Sunday, December 28, 2008


Reflections for a New Year, I make no resolutions.
Take Time
Take time to take--the small gifts so hesitatingly offered by a friend.the proud handmade present from a child.
Take time to listen--to the old man's too oft-told tale to a husband's words of love
Take time to share a moment with a lonely soul (for loneliness shared becomes love)a sorrow with a bereaved friend (for sorrow shared becomes comfort).
Take time to touch--another human (which means "I care for you, I trust you")another life (for that is what life is all about).
Take time for each other for nothing else is that important. Take time to live--to dance for fun to sing for joy to paint or sew or create a beautiful gift.
Take time to watch--the snow swirling outside the windowpane,the flames dancing in the fireplace.
Take time for gladness--for this faltering, fumbling world is, after all,mostly good!
The above was given to me by a friend.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 MSG)

There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap,

A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct,

A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer,

A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part,

A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go,

A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up,

A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does?

I've had a good look at what God has given us to do--busywork, mostly.

True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time--but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going.

I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life.

That's it--eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift.

I've also concluded that whatever God does, that's the way it's going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God's done it and that's it. That's so we'll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That's how it always is with God.

I took another good look at what's going on: The very place of judgment--corrupt!

The place of righteousness--corrupt! I said to myself, "God will judge righteous and wicked." There's a right time for every thing, every deed--and there's no getting around it.

I said to myself regarding the human race, "God's testing the lot of us, showing us up as nothing but animals."

Humans and animals come to the same end--humans die, animals die. We all breathe the same air. So there's really no advantage in being human. None. Everything's smoke.

We all end up in the same place--we all came from dust, we all end up as dust.

Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth.

So I made up my mind that there's nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do--that's our lot. Who knows if there's anything else to life?

The above is not unknown, it is God’s Word.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Strategies for Living in an Uncertain Economy

I was recently told about a new book, Mixing God with Money: Strategies for Living in an Uncertain Economy by Dennis Tongoi of Kenya. He serves on the board of Disciple Nations Alliance. As a native of a country which has seen more than its share of economic struggles, Tongoi brings a unique perspective. Here's an excerpt that caught my attention:

Principle One: Greed is Manifested by Haste. Faith Results in Patience.
Perhaps, like me, you are sometimes not willing to wait. Whenever I need to make any financial decisions, I am learning to apply the wait test. I know that my heart is predisposed to greed. . .Faith is patient. Whenever I see haste, I know that it is not of God. Waiting allows God to intervene and confirm. The bigger the decision, the more important this principle is
(pages 30-31).
With a couple of large decisions looming for me personally, these few short sentences were literally a Godsend. My decisions are not exclusively financial, but they do involve expenses if depending on what decisions are made. Please pray that I have the patience to wait, to allow God to be God, and to allow Him to intervene when and where He sees fit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


By Peter Marshall

We yearn, our Father, for the simple beauty of Christmas -- for all the old familiar melodies and words that remind us of that great miracle when He who had made all things was one night to come as a babe, to lie in the crook of a woman's arm.

Before such mystery we kneel, as we follow the shepherds and Wise Men to bring You the gift of our love -- a love we confess has not always been as warm or sincere or real as it should have been. But now, on Christmas Day, that love would find its Beloved, and from You receive the grace to make it pure again, warm and real.

We bring You our gratitude for every token of Your love, for all the ways You have heaped blessings upon us during the years that have gone.

And we do pray, Lord Jesus, that as we celebrate Your birthday, we may do it in a manner well pleasing to You. May all we do and say, every tribute of our hearts, bring honor to Your name, that we, Your people, may remember Your birth and feel Your presence among us even yet.

May the loving kindness of Christmas not only creep into our hearts, but there abide, so that not even the return to earthly cares and responsibilities, not all the festivities of our own devising may cause it to creep away weeping. May the joy and spirit of Christmas stay with us now and forever.

In the name of Jesus, who came to save His people from their sins, even in that lovely name we pray. Amen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Worldview Ignorance - Part 2

In Part 1 of this topic, I stated:

In my observation, there seem to be at least two types of Worldview
  • Willful Worldview Ignorance
  • Partial Worldview Ignorance

Willful Worldview Ignorance is practiced by people who are in what I call
“Worldview Denial.” They don’t want to think about the big questions of life. . . They tend to deny that such a thing as a worldview really exists. They don’t believe that a person can actually have a consistent, over-arching conceptual framework that explains the whole world, how it works, and what life is all about.

And now, Part 2:

Partial Worldview Ignorance is practiced by the majority of people – at least by a majority of those over 30.

It’s caused by misunderstanding what a worldview is. They acknowledge that they have a worldview. They have thought some about the big questions of life. But they have compartmentalized their beliefs. A few common examples of compartmentalized worldviews:
  • "I don’t let my religion influence how I vote. Haven’t you ever heard of 'separation of church and state'?"
  • "I don’t take my religion into the workplace because I might offend my Hindu co-worker."
  • "As a scientist, it’s not only possible, but essential, that I remain completely objective. I just follow the scientific evidence, wherever it leads."

As I said, they don’t really understand what a worldview is. They don’t see it as an all-encompassing and overarching view of the world. They see it as a small part of their lives. They think it’s like a coat that you can put on and take off – wear it when it’s appropriate, and take it off when it’s inconvenient.

We’ve said before that a worldview is like a pair of eyeglasses – because they influence how you see the world. Some glasses help you see better. Some change the way things appear because of colored lenses. The prescription for these glasses was either written by you or by God.

But as I think about it now (and compare it to the “coat” analogy above) – I think a worldview is more like your actual vision, not your eyeglasses. Just like a pair of eyeglasses, your worldview determines how you see the world. But eyeglasses can be taken off – just like the coat. But your worldview can’t be taken off – it’s a part of who you are. Some people have 20-20 vision; others are "blind as a bat." Their vision is a part of who they are.

There are certain things that can be done to improve your vision – like LASIK surgery. In the same way, there are certain things that can be done to improve your worldview "vision." It starts with reading the Bible with an eye toward all of life – all of your real life here and now.

  • Don’t just read the Bible as an interesting historical document - although it is that.
  • Don’t just read the Bible as a collection of useful moral instructions - "Do this; don’t do that - can’t ya read the signs?" (Bonus points for anyone who remembers the song!)
  • Don’t just read the Bible as a “how to be saved” manual, with an eye toward evangelizing others.
  • Don’t read the Bible as an end-times manual, identifying your current political or military enemies as the Antichrist and seeing Satan and his minions under every rock.

