Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page
Penn (of Penn and Teller) is a very talented individual who is a very avowed atheist. Yet, he was confronted by a man who is a Christian. Notice Penn’s reaction to this:
Interesting how Penn has figured out what so many Christians should already know. Consider this quote:
I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?
(HT: Ed Stetzer)
Lisa Miller’s recent Newsweek cover story (December 15, 2008) on “The Bible and Gay Marriage” created a gigantic stir. If Newsweek was having issues with magazine sales, I am sure that was remedied with this latest issue. Miller contends:
While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. And second, as the examples above illustrate, no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else’s —to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes. “Marriage” in America refers to two separate things, a religious institution and a civil one, though it is most often enacted as a messy conflation of the two. As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God’s will. In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should.
In this paragraph, Miller gives away the store with her own ideology that is imposed on the Scriptures.
For one, she believes the “Bible is a living document” rightly saying that the Bible has spoken to generations, but missing that the Bible is living and active because the God who inspired it is still living and active, and He does not change.
For two, she brings into it an “American” notion that marriage (notice that she puts “marriage” in quotes) is a civil institution. Ron Paul rightly noted in his “Revolution: A Manifesto” that marriage was not seen as a civil institution in this country until the early 1900’s, a relatively recent development.
Thirdly, she fails to interact with Jesus’ words about marriage being between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-10), which is consistent with what Genesis notes in Genesis 1:26-27. Plus, Jesus does condemn lust (Matthew 5:27-30) which is yearning sexually for another outside of God’s boundaries of marriage. He created it, He defines what it is.
Fourthly, she sees marriage as a merely utilitarian contract rather than a God-ordained covenant that is clearly outlined in Scripture. Yet, if one approaches the Scriptures looking for a rationalization for something they wish to see, they will use that paradigm to filter out and justify away that which does not fit their scheme — which is why Mormons use the KJV Bible, yet still are deviant from evangelical faith.
I recommend you listening to Albert Mohler’s interview with Lisa Miller regarding this issue. Miller’s article is a classic case of building up a straw man, then tearing it down. Even so, Miller’s article will fail to sway those who hold to the Scriptures as the truth of God’s Word.
More on this in the days ahead.
I have four children seven years of age and younger (with twin toddler boys as well). So any Gospel-centered, God-honoring, Christ-exalting words of wisdom I can find on parenting are like gold to me.
William P. Smith recently wrote a short work in the CCEF series called How Do I Stop Losing It With My Kids? Getting To The Heart of Your Disciple Problems. You can read the first section of this book here (pdf file) to give you a taste. And in this file, you’ll be posed with these questions:
- When you lose control because your child is disrespectful (or disobedient, or ungrateful, or anything else that annoys you), whose agenda for your child has become most important? Yours? Or God’s?
- When you lose control, are you most concerned with your child obeying God’s will, or your will?
- Whose desires (for peace and quiet, comfort, respect, obedience, etc.) are most important at the moment you are losing control?
- When your child disobeys you in front of others, are you most concerned for God’s reputation or your own? (p. 5)
Smith notes that “children’s hearts are not won by force” (p. 9) and that we must not “demand their worship” by teaching them to “live according to every word that proceeds out of [our] mouths,” but by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4).
Soak in this paragraph:
Children’s hearts are not won by force. When your children are physically, emotionally, and socially mature, their true nature and attitude toward you will come out. You have taught them that their relationship with you is not built on Christ and his way, but on you and your rules. When they reject your rules, it is likely they will also reject you, and you will be left without a relationship with your child. Is there any hope? Yes, there is. Jesus came to free you from the demands that turn his good gifts into your selfish rights. He takes clenched fists and opens them. Jesus doesn’t remove your good desires. Rather, he reorders you on the inside so that your ungodly, twisted demands become godly, righteous desires. As this happens to you on the inside, the way you relate to your child will start to change also. (p. 11)
I hope you will take a look at the great strategies put out by Dr. Smith.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Open your life to God’s people.
