What is the gospel? I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Is it the fact that God loves everybody? Is it loving our neighbor—being the good Samaritan? Is it the message of salvation that Jesus died on the cross for our sins? And where does repentance fit in?
While Merriam-Webster defines “gospel” as “the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation,” there is no single Biblical passage that clearly defines the word. However, bits and pieces appear throughout Scripture. Continue reading
Dylan was right. “The times they are a changin’.” One change is that Muslims now make up about 1% of the US population—about 3.3 million people. That number is expected to double by 2050. More and more, our neighbors and coworkers, will be Muslims. Will they be our friends as well? What are we doing to reach out to this growing minority?
In an effort to better understand a Muslim worldview, I’ve been reading a series of books on Islam. Ignorance breeds fear and misunderstanding. I recently wrote about one book, Wholly Different, by Nonie Darwish, that I found informative but largely lacking in love and compassion. Well, the book I just finished is filled with love and compassion. If I had to recommend one book on the subject, this would be it! And it’s not just me—Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus won the Christian Book Award for both “Best New Author” and “Best Non-Fiction” of 2015. Continue reading
Two weeks ago I asked, “With all the promises of suffering God gives us, why would anyone in their right mind become a Christian?” We don’t follow Jesus to receive lots of money, or lots of “stuff”—houses, cars, clothes, etc. We don’t follow Jesus to make life go smoothly. So why do we make Him our Lord? Today I hope to answer that question, at least in part.
In truth, the benefits are tremendous—they’re just not always tangible. Instead of receiving material goods, we receive a Person. And not any person, but the God of the universe, the God who created us, the God who is perfect in every way.
I debated a long time about this book review. Should I write it? Should I post it?
The book has issues. The author often repeats herself, making the book much longer than necessary. The pain and anger that permeated her early life can be seen in her forceful and unapologetic approach. Her conclusions are certainly not politically correct. Many who read this book will be upset by her claims, and I hate making people upset. Yet, author Nonie Darwish presents both information I was ignorant of, and a viewpoint that I had not seen before. I think it’s important that others hear these facts and consider them carefully. Actually, I think it’s very important.
I’ve noticed a problem in the American church. Well, really there are lots of problems, but one has stuck out recently, and I’m as guilty as anyone else.
Somehow, we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that being a Christian is all about me. Being a believer—“following the rules”—is supposed to make my life better. For example, we believe that when it comes to money, we just need to follow Biblical principles and our families will prosper. Or, we believe that God will smooth the way and eliminate any problems or hardships from our lives.
You’ve heard it before:
- All religions are the same.
- Suffering is proof that God doesn’t exist.
- Christians are so narrow minded!
- Religion does more harm than good.
- A loving God would never send anyone to hell.
- Science has disproved Christianity.
- The Bible isn’t a reliable document.
You’ve run into these ideas in books or articles. They’ve issued from the mouths of friends or family members. You might even agree with some, or all, of them. Skepticism and atheism are oh, so trendy. Entire networks of blogs are devoted to dissing God and religion, usually with plenty of snide comments and a great degree of sarcasm. (I’ve often wondered why people get so snarky when it comes to criticizing other people’s beliefs.)
Christian church bombed in Nigeria. Muslim convert disowned by family.
We read the headlines, and try to imagine, but it’s very difficult to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. We love to complain about the demise of Christianity’s cultural acceptance here in the U.S., but we really have no idea what it’s like to lose our home, our family, or our life for our faith.
One way to overcome this barrier is to read Christian biographies. The dialogue may be fictionalized, but the stories are true. As we immerse ourselves in the book, we begin to identify with the main character. What happens to them? How do they react? How would we react in the same circumstances?