No Apologizing

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Tag Archives: Life After Death

Are Christians Sociopaths?


Are Christians, particularly Christians in America, sociopathic?

What started as an off the cuff remark I made during a recent sermon at my Church (Legacy Church, in Kansas City, MO) has begun to legitimately haunt me (you can hear the sermon here)…

Christian… Sociopath… These are two words that on the surface seem completely incompatible.  Acts 11:26 tells us that the term “Christian” was first used of disciples in the Antioch church.  This was initially used as an insult in that people were saying they were “little Christs”.  In other words, they were just like Jesus, who because of His great love for people, voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the world. On the other hand – the dictionary defines sociopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” Another says that “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”

How can someone who is living a life that is reminiscent of a man whose critics admit was at least a good person and moral teacher exhibit behavior or attitudes that are patently selfish and apathetic to others? However, in spite of the apparent contradiction, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer is closer to “yes” than any of us who call ourselves a Christian would like to admit… And it tears me up inside… Let me allow this clip from Atheist Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette to begin to explain what I mean:

“How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” There is the rub… Way too many “Christians” fall in a daily routine and are comfortable to coast through life without a broken heart for their friends and family who, if what we believe is really true, are destined for an eternity without God… Well… to be honest that is the essence of selfishly living life “without concern for the effects of their behavior [or lack thereof] on others”, isn’t it???

We certainly shouldn’t be comfortable with it… But sadly I think that may just be the problem… our comfort.  Because we are relatively comfortable, especially in comparison to most of the rest of the world, we just get into auto pilot and unintentionally slip into apathy.  It’s not a conscious thing, but it occurs anyway… and it’s tragic.

Penn said “There comes a point where I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” Because people’s eternities are so important, our “social conscience” should remind us that we have a “moral responsibility” to love those around us enough to take the risk of offending them or losing a friendship to in a sense “tackle” them by sharing the truth about Jesus

Let’s pray to God for forgiveness for our sociopathic tendencies and begin to live a life that actually reflects our name-sake, Jesus… and refuse to scoot through life uncaring and unaffected by the many people we know who do not yet have a relationship with Him.

BOY, it’s HOT!!!!


The heat wave that is sweeping the nation is definitely brutal… My A/C is having a VERY hard time keeping up… When Robert and I spoke earlier today he mentioned to me that this reminded him of how urgent we ought to be about the souls of our friends, family and neighbors… He said: “If you think it’s hot now… Imagine how bad it’s gonna be in Hell, where the heat never lets up!” What a sobering reminder…

Revelation 20:12-15 says, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Later on we’re reminded elsewhere (Rev. 14:11 and 20:10) that this torment is forever and ever… OUCH… Let’s take a cue from my friend and let this oppressive heat help remind us that we are called to the ministry of reconciliation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)… Let’s get to it… Let’s show them how to get permanent/eternal A/C!!

One Quick Thought on George Steinbrenner


George Steinbrenner, former owner of the New York Yankees, passed away earlier this week. He is credited with turning around the fortunes of the Yankee organization. His passing was a very sad thing for all of Major League Baseball.

I heard a quote from Steinbrenner once: “Nothing is more important to me than winning… Winning is everything.” This made me think of Romans 8:37 “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” It is not a right mental attitude, shrewd business dealings, awesome strategy, or excellent scouting that makes us such great winners – it is Jesus… I wonder if Mr. Steinbrenner ever became a winner in this way… I certainly hope he did.

I have no idea if he ever gave his heart to Christ, but there is one thing I can guarantee: If Mr. Steinbrenner was able to come back from the grave and offer everyone one piece of advice for becoming a true champion he’d say this: “If you do not know Jesus… Get to know Him – Today! If you do know Him – Live for Him each and every day!”

US vs. Algeria – US Wins in Dramatic Fashion


WOW! What a game! If you missed it here’s a quick recap… The US dominated play against Algeria but didn’t score the winning goal until the “added time” at the end of the 2nd half. The Yanks HAD to win to advance because England was winning their match against Slovenia… This was a nail biter for sure.

