Saturday, December 22, 2007

Logan, The Sky Angel Cowboy

What a great reminder of how God reminds even the youngest among us of the sacrificial Gift he gave us on Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Evidence No Atheist Can Deny

It took me by surprise at first. In the Faith section of our local newspaper was an article on the new book “The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings For The Nonbeliever”. This book is being edited by Christopher Hitchens; arguably one of the worlds leading atheistic thinkers today. I say I was taken by surprise because the atheist’s position is one of non-belief. Many would reason that if you hold to a position of non-belief then you do not have faith; something that would logically be required in order to make the faith section. After further reflection, however, I found the article to be appropriately placed. Here is why.

The atheist position holds to the idea that since the scientific evidence cannot irrefutably point to the existence of God, why believe in Him. Faith is a difficult concept for the atheist. They see it as something believers hide behind when there are no answers to tough questions. Faith is seen as a road block to rationality. What they are missing however, is the view from the other direction. The scientific evidence also cannot irrefutably disprove the existence of God, something that the noted Oxford biology professor and atheist Richard Dawkins admits to. Therefore, any position on God’s existence one way or the other requires (dare I say demands) faith. So I agree that religious people believe what they do based on faith… but so does the atheist.

Atheist’s claim their position is based on logic, evidence, rationality and reason. To them any claim to faith (Christian faith in particular) is lacking in these qualities. Yet there are those who are exceptionally brilliant that use these qualities in full measure and still hold a position of faith; G.K. Chesterton, Dinesh D’Souza, Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox and C.S. Lewis to name a few. However, these men are great because of their rarity in the faith not their common place. Most of us are too busy to do what is required to love God mightily with our minds. We are saved ourselves and that is satisfactory for us.

Consequently, a lack of evidence continues to be the main thrust for the atheistic argument. If the evidence was there they would believe God is real. As I think about that, I have to admit there is little evidence to prove God’s existence. I say this with the words of Jesus in mind when he said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If the faith community is honest with itself this is something we do not excel at given the whole. We look too much like the world to stand out as light shining in the darkness. The first century church grew solely because of how they loved each other. This was the evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the gospel back then, it is the only true evidence for the skeptic today. We so often demand the pastor practice what he preaches while at the same time ignore the fact that we ourselves are not living what we believe in the way we know we should.

Thus, we find Hitchens words to be true when he says, in spite of their claims “people are not as religious as many think.” As a Christian, I find the truth of this comment disheartening. The outsider looks in only to find so little of the life of the church being devoted to living for the glory of God. It may say so in the mission statement of each particular church, but it is not being lived out well enough to make a noticeable, measurable difference in our culture today.

Friends, this should not be so. Living our faith is the evidence for the truth of the gospel that the world needs. Doctrine and creed alone leave the skeptic bereft of divine satisfaction. They may deny the infallibility of the Scriptures, doubt its claims, point out our imperfections and call us irrational, illogical, unthinking and unreasonable, but the one piece of evidence they will never be able to deny is the contagious, abundant, overflowing, uncontainable, irresistible, eternally full, transformed life of a Christ follower.

So shine your light brightly. Live like God has made a difference in your life. Let us together, as the church community of Jesus Christ, give the skeptic the one piece of evidence they cannot deny - a transformed life!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If It Wasn't So Scary I Would Be Laughing.

No disrespect towards Islam intended but I must say someone in the Muslim community has got to get a clue as to what religious hatred is.

I do not know if you have heard, but a British school teacher who is (make that was) teaching at a school in Sudan was convicted of inciting religious hatred.
Here is the story from a news network I read on line:

"KHARTOUM, Sudan — British teacher Gillian Gibbons has been convicted of inciting religious hatred for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation from Sudan....

'It's a very fair verdict, she could have had six months and lashes and a fine, and she only got 15 days and deportation,' said Robert Boulos of the Unity High School, adding they would not appeal the decision.

Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after complaints to the Education Ministry that she had insulted Prophet Muhammad, the most revered figure in Islam, by applying his name to a toy animal.

The maximum penalty for the charge, which has attracted world wide attention was 40 lashes, a fine and six months in prison."

The teacher allowed the students to come up with the name. The teacher's only crime was giving the children the freedom to choose a name for that teddy bear themselves. She was in no way expressing and religious hated for Islam.

And to say that the sentence she received was fair is absolutely absurd! There is no way she should have been in jail at all. Thankfully the Sudanese Prime Minister has officially pardoned her and is shipper her back to England ASAP. Still this whole thing is ridiculous.

If it wasn't so scary I would be laughing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reading My Mail

Below is an e-mail I replied to that was sent out by my aunt. My cousin chimed in with his thoughts and so I had to do the same. (you know me)

Anyway, it was concerning the movie coming out called "The Golden Compass"


Hello from the USA!

You know, Randy, my mother forwarded this to me and I just could not help but throw my 2cents in here on this issue.

Let me start by saying that I went to the Internet Monk blog site; VERY GOOD by the way. (I have booked marked it)
In the article he makes the comment, “You see, I’m firmly in the camp of Chesterton on this one. The more the atheist talks, the more Christianity makes sense to me.”

