Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pennsylvania Judge's Intelligent Design Decision

Yesterday, a judge in Pennsylvania handed down a decision on a court case involving intelligent design. If you'd like to read the decision you can see it here: http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/Intelligent_Design.pdf

I've read most of it, and it is a disturbing argument. He argues that the teaching of Intelligent Design by a public school is equal to government endorsement of religion. His basis for his position involves the point that ID theory makes a case for a "designer," therefore it is a religious teaching. So I guess any scientific theory that points to supernatural or intelligent direction is outlawed. I wonder if he would also banish scientist's vocabulary that personifies the universe or speaks of evolution as an article of faith:
George Wald: “The universe wants to be known.”
George Greenstein: “If this is the best way to make a universe, how did the universe find that out?”
Professor Harold C. Urey, Nobel prize winner in Chemistry once wrote, “All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere…. And yet we all believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great that it is hard for us to imagine that it did.”
Scientist, L.T. Moore writes, “Our faith in the doctrine of evolution depends upon our reluctance to accept the antagonistic doctrine of special creation."

Judge Jones also spends dozens of pages explaining why Intelligent design is not science. This section may just be the most incredible and mind-boggling of the 130+ pages. How can a judge define what is or is not science? That's like a scientist adding a section to his research paper about constitutional law. During the trial he was presented with expert testimony from scientists on both sides of issue. Both sides had scientists that were equally qualified and educated. Yet the judge chose to affirm the arguments of scientists against ID theory, in his definition of what science is. As you'll see in his decision, he affirms a completely naturalistic, materialistic view of science that procludes the possibility of outside influence (designer) in its very definition. Anyway, there is much more to be said about Judge Jones' decision. If his argument were taken as law in the future, no scientific discovery that points to a higher power would be allowed to be taught in a science classroom. I wonder if teaching the history of science should be outlawed in schools also, since most of the early scientists were Christians who went about their studies because of Christian presuppositions of a ordered, consistent universe created by a rational God.

If you'd like to read a more thourough and articulate critique of the judge's opinion go to:
http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=421

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

So Who Exactly is the Angry Fundamentalist?

Here is an example of the anger and irrational arguments against Intelligent Design Theory:

TOPEKA, Kan. - A University of Kansas course devoted to debunking creationism and intelligent design has been canceled after the professor who planned to teach it caused a furor by sending an e-mail mocking Christian fundamentalists. Twenty-five students had enrolled in the course, originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and Other Religious Mythologies," which had been scheduled for the spring. Professor Paul Mirecki, chairman of religious studies, canceled the class Wednesday, the university said.

Mirecki recently sent an e-mail to members of a student organization in which he referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course depicting intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."

I'm not so sure it would be enjoyable to study religion under Professor Mirecki:) He seems to have signifcant biases towards certain religious expression. Whatever happened to tolerance in higher education anyway? I thought we had become more enlightened than this. He also seems to have a poor grasp on what intelligent design theory is. ID proponents are not arguing for a certain religious viewpoint. They are simply doing objective science. And in examining the evidence they have recognized the presence of complex design, which the theory of evolution by random selection does not sufficiently explain.

It shows a deep misunderstanding of the issues to call Intelligent Design a religious mythology. For a more reasonable explanation of Intelligent Design than that given by Dr. Mirecki, check out http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/. I'm pretty sure it is not run by "fundie fat faces." But even if it is, it still makes sense.

All Done!

First of all, I never would have guessed I'd have an all time high of responses to my post about how google makes money off of Blogger.com. Enough of that. thanks for the education everyone. It is amazing how much I can learn if I just ask:)

Second, I just finished my last final of the semester. The feelings of relief and relaxation have not quite set in, but I'm sure they will. Bring on Christmas!

Soon to come, some thoughts on ridiculous articles I've reading against Intelligent Design. Here are my thoughts in a nutshell: It is annoying to hear over and over again that ID theory is just fundamentist religion (creationism) veiled with scientific terminology. I have read this from several people claiming to be on the side of the thoughtful and intellectual. Have they noticed that many of the most prominent scientists advocating Intelligent Design theory aren't even Christians, or theists at all? But hey, I guess it is easy to avoid thoughtful debate and instead throw out loaded words like "fundamentalist" and "religious right." In fact, this is a favorite strategy of actual fundamentalists (using words like "liberal" for everyone). Well, I may have sufficiently gotten that off my chest. I may not need to write anything further. Oh, and if you are one who thinks the introduction of Intelligent Design theory in schools is nothing more than a religious doctrine being taught as science, please respond. I would be interested in dialoging with you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What's With This Thing?

