When I was working on my Bachelor’s degree at Colorado Christian University, the school held annual student retreats… times when we would get away from our studies for a few days (yes, I did too study!) to attend a mini-conference in the mountains. Each year’s topic, speakers, and approach was different, I think intentionally so. I loved those times. They were timely breaks in a busy schedule.
One year (I think it was the 89-90 school year), our speaker was Dr. Russ Rogers, who was then part of the faculty of Asuza Pacific University, and is now serving as part of the faculty of DePaul University. His topic was, “Dreaming Dreams and Making Them Happen.” I found it to be very helpful as a college student with a head full of dreams. In fact, I somehow got my hands on a set of cassette tapes on the topic which I listened to many times over the next 8 or 10 years.
Keep in mind, this was in the late 80s, early 90s. The “New Age Movement” and the fear of it was all the rage in the Evangelical world at the time (why do we Christians DO that?). As a result, much of what Dr. Rogers had to say hit the ears of some of my classmates as dancing dangerously close to the edge of the New Age minefield. I think some of them thought Dr. Rogers had run headlong into it, dancing joyously as he went! As a result, during the Q&A session at the end of each talk, Dr. Rogers was relentlessly peppered with questions and accusations, which in my mind were completely unwarranted. Those attacking him didn’t seem to have listened closely to what he was saying, or to have heard his heart in it. He was far from being a New Age heretic (in my humble opinion).
After the retreat was over, I dug up Dr. Rogers’ address and wrote him a quick note. More than anything I wanted to let him know that not everyone at the event had the same opinions as the more vocal among us, and that his input and time were greatly appreciated.
Dr. Rogers took the time to hand-write a short note to me, and in it he said this…
The key to wisdom is the essential humility to reserve judgment until comprehension sets in. Clearly, each of us learns this in his own time.
Those two phrases etched themselves instantly in my memory banks. It was like a modern-day proverb, lodged there, immovable. They have informed my thinking on a variety of situations throughout the years, in powerful ways.
In a nutshell, my take-away from what Dr. Rogers was saying, is this…
- Take the time to find out what you are talking about before you start talking about it
- If you are not willing to do that, you aren’t very humble
- Which also means you aren’t very wise
His gracious reply was so instructive to me, and I’ve never forgotten it. On countless occasions it has reminded me to stop and truly listen to what others are saying before I pass judgment… to re-read the book of an author that I think I might be at odds with… to realize that I am not inerrant in my opinions or interpretations of the facts once I do have them. Sometimes true comprehension takes a long time. Other times it takes a very, very long time. As the truth of my own proneness to error soaks into my soul, his words drive me to prayer, seeking the Lord’s illumination of my darkened understanding.
Thank you Dr. Rogers. Your lesson to me regarding wisdom & humility was well taught… and I have not forgotten it.
It seems that any time a Pastor or other Christian has the spotlight hit them, there are many people, Christian and unbelieving, who seem almost eager to turn that spotlight into a negative light (look at these POSITIVE articles on Tim Tebow, & Jeremy Lin as better examples). Case in point for this post is Pastor Rick Warren. He was recently quoted as saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.
Well? Did he really say that?
You can read an excellent article on the subject HERE – and see what Rick really said.
But it also brings up a “soapbox” of mine…
Christians… get your facts straight, lest you pass along a lie!
Not to do so may lead you into the realm of slander (which is dishonoring to Christ), or gossip (which is also dishonoring to Christ). Not to mention that the New Testament says such things should not be in existence among believers!
So… when you get that next email/spam that fearfully claims Obama said this, or Rick Warren said that, or the Pope is up to such and such… research before passing it along. We, of all people, should NOT be guilty of inciting any kind of panic or fear… we have the eternal hope and goodness of Christ under girding our lives after all!
I came across this quick interview in my morning “update” and study time. It’s from the Gospel Coalition, interviewing Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, a one-time Muslim. I felt it important to post this video because it helps to clear up some of the confusion about the differences between the Muslim and Christian faiths.
My wife was having a conversation with my 8 year old daughter, Faith a few days ago. Faith had been working on a string-bracelet-thing (see the picture) that she was going to give to our son, Caleb (11 years old). She was showing my wife what she had done, pointing out the mistakes she had made, etc.
Please understand, we are not perfectionistic parents, but Mindi did want to take the opportunity to help Faith learn something about things like “doing your best, giving good gifts, etc.” – so she told Faith that she should think about re-doing the bracelet.
