What is Faith? One Question to Get Right

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My eight year old son, Nolan, had to complete some optional activities for cub scouts.  One that we picked was Faith and Religion.  The book asked him to name some great people of faith.  Nolan asked me, “What do they mean by faith?”  I paused and thought to myself about the best way to explain it to an eight year old.  Here is the definition I came up with.

Faith is what you believe to be right and true and you are willing to stand up for it

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Bell Fails to Grasp the Weight of Infinity

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The recent release of Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” has spawned a maelstrom of reactions in both the Christian community and the news media as well.  I have been studying the emergent church movement for the past four years and so I feel it is time to throw my hat into the ring.  There is much that can be said, so much that can be said but I wanted to focus on a specific statement rather then write a novel.  One day I would like to write a book, but not today and not necessarily on the Emergent Church either.  The title of this article is a bit ironic because no one really grasps infinity.  But that is not to say that we can’t have perspectives on infinity which do it more justice than other perspectives.  One sticking point with hell that Emergent church leaders have grappled with is the eternity and finality of hell.  Lets review some quotes.

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Supporting Abortion is a Sin

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Abortion is the equivalent of slavery and the Holocaust.  When I made this comment I received a scathing rebuke.  To which I make the following statements.

Do you know when life begins? Do you know when a baby is imbued with the Imago Dei? Do you know when a baby becomes a person? Can you say for sure? I’m sure there are those that would say, “Yes I know” but there is not much I can say to such a delusion. For the rest of us we can certainly forward a guess but wouldn’t want to be held to it. If we can’t say for certain then why is the practice to err on the side of convenience rather than on the side of caution? Further God says that children are a gift from Him. Isn’t it audaciously insulting at best to return such a gift and at worst… I can’t even fathom it? Psalm 139 speaks of God knowing us before we were born further establishing the baby in the womb as a person. All persons are endowed by their creator with the right to life.

I was also rebuked for not providing alternatives and for comparing abortion to the holocaust and slavery because no one is forcing women to get abortions.  They failed to see that the baby has no choice in the matter.  During the Holocaust the Jews were the minority and apart from someone standing up for them there was no hope.  As far as alternatives; if Hitler had died after 2 years he would be known as Hitler the Great for how he had miraculously pulled Germany out of the depression. And the services continued and helped the poor into the holocaust but when good is used as a platform for evil an end must be put to it.  Just as an end must be put to Planned Parenthood.  The other Planned Parenthood services are available through other organizations and through the family which is frequently left out.

These are all arguments for an opinion and are of course helpful but I have more than an opinion to work from. God has spoken to me, the Holy Spirit has mourned in my soul over the murder of God’s children. Hear the word of the Lord! Abortion is a sin and supporting abortion is a sin, Repent, Repent, Repent and flee the wrath that is to come…

Inclusivity May end up being Exclusive

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The church practices and supports the work of evangelism to reconcile people to God through Jesus.  In the past several decades growth movements have done much to focus the church on evangelism.  Many churches have restructured their weekly services to focus on those that have not accepted Christ.  Many organizations have also put effort into reviewing language, presentations and their image to find ways to avoid placing stumbling blocks in front of those that haven’t accepted Christ.  It is a good idea to identify what might constitute a stumbling block and remove them (1 Cor 14:16) because the Church is not to be of the World but it is still in the world and is called to communicate to those in the World.  This scope has been extended by many to include looking for ways to build bridges to various groups.  Many times these methods attempt to identify doctrines and understandings of the bible that may be thought of as non-essential and that are objectionable to the world and then either down play, repackage, obscure, or list as one of several alternatives interpretations.  All this to hopefully bring the world to the realization that “God gave us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ”.  But, what does it mean “God gave us salvation through his Son”.   I believe this entails a submission or yielding to Christ as Lord not just an acceptance of Him as savior.

Romans 10:9-10
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Keeping this in mind; as we attempt to build bridges how do we decide what is essential and what isn’t?  This goes beyond the question of what we present as being essential but within the church itself what we believe and teach as truth.   Scripture tells us to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)  but how sure are we if we keep questioning what scripture says or keep saying its unclear?  This is why I feel the church has to take a stronger stance on biblical creationism along with other issues and not back down for fear that it might turn some people off.  If the creation story were merely a story of beginnings and men’s rejection of God occurred later then it wouldn’t be of such concern.  But the fall which is pivotal to the need for the Cross takes place in the story of creation.  Coming to unbelievers while we have the fall of man now placed on the shaky uncertain ground of the allegorical leaves us with a calling which becomes shaky.   If faith is our certainty but we say we are uncertain about how it all began and yes God has a story but we think God’s version of the beginning might be inaccurate then what else in scripture is inaccurate?  Are we yielded to Christ if we keep looking for ways to deal with what we find objectionable in scripture?

The other aspect of accepting Christ as Lord and making our election sure is that we shouldn’t just assume that a confession of faith means a person is saved.  The growth movements focuses on getting people in and believes that once we get their signature, their buy in we don’t have much to worry about, if they are in they are in, once saved always saved.  But what is interesting is that Matthew 7 it says “Enter through the narrow gate; for the way is wide that leads to destruction..”  Many assume that Jesus is talking to the world but in the context v21 it says “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord Lord” will enter the kingdom..”  So this passages is talking to the church.  Of those who accept Christ and are part of the Church few of those will enter the kingdom.  Our evangelism and methods in the church of just getting people in is too small and eventually may leave many out because we didn’t want to ruffle feathers by standing upon the Word and having faith inexorably in the Word and what the Word says and holding those in the church to believing the Word.  The church should consider this as it structures itself or it will risk too much.

Hiking/Camping Part 7 – Power Up

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Since the industrial revolution we now live in an age of innovation.  Electronic devices and gadgets exist to help with any problem or difficulty you can think of.  Not even the great outdoors and nature can escape this.  Tools for navigation, weather, surveying, monitoring, photographing, and generally making life in the great out doors easier exist in many shapes and sizes.  If you are going to go backpacking or camping there are some electronic devices which one might consider indispensable as well as some electronic which might just be nice to have.  I will try to list these tools requiring a power source in order of importance for appropriate consideration. Read more of this post