Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Hymn of Thanksgiving

"Now Thank We All Our God" is a hymn we sung in church this morning; unfortunately, it is one that typically just gets sung around late November.  It is, however, a great hymn with a great story behind it.  From the Cyber Hymnal website:

Rinkart, a Lu­ther­an min­is­ter, was in Eil­en­burg, Sax­o­ny, dur­ing the Thir­ty Years’ War. The walled ci­ty of Eil­en­burg saw a stea­dy stream of re­fu­gees pour through its gates. The Swed­ish ar­my sur­round­ed the ci­ty, and fa­mine and plague were ramp­ant. Eight hund­red homes were de­stroyed, and the peo­ple be­gan to per­ish. There was a tre­men­dous strain on the pas­tors who had to con­duct do­zens of fun­er­als dai­ly. Fi­nal­ly, the pas­tors, too, suc­cumbed, and Rink­art was the on­ly one left—doing 50 fun­er­als a day. When the Swedes de­mand­ed a huge ran­som, Rink­art left the safe­ty of the walls to plead for mer­cy. The Swed­ish com­mand­er, im­pressed by his faith and cour­age, low­ered his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the Thir­ty Years’ War end­ed, and Rinkart wrote this hymn for a grand cel­e­bra­tion ser­vice. It is a test­a­ment to his faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude to­ward God.

Here are the words to the three stanzas of the hymn:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.


O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!


All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Excellent Perspective on Israel

I am on an email list from Shalom Ministries, a NYC-based ministry to bring the good news of Christ to the Jewish people.  Craig Hartman, its founder, sent out an email last evening regarding the situation in Israel.  I am copying it here.


Greetings friends,

By now you all have, no doubt, heard about the barrage of rockets being launched against Israel from the Palestinian-controlled territories. For those of you who follow us on Facebook, you already are receiving frequent updates on what is happening through that resource. Many news outlets are covering the violence. Too much is happening to try to review it all here, but all believers should track what is happening.

In light of these events, I wanted to share a few thoughts as we watch the matter unfold together. It should be noted that within the last week over 600 rockets have been launched against Israel. This barrage is different than ones in the past because of the number of rockets within such a short period of time and especially because of the locations where the rockets are landing. Now, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem neighborhoods are being hit as well as the areas in the south near Gaza. That is new. Many of the rockets are being intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome, but sadly a number have hit, and there have been a few deaths of innocent civilians. Amazingly, some in the world community are blaming Israel and labeling her defensive actions as aggression. America has condemned the attacks and expressed Israel's right to defend herself. The recent actions are very bold, without any pretense, to the point that Hamas is actually tweeting its actions and intended targets. It is a very tense and sad time for the people of Israel and a matter of great concern for all of us who love the people and the land.

In addition to tracking the news in the region, we are also in contact with friends there. Israelis are a tough people and have a great attitude even in these times. I received an e-mail from an unsaved friend, who lives in southern Israel. He wrote from his bunker and was matter of fact about the realities of their situation. He also expressed that he was looking forward to when we are back in Israel to visit him. I have spoken with another friend in Tel Aviv, who told me that the people there are encouraging each other to celebrate their lives in the land in spite of the difficulties, and that many entertainment and other public facilities and gathering places were removing all charges for attendance. The theaters were full last night. The spirit of life and strength is always demonstrated by the Israeli people. They will not be intimidated by terror.

The timing of all of this is rather interesting in that it all started just two days after the US election, and there is a new election coming in Israel in just a couple of months. Further, the Palestinian Authority has recently reiterated its intention to raise its status at the United Nations. Interesting indeed. I am not speculating here, just noting the fascinating timing of it all. In any event, we must not be surprised by any of this, and we must remember that God is still on the throne. We know that Israel will not be destroyed (Jeremiah 31), and we know that a far worse time will be experienced by her and the entire world during the Seventieth Week of Daniel. Perhaps these current events can cause us to remember the terrible events that are yet to come in the future and motivate us to reach out to the very dark world around us before it is too late.

