"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Monday, October 18, 2010

Christianity: It is not about do and don't!

When you think about the Christian life, do you focus on what you should or should not do? I would assume that most people think Christianity is about missing out on a lot of fun stuff in life. Most people would not associate self-pleasure with God's purpose for life. I admit. The thought of joy and happiness and self'-pleasure were not in the top five thoughts about Christianity for me until 1998. That is when I stumbled upon the life changing book Desiring God. Outside of the Bible, there are two books that have changed my life, Desiring God and Pilgrim's Progress. (consequently the two most influential distant mentors in my life have been John Piper and John Bunyan) I want to blog several post dealing with the idea of Christian Hedonism. Do not let the title offend you. Read the blog post with an open mind.

Let me first give one text that makes Christian Hedonism both Scriptural and undeniable.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)"

Did you catch that? David tells us that when we are in God's presence we are filled to overflowing with joy. He further instructs us in the reality that Jesus Christ is a guarantee of pleasure forevermore!

In summary of this first post let me say two things and leave with a quote for you to contemplate.

  1. The problem we face in Christianity is not that we desire personal pleasure. The problem is we find personal fulfillment and pleasure in the wrong place! Our pleasure should come from a full on pursuit of the glory of God, a passionate relationship with our Savior, and an unyielding heart of praise for our Creator!
  2. It is God's design for us to be pleasure seekers. If you try to deny this fact, you will become more and more sinful and miserable. God has designed us to seek after joy and fulfillment and pleasure because he wants us to find those things in him alone. Piper says it simply when he writes, "God is most glorified by us when we are most satisfied in Him!" We need more self-pleasure seekers in Christianity not less. I pray we will all become Christian Hedonist for the glory of God!
Piper was influenced in his thinking and theology, outside the Bible, most by Johnathan Edwards. You can almost see, hear, smell Edwards when you are with Piper in a book. But the second most influential dead personality, outside the Bible, on Piper's thinking is C.S. Lewis. It was Lewis' book entitled Weight of Glory that helped solidify John Piper's thoughts on Christian Hedonism. here is a short quote from that book that I think we should all spend time thinking about.

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but to weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far to easily pleased."

Think over this teaching and I will talk to you soon...CW

Friday, September 24, 2010

What I want from my local public school?

As many of you know, Aimee and I have sent Noah to Kitty Stone Elementary School. This is the local public school where we live. Some of you have asked what our philosophy is when we are sending one child to school and home schooling another. I will tell you what our philosophy is with our family. We follow three principles that we believe are ultimately biblical.

1. We are responsible to teach, train, and pass on a love of Jesus Christ to our children. This is basically discipleship. It is our responsibility to disciple our children. We do not depend on teachers, pastors, community leaders, coaches, or others to train our children in the life of loving Christ. Here are the two passages we draw this principle from.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Matthew 22:37-40: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

It is our responsibility as parents to train our children in love of God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. We do this day in and day out as we go through life together. Parenthood is the ultimate life on life discipleship relationship.

2. We are to teach, train, and pass on a love of other people. This is the second of the great commandments (royal law). It is not enough to train our children to love God in a vacuum! We must train our children to love God in the real life situations in the community, and this will lead them to love their neighbor, enemy, and all men as they love themselves. Aimee and I value having our children around people of all ethnic groups, socio-economic groups, religions/non religions, and other categories. Hannah Grace, Noah, Lily, and Hope will by God's grace grow up to love God passionately and love all men with the love of Christ.

3. We are to press our children to attain the highest level of God given ability so that they can be used in His kingdom. This final point is drawn from texts all over the Bible and from God given common sense. We are pushing all of our children to be leaders, intelligent workers, and godly people.

What do I want from my public school? I want my children to be challenged in academics, disciplined to maximize their God given ability, and an opportunity to live a diverse life among all the people in our community.

So, that is why one child stays home and another goes to school. That's why the child at school can come home and the one at school can come home. The point is that we are flexible when it comes to the education of our little ones. We work to disciple them every day. We pray that God grants us wisdom in these days as we try to raise missionaries for his glory!!! Talk to you soon...CW

Monday, September 20, 2010

"This was a God thing!"

