“Rob Bell: I Believe in Hell”



In a recent interview, Rob Bell comes clean about Hell.

Excerpt:
(From The Christian Post)

“In a videotaped interview with Sally Quinn of The Washington Post, which was posted online this week, Bell responded to a question posed through Twitter and asked by Quinn: If there is no hell, then why did Jesus die for our sins?

‘I believe in hell now, I believe in hell when you die,’ stated Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. ‘I believe God gives people the right to say no, to resist, to refuse, to reject, to cling to their sins, to cling to their version of their story.’ ”

Continue Reading at The Christian Post


Advertisements

How To Righteously Rebuke, Part One

A nine minute podcast about the difficulties, intentions, and methodology of the rebuke.

A difficult biblical mandate that no one likes to do, but is necessary. How to righteously rebuke: the motives, approach, goal, and fall-out.



– How To Righteously Rebuke, Part Two

– How To Righteously Rebuke, Part Three


“Holy Indifference: Learning to Say ‘I Don’t Care’ ”




An awesome article from Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel.

He discusses where to draw the line on critical matters that require attention and lesser matters that can be set aside. I often find this a near impossible task.


Excerpt:
(The following from his blog)


1) I don’t care about criticism from people I don’t know.
Criticism is helpful and good and I have benefited greatly from it, but hardly ever from a stranger. People close to me give helpful criticism. People I know who differ from me, but who I am in relationship with help me see what those too close might miss. But I just don’t care about grenades thrown by folks I’ve never met and who am not in community with. I could care; I could get wrapped up in responding to every attempt to detonate, but I just can’t waste my caring on that, there are many other more important things to care about.

2) I don’t care about people who appear to be doing it wrong. I don’t agree with everything I see other Christian leaders doing. I think some of it is even hurtful to the cause of Christ. If I know them, I may discuss it with them when I see them, but in view of the fact that I don’t accept grenades from outsiders, I think it would be hypocritical to spend time launching them. “The Lord knows those that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19), and “Who are you to judge the servant of another? It is before his own master that He stands or falls, and he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4; see also 1 Corinthians 3).

Continue Reading at Vertical Church Blog


“Growing Intolerance for Christianity in U.S.”



From The Christian Post, an unsurprising look at hostility against Christianity in the West. Still hardly comparable to persecution in the larger world.

Excerpt:

“A few examples of recent intolerance for Christianity:

• The Supreme court determining to exclude anyone who prays in Jesus name from a rotation of officials who open city business meetings

• The removal of US military Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, over the issue of praying in Jesus Name

• UCLA’s prohibiting a graduating student from thanking her ‘Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ in her graduation speech”

Continue Reading


News that Christians should read: Week of March 21



The weird, outrageous, funny, and inspiring.





Doctor saves his wife’s life … twice
“Still, Tim knew time was of the essence, so he decided to break the rules — at least until the other crew could get there. Crying, he held his wife’s hand, reassuring her, ‘Hold on babe. You’re gonna be OK.’ At the same time, he was directing the medical staff to give her medications that would save her life, and protect her brain.”


Showering home invader calls 911 on owner
“Accompanied by his two German shepherds, the homeowner asked what the man was doing and the intruder locked the bathroom door.
That was when the the man called the police. At the same time, the homeowner also dialed 911 with his account of what was happening.”


Moms shield kids from hail of bullets
“Chanelle Johnson fell on top of her three children to act as a human shield. ‘You got to protect your babies, ‘ said Johnson. ‘I wasn’t thinking about it. I just did what I had to do.'”


Photos show GIs posing with dead Afghans
“One of the published photographs shows a key figure in the investigation, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, grinning as he lifts the head of a corpse by the hair. Der Spiegel identified the body as that of Gul Mudin, whom Morlock was charged with killing on Jan. 15, 2010, in Kandahar Province.”


Is her T-shirt holy or potty-mouthed?
“When the school called Michelle’s parents, Christina Ramirez, Michelle’s mother stood squarely behind her daughter.

‘I got on the phone with Michelle, I told Michelle, ‘if you feel convicted to wear the shirt, you go ahead and put it back on,’ says Christina.”


Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says
“Dr Wiener continued: ‘In a large number of modern secular democracies, there’s been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%.'”


“Former Dawkins Atheist Richard Morgan Continues to Praise God”


Dawkins pictured left in a conference at Howard University.



From The Christian Post. I have a very similar testimony.

Excerpt:

“More than the religious debate, it was his interest in evolution that led him to follow Richard Dawkins. Upon finding the author’s actual website, Morgan was excited to communicate with scientists and philosophers who could offer more insight into evolution.

