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Is it the song service, traditional or contemporary.
Does it include interpretive movement, shouting to the Lord or waving flags?
Is it the whole thing, preaching, teaching and songs?
Is it merely a heart attitude of thanking and welcoming the Lord in our lives.
Is it all of the above?
Why?

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Robert,
Nothing at all wrong with your questions. I think the crisis of faith is completely normal. A dig through Psalms will show that David struggles with why the Godless seem so blessed. Not my favorite book I feel like I am reading my own whinings. I know others find that comforting.

Let me take a bit to pray and think about this before I resond. I don't want to sound crass or uncaring. Meanwhile, you benefit from reading Luminarie's comment under "heathly minds forget" Anyone else have any thoughts on this.
Robert,
I think the Lord alows us all to go through a faith crisis at some point. It forces us to decide if we will trustingly follow even when we don't understand (that is faith isn't it). Remember that although God is loving, He is also just.
Some of this may sound like the responses you have already heard. In the end you will have to come to terms with this in your own way. Your understanding may be different than my own. That matters not. What matters is that you keep on muddling through until you come to terms with this thing. Work it out until you find a solution that works for you!
God contradicts Himself when as an omniscient, loving, omnipotent HE alows evil? Does He? Think of a parent or a teacher watching a young person struggle with something. Sometimes a good parent/teacher will simply allow the young person to struggle so that they will learn the lesson for themselves. Could the Lord at times do this with us?
I mentioned earlier that God is Holy. He is totally other, utterly different than us. No wonder it doesn't make sense! Yet He has given us some of HIs qualities. Think of a God who is so kind as to allow one who has accepted Him to go through difficulties. Then they can help someone else who is stuck in the fog. God allows evil, hurt, fear and pain. For some reason He gave Lucifer, the fallen angel we callt he devil, control over earth instead of destroying him. I don't understand why. I simply trust He has a purpose in it. He makes a way for those who have been there and made it to lead others through. No one understands a rape victim like another rape victim. No one understands a grieving parent or teacher like another grieving parent or teacher.

Think of the tragedy of a student killed by a bus in front of a Christian school. Ultimate cruelty in our eyes! Or is it? He told his teacher he had Jesus in his heart. He is in a better place. What if this horrible thing is the catalyst that leads even one other person to salvation? Could this tragedy really be an act of love?
Sometimes earth is compared to the back side of a piece of embroidery. Ever see one? It is a mess! The string has got to knotted and moved from place somehow. That happens on the backside. The front side is beatiful. What if we are looking at the messy backside while God creates a glorious work of art? Of course it's messy on our side!
Think of a God who still made a way for us to be accepted by Him. He allowed evil and free will. Then He allowed His Son to be the ultimate blood based sin sacrifice. This so we could be forever pure in His eyes. The Mosaic Law found in Leviticus required a blood sacrifice to pay for sins. It could be no other way. The Lord allowed His sin free Son to be tortured and die to finish the deal for eternity. This loving God suffered the brunt of evil! Its even deeper than we understand. Jesus isn't just the Son. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all aspects of one almighty powerful God. They are not seperate spirits. When Jesus died it was really a part of God Himself who was tortured, humiliated, hung on a cross, and bore the full brunt of evil. Many teachers believe He was in hell for a time before the resurection. You see, even God has suffered at the hands of evil. This so that you and I might repent of sins, believe, follow, and have eternal life. Salvation is nothing without repentance. Could this be the greatest act of love ever demonstrated..?.. an all powerful being knowing full well that we would stumble all over ourselves trying to get it right, fail, and even blaspheme Him still made a way. Absolutely Incredible! What a loving act of self sacrifice!
This why I worship. God has made a way. Daily He answers my prayers, even sometimes foolish ones so that I will know He is still there. Sometimes He allows me to learn the hard way so I will grow. It ain't fun. This is still why I worship!
Be blessed.
Lisa
I want to give my two-cent comment on the statement: "I don't understand how a just God could allow so much suffering upon good people." For me, that's myopic. I don't think any speck of the blame rests with God at all, but rather TOTALLY on us humans. (The next few paragraphs are understood through a lawyer's view of law and debt.)

