mid-week apologetics booster (10-12-2017)

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. Radical Christian – creation.com: https://creation.com/radical-christian
  2. Roman Catholicism, comparing Mary to God | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: https://carm.org/roman-catholicism-mary-compare-god
  3. Can We Construct The Entire New Testament From the Writings of the Church Fathers? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/can-we-construct-the-entire-new-testament-from-the-writings-of-the-church-fathers/
  4. Why I Am Not Roman Catholic Discover: https://cccdiscover.com/why-i-am-not-roman-catholic/
  5. Why We Must Teach Kids Apologetics or Risk Losing Them ~ RELEVANT CHILDREN’S MINISTRY: http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2016/10/why-we-must-teach-kids-apologetics-or.html
  6. Giraffes: Towering Testimonies to Gods Design | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/mammals/giraffes-towering-testimonies-to-gods-design/
  7. 3 Wise Rules For Social Media From Martin Luther: http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/06/3-wise-rules-social-media-martin-luther/
  8. The Essential Truths Of Jesus In The Nicene Creed | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/the-essential-truths-of-jesus-in-the-nicene-creed/
  9. William Lane Craig: The Church is lagging dangerously behind: http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2017/06/william-lane-craig-the-church-is-lagging-dangerously-behind.html
  10. Echidna Outback Oddity – Evolution is hard-pressed to explain this prickly little digger. That’s because the Creator made it like no other single animal | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/mammals/echidna-outback-oddity/
  11. So Will I (100 Billion X) – Beautify video about the creation created by our Creator – Lyric Video on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/232562877
  12. What’s Wrong with The God of the Gaps Argument THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/whats-wrong-with-the-god-of-the-gaps-argument-2/
  13. Ben Shapiro interviews ex-atheist Dr. Edward Feser on his book 5 proofs of the existence of God (17 minute video): https://www.facebook.com/203805062990264/videos/1557821460921944/
  14. Is it Contradictory to Believe Jesus is God and Man? – Biblical Worldview Academy: http://biblicalworldviewacademy.org/is-it-contradictory-to-believe-jesus-is-god-and-man/
  15. Defending Your Faith 101: The importance of understanding modern times as a Christian Truth, Faith and Reason: http://truthfaithandreason.com/defending-your-faith-101-the-importance-of-understanding-modern-times-as-a-christian/
  16. Why Aren’t People Convinced by Facts? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/worldview/why-arent-people-convinced-by-facts/
  17. The Real Reason We Don’t Read Our Bibles: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/real-reason-we-dont-read-our-bibles
  18. Interview With A Former Skeptic: 3 Important Lessons: http://crossexamined.org/interview-with-a-former-skeptic-3-important-lessons/
  19. No More Excuses: 7 Reasons Your Entire Church Needs Apologetics – Awana YM: https://awanaym.org/blog/no-more-excuses-7-reasons-your-entire-church-needs-apologetics
  20. Is Mormonism Christian? – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijUc7NI2O28&feature=youtu.be
  21. Hidden truths behind Mormonism and the Church of the Latter Day Saints (James R White) – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1BLR4rufYA&feature=youtu.be
  22. A Simple Reason Why The Quran Cannot Be The Word of God – Cross Examined: http://crossexamined.org/simple-reason-quran-word-god/
  23. Will God Send Me to Hell Just Because I Don’t Believe In Jesus: https://castbox.fm/episode/Will-God-Send-Me-to-Hell-Just-Because-I-Don’t-Believe-In-Jesus-id51673-id4940685?country=us
  24. What happens to those who have never heard about Jesus?: https://www.gotquestions.org/never-heard.html
  25. What Makes for an Authentic Christian? – Discipleship: http://www.jesus.org/following-jesus/discipleship/what-makes-for-an-authentic-christian.html
  26. The Mormon Veneer: http://probe.org/the-mormon-veneer/
  27. Overachieving September Arctic Ice | Science Matters: https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/overachieving-september-arctic-ice/
  28. A Fifteen Point Christian Response to Richard Carrier Christian Apologist: https://christianapologistweb.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/a-fifteen-point-christian-response-to-richard-carrier/amp/
  29. What Do the Fossils Say? | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/fossils/fossil-record/what-do-fossils-say/
  30. Nabeel Qureshi, Muhammad, and Aisha – YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26GsSRsz8Q8
  31. Wikipedia Erases Paleontologist Gnter Bechly | Evolution News: https://evolutionnews.org/2017/10/wikipedia-erases-paleontologist-gunter-bechly/
  32. If God created Satan, does evil and sin come from God? Coffeehouse Questions: https://coffeehousequestions.com/2017/10/10/if-god-created-satan-does-evil-and-sin-come-from-god/amp/

