Friday, November 30, 2007

Obedience and Knowing God

If life is a quest to become the people God created us to be how do we discover which way to go? There are many roads out there on which we can travel, but only one leads us to God. If we are unwilling to follow this road we will miss out, not only on God, but also the life He created us to live.

Henry Blackaby in the workbook Experiencing God wrote:
God’s commands are designed to guide you to life’s very best. You will not obey Him, however, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him (pg. 63).

The road we are to travel is the road of obedience.

This quest to become the people God created us to be begins with our knowledge of who God is. We cannot love, trust, and obey God unless we first know Him. Knowledge is the foundation of faith. This is what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote:
14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:14-15; ESV)

Without a knowledge of God it is impossible to have faith. And what is faith? This is the definition that I use: Faith is the combination of trust and action and is demonstrated by our obedience. Without faith there is no true obedience.

The great biblical example of faith is Abraham. In the land of Ur Abraham heard the call of God. How well did Abraham know God at this point in his life? I know that it has been suggested that at this time Abraham may have worshiped other gods rather than being a worshiper of the One True God. Blackaby in Created to be God’s Friend makes this point; "To our knowledge, Abram was not seeking God; God was seeking him" (pg. 16). In other words the beginning of this journey is actually found in God’s desire to have a relationship with us and not in our desire to have a relationship with Him.

The revelation of God, found primarily in the Bible, provides us with the initial knowledge that we need to trust God and obey Him. This revelation provides us with enough knowledge to make that first step of faith, and as we continue to trust and obey God with our live we begin to develop a deeper relationship with Him.

The relationship Abraham had with God at the beginning was not very strong. Abraham knew God well enough to trust God to lead him to the Promised Land, but based on the biblical account know that there were other areas of Abraham’s life that He did not trust God. Yet over time Abraham learned to trust and love God like few people in history have. At the end of his life Abraham knew God a whole lot better than he did when he first left Ur to follow God into the unknown.

The apostle John talks about the relationship between obedience and a relationship with God:
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:3-6; ESV)

The only way to know God and thus become the people God created us to be is to obey God. There is no other way that will happen. We can spend time talking about purpose and goals and self-improvement techniques, but if we don’t turn to the Life-Maker we will miss out on life.

Remember we will not begin this quest to become the people God created us to be if we do not have a minimal knowledge of God. If we do not believe God exists we will not seek to know Him better let alone discover the life He created us to live. This quest begins when we act on the little bit that we know about God. Through living this journey and experiencing God along the way we begin to know God better and better. Ultimately our knowledge of God is not increased through study and church attendance, but through living a life of obedience.

By traveling the road of obedience we not only discover who we are, but we discover God as well. Only as we obey God do we begin to experience Him at work in the world around us. It is this experience which helps us understand the heart of God, and thus brings us a little closer to Him.

  • Point to Ponder: The only way to know God and thus become the people God created us to be is to obey God.
  • Verse to Remember: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:6; ESV)
  • Question to Consider: Does my faith stop with belief or does it continue through obedience?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Broken By Sin

One day when Jesus was teaching He compared Himself to a shepherd and His followers to sheep. During this time of teaching Jesus told His listeners: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10; NASB). Today I want you to just think about the first part of this verse.

The thief symbolizes Satan. I have no idea if you believe Satan is real, but let me tell you that he is. The reality of Satan is one of the core doctrines of Christianity. C. S. Lewis wrote:
“One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe--a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity [compared to other religions] thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong” (Mere Christianity; pg. 51).

Satan wants my life destroyed because it is God’s will that my life be restored. Our lives, when lived in faith, bring glory and honor to God and that makes Satan mad. He doesn’t want God to get glory he wants God to be cursed and forgotten. When we follow Jesus our lives will be opposed by Satan.

The greatest tool Satan has in destroying our lives is sin. What is sin? The apostle John describes sin this way: Everyone who keeps living in sin also practices disobedience. In fact, sin is disobedience (1 John 3:4; ISV). We sin when we disobey God. Usually when we think of sin we think of things that God has told us not to do. Things like disobeying our parents, using God’s name in vain, having sex outside of marriage, murdering people, lying, cheating, or stealing. Yet sin is more than this. James wrote: Therefore, anyone who knows what is right but fails to do it is guilty of sin (James 4:17; ISV). Sin also is not doing those things that we know we should do. Acts of kindness such as talking with a social outcast or serving a family in need are examples of loving behavior that God wishes we would do. Basically sin is living outside of the will of God.

The sad reality of life is that often we become so accustomed to sin that we don’t even notice it’s awful stench in our lives. Matthew writes in his gospel:
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36, ESV)

Consider what William Pile wrote about this passage:
“The spiritual consequences [of sin], however, are even more serious. Matthew says that Jesus saw crowds of sinners as being ‘harassed and helpless’ (Matt. 9:36). The Greek word here for ‘harassed’ literally means ‘flayed, torn, and mangled.’ Sin does leave its victims full of wounds and bruises and festering sores. When the spirit of a man is raped and ravished by sin he is very much like the victim of a physical assault. There are serious doubts that he can ever be whole again” (What The Bible Says About Grace; pg. 28).

Sin breaks us by damaging our relationship with God.

James wrote to Christians who had a sin problem. He told them: You adulterers! Don't you know that friendship with the world means hostility with God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God (James 4:4; ISV). When our goal is to fit into the world rather than becoming the people God created us to be means that we live as God’s enemies. By being God’s enemies (we are His enemies, not because He hates us, but because we have sided and aided His enemies) means that we are cut off from our source of true life.

One of the essential ways we stay connected to Jesus, our source of life (John 15:5), is through obedience. Henry Blackaby reminds us:
“A love relationship with God requires that you demonstrate your love by obedience. This is not just a following the ‘letter’ of the law, but it is a following the ‘spirit’ of the command as well. If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem” (Experiencing God, workbook, pg. 61).

