When I was in High School and early college, I was in a Bible Study group for men my age. I remember when we were going through the Bible and we got to the Ten Commandments. We got to the fifth commandment of “Honor your father and mother.” Our leader asked us if our father or mother did anything that really annoyed us that made this commandment hard to follow.

This is something odd that has never left me. Every guy just started talking except every single thing that was said was said about mothers. My comment was that my mother would surgically glue herself to me if it was possible to which someone said, “Wow. That’d make for an awkward honeymoon.”

Ah! Mothers! Fortunately, my Mom has come to accept that I’ve become my own person more than she did then. She’s still got a way’s to go, but she’s more accepting today. Despite all that we said about our mothers, I have no doubt most of the guys have the same attitude that I do. We sure do love our mothers.

When Father’s Day comes around or my Dad’s birthday, I can usually spend about ten minutes and I know what I’m getting him. Mother’s Day? No way. I’ll spend hours at the mall for Mother’s Day and her birthday just trying to find a perfect gift. When I lived at home, I used to make it a practice of every now and then when I stopped to get gas, getting one of those little roses they have at gas stations and bringing it home for my Mom.

Does she absolutely drive me crazy sometimes still? You bet! There are times I just want to scream after talking to my mother. Still, I am always there to defend her if need be and I will not stop looking for a gift for her until I find the one that I think is perfect and I am willing to spend more on her than on most other people.

My mother works at a school and there was a time that a photographer came and made a rude comment about my mother. When his boss spoke to my mother he said, “Your husband and son have already called.” No one was going to say something negative about my mother and get away with it.

So today, I thought about what a blessing it is to have a mother. I thought about how there was a time when I was not and lo and behold, suddenly I was. That I began my existence as a single cell and for nine months, my mother carried me around inside of her until I came out to see the world.

It is through the guidance of my mother that I became who I was today. Of course, my Dad was involved, but today is to honor mothers. My mother was the nurturer mainly. When I was in the hospital for back surgery, she was the one that was by my bed making sure I was okay.

It sure is a blessing to have a mother. My mother has also encouraged me in the path that I have taken. I am an intellectual. I don’t mean this as negative about my mother, but she isn’t. She’s a simple lady who prefers watching HGTV (Which I don’t see how she stays awake) and reading books about topics like Amish life that are fictional.

Thus, I can’t really discuss philosophy and theology with her. I wouldn’t try to explain the inner dynamics of the Trinity. However, when I’ve preached, she’s often been the one that’s come forward at the end of the sermon with tears in her eyes. My mother is an awesome lady.

So today, I am thankful for Mother’s Day and that I have a Mom to celebrate it. Mom. If you ever read this, you know you drive me crazy and I still think you’re over-protective at times, but I do love you and I would do anything I could for you.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

Is Truth Real?

Now I hope most of you reading this title are saying “Well of course it is!” However, I ask the question not because I want the intellectual answer, but because I want the personal answer. I want to know what you think the truth is and then have you ask yourself if you live like that truth applies.

I’m one of those people that struggles with doubt a lot not so much in the area of my faith, but in the area of myself. I look at myself and wish I had more confidence in my own abilities, which is something my friends tend to know about me. I have said I have an inferiority complex the size of Texas and that I’m my own worst critic.

I’ve been thinking lately though that while I should have confidence in myself, I must be honest and realize that some doubt would be that of the message. It goes naturally because if you are hard on yourself, then in those times when you are, it is easy to be hard on what you believe as well.

I’ve thought back to the first sermon I ever preached at my current church. I preached on the topic of revolution. I don’t really like the word revival. It seems to imply to me that the church has died, and I refuse to accept that it has. Instead, I prefer to say “revolution.” I don’t mean the revolution where we take up physical arms, but the one where we take up intellectual and spiritual arms.

I have looked at Christianity and what it teaches and seen that I don’t see that happening. I conclude then that either Christianity is false or that we’re not living it. As an apologist, you can be sure that the one that I opt for is that we’re not living it. Why would we not be?

