All posts filed under: Teaching

Venom or victory

It has become clear to me that forgiveness is a practice.  It is something you just do when you recognize resentment, anger or even hatred building in your life towards another person. Each of us must come to that place where we recognize that these symptoms debilitate and dis-empower us from becoming the best version of ourselves for the glory of God.  Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is always about what is best for you. When we are bitten by the venomous snake of unforgiveness, it sucks out our potential and purpose. Left unchecked, its poison will travel through the veins to our heart and once there we lose sight of everything that is important to us. The people we love end up getting contaminated by this venomous reptile, as we slither around with a forked tongue spewing and releasing venom onto our loved ones. Forgiveness needs to become a practice in our lives. We need to determine in advance, when offended we will forgive.  Sometimes it won’t be easy and will …

Sometimes there is more than one right way of doing things

He said: “Dean, there is more than one right way of doing things.” As Christians, we tend to fall in the trap of thinking there is only one way of doing something, God’s way, often cleverly disguised as our way. Now there are certainly things that we need to be dogmatic on including the Deity of Christ, the supremacy of Scripture and morality. But there are a few elements of the Christian faith where there is clearly more than one right way of doing them. One of those is whether to honor Sunday as the Lord’s Day. I was reading an interesting article on CBN, about Chick-fil-A and the company’s decision to close on Sunday. The company is owned by the Cathy family, devout Christians, who have publicly supported traditional values. Despite being closed one day a week, it is now the third largest fast food restaurant in America. Its average restaurant doubles the sales of a McDonald restaurant that opens on Sunday. And since the biggest sales days for most fast food restaurants are …

One Christian’s view of the death penalty

Several years back, I was talking to a friend who asked me why the Bible supports the death penalty in the Old Testament (Numbers 35:16-17), while Jesus states in the New Testament that we need to forgive and even love our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45; Matthew 6:14-15). To him it appeared like a contradiction. How could Jesus exhortation to forgive in any way support the death penalty? It was a valid observation. Two recent media stories may help explain what appears to be a Bible contradiction. According to Religion News Service, the Rabbi of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue is calling for mercy for a mass shooter who killed 11 members of the congregation in a murderous antisemitic attack on October 27, 2018. The media are reporting that the social media accounts of the alleged killer, Robert Bowers, had several anti Jewish statements in some instances referring to Jews as “filthy evil.” Bowers pleaded not guilty to the mass murder. In a letter sent to the state’s attorney general, Rabbi Johnathan Perlman and his wife Beth …

View from the pulpit. Credit: Tyrone Warner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Keep Your Shorts On!

The other night I was preaching. I was just giving it! I mean I was on fire! God had given me the words to say and it was incredible! Then it happened! My pants started falling off. Actually they were shorts. Yup, I am the kind of preacher that wears shorts and sandals. And a shirt. I always wear a shirt. I don’t stay behind a pulpit or a podium when I talk. I walk around while I talk. Whenever possible I connect with people when I speak. This evening was a great setup for this. Unfortunately the word setup is more appropriate than I realized. So there I am in front of the church with rows of chairs in a semi circle around me and rows of pews behind them. I am right in the middle of the main aisle about standing right where everyone could get a good look at me. At first, it was a slight loosening. No problem I thought. I’ll make my way behind the podium and give them a …

Who is the Jewish Messiah — Jesus or Rabbi Schneerson?

There is an interesting story on Breaking Israel News (BIN) of how a group of Orthodox Jews from an organization called the Yad L’Achim recently prevented a Christian missionary group from baptizing several Jews in the Sea of Galilee. There was no mention of  the name of the Christian organization. The plan was to transport the Jews from Tel Aviv to Tiberias for the baptism. According to BIN the organization decided to baptize the Jews on the sabbath believing it would hinder any opposition as the Old Testament law limits travel on the sabbath for Orthodox Jews. But apparently there was away around it, or they just ignored the prohibition against travel and about 15 students who attended a Yad L’Achim religious school in Tel Aviv made their way to the spot that the Jews were preparing to load a bus to Tiberias. Some orthodox Jews were wearing shirts, “Jew stop! Christianity is not our way.” There was a bit of a confrontation at the bus between the missionaries and the members of Yad L’Achim …

