Monday, December 7, 2009

The Gospel Tells Us What Questions We Should Be Asking...


Trevin Wax nails it:

I am uneasy saying, “Answer the questions of the culture” and leaving it at that. Why? Because this impulse can reduce the gospel to a mere response to whatever questions our culture puts forth. In the end, we let others frame the question, while we seek to fit the gospel into that cultural framework.

But what if the culture isn’t asking the right questions?

What if the culture has so downplayed the idea of guilt that a biblical understanding of sin has all but disappeared?

What if the people in our society refuse to grapple with the fact of their own mortality?

The gospel does not just morph and adapt depending on the culture. Instead, the gospel is culture-creating. The gospel does not merely answer the culture’s questions. It includes those answers, yes. But it also creates a culture of its own… a culture that leads to other fundamental questions.

So the gospel provides us with not only the right answers to the world’s questions, but also the piercing questions the world does not want to deal with. The gospel tells us what the world should be asking.

As witnesses to the gospel, we can and should seek to answer the questions of the culture. But we must go further – pointing people to the right, biblical questions that they may not have thought to ask. We are called not to fit the gospel into our current cultural framework, but to challenge the cultural framework with the earth-shattering, death-defying news of a risen King.
Read more.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Around the Web

    Washington Post: Real Unemployment Rate in US is 17.5%: The official U.S. unemployment rate in October rose to 10.2 percent from 9.8 percent in September, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. But the truer measure of unemployment -- a total count of everyone who should be working full time but is not -- hit 17.5 percent in October, the highest level in modern times.

  • All Crisis, All The Time. The American Addiction to Overreaction. The Weekly Standard says, "We seem to have fallen in love with crises, and the more crises we find the more animated we seem to be. We are immersed in a Crisis of Crises, replete with illogic, a surfeit of emotion, and strings of events vying for crisis status."

  • Do you believe in guardian angels? Randy Alcorn does, and gives some biblical reasons to think so.

  • You'd think that the President would care about this: Abortion kills more black Americans than the seven leading causes of death combined, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2005, the latest year for which the abortion numbers are available.

The "missing link" is, well, not a missing link...

Same song, 7134th verse [**yawn**]...


You may have missed this retraction. If so, don't worry. It was easy to miss it. There wasn't nearly the fanfare circulating around the correction as was made around the giddy announcement. Here's the scoop from the AP with the headline: "‘Missing link’ primate isn’t a link after all: Ida is as far from monkey-ape-human ancestry as primate can be"
NEW YORK - Remember Ida, the fossil discovery announced last May with its own book and TV documentary? A publicity blitz called it "the link" that would reveal the earliest evolutionary roots of monkeys, apes and humans.

Experts protested that Ida wasn't even a close relative. And now a new analysis supports their reaction.

In fact, Ida is as far removed from the monkey-ape-human ancestry as a primate could be, says Erik Seiffert of Stony Brook University in New York.
Well, alrighty then.

Hmmm...what kind of lessons do we learn about Ph.D's in this area? The media? Does this inform the way you view dogmatic 'scientific' announcements on the subject?

Just asking....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some ruminations in light of recent conversations....

Questions are good if they are employed in the search for truth, but they can also be endlessly employed in the evasion of truth as well.
"To be sure, an open mind is a good thing. But a mind is open only as long as it is closing in on truth." ~ from Reinventing Jesus

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stating the obvious (or what should be)...Christianity, Religious Pluralists, & Intolerance

In the USAToday, opinion columnist Tom Krattenmaker has an interesting piece called, "And I Like To Thank God Almighty." Seems he's a bit miffed about evangelical Christians [insert "join the club" here]. Oh, he has praise for many of them and the way they comport themselves. But there's that little problem with Christianity that they preach that he doesn't like.
"If their take on God and truth and life is the only right one — which their creed boldly states — everyone else is wrong."
Of course, Krattenmaker thinks this is perfectly unacceptable in our pluralistic society--you might even say it is the unforgivable sin of religious pluralism.

But what he and other folks who hold similar views can't seem to get is their own bigotry, defined of course as an intolerance towards other's beliefs and opinions. What makes this sort of bigotry especially deceptive is that it masquerades as being open-minded, tolerant, self-evident. He laments that evangelical Christians have "little appreciation for the beliefs of the rest of us," all the while SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS the fact that he has little appreciation for the beliefs of evangelical Christians. Ahem, physician, heal thyself.

Let's hit the ball back into their court by restating his central assertion this way:
"If their (Krattenmaker & other so-called religious pluralists) take on God and truth and life is the only right one--which their [pluralistic] creed boldly states--everyone else is wrong."
But being blinded by his own zeal, Krattenmaker can't see is that when they say, "There can't be one religious truth, and Christians--quoting Jesus--are wrong [John 14:6]," that itself is a religious belief and an arrogantly smug claim to knowledge. IOW, Krottenmaker et.al. are saying that they perceive more of reality than all the religions of the world, and so they can make the audacious claim that they know more of ultimate reality than, say, Christians, Jews, or Muslims."

And make no mistake about it, Krattenmaker believes so strongly in rightness of his viewpoint that he is zealously preaching it from the nation-wide pulpit of The USA Today. He's evangelizing trying to win converts to his own narrow and arrogant viewpoints. Or to put it the way we like to in the West, he's shoving his views down everyone else's throats.

It's better if we'd all get off our high horse and just admit that we all are exclusivists. We all believe that our views are correct. The better question is to ask, "How shall we then live?" "How do we get along?" Which worldview / philosophy / religion provides resources for dealing with those who are different?

As for me, I'm sticking with the resources provided by Jesus who prayed for, welcomed, and laid down his life for his enemies. Anybody got a trump for that one?

