Category Archives: World View

The De-Grandeurization of God

Because it is a rainy Monday, and since I’ve much to do, here is a re-post made from the car.

image

Proud Doubter

Last night I was scrolling through the Facebook posts of a friend. Actually, I wouldn’t exactly call the person a “friend” as much as a former acquaintance. The person I used to know as a young, vibrant Christian student, one who boldly proclaimed his faith, has now become proud doubter.

Look, let me be the first to say that moments of doubt are not uncommon, and far be it from me to cast judgment on those who do. I have had my moments of doubt, and there have been many times when I’ve had to pray, “Lord, help my unbelief.” But one thing I’ve never done is boast about my doubting. G0d forbid!

Yet, as I scrolled through the posts and the comments of my young friend of years gone by, what I saw was one who was proud of the fact that he felt free enough to doubt, even to allow his doubts to affect what he believed about God.

A Blown Mind

Come to find out, my young friend has been doing some study. He has become fascinated with astronomy, specifically the “Big Bang.” As many have done, he has proudly ditched the supposed illiterate belief in a Young Earth creation and taken off full bore down the road of “true” science. He has been blown away by the scientific “evidence” that led him not only to doubt his earlier beliefs, but to look forward to other areas in which his understanding of God may be changed.

In other words, because of what my young friend has now learned, he is looking forward to the de-grandeurization of his God.

Did God?

If you will remember, it was Satan, in the Garden of Eden, who posed the first doubt-inducing question, “Did God…?” This led to Eve questioning the motives of her Creator.

Unfortunately, developments in modern science have been used in the very same way to create doubt, to cause believers to question the abilities of their Creator. They look at the marvelous works of creation and ultimately conclude that it was natural forces which created what we now see, not God. By doing so, they unwittingly fall prey to the gradual undermining of their faith, going from one “enlightening” conclusion to another, saying: “Well, if what I believed there is not true, then what else about God is not true?”

They proudly march forward with a presupposition of doubt leading the way, redefining God and His creation.

The Declaration 

Most detailed image of the Crab Nebula

Credit: NASA, ESA and Allison Loll/Jeff Hester (Arizona State University). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

But here’s the thing: Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Even more, Psalm 97:6 says, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.”

Is the universe expanding? Yes, it is. But what does that necessarily mean about God? The universe is expanding, and men are made up of the same elements found in stars. Does this mean that believing God created the heavens, including man, “as is” is out of the realm of possibility?

The God I serve is so big, so powerful, so awesome, so grand that when He said, “Let there be…” it was. There’s no reason to doubt, even if it doesn’t all make sense.

After all, the grandeur of creation was created out of nothing. If God could do that, then nothing is impossible for Him. Science doesn’t have to disprove anything; it should be declaring.

I’m a proud believer.

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, God, World View

Beware of False Cookies

A little Wednesday wisdom from way back when. This post was first published in June of 2011. 

The Chinese Restaurant

This afternoon, after Sunday morning services, we went to a Chinese restaurant. There with some of our youth and their parents, we made multiple trips back and forth to the only kind of bar a Baptist is expected to frequent – one that has food.

Usually I eat a little of everything at a Chinese restaurant, except sushi – that stuff is just plain nasty. But today, because I decided I had not eaten fish in a long time, I felt compelled to stay with just one subset of the universal set of oriental cuisine: seafood…(how’s that for a math reference?). I’d had my share of deep-fried battered chicken, beef, and whatever.

Sweet and Sour What?

On a side note, have you ever stopped to think about how much trust one puts in the food he is eating? Just because a label says “Sweet and Sour Chicken,” does it mean “Sweet and Sour Rat, Cat, Snake, Penguin, Leopard, Iguana, etc.” taste any different? From what I have been told, everything not pork, beef, or duck tastes like chicken. Put enough breading on little pieces of meat and it’s all the same.

I say let’s become legalistic about this issue, if nothing else. Certain meats should have certain shapes, or at least keep the skin on it. How else are we supposed to know what has been deep fried and covered in some exotic sauce that smells so good you forget your neighbor’s chihuahua went missing. Everything chicken should look like a chicken or have a feather sticking out of it. If I’m gonna be eating rattlesnake, at least give me a rattle to take home and play with. If they don’t start doing this, I may have to quit eating at Chinese restaurants and stick with the BBQ place – you know, the one conveniently located next to the emergency animal clinic?

Edible Fortunes

Seriously, I can’t stop eating at the the  Numba Won Happy Mandarin Peking Garden of Panda Love Restaurant. Where else could I find a cookie with wisdom? Chinese Restaurants are the only places I know with fortune cookies, and somehow they really know me.