Instead, read it with your feet firmly planted in the here and now, knowing that God is the sovereign God over all of life – including the parts that you may not associate with the Bible – art, economics, politics, and education come to mind. After all - if He's sovereign (and He is!), then He's sovereign over every square inch of life.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Worldview Ignorance - Part 1

Worldviews contain at least five clusters of beliefs, namely beliefs about God, metaphysics (ultimate reality), epistemology (knowledge), ethics, and human nature. While worldviews may include other beliefs that need not be mentioned at this point, these five usually define the most important differences among competing conceptual systems.
Dr. Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
(Buy it
here and support the work of ACWI)

Dr. Kenneth Samples, professor @ Biola University, in reviewing his book, A World of Difference, has said that most of the time we don’t think in a worldview-ishly manner. (Buy it here and support the work of ACWI)

George Barna’s 2003 research which was documented in his book Think Like Jesus (Buy it
here and support the work of ACWI) identified the following characteristics of a person with a Biblical worldview. They believe in:

  • certain doctrines that have historically been considered “orthodox Christianity”
  • absolute truth. You can’t have your truth and I’ll have mine.
  • the Bible as the source of absolute moral truth

So far, so good. But details from Think Like Jesus give the bad news:

  • Only one out of four born-again adults (25%) “make their moral and ethical decisions on the basis of the Bible” (p. 36).
  • Only one out of seven born-again adults (14%) “rely on the Bible as their moral compass and believe that moral truth is absolute” (p. 37).
  • Most disturbing of all: 91% of all born-again adults and 98% of all born-again teenagers do not have a Biblical worldview (p. 39).

We live our lives based on what we believe – not what we say we believe, but on what we really believe.

Most Christians would claim that they try to live their lives according to the Bible. This is just another way of saying “I try to live out a Biblical worldview.” But do we really?

What I’ve noticed over the years is that Christians tend to do a pretty good job in a few select areas. We’ve read books and heard speakers on Christian parenting, on abortion, on gay marriage. . . and on certain moral issues. We’ve often taken the time to think through the implications of the Bible in these specific areas.

But what about some other areas? Your worldview encompasses ALL of life – not just a few little corners of life.

Can you articulate your worldview? Can you explain why you make the decisions you make?
For example:

  • Can you point to specific Biblical principles that support your choice of candidate in the recent presidential election? John McCain, Barak Obama, or Ralph Nader – it doesn’t matter. Can you point to specific Biblical principles to explain why you’re a member of one political party or another?
  • In a press release the day after our most recent presidential election, Mathew Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel and the Dean of Liberty University School of Law, said:

    While the people passed marriage amendments in Arizona, California, and Florida, two of those states voted for Barack Obama. When asked to vote on values, they chose traditional marriage. In California, the people overturned an activist state supreme court. However, a large number of people who voted for Obama voted for these marriage amendments, which Obama opposed.
    Accessed 12/3/08

    These people probably couldn’t explain their contradictory voting decisions, much less support them Biblically.

  • In the current economic “downturn” – a misnomer if ever I heard one! – are there specific Biblical passages that guide your economic decisions as a family or a business owner?
  • Can you explain to someone - from Scripture – why Communism isn’t Biblical?
  • Would you be able to provide Scriptural support for your parenting decisions? For the way you discipline your children? Or the choice of school your kids attend?
  • Can you offer Biblical support for your entertainment choices – the music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, and the movies you see? And not just the content, but the amount of time spent being entertained?
  • Do you try to live your life according to the Bible? Or are you allowing the world around you to influence your decision-making?

In my observation, there seem to be at least two types of Worldview Ignorance:

  • Willful Worldview Ignorance
  • Partial Worldview Ignorance

Willful Worldview Ignorance is practiced by people who are in what I call “Worldview Denial.” They don’t want to think about the big questions of life. . . many don’t really want to think at all!

They tend to deny that such a thing as a worldview really exists. They don’t believe that a person can actually have a consistent, over-arching conceptual framework that explains the whole world, how it works, and what life is all about. Their thought processes, their entire universe, are so fragmented and disconnected that it’s hard for them to imagine that anyone can have it all together and make sense of it all.

Part of the problem (certainly not all of it!) is in our educational system.

Today we have a weakness in our education process. . . we tend to study all our disciplines in unrelated parallel lines. This tends to be true in both Christian and secular education. This is one of the reasons why evangelical Christians have been taken by surprise at the tremendous shift that has come to our generation.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer

Because the vast majority of students today are taught this way, they don’t see the connections between history, literature, art, and language. By sitting in class for one hour to study history, in another class for another hour to study science, and yet another class to study literature, it's no wonder that life seems fragmented.

Because many have suffered through a fragmented education, they now have a fragmented worldview, thinking that connections don’t exist, that “having it all together” is just a dream.

Consider the alternative – what could “connected education” do?

Integration between academic subjects ties the world together. Math, science, philosophy, and history are all interwoven in a way that relates all subjects to a whole.
Adapted from Discover Classical Christian Education by David Goodwin, headmaster of Foundations
Academy in Boise, Idaho

And that whole is Jesus Christ. All the academic subjects relate to Him – because He is the Creator of all things, including academc subjects.

In addition, those in worldview denial tend to be totally focused on the here and now.

How do we get these people think beyond what’s for supper tonight or where I’m going to party this weekend?

And what of Partial Worldview Ignorance? Watch for Worldview Ignorance - Part 2 next week.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rest You Merry Saints

The First Time Jesus Came

He came veiled in the form of a child.
A star marked His arrival.
Wise men brought Him gifts.
There was no room for Him.
Only a few attended His arrival.
He came as a baby.

The Next Time Jesus Comes

He will be recognized by all.
Heaven will be lit by His glory.
He will bring rewards for His own.
The world won’t be able to contain His glory.
Every eye shall see Him.
He will come as the Sovereign King and Lord of all.
John F. MacArthur, Jr.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Foundation of Creation Part 2

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1)

Genesis 1:1 is the first verse of the Bible, but I also believe it is the first place we need to go to begin to understand the overall consistency, flow, and story of Scripture. I believe that the battle for creation is one of the most important battles the church faces today, because without creation, the rest of the Bible cannot make sense. What does the Just wrath of God mean if we are not his creatures? At best, God's wrath against us would be a capricious act of a being who has the power to do what he wishes with lesser beings. Please do not misunderstand me, God is all powerful, does as he wishes, and we are lesser beings. The Biblical notion of God's wrath comes from the understanding that we who are dependent on God for our very existence, and have been given the image of God, have transgressed his law. However, if we are not created we are not dependent on God for our existence, and we are not created in his image; so to remove creation is to remove the entire Biblical basis for God's just wrath. Now, if there is no basis for God's just wrath, then what basis can there be for his gracious salvation? none. We know, though, that the Bible teaches creation, and that man is a creature of God invested with his image. This is a beautiful doctrine that cements together the rest of the Bible (and history) in a consistent, God glorifying way. After all, was it not Jesus who entered into his very creation to redeem it?

As a side note:
I am not necessarily here referring to the six days or the six billion years debate. I believe that Genesis has clear elements of different kinds of genre which makes exegeting it a particularly weighty task. I personally believe that it was six days, but I am open to there being a much larger time period. However, one thing that I believe the Bible makes clear is that man was created as is and not through an evolutionary process guided by God. I believe this because Jesus and Paul make it very clear that Adam and Eve were historical figures.

