Change Brings Change but There is an Idea that Keeps Us Chained

Change brings change, but there is an idea that keeps us chained.

When I was 30, I went through an early mid-life crisis.  I liked my job.  I liked my co-workers.  I liked my boss.  But I kept feeling that God wanted to do something else with me.  Along with that feeling, I also felt like I was locked into a job and could not change.  I had to be willing to change and overcome that sense of fatalism that held me back.

Change brings change, but there is an idea that keeps us chained.

That means that when we change, God changes his course of action.  Unfortunately, the idea of fatalism keeps us chained down to the ineffective life we sometimes find ourselves in.  Fatalism is the idea "that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable."

At a previous job, I had friends that were really into astrology.  In astrology, your fate is locked in by the placement of the stars and your location on earth when you were born.  My friends were enslaved by their astrological readings that they received from their astrologer.  I don’t know what introducing a 13th star sign will do to those that base their lives on this line of thinking, but we can be assured that no fate can lock us into a future.  We must be willing to toss those chains that try to ensnare us aside and go after who we know God wants us to be no matter what the cost.

Throughout history people have found themselves locked into situations where the excuse they have used for what they are doing is that God wills them to live the way they are living.  It's when we think that we are doing everything right that we do not evaluate whether we can do things better, but the honest truth is that we can always change and do things better than we currently are.  There is always room for improvement.  We never reach the place of perfection in this life.  The relationships we are part, the organizations we serve in, and the communities we live in can always be improved.  Change is always an option to make things better.  

Do you ever struggle with the idea that you are locked into a situation?  Don't.  You can change.  God waits for people to change to bring about the change He desires.

Our church found ourselves in that place, we were doing things the same way that we had done them for 48 years.  And we were getting ineffective results.  A lot of good-hearted people were spending time in wasted service.  We had to change to get different results.

It is easy to find yourself in a similar trap where you think that you are doing all that you can and that your destiny is not yours to control. 

Let me be clear.  This is not an attack on God’s sovereignty.  He does work things to His will.  And He does promise that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him.  We can be assured that whatever He wants to happen will happen. 

But let's look at the Bible to get a clearer understanding.

As individuals, you might find yourself in similar situations as these Bible characters.

This story picks up with Moses on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments.  While on the mountain, the people below, with Aaron's help, build a golden calf and begin to worship it.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ”

And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
God says that He is going to destroy the people He rescued out of Egypt because of their disobedience.

We struggle with the problem of thinking these stories are fairy tales.  Here we have Moses communicating with God.  He was a regular person like you and me, yet God tells Him what He is going to do.  Then Moses tells Him that He doesn't want God to do it that way.  What's that do to our theology?

But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ”
“And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” (ESV).

“So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (NASB).

“And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people” (KJV).

The word literally means repent.  It means turning away from a course of action and doing another.  The Bible says that God repented.  Again I ask, what's that do to our theology?

It wasn't like Moses presented a new idea to God that God had never thought of.  We can't present God with a new idea; He had thought of all the ideas.  He knew all the options.  It appears that God was waiting for a person to be faithful and willing to lead His people.  Moses' courage and boldness showed God that Moses was that person, and God relented from the punishment that He said He would do.  God changed His mind.  When Moses changed, God changed, and the people were unchained.

Change brings change but there is an idea that keeps us chained.
And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.
excerpts from Exodus 32:1-26 (ESV)
People have choices.  They always have choices.  Moses had a choice.  The tribes of Israel had a choice.  The question is how do we respond when it is asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?"  Because if you listen carefully, God is still asking that.

When in a battle between church tradition and Scripture, Scripture should always win.  We can develop all sorts of beliefs about God when we abandon Scripture and start thinking in the ways of the world around us.  Fatalism is a consequence of that approach.  It dominated the church during the Enlightenment.  If you want a rational, reasonable god, then you would create a  god who does not change his actions based upon our actions.  This god would no longer directly interact with humanity except through providence.  The Christian world became less vibrant and less committed to living out the works of God because they created a reasonable god that preordained their salvation.  For nearly the last four hundred years, reason was king in our society and the church discarded Scripture for their well-thought out yet unscriptural fatalism.  We were ensnared by the prevailing thoughts of our time.  We must always come down on the side of Scripture when there is a battle between church tradition and Scripture.

Now, let's look at the story of Jonah.  Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and preach that destruction was coming their way because of their evil ways.  Jonah did not want to do it, but through a series of events, he found himself reluctantly prophesying to Nineveh and hoping for their destruction. 
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”

Jonah 3:6-4:1 (ESV)
This story carries a similar theme to Moses' story in Exodus.  God tells the people of Nineveh that He is going to destroy them, but the king of Nineveh calls the nation to repent of their evil ways.   God sees their repentance and changes His plans.  People change, God changes.  Imagine if the Ninevites believed that they were predestined to be punished (because God actually said He was going to punish them) and that they could not change their fate from God's "plans."

