Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Raven

Hey guys, I know I've been blogging for a while now. I just thought to celebrate my new Facebook page (Fans of The Raven) I could go back and share this blog's origin's story...


"'At the end of forty days
Noah opened the window of the ark
that he had made and sent forth a raven.
It went to and fro
until the waters were dried up
from the earth.' Genesis 8:6-7.

As the raven searched for something, anything, this blog is in search for things worthy interest. As I explore the internet, my life, the world, I'll try to keep you updated."

The whole premise of this blog is... There's stuff out there... Interesting stuff.... If I run across things that I find neat or worth looking at, they'll probably show up here. I've covered things from music videos to books to other online articles to problems in the church to the weekly Super Inc. devotions...

Most of the time my posts have to do with faith in God. Why? Because it's important to me and it should be important to everyone.


In modern thought, the raven has been signified as an avatar of Death. This idea became really popularized by Poe's The Raven.

Before then, as Christians, the raven would probably be more of a symbol of life. Even though the ark's raven didn't have much to do with this, Elijah's did.

Elijah had made some enemies. That's what happens when you tell the authorities that there will be a drought in the land because they had not been humble before God. After he told them the bad news, he had to flee for his life. And, he did what the Lord commanded him to do:

“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook... You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook... And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land." 1 Kings 17.

Although Elijah could no longer fend for himself, God looked out for him. The Lord sent ravens to feed Elijah when he surely would have died (especially after the drought began). And, He continued to help His prophet out later in the chapter.


Not only are the ravens a symbol of life here, they are used as a parable by Jesus in Luke. "Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" He shares not only that we are to live, but that we should freely live, knowing that God will provide.

Perhaps it fits. Where the world sees Death, we can see life knowing that not only will God provide, but that he already has through his Son, Jesus Christ. We will not die, we will be welcomed into eternal life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Man and His Dog

"Tender Moment Between Man And His Sick Dog In Lake Superior
2012-09-27 : 06:37 am



John Unger cradling his dog, Schoep, in Lake Superior.

They say a dog is a man's best friend, but to John Unger, a Wisconsin resident, his dog, Schoep, means everything.

Unger adopted Schoep, named after the famous Wisconsin ice cream, when he was just a puppy, and the two have been together ever since. Now, at 19 years old, Schoep has arthritis and has trouble sleeping, the Pioneer Press reports. Unger found that water is therapeutic for his pained buddy, so he takes Schoep into Lake Superior and lulls him to sleep.

Photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, owner of Stonehouse Photography and a friend of Unger's, decided to capture the relationship between the man and his dog down by the water.

"This photo was from a last minute session," the Bayfield, Wis., photographer told The Huffington Post in an email. "We had been trying to get together for weeks, but it kept not happening because of my travel schedule for Stonehouse. We finally got together last Tuesday (the 31st).

I had about 5 minutes to shoot and this is what I caught -- a man and his dog. John loving his Schoep, and Schoep trusting John so much he falls asleep in the buoyancy of the water. This is in no way posed. I hate posed photos. They never, ever capture the true essence of anything."
Stonehouse Hudson decided to post the photo to Facebook, where she described the pair's loving relationship.

"This 19 year old Shep being cradled in his father's arms last night in Lake Superior," she wrote in the Facebook post, which has received more than 207,000 likes and 116,000 shares as of Wednesday morning.

"Shep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Shep as an 8 month old puppy, and he's been by his side through many adventures," she continued.

Stonehouse Hudson never imagined the tender moment she capturedwould eventually go viral and touch the hearts of hundreds of thousands.
"John lives for this dog, and for the dog's comfort," she told HuffPost. "My mother has a saying, 'Everything is for the comfort and convenience of the Dog.' John is a prime example of this."

Stonehouse Hudson regularly photographs dogs as part of her profession. She offers pet sessions and often takes pictures of dogs at weddings. To give back, she does free shoots of hard-to-place animals for local shelters.

She said the photograph of Unger and Schoep is more than just a moment frozen in time; it's an everlasting reminder.

"I want people to identify with this photo, and remember a time when they felt safe, loved, and cared for," Stonehouse Hudson said. "Then I want them to channel those feelings and pay it forward! There is way too much negativity in this world - maybe with this one photo we can start to change things just a tiny bit."

Date : 2012-09-27"

Here's the original link.

If a man can care for and love his dog this much, imagine how much more God cares for and loves you.

If a dog can trust his master enough to carry him while he's asleep somewhere he would die if his master let go, imagine how much more we are to trust God with our lives.

Outdoor Leadership


"1. THE TIME IS RIPE FOR OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP

I really believe that the future of outdoor leadership is brighter than ever. Young people especially are interested in meaningful interactions with people, they are concerned about the environment, and they are in desperate need of opportunities to gain leadership skills through experiential learning. Businesses are finding it harder and harder to find people with excellent work ethic, and know how to work well with other people. Outdoor leadership shapes leaders and gives novices ample experiences reach challenging goals through teamwork.

2. OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP ADDRESSES SOME PROFOUND FELT NEEDS


The need for small group camps and retreats has never been greater due to the break down of family and the need for establishing an ecology of trust among individuals and groups. Our game-bingeing, texting, web-surfing culture enjoys the benefits of information sharing, but it is entering a famine of truly meaningful relationships.

With the marriage and family carnage in our culture growing exponentially, young people especially are not growing up experiencing the normalcy of trust. Nor are they learning the social skills and graces that earlier generations took for granted. The consequences of this will be more and more fractured neighborhoods, cities, workplaces, and even churches. The bright beacon of hope, though, is that although our society is crumbling at its foundations (marriage and family), and although our institutions tearing apart at the seams (schools, etc.), the church will always have the answer to our greatest societal ills when the world is ready to listen: The answer is the Gospel of Jesus.

3. THE SIGNS ARE CLEAR. WHERE ARE THE LEADERS?


Unfortunately, history tells us that the church is often a bit slow to adapt (link to blog post on adaptation) to social changes. Take Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s criticism of the state church during the rise of Nazi Germany, for example. Things became really grim when the church turned its head. I for one believe that the signs are becoming clear that our younger generation is trying to find its way without the help of good leaders. The church must take the lead. The same ancient problems that are rooted in sin and pride must be addressed with new methods and approaches that capture young people’s attention.