Related Posts:
*A Conversation About Christianity & Exclusivity

*Check out Penn's thoughts on the subject (& he's an atheist & no friend of Christianity!):
"I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward–and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself–how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Through thick & thin....

Psalm 16:8, "I have set the Lord always before me...."

The faithful Christian,
"...whether he abound in wealth or be pinched with poverty
whether he be of high or low degree in this world
ought continually to have his faith
and hope surely built and grounded upon Christ
,
and to have his heart and mind
fast fixed and settled upon him,
and to follow him through thick and thin,
through fire and water,
through wars and peace,
through hunger and cold,
through friends and foes,
through a thousand perils and dangers,
through the surges and waves of envy,
mailice, hatred, evil speeches, railing sentences,
contempt of the world, flesh, and devil,
and even in death itself,
be it never so bitter, cruel, and tyrannical,
yet never to lose sight and view of Christ,
nevert to give over faith, hope, and trust in him
."

~ Robert Cawdray, cited in Spurgeon's Treasury of David

Monday, October 12, 2009

Joshua Harris: Hold That Thought, God. Need to Check My Email

Filed under: "Note to Self"
-----
Joshua Harris: "I think a lot of us we could rephrase the words of Proverbs 24:33-34 about the sluggard and say, "A little web surfing, a little Facebook, a little folding of the hands around the smart phone and spiritual poverty will come upon you like a robber."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stranger Know Thyself

In his book, Lost in the Cosmos, the late Walker Percy asks,
"Why is it that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos--novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes--you are beyond doubt the strangest?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flickr Favorites: Ballooning over Yangshou

Book Review: Liberal Fascism

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great read of intellectual history. Defining fascism as essentially "a religion of the state", Jonah Goldberg traces core liberal ("progressive") commitments as well as those of liberals-masquerading-as-conservatives. In the process, he traces the thread that runs through the politics of Hitler & Mussolini, Woodrow Wilson, FDR & the New Deal, Kennedy, Johnson, as well as George W. Bush ("when somebody hurts, the gov't has got to move" & his 'compassionate conservatism'), Pat Buchanan, Hillary, and everybody's favorite, Obama.

Most people react emotionally to such a claim b/c fascism is usually associated with Hitler & Mussolini & their atrocities, but what is forgotten is the praise given to these leaders by the West before their atrocities. "Before the war, fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement...". Faciscm is a totalitarian political religion, and the mood at the beginning of the 20th Century was for social engineering, complete in some instances with eugenics, racial profiling, 'family planning,' moving beyond Christianity, etc. For example, the title of the book comes from HG Wells, who told the Young Liberals at Oxford in a 1932 speech that progressives must become 'liberal fascists' and 'enlightened Nazis.' It's hard to imagine anyone saying that after the war.

My view, all governments tend toward totalitarianism unless something prevents it from going there. In the absence trust in God, folks will trust in the nanny state for cradle to grave love & care & security. In other words, totalitarianism, or a holistic approach where nothing falls outside the realm of regulation--from what you eat to what you say to what you believe. In America, it takes the form of a 'smiley-face' fascism. As Goldberg contends,
"If there is ever a fascist takeover in America, it will come not in the form of storm troopers kicking down doors but with lawyers and social workers saying, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.""
And again,
"...in America, where hostility to big gov't is central to the national character, the case for statism must be made in terms of 'pragmatism' and decency. In other words, our fascism must be nice and for your own good."
Goldberg closes with a quote from CS Lewis:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Overall, a good read & well documented. I learned much that I never even remotely learned in the university. In fact, when you read this book, everything going on in today's politics at the federal level becomes crystal clear.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Discipleship: Bridge or Dead-end

"Discipleship must always be discipleship-in-movement-to-the-world. The disciple who will not lay down life for the world and for the Gospel of reconciliation is not worthy of being a follower of Jesus Christ."
"Far too often mission is relegated to one of those 'wishful thinking' categories that we hope to get to some day in our ministry. The newer third-world churches are supposedly not ready to engage in mission on their own until they reach a certain level of maturity...Meanwhile the North American and European congregations often relegate 'mission' to the leftover category, with the internal necessities of congregation and membership receiving higher priority. Mission calls us to radical reexamination. If mission is part of the essence of the Church's nature as the body of Christ and the people of God, then it ought to be at the top of the list."
And I love this quote of Johannes Blauw's in The Missionary Nature of the Church...
"There is no other Church than the Church sent into the world, and there is no other mission than that of the Church of Christ."
And again,
"If one wants to maintain a specific theological meaning of the term mission as 'foreign mission,' its significance is, in my opinion, that it keeps calling the Church to think over its essential nature as a community sent forth into the world. Seen in that light missionary work is not just one of its activities, but the criterion for all its activities.... It is exactly by going outside itself that the Church is itself and comes to itself."

"Collision" : Atheism vs. Christianity


I'm really looking forward to this documentary being released later this month. The new bad boy of atheism, Christopher Hitchens, & Doug Wilson, began writing about the topic, "Is Chrisianity good for the world?" Then they took their conversation to the streets. Both are capable evangelists for their religion.
SYNOPSIS
COLLISION carves a new path in documentary film-making as it pits leading atheist, political journalist and bestselling author Christopher Hitchens against fellow author, satirist and evangelical theologian Douglas Wilson, as they go on the road to exchange blows over the question: "Is Christianity Good for the World?". The two contrarians laugh, confide and argue, in public and in private, as they journey through three cities. And the film captures it all. The result is a magnetic conflict, a character-driven narrative that sparkles cinematically with a perfect match of arresting personalities and intellectual rivalry. COLLISION is directed by prolific independent filmmaker Darren Doane (Van Morrison: To Be Born Again, The Battle For L.A., Godmoney).


