Have you ever felt that God has gone AWOL on you? I have, many times, and invariably it has been during the darker times of life.

I had always felt very blessed by God’s presence. From the moment I surrendered to Jesus at the age of 21, I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. But there have been significant occasions when God seemed absent to me. I’ll tell you about one of these.

Personal Experience

It was the early 2000s, and Bayside Church was growing very fast. We’d conducted a successful building campaign and purchased the warehouse we still meet in. The congregation had doubled in size in 18 months. At the same time, Christie and I welcomed our second daughter. We were a young family with a baby, a toddler, and a teenage church. All of that would have been enough, but I was unaware (at that time) of a blind spot ~ I was a classic under-estimator.

There’s no doubt that God has used the gung-ho, ‘she’ll be right’ part of my nature in establishing Bayside Church and pioneering many other things, but it hasn’t been without cost to myself and others. Through the Enneagram and loving feedback from my ministry team, I’m aware of this blind spot and can recognise it when tempted to over-commit. But in the early 2000s, that was not the case.

You Did What?

Two decades ago, in addition to the things mentioned before, I (we):

  • Started a Sunday evening service and then a Saturday evening service.
  • Planted a campus followed by another one a few years later.
  • Developed a media ministry and a TV Program, Bayside TV.
  • Commenced with Melbourne’s new Christian radio station as an announcer and Music Director.
  • Changed denominations.

Add to that the responsibility of increasing staff members and all that organising and managing a team entails.

I realise now that I had overloaded myself and no doubt experienced burnout. God’s seemed absent. I was in a church gathering one day and could see the Spirit of God at work all around me, but I could feel nothing. It lasted for about six months. It was awful.

My theology informs me that God wasn’t absent and is never absent. It is impossible for an omnipresent being to be missing from anywhere. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” The apostle Paul asked, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?” He answered with a resounding “NO.”

Jesus’ Experience

Towards the end of his suffering, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was likely comforting himself with words from a familiar Psalm, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” It’s a gut-wrenching prayer about abandonment. I’m suffering, and God seems absent. He left me just when I needed him most. That’s how I felt two decades ago.

And here’s the good news. Jesus knew exactly how I felt because he had suffered the same thing. He felt abandoned by God. So did I. The fact is, God had not forsaken Jesus any more than he had deserted me or you.

Misquoting Scripture

Some preachers have said that the Father turned away from Jesus because he is too pure to look at sin. Habakkuk 1:13 is quoted (out of context) to prove the point. The argument goes like this:

The Son had the sin of the human race laid upon him. God is holy and can’t look upon sin. And so, the Father abandoned his Son. Really? What kind of Father would desert his child in their hour of need? This interpretation of the Bible makes God out to be pretentious, fussy, and, well, very ungodlike. God is not scared of sin. Jesus proved this by hanging out with “tax collectors and sinners” during his life on earth.

The Father didn’t abandon the Son, but the Son felt abandoned. God didn’t forsake me, but my experience for several months was that God seemed absent. I hasten to add that this time was one of the most productive and fruitful periods in our church’s history. It became evident that we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

The absence Jesus experienced on the cross is the same as we may feel when we’re suffering. Where is God? Jesus knows what that’s like. God did not abandon Jesus. It wasn’t that God couldn’t look at sin. Jesus doesn’t reveal a God who is scared of sin; he displays a God who is comfortable in our skin and relaxed around imperfect people. If only more Christians were like that!

The Perfect Saviour

Dr Bradley Jersak says, “In the crucifixion, Jesus shared fully in our experience of absence, assuming it and thereby utterly redeeming it.”

God became a human being and resided amongst us. He experienced everything we do, tempted in every way. We have a high priest who can empathise with our weaknesses. He knows what it’s like to feel abandoned by God, to go through times when God seems absent. I hope you find that as encouraging as I do.


One of the first Bible verses I read this year was Isaiah 43:18-20,

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

God was about to lead his people back to their homeland after being captive in Babylon. In the preceding verses, God reminds them of the power he used to set them free from earlier captivity when they were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. With Mighty strength, God brought his people out of Egypt, through the desert and into the Promised Land. But in Isaiah 43, God says, “forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new.”

There is a potent life principle here: sometimes, we must forget the greatness of past successes or the shame of past failures to embrace God’s new things in the present and future.

Anything from the past holding you back needs to be forgotten;

otherwise, it becomes a hindrance.

But this doesn’t mean we are to forget everything that’s happened in our lives. There are lots of things that we should remember.

Recollect Fond Memories

Recall family celebrations and great friendships, the good things in life, and the cherished memories that still stir emotions and gratitude. Things like running through the sprinklers on a hot summer’s day, climbing trees, pillow fights, and laughing so hard that your stomach hurt.

A few years ago, Christie and I took the kids to Malaysia for a holiday. One day the heavens opened for a tremendous tropical storm that left large pools of water everywhere. The kids and I spent ages jumping in the puddles. It was so much fun. Scuffing your feet through piles of autumn leaves is equally satisfying—fond memories.

Remember Things to Rectify

The Bible has lots to say about restitution & forgiveness (see Proverbs 14:9; Matthew 5:23-24). I love the story of Zacchaeus, the chief Tax Collector of Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). Here’s one of the most despised individuals in his town, who made millions by ripping off the poor (sound familiar?). Amid the grumblings of the battlers, Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house. We’re not told what they chatted about, but whatever Jesus said hugely impacted this rich, crooked, lonely little man.

Listen to Zacchaeus’ words, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” If I have cheated anybody! Of course he had, and paying back four times the amount would have been equivalent to pumping millions of dollars into Jericho’s economy, making a massive difference to the needy.

Imagine the impact – I bet the complainers stopped whining when the money arrived! And all because a man remembered and decided to do something to correct the wrongs of the past.