We must give them compelling vision to break the chains of hopelessness they feel from profound parental neglect and a the long spiral of social degradation caused by entitlement programs and the spineless, leaderless vacuum we have seen from leadership at the highest levels in our society. To radically overcome what many call “unsolvable problems” like social security, Medicaid, and our national debt, etc., we need biblically minded leaders who will call a spade a spade and boldly lead where no one else is willing to go. The problems that overwhelm young people today as they look through the fog toward their future are only “unsolvable” if we continue to have leaders who have no resolve, and no moral compass to tell them the difference between right and wrong.

RELATED POST: 6 Ways that Studying God (Theology) Outdoors Leads us to God Himself

Christian outdoor leadership is a subversive way to “show” and “demonstrate” how with a little effort, some basic skills, and a supportive team-like community, even the most intense problems can be overcome. Even the most profound crisis can be conquered, and even when peril abounds, we can prevail with proper leadership.

There are already around 20 Christian colleges and universities that offer outdoor leadership, and dozens more secular universities that have training for careers in this field. And even Harvard Business Review published an article in 2012 about the merits ofWilderness Leadership and how it prepares people for successful careers in business. The world is catching on… and my hope is that Christians who have a heart for Jesus, the outdoors, and adventure will be able to creatively pursue jobs and volunteer opportunities in this growing field so that Christ is put on display in every corner of this field."


Prayer Events



24 Hours of Prayer: Messiah Prayer Vigil

Here are some prayer events going on at or around my fieldwork church, Messiah in St. Charles County.

"According to one article I read, more than three million students gathered on school grounds around the world yesterday for "See You at the Pole 2012," the annual global day of student prayer. A Messiah high school student led the prayer at one of our local high schools!

Prayer is powerful. What a gift that we can communicate with our God and know that He hears our prayer. Last Sunday, Pastor Schult reminded us how important it is to be in the Lord’s house where God dwells and how important it is to begin everything we do in prayer. You can view the sermon online.

There is so much happening these days at Messiah Lutheran Church. A capital campaign, a 4-week trial of new worship times in October, more than 50 different ministries, Bible Studies every day of the week, people in need of love, care, and grace, the list goes on. When you think about it, it can quickly become overwhelming. That is precisely why we are having a focused time of prayer on October 6-7. A 24 hour prayer vigil, where our Messiah family can unite together in the Lord’s House in prayer.

If you are unsure what to expect, please read some frequently-asked questions about the Prayer Vigil on The Messiah Blog. You will not need to pray out loud or pray with anyone else. This is meant to be a special time for you to sit in quiet in the midst of the sanctuary and spend 30 minutes in prayer.

Please check the online sign-up sheet and enter your name for a time that you can participate. You can also sign up this Sunday morning. Please email questions toJohn Koncki or Jan Koncki."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Deficient Stories (Slice)


"Deficient Stories


Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image journal, tells a story about telling stories for his kids. He describes the memorable bedtimes when he attempts to concoct a series of original tales. "My kids are polite enough to raise their hands when they have some penetrating question to ask about plot, character, or setting," he writes. "If I leave something out of the story, or commit the sin of inconsistency, these fierce critics won't let me proceed until I've revised the narrative. Oddly enough, they never attempt to take over the storytelling. They are convinced that I have the authority to tell the tale, but they insist that I live up to the complete story that they know exists somewhere inside me."(1) Children seem to detest a deficient story.



There is no doubt that our sense of the guiding authority of story and storyteller often dramatically lessens as we move from childhood to adulthood. And yet, regardless of age, there remains something deeply troubling about a story without a point, or an author not to be trusted.


In an interview with Skeptic magazine, Richard Dawkins was asked if his view of the world was not similar to that of Shakespeare's Macbeth: namely, that life is but "a tale told by an idiot, filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing."(2)

"Yes," Dawkins replied, "at a sort of cosmic level, it is. But what I want to guard against is people therefore getting nihilistic in their personal lives. I don't see any reason for that at all. You can have a very happy and fulfilled personal life even if you think that the universe at large is a tale told by an idiot."(3)

His words attempt to remove the sting his philosophy imparts. And yet, it stings regardless—both with callousness and confusion. If I am but a poor player fretting my hour upon the stage of a tale told by an idiot, what is a "fulfilling" personal life? There is no basis in the naturalist's philosophy for intrinsic dignity, human worth, or human rights. There is no basis for moral accountability, right or wrong, good or evil. There is no basis for the layers of my love for my husband, the cry of my heart for justice, or the recognition on my conscience that I am often missing the mark. There is no room for my surprise at time's passing or my longing for something beyond what I am capable of fully reaching in this moment. This is not the story I know.
In the words of G.K. Chesterton, "I had always felt life first a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller."

Could it be that our relationship to stories, our first love of the tale beyond us and the author beside us, conveys a deep truth about our own cosmic tale? Are not the very philosophies we carry attempts to make sense of the grand story of which we find ourselves a part?

The first words of Genesis 1 boldly claim that we are not lost and wandering in a cosmic circle of time and chance. There is a story that emerges from the beginning, and we have a place within it. Similarly, the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith, where ultimate significance is aptly defined as being written into the story of God. God's Word places us in the timeline of a coherent history, delivering us from the deceptions of the enemy, telling us who we are, and where we came from, what is wrong with us, how we are made whole, and where we are going. We are placed within a story of which we know and celebrate the outcome, even as we wait for it through time and trial. In Christ, history's outcome—its ultimate end—is revealed. Dark days may follow, but the ending isknown. It is a story neither deficient, nor untrustworthy.

C.S. Lewis fittingly describes heaven at the end of his Chronicles of Narnia as a place where good things continually increase and life is an everlasting story in which "every chapter is better than the one before." His compelling reflection has often reminded me of Christ's beloved disciple in the closing chapters of his testimony to the significance of Jesus Christ. Notes John, "If all of the acts of Christ were recorded, the world would not have enough room for all the books that would be written" (John 21:24-26). Like children, eyes widen at the thought. What a story to be a part of, a life to find touching your own."

--Jill Carattini

(1) Gregory Wolfe, Intruding Upon the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith, and Mystery (Square Halo Books: Baltimore, 2003), 81-82.
(2) Skeptic, vol. 3, no. 4, 1995, pp. 80-85.
(3) Ibid.


