26 May 2010

Paul Tripp Live Q & A Tonight

Paul Tripp, author of several of my favorite resources for nouthetic or biblical counseling, will be answering questions tonight in a live event on Desiring God. I am hoping to be able to sit long enough to read the questions (posed on twitter and in email) and answers. His work has been invaluable to me as a counselor and I recommend you stop by Desiring God Any Plans This Wednesday Evening and have a look.

21 May 2010

Snapping Turtle Rescue- Things I've Learned in KY

This turtle was injured and trying to cross my driveway and the road. I used a snow shovel to give him a hand and he was so big he would not fit. His front legs and head were at the base of the shovel handle. The last 1/3 of his body wasn't on the shovel at all. I had to use it like a lever to lift his back end off the ground and slide him to safety. He was not appreciative and launched at me several times. I am so disappointed that the size of this monster isn't evident by the picture. He was not the biggest I have seen but he was bigger than most. They wander down my road frequently and the way they walk they remind me of those things in one of the Star Wars movies. He was big enough to injure one of my inquisitive little dogs or me severely. If his back legs had been on the ground and not in the air while I sledded him to safety, his launches would have been successful and I would have been without one or more fingers. Next time I call a local and tell them their dinner is in my driveway. I am not quite ready to call the Turtleman. Are you ready for the Turtleman? Turretinfan, this video's for you!

20 May 2010

A Crisis of Biblical Proportion

I used to have a sign in my locker at work that said, "Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine." It was a bit of irony since I worked in an emergency dispatch center. It never ceased to amaze me the effort people would invest in making bad decisions; so bad that a call to 9-1-1 would become inevitable. I have a few hundred examples I could use but one particular incident comes to mind.

It seems a homeowner decided that he didn't like the looks of the angled section of the stove pipe on his wood stove. Apparently it wasn't quite right and he didn't think it was safe so he removed the section he and went to the local hardware store to find a suitable replacement. Now most people would consider this laudable behavior and it would have been if there had not been a load of live coals and fresh logs in the wood stove. If you are like him and don't see a problem with this scenario, let me introduce you to what firefighters call the fire triangle. Heat + Fuel + Oxygen = Fire. Live coals= Heat. Logs = Fuel. Removed section of stove pipe = Source of Oxygen and thus we have Fire..... fire no longer contained in the wood stove but shooting out the hole where the stove pipe had been. Fire burning while no one was there to watch it and so it ran up the wall, spread through the ceiling and continued. Sadly, the man's house was fully engulfed in flames when he returned from getting supplies to make it safer.

Sometimes we Christians just don't think things all the way through to their logical conclusions. We make decisions based on partial information or worse yet, from positions of unsound doctrine or heresy. Our brains are so saturated with the slime and gobbledygook of the world we aren't being fed the truth (milk or meat) of the Word. We are certainly not taking every thought captive (2Cor 10:5) . How can we claim to be His when we are not willing to forsake our own way to follow Him? ( Isa 55:7)

If we are truly believers, we live to serve Him. If we are the elect of God, we have had an individual spiritual crisis of biblical proportion for which the only resolution is being united with Christ. We have passed from being dead in our sin and have entered into eternal life, being spared the torments and horrors of our well deserved judgments (Gal 2:20). Through Him we have redemption and forgiveness according to riches of his grace. (Eph 1:7) How is it that we professing believers, the elect of God, can justify being so ignorant of the things of Christ? Why is it things like discernment appear to escape us? How is it we can live our lives looking no different than those who do not know the forgiveness of their sins? How do we begin to justify the embellishments of our testimonies, as if being saved by grace through faith is not amazing enough? We lie, cheat, steal, and divorce in the same numbers as non-believers. If we dress, talk, live and act the same as those from whom we have been set apart, how will they ever believe God changes people? How can we believe God has changed us? How will they value and employ the precepts of the bible if we do not?

Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

14 May 2010

"Did God Really Say....."

Embellishment. It is in the top three things that set mankind on its backside on the outside of the Garden. My old cowboy friend always told me that before a horse does something, it gets ready to do something. Things line up and then the horse bucks or kicks. Before Adam and Eve fell, things lined up.