OVERVIEW

In May 2007, leading atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson began to argue the topic “Is Christianity Good for the World?” in a series of written exchanges published in Christianity Today. The rowdy literary bout piqued the interest of filmmaker Darren Doane, who sought out Hitchens and Wilson to pitch the idea of making a film around the debate.

In Fall 2008, Doane and crew accompanied Hitchens and Wilson on an east coast tour to promote the book compiled from their written debate titled creatively enough, Is Christianity Good for the World?. “I loved the idea of putting one of the beltway’s most respected public intellectuals together with an ultra-conservative pastor from Idaho that looks like a lumberjack”, says Doane. “You couldn’t write two characters more contrary. What’s more real than a fight between two guys who are on complete opposite sides of the fence on the most divisive issue in the world? We were ready to make a movie about two intellectual warriors at the top of their game going one-on-one. I knew it would make an amazing film.”

In Christopher Hitchens, Doane found a celebrated prophet of atheism. Loud. Funny. Angry. Smart. Quick. An intimidating intellectual Goliath. Well-known for bullying and mocking believers into doubt and doubters into outright unbelief. In Douglas Wilson, Doane found the man who could provide a perfect intellectual, philosophical, and cinematic counterpoint to Hitchens' position and style. A trained philosopher and and deft debater. Big, bearded, and jolly. A pastor, a contrarian, a humorist--an unintimidated outsider, impossible to bully, capable of calling Hitchens a puritan (over a beer).

It was a collision of lives.

What Doane didn’t expect was how much Hitchens and Wilson would have in common and the respectful bond the new friend/foes would build through the course of the book tour. “These guys ended up at the bar laughing, joking, drinking. There were so many things that they had in common”, according to Doane. “Opinions on history and politics. Literature and poetry. They agreed on so many things. Except on the existence of God.”

Should make for some good viewing and discussion.

For more info, check out the website here.

Brought in to be sent out...

I'm reflecting on this quote and the best way to get God's people to buy in to their calling to be God's missionary people:
"The Church is not an exclusive club of privilege, neither is it a place to rest from our labors. We have been brought in so that we may gather others into this Kingdom of Grace."

Chapter 4 of this book includes a discussion of "The Essence of the Local Church in Historical Perspective," and speaks about the traditional reformational marks of the church (word, sacrament, & doctrine) and casts those in light of a missional reading of the four attributes of the church (one, holy, catholic, & apostolic). Then concludes with these thoughts...
"What is the Church? It is the unifying [one], santifying [holy], reconciling [catholic], and proclaiming [apostolic] activity of Jesus Christ in the world. Mission cannot be something separate from or added to the essence of the Church. The essential nature of the local congregation is, in and of itself, mission, or else the congregation is not really a Church."
"Notice that this description is a far cry from saying that 'everything the church does is mission.' What the church does internally with no intention of impacting the world outside of itself is not mission. But when a local congregation understands that it is, by its nature, a constellation of missional activities, and it intentionally lives its life as a missionary body, then it begins to emerge toward becoming the authentic Church of Jesus Christ."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why are some things bad and some things good?

I'm enjoying a re-read of Tim Keller's excellent book, The Reason for God.
"People still have strong moral convictions, but unlike people in other times and places, they don't have any visible basis for why they find some things to be evil and other things good."
It seems I have this conversation over and over again (& btw, it's a conversation I enjoy having), but why do people who say they do not believe in God continue to make moral judgments and evaluations? It is inevitable that they do, but I want to know the basis for why they make these statements.
"If there is no God, then all moral statements are arbitrary, all moral valuations are subjective and internal, and there can be no external moral standard by which a person's feelings and values are judged."
The most anyone can say is, "To me, murder, rape, racism, bigotry, etc., is wrong, but they may be right for you. My personal opinion has nothing to do with you so please ignore me."
"If a premise ("There is no God") leads to a conclusion you know isn't true ("Napalming babies is culturally relative") then why not change the premise?"
As Dostoevsky said through a character in The Brothers Karamazov, "If God does not exist, then all things are permissible."

Problem is, even though people want to say this, they can't live that way. Even Bertrand Russell, the great existentialist who said that there is no such thing as right or wrong, couldn't live by that creed b/c he objected to the World War on moral grounds.

So again, why not change the premise?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading the Bible Missionally


My friend, Shawn, sent me this link on a new series of blog posts discussing "Reading the Bible Missionally." Looks like this is right up my alley. I look forward to this discussion.
“It is not enough, however, just to say that mission has a solid biblical foundation, we also need to see that the Bible has its roots in mission. That is, the Bible is the product of God’s engagement through God’s people in God’s world for God’s ultimate purposes for the nations and the world…So from beginning to end, the Bible is missional, by its very existence and by its comprehensive message. Mission then has to be a prime hermeneutical key for our own Bible reading and teaching.” [Quoting C.Wright's The Mission of God]

C.S. Lewis on “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?”

"There is no half-way house, and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him, ‘are you the son of Brahmah?’ he would have said. ‘my son you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you had done to Socrates and asked, ‘are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Muhammad and asked ‘are you Allah?’ he would first have first rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, ‘are you heaven?’ I think he would have probably replied, ‘Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.’ The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole of man… He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval."


— C.S. Lewis, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Conversation about Heaven & Exclusivity

Bobby slammed his coffee cup on the counter a little bit harder than he intended to: “You see, this is what frustrates me about you Christians. You all think that only Christians will be in Heaven. What about other people, like Gandhi, Buddha, or any other number of good people?”

Greg was a little surprised a Bobby’s intensity. They had connected a couple times previously in the semester getting coffee before their Philosophy 301 class and had always enjoyed asking each other what they believed. Greg tilted his head a bit and suggested somewhat teasingly, “Well, Bobby, I’m glad that you at least believe in Heaven.”

