Is God a Jerk?

Hold on… put away the pitchforks and torches.  Let me explain.  There are times when you read the words of God and you might think that God kind of sounds like a jerk. For example…

How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?‘” Isaiah 45:10 NLT

Have you ever asked God “Why did you make me this way?” I think it is a question that many of us have asked.  It is the kind of question that you ask when you are hurting isn’t it?  I mean no super model ever said to God

I know that I’m one of the most beautiful people in the world and I make millions just by having my photograph taken… Why did you make me this way?

No, this is the kind of question that we ask when we are unhappy with our body or our mind.  It is the question of people suffering from deep depression or terrible disease, but it is also the kind of question that every awkward teenager asks. It is the question we ask when we fell like God has given us a raw deal.  If someone who is really hurting were to speak to you this way you would expect a tender answer… a merciful answer.. but instead this is what you get.

This is what the LORD says–the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for My children? Do you give Me orders about the work of My hands?
Isaiah 45:11 NLT

Huh? God’s response is basically “Shut up, you don’t tell me what to do… I’m God.” Wow… he kind of sounds like a grumpy old man or a kind of a jerk.

Think About It

Whenever I read a bible passage like this I step back and try to think more deeply about what is being said. I do this by looking closely at the context of the passage and then I try to picture the scene as if I were watching a movie. I try to feel what the people there were feeling and hear the words as they must have heard them.

For example, just imagine Moses high up on a mountain where God is giving him the Ten Commandments. God was very close to Moses speaking to him face to face (Exodus 33:11). When out of the blue, Moses asks God a bold question “Show me your glory” (v18).  In response, God says he will cover Moses with his hand so that he won’t die and make all of his goodness pass before him.

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
Exodus 34:6 NLT

As God revealed himself to Moses look at how he described himself

  • a God of compassion and mercy
  • Slow to anger
  • Filled with unfailing love and faithfulness

He is not like the Wizard of Oz hiding behind a curtain, a little, angry man so let’s move beyond that image and ask a better question.  Instead of “God are you a jerk?” try asking “God what are you telling me?”

Woe to the one who argues with his Maker— one clay pot among many. Does clay say to the one forming it, ‘What are you making?’ Or does your work say, ‘He has no hands’?
Isaiah 45:9 HCSB

woe‌ (wō)
‌Deep distress or misery, as from grief; wretchedness.

God says it is not a good idea to argue with him.

Is this because he is a jerk who doesn’t want to hear our complaints? On the contrary, God encourages us to bring our pain to him.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Psalms 55:22 HCSB

Why do you suppose God says that arguing with God will bring woe? Is it because God will squash us like a bug for our complaining? Perhaps, but I think the reason is that it puts you in a very bad place emotionally and spiritually.

If you make a habit of arguing with God you have forgotten your place.  God uses some word pictures to describe your place.

  • He is the potter, you are the clay
  • He is the parent, you are the child

In other words, He is God, you are not.

He Has The Right

In Romans 9, Paul was responding to a complaint that he had probably heard as he taught this new gospel to Jews.

Are we saying that God is unfair?
Rom 9:14a

People were asking this question because Paul seems to be arguing that God’s choice is the decisive one. If you are chosen, or elect, you will be saved. If you aren’t you won’t be. If that sounds like a statement you might disagree with that is because Christians are still arguing to this day as to what Paul actually meant.  I’ll save that argument for another time, but I want to focus on one thing Paul said.

No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the One who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t He have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
Romans 9:20-21 NLT

Whatever it is that God has done (or allowed) in your life or your body that makes you lash out saying “Why have you made me this way?” Remember this… God has the right to do it.

He is the potter, you are the clay.  Accept it.  Not because he is a jerk who will squash you like a bug but because your question “Why” is not really a question, it is an accusation wrapped inside a question and asking it will only hurt you.

God’s Critic

When we ask God “Why have you made me like this?” we are making a subtle accusation.

God – I know your word says that you are compassionate, merciful and loving toward all you have made but when I look at my body and what is happening to me I think that maybe all of that isn’t true. I think that you really are not good.

