The subject of the blog was requested to me, and it is about what it means to be man, and importance of men being men. The topic of men has been one that I have given some thought and apparently many other people have been discussing this issue as well. There groups that have come up in recent years such as the Men's rights activists groups or MRAs as they are called for short, but then there is a new group of men called Men going their own way. The MRAs are men that wanting address concerns about men, such the high level of men's suicide, and the amount of job related deaths that made up by men. The MGTOWs are a group of men that no longer wish to pursue relationships with women that lead to marriage and a family. Some of these men have stopped dating altogether, while others will date, but will not commit. If we add the increasing idea that gender is not important and that there are no differences between men and women (an idea that is while increasing in popularity is being discredited scientifically) then it is easy to see that men in this day and age can have a hard time understanding what it means to be a man. Another major factor in this is the increasing number of men who have grown up with fathers. I want to note that many of these problems can be seen in women too. It seems like American culture is suffering from gender confusion all of the map, however since talking about men was specifically requested I'll address it here. From a biblical worldview it is important for us to understand that our initial concepts of what a man is will not be quite right due to the fall. This where the Holy Spirit and scripture come in to guide us in our understanding of the man that pleases God. There are several examples of men in the scriptures, however I want to point out 1 in discussing what I view as a good starting point for defining Biblical manhood, and the man is Jesus. As our Lord and savior it should be no surprise that I would to Jesus as an example of what a godly man would look like. It's important at this point that we discard the old fashioned Sunday school version of Jesus however and get to the Jesus presented in the Bible. The Jesus that I taught seemed to be a bit of wimp. One can often see Jesus holding lambs, or holding a child and while these pictures of Jesus give us all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings on the inside, they presenting an incomplete picture of who Jesus is. First what we have to understand about Jesus is that he was a leader. He lead the disciples, but he was also able to draw a crowd. Jesus is our king, he is our Lord, he is our leader. In the same I believe all men should be leaders. They may not be called to be leaders at work, or in the church(although I do believe more men are called to these positions than respond), but men are called to be leaders in their families. It should be made clear that not all men are called to have a wife and children, but for the men that are called, they are called to lead that family. Not to boss them around or be a dictator, but to be a leader. Another aspect we see about Jesus is that he is a builder. Christ established and built the foundation of the church. He poured 3 years of his life into his disciples and most devoted followers and these people would go to not only establish, but advance the church from the time of his departure to even this day. So there is an aspect about men that they are builders, or creative. This doesn't have to mean building a building, but I think that it does mean building to society in a meaningful way. This includes, but is not limited to one's children, but there are many other ways that a man can be a builder and be creative. Raising their child is perhaps of most importance, however as I said earlier, not all men are called to have families, but I do believe in some form or fashion all men are called to be leaders and builders. The next quality of Jesus is that he was clear. While Jesus did speak in parables, when inquiring minds wanted to know Jesus was always clear about where he stood and what was right and what was wrong. This is something that I feel is vastly important for men to be today. How many times have read an article listened to a sermon, or heard a politician and at the end of it you still have no idea what the person thinks or believes. They talk a lot but say very little. This was not the case with Jesus. While there are those who try to claim that we cannot know what Jesus really meant I deny these claims. In allowing the text to speak for itself it becomes clear what Jesus said after proper hermeneutics. Jesus being clear also demonstrates that he was not a coward. Part of being a man is being brave. This does not mean that men do not experience fear, however this does not mean that they let fear stop them either. Jesus is the bravest man of them all. Knowing that he would face the full wrath of God, and yet boldly going to the cross like a lamb to the slaughter. In this day and age it is easy for men to be cowards. They can be cowards in not speaking up for what they believe, they can cowards in avoiding difficult circumstances, and there are many more examples of cowardice. I must admit I am guilty many times of being a coward, but the man of God must be bold just as Christ was. Jesus knew how to balance aggression and gentleness. I deny to concept that men are to always be passive men, and never show any aggression. In a fallen world where we can exposed to the worst kinds of evil it is important that men demonstrate their ability to be aggressive. It is only in being aggressive have men defended that which is most precious to them. It was aggressive men who fought to make America a nation. It was aggressive men that fought against the evil of the Nazis, and it Jesus was aggressive when it was appropriate. Jesus was not gentle when driving out the money changers in the temple. He was aggressive when dealing with