Of all of the questions that come from discussions related to faith and/or religion, one of the most central and critical has got to be the one about everyone’s eternal destination. As I mentioned in a previous post, Francis Chan wrote in Erasing Hell that it seems as though everyone goes to heaven if we look at the subject through the lens of what is said at funerals. I couldn’t agree more. It would appear as though one of our ways of comforting the grieving is to make sure they believe that the one they lost is now in heaven with other loved ones. (As an aside, let me say that it’s hard to know how to address this subject and this especially true when dealing with someone’s death.) So what does the Bible say about this? Is there legitimate evidence in Scripture to support the idea that everyone will go to heaven one day…whether they believe in Jesus or not…or whether they are part of an entirely different belief system, such as Islam, New Age, Hinduism, satanism, or any other? Continue reading →
For years I’ve thought about something relating to the story of The Great Flood and Noah’s Ark. Whether you accept this as history or myth, just consider what I’m going to present. I will go ahead and express that I hold to an historical interpretation of this story, although I’m not interested in debating it. I’m no expert on it. I simply believe it to be true, as did Jesus. So, please just grant the premise and consider something very grave… Continue reading →
I know the title of this post is a bit jarring for some. It’s not intended to be anything short of how raw this is. The intention isn’t shock…but instead it is just being honest about something I’ve learned and feel strongly about. There’s this guy I know who’s had a history of being incredibly severe in his tone. He has hidden behind “just being real and/or honest,” as an excuse to say whatever he thinks about others or the world around him in general. He has done great damage to his relationships with this problem. Ironically, two things that he always claims to hate are judgmentalism and hypocrisy. Who is this person? Dare I call him out publicly? I think I should…although it won’t be an easy thing to do… Continue reading →
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve gone throughout my day feeling like either a failure, an idiot, a disappointment, or a just plain guilty. These feelings come from lots of different causes in life. How many times have you felt that way? Have you ever felt like such a screw-up or disappointment that you just wanted to walk away from the world, become a total recluse and hope to never have to face anyone again? I have. I have had days where I just wanted to hide. I wanted to hide from the world…from family, friends, co-workers…even God. Continue reading →
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 →
How many times have we heard this phrase? How many times have we heard that the best thing to do in a relational conflict is to forgive and forget? What I find VERY interesting is that often this is said within the context of the Gospel. Many people believe that the Bible tells us to forgive people for how they have hurt us and act like it never happened (forget) because it reflects how God forgives us and it also contains God’s statement, “…I will remember their sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25). What if I told you that this is a misunderstanding of what the Bible says… Continue reading →
During WWII six Navy pilots left their aircraft carrier on a mission. After searching the seas for enemy submarines, they tried to return to their ship shortly after dark. But the captain had ordered a blackout of all lights on the ship. Over and over the frantic pilots radioed, asking for just one light so they could see to land. But the pilots were told that the blackout could not be lifted. After several appeals and denials of their request, the ship’s operator turned the switch to break radio contact–and the pilots were forced to ditch in the ocean.
Can you fathom the feeling of that type of abandonment? That had to have been the scariest and most helpless feeling one could ever have… Imagine the panic…imagine the anxiety. Continue reading →
As long as I’ve been a follower of Jesus, there seems to have been a list of things we aren’t supposed to do. As I’ve written before, one of the main questions that people ask when coming to a church or becoming a new believer is about “the rules.” Christians have a reputation for keeping kind of a tally of the things of this nature. I’m not referring to civil law so much…as in the law of the land…but to a moral code of conduct. Then…when we fall short within that framework…when we break one of the rules…when we cross over into “worldliness,” we feel dirty… impure… guilty… ashamed…hypocritical. Eventually, we arrive at a mindset wherein we believe that if we could simply NOT do those things anymore, then we would be better off…and we could not be more wrong. Continue reading →
On many occasions, I have heard preachers ask a particular question (I’m pretty sure I dropped this chestnut before as well). They ask, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” We obviously understand the meaning of this to be about whether or not our verbal professions of faith are lining up with our behavior. When we are asked about how our journey in faith is going…we always have the same answer…something like, “I’ve got a lot of growing to do,” or, “The Lord’s working on this area of my life or that.” While it is true that God is always working in our lives (when we let Him), I have found that I love to play those “get-out-of-jail-free” cards way too often. I love to have such an excuse. I love to be able to say, “I’m only human,” or, “I’m not perfect.” But…I find myself using those more as excuses than I do as statements of reality anymore…I find myself being the thing I HATE. I find myself being a hypocrite. Continue reading →
I have a terribly judgmental and harsh way about me. Those that know me well also know that if you start a critical conversation with me, then I will escalate the discussion. This is not something I’m proud of in the least. This is one of those things that haunts me in the mirror. I spend so much of my time thinking back over things I’ve said and the ways in which I’ve said them, wishing that I had had the will to keep my mouth shut… Continue reading →
