Category Archives: doctrine

Four Reasons

Sometimes I wonder why things are the way they are. I question why people do the things they do in the ways they do them. This questioning has led me to a great understanding of many things in my life as I don’t take things merely at face value. But what about Christianity?

What makes Christianity so great? Here are four things I see as invaluable about Christianity.

1. Eternal Life

This week a good friend of mine died. It was hard to watch him go, and now that he is gone, I miss him. Yet, to watch him while he lived, and to listen to him, was inspiring. He couldn’t wait to be with the Lord in heaven – face-to-face with Jesus. He couldn’t wait to see the Garden of Eden. He couldn’t wait to be healed of his cancer.

Eternal life is a central belief of Christianity. We believe that when we are saved, we are granted eternal life. This life allows us to have direct access to the Creator of the universe who above all things and in all things. We believe that through Jesus there is no longer separation between God and man necessitating a human mediator like a priest, for we are all priests, through Jesus, who have direct access to God.

This access begins when we are saved. At that time, the Holy Spirit is given to us (Acts 2:38) – God’s Spirit living inside us – and that Spirit is the deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14). This promise of heaven gives us hope beyond this life. It is a hope for something more than simply becoming dust again to a purposeless end.

This hope allows for a perspective shift among Christians. This world is not all there is, so everything is temporary.

2. Family

When you receive salvation, you are granted entry into not only the presence of God but also his family. He created all of us, but we chose to live our own way like runaway children. Through Jesus, he invites us back into the family along with other believers. What this means for us each day is this: we don’t have to live this life alone. When we try to live life alone, it is very easy for temptations to overcome us, and we walk away from God again and again. But when we are doing life together with other people who are trying to live the ways of Jesus in their everyday life, it becomes easier to stay on the narrow path ourselves. Some people claim they don’t need the church to be a Christian. This is totally in contrast to what the Bible says (Hebrews 10:25). The greatest commands are these: Love God, and Love Others (all others – even your enemies). In fact, in 1 John 4, John says that we love God BY loving others. The Bible also says we are to do good (read: love) to all people, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters (Galatians 6:10). I know that some churches are filled with Jerks. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. At times everyone can be mean – even you and me. The church is full of broken sinners in need of the grace of God through Jesus. Hurt people hurt people. Latch onto the good people. Do life with them. Let God sort out the bad, but don’t cut yourself off from the family because of one or two. And in today’s culture, if you are in a church that isn’t loving, you can probably find one that is loving just down the road, or maybe across town.

3. Purpose and Direction

Of the things I have mentioned so far, this may be the one not understood the most by well-meaning Christians. When you give your life to Christ, you are pledging devotion to be His follower, His disciple. That means you are pledging to live according to His teachings. You don’t have to live life haphazardly. Through the teaching of Jesus, there is a direction for your life – a code by which you should live. This code gives a standard. It allows us to evaluate our lives to see whether we are doing good or bad. In atheism, there is no standard of good or bad – those ideas are subjective to the person. In Christianity there is a standard (2 Timothy 3:16).But this direction isn’t just a set of rules to govern our lives. It is meant to help us live out our purpose as well. What is that purpose?We are called to help the kingdom grow through evangelism (Matthew 28:12-20). Every. Single. Christian. Is. An. Evangelist. Or at least they should be. Here is where Christianity is falling by the wayside. The majority of Christians don’t live out their purpose. We are supposed to love other people, and through that love, we show them the way TO Jesus and the way OF Jesus. When you don’t understand your direction and purpose, it is easy to become the kind of Christian people run away from rather than toward.

4. It’s free

So many religions around the world expect you to do certain things to achieve relationship with their deity of choice. Christianity is not this way. The purpose and direction of Christianity are there to help you live a better life and enjoy life more. They are meant to help this world become a better place. They are not meant to help you achieve some sort of status before God.

We are all sinners. We have all walked away from God and His ways. We have all broken his commands to love. So what can we do to undo what we’ve done?

Nothing.

We can’t undo wrong by doing right. The merit system doesn’t work that way. In order to undo our wrong, there has to be a substitution for our life. This is where Jesus comes into play. He lived perfectly, and at his death and resurrection, his perfect life was exchanged for broken, sinful one if we would receive it.