Now, some people open up a fortune cookie only to find stupid stuff like, “The sky will be blue for you today, unless you cloud it with doubt.Riiiight. Like, could you be any more vague?

On the other hand, my wife got one today that said, “Soon you will inherit land.” What? From whom? If she has a relative that has land to give away that’s not already promised to whiter sheep, then I’ll be really amazed. But mine are different. Mine are…

Scary Fortunes

One time I was just finishing up my road training before I started driving school buses in Tennessee. I went to a Chinese buffet for lunch, after which I got a fortune cookie. I am not lying, the piece of paper said, “You are about to enjoy success at a new job.” But what was more creepy was the Chinese word of the day was the word for “school bus.” N o  j o k e !

Today was another example of scary cookie wisdom. Would you believe that it knew I was a pastor? Would you believe that it knew I like to speak in front of large crowds? Amazingly, it knew that I am “the center of attention” whenever I am in a crowd (which is true at least three times a week). What is it supposed to mean?

False Cookies

It means that even a stupid cookie can get something right every now and then, especially if the statement enclosed is vague enough. On the other hand, it should be a reminder that there are forces at work in this world trying to deceive those with “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3).

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” – Mark 13:22

Don’t believe ’em, just eat ’em.

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Filed under baptist, Food, Future, General Observations, the future, World View

“Let God be True, and Luther a Liar”

The following post (and it’s a long one) was written 6 years ago in 2011, shortly after returning from Florida where I officiated a beach wedding.

Being that it was just Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, I thought this piece might be a nice reminder that racism, regardless of the race, is sin. Dr. King knew that in order to change things, men’s hearts had to change. Unfortunately, the best we can do is still going to be flawed. Our only hope is found in God, our Mighty Fortress and Strength.

St. Petersburg, FL

Forgive me, but I am not a big fan of St. Petersburg, especially in the winter when it is 45 degrees. To me, Florida is supposed to be HOT. The warmest it got last week was in the low 70’s. The water on both coasts was terribly cold; therefore, sightseeing was more appropriate than sunbathing on the beach (which I don’t prefer, anyway). But aside from all of that, I still don’t think I would have liked St. Petersburg, even if it had been in the dead of summer.

However, they did have a few nice museums.

From books to iPhones

One museum we (Katie and I) enjoyed was the Museum of Fine Arts (http://www.fine-arts.org/). Believe it or not, it was the first time that I ever had the chance to stand in a room full of paintings by Monet. It was impressive, especially when you consider how close a teenager could stand next to objects worth multiple millions of dollars. Fortunately for the paintings, teenagers have touch-screen phones to keep their fingers occupied.

Another place we went, at my insistence, was the Florida Holocaust Museum (http://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/). I felt that it was important for the girls to see with their own eyes what true hatred and bigotry, even false religion can do. Not as big, nor as impressive as the museum in Washington, D.C., this museum still told the story well and featured an original cattle car that once carried Jews to the concentration camps.

Amelia Island, FL

When we left St. Petersburg, in order to find another beach to help Haley with her science project, at the advice of my brother-in-law, we went to Amelia Island in Fernandina, Florida. Now THAT was a change from St. Petersburg. Through priceline.com we even got a 3-star hotel for $52 a night! Not bad for a place with a huge, clean beach and a small-town feel.

“Big Guns on the Wall”

The highlight to the trip, for me, was when we got to visit Fort Clinch on Amelia Island. The fort was built back in the 1800’s and served both the Conferderate (1861) and the Union troops. It was a massive, red brick fortress overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and was meant to protect the Cumberland Sound. Fully restored, with reenactors playing the part, it was meant to give you the feel of stepping back in time to 1864.

I was really impressed with the fort. Even my wife was amazed. As I stood on its walls with huge canons, or on its proud bastions, I could not help but remember the words to the famous hymn by Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress.”

 

“A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.”

A Painful Thought

But while at Fort Clinch a painful thought crossed my mind. Just the day before, my girls were able to read other words from Martin Luther in the Florida Holocaust Museum. You see, even though Luther has been regarded as the father of the Reformation, he was a rabid anti-semite. In one display chronicling centuries of hatred toward the Jewish people, the words from Luther’s book, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” was written in bold for every Christian to see. Here are some quotes from that book:

“He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away.”

“If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country.”

“Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.”

“My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to become the foe of the Jews’ malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that they are surely possessed by all devils. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in the knowledge of him, which is eternal life. Amen.”

What a contrast! One moment I am being inspired by a fortress that reminds me of the greatness of God, the next I am being reminded of the painful truth that men are sinners – all with the same song. How could the words of one man inspire both the Church and the Nazi party at the same time?