So, I've been doing this blog thing for about a year. Blogger.com has been kind enough to give nice page to post whatever I want. I haven't been able to figure it out, but I've seen others put up pictures, links, and all kinds of other stuff. Our pages are always available and reliable.

Now here is what I can't figure out. Who pays for this thing? I may be missing something, but I don't see any advertisements on my page or anyone else's. I haven't paid anyone anything for the use of their server space, or page formats. So how does their business work? Anyone? Where's the money?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

I just came across this piece of earth shattering news. Modern science is truly amazing!

"NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The tongue may indeed have a taste for cheesecake, french fries and butter cookies, according to a study published Tuesday."

What will they discover next?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Which of these things is not like the other?

I was reading an article today about the Air Force Academy's football coach, and some racial remarks he made this weekend. As I have listened to some news it is clear people considered these racially insensitive remarks evil and the coach was forced to apologize today. Toward the end of an article on ESPN I read another controversy involving the coach is brought up. Last year he got in trouble for his team led prayers, and a poster he hung up in the locker room saying, among other things, "I am a member of team Jesus Christ." He ended up taking down the poster and ceasing his prayers.

The article's author then went on to make a disturbing connection. He wrote, "Claims that chaplains and some academy leaders impose their conservative Christian beliefs on others prompted an investigation by the Air Force, which concluded there was no overt religious discrimination at the school near Colorado Springs but found some cases of insenstivity."

Fair enough. The coach was a part of a controversy last year involving some complaints about Christianity. He's involved in controversy this week about race. Last year he was involved in controversy about religion. I can see the relationship. Both involve the coach. But the article doesn't stop there.

The author then goes on to make an odd connection, "The complaints that some cadets and faculty are evangelizing others follow a sexual assault scandal that shook the academy two years ago when female cadets said commanders punished them when they report assaults. The Air Force replaced the academy's top commanders and put new policies in place." (End of Article)

Hmmmm....... Am I the only one that thinks this is an odd parallel to make? Evangelism and sexual assault? The fact that those two controversies are even mentioned in the same sentence is disturbing. Racism, sexual assault, and Christian evangelism are seen as what's wrong with the Air Force Academy. What a strange world.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When cell phones take over prayer rooms....

During a prayer request time in the beginning of a class this morning two requests were given for parents dealing with difficult pregnancies. Please pray them. One family in California just had a baby who had a rough delivery, and ended up going brain dead. They are mourning in a hospital somewhere where another baby is in need of a heart. They are trying to make the difficult decision to give their precious child's heart to another. Here in Louisville a pregnant mother at 36 weeks is having complications and will receive an emergency c-section today. Please pray for both of these families and babies.

As I heard these requests I was overwhelmed with emotion and a need to pray. Since a seminary classroom is not always the best place to give vent to emotion (tears, etc), or prolonged and focused prayer, I left. I headed for the prayer room around the corner. As I neared it, I saw a girl in front of me talking on her cell phone. As I was about to reach my safe haven of prayer she felt compelled to continue her conversation in the prayer room. She entered, shut the door, and I heard it lock. After another 3 minutes of wandering I found a quiet place and after getting over my frustration I prayed.

I wonder, how often does technology interrupt our prayer? What if my computer wasn't constantly hooked up to the entire world? What if I couldn't call someone every time I felt lonely? What if my car stereo didn't work, and I was forced to make long (or short) drives in silence? What if tv didn't exist? Would I listen more? Would I think about God more? Would I notice beauty more?

Would there be more place to express our heart to God? Would the silence help? Would I pray more?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Am I Focused?

A quote from Floyd McClung, former director of Youth With a Mission, "If you live without a vision of the glory of God filling the whole earth, you are in danger of serving your own dreams of greatness, as you wait to do 'the next thing' God tells you. There are too many over-fed, under-motivated Christians hiding behind the excuse that God has not spoken to them. They are waiting to hear voices or see dreams - all the while living to make money, to provide for their future, to dress well and have fun."

