Thursday, February 26, 2009

Theology is not a bad word...

Theology remains something of a bad word in Christian circles. I believe that the success of a book like The Shack has proven this to us yet again. Many people seem eager to embrace some form of Christian spirituality but have little desire or love for theology. It is associated with fundamentalism and with cold conservatism. We need only look at the meaning of the word, though, to conclude that God requires all Christians to be theologians.

The word theology is derived from two Greek words. The root “theos” means God and the suffix “-ology” comes from the Greek word for speak. So what theology really means is “speaking of God” or as has become the more accurate definition, “the study of God.” That not offensive, is it? If you are a Christian, I suspect that it sounds exciting. If you love God and if you are loved by God, you will want to know him. I don’t think any Christian can deny that we are called by God to learn more about him and to study his ways. The process of sanctification is just that—learning more and more about God and his requirements for our lives. Our lifelong challenge is to mold our lives to fit into that image.

If a Christian is diligent in studying God through the right motives and methods and for the right reasons, there will necessarily be change in his life. He cannot help but be changed by the living Word of God. However, if someone studies God only to acquire knowledge about him without applying any of that knowledge to his life, he is not so much studying God as he is studying the study of God. The study of God when done as he has commanded must always lead to application, heart change and then life change.

There seems to be a fine line here. The line is not found in what we study as much as it is the motives behind the study and the result we expect to achieve. For example, 1 Corinthians 11 speaks about the necessity of women wearing head coverings while in church. I can look at that section of the Bible in two different ways. I can go in with a motive of wanting to show that women are being disobedient and sin if they do not wear head coverings in church. I can begin this study with the intent to prove to my wife that she needs to wear a head covering next Sunday. On the other hand, I can turn to this section with a motive of wanting to understand what God is trying to teach us in this passage. I can seek to understand the principles the Bible is teaching and how those relate to people today. I can begin my study with the intent to learn something that I can humbly and prayerfully apply to my life. This is an extreme or simplistic example perhaps, but it displays the difference between wanting to acquire knowledge of God through proper or improper methods and for right or wrong intentions. It also shows how all scripture must be taken within context. Context is king as John MacArthur always says when studying the Bible. Too many people today take scripture out of context to make it say what they want it to say. Oh, and just to note back on the 1 Corinthians 11 example, a study of the culture at that time reveals a woman's covered head while worshiping was a symbol to signify a right relationship with her husband, in subordination, and that all was well. Paul is not laying down an absolute law for women to wear veils or coverings in all churches for all time, but that the male and female roles are to be honored in every culture.

I love theology. I love studying God and continually learning about him and about what he has done. I have to admit many times in my life I have learned about God simply so I could have more knowledge about him, never intending to change myself in response to what I have learned. There have been times where I have studied God just so I could convince others of their need to change. It is my prayer that whenever I study God I do so with proper motives and with a humble attitude, preparing myself to be changed by what I learn about him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Biblical Ignorance

"Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: 'Americans revere the Bible--but, by and large, they don't read it. And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.' How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it's worse than most could imagine.

Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments.

According to 82 percent of Americans, 'God helps those who help themselves,' is a Bible verse. Those identified as born-again Christians did better--by one percent. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one's family.

A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble."

We may chuckle at a few of these statistics, but in reality this is very sad. Many people who call themselves Christians never pick up their Bible to read it. Can I argue that you really can't be a "true" Christian and not care about God's Word?

I even blame many of our modern day churches for this problem as so many of them never ask us to open our Bible during a worship service. We're growing an evangelical group of Biblical illiterates. One of the marks of true saving faith in a Christian is his or her love for the Word of God. Not only hearing it, but being a doer of it as well. James 1: 22 God's Word has stood the test of time and scrutiny and every King that has tried to do away with it has failed. God has preserved it throughout history for a reason. It's His attempt to communicate to a fallen world.

If we are truly saved by God's grace, let us encourage one another to read what God has revealed to us about himself. This is the only way we can know that we are worshiping the true and living God, and not just one made up in our heads.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What could I buy with a Trillion Dollars??

Trying to wrap my mind around what I could buy with a trillion dollars, I found some interesting figures showing what you could get with a trillion dollars. Some examples:

If you stack up $1,000 bills, $1 trillion would need a pile that is 80 miles high.

