Reflections on Gauging the Light and the Dark

Posted December 28, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Faith, Materialism, Philosophy

Tags: , , , , ,

Depositphotos Image ID: 80301160 Copyright: SergeyNivens

I’ve heard the following Chinese parable from Ravi Zacharias a couple of times. It’s on my mind today:

An old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped through the fence. When the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Is it bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know?”

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills. This time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Is it bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know?”

The next day, when the farmer’s son attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. The neighbors came around again and commiserated with the old farmer about his very bad luck, but the farmer’s reaction was, “Is it bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know?”

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Or was it bad luck?

We like to jump to conclusions, and we have a tendency to jump to those conclusions pretty quickly. We do this even with ultimate, worldview positions. We have a tendency to want to measure everything by the tools that are convenient and familiar to us, but sometimes we need to be willing to venture off from the light of our comfortable positions into the darkness of unfamiliarity to gain a bigger perspective.

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Top Ten Navigating By Faith Articles in 2017

Posted December 27, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Uncategorized

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Depositphotos Image ID: 57089233 Copyright: seenaad

As I reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming New Year, I am somewhat surprised by the top ten blog articles on this site based on the numbers. Many of the them are articles written in prior years. Only two of the top ten were written in 2017, and those are at the bottom. Six articles were written in 2015. I am not sure what that says about how I am trending as a writer!

For all of the people who have stopped by, read an article or two and for those who responded by a “like”, a comment or a share of what I have written, thank you! I have enjoyed getting to know some of you through your own writing, and I look forward to reading what you have to say in the coming year.

Top Ten Blog Articles of 2017

1.    The Ebla Tablets Conform Biblical Accounts (2015)
2.    It is Well with My Soul: The Story (2014)
3.    C.S. Lewis on Individualism, Equality and the Church (2015)
4.    The Message in the Earliest Creeds in the New Testament (2015)
5.    The Story of Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe) (2015)
6.    Tuning In To God’s Frequency (2016)
7.    What if God is Cruel (2015)
8.    Timing the Walls of Jericho (2017)
9.    Have Christians Lost the Moral High Ground on Immigration? (2017)
10.   My Journey (2015)

Christmas Thoughts: Uriah’s Wife and The Redemption Plan

Posted December 27, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Bible, Christian, Faith, Forgiveness, Holiday, Jesus, redemption

Tags: , , , ,

My Christmas thoughts a year ago were focused on the women in the genealogy that Matthew included in the beginning of his Gospel. Tamar, Rahab and Ruth are all stories of redemption foreshadowing the ultimate redemption story when God entered into our story, which is ultimately His story. The grand story of global redemption is what we celebrate at Christmastime, and these women are all instrumental in that global redemption story.

A total of five women are listed in the patriarchal lineage included at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel. The oddity of including women in a patriarchal lineage bears some investigation. Indeed, we find the redemptive theme when we look into it, and, that theme continues with the next woman on the list, but with a twist.

The twist begins with the fact that the next woman isn’t even named! The genealogy in Matthew reads like this:

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife[i]

Another oddity signals that something is different here. The stories of Tamar and Ruth were stories of kinsman-redeemers, women who embraced the shelter and protection of the relatives of their deceased husbands and, thereby, gave birth to sons who would carry on the line that would eventually lead to Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). All of the first three women, including Rahab, are also stories of faith and God’s faithfulness.

The story of “Uriah’s wife” is another example of God’s faithfulness, but human side of the story is one of unfaithfulness. Bathsheba is the mother who had been Uriah’s wife. She isn’t named for a scandalous reason.

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Sizing Up God

Posted December 26, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Philosophy, Religion

Tags: , ,

Depositphotos Image ID: 147545805 Copyright: kamchatka

In ancient times people saw gods in the rocks and trees, idols they made and volcanoes and lightning and thunder. These were gods that were larger than they, but they were accessible. Their gods lived in their environment. Their gods were arbitrary, but they tried to appease them anyway.

Roman and Greek gods were larger than the material world, and they manipulated the material world for their own ends. They controlled volcanoes and earthquakes and lightning and thunder, but they were human-like, even in their imperfections. People could approach them. People could reason with and try to appease them.

Buddhist, Hindu and Eastern gods are not defined by the rocks, trees, lightning and thunder. They do not simply manipulate the material world. They are intimately and intricately part of the material world, and the material world is an extension of them, and the entirety of the material world is all ultimately one and the same in its essence.

Many scientists, like Einstein, who stood in awe of the universe, saw “god” in this way. People can fathom these gods/this god and understand them/it and seek to become one with them/it because these gods are made of the same stuff as people and all of the universe ultimately. These gods cannot be appeased. We can only hope to understand them.

