R.C. Sproul: What Is Evil & Where Did It Come From?

Many skeptics have challenged the consistency of the Christian worldview, arguing that evil could not have originated in a universe created by a wholly good God. Therefore, since evil exists, the universe could not have been created by a wholly good God. The challenge is not new, and in this lecture, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains the Christian response to this age-old challenge.

VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries by John Piper

Open theism may help conceal deep idolatry in the soul. One of the great needs of our souls is to know if we treasure anything on earth more than we treasure Christ. Treasuring anyone or anything more than Christ is idolatry. Paul said in Colossians 3:5, „Put to death therefore what is earthly in you . . . covetousness, which is idolatry.” If covetousness is idolatry, then desiring earthly things more than we desire God is idolatry. That means we must be more satisfied in Christ and his wisdom than we are in all our relationships and accomplishments and possessions on earth.Now how does Open Theism help us conceal from ourselves the idolatries in our souls. It ascribes ultimate causality for many calamities and evils to Satan or the autonomous will of man, not finally to the all-disposing counsel and wisdom of God above and behind Satan. For example, Greg Boyd says:

When an individual inflicts pain on another individual, I do not think we can go looking for „the purpose of God” in the event. . . . I know Christians frequently speak about ‘the purpose of God’ in the midst of a tragedy caused by someone else. . . . But this I regard to simply be a piously confused way of thinking (Letters from a Skeptic [Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994], p. 47).

Similarly, John Sanders writes:

God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and every occurrence of evil. . . . When a two-month-old child contracts a painful, incurable bone cancer that means suffering and death, it is pointless evil. The Holocaust is pointless evil. The rape and dismemberment of a young girl is pointless evil. The accident that caused the death of my brother was a tragedy. God does not have a specific purpose in mind for these occurrences (The God Who Risks [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998], p. 262).

If not „the purpose of God,” what then is ultimate? Either man’s will which is ultimately „self-determining” and can even surprise God (as Open Theists believe), or the will of an evil spirit which is also ultimately „self-determining.” For example, after admitting that „God can sometimes use the evil wills of personal beings, human or divine, to his own ends,” Boyd then says, „This by no means entails that there is a divine will behind every activity of an evil spirit” (God at War [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997], p. 154, cf. 57, 141). „A self-determining, supremely evil being rules the world” (p. 54). „The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan, not God” (p. 54, my italics).

How does this worldview help us conceal the idolatry of our soul? It works like this. Open Theism denies that God is the final, purposive disposer of all things (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). Therefore it asserts that God’s wisdom does not hold final sway (Rom. 11:33-36), and thus God is not fulfilling a plan for our good in all our miseries (Jeremiah 29:11; 32:40). Open Theism implies, therefore, that we should not think about the wisdom of God’s purpose in causing or permitting our calamities. In other words, Open Theism discourages us from asking what sanctifying purpose God may have in ordaining that our misery come about.

But in reality our pain and losses are always a test of how much we treasure the all-wise, all-governing God in comparison to what we have lost. We see this merciful testing of God throughout the Scriptures. For example, in Deuteronomy 8:3 Moses said, „And [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” In other words, God ordains the hard times („he . . . let you hunger”) to see if good times are our god. Do we love bread, or do we love God? Do we treasure God and trust his good purposes in pain, or do we love his gifts more, and get angry when he takes them away?

We see this testing in Psalm 66:10-12, „For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water.” And we see it in the life of Paul. When he prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be taken away Christ told him what the purpose of the pain was. „Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). The test for Paul was: Will you value the magnifying of Christ’s power more than a pain-free life?

We see this testing in 1 Peter 1:6-7, „In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” God ordains trials to refine our faith and prove that we really trust his wisdom and grace and power, when hard times come. Similarly in James 1:2-3, „Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. . . . Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Do we love God? That is the point of the test. Do we cherish him and the merciful wisdom of his painful purposes, more than we cherish pain-free lives? That is the point of God’s testing.

Our trials reveal the measure of our affection for this earth – both its good things and bad things. Our troubles expose our latent idolatry.

For those who believe that God rules purposefully and wisely over all things, our response to loss is a signal of how much idolatry is in our souls. Do we really treasure what we have lost more than God and his wisdom? If we find ourselves excessively angry or resentful or bitter, it may well show that we love God less that what we lost. This is a very precious discovery, because it enables us to repent and seek to cherish Christ as we ought, rather than being deceived into thinking all is well.

But Open Theism denies that God always has a wise purpose in our calamities („God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and every occurrence of evil”), and so it obscures the test of our idolatrous hearts. Open Theism does not encourage us to see or savor the merciful designs of God in our pain. It teaches that there is either no design or that the design of the evil done against us is ultimately owing to Satan or evil men („The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan, not God”).

Therefore, we may be so angry with Satan and with evil people (which is legitimate up to a point), that we fail to ask whether our anger reflects an excessive attachment to what we just lost. But if, contrary to Open Theism, we must reckon with the fact that God’s wisdom is the ultimate reason we lost our treasure, then we will be forced to do the very valuable act of testing our hearts to see if we loved something on earth more than the wisdom of God.