“Now, I didn’t say that, I consider myself open to the idea. But…," and then he hesitated.

They both sat down and poured packets of sugar into their coffee. “But…if there were a heaven, Christians are wrong about it?” Greg offered.

“They are wrong about it if they think that only Christians will be there. That’s just too…too…?”

“Exclusive? You think Christians are too exclusive.”

“Exactly,” nodded Bobby. The two college juniors sat in the corner where the sun was shining through the blinds.

“Okay,” said Greg, pausing. “It sounds like you’ve spent some time thinking about this. Let me ask you a question.”

“Shoot.”

“What kinds of people will be there?”

Bobby didn’t hesitate. “All kinds of people will be there, young & old, rich & poor, Jews, Christians, Muslims & non-religious folks.”

“What about Atheists?”

Bobby looked up for a moment weighing the question. “Sure, I know many Atheists who are good people. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be there, even if they don’t believe in God now.”

Greg took an unusually slow slip on his coffee, gathering his thoughts. “So you believe that good people go to heaven?”

“Yes! And—I must say—that’s much more inclusive and open-minded than you Christians,” Bobby said with a smile and a bit of satisfaction.

“Okay, now I’m confused,” Greg said throwing open his free hand.

“What do you mean?”

Greg leaned forward in his sofa chair. “I thought you were worried about Christians being too exclusive, but your view takes the cake!”

“I’m not sure I’m following you,” Bobby said hesitatingly, not wanting to take the bait. “What do you mean?”

“Well, maybe you can clarify this for me. You say that all kinds of good people—Muslims, Jews, Christians, and even good Atheists—will be in heaven because they have been, well, good.”

“Yes…?” Bobby was wondering where Greg was going with this.

“That view is much more ‘exclusive’ than what Christians believe.” Greg threw himself back into his chair shaking his head.

“How so?”

“What about the bad people?” Greg said protesting. “I mean, people who’ve broken the big commandments: liars, cheaters, murderers, adulterers? According to your view, they have no hope of heaven.”

“Okay. What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that your standard requirement for getting into heaven is that people have to be ‘good,’ but that excludes a lot of people.”

“Hmmm…okay. You got me," Bobby answered, somewhat sarcastically.

“Bobby, I’m not trying to get you. I’m just trying to understand your view."

"But that doesn’t exonerate Christianity’s exclusivity.”

"Look, everyone is exclusive on this issue, unless you want to say that everyone goes to Heaven when they die. But not many people want to say that. I mean, do you believe that Hitler will be in Heaven? There has to be an accounting, somehow. There has to be some kind of judgment for those folks, don’t you agree?”

Bobby nodded his head in agreement setting his coffee on the table. “Yeah, I can’t see God throwing open ‘the golden gates’ for the likes of Hitler, Moa-Tse Tung, Lenin, & the like,” he said as he threw open his arms in a big welcoming gesture.

Greg leaned forward again. “But here is the deal. Christianity says that there is hope for everyone, even for the really bad people too.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if we take seriously what the Bible says, everyone has sinned against God, and nobody is perfect, not even one. Yet God requires perfection.”

“Well, if that’s the case, then what hope is there for anyone?”

“Well, that’s just my point. Here’s the heart of the Christian message: God himself came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life, which means he loved God and others perfectly. And he voluntarily gave up his life when he died on the cross for people like you and me.”

“Okay," said Bobby as he was looking up tracking the argument. "I think I’m following you.”

“Do you know what the Apostle Paul said that I find so encouraging?”

“No, what?” They both stopped and looked up at a group of co-eds who entered the coffee shop laughing hysterically.

Greg & Bobby looked back at each other and busted out laughing, shaking their heads. After a moment, Greg continued, “He said something along the lines of, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

“An Apostle of Jesus Christ said that he was the worst of sinners?” Bobby asked incredulously.

Greg nodded.

“Why would he say that?”

“Well, before he became a Christian, he was hunting down Christians and killing them. Speaking of his pre-Christian days, Paul said that he was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.”

A light seemed to be going off in Bobby’s mind, “And Jesus somehow made the difference?”

“Exactly,” Greg said with a smile. “Paul went on to say that it was because of this very reason—that he was the worst of sinners—that he was shown mercy, so that the Lord Jesus might use him as an example of his patience towards those who would come to believe on him.”

Bobby leaned forward, “You mean to tell me that Paul was saying that his hope of heaven was not because he was good, but because he was bad.”

Greg chuckled reassuringly. “You're starting to get it. Paul wasn’t good, even though he excelled as a Pharisee—that is, a religious teacher,” he clarified. “In many ways, he had to abandon all hope in his goodness and throw himself at the mercy of Jesus.”

Greg paused to make sure Bobby understood. Bobby was nodding his head like it was all sinking in. “Go on,” he said.

That’s why I said earlier that a standard that says, ‘All good people get into heaven,’ is actually very exclusive, much more so than Christianity. Christianity says that even bad people have reason to hope for mercy if they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for only bad people.”

“I think I’m getting what you are saying.”

“Let that sink in. I truly believe that Christianity is unique, because it doesn’t tell you to go out and make religious pilgrimages, or to pray a certain number of times per day in a certain direction, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, or do x, y, & z. It tells you to abandon all hopes of impressing God with your goodness—because you can’t—and to believe in the Lord Jesus who actually saves people like us and people who are ‘worse’ than us and people who are ‘better’ than us.”

“Well Greg, this has been an interesting conversation. I have never seen things that way before.”

“I used to not, either. I’m glad we had this time to chat in between classes.”

The two rose and put on their backpacks.

“Me too. Maybe we can carry on this conversation later?”

“I’d love to. Because our hope is not really Heaven, but Heaven on earth.”

