Forgetting What is Behind

Greetings, gentle readers. I hope this Lenten season finds you well.

I’m sure from the title, you have surmised what this post will address. After all, about 90% of my posts since November have had to do with my struggles with an old pain. And there seems to be no end to those insufferable (I mean, er…inspirational) Internet memes in my Facebook feed that constantly admonish me to just “forget it and let it all go.”

Well, you’d be wrong. 🙂

I was doing research for another topic the other day and stumbled across Philippians 3, where the Apostle Paul speaks about “forgetting what is behind.” And after reading what he wrote, I wondered for a second if he had utterly lost his mind and I had signed up for the wrong religion: Continue reading

On the Altar of Sacrifice

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Abraham. He was really old and afraid that he’d die without an heir. But then God gave him a promise: his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. A couple of decades later, Abraham’s son is born–the firstfruits of a great promise.

And then God tells Abraham to do something unthinkable. He is to take his son up on a mountain and sacrifice him to the Lord. We know how the story ends: Abraham goes up to the altar, the Lord stays his hand, a ram gets the knife instead (see Genesis 22).

Atheists like to use this passage as evidence of God’s cruelty, even though Abraham kept his child in the end. But I think this scripture is indicative of something else–of what it means to be, as Romans 12:1 says, a living sacrifice. Continue reading

A Worthless Religion

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Let me describe a common scenario for you. A Christian is surfing the Internet and sees where someone has posted a disparaging comment about a particular Christian belief, practice, or faith in general. The Christian feels a twinge of concern and decides this is a good opportunity to engage the writer. Of course, her purpose in responding to the comment is to show how wrong and ignorant the writer is and maybe convince a few folks to turn to Jesus. So she begins to respond, keeping her tone calm and polite at first.

But then, people don’t answer her in the way she expects. Some purposely antagonize her and hurl insults. Others challenge her beliefs with provoking and unfair questions. As the conversation continues, she becomes increasingly frustrated and angry. Soon, her responses are no longer calm and polite. The writer of the original comment is written off as a sad, amoral idiot who will see the truth only when it is too late to save himself. Continue reading

How to be a Perfect Christian

What if you could become the perfect Christian? The kind that when God looks down from heaven, He can say, “I find no fault in that one.” Would you do whatever it takes? Travel to any country? Witness to any person? Give up chocolate and TV for the rest of your life?

Well, what if I told you that you can keep your chocolate and still be a perfect Christian? What if I told you that being a perfect Christian, while perhaps challenging at times, was completely doable? That pleasing God is totally within the realm of possibility, and it won’t require you to move to India and live in a monastery? Well, here it is, straight from the mouth of Jesus: Continue reading

A Hard Teaching: Promoting our Culture of Violence

It’s easy for modern Christians to think that Jesus was popular. After all, four men chose to record his life in detail. His followers today number in the millions. Many people have chosen martyrdom rather than deny him. But the scriptures indicate that Jesus was a bit more controversial than we like to admit. Certain groups of people were constantly looking to ensnare and kill him. And some of his teachings sent his followers fleeing in the opposite direction.

Take his position on divorce, for example. Before Jesus arrived on the scene, men could divorce their wives for any reason: loss of youth, infertility, sub par cooking skills, and even boredom. As a test, the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” Jesus responded: Continue reading