World View Pt 2 – Meaning and Purpose

Worldview Conflicts: Question #2 – Does My Life Have Meaning?

    Question Number 2 is not just a fascinating discussion topic it is a very clarifying question for all those who would call themselves believers. To address the issue, we have to clarify what we mean by “meaning.” Are we talking about lasting value in the lives of others, significant contributions to society, or are we merely wondering how quickly we will be forgotten when our life comes to an end? 

    Now, if you think back to our last post I asked the question: can a random cosmic accident ever have true meaning or purpose? The answer to this is a bit more complicated than a simple no, but no is the correct answer. The slightly longer answer is that from an evolutionary viewpoint life can have no true, lasting, meaning outside of its permanent societal benefits. So, if you haven’t done anything significant, then you haven’t really done anything other than use up resources that could have probably been put to better use. This is the plainly stated view of many Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc.  These are the same men who believe that unborn children who have genetic issues like Downs Syndrome should be aborted in order to maintain societal resources for the productive and useful. In their minds, meaning and purpose are directly tied to your ability to validate the number of resources you consume. This is a sad, but growing viewpoint in our world.

    Throughout my life, I have met many people from all walks of life, as most of us have. I have never met anyone who desires insignificant, meaningless, existence. I suppose that people like this do exist somewhere. My prayer for them is that they meet the risen savior and find their true purpose through Him. That being said, the vast majority of people want to know that their existence has some kind of meaning or purpose. The knowledge that their life has something more to it than existence, fear, pain, and death. 

    If we were to explore the conventional definitions of meaning and purpose we would find the following: 

Meaning: 

noun

– what is meant by a word, text, concept, or action

– implied or explicit significance

    – important or worthwhile quality; purpose

adjective [attributive]

– intended to communicate something that is not directly expressed

Purpose:

noun

– the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists

– a person’s sense of resolve or determination

– a particular requirement or consideration, typically one that is temporary or restricted in scope or extent

verb [with object] formal

– have as one’s intention or objective: God has allowed suffering, even purposed it.

I hope you will agree with me that these definitions are not much help when it comes to finding purpose and meaning in life. However, if we pay attention, they do direct us toward the answer. Notice some of their defining terms: meant, implied, intended – reason, created, requirement, objective. These are all terms that demand an external source from which true meaning and purpose in our existence are derived. This would imply an outside entity. This same entity is responsible for our existence. This entity would naturally be outside of our influence or control, and only through communion with this entity that the true meaning and purpose of our existence can be discovered. This is the foundational premise of Christianity. That is it only through a relationship with our creator that we find out why we are really here. More on that in another post. 

    Obviously, there will be those who deny this premise, and that is their prerogative. However, those who do will need to answer a few questions. The first is from which of the few remaining sources do they find meaning and purpose. If you are going to rest on the idea of life as a cosmic accident, then you only have two options. Do meaning and purpose come from societal approval or is it self-determination?

    If self-determination is the actual source of our meaning and purpose, then we have to deal with the standards, or morals, by which we judge a person’s actions. We will cover this in more detail in the next post. For now, consider what that would mean to history alone. If we go the route of self-determination then we have to acknowledge that men such as Hitler, Mao Tis Tung, Stalin, and Pol Pot, who together are responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people through the 20th century, were successful men who lived their life in full pursuit of self-determined meaning and purpose. Methods aside, they mostly accomplished what they set out to do, even though history chooses to remember them as cruel and horrible men. In a twisted way, you could also make the argument that they gave their lives for their causes. So, who are we to judge them so harshly. What about Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. Today she is heralded as a hero of women reproductive rights. History has chosen to lift her up as an example of greatness and courage. However, if you look into her own past, her reasons for starting an organization that has ended the life of more unborn children than every casualty, of every war in recorded history combined, you find a disturbing and often overlooked truth. Her goal was to provide a place where the races she determined to be unwanted, undesired, and unworthy to reproduce could be sterilized or reduced in population to a point where they could be controlled through the science of eugenics. Should we view her life as one of significant and lasting value just because she was able to bring her self-determined purpose into reality? History judged those men as tyrants because of the deaths they caused, yet holds her up as a hero in spite of the deaths she caused. If we went by numbers alone, those tyrants don’t hold a candle to Margaret Sanger. So apparently the self-determination path is not a valid one.

    If we allow ourselves to find meaning and purpose in society, then we must also agree that society as a whole must agree with and value our contribution. If what we do, or provide, is not agreed with or valued by society than our life was nothing more than a sad string of failures, and then we died. If that was not depressing enough, fear not, it gets better. The efforts and contributions that one segment of society sees as valuable can be viewed as harmful by a different segment of society. So, you can spend your entire life in service to one group of people only to find out that all the other groups couldn’t care less that you are even alive. Not to mention that what is valued in one generation may be vilified in the next. You could be loved and hated in a single lifetime. Does that mean that your life can have meaning while being meaningless? So, which segment of society do we follow, and from which segment do we allow our meaning and purpose to come from? The reality is that we will always support the segment of society that we most closely align with. This means that we are back to self-determination, and we already know that it does not work.        