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20

Blessings to you all

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AWANA Hike Night – Significance of Mountains in the Gospels

This past Wednesday was “hike night” at AWANA.  We do this once a year, normally in the spring.  Our Church is blessed to have a 14 acre property with 2 small mountains (really foothills) behind it.  The views from up there are really spectacular.  Here is the mountain we hiked up:


Here is the same foothill from the street-view:

From there, we could see all the mountains in our city (Ahwatukee):

After we got to the top of the mountain and looked around, we gathered all the 3rd to 6th grade clubbers around to pray.  I told them how Jesus hiked.  At least He must’ve since the Bible talks frequently about Him going up mountains to pray by Himself, to teach or to heal the multitudes, or to teach His disciples and to be transfigured before them.  He appointed His 12 disciples on a mountain (Mark 13:13-15).  He was even arrested at the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:47-57).  In fact the Mount of Olives is very significant in the whole Bible (it is found by name 14 times – most in the Gospels).  The first reference to it by name is in 2 Samuel 15:30, when David was fleeing from Absalom and the Bible says that the Messiah (Jesus) will return to this world again at the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).  At the end of Jesus’ life, He left this world after giving His disciples the great commission from a mountain (Matthew 28:16-20)   Here are the verses in the Gospels where Jesus is described as being on mountains:

Matthew 5:1-2
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying

Matthew 14:23
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone

Matthew 15:29-30
Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

Matthew 17:1-2
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

Matthew 24:3
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 26:30
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said

Mark 3:13-15
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve–designating them apostles –that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

Mark 6:46
After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Luke 6:12
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Luke 21:37
Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives

Luke 22:39
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him

John 6:3-5
Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?

John 6:15
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

John 8:1-2
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them

So many significant events happened on mountains in the Bible.  Moses received the 10 commandments on a mountain.  God showed him the Promised Land from a mountain.  Elijah had his show-down with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.

We are blessed to live in a village that has mountains we can climb. I’ve even talked our men’s Bible study into having our study next Thursday at the top of the same mountain where the AWANA club hiked to!  We’re going to bring fold-up chairs and when it becomes dark, we will use our smart phone flash lights to read. During our study, I plan to start by reviewing these passages about mountains in the Bible.  It ought to be a great time of communion and fellowship with each other and with our Lord!

AWANA Game on Miracles 4/12/2017

Last Wednesday at AWANA, we’d planned to show a short video on evidence for the resurrection:

However, minutes before showing the video, we were concerned that, as a mixed group from 3rd to 6th grade, there may actually be some clubbers who still believed in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, so, since this was a central theme in the video (Jesus is not a fairy tale like Santa), we had to decide to not show the video.  I was very disappointed, because it was a great video with a great message at the right time.

So, we had to improvise.  Fortunately, I had a presentation stored on the computer in our room that I’d given several years ago and could reuse.  It was a game on guessing the miracle by looking at a painting / artist’s rendering of the miracle.  It was a fun time for the clubbers and the rewards for the points were given in candy 🙂  In case you would like to do the same thing with your children, here is the PowerPoint.  Here they are:

 

mid-week apologetics booster (4-6-2017)

Hello Friends,

Last night I had the awesome opportunity to speak into the lives of 3rd to 6th grade AWANA clubbers by teaching them the word of God, which I’ve been doing once a month this year.  The Bible says “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17b). Earlier in the same passage, Paul says “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14).  Also, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21)

I was overjoyed to be that “foolish preacher” last night.  The topic was Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”.  I’d planned the message for 5th and 6th graders, but we decided on the spot to bring the whole club into the same room and deliver the message to all of them.  The Gospel was preached.  If you would like to see the contents of the message (slides, speaking notes and a self-examination questionnaire), you can take a look at that on my blog.

