Creation Belief = Bad Commencement Speaker

"What worried me the most was the fact that he said if you do accept evolution that you’re somehow ethically lacking."

First, I don’t know if Dr. Carson actually said that, but, theoretically, if materialistic evolution (no God) is right, there is no real foundation for ethics. That doesn’t mean atheists are less ethical, but with no "absolute moral authority," who really decides what is wrong or right? If it is society, we've seen over and over how well that works…and it is no better when left in the hands of "enlightened" leaders.

Regardless, is it a new litmus test for non-controversial college commencement speakers that they can’t believe in creation?:

“Dr. Ben Carson’s Beliefs On Evolution Stir Controversy At Emory University”

How Soon We Forget

It probably comes as no surprise that leaving my home of eight years in Antrim, New Hampshire has, to varying degrees, been emotionally painful. As a whole my mind is busy on other things, but when it is allowed to slow down (for instance, early in the morning or late in the evening) a certain level of depression and regret can set in. I've also found that even reflecting on inconsequential items back home in that small town can bring those feelings to the forefront. For example, this afternoon at work, as I thought about walking across our springtime-wet dirt driveway to the mailbox across the street, the sadness set in because, for all intents and purposes, I will never do that again. That existence is gone.

However, as I was driving home tonight, I also recalled how a few times snuggling with Augie I thought to myself, "If everything in my life went terrible from now on, this would be enough." Perhaps you've had similar experiences? The day your beau went on bended knee and asked you to marry him? The moment that you held your newborn child for the first time? The occasion where you finally completely escaped work, e-mail, and cell phone and napped on that exotic beach?

The time which you couldn't have asked to be more perfect…? Continue reading How Soon We Forget

Fear or Friendship

In yesterday’s Bible reading this quote made me think a bit:

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die." Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin." The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the athick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21, English Standard Version)

"…that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin."

Basically, God will do whatever it takes "that [we] may not sin" and I fear that the vast majority of us could use a good scaring right now.

Of course God, in the form of His Son, offered a different approach: Continue reading Fear or Friendship

Occupy Sacrilege

Sometimes it seems more than coincidental that two stories show up at the same time…and although I know it’s just happenstance, today…

“Occupy protesters use Bibles as weapons — literally”

It quotes from a SFGate article:

Police arrested four people in connection with the evening’s occupation of the empty Cathedral Hill Hotel at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Street. “Once they got inside, some of the protesters made it to the roof top and were throwing Bibles at the officers,” Manfredi said.

(Bolding from the article I am quoting from.)

The building was a closed-down hotel, and they stole the Bibles from the rooms.

That’s article #1…#2 is: Continue reading Occupy Sacrilege

Jesus Versus Religion

As of starting to write this post, the video below ("Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus") had 14,720,480 views (with 255,425 likes and 37,048 dislikes). I’m gonna make a guess here and say it has struck a nerve. 🙂

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY&rel=0&w=480]

Hearing about it second hand I figured it was going to be a standard false dichotomy between religion and spirituality (or, in this case, Jesus). And it does start off sounding that way when the spoken word poet says, "What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?"

But, to really understand what Jefferson Bethke is saying, you have to understand how he defines "religion": Continue reading Jesus Versus Religion

It Isn’t His Quarterbacking That Glorifies God (UPDATED)

First, I don’t personally believe that God interferes with NFL football games. I'm not saying He never has or He never will…

But I don't think Tim Tebow, leading the Broncos, has won because of God’s divine intervention.

Although, I will admit, after the way that Denver/Pittsburgh play-off game ended, it sure seems like more of a possibility. 🙂

And…if you read all 66 books of the Bible…you can see that God will intercede when it glorifies Him (including when it'll help draw people to Him). Continue reading It Isn’t His Quarterbacking That Glorifies God (UPDATED)

Sodom, but Not Isaac?

Abraham Sacrificing IsaacSo, as I was reading through today’s verses (reading through all 66 in 2012), it hit me. Back in Genesis 18:22-33, Abraham tries to get Sodom and Gomorrah off the hook, actually (respectfully) arguing a bit with God about it (although notice his concern for God’s reputation).

However, in Genesis 22:1-14 we hear God tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac…and…queue the sound of crickets…

Abraham says nothing…he just goes and almost carries it out.

Now, yes…the Bible doesn’t record every word. The Holy Spirit inspires its writers on what to include and what to exclude.

