Happy Sixth Birthday (and a Free Book for You!)

6 cake

Escape to Reality is six years old today – hooray! – so this seems like a good opportunity to take a moment to reflect on the past and future of the blog. Since our last birthday I have published 58 new articles. The most popular was “The 9 lies of religion.” That one was fun to write, but my favorite article was the one entitled, “Is grace a person?” I also enjoyed doing the series on Job. (One day I may write a book about this poor man.) Who’s reading this stuff? According to the annual report prepared by Wordpress, last year E2R was visited half a million times by readers in 222 countries. … [Read more...]

Pure Religion (James 1:27)

Refugee Women

Religion is bad. By definition, religion is a kind of bondage, which means there’s no such thing as good religion. But what about James who said this: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (Jas 1:27, KJV) There are two ways to read James’s words: 1. Religion is good Forget grace, forget the cross, forget the blood of Jesus – what really impresses the Lord is visiting the fatherless and widows. And if you really want to impress him, keep yourself unblemished from the … [Read more...]

Examine Yourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Old car e2r

  In my country every car has to pass an annual road-worthiness test. As a poor student with a cheap car, I used to dread this test. Would the inspector say something about my dodgy brakes, the missing tail-light, or the cloud of black smoke coming out of the tailpipe? Would my car fail the test and be taken off the road? You may have similar feelings of dread and anxiety when you read this verse: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Cor 13:5) To the one who … [Read more...]

Your Unbreakable Union with Christ

unbreakable

Some Christians understand their union with the Lord but only half way. “Sure, God is with us, but sometimes he isn’t. He comes and he goes.” It’s true that in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon certain people at certain times, but that was then and this is now. Jesus said the Holy Spirit abides with us and makes his home with us (John 14:16–17). By home he means home. You are not a motel room for the Lord. You are a walking, talking, living, breathing temple of the Holy Spirit. He is not going anywhere. “Are you saying that the Holy Spirit is with me even when I sin?” Yes! … [Read more...]

Patient Endurance (Revelation 14:12)

Spiritual Rambo_sm

A reader asked for my thoughts on the following passage: This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Rev 14:12, NIV) When I was a younger man I might’ve preached a message on this verse that went something like this: “You gotta hang tough for Jesus. You gotta suck it up and stick it out or he’ll reject you.” What a terrible flesh-glorifying message! And who was I to talk about endurance? I hadn’t been through half the stuff John the Revelator endured. I didn’t live in fear of the Roman circus or Pharisaical … [Read more...]

The Axe at the Root (Matthew 3:10)

Chopping

A ravenous wolf, such as Jesus described in Matthew 7, is someone who uses threats to extort money or service from others. If you were such a person, God forbid, you might to use the following verse to threaten the saints: The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt 3:10) “Beware the swinging axe! Produce good works or burn. Excel in generosity (pass the offering bucket) and service (sign up for these programs) or there’ll be hell to pay!” To threaten people in the name of the Lord is … [Read more...]

Seven Books for Christmas 2015

Apostle (Pollock)

It’s been a while since I’ve recommended some good vacation reading here on E2R. Here are six diverse books I have recently enjoyed The Apostle: A Life of Paul, by John Pollock (2012) This biography of the apostle of grace is a treasure. It makes the stories of Acts come alive and gives the reader a rich insight into the life of the world’s most famous letter writer. Paul has always been one of my favorite Biblical characters, but after reading Pollock’s biography I feel I know him better than ever. The humanity of the man – his generous heart for others and his irrepressible urge to share the … [Read more...]

Married to Jesus

Wedding rings

Jesus spoke of the joy that erupts in heaven when a sinner repents and comes to believe in the good news. We might imagine they have something like a birthday party to celebrate the new birth, but in reality it’s the rejoicing that accompanies a wedding. It’s a celebration of a new life wedded in union with Christ. Many of us are looking forward to the wedding banquet yet to come, but Jesus is returning for his bride, not his fiancée. You are already married to him. Your union with Christ is not a future event but a present reality that began the moment you first said “Yes” to Jesus. Jesus … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Two Sons

Bros

From time to time people ask me to write about the parables of Jesus. This is something I enjoy doing because I love the parables. The parables of Jesus are launch pads to revelation and if we have ears to hear they reveal the wisdom of God. Especially this one: What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” “I will not,” he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go. (Matt 21:28-30) Great story! I … [Read more...]

Job’s Grace Encounter

blue-eyed man

Tradition has taught that Job endured unimaginable suffering with poise and noble patience. He was a giant of the faith who never said anything wrong, and he is a great example for us all to follow. Baloney. As we have seen in this series, Job was, at times, a self-righteous whiner who complained to high heaven. He blamed God for his troubles and even accused the Lord of being unjust. Yet somehow this makes me like Job more because I have gone through tough times and when I did I wrestled with the same sorts of thoughts he had. “God where are you? Lord, do you hate me? Why have you … [Read more...]

The Gospel of Elihu

Somebodys out to get me

The problem with manmade religion is that it views the Bible in a distorted way that glorifies self and diminishes grace. This can be seen in the way religion portrays Job as a good guy and God as a bad guy who sends the devil to do his dirty work. Contrary to popular opinion, Job was not a giant of faith but a superstitious and fearful whiner, and God certainly did not send Satan to make Job’s life miserable. (Before you write to tell me I don’t know the Bible, please click on those links and read the relevant posts.) Why are so many confused about Job? Because they’ve only read the … [Read more...]

Is Satan God’s Sheepdog?

Sheepdog

The Book of Job is one of the most amazing stories in the Bible, but we read it wrong two ways. First, we elevate Job into some kind of faith hero. Second, we think the devil is a sheepdog sent by the Lord to do his dirty work. This crazy notion is based on the following passage: Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work … [Read more...]