The recent debate between (Young Earth Creationist) Ken Ham and (Natural Evolutionist) Bill Nye (“the science guy”) has sparked much conversation, especially within the Christian community. There is diversity on the issue within Christendom as not everyone who believes the Scriptures to be the Word of God is a young earth creationist (YEC). Yet, there is an overwhelming tendency of YEC-ers to “bogart” the Bible. Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: Culture
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14
I remember being gripped by a life altering truth. The Reformers phrased it as, “Soli Deo Gloria!” – Glory to God alone. I had first been introduced to this phrase, not through church history, but through music. See, J. S. Bach would pen this Latin phrase at the beginning and end of each of his musical compositions (sometimes truncating it to “S.D.G”). As we all know from experience, grasping a fact and being gripped by that fact are two very different things. It wasn’t until after graduating from Bible college that God began to teach me what “Soli Deo Gloria” was. (Don’t think for one second that I think He’s done.. He’s not, it’s an ongoing journey. He is forever my Master and I am forever His “Padawan”.)
Fleshing out the Fact:
There is, however, a conjunction in the proclamation of the angels. They came proclaiming the arrival of The Messiah to God’s glory AND something else. It is the part after the “AND” that has been on my mind this Christmas season. (Actually, it’s been on my mind quite a bit before this month, but now is a convenient inroad to talking about it… and highly apropos as many will be singing it and hearing it in carols sung and played as well as reading it captioned on signs and billboards.) Grammatically, the “AND” is a coordinating conjunction; a word that joins two or more items (or phrases) of equal importance. So what the “AND” joins is just as important as the glory of God. This “AND” is a (dare I say “the”) primary way God’s Glory is fleshed out. This “AND” is the result of the coming of the long foretold Jewish Messiah (Isaiah 9:6). This “AND” is the result of the covenant faithfulness (righteousness) of God (Romans 3:21-26). This “AND” is the results fulfillment of the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15) – Where God promises to crush the head of the serpent. This “AND” is the result of the death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). This “AND” is the job of all those who are children of God (Matthew 5:9) because it is the task He,Whom we are to image to the world, accomplished through the cross (Colossians 1:20).
Walking in the Flesh(ed out Fact):
Truth be told, we often times forget all about the “AND”. We chant with Paul, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God!”, but for some reason we tend to compartmentalize that “whatsoever” – and by restricting the whatsoever, it ceases to be whatsoever.
There is an expression that warns, “Be careful of being so heavenly minded you’re of no earthly good.” The whole of Scripture clearly destroys that little quip for it teaches that giving all glory to God fleshes itself out in a specific result among the children of men (reaching the rest of creation also). If one ever is said to be so heavenly minded he/she is of no use on earth then that individual has ceased to actually be heavenly minded. He/She may be some breed of hyper-spiritualist, but having the mind of the God is not their situation. Spend some time reading Matthew 6:9-13 to see how inextricably linked heaven and earth are to each other.
So what does this fleshed out fact look like? How are we supposed to live that out in our earthy, day-to-day lives? Well, I wish I had a simple one liner that fit every situation so one could blindly live by that mantra. Actually, No I don’t! While that would make it easy, at least at first, it would drive us from following the very One that we should be driven to follow – Jesus The Messiah. When He came, He didn’t just appear on the scene and die on a cross. He lived a life; a life that is an example for us. His example is so vital that we are told to follow it in wondering how to respond under the most extremely harsh circumstance (I Peter 2:21). We are instructed that we will imitate His works (John 14:12). So how this bringing-peace-on-earth-life looks is this – it looks exactly like Jesus.
The early Christians, before they were called Christians, we known as followers of The Way (Acts 24:14). Jesus shows us this way. So for the rest of my life, I will follow Jesus – my Lord and my God – ever learning to be more like Him; and by His grace, bringing peace to a world enraged by sin and death (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
There is a movement that spends the majority of it’s effort in warning those who ascribe to its belief system of the dangers of worldliness. Nearly every sermon will include a plug for prohibition of alcohol, hair length and/or earrings on men, abstinence from the theater, the evils of TV, how modern Christian music is from the pit of hell… essentially how our society is degenerating and the ever pressing need to refrain from the popular. This mindset is not only unbiblical, oppressive, and it is anti-Christian as it actually promotes worldliness. You may have guessed the movement by now – it’s known in the Christian community as “Fundamentalism”. The mindset that is the foundation of this movement is LEGALISM.
Legalism uses fear to keep it’s people “in line” (see a good article depicting that here), and produces nothing but undesirable results. There is either a form of self-loathing, and the unshakable feeling of failure and worthlessness from one’s inability to keep all the rules (or undergoing ridicule for merely questioning the validity of the rules), or there is arrogance as one feels they have done a great job at keep the rules. Each box checked in their spiritual life is confirmation that they are living a life that God is pleased with while those around them are failing to be “godly”. These successful legalist see others as worldly while they remain “unspotted from the world”. What they don’t see, is that they are the epitome of what is worldly and 100% opposed to Jesus. That’s what legalism does, it enable us to turn one of the most beautiful things in the world, GRACE, and slather it in the fecal matter of our own pride so we can rub other’s noses in it.
Jesus tells us a story of people like this:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people —greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’
“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” ~ Luke 18:9-14
Today was the anniversary of when America was rocked to it’s very core. Fear struck us all. But then again, that’s exactly what THEY wanted wasn’t it? That’s why they’re called “terrorists”. their goal is to strike fear in the hearts of the people at the place where people feel the safest. And their plan worked… for a while. But what I saw today told a completely different story.
Instance 1: We are on vacation in Gulf Shores, AL. It’s a beautiful place, and the second time I’ve been here (the first was 9 years ago on my honeymoon). We were out shopping as is apparently customary for many vacationers to do, and this particular outlet grouping had taken consideration of all the husband-fathers who were reluctantly drug along as they had built a conveniently placed children’s play area in the center of all the stores. I sat and watch my 3 boys play with the other children as if nothing were wrong with the world while there was an American flag half-mast to remind me of what happened on this day so many years ago. In front of that flag I saw joy on the faces of children and their parents as they played. Fear had not won out!
Instance 2: Later this evening I was walking the beach with my beautiful wife, and we passed a small marriage ceremony. This bride, groom, matron/maid of honor, best man, and the wedding officiator were symbolizing far more than they realized. Love was being expressed on this day – 9/11. Fear didn’t win, love won!
These things are a shadow of things to come. I know it’s to come as the Reality of it has already come and spoken these words:
“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going… I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:1-4, 6
Fear loses and (to quote a controversial author) “Love wins!”
“Fear not.” ~ JESUS
I grew up being told that God was kicked out of school on June 25, 1962 with the Engle v. Vitale case. I even remember my dad sporting a t-shirt at the beach on year that read, “They kicked Him out in 1962”. Statistics are given how school violence increased, along with immorality, and education began its steady decline. You can see this exemplified here. Read the rest of this entry »