Getting a little personal…

Listening to KLOVE: Holy is the Lord – Chris Tomlin

Alright, I’ll admit it.  I haven’t exactly made this blog very personal.  I thought I’d use it to write “theological” essays periodically, but more often it would be an online journal.  I guess I haven’t felt much need to do that as of yet.

I used to journal a lot, but time doesn’t permit me anymore…you can see that it is now almost 1AM, so ask me if this was a good idea tomorrow, (errr today?)

Anyway, I find great joy in reading Abbie‘s and Erin‘s blog posts.  And I don’t want to deprive my readers of getting a glimpse of me from a different perspective than just the “guy-always-talking-about-the-bible” perspective you all must have about me already.  That being said, I have two more Sunday school teachings to upload, but I want to adjust the audio slightly.

So what am I doing up so late?  I suppose I’m celebrating.  God is Good, and all occasions are a reason to celebrate His Glory.   There I go again! I won’t apologize…I just can’t get enough of Him.  But as a matter of fact, God’s grace is the reason to celebrate.  Let me give you some background.  If you are bored easily…well if you are bored easily, you aren’t still reading I’d suppose.

Thursday was an exciting day; I took 2 of my kids to a pizza challenge.  This worked out nicely because one of my kids misbehaved and had to stay home.  So I had my big ones with me and no wife to hold me back from eating “all you can eat pizza.”  She knows my tendencies and tried to warn me, but I heeded not! We had a good time, we all ate a little too much pizza, me maybe more than a little too much.  But we made it home safely and got to bed.  I had a full day of work ahead of me, and a busy Saturday and Sunday to look ahead to.

Then I couldn’t sleep around midnight that night.  Without getting graphic, I became VERY ILL.  Now I felt terrible.  I knew I should have listened.  I felt like I was being punished for gluttony.  I felt like I was suffering for not listening to my wife’s loving plea for me to take care of myself.  I spent hours praying, a rarity for most people probably, including me.

I am blessed with an extremely compassionate wife, so I was able to stay in bed all morning and was tended to.  I called into work (which I’m not a fan of since I am hourly), and spent the day on the couch.  By now, I’ve committed myself to better discipline.  I am convinced I had food poisoning at this point.  Later I thought it might have been a flu.  Who knows.  Either way, my body was utterly useless.  I found 9 minutes later that day to sit at the computer and check messages before I got tired.  My lovely wife cooked some AMAZING smelling food that day that just nauseated me due to my condition.  She’s an affectionate woman and I continuously pushed her away and hurt her feelings because I felt so ill I didn’t want to be touched most of the day.  A day of work was trashed, a day with my wife was gone and my evening with my children was fading quickly.  I don’t remember much more…I think I slept most of it.  Although, my son made me a nice card I saw this morning… 🙂

If that was the end of the story, I suppose some would feel for me.  But then Saturday morning there was a huge mixup at my daughter’s soccer which I am the head coach for.  I had a conflict with my other children’s flag football team which I also coach.  It sounds like I really disappointed a lot of people that day.  I already felt terrible, and then that.  I figured I could get through it.  I do believe that God allows things to happen.  In the meantime, I’m headed to the OSU spring game to pass out tracts and, hopefully, preach and witness.  All we ended up doing was passing out tracts, but it was worth it because all 3 of my kids came.  That’s ok, I need to get home anyway to prepare for Sunday School and work on the church website which I was falling behind on!

Then Sunday morning comes, I’m still exhausted.  I’m finally eating normally.  I started my discipline already and was doing ok with it…good news.  Then I stand up at church in the morning service to encourage my church family for their commitment to prayer.  I made a quick reference to the fact that if they didn’t pray on Saturday according to their commitment that they should consider why they missed this important date.  SOUNDS GREAT NOW AND BEFORE, BUT WHEN I ACTUALLY SAID IT, IT SOUNDED LIKE I WAS ASKING PEOPLE TO WRITE DOWN A CONFESSION AS TO WHY THEY DIDN’T PRAY.  I didn’t realize this either.  NOW I FEEL REALLY STUPID.