A Personal Story

My first job after high school was working in a record store in Perth. At night, I studied radio announcing at a Technical college. By day, I managed the cassette department, and so I primarily worked alone. During this time, I helped myself to money from the till and stole some records and cassettes. Eventually, I was found out and sacked. I denied any wrongdoing, but I knew I was guilty.

Fast-forward to the next few years. I became a Christian and went to Bible College to train for pastoral ministry. I studied Christian Ethics in my second year, and the lecturer taught about restitution. I felt strongly convicted of my stealing but reminded myself that all my sins were forgiven when I became a Christian. But the guilt wouldn’t budge, so I went to my lecturer to explain my dilemma.

He encouraged me to phone my ex-boss, admit guilt, apologise, and seek to repay what I had stolen. I did so with fear and trembling. She answered the phone, and I got a frosty response when I told her who was calling. I did as my lecturer had suggested and offered to repay the money. All I had was the semester’s fees (about $1,000), and I asked if that would be sufficient. She said it was, so I sent that to her as a money order, along with a tract on becoming a Christian. I know…but I was young and zealous!

I didn’t hear from her again, but it didn’t matter. I had made amends like Zacchaeus. I had remembered a past wrong that I had the power to rectify. The sense of God’s presence was overwhelming.

Do you have unresolved issues from the past? Do you need to make restitution?

Recall the Great Things God has Done

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds” ~ Psalm 77:11-12.

In Scripture, God instituted a feast or an altar whenever he did something incredible. Consider the Passover Feast that reminded people of their mighty deliverance from slavery. Jesus instigated communion to remind us of his death and resurrection (Luke 22:19).

In the Tanakh (Old Testament), there are several altars of remembrance so that the recollection would anchor people in truth.

Consider the story of Joshua leading the people across the Jordan and into the promised land (Joshua 4). “They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.” The altar was a reminder of God’s power, presence, and redemption. Whatever challenges they faced in the future, the altar was a constant memorial of who God was and what God could do.

I encourage you to think of the times God has been particularly present for you. Consider those memories as altars to anchor and inspire you in the present, especially when you encounter difficulties.

A Final Story

Before he became the apostle Paul, Saul was one of the most distinguished religious leaders in Israel, “advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age” (Gal. 1:14). In his letter to the Philippians, Paul outlines his Jewish credentials (3:3-6), which were extremely impressive. But he writes, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” And he had lost much ~ prestige, reputation, finance, property, and family. His wife and children likely abandoned him when he converted from Judaism.

But, Jesus had found him and called him, and he wouldn’t look back. In fact, “one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” God was doing something new, and Paul wouldn’t miss out because of regrets, mistakes, or successes.

Imagine the grace the church needed to exert towards Paul, the guy that had imprisoned and killed some of their relatives. This same man was now preaching in their churches.

Forget what is behind, strain toward what is ahead, and press on toward the goal. God is making pathways through the wilderness and creating rivers in the dry wasteland to refresh you. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

Last week, I posted a blog discussing three things Christians repeatedly say as if they’re scripture, except they’re not:

  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • We are sinners saved by grace.
  • Love the sinner and hate the sin.

I welcomed feedback, as usual, and suggestions of other things we Christians say that are not found in the Bible. And so, here are three more to ponder:

Everything Happens for a Reason

I imagine you’ve heard this statement many times. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. I hear people say this, especially in times of distress or grief. And it’s okay if you want to tell yourself this as a way to self-soothe, but don’t say it to another person to move them on from grief and loss.

Everything happens for a reason was first said by the philosopher Aristotle in the context of everything having a cause. And that’s true. Everything happens for a reason because something caused it to happen. But that is not how this statement is intended. It is a cliché designed to dismiss someone’s feelings. It is ultimately unkind and untrue.

Everything happens for a reason. Tell that to a parent who has lost a child or a man whose wife was seriously injured in a car crash.

Everything happens for a reason. Say it to a mother in Somalia whose children are dying from malnutrition or a woman in Afghanistan (or Iran) who has lost or limited rights because of choices made by male superiority.

In God’s world, a whole lot of things happen for absolutely no reason whatsoever. For no good reason, at least. Most suffering people endure is because of the poor choices of others or sometimes their own.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God. Our God takes all the awful and weaves it into a tapestry of goodness. But that may not happen in this life. It may be one of those dreams that is only realised in eternity.

For more on this topic, listen to or watch my teaching on the good God and suffering.

God is in Control

Have you ever said, “Well, at least God is in control?” I have. And I’ve heard many people use this and other clichés in an attempt to find meaning in something awful. It’s an encouragement to ourselves that things will work out. But, sometimes, they don’t. Occasionally, our world remains out of control. What should we say about God, then? If God is in control, he isn’t doing a terrific job!

The fact is God doesn’t DO control. God created the heavens and the earth with the laws of nature and human free will. God does not usually control the laws of nature. When he does, we call it a miracle because it’s rare. God certainly does not influence human freedom. That’s why beautiful things happen in the world. That’s why awful things happen in the world.

While God doesn’t cause evil, neither does he use control to prevent us, or others, from doing wrong. God doesn’t control, but he does care. He loves and cares and wants to nurture those who’ve been wronged.

If God doesn’t DO control, how does he work? God works by consent, not control. Have you noticed that God will never force himself on you or manipulate you? God is loving and gracious, not violent and angry. As revealed in Jesus, God is neither coercive nor controlling but infinitely close and caring. Jesus will not force himself into your life or make you receive his love. But he does invite you to willingly consent to the offer of a relationship with God. He initiates, and we consent.

