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Preview: The Ultimate Issue

The Ultimate Issue

Dedicated to those considering the spiritual questions of life

Last Build Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:37:20 +0000


"New York Times" Bestselling Author Tackles Tough Questions

Sat, 11 Jul 2009 00:43:00 +0000

You can listen for free to messages on these tough questions:
"Exclusivity: How can there be just one true religion?"
"Suffering: If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?"
"Absolutism: Don't we all have to find truth for ourselves?"
"Injustice: Hasn't Christianity been an instrument for oppression?"
"Hell: Isn't the God of Christianity an angry Judge?"
"Doubt: What should I do with my doubts?"
"Literalism: Isn't the Bible historically unreliable and regressive?"
These messages are given by Tim Keller, NY Times bestselling author of the book Reasons for God. Click for free downloads here: messages.

Hope for a broken world

Sat, 05 Jul 2008 19:33:00 +0000

Here is an excellent video explanation of why the news about Jesus Christ is such good news for our planet and for all who want a better world.

Here is another video explanation that will help you.

Can we rely on anyone?

Wed, 28 Feb 2007 11:38:00 +0000

I noticed a news story yesterday that said health researchers had determined that antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C and E, don’t provide any health benefits after all. They don’t prolong your life; in fact, the data showed that people who took the food supplements actually shortened their lives.

This sort of flip flopping on what is good for you and what is bad for you is really disillusioning. In my lifetime it seems that the medical experts have changed their minds about whether eggs help you or kill you at least five times. At the dentist my hygienist has been telling me for years to brush my gums more vigorously. Recently I had some gum problems, and the dentist said I was brushing my gums too much.

I would like to find some advice that did not change like the daily weather forecast.

Actually, I have found a source of advice that has proven its reliability to me for more than 30 years, and has been tested and proven by generation after generation for thousands of years. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,” said Jesus (in Matthew 24:35).

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." (1 Peter 1:24)

Fads come and go. Celebrities skyrocket and then flame out. Trends fizzle. Today’s hot movies and books are eventually forgotten. But if you want to put your life and time and attention into something that will never pass away, then put your trust in the Word of God found in the Bible. Read it and humbly believe it even when it contradicts what you or this world think. And you will be building your life on something that will not fail you in the end. I am betting my life on it.

Where Your Soul Finds Rest

Sun, 18 Feb 2007 22:02:00 +0000

We all suffer abuse in this life. It's good to know that when this life is over and we are with God forever, we will be with the God who describes himself as gentle. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 Elsewhere Jesus said that he perfectly reflects who the Father is, so the Father is gentle. And when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism, he came in the form of a dove. The Holy Spirit is gentle. Our God is gentle, and so through all eternity we will live with someone who is gentle, giving rest to our souls. No abuse from God.


Sun, 30 Jul 2006 23:06:00 +0000

7-30-06. Bible Answers to Life's Key Questions. From the series, An Executive Summary of the Bible.

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Sun, 30 Jul 2006 23:02:00 +0000

7-23-06. The Key Verses of the Bible. From the series, An Executive Summary of the Bible.

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Mon, 24 Jul 2006 14:47:00 +0000

7-16-06. An Executive Summary of the Bible: Key Ideas

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Mon, 10 Jul 2006 00:12:00 +0000

7-9-06. An Executive Summary of the Bible: The Key Events.

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Mon, 10 Jul 2006 00:09:00 +0000

7-2-06. An Executive Summary of the Bible: The Key People.

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Mon, 10 Jul 2006 00:01:00 +0000

6-11-06. Anakin's Disease: How to escape the human flaw that leads to evil. 1 Samuel 14.

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A good site

Sun, 02 Apr 2006 02:59:00 +0000

For another site with loads of excellent help in exploring the truths of Jesus Christ, which is focused on college students but helpful for anyone, see

Sat, 18 Mar 2006 22:54:00 +0000

3-12-06 Given, Never Earned: How God lavishes grace upon us. Ephesians 1:6-8.

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Mon, 20 Feb 2006 01:38:00 +0000

2-12-06 Cosmic Redemption: How Jesus will save the universe

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A stirring portrait of the Messiah

Fri, 30 Dec 2005 00:28:00 +0000

Here is a link to a short, inspiring audio-video description of the awesomeness of Jesus Christ. After you click this link, click on "click to watch preview" under the picture of Jesus.


Are you good enough to go to heaven?

