Archives For cross

I read Hebrews 2:14-18 yesterday.  Read it slowly, out loud, a few times:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

I am a person who struggles mightily with depression and anxiety. It comes and goes and is subject to a diverse array of stimulus.  I also have a lot of good ways of coping with it, which are sometimes enough to feel better and sometimes aren’t.

Usually when we think of Jesus’s atonement, we think of him as the substitute for our sins. We deserve a penalty for our sins, hell, and Jesus took that hell upon himself on the cross so we wouldn’t have to take it on ourselves for all eternity.  Then when the Judge looks at us, we are declared innocent (righteous). Not because of what we’ve done, but because of what Jesus did on our behalf.

All of this is true, praise be to God! But something even deeper hit me yesterday. Continue Reading…

INSTRUCTIONS: Make up an imaginary person.  This person could be truly imagined, like the Tooth Fairy, or you can pick someone who has died and make up imaginary things about their life, like a tall tale.

Now, you need to write down these imaginary stories.  You write down that this imaginary person rose from the dead and then went up into heaven.  Rather than be smart and keep it vague, you decide to be very specific about the way your imaginary person died: when, where, by whom (using famous historical figures), how, etc.  And you’re also quite specific in how your imaginary person rose from the dead, listing specific people who saw him, and the places where he was seen. Continue Reading…

There are two groups who think all religions are the same: the informed and the uninformed.

The informed have done a general study of the main religions and have concluded that they share the same central tenants or that God is too big to put in a box so he/she/it must be larger than any one religion.

The uninformed are those who don’t really bother to think about these things, but assume all religions are alike the same way one who lives in the desert assumes all fish are alike.  And they sleep just fine at night under this illusion.

There are motivations, some genuine and some not, to all of the above, but at the end of the day and with so much on the line, it’s can’t be overstated that all religions are not the same.  While generally I don’t like to use the word “religion” to describe what I have found in Jesus (the term “relationship” is much more appropriate and helpful), I’ll stick with it for the sake of this discussion.  Here are some brief and immensely weighty reasons why all religions are not the same:

  • Have you done wrong against God?  Do you need to be forgiven and can you earn that forgiveness?  These are huge questions that have actual answers.  There is no way the answer to these questions can be “all answers are the same.”  You either have or haven’t done wrong against God and He either is or isn’t going to forgive you.  In addition, you will either be able to earn this forgiveness, or not, and if not, you’d better hope there’s a way for it to be bestowed upon you.  The only religion where you are forgiven through what God did for you rather than what you can do for God is found in Jesus.  Period.  Jesus says you can’t measure up to God’s holy standard, so he did it for you.  Other religions say you must measure up to God’s holy standard (good luck).  These are not the same.
  • Jesus either rose from the dead or he didn’t.  If he did, his religion is true.  If he didn’t, all the religions that say he didn’t (which is all of them) could potentially be true.  The same goes with his claim to be God.  He’s either God or he isn’t God, these two things are not the same.  Don’t you find it ironic that no other religion says that Jesus rose from the dead or that he is God?  Of course they don’t!  If they did, they’d admit that Jesus is where true religion is found.

There are many more things that could be added to this list, but it’s been kept short intentionally.  Please think hard about the above two bullet points.  It’s okay if you don’t believe them, though if they turn out to be true you will sorely regret it.  And goodness, why would you risk that?  What are is the payout of that gamble if you end up being right?  But at least make a decision.  Don’t take the cop-out that all religions are the same.  They can’t be.

And as C.S. Lewis so eloquently said in Mere Christianity, do not call Jesus a “good teacher” or a “prophet” as most world religions do:

If your kid’s math teacher was excellent at teaching algebra but also taught that they were God on earth, would you call this person a good teacher?  Only if their claim was true!  Otherwise you’d have them locked them.  You can’t call Jesus a good teacher but reject his claim to be God.

Don’t deprive yourself of intellectual vigor by claiming that all religions are the same, but much more importantly, don’t deprive yourself of your eternity!  There’s way too much on the line not to look into these claims.

 

A historical man named Jesus claimed to be God.

He died on a cross at the hands of the Romans, a historical event.

Many witnesses saw him rise from the dead.

These witness and other earliest followers spread the news of his resurrection, his being God, and his promise to save us, at the expense of their lives.  They gained nothing from this except persecution and death.

The six cute-little-buggers who get most all the Christmas gifts now

The six cute-little-buggers who get most all the Christmas gifts now

In the aftermath of this morning’s Christmas sermon and a week of getting and giving Christmas presents, I realized most of us don’t know what a gift is.  Since most of me and my extended family’s gift-giving money goes toward our collective six kids, all age 5 and under, this year we decided to draw names for the adults.  You get one name and buy them a small gift, rather than having to buy for all the adults.  I don’t know if you have an elf at your family gift exchange, but we always have an elf at ours.  The elf is the person sitting nearest the tree who has the duty of reading the tags on presents and delivering them to the proper recipients.  I was the the elf this year.

Not uncommon for me, I started making various jokes.  One of them was when I realized there were additional gifts under the tree for adults, outside of the one-gift-per-adult allotment from the name drawing.  For example, my mom drew my brother Pete’s name, but got him 3 gifts.  I of course made sure everyone knew the additional gifts were because she loves him more than the rest of us, getting him two gifts from the goodness of her heart, outside of the one obligatory gift she had to get him from the drawing (she defended herself by saying she just got good deals and still kept everything under our set expense amount).

My brother Pete also bought gifts for adults outside of the person he drew a name for.  One of these gifts was a box for me.  I told everyone this was a gift from the goodness of Pete’s heart, whereas his name-drawn gift was simply obligatory.  All of the name-drawn gifts were obligatory.

The gift he got me from the goodness of his heart was a yellow glow-in-the-dark piece of rubber dog poop.  True story.

(What was really funny was listening to the kids fight over who got to play with “the poop.”  “No, it’s my turn to play with the poop…” and so on.) Continue Reading…