My Tyndalian Quest

William TyndaleI have finally returned to my long neglected blog with a renewed sense of direction and purpose thanks to Reasons To Believe’s online class Creation versus Evolution.  I expected to learn from the class, but I was also surprised and inspired.

To make very long story exquisitely short: I entered the class believing that there is no compelling scientific evidence that humanity and chimpanzees have been evolving for millions of years from a common ancestor, and the class thoroughly confirmed that belief.  However, the surprise and the inspiration came in my discovery that many (if not most) proponents of Darwinian evolution seem to be blissfully ignorant of the lack of concrete evidence to support the descent of man.  I came to that conclusion while reading Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells, and I would now call the book a must-read for every creationist with children enrolled in public school.

I finished the RTB class with a clear mission patterned after William Tyndale’s famous response to the priest who called it heresy to offer the word of God in English instead of Latin.

“If God spare my life, before very long I shall cause a plough boy to know the scriptures better than you do!”

I state my goal with less flare, but hopefully with just as much desire to please the Lord. 

By God’s grace, I will do all that I can to help creationists in grade school have a better understanding of our origin than many of the celebrated Darwinists in academia.  

Secure in the knowledge that God uses the weak things of the world to confound the strong, I am about to begin Gramma’s Guide to Origins, which will eventually tell you two things:

  1. How I chose the myth that undergirds my belief about life,
  2. How I choose the prophets who interpret God’s word and God’s world for me

I hope that as you read, you will recognize your own myth and become curious about the myths of others.  I hope to convince you that you are obligated to be aware of the myths of those who write textbooks and teach in public schools because those myths are being impressed on young minds around the nation.

Eventually, I plan to put this all in a single document that I can share easily.   So you could wait for my final edit, but God alone knows how long that will take.  Or you can just follow along, offering encouragement and/or critique, on my Tyndalian mission of translating the speech of creation into the language we all understand.

Seeking truth seekers

Beverly Wheeler

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Before I proceed with a discussion about the age of the earth controversy in the church, I want to describe my target audience. Although I welcome everyone to read this blog, I am writing specifically to people who share a common set of values with me.

  • I believe that we can know the truth and that the truth will set us free.
  • I purpose to follow truth wherever it leads and accept truth wherever I find it.
  • I want anything false in my thinking to be exposed and corrected.
  • I think that honest, courteous discussion can be a path toward truth.

Those four values might fit into any worldview, and anyone who shares them may find it worthwhile to read Grammas’ Guide.  However, I begin this discussion on a foundation of two solid convictions forged in a sixty-year journey toward truth:

  • Jesus Christ is the Creator and Savior of mankind.
  • The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is truth in its entirety.

In the future, I will probably discuss the reasons for my absolute belief in these two premises. However, in Grammas’ Guide, I always write with assurance that Jesus is Lord and His word is true.

Now you can decide whether or not you want to follow or join this discussion.

Watching #shadowyconservativegroups trend is #myguiltypleasure

My philosophy of government has been libertarian since 1992 when I first read Leonard E. Read’s The Elements of Libertarian Leadership. So on May 30, when I saw #shadowyconservativegroups flash by in my Twitter home stream with libertarian sentiments attached, I was intrigued.  I typed the hashtag into TweetChat, and I watched it trend with guilty pleasure until only retweets filled the screen.

The pleasure comes because so many individuals seem to understand that personal responsibility and limited government are required elements of liberty. The guilt comes because I know that tweeting against the way President Obama and Congress are expanding socialism in our country is not the way to recover our lost liberties.

I wrote about why I think libertarian-atheist is an oxymoron during my short association with examiner.com. Sometime soon, I will post the gist of those articles here on Grammas’ Guide. But for now I will start with the a priori statement: Liberty—spiritual, emotional, political—is totally dependent on our Creator. We will have civil liberty only when Christians realize that our collective goal cannot be to reform the government. It must be to radically obey God.

Of course if we are obedient to our high calling in Jesus Christ, we can be sure that hearts will be transformed. And since everyone in government has a heart, we might even see our government transformed as well. But that’s just an agreeable consequence of our faithfulness. It is not a primary goal for the Christian.

