Eve

saintcWhen you hear about a day that ends in “eve,” it’s a reminder that the next day is even more special. Christmas Eve is the warmup to Christmas. New Year’s Eve is the celebration of the new year that begins on the next day. Those are the only two eves that most people remember—but I’d like to remind you of a third eve that I find meaningful.

“Halloween” is a shortened version of “All Hallows Eve.” So what this “All Hallows” that gets a special day just to prepare us for it? All Hallows, better known as All Saints Day, was a feast day that began somewhere in the mid-700s AD. Remember that, Biblically speaking, everyone who is in Christ is a “saint.” During this feast, Christians would remember and celebrate the lives their brothers and sisters in Christ who had already gone on to their reward. They would especially remember and honor the memory of those who were martyred for the cause of Christ. Now it is certainly possible to go to an excess with a day like this, but the basic idea is worthy of our attention.

It would do us good to stop and remember some of the saints who have preceded us in death. Whose faith has aided your walk with God? Can you think of a person? A grandparent? A parent? A historical figure? A missionary or elder?

We ought to thank God for the legacy they left us. Their lives and sacrifices amaze us. Their faith inspires us. Their love of God and neighbor motivates us to follow in their steps. We are who we are because of who they were. Hebrews 11 encourages us to look to great men and women of faith as an example to strengthen our walk with God.

These godly men and women also remind us to think about the legacy that we will leave behind when we die. How will our life and death affect generations of Christians yet to come? All Saints Day is a great reminder to think about eternal things.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…” (Revelation 14:13)

Decision Making for Christians

Before we make decisions, it’s a good idea to ask some questions. These questions help decisionsus to make better choices and live with fewer regrets.

We might ask…

  • Will this work?
  • What will people think?
  • How much will it cost me? Do I have time for it?
  • Can I get away with it?
  • Am I capable of doing this?
  • Will it make me happy?

Questions like these are pretty useful tools when we make those choices. These are the sorts of questions that many really smart people rely on. I’d like to suggest that Christians should add another set of questions to their lists:

  • How does God feel about this?
  • Will it bring glory to God’s name or is this more about me?
  • Am I helping others or am I just advancing my personal agenda?
  • Is this truly wise?
  • What eternal difference will this decision make?
  • How will it affect my walk with God?
  • Will this decision make it easier or harder for me to follow Jesus?
  • Will this decision make it easier or harder for my family and friends to follow Jesus?
  • Would Jesus make this decision?
  • Is this the best use of the resources I’ve been entrusted with?
  • How will this decision affect eternity?

It’s good for us to think strategically and long-term. It’s better for us to think with God’s perspectives.

What questions would you add to the list?

Would you jump off Niagara Falls if…?

authorityScripture is the authoritative guide to a life that pleases God. It builds faith and makes us wise. Despite the Bible’s great potential, we’re not all in the same place in how we respond to it. Try a little thought experiment with me:

If the Bible said, “All Christians should jump off Niagara Falls,” what do you think would happen?

Some people are so convicted by the authority of scripture that they would run and jump with no hesitation.

Maybe a group would be scared and confused. They’d think about it. They’d pray about it. They’d ask for wise counsel, but when they decided this is what the Bible really said, they would walk to the falls with knees trembling, but they would jump.

Others of us would say, “God knows what he’s doing, so you guys go ahead and jump. I’ll catch up with you.” After our Christian friends jumped, we’d probably come up with a reason to explain why that command didn’t really apply to us, so we’d go home without jumping. We might feel guilty about it, but we’d let it go.

One sneaky group would point out that the command didn’t say where to jump off at Niagara Falls. They’d build a trail to the very bottom of the falls with a little 1-foot drop. They’d probably charge admission to let people use it.

Another group would probably spend a lot of time yelling at the people who didn’t jump without ever getting around to jumping ourselves.

Some of us wouldn’t be sure what to do. Jumping off a cliff seems like a bad idea. Not obeying the Bible seems like a bad idea. We’d just kind of ignore the question and hope it goes away, and get mad at anyone who ever brought the question back up.

I imagine that some of us would say, “No way, that’s crazy! I’m not jumping off a cliff!” Some around us would go a step further and try to prevent others from jumping off a cliff.

Which group would you find yourself in?

This thought experiment isn’t great, because the Bible does not command stupid, dangerous, or immoral things of Christians, but many of the commands of scripture feel nonsensical to non-believers. Non-believers can’t comprehend the meek inheriting the earth, self-sacrificial love of enemies, turning the other cheek, going the second mile, and a strict personal code of right living that denies many apparent pleasures and opportunities.

I share this article with my Christian friends for two reasons:

First, I want to you to examine your relationship with scripture. How closely do you listen to God’s word? Do you follow it when it is easy and when it is hard? Is the Bible your guide or your weapon to bully others with? Jesus said that hearing and obeying the words of God is the bedrock of life.

Second, I want you to be more aware of the world in which we live. Fewer people in our culture accept the authority of scripture in the same way that our parents and grandparents did, and that shift affects how we speak to the world of Jesus. For my friends who trust in the authority of scripture, it is sufficient for me to say, “The Bible says so,” and they will comply. For my friends who don’t trust in the authority of scripture, I have to have an entirely different conversation.

The Bible is God’s book. It is the only book that is “God-breathed,” “living and active,” able to make us “wise to salvation,” and “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It deserves a careful hearing.

How We Can Guard the Truth

Print“How can you tell if a politician is lying?” “His lips are moving!”

How sad it is to live in a society where truth has been replaced by her more popular cousin, opinion, and few can tell the difference anymore. How sad it is to see that we have reached a time when we require fact checkers who then need fact checking of their own.

Andy Andrews researched the Holocaust and found a chilling question—and answer.

“How do you kill eleven million people?”

“Lie to them.”

When truth erodes, we will find its replacement incapable of bearing the weight of society.

Too often, though, Christians have understood “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” too narrowly. We have rightly complained about politicians who lie, media that spins, and cons who deceive, but often, we have failed to see our own contribution to the decay of truth.

Every time we gossip and repeat a story about someone in town, we erode the foundation of truth.

Every time we make an assumption about someone’s motives and tell it as fact, we undermine the foundation of truth.

Every time we forward an email or share a message about our political opponents that we didn’t verify, we mar our credibility.

Every time we cling to an old wives’ tale, a tradition, or a superstition when facts tell a different story, we are chasing truth’s shadow, not its substance.

Every time we quit listening to a person because we don’t like what they have to say, we might be muzzling the voice of truth.

Every time we naively accept what we hear without question, our faculties for identifying truth get a little bit weaker.

Every time we use a bad argument or bad evidence in service of a good point, we suggest that falsehood is better than truth.

Every time we exaggerate the story or caricaturize people who disagree with me, we make lies bigger and truth smaller.

Every time we place a higher burden of proof on the claims of others than we do ourselves, we relativize and trivialize truth.

Every time we refuse to be persuaded by valid and true evidence and reason, we build another door to lock truth behind and live in a world of hypocrisy.

Every time we make an accusation on the front page and print the retraction on the back page, we mute truth’s volume.

Every time we sweep our problems under the rug or stick our heads in the sand, we attempt to falsify reality and cover up the truth.

A friend once said that since Jesus is truth that sets us free (John 14:6, 8:32), we should love the truth so much that we wouldn’t misquote the devil.

Never forget that all the world’s sin and pain began with lies from the father of lies.

Do we really want to advance his work, even in a small way?

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson