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Archive for June, 2009

I have been playing tennis since the age of three.  My first racquet was a wooden Stan Smith edition that my parents sawed half the handle off to make me a proper fit for me.  So it goes without saying that I have had many great experiences on the tennis court.  Yesterday in the country, far from passing cars and city lights where people move like ants “in every direction” (sincerelyDavid J Matthews) I could be found playing on a grass tennis court.  It was Wimbledon in rural Alabama, only I wasn’t wearing all white and there were no professionals on the court.  Make no mistake about it however, just because there were no pro’s on the court dosen’t mean it was not high quality entertaining tennis.

I met the Anderson family, well some of them (there are 9 in all.  7 boys and 2 girls) at a Georgia Tech Tennis Tournament last fall.  Mark and his wife Lisa were accompanied by several of their boys.  I cant quite remember how we were introduced, I simply recall from the moment we shook hands we were sharing in good and meaningful dialogue.  I didn’t see the Anderson’s again until spring, but when we reconnected it was like we never missed a beat.  We have shared great community and fellowship from the first day we met.  This past Spring during the GT vs UGA men’s match I asked Mr. Anderson to hold Perry Rose for me while I went in the locker room to pray with the team (I figured if anyone knew how to holda 6 month old baby it was he).  Not only did she sit with he and Mrs. Anderson fro those 10 or so minutes, but he held her for the next hour or so.   No one outside of my immediate family has ever held her for that length of time.  She was very happy and he seemed very happy too.    

As I have gotten to know the Anderson family three things have become clear to me, they are committedto faith, family, and tennis.  The Anderson’s are deeply rooted in their Christian faith, put each other and their family first (after Christ of course), and have a grass tennis court in the yard in the middle of the country.  The grass court is indeed a sight to see.  It’s not hard to see why I like this family so much, we share in the same faith, each time I see them I  get to meet a new member, and did I mention they have a grass tennis court in their yard!  I will share with you as I did withthem yesterday, they have done things the right way.  In a day and time where so many are concerned with making more and more money and children are viewed often as an obstacle to their financial goals, the Anderson family lives counter-culturally.  Being that they are Christians it would appear they took the Word of God literally when he told Adam in the garden “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:7).  The Anderson’s have certainlydone their part in fulfilling God’s command to us.  But isn’t that precisely the greatest thing about family…that when the Lord blesses a man a woman with offspring that they would raise them in the ways of the Lord.  Family and procreation is without a doubt the best and most effective way to evangelize, disciple, literally carry out the Great Commission of Christ.

So yesterday on a sticky summer afternoon I played doubles with some of the Anderson children, while some of the others watched on (there are so many you can play a doubles match and have fans in the stands).  I had the time of my life playing tennis.  On the grass court the ball bounces unpredictably, low, and rarely true.  Every point was both challenging and exciting.  I played doubles with Joseph, David, John, and Brian.  We played two sets and had an absolute blast.  I am so grateful to know this family, to spend time with them, the learn from them, and to play grass court tennis with them.  If you ever find yourself lost in the country outside of Ranburne AL and you spot a grass tennis court, hopefully you will have your tennis racquet with you.  I can promise you this…You will have a doubles match ready and waiting on you, and you will be blessed by spending time with a great family.

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Isaiah 40:8     “ The grass withers and the flowers fall,
       but the word of our God stands forever.”