Here are your weekly links:

  1. 12 Reasons Millennials are OVER Church. I’ve included this link, not for apologetics value, but for the perspective of a millennial on why millennials are largely absent from the church.  In my opinion, I think he gets some things right and some things wrong.  If I get time, I would like to write a blog giving my comments on these 12 Reasons.  Make sure and read the comments at the bottom of the article too: http://www.recklesslyalive.com/12-reasons-millennials-are-over-church/
  2. Faith and Lifestyle of Born Again Christians Evaluated in Extensive National Survey | American Culture and Faith Institute.  One interesting stat from this article was “only 30% of born again adults have a biblical worldview”: https://www.culturefaith.com/faith-and-lifestyle-of-born-again-christians-evaluated-in-extensive-national-survey/
  3. Biblical Creation Confirmed [Podcast] | The Institute for Creation Research: http://www.icr.org/article/biblical-creation-confirmed-podcast
  4. Watch “Creation in the 21st Century Creation and Mathematics” on YouTube – this is really interesting.  It talks about how our current human population only makes sense in light of a young earth view: https://youtu.be/1oFAooUFbdY
  5. Is How We Live More Important Than What We Believe? (Christian Mom Thoughts) – http://christianmomthoughts.com/is-how-we-live-more-important-than-what-we-believe-bad-secular-wisdom-series-1/
  6. How does God relate to time? http://creation.com/god-and-time
  7. Quest for Truth: Lee Strobel on The Case for Christ Movie | CBN.com – this movie opens this week: http://www1.cbn.com/movies/quest-truth-lee-strobel-case-christ-movie
  8. Dinosaurs ate birds – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/dinos-ate-birds
  9. The way it really is: little-known facts about radiometric dating – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/the-way-it-really-is-little-known-facts-about-radiometric-dating
  10. Fallacy of Composition | SES: http://ses.edu/fallacy-of-composition
  11. Christian Student Reprimanded for Disagreeing with Muslim Professor about the Resurrection – Christian News Headlines: http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/christian-student-is-reprimanded-for-disagreeing-with-muslim-professor-about-the-resurrection.html
  12. College drops charges against Christian student who challenged Muslim prof’s claims about Jesus – The College Fix: https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/31930/
  13. Did Jesus Ever Do Apologetics? – Hope’s Reason: https://www.stephenjbedard.com/2016/10/21/jesus-ever-apologetics/
  14. Two Things to Remember When Discussing Creation with Other Christians | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/articles/two-things-to-remember-when-discussion-creation-with-other-christians#.WOA9as-p7qD
  15. A Look at Jewish Messianism: A Crucified Messiah: What An Embarrassment! – THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/a-look-at-jewish-messianism-a-crucified-messiah-what-an-embarrassment-3/
  16. Microevolution versus Macroevolution: Two Mistakes | Evolution News: https://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/07/microevolution/
  17. The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem – AlbertMohler.com: http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/01/20/the-scandal-of-biblical-illiteracy-its-our-problem-4/
  18. Christian parents, your kids aren’t equipped to be public school missionaries – Matt Walsh: http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/matt-walsh-christian-parents-your-kids-arent-equipped-to-be-public-school-missionaries/
  19. A Very Brief Review of Arguments for the Existence of the Soul: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/a-very-brief-review-of-arguments-for-the-existence-of-the-soul-bible-insert/
  20. The Best Question to Ask When Starting a Conversation About God: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/the-best-question-to-ask-when-starting-a-conversation-about-god/
  21. Top 5 Reasons Most College Students Give Up their Christian Faith – Summit Ministries (at the end, this was an advertisement, but I thought it was a good article): https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/top-5-reasons-college-students-give-christian-faith/
  22. Study: Only 4 Percent of Millennials Hold a “Biblical Worldview” | The Stream: https://stream.org/study-4-percent-millennials-hold-biblical-worldview/

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.  “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.  Matthew 20:29-34

Blessings to you all!

AWANA Teaching on Romans 1:16 (4/5/2017)

Today, Lord willing, I will be teaching the AWANA 5th and 6th grade clubbers on one of their memory verses, Romans 1:16.  Below are the slides and the speaking notes (above each slide), as well as a self examination survey (Are You Ashamed of the Gospel):


Can anyone quote this verse from memory?

Someone please read it.  This is a rich verse!  There’s so much in it. Just look at all these important words in this verse!  We’re going to go through this phrase by phrase to make sure you understand it.

