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Showing posts from July, 2009

Bikinis and Fig Leaves

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Christian men and women are having difficulty with the idea of modesty. The main reason for this is because many who attend church have adopted the popular patterns of culture; namely that it is acceptable for women to show their bodies in various fashions and if they do so, then it is permissible for men to look. In the midst of a long hot summer this problem becomes most apparent at the beach and the pool. Christian men and women have become immodest under the sun. Why is it important for women and men to cover up their bodies? The answer is sewn into the opening narrative of Scripture. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:7) And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21) After Adam and the woman sinned they realized they were naked. This sudden epiphany called for them to sew fig leaves together and make

Rocket Men

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Rocket Men by Craig Nelson, true to its subtitle is, “The epic story of the first men on the moon.” This is one of the most well written books, cover to cover, I have read in quite some time. With so much data and historical time line to communicate, Nelson could have easily turned an epic story into a wade through slow drying concrete as many historical writers are prone to do. In Rocket Men, Nelson has truly captured the epic nature of Apollo 11 and reflected the pure genre of history in communicating the event in a very human story. The book is a great documentation of the Apollo 11 mission. For those who enjoy techie Nelson provides a steady diet of stats and NASA acronyms. Yet the tech is not cumbersome nor detached. Nelson feeds the techie craving in such a way that it helps immerse even the novice tech reader into the moment. I now know who CAPCOM is and that try as I may, my Altima will never reach escape velocity. Nelson’s method of immersing the reader into the dist

God's Dreams are Ever Consistent with His Word (Guest Blogger: Jason Dollar)

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At my church I’m preaching a series of sermons through the Gospel of Matthew. I’d like to share a few thoughts from the latest message in that series from Matthew 1:18-25. Matthew 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which mean

Al Mohler on the Virgin Birth (Guest Blogger: Jason Dollar)

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The Christmas reality that Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb of a virgin is sometimes ignored by Christians, or explained away as a metaphor. But it shouldn’t be, since it is a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith that is absolutely essential to any system of thought that calls itself biblical or orthodox. Larry King once quipped that if he could interview anyone from history it would be Jesus, and that the first thing he would ask him was whether he was virgin-born or not. King said the answer to that question, “would define history for me” (RZIM, Winter 1998). King is correct. If Jesus was actually born of a virgin, then the implication is that the light of God has come into the world, in a seed form, but is now growing to a global blaze. History is God’s history, if he truly entered the world in flesh, through the medium of Mary’s womb. Theologian and culture analyzer, Dr. Al Mohler, has written an article concerning the importance of the virgin birth called, “Can a Chri

As A Former Fetus (Guest Blogger Jason Dollar)

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I like bumper stickers that can actually and accurately catch the essence of a major truth. Like the one I saw the other day: “As a former fetus, I oppose abortion.” Wow. This slogan deserves our applause. In 7 words it captures the essence of the pro-life movement and why there is such an outcry against the horrors of abortion in our country. Notice it does not say, “As a former egg,” or “As a former sperm.” Why not? Because neither the egg cell nor the sperm cell is a person, and so cannot be equal with an “I.” Egg cells and sperm cells, for example, only contain half of the chromosomes needed to make an “I.” So to destroy egg or sperm cells is not the same as destroying a person, since the genetic code necessary for personhood is not contained in either one. So when does a human being become a person (where person is more-or-less defined as an entity with the right to live)? Clearly, the line is drawn at conception, or very shortly thereafter (once the fusion of the 2 cells is c

Christian Seinfeld (Guest Blogger: Jason Dollar)

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Thanks to Brian for allowing me the pleasure of being guest blogger for a few days. Feel My Faith has been a major spot of web encouragement for quite some time, and I, for one, am happy to enjoy the thoughts of a hypochondriac pastor from the hills of Georgia. Have you ever just wondered how Brian’s mind works? How does he see so many of the strange things of life, and talk / write about them in a way that makes people double over in laughter? Here is one of my favorite examples of his humor mechanism: It was not many mornings later that I caught a Southwest jet to New Orleans. Their motto is, “You’ll like where you sit because you can sit where you like.” I’m not sure that is the Southwest Airlines marquee motto, but it is the last slogan you read on a well placed placard before boarding the plane. I think the idea works for the first 157 people on a 160 passenger plane. Being passenger 158 the slogan becomes, “Please be seated.” (From the blog “Cheerleaders and Nuns”) He’s like a

Church Etiquette 101

Thanks Joe Gunter!

