WHAT, IN HELL, IS GOING ON?

Remember, they will give an answer to Him Who judges all who are living or dead.  For this reason, the Good News was preached to the dead. They stood in the flesh before the One Who judges so they might live in the Spirit as God wants.                     1 Peter 4:5-6

I need to tell you two things, right out-of-the-chute, so there’s some equilibrium for both of us as we begin.

First of all, yes, this blog is about hell.  I know there is a lot of different ideas, as well as, much confusion and even anger when the topic is brought up.  I am willing to take that risk for the purpose of encouraging and giving hope to followers of Jesus and those who are contemplating following Jesus.  If you are in the latter group and the idea of hell is deal-breaker for you, read on!

Secondly, on this topic, “We are”, according to historian and theologian, Brad Jersak, “all children playing with crayons.”  I am going to color my views of what the Bible has to say about hell.  You are free to do the same.  I promise to not stick my crayons in your eyes and I hope you will, too. Continue reading “WHAT, IN HELL, IS GOING ON?”

THE SCANDAL OF THE CROSS

scan·dal n. \ˈskan-dəl\
: an occurrence in which people are shocked and upset
because of behavior that is morally or legally wrong
: something that is shocking, upsetting, or unacceptable

We killed God!

Don’t sugar-coat it or sanitize it.  Creation lynched their Creator!

I know we love to rush to the front of the class and give the glorious meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus, but that is, in my opinion, a huge mistake!

For us the cross is jewelry and decoration, and rightfully so.  But before it is that, it is a despicable and horrendous scandal, for at least two reasons. Continue reading “THE SCANDAL OF THE CROSS”

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP! OR WHY I BELIEVE THE CHRISTIAN STORY!

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.  Philippians 2:5-8

The Christian story convinces me it is true by its sheer unbelievability.

This story of God could never have been manufactured in the heart and mind of any person.  If someone was going to make up a story of God, they would never have thought of a God like this.  This kind of God never entered anyone’s imagination.

That’s why I believe it.  If there is a God, His story would certainly be unlike anything we could imagine; and it is!

What’s so unbelievable about THIS story? Continue reading “YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP! OR WHY I BELIEVE THE CHRISTIAN STORY!”

IF GOD ALREADY KNOWS, WHY PRAY?

“Therefore do not (pray) like them. For your Father knows the
things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8

Most people know the Lord’s Prayer quite well. ‘Our Father, Who art in heaven…’ and so on.  If you read in both Matthew and Luke, Jesus teaches this prayer because His disciples asked Him to teach them.

What you may not know, is before Jesus tells His disciples HOW to pray, He gives them two pieces of instruction on HOW NOT to pray. 1) Don’t pray for the ears of others; make it a private conversation between you and the Father. 2) Don’t pray “vain repetitions.” In other words don’t just pray about your own personal needs, because the Father knows what you need before you even ask.

I have experienced this last promise, the Father knows what (I) need before (I) even ask, enough times in my life to fully believe it. Continue reading “IF GOD ALREADY KNOWS, WHY PRAY?”

SHALL WE DANCE?

“If there is a God, we do not get to make him up!”
(First sentence in Brad Jersak’s book A More Christlike God)

The life and teachings of Jesus were for the very purpose of finally revealing to the world the true God and what He is all about.

I know it’s a popular ritual today for everyone to have their own opinion about God, but if you stop and think about it, how ridiculous is that notion?  Seriously, we don’t get to make Him up.  That is kind of like playing Russian Roulette.  If you guess wrong…

According to Jesus, until He arrived, no one ever knew what God was like.  Not even the best of the prophets got it right. Chew on the implications of that declaration. Continue reading “SHALL WE DANCE?”

ADVENT AS LAMENT!

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?”
Psalm 13:1

The Old Testament, as the “Story of God,” is extremely frustrating.  It closes with no ending!

The prophets foretold of a grand ending.  But it never happened!  Isaiah prophesied of the birth of the Messiah, in the middle of the 8th Century, B.C. For 750 years, they waited and the happy ending to their story as God’s chosen, went unwritten!

Imagine, if in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, the credits began to roll with Andy Dufresne still in the sewer pipes. What if we never saw him emerge into the creek? What if Warden Norton got away with his greed and deceit?  What if Red never got the money under the oak tree and never met Andy in Mexico?

It is not far-fetched to say, the Old Testament ends with Israel lost in the sewer pipes!

Continue reading “ADVENT AS LAMENT!”

YOUR PAST DOESN’T DETERMINE YOUR VALUE

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:  Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.  Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.  Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.  Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
(i.e. Bathsheba) 
Matt. 1:1-6

Matthew wrote his good news about Jesus primarily to the Jews.

The fact that he started with the genealogy of Jesus makes perfect sense. The fact he included women did not.  He was eventually going to get to the mother of Jesus, so did he just sprinkle in some others?  I don’t think so.

He had walked with Jesus for three years and saw Jesus model a very different way of engaging women than what he was brought-up to believe.  Jesus respected women and treated them with value.  He not only spoke with them, He became close friends with them.  Women had key roles in all four tellings of the life of Jesus.

Continue reading “YOUR PAST DOESN’T DETERMINE YOUR VALUE”

JESUS AND RACIAL ISSUES OR A VOICE FROM ANOTHER PLACE

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus
Galatians 3:23

Being a follower of Jesus is not being an upgraded American!

Jesus is neither a conservative nor a liberal.

Both parties have wonderful followers of Jesus in them and both have portions of their platforms that are driven by Christian principles, but neither are “Christian” by their very wish to have power and impose it on others.  That, in itself, is not Christian.  God doesn’t do coercion, never has.  (Btw, always be a little suspicious when “Christian” is used as an adjective.  Often times not so good.) Continue reading “JESUS AND RACIAL ISSUES OR A VOICE FROM ANOTHER PLACE”

PLAYING JUDGE IS KILLING US!

“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God

Why do we insist on eating from THAT tree?

There is a whole Garden full of others, you know!

Apparently all the trees in the Garden of Eden had names. We only know one other tree-name, (Life) but if two of them were named, I would venture a guess they all had names. I mean we name our trees; Apple, Chestnut, Cluster Birch, Oak, etc. Continue reading “PLAYING JUDGE IS KILLING US!”

IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

Too few of us, fully understand the power of the tongue!

The brother of Jesus laments the power of the tongue when he says, Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing…” James 3:10.  I was in my mid-forties before I learned to rein in my tongue.  Consequently, I hurt many people.

If there was ever a time we need to “bridle our tongues”, it is certainly today. Our words no longer just travel to those in our presence. The onslaught of social media rockets our words to places unintended and, unfortunately, to places intended. Continue reading “IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH”