Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, December 13 2018 @ 12:33 AM UTC

Here is How Much God Loves You

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Do you know how much God loves you? Have you ever contemplated how great his love for you really is? And how about his wrath against our sin? Let’s start with God’s love. Here are six incredible demonstrations of God’s great love.

  1. He loves us to no greater or less degree than he loves his own sinless son (John 3:16).
  2. He exchanged himself for us as if we were of equal value to him. In II Corinthians 5:19 it says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” The Greek word here, used for “reconcile,” is a financial term that literally means, an exchange of equal value. God considered us as of equal value to Jesus. 
  3. He died for us while we were his enemies (Romans 5:10).
  4. He loved us so much he became like us, not considering equality with God a thing to be grasped (Philippians 2:6).
  5. He loves us so much that billions of years before he even created us he decided that he would die violently and unjustly, for our rescue (Ephesians 1:4). 
  6. He loves us so much that even though we killed him, and rebelled against him, he decided that he wanted to live with us, and in us, for eternity—trillions times trillions times trillions of never ending years. And he will never tire of us (Revelation 21:3-4).

Now, let’s turn this around. How much do you love God? Do you love him at all?


Ask Tom: What Is Apophatic Prayer?

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“Tom, what is apophatic prayer, and is it biblical?" - Lynn

Thank you for asking this question. Some people may look at this question and wonder, along with you, what apophatic prayer is. This is not a term which is familiar to most Christians. So, let me tackle your question first with a brief description of apophatic prayer and then provide you with some scripture about prayer and how Jesus instructs us to practice it.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines apophatic theology. “Apophatic theology, also known as negative theology, is a form of theological thinking and religious practice which attempts to approach God by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.”

That’s a bit convoluted, so let’s take this simple description of apophatic prayer, provided by author Jim Manney who states, “Apophatic prayer has no content. It means emptying the mind of words and ideas and simply resting in the presence of God.” 



The Promises of God Come With Separation and Death, So Merry Christmas

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Christmas is one of those holidays that I can take or leave. Perhaps it’s because of the way that we have trivialized what the holiday represents. We hang stockings, decorate trees, arrange manger scenes, and give gifts. Of course no one is fooled, it’s the gift giving and receiving that has become the real focus of Christmas. We love to get stuff. And we get joy, happiness, and a lot of squishy good feelings when our loved ones rip off the wrapping to expose our expressions of love. That’s a form of “getting” too. Nothing wrong with that, in and of itself; but we are fooling ourselves if we think that benign gift giving and receiving is really representative of what God gave man in Jesus Christ. God’s great gift to man, in point of fact, didn’t happen on that first Christmas. It happened on Good Friday when Jesus was violently crucified for our sins. Had the crucifixion never happened, and the resurrection, then Christmas would be meaningless.
The incarnation of Jesus Christ – God becoming a man – was an event so powerful and significant that for 2,000 years man has counted his days and marked his history by the birth of the babe in the manger. While ancient kings the world over were positioning themselves to be worshipped like living deities to their populations and remembered like gods, the real Son of God busied himself with becoming an everyday man. And yet that humble event, regarded as a sweet treasured moment that gives hope to mankind was in fact something altogether more brutal and violent than our holiday pageants, Christmas TV specials, and even church services willingly remember. We focus our Christmas remembrances on the coming of “Immanuel,” the God with us from Isaiah 7:14 and the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace,” of Isaiah 9:6. But the Christmas tradition, that is, the belief that God would send a Savior, appears in the Bible long before Isaiah’s hopeful promises. And in these foundational promises of God, from which even Isaiah’s prophesies spring, the seed of Adam, Abraham, and David was planted in blood.

It’s Why I Am A Missionary And Why John Allen Chau Died

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I am reflecting on the death of missionary John Allen Chau. According to NPR, Chau was a “26-year-old American missionary who was killed by indigenous people this month after sneaking onto North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal.” Chau wanted nothing more than to share the love of Jesus with the people whom he hoped to reach. But before he could reach their community he was shot through with arrows and died. The island is so dangerous that it’s doubtful if his body will ever be recovered.


I am reminded that we who have taken up the call of bringing Christ to others in foreign lands go to those lands without weapons or means of defense. Soldiers go to hard places but take with them the accruements of war. We thank them for their service—as we should. But missionaries often go to those same countries and have only the Gospel of Peace.


