New Year’s Resolution

I normally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Like the rest of humanity, I make a resolution on January 1st. I follow it to a maximum of January 4th, and then I never do anything else with it. I got tired of it, so one year I made the New Year’s Resolution not to make anymore New Year’s Resolutions. And that one I’ve actually kept.

Until this year.

I went to the hospital today with severe back trouble. I was diagnosed with a pre-kidney stone situation. Before kidney stones form, some crystals develop in the kidneys. These crystals are quite painful, though nothing compared to an actual stone. I have the crystals, and I need to drink more water to prevent the stones from forming. So my first New Year’s Resolution–a virtual no-brainer–is to drink more water.

My second New Year’s Resolution is to read the Bible everyday. I confess that, at least in the regard of daily Scripture reading, I’m a poor apologist. And a hypocrite, since I always recommend to seekers or Christians on the brink of failure to read more Scripture, and to mediate on it and pray every day. I don’t come anywhere close to reading the Bible everyday. I barely read it all.

This New Year, though–God willing–that will all change for the better. I’ve downloaded a plan for reading the Bible in a year from the official website of the ESV (which regular readers of the blog well know that is my personal favorite translation).

I wanted a plan that would include the Psalms and Proverbs in a daily reading, as well as simultaneous reading of the Old and New Testaments. I’ve heard it recommended that one should read the OT and the NT parallel to each other so that you can more easily catch the significance of Christ’s story in relation to the history of Israel. I’ve also heard it recommended that a person rotate reading Psalms and Proverbs monthly, since there is much wisdom in both books to soak up.

So, I settled on this plan. There’s a daily reading from the OT, the NT, a Psalm, and a few Proverbs. This way, I can spot the parallels from OT to NT, and I can bask in the character of God described in the Psalms while learning the simple wisdom of God in Proverbs. Now I just need to stick to it!

I further figured that I’d spot an occasional oddity with Scripture and that would generate a blog post at JCM. And I was right–day one found this interesting tidbit.

A third resolution, related to the second one, is to do more Bible study alongside my wife. It’s one thing to read the Bible and meditate on its message in isolation, but the Bible is pretty clear that isn’t how we should really do things:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:19-21)

So, Scripture reading is important, but private interpretation isn’t kosher. Hence, we have the church. But before the church is the family.

I love talking to my wife about matters of faith. She’s an Arminian and I’m a Calvinist, but the contrasting readings of verses are profitable for both of us. If we both agreed on every single Scripture reading, the give-and-take dynamic would be lost and neither of would learn anything. We’d just be confirming what we already know. That’s no fun.

So the first book we’re going to go through is The Love Dare. That should be very interesting. I understand that book resurrected dying marriages. Ours is far from dying; it is strong and vibrant. I love her more than words can express. But growing closer to her can’t be a bad thing; and therefore I embrace the challenge of The Love Dare wholeheartedly and I pray that it strengthens our marriage.

I'll Never Understand This

Christopher Hitchens
Image via Wikipedia

Okay, it is time for me, once again, to put on my “naive religious person” hat and wonder why on earth people get offended over the stupidest things.

It has nothing to do with the recent decision to ban cross memorials for fallen state troopers in Utah because it allegedly is Christian proselytization forced on innocent motorists driving down the highway. That was a bit outrageous, and those judges should have their heads examined. The cross isn’t a Mormon symbol, and both the folks who erected the monuments and the troopers to whom the monuments were dedicated were Mormons. The cross has come to mean “grave marker” just as much as it symbolizes Christianity. For more information on that, see the related links below.

No, the subject of this post is one of far greater concern to me. Vjack of Atheist Revolution has written a post decrying prayers being offered for Christopher Hitchens’s recovery from cancer. He discusses why prayer, in this specific case, is offensive, then treats the broader issue of why prayer in general is offensive. Continue reading “I'll Never Understand This”

In Memorum: Clark Pinnock (1937-2010)

I really hadn’t read much of the work of Clark Pinnock, who was a defender of open theism, but I had always meant to get around to it (and to the work of John Sanders as well). I was familiar with Pinnock through my brief flirtation with open theism when I had first begun apologetics ministry back in 2006, but I was only passingly familiar with him. I know that he was a great thinker, as he pioneered a brand new systematic theology (however misguided that may have been).

His theology may have been wrong, but I think that it was constructed in the spirit of better defining the nature and person of God; trying to tear down some of the mystery surrounding the divine. That’s a noble goal.

His work survives, so I hope to still read some of his books. May he rest in peace, and may he delight in the presence of the God he endeavored to serve.

Jury Convicts Leilani Neumann

It only took the jury four hours of deliberation to convict Leilani Neumann, mother of Madeline “Kara” Neumann, of second degree reckless homicide in the death of her daughter from untreated diabetes.

I believe in the power of prayer, but I believe that it is supplemental to competent health care. God works with and through our efforts, not in spite of us.

Brian Sapient Punched Out

There are several rumors circulating that Brian Sapient, co-founder of the Rational Response Squad, has been brutally attacked at the American Humanist Association’s conference by Greydon Square, another member of the RRS. Apparently, the two had a disagreement over the way Sapient was handling Square’s CD sales, and Square beat Sapient. An ambulance had to be called.

There is no official word, as yet, from the RRS. Hambydammit, a core member, would neither confirm nor deny it to an interested party on the RRS forums, instead Hamby repeatedly told the inquirer to mind his own business.

Whatever my personal differences with Brian Sapient, he didn’t deserve to be attacked by Greydon Square. Square has legal methods to work out business disputes if he was unhappy with Sapient handling his affairs. Square acted like a spoiled little child. He needs to do some serious growing up.

