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Archive for November, 2016

The Culture War Around Us (Part 3)

By Alan Hutchins

As we continue in this series of articles concerning the Evolution vs. Creation debate, it becomes clear once again how important this issue is as Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson has been criticized and mocked in the news recently for believing in divine creation and not accepting that macroevolution is a proven scientific fact.  In fact, many on the other side of this debate seem amazed that a man of science would not believe in macroevolution, which they portray as proven scientific fact.  They actually seem willfully ignorant of the fact that there are scientists from every field of science who believe that the evidence in nature actually supports the account in Genesis and does not contradict it.

It is not surprising that people who believe in macroevolution would object to the premise that “science is not able to prove or disprove either side of the evolution vs. creation debate.”  This is because people often fail to realize the distinction between what might be called “operational” or “observational” science and what is “historical science.”  Even when discussing the issue with someone who is very knowledgeable on the issues at hand, they might still believe that macroevolution has been and can be scientifically proven.  They should know, however, the difference between proving something by using the scientific method of controlled and repeatable testing and that of observing the evidence of past events and making educated assumptions about the cause of that evidence.

Operational or Observational Science is the part of science that can be tested using the “scientific method” of controlled, repeatable and verifiable experiments that allow the scientist to “state, test and then accept or reject the hypothesis.”  This is sometimes also referred to as “hard science” because it allows one to make hard and fast conclusions through rigorous scientific testing.  This is much different than “historical science” where it is impossible to prove something scientifically because you are dealing with a historical event that had unknown variables and conditions that prevent the type of controlled and verifiable experiments needed to prove what happened scientifically.  This type of science is sometimes considered “soft science” because the results are based on the interpretation of historical evidence and not rigorously controlled and verifiable experiments.

As with any historical event, the presuppositions that one holds will likely strongly influence how they interpret the evidence after the fact.  This happens not only in the creation and evolution debate but was also evident during recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.  While many including the Grand Jury saw the evidence of a justifiable shooting, others looked at the same evidence and saw the murder of an innocent man.  The evidence was the same, yet the interpretation of that evidence was diametrically different.  This is why a Christian scientist can look at the same evidence that a secular scientist does, and one will see evidence of the Biblical account of creation while the other sees evidence for macroevolution. The evidence is the same, but the presuppositions/worldview that each interpret the evidence through are vastly different.

Because our presuppositions/worldview so heavily influence how we view not only this issue but other cultural and theological issues as well, we must be careful to make sure that we have a solid biblical worldview and that we carefully examine our beliefs in light of the clear teaching of Scripture.

In regards to evolution some of the basic presuppositions (whether they realize it or not) that form the basis of the evolutionist’s worldview are:

  • Uniformitarianism—or uniformity theory. This presupposition assumes that geological, meteorological and other physical processes that are observable today have remained constant throughout the earth’s history.  This is one of the primary presuppositions evolution is based on.
  • Naturalism—This presupposition assumes that the origin of the universe and the beginning of life on earth can be explained by purely natural causes with no need for a divine creator or an all-powerful God.
  • That order can come from disorder and that random mutations to DNA, when given enough time, can result in new complex information and systems being randomly developed
  • that living organisms have the ability to evolve from simple to more complex over long periods of time

In next month’s article, we will begin to look at some of these basic presuppositions that are key to the evolutionary worldview and how those unprovable assumptions make evolutionist’s interpretation of the historical evidence very weak when properly understood.

Alan Hutchins is a trustee at FCC.

Posted in: Apologetics

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I Am Not Myself

By Logan Evans

 

I’m not myself lately.

No. That’s the problem.

I am myself.

My nature is exposed sans-gospel the less I am being filled with truth.

I am myself.

All the common traits of my strife and woe lies in how they might affect and impact me.

Not the Church.

Not dear friends.

Not close confidantes.

Not anyone.

Not God.

