Sunday, February 28, 2010

Serving Isn't Easy When the Cat is in the Tree

Sometimes service isn't easy, but it is always rewarding. I was reminded again of that last night.

At around 7:00 PM, I was completing a sermon for today. This is when I heard some noise from outside. Our neighbor's cat was stuck in a tree. Under normal circumstances, few people would have cared. However, several factors made this situation problematic. First, this is the one nice cat in the neighborhood. Everyone loves "Missy-Lea." Second, she is overweight and would have a difficult time getting down. Third, she was about 35 feet up a tree. And fourth, her owner said he thinks she had been up in the tree for about 24 hours. It was getting dark and cold.

My neighbor managed to get Home Depot to loan a 40 foot long ladder. The problem was how to get it to the tree. After pondering this for a while, I remembered that our church has a couple of old vans that might be long enough to transport the ladder.

Several of us piled into my car and drove to the church building. We jumped into the van and drove to Home Depot. I was pleased to find out that the ladder did, in fact, fit in the van (we did have to leave the van's back door open as the ladder stuck out the back about seven feet). It was interesting to drive through Savannah traffic in this situation. I was just hoping that no over-zealous cop would pull us over. I think we were legal, but I'm not certain.

We made it back to the house. At this point the scary part began. FYI - I don't like heights. Alice, my neighbor's mother, and I all held the ladder as he climbed about 35 feet into the air. I couldn't look. I was praying silently while my wife was praying aloud. Although the whole process of getting the cat down actually only took a minute or so, it seemed like a lot longer. I'm pleased to say that God blessed the entire situation. Missy-Lea is fine and so is my neighbor.

Then it was time to reverse our steps. First we had to put the ladder back in the church van. Then we traveled back into Savannah to return the ladder to Home Depot. Then it was back to the church building. Then, finally, we made it home - at around 9:00.

I'm glad I could help my neighbor, but it was not easy. Service has a tendency to be difficult and dirty. It is also often inconvenient. Despite this, it is certainly worthwhile.

My neighbor is not a Christian. I'm hoping that this act of service will give me the opportunity to share the gospel with him. At least he knows we care.

I thank the Lord for this unexpected opportunity. I'm glad that God sees fit to scare cats up trees.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"The Glorious Cause"

I recently enjoyed reading The Glorious Cause, a historic novel about the American revolutionary war.

Author Jeff Shaara begins just after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and tells the story of the war through the end at Yorktown. I've read several of Shaara's books; he is a master storyteller. Although the book is over 600 pages long, it is an easy and enjoyable read.

Shaara focuses primarily on the actions of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Nathanael Greene, and Charles Cornwallis. It is interesting to get inside the minds of these men.

If you enjoy history, this book will not disappoint.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Reminder of the Holiness of God

Leviticus 9:22-10:2 is an interesting bible passage to read without the chapter break. Twice we read of fire coming out from the Lord. These were for two very different reasons, but both are directly related to the holiness of God.
"Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."
This is a good reminder to us that we serve a holy God. Maybe we should spend more time on our faces.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Millennial Are You? Take the Quiz

Weird. I came out as a Millennial and not a Gen-Xer. My score was a 69 out of 100.

Take the quiz here. After you take it, tell me what you get.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Church Should Look Like an Emergency Room

Over the past couple of days I have spent several hours visiting folks in an emergency room (ER) at a local hospital in Savannah.

ERs strike me as leveling places. No matter how much money you have, what your educational level is, what your skin color is, etc., you still have to visit the ER once in a while. While I was visiting, I saw people of all ages, sizes, colors, economic levels, etc.

After looking around for a while, I was struck by the thought that churches should be like ERs. Two ways jumped out at me:

First, ERs serve, as I mentioned above, people of all kinds. Everybody comes to the ER. No one is turned away. The ER is probably one of the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-educational places in the country. Everyone gets sick, so everyone needs the ER once in a while. Churches should be this way. Churches ought to be places where people of all backgrounds, colors, ethnicities, occupations, and educations feel welcome. In fact, churches should be the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-educational places in the country. Alas, churches continue to be just about the most segregated places in America. This should not be.

