American Evangelicals’ Intellectual Inferiority Complex?

•May 21, 2012 • Comments Off on American Evangelicals’ Intellectual Inferiority Complex?

ImageThere’s  a lot of both good and bad in this, so please take it with a grain of salt…  However, I personally find this article’s juxtaposition of American Evangelicalism next to British Evangelicalism to be fascinating.  I particularly like the description of American Evangelicalism’s desperate attempt to justify the “reason” for faith, or the underlying motivation that Christians in America must get over their “intellectual inferiority complex.”  Is it crazy to believe the Bible as literal and still expect that the God of all order expects us to exercise logic at some level in our understanding of him?  I don’t find those ideas incongruent…  Maybe that makes me a product of my American Protestantism.  Not really sure.  Either way, here’s the link…

John Stott, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien: Why American Evangelicals Love the British

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Fine, take the crayons!

•March 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

My wife and I are expecting our second son to be born in about 8 weeks.  Yikes!!!  …and last night my son, Riley, attempted to break the world record for volume-while-having-a-temper-tantrum.  And over crayons of all things!  It reminded me of my responsibility to connect my sons’ hearts to their behavior.  And while this is a trick when they are 22 months and -2 months, God has really got me thinking.  Here’s some fantastic thoughts on the topic that God has used for me…

Tedd Tripp:

If the goal of parenting is no more profound than securing appropriate behavior, we will never help our children understand the internal things, the heart issues, that push and pull behavior. Those internal issues: self-love, rebellion, anger, bitterness, envy, and pride of the heart show our children how profoundly they need grace. If the problem with children is deeper than inappropriate behavior, if the problem is the overflow of the heart, then the need for grace is established. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and died as an infinite sacrifice so that children (and their parents) can be forgiven, transformed, liberated and empowered to love God and love others.

When we miss the heart, we miss the glory of God. The need of children (or adults) who have fallen into various forms of personal idolatry is not only to tear down the high places of the alien gods, but to enthrone God. Children are spring-loaded for worship. One of the most important callings God has given parents is to display the greatness, goodness, and glory of the God for whom they are made. Parents have the opportunity, through word and deed, to show children the one true object of worship—the God of the Bible. We know that the greatest delights our children can ever experience are found in delighting in the God who has made them for his glory.

Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Shepherd Press, 2005), xii

C.S. Lewis for Valentine’s Day

•February 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

 

 

I read this earlier today and though it was amazingly appropriate for Valentine’s Day.  I’m so grateful for the ways in which God’s love makes it possible for me to understand this.

“Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that his teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

“And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:9-10

Anyone for a Banquet

•January 14, 2012 • Comments Off on Anyone for a Banquet

I’ve been so blessed recently by some of the things I’ve heard from Francis Chan. If you are unfamiliar with him, Google him (or just click here). I just finished the book Erasing Hell just a few weeks ago and it was such an interesting read (I say interesting because of how painfully true it was… you can’t LOVE much about the subject matter).

However I do LOVE hearing contemporary pastors who are not apologizing for God, as if there is anything to explain away. It’s just the height of human arrogance to think that we are capable of making God more palatable for human consumption by explaining away things like his wrath, vengeance and plan to punish rebellion. It feels as if we’re afraid people will rebel against him harder if we talk about all the things he says about himself… but that’s just foolishness.

No, rather than shying away from the tough truths in Scripture I would rather they be spoken boldly while juxtaposed with consistent obedience to the commands to love. Francis Chan’s church recently did just that with his “banquet” for people who had nothing with which to repay the kindness (Luke 14:12-14).

Obviously, if all the world hears from us is fire and brimstone then our task of sharing God’s love with the world will be more difficult. But can we really think that our presentation of the truths of God is what convinces anyone to turn from their rebellion and accept his love? That is the task of the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit. Not ours. Speak the truth AND obey with love! (Romans 1:16; Ephs. 4:15)

Up Hill Both Ways

•December 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Does it ever bug you when someone tells you how easy you have it?  “When I started out I didn’t have all this fancy equipment…  When I was a kid I had to actually work if I wanted movie money…”  etc…  Not sure why, but I’ve always kinda had an aversion to that kind of stuff – even though I find myself guilty of it from time to time.  So you’ll have to forgive me, because I’m about to do it again.

My wife and I are currently looking for a church to attend since we just moved into a new area (I’ll tell you about that later) and need to put down some roots.  I love the Church and believe that God can and will use it to do spectacular things, even in America.  But that’s kinda the problem.  I think I’ve grown a little too “American” in my sense of what is and is not a productive, effective and even Godly church.  I find myself nit picking so many things as I visit these churches that are in theory small pockets of God-energized explosive life change.  The church should have this… the service should look more like that… why doesn’t this guy stop talking about the Eagles?

