Does God Have Feelings?

Glowing Tube

Would it be possible to hurt God’s feelings? Can we make God happy or sad? At first, it seems like there should be a quick and obvious answer.

If God is emotionless, then he would seem like a heartless monster. But if he is emotional, then he may be unstable and fickle. So how should we think about this in light of Scripture and the Church’s teaching over the last 2000 years?  Continue reading

Can I be Sure I’m Going to Heaven?

My youth group recently began a study on “The End: Hard Questions About Eternity.” In preparation for that series, I sent a survey to students asking for their questions about heaven, hell, along with other issues. The overwhelmingly most common question was this:

What if I don’t go to heaven?
What if I go to hell?

This isn’t a fear that only teenagers struggle with. I’ve talked with many Christians who struggle with assurance of their salvation and eternal destiny. Assurance is simply confidence that something will happen… so the question is this: Is there eternal assurance for the Christian?

Sitting on a Snowy Rock Wall Continue reading

What’s it Mean to be a “Salty Christian?”

One of my favorite types of posts to write are responses to questions that readers have submitted. If you have a question or suggestion for a future article, please visit here to Ask a Question. Here’s the question for today:

Salt and Pepper

“I came across a passage that I think is really important in the Bible and once again, I wish I knew what it meant. Col 4:6 – let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. I have heard various interpretations of what that means and I still can’t say I really get it or remember. Yet it’s obviously so important, giving instructions on how we should behave with non- believers.”

The short answer is this: Salt was a preservative that kept meat from going rancid. In the same way, because Christians have received the grace of God through Jesus Christ, our words should be marked by graciousness and a life-giving spirit.  Continue reading

Four Reasons to be Confident in the Resurrection 

Easter makes Good Friday good. Without the resurrection, that Friday would’ve been the most terrible Friday in human history. The only thing that could compete would be if Adam and Eve ate from the tree (Genesis 3). 

What would happen to your faith if Jesus never rose from the dead? Some people may be tempted to say, “Well, I’d still believe. Jesus’ teachings are still worth following, and he did die for our sins even if he didn’t rise from the dead.”

The Apostle Paul says this,“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17)

How Can We Be Confident in the Resurrection? 

(The following is a summary of the video above along with some of my thoughts added. The video is worth your time, it’s very well done.)

“I’m not saying they really saw the real Jesus. I don’t know what they saw. But as a historian, I know they must have seen something.”
(Dr. Paula Fredrikson, Boston University)



The Body 

They never found Jesus’ body. How did the disciples overpower the armed-guards and roll away the stone to steal the body? After they started preaching about the resurrection, the whole region was swarming with people looking for the body, but they never found it.

The Apostles

They were hopeless at best, cowards at worst. Their master and lord had been killed. Terrified and dejected, they hid from the authorities in a locked room to protect themselves from suffering the same fate as Jesus. These were not men bold enough to devise a revolution.

But something happened. Suddenly these men were in the streets of Jerusalem preaching about the resurrection. They set the world afire through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As the video above states, “liars make terrible martyrs!” They truly believed they saw what they said they saw. Not one of them ever recanted their faith, even while being tortured and killed for it. If they were lying, someone would’ve cracked and squealed. Instead, their courage came because they truly saw the risen Christ.

The Skeptics

James was the brother of Jesus. He thought Jesus had a few screws loose and didn’t believe his message until after Jesus’ resurrection. Suddenly, he does a 180 and becomes the leader of the church in Jerusalem (which endured incredible opposition and persecution) and he wrote the book of James in the New Testament.

Paul was so opposed to the resurrection he was essentially the leader of ISIS, arresting Christians and killing them if they refused to deny Christ. Paul tells his story in Acts 9 where he meets Jesus and is called as a missionary and teacher.

What happened in these men who were so opposed to the message of Jesus? They must have seen something…

The Church

If I was going to start a lie about the resurrection of Jesus, Jerusalem would be the last place I’d start that lie. That’s where he was just killed, so it’s not exactly a “friendly” crowd. Besides, if it’s a lie, these are the people who would know better. I’d start this new teaching somewhere far away from where I’m saying this miraculous thing happened!

It would have taken a long time for the apostles to agree on their story of what they saw and what it means. Instead, at Pentecost they immediately started proclaiming the resurrection the Church exploded onto the scene from the very place where Jesus was crucified.

Live With Confident Faith

There is always the need for faith. Yes, there are arguments against these “proofs.” If you are looking for a reason to doubt, you will likely find one.

But these are provided to encourage you that your faith does not need to be blind or unreasonable. There have been many times when my faith has been rescued and restored by the simple question, “What about the resurrection?” The Christian faith really boils down to that one foundational question… what happened to Jesus? If it was a big conspiracy, then you will deny everything else. But, if Jesus really did rise from the grave, that changes absolutely everything.

