Friday, November 26, 2010

Faith and Thanksgiving

Most popular Thanksgiving illustration from yesterday's sermon:

A pastor goes to eat at a restaurant by himself. A stranger joins him at his table. When their food arrives, the pastor bows his head and silently prays.

The stranger asks: "Do you have a headache?" "No," the pastor says.

"Is your food okay?" "Yes, I was just giving thanks," the pastor says.

"Oh, you're one of those guys," the stranger replies. "I work for my money and pay for my food. I don't give thanks to anyone. I just dig right in."

The pastor smiles a bit and then says, "Yeah, that's what my dog does too!"

Giving thanks to God is the first response of the gift of faith. No faith, No thanks.

[This illustration was adapted from Ray Stedman, Folk Psalms of Faith]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Philosophical Black Hole of Atheism

There are important questions that all of us should think about:

1. Where did I come from?
2. Who am I?
3. What should I be doing?
4. Where am I going?

The Christian answers:

1. From God ("So God created man in His image..." Genesis 1.27-28)
2. God's child ("See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God..." 1 John 3.1)
3. Loving God and my neighbor ("Love the Lord Your God... and your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22.37 &39)
4. To be with God eternally ("For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6.40)

The Atheist answers:

1. An accident of nature.
2. What I do... an engineer, teacher, mother, etc.
3. What pleases me.
4. To nothing.

The Atheist considers the Christian answers nothing more than imaginative constructions to give him a sense of meaning and hope. But the Atheist denies God so that he can imagine the universe to be God. There are no absolute morals, only molecules. For this reason the Atheist lives in the middle, lives for the moment, does what is pleasing for now.

Those choices are all arbitrary. Ultimately everything becomes a mechanical, mindless process of evolution. And if that is so, why care about poverty? Why care about the environment? Why care who lives or dies? Why? Does the sodium ion argue with the chloride ion about becoming salt?

The philosophical black hole of atheism is to deny the spirit in nature. In the Nicene Creed we confess: "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth AND of all things visible and invisible." God created us with a spirit, and it is through the spirit that we are able to believe in God.