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June 2008 entries

How About the Ark?

It seems the one question Christians shy away from when talking to unbelievers is the subject of Noah's ark. What is it about the ark that make us shy away from discussions? Could it be we don't believe the ark is defensible given modern science? Let me try and tackle a couple of the questions honest pagans raise.

How could Noah possibly build an ark as big as a cargo ship in such primitive times?

The physical strength and mental ability of men in the days of Noah were as great, if not greater, in the days of Noah as they are today. If a few workers can build a house in 3 months, why couldn't Noah and others build a large boat in a few years? Noah's ark would be a little longer than half the length of the titanic. We can trace rather complex tools thousands of years in man's history. Such tools and techniques were used to build such wonders as the pyramid of Egypt and the aqueducts and roads leading to Rome. The increase in technology does not signal a sudden rise in man's intellect, but is a result of the ability to share ideas and build upon the accomplishments and discoveries of others.

How could Noah round up and store so many animals in one vessel?

Genesis 6:20 tells us every "kind" of animal came to the ark. Noah did not have to round them up. They came to him. While this is a supernatural event it doesn't seem to me to be any more unbelievable than birds and animals traveling the same migratory routes they do today. The Creator has placed internal GPS's in each of His creatures. Why is it so hard to believe He could not have set the destination to the location of the ark? One scientists has estimated that there would have been about 16,000 kinds of animals on the earth at the time of the flood. Many of these would not have to be placed on the ark since they already dwelt in the sea. It is important to note the Bible does not state tat every variation of animal was placed upon the ark. God said that every "kind" would be represented. For example only two dogs and two cats would be necessary to repopulate the earth with all the varieties we have today. If we look at kinds of animals this way, even with the animals in pairs, there may have been as few as 2,000 animals on the ark. We will tackle the question of dinosaurs in the next entry.

Pastor Ken      

Creator God

The late Isaac Asimovic, an anti-creationist sci-fi author and speaker, said, "In man is a three pound brain which, as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe." The human brain created the computer. Wouldn't it be logical then to assume that the brain which designed the  computer would aslo require a designer? Even scientists who deny the existence of God admit that matter, all matter, exhibits evidence of design. Who, if not God, is the architect or our world? The God denying scientific community has crowned randomness and time co-regents when it comes to the universe. These two mindless concepts created everything from the pea to the peacock, the dandelion to the African lion and of course the ape to the ape-man. One of the most celebrated minds of our generation, Richard Dawkins, attributes the complex and symbiotic relationship of all living creatures to "blind forces of physics." Amazing how otherwise intelligent human beings will go to incredible lengths to deny the existence of an intelligent designer to whom they would have to bow their knee.

Scientists agree the information needed to organize the building blocks of life into a working machine are found in the DNA. Those who lean toward the random processes of enormous amounts of time to create organized life must close their intellectual eyes to one of their basic truths, "order is never the result of disorder." To think that random chance over time can create something as complicated as DNA is not possible given their own set of rules. Dr. Werner Girt says, "There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter."

Is it too far fetched then to trace all life back to a single intelligent source? No! It is the only explanation that does not contradict the principles of science. Then if real science supports the Bible's claim of an eternal Creator God, why isn't this truth readily accepted in the scientific community. Michael Behe says, "They don't want a supernatural being to affect nature...they bring a philosophical commitment to a view that restricts what kinds of explanations they will accept about the physical world. Sometimes this leads to rather odd behavior." The truth is if we accept there is a God who created us then we must be subject to that Creator. Many have made a godless science their authority rather than the One who created the perfect principles of the science they worship. This fits nicely into the worldview of those who wish to avoid the ultimate destination of every human who has ever lived; to kneel at the feet of the righteous judge to Whom we owe ultimate allegiance.          

