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Monday, August 29, 2005

He is Here

I'm not an emotional guy.

Oh, sure, I'm "in touch" with my emotions, because they're, uh, mine. However, getting all bleary eyed is a rare thing for me - as with most men, I suspect.

I don't get very many revelations, either. Of course, I don't get any Revelations (of the St. John variety), but I also don't get many clear messages from the Lord.

Therefore, Sunday night was a very unusual night for me.

Our church had a big choir production last night. They do one every year at the end of the summer. I can't attest to how it usually is, but for this one I can say: I have never had such an awesome worship experience.

It was only into the second or third song. I had checked out the 80 person choir, looking at who was in it. The summer production has a number of people who, during the school year, usually do not have time to do choir, so it was neat to see some faces up there that usually are not. As I looked at the choir, I realized that none of them have it all together.

That sounds pretty arrogant as I write it, but that was exactly what came to me - none of them have it all together...but God still accepts their praise and worship. They all are struggling and fail in different parts of their life - as a parent, a husband or wife, as an employee, as a boss, as a church member, as a minister, in their evangelism, in their Bible study, in their prayer time, in their obedience. Not a single one can, or would, claim to have it all together - Just like me - and it doesn't matter.

For the choir director. A Davidic psalm, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba.
1 Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Wash away my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge. Indeed, I was guilty [when I] was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me. Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within. Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You. Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

Psalms 51:1-17 (HCSB)

However, as moving as that message was, He wasn't done with me yet. You see, there was a troupe of interpretive dancers that was going to be part of the celebration. I was not amused.

I pretty much was of the opinion that interpretive dance is, at best, kind of fruity, and at worst, sacriligeous. Come on, who thinks that nonsense is worship? Like I need some 'expressive dancer' to help my worship experience at all. My thoughts of interpretive dance reminded me of the UCC church I went to that was as soft on doctrine as I could possibly imagine. I also figured that, unlike members of an 80-member choir, most dancers were spotlight seeekers. Thus, I was rather chagrined that I would have to endure them.

Unfortunately, I do not have the words to describe what they did, aside from it was clearly Biblical stories that fit the songs. The dance was so powerful that I don't even remember the songs that went with them, with one exception. The part that featured acts of Jesus during his ministry had the words, "He is Here" and "God is Here" featured prominently in it. The dancer who played the part of Jesus or God in each set was a young black man, perhaps 16. There were 13 dancers in all, one of whom was a girl with a genetic growth inhibition condition (I don't know enough about them to say which one). To see her, who could easily rail against the world and God for here conditon, sing and act "God is here" was incredible. The Jesus dancer was magnificent in his portrayals.

The message was clear to me - my disdain for interpretive dance was foolish. I knew in the very depths of my soul, as the choir sang and the dancers moved, that He was there, indeed. My tears were nearly continuous.

The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the housetop at about noon. Then he became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something he went into a visionary state. He saw heaven opened and an object coming down that resembled a large sheet being lowered to the earth by its four corners. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!”
14 “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common and unclean!”
15 Again, a second time, a voice said to him, “What God has made clean, you must not call common.”

Acts 10:9-15 (HCSB)

Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Proud Legacy of the Homeless

Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
The Gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 8 Verse 20

You did not have a home
Words & Music by Rich Mullins

Oh, You did not have a home
There were places You visited frequently
You took off Your shoes and scratched Your feet
'Cause you knew that the whole world belongs to the meek
But You did not have a home
No, You did not have a home

And You did not take a wife
There were pretty maids all in a row
Who lined up to touch the hem of Your robe
But You had no place to take them, so
You did not take a wife
No, You did not take a wife

Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
No, You did not have a home

Well you had no stones to throw
You came without an ax to grind
You did not tow the party line
No wonder sight came to the blind
You had no stones to throw
You had no stones to throw

And You rode and ass' foal
They spread their coats and cut down palms
For You and Your donkey to walk upon
But the world won't find what it thinks it wants
On the back of an ass' foal
So I guess You had to get sold
'Cause the world can't stand what it can't own
And it can't own You
'Cause You did not have a home

Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
No, You did not have a -

Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
And the world can't stand what it can't own
And it can't own You
'Cause You did not have a home

Inspired (to be posted here, that is) by Teresa

Living Together? Not if you want it to last.

