Saturday, November 29, 2008
The good news is that "Quantum of Solace" is not the worst movie ever made. That distinction goes to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
But QS is bad. Precisely because Daniel Craig has not one quantum of solace. Not one tiny indivisible entity of inner peace. And his face shows it. Craig's is the most monodimensional face in any movie I've ever seen, except for the robot Gort in the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still." I'm not expecting James Bond to break out in Jim Carrey-type grins but Sean Connery's Bond had more than an occasional twinkle in his eye. Craig's eye is as mischievous as a quark (but even quarks have six flavors).
I had trouble following the story line for the same reason I have trouble understanding quantum physics. The theatre I was in had poor sound. Linda and talked about this and then agreed that even though we had trouble hearing the words we didn't miss anything anyway.
Last week Linda and I went to Subway. "What would you like?" asked the young man behind the counter?
"A tuna sub on honey oat bread."
"What would you like on it?"
"Swiss cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, extra hot peppers, oil and vinegar."
He then asked me, "Do you know who you sound like?"
I thought, to this kid I sound like Chuck Norris. I felt a warm feeling inside. I felt bigger, taller, stronger, more dangerous, more capable. And the only words I said were the ingredients of a sandwich.
Since then I've talked out loud while driving alone, just listening to the sound of my voice. A few times I've thought, "I do sound like Chuck Norris." I speak, and my enemies tremble.
Today's Toledo Blade has a nice article on Darren Wilson's "Finger of God" and promotes Chris Overstreet's School of Supernatural Evangelism at Redeemer.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
(Monroe County Community College)
BE THANKFUL FOR A KINGDOM THAT CANNOT BE SHAKEN
- Hebrews 2:18
We’re not in control. Agreed? Things we don’t control include: the global economy, what’s happening in India today, what’s happening in Bangkok today, other people, our own addictions, the weather, the common cold, gas prices, nations, the past, the future, most of what’s happening now, and death. Because these things are fundamentally out of our control or anyone’s control, attempts to control them sometimes get ugly, such as when we try to control other people.
All these uncontrollable things shift and move beneath our feet and before our eyes and make life uncertain. Sometimes the very foundations of our life get shaken and we get fearful. This has happened to me and will happen again, I am certain.
Many years ago my life was shaken. “I” was out of control. My choices and their results left me in a fearful condition. It was then that I looked to Christ. And something inside me shifted. The shift was from a heart that trusted in fundamentally uncontrollable things to life in a “kingdom that cannot be shaken.” This shift has been, for me, THE event of my entire life. Now I spend most of my time seeking the kingdom of God, and studying the things of the kingdom, and looking to God for strength to live these things out. I’m not the perfect kingdom citizen. But, like others I know, I’m the recipient of God’s kingdom. The result is that I am thankful. And it causes me to “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
PRAY, WATCH, BE THANKFUL
- Colossians 4:2-3
I think there are a lot more people who call themselves “Christians” who are not devoted to prayer then there are those who are devoted to prayer. I don’t mean to judge people re. this, but for years I’ve led conferences and taught on prayer throughout the United States and around the world. “Devotion to prayer” is lower in America and Europe than in Third World countries. I have found that the more one enters into the Third World the more devotion to prayer there is. Why?
Because the more stuff one has creates the illusion of un-neediness. And, a person has to be very, very busy to acquire all the stuff, so “there’s no time to pray.” In reality we’re all very needy. In America, mostly, we just don’t realize it.
The same, I think, is true for “watchfulness.” The American way of watching is passive, unengaged media-gazing. Media-deprived people know what it is to be watchful, like the farmer standing in his field gazing deep into the horizon searching for rain. True watchfulness follows from true neediness.
Paul instructs us to be devoted to prayer and to watchfulness. Real watchfulness contains an element of mystery. The media-illusion casts a spell of “knowledge” on people, masking the truth that this world we live in, to include our own selves, remains fundamentally a great mystery. The more mystery, the less we know we’re not in control, the more watchfulness emerges.
I find it interesting that Paul next instructs us to devote ourselves to being thankful. Thankfulness follows from prayerfulness and watchfulness. This is because a person who is devoted to prayer and watching has a great sense of need and dependency. When one is needy, then provision is not so taken for granted. Hence, thankfulness emerges. Gratitude happens.