As Israelis celebrate the Sabbath, we should all be praying for Israel, Jerusalem, and the Jewish people. We should be praying for the salvation of Palestinian people. Their only hope is the Lord, and He is the only cure for the evil that consumes their leaders.

I also want to suggest that the attitude of the Israelis at this time should challenge us all about how we respond to living in the midst of constant attack. I have been challenged to celebrate light and life in the midst of the darkness and hatred around me.

I can only imagine that times will become more and more difficult for people throughout the world, and we know Israel will be at the center of it all. The Bible is very clear about that. My heart is aching for my people, and I am having difficulty on a personal level just hearing what is happening and the reaction of some in the world community. Please join with us in lifting up sacrifices of praise to the Lord and heartfelt prayers for the people throughout the Middle East. Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for our country. This is also a test for America. These are perilous times indeed, and we must hold each other up as the day approaches.

Blessings,

Craig Hartman

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Biennial Olympic Rant

Every two years we get to observe the Olympic games; now we're in the middle of the Summer Olympics.  For the most part, they are quite enjoyable.  The opening ceremonies, with the parade of athletes (ever wonder if any of those people from Montenegro will medal?), is usually memorable, if perhaps a bit esoteric.  And the British did a good job this year.

But I cannot help but think that some of these Olympics events should be removed from future games.  Let me review my criteria for something which should be part of the Summer games (similar criteria apply to the Winter games):

1.  Only sports which can be measured by strictly objective, quantitative criteria should be included.  Events which require judges to "score" the events should be removed. 

Quantitative criteria are things like time (e.g., track and swimming races), distance (shot put, javelin), mass (weightlifting), or some clearly defined scoring system (basketball, soccer).  Events like gymnastics and diving, which depend on the judgment of judges to determine this or that, are much too subjective and open to unethical judging.  Referees and other officials, of course, will always be required.

2.  Only sports which are, or have been, participated in by large numbers of people, should be included.  So, like it or not, soccer stays in.  So do archery and shooting.  For that matter, judo can stay, too.

Corollary: Sports which are only participated in by minimal numbers of people in the present day should be dropped.  Exception to corollary: Games that were part of the ancient Greek games (discus, javelin, etc.) are allowed to stay.

3.  Special considerations:  Boxing goes.  It is barbaric.  Beach volleyball also goes.  The only reason it's even an Olympic sport is because the women are...you know.  BMX...is beyond ridiculous as an Olympic event.  Any "sport" that looks like it belongs in the X Games not only violates #2 above, but should simply be moved to the X Games.

Therefore, I would recommend also eliminating these sports from Olympic competition (and will consider others):

Diving (violates #1)
Equestrian (#2; I'm not even sure what this involves beyond horses and some obstacles)
Field hockey (#2)
Gymnastics, Rhythmic gymnastics (#1)
Sailing (#2)
Synchonized...anything (#2)
Trampoline (#2; what actually do they do in trampoline?)

Those are my thoughts.  Yours?

Monday, June 4, 2012

In a Truly Liberal World....

Sam loves his car.  He's named the car "Lucy."  Lucy had been his for years now, staying in his garage.  He cares for her, washes her, changes her oil regularly, even cleans her tires.  In short, he is truly in love with her.

So Sam, being a liberal, decides to marry his car. 

Sam goes down to the courthouse and asks the clerk for a marriage license.  He has an easy enough time filling out the demographic information for himself, but the part for the other "spouse" is a bit trickier.  (Not to mention the fact that it looks suspicious that Lucy's actual age is 7.)  He hands the completed paperwork to the clerk, who observes that "Lucy" not only lacks a last name, but is also not present.  The clerk asks where Lucy is; Sam replies, quite naturally, that she is outside in the parking lot.  The clerk asks if Lucy can come inside; Sam replies, quite naturally, that this is not logistically convenient.