But rather than discussing the nature of evolution in the ‘oasis of clear thinking, Morgan was horrified to discover in his first forum that more than half of the people devoted their time saying rude things about believers using extremely foul language.

‘I don’t know if you’ve seen ‘The Social Network’ but there’s one point where a girl says to the main character ‘Just stay in your dark room and make snide remarks because that’s what the angry do these days.’’

After witnessing the discussions firsthand, the newly minted evolutionist agreed that the Internet was more a place where people could hide behind their anonymity and say rude things as a kind of therapy. Still searching for answers however, Morgan continued to be a part of the community, drawn particularly to a discussion on David Robertson’s open letter replying to Dawkins’ first chapter of The God Delusion.”

Continue Reading

Anaiah Tucker: Courage

“They were halfway across the road, holding hands as they always did on their way to meet the school bus, when 9-year-old Anaiah Tucker and her 5-year-old sister, Camry, saw the truck bearing down on them. There wasn’t time for both of them to escape. And so, in an act of sisterly love and selfless courage, Anaiah pushed her little sister to safety and took the full impact herself.

She had just one thought, she said Wednesday; her little sister ‘was too young to be hit like this, and if she got hit she wouldn’t hardly be alive. She would be probably gone forever.’

Yet that brave big sister, who lost a leg and nearly her life that day, does not believe that she is a hero. ‘I feel like one, but I really didn’t deserve to be one,’ Anaiah told Ann Curry on TODAY. ‘I love her so much.'”

Continue Reading

Hideaki Akaiwa: A Real Superhero

“This is Hideaki Akaiwa. When the Tsunami hit his home town of Ishinomaki, Hideaki was at work. Realising his wife was trapped in their home, he ignored the advice of professionals, who told him to wait for the army to arrive to provide search and rescue.

Instead he found some scuba gear, jumped in the raging torrent – dodging cars, houses and other debris being dragged around by the powerful current, any of which could have killed him instantly – and navigated the now submerged streets in pitch dark, freezing water until he found his house. Swimming inside, he discovered his wife alive on the upper level with only a small amount of breathing room, and sharing his respirator, pulled her out to safety.

If he had waited for the army, his wife of 20 years would be dead.”

He has since rescued his mother and continues to patrol the streets, saving lives.


Book Review: King’s Cross


King’s Cross
By Timothy Keller

Summary:
Taking on the Gospel of Mark, Dr. Keller presents a history of the world filtered through the life story of Jesus Christ. By focusing on the fastest of the gospel accounts, we’re taken on a cosmic, sprawling journey of Jesus’ every word and miracle that shines a light on the narrative of humanity. It’s not an easy task but Dr. Keller’s down-to-earth tone is as comfortable as a warm fireplace. Jesus is unveiled from humble servant to mighty king, and our only appropriate response left is to bow.

Strengths:
Dr. Timothy Keller is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. His easygoing yet urgent style will keep you in, his intellect will provoke real thinking, his illustrations are nearly perfect in execution. There are times when I felt he was going a predictable route ready to drop a platitude, but even old truths are presented in fresh ways.

It has been almost notoriously difficult to connect the supernatural truth of Jesus’ atonement to our everyday life, but Dr. Keller does this in a masterful, personal way. He cuts straight to the core: that true sacrificial love always requires the expenditure of life, and Jesus’ death is the infinite payment both to cover our debt and to satisfy our deepest needs as the final treasure.

Continue reading “Book Review: King’s Cross”

“Is Rob Bell a Universalist?”


An interview in Relevant Magazine with Rob Bell by Josh Lujan Loveless.

As I’ve maintained in my podcast, I still believe Rob Bell is not a universalist. But I do believe he’s great at marketing.


Excerpt:

Based on your understanding of universalism, do you consider yourself a universalist?

No, I don’t.

And you see the difference being what?

My observation would be that people mean lots of different things with that word. I think for some people, apparently the word means nothing matters. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it doesn’t matter how you live—nothing matters. And I simply don’t believe that. Certain paths are destructive. Certain paths are wrong. Certain paths cause all kinds of toxic harm to other people and it’s not loving your neighbor. So if by “universalism,” people mean it doesn’t matter—it doesn’t matter what you believe, it doesn’t matter what you do—that’s just complete rubbish. So, no.

Secondly, sometimes when people say the word “universalism,” I think they mean that at some point God just swoops everybody up into heaven. Like, “Come on, everybody—everybody is in.” And the problem with that is, I believe love wins, and the very nature of love is freedom. So if at any point God co-opts your ability to choose, we no longer are dealing with a loving God. And if there are people who are in heaven who don’t want to be there, then it’s not heaven. Like God is saying, “It’s a party—and you’re going to like it!”

