Monthly Archives: February 2010

Live Your Adventure

High adventure was on my young index of dreams.  As it turns out, my adventures have been mild ones.  I never did become an explorer, sailor, naturalist, anthropologist, spelunker, diver, paleontologist, prospector, or performer.  As a young boy I avidly read about the adventures of men like Thor Heyerdahl and William Beebe.  Beebe was an ornithologist, explorer, and author.  He was an early ecologist.  He made a record-breaking dive in a bathysphere to a depth of 3,028 ft in 1934.  He lived the adventures of my dreams.

Recently, I ran across a piece written by him in his old age.  It’s good advice for all adventurers, young and old.

What I Would Do
Will Beebe

If I were as young in years again as I still am inside,
I should make me a list of a few things to do before I die:

To go at least once clear around this jolly world.

To live with savages and in jungles now and then
and learn how splendid they are.

To ride and read and shoot and play and study and think
and be silent with such enthusiasm that every moment
of unnecessary sleep would be a crime.

To live so fully that most people would seem dead on their feet.

To own a magnificent telescope and by frequent use never
to forget the humor of my size and place and ambitions in the universe.

Finally, do the things all over again, for I have
done them and am still at it, and I know.

For just this once I have broken my motto of “Don’t tell.”
And now forget everything that I have said and live your own life.

As it turns out, I have lived my own life.  As a 25 year-old missionary and married with children, I concentrated on being a good husband, father and evangelist but never stopped dreaming.  Those later dreams were milder ones: farmer, woodcarver (a skilled one), preacher (an effective one), teacher (a beneficial one) and writer (a successful one).  In small, insignificant ways I have dabbled in the later dreams and found much satisfaction.

I find I no longer aspire to fame or celebrity status — having seen the emptiness of those pursuits. Besides that, I’m getting a bit “long in the tooth,” whatever that means.

Aside from some major life challenges, I am satisfied with my little shop where I carve wood, my vegetable garden (the farming part) teaching and mentoring aspiring missionaries, working with ministry training schools in the South Pacific (and soon, hopefully Asia), and writing blogs and books.  The adventure continues.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Aging, Blogs & Blogging, Life, Meaning of Life, Philosophy, Science, Writing

Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Eight

For the past few weeks I have been teaching a Bible class for older folks.  I don’t believe there is anyone in the class under 65 or so.  Since, in a few days I will be the ripe old age of 68, I feel right at home.  At the moment, we are working our way through Leviticus, one of those seldom-studied books.  It’s full of instructions for all kinds of offerings enabling a holy God to live among a very unholy people.  A lot could be said about that but, at the moment, I am thinking more about age than holiness.

Old age is, among other things, interesting.  For one thing, sitting still, I don’t feel old.  It is only when I get up and try to move around quickly that my body reminds me that it has seen better days.  I wake up in the morning with plans to accomplish the same things I did at, say, forty.  As the day progresses, reality sets in: I’m nowhere near the capabilities of forty.  It is disappointing.  Still, I keep at it as best I can.

One of my older-than-me friends tells me there are perks that come along with age.  People want to help you.  They open doors for you and ask if you need a hand.  Young women smile at you and don’t consider you a threat.  You get senior discounts.  That’s all I can think of right now.  I think, however, I would trade these “perks” for more “pep.”  Yes, I would trade it all for pain-free hips, knees, a well-behaved back, and being considered more dangerous in the eyes of young women.

The ranks of the “older folks” are bursting at the seams.  The solvency of Social Security and Medicare systems are threatened.  I notice more and more advertisements aimed our way.  Care facilities for older folks (skilled nursing, assisted living, etc.) are popping up everywhere.  Movies are being made about old codgers and biddies (good news for our aging actors).  I’m glad I don’t have to go through this “aging process” alone.

So how should you young folks respond to all this?  Well, Leviticus provides a good answer.  “You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).  OK, I know it’s the Old Testament and the Law of Moses and all that but I still think it’s a good idea.

7 Comments

Filed under Aging, honor, Humor, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Nursing Home, Respect, Thinking, Whitsett News

Atheists and Thinkers

“The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.”

