Thursday, November 29, 2012

Worth a Look and Read

This blog post (click here) is well worth looking at and reading. To think, Christ rejoices over His bride, His church, us, this way . . . and we will rejoice over Him this way, too!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Responding to the "General Revelation" Argument

If you've read this blog any length of time, or know me in person, you know I am pretty outspoken (hopefully in a gentle, but firm way) about my belief that the earth is young and that Genesis' account of Creation is literal and does not need to have any "hidden" eras (or elongated days) inserted into it. I also believe this issue is important; matters; and has deep significance for, and impact on, other areas of our faith. And, I also know others who love the Lord, follow Him, and don't agree and I don't question their walk or love for Him at all.

With that said (and leaving my other blog posts over the recent years to explain why I believe this issue is so important), one of the things I (and maybe you) hear a lot in these "debates" is a distinction made between special revelation and general revelation. This distinction says that God reveals Himself and gives us insight into Creation by both special revelation (Genesis) and by general revelation (nature). To this point, this is true. Romans makes it clear that because God is so evident in Creation no man has an excuse to deny Him or suppress His truth. And it says things like, "the heavens declare the glory of God." But, it is at this point that I feel the argument often strays into error or inconsistency and I want to share a couple thoughts on it for you in case you find yourself facing the argument, or considering it for your own.

First, there is this seeming presupposition/assumption that the two revelations (Genesis and nature) provide different interpretations. This is an error. There are many, many brilliant scientists who believe in Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and who believe that if science could simply look at the evidence in nature, absent of preassumptions and bias and trying to fit it into their assumed models, they would see that the evidence overwhelmingly supports Genesis' account. But, the media and secular science has so overwhelmed their voices that there is this assumed "reality" that science and Genesis don't mesh when, in fact, they do.

So, first off, we don't need to choose between God's revelation in Genesis and His revelation in nature. The two support each other and are in total harmony. But, having bought the argument that the two contradict, many Christians then feel natural revelation (as they interpret it) trumps Scripture and they then feel led to reinterpret Genesis to fit natural revelation (as they interpret it). We end up then with theories that there is a huge gap between one or more of the "days" of Creation, or that the "days" of Creation are in fact long, long periods of time. What happens is a very dangerous forcing of Genesis into secular science, making the Bible support it instead of the other way around.

Here is the big problem. If we believe, or teach, that "science" or natural revelation forces our interpretations of Scripture we have opened a door and on the other side of it is a slippery slope. Even if we are strong enough in our faith to only do this with Genesis 1 (which would still be wrong), others, especially youth, may not be and it may very likely lead to a slide that ends in writing the Bible off as simply a good book or a moral code.

The reason I say this is that natural laws and contemporary "science" (at least that which gets taught and reported on) goes in the face of much of the Bible, not just Genesis! If you let natural laws and modern "science" interpret Genesis and trump Genesis 1 then, to be consistent, you must do the same for other events in Scripture. I can guarantee you that the same "science" that embraces old earth and drives old earth Christian interpretations will not be able to accept a resurrection from the dead, a talking serpent, a rod turning into a snake, an ocean parting, a trumpet and shout collapsing a fortified city, a realm of demons and angels, miraculous healings, orbits being interrupted, people being taken up by the Spirit and moved to other places, etc. They will either say, at worst, that these are just fables or, at best, they will come up with a naturalistic explanation for them. Yet, my guess is that most Christians who are old earth believe each of these other things truly happened and are miraculous and out of the bounds of natural law and explanation. This is inconsistent and, for many, can lead to some serious doubts and issues in those seasons in life when all we have to hold on to are the promises and love of God as revealed in Scripture.

So, to sum it up and help equip you regarding this argument:

1. A literal reading of Genesis (Creation days and the global flood) and natural revelation are not in opposition. When studied without pre-bias or molds the natural evidence around us actually supports a literal reading of Genesis and there are, in fact, many, many scientists who believe it but who can't get their voice heard.

2. It is inconsistent to allow Scripture to trump secular "science" (natural revelation) in so many areas that secular "science" would not believe, and then to allow secular "science" to trump Scripture in the case of Genesis 1 (and the flood accounts).

I hope this helps, or at least gives food for thought. Wherever you stand on this, God bless you and thanks for reading!

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Might be Country If #2

In response to the overwhelming (that's a joke, though many people did tell me they really enjoyed it) response to my post in September called "Just for Fun . . ." my family and I have gathered a few more "You might be country if . . ." thoughts. Of course, just like the first one, I'm not saying that I know anyone these have applied to in real life (smile). Of course not.