All of life is meant to be lived to reflect the infinite value of Christ (Philippians 1:20). We show his infinite worth by treasuring him above all things and all persons. Believing in his all-ruling, all-wise sovereignty helps reveal our idolatries in times of pain and loss. Not believing that God has a wise purpose for every event helps conceal our idolatries. Thus Open Theism, against all its conscious designs, tends to undermine a means of grace that our deceptive hearts need.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

God is the sovereign ruler over everything that happens both good and bad – Bruce Ware

Photo credit sweetepistles.hubpages.com

It is so clear, God has control over what happens, over these nations of the world and the choices that people make, so that His will is accomplished. This is one of the areas that Christian people struggle with most deeply, when they come to these difficult teachings of Scripture. And I understand that because I struggled with them for many, many years and I understand your struggle as well. What ultimately brought me to accept this is  simply the conviction: This is the teaching of the Bible. And if I think I know better, good grief, what does that say about me? So, are you willing to accept God on the basis of what God says about Himself?

Isaiah 45:6b-7
I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

So, indeed, God has complete control over everything good. Oh my, we love that teaching. It is true and it is glorious. James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Indeed, God does control every good thing that happens.

But, this text and many other texts in the Bible also indicate He has equal control over everything bad that takes place. Indeed, He is the one ultimately who has the say so, as it were, of whether these bad things happen, and to whom, and in what manner, and the like. God is the one who ordains not only the good, but the bad as well.

There are a couple of things we have to bear in mind here. Even though God exercises complete control over both good and evil, God is good, and in no respect is He evil. My goodness, how important it is for us to affirm that. God is not yin-yang, as the god of Shintuism is. God is not light and darkness. God is good and not evil. 1 John 1:5 –  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. God is light, not darkness, God is good, not evil. Which brings me to my second point: Because God is good, He is light, then His control of evil would be for what purpose? For good purposes, that He will bring about only through the evil things that take place.

The supreme example of this in the Bible is the cross of Christ. It is so clear. Think for example to a statement by Peter in Acts 2:23 – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Question: How would you answer the question- How did Jesus get put on that cross? How did this happen? What’s the biblical answer to that question. Well, it’s complex, isn’t it? Don’t you have to say two things, not just one. You have to say, „God put Him there.” Delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Right? Was Jesus there on the cross because God put Him there? Absolutely. This was the Father’s design, to send His Son, by whom we would be redeemed of our sin. This was the design of the Father, that His Son would be crucified for our sin.

But, is that the only answer you give? How did Christ get there on that cross? You also have to say, „Wicked men put Him there.” Delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to the cross by the hands of Godless men and put Him to death. So you realize that the answer to that question involves two answers: God did it, men did it, wicked men did it. Now, get this further. God, in doing that is praiseworthy, men who did this are blameworthy, are Godless men, wicked men and they are culpable for what they did.

One more thing I’d like you to see. You’ve got this dual agency here: God did it, men did it. The next question is this: Is one of those 2 agencies ultimate? Does one have priority over the other? Yes, indeed.  delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Clearly, God’s agency is ultimate, so that they carried out what He designed they do, and yet, they bear full responsibility for the evil that they committed. That’s one example of many examples in the Bible, where you realize God exerts control over evil that takes place, but our confidence is this. Because God is the one who controls it… Let me stop there. What if He weren’t the one who controlled it? What are the other options that we have? Satan, demons, evil people, forces of nature that are outside the control of God? Honestly, if that’s the case, stay home, stay in your bed and hope for the best, because, wow, what a scary world this would be if God is not the one in control of the evil that takes place. But, because He is in control and He is good, His ways are right, He is just in all that He does, we can have strength of confidence and hope that God’s purposes will not fail. Even though we read the paper, even though we see horrible things happening, we know God is in control and His purposes will be fulfilled in the end.

VIDEO byMars Hill Church  Watch the full sermon here: http://jesus.to/1cTmYRw Check out the full Best Sermon Ever series here:http://marshill.com/bestsermonever

God is exclusively God, incomparably God, and through that deserves ultimate glory because he is the sovereign ruler over everything that happens in heaven and earth, including sovereign ruler over good and evil. Because God is good, he is light, then his control of evil would be for what purpose? For good purposes, that he will bring about only through the evil things that take place. The supreme example of this in the Bible is the cross of Christ.

This clip is excerpted from the sermon „The Incomparable Glory of God,” the second part of our sermon series Best Sermon Ever. It was preached by Dr. Bruce Ware out of Isaiah 40–45 at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and released on August 18.

Kirk Cameron – I’m a recovering atheist. (video) Plus trailer for the movie ‘Unstoppable’

Facebook and Youtube both blocked Kirk Cameron’s posts promoting his new movie coming out in September in theaters. This led to a campaign by many to share this picture below. Well, lo and behold, both Facebook and Youtube unblocked Kirk’s posts and called it a technical glitch.

Here’s Kirk’s plea to his Facebook followers after Facebook blocked his posts:

Calling all friends of Faith, Family, and Freedom! Facebook has officially „blocked” me and you (and everyone else) from posting any link to my new movie at UnstoppableTheMovieDOTcom, labeling the content as „abusive”, „unsafe”, and „spammy”! I can’t even write the real link here, or Facebook would block this post too!! Try to post it yourself and see! We have been officially shut down by Facebook and unable to get any response from them. This is my most personal film about faith, hope, and love, and about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. What is „abusive” or „unsafe” about that?! Please help us encourage Facebook to unblock our website soon by sharing this post with your friends so more people can see this transparent, faith-building project.

