Category: theology

Liturgical or Contemporary Worship- Which one from God?

If our gatherings are not marked by love- that is, attending to the genuine needs, desires, and wants of those around us, rather than seeking our own fulfillments- they are ‘nothing.’ As far as I am concerned, I would be happy to endure just about any kind of ‘worship’ form if I saw a community that was geared to look out for each other, even to the point of laying down their lives for each other (1 John 3:16).

Now, of course there is some attending to needs in the way gatherings are structured. It isn’t an entirely loveless endeavor, and of course the whole work of the Church does not occur one hour on one day a week. You wouldn’t know this from listening to those engaged in the ‘Worship’ Wars, though. I honestly can’t remember the last time I read something by either side where ‘love’ was mentioned at all.

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Three words Christians abuse: church, worship, love

The title of this post does not do the matter justice.  The word ‘abuse’ is too mild, and it might be even more accurate to say that in actual fact the sweeping trend within Christendom is that there is outright plain ignorance on what these terms mean.  The charge only matters at all to those […]

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Violence is never the answer: Except when it is…

The platitude is dangerous. On the one hand, when we transmit it, we transmit something we know is not actually true. That’s bad policy right there. On the other hand, it shuts down an important area of human experience that requires extensive critical thinking. In a world filled with evil and malignant men, every good person must be prepared in their mind for what they should do given certain eventualities… because we know from the newspaper and history book that these things do happen. Another danger to the platitude is that it sets people up for guilt after they perform a violent- but righteous- act. Finally, if someone has never actually thought about the matter before and all they’ve been fed is the platitude, they might freeze up and do nothing, or flee when they should fight.

I can think of no better example then the story that emerged out of the Virginia Tech massacre of Liviu Librescu. Here is a survivor of the holocaust, gunned down through the door that he refused to open for the gunman.

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KFUO AM radio interview on the existence of God

Yesterday I was on KFUO AM radio out of St. Louis, MO. You can listen to the segment here:

KFUOInterviewJune17 (12.5 MiB, 1,174 hits)

I believe I’m in the first half of the segment.

Topic: “Can you prove there is a God?”

We could tackle this topic another 3 times before we’ve covered a fraction of what could be said.

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They Hyper-Defense of God: Reprise

God has chosen to operate through people and tangible, physical stuff like sound waves (the Word), water (baptism), and bread and wine (the Eucharist). (Some will object to baptism and the Eucharist, but at least people and the Word should be conceded). To attack such things in the name of spirituality is to attack that which the Spirit is actually using. In fact, this line of attack sounds an awful lot like Gnosticism, which considers matter inherently corrupted and only the spiritual things pure.

As a quick, pointed example, the accusation that the Christian community abhors all things concerning sex isn’t an entirely fabricated. There are indeed Christians who will talk about sex as though it were some base, physical act that only serves to get in the way of spiritual pursuits. But God made us as sexual beings, and marriage was God’s way of creating godly children (Mal. 2). One gets the idea for some Christians that God permits people to have sex, but only reluctantly- so we should try very hard not to enjoy it and participate in it only as duty requires. Yea, compare and contrast that with the Song of Solomon, why don’t you!

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Love and the Incarnation and the Hyper-Defense of God

But sometimes they just get all in a fit all the same if you include people as agents carrying out God’s mission. That is when you see the ‘hyper-defense’ on display, as if by acknowledging the fact that God uses people to carry out his will, that takes away from the credit that God rightly deserves.

The simple fact is that the Biblical witness is pretty clear: God does tend to use people to carry out his plans on earth. He could have delivered the Israelites from Egypt without involving Moses at all. Sure enough, it was by God’s power that the people were delivered, but he still brought Moses in. Then of course Jesus appointed disciples to go out after his death and resurrection to spread the word. God certainly could have just personally appeared to each and every person on the planet and delivered his message directly. For that matter, he could speak into our minds and be done with it. But he doesn’t do that. Not only does he work through ‘means,’ but he works through people- that is, people themselves are means.

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C.S. Lewis on Universal Health Care and the Love of Some

I was reading CS Lewis’s The Four Loves and came across the quote below. Obviously, Lewis is not specifically addressing universal health care or liberalism or the question of using the government to administer love. Even Christians can be found thinking that it is a noble expression of a loving society to have the government do the loving… and this with no apparent thought to the actual effect that this ‘loving’ will have on the people ‘loved’ and the attitude it fuels in the people-government doing the ‘loving.’ The most important thing seems to be that, well, people’s intentions are good, and it’s better to do something rather than nothing. Here is the quote:

This [is] Gift-love, but one that needs to give; therefore needs to be needed. But the proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication. We must aim at making ourselves superfluous. The hour when we can say “They need me no longer” shall be our reward. But the instinct, simply in its own nature, has no power to fulfil this law. The instinct desires the good of its object, but not simply; only the good it can itself give. A much higher love- a love which desires the good of the object as such, from whatever source that good comes- must step in and help or tame the instinct before it can make the abdication. And of course it often does. But where it does not, the ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs. It will do this all the more ruthlessly because it thinks (in one sense truly) that it is a Gift-love and therefore regards itself as “unselfish.” (pgs 50-51)

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Video of pro-life presentation in Sparta Topic: Be a Hero

This is the video of the presentation I delivered in Jan, 2010. The pro-life topic title was: “Be a hero.”

Direct link to video.

