Is God With Us… Really?: Part 2

When we think of God, the word, “holy” gets used a lot. It means sacred and set aside. It refers to being different from the rest and set apart. God has always been referred to as holy and the Bible makes it clear that He cannot have fellowship with the unholy. His purity cannot intermingle with impurity. It’s not that He doesn’t want to get His hands dirty. It’s that He’s a purifying force and the holiness of His presence does not allow for anything to remain close to Him that is corrupt. This is the reason that even though God initiated a relationship with mankind, He still had to be apart from us. This is why He set His tent close to the nation’s but not in their personal camps. As much as they worshiped Him and followed His representation, they still could not get close enough to touch Him or feel His literal presence… so now even though they have come to know a God that cares about them for a change… they still are separated from Him… Continue reading

Is God With Us…Really?

Throughout time, mankind has worshiped someone or something. There has never been a generation throughout human history wherein an atheistic perspective was the prevalent belief system. We’ve always believed that there is a supernatural being or group of beings behind the scenes of this existence. In virtually all of these historical systems, the belief was that not only were they supernatural and omnipotent, but they were also separate from us… different… apart from us in any real relational way. We were the ants and they were the kid holding the magnifying glass. We were the animals and they were the masters. They didn’t engage with us the way we do with one another. They didn’t understand what it is like to be human… really didn’t even care. Now as Judaism entered the scene, and the identity of Yahweh was revealed to the extent that we could understand His existence… the question pops up… is He any different than those in which we’ve believed in the past…? Continue reading

Repenting of Religion: Part 2

I didn’t mention this in the previous article, and I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, but the word “repent” has a very simple meaning. Basically, it means a change of heart. It refers to reformation of the mind and heart. When we hear the word, “repent,” I think we don’t often know its meaning but instead just associate it with some religious mindset in an almost superstitious way. It’s almost treated like a form of incantation although not used to that extreme. When I think of the word, the person that comes to my mind the most is John the Baptizer. He was a fiery preacher whose most memorable phrase was “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!” What did he mean by this… and have we considered it and applied it correctly? Continue reading

A Faithless Generation

One of my favorite passages in the Scripture has always been the story of a man who had a demon-possessed son who brought him to Jesus’ disciples to have the demon cast out (Mark 9). However, the disciples were not able to get the job done, and Jesus’ response is that they are a “faithless generation.” I’ve always thought that this statement was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek chastisement of His followers… or perhaps a way of getting onto them the way a coach would get on to his players. Maybe that’s the truth of it… but maybe there’s something more to consider… something insidious in the hearts and minds of man… Continue reading

Let’s Be Honest About Jesus

Lately, I’ve heard some more “progressive” Christians talk about how they believe in Jesus but they reject so many other things in Scripture. One of the biggest things they reject is a teaching called substitutionary atonement. This is what we are talking about when we say that God gave up His own Son to death on our behalf…Jesus dying in our place. The argument is that God didn’t “need” the sacrifice of Jesus in order to forgive humanity. If He wants to forgive us, then He can and will without condition or clause.

It’s not that I don’t see the logic of this thinking. It totally makes sense. God makes the rules and therefore can do any and all He so chooses or pleases to do. I don’t pretend to understand why He set this existence up the way in which He did. However, there’s something very troubling about all of this… the Bible…the BIBLE teaches us all we believe about Jesus. The Bible is where we get the tenets of Christianity. The Bible is where we get the basis of all of Jesus’s teachings. The tendency within progressive thinking to reject certain parts of the Bible while accepting the hero character of Jesus is nothing short of foolish and what’s more…it’s dishonest.

God wrote this narrative…which is to say that this universe is a story of which He’s the Author. I don’t have to understand His reasoning or His comprehensive purpose in writing the storyline the way in which He has. Within this narrative, He’s introduced a Savior. This Savior has said some wild things and performed the supernatural. He’s been executed and defeated the power of death itself. The idea that we can accept things we like about this Savior or “Hero,” while rejecting what Scripture says about reality in other areas is ludicrous. If we accept the narrative of Jesus, then we’ve got to accept the entire story…not just make up new ones as a supposed point of objective moral truth.

You can’t have Jesus without the entire truth within which He’s encapsulated. If you do, you don’t have Him…but a weak hybrid of human thought and divine truth akin to the ancient mythological characters. What’s more is that Jesus, Himself, said He would give His life as a payment for many. This means that He fully understood the reasoning He came into this existence in the first place. He also said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This means that He saw Himself as a divine Savior and Messiah…so the argument that He was perhaps simply a good moral teacher is also ridiculous. C.S. Lewis said that if Jesus wasn’t the Lord, then He was either a liar or a lunatic…but not a “good man.”