I am a god unto myself:

I seek my praise and glorify my name and long for all to know me and love me;

I serve myself, for who better to receive it?

And I am unto myself a god of destruction, for these things I seek and desire for myself will be my end.

Who among the sin-ridden could withstand the adoration of the multitudes and not be obliterated by the weight of it all?

And even now I praise myself for how well I construct this image built by words and wonder at my eloquence and dare David or Augustine to put their mortal curse of narcissism in a more profound way. I am bloated with pride and feel confident that my words are surely worthy of marvel

but

when “I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

This from Paul, a man of high education and privilege of superior training, who, ironically, proved in scripture his capacity for demonstrating high rhetoric and wielding words pulled from a vast artillery.

Yet, he decided that the gospel alone and people being unified in and by the gospel alone was more important than the praise and wonder he could gain from eloquent speech.

And I am a fool.

Towards what end am I working in my eloquence?

Jesus Christ will last long beyond me.

I am insecure and fragile enough to need (or convince myself I need) to be oh-so-well-spoken and well-written for the sake of honor and praise, for without it I would surely diminish and decay.

Not so.

Seeking glory for myself is my undoing. It will end me. I have not the capacity in this depraved and earthly state to rightly handle praise. I cannot handle it and do not deserve it.

Perfection deserves praise.

Perfect, whole beauty.

Too much of a good thing will kill that which is not wholly good.

God is good.

And perfect

and holy in every way

and possesses no sin,

houses no evil.

He is the One and Only capable of handling an eternity of praise.

God is good.

God exists as good.

No one is good except God.

He is the chief Good.

If I am good or am recognized for good, that is God in me. I cannot achieve good without God, not completely. God exists before and after and beyond all else.

No one and nothing is good except God.

To have anything else as the mode and motive of good in my life is foolish.

So, if I am to adhere to the idea of God as chiefly and completely Good and solely deserving, then the implications are extraordinary.

If God is the chief good in my life then

I obey His commands

I love Him

I love others as myself

I love others more than myself

I operate in a manner which correlates with the good of God

I work hard and well using the opportunities and skills and gifts and abilities my good God has given me

I bring attention to Him and His Goodness through my own wonder of His Goodness and do not use the good He has shared with me for my own benefit, but rather use it to demonstrate the Good of God.

I have not good of myself, but only what I have from God.

He is Good and not I.

He is God and not I.

 

Logan Evans is a  member of FCC.

Posted in: Poetry

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Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings

By Julie Ganshowfeelings-nothing-more-than-feelings

In the 1970’s there was a very sappy song entitled “Feelings” sung by some sappy guy who moaned his way through his song while he was trying to forget his feelings of love.

In this article we are going to take a brief look at feelings and emotions and where they come from.  Our society has become almost completely feeling oriented and I think this is very bad. The students in our counseling classes have heard me say that it seems that we have lost the ability to think, and reason.

It is rare to find someone who is willing to risk sticking their neck out for a belief or a thought.  Feelings apparently exist on sacred ground for few dare to challenge how a person feels.

Feelings and emotions are the physical expressions of our thought life.  They are the body’s response to thoughts that either please or displease us. The reality is, we experience billions of thoughts each day, and often our thoughts provoke emotional responses that relate to what we call happiness, hope, well-being or sorrow, despair, fear, or anger.

Feelings and emotions are chemical reactions in the body brought on by thoughts in the inner man which the Bible calls the heart. The heart is the “control center” of each person, and Scripture has a lot to say about this critical part of us. (If you check out Scripture you will find over 500 references to the heart!) Generally speaking, our feelings reveal our hearts to us. This is an important point, for if you want to correct unhappy or bad feelings; you have to go for the heart and deal with the issues that lead you to feel bad or unhappy.

Asking questions is a huge aid in revealing the motives of the heart; answers to questions help to reveal why a person is feeling the way they do. Be aware that when you experience feelings particularly strong or problematic you must do some self-examination and determine what the cause is.