Does living together before marriage lead to successful marriages? The very fact that Psychology Today takes up this question in its August 2005 cover story is significant. In essence, the article "The Cohabitation Trap: When 'Just Living Together' Sabotages Love," provides a fascinating look into how secular social science evaluates the question. Written by Nancy Wartik, the article is advertised with the following blurb: "Living together before marriage seems like a smart way to road test the relationship. But cohabitation may lead you to wed for all the wrong reasons--or turn into a one-way trip to splitsville." Wartik's article deserves attention, and Christians should be interested to overhear this secular consideration of marriage and its meaning.

Wartik begins the article by describing her own situation--currently married to the man she lived with prior to matrimony. Looking back, she explains her situation: "By then, we were 99 percent sure we'd marry someday--just not without living together first. I couldn't imagine getting hitched to anyone I hadn't taken on a test-spin as a roommate. Conjoin with someone before sharing a bathroom? Not likely!"

The logic Wartik describes is shared by millions of Americans. According to her research, nearly five million opposite-sex couples in the United States currently live together without marriage, and millions more have done so at some time in the past. Within just a few years of deciding to live together, most couples either get married or dissolve the relationship.

An amazingly large number of Americans see cohabitation as something of a laboratory for future marriage. Individuals agree to cohabitate, enjoying personal and sexual intimacy, without making the final commitment of marriage. The period of cohabitation amounts to a test-run for marriage. The logic is simple--couples believe that living together will allow them to make an informed and reasonable decision about marriage.

Nevertheless, the research is now clear. Cohabitation prior to marriage serves to undermine, rather than to strengthen the marital bond. Here's how Wartik summarizes the research: "Couples who move in together before marriage have up to two times the odds of divorce, as compared with couples who marry before living together. Moreover, married couples who have lived together before exchanging vows tend to have poorer-quality marriages than couples who moved in after the wedding. Those who cohabited first report less satisfaction, more arguing, poorer communication and lower levels of commitment."

Social scientists are alarmed at these findings. Some now believe that cohabitation before marriage undermines the very notion of commitment. As Wartik explains, "The precautions we take to ensure marriage is right for us may wind up working against us."

There seem to be two major theories offered as explanations for this phenomenon. Wartik describes the "reigning explanation" as "the inertia hypothesis." This theory suggests "that many of us slide into marriage without ever making an explicit decision to commit. We move in together, we get comfortable, and pretty soon marriage starts to seem like the path of least resistance. Even if the relationship is only tolerable, the next stage seems to be inevitable."

The inertia theory suggests that marriage just "happens" to couples who have been cohabitating for some time. Paul Amato, a professor at Penn State University, suggests, "There's an inevitable pressure that creates momentum towards marriage . . . . I've talked to many cohabiting couples and they'll say, 'My mother was so unhappy until I told her we were getting married--and then she was so relieved.'" Amato also suggests that issues like shared financial arrangements and shared offspring also build the momentum towards marriage.

The inertia theory may offer considerable insight into the way cohabiting men understand marriage. Some researchers suggest that cohabitating men demonstrate a high level of uncertainty about the relationship and bring that same uncertainty into marriage. Wartik cites a 2004 study by psychologist Scott Stanley that found "that men who had lived with their spouse premaritally were on average less committed to their marriages than those who hadn't."

The other major theory suggests that the experience of cohabitation itself weakens the marital bond. As Amato explains, "A couple of studies show that when couples cohabit, they tend to adopt less conventional beliefs about marriage and divorce, and it tends to make them less religious." As Wartik expands the idea: "That could translate, once married, to a greater willingness to consider options that are traditionally frowned upon--like saying 'so long' to an ailing marriage."

Making an observation that would seem obvious to many readers, Wartik suggests that cohabitating couples "may just be less traditional people--less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage in observance of religious beliefs or for the sake of appearances." Interestingly, William Pinsof, president of the Family Institute at Northwestern University argues, "Those who choose to live together before getting married have a different attitude about marriage to begin with. I think cohabiting is a reflection of that, not a cause of higher divorce rates."