The honest answer is that we don’t really believe it as much as we say we do. We say that trust in Christ is the best way to live, but so many times, our lives deny that. We say that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, but are we really doing that when we go about our day?

A large part also is that the church today doesn’t even know what it believes. Next time you’re in the middle of singing a great hymn at church, be quiet. Really. Look at the words. Ask yourself, “Do I really believe these words I’m singing?” When you sing “It is well with my soul,” do you really believe that whatever comes your way, it will be well with your soul? (Look up the history of that song also to find out what circumstances led to its being written.)

Are you aware of how many Christians are ignorant about doctrines like the Trinity? To be blunt, how many Christians are just plain ignorant? You know how many people reject the faith because Christians are ignorant of it and can’t answer their questions. It doesn’t just hurt the lost. It hurts the Christians. The deeper you go into your faith, the more real it can become and the more you can enjoy it. Would you treat your spouse like you treat your faith? “Honey. I know all about you I want to know. There’s no need to tell me any more. Let’s just keep it at this level.” Nonsense!

It has been said that if Jesus was walking beside us one day, we’d all live different lives. Guess what. HE IS! Of course, you can’t see him, but he has said that he will be with us always, even unto the end of the age. He is there right now. God is here with us and is watching everything we do and every thought we think.

Why do we doubt him? It could be we don’t really live like he’s real. We’re professing Christians often and practicing atheists. We too often live like there is no God or worse, that we want to be God. Isn’t this what every sin is? Isn’t it saying “You don’t know what’s best for me God. I know what’s best for me.” In saying such, we are claiming to be greater than God. How dare we make such a claim!

What about the problem of evil? What do we do when we treat a situation as if God can’t handle it somehow that it will wind up with a happy ending even if it can involve some pain? We are living like atheists when we do such and yes, I am including myself within this number.

If only we would go through each day living with the reality that God is on the throne. Would we not be more confident knowing we are loved by the greatest of all and are thus capable? Would we not be secure knowing that he can handle any problem that comes our way? Would we not live lives of holiness knowing that he is the judge on the last day? Of course we’re saved, but do you really want to wrong the one you love? (Or profess to love.)

It all comes down to you and I and our response to the questions.

Is Christianity true?

If you said no, then I hope you’ll let me know and we can discuss it. If you said yes, then I have another question.

Why aren’t you living your life accordingly?

The Scandal of Christ

I was discussing matters with a friend tonight on how we treat different people groups. I started thinking then more about the scandal of Christ. I heard about a professor once at my old college who when asked about where Jesus would be if he came today replied, “He’d be in the old city during happy hour.”

I grew up in a society that was quite legalistic. Part of that is what led to intense depression when I was a teenager and which eventually got me into this field. I have since then become far more “scandalous” as some would say in my behavior. It is a practice of Christian liberty far greater than I had before.

Yet I thought that there are some people that today, I still sadly find myself looking down my nose at and sometimes thinking I’m much better than they are. There are some actions that I can still see people doing and just think “Well, if they’re Christians, they don’t take it seriously.” I’m still a work in progress.

Yet as I thought about this, I thought about the scandal that Christ would leave behind today.  If Christ dwelt among us today, I am sure he would be absolutely shocking to the huge majority of us Christians. It is doubtful that many of us would recognize him if we saw the way he acted.

Why shouldn’t we be surprised? If you told a first-century Jew that YHWH was dwelling in their midst as a human, if he even accepted your claim, it is not likely that he would think that YHWH would be dining with prostitutes and tax collectors. Obviously, YHWH would be with the most holy among the people.

It must be said that when Christ dwelt among the people, he was not approving the sins that they committed. Christ dining with a prostitute is not an endorsement of prostitution. However, Christ had a unique love for the person who was the prostitute without endorsing what she did.

Christ would rock our world today like he did the world of first century Palestine then. When God comes and dwells in your midst, there is no telling what might happen. The things you might rack yourself with guilt over, he might embrace laughingly and tell you that you’ve been worrying about nothing. The things you consider innocent he might condemn as wicked.

