Welcome to tomthinking.com Sunday, June 17 2018 @ 09:33 PM UTC

If Forgiveness Isn't From The Heart, You May Not Have Forgiven At All

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Have you ever forgiven someone but had bad feelings about them at the same time? Jesus Christ is our model for forgiveness. It’s hard to image Jesus forgiving someone but holding onto bad feelings about that person. Yet, many Christians have the idea that we can forgive someone practically, that is, from the mind, yet still hold bad feelings about that person. We forgive their sin but if something bad happened to them we wouldn’t be crying any tears of sorrow.

I want to suggest that this kind of forgiveness may not be forgiveness at all. It’s the kind of forgiveness that is dressed up in Christianese language but it isn’t a forgiveness that is fully felt in the seat of our emotions. And if we claim to forgive someone, shouldn’t we feel it in the heart? After all, when we sin we are told that we must repent from the heart. “Rend your heart and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). “David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people” (II Samuel 24:10). “He has sent me to heal the contrite of heart” (Luke 4:18). Throughout the scripture we are urged to repent of sin, not only intellectually, but from the seat of our emotions; from the heart. If this is the case, then doesn’t forgiveness also require an expression of the heart?


Theology, Philosophy, and Science Are All About Truth

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I’ve been reading recently on the subjects of theology, philosophy, and science, especially where issues of cosmic origins are concerned. One of the things that is always brought up in debates over origins are supposed scientific quotes from the Bible, and discoveries in science that would seem to contradict the Bible. Meanwhile, the philosophic try to make sense of both.

I’ve found, in my research, that all three disciplines actually compliment one another. Discoveries in science help shed light when interpreting biblical passages. Philosophy often seeks to help make sense of both sides of theology and science to make some things understandable to the average person. But, there are those who say that theology and science are at war with one another and philosophy is a big bag of wind. However, if we take a complimentary view, we see that all three have a legitimate role to play because all three are essentially a pursuit of truth within the limitations of their disciplines. For instance, science tells us a great deal about the cosmos, biology, and genetics, while theology says little to nothing about such things. 

Allow me to share with you a grid that might help bring some clarity to the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and science.


The Great Commission May Be Fulfilled By 2029

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That headline may seem absurd. But you might think differently once you finish reading this article. 

If you were asked, "What is God doing in your life?" Some of us, diligent in our walk with Christ, would be able to answer. But if you were to be asked, "What is God doing in the world today?" How would you respond? What is God doing in the world, as a whole, today? Let me share with you, my answer.
Based upon the scripture and what we see going on with the gospel around the world, I'd have to say that God is busy fulfilling the Great Commission in our lifetime. In fact, there is no single, more important task that God is engaged in than fulfilling the Great Commission. Let me explain why.
There has never been a better time to get involved with helping to fulfill the Great Commission. Regardless of what you see on the news about the state of our nation or the world, regardless of the many evils we are seeing perpetrated on so many victims, like what is happening the Middle East with ISIS, regardless of the lack of hope that so many people have, there has never been a time more fruitful for the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth, and I want to tell you why. It all begins with the Great Commission.


Mixing Our Message

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Christians need to speak the language of the culture in which they live. But is incorporating the secular diluting the message of Christ? There are many schools of thought on this issue. Here's my take.
I was in my office at Eagle TV having a meeting with a few ministry staff. We were talking about ideas for our ministry programs, trying to make decisions about what we wanted to produce for the next year.
One of the staff raised his hand and asked to speak. He said something that I have heard many times before from people in other ministries. “If we want to be successful,” he said, “then we need to produce programs that focus more on things that people are interested in apart from Christianity. Let’s attract an audience by emphasizing other things in life then when people see that our programs about these things are good they will want to know more about Jesus. But don’t talk about Jesus so much.”
I considered his words carefully. I was living in a culture different from my own. I knew that I needed to be sensitive to the ways that Mongolians think and express themselves. I didn’t want to rush to judgment about his suggestion. However, at the same time I realized that I had heard this line many times before.
In fact, I remember a time in radio in the U.S. when some Christian radio programmers were talking about abandoning Christian music exclusively and instead focusing on what was called “message music.” That is, secular songs that aren’t immoral or sinful. They wanted to mix these with Christian music in an attempt to attract a greater audience to tell them about Jesus. There was only one problem with this idea.
It didn’t work.

