Archive for July, 2012

The Consequences of Killing God

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is dead; a phrase first popularized by nihilistic, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in the late 1800’s. He believed that atheism was coming of age, and that Christianity’s influence would wane due to scientific advances. In his Parable of the Madman he presses his point. Notice the vivid descriptions that Nietzsche uses.

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” — As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

Many continue to echo the sentiments of Nietzsche, “God is dead.” Yet, have we fully considered the ramifications of this statement? Nietzsche had a firm grasp of following this thought to its logical conclusions. The implications are frightening. He predicted that the 20th century would be the bloodiest in history, if people were to espouse the belief that there is no God.

If there is no God, there is no basis on which to construct an absolute standard of morality. One might appeal to herd mentality or the innate sense of right and wrong. It is true, that without God, man can still live a moral lifestyle, but without God, man lacks a point of reference or a place to anchor his morality. The standard for morality becomes self referential.

For instance, in some cultures there is no prescription against cannibalism or rape. Even between individuals what is endorsed morally varies greatly. Whose morality is correct? How do we determine whose morality is correct? One might not like, or even blatantly disagree with, the behaviors of others, but they cannot say it is morally wrong. Without God, morality becomes subjective, with each individual determining what is right or wrong in their own eyes.

Thankfully, God is not dead. He is very much alive, though many do their best to place Him under house arrest. Morality is rooted in the personality of God. We need not wonder how to live moral lifestyles. God has supplied all of the information needed to live morally and gives mankind a place to anchor their morality.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” –John 14:6

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

The Sex Olympics

12

Odds are good that at some point this weekend you tuned in with over 3 billion other people to watch the Olympic Games. The Olympics are inspiring to watch, as you witness records being broken and mankind pushing physical strength and agility to their limits. The world looks on in wonder at the accomplishments made and cheers for their country with pride.

Recently, reports were given on what occurs within the Olympic village. Behind the scenes is a extreme party scene filled with debauchery. Reports say that the Olympic village will be stocked with 100,000 condoms during the course of the games. Apparently, the Olympic athletes engage in copious amounts of sex. According to world-record-holding, American swimmer Ryan Lochte, about 70-75% of Olympians engage in what I am terming, somewhat tongue in cheek, “the sex Olympics”.

Honestly, I find this disheartening. When watching the Olympics we get an image of people who have so much physical control and strength, but lack these same qualities when it comes to morality. Instead, if reports are correct, many feed their sensual appetites and show limited control.  Yet, this is becoming the norm. The sacredness of sexuality is increasingly impugned, yet at what cost?

Working with both individuals and couples, I can tell you that the emotional consequences of casual sex can be astronomical (much less the unexpected physical consequences that are so often the case). Having sexual partners previous to marriage often causes difficulties within marriages, sometimes without the couple fully knowing that this is the case.

So what does this mean for us as Christians, both single and married? It means it is our sole responsibility to promote a healthy sexuality grounded on a biblical perspective. It is up to us to hold ourselves and one another accountable to what God’s word says about sex. It means we keep our hearts and minds pure. It means we help our spouse guard their hearts along with their eyes. It means that we dress and behave in ways that will not contribute to those around us stumbling. It means that we have conversations, even if it isn’t always comfortable to do so. It means that the church must be willing to talk openly about this issue and engage our morally depraved culture.

We were created as sexual beings, but our sexuality was meant to be maintained within a proper context. Just as Olympians exhibit focus and self control when it comes to athletics, so also can we maintain a proper focus and self control in matters of sexuality and lust. It is up to the Christians to redeem sexuality and keep it sacred. Are we doing that? Are we keeping our minds pure? Are we meeting our spouse’s needs and keeping open lines of communication about sexual struggles? Are we holding one another accountable? Are we speaking truth even when it is uncomfortable?

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. There is (not) anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. . . (but) you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.” – C.S. Lewis

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Man’s Innate Desire to Worship – By Ronald Rodriguez

2

Today we have a guest post by Ronald Rodriguez. He has his own blog called “Bear Veracity.” Want to know why it is titled as such? Guess you will have to pay him a visit and find out. Hope you enjoy his writing today. Leave him some thoughts on the post and make him feel good. Blessings and walk good!

