Saturday, May 28, 2011


Worship was pretty good today. The sermon text was just what I needed. I asked Pastor Brent if he picked it for me but he said no, so it's something God picked. :) He spoke on 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. It's a text on suffering. I didn't even know it was there. Truly, God picked today's text.

Though Pastor Brent has been going through hard stuff and maybe he was preaching to himself: He and his family are getting ready to move 2500 miles next month. None are thrilled with it, but they are sure it is God's call.

Our pianist was gone so we did all praise choruses and one hymn a cappella (It Is Well With My Soul).

The sermon was titled after the song "It Is Well With My Soul," and Pastor Brent likes history so he told about the author of the hymn (Horatio Spafford), a guy who went through terrible times, a story I heard at my first church many years ago. He lost all five of his children and everything he owned. The point was trusting in God in hard times as well as good times. It's easy to praise Him when things are good, not so much when you lose your five children and all your assets in under two years.

And it occurs to me why K has been after me, kicking me while I'm down, insisting that I can be well and life can be good and all sorts of other unbiblical stuff. She seems to believe in Word of Faith theology, a theology where we become like God and his hands are tied. It is not just Arminian, but hyper-Arminian!

It's a theology that I pegged as unbiblical even when I was Arminian. It's a sub-biblical view of God where God is so dependent on us that He can't do anything without our permission. This is not a god (I use small "g" intentionally) that I could worship.

Either God can do anything He wants whenever He wants (like step into history through Jesus, heal people, or even *gasp* bring wrath and justice down), or He's no God at all. He's either sovereign or He's not. Period. K actually told me that God limits his sovereignty. Um, no. Call it what you want, but that god is not a sovereign God, and certainly not the God of the Bible.

Both her and my Catholic friend (and the Catholic girl has proven a true friend) believe that my current struggles with God are because of my Calvinist beliefs, and really, that's not true.

I just have never been challenged by so many things hitting at once. My Dad's death effected me far more than I thought it would, and is forcing me to really face the reality of hell and whether I can follow a God like that. The issues I'm facing are Christian issues, not issues with Reformed doctrine.

Perhaps I have people against me so that when God brings me through, it will be seen to be just Him and He'll get the glory. I don't know. I do know that I have gotten grief from Christians who should know better. Brian has shown true maturity - even as an Arminian, he can see I am hurting and has chosen not to kick me while I'm down. I can't say the same for everyone.

It took about a week to get the drugs the hospital gave me out of my system. It was a huge hit on my liver - the pills I took to kill myself, and the drugs the hospital gave me because I was combative. In total that was a huge amount and it did weird things like keep me awake all night.

But I am finally able to sleep pretty normally. I've avoided all alcohol, a good thing given that alcohol would have taxed my liver more.

And I finally figured out why I attempted suicide this time when I never have before - in short, I promised I would never try to kill myself while Dad was alive. I knew my death would cause his death, and I didn't want his blood on my hands. He's gone now, so the only thing holding me back was removed. So this time when Satan put the thoughts into my mind, I decided to follow. I know it's wrong, but truthfully, I still don't want to be here.

Brad and I may go to St. Peter's tomorrow morning. I could use some liturgy to soothe my soul.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Broken, part 3 (further thoughts)

I know God has a purpose in keeping me alive or I wouldn't be. I just don't know what that is or why I so easily and quickly fell for the lies of the enemy. I have truly never been in a place like this. This is utterly unlike my depression of times past when I simply thought about ways to kill myself, but never attempted. I am not sure what caused me to step over that line this time. But I feel it is a line that cannot be crossed back over, I opened a door that I cannot shut.

I question whether I can even be forgiven for breaking so many of the commandments at once, ever though His word is very clear on the issue. I know what the Bible says; my emotions say otherwise, and I have to fight to keep a Biblical perspective.

