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Month 10:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5941:295 AM
2Exodus 4/40
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 16 January 2018
Gratitude & Praise
Giving Thanks in All Things?


    Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah. My apologies for not delivering any sermon to you last week which is on account of my ongoing illness that has reduced by work capacity to a finy fraction of what it used to be before. I very much covet your prayers for a miracle to enable me to go on. And if I sit during some sermons, it isn't because I am imitating the rabbis but because I am too weak to stand, so I crave your indulgence.

    Understanding Praise

    I would like to talk this morning about praise. How important is it in the lives of believers? And what exactly is it? Why are there so many different kinds of praise in the churches? And why do different denominations lay more or less stress on it? There's a world of difference, for example, between a Pentecostal assembly to a more traditional Lutheran one, for instance. Is there only one way to praise or many? As I have come to understand from the broad spectrum of scripture, praise is an expression of worship which recognises and acknowledges Yahweh-Elohim as the ultimate source and giver of all good gifts. I underline the word 'good' here because Yahweh is never the giver of bad gifts and we are certainly never commanded to praise Him or thank Him for anything bad outside one easily misunderstood scripture in Thessalonians that we'll take a look at in a minute. Praise, then, is a spontaneous response to manifested goodness in life from Elohim (God).

    The Ground for Praise

    Praise always has an object - there is always a ground or motive for it. We aren't just 'grateful' - we are always grateful for something, the object of our gratitude. Commonly we praise Yahweh for an act of redemption or deliverance when we are in need (Ps.22:23-31; 30:1-12) but we can also praise Him for something much wider like His acts of creation (Ps.103), like praising Him for the beauty and intricacy of nature, for example. There is also good reason to praise Him for His steadfastness and for His constancy in a world where these are rare species indeed, as it is written:

      "Let the Davar Mashiach (Word of Christ) dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to Elohim (God). And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Master Yah'shua (Jesus), giving thanks to Elohim (God) the Father through Him" (Col.3:15-17, NIV).

    Constancy in Praise

    Most importantly in the New Covenant, we are called to praise Yahweh constantly (Col.3:16-17), day in and day out, meaning that an attitude of praise should be our default way of being at all times - it isn't something we should need to 'manufacture' but it should just be 'there', coming out of our ground of being, and that, of course, is only possible through spiritual regeneration leading to communion with the Creator. If that is absent in a believer's life, he should seek for it most earnestly in prayer, asking Yahweh to change his heart through cleansing and in-filling of the Ruach (Spirit) so that he can get to personally know the Creator.

    Merlin Carothers

    I wonder how many of you are familiar with the writings of Merlin Carothers? He may be before the time of some of you. He was the author of two famous books, Prison to Praise (1970) and Power in Praise (1972), which I first read in the late 1980's. Carothers (1924-2013) was a Methodist chaplain in the US Army and subsequently converted to Pentecostalism. He made one particular scriptural passage central to his ministry, which I want to look at closely today, namely:

      "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances [1], for this is Elohim's (God's) will for you in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus)" (1 Thess.5:16-18, NIV).

    Give Thanks For Everything?

    He interpreted this passage to mean that we should be grateful for no matter what happens to us. "Giving thanks in all circumstances" was interpreted by him to mean 'giving thanks no matter what happens, even if it is evil', something that has always troubled me. One messianic preacher, who would not, I am quite sure, agree with the approach of Carothers, extrapolated the sense of this position by taking some concrete examples of what it could be taken to mean if understood wrongly:

      "You've got to give thanks that you're about to be thrown to a bunch of lions about to eat you. You've got to give thanks you have cancer...that your loved one died...that you lost that job...that you can't pay your bills...that your children are acting up...that you're having problems with your spouse..."

    Fry's Eye-Boring Parasite

    And the trouble is, there are believers who will thank Elohim (God) for such circumstances - like the rape and murder of a child - because they conclude that it must be Yahweh's will that such horrible things happen because 'He is in control'. Indeed, radical atheist and anti-Christian comedian and racconteur Stephen Fry often cites a parasite, the screw worm, which in Africa burrows out of a child's eye thus rendering him blind, as an example of how 'evil' any God would be, if He ever existed, for permitting such a ghastly thing. So that you get the picture of how horrible this beast is, let me tell you what it does.

