Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Miracle of Dunkirk

Winston Churchill had been Prime Minister only about two weeks when the devastation of the entire British Army seemed all but certain. The Allied Forces in southern France had been shattered by Hitler’s blitzkrieg, and by May 24, 1940, nearly 400,000 troops were trapped against the northern French coast near the port of Dunkirk.

Evacuation seemed the only option. After all, Dunkirk was only 40 miles across the English Channel. But German tanks were closing in and the Allied Forces were already beaten and in disarray. To pull off a rescue operation of the necessary magnitude seemed beyond the resources of either the British or French military. Churchill estimated only 10% of the British Expeditionary Forces might be saved.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fear of Divine Judgment - How Jesus Overcomes Our Fear of Death

Many people assume that death is bound to be better than our suffering right now. How often have you heard somebody say, “Well, at least he’s not suffering anymore…”? Or “Now she’s at peace; she’s in a better place.”

If you’re in heaven, you are in better place where there is “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Tears and suffering are over forever.  But according to Jesus, not everyone goes to heaven. Christ said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT, my emphasis).
           
If you end up in hell, the suffering is infinitely worse than anything you might experience in this life. Christ described hell as a place where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48).

In three previous posts I’ve talked about the reasons why people may fear death. But this last one, fear of divine judgment, is the most important one. People should fear being punished for their sins.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Jesus' Cure for Frustration Over Other People's Business

Have you ever worried about how God is handling other people’s business? Sometimes out of love and sometimes out of more negative emotions - resentment, frustration - you find yourself unsettled because of what’s happening in someone else’s life.

Even one of Jesus’ apostles was not immune from being stirred up about somebody else’s business. (Of course the apostle was Peter, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.)

Peter had had a very public melt-down the night of Jesus’ betrayal. After  the resurrection Christ challenged and restored Peter. There on the shore of the Sea of Galilee Jesus patiently and gently put Peter back where he needed to be. The Savior’s thrice repeated question to Peter - “Do you love Me?” - was followed by a threefold commission:  “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Enemy Bride

I never understood what he saw in her in the first place. She was pretty, I guess, in a wild, unhinged sort of way. But she had no family, no education, no job (not a decent one anyway). And frankly I didn’t see any evidence that she even felt the same way toward him that he obviously felt toward her.

But it was none of my business. I’ve been able to live peacefully in this neighborhood all these years by keeping to myself and out of other people’s business. But I never thought it would work out.

So they got engaged. He looked happy, she looked, well, like a trapped animal. My opinion.

Monday, May 29, 2017

No Fear in Death - by Christ's Death and Resurrection

Recently I read an article by a medical doctor who spoke transparently about his own fear of death. He developed a crippling anxiety which resulted in physical symptoms of various kinds. Eventually he was diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) - associated entirely with his fear of death.

Death comes to all of us. So what do we do about fearing the inevitable? Christianity’s answer comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:14-15). We look to Christ to deliver us from the fear of death that makes slaves of us all.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How Christ Overcomes the Fear of Death (With Jesus on the Road to Samarra)

A merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the market one day, but the servant soon returned, trembling with fear. “Master,” he said, “I met Death in the crowd, disguised as an old woman. She made a threatening gesture, and I ran. Please lend me your horse, and I will flee to Samarra to avoid my fate. Death won’t find me there.” The merchant lent him the horse, and the servant raced north, away from Baghdad. Then the merchant walked to the market, found the old woman, and demanded to know why she made the threatening gesture. Death replied, “I wasn’t threatening your servant but was only surprised to see him here. You see, I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”*

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Five Reasons We Fear Death, and How Jesus Gives Us Victory

John Donne famously wrote,
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so*

But, for many people, death might as well be proud. Because death does seem “mighty and dreadful.” People do fear death. They dread their own deaths and the inevitability of their loved ones’ deaths.

The Christian gospel addresses this basic fear.