Most of us are very familiar with the Bible story about the Garden of Eden. God had created everything, and lastly He had created His image-bearers, humans. It tells us then that He placed mankind in a garden and gave him authority over everything He had made. The story goes on to explain the creation of woman, who was called such because, “she came out of man,” referring to her being made from the rib God took from Adam’s side. God brought her to Adam and the two “became one flesh,” referring to the union of their relationship. We don’t know how long they lived in the Garden as an innocent, sinless couple…whether it was what we would consider a year or a month, or whatever…we have no real way of knowing. What we do know is what happened next…a major transition in existence…a failure…a fall…
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my personal journey in faith. As I have walked this path, I’ve messed up so many things, and hurt some people along the way as well. I have some acquaintances that are more atheistic in their beliefs, and in many cases, are such due to the way Christians have treated them. This makes me wonder about those that I’ve had contact with over the last 16 years…about my affect on them…with my jackassery (yes that word is necessary for this description)…with my arrogance…with my ignorance. Continue reading →
Today is Good Friday…and there’s some debate over why it is called by this name. This is the day in which we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, Who is called the “Christ,” or we might say, “Messiah.” There is some debate over the name of the day in terms of whether it was originally called “Good Friday,” or “God Friday,” or possibly something else. Years ago, when I first learned of this day and its name, I felt like it was cruelly or insensitively named…I thought that perhaps it may even have been disrespectful or flippant…but I was wrong…very wrong…or rather I guess I just didn’t understand the big picture and why we can truly call it a good day…as well as a God day… Continue reading →
In the month of December, we celebrate Christmas, which seems to have become quite confusing within the world of evangelicalism/consumerism. I’m sure that to many, especially outsiders, it is unclear what exactly this celebration is about. We must admit, with all of the “stuff” and commercialization of this holiday, it has become somewhat difficult to focus on the object of celebration. 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 was new to my faith, I had so many questions…and as I’ve grown in my faith over the last several years…my list of questions has as well. One question that always jumped out at me was about the death of Jesus. I always wondered why it happened…or rather why it had to happen. It has always been my understanding that God is all-powerful, and that ultimately, He’s “in control.” If that is the case, then why did He create a system of existence in which He (in the Person of Jesus) had to die?
One of the most interesting concepts to me in the Bible is that of dietary laws. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were given a law from God that forbade them from eating certain types of meat. For land dwelling animals, the animal had to have “split hoofs,” and “chew cud.” A cow is a very commonly thought of animal in relation to this subject. It chews cud and has a split hoof. These animals were considered clean and others unclean. A pig, for the most obvious example does not chew cud, thus making it unclean, although it wouldn’t take much thought to realize that a pig is a pretty disgusting animal anyway, comparatively speaking. The reason I’ve been intrigued by the concept of clean versus unclean animals is that God doesn’t really give a reason as to why He made this distinction. I know there are many people out there that speculate on the various reasons, ranging from health reasons to philosophical issues. However, any reason we give is speculation, because the Scripture isn’t clear as to why these distinctions are made. God never said, “I have deemed them unclean for ____ reason(s).” Therefore, we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out this mystery…but maybe we missed an interesting point in the big picture… Continue reading →
I was speaking to a good friend recently about some issue…I think it was the end-times stuff…and after I said all I had to say, he pierced me with one humble, honest question: “How is that helping you reach people with the Gospel?” If I remember correctly, when I attempted to respond, I stuttered and stammered as I urgently tried to explain how this subject was helpful in that endeavor…until I finally gave up…I said, “It’s not…and unfortunately, a lot of the subjects I like to spend most of my time discussing/debating have very little to do with making a disciple in Christ…they’re just controversial.” He then began talking to me about the simplicity of the need for solidarity in the Gospel and its proclamation, and how we spend too much time on controversy…and not enough on the clear message of Scripture. Continue reading →
i went and saw “lincoln” with my wife some months ago (EXCELLENT by the way). the focus of the movie is the passing of the 13th amendment of the constitution, which was the abolition of slavery. in our history, slaves were treated as subhuman and regarded as the property of their owners…even though they were people…made in the image of God. it occurred to me that no one likes to be in any form of captivity…we like to be free. we like to be under our own command and control. of course, control is pretty illusory…but we all like to at least have the impression of total freedom in our own lives. during the movie, i had a thought…a thought about freedom…what is it? in all of our discussions about liberty and/or freedom do we ever really stop to consider what it is? some people are not free but are still treated fairly within the confines of their captivity…yet they still long to be free… because even if treated fairly, or even treated really well, they would still not be what their hearts longed to be…free. of course, i would never try to compare the burdens and difficulties of our day to those that bore the marks of slaves in our nation’s history, so let me be very clear about the fact that i am not trying to draw that parallel. the subject just made me think very much about freedom.