What’s the solution then to being on the right side? It is to learn to walk as Jesus walked. It is in learning to enjoy that which God enjoys and love that which he loves. It is in realizing that all that you value is ultimately to find its focal point in him. Why value your spouse? Because relationality and sexuality and creation of life are good things. Where are those found? They are found in the nature of God.

King Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, “Will God dwell among men?” He did, and the world was not ready. Today though, we are his body, and we are to walk as he did. Let’s be sure that we are.

Megalomaniacal God?

I’m sure there were a lot of readers who watched the debate done with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort last night. I was not one of them. I worked late and I didn’t really have much interest in this one. From what I’ve heard, it was probably a good thing I did miss it. If I can, I will try to track down the questions posed and answer them here. From what I understand though, this was one of the more popular ones.

There was a lady who complained about God being a megalomaniac who creates us to worship him and essentially, stroke his ego, and that she would rather burn in Hell before she would spend eternity with a God like that. How can anyone not see this as cruel and tyrannous?

My first response naturally is, “By what standard does she condemn this action?” I do realize though that beyond that, there are several Christian theists who might wonder about this question. Is God being a megalomaniac? Does he create us and say “Worship me or burn?” (For the record, while I believe in Hell, I do not subscribe to the fiery furnace view.)

The problem is that we view God as being exactly like ourselves too often. We think that it’s always wrong to want glory and honor. Is it though? Do we condemn a sports superstar who rightfully deserves the praise given? Don’t we have ceremonies in many areas and places honoring those who stand out above the rest?

Indeed, giving someone glory is not always a bad thing, especially if they deserve it. I also don’t think it’s wrong to seek honor. In fact, Aquinas considered honor as one of the things that is the greatest good in life, the sunnum bonum. He rejected it ultimately, but he did consider it and he did say it is a good thing. Would it be better to say “I really want to be hated in my field someday!”

However, what if we reversed things? What if we realized that God doesn’t do this for his benefit because he has all already. How can he be bettered? What can I give God that will make him better than he was? It is imperative to realize this grace of God in that we come to him and give him nothing and he gives us everything.

Man was made to glorify God for man was made to reflect God and in reflecting God not only do we glorify him, but we become more ourselves as well. Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up. Whoever humbles himself, will be exalted. Rest assured, if you exalt yourself, you will be humbled. If both come either way, it is best to choose the former.

God is not bettered by our worship. The Trinity lived in happy and loving unity long before we ever came along. Instead, it is we who are benefited. By worshiping, we become more human than we were before and we become more that which reflects his nature. It is the due glory that we give God as well. It’s what he deserves simply because of who he is.

So no, it is not megalomaniacal, which cannot be condemned anyway in moral relativism. It is a just response from a creature who realizes the truth. If the truth is that God created us and loves us and we are bettered for exalting him, then let us exalt him. If it is the truth, we should believe it, regardless of rather or not we like it.

Unfortunately, many will probably be like this lady and say they would rather go to Hell. No doubt, some will. I can only pray that maybe for writing this, maybe one less person will go.

Real Revival

Sorry faithful readers, but the net wasn’t too kind last night and when I finished writing my blog, it just wouldn’t load. Thus, I’m here up early in the morning before leaving for work to write the blog. I see no reason at the moment why there won’t be a blog tonight though so let’s get back on schedule.

Yesterday at work, I see that there is a TV on with a minister speaking and I start paying close attention. Before too long, I see that he’s selling what he calls “Blood of Jesus Oil” along with a packet of 100 emergency Scripture passages. An example was used of a girl who was said to be demon-possessed (Although the only evidence I saw was that she felt like she was) and how the oil delivered her. I was thinking she only traded one magic for another kind.

Of course, the gospel is not magic. However, to use an item like that and expect the supernatural must respond is. In many ways, it seems like Scripture has then become a spell book of sorts. You’re not feeling happy today? Quote passage X of the Scriptures and watch your troubles flee. Counselors know better. A lot of Christians have been hurt by well meaning others who just say “Go read your Bible and pray.”