Why do I nit-pick?  Why have I become so disturbingly self-centered when it come to the church that I’m a part of?  If you’re honest with yourself, I think you’ll probably find this to be true for you too.  Here’s my point:  These types of small nit-picky things are all too often what concern me in my christian walk and my church interaction.  Today I read an article about a Christian woman in Pakistan that is going to die because one of her neighboring villagers didn’t want to drink water from the same container as a Christian.  She’s going to die.  And I’m worried about the lighting in a church service.  How messed up is that?

How easy we have it… Think about it.

Chinese Buffets and Radical Reformations

•June 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

One of my greatest weaknesses in life can be summed up in two words…  Chinese Buffets!  It’s impossible to NOT overeat at a Chinese Buffet.  It’s as if China had a big meeting and said to themselves, “Ok, what’s the slowest, most demoralizing, and effective means of marginalizing the American Cultural juggernaut?  I know!  General Tso’s Chicken! – That’s right, lets make them all so fat that they can’t get off the couch!”  I kid of course, China had nothing to do with it – we Americans (myself in specific) need no help in figuring out how to fill myself to the point of absurdity.  Anyway, I go fill my plate, eat, rinse, repeat… and repeat… and repeat.  I choose things I like, I try things I’ve never tried, and then there’s the inevitable plate at the end that is just for those items that I REALLY liked.  Buffets are great!  You can have exactly what you want, and nothing of what you don’t.  You just leave the stuff you don’t for the next guy, who for some reason actually goes to a Chinese buffet for stuffed clams.

In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul gives a pretty tough command to people like me.  He says “as you have obeyed in my presence, much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  Now I’m not going to get into the full theological scope of what exactly he is doing here, but the essence is – OBEY ME.  LIVE LIKE YOU’RE SAVED, live out the commands I have given to you!  And that’s where a lot of Christians get stuck at the buffet.  We love to see so many options and suggestions, but we don’t like it when Paul tells us, “hey, wait a minute!  you can’t skip over the stuffed clams!  Eat them, God put them there for a reason!”

Far too many Christians look at the Bible as a buffet.  A smorgasbord.  You can take the parts you like and leave the rest for the next guy. ” I like Jesus as a moral teacher, but I’m not really in the mood for Jesus as God.  I like the command to love your neighbor, but I”m not a big fan of the command to sacrifice my comfort sins.”  We look at our lives and see the mess and act like there’s nothing that can be done about it.  We’re a mess and that’s just the way it is.  I guess I’ll just ask God to bless it rather than try to actually align my life with God’s commands for how I SHOULD look/behave/believe.  I don’t have a choice in the matter.  God has given us commands for many reasons, many purposes, but ultimately it’s for his GLORY.  God is glorified by a people that does the work to take a hard look at their lives and realize that the Bible is calling for a radical reformation of “my person.”  I can’t just pick and choose what I want to obey.  In it’s essence that is the exact opposite of obedience.

Interpretive Gymnastics

•April 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I only recently began following the debate surrounding the firing of Dr. Bruce Waltke.  While it doesn’t necessarily surprise me, it certainly does sadden me.  The cavalcade continues of some Christians attempting to philosophically integrated contradictions they see between “science” and the Bible.  Specifically this relates to their understanding of Origins and Genesis 1-11.  Here’s the bottom line: Some Christians have bought into the idea that Evolutionists’ interpretation of the scientific evidence is indisputable, therefore, they argue, we must be fools to ignore the “Scientific” reasoning.  So they begin to seeks ways of reconciling what we see in scripture with what the world sees as truth in Science.  The gymnastics could win medals…  check this video out:

(click picture for link)

I find it just disturbing that in order to “save” Christian reasoning and theology from the attacks of those who would destroy us, some find it necessary to undermine the source of our reasoning…  “Well it really doesn’t say, what it says… ask an ancient, they’ll tell you.”  Come on, people.  If we are unable to understand ancients’ words because they’re more metaphorical than we give them credit for, then how can we be certain we have any concept of historicity in the old testament at all?  How can we be certain that Abraham almost sacrificed his son, if it may have all just been a metaphor?  How can we know that David took down a giant by the power of God if the language may just have been symbolic?  Can we really say we believe in literal interpretation (or inerrancey, or inspiration for that matter) if we condemn the first 11 chapters of Genesis due to Scientific incongruency?  The Bible is not a buffet.  We can’t take what we want and leave the rest due to our attempts to be sophisticated about which words are literal and which are “literal, but not really.”