WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL TO EXIST?

Illustration from Foster Shannon’s Book, “The Scroll With Seven Seals”: http://www.gogreenleaf.com/the-scroll-with-seven-seals-what-the-book-of-revelation-really-says/

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

One of the questions asked by both believers and unbelievers is, “Why does God allow evil to exist?” We approach the subject of evil with humility. We recognize hat there are multitudes of factors that are beyond our understanding. The arguments from atheists and others go something like this:

  1. A good God would destroy evil.
  2. An all powerful God could destroy evil.
  3. Evil is not destroyed. Therefore God cannot be good, nor can he be all-powerful.

If we insist that God must not allow evil, then He should never allow inconveniences or disappointments. Neither would He allow warfare and disease. Should He not always protect us from traffic accidents and arguments? Should He not be responsible to see that in marriage, we never have a disagreement? If God is good, is it right for Him to deny us any pleasure? How is it that people can blame God for the bad things that occur, yet not be willing to praise Him for the good things that He pours out upon us? Are the atheists sulking, because God cannot be treated as if he were Aladdin’s genie?

God is not our enemy! We commit all kinds of sin, and then we ask why does not God do something about it? The answer is that God teaches us in the Scriptures regarding the kind of life that we should live. Through the new birth, He enables us to live virtuous lives. Reckoning with our sin and our inability to save ourselves, God is calling us to trust in Him for our salvation.

Where does the critic get the moral authority to sit in judgment upon God? Does our behavior throughout history, confirm us as wise and competent judges? Our troubles as human beings are the consequences of our own wrongs and sins. We fight wars. We steal from one another. We murder people whom we hate, or from whom we would take their possessions. Our primary enemy is not society; it is ourselves. We commit sins of all kinds, and then we ask why does God not do something about it? The answer is that God teaches us in the Scriptures regarding the kind of life that we should live. Through the new birth, God enables us to live virtuous lives. Reckoning with our sin and our inability to save ourselves, God is calling us to trust in him for our salvation:

“And there is salivation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts :12)

We live in a world that is in turmoil. We see it in the violence in the streets in many American cities; in the killing that continues in Syria and Iraq, with little hope of resolve. We see it in the governing regime in North Korea. We see it in the city of Chicago with a murder rate that is out of control, much of it blacks killing blacks.

Our future and our hope is with our Savior. He is our teacher. He is our helper. He is the God who will save us. “The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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TRUTH IS TO BE CHERISHED

bible-light-rays-web

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Jesus said “Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Pilate then asked him, “What is truth?”

We live in a time that truth does not get its due respect. Many people in our nation believe that it is all right to lie, if it is in a good cause. Of course, if it is your case, it is always a good cause! So you are free to deceive! Lying and deceit are harmful to our lives, to the lives of others, and to the society in which we live. Lying can be destructive to families. Lying can be destructive to business. Lying can be destructive to our governing processes.

“Do your best to present yourselves to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (II Peter 2:15)

The Enron Corp. was a web of lies, and filed for bankruptcy on 12/2/01. The related scandal caused the dissolution of Arthur Andersen, one of the world’s top five accounting firms. Early in 2001 the company’s stock had been at $80 to $90 per share. By November, the stock previously considered a blue chip was virtually worthless. 5/26/06 Jeffrey Skilling (chief executive) was convicted of 19 of 28 counts of securities fraud and wire fraud. Sentenced to 24 years, 4 months in prison; Kenneth Lay (chairman) was convicted of six counts of securities fraud and faced a total sentence of up to 45 years. He died on 7/5/06. Sixteen people pleaded guilty for crimes committed at the company. Thousands of Enron employees and investors lost all of their savings, children’s college funds, and pensions when Enron collapsed.

The Christian religion has to do with objective truth.