You might be "country" if . . .

. . . you put up the 16' Christmas tree at your church building that someone cut in the hills around you and brought to the building in a beat up pickup truck and find you need to cut two feet off the trunk. So, someone whips out a chain saw and cuts it off . . . while you are still in the building.

. . . the "tooth fairy" brings fly fishing lures and puts them under the pillow.

. . . you vote absentee ballot . . . because they make you because you don't have a polling place.

. . . when you go on a call on the volunteer fire department there is probably a 50% chance or better you'll know the person you are responding to.

. . . one of your youth groupers stores a pig on your property . . . and its alive, not in your freezer.

. . . one of the highlights of your family's year is the day it is green enough out and you have your burn permit and can burn brush piles and downed wood in the field, and sit around and have coffee, cocoa, roasted hot dogs, and smores as it burns down.

. . . when someone asks your kids if they have any pets and they reply, "five chickens, three cats, two cows, and a lost sheep that jumped into our field and whose owner we can't find."

. . . you hop the fence by your house and have to be really careful . . . because it is barbed wire.

. . . you don't use a cell phone . . . because your house doesn't have cell coverage.

. . . you are helping someone move and you are thrilled when they give you a bag of horse poop for your garden.

. . . you pick plums from the top of your plum tree . . . by being lifted up in a tractor bucket.

. . . getting ice cream from the store to your house before it melts is a big challenge.

. . . the bathroom at your local community center is "flushed" by scooping a cup of ash out of the can in the bathroom and pouring it down the hole when you are done.

. . . the "basic necessities" include baling wire and duct tape.

. . . one of the best Christmas gifts you've ever received is someone bringing you a load of firewood.

. . . more of the people you know barbeque with wood than with charcoal or gas.

. . . you could put on a live nativity . . . using only animals owned by people in your fellowship.

Enjoy. Remember, A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Surrender . . . Lay it Down

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My guess is that for many, now, the Christmas music and movies and decorations are starting to come out . . . or at least you have a plan for it. I know we have already watched a few Christmas movies and we are starting to think ahead to when we might go into the hills and cut a tree, about our local church family coming over next Sunday for an open house fellowship at our home, about visiting with others, etc.

I know for myself, and I would assume that for most Christians, I hope that this Christmas season I can show Christ to, and share Christ with, others. I long to have Him be the center of my heart, life, thoughts, awe, wonder, thanks, words, and deeds. And, I think that this is a lot more simple than sometimes I make it as I too often tackle the issue with all this self effort, trying harder, trying to do more, etc. I think that it is, simply, found in surrendering.

Think, for a moment, about one of the most amazing realities of Christmas. It is Immanuel—God with us. Jesus came in the flesh and walked among us. He lived completely reliant on the Holy Spirit and completely surrendered to the Father. His words and deeds were so much the Father's through Him that He could say, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father."

Then something even more amazing happened. He died, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into Heaven after 40 days, and now comes, as the Holy Spirit (God Himself!) to dwell inside every believer. If you have surrendered your life, in faith, to Jesus and received His work on the cross in your place as the basis of your salvation you are born again, a new creation, with God Himself living within you!

The Bible tells us we are the body of Christ, His hands and feet, and He is the head. How does a human body best please and represent the mind (head)? Not by its members running off on their own self effort driven attempts to do good, but by simply surrendering to the head and letting the head dictate its wishes and direction to them. It doesn't mean they are lazy or not doing anything. It does mean they are letting the head live out through them. That's a body fully functioning in the simplest human sense, and in the body of Christ sense.

God lives in us and, just like Jesus modeled in His relationship to the Father, He desires to live through us. What He needs from us is surrender. Basically, to get out of the way in a sense. Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." That is the reality. As Christians, Christ lives in us. He simply wants to live through us.

How does Christ, living in us, best live through us? When we surrender and let Him. When, in faith, we rest in His presence and voice in us and let Him lead us and guide us into His plans and purposes and words.

When will the world see the image of Christ in us? When we let Him live through us and they see Him and not us at work.

This Christmas I want to get out of the way. I want to live aware of His voice and leading and nudging, and then to obey and follow them. I don't want to be so consumed by my own good ideas and self effort that I have no room, or silence, to hear His voice and sense His leading. No matter how good my intentions the world still only sees me when I am the one leading. It may even be big, religious stuff I am doing and still not be Him. Only when I let Him truly live through me will they truly see Him and not me.

