Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 1, 2009

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4
I am glad that Jesus said "every word". I am also glad that He didn't say, "Man does not live on bread alone but on almost every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Apparently, Jesus believed in the inerrancy of the Word. Evidently He was confident that the Word of God was inspired and reliable.
Alex McFarland, in his book "The Ten Most Common Objections to Christianity" says, "Biblical writers use phrases such as 'Thus saith the Lord' or "The word of the Lord came to me saying.....' at least 600 times. In total, there are around 3,000 references of the Bible as a whole, or at least a part of it, as being the Word of God. Keep in mind that none of the writers collaborated on their works. This wasn't a Bible Boys Club where everyone brainstormed book ideas. There were years - sometimes centuries - between writers. Yet it is obvious that each scribe understood the divine interpretation behind other books."
Who would recognize divine inspiration more than one who had experienced it himself?
So, why do some doubt its inspiration? Why are there those who claim it is filled with errors? What are their objections?
Let me deal with some of the so called "errors" of Scripture.
So called error one: Because the Bible doesn't tell us where Cain found his wife, it is suspect.
Skeptics sometimes raise the topic of Cain's wife (Gen. 4:17). So, where did Cain's wife come from? Were there other races of people that the Bible fails to mention? Did aliens come down from a far away galaxy and mingle with humans? Huh? What about that, huh?
What do you say we start with the obvious? Cain married one of his sisters.
But doesn't that violate the biblical commandment against incest? Huh? How about that, huh?
No! The command from Moses that prohibited marrying a close relative did not come until at least 400 years later.
Interesting how these skeptics who often want to undermind the Scriptures in order to banish the foundations of absolute morality, suddenly become moral guardians when it suits their purposes.
"Every promise in the book is mine, every page, every verse every line......."

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29, 2009

"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." Psalm 119:160

Have you ever thought that some of the critical problems that people have with the Bible might actually be in the heart and mind of the critic?
Yesterday in my message I mentioned several attitudes that people have toward the Scriptures:
1) It Is A Storybook - The Bible is filled with dramatic stories but it can't be taken seriously.
2) It Is A Spiritual Scam - Devious men wrote the Bible to gain control over people's hearts
and minds.
3) It Is Sacred Literature - The Bible should be revered as a holy book, like the Koran or
others religious writings.
4) It Is A Smorgasbord - Some who believe in the Bible pick and choose the parts that they
and reject the parts that make them uncomfortable. They make the
Bible work for them.
5) It Is Spirit-Inspired - What the Word says about itself is God inspired every word and there
are no errors.
Whichever view of the Scriptures you adopt will obviously influence how you view the accuracy and veracity of the Bible. If you approach the Bible from any of the first four positions you will be prone to reading into the Scriptures rather than reading from them.
If you are skeptical about the truth of God's Word and believe it is prone to error, I ask you to extend the same courtesy that is extended to a witness in a courtroom. Listen to the testimony it gives in its own behalf.
"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." Psalm 119:160
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness....." II Timothy 3:16
Here's what Jesus said about the Bible:
".....Scripture cannot be broken" John 10:35
"I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Matthew 5:18
It is clear from theses verses and a number of others that Jesus fully believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God. So, if you cannot believe in Jesus and doubt what He believed about the Bible.
So, here are a couple of things to ponder today:
Am I reading into the Bible or am I reading out of it?
Am I treating the Word of God like a smorgasbord?
Honest answers to those questions could radically change your relationship to the Word.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28, 2009

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Psalm 119:9-16

If I have not yet made the case for the truth and reliability of God's Word, let me try one more time. First, let's review. The evidence we have presented to this point:

1) Fulfilled Prophecies - every prophecy concerning Jesus was fulfilled completely.

2) Historical Accuracy - if measured by the same standards as other commonly accepted ancient
documents, the Bible would fare well.

3) Miraculous Preservation - for ages the Scriptures have been under attack by kings, emperors, and czars. These tyrants have tried to destroy copies if the Bible, killed the people who printed them, and arrested those who possessed them. Still, the Scriptures not only survived, but remain a number one best-seller!
4) Unity of Structure - The Bible was written over 1,500 years by 40 different writers in three different languages on three continents and yet there is a single theme - the redeeming love of God!
5) The Influence for Good - It can easily be documented that everywhere the Bible has been honored and taught, the social climate and culture have been superior to non-biblical cultures. That has been true throughout biblical history. No other sacred writing has impacted history to a greater extent than the Bible.
So, faith in the Bible is well-founded. However, there is one more convincing and powerful proof for the veracity of the Word. What is it? It is the proof of a changed life!
When someone begins to study and believe and live by Biblical truths, that life changes dramatically. People who used to be hateful, suddenly become loving. Why? The power of the Word? People who once were very selfish, suddenly begin devoting their lives to serve others. Why? The power of the Word. The Word of God has tranforming power!
How can you see that power in your life?
Love the Word
Is the Word of God a controlling passion in your life? Do you love it more than life itself? Light the Psalmist, you should delight in His Word. When you do it will transform your heart and mind.
Learn the Word
The Psalmist hid God's Word in his heart. That takes time and effort and study. Read it. Memorize it. When you do it will transform your heart and mind.
Lean on the Word
What do you depend on when you have to make a tough decision? Where do go to find strength during a difficult time? When you need encouragement, where do you go to find it? Jesus leaned on the Word - even though He WAS the Word! When you lean on the Word you will find it transforms your life.
Live the Word
If you are a believer in Christ and a lover of the Word, I am guessing that you chose that way because of a significant person in your life who lived out the Word. For me it was a man named Ralph Westafer. He lived out the Word so well and with such passion that it was hard NOT to believe in the Word. I'll bet you know someone like that.
Will you commit to become someone like that?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27, 2009