Wartik describes the debate over cohabitation as "partly a rehash of the values and morals conflicts that tend to become political footballs in America today." Nevertheless, she insists that all parties must agree that cohabitation is often injurious to children. "Cohabitating relationships, by their nature, appear to be less fulfilling than marital relationships," she argues. People who cohabit say they are less satisfied and more likely to feel depressed, the result, perhaps, of "the inherent lack of stability" in cohabitating relationships. Wartik then asserts, "As a result, cohabitation is not an ideal living arrangement for children. Emotionally or academically, the children of cohabiters just don't do as well, on average, as those with two married parents, and money doesn't fully explain the difference."

Nancy Wartik concludes her article by suggesting ways that cohabitation can be made less injurious to marriage. Specifically, she suggests that couples should not cohabitate until they have settled the marriage question, preferably by a formal engagement prior to living together.

What should Christians think of this research? In the first place, the social evidence as indicated in this research demonstrates what happens when sex and intimacy are decoupled from marriage. In a profound way, this research affirms the integrity of marriage as an institution and should serve to remind Christians that sexual intimacy prior to marriage can only serve to undermine the integrity of the institution and the vows that hold it together. When access to sex is liberated from the responsibilities and commitments of marriage, marriage is inevitably redefined as an option.

The very fact that couples who cohabit before marriage have less satisfactory marriages than those who did not points to the basic goodness of marriage and to the importance of marriage as an institution central to human health, happiness, and wholeness.

Wartik gets to the heart of the issue when she suggests that many persons "have different standards for living partners than for life partners." In essence, that's the problem. The biblical understanding of marriage begins with the presupposition that life partners and living partners should be one and the same. To suggest otherwise is to miss the entire point of marriage. When Amato explains, "People are much fussier about whom they marry than whom they cohabitate with," this point is made in vivid terms.

Christians do not base our understanding of marriage and cohabitation on sociological research. Our Creator has defined marriage for us and commanded respect for marriage as a central human responsibility. We know that cohabitation is injurious to marriage precisely because it violates God's command that sex and marriage are never to be separated. Nevertheless, an article like this serves to remind us that human experience does prove the truthfulness of God's Word. When the world of social science comes face to face with the reality that cohabitation undermines marriage, the church should take notice.

blatantly stolen from Dr. Al Mohler's Website

Look - I'm not saying it can't work, just that it ain't what it is cracked up to be. I have one of my best friends who has been cohabitating for 8 years. They aren't considering marriage or children, so it works well for them. However, if you think it is a 'test run' for a successful marriage, then you are sadly mistaken.

What might work? Try this.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Come as You Are

But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? 31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 5:30-32 (KJV)

It was said this man was of no reputation
Yet He could stop the rising storm
With a gesture of His hand
But He chose to use His hands to heal
Hearts of darkness, hearts of stone
Just like mine would be revealed

He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When He spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled
But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection
And He loved all those poor in spirit just as they were
He was a man of no reputation

It was said this man brought only confusion
That He'd achieve his ends by any means
And the truth that it brings revolution
And for once they were right
The truth set us free
The hearts of the captive were his only concern
And the powerful knew their days were ending

He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When He spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled
But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection
And He loved all those poor in spirit just as they were
He was a man of no reputation

One day soon the gates of heaven will open wide
And the Prince of Peace will come back for His bride...
But for now we live on these streets
Forbidding and tough
Where push always comes to shove
And it's said love's never enough
Where a prophet in rags gives hope to a fearful world
No injustice, no heart of darkness
Will keep this voice from being heard

He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When He spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled
But this man of no reputation
Loves us all with relentless affection
And He loves all those poor in spirit, come as you are
To the man of no reputation

Nothing is Beyond You

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Psalms 139:7-14 (KJV)

Words & Music by Rich Mullins

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky
If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me

'Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way
You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

If I should shrink back from the light
So I can sink into the dark
If I take cover and I close my eyes
Even then You would see my heart
And You'd cut through all my pain and rage
The darkness is not dark to You
And night's as bright as day

Nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

And time cannot contain You
You fill eternity Sin can never stain You
And death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You.

Who's That Man?