Don’t be shocked… I think many of us have felt this or even said it out loud. Listen to what Job said.

But it is God who has wronged me, capturing me in His net. “I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me. I protest, but there is no justice.
Job 19:6-7 NLT

Often people will say, “Well God, didn’t harm Job… Satan did.”  Well, I have to say that while that is true, it doesn’t absolve God. Job didn’t say “Satan has wronged me” because he understood that God was sovereign. Satan can only do what God has allowed him to do.

God finally shows up at the end of the book and has a talk with Job and I find myself hoping that God will explain everything, but instead he says this.

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.
Job 38:1-3 NLT

He then follows with a long series of questions designed to point out how little Job knows about the universe.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you know so much.
Job 38:4 NLT

This goes on and on with questions about creation and how the universe works and then finally God asks Job another question.

Then the LORD said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Then Job replied to the LORD, “I am nothing–how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”
Job 40:1-5 NLT

At this point, if I were sitting near Job I might slowly start moving away as I expect lightning to strike or the ground to open up and swallow Job whole but the Job says

“I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
Job 42:6 NLT

Job finally reached the place where he realized that by becoming God’s critic he had cut himself of from the only one who can help him in life or death. When you accuse God of not being loving or kind the big problem isn’t that God’s feelings are hurt and he respond like a sullen child. No, the problem is that you put distance between yourself and God. If you embrace your anger and coddle it, like a cancer it will grow only increasing the distance between yourself and the greatest love in the universe.  There is only one solution, you must repent.

Repentance is not merely a chance of actions, like “OK, I’ll stop drinking if it will make you happy.” It is that but also a change of heart.

God, I was angry and became critical of you, even to the point where I began to believe that you are a liar.  I’m sorry. I don’t know why you made me this way, but I do know that you love me and that you will never abandon me and when I do die, you will be there with me even then.

The temptation is to try to make sense of your situation by making excuses for God.

  • God didn’t make me sick, Satan did.
  • God had nothing to do with my illness. Our broken toxic planet is the real problem.

Those things may or may not be true, but you will never know the answer to “Why” and every step you take down this road is a step towards becoming angry and critical with God. Why? Because your answers will never make sense. You will just have to accept the fact that while here on earth you will never get an answer to “Why” and that even in not knowing God is still good.

My “Episodes”

In the past, I’ve shared with people (see Thankfulness and my Catatonic Life) what I experience when I slip into a catatonic state.  These episodes started out small but have become much more frequent and long lasting.  In the past few weeks I have had episodes of a few minutes to as much as 4 hours.  During these episodes I am not asleep or unconscious.  I have little or no control over my body and I can hear what people are saying but I am unable to respond to them.  It feels like I am in a strange twilight zone, a dreamlike state.

I hesitate to post this video because it is painful to watch but this is the reality of my life today.


Status Update

I’ve been away from social media for a few months now.  I found myself increasingly not wanting to post or say anything about my condition because it’s so depressing.  I hate to bring depressing news to people but this is my world.  Several people have been asking so here it is… (last chance to turn away if reading this will cause you too much distress)

The Bad News

In the past few months my disease (Adiposis Dolorosa) has taken a turn for the worse.  Much, much worse. I’ve become more and more disabled and my pain has dramatically increased. Recently I had another fruitless trip to the emergency room after spending about 4 hours in a semi-comatose state along with extensive dystonia.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder, in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures.[1] The movements may resemble a tremor. Dystonia is often initiated or worsened by voluntary movements, and symptoms may “overflow” into adjacent muscles.[2]

I’ve had these episodes before but this last one started out with an increase in my double vision, severe head pain followed by nausea and vomiting.  Fortunately, I had a doctors appointment scheduled that morning and my mother was able to coax me into the car.  At the doctors office, the shocked staff quickly brought a wheelchair.  I was unable to keep my eyes open or speak very much at all when there.  The doctor who had never seen me in this state previously kept looking at the records of my evaluations with Neurologists only to find nothing.  As he said, the problem is that when I am not having an episode like this I don’t appear to be very sick.  This causes Neurologists to suggest that I am in need of psychological help (a suggestion which sounds like “This patient is delusional and faking his symptoms” to me).  In the past two weeks an event of this severity and duration that had previously occurred once or twice a year has happened four times.