Change brings change but there is a thought that keeps us chained.

Here is the passage where the Bible says that God does not change.  It is in the middle of the context of God removing Saul as king and appointing David.  That's a change in case you missed that, so God says that He does not change in the context of making a change.  Now, we can either assume that God appointed the wrong person on purpose when He appointed Saul.  This argument would be that God wanted to teach the people a lesson in appointing a king over them who would fail to be faithful.  Or we can conclude that God had hope that Saul would be the king He destined Him to be, but that Saul stumbled and failed to live up to God's plan. 

Saul's changed and his changes brought about changes in God's course of action.
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”

Saul said that he did it to offer sacrifices to the Lord, but Samuel stated, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king…And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”  Excerpts from 1 Samuel 15:10-35 (ESV)
"He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind”  [1 Samuel 15:29 (NIV)].

God changed his course of action, but who God is never changes.  He is unchanging even when His course of action changes.  This was emphasized in the story of Samuel because the people would begin to think that God is wishy-washy when He removed Saul, the king He appointed, for David.    

Let's move from the historical times in Scripture and look at the benefits of throwing off the idea of fatalism.

•    Prayer Matters
Prayer not only changes us, but what we pray for influences the actions of God.  Prayer matters.  It's a meaningful conversation with the creator and controller of the universe, not some empty ritual that we must go through to become more of who He wants us to be.
•    You Can Change
You are not stuck into some fatalistic, predestined future.  God does have a plan for you, but you have to change (and you can change!) to reach it.
•    The Evil Around Us Is Our Fault
If God is in complete control, then all the evil that happens around us is His fault.  If evil is the consequence of our fallen decisions that have created a fallen world that we live in, then when bad things happen it is our fault, not God's.  Now, if fatalism was the view that Scripture taught, then God is big enough to live with the responsibility of all the wrongs committed in the world.  But fatalism is not the view of Scripture, so there is no reason that we have to go around and defend it. 
•    Your Actions Matter
Your actions matter.  God is waiting for faithful people to bring about His will.  There is a great disdain for good works in fatalism, but Paul wrote in Ephesians that we are saved by grace through faith for works.  We are saved for works.  We need to never get that confused with being saved by works, but, in this context, we are talking about how we can be total disciples and who God wants us to be.  We can choose to do more for the Lord than we are already doing. 
What do you think of when you hear the name "Nobel?"  More than likely, you think of the Nobel Peace Prize.  We probably wouldn't even know the Nobel if Alfred Nobel did not read his own obituary while he still had time to change his life.  When Alfred's brother died, the papers mistakenly thought Alfred had died and ran his obituary.  Nobel had a unique experience of opening up the morning paper and reading what people actually thought of him prior to his death.  He was not happy with the impression.

What would your obituary say that your life was about?  Is it about the things of God or the things of this world?  Have you really made any difference?

Nobel's obituary showed that he would be remembered for inventing dynamite and being a weapon's dealer.  And that is not what he wanted to be remembered by.  So he set up a trust to promote world peace.  Every year, we have the cause of peace promoted through the Nobel Peace Prize.  Nobel made a lasting impact because he changed his actions.

Most of us will not be fortunate enough to read our obituary and have time to change our lives.  But we don't need that wake-up call.  We just need to respond in faithfulness to God and do whatever He wants us to do.

That broken relationship that you are in, you can love the other person.  You can change.

That co-worker that needs to know Jesus, you can impact their life if you focus on investing in them.  You can change.

The community that you live in is just waiting for a group of people to bring about God's will.  It's not where God wants it to be because God lacks power.  God has all the power and can make His will happen, but He has chosen to work through us.  Our community is not where God wants it to be because His people lack faithfulness.  May we be the people who are willing to change to bring about the will of the Lord.

The truth is that God doesn't love you the way you are; He loves you despite the way you are. That's grace. But God loves us too much to not guide us away from the fallen way we are. God is all about change. And we can change, through the strength He provides. We can be more faithful and grow in Him so that we can become more of who He wants us to be.

You can change. Your church can change. Your family can change. Your town can change. Your nation can change. This world, it too can change. Everything is actually always changing. The question is whether we are working with God to change it for the better.

Change brings change. If we change, God's course of action will change and we will be in His blessings.  But there is an idea - fatalism - that prevents us from really changing.  Let us throw off the concepts of this world and live in the power of God.  Let's change!

The Price of a B-2 Stealth Bomber

You see this airplane.  It’s a United States Air Force B-2 Stealth Bomber.  It’s one of the main airplanes that the United States uses to bomb stuff and people.   

You want to guess how much one of these things cost?  Well, they are $1.5 billion each.  Each, okay?  Billion, not million.  That’s an amount of money that most people can’t even comprehend.  I mean, let me put it this way.  If you had a good job that paid you $50,000 a year and you never had to spend any of it and you could just save all your money all the time, it would still take you thirty thousand years to save up the $1.5 billion to buy your B-2 Bomber.

