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Posted 5/19/13 at 5:05 PM | Diane Castro |
Time and again the Lord gives us special gifts of providence that remind us of His ceaseless care over us. These are not the spectacular miracles that He also does from time to time, but rather His providential workings through the ordinary circumstances of life, whispering of His constant presence and His gracious kindness. We experienced one of these delightful conjunctions of events on the occasion of my daughter’s recent wedding. The tale of the veil is a story that will go down in the lore of this wedding.
Having hit horrendous traffic going into the city Friday night for the rehearsal, we left in plenty of time Saturday afternoon for the 3:00 wedding. We did have a scare Saturday morning when we got word that our 7-year-old granddaughter Emmy had thrown up everywhere. She had also had to go to the hospital the day before for a little surgery to cut a piece of pencil lead out of her leg—the result of an accidental stabbing with a pencil while playing at school! We were particularly nervous because her mom was an attendant in the wedding, but by early afternoon Emmy was doing better and they were also on their way. She had a bucket in hand but never needed to use it. It seemed that everything was on track. FULL POST
Posted 5/15/13 at 11:17 PM | Diane Castro |
Like millions of other people, I watched in horror as the fires raged after the explosion in West, Texas in April. More recently, it was the horrific fire in the limo carrying nine young women for a bachelorette party. The bride-to-be and four of her friends, all nurses, perished in the flames. The limo tragedy particularly hit home as it happened exactly one week before my own daughter’s wedding. As we anticipated our happy day, I could not begin to imagine the grief of the family and friends of the bride-not-to-be who would never see her own wedding day.
If standard evangelical theology is true, then all those who died in these fires without knowing Christ as their personal Savior will go into an inferno that is infinitely worse and never-ending. We’ve all heard the rationales for the doctrine of eternal damnation; they have been so drilled into us that even if we don’t like them we accept them uncritically because we think we have to in order to be faithful to Scripture. FULL POST
Posted 4/23/13 at 1:45 PM | Diane Castro
In the wake of the Marathon bombing, the city of Boston has pulled together in a remarkable way. The moment the first bomb went off, courageous people rushed in to help the wounded. Exhausted runners summoned up more strength to run to hospitals to donate blood. Law enforcement officers risked their lives to capture the suspects. Money has poured in to assist the victims in their recovery.
In fact, there has been a worldwide outpouring of support for Boston. Sports rivalries, personal animosity, and even national hostilities have been set aside, at least temporarily, to show solidarity with a grieving city. The spirit of the Marathon itself—the spirit of camaraderie and unity—has carried over into the days following the tragedy. FULL POST
Posted 4/17/13 at 2:48 PM | Diane Castro |
On the morning of April 15, 2013—Patriots’ Day—I stood near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and snapped this picture to send to my daughter. It shows the place the 27,000 marathon runners set their sights on, the goal of their years of training and discipline. In the background is another special place, the hotel where my daughter’s upcoming wedding reception is to take place.
Unlike last year, when it was brutally hot, it was a perfect day for a marathon—sunny and brisk. The whole city was festive, anticipating a great day of competition and camaraderie with runners from around the world and half a million spectators coming to the world’s oldest annual marathon. Spirits on our volunteer team were high; we had what we felt was the very best volunteer job—placing well-deserved medals around the necks of the finishers.
Not long after the picture was taken, the runners started arriving, at first just a few of the elite runners, but then the trickle swelled to a flood as thousands of exhausted but happy runners streamed across the finish line to the sound of enthusiastic cheers and whistles and applause. They bowed their heads to receive their medal and a smile and words of congratulations and sometimes a hug, and then they gathered with family and friends to celebrate. FULL POST
Posted 3/23/13 at 2:02 AM | Diane Castro |
Recently a friend invited me to read The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis’s allegorical journey to Heaven and Hell. I had not read the book since shortly after I became a Christian, so I found our old paperback copy and read it again. As I turned the brittle, yellowed pages they came unglued in my hands until the book was just a pile of pages, but the message is still as powerful as it was when it was written nearly 70 years ago.
The narrator takes a bus from Hell, “the grey town,” to the outskirts of Heaven. During his journey he converses with his fellow travelers, who give a variety of reasons why they refuse to turn away from the darkness and misery of the grey town and embrace the everlasting light and joy of Heaven.
