The Elusive Equation

I first heard of the concept of  “A Theory of Everything” from a Norwegian physicist I met in Oslo in 1988 while on a National War College study trip.  I’m not that deep a thinker but I was fascinated by the idea, or possibility, that there might be an equation that could essentially describe all the various forces that make the universe tick.  Anyway, many moons since then, the theory resurfaces to me and this time via a movie which I have yet to see.  Here is a review of the film by a respected Catholic apologist.  I believe you’ll appreciate it, as I do, even without first seeing the movie. The review by Fr. Robert Barron appeared at: www.Strange Notions.com  as: A Theory of Everything: A God-Haunted Film.  RMF

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A Theory of Everything: A God-Haunted Film

by Fr. Robert Barron

Fr. Robert Barron

Fr. Robert Barron

The great British physicist Stephen Hawking has emerged in recent years as a poster boy for atheism, and his heroic struggles against the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease have made him something of a secular saint. The new biopic “A Theory of Everything” does indeed engage in a fair amount of Hawking-hagiography, but it is also, curiously, a God-haunted movie.
In one of the opening scenes, the young Hawking meets Jane, his future wife, in a bar and tells her that he is a cosmologist. “What’s cosmology?” she asks, and he responds, “Religion for intelligent atheists.” “What do cosmologists worship?” she persists. And he replies, “A single unifying equation that explains everything in the universe.” Later on, Stephen brings Jane to his family’s home for dinner and she challenges him, “You’ve never said why you don’t believe in God.” He says, “A physicist can’t allow his calculations to be muddled by belief in a supernatural creator,” to which she deliciously responds, “Sounds less of an argument against God than against physicists.”

Theory-of-Everything
This spirited back and forth continues throughout the film, as Hawking settles more and more into a secularist view and Jane persists in her religious belief. As Hawking’s physical condition deteriorates, Jane gives herself to his care with truly remarkable devotion, and it becomes clear that her dedication is born of her religious conviction. Though the great scientist concluded his most popular work with a reference to “knowing the mind of God,” it is obvious by the end of the film that he meant that line metaphorically. The last bit of information that we learn, just before the credits roll, is that Professor Hawking continues his quest to find the theory of everything, that elusive equation that will explain all of reality. Do you see why I say the entire film is haunted by God?  Continue reading

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Sex and Shellfish — What’s the Deal Here?

Whatever your beliefs regarding the morality of same sex marriage you’ve likely encountered the question regarding the seeming disparity regarding adherence to Old Testament prohibitions.  I.e., Christians steadfastly continue to follow some Old Testament standards while freely discarding others.  So, what’s with that?  This issue is discussed in an article by Dr. Peter Saunders at: www.thepoachedegg website.  Here is a link to this particular article.  Just for info, “The Poached Egg Christian Worldview and Apologetics Network, in partnership with Ratio Christi Student Apologetics Alliance, is where Christian apologetics, history, philosophy, science, theology, and pop culture collide.”  Their goal: “To help guide believers, seekers, and skeptics alike to the Ultimate Source of Truth and a better understanding of the Christian worldview.”  RMF

Why Christians may eat shellfish

but may not have sex outside marriage

By Dr. Peter Saunders 

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Shellfish

Dr. Peter Saunders

Dr. Peter Saunders

 An argument frequently advanced by those attempting to defend homosexual practice is that Christians ‘cherry pick’ the commands in the Bible – that is, they chose to emphasise some commands while ignoring others.

The Old Testament may forbid homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:2; 20:13) but it also forbids eating seafood without fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9-12; Deuteronomy 14:9, 10).

So how can Christians then justify upholding laws on sexual morality whilst at the same time ignoring the food laws from the very same books of the Bible? Why may they eat shellfish but not be allowed to have sex outside marriage? Isn’t this inconsistent and hypocritical?

