What is Your View of Freedom? “Determinism, Chance, and Freedom,” John Frame

As a second online assignment for the students of my Apologetics Class at St. Stephen’s Academy, I have chosen John Frame’s article, “Determinism, Chance, and Freedom.” 1. Read the article and then 2. Write a paragraph answering the question, “What is your view of freedom?” 3. Post as a comment. 4. Post a response to at least one of your classmates.

You need not be one of my students to join the conversation. Post your own answer and respond to any participant. Ask questions toward better understanding of freedom.

Published in: | on October 13th, 2013 | 8 Comments »

William Lane Craig for My Apologetics Class 2013

If you are a student in my Apologetics Class at St. Stephen’s Academy in Beaverton, Oregon, then your assignment is to view each of the one-minute video clips below in which Dr. William Lane Craig answers the title questions and then post your best response including your personal answer to the question.

If you are not one of my students, then I invite you to comment. Whatever you write could be of help to my students and to me.

Best Argument for Belief in God

Can We Trust the Bible Written 2,000 Years Ago?

Can We Trust Religious Experiences?

Can There Be Meaning without God?

How Can Christianity be the One, True Religion?

Published in: | on August 27th, 2013 | 22 Comments »

Sermons on Isaiah 52-66

Isaiah 52: 1-15
“The Grand Procession”

Isaiah’s prophecy is at times dramatic. It is difficult to read it as a set of propositions or merely as a legal document God has served to his sinful people – full of dry legalese and archaic language. The words leap off the page! As the prophecy unfolds, it is not unlike watching a play performed, but it is more like the actors in the play inviting us, even imploring us to join them on stage, to enter into the drama. In Isaiah 52, it is difficult for us to think, “God is rousting Judah out of her slumber and sin.” Rather, we hear God calling us, speaking to us, his voice ushering from these ancient scrolls, piercing through time and culture gaps, ringing in our ears as if he were speaking directly to us.

This chapter is structured around two rousing cries. God commands, “Awake, awake!” in (1) and then in (11) he commands, “Depart, depart!” God is rousing his people to join a parade led by Messiah, leaving the gates of Jerusalem in grand procession sprinkling the nations of the world with divine grace. This is the pilgrimage of a lifetime! This is the final and grandest of all of God’s missions to gather the nations to his Son. This is a description of the whole of these last days, from the passion of Christ to the Final Day of Judgment. “Awake, awake! Depart, depart!” Don’t miss the parade; fall in line behind the Son and go out into the world and into the new heavens and new earth. Read sms messages. Google maps on cell phone. Free cell numbers. Spy cell best phone spy app. Sim card reader pc. App cell tracker. Trace cell phone location.
Continue reading »

Published in: | on March 12th, 2013 | Comments Off

Searching for a God Particle- A Parable

We sit in the art gallery, silent yet full of beauty. The guest artist has promised to make an appearance. The doors open admitting a socially awkward entourage of irreverent natural scientists who use a bullhorn to tell us that they are hiring lab rats to help them find the God particle. Any of us in the gallery who wishes to work for a handsome hourly wage is part of the research team. The lead scientist demonstrates our task. With a blade he scrapes a bit of paint from the canvas of one of the masterpieces. He deposits the paint flakes into a glass dish, adds thinner, mixes to an even consistency then smears it on a slide. “Take your time; prepare small smears; We are looking for something quite small; and you are being paid by the hour.”

The lead scientist tells us to start with those parts of the paintings that most likely would represent God – the light rays filtering through the fir grove, the artist’s signature, or the gilded dome on the distant horizon. A pantheistic looking girl ignores him and starts to scrape some mossy rocks along the banks of a stream. A materialist scrapes gold leaf from the dome, and while the natural scientists peer into their microscopes, he deposits the gold into a baggy stashing it in his pants. Most of the scrapers dutifully smear slides stacking them beside the microscopes, filling out their tedious forms, a grave sense of historical importance on their faces.

I sit on the viewing bench, my scalpel in hand unable to join the others at the canvases. I slide around to face the opposite wall to gaze at the unscathed paintings. I imagine the curator storming into the gallery ordering the guards to escort the desecrators to her office. In time she enters, smiles and chats with the lead scientist, taking her turn at his microscope. I learn later that the natural scientists and the museum have been rewarded an impressive grant to conduct this research together.