A sin problem means we have a love problem. We cannot stay connected to God if we allow sin to break that connection.

Sin also breaks us by enslaving our lives.

There is a habit forming aspect of sin. Read what Leon Morris wrote about being slaves to sin.
“Sin makes slaves of all of us. Take, for example, the person who has a temper. He finds that his outbursts cause trouble and unhappiness to all sorts of people and more particularly to those he cares for most in life. So he repents. He decides that he will control himself and not say those harsh words. And if he is a strong person, perhaps he succeeds--for a time. But then one day along comes some provocation and before he knows what is happening he has burst out in those angry words and deeds which bring so much unhappiness to others and deep sorrow to him. Do you see what is happening? He is not free. As far as this thing is concerned he is a slave” (The Atonement, pg. 120).

When we are caught in the grips of sin it is hard to break free. We will often find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do, because sin has us in chains. In Romans 7 the apostle Paul writes about his struggle with the enslaving nature of sin. He writes:
18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I don't do the good I want to do, but instead do the evil that I don't want to do. 20 But if I do what I don't want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. (Romans 7:18-20; ISV)

We cannot be slaves to sin and live lives that please God. Being slaves to sin prevents us from becoming the people God created us to be. Ultimately sin makes us miss the life God wants us to live. By constantly following our sinful desires we are led far way from where God wants us to be and into a land of unnecessary pain and conflict. Sin exposes us to pain and hardship that God never intended for us to bear.

Sin can also break us by the consequences of other people’s sin.

Our personal sin is not the only sin we have to deal with. We also have to face the negative results of the sin of other people. Ravi Zacharias shares an experience when he came face to face with this reality:
Many years ago I was speaking before an audience that consisted primarily of junior-high and high-school students...After my last session, I let it be known that if anyone had a personal need that he or she needed to talk about I would be available to take a few moments with each one. Within minutes the sign-up sheet was full.

The first student to come, though she made a valiant effort to look calm and composed, sat very nervously and did not do too well masking a troubled heart. Her entire conversation was about a friend that I shall call Karen. Karen was suicidal, I was told, and in dire need of help. This young woman wanted to know how best to help Karen and keep her from taking her own life. As the minutes ticked away, I interrupted her and asked, “Are you sure you came here to talk about Karen, or is there something more important on your mind?”

There was an annoyed look of surprise on her face, a hard swallow, and then she could conceal her battle no more. Her tears flowed as I had seldom seen, and I felt there was so much bottled up deep within her that I would need both more time and help to bring any comfort to her. But even at that I did not realize how far out of my depth I would be.

As she continued to weep she unfolded a story of sexual molestation by her own father that had begun when she had been seven years old, a wretched hell that had been thrust upon here sporadically for nearly ten years. “I have been terrified of telling anybody because I do not know what this will do to my family and what this will do to my father. Will he end up in jail? Will my mother be able to manage the shock and the hurt?” (Cries of the Heart, pp. 106-07)

We all bear the scars of the sins thrust upon us by other people. They come in various forms like the hurtful words from parents to the betrayal of a close friend to the death of loved one in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Pain and brokenness are visited on us through no choice of our own. It should be worth remembering that our sins also carry consequences for other people. Our sins rarely, if ever, only affect us.

In Galatians 5:13-15 the apostle Paul tells the Galatians what would happen if they continued with their selfish bickering:
13 For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your flesh, but through love make it your habit to serve one another. 14 For the whole law is summarized in a single statement: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other. (ISV)

When we are controlled by sin we will end up destroying people. We will be a source of pain and heartache in their lives rather than a source of joy and love. Because we have been hurt by other people we should do our best not to hurt others through our actions.

Here is what I want you to remember today: Sin in destroys our lives! Sin cuts us off from our source of life, it enslaves us, and we are hurt by the consequences of other people’s sins. If you are broken, scarred, wounded, apathetic, or disillusioned know that is because you have an Enemy trying to destroy your life. He is glad that you are broken because that means you that you aren’t living the life God wants you to live..

Keep in mind that while Satan is trying to destroy your life, Jesus wants to give you life. Not the life you have always wanted, but Real Life, the life you were created to live.

  • Point to Ponder: Sin destroys our lives!
  • Verse to Remember: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10; NASB)
  • Question to Consider: How is sin breaking your life?

Liberty and Personal Freedom

During my brief drive to the gym yesterday I caught a few moments of Rush Limbaugh. I cut my political teeth on Rush and still like to catch him occasionally. Rush was on a rant about the fact that the Democrat presidential candidates don’t talk about freedom as much as about mandates. In other words the Democrats are interested in using government to dictate the way people live their lives. From banning smoking to mandatory health care to environmental regulations they are in favor of bigger government and more government intrusion into our everyday lives. The bigger the government gets and the more laws that are passed means a lose of freedom and personal liberty, the foundation of our nation.

The thought I pondered as I listened to Rush is that the Republicans don’t offer any good alternatives. What Republican candidate talks seriously about personal freedom and the Constitution? For the most part the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is that government would get bigger slower with the Republicans in control. Then again after 7 years of President Bush even that isn’t for certain.

The only candidate that is seriously talking about personal liberty and the Constitution is Ron Paul. The very fabric of what makes this nation great is being ignored as candidates vie for the attention of special interest groups and make promises to people that cannot be kept. If we want real change in this country we need to start listen to the message of Dr. Paul and insisting that our candidates pay more attention to the Constitution than to lobbyists.

Personal freedom and liberty are two of the reasons I am support Ron Paul for president.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We Need Relationships

"Our need for relationship comes from the core of our being. It would be the greatest of tragedies to sacrifice others in the effort to find ourselves. Our souls crave to belong. The experience of love, though it emanates from God, is not limited to him.