“Wow. We’ll definitely have to carry this conversation on later.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

"If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem."

JT linked to an interview with Matt Chandler of The Village. He asks two questions:
* What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ?

* And what robs you of those affections?
So far, so good. Then he gets to meddling, as they say.
Sanctification here at The Village begins by answering two questions. What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ? And what robs you of those affections? Many of the things that stifle growth are morally neutral. They're not bad things. Facebook is not bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn't take long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds heartbreaking.

The same goes for following sports. It's not wrong, but if I start watching sports, I begin to care too much. I get stupid. If 19-year-old boys are ruining your day because of what they do with a ball, that's a problem. These things rob my affections for Christ. I want to fill my life with things that stir my affections for him. . . .

We want our people to think beyond simply what's right and wrong. We want them to fill their lives with things that stir their affections for Jesus Christ and, as best as they can, to walk away from things that rob those affections—even when they're not immoral.
Great words to remember. I have a few thoughts.

I love sports. I used to love them too much. I, along with any number of sports fanatics, would have my day--no, my week--ruined by a game. I had too much invested there. Thankfully, I've made some progress in this. My wife seems to think this is why the Aggies have stunk for so long, b/c God was dealing with my idol. If that's the case, sorry Ags. He has been messing with yours too!

Secondly, while fully agreeing that there are times when we simply need to "walk away" from those things that ruin our affections for Christ, we still need to work through them. For example, food can function this way. But we can't go cold turkey on food!

What we need to do is learn to use the gift of food for God's glory. Same thing with alcohol, sex, influence, tv, investing, shopping, parks, facebook, etc. No, I'm not saying everyone has to use each and every gift from God. But sometimes, I fear the impression is given that the answer to our struggles is simply to 'walk away' from 'the things of the world' instead of learning to engage them correctly.

The Christian life is then viewed merely as a strategy of keeping the corrupting influence of the world far away, rather than dealing with the corruption within my own heart that takes the good gifts of God and perverts them for my own selfish reasons. In other words, it's a problem when the problem is viewed 'out there' and not within the core of my being. If it is out there, I can manage the issue. If it's "in here", then I desperately need Christ.

The worst examples of this are people who say sports, drink, tv, etc., always ruin appetite for Christ. Therefore it is always wrong for everyone to participate in these activities. The word for this is legalism. [Disclaimer: No, I'm not saying this is what Chandler is saying.]

So how should a Christian view sports? Should s/he have nothing to do with it? I think that part of the solution is to bring our thinking under the lordship of Christ. Or another way to put it is, How should we think Christianly about sports? Is it possible that sports can actually increase my appetite for Christ? I believe so.

To that end, here's a good book that I would recommend as well: Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, & Wannabes.

Says the author, a self avowed Christian who 'absolutely loves sports,'
"DO I ever thank god for the incredible amount of pleasure that I receive from sports...? Let us resolve from this point forward that we will not enjoy the gift of sports without giving thanks and honor to the Giver himself. Let us recognize that sports are indeed gifts from a generous God to undeserving sinners, and let our enjoyment of sports be marked by thankful hearts."
Simply put, yes, we can enjoy sports as a gift from God, but like any of His gifts, we value the gift over the Giver of the gift. That's where the trouble begins, and what I think Chandler is talking about.

This new one looks good too, though I haven't read it yet: The Reason for Sports: A Christian Fanifesto.

Here's a link to the whole Chandler interview.

Pondering these quotes....

"The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning."
- Emil Brunner

"There is no participation in Christ without participation in His mission to the world. That by which the Church receives its existence [i.e., the life of Christ] is that by which it is also given its world mission."
~ qtd. in God's Missionary People, ch. 1
"In choosing a people, God intended to reach out to the whole world.... 'In choosing Israel as segment of all humanity, God never took his eye off the other nations; Israel was the pars pro toto, a minority called to serve the majority. God's election of Abraham and Israel concerns the whole world."

"The Church is not an exclusive club of privilege, neither is it a place to rest from our labors. We have been brought in so that we may gather others into this Kingdom of grace."
~ qtd. in God's Missionary People, ch. 3

Flickr Favorites: Indian Summer Sunset


Indian Summer Sunset, originally uploaded by Osgoldcross.


I wish I were sitting here on the dock fishing, dreaming, praying.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wonderful Anniversary Celebration


To celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary (& b/c we weren't able to celebrate our 15th anniversary in style), I took my wife to eat out at the Calgary Tower. This tower is a landmark of the city, and now having been to the top of it, it is a quite remarkable piece of engineering.



Here's a video showing how crazy (daring?) my beautiful wife is....



After a great meal, we went back to the observation deck where my vertigo kicked into high gear (I'm sure it had nothing to do with what I drank!).



Calgary is amazing to see at night all lit up. We had a great time, great conversation, great views. Thanks, Heather, for the great marriage!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heard @ the Fergie's today...

Dad helping Miranda with a school problem:

Dad: Can you tell me the name of a vegetable that rhymes with "potato"?

Miranda: Mashed potato?

------

At the dinner table:

Dad: Kevin, we need to mow the yard tonight.

Kevin: But there are bees out there.

Dad: Don't bother them and they won't bother you.

Kevin: Not true. You shoo them away and they come back with a buddy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who is John Galt?

Okay. So at the urging of my wife and my friend, Shawn, I've been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged at night before bed. I'm some 250 pages into this novel of over 1000 pages. So far so good. It's an interesting read. I'm enjoying it (even though I'm not buying into her objectivist philosophy). Good story, etc.

Except for one thing: when Rand feels the need to throw in a, um...let's call it, "romantic encounter," the whole thing becomes a train wreck (of the kind that Taggert Transcontinental would want desperately to avoid). Seriously, the whole things derails into some schmaltzy, cheap, third rate, Faubian-type crap. The book would be a lot better without it. Wife's advice: just skip it (which one has to do to avoid the unpleasant taste of the previous meal coming back up).

