Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pulling a "Da Vinci"

I hope Leonardo will forgive me but I would like to start using his last name with somewhat of a different twist: the act of a Da Vinci occurs when someone believes the word of someone or anyone but God. Let me give you an example of someone pulling a Da Vinci.

In the recent article in Maclean's (Apr.3'06), Michael Baigent (author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail) is said to have begun The Jesus Papers with the following story (as told by Maclean's): Years ago a respected Anglican cleric told Baigent that a long-dead, famous churchman named Canon Alfred Liley (1860-1948) had told him that he, Liley, has seen indisputable evidence about 1892 that Christ was still alive in 45 CE, long after the Crucifixion. Baigent is sure he will never see the proof, but he firmly believes it. The story is, in effect, a version of Catholicism's apostolic succession - a true knowledge, passed from one pair of trusted hands to another and to another, over the course of more than a century. (p. 36)

That is a classic Da Vinci under my new definition. He pulled a serious, blatant Da Vinci without looking back. Baigent puts his belief in a Canon and on evidence he will never see with his own eyes - and he firmly believes it.

We may ask why? And why this craze over The Da Vinci Code? Here is what I think. If the Bible is true and if Jesus is who he says he is and if he lived a perfect life, died and rose again, ascended to heaven - if all of this is true, then all who know this truth and this Jesus must bend their knee and confess Jesus as Saviour and King. They must come in repentance and faith and find life alone in Jesus. The ultimate heart of the battle is not the truth and untruth of the Gospels (although that is a serious battle) but a battle of the heart. Men and women refuse to believe they are sinful and Jesus is the only answer to their problem.

So, when someone pulls a Da Vinci go ahead and tell them about the trustworthiness and the authority of God's Word but don't stop. Tell them the good news story of the historical Jesus who answered this question the following way: Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. (John 6.28-29) Believe in Jesus, repent of your sins and follow Him - He alone is our hope.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thank You for the Cross

Revelation 1.4-8: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (ESV)

Jesus, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of kings on earth - it is he who died for His people. Jesus, the one who loved us and has freed us from our sins by his blood - it is he who died for His people. Jesus, the one who has made us a kingdom, priests of his God and Father so that God may receive glory and power forever and ever - it is he who died for His people. Jesus, the one who will return on the clouds to bring His people home with him and to bring judgment on those who do not love him - it is he who died for His people.

Jesus, I thank you for who you are, for who you are making us, and for the joy of living in Your kingdom. Jesus, I thank you for the cross.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Love Your Children

A court has ruled in Alberta Canada that it is fine for a 35 year old male to have an explicit sexual conversation on the computer and later phone a 12 year old girl at her house. The reason he was found not guilty: he did not try to lure her to have sex with him.

Understand this - it is not a crime to have a very explicit conversation with a minor and it is not wrong to phone her at her home, all without her parent's knowledge. We do not punish this sick behavior simply because at that time he made no attempt to meet her.

And so in an attempt to explain what has gone wrong we point the finger at our soft judges, our lenient justice system, our out of touch politicians or the smut on the computer. All these fingers pointing away from ourselves. We shift the blame elsewhere.

I believe one of the main reasons we read stories such as this is not courts or judges or politicians but a heart condition, that is a sin, called selfishness. Yes, pointing the finger at self we see our love of self. We are a selfish generation as we care for self first. Now, in polite circles we don't talk in such frank ways. Rather we say things like "we can't survive on one salary" or "I am just not fulfilled at home" and so on. But beneath all of this is self, pure and simple.

The result? We have a generation of children that have been ignored by their parents in the name of self. Our society no longer values children within the family and they are easily shipped out to others or left alone while parents go out and pursue their dreams. One prime example is the divorce rate. Enough said.

And sadly our children grow up alone figuring a lot of this world out on their own - or with their friends. I am not saying this mom did not love her 12 year old girl. I am saying that instead of blaming others, begin in your home and ask what place do your children have in your home? Do you value your children and spend time nurturing, guiding and loving them?

We have somehow believed a lie that says our children will be happy with the latest shoes and not the presence of their mom and dad. We have convinced ourselves that it is fine to give the most impressionable years of our children to others as we pay down a mortgage on an oversized house.

And then we wonder when a 12 year old girl finds herself on line with a 35 year old pervert wondering if this is love. Parents - they are your children, a gift given. Cherish them and love them for His sake.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Good News In Ethiopia

Last night at our evening church service, Melissa talked about her 6 month mission trip to Ethiopia. She showed many pictures and shared her experiences, followed by a time of questions. There were two striking moments for me Sunday night. The first was a story told of the children who came to their children's ministry and being very lethargic. They tried to do excercises to liven the children up but that did not work. They finally figured out that the reason the children were so weak was because they were not eating. They simply had nothing to eat. So at the beginning of their time together, they gave them something to eat and drink.

The second moment was the pictures of children/teens in boys and girls homes, without parents. Beautiful children and teens but with no family. Melissa mentioned the times she would be with both groups and seek to love them, in the name of Jesus.

And that is the value of doing more than social work in Ethiopia on a mission's trip. Melissa not only fed the children and developed relationships with those in the groups homes but she also was able to speak of the living water, the living bread and a heavenly Father. The gospel as it goes forward meets the ultimate need - pointing others to the death and love of Jesus Christ.

I thank the Lord Melissa was able to go to Ethiopia to feed the children and encourage the teens. But I also thank the Lord that she was able to take the great message of Jesus half way across the world and tell them of a gracious Father, a loving Christ and a Christian family.

What Every Believer Needs to Know To Serve God: A Lesson from Gideon

As believers, what is the first lesson we need to learn when we are serving God? Gideon was surrounded by a massive army who was ruthless and oppressive when the angel of the Lord came to him and said, The Lord is with you, mighty warrior (Judges 6.12). Gideon follows this statement with two questions. One deals with the presence of the Lord and the other questioning the title "mighty warrior", both of which the Lord answers by assuring Gideon of His almighty presence. The point: the Lord is with you. If Gideon was going to serve the Lord, He needed to know first and foremost, the Lord is present. And if the Lord was with Gideon, Gideon would be mighty for the Lord.

And that is why the first battle God calls Gideon to fight is so important. Remember the Lord calls Gideon to tear down his father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole, both of which Gideon does at night. The people of the town search for the one who would dare attack their gods and they finally come up with Gideon. Approaching his father, they demand Gideon's life, to which his father answers: ... If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.

What is so significant about this battle? In the ironic words of Gideon's father, Baal and Asherah are impotent. Gideon's God is not only present but all-powerful. The following scene when Gideon asks God to make the fleece damp and the ground dry, and then vise-versa, assures Gideon once again, in a very personal manner, the Lord would be with him: Yes, Gideon, God says, I am with you.

What an encouragement to Gideon as he was assured of God's power and presence. It's no wonder that when the Lord whittles his army down to 300, he does not protest. He has learned the lesson every believer needs to learn - God is powerful and the false gods cannot stand up to Him. And yes, God is ever-present with His people.