Confident Faith - December 2018

God and I have this thing at Christmas. He almost always surprises me with a gift. He knows how much I love music - especially Christmas music - so little wonder most of those gifts have been centered around a song.

All the more remarkable that this year [2015] I didn't even think to start listening to Christmas music on the radio until sometime around the 8th of December. There have been a lot of distractions late this year.

Driving to work this past Friday, as I turned onto Industrial Drive, a beautiful soaring duet came on the radio - a soft piano opening, the female lead's pure solo, the confident male accompaniment delicately blending and balanced so perfectly. Gave me chills. Sometimes in beautiful music you can hear Heavenly reverb. That's what I heard.

The song was the first in a set, followed by 2 others. I waited for the radio announcer to name the song and the artists, and ... guess what? He mentioned the last song, but not the others. This has happened before, and like the other times, I was not a happy camper.

So here I was given a wonderful and beautiful blessing, and I'm upset because I can't listen again and share the song with my family.

Sunday morning I'm at my computer trying to find my way to the name of the song and the artists. I found many beautiful Christmas songs ... but not that one. Later as I started the car for the drive to church, there was a Christmas song playing on the radio. Then, as I neared Highway 167, the next one began - a soft piano opening, a soaring female voice ...

This time the announcer named the artists, and with a few words of the song, I was able to look it up! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66kZYVVzjow

Yes, God gave me a gift, and, as most of us with longer associations with Him know, the gift is almost always Himself - whether wrapped in a song, a deeper glimpse into His Word, or a fresh peek at a baby in a manger on a cold night.

These touches from God strengthen our firm foundation and lead to a more Confident Faith. 

Merry Christmas! 

Harold

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Confident Faith - November 2018

Christian thinker, Francis Schaeffer, died in 1984, but he was a man whom God allowed to see the future. Schaeffer saw, wrote, and spoke about the church and our cultural degeneration these almost 40 years from his death. I just received an email from Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason (str.org) talking about Schaeffer's notion of the "mannishment of man" and how we can take advantage of that notion in witnessing to others who might otherwise totally tune us out.

"Because we all live in God's world and are all made in God's image, there are things all people know that are embedded deep within their hearts - profound things about our world and about ourselves - even though we deny them, or our worldviews disqualify them.

Consciously, we construct a system that satisfies our demand for autonomy - for self-rule. We say there is no God - at least, no God to worry about. We say there is no ultimate purpose in life. We are free of those constraints. We live by our creed - "You do you," - our modern motto.

But then our words betray us when our guard is down. Our actions - actually, our re-actions - tell a different story, revealing deeper beliefs, tacit convictions that conflict with our man-made philosophies, accurate intuitions about reality we cannot deny even when we try. "That which is known about God," Paul wrote, "is evident within them; for God made it evident to them"" (Rom. 1:19). Our mannishness cannot be suppressed.

Here's how Schaeffer's insight can be useful to you:

  • Listen to the way people talk. Watch for when - from their own mouth - their acknowledgment of reality intrudes on their philosophies.
  • Then exploit that tension by asking a question. In a world without purpose, why is death a tragedy? If there is no ultimate, universal morality, how can anything really be evil? Why try to talk someone out of a suicide? If there is no meaning to life, what's the point?
  • Listen for when a person's "mannishness" speaks. When they tell the truth -—and they must, eventually—- point it out, and see what they have to say. It's a rather simple way to get them thinking."

The church library has several books by Francis Schaeffer - and several by his wife, Edith. We also have two excellent books authored by Greg Koukl - "Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions" and "The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between".

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - December 2017

One of my favorite movies is the 1985 western "Silverado" starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, and Danny Glover. Glover plays "Mal", a prodigal son character who left his parents' farm for the big city, Chicago. He eventually decides the city is not for him only to return and find his father living in a cave after his farm had been stolen, his mother dead, and his sweet little sister survivng as a saloon floozy consorting with a cheating gambler. Mal is frequently heard saying "That ain't right!" and goes about setting things right. His part intertwines with the other heroes who are doing the same thing from different directions all converging on the corrupt rancher and sheriff who have taken over the town of Silverado.

Proverbs 24:11-12 is a call to action for us in situations that prompt a "That ain't right!" response:

"Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?"