Now whether or not you think that is crazy, I guess that depends how important you think it is to bomb people and things on the far side of the planet with impunity. 

To some people you can’t put a price on such things.

Excerpt from the Pinky Show

Fact update:
The United States has 21 B-2s in operation.   According to the United States General Accounting Office, the real cost for each of these was actually around $2.1 billion after you add in development.  That would take 42,000 years at $50,000 without spending any money on anything else.

On April 19, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his famous Cross of Iron speech:
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.

This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honest.

It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on April 4, 1967:
As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
We must repent as a nation.  Our desire for violence is coming at a terrible cost.  We are broke, yet we still spend more on military spending than the next 14 nations combined.  We want to lie about our sin.  We want to justify it, but sin is sin.  And it can only be dealt with when we acknowledge our depraved state.  Justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  These are the things that are required from God.  We ignore acts of justice and mercy because we are too broke spending on instruments of violence and power.  We're broke.  Financially and spiritually.

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!  Matt 23:23-24 (ESV)

Peace is also patriotic.  That's true as an American, but it is even more true as a citizen in the kingdom of God.  Let us repent.

Does God Change His Mind?

I have been studying whether God changes his mind. Some Scriptures explicitly teach that He has, yet many Christians seem to want to say that He does not.

This writing at Got Questions sums up what is a dominant strain in Christian thinking:
The Scriptures that describe God apparently “changing His mind” are human attempts to explain the actions of God. God was going to do something, but instead did something else. To us, that sounds like a change. But to God, who is omniscient and sovereign, it is not a change. God always knew what He was going to do. God also knew what He needed to do to cause humanity to do what He wanted them to do. God threatened Nineveh with destruction, knowing that it would cause Nineveh to repent. God threatened Israel with destruction, knowing that Moses would intercede. God does not regret His decisions, but is saddened by some of what humanity does in response to His decisions. God does not change His mind, but rather acts consistently to His Word in response to our actions.
When we take the approach that God does not change His mind, we have developed a theology that prevents us from taking certain passages of Scripture at face value. This theology stems from a specific understanding of the omniscience of God when it comes to the future. A cosmological viewpoint must be held that holds that God exists outside of time and space. In this view, all time-past, present, and future-has already happened. He can just view any point of time and see what happened or, from our perspective, what will someday happen. This cosmological viewpoint is not contained within the Bible, yet is dogmatically held by many. Not being in Scripture does not mean it is automatically wrong, but it also does not make it guaranteed to be right.  It is worth further examination.

Thomas Aquinas developed what seems to be the most prevalent view today. In his view, God stands outside time and can know everything that we do as freewill actors.  Since He knows what we will do "in advance", he knows our actions before they are even conceived and long after they have occurred. The freewill actor's future actions remain unknown to us and others in linear time with us but are logically necessary to God on account of His infallibly accurate all-encompassing view.

I feel inferior and out of place to disagree with a intellectual giant like Thomas Aquinas, but I do not see the biblical evidence to support that view.  Nor do I see biblical situations where having that view would be necessary to understand Scripture. Actually holding the view that God knows everything that will happen creates quite a quandary rather than the security the view hopes to create.

Instead of coming to Scripture and letting the words written there influence our beliefs, we can wrongly come to Scripture with our beliefs and manipulate the words to fit what we already believe. We believe God exists outside of time and space; therefore, he knows every aspect of the future. The Bible is clear that God knows every aspect of the present; however, it is not so clear that the future has already happened in order to be known.

The writer at Got Questions wrote: "God does not change His mind, but rather acts consistently to His Word in response to our actions." It is a nice trick of semantics, but that is not what Scripture says. Scripture explicity states that "God changed His mind".
And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.  Exodus 32:9-19 (ESV)
The New American Standard translates Exodus 32:14 as, "So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people."  The King James goes even a little further:  "And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." 

In this passage in Exodus, we see that Moses prayed and God changed his plan on what He was going to do with the people of Israel. I struggle with what exactly in Moses' speech influenced God to change His mind. I don't think we can say with definite certainty. It was not like Moses told Him something that He did not already know. It appears that God was looking for someone to stand up and worry about His name. Moses' prayer showed His willingness to be the type of man that God desired to use. Moses shared with God an anger toward the actions of the people and a concern for the name of the Lord.  Moses rightly explained that God had linked Himself to these people and His name would be linked to their success or their failure.

The book of Jonah shares another story where God changes His mind.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.
Jonah 3:1-4:5 (ESV)
We see in Jonah a similar story to that of Moses in Exodus.  God has a course of action that He says he is going to take when He says that He is going to destroy Nineveh.  Jonah even prophesied that God was going to destroy them.  But that prophecy was not fulfilled because the Ninevites changed their ways.  God relented from the path He said He was going to take due to repentance.  This did not make Jonah happy, but it does appear that God was happy.

God's course of action was changed because the people changed.

