September 29, 2013

The Rollie Fingers Tragedy

My son Luke broke my Rollie Fingers glass. I had this glass since I was seven years old. I couldn't tell you a thing about baseball today, but I can still remember the starting lineup for the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers. That was the year they went to the World Series, and as a boy living in Wisconsin that was a big deal. This glass featured catcher Ted Simmons and legendary relief pitcher Rollie Fingers, the man with the sweetest handlebar mustache since the 1920's.

But Luke wanted something quick, reached in front of his brother's plate, and broke my glass.

All things considered, I did an "okay" job of not exploding at my son. After all, he is just five and these things happen. We explained to him that this glass meant a lot to me and Luke quickly said he was sorry. But what really bothered mealmost more than the glass being brokenwas that it never really sunk in to him that he had wrecked something I valued.

Later on it struck me that this is what our sin is usually like. What I mean is, when we sin, we hardly ever grasp the reality that we have badly damaged something that God deeply values. Even though we say we're sorry, it doesn't sink in what a big deal sin is. When we sin, not only do we hurt people and fracture the wellness of God's creation, but even moremuch morewe trample God's glory. We shatter it by declaring to the universe at that moment that sin is more valuable than God. We devalue God's renown.

This isn't a big deal to us, but it is to Him. It is right for His glory to be a big deal to God. His glory is that valuable. It's valuable, not only to Him but for us as well. For human beings, nothing can bring more ultimate happiness than delighting in God's glory. When we sin, we break that. But God values this so much that He went to the cross to fix the problem. This is love, that Christ would die for those who trample His glory so that we can spend eternity delighting in the One we were made for.

That is a bigger deal than a broken glass from McDonald's.

P.S. By the way, no, you don't need to go on Ebay and find me a replacement. It really isn't that big of a deal. And besides, my Paul Molitor & Pete Vuckovich glass is still fine.

Sharing is Caring

September 19, 2013

If Dead Theologians Were on Money

I don't know what is wrong with me, but I spent my drive home last night thinking about who would be on which bills if we had dead theologians on currency rather than presidents. The really sad part is that I had it all figured out by the time I got homewith justifications.
The rule is that they have to be dead for at least 100 years and they have to have lived after the completion of the New Testament. Here it is:

The One Dollar Bill: Augustine
Both Protestants and Catholics agree that Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430) was the most important theologian in Church history. To honor his foundational  role, Augustine gets the $1.

The Five Dollar Bill: Calvin
John Calvin (1509-1564) gets the 5. This should be obvious.

The Ten Dollar Bill: Luther
Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) deserves an important bill. He gets the 10 in homage to his love/hate relationship with the Law. He would probably find that paradoxical and so he would be okay with it.

The Twenty Dollar Bill: Edwards
The twenty is one of the most commonly used bills, so it needed to be someone sweet. Therefore we have to go with Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). Plus, as a matter of historical fact, Jonathan Edwards' grandson Aaron Burr Jr. shot and killed Alexander Hamilton, so it would be tacky to put Edwards on the $10. Too soon.

The Fifty Dollar Bill: Wesley
I was going to put Charles Hodge (1797-1878) on the $50 to honor the fact that Hodge was the first American theologian to serve as a professor of theology for fifty years. However, I realized that I should throw a bone to the Arminians. Therefore, John Wesley (1703-1791) gets to be on the $50. This is also fitting since Arminians think that salvation is a 50/50 deal. (Boom!)

The One Hundred Dollar Bill: Lewis
We are breaking the rule for C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) because, hey, everyone loves C.S. Lewis. He gets to be on the $100. This way we can call it a C-note. Lewis technically wasn't a theologian, but neither was Benjamin Franklin a president.

The Five Hundred Dollar Bill: Aquinas
The preeminent and rotund scholastic theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) gets to be on the $500. I had him on the $100 but he got bumped so I could make that C-note joke.

The One Thousand Dollar Bill: Anselm
Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury (1033-1109) is responsible for the phrase Credo, ut intelligam which will appear on all theological currency. It is fitting that Anselm gets to be on the $1,000 because he was born around the year 1,000. Also, since the $1,000 is the largest bill that will be produced, it is "that than which no greater can be conceived." (You have to be familiar with the Proslogion to realize that is funny.)

Coins are yet to be decided, but we're going to go all patristic for these. They will all be Church Fathers, prior to Augustine. As a sneak peak, I can tell you that Athanasius will be on the Quarter. He is that important, and it is a nice homage to the Council of Nicea, convened in 325.

I thought about putting Benny Hinn on the penny since his theology isn't worth 2 cents.