Also, in response, Kirk made this  new short & very powerful video making a very astute argument.

People have been asking me to respond to the atheist and activist groups that demand that my videos be removed from Facebook and YouTube. Major media outlets have also been asking me to give my side of the story about why there has been so much hate toward my new project, Unstoppable. I wanted all my Facebook friends and family to hear my response first. Enjoy this video, and please share.

FROM VIDEO:

Not many people know this, but I am a recovering atheist. I wanna share a secret with you. There are two things that you must cling to by faith, to be a good atheist: (1) There is no god and (2) I hate him!

Have you ever noticed how many people are so angry  at someone they say is not even there?

I mean, why do people hate God anyway? Why do they wanna shut you up from talking about God and your faith in public? Why do they wanna take down your videos from Facebook and Youtube?

Well, I’d like to suggest 2 reasons: (1) They hate His moral standard and (2) They hate the way He is transforming the world, even in the midst of tragedy and suffering.

Unstoppable : The Movie Trailer

Why does God let bad things happen to people? If God is good and He’s the God of love, and He is powerful enough to stop evil, and pain and suffering, why doesn’t He? That is the question that wrecks people’s faith. What do you do when the unexpected tragedy hits and your whole world comes crashing down?

I went on a journey to examine my faith, to be honest and face my questions, my doubts. This is the most personal project I have ever made…

Kirk Cameron returns to movie theaters September 24 with the follow-up to his record-breaking, one-night theatrical event, Monumental. Get tickets NOW!http://www.fathomevents.com/#!unstopp…

In UNSTOPPABLE, a brand-new documentary, Kirk takes you on a personal and inspiring journey to better understand the biggest doubt-raiser in faith: Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?

For more information visit:
http://unstoppablethemovie.com

 

Ravi Zacharias – Good and evil from back in the garden of Eden

RaviI’m a Christian apologist. Apologetics is a discipline that does two things:

  1. It clarifies truth claims
  2. It gives answers to the hard and the soft questions that people ask

So, we are surrounded, all around us in our ministry with questions. A few weeks ago I was doing an open forum at Princeton University, a gentleman stood up and he asked a very interesting question. And he said this, „What is the difference in the milieu, in the idea, in the original creation in the garden, over and against now?” I said, „Oh boy, that’s a long question, let me keep the answer brief.” I said 2 things:

  1. The presence of God
  2. If you remember, in the legal framework there was just one prohibition, and one temptation. Think about that. „You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Just one caution, one warning, one law to bear in mind. What happens? The enemy of our souls comes and what does he say? „Did God really say that?” Is this a propositional statement from God? And then the seduction, „In the day that you eat from it you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”

I take that to mean: In the day that you define the one mandate of God- not to defy good and evil- everything wrong will ensue. So, all that happened in that garden was simply  the denial of God’s prerogative to be the definer of good and evil.  And when you look at the world now, I said to the student, you tell me, „What does the world look like now, with thousands of laws, thousands of footnotes, and even when you get on to the plane, they don’t just tell you ‘don’t mess with the smoke detector’, they have to tell you not to tamper, touch, disable or destroy.” Because you can have each word dying the death of a thousand qualifications. What’s really happened, ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a time in cultural history where our definitions have gone.

Malcolm Muckridge talked about this years ago, in the seventies. He said, „It is difficult to resist the conclusion that 20th century man has decided to abolish himself. Tired of the struggle to be himself, he has created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own erotomania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet, that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.

You know, the truth of the matter is, that when our definitions are gone, the minefield and the quicksand through which we walk is horrendous. Now you may say that Muckridge was on the verge of his own spiritual journey beginning. He was a humanist like Aldous Huxley: We are living today, not in the delicious intoxication  of the early successes of science, rather in the grizzly morning after, where it has become quite apparent that what science may have actually done is to introduce us to improved means, in order to obtain hither to unimproved, or rather, deteriorated ends.

In Moscow, last week, I told them the story of Natan Sharansky , who was a political prisoner there for many years, and went on to his homeland in Israel and became the Justice Minister. When he returned to Rusisia for the first time, he asked if he could go back to the prison where they kept him for so long. As he was about to enter that little cell, he asked his wife if she would please allow him the privilege  of being there alone for a few minutes. He went back alone and he came back with tears running down his face. He said, „It was here that I really found myself.” And he asked for the privilege to go and lay a wreath at the tomb, at the grave of Andrei Sakharov, the great Russian physicist, who gave to the Soviet Union the atomic bomb. And he quoted Sakharov, and he said this, „Sakharov told me before he died, ‘I always thought the most powerful weapon in the world is the bomb.’ He said, „It is not. The most powerful weapon in the world is the truth.'” Winston Churchill said the truth is the most valuable thing in the world. So valuable, that it is often protected by a bodyguard of lies.

Where do we go from here? What do we do, when those in their punditry have told us years ago where we were headed? Where is America now? Listen to Chesterton: Under the smooth, legal surface of our time, there are already moving very lawless things. We are always near the breaking point when we care only for what is legal, and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions, with no rules, and there will be so many hard cases, that everything will go soft, unless we know the difference between what is lawful and what is legal. Where do we go?

