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Showing posts from 2016

Stay Hungry

One my goals in life is to stay hungry.No, I don’t enjoy missing a meal or not getting enough to eat.I’ve even learned not to miss lunch when I have a lot to do because I’ll normally end up scrounging around for a snack.And if I’m hungry enough, I’ll eat anything.Animal crackers, old leftovers, you name it.The only benefit of being hungry is that it focuses my mind and strengthens my will.

It is important to be hungry for things beyond food. In the area of health, relationships, finances, or professional advancement we all have a tendency to settle too soon. If good enough is below your potential to achieve, it isn’t good enough. Don’t get used to poor health, mediocre relationships, tight finances, or a boring profession if you can do something about it. But most people don’t consciously choose to live below their potential; they simply lose their hunger. Like everyone else, I struggle with the temptation to settle.However, I’ve found that there are some practices that consistently s…

Why I Read to My Kids Daily

Ever since our first child outgrew her crib, my wife and I have spent time every night reading to her before bedtime.  Now our three oldest kids all love this daily ritual.When I add up the time we’ve spent reading to our kids over the past five years, it’s a pretty substantial amount! Why do we do it?Here are several key benefits.
First, it encourages young children to read when they are older.  When children realize that reading is fun, it provides a positive reinforcement that makes it more likely for them to read when they are teenagers and adults.  There is a modeling aspect as well.  When children see their parents read, both to them and for their own benefit, they think of reading as a normal adult behavior.
Secondly, it develops children intellectually.   Many studies have shown that reading to toddlers and children increases their academic performance in a broad range of subjects.  It also develops concentration, thinking, and language skills.  Additionally, by selecting high q…

“Flesh” in Scripture

The Bible has a lot of negative things to say about the flesh.  Paul’s letter to the Galatian church illustrates this powerfully.  After passionately urging these believers to not return to a legalistic approach to God, Paul begins to wind down his letter with a warning about the flesh.  In Galatians 6:8 he contrasts the flesh with the spirit, and warns his readers to not sow to the flesh or they would reap corruption. Here the word flesh clearly refers to man’s sinful nature.
It would be easy for Christians to see the many warnings in scripture about our sinful nature and conclude that anything that appeals to our flesh should be avoided. However, such a worldview, if followed consistently, leads to asceticism.  If anything that appeals to our senses is bad, then I should only wear cheap clothes and never paint my house. And forget about fresh coffee and air conditioned churches; those appeal to my flesh as well! Fortunately, there are several good reasons to avoid such a conclusion.

Paul’s Use of Pagan Literature

Did you know that several writers of scripture referred to or quoted other literature? This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Christian worldview allows a person to affirm truth wherever it is found. The Apostle Paul seems especially well read in this area and used authors his readers would be familiar with to connect with his audience or illustrate a point. Here are a few examples of pagan citations that have interested me over the years.

Epimenides of Knossos, a sixth century BC pagan poet who lived in Crete,seems to be one of Paul’s favorites.In Acts 17:28, Paul is quoting Epimenides when he says, “for in him we live and move and have our being.”Legend has it that this eccentric poet never quite blended in with his fellow Cretans, since he always wore his hair long.Some even believe he was called on to stop a plague in Athens that led to the erection of an altar to “the unknown god” that Paul found centuries later.Paul quoted him a second time when writing to his protégé, T…

A More Sure Word

As a young follower of Christ I struggled to understand the relation between reason and faith.  One particularly troublesome passage was the first chapter of 2 Peter.  In this passage, Peter writes about his experience with James and John where they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus.   Then in verse 19, he writes, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy…”
This passage seemed to teach that a Christian should trust the Bible even more than physical evidence. According to that view, Peter was essentially saying that on the one hand you have empirical proof, and on the other hand you have the Bible.  And of course, the Bible is “more sure” than even his eyewitness experience. That would mean Peter was supporting a fideistic type of faith.  However, that would violate both reason and other scriptural passages.
Recently I realized that I had completely misunderstood what Peter is saying. He is not saying that the word of prophecy was more sure than his eyewitness encounter.  He is a…

Why I (Generally) Trust the Experts

Sometimes I come across people whose views could best be described as contrarian. It seems as though they view themselves as slightly more enlightened than average and able to see through the many errors in society.Touting examples that show “the majority is not always right,” they seem to believe that being in a minority position somehow enhances their chances at being right.

This intellectual “anti-establishment” mentality is much more common than I’d like to admit. Our ongoing conversation as an American public regarding the safety and benefit of immunizations is a prime example. Large groups of people somehow feel that their doctor and the entire medical establishment are wrong to continue to demand these shots.These people believe that the risks are underrepresented and the benefit of immunization is exaggerated.
Contradicting “the experts” may give us a tremendous ego rush and sense of autonomy.And it is easy to give examples of expert opinions that are now disproven. However, he…

The Bible is Not All Truth

Tertullian was a Christian apologist in the second century from North Africa.He may be best remembered for a hypothetical question that he asked in one of his writings.Apparently frustrated over the secular learning that he saw other believers pursuing, he asked, “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?”All Christians are living out their answer to this question in their life.And unfortunately, many agree with Tertullian.

My view is that there should be no conflict between secular learning and sacred truths.However, some people view these two as separate and conflicting categories. In many cases, adopting such a view leads to general paranoia about “the world” and an anti-intellectualism among believers.There are several reasons why a Christian does not need to be intimidated or scared of “secular truth.”
The Bible is all true, but not all truth. Traditionally, Christians have affirmed that the Bible is correct in all truths…