Give your life to being thankful. Focus on thankfulness. Love being thankful. Make thankfulness a priority. Dedicate to thankfulness. Get a prayer life. Get a watchful life. Get a thankful life.
OVERFLOW WITH THANKFULNESS
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
- Colossians 2:6-7
At age 21 I received Christ Jesus as Lord. I welcomed Jesus. The result is that for the past 38 ½ years I have lived in him. Not perfectly. Jesus is God, I am not. But my receptiveness to Jesus has so changed my life that I wonder if I’d even be alive today were it not for him. I have sunk my roots into the deep, rich, life-giving soil of God’s kingdom and never left. If anything good has come into me and through me to others it’s Jesus, flowing through me.
And I am thankful. I feel thankful today. I don’t always feel that way, and when that happens I’ve lost the forest for the trees. I see the darkness and miss the light. I rarely feel ungrateful. Sometimes, I’m just in neutral – not ungrateful, but definitely not overflowing with thankfulness.
To “overflow,” literally, means to have more than a full cup. When a cup of water is full it overflows. Overflowing is the indicator of fullness. Therefore to be filled with God’s Spirit is to necessarily overflow. Part of this overflow is a thanks-shaped heart. It’s a wonderful way to live this life. It’s life sans bitterness. It’s for every day, every week. It’s even for Thanksgiving week.
Receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
Continue to live in him.
Sink your roots deep into life in his Kingdom.
Be built up in him. Construct your life in him.
Find yourself being strengthened in faith.Let the overflow of thankfulness pour forth.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
(This is especially for those who heard my message last Sunday out of Luke 18.)
This is high Christology; viz., the claim that Jesus makes regarding himself being the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish Messianic promises. There are things that are going to unfold and happen in Jerusalem when Jesus gets there. It’s like Jesus us saying to his disciples, “You’ve heard of these things before. You’ve longed for these things to happen. Now’s the time.”
So what did the prophets write about? I’m going to present the reasoning of Dr. Michael Brown , using his synopsis found in Lee Strobel’s The Case for the Real Jesus. I find his analysis compelling. He’s a great scholar, having done his Ph.D in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from NYU. And, he’s a Jew who has found Jesus to be the Messiah. Here are Brown’s bullet points. (Many of these are simply direct quotes from Brown’s interview.)
1. Long ago, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God gave specific promises to the tribe of Judah regarding the covenant God made between himself and Israel. For example, Genesis 49:10 says “The scepter will not depart from Judah.” There was a man named Jesse who was of the tribe of Judah. Jesse had a son named David.
a. Lee Strobel asked Michael Brown the question – “How important is this passage?”
b. Brown said: “It’s almost as if God said, ‘I want to make it so absolutely clear Yeshua is the Messiah that it’s undeniable.” I almost feel as if God would have to apologize to the human race and to the Jewish people for putting this passage into the scriptures when it so clearly points to Yeshua if he didn’t really mean it.”
a. God says to the people of Israel – “Forsake me… and I will destroy the temple in Jerusalem.”
b. And, sure enough, all of this happens in history.
a. God gives Daniel a revelation about the temple being rebuilt.
b. Before this new temple is destroyed, Daniel is told that several things are going to happen.
c. This includes the bringing of everlasting atonement – the final dealing with sin.
a. The prophet Haggai lives to see this second temple built.
b. But it’s nothing like the first temple, Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple was a stunning physical structure, far more imposing than the second temple. It also had the glory of God there. When sacrifices were offered, fire came down and consumed them.
c. The second temple didn’t have the presence of God or the divine fire.
a. Haggai 2:6-9 - 6 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty. 8 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 9 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."
b. God would fill the second temple with his glory. But when God says he’ll fill the temple with glory, He’s talking about filling the temple WITH HIS PRESENCE.
