One of the proofs people cite as evidence of a merciless God is His Old Testament commands to the Israelites to utterly destroy several nations of people, including their women, children and livestock. Such commands certainly seem to fly in the face of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” and Jesus’ teachings to pray for enemies and turn the other cheek. And, not surprisingly, such passages pose the biggest problem for most Christians. How does one reconcile a God who sent His only son to redeem mankind with the God who erased entire groups of people from living memory? It seems like a task too big.
Well, after years of thinking it over, struggling with it, and just plain ignoring that section of the Bible, I finally received an answer. I shouldn’t have ignored the Old Testament, because the explanation was right there all along–and it does make sense. I realize this explanation may not prove entirely satisfying for some people, but I hope that what I share here today will bring some insight (and perhaps peace) to both Christians and skeptics who have been wrestling with this same issue. Continue reading
Lately, I’ve been hungry for the truth and presence of God. I’ve been reading my book on the history of Christianity (boy, am I learning a lot!), along with more of my Bible. I’ve also been feeling a strong urge to pray and meditate. When it comes to prayer, though, I struggle. Always have. I’ve always viewed prayer as the ultimate act of faith–to speak to someone I can’t see or touch or audibly hear. There’s also the issue of what to say. Sometimes, words (even in tongues) just seem inadequate to express what’s in my soul. So last night as I laid in bed, I stared at the ceiling and tried to will words to my lips that just wouldn’t come. I finally felt God say, “It’s ok. I’m here with you. Just meditate on me.”
I know some people picture God as some old guy dressed in robes with a flowing beard. But that’s not at all how I see Him. I picture Him as the Bible describes Him, as a spirit of life, light and love–the source of all good things. So He is bright, warm, and radiant with energy and comfort. He has no physical body, features or boundaries. He just…is.
And when I’m in His presence, nothing else matters. The fiscal cliff doesn’t matter. The culture wars don’t matter. The ineptitude on Capitol Hill doesn’t matter. Worries over my career (or lack thereof) don’t matter. My sufferings on this earth, even my death, don’t matter. Because when you grasp the true nature of God, you realize that He has seen all. Is all. Is ultimately going to resolve it all. That life on this planet is barely more than a blip on the cosmic radar. What matters is that He is love, loves us, and wants to be with us–His ultimate creation–for eternity. Continue reading
The Anointing of Jesus
Today, many Christian writers and pastors lament the lack of men in the church. Despite all the books written on the subject and all the programs designed to draw men into the church, congregations remain stubbornly and overwhelmingly female. Experts estimate that between 55 and 70 percent of churchgoers are women–a statistic that confounds the people who claim that the Bible and church are hateful toward women.
Of course, there are sociological, psychological and other reasons for why so many women are drawn to Christianity. (See “Why are Most Churchgoers Women?” for a scholarly overview of these various reasons.) However, I’d like to provide one simple explanation of why the gospel appeals so strongly to women–perhaps one that hasn’t been explored in much detail. But first we have to go back–way back–to the beginning of history. Continue reading
Image courtesy of haitian-truth.org
Several years ago (when I was about 16 or so), I wrote a blog post about why humanity suffers. Some of what I wrote back then (what I can remember, anyway) still holds true in my mind. But other statements, I think, were a little short-sighted. Now that I’m a bit older and wiser, I’m going to take another stab at it. This comes at an appropriate time, as a deadly shooting just occurred at a Connecticut elementary school.
Human suffering is a topic of serious discussion in modern times. Atheists and agnostics hold it up as proof of God’s nonexistence or evidence of divine cruelty. The logic goes, “If a just and loving God did exist, He would not allow us to suffer.” For those who aren’t aware of the Bible’s position on suffering, that can be a compelling argument. Hopefully, I can shed some light on the subject. Here are the following reasons God has given me for why people suffer: Continue reading
I absolutely love it when secular TV shows and movies address matters of faith. I may not always agree with the screenwriter’s conclusions, but touching on religion–at least in an intelligent manner–nearly always yields something worth thinking about.
So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a spiritual lesson in AMC’s The Walking Dead. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, The Walking Dead follows a band of survivors from Atlanta, Georgia, struggling to find refuge and hope in a zombie apocalypse. Yes, you read that right: The Walking Dead is a zombie show–a bloody, violent, intense, nail-biting suspenseful zombie show. And it contains one of the best faith-based illustrations I’ve seen in a long time. Continue reading