Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank You for Your Service

This is a heart felt thank-you to all of the faithful men & women of the U.S. armed services, here at home and abroad. We appreciate your dedicated service and sacrifice, not just on November 11th, but all throughout the year. As Christmas approaches, I pray that Almighty God will protect you and keep you safe, comfort you and your families during your seperation, and bring you home safely.

Photo Credit:
John Tlumacki, staff photog for the Boston Globe

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seven Score and Five Years ago...

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln addressed the audience of around 15,000 at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Hot on the heels of the more-than-two-hour speech delivered by Orator Edward Everett that was officially the dedicatory speech for the cemetery, Lincoln delivered his 277 word speech, eulogizing the dead soldiers and re-affirming the civil war effort. Though he thought his words would be quickly forgotten, this Gettysburg Address has survived as one of the most enduring speeches in history. It marked a turning point in the nation's sentiment for both the war and the emancipation of the slaves.

Earlier this month, seven score and five years later, America elected her first black president in Barack Obama.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Casting Down Imaginings: Is Global Warming a Man-made Phenomenon?

SunriseThe good scientists over at ICR have published an eye-opening article about the relationship between global warming and greenhouse gases, that turns the standard explanation on it's head.

Many climatologists, including Dr. Larry Vardiman, disagree about the role of CO2 in this respect. They have found that the observed increase in CO2 (whether produced by human activity or not) is not causing global warming, but is perhaps caused by it!4 Dr. Vardiman was featured in a video presentation in which he referenced a graph showing that the fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 follow after corresponding fluctuations in atmospheric temperature.

In addition, “the detailed temperature record since 1850 shows a temperature decline between 1940 and 1970 [a time when massive amounts of industrial CO2 were entering the atmosphere], which flies in the face of the explanation that a continuous exponential increase in carbon dioxide causes global warming.”4 Dr. Vardiman has also demonstrated the remarkably close overlaps of temperature to sunspots, indicating that solar cycles are more likely the cause of global warming.

Bet you haven't heard that in the media. It reminds me of Earl Nightingale's advice, "If you want to be successful in life, simply watch what most people would do in a given situation, and then do the total opposite--nine times out of ten, you'll receive greater rewards." In this case, listen to what most scientists say about global warming, then believe the opposite. Not, perhaps, as good a rule of thumb as Nightingale's advice, but eerily appropriate in this instance.

Since I have never blogged about ICR before, I'll just take a moment to introduce them. The Institute for Creation Research is a Creation Science ministry that conducts scholarly scientific investigations and hosts a Graduate School. Their mission is to equip "believers with evidence of the Bible's accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework." They use good science to uphold the straight forward teaching of God's word, and fulfill Paul's commission in 2Cor 10:5:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God

Keep an eye open for shared articles from ICR in the right sidebar.

Evidence for Creation

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, impeaching the Catholic practice of selling indulgences, to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the spark that led to what we now refer to as the Protestant Reformation.

The Lutheran Church sprang up following the excommunication of Luther and his supporters from the Roman Catholic Church in 1520. Ultimately, the Reformed (Calvinist) and Anabaptist traditions also emerged from this quiet beginning, though some modern Baptists claim the practice of baptism by immersion continued unabated in Anabaptist sects from the times described in the book of Acts, right through to the Reformation and on to today.

At any rate, if you consider yourself saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, then it is a good day to thank the Lord for that Grace and remember Martin Luther's life and work to free the truth of the Gospel from the tyranny of ancient Roman Catholic tradition of salvation by works.

Now, isn't that better than dressing up like deamons and other baddies, and knocking on strangers' doors to beg for candy?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A.Word.A.Day Keeps the Boredom Away

Since I'm already on a roll today of recommending other websites, I'd like to commend to you A.Word.A.Day. A.W.A.D. is the creation of Anu Garg and has been around for ages (in Internet years). In fact, I originally subscribed to their mailing list back around 1995! Thankfully the list has matured along with the Net, and Anu is now broadcasting in RSS as well as email. That's where I learned the funny sounding, but absolutely appropriate for conversation word fard.