16. The prophecy of Haggai is fulfilled when Jesus enters the temple courts and says things like “I am the light of the world,” and “If you are thirsty come to me.”
a. In this regard Michael Brown says – “So it’s not a matter of maybe there’s another one who’s the Messiah. If it’s not Jesus (“Yeshua”), then throw out the Bible, because nobody except him accomplished what needed to be done prior to AD 70.
i. What divine visitation did take place if not for Yeshua?
ii. When else did God visit the second temple in a personal way?
iii. Who else atoned for sin?
iv. How was the glory of the second temple greater than the first?
v. Either the Messiah came two thousand years ago or the prophets were wrong and we can throw out the Bible.
vi. But they weren’t wrong. Yeshua is the Messiah – or nobody is.” (Strobel, Case for RJ, 198)
For the full text of Strobel’s interview with Brown pick up The Case for the Real Jesus. It’s an excellent read – the entire book.
For Brown’s more complete and scholarly writings on this go here.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"
Sunday, November 23, 2008
(See: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy [IEP], "Foreknowledge and Free Will")
Consider these two statements:
- A) God knows that Paul will eat an orange.
- B) Paul will eat an orange for lunch tomorrow.
Each of these propositions, by itself, could be true and could be false.
But if A is true then B cannot be false. For if A is true (i.e. if it is true that God knows that Paul will eat an orange for lunch tomorrow) then B is also true.
Put another way: the truth of A guarantees the truth of B. This is to say that:
(1) It is impossible (for A to be true and for B to be false).
The compound sentence, A and not-B , is impossible (i.e. is necessarily false).
It reads: It is not possible that: God knows that Paul will eat an orange tomorrow and that Paul will not eat an orange tomorrow.
So, that entire statement is: TRUE.
"Now it is a curious fact about most natural languages – English, French, Hebrew, etc. – that when we use modal terms in ordinary speech, we often do so in logically misleading ways. Just see how natural it is to try to formulate the preceding point this way" (IEP):
That is, because (1) is true, it seems that (2) is also true. And (2) is:
(2) If A is true, then it is impossible for B to be false.
It reads: If [God knows that Paul will eat an orange tomorrow], then it is not possible that [Paul not eat an orange tomorrow].
Statement (2) is: FALSE
NOW NOTE: the proposition expressed by (1) is not equivalent to the propositions expressed by (2).
So (1) is true. But (2) is false and commits the modal fallacy.
The fallacy occurs in its assigning the modality of impossibility (necessity), not to the relationship between the truth of A and falsity of B as is done in (1), but to the falsity of B alone.
AGAIN (1) states: It is not possible that [God knows that Paul will eat an orange for lunch tomorrow and Paul choose to not eat an orange for lunch tomorrow]. THAT’S TRUE.
BUT (2) DOES NOT FOLLOW LOGICALLY: If [God knows that Paul will eat an orange for lunch tomorrow] then it is not possible [that Paul can choose to not eat an orange for lunch tomorrow].
If (2) was true, then it would be NECESSARY that Paul chooses to eat an orange tomorrow.
But the statement “Paul will eat an orange tomorrow” is a contingent, not a necessary, statement. Therefore (2) is false, and not logically equivalent to (1).
 In formal logic, a modal logic is any system of formal logic that attempts to deal with modalities. Traditionally, there are three 'modes' or 'moods' or 'modalities' of the copula to be, namely, possibility, probability, and necessity.
Oprah Winfrey is a false prophet who has referred to herself as a “Christian” but who embraces a mix of mystical teachings that are unrelated and antithetical to actual Chrsitianity. This is seen in her love affair with the ideas of a man who calls himself “Eckhart Tolle.”
I am suspicious of anyone who changes his first name from “Ulrich” to “Eckhart” and then writes about being truthful and authentic. This is because, in my doctoral studies, I did an independent study with medieval scholar Richard Kieckhefer (Northwestern U.) on the German Christian mystic Meister Eckhart. Meister Eckhart is, historically and even spiritually, interesting. But he’s questionable when his idea of mystical experience approaches what sounds like the possibility of a metaphysical union with God.
Does “Eckhart” Tolle understand Meister Eckhart? I can’t tell. But he’s definitely on the metaphysical union side of things, except it’s far from clear that the m-union has anything to do with God. It’s more like the old “surprise – you can be one with the Universe” kind of thing. At any rate “Eckhart” Tolle is a universe away from Christianity.