    True, lasting, meaning and purpose is found in only one place. In a relationship with our creator, and savior. If you came from nothing, then your life will never really mean anything. But, if we are the result of a loving creator, then that creator had a purpose in our creation. As we draw near to Him, learn about and follow His word, we will not only find our true meaning and purpose. We will find salvation for our souls, forgiveness for our sins, and eternal life. Why would I pursue anything else?



Worldview Conflicts

Part Four: Worldview Conflicts

    Okay, so maybe my last post was a bit of a rant, but… it was a good rant…:0) Today I want to take a look at the topic I was supposed to look at in the last post before my frustrated mind found to how to control my fingers. How many in the scientific community believe that censoring, shunning, and intimidating those who promote ID or special Creation and their work, is in the best interest of scientific development. Many even believe that it is the only way to protect children from being indoctrinated by the religious superstitions of their parents. Bill Nye has actually as far as to say that teaching anything other than Darwinian evolution was a form of child abuse. A bit harsh to say the least. 

    The question that I want to address, over the next few posts, is not a technical one. There would be no practical way to direct all of the various arguments between the two opposing views in all the areas of scientific study in a single blog post. At least not one that anyone would actually read. The question that I want to examine is one of worldview. Most people spend little to no time ever considering their worldview or the impact it has on their thinking. However, understanding our worldview is foundational to the process of Biblical Apologetics, and essential to the process of ministering the Gospel in our present world. A person’s worldview is derived from four, fundamental, questions. At some point, like it or not, everyone answers these four questions. The hard part is making sure that your answers do not contradict the others. Sadly, this is all too common, even within the church. The four questions are as follows: 1 – Where do I come from? The question of Origin. 2 – Does my life have meaning? The question of purpose. 3 – How do I know right from wrong? The question of morality. 4 – What happens when I die? The question of destiny. So, Origin, purpose, destiny, and morality. Four topics that shape our worldview, and inevitably shape our lives, both mentally and physically.

    They seem simple enough. Maybe even too simple. However, once you begin to examine your answers, the challenges start to arise. Let’s take a look at the first of the four, the question of origin.

    This question, in my opinion, is the most important of the four. When we are contemplating the question “where did I come from?” there are only two possible answers. On one side of the aisle is the claim that you are the result of a random, meaningless, purposeless, cosmic accident. On the other side of the aisle, you are the result of intentional, purposeful, design. You will find people on both the ID – Creation side, as well as the Darwinian side of this debate who try to marry the two together with concepts like theistic evolution, the gap theory, etc. These ideas may be interesting to some, but they quickly fall apart as they fail to answer the real question. Is our existence the result of an accident, or intent. 

    For some people, this is not an issue that they take seriously, and from many pulpits, it is taught as a non-issue. Something that Christian should just not worry about because it is not a “Salvation Issue.” To be clear, they are correct. Our salvation and the forgiveness of sin is not based on our view of creation or evolution. It is based solely on faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That being said, where do we get the idea that Jesus is our Lord and Savior? We get it from the Bible, and we trust in the authority of scripture. That it is the true word of God. That it has been gifted to us by God, through the spirit of God working through the hands of His servants and prophets. The first five words of this great gift are “In The Beginning God Created.” We take our need for a savior seriously because the authority of scripture compels us to do so. How can we say on one side that the Bible should be believed and trusted in all things, for the eternal salvation of your soul, while simultaneously saying that the accounts in Genesis, as well as anytime anyone else the idea that God created, are wrong? How do we explain the need for a savior to restore the connection between creator and creation for a sin that, according to some, never really happened? In short, why would we trust our eternity to a book that starts out with a lie? 

    This is the main reason why the atheist community works so hard to keep ID – Creation science out of the classroom. It makes no difference to them if the science is sound or the quality of the research. Getting people to deny the authority of the Bible is the goal, not scientific advancement. When kids, plugin along in public school, are continually told one story of how life began; eventually they will start to question the authority of Gods word. That may seem oversimplified, but global statistics show it to be frighteningly accurate. 

    In the next post we will examine question 2 – Does my life have meaning? In the meantime I would ask you to consider this: Can a random, cosmic, accident ever have true meaning or purpose?



