Monday, January 28, 2008

You Know How that Happens, Don't You?

A while back, my wife and I announced that were are expecting our fifth child. With each of the last 3 pregancies, I've had numerous people ask me, "You know how that happens, don't you?" This question is all meant in fun, but if you get to the root of it, it sounds as if the questioner is wondering if we should be having another baby. I'm sure my friends don't mean it that way, but the question appears ask "why aren't you preventing this?", as if having a child is some sort of curse. For me, this will be my eighth child (3 from a previous marriage), so of course some of my well meaning friends think I'm nuts. To many of us men who have been affected by the world's mentality, children are a curse. I plan on posting more of this some other day.
So, for now, I'm trying to come up with a good witty reply to those who ask me that dreaded question, "You you how that happens, don't you?". Here are my replies:
10. Yeah, I know how...shame on me!
9. I know what you mean! My life is just going to be ruined!
8. You mean I could have prevented this?
7. I remember some lesson in my 9th grade health class had something to do with it.
6. No, my parents never had "that talk" with me.
5. Yes, but those things make me itch.
4. Yeah, I know how, but my wife doesn't.
3. Are you going to tell me?
2. How what happens?
1. Yes, I do know, and it is a lot of fun!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Song for Sunday....Grace Unmeasured

by Bob Kauflin
This is the song that I read the words to at my Grandfather's memorial service. It can be found on this cd.

Verse 1
Grace unmeasured, vast and free
That knew me from eternity
That called me out before my birth
To bring You glory on this earth
Grace amazing, pure and deep
That saw me in my misery
That took my curse and owned my blame
So I could bear Your righteous name

Grace paid for my sinsAnd brought me to life
Grace clothes me with powerTo do what is right
Grace will lead me to heavenWhere I’ll see Your face
And never cease To thank You for Your grace

Verse 2
Grace abounding, strong and true
That makes me long to be like You
That turns me from my selfish pride
To love the cross on which You died
Grace unending all my days
You’ll give me strength to run this race
And when my years on earth are through
The praise will all belong to You

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Song for Sunday....From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable

by Stuart Townend

A few months ago, I purchased Stuart Townend's CD entitlted The Best of Stuart Townend Live. It is incredible and has only been out of my CD player a few times. You can buy it here.
This is one of my favorite songs on the cd.

From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable

From the squalor of a borrowed stable
By the Spirit and a virgin's faith;
To the anguish and the shame of scandal
Came the Saviour of the human race!
But the skies were filled with the praise of heaven,
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the Gift of God come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel.

King of heaven now the Friend of sinners,
Humble servant in the Father's hands,
Filled with power and the Holy Spirit,
Filled with mercy for the broken man.
Yes, He walked my road and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;
Yet His righteous steps give me hope again -
I will follow my Immanuel!

Through the kisses of a friend's betrayal,
He was lifted on a cruel cross;
He was punished for a world's transgressions,
He was suffering to save the lost.
He fights for breath, He fights for me,
Loosing sinners from the claims of hell;
And with a shout our souls are free -
Death defeated by Immanuel!

Now He's standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own belov├Ęd
Till His Father calls to bring them home!
Then the skies will part as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the Bride will run to her Lover's arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Necessity and Danger of Apologetics

