"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
Category Archives: Spiritual Growth
Are Christians, particularly Christians in America, sociopathic?
Christian… Sociopath… These are two words that on the surface seem completely incompatible. Acts 11:26 tells us that the term “Christian” was first used of disciples in the Antioch church. This was initially used as an insult in that people were saying they were “little Christs”. In other words, they were just like Jesus, who because of His great love for people, voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the world. On the other hand – the dictionary defines sociopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” Another says that “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”
How can someone who is living a life that is reminiscent of a man whose critics admit was at least a good person and moral teacher exhibit behavior or attitudes that are patently selfish and apathetic to others? However, in spite of the apparent contradiction, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer is closer to “yes” than any of us who call ourselves a Christian would like to admit… And it tears me up inside… Let me allow this clip from Atheist Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette to begin to explain what I mean:
“How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” There is the rub… Way too many “Christians” fall in a daily routine and are comfortable to coast through life without a broken heart for their friends and family who, if what we believe is really true, are destined for an eternity without God… Well… to be honest that is the essence of selfishly living life “without concern for the effects of their behavior [or lack thereof] on others”, isn’t it???
We certainly shouldn’t be comfortable with it… But sadly I think that may just be the problem… our comfort. Because we are relatively comfortable, especially in comparison to most of the rest of the world, we just get into auto pilot and unintentionally slip into apathy. It’s not a conscious thing, but it occurs anyway… and it’s tragic.
Penn said “There comes a point where I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” Because people’s eternities are so important, our “social conscience” should remind us that we have a “moral responsibility” to love those around us enough to take the risk of offending them or losing a friendship to in a sense “tackle” them by sharing the truth about Jesus…
Let’s pray to God for forgiveness for our sociopathic tendencies and begin to live a life that actually reflects our name-sake, Jesus… and refuse to scoot through life uncaring and unaffected by the many people we know who do not yet have a relationship with Him.
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I have taken 3 oaths in my life. The first was an oath to protect my nation from enemies at home and abroad. The second was an oath to honor and cherish my wife in sickness and in health till death do us part. Know, have a taken an oath to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
Everyone should be familiar with the first two oaths that I identified (military and marriage), but many of you may not recognize the last one. The last one is from the movie Courageous. It is the Resolution for Men. Below is the resolution for men:
I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
– I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
– I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
– I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
– I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
– I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
– I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
– I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
– I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
– I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
– I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
– I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15
This morning, I was trying to think of a way to incorporate a post on my new oath, and everything that is involved, etc… As I was sitting and pondering the next great post, I stumbled across “the Drudge Report” and happen to notice a story that was talking about the President Pledge .
The Presidents Pledge is something similar to the Resolution for Men. The objective of the President’s Fatherhood pledge is to address the very legitimate concern of fatherlessness in America. Here is the Presidents Pledge:
I pledge to renew my commitment to family and community. I recognize the positive impact that fathers, mothers , mentors and other responsible adults can have on our children and youth, and pledge to do all I can to provide children in my home and throughout my community the encouragement and support they need to fulfill their potential.
Both are after the same objective. We have families that need fathers, and wives that need husbands. However, there is a distinct difference between these two. To point out the obvious, one is based on the Bible, and the other is not. There are other items here that scream for attention. Notice how the Resolution for Men has very specific action items on how be a good father/husband, the other offers platitudes and just a renewal of the commitment. The Resolution for Men offers a real life change that can make an impact not only on the children and wife, but also on the father as well. The pledge offers only encouragement rather than leadership.
As I sat and compared these two I began to slowly realize that this could be a reason that so many have adbicated their role as fathers. After all, if the best the President can do is to ask for people to recoginize and offer encouragement and support then the secular worlds expecations of fathers are fairly low. Remember…his father was not around. I would have thought that the President would have taken a firmer stand on this. Sadly that is not the case. What we need is…well…
Read the below exert from the movie Courageous. This is what needs to happen in America.
“As a law-enforcement officer, I’ve seen firsthand the deep hurt and devastation that fatherlessness brings in a child’s life. Our prisons are full of men and women who lived recklessly after being abandoned by their fathers, wounded by the men who should have loved them the most. Many now follow the same pattern of irresponsibility that their fathers did.
While so many mothers have sacrificed to help their children survive, they were never intended to carry the weight alone. We thank God for them.
