Ambassador of ReconciliationTweet
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
Posted 12/10/12 at 2:18 PM | Diane Castro |
A tale of two babies has made the rounds on the Internet, and recently my sister-in-law in Peru sent me the Spanish version. It made me smile, and I wanted to share it here.*
The story is about twin babies who are having a philosophical discussion in the womb. Their dialog goes as follows:
Do you believe in life after birth?
Of course. Everybody knows there is a life after birth. We’re here now because we have to grow and get ready for what’s to come.
That’s ridiculous! There’s no life after birth. What could such a life be like?
I don’t know exactly, but there must be more light than in here. Maybe we’ll walk on our legs and eat with our mouth.
Nonsense! It’s impossible for us to walk. And eating with our mouth? That’s crazy. We get our food through the umbilical cord. And obviously there can be no life after birth because the umbilical cord is too short. FULL POST
Posted 12/2/12 at 5:17 PM | Diane Castro |
One year when my son was little, his class made a Christmas craft—little jars with one M & M for each day of Advent. My son was showing me his jar and he explained, “You get to eat one M & M each day of Advil.”
Does the time of preparation for Christmas ever feel more like the Advil season than the Advent season? Do you ever get that frazzled feeling thinking of all the things you have to do? Do you find yourself getting scattered in so many directions that you don’t accomplish much of anything? Or, on the other hand, do you get so task-oriented that you become inflexible and fail to meet unanticipated needs that arise? I struggle with all of these problems, and I suspect I’m not the only one.
But when you read the Gospels, you never get the sense that Jesus was frazzled or scattered or inflexible. He was incredibly focused, yet fully flexible. He had a clear sense of purpose for His whole life, and for each day. Yet He never made the mistake that we often do of getting so stuck on our own agenda that we become blind to what is really important. FULL POST
Posted 11/23/12 at 7:58 PM | Diane Castro |
From time to time I post on my blog the public-domain writings of authors from the past. I may not agree with everything they say, but I offer these essays for your consideration. This excerpt is from a book by a nineteenth-century writer.
During all the years of which I speak the Plymouth Brethren were, as I have said, among my principal teachers. But I began gradually to find some things in their teachings that I could not accept; and this was especially the case with their extreme Calvinism.
There have always been, I believe, differences of opinion among them in regard to this view; but those with whom I was thrown held very rigidly the belief that some people were “elected” to salvation, and some were elected to “reprobation”, and that nothing the individual could do could change these eternal decrees. We of course were among those elected to salvation, and for this we were taught to be profoundly thankful. I tried hard to fall in with this. It seemed difficult to believe that those who had taught me so much could possibly be mistaken on such a vital point. But my soul revolted from it more and more. How could I be content in knowing that I myself was sure of Heaven, when other poor souls equally deserving, but who had not had my chances, were “elected”, for no fault of their own, but in the eternal decrees of God, to “Reprobation”? Such a doctrine seemed to me utterly inconsistent with the proclamation that had so entranced me. I could not find any limitations in this proclamation, and I could not believe there were any secret limitations in the mind of the God who had made it. Neither could I see how a Creator could be just, even if He were not loving, in consigning some of the creatures He Himself, and no other, had created, to the eternal torment of hell, let them be as great sinners as they might be. I felt that if this doctrine were true, I should be woefully disappointed in the God whom I had, with so much rapture, discovered. FULL POST
Posted 11/22/12 at 12:19 AM | Diane Castro
Reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, where she describes her journey into awareness of and gratitude for God's gifts, has opened my eyes to the supreme importance of giving thanks. One reason Adam and Eve fell into sin was because they failed to be grateful for all that God had done for them and instead wanted what was not theirs to take. And what aroused God’s wrath against man? “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
Conversely, our gratitude is like a sweet savor to God. It delights Him just as we are delighted when our children show a spirit of gratefulness. He was pleased with the thank offerings given by the Israelites from the heart. Giving thanks was one of the chief responsibilities of the Levites:
He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel (1 Chr. 16:4).
