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The Kindness of God | Nate Pickowicz

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
February 10, 2024 1:00 am

The Kindness of God | Nate Pickowicz

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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February 10, 2024 1:00 am

With all of the incivility and conflict in today’s world, we need an infusion of kindness. If you agree, don’t miss this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Pastor and author Nate Pickowicz believes our lives must be understood and lived in light of God’s kindness and compassion. If you’re overwhelmed with your circumstances, don’t miss the encouragement on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Feature resource: The Kindness of God: Beholding His Goodness in a Cruel World

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We are to praise Him in the midst of all storms.

I think about Lamentations 3.32. For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant love and kindness. So I don't think we should be afraid of talking about hard things because even in those hard things, God is still kind and He's still good to us.

Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Many in today's world have trouble believing that God is kind because they see so much suffering. Today, pastor and author, Nate Pikowitz, helps answer some of the hard questions people struggle with about God's kindness. A featured resource at the website buildingrelationships.us is the book by Nate titled The Kindness of God, Beholding His Goodness in a Cruel World. I think it's going to help a lot of people struggling well with this topic.

Again, you can find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Gary, you've talked about this before in some of your books and here on the program. I think there's a sense that kindness is part of the love language concept. Do you think that's true?

I would say yes, Chris. It seems to me that love, kindness, is one of the expressions of love. Of course, I associate it more with acts of service, but there's other ways, I'm sure. I'm excited about talking with Nate today about this topic because I'm interested to see what his definition of kindness is. People have different ideas, but yeah, I can see it as being part of the love language concept. It is certainly a way to express love and certainly a way that God expresses his love to us.

Yes. Well, let's meet him. Nate Pikowitz, you don't have to spell that name in order to hear the program today. He is pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Gilmenton Ironworks, New Hampshire. He's the author and editor of several books, including How to Eat Your Bible. He and his wife, Jess, have three children, and our featured resource today is the book, The Kindness of God, Beholding His Goodness in a Cruel World. You'll find out more at the website, buildingrelationships.us. Well, Nate, welcome to Building Relationships.

Thank you for having me on today. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, your church. Who is Pastor Nate?

Sure, yeah. Well, as you say, I'm a pastor. We planted this church back in 2013 in my hometown of Gilmenton Ironworks.

And yes, there are stories about why it's called that, but just a very small rural town. And prior to coming back here, there really wasn't a gospel witness in the town, so we have the opportunity to plant a church here. And by God's grace, we've been rolling for the last 11 years. My wife and I, Jessica, we have three children, 13, 10, and 3, and they keep us busy. But it's just been a great joy. The Lord has allowed me to preach and teach and write books and have a wonderful family.

I'm just extremely grateful for God's kindness to me. Where is your home originally? Gilmenton Ironworks, New Hampshire. Yeah, I was born and raised here.

Oh, all right. Well, tell us the history of the town. I mean, where did that name come from? So, yeah, Gilmenton's a pretty old town. It goes back to the 1700s, but it was a booming town for quite a while there. And we actually had, as you can imagine, an ironworks, a factory that produced iron and shipped all over the place. And then just through the course of the 1850s, everything changing with the trains, the railway being installed, redirected business away from our town, and then a massive fire 100 years ago destroyed the ironworks. So we kept the name, but we don't have much left of what we started with. So now we're just a podunk town. We have more cows than people, and I like it that way. Well, there are a lot of people around the country who can identify with that. Sure, sure, that's right. That's great.

That's quite a history. Well, let's turn to the topic, kindness, the kindness of God. What compelled you to write about this particular subject? Yeah, so I just kept on finding that as I was going to the Lord in prayer, it was almost like this natural hitch where I would just find myself thanking God for his expressed kindness to me.

I would pray and just rehearse the different ways that he'd been kind to me. And it just sort of piqued an interest, and I started to look around for studies, you know, book studies about this particular topic of the kindness of God. And not to say that there isn't stuff out there written about it, but I couldn't find what I was looking for.