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34

Even in this secularized "post-Christian" age in which we find ourselves, still virtually every home in America has at least one copy of the Bible. It remains a best seller and has sold billions of copies since 1800, having been translated in over 1,000 languages and dialects.
There is no question that the Bible has been the most influential book in human history as well as the best and biggest seller. It is hard to assess the profound impact the Bible has had on the moral, spiritual and even political development of the West.
The Bible has had a profound influence on the diverse cultures of Europe and the British Isles, the Americas, Australia and Africa, and has even left an imprint on Asia. It is a book that has inspired the whole range of human emotion and experience, including some of the finest art and literature.
With that in mind it brings us to the sixth in our series of proofs for the validity of the Bible:
Six, The Universal Influence of the Bible
Most of us know about the Protestant Reformation in early 16th century, but efforts to spread "the Word" actually began many centuries earlier.

Already by the 14th century disgust with the decadence and corruption of the Church began to create a grass-roots movement of rebellion. One of the earliest acts of defiance was an attempt on the part of several individuals to return the Christian world to its pure roots by re-introducing the Bible to the common man.

In both northern Europe and England illegal copies of the Bible were printed and distributed in the local vernacular. One such version, produced in England in the late 14th century by Oxford theologian, John Wycliffe, had this in its preface:

The Bible is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The people responsible for these "illegal" translations were persecuted and a few of them, such as Jan Hus of Bohemia, were put to death for heresy.

New technology was also to play a major role in the in the spread of the Bible. In 1453, in Guttenberg, Germany, the printing press was invented. Before the advent of this invention every book was hand copied, often by monks. This made books both rare and expensive. The printing press could not only produce books at a much faster rate, but it also dramatically lowered the cost of each book. It's no accident that the first book printed in Guttenberg was the Bible. The translation of the Bible into local languages and its mass-production via the printing press led to an explosion in both its popularity and impact.

The 16th century saw tremendous religious changes in Europe: Martin Luther founded a new Christian denomination called Protestantism. The focus of this new movement was primarily to protest against the material excesses of the Catholic Church and re-infuse Christianity with its Biblical spirit.

In 1538 Henry VIII also broke away from Catholicism and founded The Church of England. He issued a proclamation that a copy of the Bible be placed in every Church in England and public reading of the Bible became a regular feature of church worship.

Many other countries followed suit, abandoned the Catholic Church, and became Protestant.

Protestant theologians, realizing that the true religious and ethical spirit of Christianity came from within the Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) put strong emphasis on the individual's right and responsibility to go directly to the Bible and use it as the moral guidebook.
There can be no argument that as the Bible became more accessible to common men, it became more widely read. The desire to read the Bible led to the an increase in literacy. The inspiration of Biblical truths and concepts birthed great works of art and literature and music. Of the world's most prized paintings, 117 depict Bible characters and themes. Renowned composers such as Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Handel were inspired by the lofty themes of the Bible and incorporated those themes in their musical masterpieces.
As Americans, we need only to look to our Founding Fathers and the foundational documents of our great republic to see the profound impact of Biblical truths, concepts and values in the formation of our liberties. Not only does our freedom arise from these principles but also the means of protecting those freedoms as well.
Impressive as these facts may, they only scratch the surface of the impact of the Bible on Western culture. No other book can make such a claim, whether it be a religious book or a secular tome. Why is this so? We believe it is because the Bible is the Word of God.
The B-I-B-L-E, that's the book for me!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 26, 2009

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...." II Timothy 3:14-16
Anyone who has written a book will testify to how difficult that is. Mark Twain said, "There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written -- it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself."
Not many have written better than Mark Twain, so when he testifies to how hard it is to write a book, people listen.
Can you imagine a book written by over forty different writers each being true to his style and having that book end up with a central common theme? That would be an amazing coincidence. Or would it?
Another one of the solid pieces of evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible is that fact that it was written my multiple authors over a long period of time and yet focusing on one clear central theme. Consider this evidence:
Five, The Structure of the Bible
The remarkable structure of the Bible should also be stressed. Although it is a collection of 66 books, written by 40 or more different men over a period of 2,000 years, it is clearly one Book, with perfect unity and consistency throughout.