"He [Jesus] answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female',and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'" (Matt 19:4-5)

"Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come." (Romans 5:14)

-- This is not an exhaustive list of Scriptures on this point, and I would certainly recommend reading the entire chapters of Matthew 19 and Romans 5.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things that make sense from a Reformed Worldview Part #1

Every now and then I get reminded of things that I have always believed growing up in a Christian home but that did not really make sense to me until I came to see what the Bible says in regards to the doctrines of grace. The other morning, I let my fingers do the typing through cyberspace and headed over to I see that James White has posted a video of a lecture he did on the reliability of the New Testament Text (click the title to see his lecture). While watching the video I started to think of one of those things that clicked for me as a result of shifting over to a reformed worldview; that is the answer to why people insist there is no reason to believe the Bible is more than just the writings of men. I have always been impressed with the consistency of the Bible, and have always been amazed at the amount of people who do not -- cannot-- see the amazing cohesiveness of the Bible. People will often ask me how I can believe a book written by several different authors over thousands of years could be the word of God. My response is "exactly, thousands of years, several different authors, and yet it all clearly points to the man Christ Jesus." I always thought, and still think, that the fact that the Old Testament clearly looks forward to Christ and the New Testament clearly looks back to him is incontestable when the text is seriously looked at and considered. However, unbelievers find that notion ridiculous or as a person I work with put it "I think you are stretching it." What I saw as the refusal to see the obvious on the part of my co-worker (not out of ignorance either, for he spent 2 years in seminary) would have puzzled me five years ago, because I could not figure out why I and others saw what was clear and they did not. However, when I became reformed I understood that the reason unbelievers could not see this clear fact was because they were lovers of the dark rather than the light. I know to some of you it seems so obvious, as it does to me now, but it really is confusing coming from a non reformed perspective. I believed that everyone was on neutral ground and if people could somehow be given that one piece of information, or reason, or argument that they did not have before, then they would come to Jesus. A reformed worldview, however, makes complete sense of the fact that people refuse to believe and even go through great lengths to turn a blind eye to the miraculous consistency of the Bible. People are not neutral, they are either in Christ or in Adam, they are either lovers of God or enemies of God. The next thing that people will generally say to me after I express my belief that the Bible is miraculously consistent goes something like "but what about all the contradictions?" So then I would start to offer to examine any contradictions with them and see if they were truly contradictions. The last couple of days though I have been thinking about the claimed contradictions and the overall consistency of the Bible, and I do not think they are much of an argument against a deeper understanding of the Bible. In other words, I do not think that the perceived contradictions would completely destroy some connection of the Bible to a divine origin. Let me try to flesh this out a little. In the name of argument and reason I am willing to grant the unbeliever's contradictions. Supposing that all of these contradictions are indeed true, but then are compared to the remaining consistency of the Bible especially given the thousands of years time frame and the numerous different authors, the Bible would still present a more than formidable content that would need to be reckoned with. Sure, if there were truly contradictions the reformed view of inspiration could not be correct, but I think the evidence would still demand a more serious look at the source of the Bible. Still, there are no contradictions, and I have to go with Bahnsen that our very endeavors to reason and think consistently about reality would be fruitless if what the Bible reveals to us is incorrect -- so please no one accuse me of classical apologetics here :). I honestly pray for Bart Erdman, not because I believe his attacks on Christianity to be devastating, but because I really hope that he does not have to face Christ in the present state of his soul. I would hate to have to be the one to stand before Christ and hear: "Have you not read what God has said to you?"

I labeled this part 1 because, God willing, in my next posts I am going to have some Bible overviews that I think strongly show the consistency of the Bible, and -- as Dr. Baird used to say to his classes -- "the golden thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving for the non-believer

Unless I totally misunderstand the English language, our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday - by definition - requires someone to thank. That's what the phrase "giving thanks" means, after all.

Gathered around the table on the fourth Thursday of November, believers may thank God for the provision of good gifts, including the family and friends gathered there. But if the non-believer participates in Thanksgiving, who are they thanking?

  • The standard response might be "Thanks for my family and friends" - but again, who are they thanking? Do they thank other people for being their family & friends?
  • If they thank someone for the bountiful provision, who do they thank? Their employers for providing the paycheck that enabled them to buy all the turkey and pumpkin pie?
I used to think it was pure hypocrisy.

But consider this: They don't even realize it, but they are giving glory to God. By acknowledging the good gifts, the bountiful provision, they are by default acknowledging the giver of those gifts. Do they recognize God as the One who has provided for their every need? Of course not. They assume that all earthly possessions come from the hands of men - their own or their employers'. But God has chosen to use sinful humans, including nonbelievers and their employers, to provide for the needs of mankind. God has chosen to funnel the giving of earthly goods through the hands of humans, whether they acknowledge Him as the ultimate source or not.

Can non-believers glorify God, perhaps even without knowing it? Consider these Scriptures:
1 Peter 2:11-12
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions
of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the
Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may
see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Romans 15:8-9a
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

These verses don't speak directly to the idea of non-believers glorifying God without knowing it, but the thought may be there.

So if you have non-believing friends or family around your table this Thursday, say a special prayer of thanks for their (unwitting) praise and glory of God.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When are we wrong?

Is what we do in life and ministry ultimately to be for the glory of God or for us? Should our service or ministry have God as the objective or should our focus exclude God? How do we practice our Christian life?

For an answer consider the following!

o “When we engage in any religious discipline or practice (personal devotions, family devotions, Sunday worship, etc.) is it with a passion for seeing God glorified or ourselves made happier, healthier, wiser, and richer?
o Are we really concerned with God’s heart for kindness and mercy toward one another? First in the church and then outside the church? How do you respond when you hear about lost homes, businesses, in hurricanes and tornadoes?
o Are we really enthralled by the Grace of God which has saved us?”

From the Sermon by The Reverend William Phillips (Fellowship of Grace , PCA) entitled Post Exilic Prophets – Part 10, Zechariah 7-8:8, “So What Went Wrong”, November 23, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God's School

I've been working a lot with high school students in a special education resource classroom. Because these students receive Special Education services, they each have Individualized Education Plans, which require that all necessary aspects of the school curriculum are modified to the students' specific learning needs. I have spent hours helping some of these students with all kinds of assignments, from math and reading to triptychs and media displays. As, I suppose, with any group of students, the students I work with have... varying degrees of work ethic. Being an in-my-fourth-year-and-still-not-done college student, I can understand that "I really don't want to do this right now!" attitude. Having said that, this week I have been tempted to prematurely end my teaching career. Most of my students are great; they'll do their work-or at least try if I help them, but one of these kids will simply not do ANYTHING! I know what you're thinking- if you try this, or do that, or change this on and so forth. Trust me, we've done everything from giving out candy to issuing death threats. So far, nada. As I watched this student sleep-yes, sleep through the AIMS test (a standardized exam of nonsensical import), I thought about how the Lord must sometimes see me as I see this student.

Many times in my life God has blessed and tried me. Many times he has made his will abundantly clear, but more often than I care to think of, I have figuratively slept through God's test. He gives and gives, and He even takes, but time after time, I have acted as a resistant student who is unwilling to learn. Thank God that He is the ultimate teacher, and that His grace abounds, even through my failure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Leaving for the house-church

Since 1981 I have been most interested in and have studied the topic of “church drop out” or church quitters. A recent book by Julia Duin, Quitting Church, (recommended by Albert Mohler) has provided more interesting insights for me and still leaves the questions, “Why do they drop out or quit?, Where do the drop outs go?, What do they do?, Was there follow-up by the churches as to why they dropped out?, and Was any attempt made to recover these drop outs?” (I do not use the terms “drop out or quitters” irreverently, these folks are brothers ands sisters in the Lord.)

We have heard of the “traditional, seeker friendly, emergent and missional churches”. Well, from these groups and others we have the drop outs or quitters called the “house-church”.

