Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Real Spring "Break"

It's now Wednesday of Spring Break and I am recovering from a bad break on Monday. My wife and 2 of my girls decided for a quick stop at a State Park for a 10-15 minute hike on a beautiful spring Tennessee afternoon.

About 10 minutes up the trail I could hear my car alarm going off and feared the worst. I hustled back and found my drivers side window smashed and to my dismay discovered that I was a victim of theft.

A very kind man had heard the alarm and chased away two men who sped off in a car. He called the police for me and a park ranger arrived very shortly after his call.

The criminals got just enough to make it a difficult loss for us. They got my wallet (drivers liscense, bank card, credit cards, business contacts, and 150.00 cash)- my wife's purse (wallet, cards, cash). And a broken front window.

I am thankful to have insurance, but it will still be a loss. Depending on how we file it, we will lose. Auto coverage will be a loss of 100.00 deductable, and homeowners (for stolen items) is a 500.00 deductible.

Then there is the loss of time. It has been a headache cancelling credit cards, re-ordering driver's liscenses, having to monitor accounts.

And the loss of innocence. My 8 year old especially was hurt. She slept with us that night. These thugs have all of my personal information and your mind wanders as to what they will do with it.

These types of random crime seem to be growing. A lot of it is tied directly to the scourge of rampant drug addiction that is slowly sucking the life out of our country.

I must admit that I am having a hard time thinking of anything but destruction for these hoods. I prayed all day that the Lord would make their life miserable.

Does anyone want to argue that man is not corrupt?

So I agree with the bumpersticker- "Losing faith in humanity: One human being at a time"

So I pick up the pieces and move forward and pray that things could be different. This world needs the Lord.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Dilemma of Absolutes

If I say there are no absolutes then I am admitting an absolute.

But I cannot absolutely be certain or uncertain. If I absolutely say that there is no god, I hold myself as unlimited in experience and knowledge of the whole universe.

If I absolutely say that I cannot be absolutely sure that one cannot know if God is there, then I hold myself up as an expert of all of the evidence for the existence of god.

I have a big problem: I have no absolute knowledge within myself. Yet I cannot make any statement that wipes away the existence of absolutes.

Who can set me free from this dilemma?

God, who exists, has revealed Himself in space and time and history. He is my absolute! My trust in Him gives me the ability to proclaim absoluteness without all the exhaustive evidence.

Whew! That was a relief. Now, I just need to find out what has He said.

Remember Revival Requests

Psalm 85:4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.

How often I forget one of the most important prayer requests. How can I forget to cry out as the Psalmist here does? “Restore us please!

As I pray this, I am reminded of God’s glory and His sovereignty. “Revival is a work of God where He enlivens His people by accelerating and intensifying His work in individual’s lives” (Jonathan Edwards). If enough people have this personal renewal at any one time and in any one place, then the reality of God’s presence is demonstrated in spiritual sensitivity and a community pursuit of holiness.

So as I pray this, I am reminded that revival begins in me.

Isaiah 64:1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?

Do I really desire this? Is there not a sense of fear that God would actually do this? Is there not a subtle secret doubt that God actually can or will do this anymore?

J.I. Packer gave a lecture at a “Desiring God Conference” in 2003. He made some interesting points about the nature of revival that come from his study of the theology and thoughts of Jonathan Edwards.

#1 Revival is more about holy living than new conversions
#2 We cannot pray revival down – we cannot force God’s hand. It happens in His timing.
#3 Revival will not solve all of the churches problems. It can even create more!
#4 Revival is tied up in a deep desire to glorify God.
#5 Revival causes a deep repentance, responding in holy living, which draws outsiders in.

I ask that Saints everywhere join me in keeping this a regular request- Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Calvinists Have Cold, Smelly Warts

The study of theology is fascinating. I have been a Christian for 27 years and still have a passion for the truth of God’s Holy Word. Some might think it weird that this football coach gets excited with stories from church history and that I can get lost in the debates of famous councils.
In saying all of this though, I must confess that God is not bound at all by doctrine and Theology. He seems to thwart our best attempts to define Him. He is not to be studied, He reveals Himself at His choosing (Deut 29:29).
At the same time, however, there is sound and unsound doctrine. Theology can be labeled “good”, “better”, “best”, and “bad”. And never forget that heresy is always at the door to rob the church of the power and freedom of Christ’s gospel.
In my study of God’s word, I am more confident that the system of doctrine that best suits the message and mystery of the Bible has technical terms like Calvinistic, reformed, covenantal, monergistic, and Christocentric.
Yet, it must be said with great frustration that those with the correct technical leanings can still completely miss the mark. Calvinists can be combative and arrogant, using their seemingly superior sensitivity to hammer the weak with unmerciful floggings. It is like whipping a child with a large, raw, cold T-bone steak.
Laurence Vance presents this dark side of doctrine with the following indictment:
“Nothing will deaden a church a church or put a young man out of the ministry any more than an adherence to Calvinism. Nothing will foster pride and indifference as will an affection for Calvinism. Nothing will destroy holiness and spirituality as an attachment to Calvinism….The doctrines of Calvinism will deaden and kill anything: prayer, faith, zeal, holiness” (quoted in Philip Graham Ryken, What is a True Calvinist?, 2003 P&R Publishing).
I read a lot of reformed websites on the internet. Calvinists do a great job of telling us what is wrong with every Christian view out there. They do a great job of pointing out problems, yet I never get a feeling that some of them really like anything.
As I read over some of my past blogs, I too sound arrogant and combative at times. Sometimes it is just the jagged edges of truth, but at other times it is my smugness and stone casting.
Does this discount the value of the doctrine? Absolutely not! But let me openly confess and constrain myself to the following assertions.

