A Tolerant Intolerant God

Tolerance is a hot topic today, in the news, on the streets, in the schools, in the workplace and even in church. But what, exactly, does tolerance mean? Is our God a tolerant God? And as Christians, towards what or whom are we to have tolerance?

The dictionary defines Tolerance as:  The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring.

To me, the defining term “enduring” means “to put up with”, as in I am enduring chronic pain and fatigue.

If  “putting up with” is a correct understanding, then I would say that yes, God is indeed a tolerant God. He, in His great mercy,  has certainly been “putting up with” humanity’s foolishness, selfishness, hard-heartedness, and wickedness. A big “BUT” is added here though because while God has been, and continues to be, very tolerant, He is only tolerant up to a point. And He will only remain tolerant for a little while longer before He releases His judgment and righteous wrath upon unrepentant mankind.

If you still don’t believe that God is tolerant, the following terms are synonymous with the word “enduring”:

ageless, continuing, dateless, abiding, eternal, everlasting, immortal, imperishable, lasting, ongoing, perennial, perpetual, timeless, undying

Along with the following related words:

ceaseless, endless, permanent, changeless, constant, stable, stationary, steady, unchanging, unwavering

If you read the Bible, you will notice that most of the above terms have been used to describe the character and person of God.

Deu 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Gen 21:33 And Abraham planted a tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Jehovah, the everlasting God.

Exo 34:6 And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Exo 34:7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us…

Another definition of tolerance is: capacity to endure pain or hardship :  endurance, fortitude, stamina

I am sure that God endured emotional pain and hardship when He watched His Son, Jesus Christ, tortured and hung on a cross. And, I think God endures emotional pain and hardship when He watches His beloved creation, Mankind, make wrong and harmful choices over and over again.

Jesus Christ certainly endured pain and hardship during the entire episode of His trial and execution.

Isa 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed.

As the Son of God, Jesus had the Kingdom of God at his command yet he chose to tolerate and endure, with fortitude and stamina, what Man did to him, for the sake of Mankind.

Mat 26:39 And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.

Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Having looked at the definition of tolerance and tolerant, along with Scripture, I do believe that God is a tolerant God.

HOWEVER, as I stated earlier, I also believe that God’s tolerance can only go so far. Because He is holy and His very character is righteousness and justice, He can not tolerate disobedience, sinfulness, wickedness, evil, injustice and unrighteousness to continue in Creation. God must, and will, put an end to all evil.

To tolerate evil is to deny justice. God unleashes his full wrath on evil because he’s good. If good tolerated evil, it would cease to be good. Refusal to tolerate sin, then, is an essential part of loving others well.” (Melissa Kruger, The Gospel Coalition)

That He has tolerated it for so long, so that His plan of eternal salvation may be available to as many as who will accept it, shows His great love and mercy.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, …

Rom 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

It is very interesting to note that the terms “tolerant” and “tolerance” are not to be found in the Bible. Perhaps that is because God knew that Mankind would misunderstand and misappropriate their meanings; that Man would use them to mean that we are to accept whatever way in which someone chooses to live their life. I often hear the following phrases, “whatever floats your boat”, “whatever makes you happy”, “different strokes for different folks”, “as long as it isn’t hurting anyone”, etc., etc.

God does NOT say “Whatever you want to do, however you want to live your life, is okay by me”.

God does say:

1Co 10:31 Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Php 4:8 Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.

There are things of which God is intolerant.

God is intolerant of sin and evil.

Isa 1:4 Woe, sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, sons who corrupt! They have forsaken Jehovah; they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger; they have gone away backward. 

Isa 1:16 Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil;

God is intolerant of wickedness.

Deu 28:20 Jehovah shall send on you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings by which you have forsaken Me. 

God is intolerant of the worship of other/false gods.

Exo 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me

Exo 34:14 For you shall worship no other god. For Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

God is intolerant of hypocrisy.

Mat 23:25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and excess.

God is intolerant of greediness and selfishness.

Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should not walk from now on as other nations walk, in the vanity of their mind,…

Eph 4:19 For they, being past feeling, have given themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Luk 9:23, 24 And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, …

God is intolerant of injustice.

Eze 18:24 But when the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked do, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be remembered; in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them he shall die

2Pe 2:9 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished,

God is intolerant of unrighteousness.

