2006-12-23 0 comments

The Greatest Underdog Story of All Time

In the latest evidence that "Newsweek" is seemingly obsessed with Christianity, the cover story and subsquent sidebars address the issue of "The world into which Jesus was born and raised has shaped morals for two millennia. How Jewish mores became Christianity's customs."

(UPDATE: The magazine's stories miss a lot. A lot. More af a line-by-line analysis later.)

OK, OK, I confess. It was the promise of an interview with Sylvester Stallone and the 1980-auteur's revival of the "Rocky" franchise with the fifth installment, titled "Rocky Balboa."

(Contrary to popular belief -- or this link -- there is no such thing as a "Rocky V." You hear me? It didn't happen.)

If I had a chance to meet, say, five famous people, alive or dead, Stallone would be on the list. Call it corny or a childish fantasy, but I love those movies. They are, as a whole, my favorite movie of all time. Bar none.

I still have, in my possession, a pair of Rocky swimming trunks; a "Rocky IV" cut-off T-shirt; a pair of boxing gloves that, in the absence of an opponent (read: my brother or my dad) I would use to hit myself in the face while acting out scenes from the movies; and, my personal favorite, a long-sleeved T-shirt that I myself designed back when you could find those T-shirt kiosks in the mall what would outfit the shirt of your choice with any number of cheesy images (wizards, Trans-Ams, buxom babes in bikinis, etc.) and, then, personlize them with puffy letters. If you were born in the early- to mid-70s, you know what I'm talking about. Anyway, my shirt was white with black sleeves, a snarling tiger on the front, puffy yellow letters down each arm that say "Rocky Balboa" and, on the back, even bigger puffy letters (black this time) that say, "Eye of the Tiger." Needless to say, my career as a clothes desinger coincided with "Rocky III," which coined the "Eye of the Tiger" phrase.

You know why I would like to meet Stallone? I want to shake his hand, pat him on the back, and say, "thanks." Without those movies, my childhood would not have been as good as it was. And I'm being completely serious.

The question all this raises is why are we so drawn to underdog stories? The "Rocky" franchise bills itself as "The Greatest Underdog Story of Our Time," and I don't doubt that's true. A down-on-his-luck fighter gets an inexplicable shot at the heavyweight champion of the world, trains his butt off and, in the greatest heavyweight fight of all time (if it were real, that is), takes the champ all 15 rounds before losing. Thing is, he didn't really lose ... oh, he lost the fight, but he won his dignity, his respect.

Of course, in subsequent movies, things change. He gets famous, rich, etc. But the point of it all is the same: a guy "whose whole life was a million-to-one shot" makes something of himself from the sweat of his brow ... and the meat of his fists. Now that's a story.

The Greatest Underdog Story of Our Time? Yeah, I buy it.

But it's not the Greatest Underdog Story of All Time. Another tale takes that title.

Here's an illustration that you may not recognize, but bear with me: Let's say there's this unwed woman living in Afghanistan. She's nine-month's pregnant, and homeless. She's forced by the Taliban to go back to where she was born in a small region near the Pakistani border to register with the authorities, not only so they can keep track of her, but because they are instituting a "taxation without representation" system to the provinces it governs.

She's broke and overtaxed, living in a land that erupts from time to time by civil war and ruled by a government with no legitimate claims to do so. When she finally has her baby, she does so without the benefit of a doctor and, out of fear for the baby's safety in a land where a ruler like Osama Bin Laden is running the show, she takes off for Africa, where's she's never been. She's 14 years old.

That's a modern context, but it's the kind of circumstances into which Jesus was born. Was there any historical figure that was as much an underdog as Jesus? Growing up, Jesus knew the poor, the oppressed and the powerless firsthand.

Is it any wonder that the first person He ever told He was the Messiah was a woman who'd been married five times and was living with a man that wasn't number six. Jesus associated with these types of people for a reason: that's who He came to save.

And because He started His life in such rough-and-tumble circumstances, He was the ultimate underdog, whether He was God or not.

Jesus loved people for whom the future is not secure. He could relate.

Do you have an underdog's attitude? Do you make an effort to help feed the woman in line at Go-Mart with the handful of food stamps. Do you donate your time at the homeless shelter? Are you an underdog? There are many people who are.

This is, of course, the worst time of year for those against whom life has turned its back. And that's why Jesus can relate so much ... He came into this world as God, yes, but He was the biggest underdog of them all.

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2006. all rights under copyright reserved.)

2006-12-22 0 comments

Maybe this isn't the best idea

Take a minute and read this story from the Los Angeles Times:

The setting: post-apocalypse Manhattan.
The heroes: the Tribulation Force.
Their mission: defeat Satan by bringing the world to Christ.
Inspired by a hugely popular book series, the new video game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces'' deposits players in a futuristic world where born-again Christians must use prayer and song to convert the infidels -- or tanks and snipers to blow them away. The game is being promoted to Christian teens as "the ultimate fight of good vs. evil.''
But with just eight days left in the Christmas shopping season, it's coming under heavy fire.
A coalition of liberal Christian groups has complained that the video game is too violent, intolerant and divisive to be properly called Christian.
"It's essentially a training video for faith-based killing, marketed to children,'' said the Rev. Tim Simpson, a volunteer pastor with a Presbyterian church in Jacksonville, Fla.
There is no blood or gore in the game; when bodies fall, they simply disappear. And you rack up more points by converting your enemies to Christianity than by killing them. But it's hard to advance with a strictly pacifist approach, since you're constantly under attack by the antichrist's army -- which resembles the United Nations. (You atone for mowing down the bad guys by pushing a ‘prayer' key, which builds your strength for more fighting.)
"I can't think of anything more antithetical to the gospel of Christ,'' said Simpson, who runs an organization called the Christian Alliance for Progress. "The message is that God intends for everyone who doesn't share your faith to be whacked.''
Game creator Troy Lyndon dismisses such objections as alarmist. He says the point of the game is to spur teens to start thinking about "matters of eternal importance'' -- such as the fate of their souls.
Players advance by picking up clues that are supposed to get them thinking about the Biblical prophesy of the Rapture, when believers expect to ascend to heaven, leaving behind a ravaged Earth. The game is set after the Rapture, when those left behind are divided into two warring camps: born-again believers against the forces of Satan.
Lyndon acknowledges that most gamers won't tarry on the scriptural analysis in the clues when there are battles to be fought and heathens to evangelize. But those who care to learn more can click over to a Web site that invites them to accept Christ -- and incidentally, renounce Darwin.
"We're out to make a difference,'' said Lyndon, the chief executive of Left Behind Games Inc., based in Murrieta, Calif.
The game has been endorsed by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. In an online review, the ministry noted that warfare is integral to the game, just as it is to the "Left Behind'' novels, which have sold 63 million copies. But the reviewer called concerns about the violence exaggerated, writing: "Eternal Forces is the kind of game that mom and dad can actually play with Junior -- and use to raise some interesting questions along the way.''
The liberal Christian groups that oppose the game have gathered 28,000 signatures of protest through the Web site DefConAmerica.org. By comparison, the conservative American Family Association last year collected 500,000 pledges to boycott Target for using "holiday'' instead of "Christmas'' in its marketing.
It's unclear whether the protest against the video game has had much effect. Andy Butcher, editor of Christian Retailing magazine, said Christian bookstores "have been a little slow'' to stock it. But he attributes that not to unease about the content, but to fear of competition from Wal-Mart, which sells "Eternal Forces'' for less than $40. (Christian retailers can't match Wal-Mart's volume discounts, so they're selling it for $45 to $60, sometimes bundled with a Bible.)
For his part, Lyndon says the controversy "has been great for the product,'' though he won't release sales figures. Certainly, the fracas has given the game worldwide media exposure; just last week, Lyndon was interviewed by German TV and British radio.
Between interviews, he's been supervising fixes to the game, such as muting one character's annoying tic of repeatedly shouting "Praise the Lord!'' He's also working on a sequel.
"I want to show that thinking about what may happen when you die can be as fun as being in an Indiana Jones film,'' Lyndon said. "It's an adventure.''


