Friday, September 28, 2007


Hello, I'm blogging from the concierge desk at the condo complex we're staying at in Breckinridge, Colorado. It is 57 degrees. It has been sunny and beautiful all week, but just clouded over. Lindsey, we went horseback riding yesterday. I know you missed it. :)

Today the women are shopping. I've read some of my Robert Ludlum novel and some of my David Wells book.

It is great to get away to a beautiful place that is cooler (in both ways) than Cowtown.

Tomorrow we head back.

See ya.

Monday, September 24, 2007

1 Samuel 8

8:1-3 The Sinful Sons of Samuel

8:1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

Samuel’s two sons acted as judges also, but they were wicked and did not follow Samuel’s ways. Like Eli’s sons, they were more interested in money and were corrupt. Their corruption caused the Israelites to be dissatisfied with the leadership of judges.

In addition, if you look over in chapter 12, it appears a military confrontation was looming. In that chapter, in verse 12, Samuel speaks of Israel seeing Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, come against them.

8:4-6 Israel Demands a King

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.

Israel still regarded Samuel as the ultimate judge or leader, and as God’s representative. So, they came to him for relief. They do not want to suffer under the leadership of Samuel’s sons, so they demand a king. Notice also that they asked for a king “like all the nations”. They wanted to be like everyone else.

Moses anticipated this demand and set forth the rules for a king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He said:

14 “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

Some would argue that, since Moses said they could have a king if they asked, it was not wrong for them to ask for a king at this time. But, God clearly treats it as wrong, as we will see in the next passage.

I try not to “moralize” the Old Testament stories. I do not think they are there just for us to tell a story with a moral. I believe the Old Testament tells us the story of God’s work of redemption. Still, here, we see the great temptation of the Believer. We often want to be like everyone else.

This is not what God called Israel to do. They were not to be like everyone else, they were to be different, a nation holy to God. In Exodus 19:5-6, God said:

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

They were to be set apart to God, or holy, and, as priests, his representatives to the world. He made a covenant with them to do this, including the law they would live by, and circumcision as a sign of the covenant. He promised to protect them and provide for them as long as they obeyed the covenant.

God calls us, as Believers, to come out of the world and to be different than the world. Paul constantly refers to Believers as those who were called, as in called out of the world and into the kingdom of God. Peter said, in 1 Peter 1:9 :

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Again, in 1 Peter 2:11-12, he said:

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

In 1 Peter 1:14-16 14, he said:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Paul also called for holiness in God’s people. In Ephesians 4:1, he said: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:7, Paul said “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.”

Just as God called Israel out of Egypt to be his people, he has called us out of the world to be his people. We are to be holy and pure, both to please Him who is holy and to witness his holiness to the world.

8:7-9 Rejecting God

7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

Israel’s request for a king was a rejection of God as their king. This idea is repeated in 1 Samuel 12:12. They were seldom able to live as God’s people, obeying him, worshipping him and accepting his protection. From the time God brought them out of Egypt, they had rebelled against his direction, forsaken his worship and conformed to the world around them.

We have also seen previously in this book how Israel has reacted to crises. In the first battle with the Philistines, they brought out the ark as a good luck charm to win the battle, but did not call on the Lord. They were defeated. In the second attack, they called on the Lord and repented and the Lord protected them. Now, they are reverting to their old ways seeking something other than the Lord to protect them. This time it is a king.

So, God is going to give them what they ask for. But it is not a blessing, it is a judgment.

Psalm 118:8-9 says 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. Psalm 146:3 says 3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

8:10-18 Samuel's Warning Against Kings

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

In his grace and forbearance, God instructed Samuel to warn Israel of the burdens of living under an earthly king. Samuel warned them, listing all the things a king would take from them and all the privileges he would demand. Over and over he says “he will take”. That is what kings do. In verse 18, he prophesied that they would cry out for relief from the king, but God would not answer.

8:19-22 The Lord Grants Israel's Request

19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

Israel did not listen to the warning. They demanded a king. Here again you hear them say they want to be like the nations. They want to fit in with the world.

So, God said he would give them a king. My mother used to say “be careful what you ask for; you just might get it.”

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Little Woman and I are taking a few days off and going to Colorado next week. I'm not sure if I'll get Internet access to blog or not, so, if not, you know why. And, if not, I'll have a lot of words to say when I get back.