God surrendered control to natural law and human freedom when he created the universe. But God did not abandon his creation. He entered it by being born mortal. The man Jesus experienced all of life’s highs and lows. The Word became flesh to endure the depth and breadth of the entire human condition. In Jesus, God experienced our humanity, all of it.

Jesus completely identifies with your pain. He is present and co-suffers with you. He wraps your suffering with his divine love and brings healing to your soul.

God is not in control, but he is in charge. History is heading somewhere, and God is at the steering wheel!

God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

Another platitude uttered by an uncaring soul who is uncomfortable with human suffering. Well, at least God will never give you more than you can handle. And the suffering one is left to ponder exactly how much more they can bear until God realises they can’t take anymore.

An appeal is made to 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” But this verse is about temptation, not problems, sickness, pain, or suffering.

“God will never give you more than you can handle,” is wrong for two reasons. Firstly, it infers that God is the author of pain and suffering: “God will never give you more…” But we must not be deceived into thinking that God is anything but good. He is NOT the author of tests and trials (Cf. James 1:13-17).

Secondly, people frequently experience more than they can handle; that’s why we need counsellors, psychologists, pastoral care, prayer, treatment for mental health and other caring professionals. Thank God for loving people who can step in and lift some of the load when we encounter something we cannot cope with on our own.

I love the honesty of the Bible writers. Consider these words penned by Paul to the Corinthian Christians, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (emphasis added).

The Bible is replete with examples of people of faith who suffered more than they could endure on their own. Some of them died because of it (Cf. Hebrews 11:35-40). I believe one of the fundamental reasons Jesus formed the church is so that Christian people can support one another when life gets unbearable. I am very grateful for my Christian community, which is the source of strength and encouragement for people when life is intolerable.


In psychology, it’s known as the illusory truth effect: If you repeat a statement often enough, it will seem more likely to be true.

There are statements we Christians make that are not in the Bible, but because they’ve been repeated so often, they are believed to be accurate. So, I thought it would be interesting to explore some statements we regularly hear from Christians that have become believed to be true, although they’re not.

“God helps those who help themselves.”

The origins of this phrase go back to ancient Greece. The English version was first penned by Algernon Sydney, an English politician, in the 1600s. The idea in this statement is that if you want God’s help, you first have to show initiative. But the assertion falls over at the first hurdle.

Consider the very essence of the Christian gospel, which emphasises people’s inadequacy to “save” themselves by human effort. The law was powerless to save anyone because no one could obey the law all the time. And so, God took the initiative by working in Christ to reconcile the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:19).

People can do nothing to help themselves out of sin and its consequences. It took a divine act of unconditional love to achieve salvation, restoration, and forgiveness for all humanity. God didn’t help those who helped themselves because no one could. God helps those who realise they can’t help themselves.

The church has not done a great job of conveying this wonderful truth. Instead, the communication that rings out loud and clear is invariably a moralising message. We’ve told others what’s wrong with them and what they should not do. So much so that many people reason they’ll have to get themselves right first before they come to God (or church). This is the very antithesis of the Christian message.

The statement, God helps those who help themselves, makes us the source of help and strength. God is secondary and will surely appreciate our efforts, and then he will help us. But the Christian is to live a life of reliance on the grace of God and the Holy Spirit as our advocate.

The flip side is that God’s help doesn’t remove our responsibility. Praying and asking for God’s support doesn’t mean you sit on your blessed assurance staring into the heavens. Relying on grace and being empowered by the Holy Spirit, we use our initiative and God-given wisdom. For example, if you need employment, pray about it BUT THEN go out and look for work, knock on doors. God’s help does not remove our responsibility.

“We are sinners saved by grace.”

I heard this statement again today on a new worship album from a megachurch. “Lord, we’re just sinners saved by grace.” Nowhere in the Bible are Christians referred to as sinners, let alone as sinners saved by grace.

Someone may say, “well, the apostle Paul viewed himself as a sinner…” and they’ll quote 1 Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” But if you read on, you’ll discover that Paul was referring to his life before he became a Christian.

Paul wrote something similar to the Corinthian church: “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” In the next verse, the apostle proclaims, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” That is, by God’s grace Paul was no longer a sinner; he was now a saint. He did not deny that he was a sinner (past tense), but he lived in the reality of what Christ had made him (a saint). And this is what we’re called to do.

We could rewrite this phrase more accurately: “We were sinners, but we were saved by grace, and so are sinners no longer.” That doesn’t mean we’re perfect; far from it. But the New Testament Scriptures declare followers of Jesus to be saints and not sinners. A saint is a person who has been born into God’s family and is “set apart” as belonging to God. They then live a life befitting a person who belongs to God.

Christ-followers are to see themselves in the light of this truth because how we live our lives is determined by how we see ourselves. As Neil Anderson rightly asserts, “No one can consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how he perceives himself.” If I view myself as having the righteousness of God in Christ, I am more likely to behave righteously.

Jesus came to change sinners into saints.

“Love the sinner and hate the sin.”

Christians quote this as if it were a Bible verse right next to “cleanliness is next to godliness,” a well-known saying by John Wesley. But neither statements are in the Bible.

Each part of “love the sinner and hate the sin” is valid – God loves sinners and hates sin. But as a collective statement, it’s not correct.

The problem with “love the sinner and hate the sin” is that it is rarely meant. It is just a Christian-sounding platitude aimed at people whose behaviour we struggle with, whose sin we hate, and people we don’t love if we are brutally honest. This statement salves our conscience and makes us feel like we’re being Christian when we display unchristian attitudes towards others.

Of course, we can only know if we love the sinner by spending time with them and helping them when they’re in need. How do we feel about the drug addict with needle scars and missing teeth? What is our attitude towards homeless people who haven’t bathed or changed their clothes for weeks? Do we love the gay man or woman at work (or in our family), or do we merely tolerate them? Do we pretend to love people but then say derogatory things about them behind their backs? We only know the true nature of our hearts when confronted by someone with whom we struggle. And let’s be honest about our struggles rather than hide behind clichés like “love the sinner and hate the sin.”

Another reason this saying is so wrong is that the sinner and the sin are often inseparable. In other words, someone’s behaviour often defines them as a person, so when we say we “hate the sin”, the person hears “I hate you.” The Bible talks about loving people, period.

The statement “Love your neighbour as yourself” is found nine times in the Scripture – divine emphasis for a purpose. In Galatians 5:14, the apostle Paul says that this truth sums up the entire law. In James 2:8, this command is called “The Royal Law,” the preeminent truth that reigns over all truth.

Jesus illustrated how we are to love our neighbour as ourselves by telling the story of The Good Samaritan. Samaritans were hated and despised by Jews in Jesus’ day. The Samaritans were mixed-race Jews because they had intermarried with Gentiles and were considered worse than gentiles – the lowest of the low, the greatest of sinners. Jesus could not have found a more powerful illustration to prove His point. He didn’t teach “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” He taught, “Love the person like they were you.” May this challenge us to the core of our faith!

Maybe you can think of other statements quoted regularly by Christians but not found in the Bible. Feel free to add those in the comments section.





Someone asked me recently about an apparent contradiction in the Bible. They observed that the Bible instructs us to fear God. And yet later in the New Testament, it states that the one who fears is not made perfect in love. They told me the contradiction had been bothering them for a while. And so, they reached out to me for some answers. Here’s what I told them.

Two verses

The two verses referred to are Proverbs 9:10 and 1 John 4:18:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Original Languages

The Hebrew word for “fear” is used 18 times in the Bible. Seventeen of those refer to the fear of the Lord or fear of God. In each case, it is something good to be desired and pursued.

The only place this word is used in a negative sense is Isaiah 7:25, “As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.” The context is God’s judgement of Israel because of their disobedience.

The Hebrew word yir-aw means “a fear.” The context of its use will determine what kind of fear that is. In Isaiah 7:25, the type of fear is an object of terror. In Proverbs 9:10, fear means reverence, respect, worship, and devotion.

Most Bible translations translate this Hebrew word as “fear.” Although this is a correct understanding, it doesn’t do justice to the word in the context in which it is used.

The Best Bible Translation

Bible translations tend to be either word-for-word or thought-for-thought. Word-for-word Bibles (like the NASB and ESV) attempt to find an equivalent English word for each Hebrew or Greek word. They pride themselves on being the most accurate translations, but that is not necessarily the case. The reason is that many times there is no English counterpart.

Thought-for-thought translations (like the Message Bible) seek to express the meaning of each sentence or paragraph from the original language in simple up-to-date English without being tied to translating every word. These versions view conveying sense as more critical than getting each word right. Bibles like the NIV and NLT combine word-for-word and thought-for-thought.

A Great Example

Consider Jeremiah 1:11-12, The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” These verses appear illogical as they don’t convey the author’s original intent.

The Hebrew word for almond tree is shaqed, whereas the word translated as “I am ready” is shaqad. The author uses a play on words that get lost in translation in word-for-word Bibles.

The Message Bible (MSG) that word-for-word proponents invariably criticize conveys the original intention:

God’s Message came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I said, “A walking stick—that’s all.”

And God said, “Good eyes! I’m sticking with you.

I’ll make every word I give you come true.”

Back to Fear

Bearing this in mind, let’s apply these thoughts to the fear of the Lord.

The Amplified Bible translates Proverbs 9:10 as follows, “The [reverent] fear of the LORD [that is, worshipping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom.”

The Arabic Bible says, “The beginning of wisdom is the awe of LORD.”

Contemporary English Version, “Respect and obey the LORD! This is the beginning of wisdom.”

The Good News, “To be wise you must first have reverence for the LORD.”

These Bibles translate Hebrew with much more appropriate words than fear.

1 John 4

Fear is mentioned four times in 1 John 4:18; There is no fear [phobos] in love. But perfect love drives out fear, [phobos] because fear [phobos] has to do with punishment. The one who fears [phobeó] is not made perfect in love.

The Greek word Phobos (noun) gives us our English word phobia. It means terror or alarm. Phobeó (Verb) means to be terrified or frightened. Something our loving father never wants us to be of him.

In summary, When the Bible mentions the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom, it means to respect and reverence God and not to be in cringing fear of him. Later on, the New Testament states that the one who fears is not made perfect in love. That kind of fear means to be terrified. God does not want his children to be afraid of him. He loves us, and perfect love casts out all fear.


I recently had a fascinating theological conversation, and the topic of Hell arose. The person I was chatting with suggested that Hell is a place that is absent of the presence of God. In other words, Hell is a place where God is not.

I asked, how can an omnipresent being not be everywhere? How can an all-pervading, ever-present God be removed from any location?

I won’t go into detail here about the nature of Hell, whether it is eternal or temporal or whether the fires are punishing or restorative. I have written about these things here. And discussed them here and here.

What About This Verse?

In his second letter to the Thessalonian church, Paul wrote, “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” (emphasis added). Notice that? Hell is a place that is shut out of God’s presence, a place where God is not.

But Revelation 14:10 appears to contradict Paul, “They will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.” The Lamb is a metaphor for Jesus.

Which one is it? Is there a place where God is not, and if so, how? How does an omnipresent being not be, well, everywhere?

“Presence” in 2 Thessalonians refers to a person’s face. The inference is the face is not smiling. Imagine the times you’ve been with someone who was unhappy with you. How did you feel? That’s what Paul is communicating here. He is not suggesting there’s a place where God is not. The picture is of a place that is absent of joy.

