Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

“Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good.” ~Tullian Tchividjian

As a Christian, there is a certain question that is bound to arise when speaking with someone who has recently encountered tragedy. I’ve had this question asked of me by both people who’ve professed faith in Christ, and those who’ve claimed to possess no faith whatsoever (though, in a previous post, I’ve pointed out how everyone has faith). In a culture that frequently attempts to ignore the realities of evil, sin, and death; when encountering circumstances where we must—it leaves us having to ask ourselves some difficult questions. This question always seems to be one of them: Continue reading

Whole-Hearted Discipleship

Discipleship Tested

Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions (Luke 14:25-33, NASB).

Scripture regularly mentions Jesus surrounded by crowds. I’d suspect that these were large crowds. Yet, considering the regularity with which crowds surrounded Him, I’m left with a question:

While there are often crowds, how many from these crowds are His followers?  Continue reading

A Clear Conscience

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way [Christianity] which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men (Acts 24:14-16, NASB).

No Regrets.

This has always been a personal goal: to live my life without regrets. There are definitely decisions that I’ve made during my life that weren’t the best in hindsight. And I’d call “bollocks (i.e. nonsense)” on anyone who suggests that they’ve never made a poor decision during theirs. Yet, I’ve been fortunate. I carry few regrets—at least, based on how I define regret. Continue reading

A Well-Placed Faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB).

Whether we acknowledge it, we all possess faith. We all worship someone (e.g. ourselves) or something. For most of us—possibly all of us—we worship that which we perceive as truth; thereby, placing our faith in it. Our faith in that truth is what establishes our beliefs; subsequently, driving our actions.

How does it establish our beliefs?

Glad that you asked 😉 Continue reading

The Narrow Path

Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label ‘Christian’ or because some people persist in calling us a ‘Christian nation.’ ~Francis Chan

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I’ve come to believe that how we respond to our circumstances—whatever they may be—is highly correlated with our identity. Continue reading

The Weight of the Cross

“We sinned for no reason but an incomprehensible lack of love, and He saved us for no reason but an incomprehensible excess of love.”
~Peter Kreeft, Jesus-Shock

Not too long ago, a friend of mine commented on how it seems as though I’m always wearing a necklace. The comment caught me off-guard; their observation truly came from out-of-the-blue. The regular adornment of a necklace doesn’t seem all that noteworthy to me; particularly given how little of my necklace is typically exposed. It’s never worn outside of my other attire (this is intentional), leaving only a small portion of the chain visible. An inch by half-inch tungsten carbide cross hangs from the chain; but again, rarely do others see it. Continue reading

Peace through Love and Forgiveness

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”                    ~ Mother Teresa

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”                    ~ Francis of Assisi

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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UNDERSTANDING PEACE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
At Sunday school a few weeks ago, our young professionals group examined the biblical meaning of the word “peace.” After reviewing definitions from a number of sources, and considering these definitions against scripture, we arrived at a succinct definition:

Unity absent conflict

While not typically included within a secular definition, unity is an essential component of biblical peace. When realizing that unity is necessary for biblical peace, we should become aware that how we pursue such peace differs from the traditional, secular definition of the word. While some people may seek “peace and quiet” by avoiding others and finding environments absent noise and disturbance, biblical peace cannot be achieved in this manner. For Christians, biblical peace is about establishing healthy relationship with God and others. Moreover, it requires believers to be at peace with all people (including non-believers) as much as it depends on them (Romans 12:18).

The Christian understanding of God’s being is emblematic of biblical peace. Christians believe in a Trinitarian God—three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one God—existing in perfect harmony. God is never at conflict with Himself. As sinners, the same cannot be said of our relationship with Him. Continue reading

Identity (In Christ)

“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity” ~ Erik Erickson, Psychologist

“[Socialization] is an interactive process through which we make decisions about our relationships, our interpretation of information that comes to us through interaction, and what we will say and do. It is through these decisions that we influence our own lives and the social worlds in which we participate.” ~ Jay Coakley, Professor

“Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.” ~ Henri Nouwen, Clergyman

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Introduction
As a Christian, I find myself frustrated with the world at times—the frequency of which seems to increase as I get older. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’d like to believe that the increasing frequency of my frustration is a sign of a growing spiritual maturity—questionable, I know. Often, that frustration revolves around hypocritical action, though it’s not isolated to secular society. Regularly, my observation of such behavior also includes those professing religious affiliations; including Christians. Sometimes, however, I find myself to be one of those hypocritical Christians who frustrate me… Continue reading

Discomfort: Leaving Our Cocoons For Christ

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” ~ Pope John Paul II

“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” ~ Luke 9:57-58

INTRODUCTION
I returned from a trip to Virginia earlier this May in a poor state of mind. During the long drive back to Georgia, my thoughts wandered; pondering circumstances that I have no control over. For most of the week following, I struggled with anxiety… Continue reading

Names that Define: Communicating Christ

“Why don’t the names of Buddha, Mohammed, Confucious offend people? The reason is that these others didn’t claim to be God, but Jesus did.” ~ Josh McDowell, author

Introduction
As I have matured (hopefully) in my faith as a Christian, I have become ever more fascinated by the influence and meaning of names within the Holy Bible. Previously, I have shared my thoughts about the relationship between naming someone or something and possessing authority over that person, place, or thing. Names within scripture, however, appear to often have layers upon layers of meaning. This should not be surprising as we grow in our faith and continue to delve into the depths of scripture. Pursuing God through His Word is like peeling off layers of an infinitely large onion–causing tears of joy. Continue reading

Belief and Action

Originally posted on Facebook—June, 2014

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” ~John 15:7 NASB

“Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” ~Romans 4:20-21 NASB

For years, I have written notes sharing my thoughts on subjects that I believe to be essential within biblical teachings—often returning to topics repeatedly. Such topics include: love, trust, faith, hope, humility, forgiveness, sacrifice, truth, pain, and suffering. These topics arise repeatedly throughout scripture, giving credence to their importance. As should be the case given such context, I try to look at these topics through the lens of Jesus—all things pointing to the cross. A Christian’s convictions should be centered on the crucifixion and resurrection; otherwise, there is no foundation for a Christian belief system. Scripture tells us to believe in God’s character, His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His sovereignty, His consistency, His omniscience and omnipotence. We are told to have faith in Him—to believe in Him; centering ourselves on Him. We are to possess an attitude of thankfulness and reverence towards God…an attitude of trust. There is good reason for this, when you understand how vital it is in guiding your path:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Belief is a powerful ally…or enemy. There is much to suggest—within both a biblical and secular context—that belief strongly influences individuals’ attitudes, establishing their behavioral intentions, which often leads to the actual intended behavior. In the 1970s, psychology professors Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) proposed the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), which states just that: beliefs > attitudes > intentions > behavior/actions. More precisely, the theory suggests that individuals’ behaviors are dependent on both their attitudes about the behavior, and how others will react if they actually perform the behavior (i.e. take action). Continue reading