come across in a condemning way), but it is throwing them a life-line, pointing them to the only solution to their problem. It is actually cruel not to tell them that they should have faith for their healing!
  • The opposite of "a little faith" is not GREAT faith, but NO faith! Jesus said that with faith as small as a mustard seed we could move mountains – no "great" faith required even for such a monumental task. Jesus also simply asked whether He will find "faith" on the earth when He returns – again no "great" faith required or expected. Similarly, Jesus asked the disciples after He stilled the storm WHERE their faith was. He did not rebuke them for not having "enough" faith, but simply made it clear to them that their faith was in the wrong thing (i.e. in their own ability top maneuver through the rough sea, in this case).
  • "Complacency and ignorance tolerate unanswered prayers." Bills Johnson
  • Accepting sickness in our lives somehow seems to be easier than believing God for healing, as you will not be disappointed (you cannot be disappointed if you didn't really expect to get anything in the first place), but it simply does not glorify God.
  • If we pray for somebody to be healed, but doubt that God wants to heal that person, we are actually saying that we have more compassion for that person than God, but that is impossible. That makes me think that God wants to heal me more than I want to be healed myself!
  • If we expect to be healed because of some kind of merit from our side, we are doomed. God is our Father, and as such we do not have to and we cannot do anything to earn His favor. He heals us because He loves us.
  • I want to be healed so that my life glorifies God. It's a sad, man-made theology that says God would be glorified when we accept sickness because He wants to teach us something or build character in us. Jesus never told that to ANYBODY who came to Him for healing!
  • Rather than shaking or being bedridden or being dependent on medicine, I am convinced it glorifies God much more when I am hiking through the mountains, enjoying His creation while snorkeling off the coast of the Cayman Islands, riding a bicycle to a waterfall around Chiang Rai, or playing football, being fully alive FOR Him, IN Him and together WITH Him.
  • I do not want to be healed merely so that I can SERVE God better, but to ENJOY Him more (even though it will certainly be much more fun to preach, teach, drive busses, clean stuff or do whatever, rather than being miserable, unable to do anything. Jesus did not die on the cross because the Father needed servants… He wanted CHILDREN J
  • God wants us to pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is no sickness in heaven, thus to "seek His Kingdom" here on earth entails for people to be healthy and whole.
  • 2. Timothy 3:12 says that everybody who wants to lead a godly life will suffer PERSECUTION, not sickness.
  • I do not want to accuse God ("You don't want to heal me") and neither do I want to blame myself ("I deserve to be sick") but I am guilty of self-pity, believing that I have to convince God of how miserable my situation is – as if He had not noticed.
  • Healing was God's idea, not ours.
  • Mt 6:33 ("Seek first His Kingdom"): We should never make our needs the primary focus of our prayers, even though it is absolutely legitimate to pray for our "daily bread" – instead, we should always be praying for what is on HIS heart.
  • "Answers to prayer reveal God" – we need to pray for more than one thing at any given time, not to focus on just one issue. The breakthrough in one area will give us the hope and perseverance to see breakthroughs in other areas.
  • Some things God does not give to soldiers / fighters, but only to sons and daughters. This point seems to be the easiest one, but often turns out to be the hardest, because we grow up being taught that we only get what we deserve…
  • Just in case you were wondering: No, I am not a parrot. God created me to be a son, made in His image, not a parrot who just says what we think He wants to hear…


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Gospel

                                  Deutsch    ภาษาไทย
I don't know how the gospel was presented to you, but I am convinced that Jesus will not come into anybody's life as a guest. He will either enter as Lord or He will remain outside. God opened my eyes to this reality on what began as a normal Friday in February 1989.
I had driven about 3 hours to the city of Muenster, Germany. While driving, my friend and I listened to a teaching tape by Wilhelm Pahls, a German evangelist. I had never heard a man speaking so passionately about bringing people to Jesus, never before and hardly ever since. I knew that the things he said were true, and it was as if he spoke directly to me. Every word pierced my heart. Without having a scientific proof for it, I knew that the Bible was God's word. I had no defense, no reason not to accept what Jesus had done for me and that He now wanted to come into my life as Savior and Lord. After we finished listening to the tape, I had maybe the most terrible two hours of my life. We went to visit my friend's girlfriend in a hospital, but I could not participate in the unfolding conversation whatsoever. There was a war going on inside of me! A part of me wanted what Jesus was offering, another part of me wanted to stay in control of my life, and reasoned against it. And one of the main reasons why I hesitated was that I knew I could never have the kind of sex I desired if I really followed Jesus.
I finally found a reason to leave the room and went back to the parking lot. I could not look into anybody's face and everything seemed to be dark and gray around me. I arrived at the car, but instead of getting my guitar out of the trunk I sat down in the driver's seat and prayed.
I do not remember what exact words I used when I prayed, but when I opened my eyes, the world looked different. Everything dark and gray was gone. I got out of the car and I recognized trees, people, LIFE! I literally saw the world with new eyes! I read later in 2. Corinthians 5:17 that those who are in Christ are a new creation, and I sure felt like that!