"We are created for each other.

"We are all far more affected than we would like to admit by the community we are a part of. It is hard to believe in God when our world is deficient in love. It's just not that hard to convince people who have been loved deeply and freely that there is a God who also love them." ~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings, Intimacy: Entry 15

After the Fact

God doesn’t operate the way we would like Him to. We would like Him to provide us with a step by step guide for living and irrefutable proof of His existence. What He does is provide us with ancient revelation and ask us to live by faith. For us who have committed our lives to Jesus Christ we know there are evidences that make our faith reasonable, but doesn’t stop the doubts and uncertainty from coming. Wouldn’t it be easier, we think, if God just revealed Himself once and for all? While we want to live in certainty God wants us to live by faith. Let me give you a couple of examples.

One day Moses was watching his father-in-law's sheep when something caught his eye. It was a bush that was burning, but it was not being consumed. Moses decided to investigate this strange sight. When He approached the bush spoke, or rather a voice called from the bush. It is at this moment God called Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt.
11 Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, or that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" 12 He replied, "Surely I will be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: When you bring the people out of Egypt, you and they will serve God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:11, 12; NET).

I find it odd that the proof God offers to Moses is after the fact. It is after the Israelites are free from the Egyptians that Moses will know it is God who sent him. Moses will know for certain that God had sent him only after he had accomplished the task God has called him to do.

Now did Moses lack evidence that his calling was from God? No, Moses had plenty of evidence that God was calling him to go to Pharaoh and secure the release of Israel. There was the burning bush, the voice of God, and God gave Moses two signs: the staff into a snake and the leprosy of his hand. And during the mission Moses saw the ten plagues, the Red Sea divide, the pillar of cloud/fire which led Israel, plus other miracles. All through Moses' experience God showed him that He was with Moses.

Why was worshipping at Mt. Sinai the proof that God sent Moses? While all the miracles pointed to God and showed Moses and the people God was with them, it wouldn’t have met anything if God did not make a covenant with the people. It was at Mt. Sinai when God established a covenant with Israel, which set them apart as God’s people and prepared the way for Jesus to come. If God delivered Israel from Egypt and then never established a covenant with them, Israel might as well have been back in slavery. It was the covenant, the promise of God at Sinai which made all the difference.

Flash forward a few hundred years. Jesus has turned water into wine, He has cleared the Temple, He has forgiven people of their sins, and He is teaching with authority. This is sets up Jesus with a confrontation with the religious leaders:
18 So then the Jewish leaders responded, "What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?" 19 Jesus replied, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again." 20 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?" 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken. (John 1:18-22, NET)

These religious leaders demanded a sign that Jesus was from God, and the sign He offers them is His death and resurrection. Just like Moses had evidence that God had sent him on a mission these religious leaders had evidence that Jesus was from God and the Messiah. There were the healings, the teachings, and the miracles over nature. The evidence was there, but the proof would only come afterwards. The question they were faced with is whether or not they would respond in faith and act upon the evidence they had been given.

The reason the resurrection is the final proof Jesus offered to His enemies about His identity is because all of who He is hinges on this one point. All the healings Jesus did, all the teachings He taught, everything about Jesus, even His death, means nothing without the resurrection. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead we are still in our sins, and we are wasting our time.

Here we are 2,000 years later and people are still clamoring for proof that God exists. Christian apologists have continually offered evidence to people, but often that evidence is ignored. They claim to want a big sign that once and for all settles the question so they can be certain.

Here is the thing there is only one more proof that God is going to offer for His existence and then it will be too late for us to do anything about it.
9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow - in heaven and on earth and under the earth - 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NET)

History is fast approaching that time when everyone will bow down to Jesus and proclaim that He is God. What matters then will not be what we believe or hold as true, but our response to the evidence that God has already provided.

This is what I have come to believe: a committed life lived in the uncertainty of life prepares us to live in harmony with God for eternity. Satan and his angels lived in the presence of God, you cannot have more proof than that, and they still rebelled. Living proof was not enough to prevent them from hating God and doing evil. You see God could provide irresistible proof of His existence, but that wouldn’t change the hearts of people. To believe in God is not that same as to love God, and God wants people who will love Him.

When we respond to the evidence that we have and commit ourselves to a life of faith in God now we allow ourselves to be molded into people who genuinely love God. The life of faith is the process through which God creates us to be people fit for heaven. That is why the final proof is held in reserve until after the fact.

  • Point to Ponder: A committed life lived in the uncertainty of life prepares us to live in harmony with God for eternity.
  • A Passage to Remember: Philippians 2:9-11
  • A Question to Consider: Is a lack of evidence your excuse for not living a life of faith?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Needing Encouragement

Take a moment and ponder what Mike Yaconelli wrote in his book Messy Spirituality:
Sprinkled throughout our congregation are good people who have been paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, insecurity and self-doubt, insignificance and guilt, which are what cripples most of us who are trying to follow Christ. (p. 24)

Think about your church family. While we are dealing with our own doubt and uncertainty we miss out on all those around us struggling with the same thing. We end up hiding in the very place where we should find help. This is what Mike Yaconelli made me think about: Followers of Jesus need to encourage one another. Following Jesus is hard if we don’t have a support system to help us keeping going when we would rather give up.

I don’t know about you, but I have been there. In 2005 I was ready to throw in the towel and walk away from God, Jesus, and the Church. Guilt, doubt, and insignificance weighed me down and I wondered if this Christian thing was worth it. I have been one of those people sprinkled in the congregation, but I wasn’t an occasional visitor I was the preacher. If I was struggling as the preacher imagine how the occasional visitor is feeling. Think about the times you have struggled and the reasons you didn’t give up.