Frankly, as a Christian, this kind of stuff makes me cringe. Reading the "Left Behind" novels is one thing (which I did, and enjoyed). Acting it out in some corny video game that will do little more than elicit guffaws from the media is something else entirely.

Not that this news story isn't without its faults. To be sure, the reporter takes her cheap shots at all of us right-wing, gay-hating bigots who so foolishly believe that there's more to life than what we see out of our windows.

Specifically, she uses thinly-veiled, snide remarks about Christians with passages like: "born-again Christians must use prayer and song to convert the infidels" and "most gamers won't tarry on the scriptural analysis in the clues when there are battles to be fought and heathens to evangelize."

(Yes, yes ... all non-believers are infidels and heathens, and they're lucky we don't just all blow them away with shotguns and get it over with. Not only are we all ignorant, we're evil to boot.)

Yes, yes, we're all so terribly stupid for believing that God actually came to earth as a man, lived a sinless life and died to save the sins of the world and that, one day, we'll live with him in heaven for eternity. Please be patient with us. We are a little slow.

(Silly little Christian, myths are for kids.)

What's sad about all this is what gets lost in the shuffle: the very real fact that God exists, that Christ died for our sins and that, someday, He will judge us according to whether we have accepted His gift of salvation or rejected it.

I think games like "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" are misguided, as are the umpteen billion sequels to the original series of novels. If the goal is to interest more people in eschatology and bring the message of salvation to more people, then I pray God blesses those efforts.

But what I fear will happen is an inevitable backlash against this time of evangelism to the point that you'll continue to read these slanted stories that portray our faith as worthy of nothing more than a punch line. The only demographic (ethnic, cultural or religious) that it's perfectly OK to make fun of is born-again Christians. So come on, let's not make it any easier on them.

You know what? I have no problem with pointing out to people that there is a price to be paid for A) sin and B) not accepting the forgiveness to that sin.

It's just that the best way to do it isn't to set them in front of a video game where they can "mow down the bad guys by pushing a 'prayer key.'"

Instead, why not mow someone's grass? Why not send them a random card? Why not invite them for dinner and not spend all hour telling them how they're going to hell? Why not volunteer at a local food bank, give your coat to a coat drive, make a bologna sandwich and give it to that guy who always asks you for spare change on your way to work?

There's nothing wrong with having a sense of urgency for the lost when Christ could come back for His church at any time.

But there's a better way.

2006-12-18 2 comments

Under the fig tree

“Before Philip called you, when you were under that fig tree, I saw you.”
(John 1:48)

He can't see his own feet.
Not only are they moving too quickly -- indeed, the Galilean is running faster than he ever has before -- but the dust kicking up from the road is swirling around him in a red cloud.
It's a hot day in Bethsaida, and the man is sweating.
His uncut hair is a tangled mess of black curls atop his head. His modest tunic hangs off a well-tanned shoulder, and he has to slow down at times to make sure the whole thing doesn't fall off as he runs.
But he dares not stop. Slow down? Regrettably, yes. But stop? No. This is far too important a message to deliver.
Up ahead, Nathanael sits beneath a tree. He looks to his left, and sees the man running toward him.
Is that Philip?
It is.
Nathanael would normally smile at his best friend's arrival, but there's something in his eyes, something frantic, that tell Nathanael that something is … no, not wrong. That’s not the right word. By the time Philip makes it to the shade of the fig tree he is terribly out of breath, and his best friend is officially worried.
He spits the words in short gasps.
“He's here,” Philip says, barely managing the words. His right hand is on his own knee, his other gripping Nathanael's wrist, partly for support, but also to make sure he has his friend's attention. He’s bent over, staring down at the red dirt at his feet, squinting as the stinging sweat runs from his brow into his eyes. Some of it drips down and creates minute watery explosions on the ground. Overhead, the sun is bright.
“Who, Philip? Who is here?”
Philip raises his head sideways to look up. He's still bending over, still holding onto Nathanael's wrist, still fighting for air. The two men's eyes meet for this first time this day.
Nathanael can see his friend has been crying, but Philip appears neither hurt nor afraid. “Jesus,” Philip says. “Jesus is here. Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah. I've found Him.
“No, wait.”
Nathanael waits.
“He's found me.”