  • God created the heavens and the earth
  • God revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
  • God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt
  • God brought the people of Israel into the land of Canaan
  • Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. He rose again from the dead
  • Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross
  • Those who believe in Christ are to be his witnesses
  • If we believe in Jesus and trust him as our Savior, we shall be with him forever

Truth frees us from spiritual blindness: Ephesians 4:17,18

“Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

Truth frees us from the slavery of sin: Romans 6:16

“Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Truth frees us from the fear of death: John 5:24

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (II Corinthians 2:14)

Foster H. Shannon
More about Foster…
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences.
The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com.
He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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DOES GOD ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.  Matthew” 21:22
Prayer is exemplary in the Bible. We find it everywhere. There are many teachings on prayer; many commendations of prayer. Jesus is an example to us in his recourse to prayer—and the Bible is abundant in teaching and inviting us to pray. Jesus gave us instructions regarding prayer:

1) Don’t pray like the Pharisees who love to be heard in public for the impression that they can make. (Matthew 6:5)

2) Pray in private; “Go into your own room and close the door and pray there.” (Matthew 6:6)

3) “Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46)

4) “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)

5) Jesus gave us a pattern of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy
name—Thy kingdom come—Thy will be done…Give us this day our daily bread…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Prayer presumes a personal relationship with the living God. There are prerequisites to prayer: We must pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. We must pray according to the will of God;

“Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

If we affirm that God answers our prayers, we mean all of the following: That he will give us, sooner or later, what we have asked of him. That he will tell us to be patient and wait; the answer will come. That the answer will come because we have asked for something that is good for us or for others. That we are to be in harmony with God in our prayers.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)

Jesus told the parable of the widow and the judge (John 18:1-8), who ignored her and refused to decide her case, because it was a small matter that was beneath him. However, she persisted, and continued to come back to court. He finally said, to get her off his back, “I will decide her case”.

“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.”  (John 18:7)

Prayer does not mean that we put God under our control. We are to be submissive to God, who is amazingly great. He is not to be submissive to us. Prayer is not like Aladdin’s Lamp (just rub it and your wish will be fulfilled). Indeed, prayer is speaking with God. We should expect to listen as well as to speak. He speaks to us through the scriptures, through the Sunday sermon, through our consciences.

Many have recognized that there are five aspects to the complete prayer:
1) Adoration and praise
2) Confession
3) Thanksgiving
4) Supplication
5) Intercession

“Call to me and I will answer you—and will tell you great and hidden things which
you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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A LESSON FROM THE OLYMPICS…TO FINISH WELL

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Bode Miller of the United States skis during training for the  2014 Winter Olympics  in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Bode Miller of the United States skis during training for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

What is life about ? Does it have a purpose? Is there a destiny that God has for each one of us? Or is it all meaningless? Is there nothing ahead? If there is a destination, should we not understand it. If there is a purpose in life, should we not pursue it? If there is a God to whom we are accountable, should we not seek his will?

Actually, God has laid out his plans for us, and we do well to heed them. His purposes will be fulfilled. We need to be in harmony with him! We can sum it up briefly: God created us for eternal fellowship with himself. In this life, due to the sins of our first parents, we all struggle with sin: the contest between God’s will and our choices. The history of the world is of rebellion against God on one hand—and the gracious provision of God for our salvation. His purpose is that we might believe in him, read and trust his word, and aspire to the destiny that he has for us.

What is that destiny? That we might believe in God, and worship him. That we might confess our sins and find forgiveness in him. That we might be sold out to him, belong to him, seeking his will and his purpose above everything else. Because of the eternal efficacy of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, in paying the penalty for our sins —all of our sins are forgiven. The barrier that once existed between us and our God has been removed.

We are to be sanctified. We are to grow in the grace of God.

“And we all with unveiled face beholding the face of the Lord are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

We are to become like our Savior.

“Until we all attain unto the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) “It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16,17)

We are to be prepared for eternal fellowship with God in heaven.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (I Corinthians 2:9) “But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20)

“Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right had are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

We have enjoyed watching a number of the winter Olympic events from Sochi Russia. Is it not the finish line that the competitors have in mind? If we have the final destination in mind—the rest of life should fit well together.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE?

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Lady Reading Crystal Ball

 

As we look forward to the New Year, most of us hope for something better. Many make New Year’s resolutions—hoping that their behavior will be better in some significant way. When we look back a year, we might wonder whether 2013 was better than 2012. If anything, the situation in the Middle East was worse with more conflict and no solution to the continuing slaughter in Syria. Conflicts in many African nations have increased. The federal debt in the United States increased: 2012, 16 trillion; 2013, 17 trillion. Many of the divisions that we have in the United States seem to have sharpened rather than lessened.

However, in our families and homes things may be different. Some may be healthier than they were in the previous year. Perhaps for the majority, things are about the same. In a nation of 317 million, how many lottery winners did we have last year? As we look forward to the future, we know that there are uncertainties. We may be surprised by good news or devastated by bad news. Our health may be very good or we may become seriously ill. Promises made to us may be fulfilled—and some not.