The Good News

Having to leave seminary and ministry because of my illness sent me into a tailspin of depression and crisis of faith.  The other morning as I was heading into the event that led to my trip to the hospital instead of listening to rock tunes from the 70’s and 80’s I put Pandora on a station of worship music.  As my body drifted into semi-consciousness I was glad that I was listening to songs of worship.  I believe this was the grace of God comforting me in that difficult moment.  Since then, I’ve found a renewed interest in scripture and worship for which I’m very grateful.

To those who I’ve ignored or shut out over the past few months, I apologize… I’m sure you can understand how I really hate being a perpetual bummer to those around me. I suppose it is better that I stay engaged as long as I am able.

Thinking is Hard Work

Most of my life thinking was pretty easy for me. I loved thinking. Reading, writing, designing software and engaging in spirited debates.

When I learned that one of the symptoms of Dercum’s Disease is Dementia I was frightened. I wondered how it would happen and if I knew that it was happening. Part of me doesn’t want to share this with you because it would sound like a cheap way to make people feel sorry for me.

Aside from my daily catatonic episodes, I’ve found that any type of thinking feels like hard work. Even writing this feels like a struggle to find the words and put them down here.  I’ve never experienced the feeling that I would forgo day to day activities that I loved because the thinking was too difficult.

I first noticed that I could no longer play online multiplayer games because everything moved so fast. I used to love to play these games and now I have all the time in the world but I no longer enjoy them because it feels like such hard work to play them.  Yesterday I wanted to play but had to give up after a couple of games and found myself exhausted.

Even trying to watch a new TV show feels like hard work. Having to learn the characters and keeping my eyes open.  I tried switching to audio books but they are nearly as difficult to follow because I have such trouble concentrating.

Now I spend hours just listening to ambient mixes on Sound Cloud in a kind of haze. I spend my days running from severe pain any way I possibly can. I wanted to go to church Sunday but just couldn’t make myself do it.

I spend a good deal of time inside myself. The lights are on but no one is home. It’s peaceful there. If you see me like this don’t worry, I’m not afraid. One day, I will go inside and never come out. I don’t know when this will happen but when it does, I think it will be a good thing.

Writing this is very hard but I’ll try to keep writing` as long as I can.

What Happened to Pastor Ron

For a brief time, I was Teaching Pastor as Liberty Towers Church in Sacramento, CA.  I really enjoyed my time there.  Pastor Terry, the staff and the people were so wonderful to me. Easter Sunday 2104 was my last Sunday to preach there and many people are wondering what happened.

The morning of March 24 was a very bad day for me.  Besides being a very painful disease, I have other Neurological symptoms such as seizures, double vision, hearing loss and dystonia.  When I awoke that morning I had seizures for about 2 hours and went to the hospital. 


Dercum’s Disease (Adiposis Dolorosa) works in cycles.  During an “Up” cycle I feel better, have less pain, few neurological symptoms and can be more active.  These “Up” cycles last typically 8-12 weeks.  The “Down” cycles well.. you can imagine what they must be. Lot’s of pain, lots of weakness, seizures etc. and they last much longer, typically six to nine months.

Each time I enter a down cycle I come out of it weaker than before. The disease is literally consuming my body.  I have so many tumors we quit counting them. Yes, they cause pain but they interfere with many things in my body and there is nothing that anybody can do to stop the progress of this disease.

This disease is so poorly understood that the doctors really don’t know what the future holds for me. Perhaps the scariest part is the dreaded “D” word… Dementia. It is one of the symptoms of this disease but nobody knows for sure if or when it will happen to me. I always assumed that if dementia was happening to you that you wouldn’t know it but that is far from the truth. You are the one most acutely aware of what is happening to your body and your mind. Long before it shows up on any brain scan, you are the one who knows about the times when you were confused by simple things that were never confusing before. Have you ever experienced walking into a grocery store and then paused in the frozen food isle only to realize that you don’t know how a grocery store works? This sounds so bizarre it’s hard to believe but it happened to me. Of course, the effect was temporary.

