Ask Anything: Jesus, Lust, Gouging Eyes, Hell!

Today’s guest post is from Keith Johnson.  Keith has served on Discovery’s Leadership Team and his family have been active at Discovery for almost a decade.  On a personal level, I’ll add that Keith is a gifted business man and a sharp thinker who takes the challenge of the gospel seriously.  Keith covered 3 questions for us, the post is the 3rd of 3.   deal-radically-graphic-effects

Q:  Could you please explain what Jesus means or is trying to tell men when he tells them to gouge their eyes out rather than get thrown into hell for looking at women with lust?  It is in Matthew 6 somewhere.
A:  To answer lets take a closer look at Matthew 5:29.  “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”  In the passage itself, Mark is trying to explain his reason “it is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell”.  This verse is not to be understood literally, but in the sense that we should turn our eyes away from objects, usually women, which may lead to further impure thoughts, desires and actions.  Furthermore, as mentioned in Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you than anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  So Matthew is trying to make a strong point here that nothing, including your eyes, are worth the price of hell.  This overall sentiment is repeated in Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:43, Colossians 3:5.

Ask Anything: Jesus, Mental Illness, Casting Out Demons

Today’s guest post is from Keith Johnson.  Keith has served on Discovery’s Leadership Team and his family have been active at Discovery for almost a decade.  On a personal level, I’ll add that Keith is a gifted business man and a sharp thinker who takes the challenge of the gospel seriously.  Keith covered 3 questions for us, the post is the 2nd of 3.   

Q:  When Jesus (and others) would cast out evil in people, would that evil be what we today might call mental illness?
A:  In short, no.  Jesus and his disciples did at times heal people and at other times did cast out the devil, and other evil spirits.  There are many references to Jesus and the disciples practice of casting out evil spirits including: Luke 11:14, Luke 13:32,  Matthew 8:16 and others.  In Luke 9:1 Jesus also gives this power to his disciples: “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.  Of importance here to note is that Jesus gave them the power to cast out demons AND to cure disease.  Similarly if we look at Mark 1:34, “And He healed many who will ill with various diseases and cast out many demons…”  Again, note the use of the word AND and the distinction made between disease or illness and casting out of demons.  Even during Jesus’ time with their limited knowledge of physical medicine, these were recognized to be separate and distinct issues as shown in Samuel 21:12-13: “David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”  This passage helps prove that they understood the difference between mental illness and demonic possession.

 

Ask Anything: Suicide and God’s Power

Today’s guest post is from Keith Johnson.  Keith has served on Discovery’s Leadership Team and his family have been active at Discovery for almost a decade.  On a personal level, I’ll add that Keith is a gifted business man and a sharp thinker who takes the challenge of the gospel seriously.  Keith covered 3 questions for us, the post is the 1st of 3.   
Q: Why doesn’t God stop someone from committing suicide?  He has the power to have someone walk in and stop them.  
A:  The bible records multiple examples of someone committing suicide, the most famous of which is Judas Iscariot as referenced in Matthew 27:5.  Thus it is apparent that while God is all powerful, and has the ability to stop someone from committing suicide, that He doesn’t always do so.  To understand more about why, we first must realize that suicide is murder, murder is a sin, and sin lives within us.  Reference Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Thus some people will take on Suicide as a form of sin.  To answer the question of why God allows a specific sinful event to occur, and thereby chooses not to intervene, we can find some solace from passages like First Corinthians 13:12 which says “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

 

Ask Anything: Jesus as the Two Sided Prince of Peace?

Today’s guest post is from Ana Proano. Ana serves on our children’s team and is a student at Denver Seminary.  Those who know her would describe her as a Spirit led force of nature!    Thanks to Linnea Spicer for providing a translation from Spanish to English.

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In order to understand this verse, we have to read the context of the book. In the context of Matthew 10, Jesus was warning his disciples of the sufferings that were going to follow because of following Him. In verses

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.  And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22

God doesn’t want to deceive us. To follow Him means to be in conflict with the world. Christ did not come to bring peace among his disciples and the world. He came to put us in conflict with the world because the world is the instrument of Satan, the enemy of God.

“Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?”James 4:4

We are called to love God above all things, even more than our family and friends.

In Matthew 10:37, “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.”

Therefore it is here where he warns us in this material sense. (Matthew 10:34)

It means that we will have conflict with the world because “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

In consideration of the confusion of this part with the Prince of Peace, we should recognize that there are two kinds of peace – material and spiritual. Worldly peace is lost when there are conflicts between two or more individuals. The spiritual peace that Jesus offers us is different from the peace of the world because this spiritual peace is only found in Christ in the middle of suffering and conflicts of life.

Ask Anything Blog Begins!

Question-Mark

We’re in week 2 of our “Ask Anything” sermon series.  You’ve submitted over 120 questions, approximately half of them will be handled during a church service sermon, the other half here on this blog.  We will have guest authors and for each author, I’ll post a short bio so you can get a sense of who is addressing your questions.