    The Horror of the African Screwworm

    The screwworm, as it's called, isn't really a worm at all; it's a type of fly. To find its host, an adult female screwworm seeks out exposed flesh on an animal (usually some sort of livestock, but an injured soldier or a human baby isn't out of the question) in search of a place to lay her eggs. She prefers wounds, but may also settle on using the eyes, nostrils, or anus of her victim to construct a nursery. Next, the 200-or-so eggs hatch, and the larvae start burrowing into their host's flesh. Once they're situated in their cozy little meat tunnels, the infant flies continue to feed and grow. The bigger they get, the more they have to eat. Eventually, this creates a whole lot of festering and oozing on the host, which attracts more flies, which lay more eggs, which do more feeding and burrowing. It's a brutal onslaught, and a swift one. Screwworm larvae are reportedly capable of consuming an entire sheep or dog from the inside out in five to seven days.

    Would You Give Thanks?

    For Fry, a believer giving thanks for such a situation would be both insane and evil, and I would have to agree with him. It's a vile creature, clearly a product of the Fall. And I am sure that you, like me, could never accept that Paul would ever include thanking Yahweh for a parasite that destroyed a human being, let alone a sheep or a cow, like that. I choose an extreme example to make a point so that we don't deceive ourselves into making crazy assertions.

    Evil in the World

    The reality and horror of evil in this world typically causes many to stumble and reject Elohim (God), not just the evil done by men but the fallen condition of nature itself. No one contemplating such things for any length of time - believer and unbeliever alike - easily arrives at satisfactory answers. I will admit I have had agonising struggles over such questions in the past. All who experience tragedy do. And everybody tries to answer questions cosmic in their scope ... questions about good and evil ... does so in a slightly different way, as is inevitable when the finite mind tries to comprehend the infinite.

    The Carothers Miracles

    Ordinarily I would have rejected someone like Merlin Carothers out of hand as a fanatic who does not understand the heart of Elohim (God) or is insensitive to people's traumas. There are plenty of religious nutcases who demand that their followers believe and do outrageous things. Yet I have returned to Carothers' testimony again and again over the years, particularly in times of tragedy and poor health, and the only reason I have never trashed his books is because in applying 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to his life, as he understood it, he experienced miracle after miracle in his ministry that cannot denied. You don't dismiss such things lightly even if at first they seem to overturn your theological understanding.

    Central Tenets

    His central belief was, moreover, credible, particularly if, like Messianic Evangelicals, you are a continuationist - one who believes that all the New Testament gifts are still around and available to those with emunah (faith) and particular giftings from Yahweh:

      "Miracles, power and victory will all be part of what Elohim (God) does in our lives when we learn to rejoice in all things ... I have come to believe that the prayer of praise is the highest form of communion with Elohim (God), and one that always releases a great deal of power into our lives."

    The Justice of Elohim

    Personally I could never accept that we should be grateful for any evil in our lives or the lives of others. Such a thought is utterly repugnant to me, and neither do I believe that Yahweh would expect us to rejoice in something that He has clearly stated in Scripture that He hates. Actually, this is much of the same theology, reasoning and gut reaction I have against the orthodox Christian doctrine of eternal damnation for Yahweh would never command us to forgive seventy-times seven (Mt.18:22) - i.e. indefinitely - were He not, at some point in the vast expanse of time, and not necessarily at all the same time, be willing to forgive on His scale, namely, infinity, and therefore everyone [2]. I am not, however, a 'classical' universalist [3], as that would be contrary to the justice of Elohim (God), but believe in universal graded salvation [4]. But these are topics for another discussion.

    Is Yahweh Actually in Everything and Everyone?