Another account came later of a man who was said to have been blind and then at the age of 75, he now has his driver’s license. I’m skeptical of this one as well, but let us get to the main point. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that this is really a miracle and he has been healed by supernatural power.

So what?

Some people are shocked that I’d say that. I’m thankful it’d give evidence of the supernatural, but I don’t see any reason to heed such an event. If I’m looking at a ministry that is claiming miracles, I think it’s best to look at what they teach first. Does it match that which I find in Scripture?

Scripture warns me enough times to be on the lookout for those who perform miracles but are not in the truth. Christ warns us to be on the look out for false signs and false Christs. He also tells us that many will claim to have done miracles and wonders but in the end, they never knew him. Naturally, I can’t speak for the salvation of anyone in the account I saw, but it is a warning to consider.

Miracles are not the sign that God is working. He can work through miracles, but they are not the proof. What is the best sign of God working? Simple. It’s Christlikeness. When the church gets to where it starts walking and living more like Christ, then we can be sure that God is working.

Our enemy is said to be able to produce false signs and wonders. There is one thing though that he cannot produce. He cannot produce saints. When Christians start being the saints that they already are, then we can be sure that it is God working in their lives. It is not miracles that will impress the world to the degree of faith. It is walking as Jesus did. Those who followed the miracles of Christ left when it got hard. Those who followed him stayed.

So do I need to go out and buy some oil that’s mass-produced in a factory somewhere and given a spiritual name to sell? No. Neither do you. You and I have the Scriptures and the example of Christ and the fellowship of one another. This is all we need in order to start our goal of Christlikeness.

I’ll take that over miracle oil any day.

The Right To Judge

It’s been my day off, so my day starts off with being on my computer and since I like gameshows, I watch The Price Is Right and I usually watch Montel before that. Lo and behold, today on Montel they have a couple on there that is a playboy couple. They both have affairs outside of their relationship. (I say relationship. They’re not married yet.)

Someone in the audience decides to speak. I admire this guy’s passion, but he needs zeal according to knowledge. He immediately starts off by telling them that they’re living in sin and the Bible says that the soul that sins it will die. Yes. I agree with the message. However, I think most in the world today cast aside that message.

The guy in the relationship on stage responded though saying he was a Catholic and gave two passages with Jesus speaking telling where they were located. (Conveniently he leaves out those passages about sexual immorality.) I heard the remark of “I have a relationship with the Lord, and I’m glad you’re not his spokesperson.” (Apparently, this man was claiming a correct interpretation though to know the other man’s was wrong. I look back and note he never denied it was sin. It was simply, “Don’t judge.”)

Later today, I stop at a gas station to get gas. I’m paying and I put my book on the counter that I have with me. It’s J. Budziszewski’s work “Written on the Heart: The Case For Natural Law.” The girl at the counter asks me if that’s interesting. I tell her that it is and I decide to toss something out to see how far it will go and say “It’s about how man has some basic ideas of morality and how some things are absolutely right and some things are absolutely wrong and we all know it.”

She smiles and tells me that that’s true. Really good sign I think. So I say “It’s amazing how many people deny that though. I’ve had some people tell me that we can’t really call the VTech shootings evil for instance. They just didn’t like them.” I get the response then of “Yeah. We can’t really judge that though. That belongs to one person.”

I’m stunned. I want to scream and wonder if this lady recognizes the contradiction. If some things are absolutely right and some absolutely wrong and we know that, then surely we can have some distinctions. If what happened at VTech wasn’t evil, then could someone please tell me what is?

I got in my car with my friend and told him my lament. We in America have lost the idea of judgment. Tolerance has become the main virtue. The F word has been replaced to be Fundy and the S word has been replaced to be Sin. The only crime today is to not be tolerant. The only judging that is allowable is that of judging judgmentalism.

We have a right to judge, and we need to get back to that judging. Now I can’t judge some things such as motives of people unless I know them, but I can sure judge their actions. I can judge that what the VTech shooter did was evil. I can judge that a mother taking care of her child instead of aborting it is right.