For practical purposes, in this discussion, I'm going to define Apologetics as the verbal defense of the Christian faith. I understand that in a much broader sense, the way we live our life is a way of showing that God is who he said he is and is an apologetic, but in this discussion, I want to discuss the verbal aspect of communicating the gospel, since the spoken Word is vital in new believers coming to faith.
Last night, I heard a kind professor point out that many of his students can't defend their Christian faith to him, and they often call their pastors to come and go after him. I believe one of the biggest problems in the church today is a lack of desire to be able to defend our faith. I remember many years ago, being in a small group setting where someone said, "in sharing our faith, we don't need to worry about knowing the answers, we just need to show them Jesus". Although, I can appreciate the spirit in what this person said, I believe that many in the church are just down right lazy in believing that if they just live their life properly, then people will come to Christ. 1 Peter 3:15 says:
always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Does that mean that a believer will have an answer to every single question that an unbeliever might throw at them? Of course not. However, I believe that that many if not most believers don't love God's word enough to feel the need to study and defend it. To many, that job is for the seminarians and academics. This is sad and more pastors and churches need to be urging their people to study and search out answers to the tough questions.
Now, for most of you reading my blog (I know who you are!), up until this point, I'm assuming that you are agreeing with me. I'm probably preaching to the choir. However, let me now talk about what may offend you. I believe to those of us who think apologetics is important, we need to be careful to not give it too much importance. Apologetics can easily become a form of idolatry. There are three ways I think this Idolatry can manifest itself.
One way I've seen apologetics idolatry manifest itself is that the apologist actually starts to believe that a persons salvation is contingent upon logic. It seems that quite often the apologist begins to believe that if his argument is good enough, then the unbeliever will get saved. This is not meant to downplay the importance of logic, but we need to remember that logic is primarily an instrument of the mind. I do affirm that part of the sanctification process is a renewal of the mind (Romans 12:1), however the key to salvation is receiving a new heart and we need to remember that God is the only one who can grant a new heart. I've seen plenty of unbelievers that have no issues with our message, and it even makes logical sense to them, however, their hearts still remain unchanged. They understand who God is and what Christ has done, yet they don't value God. They need a heart change. And this is where I think we need to be very careful. Yes, we need to be ready with answers, but we also need to fall on our knees and plead with the Lord to change the hard heart. Instead, the apologist often spends his too much of his time looking for a logical answer and for a way to convince the unbeliever. We need to realize that we are only an instrument, and yes we need to be prepared, but it is God alone that wins a man to Himself.
Another way that apologetics idolatry manifests itself is that it becomes an academic endeavor rather than an endeavor to bring glory to God. To the unbeliever, our apologetic efforts often (or should I say "usually"?), appear to be an attempt to show how smart we are and how stupid the atheist is. And I would also say, that is probably usually the goal of the atheist debating the Christian. In participating in apologetic debate, we need to be careful to make sure that our motives are to bring glory to God, and not to win an argument. There just seems to be such a fine line there. To the Christian apologist, his motives may truly be to bring glory to God, but despite his best efforts, it can appear to the unbelievers that he is just trying to make his opponent look foolish (even though his opponent probably is!). Too often though, the Christian apologist becomes too focused on winning the debate rather than his words and attitude bringing glory to God. If our apologetic endeavors have any motivation rooted in winning the debate, then it is idolatry. May our debate be filled with grace and may our loved for lost people be evident in our speech.
Finally, too often a witty apologetic is trusted more than our prayers. None of us would say that, but our actions speak louder. The wise apologist, would spend an equal time praying for the Lord to change hardened hearts as he would studying to come up with good answers. We need to be praying for lost souls.
Some of you reading this, may be attending or participating in an upcoming debate at our local university. I plead with each of you, that we begin to pray now for the lost souls who will be attending. Let us pray that the words spoken by our side, be words used of the Lord to change the hardend hearts. Let us pray that our words will be full of grace. Let us resolve that no one in attendance leave, believing that we are trying to win an argument but rather let them leave saying "Their God is marvelous!". Let our apologetic efforts not become a form of idolatry and let us repent of ways that it has become idolatrous.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You’re In The Fight of “Their” Lives

My good friend, Reggie, has an excellent article that is a must read for all parents:

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins writes, “Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought about?”

In our generation, it isn’t enough for 21st century atheists to live their own lives without a divine compass. Acknowledging impotence in the fight to re-educate adults, modern atheists have now turned their sights on the next generation, separating children from their parent’s belief system and worldview. And you’d probably be amazed at some of the things they’re saying. Here’s a sampling to let you know that you are in the fight of your life for your children’s lives.

Read the whole article here

Monday, January 14, 2008

Making His Name Known in Mexico

Over the last couple of years, my job has taken me to a couple of citys that are close to our country's border with Mexico. On every occassion, I've taken the opportunity to walk across the bridge in order to do grab some souveniers to take home to my family. I've always been struck by the poverty I've seen and I've been burdened for the true Gospel to be presented to the people there. This past September, the last time I was there, by God's providence, my job circumstances brought me into contact with a mission organization in southwest Texas. Upon hearing that we were believers, they volunteered to take us on a one day mission trip across the border. Of course I saw a massive amount of poverty.
One of the big concerns about ministry in Mexico is what appears to me to be a quick hurried through gospel presentation with the goal of getting as many people possible to raise their hands or come forward. Also, the prosperity gospel message is being taught. With many of the preachers and pastors, there seems to be a fascination with the charasmatic gifts at the expense of a fascination of the miracle of spiritual re-birth.
Well, one I came back home, I kept thinking about how I wish I could do something to help spread a passion for God and His Word in Mexico. Although the people with the organization I went with were nice, I had some concerns. So, just out of curiosity sake, I decided to just start searching the internet. It didn't take long to find this blog. I began to read and it seemed as if this guy had been doing some mission work right in the same area I had been, and it seemed as though we both were very like minded on how the ministry should be carried out. I sent him an email. He sent one back. Back and forth it went several times. Then we found out that we both were going to be attending the Desiring God conference! So, just a couple weeks later, we met. So, now we are planning on working together in Mexcio..long term. I plan on going down at the end of February and spending a few days working with my new friend, Aaron and others. You can read all about what we will be doing here If anyone would like to go along or help finance the trip (it costs about $600) to go, let me know! I'm hoping that my friend Charlie can go.

