Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Most Interesting Carrier

The Weed of God

Someone offered me weed. I'm a curious soul. So I did some research on how weed works on the brain. In other words, I wanted to know why the product is so effective. I learned that it has to do with neurons, neurotransmitters, synapses, protein receptors, cannabinoid receptors, etc. I am not impressed with folks who smoke marijuana. I am thoroughly impressed with the brain so affected by it. It might be the most complex of creations. So I thought of the Creator.

Then I was flipping channels late one night and came across Bill Maher, the fool. He was in a discussion about God with some other foolish folks. And Maher said that faith was "a belief in nothing." He elaborated. He spouted with conviction that God cannot be proven. So faith in God is confidence in nothing. "Faith is nothing," he said. So Bill believes that the believers are the fools.

But faith is not nothing. Faith is something. It's the one and only something that will tie a person to their Creator redemptively. And, faith is rooted in visible evidence. Faith is reasonable. For example, it deduces that the complexity of the human brain did not evolve over hundreds of millions of years by chance. Faith has the sense to look around, consider the delicate functioning creation (including the brain), and reason back to the existence of a Life-Giver with a mind of His own (Ps 119; Ro 1; He 12).

Faith also looks inward, at conscience, and the innate moral code that exists across a world of various cultures. This is mostly what holds societies together. It's not the fear of governmental punishment, for example. It's the inward witness forbidding destructive behavior (Ro 2).

For the record, the Christian Scriptures, called the Bible, do not present faith as a leap into the darkness, but as the most sensible of conclusions, and a coming out into the light. A person cannot reason him or herself into trusting Christ alone as God the Son to cover all of his or her sins. That's saving faith, and it requires an act of God in which He opens the unbelieving heart and scatters the absurdity of self-reliance. But simple faith in one's Creator, that's just rational. It begins with what one can see and understands the visible as pointers to the Invisible. God has revealed Himself, generally in creation and conscience, but also savingly in Scripture and Jesus Christ.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Our Children Should Be Safe With Us.

It is Walt Disney movies, after school specials, and oh yes, us parents, who lie to our children, telling them that they can be anything in this world they desire. We feed them with deceptions when we say to them that if they work hard, get educated, and just believe, they will rise. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are telling them none of this. Actually, the Scriptures are saying something quite different - that God is sovereign and runs the world, including every detail of the lives of each of our children. He measures out abilities, gifts, grace, failure, opportunities, and even faith (Ro 12:3). He is determinative, not them, and not us.

When I hear Romans 12 taught, the emphasis is almost always on the first two verses which contain instruction and activity for us. Then verse 3 informs us that God actually doles out the various degrees of faith to His various children. And the human author, the Apostle Paul, credits "the grace given to him" for his ability to offer Romans 12 information. A part of that information concerns our deep and abiding weaknesses and our need for God and others. And perhaps the most overlooked counsel in the text tells us that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but to think with sober judgement. . . What parent does this in regard to his/her children? It is true that in Romans 12 Paul has in mind a proper thinking of ourselves in relation to the quality of our faith and spiritual gifts. But spiritual gifts include natural abilities that God supernaturally employs. So perhaps this text has some further application to we parents as we consider the abilities of our little people (Cf Pr 22:6).

To think soberly doesn't mean to think badly of, unless of course our children are all bad. In a way, we're all all bad, in that we are sinners who, in our best moments, do not meet God's standard of a perfectly righteous performance. My point here, as I sit for a few moments and think about the reality of God and my desires for my children, is that the Bible calls us to sobriety, integrity, honesty, and accuracy when we are considering our little ones (or now young adult ones). It calls us to raise them in the fear of God, to train them in His righteousness, and to give them godly counsel for a lifetime. It does not call us to give ourselves idolatrously to their worldly success. It does not call us to live vicariously through the achievements we want for them. It does not call us to finance their foolish dreams of glory. It does not call us to be proud of their accomplishments in the flesh.

Romans 12:2 commands that we grow less like the world by acquiring a changed way of thinking and understanding. Yet we Christian parents are so often not only like the world but worse than the world  because we tie God to our sinful aspirations, as though they were birthed in Him. How difficult it is to be Christian in America, where worldly success and entitlement is the air we breath. Our children should be safe with us. And they won't be if we are deceiving them. They cannot be and do anything they desire, no matter how they may apply themselves. And you and I are to be happy about this, because it is God's design. The best and lasting success is faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Let's strive to model and teach that.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Heart Is Like A Highway

John Newton (1725-1807)
"This evil is present with me: my heart is like a highway, 
like a city without walls or gates. 
Nothing so false, so frivolous, so absurd, so impossible, so horrid, 
but it can obtain access, 
and that at any time, or in any place: 
neither the study, the pulpit, or even the Lord's Table, 
exempt me from their intrusion."
John Newton (Author of the hymn Amazing Grace, and pastor),
from Evil Present with the Believer, page 147

Thursday, July 2, 2015

God's Merciful Inclinations

"No human creature can rightly know how 
mercifully God is inclined toward those 
that steadfastly believe in Christ." 
Martin Luther, from Tabletalk #110