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Archive for March, 2009

No Mas Television

I have decided to give up watching television.  Truthfully…I don’t  watch much TV to begin with, but what little I do I have decided to give it up.  Just last night as I was relaxing on my chase in the living room of our home something rather significant occurred to me.  As I sat there watching television with my wife, I realized I was doing it more out of boredom than pleasure.  I asked myself this question, “How much value does my life gain from watching TV?”  I realized that outside of the weather channel( many people depend on me for the daily and weekly forecast) and a few select sporting events my life is really no better off nor have I gained anything significant because of what came across the screen.   This is not a fast.  This is more of how can I better spend my time and make it count.  I want to use my “TV time” to devote myself more to prayer, reading the Word, and reading in general.  I have become quite fond of reading of late.  This is just me wanting to serve God better with my time.  I don’t have a specific time frame for how long this will last.  I suppose at least through the summer and as long as forever.  I still plan to watch a few select sporting events such as;  Wimbledon, the US OPEN, the Men’s NCAA Basketball Final Four, some college football, and of course Shark Week in late July.  So I want to ask those of you who read this blog, is there anything in your life that you “turn off” in order to create more time with God?  I hear people all the time talk about how busy they are and how they don’t have time for this or that.  I’ve always believed you make time for the things that are important (which is why if you don’t call me back and then when you finally do you remark; “sorry I’ve been busy” I won’t take to kindly to you).  So how can you make more time for God…that is the question, and only you can answer. 

Psalm 119:9-16

    9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
       By living according to your word.

 10 I seek you with all my heart;
       do not let me stray from your commands.

 11 I have hidden your word in my heart
       that I might not sin against you.

 12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
       teach me your decrees.

 13 With my lips I recount
       all the laws that come from your mouth.

 14 I rejoice in following your statutes
       as one rejoices in great riches.

 15 I meditate on your precepts
       and consider your ways.

 16 I delight in your decrees;
       I will not neglect your word.

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The Three Views of Election a Christian can have

1.  God chooses who will be saved based on his foreknowledge and willing.

2.  God foreknows who will be saved and therefore chooses them.

3.  God foreknows who will be saved, and whoever chooses Him are His elect.

Almost all Christians believe in election.  Many just don’t realize it or want to admit that they do.  Most all Christians I have ever been associated with tell me story upon story about how God worked this way and that way in their life(Romans 8:28, Matthew 6:33) including how he provided this job or opportunity for them,  how they and their spouse were “meant to be together” or were brought together by God, or some other way God divinely intervened in their life or the lives of their family members.  But ask them if God chose them to be saved, and you are likely to get a reaction met with hostility and displeasure.  So let me get this straight…God predestines your job, your mate, some of your closest friends, and the number of your days (Job 14:15), but not your salvation.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  It would make more sense to me if someone said, “I chose this job, my lovely wife, all my friends, decided how long I wanted to live, and decided to get saved.”   That would at least make for consistency in one’s theology.

What about one’s free will?  Shall we say we are but mere robots and puppets doing God’s bidding?  This is one of the most widespread arguments against predestination/election.  First of all we are not as free as we like to think.  Each decision we make is based on something more than just merely our will.  The will follows the heart and the heart follows what it desires chiefly and supremely satisfying and pleasurable.  Even when you say…I went to that wedding with my wife but really I wanted to watch The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament on CBS, you followed your heart.  You reasoned it more desirable to be on good terms with your wife and sleeping on the couch ultimately un-desirable.  This was your greater pleasure even if it wasn’t what you wanted to do.   After all if we are truly following God then we will follow His word as closely as possible and that means we live on His terms, follow His rules, and obey His commands,  not our own.  So even the most “free”  Christian can never be totally free because they are doing (hopefully) what God says they should do, and so they are being influenced at every level by someone (namely God) who is greater than themselves.  And as for the argument that we are robots or puppets if election is true…rubbish.  We are beings with a will, although perhaps not completely free, but certain levels of freedom do exist and we operate within them.  And furthermore if God wants to make us puppets and robots he can…He is God.  But this is not fair God choosing some but not others, “God loved Jacob but hated Esau”(Romans 9:13)  That’s God being God and He can do as He chooses based on His good pleasure.     

