Ambassador of Reconciliation

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Posted 9/26/15 at 3:54 PM | Diane Castro

Ambassador of Reconciliation: The First Four Years

Today marks four years since I started my blog. As has become my anniversary custom, I am providing a chronological list of all my posts and looking back over the themes of the past year. I hope it will be a helpful reference for readers to find topics that may interest them, and for me it is a record of what God has been teaching me.

Grace is a theme that underlies many of my essays. Two of this year’s posts are specifically about grace: “A Googolplex of Grace” (99) and “Irresistible Grace” (100). Another theme is love. A post from last year, “Does God Love Everybody?” prompted a two-part series entitled “Should We Love Everybody?” (103, 104). Practical suggestions for love in marriage are found in “Husbands, Love/Wives, Submit” (97). I wrote about two funerals—of my brother-in-law Bill (105) and of missionary and Christian author Elisabeth Elliot (108). “Let Us Run with Perseverance” (102) tells uplifting stories from this year’s Boston Marathon, and “Unbroken” (96) is a review of Laura Hillenbrand’s book, which tells the gruesome but inspiring story of Louie Zamperini, a World War II hero. Going to my high school class reunion led me to write “Class Reunion Coming Up? Just Do It” (109). Speaking with friends who have been unable to have children prompted “He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children” (110). FULL POST

Posted 9/24/15 at 12:10 AM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 2

This post is Part 2 of a series about whether the atonement is limited or unlimited. Joe Lindberg and I are writing essays and responses, and we invite everyone to join the dialog by writing comments. The only ground rules are that 1) you stick to the topic at hand, and 2) you be respectful toward other writers.

In Part 1 we laid out the issue in broad terms. Here in Part 2, Joe responds to my original post, “Real men read Pink,” which in turn was prompted by an A.W. Pink quote he had posted. Joe’s response is first, followed by some brief comments from me and a reprint of the original article for reference.

In response to the opening statement from Diane I found a few areas that I would like to address.

In Diane’s article she says, “The real problem here is that both Calvinists and Arminians believe that God’s salvation is limited. Calvinists believe that His atoning work is limited to the elect.” I have to disagree to this statement only because of wording. While in reformed theology we look at the cup as “half full”, I believe this wording makes the cup “half empty”. We see the fullness of God’s love and atonement through the scriptures and we believe that this atoning sacrifice was a completion of a work that God already decided from eternity’s past. God in His wisdom chose people for salvation because the sin nature that we would receive through Adam, the federal head, kept anyone from coming to Him. Even if He saved one sinner, He would have accomplished all that He set out to accomplish and it doesn’t limit the atoning work. This atonement was fully accomplished by God and was meant for those that He wants for His bride. God isn’t obligated to save us, but out of His loving character He saved those He chose. FULL POST

Posted 9/19/15 at 3:48 PM | Diane Castro

Conversation about the Atonement: Is It Limited or Unlimited? Part 1

Last week I wrote an essay entitled “Real men read Pink” in response to a quote from A. W. Pink on Facebook. The Pink meme was originally posted by my Facebook friend Joe Lindberg, and we exchanged a few comments about whether or not “the majority of men” are lost. We wanted to explore this idea more in depth than is possible with Facebook comments (which eventually go off into a black hole of cyberspace anyway), so we decided to write essays to be posted on my blog. This way, our conversation will stay in one place, where anyone can access it and share their comments.

Here is Joe’s first post, in which he presents the Pink quote and then lays out the dilemma and some cautions.

To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent (A. W. Pink).

Three main views stem out of this quote that demand an answer. Each one of these views, if wrong, change the nature of who we call God drastically. Being honest, in case I was wrong on my view, I have to be very careful the way that I attack each position. Even with certainty that I hold the correct position, it would be improper of me to say things that could end up being blasphemous or insulting. FULL POST

Posted 9/12/15 at 7:11 PM | Diane Castro

"Real men read Pink"

If you had to take your best guess, what percentage of all the people who have ever lived will be in heaven? Obviously, the numbers are known only to God, but you probably have some sense of whether it’s about half, only a minority, or a majority. Recently a friend posted this meme, and a discussion ensued about what proportion of mankind is saved.

To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent (A. W. Pink).

Arthur Walkington Pink was an English Bible scholar who was not well known during his lifetime (1886-1952) but whose writings sparked a resurgence of Calvinism after his death. You may be familiar with the Facebook page “Real men read Pink.” Apparently the idea is that Pink’s theology is robust and vigorous and manly, not for the faint-hearted (or tender-hearted). For example, Pink believes that God does not love all people but actually hates those who are not His sheep, which is a hard truth to swallow for anyone with a tender and loving nature. FULL POST

Posted 9/1/15 at 1:55 PM | Diane Castro

“He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children”

Many years ago I read a book about one woman’s journey through infertility, loss, and finally, motherhood. It was heart-wrenching to read of her intense yearning for a child, her initial inability to conceive, the daily reminders of her barrenness, and then multiple miscarriages. Already having several children of my own, I knew I couldn’t completely comprehend, but it occurred to me at the time that never having children could be just as heart-rending as losing your children. Never having lost a child either, I can only imagine the intense grief and despair it causes, but I don’t think it would make me wish my children had never been born; in other words, I wouldn’t consider it preferable that they had never come into the world at all. Despite the unbearable pain of such a loss, no one could take away from me the joy I had already experienced with them—carrying tiny new life in my womb, the thrill of birth, the delight of watching them grow. And I would still have the hope of being with them for eternity. Those who are childless, on the other hand, never experience those joys and do not have the hope of being together eternally, only the unremitting pain caused by the loss of the little person they have dreamed of. FULL POST