But what if the expression on God’s face is like the look of displeasure a parent gives to their disobedient child? The glare lacks joy, but it never lacks love. 

God is Everywhere

In Acts 17, Paul quotes a sixth-century BC philosopher named Epimenides, who wrote, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Paul then quotes Aratus, a Greek poet from the third century BC. Aratus wrote in his tribute to the god Zeus, ‘We are his offspring.’ Paul applies both of these statements to the people he spoke to in Athens. His message? God is everywhere. All people are his children. There is not one place where God is not.

David the songwriter penned some stunning words about God’s omnipresence:

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

The depths (Hebrew: Sheol) refer to where people descend at death. It was later named Hades after the Greek god of the underworld. David states that God is there even if he made his bed in Sheol.

Personal Experience

I am so grateful for the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God that has relentlessly chased me down over the years. I am thankful for my first encounter with God’s love when I was a 19-year-old atheist. Even then, I looked back and could see the work of an omnipresent deity in my life. For the next two years, I did everything possible to escape God. But that’s easier said than done. Where can I go from your Spirit?

And so, at 21, I relented and came home to the Father. Since then, I have seen his persistent presence reaching out to people in all sorts of places. A friend of mine, David, came to faith in Jesus when he chatted with a Christian girl in a gay bar. Gede and Phoebe both had encounters with Jesus in a Hindu Temple. Jesus came to Arif in a dream while he was in prison.

Big God

I hope you embrace my intended message of this blog: God is bigger than you ever imagined. You cannot limit, exclude, or restrict an almighty, all-wise, and omnipresent spiritual being. I’ve heard this preached negatively. Maybe you have too. You know, “God is watching so you’d better be extra careful how you behave.” Instead, let’s turn this into a positive. The God who “is love” is with us wherever we are. There is no escaping his grace. Like Paul said, “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Be encouraged!

In my younger years as a Christian, I thought that it would be sinful to be angry with God. I viewed it as a sign of disrespect, and God would probably be mad with me for being mad at him, which could lead to all sorts of things because he is, well, bigger!

I don’t know where I got this idea. Maybe it was the teaching I received in my Pentecostal formation. Perhaps my own Bible reading and study sometimes focused on the angry God verses. It appeared it was okay for God to be angry but not us.

Fortunately, I have matured in my faith. These days I read more widely and understand the Arc of Scripture, that the Bible develops and grows as well. The ultimate Bible we should read is the life of Jesus because he was the Word made flesh.

Angry Jesus

I’ve come to understand that anger is not bad in and of itself. That it is possible to “Be angry, and sin not.” Jesus expressed anger on a few occasions. One day he was in the synagogue, and some people were looking for a reason to accuse him of breaking the law. They watched him closely to see if he would heal someone on the Sabbath. Mark tells us that Jesus looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.” He then proceeded to heal a man with a shrivelled hand. The “Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” And they probably couldn’t spot the hypocrisy in their hearts. No wonder Jesus was angry.

I believe Jesus was angry when he made the whip and drove the salespeople and money changers out of the temple. I can’t imagine Jesus doing this with a smile on his face and asking nicely! He said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father’s house into a marketplace!” He was angry that these people were taking up space in the Temple court, excluding the poor and marginalised that should have been welcomed in God’s house. I believe Jesus is still angry today with churches and ministers who banish certain people.

Southern Baptist Report

Consider the report released yesterday revealing the systemic abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination. The damning report shows decades of abuse and coverups of child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. Of senior leaders who refused to act against abusers. Of victims who were disparaged and “turned against.” Of people paid off or bullied to keep silent.

“Page after grim page reveals crushing scandal after crushing scandal.”

All this is from the same denomination that has restricted women in ministry because “the Bible is clear.” It’s the same group that has vilified the LGBTQIA Community. They are pro-life but also pro-gun and pro-death penalty. No hypocrisy to see here. Move on, please!

Sadly, conservative fundamentalists have systematically and deliberately taken over the Southern Baptist Convention. And while they were dictating what women should wear, where they could or could not minister, and who people could marry, they were covering up the worst of abuse. Jesus is angry.

Righteous Anger

I get angry, too, and now I know it’s alright to feel this way. It’s okay to be incensed at injustice and insincerity. It’s acceptable to be angry when people abuse their power to abuse others. Anger is a righteous response, and it’s okay to be angry with God. God has broad shoulders, and my anger does not intimidate him.

My Rabbi friend said this to me recently: “it is important to note that it is not only okay to respond negatively to G-d’s answer to our questions/prayers in the Hebraic tradition. It is indeed encouraged when appropriate. We are taught that we should have a full range of a relationship with G-d, which would include anger and disappointment alongside love and acceptance. All Avraham, Sarah, Moshe have very vocal and public arguments with G-d.” I’d add Job to his list (Job 7:20; 10:1-2).

Author Philip Kosloski put it this way, “So the next time you feel anger towards God because of an unfortunate situation, don’t bottle it up; cry out like Job and question God. Wrestle with God as Jacob did in the desert (see Genesis 32:23-31). After that episode, Jacob was given a new name, Israel, which means, “He who strives with God.” Only after we have wrestled with God can our relationship be repaired and begin the long path of healing.”

Out of Control

Anger is a natural and normal emotion experienced by God and people alike. But like any emotion, it can get out of control. And it is that kind of anger the Bible condemns. In our anger, we must be careful not to sin. Remember, “a hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but someone slow to anger calms strife.” (Proverbs 15:18).

Coincidence – a situation in which things happen simultaneously without planning.

For example, in 2011 Time Magazine reported the coincidental story of a meteor crashing through the roof of a house owned by the Commette family. No one was hurt and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate the humour in this strange coincidence.