But research is proving that a child also desperately needs a daddy. There’s no way around this fact. As you know, earlier this year, my family endured the tragic loss of our -year-old daughter, Emily. Her death forced me to realize that not only had I not taken advantage of the priceless time I had with her, but that I did not truly understand how crucial my role was as a father to her and our son, Dylan. Since her passing, I’ve asked God to show me, through his word how to be the father that I need to be.
I now believe that God desires for every father to courageously step up and do whatever it takes to be involved in the lives of his children. But more than just being there or providing for them, he’s to walk with them through their lives and be a visual representation of the character of God, their father in heaven.
A father should love his children and seek to win their hearts. He should protect them, discipline them and teach them about God.
He should model how to walk with integrity and treat others with respect and should call out his children to become responsible men and women who live their lives for what matters in eternity.
Some men will hear this and mock it or ignore it.
But I tell you that as a father, you are accountable to God for the position of influence he has given you.
You can’t fall asleep at the wheel only to wake up one day and realize that your job or your hobbies have no eternal value but the souls of your children do.
Some men will hear this and agree with it but have no resolve to live it out.
lnstead, they will live for themselves and waste the opportunity to leave a godly legacy for the next generation.
But there are some men who, regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, regardless of what our fathers did not do for us, will give the strength of our arms and the rest of our days to loving God with all that we are and to teach our children to do the same, and, whenever possible, to love and mentor others who have no father in their lives but who desperately need help and direction.
We are inviting any man whose heart is willing and courageous to join us in this resolution.
In my home, the decision has already been made.
You don’t have to ask who will guide my family, because by God’s grace, I will.
You don’t have to ask who will teach my son to follow Christ, because l will.
Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? I will.
Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family’s history? I will.
Who will pray for and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do?
I am their father. l will.
I accept this responsibility, and it is my privilege to embrace it.
I want the favor of God and his blessing on my home. Any good man does.
So where are you, men of courage?
Where are you, fathers who fear the Lord?
It’s time to rise up and answer the call that God has given to you and to say, “I will. I will. I will.”
This is the oath I took on Sunday. Perhaps if we could get more men to follow this…fatherlessness would not be as large of an issue…
Do we have any men of courage out there?
I am taking a class on Biblical Marriage Counseling. My assignment for this week, create a top ten list for becoming Biblically based Moms and Dads. This list is not the end all be all. It is important to raise your family in the ways of the Lord. If you are in need of counseling be sure to get in touch with your pastor.
- Model a loving relationship for your children. Husbands love and protect your wives and children. Wives submit to your husbands. (Ephesians 5:21-33)
- Have the right attitude when doing things at home. Be honest, speak well and show integrity when accomplishing tasks (Titus 2:5)
- Be a mother to your children. Don’t be seduced by what your professional career can offer. (1 Timothy 2:15; 5:14).
- Testify of what the Lord has done for you. (Joshua 4:6-7)
- Teach your children about God and the sacrifice of Christ and they will always remember it. (Proverbs 22:6)
- Fathers, provide discipline to your children. (Proverbs 13:24)
- Do not provoke your children to anger. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
- Do not exasperate your children (Ephesians 6:4)
- Cultivate a Christian character with your children that is self-controlled and pure (1 timothy 5:22, Titus 2:5, 2 Corinthians 11:2)
- Be a mentor to younger women (Titus 2:3-5)
As some of you have noticed I have been noticeably absent from making posts since spring. I wanted to assure you that I haven’t melted away, nor have I been dragged away by the mighty MO river. I have been working on
a top secret project. Until now only a few people have known what I have been working on, and now it is time to let the cat out of the bag. I have developed
the first ALL apologetics Android application. It is now available in the Android Marketplace under “Pocket Apologetics”.
Pocket Apologetics is an on the go apologetics guide. Designed to help you answer the tough questions in the midst of conversation, Pocket Apologetics offers researched answers with biblical and online references. Basically, it is everything that you have come to expect from No Apologizing in your pocket. The app is
complete to various links on the web, and to our blog.
As I mentioned, this is the first app that I have seen in Android that is completely dedicated to apologetics. This was my summer project in lieu of summer seminary courses. I am hoping to see this app grow in content as you provide me with feedback, and additional questions that you struggle with.