Let's Talk Creation

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I recently went to the Creation Museum, just outside of Cincinatti, on the way to our denominations annual convention in Indianapolis last week. Now, I have always believed in creation by God and not in evolution as taught by most scientists. But, I have been open minded when it came to the number of days when it came to literal or symbolic. My seminary professors taught the gap theory and the age-day hypothesis over a literal six day creation period. These explanations allowed  their post bachelor degree students to merge secular science with Biblical teaching. I was all over that. After all, I wasn't born yesterday. I had been taught all of my life that the dinosaurs lived millions of years before man came along. I had been taught that civilizations took tens of thousands of years to develop. I had also been taught by some seminary professors that the flood was not global, but occurred in a narrow geographic region. These were the beliefs of the enlightend Christian and not just the uninformed Bible thumpers.

While walking through the Creation Museum Saturday before last I began to see that pretty intelligent people, not just Bible thumping preachers, (whatever that means) believed in a young earth, a literal six day creation, dinosaurs living concurrently with man, a worldwide catastrophe called the flood and many other teachings not accepted by the academic faculty of my religious training. I was so intrigued that  I bought a couple of books written to answer the questions of many openly critical readers. These books have been extremely enlightening. They really do offer intelligent answers to questions raised by many who believe everything else in the Bible except a literal interpretation of creation.

Over the next few entries in "Out of the Box" I am going to list quotations from and my thoughts about these books. I think you will find it fascinating just as I have. If you have any specific questions you would like to see covered just email them to me and I will try to include them in my blog. Talk with you soon.

Pastor Ken       

Update From Indianapolis

 It's me again from next door to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. (Which is being torn down as we speak to be replaced with a spankin'  new complex.) I asked you at my last entry to please pray for the election for president of the SBC. More specifically, I asked you to pray for Johnny Hunt.

After voting Tuesday afternoon, Marilyn and I waited to hear the results. Pastor Hunt, as you may recall was one of six candidates for the position. SBC constitution and bylaws states the winner must get a majority vote to win the election outright. My wife and I were entering the convention center for the evening session when we saw Johnny and his wife Janet with their children and grandchildren having their picture made in the hallway. We recognized, Star,  the pastor's ministry assistant at the back of the crowd. Marilyn asked her if Johnny had won and she gave Marilyn a hug and said yes! and on the first ballot. What an answer to prayer. No one, including myself, expected anyone to come out on top after just one ballot. Thanks to all of you for praying, and if you didn't you should have. Here are the results: Johnny Hunt 3,100 votes (52.94%), Frank Cox 1,286 votes (21.96%), Avery Willis 962 votes (16.43%), Bill Wagner 255 votes (4.35 %), Les Puryear 188 votes (3.21%) and Wiley Darke 45 votes. (.77%) Johnny will make and excellent president and will represent all of us well.

Pastor Hunt has his work cut out. This year is the smallest crowd since I have been coming. I have missed only 3 times  since 1990. There are only 7,196 messengers registered here in Indianapolis. The number of participating churches has been in steady decline, as well as most other statistics for the SBC, over the last several years. One incident this morning is a reason why. I have stated before that since the SBC has become predominantly conservate in its make-up that a storm is brewing. We once had those "stinkin' thinkin' liberals" to oppose. When they had faced enough opposition several years ago they broke away and formed their own convention. Now who do we fight? The answer became obvious to me after only a couple of conventions. We fight among ourselves. Now the battle cry is "Be as fundamental and judgmental as I am or be gone!" That became perfectly clear during a debate over a resolution today.

There was a resolution from the Resolutions Committee that I completely endorsed. It was basically a call to accountability and standardization between SBC churches to enroll only regenerated believers. In other words, only living and born again people should be counted when the numbers are asked for in our churches. This came about because many churches have inflated rolls due to a failure to take peole off if they move their memberships or promote to that roll that's called up yonder. OK by me. Unnecessary, but OK. Then someone stood to amend the resolution. That's everyones perogative at this kind of meeting. This person wanted to add church discipline as a test of a churches good standing in the same sentence referring to the Lord's Supper and Baptism. What? I asked. What has this got to do with anything and when did discipline achieve the status of an ordinance? The person presenting the argument said that discipline was not listed as an ordinance, but that it was just as important as one. What??? I voted against the amemndment, but lost. Then another kind hearted Baptist wanted to amend the resolution again to make the language even stronger in favor of discipline. I voted against this admendment and lost again. The amended and amended again resolution passed overwhelmingly while I held my ballot aloft in opposition.

