#STRask: February 23, 2017

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Published on 02/23/2017

In this special episode with a live audience, Greg still has to answer questions in under 4 min. Topics: God is egotistical, Greg’s daily prayer, the gift of prophecy


  • How do you respond to someone who is bothered that God is egotistical because of the tremendous comments he makes about Himself?
  • How do you spend time with God everyday?
  • What is the gift of prophecy and what would it look like for someone to have it today?


Melinda: This is Melinda, the Enforcer. This is part two of a special STRask that we did in front of a live audience February 11th. We had a book release party to celebrate Greg’s book, The Story of Reality, down in Orange County. We had about 130-40 people there and they were able to submit their questions this time. This is part two. Hope you enjoy it. Next question comes from Randy. What do you say to somebody who says God is egotistical because of his tremendous comments about himself?

Greg: I’m chuckling because we just had this conversation about a half an hour ago.

Melinda: You should know the answer, right?

Greg: Well, now I have to remember what I said. Let me preface it by laying a predicate. My conviction is that most of the things that we believe about God and about the world resonate with our deepest intuitions about the way the world is. Okay? Even when it comes to giving honor and glory to God, which some people are going to characterize as egotistical, I’m going to try to think of something that they already believe is true that is an appropriate analog to this situation that I could trade on a little bit to help them to see this issue in a different light. What they think here is that God has a moral flaw. It’s all about him. He wants the honor, he wants the glory, he’s egotistical. Now we understand that if God is God, then he deserved all of that. Let me back up. John Piper says, “It is appropriate to give honor to a morally great being.” We already do that kind of thing in smaller ways. In the case of God, he is the greatest moral being. He has moral perfection, so we give him the highest honor. As for himself, the same rule applies that it’s appropriate for God to give honor to the greatest moral being or desire honor for the greatest moral being, and that’s him. It becomes appropriate for God himself to desire that kind of honor for himself. Now that’s the way John Piper kind of plays it out. I think the way our conversation went earlier today is that I asked, “Well, does this person who raises the objection”...Let me just role play it. If somebody were to raise that objection to me I’ll ask them, “Do you have a boss?” “Yeah, of course.” “Is it appropriate to give honor to your boss? That is, do you show a certain deference to your boss that you would not show to other people?” They say, “Yeah, I do.” I said, “Is that appropriate?” Now I think he’s going to say yes because we all understand that there are certain stations in life that in themselves deserve a certain respect from us based on our relationship to that person who has a station in life. Sometimes we’re in peer levels, okay fine. There are some people that are put in a position that’s greater than ours and we don’t balk, generally speaking, at the obligation to show deference. We maybe show a certain kind of deference, or at least when I was a kid, to elders. We show a certain kind of deference to employers or to members of the government, policemen. This is what I was taught, that these offices...It’s like in the military, you salute the grade, you don’t salute the person. By the same token, we show deference to certain positions of authority and respect. That’s right. I think we all have a sense of this. Well, all we’re saying in regards to God is something just like that. It’s the kind of thing you do already on a regular basis, but you never really applied it to God. Probably if you had a chance to meet the queen of England, I imagine your posture would be different than it is talking with me. You would show her the respect that is due her office, even if you don’t like the queen you would probably be respectful to the office. By the same token, that’s a comma.

Melinda: Stop there.

Greg: This is a run-on sentence. By the same token when it comes to God there is a certain deference that is appropriate to his office as being the sovereign of the universe.

Melinda: Okay we have time for about two more questions. Next question. How do you spend time with God every day?

Greg: Well since...

Melinda: This will be a really short one.

Greg:...Since God is omnipresent that kind of takes care of itself, you know. I think the questioner had something else in mind, though there is a point here. I’m just speaking for myself now. Over the years I’ve tried to nurture and develop this perspective, that I don’t go into the inner room to meet God. When I go in the inner room with God, and my family knows sometimes the study door is closed and if they knock and they come in, there I am.

Melinda: Sleeping, right?

Greg: Not sleeping, meditating quietly on the word and praying under my breath. When I walk out of the door, I am still with God. I acknowledge the importance of regular focused times with God. When I’m at home rather than traveling, that’s a lot easier. When I’m traveling usually that means on the airplane out and the airplane back, but when I’m somewhere I’m up at 7:00 and I’m going until 10:00 or 11:00 or 12:00. Well I’ll tell you what I do in a moment, but my focused times, I don’t get them very often when I’m traveling except for maybe ten or 15 minutes on my knees by the bed at night before I get into bed. I cover my family first.

Melinda: Do you really get down on your knees?

Greg: I do.

Melinda: Oh that’s cool.

