Wow (I’m a Geek)!!!!!
Most people would be thrilled beyond words if, for example, they got a baseball signed by their favorite pitcher. They would display it proudly, buy a special glass case for it, or show it off to all of their friends. In this day and age, they would probably post pictures of it on Photobucket or MySpace or Facebook so that all of their online buddies would see it, too.
Well, I have just had the equivalent of this autographed baseball happen right here on my blog. I’ve looked up to James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries from my earliest days of answering God’s call to apologetics. I have bought two of his books (I was actually reading Pulpit Crimes last night!) and read his blog everyday. In fact, it was his blog that gave me the inspiration to start an apologetics blog of my own. From the first time I saw Tekton Apologetics Ministries, I knew I wanted to be an apologist, but it wasn’t until I discovered Dr. White’s blog that I had any inkling of how I should start. I owe quite a bit of thanks to both Dr. White and J.P. Holding for the direction of this ministry, for I patterned it after their own.
I think that my wife is tired of hearing “James White says…” at the beginnings of my sentences. I tend to over-quote him. Not on the blog, just in real life. In fact, when I discovered that he debated here in Toledo in the early 90s, I was sorry I had missed out. Who knows if he’ll be back?
But I’m just trying to set the stage for what I’m about to say. The equivalent of that autograph that I’m proudly displaying for all to see is that Dr. James White has left a comment on this blog!! And it was complimentary to the work I’m doing.
God Himself, being an invisible God, won’t come down and stand in front of me and say, “Good job.” But He orchestrated the next best thing: having the apologist I admire most do just that.
Now it’s my turn to feel warm and fuzzy.
Posted on August 21, 2007, in Uncategorized and tagged Personal. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Ah brother Corey—if only my comment could get you the funds to take your wife out to a nice dinner! But alas, while pumped-up athletes are richly rewarded in this life, you have chosen a ministry that is very “back loaded” in the rewards field.
I have often had young men come up to me, especially during or after a debate, and ask “How do I get into apologetics?” I honestly reply, “If you can do anything else and fulfill God’s calling on your life, do it.” A splash of cold water to be sure, but if I can deter them, they aren’t called to the work anyway. The glory of God in His truth must be, as the prophet put it, a fire in one’s bones, for one to pursue this work properly over the long haul. It has to be something one *must* do, not simply something one *can* do, or might *enjoy* doing, for a period of time.
We live in a day when men’s love grows cold—love for truth, love for God, love for life itself. I do hope you know well that popularity is not something you can expect if you actually speak the truth in the context of a world that hates it. Counting the cost will become much more than a slogan for us all in the not too distant future. I fully expect that we will be facing the choice of speaking the truth and the laws of men who hate God and hate His law. What will we do? Compromise? Remain silent? We can only pray God will give us the strength to do what He has called us to do when the time comes.
I recently had lunch with a pastor friend of mine I had not seen in about twenty years. He is getting close to 80 now. I had been his assistant for a short period of time when I was in Bible college. He has lived a godly and useful life. I told him about things I particularly remembered about him, and the main story had to do with a day when I saw him mistreated by another staff member in front of many others. I followed him into his office when it was over, and I said, “How do you put up with that?” He turned to me and said, “Jim, if you ever get your eyes off the Shepherd and onto the sheep, you’ll be out of the ministry in no time.” He was right, of course. For the apologist, though, the temptation is not only to get your eyes off the Shepherd, but it is also to forget about the sheep. That is, the apologist tends to be a lone wolf, out on his own, and that is dangerous. We are called to ministry *in* the church. Get rooted in a sound church where the truth proclaimed from the pulpit is consistent with that which you seek to defend in your ministry. Be a churchman. No apologist who does not love Christ’s body can truly claim he loves Christ, the head of that body.
And further, another danger for that apologist is making the fatal mistake of dividing the truth of the Shepherd from the Shepherd Himself. That is, we can be come so focused upon the necessary and good defense of sound doctrine that we can lose our balance and forget that we are looking to a divine Person, not a divine Set of Truths. Make sure the passion in your heart is passion for Him who set you free, not just for an ideal, a formulation, a creed. Think of these three Greek letters: KXD. They stand for Paul’s phrase, “kuriw Christw douleuete,” “it is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” We serve at His pleasure, we serve as a great blessing, and we serve a mighty Master.
Finally, brother, remember that I am at my best but an unprofitable servant. As you walk with the Lord for more years in this way you will see the roadside littered with those who made what looked to us to be a good start, but who never completed their race. Don’t look to men, for men will surely disappoint you. Look to Christ, and remain faithful no matter how great the apostasy around you might become.
Blessed a second time by James, I see. And good advice too! He’s indeed a sharp mind and tireless warrior that I’ve enjoyed since I first heard him on a Masters Series in Christian Thought lecture set with Stand To Reason ministries. Greg Koukl of that ministry has been my own favorite, and I was blessed to find that he had read my 14 page “Open Letter to Bill Maher.” He then sent me a complimentary letter and mentioned my article recently in one of his radio shows. Very encouraging indeed, but we must remember why we are here.
James insightfully pointed out something I find in myself. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the Christian worldview, its doctrines, its philosophical implications, and the scientific debates that we forget the point and the One who grounds these things. The truths of God are powerful and heady things, and sometimes I feel like a kid in his father’s workshop, in love with the tools and toys but neglecting the presence, instruction, and designs of the Father. There’s some big power tools in God’s shed. Let’s try not to cut our fingers off.