Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Caribou Coffe--mmmmmmmmmmmm

On this the morning after Christmas Day there is but one thing on my mind at the moment--Spicy, Heavy Caribou Coffee (Thanks to whoever bequeathed it to me anonymously this Christmas). If it were not for this coffee on my desk I would be sleeping right now. Christmas celebrations were grand, but they have taken a toll as I'm sure your celebrations have. Saturday we enjoyed Christmas celebrations with extended family in Madison. Sunday we worshipped together with our church and then visited with family in town. Yesterday we had a wonderful time retelling our Savior's birth, singing hymns and opening presents with our little family at home. Then it was on to the Christmas dinner at our church where we were able to share both physical food and spiritual food with folks in need. Finally we celebrated with my wife's family last night. Much eggnog, turkey, cookies and other goodies have been consumed. Many presents have been opened.
So now what? As we catch our breath and prepare for the New Year I have one thought on my mind-- clarity of focus. May God give us all clear thinking to pause for a moment and consider what God has given to us and consider how we might offer it back to Him as a sweet smelling sacrifice of service. Moses' reflections are helpful at this point:

Psalm 90 A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man back into dust And say, "Return, O children of men." For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away. For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Do return, O Lord; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, And the years we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.NASB95

Monday, December 18, 2006

"The Mystery of Christmas" 48 hours

Last Saturday night 48 hours aired a show called "The Mystery of Christmas." While watching the first half I became sick to my stomach as "Christian Scholars" did their best destroy the record of the New Testament. What was so amazing, and I should expect this by now, is that they never once considered the possibility that the New Testament could have accurately recorded the birth of Christ. Their presupposition was all too obvious. They had decided at the outset that the witness of scripture could not be true because it deals with the supernatural and miraculous. It was almost hilarious to see them try to reconstruct the story of Christ without the text of scripture. It was pure guess work. The amazing thing is how arrogant they were as they touted their own opinions as real history and ignored the text of scripture which was completely written within 100 years of Christ's birth. John Dominic Crossan makes some amazing statements:

“We would like there to be records of all of this. And instead, what we have is Gospels...The interesting thing is, of the four gospels, Mark and John of course have no nativity story. Only Matthew and Luke...They agree that Mary and Joseph are the parents. They agree about a virgin birth. They agree about a birth in Bethlehem. But pretty much apart from that, the stories go completely their own way.”

Crossan mentions that the gospel writers had specific purposes in writing, but he claims that because of their purposes they created their stories to prove their points. However, there is no thought of the idea that the gospel writers might selectively choose what details of actual history to include based on what they were trying to teach. For example Luke sets out to give and orderly account of the things that took place. He is the historian (Luke 1:1-4). So we would expect that Luke would have the fullest account of the birth of Christ. Crossan also does not mention that nothing in the gospel accounts is contradictory. Any differences can easily be explained by considering that the writers selected details for a reason and that they represented different witnesses to the same events. If there were a car accident there would be various accounts as to what happened. The accounts would be different, but not neccasarily wrong. Each person would be able to share from their perspective what happened. The difference is that scripture claims to be sourced in God Himself (2 Tim. 3:16). So when we read scripture we find absolute coherence and absolute accuracy. We find absolute truth.

Crossan, Michael White and Elaine Pagels don't belive the testimony of scripture. The Jesus of the Bible is to them an invention of the writers of scripture, and yet they try to say that the metaphor of Chirst still has significant meaning and value for Christians. However, as C. S. Lewis said, "He is either liar or lunatic or Lord." Their is no middle ground. If the message of the Bible is false then their is no use in anyone being a Christian.

Thankfully, Ben Witherington from Asbury Theological Seminary was featured in the last part of the show. He simply took the witness of the 4 gospels as being absolutely true and then toured around the Holy land showing that everything that was said fits with what we can see. He shows that there are no huge dilemmas to overcome.

However, there is one huge dilemma. One must embrace scripture by faith. It is not blind faith because scripture is very reasonable. In fact, scripture if perfect reason, but because of sin people will not except the wisdom of God unless God opens their eyes. But when one with eyes wide open reads scripture and looks at the world things begin to come into focus. With focused eyes one can then look at the simple beauty of the birth of Christ and see the profound reality that He was in fact conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, the promised Messiah, the descendant of David, the eternal King, Yahweh Himself, the Son of the Most High, the Savior of the world! And what's more we can fall on our faces and worship our risen Lord and Savior today!