As far as I’m concerned, angels are pretty much a mystery to us. I think that we have very limited knowledge of what goes on up there in heaven and we are just given glimpses of what angels have done here on earth at God's command. Further, we have no strong biblical reason to believe that we should be seeking out or messaging with them here and now. Yet, myriads of people believe in and pursue not only identifying them in their daily life, but they pursue communication with them as well. So, who is right in all of this? How do we go about finding the genuine “spin free” truth about these heavenly beings? Are they here on earth? Do they protect some or all of us? Are we supposed to get to know them?
Faith. It is awe inspiring in it transformative power, it is reassuring in its calming ability and it provides powerful contentment as we daily apply it. Faith is also one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented and maligned aspects in all Christianity. It is too easily confused with ignorant hope, and as a result, is easily dismissed by its detractors as a little fantasy in the limited minds of those who are believers. What is faith – really? How does it work? Is Christian faith the same as having trust in other people? Does it equate to the kind of trust you would have in a doctor or an attorney to act in your best interest? Are we given Christian faith as a gift or is it something that we have to develop?
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! As we go about the business of making our lives work, we can easily and frequently wind up looking at others around us with some level of envy. They seem to have it better than we do, they seem to be more stable or secure or more engaged than we are. These emotional and reactionary observations then give way to those gnawing feelings of “if only I had” or “if only I could” or “why does everything seem to always go their way? What we are left with is a discontented void in our hearts that yearns for fulfillment. How do we get there? As Christians, how do we fill that space with thoughts words and actions that are not envious or discouraged? How do embrace our experiences with a God-honoring and growth-oriented acceptance and outlook?
What is the business of Christianity? What are we here to do and how is it supposed to be accomplished? To cut through all of the rhetoric, what does it monetarily cost to follow Jesus – is it 10% of your income? More? How much of our Christian message, method and motivation is based – should be based - on our church's and our pastor's financial statements? As with any issue regarding Christian belief, there are countless ways we can interpret this answer. When Israel was established by God as His chosen nation, there was a definitive system put in place that actually supported the priesthood and the tribe of Levi. With such a clear path of tithes and support in place, many Christians firmly believe that we as Jesus’ disciples should follow that same path. On the other hand, many Christians believe that an entirely opposite approach is more appropriate. So, who is right?
Leadership is a key to success in almost every part of life. When it is done well, those being led not only engage, but they have a tangible opportunity to grow and even be transformed. When done poorly, those who should be led can become apathetic, lazy and directionless. Now, we need to be careful to not confuse one who truly leads with a manager (one who simply keeps the wheels turning) or with a motivational speaker, one who excites thought but rarely incites action. Real leadership is a hybrid of these things and so much more. When it comes to spiritual leaders, the stakes are much higher, and unfortunately the results are often very disappointing. The Bible clearly teaches us what spiritual leadership is supposed to look like – and what is teaches may be shocking to most of us!
BFF. Best Friends Forever. These three words conjure up an image of connectedness and loyalty that any one of us would want to be a part of. Sadly, it is an image that for many will only ever remain a thought and never become a tangible reality. Why is that? Why are so many of us on the outside looking in when it comes to true and profound friendship? At least one set of problems may begin with the way our social environment is structured. Social media actually teaches us to be acquainted at a distance, to be engaged without actual interaction and to be friends by clicking, posting, following or sharing – all done as we gaze into that little electronic screen. True friendship requires so much more...and true friendship returns so much more. Let’s look at some ways we can give and receive friendship – the old fashioned way – person to person. It just might make your life better!
The fountain of youth. The cure for cancer. A magic diet pill. We would all love to have these incredible “miracles” for whatever ails us. When Jesus walked the earth 2,000 years ago he, in a sense, was a life-changing elixir and a source of quick fixes as he healed the masses. Who wouldn’t have wanted to be near him, for wherever he went, godliness, healing and wisdom followed. Fast forward those two thousand years, and even though Jesus is no longer walking the earth as a man, much of Christianity is still claiming and teaching the healing of Jesus. Should they be? The Apostles and the early church were able to heal, so maybe we should ask why isn’t everybody doing it? Has something changed regarding Christian miracles and faith healing? If so, what and most importantly why?
No one ever wants to experience betrayal. It is easily one of the most devastating life events we can imagine. When we come face-to-face with it, it shocks, breaks and undermines much - if not all - of what we hold dear. For many, once we are betrayed it becomes a cancer that cannot be cured, a wound that will not heal and a darkness that will not relent. Betrayal devastates us because it violates trust...and trust is sacred. So, what do we do when we are betrayed? How do we cope? Is it even possible to rebuild our lives after such a disaster? And what about those who did the betraying? Is it possible for them to recover? How do we get to the point of ever trusting again?
Humanity is built for loyalty. We have wired within us a longing to be seen and accepted by others as trusted and important. We are also blessed with a deep desire to give allegiance and live with faithfulness to those whom we deem worthy of our fidelity. If you just stop and think about being loyal for a moment you will realize it permeates all of our life decisions. We gravitate towards those people and things to which we attribute comfort and security, as we stay away from those people and things which we see as sources of alienation or disappointment. So, what makes loyalty work? Are there conditions that should always be present when we give or receive it? What happens when we misplace our loyalty? How do we know that our chosen loyalties are good or even healthy?
Every Christian adheres to and celebrates the belief that Jesus died to pay for our sins. In the spirit of Jesus’ own words saying "there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved," we go about preaching the good news of the salvation made available through the life, death and resurrection of our Master. It is here that the questions and differences come into play. What does it mean that Jesus died for all? Does that imply an equal opportunity for each and every human being who ever lived to come to salvation? If so, then how does it work for the billions who have never had Jesus presented to them as a viable option for belief? If there is NOT an equal opportunity for all, then why not? What would possibly keep God from presenting a choice to every human being?