The Little Woman says, "if men have 30,000 words per day to say, and women have 60,000 words per day, then Larry must have at least 100,000". And, just think, she has listened to this barrage since the early '70s.

Mr. Rogers asks: can you say longsuffering?
Sometimes a politician slips up and tells you exactly what they think. Sometimes what they say should concern you. This might be one of those times.

Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president: "Mexico does not end at its borders."

"Explaining Liberal Thinking In A Single Column" is a great article by John Hawkins at Here is the money quote: It's nothing more than "childlike emotionalism applied to adult issues."

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Prepare for dismay. A study of foster care in Texas reveals the following facts. Nearly 32,500 children experienced foster care in Texas last year. Pick a day and there will be around 20,000 Texas children in foster care. Half of these will spend 2 years in the system. 20 percent will fait over 5 years for a home.

Foster children also move a lot. The average child has at least 3 different foster family placements. Can you imagine trying to adjust to that?

As to adoption, there are 118,000 foster children right now waiting to be adopted. Unfortunately, however, 19,000 of them will "age out" before they get adopted. Due to the moves, abuse and problems, they are often no where near ready to be out on their own. Many have not graduated from high school. About a third of them have significant emotional\mental problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and depression.

How do they fare? Not well. One fourth will land in jail within 2 years. One fifth will come homeless at some point. Let's do the calculations. If 19,000 age out this year and one fourth end up in jail, that is 4750 young people in jail or prison. If one fifth become homeless at some point, that is 3,800 young people living on the street. This happens year after year. Yikes.

Texas courts are trying to deal with this situation to help, but it is overwhelming. It sounds to me like a place the church could step in and help.

Monday, September 17, 2007

John The Baptist

John McCain, Republican presidential candidate, says he is a Baptist and has been for years. McCain was “on the stump” in South Carolina when he said this. South Carolina has lots of Baptists.

McCain was raised as an Episcopalian. He has previously called himself an Episcopalian. You might expect this since he grew up in Virginia, which once required you to be one. He attended an Episcopal high school.

McCain said he and his family are members of the North Phoenix Baptist Church and have been for more than 15 years. He said "It's well known because I'm an active member of the church". However, McCain also said, in an earlier interview, his wife and two of their children were baptized in the church, but he had not been.

Therein lies the problem. The thing that makes a Baptist a Baptist is that he or she is baptized after professing faith in Christ. Episcopalians, and others, are infant baptizers. They baptize infants that are born to families that are members of the church. Baptists, on the other hand, do not baptize infants, they baptize those who make a profession of faith.

So, if McCain has only received infant baptism in the Episcopalian church, and not baptism as a believer, he is not a Baptist. He may attend a Baptist church, but he is not a Baptist and I am hard pressed to believe North Phoenix Baptist Church would list him as a member.

To make it worse, McCain does not have a proper understanding of baptism. He gave as his reason for not being baptized in the North Phoenix church the following: "I didn't find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs". That sounds quintessentially American and modern, but it is irrelevant. You do not get baptized to meet your perceived spiritual needs. You get baptized because Christ commanded it and because it shows you to be a member of the church. The church is responsible for this, as Jesus told us in Matthew 28 to baptize disciples. Since Christ commanded it, it does meet your spiritual need, even if you do not recognize it.

The website for North Phoenix says this about baptism: “In Scripture, baptism followed the decision of a person to surrender one's self to God for salvation in Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we announce our commitment to the church and our desire to live a life following the example of Jesus Christ.” They stop short of listed it as commanded or necessary, which would be a nice addition.

It appears that religion is perceived as an issue in this campaign, and all the candidates are trying to establish religious connections that are appealing. I’m not sure being a Baptist is appealing outside the South. I’m glad McCain is attending a Baptist church, but I wish his pastor would give him a little dissertation on what being a Baptist means.
"If there's anything in life we should be passionate about, it's the gospel. And I don't mean passionate only about sharing it with others; I mean passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life" Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney, page 15.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Praise him! praise him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O earth, his wonderful love proclaim!
Hail him! hail him! highest archangels in glory;
Strength and honor give to his holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard his children,
In his arms he carries them all day long:

Praise him! praise him! tell of his excellent greatness,
Praise him! praise him! ever in joyful song!

