mid-week apologetics booster (9-22-2016)

Good morning friends,

Another week has gone by, and we all need to ask ourselves, have we done anything this week to advance the kingdom of God and the Gospel?  The Apostle Paul said

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

I suspect that you were not actually physically in chains for Christ this week, but there are other ways that you may’ve been advancing the Gospel.  Maybe you were at AWANA last night advancing the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  May you gave money to a faithful ministry that is advancing the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  Maybe you made a meal for brothers and sisters at Church, or did some cleaning or maintenance at the Church.  Maybe you served the homeless in our community at one of the many relief organizations.  Maybe you spoke up in a personal conversation, communicating and defending you faith in Christ.  I know of one of my brothers who led someone to Christ this week in a faraway land over the phone and internet (WeChat).  She prayed to receive Christ and her life was changed forever!  Praise the Lord.  This brother of mine was a faithful witness over several months of weekly calls, teaching and preaching the Word of God to her (after the business talk was finished).  He was advancing the Gospel into a country where she may not’ve heard it otherwise.

God has placed us where we are with our circle of influence.  Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.  This is our chance in this lifetime to make a difference for the Kingdom of God in a dark and hurting world!  I like how Pastor James MacDonald phrases it – “we need to be shouldering weekly Kingdom responsibility”.  He stresses the fact that every born again, Bible believing, follower of Christ should be striving to:

  1. Walk with Christ
  2. Worship Christ
  3. Work for Christ

I pray that you would all make a difference for Christ this week!

Here are you weekly links:

  1. Watch “Catch The Light for Intelligent Design Audio Play – 8th Clip” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CAgobUvih5Q
  2. Why Abortion Is Unjust Discrimination – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/12/11/why-abortion-is-unjust-discrimination/
  3. The Complete Series: Ten Basic Facts About the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize – Canon Fodder: http://michaeljkruger.com/the-complete-series-ten-basic-facts-about-the-nt-canon-that-every-christian-should-memorize/
  4. Tom Gilson talks about how to have critical conversations about difficult topics with teens | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/node/42138
  5. Watch “The Kalam Cosmological Argument” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/6CulBuMCLg0
  6. Open Biola: Free Educational Content Created & Curated by Biola University | Open Biola: http://open.biola.edu/
  7. Watch “Are Beliefs the Result of Where One Is Born?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/VjHRqToHhCU
  8. Watch “Understanding and Sharing Truth in our Culture” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/5ODX5r3d_2I
  9. New Video Destroys the False Claim That Abortion is Just 3% of What Planned Parenthood Does | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/09/14/new-video-destroys-the-false-claim-that-abortion-is-just-3-of-what-planned-parenthood-does/
  10. Watch “29. Hasn’t Christianity done more harm than good?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0bOyoAjhUc8
  11. Watch “Was the New Testament Written Early?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/pBxoNiTyfHw
  12. Arguing, Quarreling, and Questioning | Think on These Things: https://jaredrabbot.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/arguing-quarreling-and-questioning/
  13. What Is Postmodernism? | NAMB: https://www.namb.net/apologetics/what-is-postmodernism
  14. Faith Actually: Definitions Matter: http://faithactually.blogspot.com/2016/07/definitions-matter.html?m=1
  15. Pastor Andy Stanley says the Bible is too hard to defend – Evangelical pastor preaches that the Bible isn’t the foundation for the Christian faith: http://creation.com/andy-stanley-rebuttal
  16. Cosmologist Luke Barnes answers 11 objections to the fine-tuning argument: https://winteryknight.com/2016/09/11/cosmologist-luke-barnes-answers-11-objections-to-the-fine-tuning-argument-4/

Blessings to you all!

Highly Esteemed Among Men, Detestable in God’s Sight

In Luke chapter 16, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees about money.  As usual, they were not happy – the text says they “were lovers of money” and that they were “scoffing at Him”.  And he replied with this stunning charge:

You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (Luke 6:15)

Of course the whole counsel of Scripture shows that Jesus was right about the Pharisees – they were more about appearances and external compliance to the law, and they lacked the “truth in the inward parts” that King David spoke of in Psalm 51, his great psalm of repentance.

But as I read this account, I wonder about you and me…  Jesus could’ve been talking to us.  Do we justify ourselves in the sight of others?  Do we “highly esteem” that which is detestable in the sight of God?  Here are some thoughts on ways we justify ourselves in the sight of men and that we highly esteem that which God detests:

We justify ourselves by…

  1. When we say, “I’m a good person. I’ve never murdered anyone, I’ve never cheated on my wife, and I’ve never robbed anyone”.  Really?  Jesus clarified that external compliance to the law is not the only thing we’re accountable for.  He said that we’re also responsible for our thoughts about these things.
    1. So, you’ve never murdered anyone? Have you murdered them in your mind?  Have you hated them?  If you’ve hated another, the Bible says you’re a murderer (1 John 3:15).
    2. So you’ve never committed adultery? Have you ever lusted after another woman or man?  If so, according to Jesus, you’ve already committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).
    3. So, you’ve never robbed anyone? Have you ever given less than a full day’s work for a full day’s pay?  That’s robbing your employer.
  2. When we highlight and promote our good qualities and good deeds and gloss over or ignore the less flattering aspects of ourselves.
  3. When we are caught lying, we call it a white lie. We say that we didn’t want to cause a dispute or hurt the other person’s feelings.  We justify our lying.  We think it’s no big deal. (Proverbs 12:22)
  4. When we drive over the speed limit, roll through stop signs, make right turns on red when the sign says “No Right Turn on Red”, smoke in non-smoking areas, put more charitable contributions on our taxes than we gave and many other things and then say, “Well, everyone’s doing it”

We highly esteem what God detests when we…

  1. Idolize anything other than God. This can include, but it not limited to:
    1. Money / Material Possessions / Career (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
    2. Your happiness
    3. Sex, Food and other “appetites”
    4. Celebrities / Sports stars / Entertainment
    5. Personal Freedom (to behave however you want with no constraints) – Luke 9:23-26
    6. Your family (Luke 14:26)
    7. Your reputation (being loved by men) – Galatians 1:10
    8. Your sin – Romans 6:12-14
  2. Say that abortion grants a woman the “right to choose” what to do with “her own body”.
  3. Say that homosexuality is not a sin and that homosexuals are just being who they are and loving who they want.

Friends, let’s make sure that we’re not doing the very things Jesus is accusing the Pharisees of.  Let’s not be hypocrites (Matthew 23:24-28).  Let’s live for the Lord.  Let’s say with Paul, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)!

mid-week apologetics booster (9-15-2016)

Good morning friends,

I wanted to let you know of a site that I maintain that has links to many of the sites where I get these articles.  It is http://coolgadgetssoftware.com/random_christian_link.html.  There it has a list of 316 sites that I’ve found that have decent content.  It also has a button at the top that allows you to visit a random site from the list (in a new window).

Here are some articles and videos for you to take a look at:

  1. Thought Snack: We Think God’s Unfair Because We Don’t Hate Sin – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/09/21/thought-snack-we-think-gods-unfair-because-we-dont-hate-sin/
  2. Is God Unfair to Those Raised in Other Faiths? http://www.comereason.org/religious-exclusivism.asp
  3. 5 Popular Christian Teachers To Avoid: http://thereforegodexists.com/5-popular-christian-teachers-to-avoid/
  4. Three False Gospels You May Not Realize Are in Your Church: http://pulpitandpen.org/2015/08/20/three-false-gospels-you-may-not-realize-are-in-your-church/
  5. Verifiability Is A Christian Distinctive: http://crossexamined.org/verifiability-is-a-christian-distinctive/
  6. The unaffiliated: Why more than a quarter of Arizonans are leaving religion behind: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2016/08/17/unaffiliated-faith-why-more-than-quarter-arizonans-leaving-religion-behind/88900344/
  7. In What Sense Is It Impossible for the Universe to Come from Nothing? http://www.reasonablefaith.org/in-what-sense-is-it-impossible-for-the-universe-to-come-from-nothing
  8. Understanding and Sharing Truth in our Culture: https://youtu.be/5ODX5r3d_2I
  9. Tom Holland: Why I was wrong about Christianity: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/religion/2016/09/tom-holland-why-i-was-wrong-about-christianity
  10. Have archaeologists just unearthed stunning BIBLICAL PALACE once owned by King Solomon? http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/707419/archaeologists-unearthed-stunning-BIBLICAL-PALACE-King-Solomon
  11. Why Doesn’t God “Do Something” About Evil? http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2016/09/why-doesnt-god-do-something-about-evil.html
  12. John MacArthur joke: http://adam4d.com/got-joke/
  13. Is Criticizing God or The Bible A Valid Argument Against Gods Existence? or “On The ‘There Is No God And I Hate Him”: https://agroundfloorview.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/is-criticizing-god-or-the-bible-a-valid-argument-against-gods-existence-or-on-the-there-is-no-god-and-i-hate-him-part-2/
  14. How America Has Gone From the Old Deluder Satan Act to Banning Bibles in School: http://allchristiannews.com/how-american-has-gone-from-the-old-deluder-satan-act-to-banning-bibles-in-school/
  15. “I like apologetics, where should I start?” https://apologetics105.com/2016/09/09/i-like-apologetics-where-should-i-start/
  16. Trusting in Science Alone will Starve Our Ability to Know: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2016/09/trusting-in-science-alone-will-starve.html
  17. Mundanity as a barrier to faith: http://apologeticsuk.blogspot.com/2015/04/mundanity-as-barrier-to-faith.html
  18. The Basic Facts that Everyone Agrees on About Jesus’ Death and Resurrection: https://beyondtm.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/20-b4-twenty-the-basic-facts-that-everyone-agrees-on-about-jesus-death-and-resurrection/
  19. 4 Reasons Why Every Christian Should be Pro-Life on Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/03/4-reasons-why-every-christian-should-be-pro-life-on-abortion/
  20. The 9 Forms of Infidelity in Marriage (Hint: 8 of Them Don’t Involve Sex): http://www.faithit.com/9-forms-infidelity-marriage-dave-willis/
  21. Is This the Biggest Barrier to Students Living out Their Faith? http://youthministry360.com/blog/the-biggest-barrier-to-students-living-out-their-faith/

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.  Proverbs 19:2

Many ways seem right…

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12;16:25

This verse, repeated twice in Proverbs, is so “on target”.  I see and hear so many people expressing non-biblical ideas that seem right to them, not knowing that those ways of thinking ultimately lead to death as the Scripture says.  Here just a few of these “worldly wisdom” expressions that are commonplace in today’s American society:

  1. The most important thing is to follow your heart. There several verses in the Bible that contradict this. For example, Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”  So, if this is true, why would I want to follow my heart?  Romans 3:10-12 says “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.
  2. There are many paths to God, not just one way. What really matters is that you’re sincere.  This is certainly not the view of Jesus and His disciples.  He said:
    1. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. Matthew 12:30
    2. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
    3. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  John 3:17-18
    4. [John the Baptist speaking] He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36
    5. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:23b
    6. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. John 5:39-40
    7. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal. John 6:27
    8. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. John 6:40a
    9. Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. John 8:24b
    10. Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. John 10:7-9a
    11. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. John 12:26b
    12. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. John 12:48
    13. I am the way, and the truth, and the life ; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6
    14. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3
    15. [Peter speaking] And there is salvation in no one else ; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
    16. [Paul speaking] Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
    17. [Paul speaking] For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11
  3. If you’re a “good person” you go to heaven. Oh how this is anti-biblical!  I could give numerous Scriptures to back this up – here are a few:
    1. For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. Isaiah 64:6a
    2. Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:19-20
    3. No one is good–except God alone. Mark 10:18b
    4. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
    5. At the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:5-6
    6. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
    7. Clearly no one is justified before God by the law. Galatians 3:11a
  4. God greatest desire is for me to be happy. If this is true, I guess He didn’t see His greatest desire fulfilled for the Apostles or even for His very own Son.  Again, the Bible says different:
    1. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
    2. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Mark 13:13
    3. And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” Luke 9:23-25.  Does this sound like God greatest desire is for me to be happy?
    4. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Luke 14:33
    5. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Philippians 1:29
    6. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 1 Peter 4:12-16

All of these statements have the ring of truth – they sound so logical.  Many more could be given.  My only recommendation is – read the Bible and develop a biblical worldview.  As Colossians says “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ

Let me finish with the commentary of J.C. Ryle on the parable told by Jesus in Luke 18:9-14:

The sin which our Lord denounces is “self-righteousness.”

We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family-disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to do. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not so bad as some, and that we have something to recommend us to the favor of God. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness.” (Prov. 20:6.) We forget the plain testimony of Scripture, “In many things we offend all.” “There is not a just man upon earth, that does good and sins not”–“What is man that he should be clean, or he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous?” (James 3:2. Eccles. 7:20. Job 15:14.)

The true cure for self-righteousness is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit, and we shall talk no more of our own goodness. Once let us see what there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires, and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, “Unclean, unclean.” (Levit. 13:45.)

One great defect stands out on the face of this prayer–a defect so glaring that even a child might mark it. It exhibits no sense of sin and need. It contains no confession and no petition–no acknowledgment of guilt and emptiness–no supplication for mercy and grace. It is a mere boasting recital of fancied merits, accompanied by an uncharitable reflection on a brother sinner. It is a proud, high-minded profession, destitute alike of penitence, humility, and charity. In short, it hardly deserves to be called a prayer at all.

No state of soul can be conceived so dangerous as that of the Pharisee. Never are men’s bodies in such desperate plight, as when disease and insensibility set in. Never are men’s hearts in such a hopeless condition, as when they are not sensible of their own sins. He that would not make shipwreck on this rock, must beware of measuring himself by his neighbors. What does it signify that we are more moral than “other men?” We are all vile and imperfect in the sight of God. “If we contend with Him, we cannot answer him one in a thousand.” (Job 9:3.) Let us remember this. In all our self-examination let us not try ourselves by comparison with the standard of men. Let us look at nothing but the requirements of God. He that acts on this principle will never be a Pharisee.