His sovereignty is my only hope and my deepest fear. My only hope in that only a sovereign God can get me out of the mess I've made (now compounded) and use this for my good and His glory, and my deepest fear in that He may prevent me from killing myself if I ever try again. I want to be master of my own fate and call my own shots in life. A sovereign God short-circuits that and must be followed because only a sovereign God is worthy of being followed.

A sovereign God takes away my freedom, and that is something I want to protect at all costs, even if I always use that freedom to destroy.

I realize I still have very deep issues with God. I thought they were resolved, but they weren't. They were answered. And the answers are ones I do not like, and so I struggle and rail against the only One who has ever loved me. I know all this - in my head. It has not yet made it to my heart.

I prayed nightly that my heart would be synched with His word. And instead of trying to live that out, I tried to kill myself. I wish it were as easy to sync my heart to His word as it is to sync my iPhone to iTunes.

I'm pretty sure this is a pretty bad screw-up, and I broke multiple commandments that night. Can such heinous sin from a believer be forgiven? Is there hope for me? Satan tells me I'm such a screw-up - I can't even kill myself without messing it up. But God tells me there's a purpose in keeping me alive.

When I came to on Thursday afternoon I was dressed in the garb of all the other inmates - blue slacks and blue shirt and non-skid socks. I have two memories of Wednesday, the first is being wrestled to the ground (or bed) and someone shouts "5mg Geodon!" I feel a sharp pain in my butt, but barely feel it and lapse back into unconsciousness. I am told they gave me a few injections, but I only remember the one.

The second memory is of waking up in one of the rooms. I am no longer tied down. I need to pee really bad. I try to get out of bed and my legs collapse under me. I try to get up again, and fall backward. I try to crawl, and again fall backward. I finally just lay on the floor and go unconscious again. I suspect I must have peed myself because when I woke up Thursday I didn't need to pee nearly as bad.

If that isn't the picture of the seriousness of what I've done, I don't know what is. Even trying to fill in the holes is painful. How could I have let myself sink so low?

And when I checked, I had no underwear. I have no idea if the others with me were the same, or they just got tired of me wetting myself and just threw some slacks on with no undies. No bra either. Just slacks and shirt, nothing underneath.

I didn't have a Bible for most of my time there. The Spirit used what He had available - Scriptures that I have read so many times that I can practically quote them, or a sermon illustration about thanking God for things you never thought to thank Him for before. In short order I was made to thank Him for my clothes, even though they were not mine, and my bed, even though it was not mine and may not be mine the next night, and the food even though it was terrible. It was nutrition and I thanked Him for that. I thanked Him for the roof, even though it was the roof of my prison.

I didn't do this because I wanted to. I did this because this is what the Holy Spirit brought to mind. There was no option. God doesn't bring to mind to praise Him in a place of despair unless He means for you to carry out that praise. It's training for me, to help me learn to praise Him for all the little things I normally take for granted, such as clothing and food, and learn to praise Him in the middle of the storm. Baby steps. :)

God didn't feel close during this time. My only real prayers there were, "Lord, have mercy," and "God, help me!" That was all I could pray. And He has answered those, both by helping me, and showing me not just mercy, but true unmerited, undeserved grace.

I saw people fly off the handle at the smallest perceived offense. They would be herded into a room. If they screwed that up by refusing to stay in the room or turning over the bed (yeah, I saw a woman do that and a security guard remarked to me how heavy those beds were), they would have their arms pulled behind their back (not in a rough way), and escorted to a room where they could be tied down as I was at first. I was combative, which is why they had to resort to drugs as well.

I haven't slept more than 4 hours a night in a week. I'll sleep 3 or 4 hours and then be awake the rest of the night. Getting back to my regimen of Benedryl and melatonin hasn't helped. Brad thinks it's the drugs being worked out of my system, but how can it go on for so long? I just want to sleep.

And so I am forced back to square one (Dad's death) to really deal with the emotional fallout, and everything that has happened since. It means admitting that I am at a place where I need help.