Okay, I got that off my chest. It needed to be said. [And I do feel the better for it.]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Let there be light


Let there be light, originally uploaded by Christolakis.

simply amazing!

Happy 16th Anniversary, Heather!


Today, August 21st, marks the 16th year that I have been married to the greatest wife in the world, Heather. As anyone who knows us, she is the better half of the marriage, and I certainly got the better end of the deal.

I love the life that our Lord has given to us. We've been through so much together having lived in three countries now, having been given 5 wonderful kids. You still kill me with your gorgeous brown eyes, and I love being married to you. Thanks for all the memories. May God give us many, many more years together, until death do us part!

A Shout-Out to Joshua the Poet

My friend, Joshua, can wax eloquently when writing poetry. His topics cover the wide range of life-lived-as-a-Christian. But I especially love seeing through his eyes, and the camaraderie that can be experienced through similar life experiences. Some are serious, some are heartbreaking, some are just plain fun.

Like this one. Check it out....
Why sleep when I can read?
Insomnia wrapped in gilded leaves,
Silent, but for the sounding swish,
As I deliciously turn and wish:
The story would never end,
The sun would never ascend,
My will would never bend—
To feeble needs of a body.

Why slumber whilst literacy,
Calls upon my eyes to see,
To spy a thought within the thought,
Follow an “is,” and discern an “ought:”
Why ought I to cease,
Why ought I be released,
When piece after piece after piece—
Of love and learning mingle?

Why doze when I can dream,
In far off forest and stream,
Worlds within worlds collide,
Stories within stories coincide:
Experiences out of flesh,
Experiences, weaving, mesh,
Why must I experience less—
By giving into darkness?

Be sure to check out his blog for others.

Posting Favorite Flickr Photos

I love photography (not that I'm particularly good at it; my wife's got the talent in our relationship), but I love looking at photos. I love how photos capture a particular moment, almost always a particular mood, and they help me to see God's world better.

I love flickr, and will explore the "interesting photos" categories when I have a spare moment (while talking on the phone, battling insomnia), etc. They have a neat feature that allows people to blog their photos so I will do that from time to time to share with my friends some of the discoveries that I find interesting. I hope you enjoy them as well. So, for example...


Parlez-moi d' amour..., originally uploaded by *Glauka.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This is awesome...

New scanning technique lets an expectant mother hold her unborn baby....


I wonder how this would alter the debate?

[Source]

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Power of Forgiveness

My previous post showed a picture taken at the now famous 'beer summit' where an attempt at 'healing' took place over an unfortunate event made worse by the President's words. I think what saddened me the most is that there were no apologies made, and hence no forgiveness granted. Just empty platitudes like, "We're choosing to focus on the future."

At any rate, I've been preparing a message on the Book of Philemon this week which fundamentally deals with forgiveness & reconciliation though those two words are never used.

In the midst of my preparation, I came across this amazing story of healing through forgiveness. The short of it, a woman who had been raped unwittingly accused the wrong man who spent 11 years in prison before DNA cleared him. She was overwhelmed with guilt. He forgave her. They have since become good friends.



Check out their website here.

Listen to their thoughts on the healing forgiveness brings on NPR's "This I Believe."



For those of you in Calgary, this will be a part of the sermon this Sunday at New City Church: North Ridge.

I'm glad I serve the Lord Jesus Christ, who doesn't say, "Let's just focus on the future," b/c I guarantee I'll screw up again in the future. I need a Savior who looks sinners in the eye and says, "Your sins are forgiven."

BTW, I've posted this powerful clip from ER entitled "Atonement." If you haven't seen it yet, take a few minutes to check it out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Interesting Wedding Entrance

Filed under: Echoes of Another World
-----
If you haven't seen this wedding entrance, you definitely have to check it out. Then read why my friend & RUF Campus Minister, Shaynor, finds himself crying like a girl...



From the RUF Baylor Blog:
"Which brings us back to the video. I find it extremely compelling, and I've spent the past few hours trying to figure out why not only have I watched it several times, but I tear up over it and am really moved by it. Not only I, but millions have been drawn to it. Again, usually when something spreads like wildfire in our culture I tend to be skeptical and assume something is wrong with it. Which is typically true. However, this phenomenon did not affect me that way, and again I ask why?"

Read it all here.

The Good News of the Kingdom of God

Filed under: Quote of the Day
-----
Probably the biggest area of growth in my thinking over the past 4-5 years has to do with the theme of the Kingdom of God that Jesus & the Apostles came proclaiming. My shorthand definition has to do with the new creation that was inaugurated in the life & ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is another, fuller definition that I came across.

“The kingdom of God is the new and final age that began with the coming of Jesus. His kingdom is not part of the present age — an age where the flesh reigns; where people are divided, relationships are broken, and suspicion and competition dominate; where money, sex, and power are abused; where leaders are first and servants last; where behavior is controlled by laws, and identity is defined by race, gender, or social standing; and where gifts and resources are used for the advancement of oneself.

Rather, the kingdom of God is the new age. It is the age of the Spirit (Matt 12:28). It is the age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). The Kingdom of God is about the renewal, restoration, and reconciliation of all things, and God has made us a part of this great story of salvation.

This kingdom is about the restoration of relationships, justice, and equality; about freedom from every lord except Jesus; about reconciliation, forgiveness, and the defeat of Satan. It is about compassion for the poor and powerless, about helping those who are marginalized and rejected by society, and about our gifts and resources for the advancement of others. It is about new communities and the transformation of society and culture, so that race, gender, and social class no longer define identity, nor are they used to control and divide. For Paul, to preach the gospel is to preach the kingdom, is to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27).