The painting directly before me depicts a horizon. The sky is orange and vast. The earth is yellow. The line between is thin and straight. I can see for miles. I wonder how it is that the artist can capture with the variation of two colors and one black line the immensity of nature. I find myself drawn into the painting walking rapidly away from the scraping pigment and the clicking of slides. The minimalist’s world of yellow and orange is focused upon the distant horizon stirring an expectation for some cataclysmic event or an eschatological figure arising from the thin, straight line. From where do these images and longings arise? They are certainly not painted. Are they figments of my imagination? I decide to wait for the artist who will answer the question for me. The artist will explain to me what is not painted but seems to be powerfully present.

On the bench beside me is a brochure, a guide to the exhibit. I read the section describing the painting before me. The artist quotes, “Do you believe because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen but believe.” It is as if the artist anticipated the scraping behind me. While his quote doesn’t completely answer my question, it does make sense as I observe the painting. My strong desire is to walk to the end of the yellow, rise above the line and explore the orange. But then, orange is my favorite color.

Published in: | on February 7th, 2013 | 7 Comments »

Sermons on Isaiah 41-50

Isaiah 41:1-20
God Gathers Jew and Gentile

In our day, we highly value beachfront property. What do you prefer for your holiday? A walk along the beach or a retreat in the mountains? In Isaiah’s day, the most valued real estate was Mt. Zion, the holy city, Jerusalem with God’s temple at its center. What is of utmost value in Isaiah 41 is God gathering his people into a covenant dwelling with him. God is gathering his children from the ends of the earth and so the imagery of Isaiah 41 reflects this in terms of geography. The closer one is to God’s holy mountain, the better. The coastlands in Isaiah’s prophecy refer to those on the fringe, those far away from God’s mountain. God’s redemption and restoration of his creation has not stopped with the gathering of Israel to Mt. Zion. He continues to gather some from every tongue, tribe and nation, from the ends of the earth. In our text, God addresses the coastlands, those people who have yet to stream into the holy city on Mt. Zion.

From Isaiah 41 we learn about how God gathers people into his covenant love. Continue reading »

Published in: | on January 14th, 2013 | No Comments »

Upon the Tragedies of Newtown Ct., Clackamas, Oregon and Mass Shooting of 2012

Our entire nation is mourning the evil deaths of the children and teachers in Newtown Ct. and the two beautiful adults in the Clackamas Town Mall in Oregon. These gunmen did not merely exercise their free wills to do their evil. Truthfully, their wills were not as free as we would think, influenced by countless failures, sins, wounds, delusions, and perhaps, illness. As we pray for God’s comfort to rest upon the families and neighbors of the dead and as we mourn the disruption of our communal peace, we are also wondering, “Is there anything that we can do to prevent such tragedies in the future?” I have been making a list and though incomplete I submit for your consideration:

1) Live by the gospel and encourage others to do the same – people who actually apply the gospel to their behavior do not kill their neighbors.
2) Curb the amount of violence your children/family/friends watch.
3) Put a severe limit on the amount of time your children/family/friends play violent video games.
4) Put a limit on the amount of time your children/family/friends spend in alternate/parallel worlds. Read fantasy and SciFi, but also read other genre and balance it with nonfiction.
5) Instill in your children a work ethic.
6) Do not pressure family members to pursue merely one course in life – college isn’t for everyone; some high school graduates benefit from a gap year to do a service oriented project; other children should enter the work force earlier than they have been; if there is a closed job market, then volunteer, go on a mission -work for the good of others.
7) Join a church fellowship where relationships are being forged and where the whole counsel of God’s word is preached regularly.
8) Encourage regular conversation with friends and family, especially children. Ironically, a typical American parent allows his/her child to watch illicit behavior on the screen but will never talk to the child about illicit behavior. It is better to engage in regular conversations about sex, violence, evil, habits, relationships, God, human nature, genocide, famine….than it is to watch it on TV or in a movie without any wise analysis and evaluation in conversation.
9) Reach out to people on the fringe of your communities – developmentally disabled, mentally ill, socially awkward, underemployed, unemployed, people going through divorce, abuse, addiction…Reach out in love – do not retract in fear.
10) Do not resist going to counseling. If anyone you love thinks that you should see a psychologist, then do it. If anyone you know seems to need psychiatric help, then do everything you can to move him in that direction. If you have subscribed medication – take it – take the doses your doctor has suggested.
11) And…promote the inestimable value of each and every individual human life.
12) Put off divorce if at all possible; it is devastating for children – actually for all family members.
13) Pray regularly for repentance in our nation and neighborhoods – a daily personal repentance.
14) If you own guns and keep them in your home (especially if you have children) then invest in a gun safe and keep your guns secure.