For much of the match it seemed like the US was going to be robbed of a win on a mysteriously disallowed goal, much like they were against Slovenia earlier in the tournament.  Plus, in spite of their best efforts and spectacular opportunities, goals were just not finding the net… However, during the added time Donovan perfectly placed a ball that weakly ricocheted off the Algerian goal keeper after a fabulous US counter striking run on goal. I literally jumped out of my seat!

Like the last dramatic match, this one got me thinking about spiritual stuff… Immediately after the goal was scored Matthew 20:1-16 popped into my head. This is a parable that Jesus told that demonstrates that as long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to accept Him and enter the Kingdom of Heaven (by placing your faith and trust in Jesus – click HERE to learn how to do that). Like the US, it doesn’t matter how many opportunities you’ve let slip away in the past… the important thing is that you do it! However, unlike the US, who only faced elimination from a tournament, this decision is the difference between Eternal Life in Heaven and Eternal separation from God in Hell.

Now, some of you may be thinking something like… “I’ll wait until the last minute and accept Christ then, cuz I wanna have my fun now.” That is a dangerous game to play… The US didn’t know in advance how much added time there would be at the end of the match (if any)… That is why they valiantly tried to score all game long – and their desperation became more and more evident as time elapsed – they knew England’s score… they knew that they had to score as well. Additionally, they didn’t know how many scoring opportunities they would get… Similarly, none of us knows how much time we have left here on Earth… nor do we know how many opportunities we are going to have to trust in Jesus… But, like the US, we know that time is running out… God’s patience with you is not leis e fare. In fact, the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Consider this, Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” But He won’t knock forever… Won’t you open your heart to Him? If you do the party that awaits in Heaven is far greater than our mutual rejoicing over the US Soccer team’s win today (see Luke 15:7).

For more details on the US victory click HERE.

US vs. Slovania – Yanks Robbed of a Victory


I only saw the very end of the US vs. Slovenia Soccer match… but I’ve got to say the US got ripped off by the ref. With very little time left and the score tied, the US had a free kick which resulted in the apparent go-ahead goal, but the referee disallowed the goal because of some mystery call (no one knows for sure yet even what the call against the US was). Strange…

But, like many things, this got me to thinking about life – More specifically, it got me to thinking about the afterlife. And again, I’m amazed by the fact that we will not have an incompetent judge deciding our fate… and unlike the World Cup, our fate will not be decided by our own merit and/or performance either!

From what I’ve heard, the US probably deserved to lose the match because they played so poorly in the first half and fell behind 0-2 (only 21 other times in World Cup history has a team come back from that kind of deficit to tie or win). Like the US… All of us EVERYONE deserves to live life now and in the hereafter separated from a perfect and holy God. Unlike a sports team, however, we cannot just fight back and be good enough to even things out or make things right. Instead, because of God’s justice a penalty must be paid for our sin. Here’s where the good news comes in.

Jesus came and paid the penalty for our sin!  He didn’t just even things up… He made us winners… Here’s an abbreviated version of what the Bible has to say about it… Read these out loud, and ask yourself “What does this mean?” – Think about it… It truly is Good News!

Romans 3:23 – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 – the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9-11 – If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 8:31-32, 34, 37 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 Again, the US might have been deprived of a victory because of their bad play in the 1st half and because of a horrendous call from the ref… but those who trust in Jesus are assured of an eternal victory, though they don’t deserve it. Have you trusted Him? If not, will you?

LOST Series Finale


Sunday night was bitter sweet for me. LOST is over… Yeah, I can admit that I’ve been a huge fan of the show. My wife and I didn’t start off watching it, but got caught up in about season 3 by renting the first two seasons on DVD just before season 3 launched. This series has been one of my favorite shows of all time and the finale didn’t disappoint.

Of course, there are plenty of things to criticize about the show’s world view… but seriously, who forms their belief system over something they know to be fiction? There are, however, at least a few parallels to biblical Christianity (this is often true of great literature)… So, to put LOST to bed, so to speak, please allow me to point out just a couple of these.

First of all… the concept of the show started out simple enough, but then it got REAL complicated – REAL quick… Not everything made sense – no one could ever quite understand all the rules governing the island and those living on it – good people went bad, people with dubious pasts redeemed themselves. To the very end everybody had their own opinions as to why such and such was happening (from the tiniest detail to the over-arching purpose/meaning)… In fact, the most helpful episodes were the reruns that included the writers’ and/or directors’ commentary – but even these sometimes brought more confusion and questions than they provided answers.