Please go out there and download this app.
Let me know what you think.
On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach in the senior pastor’s absence (to hear the sermon CLICK HERE). The topic God laid on my heart to speak on was His Word. I didn’t produce a manuscript of this sermon, and I’m going to mostly give you the basic bullet points with some explanatory material, but I encourage you to study this out for yourself and see what God reveals to you about the importance of His Word.
As Christians, we need to come to grips with the fact that the Word of God is Amazingly Wonderful and a Priceless Gift. It is worthy of our time, study, reverence and effort to defend it. Many people would like to dismiss the Bible as culturally irrelevant or antiquated… they’d like you to believe that there are errors or unresolvable difficulties or perceived contradictions. But our view of Scripture is a pretty good indication of our spiritual health… You see there are a few truths about God’s Word that we need to let sink in… Understanding and believing these truths is fairly essential to the Christian life.
- Scripture is The Word of God and because Jesus is called the Word in John 1 it can be thought of as synonymous with God. In other Words, you cannot separate God from His Word or His Word from God… It is the primary method He has chosen to reveal His character to us (as well as all the truth we know about Him). – John 1
- It is Beneficial and Useful to us to show us how to live life correctly. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- The Word of God is Trustworthy and Permanent – Psalm 119:89, 160
- The Word of God brings Blessing, Joy, Peace and Fellowship with God – Psalm 119:1-8, 165
You see, God’s word is SO wonderful it cannot be summed up by calling it just a good book nor can we describe it with just one analogy. In fact the Bible uses at least 14 different metaphors to describe Itself and each one of these tells us a little more about its benefits and uses in our lives. Let’s briefly look at each of these… As you do, ask God to open your heart and mind to just how awesome His Word is and to reveal to you how you might better let it revolutionize your life!
The Word of God is Like:
- A Lamp and a Light – It leads us to Christ (Rom. 10:17; 2 Tim 3:15); It reveals God’s will (Romans 12:2); It directs us in the way we should go (Psalm 119:105).
- Bedrock – It is solid ground upon which to build our lives (Psalm 19:9, 119:98-102; Luke 6:46-48)
- Water – It refreshes us (Psalm 19:7); It cleanses us (Eph 5:25-27); It helps us grow (Psalm 1:1-3)
- A Warning – It reveals the consequences of sin and benefits of obedience (Psalm 19:11)
- A Fire – It refines us by burning away unnecessary impurities (Psalm 119:9-11, 36-37; Jeremiah 23:29; 1 Peter 1:22)
- A Hammer – It breaks the hardness of our hearts and shapes our lives (Psalm 119:75; Jeremiah 23:29)… I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that the metaphors of fire and a hammer are used in the same verse. Think of a Blacksmith here and how he would heat up metal and then beat it into shape so that it will be more useful and valuable… God often uses affliction to do that to us, but in the end we are much shinier and more useful, are we not?
- A Sword – It convicts us and frees us of sin (Psalm 19:13, 119:45, 133; Hebrews 4:12); It is mighty in spiritual warfare and defending the faith (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:17).
- A Mirror – It reveals the things in our lives that are incompatible with God’s Holiness (Psalm 19:12, 119:59; James 1:22-25)… Nobody looks in an actual mirror and sees that they are a terrible mess (hair, clothes, teeth, make-up, etc.) and then just goes on as if everything is fine! Instead they fix what’s messed up before going to out or to work or school.
- A Shield – It is a refuge in times of trouble that protects our lives and integrity… About 25% of the verses in Psalm 119 have to do w/ affliction and/or persecution. In fact, throughout the Bible we are told that following God will result in persecution and other troubles (cf. Rev. 1:9, 6:9, 20:4)… But where we turn for help and refuge in times of trouble reveals a lot about our character… Psalm 119:114 tells us that God (and His Word) should be our refuge and shield; and we should put our hope in His Word. (see also Psalm 119:39, 67, 71)
- A Companion/Counselor – It gives comfort in times of need and provides wisdom, training and understanding, training (Psalm 19:7, 119:24, 92, 156; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- A Song – It permeates our hearts and minds with Joy (Psalm 119:54)… Have you ever had a great song stuck in your head and it just made your day??? This is the idea here – Get God’s Word stuck in your head!