While I like the comment and resonate with it personally, the problem lies in the fact that the average Christian in most American (& Canadian) homes does not have the intellectual where-with-all to refute and stand up to claims made by this “New Atheism” that is becoming part of pop-culture. In fact most cannot give an adequate defense for the infallibility of Scripture let alone for the existence of God Himself. This is a real dilemma for the Christian today. I say this because most believers do not even know who G.K. Chesterton is along with Dinesh D’Souza, Ravi Zacharias, Norman L. Geisler and C.S. Lewis. These men are great because of their rarity in the faith not their common place. These men are great because they did what Jesus asks of all of us when he says to love God with all our minds. This requires too much time, effort and energy. We are just too busy in this day and age to do what is required to love God mightily in this area. We are saved ourselves and that is satisfactory for us.

Thus, many Christians find themselves in a bit of a bind when faced with such a “threat” as the one this movie offers specifically and Atheism offers generally. Because of this lack of intellectual muscle, Christians find they only have two choices:

1. Admit they don’t have any real reason for believing what they do and embrace as truth the argument they cannot defeat.
2. Protest.

The only other option for the Christian is to just sit there and take the verbal ridicule from their assailant. While I would suggest this is the most Christ-like of the three, it does get quite wearisome after a while and puts the believer in a mindset of not wanting to engage at all. They would just rather be left alone. A “If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you; you live your life and I’ll live mine and we’ll both be fine” type of approach. This is a dangerous position to take as a believer. We have lived in our own ‘Christian subculture’ for too long and it is now coming back to bite us in the seat cushion. If we will not engage our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ then the cultural tide of godlessness will continue to roll in as a flood and drown the spiritually weak among us.

So what are we to do with this new movie coming out? Well my personal preference would be to go see it. I always enjoy getting new insight in how the modern world is thinking. However, given the strength of intellectual state of many in the church today, my advice to the masses would be this: if your faith is not strong enough to withstand such a thing STRENGTHEN IT!!

Blessings to all,


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Made In His Image

In case you are not familiar with me and my family, I have a four year old Daughter with Autism. I was asked a few questions from a new friend about my struggle with this situation this week and I thought I would share them with you.

The question was asked what have I learned the most about God in this situation.
The following is my response:

More than anything else, I think God has challenged me on what it means to be made in His image. It began when my wife asked me to consider praying Scripture over our daughter for her healing. Typically I do not do this. I feel as though when people do something like this they are in desperate situations and, in an effort to "strong arm" God, are claiming a promise of God that was not made to them. They want the promise of someone else for themselves. This has the devastating potential of setting you up for a major disappointment and disillusionment. It was a risk I did not want to take.

However, after some prayer I felt a peace about doing this. So I began to do a word search on the topic of concern. Namely, that our daughter cannot talk. So I decided to look up scriptures for things like speech, lips, mouth, tongue, voice, etc.

The first one I came to was Exodus 4:10-12. Moses is speaking with God at the burning bush. God is asking Moses to go to Pharaoh. Moses in turn gives God a litany of things that disqualify him for the task (something that I relate to concerning my calling as well). One of things was his difficulty in speech. Moses tells God "I can't speak well. I can't do what you are asking."

You know I always remembered this story with God getting angry and fed-up with Moses and saying, "Well fine then, I'll send Aaron with you and he can speak for you!!!" You know what, He does not do that yet. Instead He says something to Moses I was not prepared to hear.

God says,"Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

When I read this the Spirit hit me in the chest like a tun of bricks. God was telling me that our daughters Autism was not the result of a genetic defect. It was not because something went wrong in the womb or in her delivery. On the contrary, it was God's intention that she be like this. God reminder me that He molded and fashioned her with his own hand; that she was just as fearfully and wonderfully made as any other child. To God, She was a Psalm 139 child. She was fashioned by the hand of God Himself. Created with divine design, meaning and purpose, with the same fear and wonder as anyone else.

God also showed me that He heard my prayer and I needed to go in peace and leave Him alone about Delaney's healing. He Himself was going to help her speak and teach her what to say.

Well that was when I realized that God had made her just the way that she was. If I was not accepting of that then I was telling God that He made a mistake with my daughter and I did not approve of or like His creation. How could I say that to God?

After that 'talk' between me and God I was challenged to rethink what it means to be Made in His Image.

Strong Enough To Be Honest

There has been some issue being raised about the private letters of Mother Teressa. In them she expresses doubt and disillusionment with God. She openly struggles with what God is doing and whether He is even there in the first place.

Of course this has brought out many in the atheist community to pooh-pooh on her faith with the "see we told you so" babble.

You know what though, I have to admit, if I had no faith, I would probably form similar opinions about the "Saint of Calcutta" concerning this matter. However, after closer examination I realize that even the giants of our faith, the patriarch's, especially David, wrestled with doubt and confusion concerning the where-a-bouts of God, what He was doing and how long was He going to allow injustice to continue. If you take an honest look at Mother Teressa's life hers is one of similar struggle. She went to the poorest place on the face of the Earth and let the light of love shine in the darkness. She did so in the name of Jesus; to bring the Kingdom to Earth to those who would otherwise never experience it. I would dare say that, were it not for Mother Teressa, those people would still be waiting!