And so normally when I don't find what I'm looking for, I try to write something to fill the gap. But I just felt like even in the midst of that, there was just a need. I think there's a huge need right now for people to understand the character and specifically the goodness and the kindness of God. You know, when we consider people struggling so badly right now with depression and anxiety and just anger and seeing what's happening in the world, I think we really need to get a good vision of who God is and how he expresses his kindness to us.

And so that's really what motivated me to try to write this book. Why do you think there are people today who don't have a concept of God as being a kind God? What do you think has influenced those people? Yeah, I think generally, and I'm sure you've seen this too, there's just a general, at least in the Western world, a general opposition to God. In days past, perhaps, people sort of understood a general, they used to call it a benevolence of God.

You read the old Puritans and you even just read during the Enlightenment. People had a general sense of God's character, his justice, his righteousness, his benevolence toward humankind. So there was a general appreciation. Even if they didn't know God in a saving way, people in general sort of knew about God.

That's gone away. People don't know who he is. They have a very warped perception of who he is. And then add to that, when we see evil increasing in the world and acts of terror and hostility, people in their ignorance, they blame God and they say, well, if God was so loving, if God was so good, then why would all these other things happen? And I think really the heart of that is pride and arrogance. We take God's blessings for granted. We don't appreciate what we would know to be his common grace. We don't thank God for the fact that we have what we have. And so I think a combination of many of those factors may likely be contributing to why kindness has sort of fallen on hard times here.

Yeah. Well, in your own context, there in New Hampshire, small rural town, what's the general feeling of the people in your community? What do they think about God? Yeah, I'd say, you know, with where I am, I mean, New Hampshire is the, according to all the stats, we're the least church state in the country.

We're the very bottom tier, bottom of the barrel. And so not a lot of people are in church. Not a lot of people have at least a visible identification with Christianity, with evangelicalism, whatever you might call that.

I don't know if people really consider God as much as they should. I think up here in New England, you know, we're really, we have a hefty self-reliance. It's really not about what other people can do for me. It's about what I can do for myself. You know, we have a lot of self-made people.

And so because of that, you know, there's sort of a gritty New England attitude, which has its merits. I don't deny that. But when it comes to worshipping God, we don't look to him for the source of strength, for our blessings. We don't look to him to provide for us.

We don't look to him for anything. We're very self-reliant. And, you know, as you well know, self-reliance is really nothing more than a masked pride in self-righteousness. And so I think generally New Englanders struggle because it's all about us and not about God. So I think that's part of the reason why some have even regarded New England as an unreached people group, because we're just, it's a whole region full of people who don't regard and don't worship the Lord.

And so it's a tall order ahead of us to get us to help people to think about him in that way. So you started this church in 2013 in that small community there. How has the church gone through these years?

Yeah, by God's grace, it's gone well. Numerically, we've grown pretty much every year that we've been here. I think there's a general hunger right now.

I think God is doing something in New England, especially in New Hampshire. So by his grace, we've seen growth that way. But I think more than numerical growth, we've seen just an appetite for the word of God with our people. And so it's just such a great joy for me to be able to preach and teach and minister to people, to believers up here who are starving and really want the word and want truth, want doctrine.

And then want a place to express their love for other people. And so that's where your local church comes in. So we're very fortunate. The Lord has been very good to us. And by his grace, we have a growing and thriving church, and I'm very thankful for that.

Thanks for joining us for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. For more ways to strengthen your relationships, go to our website, buildingrelationships.us. You can take a free assessment of your love language there and see our featured resource by Pastor Nate Pikowitz. The title is The Kindness of God.

Find out more at buildingrelationships.us. Nate, the book, of course, is on the kindness of God, and we see kindness typically as an attribute of God. How does it compare to some of the other attributes of God?

Sure, yeah. So as you well know, an attribute of God is how we understand his person, his being. The kindness of God is closely connected to his goodness. So in the book, I talk about how God's goodness reflects his intrinsic character. And his kindness is an outward expression. So really, it's out of God's goodness that we experience his kindness. And so the two are interrelated, but they're not the exact same thing. So whereas other attributes are sort of germane to who he is, they're intrinsic, kindness is expressed outward to other people, or to us, I should say. So there is a connection, but like I said, they're not the same thing. Yeah. Give us your definition of kindness.