I believe it is likewise theoligically inconsistent fir those of the calvanastic side of the argument to say they believe everything in the believer’s life to be predestined.  Does God predestine you and me to sin?  Would God rather you play golf or go fishing on Sunday morning than attend church?  Did God will you to watch that movie instead of spend time reading His Word?  I think we all know the answers to these questions…no(James 1:13)  So it is erronous for some to be so fool-hearty as to think everything that happens is God’s intervening in every aspect of their daily lives.  God may choose to not intervene therefore allowing for human freedom in a certain sitaution, all be it limited by his allowing. 

At this point you may be saying huh…I don’t understand?  Well good because neither do I?  My mind can’t fully wrap around the notion of How God’s divine plan and purpose and my freedom as a human work together.  I just know they do, and somehow, someway God uses them both to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  My primary point was to say that we can never say as many Christians do “everything happens for a reason” (jobs, marriage, friends, ect) and with in consistency maintain that God did not have a great something to do with our being saved beyond our mere choosing.  There is really so much more that could be said here such as …the nature of God in relation to man, God’s working throughout redemptive history, God not being risk-taker, and reason why the fall of man had to occur.  These are all issues that need to be addressed with proper and full explanation concerning the doctrine of election.  This is not however a piece dedicated to all things election.  It is a commentary on how we all believe in it at some levels as Christians.  And as a Christian please remember that it is ok to agree to disagree on election, as long as we make Jesus the main issue.  And if you feel at all like you don’t fully understand man’s will in relation to God’s purpose…well you are not alone, because neither do I.            

Romans 8:28-29 28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

Joshua 24:1515 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

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This past Friday March 20th, 2009 I celebrated my 29th birthday.  The day prior I was walking around the famed Gadsden Mall with my mother.  We went from store to store (I think she likely viewed this an opportunity to have a shopping buddy) and looked about.  All the while she would say, pick something out you like for your birthday.  To which I responded, I am in need for nothing.  Then at last we entered the coffee laden aroma and literary mega store that is Books A Million.  I first just began to look around with no great intention of buying anything, just walking aisles and feeling like just about everyone in the known world had written a book about something.  Then it occurred to me…there was at least one book out of a million here for me.  So I went and found J.R.R  Tolkein’s 20th century classic The Hobbit.  My brother for years had told me of this great work of literary distinction.  So I told my mother this is what I wanted and for $12 American dollars I was set.  Those that know me best know I don’t read well, and am not all that fond of it either.  It’s not that I can’t read well…but rather I retain very little in my mind of the written word.  I, on most occasions would much rather listen to a lecture, sermon, or engage in deep meaningful dialogue.  That is after all how I retain information best.  From the beginning The Hobbit was quite different.  Already had I an interest in the book being that it is the prequel to The Lord Of  The Rings (of which I am enormous fan of).  From Tolkein’s opening words I was hooked.  So much so that I finished the book (270 pages) in less than four days.  No small feet for someone as bad at reading as I.  But it was a conversation with my brother along the way that brought great value and wisdom to my life beyond what the book had imparted (which was vast in it’s own right).  My brother commented that The Hobbit was the kind of book one”made time for”, and something in your day you “made plans around”.  All to true.  However it was not The Hobbit that ultimately came to my mind, but rather the Bible.  I began to wonder that on a daily basis (I do admittedly miss some days all together) if I was making time for God’s Word or simply finding time?  This in my mind is a significant question.  To make time means “it” is of the greatest importance to you and the day you find yourself in.  To find time means “it” is someting you hope to fit in your day.  All too often I think I have fallen under the latter.  So where do you stand?  I pray we can stand together united arm in arm in making time for God’s Word, that is scheduling our busy lives around our time with Him.  He is after all the one we will live eternally with as Christians.  Thanks to J.R.R Tolkein for a work that will thrill me for ages to come.  Thanks to a brother who shared wisdom with me from God even beyond his own understanding.  And thanks to Christ whose Word is the very source of my knowledge and love for Him.  Even when tales of The Hobbit are long forgotten, in eternity the tales of God’s greatest through Christ will be forever told.