    An offspin of the idea that Yahweh should be thanked for everything that happens to us, our friends, and our loved ones must logically be that Yahweh is Himself 'in everything' including 'everyone'. Yet Scripture testifies that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) only inhabits the pure who have repented of their sins and in consequence of which confess that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) died on the cross as an atonement for our sins. And if no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of Elohim (God), as is true, then there is very clearly a separation between Elohim (God) and man until man has, through his own volition, taken the necessary steps to get right with his Creator, and receives spiritual regeneration and the indwelling Ruach (Spirit). Very clearly, then, Yahweh is not present in evil, nor does He ever acknowledege its authorship even if He accepts ultimate responsibility for it by virtue of making malakim (angels) and men free agents, a reason why Elohim (God) in the form of the Son had to make an atonement to cleanse the universe out. It's no different from a father accepting responsibility, and paying, for damage caused by a child who breaks a neighbour's window with his ball. The father did not create the damage but accepts responsibility for the actions of his ward whose freedom to either obey or break rules he likewise grants.

    Honestly Mistaken Theology

    So why did Carothers experience miracles? Because where there is authentic emunah (faith) and heart-felt praise, Yahweh will never fail to turn up in some form or with some kind of blessing, however honestly mistaken some of our theology may at times be. That's one reason I utterly reject the legalism of the ultra-messianics who claim you cannot be saved unless you prounounce Elohim's (God's) name correctly and create a climate of fear and doubt in the hearts of honest, decent people. Yahweh is more concerned that you discern His character correctly than you get the right sound out of your larynx and mouth.

    Theological Puritanism

    Indeed, Yahweh has been working through men and women adhering to all sorts of bizzarely false doctrines over the centuries precisely because He judges no man in his ignorance. This is something that 'theological puritans' often fail to 'get' because a great deal of pride is invested not only in their teaching but, more importantly, in their 'doing'. Before long they may find themselves unconsciously promoting a works-based 'gospel' because people aren't 'doing' and 'saying' what they are when they think they should be. It is so easy to trip over one's own self-righteousness, and self-righteousness stinks rather horribly - it's repulsive.

    Knowledge Brings Accountability

    This is not, of course, an excuse to be theological casual or negligent. Many people coming to this ministry for deeper theology and emet (truth), which they often lap up because they are hungry (or flee from if its hot potatoes scare them enough), they often fail to understand that once the emet (truth) has penetrated you, you become responsibile and accountable to do something about it. The 'heavenly winking'in the days of our ignorance is then over and there are no longer any excuses for disobedience.

      "In the past Elohim (God) overlooked [our] ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30, NIV).

    Sometimes It is Better Not to Know

    In some ways it is better they then never came to us if their intention was to park the emet (truth) in the realm of the mind and leave it there, never putting it into practice, for one day Yahweh will ask, "Why didn't you do it, then?" True emunah (faith) is pro-active - always.

    The Demand of Divine Holiness

    So I believe Carothers got it wrong when he misinterpreted 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to mean that we should give thanks for cancer, rape, child-abduction, etc.. and by implication forcing his readers to conclude that Yahweh was somehow in the rape, cancer, child-abduction, etc. because of the false New Age belief that Elohim (God) is pantheistically 'in' everything. No, His holiness demands that He stay apart or qadosh from (that's what the word 'holy' means) cancer, rape, child-abduction, etc., but that does not mean that He is not in the persons suffering these things who call upon Him - or even those who do not - for His heart is broken by such evil, which He hates - loathes with every fibre of His Being. Nor does it mean that we should stop praising Him when horrible things are happening to ourselves and loved ones, because we know - or ought to know - His heart and what it is He wants to do for us and them. He is still praiseworthy whatever the immediacy of horror inflicted on us by Satan. And yet there is agency in the way we choose to respond too.