The question that I do think is terribly interesting, and which as a Christian we must wrestle with, it is written in a letter to Timothy, “God wants everybody to be saved.” Now this is fascinating. God wants everybody to be saved, so perhaps the important question is, is God a universalist? And I do think as a Christian it is our duty to long for the things that God longs for, and to want the things that God wants.

Continue Reading


My take on the issue from the podcast.


Hey pastor: Why should I do what you preach?

Many times I see these sort of statements on Christian blogs:

“How can we hope to change the world if we do not change ourselves?”

“If you’re not really living it, you’re just a faker.”

“If the church was really Christian, you’d be doing it right.”

“Not loving, then you’re not a Christian.”

“If you were really a Christian, you’d stop spitting on God’s forgiveness.”

“Are you any different than the pagan wicked godless atheist down the street?”

Such similar statements are designed to be in-your-face, edgy, surgical truth bombs that cut straight to the matter. But the harder truth is that we don’t have to do a thing to be real Christians. No Christian has to do anything the preacher says to be real with God. And if you’ve been to church long enough, that makes you nervous.

Preachers will proclaim, “It must be real from the heart. Are you sincerely living out what you believe?” For a while that works. It is so uncomfortable that we think this is how it ought to be; real conviction ought to be incisive, right? But it’s impossible to force a genuine movement of the soul by heaping a guilt trip. Guilt only fuels the moment, not a life. Only God’s Spirit convicts, not our persuasion. To obey God is born of His grace, not guilt.

Continue reading “Hey pastor: Why should I do what you preach?”

Rob Bell, Tsunamis, and The Apocalypse



Podcast updated!

On Rob Bell’s controversy for Love Wins, if tsunamis send people to hell, and how soon the Apocalypse is coming.

Comments, disagreements, and questions are welcome.


“Rob Bell Denies Being a Universalist”


An article from The Christian Post with Rob Bell’s response to his new book, Love Wins.

His answer is more confusing if anything.

Excerpt:

“Just a day before the release of his controversial book on hell, Michigan pastor Rob Bell denied that he was a universalist.

Answering the straightforward question ‘are you a universalist?’ posed by Newsweek’s Lisa Miller Monday night, Bell said, ‘No.’

‘No, if by universalist we mean there’s a giant cosmic arm that swoops everybody in at some point whether you want to be there or not,’ he elaborated.

Admitting he wasn’t a theologian, he didn’t offer any theological arguments on the always curious subjects of heaven and hell and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Rather, he said he was just ‘one more voice’ in an ongoing conversation about things that matter most.”

Continue Reading

Ways you can help the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan



Ways you can help from Time Magazine.


Excerpt:

“The first thing on most peoples’ minds after they hear the news of a horrific disaster (like the earthquake in Japan) is, what can I do to help?

Even if you’re thousands of miles away, there are various ways that you can offer your support to the earthquake and tsunami relief effort. Here are just a few of them:

The Red Cross: The Japanese Red Cross has already deployed 11 national disaster response teams to respond to the crisis but you can support their efforts by donating money. Similar to their efforts to help Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, Red Cross is accepting donations either online or via text message. Simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone (you’ll be prompted to confirm with a second text reading YES).”

Continue Reading

Christianity Today reviews Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”



A thorough review on Rob Bell’s Love Wins on Christianity Today.

Excerpt:

“The prepublication buzz centered on Bell’s flirtation with universalism. He makes the universalist case most fully in one chapter, while avoiding the word universalist. He points out the many New Testament passages that point in this direction, like ‘in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them’ (2 Cor. 5:19), and Jesus’ statement, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). He adds to that verses about God’s omnipotence and God’s desire that all should be saved. And then he asks the arresting question, ‘Will God get what he wants?’ ”

Continue Reading


The Twelve Who Knew Him: Series On The Twelve Apostles.



The five part series on the Twelve Apostles is now completely up!
Click on the links or the picture above.

Check out the guys who hung out with Jesus, people just like you and me, and how Jesus worked through them.
Preaching this series was an absolute blast. Thanks for the strong responses!

1) Peter the Rockstar and Andrew the Background Guy
Luke 5. God works in the craziest and the quietest of us. 1 of 5. “A slice of world history around the time of Jesus, the Five Fails of Peter, and the unstoppable force of a power duo.” February 13th, 2011.

