Ambassador of ReconciliationTweet
Posted 6/23/15 at 11:35 PM | Diane Castro
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
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
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
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
Posted 5/12/15 at 9:36 PM | Diane Castro
In Part 1 of this series I started exploring the relationship between our view of God and our behavior, and I concluded that there is a direct connection between the two. What is the dynamic that is going on here? Psalm 115 gives us a clue; it indicates that we tend to become like whatever we worship. The psalmist speaks of idols made by human hands and says, “Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (v. 8). In his book We Become What We Worship, Greg Beale exegetes Isaiah 6 to show that we take on the characteristics of whatever we worship—whether idols of wood and stone, the modern idols that we run after, a distorted image of God, or the true God. FULL POST
Posted 5/6/15 at 1:07 AM | Diane Castro
A theme I have been exploring in various posts on my blog is God’s love and how it is related to human love. One post asked the question “Does God love everybody?” which prompts the question “Should we love everybody?” which leads to the bigger question “How should (or how does) the way we live reflect what we believe about the character of God? My short answers to the first two questions are Yes and Yes. My short answer to the third question is that, for good or for ill, our lives do tend to reflect what we believe about God.
If it’s true that God loves everybody, then it follows that we should try to love everybody as He does. And even if you don’t believe that God loves everybody, if you’re a Christian you probably agree, at least in theory, that we should love our neighbors. Jesus Himself considered the command to love our neighbors of utmost importance, second only to loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. FULL POST
Posted 4/24/15 at 2:29 PM | Diane Castro
It was a tough day to run a marathon—raw and rainy and windy—but thousands of incredible athletes did it in Boston on April 20, 2015. 30,000 runners—30,000 stories of hardship and endurance and spirit. Here are a few of their stories:
Fourteen years ago, Laura Joyce of Minnesota ran the Boston Marathon. That weekend, she met Nate Davis, whose family has been close to ours since he was five years old. Nate and Laura fell in love, got married, had two babies (the second one just a year ago), trained like crazy, and came back from their home in California to run Boston together this year. I was thrilled to be able to give both of them their medals.
Thousands of runners do the Marathon to honor someone special or raise money for a cause. Members of Team MR8, including actor Sean Astin and women’s wheelchair winner Tatyana McFadden, ran in memory of eight-year-old Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, to promote his message of peace and raise money for charitable causes. Tom Feller, son of my high school classmate Deborah Morrison Feller, ran the marathon again this year to raise money for a school for kids with autism. Jessica Brovold ran for Home Away Boston, which provides housing for families with seriously ill children. Her own little daughter Kallie was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was four years old, and Home Away Boston provided housing for the family when they came from South Dakota to get treatment for Kallie in Boston. FULL POST
Posted 4/18/15 at 9:49 PM | Diane Castro
When you share the gospel, do you tell people about how much God loves them? Do you also warn them of the terrible fate that awaits them in hell if they refuse to repent and turn to Christ?
If your answer to both questions is “Yes,” let
me ask another question: Do you ever feel at all conflicted about declaring that this God who loves people so much that He gave His Son for them will allow people to suffer endlessly for failing to trust Him?
How do you explain the seeming conflict to anyone who might ask?
1) There is no conflict; it is only our limited human reasoning that sees a conflict.
2) God’s ways are higher than our ways (Is. 55:8-9); we cannot comprehend the wisdom of His ways.
3) God is infinitely holy; sin against an infinite God requires infinite punishment. FULL POST
Posted 3/14/15 at 9:44 AM | Diane Castro
Recently I have been discussing Calvinism with some folks on another forum. I believe that Calvinism has much to offer to our understanding of the nature and attributes and works of God.
The major doctrines of Calvinism are often summed up in the acronym TULIP. Lately I have been meditating on God’s grace, so today I would like to look at the “I” doctrine—Irresistible Grace. Here are some explanations of Irresistible Grace:
Irresistible grace does not mean that God’s grace is incapable of being resisted. Indeed, we are capable of resisting God’s grace, and we do resist it. The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing. Indeed, we aren’t dragged to Christ, we run to Christ, and we embrace Him joyfully because the Spirit has changed our hearts.
—R. C. Sproul FULL POST
Posted 3/9/15 at 12:51 AM | Diane Castro
Many years ago, while writing features for a children’s math book, I learned that the term googol had been invented by a nine-year-old boy in 1938. Milton Sirotta was the nephew of Edward Kasner, an American mathematician. Kasner was looking for a name for a very large number—1 followed by one hundred zeroes—and young Milton came up with googol. This number is inconceivably huge—10 to the hundredth power, vastly more than the number of atoms in the universe.
When I think of all the sin in our world, its magnitude seems to be like a googol—so immense that it staggers the imagination. Sin has overwhelmed and engulfed our world to an extent that is incomprehensible to the human mind. Thinking of the magnitude of sin and our complete inability to conquer it can lead one to despair.
BUT where sin abounded, grace did much more abound! (Rom. 5:20)
The magnitude of God’s grace is like a googolplex—10 to the googol power, the number 1 followed by a googol of zeroes. A googolplex absolutely dwarfs a googol into nothingness, just as God’s grace is powerful enough to dwarf sin into nothingness. If you have trouble wrapping your head around a googol, you can’t even begin to fathom a googolplex, just as we can’t even begin to plumb the depths of the immeasurable grace of God. FULL POST