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Some of you may remember the television show “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”.  It was a comical show dedicated to saying funny and interesting comments.  It lasted about as long as it could and was worth a laugh or so.  Well I wish some more popular “Christan” sayings would go the way of  the afore mentioned show and the DODO.  What is the way of the DODO, extinct.  Lets examine a few shall we….

1.  God will never give you more than you can handle

This is a nice place to begin, an oldie and baddie (yes I know baddie is not a real word).  This statement is most often made in response to another’s story and details of personal struggle.  True words of comfort.  Well the problem here is that Paul disagrees with the statement.  He writes in II Corinthians 2:8-11   8For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;  9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;  10who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,  11you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many   God gave Paul more the he could endure in his own strength, why?  So that he would rely on God and His strength and not Paul’s.  Besides if God never gave us more than we could handle why we would we need Him?

2.  Just Follow Your Heart

Alright this one usually comes as one advises another on an upcoming decisions.  Sound advice trust your heart and follow it.  The Prophet Jeremiah would “heartily” disagree.  9“The heart is more deceitful than all else
         And is desperately sick;  Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).  OK then so the heart is not by nature good or a good place to make our most important life decisions.  Instead we should call upon the one who transforms our wicked and calloused hearts and inquire of his will, not our own.

3.  “The Lord helps those that help themselves”

I heard this one many times as a young lad.  If I want God to help me…I gotta help me.  Wow this one is particularly unsettling.  Because the God I have come to know now in the scriptures does not ask me to help myself, he comes and rescues me when I am in desperate need of help.  8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  God doesn’t help those that help themselves (which Is a nice way of encouraging you to pursue self-righteousness),  He rescues the helpless.  

This post is not meant to condemn anyone who says/has said these and other un-bibical sayings.  We all have been guilty of reciting phrases at some point in our lives that were handed down to us my well meaning people.  Unfortunately sayings like these fall out of the realm of what scripture teaches.  It is also a sobering remeinder that many Christians while well intending need to examine the Bible at it’s teachings more carefully.  Even in the Bible-Belt of the south we have what I believe and others have called a “Biblical illiterate culture”.  It’s that people cant read the Bible…they just don’t.  We as Christians ought to be dilligent students of the Bible, so that we may be able to speak to all issues of life as the Bible speaks to them (2 Timothy 2:15).

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 In 2006 then Arizona Cardinals football coach Denny Green in an after game press conference was asked a question about the Chicago Bears in regards to how they were as a team and how he thought they would be.  It was a game the cardinals had well in hand but gave away in a series of unfortunate/bad plays.  Coach Green responded “They were who we thought they were”.  Well of President Obama we can say the same…he is who we thought he was.  Who is Barrack Obama?  Apparently not my brother in Christ.  Now it is true only God knows and can judge the heart.  Fair enough but no man who celebrates the anniversary of Roe v Wade saying it “protects women’s health and reproductive freedom” , lifts a previous ban on oversees abortion funding, or lifts a ban on stem cell research thus using federal funding (yes tax payer dollars) for the research can I with any confidence call a fellow laborer in the gospel.  His rational is we are saving lives through embryonic stem cell research.  Makes sense, since all you have to do is kill a life in order to hope to find a cure for another. Where does it stop after embryonic stem cell research and abortions?  Will it one day be justifiable to kill born babies and humans in the name of research?  A slippery slope indeed.  Is it not also ironic that this same Barrack Obama said during an interview with Rick Warren that the goal should be to reduce the number of abortions?  I guess words are just that, words to President Obama.  Jesus tells us that we will be “known by the fruit we bear” (Matt 7:16-19).  Likewise in the book of Galatians when Paul lists the fruits produced by the Holy Spirit I don’t believe the murder of a life in the early stages, and of one who can not defend themselves is mentioned( Galatians 5:22-24).  But then again President Obama has called the passage in the book of Romans that speaks to the sin that is homosexuality as “obscure” and instead draws from Jesus Sermon on the Mount to form his view on civil union and same sex marriage.  So the Bible may not really be in play here in terms of President Obama’s faith and moral compass.  President Obama is a theologian and a bad one at that.  He can talk about his faith all he wants to, but until his actions and governing policies are consistent with the Scriptures, I will refrain from calling him a brother in the faith, and hold no hope of expetancy in seeing him in Christ’s kingdom.  Some that read this will call me judgemental .  As I have previously stated I am the judge of no man’s soul.  But like others have said before me “I am not called judge others, but I am called to be a good fruit inspector”.  I am praying that each night as President Obama tucks his daughters into bed that he see them as what they are…a life, and gift from God.  And I pray he will rejoice in the fact that they were no ones “science experiment” and no one’s mistake.  Because no human life is anyone else’s science experiment or mistake.