We sorted the 120+ questions into 12 categories.  You can find a brief description of the categories below.  If you submitted a question and want to find it on the blog, you can search by phrase, the question will appear in either the title line of the blog, or at the top of the article.  Some questions are very lengthy, in which case, search by keyword!

Each blog article will be tagged with keywords from the question, author’s last name and category from below.  Blog articles will be posted throughout the series.

We pray this is helpful to you!  Here are the categories of your questions:

1. Death, Suicide, Life after Death.  Most of these will be addressed in a sermon on Thurs Sept 25/Sun Sept 28th, but others will be here on the blog

2. Salvation, How to attain it, what of people who have never heard/good people etc.  Some questions covered in a sermon on Thurs Oct 9th/12th.  Other questions will be addressed on the blog

3. Evolution and Creation, Old Testament Oddities.  Some will be address by guest preacher Dr Eric Smith, Old Testament Scholar and president of Pillar Seminary, Oct 2nd/5th. Others will be on this blog.

4. Controversial Cultural and Church Topics.  Abortion and Homosexuality was addressed on Sept 11th/15th sermon.  Marijuana and women in leadership will be addressed on this blog.

5. International Persecution will be covered on the blog

6. Suffering, Evil, Satan, God’s Love etc.  will be covered in a sermon on Sept 19th/22nd and also on the blog

7. Prayer, how does it work, what can it do and not do?  will be covered on this blog

8. God’s Power and how it works will be handled on the blog

9. Questions about Revelation will be handled in a sermon series starting Oct 16th/19th and going for 6 weeks.

10. Relationships between believers and non believers were covered in a sermon on Sept 4th/7th and some will be covered on this blog

11. Church logistics will all be addressed on this blog

12. Miscellaneous questions (of which there are 30+) will be covered on the blog.

Life is a gift. Lucy is a gift.

Stunning, beautiful blog post by Michael Gungor on the birth of their daughter last week.

“Yesterday was the craziest day of our lives.

Lisa had been having pregnancy issues, and we knew this was going to be a high risk birth, but over the last couple weeks and especially during the delivery, I occasionally caught pauses or furtive glances among the medical staff that made me wonder if something else might be going on that they were not wanting to say and worry us with. Perhaps it was nothing.  Perhaps it was new dad paranoia….”

Click here to read the whole story.  

and then pause.  Say a prayer for the Gungor family. Find gratitude in the gifts God has given you.  

Powerful words from Mark Phelps, son of infamous Westboro Leader

“If I had to take my family to court and convict them of being followers of Christ, I am not sure where I would find the evidence.  

An orange tree produces oranges. A thorn bush produces thorns. Each person is known by the fruit produced in their life, including me. The fruit of the Spirit is found in the life of a true follower of Christ.”

Mark Phelps walked away from his family’s hateful “church” in 1973.  He is a follower of Christ.  

Full interview here

Top 10 tips for atheists this Easter

This below is from fellow Aussie John Dickson who is an outstanding representative of the faith.  Original article is here.  My Favorites are #1, #2, #6

 

Atheists should drop their easily dismissed scientific, philosophical or historical arguments against Christianity, and instead quiz believers about Old Testament violence and hell, writes John Dickson.

As an intellectual movement, Christianity has a head start on atheism. So it’s only natural that believers would find some of the current arguments against God less than satisfying.

In the interests of a more robust debate this Easter, I want to offer my tips for atheists wanting to make a dent in the Faith. I’ve got some advice on arguments that should be dropped and some admissions about where Christians are vulnerable.

Tip #1. Dip into Christianity’s intellectual tradition

This is the 1,984th Easter since 7 April AD 30, the widely accepted date among historians for the crucifixion of Jesus (the 1,981st if you find the arguments for 3 April AD 33 persuasive). Christians have been pondering this stuff for a long time. They’ve faced textual, historical, and philosophical scrutiny in almost every era, and they have left a sophisticated literary trail of reasons for the Faith.

My first tip, then, is to gain some awareness of the church’s vast intellectual tradition. It is not enough to quip that ‘intellectual’ and ‘church’ are oxymoronic. Origen, Augustine, Philoponus, Aquinas, and the rest are giants of Western thought. Without some familiarity with these figures, or their modern equivalents – Pannenberg, Ward, MacIntrye, McGrath, Plantinga, Hart, Volf – popular atheists can sound like the kid in English class, “Miss, Shakespeare is stupid!”

Tip #2. Notice how believers use the word ‘faith’

One of the things that becomes apparent in serious Christian literature is that no one uses ‘faith’ in the sense of believing things without reasons. That might be Richard Dawkins’ preferred definition – except when he was publicly asked by Oxford’s Professor John Lennox whether he had ‘faith’ in his lovely wife – but it is important to know that in theology ‘faith’ always means personal trust in the God whose existence one accepts on other grounds. I think God is real for philosophical, historical, and experiential reasons. Only on the basis of my reasoned conviction can I then trust God – have faith in him – in the sense meant in theology.