Praise him! praise him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
For our sins he suffered and bled and died;
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail him! hail him! Jesus the crucified.
Sound his praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong:

Praise him! praise him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Heav'nly portals loud with hosannas ring!
Jesus, Saviour, reigneth for ever and ever;
Crown him! crown him! Prophet and Priest and King!
Christ is coming! Over the world victorious,
Power and glory unto the Lord belong:
1 Samuel 7

7:1-2 Israel’s Lament

7:1 And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2 From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

At the request of the men of Beth-Shemesh, the men of Kiriath-jearim came and got the ark and took it to the house of Abinadab, which was on a hill. They set aside, or consecrated, his son Eleazar to take care of the ark. The reference to 20 years in verse 2 is probably not referring to how long the ark was there, because it was apparently much longer (40 years), but it was there about 20 years before the events of this chapter happen under Samuel. It’s not clear to me if they lamented for 20 years or if they only started to lament after the end of 20 years. (Kiriath-jearim was also known as Baalah, in Joshua 9, and kiriath-baal in Joshua 15). It is in the tribal allotment of Judah (Joshua 18:14), but was then apportioned out of Judah for the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28). It was one of the Gibeonite cities that was not destroyed because Israel was tricked into making a treaty with them. Psalm 132:6 refers to David retrieving the ark from this city.

Israel lamented after the Lord during this time. “Lament” means to feel or express sorrow or regret for something, or to mourn for or over. I take this to mean that Israel regretted their loss of the Lord’s favor, signified by the loss of the ark. From what happens next, it appears there was still conflict and oppression from the Philistines. The Geneva Study Bible says they lamented for their sins, and followed the Lord. It was a time of conviction and repentance.

Interestingly, no reference is made to Shiloh or to the reason the ark was not returned there.

7:3-4 Samuel Calls Israel To Abandon Idol Worship

3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

In response to this time of sorrow and repentance, Samuel gave instruction to Israel on how to proceed. He began to preach that they must put away their idols. (He may have been preaching this the whole 20 years and they just now responded.) They had absorbed the worship of the Canaanite deities into their practice, building idols to Baal and Ashtaroth. They were violating the law of the covenant in two ways, first, having other gods besides the LORD, and making images. In Deuteronomy 4:23-24, Moses told the Israelites “Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

Samuel told the Israelites to serve the Lord only and to direct their hearts to him. In Deuteronomy 6:5, Moses had told them “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” We see continually that the prophets preached the law and urged God’s people to return to obedience to him and his covenant and to love him totally. Jesus said the same thing. He said this was the most important commandment, in Mark 12:30. He said to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Jesus also put it this way: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38 NIV).

Samuel said, when you love him totally and serve him, when you demonstrate this by putting away all false gods and idols, then the Lord would deliver them from the Philistines. So, the Israelites did this. They put away all their idols and they served the Lord fully and completely. This was a great revival. Repentance requires sorrow. Jesus even said “blessed are those who mourn”. (Matthew 5:4)

But, repentance also requires more than sorrow. It requires turning away from your sin. Israel did this by turning from their idols.

7:5-6 The Outdoor Revival Service

5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.

In light of the repentance of the Israelites, Samuel gathered them together to intercede for them with the Lord. This has to remind you of Moses, who often interceded for Israel with the Lord.

The people gathered. They fasted, they acknowledged their sin and showed their repentance by pouring out water before the Lord. This passage seems to be the only place this was done.

Samuel judged them there. He has acted as prophet, preaching the word of the Lord. He has acted as priest, interceding for them with the Lord. Now he acts as judge, or king, in judging them. He is a type of the three-fold office of Christ, who is prophet, priest and king.

7:7-8 The Saints Under Attack

7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”

While this great outdoor revival was taking place, the Philistines heard about it. They assumed the Israelites had massed for an attack, so they went up to fight. The Israelites were not prepared for battle and were afraid. They called out to Samuel to ask the Lord to save them. This is a great improvement from their previous actions. They are afraid, but they are calling out to the Lord for protection, not using the ark as a talisman.

7:9-11 The Lord Responds

9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.

Samuel prayed for the protection of the Israelites. He offered a sacrifice to the Lord. He cried out to him. The Lord answered.

There is great drama here. The Philistines drew up to attack even while Samuel offered the burnt offering. The Lord thundered out a loud sound and threw them into confusion. They ran from Israel, and the Israelites went after them and struck them as they ran. It was their first victory of the Philistines in decades. You might remember that, in Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:10, she said the Lord would thunder against his adversaries.

