Friday, May 13, 2011

The Controversy of Grace

What is more controversial than books that lay down the exact times and events of Armageddon? What is more feared than blunt accusations of evil incarnations? What needs to be kept secured and locked up more than judgmental finger waving and classist exclusivism?

The truth is nothing has become more controversial than the love and mercy of God. I have now visited four Christian book stores that have refused to carry Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins because it has carried too much uproar among some circles. Opponents of the book call it universalistic. I have not yet read the book, therefore, I cannot formulate an argument for or against its wide doors to eternal life. However, I find it odd that John Hagee’s books on the Armageddon and the evil Muslim world are considered more Christian in Character than a book about Jesus looking to save everyone he can.

I find it troubling that Joel Osteen’s book about wealth and health guaranteed through faith being thought more Biblical, than a God offering eternal life through grace.

It makes me frustrated and downright sad that those who follow Christ are more known for what we prohibit than what we freely offer. Jesus’ words “they will know you are Christians by your love” still holds true to this humble believer, but I find myself asking if I am in the minority?

I never like to sugar coat the gospel of Christ. Jesus did not fear telling people that it would cost them everything to chase after the Messiah. However, if I only have one opportunity with someone, if I have only one message or one word to get across to someone about the power of Christ and his message, if I were given just one small 140 character tweet, I would not spend it dividing up who I believe make eternal life residency and those who do not. Instead I would spend the time sharing the enormity and cleansing power of the cross. I would share John 3:17 that Jesus is not looking to condemn but to save, and I would share my time, money, food, and life as a sign of his transforming love.

The truth over Bell’s controversial book is based on our fear of an open gospel means a universal gospel. Eugene Peterson says it best “There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.”

Let us stop fighting on this public stage about who has the keys t the kingdom of God, and let us stop our dogmatic tug-o-war match, and let us simply allow the controversial grace of Jesus Christ heal.

But if you had learned what this means I desire mercy not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent - Jesus (Matthew 12:7)

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Every Man's Battle" Book Review

Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker attacks the subject of pornography and adultery. Pornography is a subject that has moved in our society from shameful to acceptable. According to the authors, these sins have become a great problem in men’s relationships with their spouse, family, and God. Arterburn and Stoeker believe that it is possible to turn men away from adulterous relationships as well as pornography. The authors even believe that men can achieve a sexual purity that involves no looking, lusting, or thinking sexually about other women besides one’s own wife. The authors believe this is possible as they speak both with wisdom and personal experience. The book is full of examples and personal experiences of men struggling and overcoming sexual temptation.

The book takes a long time drawing out the problem, (so long for the reader that it almost completely lost my attention) but the content in the heart of the book is useful for any and certainly as the title suggests, every man. With prayer, encouragement, and a few scriptural truths, Every Man’s Battle lays the groundwork to equip men to become sexually pure. Along the way the reader is remind of the several other people from all walks of life had struggled with the problem of sexual sin to varying degrees. This book is certainly worth reading no matter where one stands in their relationships with women! Arterburn and Stoeker are absolutely prophetic when they express that no little amount of sexual impurity is innocent or acceptable, but man can and are expected to have pure eyes, a pure heart, and pure intentions.

A free copy of this book was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for review purposes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama's Death Made no Peace (the hardest part about following Jesus)

What does this all mean? Undoubtedly justice has been served, but what are we celebrating? Are we now a safer more peaceable world without one prowling terrorist? Can a bullet be strong enough to stop terrorism? Can bombs prevent evil from happening, and can violence ever rid the world heinous acts?

The truth is even now we are alert that we have made ourselves, for the time being, more susceptible to terrorist attacks. Just because Osama is no longer counted among the living does not mean Satan will cease to lay his attacks. Someone else will fill the void of the “most wanted.” Peace can never be won through violent means. The more that are killed to create peace the less room there will be for peace. The death of Hitler did not create everlasting peace, the death of Saddam did not create everlasting peace, and the death of Osama will not create everlasting peace. There is only one death that has ever brought about everlasting peace and that is the death we celebrated on Easter Morning.

War, violence, and retaliation are not powerful enough to stop evil. Jesus proposed a new way, a new weapon, and a new method to change the world and make everlasting peace. He showed that loving your enemies was how we lay down the pavement for diplomacy. He thought us that sacrificial death can erase the sins of many, and that a surprising resurrection would be the only true way to make things new!

May you not hate your enemies! May you be a true follower, a disciple, a believer in the Christ and obey his command to love even your enemies. If you want to belong to the man who made peace possible, if you want to reside in an everlasting home, if you want to expertise true fearless love and acceptance, than follow the way of the Son of God and love your enemies and transform the world!