My need and desire to glorify God is always brightened by my desire to love others.

I glorify God the most when my desire for Him flows out to a service to others.
I am not the Holy Spirit and I should lift up and protect weaker brothers.

Confrontation should always be lubricated with the lotion of love.

I should desire to win souls more than win arguments.

I don’t have to defend God, I need to faithfully share truth. He can take care of Himself.

Even if others preach Christ out of pretense, I can rejoice that He is being proclaimed.

Father, forgive me for showing my warts so often. Please allow me to love your Word more than good books. Help me to realize that many of the men I seek to follow were fully pursuing Christ. Please always help me remember that Scripture is my filter and my doctrine must give way to Biblical authority. Forgive me when I have done it the other way around. May people see my love more than my theology. May my life be a fragrance of love to my Savior rather than the rot of ideas without service or action.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Just How Bad Am I Doc?

Total Depravity is not well understood. Do we really know our propensity for evil? If it were not for God’s common grace, do we really know how bad it could be?

‘The natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:14)
“so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12)
“the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” (Rom 8:7)
“men walk in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God.” (Eph. 4:17-18)

Everything we touch is tainted by sin. Even our good deeds are soiled by our agendas, motives, and pride.

Our commitment to autonomy is ultimately our undoing. Do I really believe this?

We are so bad, that we are even inconsistent in our badness. We arrive at truth because we are corrupted at being bad.

Everyday we ignore the Lordship of God- We distort His nature- we misuse His name- We refuse to worship or show gratitude for Him- We pollute His Sabbath- We corrupt His temple- We usurp His authority- We harm His children- We steal His goods- We testify falsehood- and refuse to trust His provision…. Surely… not me?!

We even dare criticize Him for His wrath.

In my futility, I judge Him by my yardstick of carnal ignorance.
I sit back and watch countless people smear the name of His son.
I have kicked Him off the throne of my heart- I am asserting my own kingship.

Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

How bad is it? I’m afraid it is terminal. If I stay committed to my own independence, I am storing up a crap load of wrath.

Be afraid…be very afraid. An eternally atomic bullet is hurling toward my pride. I sit and laugh and party and sing and fart around. The momentum of this single sin caliber weapon will splatter me to splinters. My stained fingers and tongue wags at the shooter. I act as if it will never hit me. Surely it is going at another.

As I heartily justify my pitiful excuses, I don’t even pause to notice a love soaked brow stepping in the path of my destruction. I am a slime ball piece of filth. Lord, please don’t even dare look my way.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Smartest Man in the World

He is the smartest man in the world. He has multiple languages and complete understanding of world-view and philosophy. He has an uncanny ability to remember and connect. People are amazed by his brilliance as it easily flows over economic theory and chemical applications. Math and Literature seem almost undivided.

But, alas…still a problem. His intelligence has hidden a most evident fact. It is no small thing that looms over his head as an unseen noose.

You see - the smartest man in the world does not understand…that he is limited.

Though he commands a wide range of topics and logic, his perspective limits him.
Things he once knew…have changed.
As creatively and laboriously he works, he cannot expand beyond himself.

But THE LORD is uncontained. God is unbound.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than your ways and God’s thoughts higher than your thoughts (Is 55:9)

Compared to God, the smartest man in the world’s thoughts “are a mere breath” (Ps 94:11)

Man is DEPENDENT on the revelation of God.

Our best knowledge is merely a mystery (Deut 29:29).

However- the existence of God is not in the realm of the mysterious:

A simple man knows good because he is made in the image of God.
A child knows love because of the imprint of the creator.
All men evaluate and discriminate as a reflection of the Creator.
Logic is logical in the creation of the God of order.
Reason is reasonable because the nature of God is to reason.
Science is systematic because God is a God of design.

The smartest man suppresses his limitations and limps incautiously to eternity.
The simple man sees his limits and reverently casts himself on the Great Unlimited One.

In the full light of this truth…who is the real fool?