Sunday School at Faith Community Church

Our congregation took a turn June 5, 2016. Since our early days in 1978 we have had a regular practice of meeting on Sunday mornings for Sunday School. What happened June 5? It was our last Sunday to do Sunday School.

What I want to do is briefly summarize why we did this and speak to where we are headed.

Sunday School first began in England in the late 1700s. The original design was to educate children who worked and did not have access to formal schooling. Sunday School evolved from that to become what it is today, a Bible study for the church.

Our fellowship averages between 70-80 people on a given Sunday. Apart from the morning worship service, Sunday School has traditionally required the largest amount of time and resources. We lined up nursery workers for children ages 0-3 and teachers for the following children’s age groups (3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-17). Sometimes we would add or subtract a class given attendance and need. We then had an adult Sunday School class. Not surprisingly, Sunday School was the biggest ministry of our church! We have been blessed to have so many diligent and willing volunteers to teach and recruit workers through all these years.

So why would we do away with this ministry?

There are several reasons. One, the biblical model for the discipleship of children rests with the parents (Eph. 6:1-4). In the context of the home the parents both teach and model the gospel for their children. Within the predictable patterns of the home, children can be immersed in the expressions of a biblical faith. Within the home children receive verbal instruction attended with consistent expressions which they can imitate. Eventually, they leave their homes and innovate as they live out the gospel in homes of their own.

Two, without realizing it, our primary energies and resources are going to ourselves! Bible study is good and Christian education is good. But what are we communicating about discipleship if the balance of most of our resources go toward Sunday School? Discipleship, we believe, is more than accruing information about the Bible. Teaching and information is a critical part of discipleship but it is not discipleship in and of itself.

Finally, in assessing where we are, it has become apparent to us that we need to cultivate more missional DNA. What is that? We speak here of the posture of a fellowship toward the outside world. Do we speak a language that is understandable? Do we have patterns that are translatable? Are we answering questions that an outside world is asking? Does our fellowship have a culture that is pointed outward? By missional DNA we mean embracing and practicing habits that give local expression to the “Go” in Matt. 28.

These are the reasons for the change.

However, doing away with Sunday School is not enough. I like to think of it this way. One vehicle worked for a season but the season ahead calls for a different vehicle. The new vehicle for our fellowship is what we’re calling the missional community. What will this look like? This will be a non-Sunday gathering of believers from a particular area who meet together to do worship, community, and mission. This will be the expression of an Acts 2:42 kind of Christianity.

We believe that discipleship will be more efficient in this context as opposed to a Sunday School context. This vehicle will have the added benefit of greater flexibility when it comes to “connecting with the unengaged.” As we move forward our energies and resources are going towards equipping leaders to lead in this missional community context.

As I like to tell our people over and over, salvation comes from the Lord, not a vehicle! We put no trust in strategies or plans. Our trust is in the Lord and in him we put our hope. With the Lord as our strength we proceed forward by faith.

Theological Madness

I was reading the other morning in Jeremiah.

Before I get into what I read, let me say something about reading the prophets. I fight pretense, I hate it, I despise it. Yet, it crops up again and again. When the Lord speaks to us there is no room for games, play, pretending. When I read the prophets I feel the lack of a gap between me and the Lord. It is like he is in my personal space. You know, like when you get down on your child’s level and say, “Look in my eyes.” The point at which they make eye contact is the point at which they listen.  Reading the prophets is to hear his voice so directly that confusion cannot be present.

In Jeremiah 21:2 we read this from the Message Bible “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has waged war against us. Pray to God for us. Ask him for help. Maybe God will intervene with one of his famous miracles and make him leave.”

When I read this I was literally astonished! I couldn’t believe the audacity of the petitioner, Zedekiah. He was asking the prophet Jeremiah to intercede on his behalf.  Before we get into the historical context let me sketch a few examples from every day life which might capture the dynamics behind this request.

One, the baseball player rounds third, forgets to touch the bag, but continues to run on, crosses home plate, and is called out. He then turns to the umpire and asks if maybe he could be called “safe”, just this one time. Two, the taxpayer has not figured his taxes correctly. He owes more than he thinks he does. So, he calls the IRS and asks if, in light of his mistake, he could skip paying the part he thought he didn’t owe. Three, the boyfriend repeatedly ignores the texts, calls, and emails of his girlfriend. Then, he comes back to her and acts like everything is good.

