Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Sing A Little Louder

I have so much to be thankful for this week; work, family, friends, no major health issues, church.   I know that's not the same for everyone, and that struggles are ahead for all of us.  I imagine one of the toughest battles to fight would be the serious illness or death of a child.  That's what Joel and Janie Taylor faced when their son, Jaxon, was rushed to the hospital with a life-threatening infection.   Their church rallied around them in prayer, and thankfully, this time, Jaxon made a full recovery.  This song was born during the ordeal.  I know that every situation doesn't have this happy ending, but I am quite sure that the only thing that could get me through would be the power of God and his family watching over me.  I am thankful for that.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Absolutely Wrong

Last week, I wrote about moral relativism - the idea that each person decides what is right and wrong for themselves.  Christians believe that there are moral absolutes that have been established and rooted in us by our Creator.  Regrettably, some Christians have taken it upon themselves to attempt to force what they believe on others.  I can't help but think of the guy with the megaphone outside Sanford Stadium, shouting at people in the crowd he doesn't know, and telling them that they are going to Hell.  While his intentions could be good, I don't think that the approach is what Jesus had in mind.  Of course, we can all name historical examples of Christians oppressing others, some more subversive, and some much more heinous, than the guy on the bridge. I believe our obligation is to discover and live the Truth to the best of our ability, and if that creates an opportunity for me to tell someone else, I should do that with confidence and passion.  That's how God decided to do it.  He could have easily created a world where everything in it was forced to bow before him, but instead, He sent his own Son to show us the Way, allowed Him to die a gruesome death, and gave us the chance to either follow him, or not.  (I credit Tim Keller's "Making Sense of God" for helping me frame my thoughts this week and last week.)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Relatively speaking

It is estimated that 30% of young adults would describe themselves as moral relativists.  Moral relativism is the idea that each person decides for themselves what is right or wrong.  That decision is based on the current circumstances and is often influenced by the culture that the person is a part of.  It is certainly true that some practices are accepted in one culture and forbidden another.  Women going topless is accepted in some African cultures, but wouldn't be accepted in our western culture.  In fact, it would be illegal in ours (public indecency).  Laws help define right and wrong as defined by each individual culture.  But there are some things that all people of sound mind would agree to be true.  Things like cheating, lying, murder, rape and child abuse are never ok.  That makes them absolutes in my mind.   So if there are things inside of us that are the same for everyone, and weren't determined by our culture, where did those things come from?  My best explanation is that it came from my Creator, and while I fall short every day, I want to do my best to discover and follow what He has designed me to be.   For more thoughts on moral relativism, see what Noam Chomsky has to say here.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Crowds gather in JAX

67,000 people gathered in Jacksonville, FL last Saturday for the border battle between the Universities of Georgia and Florida, but on Sunday morning there was another large gathering at Bethel Church in that same city.  Bethel is one of the largest churches in FL with over 12,000 attendees each Sunday morning.  I was interested in getting some history on the church and found this background information on its founder, James McDonald:

James McDonald is the founder of Bethel Church in Jacksonville, FL.  James was born in Ireland and was trained to be a Catholic Priest, but moved to the United States when he was 31 years old and enlisted in the Armed Services.  At the age of 38, he saw an article in the Christian Index reporting a low number of new church starts in the central FL area and answered the call to move to that area to plant a church.  At the first church service, there were 6 attendees, 4 white and 2 black.  The 2 black attendees were owned by one of the white attendees.  James had some experience with injustice.  Before fleeing Ireland, James witnessed the lynching of his father along with 14 of his relatives for their participation in the Irish Rebellion.  The year was 1805.
James is obviously no longer with us, but I am delighted to see that something he started almost 200 years ago is still thriving.   Maybe one day, there will be 67,000 people in attendance there.