    Agency, Suffering, Evolution and Reincarnation

    This is an old, perennial subject, isn't it? This is the question that so often causes men to faint and lose emunah (faith) - 'why does Elohim (God) permit such awful suffering?' is usually both the complaint and excuse for not embracing Him. And it boils down to agency, the price for which most don't want to pay yet somehow think is their 'right' because what they really want is the freedom to sin, and for sinning to be without consequences. That's why, at the very deepest levels, people are angry with Yahweh, because He demands we accept responsibility for our choices, and we don't want Him there meddling in our affairs. Yet without Him we would never have enjoyed life or the freedom to choose in the first place. So instead sinners invent 'convenient', escapist myths to explain their origins the way they would like them to be - they want to believe the universe created itself out of nothing without a moral directive (evolution) so that they too need not be moral, or postpone repentance, as they suppose they may, by embracing reincarnation instead. But unless my science has gone completely to pot since I retired, there is certainly no way that nothing made everything out of nothing, and who would want to return to this world of suffering millions of times in order to save himself? Ghandi called that "a burden too great to bear", never mind the actual impossibility of someone saving himself...

    Positive Attitude and Action

    There is another important point another minister picked up on, whose name I confess I have forgotten so I hope he will forgive me for not naming him, and this (paraphrasing) is more-or-less what he said: Just because you have a positive attitude towards something does not mean you are going to necessarily behave in that particular way. Just because you have a positive towards the Bible, the Torah, the Scriptures, or to keeping the mitzvot (commandments) - just because you have an incredible knowledge about these things, know the Bible off by heart, speak Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek fluently, know the nuances of every Hebrew word or can interpet every paleo-Hebrew pictogram that comes your way - just because you have this fantasic Scriptural knowledge and have a head crammed with theological factoids, and walk in what may be said to be a 'Scriptural attitude', doesn't mean that you automatically behave in the way of the Scriptures. It simply means that you think way of the Scriptures do. And whilst this is absolutely a good start, unless it is translated into real-life interactions, it's a bit like having the blueprint of something unfolded on the table of your life without it ever being used to build anything. The internet is a paradise for such people because anyone can spout off online yet be living totally contrary lives. Attitude without practice may be more than a little like emunah (faith) without works - it's not alive (Jas.2:20,26). If we trick ourselves into thinking we are grateful for things when in reality we aren't - and you can tell because you quite simply don't have simcha (joy) in your life, and you don't have simcha (joy) because you're not satisfied or content - then where will you stand in your life? What will be your goals? What will your life flow into?

    Have You Got to Give Thanks That...?

    So you have got to give thanks for all of your circumstances? Is that what you think? Have you got to give thanks that you're about to be thrown to a bunch of lions clammering to eat you? Have you got to give thanks that you have received a diagnosis of cancer and are dying? that your loved one just died? that you lost just your job and your family now faces the prospect of starving and becoming homeless because you can't pay the bills? Have you got to give thanks that that your children are acting up, or that you're having problems with your spouse, or that your spouse is committing adultery and is leaving you? Have you got to give thanks when your country has just declared war and you're about to be drafted in the army to possibly die for an evil cause?

    What Bad Translations Say

    Fortunately, that's not what the Bible says you have to do. It does not say, "give thanks for all circumstances", even if some bad translations like the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation (NWT2e), the Anglican New English Bible (NEB) and the Living Bible (LB) paraphrase say exactly that, or if other versions are sufficiently vague enough to leave sufficient doubt in your mind for you to come to that wrong conclusion [1].

    What Paul Actually Said

    It says give thanks IN all circumstances, not because something terrible has happened to you but because you know that Yahweh is going to do more in your life in spite of this terrible time. Yahweh knows where you are, even if you don't. He sees the road ahead clearly. He sees the light at the other end of the tunnel which you can't yet see. Are you going through that 'dark valley' that David speaks of in Psalm 23 which believers are not promised they will be spared? Yahweh has placed you somewhere to do something more. You will never experience legitimate simcha (joy) if you do not put into practice the behaviour of gratitude for what He has already done that is good and in anticipation of the good He will yet do if you keep trusting Him. Gratitude is not, in any case, optional for a believer, just like generosity is not optional for a believer, just as ahavah (love) is not optional for a believer.

