Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do We Really Believe in the Holy Spirit?

Christians confess in both the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds that we "believe in the Holy Spirit".  But Lutheran theologian Hermann Sasse calls us to task for our lack of conviction in regard to this article of faith.

No, there is simply nothing that can be raised as an objection to our praying to the Holy Spirit just as we do to the Father and the Son.  Is our neglect of such prayer perhaps the reason why Christianity has erred into so many false pathways?...And of the churches which claim to have the heritage of the Reformation, must we not also say that they, even though in different ways, show loss of the true faith in the Holy Spirit? (We Confess the Church)

The disagreements between the world and the Church have revolved much around the First Article in regard to Creation, natural law, morality, the role of reason, etc. Christians do not expect non-Christians to accept the Christian faith. That would be silly. We do expect them to be reasonable. But we cannot seem to agree upon what is reasonable and what is not.

While the church is always going to be in conflict with the world, and it certainly has been, the conflict that we see within the Church, the divisions which have arisen, can sometimes be traced to a lack of understanding of the Holy Spirit.

You have Rome and Liberal Christians on the one hand who misunderstand the nature of the Spirit's Revelation. Both groups seem to think that He is still revealing new things, things that are, in some cases, contrary to the Scriptures. Their motto is, "God is still speaking."

On the other hand you have Evangelicals, Catholics, and others who are confused about the Spirit's role in Justification and Sanctification. They see Sanctification not only stemming from Justification, but feeding back into it so that I become responsible for my own salvation, at least in some minor way.

All this is just to make the point that we need to learn more about the Holy Spirit. I know, I know, the Spirit does not want any attention. He only wants to direct us to Jesus. (John 16:13-14) But Jesus says many similar things about Himself in regard to the Father throughout John's Gospel. He has come to glorify the Father. And yet we don't ignore Jesus, or at least I hope you don't.

And I am not saying that we need to talk less about Jesus, or put the Holy Spirit more front and center. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. He is the center of the Christian faith. Yet I cannot help but think that a fuller understanding of the Holy Spirit will lead to a greater faith in Jesus Christ, who sends the Spirit for that purpose.

The great irony of this is that Lutherans, who are sometimes afraid to talk too much about the Holy Spirit, actually have a fantastic understanding of His Person and Work. Maybe it is time to flesh this out a bit more.

The 3rd Article of the Creed touches on the Means of Grace (Word and Sacrament), the nature of the Scriptures, Ecclesiology (Church things), Eschatology (Last things), and much more. And these are the hot button issues within the Church.

Maybe Sasse is right, and we need to learn to pray to the Holy Spirit, because we may trust that He will not fail to lead us always to Jesus Christ our Savior.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

To My Daughter


Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: you are pretty. 

Half of the people on this planet are female and all of them possess an inherent beauty in their features.  Even when scarred by disease or dangerous accident a woman is a beautiful creation of God. 
Some women are prettier than others.  In your life, my dear daughter, there will be women who are prettier than you.  You will be prettier than others.  This is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it really anything to brag about.  It is a blessing from God.  Just be thankful and gracious to others no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

You are your mother’s daughter and therefore will probably be on the end of the spectrum that leans toward the prettier.  (You don’t know who many times random strangers have stopped your mother and told her that she is the “most naturally beautiful woman” they have seen.)  

But, also because you are your mothers daughter (and because you are mine) you will probably be a late bloomer.  This means that the boys in your junior high, or your high school, and maybe even in your college will not see your beauty until it is too late for them.  While some will peak at 18 or 21, your beauty will grow with each passing year.

And the boys will miss out.  And that is ok, because in this world you can’t afford to be messing around with the boys.  You will need a man at your side as times become more turbulent. 

Speaking of men, finding a man worthy of spending his life loving you might be difficult.  More and more the boys of our day are refusing to grow up, or if they do grow up it is too late to worry about starting a family. 
Finding a man who has not tainted his mind with pornography or tainted his body with drugs or other people will be a challenge.  You will have to be patient, and when the right guy comes along, you might have to be a little pushy.  

There are no perfect men in the world.  There never have been.  So don’t wait around for one.  But don’t lower your standards either.  Nothing brings out the goodness in a man like the goodness in a woman.
Repentance is a manly thing.  It is worth a lot of other preferences.  If you can find a man who may have done some pretty crazy, and even awful, things in his past, but he is repentant, he seeks forgiveness from his Lord and Savior, that is a keeper.

Another thing about men: you don’t need to be one.  You are a girl, growing into a young woman.  That is what God created you to be and there is no higher being on God’s green earth.  Whatever endeavors you enter into, no matter what other “jobs” you may undertake, know for sure that there is nothing more precious than bringing another life into this world.  Only women can do that.

Don’t be afraid to demand to be treated like the lady that you are.  No boy or man should treat you like anything less.  And if he does, do not marry him.  Get rid of him.  I’ll help if you want me to.  So will your 4 brothers.

The world is changing, and you are too.  You are growing more beautiful with each passing day, just like your mother.  You will be a beautiful woman, and you deserve to have a good man at your side.  May God bless you with all that He has to give.