Second, ERs don't turn people away. They don't tell people to get their acts together and then come back. ERs take people as they are, with all their pains, and treat them. They do all they can to comfort them and make them feel better. This is how churches should be. Churches ought to welcome everyone and help them no matter what their hurts. Churches can and ought to act as healing places - both physically and spiritually. However, we far too often give off the message (intentionally or not) that people need to "shape up and start living right" before they can enter our lofty doors.

What would we do if Jesus had come to save only certain people? What would we do if Jesus told us to get it together and then He would save us? We would have no hope.

Let us all be part of a people who act like an ER. Let us lead hurting people to the Great Physician.

My Parents' Excellent African Adventure Continues...

My parents have now spent about six months in Africa serving at Rift Valley Academy. Their adventure continues. Click here to see the latest about their recent trip across the equator.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic Crashes and Wipeouts

Just in case we needed a reminder that mankind is not perfect, the Olympics are here to help us. While many of the athletes are championed by the press as being god-like, the crashes and wipeouts of others show that they are all human.

In particular, I like the photo to the left. Yes, that is a two-man bobsled sliding along upside down. I'm glad they wear helmets.

Click here to view more royal mess ups.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On Learning From a Goose

Canadian Geese regularly visit our backyard. The reason for this is that our property backs up to a pond. We put a lot of birdseed in feeders and on the ground. We have squirrels, Muscovy ducks, and all kinds of song birds. These all stuff themselves as if in a race to see who can get the fattest. It is everyone for himself.

Not so with the Canadian Geese. They come into our yard in pairs. They eat the same way every time. One eats while the other stands and keeps guard. The one who is eating has nothing to worry about because the other is constantly looking around for possible threats. When the first one concludes eating, the other feeds. The full one then takes its turn standing guard.

Simply put, the Canadian Geese act as a team. They take care of their own needs and the needs of the other. Unlike the other animals, they don't focus only on self.

This could be a bit of a reach, but I think we could learn a great deal from these geese. Far too often we Christians focus on our own needs before the needs of others. This happens both inside and outside the church gathering. We are often only happy if we like all that is happening.

Wouldn't the church function much better if we acted like Canadian Geese? It would be wonderful if we all focused on the needs of others along with our own. Even better, what if we looked out for the needs of others before our own? What if we focused on looking out for and keeping watch over others? This would cause the church to be a truly united group of people living like the Lord Jesus wants us to.

I think Paul had something to say about this. Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Reading Blogs I Don't Agree With...

I am constantly adjusting my blogroll. The reason for this is that I'm torn between A) wanting to read many blogs and B) desiring to use my time wisely. The danger is that I'll end up only reading blogs I agree with.

When we only read people we agree with, we fall into the trap of only seeing a small part of the world. We are never challenged. We are left feeling comfortable. What good is this?

I would much rather read a variety of blogs that cause me to think about why I believe what I believe and why I live the way I live. If reading blogs causes me to be more biblical, then all the better.

If you read this blog regularly, you know the things I believe. You will get a healthy dose of bible, church, and family discussion. I lean toward the Reformed view of salvation and the Baptistic view of the church. As for family education, I'm an ardent supporter of homeschooling. Regarding politics, I'm an independent/conservative/Constitutionalist. Wouldn't it be dull to only read bloggers who believed exactly these same things?

So, I encourage you to read a wide range of blogs. Even read some folks who make you uncomfortable.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Knowing the Will of God for Your Life: It's Pretty Simple

Many Christians struggle with knowing God's will for their lives. I've got great news - the answer is simple. In fact, it's right here:

"Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37-39

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification..." I Thessalonians 4:3

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." Matthew 28:19

As Christians, we often make things far too complicated. We act as if God is hiding his will from us and we have to find it. That mindset is simply unbiblical.

God is clear. He expects us to love Him, love our neighbor, lead holy lives, and make disciples.

Let's do it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When Wealth Impairs Delight in Answered Prayer

We all know that our culture seeks ease and comfort. The assumption is that this comes through wealth.

However, wealth brings various complications and problems. Not the least of these is this: wealth impairs delight in answered prayer.