Hospitality (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

Hospitality is loving a stranger as a good friend. There is nothing more strange than being a stranger. A close second is becoming friends with a stranger. Hospitality does not come natural, we must seek it and work at it. Without hospitality the American church will not survive. Unfortunately, to our dismay, the American church has accepted the cultural norm of “to each, his own.” If we do not stop simply praising God and then bolting to our cars as soon as the worship service ends we will not experience Christ fully. In order to experience Christ and God’s graces in the church we must be hospitable. Listen to audio

The Home as the Foundation for Church Etiquette (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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You may notice this week that the Sunday Audio is doubled. For the next couple of weeks I will be preaching a short series of sermons on church etiquette. Each Sunday I will present two short topics. This week’s sermons are on “The Home as the Foundation for Church Etiquette” and “Hospitality.” The church, as most public places, is a magnifying glass of attitudes, behaviors, and sins that go uncontested in the home. Our homes are like gates. They are either open or closed. Our home is either a guardian of that which is sacred and holy or it is a conduit for that which is chaotic. Listen to audio

Strange Love #3

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In the seven verses cited as references for the idea of hospitality (see Strange Love #’s 1 and 2) there is a sense of urgency. We should seek to show hospitality. We should not be hospitable when the opportunity presents itself, rather we should be intentionally, deliberately, proactively hospitable. Hospitality is strange love. It is loving strangers as if they are good friends. But what if you, like me, have aspects of strange about your personality? What if hospitality does not come easily? Never mind hospitality, what if any sort of social engagement is excruciating? I am open about the fact that it is difficult for me to meet new people. I work hard at being a people person because it does not come naturally. I have created an illusion for some, but there are others who see through the smoke and mirrors. It is not that I don’t like people, it is that I fear them. I fear what people think of me. This is why I tend to keep my conversations short; at least my fear and t

Strange Love # 2

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The word translated hospitality in the Bible is a word very familiar to the first century context ( read Strange Love # 1 ). It is also a word with vibrant meaning as it is the combination of two words which literally mean “friendly love (philo) for strangers (nexia).” Hospitality is strange love. Nothing feels stranger than being a stranger. Strangers might feel strange and people might feel strange about strangers. When things are so strange it makes hospitality a challenge. I like what the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says about this tension in hospitality: “Between the stranger and those around him there is reciprocal tension. He is a man from without, strange, hard to fathom, surprising, unsettling, sinister. But to the stranger his odd and different environment is also disturbing and threatening. There thus arises mutual fear, especially of the magical powers of what is foreign.”  [1] We all tend to congregate around the familiar. As a result we have forgotten

Strange Love # 1

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Seven times the New Testament mentions hospitality (Acts 28:7, Rom. 12:13, 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:10, Titus 1:8; Heb. 13:2, 1 Peter 4:9). On one occasion there is an example of hospitality (Acts 28:7), twice hospitality is mentioned as a necessary characteristic of church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:8), and on almost every other occasion the Bible implores the church to seek to show hospitality. While the word is used seven times the Bible never really elaborates on the concept. This being the case we could deduce two ideas about the word. One is that hospitality was so common to first century readers that a brief mention would be sufficient to convey the idea. Secondly, the word defines itself. It is the combination of two words that literally mean “love strangers.” Often in language when words are meshed together they give birth to other words vibrant in meaning (I will cover this idea tomorrow). Such is the case with the word hospitality. In the first century context Christianity was alway

My Personal Experience with Baptism

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There are some passages in the Bible that are strange. Near the top of the list is 1 Peter 3. Our mistake is that most often we only want to speak to the strange while ignoring the plain. My advice in reading Scripture is pay attention to the plain and your understanding of the strange may indeed come in time. In the midst of the strange 3rd chapter of 1 Peter is a plain teaching about baptism. Verse 21 reads, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This verse is meaningful to me simply because its truth is an integral part of my story. Around the age of eight I heard a stirring sermon about hell in an overheated church, in the midst of a mid-summer VBS in North Georgia. Young boys have vivid imaginations. Hell is an image certain to ignite young male minds. It was hot. I was scared. Apparently this plague of fear also gripped every other youn

The Meaning of Baptism (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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Who should be baptized? When should a person be baptized? How should a person be baptized? Why should a person be baptized? Hopefully this sermon will encourage those who need to be baptized to do so. For those who have been baptized since conversion perhaps this teaching will be a blessing to you and add to the meaning of that moment in your life. Listen to audio

Baptized Again?

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I have had many inquiries this week from people who are pondering whether they should be baptized again. The most common formula is someone who was baptized after a conversion type experience as a child, who did not fully comprehend the ramifications of the decision at the time, now as an adult and growing in Christ, has a desire to be baptized now that they are fully understanding of its significance. I would be someone, in some sense, to be included in this formula. I have been baptized twice, once as a child following a conversion experience and then again at the age of 19 after experiencing many doubts about the sincerity of my earlier decision. I will share that story this weekend in the sermon and will post it in writing Monday, Lord willing. For now I would say that baptism is a matter of conversion and conscience. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrecti

Why? (Sermon Audio: Wed. P.M.)

