Category: 5. The Road to Jerusalem
When my daughter was 12 years old, she was full of curiosity. And she would ask very good questions too. But she didn’t always like the answers.
“Why is God hiding?” she would ask. “Why doesn’t he protect me from hurting myself. Doesn´t he love me?” “If God loves the whole world, why doesn’t he just get rid of hell and let everyone go to heaven?” Those were the good questions.
But she had other questions as well. “Who was Cain’s wife?” “Who created God?” and “What is heaven like?” Obviously, we had a lot of talks together coming home from school, walking in the park, sitting in my office.
Do you remember the book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne that they also made a movie out of? It was really popular for a while and promoted what they called The Law of Attraction which claims that thinking positively about something can make it appear in your life. A dubious idea at best. It was clothed with some religious language (ask, believe, and receive) and fits well into the Prosperity Gospel that has swept through the American churches in recent years. It sold 20 million copies at least and was translated into more than 50 languages. Rhonda Byrne certainly attracted a lot of money and fame into her life.Read More
Frederick Buechner, in his book Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale, tells us that the world of the gospel is “a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily every after….That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still” (quoted in The Sacred Romance p. 46).Read More
Who knows how Hosea might have breached the subject of marriage to Gomer? You have to take into account the culture, the fact that he was known as a prophet of God, and the fact that she was a loose woman. Talk about a rebound. Apparently, she was married before and committed adultery and had children by her other lovers. The timeline isn’t all that clear. The storyline is a bit confusing but something strange was going on.
First of all, are you kidding me? God tells his prophet to go marry an adulterous woman who has children out of wedlock. Talk about the lowest of the low. The Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time for letting a prostitute wash his feet with anointing oil just before his death in Jerusalem. He should have known what kind of woman she was. Preposterous. Ridiculous. God told you to do what? God would never do that. I’m certain of it. Yeah, right.
I remember the early years of Bible College when I was surrounded by other young Christian students and we studied and prayed and discussed and argued to our heart’s content. We went on Mission trips together. We sang songs with our guitars, the Sound of Silence right along with Amazing Grace and Hallelujah. We ate pizza and watched movies but most of all we talked about the reality of God. It was great.
I come from a religious family in the Dutch Reformed tradition and discovered that I was good at public speaking in High School. I won all of Southwestern Ontario and was supposed to go to the Big Apple and speak at the United Nations for the North American Public Speaking Competition. But I didn’t go. I was already committed to a summer mission trip and in a burst of religious zeal, I decided that my priority should be the church. Not that I was a believer really. But I was convinced that I should become a Pastor since I had the gift of the gab.
When I was a young pastor, full of ideals, studying at a great seminary, wondering what the Lord had in store for me, I used to pray that God would show me where the fighting was the fiercest, the issues essential, where lives were being transformed, and put me right there in the middle of it. It took me a while to understand that all that came from arrogance and that I was woefully unprepared for ministry, that I was educated far beyond my obedience, that I was easy prey for the schemes of the Devil.Read More