Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Follow-Up Thought

I thought I should follow-up on the previous post with a note about why I think it's so important that we stay balanced on the whole issue of environmentalism and the role we play as Christians in this world.

In the conclusion to the WSJ article previously cited, Dr Michaels writes:

This prompts the ultimate question: Why is the news on global warming always bad? Perhaps because there's little incentive to look at things the other way. If you do, you're liable to be pilloried by your colleagues. If global warming isn't such a threat, who needs all that funding? Who needs the army of policy wonks crawling around the world with bold plans to stop climate change?
Here's why it's so important that we stay level-headed here. Something that seems so certain to so many in our day is still built on the shakiest evidence. We need to be discerning in our thinking, lest we be found to be building a house on sand.

But there's more to it than this. If there is any truth in what Dr Michaels is saying, then we're spending our time and our energies as Christians fighting for a cause built on a political agenda, rather than advancing the gospel of Christ crucified and raised for sinners. What could be a greater shame?

And in light of the charge I've recently received, I am renewed in my passion for keeping the gospel at the centre--which is where the NT would have it as well. You'll notice that in that whole list of things that the elder of the NT church is to do (which is a long list!) 'fighting against climate change' is not there! That's not to say it's bad, but it is to say that it's not central.

Here's why I want those of you in ministry positions in particular to consider this: we've been given a charge by our Master, who will be our strict Judge (Jas 3.1; 2 Tim 4.). He's given us a task. I do not want to be the one to stand before him and say, 'I know you said "preach the gospel," but I took that to mean "save the icebergs... which weren't really melting in the first place...".' It is a serious charge we have been given, and we must keep the centre the centre, in fear of the living God.

A Convenient Lie

Tim Challies linked to a very interesting article from the Wall Street Journal on the topic of global warming / climate change, and how we get the numbers that are used to 'prove' that the earth is, in fact, getting warmer. Here's a little excerpt:

The fear of a sudden loss of ice from Greenland also makes a lot of news. A year ago, radio and television were ablaze with the discovery of "Warming Island," a piece of land thought to be part of Greenland. But when the ice receded in the last few years, it turned out that there was open water. Hence Warming Island, which some said hadn't been uncovered for thousands of years. CNN, ABC and the BBC made field trips to the island.

But every climatologist must know that Greenland's last decade was no warmer than several decades in the early and mid-20th century. In fact, the period from 1970-1995 was the coldest one since the late 19th century, meaning that Greenland's ice anomalously expanded right about the time climate change scientists decided to look at it.

Warming Island has a very distinctive shape, and it lies off of Carlsbad Fjord, in eastern Greenland. My colleague Chip Knappenberger found an inconvenient book, "Arctic Riviera," published in 1957 (near the end of the previous warm period) by aerial photographer Ernst Hofer. Hofer did reconnaissance for expeditions and was surprised by how pleasant the summers had become. There's a map in his book: It shows Warming Island.

The mechanism for the Greenland disaster is that summer warming creates rivers, called moulins, that descend into the ice cap, lubricating a rapid collapse and raising sea levels by 20 feet in the next 90 years. In Al Gore's book, "An Inconvenient Truth," there's a wonderful picture of a moulin on page 193, with the text stating "These photographs from Greenland illustrate some of the dramatic changes now happening on the ice there."

Really? There's a photograph in the journal "Arctic," published in 1953 by R.H. Katz, captioned "River disappearing in 40-foot deep gorge," on Greenland's Adolf Hoels Glacier. It's all there in the open literature, but apparently that's too inconvenient to bring up. Greenland didn't shed its ice then. There was no acceleration of the rise in sea level.

You can read the whole very interesting article here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What I Already Knew

On the eve of what essentially amounts to a 'do or die' game, the Canadian Press is reporting today what the enlightened of us Canadians have known for some time. The Montréal Canadiens (aka Les Gloriuex) are Canada's Team.

So much for 'Leaf Nation.' Maybe they'll have more luck getting support on the golf course?

Friday, April 25, 2008

How Can I Become Wise?

One of the greatest questions I think any young Christian (whether young as a person or young as a Christian--or both!) can ask is this: How can I become wise?

To say that the Scriptures speak highly of wisdom is an understatement indeed (see here for just one example). So how does one attain it?

Here is a very incomplete list. I compiled it a little while ago when reading through the book of Proverbs. I wanted to take note of everywhere the book gave instructions on how to become wise.

The funny thing about wisdom is that it's not just attained by anyone. It begins with a humble heart and is wrought in us only as we diligently and continually look for it.

Wisdom, in the biblical sense, speaks more of the ability to skilfully live a godly life in a fallen world than it does to the mere amassing of knowledge. To be wise is to be blessed: a life that is approved by God is a happy life indeed (in the truest sense of happiness).

So how does one become wise? Here's my (ever-growing) list. Feel free to make any additions from verses I've missed!

How Can I Become Wise?

Prov 10 8 The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Prov 10 17 Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

Prov 11 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Prov 12 1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Prov 12 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Prov 13 1 A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Prov 13 10 By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Prov 13 13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.