It is no wonder we are declining. When people applaud the addition of church discipline in a resolution and claim it is on par with the ordinances of the church, we are on a slippery slope to becoming guilty of the sin of the Pharisees. Why not add soul winning, or feeding the poor, or helping the helpless. or defending the downtrodden to a resolution on what it means to be a church in good standing? Are we now going to judge within the ranks of the conservatives how conservative we truly are? Are we going to condemn those who are unwilling to condemn their brother? Are we becoming a denomination who sees the speck in our brother's eye and does not recognize the 2' x 4' in our own? Young pastors and growing churches are not so much concerned with condemning their fellow Christian as they are devoted to serving God and engaging the enemy. The enemy is not those who do not think or act just like us. Nor is the enemy our fallen brother. Our enemy is the one who came to kill, steal and destroy.  God help us and may God help Johnny Hunt as he tries to turn the ship around.

Your brother inn Christ,

Pastor Ken        


Finally, Someone Tells It Like It Is

It's Sunday night and I'm sitting in a room in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is really cool for a Colts fan. My room is just across the street from the new stadium. Awesome! But, that's not why I'm here. Marilyn and I are here for the annual Southern Baptist convention meeting. We just returned from dinner after hearing one of my favorite pastors speak, Johnny Hunt from Woodstock, Georgia. Wow, did he get fired up. Finally, a featured speaker who is willing to tell it like it is.

Johnny expressed the same concern I have been expressing for years. Despite what we hear at these meetings the SBC is in decline. Pastor Hunt stated that 90% of our churches are in decline. He said that we baptized the same number in 2007 that we did in 1950. Fifty-eight years ago we had 6 million members and in 2007 we numbered 16 million. Still, we baptized the same. This is a problem. 11,000 of our 44,000 churches baptized 0 new believers. Still, he said, speaker after speaker will step to the podium this week and talk about how great we are as a denomination. Unless we humble ourselves and turn back to the Source of our strength all of our glory days will be in the rear view mirror.

Pastor Hunt said that the Lord had impressed on him three things he should do to emerge from the spiritual doldrums he and his church were in. We would all do well to listen and learn. Here is what he shared, 1) to pray more aggressively, 2) to witness more intentionally, and 3) to lead by example. Finally, someone willing not to just deliver a feel good sermon to the convention. Someone willing to give a realistic evaluation of where we are and not where we wish we were. Maybe this year churches and their pastors will be evaluated on their walk with the Lord and not just how much they gave to support the denomination. Pastor Johnny is being nominated for president. He will be against others who give much more in terms of dollars to the convention, but no one who gives more of himself to the work of the Lord. I know he will have both Marilyn and my support.

I'll keep you up to date with how things go this week. Please pray for the convention Tuesday at 2:30 as we cast our votes for president. Talk with you soon.

Pastor Ken     

Do This and Remember

A new insight occurred to me Saturday while reading scripture to prepare for the Lord's Supper. When Jesus was sharing the wine and the bread with His disciples He made the statement now so familiar with all of us who have been attending such services for years, "This do and remember Me." It was not until I looked at the verse through the eyes of those who haven't observed the ordinance enough to allow the words to become hollow that they really took on new meaning.

I try to remember that some of those who attend "Refuge" on Saturday night are not frequent "church goers." Much of what we have gotten numb to is still fresh with them. So when I explained the meaning of the passover meal I got to this verse and it suddenly became fresh again. God told Moses to instruct the Jews to annually observe the passover to remember their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. So when Jesus said to His disciples the remember Him He was speaking of their own deliverance. This time it wasn't a deliverance from an earthly king, but this was eternal liberation. Jesus was saying whenever you take the bread and the cup from now on you should remember that I have released you forever from the bondage to sin.

Sometimes we need to remember that the Lord's Supper is not an obligation but a celebration. Lord deliver us from just being "church attenders" to "liberated sinners!"

Celebrating freedom,Pastor Ken