Now we will read the story of God removing the kingship from Saul, the first king of Israel.
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.” And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may worship the Lord.” And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul bowed before the Lord. Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
1 Sam 15:10-35 (ESV)
The NIV translates 1 Samuel 15:29, "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."

The teaching that the Lord does not change his mind is put in the middle of a story where God changed His course of action.  So what is it saying?  We know that God was disappointed in Saul and changed his decision on who would be king of Israel because of Saul's great sin, but then we are told that God does not change His mind.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites at this time, we can get a better understanding of what is going on.  The Israelites were living under a theocracy.  God was the one that gave them Saul as king, but then Saul failed to be the holy king that God wanted.  Did God make a mistake in appointing Saul?  Was God vengeful and appointed a king for Israel that would be evil?  Or did Saul not live up to the calling that God had on His life?  I would choose the latter in light of the two passages that we have read from Exodus and Jonah.

So the Scripture in 1 Samuel emphasized that God does not change.  He has a purpose.  He has a will.  Those will never change.  God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  But his actions can change based upon the faithful living of us.  Moses stood up and showed God He could be the leader God wanted, so God changed his mind and relented from punishment.  The Ninevites repented and came back to the Lord, so God changed his mind and relented from punishment.  God is flexible, changing His course of action on the fly to bring about the greatest outcome.  God is not limited, but He has chosen to wait on us to be faithful.  

So God never changes in His nature, but He does change in His actions.

God is the God of hope. He hopes for the best. Despite all likeliness to the contrary, He is filled with hope that each one of us will do what is right. That is what stops Him from intervening at times when we deserve punishment; He is hoping for us to change and be the people He can totally use to bring about His will.  We must remember that His grace covers our constant failings and mistakes (biblically called sin), and He will use us, if we are willing and sometimes even when we are unwilling, to bring about His will.  But He often waits for people to be faithful to transform our neighborhoods, workplaces, and other surroundings into what He has destined it to be.

You may also be interested in God Does Not Know the Future and Change Brings Change but There is an Idea that Keeps Us Chained.

God Does Not Know The Future

I have been hesitant to post this one because some people take this issue as one of salvation, of which they would decide that I am out of.  I share my views here because I find this stance to be extremely liberating and profoundly life-transforming.

I believe that God does not know the future.

In theological circles, this is a belief called Open Theism. The idea is that those events that have not happened yet have not happened even to the eyes of God. God might know everything; however, he cannot know that which has not happened and cannot be known. He knows the infinite possibilities and their likelihoods, but God is going along in time with us. This view stems from the verses in the Bible where God changed his mind (Jonah 3:9-10, Exodus 32:14).  It is not an attack on God's sovereignty; it is just an admission that the future has not yet happened.

For some, this view gets hung up by the prophecies of Scripture. How can a God that does not see the future know events in the future? An open theist explains this problem by saying that anything God prophesied is more like a promise.  This actually emphasizes his sovereignty more by saying that if God wants to have an event occur, he has all of the power to make it happen.  Prophecies are not fulfilled because he has seen it happen but because he knows that he is going to make it happen. Open theism emphasizes the omnipotence of God while limiting the traditional view of omniscience, although he would still be all-knowing.

The opposite view to open theism is called closed theism. It depends on a philosophical construct that God exists outside of time and space. Please note that this is not a biblical construct; it is completely extrabiblical yet people make it an essential issue. The idea is that God exists in a place where our time can be viewed like a time-line that can be hung on a bulletin board in a classroom.  The past and future is all laid out and completed in God's eyes. He can peer in at any point on the finished time-line and see any point of time at any time. It is all finished for him. This view emphasizes that God knows the future. They claim this is revealed through the prophecies about the future which then came true, but we have already pointed out how open theists deal with that argument.

Closed Theism runs into serious problems when dealing with the Scriptures where God changed his mind. Many will argue that God did not really change his mind. This interpretation is a disservice to the Scriptures. A well-thought out explanation would argue that those explanations of God are just a form of anthropomorphism, describing God in human terms so that he can be understood. At that point, open and closed theists would just be arguing about what they believe is most logical rather than what the Bible says because they both know God is described in Scripture in a way that highlights that he does not know the future.

While an open theists wrestles with how prophecy works in a system where God does not know the future. A closed theist has to wrestle with something much more dangerous: How to define clear teachings of Scripture away from what they clearly say.

Many reside in some area between closed theism and open theism. They would argue that God sometimes knows the future and sometimes does not.  In this view, there would be varying degrees of foreknowledge. Those who reside in that gray area between closed and open theism would argue about how much of the future God knows, when God knows the future, and even argue that knowing whether God knows the future is something that we just do not know.

As for me, it seems more honest in dealing with the Scriptures to state that God does not know the future and is going through time with us. What really matters is that we all get our beliefs from Scripture and not from church traditions, the sentiments of the world around us, or from just not wanting to think about it too much.

You may also be interested in Does God Change His Mind and Change Brings Change but There is an Idea that Keeps Us Chained.