The Call Heard Around The World



Last night, the refs gave the game (NFL Packers Vs. Seahawks in Seattle) to Seahawks' questionable touchdown in the last couple seconds of the fourth quarter. I, along with anyone coherently watching the game, realize that the Packers actually caught the ball. It wasn't a touchdown, it was a turn over. But, that wasn't the call. As one ref started to signal that the pass was incomplete, the other through his hands up to tell the world that the game had been won by the Seahawks.

I guess, at the end of the day, anyone can handle a win.... The true sportsmen are those who handle a loss like the Packers had with character and respect, preparing for the next game where they can have their chance to win again.

Here are some posts about last nights game:

"Ron from Roberts, WI

Anyone that saw Golden Tate, Pete Carroll and even Russell Wilson's interview after the game was obviously not impressed. They should be embarrassed. What are they teaching our kids? Remember the commercial about sportsmanship, with the kid that told the truth about touching the ball before it went out of bounds? The NFL has wrecked the experience for me and I believe for most of the nation.

This is a very tough day for Packers fans, and please believe me when I tell you that I hurt for you and for all Packers fans. In the moments immediately following last night’s game, I remarked to a colleague that we weren’t the only ones that were going to miss a night of sleep, that a lot of fans were going to go sleepless, but not in Seattle. I feel worse for Packers fans than I feel for anybody else involved in last night’s game, because I understand your feeling of helplessness. I had stories to write, and they helped me kill the time between the end of the game and sunrise. Packers fans only had their sorrow and anger to keep them company. Let’s get through this day, this week, and get to Sunday so we can put this behind us. Forget the 24-hour rule. It doesn’t exist this week.

Toussaint from Columbus, IN

Honestly, I don't want to hear someone say the Packers shouldn't have been in that position. The Packers did just what they were supposed to do. The Packers went into the second half and made adjustments and got into position to win. They did their job. The refs didn't do their job.

I agree completely with you that the Packers made the plays they had to make to win that game. I thought their second-half performance was gutsy, from the way they committed to the run and changed the game, to the coach’s challenge by Mike McCarthy that was coaching genius. You will not hear me say it shouldn’t have come down to that one play. Making plays at crunch time is standard operating procedure in the NFL, and I thought the Packers made all the plays at crunch time.

Will from Madison, WI

Have you ever received as many emails about a single play as you have about the end of the game last night?

No, I haven’t. My inbox counter was over 500 new e-mails by the time the plane landed and I dug into today’s “Ask Vic.” The bulletin game story I wrote contained over a thousand reader comments. That’s true volume and it must not be ignored.

Steve from Ithaca, NY

Time to unretire “The Asterisk.”

That same remark was made to me by a colleague in the press box moments after Golden Tate’s game-winning touchdown catch, and my inbox is loaded with people wanting a return of “The Asterisk,” but we’re not going to do that. We’re going to be gracious, strong and dignified, and cry a lot, too.

Jason from Louisville, KY

After that atrocious last call by the refs last night, couldn't Roger Goodell reverse the decision of the game? I usually don't blame losses on refs, but come on. I was so mad last night, I could barely sleep.

I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I won’t tell you that I haven’t thought about it. This is a tough day for the commissioner, too. It’s a tough day for a lot of people, including the official that made the call. You wanna know what that call was like for me? Well, I had my game story written. Its lead was thatCedric Benson scored the game-winning touchdown in a 12-7 Packers win. I had my finger on the “Publish” button as Russell Wilson’s pass fell from the sky. During that pregnant pause, as the official that made the call signaled nothing, I thought to myself, “Please don’t raise your arms.” He did, and I had to write a new game story and get downstairs for Coach McCarthy’s critical postgame interview. Fortunately, the Seattle press box includes steps, not just an elevator. The extra-point kick also bought me some time. In 41 years, I’ve never covered an ending like last night’s.

Thomas from Ludwigshafen, Germany

First of all, I was really disappointed. I watched the game until six in the morning and couldn`t sleep for another hour because of the call. Aside from that, what are the positives and the negatives for the team?

The negative is obvious: The Packers suffered a loss that’s going to hurt them in their pursuit of an NFC North title and home-field advantage for the playoffs. There were positives in the Packers’ performance, but I found it interesting that when Mike McCarthy was asked to talk about those positives in his postgame press conference, he begged off the question. It just wasn’t in his heart to do that at a time when his heart was so heavy. Here’s what I liked: 1.) The Packers were able to run the ball in the second half when they absolutely had to run the ball, and it was against one of the league’s top run defenses. 2.) The Packers made the plays they needed to make to win the game. 3.) The 81-yard, 16-play touchdown drive that should’ve been the game-winner was a championship-caliber, crunch-time drive that included two third-and-long conversions. Aaron Rodgers was outstanding in that drive and I think it was his coming-out party for the 2012 season.

Mike from LaCrossse, WI

Vic, for future reference, I'll refer to it as the “Fail Mary” play.

That would be pretty good, if it didn’t hurt so much. The Packers will overcome this. They’ll find a place for this game and that play in their glorious history, and one day we’ll look back on last night’s game with a painful, yet, vivid memory of a meaningful night in our lives. We remember when we laugh and we remember when we cry; the rest is often forgettable. Last night will never be forgotten.

Hari from Aurora, ON

I have a simple question: What did Mark Murphy say to Roger Goodell this morning?

Obviously, I don’t know, but I think I can say without reservation that there will be a lot of conversation in the league office today about last night’s game. This one did not go gentle into that good night.

Vince from Freeport, IL

Can we expect the apocalypse soon?

Maybe that’s why the sun was shining in Seattle.

Mike from New York, NY

Vic, I am just as livid as the rest of Packernation, but since your inbox will get flooded with questions about the finish, I'll ask about something else. In an ESPN article, John Clayton mentions you; can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with him? Why did you never become an NFL insider?

John was at the game last night. I was with him in Mike McCarthy’s postgame interview and we compared the chaotic moments immediately following last night’s “catch” to the chaos immediately following the Immaculate Reception. I have no doubt John is going to provide a lot of inside information on last night’s controversial play. John and I began our careers at the same age covering the Steelers. After several years of doing that, John went forward and I stayed behind. It’s about talent. John is a very talented reporter, writer and commentator. I look forward to the information he’s going to provide on last night’s game.