Yeah, I read widely on this and tried to figure out, okay, how do I take a broad concept and boil it down? So the definition I give in the book is that God's kindness is the demonstration of his goodness toward his people. So again, the demonstration of his goodness toward his people. And so it's, again, out of his goodness that we experience his kindness toward us. Okay, so in the book, you talk specifically about God's kindness pertaining to things like salvation and repentance. Why is it important that we see these as examples of his kindness?

Yeah, that's a great question. I think a lot of times, especially as believers, I think we tend to take things like salvation and repentance for granted. And I don't mean that in a sinful way, I just mean it in terms of that we don't really think about how this comes about. That we believe in Jesus, he saves us, we turn from our sins, and we have this relationship with God and it's good. But I think when we start to recognize that everything in the Christian life that we have received from God is an expression of kindness. And so, you know, just like Ephesians 2, 8, and 9 says that it's for by grace you've been saved through faith, it's not of ourselves, it's the gift of God. So God gives us, he grants us salvation as an expression of kindness. And we see that in Titus chapter 3 when it says when the kindness of God appeared to us, he saved us. Or even in repentance, you know, Romans 2, 4, we know that it's the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. So everything we experience in the Christian life, it's not of ourselves, it's from the Lord, it's expressed kindness of God. And when we recognize that and we kind of wrap our brains around that everything we have is a kindness expressed to us, then I think we can rightly begin to worship God and thank him for more than we're possibly recognizing in the moment. We can thank him for all of these things. Lord, thank you for being kind to me and saving me, for when we fall into sins and we repent and we're forgiven, we can say, Lord, thank you for granting me repentance.

I don't think I could muster that up on my own. Thank you. So I think we're meant to praise God for all the expressions of his goodness and love and kindness to us. That's the right attitude to have as a believer. If we focused on that concept, we could probably make a long list, every one of us, right? Even the personal things in our own lives. So how does understanding the kindness of God affect our lives as believers? Yeah, absolutely. Well, that goes back to the list.

I think there is a huge, long list. But if I could maybe boil it down to two or three, I think apprehending God's kindness, it should produce, number one, humility in us, recognizing everything we receive from God is expressed kindness. It knocks you down a couple of notches. I think it makes you recognize, wow, everything I have is from God. I should be humble and recognize it's not in myself. And I think in humility, we should also be thankful.

And I touched on that a few minutes ago. But I think thankfulness, that's an antidote to things like depression and anxiety. It's an antidote to pride and self-righteousness. I mean, thanking God for everything he does for us.

I think apprehending his kindness will do that. And then out of a heart that's humble and thankful, I think also we're meant to give praise to God. I think Christians can struggle at times in how to worship and praise him and thank him. But I think as we understand his expressed kindness, our praise and our worship will increase. So lots of effects, I think, that this can have on a believer.

And these are all good things for us. Yeah, I would encourage our listeners to write those three things down, because I think you're right. Humility, if we realize that everything, really, life itself is a gift of God. Humility, and then thanking God for what he's done for us, and then praising God. Well, I think as a preacher, I have to have a three-point sermon, so that's the way to do it. Well, for the pastors who are listening, there's your three points, okay?

Absolutely, sure. So how does understanding the kindness of God impact our relationships with other people? Yeah, I think a heavy verse on my heart when I consider that is Ephesians 4.32, where the Apostle Paul actually tells the church, he says, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. I think verses like that are helpful to us, because once we can sort of recognize and be humbled by God's kindness and grateful and thankful and praise him, once you recognize how God has been so kind to you, it feels wrong, and it is wrong, to not be kind to other people, especially to believers. I mean, Jesus told us in John chapter 13 to love one another just as he has loved us. So we're to be kind to each other. I don't think a believer has any excuse to withhold goodness or to withhold kindness from other people, especially when we consider the fact that God has been so kind to us. And even when people hurt you, I think even when you're in difficult relationships, whether they're family or church people, I think when people hurt you, if you can be reconciled to them and then consider, Look, God has been kind to me, he was a friend to me even when I was a sinner, even when I was against him, then I can also be kind because God has been good to me. So I think there's a cascading effect that happens when we realize how much we've been the recipients of kindness. It motivates us to then be kind to other people, and that can manifest itself in a million different ways. But I think that's a key application.

