“In the measure that we love the Gospel, so let us place a strong emphasis on the languages. For it was not without reason God wrote the Scriptures in two languages, the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. That language which God did not despise but rather choose above all others for His Word is the language which we also should honor above all others. It is a sin and shame that we do not learn this language of our Book, especially since God has provided us people and books, and gives us all kinds of things which both help us with this task and at the same time stimulates us to do this” ~Martin Luther, Reformer, Theologian, 1524.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Some will be familiar with the church ad depicting a black and white portrait of a thorn crowned Christ with the caption: “He died to take away you sins. Not your mind.” Charles Malik, former president of the United Nations and a Christian, once remarked, “The problem is not only to win souls, but to save minds.” Os Guinness, Christian apologist and writer, tells about a game he played with his young son, called, “Spot the Lie.” Every time his son was able to spot a lie or deception on T.V., Os would give his son 25 cents.
Today, and more now than ever, the Christian is called to be a clear thinker, trained, and discipled to “spot the lies” and deceptions of modern thinking.
Our North American culture was once permeated—in its lifestyle, worldview, its thinking—by a Judeo-Christian worldview. However, society’s worldview has radically shifted to what Carl Henry called a “new paganism.” The American Church finds herself in a radically different environment than she did 200 years ago—than even twenty years ago! Indeed, the cultural context surrounding the Church now provides the Christian—and as well, mostly unknowingly, all Americans—with critical new challenges. Christians must come to grips with the forces of modernity (and pos-modernity) that are shaping society, and then to think Christianly within their everyday life routines in order to impact society with a biblical world- and -life view.
Modern culture is quickly becoming freed from Christian influence. We live in a day where “love” and “justice” are ideals, often detached from truth, especially objective truth. Herbert Schlossberg, in his book Idols for Destruction, points out that “People fail to appreciate the worth of society’s Christian underpinnings because they are unconscious recipients of its blessings.” And as a result, there is a conscious, even a covert effort to weaken Christian beliefs by assigning Christianity, simply, to the realm of opinion. The Church finds herself surrounded by many voices and choices; we live in a pluralistic society, which Os Guinness calls the “smorgasbord factor.” Multiple choices diminishes the value of each possible choice.
Although there are benefits to living in a tolerant, pluralistic society, it also brings a curse. Because of the plurality of “opinions,” truth is relegated to mere opinion—one among many. In The Closing of the American Mind, Alan Bloom offered his assessment of contemporary university education:
“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain: almost every student entering the University believes ... that truth is relative.”
As an embedded educational philosophy and framework for producing “educated” Americans, such an attitude makes it very difficult for society to see the exclusive claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as well, all biblically rooted observations about the world around us.
Christians have always struggled with the unending shift of changing culture. There are two extremes to avoid: On the one hand Christians must not become so relevant, so much like the culture, that they lose their power to confront the ungodly actions and attitudes of society; and on the other, Christians must refrain from remaining an irrelevant, mindless thinker.
The Christian must demonstrate a life and a mind, under the Lordship of Christ, which can give “a defence of the gospel, with meekness and gentleness” to a society that is shipwrecked on the falsehoods of secular thinking. The challenge of every mindful disciple of Jesus Christ is to learn to think Christianly in order to confront the ungodly actions and attitudes of our times. We must use our minds for the cause of Jesus Christ, to love God faithfully and to adequately love our neighbors. The Christian must develop the character that will live for truth, both in the private and the public spheres.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
“We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate...I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don’t know… It’s shocking.” ~David McCullough, historian, writer, author of John Adams
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Yesterday I had the honor and privilege to speak to a room full of fathers and single mothers, who had joined their preschool children for a Head Start sponsored father’s day breakfast. Over the last few years, our Head Start program has been facilitating a number of Fatherhood Initiative events to help fathers connect and become more involved with their children’s lives. Of course, single mothers (who have the hardest job on the planet) are welcome to join, particularly if there is an absent father, and thus have to fill the role of bother parents for their children. I shared a few things I hope encouraged the fathers to step-up and be a role model and invest in their children’s lives. I couldn’t speak to the absent fathers of course—they are harder to reach. So, I spoke to those present:
- Value the small investments of time and interaction: When my daughter was little, 3 to about the second grade, at bedtime I’d, of course read to her, but more we’d make up stories. Amanda would give me the characters for the story and the place and I gave the “once upon a time.” Not only did this give us time together, talking, interacting, but it helped stir the imagination—both of ours. Words and thoughts and being creative help to develop our children’s thinking and thoughts. We weren’t thinking of the future as much as just spending some time together; but, this activity certainly helped to develop Amanda’s thinking abilities, creativity, and the knowledge that her dad made the time for her. FYI—Amanda is a fantastic writer, has won a few scholarships for college because of her essay writing, and will be entering college as an English major, so she can become a writer.