Sadly, there are many other great theologians who will be left out:: Ulrich Zwingli, John Owen, Francis Turretin, Charles Spurgeon, and many others. Fortunately, we still have the possibility of issuing a two dollar bill, so keep your hopes up. There will also be a commemorative Zero Dollar Bill with the portrait of Francis of Assisi.

There you have it. And of course, these bills give new meaning to the term "religious denominations."

Sharing is Caring!

September 9, 2013

Honor God With Your Body

I originally wrote this for young people but it pretty much applies to anyone who has a body:

Jesus died a terrible death of the cross to pay the price to save each person who puts their trust in Him. One of the ways that we need to respond to this is by honoring God with our bodies. The Bible talks about this in 1 Corinthians 6:

This passage starts with Paul correcting some of the false statements that were floating around. In the same way, there are many lies that float around today about sex. The world says things like: 
"It's only sex." 
"If it feels good do it." 
"If you really loved me you would prove it." or, 
"It's my body and I can do whatever I want with it." 
We need to reject these lies and replace them with what God's Word teaches about sex.

God raised Jesus from the dead with a real physical body. He will do the same thing for us one day. This means that bodies do matter. Not only that, it matters what we do with them.

Sex is superglue for the soul. God designed sex to unite two people together, not just physically, but spiritually. And just like superglue, it is designed to be permanent and life-long. So when people have sex and then break up, it is like supergluing your hands together and ripping them apart. Sexual sin has a way of damaging and hurting people differently than other sins. This passage says that even "meaningless" sex with a prostitute makes unites two people together. So never believe the lie that "It's just sex."

This message can be hard to hear for some people. If you have this type of sin in your past, remember to look at the passage that comes right before the ones we just read. This passage lists many sins that disqualify someone from eternal life. But if you have trusted the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you have been washed of these sins. You've been sanctifiedmade holybecause of Christ. You've been justifieddeclared righteous in God's eyesbecause Jesus died on the cross in your place and gives you credit for His righteousness. So accept your forgiveness and start living like the new creation that God has made you!

Sex is like fire. Fire is good! When fire is in your fireplace or where it is supposed to be, it is very good. But if it gets out, it does a lot of damage.

In the same way, sex is good. Sex was created by God. God made Adam and Eve naked in the garden of Eden and told them to be fruitful and multiply. In Genesis 2 we are told that sex causes two people to become one flesh. So, sex is good, when it is where it is supposed to be... in marriage. Sex is for married people. God designed sex for the life-long commitment of one man to one woman. Keep sex in the fireplace. 

If you want to follow Christ and honor Him with your body, here are a few things to help:

You need to be clear that "the line" between purity and immorality comes well before full-on sex. This is especially important these days because some surveys say that teens who pledge to abstain from sex are 4 to 6 times as likely to engage in oral sex or other forms of sex. Their logic is that since this isn't full-on sex, it must be okay. Instead, you need to be clear with yourself that these types of sexual acts are also over the line. Full-on sex is for married people
but so are other things as well. I think that Ezekiel 23:21 (in the graphic above) is helpful to realize this. To put this simply, there are certain parts of the body that you're not supposed to see or touch until you are married. Other things might be over the line as well, but it is clear that "the line" is at least somewhere before the things described in this passage. If in doubt, err on the side of purity. 

Once you realize where the line is, don't be a fool and rush right up to it. Take things as slow as possible. 
Just because something might not be absolutely forbidden does not mean that it is wise. If you are young you probably have a long time before you're going to get married, so take it easy. This will help your relationship as well. The more physical your relationship is, the less it will be about growing your friendship. So the slower you take things physically, the more you can grow your friendship. 

Be wise about when you date. It might seem like everyone in the world thinks you need a steady boyfriend or girlfriend by the time you are in fifth grade, but that isn't true. Remember that your worth as a person is not determined by if you date or who you date. Reject that lie.

When you do date, pay attention to what God's Word says in 1 Cor. 6:14. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." If you think this through, it is so obvious that it shouldn't even need to be in the Bible. If you are a Christian and you want to follow Christ and honor Him with your life, wouldn't you want to date someone who also has Christ as the center of his or her life? If God is your ultimate treasure, would you really want the person you date
and might one day marryto have a different treasure? If you are "in Christ" and someone else is "in Adam" you have different destinies, different loyalties, and different masters. It's not going to work out well. Do you want your kids to have a parent that doesn't love Jesus? This verse is a command, but it is also just plain wise.

Ephesians 5:245-27 is also a great test for the kind of guy you should date
or the kind of guy you should be. Dating leads to marriage, so don't date the kind of guy you wouldn't want to marry one day. Husbands are commanded to love their wives like Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He was willing to suffer and die to save us! Jesus also wants to make us clean. So, a guy who is selfish, or a guy who won't guard your purity is not the kind of guy you want. A guy who really loves you would never say, "If you really love me you would prove it."

