Archive for September, 2006

On Eating Out

My wife Karen and I have eaten out a few more times than usual in the past few weeks. Travel is one of the reasons for it, but that’s another story. Because of it, I got thinking about how being a follower of Jesus relates to sitting down in a restaurant and (hopefully!) enjoying a meal. A tip of the hat goes to Greg Koukl at Stand To Reason for these thoughts.

When we eat out at a “sit-down” restaurant, we deal, almost entirely, with the waiter or waitress. It’s possible to make an impact on them, even in a short period of time. The fact is, most people treat the wait-staff like servants – badly, in other words. Therefore, we have a wide-open door of opportunity if we treat them with respect and dignity. After all, aren’t we supposed to treat everyone that way? Of course we are! Each and every human being bears the image and likeness of God and therefore have value, worth, and dignity and are worthy of respect. Remember, too, the “Golden Rule” (that’s how you would want to be treated).

There are a couple of ways we can do that:

  1. Learn their name, and once you’ve learned it, use it.
  2. Look at them when you talk to them.
  3. Say “please” and “thank you.” We learned that when we were young and it’s still important.
  4. Tip well. Between 15 and 20% is appropriate. Whatever you do, don’t leave a gospel tract in place of a tip. If you do, they most likely won’t read it and may be even more turned-off to Christianity than they were before.

Jesus is Lord of every part of life. Yes, even eating out and how we relate tothose around us when we do.

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The Lion King

Phil Ryken has written an excellent article on lions at the reformation21 blogsite. Read it and see how it relates to followers of Jesus Christ.

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2 Kinds of People

It seems to me that there are two kinds of people in the world (no, this isn’t the beginning of a joke!). Those who want justice from God and those who want mercy from Him.

Those who want justice from God are convinced that their good works, or merit, can earn God’s favor. “Look at all I’ve done for You, God. I’ve been baptized. I’m a member of a church. I sang in the choir for a little while. I attend church on most Sundays. I try to be nice to my neighbor, and I haven’t been involved in any scandalous sin,” they may say. Someone might even say, “I’m in full-time ministry, Lord. What more do You want?” This kind of person actually thinks that God owes them a place in heaven because of what they’ve done.

Those who want mercy from God know without any doubt that they don’t deserve any place at all in heaven – in fact, they’re convinced that if they deserve anything it’s hell. They say, “Lord, all of my righteousness is as filthy rags before You. I’m a sinner by nature and by choice, and therefore, I deserve Your wrath, judgment, and condemnation. It’s only by Your grace, Lord, that You’ve forgiven my sins and adopted me into Your family. Without Your mercy, I’d be up the river without a paddle.” This kind of person knows that heaven is a gift they don’t deserve and all the praise and glory goes to Him.

Those who want mercy from God understand the gospel. Those who want justice don’t. It’s that simple.

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This is a prayer called “Sins” written by a Puritan in a book called The Valley of Vision.”

Merciful Lord,
Pardon all my sins of this day, week, year,
all the sins of my life,
sins of early, middle, and advanced years,
of omission and commission,
of morose, peevish and angry tempers,
of lip, life and walk,
of hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption, pride,
of unfaithfulness to the souls of men,
of want of bold decision in the cause of Christ,
of deficiency in outspoken zeal for His glory,
of bringing dishonour upon Thy great name,
of deception, injustice, untruthfulness,
in my dealings with others,
of impurity in thought, word and deed,
of coveteous, which is idolatry,
of substance unduly hoarded, improvidently squandered,
not consecrated to the glory of Thee, the great Giver;
sins in private and in the family,
in study and recreation, in the busy haunts of men,
in the study of the Word and in the neglect of it,
in prayer irreverantly offered and coldly withheld,
in time misspent,
in yielding to Satan’s wiles,
in opening my heart to his temptations,
in being unwatchful when I know him nigh,
in quenching the Holy Spirit;
sins against light and knowledge,
against conscience and the restraints of Thy Spirit,
against the law of eternal love.
Pardon all my sins, known and unknown, felt and unfelt,
confessed and not confessed,
remembered or forgotten.
Good Lord, hear; and hearing, forgive.

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I ran across this brief (and certainly truncated) argument for miracles. It’s something to consider in our defense of the faith.

1. God exists.
Science itself has shown this to be a high probability. It’s also inevitable in terms of logic and common sense.