This passage does not leave inaction as an option. Jesus did not take a pass on the "That ain't right!" of sin. He stood up, took on human form, and walked all the way to a bloody cross for us. God's word should compel us to action - to stand and not be quiet in the face of lies, and to present a gracious yet firm reason for the Truth - the "Hope within us" of 1 Peter 3:15. How are we doing standing up to evil?

As an example. look at the German Christians who largely rolled over as Nazisim grew in 1930's Germany. A few stood and paid the price but most just sang hymns louder as the trainloads passed enroute to the extermination camps. Look at the American church that largely rolls over in the face of cultural pressure for abortion and same sex marriage. Let me make a staggering point. The German holocaust may have killed over 20 million people, but since Roe v Wade legalized abortion in the United States, close to 60 million human beings have been killed!

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate those who are right-minded on abortion and other evils, those who pray, and those who take the extra step to give money to organizations like Life Choices -- but the action words "Deliver" and "hold them back" of Prov 24:11-12 are a call for active personal involvement, a call for action!

"That ain't right" situations in the world need to be confronted with Confident Christianity in Action. What are you doing?

Harold

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Confident Faith - October 2018

Echoes of Transcendence

In the foreword to the 2014 book, "The Stories We Tell," Timothy Keller wrote, "I believe the Big Story of the Bible -- creation, fall, redemption, and consummation -- is so pervasive, so all-encompasing of our world, that we cannot help but echo it (or movements within it) when we're telling other stories."

It seems these themes are universal attractions as if we were actually created to live them, rather than as stories simply created for our amusement. Think of great books or movies you've seen that fit this. "A Tale of Two Cities" comes immediately to my mind. You will even recognize these themes and plots in some secular entertainment.

Below is something I wrote about a year ago along a similar vein of inexplicable (in a secular sense) echoes of transcendence - something beyond us not limited by time and space - we seem to be born with. It was meant merely to save my thoughts for later development, but I think it fits here as is. Take it as something to spur your thoughts.

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Why are we so drawn to epic heroic fiction like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings? We give the greatest honor to those who give their lives in sacrifice for others.

What does that say about us? Does it give clues as to our origin? Can this arise from random interactions of atoms or a survival of the fittest ethic?

Something within us says, "This is right." "This is worthy of our lives." The noble way is a real and higher road.

We desperately desire to give ourselves to a cause greater and grander than ourselves - to be a part of a heroic cause. We crave the transcendent.

We may try to deny it, but we are drawn to transcendence as a moth to a flickering candle flame. Perhaps, though, it is the flame that has sought us - like God approaching the bush with the purpose for which it was created.

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How can you turn a conversation toward witnessing? Perhaps you can bring up common echoes of transcendence, and then show the fulfillment of the echoes in the Gospel.

Harold

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Confident Faith - September 2018

Evolutionary scientists - in hush-hush backroom meetings of their own kin - are now confessing the impossibilty of current evolutionary mechanisms to create anything! They are searching for new mechanisms. It may be a few years before you see them publicly backtracking and even longer to get the lies out of the science and biology text books.

"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
― Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

Those theologians would be chanting, "In the begining, God ..."

Here is a humorus parody of evolution's claim that time + matter + chance can create all that has come into being:

"Once upon a point of infinite density, Nothing that was Something went boom. Then there was Everything. Everything eventually named Something Matter, the tragic character in our story. Sadly, Matter had no mind; yet this makes our tale all the more amazing!

Now Matter had only one companion, the hero of our fable, a mysterious stranger of unknown origin called Chance. Chance, though blind, was a brilliant artist. Chance taught mindless Matter to paint, and paint our pupil did. Matter painted a universe from center to rim on the canvas of a vacuum. And lo, innumerable galaxies emerged, filled with infinite wonders, beauty, order, and life. The inspired brush strokes of ignorant Matter, guided by the hands of blind Chance, created a cosmic masterpiece.

But as Matter and Chance were working away, they failed to spot our villain called Time. Time crept in unnoticed back at the boom and was extremely wound up about being stirred from his sleep. Time determined there and then to wind down again and thus rub the masterpiece out – as soon as he got hold of that Chance! Chance, being blind, didn’t see Time coming, and mindless Matter was helpless to intervene.

Now Time ruins the painting little by little and brags that by Chance, it’s just a matter of Time before the canvas is blank and the boom will swoon and everything that was Something will be Nothing again, once more a pointless point of infinite nothingness with no Time for Chance to matter anymore."
― Joe Boot, Searching for Truth, Discovering the Meaning and Purpose of Life , pp 53-54.

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