Under Pressure

The other day I’m driving around and I hear an annoying ‘boing-boing’ sound. Normally the only annoying sound I hear when I’m driving is my singing so this really caught my attention. The oil pressure gauge read no oil pressure! Then it read too much oil pressure! Either the motor was going to seize or blow up! My poor truck. We’ve been together a long time and every scratch and dent and rust hole is a story. It has more miles on it than the space station! And it just keeps on trucking. I like my truck more than most of my kids. Probably because it cost less and doesn’t talk back. Until now. Turns out the gauge was faulty. It still is, and we, truck and I, learned to live with it. As a Christian I also have to pay attention to my own gauges. I don’t want seize up and I certainly don’t want to blow up. But what if my gauge is faulty? Or what if I simply ignore it?Did you know …

Will God Give Us Money?

I was travelling for work recently, and on a quiet evening, in a hotel with free cable TV, I surfed the channels to find something interesting. One show had a television preacher asking people to send him money. Apparently, if we send money to him, God would send even more money to us. We couldn’t lose. You might know the song by Janice Joplin, where she makes a joke about people who send money and believe in the ‘Prosperity Gospel.’ It’s an old joke, but some television preachers are still serious about it, and many people still believe. So, what is the truth? Will God give us money? Yes. On my travels, I learned some lessons about free stuff from God, either money or things we could buy with money. 1) We are asking God to do something twice, and 2) we need to patch the holes in the bucket. The Bible tells us about “purses with holes.” Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never …

The IRA vs Ulster Loyalists and Zealots vs Tax collectors: God brings hardened enemies together

An article on CBN, tells how the Holy Spirit is bringing together Catholics and protestants who were once deadly enemies in Northern Ireland. Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and two decades ago it was the center of a violent conflict between Catholics and protestants as the Catholic Irish Republican Army (IRA) was seeking Northern Ireland’s independence from British rule. The Union Protestants loyal to the British government were literally in an armed conflict with the IRA trying to stop this from happening. War raged between the two factions for decades with British soldiers also thrown into the mix who were there to keep the peace. In 1998, a peace was reached between the warring factions and though the peace has held, there are still deep-seated resentments between the two groups. And today in Belfast there is a distinctive Catholic sector in the city marked by murals of the conflict twenty years ago. Though the two groups have put down their guns, God is trying to bring a heart-felt peace and a big …

I Hear Voices

Christmas in July! Black Friday! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Sale ends today! There are lots of incentives to buy. The excitement of that new car. The beer that gets the girls. Even the coffee that wakes us up. Man, if we only had these things we’d be fulfilled. Our life would be grand. Okay. I’m not going to lie. Money and good coffee make life much easier. I’ve had both and I’ve had neither. I prefer both. Then there are the more personal incentives like health. Boring! Why lose weight when the right beer makes you happy and attractive? Besides, there’s a drug for everything anyway right? You only live once. Life is short. You know what? Life is only short when things are going well. When things are going poorly life drags on and on. No matter what your life is like, you do only live once. And who can blame you for wanting life in the fullest? I’ve counseled many people who wanted life in the fullest. From sports stars to men and women …

Can anger be a road map to a better life?

Anger is a powerful emotion and can pull us into situations we are not prepared to deal with.  We are not in control. Anger can map out a direction and lifestyle we did not ask for or want.  It just takes us there! We get angry about relationships and our circumstances at home or work. But anger can quickly get out of control. It is like an anchor attached to a rope that slips out of our hands before we can get a good grip on it. Now a lot of Christians think it is a sin to be angry. But the Apostle Paul says that we can be angry and not sin: 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (Ephesians 4:26 NKV) Anger is an emotion and sometimes things happen that are clearly unfair or simply wrong, and we are allowed to get angry. But we must catch the last part of this verse when Paul says don’t stay angry. Don’t let the sun go …

The flame of faith

Español: La llama de la fe When it comes to praying for a miracle, doubt and fear circle my mind with thoughts I can’t do this and my faith drains away. Yet my ability to pray confidently and clearly for miracles seems possible until I am actually faced with a seemingly impossible situation, then doubts flood my mind. The mountain of the impossible looms over me blocking my faith and diminishing my hope.  Why even try to pray or believe for the impossible? As a result, I lower my expectations and say to myself, maybe next time I will be able to believe for a miracle but not now . . . not this time. It’s not that my hopes are too high and I fail to reach them; it’s that they’re too low and I do. But there is something I have started doing recently that seems to help. Whether your hopes and expectations for a miracle are high or low start envisioning a candle burning brightly and steadily inside you. And let this …