Didn’t Jesus himself say that ‘anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven’? (Matthew 5:19)

The answer to this question lies in an understanding of biblical covenants.  Continue reading

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A Word of Reason – Sin ID’d as Culpret

I believe the following post by Benjamin Watson, currently a tight end with the New Orleans Saints, is especially insightful because he is a respected man of color.  I know that he absolutely captures my feelings.  While serving a career in law enforcement I witnessed first hand fellow agents who abused their power.  I also observed the fact that stereotypes are alive and well and I’ve certainly formed plenty of my own.  When I watch the evening news on TV and the lead-in is something like “There’s been another shooting in DC,” my mind’s eye tends to picture the perp.  You probably would have a similar mental image.  That is the natural result of expectations based on experience that we all have.  Similarly, because of my background, abuse of power is not my default image when I think of police or law enforcement.  On the contrary I have very positive thoughts.  In addition to the countless acts of self sacrifice I’ve personally observed by law enforcement personnel I also think of my son, Thatcher.  Thatcher serves as a sworn Auxiliary Police Officer for the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) and has devoted thousands of hours of community service in that capacity — and out of dedication — totally voluntary.  The same for Lisa Kennedy, a friend at our church who volunteers for the FCPD.  Still, I know that if I had a different background, lived in a different environment, had a different set of life experiences, I would probably view the police in a far less benign manner.  I would probably think abuse instead of sacrifice for community benefit.  So, what is the deal with Ferguson, MO.  I love this brief Facebook posting by Benjamin Watson because it digs down to the root of the issue. (Here is the link to his Facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/oo9szxv.) And, he doesn’t just stop there.  He provides a solution.  I’m thankful for Benjamin Watson and am officially changing my football loyalty to the New Orleans Saints — at least until the Burgundy and Goal decide to join the active ranks of the NFL.  RMF

New Orleans Saints player Benjamin Watson’s Facebook Post on Ferguson

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

images I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

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The Blessings of a Thankful Heart

Here is a brief Thanksgiving  devotional by Max Lucado that originally appeared on faithgateway.com.  RMF

On Gratitude

By

Max Lucado

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Max Lucado A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything.

Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us (John 14:2).  Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier. What’s more, Jesus cured our leprosy. Sin cankered our souls and benumbed our senses. Yet the Man on the path told us we were healed, and, lo and behold, we were!

The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over the day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A zillion diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night. Thank you, God. A miracle of muscles enables your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. Thank you, God. Your lungs inhale and exhale eleven thousand liters of air every day. Your heart will beat about three billion times in your lifetime. Your brain is a veritable electric generator of power. Thank you, God.

For the jam on our toast and the milk on our cereal. For the blanket that calms us and the joke that delights us and the warm sun that reminds us of God’s love. For the thousands of planes that did not crash today. For the men who didn’t cheat on their wives, and the wives who didn’t turn from their men, and the kids who, in spite of unspeakable pressure to dishonor their parents, decided not to do so. Thank you, Lord.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments.

To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover His heart. To discover His heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.

Join the ranks of the 10 percent who give God a standing ovation. “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20, NLT).

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Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri — A Problem of the Human Heart

What a tragedy – the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.  The following is the best commentary on the situation that I have read.  It is by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.  Dr. Mohler serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.  This article appeared first at: www.albertmohler.com  as: The Ferguson Moment – A Moral Test for the Nation.  RMF

The Ferguson Moment—A Moral Test for the Nation

By

Albert Mohler

This is an edited transcript of The Briefing podcast from early Tuesday morning, November 25, 2014, hours after the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury announcement.

Police Cruiser Lights

Dr. R. Albert Mohler

Dr. R. Albert Mohler

The grand jury decision Americans were waiting for came Monday night in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. As the Washington Post reports,

“A grand jury on Monday declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, resolving a secretive, months-long legal saga and reigniting powerful frustrations about America’s policing of African Americans.”

The lead article on the issue in the New York Times offered a similar view of the facts:

“A St. Louis County grand jury has brought no criminal charges against Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, more than three months ago in nearby Ferguson.”

The reporters, Monica Davey and Julie Bosman, go on to say,

Jury box Photo by Jason Doiy 2-9-11 054-2011 “The decision by the grand jury of nine whites and three blacks was announced Monday night by the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, at a news conference packed with reporters from around the world. The killing, on a residential street in Ferguson, set off weeks of civil unrest — and a national debate — fueled by protesters’ outrage over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men. Mr. McCulloch said Officer Wilson had faced charges ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.”

