This blog has moved…

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Reflections

This blog has moved on to bigger and better things. Please visit our new and vastly improved site at:

BurkeDaniel.com

Why Am I Killing This Blog?

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Reflections

A few folks have asked me why I am killing off this blog. The reason is simple: We’re building a new one. It is still a few weeks away from launch, but content is still being created! Man it is looking awesome, too.

If you would like to be a “Beta Reader” of the new site before we launch, please send me your email address in the comments section of this post!

I hope that each time my faith is tested, that I come through for Jesus. I read courageous stories about ancient Christians under persecution for their faith and I wonder if many of us can measure up. In the pages of history, Christians persevere through slow, violent deaths. In today’s U.S., churchgoers leave the church over what times a church service is offered, how cool the band is or isn’t, how much the ministers on staff gave personal round the clock attention to particular church attendees, or how late a service ends. It is different in other parts of the world. In those seemingly distant, surreal places on this earth only viewable through our high speed internet connections, Christians still face death at the hands of governments, religious mobs, and their own neighbors.

I’m a Christian. I’m called to share the Gospel wherever and whenever I can. I’m a husband. I’m called to love my wife as Christ loved the church. I’m a father. I’m called to teach my kids how to be followers of Jesus, protect them from harm, provide for their needs, and help them make it in this world. I’m a pastor. I’m called to make disciples of Jesus, and protect my crew from “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Sometimes I get to sing with the entire church as we celebrate together over what God has done. Sometimes the world becomes a total mess, and my ability to fulfill my calling as a Christian, husband, father, and pastor are challenged hard core. There are days when I show up in a room and I feel like a king, and other days where bullets fly and it feels like a war zone. No matter what, my calling is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And if there are bullets, I’m called to sing while the bullets fly.

Martha is a teacher. She sang songs when the bullets started flying. Endless analogies. I hope my faith can measure up.

Photo By Jared Eberhardt, from Flickr

I’m writing in response to recent comments made by Stephen Hawking. I have not the education nor the accolades that Hawking possesses. Please forgive my lack of such credentials, just as I forgive his lack of sound research or academic honesty.

Reknowned physicist and uber braniac Stephen Hawking has declared that “heaven” is not real, and belief in life after death is for those who are “afraid of the dark.” This comes from the same man who believes there are special dimensional portals in outer space called “wormholes” leading to alternate dimensions, and that there are hostile alien races out there ready to snatch up everything from our fossil fuels to our stockpiles of Red Bull and Twinkies.

For once, and maybe only this once, Hawking doesn’t have a clue as to what he is talking about. His data is all wrong. The Bible doesn’t teach that Christians will spend eternity in “heaven” at all. The Bible is all about the resurrection from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead. Believers in Christ will rise from the dead. Hawking’s argument is based on a limited understanding of Scripture when he disses on “heaven” as the summary of the Christian experience. It is almost as if he didn’t bother to do proper research before dismissing an entire belief system. That’s sloppy.

Death is the violent separation of the immaterial and material parts of humanity. It is the result of sin upon humanity. Our bodies return back to the dust of the earth from where we were formed in the first place, and our immaterial souls are rescued by the Grace of God in Christ, joining Him in heaven. Eternity (life after death) is a literal, physical, resurrection from the dead, where our immaterial and material parts are restored to God’s design; we once again become one. No aliens. No holes in space to secret worlds. Just an all powerful God rescuing humanity from our own self-imposed destruction.

Stephen Hawking will never read this blog, and I will never have an opportunity to ask this brilliant man some questions. But is my faith in the power of God somehow more of a “fairy tale” than Hawking’s trust in unseen and undetected matter? Is my belief in an eternal and omnipotent God that created all that there is out of nothing to be downgraded as myth, while quantum physics, an M-Theory trump card to explain anything without God, & time travel are lauded as scientifically plausible, all the while doing nothing to clear up the glaring dilemma of how SOMETHING came to exist of out NOTHING? Is the human brain really just a computer as Hawking says, which ceases to function when the components wear out?

Again, Stephen Hawking is much more respected than I am, and his words carry weight with many in academia. However, I ask that you forgive my low station just as I forgive his ignorance. Science has changed dramatically over just the last few hundred years. Christian orthodoxy has not. Which is more foolish: to completely dismiss the existence of “God” or to include Him as a possibility?

God’s Facebook

Posted: May 9, 2011 in Reflections

What if the Bible Characters had Facebook [Infographic]God’s Facebook (via @Crosswalk)

God hasn’t forgotten you. Even if not a single other person seems to understand, He’s got it sorted out. When others don’t even know how to pray for you, He’s all set. That is good news.

It is never a good thing for us to celebrate death, since it is the result of our sin against God. However this time, my emotion and desire has clearly overwhelmed my theology.

Osama bin-Laden is dead. The man who orchestrated massive terror attacks against the United States and other nations has been identified, killed, and disposed of by the American military. In New York City, people have been celebrating since last night as if the Yankees had just won another World Series. In Washington D.C., every twentysomething young adult poured out of the local gin mills and flash mobbed the White House gates. The crowd at the Phillies vs. Mets game started chanting “U-S-A” as people started checked the push notifications on their iPhones about our president’s coming announcement. There is a lot of energy in the USA today, especially in Yankee territory.

Last night on my Twitter feed I noticed the conflicted emotions of us religious types. High profile pastors like Steven Furtick and Mark Driscoll were elated at the news, while musician Derek Webb cautioned the twitterverse “don’t celebrate death, celebrate Justice”, and Michael Hyatt quoted Proverbs 24:17. Some pastors just started getting silly waiting for President Obama who ended up appearing on television almost an hour late. People were going back and forth on the issue, with some excited about the prospect of hell gaining citizens, and others horrified by the notion that Christians were celebrating the death of another human life. In summary, some were dancing in the streets because of Justice, and others were screaming that we should remember Mercy.

Why the conflict? Because we all want Justice, and we all want mercy for ourselves. We’re conflicted because we’re fallen, sinful, and ourselves completely unjust, unrighteous, and dead apart from Jesus.

In Christ, God gives both. No sin has or will go without Justice:

5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, New International Version, ©2011)

Jesus “became sin” and the object of God’s wrath, so that we receive mercy. The Father sent the Son so that we would receive mercy, just as He would certainly dispense Justice. So celebrate Justice. And desperately seek mercy. It is never a good thing for us to celebrate death, since it is the result of our sin against God. However, this time, my emotions have clearly overwhelmed my theology.

To quote Steven Furtick again: “I DO mourn death=The widespread death that Bin Laden’s life created. Today we MUST celebrate the sacrifice & victory of our troops.”