Each week A.W.A.D. sends out a group of oddball, obscure, or highbrow words on a particular theme. Many of them are not really made for normal, day-to-day conversation, unless your friends are all linguaphiles, though periodically, he features series of words intended for daily discussions. But, they're all bona fide words from the English dictionary that might just help you work through some wordy prose and definitely will stretch your brain.

Though I do not agree with Anu's worldview (which he shares in drips & drabs in his introductory comments each week, and via the attached quotations), I applaud his dedication to this project over the last fourteen-plus years. If you're on the hunt for quick ways to increase your brain power, give A.W.A.D. a try.

Think-A-Minute: What is Responsibility?

It's a good question, and one you're likely to get wildly varying answers to in this day of moral relativism, where everyone determines his own moral truth. The Responsibility Project, by Liberty Mutual, is a series of fun and thought provoking short films that explore this question and try to get the viewers to work out an answer.

From the site:
It all began when we ran a TV commercial about people doing things for strangers. The response was truly overwhelming. Thousands of emails and letters from people all over the country thanking us.

We thought, if one TV spot from Liberty Mutual can get people thinking and talking about responsibility, imagine what could happen if we went a step further? So we created a series of short films, and this website, as an exploration of what it means to do the right thing.

We believe that the more people think and talk about responsibility, and even debate what it means, the more it can affect how we live our daily lives. And perhaps, in this small way, together, we can make the world just a little better.

The way I see it, the Responsibility Project is morally & intellectually superior to the campaign Starbucks started a couple years back. Here's why: the Responsibility Project seems to start from the premise that morality is a good thing, and deep down inside, we all know it. Starbucks campaign, on the other hand, seems to be aimed much more solidly at promoting moral relativism, the notion that all ideas are equal (ie. responsibility and selfishness are equal, depending on one's personal moral opinions). Stand to Reason has a very good take on the Starbucks campaign that we can put to use to further the truth.

Now that I have successfully segued to coffee shop talk, why don't you take a few minutes to check out the video below, from the Responsibility Project, then, Oh, I don't know, maybe talk to someone about it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Why Would You Believe That?

In the sidebar, you'll see I shared a post from the STR blog called Facts vs. Beliefs, which refers to this article from National Review. The NRO article very succinctly summarizes a problem I often run into while attempting to debate people about matters of faith. In short, the skeptic will often resort to blatantly disregarding my arguments from science, logic, or inference, and dogmatically asserting that my Christian beliefs are taken on blind-faith, while his Naturalistic beliefs are based on solid facts of science.

For a good example of this, please refer to the last response to me from Tom Clark in his Naturalism vs. Nihilism thread. I decided not to continue the conversation because he seemed unable to address any of my arguments, but just kept playing the Science vs. Faith card. In fact, he was almost malicious the way he twisted my words in order to make it look like I base my Christian faith on science rather than using science to show that Christian faith is not blind.

I'm learning how to handle this sort of belligerence in a face-to-face conversation (look for a post in the future re: Tactics in Defending the Faith), but online, it's much more difficult due to the nature of the medium. You just can't put someone on the spot and demand that they address your arguments based on their merits, rather than the pre-supposed lack-of-validity of the thing you're arguing for.

It would be refreshing to have a conversation with a skeptic in which he actually considered the validity of my arguments based on their merit of lack thereof.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly (Weeds, That Is)

It's been a while since my last post. Been very busy taking down trees in the yard for landscpaing, which has now been, more or less, completed. So, now I'm back. (Yes, I do realize that, since I post from work, it shouldn't matter what I was doing nor how busy I was when I got home. But that's my excuse & I'm sticking with it)

Anyway, one of the unintended side effects of all that yard work was that I now know how to recognize Poison Ivy when I see it. Yes, I got into a patch in my back yard, and didn't even recognize the blisters when they popped out, so it had time to develop into a full-blown rash that swelled my calf up to the size of Schwarzenegger's. Or there abouts. So, in case you were wondering, the pic at the top shows a couple common varieties. As you may have noticed in that picture, the old adage "leaves of three, don't touch me," doesn't always hold true. Some varieties have clusters of five leaves, so it might be a good idea to do a Google image search to familiarize yourself with all the many varieties.