But as the news reports uniformly indicate, the grand jury found no probable cause to bring an indictment on any one of these crimes against Officer Wilson.

For the most part, the announcement is exactly what legal analysts expected. It is very difficult to bring a charge against a police officer who was involved in this kind of shooting in the line of duty. In almost any jurisdiction, this kind of police shooting would have led to an internal affairs investigation—not to a grand jury consideration. But the political stakes in Ferguson, Missouri were always high—especially after the images of the body of Michael Brown on the ground on a residential street in that city spread throughout St. Louis and the world.

As big a story as the announcement from the grand jury was in itself, the aftermath has become an even larger story, and exactly the kind of larger story that was feared. For what happened in the aftermath of the announcement from the grand jury was an outbreak of violent protests that set at least some parts of the neighborhood of Ferguson, Missouri on fire.

Furthermore, the protests in the St. Louis area turned violent with police reporting widespread automatic gunfire in the city. Americans saw a constant video stream of arsonist protesters and looters rampaging through some St. Louis neighborhoods. As the night wore on, the Federal Aviation Administration stopped all incoming flights into St. Louis’ major airports, citing automatic gunfire in the immediate area of the airport as the cause. As the evening wore on, protest spread to other major American cities as well. In the aftermath of the grand jury’s announcement, the family of Michael Brown, including his parents, called for protests to be peaceful, but their own admonition was not heeded.

Furthermore, as the evening continued, President Obama spoke to the nation from the White House about the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri. Christians trying to understand what is at stake in this very sad spectacle should pay particular attention to President Obama’s comments. The president stated,

“As you know, a few moments ago, the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. It’s an outcome that, either way, was going to be subject of intense disagreement not only in Ferguson, but across America. So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward.”

In one of his most important public statements to date, President Obama continued saying,

“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction. But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words: ‘Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.’  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes.”

As the president continued his remarks, he turned to address law enforcement officials saying,

“I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur. Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law. As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence—distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.”

Finally, the president said,

“We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.”

The president’s comments were restrained and responsible. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to imagine a more suitable and responsible set of comments for a president to make—much less the nation’s first elected African-American president.

The president went on to talk about the cooperation needed between the police and the community during this time:

“Working with law enforcement officials to make sure their ranks are representative of the communities they serve. We know that makes a difference. It means working to train officials so that law enforcement conducts itself in a way that is fair to everybody.”

This is a fundamental statement that virtually everyone should agree with. The difficulty is pulling that off in the context of heightened tensions. In a truly tragic juxtaposition, even as the president was speaking such judicious words, the media displayed a video stream of burning buildings, looting and vandalism, and protesters committing violent actions in the street.

The president’s statement also included these very important words:

“But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.”

When you think about how President Obama should address the issue, once again it’s hard to imagine how a statement could be more judicious and responsible than that. He went on to say,

“Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion. I don’t think that’s the norm. I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials. But these are real issues. And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down. What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress. And that can be done. That won’t be done by throwing bottles. That won’t be done by smashing car windows. That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property. And it certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody. So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively. Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive. The vast majority of peaceful protesters, they understand it as well.”

In his comments on the decision, the prosecutor pointed to the 24-hour news cycle as a catalyst for many in the culture to rush to judgment on this issue. While it’s easy to understand the society’s rush to judgment, it is also impossible to excuse it. This reminds us of something very important. What we see on television or social media is only a micro picture—a very small fraction of what is actually taking place. It’s very dangerous to assume we know the entire story just by witnessing the images of violence in St. Louis. Many news media outlets, for example, gave almost no attention to the many peaceful protests that were occurring simultaneously.

At the same time, what the media did broadcast was horrifying. One of the most important things the president said last night is that Americans believe in the rule of law. He rightly noted that the decision was the grand jury’s to make. What the president did not say, probably for sake of time and clarity, was that the very existence of the grand jury is one of the great civil rights protections Americans have by virtue of the United States Constitution. Grand juries, made up of ordinary citizens in the community, exist as a buffer between the police, the prosecutors, and the people so that the police and prosecutors are prevented from bringing frivolous charges on inadequate evidence against an individual. That is a very important protection the United States Constitution grants us.