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Oops!

Today I was called out by my most faithful and loyal blog reader…my mother in law.  It seems that in my last commentary as I was stating all the people in my my life I was thankful for I left out my dear sweet mother in law.  So Rosie here you go, I am so thankful to have you as my mother in law and I love you.  Now there are many good mother in law jokes out there perhaps the best one I have heard comes from a gentleman I knew while in Louisville KY.  I was talking football one day at the Louisville Tennis Club with a big Oklahoma Sooner ‘s fan.  Apparently he was also a famous country music DJ, though I would have never known because I don’t listen to radio country.  Anyway the story goes we are talking about the NCAA national championship football game that pitted Texas against Southern Cal.  The game was just days away and I asked him he was pulling for to win.  Now remember Oklahoma hates Texas (Boomer Sooner and stuff), and the Sooner’ s had their pants pulled down the year before in Championship Game by Southern Cal in a beat down of epic proportions (A game undefeated Auburn should have played in).  So he says in response to my question,”well it’s kind of like watching your mother in law drive off a cliff in your new Mercedes.  You really don’t know who to cheer for”.  Well said my friend.  Rosie fear not, for I do not have a Mercedes…and I love you!

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You may recall the television show It Takes a Thief that showed selected home owners how unsecured and protected their home actually was to possible burglary and theft.  The home owners would watch helplessly on a camera as their house was being robbed (the burgarly was set up by and done by an alleged ex-thief).  They most always would talk about not knowing how vulnerable they were and the changes they would make in attempt to prevent an actual burglary.  Well last Wednesday night after our weekly FCA Bible study I came out to find my jeep had been broken in to.  My stereo was gone, IPOD Nano gone, my console was broken, and my plastic window was slit.  This makes three, three times this has happened since 2000.  I was surprised, but not upset.  More frustrated they broke my console and cut my window.  So what you probably think I am going to say now is I will take all necessary precaution’s to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  Alarm system, new doors with glass windows, and a Doberman Pincher always on guard on the back seat.  Well unless you want to buy me and alarm, new doors and windows, and a doberman…aint gonna happen.  I don;t have the money and truthfully don’t care that much about the things that were stolen.  In times and circumstances like the one that occurred last Wednesday perspective is brought to the fore-front of our minds.  I have a good job, I have a great wife, a beautiful daughter (who may be perfect in my eyes), super supportive parents, a very close brother, a few loyal friends, and the God of the universe indwelling my very being.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t find it pleasant or enjoyable to have things I’ve worked for and purchased stolen by someone who is cowardly and godless, but things are just things.  More than being mad at those that stole from me, I pity them.  As Mr T would say, “I pity the fool”.  I feel for those who robbed me because they do not have the all satisfying savior in their hearts and lives.  And unless they turn from their wickedness and sin the Bible is clear they will not inherit the kingdom of God.  9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God-I Corinthians 6:9-11.  And that my friends is the real tragedy of it all. Amassing earthly goods only to later forfeit their souls for eternity (Matthew 16:26).  The break in on my jeep was a sobering reminder that so many people all around us are godless and headed for hell unless Confession of Christ and repentance of sin are made.  I’m not worried about the things I lost, after all I have all I need.  Instead I have great concern for those who robbed me for they are the ones who have and are truly lost.       

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