My decline is slow and sure, like the sand on a beach being slowly washed away by the waves, sometimes better, sometimes worse. How long will this go on? No one can really say. According to the medical literature “The effect on mortality is unknown”.

In this most recent decline I have once again had to face the facts.

  • I can no longer live alone
  • I can no longer drive a car
  • I am unable to care for my teenage daughter
  • I am almost to the point where I will require nearly constant supervision

For me to live in Sacramento, I have to pay rent and hire someone to drive me around and assist me with things I need help doing. By moving to Fresno I can live with my mother and she can help take care of me. It helps me, and it helps her because I have disability income to provide for her. It is a win-win for my mother and I but at the same time very sad that I had to leave Sacramento and Liberty Towers Church which I loved.

The next time I get on a “Up” cycle, perhaps I can ride a train up to Sacramento for a visit.


No Weapon Formed Against You Shall Prosper – really?

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17 NASB

 As I took my walk this morning I listened to a podcast from one of my favorite bible teachers.  This podcast was a repeat that I heard several years ago before I got sick with Dercum’s Disease (Adiposis Dolorosa). Something the preacher, who will remain anonymous in this post, said caught my attention in a way that it didn’t the last time I heard him say it.  He said this.

“God has promised to protect us. [Quote Isa 54:17] God has promised to protect us, not in the moment, not just this day but throughout our lifetime a theme of protection.” – Anonymous radio preacher

This raises some questions for me.

  1. Is Isaiah 54:17 a blanket promise of protection for all believers for all time?
  2. What does God mean exactly by no weapon formed will prosper?

No Weapon Formed

The sword gleamed in the early morning sunlight as the executioner approached the prisoner.  The blade was exquisitely sharp, he’d made sure that it would take just one swift strike to remove his head.  The scuttlebutt around the barracks was that King Herod Agrippa I was trying to curry favor with the Jews so they would help him keep the radicals in check.  One more screw up and Rome would be taking Agrippa’s head. Just yesterday soldiers went down to the temple area and found him.  James was one of the leaders of “the way”, a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.  A very close one at that, whenever Jesus wanted his inner circle he would call on Peter, James and John.  Those sons of Zebedee were known as “Sons of Thunder” so the centurion thought it best to send a cohort to arrest him but when they found him there was no thunder.  Now the prisoner rested quietly in the courtyard on his knees his hands bound behind his back. The executioner had seen people do many strange things in their last moments.  Some screamed, some cried for their mothers, but this prisoner was unlike anything he had seen before.  A strange calm, a peacefulness was written across his face. As the executioner approached, his eyes met the prisoner’s eyes for just a moment. Without a word, the prisoner lowered his head exposing his neck and with one brief stroke it was all over.

“Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.” Acts 12:1-2 NASB

 What?!? That sword was a weapon formed against one of the servants of the Lord and it certainly seemed to “prosper.”  What about the others?

They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60 NASB

Even stones used as weapons are prospering here. Is this the protection of the Lord?

“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:37-38 NASB

In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, believers love to quote Isa 54:17.  The “No weapon formed” phrase appears in countless songs and Christian greeting cards as if to assure us that nothing bad will ever happen to Christians.

So what, you say… What’s the harm in that if it helps people to feel better?

Here is the harm. The fact of the matter is that there is a great deal of suffering on this planet and much of it is caused by weapons that do prosper.  Bullets and bombs have destroyed Christians and non-Christians at pretty much the same rate throughout history.  Disease and starvation have ravaged Christians and non-Christians alike and the Bible does not promise to protect you from any of it.

If you believe in this myth of protection when you are attacked, when your love one is killed or when you get sick and are not healed you will question the very foundations of your faith. This so called “promise of protection” is nothing more than a straw man setup by the enemy. If he can convince you that God failed to keep his promise of protection, then what makes you think that God will fulfill his promise of salvation?

What is God talking about in Isaiah 54?

“For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. “In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the LORD your Redeemer. “For this is like the days of Noah to Me, When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you Nor will I rebuke you. Isaiah 54:7-9 NASB

Whenever I am trying to understand difficult passages of scripture I look to experts in the field and read what they had to say about the passage.  Here is just one example of what I found.