And remember not to trust yourself. Don't be a fool. I've know a lot of good Christians who have fallen into sexual sin. It can happen to anyone. If you think it can't happen to you, it probably will.

It is hard to honor Christ with your body. We have a lot of temptation to fight against. It is important to focus on the cross. Remember what Jesus did for you and the valuable price He paid in order to save you. Also remember that as a believer you are united to Christ. Don't drag Him into your sin. Instead, find your identity and strength in Him.

Worship God. I'm not talking about singing. I mean make God your highest treasure. If sexual sin seems valuable to you, fight that temptation by seeing God as even more valuable to you. Don't make sex or another person your idol. Teens often have sex because another person has become their idol and they are willing to sacrifice their purity rather than lose that person. That isn't love and it isn't worth it.

God loves you more than any person ever will. Jesus paid a huge price for you on the cross. He wants the best for you. So honor Him with your body.

Sharing is Caring!

September 5, 2013

The Archer and the Arrow

Since my name is Nate Archer and I have a blog called Stay on Target it is impossible for me not to like a book titled The Archer and the Arrow. This is a book about communicating God’s Word in a way that faithfully delivers God’s truth to people. As the authors state, the task of the preacher is to “preach the gospel by prayerfully expounding the Bible to the people God has given me to love” (22).

The authors use the analogy of an arrow in comparison to a sermon. An arrow has three main parts: the arrowhead, the shaft, and the feathers. The arrowhead is the part of the arrow that does the damage. It is the part that penetrates. In a sermon, this is the part that pierces the heart. This is the part that convicts the listener of the reality of God’s truth and how it impacts their life. However, the authors explain, the arrowhead can’t work on its own. It has to be carried forward by the shaft of the arrow. In a sermon, the shaft is exegesis. This is the careful work of properly drawing out and understanding the real intended meaning of the passage. Finally, the feathers correspond to theology. Good feathers help an arrow to flight straight. In the same way, good theology helps a sermon to fly true. As the authors state, “Because every sermon has feathers attached, whether knowingly or not, one mark that distinguishes the good preacher from other preachers is the ability to understand how the preacher’s own feathers have affected the shaping of his arrows” (66).

The pastor must not only have good arrows, he must also know how to fire the bow. The archer must understand how interference from the wind can keep the arrow from hitting the target. In preaching, this means we must realize that although God’s Word is carried forward by supernatural power, there are still “real world” issues that can hinder communication. For example, it is foolish to ignore the fact that people will have a hard time hearing the truth if they are too cool, too tired, or too hungry to listen. The authors explain, “[In this world] there are many barriers to communication. These barriers range from profound to almost inconsequential. They include things like language and personal relationships—you may choose to ignore everything a preacher says because for some reason you don’t like him . . . or it may be the mundane realities of communication—the PA system is playing up and people can’t actually hear what we are saying” (88). Wisdom involves minimizing unnecessary barriers. 
The challenge is twofold. On the one hand we must resist being seduced by the promise of savvy communication, and on the other we must not resort to using ‘special revelation’ as an excuse for our own ineptitude (91).   
On the other hand—and more importantly—it is critical to realize that communication skills and charm can never reach past the ear to the heart. It is the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit that causes His message to penetrate the heart. That is why preaching must be done with prayer and dependence for God to do what only He can do. We must avoid the temptation of using manipulation to get quick, visible results. It is easy to get people to leave happy and come back with friends if we tell them only what they want to hear. Unfortunately, many preachers today “think we will understand the sheep better by listening to them rather than listening to their creator” (94). It is a tragedy to make the Bible “relevant” to people by making it irrelevant to God. In fact, we don’t need to make the Bible relevant at all. It already is relevant because “it addresses us, as we are, about the problems that most desperately plague us, and provides God’s own remedy for our maladies” (95). The gospel provides the real remedy for our deepest and most real problems. Preach it undiluted, with the confidence that God's power goes with it.

Faithful preaching centers on God’s gospel. It is for God’s glory, not our own. Good preaching exalts God, not the preacher. 
We long to hear people say, ‘He’s a great preacher.’ But we forget that what they are really saying is: ‘He’s a funny guy who possesses natural comedic timing and a winsome smile.’ If we are preaching for the sake of God’s honor, then we will long for our hearers to say, “Jesus is a great Saviour’ not ‘He is a great preacher' (92). 
The Archer and the Arrow is not a comprehensive manual on the art of preaching but it is a solid and foundational book about the heart of preaching. The more a pastor has this heart the more his preaching will stay on target.

Sharing is Caring!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...