The individual writers, at the time of writing, had no idea that their message was eventually to be incorporated into such a Book, but each nevertheless fits perfectly into place and serves its own unique purpose as a component of the whole. Anyone who diligently studies the Bible will continually find remarkable structural and mathematical patterns woven throughout its fabric, with an intricacy and symmetry incapable of explanation by chance or collusion.

The one consistent theme of the Bible, developing in grandeur from Genesis to Revelation, is God's great work in the creation and redemption of all things, through His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible was written in different places: Moses in the wilderness. Jeremiah in a dungeon. Daniel on a hillside and in a palace. Paul inside prison walls. John in exile on the barren Isle of Patmos. The authors wrote during different moods. Some from the heights of joy and others from the depths of sorrow and despair. They wrote it on three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe in 3 languages, Hebrew, the language of Canaan, Aramaic, the common language of the near East until Alexander the Great and Greek, the international language at the time of Christ.
The subject matter includes 100's of controversial topics, yet the biblical authors spoke with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. There is one unfolding story, God's salvation of man. F.F. Bruce "The writings belong to a greats variety of literary types. They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, memoirs and diaries..... For all that there is unity which binds the whole together.
How do forty different writers writing over 16 centuries in a variety of places compile a book that focuses like a laser beam on the story of redemption of a sinful human race by a merciful and loving God? Maybe their thoughts weren't their thoughts. Perhaps the ideas, and the thoughts were planted in their spirits by the Holy Spirit?
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness......"
That would would make God's Word - well...... God's word!

June 25, 2009

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Mark 13:31
How about some more evidence of the veracity of the Bible? So far we have given three examples and today I will offer a fourth, the amazing survival of the Bible despite continual relentless vicious attacks aimed against it.
Four, The Miraculous Survival of Scripture
French humanist, Voltaire, (1700) boastfully proclaimed, "one hundred years from now the world will hear no more of the Bible." Yet, in the year of his boast, the British museum purchased a manuscript of the Greek New Testament for $500,000 while the first edition of Voltaire's new book sold for eight cents a copy! Furthermore, fifty years after the death of Voltaire, Bibles were being printed by the Geneva Bible Society in the very house where Voltaire lived and on his own printing press!

Late 7th Century B.C.--King Johioakim of Judah threw the scoll of Jeremiah's prophecy into the fire; however, God simply had his prophet write the same words again with additional material (Jeremiah 36:21-32).

William Tyndale (1500), after the invention of the printing press, put the Bible in his common language. Priests and bishops burned thousands of copies of his translation as a "burnt offering most pleasing to the Almighty God". He too was burned at the stake. His last words were, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes!" Less than three years after that, King Henry VIII authorized the publication of the Great Bible. This version was a combination of the Tyndale Bible and that of Miles Coverdale. A copy was chained to every pulpit in England so that everyone could read it.
Mid-20th century--A patient in an American hospital in Turkey was given a Bible. When dismissed from the hospital, he took the Bible back to his hometown in Turkey and proudly showed it to his friends. A muslim teacher* snatched it from him, tore out its pages and threw them into the street. The young man was afriad to pick them up. A passing grocer, however, did and took them and used them for wrapping paper. Before long, they were scattered all over the town. His costumers read the pages and returned to him for more. In a few days the entire Bible was distributed to interested readers. When a Bible salesman came to town, he was surprised to find a hundred people eager to purchase the Word of God!
Doesn't it seem that Someone wants the Word to survive? Could it be the same Someone Who declared, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
Doesn't it also seem evident that someone else doesn't want it to survive? Could that be the powers of darkness, those enemies of God who fear the Truth and want to keep us ignorant?
Guess who is winning!?
God, the Holy Spirit, has inspired the Word. God, the Son, became the Word. God, the Father, has miraculously preserved the Word.
So, what will you do with it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 24, 2009

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." Isaiah 40:22

Third, Scientific Accuracy

Many people have been conditioned to think that science and Scripture are incompatible. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Centuries before medieval scholars had figured out the world wasn't flat, the Bible announced its curvature. (Isaiah 40:22) Numerous other scientific principles are announced in the Scriptures long before they were discovered and confirmed by scientific methods.

Consider these amazing revelations:

* The roundness of the earth (see Isaiah 40:22)

* The almost infinite extent of the universe (see Isaiah 55:9)

* Law of conservation of mass and energy (see II Peter 3:7)

* The hydrologic cycle (see Eccles. 1:7)

* Vast number of stars (see Jeremiah 33:22)

* The law of increasing entropy (see Psalm 102:25-27)

* The vital importance of blood in life processes (see Lev. 17:11)

* Atmospheric circulation (see Eccles. 1:6)

* The gravitational field (Job 26:7)

None of these revelations are couched in technical scientific jargon, but nonetheless, they bring to light facts about the universe that were not previously known. How were these advanced scientific truths revealed? Even though they would not be widely studied or understood for centuries, God's Word reveals them in various portions of Scripture.

