When Your Death Shows God’s Favor

Men carrying casketI’m reading through the Bible again this year and a couple weeks ago I ran into an interesting section. My instinct is to consider God having a person die early is a bad sign…e.g. Ananias and Sapphira (see Acts 5). Basically, early death by God’s decree = bad.

To quickly catch you up for a clear exception to that rule we’ve got Jeroboam, who, after God made him king of Israel, deciding it would be good to make sure his subjects didn’t head to the Lord’s temple to worship: [Read more…]

Arguments from Silence

Bible with candle and crossA couple days ago a friend of mine tweeted this:

I know there are many faithful men who have “multi-campus” video churches,I just don’t see Scripture that allows for pastor who’s not there.

My response was:

But it also doesn’t directly speak against it. I think, however, it goes against the scriptural motif.

Personally, I would argue that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak to anything that equals a modern day full-time, paid pastor…let alone one who has multiple campuses via video hook-up. I am not saying that the Word gives no guidance…for instance it does say people who preach full-time should get paid (see 1 Corinthians 9:12-14) and it’s pretty logical that a minister should meet the qualifications of an elder (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9). However, just because the Bible does not directly define the existing positions in Christendom does not mean they are wrong (or, for that matter, that they are right). We have to be very careful not to make “arguments from silence.” [Read more…]

Polls Won’t Matter When You Stand Before God

Scientist with scientific iconsI suppose you could consider its title trolling, but I clicked through on “Science Is a Good Substitute for God.”

The article’s final line (other than a disclosure from the author that he’s been an atheist since his teens) is:

It turns out that people who rely upon the efficacy of the human intellect to solve problems have a greater chance of living satisfying lives than those who cling to the supernatural hope that an unseen sky-God will somehow save them from their troubles.

This is based on polling described in Ronald Bailey’s post…and it may be true. However, if Christians are right, God exists, and there is an eternity beyond our earthly life then…

So what? [Read more…]

Defining Sin So You Cannot Commit It

Funny looking man thinkingThis post is a collection of musings based on how the world seems to be interacting right now, especially on social media. Hopefully it won’t seem too disjointed. 🙂

#1 — If you are a Christian, everything else is secondary to our Lord and His commands.

That statement is the most important thing you’ll read in this article. Many of the problems I implicitly point out below wouldn’t happen if we put into action what we are taught by God through Scripture.

For instance… [Read more…]

An Exclamation Point Society (and Church)

Exclamation point of fireAs I was driving Augie to our monthly-ish haircut and our weekly Saturday morning breakfast together and reflecting on a Twitter friend saying a popular pastor committed blasphemy…

It hit me that, at least on social media (and it seems elsewhere), we are an “exclamation point society.”

Nobody just misspeaks, they LIE!!!

Nobody just interprets the Bible differently, they BLASPHEME!!!

Nobody just errs, they COMMIT HORRENDOUS, UNFORGIVABLE SINS!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, people do lie…blaspheme…and commit horrendous sins (although the Bible makes it clear that pretty much anything can be forgiven). However, we seem to have lost any ability to wait until we have all the data to judge, to assume the best, and to give an iota of grace to our “opponents.”

To slow and temper our accusatory tongue.

Considering our Example…Jesus Christ…why do we rush to (emphatically) condemn? Also, when it becomes clear that our initial judgment might have been a bit overboard (or perhaps completely wrong), why can’t we just admit it versus arguing until the cows come home that the nuance doesn’t matter…or change the subject to some other wrong the bad guy has unarguably committed?

It pains my soul.

Especially since it has infected the church as much as larger society…

To wrap up, some scriptures to consider… [Read more…]

“Is It Okay to Be Mean to a Bad Person”

Angry manA month or so ago my little guy, Augie, asked me, “Is it okay to be mean to a bad person?”

How would you answer that? Not just “yes” or “no”…but what would be your reasoning for your response?

I cannot remember exactly what I told him (my memory is not that good), but it was no. I wouldn’t be surprised if I connected my response to the Sermon on the Mount, which, for instance, says:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, English Standard Version).

As much as we might get satisfaction out of an evil-doer suffering, it is impossible to read Jesus’ words above and think that “it is okay to be mean to a bad person.” Jesus Himself is our perfect example. Whether “What would Jesus do?” or “What did Jesus do?” — our Lord never returned kind for kind…even when He was suffering most:

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments (Luke 23:33-34).

Jesus was the epitome of “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

No, Augie, it is not okay to be mean to a bad person.

But a kid without a mean bone in his body probably already knew that. 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays lights

The stockings are emptied; the gifts are open. What remains is more important: time with loved ones.

Merry Christmas signPerhaps the greatest gift the Lord gave us in 2015 is a new home in a new town. From the first day we visited Strasburg, Colorado, we have seen the beauty of its land and its people. That beauty is what inspired, and continues to inspire, Strasburg Rocks!

Happy Holidays lights by the Strasburg Convenience StoreWe are slowly unearthing all that Strasburg and the surrounding area has to offer; it is like unwrapping magnificent gifts year-round. One of the more recent discoveries was the annual Christmas celebration downtown. We were remiss then in not photographing the beautiful decorations along Strasburg’s main thoroughfare, but hopefully have made it up with a video of driving through the town late Christmas Eve (or early this Christmas morning, depending on your perspective):

Wooden carolers in front of the Strasburg Post OfficeNow, we stated that the greatest gift God blessed us with in 2015 was a home (not just a house) in Strasburg…but, of course, it pales in comparison to the greatest gift ever bestowed; one that was for all who will accept it. The 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” makes it apropos to remember that sacrifice from above with the same words that Linus used when Charles Shultz bucked precedent and included these verses in a Christmas special: [Read more…]

The First Tree?