Yeah. I'm going to ask what Chris asked me in the first segment of the program today. How do you see kindness fitting into the love language concept? I think the way that, in different languages, the heart is going to be the same. How love is expressed, that feels funny for me to be telling you this, by the way, Dr. Chapman, but just the way that I understand it, that all of these different expressions of love and sort of tailor fitting those expressions of love toward the other person, I think the heart behind it is a desire to express a loving kindness to them.

It's out of kindness that we do these things, that I buy my wife a gift or I want to spend time with her or I give her a hug or whatever it may be. I think it's the heart that's underneath it, the being kind to one another, forgiving each other as God in Christ has forgiven you. That becomes the heart that's expressed in those different ways.

Again, we're not legalistic on how we do that. It can be lots of different ways that we express it. I think if the heart is right, the expression will be right as well. That's just kind of my two cents about that. Yeah, I fully agree with that.

I like that. I do think if we have an attitude of kindness, that's our fixed way of thinking, that with all that God has done for us, I want to be his instrument of being kind to other people. I think that is the attitude that's behind expressing all the love languages and many, many other ways of expressing kindness. But there is a sense, and let me follow up with this, the knock on the love languages where people will criticize it and say, well, you're just manipulating people.

You're doing this so you get this. And I think that same trap can be fallen into spiritually because a lot of people think that Christianity, Nate, is God tells you to do this and you do that and then he does this because you've done that. So it's a quid pro quo that we fall into that we do kind things to other people so that God will be kind to us. And then when some bad happens, then God didn't hold up his— in other words, we're meriting his kindness. And that's not what you're talking about, right?

No, no. And I think I've heard the same kind of criticisms about concepts like this where it becomes almost commodity, like if I trade in this commodity, then you'll trade in that commodity. But out of the heart, it's that we do all these things. So out of a heart that is loving and a heart that is kind, then your deeds will be good as well.

So yeah, obviously, if you're just going to do all these wonderful kind things to people because you're expecting to get something in return, then it does become works-based. And that's not a love language issue. That's a heart issue. That's a Christian relationship issue. If I could even turn this around, God's love language to us is his express kindness.

He does it in all these different ways. But again, if your heart is bad, everything you do will be bad. But if your heart is right toward God and toward other people, if you have a heart of kindness, a tender heart, as Paul says, that manifests a desire to love other people, then you're going to blow that out of the water. You're going to do all kinds of things that express your love toward other people.

And then it doesn't become transactional. It becomes a genuine expression of a loveliness and a loving kindness that has been shown to you as a believer. So I think it does fit in. I think it absolutely works for the Christian life. Yeah, and I think when you really have in mind that I'm here to bless the world, I'm here to enrich the lives of other people, everybody that I encounter, God brings things to your mind, acts of kindness, that you can do that you wouldn't have thought about on your own.

That's right. I think I shared this, Chris, with you a few weeks ago. I was up early, and the trash men could come by to pick up the trash.

And I seldom see them, but I happen to be out there. And so I just got out of my car real quickly. I said, hey, I just want to thank you for what you do every week coming by and picking up the trash. And he said, well, somebody's got to do it. I said, I know, but you're doing it. I said, think of what would happen in this city if you guys didn't come around and pick up the trash.

It'd be awful in a couple of weeks. So that's the first time I've ever thanked a trash man. And they've done good things for me all these years.

But I think God just brought that thought to my mind right there at that moment. So if you have an attitude of kindness, you're going to find a lot of different ways to express it. And if I could even just build on that, too, because it came several years ago, and my wife and I first got married, we read through your book and did the assessment at the end to try to figure out what our love languages tended to be, and they were sort of one result. And then we did it again a couple years later, and we found that it actually had changed, that how we received and wanted to give love was a little bit different. And it kind of dawned on me that at a certain point it's really not the act or the gift itself. Again, it's the heart. If I love my wife, I'm going to want to do whatever it takes to show her love, even if those things change over time.

