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Sunday, November 23 2014 @ 07:54 PM EST
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All Religions, Except Christianity, Share One Thing In Common

What are you looking for in a religion? By involving yourself in religious belief or an organization, what do you hope to gain?

 

My experience with people from all over the world has revealed to me a single truth: People choose a religion for what they can get out of it. Very rarely do people take up a religious view simply because they want to know the truth about their existence or about the supernatural (though there are exceptions). So let me give you a brief inter-faith journey on what religion offers you. No matter what religion or spiritual view you may take up, all of them offer some things in common.

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Walking With Jesus (Africa)

This morning I received a wonderful email from K, a missionary living in [COUNTRY WITHHELD]. She wanted to let me know about how the video series, Walking With Jesus (Africa) has impacted her ministry.

 

In case you didn't know, Walking With Jesus (Africa) is a 5-part video series about an African missionary who works to disciple a tribal chief and members of his tribe. The series was produced by the Jesus Film Project.

 

From the first moment I saw the series I was hooked! You can sample it online at http://bit.ly/1qefYa9. It is truly one of the most remarkable ministry video series I have ever seen.

 

Here's what K wrote to me about Walking With Jesus (Africa):

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New Discovery! Jesus Was Married And Had Kids! This Changes Everything! Panic In The Streets! Dogs And Cats Living Together!


A new claim about a married Jesus with kids is making its way around the news and blogosphere. I've written about this before. Was Jesus married? DId Jesus have kids? Let’s avoid the speculation and get right to the evidence from the scriptures. In short, the answer is a resounding, “no.” Here’s why.

Biblical Evidences

There is no biblical evidence for a married Jesus. Whether from the Gospels or the writings of the Apostles, the New Testament is not only silent on this, it is quite a bit more than simply silent. Allow me to explain. I’ll provide six reasons from the scriptures why I think a married Jesus is not a reasonable ascertain.

First, the Apostle Paul, writing in I Corinthians 9:5 was defending his ministry and stated as part of his case, the following: “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?”

Notice that Paul defends the right of marriage by using the other Apostles and the brothers of Jesus as his example. It seems unreasonable that Paul would not mention Jesus being married as his defense if, in fact, Jesus had actually been married. Paul referred many times to Jesus as the model of his Gospel and life. Why then no mention of a married Jesus to justify marriage for the Apostles?

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Time

 

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Editing Jesus

I recently had a sobering experience. As part of my role with JESUS Film Project I was tasked to select editing points for the creation of a version of JESUS for commercial television. JESUS has not been seen on commercial television in the US for more than 15 years, in fact, much longer than that. That's a tragedy since no film has changed more lives or introduced more people to Christ than JESUS. More than 200 million people have professed faith in Christ because of JESUS.

 

My challenge last week was to choose deletions and edits in the film to get it down from just over two hours to just under 90 minutes. Think about that for a moment. If you have to choose something to leave out of the story about Jesus, what will you choose? My challenge was to choose things that were critical to tell the story and remove things that though important, didn't necessarily damage the story of Jesus through their removal.

 

There were some hard choices to make.

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When Good Decisions Turn Bad

I was on my way home to Orlando. I left Tucson in the morning to catch a flight to Las Vegas where I would board my connecting flight to Orlando. I sat in my middle seat, my insides trembling. I’ve never been a good flyer. For as long as I can remember, flying has always been scary to me. Only when a flight is completely smooth do my nerves calm down—but I’m always waiting for the next bump. The Tucson to Vegas flight was only an hour, but to me it was an hour of terror. I became so panicked that I turned to my wife sitting next to me and said, “I’m not getting on the next plane. I don’t care how much it costs, we’re renting a car and driving home.” My poor wife, seeing the condition I was in, readily agreed.

