The Man Upstairs?

manning-bud-628

“I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy, I promise you that,” he added. “I’m going to take care of those things first and definitely going to say a little prayer and thank the man upstairs for this great opportunity.” (emphasis added)

 

This is what all star football quarterback, Peyton Manning, said after he won Super Bowl 50 this past Sunday. Some congratulated him for sharing his “faith” in national television. However, what is the man upstairs supposed to mean? Or better yet, whom is he referencing?

I have been personally annoyed by this statement for many years. When someone calls God the man upstairs, it is a telling sign that they don’t know Him. Think about it this way. If my mother lived upstairs in my two-floor apartment building, and I referred to her as the woman upstairs, what does that infer about the relationship that we have? From a linguistic standpoint, it could just be a cultural phrase, and it’s semantic intention is purely arbitrary. However, throughout history, Christianity is defined by Christ dying for sinners, then regenerating and adopting them as His children. From there we continually cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 5:15). We are made sons and daughters by His will (John 1:13), and are no longer called children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3-6). At what point in Scripture or history among God’s people do we find such distancing language to describe God?

I am not too upset over Peyton’s choice of words. In part, I’m glad he said it. Because maybe now we can discuss how a true believer ought to address God among the heathen. If He is our God, why choose language that infers a gap in the relationship? This kind of speech is typically used by those that do not have a meaningful relationship. By that I mean, usually, none at all. If I called my wife “the woman upstairs,” there would be some indication that the relationship is straining, unless there’s an obvious sign I was joking.

But many aren’t joking when they use this trite slogan. To some, this is most recognition they will give God, and that is enough for them. To others, this is a hat tip of humble reverence. Whether it is done ignorantly, or with purpose, those that say that they know Him should not (dare I say will not) bow to this kind of speech. If eternal life, as defined by Christ, is knowing God, and His son whom He sent (John 17:3), I can’t see how a truly regenerated believer would allow such catchphrases to dwell in their vocabulary.

On one hand, I am saying that Christians need to rethink such pithy slogans to describe their God. On the other hand, I believe that this phrase is a penalty flag, that could be a sign that the person does not know Jesus. In other words, I believe anyone who uses “the man upstairs” has never actually met the Man (Christ Jesus; 1 Timothy 2:5). But who am I kidding? Could someone be a true believer and mistakenly utilize such ignorance? I have to consent to the possibility. But more often than not, specifically in my experience, whenever I hear “the man upstairs” come out of someone’s mouth, what follows after, whether in word or deed, as just as atrocious.

Pray for Peyton Manning.

 

– Until We Go Home

The Visitor is available to download for free today.

imageWhat happens when someone travels into the past to deliver an urgent message about the future, but ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Would those unintended recipients of the future warning be able to stop any of the atrocities of the 20th Century (including the assassination of President Kennedy)? Or, in spite of man’s ability to travel through time, would God’s sovereignty demand that the horrible events of history’s past can never be changed?

The Visitor, by J.L. Pattison, is a short story best described as part science fiction, part history, part time travel, and part mystery. With a tablespoon of politics, a pinch of dystopia, and a dash of conspiracy, this tale will take you on an entertaining ride with a climactic ending that will leave you in contemplation long after you’ve put it down.

Here’s what others are saying about The Visitor:

– “I appreciated the conflict between the sovereignty of God and time travel. I have often wondered what would happen if time travel were possible. This story reminded [me] of the rich man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke, especially Father Abraham’s words ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.’ Or in this case, traveled back through time.”  Javier L. Taylor (5 Stars)

– “A new talent to watch. . . . If the Twilight Zone still existed, this short story would be an episode, it is that good. . . . Rod Serling himself would be proud.” PapaPhilly (5 Stars)

– “Possibly the best short story I have [ever] read!” Anne (5 Stars)

– “I guarantee you will be old before you forget this book.” Mark Escalera (5 Stars)

– “Very thought provoking.” Laura McGowen (4 Stars)

– “The author has crafted an excellent short story that captures your imagination and draws you in with its characters. . . . Well done.” Chris Hohnholz (5 Stars)