How did these ancient writers know these elements of nature when they had not studied them and when they were not readily known? Lucky guess? I don't think so!

They could only know these natural truths if they were divinely revealed by One Who is supernatural!

If God could reveal these facts centuries before they were proven by accepted scientific methods, maybe He can be trusted to inspire the rest of the Scriptures, too! Since He was right in these predictions, maybe we can trust His veracity in the other Books of Scripture!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to believe in God's Word!

June 23, 2009

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."
Luke 1:1-4

Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke, was a well-respected physician in his day. He wasn't the kind who takes wooden nickels. Luke wasn't afraid to ask the hard question and was in a constant search for truth. His Gospel is written to give a historical documentation of the truth of this new faith called Christianity. Since his primary audience was the Greeks, he had to make sure his arguments were solid and proven. He did. They are!
That brings us to our second proof of the authenticity of the Bible:
Second, Historical Accuracy
Quoting Alex McFarland, "The historical accuracy of the Scriptures is in a class by itself, far superior to the written records of Egypt, Assyria, and other ancient nations. Archeological confirmations of the biblical record have been almost innumerable in the last century."
Dr. Nelson Glueck, is regarded by many as the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology. He observed, "No archeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confim in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible."
Here are a few of the document archeological finds that support biblical claims:
Old Testament discoveries:
The city of Jericho (by the way, the walls DID fall in)
The city of Nineveh
Ur, which had Ziggurats (similar to what scholars had imagined the Tower of Babel would have resembled)
Babylon, a clay fragment was unearthed there with the following inscription referring to one particular ziggurate: "Offended the gods, was destroyed at night....people scattered with speech made strange." (sound familiar?)
Meggido, the failure to discover this city was cited as a criticism against the authenticity of the Old Testament. But guess what? It was recently discovered and was found to be where, indeed, Solomon kept his stables for 450 horses. (See I Kings 9 and II Chronicles 8)
This is just a partial list, but impressive historical documentation for any open-minded researcher.
Want some New Testament historical evidence?
The following places referenced in the New Testament have been verified by archeological finds:
Cana - in 725 A.D. an inscription was found referencing "Cana, near Nazareth" and referring to the "miracle of the wine."
Again, this is only a partial list of the archeological documentations.
Skeptics, atheists, and agnostics put their confidence in historical records and manuscripts far less documented than the Old and New Testaments. So, faith ultimately becomes and issue of the heart not the head.
For those of you who have given your hearts to Jesus, here is some good stuff to wrap your head around!

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22, 2009

"Jesus said, 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.'" Matthew 24:35
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
As Wesleyans, we believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Here is our official statement: "We believe that the books of the Old and New Testaments constitute the Holy Scriptures. They are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts and superior to all human authority, and have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any essential doctrine. We believe that they contain all things necessary to salvation; so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man or woman that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. Both in the Old and New Testaments life is offered ultimately through Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and humanity. The New Testament teaches Christians how to fulfill the moral principles of the Old Testament, calling for loving obedience to God made possible by the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit."
How can you confidently embrace this strong statement about the Bible?
In my posts this week I want to share some convincing proofs of the authenticity of the Scriptures.
The First Proof Is Fulfilled Prophecies
Astronomy and mathematics professor, Peter Stoner, was a long time skeptic of the Bible. He set out to prove himself right by conclusively discrediting the Bible. The litmus test of sacred writings is the accuracy of their prophecies. Stoner focused on 48 Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. Of the 48 he concentrated on 8. Using the principles of mathematical probability, he calculated that the odds of all 8 of those prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. However, the chances of all 48 being fulfilled in a single person is 1 in 10 to the 157th power!
Since the evidence of these prophecies and their fulfillment are specific and verifiable, Professor Stoner convinced himself that Jesus was Who He said He was and the Old Testament is completely reliable! He was left with no other choice but to become a believer in Christ AND the Bible!
God has always taken His Word very seriously and set a high standard for those who would make a prophecy and claim that it was from God. Prophecies had to be 100% true and happen precisely as predicted. It not, that prophet was adjudged to be a fake and was then stoned.
Compare that lofty standard to the vague and often erroneous prophecies offered by the likes of Jeanne Dixon, Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce, who are often held in high regard by the very people who question the authenticity of Scripture.
Even a modicum of intellectual honesty would demand that those who give credence to Dixon, Nostradamus or Cayce, extend the same serious consideration to the Biblical prophets.
We believe in the absolute veracity of the Scriptures because they originate in the mind of God and reflect His character. These words and prophecies and truths were given to godly men who feared God. They were transmitted by God's Holy Spirit to Spirit-inspired men of God. Many of these godly men who spoke these truths and wrote them down, often did so at great personal sacrifice and suffering. If their intentions were to deceive others, they paid a high price to propagate a deception.
Despite the many attacks on the authenticity of the Bible, no serious claim against the truthfulness of the Scripture has ever been conclusively documented. In fact, there is considerable evidence supporting the claims of the Word. Hundreds of prophecies have already been fulfilled and not one has ever failed to be true.
You can bet your life on the Word of God! (and your eternity)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20, 2009