Deu 25:16 For all that do such things, all that do unrighteousness, are hateful to Jehovah your God

Because God is loving and merciful, He has tolerated the ongoing sinfulness of unrepentant Mankind. God wants to give as much time as He can to as many people as possible to accept His plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. But God also knows that there will come a time when it will no longer be possible for Him to allow the wickedness to continue, and so He will destroy all who practice evil and wickedness.

2Th 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming, …

Rev 11:18 And the nations were full of wrath, and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth. 

So what does this mean for Christians? How are we to respond to the topic of tolerance as it is viewed by the world today?

The Apostle Paul was led by holy spirit to write some very good advice in the Book of Romans.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

Rom 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good;
Rom 12:10 in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honor.
Rom 12:11 As to diligence, not slothful, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Rom 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in affliction, steadfastly continuing in prayer,
Rom 12:13 distributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality.
Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with rejoicing ones, and weep with weeping ones;
Rom 12:16 minding the same thing toward one another, not minding high things, but yielding to the lowly. Do not be wise within yourselves.
Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Rom 12:18 If it is possible, as far as is in you, being in peace with all men.
Rom 12:19 not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Rom 12:20 Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, give him drink. For in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.
Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

I think that Melissa Kruger summarized the issue well when she wrote about Christians and tolerance:

Loving people well doesn’t mean we must embrace the choices they make. It means we openly welcome and embrace all who come into our lives with a heart of understanding and the message and hope of the gospel. We love people well when we call them out of sin into relationship with King Jesus. It may not be the world’s definition of tolerance, but it’s the truest way to love.”

Dear God, help me to be as tolerantly intolerant as You.

Blessings

Bubble Wrap

Pro 18:10 The name of Jehovah is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. 

Thursday evening I was sitting in the church’s balcony enjoying a concert by The City Harmonic when my cellphone vibrated. It was my eldest son calling to tell me that he had just been in a car accident. (This kid can’t catch a break!) He was driving home from work, came around a blind corner and ran over a boulder that was lying in the middle of the road. (FYI – a boulder is defined as a rock over 10 inches in diameter.) Well, this particular hunk of rock was big enough to take out the transmission, fluid lines and oil pan. And he had only bought the car a month ago!

He told me that he was not injured, just badly shaken up and angry. I spent the remainder of the concert close to tears – both because his life just seems to be one crisis after another and because I was rejoicing that God had protected my son from harm.

I don’t know about you, but as a mother of two boys, there have been sooooo many times where I wished that I could have wrapped my boys up in thick layers of bubble wrap before I sent them out of the house! And that feeling hasn’t changed even though they are both men now!

Image result for bubble wrap girl

My youngest son, whom I nicknamed “Dennis the Menace” was constantly finding new ways to turn my hair prematurely grey. One time when we were ice fishing, he and his brother were exploring a small island in the middle of the lake when he slipped on the rounded, icy edge of a cliff ( I could hear the “swish-zing” of the snowsuit along the ice). I watched, as if in slow motion, while his little body dropped down towards the jumble of boulders at the bottom. Blessedly, he hit the branch of a young pine which basically stopped his rapid descent. He escaped serious injury and only ended up with a bloody nose, a great goose egg on his head, and a slight concussion.

When “Dennis” was a teenager, he tripped and fell through a glass door impaling his upper arms. That little dance with danger led to over 80 stitches! Had he not gotten his arms up to protect himself as he fell, he would have impaled his chest and neck!

My oldest son is a carpenter. He has had “close encounters” with an air nailer on at least 3 occasions – once through his foot, another through his knee and yet another through his lip (don’t ask me how he managed that one!!)

These are only a few examples of the hair raising (and greying) “adventures” that my sons have put me through.

So you will understand when I tell you that I absolutely believe in praying for God’s protection upon my loved ones.

God has wrapped me and my loved ones in His own special brand of bubble wrap on more occasions than I can remember.

I always prayer for protection before we go on any road trip. One day my sister was driving us in the city. I bowed my head to pray and she asked “are we taking someone else with us?” and I replied, “Yes, I never leave home without Him.”

There have been so many times when loved ones have said to me “you won’t believe what almost happened to me” or “wow – someone up there must be watching over me because …”. There has even been a few times when I have heard them say that there was NO POSSIBLE WAY that they could have escaped. I always tell them that I have asked God to watch over them, protect them and keep them safe. Yes, sometimes there have been injuries, but they have been minor in comparison to what could have happened.

