Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘order’

“Science . . . contemplates a world of facts without values,” wrote William Inge, but “religion contemplates values apart from facts.”

What is “religion?”  Doesn’t everyone have a “religion,” a worldview upon which they stand?  True to their “religion” or worldview, don’t they practice it “religiously?”  My worldview determines how I see and respond to everything.  Faith in my worldview compels me to study and weigh facts.  It also compels me to set higher standards (values).  Together, these facts and values determine how I think, live, and treat myself and others.

My worldview tells me that science/facts and “religion” (faith)/values are not exclusive of one another.  The atheist and I both put our faith in something; then we, true to our faith, practice it.  The atheist doesn’t want to believe in an authority higher than himself.  I, however, have discovered that when I place myself on the throne of “authority,” I put myself and others at risk.

Facts are necessary.  Facts include more than science but also history and consequences of behavior.  My faith in God’s Word of Scripture, for example, is not without fact.  The Bible is fact.  It is recorded history.  It is eye-witness accounts.  Father telling son or Jew telling Gentile.  The Bible is backed up by facts.  Archeological evidence and scientific documentation abound.  My worldview impresses upon me the need for such facts over and above feelings and opinion.  I cannot trust my feelings.  They change with mood and circumstance.  My opinion is biased.  The law of gravity, on the other hand, is fact.  So are history and experience.  So, while I may feel like jumping off the roof of my house, it serves me well to remember that when my dad jumped off the roof of a barn, he broke his arches.  The law of gravity, together with history and experience, are beneficial to me.  Faith enters in for both the atheist and myself as a Christian, most especially when something happens that we didn’t see or can’t explain.  Both the atheist and I will act as people of faith: faith in something.  I didn’t see my dad jump off the barn.  I didn’t hear his cry.  Even though I can’t explain exactly what happened, I have faith in what my dad told me.  Faith in his words prevents me from a foolish (and painful)  jump.

Let’s assume, as Richard Dawkins insists, that there is no creator.  No creator of all that ever has or ever will exist; no creator of persons (bodies, minds, and souls); no creator of boundaries for the function, care and protection of those persons; no creator of conscience; no creator of all things right, honorable, merciful, and true.  In such a world, I become the “authority” of my life and Dawkins becomes the “authority” of his.  But, what values do we harmoniously work with for the benefit of community?  My values will be shaped by my “god” (me) and his will be shaped by his “god” (him).

Let’s be honest… and willing to expose our core faith.

Someone like Dawkins doesn’t want to acknowledge the Creator God who brings order out of chaos.  He resists the valid conclusion of both faith and science that Someone higher than himself exists.  Yet, in reality, he’s putting his faith in something.  Himself!  His core faith is himself!  He may claim to wrap himself in science and demean those of faith.  Nevertheless, he is practicing his faith.  And his values, like all values, flow out of his faith: whatever he believes in.

Science and facts divorced from faith and values?  No.  All are interrelated.  The more I study God’s Word and the more I am informed by facts — of biology, anatomy, archeology, and history, the more I recognize God at work.  Intelligent and orderly design.  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

At the end of his life, Charles Darwin reflected on his work and confessed, “I was a  young man with unformed ideas.  I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire.  People made a religion of them.”

Louis Pasteur declared in one of his lectures, “Science brings man nearer to God.”

Read Full Post »

Sometimes it’s easy to think that chaos rules.

But, does it?

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,” asks God of Job.  “Tell me if you have such insight.  Who determined its dimensions . . . who stretched a measuring line over it?  On what were its footings sunk?  Who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Who shut the sea behind gates . . . and said, ‘You may come this far but no farther.  Here your proud waves will stop” (Job 38:4-11).

God, the creator of the universe, has never and will never relinquish control.  It would be contrary to His very nature.  The God who connects the chains of the constellation Pleiades and unties the ropes of Orion (v. 31); the God who sends lightening flashes so that they may go and say to you “Here we are” (v. 35); and the God who put wisdom in the heart and gave understanding to the mind (v. 36) is the God who provides food for the crow when its young ones cry . . . (v. 41).

Does chaos reign?

Too many times, it would appear so.  But, there is plenty of evidence which tells me that God, not chaos, reigns supreme.  Did you know, for example, that the Quran (Koran) can’t be translated into any other language?  That means that most people being converted to Islam have little understanding of what they are taught to recite.  Contrast that with the fact that God’s Word, the Bible, is published in 95% of the languages of the world.

Did you know that in Europe, religious questions are back in the culture, in part, because of the rise of Islam and its repercussions?  And, have you noticed the growing number of bestsellers by atheists during the past several years?  Atheists and die-hard evolutionists are writing on the subject of God being bad or terrible.  Why would they do that if they truly believed they’d already won the argument and that God doesn’t exist?  Ten or 20 years ago it would have seemed odd for atheists like Richard Dawkins to bother writing about a mythical figure.