If we can’t make these simple moral decisions, is it any wonder that our world today exists in such moral chaos? Is it any wonder we fudge on abortion and homosexuality and other issues? Is it any wonder that we become a people who live only by feelings and seeking the next best feeling?

This girl I spoke to was a theist seeing as she says judgment belonged to one person. But what is God judging? He’s judging good and he’s judging evil. If he is judging such, then they must exist. If they exist, then is there any reason we cannot know what they are? Especially since he tells us to pursue one and shun the other, surely he expects us to know the difference.

What do I say? Pray first. We need to pray the prayer of boldness that we will be willing to act and to speak. Act. That’s the second thing. We need to act. John 3:16 used to be the most quoted Bible verse. Today, it’s “Judge not.” We have switched from the love of God being the gospel to “Be nice to one another and don’t hurt their feelings” being the gospel.

It’s a disgrace to the gospel and it’s a disgrace to our neighbor. It is neither loving God nor our neighbor and it needs to be changed.

A Real Response To Christ

I was discussing with some co-workers today matters of theology and specifically Christology. We were discussing the response to Christ and someone said that the Jews tend to see Jesus as a good person. A lot of them do, but I pointed out that the Talmud was not too keen on Jesus and there are even writings I recall of seeing pieces of where Jesus burns in Hell in excrement.

I thought about what I had just said then. Of course, I disagree with it, but I also thought “That’s a very real response though.” I thought about how we might not be taking Jesus seriously in his claims and recalled the trilemma of C.S. Lewis. A good man would not go around claiming to be God.

It seems we have gone a long way when Jesus’s words no longer shock us. As Lewis reminds us, they were the most shocking words ever uttered by human lips, yet on the lips of Jesus, they seem appropriate. Of course, his opponents didn’t think so, but there were several who did.

Who is the one who really responds to Jesus then? Well, the proper response of course is to fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but I actually think a closer response today is to revile him as wicked and evil. I think such people are closer to the truth than the ones who merely see him as a good man. The latter ones do not even understand his claims so they do not understand him. The former at least understand the claims. They just disagree. It is simply a matter of changing the position on the claims.

To see him as a good man is to easily dismiss all that he said. It is to make Jesus being merely one who teaches us that we ought to love one another. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew better. None of them walked around saying “This Jesus is a wicked and evil soul, but I sure love his ethics!” Or “He is insane, but he has such a loving attitude!”

No. We cannot agree with how they handled it, but let us be sure of one thing, they took him seriously. It is a shame that we in the modern church do not do such. We hardly stop to think “Wait a second! This guy claimed to be God! What does that mean?” The truth of the earthquake of the gospel should still send us aftershocks and I think a good question to ask would be “Why doesn’t it?”

Indeed, it’s time we read the gospels and looked serious at what was said. The most amazing event ever happened. God came down. However, today, we treat it as if it’s a nice bedtime story. Sure. Read it to your kids at night and tell them the truth, but never think this is just kid stuff. This is stuff that is meant to change everything.

And if it doesn’t change everything for you, then something’s wrong.

Framing the Debate

I was in a debate tonight and we got to the topic of morality. Why does God allow X? What about the morality of such and such a situation? I think these are interesting debates, but I would encourage someone to go along one path when in this debate because it’s easy to discuss secondary issues before primary ones.

When discussing morality, it is often easy to talk past your opponent. I believe the first thing to settle is your opponent’s view of morality. You simply ask by what standard you differentiate between good and evil. This gets us to the first level of the topic and once that gets settled, you can discuss the secondary issues.

In fact, this is a great way to deflate a lot of atheistic arguments as I have yet to see an objective standard of morality in atheism. They may have a system of ethics, but I see no reason why I should follow such a system. It is best to take it back to the bare bones before discussing the OT slaughters and such.

I’ve written little tonight, but I was a bit inconvenienced tonight and just wanted to leave a quick apologetics tip. I hope to write more tomorrow night.

Where Do You Want A Miracle From?