And this is what the blisters look like. They can vary in size, but if you see a string of them in a line, big or small, it's likely you got into some poison ivy without knowing it. There's a product called Tecnu, that you can pick up in the local pharmacy, that can prevent the blisters and rash if you use it within 2-8 hours after contact (unless you're highly allergic).

So that's the bad & ugly, now for the good. There's another weed that often grows side-by-side (or at least nearby) poison ivy, that is a natural remedy for it. It's called Jewel Weed and it's flowers are really quite pretty, as you can see. Apparently, if you crush up the stems of the plant and apply the sap to the affected area, it can prevent the rash as well as Tecnu. Funny thing is, a couple weeks ago, Donna spotted some of these little orange trumpet flowers growing in a wildflower field near our house, but could not identify them. Now we know.

Finally, if you're suffering from insomnia, or just insufferably curious, here's a technical page that describes how poison ivy affects the human body. Actually, I found this very interesting, and it got me wondering whether the over-the-top immune response is a result of changes in the human species or the plant species, since the fall of man. Either way, it's yet another painful side-effect of living in a fallen, sin-cursed world.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Sledgehammer Approach

"Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it."
Bertolt Brecht

This quote from Dr. Mardy Grothe's book, I Never Metaphore I Didn't Like got me to thinking about art in general and specifically the "art" that comes out of Hollywood.

It seems to me, genuine artists use small taps of the hammer, then sandpaper, to shape their final image. Think of the great writers you've read and I think you'll find their writings have a common characteristic: they attempt to shape one's thinking through small, gentle nudges. In this manner, some authors have fundamentally altered the way generations think.

Hollywood, on the other hand, seems to prefer to take a sledgehammer approach to force their opinions upon all who view their shows or movies. Used to be, Bogart would passionately embrace his leading lady, and then... nothing. A passionate embrace, that's all. Viewers were left to assume more happened than was shown, or nothing more happened. Or, Bogart would fire his gun and viewers would see a shadowy figure fall down, presumably dead. Perhaps Heston would carry a couple of stone tablets down a mountain. Even Hollywood used to have some art & occasionally supported the Bible. Today, we're treated to, well to graphic depictions of sexual encounters and exploding body parts, and evolutionary dogma assumed as fact. The sledgehammer approach. And what it does is smash down our defenses and open an generation to baseness as a way of life. And fundamentally alters our thinking, because, after all, who has time think when there's so much good stuff to watch.

So what's the answer? Enact laws to force Hollywood to clean up their act? We already have such laws that aren't being enforced. No, I think a better solution is to get rid of the television, as Donna & I did around 10 years ago. Go ahead, cut the cable, eliminate the desensitizing distractions, and spend some quality time with a good book, perhaps even The Good Book. Am I saying it's wrong to watch TV or movies? Absolutely not. Though some TV and movies are clearly immoral and ought to be avoided. Am I advocating taking a sledgehammer to your TV? Not really, though it may be a good idea to sell it if you're addicted to movies. Christians have the liberty to watch TV or movies of any sort, but we also have a Biblical mandate to carefully consider what we allow to influence our thinking.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Naturalism vs. Nihilism, part 3

I happened to notice that Tom Clark posted a response to my comment on his blog. It led to a second comment from me addressing some critical mistakes in his response. Rather than repost my entire comment here, please check his comment thread if you're interested in reading the whole exchange. Here's a snippet from my reply:

Your assertion that faith is "belief without evidence" is preposterous. Perhaps what you meant is "blind faith", but it is disingenuous to equate faith and blind faith. Faith is belief, and must be based upon evidence. To believe something for which you have no evidence, or in spite of the evidence, is folly. Furthermore, I would submit that the cited dinosaur hemoglobin example does, in fact, amount to a leap of blind faith on the part of the scientists in question.

It turns out, you are setting up a false dichotomy when you pit faith against empirical science. They are not comparable. Essentially, what you’re asserting is that science is the only way we can know truth. This is a patently false notion. We can determine truth through logical reasoning, examination of history, or first-hand testimony, to name but a few examples. What’s more, science can in no way address questions of a metaphysical nature, as they are outside the realm of physical science.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A good quote is like a finely cut diamond, incredibly compact yet endlessly fascinating.