Imagine what it must have been like.
Philip and Nathanael's people had waited over a thousand years for this moment. Generations had passed from the world, each born with the promise that one day the Messiah would come, each with the hope that it would happen in their lifetimes, each with sorrow and sadness as they left this world judged by God's Old Covenant. All were seeking the one the prophets had promised would come and deliver them.
Today was that day for Philip and Nathanael.
(Take a minute to read John 1:43-50.)
Right there, in verse 43, Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who was to take away the sins of this world, the one whom Philip's father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather, going all the way back to the days of Moses, the one whom all of them had been seeking ... right there, in that one verse, the very promise of God walks up to Philip in the middle of the afternoon on a typical day in Galilee and says, quite simply, “Follow me.”
Nathanael thought his friend was crazy. Still, he was open when the call came.
Oh, it wasn’t as if he didn't question it ... he was a lot like us in that respect.
The Son of God? From Nazareth?
“Are you sure? Nazareth? That little hole in the wall?”
But when Philip said, “Come and see,” Nathanael came and saw.
That’s an admirable attitude, one borne out of a hope and expectation of the revelation of Christ. Jews in first-century Palestine were an expectant lot. They were under the yoke of oppression from a foreign empire, a daily reminder that their lives were not as fulfilled as they could be.
Sound familiar?
Our war is against our flesh, our human nature. Our invading empire is the sin raging rampantly within us.
That being the case, does our attitude reflect Phillip’s and Nathanael’s? Are we looking forward to Christ with expectation?
I’m not talking about His coming. I’m talking about every day, every morning when we wake up. Do we wait expectantly for Him and what He will accomplish to His glory through us?
We must be willing to “come and see.”
We cannot expect God to talk to us from across the country. We cannot expect Him to speak to us and reveal to us the purpose for which we have been created and the wonderful things we can accomplish through His power if we are sitting under a fig tree ... or, to modernize the story, if we are sitting on the couch wondering why God doesn't speak to us. We must step out, come and then see.
When Nathanael came to see what all the fuss was about, Jesus spotted him coming from a great distance. Likewise, the Lord knows when we are seeking Him. The Bible says, and I'm paraphrasing again, “draw close to me and I'll draw close to you.”
The amazing thing about this verse is that Jesus knew immediately how He could use Nathanael for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Still, ol' Nathan was confused. He'd probably never seen this man before (and, if he did, he only knew Him as a Jewish carpenter from a nearby town).
But Jesus knew him. “I saw you ... come out from that fig tree,” Jesus was calling.
He's calling us, too.
God desperately wants a more intimate relationship with us ... He longs to speak to us, and when we truly surrender our lives to Him, we'll know His voice.
Here's where it all comes together in this story. Nathanael may not have ever seen Jesus before. But when He heard about Him, he came out from under that fig tree.
The result? When Christ spoke, Nathanael knew because he had heeded the call.
“Rabbi! You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Nathanael said. He only heard but one sentence from the Master, and Nathanael knew.
What was his reward for heeding the call, for knowing the voice of God? It's the same one we can have. You can imagine Christ saying the same words to you as He did to Nathanael that hot day in Bethsaida, the same words he speaks when He answers prayer, when we read His word, when He wraps us up in His loving arms by showering us with blessings. It's all there for us, if we really want it.
And, like He said to Nathanael, we could easily imagine Him saying to us, “You ain't seen nothing yet.”
“You shall see greater things than that; and you will know the truth.”

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner. all rights under copyright reserved)
2006-12-05 1 comments

Christmas reading

It's the Christmas season, of course, and with that in mind, read the following passage from Philp Yancey's book "The Jesus I Never Knew."

Oh, and if you haven't read it, turn off your computer, grab your car keys and head out to the bookstore, buy a copy, and then read it. Right now.



On to the passage!

"Nine months of awkward explanations, the lingering scent of scandal -- it seems that God arranged the most humiliating circumstances possible for His entrance, as if to avoid any charge of favoritism. I am impressed that when the Son of God became a human being, He played by the rules, harsh rules: small towns do not treat kindly young boys who grow up with questionable paternity.

Malcom Muggeridge observed that in our day, with family-planning clinics offering convenient ways to correct 'mistakes' that might disgrace a family name, 'It is, in point of fact, extremely improbable, under existing conditions, that Jesus would have been permitted to be born at all. Mary's pregnancy, in poor circumstances, and with the father unknown, would have been an obvious case for an abortion; and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger. Thus our generation, needing a Savior more, perhaps, than any that has ever existed, would be too humane to allow one to be born.'

The virgin Mary, though, whose parenthood was unplanned, had a different response. She heard the angel out, pondered the repurcussions, and replied, 'I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said.' Often a work of God comes with two edges, great joy and great pain, and in that matter-of-fact response Mary embraced both. She was the first person to accept Jesus on His own terms, regardless of the personal cost." (emphasis mine)

So, do you want to accept Jesus on His terms? Are you ready to abandon your right to yourself and live wholly -- and holy -- in His grace? Check this link out.
2006-11-17 3 comments

Why some atheists make good sense

Just got finished reading an interesting column in a recent Newsweek. I thought I might take a few minutes over a few different posts to respond.

So, take a minute to read this column, and let's sit a spell -- to use the parlance of my southern West Virginia roots -- and talk a bit about it, point by point.

"Given the most common interpretation of of Biblical prophecy, it is not an exaggeration to say that nearly half the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. It should be clear that this faith-based nihilism provides its adherents with absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilzation -- economically, environmentally or geopolitically."

First, let's nit-pick. As Christians, we are not anticipating the end of the world. We are anticipating the perfection of the fallen world in which we live. This is an important distinction that thsoe critical of Christians miss.

His second point, that Christians have no incentive to build a sustainable civilization smacks of truth, unfortunately. In an earnest desire to avoid an attitude the Bible warns about -- that the world comes to love the creation more than the creator -- many Christians from older generations take that thought to its extreme. Why recycle when we live in a dying world anyway? Because it's good stewardship, that's why.

Then, you must look at the shifting sands of Christian culture. We are rapidly moving beyond the fundamentalist thought of pre-Baby Boomer Christendom. Now, don't misunderstand: Christian beliefs are Christian beliefs, truth is truth, Jesus is the only way to salvation. Anyone who would say that we must concede bedrock principles to make ourselves relevant to post-modern culture does so at his peril. Jesus is Truth. Any orthodoxy that would distance itself even minutely away from that universal fact is flat-out wrong.

But the newer generations are embracing social activism, and that includes a healthy respect for economic, environmental and geopolitical issues. Christians are leading the way in pushing for greater worldwide assistance to the crisis in Sudan, for example. A weekend retreat I attended with a number of other young Christian men -- The Outpost -- had as one of its sessions a discussion entitled Environmentalism from a Christian Perspective.

As our generation of Christians become more educated and aware of our role in the world, we conversely become more aware of those issues that traditional evangelicals didn't embrace. It's not that they were wrong; they just didn't know any better (I hope that doesn't sound condescending ... it's not meant that way, I assure you.)