 

There are many old-time favorite shows that we all hold dear and have many fond memories that take us back to different moments in our lives. I might be a young man, but I really loved watching numerous classics as a young child like the Andy Griffin Show, I love LucyThe Little House On The Prairie and so many other others.

I am certain that we all have a favorite episode of one of these old-time series that we can say taught us something. Well, that is the case for me at least because I can still remember one episode of The Little House on the Prairie due to what I learned from it.

In this particular episode, Pa was working hard to grow the crops like usual. The amount of work he did was normal as it was hard to make a living out on the frontier. I mention this because one night came as the family was asleep; Pa was awakened by lightning and thunder. Of course, he looked outside to see what was going on, to see a hailstorm hammering his crops. Seeing this, he immediately put on his hat and jacket and ran out to the field. With this going on, Ma immediately started to pray. Mary looked through the window while Laura tried to get around her to see Pa out in the dark trying to save the crops. Pa finally came in right before dawn and gave the family the bad news that the entire crop was lost. These crops that he worked hard on for months had been lost in one night. Their whole livelihood was lost due to this one storm.

This is certainly a dramatic event in anyone’s life. This episode got me thinking what would I do in this situation?  What would you do in this situation? I pondered, would I complain? Would you? Or would your first reaction be to worship God? Or would you not worship Him because you do not believe in Him or believe He is a manmade concoction.

The first several questions I will not address, as I really want to discuss the later two more importantly. In regards to “would your first reaction be to worship God?” I suggest that all of us should turn to God in humility and gratefulness. Wait, you said what? Why? I say this because our lives of faith in God begin with worship. Let’s not forget that A.W. Tozer stated that worship is the main purpose of why we were created in His own image.

God created man is His own image for man to worship God more than anything else. Man is the only creation of God that He is able to use to admire Himself. Man is the only creation capable of fulfilling this role, because man is the mirror image of God. As a result, God looks upon man to see himself like a new father would look upon a new born child to see if the baby looks like him. The purpose and intent of God in creating man in His image was for man to reflect His glory. A.W. Tozer adds that “man’s supreme function through all eternity is to reflect God’s highest glory, and that God might look into the mirror called man and see His own glory shining there. Through man, God could reflect His glory to all creation.”

We all are a mirror image of Him, which is the reason why we were created. It is our purpose to make Him the centerpiece of our lives to fulfill our desire to worship. We were not created to make our work what we worship. We were not created to place our desire to worship into learning new things. We were not created solely to enjoy ourselves, even to indulge in the pure pleasures of life or for the thrills life brings.

Before we move forward it is important to evaluate the later question concerning that worship is not necessarily a Christian invention. This is stated because when cultures from around the world are studied, the majority – if not all of them – worship some form of deity. Thus, to say mans innate desire to worship is based on non-belief or false premises is an insufficient explanations. History shows us that every culture has found a way to worship their own deities in some form.

The Apostles taught that man has fallen, which destroyed the glory of God on earth. As a result, the reflection of God in man was broken. God is unable to look upon humankind and see His complete glory reflected due our sinful nature. This is a result of man’s failure to fulfill our created purpose to worship Him.  Man has forgotten his purpose and continues to stray away farther to find other things to fill that emptiness. If God is not in the heart of man, he will find something else to place there. Furthermore, if man does not enjoy worshiping God, he finds something else to worship.

We all have life experiences and seen others who decide not worship God and attempt to fill the void with something else. It could be boats, idolizing money, going to parties or so many other examples in our own lives, or that we have seen firsthand. Those that do not know what to do or do not want to acknowledge God always find something to replace Him, in an attempt to fulfill our innate desire to worship. Through this God becomes lost to the individual that replaces him with the numerous pleasures in life that man has invented. Those satisfied in mans own pleasures will always contest the existence of God. Many will argue how can a good God allow evil? Or over the meaning of life. 