I can only presume the source of such a crisis of faith, but if I were to venture a guess I would be willing to bet that Mother Teressa was looking at the whole of her ministry to the poor, diseased and rejected and was wondering what it all was for. What difference was she making? After all this time, Calcutta is still arguably one of the worst places on Earth. She buries the dead every day. People still go hungry. They are still sick and diseased. All she could do was love them through this hell and she was doubting her impact. She was angry with the conditions there and the hopelessness of the people who are its residents. When you reach the end of your life you want to know that what you have done has made a difference.

I would be willing to bet Mother Teressa was examining the scope of her life and work and began to wonder why God has not done more to change the people and conditions of Calcutta. It all seems quite natural to me. It also makes such a person 'human'. The life of mother Teressa was so transcendent from the world in which she lived that we looked at her as someone who was almost superhuman. In fact, she asked the same questions most of us have asked and felt the things we have felt about God's sovereignty... which makes her one of us (to the great relief of the atheist I might add).

This reminds me of John the Baptist. Jesus called him the greatest of all the prophets. He ushered in the readiness of the coming Messiah, preached with boldness and spoke out against the religious hypocrisy of his day. He was a giant of faith full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet we read that once he was imprisoned he begins to wrestle. He doubts. He questions. He sent his disciples out to ask Jesus if he was the Christ written about in Scripture or should he expect another. Jesus has to encourage John with the truth of the Scripture that showed he was indeed the Christ; that John's work had not been in vain; that the work John had prepared for his whole life was not for nothing, but rather, that it had fulfilled the purpose of God. Mother Teressa needed the same encouragement.

Like Mother Teressa, John's crisis was not the result of a lack of faith, but rather, the result of a faith strong enough to be honest.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Maintaining Perspective

I had the privilege of preaching at a church that is in transition. At the moment, they are looking for a new pastor. I was pleased with the opportunity as I feel called to be a pastor and preaching/ teaching is going to be a major role for me in ministry. However, I have found I am dealing with an inner tension. Let me explain...

I have a gift of singing and leading worship. As humbly as I can say this I am continually affirmed in this gift. It took some time but I am at a place where I am in complete freedom when I lead worship through song. I am not worried about what people may say or think. It does not matter to me that there are 1200 people I am singing in front of on Sunday morning, in my heart I am only singing to One...God himself. I do so with passion, confidence and freedom. This is only because I know I am lost in my worship of the one true God. It is Him I am singing to and no one else.

The tension I am feeling lies in my preaching. I want to begin by saying that I do enjoy preaching. I love exegeting the Word of God and explaining it to people. I enjoy challenging them to take seriously their claim to Christ and live what they profess...You get the idea.

However, I am noticing something about preaching that is different than singing. When I preach I know that I am not preaching to God like when I sing. Preaching is to people. It is to challenge people. It is in front of people. People judge whether or not I did a good or bad job.

As a result I find myself less free when I preach. I am wondering how my delivery is coming off and being received. Am I capturing the attention of the congregation? Are they engaging in the message? Are they being challenged, encouraged and/or edified? In short are they getting anything out of what I am saying or am I just waisting their time?

These are honest questions and feelings that I hope come with the newness of preaching. I hope they will go away as my confidence builds in my preaching gift in the same way it has with my singing gift.

I do not know what I am even asking for really. Just looking for some encouragement to help me in Maintaining Perspective.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Are They Christian?

In a previous post labeled "The One True Church", someone wrote a comment that I would like you to read. In it he asked a very good question. The context was discussing who is the one true church. His question was about heresy. "The bible says if we "confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead" we are saved. But is there a quantifiable limit on what sort of heresy we can stack on that foundation without undermining it?...What minimum amount of orthodoxy is required for salvation and membership in the True Church?"

I have found this question difficult to answer. Does your theology have to be 100% correct to be saved or can you have some "misunderstandings" or "wrong ideas" about certain things and still be saved? If so, where is the line drawn for such things?

I ask this because I just read an article in the paper with the same title as this blog asking whether Mormons are Christian. The issue seems to be surfacing again as a result of Mitt Romney's run for the presidency.

So I pose to you this same question my friend posed to me.

Are They Christian?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Can We Limbo? Part II

I don't know why, but the subject of limbo came up while I was at work recently. I was sharing with a co-worker the thoughts I posted on a previous blog when I realized that I was making a very BIG assumption.

I based my thoughts on the assumption that we are not conscience of anything, especially God, His calling, or existence, while we are young or still in the womb and therefore were not capable of responding to God at all. I assumed that possibility did not exist because I personally cannot remember my life in the womb or before I was 5 or 6 years old, nor do I know any one who can.

With this possibility in mind I am unable to say with too much confidence what happens when children die at a young age because I do not know what God is doing in the life of that child, nor do I know how that child is responding to God during the developmental process.

If it is possible to respond to God during this stage in life, then there is no need for a post-death/pre-judgement presentation of the gospel. God would be able to judge justly from the time of conception based upon our response to Him.
Of course, it would also mean that not every child automatically goes to heaven and the theological premise behind an "Age of Accountability" can no longer be supported. Thus, some children would go to Heaven and others would not. I know that makes us very uncomfortable. But if a response to God is possible at every stage in life then no one has an excuse; no matter what length of time they have been in existence.
But hey, cheer-up!! There is always the theology of "Election" to fall back on...if that would help make you feel better.