We can’t live good enough to deserve to be in the presence of God, but through Jesus, we are granted entrance into God’s Kingdom and into his family in spite of our wrongs (Romans 5:6-8).

Christianity is the only religion where salvation is given freely. All these blessings listed above are free. You don’t have to earn them (Galatians 5:1).

The way to connect with the blessings of God is to be connected to the Cross of Jesus (Romans 6:1-4). That’s it. We ask God to cleanse our consciences (1 Peter 3:21), and we trust that He has saved us. We cannot save ourselves.

I’m glad to be a Christian. There’s so much hope here. I hope you will consider joining the family too.

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Dinosaurs and Epilepsy

When I was a child, the world looked so much differently than it does now that I am older. My education and experience grant me a perspective that a child cannot fathom. As a child, this perspective of the unknown, which was way bigger than the known, created a dependence on our parents, who knew much more about the world than we did.

When we became teenagers, we began to stretch our wings and try things with an attitude of invincibility, figuring that we knew enough of the world to get by. This attitude of independence led many of us into trouble and poor decisions that we still deal with the consequences of to this day. Once we survived through a few years of this ignorant independence, we began to realize that our parents knew so much more than we did, and we turned back to them for advice and perspective. This was a healthy turn in many of our lives.

When we read the Bible, we get a glimpse into a culture that is far removed from our own. So much of what we understand due to the maturing of the world and cultures was not know when the Bible was experienced and then explained in writing. The Bible speaks of dragons and monsters, but they didn’t have the word, dinosaur, to describe these large beasts, nor did they have the scientific understanding of their natures that we do. The word, dinosaur, wasn’t coined until the mid-1800s.

They also didn’t know how to explain certain ailments. When a person fell to the ground in convulsions beyond their control, they said the person had a demon or an unclean spirit. Jesus healed a few such issues when he walked around Palestine. However, today we know this ailment as epilepsy. Our scientific understanding allows us a perspective that is greater than that of the ancient near-east.

[I am not denying the supernatural events that happened in scriptures. Jesus raised the dead. Samuel was summoned from beyond the grave. The epileptic was completely cured without medicine, so were the lame and the blind. Yet, there is still an understanding today that differs from that of the Bible-times.]

It is amazing to consider how humanity has grown in their understanding of the world around them and how it works. Science is a blessing, and through science we have made tremendous advancements in technology, medicine, and psychology. Some of the science we understand today, like water cycles, underwater springs in the ocean, and the solar system, were hinted about in the Bible long before they were discovered. Science and the Bible are meant to accompany one another – not oppose one another.

There is one thing that science has caused, however, that is not healthy. When the world was immature, like a child, the people looked to God (or other deities) for help with the unexplainable. There was a general faith among people that brought peace and help in time of need. There was a trust that God would help in the ways needed. And He did.

Through science, much of the world has come to the conclusion that the unexplained is explainable, therefore we do not need God. In our daily lives we rely on ourselves and our understanding to make it through the day without much thought of our relationship with the Creator of the universe. Even Christians, who pledge their devotion to God through Jesus, live daily more like atheists than Christians as they exercise their independence from the Creator.

This is not to say we should go back to the ignorance of the dark ages and before. We live in a grand age of understanding.

Yet, we must not be so arrogant in our education that we assume independence from the One whose foolishness is wiser than our wisdom.

In your daily life, how often do you pray? How much do you know of God through the Bible? How many times per day (or year) do you make a decision based on faith rather than an educated guess? How much trust do you put in the promises in the Bible and the personality of Jehovah?

Our knowledge of the world has puffed up humanity to the place of humanistic atheism. In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar had just such an attitude, and he had to be humbled by God. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) May we enjoy and grow through science, but may we not be so puffed up by our knowledge of science and the workings of this world that we forget there is so much more we don’t understand that can only be explained and controlled by God. And may we not forget that God wants to work in our lives, for our good, everyday (Romans 8:28; Hebrews 13:5-6) – He’s that personal.


