“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Monday, December 17, 2012

The True Meaning of Christmas

God came down to earth and was incarnated,
Taking the form of those whom He had created.

He was born to save His people from their sin.
Through Adam, death had been imputed to all men.

In our sin, we did not acknowledge Him.
In our weakness, our eyes had become dim.

Away from righteousness, humanity ran.
God despised the works of man.

In His humility, He was made low
So that, to the mercy seat, His people may go.

He took my sin and shame.
Now, in the eyes of God, I am without blame.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Lament

How long, O Lord, will You allow Your people to be persecuted for Your Name's sake?

How long, O Lord, will You allow Your people to be victims of genocide and oppression?

How long, O Lord, will You continue to allow the mass murder of millions of babies each year?

How long, O Lord, will You allow the sacred bond of marriage to be continually distorted and broken?

How long, O Lord, will You allow Your Holy Name to be cursed and taken in vain?

How long, O Lord, will You allow the world to distort Your Word?

How long, O Lord, will You allow politicians and world leaders to hi-jack Your Name for their own selfish purposes and policies?

How long, O Lord, will You continue to allow evil in this world?

How long, O Lord, will You allow Satan to prowl around like a lion seeking its prey?

How long, O Lord, will You allow the world to worship false gods?

How long, O Lord, must I wait for Your return?

O Lord, come back swiftly!

Monday, August 27, 2012

If God is Good, Why Does He Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People?

“Trials, above all other things, have a tendency to distinguish between true religion and false.”—Jonathan Edwards

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? This is an age old question that continues to be asked to this day. Numerous books have been written on the issue. Multitudes of people have flocked to conferences regarding this question. If God is good, as He claims He is, then why does He allow bad things to happen to good people? Many who grapple with this question have lost a loved one in a horrific accident or to a dangerous illness. Some have responded by coming to the conclusion that there must not be a God. If so, why would he let horrible things happen to seemingly good and innocent people?
This past weekend, a college classmate of mine, Nolan Price, was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was only 21 years old. Why did God choose to allow this horrible accident to happen to one of His children?
In February, my father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He  was given less than five years to live. Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a degenerative muscle and nervous system disease. It is a very slow and painful way to die. Why would God allow this disease to happen to someone who has given the last 24 years of his life in service to Christ?
Why does a good God allow bad things to happen to good people? This is a question that is difficult for anyone to answer. The fact is, we really do not know the answer to this question. But we do have some clues by looking at scripture.
First of all, there is no one who is good. Romans 3:10-12 says:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
Therefore, to say that bad things happen to good people is truly false. We are all born sinners (Romans 3:23), and the penalty for that sin is death (Romans 6:23).
             However, while no one can do good deeds to merit eternal salvation, it is possible for sinners to do good things on this earth. It is possible for human beings to act selflessly for the greater good of mankind. It is possible for people to participate in charitable altruism. Through human eyes, these people are good and they do good things on earth. But there was only one good man to live on this earth and that was Jesus Christ, who never sinned.
Secondly, bad things happen to people, not necessarily because they are more evil than others. In Luke 13, Jesus mentions two tragedies that occurred during those times. The first tragedy was Pilate’s human sacrifice of the Galileans. The common assumption of the day was that God allowed this tragedy to happen because of the Galileans’ sin. Jesus rebukes this assumption by rhetorically asking, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus again mentions a horrific accident in which a tower in Siloam fell, killing 18 people. Jesus again asks the crowd, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus’ point is that these people were no less or greater sinners than anyone else. God, in His sovereignty, allowed these tragedies to occur. He urges the listeners to repent, or they too will perish, albeit eternally.
Bad things happen to people, not because they are living in sin. Yes, God does at times punish people based on specific sins. But we must not jump to the conclusion that certain natural disasters and other tragedies occur due to sin. If not for the grace of God, we too would perish.
So how should we as Christians respond to the fact that God allows bad things to happen to good people? Was it really a bad thing that Nolan Price, a follower of Christ, was suddenly whisked away to heaven in the blink of an eye? Is it really a bad thing that my dad has been diagnosed with a terminal illness? Romans 12:12 offers three responses to how we should handle horrible situations.
“Rejoice in hope” The future reality of living with Christ and enjoying Him forever should inspire us to respond in joy. Our God is alive. He is living in heaven as we speak. Let us rejoice in the future that He has given us through His death and resurrection; a future of eternity without sin, pain, and suffering. Rejoice in what the future holds. Show the world that death cannot conquer a Christian.
“Be patient in tribulation” As Christians, we will suffer. We are not immune to the suffering of this world, and actually, we will most likely suffer more in this world because we are believers. We should be patient during these times of trial. Remember the example of Job, who lost his family, his possessions, his wealth, and his health. Yet he still glorified the name of the Lord. The Lord has allowed His people to endure tribulation for the distinct purpose of bringing honor to His name through our praise of Him.
“Be constant in prayer.” Live your life as if Christ will return today. Be consistently in prayer. Prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord. Be in fervent prayer for the perseverance of other believers and for the salvation of sinners.
            Ultimately, we as Christians do not always have the answers regarding God’s purposes. However, we can rest assured in His sovereignty. He truly is a good and gracious God who loves His people unconditionally. May we constantly praise His name for His grace and mercy for saving us from our sin and bringing us into a proper relationship with Him.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Greatness of "I"

