Is God a Violent Person? ("Can I Ask That?" Video Series)

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Can I Ask That? Series


Is God Really Violent?

“Can I Ask That?” Video Series: Session 6 of 7


Is God Really Violent?
One of the great tragedies of human life is that there is violence in the world. Most violence is caused by evil in the human heart and the strategic influence of Satan in the world. Most violence has nothing to do with God.
But there are occasions where some violence is either allowed by God or even enacted by God. We even see serious examples of that in scripture. So it’s clear that, though God is not a warmonger, neither is He a pacifist.
Here’s what’s important to understand: God is the only Supreme Being that exists. His brilliance is beyond our ability to understand, and His character is good—even inscrutable… meaning that His benevolence is beyond the ability to accuse Him of wrongdoing. God is perfectly balanced in all moral perfections. Sometimes God is oversimplified, and therefore misunderstood. Is God love? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that God is not also a divine warrior and a champion of good. God is love, but he is not ONLY love. He is the perfect temperament of all character qualities. He is also just. He is also merciful. He is also forgiving. He holds all those perfections in perfect balance. One never eclipses the other—they always stay in perfect harmony.
This is possible, because God is all knowing. And all powerful, and everywhere present. And changeless. So for this reason, he always does the right thing and cannot err—EVER.
So here’s how to understand violence: On those rare occasions there is divine violence (like God’s punishment, etc.), it is always legitimate and even necessary. God knows that to maintain His moral purity and to honor truth, justice, righteousness, love, and mercy—there needs to be a perfect balance of His judgment, even when He chooses to permit or enact violence.
We should remember that, even when it seems so out of control, in fact—because God is sovereign, every molecule, every piece of debris, every reaction, are all in His immediate awareness, control and sovereignty.
So when violence occurs, remember God isn’t responsible for much of it—it’s often evil human free will. Remember that God is morally perfect, knows everything actual and possible, and that He is in control. And the safest place for us to be is to be willfully submitted to Him and trusting completely in his good character.



Upcoming Video (Released Each Thursday Through June 8)


7. Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

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What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity? ("Can I Ask That?" Video Series)

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Can I Ask That? Series


What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity?

“Can I Ask That?” Video Series: Session 5 of 7

What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity?
Human identity and sexuality are very deeply intertwined subjects. In many ways, both our personhood and sexuality are enigmas—deeply mysterious subjects, and not nearly as simplistic as they are made to seem in culture and society.
Our identity is the core of our individualism and our personality. Our identity is the amalgamation of who God made us, who we think we are, and even who others think we are. From these, we form a self-concept, and from that springs our personality, image, reputation, and character.
The Bible says that God made us, mind, body, and spirit. And together, these form who we are. Then, as we figure out our identity, because we weren’t created to live alone in isolation, we soon migrate toward intimacy.
Intimacy has to do with knowing others and being known by others. It’s about sharing our own self-discovery, who we are, with others. And a possibility of this sharing is that, as intimacy grows, human sexuality enters into the picture.
Human sexuality is unique. It isn’t like evolutionists would have us believe—just another version of the biological propagation of an animal species. Unlike animals, human beings were created in the image of God. And as such, we aren’t only composed of chemicals and physical bodies (like mere plants and animals), we are created to reflect God’s glory through our bodies and our inner essence. That inner essence, our spiritual reality, and our minds, means we were endowed with capacities not found in any other life forms.
Human sexuality was created to involve not only our bodies and our senses—but also our souls… meaning our minds, our thoughts, our motivations, our emotions, our feelings, and even our imaginations. And human sexuality also involves our spirits—the deepest inward parts of us, our very essence, and our very lives—in other words, sexuality involves every part of us.
As people, identity, intimacy, and sexuality are related. Each affects the other. So understanding what God says about these three powerful concepts will help us become more healthy and happy—and misunderstanding them will make us less happy, healthy, whole, and holy. So it’s important to get them right by learning and doing what God says.



Upcoming Videos (Released Each Thursday Through June 8)


6. Is God Really Violent?
7. Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

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Why Do Christians Believe in Such an Old Book? ("Can I Ask That?" Video Series)

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Can I Ask That? Series


Why Do Christians Believe in Such an Old Book?