House-churches usually meet on Sunday or Wednesday and for at least two hours. What might happen in a house-church?
93 percent have spoken prayer during their meetings
90 percent read from the Bible
89 percent spend time serving people outside of their group.
87 percent devote time to sharing personal needs or experiences. 8
85 percent spend time eating and talking before or after the meeting. .
83 percent discuss the teaching provided
76 percent have a formal teaching time.
70 percent incorporate music or singing
58 percent have a prophecy or special word delivered.
52 percent take an offering from a participant that is given to ministries.
51 percent share communion.
41 percent watch a video presentation as part of the learning experience
The average size of these groups is twenty people; 64 percent include children and there is an average of seven children under the age of eighteen involved. (p.62)

Some observation:
These are folks that claim to be born-again Christians
Some of these folks are attending regular church as “spiritual compliant”.
These folks are opened to be noticed as ‘quitters’ by not hiding in another formalized congregation.
George Barna hosts a house-church and says, “We are loving it.”
64 percent of the participants are “completely satisfied “with the teaching, leadership, and community of their group, as compared to regular church. (pp. 58-62)

What brought these folks to this decision and this place? Have you ever asked a person who has left your church, why? I have and you really get some interesting responses. If you did ask them about the journey away, did you ask them to return?

As a whole, churches do not seek after the lost sheep. I think it is very painful for those staying to ask those leaving, why? Why bother to ask when someone will soon take their place and yes they could be quitters. Now, how about asking them why they left their former congregation. In many cases these new comers want to reinvest in a new church and they no longer want to be helpless or hopeless. How would you meet the challenge?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Doubt and the Refreshing Breath of Biblical Preaching

I was recently listening to a podcast from Ravi Zacharias entitled Faith Under Fire: Jesus Among Other Gods. during this podcast I heard Dr. Zacharias say that since he had become a Christian at the age of seventeen he had not once doubted who Jesus was. I have to be honest at this point, I wish I could say that since I became a Christian I never doubted who Jesus was, but as much as I would like I cannot say that. I find it odd that a lot of the Christians I know, including my wife, think that I never have doubts about Jesus or a myriad of other things. Partially I think their perception comes from the fact that I am very interested in apologetics and feel that I have very rational reasons for believing in the God of the Bible. Also, I believe this perception comes from my far too often unwillingness to be vulnerable with people. I have experienced doubt several times about who Jesus was, The nature of the Bible, the existence of God. Sure, most of those times my doubt was little more than an itching in the back of my head that kept saying "what if your wrong Baird, then your life will be a waste." Still, some of those times of doubting have been more serious than just those minor nagging fears. Doubt, though, is not really what I wanted to focus on, but rather the preaching of the Word of God. When I go through those times of doubting I especially look forward to joining the saints in the house of God. Why? Because I know that there I will find a glorious release from those doubts. I cannot explain it, I just know that every time I have entered a Bible preaching church with doubts in my heart, I leave with those doubts swept away like so much chaff. I know also what it is that sweeps those doubts away, the preaching of the Word. Truly I am encouraged by the worship through music, and I would never begin to try to lessen the music to something other than worship, but when I hear a preacher who loves the Word and exposits it from the pulpit, it is like a flood of clean water filling my soul and washing out the sewage. I also notice that I can listen to sermons on my Zune and love every minute, but there is just something about hearing the preaching amongst other believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. As I mentioned in my last blog, I try to regularly listen to some atheist podcast so that I can be current on what they talk about and what their arguments are, but I would never do this if I were not gathering with the local church of God on a weekly basis. Sometimes I get done listening to those podcasts and it literally feels like shaking off a physical pressure on my body. To conclude, I want to thank God that He has brought me to a church with elders that love and cherish the Word of God and make it a priority to bring the counsel of God before the members of the church. I know this is the means of Grace that keeps me rooted in Christ, and I shudder when I think where I would be if I was not involved in such a church.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How Your Theology Shapes your Worldview

1. Your doctrine of God.
Does God have all power and authority over the universe? Or is history a battle between good and evil forces? Is this world rational and ordered? What is justice, good, truth, beauty? How are these reflections of God's character? What is the significance of the affirmation that "the Word became flesh" for our view of our humanness and the importance of this world?

2. Your doctrine of man
Is man a product of chance? What distinguishes humans from the rest of creation?
What is the "image of God"? Do people still possess that image even if they aren’t?
Christians? What does this mean for the arena of life we share in common with non-Christians (work and play, etc.)? Are humans basically good or evil? What does this mean for government and law? How do we balance liberty and justice? Can we expect to build an ideal society?

3. Your doctrine of salvation
Is salvation eternal or temporal? Do people really need saving? From what? Of what does the Christian doctrine of salvation consist? Is salvation the work of God entirely, or the work of God and man, or man alone?

4. Your doctrine of the church
Are we saved from the world, or saved in the world? Is the church a community that is separated from the world or to God in the world? Is the church a community of only those who are truly saved, or is it a mixed body of Christians and hypocrites who will only be sorted out on the last day? How important are the earthly sacraments of bread, wine and water in our Christian experience? What are my responsibilities to the church as well as to my calling?

5. Your doctrine of history and the future
Is God's history of salvation, from Genesis to Revelation, a story of escape from this world and normal human history, or a story of providence and redemption in real time and space history? Arc we wasting our time getting involved in this world when it is going to pass away at our Lord's return?
Modern Reformation March/April 1992

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where Christians Go Wrong With Evil

I was recently required to write a paper on theodicy i.e. the problem of evil and the existence of God. I was somewhat excited because this is a subject that I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I was also a little intimidated because I think this subject has been amply written about by men whose intelligence, and theological acumen far exceed my own. The problem of evil is probably most simply stated by first defining God as an omnipotent, omniscient and all good being and then using modus tollens:

1.) If God exists, there can be no evil
2.) There is evil
3.) God does not exist

I already had a good idea about the direction that I wanted to go in the paper, but I found myself unable to think of a good place to start. It was in this time of paper angst that I remembered a line from I am Legend a recent movie staring Will Smith. There is a scene in the movie where Dr. Neville (Smith's character) [SPOILER WARNING] is talking to the first uninfected person he has seen in years and [SPOILER OVER] says "God did not do this to us Anna, we did." That particular part of the movie struck me as a very emotionally impacting way of stating the problem of evil; and I believe this is where many Christians go wrong. No, I do not believe that the problem of evil is in anyway a defeater for the Christian worldview. Yes, the argument is self refuting because in order to posit evil you must first assume the existence of God. Yes, evil is an internally consistent part of the Christian worldview. The problem I see is that many Christians meet the challenge head to head on a rational basis (which is needful and good) but then they leave a vacuum where the emotional aspect is concerned. I think that reformed Christians are possibly more guilty of it then others, but I think the typical non-reformed free will defense (which I am actually not completely against) has the same problem of only interacting with the rational aspect -- though in a weaker way. Again, let me emphasize that the rational aspect needs to be addressed, but I think that the force of the argument from evil is not just rational, but also equally emotional. I think some of us tend to forget (and I am preaching to myself here) that evil is not just some philosophical concept, but that it penetrates and affects us on very personal levels. We are not just talking about the compatibility of the act of rape with the existence of God, we are talking about someones aunt, daughter, sister, wife etc. We are not just talking murder, we are talking about husbands who did not come home, and would never come home again. I think the Christian mindset in this regard has too often been to pull the rug out from under the feet instead of directing the feet to solid ground. And here is where I shake my head in wonder (again pointing the finger at myself) because God's existence not only provides a rational answer, it also provides a very comforting soul appealing answer. Without God, the heinous acts of violence that we encounter are simply a product of chance. Rape for example is nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people around; there can be no purpose to it because a universe that is governed only by non-personal law cannot give purpose by definition of its basic premises. However, God has a purpose for the most heinous evil things that happen, and He can bring evil to face perfect justice. In the end, God's elect will look back at history and see how God took the most ugly acts and wove them into a tapestry of His glory. So Christians let us stop being talking heads only, and engage the hearts of those listening to us when we defend our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Side Note: The Non-Prophets (one of the atheist podcasts I listen to on a regular basis) on their last show (Sat 11/01/08) had a debate about justice that I thought was very revealing in regards to atheists needing to unknowingly revert to a theistic worldview in order to meaningfully talk about justice. I recommend everyone listen to it. The pertinent part I am talking about starts exactly 38.05 minutes into the show. If your interested go to this link then click on episode 7.21