Again, just some thoughts from a fallible mind trying to understand the inner-workings of an infallible God.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Free At Last!!!

You may remember in a previous post I had asked you to please pray for the South Korean hostages who were Christians and were in Afghanistan doing relief work. They were captured by the Taliban and were being used as leverage for negotiations.

Well today the last of them have been freed!! I thank God for working out His will in this way. While I do not know what had to be paid or agreed to in order for them to be released they are finally Free At Last!!
What a wonderful picture of redemption. We too were being held for ransom by our adversary the Devil. We were only released once the debt of sin was paid in full. Now because Jesus our Messiah has paid our debt we now have life in Him!!
Thank you God for the release of your people out of the hands of their enemies. May it remind us that we too have been freed from our enemy. May we praise you for it by living a life worthy of the Name by which we are called!!

Monday, August 27, 2007


My heart is aching tonight as I type this blog. I was out of town for a few days and came home to read the news papers from the weekend. In Saturday's paper was a story on the plight of pastors; high profile pastors in particular.

It seems that Juanita Bynum and her estranged husband, Thomas Weeks III, of Global Destiny Church, had an altercation in a hotel parking lot. According to Bynum's account, Weeks allegedly, "knocked her down...and then kicked and stomped her until a hotel employee came to her rescue."

Also, on the same day, pastors Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church, have announced to their congregation that they are getting a divorce. It is reported that this divorce is amicable and comes after years of counseling.

I am sensitive to this issue because I am a PK (no not a Promise Keeper, I mean Preachers Kid). My parents divorced when I was in the 5th grade. I also know a good handful of pastors who have meet a similar fate or are struggling to same their marriage as I write this.

Sometimes I get the feeling that those who enter into full-time ministry as an occupation are automatically fitted with a bulls-eye attached to their marriage and family. I think this is especially true if you are "successful" in the ministry God has called you to. I am troubled by this since I am seeking to enter into the pastoral ministry myself and am currently working on my masters degree. I wonder what awaits me and my family as we go forward into the ministry God has called us to. Still it is a huge wake-up call for me to be vigilant in putting my family ahead of my "ministry".

Which, I suppose, leads me to the point of this blog entry. Let me ask you a question. Do you faithfully pray for your pastor? Is his family someone you can lift up to God in intercession for God's favor and protection? If not, will you take a minute to do so. A small investment in prayer for your pastor could save your church a lot of heartache. It could also help it thrive!!

Please, remember your pastor.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pursuing Truth

Over the course of several years, and more frequently over the last several months, I have been in conversation with someone about God, religion, the bible and the person of Jesus Christ. He is a skeptic but acknowledges the existence of God and absolute truth. He is struggling to find the answers to his questions. Since some of his questions do not have any answers it has been difficult for him to embrace Christianity at this time.

I have been so wonderfully challenged by his questions as they force me to articulate the 'why' behind the 'what' of my beliefs (something I wish I could do more often in life). Still, there is something about his approach that I think is greatly hindering his discovery of truth. I am under the impression that he approaches his search for truth as someone who is not looking for reasons to believe in Jesus, Christianity, the bible, etc. but rather is looking for reasons not to believe. I sense that this approach is a real stumbling block for him. It appears to me that he won't come to belief until he runs out of reasons not to, things to question and objections to make. As long as he has a reason not to believe he won't. As long as there is an answer he can't find he will always question or raise an objection.

This is a concern for me because there will always be a reason to doubt when you are looking for one. There is never an irrefutable, undeniable, 'smoking gun' when it comes to the existence of God, the claims of Christ/ the bible and the like with an approach to truth like this one. There are some things that need to be taken in faith; something that is very difficult to do for a skeptic I admit. However, if you ignore the mountain of evidence calling you to believe and focus only on the pebble of reasons not to, I think you are cheating yourself out of discovering what truth really is.

The neat thing about being a Christ follower is that, once you come to a place of faith in Him, the discovery and understanding of truth is only just beginning of our search, not the end. There is so much more to learn and understand after a decision to believe has been made. So for me, the best approach to embracing truth is to find the reasons to believe in something. Examine the existing evidence and determine from the evidence we have before us if is it believable. Sure there are questions we would like answers to. But for now is the evidence we have enough for us to reasonably put our faith in? If not, then keep looking for more reasons to believe, but do not rob yourself of belief by looking for the reasons not to.

Just something to think about if you are someone who is pursuing truth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What is in a name?

There is a outgoing Roman Catholic bishop in Norway who is asking all people (Christians, Jews and Muslims) to call God Allah.
He states, "Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem."
His reasoning is that since Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God we should all call Him Allah.

Well, excuse me for saying this, I mean no disrespect to the Bishop but... if God did not care what we called Him then he would not have given us His Name in the first place!!!!

We do not worship the same God in the least bit. Allah and Yahweh are two different "dieties" all together. Therefore, we can not link them together. One is the true God and the other the "god" of Muslims, but they are not the same. I welcome anyone to prove to me otherwise.

Perhaps in your search you will discover what is in a name.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Persecuted Church

I do not know why, but the 21 surviving South Korean hostages have been on my mind lately. it is my understanding that these people are Christians working in the country of Afghanistan to provide medical aid and relief. They have been captured by the Taliban and are being held for ransom.