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Everyone has questions. Our foremost question is “why?” Atheism, agnosticism, and theism all provide answers to our questions. Are you satisfied with the answer your position provides? We cannot simply claim to be an atheist, agnostic, or a theist without thinking through and being honest about the answers. We must give reasons for our faith or lack thereof. In doing so we should be careful not to simply give reasons we “do not believe” in atheism, agnosticism, or theism, but rather give reasons why we do believe in whatever position we hold. In doing so we should also be able to articulate how our faith or non-faith impacts our lives, families, and our world. Listen to Audio

Books, Viola!

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I promised those who attended last night’s second session on Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism that I would have in hand some books I would recommend on the topic. I produced nada! So it is with utmost apology that I produce this list today. Some of these I have read, others I have read in part, one I just found. All of them I recommend because they make the case that at least theism, and most of them that Christianity, are reasonable positions to hold. Contend, a Survey of Christian Apologetics on a High School Level by Jason Dollar and Bradley Pinkerton. I know, I know, it says “on a high school level”, but let’s be honest for a moment. Most of us haven’t read a book since high school and furthermore, when it comes to this topic “a high school level” may be a good place to start. Thinking About God, First Steps in Philosophy by Gregory E. Ganssle. A Reasonable God: Engaging the New Face of Atheism by Gregory E. Ganssle. I don’t own this one “yet”, as a matter of fact

Sprinkle or Dunk?

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Baptism is commonly administered in one of three ways; immersion (totally submerging a person in water), pouring water over a person (Catholics refer to this as infusion), or by simply sprinkling water over a person. Which of the three are valid, or should we say more valid? Does it really matter? Is the mode of baptism irrelevant if a person is doing it for the right reasons? As a Baptist pastor I know more of the reasons for immersion than I do reasons for infusion or sprinkling. Sprinkling and pouring are not foreign concepts to Scripture or early Christian practice. It is true that in the early church pouring was used as a valid mode of baptism. However it seems that this mode was used only when “living water (running water such as in a river or stream) was not available.” [1] When running water was not available baptism would be administered by pouring water over a person three times, once in the name of the Father, the second time in the name of the Son, and the third t

Who Should be Baptized?

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The short answer to the question of “who should be baptized” is “believers.” The common expression in most protestant circles concerning baptism has always been “believer’s baptism.” However, like all commonly used terms, the more a term is used the more its meaning erodes. This is certainly the case with the term “believers.” Although it is hard to find a singular word to capture the truth on this matter we should say that those who should be baptized are people who have demonstrated repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and Savior. If it is true then that those who have demonstrated repentance from sin and faith in Jesus as Christ should be baptized we could also say at least two things in this regard: Babies and small children should not be baptized. Some Christian faiths practice infant baptism as a means to remove original sin from children. Those who practice infant baptism would hold that while a child cannot comprehend repentance and faith, bap

Eternity (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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When you think about eternity you cannot help but ask lots of questions. We ask questions about the nature of eternal people. Will we know one another in eternity? What will our bodies be like? We also ask questions about eternal places. What will heaven be like? What about hell? Will people suffer eternally or will they at some point simply cease to be? Listen to audio

Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism - The Burden of Proof

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What is an atheist, an agnostic, or a theist? More importantly, who has the burden of proof? Most people assume that they can claim to be an agnostic or an atheist and that should be the end of discussion. The assumption is that the theist has something to prove, that atheism or agnosticism is the “default” and protected position. This is not the case. If someone claims to be an atheist or an agnostic they too, just as the theist, should be able to explain why they believe as they do. Listen to Audio

Questions About Body and Heaven 2.0

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There have been lots of great questions in response to this week’s posts. Unfortunately they are scattered in between my inbox, comment links, and Facebook responses. I will try to gather them and answer them here, concisely in one post. Here are a few of the most notable ones. I will try to answer others a bit later. Is it O.K. for Christians to choose to be cremated? If one is cremated and ashes scattered will that person’s body be resurrected into a new spiritual body? This question is really one of physicality. It could also be stated, “What sort of physical shape does a person have to be in, in order to be resurrected?” The short answer is whether we are ash or dust we will be resurrected. A person can become either whether it be by fire or by burial. Also we must acknowledge that people can die horrible deaths in which the body is all but lost. Some people point to 1 Corinthians 15:35-55 as a reason you should not be cremated because the body must be “planted in the

Will I Still Be Married in Heaven?

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A common question concerning the resurrection and the eternal state has to do with marriage. In eternity will we be married to our current spouse? This question becomes even more cumbersome if a person has experienced multiple marriages (Matthew 22:23-28). Romans 7:3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 teach that a person is bound in marriage as long as they are alive. Once a spouse dies the marriage bond is broken. Given the fact that death is the vehicle of choice by which most of us will enter eternity, this means our marriages will effectively be over. When the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with the cumbersome multiple marriage/resurrection question Jesus answered that in the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage (Matthew 22:29,30). There will be two responses to this idea. Some will be saddened by this news (like my wife Shannon, right my love!). Others will be secretly relieved (careful)! Wherever you fall on this it is hard for us to conceive of life with relatio