Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unpacking Creation vs. Evolution Debates

Last evening I anxiously watched a live streaming of a much anticipated debate between "Bill Nye & Ken Ham". Yup, that's Dr. Bill Nye "The Science Guy", and Dr. Ken Ham, who is CEO / Founder of The Creation Museum. Incidentally, the debate was streamed live at www.debatelive.org. You can watch it there; at least for a few more days.

No "new" debate, per se. Yet, that in no way lessens the importance of the debate; our most basic, most fundamental, most sincere question as humans.... "Where did we come from?" The debate was publicized as creation vs. evolution. See, nothing new. It was, seemed to me, a worthy debate. I do recommend reading Dr. Albert Mohler's synopsis of the debate at http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/02/05/bill-nyes-reasonable-man-the-central-worldview-clash-of-the-ham-nye-debate/. Of course, in full disclosure, even Al Mohler's synopsis of the debate would be "debatable" ....depending upon which side of this fence you "choose" (I believe that is a key word) to stand ...based ON your present understanding. That is, by the way, the rudimentary making of one's "worldview", which, I contend, each of us has. This "world-view", or bias, aside (hopefully accepted), I believe Dr. Mohler's to be as un-blast a synopsis as a follower of Christ can manufacture. I, too, share the bias.

This world-view, or bias, is and will remain, the fundamental problem with these types of debates. Or so it appears to me. Whether Bill Nye sees his view as a world-view (it appeared he tries to disconnect himself from any such bias. I believe one cannot) or simply as a "reasonable" man (what / who defines even that) ....this is what will continue "this" particular debate, and I believe without resolution, until Christ returns. Oops.... my own bias just appeared. So, on to the un-packing.

My own simple, and admittedly un-satisfactory, synopsis of this human-old debate... 
As a young / new believer in Christ I once finally asked a question (..one which I had asked internally for some time..).This question came aloud in an evangelism training course my local church had provided. The simple question.... "If a person [to whom I am "witnessing"] does not believe, or trust, the Bible we quote and reference ....where do we go from there?" In fact, I asked that question multiple times throughout my Christian childhood (twenty-something then). Most answers were the same. Even the same from a seminary professor of mine, in more recent years. "Well, you're done." ...was the basic answer. This answer was meant in practical, human intellectual argument, terms. Of course... we Christians pray. Frankly, this "end-of-the-persuasive-road" is what I believe we observed during the debate last night. Perhaps that is THE main point, from my world-view at least. In fact, I am convinced it is the main point. That is..... I do NOT believe we are "done", even from a humanistic standpoint. I have long agreed with the Apostle Paul's genuine, honest, humble, and bold statement (as I believe Dr. Mohler quotes as well) that "we are without excuse" simply due to the natural "observations" around us. (read Romans chapter 1 in the bible).

And THAT, dear friends, will remain a matter of one's pre-decided perspective. If I were intellectual enough for Bill Nye to care... he would unload on me right now; surely providing me with supposedly evidential excuses as to why my belief is not tenable. Yet, as Dr. Ham, I have decided to remain un-moved from my Christian, my Biblical, world-view. I simply cannot find an honest "excuse" to find un-belief ....believable.

-Steve Terrell

Saturday, September 21, 2013

His Will, His Way

"Here is true success in life: to stay in the Word of God until we find the will of God so that we can walk in the ways of God." -O.S. Hawkins (The Joshua Code)

"....but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

"If Jesus Is Your Co-Pilot .....Switch Seats"

If ever you find yourself in the driver's seat of your own "spirituality" ....congratulations, you may have started your very own religion. We like to find ourselves as "religious", or "spiritual", hoping that our hard work will surely be ample to please God. Yet we find ourselves like this apparently wealthy, religiously successful, likely community respected man in Matthew 1916-22. We walk away, sad, from from any encounter with the God of the scriptures.

Why?? What does a person have to do to please God? "Let Jesus take the wheel" ....at the risk of using another modern cliche. Sorry, it just fit. But REALLY DO IT! Let God be the pilot. How do you do that? Size your religiosity up against scripture. If it doesn't fit ....don't wear it. But most importantly .....quit trying to "please" God ...and just surrender to Him, submit to Him, obey Him.