i think perhaps the most often quoted saying of Jesus in modern culture is His, “judge not, that you be not judged.” (matthew 7:1) anytime an absolute moral position is taken on a given subject, people are likely to throw this verse out. then we hear the Christian compliment to it…”we are called to love not to judge.” those that usually quote this verse most often do so in defense of themselves or of someone they love…or at least intend to and believe they love…but according to paul…we are supposed to judge those who call themselves believers:
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 corinthians 5:11-13, esv, my emphasis added) Continue reading →
in astrophysics, there has been a pursuit for something called the “unified theory.” i don’t know much about this, but just some basics (i’m not an astrophysicist or a scientist of any sort, so please exercise grace with me on this). please stay with me for just a minute and humor me…i have a point…i think. the general point of the theory is to present a hypothesis for how the four major forces work together, the four being electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, and gravity. the pursuit has thus far been elusive because scientists have not been able to observe all the forces in action. they have determined that each of the forces must be carried by a particle and they are trying to determine how all these particles work together, hence a “unified theory.” such a theory may point us in some very interesting directions in the race for discovery. however, they keep running into roadblocks in trying to find the real substance upon which to form this theory…and the most common roadblock as far as i can tell is that they cannot observe the “graviton.” even though it sounds like the name of a transformer, it is the name of the particle that is thought to carry the force of gravity…but it’s never been observed…only its effects have been. without this particular issue the theory would be okay…but the gravity issue throws it a major curve ball, because even though its effects can be seen clearly, the full spectrum of its behavior is far from being understood.
there are probably only a few other topics in Scripture that are as controversial as what we call “the rapture of the church.” for those of you that may not be aware of this subject, let me give the basic idea…when Jesus arose from the grave He appeared to His followers over a period of a little more than a month, and after this He “ascended” into heaven. Scripture tells us that He did not die again, nor settle down somewhere and start a family…but went into the realm (or maybe “dimension”) of heaven, physically leaving this world…and all the while…making a promise…a promise of return. this has been the most anticipated event in history from the perspective of believers, and a highly debated event in terms of its details. what He made very clear was that He would physically return to this world some day and that when He did, every eye would see Him (no, i don’t know how that will work, but i believe it). then, at what many would call the “end of the age” or what-have-you, He will remake the world into its glorious, innocent, perfect form. all of this is pretty well agreed upon…it’s the transitional points that people have various opinions on and, in many cases, would unfortunately be willing to fight over. Continue reading →
today is the the 20th of december of 2012…tomorrow being the 21st…and there are many people in the world that are certain that on the 21st there are going to be major cataclysmic events that may bring an end to the world as we know it. let me start by saying that i don’t have any idea what the future holds nor will i spend much energy debating that subject. the only thing i will say is that Jesus told us that He would return someday and that would mark the beginning of the next age. i believe in that, and therefore i don’t put much stock in the predictions of mankind. something may happen tomorrow…who knows…but i refuse to be distracted and carried away by that debate. Continue reading →
recently i was watching the pilot episode of a series called “once upon a time.” one of the main female characters goes home on her birthday and has a single cupcake with a single candle and celebrates her birthday all alone. she makes a wish that she would not have to continue to spend her birthdays all alone…the interesting thing is that she lives in a big city…amidst a virtual sea of people…yet she is totally alone… Continue reading →