I know, that I know, that I know that God enfolds us in His hands of protection and sends His ministering angels to stand guard over us.

Luk 4:10 For it is written, “He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You;

I give God eternal thanks, praise and glory for wrapping me and my loved ones in His very special brand of bubble wrap.

2Ti 1:12 … For I have knowledge of him in whom I have faith, and I am certain that he is able to keep that which I have given into his care till that day. (BBE)

Blessings

(Photo credit : Mary Victrix)

 

Stayin’ Alive at 55!

Johnny 5 is alive!” (Short Circuit)

I am having a “celebrate me” day today. That may sound arrogant and self-serving, but I think that even my Heavenly Father, my Lord Jesus, and the angels are celebrating along with me. You see, they know what I have been through and the fact that I have been able to reach this small hallmark of a day is an accomplishment and a cause for celebration.

My life could have ended in the womb before it had even really begun. My Mom was a young, unwed, pregnant teen at a time when that was NOT acceptable. So thanks Mom for deciding to choose me over society’s viewpoint and foregoing a visit to a back room abortionist.

As a young girl, I escaped an attempted abduction/assault by a strange young man and by the grace of God, avoided becoming another rape or missing person statistic.

I have overcome at least three times in my life when anxiety, depression and despair brought me to the brink of suicide.

I have survived bladder cancer.

Although life was really rough at times (and still has its challenges), I am glad that I am still here.

I get to be a great wife to a wonderful man.

I am able to be a blessing to my Mom.

I am around to be the ear to bend and the shoulder to cry on when my oldest son needs a somewhat “sane” sounding board when he is going through yet another crisis.

I get to cuddle my beautiful granddaughters and hopefully pass on to them an inheritance of faith in Jesus Christ.

I can pray for my loved ones; especially those who are not yet saved.

I can offer a hug of comfort to a hurting friend.

I am able to share the love of God with others.

And I can share what I have learned about the truth of the Word of God.

Doing good holds the power to transform us on the inside, and then ripple out in ever-expanding circles that positively impact the world at large.” Shari Arison

So today, I not only celebrate my having reached another milestone in life, I also give thanks and praise to God for being with me through all of my life’s ups and downs; for carrying me when I couldn’t go on; for encouraging me, comforting me, supporting me, strengthening me, guiding me, and loving me.

 

The Hard Work of Forgiveness

A good message from a fellow Christian blogger.

Mitch Teemley

My new film Over-the-Rhine, whichhas its world premiere in Orlando next month, is about forgiveness. So the subject is very much on my mind.

OTR Poster2aHow do you forgive the unforgiveable? To begin with, you have to remember that, while there are unforgiveable acts, there are no unforgiveable people. Yes, tragically, a few souls have “seared consciences” (1 Timothy 4:2) and can no longer discern good from evil. But it is not possible—or necessary—for us to know for certain who those people are. It is possible—and necessary—for us to forgive. (Luke 6:37)

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

So, how do we forgive? To begin with, we stop trying to feel like we do, and do the hard work of raw forgiveness. “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor,” C.S. Lewis says, simply “act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find…

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Pomp and Circumstance

Dictionary.com defines the idiom “pomp and circumstance” as “a splendid celebration with ceremony and fuss”.

This past Easter Sunday I attended an Easter Service full of pomp and circumstance at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Burlington, Ontario with my wonderful sister-in-law and her equally wonderful hubby. They are regular parishioners of that church and have been very involved with its function. Since I don’t attend church very often in my own town, I do like to go with them on special occasions.

St. Luke’s is the oldest church in Burlington having been established in 1834 and built on land given to them by Chief Joseph Brant. It is the quintessential white clapboard church with a steeple situated on a plot of land among large, ancient trees. It truly is picture postcard pretty.

Image result for st. luke's anglican church burlington

Inside, the church is lined from floor to ceiling with thin wood planks that have turned to a deep, mellow, satiny,  rust brown over the past 183 years. Matching wooden beams gracefully arch overhead and draw your eye upwards. The dark wood walls are graced with beautiful stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible and some church Saints. The church is also blessed with a wonderful pipe organ whose pipes are painted red, white and blue.