This is also similar to the book of Judges, where there was this continual cycle of rebellion or apostasy, oppression, repentance and deliverance.

7:12-14 Raising the Ebenezer

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen [1] and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

To commemorate the victory, Samuel set up a stone as a monument. Ebenezer means stone of help. It was a monument to the help the Lord gave the Israelites.

This is where the words to the hymn “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson come from, when it says in the second verse:

here I raise my Ebenezer,
hither by thy help I’m come.
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home”.

Not only did God give them the protection they asked for, he gave much more, bringing them dominance over the Philistines during the life of Samuel, even restoring cities and territory they had lost to them. They also had peace with the Amorites. When Israel lived in obedience to the covenant, God gave them peace and safety in the land.

7:15-17 Samuel the Judge

15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

Samuel was a circuit rider, judging Israel in four different towns. We are not told what this judging was. But, it must have entailed preaching God’s word and reproving those who did not keep it. He also built an altar in the town in which he lived and offered sacrifices there to the Lord.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

John MacArthur on yoga.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


A friend at work found a picture of Castro celebrating with another communist leader at a big parade. Then, he noticed something really humorous. Castro and the other communist leader are riding in a Cadillac convertible! Isn't the Cadillac the ultimate symbol of American capitalism and supposed decadence?

I'll be, in private, Castro dances and sings to Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac".
Wade Burleson has a good report on the International Mission Board trustees meeting. It is interesting to see how much Southern Baptist Leaders are bothered by blogging. Even though Baptist polity calls for a congregational approach, and a democratic approach, Southern Baptist leaders have fallen prey to the attitude of most institutional bureaucrats: they are as interested in preserving power than they are in serving their consituents.

Most Baptist agencies and boards meet in secret and it is difficult to find out how and why they made their decisions. If you ask a trustee, they won't tell you anything. It is difficult for the average person to find any information. Actually, it is that way in many churches. The staff ususally presents a big item at the least attended meeting, then votes in the service or a big meeting with no discussion allowed.

Southern Bapstist pastors, who run the convention, would likely be shocked to find out that a huge percentage of Southern Baptists don't care a bit what these guys do in their meetings. This is not a good thing. It is a sign of distrust. That is why many of their pleas for money and support fall on deaf ears.

If convention leaders really want the rank and file to be invested in the convention activities, they will need to open up and allow people to see how and why they do what they do. If they don't, they can continue as they are doing until all the old folks that blindly follow them die off.

Then, the last one there can turn out the lights and go home by himself.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ann Althouse has posted pictures of Manhattan for today.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tom Ascol agrees with me on Olson's article and lack of belief in God's sovereignty.


Thursday, September 06, 2007


A published research study found that the modal range for total number of sexual partners of homosexuals was 101-500.

From 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent of homosexuals had between 501 and 1,000 partners.

From 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent of homosexuals had more than one thousand sexual partners.

Here is a great satirical post on San Francisco banning marriage.
Dr. Mohler has written a nice tribute to D. James Kennedy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Roger Olson wrote an article called “Calvinist view of bridge collapse distorts God's character”. Dr. Olson is a professor of theology in George W. Truett Theological Seminary located at Baylor University. After reading this article, I know I won’t be going there.

Olson began his article with the question: “Where was God several weeks ago when the interstate bridge collapsed in Minneapolis?” He never answered that question, but the implied answer is “nowhere”. Olson does not believe God was involved, and, indeed, that God is limited and, therefore, cannot be involved.

The point of the article is that Olson disagrees with John Piper, Calvinism, Determinism and an all powerful God. That kind of God is not nice enough for him, so he rejects him. Olson writes:

"But wait. What about God's character? Is God, then, the author of evil? Most Calvinists don't want to say it. But logic seems to demand it. If God plans something and renders it certain, how is he not culpable for it? Here is where things get murky."

Well, what about God’s character? Olson does not say much about it. What does the Bible tell us? It tells us God does indeed use disasters, wars, the devil and evil people to accomplish his will. And, yes, that makes him responsible for it and most Calvinists would actually say that. Let’s review.

God created a beautiful angel named Lucifer, although he knew Lucifer would reject him and spend this age defying God, corrupting his creation and generally, yes, being evil. This evil would cause all kinds of heartache, suffering and problems for the human race. Yet, God created him anyway and gave him a certain amount of freedom to be evil and do evil things.

