Monthly Archives: January 2008

Language Lessons

I am not sure whether to laugh or cry at this news.  Apparently, some not so bright people in the south are starting to use the word Canadians to refer to black people.  What am I supposed to do now.  I live near Canada these days, but I am originally from the south.  Are people going to start thinking I am a racist when I talk about Canadians?  I guess this is further proof of the crazy world we live in today.  

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I am working on a paper for one of my classes at Liberty and it got me to thinking.  What is it about us that makes us feel as if we need to defend God and His nature.  When the Bible clearly says over and over again that we are not able to understand God’s ways completely, why do we feel like we should rush in on some topic that seems incomprehesible and quickly start explaining.  One of these areas is the nature of hell and eternal punishment.  There are many people that are offended by the idea that God can be called merciful and yet allow someone to spend eternity in a place that is undoubtedly the worst place in the universe to be.  Some will go so far as to say that they are unwilling to accept or believe in a God that could do such a thing.  My only answer to that is to say that I may not understand it fully or be able to explain it to that person’s liking, but I am not about to try and change what God has told us in no uncertain terms.  I am more than willing to live and let live when there is no clear view or understanding on a subject (there are plenty of them), but I have no desire to do theological backflips and contortions just to make someone feel better either.  If God is the Being that the Bible says He is, and I believe that to be true with good reason, then I am in no position to try and be His PR guy to someone else.  He is big enough and has enough credibilty on His own, without me trying to stand in His defense.  

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Leaky Pipes

Well, the -55 wind chill or the -30 air temp managed to freeze up the pipes to the remodeled bathroom upstairs.  I was greeted this morning with a fun plumbing adventure as I first shut off the water and then tried to determine if it was just the hot or the cold or both that had sprung a leak directly about our kitchen.  It appears to be both.  So after we have our church folks over Sunday night for fellowship and Super Bowl fun (with our own halftime show of course), we will be tearing out the ceiling in the kitchen next week.  Pray that we will be able to find the culprit areas with minimal collateral damage to the house.  Everything else is going well.  We are seeing a steady increase it seems in attendance at Awana and we have been asked about starting a Good News club in the school here.  They have done it in the past and it has been very effective at sharing the Gospel with the kids.  We are not sure about the time commitment but have decided to go ahead and check things out to see where they take us.  Pray for us about that as well.

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Circular Reasoning

Maybe it is because of this Philosophy class, but I find myself more than a little annoyed when someone argues in a circle.  You know what I mean.  For instance, I have decided that I like Ron Paul in the Republican Presidential primary.  Actually, it’s a caucus here, which I have never done before so it ought to be interesting to say the least.  But when I talk to some people, whom I will not name, it turns out that they can’t support him.  Which is fine with me, except that the reason that they can’t support him is because he doesn’t/won’t get enough votes.  When I ask, if it is possible that the reason he doesn’t get enough votes is because of this attitude, I inevitably get the brush off.  It just drives me a little crazy that someone who can be otherwise very intelligent and thoughtful can be trapped within such a silly logical loop.  I am one of those people who has voted for the  Constitution party presidential candidate in the past because I stick with my principles before I stick with a party.  My friend thinks I am stubborn for not bowing to practicality and maybe I am stubborn.  But in this case I consider it a good thing.  I truly believe that if I have the priviledge to vote for people who have an influence on our government then I should at least do so with a sense of obligation and conviction to principles that will not bend.  In an election year where Rush Limbaugh has finally said that he might not vote for the Republican nominee for president depending on who it is, I feel vindicated that I have been on the right (pun intended) side of things for the entire time.
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More School News

I finally did it.  I applied for seminary with Liberty’s DLP program.  I am planning on starting during the summer.  Actually, I am pretty excited about it.  It’s funny, but the more writing I do, the more I am beginning to enjoy doing it (which will be a good thing).  Of course, it helps that I am able to do all of my writing at a computer keyboard.  If I had to do this by hand with a pencil or pen, I am not sure I could take it.  I never much cared for writing like that anyway.  

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I like to read a lot.  I am looking forward to getting a chance to read Vox Day’s new book, The Irrational Atheist.  But today, as I was reading his blog I saw a post that detailed arguments from a reader centered partially around Carl Sagan’s quote, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  Vox did a wonderful job of highlighting the logical problems in this claim, but I have now heard this phrase twice this week and would like to take a different tack on it.  Since, the extraordinary claim part is undefined let me fill this in for the case of Christianity.  Perhaps the most extraordinary claim that drives many people crazy, indeed it appeared to be the main problem this guy had with it as well, is that it claims to have the exclusive means of pleasing God and entering Heaven.  The gentleman was asking how to choose which religion is right, so I feel this is a fair assumption to make.  Taking this in mind, let’s look at a few facts.  Christianity is centered on the person of Jesus Christ and His claims.  He is the one who claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life and in fact followed that up by saying that no one could get to Heaven except through Him.  This qualifies as an extraordinary claim.  What kind of extraordinary evidence did He present to back it up?  You can probably guess my answer here; His resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion.  There is a multitude of reasonable evidence to support the claims made by the disciples that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.  This claim would certainly be good evidence that His teachings were true, in fact this evidence could be considered extraordinary since it doesn’t happen every day.  I could certainly attempt to reproduce the list of evidence here, but in the interest of time, let me instead point you to the resources that I have used to study and discover much of this for myself.  The works of Josh McDowell are my favorites as he was an atheist who set out to disprove the resurrection as a historical event.  In the process, the data he collected led him to the unthinkable conclusion that the resurrection had indeed happened.  More recently, and part of the inspiration behind this post in fact, I have become aware of the work of Dr. Gary Habermas at Liberty University.  His website gives a lot of great information as well.  I encourage you to look at the facts with a critical mind.  God can withstand scrutiny.  He has given us extraordinary evidence to back His extraordinary claim, because it is the center of the Christian faith.
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There are plenty of things that I don’t necessarily like about school.  I get restless sometimes during lectures when the professor keeps saying stuff that I already understand or keeps repeating stuff that I already got.  I don’t like busywork, although to be fair the classes I take through the DLP program at Liberty aren’t big on busywork type assignments for the most part.  But what I do love is the learning part.  I enjoy seeing things in a new light and gaining new perspective on things that I have maybe known for a long time.  Today my schoolwork prompted me to some thoughts about the foundations of our faith.  I don’t feel like trying to reproduce the novel here, but I posted it on my other blog.
On a similar note, for those who may not know, this is my final term to finish my degree at Liberty University.  I am excited about finally completing this after only 15 years.  : P  I am enjoying it so much that I am still considering very strongly going on to get a Masters degree as well.  Please keep me in your prayers as I work through this time.  

