Showing posts from January, 2016

Learning Tolerance from Ben and George

In a post modern world devoid of Truth, the loudest voice always wins; and the shouting match has never been louder than the present. Christians and Secularists wage an ugly war against each other in which "civility" is a forgotten word. Propositional truth in a hyper-sensitive age is met with accusations of "Intolerance!" as if tolerance required full acceptance, promotion, and propagation of the other side's view.

It does not. Meet Ben and George.

Benjamin Franklin was a self-proclaimed deist, which is the belief of an impersonal God who does not interact with his creation. Franklin is most commonly known as a Founding Father of America and an elder statesman in the Constitutional Convention. He was a genius of a man who did a little bit of everything; Franklin was a: printer, scientist, inventor, politician, author...etc. More commonly today he is known for his likeness on the 100 dollar bill which in plural form can be known as "Benjamins."
George Wh…

3 Reasons to Read Old Testament

Do you ever start your favorite movie at the ending? Or maybe you begin an exciting book at its climax?
If you do, I would say that you have problems. No one in their right mind would watch the best parts of their favorite movies alone. Why? Because a movie is a story. The climaxes are not scenes that occur in isolation; they are built on foundations of character development and the sometimes laborious plot building. A climax is only as good as its beginning.
If beginnings and foundations are so important, how come we (or at least I) often do this with the Bible? We love the gospels and the stories of Jesus as we should. We love the accessible truth found in the epistles of Paul. It is easy, grace-filled, and foundational to what we believe and how we live. But the Old Testament, that is a little more difficult. There are books with names we cannot pronounce! The prophecies are confusing, the stories are filled with death and judgment, and all the laws are so legalistic. Why would we no…

Okay with Being Okay

Have you ever wanted to change the world? Make a difference? Such sentiments are particularly strong among my generation, but everyone understands them. We cry out for significance and to make something with the short life we have.
And unsurprisingly many Christians want to change the world. Our world and nation are both in bad shape. Believers long to be a conduit by which revival sweeps our land. Men pursue high ministries of preaching and teaching, with the hopes that their work counts for something eternal. Something that really makes a difference and impacts hearts for the Kingdom of God. Deep down I long to bring about such change. I itch to be a part of heaven’s work, for God to use me and for the fruit of my labors to be multiplied. I want to be about that! But what if God does not want me to be that grand agent of change for revival I desire to be? Would I be okay if that privilege fell to my friend, or someone else? What if instead I am called to a life of unseen servitude as…

Book in Review: "Here I Stand"

Though written over 65 years ago, Here I Stand is still widely read and is by many considered the best work on the life of Martin Luther. Though I have not read enough to make any such claim, I can say that this is an excellent biography written with a melodic prose that truly captures weight of Martin Luther.

Luther is a controversial figure. Demonized by his opponents and glorified by his followers, there seems to be little middle ground with the man. After all he was a revolutionary who did not mince words; an unstable maverick who shook the world in in the 1500s leaving us in the wake of the aftershock today. He went after popes and kings, monastic institutions and sacraments. But whatever your view on Luther may be, you cannot deny that He lived out of a deeply rooted conviction; a passion for God's Word that He subjected His life to. Luther believed in the primacy of Scripture so much that He translated that Bible into the German common tongue in order that all men and women …

Is God a Gentleman?

Have you ever heard someone say, "God is a gentleman, He will not force anyone to accept Him"? 

In a similar vein C.S. Lewis said in The Great Divorce (my favorite book of his)there are two kinds of people in the end: "Those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' or those to whom God says 'thy will be done.'" In the end everyone gets what they want--because God is fair. He stands at the door and knocks, and if anyone opens the door will he come into us (Rev. 3:20).

I agree there is a sense in which God appears a "Gentleman." From a human perspective it seems that He ultimately gives us what we want, and I think it can be a good and reasonable answer from an apologetic perspective. 

But if God were truly a gentleman, I am afraid that there would not be any Christians. Paul writes in Romans 3 about humanity's hopeless case:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have tu…

Guest Post: One Simple Truth

Today I am starting a "Guest Post" segment on the Ole' Homeward Bound Blog. Every few weeks I will share something one of you faithful readers writes to me. Today's feature is a brief word from my friend and former roommate, Jimmy Elsner:
How many times have you heard this phrase from a Christian pastor, teacher or leader?

“The Christian faith can be boiled down to one simple truth.”
I have heard this phrase stated many times but often with a variety of answers: Go and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15) Make disciples who make disciples (Matt 28:19) Abide in the vine and the fruit will follow (John 15:4) Love God, love others (Matt 22: 37-40) Walk in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25) Submit to transformation (Rom 12:1-2)

We want the gospel to fit neatly into a short catchphrase or blurb. It’s bigger than that. Slow down and take the time to let the whole Bible inform your Theology. It may not be the smooth, catchy presentation you hear from the pulpit, but it may be …

The Sin of Serving?

I read this from Oswald Chambers in the devotional My Utmost for His Highest (January 18) and have been thinking about it ever since:

"Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?"

Christian ambition is a good thing, and in our day and age I think we need more of it. We need to be earnest for the Kingdom of God and zealous for good works. Our churches need more passion for the gospel not less.

However, it has been said that the greatest temptations in life come from the truest realities. It is just like the devil to take all that is the highest and purest and twist it into…

2 Month Blogging Recap

Today marks two months of the blogging experiment my sister got me started on. Since I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head and also am in a transitionary period of my life, I started blogging as a timely way for me to process the things I am learning and articulate them through written words. Overall it has been a beneficial experience so far!

I have been satisfied with the response. In two months I have had a little over 2,000 views over 45 posts which comes to around 45 views a post. It's a start! The most popular ones tend to be on trending topics like my ones on Self Defense, the Christian Response to Refugees, and of course my Star Wars Review.

