How often have we heard this phrase? How often have we thought about standing in front of God after we die…in a courtroom type of setting…and often with a great degree of anxiety? We are fearful of what kind of punishment may await us…worrisome over the sins for which we may have forgotten to seek forgiveness. Many believers and non-believers alike harbor this same fear. The fear of actually receiving the just recompense for our actions…penalties for our rebellions…retribution for our ways. This fear lurks in the hearts of many…and it may drive some to seek mental or emotional escape…only worsening the problem. Where does this come from? Why do we live in such fear? Continue reading
I was performing a funeral some years ago (one of the many I’ve done over the years)…and something interesting happened beforehand. I don’t know if this is true for most pastors, but I had often been asked to perform funerals for people whom I’d never met. Often, it was because the individual was not a church-goer of any sort and had no affiliation with a minister. Usually, a family member or a friend of a friend that knew me would suggest my services. Well, such was the case this time, and the family member, whom I’d also never met, pulled me aside to inform me of the person’s spiritual condition. They let me know in no uncertain terms that this person “loved the Lord,” and then they gave me a very stern gaze…and said, “You understand what I’m telling you?” As he leaned in…I knew he was trying to intimidate me…I realized that this man either wanted me to make sure the man was in Heaven (which no preacher or priest can do), or to lie about the man… Continue reading
When I was a kid, my dad and I were going somewhere together in his pickup. We drove up to the top of a hill to a stop sign, just like we had done hundreds of times before…then it happened…before my dad could do anything to stop it…a rabbit ran out under his truck and he ran over it. I remember that Dad reacted more strongly to this than I expected of him. I told him it was no big deal and that it happens all the time…animals get killed by cars…that’s the world we live in. He said the thing that bothered him most was the possibility that it would lie there and suffer until it finally died…he was just this side of shedding tears…that moment affected me deeply… Continue reading
when i became a follower of Jesus, i immediately had multiple questions about the ways i was supposed to engage the world from that point forward. what i mean is that i wanted to know about “the rules,” for lack of a better word…or perhaps the “how-should-we-act-when,” types of questions. this pertained to various avenues in my life…language, attitude, money, marriage, public appearance…and the list seemingly goes on ad infinitum. i wanted the guidelines and for someone to tell me how Christians are supposed to act…i literally wanted the rules…and believed that if i had them and followed them that i would be bringing a degree of happiness to the heart of God…like a proud Father of a son that has been obedient. this is how many of us view our faith, and it’s not a bad thing to want to know how to make the Father proud (albeit that is the wrong question)…but i’ve learned something about my faith…it cannot be contained within a set of rules that have been fabricated using materials and concepts from an existence to which my faith is not bound…did you get that?