Have you ever had a coincidence happen to you? Some people put them down to random chance or luck, and indeed, some of them fit those categories. But with other coincidences, I believe something more significant is taking place.

My father-in-law says that a coincidence is when God performs a miracle but desires to remain anonymous! I think he has great wisdom and insight.

One of the most amazing “coincidences” happened to me almost 14 years ago.

In preparation for bringing our beautiful new baby, Trinity, home from the hospital, I had booked my car into a baby car seat fitting service. I drove to the site at the specified time and had our two trusty old car seats with me. While the seat was being fitted, I went into the store to pick up a few things we needed for the baby. A few minutes later, the fitter came up to me and told me that one car seat was too old and that the other one was okay, but the stabiliser bar was missing, so he couldn’t fit it. My heart sank as I was now in a position of having to buy two new car seats – and they weren’t cheap!

I began looking at new seats with a heavy heart and had just about decided which one I would buy first when the fitter returned. He was amazed that when he had gone back to his van and moved something there, lying in his van, was the same stabiliser bar that fit my car seat! He couldn’t believe it – what luck he said! I was so blessed as that “coincidence” had just saved me several hundred dollars.

Was it luck? Was it a coincidence? I think not. I believe it was a God-incidence where he performed a miracle of provision for Christie and me just because he loves us! And remember, God doesn’t have favourites (Acts 10:34).

Like any caring parent, God loves to surprise his kids in many ways. Sometimes it’s by anonymous miracles that we quickly dismiss as coincidences.

As we enter a new year, I encourage you to look out for God’s surprises in your life. Open the eyes of your heart (Eph. 1:18) and see the divine hand lovingly and anonymously at work behind the scenes.







Have you ever felt like a second-class Christian because you hear people talk about how God speaks to them, but don’t hear God speak to you? Well, read on dear first-class Christian because God is speaking to you; you might not recognise it as God.

Not recognising the voice of God is nothing new. Consider the crowd who were with Jesus one day when the Father spoke to him, “I have glorified [my name] and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him (John 12:28-29).

God Speaks Through Jesus

God speaks in many and varied ways, but the primary way he communicates is through Jesus. Jesus is God’s final word to humanity, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2). Studying the life of Jesus, how he interacted with people, how he conducted himself, what he did, and said, is God speaking to you. In Jesus, we see what God is like: “The Son is…the exact expression of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is God’s Word (John 1:1). Jesus is the Father speaking to you and saying, “Be like my Son.” Bayside’s vision, “to courageously love and empower people to become like Jesus,” embraces this truth.

Jesus is the living word, and the Bible is the written word. God will never speak to you something that goes against or contradicts His Word! God’s Word is “a lamp to my feet [Immediate direction] and a light for my path [Future direction] (Ps 119:105). So, I encourage you to be consistent & organised with your Bible reading & study. Be open to the Holy Spirit, guiding you to a book, chapter, or verse that speaks to you.

Dreams & Visions

God also speaks through dreams & Visions. The Bible is full of accounts of God speaking to people this way. Visions are pictures you see when you’re awake, while dreams are images you see while you’re asleep. Apparently, “young men will see visions and old men dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). I’m happily still seeing visions.

In the first year of Bayside Church, I had a vision of a map of Bayside Melbourne. While I looked, spot fires sprang up all around the Bay. God spoke to me about Bayside Church springing up all around Bayside Melbourne. Over the past 28 years, we’ve seen that happening with connect groups multiplying. Today this is still the case, and, in the current crisis, this is happening even more as we reach into people’s homes online.

A vision or dream from God will have a profound effect on you and you will remember the details of it for years to come. It is so much more than a natural dream, during which your mind is merely processing recent events.

Knowing the Voice of Whom Speaks

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” There is something very distinct about a voice. When you hear the sound of a friend or loved one, you know immediately who it is. I’ve heard the audible voice of Jesus twice in my 40 years of following him. One time was in the early 90s when I was praying for a wife. The words, “it won’t be long” were audible to me. I’ll never forget the kindness, encouragement, and understanding in his voice. It wasn’t long after this that a certain Christine McClay came into my life, and the rest is history. The other time was when God spoke to me about getting Bayside Church into its own building.

The voice of God isn’t always loud. It’s invariably a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12) into your mind or spirit. Amid our fast-paced, noisy world we must find times to be calm to hear the still, small voice of God (Ps 37:7, 46:10).

How Events Speak

God also speaks through events and opportunities (Rev. 3:8). It was many years ago when I was driving to church on New Year’s Eve. On the way, every traffic light turned green as I approached it. It had never happened like that before, and I heard the gentle whisper of God in my heart: “this is a new season Bayside Church is entering where all the lights will be green.” It was an incredible time in our church as opportunities came, and we embraced them.

God Even Speaks Through People

God will also speak to you through his appointed leaders that he has placed over you in the church you’re part of. There are two aspects of Australian culture that we must be careful not to emulate. It inhibits our ability to hear God speak through his appointed leaders ~ Individualism and Egalitarianism.

Individualism is all about “me and Jesus,” and it’s sad when God’s people acquire this attitude. The New Testament never entertains the concept of a Christian who doesn’t connect with other Christians. Over the years, I’ve heard people say, “God told me,” way too many times. This language sounds so spiritual but is, in fact, quite the opposite. It is also impossible to argue with. Who am I to disagree with God? I believe it’s better to say, “I think God may be saying such and such to me. What do you think?” “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

Egalitarianism is all about equality. It’s one of our greatest strengths in Australia but also one of our most significant weaknesses. Now, everyone is equal, but there needs to be a functional authority for the orderly operation of any society, community, business, or church. Repeatedly, the Bible teaches us to have respect and regard for those who are in authority. Peter is very blunt about this (no surprises), “This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority (2 Peter 2:10). The opposite of despise is appreciate (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Be open to God speaking to you through His appointed leaders.

