Love Wins

couple-260899_1280Love is exceedingly greater and infinitely deeper than the trivial hash-tags and memes that permeate our social-media culture. It is far more important than the puppy dog eyes, and instant connection we witness in the fantasy world of entertainment. Love is far more than a feeling. Love is far greater than action. Love is a person.

1 John 4:8 is clear, “God is love”. Everything good and perfect emanates not from human society, and certainly not from human feelings. All good things emanate from our Heavenly Father. Love, like everything else in the universe, can only be properly viewed in the light of God’s character. Love without God is like currency from a failed government. It is a counterfeit that lacks the authority to back up what is promised.

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Our Deepest Desires

dandelion-735814_1280Little Bobby eagerly awaits his Mother’s hug and thankful words after handing her a dandelion from the yard. Little Amy anxiously searches her Father’s face for approval following the presentation of her latest stick-family art. When the flower is placed in a vase on the dining room table and the drawing is given a prominent position in Daddy’s office, the children’s joy is made complete and overflowing. The children feel good about themselves. The pleasure they perceive from others, because of something they did, provides them with a pleasure of their own.

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The Deadliest Shooting in America

gettysburg-350052_1280During the debates over the Compromise of 1850, US Senator Sam Houston of Texas borrowed from the words of Jesus when he warned, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” The compromise comprised five separate bills that would temporarily ease the tension over the slavery issue by giving both sides a little of what they wanted. This salve applied to the publicly visible wound only delayed the inevitable disaster that ultimately resulted from the underlying cancer.

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Engaging the Real Stakes

people-1164926_1920A few short days ago in Orlando we, the American people, experienced another devastating rip in the fabric of our collective souls. The well formulated response templates were quickly populated by the various interest groups and the battle lines were clearly drawn around philosophical and political world-views. Just as fluidly, the ideological children of those interest groups leaped onto social media to defend their virtual turf and espouse their anger toward whoever and whatever threatened their position.

It appears that with each tragic salvo, facts are more and more quickly obscured by the overarching narratives that have been custom-tailored to fit each interest group’s agenda. True compassion for victims now almost immediately gives way to objectification, as the suffering are turned into poster children for carefully guarded world-views. In this crisis, for example, victims have been used to promote less guns by one group and more guns by another. Some have used the incident to indict the entire Muslim community while others have gone out of their way to say it had nothing to do with Islam at all.

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The Power of Pentecost

cereals-228726_1920In the midst of celebrations of natural harvest, Jesus promised a spiritual harvest that would be like none that had come before. He told the disciples to wait for the promise of the Father that would cloth them with power from on high. (Luke 24:49) All other work was to be placed on hold until they were equipped with what God had for them.

This coming Sunday we will celebrate Shavuot – though most us refer to it as Pentecost coming from the Greek signifying that it is celebrated 50 days from the celebration of First Fruits. While many churches celebrated Pentecost on May 15 this year, Jewish people around the world will celebrate it on June 12. While I am delighted to celebrate it twice, I feel that untying the date from Passover and First Fruits was a mistake.

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The Devolution of Common Sense

musician-349790_1920From “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down” to “God Bless the USA” Country music has always been a strange mix of heart-land Christian values and drunken rabble rousing. Over the past several years, however, several artists have started to completely sever the music from its Church roots and have begun to create a completely new genre of agnostic and even atheistic Country music. The dress has become increasingly provocative and the lyrics less and less rooted in traditional values.

I began thinking about these issues several years ago while attending a songwriting workshop in Nashville. A group of successful songwriters and producers were listening to new songs by several of us who were trying to break into the industry. One of the songs that was presented was ostensibly a Christian song, but it contained a large amount of New Age imagery. One of the panelist explained to the writer that while it had many good attributes, it would never work in the Christian market because of the nature of the lyrics. The writer replied something to the effect that he was not surprised as he wasn’t sure if “you Christians” would get it.” I remembered thinking at the time, if you aren’t one of us, then why are you trying to write and sell songs into the Christian market?

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The Muslim Jesus – Part 3

cross-295848_1920Will Jesus return to earth one day as King of kings and Lord of lords, or will He come back to let all the Christians know that they have been getting it wrong for the past two-thousand years? This question illustrates the large chasm that exists between what Christians and Muslims believe about Jesus’ Second Coming.

In part one, I wrote about what Muslims and Christians believe about the nature of Christ. If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to start there. You can read part 1 here.

In part 2 we looked at the beliefs pertaining to the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. You can find part 2 here.

Today, we will survey the beliefs Muslims and Christians have concerning the return and future destiny of Jesus.

It is impossible to encapsulate the beliefs of billions of people into a few short paragraphs. Likewise, neither Muslims nor Christians are homogeneous in their beliefs even within their own religion. We can however extrapolate the most commonly held views by the vast majority of each group. I hope that I will adequately achieve that goal here.

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