Ambassador of Reconciliation

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Posted 4/23/13 at 1:45 PM | Diane Castro |

2 comments

United We Stand

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.

Beth Murphy

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 |

18 comments

Terror at the Marathon

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

Posted 3/23/13 at 2:02 AM | Diane Castro |

121 comments

Reflections on The Great Divorce

Recently a friend invited me to read The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis’s allegorical journey to Heaven and Hell. I had not read the book since shortly after I became a Christian, so I found our old paperback copy and read it again. As I turned the brittle, yellowed pages they came unglued in my hands until the book was just a pile of pages, but the message is still as powerful as it was when it was written nearly 70 years ago.

The narrator takes a bus from Hell, “the grey town,” to the outskirts of Heaven. During his journey he converses with his fellow travelers, who give a variety of reasons why they refuse to turn away from the darkness and misery of the grey town and embrace the everlasting light and joy of Heaven.

Lewis is a masterful storyteller, and like the Chronicles of Narnia, this fantasy tale provides plenty of food for thought about how God works in the world and what awaits us after we die. After I read it I shared some of my reflections with my friend: FULL POST

Posted 3/15/13 at 11:49 PM | Diane Castro

Skip the Cheez Whiz

My last post was about fruit. Today I’d like to talk about vegetables. There’s a lesson in vegetables (although I’ve never heard of the vegetables of the Spirit).

We are studying Colossians in Bible study, and this week one of our topics is “The Problem with Reason,” from Colossians 2. Our memory verse for the week is “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (2:8). It occurred to me that human philosophy can take different forms, and we need to be alert not just to the obvious dangers of human reason but also to the more subtle ones.

Some human philosophy involves outright rejection of God and His truth. It’s not hard for Christians to spot an utterly secular worldview and know that it is not consistent with revealed truth. A greater problem for Bible-believing Christians is to accept Scripture as the Word of God but then allow biblical truth to be encrusted over with layers of human reason and speculation. Let me explain. FULL POST

Posted 2/16/13 at 9:22 PM | Diane Castro |

28 comments

Fruitful Words

This post is a follow-up to an essay I wrote last week, called “Bite and Devour,” in which I urged Christians not to do what Paul warned against in Galatians 5:15. We are just wrapping up our study of Galatians in Bible study, and I’d like to share some of Paul’s positive admonitions there and in his other epistles about what we ought to do and be.

In Galatians 5 Paul goes on to name the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Among the works of the flesh are “rivalries, dissensions, and divisions” (v. 20). The fruit of the Spirit stands in stark contrast:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

These are the qualities that should characterize not only our speech, but all of our actions. Those who belong to Christ Jesus put to death the works of the flesh (v. 24) and live by the Spirit (v. 25). If someone does need to be corrected, it should be done “in a spirit of gentleness” with the goal of restoring the person (Gal. 6:1). FULL POST

Posted 2/11/13 at 1:27 PM | Diane Castro |

39 comments

Bite and Devour

redthinking.info

Not long ago a seeker came to a Christian website looking for answers. His first visit turned out to be his last:

Wow, as someone who was contemplating Christianity and directed to this website, I can say that after reading your comments to this story, I am no longer interested. So much hate for people that allegedly follow your same diety! No better than Sunni and Shia Muslims fighting back and forth. I thought I’d find a little more understanding and thought in the comments to a book intriguingly titled, but this is worse than comments on CNN or YouTube for that matter. Thank you all for being yourselves at least and showing me that Christians aren’t the people in the Kirk Cameron movies.

Sadly, he was turned away from the faith not by the offense of the cross but by the ugliness he saw among professing believers. FULL POST

Posted 1/5/13 at 10:23 PM | Diane Castro |

220 comments

Heretic!

heretictshirts.com

Since I went public with the fact that I believe in the ultimate restoration of all mankind, a number of people have said or implied that I am a heretic, and I’m sure many others think it. I would have to say that my belief does fit the dictionary definition of heresy:

dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice; adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma (Merriam-Webster)

opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system; any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc. (dictionary.com)

any opinion or belief that is or is thought to be contrary to official or established theory (World English Dictionary)

A belief or teaching considered unacceptable by a religious group (The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)

Yes, the belief that God will ultimately redeem all mankind (not just the “elect” or not just those who trust Christ before they die) does go contrary to centuries of church dogma and is considered unacceptable by the majority of Christians today. So by definition I am guilty as charged. FULL POST

Posted 12/17/12 at 8:01 PM | Diane Castro |

28 comments

Homecomings, Part 3

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
.
Jeremiah 31:15

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 |

4 comments

Is There Life After Birth?

questional.com

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 |

2 comments

The Advil Season

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

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