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Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Dr. Jim Denison engages contemporary culture with biblical truth
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A man in Brownsville, Texas, has been arrested for felony theft. Authorities say he admitted stealing $1.2 million worth of fajitas over nine years. It wasn’t that he ate that many fajitas—the juvenile justice department employee stole county-funded food deliveries and sold them to his own customers.

I assume this man’s criminal career started with a single delivery. When no one noticed, he escalated his activities. But now he knows that small decisions have huge consequences.

The tragedy in Somalia continues to make news this morning: the death toll now exceeds three hundred, with nearly four hundred wounded. You may have heard of al-Shabab, the terror group blamed for this atrocity. But you probably haven’t heard of Sayyid Qutb, the fundamentalist Egyptian scholar whose theories inspired generations of Sunni radicals, including leaders of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and al-Shabab.

Two experts recently warned the US House of Representatives that a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack from North Korea could shut down our power grid, indirectly killing up to 90 percent of all Americans. North Korea’s missiles may already be capable of reaching Los Angeles and the western US.

You’ve heard of Karl Marx, whose ideology inspired the communist movement and continues to influence North Korea. But you may not have heard of Friedrich Engels, whose partnership with Marx promoted and popularized his revolutionary ideas.

Actions unseen today can change the world tomorrow.

2 Samuel 17 finds David fleeing Jerusalem and his son Absalom. Two men are sent by a friend of David to warn the king that Absalom’s army is coming to kill him. However, Absalom sends servants to stop these messengers.

The men hide in a well, where an unnamed woman spreads a cover over the well’s mouth and protects them. Then they make their way to David with the warning that saves his life.

If this woman had not protected these men, would David have been killed? Would his son Solomon have been kept from the throne? Would Solomon’s temple and proverbs have existed?

A young boy is sold into slavery by his brothers but rises to rule Egypt and save his family. A fugitive shepherd sees a burning bush and changes the world. An unnamed Roman centurion keeps his soldiers from killing Paul when their ship wrecks at Malta; seven of the apostle’s thirteen letters would not have been written apart from this man’s intervention.

Our culture measures us by our impact on the world today. But history measures us by our impact on the world tomorrow.

Twenty million millennia after we have forgotten today’s headlines, Jesus will still be King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). If you want to leave a legacy that matters, serve the Lord of time and eternity and you will do the works of Jesus in the power of his Spirit (John 14:12).

The poet James Allen Francis noted: “All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.”

Now it’s our turn, to the glory of God.

 

Publication date: October 17, 2017

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

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My local newspaper is the Dallas Morning News. Its website this morning leads with a story about our school district and speculation that Tony Romo could replace the injured Aaron Rodgers. I scrolled to the bottom of the website but found nothing on the bombings in Somalia’s capital that killed more than three hundred people last Saturday.

The Chicago Tribune is leading with the Cubs’ loss to the Dodgers last night. It mentions the Somalia bombing with a single line in the smallest print on the website. The Los Angeles Times mentions the story near the bottom of its website with a single line.

If this tragedy had occurred in the United States, it would be leading every newspaper in America. The fact that it happened on the coast of East Africa makes it no less heartbreaking for every person who died or was injured and every person who loves them. Including their Father in heaven.

It is human nature to value what we can see over what we cannot see. This is why newspapers give the greatest coverage to news that affects their readers directly. But such a materialistic view of life obscures all that gives life its greatest meaning.

Yesterday, I spent some time sitting before a pond on a cloudy morning. I asked the Lord to speak to me through his creation, and immediately my mind was drawn to the surface of the water. I could see nothing below it. There could be fish or turtles swimming there—the fact that I could not see them made them no less real.

Just then, the sun broke through the clouds momentarily before disappearing again. If I didn’t know better, I might think the clouds were permanent and the sun was temporary, when it’s actually the other way around. The fact that I couldn’t see the sun behind the clouds made it no less real.

Jesus returned from earth to heaven twenty centuries ago. Is he still at work in our world? Consider five biblical facts:

• Jesus is granting salvation to every person who turns to him in faith (Romans 6:23). No one is beyond the reach of grace.
• He is preparing a place for his followers in heaven (John 14:2–3). The Master Carpenter (Mark 6:3) is working right now on your eternal home.
• He is interceding for us at “the right hand of God” (Romans 8:34). Jesus is praying for you at this very moment.
• He is advocating for us before the Father when we sin (1 John 2:1). The next time you sin, remember that your Savior is praying for your forgiveness and restoration.
• He is holding us in his hand (John 10:28–29). All that comes to you must come through him. You are sheltered in his hand right now.

Eternal salvation, an eternal home, divine intercession, advocacy when we sin, and omnipotent protection—none are visible to our senses, but can you think of greater gifts?

Don’t believe the materialistic lie that your success today is measured by your possessions and popularity. What you can’t see is infinitely more significant than what you can see. Henry Scougal noted in 1677: “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.”

What—or Who—will be the object of your love today?

 

Publication date: October 16, 2017

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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BlessU-2 is a robot installed by a Protestant church in Germany. It is built on the body of an ATM, with plastic fingers that spring open and palms that light as it raises its mechanical hands in blessing.

The robot speaks seven languages in either a male or a female voice. It offers four types of blessings—traditional, companionship, encouragement, and renewal—taken from more than forty Bible verses. Reactions have been mostly positive.

In Japan, a robot named “Pepper” can serve as a Buddhist priest to conduct funerals. A robot in Beijing can have a conversation with you about Buddhism and daily life.

Technology is changing every dimension of human experience, from driverless cars to low-cost virtual reality headsets to earbuds that can translate forty languages instantly. Technological advances in medicine are astounding: bionic arms, artificial vision, and tattoos and tooth-embedded sensors that transmit medical information are all realities. One man who is color-blind can detect color through an antenna grafted onto his skull.

Dan Brown’s new book, Origin, forecasts a coming age he calls “the Technium.” A scientist in his novel claims: “We are becoming a hybrid species—a fusion of biology and technology. The same tools that today live outside our bodies—smartphones, hearing aids, reading glasses, most pharmaceuticals—in fifty years will be incorporated into our bodies to such an extent that we will no longer be able to consider ourselves Homo sapiens.”

The scientist predicts: “As we move into an undefined tomorrow, we will transform ourselves into something greater than we can yet imagine, with powers beyond our wildest dreams.”

We’ve been here before.

The eugenics movement in the United States focused on eliminating “undesirable” traits in the population. Thirty states codified laws that resulted in the forced sterilization of over 64,000 people. Such efforts began with the disabled but spread to include people whose only “crime” was poverty. Only after the horrors of Nazi eugenic experiments came to light were such efforts discredited.

Improving our health is a noble calling in partnership with the Great Physician. Improving our species is not. Jesus healed “every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23), but he did nothing to change our biological identity.

You may not want to use technology to become more than human today. But you’ll be tempted to “be like God” in other ways (Genesis 3:5). Every temptation is a variation on this theme—be your own God by stealing, lying, lusting, hating, or whatever you are tempted to do.

Thomas a Kempis: “Let this be thy whole Endeavour, this thy prayer, this thy desire, that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.” Towers of Babel are built whenever we seek to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4) rather than making God’s name great.

Whose name are you seeking to exalt today?

 

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Pablo_K

Publication date: October 13, 2017

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.