I close with this thought: It was about 3 years ago, the first time I was given the awesome privilege of speaking at the opening day  of the United Nations, on the day of prayer. They asked me to speak on a very difficult subject: The finding of absolutes in a relativistic world. That’s tough on any given day. Even tougher for about 20 minutes at 7 o clock in the morning. What could you do when there is a plurality of worldviews sitting in front of you? So, I did this.I said, „We’re looking for absolutes in four areas.

  1. Evil, how to define evil.
  2. Justice, how do you define what is just.
  3. Love, how do you find the source of love and the absoluteness of love.
  4. and when we blow it, we look for the grounds of forgiveness.

These are the areas that govern our lives, for which we want definitions: evil, justice, love, and forgiveness. I said, „Ladies and Gentlemen, can I ask you this: Do you know of the one place in history where these 4 converge? The one place in history, where evil, justice, love and forgiveness come down to the end of that funnel – there is in the Christian worldview, it happened on a hill called Calvary. The evil that is in the heart of man, the justice that God has,  the love that He portrayed to the very end- ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing’, the forgiveness that we found.” At the age of 17, I was on a bed of suicide in New Delhi, India, having lost all hope. Total failure. When a man brought me a Bible in my hospital room, something I had never opened in my own life, and he opened it to John chapter 14, I won’t go into details. He gave it to my mother, whose English was not that good, reading from the King James version cause he had to leave. Jesus said to Thomas, „Because  I live, you also shall live.I committed my life to Jesus Christ, and the Grand Weaver has drawn a great pattern in the life of somebody who had lost all hope, lost meaning, lost purpose.

You see, when you find your definitions in God, you find the very purpose for which you were created. „You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in Him.” Can I close with this quote? In 1939, the world was on the brink of a lot of darkness. King George VI went to speak to the world, and he said, „I said to the man at the gate of the year”Give me a light, that I may walk into the unknown.” He said to me, „Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you better than the light, and safer than the known.” Graduates, you’re going out into a pretty dark world. Put your hand into God’s hand. Know His absolutes, demonstrate His love, present His truth and the message of redemption, and transformation will take hold. The story is to be told to many. And the experience and joy of transformation is unique. The Gospel alone has that story.

Trust God or trust in man? The Cross, Evil, and Faith

photo via http://christianitymatters.files.wordpress.com/

In her book ‘Evil in Modern Thought’, Susan Neiman, a modern philosopher uses 2 events to kind of put place marks around the modern era. „The modern era began,” she said, „in 1755, in Lisbon, Portugal. On All Saints Day of that year, there was an earthquake. Some have put the estimate that it was about 9.0 on the Richter scale and it lasted for a full 10 minutes. It was followed by an enormous tsunami that essentially wiped out almost 80% of the buildings were destroyed, and it was followed by fire. The estimates put the death toll as high as 60,000. One of the reasons that the death toll was so high was because it was All Saints Day. And the Cathedrals that collapsed, collapsed on so many people who had gone to worship that day. And for so many intellectuals in Europe, who were already kind of grumpy against the idea of God, that was it. This was a time when God could either no longer be believed as either all powerful, or all good, and therefore He could not be trusted.

In fact, one of the great intellectuals of the day was Voltaire. And Voltaire actually wrote a poem on the Lisbon earthquake, and he talks about his concern. He writes,

” Are you then sure, the power which would create
The universe and fix the laws of fate,
Could not have found for man a proper place,
But earthquakes must destroy the human race?

Wherever you put the start of the modern era, we can say that it was a huge shift in human history, particularly the history of western civilization. Whereas, prior to modernism, most institutions, most cities, most countries’ laws understanding of the world were centered around a belief in God, quickly, the trust in God was replaced with a trust in man. And, of course, at this point, science and technology were booming, medicine  was booming, human understanding was booming, and the arrogance that came with the scientific knowledge was quite hard to resist.

But, there was another event, according to Susan Nieman, that puts the end of the modern era, an end to the trust in man, and that was Auschwitz. You see, the Lisbon event was an event of what we call natural evil. Who do you blame for natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis? You put that at the feet of God, and that’s what shifted the trust to man. But, Auschwitz is what we call moral evil. That’s the evil that people do to each other, against each other. See, there is this belief in modernism that the most scientifically enlightened we would become, the less evil we would become to each other. But, of course, the 20th century destroyed any notions of that sort of optimism.

So what are we left with? We gave up belief in God and trust in God. We gave up belief in man and trust in man. We’ve got two options.

  1. We can just give up hope altogether. And many in the post modern camp kind of live in this state of perpetual despair that the universe is so broken, that the best we can do is try to overcome structures of power, but realize that we’ll never be able to fix it. 
  2. The other option, of course, is to go back and reconsider God. But, let me make a suggestion: The God of christianity isn’t just a god who stands up in heaven, aloof from His creation, sending natural disasters and allowing people to commit acts of moral evil without caring. The God of christianity is a God on a cross. As Dorothy Sayers said once: The God who chose to get His hands dirty, and the despair of the human condition, and the depths of the depravity in this world and our own hearts.