“Can I Ask That?” Video Series: Session 4 of 7

Why Do Christians Believe in Such an Old Book?
The Bible is a written testament to God’s Story—to His Story, or History. The Bible is a It’s been said that the Bible is not a book humans could write if they would, and it’s not a book we would write if they could
The Bible has proven the test of time. In terms of its manuscripts and veracity or “proofs of trustworthiness,” it’s the most attested piece of ancient literature, bar none. There’s every reason to believe the Bible is the actual Word of God. In fact, the more you study “ABOUT” the book and study the book “itself,” the more convinced you become that it is, indeed, God’s revelation about Himself.
But people don’t read it or believe the Bible just because it’s old. We believe it because it’s true. And because it’s true, it’s reliable and trustworthy. It gives the greatest wisdom of the ages throughout its pages—as a collection of 66 divinely-inspired books that form the one and only source of God’s Authoritative Word to humanity: the Holy Bible.
And why have people throughout the ages come to believe in this ancient book? Fundamentally, because it has live-changing power.
In other words, BECAUSE IT IS the “Word of God,” it is true. And because it is true, it works. And God, mysteriously and supernaturally found a way to take eternal wisdom and existential truth, and then embed them within the written and spoken languages of all people groups in our world, through the words of the Holy Bible, as it is made available in languages around the world. And, somehow, supernaturally, God infused human language with divine power so that, when we read it OR even hear it, and apply it to our lives by doing what it says, the Bible proves it is true and the power of God is manifested.
The Bible. There’s no book like it. Anywhere. At any time. It’ll change your life. Get it, read it, and see for yourself.



Upcoming Videos (Released Each Thursday Through June 8)


5. What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity?
6. Is God Really Violent?
7. Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

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Click to Learn More About Joining a Live Study by Pastor Brandon Bathauer on Wednesdays, 6:30pm PST from April 26-June 7, 2017 at Saddleback Church (Irvine South Campus) 18842 Teller Avenue, Irvine, Calif

Is God Republican or Democrat? ("Can I Ask That?" Video Series)

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Can I Ask That? Series


Is God Republican or Democrat?

“Can I Ask That?” Video Series: Session 3 of 7

Is God Republican or Democrat?
When it comes to God, we have to think completely different than we typically do. God completely transcends political parties.
God is infinite and directs the affairs of men, so He is above politics. He is, after all, the King of Kings. He is not Republican. He is not Democrat. He is not a green Party Member, Libertarian, and certainly not Communist. But neither is He ‘Independent’ or completely neutral. After all, He DOES care about all issues ethical and moral, and politics affects those things—and politics affects the lives of every person in the world. So He cares and we should care about politics for those reasons.
But, though God isn’t Democrat or Republican, in some ways, He is more involved with Government than anyone. Even Jesus was called the King of the Jews, after all—and Jesus will ultimately be installed as the King of Kings over all the universe. And the Bible says that God will form a government, an eternal Kingdom—organized as a theocracy, in the future.
The Bible calls God the Governor, Ruler, and Judge of All. He has all power and “rules” from on high. And as the Governor and King, He does not categorically register with political parties, as humans might.
That doesn’t mean, however, that people have that luxury. Indeed, scripture makes it clear that God has made us citizens of two kingdoms—kingdom of earth and the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught us to be good citizens. And as good citizens, we have an obligation to be biblically-informed and active in bringing about good in civil society, which means at least some degree of political involvement (voting, caring about people and causes that are affected by politics).
As citizens of those two kingdoms, we owe everyone the debt of love, and to be good citizens by taking biblical positions on important issues. But even then, and even if we have loyalty to causes , political positions, or even political parties—those are ALWAYS, A-L-W-A-Y-S secondary to our faith and the Kingdom of God. Remember the words of Jude 3, that we should contend earnestly for the Kingdom of God, once for all delivered to the saints.



Upcoming Videos (Released Each Thursday Through June 8)


4. Why Do Christians Believe in Such an Old Book?
5. What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity?
6. Is God Really Violent?
7. Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

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Click to Learn More About Joining a Live Study by Pastor Brandon Bathauer on Wednesdays, 6:30pm PST from April 26-June 7, 2017 at Saddleback Church (Irvine South Campus) 18842 Teller Avenue, Irvine, Calif

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? ("Can I Ask That?" Video Series)

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Can I Ask That? Series


Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

“Can I Ask That?” Video Series: Session 2 of 7

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
This issue is called the Problem of Evil. And it’s fair to say that Christianity and the Bible must answer it… and it does. But so must every other faith. Human pain is universal. So Buddhism must answer this question. And Hinduism. And Islam. And all other religions.