Isn’t that just like real life, though? Life starts out real simple, but gets REAL complicated – REAL quick. Not everything that happens to us makes sense – Why do bad things happen to us or people we know? Why does the economy stink? Why do folks get laid off? What is the Purpose of Life? Why is the government so jacked up? The questions roll on and on… And the stronger the questions and challenges the less we know how to deal with them on our own!

Sorting it all out can be crippling! So people turn to various religions and try all sorts of theories (remember the hatch… Hugo’s unlucky numbers… Daniel’s crazy insights and ideas – including the nuke… Desmond’s idea last night). But even when they find the right place (we believe this to be the Bible) to search for reliable answers to life and morality (I mean, just how are we supposed to fight the “Smoke Monsters” in our lives – whoever he is) the waters can still be muddy because people often have a hard time understanding it or it leads to more questions!

SPOILER ALERT: Two of my favorite places in this last episode is where Jack initiated Hurley by passing him the bottle as Jacob had done for him – “Now, you’re like me”. Kate said “I know you don’t understand, Jack… But if you come with me, you will.” She touched his life profoundly and then led him to his father, who could (and did) provide the answers.

Both of these scenes demonstrate the kind of evangelism we need to have in the Church today… a passionate compassion for other people that leads them to be their best by seriously engaging in a relationship with God. In both scenes a life-altering decision was made and it was initiated by one of the characters simply asking them to make a decision. The decisions were tough but because of the love and care and friendship that had been invested between them the decision was really not all that hard… But still, one had to ask and the other had to accept. Demonstrating their decision wasn’t complicated – instead, it was so easy Hurley asked “Is that it?” It is the same for sharing and accepting God’s free gift of salvation. Through Jesus there is redemption for everyone even someone as evil as Benjamin Linus (I was glad to see them bring that character around for good through admitting his failures and apologizing). But for that to occur they must be presented the Good News that forgiveness and a new life are available though Jesus… this means that we are going to have to do a much better job of just lovingly asking our friends and family to make a decision (just like Kate and Jack did) – I’d venture to say that we will often get similar responses as the ones depicted on the show… acceptance (even if there is some reluctance at first).

That is what Robert and I are trying to do with this venue… it’s our driving force… our passion… our purpose: To connect with you and share life with you – to show you the way to the God and place (God’s Word – the Bible) where we’ve found our answers – And, we want to do this with No Shame, No Fear and No Apologizing – though we ourselves have been LOST, even though we fail… We sincerely hope you will come along with us and see where this ride takes us – It’s wilder and more awesome than anything Jack, Sawyer, Kate, John or Hurley could ever have imagined!

Erkle-like Witnessing moments: “Did I do that?!”


Hey, Robert and I have intermittantly been encouraging everyone to share their faith… Greg Stier has put together a pretty good list of ways we DON’T advocate (Check it out):
 
What kind of awkward witnessing moments have you had?

Retraction… JESUS LIVES!


As dawn broke that morning the shroud of sorrow that had covered them for the past days seemed strangely different. But why should it? Today His body would be prepared with spices by some of the women who had followed Him.

They were still afraid… still hiding, and yet there was something in the periphery of their minds, something just buzzing in and out between their subconscious and coherent thought that would not let them go. Though He had been laid in a guarded tomb, something within them would not let them bury this and just move on.

What had He said before that just wouldn’t come fully to mind? Had He told them this would happen?

Suddenly, Mary burst in the door shouting hysterically: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

What else could go wrong?!?! Two of them bolted for the place where He was laid. Sure enough, He was not there – Neither were the Roman guards that had been stationed there. Strangely though, the burial clothes rested on the table where his body had been… the cloth that had covered His face was folded neatly aside, but the rest were not unwrapped, instead they were vacated as though the body had disintegrated or vaporized! How could any of this be?

They left bewildered… trying harder than ever to remember His instructions to them. There was nothing left to do but return to their hiding place – hole up, grieve and pray.

