Thursday, February 20, 2014

What About the Guy on the Island?

We’ve all heard the question from doubting friends: “What about the person on some jungle island who has never heard of Jesus? Would God really send that person to hell?”

I have to admit, the question has sometimes left me stammering for a compassionate, yet biblical answer.

I know that God is just.

I know that He doesn’t desire that any should perish.

And I know that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father but by me.”

How are we to reconcile these truths?

God recently showed me a perspective I’d never seen before.

In Genesis 14, we read the story of Abraham’s nephew, Lot, being carried off following the battle between two groups of kings and their armies. Abraham defeats these kings to rescue his nephew and then receives an interesting visitor in verse 18:
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And praise be to God Most High,
    who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

We know very little of Melchizedek, king of Salem (Peace). Psalms tells us “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5-7 reveals that this is a reference to Christ.

Unlike the priestly line of Aaron, we know nothing of the genealogy of Melchizedek.

We know that he existed.

We know that he was a priest of the Most High God.

He was a priest of the Most High God living in the land of the Canaanites. It stands to reason, if he was a priest, that there were people he served as a priest. And those people worshiped the Most High God as well.

Too often we equate the fact that God chose to work through Abraham, and to share the story of how He worked through Abraham, with two ideas not supported by Scripture. First, we assume that because the story of Abraham and his descendants is the central theme of the Bible that God only worked through Abraham.

The reality is that while the Bible tells us all that we need to know about God, it does not tell us everything. In fact, John states in 7:25, “25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” 

God is omnipotent and omnipresent. He is capable of being with each of the 7 billion inhabitants of the earth at the same time, hearing their prayers, answering their prayers, and guiding their circumstances without breaking a sweat.

Our second erroneous assumption is that God worked through Abraham because he alone was uniquely obedient or devoted to God. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abraham and his family were pagans before God chose him: And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River[a] in old times; and they served other gods.”

God’s choice of a vessel is indicative of God’s power and grace, not the vessel’s worthiness.

If we know that God is not willing that any should perish, which we do, and we know that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone, and it is, we can be confident that God is able and willing to provide even the most remote people on earth with access to the saving knowledge of Christ. In many instances, He does this through the obedience of believers to the call of the mission field. But God is able to work in whatever way He chooses, through Melchizedek, or someone else. God is able to ensure that each person who has ever lived has the option of choosing to follow Him.

Because He is not willing that any should perish.

And because He is just.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

50 Valentine Ideas for Women

50 Valentine Ideas for Women
(Inspired by my friend John Nichols list for Men -  )

1.     Help him with his latest project by fetching tools as he asks for them (and knowing the difference between a screwdriver and a hammer).
2.     Buy his favorite munchies for the big game or make the Superbowl dip he loves, even when it isn’t the Superbowl, just because.
3.     Dust and vacuum his office when needed.
4.     Help with the yardwork.
5.     Write him love letters.
6.     Post love notes in places where he will find them. Ok, so this means putting them pretty much in plain sight or where he would have to move them to, for example, open his laptop.
7.     Sit next to him on the sofa.
8.     Clean up the mess he leaves in the bathroom sink without complaining about it.
9.     Hold his hand in public.
10.   Allow him to be your protector; don’t play the ‘feminist’ card when he is opening the door for you.
11.   Stash his favorite snacks somewhere the kids can’t find it, so they are on hand when he wants them.
12.   Fill a jar with notes of all the things you love about him or verses that you are praying over him.
13.   Read a book he recommended, and (try to) discuss it with him.
14.   Watch the game – and really pay attention and try to follow the action (without asking a bunch of questions like “Did the Cowboys just score a home run?”)
15.   Greet him with a kiss and hug many times daily, especially when leaving or arriving home.
16.   Say something complementary every day. Mean it.
17.   Get tickets to a game you know he’d love to see but would never splurge on himself. Send his buddy with him.
18.   Keep the debris from piling up in your car – take care of the things that you both have invested in.
19.   Be thoughtful and deliberate in your spending and stay on budget – do not waste money on frivolous things, especially if he is the sole provider.
20.   Listen to what is stressing him out at work – or accept if he doesn’t want to talk about it and don’t push for more information.
21.   Never give him a reason to doubt your faithfulness. Flirt ONLY with him.
22.   Support his hobbies and interests. Don’t insist on being with him every moment.
23.   Change the sheets on the bed.
24.   Make sure you don’t bash him in front of your friends – even jokingly – brag on how wonderful he is.
25.   Make breakfast. On a weekday.
26.   Dream together.
27.   Jump in to help shovel snow.
28.   Run to the store for that one item instead of sending him.
29.   Keep him company while he watches a golf tournament.
30.   Pray together.
31.   Step up to assist with his ministry at the church.
32.   Encourage his bro time. Set a tee time for him and a friend.
33.   Resist the urge to play the role of Holy Spirit. God can show him if he’s wrong.
34.   Think about how your behavior or words reflect on him. Do not do things that embarrass him.
35.   Exercise together.
36.   Take him away for a romantic weekend.
37.   Be nice to his family. Especially his mother. She is the first woman he ever loved.
38.   Show your children, by word and deed that their father has your love and respect. Honor him even when he isn’t present.
39.   Display his picture in your work space. Wear your wedding ring.
40.   Play his favorite board game.
41.   Keep your legs shaved. Even in the winter.
42.   Even when you’re making a basic meal, do your best. Make his favorites.
43.   Answer his call at work if possible. Call him back as soon as possible if it is not.
44.   Be there in the moment when you are with him. Turn off the cell phone or close the laptop when he’s talking to you.
45.   Watch your humor. If your friends are joking about men’s shortcomings, refuse to join in.
46.   Page through the photo albums together and remember the journey.
47.   Discuss the future. Plan and set joint goals.
48.   Offer your opinion when a decision is being made, present your reasoning completely and passionately, but once the decision has been made, support it whether you agree or not.
49.   Don’t ever remind him that you told him so.
50.   Live every day with the awareness that God has joined the two of you.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hello, my name is Felicia and I'm a sin-aholic...

Have you heard the expression, “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you are willing to pay?” Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but we delude ourselves if we think it’s simply a matter of ‘occasionally I slip up.’

Like an alcoholic, unable to stop at “just one drink,” we are addicted to sin. With each little white lie, angry response, or lustful thought that passes without confession or repentance, the gravitational pull of sin grows within us. It drags us downward into behavior that once would have seemed unthinkable.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (a book written to a group of people who definitely understood the progressively destructive nature of sin) provides wise counsel to the sin-aholic:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

There is no sin so minor that we can shrug it off. No offense to God so petty that we need not see it for what it is: a stripe on Christ’s back, a thorn in his brow, Judas’s kiss (Sidewalk Prophets, He Loves Me Anyway).

Because it is not about that one sin alone. We must recognize that one sin, if not dealt with, will lead to another and another. As believers in Christ, we are not immune from the pull of sin. We haven’t arrived. We aren’t cured. And we won’t be cured until we see Jesus face to face.

Fortunately, the pull of God is far greater than the pull of sin. As we confront each sin, repent and turn toward God, we experience greater and greater freedom from the deadly draw of temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit in us as believers in Jesus Christ. Our victory comes not in a single battle, but in a million daily choices to turn away from sin.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7