And I think it’s precisely at that place that christianity leads those of us who suffer. Where do we turn when we’re deeply suffering, under the human condition? How about – the God who suffers? In fact, if you look through the trajectory of the Scriptures, we have a God who continues to come down and be with His people. Whether we’re talking about God coming to Adam and Eve, God coming and dealing with Cain, God coming and choosing Abraham, God coming in a body in the Temple, and of course,most of all- Emanuel, God coming to be with us. And not just be with us, but, to swap His nature for ours. To allow us to share in His perfection, taking on our sin, taking on our suffering and our grief. There’s a very powerful poem written about this, by a brit who saw the destruction of World War I. His name was Edward Shaleido. And he penned a poem called ‘Jesus of the Scars’.  A poem by Edward Shillito (1872-1948), a Free Church minister in England during World War I:

Jesus of the Scars

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Published on Mar 25, 2013 ColsonCenter When confronted with natural and moral evil, people lost hope in God and Man. John Stonestreet explains why people should reconsider hope in God.

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (4) Job and God

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) –

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. READ Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu
  4. READ Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God (article below)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 4th section:

Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God

Finally God himself speaks, answering Job out of the storm (chaps. 38-41). “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace your- self like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (38:2-3). There fol- lows question after question, each designed to remind Job of the kinds of thing he cannot do, and that only God can. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (38:4). “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place … ?” (38:12). “Have you entered the store- houses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?” (38:22-23). “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (38:31-32). “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?” (38:39-41). God then goes on to describe some of the more spectacular features of the mountain goat, the wild donkey, the ox, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the eagle. “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (40:2).

photo genesistomalachi.weebly.com

Job had wanted an interview with the Almighty. He had, as it were, sworn an affidavit demanding that the Almighty appear and put his indictment in writing (31:35). But God’s defense wasn’t quite what Job had in mind. At the first pause, Job answers, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (40:4-5).

But God hasn’t finished yet. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (40:7). Then come the most blistering questions: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn your- self with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you” (40:8-14).

It is important to recognize that God does not here charge Job with sins that have brought on his suffering. He does not respond to the “whys” of Job’s suffering, nor does he challenge Job’s defense of his own integrity. The reason he calls Job on the carpet is not because of Job’s justifica- tion of himself, but because of Job’s will- ingness to condemn God in order to justify himself. In other words, God does not here “answer” Job’s questions about the prob- lem of evil and suffering, but he makes it unambiguously clear what answers are not acceptable in God’s universe.

The rest of chapter 40 and all of chap- ter 41 find God asking more rhetorical questions. Can Job capture and subdue the behemoth (40:15ff.) and leviathan (41:1ff.)? These two beasts may be the hip- popotamus and the crocodile, respec- tively, but they probably also represent primordial cosmic powers that sometimes break out against God. The argument, then, is that if Job is to charge God with injustice, he must do so from the secure stance of his own superior justice; and if he cannot subdue these beasts, let alone the cosmic forces they represent, he does not enjoy such a stance, and is therefore displaying extraordinary arrogance to call God’s justice into question.

Job’s response must be quoted in full (42:2-6), along with two or three explana- tory asides: “I know that you can do all things,” Job tells God, “no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowl- edge?’ [38:2]. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me’ [38:3; 40:7]. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you [i.e., Job has come to have a far clearer understanding of God than he had before]. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

What shall we make of this exchange between God and Job? Many doubtful interpretations have been put forward by various writers. Because God refers to so many natural phenomena, one writer argues that a major purpose of God’s speech is to tell Job that the beauty of the world must become for him an anodyne to human suffering, a kind of aesthetic aspirin. When one basks in the world’s beauty, one’s problems become petty, “because they dissolve within the larger plan” of the harmony of the universe.4 But to someone suffering intensely, the beauty of the world can just as easily become a brutal contrast that actually intensifies the suffering. Worse, it does not dissolve pain; rather, it is in danger of “dissolving” the sufferer in some kind of pantheistic sense of the fitness of things. This is surely a massive misunderstanding of God’s response. Not once does God minimize the reality of Job’s suffering.

Others, such as George Bernard Shaw, simply mock God’s answer. Job wants an answer as to why he is suffering, and the best that God can do is brag about mak- ing snowflakes and crocodiles. A contem- porary author like Elie Wiesel, writing in the aftermath of the Holocaust, holds that Job should have pressed God further. Doubtless Job needed to repent of his at- titude, but he still should have pressed God for an answer: Why do the righteous suffer?

Both of these approaches misunder- stand the book rather badly. They have this in common: they assume that every- thing that takes place in God’s universe ought to be explained to us. They assume that God owes us an explanation, that there cannot possibly be any good reason for God not to tell us everything we want to know immediately. They assume that God Almighty should be more interested in giving us explanations than in being worshiped and trusted.

The burden of God’s response to Job is twofold. The first emphasis we have already noted: Job has “darkened God’s counsel” by trying to justify himself at the expense of condemning God; and Job is in no position to do that. “God’s speeches show Job that his lowly station point was not the appropriate place from which to judge whether cosmic orders were suffi- ciently askew to justify the declaration ‘let there be darkness.’”5 The second empha- sis is implicit: if there are so many things that Job does not understand, why should he so petulantly and persistently demand that he understand his own suffering? There are some things you will not under- stand, for you are not God.