If you like what I write keep reading and sharing with others! You can subscribe by email on the right hand column, or you can keep up by clicking on my facebook shares. The majority of my posts are explicitly Christian, so if you are encouraged or challenged by something--pass it on. Not everyone will like it, some might …

Book in Review: "Spiritual Depression"

This classic collection of 21 sermons from the "Doctor" (as Lloyd-Jones is commonly referred to) is a timeless treasure trove of truth. Though perhaps incorrectly titled, the subject matter is just as relevant today (if not more) as it was when it was originally preached: How do we live this Christian life to the fullest?

The premise for this book comes from Psalm 42:11 where David cries, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God." What David has done in this verse is "taken himself in hand" as Lloyd-Jones says and preached to himself. David would not the allow himself to become the sum product of his feelings. He recognized the "downcast spirit" and proceeded to remind Himself of God and His goodness. We likewise cannot listen to ourselves (feelings, lies, burdens, the Devil) but must constantly proclaim to ourselves who …

Modern Christianity's Suicide

I remember once looking through a Pastors Catalogue. Within its pages were concealed an unimaginable abundance of tools: hundreds of Biblical commentaries, lexicons, preaching and teaching guides, Bible studies by the scores, linguistic computer programs. Books on: leadership, discipleship, marketing, finances, communication, counseling, personalities, marriage. If you could imagine information about anything even remotely related to ministry--you could find it in that catalogue. As I thumbed through the pages of that catalogue I remember thinking to myself, "What is the problem?" It is no secret that with nearly limitless resources the Western church is struggling to keep its head above water. It is not my intention to sound the doom and gloom alarm, but it seems that every year more data is added to the pile further confirming that Western Christianity is nearing its demise (see 2015 pew research here). In my generation in particular millions have long left the church and …

Why the World Hates Jesus

"The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil." John 7:7

Abrupt light after a deep darkness has a painfully blinding effect. When I was a kid, waking up in the morning was both a dreadful and difficult task (not much has changed since). My mom's solution then: turn the lights on. I definitely hated that, but it did get me up. Eventually. 

And that is why the world hates Jesus. You see the world loves darkness. It loves its sin and lives for its sin. Our world has so fallen in love with its idols that we have redefined our terms. Sin is no longer wrong--it is who I am; the true me. We do not just excuse sin; we promote it. What was once evil, is now my freedom. Today it seems that sin has lost a lot of its former subtlety and can be seen flaunted about, rejoiced in, and held high. 

We like our sin so much that if anyone threatens its existence there will be consequences. No one likes their idols being touched. When something consumes o…

Smelling the Roses with Mike

I have a friend named Mike. He has been a good pal to me over the last few years, and he has recently moved into town to work with my church. Mike is one of those "rare breed" guys, and if you meet him you will understand what I mean. There are really not too many people in the world like him. A Math/Business Major gone rogue Worship Leader, Mike is as unique as they come--and that is a good thing. Everybody likes Mike.

But one by product of Mike being a rare breed is that he takes his precious time--with pretty much everything. He takes his time putting his shoes on, he takes his time parking his car, he takes his time getting ready in the morning (his former roommates will affirm that). If his house was burning down I am convinced Mike would not pick up the pace to his morning routine; the guy just never is in a hurry. It is how Mike roles.
Compare that with me. My disposition is a little more relaxed than most, but when you have stuff to do--you got to do it. Let's go. …

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Opportunity Cost: The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

Did you know that you think about Opportunity Cost hundreds of times a day? In every decision you make your mind quickly processes all the multiple alternatives, and weighs the perceived outcomes of each alternative to decide which one is the best. We do this because in every decision we are always, by definition, giving something up. Sometimes the cost is something minor like giving up Frosted Flakes while choosing Minnie Wheats; and sometimes it is as major as moving your family to Kentucky, giving up family and stability.

Opportunity cost is the reason why making big decisions is so hard. If there was no “loss of potential gain from any other alternative” every decision would be easy. But the problem is that there are so many possibilities. With so many alternatives, and often good alternatives, by default there will always be much to lose when making decisions.
One of the reasons peo…

The Crucible of Failure

If anyone was going to save the Union from the calamity of the Civil War it was George B. McClellan. Admitted into West Point two years before the age of eligibility and graduating second in his class, the “Savior of the Union” was the cream of the crop. McClellan became one of the most powerful men in the world as he was given the second highest rank of general in the United States Army, at the ripe age of 34. He was a supreme military organizer and an incredibly gifted administrator. And he knew it. McClellan did not lack in training, nor did he lack in self belief. There was almost a divine destiny about him as McClellan wrote His wife “God has placed a great work in my hands…I was called to it, my previous life seems to have been unwittingly directed to this great end.” Desperate times called for a “man of destiny,” and the stars seemed to align for George McClellan. The papers loved him, his own troops adored him, and the President himself said that he would “hold McClellan’s hors…

The "Fluffy" God

Many of us prefer a fluffy version of God. We embrace His loving attributes along with His goodness and His grace. To many of us, “21st Century God” is a little more politically correct. He has manners just like us. He is accepting of people, and much of the Old Testament version (with its wrath, holiness, and judgment) is glossed over and neglected.

Jesus also is portrayed as a soft spoken, “feminized version” who is limited to holding children in his lap and carrying white lambs over his pristine shoulders. This Jesus seems to be incapable of offense, or throwing tables over in the temple. He is nonviolent, He loves all people, He includes all lifestyles, and His most popularized quote is “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

But we do not just embrace a nice God and a pleasant Jesus, we also embrace a small God. One that is manageable and a little more comfortable than the Biblical pictures. We miniaturize Him to fit into different departments of our life where He can help. “Portable God” i…