Posts Tagged ‘ a simple man of God ’

Shooting at God?

Another shooting happened this week.

This time, it was in Sutherland Springs, TX, at the First Baptist Church.

Let us remember all of those affected and pray for peace, forgiveness, and strength to move forward.

It looks like it may have been a “domestic dispute” between the shooter and his in-laws.

It also appears he was a preacher of Atheism and the downfall of Christianity.

Regardless, and before I knew these tidbits, I could not help but think:

Is this the post-Christian America we have been promised for years?

Here are some of the reasons I ask:

  • The usual call for stricter controls on guns and people began immediately.
  • Groups like Antifa (Anti-Fascists) are calling for stricter laws across the board.
  • There have been calls for how this is Christians’ fault, anyway, and to see how obviously their prayers were not being answered so how could there be any god.

First, Atheist and other non-religious groups have been calling for all forms of religion to be abolished and for “true human freedom” to reign, but without solid examples of how one must live. Now people wonder why our society seems to be going down the toilet. We removed moral absolutes, and they wonder why we act more like animals. It seems that without the Christian God to help teach us how to be self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23), we rely on outward control. (i.e. More and stricter laws.)

This leads to the second point. We see groups claiming to be anti-fascist that promote known fascist governments. We see the call for the breakdown of walls between cultures with new walls to be up (such as wanting to celebrate what is great about other cultures but not letting those outside of those cultures dress up as them for Halloween). Because we cannot trust people to self-regulate (control their emotions), society must help by saying what others are allowed to think and do.

Finally, Christians and our God get mocked and blamed when this kind of violence erupts. Am I complaining about this as other prominent Christian leaders have been doing, perhaps calling for more protection for our religious beliefs\?

Actually, no.

This is what I expect to happen. Especially if we truly are a “post-Christian nation” … and if I believe the Bible.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”
John 15:18-25

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

As we see society move farther away from God, I expect to see more people shooting at God — through shooting and otherwise attacking His people, the Church.

These things are crazy, stupid, and sad, but in a fallen world that lashes out at the very idea of God I expect it.

This should push us to pray all the more for peace, repentance, and the swift return of our Lord.

Counting On (Daylight Savings) Time

Alrighty, everyone!

If you are not in Hawaii or Arizona (where I am!) – or a few small pockets – then you are waking up to Daylight Savings Time adjusting your clocks back an hour!

Now, if you are grumbling about being an hour early for church, here is some advice:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing …
Philippians 2:14 (ESV)

If there is any silver lining to DST beginning and ending every 6 months-ish, it is that it serves as a reminder to live out another biblical teaching:

So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (ESV)

Happy Sunday!

Go worship God in word, deed, and thought!

Fallacious Choices? Am I Pro-Life?

Welcome back, interwebbers!

As we come close to the close of 40 Days for Life, it is fitting that I should focus on the topic of abortion and the like.

Honestly, this could be a long conversation covering several areas in this topic.

Today, however, I going to focus on one thing:

Choosing Which Life Is Greater?

Author Patrick S. Tomlinson feels he has asked a question, a thought experiment, “that shut down the whole anti-abortion argument.” (WARNING: unbecoming language used throughout the article)

This author feels that pro-lifers (or, as he calls them, anti-abortion) reveal they are not really pro-life, or perhaps they are inconsistent in their beliefs. And, after years of asking this question, not a single pro-lifer has truthfully and adequately answered this question.

My first thought is, “Who has he been asking?” Because I find this relatively easy to answer. And I know I am far from alone.

However, here is his question:

For some unimportant reason, you are in a fertility clinic, when the building catches fire. As you are about to run out, you hear screaming.

You run back in and find the room where the screaming is emanating. When you open the door you see a 5-year-old child on one side, fire in the middle, and a container holding 1000 viable embryos. (Just assume the container is able to preserve the embryos indefinitely.) You know you only can save one.

Which do you choose?

His argument is that if you choose the child, you prove you are not really pro-life, because you allow all of those embryos – potential humans – to die. If you choose the embryos, you are a monster for letting a child burn.

My initial response is this: Thanks for admitting those embryos are alive!

In connection with this, he and others assert that scientists and politicians can not agree when life begins.

However, all embryologists and many biologists agree that life begins at conception.

  1. There is DNA for a distinct human life.
  2. Check any biology textbook: a cell is a living thing, so they are alive.

The debate then becomes, “But does it have a soul?”