I was reading an article earlier last week that interviewed the families of these captives. I was challenged by their main concern for their family members. it was that even in their captivity they may reflect the love of Christ to their captors.

May we all have that kind of love for our enemies. May we all remember them in our prayers of intercession...

The Persecuted Church.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The One True Church

The pope recently reaffirmed the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church. He said that all other churches that have formed from Martin Luther and later are not part of the true church. It was interesting to me to hear this from the pope. I know that this has always been the position of the Roman Catholic church, however, I was surprised to hear this statement since Protestants and catholics have been trying to bridge the gap that has been between them in recent years. This seems to be a step backwards in uniting the church as the "one body many parts" that it is.

I wonder where they get this idea biblically? If you are Catholic or understand this line of thinking and where it comes from would you let me know by posting a comment? I know I am a protestant but I will try not to let that get in the way of my thinking biblically about this issue of discussing who is the church. I know I am probably preaching to the choir on this one but, as I look at the scriptures, it seems to me what is taught is that anyone who repents and believes in Jesus as Messiah and lives for Him is a part if His body. Thus the church is made up of its individual parts that form a collective whole (the body of Christ) rather than a singular denomination.

It would be nice if we could keep all this in the forefront of our minds as we proclaim the gospel (even as Protestants. We can get pretty 'high and mighty' somestimes as well). It would be good for us to cheer each other on (denominationally speaking) as we bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, proclaim the gospel and make disciples of Jesus Christ. I mean if it is about winning souls, then shouldn't we be excited no matter which denomination is making disciples? This is what the church is supposed to be all about.

This is the picture of the one true church.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Delaney's Hope

To those who may not know, the picture above is that of my beautiful daughter. She has Autism and has many struggles. I have put together a website for her. I am asking everyone to please visit it and check it out. She is in need of some help and the website tells her story and what her needs are.

If you find it acceptable, would you pass her website on to everyone you know? She needs all the help she can get.

Deepest thanks!!

To watch a message from Delaney please got to:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Keep Your Pants Up or It Can Cost You $25G/ Month

Rapper 50cent has a child with a woman named Shaniqua Tomkins. They are no longer together and he pays child support. However Ms. Tomkins is taking him back to court because she does not think the $25 grand per month is not enough money for her to support their son.

Now I'm sorry, but if your cannot take care of your child for $25 g's a month then you need a lesson in money management. Does anyone know Dave Ramsey's phone number? here's some quick math:
  1. $25g/ month = $300,000/ yr
  2. $300,000 x 18 yrs. = $5.4 million

The only reason she wants more cash is because 50 cent is worth millions. I think this woman needs a wake-up call as to the reality of the amount of child support most moms in this country get. I know for a fact there are thousands of mothers who would love to get $25 g's per year let alone every month.

Wake-up sweetheart!!! You are making out just fine! The money is not for you anyway, it is for your son.

Men, the moral of the story is this: Keep Your Pants Up or It Can Cost You $25G/ Month!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Can We Limbo?

I was reading the other week in the paper an article about limbo. This is a theological issue that deals with the eternal state of children, babies and the unborn who die; namely, do they go to Heaven or Hell or somewhere in between? Basically, the article says the the official Roman Catholic position is that there is no official position. It also touched on a more evangelical approach which deals with an age of accountability. This idea says that children under a certain age (when they still do not know right from wrong) should they die automatically go to Heaven.

This is something that is difficult to answer to be sure. However, I would like to take a stab at it. I want to throw out some thoughts that will challenge you and may in fact invoke an array of emotion. So brace yourself. You are in for an bumpy ride emotionally and intellectually.

The main thing I want to do when answering this emotionally charged question is examine what we all already believe about how we Get to Heaven; namely salvation. We are only saved one believing in Jesus the Messiah. Only those who believe are saved. We all know this. We all believe this.

However, how does this apply to the death of young children and the unborn? May I suggest it applies the same to them as it does to everyone else. Here is my reasoning.

I believe Scripture teaches that:
1. Life begins at conception
2. At conception we posses a fallen, depraved nature that is hostile and rebellious towards God
3. Because of 1 & 2 we are guilty of sin and in need of salvation
4. Those who die without believing in Jesus the Messiah are not saved

Conclusion: Young children, babies and the unborn who do not believe in Jesus go to hell

Can I just tell you that the conclusion I draw from the truth about what Scripture teaches about salvation really bothers me. It is very unsettling for I am sure it is for you. Let me be honest with you as to why this is so troubling for me and see if you do not feel the same way.

1. Children, Babies and the unborn are seen as innocent in our eyes
2. Because of 1. God must feel they same way about them as we do
3. Because of 1 & 2 He would extend the grace required to grant these little ones salvation without believing in Jesus.

Weigh the first four statement against the last three. Which ones carry the most Biblical support? Why is it hard to believe 1-4 when it comes to children? I believe it is because we think it is unjust for God to send little ones to hell when they have not had the chance to believe. While I have wrestled with this thought deeply, I have concluded it is not unjust for a holy and merciful God to send sinners to hell no matter what their age.

Still, this is very unsettling isn't it? There still seems like there is something not right about it.
While the justice of God might call us to concede the fate of children who die young, the mercy of God seems left undemonstrated. This is a good question. Where is the mercy of God in such a situation? May I introduce a radical thought? While it is more biblically implicit than explicit I would like to suggest that somehow there is a way the Gospel is preached to them and choice is granted even though they have died.