Part Three: A truth we often overlook

Part Three: A Truth We Often Overlook

    Over the last 22-ish years of working in a Christian ministry of some sort, I have seen and worked with some fantastic groups of people. Hundreds of amazing, God-fearing, dedicated people who just want to do the best they can in the service of the Gospel. It has been immensely rewarding, and a ton of fun. At the same time, I have been able to work with a wide variety of churches and denominations. While the foundational similarities are usually there, some of the worship styles and practices can be startlingly different, and that can be a good thing. It would be foolish for anyone to expect anything other than the diversity that we see within the various expressions of worship. Our churches are diverse because we are diverse. We are all drawn to different things, and have differing likes and dislikes. For me, a large brick building filled with stained glass, wooden pews, and a bell tower would never interest me. However, it may be the very thing that brings someone else in the door. Just because I like the blues melodies of an electric guitar during worship does not mean that the sound of a pipe organ is invalid. It’s not going to get my attention, but it may get yours. This is why we have our various churches, and worship styles and they are differences that should be appreciated, even valued.

    As believers, it is not necessarily the church you attend that is the problem. Most of our issues come from either our inability or unwillingness to think through our own beliefs. For many years I have encountered are Christians that have a great deal of understanding on specific theological, or denominational, topics. It might be “End Times” or “The Early Church,” and the list goes on. They may even have well thought out arguments to validate and defend their views. However, when they try to explain them within the broader context of scripture, they end up in theological conflict. For example: I was talking with a young man once about the authority of scripture and he mentioned the heresy of some translations, and how they are ignoring Revelation 22:19 where it says “And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city , written about in this book.” So, anyone who does not use the KJV only is in danger of judgment. This is an unfortunately common view for many Christians. The problem is that it does not mean what they want it to mean. So, I asked the young man if that verse was intended to be applied to the Bible that we know of today. His answer was an emphatic yes. As I began to talk to him about the history of our Bible, where the source texts come from, the dates for the authorship of the various books, and how many times it has been compiled and re-compiled his eyes began to open. Within a few minutes, his entire understanding of the scriptures changed, and he realized that he was misapplying Rev 22:19, and unfairly judging other Christians because of his own ignorance. The worst part was that he began to realize that his ignorance was self-imposed. He was merely regurgitating the doctrinal views he heard from other Christians without looking into it for himself. How many times, and on how many topics, do you think we do the same thing on a daily basis?

    When I hear people like Joel Huston, Mark Gungor, or Andy Stanley talking about why they cannot believe the accounts of the Bible in light of modern science, I am always deeply saddened, but I am never surprised. I have heard the arguments for over two decades now, and they have never changed. 

    You know, I just realized that I am not even close to what I was planning on covering today. When I write, I tend to just sit down and go. I usually stay on topic, but today… not so much. Well, I will try to get back on track in the next post, but for now, let’s just keep going…;0)

    Where was I, oh yes, old tired arguments. It may sound like I am speaking poorly about these guys, but the truth is that I am not talking about them. I have no desire to personally attack them, their publicly declared positions, yes. When someone occupies a role that is very public and maintains the level of influence that they do, it essential that we all have the willingness to stand up and say “excuse me, but I don’t think that is correct.” When I hear leaders in the global church forwarding the views of people like Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens, etc., I just get sick to my stomach. Not because they have those views, but because so many people will just blindly agree because of who they are.

    When I hear someone like Joel Huston say that “God used the Big-Bang,” or Andy Stanley say that “our faith does not come from the Bible,” or those who claim that the Bible is not real history because it talks about things that are impossible, I get sick to my stomach. I cannot understand the willingness to dismiss the accounts of scripture so easily. For example, just think about the Big Bang: That in the beginning, there was nothing and nowhere. Then, suddenly, out of somewhere, enough something appeared into our nowhere… turning our nowhere into somewhere, and our nothing into something. Then, all of this something exploded out into what used to be nowhere, and created everywhere…!!! Then they throw out words like the Quantum Vacuum, which contains nothing other than theoretical science as its foundation. How can anyone say that this line of thinking is any more scientific than “In the Beginning God”? Think about this, on one side they speak about their faith in the Gospels. Which contain the genealogies of Christ, going all the way back to Adam, the virgin birth, which is scientifically impossible, a ministry that continually claims that the entire Old Testament is true, and horrible death as payment for sin, and the resurrection after three days, which is also a scientific impossibility. While at the same time making the claim that creation, the garden, the fall of man, the flood of Noah’s day, the tower of Babel, and the list goes on, are all just made up stories.

    How do those who have had their spirits united with the living God so willingly, and blindly, walk away from the very word that chronicles the journey leading up to their freedom and redemption?  Next post I will actually deal with the topic I meant to look into today… for now, I guess, rant over…;0)



A response to Joel Huston Pt 2, a few things to consider.