Monday, November 3, 2008

And now, a word from the author - Part Three

Arizona Christian Worldview Institute's new division, ACW Publications, has released its first book, Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations [learn more about it and read an excerpt here]. Here's Part Three of an interview I did with Heather via email. [Read Part One here and Part Two here].

Just Enough Grace is divided into three sections - sort of three phases of your life. The third section is "Just Enough Grace for Change." What's one of your favorite entries from this section?

I love the graduation letter that I wrote to my daughter (p. 202). In the past two years, I've seen her handle disappointments that would knock some adults flat. Despite her active hormones, she's handled things (for the most part) with tremendous grace and maturity. I think every "tween" should occasionally hear that life isn't always perfect or easy, but that God is always good. I also love knowing that, no matter what, there is a written record of how much I loved her.
What are a couple of things that God taught you during this phase of your life?

Doing things "right" or "by the book" doesn't protect you from hardship. It still amazes me that three short years ago we were debt-free (with the exception of our mortgage) and financially comfortable. We're not currently in that blessed position financially...not because we began living by different principles, but because our circumstances brought it about. Just because something is unlikely--I was a ridiculously healthy person before cancer, my husband had never experienced a period of unemployment in the entire scope of our marriage)--doesn't mean that we're immune. Hardship ISN'T punishment, although it is often discipline. There is NO such thing as normal. We're not called to "normal" any more than we're called to "excitement.” We ARE called to obedience and to contentment.
What advice would you offer to people - especially to women - who are struggling with changes in their lives?

Psalm 27:8 —”My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek.” Over and over in Scripture, we are commanded to seek the Lord. Godly perspective on all of life's circumstances comes from shaping my worldview into His. Sometimes we have to look long and hard to find God's hand in our situation, but it is always there. I recently ran across this quote in the Community Bible Study materials on the book of Acts:
Miracles of healing, miracles of guidance, and miracles of deliverance take place every day; because they are part of the events of the day, we often don't notice or appreciate them. We should thank God for His gracious acts on our behalf every day of our lives. Unbelievers talk about luck, good fortune, or coincidence; instead we can recognize the hand of God.
Look for the "everyday miracles"...they're usually not too deeply hidden.
(There’s a reason we chose the subtitle “Reflections on Ordinary Miracles”! – KES ;~)

Why do you think change is so difficult for most of us? Why do we like to be so comfortable?

Sin nature. I think it's difficult for me because I'm still living in a body of flesh in a fallen world. My flesh LOVES to be cozy, well-fed, and most of all comfortable. Most of the time when I really want to be comfortable, it's because I'm not willing to put aside the "old" Heather and put on the new.
Paraphrasing Ugandan pastor Bobgad Kalyowa,

The best comfort zone I have is when I’m serving God in the place He assigns me.
Any comments?

Amen and amen. Thanks, Keith, and the whole crew at ACWI for the opportunity to share!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It is too much with me!!

I will vote on Tuesday.

What shall I vote for and for whom shall I vote? Within my culture and subculture the issues rise and fall. Vote or don’t vote for the socialist, secularist, conservative, evangelical, pagan, right to life, abortionist, divorced, not divorced, tax activist, tax suppressor, male, female, black, white, native born, island born, Muslim, Christian, military strategist, prisoner of war, inexperienced military leader, maverick, mustang and the list moves on nauseam.

I am surrounded by voices of the righteousness that speak out of a materialist hell or a holy quest or personal panacea. Am I asked to vote for the person that sinned less than the other? When did they sin less, yesterday, today or tomorrow? What is the instrument that I should use to quantify my decision? How much sin is too much sin?
Why am I asked to make presumptions? What do my voices know that makes me ignorant? “The world is too much with us,” It is too much with me!!

What is true? The innuendos and the peccadilloes come to me daily from friends that believe I must be educated. Twenty six months of campaigning and in that period of time I grow less educated by friends and non-friends. I really hate the spam. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

I believe I cannot make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Can anyone? Change!! The standard for change has been raised in the corruption of politics for years It still remains a “sow’s ear”.

I will cast my ballot, my secret ballot. Please cast your ballot, your secret ballot. Then, let me rest from the materialist hells or holy quests or personal panaceas that are brought forth in all the spam. I might have voted for the same deceiver you voted for.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
William Wordsworth

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And now, a word from the author - Part Two

Arizona Christian Worldview Institute's new division, ACW Publications, has released its first book, Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations [learn more about it and read an excerpt here]. Here's Part Two of an interview I did with Heather via email. [Read Part One here].

Just Enough Grace is divided into three sections - sort of three phases of your life. The second section is "Just Enough Grace for Cancer." Any favorite entries from this section?

Um, NO.

Okay, yes. :-) I like "Shock and Awe” (p. 89). I loved the fact that, in the middle of some of the worst circumstances of my life to date, God showed Himself in a very tangible way. He didn't take away the situation, but he constantly reminded me of his love. HIS goodness didn't change, despite my upheaval.
As you've re-read this section now, several months after the events, is it difficult to read?

Absolutely. I think all of us (we're all co-survivors at the Nations' house) have experienced a bit of post-traumatic stress. Dave and I were so busy trying to keep all of our plates spinning that we often didn't take vital couple time during my treatment, and many things were left unsaid that we're just starting to scratch the surface of now.

I'm also amazed at how much I chose NOT to write during that time. Some people considered me to be relentlessly upbeat--I wasn't. I was aware that my daughter follows my blog, and I didn't want to deal with the topics like my humiliation at being bald, or my fear–not of dying, but of leaving my children and husband alone.
What are a couple of things that God taught you during this phase of your life?

--True friends and family stick with you, even when things are scary or ugly. We saw amazingly loving responses from family and friends who literally dropped everything to serve us during this difficult season. However, you have to be willing to let people help you, even if it means appearing vulnerable.

--It's important to leave a legacy. It comforted me to know that there was a record of this time for my children. If I didn't survive, they would have something tangible to read about how much their mom loved them, and hopefully they would take away that I was at peace with God's will, even if it meant dying.