$ 1 trillion is more than the combined gross revenues of Wal Mart, Exxon, General Motors and Ford Motors.

Assuming the United States consumes about 17 billion barrels of oil a year and assuming the cost of a barrel of oil is about $65, a trillion dollars will buy an entire year's worth of oil for the USA.

You could buy a thousand Queen Mary 2 with accommodations for 2,620 passengers

With a population of approximately 300 million people, you could give away $1 trillion by giving every man, woman and child in the U.S. $ 3,400 each. Is this the debt that each American is going into now?

We could buy everyone on Earth an iPod. Whohoo!

We could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with 23.5-karat gold leaf.

We could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses

We could hire 1.9 million additional teachers.

I'm not going to advertise the website, but I found another site that helps you buy luxury and charitable items trying to add up to a trillion dollars. Here's their list of items one could buy totaling one trillion dollars: Crazy...
8,700 Porsche 911 Turbos ($126,000 each): $1,097,940,000
New York Yankees: $1,200,000,000
New York Mets: $482,000,000
Every NFL Franchise: $8,600,000,000
Dracula's Romanian castle: $140,000,000
1,000 60SE Lear jets ($11,595,000 each): $11,595,000,000
Denver International Airport: $4,822,000,000
10 Picasso's (113,400,000 each): $1,134,000,000
Hard Rock Casino in Vegas: $770,000,000
Hong Kong Disneyland: $3,500,000,000
South Pacific Island of Katafanga: $38,900,000
Buy the whole world 100 cans of Coke: $650,000,000,000
Buy 50 Super bowl ads ($2,600,000 each): $130,000,000
Build 1,001 Habitat for Humanity houses (at $60,000 each): $600,060,000
Build 2,000 miles of Metro rail ($150,000,000 per a mile of track): $300,000,000,000
Build 250 hospitals in Third World nations ($41,300,000 each): $10,325,000,000
Produce your own Hollywood movie: $150,000,000
Buy the Maltese Falcon, the world's most expensive yacht: $100,000,000
Buy 2 Napa Valley wineries ($34,000,000 each): $68,000,000
Buy 26 McDonalds' franchises ($1,000,000 each): $26,000,000
Total: $1,000,000,000,000

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bahama's Trip

I was very blessed last week to have won a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas through my work. I certainly didn't expect this, but must admit January is one fine month to be spending a little time on the Islands below Florida. I put a few pictures up on Facebook, but for friends who aren't on there I've posted a few here.

Obviously we had a great time. I actually had a couple of meetings with work while there in the mornings, and a rewards dinner one night. But no complaints, the rest of the time was ours.

Atlantis is quite simply amazing. There must have been 10 swimming pools to hang out at and Lynn and I found the most secluded one. There were two man made rivers to float around on in tubes. One was very lazy and peaceful, the other had some rapids and waves pushing you along. There were also several water slides, a couple which went through a shark tank. We got to see a pretty cool Dolphin show one afternoon, and spent quite a bit time just relaxing too.

Of course we ate. Who wouldn't. Everything was paid for. I couldn't help to think how nice it is to work for a company that recognized achievements and rewards hard work. I certainly don't deserve this type of treatment. But Lynn does, so that makes it worth it, right? :-) I realize this may never happen again, so I was sure to enjoy it.

Last, there was a great Aquarium there that Lynn and I spent touring every evening. It had two large manta rays with wing spans of 7-8 feet! These were huge and graceful rays that looked intimidating but also appeared harmless at the same time. We also saw plenty of sharks, hammerheads, and just regular sharks. Jellyfish, eels, and crabs were everywhere as well. Well done Aquarium that was made to look like the lost city of Atlantis.

There simply is no guessing how much it must cost to maintain this resort. But not to fear, they get it back with the cost of everything there. Breakfast was typically around $30, that's with sharing! Lunch was always around $50. And of course dinner was usually $100. We were given an allowance, but you can see how that would go quickly. I do not see how a family of four could spend a week there with the cost of everything, rooms going for $500-700 a night. So, it was our goal to enjoy it. Chances are we'll never be back, not if we're paying...