It took one question put together by the best wordsmith the world has ever known. It probably happened something like this: "Did God really say.... ?" Adam, who was given instructions directly, let the first bit line up when he relaxed his place of leadership and let Eve answer the question or rather let her answer it incorrectly. Eve embellished the answer. She told the serpent not only can't they eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they can't even touch it! That's the next bit that lined up. I think it's important because it is a twisting of what is true and it sounds so dramatic. It sounds as if Eve is an authority on the subject... as if she is the one who got the instructions directly from God. But she didn't and she knows she didn't. That probably made the serpent's next statement seem more plausible to Eve. She knew she had exaggerated a bit, perhaps that exaggeration could happen in reverse too. Perhaps the serpent was right, they wouldn't really die if they ate from the tree. Because he [Adam] had already relaxed his leadership role, abdicating completely was made easier.... so when Eve offered, Adam bit.

Very few of us start out diving into the cesspool of sin headfirst. We dip our toes in what seems to be a comfortable spa. A little white lie... procrastinating on something unpleasant.... the unkind word said almost inaudibly. The pressure relief valve for our flesh. Instant gratification. Most of the time we avoid major consequence... so we do it again... and again... we begin to wade in. All the while we ignore the fact that the water is bad because the immediate relief is good. Read the first chapter of Romans. Sin works like that. Our flesh likes it and unless our consciences work well, we feed our flesh what it wants.

I don't think Ergun Caner started out to deceive people. I don't think he woke up one morning and said, "I think I will now portray myself as an expert on Islam, write a book, potentially earn money, gain notoriety, become a seminary president and mislead students by perpetuating a persona derived from partial truth and embellishment" I think things lined up and he was wading before he realized it. He's been shown where the ladder is, he knows how to get out. I think it would take a supernatural effort on his part now to do it. I cannot imagine how painful and humiliating it would be to climb out of a cesspool you have been calling a spa and hoping everyone else would see it your way... only to have the blinders taken off and have most everyone see what you have been wading in. But that's the wrong way to look at it.

When we stay in unrepentant sin our souls drink from springs of fetid water. We develop the maladies of bitterness, anger and fractiousness. We confuse the truth with the lies we have become to believe. Our thoughts are anxious and fearful or paranoid and hateful or a mixture of all those things. If we could see sin for what it really is and how much it really stinks, what would compel us to stay in it? What pride would we take in ignoring the stench? David said when he kept quiet about his sin, it made his bones rot. It's hard to stand firm with rotting bones.

I read a blog today that I am not going to link here. I don't recommend the writer's content. In fact I wouldn't mention it all except that it was the impetus for this ramble. The blog's author is a staunch supporter of Dr. Caner's veracity and believes he [Dr. Caner] is being targeted by unscrupulous villains masquerading as Christians. That's not a direct quote but it is the intimation. Now, I can totally understand how emotions can come into play and the desire to come to the defense of your friend can make it seem that lines are being drawn in the sand. The 'are you for us or against us' mentality bubbles to the surface. Some have gone so far as to suggest Dr. Caner's entire family is being attacked. That is the sort of nonsense that makes us look ridiculous. Yes, this is a difficult time for Dr. Caner and his family. No one has attacked his family. For that matter, no one is attacking him. He is not an enemy. He is a professing believer who appears to be in sin.

Why must these staunch supporters reduce the situation to name calling and emotional battle-cries? Why must they assume that those of us who are looking for the truth are not supporters of Dr. Caner's? Imagine what a testimony the man [Dr. Caner] could have if humbled himself enough to either demonstrate his claims are true or humbled himself enough to admit they were not. And imagine how it might look if we all humbled ourselves enough to remember that we all are capable of error and self-deception. I know who I am without God's intervention. I have done the butterfly stroke in the cesspool of sin and I am grateful to the men and women of God who didn't give a rip about my pride, reputation or standing and told me what I was swimming in.

Genesis 2:16-17
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."

Genesis 3:2-3
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'"

Psalm 32:3
3 When I kept silent {about my} sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.

Psalm 51:2-4
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge.

11 May 2010

Gnats, Camels, Forest,Trees- Praying for Liberty University

There are many posts and many opinions on the net regarding Dr. Ergun Caner and the veracity of his testimony and curriculum vitae. I have written an open letter to Dr. Caner here on my blog. I am of little consequence and my blog is not one that is well read. That seldom stops me from speaking my mind here in my blog and it is not going to stop me today.

Having worked in Student Development in a Christian University, I am passionate about education. In my office I had 1 Timothy 1:5 posted on my wall to remind me of my purpose. "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." The point of being educated is to be able to discern right from wrong; truth from error. For believers a good conscience is not only one that is clean but one that does its job; keeping us from sin and when we do sin-leading us to repentance. Truth and repentance are necessary components of sound faith. The point of being an educator is developing these qualities in our lives and in the lives of our students.

