In speaking about the end times, Jesus told his disciples, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive (or ‘lead astray’) even the elect, if that were possible” (Matt 24:24, BSB).
Now I have never been big on getting caught up in end time prophesies and often find it funny that so many Christians live in constant fear trying to point out who might be the Antichrist as though to try and stop him (after all, aren’t we promised it’s going to happen no matter what?), but when it comes to the end times there are two questions that fascinate me:
1) Why do so many END TIMES prophesy sites always resort to using such terrible fonts???
2) How is it that the elect could actually be led astray?
After all the “elect” are the chosen ones, the faithful followers of God, the ones who have devoted their lives to being disciples of the real Christ. It includes the kind of people who know their Bibles backwards and forwards and can name every book without having to sing a song and the kind of people who sickeningly get up at 4am every single morning to study and pray.
It includes the leaders you’ve come to know and respect, the ones you rely on to separate the truths from the lies, and the kind of people who lament about the continual deception going on in the world. How is it that they get deceived? Continue reading
Before discussing the main point of this article, let me be clear up front:
There are no other writings that have had greater impact on my life than the collection of writings we commonly refer to as “the Bible.” *
Though I’m as human as everyone else and often get too busy, too tired, etc. I try to make it a discipline to read portions of the Bible – whether it be a chapter, a paragraph, or sometimes even a single word or sentence if I get hung up on it – every single day. No other work have I read as many multiple times.
Single readings have literally altered my life. A single verse forever changed my career direction, certain verses have gotten me through some of the most desperate, hopeless-seeming situations, and a single sentence once literally caused me to quit my job, uproot my family (back when we had two small children) and move to another state without a new job or specific place to live.
I do not regret any of those decisions or moments because to this day I have no doubt that God was behind them and specifically led me to those verses.
And though I think there is much carelessness and confusion when we use words such as “inerrant,” “infallible” and “authoritative” in relation to the Bible, and though frequently passages have been interpreted outside of culture, context, and literary form – often abusively – I do believe there is something miraculous about how the writings have been preserved for us through all these years to be able to read today.
I do believe there is power behind the words.
And I do not take lightly the fact that there are people out there in parts of the world who would give anything just to have a copy and that many have died just for possessing it or for trying to get copies to people who don’t.
With that made clear up front then let me say it…
I do not believe that something is true because the Bible says. Continue reading
Everyone has one of those stories: the kind of strange, true-life events you tell at a party that people find hard to believe. This is mine.
Though I confess some of the specific details over the years have escaped me, I assure you the story itself is real.
Back in the 90’s I worked as a freelance cameraman for a company that videotaped weddings. One weekend my fellow freelancer David and I set out for what we thought would be a typical day of: capture the bride and groom individually getting ready, front and back camera setup for the ceremony, tape the photography session without getting in the still photographers’ way (or on their nerves because you’re taking away from their business), capture the bride and groom entering the reception, first dance, cutting the cake, interviews with sometimes obnoxiously drunk people congratulating the bride and groom, and get the final moments of people pelting them with rice or bird seed and watching them drive off.
In and out…boom…we’re done. I hate to admit it, but what was often a very special day for some was pretty formulaic for us.
But this day was different. Continue reading
I hate to break it to you but it’s true. Though, thou may protest much, and though the idea of it may defy every notion of freedom you believe in, there is, in fact, a supreme dictator and that dictator has complete control of your life.
What’s more is that even though we dislike the idea of our individual freedoms being taken, we protest very little of the actual rules that this dictator imposes on us and, in truth, often welcome them.
And I’ll prove it. Continue reading
One of my more memorable experiences with the “supernatural” or the “miraculous” occurred early in my Christian walk. I was struggling with some overwhelming issues late one night when I heard God tell me to “go out to the church and pray.”
This was not just any church; it was a beautiful church that sat up on a hill overlooking Lake Travis in Austin. Ironically, I had never actually attended this church, but had several times gone out there to pray, sitting in my car in the parking lot. It was also the very parking lot (as shared in 2 of my previous posts: “Why I Was Kicked Out of Vacation Bible School” and “Losing My Religion”) where for the first time I heard the “voice” of God.
Now God was calling me back to that same place, presumably to hear his voice again. Continue reading
So here’s the truth: the god that I have believed in for much of my life does not exist. Yes, it’s true. And there’s a good chance that the god you have believed in does not exist either.
But let me explain a little bit about this god I have believed in:
First, this god that I have believed in does not allow suffering…well, maybe he does for others, especially bad people and those who live in other parts of the world, but certainly not for me. But this god obviously does not exist because I have definitely experienced my share of suffering – maybe not nearly as bad as others, but enough to occasionally make my life miserable and difficult at times…and much of it since I became a believer. And anything less than the most comfortable existence for me is certainly too much; so my god of “no suffering” does not exist. Continue reading
(Part 1 of 3 of God, the Church, and LGBT)
In my last post titled “God Really Likes You, But You Suck: The Confusing Message of Grace” I shared about the subject of God’s favor. If you have not read it already I strongly encourage you to do so before reading on. It will make a lot more sense related to the theology behind what I am about to say and potentially answer a lot of your questions.
In summary of it: we have confused our understanding of grace, which is often defined as God’s “unmerited favor” toward us. It is not that one must do something wrong first, thus unmeriting themselves, before undeserved favor is offered; instead, it is favor freely given that never had to be merited in the first place. Continue reading
Photo by Melissa Baldwin
“♫ Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me ♪” We sing about it all the time. “♪ Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin ♫” We talk about it. “By grace alone you have been saved.” And we offer it to each other. “Grace to you.” It is one of the most prominent messages in the church. But do we really know what it means?
The Greek word for grace, χάρις (charis), is most often defined as “favor” and sometimes as “kindness.” It has the implication of favor that is freely extended – and thus often defined as “unmerited favor.”
So if God really favors you a lot that should make us really feel good right? But do we?
Last week, blogger and former evangelical Christian turned atheist, Neil Carter, tweeted:
The Helix Nebula in infrared *
Imagine with me for a moment that the Universe called out to you. Would you follow it? And what I mean by the Universe is all that is out there: the billions of stars, the planets, the super novas, the galaxies, everything that is within them and all that you could possibly imagine, as far as the almost infinite, expanding Universe can go. And further yet, the laws that are behind all that exists in the Universe. What if it called out to you in one big unifying voice? Would you tune your ears to listen to it? Continue reading
(Welcome to my blog part 2 of 2)
Yes, it’s true. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t exactly a rebel growing up. About the most rebellious thing I did as a kid was, when upset with my parents, I would go into their bedroom and gently lay their bedside lamps on the ground so that it would look like I was so angry I had gone in and knocked them over. Well, what do you expect? I didn’t exactly want to break them. But I could just imagine the anguish they experienced upon discovering the lamps. “What have we done??? Where have we gone wrong??? Our otherwise gentle, perfect son has gone on a rampage. We’ve lost him forever!!! Well, at least he didn’t break them.” Continue reading