Religion is Still Relevant

On a forum that I interact in, it was posted concerning attempts at expanding gun control legislation in the aftermath of Representative Giffords shooting: 
"Or people with knives, or gasoline and ball bearings, or just stupid religious pronouncements to people not able to think for themselves. Hell religion is responsible for more death historically than the short period of time we've had guns. Ban religion."
His sentiments echo many of the comments I have read following the stories of this tragedy in Arizona.  There is a deep-seeded hatred toward Christianity stirring under the surface of our society.  I had to reply.

First, I want to say that I am not for the banning of guns.

Religion has been a tool that power-hungry politicians have used at times to get their will.  As we have seen in this nation and in the Soviet Union, when religion does not march along with the power hungry, they will just use nationalism and self-defense as a rallying cry.  The problem is people pursuing power at all costs, not religion.  Religion is not at fault for the deaths you are tossing at its feet.  Ignorant and power hungry politicians are. 

I admit that religion has been tainted at times throughout history; there is death on its hands. 

But there are glorious moments.  And they are still happening.  Every day across this nation. 

Just this week, I saw a doctor open up a free medical clinic in my town.  The first day was a trial run without much promotion, so we only saw three patients.  But Christians paid for $2000 worth of medical treatments for those three patients.  They had to be people who were too wealthy to have government insurance, yet too poor to have insurance on their own.  A category that is pretty massive in America right now.  Religion, throughout history, has helped in medical treatment for those whom society has deemed unworthy.

Last week, I sat through a presentation of an organization (Hope 2 Liberia) that is trying to bring hope and stability to the civil war torn nation of Liberia.  There was a banker in the audience who made the point, through a question, that he didn't think it was wise to make an investment in Liberia since it was not a stable nation.  In that setting, the investment would just go to waste in the midst of another crisis.  What he didn't grasp is that the Christian organization is not making an investment; they are just trying to be loving through providing safe drinking water, the best education possible, and health care.  It's not about an investment, but about loving people and bringing stability where investors won't put their money.  Our church will be doing a fundraiser in the fall to help them reach their $15 million dollar goal.

Last night I went to a concert (Winter Jam).  The entry to the concert was cheap ($10 a pop for big name bands).  The goal of the performers and producers was to get some of the 11,000 people attending to adopt children or support orphanages in nations where child abandonment is prevalent (through Holt International).

I am in negotiations with an inner city church in Ft. Wayne to let our country church partner with them in meeting the needs of the poor in the city.  They have a good system in place to not be abused by money grabbers, but they also don't ignore the down and out.  It's on that balance beam of being charitable yet responsible that these religious organizations live. 

So we can look at the terrible moments of the church, or we can look at the great moments.  As Sarah Palin said during the 1984 Miss Alaska beauty pageant, "In Alaska we have mosquitoes. We also have the most beautiful mountains in the world. The choice is ours as to which we'll focus on." 

Religion has brought a lot of good.  And guns, along with making wars bloodier and killing easier, have made it easier to hunt.  Mosquitoes.  Mountains.  You can choose what to look at.

I Can Do All Things

We often confuse contentment with complacency. Random House says that complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.” Biblical contentment is being “sufficient for oneself; independent of external circumstances; contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest.”

Paul wrote, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Contentment is not the opposite of drive. True spiritual contentment will not cause us to be complacent; it will actually be a catalyst to spur us forward.

Pastor Shannon O’Dell recently wrote Transforming Church in Rural America. In it, he states that “Leadership is resisting the urge to settle.” It would be good to broaden that a little bit and say that “Living is resisting the urge to settle.” When we are content, that shapes us into believing that we can do all things through Jesus who strengthens us. That will truly free us to live.

When we allow success, appearance, some activity, or happiness to be the gauge of our inner peace, then we will never have contentment and will never be able to accomplish anything of any significance because we will be too cowardly and afraid.

We need to understand that which Joseph understood at the end of the book of Genesis. We are left with this thought:

‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” [Genesis 50:20 (ESV)].

When you feel that you have hit rock bottom, realize that God will use this for good.  If Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned, and had to endure captivity before seeing better days, could recognize that good came from the bad, then we need to keep that in focus when we are going through our valleys.  This pit will eventually be good for us; we just don't have that full perspective yet.

I once heard the story of a man who was contemplating committing suicide. But instead of killing himself, he decided to smuggle Bibles into China. If he was caught and killed, that would be fine with him. But instead, through the process, he found meaning in his life.

I don’t know if that story is true or not, but it illustrates the point that we truly live when we die to ourselves and begin to live our lives for Jesus. We can get out of the situation we find ourselves in, but you are the only person who can pick up the shards of your dreams and go with them into the future. You are the only one that can surrender your will to God’s will. You are the only one that can say, “I will look for what God wants me to learn in every situation.” In that, you will find true contentment and meaning in life.

May we build our lives on the rock, Jesus Christ.