The wealthy, if they are not foolish with their money, always have enough money (at least for their needs, if not their wants). They are not put in a position where they have to pray for God to provide. They have enough on their own, so they do not need God to step in and take care of their needs. Because of this, they lose out on delight that comes when God provides in a mighty way.

For those who are not wealthy (by American standards), there will come various times in life when we have to rely on God to provide. Now, we should of course always rely on God's provision. I'm talking here, however, about those times when we pray to God to meet our needs or they will simply not be met. It is at these times that we tend to pray most fervently. This is also when God is set up to receive the greatest glory.

God provides. God gets the glory and honor. We get to take delight in this.

Alice and I live off of my pastor's salary plus tutoring that she does. We almost always have enough money, but we don't have extra. When there are months when a large need arises (van breaking down, new glasses needed, etc.), we sometimes just plain cannot pay it. When we pray at these times we know that God is going to have to make it happen. He always does. He always comes through.

When God does this, we get the thrill of taking delight in His provision.

The wealthy don't get to do this because they always have enough.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Absolutely Unimportant

Sorry to be negative, but here is yet another front page story (literally) about another monstrous church building. There may be a lot of fanfare, but this matters not the least in the Kingdom of God.

To make it a little worse, this one happens to be in my adopted home state of Georgia. Sigh.

I'd much rather hear how many needy people this church was serving food to and sharing the gospel with each week.

An Advantage to Preaching in the Arctic

What to Put on a Church Sign

Our church sign is a marquee. I'll admit that this has both its positives and negatives. The main positive is that it allows us to easily get the word out when we are having some sort of special event, concert, gathering, etc. The downside is that it is sometimes difficult to come up with good things to say.

It is easy to know what not to say. To learn more about that, click here.

As for what to say, the obvious thing is to put a bible verse on the marquee. The problem is that most verses are too long to fit on just three lines. Therefore, I often try to find verses that are short enough to place on the sign. My desire is for Christians to see the sign and be encouraged, and for non-Christians to read it and think about God.

Today I posted these two verses on the sign, "Taste and see that the Lord is good" and "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice." Unfortunately, there was no room on the sign for the references, but I'm hoping at least the Christians who read it will realize these are scripture quotations.

Do you have any ideas for other verses that might fit on a marquee? Let me know. Thanks.

Justification By Faith

My good friend, Micah Thornton, recently preached during one of our church gatherings. Micah spoke about justification by faith from Romans 4:1-8. It was a wonderful, encouraging reminder to me that my salvation is all of grace. I encourage you to go here to either read or listen to the sermon.

Thanks Micah!

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Amazing What Excites Us

It might snow tonight here in southern Georgia. This doesn't happen very often. In fact, in the ten years we have lived here we have only seen snow twice.

The fascinating thing to me about this is how excited people get over the chance of snow. There is almost a snow giddiness that goes on. People struggle to concentrate. Their conversations focus on little else. Kids learn nothing at school.

It is difficult to describe completely (especially by someone who grew up in western New York State and saw snow all the time), but there is what amounts to a palpable anticipation that frozen moisture is going to fall from the sky tonight.

I'm amazed by what excites us.

As humans, we get excited far too easily. We get excited by the New Year (even though it's just a man-made calendar), the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day (at least here in Savannah), various peoples' birthdays, anniversaries, Halloween, the beach, the mountains, a new president, a new TV, a new phone, Christmas (which has no place in the bible), various causes, new blog posts, etc., etc., etc.

We get excited over such human things - such things that matter little.

As Christians, I wonder why we are not more excited about Jesus Christ. Jesus is infinitely more valuable and unique than any made-man idea, concept, invention, or cause. Christ is more powerful, loving, holy, and just than any of these other things. And yet, Christians often act more down-in-the-dumps than secular folks. Instead of excitement, what I often see is boredom and/or depression.

I believe that the world would sit up and notice is followers of Jesus actually seemed excited about Christ. People are attracted when they see passion. All we have to do is look to the fans of Super Bowl teams. Saints and Colts fans sure looked like they were excitedly worshiping during the Super Bowl. And that was just a game!

How about a little excitement in our own lives? How about in our churches as a whole?