The New Testament book of Hebrews was written to a church family who were struggling. They were ready to give up in the face of persecution. Apparently they were Jews living in Rome and had accepted Jesus. These Christians had already been through one persecution where they lost most of their possessions. This new wave of persecution though was threatening their lives. A return to Judaism, which was a legal religion, was very appealing to them. It is in this context that the writer wrote:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)

The writer of this New Testament book points out that we need to encourage one another. Following Jesus isn’t easy and we need all the encouragement we can get. How will we hold on to the hope we have in Jesus if we don’t have people encouraging us along the way? Encouragement is essential for remaining faithful through the struggles of life.

So where do we receive this encouragement? The truth is that it is very hard to find and often we have to take initiative in order to find it, but when we do it makes a world of difference.

The first way we receive encouragement, according to the writer of Hebrews is to meet together. In other words we have to be involved in the lives of others and we need to allow people into our lives. The negative promise of the passage is that if we isolate ourselves then we will not be encouraged. We need to take the initiative to meet together.

Along these same lines we have to be willing to invite people in. Just because somebody is sitting in a pew or attending a small group doesn’t mean they are meeting together. We can be present in body but absent in every other way. By engaging other people we invite them to be part of the Church Family or the group and allow them to find encouragement.

The second way that we find encouragement is through faithful examples. Chapter 11 of Hebrews contains a list of Old Testament saints who endured struggles and remained faithful to God. It was important for the first readers to be reminded that following God isn’t easy, it never has been, and that there have been people who have endured to the end.

We need to be remained of faithful examples. They could be ancient saints, modern day believers, or someone in between. These examples often provide encouragement and hope for the remind us what God can do through the most difficult of circumstances.

Following Jesus isn’t easy. In our church family their are dozens of people struggling with their faith, and you might be one of them. Through these dark times of we life we need encouragement, and that encouragement is found in fellow believers. Are you being encouraged? Are you an encouragement?

  • Point to Ponder: Followers of Jesus need to encourage one another.
  • Verse to Remember: not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25, ESV)
  • Question to Consider: How can you encourage a fellow Christ Follower today?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Identity After God

Being a follower of Christ I believe that we find our identity in Jesus Christ. Dr. Pete Lowman at Be Thinking has an article, Identity After God, which deals with what happens to our identities and self worth when we ignore or deny the existence of God.

Dr. Lowman writes:
It's only slowly that we're seeing the longterm results of our culture's move away from a Christian worldview. Human beings are not (in God's mercy) entirely logical. For a long time after a culture has swung away from God, things that logically depend on God for meaning can continue to function for us. But, slowly, they begin to fall apart, to fade away

Take some time and read his thoughts about the connection of our identities and God: Identity after God .

We May All Draw Near

"As a result of the unique priesthood and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, to whom we have fled for refuge and through whom we have received a complete forgiveness, we may now constantly draw near to God. In Old Testament days only the priests might draw near. Through the veil into the very presence of God in the Most Holy Place, only the high priest might come, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. All others had to keep their distance, on pain of death. But now this distinction between priest and people has been abolished by Jesus. Now there is a 'priesthood of all believers'. For now through him all may draw near, pastors and people, sovereign and commoners, without any discrimination whatever." ~ John Stott, Life in Christ, p. 21

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Are You Thankful

The holiday of Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to ponder what we have to be thankful for. I am certain that many of us could have a long list which includes the blessings of family, friends, and health. Today I want to challenge you to give thought to what you would have to be thankful for if all that was on our lists were taken away from us. What if in a blink of an eye your life was turned upside down, like Job’s was, and everything that seemed so dear to you was gone; would you still have reason to be thankful?

It is easy to thank God for things when our lives are filled with abundance and things are relatively smooth. For all the trouble Christians have seen throughout the years we have been spared most of it. Our trouble is not coming up with reasons to be thankful, but narrowing the list to a manageable length. We have been overwhelmed by the blessings of God.

This should give us pause to consider two aspects of our lives. First, are we followers of Jesus simply because things are going well? Isn’t that the challenge Satan issued God about Job? According to Satan Job only worshiped God because God blessed Job. While that accusation was false for Job, could it be true for us?

Second, if God has blessed us with so much how should we respond? What would please God more: us saying thanks or our using His blessing to bless other people? I believe one of the ways gratitude is expressed is in how we use the gifts we have been given. Expressing gratitude is not just about saying thank you, but it is also about using the gift appropriately. How are you using the blessings God has given you?

I hope you are able to spend today with family or friends, watching a football game or two, and eating good food. I also hope that you might take a moment or two and find a quiet place and contemplate what you have been given, and how you can use those things to make a difference in this world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shaping Theological Agendas

"What I am saying is this: sometimes our own theological agendas are shaped as much by personal and social factors as they are by a concern for the truth. The keen Christian is alert to the social world shaping the positions in vogue at any given time." ~ Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; p. 91

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Getting to the Right Place

Life is unpredictable. Regardless of the plans we may make it rarely works out the way we hoped. It is the rare person who is experiencing life the way they imagined it would be. Far too often life is filled with disappointments that force us to cope with life rather than live life. When life doesn’t turn out the way we planned we have no other option but to deal the best we can as we adapt to the new circumstances.

Following Jesus doesn’t change any of this and many times makes it far worse because our dreams tend to stand in the way of what God has dreamed for our lives. Jesus will ask us to lay down our plans and follow Him into the uncertainty of the future. If we are unwilling to do this He will allow our dreams to shatter so that we will be forced to discover the life He wants us to live.

One of the frustrating aspects of this whole process is that God doesn’t treat us all the same. For some God allows great tragedy into their lives in order to prepare them for what lies ahead. Others will have constant obstacles thrown into their paths which will teach them endurance and trust. When we compare our lives to the lives of those around us will begin to feel like God is being unfair because God isn’t treat us equally and we will begin to exaggerate the difficulties in our lives while minimizing the troubles of other people.