That is why Job’s answer is so appro- priate. He does not say, “Ah, at last I understand!” but rather, “I repent.” He does not repent of sins that have allegedly brought on the suffering; he repents of his arrogance in impugning God’s justice, he repents of his attitude whereby he simply demands an answer, as if such were owed him. He repents of not having known God better: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore … I repent” (42:5-6).

To those who do not know God, to those who insist on being God, this out- come will never suffice. Those who do not know God come in time to recognize that it is better to know God and to trust God than to claim the rights of God.

Job teaches us that, at least in this world, there will always remain some mysteries to suffering. He also teaches us to exercise faith—not blind, thoughtless submission to an impersonal status quo, but faith in the God who has graciously revealed himself to us.

John Piper – What we need to know about evil

piperJohn Piper preaching on 2 Timothy 3:1–13, shows us 6 things about evil that we need to know from these verses:

  • The times of evil.
  • The severity of evil.
  • The specifics of evil. -In verses 2–5 Paul lists 19 examples of the kind of evil people who will populate the last times — the now times — and worse at the end of the end. I’m going to do what I encourage you to do. I’m going to read the list and add my brief description of what I think each one means. The aim of a list like this is not to grovel in evil or gloat over others or savor indictments. The aim is to understand the untrue and varieties of evil and to spot these things in ourselves and others with a view to overcoming them and avoiding them.
    • Verse 2: “For people will be lovers of self (narcissistic),
    • lovers of money (materialistic),
    • proud (loving to draw attention to their accomplishments),
    • arrogant (with an inflated view of self),
    • abusive (wanting to be verbally hurtful),
    • disobedient to their parents (having a rebellious spirit),
    • ungrateful (assuming that they have a right to the things they get),
    • unholy (indifferent to the attitudes and acts that reflect the value of Jesus),
    • heartless (unable to sympathize or empathize),
    • unappeasable (unwilling to forgive),
    • slanderous (devilishly distorting what other say and do),
    • without self-control (a slave to their appetites),
    • brutal (dead to all tenderness),
    • not loving good (unable to see and savor moral beauty),
    • treacherous (breaking promises for their own advantage),
    • reckless  (craving admiration for taking risks),
    • swollen with conceit (blind to the ugliness of self-preoccupation and the beauty of admiring others),
    • lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (finding more satisfaction in physical titillation than in the divine admiration),
    • having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power (using religion for personal gain without treasuring Christ above all).” (2 Timothy 3:2–5).
  • The creep of evil.
  • The limit of evil.
  • The alternative to evil.

2 Timothy 3:1–13,

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

you can read the entire transcript of this sermon here- http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/when-a-lover-of-good-thinks-about-evil

Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering? – Lee Strobel

Published on Jul 25, 2012 by 

 

July 22, 2012 – Shortly after the tragic Colorado Shooting (done by James Holmes at a movie theatre in a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises), Lee Strobel (author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith) was asked to speaking on evil and the existence of God at a nearby Church (Cherry Hills Community Church). Can a good God exist in light of tragedies, holocausts, genocides, senseless murders, rape, pain, sufferings, etc.? Why would a good God allow this? Strobel explores this important question in this video.

Read the Notes from this message in pdf format here: http://www.chcc.org/resources/1/PDF’s/Lee%20Strobel%20Message%20on%20Suff…

 

 

David Platt – Questioning God (It is okay to do so)

This is the struggle of faith. It is a real struggle to reconcile the character of God with the circumstances of our life. This is not trite. This is deep and if we are honest with God in our lives; this is a struggle- reconciling the character of God with the circumstances of our lives.

Habakkuk 1  Habakkuk 2

It’s those moments in life when something happens that changes everything. There’s things that happen in our lives that make us sit back and wonder what is going on? Why did this happen and where is God in the middle of this? The pain and suffering…

Habakkuk, the prophet in reverse: who spoke TO God on behalf of the people

What I want to show you is that these are not just okay questions, these are good questions to ask. All the other prophets, except Habakkuk are speaking for the Lord to the people. That is why they always say, „Thus saith the Lord”. But in Habakkuk we see the reverse. We see Habakkuk speaking to God on behalf of the people. What we see in the book is a dialogue with God, where Habakkuk is wrestling with injustice and evil and suffering everywhere around him.

The Babylonians, referred to as the Chaldeans here in Habakkuk, are about to take over Judah. The people of God in the middle of suffering as a result of their sin, and Habakkuk wondering, „God what are you doing? Where are you in the midst of all this?” And what we see is the hard reality of Habakkuk:

God uses painful experiences to accomplish His sovereign purposes

That’s the cold reality of the Book of Habakkuk. The prophet Habakkuk wrestles in the struggle of faith; wrestling with God in the same way we have seen this in Job, or Moses, or even Jeremiah… Habakkuk coming to God with deep, honest questions that lead to deep, honest praise. I want us to see the relationship between the two. From the struggle of faith to the song of faith in the book of Habakkuk.