After getting the car and beginning our drive the tension began to ease. But it was a good hour or two before I started to relax, yet something else began to eat away inside of me. The rental car cost over $500 for the trip. That’s the cost of a four-hour flight home, but my drive would take me four days. I was beginning to kick myself in the rear. I had made a decision that I thought was good, that I thought was good for my mental health. But it was beginning to backfire, and in a huge way. You see, the airline could not give us our luggage, so it went ahead of us to Orlando. Meanwhile, I would not have my medicines for my bipolar disorder. Within just over a day I started going through withdrawal. As we drove out of the hotel in Amarillo, Texas I pulled up at a stop light and suddenly, without any warning, I had the urge to vomit. Instantly, I became light headed. My chest began to hurt. At first I thought I ate something bad at the hotel breakfast. It didn’t occur to me that I might be suffering withdrawal. But sure enough, that’s what it was. For the next four days I sat in the passenger seat while my wife drove us across the country. I felt so terrible I wanted to die. At the same time, without my meds to control mania, my thoughts began swirling around my decision to abandon the flight home. Inside I was raging with anger; the kind of anger I haven’t experienced since I began taking medication over six years ago. I treated my poor wife like dirt. We were racking up hotel bills, food, gas. I knew by the time it was over I’d have around $1,500 of debt I didn’t want and all because I couldn’t control my fear. I had a lot of apologizing to do.

One decision. That’s all it took. What I thought would be a decision that would protect my mental state and my emotions turned into a five day nightmare and my wife, my will, and my wallet suffering for it. 

Just one decision.

Have you ever made a decision like that? You know the type. It’s the decision to do something that you think will be good or benefit you in some way and it quickly turns into a disaster. The decision, at first, may seem sound, but it can turn on you in an instant. My situation did just that, and it reminded me of a recent study I did on the life of Lot.

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The Garden Of Eden Wasn’t Perfect

Do you think of Heaven as a perfect place? What does it mean for a place to be perfect? Many Christians think that Eden was a perfect place because it was a place without sin. Yet, will it surprise you to learn that Eden was not a perfect place? And what about Heaven? What is meant when we think of Heaven as a perfect place? To understand the idea of perfection as the Bible seems to present it, we must first look at the character and nature of God.

Nothing can be added to God's nature to improve upon himself. We cannot add to his complexity or simplicity or his moral attributes or his power. Everything about God and God's nature is already perfect without any addition. With God, there is no room for improvement.

Many times people think that the Garden Of Eden was a perfect place. We think of perfection as having no flaw or imperfections or any need for improvement. But the Garden Of Eden did not fit such a definition. The Garden Of Eden was a good place, though not a perfect place. And rather than offering just a challenge to our theology, I think this notion of the Garden Of Eden not being perfect is actually a comfort and creates in me some anticipation for what the Lord has in store for us in Heaven (which is also not perfect). 

Now, before you stone me, drop your rocks for a minute while I explain.

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Six 24-hour Days Or Millions Of Years? It’s The Wrong Question

What do you believe about the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2? Would you describe yourself as a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) or an Old Earth Creationist (OEC)? Perhaps you’re one of those who is struggling in this area of biblical thought?

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Genesis and reading creation websites that hold to these views. Many of the articles I read on either side of the issue are very compelling. But it has occurred to me that the leaders in the YEC and OEC camps have missed something very important: the main thrust of Genesis 1.

Did God create the universe in six 24-hour periods or did he create everything in six unspecified ages taking millions of years? I’d like to suggest that the timing of God’s creative act actually misses the main point of Genesis 1. By asking this question we may actually be asking the wrong question, or at least a question that is not the central focus of Genesis. Allow me to elaborate.

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Diversity In Nature?

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16 Leadership Lessons I Learned In Mongolia

I recently posted this list on Facebook about 16 lessons I learned about leadership during my time as President of Eagle Broadcasting Company in Mongolia. A few people suggested I expand on this list by telling a few stories about where these lessons come from. So, here you go.

Enjoy!

  1. If you love people, they will do anything for you
  2. Manage Loosely
  3. It's not about what you say or how you say it. It's about what the hearer understands
  4. Everything is personal
  5. You can never lose your integrity, you can only give it away
  6. You can never make a good deal with a bad person and you can never make a bad deal with a good person
  7. You don't have to win every battle to win the war
  8. As a leader you are a source of pride for your people. Don't disappoint them by acting common
  9. Stand for your principles and be willing to take a loss
  10. Embrace cooperation but never kiss it
  11. If you are a hired manager then keep this in mind, you are entrust with someone else's dreams
  12. Don't take credit, give credit away
  13. Build community amongst your staff. You are working for something bigger than yourselves. Let that vision unite you
  14. If you treat people badly they will behave badly. Treat people well and they will rise to the challenge
  15. If you want to know a person's true character, give him power. Grant high authority slowly, don't lavish it on someone all at once
  16. If you lead from behind it will come back to bite you in the butt

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