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
Luke 4:18-22 (KJV)

Surely God is With Us
Words & Music by Rich Mullins

Well, who's that man who thinks He's a prophet?
Well, I wonder if He's got something up His sleeve
Where's He from?
Who is His daddy?
There's rumors He even thinks Himself a king -
Of a kingdom of paupers
Simpletons and rogues
The whores all seem to love Him
And the drunks propose a toast
And they say, "Surely God is with us.
Well, surely God is with us."
They say, "Surely God is with us today!"

Who's that man who says He's a preacher?
Well, He must be, He's disturbing all our peace
Where's He get off, and what is He hiding
And every word He says those fools believe
Who could move a mountain?
Who would love their enemy?
Who could rejoice in pain?
And turn the other cheek?
And still say, "Surely God is with us, Well, surely God is with us,"
Who'll say, "Surely God is with us today, today!"

They say, "Surely God is with us Well, surely God is with us"
They say, "Surely God is with us" -
"Blessed are the poor in spirit
Heaven belongs to them
Blessed are those who make peace
They are God's children
I Am the Bread of Life, I am the Way"
You hear that Man, believe what He says!

Tell me, who's that Man, they made Him a prisoner
They tortured Him and nailed Him to a tree
Why is He so bad - who did He threaten?
Did He deserve to die between two thieves?
See the scars and touch His wounds
He's risen flesh and bone
Now the sinners have become the saints
And the lost have all come home
And they say, "Surely God is with us (Surely God is with us)
Well, surely God is with us,"
They say, "Surely God is with us today!"

Come to Jesus

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matt 11:28 (KJV)

Untitled Hymn
Words & Music by Chris Rice

Weak and wounded sinner,
Lost and left to die,
O, raise your head for Love is passing by,

Come to Jesus,
Come to Jesus,
Come to Jesus and live,

Now your burden's lifted,
And carried far away,
And precious blood has washed away the stain... so

Sing to Jesus ,
Sing to Jesus ,
Sing to Jesus and live,

And like a newborn baby,
Don't be afraid to crawl,
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall... so

Fall on Jesus,
Fall on Jesus,
Fall on Jesus and live,

Sometimes the way is lonely,
And still can fill with pain,
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain... then

Cry to Jesus,
Cry to Jesus,
Cry to Jesus and live,

O, and when the love spills over,
And music fills the night,
And when you can't contain your joy inside... then

Dance for Jesus,
Dance for Jesus,
Dance for Jesus and live,

And with your final heartbeat,
Kiss the world goodbye,
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side... and

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live,

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live.

Leave Your Nets...

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matt 16:24-26 (KJV)

Becky has a house on Abundant Life Boulevard
A good name, a good family, and butterflies in her yard
Becky loves Jesus and really wants to make Him proud
She tears up in church and she sings her harmonies loud
She's got a Bible by the bed, a prayer journal, and a fish on her car
She makes sure to bow her head and give thanks in every restaurant
But is that enough?

C'mon Becky, let's go for a ride
If I'm driving too fast then I apologize
But there's a world out there that we left behind
Full of souls as important as yours and mine
Looks like a reckless road, and a sacrifice
And I'm crazy scared it may cost our lives
But then I remember Jesus died -
So c'mon Becky
Let's go for a ride

I'm rolling up to Becky's house on my Sunday drive
I have to laugh to myself 'cause it looks exactly like mine
I smile and wave at all the happy people strolling by
We've got the same walk, same talk, and the same sparkle in our eyes
'Cause we're thankful for the blessings, but maybe we could lay 'em aside
I get a feeling we might be missin' the time of our lives
So hop in and hold on tight

C'mon Becky, let's go for a ride
If I'm driving too fast then I apologize
But there's a world out there that we left behind
Full of souls as important as yours and mine
Looks like a reckless road, and a sacrifice
And I'm crazy scared it may cost our lives
But then I remember Jesus died -
So c'mon Becky
Let's go for a ride

'Cause we're thankful for the blessings, but maybe we could lay 'em aside?
I get a feeling we might be heading for the time of our lives

Words and Music by Chris Rice (who isn't Rich Mullins, but second ain't bad)

Apologetics 090

When a college student has to take a course that is 'remedial', or a course that a college student should not have to take (i.e. basic math or english), it is usually put at a number below 100. So, while a typical student might start college with a Math 101, those with math skills below the standard may have to take Math 093 or Math 097 first.