Tue, 20 Dec 2005 01:23:00 +0000

This is the last in a series of entries that has examined five dominant religious beliefs of Americans and whether those beliefs agree with the Bible.This entry examines the most important belief of all. The vast majority of Americans believe this: good people go to heaven when they die.How could it be any other way? Bad people don’t go to heaven because that would mean mass murderers and dictators who torture thousands of people and thieves who steal the retirement accounts of little old ladies go to heaven. Good people must go to heaven because God is fair and those who try hard to be good and resist the temptation to hurt others for their own gain must be rewarded.Perhaps the most shocking teaching of the Bible is that many “good” people, even very religious people who believe in God, do not go to heaven. The reason is, there is no such thing as a good human. Certainly when you compare humans to humans, some are better than others, and so we commonly call many people good. But the Bible says God does not merely compare humans to humans when he measures morality. He compares humans to the laws he has given to humanity, and by that standard not a single human in history has measured up to the standard of true goodness. We are all flawed. The Bible puts it this way: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).That sounds severe, but when you think about it, who could argue? Has anyone lived a lifetime without telling a lie? Has anyone lived and not coveted someone else’s possessions? Has anyone been loving and unselfish every moment of their lives? Has anyone perfectly obeyed those in authority over them with an attitude of respect at all times? Even this short, short list shows that, yes, all humans sin.We might object that these “sins” are not that serious. Murder is serious; committing violence against weak and vulnerable people is serious. But coveting someone else’s BMW is not serious.We may not think a particular sin is serious, but if a being as holy and perfect as God regards it as such and commands us not to do it, it is serious. In fact, regardless of what the wrong is, simply doing what God forbids is monstrous evil because of who God is. For example, in the military, if a soldier disobeys his immediate superior, it is serious. If he disobeys his superior’s superior, it’s even more serious. If he disobeys a general, it’s more serious still. And on it goes. The greater a leader’s authority, the greater is the offense of those who disobey that leader.To disobey the God who created all things, who sustains all things and all life, who is perfectly moral and just and righteous, whose laws are the embodiment of all that is right and good, is monstrous evil. That is why the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).There is only one hope for human beings who want to go to paradise, heaven, when they die. They must rely on the solution God has provided for the sin of humankind. God’s solution was to give us a Savior, to give us himself, who alone is good enough to solve our sin problem. God sent Jesus Christ to take the righteous punishment of our sins upon himself, to die on the cross for us, and to offer mercy to those who would believe on him and follow him.John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”Do good people go to heaven when they die? No. The only people who go to heaven are those whose sins have been dealt with by God himself at the cross. Religion, morality, ethics, being nice—these are just band aids on cancer. The only hope for evil humans is the Savior s[...]

The Perfect House for the Perfect Storm

Thu, 08 Dec 2005 01:50:00 +0000

How to build an indestructible life. Matthew 7:24-27.

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When Self-Confidence Is Fatal

Tue, 29 Nov 2005 02:33:00 +0000

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The God of Give and Take

Mon, 21 Nov 2005 21:32:00 +0000

Are you generally a thankful person? That probably depends on how you answer these two questions: How much of what you have comes from God? Does God have the right to take what you have away?

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Who Gets It

Thu, 17 Nov 2005 01:33:00 +0000

Exploring a parable of Jesus that explains who receives the kingdom of God. Matthew 13:1-23.

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Uncool Religious Fanatics

Sun, 30 Oct 2005 13:19:00 +0000

"God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."

That, according to researchers, is a commonplace belief among American youth, and I believe, Americans of all ages.

At first glance, this belief answers the question, “How religious does a person have to be to be okay with God?” The fear lurking in many hearts is that we don’t want to be one of those weird religious fanatics. We like to be cool about life, and we figure God is pretty much like us, and so he is pretty cool. He doesn’t make demands, which is very uncool in most relationships—a quick turnoff. He is happy when we turn in his direction, and secure in himself when we don’t. He understands that life is tough, and we have a lot of things on our minds. And so, as long as we believe in him, try to be decent, and pray to him now and then especially when we are in a squeeze, God is satisfied.

If God was love challenged, that might be the case.

Look at it this way. Suppose you fell romantically in love with someone. You thought about that person constantly. You found infinite pleasure in being with them. Would you be okay with a casual relationship? Would you be okay with that person ignoring you most of the time?

Or suppose you were a parent and had given all of your love to a child for 18 years. Would you be okay if your child left home and showed little interest in calling home or reading your letters or showing up for family gatherings?

No, devoted love wants devoted love in return.

And so it is with God. He really does love you with a love more intense than any human love. And he really does want to have a relationship with you. And he really does want your love in return. Jesus said the most important commandment of God is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The reason God has given this command is that’s the way he loves you.

It’s not just about religion. It’s about relationship. It’s about love. It’s about priorities. God is not satisfied with taking second place to any other love, whether it is career, money, stuff, family. All of these must take second place to our love for him.