Alternative Facts


We are coming to the end of an era in our generations called the “postmodern age”. This is a cultural response to the modern era which sought to solve the world’s problems through science and reasoning. During the modern era, great advancements were made in technology and medicine that will forever change the world, but the postmoderns saw that the philosophy of the physical sciences could not entirely solve problems like war, poverty, and even interpersonal relationships.

So the mindset shifted in a bit of a reaction to the ideals of the modern era to what we now call the postmodern era. In this reaction, truth became questionable and relative. No longer were there any absolutes. Now, all truth is relative and dependent on each individual’s perspective which is shaped by their cultural influences.

Does this frustrate you? To an extent it should.

Because of the shift of postmodern thinking we now have phrases like the one commonly being used by new sources all over: alternative facts.

Instead of calling something a half-truth or a whole lie, because of political correctness we now refer to misleading someone by using only the convenient facts as using “alternative facts”. Your truth is valid, and so is mine, and don’t you dare judge my truth with yours.

This is maddening in the political realm. It is exhausting in the spectrum of news sources available today. It is exactly what we teach our children not to do.

Maybe you were taught as I was: a half-truth is a whole lie.

Contrary to current thinking, there is truth that is not relative. Jesus is truth. The gospel is truth.  The consequences of sin is truth. The love of God is truth.

Even in society there still exists truth that is not relative. One needs merely to look for it.

In order to find truth in any circumstance, you must consider all sides of a situation – you must consider the context.

What we don’t want to admit is that the church has been functioning with partial truths for nearly the entirety of its existence. Even the concept of denominationalism is founded on the idea that you can read the bible through one lense and me another, and we can come to differing conclusions on the same topic.   When I focus on one set of scriptures concerning a topic, and you focus on another set concerning the same topic, we may disagree.

Our goal, then, as followers of Jesus, should not be to read the bible with a preconceived lense, rather we should read the entirety of scripture in context in order to derive our conclusions from the text instead of inserting them into it. When we insert our ideas and refuse to look at passages that don’t jive with our desired conclusion, we invite division and discord into the church.

I pray that the church doesn’t imitate our current culture in claiming “alternative facts”. I pray we are humble enough to accept correction where we have been ignorant. I pray that the church can lead the way in standing for truth as it is written in the Word of God. I pray that our desire for contextual understanding brings grace and unity rather an excuse to further divide.

What’s the upcoming generation going to be called? I don’t know – maybe the post-postmodern era. In any case, I pray it is a returning to truth that is NOT relative while maintaining spiritual fervor.


Who’s Your Daddy?

Several years ago I was introduced to a book that would shape the way I think about grace and love and God. It is one of the top four books I’ve ever read, and ever so often I revisit the book to find encouragement. This March, a movie will be released that is based on this book, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. 
What’s the book?  The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. 

Even though this is one of my favorite books, it is causing quite a stir in the Christian community especially because of how he book portrays God.  This book, when you first meet God, portrays him as an overweight black woman named, Papa. 

How does that affect you? 

So much of our culture emphasizes the masculine. We talk about God as Father and King and rightly so. We refer to God as “him” as the bible does. But could God portray himself as a woman?

In order for us to fully understand the concept of God, we must remember that God created man and woman. There is no way on earth a man could comprehend a woman enough to create one. They’re just too enigmatic to us guys. The Creator, by necessity of the concept, must transcend the limitations of his creation. God is not a man, nor is he limited to our concepts of manhood.

God is not physical at all. The scripture says that God is Spirit (John 4:24). In the Hebrew, the word for spirit is “Ruah”, a feminine word. In fact, in this book/movie, the Holy Spirit will show itself as a woman. 

In order for women to be made “in the image of God”, they must display the attributes of God. The things that you think of as feminine personality characteristics are throughout scripture as characteristics of God – not merely manly characteristics. Characteristics like love, nurture, and compassion are traditionally associated with women in our earthly culture. 

So, I don’t have a problem with this book allowing God to portray himself as a woman if the situation calls for that manifestation (spoiler: later in the story, he switches back to the elderly father-look).