I Matter

Have you ever thought about your life and wondered what happened? How did I even get here? I always knew I would be a somebody.  Like the next great journalist, rock star or great writer.  But here I am. I am just me. And what’s wrong with just me?  Probably nothing except I did not plan to be just me.  I planned to do big things with my big brain and my big ideas.  Women talk about the glass ceiling, this idea that they can see the top-level of decision makers but can never attain it.  This is not a feminist idea, this happens to men as well as women.  You see I was born into a very poor, very tired family.  My parents had their dream of farming pulled out from under their feet.  They worked extremely hard, taught their kids about love and God, and made us feel loved.  But they never recovered.  Eventually they moved to BC where Dad became a logger, then a city worker and Mom became a waitress.   I …

Is Sin Still a Thing?

One of the buzz words that explains modern society is ‘tolerance.’ It fits nicely with ‘inclusive’ and ‘multicultural’ and other similar sentiments. If you want to be tolerated, you need to be tolerant. Ironically, tolerant people will be intolerant towards you if you are not suitably tolerant. They will judge you for being judgmental. And then there is ‘sin.’ It’s a popular word among old Christians, but it clearly is not tolerant, inclusive or multicultural. A sin is something that is wrong, and needs to be condemned, and possibly forgiven. That idea is judgmental and it does not fit with modern thinking. So, is sin still a thing? I have a job that is new for me, and last week I traveled and stayed in a small-town motel. My room was clean, but the neighbors were a bit scary. They were the kind of people who stay in motels in small towns. One group was a team of furniture movers. They seem to live like gypsies, and they like to barbecue and argue about things …

Struggling to free yourself from the web of comparison

Español: Luchando para liberarnos de las redes de la comparación I think we say sorry to often. Others may not like your opinion, but provided you weren’t harsh or mean in what you said, there is no reason to apologize. Yet many of us apologize for the silliest things.  Stop saying sorry for no real reason. Ask yourself if you really need to apologize or are those words another way of belittling yourself? Save your apology for the real stuff when you have really blown it and now you have to own it.  Do it when you want to run and hide or avoid acknowledging the mistake you made. That’s when you apologize and say those words, I’m sorry. But along with this we need to train ourselves to stop saying I’m sorry for things we are not responsible for which is also backwards. So why do we do this? We need to understand the root of our apologizing for everything may have been deeply ingrained in us from childhood. It is often rooted in …

Who’s There?

Who makes you uncomfortable? Imagine walking down a lonely street and there is one other person walking towards you. It is just you and him or her. For some this is enough to make us nervous. For many though it will depend on what that person looks like and how they walk. Perhaps it is a big man who is not walking straight. Or it might be a person from a culture we don’t know or trust. It could even be nice, clean cut young woman who is more nervous than you are. How many times do we walk by a person with their hand or hat out asking for money? Does that make you uncomfortable? How about a limousine pulling up and a couple get up who are well dressed and appear very wealthy? Would they make you feel uncomfortable? I wonder how many times in a day we pre-judge others? It is more likely that the person coming towards you on the street just wants to get to where they are going. The …

Breaking free from the chains of regret

Many of us are weighed down by regrets from the past and the longer we stay chained to these regrets, the harder it is to break free from them.  We lose our freedom in Christ because holding onto past regrets links us up to self-condemnation and self- hatred. The Bible says that in Christ we are freed from all condemnation (Romans 8:1) and there is also no separation from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). We must learn to love ourselves in the same way God loves us. The longer we hold on to this chain and refuse to forgive ourselves for past mistakes and failures, the heavier the chain becomes. So how do we free ourselves from these chains that weigh so heavily upon us, that they almost take our breath away at times? It starts by accepting the fact that we all make mistakes. It is part of being human.  And then forgiving ourselves if needed. If we don’t, it will inevitably lead to condemnation. Lana Vawser, a prophet and teacher, says it’s …

The rest and the pest

Recently, I had a dream followed by a vision that spoke very clearly to me in my calling as a prophetic writer. Others here may find this resonates with them as well in this season. In the DREAM, I was reading some words out loud. When I came to the word “retreat”, I was having difficulty reading the word as there was an “S” in the word, creating the word “RESTreat”. I asked the One present with me if there had always been an “S” in the word retreat, and I was told “YES!!” Immediately following the dream, I had a very clear VISION of a GOPHER’S FACE. The gopher immediately LOOKED TO MY RIGHT. The vision ended. Interpretation: I live in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan. Here where I live, the Richardson Ground Squirrel (known on the prairies as a gopher) has been declared a PEST by the government of Saskatchewan, as it destroys farms and gardens in this region. This “PEST”, in my vision had literally turned its face toward my right (hand), …

My Wife Told Me To!

