Monday, July 31, 2017

A Nice Way to End

Last Thursday a historic event happened.  At the initiation of some of my UNDERgrad students, 6 of us got together socially for an end-of-the-semester event.  Brenda and I have entertained at least ONE group of my students every semester for as long as I can remember.  Due to our move, we had decided to skip this term, until one of my students suggested we get together.

We met at a local coffee shop and for two hours we chatted about whatever came to mind.  Brenda and I were both deeply honored, and the students expressed their delight that we would spend time with them.

The group was from two different classes, but the initiator was from my Measurement and Evaluation class, which brings up another point.  This may have been my BEST or top 2-3 M&E classes of my entire career.  This is the toughest class in our curriculum and this is the class for which I wrote a text book, so it has special meaning.  Unlike most M&E classes, only one person dropped the class after I explained that it was tough, and that I ONLY give ESSAY exams.  I am the ONLY person I know who gives these... and for good reason.  Grading them is tough!

Soooo, I feel that G^d is giving me a great send-off as I prepare to enter the wonderful world of retirement.  As most of you know, we will still be working for Cru Faculty Ministry, but not having to get up and go to work every day of the term.

Thanks be to G^d for a great career and a great adieu!

Look OUT! The Bridge has Washed Away!

Lots of people do NOT want to be confronted by Christians "pushing their beliefs on other people".  I find that just a little strange, in that most people seem very accepting of actors, singers, and other not-especially-qualified people "pushing their beliefs" about politics, abortion or whatever, "...on other people".

But let's give a little sympathy to the protesters against the gospel.  But consider this practical question.  If the bridge down the road around that blind curve had washed away in the recent flood, would you prefer I told you, or would you truly prefer to be "left alone", not bothered by that bit of worrisome information?

Really now, truly?

So, when someone shares the Good News of the Savior with a lost soul, a person with no hope in heaven isn't that pretty much the same thing?  In fact, maybe it is MORE important.  If I save you from running into the river and drowning, but 25 years later you end up in hell, then that is a small accomplishment.  If someone who cares enough about you to share the Good News of Christ with you, and you believe, and consequently live 6 months BUT spend eternity with G^d, that MUST be infinitely more valuable.

So, let us NOT grow weary in sharing Christ. People may object that we are "pushing our beliefs on them", but wouldn't they want to know about the bridge being washed out?  And, isn't this MORE important news than that?

Just askin'.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Profiting on Christianity?? WRITE

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Legalism- a Persistent Problem

I have written before about legalism.  How the Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus' day had taken legalism to its pinnacle.  Remember the cliff illustration?  "Helping G^d, by building high walls to keep us from falling into sin narrows the path so much we inevitably fall into legalism.

What is legalism?  It is reliance on our obedience to the law to earn our place with G^d.  It is futile and ends up with Christians criticizing other Christians for not falling into the trap of reliance on the Law as a means to reach G^d.  It also irritates our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As our Sunday School class discussed Romans 7 this morning, it dawned on me.  Legalism does NOT elevate the Law so much as it Diminishes it.  That is the Law was given to mankind to illustrate clearly how MUCH WE NEED A SAVIOR!!  Did you hear that?  As I seek my justification in the LAW I fail to see that I can NEVER succeed.  The LAW is too hard.

On the other hand, keeping the LAW, to the extent I can, is how I express gratitude to G^d for saving me by the BLOOD of the Christ.  PLUS, the LAW tells me the best possible way to live.  BUT the LAW is to show my sin, not save me.  I need the CHRIST for that.

I endeavor to keep the Law for gratitude and for optimal living, but NOT for salvation.  And if I see you struggling I may inquire if I can be of help, but I won't be forcing my view of the LAW on you. It is INDEED DUMB to ignore G^d's Law, but that's generally between you and G^d, unless you allow/request me to help.

So, let us NOT diminish the Law!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

End of an Era

I am FINALLY, and, at the moment, HAPPILY retired from a career in Higher Education.  Above you can see my LAST three classes.

In retrospect, I had a truly BLESSED career.  I loved the people with whom I worked, the students (at least MOST of them), the research, the travel, the prestige (no, seriously).

I THANK G^D for this great career.  I cannot imagine a better career, or a better environment.

Thanks be to the L^rd!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Devil's in the Details

I am NOT a detail guy.  Most of my friends have probably picked up on that.  I have published about 188 scientific papers, one book, and a bunch of magazine articles.  I can write very quickly, but I have great difficulty in conforming to the detailed requirements.  Typically I try to do the Big PICT stuff and get my collaborators to deal with the details.

I was recently listening to two different sermons on the SAME passage of Scripture, and the same thought came to mind.  I really identified with the BIG PICT sermon, but really struggled to find meaning and application with the detail-oriented sermon.

That is NOT a criticism of the detailed sermon it is a REMINDER that G^d made each of us unique.  I am NOT detailed, but I appreciate, probably more than most, the gift of those friends who are detail-oriented.  Likewise, I appreciate those detailed friends who can appreciate my inclinations towards the BIG picture.

Some of you dear readers, will recognize this is merely another re-statement of the obvious truth that G^d created each part of the body with different gifts and different functions.  Sadly we so often try to convert everyone to be JUST LIKE US!!