    Passive or Active Faith

    What do you suppose Yahweh will make of the person who dares articulate what he is actually feeling when the going is bad time and blurts out, "I believe in Yah'shua (Jesus)!...but I don't want to be be grateful, generous or loving." Is that actually biblical emunah (faith)? That's a contradiction unless by 'faith' you really just mean passive belief of His reality...an armchair religion that demands nothing much. Well, the demons already believe that, incidentally, yet shudder with fear (Jas.2:19). The two go together. They're inseparable.

    Blaming Elohim

    Yahweh is not saying that we cannot be angry at evil, or be broken-hearted at what evil has done to us or our loved ones, or vent. All Paul is saying is DON'T BLAME YAHWEH. Don't do what Mrs.Job wanted her husband to do - to curse Elohim (God) and die. He never did, because he knew better. Remember, this is a price you agreed to pay before you came here in order to be free to choose good or evil, and not be a slavish automatom. When you blame Yahweh, get angry with Him, and stop being grafeful for what He has done - remember, He purchased your salvation, gave you promise of eternal life and an immediate downpayment of the Ruach (Spirit), and took care of you when you have often not deserved it - when you blame Yahweh or get angry with Him, you have in effect rejected Him and leveled a satanic charge against Him, namely, that He is the malicious and cruel author of the evil that has beset and traumatised you, or that He doesn't care, or any of the other excuses we offer.

    Shutting Down and Going Into Denial

    There is no way any of us is ever going to be able to answer all the 'big' questions as to why Yahweh did not prevent this or that evil being done to 'good' people. We'll never fathom it. But think about it, practically-speaking - what is the alternative? Anger? Resentment? Bitterness? Blame-shifting? Do these ever do any good for anyone? What about turning to atheism? That's just a big cop-out and most know deep down that atheism is absurd, like a parent disowning a child and pretending he doesn't exist because he did something he totally disapproves of. When people 'convert' to atheism, it's more often than not an act of defiance followed by a deep denial that results in a personality split - they know Elohim (God) is real, they just don't accept the terms on which this universe are made ... as if one act of defiance, or millions of acts of defiance by millions of people for that matter ... is going to make any difference at all except to strengthen those forces responsible for the evil in the first place - the evil we are so upset about? People do not think straight. They wear their emotions on their sleaves, react out of their guts, and shut down their heads and hearts. They are terribly contrary at times.

    The Immutability of Cosmic Torah

    The laws that govern the physical and moral universe are not made by us. They don't arise out of our own minds and preferences even if some folks may believe that they do, especially moral law. That's absurd. You defy gravity at your peril, you defy your natural, biological, biochemical gender at the expense of your sanity, and you deny righteous living with the same result. The Cosmic Torah or Law that governs Creation is made elsewhere because Justice comes from elsewhere and we cannot alter it. It isn't made by individuals, governments or man-made religions. So we are obliged, as a result - quite often - to do things we would not ourselves choose to do and not to do things which we would wish to do - the flesh wants to go one way but the Divine Law insists we go in the opposite direction, and we simply don't like that. But we can't change that Cosmic Law or the Justice it eventually imposes.

    Distilling the Core of Carothers' Message

    All Carothers discovered, and implemented, was that gratitude and praise in the midst of evil not only does not pull the plug on your own spiritual life, happiness, stability and well-being, but connects you all the more strongly to Yahweh so that you can ride victoriously through life, doing good, building people up and building the Kingdom of Heaven in spite of not understanding everything. I don't understand a lot of the tragedies in my own life and I know you don't in yours either. I admit, I still struggle, but I choose to continue on the Derech (Way) that bought me spiritual liberation in the first place and which gives me the assurance of a blessed future, beyond the suffering of this life and into a far greater eternity than the short mortal span down here. Above everything else, it has introduced a quality of ahavah (love) into my life which isn't obtainable anywhere else. The alternative choice is no choice at all - it's irrational. It's insane.