- Honey – It is so sweet we begin to crave it and it makes sin repugnant and bitter by comparison (Psalm 19:10, 119:103-104)
- A Heritage – It is a valuable sign of son-ship and it is worthy to be passed on (Psalm 119:111; 2 Timothy 3:14-17)
- A Treasure/Gold – People chase after money and what it provides with extreme intensity… In comparing His Word favorably against money, treasure, plunder and Gold, God is saying it is to be pursued and valued over everything else (Psalm 19:10, 119:72, 127, 162)
Psalm 119 is the central and longest chapter in the Bible… and it is appropriate that it is dedicated to God’s word… Perhaps this is a little symbolic of the fact that it should take a central role in our lives as well… Indeed, the Psalmist loved God’s Word so much that he took the painstaking effort to write a poem dedicated to God’s Word where he took all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and wrote eight line sections for each where each line started with that section’s letter… Okay, so, how do we know we really treasure God’s Word like the Psalmist did? By getting a tight 5-Finger grasp on it:
- Finger 1: Hear It – Psalm 122:1; Romans 10:17; James 1:22
- Finger 2: Reading and Studying It – Psalm 119:82; Acts 17:11
- Finger 3: Memorizing and Meditating upon It – Psalm 119:11, 15, 97-99, 148
- Finger 4: Obeying, Sharing and Defending It – Psalm 19:11-14, 119:13, 139; Romans 10:14-15; James 1:22; 1 Peter 3:15
- Thumb: Desiring it and Delighting in It – Psalm 19:8, 119… As we put fingers 1-4 into practice then the thumb should naturally follow.
So, you don’t have a 5-finger grasp on God’s Word? Maybe you don’t desire and delight in it as much as you’d like… Well, Psalm 119 may be informative on this as well. See, this is amazing poem is not just a pneumonic device for learning stuff about God’s Word – it is a prayer for a deeper love and appreciation of Scripture, and it’s a prayer we could all stand to pray on a more regular basis.
In our 2011 Challenge we encouraged our readers to try their hand at reading and digesting a Christian book. I recently read and reviewed C. S Lewis’ Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1952, 1980. Pp. 227) for a class I took at Luther Rice Seminary and thought I’d share my thoughts with you here:
Sociologists have observed that the United States has lagged behind, or followed, the socio-political and cultural trends of Europe. At times, in terms of things like fashion, for example, the lag-time is rather short, whereas in more foundational issues such as cultural and political trends, the time gap between progressive Europe and the more conservative America is quite broad. This helps explain why a book that was written from radio-broadcasts given in Great Brittan during the 1940’s is still relevant in America today. C. S. Lewis agreed to give the radio-talks, which were later edited and compiled as the book Mere Christianity (Click Here for a link to this book on Amazon.com), to explain and defend the Christian faith to a war-torn country “which had come to consider itself part of a ‘post-Christian’ world” (p. XIX). Following that European trend, America is becoming increasingly post-Christian as well. Mere Christianity has become a foundational classic in the field of apologetics. It has helped shape the way both apologists and Christians in general think and speak and set the standard for defending Christianity to a “post-Modern” or “post-Christian” world. It is oft quoted by other apologists in their works; it has been used by others as a tool for thoughtful dialog with atheists and has served to strengthen the faith of Christians who have been confronted with their own doubts or by questions raised by atheistic family, friends and acquaintances. Though it is not without its imperfections and some of the language, examples and illustrations given by Lewis are a bit out-dated, it is still useful for these purposes today.
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) taught at Oxford then later at Cambridge, where he was the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English. He was a prolific writer, credited with authoring more than thirty books including: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screw-tape Letters, and works such as Reflections on the Psalms. Lewis’ understanding of literature, language and popular culture, as well as his high intellect and background as a staunch atheist, uniquely qualify him to produce this pioneering work. He wanted to tell his country “in basic terms what the religion [Christianity] was all about” (p. XIX) not to “convert anyone to [his] own position” (p. VIII) but to help them understand Christianity’s reasonableness over other belief systems, including atheism. Indeed, because he was formerly an atheist, Lewis was able to articulate and answer many of their common objections to Christianity in a gentle, respectful and convincing manner. Additionally, Lewis felt being a layman helped him to better relay the basic tenants of Christianity to unbelievers in a more commonly understood way than a highly trained theologian (who may be tempted to expound upon issues that divide various Christian sects).