after more than a decade of ministry work and church attendance, i have noticed something very peculiar…there is something missing…something very important…central…essential…and it’s totally missing. a.w. tozer spoke of this same principle when he wrote his book the divine conquest…he said that there is no greater reality than the utter unreality with which the Christian church approaches worship. what mr. tozer was saying was that the most real thing in the life of the church is that when we worship, we don’t act as though we actually believe in the Object of our worship…resulting in just another ritual which we are going through to check off the “religion” box for our week. i have been in very traditional settings as well as charismatic ones and the same truth is very observable in both…it’s just expressed differently. in the traditional setting, there is an insistence on dignified behavior and speech, and in the charismatic there is a desire to have an “experience.” but in both circumstances, i notice that people leave and then eventually begin down the same paths of habit and life as they had before…because transformation wasn’t/isn’t occurring…just temporary highs or reminders…but life-altering, mind-invading, heartfelt change was not/is not happening. Continue reading →
a few years ago, i was at a men’s conference in a local church and i made a new friend. i was in a very disenfranchised and arrogant state of mind regarding church and all of its various attachments. at that point in time and i made a comment to him…i said, “the Bride of Christ is incredibly screwed up.” he didn’t miss a beat, responding to me, “yet, He still loves her immensely.” that was a major defining moment for me…it rocked my world…it literally made me stop and catch by breath as i re-thought my attitude and mindset regarding the church. it was then that i realized that i was part of the problem…in fact, perhaps the larger part…because in all of my ponderings and thoughts about how bad off the modern church is, i never stopped to consider the solution…instead all i cared about doing was pointing the finger of judgment at the church, calling it “judgmental” (irony at its finest), and feeling superior in what i felt was a keen insight on reality. meanwhile, there she was…floundering…struggling…trying… and there i was…not helping one bit… Continue reading →
Of all the things we teach our children, the one that seems to be hardest to drive home is that they are not the center of the universe. Everything in life is not about them…if I only had a nickel for every time I heard that while I was growing up. So, part of my job as a father is to disciple my children into the understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that it’s better to give than to receive, and so on. Simple enough, huh? Seems like it should be, as it is the attitude of Jesus all through the Gospel accounts, but then I turn on the radio one day and tune it to the local Christian radio station…then I become very troubled. Continue reading →
in the majority of evangelical churches, there is a lot of talk about “the great commission.” this is the command that Jesus gave His followers to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. truly, the original language (greek) doesn’t refer to “nations” as we understand them. it is the word “ethnos” (ἔθνος), which is where we get our word, “ethnicity.” so what He was saying was to make disciples of all people groups, of every color, and culture in the world. this is where our missionary efforts come from…sending out missionaries to carry out this commission. this is typically a very difficult but very rewarding lifestyle and many of our missionaries have given their lives in response to this call…spreading the Gospel message all the while and sowing seeds of the Gospel all across the world…in the attempt to make disciples. we also do this (or should be doing this) at home, in our communities, counties, states, and nation… Continue reading →
i have noticed that one of the things Christians are known for is our rules. we have rules about so many things that people on the outside will quite often look at us and wonder what we are “allowed” to do…because it may seem like we aren’t “allowed” to do much. the irony is that Jesus entered into the world through an ethnic culture that loved rules, rules, and more rules, yet His work freed them and us from these very rules. the freedom that they gained (if they chose to accept it, just like us) was that they were free from the penalties of breaking these rules as well as freedom from having to jump through any sort of hoop in relation to their religion. when Gentiles (non-Jewish people) began to believe in Jesus, there arose a question: “do they need to keep our laws?” Continue reading →