Friday, September 21, 2012

But What If They Burn Our Embassy?

Periodically, things occur in this broken world that make us re-think our Christianity. Or at least how a Christian should respond to it! One of those things occurred recently when militant Muslims in Egypt and other places stormed our embassies killing Americans inside. When things like this occur, I receive sincere emails from friends and total strangers wondering if all Muslims are out to attack Americans and if I think the rapid growth of Islam or rise of militant Muslims is a sign of the end times?

Re:the first question I reply: "I do not know these militant Muslims. But I do know Imam Farooq at the Perrysburg Mosque (the big one next to I-75), Mohamed Elnahal our contact in the mosque next door to our church, and the books / podcasts / writings of Hamza Yusuf (Google him or listen in iTunes). These voices represent to me the vast majority of moderate, freedom loving, peaceful Muslims not the extremists in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt."

But what if they burn our embassy? Isn't that a sign of the end times? Jesus said in Matthew 24:8 that a bunch of bad stuff would increase in severity and frequency before Jesus comes again "like a woman in labor." And so in that sense, any escalation of violence and wickedness could be a sign of the times that can turn the hearts and minds of people to trust and depend on God. Or, like Pharoah, the same signs can harden our hearts as we cultivate anger and plot our revenge.

But we don't have to keep track of who is doing the most evil. Why? Because we will wear ourselves out! It's gonna get worse before it gets better. But also because focusing on Jesus is so much better! Even though the wisest among us only know "in part" (1 Corinthians 13:12), the parts we do know encourage us! Jesus promises to be with us to the very end of the earth (Matthew 28:20). And that God (not us) will judge those who shed the blood of His people (Revelation 16:6). Things aren't good right now in many places on earth. But one day, they will get better. Because the Gospel will go to the whole world (Matthew 24:14). And the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).

Free to Laugh?

The Daughter Project is a non-profit organization in Ohio which builds recovery homes - trafficking shelters for girls who have been rescued from sex traffickers. They are committed to the long-term holistic care of raped, beaten and drug addicted victims of human trafficking. Toledo is still #1 per capita in the United States and #4 overall. And that is no laughing matter.

So this year, Haven of Hope Toledo and Toledo First SDA Church is inviting you to join us on the campus of the University of Toledo in Nitschke Hall on OCT 20 @ 5pm and 8pm for a comedy fundraiser called Free to Laugh. Christian comics sharing family friendly content will provide a delightful evening of entertainment with 100% of the $20/ticket costs going directly to TDP.

We have the potential of telling 2,000 people about trafficking/TDP and raising $40,000 to help combat this heinous crime. However, we need to sellout 2,000 tickets to accomplish this. Would you please consider the following ways to help?
  • Buy your ticket today for the event in the church office, online or at a Lifeway or Family Christian bookstore
  • Encourage everyone you know to buy a ticket or buy a ticket for them
  • Ask your pastor/church/business to purchase a group of 20 or more tickets and then sell or give them away to people
  •  Consider giving a donation to sponsor this important event.  Any amount will help defray costs and ultimately increase the amount of money we raise for our girls
  • Toledo First SDA Church has purchased 50 tickets from Haven of Hope. Want one? It's yours for free if you volunteer to be a parking lot attendant / greeter / or usher. Contact me for more info: / 419.386.8918. We need at least 20 volunteers

Why Must We Know in Part?

Karl Barth said, "The angels laugh when they read my theology." Paul Tillich said, "Our theology needs to be justified by faith as much as our lives do." Ellen White, the founder of the Adventist church said, "We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed" (Ellen White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, 36-37).

Why would famous theologians and prolific writers say such things? Probably because they recall 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) which states, "Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."