Why is God NOT to blame? God originally gave US TOTAL CONTROL over all suffering, pain, and death by giving us PERFECT ETERNAL LIFE, saying we had COMPLETE DOMINION (through Adam and Eve, the federal head of all mankind). WE screwed it up, not GOD. Sin in the Garden gave all control over to satan, and we reaped suffering, pain, and death.

Now look at the situation we created and what did God do about OUR pathetic mess? Our sin was a debt to God so great that only God could pay it, but it was solely owed by humans, not God. So Jesus became "God-in-the-flesh" to pay it in ALL ways it was owed. Here are two: (1) as a man, He lived a perfect, sinless life, fulfilling every iota of the law, and (2) being God, the fountain of life, He died a total death to pay the sin-debt we incurred. With this payment, Jesus totally regained dominion back from satan.

But then note, He handed it once again to mankind (through Peter, the spiritual head--see Matt. 16:16-19). Why? God can never alter His Word--He said from the beginning He gave it to US, and He cannot change. He is immutable!

Are the two dominions alike? No. Two immediate differences I can think of are: (1) The first dominion was over all creation to the utter boundaries of the universe (the first two heavens, because that's how much fell into decay and under the curse), but the second dominion reaches into Heaven itself (the third heaven, see Matt. 16:16-19). Ponder that a while! (2) No matter if we exercise the second dominion or not and no matter how badly we screw it up, like what originally happened in the Garden, satan can NEVER gain it back. Jesus' regaining is THAT PERFECT!

So with that kind of dominion and utter power given to us, if we want a perfect world, it's up to us Christians and we the Church to be TRIUMPHANT to make one. In all this scenario, God has been MORE than fair and just and MORE than loving--no blame whatsoever rests with Him. He gave up His Life totally in all ways to remedy the situation back to abundant and total life.

So what more do you want Him to do--our parts as well? We should do more soul searching of ourselves, rather than BLAMING God.

And let me postulate ahead if I may. Jesus may have to do just that--OUR PARTS as well! With the present condition of the world, it has become obvious that we are inept at exercising the second dominion in total victorious power. Jesus, once again in utter justice, grace, and love, will come to earth for a 1,000 years to show us HOW to DO it.

And what is meant by this sentence I took from a previous reply? "Either He is unable to intervene or He is not loving." There is a wonderful phrase in Psalm 50:21 (KJV), wherein God Himself is speaking about us, that is so appropriate regarding such FINITE thinking: "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself:" I hear God laughing at our measly perceptions.
Blessings, Dave
Dave,
I run into your line of thinking quit a bit with this question. It seems to me to be a theistic version of the Stockholm syndrome I've witnessed in my work with young girls who've been victims of sexual abuse. They have a strong tendency to protect their abusers and rationalize their actions because the child's sense of self-preservation has been crushed and they are incapable of realizing that they are not the ones responsible for the all those terrible secrets and pains and betrayals.

But they are forced to be responsible because, as you can well imagine, a man who would assault a child like that has no moral code and brainwashes the child into believing they alone are to blame. Because the shame and self-loathing is so great within these children and because society is so quick to ignore such horrors, it remains a buried secret and the abuser normally goes free while the child is left with a lifetime of suffering to overcome. This unethical reversal of responsibility is also the heart of your argument, glaringly so when you point out that "God originally gave US TOTAL CONTROL over all suffering, pain, and death by giving us PERFECT ETERNAL LIFE, saying we had COMPLETE DOMINION..."

This is like saying you can give a loaded firearm to a three-year-old and then blame the child for any carnage that ensues. God CREATED this universe, earth and all the systems that govern life. Not only that, he created the tree of knowledge, the garden, the serpent and all the conditions that led to the fall of man. He DESIGNED a complexity of systems far more dangerous than any handgun and then he has the gall to step back and act shocked when the creatures he created do exactly what he designed them to do? This is the part I don't understand. We are the three-year-olds, he gave us the pistol, and so many christians like yourself defend him for doing it. I'm fine with not understanding why this is the case, but I can't abide an argument like yours that is simply a half-clever way of letting God off the hook for consequences that he is clearly responsible for. That is simply accepting a comfortable delusion because the truth presents difficult ideas.