A Look at the Fairness Doctrine

With the recent shooting of Representative Gabrielle Gifford in Arizona by Jared Loughner, talk of the Fairness Doctrine has begun again.  Somebody must have this policy on the backburner to whip out to their political advantage during times like these.

The Fairness Doctrine was implemented in 1949.  It was a policy that was intended to insure that broadcasts on important public matters would be balanced, honest, and equitable.  It was repealed in 1987 under the urging of Ronald Reagan.  

The Fairness Doctrine is dangerous.  This comes from a guy who thinks that Rush Limbaugh is one of the most illogical people on the radio and would not mind if he was off the air, so I am not arguing on behalf of right-wing talk radio hosts.  I am arguing on behalf of freedom of speech, which seems to be under a constant barrage of attacks right with this push and the recent push to silence Wikileaks.

A survey in 2008 showed that 47% of Americans are in favor of a fairness doctrine on the radio and on television. I am sure this number has grown in light of the recent shooting in Arizona that is being spun in an attempt to push the fairness doctrine.  The last thing I want is for the government to force constraints on commentators because the inevitable conclusion-not just some slippery slope argument but a practical implementation of the Fairness Doctrine-is that some department in the government must decided what balance and fairness looks like.  After this is decided, the press will then have to do what the government decides is fair.  I find it hard to believe that legislation like this is even being debated in America. Nothing good could come of it, yet 47% of Americans think it is a good idea.

What the Fairness Doctrine would mean is that we would have to hear both the Republican and Democratic side of every issue. How convenient for the establishment. If every show would have to be like one of those cable news shows with the Republican talking point puppet on one side and the Democratic talking point puppet on the other, it would prevent any third view from entering the public forum. The two parties have created a tough enough system for a third party to crack, but the Fairness Doctrine would insure that the political debate would always be dictated by the two parties.

Michael Savage fought against the United States government allowing a Dubai company to manage the American ports. Under the fairness doctrine, would his view have been allowed on the air?  It was against both the Republican and Democratic position on the issue?

Although the two parties would like to present it as such, every issue does not nicely fit in with the Republican or Democratic bipolar political talking points. Some issues have three, four...fifty different viewpoints. It should not be up to the government to decide if a viewpoint is adequately represented on the air.  That is for the consumer to decide.

What would this mean to the internet? Would I have to find some fellow American to write opposing viewpoints to every political post I make? Would they silence me if I did not want to participate in their silly games?

Welcome to America, the home where they make us think we are free. We seem to be having a lot more in common with the "free" people in China.

Dying is like an Anchor

Dying is like pulling in an anchor, and we, the dying, are the anchor.  When the process of dying reaches its ending stages, we face all sorts of insecurities because we have lost the artificial purposes we have given ourselves in life.  Our body has failed us.  We are no longer keeping the family steady.  We are incapable of being the support we always have been and find ourselves being supported.  We are being pulled in.   

The pain is still there, but for some, the process of dying can be a blessing.  John Wesley, the man who started what is now the Methodist, Wesleyan, and Nazarene churches, proclaimed in his dying breath, "The best of all is, God is with us."  God is with us, through the storms and through the beautiful sunsets.  He is always here, with us.

As Paul wrote,
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

        “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
    “O death, where is your victory?
         O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. [1 Corinthians 15:54-58 (ESV)].
On a missionary journey from England to Georgia in the United States, John Wesley's boat was rocked by a storm and the mast broke.  Wesley's fellow sojourners from England were in a worrisome and fretful state, but the Moravians on the ship rested peacefully in the hands of the almighty and worshiped God through singing hymns.  This experience greatly impressed Wesley as he wanted what the Moravians had, a peace that could last through the storm.   

It does not do any good to ignore death, to pretend that it will not happen to us.  Our death will come.  Ignoring that will not make our days longer or help us to live better, but our dying should not be a process that paralyzes us in fear.  We need to learn to look death in the face, know that the victory is the Lord's, and continue on living the life He wants us to live.  As Paul wrote, when we do the work of the Lord, our labor is not in vain.  

There is nothing wrong with fighting death and continuing to live.  I have seen many people overcome illnesses and cancers to continue living life again.  But there will reach a point in each of our lives where the living is not much and the fight has dwindled; it will be our time.  We need to face death like the Moravians faced the storm, with a peace that can last even the greatest of trials.  We are being pulled in.

Stop the Lying in Wahsington (and in our lives)

Dr. Karl Menninger, who I wrote about in Legalism Brings about Division, Love Knits Us Together in Unity, wrote Whatever Became of Sin in 1973.  I recently picked this book up and have been awed page after page with how the problems of our society back in 1973 are still the problems facing us today.  His main point is that we gloss over sins, give them other names, and justify them away.  Here is a section of the book that just shows that some things never change.
Lies, Lies, Lies

I well remember the afternoon of Friday, May 7, 1915.  A half-dozen medical students at the University of Wisconsin were leaving the laboratory to go home for the day.  A newcomer arrived with an exciting message.  "They have done it!" he cried.  "The Germans have torpedoed the Lusitania.  And now the fat's in the fire.  There was no ammunition on that ship."