The gospel sums up the whole message of good news that he brought to the nations — particularly to the downtrodden and powerless. And since it is good news, our response to the message of the kingdom is to be one of repentant faith (Mark 1:15).”

- Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation, 2nd Ed. (Jenkintown, Pa.: World Harvest Mission, 2006), iii.
[HT: Of First Importance]

Re-connected with the world now...

Well, folks, it's been about a month since we've posted anything. In that month, we've said our goodbyes to our friends & family in the States and headed north of the border to Calgary. We had a good trip up here, relatively uneventful. Saw some beautiful country between TX & Calgary.

We've made it up here to our new home. It took about 2 weeks to get the internet & phone plugged in to our home, so now we are reconnected to the world. Thanks for all your prayers during this transition!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Alcorn on Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality


With the Governor of SC admitting to a bizarre extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina this past week, scandal is once again in the headlines. It seems the deceitfulness of sin is very powerful. Can we battle it?

Yes we can, says Randy Alcorn. He has a great post on "Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality."
About twenty-five years ago, while pastors at Good Shepherd Community Church, my friend Alan Hlavka and I both developed lists of all the specific consequences we could think of that would result from our immorality as pastors. The lists were devastating, and to us they spoke more powerfully than any sermon or article on the subject.

Periodically, especially when travelling or when in a time of temptation or weakness, we read through our list. In a personal and tangible way it brings home God's inviolate law of choice and consequence. It cuts through the fog of rationalization and fills our hearts with the healthy, motivating fear of God. We find that when we begin to think unclearly, reviewing this list yanks us back to the reality of the law of the harvest and the need both to fear God and the consequences of sin.

An edited version of our combined lists follows. I've included the actual names of my wife and daughters to emphasize the personal nature of this exercise. Where it involves my own lists of specific people's names, I've simply stated "list names" so you can insert the appropriate ones in your own life.
Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality

* Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters.

* Dragging into the mud Christ's sacred reputation.

* Loss of reward and commendation from God.

* Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Forcing God to discipline me in various ways.

* Following in the footsteps of men I know of whose immorality forfeited their ministry and caused me to shudder. List of these names:

* Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan).

* Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife.

* Loss of Nanci's respect and trust.

* Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela. ("Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?")

* If my blindness should continue or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.

* Shame to my family. (The cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)

* Shame to my church family.

* Shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders. List of names:

* Shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I've led to Christ and discipled. List of names:

* Guilt awfully hard to shake—even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?

* Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.

* Disqualifying myself after having preached to others.

* Surrender of the things I am called to and love to do—teach and preach and write and minister to others. Forfeiting forever certain opportunities to serve God. Years of training and experience in ministry wasted for a long period of time, maybe permanently.

* Being haunted by my sin as I look in the eyes of others, and having it all dredged up again wherever I go and whatever I do.

* Undermining the hard work and prayers of others by saying to our community "this is a hypocrite—who can take seriously anything he and his church have said and done?"

* Laughter, rejoicing and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14).

* Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God.

* Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.

* Possible diseases (pain, constant reminder to me and my wife, possible infection of Nanci, or in the case of AIDS, even causing her death, as well as mine.)

* Possible pregnancy, with its personal and financial implications.

* Loss of self-respect, discrediting my own name, and invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself.

Let the wise to wise counsel to heart. I hope it's helpful to you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Andrew is thinking about Michael

Andrew Sullivan is Thinking About Michael...
There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.
HT: JT

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

missional thinking focuses on doing missions in every geographical location

Interesting post from the Crossway Blog
As the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting continues, check out this excerpt from Ed Stetzer’s chapter entitled Toward a Missional Convention in Southern Baptist Identity:
Many churches will go to great lengths and tremendous expense to involve members in “missional” activities far from home, yet fail to fully engage their own neighborhood. Perhaps one of the contributing factors to this seeming inconsistency is the ability for us to behave “missionally” for a short period of time in a “far country” where co-workers and neighbors can’t see us. In these short-term/long-distance mission events, we are able to experience the passion of missional living without really becoming incarnational to our own context.

This approach to missional work is perhaps the unfortunate outcome of a separation between missions and evangelism in popular thinking among Southern Baptists and other evangelicals. To many, missions is something done “elsewhere” by “someone.” Thus, some churches that are “far-thinking” and “far-reaching” in terms of international missions are failing to reach the people in the shadows of their steeples. North America is not viewed as a mission field. In fact, many believe it to be a “reached” field only in need of an evangelism strategy, not a true missional engagement.

What is needed is not merely an understanding of missiological thinking, but a commitment to missional thinking. While missiology concerns itself with study about missions and its methodologies, missional thinking focuses on doing missions in every geographical location. Such thinking is needed if the SBC is to remain faithful in its calling to serve churches by equipping them to impact their surrounding communities.
Southern Baptist Identity, pp. 186

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pray for Iran



CNN: Iran's Ruling System is Going to the Slaughterhouse

Malkin: They Killed Neda, But Not Her Voice [Warning: Graphic]

FoxNews: Iran-The Uprisings On & There's No Turning Back

Twitter: Iran Elections



And don't forget to pray for the persecuted Christians in Iran who have suffered under the same Muslim clerics who are now slaughtering Iranians protesting the vote.

Voice of the Martyers: Iran

Pray that the entire region, and indeed the whole world, will come to know the Prince of Peace, King Jesus.

Sermon Jam: Treasuring Christ

Have you heard of 'sermon jams'? Here's one using Piper's preaching on Treasuring Christ.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What can the US learn from Canada?


This is an interesting article by the CATO Institute looking at Gov't spending and philosophy of spending between America & Canada.

