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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: January 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

ah...the big questions in life. As we get ready for another Super Bowl and millions prepare nachos and favorite beverages, an interesting article came out today.

Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

Well does He? The answer to that question is complex--providence, prayer, and personal growth are all involved in the answer. What do you think?

Well here is at least one Ad you won't be seeing during the Superbowl. NBC refused to show it, because "it was a political or issue ad." Now they are certainly free to do so and I am not arguing there is some huge conspiracy here or that we should boycott all media, but watch this 30 second ad and decide for yourself...given the political season we just endured--being bombarded with partisan ads--is this ad out of bounds?

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Has someone, somewhere found out that Christianity is false?

One of my favorite authors, Dallas Willard, writes something helpful here:

“…the crushing weight of the secular outlook… permeates or pressures every thought we have today. Sometimes it even forces those who self identify as Christian teachers to set aside Jesus’ plain statements about the reality and total relevance of the kingdom of God and replace them…The powerful though vague and unsubstantiated presumption is that something has been found out that renders a spiritual understanding of reality in the manner of Jesus simply foolish to those who are “ in the know.” But when it comes time to say exactly what it is that has been found out, nothing of substance is forthcoming.”—Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy)

You need to know that there are strong reasons supporting the Christian faith: God’s word, changed lives, archeological and scientific discoveries, philosophical arguments, love, goodness, and the work of the Holy Spirit—just to name a few. Don’t worry, no one has found out that Christianity is false and you are the only one who still doesn’t know.

As Christians, we don’t need to walk around as if we are afraid we have something hanging out of our noses that everyone can see but us. You don’t have to check your brains at the door. Your mind and heart are both valued as a follower of Jesus (Luke 10:27). Let us pray that we would have the courage in this generation to contend for the faith delivered once for all and to always be ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ. Listen Paul’s challenge: “do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). God is real, Christianity is true and we have no reason to be ashamed.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Christians ought to be 'pro-all-of-life"

Last week i posted on the topic of the unborn and abortion--given its proximity to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the release of Presdient Obama's new offical stance on the topic.

With that said, Evangelicals typically do a good job trying to get the unborn...born. But then that is it. Once they are born, it is usually hard to muster the fervor that existed to get those precious little ones born, for helping them have an opportunity for basic care and education.

A careful reading of Scripture will yield the following principle:

"Every human is valuable, has dignity, and was created with the capacity for relationship with God for His glory (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7; 9:6, Ex. 20:13, Isa. 43:7; Ps. 139; Acts 17:28)."

In light of this biblical principle, Christians should be passionatley and compassionatley pro-life, becasue the God we serve is. Now most of us when we hear that phrase, think only of the unborn or the issue of abortion. But this principle is much broader.

We are called to care for, respect, and protect all human life for all of life. This includes the elderly, those with special needs, the homeless, the hungry, the orphan, the diseased, the abused, those who walk in chronic poverty, and the forgotten—as well as the unborn. This is the pro-all-of-life position. This is the Christian position. They are all precious in God’s eyes and we are to be their advocate.

The prophet Jeremiah is instructive here. He insists that part of what it means to know God is to plead the cause of the afflicted:

"Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink And ado justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him."He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; Then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" Declares the LORD."--Jer.22:15-16

It also can’t be repeated enough in our churches and the broader culture that Christians’ reasons for being ‘pro-all-of-life’ are not attached to a political platform or ideology; they are grounded in sound theological, philosophical, and scientific reflection.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Case for Life, Roe, Wade, Bush, Obama...and Us

Few topics can cause more intense emotions (on both sides) than the ‘pro-life / pro-choice’ debate. As a result, it can become easy to hold a position without thinking through that position very carefully. We simply have an emotional reaction, one way or the other, and then adopt that as our default.

Regardless of the view that one holds, if we are to make progress in this area of moral concern, then we must find common ground where it exists and learn to treat others with respect—even though we may passionately disagree at the end of the day. We do this because truth matters and truth doesn’t evaporate simply because people disagree.

Before exploring the issues, I want to acknowledge that there are many deeply personal and social issues wrapped up in the topic of abortion. My intention is not to dismiss or minimize the pain, shame, or regret that women and men feel when the topic of abortion is raised. So as we look objectively at the moral status of the unborn, please remember that in Christ there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and that God is in the business of redeeming and healing broken and wounded people—and all of us are in need of that.

What a difference a day makes. In one day, the tone and policy from the Whitehouse changed considerably concerning unborn human persons.

"All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us....The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent. My Administration has been committed to building a culture of life by vigorously promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing Federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs. In 2002, I was honored to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. I signed legislation in 2003 to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion, and that law represents our commitment to building a culture of life in America..."

enter President Obama...

"On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services....On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere."

Today we learned that President Obama has reversed the The Mexico City Policy - "Specifically, the policy bans U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of U.S. Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion." In other words, American taxpayers will now have our taxes pay for abortions globally, in the name of "family planning."

The abortion rights issue has been all over the blogosphere. and there have been some really good posts. The bottom line is we cannot remain silent, we must remain civil, and we must learn how to make our case for life in langauge our culture can understand one conversation at a time? Are you prepared? Here is a case you can make in ten seconds. Here You can do it in 5 minutes.