I clearly needed an Apologetic 090 class. When some one would swing by and say something like, "The Genesis creation account was taken from the Enuma Elish of the Babylonians", I typically just ignored it. After all, I try to keep to the simple pretext that I can talk about anything I want, but if I don't know what I'm talking about, I should say nothing.

What I should have said was, "Have you read the Enuma Elish? How is it similar to the creation account?" Now that I have seen it, it is entirely dissimilar. We're talking not in the same sport, much less the ballpark.

So, if you can learn from my experience, when confronted with that sort of argument, just ask - "Have you read that? Tell me about it."

They haven't read it. They don't come up with that on their own - they just swing by and regurgitate whatever they find.

However, when you are discussing religion and politics, it is very difficult to get liberals or atheists to actually talk about one point and focus on the facts and logic around it. They cannot resist using 12 incarnations of "Bush Lied!" or "Christianity is bad!" Perhaps your luck will be better than mine.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Rebekah has inspired me to do a series of post with some of my favorite lyrics. Today's has been used before, when Jim died.

Hard to Get
Words and Music by Rich Mullins

You who live in heaven hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth:
Who are afraid of being left by those we love, and who get hardened in the hurt.
Do you remember when you lived down here, where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread?
Did you forget about us, after you had flown away?
Well I memorized every word you said.
Still I'm so scared I'm holding my breath,
while you're up there just playing hard to get.

You who live in radiance hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was, still we do love now and then
Did You ever know loneliness?
Did You ever know need?
Do You remember just how long a night can get -
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat?
Will those who mourn be left uncomforted...
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows, and I know you feel our pain,
And I know it would not hurt any less even if it could be explained
And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow All I really need to know -

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret I can't see how
You're leading me...
unless you've led me here:
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led.
And so You've been here all along I guess.
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Theology Tuesday: The Call and the Answer

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
-The Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 2, Verse 14

The call goes forth, and we receive it. What do we do? Clearly, the call from Jesus to us is to be answered in the same fashion as the apostles. What were their answers when Jesus called?

"And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
Mark 1:18 (KJV)"
Peter and Andrew

"And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Matt 4:22 (KJV)"
James and John

"Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
John 1:45 (KJV)

And of course, Matthew (Levi) in the first verse.

Were any of them responding with a prayer? A confession of faith? No. The response was immediate obedience to Christ's call.

Contrast these men with those in the ninth chapter of Luke:

57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:57-62 (KJV)

These men heard the call. Some even proclaimed faith. However, none obeyed, so none had faith.

There is no faith without obedience. There is no salvation without boldly proclaiming the Lord. There is no other way to a relationship with God except through a life-changing, noticable change of direction from against God to with him - a change that only happens through Christ.

Teresa is doing a series on grace. This is certain - grace absent obedience is cheap grace, so cheap that it is worth nothing. I don't expect her to broach obedience, so I thought it might be a good subject for us.


I was reading a post about the importance of the Hellenists over at On Earth As It Is In Heaven, and it brought to mind this:

I went to the orientation for my seminary on Friday, and was actually a bit disconcerted by the concentration of white, short haired males. Mind you, I am a white, short-haired male.

I noticed a fellow with long, raggedy hair, glasses and facial hair. He was very reminicent of hippies as well as pictures we see of Jesus. I though he might be a neat guy to get to know. As we were all walking to the 'food place' after the short worship service and briefing about the administration of the school, I heard him say "I couldn't wait to get out of there. Traditional services are creepy."

I felt pretty indignant. I thought, "Why the heck are you in seminary? If you can't deal with a worship style that's different than your own, you have a lot of growing to do." I chose not to sit with him at the food place, choosing instead to sit with the only black couple I could find.

Reading Steve's post, I realize that "hippie" WAS dealing with it. I would have felt pretty uncomfortable in a charismatic service, but if the Lord had called me to that seminary, I would tough it out and grow through it. Perhaps this man is doing the same. It is my task to reach out to him and others on the fringe of my denomination. Seminary will offer many chances to grow, indeed.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Why Not?