Reports last week that the recession is draining Social Security and Medicare funds were just one more reminder that the United States needs to fix its finances. For inspiration, why not look to Canada? Long derided by American conservatives as "socialist" and praised by the left for its generous government spending, Canada is casting off those stereotypes. Over the past few years, while U.S. politicians presided over huge increases in spending and debt, the Canadian government tightened its belt, slashed tax rates and balanced budgets.

The article concludes:
Too often in the United States, Democrats reject cuts in taxes and spending because they consider them Republican causes. Yet in Canada, center-left governments implemented many of the reforms that made these impressive numbers possible. Perhaps we have something to learn from those "socialists" to the north.

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Death & Taxes

I was going to say that this was cool...but then, that's not quite the word I'm looking for.

Here's a visual graphic of where tax dollars go in the US:


Click here for a graphic that you can enlarge.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game Day at Kyle Field

I took the kids out to the Maroon & White game after all the severe weather passed through Aggieland. Here's a pic of the kids with the new yell leaders.


My thoughts...

1) That was the most boring Maroon & White game ever. First of all, it wasn't even a game. A 'scrimmage' would be a stretch. The coaches came up with some sort of convoluted scoring system that no fan could understand or keep up with. Why not put real points on the board instead of awarding points for 'pressure on the QB' or 'a play that gained more than 5 yards.' With this system, there were 2 teams: offense & defense. Final score: 115-101. I should mention this was the M&W football game, not basketball. I know, I know, this is to aid the coaches' evaluation, but from a fan's perspective, it was a complete dud. Didn't look like the players were all that into it either.

2) In my opinion, the QB ranking should be Wood, Dorman, then Johnson. Especially for the first half. Jeff Fuller made some great catches that (in the second half) helped Johnson look much better than he played [and I'm a fan of Johnson]. There was something like 4 interceptions by halftime.

3) Jeff Fuller is a stud making some outstanding catches (he is today's highlight reel) & Cyrus Gray had a few good runs including one 22 yard TD.

4) Good news: Aggies won. Bad news: Aggies lost.

5) Final thought: it's going to be a long season. Nothing inspiring to make us think that this year will be any different than the last few (please, Ags, prove me wrong, I'm begging you). The defense did look good, but the offensive line still can't block (which *might* account for why Johnson didn't look all that great--it's hard to when you are running for your life as soon as the ball is snapped).

Other final thought: for crying out loud, Sherman, make the M&W game resemble some sort of a game, or else you will have 3 fans out for the next M&W game.

Okay, I feel better now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Am I My Neighbor's Keeper?

Am I my neighbor's keeper?

I am hearing this question being asked and answered with greater frequency--if not vehemence--in today's political climate. Conservatives are saying, "No, I am not my neighbor's keeper. I am responsible for me, myself, and I." Liberals are saying, "Yes, I am my neighbor's keeper, and this responsibility to our neighbor really has no limits."

Who is right?

I want to suggest that both are right and both are wrong.

My conservative peeps, from their perspective of rugged individualism, insist that they are only responsible for themselves. On the most charitable reading, I think what they are saying is that "the gov't has no right to take my hard earned money and give it to a bunch of freeloaders. A society cannot endure that has a dependent and growing class of people who are unproductive. Therefore, everyone needs to assume responsibility for themselves."

And surely they are correct as far as it goes.

But conservatives are wrong to insist that our neighbor can make no claim upon us. And they are wrong that we are only responsible for ourselves. Life is not simply a case of an everybody-for-themselves game and only the strong survive. The Lord Jesus clearly teaches that we do have a responsibility for our neighbors. And He shows us another way of being human.

When asked what does it mean to love my neighbor in the way the Law commands, Jesus responds with his famous parable of the Good Samaritan. The nice, respectable religious types (& probably 'conservative') noticed the injured man, and passed by on the other side. They justified their non-involvement. Jesus clearly condemns such an attitude. Our neighbor in a very real sense can make claims upon us. Jesus really does expect and call us to love others, even with sacrificial love. His Kingdom is about the shalom of humanity (meaning, essentially, the prospering of humanity). That's why the Samaritan who was moved into action by compassion for his unknown neighbor and who overcome all sorts of cultural & religious barriers, is the hero of the story. He got it.

Liberals, on the other hand, are right in their instincts that our neighbor can make certain claims upon us, but wrong in the way they go about ensuring that neighbor's are loved.

To understand this, substitute the word statist for liberal and you'll understand why (liberals typically answer the right questions with the wrong answer: more gov't). Statists want the government to take care of our neighbors for us. The 'solution' necessarily involves the State taking money (ie. taxes) away from citizen A to give it to citizen B. My liberal peeps say as much: If the State doesn't do it, then who will? And conveniently, those in the gov't who implement these policies gain more adherents and more power, and typically more wealth for themselves.

We are called by the Lord Jesus to be human in a different way than is typically defined by either liberals or conservatives. We are called to be industrious, AND we are called to use our wealth, in part, to serve our neighbors in need. This is not a matter of giving handouts, but seeking real healing of our world. And real healing--real prosperity--cannot be defined by having a permanent entitlement class (the result of statist policy). And it cannot happen if we are only self-interested (conservative policy).

And of course, we'll only be moved to genuine living and love toward our neighbor when we are on board with the agenda of Christ and His Kingdom, which is neither liberal nor conservative. It's not even American.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Great Samaritan, and until we understand that for our sakes he became poor so that we might become rich, how He was THE neighbor we so desperately needed when we were lying dead in our sins--until that reality defines us, we'll be tossed back and forth between the typical self-centered view of conservatism and the state-centered view of liberalism.

When we are Christ-centered, our loves will be ordered after His agenda, and our neighbors will be loved.

Click here to read the Parable of the Good Samaritan.