Camping is such a small portion of this. Yes, I am heartbroken to see God's judgment fall on the very people who believe they are immune to it, but this is where God has me, and I know that I am a created thing, and He can (and will) do as He wishes with my heart. Perhaps He wants me to feel the brokenness He feels at having to judge their evil. But I know His holiness is too important to let it go unpunished. And that is also why I am suffering - He disciplines me because I affronted His holiness and glory. I was stupid and tried to commit self-murder.

I feel like I am freefalling again, just as I have so often these last few months. God has always caught me, but I worry that this time will be different, this time he won't catch me, this time He will give me what I deserve instead of mercy.

In those times I cling to His word. He will not ever go against what He has already said. He declares me forgiven by Christ; I am forgiven, even if I don't feel forgiven or feel I don't deserve forgiveness. His word is clear. I'm forgiven. Period.

Now if I could just get my heart in sync with His word. My biggest regret from last week is not that I did it, but that I wasn't successful. I know that's wrong, but that's where I am.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Broken, part 2 (the overview)

It seems I am far more broken than I knew when I wrote the first Broken note on May 12. Here is an outline of what happened. I'll write more later.

Tuesday, May 17/Wednesday, May 18 - Came home from work and despair of things ever getting better. I drink of bunch of wine and attempt to overdose on Xanax at about 1 or 2 a.m. I have a full bottle and take most of it in three handfuls. Kicking myself for not finishing it off.

Brad stays up with me all night, not knowing what I had done. He checks on me. Wednesday at about 2 pm he calls 911. They find the mostly empty pill bottle that I had left on my nightstand (I debated whether to do that or not, but finally left it there). They take me to emergency. Brad stays behind.

What I have been able to guess at is that after being taken to emergency, I take another ambulance ride (after getting stable) to the psych hospital, arriving there sometime Wednesday afternoon or night. I have only a couple snatches of memory from Wednesday, both humiliating. I may tell them some other time. I am told I was combative and they had to use restraints and injections (one of which I remember - 5mg Geodon).

Thursday, May 19 - Brad attempts to find me, but emergency says they have no record of me. He phones April (my sister), and April is able to track me down to John George Psychiatric Pavilion.

I "come to" the same day and attempt to phone him and am able to connect. I was 51/50ed and now stuck at John George for up to 72 hours. The clock started running on Wednesday, meaning they had to figure out what to do with me by Friday - keep me on in a different ward, or let me go.

I stay in John George all day Thursday and into Friday morning. I learn the rules and know that I just have to obey the rules and I have a good shot at going home.

Friday, May 20 - I get evaluated by a doctor in the mid- to late morning and am cleared for going home. I haven't bathed or brushed my hair in three days. I have only brushed my teeth once (Thursday night). Brad comes and gets me about 1 pm Friday afternoon. I shower, brush through my hair, then get it chopped off to avoid this in the future (in case I am locked up again).

I have so many stories and thoughts, but my purpose now is to write an outline of events to build my stories around. I am still far too tired to write everything.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bay To Breakers

Ok, some notes on the race. 1) It was tons of fun this year. It seemed like more fun, even though the start time was moved up. Maybe it just seemed that way because I needed the break so bad. For several hours yesterday I was able to banish all thoughts of Harold Camping and Family Radio from my mind. My aching heart could take a break and experience some happiness.

The runner's high along with a much needed break was something I really needed. I have been praying for mercy for those of us who don't believe Mr. Camping's date - that as God brings judgment on them through the failure of the date, that He will remember mercy toward us. See my note "Broken" for more on this. At any rate, I have prayed for mercy, but yesterday God gave me grace - unearned, unmerited favor - a time to relax and enjoy the race and its usual zaniness. I could think of nothing else to pray last night than to just thank Him over and over. He was so good to me.

The race start time was moved from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m., evidently to help stop people who come just to get drunk. The elite women got a head start at 6:55 am to give them a fighting chance to beat the men. The elite men along with Corrals A, B, and C took off at 7. By 7:15 most of them had gotten going and my Corral, Corral D, took off. I hit the start line at 7:20.

