Category Archives: Religion

Who Do You Trust?

Some trust in chariots. Some trust in horses.  But we trust in the Lord our God.  
Psalm 20:7 (New International Reader’s Version)

Recently, a big story broke about a pastor in Australia who seriously deceived not only his congregation, but also his fellow staff and even his wife who all falsely believed he had a terminal illness.  In the Fall of 2006, a major evangelical leader in the U.S. resigned his leadership positions amid allegations of a gay scandal.  Numerous popular mainstream Christian recording artists have divorced their mates over the last several years.  There is a website devoted to cataloging proven and well-supported allegations of sexual predatory abuse by pastors and ministers and deacons.   And on and on it goes.

This unfortunate trend has been on my mind for the last two years as I began thinking about what’s going on in the Church today and why some are imploding.  Maybe it’s not just the Church “today”, maybe it’s always been like this, but for the last couple of years I’ve come across several churches and pastors and situations, not for the purpose of being judgmental, but to ask, “What is going on?”  Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about a well-known Christian leader who has fallen.  Hearts are broken, families are ruined, churches are disgraced and the name of God is cheapened. 

I don’t think any of us can say we haven’t done something that reflected poorly on the God we love and the faith we espouse.  As a contemporary song asks, “Who here among us has not been broken?  Who here among us is without guilt or shame?”  (You can hear the song here.)  So the purpose here is not to judge or be judged. 

So, the question is, “Who do you trust?”  Do we trust in man or do we trust in God?  Man will let us down time and time again.  Here also are a few other things that I’m reminded of as I think about our failures and I think about who I put my faith in.

  1. It’s OK to shine the light on sin.  It’s okay to call it what it is.  Face sin head on, don’t hide it.  Don’t accept anything less than what’s wrong is wrong.  Don’t sugarcoat sin but uncover it.
  2. We need to understand grace.  If we knew the grace we’ve been shown, both in salvation and repentance, it would be far easier to show grace to those who also fail. 
  3. There, but for the grace of God go I.  That sums it up pretty well.
  4. Trust in God.  Trust in Jesus.  We give to men what God rightfully deserves.  Man will fail us sooner or later.  We shouldn’t base our faith and religion on man but put our hope in Christ alone.
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The Hope That Doesn’t Disappoint

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38,39

I’ve been sitting on those two verses for a couple of weeks, just waiting for a time to sit down and write how these words have been impactful to me in my life.  These two verses are a couple of verses that have been words of hope time and time again.  But this week, they hit home in a little bit of a different way.  This week, a couple of things happened that last night found us sitting, disappointed, kind of shaking our heads, discouraged and frustrated.

Last night, my wife and I stayed up late talking about it.  We were both pretty bothered and disappointed.  She was crying and I was disspirited.  As we turned out the light and tried to go to sleep, still ruminating over the disappointment, these verses came back to me.  I had to be reminded that, though people will eventually disappoint us and circumstances may discourage us, there is one rock who never will.  I had to be reminded, for a moment, of God’s love. 

No matter the discouragement we experience in our circumstances or the disappointments we face in life, Christ Jesus is never more than a prayer away.  No matter the frustration, no matter our dismay, no matter how disheartened or whatever happens in life, no one can separate us from God’s love.  Those are words of hope.

And this morning, Romans 5:5 has been on my mind as I made it into work.

Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.   Romans 5:5

The hope we find in God doesn’t disappoint.  Man will disappoint us.  Circumstances will discourage us.  Things will happen.  But there is one constant, one solid rock, one cornerstone, one Lord from whom nothing can separate me.

Persecuted Chinese Christians

 With the 2008 Olympics being hosted in Beijing, China, there has been increased attention on many aspects of life in China.  One area of focus has been the plight of Christians in China.  There are a significant number of Christians in China and their numbers are growing.  Untold numbers worship in underground, nonregistered churches.  There are numerous reports of Chinese Christians who have been persecuted for their faith, even in 2008.  There are many who are not allowed to worship the God they adore freely and openly without fear of retribution, punishment or discouragement.

Safely Home, by Randy C. Alcorn, is an incredible work of fiction based on real life struggles of Chinese believers that Alcorn collected from numerous sources.  Alcorn leaves a note for the reader before the book begins:

     “The City I’ve called Pushan is fictitious.  As far as I know, there is no Pushan in the area I’ve described.  If there is, I’ve never been there and have no knowledge of it.  While many things in this book have actually happened in one way or another, I have made up the story.  Still, I have attempted to keep it authentic and true to life in as many details as possible.  Nearly all my characters are fictitious.  Some are composites of several real people.  Whenever I was thinking of someone in particular I changed his name and life details so it would be impossible to identify him.”

What follows is an amazing, captivating and gripping narrative that, for me, was soul-stirring and faith-challenging.  As the 2008 Olympic Games comes to a close, and all the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded, may we remember those killed, abused and thwarted because of their faith.  There are no gold medals to award, no accolades to bestow, no interviews to give and no commercials to film. 

But for you, faithful ones, wherever you are, keep the faith.  God sees.  God knows.  God hears.  Cheers of encouragement and prayers go out for you, all of you Christians who live day-to-day around the world persecuted because of your faith.  Sometimes under cover of night in hidden rooms, sometimes with just the threat of and sometimes actual violence, sometimes losing all you have including your families and sometimes paying the ultimate, even your lives.  Until you are safely home, God bless you and keep you, my brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Godspeed.

 

What Kind of Difference Does Jesus Make?

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13 (NIV)

What do people see when they see you?  What do they say about you?  What reaction do your words and actions draw from the people who are around you?

When you go to the barber or the hair stylist and you see your friends afterwards, they notice that you got your hair cut, that there is something different about you.  When you exercise and work out and you start to lose a little weight, people begin to notice and say you look good.  They notice your clothes fitting more loosely and see a little less belly and a little more muscle.  When you had a great date, don’t your friends notice the bounce in your step and the smile on your face?  They do.  They say you’re in love or whipped or whatever other phrase is the generation’s catchphrase.

But is it that way with your relationship with Jesus?  Do people look at you and notice the difference?  Do people see a bounce in your step and a smile on your face?  Do people say you’re in love?  Do people look astonished and amazed?

The people that were around Peter and John noticed something about them.  Though they were just ordinary, uneducated men, the unordinariness and uniqueness of Christ in their lives caused people to stop and take notice.  It sounds like it was kind of shocking.  When they had been around Jesus, they became different people.  They walked with courage, they spoke with power and they lived with abandon.  Every day they shared who Jesus is and what He had done.  And because of the change Jesus made in their lives, the effect was huge.  People wanted what they had.  It was contagious.  The church formed and grew rapidly.  And today, 2,000 years later, we’re still talking about Christ.

Today, as you go about your daily lives, spend a little time getting to know Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has done.  Learn to be more like Him.  Then, go live, and see if people notice any difference.

Into the Congo

I admire the work of missionaries all over the world.  I find it fascinating (in fact I was thinking about writing a book about this recently before coming across the video link below) that there are many stories about people in different tribes and countries that have had dreams or visions about someone from far away that would come to see them and tell them of Jesus.  Later, that visitor does come and it has a profound impact on the one(s) who experienced the vision or dream.  I recall one story about a man who had a dream to go to a certain street corner in his country, some distance away, at a certain time and wait for a particular person.  At the same time, that particular person experiences certain circumstances that cause him to go to that one specific location.  Call it crazy if you must.  I find it quite interesting and beyond the natural realm of experience.  I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s stories.

Into the Congo