After the Flood, in which God executed His anger against the world’s depravity, He promised never again to devastate the earth in the same way (Gen 9:11). Similarly God promised that the day is coming when He will never… rebuke Israel again. Statements like this show that Isaiah was speaking of the millennial kingdom rather than the return from the Babylonian Captivity, for the nation has suffered God’s anger many times since the postexilic return. – the Bible Knowledge Commentary

There will come a day when no weapon formed will prosper but that day is not here yet.  That promise speaks of a future day in the millennial kingdom. If I run into a deranged killer today his knife, gun or bomb will most certainly prosper when he employs it to end my life. Sure it might make me feel better to believe that no weapon will prosper but believing a lie to feel better has never been a good idea.


Thankfullness and My Catatonic Life


An abnormal condition variously characterized by stupor, stereotypy, mania, and either rigidity or extreme flexibility of the limbs. It is most often associated with schizophrenia.

[New Latin, from German Katatonie, from Greek katatonos, ‌stretching tight‌, from katateinein, ‌to stretch tight‌ : kata-, ‌intensive pref.‌; see ‌ cata-‌ + teinein, ‌to stretch‌; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

One of the more interesting effects of Adiposis Dolorosa on my body is that from time to time I become catatonic for short periods of time.

(It took me about 2 minutes to write that sentence because right after the word “I”, my body shut down for about a minute.)

Anyone who has used a computer knows that from time to time the computer becomes catatonic, unresponsive to keyboard or mouse commands. Sometimes, if you wait it recovers on its own, other times you reboot the computer.  My catatonia is similar to this. It can strike at any time whether I am standing, sitting or lying down. Sometimes I will close my eyes and my head will droop as if my neck muscles went limp.  Other times, my body will become rigid even flailing about as is common in seizures.  If I am off-balance when it occurs I have been known to fall to the floor. My autonomous nervous system is at least partially functional when it happens because mostly I do not fall as happens in people with Grand Mal seizures when they become unconscious.

According to Web M.D. my seizures may be best described as partial simple motor seizures, affecting only a small portion of the brain where awareness is retained. When they occur, it takes a few moments for me to realize what is happening. Inside my mind there is a dialogue going on but it is a dreamlike state.

 “What is happening… why am I? Oh it’s one of those seizures again… C’mon… wake up.  Just open your eyes and move.  I hope I don’t fall over. Wake up…”

(Then my mind drifts off into the twilight zone… as if I were in a dream.)

After a while (any where from a few seconds to as long as an hour) my eyes blink a few times and I’m back.

These catatonic states occur nearly every day. While writing this post I have had two of them. If you were with me when I had one of these you might not even notice it unless you tried to talk to me during the event. If I’m lying in my recliner watching TV you wouldn’t know, but I would come to wondering what happened during the last few minutes of the TV show.

There are other indications of brain injury from Adiposis Dolorosa. I developed double vision in January 2013 that has continued unabated to this day.  Later I discovered that I couldn’t follow TV shows without the closed captions on. When my hearing was checked they found that I had moderate to severe hearing loss. I get involuntary muscle movements, jerking or spasms, (known as Myoclonic seizures) and my hands often twist into claws.


Some people have suggested that perhaps these symptoms are side-effects of the medications I take. This is certainly a possibility, but given the fact that these catatonic episodes and their frequency has remained constant over the last couple of years even though I have been on and off a number of different medications in that time, I suspect that medications are not the cause.

Once again, my current doctor has suggested that I be evaluated by a Neurologist, perhaps at Stanford University. I hesitate to do this because I have been evaluated a number of times and nothing has been discovered. This is not surprising because the effects of Adiposis Dolorosa on the brain and nervous system are so poorly understood.

In the meantime, I’ve learned to live with my condition. Nobody has demanded that I surrender my driver’s license but I suspect that it is only a matter of time. Presently, I have a caregiver who drives me most places and my daughter drives me as well. Losing my independence is a difficult thing, but there are good side-effects to it as I am rarely alone now which gives me time to enjoy the company of others.