Martin Luther

Martin Luther wrote “A Mighty Fortress” based on Psalm 46:11, “The LORD of hosts [is] with us; the God of Jacob [is] our refuge. Selah.” God is our refuge and our hope in time of trouble. The Psalmist also said, agreeing with Luther,

I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. – Psa 91:2 KJV

What are we to make of this, then? Is my hope in God supposed to be dashed all because of the actions of some (or all) of his followers? Are we to assume the truth of God is a lie because of the hateful words of Luther, as opposed to his hymns and 95 theses? Martin Luther was terribly wrong in his observations of the Jews. For that matter, David wasn’t perfect, either. No, God is God. Man is man. That is why it is so important to keep in mind the following words from the Apostle Paul:

…[Let] God be true, and every man a liar…” – Romans 3:4 KJV

When Peter got it right, Jesus called him “blessed” and praised the fact that the Father gave him the words (Matthew 16:17). However, when Peter spoke in the flesh, out of his own selfish desires, Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” (verse 23). When we speak out of hand about God, that does not change the truth about God.  Luther got some things right.  Luther also got some things wrong in a very bad way.

My God IS a mighty fortress…and He loves the people of Israel.  He has made that abundantly clear, despite the ramblings and false doctrines of men. God said, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” – Gen 12:3 KJV  Nothing has changed.  Let God be true, and Luther be a liar. Let God be true, and Peter a liar. Let God be true, and every one of us a liar. God is Who He is, whether we get it right or not. But because of Luther’s mistaken words, may we be ever more diligent to heed these words:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2Ti 2:15 KJV

Why? Because Jesus said it right, and He ALWAYS got it right, when He said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – Jhn 17:17 KJV

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. – Pro 30:5-6 ESV

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Filed under God, Martin Luther, salvation, Uncategorized, World View

Blues and Better

The following post was originally posted in 2013. The truth of it is even more relevant today.


Post-Christmas Blues

At some point in your life you have probably experienced the “blues” after Christmas. You know, those sad, melancholy feelings that come after all the expectations of Christmas day are over? They’re the “now what?” feelings.

Well, it took a while, but sometime this afternoon I began to feel depressed and kinda sad. In one way I was glad everything was over, but then I was also sad that there was nothing more to look forward to.

Next on the list? Clean house, clean carpet, paint a cabinet, plan sermons, clean a garage, wash windows and blinds, and wonder how to repay what we just borrowed to make people happy for one day.

Post-Christmas Perspective

But if you have experienced the blues after Christmas, be thankful. Being sad that the expectations of this world only bring temporary happiness is a good thing – actually, it’s a great thing! It means that there is something else…something more…something better…something that won’t get old the next day…something that will leave you never having to wish for anything ever again.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

The post-Christmas blues are just reminders that I haven’t made it home.

“I’ll Rise”

Several years ago I wrote a song talking about a place better than this one, a place called Heaven. This year, standing beside a Christmas tree and surrounded by crumpled wrapping paper, my daughter wanted to sing it.

You can believe that this world is all that there is, and that’s OK. If you are right, then an infinity of nothingness won’t bother either of us. However, since no experience in this world, even the best Christmas present, can satisfy for long, I am going to assume there is better place, somewhere beyond the “blues.”

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Filed under Christmas, Faith, Future, Relationships and Family, the future, Uncategorized, World View

Perfection Not Required

Jesus Said…

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

The Perfect Candidate

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.  

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

Trying to Understand the Undead

Halloween

This time of year gets on my nerves, and one of the biggest reasons is the proliferation of horror movies. Horror movies don’t scare me that much; they tick me off! They are always full of idiots walking into the dark asking, “Buffy, is that you?”

And what’s worse, so many of today’s horror flicks involve ghostly, demonic hauntings by creepy dead kids. HINT: if a soaking-wet dead girl crawls out of a well and starts climbing through your TV, change the channel (preferably to a Christian station).

The Undead

But what I really don’t understand are the “undead”…zombies… Michael Jackson’s dance partners. Can someone help me understand the logic behind their supposed capabilities and actions?

English: A participant of a Zombie walk, Asbur...

English: A participant of a Zombie walk, Asbury Park NJ, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All I know is that the walking dead make absolutely no sense. Consider the following:

Health. Why is it that when I have the flu I feel as good as dead, yet when a zombie is dead he feels more alive than me? If I break a bone I can’t function, but a zombie can have all his bones broken and break into an armored car!

Have you seen what people die from? Why is it zombies can have more energy once their skin has rotted than while they were still exfoliating?

Appetite. Why is it that the walking dead never seem to recognize that their fellow walkers are also human – and edible? And why are humans the only meat worth eating?