Sam explains that, in a truly liberal world, that the definition of marriage as between "one man and one woman," or as between "any two people" (as the truly liberal government recently redefined it) is discriminatory, and that marriage should be allowed between any two entities, as long as at least one of them is alive.  (The current debate in truly liberal society is whether "not alive" is a discriminatory category.)  Therefore, he wishes to marry Lucy.  The clerk, puzzled by the novelty, gives in and processes the paperwork.

Sam and Lucy go on a brief honeymoon highlighted by a trip to Fred's Auto Detailing.

A few months later, Sam goes to Wal-Mart and upon departing, he realizes to his horror that someone has backed in to his beloved, defenseless Lucy and put an ugly gash in her bumper.  He promptly takes her to the auto body shop, where Lucy is evaluated.  Repairs are estimated to cost $823.46.  Sam is asked how he will pay for it—cash, credit card, etc.  Having realized an error in the process himself, he suddenly asks if Lucy should first have gone to a primary care provider, instead of this specialist.  The body shop guys look at him like he's sucked on the exhaust pipe.  After all, Sam explains, Lucy is his "wife," and she is carried on his insurance policy at work.  The body shop guys suddenly decide that Sam really needs to find a "primary care provider" first and get that in order...and then return. 

Sam calls his health insurance company and demands that his spouse receive the prompt and humane care she deserves.  The health insurance company responds that since Lucy's injuries are not life-threatening, she needs to go to a primary care provider first.  They then wrangle over the fact that there are no primary care providers in-network that do auto body work.  Eight months later, Sam finally extracts the money from the insurance company—less his deductible—and Lucy is "whole" again.

Time goes by.  Lucy is starting to show her age (she's 14 now), and Sam decides to bring home another car.  This one is named Sally—and Sally is younger, faster, and goes longer between oil changes than Lucy.  Being truly liberal, it never really occurs to Sam that marriage usually just involves two entities.

Lucy and Sam still spend time together, but the love is cooling, and one day Lucy quits running.  The auto shop guys—still wary of Sam; they have nicknames like "crackpot" for him back in the garage—report that Lucy's transmission is cooked.  It will have to be replaced.  The cost will be $2,321.87.  Sam leaves Lucy at the shop and goes home to contemplate his choice.

But in this truly liberal world, Sam really doesn't have a choice.  What Sam's healthcare provider finally tells him is that auto shop care is now rationed, and unless he finds healthcare—I mean, in this case, transmission care—on the black market, Lucy will be forced into the Cash for Clunkers program.  He has her hauled to the junkyard, where the proprietor gives him $75 for Lucy.  (In Sam's truly liberal world, this is enough to put a third of a tank of gas in Sally.)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Importance of the Resurrection

I want to share a few thoughts today, Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate Christ's resurrection, about the supreme importance of that event.  Specifically, let's see what 1 Corinthians 15 says about it.

12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

For us who are Christians, this is a sobering thought:  If Christ did not rise from the dead, we are without hope and miserable!  But the next verses give us great encouragment:

20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Christ was seen by many people after His resurrection, and two millenia of history testify to His living influence in the lives of countless Christians.  And why?  Because He is alive!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Biblical Thoughts on Worship

My pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church (Taylors, SC) preached another sermon this evening in a series on biblical worship.  It was another great installment in the series.  Because his points were so valuable, I want to share all six of them here.

1.  Worship was not designed to be entertaining.  Perhaps the most obvious problem with what is called "contemporary worship" is that it is, in fact, designed to entertain those in attendance.  We are to "give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name" (Psalm 29:2, 96:8) whether or not it is admired by those around us.

As a corollary point, special music is a ministry, not a performance.  I do not believe it is appropriate to applaud special music in a church service, for that gives honor to the person(s) who provides the music, not the God about whom he or she is singing.  Let the focus of the music be on Him.

2.  Worship is not primarily for the benefit of the individual.  Worship is to give God His due, to ascribe to Him the worth which is His.  It is not primarily to make us feel better (although, of course, it is certainly acceptable to feel better because you have worshipped biblically).

3.  Worship, in its precepts, practices, and principles, is not determined by man.  It's not about you.  It's not about me.  It's about God, and He has a lot to say about how He is to be worshipped in His Word.  To think that I have ideas about how to do it "better" is foolish.