I found this paragraph to be convicting. It is so easy for me to lose perspective of what is ultimately important and enjoyable. Pray I will not be "under-motivated."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

One Missionary's Life Motto

"Prayer and pains, through faith in Jesus Christ will do anything." John Elliot, missionary to the Native Americans of New England in the 1600's.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Fight of Faith

I just noticed it has been over a month since I last posted anything here.

I've tried a couple of times, but the truth is I don't know what to say. I am battling to learn and grow, and sometimes it is hard. I am fighting the fight of faith, struggling to have more faith than fear.

The end of Pslam 27 struck a chord with my heart last night:

"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!"

A strengthened heart and courage do not come from improved circumstances (all of us can think of people that have it worse than us and better than us), they come from the LORD. Hoping in the Lord, not manipulating or fretting about circumstances, is where joy is found. The enemy tempts us to doubt the goodness of God in a multitude of ways. The fight of faith is about waiting on the Lord and steadfastly trusting that He is good and His plan for us is a good one. Let us trust in our good God at all times. It brings Him glory and it brings joy and courage to our frail hearts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

To Clarify....

There is a line in my song for Paul that I think can be misunderstood:
"But the enemy's robbed us of all of these momentsHe has taken my son from my arms"
I think this line could be taken to mean that what happened on April 10th was just a result of some cruel enemy, and that God had no control of it. That God may have wanted to stop this tragedy from happening, but an enemy of God caused it anyway. Some theologians today believe this kind of thing, and some pastors even counsel people in this manner.
Let me just say, I do not believe this. The Bible clearly teaches that God is in control of all things:Ephesians 1:11: "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will."Ps 139:15-16: "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
At the same time, the Bible also affirms that certain things are evil and are enemies of God. These include sin, Satan, and death. God hates sin and is opposed to it. Death has entered the world because of sin, and is not a natural part of God's good creation (Rom 5:12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned"). Just becuase God has providentially allowed death and sin does not mean that we should act like it is natural or good. Death is an enemy of God and God's people. That is why I wrote, "the enemy's robbed us of all of these moments." I know and trust that God is ultimately in control of everything that happens in His universe, and this faith is what gives me hope and strength. But I also know that the separation death causes is not the way things should be. I look for and long for the defeat of this enemy and the ultimate victory of Christ.
In Christ's life, death, resurrection, and ongoing reign He is on a mission to overcome the enemies of God and God's people:1 Cor 15:25-27 "For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death."Revelation 20:14: "Then death and hades were cast into the lake of fire."1 Cor 15:54 "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."It is not until the final resurrection of God's people that death is completely defeated and swollowed up in victory. It gives me joy that Paul is in the presence of God. But I also look forward and long for the day when I am reunited with Paul, and Paul is reunited with his body at the resurrection. In that day, God's sovereign and beautiful plan will have been accomplished. A perfected, sinless, and resurrected people, living on a perfected earth (Rev. 21:4: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."), where the Lord will dwell with us forever (Rev 22:3 "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.")
Until then, let us trust that God is in control of ALL THINGS. But let us also hate the things God hates and pray for their end, while looking forward to their defeat. Jesus Christ guaranteed it when He rose from the dead after suffering victoriously on the Cross. What a good, wise, and powerful God!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Song for Paul

Here is a song I wrote for Paul, my son who is at home with the Lord. I think it expresses well what has been happening in my heart these past 2+ months... a mixture of hurt and hope:

I wanted to hike to the tops of the mountains
I wanted to tell you God's stories of old
I wanted to kiss your cheeck while you're sleeping
I wanted to teach you for Him to be bold

But now in your place all I have is the silence
And in my life is now present a void
All the dreams that were planted now linger
But they are faint and they're missing your joy

I would have changed you on top of your table
I would have tucked you snug into your bed
I would have said over and over, "I love you."
I would have worked to make sure you were fed.

But the enemy's robbed us of all of these moments
He has taken my son from my arms
I can't hug him, or kiss him, or hold him
And now life has lost much of its charm

But I know this is not the whole story
Death's defeat is surely to come
One day Christ will come in with His kingdom
And life will forever have won.

