Thursday, December 27, 2007

the worthlessness of infinite value

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field,
which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he
goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

matt. 13:44

according to the national retail foundation, of an estimated 26.3 billion dollars will be spent on gift cards in 2007, 8 billion or more will never be used.

this is a great money maker for companies who offer the cards. everytime someone spends any amount of money on a gift card that is lost, forgotten, or just never used, that is 100% profit for that company. they already have the money -if no one ever buys any merchandise, all the better for them!

it seems foolish to think that someone would have in their possession something of value, yet never make use of it.
as christians, we have something of infinite value. we have the gospel- the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of jesus christ. but do we share it? i know that i dont as often as i should... and more often than not, its not that i choose *not* to share, its just that i dont pursue opportunities. many times i have walked a way from a conversation or encounter and moments later thought "why didnt i realize that that was a perfect opportunity to share with them?"

we dont want to make people out to be science projects or treat them as means to an end. but if we do care for them, then we should be compelled to give them the source of infinite value and joy!

if they do not accept the gospel, it does not devalue the gift. just as a $10 starbucks card is still worth $10 at starbucks whether or not it is used, the gospel of jesus christ is just as true and just as saving if it is rejected. but let us offer it in hopes that it will be received with joy!

as the new year approaches, may we be intentional about sharing the greatest thing we possess with those around us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

response to the mormon response...

in case you missed it, fox news sent a list of 21 questions about the beliefs of the mormon church to officials of the church of latter-day saints. they replied, question by question. (you can view the questions and responses here).

at first glance, the answers may seem satisfactory. but upon close inspection, it seems that the answers given by the mormon church are not complete.. or completely honest.

rob bowman, of the southern baptist convention's north america mission board examines the answers given by the mormon church and points out the need to "say what we mean, and mean what we say". read his eyebrow raising assessment of the latter day saints answers here.

rob's bio from begins...
Robert M. Bowman Jr. (M.A., Fuller Theological Seminary) is the manager of Apologetics and Interfaith Evangelism for the North American Mission Board. For five years he was a lecturer in the M.A. in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. Rob has published over fifty articles in such periodicals as the Christian Research Journal, Moody Monthly, Pastoral Renewal, and Areopagus Journal. He has also authored or co-authored a dozen books, including two that won the Gold Medallion Award...

Monday, December 17, 2007

fresh prince gets it wrong...

i am closing in on my 30th birthday. but one of the things that keeps me from feeling "all grown up" is re-runs of shows that were popular when i was a teenager. one of those shows is "the fresh prince of bel-air". while it wasnt groundbreaking television (though the theme song may be!) it is still entertaining to watch all of these years later- if for nothing else but the clothing and hairstyles!

i like will smith's acting. i find most of his movies enjoyable. he seems like someone who would really be fun to know. but on one important issue, he is dreadfully and fearfully wrong.

recently he has been speaking of a growing interest in and study of scientology. through his wife's (jada pinkett-smith) work with well known scientologist, tom cruise, smith has become more vocal about his research into this false religion...

[smith] told [access hollywood]: "I was introduced [
to] [scientology] by Tom and I’m a student of world
religion. I was raised in a Baptist household, I went to
a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are
98 percent the same ideas of Scientology, 98
percent the same ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism."

i hate to break it to you will, but any religion that denies that there is but one god who is creator of all things and exists as the father , son, and holy spirit, and denies that the only hope of salvation is faith in the life, death, and resurrection of jesus christ is not even close to christianity. if any other teaching does not have these things at its core, then it is 100% *not* like christianity.

this doesn't mean that we boycott anything having to do with will smith or any scientologist... but we can become more informed about what scientology is so that if we hear someone say " i heard will smith is looking into scientology and that it is not that different than christianity" that we would seize that opportunity to make the gospel clear. we can also pray for will smith and other celebrities that have been or perhaps are being seduced by this false religion. (tom crusie, john travolta, lisa marie presley, etc.)

i will do some research on sources pertaining to scientology and post them here so check back in the next few days...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

milestones and talking with god..

this is the 150th post on "the lowercase" and as of last week, this site has received of 10,000 visits in the last 18 months. thanks to all who visit and participate. i know keeping this blog has helped me in thinking through issues and writing discipline, and i hope it has been beneficial to you as well.

as the new year wraps down, i thought i would share a challenge i saw over on said at southern, a website corralling many blogs of southern seminary students (like myself) and faculty.

tony kummer shares an opportunity to start a new years resolution early and complete it by february!

if you are like me, each year you may have good intentions of reading the bible all the way through, or at least reading it more. by mid february i am usually so far behind trying to keep up seems futile. well tony has provided a plan that if you can spare a little over an hr. a day (cumulative) we can read the entire bible by jan. 31st if we start on dec. 10th!

here is his plan...