Posted 7/15/15 at 12:19 AM | Diane Castro

Class Reunion Coming Up? Just Do It

Randy Glasbergen

Maybe you would just as soon forget high school, or maybe you put it behind you long ago, or maybe you walked through it in a drug-induced haze and never remembered much of it in the first place. But whatever your experience, those were formative years in your life, and the people around you were instrumental in shaping you into the person you are today.

If you have the opportunity to reconnect with some of those people at a class reunion, I recommend that you go for it. If your instinctive reaction is to say no, I’m sure you can think of many reasons why not to do it. But give yourself a chance to consider it. If any of the following objections spring to mind, give some thought to how you can overcome them:

  • “I don’t remember anybody, and nobody will remember me.”

Plan to introduce yourself. Get reacquainted. Or talk with someone you never knew. Take the initiative; it may be easier to connect than you expect it to be. FULL POST

Posted 6/23/15 at 11:35 PM | Diane Castro

Elisabeth Elliot Joins the Great Cloud of Witnesses

Legendary missionary Elisabeth Elliot Gren was laid to rest today. As a shy and humble person, she would probably resist the term “legendary” to describe herself, but she was a true pioneer in bringing the gospel to unreached peoples of Ecuador.

Her initial work as a missionary may have been regarded by some as a failure. In 1956, her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other men were murdered by members of the fierce and violent Waorani tribe they were trying to reach with the gospel, leaving five grieving widows and nine fatherless children. It seemed that the effort was doomed, but God had plans to use the martyrs’ deaths in ways that no one could have imagined.

By faith Elisabeth stayed in Ecuador with her little daughter Valerie. Instead of seeking revenge, as the Waorani would have done, she still longed to bring the love of God to them. She developed a friendship with two Waorani women and learned the language from them. Just two years after the tragedy, Elisabeth and three-year-old Valerie went to live among the very people who had killed their husband and father. As she communicated the gospel of Jesus Christ to them in words and in sacrificial love, the hoped-for day did come when they joined her in praise to the Savior. FULL POST

Posted 6/15/15 at 10:48 PM | Diane Castro

Why Aren't We Allowed to Believe What We Sing, Say, and Pray? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the fact that there are hymns and songs in all Christian traditions that speak of a hope that Jesus will save the world and draw all people into His kingdom. Here in Part 2 we will look at prayers that express the same idea. Most of these prayers come from the Anglican prayer book, but similar ones can be found in all denominations.

I first started noticing this theme in our prayers when a friend drew my attention to the Collect for Christ the King Sunday:

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Two statements jumped out at me: “whose will it is to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son” and “Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth … may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule.” God’s will is to restore all things in Christ; will He accomplish His will? Are we asking that He bring some people together under His gracious rule? Or are we asking that He bring all people together, knowing that in reality it will only be some? Or are we fully laying hold of His promise to reconcile all to Himself through the cross? FULL POST

Posted 6/15/15 at 8:29 AM | Diane Castro

Why Aren't We Allowed to Believe What We Sing, Say, and Pray? Part 1

The other day I read an article by Corrie Mitchell entitled “Let’s Stop Singing These 10 Worship Songs,” in which she maintains that some of the most popular Christian songs aren’t worth singing. Mitchell says, “Some of these songs on this list are theologically questionable, others are merely uncomfortable—and some sound like thinly disguised teenage crush songs.” I completely concur that we should be more careful about the words we use when we worship the Almighty God.

I also have another problem with some of the songs we sing in church—that we don’t really believe what we’re saying, and in fact are not allowed to truly believe it. I’m talking about songs and hymns that speak of the full breadth of Jesus’ saving work—that He died for the sins of the whole world and will actually save the whole world. This idea finds its way into our Christian music, as well as our prayers and statements about our faith, but most of the Christian church rejects the idea that Jesus will save all. FULL POST

Posted 6/10/15 at 8:55 PM | Diane Castro

"What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?"

Bill's son Nick (R) and his stepson Mike. Mike is career Navy and Nick has just graduated from Navy boot camp.

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, my brother-in-law Bill slipped into eternity after a valiant battle with leukemia. Five days later, his many friends and family gathered to celebrate his life and to support my little sister Linda, who has been widowed for a second time. Her first husband died of cancer at age 33, just after graduating as a physician’s assistant, leaving her with a two-year-old son, Josh. Now the unimaginable has happened again.

Why did God take a young man, just as he was poised to serve people with his medical training? Why did God leave a little boy fatherless? Why did He leave Linda to raise Josh alone, and then give her another husband, only to take him too? Why did He let Bill go into remission, only to strike him again? Why did the healing that so many prayed for not come? Why did Bill not even live one more day, until his son Nick graduated from Navy boot camp? Why is Linda left alone, now with both boys grown and gone? FULL POST

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