Ambassador of Reconciliation

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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

Posted 5/12/15 at 9:36 PM | Diane Castro

Should We Love Everybody? Part 2

We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, by G. K. Beale

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

Should We Love Everybody? Part 1

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

Let Us Run with Perseverance

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.

Laura at the finish line--with a big smile even though she is frozen to the bone!
Giving Nate his medal

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

The Three Witnesses

A Love Story c2002 by Jack T. Chick, LLC

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

Irresistible Grace

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

Posted 3/9/15 at 12:51 AM | Diane Castro

A Googolplex of Grace

Charles Schulz

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

Posted 1/2/15 at 1:23 PM | Diane Castro

Burning in Fire

On a chilly night after Christmas, we built a fire in the fireplace with used wrapping paper and dry logs. It was pleasant sitting around the fire drinking hot chocolate, but as I watched the paper blazing up and then the logs burning with a steady flame, I couldn’t help thinking what it would be like to be in the fire. I couldn’t imagine having even one hand in even such a little fire for even one minute. And yet standard Christian theology says that all unbelievers will be in a blazing furnace for all eternity with no hope of relief! Their whole body will be engulfed in flames and yet never consumed. They will experience conscious torment forever and ever. Any pleas for mercy will be ignored.

Is that what you teach your children and preach to your friends and neighbors? Are you absolutely certain that the God you know will treat His fallen creatures that way? Has this belief been so drilled into you that you think you have to accept it in order to be a good, Bible-believing Christian? Or does the still, small voice of your conscience tell you that something is horribly wrong with this idea? Do you see any inconsistency between the picture of eternal conscious torment (ECT) and the character of the God you have put your trust in? FULL POST

Posted 12/2/14 at 2:55 PM | Diane Castro

Husbands, Love/Wives, Submit

John McPherson

A man is a person who, if a woman says to him, “Never mind. I’ll do it myself,” lets her.

A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, “Never mind. I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her, gets mad.

A man is a person who, if a woman says to him, “Never mind. I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her and she gets mad, says, “Now what are you mad about?”

A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, “Never mind. I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her and she gets mad and he says, “Now what are you mad about?” says, “If you don’t know I’m not going to tell you.” [1]

Marriage is challenging! Primarily because both men and women are sinful, but also because we are very different. Men are mystified by women’s minds, and women get exasperated with men’s behavior. Learning to live together successfully is a life-long process, with daily lessons. One high school student didn’t quite get it. His religion teacher read Genesis 2:24, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife,” and asked, “From this Scripture, what do we learn is important in marriage?” The student blurted out, “Cleavage.” FULL POST

Posted 10/12/14 at 2:54 AM | Diane Castro

Book Review: Unbroken

Few books I have ever read depict the depths of human depravity, the strength of the human spirit, and the surpassing grace of God more powerfully than Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. For good reason, the book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for more than three years; readers are riveted by the gripping tale and, like me, want to urge others to read it.

Author Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend, spent seven years meticulously researching the life and times of the legendary hero of her book, Louis Zamperini. Louie was a hell-raiser as a child, but as a teenager he channeled his energy into running and became a world-class track star, making it to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin while still in his teens.

Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941 and became a bombardier in the Pacific. Hillenbrand graphically describes the harrowing missions flown by the Pacific airmen. The casualty rate was astronomical, even greater in accidents than in combat. In 1943, Louie and ten other men were sent out on a notoriously unreliable B-24 bomber to look for a lost plane and its crew. The B-24 went down in the Pacific, leaving only Louie and two other survivors on rubber rafts with little food or water. FULL POST

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