31 May 2005

Boasting in the Cross through your joys

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Galatians 6:14

So, taking this verse, what do we do with the other verses where Paul boasts in other things:
you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus. -2 Cor. 1:14

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. -2 Cor. 11:30

we boast about your perseverance and faith -2 Thess. 1:4

So what do we do with this? Does Paul contradict himself? Not really. John Piper, theologian and pastor, discusses the subject:
"When Christ died, He purchased for sinners everything they enjoy that is not part of their condemnation. We are sinners all. All we deserve is damnation. The only thing that everyone deserves is damnation. That's all we deserve. Therefore, every beat of your heart, every sight with a wholesome eye, every word sung to the Lord, every movement of a strong arm, every step taken with healthy legs, every word heard with a healthy eardrum, every friend at your side, every word you can read, every joy that springs in your heart, it is a blood-bought gift which you would not have had He not died. Therefore, if you boast or glory in one of these things, it is, if you are thinking rightly, a glorying in and a boasting in the cross because He bought them for you on the cross. Let every legitimate pleasure and every pain that God turns for your good become an occasion for glorying in the cross by which they were purchased for you."

19 May 2005

Not a whole lot to talk about....

Well...okay, there's a ton I probably could talk about; however, I just don't feel up to writing about a bunch of stuff right now. May Term has been fun so far...other than class. I forced myself back into the weight room and into running. It feels so good to be doing that stuff again. There's even been a couple days I've actually enjoyed the run...I never thought I would EVER say that in my whole life. I've been able to still have some fun among my free time from class, reading, work study, running, and lifting. I'm really glad I decided to stick around down here for May...no offense to all the homies in Salisbury. I miss hanging out with you guys too. As mundane as our nights get in Salisbury, somedays I could use one. I just wouldn't trade these last couple weeks for Jersey Mike's and the other exciting parts of "Salisburian" life. Well I'm out. Just thought I should post something. Later on.

15 May 2005

Control...

The whole course of human history is the story of man trying to find control. We try to find control on our own, by our own hands, by our own work. We began controlling smaller elements, such as fire to stay warm and cook, or water to irrigate for food. Then we move on towards bigger things. Man created ancient mythology to explain why the world was the way it was. If man could explain why things are the way they are, then they feel a sense of control over it. Man has seeked out power over other humans, over animals, over nature, over death, even God. Man's ultimate desire is to feel in control of a situation. It will drive a man crazy when he can't find control over something, if he can't find an explanation for something, if he can't figure out how to alter something. It cuts through the deepest of prides and the hardest of self-sufficient attitudes to realize that no matter what you do, you can not change a certain circumstance. It is easier to overcome circumstances that are changeable through hard work and effort than it is to fully accept an unwanted circumstance that can not be modified.

We each have something that falls into the latter category. I have mine. My circumstance deals with nobody else; just my own circumstance that I have to learn to accept through humility and trust in God that He will do what is best for me (Rom 8:28).

11 May 2005

Purpose...what will be my mark?

I've got a lot floating through my mind all the time. I have a lot going through my mind right now. Many days I can't escape some of the issues that plague my mind. There are so many things to ponder about life. I don't understand how someone can just go through life without thought of what life is for. I wonder each day what will be my mark on this world. How will my short existence change mankind? Will it change mankind? Am I too bold to think that I, some random kid with a few hopes and dreams, could make a global mark? Should I dream of lesser things? Should I not beg God that He would use me in some mighty way for His kingdom and glory? Should I not plead with God everyday that my life would be wasted for the sake of the nations, for the people of this world, for God's own splendor? Am I too bold to ask of such things? I dare to say that I am not. I dare say that for every person in the world who has given up everything to be wasted for God's purpose, there are thousands who sit in their comforts, living with no great purpose, living for nothing more than their next brand new Lexus. I beg God that He would mold me into the person that would be wasted for His sake.

"for He knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more."
[Psalm 103:14-16]

How will you be remembered? What purpose will you serve? Will that purpose be worth it? What purpose is truly great? These are only a few of the questions that plague my thoughts. I hope that they would be a part of yours as well.

10 May 2005

More on the topic of religious founders...