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Notes from the Freezer : )

I have been meaning to post a couple of times now, but things always seem to come up.  We are doing well.  The kids haven’t been able to play outside lately because the temperature and/or wind chill has been below zero for most of the last week or so.  Right now as I am writing it is actually 5 above but it still feels like -12.  It isn’t too bad but we don’t get out and around as much in this weather.  I go out to run errands or check in on people to say hi and talk or whatever, but that’s about it.  We got carpet done at the church recently.  I have some before pictures but no after pictures yet.  I will get some and post them here.  On another front, after speaking at the youth thing a couple of weeks ago, I have been asked to do some music and speak at a Valentine’s banquet for another church here in town.  They even offered to provide a babysitter for us so Amelia could come too.  So I will be doing that on Valentine’s.  I am looking forward to it.  

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Forward Momentum

Well, we are plugging right along in the new year.  I am starting to find a groove as a pastor.  I feel like I am beginning to understand better how to minister as a senior pastor instead of as the “youth guy”.  Last night, I was invited to speak and sing at a weekly youth gathering here in town.  It was a lot of fun for me and I think the youth there enjoyed it as well.  I am attempting my first series of sermons on 1 Timothy and I am excited about that as well.  Also, I am starting school again.  This is my last term and I have three classes to finish my bachelor’s degree in Religion.  I have been praying and thinking about doing a master’s degree when I finish.  Please pray with me on what degree I should pursue if any.  
We are finding out I think what the true meaning of cabin fever is.  It isn’t us so much as it is the kids, who can’t run around outside in the yard and are not allowed to run inside the house or the church.  They have their moments of behaving really great and then they turn around and you wonder what happened to them.  Here is a picture of them before we left for church Sunday morning

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The real danger of Joel Osteen

I was reading another blog.  One that I get to about once or twice a month called the Internet Monk.  I first found him a few years back before we moved from Arkansas to South Dakota.  I could relate to some of the questions he raised back then about the Catholic faith.  I am one who studies what I believe and even questions it at times to make sure that what I believe is true.  After all, if it doesn’t withstand scrutiny then why believe it?  I enjoy reading there and today in my perusal I ran across a reference to a story that Slate did about Joel Osteen.  I must admit that Mr. Osteen is one of those folks who have caught my attention on many occaisions for his lack of sound theology.  I heard the interview on Larry King where he said he doesn’t talk about sin.  I have even taken the time to watch a couple of times when he was on TV.  I must say that I have always considered him dangerous in the sense that he gives enough of the truth to grab people and mislead them.  I think he fits the descriptions given in 2 Timothy of teachers who will say what their audience wants to hear.  There are several warnings in both 1 and 2 Timothy that fit the situation actually.  In any case, this story in Slate is fascinating because it is written by a publication that I am pretty sure no one would classify as religious.  As I have aged and matured, I have been less and less willing to pass judgment on believers whose doctrine didn’t match mine completely, but only to the extent that those believers are still teaching the truth about the gospel of Christ.  That all men are sinners (yes, there is that word again), and that the only means of payment for that debt of sin before God is the blood of Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross and then rose from the dead on the third day.  If a “minister” is unwilling to even address sin or its consequences in our relationship with God then it is an automatic nonstarter with me.  Joel Osteen is preaching a gospel that reduces God to a personal assistant, or as the writer in Slate says, “This is a long, long way down the road from the inscrutable, infant-damning theology of this country’s Calvinist forebears—it is, rather, a just-in-time economy’s vision of salvation, an eerily collapsible spiritual narcissism that downgrades the divine image into the job description for a lifestyle concierge.”  I am disturbed by this notion in part because this writer has hit on one of the things that has always bothered me in the health and wealth gospel.  There are certainly verses in the Bible that point to God’s desire for us to do well and to be well, but there are plenty more that indicate that this is not the normal state of affairs for everyone.  Jesus said to His disciples that they would have trouble in this world (John 16:33).  Bible doctrine is no good if it isn’t true to the whole counsel of Scripture.  I could go on but there are others who have said this much more succinctly.

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