Hebrews 13:8,9--Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.
Lawrence Krauss in his lecture, “Teaching Creationism is Child Abuse,” makes the statement that “Saying we shouldn’t offend religious beliefs by requiring kids to understand reality is child abuse. . . Evolution is the basis of modern biology.” Larry considers the teaching of creationism to be nonsense. Consistent with the age we live in, the more someone detests an opposing message the louder and more inflammatory are their charges.
Lamentations 3:37—Who is there who speaks and it happens, unless the Lord has ordained it?
Dr. Sebastian Gorka gave a fascinating presentation to a gathering of Army Reserve command teams in Alexandria, Virginia. His speech was entitled, “Understanding the Rise of ISIS and the Role of Religion in the Commander’s Area of Responsibility (AOR).” In the last 200 years, 460 wars were fought with 80% of them classified as unconventional. Dr. Gorka shared this fact to establish that we are badly mistaken if we think that conventional armies arrayed to do battle are the norm. Then he went on to explain why ISIS is so dangerous.
Meliorism is the belief that the world is getting better as a result of human effort. In 1913 this doctrine was extremely popular. Technology and improved living conditions led many influential people to the conclusion that utopia was attainable through the hard work of good people. What a shock they encountered when scores of nations went to war in 1914.
Imagine if a few influential leaders suggested that traffic lights are too restrictive. They offend a percentage of drivers who feel trapped and forced to conform to other motorists. Three-way lights are insensitive to the needs of the color blind and old fashioned. Either do away with them or give each driver leeway to determine whether to brake or accelerate. Of course, if this really happened there would be an outcry by safety-minded drivers for the ruckus and accidents that would ensue.
Recently I finished reading a book called Key To Yourselfby Venice Bloodworth. It was recommended to me by a very nice man who felt I would find it to be inspiring. What I found was that it was immensely dangerous. The book could be summarized in a four word sentence near the beginning of the book, “Psychology is the answer.” Published in 1952, the book is a primer for New Thought. Dr. Bloodworth’s contention is that we are all part of God and “your future is entirely under your own control.” What we need is to harness positive thinking which will then reap positive outcome. The reason we suffer ill fortune is because of the negative energy and thoughts we generate in our minds. “If the state of your health or finances is not all you desire, you must look within yourself for the cause.” Later she writes, “Ignorance of the existence and power of the subconscious mind is the cause of all failures and near failures in the world.”
Gray skies and cold temperatures framed my Sunday morning on the University of Syracuse campus. Determined to go to church, I walked to Hendricks Chapel in time to catch the 11:00 a.m. service. The building reminded me of a Roman cathedral with its large columns, balconies and great curtains. However, structural grandeur gave way to disappointment when I realized the student choir more than doubled the size of the few attendees. Their beautiful voices could not silence my discordant gnawing.
Have you ever met a scientist who was an agnostic or atheist? Chances are high that such a person may have seemed intimidating when it came to sharing faith in God because in this person’s view, religion is essentially unverifiable superstition. Scientific naturalists who suppose “science is the paradigm of truth and rationality,” believe in scientism.*
Kathleen and I drove from Houston to College Station. We were on our way to College Station to visit Texas A&M. We met COL Howe the Professor of Military Science and director of one of the largest ROTC programs in the country. Texas Aggies are known throughout the U.S. for their enthusiasm, patriotism and high performance. So I was more than a little surprised to learn that it is normal each year for 50% of the graduating ROTC cadets not to contract with the military. They spend four years engaged in military training and study, dress in their distinctive military uniforms, live in barracks steeped in military tradition and yet forego receiving a commission in the military. Incredible!
The doorbell rang and I answered it to find two young men well dressed and eager to speak with me. They wanted to see if they could visit with us. So I invited them in and Kathleen provided them something to drink.
Nadjya* came into our center to get food. As Bryan had her fill out forms, she shared she was mentally struggling. He forewarned me that she seemed kind of bizarre. I called her in and asked her questions to determine her financial and spiritual status. Essentially, a bout of pneumonia and lingering weakness caused her to miss enough work that she was in need of our help. I was surprised at how well her job paid. Most people who visit us make very little money or are in between jobs. I was also impressed with her faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness. She seemed to have a good grasp of the Bible.
Andre flew from Benin to join our First Cause team in Kenya. He is wonderful man who served for many years as a pastor before obeying God’s call to venture out in evangelism and a more open-ended ministry. Andre serves as the spiritual advisor to his nation’s president, a God-fearing leader. As such, God is using him to influence many important officials in his country. We were very blessed by Andre’s humility, contagious love for God, and the enthusiasm with which he embraced our disciple maker training.
Why did God scatter people across the globe and confuse their languages? The Scriptural interpretation for an offended God is often based on a literal reading of Genesis 11:4, “And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But why would God be angry with people for plotting to fabricate some skyscraping tower? I don’t know any stupid architects. No one can build anything that reaches heaven. Therefore, there had to be something about the purpose of the tower that drew God’s wrath. Marvin Rosenthal provides us analysis from his careful research.
You’ve no doubt heard someone say “All roads lead to God.” While the statement may be sincere and reflect a desire to be nonjudgmental, it reveals a great lack of judgment. To understand this one needs only to visit India where the prevailing religion is Hinduism and the overwhelming sensation is one of hopelessness. A country gifted with incredibly smart people remains mired in poverty, disease, and a resigned acceptance of chaos as normative.
Bad doctrine is like poisoned food. It may taste good. It may leave the stomach feeling full. But in the end, it will cause indescribable agony. Have you ever turned on your radio or television and heard a preacher promise you that if you will just put your trust in Jesus your troubles will leave you? Perhaps, you’ve been reprimanded as lacking faith because you continue to struggle with issues. Has anyone suggested to you that all you need to do is claim in Jesus’ name the solution you want and trouble will not visit you? Okay, so why did Jesus say,“ I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33)? Who was James writing when he penned, “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises” (James 5:13a)?
There is a tendency among those who call themselves Christians to belittle or make light of the convictions of people devoted to animate and inanimate objects. It is as if those who consecrate themselves to Mother Earth or who view themselves as gods are less genuine somehow in their convictions. It is in devaluing their convictions that we lose any right to be heard.
I spoke with a woman recently who was interested in moving to our city and getting involved in our church. She asked me many questions regarding our doctrine. Then the conversation narrowed to a discussion of Jesus Christ.