So it's not being locked into a certain formula, per se. It really truly is about the heart. So I have to always be examining, how do I live with my wife in an understanding way? How do I understand how she receives love the best and just continue to try to manifest a heart that desires to show that to her? Yeah, that's why I often encourage couples, every three weeks or so, just to say to the other person, on a scale of zero to ten, how much love are you feeling coming from me? And if they say anything less than ten, you say, well, what could I do this week that would bring it up? And it may not be their primary love language that week, because there's something going on, what they need help in another way.

But we want to find out, as you said, and whatever it is, then to the best of our ability, we're willing to do that. That's right. Nate, I want to know, as I was going through your book, the dedication is to your mom. And my guess is there's something about your mom that is, that she was very kind in your life.

Why did you dedicate it to her? Well, so, yeah, certainly she was kind to me. She was always very loving and very tender when I was growing up.

But more specifically, my mom actually went through quite a substantial health trial in the last 12 months. And I got to watch not only God restore her, she actually recovered, and God restored her in kindness. But then I also got to watch her and my stepdad develop their relationship and watch my stepdad demonstrate loving kindness to her. And so, really, when I watched her whole recovery from this ordeal, I just saw layer upon layer of God's loving kindness to her and through her, and it just really had an impact on me.

Who better to dedicate a book to than to your mother, right? But that was the reason, that was the core reason, just by seeing and witnessing God's kindness through her. So is kindness something that's better caught than taught? Oh boy, well, I mean, Scripture teaches us about it, but certainly we have to catch it. So both and, how's that for a pastoral answer? I think if you see parents who are kind, you're more likely to be kind. Yes, I agree with that.

I would hope, anyway. Yes, yes, that's right. We hope today's broadcast is encouraging you. Tell a friend about our program, and you can find our podcast online at buildingrelationships.us. You'll also see our featured resource today, the book by Pastor Nate Pikowitz, The Kindness of God, Beholding His Goodness in a Cruel World.

Just go to buildingrelationships.us. Nate, in the book, you discuss the reality of human suffering. How are we able to see God's kindness to us, even in the midst of those difficult times that all of us have in life? Yeah, that's, I think, one of the most challenging things to apprehending and understanding God's kindness is, well, you know, what happens when God allows something bad to happen, or what if he ordains a trial in my life?

And I think for believers, we have to remember Romans 8, 28, that we know, and the Bible says we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. So even in our perspective, it feels like in the moment when we're suffering, going through trials, bad things are happening, it can feel temporally like it's all bad and that this is not going to be an expression of God's kindness. But when we look past the circumstances, and we know that, number one, God will use this for some good purpose, or even Hebrews 11, that he's disciplining us for godliness, or even James chapter 1, that we're to consider it all joy because our faith is being tested and we're being matured. If we can gain perspective and understand that God is doing something in the midst of it all, and that what he's preparing and doing in us and through us for his glory in the end is an expression of his kindness, then suddenly our perspective on the trial begins to change. Not that the trial loses any of its difficulty, I mean, we're going to go through hard things, but if we can come through the trial and worship God in the process, I think that's where we can find encouragement. And some of the most godly believers that I know are people who've gone through a terrible trial and yet have found and experienced God's kindness and his peace in the midst of it, and they rejoice over their trial. So I think that's really what we have to be, is seeing God's kindness through the trial itself and then praising him for it in the end. Somewhere, I think, recently I heard someone talk about Joni Eareckson Tada, and somewhere she had written that she was thinking maybe God would let her take her wheelchair to heaven and sit it in a corner so she could look at it and thank God for the wheelchair all those years and what happened to her. That's what we wish for every Christian, that they could see the difficult places in their lives. God's behind and he's using that. You wonder what kind of ministry would she have had in life if she had not been disabled all those years, since those teenage years.

Absolutely. And of course we don't know what that would be like, but we can certainly see how God has used her so greatly in the midst of that problem. But a person has to be walking closely with God to interpret suffering and sadness in that manner, right? They do, but I also think too, along with that, a person who even if they are a believer but they're not walking closely, many times the Lord will use the trials and the difficulty to bring them closer. So I think we shy away from trials and difficulty too much, oh Lord, I don't want you to hurt me. Well, but it's in the trial and through the trial that maybe you do need to grow closer. Maybe this is God's method of bringing you close. Because if you survive through the trial and still have your faith by God's grace, then you will be stronger.

