Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sovereignty: The Ultimate Superpower

What’s a good word to describe God?  Omniscient?  Omnipotent?  I like the word sovereign when describing how God works in my life.  Omniscient makes me think of some giant pulsating brain that controls the thoughts of the masses, much like the evil force on the planet Camazotz called IT in Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and the word omnipotent conjures images of Zeus hurling lightning bolts down on whomever displeases him.  When I think about the word sovereign I see a kindhearted, benevolent King Who is omniscient and omnipotent and at the same time lovingly orchestrates and oversees the events of my life to ensure that all things lead to my benefit, people’s good, and ultimately God’s glory.

It is a simplistic and childlike viewpoint, to be sure, because there are things that happen in life that are horrifically painful and terrifying.  In the past few weeks we’ve seen videos of innocent men brutally beheaded by those acting under the forces of evil (convinced they are doing good), we’ve read accounts of children being mutilated and decapitated and sliced in two, and we are always reminded of those who are languishing in prison for no other crime than being a Christian.  There are many, many– too many–other people groups who are suffering dreadfully.  Much closer to home, there was a 20-year old man killed in a car accident just yesterday, and also yesterday, a dear friend of mine who was nearly full-term with her second child discovered that he died in her womb, and she will now have to give birth to a stillborn baby boy either tonight or tomorrow morning through induction.  In my personal life, my husband and I are navigating the unfamiliar territory of supporting our son who was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  How do any of these things benefit me, bring goodness to people, or give God glory?

If God is omniscient, does He know that all these terrible things are happening?  If He is omnipotent, is He powerless to stop it?  Why doesn’t He just stop it?  How can He allow it?  Many others have written much more eloquent answers to these questions than I can write.  I am not a theologian nor a Biblical scholar.  I’m a middle-aged working mom who trusts in God’s sovereignty no matter what, because I know that He knows, I know that He can, and I know that He will bring all things to right in the end, and it is this faith that enables me to endure.

Miriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who faced the death penalty testified,

“I had my trust in God,” she said. “My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with imams and Muslim scholars, because that’s what I believe.”

While God is sovereign, there is still the reality that we live in a fallen world, and that through the Fall control of the earth came into Satan’s hands.  During Jesus’ temptation, Satan told Him he would give Him all the kingdom’s of the world, and Jesus didn’t dispute the claim that these kingdoms were Satan’s to give.  As Christians we believe that Jesus is coming again in power and glory and will exercise His sovereignty to hurl Satan into the Lake of Fire and set up His rule and reign in a Millennial Kingdom.

Even as we wait for His glorious return, and as we still suffer challenging situations and hear of atrocities around the world, we have hope that He is not powerless to move and work on our behalf now.  I trust in my simplistic, childlike way that God is the Ultimate Superhero, endowed with Sovereignty, and that He works all things for my benefit, for the good of all who have faith in Him, and that His Name will be glorified.


Love and Respect for God

One thing I have learned over the years is that God is complex and multifaceted.  People try to simplify Who He is so that our finite minds can grasp His infinite wisdom.  If asked to describe God, most people would say, “Well, God is love,” and they would be correct.  However, that is only a part of the overall tapestry of God’s intricate nature and character.  In these days, many teach that God is a Papa who loves His children, and we can run to Him, jump on His lap, and even tug on His beard.  Others like to portray Him as a good friend you can laugh with and have a good time together.  I’m not saying that God isn’t a loving Papa nor that He is unapproachable, because He is both loving and welcomes us with open arms; however, He is also holy and worthy of respect and awe.  Years ago, I heard John Bevere speak about entering into God’s presence, and I believe this point is contained in his message Drawing Near.  He points out that the scene in Heaven (and this is New Testament!!) of worship before God’s throne is not of the elders casting their crowns at His feet shouting “Love! Love! Love!”  No.  They are declaring He is “Holy! Holy! Holy!”  God is completely loving and at the same time He is completely holy, and our response to Him should be loving and respectful.  If we don’t have both, we’re missing out on knowing God for Who He truly is.

This is something I’ve pondered over the years, and I’m thinking about it again as I’m involved in a Bible study on the Book of Jonah.  Jonah is a little book in the Old Testament.  Only four short chapters telling a story of a prophet sent by God to the city of Nineveh (in modern-day Syria) to proclaim God’s wrath and judgment because of their wickedness and violence.  Jonah’s immediate reaction was to hop aboard a ship heading in the opposite direction.  God sends a raging storm, Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale.  For three days Jonah was crushed inside the belly of the whale.  He cried out to God and the whale spit him out on land.  Jonah went to Nineveh.  The people listened to him and repented of their wickedness, and God, in His great love and mercy (this is the Old Testament), relented and spared them.  The story basically ends with Jonah getting mad at God for not destroying the city and making him look like a fool.  It’s kind of a weird story and leaves me scratching my head wondering what this is all about.

The story of Jonah has captured the imaginations of many.  You can see the story enacted on stage in Branson, Missouri, and it is the subject of a major motion picture, okay, a VeggieTales movie.  The final song says it all, “Jonah was a prophet…but he really never got it.”


My take on Jonah is that what he never really got is an understanding of Who God is.  Everything Jonah did was based on fear, and everything God did was His sovereign way of orchestrating events to reveal Himself to Jonah.  Even after being expelled from the whale, he went to Nineveh, not out of love for God or compassion for the people, but fear of what just happened to him.  His reaction to God’s mercy reveals his lack of love and respect for God.  This reminds me of Lester Sumrall.  As a young man he was stricken with tuberculosis and was about to die.  On one side of his bed he saw a coffin.  On the other side was a giant Bible.  God told him he must choose.  Well, he didn’t want the coffin, so he chose the Bible, and was miraculously healed.  He began to preach the Gospel all around the countryside; however, he really didn’t care if the people accepted his message or not.  All he cared about was not dying.  He told of one time when he asked a lady if she wanted to accept Jesus, she said no, and he yelled, “Then go to hell!”  One day he had a vision of people from all the nations of the world walking off a cliff into the fires of hell, and in the vision he tried to stop them, but they wouldn’t listen to him.  He heard the LORD say, “Their blood is on your hands.”  The result of this vision was that compassion for the people rose up within him.  To hear more of this man’s amazing life, I highly recommend the book The Life Story of Lester Sumrall.

I have difficulty with the idea of the “God of the Old Testament is mean” and the “God of the New Testament is loving.”  God is God of both the Old and the New Testament, and there are many occurrences of grace and mercy in the Old Testament, and occurrences of judgment and wrath in the New Testament (anyone want to talk about Ananais and Sapphira?).

All this to say that it is important that we know God for Who He is.  Understand His heart for the people He puts in our lives.  Understand that He is worthy of all of our love and all of our respect.  One of the best examples of this concept is a married couple.  Love isn’t enough to keep a marriage together.  In fact, it is important to understand that women speak the language of love and men speak the language of respect.  For a man and woman to truly walk together in unity is to understand how to speak and understand the other’s language.

Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved.

My greatest desire is to know God…all of Him.