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
When Tiger Woods steps on the first tee this morning for his second round of the U. S. Open, I'm sure he will have some fond memories of his father, Earl, who died two years ago.
I know it is a huge leap to switch from thoughts about Noah to Earl Woods, who never gave any indication of having a faith. But, he did raise a champion, so there may be some things we can learn about raising champions for God.
Earl guided and motivated Tiger in his rise to the top of the golf world and has been the driving force behind the Tour's exponential growth and popularity. At Kansas State in the early 1950s he was the first black baseball player in what was then the Big Seven Conference, and he was a Green Beret who served two tours in Vietnam.

"I'm overwhelmed when I think of all the great things he accomplished," Woods said on his website. "He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldn't be where I am today without him."
In the summer of 1993, Earl Woods brought his son to Butch Harmon, another Vietnam vet, to see if Harmon could help make Tiger Woods a better golfer.

"Earl Woods was a great dad," Harmon says. "He always had his son's best interest at heart. He did everything he could do to see that his son got the best help he could get."

Harmon said he and the elder Woods came to an agreement shortly after the first meeting at Lochinvar Golf Club in Houston, where Harmon was the pro. Earl brought Tiger to Harmon after Tiger had been eliminated in the U.S. Amateur at Champions in Houston.

"I told Earl this wouldn't work if I told Tiger one thing and he told him another," Harmon recalls. "He said, 'I'll make you a deal. I won't tell you how to teach Tiger golf if you won't tell me how to be Tiger's dad.' "

A year later Tiger won the first of three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. In his career, he has displayed mental and physical skills seldom seen in any golfer. He has 67 career wins, including 14 majors as a pro.

In an excerpt published in USA WEEKEND, Earl said he had Tiger hearing jazz music when he was 5 days old. As Tiger lay in the crib, Earl would say, "Daddy loves you. I am here for you." By the time Tiger was 2, Earl was drilling him on mental toughness, "an outgrowth of my upbringing and my years as a Green Beret."

"I pulled every nasty, dirty, obnoxious trick on him," Earl wrote. He tossed balls in front of Tiger while he putted. He dropped bags of clubs behind Tiger when he hit tee shots. He'd cough during the backswing.

"I played with his mind," Earl wrote.
Earl cautioned that his approach wasn't for every father and every son but it worked because he and Tiger had a special bond, built from the beginning.

"The best thing about those practices was that my father always kept it fun," Tiger wrote. "It's amazing how much you learn when you truly enjoy doing something."
Harmon says when Earl brought Tiger to him he learned two things pretty quickly: Earl's son was very talented, and they didn't have much money.

"I made an agreement with Earl that I'd work with Tiger for nothing until he became a pro," Harmon says. "Then they'd have to pay me."

Here's the point, Earl decided from the beginning that his son would be a champion and he raised him to be one. He ingrained that expectation within Tiger's soul and gave him the tools and the tutelage to make it happen.

Not every child will have the skills and talent of Tiger, but every dad can have the goal and determination of Earl.

To summarize, here's how Earl "trained up Tiger in the way he should go":

1) He started immediately and bonded with his son

2) He connected him early with expectations and dreams

3) He taught, trained and toughened Tiger as far as he could

4) He put Tiger in the hands of an expert so he could refine his talents

5) He kept it fun and enjoyable - Earl took the dream seriously but kept the learning fun

What are you doing to raise champions for Christ? Maybe there's something you can learn from a champion dad!