For thirty-five years I’ve been convinced that the secret to seeing the Church triumphant is distilled for us in our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

He made provision for our unity, and that unity is His means for displaying His glory. God wants our unity to be a witness to the world that the Father sent the Son and loves us as He loves His Son. How it must break the heart of God to see His children still caught in the same trap that divided the Corinthians into Paulites, Apolloites, and Cephasites. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) If we want to live in liberty, we must learn to come together by His Spirit. We must stop dividing His body and destroying our witness because of our political philosophies, pet doctrines, or worship styles.  

I will probably smile guiltily again whenever I see conservatives  playing hashtags games on Twitter.  But I will also pray with Christ that we will be one as He is one with His Father.  I will pray that Christian conservatives & Christian liberals, Christian independents & Christian party loyalists, Christian libertarians & Christian socialists will all join our Lord in His prayer that we will be made perfect in one.

When that happens we can be certain that, no matter what is going on in Washington, the Lord will keep us in perfect peace because our minds will be fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

The Hunger Games leave the reader starving for God.

My nephew handed me his copy of The Hunger Games and ended my internal debate over whether or not I would read it. Catching Fire and Mockingjay came to me soon afterwards: Samuel reads rapidly.

I knew the plot and the characters before I opened the first book because my interest in the story began at Speculative Faith in an online discussion with spoilers. Curiosity immediately sent me to Amazon reviews where I switched back and forth between five-star and one-star opinions. Within a few minutes I learned the fates of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, and Prim.

Only one thing took me totally by surprise when I actually read the trilogy: the crushing avalanche of despair that pours continuously from the pages. The first two books end in defeat. On the last page of the third book I saw a single dandelion growing in a mountain of destruction. The Hunger Games is certainly not a feel-good epic!

Reactions to the books vary from love to hate, but ambivalent is the only word to describe my own opinion. I agree with those who believe that child on child violence is not an appropriate subject for impressionable young readers. I also agree with those who believe that the consequence of war is an appropriate subject for everyone to consider.

Suzanne Collins does show readers the physical, mental, and emotional destruction that comes with war, and that may be reason enough to read her books. But it is not the reason I recommend them. Whatever her intention in the story may be, Collins paints a world where godlessness leads to the moral disintegration of humanity. The Hunger Games open a door for the discussion about civilization starved for God, and that is why I think they are worth reading.

I have been captivated by apologetics since I first read C.S. Lewis’s reasoned defense of the Faith in Mere Christianity. Whenever I do housework, instead of music, I often listen to a William Lane Craig debate or a Reasons to Believe podcast.  I am well acquainted with Richard Dawkins and the New AtheismThe Hunger Games show how the zealous proselytizing of 21st century atheism is an instrument in the hand of our almighty God. It serves to spread of the gospel by forcing people to consider their Creator and answer questions that have eternal consequences.

Each reasoned encounter between theist and atheist simply repeats Joshua’s command, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15) Each debate puts God in the front and center in every argument and in every rebuttal,  in every question and in every answer. Each individual who listens to the debaters must decide whether he trusts in God or trusts in matter and energy as the best explanation for our present reality. Each time Dawkins denies God’s existence in a public forum, he openly confronts the Creator he wants to flee.

In The Hunger Games the debate is over, and atheism’s triumphant end  is godlessness. Panem is a world where no one can make the moral argument for the existence of God. Cultural relativism is the universal philosophy in what remains of North America. Poor Katniss lives tormented by a shredded image of God in her soul, but she cannot find Him among the defeated people in District 12 or among the ruthless conquerors in the Capitol.  Her determination to remain childless, her difficulty bonding with Peeta, and her suicidal mission all make perfect sense in a world without God, without ultimate purpose, and without eternal hope.

As Gramma’s Guide to The Hunger Games continues in my next post, I will tell you why I think  Katniss is an excellent example of a mythical hero.

Gramma fights on her knees

In the sixth chapter of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul uses a soldier dressed for battle to teach a very important spiritual lesson.  During his lifetime, Roman legions patrolled the empire, so Paul knew wherever believers gathered the image would be familiar to all who heard his letter read.

Today the Roman soldier is ubiquitous in Sunday School material far beyond the lands where the Caesars once reigned. And he still makes an effective teaching aid on a poster with his armor labeled from Ephesians 6:13-17.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

There is even a plastic version of the full armor of God available as a child’s costume. However, the day I saw seven-year-old Tim use the sword of the Spirit to pound on the shield of faith held by four-year-old Nathan, I knew something was missing in their lesson on spiritual warfare.