The naked people were there, costumed runners were there, we had the tortilla tossing before the race started - all the normal zaniness that makes Bay To Breakers the spectacle it is.

It was a pretty normal and uneventful run. It seemed more crowded because I was further back than usual. This may have slowed me down a bit because I would be held up by people ahead of me and had more trouble navigating around slower people.

I prayed that God would hold off the rain for all of us, and all I encountered on the course was one small squall in Golden Gate Park. I pulled out my parka, but almost as soon as I had it on, I was past the rain (or it was past us). At any rate, a fairly dry race. I can't complain about the weather. :)

After crossing the finish line I followed everyone else down a side street toward the Polo Fields and encountered people handing out race medals and marking our bibs as fast as they could. Then I proceeded past the Polo Fields to Speedway Meadow to pick up my t-shirt.

The saddest part was after finishing the run we passed by a guy preaching hellfire and brimstone. I practically feel like I know them because they are out every year. As we passed I overheard a woman talking to her friend, mocking them. I just thought, "What they said is true, even if they are not presenting it the right way." I thought about how she is under judgment for making fun of them. We will all stand before God one day and give an account.

I hoped the people would ignore the preachers and read my shirt. Every year on the back of my t-shirt I wear one of two Bible verses about running. This year I chose the Hebrews verse about running the race with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. I hoped people would read that instead of listening to the hellfire preachers. I am one of the runners, out there running just like the rest, with a simple statement on my t-shirt that says you can be a Christian and still have fun.

After picking up my t-shirt, I left to find a bus. I meandered out of the park, following people ahead of me, passed a small lake, and eventually we came out onto Lincoln Avenue. I had a heck of a time catching a bus, but eventually I found an outbound 29 Sunset that I knew would take me to Balboa Park BART. Let everyone else take an inbound bus and deal with crowds; I used to live in the City and I'm going where it I knew it would be less crowded. :)

Final results were:
Distance: 12k (7.46 miles)
Top of Hayes Street Hill: 0:37:39
Chip Time: 1:41:39
Overall Place: 20,947 out of 43,414
Female Place: 9,642 out of 23,857
Female 40-49 Place: 2,360 out of 5,656

Before Hayes Street and to the top of the hill: 14 minutes a mile
Overall pace: 13:38 a mile (4.4 mph)

I did better after the hill as Hayes Street is several blocks long and gets up to a 13% grade. Hey, you can't have a run in San Francisco without one big hill, right? :)

There are two short videos; however, I do not believe I am on the first (shot from the right side). The second video (shot from the left and including sound) does show me crossing the finish line. I'm wearing a white shirt, black pants, and a white headcovering that's fallen halfway back on my head. I am fiddling with my watch right before and after I cross, briefly throwing my arms in the air when I step on the mat. You can see me, but you'll have to look closely.

Ignore the first short video. The second video starts at 7:47 and I can be seen running up (I come into view on the far left at 7:53) and stepping on the mat at 7:58.

results and video

Thursday, May 12, 2011


More on Family Radio:

I was PMing a friend last night about my Glory, part 3 note, which reminded me of the first two "Glory" notes (Glory and Glory, part 2), which reminded me that everything is as it is for God's glory. He will be glorified even in what is about to happen, even if I can't see how.

I woke up this morning from a dream thinking, "Don't give up on God" - a message not for me, but for all those who will be disillusioned by Mr. Camping's teachings when May 21 comes and goes without anything happening.

In the dream (I can barely remember) there was a list of things people would need to do after May 21, and "Don't give up on God" was the first thing on the list, the first thing these people need to remember when nothing happens on May 21.

I'm restless, waiting for the other shoe to drop, heartbroken. I weep over the judgment I see falling. I believe false prophets are one way God judges people who won't listen. I know this is His doing for His reasons, and I'm not mad at Him. I am just saddened.