For years the prophets have been warning Judah about her dysfunctional behavior. God had graciously warned them over and over. He appealed but to no avail. They literally didn’t listen. Now God was bringing the consequences to Judah. Their response, “Hey, is there some way we could skip the consequences part?” It is madness in itself to think this way.

What is at issue is this, “I want to receive grace without repenting.” In order to be safe, the runner has to touch third. In order to be fine with the IRS, the taxpayer has to pay what is due. In order to have a good relationship with his girlfriend, the young man must maintain trust with her.

Have you heard the expression, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”?

Here it is. God respects himself too much to disregard his own ways. This is why he is God. He doesn’t go along with dysfunctional behavior. He never goes co-dependent on someone. He is the only healthy person in the room, so to speak. He will not allow his own people to hurt others, themselves, apart from his voice and discipline.

Is grace still available? Yes it is. But there must be repentance first!

It seems to me that the Christ speaks to us all the time, in loving correction. He speaks through people, circumstances, and through pain in our lives. Rather than stopping to consider what he is saying and attributing what we are hearing to him, we keep plugging along. So what happens? There is a level of disconnect. We slip into theological foolishness and say things like, “Ouch, Lord, that hurts, is there any way you can take this away without me having to square with the past?”

By paying attention to the source of the pain and repenting of it, we can find a way of escape. This is building our houses on rock. Let’s regard his voice as more important than the fleeting pleasure of doing it my way. By continuing in bad behavior we will certainly continue being stuck.

Foster Care in Williamson County TN

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November is Orphan Awareness Month.  As a church, we paused on November 8 to highlight the needs of orphans and bring awareness to the need we have.  The Department of Children’s Services in Williamson County also came and shared with us what is going on inside the foster care system.

Before we get into what they said, I’d like to give some statistics on Williamson County which might be of interest. The stats all come from 2014 so they may have changed a little in one year but not much. Here they are.

  • Median Household Income:  $93,337
  • Over 50% of the residents have Bachelors or Graduate degrees
  • Unemployment is at 2.9%
  • There are 71,407 households

The statistics above indicate what is commonly known, Williamson County is one of the wealthiest counties in our nation. We are currently ranked 16th wealthiest in 2015.  Additionally, our county is the healthiest and the most educated county in TN.

So, it was with utter incredulity that I heard DCS worker, Robin Sloan say there are only three homes in Williamson County that are qualified to take in a foster child aged 12-18.  I was a little surprised, is this true?

I’m not sure what all of that means. For Williamson County residents, we know there are many churches here, hundreds. I would think between the churches, we could take care of this dilemma. There is probably an information gap, people do not know where the need is.  Additionally, just because someone makes $93,000 doesn’t mean he/she has a lot of time to devote to other things.  All that said, the stats are still perplexing and I’m not sure we come out looking so good.

We want to take ownership of our city and county, do what we can to apply the gospel to every situation, including serving the disadvantaged.  As believers, we needn’t devote ourselves to judging, pontificating, and speculating about solutions.  We put our hands to the work and do what we can, trusting that God will receive that work and make much of it.

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A visit from our founding pastor

Paul and Rowena Martin

Paul and Rowena Martin

This past Sunday, Oct. 18, we did something special for our morning worship service. We had our founding pastor, Paul Martin, come in from McHenry IL to speak to us. Following the worship service, we had a meal together and then did some Q&A with Paul and his wife, Rowena.

Here is some background on how these things came to be. I first came to serve as the pastor of Faith Community Church in 2007. When I did I asked about those who came before me. Bernie Anderson was the man who preceded me. He pastored for thirteen years. However, before Bernie things were vague. Three men served before him, one of whom died. But the founding pastor, they told me, was a man named Paul Martin.

I actually tried to get in touch with him earlier on but was unable. Eventually I succeeded and was delighted to hear the story of how we started. Our conversations led to having Paul come and preach for us this past Sunday. I must say, this was one of the most meaningful and spiritually satisfying Sundays I’ve had in my ministry.

Churches have personalities, memories, and stories, just like people. It is good to know where you come from and have a sense of your history. God places churches in cities, towns for his own good pleasure. He gives churches a charge, a deposit if you will to which they are to remain faithful. To me it seems, this is nothing to overlook nor is this a point on which we should be ignorant.