I know, a tall order if He is the God the scriptures speak of. But it speaks of this same God who is full of grace, goodness, ready to forgive our imperfect self-religiosity (sin), and is not willing that any of us perish without Him. So what do we have to do? Confess Him as Lord. Believe He is Lord. Follow Him as one surrendered to Him. This will NOT be perfect!! If you're trying for the perfect Christian award ....you'll never achieve it. It's not about that. Instead, and last cliche of the day, we are imperfect people serving a perfect God. Wait, just one more cliche.... "His grace IS enough." Really.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Join the party .....but house rules

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,
2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,
3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast."'
5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,
6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.'
10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.
12 And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
(Matthew 22:1-14)

1. Those who are sent
Believers are called to be laborers v3
planters
harvesters
2. Those who hear
"Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who do the will of my father."
Do not fool yourself. Merely "believing" is not true Christ-following.
Nor is merely "doing" Christ-following.
This leaves one conclusion. Those who have believed and then take action of their belief in obedience to God's will ....to seek thise lost and lead, persuade them toward genuine repentance and true Christ followship.
3. Those who are invited again v4
It is often said that He is a God of second chances. To be sure.... God is full of grace and mercy, and is not willing that ANY should perish. It is on us to determine to surrender to Christ, submit to God's will, and follow through with continued obedience. v4
4. Those who rejected v5
Despite many attempts scripture is clear to the evident truth that many wil hear, yet still reject, the freely given invitation to the King's wedding feast.
The wedding is His Son's. the bride is His church. Are YOU part of Christ' church?
5. Those who mistreated v6
Some even become beligerent, even violent, toward grace. This is the work of he who is in the world, the evil one.
6. The consequence v7
God's Kimgdom has a governing, and He is Governer. There are rules, His rules! Oir city's, our very lives and freedoms and liberties are His to give and His to take away. If we refuse the "goodness" of God's grace ......there is only left to be commited to the fate awaiting the rest of a fallen world.
In this God will establish His Kingdom! This t
THE good news.
7. Those called v9 - 10
God's gift of grace is open to all. He will seek those who will be sought. ANYONE is invited to His great feast!
8. Those not worthy v11-12
But.... not all who come are willing to play by the house rules. We want to make our own way ....which, by our sinful nature, is contradictory to His way. God is so graceful. He will overlook our sin nature ...if we are willing to choose His way over our way.
9. The outer darkness v13
I think that sounds like a terrific deal. Grace to eternity with Him, at no cost to me. Still.... many wil not let go of their own will. To outter darkness those are cast. God will not be blackmailed or bartered with.
10. The few chosen v14
Few chosen indeed. But don't blame God. He is not playing Russion Roulette with our lives. It's not a crap-shoot where God says..... She will go, he will not. ALL are invited to "be chosen". But once at the feast, if we are not willing to submit to the King ....we are then deemed unworthy.

"Being part of God's Kimgdom, through Christ, has nothing to do with your self-readiness, but everything to do with your submissive willingness."

Steve Terrell

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Enjoy the party ...but house rules

Being part of God's Kingdom has nothing to do with your self-readiness, but everything to do with your submissive willingness.

We cannot go into God's house (not talking about a church building; think eternal) and live by our own rules. If we could we would be lord of that house wouldn't we? By "faith" we submit that His ways are, indeed, higher than our own. We trust Him then submit, daily, to His will.

Jesus told this in a story so that those hearing could relate.the story is just as well re-told today. (Matthew 22:1-14).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Every Man For Himself

Do you remember watching the old movies about sailors in turmoil, ships sinking, pending doom? What always happened things really got stressful. If no one beat him to it, the captain would ultimately scream..... "Abandon ship! Every man for himself!" Each was on his own!

Recently, there have been several news stories of failed cruise-liners. One, inparticular, was of particular focus. The captain abandoned ship, saving himself, no regard for his desperate, hopeless passengers and crew members. Wow! "Coward", we screamed at the television set! "Traitor"!

"Who" would do such a thing? If "I" were ever captain of a sinking ship.... we resolved.

Maybe it is a case of "sympathy for the devil", or maybe just a realization of the worldly, humanistic truth, that in the end ....no one is going to take care "you" .....other than "you", but here is drawn a conclusion. This captain can't save anyone anyway. Not really. He can advise. He can "lead". But honestly.... doesn't everyone already know where the life-boats are?