The argument about the existence of God with people can become a never ending cycle. As a result, asking them why is it that man, which is on a planet, has a desire to worship a deity that is not on the planet? Is this simply a innate spiritual trait or is it simply the product of someone’s environment? If this is the case, why is there a desire in all men throughout the world to worship a deity?

Man does seek to worship simply because he was created to do so.  The chief concern in the matter is that man is also created with a free will. As a result, he is able to make his own decision to worship God or not. That single variable placed into the equation changes everything, and forces us to consider that deities can come in various forms, which man chooses from. Thus, we can choose to make anything from our house, our car or any other material possession, or even wealth into our own personal deity.

It is a must to examine man when considering his innate desire to worship. The examination is not limited to one nation or culture, but open to humankind. As a result, this examination is not bound by ethnicity, race, wealth, intelligence or any other category we could place an individual in. In addition, the issue that is being addressed is not a matter of art, literature, language, history, mathematics, or even science. The examination is a matter of basic concepts that are “devoted to the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom.” Hence, the issue has been mans philosophical issue throughout its existence.

In addressing the issue of mans innate desire to worship, D.L. Moody wrote that “[p]hilosophers [have] agreed that even the most primitive races of mankind reach out beyond the world of matter to a superior Being. It is as natural for man to feel after God as it is for the ivy to feel after a support. Hunger and thirst drive man to seek for food, and there is a hunger of the soul that needs satisfying, too. Man does not need to be commanded to worship, as there is not a race so high or so low in the scale of civilization but has some kind of god. What he needs is to be directed aright.” This explicitly illustrates why man needs The Ten Commandments, particularly the first commandment.

This issue clearly illustrates the need for the first commandment. But why would God explicitly say who to worship? He has done this not to leave us ignorant or worshiping other objects, possessions, or people that we were not meant to worship. Furthermore, He knows that man has an innate desire to worship Him as man is created this way and searches to find his creator. But God understood that man needed to be explicitly told who to direct their desire to worship towards. This is the reason behind why God began the declaration with His own character, and demanded that He receive our exclusive recognition – when Moses received the ten commandments - saying “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3)

Is Christianity a Crutch?

4

Christianity is often characterized as a crutch. In order to avoid dealing with man’s mortality he must appeal to a god that is capable of bestowing upon him the reward of eternal life. As Karl Marx once said, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.”

Christianity is frequently painted to be a worldview of the simple minded. Believers are to be pitied for their need to cling to God, who is nothing more than a means of soothing their worried minds and wearied hearts. It is an easy escape from a cruel and indifferent world. The atheist or skeptic is seen as the intellectually superior specimen with one foot firmly planted in academia and the other in harsh reality.

So is Christianity a crutch? Well, in one sense, it is. We live in a broken world, full of suffering and injustice. Every single person that walks this earth seeks something to lean on. Is there a single soul that has not grown weary? It should be pointed out that everyone uses some crutch. Crutches come in many forms: substances, money, sex, food, possessions, relationships, etc. There are a host of things available to offer one mental and emotional support. As Rick Warren is fond of saying, “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.” The Christian understanding of the world is that people are injured, sick with sin, prone to self-destruction and are in desperate need of healing. The Christian would say we are incapable of handling sin, sorrow, and death ourselves and are in need of God.

Some would argue that belief in God only persists because people desperately want it to be true. Again, dealing with sickness and death is taxing on one’s emotions. Yet, can’t we turn this argument on its head? If one suggests that Christians believe simply because they want God to be true, then it might be said that atheists do not believe because they don’t want God to be true.

One might also argue that atheism is a crutch. It is an escape from the moral proscriptions that one is placed under when they believe in God. In fact, living a Christian life is much more difficult when one ascribes themselves to living within a biblical framework. The believer is called to die to self, to love one’s enemies, to respect everyone, to turn the other cheek, and live a moral life. The atheist gets a free pass to live however he or she likes. He is bound to no one but himself.  The Christian, instead of getting a crutch, is told to take up their cross.

Christianity is a crutch only in the sense that one realizes they are weak and burdened with sin. The believer leans on Christ’s redemptive acts on Calvary and the grace found there. Finding comfort at the foot of the cross often leads to people leaving many of their former crutches behind.

