Thursday, October 21, 2021

Only Jesus

 

I know one can't believe everything that gets posted on social media, but I have no reason to believe my son would lie about the results of a recent poll.

We don't know who was polled or what the exact questions were, but the published findings state that 60% of self-proclaimed, born-again American Christians between the ages of 18 and 39 believe that Buddha, Muhammed, and Jesus are all valid paths to salvation.

I liked Curtis' translation of that statistic. Saying that 60% of self-proclaimed, born-again American Christians between the ages of 18 and 39 believe that Buddha, Muhammed, and Jesus are all valid paths to salvation actually means that 60% of self-proclaimed, born-again American Christians between the ages of 18 and 39 are NOT Christians.

Make no mistake, all religions do not teach the same thing, being sincere is not the same thing as being right, and all paths do not lead to the same place.

Acts 4:10-12  -  Know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. [Jesus] is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.


That's what Peter said and that's what all true Christians must say.

Buddha did not sacrifice his body on a Roman cross.

Muhammed did not shed his blood to purify us from our sin.

Philosophers and philanthropists cannot transform us into representatives of righteousness.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...this kind of non-pluralistic message sounds narrow-minded and exclusive to the modern ear. But it is actually as expansive and all-inclusive as "whosoever will may come."


Thursday, October 14, 2021

How I Learned that Forgiveness Benefits the Forgiver

 

I was fired from my first youth ministry position.

Now, if you were a member of that church and you just read that sentence and you thought, "I thought you resigned," you would not be alone. Back in those days, when the leadership wanted a pastor to be gone, they allowed the pastor to tender a resignation. This allowed the departing pastor to avoid the stigma of Being Fired.

I survived the trauma, obviously, and went on to serve at three other churches before putting lock-ins permanently in my past.

The thing is, the one elder who was most responsible for my departure from that first ministry position stuck in my mind. Any time I heard a sermon or lesson about our need to forgive one another, my thoughts turned to him. It even got to the point where I couldn't enjoy the sitcom, Head of the Class, because one of the actors looked a lot like that one elder.

I finally realized that I was harboring a grudge against him and that I needed to heed the words of Jesus in Mark 11:25, "When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

I needed to forgive the man or I would be carrying around a burden of bitterness the rest of my life.

So, I wrote him a letter that explained how I felt he had personally undermined my work with the youth and manipulated the board of elders into getting rid of me. But I also said that I believed he thought he was doing what was best for the church and that I was no longer going to harbor any ill will toward him.

His response acknowledged that he had received my letter and that he had heard I was doing well at my new church. There were no words of apology or regret...and that was just fine with me.


Truth is...once you've forgiven someone, they no longer hold any power over your personal peace or sense of worth.


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Pray Where You Are

 

Have you ever listened to someone talk about something going on in their life, or read a particularly personal post on social media, and told the person you would pray for them?

Probably a pretty high percentage of people who read this blog can answer "Yes" to that.

Well...have you ever done that and then totally forgotten to ever actually...you know...pray for the person?

That would be one of my two definitions of "amenesia." (The other being when you pray for someone and then promptly forget about them or their need.)

In order to avoid promising to pray but then breaking that promise, I will usually stop whatever I'm doing and pray right then INSTEAD of promising to pray. In the context of a social media request for prayer, any comment I leave will be an actual prayer; not the words "I'm praying for you," but something that usually begins with "Father God...".


Truth is...while having a particular place and time set aside to talk with Yahweh is a good thing, let's not think that's the only time we can pray. I'm grateful for the following song by Lost Dogs, "Pray Where You Are." Make it so!