I would argue, yes! Based on:

  • Psalm 139:13-16 — We were formed in the womb and are fearfully and wonderfully made;
  • Jeremiah 1:5 — This prophet was chosen before he was even conceived, demonstrating his soul already existed at fertilization. This can be applied to all humans.

As to my answer:

I would save the 5-year-old child.

Does this prove I am not pro-life?

Not at all. In fact, I mourn the loss of those embryos, and I trust God to take care of those lost embryos in His way. But as Christians we also are called to ease suffering.

This child was screaming. Further, being a fertility clinic, this child probably has parents who were there, so I am also helping those parents not to lose a child they already have.

If we change the scenario, maybe my response would be different.

What if I was on a space station above earth or on ship to a new human colony, and the future of the human race depended on those 1000 embryos. I would probably save the embryos.

But this shows the major issue with this question: It is avoiding the point, and it does not show whether a person is truly pro-life.

It is one of those impossible situations in which any choice is not ideal.

If I were on a bus about to go over the edge of a bridge, I would save the first person closest to me. I would not look over the other 36 people on the bus and try to decide who to choose, I would just grab who was closest. I am not responsible for those others, especially if I only have time to save one. No one would question my convictions (except perhaps loved ones of the others on the bus, but most would understand).

Likewise, being in such a situation as this question suggests does not demonstrate that someone is not truly pro-life. It is the complex question fallacy, begging the question. It is basically asking, “Why do you want to let innocents die?” without properly considering other options that are clearly available.

So, what do you think?

Did I answer the question?

How would you answer?

 

One of My Reformation Days

Many today are commenting on Martin Luther, the other Reformers, the Reformation in general, or something along those lines.

Those are very important, and I will undoubtedly share something in the future.

Today, however, instead of focusing on the 95 Theses of Luther, I will do my wife a favor.

You see, we met ten years ago on this day. And what she did not know that day ten years ago was that I had a list of things God and I worked out to find my future wife. (She learned of the list just a few weeks later, but she has not seen/heard the entire list … until today!)

The incredibly shortened, Readers-Digest-version of the story is this:

On the Ides of March of 2007, I ended a previous engagement. I had come to realize that we were not as compatible with each other as we could be, and there were many factors in play in that decision, including a deviation from biblical standards of relationships, if you dig.My Reformation Day/Halloween Costume 2017, Beatnik Daniel

A mere two weeks after that, I was ready to simply swear off marriage to “be as I am,” according to Paul (1 Corinthians 7:7). Instead, I was led to create a list of attributes to confirm a particular woman was my wife.

Then, ten years ago today, my life was reformed when I met my wife.

Interestingly, we half-met when I was having a civil debate with an unorthodox Jew about the anti-Semitic writings of Martin Luther … and then fully met on the way to a Campus Crusade for Christ costume party, at which we shared her costume. (Hence our dressing up in matching costumes each year.)

Anyway, without further ado, here are my 17 Theses of my Relational Reformation (first the more fleshly, then the more godly, but I will leave much of the fulfillment of these between the two of us for now!):

  1. I should find her attractive.
  2. We should have a similar sense of humor.
  3. We will be fascinated by the mundane and the spectacular.
  4. We will be able to have intelligent conversations.
  5. We will be able to be silly with each other.
  6. She will seek clarity in all things. (Friends call us both “clarifiers.”)
  7. She will be willing to think and change.
  8. She will have dramatic changes in her life so that we can be together. (When we met, she was attending the Mormon church and was dating someone else.)
  9. She will have a passion for God.
  10. She will love kids. (She is a wonderful Kindergarten teacher, now! She demonstrated that passion when we met.)
  11. She will be passionate about people.
  12. She will challenge me to go deeper with God.
  13. She will be willing to serve anyone, any time.
  14. She will desire that others know God’s love.
  15. She will be tender toward the needy.
  16. She will feel the need for forgiveness.
  17. She will forgive me.

It literally took 17 days for her to fulfill everything on this list. Not one every day, as we did not see each other every single day, but on November 16, she only had (from my perspective) two more to meet … the last two … and that morning she met them.

It has been a great 10 years! Not always easy. Not always the best. But God brought us together and has brought us through thus far.

Now, I only pray our relationship with each other continues to bless and inspire others to seek God and godly relationships.

May His purity, light, and mercy continue to shine through us!*

(*sidenote: this sentence is a pun on her full name!)

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – Going Back with David Dunn

I promise I am not simply choosing songs that John Piper and others have said they disagree with!

Why do I say that?

Well, in my last Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas I discussed Hillsong’s “What a Beautiful Name”, which included a response to John Piper’s response.