Tip #3. Appreciate the status of 6-Day Creationism

Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Kraus have done a disservice to atheism by talking as though 6-Day Creationism is the default Christian conviction. But mainstream Christianities for decades have dismissed 6-Day Creationism as a misguided (if well-intentioned) project. Major conservative institutions like Sydney’s Moore Theological College, which produces more full time ministers than any college in the country, have taught for years that Genesis 1 was never intended to be read concretely, let alone scientifically. This isn’t Christians retreating before the troubling advances of science. From the earliest centuries many of the greats of Judaism (e.g., Philo and Maimonides) and Christianity (e.g., Clement, Ambrose, and Augustine) taught that the ‘six days’ of Genesis are a literary device, not a marker of time.

Tip #4. Repeat after me: no theologian claims a god-of-the-gaps

One slightly annoying feature of New Atheism is the constant claim that believers invoke God as an explanation of the ‘gaps’ in our knowledge of the universe: as we fill in the gaps with more science, God disappears. Even as thoughtful a man as Lawrence Kraus, a noted physicist, did this just last month on national radio following new evidence of the earliest moments of the Big Bang.

But the god-of-the-gaps is an invention of atheists. Serious theists have always welcomed explanations of the mechanics of the universe as further indications of the rational order of reality and therefore of the presence of a Mind behind reality. Kraus sounds like a clever mechanic who imagines that just because he can explain how a car works he has done away with the Manufacturer. Continue reading

Jesus’ Final 24 Hours

My Thanks to Brian Mavis for doing all the work on this one.  A simple, helpful guide on the events of Jesus’ final 24 hours until he died.

JESUS’ LAST HOURS

Thursday
11:00 PM Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

Friday
12:30 AM Jesus is Betrayed Judas and Arrested
1:00 AM Jesus is Interrogated by Annas
1:00 AM Peter Denies Knowing Jesus 
1:30 AM Peter Denies Knowing Jesus a Second Time 
2:00 AM Jesus is Tried by Caiaphas. He is Mocked, Hit & Spat On 
4:00 AM Peter Denies Jesus for the Third Time
4:00 AM Jesus is Imprisoned
5:00 AM The Sanhedrin Sentence Jesus to Die
5:30 AM Jesus is Taken to Pilate
6:00 AM Judas Hangs Himself
6:00 AM Pilate Hears the Case Against Jesus
6:30 AM Jesus is Taken to Herod to Be Tried
7:00 AM Pilate Resumes Jesus’ Trial
7:30 AM Jesus Is Beaten and Given a Crown of Thorns
8:00 AM Jesus is Sentenced to Die and Beaten
8:30 AM Jesus Carries Cross
9:00 AM Jesus is Crucified
9:00 AM Jesus Ask God to Forgive Us
9:30 AM The Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Clothing
10:00 AM Jesus is Insulted and Mocked
10:30 AM Jesus Tells One of The Crucified Criminals That He Will Be in Paradise with Jesus
11:30 AM Jesus Speaks to Mary and John
Noon Darkness Covers the Land
1:00 PM Jesus Cries Out to the Father, Asking Why He Has Been Forsaken
2:30 PM Jesus Says He Is Thirsty
2:50 PM Jesus Says “It is Finished” 
2:55 PM Jesus Prays “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
3:00 PM Jesus Dies
3:00 PM An Earthquake Occurs
3:00 PM The Huge Temple Curtain Tears in Half Opening The Holy of Holies
3:10 PM The Roman Centurion Exclaims “Surely he was the Son of God!” 
3:15 PM The Soldiers Break the Thieves’ Legs
3:20 PM The Soldier Pierces Jesus’ Side 
4:00 PM Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Two Elements of Great Story Telling

1. What to tell:  Something fresh, unexpected, funny, moving, unusual, but at the same time something that expresses a commonality of the human experience.  Our stories must be “human sized” so listeners can see themselves in them.  Preachers are guilty as charged of telling superhuman (super Christian?) stories that communicate to people, “you’re not good enough, so don’t bother trying.”  We can also be guilty of finding stories that just don’t move people because they don’t matter.  I’m struck by Fred Craddock’s promise to his congregation that, to the best of his ability, he would only preach sermons that matter and this involves telling stories that are surprising and funny yes, but always, always, always capturing the common human experience.

Find exactly human sized stories, which leads to number two.

2. How to tell it: This is actually more difficult than finding a good story.  Crafting it well all comes down to editing and timing.  Tell it well.  What is the essence of the story?  How can I tell it to put people in the room with the characters?  Where is an appropriate place for tension and/or humor?  Often times our stories don’t move people because we don’t spend enough time crafting how to tell them.

Want to hear some examples?  Here are two:

This one is 4 minutes.  I promise you’ve probably never heard of such a situation, yet, having never experienced it, you’ll find yourself in it.  Click here for this StoryCorp human sized story told well.

And then come back and listen to the first 5 minutes of this story.