I love my life. For me, It’s hard to imagine living a different life where I’m not directly involved in reaching the world for Christ. But my life is a bit different than Chau’s.


How Did Noah Know What Was Clean?

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In the early chapters of Genesis, God spoke to Noah about building an ark to save his family and animals. God said, “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth” (Genesis 7:2-3).

Question: This passage mentions clean and unclean animals taken onto the ark. Yet the distinction between clean and unclean isn’t defined in the Bible until Leviticus 11, roughly 1000 years after Noah. Therefore, what is this passage in Genesis referring to? How did Noah know what was clean and unclean? Does it mean unclean in the same way as in Leviticus, or something else? Here are six possibilities to consider and one lesson as take away.


The Garden Of Eden Wasn't Perfect

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Do you think of Heaven as a perfect place? What does it mean for a place to be perfect? Many Christians think that Eden was a perfect place because it was a place without sin. Yet, will it surprise you to learn that Eden was not a perfect place? And what about Heaven? What is meant when we think of Heaven as a perfect place? To understand the idea of perfection as the Bible seems to present it, we must first look at the character and nature of God.

Nothing can be added to God's nature to improve upon himself. We cannot add to his complexity or simplicity or his moral attributes or his power. Everything about God and God's nature is already perfect without any addition. With God, there is no room for improvement.
Many times people think that the Garden Of Eden was a perfect place. We think of perfection as having no flaw or imperfections or any need for improvement. But the Garden Of Eden did not fit such a definition. The Garden Of Eden was a good place, though not a perfect place. And rather than offering just a challenge to our theology, I think this notion of the Garden Of Eden not being perfect is actually a comfort and creates in me some anticipation for what the Lord has in store for us in Heaven (which is also not perfect). 

Sometimes Jesus Didn't Mean What He Said

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Recently, someone wrote to me after reading my article on "Preach It Teach It," Teleportation Is Not A Spiritual Gift. He wrote to ask me if I was familiar with John 14:12 where Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” The implication of the question was that when Jesus said this, couldn’t it apply to teleportation? This question actually brings up other passages where Jesus seems to tell us that Christians will do remarkable things if they have enough faith to believe—things like moving mountains (Matthew 17:20), withering trees (Matthew 21:18-22), make trees fly (Luke 17:6), walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33), or even controlling the weather (James 5:17), all by faith. There is only one problem with this line of reasoning. In the nearly 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth, no one has ever moved a mountain, instantly withered a tree, made a tree fly, or walked on water. So, what is going on here? If we are Christians and believe in Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection, why can’t we do these things? Is this a matter of, as some would say, faulty faith?

Answers To An Atheist's 20 Challenges

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Author Armin Navabi of Atheist Republic has authored a short book entitled, Why There Is No God. The book offers rebuttals to 20 questions or proofs for God's existence.

Some of the rebuttals are well formulated, but ultimately each falls short in making the case for God's non-existence. This section of my website is my armchair attempt to provide counter-arguments to Navabi's ascertains.

Navabi is a former Muslim of Iranian decent. In the introduction to his book he explains his journey from devout Muslim to equally devout atheist. Being familiar with Islam myself, I easily noticed how Navabi's arguments apply to Allah as revealed in the Quran. While he applies these 20 questions to God in general, his main targets are Islam and Christianity. My responses to Navabi's challenges are written from an evangelical perspective.

Sometimes You Just Need The Basics

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Have You Heard Of The Four Spiritual Laws?

  1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

(references contained on this Home Page are linked to the actual verses from the Bible, and should be read in context wherever possible.) 

God's Love 

"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). 

God's Plan 

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3, NIV). What prevents us from knowing God personally?


The Problem Of Evil

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How can a good God exist if evil exist? This question has plagued mankind for centuries. The Bible assumes that both God exists and evil exists. But if God is all-loving and good, as well as all-powerful, how can he let evil exist.

On this page are several treatments to the aforementioned problem. Specifically, we approach the problem of evil by looking at God’s nature, God’s will, and God’s sovereignty. Most importantly, some of these answers will not seem emotionally satisfying. But they are treatments which approach the truth of God’s existence, and our existence and attempt to come up with a balance by recognizing that, yes, God exists and evil exists, and these two ideas do not cancel each other out.

If you’d like to talk further about this difficulty, after reading these treatments, please feel free to contact me at the email link on this page.