Listen to My World Religions Podcast Series

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But if you ask the question, you may not like the answer you receive, and become an Agnostic or Atheist, then what? Then you get to answer the question yourself—because, if you reject faith, then your worldview has to stand on its own and answer these questions without God’s help.
Thankfully Christianity offers answers to the problem of evil.
The Bible teaches that bad things happen because the world and the people in it, are broken. People are capable of bad motives, bad actions, and bad consequences are often the result.
And there’s the rub—the fact that innocent people sometimes get hurt.
When God made the world, He gave people freedom. Freedom means genuine choices. And those choices may be good or bad. When people make bad decisions, there are consequences. And those consequences are indiscriminate—they hurt people who don’t deserve to be hurt.
And God hates that. It grieves God that people do evil things. But that is not only a natural consequence of freedom—but a necessary consequence. In other words, you can’t have genuine freedom without the necessity that people might choose evil, and its resultant consequences.
For Christians, we learn that IN SPITE OF evil, God has a plan for our good and will ultimately right every injustice we’re subjected to.
God is working out a master plan. It involves the interwoven lives of billions of people interacting in real time on earth, every one of them with complete free will. And as they use their free will, often wrongly, and as Satan orchestrates all kinds of evil in the world. But in the midst of all the apparent chaos, God brilliantly weaves both His global and individual plan for us. And that can take time—because of billions and billions of people doing almost whatever they want.
But God cares intimately about our pain. And ultimately—now or later, God WILL settle the score. He will outwit all the schemes and will untangle all the contradictions. And He promises in His Word that He will either make it up to us here on earth—OR, if we suffer unaddressed injustice, that He has all of eternity to make it up to us. Right now, we see through a glass dimly, but time and eternity will bring resolution, redemption, and reward. And our light and momentary afflictions here on earth are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed within us later on.


Upcoming Videos (Released Each Thursday Through June 8)


3. Is God Republican or Democrat?
4. Why Do Christians Believe in Such an Old Book?
5. What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity?
6. Is God Really Violent?
7. Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

Subscribe and Get It Delivered Automatically!

Click to Learn More About Joining a Live Study by Pastor Brandon Bathauer on Wednesdays, 6:30pm PST from April 26-June 7, 2017 at Saddleback Church (Irvine South Campus) 18842 Teller Avenue, Irvine, Calif

Is It OK TO Ask Hard Questions About Faith? ("Can I Ask That?" Video Series)

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Can I Ask That? Series


Is It OK TO Ask Hard Questions About Faith?

“Can I Ask That?” Video Series: Session 1 of 7

Is It OK TO Ask Hard Questions About Faith?
Life can be confusing. There are times that life doesn’t make sense. Even people who’ve walked with God for decades, people with a truly intimate spiritual relationship, confront situations and circumstances that plague them and that shake their faith down to its very foundations.
If that’s you— meaning, if YOU sometimes have questions, uncertainty, and even doubts, you’re normal.
What’s one good reason that it’s OK to ask hard questions? BECAUSE , in the Bible, we learn that both skeptics, and the greatest men and women in the history of faith asked really, really hard questions.
These include Pilate, Nicodemus, David, Mary, the Apostle Peter, Job, a Philippian jailer, and even Jesus Himself!
So I think it’s plain to see—not only is asking hard questions OK. When you do so, you’re in good company. People who ask hard questions show they’re seeking faith that is GENUINE.
So not only is it OK to ask hard questions… it’s necessary. We must. Not asking hard questions is a sign of cowardice. Not asking hard questions about your faith implies that it is flimsy, rather than indestructible.
Asking questions about faith doesn’t make you weak. It shows you’re strong.


Upcoming Videos (Released Each Thursday Through June 8)


2. Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
3. Is God Republican or Democrat?
4. Why Do Christians Believe in Such an Old Book?
5. What Does God Say About Sexuality and Identity?
6. Is God Really Violent?
7. Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

Subscribe and Get It Delivered Automatically!