After talking to a friend last night, I went to bed with a lot to think about. I thought about how I want only the blessings of God. (Or should at least.) I thought about how the world can offer so much. For instance, if I wanted to and I mean really wanted to, I could go out on the streets tonight and lose my virginity.

I thought then about living in the path God has set for us. This is the way. Walk ye in it. Do not move either to the right or to the left. That’s so hard for us. We find it hard to trust God. He says that when we walk through the waters, they will not sweep over us, and when we walk through the fires, they will not burn us. It’s easy to say when you’re not suffering, but when you are, that’s a hard promise to believe.

So last night, I went to bed with this prayer. It’s not exact, but this is generally what I prayed.

I would rather have misery with God than happiness with Satan.

I would rather have poverty with God than wealth with evil.

I would rather be alone with God than in the company of several beautiful ladies in darkness.

I would rather be a fool with God than a genius apart from him.

I would rather agonize with Christ than thrive without him.

This makes me think about the temptation. All that Christ was tempted with were really good things, but he refused them. Why? He had to stay on the path. What does he do? He calls me to walk in that same path. He calls me to take his hand and go with him in trust. I am not to seek the easy way out. I am to walk.

I am to see life as it truly is. As the hymn says “This is my Father’s world.” If it is his world, why should I fear? I can either have the fear of the Lord or the fear of the world, and it would be better to have the fear of the Lord, for the Lord is greater than the world that he created.

Am I against the good things? Not at all! God created all things richly for our enjoyment as 1 Tim. 6:17 says. However, I would rather not have them and have God than have all of them and not have God. What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?

Thus, I continue my goal to seek him more. Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. He then gives me the blessing that all of these things will be added to me. God knows what I need and he knows what I want. Why not simply trust him with those by walking in the path that he has prescribed?

There’s no better place to be after all.

Your Life….And…..ACTION!

I was going to write on something else tonight, I developed a headache as the night went on and I really don’t want to do a lot of research at this point, so I’m writing on another topic. It came to me as I was listening to a modern scholar audio series on my car on the way home. (For the record, Modern Scholar is awesome and I find my drives have been far more constructive since listening to them.)

I’ve been listening to one called “He said/She said” and it’s on the way men and women tend to communicate differently. I find the topic fascinating and as an example, the professor used a scene from a documentary on the Loud family. Now I wasn’t around when this documentary was shot and I’ve never seen it, but I’m sure several have. It was just your typical family where they filmed their daily lives and made a story out of it.

I listened and I was intrigued and then realized that I was being intrigued by a simple conversation. This conversation was no different than one that might happen in many other househoulds. In fact, it might have happened in yours. However, I was an outsider looking in this time and got to see it from a new experience.

I thought about that and wondered about the shows we see on TV today. How many of our lives at home and at work could be turned into a sitcom if we wanted because real life itself is funny and we say and do amusing things? Your situations may not be exactly the same as those on a sitcom, but surely some similarities can be found.

Smallville is my show to watch. Now our lives most likely don’t involve supervillains and saving the world and stopping bad guys in town, but do our lives not have drama? Do we not have cliffhangers be they a doctor’s note or a possible job loss or a financial burden? Maybe from time to time, we do deal with a villain also be it a physical threat or maybe someone who is just insulting to us.

Perchance if we could see our lives from that perspective, we might see what is interesting and exciting. No doubt, our lives aren’t going to be perfect here, but they can be interesting and exciting. In fact, if we are believers in Christ, we should see that life is the great adventure he’s placed us in and to live it is a gift.

So what if you could see that video tape? What if the cameras were rolling? You might change some bad habits and such. We all probably would. However, you might sit back some and laugh at yourself. You might think that maybe your life is more interesting than you thought it was.

Take this to the next level also. Imagine viewing your life in Heaven and this time, getting to see all the ways God was working and you didn’t even know it. Consider the book of Esther. God is never mentioned once, but is it a mere coincidence that the king was troubled by insomnia?

Friend. Your life is interesting. Why? God is in control, and God is an author who enjoys his work. Look for the good. Correct the bad, but enjoy the good as well.