Our attitudes about the creation should reflect those about the Creator. I firmly believe that. And it's not because we can change the order God has set in motion. It's because, as Christians, our attitude about the world should be pure, beautiful and caring. Just like Jesus.

(Talking about Bush's stance against adult stem cell research) "Specifically, he believes that there is a soul in every 3-day-old human embyro, and the interests of one soul -- the soul of a little girl with burns over 75 percent of her body, for instance -- cannot trump the interests of another soul, even if that soul happens to live inside a petri dish. Here, as ever, religious dogmatism impedes genuine wisdom and compassion."

Let's nit-pick again. If Harris is an atheist, then why should he care about the soul of a little girl with burns over 75 percent of her body? Does she even have a soul? Do atheists believe in souls?

But you know what? He's right. This following point I'm about to make actually makes me cringe, because it smacks of the type of argument unbelievers make about Christ when they don't actually know Him. But the point is that Jesus Himself fought against the religious authorities of His day with a vengence, partly because in their narrow-minded dogma they missed the point.

Christians, by relying too much on their religious apparati instead of the personality and teachings of Jesus Christ, make the same mistakes that the Pharisees did.

I'm not taking a stance on stem cell research. I have a stance on it, but I try to avoid talking politics here. (Needless to say, my stance is at odds with a majority of evangelicals out there ... I know far too many people who I love deeply that could benefit from legitimate medical research ... wait, did I just reveal my position?)

But the point is our attitude about human suffering should mirror Christ's. And if the world sees us as lacking compassion, then we are doing something wrong. Watch the movie "Saved!," and you'll see what I mean. As a Christian, that film is terribly offensive to me. But you know what? I own that movie. Bought it at Blockbuster, $9.99, pre-viewed. Why? Because I want to know what the world thinks of me -- and what we are doing wrong that make them think that.

There's more to this column I want to address. We'll get to it later.

2006-11-09 1 comments


I never took higher science classes. Biology II in high school, but that was because the end of the year project was a bug collection. I like bugs.

Oh, and I took Geology in college, but that's because I like rocks. Bugs and rocks ... every 8 year-old boy's dream.

But I'm not an 8 year-old boy anymore, unless you ask my wife. Bugs and rocks, so I'm guilty, I suppose.

See, an 8 year-old boy wouldn't be afraid of flying, and I'm desperately so. I can't put my mind around the physics of it, you understand. I suppose it would be better if I'd taken classes that were more advanced than the study of bugs and/or rocks. But I didn't. So there.

The Embraer ERJ 145 airplane I flew in to New York a couple of weeks ago weighed approximately 38,000 pounds. Now, I don't know much about thrust, airfoils and whatever else it takes to get that puppy in the air and keep it there. And don't even get me started on why flying through cumulus clouds makes the multi-ton behemoth do the watusi at 28,000 feet. All I know is that my stomach doesn't like this.

I flew from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. one time -- never, ever go through Washington-Dulles, by the way; there's a free tip for you -- on a prop plane ... during a snowstorm ... before daybreak.

Nightmare doesn't begin to describe it. I'm not sure what made the plane shudder like a Maytag filled with 82 pounds of unbalanced bath towels. It could have been the chunks of ice that would dislodge from the nose of the plane and come careening back toward the propellers and explode when they hit the blades, or it could have been the Nor'Easter that no one bothered to tell the pilot was pounding the eastern seaboard. Could have been either one, frankly.

You want to know how to tell if you're on a bad flight? Watch the flight attendant. But on this trip, it wasn't an option. She was too busy sitting in her seat up front and staring at the floor. I think I heard a few Hail Marys, but I can't be sure.

I have a dozen stories like these, enough that I feel closer to God when on a business trip than anywhere else. I'm not kidding. I'm praying from check in to baggage claim.

But here's the curious thing: God rarely assuages my fear. Oh, there have been a few times He really cleared my mind, and quickly; flying into my home airport during a rainstorm one time, I almost audibly heard Him say "You are worth more than many sparrows," but for the most part, The Big Guy lets me deal with the stress on my own.

It ticked me off, to be honest with you. I never really understood why He was so cavalier about my fear. He has the ability to knock it out in one fell swoop, does He not? Yet each time that plane lifts off, I'm as nervous as Mike Tyson in a spelling bee (with apologies for blatantly ripping off Mark Driscoll on that one).

I never understood. At least, not until that flight to New York.

Christians can be put into two categories, for the most part: Milk Christians and Meat Christians. Milk Christians can't get too deep into the finer aspects of their spirituality. They are babes in Christ, still on the breast, not able to handle solid foods.

Meat Christians are warriors of the faith, able to look beyond surface level explorations of a life in Christ. Milk is fine for breakfast, but when dinner rolls around, it's time for a nice, juicy steak. Try giving filet mignon to my 17-month old. Not only couldn't her immature digestive system handle it, she'd refuse it as a matter of principle.

(The Apostle Paul wrote about this in some detail ... read 1 Corinthians 3 for more.)

Milk Christians are all about themselves and their own relationship to God: "Hallelujah, Christ is mine!" "Man, I can't wait to get to heaven ... won't it be cool?"

Meat Christians are all about God Himself, and what they can do to serve Him by serving others: "Man, I can't wait to tell others about heaven ... won't they think it's so cool?"

My fear of flying is solely the result of my own inadequacies as a Christian. Those Lord's Prayers I spout every time the plane hurtles down the runway? Those are Milk Christian prayers, sent to God purely to save my own skin, to keep myself from fear, to make myself more secure. They have nothing to do with anyone else -- except maybe the times I try to bribe God by explaning to Him that my wife wouldn't be able to raise two kids without me. And even then, it's all about me.

No, I need to start being a Meat Christian out on that runway, and that thought occured to me on a recent flight to New York. Why am I whining to God that He should keep me safe?

What about my wife, left home alone with two kids while I'm on a business trip? What about my dad, working a stressful job? What about a friend at work, going through a divorce? What about my daughters, their health and continuted development? What about my mom? What about my in-laws? My pastor? My co-workers? My neighbor? The Sudanese in Darfur? The homeless man who sleeps beneath the freeway less than a mile from my home? That guy at the gym who really annoys me?

It's shameful, really, that I'm too busy praying for my own skin when there's many more opportunities for intecessory prayer out there.

The question, then, is whether if I changed my attitude out there, focusing on others instead of my cowardly self, would God answer my original prayer and calm my frayed nerves?

