Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tough Stuff

After a recent in-depth discussion with some fellow believers about some of the difficult questions in life, I grew burdened about the average churchgoer's level of understanding of basic doctrinal truths. The conversation spun off of the initial question: Where did evil come from? Did God create it? Did it start with Adam and Eve? Did it come into being when Lucifer fell?

These are all good questions, and I can't say that we reached a consensus answer. And it's a bit irrelevant, whatever the answer is, because it doesn't change Who God is, or who we are, or what we're called to do. So I'm gonna move on to my source of concern.

Here are a couple of the truths somewhat debated. I warn you; these are not happy topics. There will be no Joel Osteen sermon here. We're talking about sin: the reality of it, the weight of it, and how God views it.

1. Hell is real, and people apart from Christ are condemned to it.
2. God in His infinite justice punishes sin. God in His infinite love provided salvation from that punishment through Christ's death and resurrection on the cross.
3. God hates sin. Read any books start to finish from the Old Testament and read where God tells His people and prophets to completely wipe out whole people groups. I mean, have we forgotten the story of Noah? He just started all over. Sodom and Gomorrah? Need I go on?
4. Anyone who does not know Christ is dead in their sin and deserves hell. It's a tough one, but if the consequences for sin are not that dire, then why did Christ have to die? If you have trouble with this concept, I challenge you to ask God to show you the weight of sin. Let me warn you that this is not a pleasant answer, but it's one that will stay with you.

So yes, these concepts should light a fire under us as Christ's followers to go tell people about their need for Him and the free gift of salvation and eternal life offered through Him WITH THE UNDERSTANDING that He IS sovereign. He WILL accomplish His will. He desires to bring people to Him more than you do. And you are (or I am) not big enough to mess that up. It's ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart that brings a man to know Christ. We are simply the vessels that get to be a part of the process sometimes.

Please understand that these are not concepts that are usually appropriate in evangelistic settings, but as believers, we need to know what the Bible says about Who God is, what He does, and who we are in light of that. My concern is that the life-long church-goer can't say with confidence that they are certain about these things based on revelation from Scripture.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

So I went...and I saw. And I'm glad to be back in Tac-town. Even though most of WA south of me is under water. Nice reception. I enjoyed getting to spend time with work people outside of work. Callie got a bigger dose of me than I'm sure she ever hoped for. But we had fun bonding, laughing, learning, and discussing life. I feel really blessed to be a part of such a great program with great people in a great area. Enough of the "great"s.

It was also the bomb to get to see Donna, Leela, and some of my old UT crew. I would have loved to sit down with every old pharmacy friend from around the country (old ASP peeps included) and discuss our journey post-graduation, but time didn't allow. It was at least nice to share a smile, a hug, and maybe even a 2-minute update.

Overall, it left me tired, a bit pensive, and ready for the weekend. I'm trying to learn this whole "live in the now" and stop wishing your life away. So far, I get an F.

I will say I had one of the neatest conversations with a pharmacy director from Cali at dinner one night. A very smart man working for a Catholic group was explaining to me how the nuns who run the organization expect the leadership to conduct themselves the way Jesus would. After I mentioned my desire to do missions and the basis of my faith (which was based on a personal relationship, not on rituals), he was extremely intrigued about this new concept of Christianity he had never encountered before. I wasn't expecting to have one of the best evangelistic conversations of my life that night. I'm glad that God uses me despite my inconsistent focus.