Part Two: Defining Evolution, looking at assumptions 

One of the big stumbling blocks in the evolutionary debate is that the term evolution has more than one definition. On one side it refers to “change that happens over time”. Anyone that denies that things change over time is ignoring the abundant evidence plainly visible throughout the natural world. Evolution in this sense is visible, trackable, and testable. We see it everyday in all aspects of life, culture, fashion, and technology just to name a few. On the other side it refers to “the common decent of all life on earth through a single common ancestor via undirected mutation and adaptation.” The problem here is that this process has no evidentiary support. The main underlying assumption is that non-living chemicals somehow managed to merge themselves together in perfect alignment to, accidentally, kickstart life’s basic building blocks, forming amino acids. Then, through an entirely separate accidental and undirected process, these amino acids combined to form proteins, molecules, cells, and so on. This can sound amazing, even poetic, but what is being left out are the multiple levels of complexity that exist within each of these steps. The difference between these two processes is so large that the terms needed to be additionally clarified. To aid in this the terms Micro and Macro were added to  keep the two processes separate. Macro-evolution references the Darwinian process of common decent, and undirected biochemical development leading to life as we know it. Micro-evolution is limited to observable processes involving things like genetic variability. It also includes the processes of natural selection, adaptation, and speciation. None of the Micro-evolutionary processes are debated by either the Creation or Intelligent Design movements. In fact, they are completely consistent with the Biblical account and the concept of design. The problem is that when you say design it naturally requires a designer. In our minds there is no other way to explain the levels of complex programming found within each successive contributing layer of life.

A simple example of this complexity can be found within the cell itself. If chemicals can come together on their own, by accident, to form amino acids, and amino acids can, on their own, by accident, form proteins, and so on up to the first living, self replicating cell. Then how complex could a cell be. Think about it like this: cells replicate by a process of division. They literally make a copy of themselves. The “plans” for making this happen are located within the cell in whats called the mitochondria. More specifically, the mitochondrial DNA. This is not the same DNA that builds people. Thats found in your 46 chromosomes, which are also located within the cell. This DNA is specifically programed with all the information needed to regulate its own operation, and make another cell. So, the “blue prints” for making a cell are in the cell. Written in a biochemical language that has only four letters. At the same time the reason that the cell knows how to read and understand the language of the DNA is because the DNA contains directions for building the very “biochemical machines” within the cell that read, understand, and implement the instructions within the DNA code. The question that the Creation and ID movements are asking is very simple. How do you go from random elements floating in a pond to immeasurably complex, multi layered, biochemical programming without the aid of intentional design, a mind? It has been said that the probability of this happening by accident is about as likely as a tornado blowing through a junk yard and accidentally assembling a fully functional Boeing 747.

This, along with a host of other questions are what fuel the Creation and ID movements. While various groups will make the claim that we are anti-science, in fact what we are pushing for is to have the science currently being blocked and censored brought into the classroom; placed on the table for open discussion and debate. The difficulty with making that happen in our current scientific climate is that those in power are unwilling to even consider it. They claim to be protecting the public from religious indoctrination of researchers who may deliberately put their religious views into their findings. A question that we need to answer is rather or not their view is valid. I will deal with that in the next post.  



A responce to Joel Huston

A while ago I was listening to a song, done by Hillsong, called “So Will I”. I’ve heard it a hundred times on the radio and even thought about adding it to our churches worship song database. But, something about it just didn’t sit right with me and I could not put my finger on it. It has a pretty good melody, but a tad wordy for my personal taste. I was trying to look past all that because so many people around the world were enjoying the song.  What I didn’t like was the phrasing in the second chorus that says the stars were “Evolving in pursuit of what you said”. I just found that to be a very weird choice of lyrics. Shortly after that I ran into an article interviewing Joel Huston, the writer of the song. In it he was asked about some of the lines, as well as a post he put up on his twitter feed. His twitter post stated “Evolution is undeniable – created by God as a reflective means of displaying natures pattern of renewal in pursuance of Gods word”. It was at this point that I began to understand my hesitation. I can honestly say that I was deeply saddened to hear another global voice so willing to capitulate the authority of scripture to the deified ideas of Darwin. 

You might remember that in 2012 & 2014 another music artist, Mark Gungor, came out in favor of Darwin over Genesis. In several, very public, statements he wrote “I no longer have the ability to believe”… in either Adam and Eve, or the genesis flood. Even the TV preacher Pat Robertson, on his own show, made the statement that “people who believe in creation are deaf, dumb, and blind.” I find it very interesting that so many on the church are so willing to walk away from Genesis 1-11. Check out what we find in 2 Peter 3:3-6 3 “3 First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, 4 saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. 6 Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded”(HCSB). We are warned that in the end times people within the church will begin to deny the accounts of creation and the flood. That may not seem like a horrible thing to some as a belief in a literal Genesis is not a requirement for the salvation of souls, or the forgiveness of sin. That authority lies with Christ alone. What so many in the church seem to overlook is that by walking away from Genesis, they also walk away from the authority of scripture. In essence they fail to consider some important questions. Such as, how to you get to Jesus without Genesis? How do we explain the need to be forgiven for the original sin of Adam and Eve if they are nothing more than fictional characters? How do you explain the genealogies that lead up to the real person of Jesus if those people never existed? More importantly, why would anyone place their faith in a book that begins with a fairy tale? This is all very troubling, and without a doubt, it will cause lasting problems for the church. As our Christian leaders around the world continue to yield the authority of Gods word in favor of the word of man we should expect nothing less than dwindling congregations, crumbling buildings, and increasing hopelessness. All of which we see throughout the “enlightened” world.   

