Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Better Argument?

“The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals.” Those were the words of Bill O’Reilly in a recent segment on Fox news. He went on to say that the argument, “We’re Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else” is “a compelling argument, and to deny that, you have got to have a very strong argument on the other side.”

Of course, O’Reilly pointed out that a bad argument on one side is not a reason for implementing public policy on the other. But is a “bad” argument truly what bible “thumpers” have? If, by “thumping,” O’Reilly means teaching that the God of the bible needs a better argument, then I wholeheartedly disagree. But, if he means that hostile and illogical thumping of sinners makes for a less-than-compelling argument, then he may have a point.

First of all, let’s agree that if the bible didn’t exist or if the bible were not the word of God, then there would be no moral debate. Scientists might argue over public health, mental health, or even birthrate implications, but morality would be off the table. The result would be as in the days of the Judges; “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Of course, the preponderance of evidence clearly shows that 1) something doesn’t come from nothing, 2) that there is a God, 3) that He has interacted with man as recorded in the bible, and 4) that when man goes against His will it ends very badly.

Secondly, if the bible is the only significant moral argument against homosexuality, then proponents of the bible must do a better job of sharing the logic of the bible. Bible “thumping” might make one feel morally superior, but it does not result in saved souls. Believers must make a better presentation of God’s claims that homosexuality (along with a whole host of other sins) are against His holy nature. God’s words are not erratic, vile hostility, but rather clear, calm, and well considered points of discussion.

Thirdly, bible proponents haven’t always done the best job of sharing God’s word in love. If we are merely “thumping” others with our bibles, we have much to learn about a “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Jonah 4:2). Unlike Jonah, we must not simply hope for the destruction of sinners. We will not influence others until they see our love for their souls.

Christians must do a better job of sharing the word of God. Nevertheless, no matter how much we fail to properly express the true words of life, they are still true words. If the best that is being done is bible thumping, we can do better. If the best that is being done is teaching the truth in love…well, that is the best that can be done, and that is what is expected of us.

A God-Designed “V” Formation

Have you ever seen geese flying south in the fall or coming back in the spring and thought about the “V” pattern they make? They do that to help overcome wind resistance. Each bird instinctively takes its turn at the front of the “V” until they become tired and move to the back. On occasion, though, we see a bird strike out on its own. Those birds do not last long in that condition. Either they rejoin the group or they fall behind.

Birds can be a bit like the church, can’t they? Observe.

1)      We are all meant to be flying together in the same direction. Sometimes those who are flying in formation need to relieve those at point, but it is always a group effort. Paul regularly praised those who helped in the work: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:4-5).

2)      The world of animals can seem cruel. While we are different from animals, the apostle Paul shared some tough thoughts in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.” In v10, Paul writes, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

3)      Striking out on our own isn’t part of the plan for geese or for Christians. Often, Christians try to “go it alone” or “take a break” from the congregation. Thankfully, many return to the “V,” but more often they get too tired flying alone and fall behind. In v15, Paul writes, “Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.” We must pray that individuals who try to face the path alone will see error in those ways and “return to the flock.” We welcome their return as our family in Christ.

Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn’t be taking notes from the geese. Is your flight path pulling you outside of His plan? Where are you in your flight toward heaven today? If you need to take a breather, ask your brothers and sisters to take lead for a bit. If you in the back of the “V” happily gliding under the work of others, step up and help in the work. If you are facing the challenges of flight on your own, come back into the fold. The church is pleasing to God when we are all flying in the same direction – toward Him, together.

All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand!

Imagine you are on a golf course on a beautiful day. Today is the first nice day of the year so you are anxious to get out there and knock some cobwebs off your clubs. You are enjoying the weather and hitting well when…it happens. You step on a sinkhole and fall 18 feet into a dark, muddy pit. For the next 20 minutes, your friends try to figure out where you went and how to rescue you! Not the ending you were expecting to that story? Sound far-fetched? Actually, this is exactly what happened to Mark Mihal, on the 14th hole of a golf course in Waterloo, Ill.

Don’t worry, Mihal is ok. His friends were able to find some rope and rescue him with only a dislocated shoulder. Apparently, while incredibly disturbing to most of us, these type of sinkholes aren’t all that uncommon is southwestern Illinois! Sam Panno, a senior geochemist with the Illinois State Geological Survey, was quoted as saying “subsurface limestone that dissolves from acidic rainwater, snowmelt, and carbon dioxide” can cause the ground to collapse. In addition, old underground mines frequently cause the earth to settle. Turns out that the ground we are walking on isn’t always as solid as we think!

Jesus tells us to be sure we are standing on firm rock and not sinking sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Too often, we trust that the ground beneath us is solid without really knowing what lies beneath. Mark Mihal had played this course several times and had no reason to doubt that the ground was solid. Perhaps, though, we are playing games in life in areas about which we have been warned by God’s word. And even though we have played those games before and we didn’t fall or stumble, God’s word promises us that it is simply a matter of time.

Those who rebelled against God have been swallowed in the sea (Exodus 14), the sand (Numbers 16), and Hades (Luke 16:23). Are you standing on solid ground today or a sink hole of rebellious living? Why not check out the true rock today? If I can help, let me know.

Watch “The Bible” with A Bible!

Many of you have commented or asked about the new series on the History Channel, “The Bible.”

I would encourage you, if you are going to watch any of this program, to do so with an open bible. I think you will be surprised at the liberties taken by the producers – things we may even take for granted since we forget some details of bible stories if we don’t go back and check them.

Illustrations that help to bring to life what the bible says are not wrong in themselves. There is nothing wrong with trying to paint a picture of what things might have looked like. Nevertheless, programs like “The Bible” regularly either go too far in invention or simply contradict the bible.

We recorded the first episode on our TiVo, and we almost wore out the pause button as I would say, “ok, pause it. Is that what really happened?” or “Did the bible say that?” or “The bible actually says the opposite, doesn’t it?” For example, in order to make the separation of Abraham & Lot more dramatic, there was a wife to blame, separation was Lot’s decision, and “Abraham” was against it. Biblically, Abram was the one who told Lot to separate and it wasn’t all a woman’s fault! Then, in Sodom, the angels were portrayed as needing Lot’s help and begging him to let them in. The bible states that Lot was the one who begged the men to come to his house! Those angels didn’t need Lot to rescue them!

There were so many of these inconsistencies and corrections, that I wonder if shows like are worth watching at all. If they get us to open our bibles and check the facts, though, then I guess it is worth watching! Krista and I watched with the girls and an open bible, and I think that was time well spent…even if the first hour of the show took us 2 hours to get through with all that pausing and discussion!!!