Saturday, September 27, 2008
Jesus taught us to love our enemies. He taught us not to return wrong for wrong. He taught us to give to those who ask. He taught us to turn the other cheek. He taught us to go the extra mile. He taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
He, having done no wrong, laid down his life to die for mankind to pay the debt to the justice of God and to bring about a free way of reconciliation between God and man. By His Resurrection from the dead, man can know God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. “Faith,” meaning substantial trust in Him who we know to be our Savior. No works are required. He freely gives and we freely receive.
When we walk with Christ our lives begin to align with the superior reality of heaven. When earth aligns with heaven miracles happen and God has given His followers the ability to bring about positive changes upon this planet. We can heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead. We can give hope to the hopeless. We can feed the poor. We can show the love of God to a people desperate to know Him. This is the work given to the Church. This is the work of Christ in us.
The world is watching to see if our claims have value, substance, reality, and truth. We owe people an encounter with God. We carry the Kingdom of God and we must release the Kingdom to the hurting, broken, rejected, lost of this world. This is the heart of God and we must represent Him in all we say and do.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I have just realized a categorical mistake I have been repetitively making every time I tell a young person if they don’t buckle down to their schooling they won’t get a good job. By stating this, I am equating the reason for education to obtaining a good job by which one can make a living.
I am reading a book by Dorothy Sayers in which she addresses the issue of our fallacious idea that the reason we work is to make money. Employees often speak of their rights without realizing their obligation to work for works sake and to do their work well. “The fallacy being,” Sayers writes, “that work is not the expression of man’s creative energy in the service of society, but only something he does in order to obtain money and leisure.”
Often times, people choose a career based on what will be the most profitable financially versus following the dream God has placed in their heart for their contribution to others. Thus the doctor is taking care of the sick because it is profitable to do so instead of out of his desire to bring healing to the suffering. The lawyer isn’t doing his job because he is committed to justice, but because it makes good money. The school teacher isn’t teaching because he loves equipping a generation, but because he can put up with the job to support his family.
Education should not be seen as a means to gainful employment, but a means to becoming equipped to contribute in a meaningful way to one’s society. Thus the modern focus on skill based education is way out of place for education was never meant to be equipping for employment.
I recently saw a 700 Club episode about the
Sayers writes, “If man’s fulfillment of his nature is to be found in the full expression of his divine creativeness, then we urgently need a Christian doctrine of work, which shall provide not only for proper conditions of employment, but also that the work shall be such as a man may do with his whole heart, and that he shall do it for the very work’s sake.”
We should work at what we love because God put that love for a certain role in society in our hearts. One of the ways you can tell if you are working at what He has given you to do is that it is what you would do if money were not an issue.
Also we should encourage education, not because of gainful employment, but because it is good for the person to be a well educated self-thinking individual. Even if we are not in formal education any longer we can always be learning and sharpening our thinking.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Historically you have the age of the ancient Greeks and Romans followed by the Middle Ages and then the Modern Era. The Middle Ages are often referred to as the Dark Ages. It is said that because the Church was in power in those days that creativity and human reason was stifled. This is not entirely true. Science is often solely attributed to rise of the secular Modern Era. However before the word “scientist” was coined there were parson-naturalist studying nature during the Middle Ages. Additionally, most all the scientist from the 1500’s to the 1800’s were Christians and many of them major contributors of renown.
Many of the contributors to the foundations of science adhered to the Christian worldview such as:
Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) established mathematically that the planets revolved around the sun.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627) known for establishing the “scientific method”.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) a brilliant mathematician and scientist. He came close to discovering the universal gravitational pull before
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) a mathematician and scientist known as the “father of modern philosophy.”
Robert Boyle (1791-1867) a scientist known for “Boyle’s law” in chemistry. He is also known as a devout Christian and defender of the faith.
Johann Gottlob Frederick von Bohnenberger (1765 – 1831) gave us the electroscope, commencing the development of scientific electrical devices. He was a learned theologian and Priest.
Christianity provided the firm foundation on which to birth such great scientific discoveries. How so? Christians believe that the natural world is real and orderly. Christians believe God has given humanity sufficient cognitive abilities to learn about the real world including the ability to logically reason deductively and inductively. The ancient Greeks did not birth the sciences because they believed that nature was evil and disorderly. The orient countries believed nature to be an illusion and thus nothing of substance to discover. The pagan societies deified nature giving it a place of awe and respect which did not lend itself to scientific intrusion upon it.