Christianity is not an excuse to be intellectually lazy. Belief in God is not, as Mark Twain said, “Believing what you know ain’t so.”  It is following the truth where it leads and having a reason for belief. It should be pointed out that many of Science’s greatest minds throughout history, including modernity, have been theists. Belief in God is not something that has been divorced from academia. There are thinking Christian’s aplenty.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Safe House

1

Have you ever woke up to a perfectly wonderful day, where you feel good, the sun is shining, you eat a bowl of your favorite, sugary cereal and are ready to take on the day? Then someone along the way makes one critical comment and your day is completely derailed. Just in a matter of minutes, the prognosis of your day goes from sunny and positive to negative and gloomy.

We are funny creatures. We can be showered with hundreds of complements (does that ever happen?) and receive one negative statement, and all we will focus on is the negative. A demeaning or critical comment can often rob us of our mental or emotional energy. They knock the emotional wind out of our sales. It is fascinating because one negative person can suck all of the positive energy out of the room if it continues unabated.

Now, I understand, we make the choice to let negative or critical statements ruin our day. We choose to dwell and ruminate on them. But, we would not have to waste the energy trying to overcome these toxic comments if they weren’t made in the first place.

The Gottman institute released a study stating that we receive six critical statements for every positive statement that comes our way. This is a sobering and harsh reality. We already focus on the negative heavily in lieu of the positive, but we also receive six times as many negative comments as we do positive. We get verbally assailed on a daily basis.

The tragedy is, for many, they get beat up throughout the course of their day by the words of others, and then they go home and get pounded on more. This should not be so! Our homes should be a safe house. They should be places of encouragement. Each spouse should be the others greatest cheer leader. Words have tremendous power, especially when spoken by the most significant person in your life.

Men need to be told that they are doing a good job; that they are making a difference. Wives need to communicate respect to their husbands. Women need to be affirmed as well. Men need to communicate to their wives that all the many things they do never go unnoticed. They need to be told that they are attractive and desirable. Both partners need to continually lift one another up. They don’t need to be torn down or demeaned, especially in front of other people.

Let me also point out that negative words spoken in jest, are still just as hurtful. So often one spouse will say something hurtful to the other and then say, “I was just kidding.” Sometimes, this seems like a copout. I think often one will say what they truly thinking to the other and then cover their tracks by saying it was said in humor.

So how are you doing? Is your home a safe house of encouragement? Are you lifting up your partner? Are you reminding them that they are special and desirable? Do you continually let them know how deeply you care for and respect them?

Be an encourager to your spouse. It may just change the temperature within your marriage from cold or lukewarm to a much cozier place.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” I Thessalonians 5:11

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

What is one of the most encouraging things someone has said to you?

Four Years and Running

4

It was four years ago, on July 19th, that I stood across from the woman I love and exchanged vows. It was truly a happy day. We were both able to relax and take the day in. We were able to celebrate life and the love we have for one another in the midst of all the people that have cared for us and invested in our lives. Yet, on that day, as I stood smiling across from this wonderful woman, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of tale I had fallen into. What would life be like? What would our adventure together consist of? Thus far, it has exceeded my wildest expectations. It has been an adventure like no other.Sometimes, it’s just fun to reminisce. It is life giving, to remember some of the details about your past together and celebrate the relationship that God has given you. I feel truly blessed.  I have an abundance of happy memories and would be pressed to come up with a handful of unhappy ones. God has blessed my wife and I in so many ways, and I am thankful for his goodness in our lives. Even if tomorrow my life was over, I can say I have no regrets in my relationship with my wife, and that is an incredibly wonderful feeling.

So, just for a few minutes, I would like to reminisce about some of the tales my wife and I have woven together in our first four years together.