Maybe, maybe not. But I can guarantee one thing: If I'm praying about someone else, how much time would I have to worry about myself?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

(copyright andrew j. beckner, 2006. all rights under copyright reserved)

2006-10-19 0 comments

Relating to the lost

"Now, He had to go through Samaria."
(John 4:4)

Controversial stuff in the previous video post from Mark Driscoll, founder and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle (lots of links to his other stuff on your right), but here and here are quick links for all you lazy people who've never looked at the links section. There are some good things there, you know ... hint, hint.

If you haven't watched the video yet -- it's a little under eight minutes long -- check it out.

Like I said, controversial. At least it's controversial where I come from ... going to a bar to just talk to people, without an agenda or tracts? That doesn't really fly with some of the fundamentalists I grew up with, wonderful people though they are.

I recognize the apprehension in taking advice from any Tom, Dick and Harry with a pulpit, a book or a blog. The fear is that in today's culture, there seems to be a rash of ungodly men and women who love to tell you who Jesus was and what He did just so that they can justify their own lifestyle choices regardless of the morality of those choices.

The problem is, they don't have the first clue who He is because they've never met Him.

Mark Driscoll? Oh, He knows Jesus all right. That's why I think there's a lot of truth to what he's saying here. Your thoughts?

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner. all rights under copyright reserved)
2006-10-18 0 comments
Relating to Sinners - Mark Driscoll

Driscoll, of Mars Hill Church fame, here brings up an interesting and controversial topic. More to come ...
2006-10-07 0 comments

Is there a better place to see God's omnipotent handiwork than in the face of a child?

Those are my daughters, by the way ... my first, Belle Maria, is 16 months-old, the firecracker that makes our lives explosive -- and awe-inspiringly beautiful.

That little one? She's Lilly Ann June, our second, born on Monday, October 2 ... Yom Kippur. That's the Jewish day of atonement, set aside by God (and recorded in Leviticus) for the people to fast, rest and receive atonement for their sins.

Now, my decision to accept Christ as my savior already atoned for my sins, but when I see my little June Bug, I'm reminded just how far Jesus has brought me from the life I used to live. If she's not an example of God's prevenient grace and atonement, I don't know what is.

No wonder Jesus admonised his disciples when they tried to prevent children from crowding around him ... maybe He wanted reminding of His most precious creation.

2006-09-29 0 comments

What I hate I always do ...

Lest there be any hint that the separation of church and state is a narrowing gap, the U.S. government makes no attempt at compiling demographic data on religious life in our country.

That's where the Barna Group comes in. That organization, started, appropriately enough, by a man named George Barna, seeks "to partner with Christian ministries and individuals to be a catalyst in moral and spiritual transformation in the United States." One of the ways in which this is accomplished is through statistical research and analysis on Christians worldwide. (There's fascinating stuff on the website ... give it a look-see.)

Barna reports that there are approximately 87-89 million born again Christians in the world. Now, we're not talking about "religious consumers," i.e., those people who, for one reason or another, go to church every so often. Let's face it, our communities are full of people who go to church on certain Sundays out of a sense of moral obligation or because "that's what upstanding members of the community do." Going to church and having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is not the same thing.

So, the definition Barna uses, quite appropriately, to describe a Christian:

"is not defined on the basis of characterizing themselves as 'born again' but based upon their answers to two questions. The first is 'have you ever made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in your life today?' If the respondent says 'yes,' then they are asked a follow-up question about life after death. One of the seven perspectives a respondent may choose is 'when I die, I will go to Heaven because I have confessed my sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior.' Individuals who answer 'yes' to the first question and select this statement as their belief about their own salvation are then categorized as 'born again.'"

The point? I'm getting to it.

What would happen, do you think, if each and every one of those roughly 90 million people decided, for the next year, to ensure that the way they lived their lives as closely as possible mirrored the way Christ lived His. You know, the classic (and often parodied) mantra "What Would Jesus Do?" If every decision of every day was lived with this concept in mind, how much different would our world be?

Let's take it a step further. How many of us think about the crises of our world at large? How many of us know what's happening in the Darfur region of Sudan? The AIDS crisis in Africa? The still-ongoing rebuilding of Southeast Asia following that dreadful tsunami? New Orleans? Homelessness in our own community?

The biggest obstacle to investing our time and energy into these problems is our old nemesis (or old friend?) human nature. Such is the bane of our Christian walk in that it is always at war with our spiritual man. Paul wrote extensively about this to the Roman church, saying "... if the power of sin keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I really don't do it; I desire not to do bad, but I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and get the better of me every time" (Portions of Romans 7, from The Message: Remix). (Click here for a more traditional translation.)

Yet what we are asked -- nay, called -- of God to do is sacrifice what Oswald Chambers calls "the right to self." He writes:

"Are you willing to obey your Lord and Master whatever the humiliation to your right to yourself might be?"

Ah, now that's a problem to our natural sensibilities, and it's made worse by a non-Christian worldview that prides itself on the celebration of self. Anything contrary to that modern paradigm is not only suspect, it's downright dangerous. Our culture literally begs us to ignore any hint of altruism. Indeed, our culture groans with disdain against the very idea of selflessness.

Is altruism dead? Maybe. But regardless of what we think we're getting out of helping others, the singular fact remains that our Christian responsibility must take precedence over our culture's need to feel better about itself. After all, what does it say about John Q. Public that he passes the homeless man with nary a glance in his direction while the next guy stops to say hello?

It's a terrible mistake to cloak charity in a mask of political currency: "well, if I buy this Mercedes, then that spurs our economy and helps the little guy eventually. I get to ride in style, and my taxes go to help build homeless shelters. Everybody wins!"

Why not cut out the middle man? What if all 90 million of us did?

That brings us to the high idealism of Christ's Sermon on the Mount. Oswald Chambers again writes that in every person lies a "central citadel of obstinancy: 'I will not give up my right to myself'" but it is "the thing God intends you to give up if you are ever going to be a disciple of Christ."

And to be that, we must allow Jesus Christ to alter our disposition and put in one like His own. He is the only one who can fulfill the terribly impossible ideal of the Sermon on the Mount.

But by Him living in us -- and our desire to try -- we can change the world.

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner. all rights under copyright reserved.)

2006-09-11 0 comments
this is an audio post - click to play
2006-09-09 0 comments

Ch - ch - ch - changes

Thought I'd do a little design change in absence of any new writing ... I've got a few things floating around in the ol' noggin, to be sure, just nothing substantive enough to make the fingers start typing.

