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March 2013 entries

I'm More Convinced Today than When I First Believed

Have you ever bought or signed up for something and later regretted that you had not done more investigating before you put your name on the dotted line? Are any of you old enough to remember record clubs? If you signed up then you received 10 LPs for one dollar and supposedly no obligation after that. The the day after your records showed up then another one followed like the next day.  An invoice followed with the record you did not order. If you didn't want it then you had to pack it and mail it back before the next record showed up at your door. Very annoying! Or even worse, have you ever signed up for Sports Illustated just to get the free jersey or football of your favorite team? Then after your initial subscription ran out the magazines and the invoices kept coming? Everyday? They would call and offer reduced rates if you signed up for the next 7 years. I did. I kept saying, "I only wanted the jersey! Quit sending me invoices!" It was particularly annoying during hockey season, when there wasn't even a temptation to keep the mag.

However, there is one thing I signed up for years ago that just keeps getting more better. My faith in Christ. I am more sold on Jesus than I was when I first accepted Him  38 years ago. And the more I learn about my faith, the more I am convinced everybody needs some. I have been reading all the arguments I can find recenly from those who chose not to believe in Christ. Some who argue He wasn't the Son of God. Others argure He didn't die on the cross. Some who argue He died but was not resurrected. To a person, these arguments are weak and without merit. What is clear is that they DO NOT WANT TO BELIEVE.

How many things have you ever been involved in that just gets better with time? I would dare say not many. But if you will honestly investigate the person of Jesus Christ and His claims you will find them to be true. I am more convinced today than when I first believed that Jesus was carried into the tomb a lifeless corpse and walked out three days later a Risen Savior! He is risen! He is risen indeed!       

I Am No Son of a Bubble

Two weeks ago I spent Sunday morning talking about the biological evidence for the existence of God. I discussed things like the fallacy of the "simple cell" necessary for Darwin's theory of evolution to be plausible. I explained about the necessity of protein molecules and amino acids to function within larger systems, thus making complex life a must. 

Well it seems I'm just too simple minded. Instead of God, we have water to thank for creating life. According to Steven Krolak of the Cousteau Society, "water is special. It is the only reason we are alive."  He goes on to say that "many of our religious expressions of reverence" were first for "miraculous cycles of water." (The Cousteau Society, Calypso Log, 1993.)

According to Mr. Krolak "water appeared about 4 billion years ago as exhaust from the rapidly cooling Earth." He goes on to explain "as cooling continued to the present temperature range, condensation occurred, covering most of the Earth with pools of liquid water." This is how he explains the creation of life, "Through ocean currents, bubbles, wind, rain, and runoff, molecular bonds are broken and new compounds form; chemicals necessary for life are isolated."

I have a question. Maybe I have a few. Who created the earth in the first place? Who wrote the laws governing condensation and formation of clouds and rain. Can there be condensation before there is water? Who made the water? If cooling of the earth creates condensation then there already had to be sufficient moisture in the earth to create the oceans. That's alot of hot air. So mindless rain, bubbles and current created conditions for life? Does anyone else see how idiotic this argument is? Is this kind of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo too much for anyone besides me to swallow. How can you believe that and refuse to believe in an ultimate source of knowledge and creative power. Who is making the bigger leap of faith. Hold your head up high believers. Both God and common sense are on our side!

Genesis 1:9-10 (NKJV)
9 Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.



Praise God! Cultural Christianity is on the Decline

I just finished reading an article by Ed Stetzer which confirmed some of the things I have been mulling around between my ears the last few years. Ed is president of Lifeway Research in Nashville. The way the article puts it is that  he "sees good news in bad numbers." The news he's referring to is the percentage of people who do not identify with any religion in America. The percentage of U.S. Protestants has fallen to 48% while those who do not affiliate with any religion has risen to 20%. For the first time those who identify as Protestants in America are no longer the majority. Some would see this as bad news for the church. Ed and I disagree.

When I began at Dallas Bay in 1990 only 7.7% of the population did not identify with any religion and over 1/2 of Americans claimed the Protestant faith as their own. The church had tremendous growth for years. However, a lot of the growth was from disgruntled church members looking for another church where they were not yet upset with the leadership or direction of the church. Many of those people became long time members and friends of mine. Many others, however, stayed only long enough to get mad at me and leave. While they were with us they were rarely happy. They grumbled and complained and built calfs out of gold. Well , maybe they didn't build a calf, but I'm sure the thought entered their minds.

During that time it was necessary to affiliate with a church so that you could advance in a career or solicit business. At one time no one would attempt to run for the school board without a church affiliation. Now a church affiliation is more likely to keep you off the school board. It is true that the Church's  influence in our communiuty has diminished. People are less likely to identify themselves as Christian just to get ahead. The lines are becoming more clearly defined and I think that is a good thing. I feel more free than ever to preach the pure gospel. Most people attending church are doing so because they want to be there. They feel energized, challenged, convicted and motivated to live out their faith. They give to missions more generously. They attend more regularly. I'll have to admit we haven't had to put chairs in the aisleway lately, but neither have we had Sunday's where half the auditorium is empty. The people are more consistent is giving, praying and attending. We are having the best year financially in the 25 year history of Dallas Bay. On the other hand we are no longer having 300+ a year join. While we average half that number in new members each year, the ones who are putting their name on the dotted line are more likely to be here a year from now.

One last interesting note from Lifeway's Research Ceneter; the percenatage of Christians who claim to be born again is on the rise. While there may be a "falling away" from mainline Protestants, there is an increase of people who have a personal relationship with Christ. Do those people complain? They sure do. They just gripe about different things. I have people who complain because I ended the message too soon; or others who think we don't have a big enough emphasis on prayer; others who think we should do more missions here and abroad. Hopefully, the church is more interested today in being a spiritual body than just a political or commercial enterprise. I'm glad it is no longer just the cool thing to be a part of the Christian culture. We can get busy with the eternal and not be distracted by the temporal. We must stop judging churches by the number of attendees, but churches should be measured by their determination to offer God's love and grace to the world one person at a time. Christ warned us that not many will follow, but He commanded  that He should be lifted up for all to see!