Lewis originally organized this book into three parts that reflected the formatting of the radio broadcasts. In fact, the original work included contractions and italics designed to reproduce the conversational feel of the radio programs as much as possible. The current revised and amplified edition still tries to maintain a “‘popular’ or ‘familiar’ tone” (p. VII) which allows Lewis’ logical case to shine through without the cumbrance of highly technical language.
The book is now arranged into four sections that progressively take the reader on a journey of faith opening with the contention that there is such a thing as an absolute Moral Law that must originate from something outside this universe. Lewis goes on to make the case that it is most reasonable to identify the origin of that Moral Law as the Trinitarian God of the Bible. He used this foundation to demonstrate the need for man’s redemption to God through Jesus Christ. Building off these notions, Lewis explains morality from a Christian perspective in the next “book”, and concludes that section with a description of what it means to truly have faith. Lewis closes with a theological section that attempts to describe “what God is and what He has done” (p. 187) and how Christians should respond to that by becoming new creatures – something Lewis describes as being beyond human. The progression of his arguments throughout is logical and convincing and probably to the truly open inquirer, quite convicting. It is likely that God has used this work to bring a great multitude of souls into His kingdom.
This work is first and foremost an apologetic treatise. Even though the final “book” seems more designed for one who has already made a decision to believe, the entire work contains a good amount of apologetic material. It seems as though Lewis was doing his best to gently and respectfully walk people through a journey from ignorant unbelief to a reasoned understanding of Christianity that culminates in one placing their faith in Jesus and then living for Him – to put it in his terms, he is hoping that people will move from Bios (Biological life) to Zoe (Spiritual life) (p. 159, 177). He goes about this by presenting a progressive, comprehensive and “common” view of Christianity.
In the preface Lewis stated that he wished “to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times” (p. VIII), but he strays from that goal as there are a few ideas that are expressly stated and others that are merely alluded to which many evangelicals would say at least partially depart from orthodox evangelical Christianity. Some of these departures are perhaps caused by Lewis’ desire to present a universal or non-sectarian picture of Christianity while others are undoubtedly due to Lewis’ personal convictions. Either way, however, these notions that may even be viewed by some as heresy certainly do not represent the “common” Christian faith Lewis professed to be aiming to present.
One area where Lewis deviates from traditional-orthodox Christianity is that he betrays a belief in Darwinian evolution throughout. Because Darwin proposed his theories in the 1800’s that cannot be a view held by Christians “at all times” (p. VIII). Additionally, this view of creation undercuts a trust in biblical inerrancy, which is a core value shared by conservative-evangelical Christians. It also seems that Lewis alludes to the doctrine of purgatory when he speaks of an “inconceivable purification… after death” (p. 202). This doctrine, of course, has been rejected by most protestant denominations and is a key point in one’s soteriology. Lewis also seems to err in his soteriology by implying that one must clean themselves up prior to coming to faith in Christ when he said, “it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong direction” (p164). The final doctrinal error Lewis apparently held to is that he seemed to be at least partially an inclusionist. He said, “There are people in other religions who… belong to Christ without knowing it” (p. 209) – This is untenable from a “common” Christian perspective.
In spite of the teachings that are not common to all Christianity and/or are incompatible with traditional orthodoxy, there are several subjects where Lewis’ arguments are matchless. Possibly the most useful of these from an apologetic sense is Lewis’ defense of Jesus’ deity (either He is a liar, a lunatic or Lord) (p. 52). This is followed closely in importance by his convincing argument that our common sense of morality is strong evidence for the existence of the God revealed in the Bible. Mere Christianity also begins a good preliminary discussion on the problem of evil (as Lewis presents the similarities between Christianity and classic dualism), and it contains an excellent response to atheistic objections that are rooted in the perceived hypocrisy of Christians. These philosophical gems make wading through the theological problems and the difficulties created by the difference in time and culture well worth the effort.