Does chaos rule?

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed One.  “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”  The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them . . . (Psalm 2:1-4).

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne (Psalm 4:8).

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.  For I am doing a work in  your days that you would not believe if told (Habakkuk 1:5).

It may appear that our culture has lost its moral footing.  Even though we still live at the same address, we may feel as if we’ve been taken captive to Babylon.  We may feel paralyzed and powerless to engage.  But, while God is doing His work, there is something we can do, too.  We can live.  We can live as men and women eager to glorify God.  We glorify God when we mentor with His Word for the sake of others.  God even provides a mentoring model that, when used, transforms the culture one man, woman, child, neighbor, and community at a time.  This model was first given to a young pastor named Titus so that he and his congregation could affect the lives of others seemingly captive to a pagan culture.  Ponder that model in Titus 2:1-8.  It most certainly caught my attention.  (Visit Titus 2 for Life )

Does chaos reign?

It may appear that our world is spinning out of control.  But, we don’t have to be paralyzed.  We can do something.  We can resist “silly myths.”  Just as we can train ourselves to eat healthy food and exercise, we can “train ourselves for godliness.”  We can “toil and strive” because we have a future of hope “set on the living God” (1 Timothy 4:7-10).

In chaos there is darkness.  But, this is the season of Advent.  During Advent, we light candles.  Candles remind us of the Light; the Light that cannot be overwhelmed:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  he was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . .  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-5; 14).

God, the Creator of the universe, has never and will never relinquish control.  It would be contrary to His very nature.  The God who connects the chains of the constellation Pleiades and unties the ropes of Orion sends darkness to cower in corners.  He is the Word come to earth in the glory of Jesus Christ.

That glorious Word brings order out of chaos.

Read Full Post »

This nation is slipping.  Morally.  Ethically.  Spiritually.  Silent Christians have a lot to do with it.  But, so do Christians who are mingling with the world.

Andree Seu, writing in WORLD (11-6-10), paraphrases comments made to her by Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf.  With both hands about shoulder-level, roughly 12-inches apart, Rep Wolf explained to Seu that we have “the church” here and “the other world” here.  He posited that this is always a constant distance of separation.  Seu writes,

“Where the thing gets scary, explained Wolf, is that as the world moves toward greater immorality, the church continues to keep the same distance from it.  That is to say, the church is sliding into debauchery along with the world, just at a slower rate.  What is important to note is that this slippage from God is not so easily detected because the gap between church and world remains the same, and so we seem, to ourselves, to be doing OK.”

In the first session of my Titus 2 Retreat, “We Are Vulnerable,” I ask the group to give examples of “silly myths” that lead to “social experiments.”  Believing “silly myths” (i.e. abortion is a woman’s right or two women who love each other should be able to marry) inevitably leads to social experimentation.  Such experimentation is actually tampering with God’s design.  This is never good for a people who want to imagine beyond themselves to new generations.  God’s design brings order and new life.  Experimenting with His design brings chaos and death.

We are vulnerable, I explain during a Titus 2 Retreat, when we profess Jesus Christ as our Lord but wrap Him around silly myths and social experiments.   There is a saying: “We become like the company we keep.”  We become like the world — even though we think we’re keeping a distance — when we begin to mingle (just a little here or a little there).  When we let worldly ideas of spirituality, worship, the roles of men and women, marriage, family, and children weave into Christianity, we’re in trouble.  Truth does not embrace or wrap around worldly ideas.  Truth and the world are opposites.  A lesson from history gives some clarity.

In the Old Testament book of Ezra, we learn that the king of Persia was going to allow the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem.  They had been exiles and captives for a long time.  It’s important to note that only a small number of Jewish exiles wanted to return to their homeland.  Most were unwilling to give up their Babylonian property or lifestyle to go back to their old ways.  So, because there was such a small group of workers, the rebuilding of Jerusalem became more difficult.  There were people in the area who offered their help.  Those people didn’t believe in God and held to a blend of mixed religious beliefs.  It goes without saying that they had motives of their own.  The Jewish people refused the offer of help with their building project.  Why?  1) The task was given exclusively to God’s people; 2) accepting help from non-believers would obligate God’s people to pagan ways; and 3) the potential for corruption in worship was too great if God’s people became aligned with non-believers.  (Ezra 4:3)

A Christian, wanting to be progressive, might think: If I embrace the best parts of a worldly idea, I will be able to move forward the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a modern way.  But, too often, moral-influence flows the opposite direction.  God knows that.  Therefore, He says: Don’t mingle; dig in.  Dig in to the One Who is not of this world (John 18:36).  Jesus says, “I am the Light.” The world is dark (John 1:4-5).  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  The world is deceptive and leads to death (John 10:10).  “My peace I give you.” The world offers no such peace.  (John 14:27)  For this reason, St. Paul was inspired to write in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Don’t mingle.  Dig in.