Greg: When I travel. I don’t know. I don’t do this at home, but when I travel I get down on my knees next to the bed. I realize I have a short amount of time. I’m tired, I’ve been working all day, but I don’t want to leave the important things uncovered like my family first, and then the home that I’m staying at or the community that I’m speaking for, the church. I’m trying to cover those bases. If I’m on my knees, I’m focused. I’m just more intent. Then I do my thing and then I get into bed, I go to sleep. Traveling it’s harder to focus. If I’m on the road, I don’t listen to radio usually. On the way back I do. I’m praying when I’m driving to the office. I’m using that time to do business with God, to go over specific things that are really critical. I’m covering the major bases right off the bat. I mention my family every single day. My most important stronghold is my home. When I pray that thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, I want God’s will to be done in my family and principally through me and my contribution before anything else. That’s my first focus, and then the other things of the day. I do that focus thing sometimes in the car. When I’m not in that focused environment I am still with God. I find myself talking to God when I’m walking around the house or when I’m out. My wife hears me mumbling and sometimes she says, “What are you doing?”, “I’m praying.” I may be bugged about something, but I’m taking it to God and dealing with things that way. Here and there, whatever, I meet somebody, I talk to them and then I fire up a little prayer. That’s my understanding of Ephesians chapter, not Ephesians, but 1 Thessalonians 5, pray unceasingly. To have an attitude of companionship with God. Brother Lawrence called it practicing the presence of God, that classic that some of you might’ve read. I’m not as good at it as he is, but he was a monk. He didn’t do anything but wash dishes and plant gardens or whatever. He was an ascetic. I’ve got a lot of other distractions. I think even with the distractions we can develop a habit of companioning with God and chatting with God through the day about all sorts of things that come to mind. That’s all I have to say about that.

Melinda: I know one practice you do that I try to do too is basically using the Lord’s prayer as an outline.

Greg: Yeah.

Melinda: I read an article the other day, I think on the gospel coalition, about somebody who was also recommending that. It actually was a practical suggestion of using the Lord’s prayer. First of all, it helps you cover all the bases that you should in your prayer, but also because our minds wander. He made the point that it helps you keep track of where you are in your prayer when you come back to it. I thought that was a really good suggestion.

Greg: Yeah. By the way, I don’t practice listening prayer. It’s not in the Lord’s prayer and it’s not anywhere in the entire Bible, just so you know.

Melinda: God practices listening prayer.

Greg: Pardon me?

Melinda: God practices listening prayer because he’s listening.

Greg: Yeah, that’s right. God practices listening prayer. I guess, that’s a fair way of putting it. Since we’re not God, then we don’t practice that. I think there’s a distortion there and it gets people into trouble. Just saying. I mean maybe this steps on some toes, but you just think about it. If it’s not in the Bible to practice this, then it’s nowhere. Then why do people teach this as an important part of prayer? Final comment, is I have a...

Melinda: Final, final, final comment.

Greg: She’s the enforcer but I’m the president and it’s my show. You know.

Melinda: The last question we asked, you know “do you talk to your boss differently than other people”, my answer is no.

Greg: Rodney Dangerfield, you know? Don’t get no respect. I struggle with prayer, just so you know. It’s not easy for me, and I try to find any help I can get to guide me. The Lord’s prayer has been helpful. Tim Keller talks about it quite a bit in his book on prayer. Martin Luther used that method. I have done a couple of mentoring letters on that, and I actually have a structure for a mentoring letter maybe later this summer on some things that I’m going to focus in that might help you in prayer as well.

Melinda: Okay last question, and you have two minutes because you went so over time on your after afterward. What is the gift of prophesy and what would it look like for someone to have it today? Two minutes.

Greg: Well, the gift of prophesy as I understand it is the spiritual ability to receive inerrant communications, inerrant clear communications from God that have the same authority as God’s word, but maybe not the same application. Okay? Let me qualify that last point. Prophetic words, according to 1 Peter, chapter two, is men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. Prophetic words have to be perfect. You don’t learn prophesy. You don’t get better at it, because the source is not from human beings. That’s also in 2 Peter, chapter one. The source is from God, and if the source is from God he guarantees its accuracy. This is why we can trust the Bible. The source is from God, even though errant humans were involved in writing it. They didn’t make mistakes because God protected that. The same thing is true of prophecy. Okay? It has got to be perfect, which is why, Deuteronomy 18, perfection was a requirement of prophesy. If you got it wrong, you were goners. Right? Every prophet had to sign his prophesy in blood. Now there’s some discussion as to whether this is the same in the New Testament. I have looked at the arguments. I see absolutely no reason in any text quoted to see prophesy any differently. It would take a monstrously clear, massive characterization of New Testament prophecy as different from Old Testament prophecy, not an innuendo, to overcome the force of Deuteronomy 18’s requirements. Okay? Now, sometimes a prophetic word, we have the classic Hebrew prophets’ prophetic word was for the whole nation and part of holy writ. Sometimes a prophetic word is given to an individual like Agabus gave in the book of Acts for Paul for a special circumstance. That made it into the scripture, but I think there is a role of that kind of thing at least in principle. Where a true prophetic word could be given to an individual and it’s not for the whole church. I make a distinction that some people don’t make in that regard.

Melinda: Going to wrap this podcast up. I want to thank our staff who put this whole event on. They did a fabulous job.

Greg: Bravo.

Melinda: Yeah. I want to thank all of you for being our very first live podcast audience, and that’s it for this episode. I’m Melinda the Enforcer, with Greg Koukl, for Stand to Reason.