Mary interrupted the silent tears again exuberantly, almost incoherently exclaiming something about seeing Him in the garden after they had left. They rationalized that she must have been mistaken and in denial… So they locked the doors and hid… and trembled… and wondered…

That night as darkness fell the anxiety increased in this little group who were huddled behind their locked doors. Suddenly, a voice they never had dreamed in their slimmest of hopes they would hear again pierced the silence and startled them out of their stupor. It said, “Peace be with you!”

PEACE?!?! How could there be peace? He was gone and now they were delusional… because some had seen Him die, the rest had minimally seen the guarded grave – He was Dead, there was no doubt about it… And yet, here He was… Right before them – What in Heaven’s name was going on?

Their hearts nearly stopped from joy and shock when He showed them His scars. It was Him and He was ALIVE!!! It all made sense now… He HAD told them He had to die, but He had also hinted that death would not be the end of the story – He had promised that He would never leave them… Actually, He said that He would never, never, never , Never, NEVER leave them or turn them away!

So, now that He was back and had proved His ultimate power and authority, certainly He would begin the conquest now. But He said that He would not now – not in the way they had expected anyway… But really, had He EVER done things the way they expected?

He instead told them they were to take His message of peace, hope and love to everyone on earth! They could be confident that because of what He had done in dying for them  – in dying for the world He had fulfilled all their previous hopes and dreams and had flung open the lanes of fellowship between God and man… And He had validated and sealed the sacrifice by rising from the dead…

No one would retract the story of His death… why should they? He really had died.

Because He was Alive, they now understood… Not only was He the Son of God – He IS God and He always will be! And now He has gone to prepare an eternal home for all who place all their trust in Him…

Now they fully understood this: there was no way to remain silent – there was no reason to hide. Nothing, not even death had power over Him, so it had no power over them! The revolution HAD begun, but it was not a violent uprising – Instead, they began to shout out to all who would give an ear – a continual outpouring of grace, peace, love and hope…

And the refrain has echoed from the hearts and lips of His children throughout the years ever since: “HE IS RISEN – HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Hope Reigns eternal…

All because Jesus is King and He… is… with us!

Funny Thing About History… It Repeats


Have you ever wondered why Israel failed at their job to evangelize the world (Scripture calls it being a priest nation) and why they missed Jesus as their Messiah? And, are we falling into the same trappings in the US, now?!?!?! I think so…

I posed these questions to one of my classmates and this is what she said (I think she’s right):

I believe Israel looked inward partially because they were an “obstinate people”, as God declared through Isaiah (Isaiah 65:2), but also because they walked the fine line of not mingling with the Canaanites and other peoples they encountered during the Exodus and as they conquered the Holy Land, yet living life as the apple of God’s eye and slated to be a kingdom of priests. It can be hard to understand how to follow God without becoming legalistic. The same holds true today in the US today. One need not look far to find Christian groups that have separated so far from the rest of the world that they cannot possibly be a witness to those around them that don’t know Christ. Even just by spending almost exclusively time in our Christian circles, we can easily get caught up in a separate world.

Personally, I think that they focused in on the tangible aspect of the covenant – the land – without thinking about the purpose of the covenant (or rather they mistook the purpose of the covenant). I think they thought that they were so cool with God that He just loved blessing them for their own prosperity and enjoyment rather than the prosperity being a sign/proof to glorify God and make it possible for Israel to engage in the ministry of reconciliation.

I think we do the same here and now… We get so caught up in the tangible (the physical/material prosperity God has allowed this nation to have) and we get so comfortable in our own exclusive Christian circles that we become useless for the Kingdom (I say “we” on purpose, because I’m including me). I heard a quote somewhere that, “money (blessings) is (are) like manuer… it’s no good unless you spread it all around (like fertalizer)”… What God blessed Israel with and what He has blessed us with (corporately and individually) wasn’t just for our enjoyment and ease (why would there be so much about suffering in the NT if that were the case)… Instead it is for us to be a blessing to others in order to share God’s message of Love, forgiveness, righteousness, etc… You know, the ministry of reconciliation (spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5).

Like I said, I’ve been thining about ancient Israel’s failures for several years and somewhat paralelling that to the US. But, the stats Dr. Wheeler shared in my personal evangelism class were so shocking (i.e. some 90% + of Christians don’t actively share their faith AT ALL) that it shook me out of my stupor… I think now way more than ever that personal evangelism and world missions is not just an important aspect of the Christian life, but it is THE most important aspect of it… Greg Stier of Dare2Share ministries calls it “THE Cause.” I just hope we, as the Body of Christ, take our calling in Matthew 28 and 2 Corinthians 5 so much more seriously and that we get on board with God’s program so that we do not continue to flounder away in the same old rut that ancient Israel did.