It should be known as we continue that I am, unashamedly, a long time young earth creationist. I believe in the complete inerrancy of scripture and I fully believe that the natural world supports the word of God in all of its detail. It should also be stated that I did not come to this by means of my faith. I began to doubt the Darwinian concept while taking earth science in the 7th grade. I can remember clearly reading two contradictory statements about the age of rocks and fossils in the same chapter of my textbook, and both claimed to be fact. I have always had a love for all areas of science and the understanding of the natural world. Throughout high school I was fortunate enough to have science teachers willing to teach Darwinian evolution as it should be; a widely accepted theory that contains a host of problems, unfounded assumptions, and some plain old guess work that few in the scientific community are willing to acknowledge. To better understand what I mean by this I recommend Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed”. It will help you begin to understand the degree of silence within the scientific community surrounding this topic. Even while I was in middle school I could see the contradictory nature of the “evidence” given, and the mountains of unanswered questions that are simply ignored or suppressed.

The problem is not, as some in the church have suggested, stupidity on the side of the scientific community. These are well educated individuals, with advanced degrees, and we should give them the respect that they deserve. Having said that, there is a very large problem that most people, in and out of the church, are not aware of. The problem is within the organizations controlling the funding, and publication, of scientific research information. For many decades any research that contradicts the Darwinian concept has been suppressed or censored. At the same time many of the researchers are being ridiculed and harassed. One of the largest culprits being the National Academy of Science. This group has control over much of the information taught in our public schools and universities. They have stated in their own publications that they will not support, in any way, research or papers, peer reviewed or not, that contradict Darwinian evolution. I am talking about documented research, catalogued, and peer reviewed for accuracy. If it in any way contradicts the Darwinian concept it finds itself academically ignored, or worse publicly ridiculed. If you doubt this statement I recommend the book “Slaughter of the Dissidents” by Dr. Jerry Bergman. It is available at the creation.com bookstore and Amazon.com. The problem is not that the evidence refuting Darwin does not exist. The problem is the unified effort to keep it out of the public consciousness. This should cause us to question the reasoning. If the evidence is so clear and overwhelming it should not have the need to be protected against scrutiny. 

Over the last 20-30 years great strides have been made in the areas of Creation Science, and Intelligent Design. Although the two are very similar on a foundational level, it should be understood that they are by no means the same thing. Creation Science is strictly geared toward the special creation, and global flood narratives, outlined in Genesis. The Intelligent Design movement, more commonly known as ID, in simple terms is geared toward the view that life is the result of intelligent causation. That the massive complexity within the genetic programing of even the simplest form of life could not have happened through a random chance process. The concept of ID is where my journey, as well as many others, began. For me it did not begin in the world of Theology or Doctrine, but in the observations of the natural world. Especially those which stand in stark contrast to the “Goo – to -you” theories.

Today, with so may resources available, is hard for me to believe that any serious seeker could take the Darwinian concept seriously. And that is where I find the source of the problem. Most people do not seek to understand on their own. As a society we tend to believe whatever a so called ‘expert’ tells us. So, like Mark Gungor, Joel Huston and others, if someone in a lab coat says we evolved from goo… then from goo we came… Then to make ourselves feel better we say that “God uses evolution” or that God “guided” evolution. What so many fail to do is ask the more difficult question: “do I fully understand what evolution is, and what its claims are?” The prevailing answer to this question throughout the modern church is a resounding “NO”! It makes me wonder how so many, can be so willing to walk away without a fight? When someone says that our Bible, Gods word, is wrong, we just give up and walk away without asking them to prove it? Is that really what is happening? It is extremely difficult to see it happening so fast, and so willfully. Especially when around the world we find researchers who are not only Christian, but Agnostic, and even Atheist who are standing against those forwarding the Darwinian process as only viable explanation for the origin of life on earth. 

How is it that so many Christians are willing to dismiss the word of God for a theory that a growing number of scientists around the world are walking away from? In my next post I will begin to walk through some of the apologetic problems that come with removing the Genesis account from our Biblical thinking. For now I would encourage you to do some preliminary reading. A few titles I recommend in addition to the ones listed above, and below, are “Darwins Doubt” by Steven C. Meyer, “Gods Not Dead” by Dr Rice Broocks, and “Replacing Darwin” by Dr Nathaniel Jeanson.

Here are a few quotes from some great books I recommend to anyone serious about looking into this topic.. 

Michael J. Behe, Darwins Black Box: the Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. 