-Robert
Dave said, " don't understand how a just God could allow so much suffering upon good people." For me, that's myopic. I don't think any speck of the blame rests with God at all, but rather TOTALLY on us humans"

I think Dave is close here since mankind brought sin into the world. However, I think pain and suffering also indicate to us that this is not our home. Our life away from God is not our ultimate reality. Christians know that we are going home to be with Jesus!

If life on this earth were heaven, then God's presence would be with us at all times; however, since this is a fallen world, I do expect that the Creation will eventually die which is also the scientific consensus by anyone who works in the field.

I think that is why Jesus specifically was drawn to the sick, oppressed and those who needed help in general. I think suffering causes man to see outside of himself and his desires and makes seeing man's need for God that much easier.

If we didn't have this suffering, I think man who is completely and totally depraved would never give God or his fellow man a second thought.

In fact, all the atheists I talk to appear to be healthy people. I have never met an atheist at least not yet who knew he was in need of healing.
He DESIGNED a complexity of systems far more dangerous than any handgun and then he has the gall to step back and act shocked when the creatures he created do exactly what he designed them to do? This is the part I don't understand.

God act shocked?! Shocked and omnicscient, all knowing...! Think about it. God cannot be both! That would contradict all that He is. God knew that His creation would exercise the free will He gave them and choose to do wrong. He knew they would fail to keep the Mosaic Law and be once again deserving of the Flood.
However, God had a sent a rainbow and a promise He could not break and still be God. Therefore God created a way out. He sent Himself to earth in the form of a Son to teach and demonstrate how to live the life. Then He caused this Son to suffer, die and rise again. The sacrifices to end all sacrifices. He created a way out for those inept creations of His. This earthly expression of God took the punishment we deserve provided we repent.
As for the blame shifting...I believe it is correct to say that God does not hold us responsible for what we do not know or are too young to understand. However, once we have understanding and have received the teaching we become responsible for the response we choose.
Free will given by God simply allows us to "think it's our idea". Something very important to any strong willed individual.
I'm sure Dave will have more to say and say it better than I.
Lisa
Lisa,

I don't understand it either. How could God be shocked and omniscient? Obviously he wasn't too happy with the results of his creation when he witnessed the wickedness of humanity before the flood. If one is not happy with the results of something you design--be it a building or an idea--that means you did not know how it would turn out before you put it into practice, since we don't necessarily set out to make ourselves unhappy. This is our every day life as humans because we are not omniscient and we require experimentation in order to arrive at working designs. Do you follow me?

So if God was appalled by the wickedness of humanity in Genesis chapter 6, that implies that he didn't necessarily set out to make us wicked. Therefore, he is not omniscient. I'm not saying this is what I want to believe or that I am totally attached to this idea. It might be a bad design. It's just a logical conclusion that we should consider and think of a better way to answer than throwing rote scripture around. Thanks,
-R
Robert,
Thank for you challenging me. It forces me to think. I think God may have created humanity knowing that they could chose evil and what that would like. He would have also known that humanity could choose His way and what that would look like. I think it goes right back to the first choice in the garden with the fruit and every other right/wrong choice after that. God could have created with a plan in mind for what to do when the evil choice went too far.
I think the promise of the rainbow is an acknowledgement of the great sorrow, confusion and grief the destruction of the flood caused Noah and his family.
I wonder also if this is a nescessary part of the story. Without the flood and the rest of the Old Testament history would future generations understand how immpossible it is for fallen man to live up to the God given Mosaic law?
These are just conjecture on my part. Can't say that I have heard or seen this taught.
Lisa


Robert Chambers said:
Lisa,

I don't understand it either. How could God be shocked and omniscient? Obviously he wasn't too happy with the results of his creation when he witnessed the wickedness of humanity before the flood. If one is not happy with the results of something you design--be it a building or an idea--that means you did not know how it would turn out before you put it into practice, since we don't necessarily set out to make ourselves unhappy. This is our every day life as humans because we are not omniscient and we require experimentation in order to arrive at working designs. Do you follow me?

So if God was appalled by the wickedness of humanity in Genesis chapter 6, that implies that he didn't necessarily set out to make us wicked. Therefore, he is not omniscient. I'm not saying this is what I want to believe or that I am totally attached to this idea. It might be a bad design. It's just a logical conclusion that we should consider and think of a better way to answer than throwing rote scripture around. Thanks,
-R

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