So, What’s the Point?


We started this blog as an avenue to talk about how the truth about God and His Word ought to affect our lives. One of the most important aspects about God (if not THE most important) is that He is relational – that is He desires to have loving relationships with people. However, another VERY important aspect of God is that He is Holy – that is He hates evil (which all of us practice more often than we’d ever admit). These two seemingly incompatible aspects of God’s character presented a problem that called for a radical solution… Let’s examine the problem and the solution by looking quickly at just one verse, Romans 6:23.

For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This verse is rich with meaning – it’s full of bad news and good news. Let’s start with the bad:

Notice the first 3 key words in this passage: Wages, Sin and Death. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Wages” as: “Payment for services to a worker…” It is something that is earned or deserved. Random House defines “sin” as: “any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.” This is anything we do that is “reprehensible” rebellion against God (and this almost always “regrettably” hurts other people). When the Bible speaks of “Death” it always represents some sort of separation – when the body dies it is separated from the soul – this is what we commonly think of as death, but the Bible also speaks of a greater death… spiritual death (which is separation from God).

So to sum up the first phrase, what we EARN & what we DESERVE for the evil we do is to be eternally separated from the God who loves us and created us.

Scripture tells us elsewhere that if we physically die without our sin problem being fixed by God, we will remain separated from Him in a very real and scary place called Hell (e.g. 2 Peter 2:4-10). This is obviously VERY bad news, because we are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and there is nothing we can do to fix that on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9) – the “wage” was earned and God is so true to His word that He HAS to pay up!

Surprisingly to some, Jesus spoke about this place more than He spoke about Heaven! I think this is because God is relational and He doesn’t want us to have to experience being separated from Him (and all the bad that goes along with that separation).

This is where the good news comes in. This is signaled by the “BUT” in the middle of the verse. It’s like God is saying… “You deserve some really bad news, however, I’ve got some GREAT news for you”… That Good News is found in the next phrase “the gift of God is eternal life”… Let’s break it down like the last phrase.

We all know what a “Gift” is. It is something given to and received by us that was neither bought nor earned. In this case the giver of the Gift (the one who initiated the giving) is none other than God Himself. 

The gift is eternal life. If death = separation then life = fellowship/connection. In other words, we have the opportunity to be in relationship with God… not only temporarily, but (in the words of the kids from Sandlot) “FOR-EV-ER!” Did you catch that? This is saying that God has stepped in to solve our sin problem!!!

All that is left to explain is the question of “how?” The Answer: Jesus… specifically a relationship with Jesus Christ and by accepting what He (Jesus) did for us on the cross… Remember, God had to pay out the wage for sin… death – Jesus took upon himself that death verdict for all people who would accept that gift – for all time!

Just like any gift, we cannot merely understand that the gift is for us, we have to receive it. Romans 10:9-11 sheds a little light on how we are to do this.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Ann Coulter recently said “It [Christianity] is the best deal in the universe… God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you’re in. Your sins are washed away from you… because of the cross… Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world…” The simplicity of the Good News I just explained is the “easy” aspect of Christianity. The hard part will be the subject of other forthcoming blogs… But for now let’s just worry about the “easy” aspect.

To get in on the “easy” aspect here’s the questions that need to be answered for each of us:

  1. Have you ever done wrong in your life? In other words, are you a sinner?
  2. Do you want forgiveness for your sins?
  3. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and then rose from the dead?
  4. Are you willing to surrender your heart to Jesus (as LORD – as seen above at the end of Romans 6:23)?
  5. Have you ever, or are you ready right now to accept God’s gift of eternal life by inviting Jesus into your life (Rev. 3:20)?

So, what IS the point?  It’s all about what each of us will do in light of God’s offer of eternal life.  If you have not trusted Jesus as your only hope for eternal life, I pray you will consider taking God up on His offer. If you already have trusted in Jesus, will you please consider talking to someone else about this? It really is the main point of life.

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