To mingle with the world is to walk on shifting sand.  For awhile, public opinion might lean one way; then, depending upon anything from the economy to a national crisis, public opinion can suddenly shift the opposite direction.  Andree Seu explains that there is “a little thing called the ‘Overton Window.’  It is the term for an insight by a Joseph P. Overton that at any given point in the stream of a population’s public life there is a ‘window’ that contains or frames a range of opinion that is currently acceptable.  Outside that window lie the ideas considered wacko.  The intriguing thing is that what is ‘acceptable’ and what is ‘wacko’ can (and does) shift.  The window itself moves — and clever and diabolical forces have an interest in moving it.”

What was “radical” yesterday is “acceptable” today.  The unthinkable, notes Andree Seu, can go from “popular” to “policy.”  Remember.  Ideas like abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and euthanasia used to lurk in the shadows of the American landscape.  Not anymore.

I’m an ezer woman who lives in a culture where “evil” is called “good.”  For this reason, I’m compelled to dig heels into the foundation of God’s Word but, at the same time, push forward with weapons of truth.  As ideas and behaviors spiral downward, the one who follows Jesus is called to be intentionally polite.  Kind.  Pure.  This will irritate some and be seen as naive by others.  But, for a neighbor caught momentarily in darkness, the light may shine more brightly.  The Word of Truth, kindly spoken, pulls from shifting sand to solid ground.

There is a model for those who no longer want to mingle but, instead, dig in.  Curious?  I invite you to explore Titus 2 for Life.

Read Full Post »

God has entrusted to men a noble and high calling.  I truly believe that, in my vocation as a woman (ezer, “helper”), I am called to encourage men to be all that God has made them to be.

I must pause here to note that I’ve been surrounded by godly men.  They, themselves, would admit that they are far from perfect.  They have failed.  But, aware of their high calling, they have never abused, abandoned or left me uncovered and at risk.

Without a doubt, there are women who do not trust men because they have been deeply hurt by them.  On several occasions, while speaking to this or that group, I’ve recognized the pain and anger in the body language of a woman in the audience.  In a way, I am grateful when the angry woman approaches me because I am given the opportunity to do two things: 1) Validate her feelings, not because I can understand them, but because they are real; and 2) Point her to the perfect Man, Jesus Christ who loves, respects, covers, restores, and heals all women — no matter what the circumstances.

Yes, men have hurt women.  But, the modern feminist movement with its twisted and distorted sense of equality has struck a cruel and damaging blow to men.   Men may respond in anger or passivity, neither of which are good for women.   I fear for the family — indeed, our nation — when men are openly disrespected, labeled “idiots,” and demeaned in every sort of way.

Over the years, I’ve spoken to groups of younger and older men.  In a Bible study entitled Called To Remember (Lutherans For Life or Concordia Publishing House), I encourage men by reminding them how much women, children and society need them.  I’ve also apologized to them for the ways women tease, confuse, and fail to respect Biblical manhood.

God created women to be faithful and discerning helpers of men because “it was not good that man be alone” (Genesis 2:18).  When given the choice, why would a woman who loves the Lord choose to tear a man down rather than build him up?  Why would a daughter of God in Christ turn from her special role to covet that of another?  Even if she has been hurt, why would a thinking woman fall to the behavior of a cruel and abusive man?

Silly women play competitive games with men.  Odd, I think, that women who have been given the ability to bear life, connect men to children, shape attitudes, build relationships, and nurture a future of hope would despise such awesome privilege.  God created male and female to be equal, but He didn’t make them at the same time, in the same way, or for the same purpose.

There is a lot more I’d like to say, but here’s my conclusion (for now).  I am a better woman because of godly men: my dad, husband, two sons, four grandsons,  father-in-law, brother, two brother-in-laws, and twelve nephews.  Do we think and act differently?  Oh yes.  Do they frustrate me?  Oh yes.  Do they disappoint me?  Oh yes.  But, when danger lurks at my door, I want to stand behind my husband.  When an unhealthy culture concerns me, I want to look to my Christian sons and see hope.  When silly women weary me, I want to step away for awhile to enjoy the company of sane and sensible men.

In every way I can, I promise to support and encourage the men that God places in my life.   It seems to me this will be to everyone’s advantage — male and female.

Read Full Post »