stubbornness of the pharisees, however Jesus knew how to balance being both aggressive and gentle. When Peter goes to Jesus after the resurrection and asks for forgiveness after denying Christ 3 times, Jesus is not aggressive with Peter. Many Jesus was gentle with people who were earnestly seeking him. Shaming the prideful, and showing grace to the humble. A man needs to learn how to balance being aggressive which he is, and needs to be, and learning when he should be gentle as well. This is not something that one can learn over night, and I think it is something best learned by observing another man such as a father or another man in the church. This leads us to another aspect of Jesus which is he was social. Jesus went to wedding, spent time with his disciples, and talked with people. He was a social guy. I know for some men it is not easy to be social. I am the same way, however not only are commanded to gather together with other believers, but if we are to preach the gospel to the world then we must engage the world and this means being social. One of the last qualities of Jesus that I want to point out is that he was fully committed to the Father. Christians men must be fully committed to God. It was not only love for us that sent Jesus to the cross it was also to the glory of God the Father. For men we must cling to the cross and trust in the power of Christ to power us, to lead us and to enable us to be the men that God has called us to be. In doing this we must commit ourselves to God and put God first above everything else. Our culture, and the church are in desperate need for men. Women are such a vital part of the church, and the church would not exist without women, but the church can not exist without men either. It is only in following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ that we can be true men. Leading, building, speaking and believing in something that is bigger than we are, a truth that transcends us so that in what we do, we are serving the ultimate good of mankind. The only question left is, "Men, will you serve?"
A saw an article the other day titled, "Young Conservative and Atheist." The main point of the article from what a gathered although I must admit I really only gave it a glance, was that there was a bit of shock that someone can conservative and not be a Christian. This made me reflect upon how the American church is communicating with culture, and feel that sometimes we are prone to quote scripture as our argumentation at the expense of also making reasonable arguments. So when a Christian is asked, "Why do you think that?" The Christian just quotes scripture as their only reason. The problem with this, is that it gives an immediate out for anyone to ignore a Christian and what they think, because their opinion on this issue is based solely on the Bible. I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying. The Bible is our authority, it is true, and it is God inspired, however if it is true then Christians should be able to communicate the truth that is in scripture and the wisdom that is in scripture by more than just quoting biblical passages. If God's word is true, which I believe that it is, then we should be able to understand how the worldview that comes from the Bible is ultimately best for humanity, and just the belief of Christians, and we believe it only because the Bible says so. This is a claim that is often given to Christians, and while it is unfair, you only need to go to comment section of a video or an article and you will that person who posts 50 Bible verses to support their point, but nothing else. This along with other things leads people to believe that Christians are guilty of what is called blind faith. Now as I have said in other blogs, we do walk by faith, and not by sight, however this does not mean that we have blind faith. What blind faith is, is a faith that does not look at any evidence, it asks no questions, it does not examine anything and just keeps believing. This is not the faith that Christianity has. Christianity is based on faith that is supported by real histrionic evidence. It is a faith that has been well thought out and written on, it is also a faith that is real, because the God we serve is real. For example I can say that everyone in the world are sinners because the Bible tells me so, and yet I can also provide a vast amount of evidence to show that everyone in the world is sinner because at some point that have done something that they are shamed of, something that knew was wrong, and yet they did it anyway. As America becomes more of a secular culture, this does not mean that Christians can simply no longer talk with and must shout at culture from our churches quoting our Bibles, but we are able to engage in it, and show how the destructive aspects that celebrated in culture. There is evidence and reason to support the idea that having stable relationships are best not only for the individual, but also for society. It is important for Christians to communicate in a way that does not rely upon only quoting scripture, because there are those who wish to marginalize the church, and claim that while what Christians say may work for Christians, that does not mean that is will work for non-Christians. This just isn't the case. To be sure there are aspects of Christianity that only a Christian can appreciate. However when it comes to moral and social issues, Christians should understand that the ways of God are the ways of life not just for Christians, but for everyone, and thus we should be able to communicate with the culture in a way that reflects this understanding. Yes it is grounded in scripture, but it is communicated in way that even a secular person can understand where we coming from, without the cliche, "They just think because their Christian." What are your thoughts about this? Do you agree or disagree? Comment below and let me know, I'd love to hear from you.