“The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself – not from the sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with the consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day” 

David Berlinski, The Devils Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions 

Has anyone provided proof of Gods inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”  



Seasons

“Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

 

Seasons come and seasons go. Just in typing that I get an image of the swaying tide, washing in and out, sometimes smoothly and quietly rolling across the sandy beach then slowly drifting back out to sea taking nothing with it and leaving only the desire for it to come again, yet other times you can hear it roaring in from way out in the ocean. With every inch of distance it gains it grows in strength and size raising it’s foaming head before it finally comes crashing in against the rocks. It comes in farther than the quiet, peaceful tide. It hurts as it slaps your legs, knocking you off balance, gripping whatever is below and pulling it back out to sea as it scrapes across your skin, burning and stinging, no doubt leaving scars. The once calm sand and settled rocks have been so disturbed by it’s violence that they’ve been changed and shifted never again to lie exactly where they were before. You were standing when it came in but it’s tossed you around so much that you’ve now lost your footing and are down, you try to stand before it sweeps you completely out to sea. The next moment dictates if you will die or survive. There’s a lighthouse that both can see, yet only one keeps their eyes on the light. Those that have nothing to grab hold of to keep their head above the water or that refuse to grab hold of because they think and/or believe they can swim their way out will surely die. The other, have an ever present help in the time of trouble, a permanent floatation device and though they might swallow a bunch of salt water in the process it only adds to their seasoning flavor that they will someday sprinkle all over the earth after the storm settles.

 

What season do you find yourself in right now? Are you wading in the calm waters, enjoying the playful, gentle waves where your focus and perspective is on the joy of it all? Or, are you bleeding and bruised from the beating and wishing it would end soon? Let me reassure you that if you find yourself currently in the eye of the storm and there’s no end in sight or if you’re just coming onto shore but have been left tattered and worn you are not alone. The same is true for those who aren’t going through a storm right now, we may not feel the need to reach out because things are well for us at the moment, we don’t need a lifeline right now. But what if we looked at that like we needed to reach out more than ever because we ARE the lifeline, the floatation device is in OUR hands? I can say for myself right now that I am in a season of calm waters but it’s because my boat is not rocking that I can see others all around me who are really suffering. I know it’s in those moments of calm that I’m not left to myself to just soak it up and ignore those that are struggling, but instead I’m to weep with those who weep, pray for those who need prayer, encourage, love and speak life.

 

This message is for all of us, those going through the storm and those enjoying the calmer waters. I’d like to encourage you, in whatever season you find yourself, that there is purpose in every season, whether it be pruning and tough molding or blessings beyond blessings. I like to keep the perspective that we must be going through this specific thing not just for us, but because someday God is going to put me in the path of someone who is really going to need what I’ve learned through this very storm. It keeps us humble doesn’t it? It keeps us dialed in at all times, knowing that no matter what we are going through, though it’s happening TO US, it’s actually not always strictly just FOR US. If I’m finding myself in a season where my cup is running over with blessings, again, it’s not just for me to keep to myself, I’m to share it with others. I’m to pour it out just as it’s been poured upon me for it’s only when we empty ourselves that we can be filled again. Sure, it’s fun when we get to bless others, but not fun when it’s dying to self and allowing God to prune those dead branches. Am I right? But we’ve ALL been there. A season doesn’t come to stay, He is the God that gives and takes away and we can live expectantly in His truth knowing that whatever it is we are facing, He loves us enough to put others in our path to help us along. I pray that your current circumstance, whatever it may be, would give you a perspective of hope for how you can be used in the future because of it.  I pray the only chains that you’d be bound by are the chains that hold you ever so tightly to our anchor in the storm, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We do not suffer for nothing, there’s purpose and reason behind the pain that will shine like the morning sun as soon as this storm passes and it will pass. Don’t get caught up on the when or you might just miss out on the how.

Until then…the rest of us will be glad and willing to throw you a lifeline. Just grab hold and don’t let go because when the tide shifts my friend, it may just be us needing that lifeline.

Leah Parkin 

Jan 30, 2018



Giants Will Fall

2 Samuel 22: 2-4

“The Lord is my protector, He is my strong fortress. My God is my protection and with Him I am safe. He protects me like a shield, He defends me and keeps me safe. He is my Savior, He protects me and saves me from violence. I call to the Lord, and He saves me from my enemies. Praise the Lord!”

 

The above verse is actually David’s song to the Lord after having been to war and he and his men having killed many giants. Scary, intimidating giants. The fear they must have had is unimaginable. But look at how many times David calls the Lord his protector or says He provides protection. Several times, over and over. Isn’t it encouraging to know that along with the many other wonderful attributes of God, He always speaks right to our fear, sometimes the biggest giant we face of all.