From my book "Tempted, But Holy!" You can purchase the book from Amazon and other online bookstores or directly from me here!



Friday, February 10, 2017

God's sovereignty in natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks - A short study


Tsunami warning sign in Phang Nga, Thailand

Tsunamis, floods, storms, earthquakes... do those kind of disasters just happen? Are they God's judgments? 
A common answer from Christians is that God certainly did not cause these disasters, but that he is grieved by the destruction they cause, the lives that were taken, etc. I want to suggest 6 reasons why this kind of thinking stands on very shaky ground, and does not align with what the Bible reveals about God's character. 
The ultimate question is whether anything seemingly bad can be caused by God. He might have reasons that we don't understand, but I don't think that "God allows disasters, but didn't want them to happen" is a very smart answer. Indeed, it's an unbiblical answer. 


If God is not causing (for whatever reason) natural disasters like tsunamis, floods, fires, earthquakes, etc., what would be his role? Just by common sense and, yes, logic, I see 6 options: 

a) He is not able to prevent them from happening (which would mean he is not all-powerful (but all Christians hold that he is all-powerful)

b) He is not willing to prevent them from happening (and thus protect the innocent and the children); a person who was able to prevent a disaster/crime/accident, but didn't do anything can be held responsible (at least in a German court)! 

c) He didn't see them coming/was surprised by them; that would mean he is not all-knowing (but of course all believers hold that God is all-knowing)

d) He knew it would happen, but didn't warn at least his people, so they could evacuate the innocent & children 

e) He simply doesn't care what's happening (but every true believer knows that God is interested even in the smallest detail of our lives - even the hair on our head is numbered…)

f) God is not in control - either Satan or men is, and God has to allow things that he doesn’t want to happen (this seems to be the politically correct answer in modern day evangelicalism, but it does not stand a Biblical test, neither does it solve the above mentioned concerns) 

g) ________________________________(please let me know if you have another thought) 

Any of the above mentioned options make God look to me like a toothless grandpa who would love to see everything being peace, joy and pancakes, but can’t quite muster the strength to really do anything of significance, and who retreats therefore to crying and weeping. The Bible, however, speaks of an all-powerful God, before, during and after the cross, who does whatever he wants and whom nobody can resist…

Job said that he would worship/trust/hope in God "though he slay me" (Job 13:15). And in Job 2:10 Job says ""Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.""

Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things." 

Psalm 105:7 “He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.”

Revelation 16:7 "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments."

Saying all that does not mean that every natural disaster is God's judgment. Thailand frequently sees major mudslides destroying villages, and most of them indeed can be blamed on forest encroachment and following erosion. In some cases we can therefore speak of man-made disasters. But a tsunami that kills hundreds of thousands of people is definitely not man-made. The options are thus that natural disasters are either caused by God himself, or that he at least allows Satan or “nature” to cause them, for whatever reason. In the Old as well as in the New Testament are many examples of natural disasters being directly caused by God. Many times children were killed together with their parents, who had sinned (e.g. Numbers 16).

Now some point out that Korah’s rebellion, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood were before the cross, and that now nobody has to be afraid of being judged by God, because all punishment was laid upon Jesus on the cross. That is a very good argument, but even after the cross we read about God pouring out his wrath, especially in the book of Revelation. Only in Jesus are we saved from God’s judgment. Those who do not believe in Jesus remain under God’s wrath, in spite of the cross (John 3:36)! But just as God was able to safe whomever he wanted through the flood in Noah’s days, or from the plagues in Egypt, God is able to protect whomever he wants from natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks in our time. Therefore, I am not afraid that I will die in a freak accident, unless it’s by God’s appointment. He will fulfill his purpose for me (Psalm 138:8), and no devil and no earthquake will be able to remove me from this planet before God’s purposes have been fulfilled in my life. That’s my strong conviction and confidence!