The grand jury considered between 60 and 70 hours of testimony, including the rather unusual opportunity to have face-to-face testimony from Darren Wilson himself. In keeping with the rules of the grand jury, the officer agreed to meet before the panel without the benefit of his own attorney. The grand jury was charged with a very serious responsibility. It had to look at the evidence, indeed it had to sift through the evidence, using its own authority to subpoena witnesses and to compel testimony from them. At the end of the day, the grand jury found that there was no adequate evidence to find probable cause to charge Officer Wilson with any of the available criminal counts against him, which ranged from counts of murder all the way down to manslaughter.

When the president spoke of the importance of the rule of law he pointed to the importance of civilization. One of the things that Christians should think about very seriously in this matter is the fact that this kind of justice system, the very existence of the grand jury and its responsibility to deliberate these issues on behalf of the people, is a testimony to the rule of law as an achievement of civilization. This requires community trust and cohesion; it requires the furnishing and the nourishing of institutions—including the judiciary, the police, and an entire system of customs and patterns of laws and statutes that make order within the society possible.

At the same time, we must note several important points. Even as we recognize the necessity of these judicial systems, we must also hear the accusations from those who argue that the system is broken. In one sense, Christians understand that every system is only as good as the frail and faulty human beings who are involved in it. There is no perfect system because human beings comprise these systems. This means that some of the accusations and concerns coming from the African-American community must be taken very seriously. Christians should be at the forefront of demanding that these concerns be thoroughly vetted, heard, and considered. After all, we know that as important as these systems are, every system breaks down due to human sin. It is no insult to the system or to society to make certain that we are continually watching to see if we are living up to our ideals—including the ideal of equal justice before the law.

Furthermore, we cannot figure the lessons of history. African-Americans can document many miscarriages of justice in which the police and law enforcement officials were very clearly using the rule of law as a weapon rather than as a protection for African-Americans. Christians operating out of the biblical worldview understand the importance of law. Furthermore, we understand the importance of maintaining institutions of social stability in order to protect human flourishing. Yet we must also remind ourselves that justice is an achievement, an achievement that must be true for the entirety of the society. If any within our society are on the underside of the rule of law, not because they have broken the law but because the law is being wrongly applied or it is being selectively enforced, then we must respond. Injustice to one ends up eventually being injustice to all

The images coming out of Ferguson also remind us of the fact that the kind of reform that is needed in our society cannot be brought about by flaunting the justice system with the kind of injustice that was seen on the streets. The rule of law cannot be improved, nor corrected—much less reformed—by lawlessness.

It will take some time for the dust to settle on this case and there may be further legal issues yet in the future. But this much is clear: the people of St. Louis have a great deal of rebuilding to do—the rebuilding of trust, the rebuilding of social institutions, the rebuilding of cohesion, the rebuilding of the relationship between the police and the people. Those are very high responsibilities.

The nation as a whole also still faces the responsibility to look at the questions of race and the law, of law enforcement injustice, of righteousness and mercy, and the rule of law. The nation must consider anew what must be done in order to make our system of justice even fairer for all. Yet that type of reform would require a level of honesty that was notably absent from almost every dimension of this controversy. We can be almost sure that after some period of protest things will calm. They always do. But that does not mean that the problem has gone away. Christians know that the responsibility is ours to make certain that problems are not merely swept under the rug and that we do not look for a false peace.

President Obama’s words last night were a very good start. This might be an opportunity for his personal presidential leadership to be demonstrated in a way that could lead to a significant gain for the entire nation. In the final analysis, Christians looking at the events and the images coming from Ferguson should be prompted to remember just how urgently we need to pray for our nation and for our communities. We need to pray for the Brown family grieving the death of a son. The reality is they had a son who is now dead whom they loved. At the very least, Christians must pray for that family as they suffer a grief compounded by the events of recent days—even as their own call for peaceful protest was flaunted by so many protesters.