Nowadays you don't have to be on the internet long before you read or see an article talking about how bad the God of the Bible is, or about a person who liked Christianity, until they read the Bible. To me this seems to be the biggest complaint against Christianity these days. People accuse God of being a megalomaniac, and psychopath, and just a big bully. This use to surprise and shock me. I would keep thinking, "How can these people hate God?" The answer is thy read the Bible. What is important to understand is that unbelievers living in America, do not express problems they have with Christians. It's true that you will hear the, "church is full of nothing but hypocrites" , but for the most part I think people have begun to realize that these people exist in all cultures and sub-cultures. No the big issue for most unbelievers today is they have a problem with Christians who take the Bible seriously, and hold to a traditional and I would argue accurate, interpretation of scripture. The important question for believers to ask is why? The answer I think lies in that fact that Christians believe scripture is the word of God, and thus by reading scripture you get a picture of who God is. Yes God is a person, in fact God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has thoughts and feelings on issues, God cares for His creation. The problem is that many unbelievers have found that they do not like the God of the Bible, and this leads them to say things like, "I don't like your God, he supports slavery" or "Your God is cruel, I don't think god has a problem with I'm doing, my god is all about love." I touched on this in blog post titled, "Build a god Workshop, however for this post I want to concentrate on the unbeliever's relationship with God, and I want to point out that people stating how much they hate God is actually a good thing. So to recap, people hate God when they read the Bible because the Bible shows who God is, it demonstrates the persons of God, and shows that God has thoughts and feelings about things. This paints a picture of God, and the problem is that many times people do not like the God that is presented in the Bible. Why is this a good thing? Well it's a good thing, because reassures us of the truth of scripture because scripture speaks about this very thing. Scripture tells us that those who are unbelievers hate God. Let's take the Pharisees, whom Jesus often called out. They encountered the God and they hated him, even to the point of plotting his death. They loved god, the problem is that the god they liked and worshiped and thought they saw in the scriptures, was not actually God. I am not saying that the Old Testament didn't teach about the true God, because Jesus makes it clear that it did, I'm saying that it was the unbelief of the Pharisees to reject this true when they encountered him. This is true for people today, and this further explains why people go to Hell. Hell is not only the justice of God, but it is also a compassion on God's part. Imagine these people who hate God, and then imagine that they had to be with this God for all eternity. If you ask them, they wouldn't want that, again because they hate God. That is what Hell is. It is total separation from God, and thus God is truly giving these people over to their desires and eternally removing them from his presences. This is both justice and a kindness, and it easier to see when unbelievers are so vocal in their hatred, as before when they proclaimed to love God, but hated the church, and thus were "turned off to Christianity" because Christians were mean to them. Some churches in an effort to grow their numbers have tried to cover up God, or not preach on these texts which are difficult, and so many unbelievers think they are believers, but when they come to a teaching or a passage they don't like they either seek to deny it, rewrite it, ignore it, or abandon the faith altogether. A good way of explaining what I mean is when John Piper was discussing what one needed to believe in order to be saved. He said that you don't have to believe in the Holy Spirit at first in order to be saved, but when you hear about the Holy Spirit a believer will accept as truth. Now am I saying that you have believe every doctrine in order to call yourself a Christian? No I am not. There some Lutherans wit whom I disagree about what God has done in baptism and the Lord's supper, and yet I do not doubt their belief in God, and I do not think they doubt mine, because we have unity on the doctrines the reflect the character and nature of God. I don't want to down the play the importance of the doctrines of baptism and the Lord's supper, but I want to state that while we disagree, we still understand the character of God as it is shown in scripture, and have unity on that. So what do believers do when see that people hate Christianity and hate the God of the Bible? Well we shouldn't be surprised because scripture tells us that they will. We shouldn't take it personally because scripture also makes it clear that it is not us whom they hate, but God. We should be excited. The gospel is for unbelievers just like it is for believers, and so we see all these unbelievers and see that the harvest is ready. We love them. I don't mean love in accepting their sinful behavior, but we do not disconnect from the word, or ignore, or bad mouth or swear at unbelievers. We are respectful of them, help them in need, and when they ask honest questions, we seek to answer them. We pray, at the end of it all it is going to take an act of God to change the hearts of those who hate him. That is why praying for the lost is so important. If you know an unbeliever you should be praying that God will save them. You can lead them to Christ, but only God can save them. This why we shouldn't worry if there are those who don't like church. If they don't like then they don't like, but this does not mean that we should change the way we do things in a way that offend God just to appease the one that already hates God. We keep preaching Christ and him crucified. This is tough because we know that there are those who are going to hate us because they really hate God, however there are those in the world that need to be lead to Christ and God has called his church to do. Yes we will face a lot of rejection, and yes we will be scorned by people in society, but this where getting a thick skin and a love for God becomes really important, because as believers we should be more concerned with how God sees us rather than how other people do. Finally we repent. We need to repent of thinking that we are superior to them because of faith in God, because just like only God can save them, only God could save you. If it had not been for the grace of God, you would hate God to, therefore we should not boast in anything except Jesus Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. What do you think? If you are a unbeliever, do you hate the God that is presented in the scriptures? Do you think that I am being unfair in what I've said here? Believers what has your expirence been with those who do not believe, and what do think the church should be doing? Comment below and let me know. and as always thanks for stopping by.