4.  Worship is not primarily a time of asking but of surrendering.  When we come to worship, we must surrender our will to do our own thing.

5.  Worship is not primarily to compliment the accomplishments of man.  While there is a place and a time for congratulating and thanking those who are worthy of such, it is still not the focus of worship.  That focus belongs to God.  Corollary points about musicians can be made here, too.

(Side note:  It is altogether appropriate to thank the musicians who serve in church, especially if their music enhances biblical worship.  We had a men's group this evening do a fine job singing a song with a clear message; for that I am especially thankful.)

6.  Worship is not primarily to obtain the accolades of man.  If the pastor's sermon draws praise because of his eloquence, logical skills, or creative thought, and not for putting the attention of the congregation on God, there's a problem somewhere.  Certainly, there are some pastors who are "menpleasers" instead of "servants of Christ" (Eph. 6:5-7); this is not conducive to true worship.

Christians today need to stand strong against the "redefining" of worship to mean whatever man thinks it should mean.  God speaks about the worship He demands; it is wise for us to read what He has given us.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

An Update on our Friends' Adoption!

Friends of ours adopted a 3½-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome from Eastern Europe last summer (see their blog here).  They have now had the boy in their home for six months.  Their story has been featured on a local TV station and I'm sure many have viewed their blog.  In short, their story not only testifies of God's love working through individuals, but also to the value of every individual soul—no matter the limitations of the physical body.

Six months later, there are still trials and struggles, but there has been both remarkable progress and great blessings.  The work that God has allowed them to be a part of has now reached all the way back to Russia, and we are so grateful for it!  I trust you will take the time to read about it here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I'm Voting for Rick Santorum in the SC Primary

Tomorrow, in the South Carolina GOP Presidential Preference primary, I will be voting for Rick Santorum.  Here’s why.
I need to start out by saying that I haven’t been totally thrilled with any of the four remaining candidates.  All of them have obvious weaknesses of character and/or policy which will make their race against Obama less of a lock than it ought to be.  The Republican Party needs a leader of the Reagan type, who, like him in 1980, would win 40+ states and carry a mandate with him to Washington.  But since we have four remaining candidates from whom to choose, and since any of them will be an improvement over the current president, I must choose from among them.

Rick Santorum, on the whole, represents my views the most consistently.  He has been consistently and passionately pro-life, and wrote the bill that ended partial birth abortion.  On social issues, he and I are of one voice.  He is also a firm believer in the Second Amendment (The NRA rates him A+).  He opposed TARP, voted against McCain-Feingold and Frank-Dodd, and receives low ratings from both the ACLU and the AFL-CIO.  While I am concerned about the trouncing he took in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race (and, for that matter, the trouncing he may get here in SC tomorrow, if the polls are valid), he is more demonstrably opposed to Obama than either Romney or Gingrich.  His biggest liability in my eyes is that he does not come across as a leader.

Newt Gingrich, at the moment, would be my second choice.  I agree with him on most issues—but he occasionally throws one out there that makes me scratch my head.  His personal character history is a serious problem and, even if he has sincerely repented and stays on the right track, will be a detriment in the race.  (Obama, for all his flaws, has no hint of marital infidelity.)  I am also concerned that his ego may become a liability.

Mitt Romney seems to be a conservative now, but my gut just doesn’t like the fact that he wasn’t while he was the governor of Massachusetts.  I think he can be a great executive, and if he is the GOP nominee, I will vote for him in November.  But for now, I’m going with the most consistent conservative.

Ron Paul is problematic.  His voting record is often meritorious and often puzzling.  The ACLU rates him pretty favorably—that's a problem.  His vicious and untrue attack ads concerning Santorum (being shown ad nauseam this week on SC TV stations) trouble me.  His foreign policy ideas are dangerous to the future of our country. 

Please educate yourself on the candidates and then take the opportunity to vote.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 5: Ethics

What is right?