Some people wonder, if I am so disabled, how can I write books, blog posts and work on a Masters program at the same time?  The answer is that I’ve learned to work in between the bouts of pain and catatonia. This gives me much time for reflection and study.

I’ve also learned that there is good in everything that happens to me if I am willing to find it. It is so easy to focus on the bad, the wrong, the painful, but scripture calls us to think about better things. To cultivate a life of thankfulness. Those who are not sick are busy and preoccupied with the mundane things of life so they may never learn to do this. Sickness has been my tutor, teaching me to reflect thoroughly and to search out the deep things of life and so I’ve learned that I can indeed be thankful in all things, even catatonia.

Corruption of the Soul

“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!
Matthew 5:27-30 HCSB

This familiar passage came to mind this morning as I was reflecting on a quote from C.S. Lewis.

“You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis

I think these two insights share a connection.  Just as an iceberg is mostly underwater, most (if not nearly all) of us is invisible. Jesus made a remarkable statement in his comments about adultery and I think that perhaps our tendency to focus on the body and not the soul is the reason for this statement.

You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery (with your body). But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her (with their soul) has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In other words, don’t comfort yourself by thinking that your private thoughts of adultery (or other sexual sins) don’t affect your soul just because they weren’t enacted by your body. The corruption wrought by sin has already taken place in your soul when your chooser (will) makes the choice to entertain adulterous thoughts. When your feeler (emotions) acts like a child and wants to feel (whatever that feeling is that adulterous thoughts provide) and your thinker decides that such feelings are harmless because of a technicality (they aren’t enacted), Jesus warns you that corruption is taking place in the soul.



Jesus then goes on to make dramatic statements about gouging your eye out or cutting off your hand. Most theologians understand these statements to be hyperbole (A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect). In other words, Jesus is not commending actual amputation of body parts to prevent sinning. Perhaps what Jesus is suggesting is that sin corrupts your soul the same way that gangrene corrupts your flesh.

Gangrene is caused primarily by a lack of circulation to the affected area. When the blood stops flowing cellular necrosis (death) of the tissue occurs. Once this happens, if the dead tissue is not removed bacterial infections will eventually lead to death of the body. During the US Civil War, death from cases of Gangrene were reported to be as high as 45%. This explains why they were so quick to amputate limbs when a soldier have a severe wound.

There is one curious treatment that shows remarkable promise for dealing Gangrene… maggots. More than 1000 years ago people figured out that if you put maggots into gangrenous tissue that the maggots would eat only the dead tissue and spare the living tissue thus saving the life of the patient. Middleton Goldsmith, a Union Army surgeon during the Civil War applied this treatment to over 300 cases with the mortality rate dropping to just 3%.

Do you suppose that sinful thoughts which corrupt the soul are the equivalent of Gangrene of the soul? Perhaps none of us will emerge from this life with an intact soul, even those who are saved and go to heaven will arrive with a soul shaped by the corruption of earth. Why do I think this? Because Jesus did not say “Go ahead and think your adulterous thoughts because you will be forgiven in the end and it won’t matter.” No, rather Jesus seems to be saying “Do whatever you have to do to fight your adulterous thoughts, don’t make peace with them at any price.”

There are disagreements among bible scholars as to whether or not a saved person can lose their salvation. Could Gangrene of the soul eventually lead to death of the soul? I’m not sure honestly but we should take Jesus warning seriously and take appropriate action. Even if Gangrene doesn’t lead to death of the soul, it will most certainly take a piece of it. Will God in his mercy restore the lost portions of our soul eventually? Perhaps… but if this process was easy and automatic I don’t think that Jesus would have given such a stern warning.

If adultery of the heart was a problem in Jesus’ day, it most certainly must be rampant today. Any one with an internet connection can access a mountain of pornography for free. This corrupting influence has begun to take its toll on a generation of children born since the creation of the internet. I believe it has also taken an extraordinary toll on the lives of believers no matter what generation.