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19, 2009

"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." Matthew 24:37-39
I hope you're not "Noahed" out yet. There is a lot to learn from this guy and the more I study about him the more he impresses me. He really did "man up".
We have talked about how Noah pleased God and how he protected his family. This morning I want to focus on how he preserved the human race. If he had not "manned up" we would be as extinct as the dinosaurs.
What we can learn from Noah is especially timely in our day because Noah's day looked strikingly similar to nowadays. In fact, Jesus pointed to the days of Noah as one the signs of end times. So, pay attention!
Here's what we can take away from Noah:
Noah Received the Truth
"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen...." Heb. 1:7
Noah didn't suddenly show up and decide to build a boat. He didn't wake up one day and read the weather report. God needed a "go to" guy that He could count on for an enormously important assignment. It wasn't like God had a lot of options. Noah stood out like a beacon in the darkness. While everyone else was partying like sin, Noah was honoring God.
Because Noah revered the truth, he recognized the truth and, therefore, was able to receive the truth. God commended Noah as a righteous man BEFORE he built the ark! That's why he got the gig.
So, what's your relationship to the truth of God? Could God count on you to "man up" if He needed to count on you? (By the way - He does)
Noah Recognized the Times
"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." Matthew 24:37-39
God noticed how rotten things had become. So had Noah. Only those who are righteous and holy will recognize evil. And they are the only ones who care. From what we see in Scripture accounts it was all-party all the time. Debauchery was more common than decency. Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Noah were the only ones who bothered to do the right things. Surrounded by evil, they never surrendered to evil.
If you have ever wondered whether one person can make a difference in the midst of prevailing evil the answer is "yes"! It doesn't take a lot of righteous people to turn the tide, but it does take committed ones. Noah was the one man difference between the extinction of the human race and the will of God.
Jesus reminds us to be like Noah in recognizing the times and in responding to them. And remember that one man who "mans up" + God = a majority.
Noah Rose to the Task
".....in holy fear built an ark...." Heb. 11:7
Now that Noah was aware of the impending disaster, he had a choice. He could learn to tread water or he could build a boat. He had no experience with either, but he knew that when God calls you to a task He equips you and instructs you. It was never about Noah's ability but his availability and it is never about your ability either. God will always call you to God-sized tasks and challenges you to "man up" with His power.
Noah dedicated a significant portion of his life to accomplishing the task that would please God, protect his family and preserve humanity. Every morning for over 100 years he got up and cut timbers, and pounded nails, and poured pitch. He was faithful to the task, one hour at a time. While everyone else was playing and partying, Noah was punching the time clock.
Heroes happen one obedient task at a time. That's how you "man up".
You are not the only godly man in town, like Noah was. But your love of the truth and your awareness of the time and your faithfulness to the task is just as crucial to your corner of the world as Noah's was.
Thank God for Noah! What a man!
As you celebrate this Father's Day week-end why not honor manhood by learning from Noah. I challenge you to commit as he did to please God, protect his family and preserve rightousness in your generation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 18, 2009

"This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth." Genesis 6:9-10
"The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation." Genesis 7:1
"On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark." Genesis 7:13
When it comes to examples of fatherhood, father Noah's best! He is a great demonstration of what a godly man looks like. As I mentioned in the previous posts, Noah shows us how to "man up" by three exemplary things he did:
1) He pleased God
2) He protected his family
3) He preserved the human race
Yesterday I commented on how Noah pleased God. This morning I want to show you how he protected his family.
First, Noah walked with God.
Walking with God brings God's protection on Noah, and therefore, helps Noah protect his wife and children. As the husband and father, he is the head of his family. When the head of the family is under the umbrella of God's blessing and protection it benefits the entire family.
Also, walking with God gave Noah access to God's word and wisdom. Therefore, he was able to know God's will. Not only did Noah walk in God's will, but he shared God's word with his wife and his children. There is no safer place to be than in the center of God's will. No more secure place to lead your family.
Second, Noah worked with God.
Think about what God asked Noah to do. God called Noah to build a boat to preserve his family from a flood that would be caused by 40 days of rain. That is a big job for someone who had some experience building a boat, but it is an impossible task for a farmer who had never seen a boat - or for that matter - rain.
Scientists tell us that prior to the Flood, the earth was surrounded by a thick layer of water vapor that shielded it from direct ultraviolet rays and provided a uniform climate around the world. Apparently God created a climate-controlled planet. Every morning the earth was watered by a heavy due. It had never rained - there was no need for it. Scientists also speculate that it was the rapid condesation of that water vapor that contributed to the massive amounts of water that covered the earth.
Here is why Noah is listed as a man of faith, he obeyed a God he had never seen to build something he had never seen, to prepare for something he had never seen, in order to save his family. That is impressive. The only way a man can do a work like that is when that man walks with God. Noah did.
Third, Noah witnessed for God.
In the midst of a wicked world where no one else was worshipping or walking with God, Noah's walk and work was a strong witness to his faith. His life was a bright light in a dark world. While he worked on the ark he warned his neighbors of the impending judgment from God. Noah faithfully witnessed each day that he pounded nails and poured pitch in the construction of the ark. While his witness was seemingly lost on all the neighbors, it wasn't lost on his wife and his three sons. He brought them into faith before he brought them into the ark.
Noah "manned up" by walking with God and working for God and witnessing for God. He didn't save the world, but he saved his world - his family. What more can a man want?
What are you doing to "man up" for your family?

