"As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming toward her..." (C S Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bad Preaching

"The preacher, instead of looking out upon the world, looks out upon public opinion, trying to find out what the public would like to hear. Then he tries his best to duplicate that, and bring his finished product into a marketplace in which others are trying to do the same. The public, turning to our church culture to find out about the world, discovers there is nothing but its own reflection." (Os Guinness, Dining with the Devil, 59)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Short Stop in Princeton University

On our way to VA, we stopped off in Princeton, NJ and got a chance to walk around the University for awhile. Actually it was incidental, I was sleeping as Jess drove for awhile.  When I woke up we were in downtown Princeton, and we had to stop and take a look around.

Out of our country's earliest major universities (Harvard, Yale, and Princeton), Princeton was the last to go liberal. Men like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, B B Warfield, and Machen held off the tide of Enlightenment philosophy against Biblical authority for an extra few generations.

I have to say the architecture at Princeton was absolutely stunning! Far exceeding anything I've seen at Harvard (haven't been to Yale yet). Jess and I's first impression walking around campus was that there were two types of students there: rich privileged kids enjoying themselves and scholarship kids scared to death of failing!

Though I think it is probably too late to hope that Princeton Theological Seminary will ever return to Biblical authority, it was a beautiful reminder of the history this University has played not only in this country but in the Christian church of a past day and time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

C S Lewis on Humility

I've always been challenged by Lewis description of Humility. A humble person is someone who constantly focuses on others rather than him/herself. It is also someone who willingly admits that pride is everlurking in his/her heart. He writes in Mere Christianity:

"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."

Makes me realize how far from humility I really am...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tasting Life: An argument against anti-depressants as a first option

First let me say, for many medication (anti-anxiety, anti-depressants, etc.) is the only responsible option. Hear me say this before you read the rest of this post: Medication may be what you should be doing. But I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us are medicating life, not disorders.

Are you afraid of depression? Are you afraid of anxiety? Are you afraid of fear? If you are, do you know what that makes you? human. I am not being facetious. Perhaps it is better to speak personally. I look back on my life and can remember with pain the difficult times. A time of depression during my freshman year of college. Fears over major life decisions. Intense pain and emotional hurt. And yet all of these things have made me into who I am. What if I didn’t have them? What if instead of dealing with them, instead of seeking the face of God through them, I simply numbed myself towards them? It would have been to my loss not gain.

There is something else. Life is short. We live in a fallen and sinful world that will not last. Soon there will be no more pain and tears. Then eternity. Until then, we have a calling to live through it all. I want it! As crazy as that seems, I want it. I want the depression. I want to have to work through my fears. I want to face my pain head on…and live through it. Like a Man, with courage, with faith in Christ through the valleys. I know the day is coming when there will be no more valley and no more struggle. The battle will be over and we will enjoy the victory. Until then, I am here to fight...not run away.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Devil doesn't play fair

I've been a Christian for 18 years now, over half my life. I've learned a few things about living the Christian life, like how to study the Bible, how to pray, how to worship. I've also learned a few things about how to resist sin. Sin is fleeting, sin is always deceptive, sin is destructive. But, even now I am confronted with aspects of sin that still surprise me. Sin is ingenious and the devil is witty. They conspire to create seemingly irresistible temptations for us. If you expect sin to be easy to overcome, think again.

The devil does not play fair. What looks so 'good' is often evil. What looks so 'right' is often wrong. What looks so 'satisfying' is often an empty trap. Sin comes to us like a delicious fruit, not like rotten meat. It comes to us with a smiling face, not with a look of disgust. It seems so desirable until we taste it and feel its bitterness slowly making its way down our throats.

But remember there is always a way out, ALWAYS, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Cor 10:13). If you are serious about being a Christian, meditate on this verse. Memorize it. Turn to it often in your prayers. Don't take the fruit no matter how pleasing it looks. And remember, the devil does not play fair.

Monday, June 14, 2010

7 Questions an Atheist Cannot Answer

#1 Why is something right or wrong?

Atheists may believe something is right or wrong, they may even live very moral lives, but they cannot give you a reason to do what is right as opposed to what is wrong. If there is no God, then there is no objective standard of right and wrong. If there is no Law-giver, there is no transcendent Law. Steal, kill, and lie...or don't, whatever you choose.

#2 Why is human life valuable?

An atheist may tell you that human beings are high-up on the food chain, even that they are complex and intelligent. But they cannot offer a reason why human life is more valuable than any other animal, insect, or even plant life. Then again, what makes living beings more valuable than non-living objects, like a rock? Or non-living objects more valuable than nothing at all? In fact, the idea of anything having 'value' must be ousted from an atheist perspective (You can say something is valuable for survival, but not inherently valuable, as survival is no more valuable than extinction).