NO!!!!!  G^d knows what HE is doing.

Romans 12, I Corinth 12, and other places G^d makes it clear that we are NOT meant to all be alike. Just as clearly, we NEED each other, no matter what we think about our own gifts and how indispensable these gifts are (but just to us)!!

So, thanks be to G^d that he did NOT make everybody a Big-Pict person.  We need each other.

Thanks for being YOU!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

IF NOTHING is Prohibited, so WHY does Everyone Feel Gulity?

For the history of mankind, everyone has hoped that they could make their OWN rules, and live by those.  Then, of course, when we try to do just that we find our own rules a bit too confining, so we loosen those.

But, regardless of our ability to Rationalize most any behavior, we still MUST deal, inexplicably, with...guilt!

Odd that.

We feel guilty about:
  • Our carbon footprint,
  • Our failure to eliminate Racism,
  • Our failure to elect the right person to some office or the other,
  • US military interventions,
  • US military non-interventions,
  • Our failureS as parents, children, neighbors, spouses, etc.

A few years ago there was a popular female Christian singer, Julie Miller, who recorded a popular song titled, "My Psychiatrist".  The words in the song went something like this,
"They said when I felt guilty, my mother was the cause,
Now I know the reason is, only that I was."

That's pretty clear, pretty honest, and pretty useful.

And, surprisingly our abandonment of religion, particularly Christianity, has done little to assuage our guilt.  We are vaguely aware, even as ardent atheists, that we DO indeed bear guilt and we do INDEED need to be FORGIVEN.
In Julie Miller's song, she talks about her NEW psychiatrist, Jesus the Christ.  She speaks of his "experience" and his low (free) fees.
Maybe Ms. Miller was onto something.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How can I NOT forgive Others when G^d has forgiven me

One of my neighbors is a veteran pastor with over 50 years in ministry.  I asked him, last Saturday, as we stood in my driveway, about his favorite sermon.  Once he understood what I was asking, he quickly said that Luke 7 was his favorite passage to preach on.

If you don't know what that passage is about, it is the story of Jesus dining with a Pharisee.  A prostitute comes in and immediately begins, with her long hair,  wiping the feet of Jesus which have been wetted with her tears.  I am giving the very short version, so go to Luke 7:36-50 and read the story.

The punch line is the KEY here.  Jesus is called out by his host who thinks it improper to let a "sinful woman" touch him.  Instead Jesus blesses the woman and forgives her sin!!


Here is a career prostitute and Jesus forgives her!  When asked about it, Jesus replies, as usual, with a question, "41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

So, my problem, so often, is I FAIL to recognize the extent to which I have been forgiven and fall into the same trap as the Pharisee.  How can I condemn anyone, regardless of their life style, when I have been forgiven of so much?

"48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Thanks be to G^d for His abundant grace!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Why AIA Honduras?

Why would a rational person: 1) Raise money to travel on a foreign mission, 2) Leave the comforts of home and culture, 3) Travel with a bunch of strangers, 4) Give up a week of vacation, and 5) Lose sleep and 6) Risk parasites or worse?  Tourism?  Not even close!  There are only a couple of hours scheduled for even buying souvenirs.
Image may contain: 13 people, people smiling, outdoor
So Why do this?  There are several reasons: 1) Because we can, 2) Because we see the value, and 3)Because we choose to spend our “treasures on earth” to gain “treasures in heaven”! (Matt 6 :19-21).  So far, we have been able to: pray for our brothers and sisters, by name, in Honduras, provide educational service to the National University, the Technical University, and the Honduras Olympic Committee, give numerous testimonies to the participants in each venue, pray and support one another, and, most importantly, see many, many students, and some faculty, express interest in learning more about, and serving, Christ through the local ministry team.
Sure, we need a few treasures on earth - food, shelter, clothing-, but these things will soon pass away.  But… when we invest in heaven, the benefits are eternal.  That Bible passage concludes by telling us that, “Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.”  We struggle, like most people, with where our treasure is. 
Some of us older team members know by experience, and the younger team members know by faith, that mission trips, with their demands, and rewards, help us greatly in transferring our desires from earthly to heavenly ones. And that is WHY.  We have been changed by each other, by our colleagues in Honduras, and by some of the people we attempted to serve.  We will not be the same going back home as we were coming here.  We have laid up a small bit of treasure in heaven.  We will forget some of what we learned, but our heart has been changed a small bit, for eternity.  And that is REALLY WHY!

Monday, July 3, 2017

What Price Freedom? Lessons from the Great Civil Civil War

There is still disagreement among historians on the essential cause of the US Civil War.  There is NO disagreement that it was the bloodiest Conflict in the US military history, costing more lives than any other.

Regardless of the side on which a soldier fought, the soldiers on both sides suffered enormous hardship with over 600,000 soldiers dying in the conflict.  think about it!

In deep disagreement on slavery, states rights, and whatever else, over 600,000 died to fight for a cause.  Would you?

So many of us are reluctant to give up even our convenience and comfort for the cause we know to be true- The Cause of the Christ.  How about you?

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?  Or what will a man give for a soul?  (Lk 16:26).