Walking by faith – what does that actually mean? No matter how much reason is applied to the Bible and the decision to follow this man named Jesus, there is a measure of doubt and faith involved. After all, I cannot physically see Jesus and question Him. I cannot question God directly about some of the atrocities in the Old Testament. No matter how much logic and reason, at some point you have to choose to step out and follow Jesus in faith that He is the Messiah, or walk away in faith, or reasoning, that Jesus is not the Messiah.
Walking in faith does not mean you have no doubt, but it means that despite the doubt you will follow Jesus. You have reached a point where you are comfortable enough with a reasonable degree of proofs that you are willing to walk in faith after Jesus. Which will you do today? While you think about that question, listen to Jeremy Camp sing Walk by Faith.
“No ethical theory – no set of human ideas of any kinds – is flawless. That does even for ethical theories that base themselves upon scripture and religious tradition. Christians should expect to find weaknesses in any theory or theology that has developed out of their religious tradition.”
David Clough and David Stiltner have produced a wonderful work dealing with the issues of pacifism and just war theory in a way that is not restricted to the philosophical realm: Faith and Force: a Christian Debate about War” combines philosophy, theology, historical examples, and a healthy debate between the two authors to make this text not only challenging and informational, but also relevant to the current situations in the world. This is a unique work in its particular field.
While their foundational information about pacifism and just war theory is helpful, it is actually quite mundane. This information is quite typical of the points you will find in most texts that address this topic. Where they break differently is they both acknowledge that neither position holds all the answers and that the extreme of either position is at fault for being myopic in its view.
The real reward to this book is when the reader reaches the chapters which address historical events, both old and new, and then debate the application of the positions citing both areas of excellence and areas of failure. This is where real learning happens as it forces the reader to step beyond the ease of simple, shortsighted answers and look at the long term consequences of choices which were made. The debate between the authors in this section was excellent and provides a healthy example for replication.
In critique, these authors view of the United Nations (UN) seems a bit unrealistic. While both authors agree there are difficulties in the UN making its responses over the years uneven, they have a belief that the UN is the best option to prevent atrocities from happening and making use of force decisions for the world at large. This is quite unrealistic as the UN is for the most part an impotent force in the world which accomplishes little. This is evidenced by the inaction of the UN in Rwanda and Darfour. The political bureaucracy in the UN is just as corrupt as its member nations and to think it can make life and death decisions is overly generous.
If just war and pacifism is a topic of interest for you, this is a must add for your book shelf. If you pastor near a military installation you should consider this book. It will help you approach these difficult topics with your congregants. Clough and Stiltner have given us a great work. It is a tool of growth if you are willing to approach it with an open mind.
 David L. Clough and Brian Stiltner. Faith and Force: a Christian Debate about War. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2007). 221
I attended my first baby shower this weekend. This may not be new to many of my readers who are men, it was new to me. It was fun experience and quite entertaining. I really feel I needed to blog about the experience because it was very unique and I feel there is a great benefit for the men to be there.
One of the interesting things about having a baby shower where men are welcome is the husband is there next to his pregnant wife. Each is present to see their support network, many of which they may not have even realized were behind them. This is important. Baby showers without men there will typically exclude the father. That leaves the father feeling alone and that there is little help out there for him if he needs it. Whereas the mom in those cases gets to meet a roomful of support – this creates an imbalance in their marriage and parenting because they have different knowledge of the help there is there for them. So, to include both husband and wife is the right thing to do.
There was a group of us men who happened to sit near each other. Turns out we were all “first-timers” for a baby shower. We all were quite confused. But we learned and played along. The future grandfather even won a wax warmer. He was not sure what it was for. We “first-timers” decided you could melt chocolate in it to dip marshmallows or cookies in. We were then informed they make your house smell nice when you use it with the scented wax. I think melting chocolate in it would make a house smell good too. Why do I mention this? I shared this because it was a wonderful opportunity for the men to learn some new things. We asked a lot of questions. But most importantly, we enjoyed the occasion.
Now there was one thing which was quite confusing. We played a cloths pin game. Each person wore a cloths pin and if you said the word “baby” the person you were talking to could take your cloths pin. The person with the most at the end of the party won. That confused me. We were all there to celebrate this new baby (there goes a cloths pin) and see all the baby (and another one) cloths, and baby (and another) toys. Well, you get the idea. I made the decision early on to just try to keep my cloths pin. That didn’t happen. At the end of the gifts, there was a thing people were asking what it was and I called it a “baby bag.” This kind lady in front of me spun around, pointed her finger at me, and went “oh! Cloths pin!” I had no clue what had happened. I had to have it explained to me. The moral of this story: You may not understand everything, but have fun playing along.
All of this rambling is to say this: I was honored to have been invited to the event. While I felt like a fish out of water at first, I found many fish out of water there. Each of us had a wonderful time. And most importantly the young parents saw there were men and women, many of them, who support and love them. Who will be there for them, and are honored to share their excitement with them.
To the future mom and dad, may God bless each of you in your new role and bless your child. Remember there are many who are praying for you. No matter how tough it gets you are not alone. And thank you for allowing us to be part of this with you.!
How bad do you want to search out God? Are you available for Him? Many times we talk about how God is not there when we need Him, but are we really looking for Him as He is or as we expect Him to be?
We need to learn to find contentment in the presence of God. When times are tough, or downright miserable, He is still present. Be content in that presence. When celebrating the greatest moments of our lives, remember He is present. Be content in His presence and not in your victory. The one consistent thing in our lives is God’s presence.
Celebrate along with David Crowder as he sings “My Beloved.”
With the event in Arizona regarding the law their governor vetoed and all the court cases regarding the defense of marriage laws I got to thinking about the cost of all of this. Please let me lay out my assumptions for you first.
