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Friday, January 30, 2009

A Personal God - Prime Reality, Part 4

In our discussion of the Prime Reality of life, the first issue one must address is the question of the existence of God. But the discussion does not stop there. If one comes to the understanding that there is indeed a God who exists somewhere outside of our time-space continuum, then the discussion must turn to the question of what that God is like. As a review, Hebrews 11:6 says,
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of those who seek Him. (NASB)

To come to God, one must first believe He exists. This is the first question of Prime Reality. The verse continues to say that one must believe "He is the rewarder of those who seek Him," which is the issue of character, or, the question of what God is like.

But where does one start the discussion of what God is like. If I asked you to describe the taste of coffee, without using the word "coffee," to someone who has not tasted it before, how would you describe it? If one really thinks about this for a while, one would probably find that it would be hard to really describe how coffee tastes. If our human language makes it difficult to describe something as pedestrian as coffee, how much more will it be to describe the indescribable God. However, we must attempt to do so in order to understand the God we worship.

I think a good starting point in the discussion of what God is like is to say that God is personal. In some of the classes I have taught, when I ask what I meant by saying "God is personal," many have answers which indicate they think personal means personable. Or they think it means God is their private God. Saying God is personal does not mean He is friendly nor does it mean He is your personal God.

God as personal means that He is a person. God is not an idea, God is not a force, God is not the universe. God is a person and has attributes of a person. God exists (Heb 11:6), God has an intellect (Psalm 104:19-30), God has a will (Acts 13:17), God has emotion (Deut 9:7, Rom 5:8), God relates to others (Exo 3:4-4:17, God is a person.

This idea of God as a person should significantly effect the way one attempts to approach God. As a person, He has set attributes which cannot be made up by the one approaching Him. For example, one may want to make assumptions about me, a person, if they come to introduce themselves to me, but just because they have those assumptions does not make them true. However, once I begin to show others what I am like, then they get to know me better. The longer they know me, the more I show who I am, and the more they get to know me. This is why usually our closest friends are those who have known us the longest or seen a lot of who we are and still like us. This time together is time sensing who each other is, or simply thinking about each other, it is time conversing and relating in intimate ways.

Similarly, as one attempts to approach God, one cannot just make up what they think God is like and then expect God to be like those assumptions. Because God is person, we cannot make God into who we want Him to be but instead must get to know who He is. We look for how He has revealed Himself to us. And, because He is not just some other human person, but instead Almighty God, we must then approach Him on His terms. Additionally, one does not simply sense God or meditate on something to find God. Since God is a person, we talk with him (also known as prayer) and relate to Him in a way we can with no one else.

God as personal is big stepping stone for our discussion of Prime Reality and "What is God like?" This single concept is radically different than many other worldviews and is one of the truths which makes Christian Theism unique. However, the question is not how unique it is, the question is "How true is it?" If our discussion is concerning the Prime Reality, the implications are far reaching in every area of life. If God is a person, then perhaps He did create humans in His image and thus all humans, in every stage of life, has inherent value. If God is person, and can think and emote and chose, then perhaps there is a basis for the things we call "right" and "wrong." If God is person, then perhaps there is a way to commune with Him and have a relationship with Him.

For those out there wondering about this, the answer is "YES! There is a way to relate to God through the person and work of Jesus Christ." Please choose Christ today! If you would like to know more, either click HERE to see how to receive Christ, or respond to this post and we can talk.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding Eureka Kansas in Houston Texas

I was in Houston, Texas this last weekend for my brother-in-law's wedding (Congratulations Sean and Sonya). My wife, my daughter, and I were driving around and we got a little lost. However, we found someplace a little familiar. Here is the picture:

You may not be able to see it (it is a poor picture) but it is the corner of Eureka and Kansas. My parents and brother live in Eureka, Kansas so the street signs at this corner gave me a chuckle and I had to get a picture of it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 1.23.09


Rhonda, my wife, while running across a major street in Houston, TX.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Intelligence Behind DNA - Prime Reality, Part 3

The discussion of Prime Reality begins with the discussion of whether or not there is a God. As a believer in Jesus Christ as the incarnate God, and a believer in the Bible being the inspire Word of God, it is not hard for me to answer in the affirmative. However, I understand that there are those out there who find the question hard and struggle to find an intellectually satisfying answer. So they would probably ask me, "Why do you believe in God?" and that is a fair question.

