Tag Archives: faith

Of Babies And Sled Dogs…Both Are Innocent!

But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Luke 18:16).

Tramadol is prescribed to treat moderate pain. Prescribed to people that is. But when dogs in the Iditarod tested positive for the pain killer, well…it caused quite a stir!

The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile race through Alaska that ends in Nome in March. Sixteen dogs, and a “musher” who drives the sled, compete in this challenging race. And, during the race, the dogs are drug tested at 3 different locations.

Some say it was the “musher,” Dallas Seavey. But friends and competitors defended Dallas, saying he would never jeopardize his dogs or the sport. Also, the place in the race where the dogs were drugged made no sense strategically. Some say anti-sledding animal rights groups are to blame. Even fans are under suspicion, as there are opportunities along the race to pet and give treats to the dogs.

The truth is, we will probably never know. But one thing is clear; no one is accusing the dogs! Why? Dogs don’t dope themselves.

So, consider this: if we immediately assume the dogs are innocent, why do many Christians fall victim to a theological lie about sinful babies?

Considering children, Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to “such as these” (Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16). Furthermore, we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom. Does it make sense to say, “become guilty, sinful, and totally depraved… like these little sinners” in order to enter heaven?

Sin falls into two categories: 1) Knowing what to do and not doing it (James 4:17), and 2) Doing what we shouldn’t (lawlessness) (1 John 3:4). Babies, therefore, cannot sin. Moreover, they can’t die in sin as happens with all who do not believe (John 8:24).

And, if guilty of sin, how could a baby be reconciled to God?
We must believe (Mark 16:16); what does an infant believe?
We must repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30); can an infant change their minds/lives?
We must confess Jesus with our mouths (Romans 10:9-10); what can an infant say?
We must be immersed for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); what sins does the infant need washed away (Acts 22:16)?

But babies grow up. And when they do, they will make choices. And in those choices, knowing right from wrong, they will fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When their sin separates them from a holy God, they will have to make another choice: be saved by the grace of a loving God, or refuse the mercy of a just God. Unlike dogs, people can, eventually, choose. We don’t blame dogs in a doping scandal and we don’t look to infants to reconcile sinfulness. Mush!

Having A Faith Like Roman Concrete

Ancient Romans built impressive structures. Among the most impressive are sea walls and harbor piers that still stand after two thousand years. A study published Monday in, American Mineralogist, reveals the secret behind the concrete…and it also happens to be a great lesson for Christian living.

What is so impressive about Roman concrete? As written in the Washington Post, July 4 article, by Ben Guarino: “harbor concrete, a mixture of volcanic ash and quicklime, has withstood the sea for two millennia and counting.” One research engineer at DuPont recently called Roman concrete, “the most durable building material in human history.” Modern concrete, on the other hand, when exposed to seawater, corrodes within decades.

What’s the difference? Marie Jackson, ancient Roman concrete expert at the University of Utah, found the difference in “microscopic structures of concrete samples.” Roman concrete’s ingredients cause a chemical reaction, resulting in aluminous tobermorite crystals to grow out of a mineral called phillipsite.

The problem is that modern concrete is designed to ignore the environment while Roman concrete is designed to grow stronger from it. The crystals that grow in the Roman concrete act like armor, protecting it from cracks. Modern concrete fractures in seawater.

True faith is also designed to grow stronger by living in the world, not ignoring it.

In John 17:15, Jesus prayed to the Father: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” In Matthew 13, Jesus reminds His disciples that we cannot remove adversity from the world. Rather, He says (v30) to “allow both” (the wheat and tares) to grow together until the harvest.

In evangelism, we cannot ignore the environment we enter. Rather, we should learn from Roman concrete. We are designed to become strong, immovable, and faithful by entering a harsh environment.

Our true composition will be revealed and rewarded if we are in Christ and Christ is in us. He is the armor that strengthens our weakness. And if we build on the foundation of Christ, our work will remain eternally (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

IXTHUS Is More Than A Fish

I had the privilege of speaking to my daughters’ co-op this week. They have been studying the Greek and Roman era, and the teachers asked me to come speak on the Early Church experience in that era. As always, I find that speaking with the kids helps remind me of what is most important… more than anything I teach them, I’m sure!

We closed the lesson by making an IXTHUS, or fish, in plaster. Now, as far as many today know, the fish is just an emblem on the back of a car. If you know a little more about it, you know it is a sign of Christianity. And if you know a little more, you know that early Christians used the Greek word for fish (IXTHUS) as an acronym for the words “Jesus, Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”

Of course, an old joke comes to mind. A police officer stops a driver and wants to see his license and registration. The driver shows it to him, and the officer is about to let him go. Before going, the driver asks what that was all about. The officer replies, “I saw you screaming at that other driver and honking your horn, but I saw the fish emblem on the car, so I assumed the car was stolen.”

Two thoughts come to mind: 1) Christianity is more than simply placing a symbol on our cars, and 2) There is a radical difference in how the fish symbol is used today vs. the early church. You see, the fish symbol wasn’t boldly placed in the open…rather, it was a private sign to believers to know where to safely meet to worship.

Many Christians today are serious about their faith. They have changed their lives, radically, in order to serve Christ. They are doing what they can to live in the faith. I don’t want to downplay that at all.

But, if you are like me, you can’t help but be impressed, and a little overwhelmed, with the faith of those in the early church. At best, they had trouble working and feeding their families because they wouldn’t sacrifice to the Greek & Roman gods. At worst, they were burned, beaten, crucified, and fed to lions.

So when I teach Christianity in the early church, and I teach the fish symbol, it gives me pause. Do I have any understanding, in the freedom of America, of what it means to worship as the early church did? And, without persecution, have we lapsed in our awe and reverence? And, would we be faithful if challenged at that level in our faith?

As the disciples cried out in Luke 17:5, “increase our faith,” Lord!

Take It On Faith…And Hear The Applause!

It took a moment for David Colby to figure out what the fuss was about. David is an amateur golfer who was playing at the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs. He had just teed off on a par 3 at the 17th when he heard loud cheering and applause from the gallery…a hole-in-one!

To say the least, the look on Colby’s face was amusing. If it had been my shot, they would have been cheering because I made it on the green! Instead, Colby got a hole-in-one and won a car at the same time.

The reason Colby was clueless about his shot was the topography of the hole. He was hitting into an area where he couldn’t see the green. But there was no doubt. Why? The applause of the crowd.

There are a couple of great lessons I like from Colby’s experience:

#1, “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitudes rule those who choose to deny God, but in all other areas of life, people accept far less data than scripture provides. Colby heard applause, his caddy gave him a high-five, and a tournament director told him he won a car. He accepted, as fact, all of this, without having seen it. Why? Reliable testimony.

#2, He knew he had victory because of the applause of the crowd. Many were cheering for him. They were happy to see him succeed. Also, a hole-in-one is a rare feat in golf, and many were glad to have witnessed the shot.

The Bible teaches both lessons:

#1, Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Seeing isn’t the only way of believing. The evidence, nevertheless, is there.

#2, Hebrews 12:1 teaches that great acts of faith, by the faithful who have gone on before us, continue to cheer us on. They remind us to remain faithful, even unto death.

Listen. Can you hear the cheering? We overcome in Him. A hole-in-one may win you a car, but remaining faithful leads to an eternal crown of righteousness. Our victory is in Jesus!