Similarly, today’s song has had a few negative responses, including one I listened to from John Piper about a month and a half ago.

The gist of the negative reactions is this: it sounds too much like David Dunn wants to go back to living like a child, without having to deal with the problems and pressures of adult life. It seems too much like he wants to go back to a simplistic life in which there is not much responsibility and we can fall back on a blind faith.

Here is why I disagree and, more importantly, like the song.

(Other than living a simple life as a simple man of God, of course!)

In the first verse, I am hearing less “I want to go back to an easy life when I believed just because” and more “I long for a faith as strong as I remember having.”

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.
Revelation 2:4-5a, ESV

When I listen to this, I am hearing a reminder to have faith like a child (Luke 18:17), not to return to living and thinking like a child (1 Corinthians 13:11).

In the second verse, I hear a reminder to not worry about what others have and do, but to simply love them … which sounds a lot like living out one of the greatest commandments!

However, I think the deepest message is found in the chorus, as it helps us remember how the rest of this is possible.

I am reminded of the Karl Barth quote that he could summarize his work and understanding of theology in the simple lyric “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

What exactly does this mean?

We can rely on Word of God, the Bible and Jesus, to guide us in all truth and inform our faith. Therefore, David Dunn is reminding himself and us that we need to make sure we are digging deeply into the Bible and seeking Christ through devotional prayer (“Devotional” both in the sense of spending time in study and thought as well as out of a deep love).

And the chorus continues with letting this little light shine.

Obviously, this is the call to live out the faith given by God for His glory!

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

In other words …

… This song can be simply understood as a call to fall back on the greatest commandments:

  1. Love God with everything you are (Deuteronomy 6:4-5),
  2. Love others (Leviticus 19:18),
  3. Love the Church (John 13:34-35).

David Dunn – I Wanna Go Back Lyrics

When I was a kid
I was sure
I could run across the ocean
And I was gonna be an astronaut

When it was You and it was me
I had everything I needed
Faith could even move a mountain top

And then I grew up
And then I got older
Then my life got tough
And we grew apart

I wanna go back
To Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me
For the Bible tells me so
I wanna go back
To this little light
Gonna let it shine
Gonna let it shine
I wanna go back

When I was a kid
I didn’t care to keep up with the Jones’s
I was just happy that they lived next door

When it was You and it was me
I had everything I needed
Your hands were big enough to hold the world

And then I grew up
And then I got older
Then my life got tough
And we grew apart

I wanna go back
To Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me
For the Bible tells me so
I wanna go back
To this little light
Gonna let it shine
Gonna let it shine
I wanna go back

I wanna go back, back to
Yes, Jesus loves me

I Gotta Have Faith: Whose Fool Are You?

Welcome back, people of the internet!

Today’s topic: FAITH!

Why?

Recently, I have heard several people – including Richard Dawkins, AronRa (an atheist apologist?), Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy – all call faith in general, with Christians in particular, foolish.

These people claim that Christians believe with a blind faith, that they do not believe in the Bible or God for any good reason, but just because that is what they were told to believe.

Is this true?

What is faith?

According to Hebrews 11:1 (ESV):

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

So, what does this mean?

Basically, faith is trusting and believing something based on evidence. Something that is not seen is believed because there are things we can see and test that support it.

A popular example is a chair.

The chair looks sturdy. I have seen other chairs hold people up. Therefore, I have faith this chair will hold me up.

How do I know your faith is true?

Live it out. Show me. Sit on the chair. Show your faith by sitting.

Another example is a compass.

We believe a compass points north, because we have seen so many compasses point north.

(Though, it is possible a compass can be manipulated by magnets …)

“Ah,” you may say, “But that is science!”

Conviction of things unseen …

What evidence do we see of not seeing things in science?

A lot!

What about black holes?

We have never seen black holes, because they literally eat light. So, how do we know they exist? We have evidence they are there.

An interesting example from the past few years is the Higgs boson.

The Higgs boson is, essentially, what gives matter mass (the ability to have weight and substance). It was theorized using mathematics. The so-called “God particle” (actually, the “Oh my God particle”, from a note scribbled by a physicist) was officially discovered by slamming atoms together in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and using the resulting mathematical probabilities to “see” this “thing”.

In other words, it was seen through the symbols of mathematics.

It was not actually seen with eyes. Rather, it was predicted (hoped for) and then proved through mathematics. We used these symbols to express the evidence of what we cannot see to prove (have conviction) that it is there.

In the math.