Why don’t the walking dead break into grocery stores, butcher shops, and kennels? Seriously, don’t the dead understand that there is far more meat and brains in a cow?! Why eat the farmer???

Blood. I’ve had too much experience in funeral homes to buy the idea that zombies coming out of graves have bright, red, flowing blood. Ever heard of embalming fluid?

Speed. Why can’t healthy people, including clumsy women in high heels, outrun people with muscles falling off the bone? Bones need muscles to function, especially when the function is running.

Even if one tripped over every blade of grass in an attempt to flee a rotting granny, how fast could granny be when her anterior muscles, such as the quadriceps femoris, iliopsoas, and sartorius (not to mention her hamstrings and gluteus maximus) are nothing more than brittle beef jerky?

Minor Practicalities. Speaking of grannies, if old people become zombies do they have to keep their false teeth in order to chew their neighbor? I mean, if one did bite/gum you, would you still be infected if no teeth were involved? For crying out loud, how long does Fixodent last?

Theoretically, if the dentures of a zombie did come flying out after the first bite, could a non-zombie then use them as a zombie-creating weapon?

What is the life expectancy of something that is already dead?

Oh, and when a zombie eats a human, where does the ingested material go? Do zombies have functioning digestive tracts? If not, then how much could a zombie eat before becoming bloated, impacted, and for all intents and purposes worthless as a killing machine?

Do zombies poop?

The Real Undead

To be very honest, I am more afraid of my own stinking flesh than the “walking dead.” I cause myself more problems than any zombie can.

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

I can’t outrun my old nature; I must crucify it on a daily basis! If I live in the power of my own zombie-like self, I will die. The only way I can survive is live in the life of Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14).

So, don’t worry about what’s already dead and buried; through the Spirit put to death the deeds of your own stinking flesh, and live (Romans 8:13).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, current events, General Observations, Humor, World View

Bumper Stickers

The following was first published in November of 2010. I do miss having my own “Ride.”

“The Ride”

My wife will not let me put a bumper sticker of any kind on her car.  Even if she was driving a rusty Chevy Vega which desperately needed the qualities of something with adhesive properties to keep her bumper stuck to her car…no bumper stickers.  Not so with my Ride.  I don’t need no stinkin’ sticky things!  Just staples and zip ties, thank you.  Really, what I mean to say is that “The Ride” is not too good to advertise TheRecoveringLegalist.com, even though my wife thinks her car is too special.  HA!

Bumper stickers are something akin to free advertisement…

…They promote whatever you want other people to know about you and what you think, or for that matter, how well your kids think.  Plastered to the back of a rolling billboard, they catch the eye of total strangers who have the random chance to find themselves behind you and I in traffic, or who catch a glimpse in a parking garage.  Some people, I have come to realize, are advertizing more than they know, for some bumper stickers betray a hidden (at least to the owner of the car) stupidity.

There are so many bumper stickers that scream “MORON!

Here is one that I saw.  What a profound question.  Why do we kill people that kill people?  Could it be that we don’t want them to killpeople again?  Could it be that they deserve to die for taking an innocent child’s life?  Could it be that there are those out there on parole who would love to shoot your stupid…..(calm yourself, Anthony)…..well, they would love to steal your car and leave you beside the road in a ditch, then drive away with your false advertisement on THEIR bumper.

The one that I would have to say gets me the most, maybe because I see it the most, is COEXIST.  I just love all the little symbols that are used to make up the happy little plea for love and harmony.  Too bad what it tells me is that the owner of the car is a blooming idiot, at the very least, or somehow an ostrich has learned how to drive with his head in the sand.  The message behind the little sticker is really, “Hey you Christians!  Can you quit being so narrow-minded and hateful?  Don’t you know that we all just want to get along, but you keep screwing it up?”  All religions are the same, you know, or that’s the idea.  We are all worshipping the same god, just by a different name.  All paths lead to heaven, it’s just that some choose to take a shortcut by blowing themselves to Allah in the name of Jihad…is that so wrong?

Tell that to the “C”

I like the following verse. Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy…”  As Christians, we should be speaking out about the goodness and mercy of our God, not trying to seek favor with false gods by “COEXISTing” in perfect joy and mutual admiration.  People in this country have the right to free speech and to freedom of religion, but if you haven’t noticed, we are in a real religious war.  The “C” doesn’t like the “T” in that bumper sticker.  If you’re going to put something on your bumper, make it something that points people down the narrow road, not the wide one that leads to destruction.  Show your intelligence and advertize your faith…just don’t be tacky and weird about it…or then we get back into the looking-like-a-moron thing that my wife so desperately wants to avoid.

Now here’s an idea for the “perfect” bumper sticker!

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Filed under America, Apologetics, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Uncategorized, World View