For example, if a person who is frequently sinfully angry could be asked some specific questions such as:

  • What do you want that you are not getting?
  • What are you getting that you don’t want?
  • What perceived right is being violated?

You see, your emotions reveal your heart, which is the storehouse of your faith and all that your faith is comprised of. Emotions also reveal your faith, and the voracity of your core beliefs.

Do you want to know what you believe? Try this quick little exercise;  take a few minutes to think about the emotion you tend to experience or struggle with most often (anger, sorrow, self-pity, fear, anxiety, joy, contentment) ; then spent some time asking yourself what this emotion tells you what you believe about:

  • God
  • You
  • Your place in this world
  • His plan for your life
  • What is really important

An exercise such as this one can go a long way to helping a person see aspects of their heart that they had not recognized before! Once a person knows what is going on in their thoughts (heart) they can apply correct theology to their wrong thinking.

This is really just scratching the surface of this very important subject!

I always encourage a person to seek wise counsel and accountability when heart change is needed or desired. Find someone who will help you to pin down the sinful attitudes of the heart and look at them biblically. They should also be able to help you to apply God’s Word to your life and walk with you as you ask the Lord to help you to understand what you are doing, and how you can overcome sinful responses.

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We focus heavily in our counseling ministry on renewing the mind because that is where true and lasting change takes place. The word of God is the only tool we have to affect this kind of change.

The Spirit of God and the Word of God applied to the heart of a person; applied to their thoughts, beliefs and desires of the heart will help get problematic emotions in submission to the Holy Spirit.

 

Julie is a certified Biblical Counselor and the head of Reigning Grace Counseling Center.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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“Let the Nations Be Glad” A Hymn Meditation based on Psalm 67

By Matthew Swain

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.” – John Piper

Let the Nations Be Glad

Let the glory of the Lord forever be our joylet-the-nations-be-glad
May redemption be the theme of our song
For by grace we have been saved
And by grace we shall proclaim
To the corners of the earth that Christ has come

Let the nations be glad
Let the peoples rejoice
For salvation belongs to our God
Let the whole earth be filled
With the praises of the Lord
For salvation belongs to our God
Let the nations be glad

Through the ages gone before
Through the trial and the sword
Many saints and martyrs conquered, though they died
Still we’re holding out the cross
Crossing oceans, suffering loss
Shall endure all things to win the crown of life

As Your holy church goes forth
In the Holy Spirit’s power
With the glories of the gospel to explain
Now we pray Your kingdom come
And we pray Your will be done
For the honor and the glory of Your name

Matt Boswell | Aaron Boswell | Matt Papa
© 2010 Dayspring Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

Faith Community Church recently had the privilege of sending some of her very own to the mission field.  In so doing, Christ’s command that we “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 29:19) has been fulfilled in part.  Our “farewells” have wrought tears mingled with joy and sorrow as we, for the moment, have come to grips with the sober reality of the sacrifice required in taking the Gospel to the nations.

While scripture can never be supplanted, songs rooted therein can help inform our theological understanding on such matters. Let the Nations Be Glad, a hymn roughly based on Psalm 67, is one example. Stanza one begins with the reality that missions starts first in the heart of man through salvation. God’s glory is most brilliantly on display through our redemption in Christ, which is an unmerited gift of grace (Eph. 2:5). It was British missionary to the Belgian Congo, Charles Thomas Studd, who rightly stated, “The light that shines farthest, shines nearest at home.” The fuel of missions is first fanned into flame by the ever-intensifying reality of Christ and our salvation within the heart of man.

Stanza two connects our present call to the nations with the church past as a means of encouragement. We ought to find solace, comfort, and courage knowing that “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) has gone before us in faithful obedience to the Great Commission. We are presented with the paradox that faithful obedience to this mandate, resulting in possible trial, sword, even death will yield a “crown of life.” For this we fear nothing and joyfully “endure all things.”