The brilliance and impact of Mere Christianity cannot be denied; it is indeed a classic which has helped shape the standard for apologetics to post-Modern non-Christians, particularly with the issues listed above. However, this work is far from the inerrant and inspired Word of God. In fact, there are several significant topics in which Lewis does not hold to conservative evangelical Christianity. If one just scans the table of contents they may be tempted to rely upon this book as a layman’s systematic theological handbook, but because of these issues, those wishing to fully understand orthodox Christianity should avoid employing Mere Christianity for that purpose. Instead, one should learn to utilize the theologically sound arguments contained in this work as part of a more comprehensive apologetics repertoire, so that they may gently and respectfully “give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have” (1 Peter 3:15).
In our young history we have written 127 posts. Of those, there is no dispute as to which are our top
two. Both of them are on laminin. Some statistics: Laminin has been googled between 25,000 to 30,000 times in the last 30 days. This seems to be a pretty steady statistic even beyond those 30 days. Both of the laminin posts are the most shared posts that we have written as well.
I look at these numbers and think… “what is it with laminin?” Why is this protein so interesting to people?
I get it. The first time I saw Giglio’s presentation…in combination with the Corinthian scripture, chills went down my spine. I believe that it is an illustration of the divine inspiration of the Bible. Think about this for a second…there is no way that Paul could have known what a diagram of the laminin protein molecule would look like when he penned the words:
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NIV)
That being said…
There are some who doubt that the design of laminin is intentional from God. To be honest…there is no way for any of us to know the truth behind the design itself. This is a topic that both Kevin and I have debated pretty regularly. I think the design intentionally points to the cross… Kevin, on the other hand, is a little more skeptical. The basis of the argument is really as simple as this…Is it intended as a message or sign from God? All I can say is this…as Christians we believe in an intentional design, a specific creation. God created the laminin protein…is it really impossible to believe that the imagery people have attached to it was intentional?
Both of us answer this question with an emphatic NO – because with God all things are possible . God is perfectly capable of doing this and sending messages any way He so chooses. But the question remains… why is this protein so interesting to people?
After thinking this through, I believe the answer is simple: people are, and always have been looking for a sign from God. While some can look to creation and see it as the sign that God exists, others need to see something more explicit. For some a true “sign” needs to be in your face and un-deniable. All you have to do is look at how quickly people can find signs in everyday common items…like a piece of toast. Laminin fits this category.
Don’t get me wrong. I will not compare the design of laminin to a piece of toast. One was created by God specifically (whether or not it was intended to “point to the cross”), and the other… well…it just exists.
There is power in seeing a “sign” from God. Many look at laminin as a sign…right, wrong or indifferent. There are two things that can happen from this point:
The first is that they look at laminin, and see a “sign” from God, and make no substantial life change. They see the sign and cling to it as justification of their faith. This is not a good thing as they worship an image and not God himself.
The second is that they look at laminin, and see a “sign” from God, and use this sign as the springboard to their full fledged faith. In other words, it is the catalyst that drives them to the next level. This is what laminin should be.
The cross signifies the sacrifice by our divine Savior. The legal transaction that took place on that cross represents our sins, our transgressions AND it is the point in time where Christ won victory over Satan, sin and death. We are free from punishment, because the punishment has been dealt…as long as we trust in the divine (resurrected) Christ and repent of our sins.
Salvation cannot be achieved any other way. Not only would worshipping an image (such as laminin) be violating the first and second commandments, but it would also short-circuit the type of abundant life Jesus said he wants for you in John 10:10.
Laminin can be viewed as a reminder of the transaction. Laminin is not THE transaction itself. So while
Kevin and I can agree to disagree on the degree to which God intended the shape of laminin molecule itself to point people to the cross, we both can agree…that whatever you believe about laminin, it is not a replacement for salvation – and that is FAR more important.
Please…allow me to lament for just a moment. As I was watching Mizzou get trounced by Cincy in the first round of the tourney I thought to myself, isn’t that typical. I mean after all why should any team that I actively root for want to go out on the floor and fight for a victory. For that matter why should any team I root for even SNIFF a championship. Think about this for a second. The three major teams I pull for are Mizzou, the Chiefs, and (as much as I hate typing this) the Royals. I know many of you who read this blog outside of Kansas City probably just spit out what ever you were drinking, or eating. Stop laughing… It is true. I root and pull for these perennial losing powerhouses.
