Friday, April 18, 2014

How Deep the Father's Love

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed to hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Arms Outstretched



Psalm22

Those hands need nails to keep them in line.

Something must be done.

Those arms must never embrace again.

We saw His arm reach out when He touched the leper, in defiance of our purity laws.

We saw His hands lift the face of an adulterous woman, thwarting our execution of her just sentence.

We saw Him welcome children into His arms, as if one must become like an infant to belong to His kingdom.

We saw Him break bread and divide the fish, as if He were supplying manna from heaven.

We saw His arms beckon sinners to His table, as if by repentance one can wash away the past.

We saw His arms do nothing to stop a sinful woman from anointing Him, as if He were a treasure greater than her priceless perfume.

We saw His arms crack the whip and overturn the tables, as if He were in charge of the temple.

And then we watched Him lead the blind and the lame inside, as if God's house were for the broken and weary.

His hands are tainted, unwashed, defiled.

His hands, just like His speeches, are always about Him. He never ceases to point to Himself.

As if He were the only way. As if He alone has truth. As if He alone gives life.

His arms are open to anyone (anyone!) who will repent, and yet He bars the door from those of us who need no repentance.

No more.

Those cursed arms must be pinned down. Those hands must be stilled. Those wrists must be bound.

If He is so determined to stretch out His arms, let them be stretched out and nailed to the tree.

Perhaps then His embrace of sinners will end. Perhaps then people will understand true holiness. Perhaps then purity and righteousness will reign.

But wait, what is He saying?

Who is He talking to?

Father, forgive?

He is praying. Yes, He is praying... for us.

See Him there, with arms outstretched. His hands are speaking again.

This time, they beckon us to come. To trade our taunts for tears. Our efforts for His accomplishment. Our debts for His inheritance.

Before His cross we kneel. Here He is enthroned, hovering over us, arms outstretched, His shadow covering our sin. Blessing in His blood.

Arms outstretched, His broken body fills the threshold. The narrow door of repentance is open to the world. 

Parchment & Pen Blog


CHRISTIANITY, THE WORLD'S MOST FALSIFIABLE RELIGION


Comments 129 Comments
This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.
Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don't have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don't. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.
This is what it looks like:
A few months ago, I was emceeing an apologetics event in Dallas hosted by the Christian Renaissance Apologia Conference. The scholars present were Dan Wallace, Darrel Bock, Gary Habermas, and Craig Evans. Each of these are men that I admire and trust, as I believe they are seeking truth and not a confirmation of their prejudice. I asked them during the conference if there are any other religions or worldviews that they knew of that had apologetics conferences the way Christianity does. In other words, can other religions pull together enough objective intellectual backing to form a solid defense for their faith? Each of them responded with the same: no. They went on to express the same sentiments of my present argument. "Even atheists," Habermas said, "have nothing but 'negative apologetics'." In other words, Christianity has a significant amount of historically verifiable data which forms the bedrock of the faith. This is "positive apologetics." An atheist conference, for example, does nothing but belittle the claims of other religions (primarily Christianity). "There is no positive defense that one can give for naturalism," Habermas concluded. Therefore, the only thing available to the atheist is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Christianity has.
This makes a lot of sense. If I decided to start a religion, deceptively or not, I would not make false claims to recent historic events that did not happen. Why? Because I know those claims could be tested. Also, I would not give details about the time, place, and people involved. More than that, I would not invite contemporaries to investigate these claims. For example, if I were to say today that in 1965 there was a man named Titus who was born in Guthrie, OK and traveled about Oklahoma City doing many miracles and gaining a significant following, this could easily be falsified. I would not say that Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, along with Tom Coburn, US Senator from Oklahoma, had Titus electrocuted. I would not detail that the electrocution was in Bricktown on January 13, 1968 at 9am. I wouldn't claim that Titus rose from the dead and gained a significant following throughout Oklahoma City which has spread across America. Why wouldn't I make these claims as the foundation of my new religion? Because they can be easily tested and falsified. This religion could not possibly get off the ground. If I were to make up a religion, all the events which support the religion (if any) would be private and beyond testing.
This is why you don't have religions based on historic events. They are all, with the exception of Christianity, based on private encounters which cannot be falsified or subjective ideas which are beyond inquiry. The amazing thing about Christianity is that there is so much historic data to be tested. Christianity is, by far, the most falsifiable worldview there is. Yet, despite this, Christianity flourished in the first century among the very people who could test its claims. And even today, it calls on us to "come and see" if the claims are true.
The only reason why I can say Christianity survived in the midst of such historic volatility is because it is true. And this is exactly what I would expect if there were an all-powerful God who created and loves this world. When he intervenes, he makes a significant enough footprint that historic inquiry is demanded. Think about that next time you are critiquing the Christian faith. The only reason you can is because it is the only religion that has opened itself up to such critique.  Simply put, Christianity is the most falsifiable religion there is and yet it has survived. Why?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Birthday Fun

Our baby girl turned 4 on Friday. It is both amazing and heartrending how fast children grow. Lily is maturing quickly into such a fine young lady and we could not possibly be more proud! We had a super fun weekend, celebrating with friends from church, Nana and grandma Jan, who just happens to have a birthday on April 5th, the day after Lily's! So we celebrated her as well, and both birthday girls got their own big, oversized cupcakes. Lily's premier present was a shiny new princess bike, and she's already mastering her riding skills, though just today she had a couple of little falls that currently have her a bit gun-shy! But she'll be back on the horse in no time. Happy Birthday Lily Grace. Jesus loves you, and so do we!!!

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