Welcome to tomthinking.com Wednesday, January 24 2018 @ 03:35 AM UTC
I had forgiven him. He had done some things against me that were unconscionable. But I told him I forgave him. Meanwhile, deep in the recesses of my heart where I hide all my secrets, I wished for his life to be a explosion of failure and public embarrassment. After all, he hadn't really repented. So I declared forgiveness, but privately imagined a downfall for him that would justify my secret hatred.
I hadn't really forgiven him, had I? There was an important reason why unforgiveness still clung to me. It was because I was powerless to harm him.
Powerlessness Is A Part Of Unforgiveness
America is divided for one, simple, yet profound reason. We no longer believe the same things.
Take the case of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Politically they were polar opposites, yet they shared the most basic principles of morality, right and wrong.
In today's America, most on the political left don't believe in an all powerful, benevolent Creator. Most on the right believe in a God, but they don't really live as if he exists and are accountable to him.
Of all of the questions or tools you can use to start a conversation about Jesus and share your faith with someone, this one may be the most useful: "Are you a religious person?"
There are many ways of opening up a faith conversation. Perhaps you've heard these types of questions: Do you go to church? Where are you on your spiritual journey? What do you believe about God? What do you believe about Jesus?
This is a post from a few years ago, but since The Last Jedi has been released I thought to revisit it.
First, let me say that it's just a movie. We shouldn't take our entertainment too seriously. But entertainment does teach us things and it can reinforce our values or oppose our values. Who can deny that most of American entertainment opposes biblical values?
That being said, I enjoy the Star Wars movies. The Star Wars saga is epic in nature and presents a morality play that we can use if properly understood. But that doesn't mean we should just accept the quasi-good/evil scenario that is portrayed in Star Wars. In fact, if you examine the good/evil scenario drawn in the movies and compare it with a biblical view of morality, you can only come away with one conclusion.
The Jedi are bad.
The Jedi aren't as bad as the Sith. And the empire in Star Wars isn't good. But that doesn't mean that the Jedi are good either. They are simply a different form of evil than the Sith. It's like the war in Syria. ISIS is bad, really bad. But in terms of the whole conflict, with the exception of the victims, there are no good guys on any side. Thus it is with Star Wars. The Sith are bad. The empire is bad. But so are the Jedi. From a biblical perspective, they're just a different kind of bad.
Here are several reasons, from George Lucas' epic series and the scripture, why the Jedi, as heroes, are not all they're cracked up to be.
The book of Leviticus can be a difficult read. It is filled with laws and regulations about ceremonial sacrifices, leprosy and health codes, dietary restrictions, and commands about relationships and sexual sins. In my early exploration of Christianity I was discouraged by reading texts like Leviticus, worried I could never measure up to what it taught. If that was Christianity, I thought, then it was too hard.
Regarding the problem of evil, the atheist objects saying, “How can God be all-knowing and all-loving and let evil exist?”
Underlying the atheist’s mindset is not that God is all-loving, rather, it assumes that a moral God must be only-loving. In fact, God possesses the full range of emotions and intellectual capacity as man, more so, thus, saying God is all-loving does not imply that he is only-loving.
Have you ever paid attention to the language of Exodus chapter 1? Some of us read it like an introduction of a novel without noticing something dramatic is taking place.
After Moses completes writing Genesis, he sets to work presenting to the Israelites their contemporary history. It is not that Exodus chapter 1 is an introductory chapter, rather all of the book of Genesis is the introductory chapter leading up to the book of Exodus. And Moses takes great pains in the language he uses to show Israel exactly what God is doing. What is he doing? Read Exodus 1 and take note that 8 times Israel’s multiplication is mentioned center stage. Moses uses the words fruitful, multiply, and spread out. Three times he refers to Israel as mighty.
Why is this important?