I took the page numbers from my ESV
Reference Bible and the time required from
my Max McLean ESV audio Bible.
You can modify these numbers for your favorite
Bible translation.

Start Now ( dec. 10) and Read It All by January

...start on December 10th for a total of 53 days.
* Read 21 minutes or 5 ½ pages of NT per day
* Read 54 ½ minutes or 18 ½ pages of OT per day

So, by spending only 1 hour and 16 minutes per day,
24 pages, you can read through the entire ESV Bible
between now and February. Just over 1 hour a day!

you may think, " i don't have an hour a day!!!" well.. maybe you do.
think of your whole day.
  • what else do you do while you eat your meals that you cant put off for 53 days?
  • what if you get to work 15 minutes early to read for 15 minutes, spend the first or last 15 minutes of your lunch break reading, and watch one less program on television?
  • carry a bible to read while waiting in line christmas shopping, grocery shopping, etc.

i'm sure if we think about it, we can find 60 minutes throughout the day to spend time in god's word.. to hear him speak to us.
i'm going to give it a try. maybe ill get it done by jan. 31st, maybe not, but it is worth it to me to try. if you want to join me, leave me a comment (no need to sign up for anything) and let me know, and we can pray for and encourage one another.

Friday, December 07, 2007

jesus and satan; sibling rivalry?

they have "feel good" commercials.

they have nice looking buildings

they are exemplary citizens

but are mormons christians?

this has been a hot topic of conversation since former massachusetts governor mitt romney announced that he was running for presidency of the united states.

yesterday, romney made a speech in which he addressed the concerns of those who were worried that his loyalty to his faith may play too large of a role in his presidency if elected. (which can be read here)

in it he references jesus christ, god as creator, and so forth. in a recent debate, when the canidates were asked " do you believe the bible is literally true" he answered:

"I believe it's the Word of God...I mean, I might
interpret the Word differently than you interpret the Word,
but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the Word of God.
I don't disagree with the Bible. I try and live by it."

again, this sounds like a safe christian answer.

but what is it that mormons believe? are they just another denomination like the baptists, methodists or presbyterians? or are they another branch of christianity like the roman catholic church or the anglicans?

here are some examples of the teachings and beliefs of the church of jesus christ of latter days saints, the mormons:

  • there are many gods, and the head of them rules the universe along with his council
    (joseph smith teachings of the prophet joseph smith pp.348-49)
  • god has wives ("a mother in heaven,") and they live on a planet near a star named kolab.
  • through endless sexual encounters, "elohim" and his wives produce billions of spirit children
  • god has and is limited by a physical body. he is not omnipresent, in fact, it is impossible for him to be in more than one place at once
  • adam is identified as michael the archangel
  • jesus and satan are brothers
  • jesus was given savior status of earth, enraging lucifer, who revolted.
  • jesus was not born of a virgin, because god had sex with mary, which produced jesus
  • jesus was married
  • humans can acheive god status
  • the bible (unless it is the mormon approved version) is incomplete and contains errors, and is only one of four holy books
  • all churches except LDS (mormon) churches are false churches
  • the final judgment is in the presence of jospeh smith, the mormon jesus, and "elohim".
    [sources: book of mormon; mormonism: what you need to know by ed decker; fast facts on false teachings by ron carlson and ed decker; mormonism unmasked by r. phillip roberts, and mormons answered verse by verse by david a. reed and john r. farkas]

at the bare minimum, to be a christian one has to confess that:

  • there is but one god, who exists in three persons (father, son, and holy spirit)
  • jesus was/is god incarnate-born of a virgin
  • there is no salvation outside of faith in jesus christ- and only those who place their faith in him will be saved

mormonism denies all three of these. there is obviously much more to the mormon faith than outlined above, but just from scratching the surface we can see that mormonism is not a part, branch, or denomination of christianity.

does that mean we cant be friends with mormons? of course not. i have had and currently do have mormon friends who are genuinely nice, caring, and wonderful friends.

does that mean christians cannot vote for mitt romney for president. i dont think so. [*however, this post or its content should not be viewed as an endorsement for or against voting for romney]

what it does mean is that when we have conversations with people who are discussing mr. romney or any mormon, that we do not let it slide when people equate mormonism with christianity. we should do so in love and with gentleness, but we should make sure that there is no confusion. mormons-the church of jesus christ of latter day saints are no more christian than muslims, buddhists, or jehovah's witnesses.
so let us be compelled to love them by sharing the true gospel with them.

for further reading see sources cited above as well as:
1) solving the mormon puzzle dvd by the north american mission board
2) john devito, former mormon, has a blog here

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

more on the "compass.."

dr. albert mohler, president of the southern baptist theological seminary writes on the controversial movie, "the golden compass" on his blog.

it is well worth the read and is an example of how to handle "controversy" without adding to it.