Generally speaking,there are going to be three groups of people after May 21 - those who fall away entirely believing that Mr. Camping is teaching the Bible and therefore the Bible - and God - can't be trusted, those who cling to Mr. Camping's teachings no matter what, and (usually the smallest group) those who come to their senses, come out of Camping's teachings, and come to know the true God. I have seen a couple of people already come out. I know God has more and I need to be reminded of their existence to stay sane.

God's sovereignty is one of the few things that gives me hope in this.

I really didn't think this would effect me so much. But what is going on is truly demonic. I'm not that spiritually sensitive anymore - God took that away from me several years ago - but even I can feel the oppression that pervades my workplace. Fallen angels are delighting over Family Radio right now. It grieves me deep inside.

God does not rejoice over the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), but His holiness demands justice. If these people will not find their righteousness Christ, they will fall. They have itching ears (2 Timothy 2:3-4) and God has given them over to what they want because they will not listen (Psalm 81:11-12).

I have said that the anthropologist in me finds everything at Family Radio terribly exciting. But who I am deep down in my heart is a Christ-follower, and so in the deepest part of my being I am grieved, crying, broken.

I didn't know how grieved I felt until I knelt down to pray last night and dissolved into tears. I weep as I see a once faithful ministry, and many people, under God's judgment. I know the end will not be pretty, and I know I will see it, and so I grieve, and I pray that is His wrath, God will remember His children here and have mercy.

Romans 5:1-5 says "we exult in hope of the glory of God" and that tribulation eventually produces hope. So even as I cry, I know all hope is not lost. I am seeing something I have only read about in the Bible played out in front of me (and it is sad), but God is still on His throne, and in complete control of
everything that is happening at Family Radio. In that is my hope.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The PCUSA, homosexuality, prayer, Mark Driscoll, and my Dad

A mishmash of topics. This was taken from an e-mail to a friend, but I wanted to share a little of my life.

The PCUSA (on allowing homosexual clergy) - I wouldn't call them Reformed or anything else. I like that the news article mentioned the Anglican Church of North America being formed from the Episcopal Church getting more and more liberal (2003). They are the latest. The church I went to last week was part of an Anglican breakaway group from 1977. From the diocese of the church I visited last week:

"The Anglican Province of Christ the King is a body of Anglican churches which was formed in 1977 to ensure the continuation of historic Anglican Christianity in America. The need for the new Province arose because of changes in the fundamental faith and practices of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA)."

All I can say is good luck to those who wish to follow the Bible in the PCUSA. It may be time to break away.

So far my denomination has resisted this. I have seen this firsthand at Conference, and sometimes the debates get heated. I remember one year a group brought a proposal to the floor that we issue an official statement on marriage - that it is between a man and a woman. There was some argument, though it eventually did pass. On the whole, my denomination is still fairly conservative. We do have some liberal churches (including one in New York state that is infamous), and we do allow female pastors (I disagree with this).

Today I listened to Dr. James White's podcast. The last two programs have been on homosexuality, and Thursday's will be also (he'll be interviewing Dr. Michael Brown who just published a book on the topic). It's hard, hard stuff to listen to, but it's the truth, and the truth is not always pleasant. How long will it be before stating those opinions is considered hate speech?

I also listened to Mark Driscoll's recent sermon on the parable of the persistent widow. Good food for thought there. What if God wants me to pray for L. not because He's going to change her, but because He wants to change ME?

I do believe in prayer. After my week in Seattle dealing with my Dad - MY DAD! - dying, I know prayer is real and that it works and that God hears and answers.

And God has consistently laid my friend Scott on my heart since Scott drove me to the Seattle church and home and we spent the day together. He's suffering with his dad's slow decline. I am powerless to help him or change the situation; I can only pray. John Piper says that God sometimes uses prayer as a means to getting things done. Perhaps He wants to use me to help Scott. I feel bad for him. I often end up in tears when I pray for him, and I barely know him!

