Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Certainty Project

Ever heard this idea.... "Believing with 100% certainty doesn't mean you've found truth - it means you've stopped looking for it."

Fascinating statement! I appreciate the genuine work-ethic, and truth-seeking, of anyone who makes such a claim. However, it also makes many assumptions about Believers (those of faith in the God of Israel, and the death, life, and resurrection of Jesus Christ).

Assumption #1: "We're that good!"
I, personally, know of no true follower of Jesus Christ who has held to any such high human standard of thinking. Speaking for myself, but likely most in the Christian community, ...I am not 100% anything! If I were ...faith would be unnecessary. More about this to come (not just a gap-fill). The writer of a Proverb, in the Christian Bible, wrote this... "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."(‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ ESV)

Assumption #2: "They're that good!"
By this, I mean to ask, in response to the certainty statement... where does it end? Is truth an unattainable, false idea in itself? If truth is ever looked for, never settled for, then doesn't that equate to unattainable? If this is true ....why bother looking for it? This follows with the idea that most true followers of Christ I know are very practical in their faith. Meaning, we are realistic. Realistic about our depraved world, human ability, and reject the idea that we'll ever find absolute, concrete, non-debatable truth in and of ourselves; at least this side of the human realm. Do you believe, with even 85% certainty there is no God? 15% chance of being wrong. And if never 100% certain ....are you certain you trust your math? Is there room for doubt? Indeed. Is there room for faith. More so. "He must increase, but I must decrease." (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭30‬ ESV)

Assumption #3: "We're that stubborn"
Really, honestly, we'd like a Moses-like meeting with our Creator as well. Most days I'd like to not have to depend on my very fallible faith. I think there may be problems with that, with being "human", if that wish ever came true ...but I'm just being honest. It is often exhausting not being 100% sure of anything. I'm not so sure that our Creator God is terribly interested in dicing up percentages for micro-measurement. Why would the immeasurable God, of Whom we claim allegiance, be tied to such values anyway? Many days I would love it if God stuck His head from among the clouds and shouted the next instruction. Again, many human problems with that. Free-will problems. "He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?" (‭Job‬ ‭9‬:‭4‬ ESV)

Assumption #5: "Faith is for fools"
Truth is... faith, practiced, aligns more with trembling assurance, and less with stubborn certainty. Faith, by definition, requires that we play a lesser role in the game of life. That proposes One who plays a greater role. My trembling assurance, awe-struck believism, does indeed strengthen my faulty faith. Faith, by proxy, is faulty ....especially if I'm wielding it. Yet, the God of the universe, whom I cannot properly fathom, saw fit to create all things, all of us, and call it good. By free-will we choose to corrupt that perfect goodness. Still... by His graceful will, through our even faulty faith in Jesus Christ, we find the calm assurance (faith) to be saved, redeemed, won back. "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (‭Genesis‬ ‭1‬:‭31‬ ESV) Surely, some would challenge that with questions about horrific events in human history; why a good, sinless, perfect, all-powerful God would even "allow" such things. I defer to a quote I was recently introduced to, by one the early church fathers. Augustine's The Enchiridion, chapter 27... "For He judged it better to bring good out of evil, than not to permit any evil to exist."

Yes, I am uncertain. In fact, I'm certain of it. :) Just having a little fun with ya', eh?? Grateful, proud, to be so. This strengthens, in fact it demands, my deep reliance on the God of the Bible. I don't trust me. I trust Him.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Beautiful Burden (Christ' Great Commission)

Today, I baptized my youngest son, as one who has believed on, and in, Jesus Christ; as Savior, and as Lord. It will be up to him to remain faithful. His burden, that as it will surely be, is light in view of what Jesus did ...that we may even HAVE such a beautiful burden to carry.

Christ has, and has had, many doubters. Doubters of who He is. Doubters of what it is claimed He's done. Doubters that He is the way, the truth, and the life; that none get to the Father short of trusting in Him for salvation (John 14:6) and committing to make Him Lord of their lives. 

Today, I will ask you, my entrusted son, to be faithful to Christ in your burden, to always think back to the cross of Christ when you struggle, to cling to Christ when you are tempted to doubt (and you will be) and to know that no reward, no success, no failure, nor any struggle, in this world, compares to what faithfully following Christ promises; according to scripture. It won't be easy. It WILL be a joy-filled adventure. But you must commit to follow, to trust as you follow, and to even trust God when you fail. Don't merely be a "Believer". Don't merely be a "Christian". Filter, through scripture, what the world teaches you about Christ. Be a Christ-follower. Call yourself that every day.

Your journey starts now. As you go on your journey consider this command Christ gives you. Trust Him in it. Be obedient to it.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee (sans Judas, who hanged himself), to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
(Matthew 28:16-20)

1. You will face doubts. You will face fears (vv. 16-17)
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:24-29 ESV)

2. When you do, go back to Jesus (v. 18)
    Study His Word
    Stay His Way

3. Be faithful. Be obedient. (v. 19)
    Do the work
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV)

4. Learn. Teach. Learn. Preach (v. 20)
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV)

5. Focus on Christ (v. 20)
It is often said... "God will not give you more than you can handle."
That is often corrected.... "God will not give you more than HE can handle."
Trust Him to handle anything, and everything, in your life. Because no matter what life throws you.... truth is, He's already handled it. You are promised a forever-home ...with Him.

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).