 

We all know the story of David and Goliath, but it’s not often that we hear that David and his men defeated MANY giants. That’s encouraging to me and lays a very visual, spiritual tapestry for my own life because isn’t that how life can be? We typically find ourselves faced with giant after giant when we are going through season’s where God is working something out in us/through us. In the molding, pruning, sharpening process it’s encouraging to know, especially during our fasting time, that we too can bring down giants just like David did. We can also sing a song of praise to our Lord even as our giants stare us right in the face, before they are even defeated because we have confidence in our battle buddy, Christ, that they WILL be defeated. (Just as I write this, it brings to mind the song by Francesca Battistelli, Giants Fall. Take some time today and youtube it. Soak the words in.)

 

What happens though when we lose our confidence in our battle buddy and let fear slip in? Those giants get bigger right? They get scarier. I encourage you today, as you spend time with the Lord to imagine those giants falling before you as you step out in faith towards overcoming them. Whatever your giant/s may be today, remember that we are given the power of the Holy Spirit, He lives inside us, we don’t have to wait for Him to get there, He’s already there, so step out in your fear by stepping out in faith. Trust that, just like David said, He is your protector, He defends you and keeps you safe and will save you from your enemies. Praise the Lord!

Leah Parkin

January 5th, 2018



Where Does Our Faith Come From?

Romans 12:3 “And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you, do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking and judge yourself according to the amount of faith God has given you.”

 

There have been many times in my life where I have found myself wishing I had more faith to get through whatever it was I was going through. Romans 12:3 helps to reign that thought in as I’m reminded that God gifts each of us according to which He sees fit for us at just the right time. When I begin to think, “but it’s not enough, this is too hard, I need more”, then,  I’m also reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says “for my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Faith and grace, both gifted to us by our Heavenly Father, just the right amount for just the right time.

 

As I’ve grown in the Lord, so too has my faith, HIS faith in me. He is the provider and sustainer of my faith and my cup is only full when I am in Him, for when I am not in Him, my cup is empty. We do not create or grow our own faith and when we humbly remember that God is the giver and taker of all, we are kept in a spirit of humbleness that keeps us from boasting about the amount of faith we have that gets us through those difficult times, it immediately brings us back to Him as we look to the source from which our faith comes. When we are able to recognize, that in our weakness He is made strong, then we can live in the midst of those difficult moments with a trusting attitude, knowing He’s got us, knowing as we fold into Him, He rises over us as our strong shield and fortress. Everything about our walk, even the amount of faith He’s given us to get us through should always be used to glorify Him. Might we always know and remember where we come from, Whose we are and what we’ve been given, keeping us in an attitude of humbleness, graciousness and thankfulness.

 

“Thank you Heavenly Father for providing even a mustard seed size of faith, for which we know even with that we can move mountains. We take your Word as Truth for our daily lives, soaking it in, drinking it in and letting it absorb into the deepest of places within our spirit, soul, mind and heart knowing that as we consume your Word and truths we are growing the faith you’ve so graciously given to us to face whatever comes our way. Help us O’ God to keep a humble attitude and glorify only You for what’s been given to us. Amen.”

 

Leah Parkin

12-11-2017



To Conform, or Not To Conform

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God-what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.”

 

With continuing to focus on being a Roman’s 12 Christian, verse two has always been one of my favorite “life” verses. It’s what I cling to in seasons of secular struggle, which, because I’m human, is daily. When we call ourselves Christians and are actively striving to daily live out His word, we are most definitely going to be faced with opposition about many things that contradict our way of thinking, acting, believing. In that moment we have a choice. Do we conform to the pressures of society given that many times it’s just easier, less painful? Or, do we stand firm on that solid foundation knowing it may bring backlash? Where is the real worth and value? Is it in the less painful road or in the backlash because we stood firm? I bet you can answer that.

 

I’ve found for many years now, especially since I’ve been a parent, that when I seal this verse tightly to my heart I am more equipped to face the pressures to conform. There are so many things that we face in this area as a Christian family when practicing very different morals and values than those who do not have a moral compass guiding them.  I’m reminded that in Him I am set apart for purpose and reason beyond what any amount of conforming can fulfill. It’s harder for my kids to see this, but because it’s been a common, repetitive verse in our home, they understand. It doesn’t always make it easy, but Christ tells us it’s not going to be and when we are prepared with the knowledge that struggle is just part of life, somehow, it makes it easier. Not always, but there’s less surprise when we live in an expectant mode.

 

My mom used to tell me and my sisters when we were kids, “just blame your dad and I” whenever we would be at a friend’s house and be exposed to something we shouldn’t be watching. I fall back on that with my Heavenly Father too, it’s so much easier knowing that He’s got my back, He gives me an out every single time. When we live our lives accountable to the One who sees it all, then there’s purpose in our reactions to those uncomfortable situations.