God created man and woman, knowing they would reject him and spend this age defying him, corrupting his creation and being evil, unless redeemed by the sacrifice of his son.

God sent Israel into slavery in Egypt for 400 years. He drowned a bunch of Egyptians in the sea. He opened the earth to swallow a bunch of Israelites. He told the Israelites to kill Achan and all his family. He destroyed the earth by a flood that killed lots of people. He, numerous times, had the Israelites oppressed by their enemies, killed by the thousands and tens of thousands and sent into captivity. He sent plagues and fire that killed his chosen people. He caused famines. He had Jerusalem and most of Israel destroyed by the Romans, including his own temple, and sent his people into the four corners of the earth. He has promised to bring all kinds of plagues and disasters on the earth at the end of this age, according to Revelation. At the very end, he will cast all who do not believe in him into a lake of burning fire.

Why did he do all this? It was usually judgment. So, part of his character is holiness that he will not suffer to be profaned, including righteous judgment on all those who do profane it. We know that he is just and righteous, because Scripture tells us so, so we know all his acts were just and righteous, and so was the fall of the bridge you are worried about. God declares that he does not change (Malachi 3:6), so why is it so hard for you to believe that the God who previously brought judgment on all kinds of people, including his chosen people, would do it again?

Olson also remarkably refrains from quoting or citing a single verse of scripture to back up his claims. For example, he says “the Bible expressly forbids doing evil for the sake of good.” Where does it say that? In fact, does Samuel not tell his brothers that what was done to him was intended by them as evil to harm him but God meant it (the evil) for good? (Genesis 50:20). This was a man who was stripped, put in a pit, sold into slavery and put in prison several times. God meant it to happen because he had a plan to take care of Jacob and his sons through Joseph. (Psalm 105:17)

Olson also says “What if God is in charge but not in control?” He means God could control things but chooses not to. That, my friend, is not Christianity, but Deism, the idea that God made us then sat back to see what happens. Besides, again, the Bible tells us God is in control. Daniel 4:17 says the Lord rules the kingdoms of men. Daniel 4:35 says he does according to his will. He works all things according to the counsel of his will according to Ephesians 1:11. He says not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from him (Matthew 10:29).

What about the book of Job? God allowed horrible things to happen to Job, accomplished by Lucifer, to show Job’s steadfastness and God’s glory. Who said God would only allow nice things to happen to any of us? It was certainly not Job. He said the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21).

Ultimately, you have to look at God’s own son. He caused horrible things to happen to him for our good. He was beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, whipped and crucified to death. How did that happen? Was God sitting up in heaven wringing his hands hoping it would not happen? No, he preordained it to happen and it did. Peter said “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God…” (Acts 2:23).

Olson really does see God as limited, rather than omnipotent. He says:

"And God says, "Pray because sometimes I can intervene to stop innocent suffering when people pray; that's one of my self-limitations. I don't want to do it all myself; I want your involvement and partnership in making this a better world." "

Does God really say “sometimes I can”, meaning sometimes, dude, my hands are tied and I’m not omnipotent, I’m impotent. Again, Olson cites no scripture for this proposition, and, indeed, there is none. The problem is, Olson does not like the God who clearly revealed himself in the Scriptures. The God of Scripture is uncomfortable for his Arminian and man-centered sensibilities. But, we are not given the privilege of redefining God. We cannot put Barbie clothes on God because he is not pretty enough for us. That is idolatry. We can have no other gods besides the God of scripture.

Olson says he cannot distinguish the “God of Calvinism” from the devil. This is an incredible insult to all who believe in God’s omnipotence, and to God himself. Olson sounds like the Pharisees attributing the miracles of Christ to the devil. The reason he cannot distinguish them is that he refuses to recognize that God is the one with the power. Satan can only act where God allows, as the book of Job teaches us. In addition 1 John 4:1 tells us the believer can test the spirits and ascertain what is from God.

Finally, Olson says “The God of Calvinism scares me”. He should. The God of the Bible should scare you. He tells you to be scared of him. If you would be scared of him, you would learn something. Proverbs 1:7 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

Christ has given us the wonderful opportunity to be at peace with God. Paul told us we, as sinners, were objects of God’s wrath. He has wrath because he does not tolerate sin. Wrath is an ugly, forceful word. Believers escape that wrath and experience his love. But, that does not change God’s character. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And he is not limited.