- Take your child on adventures, not the big journey’s of vacations only, but small adventures. Amanda and I did everything we could think of—from visiting local farms, museums, even “shopping” adventures. I took Amanda to the beach a lot. There is so much to see and learn there. We even went to the beach in the winter, when there was snow and ice. After work even for a half hour. We found things to explore—even beyond the beach—small streams we passed, woods, lakes, whatever and wherever we could. Obviously this helps with investing time with our children; but, it also helps with experiencing new things, the surprise of learning, and planning—even responding to the unplanned.
- Get into your children’s classroom, especially when their little. I’d go eat lunch with Amanda and her Head Start class once a month. I’d call the day before to let them know to set an extra place at the table. I sat in the little chairs at their little table. Family style, I shared their meal with them. Talk to all the children there—at that time, Amanda loved having me interact with her classmates—especially those she knew didn’t have fathers. After the meal, while the kids brushed their teeth and nap time was set up, I went to the book center of the classroom, Amanda would pick a classmate to pick out a book and I’d read to them—two or three books, they were short. I showed up to as much as I could. This helps them to know both they and their school are important. I went on as many field trips as possible, even through middle school. Anytime there is a school event involving your child, find a way to go. I know this is difficult for many working fathers; but try to find a way to get into your child’s classroom.
- Finally, I talked about high school. The number one, fastest way to poverty is to drop out of high school. I didn’t know who had and didn’t have their high school diploma or GED, but I encouraged the fathers (who didn’t) to take the time to get their GED. Set the example that school is important.
I had a great time. The mothers around the room smiled and nodded in agreement with so much of what I said. I give them credit for their involvement in their children’s lives to; but they know the importance of a involved and present father.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
My daughter, Amanda, is all done. Last exam taken. Twelve years in the can. She is heading to Toccoa Falls College mid-August...English major...she thought about and still likes history, but this last year and especially with all the acknowledgement she has received about her writing...she is probably changing to English as her major.
I think I can now safely post her original college essay that she sent in to all the colleges she applied to. I thought it a great essay. I wanted her to write about her trip to the Lakota Indians in SD last summer....but that’s not the direction she chose. After she finished the essay (below), it was perfect...what she wrote was perfect and truly all Amanda.
Life is not held in orbit by one main culminating event. Life isn’t a ninety minute movie. Life isn’t a thirty minute sitcom. It is a story. Just like any great novel, I want my story to be unforgettable. After years have passed and life has been lived, I want to sit in a room with the shades drawn up and the world exposed, a cup of peppermint tea to my right on a side table, and a notebook with its companion, the pen, to my left. Perched on my lap, weighted down with memories will be a book bursting with my experiences, bound by my hardships, highlighted by the people I’ve met, and words filled with sarcasm, struggle, and smiles will flood from the pages in waves. I’ll run my fingers over the well worn binding, turning yellowed page by yellowed page.
I want to be one of those books that have seen hundreds of homes, rested on countless bookshelves, been opened by the hands of mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, and grandparents. I’ll be the book left in the pocket of an airplane seat, and I’ll travel the world. I’ll be the dampened book that was read while walking through the rain, because it couldn’t be put down. I want the pages marked, underlined, highlighted. I want notes scribbled in the corners and secret messages left behind by my readers.
But, there will be something special about my book. It will not have a climax.
