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Posted 5/19/14 at 1:27 AM | Diane Castro
Second Peter graphically describes the corrupt character of false teachers and sternly warns us about the destructive effects of their life and teaching. One insidious way they deceive is by promising freedom while in reality causing people to be entrapped. As explained in the commentary from our Bible study:
False teachers promise freedom…. Every tyrant and impostor since the serpent’s devious discourse with Eve (Genesis 3) has promised freedom—an appeal to the latent human desire to assert ourselves over God. Not surprisingly, false teachers “promise…freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption” (2 Peter 2:19). Jesus said, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34); “whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved,” writes Peter (2 Peter 2:19). 
As I read those words about being a slave, I thought of friends who are smokers. Yes, they are free to smoke, but they are not free not to smoke. The smoking slavemaster can interrupt what they are doing at any moment and force them to put a cigarette between their lips. At the office it drives them outside in the dead of winter just for that precious drag. It holds them in its death grip and doesn’t let go unless met with a stronger power. Willpower alone is seldom enough; as one friend put it, “It’s easy to quit; I’ve done it a hundred times.” FULL POST
Posted 5/1/14 at 11:12 AM | Diane Castro
If you had three minutes to describe the attributes of God, what would you say? In our study of 2 Peter we discussed this verse:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Pet. 1:3).
Our lesson asked these questions:
What phrase identifies the means by which we can experience everything we need for life and godliness? How would you explain this concept to someone who asked you what it meant?
Peter says that we have everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us. So I asked myself, What is it that we need to know about God in order to live our lives the way He intended?
I believe there are two essential qualities that we need to understand about God: that He is good and that He is sovereign. Our lesson took us to Jeremiah 9:24: FULL POST
Posted 4/29/14 at 4:56 PM | Diane Castro
Last year at this time the city of Boston was reeling from the terrorist attacks that left four dead and more than 260 injured. I wrote about that awful day in “Terror at the Marathon,” and about how the city and the world rallied with love and support in “United We Stand.” Many selfless people courageously stepped forward to help the victims right after the bombings, and millions of people worldwide provided support in countless ways in the months following. The One Fund collected over $60 million for the victims in the first 75 days. People were also inspired to reach out and help others with needs of all kinds. For example, my daughter and others came together to do the whole Marathon route carrying 40-pound packs to raise money for veterans. FULL POST
Posted 4/4/14 at 12:33 PM | Diane Castro
As we have been working our way through 1 Peter in Bible study, I have been taking a closer look at familiar passages in hopes of finding what God wants me to learn this time around. I have been both encouraged and challenged—sometimes comforted and sometimes made very uncomfortable.
The instructions to wives in 1 Peter 3 can be a stumbling block to women of the twenty-first century, particularly verse 6, which says, “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” I have often heard this verse explained with reference to Genesis 12 and the similar story in Genesis 20, where Abraham told Sarah to say she was his sister, not his wife. Abraham’s plan is generally seen in a negative light. The explanation of Genesis 12:11-13 in the ESV Study Bible notes is typical:
Fearful that his life will be endangered because of Sarai’s beauty, Abram devises a ruse, based on a half-truth (see 20:12). Abram’s selfish actions imply that he thinks God is unable to protect him. Yet when the plan backfires, it is the Lord who rescues him (12:17). FULL POST
Posted 4/3/14 at 10:08 PM | Diane Castro
As Easter approaches it would be a good time to share our favorite hymns of the resurrection. Music has such power to drive home the message of Jesus’ triumph over sin and death and help us lift our voices in praise and adoration to Him. I invite each reader to share in a comment your favorite hymn(s), along with a link to the soundtrack if possible, and perhaps telling why it is meaningful to you. I will put the lyrics into the body of this post for others to be blessed. Here are three of my favorites—one very old, one a hundred years old, and one contemporary:
Christ, the Lord, Is Risen Today
Charles Wesley, 1739
Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once, our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! FULL POST
Posted 3/24/14 at 11:11 AM | Diane Castro
This week in Bible study we are on 1 Peter 3, where Peter first discusses husband-wife relationships and then gives exhortations about relationships in general. The lesson also took us to passages in Luke, Ephesians, and James for more instruction about how to treat others, particularly with our words. I would like to share these passages without commentary; they need no exegesis—only obedience. I will quote them from The Message, in hopes that a modern paraphrase might help us to see them with fresh eyes and to be open to being humbled and convicted by the Holy Spirit.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
on those who do evil things (1 Pet. 3:8-12). FULL POST
Posted 3/15/14 at 11:02 AM | Diane Castro
I was intrigued by the title and the clips in the ads for the new ABC series, Resurrection. Only one episode has aired so far and I don’t know where the producers are going to go with it, but I think it taps into a deep-seated human longing to be reunited with loved ones. Who can watch a boy who died decades earlier being restored to his parents without at least a little leap of joy in their heart? Who wouldn’t imagine what it would be like to have one of their own loved ones come back from the dead?
Of course, we know that it’s just fantasy. Nobody comes back from the grave after being dead and buried. It’s just delusion or wishful thinking to believe that someone might be raised back to life.
But wait! Jesus did come back to life out of the depths of the grave, and He makes us alive together with Him (Col. 3:13). How? Through faith in the powerful working of God:
You have been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead (Col. 2:12). FULL POST
Posted 3/12/14 at 6:07 PM | Diane Castro
The epistle reading in church on the first Sunday of Lent was Romans 5:12-19. It made me take a closer look at the whole chapter to see what Paul is trying to communicate in this pivotal passage. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (v. 2), and what it is we are proclaiming when we celebrate the Resurrection.
In a recent post I explored the question of whether God loves everybody or just the elect or just those who love Him and keep His commands. Romans 5 reinforces the conclusion that God indeed loves the whole world (Jn. 3:16), that is, all humanity, and that Jesus died for the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2).
6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Rom. 5:6-10). FULL POST
Posted 2/1/14 at 12:44 AM | Diane Castro
I became a Christian through Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), with the use of “The Four Spiritual Laws.” Law #1 stated:
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.1
This message is appealing, and I’m sure it has helped to draw many (like me) to faith in Christ. But is it true? Is it biblically accurate to tell unbelievers “God loves you”?
There are some who flat-out say that God does not love the whole world—that God’s love is reserved for the elect, that only the saints are the recipients of His love. For example, a commenter here on Christianpost, Reformed Baptist, quotes “Objections to God’s Sovereignty Answered” by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952):
One of the most popular beliefs of the day is that God loves everybody, and the very fact that it is so popular with all classes ought to be enough to arouse the suspicions of those who are subject to the Word of Truth. God’s love towards all His creatures is the fundamental and favorite tenet of Universalists, Unitarians, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Russellites, etc…. So widely has this dogma been proclaimed, and so comforting is it to the heart which is at enmity with God, we have little hope of convincing many of their error…. FULL POST
Posted 12/28/13 at 10:05 PM | Diane Castro
From time to time I reprint on my blog the public domain works of authors from the past. This poem is by Anne Brontë, the youngest of the famous Brontë sisters. It was first published in 1846 in Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, a collection of poems by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, using pseudonyms because of the prejudice against female writers at the time. Anne’s life was cut short by tuberculosis in 1849 at age 29, within ten months of the death of her brother Branwell at age 31 and her sister Emily at age 30. The work expresses poetically Anne’s response to the Calvinist-Arminian debate. If she were alive today, what would you say to her?
A Word to the “Elect”
by Anne Brontë FULL POST