God has called us to choose. Biblically, I think he has called everyone to choose. How many times has God called us to 'Choose this day whom we will serve', and , 'I set before you blessing and cursing...Choose life that you might live'...etc. If people have never heard the Gospel how can they choose? So I ask this question: "Does death relieve us of our obligation to choose?" Now if you are in the camp that says 'not choosing is a choice' then I refer you to 1-4 and you have your answer regarding the eternal destiny of children. Otherwise, I have to wonder if God does not somehow give children the opportunity to hear the gospel, make a choice and, based on that choice, determine their eternal state. After thinking about it long and hard, this is the only way I see both the Justice and Mercy of God working together in this situation. This is just a thought mind you. I would never say it is biblically certain. Just a finite mind wrestling with a difficult question.

Think it over and work through the emotion of what you think about this issue. Then send me a comment and lets discuss. I am eager to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are You Serious?!?!?!?

OK, so what I am about to tell you is real. I know because I read this on the web page of a national television news channel. (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

Apparently someone from the Air Force asked for $7.5 million to develop a "Love Bomb"

The article read as follows:

"The Air Force on Tuesday confirmed a report that in 1994 a military researcher requested $7.5 million to develop a non-lethal "love bomb" that would chemically alter the state of mind of enemy troops and make them want to have sex with each other rather than fight.

The idea was proposed by an Air Force researcher at a lab at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, but it was rejected by the Defense Department.

As part of the military's goal of developing non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior.

The proposal also offered other ideas, such as a "sex attractant" chemical that would make "annoying and injurious creatures" like stinging bugs more aggressive and draw them to the enemy's position. Another chemical would leave such a strong stench, the enemy would be detectable for weeks.

A Defense Department spokesman said that he was not aware of any "love bomb" proposal but called the idea one of the most ridiculous things he'd heard."

Yea, it's ridiculous alright. I mean this sort of thing gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "getting caught with your pants down." Having been in the military myself let me tell you that if a "Love Bomb" got dropped on our enemies believe me they are not going to sit by and commit sodomy in an uncontrollable fit of lust while we attack them. Can you imagine the scene as our troops approach? I want to elaborate I really, really do but I think your imagination can picture it well enough.

Besides what are the implications of such a bomb? If we can develop a chemical that will force otherwise heterosexual males engage in homosexual acts...would there not be a way to reverse that and make otherwise homosexual people "not be gay"? I mean...that would be an evangelicals dream!! (Again with the sarcasm. Sorry about that... kind of)

I can only imagine the controversy that would ensue as a result of such a development. A "Love Bomb"? Who comes up with this stuff?

Are You Serious?!?!?!?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Am Excited

I just got back from the National Conference my church denomination held in OH. I went for one reason; a reason I want to share with you, but first some background.

I am called to be in pastoral ministry. I have a heart for the church and get juiced-up when I see people growing another step closer to the Almighty God. I have been wrestling with this for some time. The denomination I grew up in has offered me no life. I was made to celebrate God in a way that was different from our traditions. So when God called me to ministry I had a hard time agreeing with Him because, at the time, I only had one model of "doing church" in my mind, the way of my denomination. I knew God made me different and I could not see how who he made me to be was going to fit into what he was calling me to do. Thankfully, during my college years, I was able to experience different churches outside my denomination. I found many who worshiped God in ways that fit my God-given design. They were doing ministry the way I would want to do it if I were a pastor. So after a close evaluation of my gifts, passions and design, I am now getting my masters at the Huntington University Graduate School and am going into the ministry.

Now, what led me to go to my denominations National Conference was a nagging feeling God placed in me to pray about becoming a pastor in my denomination. I began to talk with other pastors about the state of our denomination (which is in very bad shape) and discuss the changes the leadership of our denomination were making (which are very, very good). Long story short, I felt that going to the National Conference would give me a good feel for where the denomination was going and could help me discern the ministry direction I was to do in.

Well, it did. As I told a friend of mine at the conference... "I knew coming here would give me a good feel for where the denomination was going. What I didn't know was that I would like it!!" In all honesty I was fully expecting to go to this conference and say, "Yea, that's what I thought" and then go on my way. Instead, I found myself blown away by what I saw and heard throughout the whole weekend. The whole conference was a blast of fresh air in a church that was always so stiff. I can truly say being refreshed was not what I expected but that is what I got.

So I am going forward with getting licensed with-in my denomination. I am glad to see the changes that are being made to help produce life and impact for the kingdom. I pray God will prepare the way for me and use me as an agent of change to bring life back into His people and His church.
SO...what is God getting you excited about?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Risking It

A friend of mine has been going through a rough time lately. He does not have a lot of money. He grew up in one the most dysfunctional homes I have seen in a long time. His wife has just left him and took their children to live with her family. They are now separated.

This has caused him to search for help in his life. As a co-worker of his I have tried to be a good witness to him throughout my time there. He has heard me talk with other co-workers about God and has even asked me a few questions himself. My approach is more laid back when I share Christ with people. I do not water down my witness what so ever, but I also never take it to the next step and ask them to believe in Jesus. I guess I am expecting that if God wants to stir their hearts to come to Him then they will say to me, "Hey Matt, How do I have eternal life?" or something like that and therefore, I do not need to run the risk of what might be thought or said of me for making such a bold request of them.