Prov 13 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.

Prov 13 18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honoured.

Prov 13 20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Prov 13 24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Prov 14 15 The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

Prov 15 5 A fool despises his father's instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

Prov 15 10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.

Prov 15 12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.

Prov 15 31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.

Prov 15 32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Prov 17 10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.

Prov 18 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Prov 18 15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Prov 19 20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Prov 19 25 Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.

Prov 20 18 Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.

Prov 23 12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.

Prov 24 6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counsellors there is victory.

Prov 25 12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

Prov 27 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Prov 27 9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Prov 28 9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Prov 28 23 Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue.

Prov 28 26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

Prov 29 1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

Prov 29 5 A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.

Prov 29 15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Prov 29 17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.

If you want, you can download a pdf version of this list to print or for further mediation here.

For more thoughts on the connections between humility and wisdom, you can download a sermon I preached a while ago, called 'From Poverty of Spirit to Riches of Wisdom.'

Monday, April 21, 2008


Tim Challies' a la carte has some insightful reviews today of Ben Stein's new documentary called Expelled. They are here and here. I'll embed the trailer below. It definitely looks like it's worth checking out! (Try the super trailer...)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Sermons to Download

Check out the website of Toronto Baptist Seminary for some nice online resources, including audio messages from D.A. Carson, Michael Haykin, Bill James, and--most recently--Liam Goligher.

Dr Goligher has two messages posted: (1) 'The Emergent Church: Reinventing Liberalism', and, (2) 'Preaching the Cross Today.'

Click here to see the list of messages.

I Love My God

This morning I was reading from Leviticus 19. In the midst of a long string of commands, where God's people are told what they must either do or not do in order to be holy as their God is holy, God gives these instructions.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.
In these books of Law we find all kinds of laws that we would expect: Don't murder; don't steal; don't take someone else's wife; if you're a judge, don't take a bribe; if you kill an unborn baby, you are guilty before God; all kinds of laws like that. But then there are times when we come across passages like this one that can just seem totally unexpected.

Our God's justice is not like our justice. Intrinsic to the founding of 'the City of God' is this notion that the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sojourner must find a home. They must be taken care of. Why? Because it is a reflection of God's heart for the downtrodden. If God's people are to be holy, as he is holy, they must reflect the same heart as him: the poor must be comforted.

So how does that translate into the new covenant? I would suggest that we see this fulfilled in no less than three ways as we live in the current 'City of God'.
  1. Jesus' message could be summarized this way: 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' (Matt 4.17). This call to repentance is filled out a little more in this way: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Matt 5.3). In other words, the kingdom of heaven has come, and is possessed by those who are poor--in spirit. These are the ones who are broken over their sin before a holy God (Matt 5.4); the ones who realize they are not perfect as God is perfect (Matt 5.48). They are therefore quick to show mercy, as God has shown them mercy (Matt 5.7; 39-47; 6.14-15; 7.1-5). This is the exact same calling as those citizens of the City of God in the OT received (Lev 19.33-34).

  2. Just as the thrust of the commands throughout the OT were to be kind to the poor in their midst, so in the NT, kingdom citizens are to be abundantly merciful and generous to meet the needs of other kingdom citizens. The early church did not miss this at all, but saw it quite clearly (Acts 2.44-45). The emphasis must be placed here: the first place we must give and look after the poor is in our own midst--this was so in the OT, just as it is in the NT (see also Gal 6.9-10).

  3. The Christian must be known as one who does not withhold the wages of the labourer, but gives to each what is due. The cries of even the unbeliever, when he is oppressed, will reach the ears of the Lord and the one who has withheld good from him, will bear his guilt (Jas 5:1-6). The Christian must never be known as one who values his money more than he values people; this would not reflect the character of our God at all.
I love my God because he cares for the spiritually poor (broken) and the destitute. He is a God of mercy, compassion, and grace--this is clearly revealed in both testaments. If we are to be his 'City' then we must reflect his character, his person, his passions. We must show mercy to others, as he has shown mercy to us.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

On Being a Christian in the Workplace

My brother (Ryan) and my brother-in-Christ (Jim) are hard at work building an SEO (search engine optimization) company. I thank our Lord for putting Christians in every sphere of work and society today. I want Christ to be honoured from every type of job, from every level of employment in our city, country, and world. These guys are doing their part, by the grace of God.

Last week Jim wrote an excellent post on what it means to be a Christian SEO. He gives nine answers, and all of them are great. While some are specific aspects are specific to being an SEO, there is much application there for any Christian in any line of work.

Here's an excerpt:

1. It means that we do everything whole-heartedly. Whatever work we have to do, Christ has given to us. As we enthusiastically and faithfully review websites and write lines of HTML code, we bring honour to Him.

2. It does not mean that we are automatically the best SEO's in the world. God has given talent and abilities to all men, not just Christians. Some are gifted more than us.

Those are the first two... you'll have to go here to read the rest...