Logic demands no other conclusion than this: If we are to have a moral order and real values, there must be absolutes. To deny absolutes is, essentially, to deny moral values; or it merely makes values equivalent to individual opinion.

What is the basis of Christian ethics? In short, it is God and His Word. God's moral nature is absolute and unchanging. He always hates evil and loves good; He never makes up new values according to some providential whim. Christian ethics is grounded in the character of the triune God. Some things conform to God's character; others do not. It is our responsibility to determine what does and what does not conform! Consequently, the Christian moral order is eternal and permanent, because it reflects God's unchanging character, and flows from the nature of the Creator to the nature of His creation.

God's Word is His revelation to us. The Bible teaches us what is good and what is evil. Sin is always a violation of God's moral order. General revelation (creation) points out that a moral order exists; special revelation (the Bible) reveals its specifics. This moral order exists outside of man. It is not a creation of his mind, nor could it be.

God and His Word fully explain the Christian moral order.

What are secular ethics? It is interesting to observe that mankind has a "common moral heritage." Some sins, like murder, child abuse, and torture, are almost universally condemned, while some abstract values, like love, justice, or courage, are nearly always admired. Why? Naturalism certainly can't explain this. Could it be that God has made us capable of learning to discern right from wrong?

Secular ethical systems have two major, insurmountable problems. First, in secular ethical systems, all morals are relative. There are no absolute standards to judge right from wrong; one's own impulses and opinions become the basis for ethics. "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction" (Matt. 7:13) is the verse that comes to mind. The second major problem is that secular ethical systems are always based on man's thinking. Whether based on naturalistic, economic, or some other philosophy, human ideas are inadequate to form an ethical or moral code. Determining right from wrong becomes nothing more than a baseless exercise of debate.

How should the Christian respond? First, we must recognize that the mind of man cannot create, invent, or discover any "new morals" or "new moral order." It simply can't be done. Christians also need to avoid thinking that there are any less-than-absolute moral values. There is no such thing. Furthermore, Christians need to recognize "new moralities" for what they are: Man's way of attempting to justify doing what he wants to do. This is a fallacy, and deviates from God's code. Morality is to be a lifestyle for glorifying God. Use your life to demonstrate what is right!

What do Christian ethics contain? Obviously, then contain moral absolutes. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are classic examples; reading them provides a wealth of information about right and wrong. Much of the Old Testament, in fact, describes God's moral order, and how He expects His creation to operate. Jesus Christ, of course, is the living example of moral, ethical living. He was and is the perfect role model. The call to follow Christ is perhaps the simplest way to sum up Christian ethics. As He said to Peter at both the beginning (Mark 1:17) and end (John 21:22) of His earthly ministry, "Follow me."

The Christian also has responsibilities. Matthew 22:35-40 gives us what Christ called the two greatest commandments: To love God, and to love one's neighbor as one's self. This kind of love is not merely a form of compassion, but also requires us to be servantlike, meeting both the social and physical needs of others. Our love of God demands that we serve God (John 14:15), working to achieve His will for this world.

We must also realize and remember the implications of sin. To sin is to come short of God's moral order. All have sinned, and sin demands judgment (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Those of us who have accepted Christ as Savior have had our judgment paid, and should serve God lovingly and humbly for the rest of our days. Sin also brings guilt, because God has made us to realize that we "fall short" of the perfection that His holiness demands. Indeed, we are taught that the law was given, to convince us that we fail to keep it (see the book of Galatians)!

Once a person becomes a Christian, the proper response is to have a zealous desire to keep God's moral code—to do what is morally right. It is not for us only to espouse it; we must live it!
"The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in." C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, pp. 86-87.

"The Christian ethical system is both like and unlike any other system ever postulated. Every ethical system contains some grain of the truth found in the Christian code, but no other system can claim to be the whole truth, handed down as an absolute from God to man." David Noebel, Thinking Like a Christian, p. 88.

Reminder: This series of "Thinking Like a Christian" entries mirrors what I am teaching in my Sunday School class at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Taylors, SC.  This series goes on hiatus and will, God willing, be resumed later in the year, with five more lessons.  The book Thinking Like a Christian is written by David Noebel and makes an excellent resource for the study of worldviews and how Christians ought to live in this present day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 4: Psychology

What is the basic nature of man?

Is psychology a proper area of study for a Christian? Does it have an appropriate place in a Christian worldview? Psychology is the study of the soul and the mind. Although a massive topic (you can get a college major in it), it is appropriate for a Christian to study; indeed, only Christianity is suitable to study it! No other worldview can answer questions related to the soul and mind as well as Christianity can.

Biblical Christianity contains a psychology, and it is worthy of our study. Since man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), our worldview must recognize the significance of both the spiritual and the physical dimensions of man.

Psychology does have an appropriate place as a scientific discipline, where scientific observation is employed to study and learn about the mind. Much good work has come from such study. Unfortunately, much of "modern psychology" is filled with the biases of secular worldviews, and is consequently filled with error. This does not mean that Christians should entirely abandon psychology; instead, they should bring God's truth to its study.

Our minds are not merely physical objects; we have a "non-physical" part to our being. Our bodies may change and decay, but our minds remain continuous. Furthermore, man has a free will, which is an important element to consider in psychology.

Six areas of psychology are of importance in this lesson:

What is human nature? Man has a sin nature, which is a result of the fall (Genesis 3). This nature is inherently evil. When sin entered the world, man's relationship to God and his fellow man changed from what God intended it to be. Man has a natural tendency to rebel against God and His laws. Man's sinful nature is the cause of all psychological problems.

The doctrine of sin reminds us that each of us is responsible for his own behavior and choices. Mankind, because of sin, needs a Savior to give him a new nature.

What is guilt? Because man has rebelled against God, he has real guilt feelings about his rebellion; his conscience tells him that he has done wrong. Secular psychologists must devise ways to "explain away" guilt and its source. Christians recognize that guilt exists, and that it is a real consequence of sin, not a mental problem foisted upon us by our society or our environment.

What is mental illness? I will allow Jay Adams to speak on this subject:
"Organic malfunctions affecting the brain that are caused by brain damage, tumors, gene inheritance, glandular or chemical disorders, validly may be termed mental illnesses. But at the same time a vast number of other human problems have been classified as mental illnesses for which there is no evidence that they have been engendered by disease or illness at all....The fundamental bent of fallen human nature is away from God....Apart from organically generated difficulties, the 'mentally ill' are really people with unsolved personal problems." (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, pp. 28-29)
How should a Christian approach sin and guilt? Counseling must first recognize that man has a conscience, man is rebellious, and man therefore experiences real guilt. People must be pointed toward Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection, and they must realize their need to ask forgiveness for sin (both to God and men). Counseling must also stress personal moral responsibility for sin. Failure to recognize one's own responsibility allows a person to deny his own real guilt and avoid the main problem—alienation from a holy God.

Confession, forgiveness of sin through Christ (1 John 1:9), reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 5:17-21), and sanctification are requirements for a "healthy" walk in Christ.

How should a Christian view suffering? Secular psychology cannot alleviate all suffering in a person's life; indeed; it tries to avoid suffering at nearly any cost. Christian psychology believes that suffering can be used of God to bring about positive change in a person's life, whether it is disciplinary, to teach us valuable lessons, or even to teach us to "joyously endure" it. Suffering is inevitable due to sin, but it is not always negative.

The Christian and Society: Marxists and humanists believe that society is the source/cause of all "evil" in this world, but Christians believe that individuals are responsible for the evil in society. Consequently, no man can blame his sin on society, his environment, or anyone else.
"The choice between Christian psychology and all other psychological schools is clear-cut. As Kilpatrick says, 'Our choice...is really the same choice offered to Adam and Eve: either we trust God or we take the serpent's word that we can make ourselves into gods.'" (From Thinking Like a Christian, p. 77; the quote is from William Kilpatrick's book Psychological Seduction, p. 233)