Secularism was not rampant in those days and did not develop as a cultural thought until later in the Modern Era. It may have adopted science as an acceptable means of knowing the world, but it did not birth it as such. However, secularism has produced a view of science that disrobes it from its foundation. Secularists teach that nothing exists outside of nature and all that can be known can only be known scientifically. Thus, the logic, reason, and trustworthy cognitive abilities all are unproven scientifically and the rug is pulled out from under meaningful science.
Christians today often take one of two positions with regard to science. Either we dismiss it as secular and appeal to unsubstantiated “faith” alone or we try and fuse modern scientific theories into our Christian worldview. The former choice communicates that Christianity is devoid of evidentiary substance and must be accepted on blind faith. The second communicates that the Bible is in error and in need of scientific revision.
Let me suggest a third more legitimate position. Science is what needs an overhaul. It needs to be returned to its proper foundations in order to produce adequate science. When one works from a faulty worldview all that follows is tainted. There exist scientists who do have the proper worldview foundation and do produce science that does indeed confirm the reliability of Scriptures, but those scientists are often suppressed and discounted because their worldview is simply not accepted in today’s scientific community. The media and the schools only show the world the science that’s congruent with the culturally prevalent secularism. Do not settle for what you have been taught in school or learned through television.
We cannot substitute the infallible authority of Scripture for the fluctuating scientific discoveries. Exciting discoveries that firmly support Scripture are being made all the time; you just have to do a little digging to find them.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Why is it then that the person who posits the existence of ultimate Truth that corresponds accurately with reality is branded intolerant, close minded, or intelectually dishonest? An open mind is good until you find something true to close it around. If you find your lost keys under the couch you don't check under the chair next. This does not mean you don't continue to examine your own belief system, but you have to do that in the confines of the proper foundation of which to know anything at all. If your foundation is faulty you merely are arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Joe Boot adequately expounds, " We must be willing to get to the foundations of our experience. If we remain content to decorate the interior of the house of knowledge and pay no attention to the structure and foundation stones of that house, we will find that the dry rot of absurdity and the rising damp of unexamined assumptions are fatal to the structure." In contrast, if the structural foundation is sound, there is no need to keep it open to unsound additions, but instead to build upon the true foundation.
Some advocate a both/and type of reasoning to avoid exclusivity of truth. Whereas logic dictates an either/or reasoning (the law of non-contradiction). Truth by its very nature is exclusive of all non-truth. If it is true that God exist, then it cannot be equally true that He does not exist. This is impossible. If the Christian God exists, then it cannot be equally true that all world religions are also true for they are contradictory to the former. Just take the three main world theistic beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and you see major differences. No honest follower of either of these beliefs would posit that the other belief system can co-exist logically (the same person cannot believe all three belief-systems at the same time without living a contradiction).
The both/and advocate says truth must be “both/and” or nothing else. It cannot be either/or. Even the both/and proponent cannot get free from the “either/or” logic.
The problem of knowing truth isn’t one of the truth, but one of what the knower does with the truth. If the knower forces it upon those who don’t know or don’t believe by violence or manipulation then they have created an injustice. Jesus said that if a person says he loves God, but hates his brother, the truth is not in him. Jesus also said that if you know the Truth the truth will set you free, therefore it does not create oppression, but freedom.
Moreover, in Christianity knowing the one who is the Truth enables one to live a life of truth and love.
We must understand that the existence of one truth is not an outlandish idea. However, what one does with the truth they profess is of enormous importance. Truth is more than a philosophical construct. It is also an experiential reality.
Don’t be fearful of looking for one coherent worldview. Truth is knowable and He wants to be known.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
These infamous land pirates succeeded because they were counterfeiting something real. They knew that their light would signal ships that there was a safe harbor when in fact they would soon be beached upon land and plundered. In contrast, had the captains known where the real harbor was they would not have been taken in by a counterfeit.
It is the same with religions. Many belief systems are casting out their lights and yet they are only counterfeits of the real. They allure because there is a real, but once accepted as the truth they leave you plundered and lost upon the rocks. One can avoid it all and stay drifting upon the sea of uncertainty, never making landing, always fearful that the light of the harbor is as false as the next one. Or they can learn about how to find the real and avoid the pitfalls of the counterfeits. We can live our lives afraid of being plundered by false hope or we can look past the false for the real and latch ourselves securely to what is real. Once the real is attained the counterfeits are more easily seen for what they are not and any allure they may have had dissipates.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
“How much for these,” she asked pointing to the desired fruit.
“Four dollars a pound,” retorted the gruff voice of the vendor.
“Four dollars!” Judy exclaimed, thinking his prices too steep. She could still smell the tantalizing fragrance of the peaches. They were her favorite fruit. However, she was a very frugal person. . .