Driscoll's sermon on that parable was a good. I did, however, figure out what bother's me about him while listening to one of the "Fighting for the Faith" episodes (Chris Rosebrough). The host won't badmouth him because he preaches Christ and the cross in every sermon, but he did make a comment that he is on the "fringes" of the Reformed movement. This would explain why the first sermon I heard by him (the first in a six part series on the book of Ruth) was a turn off and I came away thinking he was Arminian!

I am glad I heard that sermon though, since that put him on my radar, and God was going to use a sermon that hadn't yet been preached ("Heaven and Hell") to answer questions I didn't yet have. That is sovereignty, lol. :) That sermon turned me around. And combined with a couple of Dr. White's programs about man-centeredness vs. God-centeredness, God screwed my head back on straight.

I can't emphasis enough how much my Dad's death rocked my world and my faith. I am so glad God took an active roll in helping me to get my focus where it should be. In the end, my new Reformed beliefs stood despite the onslaught, and have grown deeper roots. Every time I lose that God-centered focus, God takes me by the shoulders and turns me around, saying, "That's the wrong question. Look at it this way."

Now I'm just pouring out my heart and totally lost how this started - on Driscoll. Driscoll, Piper, and White help me keep a proper focus and give me good teaching where my own church might be lacking, either from the pastor's time constraints, or his own Arminian views.

I'll end just by saying that we're into the final 10 days here at work before they think the rapture is going to happen. Those of us who don't believe in Camping could use your (and anyone else's prayers). It's hard. We are watching the final moments before a horrible accident, powerless to stop it, knowing that the end will not be good, but no one having any idea how bad it will be. I don't usually ask for prayer, but this time I will - not just for me, but for all the faithful people who work here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Limited Atonement

The following was found in the comments section (#12) of the Grace To You blog. The commenter quoted James White, one of my favorite teachers:

Some object to the doctrine of limited atonement on very pragmatic grounds. "The doctrine destroys evangelism, because you cannot tell people that Christ died for them, because you don't know!" Yet, we ask, is there an advantage in presenting to men an atonement that is theoretical, a Savior whose work is incomplete, and a gospel that is but a possibility? What kind of proclamation will God honor with His Spirit: one that is tailored to seek "success," or one that is bound to the truth of the Word of God? When the Apostles preached the Gospel, they did not say, "Christ died for all men everywhere, and it is up to you to make His work effective." They taught that Christ died for sinners, and that it was the duty of every man to repent and believe. They knew that only God's grace could bring about repentance and faith in the human heart. And far from that being a *hindrance* to their evangelistic work, it was the power behind it! They proclaimed a *powerful* Savior, whose work is all sufficient, and who saves men totally and completely! They knew that God was about bringing men to Himself, and, since He is the sovereign of the universe, there is no power on earth that will stay His hand! Now there is a solid basis for evangelism! And what could be more of a comfort to the heart that is racked with guilt than to know that Christ has died for sinners, and that His work is not just theoretical, but is real?

I just wanted to make a few comments. I listened to Dr. White's podcast for probably a year a half before the questions he asked began to gain some ground. The answers were uncomfortable.

Was the atonement I believed in merely theoretical? I had to admit, yes. Theoretically, every man had access to salvation through Christ. I believed that God wooed all people through prevenient grace. But a Savior who actually saves? No. That wasn't there.

Last year there was a major shift in my thinking - a shift almost as big as my conversion 14 years previous. God got much bigger, powerful, and glorious than before. In the summer and fall of 2010 these truths were intellectual, head knowledge. But God never allows things to remain theoretical forever, and when my Dad died in early March this year, it initially sent me reeling. Overnight I went from everything making sense to nothing making sense. I blamed God and lashed out at Him.

The rubber met the road and my new Reformed ideas met the reality of life (and death!). By God's grace, they survived, and I came out the other side with a deeper understanding of who God is, what He is doing in the world, and how the doctrines of grace really do make sense in the real world.