But That’s Not All

There are many other ways God speaks to us:

  • The gifts of the spirit (2 Timothy 1:1-7)
  • Repetition – i.e., when you keep getting the same message over and over from different sources (Phil 3:1)
  • Angels (Hebrews 1:14, 13:2)
  • Nature (Romans 1:19-20)
  • Circumstances ~ What is it God that you want to teach me in this situation? (Numbers 22-24)
  • Conscience – the moral monitor, inner voice of the human spirit (Romans 2:15)
  • Other People – have you ever had the experience of someone talking to you, and you become aware that God is speaking?
  • Songs, music, poetry, stories

Many years ago, when I was working at Light FM as Music Director, one of the songs I programmed was “Can we still be friends” by Todd Rundgren. It was a hit in 1978 and speaks about the end of a relationship. One day, after the song was played, we received an email from a woman who wanted to let us know how God had spoken to her through this song. She and her husband were going through an acrimonious divorce, but after listening to this song, they decided to take the bitterness out of their communication with each other. The relationship was beyond repair, but God used a secular song to speak kindness and grace into two people’s hearts and change things for the better.

I encourage you to listen to how God is speaking to you.

What’s in a Name? A couple of things. A person’s name reveals their character, whether they have a good name (reputation) or not. A name is also the primary point of communication. For us to fully communicate with others and develop a relationship, we must know their name. Remembering people’s names has been one of my lifelong goals and is one way I show that I care for and value others.

“I am who I am”

When he was standing at the burning bush, one of the first things Moses wanted to know was God’s name. “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:13-14).

What sort of name is “I am who I am?” What if I introduced myself to you like that? You’d think my driveway didn’t go all the way to the road. God then went on to tell Moses that this was a new name. God “appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty [El Shaddai], but by my name the Lord [Yahweh], I did not make myself fully known to them.”

In other words, God communicated in a whole new way to Moses than he had for the past 500 years since he introduced himself to Abram. El-Shaddai (Lit. God of the breast) is a feminine name that implies provision. El-Shaddai denotes the past and the present.


In contrast, Yahweh is a prophetic name that announces who God will be in the future. This was great news for people who were in slavery. What do you need if you’re a slave? God says, “I am He who will be” your deliverer.

“I am who I am” comprises four Hebrew consonants (YHWH) called the Tetragrammaton. YHWH is an unpronounceable name. A Rabbi friend of mine won’t write the name God. He always types G-D as a sign of respect. In Biblical Hebrew, vowels are rarely written. We English speakers have no such rule and happily insert two vowels into YHWH to develop Yahweh.

Yahweh was then Latinised in the 13th century when Christian scholars took the consonants of “Yahweh” and pronounced it with the vowels of “Adonai.” This resulted in the sound “Yahowah” (Latin “Jehovah”). The Spanish Dominican monk, Raymundus Martini, made the first recorded use of this spelling in 1270.

The Names of God

After the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God progressively revealed himself to people according to what they needed him to be. In the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) we discover seven Yahweh (I AM) names of God – what God will be for his people:

Yahweh-Rapha (Ex. 15:22-26) = I AM the One who will heal you.

Yahweh-Nissi (knee-see; Ex. 17:15) = I AM the One who will give you victory.

Yahweh-M’kaddesh (Lev. 20:1-8) = I AM the One who will sanctify you.

Yahweh-shalom (Judges 6:24) = I AM the One will give peace.

Yahweh-rohi (Psalm 23:1) = I AM the One who will be your shepherd.

Yahweh-tsidkenu (Jer. 33:16) = I AM the One who will be your righteousness.

Yahweh-Shamma (Ezekiel 48:35) = I AM the One who will be there for you.

In the New Testament, we discover a corresponding seven “I AM’s” of Jesus:

  1. I AM the bread of life (John 6:35)
  2. I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)
  3. I AM the door of the sheep (John 10:7)
  4. I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
  6. I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
  7. I AM the true vine (John 15:1)

In the New Testament, JESUS reveals a new name for God as the ultimate revelation of who God is (John 17:6). The new name for God is “Father.”

Revealed Throughout Scripture

And so, God was a provider (Jehovah Jireh) to Abraham, deliverer (Yahweh/Jehovah) to Moses and the people of Israel, and Father to those who follow Jesus the Saviour. This new name was revealed by Jesus to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount, a summary of Jesus’ principal teachings. Jesus taught his people to pray, “Our Father in heaven.” In other words, we have the same relationship with God as Jesus.

In this way, we see an incredible progressive revelation of God to humanity. How people viewed and experienced God thousands of years ago is very different from how we see and encounter God today. God is no longer the one who comes down to rescue his people (Ex. 3:8); God is now within us, closer to us than the air we breathe. He no longer identifies with us as El Shaddai, Yahweh, or Jehovah. God is our Father, and we can communicate with our Father because we know his name, and, like a good Father, he will be to us all that we need.

Forgiveness. We know we should do it. Christians (and many others) believe God has given it. But what is it? What does it mean to forgive?

Shedding Light on Translations

The Bible uses four Greek words that have various connotations of forgiveness. The one Jesus uses in the Lord’s Prayer (aphesis) is translated in a variety of ways in the New Testament. In the Lord’s Prayer, aphesis is rendered “forgive” and “forgiven,” but almost everywhere else, it is translated, “to leave; to have left.”