What proof did Muhammad have that he had the truth? What tangible proof did he have for the truth? The apostles had the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ among other things. What did he have? Actually, not much of anything. The contemporaries of Muhammad weren't eyewitnesses to anything miraculous. When Muhammad was challenged to perform miracles to confirm that he was from God, he never took the challenge (Sura 3:181-184; 4:153; 6:8-9; 17:88-96). Instead, he said he was just a man (17:93) and implied that the Qur'an authenticated him as a prophet (17:88). But there are no clearly defined miracles recorded in the Qur'an. Miracles were only attributed to Muhammad by Muslims who lived 100-200 years after his death because Christians kept asking them for proof that Muhammad was a prophet. These miracle claims are not based on eyewitness testimony, and give every indication of being legendary. Several speak of trees moving or saluting Muhammad as he passed by. Mountains and wolves allegedly salute Muhammad as well. And other miracle stories seem to be variations of the miracles Jesus performed (e.g., turning water into milk, feeding a thousand by multiplying a small meal). These miracle stories are found in the Hadith, a later collection of Muhammad's saying and doings.
The most reliable author of the Hadith, Al Bukhari, and a majority of Muslim scholars admit that most of Muhammad's alleged miracles are not authentic.
So, if Muhammad wasn't confirmed by miracles, then why did people follow him? They didn't at first. He and his followers were kicked out of Mecca in AD 622, twelve years after he apparently got his first revelation. (Since Mecca was a polytheistic city filled with tributes to other gods, Muhammad's message of monotheism was not well received by the local merchants who made their living off of the commerce associated with polytheism.) It wasn't until Muhammad led several successful military conquests between 622 and 630 that he began to attract a large following. His popularity was greatly increased when he led raids on Meccan caravans and divided the booty from those raids with followers. He also took numerous wives, which helped solidify his base of support. In other words, Muhammad's popularity resulted from his lucrative military victories that he shared with his followers, his astute political dealings, and his personal charisma rather than from any miraculous confirmation or truth.
The military aspect of Islam highlights another major difference between the origin of Christianity and the origin of Islam. Christianity began as a peaceful faith and was considered illegal for about the first 280 years of its existence (during which time it experienced its greatest growth). If you became a Christian in the Roman Empire before about 311, you might be killed for it.
By contrast, after a brief but unfruitful attempt to propagate his faith peacefully, Muhammad turned to military force to spread Islam. By 630, he had seized Mecca by force and had control of much of what is now the Saudi Arabian peninsula. His followers kept the military campaign across to Constantinople and through North Africa and almost into France.
So here's the contrast: in the early days of Christianity, you might be killed for becoming Christian; in the early days of Islam's growth, you might be killed for not becoming a Muslim. In other words, the spread of these two great monotheistic faiths couldn't have been more different: Islam spread by use of the sword on others; Christianity spread when others used the sword on it.
But why does a religion spread when its adherents are persecuted, tortured, and killed during its first 280 years? (Those are not good selling points.) Perhaps there's some very reliable testimony about miraculous events that proves the religion is true. How else can you explain why scared, scattered, skeptical cowards suddenly become the most dedicated, determined, self-sacrificing, and peaceful missionary force the world has ever known?

Information and most of the text from I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

What did the apostles have to gain by lying?

What's the difference between the founders of Christianity and other religions? Other religious founders founded their religion on ideas that they came up with or some mental "enlightenment" that they believe was given to only them. Most of them didn't even suffer for their own theorized faith. Many of them found political power with the masses. The Christian founders (the apostles) actually experienced a physical man who, according to their claim, died and was resurrected and ascended into heaven. So, because they actually experienced God in the flesh instead of experiencing him in some subjective "enlightenment" in their own head, do you think they would construe the details and lie about Jesus' death and resurrection if it really didn't happen? What would they have to gain? There's a difference between dying for an unseen faith in today's times, like Muslim extremists do. They die for a faith that they have not seen. They die so they can have their 70 virgins in heaven as they believe. It is a completely different story to talk about the founders of a faith dying for it. They are the ones who experienced it and they are the ones who know if it really happened or not. So if they lied they would be dying for a fake faith that they would have created themselves, which means they would know for a fact that they were about to suffer and die for a total lie. I find myself provoked to think that they were not so brave as to die for a lie that they created.

"Why would the apostles lie?...If they lied, what was their motive, what did they get out of it? What they got out of it was misunderstanding, rejection, persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Hardly a list of perks!" - Peter Kreeft

09 May 2005

Quick rundown

So the semester is over. I've moved into Apt N North for summer housing. My grades so far are fairly decent. I'll make Dean's List, so that's good. Last week, I went into a Doppler radar tower at a AMS weather station. We were on a trip for Meteorology class. We actually climbed up the whole thing (well over 100 feet high) and then climbed through a hatch into the bubble. It was awesome. I'll post a picture of a similar tower because I can't find the exact one. I'm here at school for May Term taking Modern World Lit (...fun!). Then I'll start traveling in the first week of June. I might make one trip home to Salisbury this summer. Graduation was Saturday. I was able to watch my roomies and all the other seniors graduate on closed circuit TV in the apartment. Too bad I couldn't get in the gym for graduation. Overall, things are going very well. I think and hope that this is going to be an amazing summer. Great opportunities, great people, great time to learn and grow in my walk with God. No regrets. No holding back. As the great Horace once wrote, Carpe Diem.

"...because a great door for effective work has opened to me..." [1 Cor 16:9]

04 May 2005

Almost done with the semester...finally wrote my jazz piece

Man, this semester is not ending...It seems like everyone else is already done, and I've still got tons of work to do and one more exam tomorrow. My Greek test is at 9:25 tomorrow and I am not prepared for it at all! I have tons of Meteorology work to turn in soon. I finally finished my creative project for Aesthetics class. It is a jazz improvization piece written for two guitars. There is an acoustic guitar picking the chords and another acoustic guitar improving over it. Traditional jazz was written as more improv than structured lead. This was my first attempt at ANYTHING like this, but it turned out to be decent enough for the class. Click here for the recording and here for the rhythm sheet music. Tell me what you think. It's a first time try, so it's nothing amazing.

02 May 2005

Yes....me too

I did it as well...I'm late on the blog train. But I decided to change and get one. It should be linked into my site. So it can be reached. But I'll start posting on here instead of on the old journal page I had up. I'll still leave up a link to the old journal page for any curious readers.