Think about Joseph the son of Jacob for a minute. Even we can see how unfair his some of the circumstances in his life were. Joseph experienced slavery and false imprisonment in a foreign land while his brothers enjoyed freedom in their homeland. How can that be fair? Yet what we discover on the other side of these experiences when Joseph’s family was forced to come to Egypt because of famine that everyone had changed. Joseph’s brothers did not have an easy life at home because of the guilt they had for selling Joseph into slavery. Joseph was prepared to take an exalted position in Egypt in order to help people.
While going through the difficulties things didn’t make sense, but God used even the evil for good in their lives. Things will not always make sense, but we must trust that God will do what is right.

When it comes down to it all we can do is to do our best wherever we may find ourselves. That is certainly one of the lessons we can learn from Joseph’s life. This is what God requires of us no matter what the circumstances may be in our lives. When we remain faithful in even the toughest of circumstances God is able to use us and move us closer to the life He wants us to have. How we live is far more important than any position or prestige we might have.

Part of the problem that we run into is believing that positions and prestige are the route to living a life that makes an impact. This runs contrary to what Jesus taught. Kingdom power is not found in position but in service. It is not about being the greatest but about being the least. It is when we give our lives away in service that we are truly able to impact those around us.

To find the place God wants us to be we have to follow the path of service and giving ourselves for the good of others. If we take care of what we are responsible for, the way we live and how we treat others, God will make sure we get to the right place.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Faith in a Box

"Religious faith itself, however, does not usually get you in trouble in this subculture [secular intellectual] so much much as allowing that faith our of its box so that it pokes its nose where it does not belong. Many are perfectly content to allow a fellow intellectual to practice a private faith. After all, some people are into jogging or stereo equipment, and others are 'into' God. The trouble begins when it appears that your faith has influenced (contaminated) your thinking in other areas. Worse yet is to imply that your religious outlook has given you insights to which the secularist is blind." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p. 49

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My choice for president is...

There was not a presidential candidate that I even liked, let alone got excited about, until I started to read and listen to Ron Paul. As a conservative he makes a lot of sense and being part of the Restoration Movement, which believes that the Bible is the foundation for belief and practice, his message of returning to the Constitution resonates with me as well.

Here are some links to find out more about Ron Paul and his beliefs:

Who is Ron Paul?

Debt and Taxes

War and Foreign Policy

Life and Liberty

Five Kinds of Christians

The fall 2007 edition of Leadership Journal (part of the Christianity Today family) has an article discussing a recent survey the differences between all the people who claim to be Christians in the United States. The point of the article, besides highlighting these differences, was to help church leaders get a grasp on how connect with these different kinds of Christians.

Here are a few excerpts from Five Kinds of Christians:

Leadership discussed the survey results with leading pastors and religious experts to ascertain the ramifications for church leaders. Three critical issues emerged:

* The local church is no longer considered the only outlet for spiritual growth.

* Churches must develop relational- and community-oriented outreach.

* Lay people have to be better equipped to be God's ambassadors.


"These days, people can get good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing, whether through iPods, TV, or online," says Wilkerson. "They learn to shop around and pick and choose. Then they expect the same high quality in their local church. A generation ago, the average person learned to accept his home pastor and was faithful to his local church. But now, people's appetites for excellence have been heightened."

As pastor of a large church himself, Wilkerson acknowledges "we probably end up perpetuating that kind of appetite by trying to be as high-quality as what we find out there. The temptation of larger churches is to compete and to be as good as the others are."

Even for those Private and Cultural Christians who do not typically consume Christian media, access to it can still play a significant role in their spiritual development in ways that may not be reflected in the survey.

"The old paradigm of evangelism was a transactional sharing of the gospel," says Ken Fong, senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. "I would try to get people to intellectually agree with me. But the new paradigm is different, an approach in which I invite you to walk alongside me, examine my life, and see evidence of the truth, and hopefully there will be something compelling that you see. It's a no-strings-attached invitation to enter my life as I follow Jesus."

In addition to these findings about the church, we found a most defining dichotomy over the Jesus question: Active and Professing Christians said "accepting Christ as Savior and Lord" is the key to being a Christian (almost 9 in 10), while Liturgical, Private, and Cultural Christians favored more generally "believing in God" as the main element in being a Christian. So, for a vast number of people who consider themselves Christian, Christ is not the central figure of their faith.

I hope that you take some time to read the entire article and ponder how it can apply to the situation that you are in.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Reason and Objectivity

"Related to this is the myth of objectivity. Objectivity supposedly flows from the unbiased use of this universal instrument called reason. Just as two people can use the same scale to measure different things, thereby relating them to an objective standard, so, theoretically, can one use this thing called reason to objectively evaluate evidence and generate insight into the nature of reality. Objectivity is supposedly something the intellectual can have, while the person of faith wallows in mere subjectivity." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p.51

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

7-0 Best Start in 35 years for the Celtics

Paul Pierce had 15 points to help Boston beat New Jersey on Wednesday.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty Images

Change and Faith

Lately I have been making a conscious effort to change my life. It is partly due to the reality that with out change then I will never be able to accomplish what I want to accomplish in life or to live the life the God has created me to live. Too often our dreams and good intentions are lost because we didn’t do the hard work of making the necessary changes to our lives.

Positive changes always take work, some are harder than others, but the all involve determining what needs to be done and doing it. Negative changes are much easier. They sneak up on us and all of a sudden we realize that we have changed and we don’t like it.