“Will you accept three dollars per pound?” She asked hopefully.
The man eyed her with dripping annoyance; “Three-Fifty,” came the booming voice.
“Thank you” she retorted jubilantly despite his sorry disposition. He motioned for her to select her peaches. She picked up a bag and began to fill it with her peaches. Then she handed it to the vendor for him to weigh, hoping she would not exceed three pounds.
She watched as the vendor sat her bag of peaches upon the scale with his right hand. He was leaning so close to it. Her eyes fixed on his left hand, almost imperceptible, but there it was, he was adding weight to the scale. The nerve of him, she thought as she glanced at the calculation rising to five pounds. She knew full well there was no five pounds of peaches in that bag. Maybe he just wasn’t paying attention.
“That will be $17.50,” his gruff manner pulling her out of her thoughts.
“No, I’m sorry, but there isn’t five pounds of peaches in that bag” Judy responded indignantly.
“You saw the weight madam”
“I also saw your left hand on the scale.”
“What of it?” He snapped.
“What of it?” she repeated, her astonishment rising. “What of it? I’ll tell you what of it. It is wrong, that’s what.”
“Who are you to tell me how to run my business?”
“You must be fair to your customers.”
“Why? I make more money my way.”
“But it’s wrong.”
“So you say.”
“Not just me, everyone knows that’s not right, it’s stealing.” She was unnerved at this point.
“Lots of people steal” he argued.
“That doesn’t make it right.”
“It’s right to me,” he countered.
“You don’t determine right and wrong.” Judy insisted.
“And you do?” he scoffed.
She looked at him askance. She was unprepared for this verbal assault on her philosophy of right and wrong. She just wanted peaches. How had this turned into a philosophical debate?
“The law,” she retorted, “the law says it’s wrong.”
“Who’s law?” He questioned.
“The law of this city . . . this country!” Judy exclaimed.
“I don’t care about the law.”
“You ought to.”
“Because you just ought to, everyone knows that.” Judy exasperatedly retorted.
“Look, young lady, if you can’t come up with a better reason why I “ought to” other than because “everyone knows that” I see no reason to waste my time further with you.”
Judy stared at him. The audacity of this man, she thought. Tears filled her eyes and she glanced around the busy market place trying to decide if she should just walk away or if there was some greater standard of morality to which she could appeal. Her eyes fell on a small ceramic of Moses and the Ten Commandments. She brightened and turned back to the vendor. Just then a loud siren came out of no where.
The market place began to slip away into a memory of sorts . . . the sound was getting louder and louder. Suddenly she opened her eyes and smacked off her alarm clock. She sat up thinking about her dream. The answer is “God” she mused to herself, “God is why you ought to. He’s the one that is the standard of goodness.”
Monday, September 15, 2008
“God’s justice demands that sin be punished, but his love compels him to save sinners. So by Christ’s death for us his justice is satisfied and his love released. Thus, there is no contradiction between absolute justice and unconditional love. To illustrate, God is like the judge who after passing out the punishment to the guilty defendant, laid aside his robe, stood alongside the convicted, and paid the fine for him. Jesus did the same for us on
"Love cannot work coercively but only persuasively. Forced love is a contradiction in terms."
"Love cannot work coercively but only persuasively. Forced love is a contradiction in terms."
-- Norman Geisler Quotation from “Who Made God?”
Friday, September 12, 2008
The second major example is the British host of the MTV awards making fun of the Jonas Brother’s commitment to purity with dripping vehemence. Have we gone mad? Is it not refreshing to see young men wanting to save themselves for their future wives and to care for them only without any baggage of past sexual relationships? We are talking young men in the Holywood spotlight! This is unheard of in today’s normalcy of broken marriages, affairs, fornications rampant in Holywood. Kudos to them for maintaining such a testimony of great character in the face of such immorality.
I say all this with understanding that is not fully society’s fault for thinking this way. It is the Church’s responsibility to shine the truth through the way we love. We have failed to show our society that God has the answers to its problems. The world looks at our problems and doesn’t see any reason to look to us for any answers.
How can we fix this problem and stop the deterioration of our government and country which is fast approaching the rampant secularism of modern
1) Christians need to take serious their responsibility to be lights in the darkness. Not to rise up in religious outrage, but to be examples of Christ love and the wholeness He produces in our lives. Let us be salt and light in this world by the testimony of our lives lived in open devotion to Christ with love for each other and everyone else being evident in our lives.
2) Christians need to operate in their supernatural giftings and not be afraid of praying for the sick. We must step out and do what Jesus called us to do, “heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons.” There can be no denying God’s existence and the evidence of the supernatural when people are rising from the dead, legs are growing out, cancer is disappearing, and people are being set free from the demonic influences in their lives.