I want to admit up front that I am and always will be a die-hard Alabama fan, but I also really enjoy watching college football no matter who is playing. Saturday night I got to watch the fourth quarter and the overtime period between Auburn and Clemson. This was a fantastic game between two teams with a little history between them. Auburn made the plays necessary to come back from a 17-0 deficit at halftime and they won the game 27-24 in extra time. It was a well played, hard hitting, southern style football game. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat played out in a truly classic fashion. At the end of the game the head coach at Auburn University was interviewed. Coach Gene Chizik seems to be an admirable man. He has every right to express his joy over a thrilling victory, and as a fellow Christian it is exciting to see a believer have success. But I was sad to hear the response of this man in front of a national audience.

When asked about the game he responded, "This was a God thing. I told our guys that they had to keep the faith and they kept the faith the whole game." This was what he said on the field to the reporter immediately after the game. So he got emotional and said something he probably would have rephrased given another opportunity, right? Wrong! After speaking with his team, he conducted his post game press conference. These were his opening words, "I told our kids this was a God thing. They kept the faith the whole game..." Wow. I am hurt to see and hear this type of confused statement.

It would be much better to have a coach who never mentioned God, than to have a coach who abuses the name of the Lord in this fashion. There are 105 Auburn football players who have been told by their head coach that God beat Clemson for them. They are now left to believe that God is for them because of their "faith." So what about all the Christians on Clemson's sidelines. Are they to believe that their faith is not good enough? Is Dabo Swinney not as holy and faithful as Gene Chizik? Did Clemson lose "the faith?" This is the type of abuse that cause non believers to scoff at Christianity. No, it would have been better if coach had simply said, "I am so proud of the way our guys kept fighting tonight. They played with great character, and they displayed mental toughness when the going got tough. Clemson is a great team and we are glad to get out of here with the 'W'." That is a great after the game response from a classy coach. Now he can preach the gospel and live the gospel for his players Sunday - Saturday and they are not confused about what "the faith" is and who God is!

Yes, I would rather have an atheist coaching my children than a man who seems to confuse the gospel with winning a football game in overtime. And it would be better for all of us trying to preach and live the gospel in Alabama if the coaches at our Universities stayed away from such grand standing in the future. Maybe he will get it right next time but for now we will have to deal with the fall out from a ridiculously sad comment.

P.S.- Before you say I am making a big deal out of nothing, it is already making the media rounds. Last night about 10 minutes of a 30 minute show on ABC 33/40 was dedicated to this comment. It was not positive in any shape or fashion. The media members of "The Zone" were mocking Chizik and Christianity. It was heart breaking. Talk to you later...CW

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Lost Letter to Wormwood (conclusion)

This is the follow up to the earlier link. If you have not read the first of Kevin's letters, then you need to move down to the second post on this page, click the link, and read. I will interact with these thoughts soon. Talk to you later... CW

A Lost Letter to Wormwood (conclusion)

A Lost Letter to Wormwood

The link I am posting here is to a blog written by one of my favorite "bloggers" Kevin DeYoung. Kevin is a pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is deeply involved in college life because of his age and location. I will also be posting his second letter. My encouragement to young and old alike is to read these two pieces and contemplate the meaning. When we run to a model of church that serves one age group over all others, we are trading in God's design for worldliness. If you are in college, then you need to remain in a local church! Involvement in college ministry will never be equal to involvement in the local church. If you are leading a church, then you need to focus on God and his Glory not appealing tactics that draw a crowd. We can all benefit from thinking through this issue together! Read and think so we can talk latter... CW

A Lost Letter to Wormwood

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

God and Guinness

It has been a couple weeks since I put anything on the blog. We had a great vacation this year at PCB with Aimee's family, and since we have been home the schedule has been hectic to say the least. Grace Fellowship had VBS at Christian Fellowship Bible Church in Anniston last week, and the week can be thought of as nothing but a great success. This week our children have been attending VBS at Parker Memorial Baptist Church each evening. Aimee and I have enjoyed spending the evening together. I think we have had more dates this week than in the past 6 months combined (there is no person I would rather be with than my best friend! Thanks for the time and the conversation. I love you!) So now I need to review the two books that were checked off of the must read list while we sat by the ocean soaking up the sun and salt. Today I will talk about Stephen Mansfield's book The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World.