Harry from Waupaca, WI

Jon Gruden mentioned the Packers had as many as five rookie defensive players on the field at times last night. In the last two games, they have all played very good football. Did anyone really expect them all to make such an impact this early in the season?

I didn’t, and I announced that fact in the editorial I wrote on the subject prior to the season opener. I think we start by acknowledging the job Dom Capers and the defensive staff have done in developing these young players. Did you see that crunch-time pass breakup by Casey Hayward? That was impressive. Did you see Nick Perry wait on Clay Matthews to run Russell Wilson right to Perry? That’s not your typical rookie patience; that was taught. I didn’t expect the Packers to play nearly as much two-down-linemen “nickel” and “dime” on first and second down as they did last night. In time, what I was able to determine was that Capers was playing a wonderful game of cat and mouse with the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback. I don’t think Wilson or the Seahawks were expecting all that two-down stuff, either. You want a positive? The play of the defense is certainly a big one.

Steve from Lodi, WI

There's your asterisk for Green Bay.

Shhhh, please. The last one almost got me fired.

Joe from Escanaba, MI

As a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers, I'm embarrassed to be part of the NFL.

No, you’re not. You’re just hurting and you have a right to do that. Just get through today. Let’s start with that, everybody."

These comments are from "Ask Vic" on Packers.com

Christian Companies & Worldly Mandates (Hobby Lobby)


It's a sad time in America.
What the country was founded on,
religious freedom
and faith-filled refuge,
is in peril.


Christian companies can't bow to sinful mandate
By David Green

"When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn't much bigger than most people's living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God's word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation's largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.
We're Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I've always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God's laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that's what we've tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week's biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God's grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We've not only added jobs in a weak economy, we've raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that's raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It's not right.

I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby — and my family — are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don't like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American — and no American business — should have to make.

David Green is the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Adapt (Outdoor Leadership)



"Adaptation is one of those qualities of leadership, which makes leaders stand out. The ability to adapt is required when conditions change. For example, when conditions change in the market a previously sought after product can become obsolete overnight. Conditions can change in relationships, when conflict arises, or when decisions are required but the data or objectives are unclear to come to a unified agreement. Conditions can change in the weather, which forces us to adapt if we are in the outdoors. And conditions can change in your body, like when you get sick, over-tired, or when you start aging and your metabolism or eyesight changes which forces you to adapt your diet, exercise routine, etc. We know that conditions will change constantly. The question is do we have the courage and skill to successful adapt?

Time to Adapt!

CONDITIONS WERE ABOUT TO CHANGE FOR THE SUFFERING SERVANT


Jesus modeled adaptation in the Last Supper scene when it became apparent to him from the Father that his time on earth was coming to a close, and his mission would soon be coming to an end on the cross. John records this unforgettable scene in the upper room, as conditions for both Jesus and the Disciples were about to radically change:

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)

Soon Jesus would be betrayed, persecuted, and hung on a cross to die. And the Disciples would be given the greatest test they had ever known: to keep their faith in Christ in the chaos and confusion of the Passion week. Jesus adapted here by putting on the garmet of a slave and washing his Disciples feet. In this parabolic action, Jesus action became the parable. He was the Suffering Servant mentioned in Isaiah 53, and the Disciples had to see it to believe it.

True leaders adapt when the conditions change. Leaders rise up when adaptation is needed. They don’t whine about their limitations, lack of resources or support. They just adapt. For successful leaders, adaptation is automatic because they consistently adapted over the test of time.

YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE


As I try to put myself in the shoes of young people today I am even more convinced that developing the capacity to adapt will become increasingly necessary as our culture faces a myriad of ominous cliffs ahead. Adaptability is a close cousin to courage. And it will be courage that gives our younger leaders the ability to hurdle the mounting pile of seeming impossible, yet very solvable problems, which our leader-less culture is putting off. There are too many to list.

PYRAMID PEAK | ADAPT OR GET HYPOTHERMIA


I still vividly remember one summer evening when, as a young guide, my ability to adapt was tested. My wife, Becky (we had been married about a year at the time), and I awoke our group of eager high school students in the middle of the night to ascend Pyramid Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado. We knew that if we started right away, we could reach the peak by sunrise (which is an unparalleled experience in the backcountry).

We climbed for about four hours toward the peak. Hiking more efficiently than expected, we reached just below the summit way too early: it was still pitch black! The stars were bright and beautiful, but the wind was so cold that we could not stop for long before the sweat on our bodies would chill us—causing hypothermia. You are really exposed in that kind of situation. The group wanted to wait to see the sunrise, so I had to adjust to these new conditions.

CLAMORING IN THE DARK FOR SHELTER FROM THE WIND


I decided to clamor down some rocks and we were able to tuck ourselves under the cleft of a huge boulder. We pulled out the emergency sleeping bag and boiled a pot of hot chocolate (which takes a while at 14,000’). Pressing together tightly kept us sheltered from the wind. Hot chocolate was passed around in a water bottle for each to hold for a few seconds, enjoy a sip, and then share with the next person. We managed to stay warm enough; singing, praying, and telling stories, until the sun finally came up. And wow was it worth it. Had we not been prepared with the right gear and the know-how to keep everyone safe and warm, we would have been in trouble. A huge part of being able to adapt to changing conditions is the whether or not you are prepared to perform when the going gets rough.

Unfortunately we are seeing too many people finding their way into leadership positions because they can speak well or persuade an audience, but when push comes to shove, they have not been prepared to lead.


Adaptation (Outdoor Leadership)


I'd like to mention that "outdoors" in this sense could really mean any new area that gives opportunity to unforeseen obstacles.

"When David’s father Jesse sent David to resupply his brothers on the front lines of the battle against the Philistines, David accepted the task. He had no idea his adaptation skills were about to be tested. When he arrived at the battle lines, he expected to find a bunch of men bravely fighting the Philistines. Yet when he rolled in he found that they were timid and leaderless. This was a crisis, which called for leadership, now! So like godly leaders do, he adapted to the leaderless vacuum. Although too young to be called up as a fighting man, he said to Saul:

David Adapted to a Leaderless Vacuum and Stepped Up to the Challenge

Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine: your servant will go and fight him. (v. 32)

IF YOU KNOW HOW TO ADAPT, YOU STAND OUT BIG TIME


1. David abandons the things as they are and adapts to a leaderless vacuum by volunteering to take on the most formidable obstacle facing Israel.

