God, you loved me right out of my addictions. You loved me out of my despair. You loved me out of my darkness, conceitedness, misery. You loved me right out of myself.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
— Galatians 2:20
Thank you for answering my previous questions. I enjoy hearing what you have to say about these topics! So I was wondering…what do you think of the end of times? Personally, it’s a subject that is of extreme fascination to me. What do you think of the book of Revelations? Do you think we’ll see the end of the Earth as we know it in our life time? How do you think it will happen? I would love to hear your thoughts. I’m actually taking an English class on the subject, and I’m really looking forward to learning all about the topic, as it has interested me for so long yet I never got a chance to study it. God Bless and keep on preaching the Good News!
Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll simplify it the best I can for you here. The End Times — not just Revelation, but throughout the entire Bible — can be divided into two categories: What we know and what we don’t know.
What we know:
Continue reading “What’s Up With The End Times?”
“God cares less about what you’re doing — though He does care about that — but He is most concerned with who you’re becoming. He sees what your hands are doing but cares more about where your heart is going. God looks at the heart of man, not the appearance.”
There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing those things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.
— C.S. Lewis
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
— C.S. Lewis
We’re not surprised anymore when a famous preacher who blasts homosexuality gets caught in a homosexual affair doing meth. A governor who pursues ethics in Wall Street is busted for carousing with prostitutes. An actor turned governor turned actor hides a secret child outside his marriage for ten years, fully realizing his role as an actor. We’ve learned that Nazi doctors who ordered the deaths of countless people were also fathers and husbands, a phenomenon later coined “doubling.” At least a third of pastors are addicted to pornography. And half of Christian men are in the same boat.
Once you claim a standard, you’re claimed by that standard.
Even the reckless prodigal or the pseudo-reasonable atheist has claimed categories of superiority. They both sneer at the religious right. The only difference is a Christian works from a deficit: he is expected to be impeccably polite while an atheist lacks all accountability and likes it that way. The atheist has infinite loopholes when he falls — especially when he falls — while the Christian is ready to be hanged at any second for a single outburst.
It’s a sort of reverse bigotry. The non-religious gets in a scandal and it’s “business as usual.” The pastor destroys his marriage and he’s no longer qualified for ministry, or to be treated like a human being.
How far do we take this? If an atheist turned out to be an axe murderer, his atheism as a cover is as good as a cheap hooker’s dress. Try to call that the usual business and you’re likely to be called insane.
No matter who you are or claim to be, a standard has claimed you.
The late John Stott said, Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross … It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.
While no one has a valid excuse for hypocrisy, a follower of Christ has more reason to keep it real. He is held accountable even when others are not. And if we claim no superiority, then we have no right to judge outside the church. We have every right to confront each other in the church, to build and not to destroy.
But we cannot ask of others what we first are not doing ourselves.
Continue reading “Self-Dissociation: How A Christian Can Condemn The Very Sin He Loves Doing”
You cracked open your journal, busted out your favorite pen, and finally opened your Bible.
Five sentences later, you have no idea what you just read.
Confusion, frustration, resignation: But the pastor made it so easy. It was better when he told it.
And the final excuse: At least I tried.
It’s happened to all of us, from rookies to veterans, when we catch the excitement of digging into Scripture and come out cold. Most of us will conclude the Bible is too hard, that we’re not mature enough, that we need to be spoon-fed, that something’s wrong with me, that we’ll try it again later. And with each pass at reading, we grow more bewildered.
Every pastor with the best of intentions is yelling at you to read your Bible, but they forget to tell you how.
Of course the simplest way would be to turn to Genesis and just rip right through it. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little help in reading Scripture. If you genuinely want to read the Bible but have had some false starts, here are some ways to dig into the Greatest Truth in the universe.
Continue reading “I Want To Read My Bible — But How?”
Based on our research, I also worry that some of the Christian community’s teaching on abstinence focuses too much on the personal, individualist benefits of delaying sex until marriage. I am certainly not questioning the motives of those who urge the next generation toward sexual purity but I do wonder if some of the methods reflect a mindset influenced by individualism. ‘Save yourself for marriage and have fantastic sex with one partner, the way it’s meant to be. Sex as God intended will blow your mind. Be safe; avoid the risks of STDs and an unwanted pregnancy. Think about your future.’ Much of the abstinence messaging, however well-intended, capitulates to culturally cultivated individualism: sex is about me.
— David Kinnaman
We should not assume that the tough questions of a hostile professor are at the root of lost faith. Rather in many instances, I believe the Christian community has failed to disciple its science-inclined students to become responsible, intelligent, capable, resourceful, and faithful followers of Christ. We need to do a better job stewarding the intellect of this generation.
— David Kinnaman
“God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is love.”
— C.S. Lewis
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
— Karl Barth
“Does the church have the courage to become relevant by becoming biblical?”
— David Wells
“Examine yourself: Does it lie within your power right now to weep over the spiritual destruction of the people on your street? Such tears come only through a profound work of God. If we want this work of God in our lives and in our churches, there will be agonizing prayer: ‘God, break my heart!'”
— John Piper
“The hijacking of the concept of morality began, of course, when we reduced Scripture to formula and a love story to theology, and finally morality to rules. It is a very different thing to break a rule than it is to cheat on a lover. A person’s mind can do all sorts of things his heart would never let him do. If we think of God’s grace as a technicality, a theological precept, we can disobey without the slightest feeling of guilt, but if we think of God’s grace as a relational invitation, an outreach of love, we are pretty much jerks for belittling the gesture.”
— Donald Miller
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
— Francis Chan
“For me to not trust God is crazy, because His fingerprints are all over my story from top to bottom.”
— Jeremy Lin
Never use cultural ‘relevance’ as an excuse for sin. God’s standard of righteousness does not change.
— Wesley Hall
I have learned to live with the rise and fall of the thoughts and feelings of faith, I co-exist with honest doubt, to accept tension and paradox without clinging to it as an excuse for inaction.
— Daniel Taylor
Do you think your faith could be where it is now if you hadn’t gone through seminary? What do you think of serving in either the church or the missions fields without attending a seminary school?
Near the end of my seminary studies, I wrote a blog post about my entire experience plus wisdom for students here. Read it whenever you like.
One thing seminary does is it will expose your strengths and weaknesses. I hear plenty of pastors say, “Seminary will destroy your faith and make you resent God” — but that’s impossible. No one makes anyone do anything: your environment only exposes who you really are. Same with the car who cuts you off, the friend who betrays you, the dude who holds you at gunpoint, the seminary that pressures you. All of it reveals what’s already inside.
That’s why some seminarians come out with huge Bible-heads all puffed up from learning Greek, or some will have a dried up faith when they learn about Creationism, the Old Testament genocides, and how the Bible was made, as if they finally get to say, “This is what we believe?” No one did that to them.
So be ready for the most rigorous refinement of your intellect in the context of your faith. If you’re humble and teachable along the way, you’ll love it. If your expectations are otherwise, it’s a minefield.
Continue reading “Question: Seminary Will Hurt Or Help My Faith?”
Why do you think Israel kept messing with their blessing? Why did God painfully remind them of His presence? Because it is impossible to be grateful without grief. It is impossible to be blessed without knowing you’re broken. The need for healing acknowledges our default is hurting. Deficit must always precede thankfulness, which then leads us to joyfully obey. There is no other way.