- Make a plan for how you are going to relate to your child in the future. (He even calls for parents to take a “time-out” to pray about how to deal with the issue and to direct your child to Christ.)
- Set positive goals. (Don’t just look at your child when they are doing something wrong. Realize that when your child sins, they are running from Christ.)
- Tell stories about your own struggles.
- Look for ways your child is changing.
- Focus on one specific behavior over the next two weeks.
- Depend on Jesus for daily help.
(William P. Smith, How Do I Stop Losing It With My Kids. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2008. 19 pp. $3.99 retail, but $2.71 at WTSBooks.com. Click on the title of this entry.)
I’m speaking tonight at EKU’s Christmas Outreach at 7:30. The theme is “Don’t Miss This Christmas” with the idea of not missing the true meaning. It will take place in the Student Services Building which seats between 500-600 people. Campus Crusade for Christ (hereafter, “CRU”) invited not only students but also faculty.
I ask for prayers for God to speak and just use me as His vessel. I’ll preach from John 1:14, which is the Christmas message in a nutshell, don’t you think? I’m thankful to God for Adam Dixon, director of the EKU CRU for the opportunity. I’m excited–but I want God to be glorified through His Word.
I’d appreciate your prayers.
At the close of each year through the first few weeks of the following year, I prayerfully seek God’s will and desire for our church. I find myself reading through the Scriptures with an intentionality of understanding what God has for the church in general as well as our church specifically in where we are located.
God brings along books to me as well that are priceless. The latest book is Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley. Having only read one other book by Stanley (Visioneering) — and that was years ago — I approached this book without much bias or even expectation.
Yet I would highly recommend this short book. He recommends three ways to help vision stick:
- Cast vision strategically: defining your vision
- Celebrate vision systematically: regularly rejoicing in the successes
- Live your vision continuously: putting your vision into practice in your own life.
He goes on to note how the vision statement for the church must be simple and memorable. He notes how it is better to have vision statement simple and incomplete rather than complete but too long to remember. It is up to the leader to help those following him to see the vision the leader has embraced.
Politico has a report regarding the President-elect’s appointments to his cabinet as well as some of his agenda:
Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.
Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.
Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.
“He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it’s all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.
OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?”
Even supporters make clear they’re on the lookout for backsliding. “There’s a concern that he keep his basic promises and people are going to watch him,” said Roger Hickey, a co-founder of Campaign for America’s Future.
These small paragraphs give all leaders one good moral maxim to stand by: “The higher the expectations, the more prone to disappoint.” Barack Obama’s campaign was filled with promises for progressive (read: liberal) change, therefore many progressives were rejoicing at his election, feeling that he would implement that change immediately.
I do commend Obama for coming in, evaluating the situation, and realizing that changes do take time. One man cannot implement change all by himself, especially when the often inconvenient system of checks and balances are in place. Plus, the man is not officially president yet!
Nehemiah was a leader who understood the need to discern and evaluate the situation before running hogwild into his mission. He heard the problems (Nehemiah 1:1-3), began praying to the God of heaven for wisdom (4-11), came to the leaders with the problem as well as a solution (2:1-8), then surveyed the situation himself (2:9ff) before coming up with a plan (2:19ff).
So regardless, let your expectations match reality.
Dr. Jason Lisle writes a very thought-provoking response to a critic of his website who disagrees with Lisle’s contention of the truth of the Bible when dealing with origins.
When churches and church leaders begin studying methods and techniques of our culture rather than what God has laid out in His Word, even the best intentioned leaders will find themselves straying from God’s will–even when the numbers and results say otherwise.
I grew up on the tail end of a revivalism era where many evangelists would come into a church to conduct “revival services” asking those to “admit they were sinners” and to “come to Jesus” so you will “go to heaven.” Laced with tear-jerking stories and sparse exposition of Scriptures (which the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword), many would be emotionally moved. Revival services were considered great successes when great numbers would come.