With All My Love,
Your Father

Thursday, February 13, 2014

To My Sons

You are probably not going to receive what I received.  When I was growing up my parents moved up through the middle class.  They went from working class, to lower middle class, to middle-middle class.  I got to go to college and seminary.  I did not have to put myself into huge debt to do it.

I got to go to college when neither of my parents did.  I make more money than my parents did at my age, even if you adjust for inflation.  In other words, I inherited a better world than my father did.  He inherited a better world than his father.

But I don't think that is going to be the case for you.  And I am not really talking about economics.  That is just one example.  But the world, not just the USA, is a changing place, and from my estimation, not for the better.

Technology is advancing, and this can certainly be good.  Better medicine.  Easier lives.  But it has its costs, and we have largely lost the ability to analyze them.

That is what really scares me about the future.  Not the economy.  Not the technology.  Not the political dysfunction.  It is the inability to think and speak about right and wrong, virtue and vice.  We just don't get it anymore.

So my prayer for you, my sons, is not that you will inherit a better world.  You might, but I doubt it.

My prayer is that you will be better men.  Be a better man than I am.

Be the man that Jesus Christ has called you to be: repentant, forgiven, rejoicing.

Be ready to admit your faults.  There is no point in denying them.  Just fess up to God and whoever you have hurt.

Receive the forgiveness that Jesus freely won and offers.  Don't try to make it on your own.  Don't try to earn your place in God's kingdom.  You won't.

And rejoice in all that is your in Christ.  Let His forgiveness make you bold.  Let His Word guide your thinking to give you wisdom that is not from this world.  Let it give you the courage to do the things that I was always afraid to do.  Let it drive you to extraordinary things.

I pray that God will mold you through His Word to be a better man than me.  He is faithful.  While I lack confidence in the world, I have the utmost confidence in our Lord Jesus.  And that gives me great hope for your future.       

Monday, February 10, 2014

No More Mr. Anonymous

It occurred to me that people should at least leave their name if they are going to comment, so I have disabled anonymous comments on this blog.  No one had been particularly nasty; I just like to know who I am talking to.  Thanks.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why the Resurrection is the Only Answer that Matters

There seem to be some people who are confused as to why the resurrection of Jesus can make or break the argument for a young earth.  On the surface this is not obvious.

Why do Christians care how many days it took to create the earth?  I don't.  It could have taken God half a second.  I could have taken Him 40 trillion years.  Why do Christians (myself included) put stock in the fact that Genesis 1 states that it took 6 days?

Because Jesus Christ says that the Law and the Prophets (Genesis included) point to Him.  He endorses the Old Testament on several occasions, including a quote of Genesis 2 when discussing marriage and divorce.

Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, a clear indication that the claims He made about Himself were true, including His endorsements of the Old Testament.  Jesus rose from the dead showing His followers that He really was the Son of God.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead we are, as Paul says, to be pitied above all people.  The resurrection proves that Jesus Christ has the authority to make the claims that He made.  But if He did not rise, then His authority is not real.  And that means we do not have to take seriously His endorsements of the Old Testament.

I have had several comments from people who seem to think that there is no evidence for this.  I challenge you, look into it.  Give it an honest look.  Compare the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus to the historical evidence for other ancient people and events.  The worst thing that can happen is you learn a thing or two about ancient world history.        

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One Thing Ken Ham Didn't Say, but Should Have

Tonight came the debate between Ken Ham (creationist) and Bill Nye (evolutionist).  All things considered I thought it was a good debate, a debate from which the people who plan out presidential debates could learn a great many things.

There was one point toward the end where the moderator, who also did a fine job of remaining neutral, asked the two men questions gathered from the audience.  One question in particular caught my attention.  It was directed at Ken Ham.

He was asked if there were any evidence that could be given that would convince him that the Biblical account of creation was false.  I do not recall his exact answer, but effectively he said "no".  No evidence could shake him in his conviction that God created the world in 6 days.

As a Christian, as a 6-day creationist, I was disappointed in this.  Mr Ham did not have the questions beforehand.  He did not have the advantage of hindsight (which I have now).  So I don't want to be too hard on him.  But this is what I think he could have said instead:

"Show me a body."

Show me the dead body of Jesus Christ and I will burn my Bible.  This is, in fact, the gauntlet that the Apostles were throwing down each and every time they preached the resurrection of Jesus to the masses of people who gathered to listen to them.  If Rome wanted to put an end to all of this, if the Jewish ruling council wanted to put the kibosh on this Christian nonsense, all they had to do was produce a dead body.

They didn't.  They couldn't.  And they still can't.

This is where I think Ken Ham missed a golden opportunity.  I don't believe the Bible because it is scientifically correct.  I believe it is correct because a man rose from the dead.  When a man rises from the dead you should probably take seriously the things that He says.  And He says that the account of Genesis 1-2 is true.  So I listen to Him.  I believe His Word.

Christ is risen.  It is a historical fact that changes everything.  And it is the point that Ken didn't get to make, at least not while I watched.

(**Disclaimer: Our live feed cut out about 5 minutes before the end.  I did not see the final few exchanges between Ham and Nye.)