Archive for the ‘women’ Category

One of the challenges that I face as a Mom is countering our culture’s belief that all faith systems are legitimate. My child’s belief system is assaulted by the media and the population at large, accusing the Christian worldview of intolerance even to the extreme of claiming Christian beliefs are hateful.  How do I teach my children that the belief that Jesus is the only way is a legitimate belief?

The basis for the attack is a belief that religion is all about choice. This is a free country; we are free to believe as we choose. Why would anyone choose a religion that insists that everyone who does not believe as you do will go to hell? On the surface this argument seems legitimate and justified. But if choosing a religion is about choosing what is true rather than choosing what appeals to us, the argument fails.

The reality is that we do not get to choose what happens to be true. I like to believe I have a million dollar balance in my checking account. Believing I am a millionaire appeals to me. Living according to my belief, I write checks all over town that upsets retailers who do not get the funds promised. When I act out of faith, I cannot live consistently with my belief because my faith does not correspond with reality. I can then conclude that my belief is false.

Is it possible to determine to the same degree of certainty that a religion is true or false? The answer is probably not since we are dealing with spiritual matters. Spiritual matters correspond to a realm outside of our material universe and cannot be measured with any degree of precision or even experienced according to our physical senses. Then how can any faith system claim to be true?

My Atheist/Humanist friends like to use a phrase to replace of the word “faith” when they speak of matters that cannot be or have not been proven. They like to say, “I have a conditional acceptance that it is true.” In the same manner we can apply that phrase to matters of faith. As fallible beings we must acknowledge that we hold an incomplete understanding of many things. For this reason many of our beliefs about reality require an element of faith, or conditional acceptance.

Paul recognized this principle when he wrote to the Corinthians approximately 20 years after Christ’s crucifixion.

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NASB95)

Paul had a conditional acceptance in the Christian faith dependent upon the truth of the resurrection. If the resurrection is not true, Christianity is false and Paul knew it. He wanted the Corinthians to know it, too. Paul was writing at time when witnesses to the truth of the resurrection were still alive and could easily corroborate or deny his testimony. He believed as people have for over 2000 years that Christianity is true, reasonable and corresponds to reality. The miracle of the resurrection affirmed that what Jesus testified about himself was true.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6

Jesus said it. I believe it. And that settles it for me.

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The house is quiet. Not even the slow drip of the icemaker in the fridge interrupts the silence. There was a time when I longed for quiet, but not today. Today, I am alone with my thoughts and I do not feel as if I am among friends. My anxious glance evaluates the room and drops to the floor. I notice the carpet might benefit from a brief relationship with the vacuum cleaner. The crumbs will still be there tomorrow, convicting me of a wasted yesterday. I wonder sometimes if I have a purpose beyond the walls of this house. Today I wonder. I wonder if my life makes a difference at all.

Oh, sure, to my family and some friends I matter. But when the house is quiet and there is really nothing pressing to do, this suburban housewife does not seem to have purpose. Well, I should probably clarify. The cold hard truth is that beyond the temporal, purpose is fleeting for any human existence. I cannot create nor sustain my own existence. Every breath is predetermined by some elusive power of Whom even the most brilliant of beings cannot fathom. And, yet, I breathe . . . in and out . . . day after day.

These are not the ramblings of a depressed woman . . . maybe an introspective student . . .  or an invisible mother, perhaps.

It is Christmas. I imagine the day after Thanksgiving, there must be a grand director who announces from the ecumenical throne, “Lights, camera, action!” and myriads of trained players upon the world stage scramble to play their parts. I don’t feel like playing today. The house is decorated in fashion with the Biltmore with three full sized Christmas trees this year and three inflatable animatrons entertaining on the front lawn and competing with the neighbor’s. Yes, we’re doing Christmas Texas style this year . . . big and gaudy. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that there seems to be something missing . . . something important.

Twice in the gospel of Luke there is reference to a pondering mother of Jesus. However, Mary is not wondering about her own life, but of the life and purpose of her son.

Every mother has a colorful birth story to tell, but none involve visits from angels and shepherds as for this 15 year old new mom. Mary considers the grand entrance of God’s son into the world in Luke 2:13-20.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14    “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Then again as Jesus grows and his passion for truth and his devotion to God is revealed, Mary considers the gradual revelation of his purpose in Luke 2:41-52.

41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. 43 After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

I try to imagine myself as Mary, watching the Creator of life grow in wisdom and stature from human child to man. I imagine the heart wrenching cries of a mother witnessing the cruel crucifixion of her first born.

And then it hits me…

I know it is not the first time I acknowledged this truth, but I have renewed clarity…a purification of sorts. My purpose is tied to His. I have purpose because He gives me value. Every breath I breathe is for His glory, not mine. It is as if someone lifted a weighty burden from my heart and mind. I am free!

Do you know what it is to be free? Try this, imagine yourself at the foot of the cross at Calvary witnessing the death of the most significant person ever to walk this earth. All of the major traditions of man recognize His existence and significance. Imagine His blood falling in droplets on the hair upon your head. Imagine His loving glance and His voice above you pleading, “Father, forgive them.” Now, is it possible for you to walk away unchanged?

Even vacuuming the floor has value when it is done for the glory of God.

(I wrote this last year and for some reason never published it. I hope you enjoy my ramblings.)

Obedience is evidence of faith. God’s call to the Israelite nation to trust and obey permeates the book of Joshua. To receive the promise, they must trust and obey; they must exhibit evidence of faith. When Israel trusts Yahweh, she triumphs regardless of the circumstances or however formidable the foe. God established Israel as a testament to the nations of His power and faithfulness.

“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all of the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:23-24

Whether we war against physical enemies of life and well-being, or we war with sin in a spiritual battle; the battle belongs to God. The victory is His. It is in the area of spiritual warfare that the book of Joshua is applicable for the church today.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Peter Kreeft wrote, “The life-or-death battles in the Old Testament, especially in this most warlike book, are apt symbols of the no less life-or-death spiritual warfare of the New.” While God gives us promises, He does not relinquish His people of responsibility. We are called to obey as evidence of our faith. God ties obedience to success in warfare. We learn much from this handbook of warfare:

1. The church has received a promise and a responsibility to partner with God in His Kingdom work to fight the good fight. Joshua 1:6 and 1 Timothy 6:12

2. Our enemies are defeated before us and God will cause Satan to flee as we resist him.. Joshua 1:5 and James 4:7

3. The Lord will be ever present for us and will never forsake us. Joshua 1:5 and Matthew 28:20

4. All who receive salvation are called to obedience. Joshua 1:8 and Hebrews 5:9

5. We receive blessings by grace through faith, including the blessing of salvation. Joshua 8:33 and Romans 4:16

Indeed, it was the call to trust and obey that were the last words of our savior before he ascended to the right hand of the Father.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

As believers we cross over from death (the Jordan) into life (the land of Promise). The Book of Joshua is a handbook of warfare to guide us as we continue to battle the enemy until we are called home. The book’s geographical and historical background show us how even as we live life, it is not our own. This is God’s story. Yahweh is salvation. As we imitate Joshua in his commitment to faithful obedience we too can experience victory in life as we are transformed into the likeness of the glory of Christ.

You do not want to miss this debate between Christopher Hitchens and Bill Dembski! Hope to see you there!

Hitchens vs. Dembski Debate

I love anything Matt Chandler has to say. This is a man who has earned the right to be heard.

Take 30 minutes out of your day to be blessed.

Video: 2010 SBC Pastor’s Conference.