Faith Community Church has had its own fair shares of struggles recently with needing direction and focus. When I hear stories of what was going on at the beginning of our church I wondered if in some sense, we have gotten derailed. We owned a building at one time! So I asked Paul to come and my purpose in having him come was two-fold: honor Paul and his wife for their labors as well as remind our fellowship of our beginnings.

So Paul gave us the story of the early days and here it is. Paul and Rowena came to Franklin and planted Alliance Bible Church in 1978. They launched with an eight day missions conference! For eight days straight they celebrated the cause of missions worldwide because Paul wanted to communicate clearly what this church was about. Soon after this launch the church was running at least a hundred people. Some time between year one and two the church was running two hundred.

The church was literally exploding. They were doing EE (Evangelism Explosion), running radio adds, and celebrating two core values: the deeper life and the worldwide mission of evangelism. Paul had an expository teaching style which served as the base for pulpit expression.

Soon property was purchased and they began to build a building. That building is on Franklin Road, here is the link. The pic isn’t too clear but the address is 415 Franklin Rd located here in Franklin TN. Paul was in his twenties at the time this project started.

In the midst of all this growth, some internal disagreements formed among the leaders.  The issue was control. Unfortunately, these disagreements brought harm to the church. The church stood behind Paul but most of the people simply left. Eventually, Paul had to make the difficult decision to leave. The church had to choose between paying for a pastor or paying off the loan for the building. Since so many left, the resources were now meager.

So Paul left. The next pastor was Bill Weinberg. He died while serving as pastor. Then the church had Weldon Blackford. Following him came Charles Kleiser. Then came Bernie Anderson. I count Bernie as a good friend. He has been nothing but supportive of me. I appreciate his true heart’s desire to see our church flourish. This is evident in his unceasing support and affirmation.

I’ve often wondered if the church is feeling the discipline of God or if we had done something corporately that is influencing our health today. I wondered if the church had sinned against it’s founding pastor. Paul assured me this was not the case. I do believe there is such a thing as corporate sin and the individuals serving in office, representing the entity, are irrelevant to that corporate weight. They might come and go but the responsibility remains. I don’t think that is at issue in our church.

I do however have a sense that we have not yet regained fully that vision we had in our early days. So it was with keen interest that I heard Paul mention the two things he thought set the Alliance church apart: dependence upon the Holy Spirit for Christian living and the worldwide mission of evangelism.

Paul’s message this past Sunday was about waiting on God. He spoke of the need to abide in the vine, not do things “for God.” This message was at the heart of one of the emphases he brought to the church. It was a very good word because it addresses this fundamental desire within us to “do something” for God, make something, take control. Our job is to remain with the Master and out of this satisfying relationship flows mission and ministry.

Anyway, the Lord came and visited his people Sunday. Oddly enough, we weren’t able to record the message! I couldn’t believe it! I’m enjoying continuing to ruminate and think about the future of our church. We’ve been wandering around for a while, at least under my leadership, but I’m sensing the Lord begin to stir us up for some direction once again. May he glorify his son in his love for our body.

July 13, 2015

 Books from Elder's Bookstore

I went out with my wife yesterday.  We spent the day together because it was our anniversary.  I’m glad she planned it because I couldn’t of planned what she did.

We had two ladies from our fellowship tag team to watch the kids so we were literally off at 9:30AM and got back a little after 9PM.  What follows is a recount of our day.

First, we went out to breakfast at La Peep.  This is a breakfast store up in Nashville, the Belle Mead area.  My wife, Natanya, went there when she was little but hasn’t been back since so this was very special.  We both enjoyed our meals.  The highlight for Natanya was this freshly squeezed orange juice.  She let me have a sip, it tasted…real.  I’m not sure what we get from the grocery store, though.

After breakfast it was off to McKay’s, a used bookstore where you trade in books if you want.  They now have CDs and DVDs as well as some electronics.  I’m a big fan of the Easton Press.  I decided several years ago, in light of the digital revolution, that I would try to not buy physical books anymore.  That is, unless they are good books and they are published by the Easton Press.  So, we went into McKay’s and I made a beeline for the Easton Press books.  Most of them were in decent condition.  I ended up buying “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stow.  I haven’t read that so I’m looking forward to working through it.  Natanya didn’t find any books.  So, off we went again.