"For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”
--Isaiah 41:13
The Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, that it is He who guides us in the right and proper direction. Notice the regularity of the word "I" in this verse in referring to God. God is the creator of the universe. Regardless of what humanists teach, the universe actually does revolve around God. He is zealous for His own glory to be seen throughout the world. 

Lest we become confused who is in control of our lives, God makes it clear that He undoubtedly is sovereign over all the affairs of man. It is He who tells us that we have no need to fear when hardships come. It is He who helps us defeat the trials in our lives.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Rebirth of the Christian Athlete

Eric Liddell
Not since the 1924 Paris Olympics has Christianity taken the center stage in athletics. Back then, Eric Liddell, the Scottish missionary and runner, refused to run a 100-meter heat that was scheduled on Sunday, the day of worship for Christians. Liddell instead chose to run the 400-meter race. He ended up finishing first and broke the existing Olympic and world records. Liddell credited his win as God's will that he should not run the 100, but the 400.

Now, almost 90 years later, three Christian athletes from three different sports have made a splash in the past month regarding their faith.

Tim Tebow
The first, and most notable, Christian athlete to publicly speak out about his faith this year is Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow took over the Broncos in October after the team suffered a 2-5 start. Since he became the starting quarterback, Tebow led the Broncos to a 6-3 regular season record, earning the team's first trip to the playoffs since 2005, including a playoff win over the reigning AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tebow proved that he was a consistent winner, but he also became the butt of much criticism. Criticism regarding his passing statistics, and his inability to score in the first three quarters of games, seemed to be masked attempts at criticizing his faith in Christ. Even before he became an NFL player, Tebow, as a quarterback for the University of Florida, was vocal about his faith.
Given the fact that he is an unconventional quarterback, many draft analysts projected that Tebow would never pan out as an NFL player, despite the fact that he was a Heisman Trophy winner and had helped lead the Gators to two BCS National Championships. The Denver Broncos, regardless of these assessments, drafted Tebow with their first round pick in 2010.

Regarding his fame and popularity, Tebow said, in an interview with Christianity Today magazine, "When people look at me or look up to me, hopefully they see that it's not about me. It's having a relationship with Christ, and it's a lot bigger than me. And that's what I'm living for--it's not the money or the fame. It's having a relationship with Christ, impacting a lot of people and trying to help, encourage, and inspire people." Tebow views his career as a calling to further the name of Christ.

Josh Hamilton is another professional athlete who has been outspoken about his Christian faith. Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP, had been selected by Tampa Bay as the number one overall pick in 1999. But, due to his drug and alcohol addiction, Hamilton was banned from baseball. After making a profession of faith in Christ, Hamilton's life drastically changed. He turned from his addictions and was reinstated by MLB.
Josh Hamilton
During a game last summer, Hamilton, after catching the third out, threw the ball up into the stands. A fan reached out to grab the ball and fell to his death on the concrete below. Hamilton cited his Christian faith as helping him get through the guilt resulting in the death. Hamilton said, "This is life. There are tragedies, things that happen that you have no control over and you don't understand them. One of them is standing in front of your maker. Maybe I was a little more prepared to handle a situation like this. Still, it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt and affect you. It was just a random act of kindness that turned tragic" (USA Today 7/12/11).