That is my hope this Christmas and my guess is that, if I am able, my other great hope for this Christmas will be realized. This hope is that the awe and reality and wonder and gratitude of God coming to earth for me, and living (and dying) among us for me, would captivate my heart and break through the walls of numbness I sometimes feel to the amazing truths I preach. I long to be overwhelmed and awed and captivated by the reality of His love, and majesty, and holiness, and presence and my guess is that I will most achieve this when He is living most fully through me as, then, not only will others—but also myself—be most close to seeing the image of Christ and experiencing Him most fully.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Silence, Hello, and Praise Jar

What would my blog be without sharing with you our annual Praise Jar morning? But, more on that in a minute . . .

It has been awhile since I last posted. From the start I've never wanted to post just to post or to keep the blog's name at the front of search engines, etc. If God isn't leading and blessing what I do I don't want a part of it. Over this last few weeks, besides being more busy than I can remember in a long time, I've been doing a lot of reflecting—especially after the election. I awoke the morning after with knots in my stomach not just at the idea of four more years of pro-abortion and anti-Biblical values leadership, but even more at what I believe the elections across the nation (Presidential, Congressional, initiatives and ballot measures, etc.) reveal about the true makeup and direction of our nation. I have had, in the last few weeks, to "practice what I preach" and take my thoughts captive to Christ, constrain my fears to His love and presence with me, and ask myself what difference my faith makes in how I see things. Especially hard for me has been wondering what my children and, if God tarries and grants it, my grandchildren, will face as a national political climate in relationship to their ability to homeschool, to teach what God says is right and wrong, to live a life not micro-regulated, etc. I was also struck, powerfully, with the reality that I'd known in my head, but hadn't felt so strongly in my heart until that Wednesday morning, that I am now, truly, in the minority. Up to that time I think I'd held out some hope I might be wrong, but the elections removed any and all doubt about that and it hit me hard.

Shortly before the election a survey was released revealing that for the first time ever America ceased to be a Protestant majority. Christians can sugar coat it all they want (saying its because we are now non-denominational, evangelical, etc.) but the reality is that we are, truly, far from a nation in which the majority are Jesus following, Bible believing Christians. The elections confirmed it. With no more unknowns we, with eyes wide opened, heavily supported the most anti-Christian values platform I can ever remember. But, I do see some good news for Christians, though, in this—but it is only seen as such through eternal lenses.

What I mean by this is this: Jesus said that the gate and way is narrow and few will pass through it. We should be suspicious of any majority professing to be His follower. It's not Biblical. What this new climate in the nation is providing is a freedom for those who truly aren't followers of Jesus to admit it instead of putting forth a facade of being Christian while inside having rejected it. What this means for us is that the mission field becomes crystallized and much clearer. The coworker or acquaintance who might, a few years ago, have said with mock indignation, "Of course I'm a Christian. I'm an American," will now feel a much greater freedom to declare their true hearts. For us that means we have much greater clarity in who we should evangelize, and that is not a bad thing.

All that said, this has been a time for processing and taking captive for me. I must remind myself that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and Jesus is my Lord, and that He loves me and will never leave me or my children, no matter what course the nation takes. We have so much to be thankful for and, as I taught on Sunday, from the beginning God has made a mark of His people to be their thankfulness to Him. He is good, all the time.

Praise Jar
Today we are celebrating Thanksgiving in our home because tomorrow, for the first time, we are heading into town to deliver meals for a ministry that both serves meals to people and delivers them to shut-ins. So, this morning we continued a tradition we began in 2003 of opening our Praise Jar in which we have put recorded praises in our life (evidences of God's hand) from the previous Thanksgiving onward. We light the fire, make hot drinks, and pass the jar around taking turns pulling one out and reading it. It is so refreshing and wonderful to be reminded of all these things that, at the time, you thought you'd never forget . . . but too often do. To read a year's worth of praises in the course of a day or two is very powerful and if you've not ever done it I suggest it to you. For us it is a large old pickle jar to which I fastened a wooden lid and cross I made (you can see it in one of the pictures), but it could be anything you choose. The vehicle and format is not important, but remembering His goodness and passing it on is. You can, as is tradition here on this blog, share the morning with us through pictures. Thanks for sharing in our life and may you have an amazing, God-centered Thanksgiving, whenever you celebrate it!


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