Not too long ago…I messed up pretty bad. It was a personal thing…perhaps not something that even would bother everyone. It killed me. I went to bed, woke up in the morning, and took a shower. When I got out of the shower, toweled off, and got dressed…there I stood…I saw my face in the mirror. I looked into my own eyes…and I was angry. I hated the man I saw. He was slime. He was subhuman…but…also… He. Was. Me. Continue reading →
The ministry is a very dangerous field…but not because of persecution or hatred from non-believers. The truth is that it’s dangerous because many of us aren’t aware of why were are in the ministry…and therein is the danger…because some of us THINK that we went into it because we felt a supernatural call from God that we were hand-picked to go and preach the truth to the masses…and that is far from the truth…at least for it was for me… Continue reading →
John Newton was the songwriter who wrote the all-too-familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. After becoming a believer in Christ, he began to rid himself of the sinful habits of this world…things that were considered immoral or unholy. There was, however, one particular area in which he continued to struggle. He was a slave-trader, and he continued in this work even after his conversion. Eventually, he did leave that trade and became a supporter of the abolition of slavery. What is interesting about his story is that it is a story of progress…because even after we give our hearts over to Christ, we are still very much in need of growth…progress…and most importantly…we need grace. We need grace for our failures, and grace for our rebellion. We need it just as much for our hard hearts as we do for our broken ones. I was very much reminded of my personal need for grace recently…while on the kitchen floor in front of my brand new refrigerator…
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 →
Why do the stories of helpless animal rescue tug so much at our heart strings? Why do they appeal so much to us…and moreover…why do we have such an aversion to animal cruelty/negligence? I think the answers for these questions are pretty well obvious, but something more occurred to me today. This morning, I watched an online video of a man rescuing a dog from the bottom of a canyon. He seemed pretty sure that the dog (whom he named Riley) was put there intentionally by someone, and there was no way for Riley to get out on his own. He was nearly starved to death and extremely dehydrated. After discovering Riley on his hike/rappel, he went back out, got food, water, and a towel and went back down to give Riley the immediate assistance he desperately needed. After this he went down another time to bring him out and begin the process of his recovery. This is a wonderful story of someone helping a creature that was truly helpless and pitiful… 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 →
People can drive us nuts. They can get on our last nerve…making us want to…well you know what I mean. (And by the way…we are people too.)
My wife sometimes drives me crazy. She has this habit we used to argue about, but have just both decided to let go (which translates to “she won”). We have a shower curtain, instead of a door. When she takes a shower, she aims the head straight back, and then when I get ready to take mine, and turn the water on to let it get warm…often times the water comes out the back, drenching the floor. I know, I know…I’ve since learned to check it before I turn it on, but that used to bug me to no end. I actually threatened to get one of those heads that always aims straight down so she couldn’t do it anymore…(trust me…I know how petty this sounds…just keep reading). Continue reading →
When I became a Christian, I entered the process we call “sanctification.” For those who may not totally understand the meaning of this word, it refers to the ongoing process of our being made holy. Essentially, this is what Paul was referring to in the 8th chapter of Romans, specifically verse 29. It mentions that we are being changed into the image of His Son. In other words, we are continuously going through a process wherein God is making us like Jesus. Of course, according to Scripture, this is not our doing but God’s. He saves us, and then sets us apart for this process. Throughout this process, I see a continual struggle in my life between the good that God would have me do and the evil that I have a tendency toward (This is also mentioned by Paul. See Romans 7.).
Logically, what this means is that as life goes on we should become more and more holy. It should get easier and easier to turn from sin. It should be more and more of a reflex to shun sin and embrace holiness…right? Now…I don’t know about you…but this is not really the case for me. It has made me wonder about a lot of things…like, “am I really saved?”…or, “is God going to get sick of me?” 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.
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.
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 →
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 →
i was speaking to a gentleman one time about someone who had committed a pretty despicable crime. he told me that he hoped they put the man under the jail and filled it with concrete. i remember the anger that came to the surface when he spoke of this incident and how much it affected me. it was such a visceral response that i was almost uncomfortable…but i understood how he felt. truth be told, we all feel like that about certain things. we want to see people punished for their actions and held accountable for their deeds. some of us may even like it when we see someone pulled over by a police officer…thinking to ourselves, “they’re getting what they deserve!” but when it comes to us being pulled over or us being the ones in the wrong, we never want justice. i’ve never heard of someone flying through an intersection at 30 miles over the speed limit seeking out a police officer to dole out their punishment…because we only want justice when it is directed at someone else…we always want mercy for ourselves…