I guarantee that as you enter the world of business, ministry, or leadership of any kind, you will have opportunities galore to volunteer to take on the most difficult problems. Most people run away from them like cockroaches when the lights are turned on. But if you are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and do what no one else is willing to do, you will have ample opportunity to face giants and get God glory in the process. The opportunities are abounding.

DAVID’S ABILITY TO ADAPT CAME FROM CONFIDENCE IN GOD AND CONFIDENCE IN HIS SKILLS


So why was David able to rapidly decide to jump into the battle? The Scripture tells us why:

2. David was confident in God.

He states boldly to the assembly, “the battle was the Lord’s” (see 1 Samuel 17:47). He knew that the battle belonged to the Lord, and that he was just serving to further what God wanted to do. He was stepping up for God to get glory.

3. David was confident in his skills to fight (see 1 Samuel 17:40).

He had already been in a variety of scenarios where he was required to jump into action quickly. When lions and bears attacked his flock he didn’t sit around and weigh the options. No, he decides to took care of business right then and there. Leadership was automatic to him, because of his faith in God and his confidence in his skills with his stone and sling.

Imagine how many thousands of stones David must have thrown to have such confidence? Think about the consistent daily practice that was required to have such confidence that he could catapult a small rock with such accuracy?

One way I have found to train leaders quickly to develop these kinds of rapid decision-making skills is in the wilderness. I’ve been involved in the field of outdoor leadership for over 22 years, and I can say that the outdoors is truly a perfect laboratory to develop the ability to adapt in leaders. Teaching leaders how to lead in the wilderness is a proven way to rapidly enhance the leadership skill of adaptation, which might otherwise take years in the marketplace to learn.

ACTION STEPS

Think of some young leaders in your arena of influence who you think have great potential to be stand out leaders. Invite them to do something fairly challenging with you in the outdoors by the end of the year.
Then when you are on the adventure, give them some opportunities to make decisions with you in the field and show them how to adapt when conditions change. (No matter how small or large the “change in conditions” you experience, there is always opportunity in the outdoors to model how to adapt.

Before you come home debrief some ways to apply what you all learned to life, leadership, ministry."


Hulk Smash Puny god


San and Creation

What is it to create?... To be a creation? ... To be a creator?


The Inhumans would definitely know. They're born just like the rest of us, but during their life they're remade by the Terrigen Mist. The mist makes them into a whole different person with unpredictable aspects and attributes.

San (pictured) always had high expectations of himself. As a child he thought, "Fighting is in my blood. My father is a distinguished member of our Royal guard, as was his father and his father's father. I'd come to think of Guardsmanship as our family's genetic heritage, even though that sort of thinking is frowned upon. See, in Attilan, every Inhuman's place in life is determined by genetic profile... But our full genetic potential isn't realized until we undergo Terrigenesis, a process by which we're transformed into truly unique individuals with unique talents.... Until we step through the Terrigen Mists, we won't know our true calling. Because of this, Inhuman children aren't encouraged to take special interest in any particular trade. Disappointment's hard to come by when there are no expectations. But I knew differently...."

"My heart pounded... I kept a strong face for my parents, even when I could feel the mist changing me. My skin--my whole body--was in flames, it seemed. I wanted to scream out in pain. I wanted to hammer at my transparent prison until I broke free. The only thing that kept me sane in that eternal instant was my faith in the future...."

"When I emerged from the mists with my full genetic potential I realized... I could feel it. I was shorter. Smaller. Weaker. I hadn't become a warrior. At that moment I knew my dreams would never come to be."

As his friend, Nallo (an Inhuman bard), says to him, "Your life didn't turn out the way you'd planned. That is what you get for planning it in the first place."

But, then, what did San become?

Nallo: "San, you and I are artists. We're valued rarities amongst our people. You should feel like royalty!"

San: Do you know why we're rarities? Because we're surplus to requirements, that's why. We don't develop technology. We don't provide food or shelter. We couldn't defend our own people if we wanted! We're useless."

"Nallo played, and for the first time, I [San] actually listened. His composition was at once beautiful and haunting. I imagined it was the call of an artist's soul. For the first time, I felt a sort of reluctant satisfaction about my station... about 'only' being an artist..."


San's ability is to create. He sculpts art. Eventually he learns it to be his only release. He ends up being sent to Earth with Jolen and the others. Although he still often seems lost and unsure of himself he has learned that although he might not think of himself as brave, strong, or unique he really is. He is still able to do incredible things. Perhaps he is even more equipped to his destiny than he ever has been before.

San is where many of us are in life. We plan ahead. We want to know what's next. We feel the need to prepare. But, no matter how secure we may feel about them, our plans often don't work out.

God works through other means and calls us to do other things. Does this mean we shouldn't plan? No. But, we should trust God's plan more than we trust our own plans. His plans are the only ones that remain secure (Proverbs 19:21).

God created us and the world out of nothing at the beginning, But, God didn't stop after that. He continuously creates in our lives. God is able to work through our plans and our past in order to help Him prepare our future.

He has knit us together in our mothers womb. He knew us even before we knew ourselves.

"O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." Isaiah 64:8. "Like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand." Jeremiah 18:6.

He continued to create through His Son. Jesus changed the world through His sacrifice and resurrection. He then changed everything by sending His Spirit to dwell within us. This is the type of living creation that still lives in us and with us. Like San, the Holy Spirit transforms us in our lives with the Gospel (Romans 12:2), another type of creation.

Do not think yourselves weak. God is your strength. Even though we cannot see what He has chosen to make with us, it is something strong and unique. It is who God intends us to be. Even if we seem lost and unsure, we can trust in Him that His plan will go on.

He continually creates and forms us to His pattern.

Interestingly enough, he has also often given us the means and the yearning to create. And, His fire burns inside of us. We want to be one of his instruments (like Paul) in His creation of more Christians.

... And, He will continue creating us until that final day when we are in Paradise forever with Him.

... Where He will no longer need to create us because we will be completed in Him.