I feel terrible.  I don’t have any idea how many people I hurt or to what extent.  But here is the good part: TONIGHT I CAN CELEBRATE.  Because I am saved by grace through faith alone.  With Jesus Christ there is always hope.  Years ago…maybe months ago…maybe weeks ago…I don’t know because this all happened this weekend, I would have been JUMPING to my own defense.  I would have really fretted over all this.  I do regret my mistakes, misspeaking, gluttony and poor planning, but not in my formerly self-pitying way.  I simply want to see reconciliation in all this.  I have already apologized to the soccer team via an email, and I’m mentally committed to making sure nothing like that happens again, as much as that’s in my power.  And I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to make things right at church.  I just desire forgiveness from the offended.  I do want them to know that I never intended what it sounded like, but does it really matter in the long run?  I mean, it might help some, but ultimately, if someone really thought I said what they thought I said, couldn’t they still find it in their heart to forgive me?  And if they couldn’t…they may have a bigger problem than I do, so I’m not going to worry about my reputation, but rather, my attitude toward others.

This is reason to celebrate.  A gift of humility.  God has granted me an ability I never had…NEVER WANTED…to set aside my pride and desire to be liked, exalted, though highly of, and has allowed me to identify with Jesus.  Isa 53:7 ESV  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  To me, this verse speaks volumes of humility.  Keeping in mind that Jesus truly was blameless, and had the power at any time to stop the crucifixion, it is an even more exciting display of His Holy Perfection of Humility than we could ever really fathom.  I’ll be happy to tell people I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness and leave the rest up to God….it’s up to Him anyway, isn’t it? By the way, I’m not imagining myself being led to a slaughter, I’m just identifying with the part where he ‘opened not his mouth.’ I am making a choice, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to not get defensive, which is a big improvement in my life. I’ll enjoy resting in Christ.

Are Christians lucky?

How many times have you heard the phrase, “Good luck!”  Several times this week alone, maybe.  I hear people say they are lucky almost daily.  I’ll admit it’s a minor issue, but when I hear Christians say this word, as if it has some real meaning, I get quite disappointed.  Consider my exhortation.

The definition of luck according to

1 a: a force that brings good fortune or adversity b: the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual

I urge you to consider what the Bible has to say about the force that brings good fortune or adversity:

{Emphasis my own}

(1 Timothy 6:13-15) 13 I charge you in the presence of God…14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

(Acts 4:24)  And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,

And for an OT reference: (Proverbs 21:1) The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

Simply put, I will make the claim that GOD ALONE is the supreme power of the universe.  There is no concept of “luck” as we use it today.  Luck is the idea that there is an external force that determines the outcomes of events.  For example, a roll of a pair of dice or whether you get a job or not.  I defy this and say that God is sovereign over every event.  I’ll go so far as to say luck is the antithesis of a sovereign God; that a rational person cannot actually claim faith in the One True God of the universe and believe in luck.

So does God determine luck?  In a sense, from a human perspective this would be our conclusion.  God does determine or allow all events, and so from a human idea, he is the ultimate force that actually does determine good fortune.  He IS what we consider luck.  But the problem is that luck is not real.  God is real.  Luck is superstition and belief in it is ultimately idolatry because it ascribes to something other than God the power which is reserved only for God.  Luck is a human explanation for things that we see in the world, an explanation born out of a desire to suppress the truth we know in our hearts as the existence of God.  Romans 1:18-19 reminds us that human beings despise the accountability we have to this creation.  Read my post on the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ if you do not understand this point.