This is a post seeking an answer from those interested in such a discussion. The question is, Why not Jesus? I would like anyone and everyone who would like to post one, just one reason for why they are not a follower of Jesus Christ in the comments. I also ask that no one else attempt to rebut the reasons put forth, as I will instead make each reason a post of its own.

Some may have one, two, or thirty reasons, but what I am looking for is the one that is the, well, biggest, I suppose. The one you think keeps you from following Him the most.

I don't have a lot of readers who will be so bold, maybe three at most, but maybe someone else will stop in and have a go at it as well.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Biblical Inerrancy: New Testament Reliability III


The fact is that I am terminating this thread - for a couple of reasons.

First, I was underwhelmed by the external evidence - not by its volume, or its authenticity, or by its support, but by the "so what factor".

If someone makes it through the Uniqueness, construction and internal evidence and still refuses to acknowledge the reliability of the NT, the problem is not intellectual. It is willful disregard for the very same fact-based process used for any text.

You see, although LiberPaul stated that he used "my intellect and observations" the fact is that Christianity is a thinking, logical faith. It isn't blind, and doesn't require you to check your brain at the church door. The evidence is brutally compelling, and it is dismissal of it that requires abandonment of logic.

External evidence only makes a headline when it is contrary to the NT - and then disappears when that evidence is wrong. For example, "scholars" claimed that Moses could not have authored the Pentateuch because writing did not exist...then archaeologists discovered that there was writing before Moses. "Historians" claimed that the Hittites never existed...until archaeologists discovered indisputable evidence of the Hittites and their culture.

You see, once you have denied the uniqueness, superior construction and internal evidence of the NT, you don't care that hundreds of early writings confirm its accounts, or that the only argument against the historical reliability of the NT is the argument from silence - "well, it doesn't say that anywhere else, does it?" All you care about is that you don't believe.

Scholars, such as Pelty, have examined the NT in great detail in hermeneutics and exegesis, and have found things such as potential common sources between the gospels and difficult timelines to follow. It's neat stuff, and I am looking forward to my seminary classes that start next week - Intro to the NT, Elementary Greek, and Intro to Church History. What they have not found is proof that any of the NT is false.

If it isn't false, isn't it inerrant? I speak of the text, not the interpretation.

Feel free to comment on the ideas presented, and if you disagree, say why.

However, I ask one favor - do you have a reason beyond, "I think", "I can't imagine" or "I have trouble with"? In essence, do you have a reason beyond your own feelings about the subject you don't want to believe is true about God, man, sin, Jesus or faith?

Note: I recognize that I did not address the OT. The primary arguments for internal evidence are the same, plus the amazing level of detail used in Jewish manuscript copying before the printing press. Not one jot nor one tittle has disapeared, indeed.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Blair on Terrorism

I copied some responses from PM Blair to the questions of moron reporters. Enjoy!

Prime Minister, I wonder if you could clarify something that you said at your news conference earlier in relation to Iraq.

Prime Minister:

Oh please not.

You said that it was being used to recruit more people, more terrorists, and act as a motivator for them. Now I understand the argument of cause and effect and saying that Iraq didn't cause as you put it the London bombings, but is the effect that we are going to have more terrorists now, that we have got a recruiting sergeant out there?

Prime Minister:

You know you can go through all these arguments, and I went through them at the press conference. I think the real point is that people will use, they will use whatever issue is there, because you go back to September 11 and that was before Iraq and Afghanistan and they were using something else then, and if you got rid of all these issues they would use something else, and if you look at what they use in respect of Saudi Arabia, or Turkey, or Egypt or any of these other countries where terrorist acts happen, they will always use something different. I think most people understand that the roots of it go deeper and that is really what I was trying to say at the press conference earlier, and I think, and as I said this morning, and I probably said it more than enough, people can debate this issue forever, but I think most people recognise there is absolutely no excuse for what has been done.

(what he is referencing from earlier)

A question to both Prime Ministers. I wondered if in light of ... changes in position by the Foreign Secretary, and also whether you would agree with some sections of the British public that Iraq, and events after the war in Iraq, after the invasion of Iraq, have played a part in leading to a rise in terrorism or not?

