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Archive for January, 2010

As a freshman clarinetist in the marching band (I was an aspiring jazz saxophonist and wanted to improve my clarinet chops) I saw everyone of Kurt Warner’s games his senior year at the University of Northern Iowa. It was fun watching him over his NFL career and hearing his story retold and retold (he was a former grocery bagger turned NFL MVP/Super Bowl winner).

He retired yesterday from what is probably a Hall of Fame career. Everyone that knew anything about him also knew that he is a Christian. He is not shy about his faith at all. It is part of who he is. The following paragraph from Seth Wickersham at espn.com struck me when I read it:

Thanks for the religion. Some athletes give their life to Jesus Christ as a PR move; some are ripe with hypocrisy; some just say offensive things. Warner always expressed his faith without trivializing it or us.

Kurt Warner lived his life as a follower of Jesus Christ in a way that garnered respect from others. He didn’t trivialize Jesus or people. We can communicate the things we believe most deeply in a way that others thank us. I don’t know Wickersham’s religious views, but this tells me that Kurt Warner is a man of peace. May I be one too.

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Peace-loving Truth

Tim Tebow and his mom are doing a pro-life commercial that will be aired during the Super Bow. Apparently many pro-choice groups are upset about this and want CBS to refuse to air it. There is much that can be said about the contradiction of those who are for choice, but don’t want people to hear both sides of the argument (in order to make a choice!). Zach Nielsen had some really helpful thoughts regarding this and the wider issue of “tolerance”. He writes:

Just as an aside, would you please please please join me in advocating for the complete stoppage of all the “tolerance” talk. Tolerance is not the issue and it never has been. If anyone tells you to stop being “intolerant”, or that you should be more tolerant because of a view that you hold, just suggest something like this:

“Why are you asking me to be more tolerant?  That in itself is not very tolerant.  If you were really consistent in your view of tolerance you would accept ALL views, including mine, as valuable.  But we both know that is impossible.  No one wants to be “tolerant” of Hitler and his views on the Jews. So we both know that real tolerance is an impossibility.

Let’s just get down to what really is going on here.  We both disagree about something.  I think I am right, and you think you are right.  Most likely, we both can’t be right.  Do you think we can give reasons for or against our beliefs and not kill each other?  I do.  So why don’t we cease with all the “tolerance” talk that really doesn’t get either of us anywhere and give reasons for why we believe what we believe.  That way, maybe we can find out what is really true.  Peace-loving truth is what matters here much more than tolerance.”

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How to Approach the Bible

A few years ago I taught a course on systematic theology at our church. One of the things I gave the students on the first night was a list of verses from Psalm 119 (the Zabur) that speak about our heart and attitude when we study the Bible. Since I posted about how Muslims are taught to approach the Qur’an, I thought it would be good to post this as well.

Our Heart and Attitude when We Study the Bible

Texts from Psalm 119

God’s Word Is Greater than All Wealth and Sweeter than Honey
The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces (119:72).
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold (119:127).
I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil (119:162).
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (119:103)!

God’s Word Should Be Our Delight
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word (119:16).
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors (119:24).
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it (119:35).
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction (119:92).
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.  I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end (119:111-112).

We Should Long for God’s Word
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times (119:20).
My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.  My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me (119:81-82)?
I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments (119:131).

God’s Word Helps Keep Us from Sin
How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (119:9-11).
Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me (119:133).

God Revives Us through His Word
My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word (119:25).
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word (119:28).
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life (119:93).
I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word (119:107).

God’s Word Makes Us Wise and Guides Us
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts (119:98-100).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (119:105).
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (119:130).

We Need God’s Help

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (119:18).
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart (119:34).
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain (119:36).
Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared (119:38).

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This is an interesting post that gives Muslims instructions on why the Qur’an should be more central in their lives and how they are to approach it. Since the Qur’an is so central to Islam and to the lives of Muslims, it is helpful for non-Muslims to better understand it. I encourage you to read the article and get a flavor for how Muslims see their holy book. I also would encourage you to read the Qur’an itself.

Here are some quotes:

You must approach the Quraan with an open mind so to allow the Quraan to speak for itself. You cannot approach the Quraan with the mentality that you already know the truth, as this will cause you to try and twist the Quraan to meet what you want to believe.

Don’t discard half or a third of the Quraan thinking it is not relevant to you, rather take the time and look for this guidance yourself. You are holding and reading the words of Allah ta’ala himself. He did not give us this book baatila or in vain, but He gave it to us to save ourselves.

You will begin to understand more and more lessons of the Quraan when you begin to live the Quraan. On the other hand, one of the things that will take away your guidance and knowledge is the committing of sins. The more sins you commit, the less you will understand the Quraan. It is a dynamic relationship. The more you turn to Allah, the more Allah turns towards you.

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This post from Eric Johnson at the Desiring God blog is another great reminder that we actually have to interact with our neighbors if we are to obey Jesus Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. After a triple homicide at a local grocery market he says,

“A colleague and I went to the candlelight vigil the community held for these men, and I was struck with how little I really knew about these men and the thousands of East African immigrants in my community. I had passed this market dozens of times and never stopped in. Surely, at least once, I could have purchased a Coke and struck up a conversation?”

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From Peacemakers Ministries:

As God opens your eyes to see how you have sinned against others, he simultaneously offers you a way to find freedom from your past wrongs. It is called confession. Many people have never experienced this freedom because they have never learned how to confess their wrongs honestly and unconditionally. Instead, they use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s.

1. Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
7. Ask for forgiveness

See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.

HT: Justin Taylor

Related Posts:
Repentance
Sin Destroys Peace
More on Repentance
I Am Sorry, I Was Wrong, Will You Please Forgive Me?

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Peacemaking in Yemen

War and strife is common in Yemen. Revenge seems to be a way of life. Not only does almost everyone have a gun, most have three. So this story at Al Jazeera was really encouraging to see. Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Marwani is risking is life to bring peace to his people.

He says in the video to his colleagues, “You won’t find any act closer to God and his blessings, or more worthy of his mercy than what we are doing – spreading peace.” Later he says, “I would give my life if only the world could live in peace.”

HT: Cathrein B.

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