Unfortunately, the same thing is too often true for adults as well. Too often we isolate those four verses as though simply describing the armor accurately can keep us safe. And I think that like Tim and Nathan we might even use the armor fighting our allies instead of our enemy.

Very early in my walk with the Lord, I memorized all the pieces of the full armor of God. I knew that rema, not logos was the Greek word for “word” in the passage. I understood from that fine distinction that I was to have precise portions of scripture hidden in my heart and ready to apply as needed.

However, it was much later that I finally realized that the battle I was preparing to fight took place on my knees.  Ephesians 6:18 tells us exactly what to do once we have our armor in place:

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —

If we move back in the passage to verses 10-12, we see that Paul had reached a conclusion of some kind when he introduces the concept of spiritual warfare:

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

One day as I was reading my Bible, I had one of those utterly transcendent moments of enlightenment: FINALLY! Finally, my sisters, I made the connection between Paul’s warning about the spiritual nature of our battle and everything he had said from Ephesians 5:22 to 6:10. He tells us that our battle is not with our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, employees, employers or any of the other people who are most likely to annoy or disappoint us in life. He tells us that we must live armed and praying so that we are always warring against God’s enemies and not against God’s children. He tells us that the evil day we must withstand is any day that saints allow the enemy to disturb the unity of the body of Christ.

And that is why Gramma must constantly fight on her knees.

Good homemakers spend time on their knees

If you already know how to build the spiritual foundation for a good home, you realized immediately that the title of this post contains a metonym for prayer and not a command to keep your floors clean.

Good homemakers pray!

It has been over ten years ago since we first began to share a mission and a vision for the homemaking ministry we eventually called Gramma’s House.  Our mission is to help make every home a holy, happy, healthy haven of hospitality.  Our vision sees homemaking  first among honorable careers, and sees communities where it is economically feasible for women to choose to work in their homes.

From the moment we first shared our vision up to the present, everyone involved has agreed that prayer lays the foundation for ministry and builds it every step of the way. Yet it is usually much easier to get women to together to cook, to clean, to garden, to sew, or to study than it is to get them together just to pray.

The women who support Gramma’s House with their time and their talents also support the ministry with their prayer.  Just because a woman is reluctant to pray aloud, in the company of others, it doesn’t mean that she never prays.  Some prayer warriors are shy by nature. And I am certain that God abundantly blesses all faithful closet prayers.

But I am also certain that if we want to receive all the riches that our Father in heaven wants to pour out daily into our lives, we must be willing to talk to Him freely and openly together at any time, in any circumstance, with anyone.

Think about the way Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus:

And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:41, 42 NKJV)

In this account (John 11:1-16) we have clear evidence that Jesus was in constant communication with His Father even if His disciples didn’t realize it.  They are confused about the whole situation, but Jesus, in silent communion with His Father, knows that Lazarus is dead. He also knows that the death will display the glory of the Son of God, but He still does not make it obvious to His disciples that He is talking with His Father.

Then, standing at the tomb with many Jews watching and listening, Jesus not only makes His conversation with His Father public, He openly acknowledges that He chose His words for the benefit of His audience.  From our Lord’s own example here, we know that when He told us to pray secretly in our closets He did not mean that we should never let anyone hear us talk to God. Christ shows us that a voice raised in prayer for all to hear can bring glory to the Lord in a very special way.

The typical attitude Christians have about talking to God together seems rather bizarre if we imagine natural children assuming the same attitude toward their own beloved father. Imagine a happy family of children. Imagine that each child will talk freely to the father about everything and anything as long as no one else is in the room.

Now imagine that another sibling comes in, and immediately they both begin to act as though their father is no longer present. They talk to each other about how much they love their father. More brothers and sisters join them, and they sing songs about their father’s goodness toward the family. They even discuss the things they plan to ask their father and agree that they will all make the same requests. But as long as there are two children in the room, no one will speak to him out loud. Well, maybe one of them will speak to the father aloud, but when they are all together, it has to be done at a clearly prescribed times.