In contrast to the uncertainties in many areas of life, our Savior gives us a positive perspective. We are all created in the image of God. We are all loved by God. If we will allow it, we all have a purpose in life. And if we are trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior we have many wonderful promises. Let us consider some of them as we look forward to the new year:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war nay more.” (Isaiah 2:3,4)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

“And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and rase your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27,28)

The future is in God’s hands: if we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior, we are, for sure, in God’s hands.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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THE POWER OF LOVE

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

fork-in-the-roadWe live in a world that is in turmoil. We see it in the struggles in the streets in Egypt; in the killing that continues in Syria, with little hope of resolve. We see it in the wickedness of the governing regime in North Korea. We see it in the city of Chicago, with a murder rate that is out of control; much of it blacks killing blacks.  We see it in the restlessness of our streets; in the foolish recklessness and vandalism that occurred in Huntington Beach, California last Sunday, 21 July. People rioting, not for any cause or belief—just for the delight of destroying and pillaging property and fighting with one another!
Does God have a solution or does he will to allow us to learn the hard way through the costs of our foolishness? I believe the solution begins with our allegiance to our Lord and his teachings. One of those teachings is found in the letter of the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth: the chapter on love. We tend to use the word love by using it in superficial and misguided ways. Biblical love is a giving love, marvelously illustrated in John 3:16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”

For many, love is sentiment, shallow and not deep.
Biblical love has to do with caring so much that you give something of yourself for the wellbeing of another. Instead of what can I get?, biblical love has to do with what can I give?
Biblical love is expressed clearly and concisely in I Corinthians 13:4-7:

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Perhaps, we say sometimes to ourselves: Why does God not help me? Why does God not help us? Well, he helps us in his teachings recorded in scripture. He helps us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, so that we might be forgiven. He helps us when he calls us to righteousness and justice and truth: words that too easily can be misconstrued and misused. We redefine them to suit our interests..
Consider the words of Jesus: John 10:10:

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

And in John 10:27,28:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

God loves us. He wants us to find life and goodness and wholeness. He says in Ezekiel 18:23:

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”

The world and we have a choice, it is either God’s way, God’s will, God’s purposes or our own way and our own will.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF DECISIONS

By Dr.Foster H. Shannon

TheThinker, by Rodin

Almost all of the decisions that we make affect someone. We live in a sea of decisions that were made before we were born! The decision of Eve to allow herself to be beguiled by the devil and then Adam’s decision to  follow her in disobedience of God has impacted the human race ever since. We are affected in our daily lives by thousands of decisions made before we were alive: where our parents chose to live, what work they engaged in, our ancestors that decided to make North America/the United States their home, perhaps.

The counselors of King George III who urged him to bear down on the Colonies; the decision of King George III to impress his will on the American colonists with armed force. George Washington and the founders of our nation—all impact where we are today. We may ask why are we where we are; why did this happen? The answer, at least in part, is that thousands of decisions made by others over hundreds of years have brought us to this place.

I remember our visit to Lebanon in 1973 and to Israel and to many countries in the eastern Mediterranean. Things were much better at that time than they are now. As we traveled the roads in Lebanon, I observed many good cars severely damaged left by the side of the road (Mercedes seemed to be in abundance). I asked, what was going on to cause so many accidents? I was told that many of these people are Muslims and believe that Allah has determined everything. Why be conscientious about your driving?

“Whatever will be will be.” We call this determinism.

Many believe in a determinism that rules out free will. Indeed, a lot of things have been determined for us, but our choices and decisions are important. The Bible recognizes free will and human responsibility. The Bible speaks of choices:

Joshua 24:11: “And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”<br/ >
John 3:19:” And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” <br/ >
Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”<br/ >

I acknowledge, that when I speak of my salvation in Jesus Christ, I give the credit to God. But there must be some response. We are called upon to believe and obey. We remember that virtually every decision we make will have an impact upon others. If a person never reads the Bible, does not attend church, curses in the name of the Lord and savors bitterness in his life—he has made a series of decisions that will keep him forever alienated from God. And those decisions impact the lives of other people!

Again and again we are called to believe in the word of God, to believe in Jesus Christ, and to honor our Lord by the way that we speak and live—and thereby find life.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!