To be completely honest Mizzou does win more games than they lose. But, and if you are a fan of Mizzou you can appreciate this, they always lose or choke away big games. Anyone remember the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma? I actually flew to San Antonio to watch that travesty under the delusion we stood a chance. How about Tyus Edney? What about losing to NAVY! Winning one road game in the Big 12 this year…really? Not showing up in the Big 12 tourney? Yes….I am the one dummy that actually picked them to beat Cincy. Told you I was a homer. I can count on Mizzou losing games that matter. Always.
The Chiefs…what can I say about this team. I bleed red and gold. I can honestly say that I was at one of the last two playoff wins they had….in 1993. This was the last real time I had any sense that we could actually win a championship…the AFC championship. Since then…a decade of losing, blowing playoff games, and unfulfilled playoff expectations. I have some sense of hope here…though I have been beaten into submission. Show me some victories.
And then there is the Royals. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about baseball knows the agony about rooting for this minor league team. Every year we are getting one step closer to be competitive in baseball. Unfortunately that year is always a couple of years from now when our talented minor leaguers come up. 2011 is going to be a terrible year for the Royals…but you wait for 2012 or 2013 and we will be good and competing for a championship. Unfortunately, this logic has been used since the early 90’s. The Royals are the best minor league team in the Major’s. I guess that counts for something.
I thought of all of this while watching Mizzou fall all over themselves to blow that game to Cincy. I got angry. WHY CAN’T I ROOT FOR A WNNER?! WHEN WILL I BE ABLE TO ROOT FOR A TEAM THAT CAN ADVANCE TO A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AND WIN?!
After about a half an hour of pacing back and forth in my basement I came to a realization. I am actually a part of the winningest team in the history of man. I am part of a team that has not and never will lose. Jesus didn’t choke when decision time came. When He stood by Pilate to be judged, he didn’t turn to Pilate and the crowd and say, “Nah…I was just kidding.” You want to talk about one of the all time clutch performances look at what Christ did and tell me he didn’t pull it off. At any one moment during that whole event he could have ended it. He could have walked away. But when the pressure came Jesus stood and delivered! Folks, all of us who love sports have been disappointed by a sports teams we root for. Keep in mind though that, as a Christian, you play for the winningest team in all of humanity. In the end…GOD wins. He is the ultimate champion; He has an overall record of like a ba-jillion – 0. Nothing can compare to that.
God is undefeated. Jesus, stood and delivered, in his toughest match. He stands and delivers every day for you. When people talk about having victory through Christ (NOT the Kenneth Copeland victory) it isn’t metaphorical! His victories come every day, in big ways, and in little ways. But Christ remains the UNDEFEATED champion of your salvation. Nothing and I literally mean NOTHING can defeat him. Do you want that? Do you want to be a part of a champion? Do you want to play for a champion?
For non-believers on the fence…you are seeing the game being played. You are watching as the home team wins EVERYDAY! But unlike any other sports team that you have seen, you don’t have to be athletic to join it. If you want in…YOU ARE IN! But…you have to want it. YOU have to commit. Repent! Turn from your sins, and trust in the only undefeated Champion of all time. That victory can be yours. There will never be any upsets. You don’t have to worry about being disappointed in your team (cf. Romans 10:9-11, NASB).
For Christians…I simply ask this one question. If you are part of the team are you in the game? If not…what are you waiting for? GET IN THE GAME.
Folks…lets talk some music. I grew up listening to straight rock and roll. Bands of my choice, Led Zeppelin, and any grunge group (real grunge…Nirvana, Soundgarden and the like). Over the last 5-7 years I had completely given up on new music. There was no music worth listening to in my eyes. No passion, no emotion. Everything sounded the same and was littered with the same trash.
So over the last couple of years the combination of church, my wife’s obsession with K-love and KB I have slowly started to give Christian music a try. At first…the music was boring with a capital B. I thought…maybe I just don’t get it, and there was just a general lack of feeling no emotion when listening to it. In my mind in order for it to be good…I have to feel it. I have to hear the emotion in the song, and the music. I have to feel the emotion being poured out. Over the last year I have finally started to feel the songs. I am not sure what the change is. I would like to think that Christian music is finally starting to break the cage and beginning to push the boundary without compromising the true intent of what it is meant to be. A couple of songs have recently caught my ear, and it is changing my perspective of Christian music.
Revelation Song (Phillips, Craig and Dean)
So tell me guys…what’s your favorite Christian song?