I want to highly recomed the book The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture by Scott Klusendorf. If you read just one book, read this one.

Other helpful resources and blogs.

from Stand to Reason:

36 Years Since Roe v. Wade
Here are some important articles to equip you to change minds as the legal protections for the unborn, such as they are, begin to crumble as President Obama signs executive orders today:
The always excellent Robert George
A way to get involved
STR's library of pro-life persuasion

from Feminists for Life: It is very important to remember that many women are against abortion. There is some really good thinking--from women's persepctives--at this site. Here is a great PDF handout.

from Between two Worlds:

The Case for Life Around the Web

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

High School Seniors 'Graduating from God' ?

Why are students walking away from the church in record numbers? Well there is no one reason, but there are certainly some growing trends.

According to some of the initial findings from Fuller Theological Seminary's Center for Youth and Family Ministry, here is a compelling indicator:

"One of the most interesting findings from that pilot project was the importance of doubt in a student's faith maturity. The more college students felt that they had the opportunity to express their doubt while they were in high school, the higher levels of faith maturity and spiritual maturity [they had]."

In other words, they were given the freedom to 'own' their faith. If entertainment is the goal of youth ministry, there is no competition with what is available outside the church. Now youth ministry ought not be boring and no fun, but if the goal is to introduce students to Jesus so that they can become His apprentice for a lifetime, then we need to rethink how we spend our time.

Is the church a place where we can share doubts? Be unsure if God really exists or is good? Or that Jesus is the only way? or that the New Testament is trustworthy? I sure hope so. Because if we merely entertain students and do not give them a compelling, lifelong vision for life lived in the presence and power of Jesus, then I expect the trend of 'graduating from God' to continue.

This is one of the reasons I wrote Welcome to College. I wanted to paint a picture of a whole-life faith. I want students to engage their hearts and minds as disciples of Jesus.

If you know a student or work with youth, consider getting a copy of Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey in the hands of a student or your youth pastor. Honestly, you can't start too early thinking through these issues. Whatever we do, the price is far too high to keep going business as usual. I am hopeful that if we give students a thoughtful vision of real Christianity, it will withstand the doubts and pot holes of college life.

For whole article, click here

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning by JP Moreland

The God Question has something for everyone. It is well-written, warm, clearly argued without being overly technical, and engaging. Even if you are a skeptic and disagree with his conclusions at the end of the day, I think you will concede that Moreland has been fair, honest, thoughtful, and authentic about life's biggest question...God.

Dr. Moreland is a prolific author who has written on a wide variety of topics like: happiness, the existence of God, the nature of the soul, spiritual formation, and doubt, just to name a few.

In this book, you get a little bit of all of that (and more) sprinkled in and shaped into a compelling narrative journey of faith. Moreland does not shy away from hard topics like Hell and how can Jesus be the only way. He also spends time exploring who Jesus was and how we can know about Him in history. Moreover, he talks about the powerful evidence for God from the origin and design of the universe in an accessible manner. But this is not merely a book defending the faith (i.e., apologetics).

Moreland places these fascinating and important discussions within the narrative of the Biblical story and his own faith journey in walking with Jesus for 40 years. For example he lets the reader into his own relationship-struggles and joys-with Jesus. And then he places this discussion within a wonderful explanation of the central message of Jesus: proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Moreland paints a compelling (and jargon free) picture of what eternal life with God could and should be like according to the New Testament while also spending subsequent chapters talking about how to get good at life according to Jesus. Finally, he wraps up with an enlightening chapter on the afterlife.

Today, there is a lot of confusion about religion in general and Christianity in particular. If you are looking for a thoughtful book, written from the perspective of a follower of Jesus, and that gets past the heat and stereotypes, then The God Question is for you.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Book Like No Other

“The Bible is not a book like any other. It makes a claim that God spoke and speaks through its message. It argues that as his creatures, we are accountable to him for what he has revealed. The trustworthiness of Scripture points to its authority as well. Scripture is far more than a history book, as good and trustworthy as that history is. It is a book that calls us to examine our lives and relationship to God. Beyond the fascinating history, it contains vital and life-transforming truths about God and us.”—Darrell Bock

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BCS Championship Game - Oklahoma Sooners vs Florida Gators

OK. So I am a huge college football fan and an even 'huger' (not sure if that is a word, but it is now) Oklahoma Sooners fan. So naturally, I am pumped up for tonight's game.

But one thing to watch for is that both starting quarterbacks are outspoken Christians and take their faith in Jesus Christ very seriously.

I am a big Tim Tebow fan (though I hope he does well tonight, I still hope OU wins... ;). And he has a huge platform to talk about what really matters, these two videos give you a flavor for his life:

ESPN follows his spring break mission trip to the Phillipines:

Sam Bradford is active in FCA(Fellowship of Christian Athletes)and this year's Heisman trophy winner and his story can be seen (along with Tebow's) at

Enjoy the game and also celebrate the young lives of two good ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In His Steps....

"We must imitate Christ's life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ."--Thomas à Kempis

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.--1 Peter 2:21 (NLT)

Let us learn from Him how to really live.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Who Designed the Designer?

This is a common question. Here is what Philosopher Jay Richards has to say on the topic.

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