The Goal of Life

Tue, 13 Sep 2005 00:08:00 +0000

The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.That, according to researchers, is a commonplace belief among American youth, and I believe, Americans of all ages. I know this: I want to be happy and feel good about myself, rather than sad and self-loathing. Everyone I know wants to be happy and comfortable with themselves. But according to God’s autobiography, the Bible, is that the central goal of life? Is that what God created us for?Yes and no. God created us to live in paradise, according to Genesis 1 and 2. God created us to be perfectly healthy, happy, and fulfilled. We were made to be like God: strong, joyful, free, creative, energetic, loving, peaceful, content. What sent humanity into chaos and misery was when the first humans turned against God, doubted his commands, disobeyed him, and followed Satan (see Genesis 3).So God wants us to be more than happy; he wants us overflowing with effervescent joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Many people think God is the wet blanket and Satan is the party guy, when it is exactly the opposite. Satan only tempts us to “good times” in order to destroy us in the end. He hates us with a malevolence beyond anything you can imagine. God calls us to do what is right and love him because it’s right and because that is the only road to maximum joy and pleasure.Ironically, though, we cannot find lasting happiness or self-respect when we seek it as our highest goal. God knows that. God knows that he alone is the source of every good thing and every pleasure and every lasting strength. Satan is not. Satan simply misuses the good things God creates. God knows that the highest good for humans is that we walk in perfect obedience to his will and complete devotion to him. God knows that he is the highest good and the source of all joy and life.So what is the goal of life? Happiness? Self-assurance? No. A relationship with God is the highest goal of life.Jesus said it this way: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)Seek God, and you get mega-life and hyper-happiness as a result. Seek life and happiness without God, and you end up losing everything.The goal of life, according to Jesus, is to obey these two commands:“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30–31)Obey these commands, and you will have happiness and feel good about yourself. You can’t have true, lasting life without your Creator.[...]

God's high standard for relationships

Sun, 04 Sep 2005 01:25:00 +0000

We’re looking at American beliefs about God and how they square up with God’s autobiography, the Bible. A second belief about God common among Americans is, "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."

This is a fine start. It lines up well with one of the central teachings of Jesus: “do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) But surprisingly, this falls short of the full teaching of Jesus, teaching which is intended to bring the most satisfying relationships and the happiest society. Jesus calls people to go beyond nice. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Imagine living in a world where every person who you came across was loving you that much. They were actively and enthusiastically seeking your highest welfare. That’s God’s plan.

Few Americans Are Atheists

Mon, 22 Aug 2005 01:09:00 +0000

According to two university researchers (see previous blog "God--According to Most Americans"), the first belief about God common among Americans is, "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on Earth." Does this square with the book Jesus constantly referred to as God's Word (the Bible)?

It sure does. The Bible assumes that God exists. It never argues for his existence. The first Words of the Bible are "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) The Bible assumes that there is a God, and it states flatly that he made everything that is.

The Bible also affirms that God has not turned his attention elsewhere and forgotten about life on earth. Rather, he is infinitely focused on what happens to everything on our planet. Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matthew 10:29-30) The Psalmist wrote about the Lord, "You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing."

So, Americans, great start! One warning, though. Don't stop there. Many people believe that believing in God is all that God requires of us. The Bible says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." (James 2:19) In other words, even the devil himself and all his demons believe in God, but they are shaking in their boots at what awaits them in the future. So believing in God is a nice start, but it's only a start.

More about other common American beliefs about God in future blogs. Prepare for some myth-busting.

God--According to Most Americans

Sat, 30 Jul 2005 17:45:00 +0000

A recent study by two researchers (see below) at the University of North Carolina found that American teenagers have the following beliefs about God:

  • "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on Earth."

  • "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."

  • "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."

  • "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."

  • "Good people go to heaven when they die."

  • The findings were based on interviews of 3,000 teens. My guess is that these teens reflect the beliefs of the majority of Americans. The key question: are these beliefs true? The question is not whether we want them to be true, because they may well be a picture of the God that we would design if we could, a God who reflects an enlarged version of--ourselves.

    In coming blogs, I will compare each of these beliefs to the book that Jesus said was God's autobiography: the Bible. As we look at these Scriptures, I ask that you open your heart and see if God speaks through the Bible to you to confirm that the Bible is indeed his autobiography.

    Citation on study: Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), in the book: Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press).

    Design your own God

    Sat, 16 Jul 2005 19:53:00 +0000

    I saw an ad this week that trumpeted "Design your own house." That is an idea that appeals to many people. This is the age of made-to-order and "have it your way." It is no surprise that many take the same approach to spirituality. Today it is popular to design your own God according to what you think he should be.

    There is a problem with that. Does my wanting God to be a certain way make him that? If one person wants God--I'll use a meaningless example to make the point--to hate green beans and another wants God to love green beans, can God be both?

    Have you ever had someone assume something about you that was not true? Maybe he assumed that you had a certain belief that you did not: for example, that you did not respect a certain ethnic group. Suppose you argued that, no, you fully respect that ethnic group, that you are not prejudiced. If he kept insisting that you were prejudiced, that does not mean you are. His assumptions about you do not make them true.

    Likewise, the hundreds of differing beliefs that people have about God, and the fact that people dearly want them to be true, do not make them true. God is who he is. God is the authority on God. We cannot design God. We have to deal with God as he is. We have to face reality, like it or not.

    In my next blog I'll continue on this theme by looking at what the majority of Americans believe about God. Then, we'll talk about how we can avoid the error of designing our own God.