Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Hype of Evolutionism and Creationism

            Controversy over the two most widespread worldviews of the origins of the universe and the history of species and mankind has raged on for more than a millennium; even since the fifth-century B.C. of Greek philosophers. While it is inexpressibly important to have knowledge and understanding of the beliefs you hold regarding the created universe, one major problem arises from such undivided concentration: where does God’s grand purpose of redemption by grace and mercy through His unconditional love and sacrifice fit into that focus?

            I do not by any means suggest that we should proclaim ignorance in the midst of this scientifically-minded world. Rather, I exhort each of you to reevaluate the energy and primacy you commit to the debate of these two worldviews. It becomes a matter of whether or not your words are for the sake of proclaiming God so that people may come to know Him, or you are just trying to outsmart someone else by debating for debating sake.

So What? What is Wrong with Debating?

To answer that question, I think it would be best to focus on the Bible; where the revelation of God Himself is given to us that we may grow to know Him personally. In the Book of Genesis, we are given the account of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth, including all that encompasses nature and mankind; whom was the pinnacle of His work. As an important focus of each aspect of His creation, we are told why He created that:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:11, ESV)
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.” (Genesis 1:14–15, ESV)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)
            The point I am trying to get across here is that in all of the explanation of God’s creation, never once or anywhere else in the Bible does it explain how God created the universe and all that is in it (except by His word, “God said…”); rather, the Bible only deals with the question of why God created the universe and all that is in it. When our interactions and debates transition from why into how, we are no longer testifying to the things which God has chosen to reveal to us.

Proper Focus of Faith

            In no way should our faith be dependent on how things were created, or how things came to be. For those who believe in the theory of evolution, it seems to be that all of their faith rests on that how question. As for Bible-believing Christians, our faith should be found in the plan, purpose and glory of God in His creation; such as why do we exist?

            When our life as Christians goes as far as to debate for debate sake, just to outsmart those who do not believe what we believe, we are no longer living as exemplified in the revelation of God’s Word and in the life and ministry of Christ. Our life should not be marked by our genius; by the ways we uproot and cast aside contrary beliefs. Our lives should be marked by our service to others, and by our willingness and devotion to know God intimately and to make Him known into a world which does not yet know Him.

            Even further, have we any need to place our faith on any scientific observations? The presence and dwelling of the Spirit of God within us by our faith in Him, the love we are filled with, and the hope we are given through the merciful sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in atoning for our sins so that we can have full assurance that we will be with Him for eternity in the kingdom of heaven should be the place of our faith.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19–25, ESV)
            Again, reevaluate the energy and primacy you place on debating over worldviews and science. Although science and knowledge is a wonderful gift of God, when we allow it to move into our focus, instead of keeping God as our focus, we are no longer living and proclaiming God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. We begin to proclaim the things that God chose not to reveal to us as theoretical speculation, rather than His revelation of hope and redemption for all of mankind. Our interaction should be void of foolish quarreling, and instead be filled with gentle and respectful teaching and correction so that those who do not yet know our Father God may come to know Him and His truths (2 Timothy 2:23-25).

Soli Deo gloria.