J.C. Ryle commentary on Luke 18:9-14

mid-week apologetics booster (9-8-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. The New Face of Atheism (And It’s Not Dawkins!) – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/the-new-face-of-atheism-and-its-not-dawkins
  2. God’s Foreknowledge Does Not Force – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/07/24/gods-knowledge-does-not-force/
  3. Elementary School with Co-ed Restrooms: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Elementary-School-with-Co-ed-Restrooms.html?soid=1100422530046&aid=yGl2YXsMESA
  4. Atheists Who Convert: A Case Study: http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Atheists-Who-Convert-A-Case-Study
  5. LDS Church and Same-Sex Marriage: The DOCTRINE Behind the Policy — dear Ephesus: http://www.dearephesus.org/blog/2015/11/6/lds-church-and-same-sex-marriage-the-theology-behind-the-policy
  6. Pornography and Purity: Pursuing a Biblical Vision of Manhood and Womanhood to the Glory of God – Servants of Grace: http://servantsofgrace.org/pornography-purity-pursuing-biblical-vision-manhood-womanhood-glory-god/
  7. Why isn’t God’s Existence more Obvious? | Saints and Sceptics: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/why-isnt-gods-existence-more-obvious/
  8. You Don’t Always Have to Make a Defense – Apologetics 105: https://apologetics105.com/2016/08/31/you-dont-always-have-to-make-a-defense/
  9. How To Answer, “Can You Be Good Without God?” – DyerThoughts: http://www.dyerthoughts.com/home/how-to-answer-can-you-be-good-without-god
  10. Mark Spence videos:
    1. Watch “I Deserve Hell – Mark Spence’s Story” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xci422OZGWE
    2. Watch “Can We Trust the Bible?” by Living Waters on YouTube: https://youtu.be/XyNseXdd260
    3. Watch “Is It Wrong to Judge?” by Living Waters on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ef3P97nz0lU
    4. Watch “Mark Spence ‘The Good News is Great News’” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/LdU3y7EIa8Y
  11. Harvard PhD tosses questions at fossil claim: http://mobile.wnd.com/2016/09/harvard-phd-tosses-questions-at-fossil-claim/
  12. Bad Arguments Against Christianity: Bible Contradictions – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/08/11/answering-the-bible-contradictions-objection/
  13. Video Shows Mother Teresa Saying “Every Abortion is a Rejection of Jesus” | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2013/12/27/video-shows-mother-teresa-saying-every-abortion-is-a-rejection-of-jesus/
  14. The Problem of Evil Is Often A Problem of Understanding – Cross Examined: http://crossexamined.org/the-problem-of-evil-is-often-a-problem-of-understanding/
  15. ISIS Is Killing Us Because We Are Not Muslim – by Nabeel Qureshi: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nabeel-qureshi/isis-is-killing-us-because-we-are-not-muslim_b_11793770.html
  16. Lessons for America from the fall of Rome: http://mobile.wnd.com/2016/09/lessons-for-america-from-the-fall-of-rome/#67C09EVzvgw1FYx4.99
  17. The Case for Christianity According to a 7th Grader | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/10965/
  18. Our shrinking brains – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/our-shrinking-brains
  19. 4 Ways to become a better listener and a better Apologist: http://crossexamined.org/4-ways-become-better-listener-better-apologist/
  20. Why Would an Engineer-Turned-Mom Care So Deeply about Apologetics? http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/why-would-an-engineer-turned-mom-care-so-deeply-about-apologetics
  21. The Church of Chronic Denial and Dementia | Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past…… https://robertbridgstock.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/the-church-of-chronic-denial-and-dementia/
  22. Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America: http://crossexamined.org/four-self-refuting-statements-heard-on-college-campuses-across-america/
  23. What Christian Parents Need to Know About New Age and Occult Beliefs: http://crossexamined.org/christian-parents-need-know-new-age-occult-beliefs/
  24. Greg Bahnsen: The Bible is the Word of God: http://evidence4god.blogspot.com/2016/08/greg-bahnsen-standing-on-scripture.html
  25. William Lane Craig Q&A: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/knowledge-of-god-and-his-will
  26. ‘Increasingly Aggressive’ Atheists Target Children in New Evolution-Promoting Book: http://christiannews.net/2016/09/05/increasingly-aggressive-atheists-target-children-in-new-evolution-promoting-book/

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalms 100:1-5

mid-week apologetics booster (9-1-2016)

Good morning all,

I hope I find you this morning thinking deeply about “the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent” (John 17:3)!  Here are some items to help you defend your faith this week:

  1. Podcast #41: A Clear View of Mormonism with Dr. Craig Hazen – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2016/08/17/podcast-41-a-clear-view-of-mormonism-with-dr-craig-hazen/
  2. How to Talk to Your Kids About Hell: http://christianmomthoughts.com/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-hell/
  3. Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes: Using Public Funds to Establish Atheist Beliefs: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2016/08/using-public-funds-to-establish-atheist.html
  4. Talking to a student about God’s existence at The Ohio State University – THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/talking-to-a-student-about-gods-existence-at-the-ohio-state-university/
  5. Possible Worlds: My Favorite Apologetic Arguments: http://www.randyeverist.com/2016/08/my-favorite-apologetic-arguments.html
  6. Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes: Dealing with All Those “Lost Gospel” Claims: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/03/dealing-with-all-those-lost-gospel.html
  7. Shia and Sunni Islam – what are the differences? http://www.gotquestions.org/Shia-Sunni-Islam.html
  8. 65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer: http://crossexamined.org/65-apologetics-questions-every-christian-parent-needs-to-learn-to-answer/
  9. Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/adam-eve-really-exist/
  10. Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist – Larry Alex Taunton: http://larryalextaunton.com/articles/richard-dawkins-the-atheist-evangelist/
  11. Did Bible Authors Believe in a Literal Genesis? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/genesis/did-bible-authors-believe-in-a-literal-genesis/
  12. Why some Americans left religion behind | Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/
  13. Funsized Fallacies: Post Hoc – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/06/05/funsized-fallacies-post-hoc-3/
  14. 5 Questions to Ask Jesus Mythicists: http://www.stephenjbedard.com/5-questions-ask-jesus-mythicists/
  15. Your Work Matters to God: https://www.probe.org/your-work-matters-to-god/
  16. Parents: Don’t Train Your Kids On Your Own: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/parents-dont-train-your-kids-on-your-own/
  17. 3 WAYS ‘THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT’ STORY BACKFIRES: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2016/08/25/3-ways-the-blind-men-and-the-elephant-story-backfires/
  18. Transgender Identity-Wishing Away God’s Design: https://answersingenesis.org/family/gender/transgender-identity-wishing-away-gods-design/
  19. Despite Rape and Torture, ISIS Captive Refused to Renounce Christianity Before Execution | The Stream: https://stream.org/despite-rape-torture-isis-captive-refused-renounce-christianity/
  20. FRC Blog » Ending the Secular Witch Hunt: http://frcblog.com/2016/08/ending-secular-witch-hunt/
  21. The 5 Worst Beliefs a Christian Parent Can Have in an Imploding Society: http://christianmomthoughts.com/the-5-worst-beliefs-a-christian-parent-can-have-in-an-imploding-society/
  22. The Apostles Wrote the Gospels as Eyewitness Accounts | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-apostles-wrote-the-gospels-as-eyewitness-accounts/
  23. Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources – bethinking.org: http://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources
  24. Jesus Is A Myth, Just Like President Kennedy | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/jesus-is-a-myth-just-like-president-kennedy/
  25. Building a case for the historical Jesus – ChristianWeek: http://www.christianweek.org/building-case-historical-jesus/
  26. Reasons To Believe : Universe Cannot Be Created Because That Would Be Magic? http://www.reasons.org/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/universe-cannot-be-created-because-that-would-be-magic
  27. Did Papias Know the Apostle John? – Canon Fodder: http://michaeljkruger.com/did-papias-know-the-apostle-john/
  28. An Essential Key to Understanding the Development of the NT Canon – Canon Fodder: http://michaeljkruger.com/an-essential-key-to-understanding-the-development-of-the-nt-canon/
  29. Watch “Why Can The Bible Be Trusted Sean McDowell” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Jc2wqBfk20E
  30. Football banana-throwing racism – What’s the basis for the racist symbolism of hurling bananas at black football players? http://creation.com/banana-throwing-football-and-racism
  31. A Billion Genes and Not One Beneficial Mutation: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/08/a_billion_genes103091.html

Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  John 12:27

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (8-25-2016)

Good morning followers of Christ!

I ran into an extraordinarily large amount of articles and videos I’m providing you this week.  Hopefully you’ll find something in here to equip you to gently instruct those who oppose you (2 Timothy 2:23-26):

  1. How to Respond When Someone Says, “No One Comes to Faith Through Arguments.”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cS2xGUj5KQ
  2. When it Comes to Abortion, No One Talks about the One Question that Matters. It’s the One Question the President Never Asks: http://www.str.org/Media/Default/Publications/December%201997%20-1.pdf
  3. 4 Myths About Teaching Apologetics in Youth Ministry: http://www.churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/160290-benjer_mcveigh_4_myths_about_teaching_apologetics_in_youth_ministry.html
  4. A ‘no brainer’ test for measuring the faith of our young ones – Are your children (and grandchildren) asking the right questions? http://creation.com/no-brainer-test
  5. Three Surprising Facts about Atheists | Paul Gould: http://www.paul-gould.com/2016/08/17/three-surprising-facts-about-atheists/
  6. We are saved by faith alone, not by faith and works | Salvation and works: https://carm.org/are-we-saved-faith-alone-or-do-we-need-works-too
  7. How Come the Bible Doesn’t Condemn Slavery? Reasons To Believe: http://www.reasons.org/articles/how-come-the-bible-doesnt-condemn-slavery
  8. Atheist Vs. Christian Summer Camps: Which More Effectively Taught Their Worldview This Summer? http://christianmomthoughts.com/atheist-vs-christian-summer-camps-which-more-effectively-taught-their-worldview-this-summer/
  9. Why 99 out of 10 Millennials Leave The Church? http://crossexamined.org/why-99-out-of-10-millennials-leave-the-church/
  10. State School? Christian College? Navigating the Many Choices: http://www.equip.org/article/state-school-christian-college-navigating-many-choices/
  11. Is it arrogant to claim you have ‘the truth’? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adxa8Iw8T48
  12. What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants? http://www.gotquestions.org/difference-Catholic-Protestant.html
  13. 6 Ways You May Be Raising Your Kids with an Oversimplified Faith: http://christianmomthoughts.com/6-ways-you-may-be-raising-your-kids-with-an-oversimplified-faith/
  14. THEO101: The Destiny of the Unsaved: https://clearlens.org/2016/08/18/theo101-the-destiny-of-the-unsaved/
  15. What Can’t Science Account For? http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/08/what-cant-science-account-for.html
  16. Witnessing To Jehovah’s Witnesses [Part1] – Most Christians are ill-equipped to handle themselves in discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The simple reason is they know their stuff and most Christians don’t. Most Christians know what they believe, but don’t know why they believe it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQ6Pf5ZDSCk
  17. Asking Questions and Calling Bluffs: https://apolotheo.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/asking-questions-and-calling-bluffs/
  18. Why Russell’s Teapot Fails: https://clearlens.org/2015/06/03/why-russells-teapot-fails/
  19. Why Every Christian Needs to Be A Sheepdog: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/why-every-christian-needs-to-be-a-sheepdog/
  20. Funsized Fallacies: Tu Quoque: https://clearlens.org/2015/05/01/funsized-fallacies-tu-quoque/
  21. “Ray Comfort on the Banana, in context [HQ]” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BXLqDGL1FSg
  22. “The Greatest Gamble” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4uIZkYqkKqM
  23. azvoterguide.com: http://www.azvoterguide.com/
  24. Do all good people go to heaven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clJdwHyhJzY
  25. Is atheism a religion? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tzxQSFq1iE
  26. There’s Probably No God – a response to Richard Dawkins: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/theres-probably-no-god-a-response-to-richard-dawkins/
  27. Two More Ways Learning to Defend Your Faith Benefits You: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/09/two-more-ways-learning-to-defend-your.html
  28. More Ways Learning to Defend Your Faith Benefits You! http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/09/four-ways-learning-to-defend-your-faith.html
  29. Why Would God Have Permitted Any Form of Servitude or Slavery? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/why-would-god-have-permitted-any-form-of-servitude-or-slavery/
  30. Why Natural Selection Cannot Explain the Origin of Animal Development: http://www.equip.org/article/natural-selection-cannot-explain-origin-animal-development/
  31. A Wallet, A Dollar, the Existence of God 1-Theism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vi-FsaEb3Q
  32. Jesus vs. Horus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FR08QtvapM
  33. Questioning Modeled by Jesus | Confident Christianity: http://confidentchristianity.com/?p=1432
  34. Your eyeball has 137,000,000 connections in one square inch.. Evolutionism teaches that it happened by chance… That’s ridiculous: https://www.facebook.com/HowToWinASoul/videos/1808089622744119/
  35. When did the boat sink? https://www.facebook.com/HowToWinASoul/videos/1720959891457093/
  36. Evolutionists say “How can you believe that all the dogs in the world came from two dogs on Noah’s ark?” yet they believe that all the dogs in the world came from a rock: https://www.facebook.com/HowToWinASoul/videos/1808090186077396/
  37. Talk It Up! Major New Study on Homosexuality: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2016/08/talk-major-new-study-homosexuality/

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Psalm 51:1-17

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (8-18-2016)

Hi Brothers and Sisters,

An appropriate verse for this morning: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

Here are some items for you to take a look at and learn from:

  1. How Jesus Responded to Doubt: http://www.coldcasechristianity.com/2016/how-jesus-responded-to-doubt/
  2. ‘A delivery boy’ for God: Greg Laurie and his Harvest Crusade are back for a 27th year: http://www.latimes.com/socal/weekend/news/tn-wknd-et-socal-harvest-20160806-story.html
  3. Why Polytheism is false and Christianity True? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XmJ_W6Qwrw
  4. Aren’t all religions basically the same? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFaT_qBzzkQ
  5. Jesus among other religions – Ravi Zacharias: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjpAC9S0C50
  6. Refuting Noah’s ark critics: http://creation.com/refuting-noahs-ark-critics
  7. Should Christians Fear Profanities? http://www.equip.org/article/christians-fear-profanities/
  8. From the Critical Thinker’s Toolbox: Have You Considered the Other Side’s Best Argument? https://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/from-the-critical-thinkers-toolbox-have-you-considered-the-other-sides-best-argument/
  9. Why Young People Lose their Faith–and How to Prevent It: http://www.thrivingfamily.com/Family/Stages/Teen%20Phases/2016/logical-faith.aspx/
  10. Is the Evidence for Intelligent Design “Undeniable”? One Scientist Makes the Case. – Cross Examined: http://crossexamined.org/evidence-intelligent-design-undeniable-one-scientist-makes-case/
  11. Billy Graham Accepts Atheist’s Challenge to Change His Mind — Charisma News: http://www.charismanews.com/culture/59225-billy-graham-accepts-atheists-challenge-to-change-his-mind
  12. To Be Sure….God Loves Us: CULTS & WORLD RELIGIONS: Resources for Study: http://2besure.blogspot.com/2016/02/cults-world-religions-resources.html
  13. Abbreviated Christianity and Christian Case Making: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/abbreviated-christianity-and-christian-case-making/
  14. No Original Documents: A Skeleton in God’s Closet? – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2016/06/22/no-original-documents-a-skeleton-in-gods-closet/
  15. Teaching Your Children To Be Apologists – Chapter 3 Ministries: http://chapter3min.org/2016/03/17/teaching-your-children-to-be-apologists/
  16. Worldviews and Reality | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/articles/worldviews-and-reality#.V7UsZstlDqB

“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’  if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage,  then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.”  Job 31:24-28

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (8-11-2016)

Good morning fellow ambassadors!