The argument as to whether Britain or Germany was most at fault continued for months and years afterward.  Sentiment turned increasingly against the Germans, and war began to be mentioned.  Finally, two years later, we were persuaded.  Over fifty years later, shortly before its own tragic demise, Life (October 13, 1972) published an excerpt from Lusitania, by Colin Simpson, a British journalist who had carefully examined all the old and much new information about the Lusitania.  And what does he say?

That the Lusitania was indeed heavily armed, that her manifests had been falsified to hide a large cargo of munitions and other contraband, that the English admiralty was strangely negligent in protecting the ship against attack, and that for some thirty years the United States Government purposely withheld the truth about the sinking from the public; it denied the facts and falsely accused Germany of an atrocity to arouse American sentiment against Germany.

In other words, while one cannot say that the event was staged, it was very largely maneuvered and greatly misrepresented and exploited by the British and American governments to induce hatred in the American people toward the German people.  In short, we were lied to by our leaders to maneuver our country into a war for political reasons and not to "save democracy."  By order of President Wilson, the truth about the Lusitania was buried until the time of President Franklin Roosevelt.

One hero stood out in all this shameful business.  On September 20, 1917, Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin stated in a public speech that it was true that the Lusitania had been carrying munitions and the President was aware of it.  The Senate promptly attempted to expel him for this treachery!  La Follette demanded exhibition of the true manifest of the Lusitania.  This was refused.  Dudley Field Malone, the Collector of Customs in New York, quietly offered to testify on La Follette's behalf, and the Senate dropped the shameful charges.  La Follette was one of the few public leaders who would not join in that great political lie which led to the death and maiming of millions of human beings.

I lived through these days and these conflicts of opinion and contradictory news dispatches, and the tragic years that followed.  For me, lying is a sin in large letters, and lying by leaders is unforgivable.

The rally cry, "Save Democracy," still has as much appeal to us today as it did in the run-up to World War One.  That war was sold as a fight for democracy and the war to end all wars.  But the American people bought into a mislabeled bag of goods that they paid for with their lives.  This war, and the condition that it left Germany in, set up a nation for the likes of a dictator like Adolf Hitler.

It seems that we have a historical tendency to create our greatest enemies through our involvement in affairs abroad.  We created the situation that created Hitler.  We funded Saddam Hussein and gave him the military equipment he then used against us.  We even gave Osama Bin Laden his wealth during his fight against the Soviet Union.  When are leaders lie, manipulate, and destroy in order to gain, we are left in a worse situation than we were before.

And we still follow the drum beat of lies into war.  We blindly believe our politicians when they say a war is how we are defending our homeland and saving democracy.

We need to repent as a nation.

We need to stop accepting lying as the status quo.

We need to call sin what it is and refuse to allow egregious and continual sinners to lead us.  A lie is a sin, yet we like to color it up and call it protection, marketing, and public affairs.  How have we allowed lying to become commonplace? 

We need to stop attacking those who point out that the emperor has no clothes and begin to be upset that the emperor is actually naked.  It is extremely difficult to stand up against the powers that be in a society that likes to pretend that the powers that be, at least the ones on the same side of the political aisle, are never wrong.  We must realize that those who we blindly accept as being right are those who are most dangerous to us.

Until our frustration is directed at the right things, we will never see any significant change.  Along with expecting our leaders to not be liars, we must also direct some of our frustration on self-reflection.  We need to repent and be the people that God wants us to be.  

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.  Psalms 20:7-9 (ESV)  

Some trust in lies and deception, in money and military might, but we will trust in God.  Let's stop coloring up sin in fancy, acceptable terms because sin is never acceptable.

Don't Follow the Crowd - Living a Life of Risk and Overcoming Failure

Colin Powell once said, “'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It's an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms.”  Our society must be filled with the complacent, the arrogant, and the scared because we have lost the ability to look our problems in the face and change.

We must learn to be bold, brave, and daring in this culture that preaches moderation.  This is the cautious culture that we have to raise our children or grandchildren up to be adventurous in.  The world’s going to want them to step in line, just like it wants us to step in line, but we have to be willing to follow God wherever He leads, even when it is out of line and off the beaten path.

We each have value as children of God.  We can lose our jobs and still have value.  We do not have to make as much as our neighbor or our spouse to have worth.  We do not have to be the best athlete, the best in our field, or have the most athletic children to be exceptional.  We should never base our self-esteem on anything other than our relationship with Jesus.  That’s crazy talk in our world of pride, scorn toward failure, self-help, and independence. 

But it’s the talk of the Apostle Paul.  “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”  This contentment that Paul tells us that he has, the contentment that is available to all of us through Jesus, will last through any storms.  It is independent of any physical situation.

