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For Your Consideration 7.12.13

I received “God’s Favorite Place on Earth” by Frank Viola today! Very excited to dig in and offer a review in the coming days.

In the meantime,here are a couple of blog posts published at Desiring God that challenged and encouraged me this week:

If you have not read anything by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, you really must. This piece will give you a taste of not only her story, but her exceptional writing style. An excerpt:

The Bible is not some pragmatist’s paradigm. It is the double-edged sword that chiseled truth into my stony heart, rendering it new and with it, recreating me as a new creature in Christ, a daughter of the King. I have no personal sexual orientation to call my own after Christ chisels my heart anew — and neither do you. We have Christ orientation, an alien identity to which we claim no rights. Do we struggle with sin? Yes. Is temptation a sin? No. What distinguishes temptation from sin? Temptation clobbers you from the outside and lures you to do its bidding. Sin makes temptation a house pet, gets it a collar and leash, and is deceived to believe that it can be restrained by impositions of civility. What you do with temptation reveals Who owns your heart. How you talk about other people’s sin patterns reveals Who owns your heart.

Read the rest here in her post called, DOMA and the Rock.

The second, written by Jonathan Parnell, is Three Things We Should Know About God. And I confess, “Creator” was one of my three. Think of three things that come to your heart and mind when you think of God then read this post. I promise you will be thankful and encouraged. Here’s a sample:

When you think of God, do you think happy? Or do you think stern? Sadly, it is common for us to think of God as a negative caricature would depict him. Do you think of him frowning? Is he seething with anger like a capricious despot? Or do you see him who is glad at heart — glad in the glory of his Son and the communion that they share? Do we see him as the Father who said of Jesus, with no hesitation, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17)? Do we see him as the Father who delights to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32)? Do we see him as the God who overflows with joy when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7)?

So long as sin exists, he feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11). But at heart — who he is in himself — God is happy. To grasp this truth will work wonders in our souls.

Keep feeding your mind and soul with GOOD things. Drink deeply from God’s rich word, and never stop learning, seeking, growing, thirsting, following hard after Him.

Blessings on you this weekend!

 

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All Religions Are Alike!

Are all religions alike? Are there many ways to get to heaven? Do all religions essentially believe in the same God? This summer our pastor is taking us through a series on “Getting to Know God.” This last Sunday he covered the doctrine of the Trinity — the wonderfully mysterious fact that God is One God yet three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. I’m not going to go into this doctrine here, but focus on one thing that probably hits home for a lot of Americans who call themselves Christian: What differentiates a Christian from a person of another religion, and does it matter?

Christianity is the only religion that has, at the very core of its doctrine, the belief in the Triune God, and especially that Jesus Christ is God and the Son of God. That He came to earth as a human, lived a perfect (“sinless”) life, died a horrific death specifically for the purpose of taking our place, sacrificing His own blood so that a relationship can be restored between us and God, rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father, acting as our Mediator. To my knowledge, the God of the Christian faith is the only God who seeks out a relationship with the people He created. This is very different from other religions.

In a nutshell, here are what other major religions believe:

  • Mormonism: Sees God as the Supreme Being of the universe. However, He gradually acquired that position over a long period of time by living a perfect and righteous life. God the Father has a body (flesh and bones). Views Jesus and Satan as spirit brothers and sons of God. Every male can eventually become a god.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses: God is a single being, not a Trinity. He is not all-knowing or present everywhere. Jesus was created; He is a lesser God. He is Michael, the Arch-Angel.
  • Islam: God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They believe in a strict monotheism. Jesus is not God, He was just a messenger, second to Muhammad in importance.
  • Hinduism: Recognize a single deity, and view other gods and goddesses as manifestations or aspects of that supreme God. There are 330 million of these gods (give or take a few).
  • Buddhism: There is no God. By following specific paths, and through reincarnation, one can eventually reach “Nirvana.”
  • Bahai: Believe in a single God who has repeatedly sent prophets into the world through whom he has revealed the “Word of God.” Prophets include Adam, Krishna, Buddha, Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus), Mohammed, The Bab and Baha’u’llah.
  • Taoism: There is no God to hear prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation. Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life. A believer’s goal is to harmonize themselves with the Tao.
  • Shintoism: Believe in the “Kami” (many deities). All human life and human nature is sacred. Morality is based upon that which is of benefit to the group. Ancestors are deeply revered and worshipped.
The Trinity is what makes Christianity, Christianity.
The Trinity is what makes the Truth, the Truth.

 

If we cannot believe what the Bible says about Who God is, if we cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God and very God Himself, then we cannot believe anything much in the Bible. Either Jesus is God, worked miracles (including raising the dead), was raised from the dead Himself, or He is not. Because Christians believe He is Who He says He is, we also believe His Words: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

There is but one way to God and that is through His Son. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are brought to this saving knowledge. This is what sets Christianity apart from any and all other religions. Faith in Christ is transforming and faith in anything else is alarming.

 

I truly love my Mormon, JW, Hindu and Muslim friends. I love my friends who don’t believe in anything, and those who believe in other things altogether. Because Christians believe the Bible tells the truth, they share this truth with those they love — it is not a “let me hit you over the head with this, you pagan!” message, but it IS a message that is often hard for people to hear. People don’t want an exclusive message. But we don’t get to make up our own religion and we don’t get to rewrite the Bible. So we share the truth in love and pray that eyes and hearts are opened and lives are transformed.

 

All religions are not alike. Dig deeper. Know what you believe.

 

(Here is what I believe.)

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Belief, God's Word, Jesus, Salvation

 

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