Natanya asked me if I wanted to go to another bookstore, I said….yes.  The next one is called “Elder’s Bookstore.”  McKay’s was busy, very busy, and I enjoyed the moment we finally left.  Elder’s was an entirely different story.  As soon as we went in the atmosphere was noticeably different.  It was quiet and the smell of old books, not paperback but hardcover books hung in the air.  There was an invitation, unspoken in the air.  It was the invitation to sit, think, learn, study, and contemplate.

I was truly awestruck.  The bustle of Nashville was outside, inside was pure sanctuary.  The books were old and most pertained to history.  You really didn’t want to just touch them.  It almost seemed disrespectful and some shelves actually had a note on them saying you needed to ask before you handled the books.  I felt like I had walked into another world.

I strolled over to a section that was devoted entirely to, you guessed it, the Easton Press!  Natanya found two books that were priced very low due to being defaced.  They two titles were, “Devotional Classics” and “Spiritual Classics.”  I found a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy still shrink wrapped for $25!  We gathered them together and went to the front.  The gentleman talked with us a little bit and noted that he had a copy of Emily Dickinson’s Poems for $15, Easton Press of course.  Let me think about that….yes!

He was an older man named Randy Elder and his wife sat in a desk facing him.  His desk was made of ornate woodwork and I could tell it was all hard wood, ornately made.  I had the impression that he knew his trade and that he was…wise.  Honestly, I wanted to pull up a chair and talk to him about whatever.  It turns out his father started the business during the Great Depression.  Eventually, he (Randy) took the business over.  I’m not sure how old he is but I would put him in his sixties.

Natanya and I both enjoyed visiting that bookstore.  The atmosphere, the books, the man and his wife who were calm and wise made us want to stay there much longer.  However, it was soon time to go and we did go happily with our newfound treasures.

Next we went to the wood shop, I go there most Mondays anyway.  Natanya helped me organized some things.  I had made drawers for one of the work benches and there are bins there with tools and materials which all need to go into drawers.  She is good with these things.  She grew up in her father’s woodshop so I’m a blessed man to have her as my wife.

From the shop we went to Buffalo Wild Wings.  Not to be haughty but the blazing wings, well, I really don’t think they are that hot.  I had five “blazing” wings, and five “wild.”  It was really good.  Natanya did something, I don’t remember what the flavor was but it was mild.  We enjoyed our food.

Finally, we went to Arrington Vineyards.  The sun was setting so the day was cooling.  It had been in the mid 90s during the middle of the day.  Natanya had packed some things for us and we had a little picnic there.  Then she read out loud from one of the books she had secured at Elder’s store.  She read a bit from Henry Nouwen on solitude.  He wrote about the difficulty we have of getting quiet and meditating.  Yep, big problem for me.  The reading was very helpful and we talked about it for a while.

I’m recognizing a hunger and need in my soul for more solitude.  I’ll sometimes look for distractions and noise because I’m not sure what to do with myself when things are quiet.  Strangely enough going to that bookstore and reading that piece from Nouwen helped to quieten my spirit, calm me.  It really is a matter of trusting in God, nothing more nothing less, trust.

I love my wife!  It was a good day and I’m glad she declared it.

There Were Great Searchings of Heart

There is a story in the book of Judges about a woman named Deborah.  I first read this story as a teenager and have always been mystified by a phrase that occurs two times in this story:  there were great searchings of heart.  I think I understand it now.

Deborah was a prophetess.  At the time of her ministry, Israel was being oppressed by a foreigner.  Deborah called on a military leader named Barak to take the battle to the enemy.  Barak was hesitant to go.  He finally agreed but on one condition; Deborah goes with him.  Ok, she agreed to that but warned him that this route would result in glory going to a woman, not to Barak.  Barak was fine with this because he then gathered the troops and went into battle.

The battle was victorious for Israel.  The glory did go to a woman, other than Deborah.  In Judges 5 Deborah sings a victory song about the battle.  She praises several of the tribes for the valor they demonstrated in the day of battle.

Ephraim is recognized for marching.  Benjamin is recognized for fighting.  Issachar is recognized for providing faithful support to Barak.  Zebulun risked their lives for the cause.  Naphtali too fought.