I'm going to add some new links, maybe pull some old ones, and come up with a podcast directory for the links section. I'm hooked on podcasting, and you should be, too. Good stuff floating out there in the ether. Just gotta know how to get it.

So, like or hate some of the design changes, feel free to let me know. From the looks of things, I'm getting some more hits lately, so if anyone's out there and hasn't said hello yet, well, shame on you.

Just kidding ... or am I?

(God bless you, at any rate. I'm sure He does.)
2006-08-25 0 comments

Christ in the clutch

"And we know that all things work together for good for them that love Christ, for them that are called according to His purpose. "

(Romans 8:28)

Bandwagon fans irritate me. Can't stand 'em. Indeed, I take sports loyalties to the opposite extreme ... if there's a dominant team that everyone loves, you can bet I'll take sides with their rival, if only out of spite.

So it was that in the early 1990s, when the NBA was at the height of its popularity (and it's coming back to that point, I'm happy to say, with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and a new crop of superstars ... but I digress) I took up with the New York Knicks. I'd never really had a favorite NBA team until the Knicks were absolutely tortured throughout the 90s by a certain Chicago Bull name of Michael Jordan.

Some of MJ's luster has come off in recent years, what with his penchant for high stakes gambling, stints as a mediocre GM and, of course, his most recent -- and regrettable -- comeback.

But the singular fact remains: when Jordan was at his best, it was a wonder to behold. And this is coming from a Knicks fan, mind you. So it has to be true.

As such, I have a rather keen perspective on Jordan's magic. In short, it was incredible. It got to the point that no matter how many times he shot -- and it was a lot, mind you -- you always thought it was going in. Really. If you never saw him play in his prime it's hard to understand this.

OK, you know how it's a surprise when Tiger Woods doesn't win a Major? That was the way it was when Jordan took a shot. If it didn't go in, you were, frankly, shocked.

That sort of reputation isn't built overnight. It's borne out night after night, game after game.

Here's the spiritual insight: my wife had a rough go of it recently. I won't go into detail, but she was worried about how things were going to turn out for her and, by extension, our family. She had a hard time relying on the faith that God would, invariably, take care of everything.

Now, there are a lot of aspects of my Christian life with which I struggle. But faith is not one of them. I'm pretty strong that way -- I absolutely know, without a shadow of a doubt, that in each life event God will engineer the circumstances that will A) turn out for the best, and B) bring Him glory.

So after everything worked out (surprise, surprise) my wife asked me why I had that kind of faith (and, again, this isn't a "hey everyone, look at how great I am" kind of post. I promise you, I struggle with things that no mature Christian should ... it's just that faith isn't one of them). And I told her about Michael Jordan.

See, if you were a Bulls fan and the game was tied with three seconds left and MJ had the ball, you weren't exactly chewing on your fingernails. Any butterflies you might have had were the kind that only come with the anticipation of pure bliss. Such was Jordan's abilities.

Of course, there were times that Jordan missed, after all. He didn't make every shot. Remember those last two seasons with the Washington Wizards?

If you are a Christian, you can have the kind of assurance that, no matter how the chips are down, Jesus is gonna hit that buzzer beater. Every time.

So, does it feel like your life is in the fourth quarter, that you're down by two with three seconds left?

It's real simple, folks. Just call a timeout, look down that bench and put Jesus in the game.

Trust me, he's got a heck of a jump shot.

Want to know Jesus? Read Romans 10:9,10, then click on this link to find out how you can be on Christ's team. It never loses.

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner, all rights under copyright reserved)

2006-08-01 1 comments

A preface for later ...

I've been thinking about heaven lately, and I'm working on a few paragraphs of pitiful prose about it. I'm just not ready to start typing it all up in the blog yet and subject another round of ramblings to public scrutiny, for good or ill.

So, this is a preface.

First, a special thank you is in order for Jim Eaton, who runs The Outpost. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days with Jim and some of his friends up at Spruce Knob -- it was nice to welcome some city slickers from Atlanta and Pittsburgh to my neck of the woods (literally), even though they were hosting the whole shindig. Good fellowship, good conversation, good times (the impromptu "Aaron Shust: Storytellers" episode out by the camp fire was especially memorable, as was the Emerging Church pow-wow on Saturday morning).

I had to leave early, which I regretted, but the Lord truly blessed me to be able to get to know Jim and Co., if only for a little while.

Why a thank you? Well, The West Virginia Advance 2006 was nearly a month ago, meaning it's well past time to give the guys a shout out and a public "thank you." Hope you guys see this.

Second, he brought a few things to my attention -- specifically, some of the questions and concerns I had about the Emerging Church movement, some ideas on the difference between "emerging" and "emergent" (there's a world of difference there, believe me -- and I want to get into it here in a few weeks), and a few things to read.

(The things I learned about the Emerging Church, again, I'll save for later. Tons there. )

Jim turned me onto Mark Driscoll's book "Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church." It's a great, great read for those of you looking to expand your ministry into areas of church planting, church attendance and church "action."

Driscoll is the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church, one of the fastest growing and most influential churches in America. He and his ministry have, in a very short amount of time, stirred something within me that God has wanted to come out of dormancy for a good long time now -- how long I don't know. It's not like I've been cultivating it, at least in the way He's wanted. Heck, I don't even know what He has planned yet, but it's something.

Long story short (or short story long, as it were; I get a little long winded with these things sometimes), I've been filling my MP3 player full of podcasts from Driscoll's ongoing sermon series about 1 Corinthians. In one of them he addressed the concept of Heaven ... well, if I don't quit while I'm ahead I'll end up writing too much today (oops, too late).

Anywho, I highly recommend checking out the Mars Hill website and, if you are so technologically inclined, giving the podcasts a whirl. It's pretty much all I've been listening to lately, and I'm partnering the sermons with a classic J. Vernon McGee study on 1 Corinthians while reading through the book myself. Good times.

Anyway, thanks again, Jim ... you and your ministry are in my prayers.

2006-07-26 0 comments

the fear of nothing ...

"God's spirit doesn't make cowards of us. The Spirit gives us power, love and self-control."
(2 Timothy 1:7)

It was so stunningly swift, it took all of 30 seconds.

When I lowered my daughter from the safety of my arms to the cold sand, she first gripped tightly to my arms -- they pinched, those little, stubby fingers.

Then, after watching the salt water lap harmlessly at her ankles for mere moments, she raised her eyes to meet mine, flashed her five teeth and ran ... right toward a surf swelled by a storm offshore.