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Antony Flew Goes to Heaven: A Parable

Readers of this blog know that I have an interest in Antony Flew, having even had the honor of corresponded with him.   Click here for a list of posts I’ve written regarding Dr. Flew.  The short story below may be understood better by some if you read this particular post of mine where I discuss […]

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A Call to Churches to Create Careers in Apologetics

This article discussing emerging church staff positions crossed my desk and caught my attention. According to the article, prevailing trends in society and in the Church (Institutional) we can see these positions being developed or created:

The Network Administrator
The Multicultural Children’s Director
The Chief of Staff
The Operations Pastor
The Creative Arts Director
The Boomer Director
The Spiritual Growth Pastor

I think this list, though not portrayed as comprehensive, is probably pretty accurate. Given my background, I noticed that one position is not mentioned: Apologetics Director. I think that is pretty accurate, too.

I find this to be pretty interesting and indicative of the state of the Church, Inc. today. Not to take away anything from the positions mentioned above or positions that may already exist, but we live in a society where Christianity is being deliberately attacked at a number of levels. At the same time, the culture itself represents challenges to Christianity less intentionally, in the form of hundreds and even thousands of new world views for Christians to encounter and have to deal with.

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Essay published on Apologetics315.com on Christianity and the nature of Judaism

Apologetics315 is publishing an essay series on the veracity of Christianity. I was asked to contribute an essay. That essay was published today. You should take some time to check out the other essays, too.

Much ink has been spilled in defense of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, and I myself have spilled my fair share. Similarly, the stunning explosion of the Christian Church within the Roman Empire has been raised as a phenomenon that requires explanation and a dead man rising from the dead is the best one. These efforts are valid, but their weight cannot be appreciated without first knowing the context behind the arguments. We must understand the Jewish people, their history and religion.

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I am my child’s advocate; you aren’t.

I am my child’s advocate.

He cannot speak for himself. She cannot understand the issues. Yet the choices we make today will impact them forever. I know my children. I know the issues. You are not my child’s advocate. I am.

You are quite certain my child should be socialized according to your dictates.

For thousands of years civilization got along just great without your professional opinion.

If I choose to make use of your services, it is as my instrument exerting my authority as my child’s advocate. My family is not the arbitrary tool of the state to achieve the state’s ends. My family uses the state- or doesn’t- as its tool. I dispense with it as I determine.

Turn your own family into a machination of the state. Leave mine alone.

I am my child’s advocate.

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Living Epistles

The Bible says to not think it strange when a fiery trial comes along. How come we do? Because as “advanced” as we are in this new millenium, we are made of the same stuff as those who lived in the first century. Hebrews 11 speaks as loudly today as it did when it was […]

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We Were Made For Relationship

We were made for relationship. Online social networks, reality television programs, Twitter, IM, email, blogs, texting, sports and entertainment events… we are wired to connect. Christians explain that we need this connection, first with God. We say that people are trying to fill an empty place in their hearts and often look for other things to satisfy […]

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We were made for relationship.

Online social networks, reality television programs, Twitter, IM, email, blogs, texting, sports and entertainment events… we are wired to connect.

Christians explain that we need this connection, first with God. We say that people are trying to fill an empty place in their hearts and often look for other things to satisfy that empty place. We say that God, the Creator of humanity, the Master Designer and Builder, made us so that we would need that relationship with Him. Here we see a God that loves us, our response to His love, and loving Him back. Because once the God kind of love is realized and understood it is difficult to turn away.

Secondly, we have relationship with each other. The family is a perfect example of God’s idea of relationship on the earth. Each family member has a role according to their gender as outlined in the scripture. Here we see honor, respect, gratitude, submission, protection, value and love expressed. Parents love children. Children love parents.

This doesn’t mean a perfect family without difficulties, but here is the model.

Whether our relationships are frequent or infrequent, depending on one’s desires (or situation), the bottom line is we have the capacity to love and be loved.

Love is a powerful force in anyone’s life. The most miserable among us can be touched by small doses of unconditional, continual love. Even a kind gesture from a stranger can warm our hearts.

God’s love is the most powerful. We recognize in human terms that anyone who dies on behalf of someone else is a hero. The Creator of the Universe became flesh and dwelt among humanity because He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to redeem mankind from the destructive force and eternal consequence of sin. This love is truly life-changing.

Thing is, we can get lazy, forgetful, and take so much for granted. We are made of the same stuff as the Israelites who didn’t seem to remember that God had provided for them in the wilderness and the men who actually walked with Jesus were given instructions do this in remembrance of Me.
The powerful force of love has touched the Christian and now it is up to us do go and do likewise.

If we are careful to assess ourselves since our hearts are continually in need of searching, we will find that it’s more appealing to accomadate ourselves and not others. Yet, the scripture continually speaks to us about relationship with God and each other. From the opening of the first chapter in Genesis to the closing words of Revelation, it’s all about relationship. This should be our prime focus as we live out our lives.

What will this look like? Well, it will look like many things. Giving ourselves to people comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. Yet, as I’ve searched my own heart, I have often found times when it was certainly easier to write a check for someone else doing the work. How about me? Was I willing to be spent? That would mean perhaps that someone would inconvenience me…like go an extra mile. What if I didn’t have the desire time to go the first mile?

This isn’t a post about measuring love with the greatest being Mother Theresa compared to one living in suburbia who supports the work of Mother Theresa. This is about the willingness to be spent if called upon. And we all get called upon, don’t we?

Christians reflect the love of God through loving each other. And we know that Jesus said the world will know we are His through our love for each other. There are many good people out there doing good things for others who are not of the Christian faith or Atheists. What is going to make us look different than them? Should we look different? We should if we believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We should if we believe there is only one way to possess eternal life.

And this love is going to be a divine kind of love that goes beyond the call of duty. It will be sacrificial since there is no self interest, but places the interest of others before him or herself (1 Corinthians 13). The world at best has conditions. We should have none. And that is what speaks. No matter the economic, religious, political, cultural, or language barriers, the human heart is the human heart and will receive accordingly.

to be continued…
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