There are two lines of men at the gates of heaven. One line is long and winding as far as St. Peter can see. The other line has a lone man in it. The sign above the long line is for men whose wives nagged them. The other one is for men whose wives did not nag them. “Ever since we started these lines no man as ever stood in this line. You are the first.” St. Peter tells the guy. “Tell me your secret.” “My wife told me to stand in this line.” Well now you’re either laughing or spitting but I tell this story to illustrate a point. Men are called to lead in their families. This is not as the world leads though, but as Christ leads, so women don’t get mad or jealous just yet. Christ-like leadership is called servant leadership. You see, Christ led the disciples and still leads the church today. Not once did he act like a dictator. Not once did he demand his followers to pick up …

For An Opportunist, There is No Truth

You might know the story of Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer, sometimes called the father of modern astronomy. He discovered ‘Heliocentrism’ which means the Earth revolves around the Sun, and not the other way around. For this, he was tried and condemned by the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church, forced to repent of his sin, and placed under house arrest for life. RELATED: Galileo Galilei: Wikipedia It turns out he was correct, but his research interfered with the powers of his time and place. Truth was less important than the opportunity to gain and hold power. This happened at the time of the Protestant Reformation, and it’s one of the reasons why we have Protestants today. Clever people moved north to Protestant regions, and initially research and industry were mostly in the northern parts of Europe, in countries like Germany and Sweden; the wealthy countries, today. That was a big mistake for the Catholic Church, and they are still embarrassed. The story of Galileo is also a warning to us today, especially religious believers …

From deep water to joy

When I work with people who have gone through deep waters – whose life experience includes trauma that overwhelmed their resilience and robbed them of their ability to cope – I sometimes recall my own traumatic journey and the path I took to wellness. From that journey, I learned to embrace joy – not the faux emotion we sometimes confuse with happiness, but the deep, abiding awareness that even in the midst of the worst of life experience, it is possible to align your spirit with the God who is the source of all that is good and glorious in the universe. Joy is to happiness as celebration is to gratitude. And it is in that realization that I gained an insight into one of the most essential and consequential truths of mental wellness – a realization that has made me a far more effective therapist. It has long been a mainstay of mental health treatment to encourage those suffering from depression to cultivate and foster an “attitude of gratitude” – to identify those things …

God Spoke To Me The Other Day

I truly believe that the great voice of God, in this world, is in the Bible. That’s where we find a clear message, giving us direction for our lives. That source has always been good for me. It’s also true that God can send things into our lives with a clear message. In my experience, these ‘experience’ messages are easy to ignore, or dismiss, but they point us to something important, if we are willing to listen. So, I have a new job, in a new city. Everything is new for me, and for the people I work with. I do driver evaluations and those who are successful move forward to something new that makes them happy. They shake my hand and thank me, or cry. I really enjoy my new circumstances, and so do the clients. It’s happiness and a new chapter in life, for everyone. I like living in all this new and positive energy. The other day, I started work by evaluating a route. It’s important to ensure that the route will …

Why am I so anxious?

“Do not be anxious for anything,” the Bible says (Philippians 4:6). As a psychotherapist, I regularly deal with people with serious and debilitating anxiety. And I know that simply deciding to not be anxious doesn’t work. Anxiety is the product of changes in one’s brain and autonomic nervous system as a result of trauma. And trauma is a life event that overwhelms a person’s emotional capacity and understanding. Traumatic response is marked by these characteristics: Submerged memory as the brain blocks you from again being overwhelmed; Emotional dysregulation as the brain blocks access to executive brain functions responsible for regulating how we feel and respond to stress; and Difficulty forming attachments and, sometimes, disassociation. Anxiety is what a person experiences when these characteristics are inadequate to deal with traumatic memories or new stress experiences. Anxiety is experienced emotionally, psychologically, and somatically (in the body). It is a state of readiness to either respond with aggression (fight) or by fleeing or avoiding the situation (flight). Anxiety is living in the expectation that the immediate future is …