2) James and John, Thunder and Lightning
Luke 9. Love and truth are sacrifice at the price of the cross. 2 of 5. “How to stop a child from beating up his little brother, the Evil Love over a cute little baby, and the hard truth from ‘I Am Legend.'” Feb 20th 2011.

3) Philip and Nathanael, Pride and Prejudice
John 1, 6. The over-thinker and the racist; how Jesus broke them. 3 of 5. “Being the smartest one on a planet of idiots, the one who takes forever to order at a restaurant, and the worst philosophy class ever.” Feb 27, 2011

4) Matthew and Thomas, Taxes and Doubts
Mark 2. Jesus casts out a vision for more. 4 of 5. “Jesus catching a hit man’s bullets, when 100 people try to lead the dance on a stage, and telling a little baby to get a job.” March 6th, 2011.

5) Judas The Tragic Traitor
John 12. Jesus’ ministry ends, and begins. 5 of 5. “Credit card felony for two large pizzas, when TV good guys become bad guys into good guys again, and the total senseless chaos of the cross.” March 13th, 2011.

Upcoming on the podcast:
Women of the Bible and the conclusion to the Miracles of Jesus!


Book Review: Trusting God

Trusting God
by Jerry Bridges

Summary:
Can we really trust God? Covering the daily grind of life to natural disasters to military battles to government rule, Jerry Bridges takes a sweeping look at the sovereignty of God. The simple title of his work is a monument in itself, much like Mere Christianity or The Pursuit of God — we expect a magnum opus. This he delivers with sensitivity, authority, and clarity. He also doesn’t try to explain the mysteries. Particularly in a time when New Zealand, Japan, Egypt, Libya, and the worldwide economy are suffering, this is a reassuring work that is never pretentious, is able to gently restore, and keeps our perspective looking above.

Continue reading “Book Review: Trusting God”

Seven Things They Don’t Tell You In Seminary

Seven things I wish seminary would’ve told students to prepare them for ministry.

1) Confrontation: When you really like Bob but can’t.
The big dogs are always talking about church discipline because no one ever does it, but stop short of explaining how. It’s easy to talk tough when you’re speaking in scenarios. “If that husband cheating on his wife comes to church with his new girlfriend, kick them out.” Maybe I missed all the manuals, e-hows, appendices, and pamphlets on excommunication, but there’s no one-sentence method to kick someone out of church. There is no walkthrough, no strategy guide, no FAQ. It’s true that most pastors are cowards about confrontations, but then there are so many pastors that brashly harass the offending church member and stir up unnecessary consequences.

What if Bob has been a tithing church member for twenty years? What if Bob has hung out with my family and our kids have played together? What if I just straight up like Bob? This isn’t an excuse to go soft on him, but there has to be more technical how-to than simply saying, “Hey Bob, get out.” It takes even more courage to be gracious. And I actually think it’s more of a cop-out to say, Let the Spirit lead. That part is true, but the inexperienced seminary graduate doesn’t even know that much.

Continue reading “Seven Things They Don’t Tell You In Seminary”

The Spirit Drives: A Study On The Holy Spirit.



The five part series on the Holy Spirit is now complete and posted!

Five pictures of the Spirit: Dove, Fire, Wind, Water, and Oil.



1. The Spirit Drives The Satellite (Dove)
Matt. 3, Gal. 5. The Holy Spirit is total security into God’s adopted family. 1 of 5. “The Bible fugitives, the infinite stamp of Grace versus the fading stamp of Fail, and the uncoolness of hooking up a junky car.” Feb 4, 2011.

2. The Spirit Drives The Speakerbox (Fire)
Galatians 5. To be filled with the Holy Spirit and do the impossible. 2 of 5. “God’s protective wrathful furious comforting fire, good advice for unhappy Christians, and how Satan is happy about your life.” February 11th, 2011.

3. The Spirit Drives The Frequency (Wind)
Isaiah 40. God is in total control, so what’s our part? 3 of 5. “Carried away in an Alaskan river by a super-current, when the pastor’s wife says you don’t know anything, and God the fattest one in the band.” Feb. 18th, 2011.

4. The Spirit Drives The Tower (Water)
Titus 3:3-8. Victims of abuse, broken relationships, and past trauma. 4 of 5. “When you get a knife stuck in your skull for four years, when haters just gonna hate, and when Shelly the hot girl got sick on the bus.” Feb 25, 2011.

5. The Spirit Drives The Connection (Oil)
1 Kings 17. What to do when we’re on empty. 5 of 5. “How Facebook increases and decreases your self-esteem, hitting the snooze button eighteen times, and reaching out for the branch after falling off a cliff.” March 4th, 2011.