One of the changes that I have been making is a change to my diet. My beautiful and wonderful girlfriend has encouraged me to adopt a healthier way of eating focused on eating more meat and vegetables and less processed food and sugar (which is in about everything that is sold as food). I have been eating this way for the past week and so far it has been fairly easy to do. It took work to plan our a grocery list and to actually cook meals, but now I have been enjoying the cooking and discovering foods that I never knew I liked before (zucchini).

To go along with this I got a gym membership here in town. I have always liked to work out but it has always been easy for me to find some excuse not to do it. But for the past month or so I have been going to the gym every afternoon and I have enjoyed it. It gets me out of the house, so I am not saying that I will do it later, and I get to interact with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise (though this doesn’t happen as much as I would like). Having a time, place, and paying money each month has helped me keep up with the change.

So while those two changes have come fairly easy some other changes have not. One is that I have a terrible time keeping a consistent time with God. I have tried to schedule it at different times during the day and I have tried different study methods and journals and nothing I do seems to work. I get so easily distracted. I have even removed the internet and my Playstation from life and still I find other things to distract me. Often it will be with a book and while I justify it by saying that it is a book about the Bible reading another persons thoughts about Scripture is not the same as spending time in Scripture.

Another change I find myself have a difficult time making meeting and talking with people. I am an extreme introvert and I find it difficult to talk to people that I don’t really know (this includes extended family members that I don’t know very well) and so it is difficult for me to make phone calls to set up appointments. I need to get my car worked on and I can’t seem to work up the courage to pick up the phone and make the call. It becomes so frustrating because I want to change but I am finding it very difficult to do it.

I know that change doesn’t come easy, but I know that it is absolutely vital for following Jesus. We can’t follow Jesus and remain the way we are. I have also come to accept that part of faith is found in this struggle to make changes. Faith is seen in not giving up just because things get difficult or because we have stumbled and fallen. Faith is seen in dusting ourselves off and beginning again to change the way we live.

The life of faith is a life of change. It isn’t going to be easy, but in the end it is exactly what we need.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Stick to the Calling

"Whatever areas we are called to, it is important for each of us to discern what God has called us to do and to do that without trying to do everything else. What I am getting at is that when we sense the call of God on our lives, we need to stick to that calling and not let distraction prevent us from fulfilling God's will for us." ~ Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; p. 78

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Celtics 3-0 and Looking Impressive

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Following Jesus Isn't Safe, but It is Good

Take a moment and consider your life. Examine the way you live and the desires of your heart. Now answer this question, is that what Jesus wants from your life?

Here is the problem with the way many of us, myself included, live. We want the promises of God, we want the hope that comes from being a Christian, but we are not willing to live like a follower of Jesus. If all that was required to be a Christian was to show up on Sunday morning and sing few songs and listen to a sermon, then being a disciple of Jesus would be easy. The pew would offer us safety and security.

Being a true follower of Jesus is anything but it easy and it certainly isn’t safe. It requires getting out of the pew and living to a high moral standard, a standard that will make us seem like fools or prudes: you are foreigners and aliens here (1 Peter 2:11; NLT). If people don’t think we are strange for the way we live, then we are not living the way God’s wants us to live. It is hard to be different and stand out from the crowd.

Being a disciple of Christ requires a new set of dreams: I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now I live by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20; CEV). When we made the decision to accept Jesus as our Savior we gave up the right to decide what we will do with our lives. Our lives becomes a matter of God’s will. It is hard to give up on our dreams and follow after Jesus.

This is the point that I want you to understand, by staying in the pews we miss out on the best that God wants for us. The life God has created us to live is discovered in living the life of faith. The life of faith isn’t safe it is a risk and it is the only way we will discover true life.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:9-13, ESV)

A question. Was Jesus safe in loving us?

Absolutely not! By loving us he made himself vulnerable to rejection. By loving us he served people who hated him. By loving us he gave up heaven and lived on this earth. By loving us he died a cruel death on the cross, taking on our sins. Jesus did not live a neat little safe life. Jesus faced struggles. Jesus had hardships. You know what? Jesus also knew love and joy. In spite of all the terrible things Jesus experienced he was able to experience the qualities everyone wants in their lives: love and joy.

We don’t equate pain and joy. For us in order to be happy our lives have to be pain free. According to Jesus the route to a full and joyous life is the route of pain. We discover the life God has for us when we live lives of love, sacrificing our dreams and desires for His will.

We don’t equate serving with love. For us love is about what other people do for us, not what we do for other people. We discover love when we humble ourselves, become a servant, and help people. It isn’t much fun and it is glorifying, but it is how love becomes part of our lives.

Jesus promised us a full life, but He did not promise a life in which we are comfortable and safe. The full and joyful life Jesus promised is discovered in loving God and loving people. Do you want the full life? Get out of the pews trust God with your life and love the people in your life.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What is Sin?

"Whether or not anything is a sin is not determined by what we think or how we feel about it, but solely by this: does it or does it not agree with the Word of God? Sin is not a physical, but a moral condition, and it consists in this, that a given act, behaviour, or condition of man is not what God wants it to be; it is nonconformity with the will of God...The question whether or not anything is or is not a sin, is not determined by our person opinion, our knowledge, our intention, or our will, but solely by this one fact, whether or not it is in agreement with the will of God." ~ William Pile, What the Bible Says About Grace, p. 18

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Called for a Purpose

One of the reasons I continue to be a follower of Jesus Christ is because the call God has placed on my life is a call to purpose. Just as Jesus called His first disciples away from fishing to become fishers of men (Matthew 4:19), we are called to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Calling isn’t just about believing certain things and hold on to core doctrines but it is about how we live life. Ultimately God has called us to make a difference in our world and at the very least this difference is about meeting the basic needs of people (Matthew 25:31-46). The apparent fact that many American Christians don’t live their lives this way doesn’t mean that we haven’t been called to be agents of change and the bringers of good in this world. The follower of Jesus is to make a positive difference in our families, communities, countries, and in our world. The body of Christ, the Church, is to show God’s love to the world.