It is in Judges 5:16 that Reuben is singled out for engaging in “great searchings of heart.”  Verse 16 clarifies the matter.  Keil and Delitzsch put it this way, “In this tribe there did arise a lively sympathy with the national elevation.  They held meetings, passed great resolutions, but it led to no practical result; and at length they preferred to remain quietly at home in their own comfortable pastoral life.”  As to why they would prefer to not respond?  Well, they preferred “the piping of the shepherds, instead of the blast of the war-trumpets.”  The Reubenites were shepherds.  It was easier to maintain attention on one’s own interests and familiar surroundings than to move out, go somewhere else, and fight “someone else’s battle.”

Three additional tribes took no part in the fight:  Gilead, Dan, and Asher.  These tribes were at ease in their trade and personal interests.  They had no “skin in the game” so to speak and so would not be bothered with coming out to engage the enemy.

It is the better part of valor and courage to fight when the times comes.  Moral clarity, ownership, recognized affiliation with one’s friends all make these decisions easier.  I’ve been on the other side, speculating, wondering whether the outcome will be to my benefit.  We can also trust in God.  To make a mistake is ok.  To not move forward in faith is even worse.  Naturally we want to live in a life free of error but a forward looking life based in faith will facilitate great works of God.  Speculation and equivocating only results in compromise and frustration.

Let’s respond to the call of Christ.  Let’s be eager to move.

Could you please move?

I don’t remember how old I was.  It was probably when I was 10-11.  I was watching a show on television, by myself.  I don’t remember the name of the show.  A man had received a ring from another man and it had this inscription “with love.”  Another character struggled to understand if perhaps one man could actually love another man.  The conclusion was left ambiguous.

This was the first time I was ever exposed to the idea of homosexuality.  It left me confused because I had no such categories in my mind.  This would have been circa 1985.  That was thirty years ago.  Now, these things are common place.  Everybody knows of these categories.  I have spoken with my children at different time regarding such things.  I’ve preached on these things too.

What is surprising is how swiftly things have turned.  In one generation homosexuality went from being abnormal to being celebrated.  Our president is on record as approving of same-sex marriages.  Almost every day another celebrity announces that he/she is gay.  It is almost a known fact that later this year the Supreme Court will rule favorably on same-sex marriage.  Time and lack of interest does not permit me to reference all the professing Christians who are in favor of same-sex marriage.

Things are moving fast.  It seems  that Christianity is being swept away.  Tim Keller commented on this seeming phenomenon.  He notes that the number of Christians continues to rise.  However, the number of nominal Christians is declining swiftly.  He references a middle group that used to provide cover for Christians.  This middle group was deferential and respectful to Christianity.  They professed Christianity but it was a cultural confession.  That group is disappearing.  They are shifting to secularism.  Essentially, the middle group has changed sides.

What we have then is a group of Christians who are finding themselves outnumbered and in the minority.  It’s never hard to accept an increase in pay is it?  It’s never hard to accept a lift in social status.  What is difficult is losing these things once you have them.  Now what?  How will you respond now?  Will you cry, will you complain?  Will you retreat and harbor resentment?  Will you grow old and bitter, remembering the glory days?

Almost in tandem with Keller’s remarks and probably informed by them, John Piper recently spoke some words to the American Church.  He is saying that the experiment is over.  For some three hundred years Christianity has been the norm, the acceptable reality in America.  Now it has changed, and Christians are having a hard time accepting these changes.

This reminds me of something that happened to me when I was still in seminary.  I was attending Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC.  The pastor, Mark Minnick, will always be one of my pulpit heroes.  A friend of mine and I arrived early and seated ourselves before the evening service.  Then an odd thing happened.  An elderly lady approached my friend, who was seated on the end of the pew, and asked if he could please move saying, “This is my seat.”

My friend, being a little more clued in on propriety, declined as there were many other seats available, and she was free to pick any of them.  She persisted two more times!  We moved.  The interaction makes me smile when I think of it.  That was her seat and her life was probably smaller in her old age.  That was her world.

Believers are being asked to get up and move.  We got here first.  We settled here first and started this thing.  We did the revivals, we built the Ivy League schools, we built the hospitals, and we brought the gospel.  We set the tone, imperfectly, but we did.  Having built infrastructure and invested so much, now we are being asked to please leave.