Meanwhile, my prayers are with Sapient and Kelly this evening. Hopefully Brian has a speedy recovery. Pray also that the Lord has bigger plans for Brian Sapient than atheist activist.

UPDATE: This attack has been confirmed by Brian Sapient here in this thread at the RRS discussion board.

UPDATE (8/7/2017): I have a huge backlog of spam comments on this post. I’m tired of getting notifications that I have comments on this blog, only to find in every single case it be spam comments on this post. Therefore, I am permanently closing its comments. Thank you for understanding.

Day 2a: Unshakable Faith Conference

The high point of the first half of day 2 of Unshakable Faith was Dr. William Lane Craig’s presentation of Leibniz’s argument for the existence of God.  It goes like this:

  1. Everything that exists must have a cause, either as an intrinsic necessity or from some external source.
  2. If the universe has a cause, it must be God.
  3. The universe exists.
  4. The universe must have a cause.
  5. Therefore, God is the cause of the universe.

The solidity of this logic, Craig argues, is very powerful.  It is impossible to deny it starting at point 3, so points 4 and 5 flow necessarily and are therefore irrefutable.  The atheist must deny points 1 or 2 in order to shake this argument, but they will have much difficulty in doing so.  In a future post, I hope to elaborate on the difficulty of denying points 1 and 2, and therefore begin to build a more cohesive case for the existence of God.

The first presentation of the day has convinced me by evident reason that the foundation of any Biblical worldview must reject the evolutionary idea of millions of years.  Dr. Terry Mortensen of the Creation Museum presented a case against millions of years, followed with a breakout session on Flood Geology.  All-in-all, he presented a convincing exegetical case for a 6,000 year old earth.  Time permitting, I hope to elaborate somewhat on that point, standing on the shoulders of the giants of creation science who work at Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and Creation Ministries International.

For now, suffice to say that I have renewed my position that a 6,000 year old earth with no death or destruction prior to the Fall is exegetically necessary for a Christian worldview.  I am a Young Earth Creationist, no longer am I a Young Earth Agnostic as I have stated in a previous post.  I have taken it on faith that God will show me the truth or falsity of that position in His time.

So far, this convention has been an amazing experience for me.  I look forward to more after lunch.

Day 1: Unshakable Faith

It is day one of the Unshakable Faith Conference put on at Landmark Cincinnati.  The pastors hope that this will become an annual event, but they don’t think that they can top this first year.  I’m inclined to agree.

First on the menu this evening was Dr. Norman Geisler presenting a talk that the program title “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.”  However, it should have been titled “Atheism is Dead.”  Geisler effectively deconstructed many of the arguments in favor of philosophical unbelief, instead concluding that atheists are atheists not for philosophical reasons but for personal reasons.  Those reasons inevitably point back to the fact that a holy God rejects human sin.  We, as fallen beings, love our sins and wish to remain in them.  Therefore, we reject God.

Two breakaway sessions ran simultaneously.  The first was on the concept of millions of years in regard to the age of the earth and where it came from.  I, however, opted to attend the primer on cults with Dr. Alex McFarland.  Dr. McFarland presented three questions to ask any cultist, after earning their trust and friendship:

  1. Can we agree that orthodox Christianity and your church teach different things?
  2. Can we agree that your beliefs originated from a definite person?
  3. What do you think of that in light of Galatians 1:6-10?

Then, we finished the evening off with a talk from one of my personal heroes, Dr. William Lane Craig.  Dr. Craig spoke not only on the reasonableness of faith in God and on Jesus being the Son of God, but he also spoke of his own personal conversion experience in a powerful and moving speech.  He then asked for anyone so moved to give their lives to the Lord, which I can only pray that some folks did just that.

I got to shake hands with Norman Geisler and sit in the front row of a William Lane Craig lecture.  This is how normal people get around sports stars!  I’ll have more to report tomorrow as the conference closes.  I thank the Lord for blessing me with the time and the ability to attend this amazing event, and I pray that my report touches the life of someone reading it.

Parents Charged in Death of Madeline Neumann

As a father and a Christian, I would never leave my daughter’s health up to fate.  Look at that sweet face, beautiful eyes, and that smile that can melt your heart!  She is one gorgeous baby, that is certain.  I couldn’t look into the face of this child who trusts me implicitly with her very life and give her anything less than the finest medical treatment that my insurance can pay for when she is sick.

Yet that is exactly what the parents of Madeline Neumann did.  They left their daughter’s health to the power of prayer.  I believe that prayer is powerful when used correctly–as a tool of communication between the created and the Creator.  Prayer is not a gumball machine.  We can’t just pop in a quarter and get everything that our hearts desire.

Rightly, the parents of Madeline Neumann, nicknamed Kara, stand before a judge, answering to charges of murder.

I had expected the charges to be negligent homicide, but the authorities went one better than that: the charge against Kara’s parents is reckless homicide.

Powerful as prayer is, the law doesn’t recognize it as a substitute for medicine.

Protests on Senate Floor

Three Christians, Ante and Kathy Pavkovic and their daughter Christen Sugar, were arrested Thursday by the Capitol Police when they disrupted the Senate hearings they were attending. The opening prayer was being offered by a Hindu chaplain, Rajan Zed. The three Christians were shouting Bible quotes, first Psalm 33:12, then from John 14:6, and finally Exodus 20:3.

DefCon is all over the story (of course) and posted the video here. TheHill.com has the story here, as does RNB. The Pavkovics represent Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, and their parent organization’s statement is found here.

So, where do I stand? I don’t know. I think I’ll sleep on it for now.

I’ll blog on this issue later, once I’ve had some time to pray some more about it.