After we were married, we were to leave for Jamaica the next day. We didn’t make it to Jamaica the day after our wedding because we slept through our flight. Oops. So we stayed in Houston an extra day. It was so great. We just recounted the day before. We ate at Saltgrass, which we usually do every anniversary now, and we slept because we were exhausted from the wedding. We were also worn out from wedding preparations.  We ironed at least 40 table cloths until 5 AM the morning before our wedding. Once we got to Jamaica, we had such an amazing time. We rode four wheelers through the jungle, zip lined through the jungle canopies, and fed hundreds of tropical fish hot dog buns while snorkeling (who knew the fishies liked hot dogs).

Shortly after this, we had to fly to California. We hiked all the way up to the Hollywood sign. We met a lot of interesting people in Hollywood. We got to see a lot of sights I would just as soon forget.

Some of my favorites times with her, were driving back and forth to Tyler several times a week as we both stove to finish school. The long car rides gave us so much time to connect and talk about life. It gave us time to dream together. I enjoyed getting to sit in classes with her. We would always compete on tests. She beat me on majority of the tests, but my GPA was where I got my victory. In December of 2008, we both were able to graduate together, and got our MA in psychology.

Shortly after graduation, we wanted to hear the pitter patter of little feet running around the house so we got a dog. We drove to Dallas just to get our pup, and we named her Jacksie. She got her name because she is a Jack Russell, and also because that is what C.S. Lewis named his dog. We had so much fun playing with this dog.

Together, in the last four years we have gotten to meet several people on my bucket list: Ted Dekker, Norman Geisler, Andy Stanley, Chuck Swindoll. We have taken road trips. We tend to love time together in the car. One time, we drove 14 hour straight home from Tennessee and listened to a book the whole way home. It was such a great memory.

Another one of my favorite memories was when it snowed in December in Southeast Texas. We played in the snow and drove around.  It looked like a whole new place, since everything was blanketed in white. That was definitely one of my favorite Christmases.

I remember when we first found out that we were going to have our son, Hayden. What an interesting stir of emotions that was. When Devon was in labor, I worked on paper and played angry birds for a few hours until things got intense. When he made his way into this world it instantly brought us closer together. Then, I slept around the clock in the hospital. I was more tired than Devon, it must have been from all the hard work I did.

When we got Hayden home, I was not prepared for the sleep deprivation coupled with excitement. It took us a couple of days to figure things out. I remember a set of pajamas with buttons made us both break down and cry. They were tricky and we were taxed of emotional resources. I can remember taking care of Hayden in shifts. I got the night shifts and would watch movies or read books.

I could go on and on, but I will just stop here. What a blessing these past four years have been. I am looking forward to writing the rest of our story together. Who knows what the next fifty years of marriage hold, provided I don’t tap out before then.

Thanks for being a part of my story Devon Fults. Who knows what twist and turns our story will take? What an exciting story it has been.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Despicable Me!

3

Usually on Mondays, I do a post on marriage. This week, that just did not happen. Why? Because I was being despicable.  I had a bad attitude Sunday night and put myself to bed early, and Monday was pure chaos. The week started off on a negative note. My wife’s dad is was still having some serious health problems and we found out at the doctor on Monday that we need to see a specialist due to some potential (although unlikely) complications with our pregnancy and future daughter, Hadley. We spent much of the day Monday in the doctor’s office or at the hospital.

I don’t know if you are familiar with Charles Stanley’s anacronym HALT, but it stands for: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. When you are in any of these states, he says you should halt. That is, take a step back, talk to God, and find your center. Monday, I was firing on all four HALT cylinders. Not only was I not heeding to the HALT, but I was very behind on work, which is far worse for giving me a bad attitude than the combination of being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Throughout the day my wife was a champ, often trying to lift my spirits, but I was completely incorrigible.

When faced with trying days, challenging situations, or just days when you feel that you have every right in the world to be a grump, you can either lean into God love and mercy or you can pull away in the opposite direction. You can turn toward your spouse or you can turn away. You can find rest and encouragement or you can choose to keep a bad attitude and live in the land of funk (the gross funk, not the funky funk that Coolio sang about on his fantastic voyage).