I'm 6-2, she's just a little over 2-6 -- and I could barely keep up. Heck, even taking a nice-sized wave to her face when I wasn't watching closely enough only stopped her briefly ... and then only so that she could properly lick the salt water off her face. She thought that was a hoot.

At first I chalked it up to ber robust personality -- she's been known to climb the stairs in our house if you turn away long enough, and a few weeks ago she gladly accepted my uncle's pet rat onto her shoulders just days after playing with a rather slimy salamander. Maybe that's the case. She is quite brave.

But here's another possible explanation: maybe her bravado was really a lack of perspective.

After all, she only sees what's in front of her. One wave at a time, as it were -- not the fact that they keep coming with what can be a relentless cruelty if you don't have the requisite humility for nature. Indeed, she sees a small patch of water, not a seemingly endless ocean whose bosom has within it all the scary denizens of the deep, to say nothing of rip currents and high tides. She's never seen "Jaws," after all.

Yes, it's her innocence that kept her fear at bay. Quite simply, she doesn't know to be afraid.

I heard a preacher recently give a sermon, some of which touched on the theme of innocence. He played the song "The End of the Innocence," by Don Henley (great, great tune, yes?) and asked, among other questions, "Do you remember when you didn't know what a hospital smelled like?" "Remember when you'd never had a broken heart?"

I know what a hospital smells like. My wife's grandfather just passed away on Sunday after battling complications from a heart attack for several weeks. Unfortunately, that isn't the first time I've been to a bedside vigil for a sick loved one. And it's not the first time my wife's heart has been broken.

It sounds simplistic and trite, but life is cruel in the way it works sometimes. When we're born, we're pretty much a blank slate -- what Locke called tabula rosa -- left to be filled with experiences. And each of those experiences, even the good ones, chips away at our innocence.

How I'd love to have the innocence of a child once again.

It's the same way when you accept Christ -- or, as Jesus put it, when you are "born again." But that second birth comes with a twist: instead of each experience robbing you of innocence, each experience of growing in Christ builds toward a new, perfect innocence. Yes, those memories are still there -- I'll never forget watching my beloved Granny pass from this life into the next -- but Christ's redemptive power through his sacrifice at Calvary restores to me that which sin has robbed.

Then, the most amazing thing happens. At that moment of death, innocence is perfectly restored when, very literally, we combine our spiritual renewal here on earht with our physical one in heaven. We are made completely new when we come into the actual presence of God.

So, just as our experiences chip away at that pristine slate of innocence -- that which allows my daughter to boldly run toward a wave I understand in my less-than-innocent mind is dangerous -- our rebirth and growth in Christ builds toward that day when we finally meet Him face to face, and our innocence is made whole again.

And, when I rise to meet my Savior in the morning of eternity, I'll take a quick little detour afterwards -- to run headlong into an ocean that will hold no fear.

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner)

Want to know how to get your innocence renewed through Christ? Click on this link, read Romans 10:9,10 in the Bible and/or send me an e-mail.
2006-07-13 0 comments

a sad reminder

"He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever -- Holy and awesome is His name."
(Psalm 111:9)

I saw myself last week, lying in a pool of blood just past midnight.

I saw my picture in the newspaper -- the reporter talked to a co-worker, who said "everyone is just shocked."

I saw my friends and family file into the funeral home. I saw them crying. My dad had to hold my mother up -- then take her home when she couldn't stand being there anymore.

Or maybe not. Maybe I saw myself two days ago, running my hands nervously through my disheveled hair. I'd run into an old friend, maybe, and was trying to explain why, at 30 years of age, I was still living in run-down apartments, still living on pizza and beer, still being the person I was. And knew I shouldn't be.

I shuffled my feet, avoided his eyes, maybe. I needed a shave.

"Yeah, just working," maybe I said. Maybe I was skinny -- too skinny -- and maybe I told the story of a mutual friend, now in prison for cooking meth.

But I was neither of those things last week -- or two days ago.

No, I'm married. And you should see my daughter -- oh, she's so beautiful. I'm healthy, happy ... a homeowner, for crying out loud (leaky basement and all!)

I want to tell you who I was.

I want to tell you who I am.

Last week, a young man was leaving his job as a bartender at a local restaurant. He worked there to provide for his live-in girlfriend, who is pregnant with the couple's first child. It was late -- just past midnight. A group of youths approached him, demanding his wallet. One of them had a gun. When he fought his attackers, he was shot in the head. He died almost instantly at the hands of a boy police say is just 16 years old.

I used to work at that same restaurant as a bartender a few years ago. I was about his age, and often parked my car in the same parking lot where he was killed. Why that parking lot in particular? Because it's free -- and I needed the money. Not only that, but I often carried a knife in my hand in case someone tried to rob me. When you are working a late bartending shift, you carry a lot of cash on the way home, see?

Then, just two days later, while shopping with my wife and daughter at Target, I ran into a friend from my restaurant days. He looked much the same as he did some six or seven years ago, when he was part of a group of friends to which I belonged. Drinking and drugs were the norm.

For anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant, you know it is a culture unto itself, full of its own rules and social norms. I was wrapped up in that culture for more than five years, and they had a devastating impact on my relationship to God. I'm overcome with emotion writing about it, really. I wasted so many years of my life chasing the sins of the flesh that it has, in many ways, left an indelible mark on the person that I am.

Of course, I'm free from all of that. The bondage of sin and death to which I was born -- and to which I most freely relished in those days -- has been loosed by the power of Christ in me. After knowing Him as a child, I strayed from His direction for my life for more than 10 years after graduating high school. Jesus welcomed me with open arms after I finally repented of the life I'd led -- he put on me the best robes He could find, and celebrated my return with a spiritual feast that has enveloped my life for the past few years (click here to read a similar story). Oh, how joyful a life He has given me!

But although that stain is gone from God's eyes, memories of who I was is painful. I hate that I was once innocent and now am "street smart." Some may think it a useful skill. I don't.

I hate that I know how to roll a joint. I hate knowing what certain drugs smell like when smoked. I hate knowing the difference between blended scotch and single malt.

I hate my past. I'm ashamed of it.

But here's the thing: it doesn't exist. Those things I once did? Gone. Literally gone. It's a Christian idea we refer to as "the sea of forgetfulness." Imagine your sins, everything you've ever done, completely drowned in the utter vastness of the ocean. And this is an ocean as deep and as wide as you've never seen.

I'm overjoyed at knowing that Christ's sacrifice on the cross has bridged the gap between my imperfection and the perfect love of God. Christ's love is so vast, it pours out into this great ocean, swallowing up everything I've ever done.