And yes…it could be a sign of Abraham’s increased maturity…both in that he now trusted God so much he no longer questioned His acts or decrees…and that he know the Lord would take care of it (e.g. God could resurrect Isaac, see Hebrews 11:17-20).

But, seriously? All that concern about Sodom, and nary a peep about Isaac?

What do you think?

Going Gaga Over Christmas

(I wrote this in a particularly snarky frame of mind, so if you aren’t in a good mood or are a Yankees fan, please back away from the computer and save reading this for another time. :-))

A Very Gaga Holiday Album CoverI know I spend way too much money at Amazon MP3…but I’ve been addicted to music since I first started developing my own collection. (Prior to that my tastes were my father’s…basically adult contemporary. It’s still music I enjoy and have great respect for, but at some point…with a 70’s teen…Olivia Newton John and Englebert Humperdink had to give way to Kansas and Journey—after a short detour into The Village People. Come on, you gotta admit “Y.M.C.A” and “Macho Man” are catchy!)

Either way, I check out Amazon MP3 at least once every 24 hours to see what their MP3 Daily Deal is. More often than not it is a genre I have little interest in (it’s often indie coffee-house type stuff), but it does mean that during each visit Amazon’s whizz-bang computer gets a shot at enticing me to buy something else I don’t really need, and it knows from my buying history I’m a pretty big fan of Christmas music. (If you check out my “Christmas Album ‘Must Haves’ (2011 Version)” you’ll see I am a traditionalist…give me the old standards sung by people who could have been my grandparents or great-grandparents.) One recent time when their page refreshed Amazon MP3 shocked me by suggesting “A Very Gaga Holiday” by…well…that’s pretty obvious. 🙂

Why shocked? Continue reading Going Gaga Over Christmas

Somebody Misses You

This article was written for the next edition of the local Antrim, New Hampshire paper, The Limrik.

Although the pews have a habit of filling up just before church starts, summer activities definitely have meant it's less crowded during the Sunday services here at the Antrim Church of Christ. Luckily, e-mail, Facebook, and various other social media outlets mean that even though one family might be visiting Alaska, another member vacationing in Puerto Rico, and others camping in the great outdoors…the distance is only physical.

But, I think everyone who wouldn't be labeled "antisocial" agrees that nothing beats seeing somebody in person. We can try to enter the cyber-universe and escape reality, but reality is that whether God or evolution produced humans we are part of the physical cosmos, not just a bunch of zeros and ones instructing a CPU how to behave. Ask yourself, do you prefer an e-mail or a letter? A book you hold in your hands or one you read on the computer? Someone who posts "I'll pray for you" in your Google+ stream or a friend who sits down and petitions the Lord with you? Continue reading Somebody Misses You

Osama

Last night, just before turning my iPad off and going to sleep, it really felt like I should set my Facebook status based on the death of Osama bin Laden. This is what I settled on:

‎”Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” (Ezekiel 33:11, ESV)

I look forward to a future where _nobody_ dies, but for now I am thankful for those who protect us from those like Osama bin Laden.

Followed by immediately adding this comment:

Although, I much rather everyone, including our worst enemies, be saved…as would our Lord: “…God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b-4).

Now, I am not near as Christ-like as those quotes might imply. I am glad that there has been closure on this aspect of that evil day over nine years ago, and I am happy that a person who wanted to kill my family, friends, neighbors, and me is no longer around to try to fulfill his wishes.

But I do stand by those statements and, as unlikely as it is, hope somehow God reached Osama just before before a bullet ended his life and he’ll unexpectedly greet me when I arrive in heaven.

Finally, to those who might quickly suggest I am judging someone’s eternal fate—agreed, I cannot read any individual’s heart and only God decides whether we are sheep or goats…wheat or tares. Let’s just all throw political correctness and faux saintliness aside, be honest about it, and admit that if Christians and/or Jews are right, the most likely resting place for this infamous terrorist is with the wicked (whether it’s Rob Bell’s, John MacArthur’s, or some other version of hell).

And that fact should make us cry, not celebrate.