The difference between guilt and shame

As a mental health professional, I’m often asked the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is “I did something wrong.” Shame is “I am what is wrong.” Guilt is “I violated a norm, a societal expectation, or a requirement set out by God.” Shame is “I am at my core without any worth.” Guilt originates from selfishness or self-centredness. Shame originates from trauma, from life experiences that overwhelm one’s emotional and mental capacity. Guilt requires forgiveness, restitution to those who have been harmed, and a decision of your will to change the guilty behaviour. Shame requires a reorientation of one’s brain to align itself with what is true. Guilt wears a person down. Shame destroys what it means to be a unique person who can enter into the joy of their relationship with a loving God. Guilt points a person to what needs to change in his/her life. Shame prevents a person from wanting to change because of a core belief that s/he doesn’t deserve wellness and normalcy. I deal daily with people who are …

Apparently, we are supposed to be different

My wife and I had a good laugh at the pharmacy recently. We own a 14-year-old cock-a-poo called Sugar. Convenient for her, Sugar is mostly deaf in her old age, so when we yell at her to get out of the garbage, she is blissfully unaware and continues to chomp down. Her deafness gives her at least a few more seconds to continue whatever annoying thing she is doing. Don’t get me wrong, Sugar has been a great dog, but in the end she is still a dog and will do what dogs do. But recently she has been having some health problems, an unusually persistent cough. Though my wife disagrees, I think we spent more money at the vet than we should have, and Sugar was diagnosed with an inflammation in her throat. The dog doctor prescribed a bout of Prednisone, an anti-inflammatory, and as well medication to stop the coughing. The vet told my wife that we would need to pick up that second drug at a human pharmacy, as she emailed the …

What’s Your Problem?

From a Christian perspective the number one problem in the world is sin. But what does that mean? If this is true should the world be worried? How do I know if sin is in my life? It is at this point that most Christians give a pat answer as we explain all about Adam and Eve and the first sin and God’s grand design that culminates in Jesus’ victory at the cross and resurrection. But here’s the problem with that. It’s true. It is true but not heard because it is a hard message to receive. When I tell someone they are a sinner, but they believe they are essentially good and can point to all the good things they do, it does not compute for them. How unfair it would be, they reason, for God to have me born with original sin. Would a loving God actually have innocent babies born with sin? This doesn’t make sense. Much of what God does, does not make sense to us Christians so how much more …

Does God Do Parking Lots?

A few days ago, we went to Costco on a busy shopping day. That store can be busy and parking is often two blocks away on an industrial road, if the lot is full. Just when I was about to drive away, some people walked to their car and drove away. Right in front of me, they left the best parking lot on the site, the one closest to the door. I snagged that valuable real estate quickly, before any other vultures could slide in. That made my shopping trip so much better. Did God do that for me? Does God do parking lots? In that same week, we had a failed tea kettle. It was one of those glass sided appliances with glowing lights; and we use it every day. It started leaking water, so I looked for a new one. The best deals were on the Internet, and they were not good deals. If I paid a high price and waited about a week, I could eventually get a new appliance to boil …

The struggle to choose the right path. Credit: James Wheeler/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why do I second guess myself?

Dear Andy Every time I make a decision I doubt myself.  I have very little confidence in myself and many decisions I made have been disastrous.  What can I do to feel more confident and to make better decisions? There are many reasons why someone lacks confidence in their decisions. First I would look at the evidence. No one makes all the right decisions all the time. Perhaps you are focusing on the ones that had less than stellar results. Perhaps there is a history of poor decision making. Many people can be very adept at making decisions in some areas of their lives but not in other areas. For example, a business person might make wise decisions regarding finances or planning for the future but make poor ones regarding dating or relationships. If you are like this, then your focus needs to change from the poor decisions and towards the good decisions you made. Look at the difference between the two. Try to find common themes with the good ones. For example, perhaps they …

Be different not divisive

I lived in many places and I traveled a fair bit. Divisions are everywhere. Rural people are different than urban people. Rich people are different than poor people. West coast people are different than prairie people. Add in different ethnics and you have a whole lot of differences. Now what do we do? We’re not all the same. Or are we? Ever notice your neighbors? They’re not like you! Some of our neighbors look like us and act like us, but we’re all different. I lived in some areas in which everybody looked and acted the same. I now live in a more diverse area in which people act different from one another. Here is the famous Andy life equation that you never heard about because I just made it up. Difference does not equal division. This changes everything! Think about your own family. Not too many of your brothers and sisters are the same are they? The same with your kids. One might have light hair or be taller or thinner than the others. …

Be angry and sin not, but….

