Don’t fear the Reaper

It comes for us all, it is the great equalizer of all people everywhere…”it” is of course death. Many people fear death for different reasons and I can’t say that I’m not one of them. I do, in a sense, look forward to my own death so as to be free from this sinful body and to look upon the face of my Savior. I’m also really looking forward to that whole glorified body thing. In another sense though I’m not looking forward to death all that much; I don’t like the idea of being separated from my children, family (well, some of my family anyway) and friends (because they are still living), plus I have a low threshold for pain and of course the uncertainty of the timing and the big question of how I will die. I struggle with this because the Bible has verses in it like this:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21

and this:

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28

and this:

“And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” Luke 12:4

I know I must not fear death rather I should look forward to it, in one sense, but in another sense that’s hard to do. There is much sorrow surrounding death, especially for those who are unredeemed and yet as a Christian we have faith that death is not the end, but merely a beginning and yet I still have this fear.  As a Christian our death should be a celebration of the freedom from this world and a life dedicated to serving God, yet many times a Christian’s funeral doesn’t look much different from non-Christians why is that? Why is it that we sometimes as Christians look at the lives of people like Jim Elliot and say what happened was “such a tragedy” when in the full spectrum of reality it was no tragedy at all in fact it was a great victory, he exemplified Matthew 10.  (There are many other examples of Christian martyrs I could have chosen but I figured I’d choose one most people would be familiar with) We have to remember, as a Christian, that Christ called us to take up our cross and follow Him. Our cross…we also have to remember that the cross isn’t a cute little charm on a necklace, it was an instrument of death, the modern equivalent would most likely be an electric chair. I don’t believe this was merely figurative language Christ was using here, Christ has called us on a mission that is most likely going to expatiate our physical death and we are to be obedient unto that death just as Christ was obedient unto His. I understand all this…

and yet…

there is part of me that still fears death, my own death, my wife’s death and the idea that scares me more than anything is the death of one of my children. Is this something I can ever move past? Is this kind of death something I can ever really embrace or look forward to? Should it give me pause to consider my full commitment to Christ when I have these fears? Does anyone else struggle with this? These are my questions for today’s Theology Thursday please discuss in comments.

Dances with Wolves

Recently I saw a friend of mine, who is in the ministry, post a video on his facebook page by Steven Furtick with the comment underneath that read “I love this guy.” Now maybe…perhaps, I know too much about the semi-pelagian (at best) nature of Furtick’s “ministry”, perhaps I’m too aware of the nature of the sheep-abuse that happens in Furtick’s “church” or the erroneous nature of praying “Sun Stand Still” prayers that Furtick seems to be all about. Perhaps I’m too aware of the problems with having churches that are a mile wide and an inch deep. I watched the video clip and while I can’t deny that Furtick is a good motivational speaker, the clip I heard was all law. The message boiled down to “do more, try harder” where is the gospel in that? In fact that kind of message is the very opposite of the gospel, the gospel isn’t about what YOU do but about what Christ did for you, it’s about how even though you don’t measure up to God’s standard…Christ does, and he willingly sacrificed His life so that by his blood you would be seen as right before God. However Furtick’s message boiled down to basically “you suck as a Christian if you don’t do x, y or z.” and this message is par for the course for him. As with all false teachers I pray the Holy Spirit would show them their error and convict them of misleading so many.  The Bible has some very strong things to say about false teachers words like “wolves in sheeps clothing” and “accursed” are used for anyone that preaches a gospel contrary to the true gospel.

My Theology Thursday question for you is this: How far do you go to warn others about these false teachers such as Furtick, Bell, McLaren, Warren, Hybels, Noble and others? Should we share everything we know or do we let it go with an “even a broken clock is right twice a day” mentality? Do we trust the other person’s discernment skills; maybe they just aren’t aware or know as much as we know about the person in question. How much of the relationship do you risk straining when, even though your intentions are good you could be heard totally wrong? What would you do?

Ice Cream or Yogurt

I love books. I love the feel of books as you hold them in your hand. I love the weight of the book as you hold it up to read. I love the smell of the book as you flip through its pages. I love books, for me an e-reader will never completely replace a book. I realize e-readers are fun to play with, and can make for a convenient travel companion if you don’t want to carry a small mountain of books with you everywhere you go, but for me it can never completely replace a real, ink and paper book. As much as I love books and I love to read I do not get the chance to as often as I’d like. Like most Americans I’d say I’m hard pressed for our most precious commodity…time. In my lack of time I am very choosy when it comes to which books I read. I stay away from heretical books like A New Kind Of Christianity, The Irresistible Revolution and Heaven is for Real and I stick to books that I know, while challenging, are solid like Radical, He is Not Silent, and even books with boring titles like Lectures to my Students. As much as I love to read these kinds of books I often feel the need to chide myself for not reading THE book instead…of course I am referring to the Bible. I am deeply grateful for what God has given to us in His word. He has not left us guessing about who He is and what He wants from us and instead has gifted us with His spoken word. He has done this so we may know Him, so that we may make His name known among the nations and so that we would enjoy Him forever.  I often though, feel myself gravitating toward books about the Bible instead of the Bible itself and this tendency of mine troubles me.

It is said that the average American home has 4.3 Bibles in it and yet we live in a country where nobody has any idea what the Bible actually says. Just last week President Obama said in a speech “God wants us

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In God Who Trusts? A Theology Thursday Question

Recently the United States Congress reaffirmed the phrase “In God We Trust” as the United States motto. I have mixed feelings on the issue.

On one hand having a motto for this country that clearly not everyone supports, being as those that say they are atheists* and agnostics wouldn’t put their trust in something they cannot see, doesn’t strengthen our (collective) belief in God and does not make us any more a Christian nation than me holding a feather and jumping off a building makes me a bird.

On the other hand it’s nice that congress actually decided to keep something so prominently referring to God at all, being as we can’t keep the Ten Commandments up in any government building in this country. Of course in this age of post-modernity “God” could mean any number of things to any one person, but that’s neither here-nor-there for the purposes of this post.

I know that the whole “separation of church and state” thing is dramatically taken out of context in this country; being as it was not the founding fathers intent that the church be kept out of government affairs altogether, more it was the intent that the government be kept out of church affairs altogether and that hasn’t happened. Interestingly though, we don’t have to look too awful far back into history to see that it doesn’t play out well for church and state to mix too much. It is well known that the pilgrims came to this country seeking freedom from religious persecution in England; and my question for Theology Thursday centers around just that, but first some scripture…

In Romans 13 we read:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

(Thanks again for the NASB Jay) and in 1 Peter we read:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

Here is today’s question: In light of verses like these…was it right for the pilgrims to come to this country? Or should they have continued to live in England and suffer persecution there?

Discuss…

*There is no such thing as an atheist, for no one can claim with 100% certainty that there is no God, to do so they would have to know everything possible, at best they would have admit to being an agnostic.