Not So “Children Stories” in the Bible

I ran into Tim Hawkin’s for the first time last night. It’s great to have another "clean" comedian I can watch and listen to. As I was working on my sermon today, this great bit came to mind. Sadly I won’t be able to work it in. 🙂

Graham Maxwell, a friend of mine (and man who I looked up to) who passed away not too long ago, said that when he was young and heard the story of Noah’s ark, he couldn’t help think of all the people who died. Once for his birthday Michelle and I gave him an old thick Christian book we found that we thought Graham would appreciate. Little did we know within it’s pages was a picture that he had long hoped to find that showed a woman and child clasping to a rock as the water was coming up around their necks…his youthful picture of the worldwide flood. (It’s the style of drawing from old with a whole bunch of lines.)

We should let our kids enjoy the short time they have for innocence, but Graham and Tim both can teach us (in their own ways) a bit about taking an adult look at the harsh truths shared with us by inspiration.

WealthTV?

I can’t help but think there is something wrong with Sky Angel, a Christian TV provider (through Internet streaming) adding this channel to their lineup, even if it is not part of the “Faith Package” (as compared to “Family Package” or “Family Values Package”). I’ve been away from the Internet (mostly) for more than three days, so I’m catching up on e-mail. This is part of the announcement from February 21, 2011:

Sky Angel would like to welcome WealthTV, channel 315, to the Family Values Pak channel line-up!

WealthTV is a premier lifestyle and entertainment network with a line-up that includes informative programs on world travel, culinary delights, classic cars, the latest fashion trends and so much more. Viewers get a behind the scenes look into the lifestyle of some of America’s most successful individuals.

It’s great to see that they have their priorities straight though:

It’s always better to give than receive – so we’re diving into the world of philanthropy on Giving Back.

🙁

P.S. If you go to WealthTV’s website, their tagline is “Wealth — an abundance of good.” Nice.

Do Views Exist On a Linear Trajectory?

Often when we see the excesses of a given group—political, religious, or etcetera—we connect them with one end or the other of the given categorization’s spectrum. It is as if we pull out some graph paper, draw a straight line, and are convinced that anyone’s view can be plotted on it. A little bit left of X, a little bit right of Y…a bit more liberal than A, a bit more conservative than B.

And we lionize that thoughtful, considerate, and mystical class that falls right in the middle…you know…the “moderates.” (Although it should be noted that in this paradigm a moderate is a big fat zero.)

Sometimes thinking of viewpoints this way makes sense. Denominations are often connected in overall thought with differences only being a matter of degree and non-essential doctrines. The same is true with politics—is it not fair to consider Code Pink to the left of, but on the same half of the line, as Democrats? The Tea Party, albeit somewhat of an unruly son, the child of Republicans (perhaps with some Libertarian DNA snuck in)?

But what of organizations and viewpoints the great majority would find excessive? Where would you place skinheads? Anarchists?

Individual lunatics?

The reason I ask is because I believe, at least with politics, part of the reason people choose to apply the linear paradigm is because they can use it to assign guilt by association. See a racist?! Clearly it shows the natural result of Republican thought!!! See an anarchist?! Those darn Democrats have struck again!

But are either fair? The anarchist example might be best. Should they be plotted around Democrats or Republicans? Given their other (likely) viewpoints and the folks they hang out with (e.g. at a G20 protest), it would seem fair to plot them left of the Democrats—on their end of the spectrum. However, given the Republican’s historical (but not necessarily constant or recent) commitment to as few laws possible and minimum government, shouldn’t it go (heading right on our graph paper) Republicans -> Libertarians -> anarchists?

Which is it?

I suspect most of us could easily expand our plotting to 2D…for example a Libertarian would be to the right and either above or below (depending on what the Y access defines). But would that really be be enough for every case? How about 3D?

I don’t believe so. I would argue some viewpoints, and definitely some people, exist in a totally different dimension. Their thought universe is wholly different than pretty much anyone else’s who has at least one foot in reality. To even speculate about connections to Democrats or Republicans is at best disingenuous and/or illogical, and at worst outright character assassination. There is no benefit; do we really believe if Democrats would tone down their language anarchists would suddenly embrace the rule of law? Or if the Republicans would stop their war-like metaphors skinheads would start embracing African Americans?

No, there is no benefit to connecting thought-outcasts with mainstream organizations other than to demonize our opponents. It isn’t an honest discussion, it is a strategic attack.

I have focused on the political because, I’ll admit, it’s easier for me to come up with examples…but it has theological implications.

To mimic Greg Gutfeld on Red Eye, if you don’t agree with me you are a Sabellian anarchist who is a closet member of the John Birch Society and believes in the Moral Influence Theory!