Then we'll hike to the tops of the mountains
And we'll talk of God's stories of old
Maybe I'll kiss your cheek while your sleeping
And I know that for Him you'll be bold.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

learning to listen

There is something about me that loves to think, and analyze, and even argue. I love to answer questions and point things out to people that they may be missing. I think this is good in what God has called me to do, proclaim the truth of Scripture and help people know Christ. However, sometimes our greatest strengths can be liabilities, or blindspots. I remember my freshmen year in college when a friend of mine told me that I don't listen. Of course, I was initially indignant thinking to myself how often I had thought of listening and its importance to good communication. After a couple of minutes of arrogance however, I respected my friend enough to really examine myself. I found that he was right. After that I started to listen and ask questions of people simply to learn about them and try to understand them fully, even when I disagreed with them.

I've gotten better, but a couple of events in the past week have brought to my attention that I still have not arrived. On two occasions I have come out with my guns blazing - one when nobody even brought a controversial topic up, and one when a friend had simply voiced an important and searching question. After both occassions there was something inside me that didn't seem right. And as I took time to be quiet I realized that what I didn't do was really listen... not just to the words, or logical arguments... but to the heart and the search and the yearning behind the questions and the words of others. Hopefully from these faltering steps of mine God has brought me one step closer to being what He wants me to be - someone who is slow to speak and quick to listen, slow to become angry, and full of edifying words. Someone who tries to learn from each person he talk to or interacts with. There is much I can learn... this does not mean that there is not a need to speak truth and that I will turn off the analytical side of my personality. What I hope it does mean is that as I humbly listen I will gain a better grasp on what the truth is, and of what the Christ-like way to present it is.

For those of you who may get burned by strong opinionated types like myself from time to time, please remember that we are still on the journey too:)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

When Insulation Replaces Reality

One of the most striking things about the Bible is its brutal honesty. It is filled with flawed people (Abraham, Samson, David, Peter, etc.), horrible suffering (nation of Israel, Paul, Jesus), and human tragedy (Saul, Adam, Cain, Israel's kings, etc.). Its honesty about life and the pains inherent in this world strengthen its credibility and validity. It is clear that it was written by people (and a Person) who understand the realities of this world. Consider the following verses:

John 16:33: In this world you will have trouble.
Rom 8:36: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Ps 119:143: Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.
Psalm 34:19: A righteous man may have many troubles...

It also presents a God who is not distant from the hurting or immune to His creation's suffering.

Ps 34:18: The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
2 Cor 1:3-4: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles,
Isa 53:3: He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Heb 2:10-11: In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.

The Bible makes it clear that suffering and pain is real for those living in this world. It is honest about reality and does not sugarcoat human existence in this fallen and broken cosmos. It has been breathed out by God to help people understand pain, to prepare them for it, and to give them hope as they endure the trials of life.

However, I am afraid that much of western Christianity has failed to be as honest as the Bible always is. The most popular gospel tract in America starts with "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." While this may be true, I am afraid that the cross-carrying, self-denying discipleship Christ called us to is often left out. Christian pop music is filled with cheery songs, sung by pretty people. The books on how to be blessed by God in your career finances and emotional life fly off the shelves. Talk of the victorious Christian life leaves the struggling sinners feeling isolated and alone. The relentlessly celabratory style in most worship services often rings hollow for those sitting on the back pew with no friends and no hope.

I believe that our Christianity has been influenced by our culture. We live in a time and a place where the auto-pilot is always set to comfort, health, and security. Gated communities fill our towns, car alarms protect our cars which are designed to protect us in the case of an accident. They have a pill for "anything" that is ailing you, and doctors are sued regularly if they can't "fix it." Even when Americans get old and sick they are often put into "rest"homes where they are out of sight and out of mind. And we have moved our cemeteries out of the church yard, so we are no longer reminded every week that we will one day die. Television feeds us a world full of young, healthy, attractive people. And while it is true that the news pumps a steady stream of murder, war, and crime into our minds, we are assured by our President and mighty military that they will keep our borders safe.

We live in a society that tries to convince itself that it can escape pain, suffering, and heartache. It tries to deny the reality of this fallen world, and fortify itself from the inevitable. Our culture is doing everything it can to insulate itself from the realities of life, and I'm afraid that sometimes our Christianity falls right in line. But let me tell you, all the insulation in the world will not help you when you are thrust into the cold hard reality of agonizing suffering. At that time smiling motivational speakers, pill prescribing doctors, bright commercials, upbeat praise songs, and optimistic thinking will get you nowhere. A worldview that is built upon a false insulation of denial and false hope will fall apart when reality comes crashing in.