Delving into Biblical Words

This Greek word (aphesis) is used to translate its Hebrew equivalent (Yo’bel) that is usually rendered as “Jubilee” in English. It alludes to the Biblical Law that required periodic forgiveness of debt. The Hebrews were commanded to “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan” (Leviticus 25:10). The Year of Jubilee restored personal liberty to those who had become slaves, and full restitution of all property also took place.

Consider this in the light of forgiveness. It’s an action that leads to release, liberty, restitution, and Jubilee. It’s about leaving something behind. We’ll explore this in greater detail later in this blog.

Another picture of “aphesis” in the Hebrew Scriptures is the scapegoat as part of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). By sending away the scapegoat, the Israelites were symbolising the leaving behind of their sins.

What Forgiveness Isn’t

Before we start looking at what forgiveness is, let’s find out what it isn’t. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you will put yourself back into a hurtful situation. Jesus’ teaching on turning the right cheek isn’t about letting someone slap you on the left cheek repeatedly. You’re not called to be a doormat for Jesus.

Over the years, I’ve heard some second-rate teaching on forgiveness. Pastors have told women in an abusive marriage to submit to their husbands, “as the Bible teaches.” It should be remembered that submission in marriage is mutual and conditional. Husbands and wives are to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21). Submission is always based on love: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” and “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” No man ever beats himself up, and he shouldn’t abuse his wife either. A woman in an abusive relationship needs to get out as quickly as possible and seek safety. This is not a matter of forgiveness but of self-preservation.

Also, forgiveness isn’t forgetting – only God can do that (Isaiah 43:25). I’ve heard people say, “well, just forgive and forget,” but people don’t have that ability. It’s a Divine prerogative to choose to forget, not a human one.

What Constitutes Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process rather than an event. Each of us has the choice of when and how we forgive. Don’t be guilty of communicating clichés to others like, “just forgive them,” “move on,” “it’ll be okay.” Real-life cannot be lived by platitudes or formulae.

Forgiveness has to do with release, liberty, restitution and jubilee. In its purest form, forgiveness is about releasing another from your right to get even. It means “to leave, or to have left, your desire to punish someone for their offense against you.” Unforgiveness says, “You hurt me, and I’m going to hurt you back.” Forgiveness says, “You hurt me, but I’m going to release you from vengeance.”

Forgiveness is a choice rather than a feeling. You may still feel hurt, angry, wronged, offended, and wounded. You may feel that way for a long time during which God and time can gradually bring healing and restoration. But these feelings don’t mean you have unforgiveness. If you have relinquished the temptation to get your own back, you have forgiven. When you forgive, you will begin to experience liberty and jubilee.

If you are the one who has hurt or offended someone, then forgiveness for you will be seeking restitution.

Zacchaeus, the crooked chief tax collector, is a beautiful example of this. When he encountered the grace of God through Jesus, Zacchaeus was so impacted that he made restitution with everyone he had offended, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Can you imagine how the forgiveness flowed towards Zacchaeus from people he had ripped off? If he hadn’t responded in this way, he would never have had this experience. People would have known that he was now a follower of Jesus, but they would forever have felt angry with him for the way he stole money from them.

Restitution caused release, liberty and jubilee. True forgiveness will always have that effect.



In last week’s blog, I attempted to refute Stephen Hawking’s claim that God didn’t exist because there was no time in which God could have lived.

There was a time when I would have agreed with Stephen Hawking. I was an atheist in my younger years, but after several rather dramatic incidents, I became a believer in God and a follower of Jesus.  You can watch my story.

I now believe that God created the Universe, and all it contains – time, space and matter. While God is eternal, and as such lives outside of time, God had a particular purpose in creating a finite world, but I’ll get to that a bit later.

A Finite World

“We don’t have the whole Universe to supply our needs. We live on this little round ball called the Earth, and it is finite,” writes Craig A. Severance at resilience.com. He goes on to say, “This little globe has been a really great kitchen cupboard to explore, but it seems we’ve just about opened all the drawers to all the pantries. Yet, more company keeps arriving and sitting down at the dinner table.” There will come a time when limited resources will run out in God’s finite world.

Stephen Hawking wrote, “But the present rate of growth cannot continue for the next millennium. By the year 2600 the world’s population would be standing shoulder to shoulder and the electricity consumption would make the Earth glow red hot. If you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at ninety miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line.”

And beyond Earth, the Sun only has about 5 billion years of fuel left. While that might be comforting for us, it’ll be cold comfort (pun intended) to anyone still alive on planet Earth at that time. “When the sun expands into a red giant during the throes of death, it will vaporize the Earth.” (Ref: Livescience).

Finite Humans

God also made human beings finite. When the first humans disobeyed God, they were barred from the tree of life so they would not live forever (Genesis 3:22). From that time, people have died and been “gathered to their ancestors,” a Hebrew way of saying, “gone to the grave.” People are not eternal because God is “the only One who has immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). That’s why eternal life is a gift that God offers people through Jesus.

Lincoln Steffens once said, ‘I have seen the future and it works.’ He was actually talking about the Soviet Union, which we now know didn’t work very well. It’s the same with God’s creation. It was never intended to last forever. But why?

Purpose of it All

While God is eternal, and as such lives outside of time, God had a particular purpose in creating a finite world. The Bible teaches that God is a community, one God comprised of three distinct persons. Christians call this the Trinity. God is a community and made people in that same likeness to live and work together. God’s plan from the beginning was to create free will persons who would, out of their free will, love and adore him and whom he would love and adore forever. In other words, once time, space, and matter come to an end, eternity will begin again just as it was before God created this present order of things. God’s creation then is simply a divine interruption to eternity.

The apostle Paul stated it this way, “in order that in the coming ages [God] might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). How wonderful to be the object of God’s attention and kindness in a world without end. Who can be the beneficiaries of this kindness? You, when you come and surrender your finite life to Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.