Faith let out a big sigh (SIGH), and said, “But I don’t really want to.” Mindi asked her why, and she said, “Because it won’t be very fun to have to do it over.” That’s where the theological conversation began. Mindi asked her, “Do you think Jesus always wants us to have fun in everything we do?” Faith said, “Yeah…”
Mindi went on to explain to her that sometimes Jesus wants us to experience difficulty, hardship, even pain – because He uses those things to teach us things that are more important than “fun” – things like self-control, trust, perseverance, etc. It was a great conversation…
Christians today (at least in America) don’t come right out and say it, but I wonder how many wrongly believe that our Lord & Master only wants us to have fun… or pleasure… or happiness… or __fill in the blank___ ? And when He doesn’t meet that preconceived “job description” we are disillusioned, discouraged, and sometimes even ready to bail on our faith entirely.
Jesus is not a Genie in a bottle. He’s not a cosmic vending machine to dole out our every desire. He’s the sovereign Lord. He’s the ultimate Master of the Universe. He’s in control of the course of our lives. And His will and desires for us far exceed any we could have for ourselves.
Faith is not about fun… it’s about learning to trust Him as He leads the way…
As you may recall, Harold Camping has been in the news a lot lately because of his prophecies of the end of the world on May 21, 2011 (isn’t it already June?). I even chimed in on the subject HERE.
Today I read another interesting article that was very helpful on this whole issue of prophecy, true and false. It was from Al Mohler, who is always astute and clear. I’d suggest anyone interested in this subject read this article. It’s well worth the 2 minutes it will take you. FIND IT HERE.
We’ve all had some fun with this “end of the world” prediction… and rightly so. As Mark Driscoll said in his talk “How Sharp the Edge?” … “Some things DESERVE to be mocked.”
I have some vitally important questions about this situation banging around in my head. There’s a lesson here - a lesson about pride & humility that we can’t afford to miss. And no, my questions do not flow out of the fact that I was not raptured on Saturday…
- How was such a long-time believer in Christ, one who has been a student of the word for years, so mistaken and deceived?
- How were so many others deceived along with him? Did nobody think to read the PLAIN teachings of scripture instead of trying to calculate some hidden code?
- How does pride get the upper hand like this… to cause a mere man to ignore a very clear statement from Jesus Himself (Matthew 24:36)?
- Where were those closest to Harold Camping as all this was going down? Did nobody who was his friend or loved one see the contradiction with scripture? Isn’t that part of what the church does for its members… keeping them on the “straight and narrow” theologically? Did nobody care about this dear man’s reputation and the honor of Christ enough to try to dissuade him? (If there was someone who tried, we’ve yet to hear of them)
And here’s the most uncomfortable question of them all…
- Am I just as prone to this kind of deception and pride? Maybe. Probably. Wouldn’t it be just as prideful (or at least heading in the same direction) for me to think that I’m not?
What does it take for us to truly battle pride? How do we make sure we are fighting deception as we should? The answer is evasive in our modern world, but not unclear. I think Hebrews 3:13 tells us what we need to know…
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We are to watch out for one another. We are to exhort, admonish, confront, “call out” each other for our own spiritutal and eternal safety and more importantly for the honor and glory of Christ, our Savior. Those are things our culture is extremely hesitant to do. After all, I might be judging someone (gasp!) if I do that!
Christians, there’s a vitally important lesson here! One I hope we will not ignore. Harold Camping’s tragic mistake teaches us that no man, no matter who he is or how well respected, or how wonderfully sincere and convincing, is able to fight the battle of faith alone. We NEED each other to keep us on track… in light of the word of God.
Father… make us THAT sort of church… for Your name’s sake!
Many may not be familiar with the term “Open Theism.” It’s a fairly recent development (last 20 years) in theological circles, attempting to explain how God’s sovereignty and man’s “free” will work together.
It’s also HERESY.
What it comes down to in the end is that God doesn’t know the future, of His own choice. Instead, He limits Himself to being a constant “responder” to the various choices that His “free” creatures make… even having to “guess” at times what is best to do. Some authors supporting this theology even say God makes mistakes at times.
Anyway… here’s a great article about the subject, written by a guy who used to hold the view, but has since turned back to a more Biblical view of God and His sovereignty! Enjoy!
GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE: A Personal Reflection on God’s Providence Over My Open Theism – by David Schrock (from the Gospel Coalition)
You may have heard the hubbub already… Harold Camping, a Christian radio-broadcaster, is declaring that the Bible says the end of the world is going to happen on May 21st, 2011. In his own words…
God has given so much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutely going to happen without any question at all.
If you want to read a good article about this… and the many, many other times various “Christians” have made these kinds of predictions, you can find one at Al Mohler’s site HERE.
What do I think of the prediction? Two simple things…
- What part of “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only,” does Harold Camping NOT understand? (Matthew 24;36)
- I’m so worried about Harold’s prediction that I’ve purchased tickets to go to the symphony with my wife as part of our weekend anniversary celebration (22 years)… see….?
Most Christians have heard this one. Most Christians have said this one. I think at one point I’ve actually said it too. But I’ve come to see that the Bible NEVER affirms it to be true….
“God will never put you in a situation you can’t handle.”
And if you buy that one, I’ve got some wonderful swampland in Florida you should consider buying…
The more I read the scriptures, the more I realize that this quote is blatantly false. In fact, it’s worse than that… it’s exactly opposite of what God typically does or what we see regularly demonstrated in the scriptures. Think about even the most well-known accounts from the scriptures…
- God’s command to Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (who wound up handling that one? Uh… God)
- God’s command to Noah to build the ark (Who wound up bringing all the animals to the ark? Uh… God again)
- How about David’s fight with Goliath (David was confident he could kill Goliath because he was such a “dead-eye” shot with a sling… right? READ IT FOR YOURSELF)
- Jesus’ command to us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Which of us is up for that one?
Though very well-meaning, isn’t this quote really saying more about OUR ability than it is God’s? Since when has God been all about telling us how wonderful WE are? how much WE can accomplish on our own? what good hearts WE have?
So back to the quote in question…
Q; Well-meaning? A: Perhaps.
Q: Accurate? A: Not on your life. In fact, it’s more akin to humanism than to Christian faith…
In a recent interview with Sally Quin of the “Washington Post” – Rob Bell, the Minnesota Mega-Pastor who is now infamous for his book, “Love Wins” said the following…
“If, billions and billions and billions of people, God is going to torture them in hell forever – people who never heard about Jesus are going to suffer in eternal agony because they didn’t believe in the Jesus they never heard of – then at that point we will have far bigger problems than a book from a pastor from Grand Rapids.”
As winsome and appealing as Rob is personally, and as reasonable as this type arguments sounds on a human level, Rob is failing to grasp a key scriptural teaching about the nature of man as it relates to the nature of God. His human-perspective (instead of a scriptural perspective) appears to be what is causing him to veer off course… Let me state the conclusion very clearly, and then we’ll unpack it..
NOBODY GOES TO HELL FOR NOT BELIEVING IN A JESUS THEY NEVER HEARD OF. PEOPLE GO TO HELL BECAUSE THEY ARE SINNERS (Romans 1:18).
Rob Bell and many others make the mistake of judging God by their human-sized perspective of what is “fair.” They think that it is not “fair” that people who never heard of Jesus, and therefore did not have the opportunity to put their faith in him, wind up in hell. But that’s a misunderstanding of how God sees the concept of “fair” (and HIS is the perspective that matters).
If you want to talk about what “fair” is – here’s a quick synopsis for you… From God’s standpoint “fair” means that every single human being who has ever been born goes to hell, no questions asked. Why? Because we are sinners and He is holy. We have no right, no merit, no reason that can or should persuade such a holy, unfathomably righteous God to give us a place in His heaven. That fact reveals to us just how fallen we really are (contrary to what the cult of self-esteem has been preaching to us for years), AND just how unfathomably pure God is. Our condition compared to His makes the conclusion crystal clear… God is not obligated to save any of us. In fact, just the opposite is true were it not for His love that motivated His grace…
That leads us to another way to come at this is this: It is by grace that anybody is saved… that means God (the Giver of the grace) gets to give His grace to whoever He wants (Romans 9:14-16). That’s the very NATURE of what grace is… You can’t demand grace. Well, I guess you can but the one giving the grace has no obligation to concede to your demand. If they did, it wouldn’t be grace anymore…
In the end Rob Bell, you don’t want “fair” – neither do I. You want grace… Without it, we are all hell-bound.