Here's another worldly, simply-human, truth. He (the captain) most often wouldn't save you; not at the cost of himself. Self-preservation is a very strong, very "human" characteristic. Sorry to burst any egos. Sad but true. We'll only play the hero when it either benefits us, or there's simply no other "out" but a blaze of glory anyway. See..... the ego wins. We are very "human" indeed.

So, being a self-preserving human myself..... I think about the big picture of that reality, the spiritual ramifications of such a truth. i realize there is still a dramatic difference in Christ' life and mine. Namely.... He wasn't self-preserving. When people rolled their eyes at Him, didn't take Him seriously, disrespected Him, and even crucified Him.... He felt no need to defend Himself or His purpose. Why? And why didn't He simply come down from the cross? With the exception of being a madman, there is only one other sensible conclusion. He wasn't trying to save Himself. He was trying to save us!

> "and saying, You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." (Matthew 27:40 ESV)


If Jesus had come down from the cross ....there would simply, and sadly, be no need to "believe in Him".

> "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him." (Matthew 27:42 ESV)


Have you ever wondered..... why are people so threatened by Jesus and "the way" (Christianity)? Did Christ, Himself, do anything physical except "good"? So what ...if He was a crazy? So what ....if He was a blasphemer? Wasn't the God of the Jews big enough to defend Himself? Weren't there far more harmful, more threatening criminals to pursue? I need no further evidence to cause me to believe that we (includes me) are all sinners indeed ...missing the mark of His glorious standard originally intended for us. Instead.... Like sheep we have gone astray, each turned to his own way. No, it's not that we get what we ask for.... but we most definitely get poor results for what we choose. We are "inherently" sinful, evil, self-promoting, self-destructing. But it can all be made right! THAT is the good news! While we were still sinners ..Christ died for us. He stood up for us! He was ridiculed, disrespected, and died ....for us. Thank You, my Lord, for not saving yourself instead.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

If you could only describe Jesus in a word....

.....what would it be? Grace, Sacrifice, Lord? All right answers. I would choose "love". Here's why. Time and words are valuable commodities these days, especially for the Christian messenger. Let's get honest...... in our Information "Overload" Age no one takes much anything at face value. I think we're generally beyond the days of handing out a gospel tract, or whatever other trick ways to share the gospel. Of course, truth is that more has always been required; work of the Holy Spirit in a person primarily, and genuine, authentic involvement from the Christian. Nothing inherently wrong with the trick ways, per se. Just used up for the most part. This worn-out cliche is true.... People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Reading through Jesus' interaction with Nicodemus in the gospel of John. Nicodemus was intrigued with "how" Jesus did what He did. I think he was curious as to what authority Jesus did "things" (e.g. Miracles). Jesus threw what, at first glance / human glance, seems to be a curve-ball for a response. He told Nic...... Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God! In today's culture we would rebuke Jesus and demand "straight talk please sir!" And we would miss the straightest talk of all. Jesus "knows" mankind. Read the end of John chapter 2; just prior to Jesus' response here. He heard Nicodemus' inquiry but loved him enough to give him the answer he really needed to hear.

Be respectful to people, always. We are NOT Jesus, so we cannot presume to know a man's heart, intentions, or motivations outside him telling us. So handle Christian "challenges" with kid gloves. Don't be defensive when challenged. This may mean you get a little run over. Lie down and take it. Keep the main thing the main thing. If you miss all else, if you've no opportunity to share the numerous biblical truths of what it means to be saved, of "how" to be saved, don't miss "love". "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Make this "Step #1" in your gospel presentation. If you strike out in demonstrating the reality that we are all sinners, fallen short of God's glory (c'mon, most of us know that already, whether we admit it or not) .....do NOT miss the opportunity to express God's love. Not hippy love, not liberal, progressive, post-modern culture love, but God's perfect, righteous, decisive love. The love that "chose" life eternal fir us. Push back the trees to see the forest we / people live in. People "do" need a Savior. Show them! God chose you to show them. It won't always be touchy-feely. Sometimes tough-love, but always love ....the greatest of these.