Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thinx 68: Carolyn's book review continues

Continuing reading Suffering and Evil, from the series “Little Black Books” produced by Matthias Media

Chapter 1 … well it was my intention to read Chapter 1 but it was the end of Chapter 2 when put the book down to attend other things in life! The conversational style of writing makes it very easy to read while in no way detracting from the enormity or complexity of the subject. The analogies are very modern and well crafted into the text to enhance the points being made. No wonder I was at the end of Chapter 2 before I knew it!

Chapter 1 deals with the question of suffering, visiting the age-old questions of the link between suffering and sin, and why we suffer. No simplistic, pat answers are given. Instead the author draws from the life and experiences of Job, supported by references from the New Testament, to show that suffering is real and may be (in fact, often is) unjust. How I respond to it is the concern: will it make me 'a bitter Christian or a better Christian”? ( p21). The chapter concludes by focusing on God and the unjust suffering He suffered on the cross, suffering “more that you or I” (p22).

Chapter 2 deals with the question of evil and the other age-old question of how there can be a loving God who allows evil to exist. The question is dealt with in real terms: evil does exist, it is caused by sin and Satan in the world. However, the chapter resonates with hope: again drawing from the story of Job, the author shows that God restrains and controls evil while never being stained by evil. The chapter concludes with the point that in “our puny ability to understand his (God's) ways” (p32) we need to trust in the goodness and justice of God when things go awry, rather than charging him with wrongdoing.

Some may accuse the author of skimming over such deep and complex subjects … in the space of 23 small pages to be exact! However, I liked the precise way in which the issues are handled. There are no easy-peezy answers given, no shying away from the topic. Instead there is depth and good Biblical content, crafted in a manner that sufficiently answers my questions on suffering and evil … in 23 small pages and one cup of coffee!

Next … chapter 3 … I'm looking forward to it!
© Copyright Carolyn Axtens, 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thinx 67: Carolyn's book review

And so another Christmas has come, bringing with it the countless images of people having fun, receiving gifts and eating too much. These images are countered by an almost equal number of images of homeless people, those alone or sick, with the inferred question of what Christmas will be like for them. Some of these people are in their desperate situations because of poor choices they made; others because life is just unfair, even cruel. 

Annually, at Christmas time, this raises the question in my mind of why God allows suffering and evil. This year I decided to read up on this a little more deeply. Being the holiday season I went looking for something short and to the point, easy to read, not a long, complicated theological discourse. That's when I came across the “Little Black Book” series by Matthias Media, and in particular Suffering and Evil” by Scott Petty. Small, only 54 pages, touted as 'books that get to the point', I opened to the introduction. I immediately liked the everyday, casual style of the language, but what got me in was the aim to to deal with the topic “with precision and compassion” (p5), looking especially at what the Bible character Job teaches about God, faith, evil and suffering (p7).

So … a cup of coffee, a comfortable lounge … chapter 1 …
© Copyright Carolyn Axtens, 2011.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thinx 66: Notes on 1 Corinthians 14

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT
 v3 ... but one who prophesies speaks to men for edification, exhortation and consolation ... or as the NLT puts it, "strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them." Apparently the other gifts can't do this.

v4 'tongue' edifies the self whereas prophecy edifies the church. Paul's focus is on the church, not the self.

v5 prophecy is greater than tongues because the church benefits.

v12 seek to abound in spiritual gifts for the edification of the church

v17 giving thanks should edify. If the hearer doesn't know what you're saying, he is not edified.

v19 edification of the church is far more important in Paul's mind that tongues.

v24,25 prophecy calls people to account, convicts people, convinces. The secrets of the heart are disclosed, and not necessarily because the prophet tells everyone what the person is thinking at that moment. Rather, the word of God clearly declares the nature of the human heart regarding its sickness, and its deceitfulness. Prophecy expresses the truth in speech and action.

v26 all things are to be done for edification.

v31-32 prophesy for learning and exhortation, in a self-controlled and orderly fashion.

(c) Bruce M. Axtens, 2011.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thinx 65: Encouragement

No one has an easy life. Pastors especially. Pastors need encouragement. For the most part they get everything but. Yet, it is often within our power to encourage them. For all that may be achieved through random acts of kindness, the fact is nothing beats deliberate, well thought out acts of kindness.
Do not withhold good from those who need it, when you have the ability to help.
-- Proverbs 3:27 NET Bible
This parallels what Paul has to say in Galatians:
So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.
-- Galatians 6:10 NET
With our words we can destroy. With our words we can strengthen and empower. Use your words for the good of all who hear them. Encourage your pastor / minister / priest today (and anyone else you encounter on the way.)

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2011.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thinx 64: Meekness

Last year our church was working through the Beatitudes. I keep finding material in the Old Testament that hearkens back to Jesus' sermon. In this case, meekness. 
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.
-- Psalm 37:11 NIV
This is almost word for word quoted by Jesus 
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
-- Matthew 5:5 NIV
The rest of Psalm 37 reads like a commentary on the whole concept of godly meekness. Well worth reading and thinking about.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2011