Prime Minister:
Look Angus, as I have tried to say when people have asked me about this, there is absolutely no doubt that these terrorists will use Iraq as a reason, and before Iraq Afghanistan, and before Iraq and Afghanistan, around September 11, they used different justifications. But I think most people understand the roots of this are deeper, and we have also got to be careful of getting ourselves in the frame of mind where we see what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan now, which is basically the same terrorist ideology, killing innocent people, of having any sort of justification at all. And so I don't doubt that they will use these issues wherever it suits them to use them, but nothing can excuse or justify what they have done, and if you look at the roots of this they are far, far deeper. And there is something else which I find myself having to say at this point, if the concern was genuinely for people in Iraq or people in Afghanistan, or indeed people in Palestine, they would be helping these countries become proper democracies, instead of which the same terrorist ideology is killing people there in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Turkey, in Egypt, in any country they decide to make a target. And that is why I think at this moment what is important is that we stand absolutely firm against this ideology and say we are not going to yield one inch to it, but we are going to stand in solidarity with our own people and with others in defeating it.

Jesus and the Porn Star

No, it's not a ploy to get traffic.

Just read it.

Let me know if you do. It may be worth more than all I've written in the last nine months.

Purpose-Driven, Seeker-Sensitive

I remember some time back when I read on someone else’s blog how a survey was taken about what people wanted in their church. The summary was something to the effect of, “No one said, PowerPoint, big bands, seeker-sensitive or purpose driven. Instead, they said…(insert good stuff we want in our churches here).”

At the time I thought, “Sure.” After all, we all want those good things. I didn’t know much about “purpose-driven”, and thought that “seeker-sensitive” meant “watering down the sermons”. You know what? The people in those surveys aren’t in decision-making positions in growing churches.

Why do I say that? Because they talk about results, not methods. You see, PowerPoint isn’t a goal in a church – it is a method or a tool. Of course the average churchgoer wouldn’t request PowerPoint! They want “uplifting music”, and don’t understand that when PowerPoint and a band is used, that more people enjoy the music. Thus, they don’t mention the tools.

I am ¾ of the way through “The Purpose-Driven Church”. My current church calls itself “purpose-driven and seeker-sensitive”, so I figured I’d better find out what they mean. What are they?

They are loaded terms. Liberal. Conservative. Socialist. Radical. Purpose-Driven. Seeker-Sensitive. Terms that mean different things to different people, and often not what they were supposed to originally mean.

Purpose-driven simply means oriented on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Seeker-Sensitive just means to make your church welcoming to those unfamiliar with church. My primary reasons for opposing seeker-sensitive services (or what I thought they were) was that 1) the Word is watered down and 2) the church is for believers, not unbelievers.

Well, I have been doing other reading too, one of which is a discipleship and outreach strategy called REACH. What REACH made clear was that while we are all called to evangelize, most churches will only have about 10% of their members who actually attempt to lead someone to Christ through personal evangelism. That really shocked me. We can’t win the world on 10%! Even Coral Ridge Presbyterian, the home of the effective “Evangelism Explosion”, has about the same level of participation in its evangelism ministries. What does this mean?

It means we have to get non-believers into church. We have to use our other 90% to that effort, which is much more attainable than getting them to personally witness Christ to others. Also, once we get them to church, we have to make the church a place they want to come back to. Purpose-Driven, Seeker-Sensitive. Do your sermons have to be watered down? No. They should just be understandable, avoid Christian jargon, and be applicable to life whenever possible. It isn’t achieved by just tossing the pulpit, abandoning the robes and getting rid of the candles. Those things may or may not have an effect. What it requires is utilizing tools to reach the lost, however we can, without compromising the message. You have other methods of edifying the church besides the Sunday morning sermon (like Sunday and Wednesday nights, for example, as well as separate small groups). We must reach the lost.

David over at Contrarian Views made a point some time ago that we needed to do something different than rely upon personal evangelism to reach the lost. I disagreed with him, insisting that it (evangelism) is everyone’s job. I was coming form the ideal, he from the real…because although 100% are called to evangelize, only 10% will. Thus, a different way is necessary indeed. I think that Rick Warren has the way identified. David was right – we can’t continue to rely upon methods that are not working for success. To reach the world, we must do the things that will help us reach the world.

The book is worth a read. Making a judgment upon it before you read it, like I did, is just silly.