 

In the eyes of the world, my firm stance in refusing to conform looks like rebellion and stubbornness but in the eyes of my Lord, it is obedience and protection. What our actions are telling God when we refuse to conform is that we trust You, we believe You, we want Your way. If we can just get past the immediate uncomfortableness of not giving in, then we walk into the blessing of pleasing Him. Just as the verse says, we will be able to know the will of God-what is good and is pleasing to Him. That should be enough! But boy oh boy, when we are fighting those fleshly desires, sometimes it’s hard to see clearly past the temptation of just wanting to do what everyone else is doing. We want our flesh to be comfortable in the moment so instead we pass up the opportunity to glorify Him. You don’t struggle with that battle alone friend. Of course it’s much easier to give in, that’s satan’s best tactic…the easier, broader path. It’s how he coaxes us to follow, enticing us with a detour around those difficult decisions, telling us lies that say if we just give in it is much more pleasing to our carnal minds/bodies. Thankfully though, Jesus didn’t detour struggle, He willingly took on the ultimate struggle because He believed whole heartedly that if we stand firm against the winds that want to blow us here and there that we will get to experience the blessing that comes from inward change. The application here though is actually being willing to let God do the transformation. It cannot come from us, on our own or it will never really be complete inward change because only He has the power to cause real, lasting change.

 

What will you refuse to give in to this week? What does it look like when you consider not conforming to the standards in your immediate world? Work, school, even home maybe. Will you draw a line in the sand and protect the sanctity of real change and the glorification of God our Father or will you go weak at the knees and fulfill your fleshy desires to just fit in? I promise you this…whatever it is that comes to mind while you are reading this, if it’s uncomfortable to even think about what the right thing to do is, then you already know what you should do. Choose Christ and His ways and send the devil packing decision by decision, choice by choice, struggle by struggle. Your action to stand firm will not go unseen by the ONLY One who matters anyway.

Blessings for a fruitful week,

Leah Parkin

November 27

th

, 2017


Romans 12

Have you ever heard the saying, “be a Romans 12 Christian”? I’ve heard the expression a lot lately and so have decided to study what it really means to be a Romans 12 Christian. Romans is one of my favorite books in the bible because it very clearly explains Christian conduct and well…I need that reminder a lot of times in my day to day activities. Whenever I’m faced with a situation that is uncomfortable or that I’m unsure of how to respond or when I’m feeling so pulled by my fleshly desires to be just that…flesh, instead of spirit. There are so many wonderful references in Paul’s letter to the church that I believe we all can lean on and use to anchor us in those swaying times. I would like to share what I’ve learned in  Romans 12 as part of the devotional for the next few months, verse by verse, in hopes to encourage you as we all walk this path together. Verse 1 perfectly aligns with Pastor George’s sermon yesterday, so I thought it fitting to start the week off on. God works and His works are ALWAYS good.

 

Romans 12:1

“So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer.”

 

When I read the phrase living sacrifice, I think continual, a symphony that never stops. It doesn’t say dead or dying sacrifice, it says living. As long as there is breath in my lungs and a beat in my heart, God calls me to offer my WHOLE life up as a sacrifice, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Just as Pastor George said yesterday, everything that we do, say, even chose to listen to, watch or allow into our minds/thoughts and let roll off of our tongues becomes either pleasing or displeasing to God. His pleasure should be our first concern. The life in us as Christ followers comes from and through Him so the aroma of our lives should naturally be sweet as we allow it to filter through His holiness. It should not be stale like death for He is not death. The only death within us should be of our old selves and when we are in Christ that stench does not linger, it is covered by His purity, making us as Him. There is no exhaustion in sacrificing in this continual way because we are connected to the Source, a constant. It is only when we are not connected that we begin to emanate an unpleasant aroma and become weary in well doing.

 

Lastly, so many times I find myself wasting energy on trying to be a people pleaser, because honestly, that is often what is immediately comfortable. If those around me are happy or “fixed” (my pride tells me I need to fix those nearest to me) then things will be much better. Yikes! Danger zone. The Christian life isn’t about being happy and fixed. Quite the contrary. The Christian life is instead about being blessed and free. Infact, it’s often after our acceptance of Christ that we are first broken down to rid ourselves of what is not acceptable to Him. The pruning begins and often times hurts. We may question ourselves, “what did we just do?” “Why is this happening?” But, in keeping perspective and focus on eternal things, society’s “fixed” lifestyle does not constitute Godly worship. What a difference those words blessed and free make as opposed to happy and fixed. Sure, happy is a wonderful benefit/side effect of living a blessed and free life in Christ, but if happy is just an outward expression and is not true inward joy than my efforts of people pleasing really haven’t done much at all have they? And here’s the kicker…I am not the one where true joy comes from. I am not anyone’s source of TRUE joy. So when I read this verse, the first thing that stuck out to me was to be dedicated to HIS service and pleasing to HIM. When I’ve freed myself to please HIM first, then all other pleasantries will follow suite, leaving an aroma for others to navigate towards, people pleasing simply becomes soul winning. When we enter a new day knowing that it’s not us, but HIM that sets the standard for our day then we find that everything out of that  is true worship, pleasing to Him and joyful for us.

 

Blessings,

Leah Parkin

Nov 6th, 2017