--Humor is a gift. If I could laugh at myself, it was a good day. Blessedly, I was surrounded by people who loved to laugh as well.
Have your relationships or priorities changed as a result of your trip through "Cancerland"? If so, how?

I think I've become a person who is more willing to extend grace to others. I also try to keep a long-range perspective on what's truly important...having crunchy carpet or fingerprinted windows doesn't set me on edge the way it would have at one time.

I heard recently that life's crises can make us "bitter or better.” I do think that our perspective becomes more focused--either on ourselves or on God. My prayer is that my focus stays on Him--not just through cancer, but in everything.
What's the latest update on your health?

So far, no news is good news. I have CT scans every four months and the last one (August 11) was clean. I return for a checkup on December 15.

Recovery from the amount of chemo I had has been interesting. Physically, I consider myself to be at 80% of my pre-surgical/treatment energy, pain, and stamina-- and I hear that this is actually ahead of the healing curve! I have some short and long term memory issues, but most of the time they're more humorous than concerning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And now, a word from the author - Part One

By now you've heard that our new division, ACW Publications has released its first book, Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations [learn more about it and read an excerpt here]. Over the next week or so we'll be posting an interview I did with Heather via email. Here's Part One:

First, tell us a little about yourself & your family.

While I've dabbled in many things (occupational therapist, doula (a birthing coach), part time medical school teaching assistant/proctor), my full time job for the past 13 years or so has been homemaker and mom (or mommy, depending on the child). Dave and I have been married for sixteen years and have four children, ages 13, 11, 8, and 3.

With the exception of the 8 year old (she's a gymnastics girl) we're a serious soccer family. Most Saturdays will find us on the fields or traveling. In between we shuttle to practices or to school games.

Dave and I have always had a heart for family ministry and for worship. We've recently become partners in and enjoy serving at Celebration Community Church, in Kissimmee, FL.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Honestly, I can't say I ever wanted to be a writer. *I* always wanted to be a doctor. Writing has always come naturally to me, and I've actually had friends tell me over the years that I'd write a book "someday." What is so amazing to me about this whole process is that God's hand is so evident in it. Truly, it's not Heather's book — it's His.
So why did you start writing in the first place?

Shortly after the birth of my fourth child, I was feeling lonely and disillusioned. My long time homeschooling gal pals were sending their children to public school and returning to school and/or the workforce. Their lives seemed to be moving on, and mine seemed to be stuck--mostly at home with an infant who was chronically needy. A friend of mine had started a "mommy blog" and I enjoyed reading it (while rocking the baby). I thought, "Maybe I can do this, too..." Blogging became a way to process what was going on in my life; not quite as personal as a journal, but very encouraging as I could get feedback in the form of comments.
What kinds of responses to the book have you gotten so far - excluding from your family, who simply LOVE it, of course!

The responses I've heard have been overwhelmingly positive. My favorite comments have been women who have shared that God has used the book to encourage them, or that it's "just like you were sitting next to me, talking."

Another favorite came from a person at my church. We'd worked together extensively, but never quite "clicked" relationally. After a book signing she shared that reading my book was like taking a peek inside my heart (!). Our relationship has improved tremendously since then.
Just Enough Grace is divided into three sections - sort of three phases of your life. Let's take each section one at a time. The first section is "Just Enough Grace for Children." What's one of your favorite entries from this section?

I love "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall" (p.16). It talks about how Christian women (including me) have a bad habit of placing our identity in the choices we make rather than in the One who saved us! It's just SO easy to fall back on a works-based mentality, or to think I'm more worthy of God's love if I...keep a perfect house, serve on this committee, or whatever.
What are a couple of things that God taught you during this phase of your life?

In a word, humility.

Some children are harder to raise than others! I thought I had the baby thing down until my youngest came along. He's STILL shaking things up at our house three years later. Seriously, I learned that I needed to extend grace to myself and to others who were struggling with not particularly enjoying a season of their lives. Let's face it; the early days of motherhood with a high need/special needs child are not the blissful time that baby product ads would lead us to believe!

That season of my life also set me up to be okay with not being able to be the "Super Everymom"--the image that I had formerly projected. I learned to let things that didn't matter go a little. This was a lesson I really needed to learn before my cancer treatment began.
What are your kids teaching you these days?

Time management! My husband is working about 75 miles from home these days and is gone most of the time, so I'm the one coordinating all of the schedules for speech therapy, preschool, gymnastics, soccer, math club, drama, etc.

We're also testing new parenting waters--we have a teenager as of last week. I'm learning to transition my parenting from the authoritative mode that I have to use for my younger children to the more relationally-governed mode that has to use with tweens and teens. It's quite a juggling act.

More of this interview with author Heather Nations in a later post. Remember: you can read an excerpt of Just Enough Grace on ACW Publications' website. It's also available for purchase directly from us or through

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Wounded Healer

To my friend Earth-Alien:

Forgive my intrusion; it has been sometime since I have read the comments of a victim of a crime, in this case murder. I must say that I have a lump in my throat as I read your blog. Your friend is the survivor-victim upfront and personal and you are a victim because of your compassion for your friend, because you realize the senseless evil and you realize that “you get it”.

I have never talked with a crime victim or survivor who inwardly was not saying, “My life has been changed forever.” This I am sure is going on your friend’s life as well as yours. This senseless murder changed lives for ever and reaches out further than imagined.
It is not an easy task to minister to folks like your friend or any crime victim. I know what it is”to get it” and then deal with the “craziness” of the situation. I thought sometimes I would come out of my skin. “Even as a believer in the ultimate sovereignty of God, I sometimes get lost in the trappings of flesh.” Carrie Baird

There is no panacea that I might offer to comfort your feelings, thoughts and want to do’s. You and our God will work it out. Your advantage and mine is “we get it.” Ministering to others is the challenge.

There is an old story in the Talmud which suggests a beginning to this “craziness”.
“Rabbi Joshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet while he was standing at the entrance Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai’s cave. He asked, “When will the Messiah come?” Elijah replied, “Go ask him yourself.” “Where is he and how shall I know him?” He is sitting with the poor covered with wounds. The others unbind all the wounds at the same time and then bind them up again. But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, “Perhaps I shall be needed: if so I must be ready so as not to delay for a moment.”

“As the Messiah, we are both the wounded minister and the wounded healer.” Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7

Your friend,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have thine own way, Lord?

Even as believer in the the ultimate sovereignty of God, I sometimes get lost in the trappings of flesh.

A friend and classmate of mine has just experienced the horrifying murder of her husband. The story of his death is all over the news. This highly publicized tragedy has already made it public that this girl has a two year old and is newly pregnant. Even so, no one has mentioned that she also has cystic fibrosis and tremendous medical bills. Even in the midst of all the junk she's going through, she actually showed up to class this week. She is eternally upbeat and honest to a fault. In the few months I've known her, she has had more of an impact on my life than people I have known for years. In short, she's amazing. She's amazing and her husband was just killed for no good reason. No honor, no purpose, no story, nothing. I've been a Christian for years and several times in my life, Christ in me has been that support for people in times of crisis. Even so, I have to be honest and say that this situation is tearing me to pieces-and not because I don't "get it." Its because I "get it" that I'm going crazy. I know and believe with all of my being that God can and should do whatever he pleases with whomever he pleases at any given time. I know that God, in all his sovereignty is Creator and Sustain-er of the universe and that all things in it are His. I know and believe this with my whole heart and still I can't stop asking, "Why?!" All I know is as much as I hate the way my friend must feel right now, I'm thanking God for my husband and my life and for the fact that I am His. Maybe that's all I'm supposed to know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Proposition 102 Poll

For any who are interested, I just became aware of a VERY INFORMAL AND UNOFFICIAL poll re: Proposition 102, the Marriage Amendment.