If I am supposed to imprint on your mind a single event that has shaped me, there is no possible way I can. How am I supposed to choose one person, one experience when life is made up of the little events, the moments? It is every person you meet, the hands you hold, the smiles you give, and the tears you cry. You grow from hardships, you learn from mistakes, and every decision you make molds and defines you as a person. It is every birthday, road trip, fight, disagreement, and bout of laughter. Every line I have scribbled down on a piece of paper is a defining moment. You never know what will take root in your life and influence you. You never know who will become your moon and push and pull your tides. I like to think that even the smallest battles can tip the scales of war.
When one studies history they do not forgo the rebellions led by restless farmers, a duel fired between one patriot and a traitor, or the opinion of a single man that led to the execution of thousands, or the opinion of another that led to freedom for millions. Like history, a lifetime cannot be defined by one major event. Life is studied in small slices, in moments, in memories, in battles, and in losses and in victories. All of the world cannot fit onto a single page. Every day there is more to be uncovered; every moment history is made. Every moment I am making decisions that alter who I am and who I will become. I am creating causes and waiting for their effects. I am defining my history, and constructing who I am.
No. There is no single significant experience, achievement, or risk I have taken that has alone completely altered me.
It was my parent’s divorce, my father’s remarriage, the year I lived in a car and ate at soup kitchens. It is my third grade teacher, my middle school friends, my ninth grade history class, and my college decision. It is getting coffee with a friend, walking along the beach at night, and reading great books. It is calling my mother, who lives halfway across the country, to sing “Happy Birthday” and watching my father cry at his father’s funeral. Each moment is a memory. Each memory is significant, and their significance is what makes my life an unforgettable story.
Monday, June 06, 2011
A reference was made to Acts 19:2 recently, with some reference to when the Holy Spirit is given to a believer. This is a perfect passage to reflect on the need for not only knowing the Greek, but in allowing a NT author’s purpose and wider context form interpretation of a verse...and why isolating a verse to prove a doctrine is not a good thing.
εἶπέν τε πρὸς αὐτούς,
He said to them,
Εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐλάβετε πιστεύσαντες;
Did [the] Holy Spirit you receive, having believed?” [after is implied, but not a length of time—when is really the best way to translate this.]
οἱ δὲ πρὸς αὐτόν, Ἀλλ’ οὐδ’ εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἔστιν ἠκούσαμεν.
And to him they [said], “but no, if there is a Holy Spirit, we have not heard.”
The Acts 19:2 and context is not a proof for or against the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Both sides want it to be; but it simply is not. It is a question, v 2: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit, having believed” [keeping the simple participle, πιστεύσαντες, having believed]. Obviously they hadn’t “believed” because they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit, which is implied by their own answer that they were baptized into John’s baptism, not Jesus’. Whether they were saved and bound for heaven isn’t what this text is about. The expansion of the Gospel—here into Ephesus—is what Acts is about. The apostles are ensuring that the right Gospel is believed. This group believes and receives the Holy Spirit the same way the Holy Spirit has been manifesting itself in earlier chapters to show its expansion. They believe in the Gospel; they get the Holy Spirit. That’s it, and Acts (Luke) affirms that the true Gospel, despite barriers, misunderstanding, opposition and disbelief marches forward. Isolating verses and events in Acts to determine doctrinal positions is a faulty hermeneutic. Luke has a purpose and that is what should guide interpretation.
Just some of my thoughts.
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- Wasted Evangelism - Barriers militating against an open discussion on evangelism
- A thought on atheism’s problem with time
- L&S Quote - Thrust forward to a total testimony of salvation
- The Wasted Evangelism thesis—social action can be evangelism
- Wasted Evangelism-A long argument (my introduction)
- A working definition of biblical social action
- L&S Quotes - Dare to be right when the majority is wrong
- L&S Quotes - Evangelism isn’t table talk, it’s an emergency bulletin
- L&S Quotes - Don’t be pushed off your story
- A conclusion for my wasted sigificance and the Mark 3 commission
- L&S Quote - How holy women and men show their inner spiritual lives
- L&S Quote - This sounds odd: who lives, who dies
- Noah and the flood isn’t a children’s story (revised-reposted)
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer and getting our hands dirty
- Using Bertrand Russell’s own logic
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