THEOLOGY & Is COVID-19 God’s Judgment? Helpful Insights by @KenSchenck @HoughtonCollege @WesleySeminary

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: About this time last year at two of my client churches, the lectionary required that I speak on the Book of Job. Subsequently, I preached a sermon titled, “Why bad things happen to good people.” My friend and colleague, Dr. Ken Schenck, delves into this topic deeper, but clearly, in his post today. For an introduction to the differences between God’s permissive will and God‘s directive will, take a look at his article.

by Ken Schenck, The Common Denominator, 3/22/20.

…Here is a good illustration of growing precision within the pages of the Old Testament. “God has no grandchildren”–our eternal fate is a matter of our individual relationship to God, not that of our parents. It goes the other way as well–our eternal judgment is not a matter of our parents either.

There are still consequences to sin in this life, of course. If a mother takes drugs while pregnant, God may not intervene to protect the unborn child from the consequences. The child of an alcoholic parent may still have to deal with the psychological consequences of growing up in that environment.

The book of Job brings out the complexity of the situation. Job suffers even though he has not sinned. He never finds out why in the pages of the book. God comes to him at the end and basically tells him that understanding the situation is above his pay grade. Here is the final answer to the problem of suffering. God is in control. God is good and knows what is happening. We will never fully understand. We must simply have faith that “the judge of all the earth will do what is right” (Gen. 18:25).

Of course we know that Satan has made a wager with God from Job 1-2. Job never finds this out. In my Wesleyan theology, this is a good example of the fact that much of the suffering that happens in the world is a matter of God’s permissive will rather than his directive will. That is to say, God does not directly order everything that happens.

God is sovereign. Nothing happens without God’s permission. God is in control. God signs off on everything. But God gives some degree of freedom to the creation. God gives some degree of freedom to humanity and to the natural order. God knows what will happen, but he does not dictate everything that will happen.

There is of course a competing view, the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” There is the Calvinist view that God specifically directs everything that happens. In my view, this makes God the author of evil. It makes the statement that God is love meaningless.

… In all this I remember that death is not so powerful in the face of Christ. Death has no victory over us! In my own journey with the problem of evil and suffering, a key conclusion has been that I give too much credit to death and suffering, as if they are a big deal.

God is a big deal. I am only a big deal because God loves me. My death is only a big deal because I am one of the sparrows God watches over.

So I will take precautions. I will be vigilant. I will heed the advice of experts. I will pray for my leaders. I will pray for others.

But in the end, “The LORD is with me. I will not be afraid what a mortal [or a virus] might do to me.”

Read Dr. Schenck’s three more points at … https://kenschenck.blogspot.com/2020/03/is-covid-19-gods-judgment.html?m=1

SUFFERING & 5 Biblical Reasons Why God Allows Suffering

by Lesli White, BeliefNet, 5/29/19.

… It’s common to wonder if our suffering is God’s Will. People often hold only one view of suffering; however, the Bible does not have one approach to suffering but many.

Here are five biblical reasons why God allows suffering. 

To Prepare Us For the Trials and Complexity of Life

… Scripture tells us, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). In these verses, Paul is referring to multiple types of suffering – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. What makes this experience complex is the fact that when suffering comes, several of these types of suffering are often involved which can take a major toll on our spirit. It’s important that we recognize that suffering is a battleground.

The book of Job offers great insight on the two ways we can choose to respond to suffering. One way is to curse God because of our suffering and the other is to praise God, even in the midst of our suffering.

To See the Magnitude of His Love

When we think of suffering, we often think of God being far away from us. Yet, God will carry us through some of the darkest seasons of our lives to show His incredible love for us. Sometimes the emotional or physical pain of suffering is prolonged. It can continue for weeks, months, even years. This pain can be intense. We may hurt so badly that even those who try to bring comfort feel the pain. If you’re going through a tough time, take heart. The Lord is sovereign and He controls all adversity in our lives. That’s why it’s imperative that when we are going through a time of trial and suffering that we remember how much God loves us. If He allows us to go through pain, suffering and loss, then He has something good He wants us to accomplish.

It Reminds Us of the Reality of Sin

Each of us knows firsthand what it means to suffer as a result of someone else’s sin. We have all been the victims of the evil choices of others. Evil words and actions have left great marks on our hearts, minds and bodies. Because of this, some people will get angry with God, believing He did nothing to stop the sin that unfolded. Yet, none of us is innocent. We too have played the role of sinner, harming others with the choices we make. Sin lurks at each of our doors. We, like Cain must battle our fear, insecurity, shame, resentment and anger. Failing to recognize or master these things often creates suffering for others.

To Help Us Grow in Community

Suffering happens in community and we have a responsibility to be of support and aid to those who are suffering around us. Paul alludes this in Galatians 6:2, when he writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…”

It Allows Us to Minister

The comfort of God that we can extend to others isn’t limited to the church and is not limited to shared experience. Paul writes, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28). Paul’s idea is not that we must suffer the same thing as another person in order to minister the hope and comfort of God. What is needed is an experience of deliverance from affliction, comfort in grief and restoration in brokenness. These experiences remind us of who God is and what He can do. They are a silent testimony of healing and wholeness that enable one to invite God to be present in the pain of another.
Read more at https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/5-biblical-reasons-why-god-allows-suffering.aspx#UK3ER2cFcAEmSMEz.99

SUFFERING & All desire to rejoice with him, few are willing to endure anything for him… #ThomasàKempis

Thomas à Kempis wrote,

Jesus hath . . . many desirous of comfort, but few of tribulation. . . . All desire to rejoice with him, few are willing to endure anything for him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread; but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion. . . . Many love Jesus so long as adversities do not happen. Many praise and bless him, so long as they receive comforts from him.

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Chicago: Moody Publishing, 1980), pp. 114-115.

SOCIAL ACTION

Missio Alliance | The Scandal of the Wesleyan Memory, part 1
by Ken Schenck and Jeremy Summers

http://www.missioalliance.org/the-scandal-of-the-evangelical-memory-part-1-of-4/

LEADERSHIP

Higher status means lower performance when careers go into reverse, study finds

February 4, 2014, Ben Haimowitz

All-stars but not scrubs see performance declines after losing pay arbitrations

How do high-status individuals cope with serious career setbacks? The bigger they are, the harder they fall may be a familiar saying; yet, “the traditional perspective [is] that high-status individuals will be in a better position to deal with status loss and perform well afterwards than low-status individuals,” begins a new research paper by two business-school professors.

The professors then proceed to call this traditional view into question. Yes, high-status individuals may have “more resources than low-status individuals on which to draw,” but they also “experience more self-threat and subsequent difficulty performing well after losing status,” concludes their study in the current issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

http://aom.org/News/Press-Releases/Higher-status-means-lower-performance-when-careers-go-into-reverse,-study-finds.aspx

A video of Bob Whitesel: OUTREACH & How Churches Grow by Transforming People

Bob Whitesel, Oct. 7, 2013, Nashville, TN, keynote at Turnaround2020.com Conference.

http://www.churchcentral.com/videos/TyNuIWlP/Churches-grow-by-transforming-people#.UoA4TwNDleU.twitter

RECOVERY PROGRAMS

The addiction and recovery programs at the Salvation Army are known around the world for transforming thousands of lives. This remarkable short film will show you the liberating power of a new start in life.

http://savn.tv/share/r/531721C56953A

SUFFERING

Why Does God Allow Pain & Suffering?  It’s a difficult question. Probably one of the hardest to answer. The Curiosity Collective brings together thought leaders, authors, philosophers and theologians to explore this difficult question.