April, 2011 Archives

29
Apr

Aliens and life after death

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Allen Telescope Array

Allen Telescope Array (Photo by Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill via Flickr)

SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) is broke.  According to today’s Time website, the telescope complex in California which has been looking for aliens has run out of donor funds.  Now extra-terrestrials, should any exist, will have to find us.  However, in a very real sense, they are already here.  Every person you know will spend eternity in a realm beyond our planet.

In our series on hard faith issues, we have come to a reader’s question: “What is your view as to what happens to Christians at death?”  Jesus promised the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Yet Paul seemed to indicate that Christians who die have “fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
28
Apr

What happens when you die?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Royal Burial Ground adjacent to the Royal Mausoleum in Frogmore Gardens Windsor

Royal Burial Ground adjacent to the Royal Mausoleum in Frogmore Gardens Windsor (Courtesy of user Wyrdlight at en.wikipedia.org)

Is your iPad tracking you?  According to today’s New York Times, the answer is yes and no.  Steve Jobs told an interviewer yesterday that technology in the iPhone and iPad does calculate the device’s location with regard to Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers, which can be as much as 100 miles away from the user.  He assures us that the company has never used the information to track people, and promises to fix the mistake in a free software update in the next few weeks.

Your technology may not know where you are this morning, but the God of the universe does.  One day you’ll meet him: “It is appointed until all men once to die, and then the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  How does this work?  What happens when you die? Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
27
Apr

Did Jesus go to hell? (part three)

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Deposition of Christ by Antonio Bronzin, 1542-1545

Deposition of Christ by Antonio Bronzin, 1542-1545

Cameron Reilly would have been part of history, a Scots Guardsman guarding the royal palace for Friday’s wedding.  Then he called Kate Middleton a “stuck up cow” on Facebook and lost his job for the big event.  Now he’s part of history in a way he never imagined.

God’s love for us is not so conditional, a fact proven by Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners like you and me.  A reader asked over the weekend, “Did Jesus go to hell?”  Following Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it seems an appropriate way to launch a forum on tough texts in the Bible.  The question leads us to 1 Peter 3:19-20: “[Jesus] was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
26
Apr

Did Jesus go to hell? (Part two)

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


The Crucifixion, by Vouet, 1622, Genoa

The Crucifixion, by Vouet, 1622, Genoa

On Sunday, Missisippi Governor Haley Barbour was running for president.  On Monday, he wasn’t.  Friends explain that he never got the “fire” to run, the passion to pay the price to be elected.

You’ll never need to wonder about Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice for you.  As Peter reminds us, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18a).  The confusing part of his statement comes next: “He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (vs. 18b-20). Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
25
Apr

Did Jesus go to hell?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, by Marco Palmezzano (Uffizi, Florence), painting ca. 1490

Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, by Marco Palmezzano (Uffizi, Florence), painting ca. 1490

Does life exist on other planets?  A Washington Post reporter named Marc Kaufman has made the news this weekend with the claim, reported on today’s Time website, that “before the end of this century, and perhaps sooner than that, scientists will determine that life exists elsewhere in the universe.”  What would be the spiritual implications of such a discovery?  Would God have given these organisms free will?  If so, would they have sinned against him?  Would Jesus need to die for them, or would the Good Friday and Easter Sunday we have just celebrated suffice for them as well?

This is one example of the faith questions which today’s news provokes.  Here’s another: yesterday, after some friends heard me preach on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, they asked me if Jesus went to hell after his death.  The Apostle’s Creed, a faith statement they had been repeating all their Christian lives, includes the statement that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell.”  They wanted to know if this really happened. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
22
Apr

Do bad things happen to good people?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


2011 Time 100 magazine cover

2011 Time 100 cover (credit: Time)

Who is the most influential person in the world?  According to the “Time 100,” just released on the magazine’s website, #1 is a person none of us had heard of last year.  Hints: He is from Egypt, working for Google in Dubai.  He made a Facebook page which changed the world.  Still not sure?  His name is Wael Ghonim.  His page in memory of a slain Egyptian named Khalid Said sparked the protests in Egypt which led to the removal of Hosni Mubarak and the movements sweeping the Middle East.

Who is #2?  Joseph Stiglitz, the economist.  Barack Obama came in at #86, 64 places below his wife.  He is ranked five places below actor Mark Wahlberg and 47 places below Justin BieberLast year Mr. Obama ranked #4.  But it could be worse; last year’s #1, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, isn’t even on this year’s list. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
21
Apr

Why does God allow disasters?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon.

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. (Courtesy of United States Coast Guard)

A year ago yesterday, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 people and dumping 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  For many residents in the area, life is still not back to normal.  They are suffering the consequences of choices they did not make.

Yesterday we considered a reader’s very hard and honest question: why would an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God allow us to be victimized by circumstances which are not our fault?  We began by exploring the suffering which results from misused human freedom.  I suggested that freedom by definition requires consequences, so that even God could not create a universe which permits free will but prevents the innocent suffering which often results from its abuse. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
20
Apr

A question I’ve never been asked before

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Flames destroy property near Possum Kingdom Lake. Photo taken by SSG Malcolm McClendon of the Texas National Guard.

Flames destroy property near Possum Kingdom Lake. (Photo by SSG Malcolm McClendon via Flickr)

Residents in the Possum Kingdom area west of Fort Worth are being evacuated in even greater numbers as FEMA responds to wildfires which have destroyed homes and churches across the region.  Meanwhile, Time reports that villages near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan are being evacuated as well.  As people lose their homes, they can at least be grateful they have not lost their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
19
Apr

Rob Bell, Texas wildfires, and hell

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Wildfire at Possum Kingdom

wildfire at Possum Kingdom Lake (taken by a friend, April 18, 2011)

The wildfires west of Ft. Worth continued destroying churches, businesses and homes yesterday.  Meanwhile, robots in the crippled Japanese nuclear reactors found radiation levels too high for humans to continue work.  Every day we find more reasons for frustration with the world God made.

Yesterday we began discussing a reader’s question regarding a friend whose father died at an early age.  Their pastor claimed that he “got what he deserved,” a sentiment which turned his son against God.  The reader continues: Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share
18
Apr

A father who “got what he deserved”?

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


Boston's Granary Burial Ground where John Adams and Paul Revere are buried

Boston's Granary Burial Ground where John Adams and Paul Revere are buried (Photo by BitHead via Flickr)

Wildfires are raging this morning just west of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.  Radioactivity is surging in the seas around Japan.  Tornadoes in North Carolina caused at least 22 deaths over the weekend.  How can a good God allow a world like this?

Once again I want to thank each of you who have taken time to join our conversation on disappointments with God.  Many of your stories are heart-rending testimonies to the pain and grief of our fallen world.  Consider this reply from a reader: Read the rest of this entry »

Bookmark and Share