Fifteen years ago God took a God-hater and changed her into a God-lover - a work of grace in my heart that I could never accomplish myself. But I imbibed and believed in the God fed to me - a God who provides a theoretical atonement for all (see, I didn't lose the plot from where the note started!). Last year, God did another work of grace. He took a girl that looked at Calvinism and said, "I could never believe in a God like that!" and turned her into a lover of the very doctrines she used to despise.

Man-Centered, or God-Centered? (orginal note here

After Dad's death I asked a lot of the usual questions that people ask when a loved one dies. But gradually, when I asked the wrong questions, God would turn me around and help me ask right questions so I could get right answers. I began to realize that the gospel I had believed in was very man-centered, and it still permeated my thinking. What if I was going about this all wrong and it was really all about God? What would my theology look like and how would my questions change if God were at the center?

Questions of heaven and hell would find their answer and ground in God - His holiness, love, justice, mercy, and wrath. Sin would no longer be finite because it would be committed against an infinite God - an infinite God who humbled Himself to become one of us, and die in our place! Oh, how my theology would change if I were God-centered!

That is my struggle now - to not forget the lessons God taught me, to stay focused on Him and not man. We are creatures, not the Creator. He has a perfect right to do with us as He sees fit. And can not a God who died a torturous death on a cross for rebellious sinners be trusted? Isn't this a God I can worship and believe in? Isn't this a God who truly is glorious?

And so I can believe. Reformed theology made sense last year in my head; now it makes sense in my heart as well.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Glory, part 3

This note is borne of a sermon I heard yesterday on the topic "God is love." The background to this note can be found in my two "Glory" notes: Glory (original note), and Glory, part 2.

If you are going to tell me to leave my church - please don't waste my time and yours. I feel *very* strongly about this and you are not here in my situation. Church hopping is never something to be undertaken lightly or done for any reason other than gross ongoing biblical error. This sermon was the exception, not the norm.

God is love (1 John 4:8,16).
God is holy (Isaiah 6:3).
God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).
God is good (Mark 10:18).
God is a lot of things other than love.

These are the notes I took during a recent sermon. This is not meant to put down my pastor or my church. I love them both and know I belong there.

What I am contending is that love is not who God is at His center; glory is. I am sure some people would agree with my pastor that God’s love is the center, the essence, of who God is. I used to think so, too. But recently I have come to see that God’s glory is the center. All other things – His love, His mercy, His wrath, His holiness, etc. – are merely expressions of His glory.

The questions below were phrased as statements. For the most part, they sounded wrong to my ears, so I wrote them down as questions, then jotted my thoughts down after. The verse references were added the next day when I had some time to look things up in my Bible. Bracketed comments were also added the next day as I had more time to mull over what I heard.

Sermon Notes
April 30, 2011
1 John 4:7-16

1) Is God’s love the reason for creation? I think He created to show His glory. Why would God create everything knowing everything that would happen? [I asked God this question not long ago, and He told me everything is as it is *for His glory*!]
2) Is God’s love the reason for free will? I think we can’t love Him unless He makes us a new creation. He has to change our hearts so we can love Him (John 6:37, 65). ["Free will" is never mentioned in the New Testament, and it is only mentioned in the Old Testament in regards to free will offerings.]
3) Is God’s love the reason for providence (His care for His people)? This, I think, is right. God does love and care for His people (Matthew 7:7-11, 1 Peter 5:7).
4) Is God’s love the reason for salvation? I think Romans 9 says His glory is the reason He saves some (Romans 9:22-23).
5) Is God’s love the reason for eternal life? I think we will all live eternally in heaven or hell (John 6:58 [heaven], Matthew 18:8 [hell]). God saves some (Romans 9:22-23) to show His glory to all (Philippians 2:10-11).

Does God need somebody to love? Or is He perfect in Himself, needing nothing? [Do I really want to worship a God who needs anything?]

From creation to eternal life (# 1-5), God’s glory - not His love - is paramount (Isaiah 43:6-7, 43:25, 48:11).