Here are some interesting links I ran into this week, in case you have some time to do any reading or watching:

  1. Can Christians claim to have the One, True God? http://crossexamined.org/can-christians-claim-to-have-the-one-true-god-2/
  2. Hiroshima, Obama, and American Morals: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=182245
  3. New Student Resource on Mormonism: Author Interview: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/new-student-resource-on-mormonism-author-interview
  4. Arguing Is Good (short video by Greg Koukl): http://www.str.org/videos/arguing-is-good-2#.V6nVZDXaxtp
  5. How do you approach the subject of Hell in a conversation? (short video by Dr. Frank Turek responding to a question at a Q&A): https://www.facebook.com/drfrankturek/videos/838379222960269/
  6. IS HISTORICAL EVIDENCE CONVINCING TO SKEPTICS OF CHRISTIANITY? http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/07/15/is-historical-evidence-convincing-to-skeptics-of-christianity/
  7. How Should I Talk to My Gay Friend about the Bible and Homosexuality? http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/08/how-should-i-talk-to-my-gay-friend-about-the-bible-and-homosexuality.html
  8. Greek Scholars and the Watchtower | Thomistic Bent – this is regarding the infamous New World Translation rendering of John 1:1, which says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was a god”: https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/greek-scholars-and-the-watchtower/
  9. William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men | WINTERY KNIGHT: https://winteryknight.com/2016/07/28/william-lane-craig-churches-should-focus-on-apologetics-to-attract-more-men-4/
  10. A simple case for the pro-life position by Scott Klusendorf – As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLEDas a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences: https://winteryknight.com/2016/08/04/a-simple-case-for-the-pro-life-position-by-scott-klusendorf-4/
  11. Faith and Reason – Michael W. Austin: http://www.michaelwaustin.com/faith-and-reason/
  12. FRC Blog » The Islamic State (ISIS) Lays Out Its Plan for Christians: http://frcblog.com/2016/08/islamic-state-isis-lays-out-its-plan-christians/
  13. Pastor Rick Warren Is Well Prepared For A Purpose Driven Retirement – Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2013/03/21/pastor-rick-warren-is-practicing-what-he-preaches-and-getting-ready-for-retirement/#4a4f91756a1c
  14. Is it a sin to drink alcohol? https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/sin-drink-alcohol/
  15. Watch “The Teaching of Joyce Meyer” on YouTube (7 min video) – In answer to a question, Hank plays an example of Joyce Meyer’s teaching and then comments on her false prosperity message and a misquotation of Scripture: https://youtu.be/bYJW2nWQqfo
  16. Answering atheist arguments – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/atheist-arguments
  17. Paul’s Trial Before Felix, Part 1: The Case Against Paul: https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1791
  18. The Resurrection and the Secular Mind – Pastors and Christian Leadership Resources: http://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/the-resurrection-and-the-secular-mind-11570590.html
  19. Watch “Planned Parenthood Supporter vs. Christian” on YouTube (27 min street interview) – This guy can be a little bit pushy during the interview, but he has some good arguments as he’s responding to the Planned Parenthood supporter: https://youtu.be/mx7tulUPHMw
  20. Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air – Greg Koukl and Francis Beckwith discuss the problems of relativism and moral relativism.  Del Tackett is the host (1 hour 18 min video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s98Z4tlunA

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV)

mid-week apologetics booster (8-4-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. How Hummingbirds Avoid Collisions: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/07/how_hummingbird103016.html
  2. So , how come there is a stegosaur like creature carved on a building which is 800 years old? http://gen1rev22.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/so-how-come-there-is-stegosaur-like.html
  3. Macy’s Fires Catholic Employee for Disagreement With Transgender Bathroom Policy | The Stream: https://stream.org/macys-fires-catholic-employee-disagreement-transgender-bathroom-policy/
  4. The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles: the Didaché – Best of the Web – Aleteia.org – Worldwide Catholic Network Sharing Faith Resources for those seeking Truth – Aleteia.org: http://aleteia.org/2016/07/12/the-doctrine-of-the-twelve-apostles-the-didache/
  5. How God Worked Through Reigning Miss Teen USA | The Christian Diarist: https://christiandiarist.com/2016/07/30/how-god-worked-through-reigning-miss-teen-usa/
  6. 3 Key Things Skeptics Will Say to Shame Your Kids for Being Christians: http://christianmomthoughts.com/3-key-things-skeptics-will-say-to-shame-your-kids-for-being-christians/
  7. (Not apologetics related – just interesting) Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here – One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/israel-proves-the-desalination-era-is-here/
  8. Is the Apparent Fine-Tuning of the Universe Simply An Observational Phenomenon? Warner Wallace: http://crossexamined.org/is-the-apparent-fine-tuning-of-the-universe-simply-an-observational-phenomenon/
  9. How to Understand the Distinction Between Islam and Muslims – Mentoring Letter August 2016: http://www.str.org/articles/how-to-understand-the-distinction-between-islam-and-muslims-mentoring-letter-august-2016#.V6JKXstlDqA
  10. A Practical Plan to Equip the Next Generation: http://www.str.org/Media/Default/Publications/SG%20May%202016%20Equipping%20Kids-1.pdf
  11. Watch “447. Who Created God?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/1yY9a2SwNx4
  12. The Real Issue Apologetics Ministry: Why Did the Bible Include Certain Books and Not Others? http://roblundberg.blogspot.com/2016/08/why-did-bible-include-certain-books-and.html
  13. Reasons To Believe : Why Argue about Evolution? http://www.reasons.org/articles/why-argue-about-evolution
  14. Part 3 Challenging a Jehovah’s Witness with the Alpha and Omega argument – Biblical Worldview Academy: http://biblicalworldviewacademy.org/challenging-a-jehovahs-witness-part-3/

Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.  1 John 3:13

Blessings to you all!

mid-week apologetics booster (7-28-2016)

Good morning dearly loved children of the Living God!

It’s been a busy week for me as I finished preparing and delivering teaching on Deuteronomy 25 this past Tuesday.  If you would like to see what I taught, take a look here.  In the meantime, I did do some other reading and research – primarily on how the Bible, though written by men, is the Word of God. This research was targeted to help someone I’ve been mentoring deal with a very specific objection he’d received recently. Here are those links:

  1. “The Bible Was Only Written by Men…and Men Make Mistakes.” – Stand to Reason Blog: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2010/02/the-bible-was-only-written-by-menand-men-make-mistakes.html
  2. How does one convince a nonbeliever that the Bible is the Word of God? http://www.ligonier.org/learn/qas/how-does-one-convince-nonbeliever-bible-word-god/
  3. Is the Bible truly God’s Word? http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-God-Word.html
  4. Wasn’t the Bible Written by Mere Men? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/wasnt-the-bible-written-by-mere-men/
  5. How Do We Know the Bible is True? Is it Really the Word of God? http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-true-is-it-really-the-word-of-god/
  6. What does it mean, the Bible is inspired? – bethinking.org: http://www.bethinking.org/is-the-bible-reliable/q-what-does-it-mean-the-bible-is-inspired
  7. How Do We Know that the Bible Is True? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/how-do-we-know-that-the-bible-is-true/
  8. Why is the Bible, and Not Other Religious Books, the Word of God? | CBN.com: http://www1.cbn.com/spirituallife/the-word-of-god
  9. Is the Bible Really the Word of God? http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/bibletru.html
  10. Proof, I want proof | Was the Bible written only by man? Should we follow blindly? https://carm.org/proof-i-want-proof
  11. Scientific evidences of the Bible’s inspiration: http://www.bible.ca/b-science-evidences.htm
  12. You Can’t Trust the Bible Because Humans Wrote It | InterVarsity – Evangelism: http://evangelism.intervarsity.org/how/apologetics/you-cant-trust-bible-because-humans-wrote-it
  13. Staring Down Skepticism: How Two Students Cultivated Confidence in the Face of Skeptical Challenges: http://www.str.org/articles/staring-down-skepticism-how-two-students-cultivated-confidence-in-the-face-of-skeptical-challenges

John 18:4-11 – Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)  When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.  Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”  Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)  Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

 

Blessings

Teaching on Deuteronomy 25

It was my turn to teach yesterday in my weekly Tuesday lunchtime Bible study at Mimi’s Cafe.  We are going through Deuteronomy and my chapter was 25.  This content is based on a Bible study I heard on the sermon audio web site:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=23132132519

The Bible study was led by Jim Butler of Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack, British Columbia.  I also received input from this sermon:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=2131413375

I started off my teaching with this quote from “A Popular Survey of the Old Testament” by Dr. Norman L. Geisler:

What is significant about these teachings of Christ concerning the Old Testament is that they force us to choose between Christ and the critics of the Bible. Virtually everything major critics deny about the Old Testament, Jesus affirmed to be true. The dilemma is to either accept the authenticity and authority of the Old Testament or to impugn the Integrity of Christ. In plain language, either the Old Testament is the word of God or Christ is not Son of God.

In this section of the book (pg. 13) he was talking about how Christ authenticated many accounts from the Old Testament:

  1. That Adam and Eve were created by God (Matt 19:4)
  2. That Abel was killed by Cain (Matt. 23:35)
  3. That a flood destroyed the world in Noah’s time (Luke 17:27)
  4. That God spoke to Moses through a burning bush (Luke 20:37)
  5. That Elijah performed miracles (Luke 4:25)
  6. That Jonah was in the great fish 3 days (Matt. 12:40)
  7. That Daniel made true predictions (Matt. 24:15)

Here is the outline of the chapter:

  1. Laws on corporal punishment (v1-3)
  2. Provision for workers (v4)
  3. Levirate Marriage (v5-6)
    1. Procedure for the unwilling brother-in-law (v7-10)
  4. Threat to progeny (v11-12)
  5. Prohibition against unjust weights and measures (v13-16)
  6. Remember what Amalek did (v17-19)

V1-3 Laws on Corporal punishment

If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.

Five things we learn from verses 1-3

  1. There must be a trial (v1). Judicial procedure is big in the law of God – as can be seen in Deuteronomy 17, 19, 22.  There is due process, you listen, you hear witnesses, you give evidence, you give testimony – judges weigh the case, then they give a verdict or a ruling.
  2. Supervision over the beating (v2a). If the man is found guilty, and the decision is made to him (most likely with a rod rather than a whip Exodus 21:20), there must be supervision.  This may seem harsh, but we need to appreciate all the safeguards that were put in place to prevent an abuse of power.  The judge is presiding over the beating.  It is a legal proceeding – it is not “barbarism”.  In this way, the judge was able to see that the sentence was properly executed and that the offender was not treated too leniently.  That’s as bad a problem as too harshly.
  3. There must be proportion (v2b). Notice that the judge will have the offender beaten in proportion to his offense, with a certain number of stripes.  The punishment must fit the crime.
  4. There must be a limit (v3a). You cannot exceed 40 stripes.  This led to the Rabbinic custom of 39 lashes, referred to by Paul in the New Testament:

    2 Corinthians 11:24 – Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.

    The Hittites had something called the “Code of Hammurabi”.  This was a Babylonian law code of ancient Mesopotamia dating back to about 1750 BC.  The code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments.  Their code prescribed a max of 60 stripes (law 202).  The Assyrians permitted between 40 and 50 stripes.

  5. There must be concern for dignity (v3b). Notice the phrase “lest… your brother be degraded in your sight”.  Notice that he’s still called a brother – he’s still in the covenant community – he’s not been ostracized.  This is remedial – he’s going to get his beating, then he’s going to enter back into society, having learned his valuable lesson and having paid the debt to the person he offended against.  So, even in the process of punishment, God is concerned that His image bearers – even the criminals – maintain their dignity.  This wasn’t a spectacle done for sport, rather the punishment that was fit for the crime.

What form of punishment seems to be missing in the Pentateuch? (answer: incarceration)

V4: Provision for workers

“You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.”

It seems a bit out of place here to deal with animals, so we might see it as a general principal, dealing with the just recompense of those who engage in labor.  If the oxen is treading out the grain, let him eat.  Don’t muzzle him – let him enjoy some of the fruits of his labor.  Certainly if that applies to oxen, it applies to men as well.  In the preceding section (v1-3) we saw that dignity was to be preserved in the beating of a criminal for his evil works.  Certainly for a man involved in “good work” (treading out the grain – or engaged in a lawful days employ), do not muzzle him – let him eat while he is engaged in that particular task.  We know that the Apostle Paul uses it in the context of paying men who preach the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:9-14 – For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.


1 Timothy 5:17-18 – The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.

Paul here appeals to the Scripture, both the Old and the New Testament. They’re both consistent in terms of this provision for those who engage in lawful employment – in this context specifically, men who preach the Gospel.

Levirate Marriage (v5-6)

If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.

Levirate comes from the Latin word “Levir”, which means brother-in-law.  The rule regards a man who dies.  It is the duty of his brother to take his widow as his wife.  In the verse, it says “if brothers dwell together”.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they share the same house, but probably that they share the same property.  Then “one of them dies and has no son” – we can probably understand this to mean “childless”, because if this situation occurs and there are daughters, the daughters are rightful heirs to inheritance:

Numbers 27:8 – And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, “If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.”

The primary focus in the Levirate Marriage law is not on the widow’s well-being, though that’s certainly in there.  Rather, the primary focus is more covenantal in nature.  Remember when God made the covenant with Abraham.  Two vital elements of that covenant were “seed” and “land” and it seems that’s what’s being protected here.  If a man dies, then he is not shunned from his rightful inheritance in terms of seed and land.  He ought to have posterity (definition from Merriam-Webster: “1. the offspring of one progenitor to the furthest generation, 2. All future generations”).  The idea of seed and land were not confined to Israel and certainly pre-dated the legislation here.  See Genesis 38, which deals with a man named Onan:

Genesis 38:4,7-10 Then she conceived again and bore a son and named him Onan… But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD took his life. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.

Sometimes people understand this passage to forbid certain types of sexual misconduct (i.e. masturbation).  However, it is better to understand it as this idea of the Levirate Law, that it is the responsibility of the surviving brother to take the widow unto himself so that his dead brother may have heir, seed – one who is the rightfully entitled to the inheritance that is promised.

This Levirate marriage arrangement is certainly what was involved in the question posed by the Sadducees to our Lord Jesus:

Matthew 22:23-33 – …the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”  Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead–have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

The Sadducees denied the supernatural and life beyond the grave. They are trying to put together an absurd scenario regarding the idea of the Levirate marriage.  They think the scenario they’ve posed to Jesus had really “got him cornered”.  But, it’s interesting that all the times that people try to “corner Jesus” he just sends them packing…  He is wisdom personified (see Colossians 2:2-3).

This whole idea of the Levirate marriage is for the specific purpose of granting “name” to this dead man, and that’s specified there in v6: “that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.” So, we see it’s a sign of affection, comradery, respect and inheritance for that dead brother. Marriage in those days was not always based on romantic interests, but economic and covenantal interests.  Some of these laws just seem so bizarre to the 21st century mindset.  The only way we’d ever think of getting married is for romantic reasons.  However, most of the time, up until the last couple hundred years people married more for specific reasons than romantic ones.  We ought not to balk at such things.  We ought to realize that God has His purposes.  Christopher Wright says the Levirate marriage institution does 3 things:

  1. Provides for the security of the widow in her bereavement and offered the hope of removing the stigma of not having borne a son.
  2. It prevented any loss of property and land to the wider family, which would happen if she married outside the family
  3. It ensured that the dead man’s name would be carried forward for posterity in his family.

Procedure for the unwilling brother-in-law (v7-10)

And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’

This Levirate Marriage isn’t a “mandatory law” – this brother can refuse.  If he’s willing to have his sandal removed and have his face spit upon, and be termed “the house of him who had his sandal removed”, he’s not going to be corporally punished and he’s certainly not going to be capitally punished for refusing to marry his dead brother’s wife.  He’s going to look like a jerk-one who had no affection for his brother or for his dead brother’s wife.

Notice in v8 – it says “Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him”.  We need to learn from this – albeit an indirect application – to be very careful, cautious and hesitant before we pronounce guilt on a person before we’ve heard both sides. We need to make sure we understand these principles in Proverbs 18:

Proverbs 18:13,17 – He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame… The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.

When defending ourselves, we don’t always give both sides.  We tend to portray ourselves in the best possible light.  We often don’t share something that looks bad on us, but we promote everything that looks bad in the other person.  Let us learn something here.  She makes the allegation –then v8 says “Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him”.  Notice that they don’t have “paid employee” that removes sandals and spits in faces.  This text provides that victims be a part of the punitive situation.  That helps victims when they see what’s actually being done. Notice that v10 says that his name shall be known in Israel as the house of him who had his sandal pulled off.  It’s not just him, but it’s his entire family that fall under this stigma, so that when his family is seen in the market or around town, people know that they live in “the house of him who had his sandal pulled off”.

The taking off of the shoe (sandal) was an ancient custom in Israel in cases of redemption and exchange, for the purpose of confirming commercial transactions.  The usage arose from the fact that when anyone took possession of land and property, he did so by treading upon the soil and asserting his right of possession by standing upon it in his shoes.  In this way, the taking off of the shoe and handing it to another became a symbol of the renunciation of a man’s position and property.  When we hear about ancient ceremonies like this, it seems really bizarre to us.  But we have ceremonies too.  If someone’s going to “consecrate a ship”, they break a bottle of champagne on it.  If we read about that in 500 or 1,000 years, we’d probably be kind of puzzled about it.  Or, there’s a new building and it’s being dedicated and there’s a ribbon cutting ceremony where they get big scissors and they cut this ribbon.  So, there’s ceremonies that indicate or evidence something very significant.  Ruth 4 alludes to this practice of taking off the sandal:

Ruth 4:7 Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.

This is similar, but not parallel, because in that particular instance, Boaz is not the brother-in-law. The removing of the sandal ceremony (in the case of the unwilling brother) indicated that this man was not entitled to exercise privilege anymore-he had renounced it.  One commentator Allan Harman says that the removal of the sandal indicated that the man was forfeiting any right to his brother’s property, while spitting in the face was an act of contempt.  We don’t need to exegete that – spitting in the face meant then what it means today J

By these regulations (of Levirate marriage), the brother-in-law’s marriage was no doubt recognized as a “duty of affection” towards his deceased brother, but it was not made a command, the neglect of which would involve guilt and punishment.

V11-12: Threat to progeny

When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.

Progeny simply means children (offspring).  Notice in v11 “When men fight with one another”.  It’s not suggesting that in Israel, everyone was fighting on the street.  Just to read v11-12 seems a little shocking – she squeezes his genitals, you cut off her hand, you don’t show any pity.  How often did this actually happen – that 2 men would fight in the city street and one of the men’s wives would grab the other man by the private parts in order to try and stop the fight?  It probably didn’t happen a whole lot…  So, when you hear people say, “The Bible talks about cutting off hands of poor innocent ladies!”, wait a minute, there’s a particular context, a particular situation, a specific incident that we need to understand covenantally – Seed, Inheritance, Land – all these things are crucial!  The punishment in view is not for a “modesty issue” necessarily, rather the fact that she is hurting and possibly destroying this man’s chance for progeny (for having children).  In the context of this passage, coming off the heels of the Levirate marriage regulations, seeing how important seed is, that’s probably what’s in view.  If she squeezes and does damage to this man’s genitals, then he could indeed be sterile.

“Lex Talionis” (Law of retaliation) calls for an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (Exod. 21:23-24).  She does not possess that genitalia, so what is commensurate is that she should lose her hand.  It’s hard to imagine that what you had within the covenant community was people brawling on every street corner with wives standing there, getting involved and trying to stop it.  So, it was probably very, very minimal to begin with, if ever.  In this respect, Old Testament law is in marked contrast to other ancient near eastern law, especially Assyrian law, where all kinds of very nasty physical mutilations were prescribed for many offenses.  In Biblical law this is the only instance.  This is punitive amputation of an offending individual.  Notice, it’s not a property crime (she didn’t steal), it’s a “life crime”.  It has to do with propagation and destruction of potential life.

V13-16: Prohibition against unjust weights and measures

You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.

A heavy weight would profit in buying.  A lighter weight would profit in selling.  At the heart of this is honesty, justice, equity and fair trade.  You don’t have differing weights and measures so that you can rip off a covenant community member.  Rather, you have just weights and just measures, because it’s wrong and it’s a violation of God’s law to steal from people:

Exodus 20:15 You shall not steal.

It’s interesting, when we drop down in this passage, to v16, “all who do such things…are an abomination to the LORD your God”.  Obviously, we would call abortion, sexual perversion, idolatry and other such violations of God’s law an abomination.  God calls an unjust weights and measures an abomination.  Fiscal policy, financial matters, economy, money, fair trade and just weights & measures really are ethical issues.  The same God who says “You shall not murder”, “You shall not commit adultery” is the same God who says, “You shall not steal”.

What’s the implication of verse 15?  Conduct yourself equitably and honestly, in a manner of fair trade in the land the Lord your God is giving you and it will go well with you.  In other words, when you obey the law of God and do what the Lord commands, the Lord attaches that blessing to obedience in the land.  Certainly, we see that the Israelites didn’t always do this.  Unjust weights and measures were being practiced in Amos’s day:

Amos 8:4-6 Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

They were exploiting the poor and engaging in wickedness and lawlessness. And proverbs says:

Proverbs 11:1 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight. (NKJV)

Proverbs 16:11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s; All the weights in the bag are His work. (NKJV)

Proverbs 20:10,23 Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination to the Lord … Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, And dishonest scales are not good.

God hates theft and despises when men engage in deceit.  Men, if you say you are selling a product, then make sure it bears that particular value.  Don’t cheat people or rip them off.  Do not think that having unjust weights and measures will make you prosperous.  It may prosper you in the short term, but God, the Lord will most certainly bring judgement to bear upon you.  We need to deal ethically, uprightly, honestly and justly in all of our financial dealings and doings – in our commerce – in our buying and in our selling.

Leviticus 19:35-36 You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

This is the same ethic we find in the New Testament.  You have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – now live like that!  Live in a manner that is consistent with the Gospel:

Ephesians 4:28 – Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

So, the Gospel ethic isn’t just “stop stealing”, but “stop stealing, work and work hard, so that you can make enough to give to someone who has need.”  That is conduct worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Question: In what ways do we have unjust weights and measures today?

V17-19 Remember what Amalek did

Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. Therefore when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.

We learn 2 things about the Amalekites here:

  1. Their wicked conduct – Not only did they attack Israel, but they specifically attacked the stragglers at the rear. Those at the rear were probably the elderly, the very young, the sick, and the pregnant.  The strong warriors are probably upfront.  So, Lex Talionis applies on a national level as well.  It’s interesting here that God’s law pertains not only to covenant Israel, but also to the Amalekites as well.  It is fundamental and universal, by virtue of the fact that man bears the image of God, that we don’t prey upon weak people.  That’s something that the Amalekites should’ve known and that every human being has written in their hearts (Rom 2:14-15).
  2. Their religious motive – Amalek does not fear God, so, he certainly doesn’t care about God’s people. The fact that he destroys these weak Israelites is an indicator of his despising and his hatred of the God of Israel. And so God then says “Remember them”.

Do the Israelites actually obey God?  No.  Saul spared Agag and the Amalekites:

1 Samuel 15:3,7-9 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’… And Saul attacked the Amalekites… But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them…

We still see the Amalekites during the reign of David.  Ultimately, its 1 Chronicles 4 that indicates the end of the Amalekites, probably under Hezekiah’s reign.

1 Chronicles 4:41,43 – … in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah… they defeated the remnant of the Amalekites who had escaped…

Notice these are God’s enemies, He wants Israel to wipe them out.  God has the prerogative, the right and the absolute sovereignty to make this declaration.  We do not. When the psalmist says “Do I not hate those who hate You O Lord?” (Ps. 139:21), he’s not crying out against his enemies, he’s crying out against God’s enemies.  When the Psalmist asks the Lord to smash the teeth of his enemies (Ps. 58:6), they are the enemies of the Lord, not someone at church who forgot to say hi to you on Sunday. Don’t go home and pray imprecatory Psalms over your wife because she burned dinner.  It is righteous for us to use the imprecatory Psalms.  We see them quoted in the New Testament often, but we need to understand the responsible use of them.  It is God’s enemies that we are to despise, not our enemies, not the guy who cut us off on the freeway.

Question: Where do we see “the Gospel” in Deuteronomy 25?

mid-week apologetics booster (7-21-2016)

Hi Friends,

Here are some links for you this week to look at:

  1. Six Ways Christians Can Respond to the Growing Police Dilemma | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/6-ways-christians-can-respond-to-the-growing-police-dilemma/
  2. You Can Hate Christians, But Stop With This Stupid Argument – Peter Heck: http://peterheck.com/peterheck/main1/view/39226/you_can_hate_christians__but_stop_with_this_stupid_argument
  3. Logical Fallacy Series — Part 28: The Masked Man and Conclusion: http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2016/07/logical-fallacy-series-part-28-masked.html
  4. Logical Fallacy Series — Part 23: Hasty Generalization: http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2016/07/logical-fallacy-series-part-23-hasty.html
  5. Five Questions to Ask Before You Consume Cannabis | Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-questions-to-ask-before-you-consume-cannabis
  6. Your Deluded Brain Thinks It’s Conscious! – Evolution News & Views: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/07/your_deluded_br102987.html
  7. Blood brothers – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/blood-brothers
  8. Two-tone twins – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/two-tone-twins
  9. The Existence and Attributes of God Debate: https://youtu.be/2dCc8rAuw5I
  10. America’s Founders at College: http://links.emagnify.com/q/119zqLUqdmg9/wv?platform=hootsuite
  11. Did God Condone Slavery? | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/articles/did-god-condone-slavery#.V4udf8tlDqA
  12. Slavery in the Bible: Does God Approve of It? http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/slavery_bible.html
  13. Does the Bible condone slavery? http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html
  14. Slavery in the Bible – Come Reason Ministries: http://www.comereason.org/slavery-in-the-bible.asp
  15. Age of the earth – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/age-of-the-earth

Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ”  Matthew 15:10-11

 

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (7-14-2016)

Good morning all,

Here are some links for you to take a look at:

  1. 7 Questions Skeptics Ask – How to answer the tough questions: http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/evangelism/seven-questions-skeptics-ask.html?start=1
  2. Teaching Apologetics to the Next Generation: http://www.equip.org/article/teaching-apologetics-next-generation/
  3. 5 Signs That Someone is Open to the Gospel: http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/the-good-book-blog/5-signs-that-someone-is-open-to-the-gospel.html
  4. Six Things That May Change the Way You Think About Police Officers (J. Warner Wallace – Cold Case Homicide detective and Christian Apologist): http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/six-things-that-may-change-the-way-you-think-about-police-officers/
  5. Bible Contradiction? Was Jesus born in a house or a manger? https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/bible-contradiction-was-jesus-born-in-a-house-or-a-manger/
  6. Who created God? https://coffeehousequestions.com/2016/07/12/who-created-god/
  7. Sorry, Faster Mutation Rate Will Not Explain the Cambrian Explosion: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/07/faster_mutation102984.html
  8. Hermeneutics: The Eight Rules of Biblical Interpretation: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/5846-biblical-interpretation-rules
  9. The Big Bang, The First Cause, and God: http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/the-big-bang-the-first-cause-and-god/
  10. Another Look at the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament: http://michaeljkruger.com/another-look-at-the-earliest-complete-list-of-the-canon-of-the-new-testament/
  11. God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally: https://www.probe.org/god-space-where-spiritual-conversations-happen-naturally/
  12. Two Types of Sceptic: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/two-types-of-sceptic/

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD– and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.  Isaiah 11:1-8.

Have a great week!

mid-week apologetics booster (7-7-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links – make good use of them for “summer reading”:

  1. The most important thinking skill for a Christian Apologist – great podcast by Dr. Frank Turek – must listen: http://player.subsplash.com/ba83a16
  2. Is There Any Difference Between Islamic Violence Today and the Wars of the Old Testament? | Thinking Christian: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2016/06/is-there-any-difference-between-islamic-violence-today-and-the-wars-of-the-old-testament/
  3. What about Aliens, UFOs, evolution and suffering? – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/aliens-ufos-evolution-suffering
  4. The Blind Men and an Elephant: http://www.cltruth.com/2015/the-blind-men-and-an-elephant/
  5. Christian Anger & Fundamentalism. | James Bishop’s Theology & Apologetics.: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/christian-anger-fundamentalism/
  6. Christianity for Everyone: Why is Jesus the only way? Part 1: http://christianityforeveryone.blogspot.com/2014/05/why-is-jesus-only-way-part-1_16.html
  7. Christian Quotations from America’s Founding Fathers | Thomistic Bent: https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/christian-quotations-from-americas-founding-fathers/
  8. Don’t Be Afraid to Be the Cause of Your Kids’ Questions About Christianity: http://christianmomthoughts.com/dont-be-afraid-to-be-the-cause-of-your-kids-questions-about-christianity/
  9. Why I Love Atheists | CrossExamined.org: http://crossexamined.org/why-i-love-atheists/
  10. The Brief Biblical Case for the Eternal Life of the Soul | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-brief-biblical-case-for-the-eternal-life-of-the-soul/
  11. Apologetics Press – Could the Ark Stay Afloat? http://apologeticspress.org/DiscoveryPubPage.aspx?pub=2&issue=1221&article=2616
  12. Cerebral Faith: Logical Fallacy Series — Part 20: Appeal To Ridicule: http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2016/07/logical-fallacy-series-part-20-appeal.html
  13. What is moral relativism and how can Christians respond? – Coffeehouse Questions: https://coffeehousequestions.com/2015/06/24/what-is-moral-relativism-and-how-can-christians-respond/
  14. Stand to Reason | Who Are You to Judge? http://www.str.org/articles/who-are-you-to-judge
  15. Redeemed Royalty | 75% of Millennials Believe This – And It Could Mean The End Of Freedom: http://www.redeemedroyalty.org/75-of-millennials-are-wrong-about-this-and-it-could-mean-the-end-of-freedom/
  16. Colossal Noah’s Ark Comes to Life in Kentucky (today is the opening day): http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/07/06/colossal-noahs-ark-comes-to-life-in-kentucky.html

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions –it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:1-7

 

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (6-30-2016)

Good morning friends,

I hope you’re having a good summer!  Here is some good summer reading and watching for you:

  1. Frank Turek Lists Six Lines of Evidence That Speak to the Reliability of the New Testament | Reference Shelf for the Kingdom of God: http://blogforthelordjesusreferenceshelf.com/2015/01/04/frank-turek-lists-six-lines-of-evidence-that-speak-to-the-reliability-of-the-new-testament/
  2. UNC claims Christmas vacations, golf outings are microaggressions: http://campusreform.org/?ID=7751
  3. Reporter Says “Huge” Just Doesn’t Describe the Ark | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/06/28/reporter-says-huge-just-doesnt-describe-ark/
  4. Why Are Christians So Defensive? | CrossExamined.org: http://crossexamined.org/why-are-christians-so-defensive/
  5. Watch “Nabeel Qureshi // Why I stopped believing Islam is a religion of peace” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/2htOWOF4gqs
  6. US Supreme Court Rules Against Texas Abortion Restrictions Law | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/06/27/us-supreme-court-rules-against-texas-abortion-restrictions-law/
  7. Unbelievable? Is God a God of wrath? Joshua Ryan Butler & Brian Zahnd – Saturday 25th June 2016 02:30 pm: http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Is-God-a-God-of-wrath-Joshua-Ryan-Butler-Brian-Zahnd
  8. The LGBTQ Straw Man: Why You’ve Got Denial of Service Totally Wrong: http://www.redeemedroyalty.org/the-lgbtq-straw-man/
  9. Abortion — Supreme Court Treats It Like a Religion in Its Hellerstedt Decision | National Review: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/437243/supreme-court-abortion-whole-womens-health-hellerstedt-religion-sexual-revolution
  10. Watch “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/EE76nwimuT0
  11. Mike Licona Explains Why Apologetics is Necessary: https://vimeo.com/172362102
  12. The Why? Series | RZIM: http://rzim.org/the-why-series?platform=hootsuite
  13. Video: Shattering the Icons of Evolution by Tim Barnett: http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2016/06/video-shattering-icons-of-evolution-by.html
  14. How to Evangelise New Atheists | Saints and Sceptics: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/evangelism-and-new-atheists-a-little-advice-for-aspiring-apologists
  15. Does Being Old Disqualify the Bible’s Teachings? http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/10/does-being-old-disqualify-bibles.html
  16. Why Defend My Faith? – Coffeehouse Questions: https://coffeehousequestions.com/2015/05/04/why-defend-my-faith/

O LORD, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children. And I–in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.  Psalm 17:14-15

Blessings to you all!

mid-week apologetics booster (6-23-2016)

Good morning everyone,

Hope you’re having a good week knowing and glorifying the Lord, enjoying Him, making Him known to others and defending the Christian worldview.  Here are some items to help equip you in those endeavors:

  1. 3 Biblical Principles for Worldview Conflict – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/04/15/3-biblical-principles-for-worldview-conflict/
  2. Christian Answers: http://christiananswers.net/directry.html
  3. No Original Documents: A Skeleton in God’s Closet? – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2016/06/22/no-original-documents-a-skeleton-in-gods-closet/
  4. The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God | Reasonable Faith: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-new-atheism-and-five-arguments-for-god
  5. 5 Steps To Save The Next Generation From Godlessness | Redeemed Royalty: http://redeemedroyalty.org/5-steps-to-save-the-next-generation-from-godlessness/
  6. Sing It Together Now: “My Booooooody” [Joy Behar]: http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2016/05/sing-it-together-now-my-booooooody.html
  7. 30 Things You Can Do This Summer to Deepen Your Kids’ Faith: http://christianmomthoughts.com/30-things-you-can-do-this-summer-to-deepen-your-kids-faith/
  8. WHY I STOPPED WATCHING PORN: http://www.redeemedroyalty.org/real-talk-why-i-stopped-looking-at-porn/
  9. California legislature seeks to shut down Christian colleges and universities: https://winteryknight.com/2016/06/21/california-legislature-seeks-to-shut-down-christian-colleges-and-universities/
  10. What is Social Darwinism? – #4 Post of 2009Tough Questions Answered: http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/12/26/what-is-social-darwinism/
  11. Doesn’t Bible Condone Killing One’s Rebellious Child? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/doesnt-bible-condone-killing-ones-rebellious-child/
  12. Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2016/newsletter20160620.htm#30

Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” John 7:31-36

Blessings to you all!

Talking with an Indian family about Christianity

Sometime in mid-May 2016, I spent time with my wife and an Indian family eating dinner.  Then, after dinner, unbeknownst to me, they invited me back to their house to “debate religion” (according to their 4th grade child).  So, we went, and what ensued was a (friendly) 4 hour talk about Christianity and some about Hinduism.  All I can say is wow…  I didn’t convince them to become Christians, but I was able to clearly share the gospel with them and left the door open for future discussions.  The husband/father of the family said that he actually believes in Jesus, which of course I had to clarify what he meant by that (he doesn’t believe in the Biblical Jesus from what I could gather).  The objections I encountered centered around several themes:

  1. The reliability of the Bible
  2. The exclusivity of Christianity
  3. That all religions are similar

I addressed all of these issues, but without really changing their opinions.  This is a family we continue to be involved with and I continue to pray for opportunities to discuss my faith with them.

mid-week apologetics booster (6-16-2016)

Good morning all,

Here are some links for you to take a look at:

  1. 5 Things Christian Parents Must Do to Raise Godly Children in a Secular World – Raisingodlychildren: http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2016/06/5-things-christian-parents-must-do-to-raise-godly-children-in-a-secular-world.html
  2. 5 Ways Christians Can Respond to the Orlando Shooting: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-ways-christians-can-respond-to-the-orlando-shooting
  3. ACLU LAWYERS BLAME CHRISTIANS FOR ORLANDO ATTACK COMMITTED BY ISLAMIC TERRORIST: https://winteryknight.com/2016/06/13/aclu-lawyers-blame-christians-for-orlando-attack-committed-by-islamic-terrorist/
  4. Cooper’s Crusade Against Christ – The people of North Carolina and the alumni of N.C. State University deserve an apology. Administrators at the school have implemented a patently unconstitutional policy, which forces students to apply for a permit in order to share the gospel on a public university campus they fund with their hard earned tax dollars: http://townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2016/06/10/coopers-crusade-against-christ-n2176126
  5. What Really Happened at Nicea? http://crossexamined.org/what-really-happened-at-nicea/
  6. Why Didn’t Luke Include the Deaths of Paul, Peter and James in the Book of Acts? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/why-didnt-luke-include-the-deaths-of-paul-peter-and-james-in-the-book-of-acts
  7. Girl in the Picture: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/girl-in-the-picture
  8. The Reliability of the New Testament Text (Dr. James White): https://youtu.be/LuiayuxWwuI
  9. What Community Demographics Should a Pastor Know: http://thomrainer.com/2016/06/community-demographics-pastor-know/
  10. The Bible vs. The Qur’an – Apologetics Canada: http://www.apologeticscanada.com/2016/05/20/bible-vs-quran/
  11. A Princeton Skeptic’s Journey | Apologetics – C.S. Lewis Society: http://www.apologetics.org/resources/articles/redemption-explained/
  12. Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah – Slaying the Giant of Temptation, Part 1 http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/turning-point/listen/slaying-the-giant-of-temptation-part-1-534665.html
  13. Liver Function and Its Effects: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/06/liver_function102916.html
  14. Can We Construct The Entire New Testament From the Writings of the Church Fathers? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/can-we-construct-the-entire-new-testament-from-the-writings-of-the-church-fathers/
  15. Does the Old Testament Law Apply To Us Today? http://truthfaithandreason.com/case-making-101-does-the-old-testament-law-apply-to-us-today/
  16. Why Growing Closer To God Is Such a Slow Process: http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2016/why-growing-closer-to-god-is-such-a-slow-process/
  17. What Did the Word ‘Christian’ Mean in the First Century? https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/what-did-the-word-christian-mean-in-the-first-century/
  18. How to Deal with your Atheist Professor: A student at East Carolina University asked me recently how can he deal with an atheist Professor in class. This piece of advice can be used in and out the classroom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMui4GN4A_g
  19. Four Reasons We Don’t Share the Gospel: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-reasons-we-don-t-share-the-gospel
  20. 10 Things You Should Know about Apologetics: https://www.crossway.org/blog/2016/06/10-things-you-should-know-about-apologetics/
  21. Evangelism & Apologetics: Answering the Questioner – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/03/02/evangelism-apologetics-answering-the-questioner/
  22. Interview with Apologetics expert Sarah Malcangi | Lone Star Inspirations: https://lonestarinspirations.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/interview-with-apologetics-expert-sarah-malcangi/
  23. 4 Reasons We Should Accept the Gospels As Eyewitness Accounts | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/4-reasons-we-should-accept-the-gospels-as-eyewitness-accounts/
  24. Jimmy Carter Visits Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter, Tells Reporters: ‘I Believe in Evolution’: http://christiannews.net/2016/06/14/jimmy-carter-visits-ken-hams-ark-encounter-tells-reporters-i-believe-in-evolution/
  25. Lab Grown diamonds (not apologetics related, just an interesting story): http://www.racked.com/2016/6/14/11872830/lab-grown-diamonds-synthetic

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  1 Peter 5:8-9

 

mid-week apologetics booster (6-9-2016)

Good morning,

Welcome to summer – nothing like 117⁰ blast of heat this past weekend to get you into the summer mood🙂 (Psalms 118:24)  Here are some links to educate, encourage and exhort you:

  1. The S.L.E.D. Test (for abortion): http://www.str.org/articles/the-s.l.e.d.-test
  2. Richard Dawkins: Atheist academic calls for religion ‘to be offended at every opportunity’: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-atheist-academic-calls-for-religion-to-be-offended-at-every-opportunity-a7043226.html
  3. Why We Need to Go Back to Basics and Make a Case for Our Worldview: http://www.str.org/blog/why-we-need-to-go-back-to-basics-and-make-a-case-for-our-worldview#.V1TxfctlDqA
  4. Why Do We Accept the Biblical Writers as Inspired? https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/why-do-we-accept-the-biblical-writers-as-inspired/
  5. A LOOK AT GOD’S EXISTENCE: EVIDENCE WE WANT VS EVIDENCE WE SHOULD EXPECT: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/a-look-at-gods-existence-evidence-we-want-vs-evidence-we-should-expect-2/
  6. The Return of the Bible Memory Man | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/06/06/return-of-bible-memory-man/
  7. Animal Consciousness Once More | Reasonable Faith: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/animal-consciousness-once-more
  8. Family Group Gives North Carolina AG Biology Lesson in New Ad, Tells Him to ‘Do His Job’ and Defend HB2: http://m.townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2016/06/06/family-group-gives-north-carolina-ag-biology-lesson-in-new-ad-tells-him-to-do-his-job-and-enforce-hb2-n2173932
  9. 6 Men Who Disguised Themselves as Women to Access Bathrooms: https://stream.org/6-men-disguised-women-access-bathrooms/
  10. Scientist says he found definitive proof that God exists: http://ageac.org/en/multimedia/scientist-says-he-found-definitive-proof-that-god-exists-2/
  11. How To Answer, “Can You Be Good Without God?” – DyerThoughts: http://www.dyerthoughts.com/home/how-to-answer-can-you-be-good-without-god
  12. How we know beyond any doubt that Jesus existed | Saints and Sceptics: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/how-we-know-beyond-all-doubt-that-jesus-existed-8-quick-points/
  13. How the Church’s Anti-Intellectualism Will Be Her Jailor — Michael C Sherrard: http://www.michaelcsherrard.com/blog/2015/6/1/how-the-churchs-anti-intellectualism-will-be-her-jailor
  14. Intro to Shinto: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/intro-to-shinto/
  15. Yoga – As An Eastern Practice: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/yoga-as-an-eastern-practice/
  16. [not necessarily related to apologetics, but interesting nonetheless] The Gambler’s Fallacy – A bias against deciding the same way in successive situations can affect whether a foreigner is deported, a business gets a loan, or a batter strikes out: http://www.nber.org/digest/jun16/w22026.html

My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. Psalm 71:15

Blessings to you all!

mid-week apologetics booster (6-2-2016)

Good morning friends,

I would like to recommend to you all the book I’m currently reading – “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity” by Nabeel Qureshi.  I’m actually not reading it, but listening to it on an “audible.com” book, where Nabeel himself is reading.  You’ll learn a lot about Islam because he describes his young life as a devout Muslim – and you’ll hear the correct pronouncement of all these Arabic words.  You’ll also learn how you can minister and witness to Muslims by the example of David Wood, who witnessed to Nabeel…

Here are a few links for you to look at this morning:

  1. How Do We Help Kids Who Have Left the Faith? – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/how-do-we-help-kids-who-have-left-the-faith
  2. The Anti-materialist Self-Contradiction Argument – Truthbomb Apologetics: http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-antimaterialist-self-contradiction.html
  3. Study: biological convergence found in human and squid eye genes | WINTERY KNIGHT: https://winteryknight.com/2016/06/01/study-biological-convergence-found-in-human-and-squid-eye-genes/
  4. Responding to an attack posing as an argument | Surprised by Logic: https://logicalgal.com/2016/06/01/responding-to-an-attack-posing-as-an-argument
  5. Is the God of the Old Testament Different than the God of the New Testament? – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/is-the-god-of-the-old-testament-different-than-the-god-of-the-new-testament
  6. Faithful Thinkers: Pride in Discourse: http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/pride-in-discourse.html
  7. Why trying to explain away God with science is an ERROR: http://godevidence.com/2012/10/why-trying-to-explain-away-god-with-science-is-an-error/
  8. What Came First, The Oprah or the Egg? – because it’s true: http://www.becauseitstrue.com/blogarticles/what-came-first-the-oprah-or-the-egg
  9. Detecting Design — Photos, Stories, and Thoughts: http://www.daviddesonier.com/apologetics/2015/12/5/when-to-infer-design
  10. What’s the One Question No Christian Can Answer? (I really like the answer here…): http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2016/05/whats-one-question-no-christian-can.html
  11. Is Isaiah 52-53 Speaking of National Israel Rather than the Messiah? | Tough Questions Answered: http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2016/05/25/is-isaiah-52-53-speaking-of-national-israel-rather-than-the-messiah/
  12. Are Humans Sophisticated Carbon-Based Machines? http://crossexamined.org/are-humans-sophisticated-carbon-based-machines/
  13. Paul Kalanithi: Why I gave up on atheism | Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/05/27/paul-kalanithi-why-gave-up-on-atheism.html
  14. Cerebral Faith: 5 Reasons To Believe That Modalism Is False: http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2015/11/5-reasons-to-believe-that-modalism-is.html
  15. What are some of the signs of genuine saving faith? http://www.gotquestions.org/signs-saving-faith.html
  16. Is it God’s will that all people be saved? In the interest of fairness, I will include this.  I don’t think the question is answered satisfactorily and I think this is one of the most powerful arguments against 5 point Calvinism (specifically the “I” in the T.U.L.I.P. acronym): http://calvinistcorner.com/god-desires-all-saved.htm
  17. Am I Good Enough to Go to Heaven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK-h-X4VV6Y
  18. The Bible’s Reliability & Accuracy – A collection of videos looking at the historical and spiritual history of the bibles reliability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0OWYAf2TNA
  19. Why is the Bible reliable? Tim Keller at Veritas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZAPFKXMy_Y
  20. Is the Bible Reliable as a Historical Document? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEThB3CWfVY

Additionally, there are 2 movies now playing at the cheap theater now in Tempe (for $3.00), which I think are worth seeing:

  1. God’s Not Dead 2 – this actually features appearances from the following Christian apologists, who are shown defending the faith either on the witness stand or being interviewed: J. Warner Wallace, Lee Strobel, Gary Habermas.  I believe that this movie was better than the first one.
  2. Miracles From Heaven – this portrays the struggle of a woman contemplating the problem of evil as her daughter falls ill.  It was better than I thought it would be.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

mid-week apologetics booster (5-26-2016)

Good morning family of God,

Hope you’re doing well.  Here are a bunch of links I’ve collected this week.  Hope you can find something useful here:

  1. Are Apologetics and Faith Opposed to One Another? https://clearlens.org/2016/05/18/are-apologetics-and-faith-opposed-to-one-another/
  2. reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference 2016 Costa Mesa, CA – September 23-24, Dallas, TX – October 21-22: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03VcKxiOQpg
  3. 5 Misconceptions about the Bible: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/5-misconceptions-about-the-bible
  4. Cain’s Wife-Who Was She? https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/cain/cains-wife-who-was-she/
  5. 23 REASONS WHY SCHOLARS KNOW JESUS IS NOT A COPY OF PAGAN RELIGIONS: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/23-reasons-why-scholars-know-jesus-is-not-a-copy-of-pagan-religions/
  6. 55% OF DOCTORS HAVE SEEN MEDICAL MIRACLES & 74% BELIEVE IN MIRACLES: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/55-of-doctors-have-seen-medical-miracles-74-believe-in-miracles/
  7. Is Jesus unique? Ravi Zacharias on how to answer the ‘are all religions the same’ question: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ravi.zacharias.is.jesus.unique.answering.the.question.in.a.multi.faith.world/39189.htm
  8. AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL B. WALLACE ON THE NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/
  9. IS THE TEXT OF THE BIBLE WE HAVE TODAY DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINALS? https://winteryknight.com/2016/05/20/is-the-text-of-the-bible-we-have-today-different-from-the-originals-3/
  10. United Methodist Church Quits Pro-Abortion Coalition After Years of Promoting Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/20/united-methodist-church-quits-pro-abortion-coalition-after-years-of-promoting-abortion/
  11. A Call for Plodding Bloggers: http://www.challies.com/articles/a-call-for-plodding-bloggers
  12. POPE FRANCIS’ JIHAD ON CHRISTIANITY – Disturbing pronouncements on the faith from the Vicar of Christ: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/262921/pope-francis-jihad-christianity-raymond-ibrahim
  13. Do Morally Good People Go To Heaven? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b22oVUHg558
  14. Where did God come from? https://www.facebook.com/pastor.sunday.adelaja/videos/vb.40913763844/10153754784698845/?type=3
  15. 34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/05/24/34-of-pro-choice-women-who-see-this-viral-video-turn-against-abortion/
  16. Made in His Image: Life-Giving Blood: http://www.icr.org/article/4823
  17. The lost squadron – Deeply buried missing planes challenge ‘slow and gradual’ preconceptions: http://creation.com/the-lost-squadron
  18. Gender Ideology Harms Children-The American College of Pediatricians is urging educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality: http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children
  19. Another Climate Alarmist Admits Real Motive Behind Warming Scare: http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/another-climate-alarmist-admits-real-motive-behind-warming-scare/
  20. The 180 Movie: http://www.180movie.com/
  21. Three Good Reasons to Celebrate Your Christian Worldview: http://crossexamined.org/three-good-reasons-celebrate-christian-worldview/

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

2 Timothy 2: 1-13

mid-week apologetics booster (5-19-2016)

Good morning,

I hope this morning finds you well as you live out your Christian life – “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” (Eugene H. Peterson)….  Here are some interesting links to equip you to contend for the faith:

  1. The Case of the Missing Verse – John 5:4: http://mattdabbs.com/2008/03/20/the-case-of-the-missing-verse-john-54/
  2. Nine Ways Your Church Can Use Twitter on Sundays – ThomRainer.com: http://thomrainer.com/2016/05/nine-ways-your-church-can-use-twitter-on-sundays/
  3. Take a Quiz on Mormonism! (I got 100%🙂 ): http://www.dearephesus.org/blog/2015/10/26/take-a-quiz-on-mormonism
  4. Epic Failure: My Biggest Evangelism Mistake: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/epic-failure-my-biggest-evangelism-mistake
  5. Are Christians Narrow-minded? 2 Minute Video Response: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/are-christians-narrow-minded-2-minute-video-response
  6. Conflating Questions – Cross Examined: http://crossexamined.org/conflating-questions/
  7. God does not lose books, there are no Lost Books of the Bible: http://www.str.org/articles/no-lost-books-of-the-bible#.Vz0YvMtlDqA
  8. What If the Copies Were Corrupted? http://timothypauljones.com/apologetics-what-if-the-copies-are-corrupted/
  9. What’s So Special about the Bible? http://timothypauljones.com/whats-so-special-about-the-bible/
  10. Nine New Testament Facts about Jesus Corroborated by Josephus and Tacitus | Apologetics Review: http://www.apologeticsreview.com/2014/12/17/nine-new-testament-facts-about-jesus-corroborated-by-josephus-and-tacitus/
  11. James White – The Inspiration, Canonization, and Transmission of Scripture: https://youtu.be/BqcwcxoxoUo
  12. Ehrman–Licona Dialogue on the Historical Reliability of the New Testament | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/ehrman-licona-dialogue-on-the-historical-reliability-of-the-new-testament/
  13. Do We Have to Prove Christianity Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/do-we-have-to-prove-christianity-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt/
  14. Did Nearly 200 Muslim Refugees in Germany Just Convert to Christianity? https://stream.org/nearly-200-muslim-refugees-germany-convert-christianity/
  15. Atheists float new attack on Noah’s Ark tourist attraction: http://mobile.wnd.com/2016/05/atheists-launch-another-attack-on-noahs-ark-tourist-attraction/
  16. A Call for National Civil Disobedience to Obama’s Public School Transgender Bathroom Mandate: https://stream.org/call-national-civil-disobedience-obama-public-school-transgender-bathroom-mandate/
  17. Church of Iran pastor arrested after being freed from death row: http://www.premier.org.uk/News/World/Church-of-Iran-pastor-arrested-after-being-freed-from-death-row
  18. Kirk Cameron – Balancing Apologetics and Evangelism – Kirk Cameron (“Growing Pains,” “Fireproof”) shares his personal testimony, as well as explains what a healthy marriage between apologetics and sharing the gospel looks like. The message includes answers to some of the more common questions and objections skeptics raise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJagd_vxuA4&feature=youtu.be
  19. The Unintended Victims of Bathroom Bills and Locker Room Policies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg-MAMvkplE
  20. How The Trans-Agenda Seeks To Redefine Everyone: http://thefederalist.com/2014/06/23/how-the-trans-agenda-seeks-to-redefine-everyone/
  21. Atheists bash hotel Bibles – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/a/11115
  22. New DNA Study Confirms Noah: https://www.icr.org/article/9325/
  23. Should Christians Mix Faith and Politics? – Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.: https://douglasgroothuis.com/2016/03/10/should-christians-mix-faith-and-politics/
  24. Presuppositions – Why They Matter – Christian Worldview: http://www.christianworldview.net/2016/01/presuppositions/
  25. Fun Bible Facts for Christian Teens: Get Centered with Psalms 118: http://christianteens.about.com/od/understandingyourbible/qt/Psalms118Facts.htm
  26. Why Did God Tell Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac? http://christianmomthoughts.com/why-did-god-tell-abraham-to-sacrifice-isaac/

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”  Luke 23:35-37

mid-week apologetics booster (5-12-2016)

Hi All,

Coming at you evening time this week :)  Here are some interesting things I’ve run into this week:

  1. The Trinity is Not A Problem, It’s A Solution: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-trinity-is-not-a-problem-its-a-solution/
  2. Is It OK to Question the Bible: http://impact360institute.org/videos/is-it-okay-to-question-the-bible
  3. J.P. Moreland Answers Three Important Questions: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/j-p-moreland-answers-three-important-questions
  4. Is God Real? The Argument for God’s Existence from the Appearance of Design in Biology: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-god-real-the-argument-for-gods-existence-from-the-appearance-of-design-in-biology/
  5. The Most Powerful Apologetic Tool in the World: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-most-powerful-apologetic-tool-in-the-world
  6. 4 Reasons Christians Shouldn’t Worry About Election Results: http://www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/278786-christians-worry-election-results-mark-allen-williams-voting.html
  7. 5 Myths about Teaching Apologetics to Students: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/5-myths-about-teaching-apologetics-to-students
  8. What happened at the Council of Nicea? http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2014/04/what-happened-at-the-council-of-nicea.html
  9. WHY DOES OPPOSITION TO APOLOGETICS COME FROM MOSTLY WITHIN THE CHURCH? https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/why-does-opposition-to-apologetics-come-from-mostly-within-the-church/
  10. Debunking Freud – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/debunking-freud
  11. An Open Letter to Megyn Kelly | The Stream: https://stream.org/open-letter-megyn-kelly/
  12. FOUR WAYS THE EARTH IS FINE-TUNED FOR LIFE, AND ONE MORE: https://winteryknight.com/2016/05/07/four-ways-the-earth-is-fine-tuned-for-life-and-one-more-2/
  13. Why Would God Create a Massive Universe? – Stand to Reason Blog: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/05/why-would-god-create-a-massive-universe.html
  14. Thought Snack: We Think God’s Unfair Because We Don’t Hate Sin – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/09/21/thought-snack-we-think-gods-unfair-because-we-dont-hate-sin/
  15. “IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY?” A LOOK AT RELIGIOUS PLURALISM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/is-jesus-the-only-way-a-look-at-religious-pluralism-2/
  16. First-Ever Muslim Miss USA Rima Fakih Converts to Christianity, Report Claims: http://m.christianpost.com/news/muslim-miss-usa-rima-fakih-converts-christianity-report-claims-163444/?m=1
  17. Is God Sexist? http://www.josh.org/is-god-sexist/
  18. Jesus: God’s Tangible Sign: http://rzim.org/just-thinking/jesus-gods-tangible-sign
  19. Point of Exclusion: http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/point-of-exclusion
  20. What is pantheism? http://www.gotquestions.org/pantheism.html
  21. The 7 Concepts of God pt.3 – What is “Pantheism”? — Intelligent Faith 315: http://intelligentfaith315.com/latestposts/2013/7/20/the-7-concepts-of-god-pt3-what-is-pantheism
  22. Pantheism and the New Age View on God – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/perspectives/pantheism-and-the-new-age-view-on-god/
  23. Worse than a “Vale of Tears” – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/article/worse-than-a-vale-of-tears/
  24. Bearing witness to the Creator – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/a/11378
  25. Dennis Prager talked about his book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, and responded to viewer comments and questions: http://www.c-span.org/video/?407593-9/open-phones-dennis-prager
  26. What are the Best Apologetics Resources for Students? http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/what-are-the-best-apologetics-resources-for-students
  27. Is our mind the same as the brain? https://coffeehousequestions.com/2016/04/25/is-our-mind-the-same-as-the-brain/
  28. The faith of Christopher Hitchens (A friend recently recommended I read this book and I’m currently about ½ through the audio book – it is really interesting and insightful): http://blog.drwile.com/?p=14703
  29. Making evangelism a habit – as did Jesus, Paul: http://mbcpathway.com/2016/05/10/making-evangelism-a-habit-as-did-jesus-paul/
  30. Do we need the originals of Scripture? http://mbcpathway.com/2016/05/09/do-we-need-the-originals-of-scripture/
  31. What If the Bible Is True? | Bible-Science Guy: https://biblescienceguy.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/what-if-the-bible-is-true/

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:1-7)

 

mid-week apologetics booster (5-5-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here is some material that will hopefully help you “make the case” for what you believe:

  1. If Religious Freedom Is So Important, Why Do So Few of Us Exercise it? http://crossexamined.org/if-religious-freedom-is-so-important-why-do-so-few-of-us-exercise-it/
  2. How other religions began vs. how Christianity began (1 minute video): https://www.facebook.com/27769441696/videos/10153373385331697/
  3. Jonathan Wells: Science and Theistic Evolution (26 minute video lecture against Biologos) – Can you believe in God and evolution at the same time? What is “theistic” evolution, and how consistent is it with traditional theism? What challenges does Darwin’s theory pose for Protestants, Catholics, and Jews? Is it “anti-science” to question Darwinian theory? Explore these questions and more in this conference at Biola University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hksGZcqJ5h4
  4. 15 Questions for Evolutionists: http://creation.com/15-questions
  5. Reaching Those Who Are Disinterested: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/reaching-those-who-are-disinterested/
  6. Consumer Christianity: Why You Should Buy In Immediately: http://www.redeemedroyalty.org/uncategorized/consumer-christianity-why-you-should-buy-in-immediately/
  7. 7 Things You Should Know About the Jehovah’s Witnesses: http://www.stephenjbedard.com/7-things-know-jehovahs-witnesses/
  8. Tactics – Mike Adams: http://m.townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2016/04/29/tactics-n2154983
  9. Answering the Skeptic: Is the Bible a Myth? http://www.comereason.org/skeptic-bible.asp
  10. Why do Christians try to impose their values on others? http://www.gotquestions.org/Christians-impose-values.html
  11. Equipping Future Generations to Withstand Hostility: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/05/01/equipping-future-generations-to-withstand-hostility/
  12. 4 Pieces of Wisdom from a Street Level Apologist: http://crossexamined.org/4-pieces-of-wisdom-from-a-street-level-apologist/
  13. Is the Jesus Story Stupid? Is the Resurrection Totally Mythical? Skeptics like Bill Maher brush off the stories of Jesus and his resurrection as if they were completely unbelievable and silly. Frank Turek responds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h58RvduPnac
  14. Skateboarding and Darwinism: http://www.icr.org/article/9292
  15. Bad Arguments Against Christianity: Bible Contradictions: https://clearlens.org/2015/08/11/answering-the-bible-contradictions-objection/

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Have a great week!

Questions about God from a friend

Here is the Question

So I have a question: God is considered all knowing, yet he leaves us with choices to follow him or not.  If he’s all knowing, what’s the point of choices?  He already knows the outcome which makes that entire base of logic useless.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for God to just be a supremely intelligent deity locked in a war rather than an all knowing one?  To clarify the locked in a war part, he means “Locked in a war vs. Satan.”  He would have seen Satan turn on him if he were all knowing, instead he either made a choice to allow it because he knew the outcome and sacrificed future souls due to that choice or he didn’t see it coming and he now maintains an alleged upper hand at the end if we are to believe the Bible.

I ask these questions because I think this whole thing is less about if God is real and more about who he really is and what we have about who he really is and what we have ab out him is fact and fiction.

Here is my answer

I’m glad you’re still thinking about such (eternally) important matters!  By the way, did you ever make it through that book I gave you (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist)?

You’ve asked some really good questions here and that shows me that you’re really working through the implications of this Christian worldview.  It is a much better place to be than “apathetic”.  Struggling with these issues is something that God welcomes.  He says “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).  So, God is not unhappy with you for having such questions.  He wants you to seek Him and He wants to give you reasons to believe in Him.  Jesus did this with His resurrection – the Bible says “After His [Jesus] suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive…” (Acts 1:3), and He even made a post-resurrection appearance for a skeptic (John 20:24-29)!  So, thanks for asking.

Now, I’ll try to address your questions and give some thoughts I have…

Philosophically speaking, if God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, as you correctly point out, He is supremely intelligent.  I’m a software developer in my “day job” and in a limited way, I understand what it is like to create something.  I create software.  The software I create is kind of like “my universe” that I’ve created.  I completely control the rules in my universe.  The users of my software are like the people in my universe.  I have built into “my universe” the means for me to be “all-knowing”.  I set up “my universe”.  I’ve established the rules in “my universe”.  I can be aware of every user in “my universe” simultaneously without them knowing that I’m “watching them”.  Sometimes, I actually will pre-emptively contact users and ask them about the error that they just saw on their screen.  They’re surprised that I could know that almost immediately without them contacting support.  The monitoring I’ve built into my software allows me to have an almost eerie “omniscience”.   I’m really the “sovereign” within the universe I’ve built.  I can even do what average users may consider to be “miracles”, suspending the laws of my program, because I know how I’ve built it.  I have the power to manipulate the program and its behavior anyway I want.

So, with this analogy, I’m trying to make you see that if I as a finite software developer can create a program that gives me a near omniscient ability, why can’t God do this with His creation?  Maybe He’s built into His creation the ability to read our minds – even the Bible says as much.  It says “before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely O Lord” (Psalm 139:4).  Also Jesus tells us that “your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matt 6:8)  So, I’m trying to make you see that it is not logically incoherent to believe in an omniscient Creator.

Now to the question regarding why God decided to continue with His plan knowing in advance that Satan would rebel and that in the process, souls would be lost.  This is what I interpret you to be asking.  That’s a tough one.  You’re asking me to get inside the mind of God, which, unless He has specifically revealed “the why”, seems impossible to answer with certainty.  One thing I do know from the Bible is that God has what is referred to as middle knowledge.  This means that He not only knows the actual future, but He also knows all possible futures.  This is seen in passages such as this:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” (Luke 10:13)

This is Jesus speaking, claiming to know what would’ve happened in a particular hypothetical situation.  So, God can actualize a world in which people are put in situations where He knows that they will freely respond in certain ways.  Therefore He can be in control of things, while still allowing His creatures to make free will choices.  One thing that you have to realize is that God is not determining our free choices by having foreknowledge of them.  Remember, He is not “stuck” in time like we are.  He is outside of time and He “sees the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10).  I like to think of it like this.  Imagine a large parade stretching over several miles in the streets of some city.  Each of the participants in the parade can only see their immediate surroundings – maybe a block in either direction.  But a helicopter, hovering over the entire area of the parade can literally see the end from the beginning – the person in the helicopter can see all of the parade at one time.  In a much greater way, God can see all past, present and future at once.  He doesn’t lock the future event in place, thus preventing a free will choice in the future, rather He actually has foreknowledge of the free will choice by seeing it in the future at the time the free will choice is made.  It is very hard for us to think about since we are stuck in time, but if you can wrap your mind around it, it’s not logically inconsistent.

I don’t have any more time today to continue to write, but hopefully, I’ve given you some good things to think about.  Man, you really do ask deep questions!

There is a Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, who deals with issues like this – you may want to check out his Q&A article archive:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer

Finally, toward the end of your question, you seemed to be questioning biblical reliability (based on your comment about “fact or fiction”).  That book (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist), starting in chapter 9 talks about biblical reliability, especially of the New Testament.  Check it out if you haven’t already.

Keep seeking and you will find Him!

Why Do Christian Missionaries “Push Their Religion” on the Poor?

As I’ve had the opportunity to work and interact closely with those from other countries (and other faith systems), there is one objection / comment that I’ve repeatedly heard when the topic of Christianity comes up.  They readily admit that Christian missionaries (primarily from either the Anglican or Catholic church) have done a lot of good, feeding a lot of hungry people, clothing and housing a lot of homeless and downtrodden people.  However, they complain that these missionaries don’t just help people, but they have to “push their religion on them”.  These churches, they say, ought to just come in and do the good deeds without making it a requirement that they hear about their religion in the process.  This seems like a very difficult objection to respond to.

God’s word tells us in 1 Peter 3

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (NKJV).

It seems like something similar to verse 16 is in play here.  They are trying to make Christians out to be “evildoers” because in the process of helping the poor, we want to share the Gospel with them.  As verse 15 says, we need to be ready to make a defense.  I must admit, I’ve not done too well on making a defense against this particular accusation.  But after hearing it recently again, I feel that it is time to take this on as a serious objection that must be answered.

It seems like those in other countries feel like Christians are coming in shoving our religion down their throats and using the food and shelter almost like a bribe so that these captive audiences will be forced to listen to the message if they want the food and shelter.  I’ve heard accompanying comments like, “They already have their own religion, so you shouldn’t try to force your religion on them”.  There are a few things I think we can respond with here.

First off, our Lord Jesus, who we follow, has commanded us clearly to do exactly this.  It is at the core of “practicing our religion”, even more than feeding and housing the poor.  Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples, which we call “the great commission”, were

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20a NIV).

In one of the other gospels, it adds

Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NIV).

Notice, that He didn’t tell us to feed all nations in these final instructions.  Yes, He did tell us in other places to feed, clothe and otherwise help the poor and needy (e.g. Matt. 25:31-46), but those admonitions were not included in His final instructions to His disciples.  In fact, Jesus acknowledged at another point that we would always have the poor with us (Matt. 26:11).  However, Jesus communicated a strong warning that

Whoever believes in him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18 NIV).

Jesus is here warning, that the primary issue is not food, clothing or shelter, but the eternal state of these souls, outside of a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, what really strikes me about this objection is the presupposition implicit in it. On the face of it, this objection presupposes that Christianity is not true!  If Christianity, as presented in the Bible, is in fact true, then there really is no more important issue than making sure people hear the good news about how to have their sins forgiven and escape the sentence of quarantine, being cast away from the presence of the Lord (in hell).  This quote from C.S. Lewis summarizes the point well:

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

When the objector says, “They already have their own religion, so you shouldn’t try to force your religion on them”, they are implicitly saying that Christianity is not true and that the words of Jesus are not true.  For example, Jesus says:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

“There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” (John 12:48 NIV)

“I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved” (John 10:9a NIV)

“The Son of Man [Jesus] has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (Mark 2:10 NIV)

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt. 28:18 NIV)

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son [Jesus], that your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:1b-3 NIV)

Jesus is claiming to be the ultimately important thing in this life.  This is a central teaching of Christianity.  Anyone who wants to make the feeding and housing of poor the central issue, rather than the outrageous claims of Jesus, is actually pushing a religious view on you.  They are making an interpretation regarding what the most important thing is that a Christian can do.  They are attempting to give you a lesson on Christian living.  They are picking and choosing the parts of the Bible that they find most attractive and acceptable and avoiding the parts that they don’t like.

So, I think we need to gently push back on people who make this objection.  We need to get them to consider whether Christianity is true and as Lewis says, if it is true, it is of infinite importance, but if it is false, it is of no importance at all.  I doubt that most people who make this objection have ever earnestly and honestly evaluated the evidence to see whether Christianity really is true (beyond a reasonable doubt).  If we make a defense, as Peter says, maybe they’ll go on this journey with us and find out that it really is true beyond a reasonable doubt and worth seriously considering….

mid-week apologetics booster (4-28-2016)

Good morning all,

Hope you’re having a great week.  Last night we wound up with the last “regular” night of AWANA.  There was an ice cream party and a lot of gifts, cards and celebration happening.  I felt extremely blessed to have a very deep conversation with a 4th grade girl during book time on the topic of (again) “Who made God?”  She came up with that question as she was reciting John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.  I asked her if she knew what “the Word” means.  She didn’t.  So, I explained that “the Word” refers to Jesus, who is God and has always existed.  She had a hard time understanding how Jesus could be both with God and also be God.  I explained the concept of the Trinity (one God, three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to her (she said Trinity was her middle name🙂 ).  Once she understood the idea that Jesus existed before He was born in Bethlehem, then she started to ponder the question, “Who made God?”  It is amazing how prevalent that question is at that age.  If you work with kids that age, you should definitely be prepared to answer that.  I believe this is the 4th time I’ve heard that question from a 4th grader🙂  She just couldn’t understand how God could’ve always existed.  She kept saying “I’m so confused!”.  I don’t think she was distressed, but rather amazed – blown away by the concept. I reinforced the concept that only that which begins to exist needs a cause.  God never began to exist.  He is outside time, which is very hard for us to imagine, since we are stuck in time.  But something must’ve always existed (either the universe or whatever caused the universe).  The Bible tells us that God knows the end from the beginning – He is able to see everything at once, but we can only see what is happening now and think back to the past.  I asked her to imagine a line going infinitely far to the left and to the right, with no end on either side.  She just said it was hard to understand.  We ended up agreeing that the God who made the universe and everything in it would be hard for us humans to fully understand, but He’s given us everything we need to understand about Him in His word.  She agreed.  Several times throughout the night as I saw her, I kept asking her “Who made God?” and she gave the right answer – no one did – He just always existed.  I told her how I was so glad that she was thinking about these things.  Also, during that book time, as we were talking about another verse, the topic of sin came up and we talked about how, in heaven, there will be no need for policemen or locks on doors.  She asked me, “What if you have a bad (sinful) thought in heaven?”.  I assured her that when we’re in heaven, we will not have such desires – our sinful nature will be gone and there will be nothing evil there to tempt us.  She was a little concerned to hear that there will be no policemen in heaven, because I later found out that her Dad is a policeman!  I assured her that policemen can go to heaven if they believe in Jesus, it’s just that there will be no need for them to do their job of arresting people, because no one will be doing anything wrong there!  Overall, it was a great conversation – one of those mountain top experiences in my opinion.

Now, on to the links:

  1. What does it mean for salvation to be a gift from God? http://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-gift.html
  2. Don’t Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason to Believe It’s True: http://crossexamined.org/dont-expect-your-kids-to-care-what-the-bible-says-unless-youve-given-them-reason-to-believe-its-true/
  3. Bill Nye Epitomizes The Left’s Authority Complex: http://thefederalist.com/2016/04/19/bill-nye-epitomizes-the-lefts-authority-complex/
  4. If Christianity Were True, Would You Become A Christian? http://thereforegodexists.com/christianity-true-become-christian/
  5. A Rape Survivor Speaks Out About Transgender Bathrooms – There’s no way to make everyone happy about transgender bathrooms and locker rooms. So the priority ought to be finding a way to keep everyone safe: http://thefederalist.com/2015/11/23/a-rape-survivor-speaks-out-about-transgender-bathrooms/
  6. “I Came to Faith Through Apologetics” | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/i-came-to-faith-through-apologetics/
  7. Students Don’t Have to Be Intimidated by Evolution: http://www.str.org/articles/students-don%E2%80%99t-have-to-be-intimidated-by-evolution
  8. The Divinely Unifying Message of the Bible (Cold Case Christianity podcast): http://pleaseconvinceme.libsyn.com/the-divinely-unifying-message-of-the-bible
  9. The Cicada Challenge to Darwinian Evolution: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/04/the_cicada_chal102800.html
  10. Why some people lose faith: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2016/04/why-some-people-lose-faith.html
  11. Christian Mom Thoughts – Most Popular Posts: http://christianmomthoughts.com/most-popular-posts/

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” – Proverbs 9:10-12

mid-week apologetics booster (4-21-2016)

Good morning all,

Good to be back with my family and my local church family – it was great to see the clubbers and leaders again at AWANA last night.  Many of my precious 4th grade kids are learning about the rapture in their AWANA sections, so it was great to talk through that and explain what things like the rapture, the great tribulation and the 1000 year reign of Christ are all about.  The AWANA books had them learning about those, so it was very natural.  Most my six 4th graders had to memorize this passage:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Then the AWANA book goes on to have them do a “brain check”, which involved writing down facts about the rapture, and other related end-times topics.  However these topics were scary for at least one my clubbers, a 4th grade girl, who is afraid that her Jewish friend will have to go through the great tribulation because she doesn’t believe in Jesus.  The clubber says she’s shared her faith with the Jewish girl and the Jewish girl responded that it is too hard to believe.  She said that her main problem was with the resurrection of Jesus – I think that came up during Easter.  This tells me that apologetics is starting to even be important at this age as well – even as early as 4th grade.  Of course I shared with her that the resurrection of Jesus makes the best sense out of the facts we have about Jesus – that He died on the cross and that later He was seen by more than 500 people.  That many people don’t have hallucinations at the same time!  She readily agreed…  Of course I will be praying for her and her Jewish friend.  It’s not our job to convert people, that’s God’s job, but it’s our job to be faithful witnesses and that’s what she did, so I praise God for that!

Now, on to the links – not many this week as I’ve been busy, just coming back from Australia:

  1. Bad news, atheists. Federal Court rules ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ not a real religion: http://canadafreepress.com/article/bad-news-atheists.-federal-court-rules-flying-spaghetti-monster-not-a-real
  2. How I’m Teaching My 6-Year-Olds To Be Critical Thinkers: http://christianmomthoughts.com/how-im-teaching-my-6-year-olds-to-be-critical-thinkers/
  3. Are we saved by grace or works? | Saved by grace: https://carm.org/grace-or-works
  4. Christian Faith Under (Im)Moral Attack: “You’re Homophobic!” | Thinking Christian: https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2016/04/christian-faith-immoral-attack-youre-homophobic/
  5. Who is the Dalai Lama? http://www.gotquestions.org/Dalai-Lama.html
  6. Has our universe been designed? https://coffeehousequestions.com/2016/04/18/has-our-universe-been-designed/
  7. Was Ancient Man’s Belief in Miracles Simply Naivety? http://www.dyerthoughts.com/home/was-ancient-mans-belief-in-miracles-simply-naivety
  8. Christian Apologetics – Practical Reasons to Study: https://jkw00d.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/christian-apologetics-practical-reasons-to-study/
  9. Three Reasons Why Jesus is Qualified to be called the “Messiah”: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/three-reasons-why-jesus-is-qualified-to-be-called-the-messiah-2/
  10. Why Were Some Books Left Out of the Bible? http://www.thegoodbookblog.com/2016/apr/19/why-were-some-books-left-out-of-the-bible/

Now, as a bonus, put your thinking caps on and think how you would respond to the following.  Someone who I’d previously shared Christ with, recently raised the following objection.  He would call himself an agnostic, but he seems to be seeking within the last year or so…  I will be responding with my own response today, but I would like you to give some thought on how you would respond.  Here is his objection:

So I have a question: God is considered all knowing, yet he leaves us with choices to follow him or not.  If he’s all knowing, what’s the point of choices?  He already knows the outcome which makes that entire base of logic useless.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for God to just be a supremely intelligent deity locked in a war rather than an all knowing one?  To clarify the locked in a war part, he means “Locked in a war vs. Satan.”  He would have seen Satan turn on him if he were all knowing, instead he either made a choice to allow it because he knew the outcome and sacrificed future souls due to that choice or he didn’t see it coming and he now maintains an alleged upper hand at the end if we are to believe the Bible.

I ask these questions because I think this whole thing is less about if God is real and more about who he really is and what we have about who he really is and what we have ab out him is fact and fiction.

It may be a little unclear, but I think the main point is clear enough to answer and maybe ask some clarifying questions.  How would you respond?

Have a great week!

My Trip to Australia

I was required to travel from Phoenix, Arizona to Sydney, Australia for work this April.  I was working on a large project and they needed support on site for the go live.  Although, in some ways, I looked forward to the trip, there was a steep personal cost.  Not only was I to be away from my lovely wife for 2 weeks (I couldn’t convince her to come with me), but I was going to be away from my local church for 2 weeks.  This meant would I miss 2 weeks of:

  1. Sunday Worship with my brothers and sisters at my local church
  2. Teaching the Sunday morning apologetics class
  3. Tuesday men’s Bible study at Mimi’s Café with about 20 other guys
  4. Wednesday night AWANA, where I’m one of the leaders. I have six 4th grade clubbers who I dearly miss:
    1. Cole
    2. Grady
    3. John
    4. Elianna
    5. Kourtney
    6. Chariot
  5. Thursday night men’s Bible study with 6 brothers from my local church. When I’m not there, no music is played, so I know they’ll be missing that, but I certainly have missed them and their fellowship.  We really go deep with each other and hold each other accountable.
  6. Daily walks at work with the one Christian Brother I have at work. On those walks, we normally talk apologetics and do role playing with large lists of objections to the Christian faith – I really miss him and those daily walks on work days.
  7. Feeding the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul (2nd Saturday of the month) – I will miss Rosanne (the volunteer leader) as well as all the other volunteers. I will also miss the opportunity to serve those less fortunate in the name of Christ, while being confronted with the fact of homelessness and hunger.

But, I really had no option to say no to this work trip.  Many would think I was crazy for even wanting to say no – its Australia!  While this was not going to be a pleasure trip, I hoped that at least I would have some time off during the trip for sight-seeing.  The flight to Australia was 15 hours and 20 minutes long (from Los Angeles to Sydney).  I was dreading that long flight.  I’d requested an aisle seat and when I boarded the plane and got to my seat, I saw that there was a couple sitting in the same row – 3 seats and they occupied 2 and me in the other one.  They were a very pleasant couple.  I did find out they were Christian.  After small talk was over, I started reading the book “Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith” by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler.  The husband of the couple noticed the book and made mention of it, so I asked him if he was a Christian and he said yes, so we talked about our mutually shared faith, which was great.  As the flight went on, I realized that this was going to be very uncomfortable for 15 hours, because the seating was very cramped.  This flight attendant I think noticed my situation and mentioned to me, “Hey, there’s an open seat in row 30 where you’d be the only person in the row – you’re free to take it if you’d like”.  Well, I’ve got to tell you, that was God taking care of me through her!  I quickly took her up on the offer.  The husband of the couple had already fallen asleep and I said a quiet good bye to the wife as I moved my belongings back to row 30.  Wow, it was great – I could stretch out my feet, I had room to store my stuff.  This row only had 2 seats in it, but the row ahead had 3 seats, so I had plenty of leg room.  Plus, since the row was kind of “indented”, I wouldn’t get my elbow bumped by people or carts going by.  It really made this long flight tolerable.  This was also the type of airplane that had plugs in the back of the seat in front of you which meant that I could plug in my phone and play audio or video on it without fear of running out of battery.  So, I did a lot of reading and listening to various sermons and podcasts.  It was a great time of feeding as I made use of the time rather than wasting it away.  I did have sleep too – I think I got about 5 hours – in and out. As we got close to Sydney, I started to look out the window to see if I could see land.  I was finally able to see the first glimpses of Australia from the plane:

Australia From Plan

I knew it wouldn’t be long and we’d be landing.  I was full of hope, joy and thankfulness that I’d survived through that long flight.  I told that flight attendant several times during the flight how grateful I was to her for giving me the opportunity to sit here, how it really made my flight experience a pleasure.

Once landing in Sydney, I was able to quickly get my luggage (praise God) and it was very painless getting through customs.  Getting out to the curb it was a little difficult to find where the taxis were, but I finally found them and there was a big line, which I waited in and finally after the guy assigning people to taxis had an argument with a taxi driver who I was to go with🙂, I was able to get into the taxi and make the 45 minute trip to North Ryde where my hotel was.  I was staying at the Courtyard Marriott in North Ryde, which was in walking distance to my work as well as a church that I’d found online – North Ryde Christian Church.  I arrived at my hotel at about 9AM Saturday morning (I’d left Phoenix 7PM Thursday evening).  Whew!  What I really needed was a room and a nice hot shower.  My plan was to go down to the Sydney Harbor area and stay moving all day long, just sightseeing.  Was I in for a rude awakening…  As I was waiting for my room to be prepared in the hotel lobby, I checked my work email ( first mistake🙂 ) and saw that they actually wanted me to attend a 9:30AM meeting at the office.  Well, I emailed back and told them I just landed and needed to get to my room, take a shower and then I would be able to come.  So, after showering and unpacking, I used my pre-printed walking directions to the office and walked over there.  It turned out that I worked a full day – I think I left the office at 7PM that day!  Well, so much for sightseeing.  But it was the go live weekend and there were rather urgent tasks we as a project team had to do.  However, it was a surprise to me that there were still that many things left to do that close to go live.  In any case, I made it clear that I would be going to church tomorrow, so no one even asked me to go into work on Sunday, although several of them would be working on Sunday.  On Saturday, I went out to lunch at a Malaysian restaurant with several of the guys from China who’d traveled to Sydney for the go live as well.  During the lunch, I mentioned that I’d be going to church tomorrow.  One commented that China is communist and “we don’t believe in God” – he kind of chuckled.  Another guy said “I’ve never been to church”, so I invited him to come with me, but he declined the offer – I made it clear to everyone that they could come with me tomorrow, but no one took me up on the offer.

So, Sunday morning I got up and ate breakfast at the hotel.  I knew from the web search that church started at 9:30 am and it was a 23 minute walk, so I targeted that I wanted to leave the hotel at 9:00.  But, interestingly enough, I’d forgot to pack white socks for the trip, so I figured I would take the time I had to go to a local Target store and buy some socks – that as quite an adventure in and of itself, but bottom line, I ended up buying 6 pairs of white socks – enough to get me through the trip.  I also needed to stop at an ATM and withdraw some cash so that I would have money to give at church.  I figured out what I normally give at home and translated that via the exchange rate and took out the necessary amount of money at the ATM – it worked out well.  I arrived at the church at 9:25 – perfect timing!  I took several pictures along the way.  The first one here is actually a cool looking tree that was out in front of the church.  You can see the church sign on the right side of the photo:

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Here are a couple of cool trees I saw on the way to church walking there:

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The worship service was great.  Everyone was real friendly.  Since it was a very small church, I stood out like a sore thumb :)  I think I just about talked to everyone in attendance either before or after the service.  This is definitely a Spirit filled, Jesus loving church.  The speaker spoke on the topic of “What’s Jesus Like?”.  It was a great topic.  He’s documented to contents of this talk here: https://georgesjournal.net/2016/04/04/whats-jesus-like/.  The church does not employ any pastors, so each week, there is a different speaker – I believe normally an elder or possibly a missionary report.  There is a lot I could report about the church and its differences to ours in Phoenix and I really found it to be a great experience, I would definitely return there.  One couple in particular I met there invited me back to their house for lunch and gave me lots of wonderful advice on what was a best plan for sightseeing the rest of the day.  With their help, I decided to take a ferry to Manly, which would allow me to see a bit of the downtown area (Circular Quay) and the harbor, the bridge, the opera house as well as the great little town of manly including the beach!  I could not believe that this couple actually provided me with an OPAL card (with money on it), which is needed to take the trains and ferry.  But, more than that, they even dropped me off down at Circular Quay and told me exactly where to go to catch the ferry!  Unbelievable!  Well, it was a wonderful day.  Here is a picture I took while waiting for the ferry arrive from the wharf:

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As you can see, the opera house is on the right and the harbor bridge is on the left.  The ferry is the smaller ship coming into the harbor in the middle of the picture.  It was an absolutely beautiful day – about 70° – 75° F, which is perfect!  As we left the harbor, I was able to get great pictures of the opera house as we cruised by it:

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So, the ferry made its way over to Manly, which is out at the edge of the harbor.  I don’t think it is technically an island, but it certainly has the feel of an island.  The ferry landed at a wharf and after getting my bearings straight according to the map my new friends printed for me, I decided to head for the beach.  It is a very small town and you can very quickly walk from the place where the ferry lands, through the little town and over to the beach.  The little town is somewhat reminiscent of Coronado Island in San Diego (minus the infamous Hotel del Coronado of course) in that it is small enough to walk across, and one side, there is a harbor and the other side a beach, with a lot of quaint little shops in between and a very safe feeling place.  So, I spent several hours there – out by the beach, took off my shoes and walked in the sand and the water, up and down the beach for quite a while.

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After getting hungry, I got off the sand and put my shoes and socks back on to go across the street to eat.  I found a little open air Mexican place called Mex & Co, where I had some fajitas:

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Around that time, one of the poor guys that was still at work that day contacted me on WeChat (I’d installed that while back in America, being advised that it was a good way to text with the Chinese guys). And luckily Manly has city Wi-Fi, so, I didn’t have to use any of my data to answer.  I was able to answer a question that got him out of a jam – he was happy for that.  After eating and answering his question, I took the walking path to the right of the beach to walk along the rocky part of the coast line:

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After quite a long while walking along there, the sun was starting to get lower, so I thought it was a good idea to start getting back.  I didn’t want to get back too late…  So, I made my way back to the center of town, stopping to have a banana split on the way :)  After that, I made my way over to the ferry waiting place and boarded the ferry to get back to Sydney.  This time I went to the open air in the front of the ship.  As we were heading back to Sydney harbor, there were stunning pictures of the sunset behind the harbor bridge:

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Excellent day – now it was dark and I was in an unfamiliar city knowing that I was at Circular Quay and needed to get back to MacQuarie Park, thanks to a note from my friends.  In hindsight, I should’ve downloaded an app for trains.  A few people and workers were able to help guide me to the correct trains / platforms.  After 3 train / platform changes, I finally made it back to my stop and took the 2 block walk back to my hotel – I think I as back in the room by 8PM.  Great day.  I would need it because the rest of the week was to be very rough indeed.

Monday morning I walked to the office.  One thing I noticed is that there are a lot of cool birds in Sydney and surprisingly, 2 of the most common birds are Cockatoos and Lorikeets.  The Lorikeets were much too small and fast to get a picture of unfortunately, but I was able to get several pictures of the cockatoos:

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There were also a few other assorted birds that seemed quite different than Arizona birds to me, for example, Ibis:

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And these other birds that I saw almost every day on the way to work:

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The first 2 days of the week were rough.  On both of those days, I worked until at least 10PM.  Subsequent evenings, I was able to get out by 8PM and 7PM, which seemed like I got off easy :)  Fortunately, the US team was able to pick up the slack during our daytime, so we would just hand off to them.  Then, as the week wound down to a close, I started to feel myself getting sick.  Because of that, unfortunately, tourism was not a viable option on the weekend.  I had to just hang around the hotel and try to get better.  Since I had my friend’s OPAL card (and you shouldn’t throw those out, because they’re refillable) I felt that I needed to get the card back to them.  So, I did go to church again although I was sick.  Again, the people were happy to see me back and I was happy to see them.  If there was anyone I hadn’t spoken to in the whole church, I probably spoke to them this time when I went.  There was a family, who last weekend had invited me out to lunch, and since I wasn’t able to go, I took them up on their offer this time (even though I wasn’t really hungry).  We went to a shopping mall where I was able to purchase medicine at a pharmacy, which would hopefully help manage my symptoms.  After a meal at a Chinese restaurant (for which they insisted on paying), they dropped me back off at the hotel.  Both weekends my interaction with the church was a great opportunity for fellowship and getting to know brothers and sisters in Christ half way around the world🙂  After that, I pretty much just rested the rest of the day and tried to prepare myself for Monday of work.  Unfortunately, my health just kept going downhill.  It got to a point Monday afternoon, that I left early and worked the rest of the day from the hotel room. Tuesday, I worked all day from the hotel room.  Tuesday evening, the coughing was so bad in the middle of the night that I determined in the morning I was going to find a doctor and make sure I didn’t have pneumonia.  So, when I got up, I started to research doctors.  I found one a few blocks away, within walking distance and went – cost was $50 AUD, but the doctor confirmed that I didn’t have pneumonia, which was good – rather, I was diagnosed with Acute Bronchitis and given a “script” for antibiotics and told that I was “unfit for work” for 2 days.  So, I just stayed in the hotel for Wednesday and Thursday, eating room service food (not too great by the way).  Finally, I emerged “alive” from the tomb of my room🙂 Friday morning with plans to go to work.  I went into work and everyone was really concerned about me – apparently the word spread far and wide because even friends from back in the states were contacting me and asking if I was ok.  I still had a cough, but it’d definitely gotten better.

It was great getting to know the people in the office who are using the software I helped to write.  I’ve had roll-outs of this tool suite in North America, Europe and now Australia and this was the place where I got to interact closest with the end users of my software.  There was one user in particular, who happened to also be staying at my same hotel.  She was from out of the country as well (not the US).  I saw her while eating breakfast one day and she was wearing a cross.  I asked her about the cross, whether she was Christian – she said she was catholic (and she lives in a majority Muslim country).  We talked a little about church stuff when I first saw that cross and asked her about it.  But on the Friday morning (my last business day in Australia), I saw her again at breakfast and again, as we ate breakfast, we started to talk about faith.  I asked her where she thought she was going to go when she died.  She said she didn’t know.  I asked her why…  She said, well, I think I’m a good person, and I’m really trying hard.  I asked her why she said she was unsure, because I reminded her of Jesus’ words – “Whoever hears My words and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned – he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24).  She said the reason she was unsure if she’d go to heaven is because she may have to go to purgatory.  I reminded her, that one of the last things Jesus said while He was on the cross was “It is finished!”  That meant that all the sins of those who would believe in Him are paid for – no further payment is needed.  She said, well that is what the catholic church teaches.  I gently said, yes, but that teaching is not found in the Bible.  I think you ought to base your thoughts about what will happen when you die based on God’s word, not on man’s word.  I then showed her a passage on my phone and had her read it – it was Ephesians 2:4-9, which says:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions –it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.”.

She acted like that was all new information to her.  I asked her if she knew what the biblical word grace meant.  She didn’t.  So I went on to explain that it is unmerited favor from God.  You can’t earn your salvation by doing good or being a good person – you could never be good enough anyway.  She then asked me doesn’t God want us to be good – doesn’t He want us to obey.  I said yes, but this does not contribute to your salvation – salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone – look at Ephesians 2:9 – it says “not of works, so that no one can boast”.  She seemed like a light bulb went off and she actually started crying.  I then prayed for her that she would understand the message of grace that salvation is a free gift from God that cannot be earned, but must be received by faith.  Again, she cried, she felt like I was an angel, a messenger that God sent to tell her what I told her.  I encouraged her that if she trusts in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, that He paid for her sins on the cross and rose from the dead, God would indeed save her and bring her to heaven one day.  She thanked me for that.  Later in the day, I also sent a followup email to her and included this passage, Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

That conversation just made my day and my whole trip worth it!  So, Friday, I left the office at 4PM because I had to go back and pack and make arrangements for a trip to the airport as well.

I hoped to visit this national park that was in close walking distance to the hotel, so I did go and visit that before my driver arrived at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning.  Here are some pictures:

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And finally, the last trip to the 7-11 for the breakfast of champions!

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Then, finally, another grueling long flight back to home.  I’m so glad to be back.  Even though I got sick and I only got in one day of sightseeing and missed my wife and family and church, I still think the trip was worth it – if nothing else, for:

  • Meeting the group at North Ryde Christian Church and getting to know them
  • Meeting all the users of the software I created
  • Talking about the free gift of salvation with someone who didn’t really understand it
  • I also was able to memorize several verses while in Australia:
    • Psalms 116:15
    • Proverbs 14:2
    • Proverbs 15:28a
    • Deuteronomy 8:17-18a
    • 1 Peter 4:1-5
  • And all the cool birds I saw…

Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to go back to Australia on a pleasure trip – it seems like a real nice place with great people.  I felt really safe the whole time I was there.  In fact, I cannot remember seeing even one policeman the whole time I was there.  So, overall, I’m happy I went – it was an experience that I will not forget – I and I’m quite sure I’ll see several of the people I met in Australia in heaven one day.  Meanwhile I’m encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul to Titus:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldy passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Titus 2:11-13