— Albert Einstein [1]

Quotes from two atheists demonstrate an unattractive and arrogant elitism for which there is no credible reason.  Guy P. Harrison said, “…atheism is not a conscious act of turning away from all gods. It is simply the final destination for those who think.” Ernest Hemingway concurred, “All thinking men are atheists.” Many similar quotes from so-called “new atheists,” echo these sentiments.  Such statements are deluded, egocentric and, with all due respect, stupid.  I define “stupid” as willful ignorance.  I suppose we have all been stupid from time to time, but such statements qualify since they are made in spite of facts to the contrary.

Perhaps a teeny history lesson is needed here.  Religious thinkers have existed in every age.  Historically, they laid the foundations for today’s science and philosophy and founded nations.  Can “thinkers” be “believers?”  Below, I provide a list of such people who, in the opinion of most, are “thinkers.”  For the sake of brevity, I have confined my list to the 20th and 21st Centuries.  These are men and women who, though some may not believe in a “personal God” have acknowledged a “higher power.”  To this power they attribute some role in the design and creation of the universe and the origin of life.

Winston Churchill

Helen Keller

Albert Einstein

R. Buckminster Fuller

Leo Tolstoy

Wernher Von Braun

Francis Collins

C. S. Lewis

Ravi Zacharias

John Lennox

Lord Kelvin

Max Planck

Simone Weil

Arthur Compton

Freeman Dyson

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.

Karl Barth

Hans Kung

Edith Stein

G. K. Chesterton

Gertrude Himmelfarb

William Lane Craig

Francis Schaeffer

Nelson Mandela

Dallas Willard

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rudolf Bultmann

Antony Flew

Reinhold Niebuhr

This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  But the question remains: were these men and women thinkers or not? Of course, a similar list could be compiled for atheist thinkers.  But, then again, I would not be so blind and bold to say otherwise.  It is estimated that 40% of working scientists are believers.  Yes, they are a minority, but a large one.  But here’s the pertinent query: can they do science without thinking? I think not.

Will this tiny article put a stop to such foolishness?  Not if those who make such inane statements continue to ignore the facts.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Those who disparage theists for believing in God without evidence ignore ample, overwhelming evidence.  Off the cuff, I can only think of five reasons for such statements:

  1. They can’t handle the inconvenient truth.
  2. They have invented their own exclusive standards and definitions for “thinkers.”
  3. They arbitrarily decide that theists can get lucky sometimes but can’t really think.
  4. They believe they have a corner on intelligence.
  5. They need to get out more.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

You can read about more theist thinkers here and here.


[1] Goldman, Robert N., Einstein’s God—Albert Einstein’s Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (Joyce Aronson Inc.; Northvale, New Jersy; 1997).


21 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Bigotry, Culture Wars, Faith, Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Religion, Ridicule, Science, Theism, Thinking

The Christian Difference – 4

A Pilgrimage Mentality

Research by George Barna and others exposes a sad truth: very few differences distinguish Christians from their fellow-humans. To be blunt, those called-out from the world look a great deal like it.  These articles (of which this is No. 4) are ones man’s effort to review ways in which Christians can be in the world but not of it.

In the beginning, Jesus taught his followers to be visibly different in ways that would bring glory to God[1].  These are not mere distinctions in speech and dress even though as modesty and civility decline, Christians increasingly look, act and speak differently.  As the surrounding darkness deepens, the contrast sharpens.[2] We are unique because we have a pilgrimage mentality. This world is not our home.

Christians are different because our heart, and thus our treasures, are elsewhere.  We are strangers, aliens and pilgrims on the earth.[3]

Western Christians are well-supplied physically.  With some tragic exceptions, we have adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, transportation and medical care.  Still, this ball of dirt and rock is not our home.  We are in transit, on a journey, a pilgrimage; camping here and there, but always seeking a better country.[4]

Some see death as the final destination.  Richard Dawkins writes, “Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.”[5] Yes, we do teach this “dangerous” truth.  Christians see death as the depot from which we catch the train for eternity.  All human souls are destined to depart this earth, one way or another.  Christians know this, and have sent their treasures ahead of them for deposit in a place where it can’t rust or rot.