How does one handle a demotion gracefully?  The demotion is this, “Please leave the public square; you are no longer welcome.”  Such a request will make you think.  What is my mission anyway?  What am I about, and why am I here?  What is the church supposed to be doing?  Our goal is not to be in power, to control government.  Dominion Theology is wrong and distracting.  What this demotion is doing is helping us come back to first things.

Our goal is to make disciples!  Making disciples is a much more feasible task then holding on to power, winning PR campaigns, and dominating the culture.  This is in alignment with the Master’s instructions (Matt. 28:18-20) and therefore it affords rest even in its execution.

God Blesses the Wise and Confounds the Foolish

The message comes from Matthew 2:1-12.
This passage is about the visit of the Magi and the schemes of a devious King, Herod.  The wise men, not knowing Herod’s true character, interact with him and believe him to be as sincere as they are.  This is not the case.  Herod’s desire was to kill Christ so as to solidify his own hold on the throne.  The wise men find Christ and fall down before him in worship.  Herod does the opposite and tries to have him killed.  In the end, Christ survives to become King and Herod comes to an ignoble end.  While history reveals Herod to be evil, God has extinguished his line, his people, and his “great” name.
What do we take away from this story?
  • God is pleased to use the least and the lowly.
    • We see this in several things.  First, the Gentile wise men discern the true nature of Christ’s birth.  They were outsiders and yet they knew!
    • Second, this little town of Bethlehem is the birthplace of the King of the universe, who would ever choose such a town?
    • Lastly, of all people, the peasants Mary and Joseph are chosen to be his parents.
      • This influences our souls mightily.  It gives us pause.  If God is using such instruments to accomplish his will then we may slow down because he will work in ways that confound us too!
      • It causes us to keep an open mind.  We would never choose the least and the lowly, we choose the healthy, the strong, and the blessed.  But God works in mysterious ways and therefore let’s give him the room he needs to work in our lives too.
      • We also pay attention to the least and the lowly.  God delights in using humble instruments so let’s be attentive to such persons and scenarios.
  • God will resist the proud and give grace to the humble.
    • God utterly crushed Herod.  Herod’s plans all came to nothing.  His descendants were foul men.  History reveals it all.  The temple he built was destroyed 70 years later.  Nobody cares for this man.  God truly crushed him.
    • On the other hand, God exalted the wise men.  We really don’t know their names but they are part of this story because they knew the King was here.
      • The take away here is simple.  Let’s so position ourselves to receive grace from God.  This translates into a yielded heart, an attentive posture that can receive correction and instruction.  It is much better to receive grace then to fight him in our pride.
      • Should we be entertaining pride in our hearts lets repent of that and cleanse ourselves.  There is no way anyone will ever fight God and prevail.
  • The worship of Christ is the end to which we were all created.
    • The wise men came a long way, probably from Babylon.  They searched for a long time, a trip like this is no small undertaking.
    • When they finally found him they fell down and worshipped!  Mission complete.
    • The worship of Christ is the end to which we were created.  Let’s continue putting him where he belongs as rightful King of our hearts and lives.

Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

Creation Museum Visit

Creation Museum VisitEarlier in the year, I heard the Creation Museum was offering free admission to children aged 12 and under.  I checked it out and sure enough, it is true.  We have six children and the oldest is 11.  We live 4 ½ hours from the museum so this was a no brainer.  In the paragraphs following I’d like to talk about the trip and what it was like.

We made our plans and left Franklin at 6am CST.  I might add, we took one of the church members with us.  She is very scientifically minded and provided wonderful company.  We made a short stop in KY but arrived at the Museum at 11:30 EST.  There we linked up with my folks who came from Mansfield OH.

My wife and I paid for adult admission and all the children came in free.  One ticket is actually good for two days.  The brochure we received broke down the options for the day.   There is a tour, planetarium, bookstore, zip lines, botanical gardens, some theatrical presentations, and a petting zoo.  The planetarium costs extra money, $7.95 per person.  You can get a lower cost when more people go in together.  The zip lines were extra too with a starting cost of $29 per person.  The tour, at least one theatrical presentation, the botanical gardens, and the petting zoo were all included in the admission ticket.  Needless to say, we took advantage of the options that were covered under the entry ticket.