So what’s my point? Dear Christian reader, I implore you with all humility and grace to remove this word from your vocabulary.  Drop the excuse that it is just a “phrase” you use, even if you in all honesty mean nothing by it.  Don’t you want to be different from the rest of the world?  Do you want to cause an immature brother or sister to stumble?  What if a new Christian was looking up to you for guidance…what kind of example would that set for where you put your faith?  Hold yourself to a higher standard. Speak always as if you really believe that God is the ONLY SOVEREIGN, and that your faith is in Him alone.  Be different.  Be peculiar.  Be God honoring, Christ centered, and loving enough toward others to speak like someone who has been set aside for a purpose, to honor and glorify God alone.

The kind of man I look up to now…

John Newton lived 82 years and preached and had an active ministry until beset by fading health in the last two years of his life. Even then, Newton never ceased to be amazed by God’s grace and told his friends:

My memory is nearly gone;

but I remember two… things;

That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.

The Love of God

You can listen to my teaching,

“The Love of God” in the player below.

This was presented at Berean Baptist Church, Sunday April 4, 2010.

If the player is not working or you would like to download the teaching, use the link below.

The Love of God

The Patience of God

You can listen to my teaching,

“The Patience of God” in the player below.

This was presented at Berean Baptist Church, Sunday March 28, 2010.

If the player is not working or you would like to download the teaching, use the link below.

The Patience of God

Presuppose no apology for presuppositional apologetics.

I am guessing that the problem with a clever title is that the content will never quite match. And then there’s the problem of making the assumption that my title is clever, and thus opening the door for people to mock me. Nevertheless, I press forward.

As the title depicts, I do not intend to tell you I’m sorry for practicing what is commonly called presuppositional apologetics. I am going to instead try to provide a working definition of this term, an explanation of its use and prove as well that all men actually employ a form of it. This has been done by several others better than I, but in my effort to write prolifically, I’ve found that most topics have already been written about! Thus, I’m destined to repeat subject matter.

First, I’ll narrowly define presuppositional apologetics as “using the Bible to defend the Bible.” In other words, a presuppositional apologist “presupposes” the veracity of the Bible, the truthfulness of the Bible, the inerrancy of the Bible when giving a defense of the doctrines contained therein. The contrary is people who attempt to do what they would describe as “argue from reason” or “special pleading.” From a biblical apologetics standpoint, this could be seen as the contrast between the following two scenarios.

Some Christian apologists will attempt to persuade you to believe there is a God by pointing to His creation, pointing to evidence that He exists like irreducible complexity in cells, etc. The idea being that if they can show you that God can be inferred, that God is also, in fact, implied, and you will believe. They may make statements like, “I can prove creation is true without using the Bible.” Or, “Look at the evidence for Jesus’s death and resurrection.” Often items like testimonies will be used as “proofs” of God, independent of scripture. This paragraph is a gross generalization, and should be treated as such.

A presuppositional Christian apologist will argue from scripture that God created everything. Everything that they attempt to assert, or prove, will be based on the fact that it is declared or implied by the Bible. Even the fact that the Bible is true, is only argued to be true from the fact that the Bible declares itself to be true. It is the Word of God because God says its His Word. This is clearly a circular argument…but an OK one, since the Bible is the ULTIMATE AUTHORITY in the Christian presuppositional worldview, there can be nothing outside the Bible (and thus, less ultimate) which could “vouch” for it. Imagine the president walking into your mayor’s office and asking the secretary to “vouch” for him. Of course not! He is the president, he speaks for himself, and no lower authority will say otherwise.