We also need to remember to pray for those who are also involved in this in ways that others might not remember. We need to pray for the police, we need to pray for those in legal authority, we need to pray not only for the Brown family but also for the Wilson family, and we need to pray that all will be protected from harm. We need to pray for peace in all of our communities, even as we recognize that the Bible teaches us that peace is the product of righteousness. Where there is no righteousness, there is no peace.

In the immediate aftermath of the events in Ferguson, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board made this statement:

“One measure—perhaps the measure—of a civilized society is the respect it shows for the rule of law. The decision by a grand jury not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown is such a test for America.”

That is a profoundly important sentence. The events in Ferguson, the larger context of conflict between African-American communities and the police, the continuing scar of racial division in America, the immediate aftermath of the decision by the grand jury in Missouri—all of these things point profoundly to the fact that they are a test for America. One of the most encouraging aspects of President Obama’s comments last night was the fact that the president spoke very carefully—even hopefully—as he cited improvements in race relations in America and his hope that these kinds of challenges can be met by responsible Americans. We must pray and work so that the images of brokenness so apparent in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision can be transformed into images of wholeness.

From time to time, every nation, every people, and every community faces a series of tests—moral tests, economic tests, political and social tests. These events represent a huge moral test for America. Ground Zero of that test is the community of St. Louis, Missouri—especially the neighborhood of Ferguson. But intelligent Christians operating out of a biblical worldview know that this is not just a problem for Ferguson. It is the problem of the human heart. As Christians, we understand that the Bible and the Bible alone gives us an adequate understanding of where these problems reside, where they come from, and how they can only be solved. These tests can bring out the best or the worst in a people, a community, or nation. As we look at the situation in America, let us fervently pray that this test will bring out the best and not the worst of all the American people.

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Why are you here? We’re talkin’ purpose.

Last week I posted an article by Jen Wilkin regarding God’s promises.  One of God’s greatest promises is that He has a purpose for me — and for everyone.  Just think about the implication of that easily missed or passed over promise.  I’m probably more attuned to the idea of God’s having a purpose for me because of my friendship with Todd Wilson.  Todd is a brilliant “futurist” and a living example of one who has actively sought and discovered God’s unique purpose for his life.  Todd has written about and now teaches  extensively on discovering and then, most importantly, acting on the knowledge of that purpose.  The benefit of finding God’s purpose in a person’s life, as Todd puts it, is that will be the person’s “sweet spot,” where life becomes a joy irrespective of the difficulties and obstacles that purpose may subject one to.  Anyway, here is a neat article on life purpose by J.D. Greear, a pastor, theologian, and author.  The original article appeared at: jdgreear.com as:  Does God Have a Purpose for My Life?  RMF

Pastor J. D. Greear
Pastor J. D. Greear

DOES GOD HAVE A PURPOSE FOR MY LIFE?

Little in life is as important as finding purpose. If you know a certain experience has a purpose, you can endure all kinds of hardship because of it. But if you don’t see a purpose, any hardship—however small—feels like drudgery.

I’m convinced that if we could get a hold of God’s purpose for us, really sense what he has for us, that it would completely reshape how we see our lives. It would transform what we do with our blessings; it would transform how we interpret our pain. Nothing would ever look the same again.

got_plans_mugMost people want to know God’s purpose for their lives, but they simply don’t know where to look. Is it possible to even know God’s purpose for our lives? And how do we discover what it is?

Psalm 57 teaches us three truths about our God-given purpose:

1. God has a purpose for you – but it’s not about you (Psalm 57:5,11)

David’s situation in Psalm 57 is pretty dire. The little note at the heading of the psalm indicates that David is writing this while he’s hiding in a cave (not ideal writing conditions). Saul, the current king of Israel, is applying every lever of force to find and kill David, so David is on the lam. To say that this was not David’s “best life now” would be an understatement.

But as I read through Psalm 57, I don’t see a single request for God to change his circumstance. Instead, we keep hearing David say, “God, may you be exalted above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.”Superseding David’s desire to be rescued is his prayer for God to be glorified.