The bread and butter of the day was the tour of history that covered the seven Cs:  Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation.  This is what draws me to the Creation Museum.  They do a fantastic job of revealing the starting points for both Evolutionists and Creationists.  All believers, especially students will truly benefit and be educated by this presentation.  For instance, if God created humanity then humanity is valuable, truly precious.  However, if we merely evolved out of nothing then on what basis does one import value to humanity?  Are we more valuable than animals?  If there is no value imported to humanity than the way we behave will be affected.

The world view comparisons were very helpful.  Additionally, a brief study of Mt. St Helens reveals some very interesting facts:  petrified trees, lines of sediment in canyon like holes.  These things were formed in a short amount of time, in my own life!  This is a helpful illustration that the Museum gives for a younger earth view.

The Museum does present a young earth view and it comes on very strong.  I’ll take a brief detour here.  Ken Ham is the engine behind the young earth view; he is the engine behind the Creation Museum.  Mr. Ham has been very critical of Christians who espouse an old earth position.  Some home school conventions have actually banned Mr. Ham from speaking at their gatherings both present and future.  At issue here, is not Ham’s positions but his attitude toward those who disagree with him.  There is a noticeable pattern of Ham’s rudeness and dismissiveness of those with whom he disagrees.  I watched an hour long video of a debate between Ham and Hugh Ross.  These propensities of Mr. Ham are clearly visible in his interaction with his opponents.

In spite of Mr. Ham’s disrespect to his opponents, his positions on the age of the earth are still compelling.  His implicit trust in the perspicuity of Scripture, his dogmatism on the literal reading of the creation account is compelling too.  The Creation Museum itself and Ham’s consistent emphasis on the authority of the word of God is very helpful.  Ham has done much to educate believers on the creation and evolution debate.  These things need not be overlooked.

Coming back to the visit, the tour was the most helpful aspect of the entire day.  At the conclusion of the tour we viewed a presentation of the gospel.  A man was sitting at a campfire and spoke about the gospel.  The gospel message came out very clear:  God created the world perfect, we chose sin and brokenness, Christ came to heal us by his sacrifice on the cross, and there is now hope in him.

After the tour, we watched a 22 min. video entitled Men in White.  After this we went to the botanical gardens.  At the far end of the gardens was the petting zoo.  My children liked that part.  Finally the museum closed at 6pm EST.  We left soon after six.

On the way home I asked my kids what they liked most.  I was hoping to hear something like “God created the world!”  That was not what I got.  Most of them liked the petting zoo.  My oldest son did pick up on the apologetics of the museum.  I do recommend visiting the Creation Museum.  The most helpful part of the museum was the education on the differences between evolution and creation worldviews.

But There Is a Resurrection

Recently, an Iranian man faced death by hanging for a murder he committed. The mother of the victim, expected to initiate the hanging, instead forgave him and subsequently freed him. This surprises us because it happened in Iran and it wasn’t supposed to go that way. He was supposed to hang.

This is the resurrection. It was a brutal event that brought forth both beauty and power. This actual event, accomplished by Christ, makes for real response in the hearts of believers.

First, we believe. If Jesus arose from the dead, then he can do anything. I can trust him because he can do it. A myriad of possibilities are unleashed to us through faith. By trusting in him, we bring the kingdom of God into our lives. This is the first tangible response.

Second, we preach. If Jesus rose from the dead and I trust him with my life, then I’m going to talk about it. I cannot help but speak about it. This is real, it is not theory, I preach from objective truth which is working in my life! Of course I preach.

Third, we hope. We can use the word hope like an exalted wish. For instance, we might say “I hope my team wins.” We do not know if the team will win, we are expressing a desire that it does. Biblical hope is not so whimsical. Hope means I know what is coming and I’m waiting for it. We confidently expect it soon. This hope arms us with the fuel to handle the drudgery of sin and a fallen world. Most specifically, we are placing our hope in Christ for a personal resurrection upon death.

Lastly, we stabilize. Paul concludes this chapter with noting death’s impotence against us. It has no power over us. Knowing our Lord rules now, knowing he has conquered the power of death, knowing what is coming to us ought to produce a stability that does not wash away.

Yes, the resurrection is an unexpected turn of events that produces life in us. That brutal reality now works an even greater good in us while we await what is rightly coming to us.

This message was preached from 1 Corinthians 15:12-28.   Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.