We must be careful not to follow the auto-pilot of our culture. We must remember the words of Jesus that we will have trouble, and the words of Paul that all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will face persecution. Suffering is not abnormal for the Christian, it is to be expected. In order to be prepared for it we must saturate ourselves in the Scriptures. We must see how God's people have suffered, and build our lives on the promises of God.

Because the Bible is honest about reality it the best place to go when trials come (and before). It will remind us that others have suffered before us, it will remind us that we have a God who cares and who has suffered. But most of all it will remind us that suffering and sorrow will one day end. The grim realities of today's hurricane will soon be forgotten in the light of a beautiful sunrise. One day, God's Son will return, coming in the clouds with His mighty angels. The dead in Christ will be raised, His people will be gathered to Him, and we will live forever in a world without tears, sickness, or death. God will reward His people, and those who have persevered under trial "will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).
Choose to embrace the realities of Scripture rather than the insulation of the world. In the moment of trial you will be glad you did, trust me.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

God is good

For two months this blog was ignored by me because there were so many more important things to attend to. Love had grown to a laser beam that centered at one beautiful point. Nothing else mattered but the love that was ours. It was immense and intense. God's sweet gift brought tears to my eyes, and prayers to my lips. No time to share my thoughts with others.... only two people mattered and they were living under my roof, and I was the most blessed man on earth.

Seconds can change a life.

People are not designed to deal with death. It is a foreign invader in God's good creation. If it were not for God's special grace who could stand? But let me assure you, God does give abundant grace. He is close to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit. He upholds the faith of His people and holds them near when they have nothing to hold on to. We are continuing to bank on His grace for each new tomorrow. God is good. I look forward to going to church tomorrow to worship Jesus on earth while my first born son worships Him face to face.

Remember and do not lose hope, "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32 Memorize this and use it to fight when the enemy sows seeds of doubt in times of trouble.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Some Children, a Rich Guy, and the Kingdom

Jesus teaches some amazing things about the kingdom in Matthew 19. First Jesus says in verse 14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” He said this to His disciples who were rebuking those who brought children to Jesus. It seems they had missed something. Maybe they thought Jesus was too important, too prominent, too profound, to spend His time with little children. There were great works to be done, people to be healed, religious leaders to be confronted, a massive kingdom to be swept in. Praying for children didn’t seem to fit into the plan these disciples had in mind. But, Jesus says, “the very kingdom you are so concerned about, belongs to kids like these who you are shooing away.”

Then a rich young man comes to Jesus and asks what it takes to have eternal life. It is clear from Jesus’ words in verse 24 that this is the same as entering the kingdom of God. He treats this ruler much different than he treated the children. With the ruler He almost drives Him away telling Him to give everything He has to the poor. The rich man went away sad because “he had great wealth”(v22). Jesus then turns to His disciples and says, “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Just a bit earlier He had said of children that the kingdom belongs to them. Poor, ignorant, humble, lowly, forgotten, unnoticed children – own the kingdom. But a rich, prominent, talented, relatively righteous man? It is hard for Him to get in. The disciples may have been a little confused. Actually, to be honest, I am a little confused.

I think the last exchange in chapter 19 may help tie some of the loose ends up. In verse 26 Jesus affirms that with the God all things are possible… even proud, rich men getting into the kingdom. Peter, speaks up and says, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Jesus answers that Peter and the others will sit on the 12 thrones judging the tribes of Israel. Probably just what Peter wanted to hear.

But then Jesus goes on and says some very important things. “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” The words “for My sake,” jump out, and I think they may have jumped out to Peter. Do I make sacrifices and do the things I do for the sake of Jesus Christ? Do I go to church, and share the gospel, and love the lowly, and give to the poor in order to bring honor and glory to Christ? Or do I do so to advance my cause, and to build my own personal kingdom within a kingdom? You see, I think many of the disciples were still thinking in this way… they were very concerned with fame and prominence in a worldly kingdom, as is evident in many of their conversations leading up to the cross. After Jesus’ death and ascension – His example of service and humility – their attitude would change. But there were still lessons to be learned by them, and by me. The final word in this chapter is, “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”(v30). It is like Jesus is saying, remember the children! The least, the humble - these are the ones that occupy the great positions in kingdom, not those like the rich young ruler. The way up, is down. God exalts the humble. I am to seek the prominence and fame of Christ, not myself. This is a lesson the disciples still had to learn. And thankfully, eventually they did. I pray I will learn it just as well - to forget myself and to give myself for the glory of our King, Jesus the Christ... this is my prayer tonight.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

One Greater Than...