When Oprah promoted Tolle’s book I thought, “She’s even more dangerous and off-base then I thought she was!” Now, in a new book called “Oprah, Miracles, and the New Earth: A Critique,” Chicago theologian Erwin Lutzer takes on the “Church of Oprah.” Lutzer says: “If you understand Christianity, you understand that the kind of new spirituality that is being propagated by Oprah is incompatible. It’s a form of occultism that is being packaged for American audiences.”
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Dr. Michael Brown is a Jew who has come to believe that Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Brown is arguably the greatest defender of Jesus the Messiah today. He did his Ph.D in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He’s one of the scholars interviewed in Lee Strobel’s excellent The Case for the Real Jesus. Brown makes a clear and compelling case for Jesus being the fulfillment of Old Testament prophetic Messianic hopes. I loved what Brown said in his concluding remarks to Strobel.
“Yeshua is the right continuation of my Jewish roots. He’s the Messiah of Israel and the savior of the world. He’s the one to whom I owe my life, and through him I’ve come to know God.
He is the one who provided for me complete forgiveness of sins, who loved me when I was a miserable, ungrateful, rebellious, proud wretch. He put a new heart and a new spirit within me; he has turned my life around and given it meaning. He’s the fullness of God in bodily form. He’s the very expression and image of the Father – in seeing him, I see and know God.
And he’s the only hope of the world. Outside of him, all we see is darkness. He’s the hope of Israel. Israel will run out of options and finally in the end recognize that the one it thought was the source of all its pain and suffering through the years actually is its only hope.
He’s the beginning and the end, the all in all. I cannot imagine existing outside of him. I can’t imagine purpose in life outside of him. So really he is the ultimate expression of God to the human race. That’s why I’m spending my life talking to Jewish people – as compassionately and accurately as I can – about the reality of Jesus the Messiah.
I just can’t withhold God’s very best from those he dearly loves.” (225)
I find these to be good words, especially today, given the global fears that surround us. Political solutions fail. Yeshua is the only hope for the world.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
“The world of the near future will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over resources, including food and water, and will be haunted by the persistence of rogue states and terrorist groups with greater access to nuclear weapons,” said the report by the National Intelligence Council, a body of analysts from across the US intelligence community."
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Today's cnn.com has an article re. Roman Catholic bishops who will confront Barack Obama on the abortion issue. The article states:
"Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is preparing a statement during the bishops' fall meeting that will press Obama on abortion.
The bishops suggested that the final document include the message that "aggressively pro-abortion policies" would be viewed "as an attack on the church.""
Monday, November 10, 2008
Tired of reading Christians who demonize our political leaders? If so, then consider some actual wisdom from Billy Graham. It’s his 90th birthday, and he is interviewed at christianitytoday.com.
Billy is asked:
I understand that you are an avid TV news and talk show watcher. Were you following the presidential campaign? Any endorsements?
Graham responds: “I’ve always tried to keep up with what’s happening in the world, and I still do—including politics. But no, I’m not making any endorsements, and I’m staying out of partisan politics. I’m grateful for our system of government, and I strongly urge people to vote—but I don’t endorse any candidate.
I also strongly urge people to pray for our new leaders, whoever they are, because they will be facing enormous problems, and they’ll need great wisdom and patience from God to deal with them. I pray also that they’ll be able to work across party lines on these problems, and avoid the partisan wrangling that we’ve seen in recent years.”
Now there’s a biblical idea. It’s 1 Timothy 2:1-7 -”1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” If you or I have a problem with some elected leader God has allowed us to see it so we can pray for them. Surely God loves them. Jesus told us we’re even to love our enemies. Personally, I don’t view any current elected leader as my enemy precisely because I am free to live out the Gospel and preach it. What if that changes? I don’t see that stopping me either. Don’t panic or spread panic. Instead, pray.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
a. Love God first
b. Love others second
c. Love self
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
#1 - "No election has electrified the U.S. like this since 1968." Probably TRUE.
#2 - "The whole world wishes it could cast a vote in this one." FALSE. If taken literally. True if taken figuratively? I don 't know. How could one tell?
#3 - "Whatever happens, this U.S. election will change the world." FALSE. Ahhh, the excitement of the media.
#4 - If the upside-down kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed comes the world will be changed. TRUE.