How we communicate is important. One of the reasons that I am against our nation redefining certain words is because if you redefine a word enough times the word itself loses all meaning. Words are the ways to express ideas and truth, and thus if we lose the meaning of words we lose the expression of ideas and truth. I believe communication or mis-communication is still the number one reason for divorce. I remember my father telling about a couple he knew where the husband's native language was German, he wife's native language was french and they spoke to each other in English. I remember him telling me about how he thought it was amazing how they communicated because he knew all the time in which even in his native language he could fully convey his thoughts. This is one of the reasons why I believe in the scriptures being inerrant and why I believe they are clear. If there is a God, I do believe that no only has communicated with his people, but has done so clearly. It's unfortunate however when people cannot hear what someone else is saying. This was brought to my attention when I read an article this weekend titled, "Who is abortion for?" The whole point of the article was that as there is a push in the culture to allow people to decided their gender it could be possible to have a biological woman who identifies as a man and thus you could have a man who would have an abortion. Now this article had some interesting thoughts in it, even to the point where the author sounds more like a right wing conservative rather than the liberal that she is, however what I found interesting was the reason she gave as to why people would be anti-abortion. Now I don't wish to turn this blog into a political forum, however let me that except in few instances I am against abortion, and should be against the law just as murder is against the law, excluding these few instances. The primary reason why I am against abortion is because I see the fetus as being a person and alive. I believe that life has intrinsic value given to us by God, and thus one person does not have the right to take another person's life. My primary reason for being against abortion is because it requires the termination of what I understand to be a human life. If there was a way for a woman to no experience the event of giving birth, and yet preserve the life of the child then I would be fine with that method. So you can imagine my surprise when the author of this article said that the main reason people are against abortion is due to the a desire to control the reproductive organs of women in the United States. Let me just say that the only reproductive organs I want to control are my own. But this brought up an interesting thought that I had not had before. Is this really what pro-abortion people think about anti-abortion people? Could that because of loud people on both sides of this issue, that many times we just end up talking over each other rather than discussing the true issue? Now I'm not as naive as I use to be, and I understand that there are people on both sides of the table who spread this kind of garbage to demonize the other side, however this seems to be a consistent pattern I have noticed if I may be so bold with people on the left. Another example of this is the refusal to see Islamic State having any kind of theological thinking in their attacks and targets. Now please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that ISIS represents the majority of Muslims, but one cannot deny that their reasoning is coming from a theological worldview, and not just a secular political agenda. It demonstrates the importance of engaging with opposing view points in a fair manner to see what it is they are really saying. Sometimes I think we have a tendency to only hear one thing from people who disagree with us, rather than a real conversation. Going back to the article of abortion, understanding that this is what some pro-abortion people think about this issue, will shape how I talk to them. If will lead me to ask different questions and express my worldview in a different way if I were simply talking to someone who just hadn't thought about the issue of abortion, which if I'm being honest was my assumption of many pro-abortion people. I want to make it clear that when I talk about discussion and engaging with opposing view points I am not suggesting that one change their mind, or that there will be some arrival of truth in conversation that was not there before. When I share the gospel with someone I know that I have truth, however as I listen to them and understand where they are coming from I can better express my own faith and perhaps address some of their questions. I believe this is what Paul was getting at when he said, "Although I am free for the sake of the gospel I became a slave to all." I think we can also see this in the gospels themselves as they are telling the story of Jesus. The author of Luke is different from Matthew and are addressing different audiences, and thus empathize different things. This does not make one less true than another, it just shows how both these authors were engaging with different people differently. This is also important for me as a preacher. I have to preach the word and I can do nothing else but preach the word, however what examples I use, or