This particular friend was someone with whom I did not go the extra step.

Now he is in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning (long story), had a slight stroke from the carbon monoxide and has West Nile Virus. In short he almost died right at a time when he began asking (in light of his current circumstances) about how to renew his religious interests. He is doing better but I cannot help but think of his eternal state had God not intervened and spared his life.

What is it that holds me back so much? What am I afraid of? What would happen if I went to the next step and called those who hear me speak the name of Jesus to repentance and belief in Him? Would those fears/ excuses have been a good enough reason for me not asking him to believe if my friend had died? Would they be good enough for you? I hope not!! I hope there is something as unsettling about that thought in you as their is in me.

So, I am writing to challenge us all...if we are followers of Jesus Christ, let us not only speak his name with boldness but also have the courage to call others to his saving grace! Who knows...God may give eternal live to someone you know and love.
And isn't that worth Risking It?

Question: What holds you back and why? Let me know by posting a comment. May everyone who read it pray for you as you boldly and courageously share Jesus Christ in your world.

Friday, May 18, 2007

About Leaving A Comment

Because some of you have wanted to leave a comment but did not want to have to create a user name & password I have good news for you...You Don't Have To!!!

Just click on "other" or "anonymous" and you do not need a password or all that other stuff.

So go ahead...Trash my point of view...I can take it.

My feelings will only be hurt if I care about what you think anyway. ;)

Seriously though, I hope this helps.

Be looking for more posts soon since school work is starting to slow down a bit.
More to come soon!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Free hugs

If you have not seen this yet check it out.
It goes along well with my 'The Power of a Hug' Post.

Read the post first then watch this.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Idol Gives Jack

I was watching American Idol the other night (come on you watch it, admit it. It's OK you are safe here. No one will judge you). Anyway, they had been hyping up this whole "Idol Gives Back" campaign where American Idol was going to give money to an African charity and other worthy causes. It was going to be huge. The night of the show came and I watched as always. What struck me was how quickly I realized that this was not going to be what I thought. I was expecting to see how American Idol was going to sacrificially give of itself to help people in Africa and other parts of the world. What this whole thing ended up being was a fundraiser for the causes A.I. wanted us to support. We were told to call in with our pledges and give generously. They brought in all the big stars and put on a very nice production. Yet, it was no at all what I expected.

All this got me thinking about charity; what it is and what it is not. When someone says to you "Hey, I think this is a good cause" and then asks you to give money to it are they really being charitable? I don't know, maybe it is just me but I do not think this is what Jesus had in mind for us when we exercise charity. A couple of things come to mind about Christ's teachings:

1. Give in secret - our giving should be so secretive that we are not even to tell our right hand what the left one is giving.
2. Don't brag - when we do give we are not to do it in a way that is showing off to impress others. Jesus said that with that kind of giving the praise of man will be our only reward. In other words it has no eternal value in God's economy.
3. Give sacrificially - he praised the widow for giving all that she had (1/2 penny) and criticized the Pharasees for giving out of their wealth (bag of gold). In other words, give your best not your leftovers. When I heard Ellen Degeneres say that she was giving $100,000 and challenged other wealthy friends of hers to match her pledge I remember thinking, "You know, Ellen giving $100grand is like me reaching in my pocket and pulling out a ten spot." Seriously, to her that is not a sacrifice, that is leftovers.

Don't get me wrong. I am glad that all the money they raised is going to help needy people. All I am trying to say is think about it the next time you give for the sake of charity. Do it God's way and make it count for more than this life...invest it in the next.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Religion good for kids?

I just read an article on FoxNews website that a study has been done to show that children that come from a religious based home are better behaved and adjusted than children where religion is not practiced or where religion is a source of conflict in the family.

"A Mississippi State University sociologist and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 kids, most of them first-graders, to rate how much self control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior and how well they respected and worked with their peers" the article stated.

It went on to say, "The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services — especially when both parents did so frequently — and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents. But when parents argued frequently about religion, the children were more likely to have problems. 'Religion can hurt if faith is a source of conflict or tension in the family,' [the sociologist] noted."

The reasons for this were believed to be three fold:
1. religious networks are a social support for parents
2. they provide good values and norms
3. they imbue (inspire or influence thoroughly) parenting with sacred meaning and significance

Well what do you growing up in a home of moral absoluteness, loving families that are supported by a loving community and where God is the head are actually doing better than those without it...who whould have thunk it?

Maybe we can start to wake up and see that God's headship, boundaries and support system are in place to help us live an abundant life. Moral Absolutes (boundaries) are to be passed on to our children as God has first given them to us. They provide a standard that is acceptable to Him and good for mankind. Kids need to know what those things are. Without them there is no higher reason for doing something or not doing something than selfish gain. Now keep in mind that obedience to this moral code does not equal a problem free life. However, given the whole, I would take the problems that come from living according to God's principles (and the support system that is found in doing that) rather than those that come from rebelling against them.

It seems arrogant to me to think that we are smarter than God or could produce life out of things that He says bring death.