    The Nature of the 'Other' Type of 'Love'

    So what is the 'other or alternative love' that atheism, in the midst of its own anger and bitterness, offers as a replacement to the ahavah (love) of our Father in Heaven? The kind of 'love' that is offered by the world is what Peter Hitchens calls "that soppy inability to distinguish between good and bad, or a desire to make oneself look good in the eyes if others by appearing to be sympathetic to their plight while forgetting the plight of others" [5]. Yahweh's ahavah (love) considers the well-being of everyone, not just the folks we like or those whom we especially want to like us. That kind of partial 'love' is forced to take away from others in order to benefit those we want to be liked by or to impress ... like 'fellow atheists', for example, or others moping and complaining about how 'hard' life has been to them. That's a totally different kind of 'love' to Yahweh's which is summarised beautifully by Paul:

      "Love does no harm to its neighbour...Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the emet (truth). It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." (Rom 13:10; 1 Cor 13:4-8, NIV).

    Pretending to be Loving

    It is easy to gain in men's eyes an apparent moral advantage by posing as generous. We see, for example, our governments apparently being 'generous' and 'loving' by encouraging mass migration. It certainly makes them feel good but it does not take into consideration at all the needs or wants of the tax-paying citizens who have to foot the bill, who were never given a say, and who probably would have been generous within reason, but who were bludgeoned into accepting 'generosity' on their behalf, who have most to adapt their lives to cope with change caused by massive influx of unintegratable new people, who have to accept the pressure on employment and wages, the increasing pressure on all welfare services - schools, hospitals, public transport and housing. Yet the prosperous left-wing middle class people who seek to gain moral advantage by posing as generous do not experience the 'generosity' which they wish to inflict upon others. I guarantee they won't be volunatrily putting up a refugee family in their own homes. That is the fake 'love' of atheism and socialism, which is what you are basically forced to turn to if you reject Yahweh's ahavah (love), which is for all. It is easy for those handing out other people's money to show 'generosity' to charity; it is easy for them be ostentatious with the sweat and blood expended by tax-payers' hard-earned labour in adhering to 'good causes' but none of this is actually doing any 'good' in the biblical sense. All that kind of 'love' does is to make the giver of other people's money and labour, look or appear to be good in the eyes of the beneficiaries.

    The Favouritism of the Angry and Bitter

    I share this by way of an illustration of the human condition and its demonically-inspired, counterfeit version of 'love'. Genuine love has to be freely given, it can't be extracted or imposed by force. This is why angry, bitter people, who show favouritism in the giving of their 'love' and 'affection', are quite repulsive. Yet, in the absence of Yahweh's ahavah (love), what else is realistically available in the Circus Maximus that is Satan's world system? That's why the choice between the Besorah (Gospel) and everything else is so stark, and why there's no middle ground. Blaming the Author of Ahavah-Love does not improve anyone's prospects. You can learn that the hard way if you want, or not at all, or else you can continue to exercise emunah (faith) and grow. So don't be fooled by the kind of 'love' that the pity-partyers crave and subsist on from one day to the next. Why live on a diet of corn husks, fit enough only for pigs, when your Heavenly Father offers you a banquet every day - in both good and bad times? Then you can be grateful and praise the Most High no matter what, because of His goodness, not because of the pain Satan is inflicting on you and your loved ones.

    Only Good Things for Believers?

    And that's the thing: uninformed believers do a great disservice in saying to potential converts that when they accept the Besorah (Gospel) that only good things can happen to them - health and wealth, riches and power. It's a lie. That's what Satan offers! It's what the Devil offered Messiah when he was being tempted in the wilderness after 40 days of fasting. Yes, Yahweh does lots of good things, even for unbelievers, and were He to stop doing any of that, the world would slip into utter darkness in an instant. The Egyptians had a foretaste of that in the Ninth Plague of thick darkness. It would all be over. The trouble is, we take our blessings for granted all too often and forget that Yahweh never allows believers to endure more than they are able to bear. He sets the limits. So know that no matter what has happened in your life, is happening now, or may happen in the future, that you can survive and you can overcome to eventually prosper. You just have to choose whether you believe that or not.