John Wesley wrote of the concept of "prevenient grace," that unmerited favor of God that pursues us throughout our lives, seeking to restore us into a right relationship with Him. All of our lives, He engineers circumstances in the world around us to reveal His perfect will for us. A preacher friend of mine likened it to the children's book "The Runaway Bunny."

"If you run away ... I will come after you, for you are my little bunny."

I ran and I ran and I ran. Christ not only came after me when I was mired in the muck of sin, but He also watched over me and protected me while I was there.

Because, really, I had two choices: I could have stayed there and died quickly -- like the young man at the hands of a teenager's bullet -- or died slowly -- like the friend of mine who lives where I once hung my hat.

I saw myself this morning, lying fully engulfed in the grace of my God.

(copyright 2006, andrew j. beckner)

2006-07-07 0 comments

Statement of Faith

Want the short version? It's all about Jesus. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," Jesus once said. "No one comes to the Father except through me." Not a lot of ambiguity there, huh? Our post-modern culture has embraced the "grayness" of life. It doesn't like black and white. It doesn't like the concept of Truth. But our culture has run into a very big problem. Jesus says He is Truth. Jesus says there is black and white, right and wrong, sin and righteousness, mercy and justice. And Jesus says the distinction comes only from Him.

Don't be mad at me. I didn't make the rules.

Perhaps my grandfather said it best: "No creed but Christ. No law but love." That's good stuff.

More? I like the Mars Hill Church "What We Believe" page, specifically their opening statement. It goes like this:

"When it comes to doctrine, culture, preferences, traditions, lifestyles, politics, behavior, etc., Mars Hill takes a closed hand/open hand approach. The closed hand hangs onto the non-negotiable tenets of Christian orthodoxy: sin is the problem, Jesus is the answer, the Bible is true, Hell is hot. The open hand, however, allows room for differences when it comes to secondary matters; we liberally allow freedom for conscience and wisdom to guide where the Bible is silent. The open hand fosters unity among the diversity of expressions...Democrats and Republicans, soccer moms and indie rockers, carnivores and vegans, trendy bohemians and Microsoft nerds.

Hence, Mars Hill is in favor of good beer (in moderation), great sex (in marriage), and even tattoos (Jesus has one). But our goal must always be love and concern for our friends so that we don't enjoy our freedom at the expense of our faith.

In this way, we are seeking to simultaneously heed the Bible's commands to have sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 1:9, 2:1), to love our Christian brothers and sisters (1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 4:7-21) and to avoid unnecessary divisions (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10, 12:25; Titus 3:10).
Finally, if you're looking for a traditional statement of belief--you know, the numbered list you find on most church sites--here goes.
  • I believe in a trinitarian God; that is, a God who exists in three persons: Father, Son and Spirit.
  • I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth as both God and man, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, allowed Himself to be crucified to as a substitution for the punishment mankind deserved, physically rose from death after three days to fulfill the work of humanity's redemption and ascended to Heaven, where He lives and from where He will one day return to judge both the living and the dead according to whether they accepted His mercy or whether they will receive His justice.
  • I believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is a spiritual presence that dwells within those who have accepted Christ as Savior at the moment of their redemption and, following that experience, acts as intercessor between man and God, guiding him to righteousness, convicting him of sin and fulfilling the work of sanctification.
  • I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, i.e., written by man through direct inspiration from God Himself. Therefore, the Bible, both Old and New Testament, is without error and is the ultimate authority from which man can discern the Truth.
  • I believe man is inherently sinful and therefore imperfect. Because of man's "total depravity," it is therefore impossible to have a relationship with a sinless and perfect God. It is likewise impossible for man, by his own abilities and efforts, to eliminate this alienation from God. Jesus, through His sacrificial death, bridged the gap, providing a way for man to have a personal relationship with God Himself. Salvation is thus a gift from God to man, provided by His grace, which must be accepted as an act of personal faith in the person of Jesus Christ.
(If you'd like scriptural references to the points above, some can be found at 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20,21; Matthew 5:18; John 16:13; John 3:16; Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1,2; Luke 1:35; Romans 3:24; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Acts 1:9,10; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1,2; 1 Peter 4:5; Romans 14:9; 2 Timothy 4:1; John 16:8-11; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 5:18; Genesis 1:26, 27; Romans 3:22,23; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3, 12; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18,19. Or just read the whole Bible...it's all good.)

Please understand: this is not an exhaustive list of my beliefs. Far from it. But what you see in the bulleted list above is the foundation upon which my faith rests.

If you would care to discuss additional points, I would welcome the opportunity. Drop me an e-mail at CandidChristian@gmail.com, or we can "talk" through any number of social networks on which I maintain a presence: Twitter, Facebook, Theologica, Ping.fm, Last.fm, GTalk, Plurk, Pownce, Brightkite, Loopt. And we can chat by phone, too. I'm always open to talking about Jesus.

Grace and Peace...

2006-07-05 0 comments

Notable Posts

Thanks for visiting CandidChristian.com. I started the ministry in 2006 for one reason: to tell people about Jesus Christ. I do this the only way I know how: by sharing my own experiences with Him. Here, you'll find personal stories, political commentary, news items, links, videos, pictures. The common denominator is the same: it's all about Jesus.

Since joining the vast blogosphere in 2006, I've posted items that have generated a certain level of interest among the people who visit the site from time to time. What you'll find here, then, is a list of those posts that are either ones I personally enjoy or that others have either liked--or took exception with. I hope you'll take a look, and it's my prayer that through what you read you'll learn just a little bit more about my Jesus.
2006-07-03 0 comments

Independence Day

"Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"
(John 8:31b-33)

Hey, I grew up in a Red State family ... that meant a healthy dose of respect for the flag, apple pie, the 4th of July (rhyme time!).

But today, on our nation's birthday -- happy No. 230, America ... you don't look a day over 220 -- I say let's forget about Independence Day. Or, at least as it relates to this great country of ours.

Instead, let's celebrate our independence, not from the tyranny of a carpetbagging government, but from the depths of sin and shame. Because that's exactly what happens when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and personal Savior. We declare our indepedence from a life separated from God ... instead, Christ bridges that gap.

If that's not cause for celebration, I don't know what is.

So, interested in learning how to have that freedom? Want liberty from the death itself? You can, you know. Learn about Jesus.

Believe in Him. Know Him. Trust Him.

Want to learn how? Follow this
link, read Romans 10:9,10 in the Bible and/or e-mail me.