Let's act like we know the King of the universe on an intimate level. Let's act like we have been saved. Let's act like we have something real to be excited about.

If New Orleans Saints fans can get excited, then real saints should be uber-excited.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jesus is Better Than...

Yesterday I began teaching and leading a discussion through the book of Hebrews. What a joy!

Hebrews is so rich and full of depth and meaning. I feel like a novice as I approach the truths of this book. It is intimidating, but in a good sense if that is possible. I tremble (literally) as I look through the pages of the book.

In looking through Hebrews, we see the author (whoever it was) strongly encourage and exhort his mostly Jewish listeners to not abandon the faith during the increasing persecution they are facing. The reason he gives for not turning from Christ? It is simple and profound: Jesus is better than anything and everything else.

Jesus is better than angels, better than Moses, provides a better rest, has a better priesthood, offers a better priestly ministry, offers a better covenant, offers a better sanctuary, is a better sacrifice, gives better privileges, and even expects better lifestyles of His followers.

As he writes this book, the writer alternates between telling why Jesus is better and appealing to remain with the faith. He uses this pattern throughout the letter.

The part that is fascinating to me us this: we read about Jesus being better than other things that are already very good things. It's not as if Jesus is simply better than pagan religions, adultery, hatred, malice, strife, sorcery, etc. We are told that Jesus is better than a long list of things that are very good. Angels, for example, are very good. Moses was a great prophet and leader. The OT covenant and sacrifices were good things.

Jesus, however, far surpasses them all in His supreme value. We see this at the beginning of the book. In Hebrews 1:1-4, we learn a great deal about this amazing Son of God, who purged our sins, and yet now sits in the position of honor at God's right hand:
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."
I look forward to our journey through this wonderful look at the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things.

Wal*Mart Strikes Again

A few hours ago my wife was sitting in our van at a red light. With no warning, a Wal*Mart tractor-trailer struck the side of the van. Obviously, this could have been very bad. As the police officer said after the accident, "semis and cars do not go well together."

The van only has a few gashes and a broken side-view mirror.

I thank God that Alice is all right. Aside from being a bit shaken up, she is O.K. A few feet in a different direction, and I could be a widower right now. Praise the Lord for His great providence.

I was reminded again by all this that life is very precious. We should not take even today for granted. God does not consult us as to when our last day is. I pray that I will use each day to honor Him. I thank Him for another day with my wife.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Best Part of Sermon Preparation

This coming Sunday, I'm preaching on Matthew 15:1-9:
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" — then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"
In my opinion, the best part of sermon preparation is wrestling with what the author is saying. I'm referring to the process of trying to figure out what the author, in this case Matthew, meant when he wrote this.

I found the above text to be extremely difficult today. I wrestled with it for several hours. I had to take a few breaks in between. I feel worn out mentally, but I think (humbly, I hope) that I have finally figured it out.

I'm not suggesting that biblical interpretation is some sort of game or that the writers were trying to hide the meaning from us. Rather, God has given us a beautiful book that He expects us to think about and ponder.

Preaching the sermon is enjoyable, but wrestling with the text is even better.

This process is so enjoyable that I wish everyone in our church family would do it, too. In fact, I would be thrilled if, before we gathered together, everyone in our church read through the text, pondered it, and tried to figure out the author's meaning. I would also like to hear from other people what they think the author's main idea is.

I, as pastor, by no means speak ex cathedra. I make mistakes; I'll freely admit it. I even make mistakes in the pulpit. Therefore, I'd like to hear what others think about the preaching passage.

We would all gain by wrestling with biblical passages. If you don't know the original languages, don't fret it. Read several English translations.

It would serve the church tremendously if we all studied the text and then all shared with one another what we think it means. What a great blessing that would be to us as individuals and as church families.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Fifteen Favorite Photos

O.K., these aren't mostly photos (it just made for good alliteration in the post title).

Below are my fifteen favorite icons, graphics, comics, and photos that I have come across over the last few years. Some are funny while others are amazing. Some are just meaningful for their own unique reason. They appear in no particular order because that's how I found them. Feel free to use any of them on your blog (I assume you have one; if you don't, let's talk about that).

This one speaks for itself.