Jesus of Nazareth is perhaps the most controversial Person in history (at least in my opinion). When He is considered, many see Him as a rebel or a revolutionary. I understand some of that thinking. Then He’s viewed by many as simply a man that cared about how we treat each other…a man that never “judged.” He’s often branded as the gentle pacifist that would rather die than fight for His cause.

But rarely…rarely…is He considered in light of ALL the Scripture says about Him. Yes, He cared about people and didn’t condemn the flawed. But He also made a whip and beat the greedy merchants, running them out of the temple complex. Yes, He cared about social justice. However, when one of His disciples perceived a frivolous use of an important substance that could have been sold in order to help the poor, He rebuked him. He said that the poor would always be around, but He wouldn’t.

He is a gentle hand and violent storm. He had anger and He had patience. He accepted the fact that we are flawed, but didn’t allow that to be an excuse for our continued journey down a road of rebellion. He cared about everyone, but didn’t attempt to heal them all.

And what’s more is that before humanity enters into the narrative, He had already written out a story of redemption…a story in which He sacrifices and hurts more than anyone else. If someone things this is “divine child abuse,” well…they just don’t accept the Bible…nor Christianity. If they claim to have Christ without this central reality, they have nothing short of a dangerous counterfeit, masquerading as God’s design. A Jesus out of His full context is no different than either a rebel or a charismatic cult leader. If we are going to claim Jesus as ours, then let’s claim Him in honesty…otherwise, we have a fake Jesus, and small God, and a total lack of reality.

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Image taken from: https://www.biography.com/people/jesus-christ-9354382

Jesus Has Been Hijacked

I think one of the greatest misunderstandings our culture deals with is that of the personality and likeness of Jesus of Nazareth. Aside from His divinity (which I firmly believe in), His influence on the world is likely the most widespread in all of history. He wasn’t an aristocrat, a prince, or a wealthy businessman. He was a laborer and a Rabbi (and, of course, is THE Messiah). Whether we believe in His God-ship or not, we all seem to have an opinion on what He was like…what He stood for…the ways in which He lived His life. The unfortunate reality, however, is that He has been represented in ways that further our causes more than He has been represented truthfully…and this really needs to stop. Continue reading

The Walking Dead

I don’t understand the fascination that so many in our current society have with books, shows, movies, and/or other media related to zombies. I’ve joked around about this for years. For some reason, I have a strange and definitely irrational fear of zombies. I actually scoured the web one day (just for fun) looking for a word that encapsulated this definition. I found one: ambulothanatophobia (click here for definition of ridiculous word). If you’re still reading this, you’re likely wondering why I would be writing about this subject on a forum such as this… Continue reading

Does Everyone Go To Heaven?

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

Lies Christians Tell #2: “A Better Place”

Citizen_-_Everybody_Is_Going_To_Heaven

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

Lies Christians Tell #1: “Believe”

lies

Christians tell lies. We tell them to each to each other, to ourselves, and to non-Christians or “outsiders.” The lies I’m referring to are not the intentional deceit or malice that we see in the world around us. They are not “stab-you-in-the-back” lies. (Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that many Christians do offend others with these types of lies at times. Those are simply not the ones I’m writing about.) The lies I’m referring to are actually worse…because they have a larger impact on the world…and what is really alarming is the fact that we buy into them and believe them ourselves… Continue reading

Struggling with Scripture

Bible

I wrote this two years ago and never published it. I have been thinking about it today and decided I needed to go ahead and put it out there. Some may label me a heretic, a liberal, apostate, or a false teacher. What I really hope is that perhaps this connects with someone who struggles with questions about Biblical inerrancy. Please don’t misunderstand my tone or my intent. Patiently read to the end. I’m fine with disagreement…but please keep conversations civil and let’s stay FAR away from the arguments about current or contemporary translations of the Bible.

Here goes:

I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a gentleman that grew up as a Roman Catholic. He grew up accepting the general beliefs about the Bible and creation and so on. Then when he went to college, he majored in archaeology and he told me that now his beliefs from the faith he had growing up were in conflict with what he had learned in college. As we continued to talk, I mentioned that at one time I accepted the idea of evolution and that I had done research on it and found it to be very wanting as a theory…then in the middle of me stating my position, something happened… Continue reading