Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Topic Worth Following

If you've not been following the findings of different matter in fossilized dinosaur bones that couldn't possibly be as old as old earth scientists claim then it is something to watch closely. Here is a link to a very recent (and ongoing) part of that battle. It is well, well worth reading! The link is from FOX news, but it is written about in many other places as well. It is:

Scientist Claims California University Fired Him Over Creationist Beliefs

As you read the article it should be a strong reminder of something that I've talked about a lot—our worldview matters! We will begin our study, our processing of new information and events, etc., from the starting point of our world view. This world view is made up of the presuppositions we hold—those things we presuppose or assume or believe to be true. At the core they begin with what we believe about God. (Is He real? What is His character and nature? Is He active in our life? Etc.). They move to what we believe to be true about truth. (Is there absolute truth? What is its source? What do we believe about the Bible? Etc.) Then onward from there . . .

It is imperative that we begin with an accurate world view. If, for example, we don't recognize a spiritual realm that interacts with us then, based on what the Bible says (which I believe to be true) we will miss our real enemy, we will not recognize some things that the enemy is doing as works of the enemy, etc. For example, imagine how someone without room to recognize demonization would have treated the man in the tombs with the legion of demons that Jesus encountered. They'd medicate him into a stupor when his issue wasn't medical.

We can't help but process our world from the starting point of our world view, because we process our world from what we believe to be true about it. So, if you begin with a "no God" belief, or the belief that the earth must be vast ages of time old, then you are going to stretch and twist evidence to the contrary to fit your belief. That is one of the reasons that geology for so many decades practically labeled heretical any reference to catastrophes in nature (because it hit too close to the "flood" issue). But now, finally, geology is recognizing the major role of catastrophes in shaping the earth as we know it today.

That is also the reason that these finds of things in dino bones that couldn't last the ages of time they are claimed to be are causing such a ruckus. Because . . . if we are finding things in bones that could only be a few thousand years old . . . and we can't embrace a young earth . . . then we are going to desperately fight to find some other explanation. And, if you vehemently oppose God being a part of anything, then you will vehemently oppose anyone who might bring news that might include God. The result is that we force the evidence to fit our world view rather then draw our world view from the evidence.

Do young earth Creationists like myself do the same thing? At some level, absolutely. We start with a world view that the Bible is true, literal, etc. We look at the genealogies and other dates and date ranges and we determine that the Bible says the earth is around 6,000+ years old. Then, from this world view, we look at the evidence around us and see that for the most part it fits our world view nicely (much better, we believe, then the evidence supports an old earth). Do we have all the answers? No. Does everything fit our model perfectly? No. But it is impossible to escape a world view as the dominate influence on our perceptions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I Don't Understand . . .

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.    Deuteronomy 29:29 (ESV)
Recently I performed a service for a man who was killed in his early 50s in an accident. Ironically, he was a recent cancer survivor. I shared at the service that while it is tempting for Christians (especially if we are uncomfortable investing in someone) to throw some well-intentioned verses toward someone and expect (hope?) it makes it all OK, the reality is that short of a direct revelation from God this side of Heaven we won't understand things like that which happen all too often in this painful, broken world.

As I was in my reading through the Bible this morning I came across Deuteronomy 29:29. It comes after the people have been reminded of the blessings and curses of obedience and disobedience, and have renewed their covenant with God. I thought it captured so much of our life so well. The secret things belong to God. Those things we don't and won't understand. His ways are not our ways. He knows things we don't know. But, that we might stay in faith and not stumble, the things revealed (the things we DO know) belong to us are intended to keep us in faith and obedience.

I am reminded of Matthew 11:4–6. John the Baptist is in prison and he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" Jesus replies, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me" (ESV). The ASV version says, "And blessed is he, whosoever shall find no occasion of stumbling in me."

Keeping in mind that John declared who Jesus was, was there when the Father spoke about His Son, etc., it is an amazing (and confusing) moment, that John would then question if He was the One. Equally perplexing to me when I would read it was the last part of Jesus' response to him. But then one day a pastor I was listening to taught on how Jesus was the one supposed to set captives free, and here John was in jail and rightfully confused. He said Jesus was telling John, "Don't be caused to stumble because of what about Me you aren't understanding—what about Me doesn't match your expectations." That really spoke to me and I believe there has to be some truth in that interpretation.

I shared at the service that while I didn't understand a cancer survivor then dying in an accident a short time later, there were some things I did understand, and that it is those we must hold to and stand on. When I look to the cross I understand that God loves me. Because He loves me I understand that I can trust Him. When I look to the cross I understand that He wants to be with me, and I understand that He understands suffering and loss. And when I look to the empty tomb I understand that He is bigger than death.

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God . . ." Yes, there is much I don't understand. And God has revealed so much of Himself that I don't think it is wrong to seek to understand. Even Jesus, talking to Nicodemus, expressed that we must be born again as we can't understand the things of Heaven if we aren't. ("If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?" John 3:12)

". . . , but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." But not understanding must not cause me to stumble in my faith. My faith is anchored in what I do understand: He loves me; I can trust Him; He wants to be with me; He understands suffering and loss; He is bigger than death. Whenever I doubt these the cross and the empty tomb stand there reminding me I don't need to doubt them.

I believe that we, as Christians, must be OK with saying we don't understand something. It is so much better than trying to hide behind verses. And, when I am honest, while I'd love to understand everything, the reality is that if I could understand everything about God He'd be too small for me to trust Him with my life. He is God. He is holy. He breathes out stars and by His power not one is missing. He knows every hair on my head, and He has assured me I am more precious to Him than Creation. This I do understand and on this I must stand.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.   1 Corinthians 13:12
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.   Isaiah 55:8–9
All of this is not to say that we miss an attack of the enemy, or accept everything as God's will. Things do happen as a result of spiritual warfare, and of poor choices. We must be ready to recognize those things and take action when that is the case. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that our choices do matter—or else God would have no place to be angry with Israel for their choices, or to warn us about the consequences of certain choices, if everything happened by His doing. I am not saying we shouldn't examine things, or that we shouldn't be open to the Holy Spirit teaching us or showing us things, but I am saying that, when all that is said and done, and we find we still don't understand something, we need to be OK with the mystery of God and to not stumble because of it. We need to stand on (and trust in) what we do understand: He loves me; I can trust Him; He wants to be with me; He understands suffering and loss; He is bigger than death.


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