'Give Us a Shot': N.C. Church Hands Out Shot Glasses at Bars

This AP article was sent to me by my friend Teana:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — To get people to attend his new church campus, Robbie McLaughlin is sending his message out to where the people are.

Next Friday, staffers from Next Level Church of Matthews will go to bars in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte to hand out shot glasses which ask patrons to "give us a shot" and bear the slogan, "Real church for real people."

The idea is to draw people to the Ballantyne campus, which opens next month.

McLaughlin is the pastor, and said he is confident that it will be controversial, but he said the goal is not necessarily to impress people who already go to church. He said it's to impress people who don't.

Next Level is a nontraditional church that encourages members to dress casually and snack on coffee and doughnuts during services.

McLaughlin said the idea has caught on, and in two years, the church has grown from a handful of members to more than 700.

I have so many problems with this philosophy of church growth for several reasons...and none of them have anything to do with the practice of going into bars to evangelize.

First of all, church isn't something that we should be asking people to "give a shot". The church should be something we should be asking the world to commit to. After all, the church is the body of Christ. I think Mr. McLaughlin should read this book.
Secondly, a church's goal should not be to impress those those who don't go to church. It's goal should be to impress God! When a non-believer enters our fellowship, there should be a level of discomfort because those around him are worshipping a holy God, and that unbeliever is not holy! There should be some measure of conviction. This does not mean we don't welcome the unbeliever into our church and attempt to make him feel welcome. We should be pursuing proper friendships with those who frequent bars, but we aren't bringing these people closer to Christ by bringing them to a church that tells them that church is all about themselves. I shudder to think about how many false converts these methods bring into the church.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Purgatorio is Back!!!

I spoke with Marc Heinrich, the author of this blog at the Desiring God conference and begged him to bring his blog back. After a year's hiatus, I just discovered that he's been back for a few days! You all will greatly enjoy this blog! This is the best news I've seen all week!

Football or Christ?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Africa Center for Apologetic Research

My friend Jeremy told me about these people. Pray for John Divito and his family as they seek to establish the establish the Africa Center for Apologetics. Check out the ACFAR website. With all of the false gospels being taught in Africa, I believe this ministry is EXTREMELY important and worth checking out.

Missing Hiker's Body Found

For the last week, I've been following the story of, Meredith Emerson...a hiker who was hiking on or near the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. I just found out about an hour ago that her body has been found. It is obviously a murder since the prime suspect, Gary Hilton lead authorities to her body this evening. This brings many sad thoughts to mind. I love the Appalachian Trail, and I've hiked right there before. The typical AT hiker is peace-loving and we all try to look out for each other. My heart is broken not only for this hurting family, but also for my AT hiking family. I pray that this terrible situation will be used of the Lord to point many of my AT friends to Christ.

While watching the sad news conference on Fox news, Shannon mentioned that she couldn't imagine ever being able to murder another person. Yeah, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be Gary Hilton either. However, one sobering fact is that if were not for God's restraining hand, that I would not only be like Gary Hilton, but worse. Thank you Lord for your grace!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My Steelers Lose

Those who know me well, know that I'm a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Last night, the Steelers played what turned out to be their last game of the year. They lost their playoff game to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a great game. The Steelers were down by 18 in the 4th quarter but ended up coming back to take the lead . However they ended up giving up a field goal in the last minute of the game which resulted in them losing the game. I went from feeling miserable because they were getting killed, to ecstatic as they made up the largest 4th quarter deficit in playoff history, only to be crushed at the end again. As I went to bed sad, I couldn't help but keep thinking of certain plays that changed the game. I also was frustrated because there were several really bad calls by the officials that had an effect on the game's outcome. What made this all the more miserable was having to endure this while my wife, a New England Patriots fan, watched with me. She didn't have to say much but she gave me several looks that that felt very mocking. Folks, it's difficult being married into a family that roots for one of your teams arch rivals, but things are even worse when there team is in the midst of completing an unbeaten season.

I had planned originally to post something here along the lines on how a christian man should keeps sports in their proper perspective. Upon getting this far along into the post, I'm realizing that I'm not at all qualified to do this. I fail at this. I'm saddened that I don't get excited about evangelism as I do about a football game. I'm saddened that my heart is not as broken for the lost as it is when my team loses a critical game. People are on their way to hell, and I go to bed all sad because my team lost a game! Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me.