Our God is a God of order. Psalm 89:14 says that righteousness and justice are the very foundation of His heavenly throne. This means that all He does must be based in what is right and just. While some of us may look at this through fearful eyes, this is actually great news. It means God is and always will be dependable and trustworthy. If this is the case, why did God seem so over-the-top angry in the Old Testament? Why did He seemingly curse not only wrongdoers, but the generations that followed them as well? Did these “curses” of God work the same way the curses of our day are said to work? Were they a wishing of evil upon someone or something? Did God give anyone the authority to curse others?
The history and cultures of our world have brought us to where we are today. Many various cultures have fueled wonderful traditions, solid communities and exemplary progress. But many cultures have also brought us darkness, superstitions and strong desire to harm those they see as enemies. Enter the worldwide phenomena of curses. To quote from Wikipedia, “A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to one or more persons, a place, or an object.” We find the existence of curses all through human history and across a multitude of cultures. So, where do curses come from? Are they real? Should we be afraid of being cursed?
Christianity waits for the return of Jesus. Depending on your doctrinal beliefs, you may be looking for his return to bring incredible drama and life changing moments – things like earthquakes , destruction, anarchy and a rapture. While we can see scriptural evidence to support SOME of these things, we want to be careful about just viewing the return of Jesus through dramatic and traumatic events. The Bible gives us several prophesies that indicate many details about the method of Jesus' return. These details point to his return being revealed in a much more subtle and unnoticeable way. How can Jesus return in a covert manner and yet “every eye shall see him”? Isn’t this a blatant contradiction? Let’s look at the Scriptures and see how the harmony of these things shines through!
So, what does it mean to be a Christian, and how do I know if I am doing it right? What happens if I am doing it wrong? Is there a clear-cut standard? Will Jesus be disappointed in me if I fall short? Am I expected to change who I am, or develop who I am? Is my life supposed to be about everyone else, or do I just need to really love Jesus? Am I in line to get everything I want, or do I have to give everything up? How often do I have to go to church? Should I pursue a career? Do I have to study the Bible all the time? While defining success or failure as a Christian is not an exact science, it is a vitally important understanding to have. As we address these questions, our objective will be to find the biblical answers that can guide us to living our daily lives in accordance with God’s will and word through Jesus.
Never in the history of humanity have we had such a profound ability to communicate with others. From the palm of our hand, we can see and speak with individuals and groups all over the world at anytime of day or night. We can message, share and “like” in countless ways. Yet, never in the history of humanity have we been so disassociated, disconnected and dysfunctional. We are more polarized, more self-centered and more alone than we ever have been. So, how did we get here and how do we fix it? How do we find our way through this technology-driven world and actually connect with others? As Christians especially, what do we need to do to be connected with those around us in a way that can bless and encourage them?
To live a life as a disciple of Christ is to live a life of discipline and focus. We are walking in Jesus’ footsteps, and that means there are many things we need to do. After all, by his teachings and examples, Jesus wrote the book of our faith. So, what did Jesus expect from his followers regarding his gospel and a world full of unbelievers? When he ascended to heaven and gave us what is known as “the Great Commission,” what was he asking? Are we responsible to get the good news of the gospel message out, or are we responsible to get all the unbelievers in? If we are not sure of what he was instructing, how can we know if we are doing a good job?
Forgiveness is a tough thing. The times we need to forgive are usually the times we are in no mood to forgive. It can be easy to say,“I forgive you,” but are those words reflected in my thoughts, emotions and actions? Do I say those words out of mere obligation or to just end an uncomfortable exchange? What does it mean to forgive someone anyway? Does my forgiving someone who wronged me release them from the consequences of the wrong? Is it supposed to make life go on as if the wrong never happened? Am I still obligated to forgive if the person who wronged me doesn’t care about being forgiven? So many questions that can only be answered by understanding how the Bible defines forgiveness.
As Christians, we are constantly faced with the challenge of doing the right thing in a sinful world. We are bombarded with input and suggestions that can easily cloud the simplicity of what the right thing is. Once we get the right thing in focus, the next challenge is to do that right thing the right way. Often, the right way is NOT our natural or preferred approach. The problem? Our handling of what is right in God’s eyes is ALWAYS subject to Satan’s attacks. These attacks can come from external forces, but often his most destructive attacks come from our own fallen thinking and desires. Essentially, Satan can effectively lay siege to our spiritual lives by opening doors to try and accomplish spiritually right things in a humanly sinful way. We need a battle plan to defend against Satan!
The call of Christianity is unique. It is a call to sacrifice and humility, a call to the subduing of one’s own will in favor of God’s will. While there are many noble purposes in this world and many humble and dedicated people, a Christian is called to the ultimate purpose of eventually reconciling the world back to God. Even more unique than that, Christians are called to become a "new creation," based on the indwelling of the holy spirit. This is a grace-based privilege and something we need to have a clear understanding of, as well as the deepest respect for. Why does God’s holy spirit dwell within His chosen ones? What does it do for us, and more importantly, what doesn’t it do for us?
What are we supposed to do? What do we do when we have done something - either on purpose or by accident - that causes someone excessive harm or loss, or even tragedy? How do we go on, how do we face our family or those we have hurt? How do we live with ourselves? Crushing guilt can bring us into a place of dark and misery-ridden hopelessness. It can make our life feel joyless and pointless. The good news? As Christians, we have access to God through Jesus. While they won’t miraculously lift us out of the mire of crushing guilt, they will, if we let them, give us direction, strength and hope. We just need to be willing to do the necessary work in faith. So, how do we get there from here? We’ll start with the story of someone who has been here and is now walking this difficult road to acceptance.