In Matthew 12, Jesus is greater than the temple (v6), greater than Jonah (v41), and greater than Solomon (v42). The temple was the center of worship for the Jewish people, and the place where the manifest presence of God dwelt. It where the Jews and even the Gentiles were to look in order to meet with God. For a first century Jew, the temple was the center of worship, and as closely tied to Yahweh as anything could be without it being idolatrous. Then the Teacher, Jesus comes along and says to a bunch of harassing Pharisees, “Something greater than the temple is here.” While they were still reeling from this blasphemous blow He hits them with another, “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” This is no way to make friends or calm tension. I guess Jesus is showing His disciples what He meant earlier when He said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34). He goes on to point forward to His resurrection by saying what happened to Jonah is nothing compared to the miracle that will take place in Him. And He finishes by saying the wisdom of Solomon was just a shadow, just a whisper of Him, our true Wisdom and Righteousness.

The Pharisees came at Him and tried to get Him on the defensive. But the Lord Jesus Christ is never on defense. He turned the table on them quickly and started talking about THEIR judgment and that it relates to how they respond to Him. These questioners of God seemed to be great supporters of the Law (Sabbath keeping), and of the Prophets (Jonah), and of the Writings (Solomon). But when the ONE to whom all those things pointed stood right before them they plotted how to kill Him (12:14). All of their religious trappings and posturing were a lie! They would not humble themselves before the Lord, they would not submit to the King. The Pharisees, His disciples, I, have to come face to face with this. Jesus is not something I can probe, put on trial, and mold into my preconceived religious notions. He is Lord. He is King. He is God. May I recognize Him and worship Him for who He is. May I not just be a supporter of religious trappings, but a worshiper of the Lord.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Oddly Encouraging

Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” - Jesus has just assured His disciples that persecution will come. In the rest of chapter 10 He tells them they will be flogged, thrown in jail, and family will kill family, they will have to flee from town to town. It is astonishing to realize that this is the charge He gave them before He sent the 12 out for the first time. I don’t hear many motivational speeches like this. Can you imgagine... "Alright team, this project ahead of you is going to be awful. You will be beaten, hated by family, won't be able to settle down, and there is a good chance of a violent death. Okay, go out there and get em." And then here in verse 28 He “encourages” them by saying not to be afraid of those who can kill the body. Jesus doesn’t say, I will be with you and make sure the persecution doesn't get out of hand. He acknowledges that they may be killed. But they shouldn’t be afraid of that he says. Their primary concern should not be preserving their own life, instead it should be staying faithful to Christ and proclaiming His truth boldly. In verses 32-33 Jesus tells them that whoever acknowledge Him before men, Jesus will stand with them before the Father. But if we deny Him, He will deny us before the Father. That should be what we are truly afraid of. So when the gun is pointed at my head, or the prison sentence stares me in the face, or when people I respect may find me weird or uncomfortable, I should not be afraid of that. Instead, I should fear denying my Lord, and having to stand before the judgment seat of Almighty God without Christ as my advocate. This section is summed up by Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” May we become a people who desire to be with Christ, more than the approval of man. Lord, please help us to endure.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Enemies #2-5 of Christ-exalting marriage

Well, I still haven't gotten to enemy #2 yet. Bummer. My time has mostly been occupied with school, spending time with Stephanie, trying to complete tax forms for the federal government as well as 3 states, with a combination of 10 W-2 forms. I am all for a simplified tax code at this point. Oh, and I also got a new second job. So I am on leave from being a server at Cracker Barrel and hopefully won't have to go back:) Serving is a hard job folks. Tip well!!

I'm not sure when I'll get a full explanation of the next 4 enemies of marriage... I have a ton of reading and schoolwork on my plate and a baby on the way... but I have the basic outlines for the 4 other enemies of Christ-exalting marriage in my head. Until I get to them in fullness, I have put a brief summary of them below. Please read them and post any comments, insights, ideas, or objections you may have. I am just a young sinner who has completed one year of marriage and is imperfectly but passionately trying figure out how to have a God-glorifying marriage.

enemy #
2. The anti-children atmosphere found in the west, and even in many churches. (Its there, trust me. While Mormons and Muslims are strategically having big families in order to evangelize the world... evangelicals look at big families as weird and can't seem to find enough people to work in the nursery. Listen to what God says in Psalm 127:3-5 "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Do you believe that? My heart is full on this subject, but for now i will just say this: I believe the greatest impact I will have on the world for the Kingdom is through my children and my children's children, and so on. I truly believe that Satan has dupped many believer's into a less than Christian view of children and family. I'd better stop on this one, or i won't get to the last 3, and more importantly won't get to bed.