Some of us have simply decided to accept adultery of the heart as a normal part of living in the modern world. Things that were once considered shameful are now joked about with uncomfortable laughter. I believe the Spirit of God wants to warn us about soul gangrene

The Voice of Worship – Part 2

The Voice of Worship 2


In my last post I said that worship is a spectrum ranging from light to heat.  Just as Jesus said true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth, some people tend to worship more on the side of truth.  I call them “Light Worshipers” not because they worship light, but because that is their style to worship with their thinker..  Others are “Heat Worshipers” because their style involves worship with their feeler.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
– When I Survey – Isaac Watts

Light Worshipers love songs like “When I survey.”  Look at the great thinker stuff in that song.  It says I look at the cross and then I make two choices based on my thinking. I count gains as loss and pour contempt on my pride.  Of course, heat worshipers can love this song too.  There is great emotion in these words but sadly most heat worshipers will never get a chance to sing this song because either their church will probably never sing it, or they will simply refuse to worship because it is a hymn.

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
– Oceans (When Feet May Fail)  Joel Houston, Matt Crocker, Salomon Ligthelm

Heat worshipers like songs like Oceans.  The key thoughts in this song are great feeler stuff. I rest in your embrace. I am yours and you are mine.  The language is romantic. You can imagine those thoughts in a song about your girlfriend or boyfriend. Of course, light worshipers can love this song too. There are chooser declarations in it such as “I will call upon your name” and “keep my eyes above the waves.”  Sadly most light worshipers will not worship to this song because either their church would never sing it or if they do many older light worshipers will simply refuse to worship to it because of the contemporary style and instrumentation.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-20 NIV

True worshipers… will worship.  They will find a way to get past their preferences.  Heat worshipers will have to find a way to be obedient to this command of scripture to speak to one another with “with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.”  Speaking to one another is one way  we worship with our thinker.

Light worshipers will have to find a way to be obedient to this command as well.  They will have to learn to worship from the heart (feeler) “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”

So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:15 NIV

Immature heat worshipers need to learn to sing with understanding even when the song involves Organs and Orchestras.  Keep in mind that one day the style of worship will move on from rock and roll bands to something else and if you are going to be mature you need to learn this.

In the 90’s people used to talk about “Worship Wars” to describe the painful struggle taking place in their churches.  I grew up in The Church of the Nazarene which was was born in 1908.  Back then the Nazarene church in Los Angeles where they met was called “The Glory Barn.”  Their pastor Phineas F. Breese said about their building, “We want places so plain that every board will say welcome to the poorest.”

I think the early Nazarenes were mostly Heat worshipers. But then over time something happened.  As generations came and went the Nazarenes became more Light oriented.  My parents and many of you were raised in a time when the culture of worship for Nazarenes was mostly on the side of light.

In the late 80’s my church, Liberty Towers Church, began shifting rapidly to Heat worship and I can recall vividly the transformation as it took place.  As a young man I was definitely more of a Heat worshiper (this is generally true of most people).  I loved the changes but my parents did not and there was a war about worship.

It was called a war because there were casualties.  When the church is at war people get hurt. People get angry and people leave.  Some people decided that the answer was to divide.  Let the Heat worshipers start new churches and let the light worshipers keep the old ones.

Maybe this was the best that we could do at the time but I found it very sad. My parents were a part of the older folks at Liberty Towers that left to go somewhere else.  They went to a church that was just for light worshipers. Because light worshipers are mostly older their church had only old people.  They loved their church because it was like the church they remembered from the early 80’s.

I went to a church in Washington that was one of a wave of new churches born in that era.  These new churches were built to cater to Heat worshipers. Because Heat worshipers are mostly young there were very few old people at my church.

What is so very sad about this situation is that we need each other and instead of holding together we allowed this war to tear us apart.  We need each other.

  • Old needs young and Young needs Old.
  • Light needs Heat and Heat needs Light.

The other reason this is tragic is that it took something so great, something we need so badly and turned it into a war zone so our worship was blocked by the sounds of war.

Who was right? Light or Heat? Neither.  There is no right answer here.  There is war or worship, true worship or false worship.  So let’s stop fighting wars over worship and learn to say Amen even when the song isn’t our style.