Consider for a moment the evangelical atheist. To what does he/she call people? They call people away from God but what do the offer in His place? Do they believe that without God that this world will be a better place? If so what evidence do they have to support that belief? Where will the appeal to be good and loving come from when the author of good and love is removed?

Here is what I consider to be the fatal flaw of atheism: it cannot call people to live for a greater cause than self. This is not to say that many atheists don’t live to something greater than themselves. It is to say that they don’t have any means to call other people to live to a cause greater than themselves. They cannot appeal to any authority greater than their own belief of right and wrong in order to encourage people to do good. If you ask me that is very shaky ground to be own because one thing humanity has demonstrated is that we look out for self even when it causes pain for other people.

I think it is also worth noting that atheism, by its very nature, is calling people away from something instead of to something. Their call to people is away from God. They might tell us that they are calling people to reason, knowledge, education, and truth, but these things are also offered in a life following Jesus. Atheism lacks the mechanism to call people (as well as expect people) to live out their potential (which I would describe as God given).

This is what makes the life of faith in Jesus Christ superior to a life of no faith. God expects and demands that we live for others. This expectations is found throughout the New Testament. It begins with Jesus’ example and teaching, especially seen in the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:34-40), and continues in the letters of Paul (Romans 12, Galatians 6, Ephesians 2:10), James (James 1:27), Peter (1 Peter 3:9), and John (1 John 3:16-18, Revelation 2:19). The Follower of Jesus Christ can encourage (Hebrews 10:24-25) people to live lives of love and service because he/she realizes that is the type of live that is expected of us. God has made it very clear that He has called us to a life that is not focused on us.

Another exciting aspect of this call is that it takes into account our unique talents and passions. If all that we can call people to is our own belief of right and wrong and to what we think is important then what will be demanded is uniformity. The person with a concern for the environment will expect everyone to be concerned. The person concerned about suffering in Africa will expect everyone to be concerned. The person concerned about poverty in inner city America will expect everyone to be concerned. The result is that we become overwhelmed by the extent of evil and suffering and conclude that we can’t do anything about (this is assuming that we agree that something needs to be done in these situations because if there is no standard for right and wrong we may not agree what is evil and what is acceptable).

In Christianity not only do we have a standard for determining what is wrong and right and a call to give ourselves away to loving God and loving others, but are also encouraged to bring our own uniqueness to the situation. This is found in the metaphor of the Body of Christ that Paul uses for the church (Romans 12:3-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31) and the appeal of the New Testament writers to use the specific talents we have been given (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Peter 4:7-11). God has designed the Church to meet the evils and suffering of the world by giving the individuals of that body with different talents, resources, and passions. This is the calling that God has given us, to give ourselves away to something that we could never do on our own.

I remain a follower of Jesus, in spite of my doubts, because God has placed a call on my heart. That call has both a personal aspect (to serve and love those around me) and a corporate aspect (to take the love of God into the world). By living out this call I discover the live God created me to live, and that is what I want other people to discover as well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Living Differently

One of the difficult responsibilities that we face as Christians is living in the world without being part of the world. It is difficult because, for what ever reason, the world is so attractive to us. We long to be like our friends and have the stuff that we see advertised on TV. We don’t want to be different. We want to be the same as everyone else, and do it with the blessings of God. Yet God wants us to be different for the world. Consider the words of Dave Stone:
“Nowadays, if you’re sold out for Christ you probably won’t have to worry about the President throwing you into a blazing fire. But the committed Christian can expect to take some heat from a boss who expects you to be unethical, or the fiancee who tries to pressure you into being sexually active with the line, After all. we’ll be married soon...Most of us would rather fit in, than stand out. Christ is expecting us to stand our so that people can see the difference.” (I'd Rather See A Sermon, pp. 23, 24)

Doesn’t this sound like Peter wrote?
11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. (1 Peter 2:11-12, NET)

We get so caught up trying to fit into this world because the things of this world seem so real to us. This world is so real because it is right here for us to see, touch and feel. This world is right at our fingertips. The same cannot be said about God’s blessings. Though they are abundant and constant, so often they seem to be off in the distant future in a different place. It is hard to follow the wisdom of God when it seems to go against the wisdom of this world. Too often God seems to make no sense to us when compared to the advice we get from our friends.

No matter what we desire God wants us to live differently from the world. We may not see the compromise in watching certain movies, with the jokes that we tell, or even the clothes that we wear, but God does. This is what God thinks when we try to live like the world.
4 Adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever decides to be the world's friend makes himself God's enemy. 5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, "The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning"? 6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." (James 4: 4-6; NET)

We cannot desire the things of this world and the things of God at the same time. God is very exclusive when it comes to our relationship with Him. God wants us 24/7. He will not tolerate us giving Him Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. God wants it all, and more than that God deserves it all.

Take a look at the words the James used when he talked about people who wanted both God and the world. James calls such people adulterers and enemies of God. Those are not nice things to be, but that is what we allow ourselves to become when we desire to be like this world in our speech, actions, dreams, appearance, and purpose. God wants us to be different. Are you going to be exclusive in your relationship with God?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Forgiving the Church

"Preserving and strengthening that relationship to God and living out its implications in an undiscerning and troubled world is the great challenge to the Christian. For all of its failings, the church as a whole is an ally in that cause. The reflective Christian can draw great strength and insight from it if he sees clearly what it is and is not, forgiving the church its trespasses as he is forgiven his own." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p. 44

Sunday Video -- Relevant or Unique?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Making the Most of Our Talents

“Excellence is doing the best with what you have.” Bo Boshers; Student Ministry for the 21st Century, p. 41

A battle that I constantly fight with myself is this attitude of “If I only....” I believe that most people at one time or another has experienced this. “If I only had musical ability I would do a special on Sunday.” or “If I only made $100,000, then I would tithe.” Hopefully you see my point. Too often we focus on what we don’t have rather than doing the best with what we do have. We write up our failures and our lack of effort to the fact that we don’t have this or that.