A study conducted by Concordia University in Montreal, Canada concluded that anger causes more serious health problems in old age than sadness or loneliness. The researchers stated that anger causes inflammation in the body, and though it can have beneficial results in the short term, long-term inflammation can lead to serious health consequences. The team studied 226 older adults broken up by age into two groups, 59 years to 79 and those 80 years and older. The researchers then asked them a series of questions daily for a week about the levels of anger and sadness they were experiencing. They then used blood tests to determine the levels of inflammation in their body and as well asked them about any chronic illnesses they were going through. From their study, the researchers concluded that for those over the age of 80, there was a link between levels of anger and poor health: Speaking on behalf of the research team, Carsten Wrosch said: “We found that experiencing anger daily was related to higher levels of inflammation and …

Miraculously saved at sea by ‘The Amen’

Two high school seniors, Tyler Smith and Heather Brown, from Christ Church Academy in Jacksonville, Florida were walking along the beach with friends when Smith and Brown decided to walk into the ocean. A few minutes later, they were caught up in a rip current that swiftly dragged them out into the Atlantic Ocean. In a matter of a few minutes, the two were nearly two miles out, being pummeled by rough seas and unable to break free from the current. Instead of fighting it, they decided to float in the water and were in the ocean for about two hours when their rescue came from a very unexpected source. As this drama was unfolding, Eric Wagner from Delray, Florida was deciding whether or not to head out to sea for a trip to New Jersey. On his Facebook page, he was questioning the decision, because the seas were rough due to the 18 to 24 miles per hour winds. But in the end he decided to make the trip. They were about two miles …

Ninja Jesus: Fight the Good Fight

Using the word “Ninja” and the name “Jesus” in the same sentence might seem wrong to some people, but don’t judge too quickly. There is a lesson to learn here. I was talking to a friend today, and I told him how I once had a stressful job, and I got the impression that I should find a new job. I found one, and a few days after I moved, senior management called a meeting and fired my old department. I learned about this months later. My friend was amazed, and he told me that someone must have been watching over me. I realized when he said it, that he was right. Some power kept me from the termination of my career, unlike many of my friends. Some power. Years ago, I read a news article from Belarus, where the government was evicting and closing a Pentecostal church. Someone wrote a comment in Russian, and I put the words in Google Translate, and I read this story; ‘Don’t close that church. When my little boy …

Guru Jesus: It’s Not About You

Is it possible to learn from Jesus, without being Christian? Yes. Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu who admired the teachings of Jesus, but never became a Christian. Gandhi’s ideas about ‘passive resistance’ come directly from the Bible, and that wisdom brought almost a billion people, in South Asia to independence, without a destructive civil war. Today, the nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and probably Burma, owe a great debt to Gandhi, the peaceful liberator; and his ideas came from Jesus. Gandhi the Hindu treated Jesus like a guru, and that changed to history of the world, in a good way. In Webster’s dictionary, a “Guru” is “a personal religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism.” Jesus was Jewish and not a Hindu, but we apply the definition to Him, easily. You might have heard of “WWJD” for Protestants and “Imitatio Christi” for Catholics, and similar ideas for Orthodox Churches. “What Would Jesus Do?” dates back to 1896, from a novel by an American writer Charles Sheldon. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox …

Why did it take five centuries for the cross to be embraced as a symbol of Christianity?

You may have seen the images circulating of how Notre Dame’s alter and cross survived the devastating fire that destroyed much of the church on Monday, April 15, 2019. Though this cross is making history, it is interesting to note that the cross was not fully embraced as a symbol of Christianity until around the fifth century. In his article, Jesus and the Cross, historian Steven Shisley states that the first sign that the cross had finally gained public acceptance as a symbol of Christianity was in its appearance on the doors of the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome in the fifth century. Until then, the cross had for the most part been down played and the reason for this Shisley claims is because of societal views on the cross. For the Romans, that cross was associated with the deaths of criminals and slaves, the despised of society. They used the cross as a form of execution because it was particularly brutal and painful. And it was also favored because it often took days …