It's a simple 1-question poll. I'd encourage you to take 2 minutes and answer it. As of late Wed. night (10-15-08), the results are as follows:

Will you vote in favor of Proposition 102?

  • Yes, I think it should be part of Arizona's Constitution.
    60% (2280)
  • No, marriage is already defined in Arizona as one man, one woman and the voters already rejected this in 2006.
    39% (1504)

Total Votes: 3784

The poll is here; I'll be curious to see the results as we get closer to election day.

And remember to vote for real on November 4th!


As of late Tues. night (10-21-08), the results are as follows:
Will you vote in favor of Proposition 102?
  • Yes, I think it should be part of Arizona's Constitution. 59% (2772)
  • No, marriage is already defined in Arizona as one man, one woman and the voters already rejected this in 2006. 40% (1882)
Total Votes: 4654

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Motive and Deed

Gen 2:23. And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."

The bond of marriage is essentially an attitude with a constant renewal. The idea that my spouse is “bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh”, directs my thoughts to be aimed at not just my motives, but my deeds. As a young husband I found it inspiring to be physically directed to my wife in my passion for her and the desired to have children and to assist her in enhancing my grand objectives. Surely this is what God indicates in Adam’s statement.

I did not see another very important principle in this Scripture, it does not just apply to passion and procreating, it applies to the very essential fact that I, as a husband, am responsible to the care of her bone and flesh. (I am not excluding her soul.)

I suppose that this idea of caring for bone and flesh my not be something we give thought, but I assure you it is immediate and a husband’s obligation.

For me that very act of caring for my wife in sickness has caused the “gas prices”, “government buyout” and “National election” to be minutiae. It has caused me to re-examine my attitude of the past and to regret my slothfulness.

There are uncountable idiosyncrasies that each spouse possesses and we do not even recognize them. At least that is my opinion, as I discover how my wife washes her face or washes her hair. I should say, how I now wash her face or wash her hair.

I am not being confessional, I am becoming enlightened.

One of the things I have been enlightened about is that I am keeping my wife alive and giving confidence. Just being in her presence presents a confidence and strength. I did not know this, she told me. As she heals and gathers physical strength, it is my obligation to help her gather psychological and spiritual strength.

A last thought, my care of my wife adds to the security of our home.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"From each according to his abilities" OR "Give a man a fish?"

You may have heard the following phrase:

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

Some have quoted this phrase as an incentive for those of us with the means to do so to willingly give to the needy, offer our services to the poor, etc.

In other words, for those of us in the west to help those in poor countries; for those of us in the middle and upper-middle class to help the poor in our own country.

A 1987 poll on the US Constitution by the Boston Globe magazine claimed that almost half the population of the United States believe that the U.S. Constitution is the source of [the] phrase, "so obviously right does the sentiment seem.”
Adapted from,_to_each_according_to_his_need

However, that's not what it means at all.

The phrase is usually attributed to Karl Marx. He wrote the phrase in his Critique of the Gotha Program (1875).

The Critique is also notable for elucidating the principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" as the basis for a communist society. The phrase summarizes the principles that, under a communist system, every person should contribute to society to the best of their ability and consume from society in proportion to their needs, regardless of how much they have contributed.,_to_each_according_to_his_need

In fact, Marx was actually quoting from an earlier historian & socialist politician, (but Spanish-born) Louis Blanc (1811-1882). In his 1839 (or 1840) essay, The Organization of Work, Blanc

demanded the equalization of wages, and the merging of personal interests in the common good-- "à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés," which is often translated as "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." This was to be affected by the establishment of "social workshops," a sort of combined co-operative society and trade-union, where the workmen in each trade were to unite their efforts for their common benefit.

And if there’s any question in your mind that Karl Marx was out of touch with reality - and human nature - and that communism is based on a utopian and unrealistic view of human nature:

Marx delineated the specific conditions under which such a creed would be
applicable - a society where technology and social organization had
substantially eliminated the need for physical labor in the production of
things, where "labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want."
Marx explained his belief that, in such a society, each person would be
motivated to work for the good of society despite the absence of a social
mechanism compelling them to work, because work would have become a pleasurable
and creative activity. Marx intended the initial part of his slogan, "from each
according to his ability" to suggest not merely that each person should work as
hard as they can, but that each person should best develop their particular

I guess Marx had never heard of total depravity.

Friday, October 10, 2008


As a writer, one of my biggest areas of struggle and frustration is the opening lines of whatever I write. I've heard it said in my English courses in college that if you cannot grab the attention of your reader in your first couple of lines, they will not continue on with your piece of writing. That being said, my introduction is difficult to write because of the weight of what I am going to write about because of the tears of joy and sadness that have come forth from my eyes about this subject.

Three years ago, I was a nineteen year old boy who was working full time at a certain coffee shop named after a character in Moby Dick in order to help out my family during a financial crisis that had come our way. My older sister was off studying at L'Abri in Switzerland and we had just celebrated our one year anniversary of becoming members of a local church in Gilbert. I, along with many Americans watched the news of the twin hurricanes that had come and destroyed New Orleans. I watched the news with a certain level of interest because two years previously, I had gone to Louisiana to teach a TeenPact state class. Upon returning to Arizona, I had told my family that I would love to return to this state because the people there had given me a level of comfort that I had not experienced anywhere, including my own state. This sense of community will stick with me for the rest of my life.

The Sunday following the news of Katrina's destruction, our pastor had announced that our church was going to partner with another church to assist with the relief efforts down south. He further announced that we would be having a meeting to discus more specific roles after the service on Sunday and to pray and speak with your family before attending. Since I was the lone representative of my family, I didn't have anyone to consult; I quickly made my way to the meeting and noticed that I was a boy among men. We received details about the trip, our pastor reminded us again that we should pray and consult our wives before embarking on this adventure. Originally, I had received this time off from work due to a previous engagement, but when I mentioned my new plans to my mother, my manager and the director of the other engagement, I was given yes's across the board like judges on American Idol. The weeks went by very quickly leading up to my departure, but on October 1st, 2005, I left my home in Chandler, onto a plane, into an adventure that would stick with me for the rest of my life. As I tried to fall asleep on the airplane, I scribbled down a few thoughts before falling asleep:
It feels like for the last few hours, I’ve tried to sleep but to avail. the mobsters around me, keep talking out loud, thank you Lord for allowing me to have a row to myself. Right now it has been announced that we're starting our decline in height towards our destination of Detroit, Michigan.

Earlier in the flight, I was able to roughly see the stars God put the sky. I say roughly because my eye condition and the dark blanket of the cabin lights. My gaze was interrupted due to the pain that lies within my stomach.

This medication the flight attendant gave me tastes like the stuff at dentist offices, they make you gargle for endless centuries - or at least your toleration of it continues. Oh well, its done its duty and my stomach feels better, but my mind is unable to shut down at the moment.

