Medicine for Anxious Souls

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"No anxiety ought to be found in a believer, because we have a Father in heaven who is almighty, who loves His children as He loves His only begotten Son." –George Mueller

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." -Jesus (Matt. 6:31-33)


Marketing Madness

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mark Galli of Christianity Today has written a clever article parodying modern church marketing "experts." He imagines what sort of advice a marketing consultant might have offered the leaders of the early church. Here's an excerpt:

First, you need to decide on a logo quickly. Some in your movement are suggesting the cross, no doubt the same group who can't keep quiet about the crucifixion of your founder. This would be a disastrous move in our view. We'd want to do some focus groups to determine the best logo, and no, that does not come cheap. But it is well worth the investment, believe us.

As for your name, that too will take some concerted research. We recommend in the interim that you stay away from "Christians," as that will only remind people of your founder and his gruesome death. We think "Followers of Jesus" would work, as it would focus on the life of your founder and emphasize his ethical genius. It would also downplay redemptive religion, with all its talk of sin and repentance, as well as that business about his coming again (such speculative theology will do your movement no good, in our opinion). "Followers of Jesus" is also vague enough to leave room for the imagination, allowing you to shape the movement according to the felt needs of your target audience.

You'll want to read the whole thing. It's thought provoking.


Deadly Substitutes for God

Friday, August 20, 2010

"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.

"Jesus said some people hear the word of God, and a desire is awakened in their hearts. But then, 'as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life' (Luke 8:14). In another place he said, 'The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful' (Mark 4:19). 'The pleasures of this life' and 'the desires for other things' - these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts from God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God."

–John Piper (A Hunger for God, pp. 14-15)


On Missing Pointers to God

Friday, August 13, 2010

"You will have noticed that most dogs cannot understand pointing. You point to a bit of food on the floor; the dog, instead of looking at the floor, sniffs at your finger. A finger is a finger to him, and that is all. His world is all fact and no meaning. And in a period when factual realism is dominant we shall find people deliberately inducing upon themselves this doglike mind."

-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (reprint: New York: HarperOne, 2001), p. 114.

HT: Justin Taylor


Some Conversation About California Judge's Recent Decision Concerning Same-Sex Marriage

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yeah, those partisan ideologues sat through all that testimony and didn't even have the decency to conclude that individual freedom wasn't worth protecting.
First blacks were allowed to wed and now this? Falwell must be rolling over in his grave.
Quote Originally Posted by .....................
I'm really confused on why it matters if two men get married? Last time I knew there aren't groups of gay men running house to house forcing straight to marry them. I just don't really care about the gay marriage debate. I'm much more concerned with the illegal immigration. Maybe California can concentrate on that for a while
Quote Originally Posted by ...................
This isn't a gay or straight issue. It's a question of basic equal treatment under the law.
The above quotes are from some interaction I've had on another website concerning this judge's recent decision to overturn Proposition #8 in California, which was a voter approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Below are some of my comments, explaining my position. No doubt, my conversation with these individuals will continue, and perhaps I will post more of it for you at a later date. I'm hoping this will be helpful to you as you think through this issue and find yourself conversing and debating with others who see it differently. My desire is to hold my ground while displaying the grace and love of Christ in the process.
Here is how I responded:

1. In our society we prohibit certain behaviors that are deemed to be destructive to the over all well-being of our society. These decisions seem to be based on religious teachings as well as CENTURIES of evidence that prove their destructive nature. For example, even though some think it is their right to do these things, and that its nobody else's business if they do, we still prohibit: 1) Men from having sex with and marrying under-aged girls 2) Men having sex with and marrying animals 3) Men marrying multiple women (polygamy), etc... Do I need to keep going?

2. These decisions are based on religious teachings that have been tested and proved in society after society. In fact, there are numerous case studies where the evidence suggests strongly that when these lines are crossed and these social taboos are challenged and changed, it is only a matter of time before the society implodes from its own rottenness.

3. The other reason this should be an issue is because one of the main arguments for the legalization of gay marriage involves agreeing with the unproven premise that "gay" people are born this way, and that this in effect means they have no choice in this behavior. Well, many, many Americans simply don't buy this argument at all, and for good reason. Once this premise is accepted, where does it stop? What happens when enough perverted people decided to begin gathering, marching, demonstrating, etc.. for their "right" to have sex with and marry their horses? This is why it is both dishonest and manipulative to try to suggest that this issue for "gays" is equal to the struggle that blacks had in our nation to gain their freedom and rights. Last time I checked, black people were born that way. No wonder the GLB groups have tried for so long to "prove" they "can't help being gay."

Homosexual activity is sin according to God, just like adultery is sin, just like lying is sin, just like having sex with a dog is sin, just like envy is a sin, just like hatred is a sin, etc... I say this so that it be known I'm not a "gay basher" because I disagree with this decision, and this may be true for others as well. I just happen to believe (as do many others) that the behavior is sinful and it is harmful to our society to officially endorse the behavior. But, I don't think its any more sinful than lying, stealing, cheating, envying, etc., which I have done all those things in my life at one time or another. So, I certainly don't feel that I'm better than someone who participates in homosexual behavior.


Is Doubt Essential to Faith?

Last week the religion section of the Washington Post featured an article by Jason Boyett, a Southern Baptist author and speaker. In the article, titled “The Doubting Christian,” Boyett admits, “There are some days when I'm not entirely sure I believe in God.” The point of his article is to encourage Christians to embrace their doubting. His conclusion:

“Deep in this valley of doubt, I still call myself a Christian and try to serve others, love my enemies, and otherwise live like a follower of Jesus...even on the days agnosticism looks inviting. Even on the days I labor to reconcile evolution with the Bible. Even on the days I'm not certain God exists. I'm a big, fat doubter, and I'm learning to be okay with that.”
Unfortunately, Boyett reflects the modern world's understanding of the concept of faith, but not the Bible's teaching of the concept of faith. He writes:

“Our mistake is that we view doubt and faith as opposites. I grew up thinking of "faith" as the ability to believe in certain presuppositions--that God exists or that Jesus died for my sins. If I could mentally assent to that checklist, I had faith. If I struggled with those beliefs, then I had doubt. Faith and doubt couldn't coexist.

“I've spent three decades learning I was wrong. Doubt is essential to faith. Faith, by definition, requires uncertainty.”
This is a sad but common misunderstanding. The Bible says the opposite is true: "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see." (Heb 11:1)

To the modern world (and Boyett), faith means I'm banking on something that I'm pretty sure is reliable, but not certain. For example, the coach of the Detroit Lions might say, "I have faith in my team, and I think we're going to the Super Bowl." (Hmm....) However, according to Scripture, faith means I clearly see realities that unbelievers are blind to, I embrace those realities, and I am motivated to act according to those realities.

What does Scripture Say?

According to Hebrews 11, faith is our spiritual eyes (the eyes of our understanding) being opened to see spiritual (invisible) realities:
• "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see." (Heb 11:1)
• "By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God's command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible." (Heb 11:3)
• "These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them." (Heb 11:13)
• "By faith [Moses] left Egypt without fearing the king's anger, for he persevered as though he could see the one who is invisible." (Heb 11:27)

True believers may be uncertain about where the life of faith will lead them on earth, but they are certain about their eternal reward:
• "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going.... For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb 11:8, 10)
• Moses "regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward." (Heb 11:26)

Christian Doubters

I am not saying that a true Christian will never struggle with doubt. True believers often have times of doubt and struggle. Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith,” includes individuals who had times of severe unbelief. Abraham lied (twice) about his relationship with his wife, for fear of being killed. Sarah laughed when told she would conceive at 90 years old. Many Christians have been encouraged in their struggles by the honest cry in Mark 9:24: “I believe; help my unbelief!”

But doubt is not “essential to faith.” Doubt is the opposite of faith and is overcome by faith.

Certainly I would encourage fellow believers to be open about their doubts. It’s okay to ask questions. It would be wrong of me (or any Christian) to demonize or reject an honest doubter. But the way to help doubters is not to celebrate their doubting (as Boyett does), but to help them combat their doubts with the sure promises of Scripture. Ultimately, the problem with Boyett’s article is its complete failure to point doubters toward God’s Word. In fact, he lists a Bible verse (James 1:6) as a “culprit”! I much prefer the perspective of the old hymn: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!”

To me, Boyett’s article is just another example of unhelpful, unbiblical, postmodern drivel. For example, consider his statement: "Answering 'I don't know' to most religious questions isn't just honest, but humble." If the religious questions he's referring to are questions the Bible clearly answers, then answering "I don't know" is sinful, not humble. Reminds me of G. K. Chesterton's statement: “A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed."1

This is Practical Stuff

What I'm arguing for is vital in the Christian walk. Boyett states, "These days, if I have faith, it's in my willingness to follow the teachings of Christ despite my hesitations. Faith, for me, is action." This is dreadful counsel. For me, the opposite is true. If I have hesitations regarding the truth of God, Christ, salvation, and eternity, I am much more likely to sin. If I doubt even for a minute the truth of the Bible, I am 100 times more likely to give in to temptation. "If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (1 Cor 15:32). 100% certainty in the truth of God and eternal life is our most powerful defense against temptation. This is what it means to "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph 6:16). However, it is important to remember that our hope of salvation is not in our ability to believe and never doubt, but in Christ our perfect substitute.

Are you struggling in your faith right now? Consider “doubting your doubts.”2 What is your ultimate authority? What is the source of your perception of reality – your doubts or God’s Word? Pray for eyes to clearly see His truth and His promises. “Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe” (John 20:27).
God makes faith solid/ it's not a blind leap, it's an anchor attached to a rock, it's/ God promise on top of an oath/ the evidence of the things unseen the substance of hope// provable and immutable/ absolute truth as usual it's still irrefutable/ God's perspective the true objective/ no other document should be as highly respected
-Stephen the Levite, "What's Your Proof?"
1. Orthodoxy, pp. 27-28.
2. Tim Keller, The Reason for God, p. xviii


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