I wonder how many who subscribe to this would look at Jesus’ evangelism techniques and say, “Wow, Jesus really missed it this time.” I am thinking of the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. Notice a number of things:
1. Jesus had a willing seeker. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matthew 20:16). If that’s not a willing seeker, I don’t know what is! He clearly had a concern about his spiritual status before God. Jesus had someone ready.
2. Jesus had an influential seeker. This was a rich ruler, meaning he was part of the Sanhedrin, a.k.a. the Jewish Supreme Court. For many in our day, to have such an influential inquirer would be considered a great blessing. To those with questionable motives, this man needs to get into a church and learn the importance of giving to the Lord’s work!
3. Having such a convert would help make some in-roads into the Scribes and Pharisees world. No doubt that this would cause a stir.
But notice what Jesus does:
1. While many would be ready to bring them into the Kingdom right away, Jesus puts up roadblocks! “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 20:17 ).
Two things to notice here. First, he puts the inquirer on his heels by questioning his notion of ‘goodness.’ Only God is good, and only God can save. In essence, Jesus is saying, “Are you approaching me because I am good or say good things? Are you attributing to me the trait of being able to give life? Are you saying I am the Son of God — because only God and His Son can do this?”
Secondly, he puts up the barrier of the commandments. “Keep the commandments,” Jesus tells him. If you want life, obey God to the fullest extent! Yet, the ruler questioned which commandments he should obey! Jesus lists off the Second Tablet commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
What are the significance of these? These are relational commandments — how one deals with another human being. The Scribes and Pharisees struggled with this. They loved obeying the minutiae of the law, but felt themselves morally superior to the common folk of the day. These were serious issues, given how they were God’s covenant priests who represented Him.
The rich young ruler felt himself capable of entering the Kingdom due to his adequate keeping of the commandments. In other words, he did not see himself as “falling short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He did not see himself as a sinner in need of a Savior. He saw himself as a good man in need of vindication of his good works.
3. Jesus dug deep to the true obstacle of his heart. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 20:21). Whereas many preachers and evangelists call for an easy-believism, Jesus rejected this notion and told the young man to come face-to-face with the core problem/sin that is the obstacle for eternal life. His possessions were his god — if he is not willing to give up his god, he cannot receive eternal life. If he wants the treasure of eternal life in heaven, yet will not give up the treasure here on earth, he cannot be a part of the Kingdom.
Many in our churches would never say that Jesus’ evangelism techniques were poor, but given how so few model him in showing how inquirers should count the cost of denying themselves and taking up their cross, we wonder why so few who say they are Christians really look very much like everyone else.
Right before dcTalk’s great song from 1995 called “What If I Stumble?”, a preacher (I believe it was Brennan Manning) spoke this: “The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who mouth Jesus with their lips but deny him by their lifestyle. That’s what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Maybe its because many Christians have not learned the lesson of denying self and taking up the cross of Christ daily.
May that not be said of us!
Lifenews.com’s Steven Ertelt reports of a new study showing a direct link between abortion and mental health problems, refuting an APA study released in August.
The research team found induced abortions result in increased risks for a myriad of mental health problems ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders.
The number of cases of mental health issues rose by as much as 17 percent in women having abortions compared to those who didn’t have one and the risks of each particular mental health problem rose as much as 145% for post-abortive women.
For 12 out of 15 of the mental health outcomes examined, a decision to have an abortion resulted in an elevated risk for women.
“Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables,” they wrote.
“Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders,” they concluded.
Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, led the research team that conducted the study.
The researchers found women who had abortions, compared with those who didn’t had a 120% risk for alcohol abuse, with or without dependence, a 145% increased risk of alcohol dependence, 79% increased risk of drug abuse with or without dependence and a 126% increase in the risk of drug dependence.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. To read more about this, click here.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.