Monday, I chose to pull away from God and turn away from my spouse, both of which were bad ideas. When we choose to pull away from God we reap the unfortunate consequences of that and find ourselves in short supply of peace, joy, patience, etc. When we turn away from our spouse instead of turning toward them we feel like we are fighting alone. It is a much better idea to trust God with the course of your day (and life) and walk side by side with your spouse through trying times.

The week has gotten much better. I’m not hungry anymore; in fact, I got some Chic-Fil-A that day on the way home. I am not angry anymore because I had no one to be angry at. I am not lonely anymore because I turned toward my spouse. I am not tired anymore….wait…I am still tired, but I can deal with that. Plus, not to mention, I have worked my tail off this week and caught up on a lot of work.

I am thankful for fresh new day. I am thankful for grace. I am thankful for the God who loves me and offers mercy. I am thankful for the amazing friend He has given me in a wife.

Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Behind?  Busy? Worried? Constipated (just making sure you were paying attention)? Frustrated? Always lean into God.  Always turn toward your spouse.

God chooses what we go through; we choose how we go through it.” – John Maxwell

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Self-Help Christianity?

9

Being a counselor and a minister, I have a fascination and dedication to the study of psychology and theology. I believe the two intersect to a profound degree, because we are emotional, psychological, and spiritual creatures. I believe people have a host of difficulties that come with living in a fallen world. We are in need of practical solutions for daily living, times of difficulty, and problems as they arise. I start here because I want to be very clear. People need help in living their lives in a Godly and healthy manner. In fact, much of this blog’s intent is to help people do just that, by challenging people to live wise or “walk good.”

I do feel, however, that there is a growing problem within Christianity and the church. A greater emphasis is being placed on self help than Christian doctrine or theology. The practical side of Christianity cannot be divorced from the doctrinal side of Christianity.

Walk into any Christian book store today, and you will find a plethora of books and resources to learn to be a better you. Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not attacking Christian book stores or books geared at character reformation, life improvement, or applying Christian principles in daily life. I am saying that what is sold in these stores and subsequently taught in churches has become extremely lopsided.

So often, we see a heavily psychologized version of Christianity that promotes the idea that you can help yourself. It is all about your strength. You can do it. Yea, God is important, but here are the tools to help yourself. That isn’t what the Christian life is about. The Gospel is not a self help book. It is a book that says, “You can’t do it yourself so Christ did it for you.” It promotes the idea that we are weak, but made strong through Christ. It states that we can do all things only through Christ, who is the source of our strength. It seems today, that a shift has taken place where people are encouraged to become empowered and take control of their own lives; when the Gospel has always been about surrendering one’s life to Christ. We find within the pages of the Gospel that in our weakness we are made strong only through Christ.

It seems as though within churches the teaching of systematic theology and biblical interpretation are becoming rare. People have limited knowledge of basic theological concepts and doctrines. So often, people are taught how to apply the Bible, but they are not taught the Bible or how to study it for themselves. We are seeing a dumbing down of Christianity, when people are perfectly intelligent enough to grasp difficult theological constructs.

A demand is made for teaching within churches to accommodate daily living. Many people want something that they can apply immediately in the here and now. Surely, this form of teaching is important in the church. We cannot neglect to teach people how to make God apart of their daily lives and how to walk in wisdom, but we most assuredly cannot neglect to teach the theological and doctrinal aspects of Christianity at the expense of the practical. A focus on the immediately applicable without theological and doctrinal instruction leaves the believer with no foundation. He loses the reason behind the application.

It seems that we see actual Bible study and discussion of the Bible less and less. Instead, we increasingly see DVD’s that offer small biblical sound bites. Many of these DVD’s are helpful, but it is to our detriment with this becomes the diet of a church. Christians need to be discipled, taught how to study their bibles, and offered environments where systematic Bible study is offered. Christians need to be taught Theology, doctrine, and apologetics. They need to know the foundation upon which practical Christian living is built. They need to understand the reason God says what He says. They need to become familiar with why living a certain way is counterproductive to the Christian life.

While I love the practical side of Christianity and greatly enjoy teaching it, I also feel we as churches need to focus on the basics and core of the Gospel more heavily. We also need to remember that Christianity is not “Self help”; it is instead, God helping, equipping, and empowering us as believers. The moment we make Christianity self-referential we have surely lost our way!