Don’t Sterilize the Cross

Cross

“Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1b-2 (CSB)

On this Good Friday, let us remember the Cross was a brutal form of ancient torture so barbaric the Romans outlawed its use. It was like the electric chair or waterboarding… something only done to those who are the worst-of-the-worst of criminals. Like the electric chair, it’s goal was always death in a way that was shameful and painful; like waterboarding, it was only done to those who are not citizens but people who are considered great threats against the government.

Meanwhile, we have sterilized and gilded it as a piece of jewelry to wear around our necks. Perhaps your cross necklace truly draws you to remember the shame and torture Jesus endured for your salvation. But my gut says most of us have simply covered the cross with gold and made it into an ornament.

We don’t like considering the pain and torture Christ endured. It seems so barbaric and inhumane. But today, as we consider Christ’s sacrificial and atoning death on the cross, remember what he endured for you.

Take a few minutes to glimpse into the reality of crucifixion by meditating on The Horror of Crucifixion, which features a powerful audio clip which conveys the shame and terror that the cross would bring.

This Easter season, let the cross remain gritty. It was there that your sin and guilt and shame were removed – and replaced with purity and holiness and grace.

What does Palm Sunday have to do with Good Friday?

Palm Branch

On Palm Sunday we often talk about the Triumphal Entry, when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey and the people gathered to cheer and celebrate him as a prophet, laying palm branches down before him in joyful celebration. This fulfilled multiple prophecies and it showed us a foretaste of Christ’s kingship where all peoples would worship him in glory. It seemed that the Messiah’s plan was being fulfilled, but only a few days later the religious leaders stirred the people against Jesus and they put him to death for blasphemy and treason.

Jesus’ triumphal entry may have begun while riding on top of a donkey, but was fulfilled while carrying his cross to Golgotha on Good Friday. Jesus was a different type of Messiah than the people expected or wanted. They wanted a savior from the Romans who would restore the glory and pure-worship of Israel.

He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.
Colossians 2:14-15 (CSB)

Matthew 16:13-28 shows a helpful narrative to set Palm Sunday in context with Good Friday. Once Peter offers the first confession of Christ (“You are the messiah, the son of the living God”), Jesus then begins to tell the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die and be resurrected.

Peter’s rebuke (“Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!”) completely makes sense when you put yourself in the disciples’ sandals.

  • You’ve walked the dusty streets, watching Jesus place his hands on lepers. But instead of the leprosy transferring to his flesh, his purity cleanses them and brings healing. (Matthew 8:1-4)
  • You’ve trembled when confronted by the demon-possessed, and yet the demons were the ones who shuddered in fear when Jesus came walking along. (Matthew 8:28-34)
  • You’ve fought against storms on the sea, fearful that your ship was falling apart until Jesus woke up and told the waves to calm down… and they did. (Matthew 8:23-27)
  • During another storm Jesus simply walked on the water, even while it was threatening to sink you. (Matthew 14:22-33)
  • You’ve seen Jesus swarmed by thousands of hungry people and make enough for a small meal feast for the entire crowd… with leftovers. (Matthew 14:13-21)

So when Jesus begins to foretell his death and resurrection, the disciples are rightly shocked. This isn’t what they expected from their master who has shown such great power and authority. Why would he suffer like that?

And not only does Jesus rebuke Peter, he responds by saying, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” He essentially says Peter, not only must this happen to me, it must happen to you too… and to anyone else who wants to follow me. Cross carrying is at the heart of Christianity.

Jesus’ plan all along was to enter Jerusalem triumphantly. Colossians 2:14-15 reminds us Jesus was triumphant over the debt of sin by nailing it to the cross. His hour of greatness was not when he rode into the city on top of that donkey, but when he gave his life on the cross and when he rose victoriously over sin and death.

Note: This is an excerpt based off a sermon I preached on 4/9/17 at Emmanuel Baptist Church. When the sermon audio is online I will include it here when it’s available. 

How Can I Know God’s Will? (it’s not so difficult)

Discerning God’s will plays an important role in the Christian life. This is because we want to live obediently, not in our own self-determined way. If we trust God and if we are called to participate in his sovereign plan in this world, then it’s important that we don’t mess it all up by missing out on “God’s will.” Right?

But here’s the thing… we make this way too complicated and mysterious. In many ways, discerning God’s will is pretty simple. Read Scripture, and obey it. Don’t steal things (even if they’re little things, like someone else’ login to get free Spotify). Don’t cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife… be faithful. Keep your word. Work hard. Be the same person when you’re at home, work, church, with your friends, and when you’re alone. This isn’t rocket science. Most things in life don’t require deep introspection to discover God’s will… just obey what God has plainly given in Scripture.

But what about the other stuff? What if you’re trying to decide a new major in college, or whether or not to look for a new job, or if you’re supposed to marry that guy/girl you’ve been dating? Here are three “simple” steps to living out God’s will in your life.

Telescope at Beach Continue reading