Martin Luther was famed for using the Latin phrase Sola Scriptura,translated in proper context, scripture alone is the final authority.  We live in a world with many governing authorities.  Government, Parents, School Teachers, Bosses, and others.  But when it comes down to authority God and his word reigns supreme.  Now this in no way means we are released from submitting to lesser authorities.   In fact the Bible is clear we are to submit to ggoverning authorities as long as they do not require us as Christians to do or think contrary to scripture (Romans 13).  In the the event that any authority asks you or me to do anything un-scriptural we are always to obey scripture.  Scripture is God’s highest and greatest revelation about himself to humanity.  When we read scripture we are literally “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” (forget who wrote that…but it surely wasn’t me).  There is nothing more profound, more intellectual, more revealing, more satisfying, more worthy of our diligent study and mediation than the discipline of reading and the preaching of scripture.  There are many thousands of books written each year about God, but there is only one word from God, the Bible.  Christian and mainstream bookstores alike are filled with books written by man about God.  Only the Bible is written by God for man (II Tim 3:16).  Dr David Platt recently said in a sermon “scripture is the only book God has promised to bless”.   God is not bound to fulfill the words of any except his own.  For this reason we as Christians must study and know the scriptures better than any other books we own.  The wisdom of God is higher than any thought that comes from the mind of man (I Corinthians 1:20, 1:25, 2:7, 3:19 ).  We have the benefit of having the complete and final word by God for humanity on issues concerning human life,  and the exact details about himself he has chosen to reveal.  In a world of many authorities and rulers none are greater, higher, or wiser than God and His word.  And his greatest wisdom and revelation comes in the person of his son, Jesus Christ.  Christ is the wisdom and the word of God made manifest in the flesh (I Corinthians 1:30, John 1: 1-14).  He is supreme over all things (Phil 1:1-11) and His reign will have no end (Revelation 11:15).  And since Christ is the word and will reign eternally, (that is forever) I guess that makes Him supreme.

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There are many misconceptions regarding the Christian faith that exist both inside and outside the church.  Let’s examine a few…

1.  The Church is a building. When you were a kid, and if you went to Bible school (I hated Bible school-just being honest), you like me probably sang the following song with ingenious hand motions to accompany it…He is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and here’s all the people.  Likewise, when you ask someone who is a Christian what they are going to do on Sunday, the likely reply is, “going to Church.”  Not so fast my friend (as Lee Corso from ESPN’s college gameday always/over uses says).  The NT scripture teaches that we (Christians) are the church.  A living temple for the indwelling Holy Spirit (I Corinth. 6:19).  We are many…but we are one in Christ (I Corinth 12:12-14, Ephesians 4:3-5, Romans 12:3-5).  The is one Church, that is the universal Church of Jesus Christ, that consists of many local fellowships (Acts 15:41, Revelation 1:11, Acts 16:15, Romans 16:4).  The Church is flesh and blood, not brick and mortar.  The Church are those who belong to Jesus Christ and are bought by his blood.  We don’t go to church…we are the church.

2.  Jesus was God’s plan “B”. Far too many in the church believe that Jesus had to die because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden.  I contest in light of the scriptures that Adam and Eve had to sin soJesus could die.  Now, I am not saying God caused Adam and Eve to sin, rather that he ordained that there be presence of evil and the possibility of sin.  And in his infinite foreknowledge and wisdom, his plan was to crucify Jesus not as a response to their sin in the garden, but rather his plan for humanity all along.  Just ponder for a moment what our lives would be like today if there was no sin in the world, no fall from grace in the garden.  Many of you may think that would be just a lovely place to be.  An existence free from pain, hardship, disease, and death.  It would also mean an existence without the knowledge and revelation of Jesus Christ.  We would not call Jesus Lord.  We would refer to lord Adam, as he was given dominion over the earth (Genesis 2:19-21).  Jesus is the highest and most glorifying revelation of God about himself to humanity.  He is the very purpose and reason for the existence of the cosmos and all that is contained within (Colossians 1:15-17).  Furthermore how would we truly know (though limited by our own being) the greatness and value of God through Jesus Christ if there was no evil in the world?  John 3:16 we mean nothing to us if Adam and Eve and you an me lived in harmony and perpetual happiness in the garden.  Jesus was crucified from before there was space and time and moon and stars (Revelation 13:8).  God’s plan all along was that Jesus would come as an offering for the sin of man.  This was not a response on God’s part, and was His most perfect plan to bring us to himself in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, John 14:6).

3.  It is possible for someone to lead a perfect life. You would be surprised how many “Christians” have asked me if it is possible to for someone to lead a perfect life.  I can tell you two things for sure about people who ask questions like this one.  1.  They have no true understanding of their sin nature, and how corrupt and wicked they are  even from birth (Psalm 51:5, 58:3, Romans 3:23).  2.  This person also has no idea of the perfect holiness of God, or even what that means (Isaiah 6:1-7).  It is impossible to approach God without a mediator (John 14:6).  And who among us can truly say this day or any day that we have perfectly fulfilled the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34-40)?  The individual who asks a question like the one dealt with here suffers from a horrible case of self righteousness and a poor understating of God in relation to self.