But these gods are too small.

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Distinctions Make All the Difference

Posted December 22, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Apologetics, Culture, Religion

Tags: , ,

Photo courtesy of Tyler Drendel

Ravi Zacharias has spoken to orthodox theological scholars of Islam and orthodox theological scholars of Christianity around the world. He speaks from experience when he says that those orthodox scholars who know the sacred texts do not say that the God of the Quran and the God of the Bible are the same deity. Pluralism is a positive and important cultural value, and we can value pluralism without sacrificing distinctions or truth.

We don’t embrace the beliefs of “Flat-earthers” in the name of pluralism. They are free to believe what they want to believe, but we shouldn’t let the flat earth position affect how we do science or how we view the world because of pluralism. An appreciation and respect for different cultures and ways of viewing and living in the world should not dictate an embrace of positions that are inherently contradictory with each other or compel us to abandon reason or truth.

In the clamor and noise of the connected world in which we live, we are tempted to minimize or ignore differences. We often only see a rudimentary and distorted view of things, and we are apt, therefore, to come to incomplete and inaccurate conclusions without a nuanced understanding of those things. We might be tempted to think that all major world religions are fundamentally geared in the same direction, being merely different approaches to the same end. We might be tempted to think that Christianity is a very politically orientated and conservative, western worldview that is arbitrarily exclusive and, therefore, elitist.

Ravi Zacharias grew up Hindu in a world in which Buddhism, Islam, and other religions were more prevalent than Christianity. His background lends some credibility to his observation that no religion offers redemption like Christianity does. Other world religions offer a way of attainment that must be earned. Christianity is unique in this respect in its view of God and our relation to God, and Christianity is uniquely accessible to all people in all places to the same extent.

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Our Transcendent Hope

Posted December 19, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Bible, Christian, eternal life, Hope, Jesus

Tags: , , , ,

Depositphotos Image ID: 84091092 Copyright: kevron2002

A very close friend of mine was expressing concern about the state of the world recently. Specifically, Donald Trump seems to be provoking the Korean dictator, like a bully provokes a mass murderer. I was not prepared for such an existential discussion, and I did not respond very well.

The concerns are real. I was haunted by the specter of nuclear war as a child growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. I even bought a poster of a mushroom cloud to hang on my wall, not because I wanted the world to end in a ball of fire, but because it was the reality I couldn’t ignore.

But we do learn to ignore realities likes that. Maybe because it’s hard to live with them, we learn to push them back into the recesses of our consciousness. We displace the angst with busyness, entertainment and other distractions.

The fact is that life is short and tenuous. Whether we live to be a hundred or 80 or only 8, life will end. This is also a harsh but true reality, but I’m afraid it isn’t very helpful for someone who is laboring under the burden of the weight of the world. I wish I had said something more.

I firmly believe this world is not all there is. We thirst, and water exists to quench our thirst. We hunger, and food exists to sate our hunger. It makes sense that, if we yearn for something transcendent, something transcendental exists to satisfy our existential longing.

We all seem to “know” this, but the world is so full of a thousand flim flam answers to the ultimate existential question that we hardly have any idea where to start looking. We might be tempted to seize on the first or closest one, like responding to that Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes mailer declaring you might be the winner, or we abandon any hope of an existential answer and resign ourselves to the material world.

Is there proof of something transcendent? How can we know? These are serious and heartfelt questions.

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Christmas, Taxes and a Heart for God

Posted December 16, 2017 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Bible, Forgiveness, grace, Holiday, Inspiration, Mercy

Tags: , ,

Photography ID: 166462566 Copyright: alefbet editorial use only
Archaeological site, City of David in Jerusalem, Israel on May 9, 2017

This blog article is prompted by a Christmas tax article. Yes, Christmas and income taxes go together. Who would’ve thunk it?!

In Luke 2:1, we read that Caesar Augustus sent out a decree for a census. It turns out the census was declared so that the Caesar could tax people. I didn’t know that before.

But that previously unknown fact (unknown to me at least) isn’t what caught my eye or what prompts this article. The article is also not about unjust taxes that burden the poor and line the pockets of the wealthy. Recollecting the census/tax at the time of Christ is certainly relevant and timely, not just because we are approaching Christmas, but for GOP tax bill that seems to be making its way to ultimate approval.

But that isn’t what really caught my eye either. That isn’t what prompts me to write. What prompts me to write this piece is the reference to a previous census and previous tax and the surprising and shocking instigator of that tax and the man of God who allowed it to happen – David.

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