Dr. Mardy Grothe has done it again. He has recently released a new book called I Never Metahpor I Didn't Like. As with his other three books, Dr. Mardy explores a specific niche of wordplay - in this case, analogies, metaphors, and similes - through poignant and pithy quotations taken from some of the world's greatest wordsmiths.

I first heard of Dr. Mardy around ten years ago when he released his first book, Never Let A Fool Kiss You, or a Kiss Fool You. I immediately fell in love with chiasmus as a rhetorical device and jumped into Dr. Mardy's competition with both feet. In our correspondence, I found Dr. Mardy to be warm, friendly, and receptive then, and I'm delighted to say he was just the same when I recently emailed him.

Though I haven't yet, I look forward to reading I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like. However, based on his past writings, I will commend it to adults with a love of language and wordplay. Adults, please consider carefully before allowing your children read it, however. As a secular writer, Dr. Mardy does not exclude quotes of a sensual and/or sexual nature; expect them to be mostly confined to the sex section (Chapter 10) with a few sprinkled throughout other categories.

Dr. Mardy, via A.Word.A.Day

Happy Birthday to the Love of My Life

My lovely wife turned 35 today. She's now a year older than me. Of course, next Friday we'll be the same age again. ;)

Reflecting on the last 12 years of marriage, I'm glad to see how the Lord has drawn us closer together and made our marriage stronger all along. We've experienced many ups and downs, but our relationship always comes out better for it.

Donna is a wonder. She manages our home, teaches our children, keeps us all well fed on healthy foods, sews many of her own clothes, & keeps us all on schedule. She laughs often, loves deeply & lives a life that's pleasing to God. She inspires others to greatness, plans great things for herself & supports those who need lifting up. I number myself among the many people she has touched who are better off for the contact.

Happy birthday, Donna. I love you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Does Naturalism Blind Scientists?

I heard a great poem today that made me stop & think. It's a story about six blind men who have quite different ideas about what an elephant is like, based on which part of it they were able to touch. I couldn't help but reflect how Naturalism causes scientists in the various fields of study to behave like the blind men, in regard to their postulates about where everything comes from. Geologists look at rock layers and say it takes millions of years to form them. Biologists tell us that over millions of years, evolution changes molecules into microbes, into monkeys, into men. Astronomers argue for millions of years for stars & planets to form. They're each looking at a small piece of God's creation and building an elephant that looks and functions quite different from they way God told us He did it. And the pity is, their blinders are self imposed; they reject out-of-hand, the creationist perspective by labeling it religion, and therefor not science. If they would allow themselves to consider the possibility that God meant what he said in the Bible, and explore their fields of study from a Biblical perspective, they'd be able to see the big picture and recognize the elephant for what it is.

Of course, many Christians are willing to uncritically accept any arguments that seem to support the Bible, and reject out-of-hand anything scientific that seems to contradict the it, without examination, too. The philosophy "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" may be a good starting point, but it does not meet Peter's requirement to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you (1 Pet 3:15)". We need to be able to offer sound, reasoned answers to those who are genuinely seeking.

So, without further ado...
The Blind Men and the Elephant
by John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan
   To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
   (Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
   Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
   And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
   At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
   Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
   Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
   To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
   Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
   And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
   Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
   Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
   And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
   Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant
   Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
   Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
   Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
   Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
   About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
   That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
   Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
   Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
   Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
   And all were in the wrong!

So oft in theologic wars,
   The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
   Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
   Not one of them has actually seen!

Naturalism and Nihilism, revisited

Tom Clark left a response to my quick post yesterday regarding the logical link between Naturalism and Nihilism, point me to his blog post with the same title from back in March. His is an attempt to rebuff the notion that Nihilism is the natural offspring of Atheism/Naturalism. He has a case, but the fact is that those who hold to Naturalism are being inconsistent in applying their faith (philosophy, if you prefer) by living their lives in a moral manner. I suppose a similar case could also be made that we Christians are inconsistent in applying our Christian morals when we sin. The noteworthy difference, of course, is that the Christian's attempt to consistently live in a moral manner is evidence of his faith.

