wickedness

God doesn't make junk.

God doesn't make junk.

2 Kings 17

Evil, evil, and more evil. Where does it all lead? To the ruin of God’s creation! Did you notice this verse? "But [the Israelites] would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless." (vs 14-15)

God shows kindness to evil people.

God shows kindness to evil people.

2 Kings 13

Such a familiar refrain to begin this chapter: "In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son." (vs 1-3)

God's promises stand up to evil.

God's promises stand up to evil.

2 Kings 11

After King Ahaziah of Judah was killed, his mother Athaliah went nuts: "When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family." (vs 1) Can you imagine this? A grandmother setting out to kill all of her grandchildren? The children of Ahaziah were heirs to the throne, but apparently, Athaliah decided that she should sit on the throne. And she did. She became the only queen of Judah.

A Rondel on Boys Who Weren't Necessarily Bad {ex12:13}

exodus-judging-a-rondel-on-boys-poem.png

For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.
Those oldest boys may have been perfectly upright;
no wickedness in them had been diagnosed,

no judgment that they were, to evil, a host,
but doomed even if they were kind and polite.
For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.

Even a Hebrew who thought smeared blood the most
distasteful and gruesome of any known sight,
who neglected to paint the jambs crimson-bright
would suddenly find his own firstborn a ghost,
for where there was no blood on the post…

 

Rondel: a French form consisting of 13 lines—two quatrains and a quintet—with a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA (the capital letters are the refrains, or repeats).

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

2 Kings 6

During all the years of the American-led war on terror, there have often been debates about how best to bring change to the Middle East—particularly about how to change the hearts and minds of those who seem intent on destroying Western culture and peoples. Many think it is wrong for us to use military force to accomplish these goals, and they offer other solutions instead, ranging from outright ignoring the problem to pacifism or targeted kindness.

God knows the future.

God knows the future.

1 Kings 16

Tucked away into this chapter was this curious little detail: "It was during [Ahab's] reign that Hiel, a man from Bethel, rebuilt Jericho. When he laid its foundations, it cost him the life of his oldest son, Abiram. And when he completed it and set up its gates, it cost him the life of his youngest son, Segub." (vs 34) What in the world does this have to do with anything else in the chapter? And why did this man, Hiel, have to pay such a dear price for rebuilding a city?

God is always trying to get through to us.

God is always trying to get through to us.

1 SAMUEL 22

It is really disheartening to see just how sick and twisted Saul became. How irrational. How unreasonable. And since Ahimelek, the high priest, had helped David (even unwittingly), "the king said, 'You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.'" (vs 16) Wow. This is a far cry from the king who refused to hurt those who spoke against him. This a complete 180—the willingness to destroy not only an innocent man, but his entire family as well.

God embodies goodness.

God embodies goodness.

JUDGES 19

I was amused when I heard about a Christmas ad campaign that ran in Washington D.C. a few years ago. It featured signs on buses that said: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake." I thought that was so odd, because what people don’t understand is that without God, there is no goodness. Without Him, we have absolutely no idea what goodness is. And my own personal belief is that people who practice goodness are manifesting the Spirit’s work in their lives—whether they believe in God or not. Outside of Him, there is no concept of goodness. He is the one who brought the idea of goodness to this world.

God does not overpower us.

God does not overpower us.

JUDGES 18

Judges 18 begins with a mantra that will repeat through the last several chapters of the book: "In those days Israel had no king." As you will discover (if you don’t already know what’s ahead in the next few chapters), this isn’t a good declaration. This isn’t a statement of freedom. Rather, it’s a statement of spiritual slavery. Israel had no king, no spiritual leadership, no direction, no moral compass. Everybody just did whatever they saw fit... and that always makes for a very scary scene.

God lets us get burned.

God lets us get burned.

JUDGES 3

What would happen if you went in your kitchen right now, turned on the stovetop, and put your hand on the burner? You’d burn your hand, of course. And how do you know you’d burn your hand if you touched a hot stove? Probably because you or someone you know has had just such an unpleasant experience in the past. And that’s how we learn that touching a hot stove is dangerous and can harm us.

when What If comes too late {gn34}

Photo © Unsplash/Claudia Soraya

Photo © Unsplash/Claudia Soraya

"An eye for an eye" doesn't normally smack of grace,
but it would have been exceedingly merciful
compared to the revenge exacted by Dinah's brothers:
an entire community destroyed
because one person was brutally assaulted.

Some wonder
why they didn't choose
a different response—
something non-violent,
something conciliatory.
I wonder why they had to choose at all.

What was Jacob doing in Shechem?