Published in: | on December 14th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Sermons – The Prophecy of Isaiah Chapter 40

Isaiah 40:1-5
“The Servant Brings Comfort and Glory”

The narratives of the life of King Hezekiah have ended in Chapter 39 with God’s message of judgment: Babylon will soon invade and destroy Jerusalem with its temple relocating most of Judah to Babylon. The God of infinite justice has delivered his verdict: Guilty! Judah is guilty of syncretism, idolatry, civil war, oppression, selfishness and greed. God has delivered his sentence: the destruction of Jerusalem; the destruction of the temple; 70 years of captivity in Babylon. What more must the God of infinite justice say? The prophecy of Isaiah is a series of cycles – the same message of God delivered to Judah during the reign of four kings – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Each cycle announces God’s judgment against disobedient Judah, as well as the pagan nations surrounding her. But these prophetic cycles are not merely announcements of judgment; these cycles also include messianic promises – the foretelling of redemption, reconciliation and restoration. And so, it is no surprise to us as we begin to read Isaiah 40 discovering these sublime poetic lines of God’s comfort, and better yet, God’s revelation of his glory. Continue reading »

Published in: | on October 29th, 2012 | No Comments »

What Would You Say? Felix Baumgartner Breaks the Record at 128,000 Feet!

“Let me tell you – when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don’t think about breaking records anymore, you don’t think about gaining scientific data – the only thing that you want is to come back alive.” Felix Baumgartner upon touching ground after jumping 128,000 feet from his balloon.

Watch Felix’s jump

What is a mentor? Felix insisted on hearing only one voice on the radio while he descended toward earth – the voice of his mentor, Col Kittinger, who has held the record since his jump in 1960. BBC Science Correspondent, Jonathan Amos wrote: “Col Kittinger, now an octogenarian, has been an integral part of Baumgartner’s team, and has provided the Austrian with advice and encouragement whenever he has doubted his ability to complete such a daring venture.”

Published in: | on October 14th, 2012 | No Comments »

Happy – Documentary Supports Christian World View

Recently Glenda and I watched the feature documentary, “Happy,” and found it to be supportive of the Christian world view. Apparently only 10% or less of our happiness stems from our circumstances. (Like the apostle Paul wrote of his contentment in all sorts of circumstances, evening suffering.) The larger percentage of our happiness is connected to our genetics while another large percentage is connected to what we do regardless of our circumstances. The documentary showcases the research in the newer field of Positive Psychology. It also takes us on a world tour of happy communities interviewing towards the source of happiness. In our material world where many believe that more money will produce happiness, this documentary claims that once your basic needs are met, then money does not buy happiness. There is a noticeable increase of happiness when a person increases income from $5,000. to $50,000 but there is little increase of happiness from increasing from $50,000 to 50 million. This documentary may remove some of your discontentment and direct you toward an increased happiness. For me, nothing has produced more happiness than the good news that I am no longer an orphan but a child of God.

Published in: | on October 7th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

God’s Grace is Sufficient for You Even As You Slip into Alzheimer’s

Several members of the Evergreen Church, where I serve as Pastor, have been slipping into the mists of Alzheimer’s and it is most disconcerting. These are beautiful and effective followers of Jesus who are losing not only memory, but also control over daily details of life. They are saying things that are difficult for loved ones to hear and more often they are talking nonsense. The good news of the gospel is this: No matter how tangled your mind becomes or how thin your memory wears, God’s grace is sufficient for you. Our relationship to God and his eternal love for us does not diminish as we lose our minds. If you think that you are saved only if you can remember the date and time of your conversion, then you may find it difficult to face a loved one, who has walked with Jesus for many years only to lose all present memory of it all.
With one of my dear father’s in the faith, today, languishing in the hospital, jumbled in conversation and out of sorts, I realized that God’s grace is sufficient for him. It’s not particularly what he has done or particularly what he remembers at any given moment that protects his standing as a child of God. This is most encouraging. He will finish well as God gives him the grace to do so.

Published in: | on September 25th, 2012 | 3 Comments »