Finally, Stanza three reminds us that as we carry the gospel forth we go in the power of the Holy Spirit. The text concludes with Jesus’ own words from the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) and with an unmistakable sense of urgency that our call to take the Gospel to the nations is now. Will we continue to be faithful?

Dr. Matthew Swain is the Pastor of Worship at FCC and Assistant Professor of Worship Ministries at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

Posted in: Worship

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Stepping Over the Cross

Photo Copyright Alan Hutchins

Photo Copyright Alan Hutchins

This photo is of a cross that is part of the walkway to the gas chamber at the old Missouri State Penitentiary. The prison was built in 1836 and was called the “Bloodiest 47 Acres in America” because of the violence. It was opened 100 years before Alcatraz and was in use continuously until 2004. The gas chamber this path leads to was used for executions from 1937-1989. All told 40 convicted murderers walked by this cross on the way to their death in the gas chamber. Guilty men and women sentenced to death by a judge. In a real sense, they had to step over the cross on their way to die.

Today many trample the cross and the salvation it represents…yet it remains the only way of salvation and the only hope of eternal life. Jesus died on the cross as an atonement for sin. The innocent dying for the guilty. As we go through life each one of us is on the pathway to one day stand before a Righteous and Holy Judge. Will you face His wrath or receive His mercy? Your response to the Gospel of Christ will determine the outcome.

 

Alan Hutchins is a member and a trustee of Faith Community Church.

Posted in: Evangelism

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“Bob, Lee-Ray Ain’t Here!”

By Matt Greco

Several years ago, a friend of mine told me a story about a time when he was getting ready to add abob-leray couple of rooms to his home.  He had asked several of his friends to come over and help do some heavy lifting and only three people came, my friend, his dad, and Bob, one of their friends.  One of the jobs they had to do was unload a truckload of wallboard.

Now this wallboard came in a pack of two sheets that were approximately 4’ x 8’ and they weighed about forty-five pounds per sheet, so each pack was rather bulky and weighed about ninety pounds.  It was no problem for two guys to handle a pack of wallboard, but because there were only three of them, the process moved slowly.  As they started unloading the wallboard, Bob started commenting on a mutual friend, whose name was Lee-Ray, and how he could handle a pack of wallboard all by himself.

“You know I seen Lee-Ray handle one of this packs all by himself”, Bob quipped as they took turns doubling up on the wallboard.  “We would have this truck unloaded in no time if Lee-Ray was here”, Bob said, as he looked at the work yet to be done. “Lee-Ray is sure strong and it would go a lot faster if Lee-Ray was here”, Bob continued.  My friend’s dad, fed up with all the talk, set down his end of the wallboard, walked up to Bob, looked him in the eye and said, “Bob, Lee-Ray AIN’T here!”  They finished unloading the wallboard without any more references to Lee-Ray.

I have thought of Lee-Ray and the Lee-Ray quote many times as I prepared to do a task that I would perhaps rather not do.  I think that maybe someone could do this task better or perhaps I could spend my valuable time doing something more “important”.  WOW, sometimes I can be really short – sighted, sometimes I just wish someone else would do it and sometimes I am just plain arrogant about the value of my time or the importance of task at hand!

Joseph spent years working faithfully as a servant and as a prisoner before God elevated him; Moses was a shepherd for 40 years before he was ready to lead; Gideon had many excuses for why he was a reluctant warrior; and I mention Esther, Isaiah, Peter, Ananias, etc…  The Bible has many examples of how individuals did the task the Lord gave them (some grumbling, some not) and how that activity was a precursor to many other things.

At times my life is full of excuses, well wishes, waiting for the right time, and thoughts of great things to come, however, none of those things get the wallboard unloaded!  All of us can take advice from Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” 

Whether you are serving the body in exactly the way you want to serve or not right now, my encouragement is to serve.  Perhaps the Lord is preparing you for something else, but we need to know that He will do it in His time.  Proverbs 14:23 is a good guide for us all.