Our Life Is Like Grass (Outdoor Leadership)


"Recently I had a heart to heart with my wife,
and she lovingly reminded me that my “presence”
is what pleases God, not my “productivity.”

I need to hear that
because I love to work and serve and lead.
But at the end of the day,
what’s going to last is
how I invest in those who will outlive me.
And that requires presence
of mind and heart
with those relationships with those closest to me.
Busyness is the enemy of that."


Phil. of Theo., Reading God's World (Books)

One thing that I skimmed over on my last post about Philosophy for Understanding Theology was Allen's paragraph on natural theology:

"From very early days theologians distinguished what they called 'the Two Books of God,' namely, Nature and Scripture (later called 'General and Special Revelation.'). Without faith in Christ, and without the Bible as a guide, we cannot read nature to enhance our knowledge of God's power, wisdom, and goodness. Because it takes faith and the Bible to read nature's revelation, the contemplation of nature as a great gift and a revelation of God's power, wisdom, and goodness is clearly not an attempt to prove God's existence from nature. Hence such contemplation should not be dismissed as natural theology by theologians, not thought to be impossible because philosophers...." p 18 PT.

I think Allen's trying to say that without God's revelation of himself to us, we wouldn't really be able to know Him. But, He has revealed Himself to us both through Scripture and Nature (His two books). We shouldn't dismiss natural theology because God can choose to reveal Himself to us through nature. Although, Modern Philosophers do a good job of disregarding the possibility of learning about God from nature. This should not stop us from growing in our faith through Nature, because we also know faith through Scripture.

One of my favorite professors from the Concordia University of Wisconsin, Dr. Angus Menuge, has edited a book that discusses this very subject (it includes articles by some of the best current minds in theology such as Nancy PearceyHenry Schaefer III, and Nathan Jastram.). The book's called Reading God's World: The Scientific Vocation. He will also be editing the next volume of Philisophia Christi which will cover the topic of ramified natural theology (natural theology attempts to show that nature is proof that there is a God while ramified natural theology attempts to show that nature is proof that there is a God and specifically it is the Christian God).


Some insights from Reading God's World:

"Science depends on religious assumptions and will likely lose its way without them." p 12, Menuge's Introduction.

"The scientist can pursue this knowledge in worship of the Creator and to serve his or her neighbor..." p 12 Introduction.

"Reformers, especially Martin Luther, emphasized the priesthood of all believers.... A scientist was a sort of priest, worshiping in the temple of God's world.... The scientist was called to interpret what God had freely written." p 13 Introduction.

For one example, Nancy Pearcey talks about Johannes Kepler. "He enrolled in the university to study theology, but at the end of his studies his dreams came crashing down when university authorities suddenly transferred him to a teaching position in mathematics and astronomy. Over time, however, Kepler became captivated by these subjects and came to see that science, too, can be a calling from God--just as much as the ministry. | 'I wanted to become a theologian; for a long time I was restless,' Kepler wrote years later. 'But now I see how God is, by my efforts, being glorified in astronomy,' for 'the heavens declare the glory of God.' Kepler had discovered that science is a genuinely Christian vocation. In one of his scientific notebooks, he broke spontaneously into prayer: | 'I give you thanks, Creator and God, that you have given me this joy in thy creation... See I have now completed the work to which I was called. In it I have used all the talents you have lent to my spirit.' | ... He often described astronomers as 'priests of God' in the book of nature." p 24 How Science Became a Christian Vocation (Chapter 1).



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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Phil. of Theo. Concerning the Timaeus (Books)

Plato: The World Is the Handiwork of a Mind

"Unlike nearly all of Aristotle, this dialogue [Timaeus] is known by theologians throughout the early centuries of the Christian era and right through the Dark Ages." p 2  PT.

"Plato also astounded the Apologists and the early Church Fathers. When they encountered Plato's creation story in the Timaeus, they said that Plato either had read Moses... or had received his knowledge by divine revelation." p 1 PT.

"They did not feel threatened by Plato... the early Christian thinkers were delighted to find a witness to Christian truth among the Greeks." p 1 PT.

There is a cause (an ineffable creator):

"Now then, in my opinion, one must first distinguish the following. What is it that always is and has no becoming; and what is it that comes to be and never is?" p 308, 28 Timaeus.

"Everything that comes to be, of necessity comes to be by some cause; for apart from a cause, it's impossible for anything to have a coming to be." p 308, 28 Timaeus.

"The first thing about it [the cosmos] one must investigate is the very thing set down at the beginning whenever one has to investigate anything.... It has come to be; for it is visible and touchable and has body, and all such things are sensed; and things that are sensed, since they're grasped by opinion accompanied by sensation, came to light as coming to be and begotten. And again, for what comes to be, we claim that it's necessary that it come to be by some cause. Now to discover the poet and father of this all is quite a task, and even if one discovered him, to speak of him to all men is impossible." p 308, 28b-28c Timaeus.

"There's every necessity that this cosmos here be the likeness of something." p 308, 29b Timaeus.

"Now accounts of what's abiding and unshakable and manifest with the aid of intellect are themselves abiding and unchanging; and to the extent that it's possible and fitting for accounts to be irrefutable and invincible, they must not fall short of this. But as for accounts of something made as a likeness of something else--since it is a likeness--it is fitting that they, in proportion to their objects, be likenesses." p 309, 29c Timaeus.

"The Genesis story of creation and the rest of the Bible appear at first sight to be anthropomorphic... But early Christian theologians... were quick to point out that the Bible, like Plato, stresses that the source is ineffable.... The language of Scripture is an accommodation to our limited capacities." p 15-16 PT.

Plato's example of immutability. "An idea or concept never changes. It comes into people's minds at times and at other times is not thought about, but the idea or concept itself is not born nor does it decay. The number two, for example, is not born, nor made, and it will not die or rot. It is always the same." p 3 PT.

The beginning of time:

"Until heavenly bodies move... there are no days and nights or years." p 6 PT.

"Augustine was influenced by both Plato's view that time is created with the universe and by Plotinus's notion that time is a mental phenomenon.... The Manichaeans asked, 'If God created the world and created it out of nothing, why did God create it at the time God did and not sooner or later? What was God doing before the world was created?' Augustine points out that it is true to say that the universe began, as Genesis reveals, but the universe did not begin in time. Time is created with the creation of all things. So there is no time before the universe began." p 7 PT.