June 17, 2009

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6
So far this week I have talked about the need to have a godly man whom you can model your life after. I said that you need to "see one to be one".
Yesterday I identified one such man, Noah, of the Old Testament. He is the first man on record to have a boat, a real big boat. And he may have been the last guy who could really afford a boat. Anyway, I mentioned three manly things that I admire about Noah and this morning I want to talk about the first of those three.
The first manly thing that Noah did was to please God.
Our current model of manhood says, "Go after whatever pleases you. Life is about the pursuit of pleasure."
It was precisely because of that attitude that Noah had to build the Ark. Everyone other man on the face of the earth was living for pleasure and doing whatever he pleased. That did not please God. In fact, it so offended the holiness of God that He decided to send a flood and wash away all the wickedness.
Enter, Noah.
In stark contrast to all the wicked men chasing their lusts, God saw Noah living life to please God. That was all He needed - just one good man who was committed to pleasing God.
As men, you and I have people we have to please. You'd better please the wife and the family and you'd better please the boss. Those are givens. But above all, the primary way to "man up" is to please God.
So, how do I do that?
Let's learn from a man who did it.
First, to "man up" takes faith. ".....without faith it is impossible to please God...."
Everyone believes in something, so by definition, everyone has some sort of faith. But Noah knew that his faith needed to be anchored in God. For Him, God, who was unseen, had to be more real than the people and things he did see. That takes a spiritual connection with God. Noah had that, and he had it because he was righteous. It is sin that separates us from God and clouds our spiritual vision. Noah keep sin out of his life and remained righteous. How did he do that? By obeying God. God is pleased when we demonstrate our devotion to Him by doing what we know He wants us to do. It takes a real man to live out the invisible in visible ways. Noah did - and it floated his boat!
Second, to "man up" you need to "diligently seek Him".
Everyone is seeking something. Some men chase fame. Some chase fortune. Some chase females. Noah chased God. He was not content having God as a casual acquaintance. The more he discovered about God, the more he wanted to know. He believed in a personal God Who knows us and wants to be known by us. Noah understood that there is a God-shaped hole in the center of our being that nothing else can fill or satisfy. When the world around him was living like hell, Noah was chasing heaven. That takes a real man!
Third, to "man up" you need to believe that pleasing God is life's greatest reward. Every guy has his eyes on some prize. The prize may be a position or a promotion. It might be a pleasure or a possession. But the real question is, "when I get this prize, will it be worth it"? If you are going to devote blood, sweat, tears, and time to win a prize, you better hope you don't get disappointed. Noah wasn't disappointed by pleasing God. Noah, at this very moment is enjoying his reward. Actually, so are we! Because he chose to obey God and build the Ark, he survived - and so did we. Noah got the earthly prize AND the eternal prize.
The best way to "man up" is to please the "MAN". Noah shows you how, so you have no excuse. "Man up"!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16, 2009

I am glad I grew up in the era that I did because we had real men back then. We had John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Kirk Douglas, Stan "The Man" Musial, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Mr. Clean AND - the Marlboro Man. You didn't mess with those guys. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old dude, I've got to ask, "Where are these guys today?" Manly men are few and far between these days. What ever happened to testosterone?

From where I am sitting, manhood has drifted into two extremes - the feminization of manhood and the fantasizing of manhood. On the one side we have the GQ, Calvin Klein, and Adam Lambert image of manhood, while the other extreme is the James Bond image of a macho, muscle-bound dude driving a hot machine and making it with hot mamas.

Where does that leave the rest of us who don't want to get waxed and have no desire to go wild and womanize. Square in the middle?

As one square to another, let me offer another face to manhood. Allow me to direct your attention to Noah from the Old Testament account in Genesis. Here is a man who "floats my boat". I focus on Noah because if he had not "manned up" we would be not having this conversation.

Hebrews summarizes his life like this:

"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." Hebrews 11:7

My image of manhood is a guy like Noah. I don't know what he looked like but I am thinking Sean Connery-ish. It doesn't matter so much how he looked but it is more about what he did. From this one verse we see some impressive stuff:

1) He pleased God

2) He protected his family

3) He preserved the human race

That resume works for me! What will you do today that will please God? What are your plans to protect your marriage and your family today?
Over the next few posts I want to challenge you to focus on manhood from a faith perspective.
Ready to "man-up"?

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15, 2009

"When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel." I Kings 2:1-4
Solomon knew how to be a man because he had seen the example of a man in his father, King David. There really is a lot of truth in the statement, "To be a man you have to see a man."
We are visual people. What we see and where we fix our focus and what we visualize influences us. I go on various golf instructional websites and watch videos of good golfers swinging the golf club so I can fix that image in my mind. My body can't produce a good swing if my mind hasn't memorized one.
There never would have been a Tiger Woods if there hadn't been a Jack Nicklaus and there wouldn't have been a Jack if there hadn't been a Ben Hogan and there wouldn't have been a Ben Hogan if there hadn't been a Bobby Jones. They became great golfers because they saw great golfers.
I never had the benefit of a father to watch as I was growing up. My dad was never around and my step-father was not involved. What I learned from them was how not to do the "dad thing". Early in my live I decided to try to be like my Heavenly Father and different from my earthly fathers.
God was faithful to put some men in my path to help model manhood and fatherhood. I am eternally grateful to men like Ralph Westafer and Jim Poyner and Ray Lyne and Paul Mills and Steve Wright and Forrest Gearhart who helped me know what a godly man looked like. They let me see one so I could be one. Not only did I become a better man because of their examples, my boys became better men because of what I gleaned from these men. They influenced at least two generations - probably more.
Did I want to be like my father? No. Would I want my boys to be like me? Yes, except better. And I owe that to these guys and others.
So, if there are any men reading this post today, my challenge is this - "Be one so others can see one."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 14, 2009