Some of you might not agree with a Christian consuming alcohol on any level. This is a discussion for another post but let me simply say that I believe the Bible teaches a position of moderation and proper boundaries in all things not complete abstinence. If you are in the "dry" camp in regard to alcohol, particularly beer, I would encourage you to read this book. Mansfield does a good job of teaching the history of beer and the church. After reading this book each person will have the opportunity to rethink this issue on historical grounds and this will help to free us from the silly cultural mandates that have no biblical support. With that said let me give a quick review of this book, some great quotes from the book, and a concluding statement concerning the issue of beer and the church.

Mansfield takes the reader back to an age when beer was seen as the healthy drink; an alternative to the hard liquor that was making its presence felt across western Europe. This was an age when pastors and cobblers had home breweries for personal consumption. The culture surrounding consumption of alcohol was not thought of as deviant. One cannot easily right off the use of strong drink as the alternative to a lack of clean water. No. As Mansfield displays with historical accuracy our forefathers viewed beer as a gift from God so that man could enjoy fellowship with friends! It might shock some of my readers to realize that Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield all partook regularly. The church always viewed moderation as the biblical mandate. Drunkenness was never allowed.

The bulk of the book is spent detailing the life of one Irish family, the Guinness', and how their commitment to the glory of God revolutionized Ireland, Europe, and the world. Yes. This beer making family has used the wealth of their family to promote the preaching of the gospel from the shores of Ireland to the islands in the Bahamas, to the shores of Africa and Asia. God has used this family to revolutionize the industrial working world, create and sustain the history of Ireland, and promote mission work around the globe.

My thoughts are simple in regard to this book and this issue. We need to step out of our culture, take the time to research the subject biblically and historically, and give one another the opportunity to live within the grace of Jesus Christ. I am not advocating that everyone should drink, but I am asking all of us to take our stance on truth not tradition! Whether you like beer or not, you should read this book because it celebrates the life of a godly family and it challenges us to live our life in a radical way for the cause of Christ! Talk to you soon...CW

(This post was lingering for a while as you can tell. I will be posting a fresh thought later today!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eden Hope Weathers

Words cannot express how thankful I am for the Lord's mercy and goodness to our family! Yesterday Eden Hope Weathers was born at 1:24 in the afternoon. She came into this world very healthy, ready to eat, and sporting a head full of dark hair. Hope, that is what we will call her, is 7.15 lbs and 20 inches long! Thank you for praying for us and we love you all!!!!!

A Daddy does not always know what his baby will look like when they are born. Aimee has always had the best guess on the look and attitude of our babies, but this time was different. She was convinced that this little girl would look like Hannah Grace and Noah. I was certain that she would look like our Sophie Ann. It was just a hunch, but the feeling got stronger as the day grew closer. Yesterday God confirmed this "hunch" when our little gift arrived. Eden Hope is nothing like the other children living in our home, she looks just like her sister who is living with Christ! This does not have any mysterious meaning. Hope looks like her Mom. Sophie looks like her Mom. Hannah Grace and Noah favor me. That is why I say it is not a mystery, but it is kind Providence! Sophie Ann and Eden Hope are two totally different people, made by God in a unique and special way for his purposes. Hope will never replace or have to live up to her sister. As a matter of fact, Aimee and I will not spend the rest of our life telling Hope she reminds us of Sophie. We want her to be her own lady. We want her to live for the glory of the Lord! But just for these couple of days I cannot help but think about the similarities and bask in the joy of holding, looking, touching, kissing, smelling, listening, and singing to my precious Hope, who looks a lot like my sweet Sophie! God is so kind and good. Oh! How He loves us!!!!!! Talk to you soon...CW