What’s the point? God, Jehovah, is God because he is grander than our ability to comprehend. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). His foolishness (if that even makes sense) is wiser than man’s greatest wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25). He existed before there were the constraints of our universe, including time. He is an other-dimensional being that we cannot fully comprehend. If we could, he would cease to be God. 

Every time humans try to put limits on God – put Him in a box – He breaks the box. There are no limits to His grace and love, though many have tried to say there is. He doesn’t sleep or get tired (that gives different perspective on the need for the seventh day – rest – in Genesis 2). He is the God of the universe, above the universe, who holds the whole world in His hands. 

That’s my Heavenly Father. That’s my Papa. And just like a kid comparing his dad to others’, I can’t accept any lesser God to take his place. 

So, who’s your daddy? The limitless God, or some idol concocted by tradition. Mine is Jehovah. 


By This Gospel…


“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

Image there was a supreme, other-dimensional being that decided to create some humanoids. He would have a plan for them to love each other and even love him. If they got out of line, there would be strict consequences, for they were the created beings without the right to dictate their own way. 

Imagine that the beings that were created were considered awesome by this supreme being, and he began to love them as if they were his own offspring. However, the created ones began to rebel and do their own thing. They began to treat one another with disdain and hatred rather than love. They began to destroy the habitat in which they were placed. They began to destroy one another. 

The supreme being had set the rules in place from the beginning of this creation, and now he had to justly punish these beings, but he loved them. 

He tried to encourage them to turn back to his ways by showering them with blessings even allowing them to reap the consequences of their behavior. Try as they might, however, the created ones just couldn’t break this selfish habit that had become ingrained into their culture to the very roots. 

The supreme being could destroy them. He created them, after all. But he loved them. He wanted to see them succeed and find the blessing of life with him. He wanted them to have the opportunity to graduate from this lesser world of imperfection and be able to become perfect in his realm. 

But he couldn’t understand why they turned away. They didn’t understand how much he loved them. 

So one day he created himself into their world as a humble baby. Maybe if he grew up as one of them he could understand them more and see how to show them the way to himself. Maybe if he was tempted as they are he would be able to have compassion for them, and they would be able to see his compassion and love. 

There still lingered the need for consequence for their decision to turn their backs on him and overthrow his reign over their lives. 

He loved them so much that he decided to take their punishment for them. He inflicted on himself the death that they deserved. He granted them freedom from the consequences of their selfishness so that they would turn to him and live once again in a love-relationship with their creator. He proved his majesty and promise-keeping ability by raising himself from the dead with witnesses. 

This freedom from consequences would be granted to all people for all time with one catch. They would need to want it. They would need to want a relationship with the creator defined by love and freedom. 

Some wanted it and some didn’t. Even today, some respond to the call, and some don’t. But for those who realize the goodness of this creator, the salvation offered isn’t just good news. It’s great news!

When the angel announced the birth of the messiah, this is the story to which he referred when he proclaimed the “good news of great joy…for all people”. Good news. Gospel. 

“By this gospel you are saved…” (I Corinthians 15:2)


Communion…What Do I Do Now?

The Lord’s Supper is such a solemn time during the worship service each Sunday. The emblems are central to the life of every believer. Jesus said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us and no part with him (John 6). This is probably the most important segment of our Sunday morning assembly. 

During this ritual, however, there is quite a bit of waiting. We wait and listen while the person says a few words to remind us why we participate. We wait for the tray to get to us each time it is passed around. We wait for everyone else to partake after us. So what should we be doing during this time?

I’ve heard people lead into the time of communion with the thought that we are to be examining ourselves. It is thought that we need to be introspective, considering the ways in which we are not right with God – our sinfulness. This comes from 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 which says,

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Doesn’t this sound like we are to sit there during those waiting times and rake ourselves over the coals of guilt as we remind ourselves of the myriad of ways we fall short of being like Jesus? It does if we take this verse out of context. 

What was going on in Corinth that caused Paul to write this letter? The church there was full of immorality and division. In fact, the division in the church is what Paul begins the letter with addressing. In chapter 11, he once again addresses their division as an introduction to the verses we so often read to prepare for taking the Lord’s Supper. 

