The Art and Science of God – Why is it so hard to get good employees?

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Why is it so hard to get decent employees?

Jonah 1

Jonah Tries to Run Away from God

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”

The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.

Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah present us with an interpretive challenge. Part of me wants to believe that this may be another allegory, that this is just a fantastic tale like Aesop’s Fables – meant to teach us a lesson about faithfulness and rebellion. But there is a problem. This story is not just about some generic prophet, or even just some prophet named Jonah. It is clearly written about a particular man name Jonah, son of Amittai. This same Jonah is written about briefly in the history books of Israel (2 Kings 14:23-25). So at the very least, this is a fantastic story about a real person as opposed to a mythological person altogether. Jonah was real.

That brings us to another problem then. Was the great fish real as well? A giant fish does not seem so out of place with what all we have found in the depths of the ocean. Someone surviving inside a fish’s stomach for 3 days though? That is another story.

Taken as a whole, this story is either irrefutable evidence that God likes to mix things up sometimes and do crazy things in response to our faithfulness and rebellion, or it is an extreme example of God’s foreknowledge of us and how perfectly He orchestrates all of creation around our decisions to follow God’s will or not.

(Pause)

I think it is more popular today to go with the former assumption, that God does wild and crazy sometimes… but something in me still sees something familiar in the God who harmonizes everything. Is it perfect? No. If God’s will was always perfectly accomplished every day, there would be no sin, no need for a Savior, etc. Wild and crazy seems too much of an easy answer, but there has to be some flexibility – and that middle space is a bit terrifying.

That place between God’s sovereignty and our freedom to choose to follow Him or not, means that the whole world may be much more detailed and purposeful than we ever imagined. God knows how many hairs are on my head and how many grains are on the seashore, and if He is truly orchestrating this all together then that means He has purposes for every one of them. That would mean that people are immeasurably valuable. It would mean that the environment around me, the plants and animals I share this world with may exist for something more than just my pleasure. It means we live in a world of potential and God is letting us hold the reins. We cannot take them from Him, but we get to hold on and influence in our own small but powerful ways.

I suppose it is like becoming a new parent, being handed this tiny life that holds so much potential and is so intricately woven together. Fearfully and wonderfully made, as King David wrote. It is more than I can grasp.

It makes me wonder, what if I mess it up? What if I am not the good servant that God wants and that this world needs?

Well then, perhaps God has a great fish waiting for me as well…

7 Godly Sins? – the Lust of God 

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7 Godly Sins? – the Lust of God

If God intends on being party to every marriage, is it Lust?

Song of Solomon 7

Expressions of Praise

How graceful are your feet in sandals,

O queenly maiden!

Your rounded thighs are like jewels,

the work of a master hand.

Your navel is a rounded bowl

that never lacks mixed wine.

Your belly is a heap of wheat,

encircled with lilies.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,

twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is like an ivory tower.

Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,

by the gate of Bath-rabbim.

Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,

overlooking Damascus.

Your head crowns you like Carmel,

and your flowing locks are like purple;

a king is held captive in the tresses.

How fair and pleasant you are,

O loved one, delectable maiden!

You are stately as a palm tree,

and your breasts are like its clusters.

I say I will climb the palm tree

and lay hold of its branches.

O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,

and the scent of your breath like apples,

and your kisses like the best wine

that goes down smoothly,

gliding over lips and teeth.

I am my beloved’s,

and his desire is for me.

Come, my beloved,

let us go forth into the fields,

and lodge in the villages;

let us go out early to the vineyards,

and see whether the vines have budded,

whether the grape blossoms have opened

and the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance,

and over our doors are all choice fruits,

new as well as old,

which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

1 Peter 1:3-9

A Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

One cannot consider a connection between God and lust without looking at Song of Solomon. It may not be the only example of lust, nor the worst example of it… but it is one of the longest and most spiritually approved instances of physical attraction. There is no way around it. Song of Solomon is a strange book to be in the Holy Bible.

The root of this peculiarity comes from its inclusion as scripture as we understand it. By and large, since the time of the [Reformation] we have expected scripture to be historically accurate accounts of God’s work in creation and words of praise or prayers dedicated to Him. In the case of Proverbs, they may be short teachings related to worshipping and following God. There is another kind of ancient literature as well though: allegory.

Allegory is when you write or speak about one thing and use it as a comparison to something else. C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia in part as an allegory of the Christian faith. It does not matter if the stories are true or not. It only shows the relationship of the values being presented. Another biblical example is the book of Job. While we, by today’s standards would expect Job to be at least based upon a historical event. However, prior to the Reformation it was acceptable to use allegory as a means of communicating truth.

Song of Solomon was included into the Old Testament cannon because it served as an allegory to the kind of deeply personal and intimate love of God. That is to say, if a man and woman can desire one another this much, God can desire us even more. That really does not settle the weirdness though, unless we get it through our heads that allegory shows connection between two normally unlike things.

The word “love” itself falls prey to this instance all the time. We say we love our romantic partners. We love or children. We love pizza. If love meant the same thing in all three of these categories it would be criminal. So yes, God loves us like Song of Solomon describes, in terms of passion and desire, but not in the same way.

What then, does that have to do with His involvement in marriage? Well, first, let’s be honest and admit that marriages always involve more than just two people. If it were not so, there would be no such thing as mother-in-laws, and particular relationship created by marriage involving an outside person. Friends and family are all involved. Sometimes children are involved.

God becomes involved in marriages as a benefactor, or perhaps more simply as the Father of both bride and groom. He has expectations for both of them and gifts for both of them as well. 1 Peter tells us about an inheritance He is hoping to give us in that. He does not have a sexual agenda for us Himself, and His only contributions to sex are for our benefit, not His. Again, (think allegory) God does not want to be our mate. He wants to be our Lord, which is an entirely different relationship. The alternative of course is to have a marriage without His involvement. There is a long history of people who cast aside their families and friends to get married, and sometimes it works out for them in the end – particularly if they have unhealthy family systems. However, if God is a blessing to you, why would you not want to share Him with your spouse?

How is God involved in your marriage?

In what ways do you want God to be more involved?