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

What are your thoughts? I would love to have people weigh in on this. Has Christianity as a whole promoted the idea of self help? Has Bible study been replaced by the Gospel sound bite? Are we becoming less knowledgable about theology? Has Christianity been dumbed down in recent years? Be heard!

A Scary Place: Friday the 13th Edition

8

Okay, full disclosure right up front. I am a complete scaredy-cat. I refuse to watch horror movies. I just don’t like them. They keep me up at night. When I am alone in the wee hours of the morning, scenes from scary movies decide to set up camp in my brain. Now don’t get me wrong, I love thrillers and suspenseful movies, but I just cannot handle movies with evil content or where people get hacked and slashed. If the movie involves spinning heads and green peas flying out of people’s mouths, I will have to respectfully abstain.

When I was about twelve, I spent the night at some friend’s house. They had built up a tolerance for scary movies, to which I was unaware. They suggested we watch a scary movie, so I decided to man up (or boy up) and agreed to view the film. This was a colossal mistake in my young life. After the movie, I was extremely frightened and hyper-vigilant.

Shortly after the movie, my friends decided to go to sleep at about 11:00 P.M. What kind of sleepover was this anyway? Who goes to bed at eleven on a Friday night? I knew I had a long night ahead of me. There would be no way I could turn my mind off, erase the images I had seen in the last couple of hours, and calm my nervous system down enough to even remotely think about sleeping.

So around eleven we all went and got in our beds and mine was conveniently located in front of a giant window with no blinds or curtains. Perfect. Who knows what kind of deranged psychopath or otherworldly creature was staring in at my scrawny twelve-year-old self, just waiting for the opportune moment to pounce? It was one of the longer nights I can remember. I lay there, awake, staring at the ceiling, without anything to occupy my time other than my thoughts. As dawn broke, I finally mustered up enough courage to get some rest.

Needless to say, I loathe Friday the 13th (and Halloween) because it is nothing but a smorgasbord of scary movies. So, I happily avoid the festivities on television associated with the day. I have no desire to expose my mind to scary imagery and lose any amount of precious sleep (I feel like I don’t get enough as it is. Can I get a witness?).

It is nice to know you can just avoid Friday the 13th if you want. Yet, I will say, there is a scary place that we can’t avoid. It is always there, full of some of the darkest, vilest, and most sinister stuff. Often, it lurks just below the surface, laying in wait. I am speaking of the human heart, your heart and mine.

Our hearts are full of grossness. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 15, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies,blasphemies.” All of the junk that comes out in our lives comes from our hearts. Nasty and scary things lurk down in the dark. We may not even be aware of what is in there at times, and often we keep it out of sight from prying eyes.

We do a wonderful job of hiding the hideousness that exists in our hearts. We learn to act in appropriate ways and keep a lid on the grossness. We learn from an early age what to say and what not to say. We learn to filter our actions and measure our words. So while we may have some monstrous things going on inside, we do great at keeping others from being aware.

The problem is, from time to time, our guard goes down and some of this grossness comes out. We act surprised and say things like, “Well, where did that come from. That isn’t like me. Usually I don’t act that way. Generally I don’t say those things.” But the truth is, all that stuff is there inside our hearts, we just do a great job at hiding it.

Life has its way of getting junk lodged in our hearts. Sometimes it is from being hurt. It can be a result of selfish desires or lust. Perhaps it is a result of bitterness. Maybe we have unhealthy appetites. It could be due to greed or envy. There is a long list of nasty stuff that gets buried in our hearts. If other people could see our hearts or read our minds, we would probably be embarrassed a great deal of the time.

This is why it is so important that we examine what is going on in our hearts on a regular basis. We are reminded in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else,for it is the source of life.” When we let scary, gross, or embarrassing stuff build up in our hearts we can expect them to make their way into our lives. If we want to avoid difficulties in life, then we have to be serious about guarding our hearts and keeping them cleaned out.