But why must the wisest and brightest among us now only know in part? Dr. Fritz Guy helped me understand a few years ago in a pastors study group I still recall. He said modesty is our realistic appraisal of ability and accomplishment. And that at the bottom of the ladder of modesty is my PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE or what I know. An unbridgeable gap of knowledge above that is ACCESSIBLE KNOWLEDGE or what I could know in principle if I didn't have a job, life, kids and all I did was study all my life. Which isn't realistic since we all have to eat and sleep and live. Above that is another unbridgeable gap followed by ACTUAL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE or what I could know if I studied all things from the pyramids in Egypt to the Space Station up to now. An unbridgeable gap above that is POSSIBLE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE or what the human mind could in principle know under ideal conditions such as no sin and infinite time into the future. But even if a sinless human with infinite time could learn all personal, accessible, actual, and possible human knowledge available, there would still be one more unbridgeable gap to INFINITE KNOWLEDGE or what God knows. Anybody care to guess where all systematic theology and fundamental beliefs and political discussions are on this ladder? What are the implications? How winsome would Christianity be if all our conclusions about it were held dearly but loosely until a "fuller understanding of Bible truth is revealed" or we find "better language in which to express the teachings of God's Holy Word"? (I'm glad these words can be found in the preamble to the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe. I'm sad many don't realize this).



 POSSIBLE HUMAN KNOWLEDGE =what the human mind could in principle know under ideal conditions (no sin, infinite time)


ACTUAL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE=what all human beings know collectively at the present time


ACCESSIBLE KNOWLEDGE=what I could in principle know



Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Save the Drama?

I love the Skit Guys. Their latest covers how Jesus could cast out demons because He was fully God but simultaneously grieve and cry at Lazarus' tomb because He was fully human as well. Save 15 minutes to watch this vid. You'll be glad you did.

Is Age Something to Dread?

Did you know Noah was 600 when God asked him to warn the world about the coming flood (Genesis 7:6)? He died when he was 950 (Genesis 9:29), but 600 is still fossil like!

Sarah died when she was 127 (Genesis 23:1-2) but was 90 (Genesis 17:17) when Isaac was born. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5) and died at 175 (Genesis 25?7).

In Psalm 90:10, Moses says the average life span by then was 70 or 80 years, but God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt when Moses was 80 years old (Genesis 7:7)! At least he had some help from 83 year old Aaron (Genesis 7:7)!

After patiently waiting and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years even though it wasn't his fault, Caleb was 85 years old when when he finally stormed and settled the hill country of Canaan (Joshua 14:7-13). Joshua was 110 years old when he died (Joshua 24:29), but was 95 years old when he led the children of Israel across the Jordan River to finally conquer Jericho and begin 7 years of similar battles of conquest (Joshua 1-12) followed by 8 years of settling the land (Joshua 13-24).

The prophet Daniel was a teenager when he was human trafficked out of Jerusalem and into Babylon where he served King Nebuchadnezzar. But we forget that he was thrown into the lion's den when he was 80 some years old and still serving the next king and the next king of an entirely different country that took over Babylon making him one of the three most powerful rulers in the land while in his 80+s (Daniel 6:28)!

John the Baptist's dad Zacharaias was advanced in years (Luke 1:7). But he was young enough to still serve in the temple and miraculously become a parent with his old and previously barren wife Elizabeth (Luke 1:36).

Simeon was an elderly witness of the consolation of Israel. But he clearly saw Jesus as the Messiah they were waiting for (Luke 2:25-38). Another elderly witness of Jesus, Anna, was old but didn't act like it. She fasted and prayed day and night (Luke 2:25-38).

The apostle Paul called himself old in Philemon 9. But with poor eyesight in a hole of a prison cell in Rome, he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Colossians! Age is not something to dread. God has plans for all of us. Godly men and women adapt to God's plans. Isaiah 46:4 says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you." 104 year old Marge knows this is true. Click the vid above to hear her story.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What Oliver Eats?

Oliver Eudela was born in the Philippines but raised in the USA. Growing up he was fascinated with martial arts and used it as a way to exercise and stay in shape. But over the years he found it increasingly difficult to maintain a proper body weight through exercise and diet.

So recently, he changed his lifestyle. In addition to exercise, he moderated the food he put into his mouth. His goal? Learn and implement more plant based-dishes into his diet. He has been doing so for over 6 months and is still going strong. And wants to share what he is learning and eating with you. So this fall, carve out 90 minutes on Thursdays @ 7pm to taste and see What Oliver Eats at Toledo First Church. You'll leave spiritually encouraged, full of food and fast doable recipes and optimistic that you can do what he's doing too. You do not have to be a member of Toledo First Church to participate. (check the church website for the latest PDF to download with all the recipes so far)