– “Reads like a suspenseful Twilight Zone episode . . . . If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone this book is for you.” John Cavallone (5 Stars)

– “There is an allusion to the tension between the sovereignty of God and the outworking of history in relation to time travel. I find that to be an interesting thought experiment. Finally, there’s a big nod given to Neil Postman and his vision of the American future given in Amusing Ourselves to Death . . . . The weaving of an interesting fictional narrative with theology, history, political commentary, media ecology, science fiction . . . in such a short space is impressive.” Heath Cross (5 Stars)

– “I love that it moved quickly and touched on so many interesting points and . . . had such an unpredictable ending.” Bernard Ruiz (5 Stars)

– “It was amazing and scary at the same time. The Vistor left me breathless.” Michelle Bledsoe (5 Stars)

– ” I found this to be a new concept for this genre and actually left me pondering what I would change if I could go back and warn others. Overall, a very thoughtful and entertaining read. The writing and pace was perfect . . . . I found this very enjoyable and thought provoking . . . .” Jenaca (5 Stars)

– “The plot is compelling – I imagine Rod Sterling could adapt it quite nicely for an episode of the Twilight Zone.” Jay Eldred (4 Stars)

– “The Visitor . . . [is] . . . a truism that big things come in small packages.” Chad (5 Stars)

– “Very well written in a manner that kept me riveted to the end.” Paul Bayne (5 Stars)

“This story left me with so many questions, and theories. Not about the plot or the characters, but about humans and their choice of not seeing what’s right in front of their eyes.” Laura (5 Stars)

“I really enjoyed this book! . . . I didn’t want the story to be over. It had great depth and character development for such a short story. There were several thought provoking themes woven into the story line that hung in my head for several days after reading [it]. . . . I look forward to reading more from this author.” Kayci (4 Stars)

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If you’re ready to read a unique tale that is also family friendly, then download The Visitor today at Amazon.com.

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still read The Visitor by downloading the free Kindle reading app to your tablet, phone or PC here

A napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to prove the deity of Christ.

image“Years ago I read the following simple but effective illustration from Greg Koukl on how to use a napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to show a Jehovah’s Witness that Scripture teaches (even in their own translation) that Jesus must be God. Greg, who is the president of Stand to Reason and the author of one of my favorite books on reasoning with unbelievers, kindly granted permission to reprint the explanation below. I hope you find it helpful.”

Read the entire article here

One man’s journey away from contemporary Christian music.

imageHere is the opening excerpt from a recent article by Dan Cogan:

I have been what many would call a “worship leader” for close to two decades. When I first became involved in “worship ministry” in an Assemblies of God youth group we sang such songs as The Name of the Lord Is a Strong Tower, As the Deer, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, and others of the era of the 1980s and 90s. Ours was considered a stylistically progressive church since we used almost exclusively contemporary songs.

This meant that if I were to visit a “traditional” church, not only would I be unfamiliar with the hymns, I would also likely cringe when they sang them and in my heart ridicule them (the people rather than the songs) as being old-fashioned.

It was during these formative years in my experience as a worship leader that I began to introduce even more contemporary songs to our youth group. It was then that I discovered artists like Delirious, Darrel Evans, Matt Redman, and Vineyard Music with their songs Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble, Trading My Sorrows, Heart of Worship, and Hungry.

As a young musician who desired to honor Christ, I found these songs to be particularly compelling. I felt different when we sang them. The way Nirvana gave voice to the angst of Generation X, bands like Delirious were giving voice to a generation of young Christians who didn’t feel they could relate to the songs of their parents and grandparents.

Over the years when I would occasionally hear a hymn, the language was always strikingly foreign, with Ebenezers and bulwarks, diadems and fetters. Which only served to confirm my bias that hymns were simply out-of-date. They had served their purpose. They had run their course.

Continue reading the entire article here at DanCogan.com.

What’s coming.

“Maybe at the present the authorities smile on the church of God; but within a while it may frown, and the storm of persecution arise. There was a time when the churches had ‘rest throughout all Judea’ (Acts 9:31). It was a blessed time. But how long did it last? Alas! not long.”

– William Gurnall
1617 – 1679