Lewis is a masterful storyteller, and like the Chronicles of Narnia, this fantasy tale provides plenty of food for thought about how God works in the world and what awaits us after we die. After I read it I shared some of my reflections with my friend: FULL POST
Posted 3/15/13 at 11:49 PM | Diane Castro
My last post was about fruit. Today I’d like to talk about vegetables. There’s a lesson in vegetables (although I’ve never heard of the vegetables of the Spirit).
We are studying Colossians in Bible study, and this week one of our topics is “The Problem with Reason,” from Colossians 2. Our memory verse for the week is “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (2:8). It occurred to me that human philosophy can take different forms, and we need to be alert not just to the obvious dangers of human reason but also to the more subtle ones.
Some human philosophy involves outright rejection of God and His truth. It’s not hard for Christians to spot an utterly secular worldview and know that it is not consistent with revealed truth. A greater problem for Bible-believing Christians is to accept Scripture as the Word of God but then allow biblical truth to be encrusted over with layers of human reason and speculation. Let me explain. FULL POST
Posted 2/16/13 at 9:22 PM | Diane Castro |
This post is a follow-up to an essay I wrote last week, called “Bite and Devour,” in which I urged Christians not to do what Paul warned against in Galatians 5:15. We are just wrapping up our study of Galatians in Bible study, and I’d like to share some of Paul’s positive admonitions there and in his other epistles about what we ought to do and be.
In Galatians 5 Paul goes on to name the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Among the works of the flesh are “rivalries, dissensions, and divisions” (v. 20). The fruit of the Spirit stands in stark contrast:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
These are the qualities that should characterize not only our speech, but all of our actions. Those who belong to Christ Jesus put to death the works of the flesh (v. 24) and live by the Spirit (v. 25). If someone does need to be corrected, it should be done “in a spirit of gentleness” with the goal of restoring the person (Gal. 6:1). FULL POST
Posted 2/11/13 at 1:27 PM | Diane Castro |
Not long ago a seeker came to a Christian website looking for answers. His first visit turned out to be his last:
Wow, as someone who was contemplating Christianity and directed to this website, I can say that after reading your comments to this story, I am no longer interested. So much hate for people that allegedly follow your same diety! No better than Sunni and Shia Muslims fighting back and forth. I thought I’d find a little more understanding and thought in the comments to a book intriguingly titled, but this is worse than comments on CNN or YouTube for that matter. Thank you all for being yourselves at least and showing me that Christians aren’t the people in the Kirk Cameron movies.
Sadly, he was turned away from the faith not by the offense of the cross but by the ugliness he saw among professing believers. FULL POST
Posted 1/5/13 at 10:23 PM | Diane Castro |
Since I went public with the fact that I believe in the ultimate restoration of all mankind, a number of people have said or implied that I am a heretic, and I’m sure many others think it. I would have to say that my belief does fit the dictionary definition of heresy:
dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice; adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma (Merriam-Webster)
opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system; any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc. (dictionary.com)
any opinion or belief that is or is thought to be contrary to official or established theory (World English Dictionary)
A belief or teaching considered unacceptable by a religious group (The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)
Yes, the belief that God will ultimately redeem all mankind (not just the “elect” or not just those who trust Christ before they die) does go contrary to centuries of church dogma and is considered unacceptable by the majority of Christians today. So by definition I am guilty as charged. FULL POST
Posted 12/17/12 at 8:01 PM | Diane Castro |
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
Last year at Christmastime I posted two essays about homecomings—joyous reunions of loved ones gathering together. I talked about the Chilean Mine Rescue and The Miracle on the Hudson and a special homecoming for our family—when all fourteen of our children, grandchildren, and sons-in-law came for Christmas, including our son Andy who surprised us by coming home from Spain unexpectedly.
This year there will be no joyous homecomings for the families whose loved ones were lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy. The victims will not be coming home, and their places at the table will be empty this Christmas and every Christmas to come. The whole nation is weeping with those who weep. Even those of us who did not know the children look into their innocent faces and refuse to be comforted, because they are no more. FULL POST