I posted the following as a response to his article, but thought it would be useful to re-post here for posterity.

Tom, thanks for the link. I'm not going to attempt to address all of your assertions in the article, but I'll say that your summary idea that human morality can be easily explained as an evolved survival instinct suffers in the light of others' claims that humanity's war-like nature can be easily explained as an evolved survival instinct. So which is it, are humans moral because it promotes survival of the fittest, or is that why they're war-like? You can't have it both ways. The "hard-core atheists" were much more consistent in the application of their faith by acknowledging that it leads to nihilism.

In regards to whether or not athiesm/naturalism qualifies as a faith, let's look at the surprising discovery of red blood cells and still-flexible blood vessels in dinosaur fossils a few years ago. Why was this surprising? Because the hemoglobin in the red blood cells should have broken down within thousands of years, but it was found in bones claimeded to be millions of years old. But what was the scientists reaction to this discovery? Did they question the evolutionary dogma that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago? No, by a leap of blind faith, they assumed there must be some way to preserve hemoglobin for millions of years. These scientists demonstrated an amazing knack for ignoring the evidence against millions of years due to their creedal assertion that evolution requires those millions of years. And gives the lie to your claim that "Naturalists’ commitment to science in this regard isn’t a matter of faith, it’s based on experience – the widely shared experience that beliefs about the world based in science are generally more reliable than those that aren’t."

For more on the dinosaur red blood cells story, read this follow-up article that refutes claims that what was found was not actual hemoglobin and red blood cells.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Naturalism and Nihilism

I shared an interesting article (actually notes from a lecture by J.P. Moreland) from Stand To Reason, on the topic of Naturalism. Then noticed that today's Theological Word of the Day fit nicely with it since it describes Nihilism as the natural conclusion of a Atheist/Naturalist philosophy. You can check my shared items on the top right to see these articles.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Excellent Bible Study Tool

I'm loving The Blue Letter Bible. It's an extremely powerful site that cross references the Bible with correlating passages, multiple commentaries, Strong's concordance, maps & images, multiple translations, and a bible dictionary. The real beauty is that it does this on a verse-by-verse basis. This one tool now makes word studies and even deep Bible study laughably easy.

In addition to all of the above, it hosts several daily devotionals and provides Bible-in-a-year reading plans in a few different formats. And a slew of other helpful and useful information.

Be sure to visit BLB next time you need to look up a passage or phrase in the Bible. It's the right tool for the job.

Fun Visit with My Uncle

My family really enjoyed the visit from my uncle, Tony, and my Dad, last weekend. Tony lives in Maryland and tho he visits my parents once or twice per year, this was his first visit with us up here to NH.

We had a fun and full day, showing him the house (in all it's under-construction glory) and property. Then after lunch, we took a drive over to my pastor's house to walk thru his garage. Pastor Larry has been collecting and restoring classic motorcycles for quite some time and I knew he had several British bikes that my uncle, who is also restorer, would appreciate. It was fun seeing his excitement (did you know there were only 900 of those made that year?!?). After spending a good half-hour drooling over all 25-plus bikes (half-dozen Brits, a couple Italians and Germans, several Jap bikes and at least seven Harleys) crammed into the garage, my dad and Tony visited with Pastor Larry's in-laws who are visiting from Mexico.

While that was going on, Nick & Gabe each got to ride a motorcycle for the first time. Pastor had a little 25cc minibike that they got to tool around on in the yard. They both had a blast! A very fun day.