I understand that an investigation is being done by folks at Liberty University regarding Dr. Caner's statements. I pray they will not to lose sight of Paul's admonition to Timothy as they begin their investigation. While it will be difficult to remove the raw emotion, personality conflict and doctrinal conflict, the truth can be found. My fear is that the pressures of running a university and the unpleasantness of the task will make their job more difficult, so I am praying for those involved in the investigation. I am praying for the rest of the faculty, staff and the students at Liberty also. This is not an easy time for them. Mostly I am praying for Dr. Caner.

Best case scenario? That Dr. Caner can clear up these inconsistencies. If he can, I have to wonder what wisdom could be found in waiting this long to do so. This situation has stretched on for far too long. If there were answers that could bring clarity to all this, what besides stubbornness or pride would keep Dr. Caner silent? And are stubbornness and pride of this sort desirable qualities for a seminary president?

I have been critical of some who have been involved in revealing these apparent inconsistencies of Dr. Caner's. It seems at times that this has become a gladiatorial event. I take no pleasure in it at all. I find it unbelievably sad. Yet if Dr.Caner is going to be president of a seminary, if he is going to take upon his shoulders the responsibility of teaching young minds and equipping them in the service of our God, then he must be willing to be confronted, exhorted and encouraged to do so in a God honoring fashion. Surely a seminary president must meet the qualifications of a deacon in 1 Timothy 3. Embellishing truth may make good story telling but it does not meet any of the goals Paul listed for Timothy.

Worst case scenario? The folks doing the investigation will not provide answers for the legitimate questions that have been posed. That staunch supporters of Dr. Caner will continue to see this as a bunch of Christian bloggers siding with a Muslim blogger to attack Dr. Caner. That legitimate answers will not satisfy some people on either side of this debacle. Mostly, the worst thing I can see happening is that repentance and restoration will not occur. That was the whole point of confronting Dr. Caner- not to humiliate him or degrade him. None of us like to have our inconsistencies pointed out to us, but if our speech and actions are contrary to our profession of faith- it is not loving of our brothers and sisters in Christ to ignore it.

There are many places to go and read about this, I couldn't begin to link you to all of them. If you'd like more I suggest you use your favorite search engine. Mostly I would beg you to pray for this situation.

10 May 2010

Taking the Sting Out

I hate Mother's Day. It dredges up every raw emotion I have about not being raised by my mother, about losing my mom when she was so young once I did get to have her in my life... about the guilt of being young and stupid and not wanting to recognize my step-mom/auntie as mom on Mother's Day. Now that I have been in her shoes, it's especially difficult. I get the sting of being ignored and the larger more painful sting of knowing I deserve it. As you sow.... so shall you reap.

I am doing a study on fear for a seminar I will be giving. I have titled it Fear Knot or Fear Not! It's been beneficial for me as I can see how many areas of my life are tinged or controlled by fear. As I sit here feeling the pain of regret and neglect, I have to say I wish God had told us Hurt Not! He didn't though. There's no place this side of heaven where we aren't guaranteed pain, suffering and tears.

This morning a backhoe arrived in the vacant lot next to my house. It's been nice not having a house right next to mine but it appears that is going to change. I found myself looking at homes for sale in my area. Why? Because I am fearing all the changes that could come having neighbors close to me. We never fear good things will come into our lives- just bad. In my worst fears there will be a family with noisy, smart mouthed kids that move in and they will have animals that they neglect and let run wild. It doesn't even occur to me that whoever is having the house built could be fearing that I am a neighbor from the pits of hell with two yappy dogs and no brick on my house. Apparently my house should be at least two thirds brick but I have vinyl siding. One of the other neighbors pointed that out to me a year or so after I bought my house. It seems whoever built this house 10 years ago sneaked it in without brick. So I am worrying what they are trying to sneak in now.

Raw wounds, worries, fears... but something else is there too. Something that I am not used to having pop into my head: hope. That's the topic for the next study and seminar I am doing- hope. Not hope that bad things wont happen, not hope that I get my way through life.... but the kind of hope that doesn't disappoint. Hope in the right things. Hope in the only thing I have that's good and right and holy and just. Hope that Jesus Christ is my righteousness, my savior, my deliverer. Hope that this isn't all there is and that my sorry life counts for something in His hands. Not because I am worth it, but He is and for reasons I will never understand God has decided I belong to Him.

Romans 5:1-5
1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21
18 Now all {these} things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
21 He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Colossians 1:19-22
19 For it was the {Father's} good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, {I say} whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, {engaged} in evil deeds,
22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--