3. Religiousness (by this I mean going through the formal motions, without a vibrant passionate puruit of Christ in the home. This will rob much glory from God as well as do great damage to the faith of any children you my be blessed to have.)

4. TV (The goal of a Christian home should be this: that the word of God would dominate and saturate everything in it. But sadly, the family altar (if you don't know what that is, you prove my point) has been replaced by the TV in most Christian homes. Secondly, Christ exalting marriage mirrors the fellowship found in the Trinity, and between Christ and the church. But when TV dominates, communication and true fellowship are replaced by hours of staring in the same direction. Thirdly, one of the primary tasks of Christian marriages is to disciple children and to teach them to follow God. When TV dominates the home, this task is made difficult and often neglected all together.

5. Lack of Forgivness (In a marriage, there are two fallen, sinful people living under the same roof. Therefore, there are going to be countless little and sometimes big sins committed against each other; a short word, a sarcastic sigh, a lack of communication, losing of tempers, and the list could go on endlessly. But here is the point: every time a person sins against their mate, or just falls short of expectations, that is an opportunity for the husband or wife to demonstrate the grace of God. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to extend mercy, grace, and unconditional love toward the person you love most in the world. God uses this to make us more like Christ and to demonstrate what He is like to the world. So how horrible it is when a marriage is characterized by a cold war of bitter silence, or angry screaming and unforgiving spirits. It is so easy to hold a grudge, especially against the person we know will never leave us. But let us remember what is at stake; your reaction to your mate's next offense could show all those around (inclding your mate, and the principalities and powers in the heavenly places) what God's grace is like, or it could demonstrate that you haven't fully grasped the forgivness of God.

So to put it all positively, a Christ exalting marriage is one that is on mission in the world, primarily through raising and discipling children. This is to be done by parents who are passionately seeking Jesus Christ together, in an atmosphere saturated by the word of God and gracious forgiveness. Of course that is just some of the things a marriage should be. But if Stephanie and I could have that, I would die a happy man:)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

the bridge

I just wanted to let ya know that I haven't quit bloggin. I've just been busy. I hope to write about enemy #2 this weekend.

But here's a quick thought. The blurb of my blog is, "thoughts on my little life and awe of our awesome God." Well, I was thinking about that, in relation to the true truth that we humans are made in the image of God. God has made us as the supreme part of His creation... we have the capacity to reflect and glorify God like nothing else in this universe. Becuase of this, I probably shouldn't say "my little life." It reminds me of a Francis Schaeffer book, "No Little People." That is true, there really are no little people. Human beings have utmost value, because we are made in the image of the infinitely glorious God. Five, applications of this truth: We should examine the way we treat those we consider "little" people (who are they to you? servers? grumpy or obnoxious people? Second, this is part of what makes sin so awful. It takes people who are designed to be something so spectacular and turns us into ugly sinners. Thirdly, the point of salvation is to make us truly human again... to make us into the God-reflectors we were designed to be. Fourthly, I should probably change the little subtitle of my blog. But I'm not going to, because my life is still oh so small compared to the Lord's. Fifthly, go buy something by Francis Schaeffer. I see a lot of people on this little blog network are into C.S. Lewis. Schaeffer is the Lewis of the late 20th century. He is better than anyone I've read at pointing out the spirit of our age, and helping me see things about the way I think that just don't line up with what I say I believe.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Enemy #1 - Materialism

Enemy #1 to Christ-Exalting Marriage – Materialism
There is a mindset that believes the goal of life is to get educated, get married, get your first house, get an extra car, get a bigger house in the nice neighborhood, and provide everything your children will need to do all this and more. It is a mindset of upward mobility, often labeled the American dream. This article does not intend to outlaw things like big houses and cars, but it does want to make us question the way we use our money and the focus that we will choose for our families to have.