    Traces of the Old Paradise

    Tragedy happens, evil exists and none of us are immune to it because of the supreme gift of free agency given to mankind without which we would never even know what true ahavah-love was like, let alone own it through emunah (faith) in the resurrected Messiah. This post-Adamic world was never intended to be an outward paradise for those being born into it, even if traces of that original Paradise are still to be found and which one day will return. There's a bigger picture we need to be aware of.

    Don't Make a Hasty Rejection

    Yes, I'll admit, there are lots of things I would have preferred my Heavenly father to have shielded me from. But read the story of Job. Did he overcome His grief? Was he, in the end, able to praise El Elyon, the Most High? Yes to both. You may recall how we discussed his life story and how I wrestled with it myself not so long ago. And understand this: it's OK to wrestle! Just don't leap to wrong conclusions and make rash decisions in a moment of emotional turbulance. Give the Creator the benefit of the doubt, just as you are supposed to with your brethren and sisters, just as you would like others to do with you. We none of have the whole picture.

    Praise is Faith in Action and Releases Yahweh's Power

    So I am going to agree with Carothers' conclusion, although in a slightly different way, perhaps. As a kind of summary of one his books, which he puts on the back of his second book, Power in Praise, Carothers asks us to accept this proposition, which I'd like to invite you to think deeply on:

      "Praise is is a permanent acceptance of what Elohim (God) has brought into our lives ... Praise releases the Power of Elohim (God) into our lives and circumstances, because praise is faith in action".

    What's the Alternative?

    Yahweh does not bring evil into our lives - such would be contrary to His loving heart - but He does permit the Adversary to act within certain limits for reasons which may not be fully apparent until later. But certainly such will develop our character and grow our emunah (faith) if we do not curse or reject Him. All He asks is that we trust Him. What's the alternative? Trusting in star dust? Embracing anger and bitterness that eats away like a cancer? Trying to punish Elohim (God) like Stalin who angrily shook his fist at Yahweh just as he died? Oh yes, that murderous atheistic communist dictator was a believer alright, just as Karl Marx had been, but not unto eternal life but only as the demons are 'believers' - they knew both He and Satan existed and made a choice for Satan. Those men knew exactly what they were doing but were stupid enough to convince themselves that they could either mentally kill or punish Elohim (God) by swallowing the venom of hatred and revenge and then viciously taking it out on mankind, as Marx proclaimed he would in fact do, and as his communist instruments like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot actually did. They tortured and butchered tens of millions of people but they most assuredly did not kill the Creator. He speaks today as He always has done and He changes lives of emptiness into lives of simcha (joy) for those who will believe.


    The antedote to terrible loss is praise after all - not praise for the horrible thing that may have happened, but praise because Yahweh is not the source of the evil - praise because He remains good, because He remains with us and loves us in spite of the evil. This is the price of agency without which there could be no true ahavah (love) in the first place. That doesn't mean we are not to grieve or be sorrowful, for there is a necessary - and blessed - time for that too. He also weeps with us in our sorrows (Eccl.3:4; Mt.5:4; Jn.16:20; Rom.12:15; Jas.4:9). It is not an easy road but it is absolutely a necessary one. There is no happy alternative, no shalom (peace) by any other route. May His Name be praised! Amen.


    [1] "in all circumstances" (NIV, ISRV2009e, NRSV, ESV, NAB, GNB/TEV); "in all" (Halleluyah) "under all circumstances" (BV); "whatever the circumstances" (JBP); "in everything" (NKJV, NASB, AENT, KNT, CJB, HRV, HCSB, CLNT, OJB, AmpV, Aram.Peshitta, MRC); "for everything" (NWT2e); "whatever happens" (NEB, S&G); "no matter what happens" (LB)
    [2] See articles on the Hell Page
    [3] See Yahweh's Promise of Universal Salvation
    [4] See Universal Graded Salvation: Important Questions Answered
    [5] Peter Hitchens, from the Q&A's in a lecture given in Copengahen, Denmark, January 2018
    [6] See A Question of Purpose I: The Great Lesson of Job

    Further Reading

    [1] Prayer Series V: Miracles

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    This page was created on 15 January 2018
    Last updated on 27 January 2018

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