God is able to safe! But if he chooses not do that, he will have reasons. And I tend to think that God is not merely interested in displaying his awesome power, making man realize how powerless he is, in spite of internet, bank accounts, nuclear bombs and international space stations. God might sometimes really use disasters as judgment and as call for repentance. And then it’s even more tragic when man does not respond by humbling himself and repent! I would say that the USA completely missed the boat in the aftermath of 9/11. While there are many great, god-fearing people in America, who really love God with all their hearts, the overwhelming majority of Americans pay nothing but lip-service to God or even openly oppose godliness on every level. Now the very symbols of the things that most Americans (and other Westerners) really trust in were attacked on 9/11: The World Trade Center was the symbol for economy (banking, trading, insurance, money) and the Pentagon obviously is the symbol for military might. A godly response would have been one of humility and repentance, but America responded in pride, and put even more trust in the economy and in the military. This led to two disastrous military campaigns (Iraq and Afghanistan) and the global financial crisis in 2008.

So, if you think that God never judges anything in our days, you better think twice… you might ignore the very thing that God is using to shake up people’s consciences, and you might just put a band-aid on wounds that will lead to certain death and eternal separation from God if not treated rightly!

For further reading I recommend John Piper’s book “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”, which you can download for free at http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/onlinebooks/bytitle/2439_Suffering_and_the_Sovereignty_of_God/

* Before about 200.000 people were killed by the tsunami in 2004 in Banda-Aceh (Indonesia) there were no churches in the region; now there are 26… so in some ways the tsunami opened the doors not only for emergency relief teams, but also for the gospel! 



Marks of a disciple

The following is a (non-exhaustive) list of attributes that mark a disciple of Jesus Christ.

A disciple...
  • follows Jesus
  • wants to be discipled (!)
  • is faithful
  • loves people
  • is not only interested in him-/herself
  • cares for others
  • is concerned about other people’s salvation
    (if you are not concerned about this, you are most likely not saved yourself!)
  • is interested in world-evangelization
  • is a giver, not just a taker
  • is obedient
  • knows he/she is forgiven
  • has assurance of salvation
  • is marked with the blood of the lamb
  • is a sheep
  • is chosen (not just called)
  • loves Jesus
  • knows God
  • honors and treasures the Scriptures
  • disciples others


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Facing temptation

The Bible leaves no room for doubt: Practicing homosexuality is sin. So how could God possibly redeem same-sex attraction? I am convinced that same-sex attraction is a gift, rather than a curse. But, like every gift that God has given, we can either use it for good, according to God's purpose and for his glory; or we can use it for our own, selfish and, in the long-run, harmful purposes according to the lies of the enemy. So the answer to our question is actually rather simple: God wants people, who feel attracted to their own gender, to love people of their own gender with His love. What God created to be an expression of his own father-heart, Satan wants to pervert and reduce to a sexual level, just as he is trying to reduce the love between a man and a woman to a mere sexual experience. Most Christians are aware that the relationship between a married couple is supposed to be much more than just a god-sanctioned boundary for sex, but a picture and a reflection of Christ's love for his bride, the church. In a similar way, God intended the love between two men to be an expression and a demonstration of the love of God the Father for his Son, Jesus. The sexual confusion of our days, which is really nothing new, but has existed since biblical times (see Sodom and Gomorrah), shows how far the enemy has succeeded in deceiving mankind to believe his lies.

When Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, they found it had not only looked delicious, but it actually was. To this day, there is some kind of pleasure in sin – that is why it is so attractive to us. But not only are there negative long-term consequences of sin, but the rewards of trusting and obeying God's instructions far outweigh the pleasures of sin. Adam and Eve were not scolded for thinking that the fruit was delicious, but because they did not believe God that it would be better for them if they abstained from eating it. That is the nature of all temptation: it promises us some kind of gratification, but it covers up the fact that it will not really satisfy our deeper need. And this need is the presence of God, His blessing, His glory and His delight in us. So don't be afraid if you face temptation, because you have the opportunity to get one step closer to what you are really looking for – if you resist the temptation! Giving in, on the other hand, will take you one step further away from the One who is the only one who can fulfill your deepest desires. If you know that you have not really found what you are looking for, and many of you do know that, then don't despair but simply turn to Jesus, repent and start to follow him. He is waiting to fulfill your greatest dreams and longings. He wants to give you life, abundant life, a hope and a future. Come now and taste and see that the Lord is good!
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