I like this one because of what it says on the bottom. Who knew Luther was a blogger?

This baby looks like a Baptist - he doesn't seem to want to be baptized yet. Look at his hand!

This icon shows the Lord's Supper as it should be. We see unity and simplicity in the one loaf and one cup.

We should all be certain our beliefs line up with the biblical gospel. This is a good reminder.

Erasmus was a man after my own heart.

I posted this silly one a few weeks ago. Why does a senior pastor get a special parking space? Shouldn't he be washing feet instead?

So easy to say and so hard to do.

This is an amazing photo of coral. Wow.


This is a real photo from the city where we served. That sign above the restaurant really does say that. At least they are honest about it.

Silly and funny.

A real photo of a stunning wave.

We visited the Taj Mahal in 2005. It truly is a massive work of art. This aerial shot gives a unique perspective.

This final one is a reminder to me to be thinking globally at all times.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology"

I've mentioned before that my favorite doctrine is the atonement. I suppose that is a little silly since all the doctrines fit together in one master story. Regardless, I love to think and read about Christ's perfect work on the cross.

A few years ago the T4G guys published a book called Preaching the Cross. That book promoted the idea that the cross of Christ should be at the center of our preaching. I couldn't agree more.

I just recently stumbled upon a sequel to Preaching the Cross which is entitled Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology. Like the first book, this text focuses on the cross. The difference between the books is that this one focuses more on the importance of preaching and teaching a theology of the cross.

This book was a good read. If you love the atonement, you will enjoy it. In my opinion, the chapter written by R.C. Sproul, entitled "The Curse Motif of the Atonement," is the high point.

The cross is the center point of Christian theology. This book gets it right.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Helping Plant Churches in Central New York State

I grew up in Western New York State. What I saw there was a region largely devoid of the gospel. In fact, most of the northeastern USA is like this. Although there were church buildings in every city and town, only a small percentage of those were proclaiming the biblical gospel. Even fewer were reaching out to their communities with the good news of Christ.

Even though I now live in Savannah, I remain burdened for the people of upstate New York. Because of this, I was pleased last year when our local association decided to partner with the Finger Lakes Baptist Association of central New York. Churches from Savannah will be traveling to New York on a regular basis to assist the churches there in reaching out to their communities. We will also be helping church planters in that association.

Just to give some perspective, the Savannah Baptist Association is made up of 75 churches in three counties. By contrast, the Finger Lakes Baptist Association covers eleven counties but has only 17 SBC churches. Many of these 17 churches are still in the church-plant stage.

This morning I was happy to attend the first of several organizational meetings for an association trip to central New York. The trip is scheduled for July 16th-24th. We will be primarily involved is two activities: construction and vacation bible school.

I look forward to this opportunity to meet people in central New York. I look forward to sharing the gospel with those who don't know Christ. I thank the Lord for this gift from Him to us.

Below is a short video about the Finger Lakes Baptist Association. The numbers are eye-opening.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God...

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 19:1
Click here to see the Hubble Telescope's greatest hits.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What We Believe Matters (Let's Just Not Be Arrogant About It)

What we believe matters.

In our postmodern society, the above simple statement is bothersome to many people. I'm not surprised at all when non-Christians dislike statements about the importance of beliefs. What increasingly disturbs me, however, is how many self-professing Christians no longer seem to think that well-defined beliefs matter. If you listen carefully, you will find that many Christians hardly know what they believe and do not want to talk about it.

If beliefs were not important, then why were we given such a large book? The bible contains 66 books that inform us a great deal about what we are to believe and how we are to live. If what we believe didn't matter a great deal, then Jesus could have just left us a little 10 page tract of some sort. As we know, He didn't do this.

I believe God has given us His large book to, in part, inform us as to what we should believe. I become more and more concerned everyday when Christians downplay the importance of beliefs by acting as if they don't really matter.

We must be careful here. When we discuss beliefs we need to define them as the bible does. When the writers of scripture inform us in what to believe, these beliefs almost always play out in how we live. Our beliefs direct how we are to believe and act toward God and neighbor. Beliefs, if they have only intellectual impact but do not affect how a person lives, don't mean much. For example, if a person believes in his head that he is to love his neighbor but doesn't actually do this, then his "belief" is worthless because it is not real. Or, if someone says he believes in the sovereignty of God over all things, but then fails to trust God when his life takes a turn for the worse, his stated beliefs are bogus.