3) G.K. Chesterton, a famous Christian writer, once answered an editorial question “What’s wrong with the world?” with the shortest editorial response “I am.” We need to look in ourselves and see the need for a Savior for the evil in our own hearts. We want to right the world and end injustice, pain, suffering, and evil. We need to realize that we ourselves have a plank in our eye that we need Jesus to restore us so that we can love our neighbor the way we should and see the love of God change hearts and minds. We can’t point the finger at others as the problem of the world. To think this way would be like expecting a child to potty train himself. We know the answer; we are more responsible for the world’s problems than those who don’t know Jesus. If we don’t rise lovingly to help our culture transform to the
4) In keeping with that, our culture will not be transformed by physical force, but by the love of God. It will be by loving our neighbors as our self, by going the extra mile, by turning the other cheek, by not returning wrong for wrong, by doing good to those who persecute us, by loving our enemies, by praying for our nation, by healing the sick, and by preaching the Kingdom of God.
Rise up Church. Rise up in love.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The common cold was more like the consistent cold coming upon me every three months or so year after year. That is until New Years of 2006, when something unexpected came about. A few days prior to Christmas vacation the office I work in was partially flooded due to some plumbing problems overflowing from the floor above. Damp moldy air greeted my sensitive sinuses for two days before we closed up for Christmas. Consequently, another cold took root and I quickly loaded up on the over-the-counter remedies. The cold persisted as my husband and I drove out of state for a New Years conference. I had packed all my cold medicines and made sure to dose up every four hours. However, despite all my attempts to keep my cold under control it quickly flared into a nasty sinus infection and upper respiratory infection. I could barely sleep at night. A scant five minutes didn’t pass without my repetitive coughing which frequently triggered an asthmatic coughing episode. My husband was ready to leave the conference and take me home to a doctor. I protested as I did not want to cut our trip short, nor did I enjoy the thought of seeing a doctor.
My husband decided to seek out the help of one of the ministry leaders at the conference concerning my sickness and my repetitive cold problem. He explained that he was tired of seeing my struggle and wanted victory over this sickness. Several leaders gathered to pray for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was willing to try anything that would keep me from going home to a doctor. Although we revealed no details of the circumstances leading up to this cold, one of the ministers spoke what was revealed to him prophetically. He told me that I had breathed in something poisonous to me, like a mold. Then they prayed for me and I felt such peace. I felt the presence of God rest upon me and my lungs began to tingle as the pressure of congestion lifted. This was not a euphoric feeling, but a substantial physical experience. My sinuses cleared and I breathed deeply without coughing. I was instantly, supernaturally healed by the power of God working through Christians who knew how to use the power they carried. I continued to feel the sweet peaceful presence of God for a while after the healing. What’s more, I did not get another cold for a record eleven months. Even after that, my colds have been at a normal level only having had two minor colds and one bout with the Flu since that healing two years ago. The consistent onset of colds that plagued me for years was broken that New Years Day by the miraculous power of God.
I experienced God in a tangible supernatural way that day. As an apologist, people often ask me how I can believe in an invisible God. I can give all kinds of evidence for the truth of Scripture and the reality of the Christian worldview, but while such things are very important, the experiences I have had that affirm to my soul that God loves me seals the deal. True faith grows in those moments—a faith not based on hoping really hard that God is real, but a faith that is truly the substance of things hoped for.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Christians and non-Christians a like often loose sight of what it really means to be a follower of Jesus. I read many blogs lamenting against Christian education and Christian values and Christian anything. I think this is because Christians have misrepresented the Lord to the watching world. I recently read about Justin the Martyr. In his day, Christians were misrepresented as being immoral and, believe it or not, atheists. They were charged with atheism because they did not serve the Roman Emperor or believe in the polytheist gods of
I think of the Sermon on the Mount and how there is nothing that Jesus taught that is not good for the world. Matthew 5 recounts His most famous sermon. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are those who are merciful. Blessed are those who are pure in heart. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.
He calls His followers to be shining pure examples of His Light so that others will see and praise God. Our lives are to be living testimonies of Him so much so that people see us and want to praise God.
Jesus goes on to speak of forgiving those who owe us a debt or have done us wrong. He speaks of being faithful to one’s spouse. He speaks of keeping ones word. He tells us to always give to those who ask and to go the extra mile as well. He says that if someone steals from you give them more. If they strike you on one cheek, give them the other as well. He says we are to love our enemies, not just our friends.