#3 What is the purpose of life?

An atheist can tell you what he or she personally feels about life (do good, love people, save the environment, etc.), but there is no objective purpose to life. We exist as a result of chance and time. No purpose, no meaning, no real significance to life. An atheist may live a life of love and compassion, but there is no objective reason for doing so, and certainly they cannot speak meaningfully against others who choose to use their lives to do otherwise.

#4 What makes music, art, and poetry beautiful?

An atheist may love music and art and poetry, but there is no transcendent significance to them. They do not add anything to our survival instincts. They are superfluous...unless there is something in us that rises above just physical nature. If not, it is completely relative. Eric Clapton is no better than me strumming my guitar, Van Gogh is equal to a 1st year art student, and Shakespeare is as beautiful a poet as anyone else. Beauty is ONLY in the eyes of the beholder.  Or did God place a love for beauty in good music, art, and poetry in our souls?

#5 Where did we (matter) come from?

I know different answers have been attempted, but seriously? The two answers that are given are both unscientific and nonsensical: 'We came from nothing' and 'We always existed'. I'm not sure which is worse: that the universe could spring into existence out of absolutely nothing or that matter existed for all eternity. Go back a trillion years and there it is! Go back a trillion times a trillion years, there it is! Go back a 1 with a trillion zeroes after it and there it is! Keep going and going and going and still there it is!

(Some might respond: but where did God come from? Christian theology has always taught that God does not exist within our universe and thus is not subject to the cause and effect physical world that we live within. He is transcendent, other than us. He is the unmoved mover, as Aristotle and Aquinas labeled Him. In our universe every effect must have a cause, but Christians have never said God is subject to our universe. He is its Creator. Thus God's infinity is not nonsensical, just difficult to imagine.  If we said God is part of this universe and always existed, then we would have the same problem.)

#6 Where are we headed?

Well, actually there is a sort of answer atheists can give to this: extinction. It is absolutely inevitable from an atheist framework. It may happen in 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, a million or more, but it will be the ultimate end of human life. No matter what we say, do, think, eventually we will be extinct. Eat, drink, and be merry now, because this is all there is.  The future is lights out utter darkness.

#7 How do you know there is no God?

The only way you could know with certainty that there is no God is for you to have infinite knowledge of the universe. This is true of all absolute negatives. It is like saying "I know there is no such thing as a 5 legged dog in this universe." The only way I could know that with absolute certainty is to have complete knowledge of the universe and every dog within it. In other words, the only way to know there is no God is to be omniscient, which can only be an attribute of God himself. Funny, the only one who can know that there is no God would be God himself! This is why many atheists now call themselves 'agnostic.'  Agnostic usually practically means "I don't know, but I am going to keep living as if there is no God."

On the flip side, an absolute positive is different. I don't have to have infinite knowledge of the Universe to know my wife exists. I have experienced a genuine relationship with her. To be a Theist (to believe there is a God) only requires personal knowledge of Him, something that many (most?) human beings have experienced since all of recorded history!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trip to Providence, Rhode Island

More historic New England day trips. Recently we took a family trip to Providence, RI. What a clean, historic, and beautiful town. It was yet another New England gem that I never visited (at least that I can remember) until now. The kids loved it, although as you can see Isaac is not a big fan of taking pictures.

Providence was founded by Roger Williams, an early Baptist minister who founded the town based on religious freedom in the early part of the 17th century. The first two pictures are at the Roger Williams memorial, the second two at the First Baptist Church in America (the oldest Baptist church in America, that as far as I know has sadly gone liberal). We also took a trip over to Brown University and walked through their bookstore...and fed my insatiable love for books.

What an important reminder that the gospel can never be forced upon people. The gospel must be received, personally and willfully by the individual, as God first works in us. As much as I love Calvin, Luther, and Edwards, I am unashamedly a Baptist. Individual conversion, based on the conscious reception of the will (again, as God first works within us), leaves the State or Government powerless to produce regeneration. Paradoxically, because I believe Jesus is the only way to be saved, I would therefore fully support an individual's freedom to unbelief. In the end, it is God who must do the work on their soul.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

With sincere respect...our Hope is elsewhere

Politics are important. And, there is nothing wrong with hoping for a better nation and more competent leaders. We should pray diligently for those entrusted with decision making for our nation. But Christians should remember where our hope ultimately rests. Not in ANY politician...but in a King.