application might vary due to who is in congregation. The same can be said for parents and children. Parents have a duty to raise their children, however children today are not growing up in the same culture as their parents and so parents should learn about the culture that their children are growing up in. What is being promoted, what are the main issues, the struggles, what are the trends? Not only does this show a genuine interest in your child's life, but it better enables Christian parents to present the Christian worldview which is unchanging and is an everlasting worldview to their children addressing the concerns that they had, and not the concerns parents have. As believers we know we have a faith that address all walks of life and all cultures, we have a savior that can save anyone from anywhere, and the Holy Spirit that has the power to bridge the gaps of language, culture, and time. With this in mind let us show respect towards our neighbors by truly listening to what they have to say, and then show them true love by giving the gospel of the only one that can save. The King of kings, and the Lord of lords Jesus Christ.
So a few weeks ago Rob Bell appeared on the Oprah show to talk about Gay marriage and his book. Rob Bell has been a pastor of a church, although it has become clear that this man is not interested in what the Bible has to say. This is a point he made clear on the show when he said that the church won't be relevant as long as it listens to 2000 year old letters. His idea is the cultural conscience has changed and thus it is only a matter of time until Christians change too. Is this true? Should Christians change with the culture if we are to remain relevant in this day and age? To answer this question I think it is important to look back at the when Christianity first started in the book of Acts. If you read this book you see a Christianity that is very counter cultural, both to the Roman and to the Jews. Let's think about Rome during the time of the church. Even someone with a basic understanding of history would understand that the Romans were polytheistic. They had a god or goddess for almost everything. Even their king was considered a god. Here comes Christianity stating that there is only one God. That all the idols that the Romans were worshiping were false. How offensive that must have been to the Romans. Denying the gods that they worshiped was a denial of their very way of life, it was un-Americ... Uh I mean un-Roman. The Christians had certain standards that they held themselves too as we can see for the requirements of elders and deacons in the church from the book of Timothy. The Christians didn't fair much better with the Jews. Because they understood Jesus to be the Son of God, and the early Jews and Christians did not get a long, even to the point of the some of the Jews stoning Stephen while a man named Saul watched. What were these early Christians thinking? Didn't they understand that if they were to reach the culture they should have been more accepting of the gods and goddesses of the Roman people? Shouldn't they have said things like, "we understand Jesus to be the son of God, but it's totally cool if you don't." These early Christians even wrote about other people claiming to be Christians and got into disagreements about doctrine and theology. The church met to talk about if the church should require circumcision in order to be a Christian and came up with a clear answer about that question.That was so close minded of them to exclude people who wanted to say that one had to be circumcised in order to be a Christian. As you can see in my less than subtle sarcasm one of the things that made Christianity stand out is that it was different from the culture. These Christians not only listened to the teachings of the apostles but they also read from what we call the Old Testament as their scriptures and of course the letters that Paul and the other apostles wrote. Christianity thrive because it simply went along with the culture, it thrived because God made a promise that the gates of hell would never triumph over His church. Christians should have no fear of moving away from the cultural norm and being weird. I pray for our culture to repent and turn to God, not for the sake of the church which I know will be fine, but for all of those who have been enslaved by our current cultural mindset. It is a way of thinking that does not hold up under proper examination, it lacks rational and requires obedience, and worst all even thought it proclaims to be all about love and acceptance, actually ends up being a mindset that is the exact opposite of love and acceptance. I can love and tolerate someone even if I disagree with them and don't like them. The prevalent worldview in our land today cannot make this claim and be honest. This is indeed sad, because many have been deceived by what is called love. This is why it is very important that Christians continue to cling to word of God and represent what true love is as God defines it, which finds it's best expression in the cross. Our Lord and savior dying for sinners like you and me. Do you feel like Christianity is going to die unless it concedes to the culture? Do you think Christians should ignore or cling to God's word? Comment below and let me know. Thanks for reading.
