Why Is a Love Story Told as a Tale of Horror?

This morning I was watching Outside the Lines on ESPN as I do most Sunday mornings before going to church. The story this morning was about Tim Tebow and his outspokenness of his faith. My dad happened to be watching with me since he had come town to for the Baylor – SFA game. My dad is not a Christian. He was letting me know about how he did not like how Tebow had the Bible verses on his eye liners. Because of how outspoken Tebow is, my dad is not a fan. Then they also showed a clip of Tebow preaching. In the clip Tebow was giving the standard line of if you do not accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are going to Hell. This approach more than anything else in the story got to thinking about how we present to Good News of the coming Kingdom. The story is a love story of God through Jesus pursuing reconciliation, a relationship. Essentially it is a love story. Yet when people preach the message as Tebow did it does not sound like a love story, it sounds like a tale of horror. God is so angry with you that God is going to throw you in Hell, unless you accept God’s son who was brutally murdered. The love and grace is underplayed while the fear and pain is overplayed. I think this is the wrong approach to spreading the Good News. Shouldn’t the message sound good instead of bad. One might argue that well isn’t escaping Hell good news? It can be but what is the motivation for them believing in this telling, to escape Hell or because they have found a meaningful relationship with Christ. Jesus is not a get out of Hell free card. We seek a relationship with God because we love God and wish to be reconciled just as God wishes to be reconciled to us. This fire and brimstone approach fails utterly at this aspect, which is, in my opinion, the most important. If escaping Hell, is the reason you claim to have a relationship with God, you may want to reexamine if there is a real relationship there.

I was thinking about this while we were singing at church. I thought, ‘I think this might be a good topic to blog about.’ Little did I know that the sermon was going to have a similar vibe. The sermon was on Matthew 20:1-16. Josh explained that Heaven may be too graceful. God may allow for people we do not want to be in Heaven. Some people who are assured they are going to Heaven may think twice about going if they knew who God was willing to show grace and mercy to and allow into Heaven. He then showed this picture, which I think is the best example of God’s unending grace…

How many people are accepting of this picture? But isn’t this what Jesus came to teach us. To pray for our enemies, to be servants to the world. He did say be servants of those who you like? God’s grace abounds further than we can imagine. God wishes for one and all to come and be reconciled, including Osama bin Laden. I believe this extends throughout eternity. Jesus’ death was a never ending invitation to be reconciled. I do not pretend to know why sin and evil were allowed to come into being, my best guess is it is a true consequence of free will. I particularly like the idea of Hell being locked from the inside, meaning those ‘trapped’ are free to leave. C. S. Lewis deals with this notion his book The Great Divorce, I highly recommend it.

So would you being willing to live in a Heaven that included Osama bin Laden, Hitler, Casey Anthony, etc.? I think God is willing and has been willing to extend them an invitation. What is your motivation for wanting to be in Heaven, to escape Hell or because you believe in a God who wishes for reconciliation with all the earth. One reason I believe God is willing to pursue this reconciliation for all eternity, is this one haunting question… Can Heaven be heaven if your parent or child was not there? The Good News is that God is unveiling God’s Kingdom and the invitation has been extended to all. This is what we should be preaching, the invitation to the Kingdom, to reconciliation, not a get out of Hell free card. The invitation is not for our sole benefit, it is a reconciliation of the a fallen world to God.

Saint Francis, a review

Saint Francis by Robert West is a short biography on Francis in the Christian Encounter series. This biography stretches from is young life as a merchant’s son to his canonization as a Saint after his death. Francis is best known for his stance on poverty, not in a political sense but as a way of life, as in he choose possessionless.

Dr. West does not give an in depth accounting of Francis’ theology or the greater impact Francis had. However, he does give a great introductory biography of Francis. If you are looking for an in depth study of Francis I suggest you look else where, but if you want to know a little bit a about Francis before going into an in depth study or you only want an overview this is a good book. I also recommend Chasing Francis by Cron, it also goes into Francis’ life but in the form of a fictional novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a review

This Donald MIller book is great. It follows the same pattern as his other books, short stories that some how combine together with a loose narrative arc. He uses well time humor and yet maintains insight. Miller begins this book by explaining he has been contacted about having a movie made based upon one of his previous books (Blue Like Jazz). Through this process he learns more about constructing a story and then begins to try to apply these concepts to his own life. I found the outcome and message of this book to be outstanding and insightful. I recommend this book if you have ever felt like your life is random and not structured. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

I did not receive this book for review, nor was I asked to review this book. This review was of my own undertaking.

Demon: A Memoir, a review

Tosca Lee writes this story about a man, Clay, who meets a Demon, Lucian. In this encounter Clay learns about the fall of the angels and how they fall. Clay is an editor, and recent divorcee. Lucian wants Clay to publish his story. However we find this story may actually be more about Clay than Lucian.

This read was strange for me as I wanted to keep reading but did not feel engaged in the book. I do not read many first person books, but have now read two in two weeks, so maybe that was the problem. Not sure. I recommend the book but something was off. I did not find any problems with the theology, as it dwells in the theoretical, unclear portion of how angles fell and what it means to be a fallen angel. Overall 4 out 5 stars.

I purchased and wrote this review of my undertaking, I was not asked for this review nor given this book for review.