Many times as we look around the Church and our local church families we see all sorts of things that could be done. What keeps us from making changes is this idea: “If we only...” Sure it would be nice if money wasn’t an issue, if we had the time and the personnel to do all these great and wonderful things, or if tradition wouldn't tie our hands, but wishing doesn’t make it happen.

There is a lesson from the Bible that we can apply here. Jesus told a parable about a rich man who went off on a long journey. Before going on that journey the man called three of his servants together. To each of these men he gives a sum of money. The first he gives five talents, to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. You know the story, the man is gone for a long time, but the servants do different things with their money. The first two invest it and double the money they had been given and the third one buries his for safe keeping. When the man comes back he is pleased with the first two but is furious with the last one.

One lesson that we can take from this parable, found in Matthew 25:14-30, is a simple one. We recognize that God has blessed each one of us differently, and therefore He doesn’t expect us to be alike. What God does expect is that we use the talents and the blessings He has given us to build His kingdom. We don’t need to be worrying about what we don’t have, because God has provided us with the things we need to impact the people we know and make a difference in the place we live.

Don’t start playing the, “If I only..” game. Instead think about what God has given you, and use that to the best of your ability. Pursue excellence, and when we do, we will discover that we can do so much with what we already have.

Submission to the Text

"Our stance is submission to whatever the text says, regardless of what that means for our thinking and lifestyle. We are using a slippery escape when we distort the interpretation so that it fits our predispositions; we are not finding a slippery escape when we accept the text as it stands, regardless of its implications for life. Every honest interpreter can give countless examples of find himself or herself to be simply wrong and in need of God's grace as a result of reading the Bible with the purpose of hearing God's word." ~ Scot McKnight; The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians; p. 56

Friday, November 02, 2007

He Gave Himself

In my humble opinion the greatest way we can communicate love is to give ourselves. That requires a sacrifice of our time, of our agendas, and of our money so we provide that person we love what they need most. It isn't simply buying flowers to say I am sorry, but actually showing repentance and forgiveness. It isn't indulging your child with every want, but making sure you spend time with him so you can positively influence his life. Without giving of ourselves we are unable to truly communicate our love to others.

In order to show His love for us, Jesus, gave Himself for us. It was a sacrifice that echoes through history and echoes into eternity. It is because of this sacrifice which provides so much hope for the follower of Jesus Christ. Read what the apostle Paul wrote as he began his letter to the Galatian Christians:
1 From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) 2 and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia. 3 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5; NET)

Paul begins by presenting his authority to write to them. He is an apostle, appointed by God through Jesus Christ, and therefore stands as His representative. Not only is he writing from a position of authority, but he is writing with the approval of the Church. Paul's position is strengthened by the weight of church doctrine.

The Apostle reminds them that they received both grace and peace from God, through Jesus, and therefore everything that Paul has to tell them should be filtered through that reality. They are recipients of grace because they have been redeemed and given a place in God's family. This has nothing to do with the things they have done, but has everything to do with what Jesus has done.

They are recipients of peace because no longer are they living as enemies against God, now they are counted as His sons and daughters. They have moved from enemies to family and therefore no longer at war with the Creator. Peace from guilt, meaningless, and shame begins to reign in their hearts. This is the reality that they have begun to experience.

Paul tells us this reality is due to one thing: the sacrifice of Jesus. I want to stop and camp out for a moment in verse 4. What Paul is writing about evidence that God loves us. It shows us that He is willing to do whatever it takes to have a relationship with us. I like what Don Earl Boatman wrote in his commentary concerning this verse:
"He gave: Not gold, not a paschal lamb, not an angel, but self. Not a moral code, nor a new political scheme, but self. He could have sent twelve legions of angels. He gave himself humbly. He gave himself by the laws of Sacrifice, Ransom, and Justice...He did not give himself for a crown, a kingdom, or our goodness, but for our sins." (Guidance From Galatians, p. 18)

To be honest with you I don't understand how Jesus' death deals with my sins. It is a mystery to me, but I do know that I have experienced God's grace and peace. I don't know the mechanics of it, but I know the reality of it. No longer am I bound to the evil world in which we live, but I am fear to pursue God's will.

Jesus gave Himself and that sacrifice still declares the love God has for us. We did not personally witness that sacrifice, but every Christian is the product of someone who did. The death and resurrection (which gave meaning to Jesus' death) spurred a handful of disciples to declare God's love to a hostile world. Those effects are still felt in each new person who surrenders their lives to Jesus. The way we know God loves us is through the sacrifice of Jesus.

When we experience the love of another person, especially when it done at a great cost to them, we cannot help but return that love. We make time for them in our schedules and do nice things for them. That is exactly the reaction we should have for God because of the love He has shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Worship is the way we love God. I think that is the least that we can do.

Holding On To Our Beliefs

"We believe what we do about the world, of course, for many different reasons. All ways of explaining the world tend to be self-verifying and self-sustaining. An outlook does not have to be 'right' in order to seem right. It need not be logical (though most people will consider their position reasonable), nor consistent, nor thorough, nor defendable, nor anything else to fulfill its primary function--providing an explanation of things. Once in operation, a belief system processes all information, all evidence, in its own terms, appropriating that which verifies its outlook and defusing or ignoring anything else." ~ Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, p. 23

Accept the Differences

Most of us understand that people are different and those differences are a good thing. The world would be a boring place if everyone beli...