My first assumption is the Arizona governor was going to veto that law from the moment it was conceived.
My second assumption is the Supreme Court of the United States will one day, soon I imagine, rule the LGBT community has the same right to marriage as heterosexual couples.
My last assumption is many will be angry with one, or both, of my other two assumptions and others will be quite happy with them.
Now that I have laid out these assumptions I have to ask a question: How much money will be spent making, lobbying, advertising, and defending these laws? I cannot say I have an exact number. I imagine it is a number which is so absurd that I would be raving angry by now. But for now, I will say it must be a small fortune.
Now I will ask a different question: What can that money buy?
According to Blood:Water Mission, it costs $3000 for a new well.
Sponsoring a child through Compassion International costs only $38 a month, or $456 per year.
I can go on and on, but the reality of it is this money could be better used to change the world instead of holding it back from the inevitable. We could build schools and community centers, fund Meals on Wheels, enhance mental health care; we could pour it into suicide prevention. Do I need to go on?
This is the bottom line in my eyes: As Christians, we are not called to do battle in the courts or expect the politicians to enforce Christian morality. In a way, I think Jesus had very little time for those who were looking to do those things. What I did see Jesus doing was reaching out to the hurt and hungry, the widowed and the orphans. He was caring for people at the grass roots level. He made a change one person at a time.
The Church needs to start reflecting on the Jesus they follow. Are we following the counterfeit Jesus or the real Messiah?
What can all that money buy?
My post today is to refer you to someone else’s blog. I am a huge Johnny Cash fan. His imperfect voice and unique guitar sounds combine with his life experiences for a wonderful listening experience. A blog I follow, Experimental Theology, (http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/) is written by Richard Beck. He is an Abilene Christian University professor who has a way of writing about things that get just enough under your skin to make you reflect on why you feel the way you do. That is why I follow his blog – to keep challenging me to think.
Beck is currently posting an amazing series he has titled, “The Theology of Johnny Cash.” If you are a fan of Johnny Cash or theology, it is worth your time. Today’s post is Part 6 in the series. I encourage you to start at Part 1 and work through them in order. They are excellent reading and really make you reflect on the social aspect of our faith – the practical part of our theology.
Richard Beck, thank you for taking the time to do this series. Maybe we would be fortunate enough to see this be your next book. Can we be that lucky?
Today is a video of the David Crowder Band singing “How He Loves Us.”
As you listen to this song and watch the video, I would like you to think of just how much God values you. In our life, if may not always seem like we are valued or loved. And in the earthly sense, that may seem to be a reality. Yet, when everyone fails us, God does not. He loves us and is there in those dark moments, even when it appears He has abandoned us. Cling to this love of God.
I remember in high school my track coach thought I would make a wonderful hurdler. He felt my endurance, combined with my height, would make me a sure star. What he did not consider was my lack of flexibility and coordination. My method of running the hurdles was to kick each one over as I ran to it. No effort to run over it, just running through it. I broke several hurdles that way. And shortly thereafter I was back to running the 400 meter again. I was faster that way – no hurdles in my way needing to be knocked over.
That old story seems quite a bit like life. No matter what our task is, hurdles will appear. Most planning includes preparations for dealing with hurdles. Yet, every now and then, hurdles just appear in front of you for no particular reason. How a person handles these unexpected hurdles tells you much about their character. Does the person panic and begin behaving erratically? Maybe they step back, measure the hurdle, and work with the new circumstances with little notice. And the funny thing about these hurdles is no two are alike. Each must be approached differently.
I have to deal with this just as everyone does. I cannot say I am always the best example how to handle these things. But I strive to be. It takes work and self-discipline to do this. What am I getting at today? Prepare for the hurdles in your life. Expect the hurdles to come. These two things will help you respond to hurdles instead of reacting to them.
Last week I was in Minnesota for a workshop. When I got there it was cold. First morning as I headed out of the hotel it was a whopping -11 without the wind chill factor; the second morning it was -4. While this may seem like an improvement, I realized it was not. The two temperatures, although they were seven degrees apart, it was still too cold to stand. As I scraped the windows on my rental car ice built up on my mustache. It was bitter cold.
While driving to class I realized that is how we look at sin. We rank our sins as which one is worse than another. In a way we put numerical values on our sin. As long as our sin is not as bad as the next person, we are good with it. The problem is, just like those two bitter cold temperatures, they are equal. Cold is cold, just like sin is sin. Our perceptions of each may be skewed, but the reality of them is not. As long as we rank our sin, we cannot make confess it and start healing from it.
Today, we need to make a conscious effort to acknowledge our sin as sin. Don’t rank it amongst others sin, but just say it is sin. When you do this, you acknowledge it is wrong. In other words, you acknowledge and confess it as sin. Once that happens, then healing and repair can occur. This is the process of restoration that is a lifetime journey for each of us.
Today, acknowledge and confess.
I chose to connect last Friday to this Friday both in theme and musician. We are visiting about God again with the help of the David Crowder Band singing “Oh Great God Give Us Rest.” Just like we looked at last week, God is Holy. He is greater than anything we know of. He has commanded us to take rest.
This is a particularly important concept in our society. We work, work, work. I know a person whose job can bring a demand upon him to work for one month straight. Barring bad weather, that means for thirty days straight he would be at his job, which requires physical labor day in and day out. No rest. While that is an occasional thing for him, for many it is close to the norm.
God has told us to take a Sabbath each week. All He asks is for us to surrender one day per seven to rest and glorify God. For most of us, Sunday is the Sabbath. But what is you work on Sundays like many firefighters and law enforcement officers do? Then chose one of your days off and treat it as the Sabbath. In other words, honor the Sabbath and rest.
Focus again on God’s glory and finding a way to honor the Sabbath. Worship Him!