Ambassador of ReconciliationTweet
Posted 9/17/13 at 12:55 PM | Diane Castro |
Two Christian leaders were engaged in a heated conflict over a decision regarding their ministry. Years earlier, one of the men had been instrumental in helping the other gain acceptance in the Christian community, and they had been ministering together in the power of the Holy Spirit for some time, but now they were unable to come to agreement. They exchanged some sharp words, and finally one man said, “Fine¸ go ahead,” and the other said, “Fine, I will,” and they parted ways.
Maybe I’m being unfair to Paul and Barnabas, but this is the way I envision their conflict over whether or not John Mark should accompany them on their second missionary journey. John Mark had been their assistant on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:5) but had left them abruptly for an undisclosed reason and gone back to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). When it came time to go out again, Paul had no desire to take someone who had quit on them before, while Barnabas saw potential in him and wanted to give him another chance (Acts 15:36-38). FULL POST
Posted 9/15/13 at 1:03 AM | Diane Castro |
When my son was in college in South Carolina, he called me up one day and said, “Hey Mom, my roommates and I are having a competition to see whose mother is the best baker. Could you send some banana bread and poppy seed cake?” It was a thinly disguised request for a care package, but it worked. I have to confess that part of the reason why it worked was because of my own pride and competitiveness. Lurking at the back of my mind was the idea, “I bet I can bake better goodies than the other mothers can bake.”
The disciples had the very same problem. One day James and John and their mother came to Jesus and said, “Jesus, we want you to give us the best seats in your kingdom.” The other disciples were indignant, not because they were concerned that James and John had missed the point of Jesus’ teaching and example, but because they wanted the best seats for themselves. FULL POST
Posted 7/26/13 at 2:40 PM | Diane Castro |
My last post was a review of the documentary film Hellbound?, which explores different views of hell, and the previous one was a comparison of views held by Christians about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. It seemed good to follow up with a discussion of what it takes to get into heaven.
You have probably known the gospel for many years and shared it with many people. You have probably studied the Scriptures in depth to know what you believe. You care about what happens to people after they die, and you want to make sure you present the truth clearly and accurately so they can make informed and wise choices in response to it.
So you are in a good position to try this mental exercise: Suppose you want to distill the essence of the gospel into its simplest form. You want to help people understand what it is they must do or believe in order to get into heaven and stay out of hell. (Obviously you don’t want to stop with the minimum requirements just to squeak into heaven, but let’s start at the beginning.) The box x represents what a person must do and/or believe in order to be saved; that is, if you do not do x, you will not be saved. Therefore, you have to put the same thing in both x boxes below: FULL POST
Posted 7/3/13 at 3:55 PM | Diane Castro |
Whatever you believe about hell, your views are probably represented in this documentary. Director Kevin Miller (who also co-wrote Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed) has tried to present a wide range of beliefs by interviewing people across a broad spectrum,* including some who make no claims to be Christians. The result is a thought-provoking overview of the many concepts that exist about the notion of hell.
Exploring doctrines of hell might seem to be a rather useless pursuit compared to studying other branches of theology, but in reality, our concept of hell is inextricably intertwined with our concept of God Himself. What we believe about hell both reflects our view of God and affects our view of God. In other words, our beliefs about God’s character and purposes affect our beliefs about what will be the final end of mankind, and conversely, our notions of hell have a bearing on what we perceive as the nature of God, which in turn affects the way we present Him to the world. We need to make very sure we are representing God faithfully, so we must take a careful look at what we believe and what we communicate about hell.
This film helps us to examine different views of hell and to evaluate the fruits that spring from those beliefs. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it is important to take an honest, objective look at what you stand for and how you represent Christ. This movie may challenge your convictions or it may strengthen them; either way, it can help you be more faithful in your witness. FULL POST
Posted 6/12/13 at 9:23 PM | Diane Castro |
As I have read about heaven and hell and interacted with people here on Christianpost and elsewhere regarding this topic, I have taken note of the different positions that Christians hold regarding eternal destinies. It is quite curious that we can all read the same Bible and come away with such disparate ideas, but that is the reality. The chart below presents some of the major views about who ends up where. There is some overlap among the positions (for example, Calvinists are probably Exclusivists, Arminians can believe in the Narrow Gate or Wider Mercy, Universalists can be either Exclusivists or Inclusivists, etc.), but this overview gives a simplified picture of the various views.
I'd be interested in knowing what CP readers believe. I invite you to leave a comment telling which categories most accurately describe your beliefs. (Mention all that apply.) You may not like being labeled with a name, and certainly such a condensed overview cannot give details and nuances for each position, but try to indicate which descriptions are closest to what you believe. And feel free to offer corrections or additions.
Posted 5/25/13 at 11:54 PM | Diane Castro |
In the early 1980s, the Lee family—husband Nao Kao, wife Foua, and their six surviving children—escaped from the Communist regime in Laos and made their way to California’s Central Valley, where many other Hmong refugees had resettled. In 1982, their daughter Lia was born. Unlike her parents and her twelve brothers and sisters before her, who were delivered into their mother’s hands as she squatted alone and silently over a dirt floor, Lia was born in a modern public hospital, where her mother lay on her back on a steel table and gave birth to her baby into the hands of a doctor.
At the age of three months, Lia started having severe epileptic seizures. Her parents would take her to the hospital to get help, but they did not speak English and they did not trust the doctors or understand the complicated treatment she received. Anne Fadiman’s book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures chronicles the Lees’ confusing and often terrifying odyssey through the American medical system. FULL POST
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