Are you happy or unhappy with your life? If you sat down and made a list of reasons why you are happy or unhappy, chances are, you will be able to find a variation of four things that you need for happiness. I’m not usually one to try and boil down life to some formulaic approach to fulfillment. However, I think in this case, in general terms, we can self-assess our lives to discover what contributes to or takes away from our happiness. I’m not going to give you a pop culture answer like, “All you need is love.” Nor will I give you a pat religious answer like, “All you need is Jesus.” Love may be supreme and Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love—and you need both for eternal happiness. But what I’d like to do is present four things that are necessary for human happiness in this life, right now. I believe that God has wired us in this way, whether you are a Christian or not.
Happiness is important. Happiness is not the be all and end all of existence. In fact, happiness should not be the primary pursuit of our lives because happiness is best seen as a byproduct and not a pursuit. But that doesn’t mean that happiness isn’t important. If we are happy in our work then getting up in the morning to go to work isn’t a chore for us. If we are happy in our home life then we look forward to being home and spending time with the ones we love. The catch is knowing where our happiness comes from. If we can know what we need to be happy then we can self-assess to find out if we have what we need, or if we are missing happiness by missing one or more of the four elements necessary to happiness. So, allow me to wax philosophical for a moment as I define the basic elements of happiness, why they are important, and then present you with biblical examples for these four elements. Let’s get started.
Everyday I drove by a church and noticed that its parking lot was filled with cars. Why in the world are there cars in a church parking lot on a Tuesday, I wondered? One day curiosity got the best of me and I pulled into the lot of Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. I talked with the Christian school principal and a guy named Max. They explained the Gospel to me, showing me passages from the Bible. I was hesitant and conflicted. I wanted to be patient and gracious. But what I really wanted was to get out of there. But as Max shared the scriptures with me something began to click. It made sense. When he asked me to pray to receive Christ I was still hesitant and afraid, but I did it anyway. That evening I became a Christian. But what did I really know beyond the first bit of knowledge that Jesus died for me and rose from the dead? Not much. If someone were to have asked me why I believed in Jesus at that moment I would not have known what to say. So here it is, over 30 years later, and I’m pondering what I’ve learned and believed and how I’ve changed. You know what?
I know what to say.
Why I believe in Jesus today, after 30+ years in Christ, is different than why I first believed. There are many reasons why I believe in Jesus. They are reasons that everyone should consider. Some are subjective, dealing with what has gone on in my heart for the last 30+ years. Some reasons are more objective. In other words, evidence outside of my perspectives and feelings about Jesus that convince me year after year about the truth of who he is. There are many reasons why I believe in Jesus—and why I hope you will believe in Jesus. But for this article I will share just six.
Six times in the scripture your destiny is mentioned as something that the Lord has foreordained since before the foundation of the world. This is an encouraging and wonderful thing, to think that God elected you and I to enjoy him forever. However, there is more to predestination than personal salvation from sin and a home in Heaven. In fact, every time predestination is mentioned there is one thing not far behind. Can you guess what it is?
Some people regard the God of the Old Testament as a judgmental God. Yet, in the book of Exodus God begins to make a way for the people to approach God, or rather, more importantly, for God to approach the people. Notice this progression in the book of Exodus about how people approach God.
Recently, I posted a question on social media asking, “Can you live a godly life without reading the Bible?” As expected, the range of answers went from a simple yes or no to everything in between. But no one hit my perspective.
Yesterday I did not read the Bible even once. The day before I completed my reading of the Bible and then took a one day break. Did I sin? Was I less godly yesterday because I didn’t read scripture?
To answer my own question I’d like to change its terminology just slightly, but significantly. But before I do so, I’d like to define just what the Bible is. The Bible isn’t merely a collection of religious writings. Rather, it can be described as what theologians call, revelation. This means that its content is not simply writings of mere men. Rather, the Bible is God’s revelation of himself to man. This is significant because you can’t go anywhere else to discover the specifics of who God is. Now, some might argue that we can go to godly men to learn about God. But where do they get their information about God’s character? From the Bible.