Click to Learn More About Joining a Live Study by Pastor Brandon Bathauer on Wednesdays, 6:30pm PST from April 26-June 7, 2017 at Saddleback Church (Irvine South Campus) 18842 Teller Avenue, Irvine, Calif

Red Hot: How to 'Catch on Fire' In Your Spiritual Life

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Red Hot: How to ‘Catch on Fire’ in Your Spiritual Life

We’ve all experienced it… Getting “stuck” spiritually, and bogging down to where your devotional life is slowed to a crawl.
A common problem in the Christian life is knowing how to build and stoke the spiritual flames deep within our souls.
In this vlog, I unpack an important secret I’ve learned from the wisdom of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:13 (especially in the NLT version of the Bible). Then I share the single most important secret to getting and staying red hot in our spiritual lives.
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The Virtue of Study

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The Virtue of Study: Why All Christians Should Be Life-Long Learners

 
Christians Should Love Learning
I’m of the opinion that all committed Christians should (and do) have a genuine love of learning. Christians have been serious students of knowledge since Jesus called the Original Twelve. From Jesus’ example as the Master Teacher, to the scholarship of monks that led to the first and best universities, Christians have always been in the forefront of teaching, learning, and education. If you think about it, that’s the way it should be.
God Wants Us To Know More Than We Currently Know
First, God is omniscient— meaning He knows everything. This all-knowing God made part of His infinite knowledge available to us. He has done this through the process of “revelation.” Divine revelation is the act of God revealing knowledge to us. God has given us both General Revelation and Special Revelation.
General Revelation (the cosmos, science, history, and the human faculties of reflection and conscience) has two main purposes: (1) To provide knowledge that helps people survive and thrive in our earthly lives, and (2) To help us realize that a Supreme Being exists, so we will begin to seek to know the true identity of this God (which is discovered through Special Revelation).
Special Revelation (including the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God’s supernatural activity) provides us with the information we need to know God personally and to cultivate a never-ending relationship with Him. Together, God’s Revelation helps us live lives informed by God’s knowledge, truth, and wisdom.
Acquiring Great Knowledge Isn’t Effort-Free
But there’s a catch… Though God has revealed enormous amounts of information, we do not naturally or automatically possess all of this knowledge. In other words, “revelation” is everything that God has made knowable or discoverable. Some of it we already know, but we’re born with very little innate knowledge. The rest has to be learned.
God helps us discover new knowledge in two ways: Through reflecting on life experiences and by intentionally and deliberately committing ourselves to learning.
Christians, of all people, have a responsibility to learn. The Apostle Paul, in writing to Christians in the city of Ephesus, made this clear. He prayed that God would “give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God” (Eph 1:17, NLT). Not only that, but “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Phil 2:13, NLT). For these reasons, Christians who walk with God have a supernatural desire to obtain information, knowledge, truth, and wisdom— and they are willing to do what it takes to learn them.
Christians Should Study Regularly and Systematically
Since there’s so much we need to know, Christians should be life-long learners. And because time is limited, we should be discriminating about how we study and what we learn.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give about building a strong Christian mind is this: study regularly and systematically. Don’t just pick and choose books or subjects willy-nilly. Rather, identify important categories of knowledge in which you should be informed, then deliberately, intentionally, regularly, and systematically use solid materials from reliable sources to build your mind and worldview.
No One Said It Better Than Paul
The Apostle Paul said it best: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

2 Timothy 2_2

Likeability and Leadership

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Likeability and Leadership
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People don’t follow people they don’t like.

 

 

It amazes me how people miss this truism. Truism? Yeah, a truism… click here.

 

 

I coined that opening phrase after observing lots of leaders who just didn’t seem to get it.

 

 

So let’s get this point straight, once and for all– explaining the truth in both negative and positive-statement forms:

 

    • People don’t follow people they don’t like

 

  • People generally follow people they do like

 
The answer isn’t the Mr. Nice Guy Dale Carnegie Solution: to ditch your convictions and to become a spineless wimp who believes nothing, has no opinions, and who only wants acceptance. You know, the Chamber of Commerce Guy.
 