The struggle of faith:

  • Does God hear? Have you ever cried out to God in the middle of pain and gotten the sense of nothing but the silence of heaven? These are bold questions. You almost wonder: Is this appropriate? I want you to see the prophet pressing in to God. He is not content with surface theology. He is pressing in deeply. Does God really hear?
  • Does God care? Habakkuk’s living in the middle of evil and injustice and suffering and seemingly God is doing nothing about it.
  • Is God good? This is one of the main questions of the book, and really one of the deepest questions in all of life. How can God be good and there be so much evil and suffering in the world? That’s the ultimate question. Is God good and is God holy?
  • Is God holy? He is pressing into the very nature of God here saying, „You are holy, yet you are sitting idly by as all this evil runs rampant.” Which bring us to the next question:
  • Where is God’s power? „God, are You going to protect your people in the middle of all of this contention, strife, destruction; violence rising around, always before your people. Where is your power and…
  • Where is God’s word? „The law is paralyzed. What good is your word? Are You going to show your justice?” which leads to really what I think sums up this whole picture:
  • Is God worthy of my trust? Habakkuk comes to God with questions and God responds by saying that he was about to raise up the enemies of the people of God and use them to rout His people and destroy them. Have you ever cried out to God in the middle of suffering, only to find that His answer and His response only evokes more questions? That is exactly what is happening here. God responds and then Habakkuk says, „What?”

This is the struggle of faith. It is a real struggle to reconcile the character of God with the circumstances of our life. This is not trite. This is deep and if we are honest with God in our lives; this is a struggle- reconciling the character of God with the circumstances of our lives. This is not just be happy and move on. There’s a depth here that Habakkuk is pressing in and it leads us to God’s second response: Verses 2,3 and 4; the most important verses in the entire book. (notes continue below video––>) More DAVID PLATT Sermons here.

Habakkuk 2:2-4

And the Lord answered me:”Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it;it will surely come; it will not delay.
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

The key phrase in the entire book of Habakkuk is in verse 4. „The righteous shall live by his faith”. From the struggle of faith to the life of faith; God says to Habakkuk, to His people, „Here’s how to walk through suffering. You live by faith.”

Well, how do you do that? The life of faith:

