A Side Order of God, Please

It was never so clear as the day the young couple walked into my office. They were in their early 20s, not yet married, with a wonderful little daughter at their side. I had spoken with the mother on the phone but had not yet met the father. So this was our first meeting together. As they came in, the young man addressed me as “Father” from his Catholic tradition to which I gave him a fun laugh, a big hand shake, and we set down to talk. The reason for their visit was to ask if I would baptize their little girl of two. In essence, the mother was Methodist and they wanted someone in between to do the spiritual deed.

After some fun introductory conversation I dove into the “theological stuff.” I tried to make two main points. 1. The Bible does not teach infant or toddler baptism and it is actually the product of Catholic doctrine which did not originate until about the 4th or 5th century. The little girl was not aware of her sin or her need to come to Christ. 2. That there was nothing special about me which would raise me to a “Holy Father” status. I tried to point out that while we do see leadership roles in the Church, the Bible does not make a distinction between the “Holy” Christians and the regular Christians. “We have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” I quoted to them.  But no matter what slant I tried to bring into the discussion, it was clear that I was getting nowhere. I tried to point them as individuals directly to Jesus and Jesus alone. I gave them a Bible in modern English and encouraged them to read the gospel of Mark and then call me back. I never heard from them again even after I tried to follow up.

So what was so clear that day? (more…)

Faith in Iran.

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine from Iran.  However, because of potential persecution, I can’t give you his name or location.  We’ll just call him, Steve’s friend.  I have not actually met my friend in person yet but we have been in correspondence through email, mail, and a few phone calls for about 12 years now.  My first contact with him came with an international Christian correspondence course called International Bible School.  The program works by placing ads in international papers offering free online courses.  My friend and I worked through all the lessons and have maintained a growing relationship.  The exciting part is that my friend began to follow Christ and we were able to get him connected with an underground church movement in the area.  Today, I am posting a few questions that I recently asked him along with his answers.  Many of us in the West have misunderstandings about people who live in parts of the world like Iran.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I just assumed that my friend spoke Arabic.  While he does; his native language is not Arabic, but Farsi.  I would have known that if I had done some more homework.  That is just one illustration of the many things we in the West don’t know about those wonderful people living in the Middle East.  We see the headline news stories and hear about the persecution against Christ followers in those countries and many of these stories are true.  But there are also a huge number of folks who are open to the love of Jesus and the kingdom of God.  So take some time to read through the answers from “Steve’s friend” and feel free to leave any other comments you might have or questions also.  Yes, I’m thankful for my friend from Iran and pray for him often.  I hope you will as well. (more…)

Oh God, Help My Unbelief!

Ever doubted your faith? You know; it really is ok to answer that question. Most of us experience some form of doubt when it comes to God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Atheist, agnostics, and authentic Christ followers have questions about the Divine which can’t always be answered in a nice cookie cutter fashion. With that in mind we began a short series at The Crossings this past Sunday entitled, “Oh God, Help My Unbelief!” The launch pad for our study comes from Mark 9:24 with a man who struggled with his belief. The man had tried everything and prayed feverishly for a son with horrendous sufferings. Jesus came, healed the boy, and encouraged the man’s faith. But what about you and me and our questions? What about the times when Jesus doesn’t seem to swoop in and save the day? What about the times when we doubt? (more…)