August 24, 2009

When Bottom-Line Thinking Ruins Everything This year was supposed to be the year my football team broke out of their rebuilding phase and rose to challenge the Patriots, Colts, and Steelers for the right to represent the AFC in the SuperBowl. Instead, we have sunk to cellar, hoping to crawl out with a new head coach who is younger than his best veterans and without a Pro Bowl quarterback who was supposed to be the second coming of John Elway. The trouble began months ago when a teary man in his mid-sixties simply said he was firing one of best friends because "it was time". Pat Bowlen's joint press conference with Mike Shannahan, his Superbowl-winning coach of 15 years, was the most crying I've ever seen in the NLF-- except of course for the time Brett Favre retired...the first time. Pro football, as we are reminded every offseason (which should be called "contract dispute season") is a business. And in any business, the bottom line is what matters most. Friendships are good; team loyalty counts for something, especially during the season. But in the end, players, coaches, owners, and VPs must produce or be fired. America's pastime, baseball, now marred by multiple steroid scandals, is carnage on the altar of bottom-line thinking. Is it really surprising that the immense pressure to produce godlike statistics to match their godlike salaries has driven so many pro athletes to Performance Enhancing Drugs? Teams want to make more money; to make more money you have to win more; to win more you need the best coaches and players; to get the best players you've got to pay them the best salaries for their position. And when you pay them that much, they better produce. And when there's that much pressure to produce, vocational purity is lost. There is nothing...
Is God Angry? The long-standing view of God is that He is an angry school master, ready to bring the full weight of His wrath upon us at the slightest provocation. His holiness, it has been thought, necessitates His rage, but somehow Jesus persuaded the Father not to smite us-- as if Christ were a poor boy begging his father not to hit his mother any more. As a counter response to this warped view, the trend in our age is to paint a picture of God as being so loving that He would never be displeased or disappointed by anything we do (as Paul Young suggests in The Shack). "God is love", we quote the Scripture, but then proceed to fill out the picture of what "love" looks like by using our human examples. But it is not human love that leads us to understand what God is like; it is God's love that sheds light on what Love is. The pages of Scripture (particularly in the early history of Israel and in the later in the prophetic passages) are full of examples of God's anger toward sin and His destruction of sinners. There is very little doubt that God gets angry. We also understand that His anger is rooted in His justice. He can't tolerate sin and still be called "Holy". But is His anger the last word? How does His anger interact with His love? Based on both Old and New Testaments, here are some thoughts: 1. God's Love Comes First.
 "But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Ps. 86:15 (NIV) In Deuteronomy, when Moses is giving Israel a recap of the law and final reminders before they enter the Land without him, he reminds them that that God...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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