But being a person of conviction doesn’t mean you need to earn a (D.D.) Doctorate of Disagreeability to “PROVE” just how much conviction you really have. Lots of leaders are so interested in COMPETENCE and IQ that they have no CHEMISTRY and EQ (emotional quotient). Good social skills are woefully lacking in many a leader and interpersonal interactions are half of our jobs as leaders.
 
I regularly work to evaluate my own likeability. Sure, people misread you and I sometimes– but that’s life. We can’t lose sleep over those who might assign false motives to us or have some kind of an axe to grind. But we can work to make the most of every opportunity to be our best selves because that’s the one that influences others.

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What Does It Mean To Become a Christian?

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What does it mean to be a Christian
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What Does It Mean to Become a Christian?

      The Christian life, and Christianity is general, is largely misunderstood in American and perhaps other cultures. There are many reasons, I’m sure, but I’m certain that part of it is because of caricatures assigned to it by non-adherents, and it is also due to the failure of many who profess Christ to articulate their faith with clarity AND TO LIVE their faith with integrity.

So I’m ask the question… What is the Christian life?

I am a Christian. That means I believe in Jesus Christ.

I follow Christ. I am wrapping my life and existence around the teachings of Jesus.

The Christian life is first and foremost about individual people who, in the warp and woof of life, have walked down the winnowing path of human existence and—through any number of experiences and events—come to a point in their thinking, where they realized that all was not well.

It happens in so many ways.  This realization leads a person to a point where they feel drawn to God in an increasingly tangible way, and become more and more open to the possibility and—ultimately, the reality, that Jesus Christ is a living reality—an existential BEING who is capable of and interested in cultivating a relationship with each of us, and specifically ME—or, YOU, as the case may be.
And at some point, that person acknowledges the reality of God, and the truth of Christ, and commits his or her life to Jesus by surrendering to His authority.

This type of belief is sometimes called “saving faith.”It is called “Salvation” by Christians, because one is QUOTE, saved, from himself—saved from the ramifications of his or her decisions and actions that wounded their relationship to God and that violated God’s authority.

This belief is associated with a recognition of the fact that things in our lives didn’t go the way they ought to have gone—that we failed to be all we were created to be—that we often violated our consciences to recklessly pursue desires and directions that were fundamentally and diametrically opposed to that which is good. And this pursuit of vice ended up causing us to violate others, ourselves and most importantly, the God who created us in His image. And for that reason, because we have an obligation to him as our Maker—just as a child might be obligated to recognize the authority of his parent or parents, we must answer to Him for our disobedience and our loss or, perhaps better, the forfeiture of virtue.

This acknowledgment is essentially the recognition that, though we are persons of value, we are nonetheless soiled— that is, we are contaminated… and that the contamination we suffer and bear is the outcome of our own doing. We must recognize that, left unattended, that corruption will ultimately result in our undoing.

So a person in this condition calls out to God, silently or audibly—it matters not, and in the sanctuary of their hearts, their innermost beings, they admit to God that they are estranged from a right and harmonious and peaceful relationship with him—and that the reason for this is our own personal rebellion— something that could and should be rightly called “sin” meaning, disobedience toward God.

This disobedience was against God and we know that is the case because we understand and FEEL guilty and culpable for violating our conscience and, wittingly or unwittingly, have also violated the standards God articulated in his love letter to humanity—which is what the Holy Bible actually is.

So the Holy Bible provides us with the written standard of what God desires and expects, and what is required for us to live in harmony with him… and, incidentally, with others.

So the attitude of a person wanting to repair his relationship with God confesses this reality of sin and the resultant loss of inner peace and asks God to forgive him or her. What this means is that, such a person feels sorrow, contrition, regret, disappointment and even guilt for past thoughts, attitudes, and actions, and then ASKS FOR and receives forgiveness from God.. and this then INITIATES a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. And such a person considers Jesus his only hope for abundant living now and eternal life now and later.

And what that means is that a person who desires to be reconciled with God and to patch up his or her relationship with God and to enter into a real and actual relationship with the God of the Universe invites the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ into his life and then begins a new life—ONE that seeks to cultivate a relationship with God.

That is what it means to become a Christian—being reconciled to God by Faith Alone through Christ Alone.

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