  1. You listen to the truth of God.  „My word is the rock upon which My people will stand, in the midst of pain and suffering. In the midst of trial, you will never go wrong listening to the truth of God. Our emotions will lead us all kinds of different ways. Our circumstances will lead us all kinds of different ways. Our thinking will lead us all kinds of different ways, the advice we are given will lead us all kinds of different ways. The truth of God is the rock, the compass that brings us back to center at every point: walking through trial necessitates that we listen to truth. And the word of God IS the trust. It may not always say exactly what we are wanting to hear; it may not speak in a way that we would like to hear, but we can listen to this truth and find a foundation upon which to stand, no matter what the circumstances are.
  2. Lean on the timing of God. We want action in the short term. Short term circumstances provide a poor measurement of the long term character of God . The life of faith says, „I don’t see it now. All I see is darkness, all around me. The life of faith presses in and says, „I’m going to wait and God is going to show Himself and He is the one who hears and cares and who has all power and who is good and who is holy, who’s going to show this”. This is where we realize that suffering on earth, trials on earth can only be understood in the timing of heaven. Think about it. Any trial, we have no idea all that has gone on to lead us to that point; not just in our lives, but, in other people’s lives around us and we have no idea what is going to come from that in our lives or the other people around us. There is a whole perspective here that we do not have. When Job went through his suffering, he had no idea that Satan had approached the throne of God in heaven to tell God that the only reason Job worships Him is because he has „stuff” from God. And God tells him to take away all his stuff and Satan does it. Unbeknownst to Job, an audience of Satan and a hundred thousand angels and God are peering over Job. And Job tears his clothes and falls on his face and says, „The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. And unbeknownst to Job, 200,000 angels arms go flying into the sky and say, „Worthy is the God of Job!”  and Satan goes running from God’s presence. Job had no idea. I;m not saying that every time you go through trials, there’s some divine presence in heaven leading up to this. But, I am saying this, „You and I have no idea what is going on  leading up to this and we have no idea what is coming out of this. Job had no idea when he was in chapter 1 of what would happen by chapter 42 where he says, „I have heard of you God but now I have seen you and know you deeply”. There is a wrestling between chapter 1 and chapter 42. There is a picture here. There is a timing here and here’s what we are realizing even as we read these prophets. None of these prophets ever fully experienced, saw the hope about which they prophesied. I can not, based on the authority of God’s word, say to any person tonight, about the trial that you are in, in your life, that it will end in this life. The reality is, that you may, never in this life see the end of this trial. At the same time, you can lean on the timing of God. What do you mean?
  3. Live with your trust in God. This is the key question right here. You can, in the midst of suffering, either trust in yourself, or trust in God. God says, „Trust not in yourself, trust in Me”. This is where we realize this verse’s importance for it is quoted several times in the New Testament, most notably: Trusting in God for your salvation. Romans 1:16-17 and Galatian 3:11-12. At the moment, when you trusted in God for your salvation, you trusted yourself upon God. And what God is saying to and through Habakkuk is, „Just as you trust in God for your salvation; trust in God amidst your suffering”. God will show Himself faithful. In the same way that He saved you from your sins, by faith; He will sustain you in your suffering, by faith.
  4. Look forward to your triumph with God. From verse 5 and throughout the rest of the chapter the Chaldeans get their due. But right in the middle of this there are 2 verses tucked away that are glorious glimpses of hope for Habakkuk. 2:14- The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Yes, there is coming a day when God will show His glory in an astounding, universal way.If you are walking through suffering right now, if you are going through a difficult time of pain and hurt, know this. Hold on to this: There is coming a day when the pain, the hurt and the suffering will fade away and the glory of God will fill the whole earth and it will be beyond dispute: He is indeed good! And He is indeed holy and He is indeed just and right and worthy of our worship. Look forward to the triumph. This is Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17: Take heart, these light and momentary troubles and afflictions; they are passing away. So, we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but we fix our eyes on what is unseen. If you are in the middle of suffering in your life, lift your eyes and look toward that which is unseen. God is going to show His glory in a way that is going to cause all the hurt and all the pain and all the wrestling to fade away. God will show His glory and we will stand in awe.
All of this leads to the song of faith. The last chapter in Habakkuk is absolutely amazing. It’s intended to be used as a psalm in worship. Habakkuk just reviews the greatness of God and the history of His people. After those deep, deep question, now the result of deep, deep praise.
The song of faith:
  • God is awesome
  • God is full of wrath. You realize that God is indeed holy and He is indeed just and God will show the full extent of His wrath to sin and sinners alike
  • God is full of mercy. At the same time, God is full of mercy. Wrath and mercy. Isn’t this the picture we are seeing with all of the prophets? Wrath and mercy; helping us to understand the death on the cross (where) wrath and mercy meet together in One.
  • God is present in all of creation. (Deut. 33) When you walk through suffering, yo do not have a God who is distant from you. You have a God who is present with you. He is with you in the valley. He never leaves you alone. You’re never alone in suffering. You God is present in all of Creation.
  • God has power over all things.
  • God is sovereign in all things. There is not one event in history that God is not totally sovereign over. When you hurt, or maybe one day when you hear that diagnosis from the doctor that you dread; know this, that in that moment God is absolutely on His throne and He is not surprised. When you got that call, or when you get that call, it changes everything. Know this: God was, is, will be on His throne; sovereign over all of that. This is really, really good when you realize the next thing…
  • God is the protector of His people. It is good to have this God on your side. Let me rephrase that: You really want to be on His side. Just let this soak in: Child of God. The God who has power over all things in the universe, the God who is sovereign over all things in the universe is your protector. No fear. Bring what may. No fear. God is our protector and He is the deliverer of His people.
  •  All this leads to the last 3 stunning verses. Habakkuk has wrestled with God. Circumstances around Him are dark on every side; suffering and pain and no sign of anything changing and this is Habakkuk’s conclusion: God is our satisfaction. He says „I will rejoice in the Lord” He doesn’t just sustain (trusting) but he satisfies (rejoicing). This is not just some trite happiness, it is a true happiness, a rejoicing that says, „Everything is taken from me and yet I still have God and so I still have joy.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places
  • God is our strength. He upholds us. He makes us tread in the high places. If you’re in battle, you want to be in the high places. The high places is places where you conquer from. Places where you rule from and reign. In the midst of suffering, Habakkuk says, with His strength and His satisfaction he leads me to the high place, where no matter what is raging around me, I not only survive, thrive; but…
  • God is our victory. He puts us on the mountaintop as a victor and a conqueror in the midst of suffering.
It does seem weird to us, this truth of Habakkuk that God would use painful experiences to accomplish  His sovereign purposes and I want to remind us of something far, far, far weirder. Something far more difficult to comprehend:
The comforting reality of the cross
that God would use His Son’s suffering to accomplish His people’s salvation. That is hard to understand. One writer put it this way. God is always at work in human history, to achieve His ultimate goal. In the means by which He chooses to pursue that goal may be as astounding as: the destruction of a  nation or as incomprehensible as the blood dripping from a figure of a man on a cross. Yes, God’s ways in Habakkuk may seem strange, and yes, God’s ways in our lives may seem strange. Bu, look to the cross, for there, God takes the penalty of our sin, from our lives and pours it out on His Son and takes the pain of His Son to bring us peace. For God, the Father on high, wills the crushing death of His Son; the cruel, torturous, otherwise unexplainable death of His Son to bring us life.
His pain brings us peace.
His death brings us life.
We find salvation in His suffering and because of his sufferings for our sins, in our place, because of His victory over sins on our behalf, because of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the grave we can know this: Put your faith, put your trust in this- our suffering is temporary. Death itself is temporary. Christ is eternal. So thrust yourself upon Him. Thrust yourself upon the eternal God who reigns sovereign over all things and realize: Your suffering is temporary and your God is trustworthy. He will lead us all to conclude: Though there is no figs on the vine and there is no fruit in the field, we can rejoice in our God. Take joy in His salvation and stand strong on the high places because of His glory. Praise be to God. From the  message series: A Chronicle of Redemption Part IV Faithful Prophets in a Divided Kingdom. David Platt is Pastor of the Church at Brook Hills.
More DAVID PLATT Sermons here.

Is Good from God?: William Lane Craig vs Sam Harris at Notre Dame University April 7, 2011

Christian vs. Atheist Debate – Scholar and philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig debates Sam Harris (author of Moral Landscape and Letters to a Christian Nation) about Morality and God. Harris hardly responds to any of Craig’s contentions and arguments, while Craig shows that atheism (as presented by Harris) doesn’t stand a chance against theism. They debated April 7, 2011 at Notre Dame University.

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

Is Good from God?: William Lane Craig vs Sam Ha…, posted with vodpod

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