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The title question to this post is phrased just as it should be.  Not “What do you think about interracial marriage,”  or “How do you feel about interracial marriages?”  The Bible for Christians is God’s Word, and the supreme and final authority by which our lives are governed.  Sometime ago I had a conversation with someone close to me, someone I greatly admire and love.  We somehow got on the subject of interracial marriage.  This person shared with me his view on the subject.  He is a devout Christian, in that I have no doubts.  He is not racist or prejudice as far as I can tell.  He is however against people of different racial backgrounds entering into a marriage covenant.  His reason for this is two-fold.  One, he shared with me was because of what he has witnenessed from people he has been closely associated with and how it has effected their families.  He shared with me that it often created great difficulty for other family members in accepting someone of a different racial ethnicity,  and often the children of the couple would have a hard time being accepted in social circles such as school and church.  He also shared with me from the OT regarding  God’s desire for the Israelites not to marry other peoples outside of their race (Duet. 7:3-4, Nehemiah 13:25-27, Genesis 28:1).  His argument was that if God forbid it at that time, then he obviously knew what he was doing, and so others today should follow that same commandment. 

I will address the second issue first.  While it is true that God forbade The Israelites from marrying foreigners in the OT scriptures, his reason for doing so had nothing to do with skin color.  The issue God was dealing with with the Isrealites was a matter of the heart.  God was trying to keep his people from the idolatry and pagan worship of other nations and peoples.  The Hebrews throughout much of the OT struggled with idolatry, and God was trying to keep them from marrying foreigners who practiced pagan worship rituals because they could easily be sucked in (Joshua 23:12-13).  This issue had absolutely nothing to do with the difference in skin color.  It had everything to do with the difference of faith.  In regards to the issue of his first statement…I would say that you can’t make judgments or form views about an issue or situation based on how others act or respond to it.  People are sinful, that is what we do…we sin.  It seems this individual had witnessed prejudice and even racism from some close to him.  That sin falls on the people making judgments, not the ones who are married.  No where in the Bible do you find God forbiding people to marry over the issue of skin color.  The issue is one much more deep rooted than that.   It is the issue of the heart’s deepest desire…whom do you serve and call master.  Paul tells the Corinthian church they should not marry unbelievers (II Corinth. 6:14-15).  That is the issue throughout scripture when it comes to marriage, believers in Jesus Christ should not marry those who practice other religions.  God is simply trying to protect his people from falling into the serious sin and consequences that comes with idol worship.  Furthermore, I would argue that interracial marriages are a beautiful picture of what the church of Jesus Christ is, mutli-cultural/multi- racial (Galatians 3:28).  We are a church comprised of the nations and one in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:26, Galatians 3:8, Romans 4:16-19, Luke 24:47, Mark 13:10, Ephesians 3:10, 3:21, 5:23, Colossians 1:18, Romans 12:3-5 I Corinth. 12:13).   If a couple of different racial backgrounds approached me about marriage, the first question I would ask them would not be, “how does your family feel about this union.”  No, I would ask them the same question I would ask a couple who is of the same skin color, ”  Do you both profess faith in and act upon love in the Lord Jesus Christ?”  The God of the Bible never concerns himself with the color of two people’s skin when it comes to marriage.  God only concerns himself with what is the heart of those who desire to be united.  And if it is Jesus Christ, and He has brought you together…you have God’s blessing, the only one that truly matters.

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As I am not posting as much on the blog as of late (lack of time and honestly inspiration), so I thought I would try something new.  I am going to start posting more scripture for us to meditate on.  I think I will do this at least twice per week for a while.  I am not going to expound upon the text.  I would like for you and I to read it, and consider the author’s intended meaning and implications for our lives.  It is my goal that we all be saturated with the mighty scriptures of our God.

Revelation 12:10-12

10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

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From Pastor John Piper… http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2009/3951_Why_and_How_I_Am_Tweeting/

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