Friday, April 4, 2014

In Loving Memory: Eunice Ludke

In Loving Memory of Eunice A. Ludke (June 19, 1932 – March 16, 2014)
Word of Reflection
            I felt that it would be appropriate to upload the eulogy I gave for my grandmother so that those who knew her, or wish that they had known her, can find the testimony of her life devoted completely to the Lord in this. She lived to evangelize, and the legacy of serving God faithfully and keeping her faith will forever be an example to me and my walk in faith and to those who loved her.
            Her absence will always be painful, but the knowledge and confidence of the hope that we share in Christ’s promises shall be my lifelong comfort. I praise God that He used my Grandmother so wonderfully to impact many people. The love which she gave us generously will always remain, for her love was of the Lord our God, and in Him she finds eternal rest in His presence.
Grandmother’s Eulogy
            Firstly, I want to thank everyone for the care and comfort that you have extended to my family and I.
            As I reflected the last couple days on how I could possibly capture a lifetime of blessings that the Lord so generously filled my grandmother’s life with, I found it to be nearly impossible; I was finally shown what I think would be most appropriate according to the life she lived: the Bible.
You can tell a lot about a person by the things they spend their time on.
            I was told that my grandmother usually went to bed around 8:30-9:00 PM at night, but I can now understand where my mother and her brothers Roger and Dave get their stubbornness from; because although she “went to bed” at 8:30, she stayed up a couple more hours reading from her Bible and meditating on devotions every night. 
            The verse which I feel best represents my Grandma’s life; also the verse on her and my Grandpa’s gravestone is 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
You see, her life belonged to the Lord, and never before have I seen such a woman given over so faithfully to God. So easy it is to see, that as she was faithful to Him unto death; God too, was faithful to her unto death. His gift of eternal life in His presence was her hope, and it drove her to live out every day in a way that glorified Him.
If we look at the passage of 2 Timothy 4, Paul is writing to Timothy on preaching the Word of Christ; this was my grandmother. It always made me smile to hear the stories of my grandmother’s life of evangelism. She was quite famous (or infamous depending on who you ask), for her persistence in sharing the Gospel and her faith to the residents and staff at Parkview nursing home.
My Grandma was commissioned by God to do so many things in this life, and one of those things which I had the blessing of witnessing was her ability to bring encouragement and laughter to any situation. When the time came where most people would consider “retirement,” God gave her another ministry to fulfill in her time at Parkview nursing home encouraging and bringing joy to people.
My mom told me that my grandmother would often conclude, “I do not know why the Lord is keeping me on earth, there must be someone else he wants me to talk to yet.” If she was not able to go as far as to share the Gospel, her mission was to bring joy and smiles in the midst of the loneliness which can exist in this world. She recognized that not many people have someone who they can love or turn to in life, and she wished to be that someone they could come to, just to brighten their lives. See, she was fed from the blessings which God allowed her to be to others; as she loved to give, and to give brought her happiness.
Her fight was to serve God. As His servant she declared the wonders and grace of the Lord who filled her with so much love, and she was able to just pour that love out so generously upon all of us. Her race was one of humbleness and joy – found in fulfilling the callings she had in life. She ran this race by investing into the lives of others all that the Spirit of the Lord allowed her to give. Finally, she kept her faith. Oh, what comfort she parted with here on earth, in knowing her destiny. This is why she said, “I do not want my funeral to be sad! I will be with Christ!”
Not once did she ever fail to encourage me, *Ludke family*… do you know how proud she was of all of you? She loved us with her whole heart. The Lord has allowed her be, and continue to be, the greatest encouragement to me in pursing the life of which I feel called to.
Before I conclude, my hope is that we can all be thankful for the life she lived and the blessing we were all given of having her be a part of our lives. Praise be to the Lord for fulfilling His promises in her; for she is more alive than all of us right now, she is with the living God, she is laughing again, she is singing again, she is smiling again, and I am sure she continues to be a blessing there as well.
Many knew her as a prayer warrior, and she would frequently tell my mother that she could not do a whole lot, but one thing she always could do was pray. She recognized the power and gift we have been given to be heard by our Lord in heaven. And with that said, I feel as though the thing that would make her most happy if she were with us today would for us to say a prayer to the Lord, who she is now with. So if you would bow your heads with me, I say goodbye, and finish by offering all this to God.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
            Dear Lord:
            Perfect, merciful and gracious God, we give you thanks for my grandmother Eunice Ludke. We give you thanks for the promise of eternal life with you; that was her hope. We ask that you empower us by your Spirit to remember the legacy of my Grandma’s life that pointed joyfully towards you.
            We thank you for the love you gave her and the love you enabled her to give generously to everyone in her life. We pray that her life will lead us closer to you by example and that you would be glorified and honored for the person you made her to be and always will be in our hearts.
            Lord, I offer all praise and thanks and any sadness we may be experiencing, completely to you. Comfort us, heal us, and fill us with your love. We thank you for the blessing my Grandmother was, and thank you that she now rests in your mighty embrace for all of eternity in the kingdom of heaven.
            Finally, as she would say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Soli Deo gloria.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What is Right and what is Wrong?

