Friday, August 30, 2019


The Pew Research Center started categorizing American's religious beliefs into three unique groups. These three groups are "Highly Religious", "Somewhat Religious", and "Non-Religious". (You can click here to view the entire report) What I found interesting is that in the two groups that have some religious beliefs, over 94% of all those surveyed believe in the existence of Heaven. (Even in the "Non-Religious" group there was 12%  and 4% respectively of those people who professed to believe in the existence of Heaven) Let's spend a little bit of time examining the perceptions of over 90% of the planet population who do believe there is a Heaven.

Whether a culture indoctrination of the existence of an after-life, or a faith-built belief system, it is evident that people want to believe there is a better place than planet Earth. But what do they believe about Heaven? Check out some of these quotes:

"One road leads home, and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness." - C.S. Lewis

"Go to heaven for the climate, hell for the company." - Mark Twain

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The End Of Ourselves

When I was in my late teens I took a trip out west with some friends. Somewhere in Utah our car broke down and so two of us started out for help. In the desert. In the middle of summer. I remember the sun was directly overhead when we started out because after the first mile my scalp started to burn. Now one of the advantages of being in your teens is that you are stupid. That is also the disadvantage of being young. Did we think about taking water? Nah! Did we think about estimating our endurance before we reached the next town for help? Nah! Adventure awaited!

The year was 1979 so there were no cell phones and we had no way to stay in touch with our friends or call ahead for help. So we walked. And walked. After the third hour, walking under the summer sun no longer seemed like an adventure. It was becoming a marathon, an endurance test. After the sixth hour it started to feel like a test of survival. Finally, around 8:00 that evening, we reached a town that had a mechanic and most importantly, a water fountain. Parched, and exhausted, I had discovered that my resources were not unlimited and that there were some challenges that not even youth could overcome.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Kings In A Cave

"Then the five kings of the Amorites -- the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon, joined forces. They moved up with all their troops . . . The Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. None of them will be able to withstand you."

After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua and his army took them by surprise. The Lord threw the enemy into confusion, and defeated them in a great victory . . Now the five kings fled and hid in the cave at Makkedah. When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah, he said, "Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave and post some men to guard it. But don't stop! Pursue your enemies and don't let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand"

 . . . So Joshua and the Israelites destroyed the armies of the five kings completely . . . Then Joshua returned to Makkedah and said, "Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings to me." When they had brought the kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders, "Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings" . . . then Joshua proclaimed to the men of Israel, ". . . Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight." Then Joshua killed the kings and hung them on five trees until evening." (Joshua 10: 5-27)

There is so much about this story in the book of Joshua that intrigues me. First, is the amazing turnaround in Joshua's confidence. Just a few chapters before it is God reminding Joshua to be strong and courageous. In fact, God proclaims that truth three times to Joshua in the first chapter alone. Yet, by the time this battle occurs, it is Joshua reminding his leaders and people to be strong and courageous. It is evident that God had greatly deepened Joshua's faith during this time.

Friday, August 09, 2019

A Crisis In Leadership

Have you ever faced an impossible challenge? A challenge that no matter how long you strive to reach a solution, it remains hopeless. A challenge of that magnitude saps all of your strength, slowly draining away your hope and can leave you cowering in fear.

When facing a situation with what appears to be no solutions, I try to remind myself of the story of Joshua. Joshua faced an impossible assignment. Moses, the revered leader of the people of Israel for over forty years was dead. Now, after Moses's death, God appoints Joshua the new leader of Israel. Imagine that, being the person in charge of God's nation on earth! God reassures him with these words, "No one will be able to stand against you as long you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous." (Joshua 1: 5-6)

But Joshua's immediate problem was that he had to convince the people of Israel of his qualifications and status as their new leader. So Joshua started first with the elders and the commanders of Israel, communicating the promises of God and reminding them of their allegiance to Moses and his leadership. He then testified to the faithfulness of God and urged the leaders to communicate that to the people under their command. The people responded well to Joshua's leadership and so together, the nation of Israel marched toward the next test of their faith.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Blessed Are The Poor

In perhaps what is the most famous sermon in history, Jesus Christ delivered his message known as the "Sermon on the Mount". This teaching occurred after Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist, after his forty days in the wilderness experience, and shortly after he began his public ministry in Galilee. This sermon is the longest continuous discourse of Jesus found in the New Testament and contains some of the most foundational tenants of the Christian faith.

It think it is interesting to compare the accounts of the gospels of Matthew and Luke in regard to this sermon. Scholars have disagreed throughout the years in their explanations for the different perspectives and accounts of these two gospels. However, one of the most common explanations for the different gospel accounts lie in the target audience that both men were addressing with their writings. For example, Luke, as he was writing primarily to non-Jews, used different terminology and emphasized different points than did Matthew who was writing to the Jewish people in his account.

Let's compare the opening paragraphs of this Sermon to gain a better understanding of the differences we just discussed.