"That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1:7-8
Can a Christian believe in evolution? Is it possible for the two ideas about our origins to be reconciled or melded into a coherent explanation? Could God have used evolution to create the world?
Let's take a logical think about that.
Obviously, a confessed believer fully accepts the biblical account of creation as conclusive truth. To believe otherwise would be to conclude that part of the Bible is untrue. That doesn't work because if any of the Word is untrue then all of it is untrue. So, that presents a HUGE problem.
For Christians, the final arbiter of faith is the Bible, the Word of God. Does the Bible answer this question? Did God anticipate this debate and offer us some guidance?
Yes, He did!
In addition to the Genesis account of creation, consider these Scripture references:
* In Mark 10:6, Jesus quotes from a Genesis passage when He says, "From the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female'."
God didn't "morph" them or evolve them, He hand made them!
* Paul writes in Colossians 1:16-17, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."
* John 1:10 explains, "He [Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not."
Still not convinced? Let me ask you a couple of questions. Why would you not want to accept the biblical account of creation with God as the Creator? If you know Him you know He is well able to create anything He desires. Evolution at best, marginalizes God's handiwork and at worst it denies it. Why would you want to do that?
Let's let Jesus have the final word on this issue. As usual, He asks this probing question, "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings , how will you believe My words?
So, what part of "God created" don't you understand?

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 13, 2009

"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God." Psalm 14:1
One of the big themes of this week's posts has been the contention that behind the push for Evolution and against Creationism is the promotion of an anti-God agenda. Most of the prime movers of this agenda show an arrogance and a ignorance that refuses to acknowledge God and to demean the intelligence of those who do.
When the Psalmist wrote the Psalm I referenced above, he was referring not to the intelligence or the intellect of a person who denies the existence of God and His role in the origin of man, it refers to his morality. The word "fool" means "morally deficient". Question the morality of anyone who denies Creation.
Early attacks in this movement began with attacks on the veracity of the Bible and then challenges to the Christian foundation of our nation. Fortunately, there are still a few courageous and principled men who are willing to stand for the truth. Watch this and be encouraged.
Know what you believe. Know why you believe it. Live like you believe it and stand courageously for it!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 12, 2009

"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." I Corinthians 1:20-21
Evolutionists try to infer that those of us who believe in Creation and Intelligent Design are simple-minded fools. They imply that we are intellectually inferior because we "cling to faith and religious fables".
The purpose of this post is to show that Christians who believe in the Genesis account of Creation do not have to be intimidated by evoluntionists. We ARE people of faith, but it takes a giant leap of faith to embrace the "Big Bang" and evolution as the origins of the universe.
Consider this reference to former atheistic evolutionist, Fred Hoyle, was an astronomer who, in 1953, figured out the preconditions necessary for the formation of carbon. He reasoned that the likelihood of this happening by chance, as the Big Bang theory suggests, were phenomenally low, and this revelation lead him to convert from atheism to a belief that the universe reflects a "purposeful intelligence." Hoyle admitted that the 'probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make the random concept absurd.'" Again, Hoyle's conclusion does not prove that there is a God or an Intelligent Designer; however, it is important to note that Hoyle's intellectual honesty about evolution led him to the conclusion that it, too, required a great act of faith. Hoyle's conclusions then, suggest that it takes as much or more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in a purposeful Designer.1
Hoyle is not alone. Over the past century and a half, paleonologists have examined an estimated 1 billion fossils representing 250,000 to be the oldest in which fossils of living creatures have been found. Interestingly, all of these remians foudn within the Cambrian rocks are fossils of fully formed creatures. Life-complete, fully mature creatures - appears en masse.
This "Cambrian explosion" - the term coined to refer to the puzzling fact that these creatures seemed to have "burst on the scene" -- brings to the surface a fact particularly troubling for the evoluntionary theory. Each of these living forms appears suddenly - completely developed - in fossil record, not through gradual transition as evolution would suggest. Charles Darwin himself recognized that the earth's fossil record does not reveal this long-sought "intermediate varieties." Regarding this complete lack of transitional fossils, Darwin had to admit, "This, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory."
So, with a complete and honest examination of the evidence, it takes a greater leap of faith - and logic - to believe that God did NOT create the universe. Who is the fool and who is the wise man?
1 -"The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity" - Alex McFarland, pp. 58-59