1 Corinthians 11:18-19
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

Did you catch that? It is sarcasm. Paul thinks division within the church is a severe problem. In this division, the communion they partake of is not the Lord’s Supper. You cannot partake of this meal in division without judgment from God. 

In verse 29, he warns against eating and drinking without discerning the body. What does this mean? He is referring to the body of Christ – the church. Then, in verses 33-34 he encourages them to wait for one another. He’s trying to get them to practice unity. 

So, what are we to examine within ourselves while we wait? We are to see if we have some division within us concerning our brothers and sisters in the church. Do you have something against a brother? Does a sister have something against you? These divisions cause a church to be weak and sick (1 Corinthians 11:30). 

Maybe we should go back to practicing what Jesus commanded in the sermon on the mount. 

Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

What if the church was once again concerned with the ministry of reconciliation that we are called to administer (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)?

Next time you’re sitting and waiting during communion, pray for yourself and your relationships with your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Resolve to do your part to make reconciliation. Don’t wait for them to act – you be the mature follower of Jesus and make the first move. Then we will watch the church grow in strength and health as the church becomes even more unified in Jesus as one body. This will be an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. 


Blind Faith Is Not Required

I was having a conversation one time with a person who was trying out “this Jesus thing” for the first time. She was going on about how hard it is to believe in God and the church and Jesus and such.  At the end of her rant, she looked at me and said with undertones of disgust, “I know. I’m just supposed to have blind faith. At least that’s what other preachers have told me.”

It broke my heart. Blind faith isn’t expected or required. It is not even a biblical concept. 

I don’t have faith in Jesus just because some preacher said I should. I don’t believe in the stories in the bible just because I was raised with these stories.

Sometimes, when preachers teach a certain concept, they come across as if to say that to believe any differently would be wrong and stupid. If a person teaches the scripture without concern for what science has proven, then they are inconsistent with the reality of creation. If there is no historical fact or evidence as a foundation for my faith, then what hope is in that faith? What makes that faith any different than believing in Transformers or Voltron?

The church is struggling to gain ground with people in the scientific community because of the inconsistencies with her teachings and the call to “blind faith”. 

But this doesn’t have to be so. 

When you read the creation account in Genesis 1-3, do you read a literal seven days or an undetermined period of time? Does it matter? The creation account in Genesis isn’t a scientific treatise on how God created the earth. In fact, it is written as poetry. It is meant to point us to the Creator and show His majesty. Could that have happened over 4 billion years ago? Sure! How about 10,000 years ago? Maybe, but that would mean God peppered the ground with lots of science that doesn’t jive with the historical timeline. That seems a bit out of character for God. 

In either case a person can still believe in the one, true, supreme God, Creator of the universe!

What about Jesus? 

Belief in Jesus is more on the historical basis. History shows He existed. The Jews and Muslims alike have laws and writings about Him. There is no question as to the historical truth of Jesus. There is not even a question as to whether or not He was crucified. 

The question is whether or not He was raised from the dead. 

Historically speaking, there were eyewitnesses of His resurrection that testified to its truth. The writings about the resurrection were circulated during the time people were still living who could have refuted the claim if it were false. 

As for the bible itself, great historians like H. G. Wells and Will Durant (who were both atheists) testify to the historical reliability of the biblical account.  

In fact, Christianity is the only religion that it would be possible to prove false. It is the only one couched in history with historically verifiable events to back up its claims. You can’t prove the concepts of Buddhism or the promises of Mohammed or even the historical claims of the Book of Mormon looking at history. 

My faith is not based on some emotional event in my life. I have had those, but my faith comes from the knowledge I have regarding science and history.  My faith comes from the experiences I’ve had and seen in others. 

I don’t have blind faith, and neither should you. God gave you a brain to use. Don’t check it at the door in the name of religion or to follow some charasmatic preacher. Even the scripture says “test everything”. 

These are only a few of the concepts that solidify my faith. If you want to know more about building a foundation of knowledge that leads to faith, feel free to contact me. I love you, and I hope you grow in your understanding of the world around you, and I hope that understanding leads you to unshakable faith. 


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