And so yeah, he uses trials and difficulty and suffering for good ends. I found it really interesting that you started the book with Susan's story and you went through, you know, diagnosed with Crohn's disease, compounding sickness, arthritis, glaucoma, severe kidney stones. She'd been abused when she was younger and I thought, how do you begin a book on kindness with a person who's gone through that?

And then she finds a lump, you know? Tell us about Susan and what sparked the beginning of this book. Yeah, I think with her story, it's a relationship of someone in our church. Her mother was a church member, a very dear, lovely lady, and just I was struck by her story. But I began the book that way.

I agree, it's counterintuitive, but I began that way because I wanted to tackle ahead long or right on the nose here. The largest objection, the strongest objection against God's kindness is that God is not kind because he allows these things. And I wanted to just get that out in the open. Okay, here's a terrible ordeal that someone has gone through, but we're going to talk about it. I want to look at the ugly thing in the face, the ugly thing of the trial.

And just address it. And then in the end, we see that the Lord actually did use that trial for good. So I think we tend to shy away from difficult things because we're afraid that it's going to somehow impugn the character of God. But that's not who he is. He is the God over all things, even suffering and trials and difficulty. And while he's not the author of sin, he is sovereign over all things. And so I think that we are to praise him in the midst of all storms. I think about Lamentations 3.32. For if he causes grief, then he will have compassion according to his abundant loving-kindness. So I don't think we should be afraid of talking about hard things because even in those hard things, God is still kind and he's still good to us. Throughout the book, you refer to Psalm 63, verse 3, which reads, Because your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise you. How is it that we can see God's loving-kindness as being better than life itself?

Yeah, that's one to ponder for sure. But when you think about all of what life is, we tend to think life being a good thing. But life is also plagued with difficult things. And our life, at least on this world, is plagued by sin and the curse of the fall. And so our life is not always what we would hope or want it to be. And I think that those who are hanging on to this life, I mean, Jesus says if you love this life, in the end you'll lose it.

This isn't all there is. So I think when we consider knowing God, I mean, Jesus said eternal life exists in knowing God. If we know him and become acquainted with his character and his righteousness and his kindness, we begin to see that knowing him is actually greater. And that's what the apostle Paul says. He says all the things I've counted as loss for the sake of following and knowing Christ.

So Paul regarded his life as rubbish in comparison to knowing the Lord. So I think that's how we have to view a verse like that to say that, no, loving-kindness of God, the expressed goodness of his character, knowing him is far better than anything we could ever receive in this life. And I'll tell you, if we know Christ in this life and can see that, then we will rejoice in Christ in the next life.

And so I think that's got to be our heartbeat. Absolutely. I think every true believer, if they reflect upon God's kindness and a relationship with him, is more important than anything that will ever happen in our lives here. So powerful.

That's right. Does the concept of God's kindness have any implications on how we see culture and world events today? Yeah, I think it does. We read places like Psalm 2 where it talks about the nations raging against God, and even today so many people thinking that God owes them something or the universe owes them something or however they want to spend that, whether they think that God owes them blessings or favor or freedoms or whatever we think that God owes us as a nation or as a culture. I think an antidote to dealing with that mistake and that problem is to recognize, again, that God demonstrates common grace because he's good, that God doesn't owe us a thing. And I think if more people, again, this is apart from a saving relationship with Jesus, but even if just nations humbled themselves, and as the psalmist says in Psalm 2, pay homage or kiss the son that he might not be angry and you perish along the way, I think if nations would regard and revere and fear the Lord and began to thank him for being good, I think we would see a huge change in world events. Again, not that these things are saving realities. You don't get saved just by having in God we trust on a piece of money.

That's not what does it. But I think in terms of a world culture, we would be impacted, I think, if people had a right understanding of the God who created us. But there's a lot of applications, I think, of this doctrine into real world situations. I think all of us struggle with events that are going on in the world today and wondering where does this lead and what is God doing behind the scenes.