What is the problem with the morals God wants us to live by any way? Is there really a better way than the one God has laid out for us?

Seriously, someone help me understand that line of thinking. Post a comment and let me know if you think God does not know what he is talking about and why. I've got to get inside your head.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Power of a Hug

I have two children, a boy (5) and a girl (4). My son is very tender hearted and friendly. He loves to play with friends and always seems to get along well with all manner of personality types. My daughter is very different from her brother. She has Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a result she has a difficult time socially. She can not talk yet and has meltdowns regularly. She does have her shining moments though. For example, one thing she did with delight was give her brother a hug and a kiss goodnight. This also pleased her brother as his primary love languages are words and touch. Since his sister cannot talk he knows this is the only way she can tell him that she loves him.

Well, a couple of months ago his sister started to go into a bit of regression. She stopped enjoying the bedtime routine and began to fight giving her brother hugs and kisses. We would bring her over to her brother for hugs and kisses and she would pitch a huge fit; kicking, screaming and fighting every minute of it. This went on up until a week ago. It began to take its toll on my son. I did not notice it before but I was about to find out. On this particular night something was going to happen that would impact my son, I would dare say, for the rest of his life. God was also going to teach me an awesome lesson on the power of unconditional love.

This particular night my son said to me, "Dad, I don't think Delaney loves me any more because every time I try to give her a kiss and a hug she always kicks me and pushes me away."

I tried to reassure and comfort him by letting him know that Delaney loved him and even though she did not seem to like being hugged and kissed it was important that we continued to demonstrate to her that we loved her no matter what. So I asked him to come and try and give her hugs and kisses. I was sitting on the floor with Delaney on my lap and as Aidan got close she started fighting and whining. I told Aidan to keep coming and held on to his sister while he put his arms around her and kissed her goodnight.

He sat back and just looked at her feeling utterly rejected and unwanted. It was evidenced by the look on his face. He was hurt deeply. This rejection by his sister confirmed his feeling unloved and unwanted by her. Then something amazing happened. Delaney started fighting for me to let go of her arms, so I did. When I did she leaned over to her brother, stretched out both her arms and wrapped them around him. He began to do the same and gave her a quick pat thinking she was going to tear away from him any second. But instead she held on. She continued to do so for several long seconds. Aidan began to pull back thinking she was done but instead she tightened her grip. Then, realizing she was not going to let him go, Aidan began to squeeze his sister in a big, long over due hug.

I sat there stunned as Delaney held on to her brother. I knew this was a moment that was going to impact my son. I watched his face warm up and his countenance change from feeling rejection to feeling that he was loved and accepted. Finally they let go of each other.

"See Aidan" I said, "Delaney does love you."

Those words sank in fast and began to completely overwhelm my son. He just sat there crying for ten minutes saying, "Laney loves me! She really loves me!" Again and again he would say it crying as loud as I have ever heard him.

"I am so happy that Laney loves me Daddy but why am I crying?" he asked.

I scooped him up and carried him off to bed. I told him that sometimes when our heart is full of happiness it spills out in tears. I let him know that his sister hugging him was a good thing to cry and be happy about. So he cried. He cried for a long time...and I just held him.

So many things went through my mind. I knew this was a life shaping moment for him. I wanted to say something that would help shape his life for the good. I wanted to tell him he was crying because at the core of our being we all want to be loved like that. I wanted to tell him that when we love someone from the deep places of our heart and soul we want to know we are loved in return from those same places. But I did not know how to say those things in a way that a five year old could understand them. "God help me!!" I prayed. "How do I say this to my son in a way he will understand it?"

Then I realized...Delaney's hug already did.

Friday, April 13, 2007

About Imus

You know a lot has been said about Imus' comments regarding Rutgers womens basketball team. I find this rather ironic given how we all behave towards one another. Our culture is one who thrives on put-downs and even foams at the mouth when we hear one person insulting another. It seems to be the way we get our laughs. We pacify our poor self-image by viewing others in a worse light than we see ourselves. We celebrate our ability to put others down in order to delude ourselves into thinking that we are better than the object of our ridicule. What is interesting to me is how we have justified this kind of behavior by hiding it behind the 1st ammendment...that is until now. Now, all of a sudden no one likes what Imus has said [myself included] and we want to hang him from the gallows.

Look America. We need to make up our minds. If we are going to allow freedom in expressing our opinions then we need to allow it. We don't have to like it. we don't have to support it or those who do. Otherwise let us come up with a universal standard that is acceptable.

But to say this speech is wrong for you to say but ok for me to say is hypocritical on our part.

Let us remember the words of the apostle James who said: "The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

Therefore my friends, be mindful of your words. Be intentional about what you say. Use your words to make the listener a better person and not to comfort yourself or make yourself rich; you just may end up making yourself out to be a fool.


Welcome to Sojourners Rd.

Here you will find thoughts, questions and comments posted by yours truly.
I expect feedback and I would like this to be as interactive as possible.
I am wanting to get to know you more than you hearing about me all the time.
This is site is dedicated to those who understand that this earth is not our home and want to seek and discuss how we are to live in the light of Christ while in this temporary place.
Thus, there will be both a spiritual and cultural theme addressed here.

All are welcome to walk this road with me.

I love good company.

Untill He comes or calls,