2.Since God exists, His intervention in the world is hardly unreasonable or unthinkable. We would consider it unusual if God did not intervene from time to time in the world He created.

3. No argument against miracles or miraculous activities holds weight. While arguments can be made against miracles, nonr of them are persuasive.

Conclusion: Miracles, while rare and unusual by definition, happen.

The question then, is, are the miracles recorded in the Bible reasonable and historical? Given the massive and overwhelming support for the Bible and its accuracy, the answer is yes.

(Once again, this argument is brief and bare-boned. It’s not complete and isn’t meant to be. It could be far more fully developed than I’ve presented here. My point in bringing it up is that it’s something worth thinking about in the defense of Christianity. there are good reasons to believe that miracles take place and that they shouldn’t be dismissed a priori.)

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Justin Taylor, at www.9Marks.org, has written an excellent article on what’s known as “the emerging/Emergent church.” If you’re not familiar with it, you will be after reading this excellent piece. Read it here.

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What is the first line of defense we have as Christians as we defend the faith and think well for the glory of God? No, it isn’t the Bible, which may come as a surprise to some. It’s our mind! Yes, our mind. Before we ever open a Bible, we use our minds – we think and reason. As we read the Bible or any other piece of literature, we use our minds – we think and reason. After we’ve closed the Bible, we use our minds – we think and reason.

Quite often, you and I don’t even have to open the Scriptures to know whether something is true or a giant, heaping bunch of malarkey. If we know how to think, follow an argument, and critique an argument, we can come to a conclusion pretty quickly. When we’ve done our homework, we know if someone is giving us a flawed argument or a good one. I don’t need to find a Bible verse to tell me if the law of non-contradiction is being violated or an argument is self-defeating, I know it because I’m working at training my mind to recognize it.

In no way does what I’ve said downplay or minimize the importance and primacy of God’s Word. I’m simply saying that an a number of occasions, we don’t even need to open a Bible to make our case (or to poke holes in someone else’s). We have to use our minds to understand what God is actually saying to us in Scripture. Sometimes we have to think long and hard to know what’s being taught and how we should respond. If you want to know what “all Israel will be saved,” means (Rom. 11:26), you have to use your mind. If we want to know what it means practically to follow Jesus Christ, we can’t do it without thinking.

One of my favorite phrases in all of Scripture is in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come let us reason together,” says the Lord. God has given us minds that are amazing! We can’t forget our first line of defense.

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The Media and Islam

Paul Marshall says “much of the media is intellectually unequipped to report on the Muslim world,” in a recent piece he wrote for The Weekly Standard. He’s thinking more broadly of the forced conversions to Islam of Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig, and dealing with the journalistic aspect (not the theologiacl issues involved). In my opinion, I don’t think most of the American media is intellectually equipped to report on the Christian world, either. Just my two cents.

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Stan Guthrie has some interesting thoughts on Christians and our involvement in culture. He says, “Granted, Christian cultural engagement is risky – but disengagement is even riskier.” Read the rest of the article here.

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Thanks, Steve

Until about six years ago, I had never heard of Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin. Now, I’m familiar enough with him to be saddened by his death.

A friend told my wife and me that we had to make sure to catch this guy on TV who wrestled crocodiles and said things like “crikey!” and “She’s a beauty!” We followed our friend’s advice and were drawn to Steve Irwin like a magnet. His energy, excitement, enthusiasm, and passion were infectious. You found yourself caring about and being interested in animals because he was so engaging. You rooted for him to succeed. You waited to see what he would do next and what animal would crop us this time. He loved his vocation and calling – that was obvious – and had a passion for teaching and trying to persuade others.

Steve Irwin left a mark. He had a strong influence upon our culture. All it took to be convinced of that was a trip to a Taco Bell. My wife and I ate dinner at that establishment of fine dining this evening. As we went up to the counter to order, there was a piece of paper taped to the counter which read “R.I.P. Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin.” To the best of our knowledge, we’ve never seen a sign like that before. Irwin’s death is no small thing, to be sure.

Irwin has a lot to teach those of us who follow Christ. How excited are we about Jesus? Are we enthusiastic, passionate, and engaging or dry as dust? Do we draw people around us like magnets or drive them away like last week’s garbage? It seems to me that we need a few more men and women who follow Christ with an enthusiasm and personality that is infectious and engaging. Imagine what might happen.

Pray for Steve’s wife and two children – they’ll need it for a long time to come.

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