He promised Esau a rendezvous in Seir;
instead, he traveled in the opposite direction.
He promised God an altar and a tithe at Bethel;
instead, he built that altar in a heathen place.

It's so easy to only ask
What If
when the Big Tragedy hits.

But
What if Jacob had kept his word?
What if he'd taken his family in the opposite direction?
What if he hadn't built his house in a dangerous and foreign land?

What if Genesis 34 tragedies
are always preceded by
Genesis 33 choices?

It's easy to say
Dinah shouldn't have been raped
or
Dinah's brothers shouldn't have retaliated
but I say
Dinah shouldn't have been there in the first place.

 

God loves His rebellious children.

God loves His rebellious children.

DEUTERONOMY 31

I would like to marry two concepts I find in this chapter. First, that God’s love is active. It is a verb, not a noun. And second, that God loves us even while knowing exactly who and what we are. His intimate knowledge of our wickedness does not change His love for us. In fact, if anything, I think it fires Him up to love us (that is, to fiercely act for our best good) even more.

A Sonnet for Sodom {gn19}

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This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn't help the poor and the needy. They became haughty and did detestable things in front of me, and I turned away from them as soon as I saw it. —Ezekiel 16:49-50

Sodom was destined to go up in smoke.
Wickedness was its perpetual clime.
Evil, like tinder, was ripe for a stoke:
It would ignite in a matter of time.

Greed ripened into perversion untold.
Townsfolk adopted the tricks of the shrike,
Burning with passions and lust uncontrolled,
Raping the wallet and person alike.

Lot was not righteous, not even a lick,
But he was willing to run for his life—
Run from the evil that threatened to stick.
Will we be like him, or more like his wife?

Greed dug its claws in and caused her to halt,
Turning her into a pillar of salt.

 

Sonnet: A poem consisting of 14 lines with a particular rhyming scheme.

The Sin of Sodom {gn14:20}

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Hershey

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Hershey

I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition... when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys.

Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources.

But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys... And that is why tribulations will not cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is hopeless.  —C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p106


In a culture where
being gay
is a big deal,
Sodom has become a familiar word.

Even if you don't know anything else about the Bible
you've probably heard
the story of Sodom.

Some folks say
Sodom's sin was homosexuality.
Other folks say
it wasn't.

I say
the real shame is
nobody knows the other story of Sodom:

the one where they were
sodomized by a gang of neighboring kings
attacked and invaded and clobbered
overpowered and crushed and defiled—

the one where they were left
naked and helpless and defenseless
victimized and paralyzed and weak—

until God
rescued them
recovered their possessions
rebuilt their cities
and restored their fortunes.

Sodom's first encounter with God
did not end in
smoking ruin
but
stunning rescue.

In their calamity
(when all their broken toys were
momentarily swept aside
to reveal the One
on whom they unconsciously depended)
they met
a God who delivers, not destroys,
a God who heals, not hates.

Nice to meet you, they said
then quickly leapt back to the toys,
stubbornly clinging
till even their hearts were bound.

 

Eight {gn6:5-6}

Photo © Unsplash/Tim Marshall

Photo © Unsplash/Tim Marshall

There was no ark
to save God's heart
when grief crashed in like a flood.

            when
regret raindrops
            became
pain puddles
            that joined up into
remorse rivers
            that pooled into
lament lakes
            that merged into
sorrow seas
            and eventually yielded a
deep blue deluge
            over our terminal condition

No—
there was no ark
to save God's heart
when grief crashed in like a flood:

the grief of knowing
the ark he would send us
required room
for no more than
eight.

 

God doesn't "stack" the family deck.

God doesn't "stack" the family deck.

GENESIS 38

When you do genealogy, sometimes you uncover family "secrets" you wish you had left buried.  Without the benefit of being able to ask questions, sometimes we’re left to our own speculation. For instance, I have my own genealogy "mystery" waiting to be revealed some hundreds of years down the line. I recently had my most special Bible rebound in leather (because it was starting to fall apart), and when I did, I had my name engraved on the front. Of course, it’s my married name, yet the handwritten inscription from my father in the front of the Bible is dated 2002. Anybody who has access to my marriage license will know that I wasn’t a Lorencin in 2002. Let the speculation begin. 

God saves the willing.

God saves the willing.

GENESIS 19

Ah, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah... the wicked cities Abraham lobbied for. We don’t know how many people were living in the cities, but we do know that—at the very least—not even ten of them were "righteous." In the end, only three were found to be "righteous." Almost four, but Lot’s wife didn’t quite make it. Her obsession for everything she was leaving behind cost her her life.