As the airplane continues its decent, a sermon by Mark Driscoll is ringing in my head. He mentions in the sermon that young boys and young men are fascinated with sporting events but older men are fascinated with war. This is what my mind begins to mediate on while the pink pill is swirling around in my stomach. This journey that brings me back to Louisiana, this part of the state that hurricanes have caused destruction and chaos, visually has been compared to the aftermath of a war. Because of the danger of the trip, I’ve been advised not to partake in assistance because it’s someone else's job.

However, the question still lingers, why did I enlist to assist complete strangers in a state far from my own?
Could it be for approval from my peers?
Women? (I know that isn't a possibly, I hope)

The only answer that puts my mind at ease as we begin to taxi the airport, is this. In times of tribulation, everything I hold dearly in life, I count as lost. So that I might follow the Saviour without any distractions this world tries to entice me with. this world has everything for me yet this world has nothing for me.
Because where He calls me to follow, I will go.
During my week in New Orleans, I saw many things, homes destroyed, personal possessions lost, friendships built and hope displayed. I remember being in amazement at the fact that these families had lost so much but yet their faith in Christ was unshaken. One family stood out to me because even though they had lost the only home that they had known (it was the father's childhood home), because they still had each other and they still had Jesus, they were not shaken. This made an impact on my young life, as one who held his possessions in high regard.

Now three years later, the church in Louisiana that I came and served is going to be moving into a new building at the beginning of November. I was fortunate to see many of the families I had helped this past February as my sister gave me a surprised birthday trip out there. However, in these last three years, I look back and see this trip as one that was used for making me more mature and more Christ-like. That is because there have been many storms coming to test my faith and see if I truly believe that Christ is over every situation either seen or unseen. That’s the beauty of having storms come into our lives, they are meant to mold and shape us, some might be destructive like failed relationships and battles with depression or smaller ones like moving out of my parents home or juggling full time work and full time school. In all these storms, it is helpful to look back and see the steadfast love of our Lord. It is difficult to see His Hand in them, but with confidence I acknowledge that they and many more have been used to remind my soul that it is on the solid rock which is Christ, I stand and all other pursuits are shifting sands. It was difficult to come home three years ago because I didn’t feel that God was using me in my situation, but God brought up storms to mature me and mold me into the image of His Son. I mentioned at the beginning of this I was a boy, I truly believe that this experience was one that shaped me into a man. Yet, through my time in Louisiana, the Lord used it to remind me of the following verse and how it rings it true, no matter what storm comes our way:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."---Lamentations 3:22-24

(If you are interested in reading my initial entry of how the trip three years ago went, I divided it up into three parts: (coming home, my first thoughts) (part one with pictures) (part two with no pictures, sort of scattered because I was at a loss of words

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

FINALLY! The Book is Here!

If you remember reserving a book at the local library because it was checked out by someone else. . . and waiting until they returned it . . . and then finally getting to check it out. . .


If you're a parent - or a grandparent - and you've anxiously awaited those nine long months - waiting for a new bundle of joy to arrive and grace your family with new life. . .

then you know something of our joy as we announce:

Our first book is finally here!

Just Enough Grace: Reflections on Ordinary Miracles by Heather Nations

is now available!

You can order it directly from us via email here or from Amazon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Someone said that “wisdom is knowledge with capacity.” I find this comment interesting in light of the great pressure that is upon me as well as many others as we try to discern, “Who should be the leader of our Republic?” I need wisdom!

Job 28:12. "But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
Yes, another person asking the question on my mind. And yet, an answer, Job 28:28, “And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.' “

“The fear of the Lord”, does this mean that our Lord God is the source of wisdom?
James, the Lord Jesus brother presents just that fact. James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. “ The giving God, the source of our wisdom and we are the direct object of God’s giving. And notice God, “gives to all liberally and without reproach”. The words here are with out reserve and because we ask, He expects us to ask again and again and He will not “through it”, wisdom, “in our teeth”. He will give us wisdom again and again and again.

The above presents a very comforting fact to me and should to all believers of the Christ, the Son of the living God.

God bless us as we make our choice.

Let the conversation continue.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selah-think on this

Psalm 32
Of David. A maskil.
1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Notice the exuberance in the Joy of Forgiveness)
2 Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Imputation given in the aura of salvation)
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night (Convicted in verse 3-4) your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you (Confession and relief verse 5) and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. (There is a haven and a great amount of protection 6-7)
7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; (Intelligent instruction in God’s relationship 8-9) I will counsel you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked, (Satisfaction in deliverance 10-11) but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
Let the conversation begin!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Knowlege - Or Something Like It

I was recently speaking to a group about the change in understanding & knowledge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, the church was the source of all ultimate truth. By the end of the Renaissance (or at least by the Enlightenment) science was thought to have taken the church's place; people had come to believe that if it wasn't quantifiable, visible, measurable (aka physical and tangible), then it wasn't truth.

I was reminded of this today when I came across the bold claims that by 2023 "it will only take a $1,000 computer to exceed the capabilities of the human brain." and "that by 2049" a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the human race." I don't doubt the ability of a computer to make superior computations. But that's very different from the ability to think, reason, make moral judgments, etc. (Go rent the 1983 movie War Games for a story about how well computers can make life & death decisions - G.I.G.O. ;~)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Show me the money!"

The stock market is unpredictable. Home foreclosures are steadily on the rise. Just the other day, I saw a news headline claiming that the US economy hasn't been this bad since the 1930's. Being one of the many misinformed that bought a house with an ARM and a promise of refinancing, I can definitely understand that these days, its difficult not to think about money all the time. I would hardly describe myself as a materialistic person, but when you're foregoing the air conditioning and line-drying clothes, its hard to not get a little envious. Speaking of envious...

The other day at a family function, a more...advantaged member of our family was showing off his new car. I'm not a car gal, but I was droolin. Leather interior, GPS, and key-less ignition. We lovingly call my hubby's car "The Beast." The Beast is a 1992 Ford Tempo with blood-red interior and it does not have those features. The entire family was standing outside, oohing and aahhing over this car, and then it occurred to me- this particular member of the family is an atheist. What are the Christians in our family saying to this person by essentially praising the act of spending what it would take to feed a small country on an automobile? Maybe I'm taking this a bit too far, but I really wonder how often we as Christians encourage indulgence and materialism, not necessarily by living those kinds of lifestyles, but by admiring them. Is it inherently wrong for me, a follower of Christ with very humble means to want new clothes, or for my husband to want the latest piece of hand-held technology? I don't think so. I'm not really talking about covetousness here so much as answering the question "Is the supreme desire of my heart to glorify Christ and make him (not me) look beautiful?" Can I want a new car? Sure. Can I let someone with a nice car know that I like it? Certainly. The problem would be if I acted in such a way that made a new car seem ultimately satisfying. I am reminded of Matthew 6:24:
"No one can serve two masters, for either will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Matthew probably new better than most about what its like to serve money. He was literally sitting at the tax collecting table when Jesus called him to follow. What an amazing witness he must have been to his tax collector buddies.

I pray that to the world, my life will look a little like Matthew's. I pray that my life and my actions always will give the most attention to the all-satisfying love of Christ, no matter how fancy the car.