This pilgrim state of mind distinguishes us from those who have no such hope.[6] When a faithful loved one dies, our mourning is tempered by belief that we shall meet again.  When we suffer, we look forward to a healthy, tearless, painless existence after death.  When we weep, we anticipate a place free of sorrow and tears.  Furthermore, since our real treasures are elsewhere, mature Christians place little emphasis on the material.  We try to be content with what we need and no more.[7] Our materially rich brothers and sisters are compassionate and generous.[8]

As beautiful and comfortable as this world is, it is not our home.  Brenda and I love “Charamon,” our earthly home in Abilene.  We have all that we need at Charamon.  We have a place to work, to extend hospitality, big trees, and a huge vegetable garden.  We also love Australia…that sunburnt country and its people.  We have sweet memories there, in many ways our heart is there.  But these places, as beloved as they are, are not our eternal home.  That means our heart resides elsewhere, that our treasures are with our heart in that other place.

We also contemplate the destiny of our fellow-humans.  It is important to us that all men and women have a chance to hear the good news of a better place and a better way of life.  This is why we try to talk to you about Jesus.  We know that, through Him, you can have an abundant, fulfilled life and sweet anticipation of eternal life.  We hope you’ll join our pilgrimage.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2)


[1] Matthew 5:13-16

[2] 1 Peter 4:4

[3] Matthew 6:19-21

[4] Hebrews 11:13-16

[5] Richard Dawkins, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles” (September 15, 2001)

[6] Ephesians 4:13

[7] I Timothy 6:3-10

[8] I Timothy 6:17-19

1 Comment

Filed under Atheism/Theism, Eternal Life, Faith, Jesus Christ, Meaning of Life, Supernatural, Theism

Eric

I spotted him through the window as he dropped his pack and heavy coat on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop.  He was in his late 20’s, a long tuft of beard on his chin.  I watched him come in and head straight for the restroom and I knew he was there to clean up after a night on the street.  He exited the restroom and headed for the line of people ordering coffee.

“Say brother,” I said, “Is that your pack outside?”

“Yes,” he said warily.

“I’ll buy your coffee.”

“Thanks,” he said.

“But there’s a price,” I warned.

“What’s that?” he asked, immediately suspicious.

“You have to tell me your story.”

“My story?”

“That’s all,” I assured him.

We sat down at my table and I began to ask him questions.  I found out he’s from Portland, Oregon and hasn’t spoken to his parents in over ten years.  They don’t know if he’s alive or dead.

He wound up in Abilene because the freight train he hopped in El Paso was going the wrong way.  He got kicked-off in Sweetwater and made his way here.

“Are you going to stay?” I asked.

“Well, it’s a nice town and the people are friendly but it’s so dull.  I’d like to go to Tampa but winter’s nearly over – so, what’s the point?”

“So what have you been doing on the road…do you get jobs?  What are your long-term goals?”

I could tell by the look on his face that “long term goals” were not a part of his thinking.  He told me that he would stay somewhere for a while, get a job but he would get lazy and depressed.

“Every time things seem to come together for me, someone ruins it and it falls apart.  It’s never my fault!  It’s only when I start traveling again that I get that spark back.”

He’s worked off and on as a fry cook since he was 15.  He says he would like to advance to executive chef but, “They only make $75,000 a year – so what’s the point?”

I asked him why he was estranged from his parents.  “They never gave me any space; always following me, always trying to direct my life, always on my back.”  I asked him if they might have done that because they cared.  “I know they care, but they were always on my back,” he repeated.  “Thank God they’re not on my back now.”  I offered to call his parents just to let them know he’s alive but he refused…said he would do it “…someday when the time is right.”

When I finally said, “Well thank you for your story,” he took it as dismissal and fled to another area of the coffee shop.  He couldn’t wait to get away from this old man who was asking too many personal questions.

Eric doesn’t know he’s looking for something he’ll never find on the hard streets, cold rails or lonely highways.  The famous “God-shaped hole” in his life was gaping.  So, I gave him my “Why you should follow Jesus” card and a prayer in my heart that he will find Him who can give him that missing piece.  So, if you see Eric on the street, give him my regards, buy him some coffee, and tell him a little more about Jesus, would you?

5 Comments

Filed under Community, homelessness, Jesus Christ