Image result for st. luke's anglican church burlington

The ledges along the walls were decorated with lovely cyclamen plants in soft pastels and in one front corner there was a profusion of beautiful blooms in Spring colours. After the service, the pretty plants were going to be delivered to shut-ins in hopes of brightening up their day and letting them know that God loves them.

I am not used to attending a church where there is a lot of traditional ceremony involved in the service. There was a long processional with many people wearing different gowns with various colours and symbols. I think they are called vestments and clerical gowns. There was someone carrying a banner, another person carried a large brass (?) cross, some were carrying long candlesticks while others were carrying staffs of some sort and a young girl held aloft what looked like a fancy binder with Bible readings. It was all carried out very solemnly.

I was prepared to hear a somewhat staunch sermon but the Rector shared an amusing and down to earth message about the similarity between a roller coaster ride and the ups and downs of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. The youth pastor also gave a good lesson to the little ones using chocolate eggs and helium balloons with “He Is Risen” cards attached to their strings. (Unfortunately, the helium was a little tired by then and the balloons had difficulty “rising” to the occasion – lol!)

Worship was composed of older hymns, many of which I was unfamiliar with. However, as a special part of the Easter celebration, we were treated to wonderful accompaniment by a brass band. My two favourite hymns of that day were sung to the glorious ringing of a wide assortment of hand-bells brought in by the parishioners. The church rafters truly “rang” with praise for our risen Saviour!

The service was truly a “splendid celebration with ceremony and fuss” all for the glory of the Lord.

As we were leaving the church, the sun shone through the beautiful, yellow, circular stained glass window at the peak of the roof bathing us all in a shaft of golden light. It felt like God was smiling down on us from Heaven.

I find it interesting to see how other Christians choose to worship God. While its not my personal worship style, I know that many believers find comfort in a more traditional, formal style of liturgy and litany. I don’t think that “form” matters as much to God as does how we truly relate to Him and to one another.

I believe that unity in both faith and relationship is what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote to the church at Ephesus:

Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling with which you are called,
Eph 4:2 with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love,
Eph 4:3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Blessings

(Photos courtesy of Burlington Cultural Mapping)

Fait Accompli

Cross, Religious, Christ, Sky, France

 

“Fait accompli” is a French expression meaning, an accomplished fact; a thing already done.
The Christian Easter is a celebration of a “fait accompli”  – God’s plan for salvation and redemption through faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of God’s son, Jesus Christ.

God had this plan for salvation through faith in Jesus, from the very beginning.

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.

2Th 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,

1Jn 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life,

1Jn 2:14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.

When Jesus, in obedience to God, died on the cross for us, the war against the devil, sin and death was won.

Joh 19:28 After this, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, I thirst.
Joh 19:29 Then a vessel full of vinegar was set. And they filled a sponge with sour wine and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth.
Joh 19:30 Then when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished! And He bowed His head and gave up the spirit.

Jesus, knowing that He had accomplished God’s will and plan for salvation, said, “It is finished!” – fait accompli!

The enemy will not acknowledge that he has lost the war so he continues to fight a losing battle. The devil fights a battle whose outcome has already been decided – it is a “fait accompli”.

I find it very interesting to note that the example given in Dictionary.com for the term “fait accompli” is as follows:

“The enemy’s defeat was a fait accompli long before the formal surrender.”

Even the dictionary acknowledges the truth that our enemy will not!

I pray that you also will acknowledge God’s masterful “fait accompli”.

Wishing you all a blessed Easter.

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Joh 17:4 I have glorified You upon the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
Joh 17:5 And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

A Love that Lets Go

Some wise insights from a lovely young woman.

BeautyBeyondBones

I’ve spent a lot of time recently in my own head. Today marks the three month mark since my mom’s stroke, and there have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs.

And I’m learning a lot.

And honestly, I’m learning a lot about God’s love for us.

We’ve reached the stage in my mom’s recovery where…there’s a frustration within her about how things aren’t back to normal. And a gripping desperation for autonomy.

And I’m going to be really honest, being in my position, as her grown daughter, having come home to be her “sidekick” as I call it – there’s a really delicate balance of how much help is too much help. I want to assist her so that life runs smoothly, but I don’t want her to feel like a child or that I’m belitting her or discrediting her capabilities or contributions. And I’m finding…

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