Sunday, August 29, 2010

God of the Gardens

My family and I recently returned from a week-long vacation in the Colorado Springs area. It never ceases to amaze me when I see our God use simply things to reveal Himself to us.

In the weeks prior to our vacation I had begun a fairly in-depth study of certain doctrines that don't get a lot of attention. To me, theology is anything but boring. In fact, few things give me a bigger thrill. However, this past week brought me out of the world of textbooks and theories and amerced me in the glory of Almighty God.

In fact, I was doing some writing about theology when I was instructed to pile into the van. Our exploration of the Colorado Springs area began at the Garden of the Gods. I wish I could describe to you the shear beauty of this place. To say it's a bunch of really pretty rocks, doesn't even begin to do it justice.

I felt like a little kid on a playground. I want to climb on every boulder, gaze over every cliff, marvel at all the intriguing beauty of my Daddy's creation. And this was only the beginning.

Throughout the week, I became infatuated with the glory that the Lord has shown us through His creation. I beheld a breathtaking view from the top of Pike's Peak. I watched the wonders of life as we got a close up view of some mule deer. I was taken by the power of a waterfall and fascinated by the intricacy of plants.

It was disturbing to walk into gift shops and see all these postcards and engravings praising 'Mother Nature' and glorifying the gospel of neopaganism. It was saddening to think of these people who were beholding the same wonders I was and yet failed to see the Maker calling them to Himself. Just as the Apostle Paul predicted would happen, these people who had a form of godliness but denied the Power thereof were glorying in the creation and not the Creator.

However, for me, all I could see was the glory of God. But just as I began to marvel at the power of my God, the Lord hit me with another thought. If I was so impressed by the details of this little ball called Earth, just imagine what the coming glory must be like.

I found creation so amazing because it pointed me toward God. But really, all the mountains and waterfalls were just shadows of His awesome glory. As I gazed over the mountain peaks, it gave me chills to contemplate one day being about the see the real deal. The Source of all glory and beauty. The Author of all majesty.

I can't wait.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

God is Love

So, I’m sitting in a hard folding chair on a Wednesday night, innocently going about my weekly retinue, completely naive to the fact that my life is about to be forever changed. I was just a young middle schooler with a freckle-covered face and bushy, red hair. As was my custom, I was sitting in our church’s regular children’s ministry, of which my dad was head.

Now, for you to fully appreciate this story you have to understand a little bit about my dad. He grew up as a missionary kid in the deserts of Peru. Growing up in a Third World nation has made him a very practical and down to earth sort of guy. He’s the type of speaker that can take a far out, theoretical concept and make it practical for every day life.

Dad’s also a big advocate of that childlike faith Christ kept talking about. To him, the accepted theological standards of modern Christendom are second (maybe even third or fourth) to the Word of God. While a very respectful and chivalrous man, my dad doesn’t have a qualm about defying the status quo if he feels the Bible and the status quo don’t quite get along.

That leads us to Wednesday night. So far, my day had gone pretty normally. I’ve played some dodgeball, recited some memory verses and colored a really cool picture of Moses parting the Red Sea. Then it was time for the Bible lesson.

My dad walked up to the little wooden podium, pulled out his Bible and began teaching. A few sentences into the lesson and the room became deathly silent. The message was so radical that it had the parents and teachers scratching their head. But it so fundamental that it had the little kids were challenged and encouraged.

Since then, I’ve heard my dad preach this sermon many times. I’ve heard it two different languages and in multiple contexts. It’s become my dad’s signature sermon. And yet, despite being able to quote the outline by heart, the message has not yet lost its meaning to me.

So what was this message my dad introduced on that otherwise normal Wednesday night meeting? It wasn’t anything new or exotic. It wasn’t some radical concept no one had ever thought of before. In fact, he preached on a word that we use every single day.

He preached on love.

Yes, love. That little word that everyone uses and no one really understands. Before that Wednesday night I thought I knew what love was. As a young child, love was the way I felt when my mom hugged me goodnight. It was that mushy thing my parents had. It was the way I felt about pizza and cheesecake.