We see through a glass darkly in terms of understanding contemporary culture and what happens. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Our guest is Pastor Nate Pikowitz, author of The Kindness of God. You can find out more about it at buildingrelationships.us.

Again, go to buildingrelationships.us. Nate, I saw the chapter on sanctification and God's kindness. And I wanted to ask you about that because I have been thinking about process versus outcome. You know, I'm very outcome oriented.

What do I need to do and how do I need to get there the quickest I can? And God seems to be more interested in the process that he is taking me through rather than just rushing to the outcome. Because Jesus was that way with his disciples. So explain what you mean by, for those who don't know what sanctification is, what is sanctification and how is God's kindness involved in that? Yeah, so sanctification is really just a fancy theological word to refer to growing in Christ's likeness, growing in your spiritual walk with God. And really the root of sanctification is really, it has to do with holiness or God setting you apart for a purpose.

He pulls you out of the world, sanctifies you to himself in a relationship with him, but then he grows you in that relationship and that process of growth is what we call sanctification. And I think about 1 Peter chapter 2 where it talks about like newborn babes when we come to Christ and we long for the pure milk of the word. And he says, but in doing so as we grow closer to God, we read the Bible, we pray, we grow and we say no to sin and we repent and we grow in faithfulness, that we grow, he says, in respect to salvation, he says, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. So there's a connection there to growing in Christ and growing in the Lord and experiencing his kindness. And really I think that what God is doing is that at every step along the way he is nurturing us and feeding us and tending to us just like a parent does to their child.

You know, you don't have a baby and then teach them how to walk and then say, all right, well, you got to get to the end, you got to get a job and go to college and move on. You know, we minister to them slowly and progressively. We absorb a lot of their bad habits and their sins and their tempers and we absorb that as parents and we walk them through, we discipline them, we train them, we grow them and it's an act of kindness, a progressive kindness as a parent. Now if we know how to do that, albeit not always perfectly, but if we know how to do that as human parents who are sinful, how much more so does a perfect loving father know how to minister his kindness to us and minister as we grow in Christ's likeness? So I think that all throughout the course of our Christian life, God is ministering little kindnesses to us that grow us and nourish us and bring us closer to him where one day we will see him in glory.

So I think it's a progressive thing. We experience God's kindness from start to finish all throughout the course of our Christian life. I think that process, if we have any age like I do, you look back, you can realize, ooh, it's been a real process along the way because we're at a very different point now than we were so many years ago and that's encouraging to recognize that in a person's life. What encouragement do you have for the person who is struggling right now in their lives, they're having a hard time experiencing the kindness of God?

What would you say to them? Yeah, I want to encourage folks who are struggling in this area and that's one of the reasons, the main reason I think I wrote the book was to try to be an encouragement and a blessing to people. I think that when you're coming on hard times, whether you're going through a trial right now or even if you're just sort of hardened to the things of God, I would say begin with just prayer and confession. Go to the Lord directly and just tell him what's on your heart. I don't think this kind of a prayer needs to be a long, articulate, erudite kind of a prayer.

This is a prayer of just asking God for help, confessing your sins. Lord, I don't see you in your kindness. I don't see your goodness.

I don't acknowledge all these things. I'm struggling with you, Lord. I think admitting that and confessing sins and asking God to forgive you, I think that's a good place to start.

And then when you do find forgiveness, and 1 John 1-9 tells us that if we do confess, God is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from our unrighteousness. And as he begins to do that, I think reading his word, devoting yourself to scripture and reading the promises of God, if you're struggling right now, I would just go and live in the Psalms for a season and just look at how even David and the other Psalmists convey these feelings to God where they're struggling and yet they still acknowledge God's kindness to them and they learn how to praise God in the midst of the storms. So I would encourage you, struggling believer, if you're hurting right now, be encouraged and know that God is kind and just because you don't see it in the moment doesn't mean it's not happening.