The ultimate purpose of your life is not about you. You exist for God’s glory. I exist for God’s glory. Every person you meet and have ever met exists for God’s glory. Even creation cries out: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). This is by no means easy for us to grasp, since our default setting in life is self-centered. For instance, my kids are self-centered, just like me, but not because I trained them that way. No one ever has to teach their child to say, “Mine!” And while most of us learn to temper that unbridled selfishness as we get older (most, not all), our prayer lives often reveal how little has changed in our hearts. For most of us, our prayer lives can be summarized in three words: “Gimme, gimme, gimme!”  We live as if God exists to glorify us as the center of the universe.

If we’re going to discover God’s purpose for our lives, we need to have a Copernican revolution of the soul: the world does not revolve around me. Jesus didn’t come to be an important planet in our solar system; he came to be the center of it. We will never understand our purpose—in times of pain or times of blessing—until God’s glory outweighs our self-centeredness.

2. God has a purpose for you – and it’s mostly about what he’s doingin you (57:1).

When life seems unfair, our refuge and faith must be in God, knowing that he is doing something in us. Most of us think that if our life is not full of rainbows, sunshine, and puppies that God must not be happy with us. But God is more interested in making us holy rather than just happy.

Notice how many times in verse 1 David talks about his soul finding refuge in God: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” David’s refuge was not in the cave he was hiding; his refuge was in God’s presence. And that’s God’s purpose for you, too.

All of us have a place of refuge, something or someone we look to for safety, security, and identity. For some it’s in a job or a bank account. For others it’s in prestige or recognition. For some it’s in a relationship. For others it’s in the bottom of a bottle. But it doesn’t matter how acceptable or unacceptable the refuge seems. If your refuge is not in God, it will fail, because God will often attack your place of refuge to teach you that it isn’t permanent. This can be painful, but God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

3. God has a purpose for you – and if you are surrendered to it, he will fulfill it (57:2).

In verse 2 David says, “God will fulfill his purpose for me.” David understands that God is a perfectionist: when it comes to his purposes, he will not let anything come in the way of what he is doing.

Here’s the irony: only when you say, “I don’t want to be the center of the universe,” will God reorder all things in the universe to fulfill his purpose for you. Make yourself the center of the universe, and nothing will work for you. Make God the center of your universe, and the entire cosmos is realigned for God to fulfill his purposes for you.

Once you’ve surrendered to God’s purpose, you’ll be able to lie down and sleep even in the midst of “fiery beasts,” and rise up with joyful song even in the midst of heartache.

God has a purpose for you. He wants to use you to exalt his name in the earth and he wants to teach you to trust him. Whatever situation you find yourself in right now, know that it’s okay—even good—to pray for God to change the situation. But God’s first purpose is that you would be able to pray, “God, glorify your name through me in this.” “Help me know you more.” Don’t waste your pain, and don’t squander your blessings: they’re both gifts from a good God who has a purpose for you life.

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The Under-Dawgs

Football fans and lovers of the under-Dawgs everywhere and in every situation.  HERE is a link to a neat little article that appeared in this morning’s Washington Post.  The author, Neely Tucker,  is a third-generation Mississippi State Bulldawg (not to be confused with the much more prosperous and well-regarded Georgia Bulldawgs), and claims he has the liver to prove it. Today, Mississippi State is playing Alabama, and guess which team is No. 1.  Amazingly it is Mississippi State.  Although, that should not be confused with being the favorites in today’s game.  No, Alabama’s Crimson Tide is favored.  This all makes for an exciting matchup which became all the more significant to me after reading the article.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I’m conficent Mr. Tucker enjoyed writing it.  RMF

Mississippi State is playing Alabama, and guess which team is No. 1

Neely Tucker

Neely Tucker

By Neely Tucker November 14, 2014

Heellllloooooo down there, small and tiny people of college football land!

You appear far and wee. Clouds billow by us and we, the Lords of College Football, your very own Mississippi State Bulldogs, sit atop Mt. Footbaw and regard y’all with a clanga-clanga of the cowbell.

No, we don’t know what we’re doing up here, either.

We awoke from a bourbon dream on the back porch after the Auburn game and . . . WHOA, lookit Sportscenter! The top teams in the championship playoff! Hi ’Bama, you’re No. 5! Oregon, you’re No. 2. Defending national champs Florida State? You’re No. 3.   Continue reading

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