Additionally, we must be careful what the implications are of our beliefs. For example, we must be careful about what beliefs would cause us to unite with or divide from others. As Christians, we often make one of two possible mistakes in this area. On the one hand, we often state our beliefs so strongly that we feel like we have to divide from other Christians who believe differently from us. The sad case of Christians dividing over infant vs. believer's baptism is an example of this. On the other hand, some Christians have such poorly defined beliefs that they will join together with people who do not even believe the basics of the gospel. Both of these are problematic.

So, what should we do?

First, let's voraciously study scripture, asking God to show us what to believe.

Second, let's hold strongly, yet humbly, to our beliefs.

Third, let's also admit that we can be incorrect. Let's be willing to be corrected by scripture.

Fourth, let's remember that real beliefs impact how we live.

Fifth, let's not divide from other Christians, but only over the gospel itself.

Atheism's Blank Message

Thrilled to Be in God's Hands

I'm relieved the world doesn't look like this:

I'm thrilled the world does look like this:

Hebrews 1:3 says, "...who (Jesus Christ) being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (emphasis added)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No TV and Still Not Missing It

When we moved into our house about a year ago, we decided that we would not get a cable TV subscription. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.

After a year, we have absolutely no desire to return to the world of cable TV. We do have a TV in our home, but we just watch videos on it that we own or get out of the library.

There are numerous benefits to jettisoning cable. For one thing, you end up with far more time than you had before. We may watch videos occasionally, but we don't feel the compulsion to flip on the TV to "see what's on." We feel freed from its yoke.

Having no cable TV gives us more time for better things such as added time with family. Also, we read more.

No cable leads to a simpler life with less distraction. During the week I often hear people in conversation about what is happening on American Idol or some other show. Looking in from the outside, it seems pointless. I'm thrilled to have no idea what is going on in those areas.

No cable also means that we don't have to worry about what our kids are watching. When we used to have cable, I'd find myself routinely diving for the remote control to either mute or turn off the TV. Now, my wife and I know exactly what our kids are watching. I'm too old for remote diving anymore.

Finally, Philippians 4:8 tells us this, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." This is a command, not a suggestion. Cable TV rarely offers shows that live up to these standards.

I highly encourage you to rid yourselves of cable TV. When you do, it may sting a little at first. However, after a month or so you will stop missing it. After a few more months, you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Just do it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

God Doesn't Believe in Atheists

I recently saw this bumper sticker on the back of a car. I know that it is nothing new, but it got me thinking (and chuckling).

First of all, the statement on the bumper sticker is true. We know this from Romans 1:18-20:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."
Second, atheism is an intellectually illogical position to hold. The reason for this is that only an all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent being could know for certain that God does not exist. Simply put, only God could know without a doubt that there is no God. However, God can certainly know that atheists do not exist. He knows this because He has made Himself obvious to them, so much so that they are without excuse.

Third, I wonder why we Christians so often get angry at atheists. If we really believe that we are saved only by the grace of God, then why do we get so upset when people who do not know God claim that He doesn't exist? Just because they deny the existence of God, this does not make it true. They have not (yet, we hope) been saved by God's grace. Instead of being so angry, why not love them?

Fourth, although no atheists actually exist, there are still plenty of people out there who either deny God's existence or just don't care about Him. If we approach people like this by trying to argue them into the kingdom, it is not going to work no matter how solid our arguments are. Instead, we should try loving and serving them. This kind of behavior is (sadly) shocking to them because they are usually shunned by Christians.

So, even though there are no real atheists, let's love and serve them anyway. Some might actually respond by listening and eventually believing.

I Think Jesus Can Save on His Own

While looking for images for another blog post, I stumbled upon this beauty. What a nightmare! If Jesus needs help from the USA to save people, then He's not much of a God. Thanks be to God that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient to save. We need to banish thoughts like the one below to the bible-belt trash bin.