You're just not paying attention to what he's really doing. But to get alone with him, to confide in him, to read his word and to encourage your heart that God really is who he says he is and he is a good God who does express his kindness to us. So lift your heads, beloved. God is good. I found it interesting you referred to the Psalms because I think you found it illustrated in the Psalms, right, where the Psalmist is open with God.

You know, I don't get this. You know, my enemies are overwhelming me, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Just being totally honest with God and even asking, where are you, God? You know, how long before you respond to me? You know, we can be honest with God.

He knows already how we feel and what our thoughts are, but we reveal them to him, but we're turning to him, not just with our frustration and our questions and all of that, but also to say, thank you, God. At least I'm still alive today. At least I still have this or I still have that or whatever, you know. Yeah, but it can be hard. It can be hard.

I understand the struggle there. Absolutely. What do you think would happen in the life of a believer if he or she truly understood God's kindness for them? I think it would have a transformative effect. I really do think it would change the way that we think about God. I think that it would begin to inform a right understanding of who he really is, to study out God's attributes or what some people call his perfections, to really immerse yourself in knowing him deeply and then seeing how he relates to us. I mean, the kindness of God is really how God relates to his people and how he blesses and demonstrates goodness. So I think if we could do that, we would know him better.

And Jesus says again, knowing him is eternal life. But more than that, I think we would rightly worship him. I think our worship would increase. I think our sensitivity towards sin, we'd be sensitive to that.

We'd want to confess. I think we would pray to him more. We would be nourished in his word. I think our love and our tenderness for him would grow, recognizing his loving kindness to us. And so I don't think it does anything negative for the believer.

There's only positives in this. And so that's been really my hope is that this book would just be a help. It would just be a guide to at least get people to start thinking about God's kindness in their own life and maybe thinking about it in places that they maybe hadn't considered before because it's everywhere. The more I studied it and looked at the whole thing, I realize it's absolutely everywhere and I'm the one who misses it.

I'm the one who doesn't pay attention. So I think if we could do that, I think our relationship would get better. We would love him more.

We would worship him brightly and we would give him the glory he deserves. Yeah. You know, I'm always encouraged as a pastor.

I'm sure you are. When I see people in our congregation that I've known for years who are going through really, really difficult times but who have a spirit of, thank you, Lord, thank you for all that you've done for me in my life. Because when you see older people who've been around longer than you have and see the things they're going through and yet see their thankfulness to God for all that he has already done, I've heard a member say the other day, if God did nothing else for me ever, I'm just so grateful for everything that's already happened in my life. Amen. Yeah.

Nate, one more question before we go. Romans 8.28. That doesn't mean that we figure out everything that God is doing in order to trust him, right?

Absolutely. I mean, there are things, there are lots of things that we will never know this side of heaven. As I think about Deuteronomy 29, the secret things belong to God and basically the rest belongs to us here that we don't always know God's plan.

His thoughts are higher, his ways are so much higher. That's not what the goal is. The goal is not to figure out God or figure out his plan. The goal is to by faith trust in him and throw our heart into his hands and say, Lord, if you're ordaining a trial, if you're ordaining difficulty, or even if you're ordaining good things, I'm trusting that you will work everything out for good. And I think about Joseph when he was abducted and sold into slavery and at the very end of his life, he says, what you meant for evil, God meant for good.

And I feel like that has to be our perspective that God does mean good for those who trust him and love him, even if we don't see how it all comes together. Well, Nate, let me thank you for being with us today. I think this topic is a timely topic and I think the way you've treated it in the book is gonna be very, very helpful to the readers. So thanks for what you have done in this book as well as the ministry you're having there in your local community. Thank you so much.

I appreciate the chance to be on and spend some time with you. Thank you. Well, what an encouraging conversation about God's kindness. Maybe someone you know needs to hear about this topic and you might be the person who reaches out to them. Our featured resource will help you.

It's entitled The Kindness of God, Beholding His Goodness in a Cruel World. Just go to buildingrelationships.us to find out more. buildingrelationships.us And next week, the comfort and compassion we get from experiencing the book of Psalms. Heather Holdsworth joins us from Scotland in one week. Our thanks to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman and the production of Moody Radio in Chicago in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 02:53:21 / 2024-02-10 03:12:18 / 19

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