We need to digress momentarily to higher and ultimate authorities. We all appeal to external authorities. How do we know our name? Our parents, or our birth certificate. This is a common practice. Unfortunately, when arguing for the Bible, people will often rely on false authorities. People will appeal to something they call “reason”, or “intuition”, not realizing that they have appealed to a standard that is not consistent! How can my reasoning be different from yours if it is a standard? It cannot. That’s why two people can have logical arguments which are sound and valid, but what we notice is that their assumptions are different. Our appeal to the Bible as the ultimate authority is a starting assumption, or presupposition. YOUR LACK OF APPEAL to the Bible as the ultimate authority is a starting assumption as well. That’s why I confidently wrote earlier in the article that EVERY MAN actually, in practice, is “presuppositional.” It is irrational to say you assume nothing, because in so saying you are assuming things are not absolute which in fact are. If there is such a things as absolute truth, then to start any argument to determine if absolute truth exists by not assuming such a thing as absolute truth is inane. If you found absolute truth, you’d contradict your assumption which would be absurd, making it impossible for absolute truth to be real. If you didn’t find absolute truth, you’d simply have validated what you assumed to be the case from the start…and it doesn’t take a genius to affirm what he already believes, anyone can do that.

So the fact of the matter is this, when you are sharing your faith with someone, you can either choose to stand on God’s Word as Truth, and unleash it so it can speak for itself, or you can attempt to persuade someone on your own cleverness. Interesting enough, to use logic at all, you must steal biblical principles. What you need to understand is that to be consistent with what you say you believe, you cannot attempt to prove the Bible from outside the Bible. If the Bible is true, then IT MUST BE THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. If there was an authority above the Bible then why doesn’t the Bible appeal to it? The Bible appeals only to itself as its authority, and rightfully so. So it is either a book of fables or the Word of God. As a nonbeliever, I can understand your hesitation to ascribing “God breathed” to the Bible, but as a believer? You MUST treat the Bible as God breathed…for you to attempt anything else is idolatry. You are putting yourself and your cleverness or whatever technique you think you’ve learned or perfected above the Word of God. That’s one reason (of many) I like the Way of the Master and Answers in Genesis. They rely on the Bible and are not ashamed.

Even the death, burial, resurrection and substitutionary atonement of Christ for the sake of sinful men like me is only understood in light of its depiction in scripture.  No external argument will persuade men of their sin.  For without the law of God, who knows what sin is?  Romans 7:7

In conclusion, I’ll take a page from AIG here and tell you that we are all viewing the world through some “glasses.” We all bring assumptions, the question is whether or not be simply reaffirm our assumptions, or even know what they are, or do we see the contradiction in statements like “There is no absolute truth”, “It’s wrong to judge”, and “You cannot push your beliefs on other people.” Rational thinking exposes the fallacy in the preceding statements. A biblical worldview is the ONLY WORLDVIEW that makes sense of the world, and that makes sense, because if the Bible is true, it must be required to understand the world. Christians should unapologetically and unabashedly proclaim the truth of scripture with as little interpretation of their own added, in fact! When arguing evolution and creation, we ought not argue about evidence…but rather how we view the evidence.

One final note to a nonbeliever. Axiomatically, if you are truly investigating Christianity with honesty and integrity, please do what I did. Read the gospels in the New Testament with “what if these are really true” glasses on. Let yourself imagine that the Bible really is the Word of God, and then decide what it must mean to you. If you assume it is not true, then there is nothing in it that can compel you otherwise. May God bless you!

I really liked the wording on Wikipedia for this entry, I share it below for your reference:
a presupposition is a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition…. This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.

Psalm 126 – Are you glad for what the Lord has done for you?

Last night I had the kids at AWANA read Psalms 126.  6 verses divided among 6 of the kids with the rest listening and reading along.   Then I made a big deal about the fact that they had just read a WHOLE chapter of the Bible.

For the lesson, I focused on Ps 126:3 by asking each kid to share a great thing the Lord has done for them. Many of them even referred to their own salvation or generally referred to Jesus dying on the cross for their sin. Some of the kids that normally don’t raise their hands were excited to do so; that was pleasing to my heart and encouraging to my spirit.  There was a variety of responses, though, and I hope it provoked thought in them!

Finally, I taught them a hymn and challenged them to memorize it. They had no accompaniment nor printed lyrics; they had to learn it simply hearing me say/sing it. They sounded so beautiful I had to record it! Thank God I did.