Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful for beautiful music

How in the world does this wretch make a piece like this look and sound so easy? If there are a dozen people alive right now who can play this Alkan piece this well, I'd be shocked. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Keith Green - "Your Love Broke Through"

This has always been my favorite Christian song:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

what is the Gospel?

My pastor asked me to post a video explaining the gospel. Here it is.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama and infanticide

Please watch this:

What will it take for America to open its eyes?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why is there so much evil in the world?

A dear friend at church asked me this question at our church's monthly fellowship lunch this past Sunday and I told her I would write a blog-entry with some thoughts on it.  

Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in southeast Asia, September 11, 2001, AIDS, famine, starvation, disease, betrayed trust, theft, hatred, murder, etc.  Why are these a part of a cosmos God pronounced "good" at the end of creation week?  The Biblical answer is simple: the fall. Man's rebellion against God is the root cause of every kind of evil.  How often have we heard: "If God is all-good and all-powerful, he would do away with evil."  Three quick things need to said in response to this.  

1.  For God to "do away with" evil, he would have to annihilate it both as an actual and as a potential.  Since every human being has the potential to do evil, every human being would have to be annihilated for God to "do away with" evil.  To the person who says this: Are you sure you want God to do away with evil just yet?
2.  It is rather ironic that the only beings who both perpetuate and perpetrate evil would try to blame the all-holy God for actions they freely do.  Who engages in theft, suicide bombings, war, rape, and murder?  God?  No, it is men and men alone.  And yet, men want to shake their fists in God's face and say, "Why is there so much evil in this world?!"  God's response: Because I allow the likes of *you* to live here.  
3.  God has morally sufficient reasons for all evil that occurs.  As difficult as that might be to fathom, it is true.  The only reason we struggle with it is a simple failure to grasp just how serious it is that Adam, the federal representative of all of humanity, sinned against the all-holy Creator.

So what about natural disasters, disease, etc?  These are not directly caused by men and yet they often bring about incredible suffering, loss of life, and economic hardship to men.  Why do things like this happen?  They happen as acts of God's judgment and of His grace.  Consider this episode from the life of Christ:

Luke 13:1-5 (NKJV)  
    There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? [3] I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? [5] I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." 

Here we have Jesus mentioning two episodes of what seemed to be rather random and senseless deaths.  In the first instance Pilate had brought about the death of some people and in the second instance a tower had apparently fallen and killed 18 people.  Notice that Jesus does not indicate that the people whose lives were consumed by these events were being punished because they were somehow worse than anyone else.  Jesus uses these tragedies to turn the thoughts of his listeners toward things eternal.  Jesus emphasizes the point in v2 that the Galileans who were killed were not worse sinners than any of the people to whom Jesus was now speaking.  It is vital to notice this.  Jesus does this again in v4 - the 18 who died in the Siloam tower accident were not worse sinners either.  Jesus uses these tragedies to point out to them that all sinners, at all times, are under the judgment of God and can justly be destroyed by God.  It is gracious for God to give anyone even a small amount of time to come to their senses and repent of their sins and beg God for forgiveness.  If you are alive right now, it is because of God's grace alone!  Repent, or you too will perish!

I believe the very same kind of thing applies to tsunamis, hurricanes, & terrorist attacks.  Do we suppose that the people who died in the World Trade Center towers were worse sinners than any who live in Cincinnati?  I tell you, no!  But unless we repent, we will all likewise perish!  The clock is ticking on all of us.  Sadly, one of the ways God gets the attention of men is through suffering.  God afflicts us to make us think about Him.  God did this to Israel again and again throughout her history.  The prophet Amos gives us an extended description of all the suffering God brought upon Israel.  Listen carefully to Amos - and notice the refrain I have bolded.

Amos 4:6-12 (NKJV)  

    "Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. [This means he starved them]
    And lack of bread in all your places;
    Yet you have not returned to Me,"
    Says the Lord. 
    [7] "I also withheld rain from you, [God made them thirst]
    When there were still three months to the harvest.
    I made it rain on one city,
    I withheld rain from another city.
    One part was rained upon,
    And where it did not rain the part withered. 
    [8] So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water,
    But they were not satisfied;
    Yet you have not returned to Me,"
    Says the Lord.
    [9] "I blasted you with blight and mildew.  [God made their crops fail]
    When your gardens increased,
    Your vineyards,
    Your fig trees,
    And your olive trees,
    The locust devoured them;
    Yet you have not returned to Me,"
    Says the Lord.
    [10] "I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; [God even killed many of them]
    Your young men I killed with a sword,
    Along with your captive horses;
    I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils;
    Yet you have not returned to Me,"
    Says the Lord.
    [11] "I overthrew some of you,
    As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
    And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning;
    Yet you have not returned to Me,"
    Says the Lord.
    [12] "Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel;
    Because I will do this to you,
    Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!"
Why do all of these difficulties happen?  God is trying to get men to turn their eyes toward Him.  Men do not realize that they are entirely dependent upon God at every moment for: Their very existence, their sustenance, the air they breath, every moment of joy and happiness they enjoy, their money, and all their earthly possessions.  And yet men forget God at every turn.  God often has to remove our idols: comfort, money, possessions, health, etc. to gain our trust.  If God pulls the rug out from under us, we are forced to trust Him.  A wise man once said, "there are no atheists in foxholes."  Facing our frailty and mortality often makes us very realistic about our ultimate accountability to the One who created us.

The real question we ought to struggle with is why there is any good in any of our lives at any given moment.  Why does God allow men who despise Him openly and are opponents of everything that is holy and righteous to prosper?  Why does God allow me to have possessions, family, children, friends, a Bible, etc. when I have sinned so grievously and repeatedly in His sight?  It is called: grace.  We ought to ask why there is so much that is good in this world before we belly-ache about evil.  How can God allow me to have plenty of food to eat each day when according to the equities of God's justice I deserve nothing but to perish in my sins and be eternally condemned?  But, sinful as we are, we tend not to think about the heinousness of our own evil natures.  In fact, I believe God is very much active in this world in restraining men from doing the things their evil natures would cause them to do (but we rarely thank Him for that).  

Finally, we must also consider the fact that evil's heyday is, in the grand scheme of things, only for a very short time.  The final undoing of evil has already begun by the death and resurrection of Christ.  His cross-work had cosmic effects and will result ultimately in the liberation of the entire cosmos itself from bondage (Romans 8:20-22).  When people ask why God doesn't do away with evil, we must learn to respond: He is going to do so when Christ returns to the earth.  Evil will have no place in the New Heavens and the New Earth.  Evil will one day be entirely abolished.  Death has already been abolished by Christ's resurrection (2 Timothy 1:10). Why doesn't God just do away with evil?  Because He is busy saving a vast multitude of people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation from the ruined race of Adam.  When that full number is finally achieved, then at along last will evil's reign come to an end.  

I know there is much more that can be said (and has been said by those much more competent than me) on this subject, but I hope this will at least get us thinking about the issue of evil in a Biblical way.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Abigail is already back up in the trees after her surgery

Reformation Party pics

I'm not sure this was really worth it... but they will definitely remember it for years to come! I did a Martin Luther monologue at the beginning of the evening and I wanted it to be as realistic and memorable as possible.