There are two types of people.  There are those who let life beat them up, have given up, and just coast through life.  Then there are those who give life their all.  They are willing to quit their jobs and go start a business, move to another country to achieve their dreams in starting a farm, or to make the sacrifice to go back to school and better themselves.  They take life by the horns rather than letting life stampede over them and gore them.  

Richard Branson is one of those who has taken life by the horns.  He’s the founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Galactic, and 400 other companies – all of this was started with a record mail order business in 1970.  He had this to say about failure in an interview with Seth Godin. 

“Do everything you can to survive and not give up.  As long as you try everything you can, if you fail, you will sleep okay, you will pick yourself up.  When things are better, you will learn from your mistakes and start again.  If, on the other hand, you give up too readily, you will forever kick yourself.”

“Don’t take failure too seriously…You should realize that it is an important to just learn from it and come back and start again.  An awful lot of really big multi-millionaires and billionaires have been through  two or three bankrupt companies in their lives, have learned from them, and come back stronger.”

“Don’t be embarrassed about your failures as long as you have tried everything you can to avoid it.  Don’t take it too personally.”

So we keep trying new things.  If we are on our way to failure and keep trying the same old things, failure will most assuredly come.  But we can always change and try something new.

Each of us must be failing  if we are to succeed.  When was the last time you failed?  If it’s been a while, then you have stopped living.   We can either have two approaches in life – coasting through life or living through life.  Coasting is to only try things that are guaranteed and never risk anything.  In this approach we will never truly live or accomplish anything.  The other is to take on the attitude of Paul, to be content, and rest assured in the saying, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  It’s that mentality that will enable us to make a difference.

We must Fail in order to Succeed

Our society’s approach to failure is comical.  I don’t care if it is business, personal lives, or politics; everything has to be spun as if it were a success.  As soon as something bad happens, the talking heads start spinning it as an astounding achievement for whatever group they are associated with.  Nothing is ever negative. 

As individuals, we, like the political and other figures of our day, have this tendency to declare everything we do a success.  We want to hide mistakes and failures.  But what does this do to our growth if we actually grow more in our failures than in our successes?  What are we turning ourselves into  if we try to isolate ourselves from failure or deceive ourselves from really facing our failures?

Martin Luther, during the Protestant reformation, was influential in taking education out of the realm of the church and into the hands of the state.  Dr. Marilyn Harran notes that by doing this, “Luther allowed both teacher and student to rejoice in learning and to permit mistakes and even failure without undermining a person’s value and importance.”  In order to be content and have a healthy self-esteem, we must separate our worldly success from our inner peace.

We live in a culture where we attack failure so harshly that people become afraid to act because they are afraid to fail. 

Unfortunately, this can happen in a church.  It often seems like church leaders are like clay pigeons at a shooting range.  As long as they are not doing anything, maintaining the status quo, and not rocking the boat, they are safe.  But as soon as they start to move, the gunfire ensues and attempts to blow them to pieces.  A healthy church is just the opposite; it is a place where people can be creative about ministries, attempt different things, and have people there to support them and encourage them when they fail.  Every leader of every ministry in any church will fail at times.  I will deliver some bad sermons.  We’ll attempt some outreach programs that won’t click.  The worship will be a distraction some times and not conducive to us worshipping God.  Some children’s programs will be too chaotic and not gel.  Every ministry will have failures, but a healthy church is a place where it is safe to fail.  Instead of attacking and tearing down leaders in your church when they fail, be a place that builds up and encourage when people stumble. 

A healthy family is like that healthy church.  It’s one where everyone is a pillar of support under each other to propel one another toward their dreams: A place where children can try new things and have people there to support them and encourage them when they fail.  And a healthy church and a healthy family must be made up of healthy individuals who feel free to try different things and know they will be valued and supported when they fail.  Because if we are honest with ourselves, failing is something we do an awful lot if we are actually trying to grow.

It’s excruciating to watch kids learn to ride a bike.  It’s rare to have that kid who can just pick up a bike and start riding.  They fall and hurt themselves, but the adults around them encourage them to get back on and try again.  The adults don’t yell at the children and scream, “You suck!  Why are you always falling you stupid idiot!?”  The kids are already telling themselves that in their head and sometimes even out lout.  What they need is encouragement because the goal is to get that kid riding his or her bike.  Eventually, through the pain and suffering, they can ride the bike and feel a sense of accomplishment.

The safest way to never fail is to never try something new or different.  We all know picky eaters who will not try new food.  I am not one of them.  It doesn’t mean I will like everything I try, but it does mean I will taste it.  Being a picky eater does have its benefits.  It means that they will only eat what they like and not have to taste food that they dislike.  I have experienced some disgusting tastes in my life when I have tried different foods.   Not having those bad tastes does sound like a good thing, but it also means that I would not be able to discover what would possibly be my new favorite food.  We miss out when we don’t try.

May we not let our failures define who we are.  May we continue to learn through every situation and grow into who God wants us to be.