Science vs religion. This is a battle that has been going on since I was born. There are people who say that one cannot do science and have religion. There are those who say you cannot have religion and do science. There are a variety of people who think and feel some where between those two extremes. I'd not like to talk about science vs religion too much because for me the two have never been at odds, and in fact some of the first scientist were not at odds with their religion either. In truth the real battle is between the lazy thinkers and the true explorers and we have people on both sides. Let's not beat around the bush. The big issue here is Darwinian evolution and the creation account in Genesis. Even deeper than that it is God or no God. Although it is not required for an atheist to believe or as they would put it accept evolution, it is a theory that is important to many atheists because it a theory with scientific evidence that gives an account of where everything came from without the need for a God. The big issue for many Christians is not that evolution is contradictory from Genesis chapter 1, the real problem comes from Romans where Paul said through one man sin and death entered the world, and through one man life enters the world. Paul makes a parallel between Adam and Jesus. Through Adam sin and death entered the world meaning there was no death prior to Adam. Just as sin and death entered through Adam, through Jesus one has life. You can see the problem between the two possibilities because one says there was no death before man, and the other says there must have been many deaths in order for man to become man. I need to clarify that when I say evolution I am referring to the idea that one species jumps to another. So all life came from some progenitor life form that is no longer around. When I said that there were lazy thinkers and true explorers on each side I wasn't kidding. There are those who just learn the basics of evolution and then do not bother to learn any more. They shut their brain down and refuse to listen to any evidence that could lead them away from viewing evolution as the origin of the world. The same is true for those who believe in God. Instead of trying to understand the world God has made they simply accept that God made and remain ignorant of the world around them. Early scientists where were Christians did not have this idea. They thought that is God is a Go of order then it makes sense that he would make a world of order too. Thus they started to look at the world in an orderly way, and the scientific method was on its way to being born. As a Christian it is important that I do not allow myself to simply shut my brain off. If my faith is true as I believe it is then my faith and what my faith says should make sense in the real world and I should be back up my faith with evidence and reason. Granted I cannot prove my faith as one proves gravity because faith is the evidence of things unseen, where as scientific proof is what is observed, but I can hold to my faith, based off available evidence, reasonable thought, and inward conviction. I think these are the 3 pillars which one's worldview should stand. If one cannot give an accounting in one of these pillars then perhaps their worldview should be abandoned. Each person should examine their worldview based of these pillars and see how it measures up see if it is consistent, and see if they can hold when measured against other worldviews. Getting back to the issue of science and religion, there is often an idea that if a scientist goes into the lab with an assumption in mind then their results are going to be wrong because they find evidence to fit that assumption, thus all assumptions should be given up. I would like to say that not only is this not done, but it is impossible, and it is not how these early scientists first started to examine the world. They started with a theological point. God is a God of order. Each person has to start somewhere. If one does not believe in God then they will seek to find evidence to support that belief. It should not be surprising that people who already think evolution is the way everything came to be have continued to find evidence to support that claim. Of course people found evidence to support the claim that the world was flat at one point as well. The trouble I see with many Scientists is that they are just scientists. They are not philosophers, or theologians, or anything else, and thus they limit their mind. The same can be said for pastors and theologians. I know it would do me some good to learn some more science, and this where discussion, and dialogue are important. As a Christian I believe God did create the world and the way he described it is accurate because I believe the Bible is his word and is true. Yes this shapes how I view the world, but I keep my eyes and ears open as well. I continue to learn, however I learn through the appropriate filter and it is shaped into the Christian worldview. This does not mean that I do not reflect upon my worldview and the 3 pillars upon which it stands, but I have yet to find a worldview that holds up as well as the Christian one. So keep thinking and learning Christian. Don't be afraid of science, but understand that you don't have to start at the same place scientists who don't believe in God start. Don't turn your brain off, but let your knowledge be guided by the word of God and the Holy Spirit.
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor