Message from Mike

I’m taking the opportunity in this letter to inform you that I will be having surgery on March 9, 2011. My routine annual physical with my obsessive compulsive doctor discovered a problem that requires a surgical procedure. The hardest part of this surgery for me is going to be recuperating at home for the next three or four weeks.

Jeannie and I have decided to keep the details of my surgery within our family. When I’m sick I am grumpy, and no offense, but I really do not want to see anyone—even if it’s the best of friends. So instead, I would covet your prayers, whether from your home or in Baskin Chapel which will be open for this purpose the day of my surgery.

I can assure you that everything is fine. The doctors have indicated a full recovery is expected, and there will be no long term ramifications from the surgery. I should be back to normal (if I ever was normal) by the end of March.

In the meantime, Brentwood Baptist’s very capable staff will be picking up the slack and doing their usual great job. Jay Strother and Aaron Bryant will be filling in the pulpit, and Aaron will coordinate my Kairos assignments.

On the day of my surgery, Wednesday, March 9, Baskin Chapel will be open all day for you to stop by and pray for me and my family. In addition, if you want to keep up with how I’m doing, you can follow my blog. You will also have the option there to leave a personal greeting.

We appreciate your prayers, and once again, I want to assure you that I’m fine. I’ll be back in the pulpit and to my regular duties next month.

Beautiful Truth

Mathematicians have a peculiar test for the truth of a mathematical formula. According to them, a formula cannot be true if it is not beautiful. A mathematical formula that is correct has a certain elegance about it. When you write it on the board, it presents itself well balanced, clean, even pure. The observer recognizes a certain beauty in the way the formula is written. That formula has a better chance of being true than a formula that is clumsy or ugly when it is written on the board.

Since I read that several years ago, I’ve held that understanding in the back of my head. Here is what I have discovered: more times than not, what is beautiful is indeed true. Certainly I am not talking about our world’s superficial definition of beauty. Beauty is indeed more than skin deep. But a life that is lived beautifully is a life that is true. Nature, in its elegance, is beautiful and therefore, one of the truest things I know. The love a mother has for her child, the love of a newly engaged couple, the determined care of an artist—all these are beautiful and all these are true.

So, I guess, one of my unspoken goals in life is to live a beautiful life. I think if I can do that I can live a life that is also true. I think one of the reasons God made it this way is because a beautiful life is attractive and will cause people to come around and ask you about your life, and give you a chance to share the center of all beauty—Jesus Christ Himself.

I think the mathematicians are right. I think beauty is indeed truth, and I think it is through beauty that God shows Himself to us.

• What have you noticed in your world that is beautiful?
• What have you noticed in your world that is true?
• Are the two the same?
• What would it take for your life to be beautiful, and therefore true?

The Question of Rob Bell

As I write this, everyone is talking about Rob Bell’s upcoming book, LOVE WINS.  According to the teasers from the publishers and some of Rob Bell’s quotes, people are accusing Rob Bell of being a Universalist.  That is, Rob Bell is thought to be saying everyone goes to heaven.   Believers, unbelievers—everyone ends up spending eternity with God.  Now, obviously, I don’t believe that.  I believe God in His wisdom has given us free will, and by giving us free will, God allows us to live with the consequences of our choices—even if those choices last for eternity.

Now, I have not seen Rob Bell’s book, so I won’t waste any more time talking about the book until I read it.  What has struck me in these conversations is how many people who are challenging Rob Bell about his universalism are in fact universalists themselves. Before you go off on me, listen to my point.  Most of the people who would disagree with Rob Bell never share their faith, never pray for a lost world or in fact, even know anyone who is lost.  I can only assume by that, they assume God has another way.  That is universalism. .

So, here is my question:  If you believe people who die without Christ are lost forever, what are you doing about that?  If you are not doing anything, then do you really believe it?