Scientists use written symbols to find evidence of things unseen.

Sound familiar?

You could say I have faith that people have faith, even when they are “faithless.” Because I see the evidence.

They say “These words made out of symbols and numbers tell me this should be here, and I am going to believe it because all of the other math checks out, too.”

So, why do we as Christians believe the Bible?

Because we have these words that tell us about Jesus.

Some of you may remember the Four Core Facts I covered a few years ago. What does this have to do with anything?

The Four Core Facts:

  1. The Crucifixion (and Resurrection) of Jesus Christ
  2. The Despair of the Disciples
  3. The Change in the Disciples (Their despair becoming willingness to die for the truth of #1)
  4. The Conversion of Paul

If you are willing to objectively look at this evidence, you can see the evidence for the truth of God and His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

That evidence includes that Jesus quoted the Old Testament, which we know existed before He was born, He claimed it was about Him, and then He claimed He would die and raise again.

And He did it! Thus validating what He said.

In fact, this is the ultimate evidence. Paul himself (you know, one of the most successful evangelists for the Church, having planted so many throughout the Roman Empire) said this is all that needed to be preached! (1 Corinthians 1:22-23, 2:1-2)

It could be argued that the Church itself is the biggest evidence.

Jesus proved it Himself.

So we do not believe it “Just because,” but because Jesus said He would die and come back and did.

One of many points of evidence of this kind of faith is Abraham.

God called Abraham to sacrifice his son. Some call this barbaric, but it really is not.

Abraham and his wife were way too old to have children, but God said “You will have a son.”

When God then called him to sacrifice this son, I can guarantee you that he thought something like, “Well, you said I would have a son through whom you would multiply my descendants, and here he is. You could easily bring him back to life, so though I may not like it, I will obey.”

God did not raise Isaac back to life (He did not need to), but He did do it with His own Son!

So there is faith: “I have seen the evidence. I may not see God. I may have seen Jesus Himself. I may not be able to see everything the Apostles and other disciples saw, but I see the written evidence.

People just do not want to accept the evidence.

So, whose fool are you?

Do have the foolish faith of a Christain or the foolish faith of those who say there is no God? (1 Corinthians 1-2)

I still have faith in science, even with a lot of people who do not believe the Bible, because the math and the science checks out and proves the validity.

I also have faith that God’s Word is true.

What is the Church? Where 2 or 3 Gather …

Welcome back, people of the interwebz!

Today we are looking at what it means to be the Church in terms of two or three gathering together.

First, a look at Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV):

 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

Two things to discuss:

1.       We should encourage each other;
2.       We should not neglect meeting together.

Last week at church, we had to “deal with” two men who had issue with each other. They had an awkwardness between them. Their wives had an awkwardness. Being a small house church, we dealt with feeling that awkwardness.

These two men probably did it right. They had tried talking it out, but there was still awkwardness between them. So, the pastor called them out, and told them to go talk it out. After the music started, he joined them. Eventually, they were able to come back in, and it was resolved.

This leads us back to Matthew.

In Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV), Jesus said:

 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” 

They did this, they were able to talk about it, but there was still an awkward tension.

16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 

I knew what was going on, as well as the pastor, so there are at least two more people.

17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

(Treat them as sinner: SHOW LOVE AND GRACE! It may mean kicking someone out of church, but be willing to welcome them back while continually showing love and grace! Thankfully, this was not necessary in this instance.)

18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 

(We could definitely dive into “whatever bind … loose” and “where two or three are gathered” in more detail, but that is not the focus of today!)

Many people take this passage, verse twenty in particular, to mean that we have church wherever two or three people gather. While this is true, that is not the context of this passage.

It is about church discipline.

This is about handling disputes between Christian brothers and sisters, how to get along.

And it is nice to be a part of a church that lives this out.

This passage is telling us that we should lift each other up in Christ. In this instance, we see Hebrews 10 in action: encouraging each other and not avoiding each other.

Perhaps you are dealing with problems with brothers and/or sisters in Christ: maybe a literal brother or sister, or a parent, or another relative or just a friend.

Regardless, “do not neglect meeting together” means work it out with them in the Name of Christ!

These two guys worked it out in only about five minutes.

Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another. ~Proverbs 27:17
  (Proverbs 27:14 mentions how a man who loudly greets his neighbor in the morning is an annoyance … coincidence? DEFINITELY! ;P)

In short, it takes work! Just like in marriage or other relationships, it takes work. If you have problems, you deal with it … in Christ.

Therefore, go out and be excellent to each other!

daniel