Behaving Badly

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It was my first day of work at Eagle TV in Mongolia. I had just been installed as the new Managing Director. I was managing a team of 80 people producing daily television programs on Mongolia’s first independent TV channel. Part of my first day was for my assistant manager to give me a briefing on station operations and how things worked. There was one thing she warned me about in particular. “Whenever you leave your office,” she said, “always lock the door. Even if you’re just going down the hall or to the bathroom, lock the door.”

This sounded strange to me. I had already noticed that people locked their doors whenever they went out of their offices. Even if they were walking across the hall to another office, they always locked theirs. “Why do we need to lock our offices if we walk out?” I asked.

“Because if you don’t, someone may come in and steal your phone, or computer, or other things.”

I was dumbstruck. “Seriously?” She nodded her head.


Be Willing To Take The Loss

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It was a hush hush operation. With just a few people sworn to secrecy, we packed up a TV station into a container and hauled it away to a secret location. We were off the air and we weren’t coming back anytime soon.

A battle over issues of contribution and control of Eagle TV in Mongolia had been raging between shareholders for two years. By the time I got there things had come to a head. One side insisted the other side abide by the shareholder agreement and the other side demanded more power. Finally, in April of 2003 we shut down the station, packed it away, and Eagle TV, Mongolia’s first independent TV station after the fall of communism, was off the air…permanently. 


You can never make a good deal with a bad person and you can never make a bad deal with a good person

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One of our board members of Eagle TV in Mongolia was Roger Stewart, who used to say this to me all the time, “Tom, you can never make a good deal with a bad person and you can never make a bad deal with a good person.” 

It was 2004 and I was living in Mongolia. I was engaged in negotiations over a period of months to talk about bringing Eagle TV back on the air with a new license from the government. The man I had been negotiating with was one of the three top leaders of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP); the former communist party. He was a powerful man and he was negotiating on behalf of the most powerful man in Mongolia at that time, Prime Minister Nambaryn Enkhbayar. In exchange for giving us the channel license for the TV station, we were to give him and two others a percentage of ownership in the company and a guarantee that Eagle TV would never report anything bad about the Prime Minister. The pressure was on. They had no legal authority to grant us the license but they promised to make it happen if we gave them what they wanted. There was no mistaking what they were proposing to do. It was corruption, pure and simple.


It's Not Personal, Tom. It's Just Business

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I sat across the table from my opponent. Talking to this man was so frustrating that I could barely stand it. My assistant translated everything he said, but I could tell she wasn’t buying what he said either. He lied, and lied, and lied. Soon he was lying about the lies he had just told me and he kept on doing it. Then he would smile really big, flashing all his pearly whites at me, just daring me to call him out on his lies. He knew that I knew that he knew that he was lying, and he kept on doing it anyway. Finally, near the end of our useless conversation he said to me those all too familiar words that I have come to hate.

“It’s not personal, Tom. It’s just business.”


You Need Four Things To Be Happy

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This is a repost from December 17, 2017.


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.

When Is Discrimination Acceptable?

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This article was originally posted in February of 2014.

There has been a recent national discussion regarding religious discrimination and homosexuality. The most recent debate centered on a bill passed by the Arizona legislature that would have permitted a person or business not to serve someone based upon religious conviction. Central to the discussion was the example of a baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding. Gay advocates call that discrimination. Their opponents cited religious rights not to participate in sinful behavior. To the relief of many, the bill was vetoed by the Arizona governor.

For the purposes of this article I am not concerned with the law. My concern is what the Bible has to say about a difficult topic such as this.