TreeLast Saturday, heading to breakfast at Burger King followed by a haircut, Augie (my eight year-old) and I were chatting…and…I can’t remember exactly why…but the subject of trees came up. That led to a question of the first tree, and Augie said the first one created by God was the Tree of Life.

What do you think? Was he right?

Now, the Bible doesn’t really say what the first tree was. Instead, trees were created at the same time as other plants:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so (Genesis 1:11, English Standard Version).

Assuming this part of Genesis is chronological (which it may not be), the Tree of Life came into the picture after man was created…which was after trees already existed:

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:8-9).

However, I have to admit that Augie’s childlike view that the first tree was the Tree of Life appeals to me…and I think it makes sense. This is what was said by Paul about the God who created that tree…well, all trees:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3).

Our Lord wants all people to be saved. Even after our original parents (and we) sinned, He wants us to live eternally.  Personally, I think God always intended us to do so, and as such it would make sense that He’d have the Tree of Life ready from day one to help with that. It was only our rebellion in the Garden that prevented ready access to it.

Was the Tree of Life the first tree created? Probably not…but it wouldn’t surprise me given how much God has shown His heart for us from day one. Now, that’s a God I would like to live forever with!

Interpreting Away the Great Comission

Intricate cross blocked by hand with German flag colorsI read a truly disturbing article last night:

“Why German Protestants Will Stop Converting Muslims”

Basically, a draft document for the Protestant Church in Germany nixes the idea of evangelizing Muslims:

The Church does not only categorically rejects the conversion of reform-minded Muslims but outright dismisses all missionary work directed at Muslims.

There is so much wrong in the article you should read the whole thing yourself, but here is the explantion of why the Great Comission (Matthew 28:16-20) doesn’t apply the same way it did the last two millenia: [Read more…]

Okay, I Stipulate God Is an Alien

To my atheist readers and friends, the article below will come off a bit snarky, but I actually respect your skepticism and penned it the way I have to prompt dialogue, not insult your laudable aversion to blind faith.

Alien with haloIt seems to me that atheists (and others) can hold I am someone who has blind faith in fairy tales since I believe in God, but (at the same time) they can provide far-fetched explanations for the inexplicable and it’s okay. Can’t explain why this universe is so perfectly designed for life? Posit a zillion universes out there with ours just happening to be one with conducive conditions. Can’t explain where the Big Bang came from? Just, ironically, take all our physical laws out of the picture as Steven Hawking did:

At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity. At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down. This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang.

You can pretty much propose anything and still look down on people who believe in the supernatural…

Because science.

Now a rough segue…but I promise it’ll all be connected before we are done. 🙂 [Read more…]

Human Fickleness

The fickleness of humans in two verses (Matt 21:9 & 27:22, English Standard Version)…

Scripture snapshot 
And yet…there is nothing He is unwilling to forgive a repentant heart…

“Jesus loves me (but not you), this I know…” (Addendum)

Cross out of blocks spelling God LoveAlthough I basically touched on this point a long time ago in “Jesus loves me (but not you), this I know…” (Part 1), as I was reading in Matthew, I was reminded that those who say that God only loves the saved have a hard time with this part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:43-45, English Standard Version).

We are to love our enemies, and our Lord analogizes this to how He sends rain on the just and the unjust. The equivalency is clear…we are to love everyone just as God loves everyone.

That is a far cry from universalism (all are saved)…but even the lost are loved by the Creator.

P.S. Please also check out “Jesus loves me (but not you), this I know…” (Part 2).

How Do You Treat Your Friends?

Three friends standing togetherI have a lot of concern about Christians who, in my opinion, treat others in an un-Christlike manner when calling for accountability or discernment. If they get taken to task on social media, I am less than empathetic. If anything, I enjoy them being zapped.

Then…

I developed friendships with a few of them. When those few get attacked I now want to step up and defend them (and have). What does that say about me?

That I still have a lot of opportunity for growth. Lord, please have me care as much about my opponents as I do my friends.

Was Joseph (Jesus’ Stepfather) a Good Jew?

Joseph pulling a donkey with Mary on itReading in Matthew today, I ran into this again:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-19, English Standard Version).

As I understand it (and confirmed by the ESV Study Bible), if Mary was unfaithful during betrothal, it was considered adultery.

Which leads to this:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).

When modern liberal churches water-down (or downright negate) the clear commandment and teaching of Scripture, we traditionalists condemn it (and rightly so).

How about Joseph? Was he watering-down the clear commandment of Scripture because of his love of Mary and/or wimpishness, and/or…?

If not, why not? [Read more…]

Au Contraire Mr. Edwards

Hand pointing at youDepending on your picture of the Most High, this may sum up your perception of Him:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31, English Standard Version).

Perhaps the most famous sermon based on this sentiment is Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For instance:

We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

No question, if you reject our Lord, your final fate isn’t going to be positive (when He gives you the separation from Him you want). But, let’s look at a biblical incident where, numbering Israel, David made God quite angry:

And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.'” So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” (2 Samuel 24:11-13)

Considering the options for punishment, would you agree God was quite cranky?

Yet, in the next verse…

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14).

David may not have been as smart as his son Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:29-34), but he was pretty wise and “a man after [God’s] heart” (see Acts 13:22). He knew, given the choice of being put in man’s hands or God’s hands…the best choice…hands down (pun intended)…is the later.

Let not our theology say otherwise…

P.S. I have purposely left a lot of reasonable counter-arguments unanswered. Just an article to spur thoughts and discussion…