The cause of this strange behavior among the spiritual children of God is not that we are socially challenged, and it has very little to do with shyness. If we feel anxiety, apprehension, and even panic in a situation where it should be natural for any child to speak openly to her Father, the cause can be traced to our enemy. Our adversary understands the power God has made available to His children when they talk to Him together.

That is why my next post will be “Good homemakers fight on their knees.”

Gramma’s long journey into cyberspace

Last year at this time, I would have thought I was more likely to swim the English Channel than to open a Twitter account.   But God does indeed move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Recently I realized that the Lord has been relentlessly leading me into cyberspace for the past twenty-five years.

It started one day in the 80s.  I was just thinking about Adam and Eve, wondering how they would have understood God’s warning: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Since the first humans did not know any other persons who had actually died, what would “die” have meant to them?

From that point, I continued to think how completely our vocabulary has been ravaged by sin.  It seemed to me that words like death, pain, sorrow, and even words like remember and forget would have no meaning for perfect people in a perfect world. My mental exercise did not disturb me until I realized that sinless people could never understand mercy, forgiveness, or salvation.

These ideas came to me about the same time I abandoned my own books for other women’s brooms, so I spent many hours vacuuming, dusting, scouring, and visiting the unfallen planet in the universe of my imagination. I actually talked to several friends about turning my fantasy into a novel, and they were unanimously encouraging. But, as the reigning Queen of the Procrasti-nation, I just planned to start writing tomorrow for over two decades.

Then in January of 2009, I found myself in Lubbock, Texas. What I thought would be a six- week visit with my sisters turned into two and a half years of disabling cancer treatments.  I was far from home, unable to work, and equipped with a laptop.  Tomorrow had arrived with a vengeance, and I began the hard labor of translating fleeting ideas into a story on a printed page.

In the fall of 2010, I finished World Without Mercy, and I immediately started to look for a publisher. (What else can one do with a completed manuscript?)  It was then that I learned of the Catch 22 in 21st century publishing: editors only look at books represented by agents, and agents only accept authors who have already published.

It is true that many small publishers will accept proposals directly from the author.  Alas, with the notable exception of Marcher Lord Press, it seems that small Christian publishing houses have very little interest in science fiction. To tell you the truth, I’m not much interested in science fiction myself, but my story about life on another planet fits in no other genre.

During those first few months of publisher/agent hunting, I also learned that it is my duty as a 21st century author to attend writer’s conferences, establish a website, create a Facebook page, and fully exploit the social media to build a platform that will impress agents, editors, and/or publishers whenever I describe it in a book proposal. In other words, I had to line up potential buyers for my book before I could ever convince anyone that it might be worth publishing.

I attended my first writer’s workshop in Amarillo in April, joined Facebook in May, and started this blog (on Blogspot) in June of 2011. But absolutely nothing could motivate me to begin deliberate self-promotion of a book that only one of my eight siblings had taken the time to read.  (Just to be accurate, even if they all had read it and loved it, I still would never have promoted it online because I would have been dead from shock.)

In July of 2011, I came home to Pennsylvania and attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. There I met media expert and avid gardener Daniel Gasteiger.  He told us that Twitter was at the top of his list of social media tools, but…..and this is a wonderful but….it would be very annoying if all we did was tweet about our books.  He encouraged us all to go online to meet like-minded people and have fun. He gave us three rules: be yourself, be kind, and be helpful.   I thought, “I can do that!  I can go online to promote the ministry that I helped to incorporate in 2008.”

So in November of 2011, I finally set up a Twitter account, but it wasn’t until a few short weeks ago when I found #mkbiblechat that I really began to enjoy myself.  A whole new range of retweets began to appear in my home stream by way of #mkbiblechat (ters) that I happily follow.  I quickly discovered that many profiles were dedicated entirely to sharing Bible verses, prayer requests, and quotes from the saints both living and dead.

I’ve placed those accounts on my “Retweetable” list, where I now go for quick inspiration.  It was just that type of account that inspired me to begin my own “TIP” (Twitter Intercession Project).  On March 6, I started daily tweeting from Andrew Murray’s “Helps to Intercession” with the hashtag #amintercessionhelp.

I pray that God will use this post (and the next one) to connect me with intercessors to join in daily prayer in one accord.  Now that I have blogged about my TIP, I will switch to #amhti to conserve thirteen precious characters.

May the Lord abundantly bless my effort to tweet for His glory.