The Bathroom is 95% Done

We had a very productive few days following my lament last week about how slow this project was going. The walls got done (thanks to a cram sessions Friday and Saturday nights) and on Sunday we installed all the hardware (shelves, towel racks, light fixture, wall hangings, etc.). All that remains it to paint the doors & trim and replace the doorknobs. Woohoo! Oh, and re-caulk the tub. :\

Friday, July 25, 2008

House Hacking

As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to repaint the Bathroom and Boy's Bedroom this month. We knew it wasn't going to be a quick job because when we bought the place, the seller had hastily slopped a coat of yellow paint on the walls, apparently using a Wagner Power Roller. There were thick drips all over the place and a yellow border around the ceiling. So, we planned to take the time to sand off all the major drips using a disc sander. That proved to be the easiest part (for me, anyway - Donna did all the sanding; I just had to move the furniture away from the walls). Then we discovered that the wall under the boy's windows was rotten. It's not clear whether that was from water coming in the windows or the prior owner's dogs announcing their displeasure at being locked in the room (all the doors and trim have deep gouges from the dogs trying to claw their way out). So I had to replace a four foot section of drywall there, and just for good measure I put a vapor barrier behind it to prevent moisture finding it's way in and damaging it again. There was a lot of mudding needed to fix up and cover the various dings and holes in the walls. Also had to close up the holes left when the old electric baseboard controls were removed in the bedroom and bath. I had to replace more drywall in the bath due to water damage from behind the shower prior to us moving in, as well. And install a proper fixture box in the wall above the sink for the new light fixture we bought for above the vanity.

So, it's been a long road, and we're not done yet. That's rather frustrating. And then Wednesday, I had to refinish the ceiling. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out, but as usual, we totally neglected to take any pictures of the progress. :( Donna primed the entire bathroom yesterday, and put the ceiling paint on the ceiling. We're on the home stretch, but it's been one of those projects that makes you wonder if it will ever be complete.

Now the kicker, my uncle from Maryland is vising tomorrow, and our house is a wreck. Particularly the basement, where the boys have been sleeping for the last month while their bedroom has been getting it's face lift. He's a reasonable guy and knows all about fixing up houses, so I'm sure he'll understand. And he loves old British motorbikes, so I'm going to take him over to my Pastor's house to visit his "museum" (ie Garage) of restored bikes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Finding the Will of God

My wonderful wife brought Jeannie Fulbright's excellent series of articles about creative vs academic writing to my attention this week. After reading them, I rolled back to her article from 7/14 on the topic of letting God direct our footsteps through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Now, it just happens that Donna and I are attending a Sunday school class based on the book Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen, and becoming more and more convinced of his arguments each week.

It prompted me to post the following comment in response to Jeannie. I realize I have not intensively researched the "traditional view" (as Friesen calls it) about waiting for a prompting or peace from God to lead to or confirm a decision, so my request for scriptural support for this standpoint is genuine.

So without further commentary, here's what I asked Jeannie:

Hi Jeannie, I wonder if you can help me out with something. In this article, you said, "It's hard to find true peace and joy when we are not following the narrow path marked out for our family. That narrow path may include putting your children in school - but it may not. The key is to find out - not by human reason, but through the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Who leads with confidence and peace)," and, "God has a perfect course for your family, and He longs to direct your steps."

Can you please provide some scriptural support for this notion that God has one particular, "perfect" path for an individual or family? And that He will make that perfect will known to believers through a feeling of peace? I don't see it in the scriptures, myself. I have done a brief word study on peace and find several references to a spiritual peace given by God to those who through faith rely upon Him for their needs and safety (Ps 25:13 says "His soul shall dwell at ease", Ps 4:8 says "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety", and Phil 4:6&7 says Christians should not worry about their needs because "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" ), but I find nothing supporting this common christian notion that God leads us through life or major life decisions by way of nudgings or even "confidence and peace," as you put it.

Even the scripture you cited, 2Tim 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind," actually seems to oppose your assertion that "the key is find out - not by human reason, but through the leadership of the Holy Spirit." Isn't a sound mind the basis for proper reasoning (based on God's revealed will within His word)? In fact, I believe Jam 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him," indicates that we are to pray for God to give us wisdom, not peace or leading, does it not?

Please understand that I am not arguing that you gave the homeschooling lady the wrong advice (to persevere). I am just having difficulty with the reasons you gave her. If you know of scriptures that support this standpoint, I would genuinely appreciate hearing them.

Jeannie responded (actually very quickly) with a fairly lengthy and encouraging post including many scripture references. Now I need to make time to examine them all in context. On first blush, however, I noted that several references were either taken out of context or quite loosely interpreted. Others, however, did seem to support her viewpoint so the jury is still out on this.