They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening (1 Chr. 23:30). FULL POST
Posted 11/3/12 at 12:30 PM | Diane Castro |
All Christians believe that God created the heavens and the earth, but there is no consensus about how and when He did it. Several years ago I was asked to give a short talk on the different understandings of Genesis 1 held by Bible-believing Christians. This post is an adaptation of that talk. It is an overview of the different approaches, with very brief explanations of the reasons for taking each one. Serendipitously, my husband was teaching an astronomy class and had been collecting slides to show to his students. I used some of those slides to illustrate my talk, and some are sprinkled throughout this article. They speak eloquently of the wisdom and majesty and power of the Creator.
My purpose in presenting these ideas is not to make a pronouncement about which one is true, but rather to provide a greater understanding of the diverse viewpoints held by fellow believers. My hope is that readers would thoughtfully consider the ideas of other Christians and be charitable toward brothers and sisters with whom they disagree. FULL POST
Posted 9/30/12 at 10:39 PM | Diane Castro |
Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series presented biblical principles for experiencing joy in our lives. I have continued to think about this topic, and observing and talking with people who live joyful lives has helped me see several more principles.
The most joyful people I know are those who are the most loving. They are always thinking of other people, and their lives radiate love. Instead of putting themselves first, they understand the old adage that the key to joy is putting God first and considering others before themselves:
Yourself FULL POST
Posted 9/26/12 at 1:38 PM | Diane Castro
One year ago today, on September 26, 2011, I posted my first essay as “Ambassador of Reconciliation,” a name suggested by my husband from 2 Corinthians 5:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
In the last year I have posted a total of 50 essays, many about my passion for proclaiming the good news of God’s complete victory over sin and death, but others about themes such as unity, joy, faith, justice, heaven, creation, Christmas, Easter, peace, gratitude, wisdom, and love. It has been an interesting journey, with many unexpected twists and turns. I have picked up quite a few critics, but through this experience I have also become acquainted with a wonderful online community of like-minded believers. FULL POST
Posted 8/29/12 at 1:15 AM | Diane Castro |
In Part 1 I tried to show that you do not need to be terrified of unending torment for yourself or anyone else, because God does not inflict pointless suffering. Nevertheless, we do need to fear the wrath of God. He hates sin, because it violates His holiness and destroys the people He loves, so He will do whatever it takes to root out the sin from our lives and ultimately eradicate it from the universe entirely.
The Bible has much to say about the wrath of God against all unrighteousness, but here I would like to focus on God’s judgment of His own people. Some Christians think believing in Jesus means that you will waltz right into heaven when you die and live happily ever after. They picture salvation as a ticket to heaven, and if you have your ticket in hand when you meet Jesus, you’re good to go. Others think it’s possible to lose your ticket, so they believe you have to make an effort to hang onto it. So which is it? Once you get your ticket, do you keep it forever? Or can you lose it? Or…does the whole “ticket” paradigm need to be re-examined? Are both complacency about our salvation and fear about losing it misplaced? Where is the false hope? The true hope? What fears can be put to rest? What should we fear? FULL POST
Posted 8/20/12 at 1:38 AM | Diane Castro |
“You’re just giving false hope; UR is nothing more than wishful thinking.” This objection is often raised to the idea that God will ultimately redeem all people. The concern is that if people think they will end up in heaven no matter what, they won’t feel the need to make a commitment to Christ and live for Him now. Furthermore, Christians will feel less urgency to share the gospel and call people to make a decision for Christ now. And they will have a false sense of peace about their loved ones who have died without knowing the Lord, when the reality for those unbelievers is a terrifying expectation of judgment and never-ending suffering. In other words, not only is UR [ultimate/universal reconciliation/restoration/redemption] unbiblical, but by taking away the fear of eternal hell it removes the urgency of coming to Christ in this life, it gives license to live loosely or violently with impunity, and it gives a false sense of security to the lost and those who love them. Here are some typical comments:*
As a universalist you are offering people false hope for not only them but for their lost loved ones who have died already. You basically say to them you can live your life anyway you want, party on with no holds barred since after all a day will come when God will save all of us…. [Y]ou are preaching/teaching a false and cheap gospel. FULL POST