You know, as well as I, that our hearts can be far scarier than any movie we could think to watch. So why don’t we watch over them? Are you guarding your heart? When was the last time you had a heart check? Has it been a while? Let’s take a quick inventory to see if everything is alright inside.

  • What are we feeding our minds?
  • Any problems roosting in your heart?
  • Anything you are bitter about?
  • Celebrate the failure of anyone lately?
  • Find yourself watching or looking at things that you know you shouldn’t?
  • Anything that you keep blaming others for?
  • Got any secrets you hope no one finds out about?
  • Told yourself lately, “Well, that isn’t a problem. I can stop whenever I like!”?
  • Do things come out of your mouth on a regular basis that you have to apologize for?
  • Lied to anyone recently?
  • Had to delete your browser history lately?
  • Making excuses for anything?
  • Waiting for someone to come make things right with you?
  • Find yourself pointing out other people’s flaws?

How is your heart? Everything alright in there?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Apologetic Wednesday: A Blog about Nothing

16

If you will give me just a few minutes of your time, I would like to talk about nothing. Now, I know you may be thinking, “Well, if you are going to talk about nothing, then why are you talking about something?” But I don’t want to talk about something. If I wanted to talk about something, I could practically talk about anything, because everything that exists is something. Yet, I want to talk about nothing. That is, I want to talk about the concept of nothing, not say nothing, because clearly I am saying something! Confused? It sounds an awfully lot like the Abbott and Costello bit called “Who’s On First?” doesn’t it?

Early this year theoretical physicist, Lawrence Krauss, released a book entitled A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. He attempts to promote the idea that the universe could have risen from nothing, thereby removing the need for a Creator or First Cause. Many people have been intrigued by the title. Krauss has garnered a lot of attention as of late. In fact, he has become ubiquitous, many who did not know his name now do. He even garnered an appearance on the Colbert Report, which was highly entertaining.

Prominent spokesperson for Atheism, Richard Dawkins, seems to think that Krauss’ work is the nail in the coffin of the Theist. He writes, “Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?,’ shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages. If ‘On the Origin of Species’ was biology’s deadliest blow to super­naturalism, we may come to see ‘A Universe From Nothing’ as the equivalent from cosmology. The title means exactly what it says. And what it says is ­devastating.” I am unsure why Dawkins feels the need to dote on this title, because the book answers no such question.

The problem rests on that pesky, little word, “nothing.” Krauss asserts that the universe did arise from nothing, but the nothingness from which he says the universe came is the quantum vacuum. Do you see the problem? He has renamed something (the quantum vacuum) nothing, when clearly it is something.  The quantum vacuum is essentially empty space, but it is rife with energy, it also weighs something. So what we have here is still something. Krauss doesn’t answer the question of why there is something when there should be nothing. He merely steps the question back a step. He has not dealt with the fact that one must explain where matter, energy, and the physical laws that our universe operates under come from in the first place. He simply redefines the term “nothing” to fit with his own naturalistic presuppositions that there is no God.

So that leaves us with our original topic to discuss, nothing. What exactly is nothing? Aristotle mused that, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” That is to say, nothing is a complete absence of anything. It is a term of universal negation. Physics cannot describe nothing, because nothing has zero properties to be described.

Christianity has always maintained that God created the universe Ex Nihilo, literally out of nothing. When it comes down to it, something has always existed. There is something that has always been out of necessity. Christians would say that this is God, whereas Krauss must appeal to a multi-verse (an infinite number of universes). Modern cosmology points to a specific beginning of the universe which seems best explained by an external, necessary agent, God.

So, as it is, the title of Krauss’ book is misleading, but I am sure it helped the book to move. He has done well with it, and it has offered him a greater degree of notoriety, to which I say kudos. Yet, it is possible that some laity will take his definition of “nothing” at face value when his nothing is really something.

As it turns out, nothing from nothing is still nothing, because nothing ever could.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” –Genesis 1:1

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Further Reading/Viewing:
William Lane Craig Vs. Lawrence Krauss Debate
New York Times Review of Krauss’ book by David Albert

Go to Top