Keeping the Faith – A Wrap Up

Apologetics, Thoughts
For the past several months, we have been addressing the issues raised in Dr. Ruth Tucker's book, Walking Away from Faith.  We started out by emphasizing the importance of love and humility in how we respond to our young people's doubts and questions as they stand on the brink of leaving the faith.  And we explored these five broad reasons folks identify for walking away from faith: Scientific and philosophical issues, particularly evolution and naturalism. Biblical perplexities and higher criticism. Disappointment with God regarding personal and wide-scale suffering. Hypocrisy and lack of caring among leaders in the church. Lifestyle and perspective, including homosexuality, feminism, secularism, and pluralism. We worked our way through this list looking at biblical answers to these faith challenges, and at the risk of overly simplifying the answers, let me…
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Love Lifts the Burden

Love is ..., Thoughts
Another challenge we all face in the area of lifestyle is the high standard of Jesus' call to discipleship.  When we reduce that standard to a list of rules to keep and the burden to keep the rules becomes too great, there is a temptation to give up on the Christian life.  But under the New Covenant, rule-keeping by will power has been replaced by an unfolding of our new nature as we more and more yield to the new influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  A way to think about getting out from under the burden of rule-keeping is this. Have you ever heard someone say about their job, "It doesn't really feel like work, because I am doing what I love?"  It does happen.  And it happens in…
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Celebrate the Heartbeat

Thoughts
My father and grandfather both passed away due to heart attacks.  I recognize the likelihood of a genetic predisposition to heart disease.  I trust that my diet choices and heart healthy understanding have improved from previous generations but I do not trust in these things; I trust in the Lord, aware of the fact that none of us have any longevity guarantees.  What I do know is that I celebrate every heartbeat.  I celebrate every moment.  I celebrate every small victory and movement forward in my marriage, my children, my friendships, and my walk with the Lord. Our daughter, Bethany, is an RN at a local hospital.  She also volunteers at a pregnancy center performing ultrasound evaluations for the newly pregnant clients who come to the center.  She told me…
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Pluralism

Thoughts
One of the obstacles young people face in fully embracing the Christian message is the struggle with pluralism.  That is, what about all these other faiths?  Can they all be wrong?  The exclusiveness of the Christian message borders on intellectual arrogance in their mind. I would approach this objection from two angles.  First, understand and be able to explain that Christianity does not have a corner on common grace, God's general revelation to man.  The golden rule, honoring one's parents, and caring for the poor are not exclusive to Christian teaching.  With an attitude of humility, we must recognize and celebrate God's truth that is revealed in a variety of belief systems.  We can agree with unbelievers in their goal of strengthening their marriage and loving their children.  By virtue…
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Headship with a Heart

Thoughts
As we think about these lifestyle issues, one of the challenges faced by both unbelievers and doubting Christians is the caricature of the biblical standards on these issues that is called "Christianity."  Our culture's confusion about feminism is a good example. The caricature is a concept of male headship that is colored by the abusive patriarchal model of many cults, domineering husbands and fathers operating under a misunderstood biblical mandate, and a vague notion of what the term "submission" implies.  Attaching the Christian label to the abuse of male headship has thinking people running for the exits, and I don't blame them.  But the concept they are rejecting is not the biblical teaching but a cheap imitation. The biblical concept of male headship is covered many places in Scripture, and…
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The Handwriting on the Wall

Thoughts
When we embrace the gospel message of Jesus Christ we become saints, sanctified ones, "set apart for God's holy use or purpose."  How does God view that which He has sanctified, but not being used for its holy purpose?  Let's get a snapshot look in Daniel chapter 5. "Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.  When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, in order that the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.  Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of…
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One Tiny Example

Thoughts
It is easy to talk about the worldliness of our popular entertainment options with a broad brush, attacking the most offensive elements.  But when I label the world's approach - advertised as enlightened, but actually profane - I am referring to many subtle messages as well.  Let me give you a tiny example. When Rhonda was in France for nearly a month helping Annie and her family celebrate the birth of their son, I spent most of my time catching up in my work as a consulting geophysicist or writing.  By the end of the time, I was growing quite weary of a computer screen.  So I switched to the TV screen in my down time.  After watching just so many reruns of ESPN Sportscenter, I turned to the primetime offerings…
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Engaging the Culture

Thoughts
Several times in his letters to Timothy, the apostle Paul warns his young protégé to avoid "worldliness" (Greek word bebēlos, translated "profane" in the King James Bible).  Worldly or profane is such an apt description of our culture's view on these lifestyle issues and nowhere does it come through more clearly than in the entertainment industry. Most of what is being delivered to us today as entertainment is best described as profane.  It cheapens and demeans the sacred, replacing it with the profane.  Gratuitous sex, graphic violence, and blasphemous language in music and movies takes the sacred - the beauty of sex within marriage, life created in God's image, and calling on the name of the one true God in times of trouble - and cheapens them for thrills, drama,…
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Holy Temples

Analogies, Thoughts
In the area of lifestyle issues, we must teach our children - and understand ourselves - the important distinction between the sacred and the profane, between the holy and the carnal, between godliness and worldliness.  By virtue of our relationship (children of God) and affinity (moral resemblance) to God, we now inhabit the world of the sacred, the holy, the godly.  Not because we keep a certain list of do's and dont's, but because God has placed us there by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Look at these New Testament labels for believers.  "As those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved..." (Col 3:12), or "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." (I Pet 2:9).  Over and over, the apostle…
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