Oh boy, was I ever wrong! My dad’s message began a spiritual pilgrimage in which I went from having a worldly sense of love to having a more biblical and Jehovah-centric view of that amazing thing we call love.

This is arguably one of he most important topics of our day or any other day. The way we view love with effect nearly every aspect of our life. It is vital to every single relationship we have - from our relationship with God, to our parents, to our spouses, to our siblings, to friends, to the guy down the street and even our enemies.

In God’s holy Word, we are repeatedly told that loving God and loving others is the center of our faith. Therefore, we cannot allow this issue to pass by without being thoroughly explored. We can’t afford to simply glance over it without diving in and discovering its complexities.

Unfortunately, we're adopted a very unbiblical view of love. Not that it really matters, but our modern conception of love is rooted in Greco-Roman philosophy and mythology. Love is generally thought of as a largely physical, emotional and uncontrollable force that simply hits a person at random times.

But the Bible tells of a very different kind of love. The very fact that we are commanded to love implies that it is a choice. We either do it or we don't. Those are the only two options.

On that Wednesday night, my dad made a very interesting observation. First, he read from I John 4:8. It's a very simple statement. "God is love."

Whenever he preaches this sermon, my dad has everyone turn to II Corinthians 13 - the infamous "love chapter" - and every time the passage says charity or love, he has everyone replace it with the word God. In doing so, we see that all the expressions of love are really extensions of our Father's character.

So, why is it that we don't really understand love? It's because we don't really understand God. I think John the Beloved summed it up really nicely.

He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.

-I John 4:8

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Calvinist Comeback

In 2009, that all-wise, omniscient source of knowledge, Time magazine, named New Calvinism as one of the top ten ideas changing the world today. There’s no question that Calvinists and Reformed theologians are doing a lot of heavy lifting lately. It’s people like John Piper, Voddie Baucham, Joshua Harris, Albert Mohler and Brett & Alex Harris who are bringing the faith of our fathers back into the hearts and minds of modern man.

So what is it about Calvinism that is drawing so many Christian to it like a magnet? Last March, I had the privilege of working with Chad Warren of Worldview Academy during TeenPact Iowa 2010. Chad believes that the answer to that question is reaction. Just as the Emergent church claims to be a reaction to postmodernism, New Calvinism is a response to the Emergent church.

Since before I was born, the Body of Jesus Christ, at least in the West, has been dominated by “feel good theology.” Emotion-centric praise teams lead worship. Pastors are judged by how many laughs they can accumulate from the audience. Youth ministries focus more on pizza and dodgeball than on biblical teachings. To most Christians today, God is a benevolent, loving grandpa and Jesus is no longer the King of kings, but the Buddy of buddies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Daddy. However, there’s so much more to God than a flippant deity who speaks softly and carries a twig. This is where Young Calvinism comes in.

You can say what you want about predestination and unconditional election, but whether they’re right or wrong, Calvinists are doctrinally-centric, Bible-focused believers. It’s not about getting a fuzzy feeling. It’s about glorifying God.

This is where Reformed theology offers something that is far too uncommon in modern Christian circles. The whole point to Calvinism is that God is God is God and He can do whatever He wants. We don’t have to like it. We don’t have to understand it. We just have to submit to it.

So, regardless of what you believe about Calvinism, there’s something that can be learned from it. When John Calvin first came on the scene, his teachings went upstream of the social status quo which was rooted in corrupted theology and dead religion. Now, our culture has stooped back to wishy-washy doctrines. It’s time for a new generation of reformers to bring our culture back to the Word of God.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Misandry - Men Don't Exist

I recently stumbled across this interesting video. I think it beautifully illustrates the broad reaching effects of Feminism in our society. While this video doesn't appear to be coming from a Christian or Complementarian worldview, it certainly does reveal a problem in our modern way of thinking.

I'm curious about you guy's thoughts of the subject. Is this is a valid point? Or is the modern perception of men deserved?