"In God there is nothing that passes away or comes to be. God's word of creation does not pass away; for if it did, all created things would pass away too. That word abides forever; it is spoken eternally. It is not subject to time." p 8 PT.

"Because God is eternal, we cannot [fully] comprehend the divine in its essence.... Temporal categories are foreign to the divine nature." p 8 PT. "In Genesis it is the primacy of God that is affirmed; and this is affirmed by saying that only God did not begin in contrast to all else that did begin." p 11 PT.

"These views... on time... paves the way for Augustine to develop a Christian view of history, in which events such as creation, the call of Israel, and the incarnation give direction and purpose to human history." p 8 PT.

(Intelligent) Creation:

"The Milesians shared the traditional Greek religious assumption that the universe was not made but was born--that is, the basic analogy was that of giving birth rather than that of human construction, on the lines of a craftsman." p 11 PT. Plato was on the "'right' side of that division by Christian thinkers." He claimed that the world was made instead of birthed. "Birth suggests blind reproduction whereas 'human making' out of things of nature suggests intelligence and purpose.... For Plato, the inadequacy of natural causes as explanations of nature's operations is that they neglect the beauty and goodness of the visible world order as a whole and in every detail. And Plato's ground for the conviction that the world is a handiwork of intelligence is largely that he thinks nature's order resembles the activity of human intelligence." p 16 PT.

But, "It is clear that in this creation story [Timaeus] there is no creation ex nihilo. It is a story of order being brought to preexisting material" by the "demiurge" or "craftsman." p 3 PT. "But the craftsman only copies the world of Forms, following a ready-made blueprint. This work is thus not creative but rather imitative. In contrast to this, the Genesis account is about a creative, inventive act. There is nothing ready-made to be imitated." p 8-9 PT.


"I will only lay it down [not argue for it] that the products of nature, as they are called, are works of divine art, as things made out of them by man are works of human art." 265c, e of Plato's Sophist p 10 PT.

"The world is not simply the way it is, but the way an agent wants it to be." p 10 PT. "The story exhibits the conviction that natural things are the way things are intended to be... and not the way they simply happen to be by chance or necessity." p 11 PT. "The world is the handiwork of mind and that it is as it is because a mind intended it to be so." p 15 PT.

"Now let us say through what cause the constructor constructed becoming and this all. Good was he, and in one who is good there never arises about anything whatsoever any grudge; and so, being free of this, he willed that all things should come to resemble himself as much as possible. That this above all is the lordliest principle of becoming and cosmos one must receive, and correctly so, from prudent men." p 309, 29e Timaeus.

"Clearly, for Plato this world is good, even though it is not perfect. (This is true of the Bible as well: the universe is good, indeed very good..." p 4 PT.

Plato attempted to explain that, "True morality is thus not the product of convention or arbitrary enactment of human will; rather, the virtuous individual is a counterpart in miniature of the order and harmony of the cosmos." Allen suggests that, "This conviction of a hierarchy... became the basis of natural law... and has deeply influenced Christian conceptions of morality, society, and politics. It is the rejection of a hierarchy of value by modern science in the seventeenth century that led to the need to find new foundations for society, the state, and morality in the modern period." p 2 PT.

"If nature is similar to human handiwork, then nature can be used as a support for seeking the best order for society, the state, and the individual because humanity, like everything else, has a place in the general order." p 17 PT.

"The ease with which Plato's story of the mind making a visible world can be rendered superfluous by an alternative account of the order of nature shows how different Genesis is from the Timaeus [because Genesis holds a more secure argument and reason]. The context of Plato's creation story is that of a search for a rational explanation of nature's workings.... Reasoned arguments to understand phenomena may lead in the direction of a Timaeus-like creation story, in which nature is to be regarded as being the way it is because it is mindlike in its operations. But reasoned arguments may lead to such a story being rendered useless by an account such as Aristotle's... The Christian belief in God the Creator does not arise out of an attempt to deal with the problems with which Plato and Aristotle wrestled.... It rests on a belief in God's initiative in calling a people and in God's continuing dealings with them. Awareness of divine sovereignty over all things and God's independence from all things led and leads to an awareness of the dependence of all things on God. The search for a rational account of nature's operations is not the origin or the ultimate basis for the Christian belief in the Maker of heaven and earth." p 17-18 PT.


"On the other hand, the creation, as we mentioned in the introduction, bears marks of its origin from the hand of God. The reflections of great philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle on the order of nature are instructive. They supply us with valuable data as we try to form an estimate of the extent of these marks and how well the mind can discern them. Philosophical reflection on the order of the universe is thus of interest to theology." p 18 PT.

"Because it takes faith and the Bible to read nature's revelation, the contemplation of nature as a great gift and a revelation of God's power, wisdom, and goodness is clearly not an attempt to prove God's existence from nature." But, perhaps the other way around as someone like Descartes would say: to prove natures existence by knowing God. p 18 PT.

...

"For all these very reasons, he begat it a happy god." p 311, 34b Timaeus.

"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:31.




Click here to read the whole Timaeus:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Book)

I have posted about a good number of books (Pascal's Pensées, Forgotten God, Confessions of a Sinner, and Life Together). And, I really hope to post about more (Man's Search for Meaning, Mere Christianity, and the Freedom of a Christian).

I have just began to read Philosophy for Understanding Theology by Diogenes Allen and I am ecstatic to carry on.

While I was at the Concordia University of Wisconsin obtaining my BA in Pre-Seminary and Philosophy studies, I always pointed out the philosophies that sounded like theology. While we went through both the Ancient and Modern philosophers, I realized that many of their thoughts have made their way into our beliefs (both Christian and non-Christian). Not only that, I also knew that many of our beliefs expounded where the philosophers left off. Theology was able to reach a better understanding of what many of the philosophers just dabbled in.

This book shares the impact of God's gift of Wisdom and Reason in our understanding of Him. Allen also points out the necessity for learning some philosophy in order to understand even more about God.

I already thought the book was worth buying just after reading the Introduction.

"Philosophical knowledge enables one to appreciate more deeply the meaning of virtually every major doctrinal formulation and every major theologian." "All too often such material is of fundamental importance for the understanding of Christian doctrine and theology." p x.