I recently wrote a post about the so called “problem of evil” and how Christians should view it. Well, as a youth pastor I get to see this played out in varying degrees in my ministry. Sometimes people respond to challenges well, sometimes they don’t. Today, I thought I’d try to encourage you by telling you a quick story of a young man in my youth group who is handling some adversity remarkably well. Now, this adversity isn’t like facing cancer or the death of a loved one or anything like that, but it is still a big deal for him at this time in his life.
This student comes from a family of VERY talented wrestlers (one cousin was a 3 time state champ and another one was 4 time state champ… His daddy was also a great wrestler and is now one of the coaches in our area). So, safe to say, wrestling is in his blood… It’s been his long-time dream to be a 4 time state champ as well – a dream that not only seemed possible, but quite likely as at the beginning of the season the main newspaper in our state picked him as a favorite for his weight class… All that changed one tournament at the very beginning of the season when he was severely injured by an illegal move.
Of course, his parents sought out the best medical care they could find, but he kept getting mixed messages from the doctors – the reality was they couldn’t be sure how quick he could recover from the injury and as the season progressed it became more and more doubtful that he would be able to get in enough mat time to seriously challenge for state (if he got to wrestle this season at all).
Did God want him to suffer this injury? Was He using the evil of the blatantly illegal move and the injury that resulted to produce some greater good in this young man’s life? As we’ve seen from previous discussions, God does not cause evil in our lives to serve His purposes (God is Holy and thus wholly innocent of all evil)… However, He is also sovereign and thus any random and pointless evil/adversity that affects our lives is ultimately allowed by Him… James 1 and Romans 5 both tell us to rejoice or glory in suffering and trials – Why??? Because trials offer us an opportunity to “test our faith.” They reveal what we really believe about God and ourselves… There are 2 basic choices every time we face difficulties: Become Better OR Become Bitter.
We Become Better when we rely upon God to sustain and comfort us – He then can take the lemon-ness of the bad circumstances and help us turn it into something resembling lemonade (though the lemonade may still be fairly sour) – He does this by helping us grow in our perseverance (James 1), by giving us an opportunity to know and trust Him more and increase our Hope (Romans 5), and by opening the door to be a comfort and witness to those around us (2 Corinthians 1).
We Become Bitter when we allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity… when we let a natural sense of anger against the situation (and maybe even God) cause us to hold a grudge against Him… when we focus on the circumstance and/or its adverse affects and try to lay blame on everyone and everything else because of them.
Though there was much discouraging news and times of deep disappointment this freshman strove to keep pressing on and, even more so, to keep his mind focused on the right perspective: Through the encouragement of his mom, he kept asking, “What can I learn from all this? What do I NEED to learn?” He petitioned the elders of our church to pray over him (cf. James 5:13-16) – but not just for healing, but that he would maintain a righteous example for those around him – It was a very powerful time and no one left the room untouched by the Spirit of God.
Well, the healing didn’t come as quick as anyone would have hoped for… He still struggled through therapy and rehab and wasn’t released for even light work-outs until just a couple of weeks ago… Then, he was allowed to wrestle with the JV and took 2nd in his only JV tournament just last week – which is a major disappointment for someone who was previously picked to win state, especially since it was so close to the tournament he has to place in to qualify for state… Still, though, he has been relying upon God and striving to keep a positive outlook and a live as a solid example of faith.
Tomorrow this upstanding teenager is going to wrestle in regionals (the qualifying tournament for state) in his first varsity action since the injury… and He is going into it hoping to display aspects of Zechariah 4:6-7: To compete – Not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD Almighty… He will attempt to level a very large mountain for the Glory of God.
In my humble opinion it doesn’t matter if he loses every match tomorrow… This is because in light of how he continues to handle himself, he is already a champ in God’s eyes… and mine!
"Really!?" moments, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Ministry, Modern Parables, Spiritual Growth, The problem of Evil Answering God's Call, applying the bible to life, Bible, Did God allow this?, Disappointment, Faithfulness, Highschool, Highschool Athletics, Injury, James 1, LORD Almighty, Might, Missed Goals, Missed Opportunity, Moving Mountains, Pain, Perseverance, Philippians 4:13, Power, problem of evil, Romans 5, Sorrow, Spirit, State Champ, State Championship, Victory, Victory over the Darkness, Witness, Wresteling, Zecheriah 4