I do not believe one can prove the existence of God. I believe one can make the case with a preponderance of evidence, but in the end one must make the choice to believe or not believe. I think the Scripture affirms this in Hebrews 11:6, which says
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of those who seek Him. (NASB)

This verse say that, first, faith is paramount in the discussion of the existence of Go in that it says that if one is to come to Him, they must believe that He actually exists. Second, it says that the one who comes to Him must believe certain things about His character, that is, who God is. In short, for one to come to God, you must have faith in His existence and in His character. This is essentially the two questions of Prime Reality. I am not saying that God exists because I have faith He does. Obviously, things do not exist simply because we have faith they exist. I am simply saying that this issue involves faith, no matter the way one decides.

However, there is evidence of a Creator. Without dealing with mountains of material, I would simply point to the issue of DNA. I am not a scientist, but I do know that DNA contains information and in every other aspect of life, when one encounters information, one assumes intelligence behind that information. This should stagger most anyone who comes to this discovery. Even Francis Crick, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who essentially discovered DNA's double-helical structure, saw such an intelligence behind DNA he developed a theory called Directed Panspermia, which says it was possible that intelligent life on other planets seeded our planet with DNA and that we evolved from that DNA (click here for the original article - you have to at least read the abstract).

Take a minute and ponder that idea. This should bring up several questions from the thoughtful reader. First, If the answer to the source of intelligent life on this planet is that it came from intelligent life on another planet, it begs the question "Where did life from that planet come from?" If that answer was, "from intelligent life from yet another planet" then the question would be "Where did life from THAT planet come from?"

Secondly, why is belief in life on another planet easier to believe than a God who creates? Neither can be proven. There has been NO evidence that there is life on any other planet.

The point here is that even the scientist who won the Nobel prize for his work on DNA acknowledges there is an intelligence behind DNA and that chance could not account for its appearance. While this seems to be a discussion regarding the beginnings of humanity, my point is that is more about the existence of God. If the beginnings of humanity cannot be explained by natural means, and the discovery and information explosion of DNA is making that harder for unbiased scientists to do, then the question becomes "What kind of intelligence is responsible for the creation of DNA and genetic information it contains?" Many may have no problem placing their faith in a scientifically superior race of beings on another planet who could create DNA and then ship it to earth, even though this scenario does not really answer the ultimate origin of life. I find it more intellectually satisfying to place my faith in a God who creates and created humans in His own image and gave them inherent value and purpose in this life.

This is not the only evidence of the existence of God. There is so many other things. But I believe this is a crucial "clincher" for many. So the question is, "What is the intelligence behind DNA?" There is no doubt there is intelligence behind DNA. Francis Crick, in his book Life Itself, said,
An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some senses, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.

So, where do you place your faith. Intelligent life from other planets, or a Creator God? In my mind, these are the informed choices.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Giving the Masses What They Want - Prime Reality, Part 2

Over a year ago, I posted on topic which I not only enjoy talking about but I think is critical for everyone to discuss: the topic of Prime Reality (click here to read that post). Since then, there have been many hits to my site accessing that particular post. In fact, of the last 289 keywords which users have entered into search engines to access my blog, 132 specifically referenced "prime reality" in some sense. This means 45.7% of people who have saw my blog (and hopefully have read something on it) have done so because they were looking up information on the topic of prime reality. And this does not include the other posts which were related to the topic in some manner, like my book reviews which deal with the same topic.

So I think I am going to attempt a series about this issue and see if that will interest anyone. To begin with, I want to repeat what was said in the previous post and I will be from that. Previously, I said,

Put simply, the Prime Reality is the question of existence of God. This is based in two questions:

         1. Is there or is there not a God?
         2. If there is a God, what is that God like?

The previous post addressed question number one briefly and provided some links to the help with the discussion. Almost everyone above the age of 16 or so has spent time thinking "Is there really a God?" This is a fundamental question which each person must answer because it directs every other aspect of their life. This is why this issue is called "The PRIME Reality."

I stand firm on the issue by answering "yes, there is a God" and I will spend some time answering why I think this but the majority of these posts will be addressing question 2 from above: If there is a God, what is that God like?

So I hope these future posts will help you, encourage you, and will give you an understanding of this topic.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ten Moments of 2008

Last year, I posted ten memorable moments of 2007. This year I thought I would do the same. It is just a nice exercise for me to look back over the year and see how God has worked and enjoy the memories my family and I have made.