Just think of a world where everyone lived just by these words of Christ in Matthew 5 given in the Sermon on the Mount. What would that world look like? Would it not be a world of peace, mercy, love, forgiveness, giving, righteousness, purity, faithfulness? Jesus says that this is possible, not by our might, but by His working in us and bringing about these things in our lives. These things do not earn us God’s approval. We, as Christians, are already stamped with His forgiveness and His holiness in Christ. But we are called to live as Christ did and we are empowered to do so through Christ, doing so causes the world to praise God. It is not for our glory that we live this way, but for His. It is because of His love overflowing in us that this ought to be what it looks like to follow Jesus. We owe it to the world.
Monday, September 1, 2008
God is good, because God loves. His goodness is an extension of His love. God’s attributes are eternal. Were they not eternal, He would not be God for God’s nature must be complete in and of Himself: self evidently. If God depended upon anything outside of Himself, He would not be God. Love is actualized through relationships not in isolation. We don’t actualize loving someone when we are not in relationship with that person. To know the love of a parent for a child, you must have a child in which you love as a parent loves a child. To know romantic love you must have an object of that love. Therefore for Him to love, He had to love before He created. He didn’t begin to love once He created the world. He always loved. He always was a personal God. That’s why the doctrine of the Trinity is so essential. For God to love mankind, He had to first love interpersonally the Son of God. Who is begotten of God versus created by God. For God to be a personal God, He had to be interpersonal eternally versus gaining His personal nature with reference to creation. Once again, every attribute of God must be eternal. God loves because He eternally loves the Son and the Son eternally loves the Father. God is the ultimate Father to mankind because He gains His fatherly identity through His relationship with the Son. The Holy Spirit is the agent of His love which binds the Father and the Son and who is given to each person who is in relationship with the Father through Jesus. Jesus said that the greatest act of love is to lay down your life for your friend. Jesus, while we were yet sinners, laid down His life for man. Jesus was purposed to do this before the creation of the world. Before we sinned, He was still going to lay down His life to bring mankind into holiness that is only found in God. Man was made dependent upon God. But the only way we could attain holiness is through God providing that to us by an extension of His grace to us which comes through His greatest act of love and that is sacrificing Himself for us. We were not made equal to God for the created cannot be equal to the Creator, thus to be brought into His holiness He had to elevate us by grace through His supreme act of love which is in Christ work on the cross. Jesus coming to give His life for man was not God’s back up plan because mankind messed everything up. It was still purposed to be. However, when man sinned, Jesus’ sacrifice included His forgiving us our sins.
The doctrine of the Trinity is essential to the existence of God. If God were not a Trinitarian Being He could not be, for a being to have an identity, he has it relationally to another. If God was this cosmic static entity with no persons of the Trinity He could not be self-evident. He gains identity from Himself because He is a personal being. Thus any religion that posits a non-Trinitarian God cannot theologically support the existence of that God. Moreover polytheism fails to be a foundational system of belief for each of the many gods would have to be finite for you cannot have more than one all powerful God. It isn’t logically possible. Thus multiplicity of gods lends itself to finiteness of gods and that is not an adequate foundation for they would not be eternal.
In conclusion, God, being perfect, loves perfectly and eternally and all ethics and morality derive from the goodness that flows from His love. This is why Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor and that the second hinges on the first. When we learn how to love God and to experience His love and compassion for us we are enabled to love our neighbor the way we ought. This is why I have repeatedly advocated that morality is not about following the letter of the law, but about the fulfillment of the law which is love. When we are filled up with God’s love we can love others the way we ought to and we do good by them as a byproduct of that relationship with God.
God loves mankind and His love is actualized and experienced through the Holy Spirit who draws all men unto Himself. God is loving us even when we rebel against Him. All the consequences for sin is to bring about our restoration unto Him. It is all for our good even when it doesn’t feel so good at the time. Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Even when God is allowing us to reap the consequences of our unrighteousness it is for our redemption.
The end product of a community of people who live lives of love is a beautiful picture. John Lenon asked the world to imagine a world with no religion. In reality, we need to imagine a world where God’s love is known by people and lived out through people. A world of people who live like Jesus lived would indeed produce a utopia. Imagine just a city of people who are living like Jesus. There would be no crime. The jails would be empty. There would be no hate. People would treat each other with kindness. They would always do good for their fellow man. God is calling us to such a way of living and it is possible through Christ.
However, there will always be those who will refuse to live as a part of the Kingdom of God. So even as this community of believers matures into this society built on love those outside of this society will be living lives in opposition to this reality. Hence the world will become darker and darker (more vile and destructive) and the church community brighter and brighter (more pure and glorified) until the day Christ comes for His Bride the Church.