The mindset of upward mobility is not absent from the church. Signs of it can be seen even before the wedding, when a young man meets with the father of the girl he wants to marry. The main question is often, “How do you plan to provide for my daughter?” This is not an entirely bad question; the problem is that it often means, “How do you plan to provide lavish material things?” Or “do you have enough earning potential to make sure you will never have to struggle to pay the bills?” A better question may be, “Are you willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to make sure my daughter has food and housing and clothes, and are you prepared to provide spiritual leadership for your family?”

Too many guys have great jobs and a nice house, but do not know how to provide for their family. Many men know how to work overtime in order to pay for a tropical vacation, but don’t know how to pray biblically for their wife. Many couples have a thirty year vision for their financial life, but very few even have a one year vision for their spiritual life. For many, money has become the center of their marriage without their knowing it, and it is a center that will not hold. Every couple needs something bigger to live for than a dream home, a nice car, or a European vacation.

Jesus told us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, and to join Him in His mission to reach the world with the gospel of grace. Instead, many have traded the cross and mission of Jesus Christ for the security of a summer home and a big SUV. When this trade is made, marriage loses its meaning, and God loses some glory. The meaning of marriage is found in walking together with God on mission in the world. How many couples in your church see that as their goal? How many marriage conferences focus on walking with God on mission together? The better question is, how focused are you on that? There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money. But a marriage will be filled with much more joy and glory when couples save to buy Bibles for believers in China, or sacrifice to help a needy family in the church, or save for retirement so they can travel the world sharing the gospel, than if they go into debt to get a car as nice as their Sunday school teacher’s, and a house in the right neighborhood.

Again, I am not saying that we have to buy Bibles for China, and can never buy big SUV’s. But maybe before we make our next purchase or plan our budget, we should ask, “does this decision demonstrate that Christ is the Lord of our family?”

So girls, when you pick a husband don’t pick a guy because he has good earning potential. Pick a man that will take you on a lifetime adventure dedicated to expanding the kingdom of God. And guys, when you choose a girl (and really, the choice is yours. There lots of great girls out there waiting around for a godly guy to step up and marry them), choose a girl that loves to talk about Jesus and to Jesus more than she likes to shop. The glory of God is at stake….

Christ-Exalting Marriage

Many discussions about marriage revolve around, “how to have a happy marriage,” or “how to make your love last a lifetime.” While those goals are good and justified, they are not ultimate. The ultimate goal of marriage is to glorify God, to exalt Christ. Of course, this should be assumed for any follower of Christ, since all of life is to be about making much of God (1 Cor. 10:31). But we must be careful not to leave the most profound and important things in life assumed, or they will eventually be ignored. Marriage, family, raising children; all of these are given to us to help us better understand the nature of God and to display His beauty to a watching world. Paul made this clear in Ephesians 5 when in the midst of the most beautiful instructions for married people ever written, he wrote, “This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

Therefore, when we speak of getting married or being married, there is much more at stake than whether our love will last, or if we will be happy. There is much more on the line, including the fame of Christ, the reputation of His church, and the ability for others to grasp and embrace God’s love (of course none of those things will happen if our marriage doesn't last, or has no joy). This is why we must not take marriage lightly or enter into it selfishly. And once we have entered into this sacred covenant, we must be jealous to guard against any enemy that would rob the Lord Jesus of His rightful honor. And the enemies are legion. In the next few blogs I will write about some of the things that I believe are enemies to Christ-exalting marriage.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A Mighty Fortress

Well, its been a while since last I wrote. I had a one week class when I got back here to Kentucky. So life has been crazy. But I have still had plenty of time to enjoy my family, and draw closer to God. I was singing this old powerful song to myson (who is still 12 weeks away from being born) the other night, and thought you might like to be reminded of what a great God we serve. It is written by one of the heros (though flawed like all our human heros are) of the faith. Songs like this are not sung much in our churches anymore. That is a shame. Songs like this are not written much anymore. That is a tragedy. We need more God exalting, soul stirring songs, that flow from hearts that have been much with God and suffered much on the narrow road. Well, without further introduction, here it is... Please read it, and think about it, and pray through it, be encouraged by it and most of all SING IT!

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing;
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And tho' this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim - We tremble not for Him;
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly power, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro' Him who with us sideth:
Let good and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER!
(By Martin Luther, at some point in the 16th century)