Monthly Archives: August 2016

She Made A Different Choice

faith“Did I do something wrong?” That was the question a humanist French journalist (identified as “Isabelle”) asked after finding out that her daughter had converted to Judaism. She followed that up with, “I have nothing against Judaism. I am just against any religion.”

Isabelle doesn’t think much of religion. She grew up attending Catholic School, became an atheist, and is now a self-declared “progressive, humanist woman.” Religions, she believes, tell you how to think, as opposed to being a libre penseur, “free thinker.”

Nevertheless, it is in fact, ‘thinking for herself,’ that caused Isabelle’s daughter to choose another path. It is a path that leads to faith and religion. It is a path that many French youth are apparently choosing as well.

You see, Isabelle’s daughter’s generation is asking questions and seeking answers that their parents’ atheism is incapable of answering. Isabelle’s daughter believes that her parents’ philosophies have failed to bring about positive change in society. So she said, “I need something else.”

Still, the choice doesn’t come easily. Scripture says, “Honor your Father and Mother.” As any person who has made the choice to leave the religion of their parents knows, it can cause tension.

But honoring parents doesn’t mean making the same choices that they made, especially since choices have eternal consequences. The same God who said, honor your Father and Mother,” also reminds us that religion is a choice, not an inheritance. God expects us to think for ourselves, to reason through the evidence, and to make a decision.

Joshua gave the Israelites this choice. He said that they had 3 options: 1) worship the idols of the land they conquered, 2) continue the failed ideas of their parents, or 3) they could choose God. As for him and his family, no question about it, they would choose God (Joshua 24:15).

And, Joshua told the Israelites to choose “today.” There is urgency. No one wants to offend a parent or grandparent, but each day is a precious opportunity to make a better choice.

If I can help, get in touch…I’d love to show you how the evidence leads to Jesus.

Don’t Lose Your Endorsement

lostendorement

He had it all – fame, power, a brotherhood, and the best endorsement anyone can imagine. And yet, because of his poor choices, a series of bad decisions, he lost it all. Of course, I’m talking about Judas Iscariot. Why? Did you think this was another Ryan Lochte article?

Ok. Perhaps the description was misleading. But almost two thousand years before Ryan Lochte was born, those words could have been spoken of Judas. In fact, the Bible records Judas as one of a very important group of twelve.

Judas was among the twelve who performed miracles; he acted under the authority of Jesus; and he declared the Kingdom was at hand (Matthew 10:1-6; Mark 6:7). He appeared to have the endorsement of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. Yet he threw it all away over a few bad decisions in the last week of his life.

Ryan Lochte is in a bad spot right now. He made a series of mistakes in the last week of the Olympics. Because of his drunken misconduct and lies, Lochte may have ended his career. At the very least, he damaged his name and lost several lucrative endorsements – over $1 million!

We have all faced disappointment. And sometimes we react badly. When Lochte’s big race came, he was disappointed. Not only did he lose to Michael Phelps, but he didn’t even get a medal! So he went out to “blow off some steam,” and he behaved badly.

I won’t excuse it. But I understand it. He can even be forgiven, since he apologized and asked for forgiveness. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any consequences. Companies don’t want their name associated with the kind of behavior Lochte modeled.

But, if you are a Christian, there is a far greater endorsement that we would never want to lose. Jesus has endorsed you. He placed His good name and reputation on the line for you. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Don’t lose your endorsement. Jesus knows you will not be perfect, but He expects His disciples to strive for better behavior (Colossians 3:5-11).

“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…”

Urged To Finish

runners-olympic, hugOccasionally, at the Olympics, we get the privilege of witnessing something greater than a world record being broken. Because these moments are so rare, they are even more precious than gold medal victories. Sometimes, because of an accident, we get to see what true sportsmanship is all about.

Often, a person’s true nature and character are revealed in times of stress, pain, and disappointment. It is easy to be “all smiles” when you are at the top of the podium receiving a gold medal. But how we react when we get tripped up and see our dreams crashing in front of us, well…that is a true measure.

That is why I was so impressed with American athlete, Abbey D’Agostino, and New Zealand’s, Nikki Hamblin, in Tuesday’s 5,000 meter run. Due to a mid-race collision, Hamblin tripped and fell, causing Abbey to fall as well. What they did next represents a greater spirit than competition.

You see, as Nikki sat there, stunned, Abbey D’Agostino put her hand on Nikki’s shoulder, and urged her to finish. Hamblin recalled Abbey yelling, “Get up, get up! We have to finish! This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.'” And as the pair went on, when it was obvious that Abbey had trouble finishing due to her injury, Nikki returned the favor, encouraging Abbey to finish.

When the race was finished, Hamblin said a great thing about D’Agostino: “I am so grateful to Abbey for helping me.’ “That girl was the Olympic spirit right there. I am so impressed and inspired by that.” Nikki and Abbey didn’t know each other, but now they have a bond that can never be broken. They overcame adversity together and finished the race.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reminds us what our attitude should be. It wasn’t the champions of that day (Pharisees, Priests, etc.,) who stopped to help the man who was beaten and robbed. It was a lowly Samaritan who showed the right heart (Luke 10:30-37).

The Apostle Paul saw some Galatians who had been “running well” in their faith but had stumbled because of bad teaching (Galatians 5:7). He helped pick them up, and he encouraged them to run their race “by the spirit,” not the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Finishing the race is more about how we run than coming in 1st (2 Timothy 4:7).

Everyone stumbles in life. We all need encouragement. There are two types of runners generally: 1) Those who say, “They can pick themselves up!”; or 2) Those who say, “Let’s finish this race together.” What kind of runner will you be?

Retire, But Don’t Quit

akihito retireUntil WWII, many Japanese believed the Emperor was a god. Japan’s Emperor Akihito is the current holder of the Chrysanthemum Throne, a dynasty that claims to be the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy (legend has it at ~2,600 years).  These days, the position is mostly a figurehead, and no one calls the Emperor a god, but the monarchy remains central to Japan’s identity.

But Emperor Akihito has a problem. Run down from health issues and the demands of his job, at 82 years of age he wants to slow things down a bit. In fact, he would really like to do something that many people take for granted; he’d like to retire.

Unfortunately for Akihito, Japan’s laws don’t allow that! Neither can an Emperor make overtly political statements, such as, “please change the law to let me retire.” Stuck in a tough position, Akihito appealed directly to the people last week. In his address, he made his case, veiled as it was, that he should be allowed to abdicate his throne.

But, while Akihito would like to retire, he isn’t asking to quit.

Quitting is a far cry from retiring. Emperor Akihito doesn’t intend to do nothing. There are ways he wants to serve his people and tasks he has in mind. He simply believes that it is time to change his responsibilities and title. And well over 80% of Japanese agree he should be allowed.

Even God, the only, true God, the Creator of the Universe, rested (Genesis 2:1-3). Since then, matter and energy have been transformed, but no new creation has taken place. God stopped His task of creating and transitioned into a different role.

What about you, friend? Have you retired? Great! But don’t quit! You are never too old to do good works for God’s Kingdom. I hope you never think, “I don’t need to be vigilant in faith…I’m retired!” Responsibilities change, but there is always something we can do.

Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). Let’s follow Christ’s example and keep our efforts alive and well…even in retirement.