"I have made my selection from the mass of philosophical material by first looking at theologians. I have determined from a study of their works what philosophy influenced them and what philosophical concepts and terms they use. It is what theologians do that determines what I present and how..." This is "the principle of selection what matters for theology rather than what matters for philosophy." p x.

Allen shares some brief concepts of theology and philosophy. One thing that really stuck out was that the Jews knew God because of his revelation, while Aristotle knew some form of god due to his observations.

Allen gives credit to Hellenistic influence (started by the Greeks) for our yearning to study the big questions such as "Why?" Although, before the Greeks many people (such as the Jews) asked God for answers, Allen feels that those questions were more concerned with justice rather than the Greek's need to expand their knowledge (a need that we still share today).

One good quote that he has as he's describing both our role and God's role in the universe is: "God created us in order to have a life with God, indeed that we are ultimately to share the divine life, which is beyond our mode of existence." p xxiii.

As we enter this realm of thought, we tread dangerous waters. We must hesitate and remain certain with our Biblical theology being careful to secure it as "theology" (the study of God, Prov. 9:10 [God starts our understanding of Him]) as opposed to "theosophy" (godly wisdom, building ourselves up to God [bad, inaccurate stuff]).

Stay tuned for more.

Buy the book here:




<-1-1.01-1.1-1.2->

Games Vs. God and Nature (Outdoor Leadership)


"...instead of devoting [yourselves] to games...
[you] would gain more satisfaction from
the contemplation of
the wisdom and goodness of God,
as demonstrated in the exquisite works of nature."

--John Ray (Founder of Biology)
circa 1627-1705

For more, check out Computer Infatuationsts.

6 Reasons to Meet God Outside (Outdoor Leadership)


"1. WIND & RAIN ARE METAPHORS OF A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW

I liken a biblical worldview to a fresh rain in the desert, or a warm Chinook wind in the dead of winter. Desert dwellers leap for joy when the monsoons finally arrive in August. And Coloradoans, like myself, sigh happily at the Chinook wind that blows down the east side of the Rocky Mountains at the end of winter. They are both welcome and refreshing changes because they radically contrast the norm. In studying God’s Word consistently, we also discover that the Bible’s worldview radically contrasts the mainstream.


2. A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW CONTRASTS THE NORM

Like the contrast between bright snow and gray granite peaks, as I spend time with Jesus in the darkness of the morning, I am continually reminded that the Living Word of the biblical text is a drastic contrast to the regular diet of external worldly voices and internal doubts that I entertain everyday. So unless I decide that it’s a biblical worldview that I want, there are plenty of other fast-food ideas out there to get me by. But empty, dry, and cold they are.

3. THEOLOGY IS ASKING QUESTIONS

Theology |θēˈäləjē| is simply studying people’s questions about God and then seeking the answers to our questions in the Bible. The origin of the word, theology comes from: Greektheos (‘god’) + logia (‘word’) denoting a study or interest in God. When I’m outdoors and free to look deeply into what God has made, I begin to wonder and ask questions. As I study what God has made it leads me to God himself. And as I take seek answers to my questions by studying God’s Word, the Bible, I am drawn by my Heavenly Father beyond the ink on the page into the very presence of my Father whose inspired Words are written in that very ink. That is what true theological inquiry should lead to, God himself:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. -Romans 1:20

4. THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS HAVE CONCRETE ANSWERS

Why would I want to seek answers to my deepest questions in the bible? Because it is reliable, historically accurate, and scientifically verifiable through the created order itself. It is full of eyewitness accounts, it is brutally honest about both mankind’s sin and his potential for glorifying God through his son Jesus Christ. It has more archaeological evidence to support its validity than any other religious or non-religious book in the history of the world.

It is consistent from start to finish, it is full of prophecies that have come true, it explains fully who Jesus is, why he was born, why he died for mankind’s sin, how a person might receive salvation through faith in Jesus, and it offers very clear guidance on how a person can experience life to the fullest. The Bible is the Word of God, and it will transform your life beginning the moment you put your full trust in Jesus Christ and commit your life to him. In this sense, the words of the Bible are tested and found true through faith.

5. TIME IN CREATION HELPS US UNDERSTAND GOD’S NATURE

All of Creation and even cultures themselves have evidence of the design of God. The list of lessons Creation teaches us about God is endless, but let’s take just one quality of Creation as an example. Think about the concept of beauty.
BEAUTY IN CREATION

How do you know that something is beautiful? This question is impossible to test in a laboratory, but somehow every person can recognize beauty. When we look at the wide-open spaces of a majestic mountain scene, or we meditate on the splendor of a sunset on the horizon of a rolling sea, we know we are looking at beauty. In a Christian worldview, we believe God created the heavens and the earth, and everything he created was good and pleasing to him. It is beautiful. And the existence of beauty itself points to the God who designed beauty. And just like hunger pains point to the existence of food to satisfy our hunger, so beauty’s existence points to One who is ultimately beautiful—God himself.
6. CLARITY THROUGH CONTRASTS IN CREATION

Just as the creation inspires awe, by contrast, the degradation of the earth causes repulsion. When I walk by polluted streams full of human waste and discarded trash in developing countries, I am saddened by the ugliness of the scene, but even more grieved by the plight of the poor who cannot enjoy a safe and refreshing drink of water, which was God’s intention for creation.

The logical conclusion that leads from the existence of ugliness in the world does not point away from God, rather it points directly to him—the Creator of all beauty. What God creates is beautiful, and what our sin causes is destruction of that very beauty he intended.

EXERCISES
How do you see evidence of God’s design in the beautiful landscapes you visit when you head outdoors?
In what ways do you see evidence of mankind’s sin destroying that very beauty God intended for the human race? What does this say about God? What does this say about mankind?
How does being a follower of Jesus Christ make you a restorer of beauty in God’s world?
How can you take a snapshot of the awe-inspiring beauty you see in a magnificent natural setting and go back to your cities with a renewed vision to restore God’s intended beauty in our relationships, schools, churches, and city as a whole?
FURTHER STUDY…
The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
Living with Other Creatures: Green Exegesis and Theology by Richard Bauckham
Understanding the Times: Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews by David Noebel
Know Why You Believe by Paul Little
Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture by Lesslie Newbigin"