So without further ado, here are my ten memorable moments of 2008.

1. Summit Baptist Church of Wiggins, Colorado calling me as their pastor (December).
Without a doubt, this is the most defining event of the year. Even though it occurred in the last two weeks of the year, the last five years have been building toward this event. I am sure the repercussions of this event will impact my ten moments list next year (like moving, making new friends, starting a new ministry, etc.) but for now, this is the most memorable thing that happened to me in 2008.

2. Rhonda and my trip to Las Vegas, Nevada (April).
In April, Rhonda and I traveled to Vegas so I could preach at a church which was interested in me as their pastor. They put us up in the Plaza Hotel in the penthouse, and we braved Fremont street at night looking for milk (which is harder than it sounds in Las Vegas). They transported us back and forth from the airport in a limo. And we strolled through the Plaza casino in our Sunday-go-to-meetings and got some interesting looks. It was a great experience. While they obviously did not call me (see #1 above), it shaped most of my year.

3. Learning to turn wood on a lathe (beginning in May).
In May, I ordered and received a wood lathe and began a new hobby. Additionally, I began to blog about that hobby as well (see A Turn of Events). It has been fun and relaxing to start this new hobby and I know it will serve me well in the future. This shaped most of my year because now all I think about is, "If I chopped that tree down in my back yard, I bet I could get some good bowls out it."

4. Jessica and my trip to Kansas (June).
In June, my daughter and I traveled to southeast Kansas to see my family. It was a nice trip because I saw each of my siblings and was able to spend time alone with each of them. I also was able to take mom to the Lawrence, Kansas library where my brother's memorial tree is located (click here to see the post regarding Rob's tree). It was a nice time with my family. And it was a good time with just my daughter and I.

5. Working on my in-laws sprinkler system (throughout the summer).
This may seem like an unusual item to make a list like this but working on my in laws sprinkler system throughout the summer was a nice time for this year. I would go over every other day or two (whenever I recuperated from the previous work day) and fix leaks and sprinkler heads on all their seven zones of their yard. It was good physical labor for me, I would get incredibly sweaty and muddy, and my family and I spend a good amount of time with my in-laws. I did not get completely finished and will need to do more when the ground thaws, but I enjoyed working on this project throughout the summer.

6. Studying and working through the Psalms of Ascents (last half of year).
Beginning in June, I began a study of the Psalm of Ascents and posted the results of those studies on this blog (Click here for the overview of those studies which provides links to each post). The posts look like I was focused only on the outline of the passage, but this is not true. However, I posted the outlines in hope that it will help someone as they preach through these important passages. While I have not preached through these psalms, with my new church (see #1 above, again) I am looking forward to sharing these with others. I spend most of the year reading through these psalms, studying them, and working with the outlines to place where I believe I can preach through them. When I think of 2008, I will think about the time I spent with these fifteen psalms.

7. Our trip to New Mexico (July).
My family and I took a short trip to New Mexico to pick up my niece and nephew from Rhonda's side of the family. Rhonda, Jessica, and I went down to Sante Fe, spent the night at a hotel, picked up our niece and nephew at Glorietta the next day, and brought them to their Grandparents house. It was a nice, short, little trip and a great memory.

8. Rhonda and my ACTUAL anniversary (February).
My wife and I got married on Leap Day in 1992, which means we only have a real anniversary once every four years. In 2008, we celebrated our fourth anniversary (16 years for those mathematically challenged). We did not do anything special, but we did celebrate our 16 years of marriage. I posted about that in February and even posted a picture of Rhonda and me (click here to see that post).

9. Introduced to Settler's of Catan (February).
In February, a friend from church introduced us to a new game called "Settlers of Catan." I explain it as a board game of a computer strategy game. It is hard to explain but it is fun (and a little addictive). Here is the website for the game. You can also play it online for free at this website.

10. Teaching online classes for Oklahoma Baptist University Ministry Training Institute (throughout the year).
I taught my first completely online class in 2008. I had taught classes with online components of the in-seat class, but I had not taught a completely online class. I had students in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Montana. I really enjoyed interacting with the students through email and chat. I anticipate doing more online instruction with OBU. Teaching online did not shape my year, per se, but it did keep me busy while I waited for God to provide a pastorate.

Well, there they are: my 10 most memorable moments of 2008. 2008 proved to be something of wild ride. Up and down and all around, but always flying a break-neck speed. I am looking forward to 2009, although I anticipate much of the same craziness.