            In response to some worldview questions I direct towards a friend, they in turn asked if I would answer the same questions, so I will be starting a series for the purpose of answering some foundational worldview questions regarding my beliefs.
What is Right and what is Wrong? (Part 5/27)
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
- Psalm 145:4–7
God’s Righteousness
            First and foremost it is important to understand that righteousness means to adhere to a set of expectations in a relationship or at any level of society. In the particular verse above, the Hebrew word for righteousness is: צְדָקָה. It is characterized by wholly just, truthful, blameless and devout conduct of action and morals. Above all, these characteristics are applied exclusively to the majestic person of God. His righteousness is the aspect of his moral perfection and divine power. Even more so, it is the righteousness of God which sets the laws of morality and our understanding of His sovereign (Psalm 71:19), eternal (Psalm 111:3), saving (Psalm 65:5), redemptive (Psalm 35:24), just (Jeremiah 11:20) and faithful character (Nehemiah 9:8).
How Do We Act Righteous?
            The Bible teaches us very clearly how we can conduct ourselves to be righteous, and there are many verses that deal with exactly how that looks. A few of those verses include: 1 John 3:7, Genesis 18:19, Hosea 14:9, Ephesians 4:24, and 1 John 2:29. What is most important to take from these passages and acting righteous overall, is that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his gift of salvation and righteousness is completely by faith in Him:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16–17)
            Without the faith the Jesus Christ allows us to have in Him, we would have no hope for righteousness, sanctification, or salvation in His heavenly kingdom. Because we have been given this free gift despite our unrighteousness and rebellion against God by our immoral acts, we should seek after Him (Matthew 6:33) and He also deserves our complete, unmitigated praise (Isaiah 24:15-16; Psalm 7:17; 22:31; 35:28; 51:14; 71:15,24; 145:7).
True moral action and conduct is found in the nature of God’s character; therefore, we need to pursue to be more like Him. Not only that, but He expects us to be like Him. The difference between what is right and what is wrong is that God and his divine nature and character of righteousness is what is right and good; that which is not the divine nature and character of the righteous God is wrong and considered evil. We can know and understand God’s character from His revelation of Himself to us in the Holy Bible of His Word. 
How Can We Identify What is Wrong?
            To put this most simply, anything that is apart from God and his divine nature and character is wrong. The first taste of unrighteousness was in Genesis when man and woman disobeyed God by eating the fruit which they were commanded not to eat. By refusing to acknowledge the law set by God and partaking in consuming the fruit which exposed them to the knowledge of evil, they rebelled against God and against His righteousness (Genesis 3:1-24). All throughout Scripture, God begins the work of redeeming His people who have turned completely away from Him. We see various examples of unrighteousness and character that is directly opposite of who God is in Romans 1:28-32:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
            Thankfully though, we do not have to be condemned and subject to unrighteousness for eternity. God, out of His grace which is part of His righteousness, offers to cleanse us completely of unrighteousness if we confess our sins to Him, turn from our wrong, and have faith in Him (1 John 1:9).  We do not need to be separated from His goodness; rather, we should look eagerly towards Him and the mercies He gives us. We are unrighteous by nature, in turning away from God, however, our hope in Christ is that we will be transformed into His image by beholding the glory and power of God through work of the Spirit of the God within us (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).  Turn away from your wrong-doing, and set your gaze faithfully upon the righteous glory of God; who will cast aside your unrighteousness and empower you to grow and become more like Him.

Soli Deo gloria.