Hamilton has made headlines recently due to a relapse with alcohol. He was seen on a couple of occasions in a bar with friends. Hamilton quickly apologized to the team, the media, and to his fans. He has said that he is receiving accountability and counseling. Hamilton said, "I'm taking steps to get rid of baggage and memories and things I've held onto my entire life that are causing me to act a certain way in my relationship at home with my wife and kids. They are holding me back. The last week and a half, I've looked at my kids differently. I've had more patience. I've wanted to be with them as much as possible" (espn.com 2/16/12). Even though Hamilton did not commit a crime, he realized that he had sinned before God, and that he needed to get more help before anything worse could happen.

The third highly publicized athlete who is unabashed about his Christian faith is the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin. After star forward Carmelo Anthony went down with an injury, unknown guard Jeremy Lin stepped in to take his place. Lin has scored over twenty points in almost every game in which he has appeared since Anthony's injury.Inspired by Tim Tebow, Lin lead the Knicks to seven straight wins before losing last night against New Orleans.

Jeremy Lin
When Lin's pastor, Stephen Chen, was asked how Lin is able to stay so humble despite his new fame and popularity, he said that Lin understands that he is a sinner. "He understands that he’s a sinner saved by grace. He knows that [because] he came to salvation. He [knows] that what he has is not his and that does keep him grounded. That is part of Christian character that he continues to work on", Chen said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Given Lin's background of rejection, it would seem that he should just laugh in the face of all those who rejected him. After receiving no scholarship offers in high school, Lin walked-on at Harvard University. After a very successful collegiate career, where he was a two-time All-Ivy League First Team selection, Lin was undrafted out of college. Lin signed with his hometown Golden State Warriors at the beginning of last season and appeared in only 29 games. Lin was waived on the first day of Warriors training camp at the start of this season; signed by the Rockets three days later; and then waived by the Rockets twelve days after that. The New York Knicks claimed Lin off of waivers to be a third string back-up guard. And that is when he got his chance to prove himself as a professional basketball player.

When asked by The Christian Post what he is thinking after becoming an NBA superstar, Lin replied, "I'm thinking about how I can trust God more. How can I surrender more? How can I bring him more glory?"
So how can three superstar professional athletes act so humble? Given the fame, popularity, and celebrity, how can these three men remain so positive, even after struggles in their personal lives and professional careers?

Because, just as Jeremy Lin said, they realize that the world does not revolve around them. They know that God has chosen them for a specific purpose: to glorify Him through the mode of professional sports. They also realize that God can choose to bring them down, just as He has chosen to raise them up. That is how these men can remain so humble. And so, with this kind of worldview, the Christian athlete is reborn.

Eric Liddell would be proud.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Book Review of "John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology"

To many people, the name of John Calvin brings forth negative connotations. Some view Calvin as the cold-hearted man behind the theological belief system that bears his name. Others even percieve the doctrines of Calvinism to be dangerous, both spiritually and emotionally. The majority of people who espouse these negative views of Calvin are either ignorant, or seek to slander the name of a man who, according to the authors of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, was a humble servant of God. Most people do not understand the positive effects that Calvin and his writings have had on the world. D.G. Hart, a contributer to the book states, "Calvinism played a crucial role in transforming the West and creating the modern world" (p.52).

The book contains 19 chapters, each written by a leading Reformed thinker. Contributers include Sinclair B. Ferguson, Keith A. Mathison, Michael Horton, and John MacArthur. Each chapter revolves around one aspect of Calvin's minstry and life, including his heart for God, his ability to preach God's Word, and his doctrinal beliefs. The book is edited togather by Burk Parsons, editor of Tabletalk devotional magazine by Ligonier Ministries.

The book promises to be an excellent resource for those who seek to learn more from this man of God. It also helps to quell some of the ignorance regarding his life and doctrines.

  • Hardcover: 246 pages

  • Publisher: Reformation Trust Publishing (November 28, 2008)

  • Price: $19