Matt Greco is the Headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Christian Living

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Just Like the Rest of ’em

By Whitney Standlea

One thing that is special about being a mother is that I am absolutely convinced that there is no child in the world as wonderful or special as my own. Carson’s eyes must be the most beautiful eyes of any child anywhere. Justus’ passion for construction trucks and hot dogs must rival any boy’s or man’s. And of course, that flowered dress wouldn’t look near as pretty on any other little girl but Joy. When my children smile, it lights up my whole world.just-like-the-rest-of-em

What I find fascinating about this is that I know other parents feel the same way about their children. And it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I want them to think that way about their children. While it can be taken to unhealthy extremes, I think this is a good gift to give our children. Many benefits come from having a high view of the individuality, beauty and talent of our children. One of the most important in my mind is a unique foretaste of the great blessedness of being a child of God. When parents lovingly express the specialness and uniqueness of a child, I believe it can lay a foundation for being able to believe that God would uniquely and specially love us as His own child. But I digress…

The real reason I bring this up is to draw parents to an offensive little phrase I noticed in Scripture. It is this: “Like the rest of mankind.” I think I would be either appalled or offended if anyone walked up to me and said, “Your daughter is just like the rest of ‘em. Smiles like them. Looks like them.” So is your son or daughter just like the rest of them? Let’s walk through Ephesians 2 and see what is so important about this annoying little phrase.

In chapter 2 of Ephesians, Paul graciously reminds us that our salvation is so great because of who we once were. He tells us we were dead, disobedient, separated from Christ, and children of wrath! The point of the passage is to remind us that God is rich in mercy because He still chose to save us even though we were just like the rest of the world walking in all the lusts of our flesh. There was absolutely nothing different about us. But something struck me as I was studying this text. As much as I hate to admit it, Paul gave only two categories for mankind: children of wrath and children of God. I can admit that I used to be a “child of wrath” but I preferred there be a third category: “Children of Whitney Standlea.” But there isn’t. I had to place my children in the context of one or the other, and at this time my children are “children of wrath like the rest of mankind.” Being honest, once I thought about it I didn’t really like that idea.

This is very sobering. My little sons that struggle to obey my voice are in the same general category as the rapist on the news last night. My daughter in all her beauty is really no different than the promiscuous teen that I would never allow to babysit her. These little children that I care for, tend to, get frustrated with, adore, and love every day are children of wrath in their very nature. They are separated from Christ, pursuing anything their hearts and minds desire.

Of what help is this unpleasant truth? If you can move past the splendid uniqueness of the gift God has given you, what good does it do us as parents to recognize that our children are really just like the rest of ‘em. I think this unpleasant realization is of eternal significance. It is perhaps the most propelling part of the particular love a parent has for her own child. The more we can understand and grasp at this truth, the more eager I believe we will be to share the great love of God with our children. As we see that their lives, their gifts and talents, their eternities (that we value so much) are of little worth unless surrendered to the Savior, we can refocus on the most important calling we have as parents: to constantly call on our heavenly Father and avail ourselves of every means God has given us to make our children become His children. In reality, if they only remain our children, they merely remain “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

So let us strive with all diligence to bring them before our Father in prayer and turn their hearts to the love of the Savior. Let us remember that their eyes are always watching and their ears always listening. May our tongues speak constantly of His love and our hearts overflow with tenderness and patience toward them just as God has demonstrated great kindness and patience with us. May we be eager to seize the moment by moment opportunities we have to live and speak the Gospel to our children with as great an eagerness as we would with any other lost soul we have the opportunity to encounter. And as our hearts become impatient and hardened toward our children, which they do, let us run back to the great manner of love that God has bestowed on us-that we the former children of wrath should now be called the children of God!

 

Whitney Standlea is a wife, mother and FCC member. She teaches music at Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Women's Ministry

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