What does it mean to be ashamed? (wait for answers)  Ashamed means that you’re embarrassed about something or someone and you don’t want to be associated with them.

Our verse tells us that Paul is not ashamed of “The Gospel” this word appears 91 times in the New Testament, so it’s a pretty important word.  What does the word Gospel mean? (wait for answers)

The word Gospel literally means “Good News”.  Let’s read this definition together: “the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus died and rose again and offers us forgiveness of sins and eternal life if we will repent and trust Him as Savior and Lord.”  That is what Paul is not ashamed of.

The Gospel is only made possible because of what happened on Good Friday and Easter.  It is only made possible by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

If there was only Christmas (Jesus coming into the world), there would be no Gospel – no good news.  If He only came into the world, but didn’t die for our sins and rise again, we would not even know about Jesus today – and our salvation would be impossible!

This verse says the Gospel is “the power of God”. The word translated “power,” is the Greek word dunamis. That is the word from which we get “dynamite.”

What is the Gospel powerful for?  The next phrase talks about “salvation”.  For the salvation of everyone who believes.

Salvation, means to rescue, to de­liver, to set free.  Talk about picture of guy drowning…

Like the guy drowning in the water, we also need to be saved from something:

1.From the Penalty of Sin – Hell / the Wrath of God – Romans 5:9 says we are “saved from God’s wrath” through Jesus’ blood shed for us.

2.From the Power of Sin – We are no longer slaves to sin – Romans 6:14 says “for sin shall not be your master”

3.From the Presence of Sin (one day) – when we get to Heaven – Revelation 21:27 says “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful

(may want to ask if they know what sin is – talk about sins of commission [doing or thinking wrong things] and sins of omission [not doing what you know you ought to do – James 4:17])

Then it says “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”. Most of the first believers in Christ were Jews.  But the Gospel was intended for everyone. Jesus said that He was sent to the Jews (Matthew 15:24). Paul initially tried to share the Gospel with the Jews, but they opposed him, so he went on to the Gentiles (Acts 18:6). You and I are (most likely) Gentiles.

Now that we’ve gone through the verse one phrase at a time, do you have any questions? (wait for questions)

Now, before we continue, I want to make sure you know that none of what we’re talking about here applies to you if you’re not saved.  So, I have to stop here and ask you point blank – are you saved?  Only you know the answer to that question.  I would suspect that for many of you the answer is a definite yes.  The Bible says “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Now back to our verse Romans 1:16 – I’d like to focus in on the part of the verse where it says “I am not ashamed of the gospel”.  This is very important for us as Christians.  God specifically says in His word that He does not want us to be ashamed.

In fact Jesus specifically warned us not to be ashamed of Him and His words. In Luke 9:26, He says “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.  Matthew 10:32-33

The Apostle Paul also tells us in other places not to be ashamed, for example in 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul says “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God

The Apostle Peter tells us, “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name

Then of course, there’s the AWANA verse: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

So, the Bible is really clear – God does not want us to be ashamed of the Gospel – He wants us to be proud of it and to share it whenever the opportunity comes.

Now we’re going to take a little self-assessment survey.  You don’t have to turn this in and I won’t ask you your answers. It’s to get you to think about whether you’re ashamed of the Gospel.

(here is the survey that I handed out to the clubbers to have them work on it – if they have enough time, in class)

Self-examination Test: Are You Ashamed of the Gospel?

Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Question Your Answer
Do your friends and those at school know you’re a Christian?
Have you ever talked with someone about your faith?
Have you ever invited someone to church or AWANA?
In a group, if others were making fun of Christianity, would you speak up?
Are you worried about offending people?
Are you worried about pleasing people or pleasing God?
Do you care more about what people think of you than what God thinks of you?
Are you afraid that you won’t be able to answer people’s objections or questions about your faith?
Have you ever had to go against the crowd when they were all doing something wrong?  If so, when they asked you why did you mention your faith?

Finally, this is my last night of the AWANA year for teaching the 5th and 6th graders.  It has been such a pleasure teaching all of you, that I want to give you some small gifts as a token of my appreciation.

(end of presentation)


I pray that this teaching would draw any non-Christians in the group to repent and place their faith in Christ, and that it would embolden any Christians in the group to not be ashamed and to share their faith with those in their circle of influence.  Jesus said, “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 and one of the things He has commanded us (that we have to teach to the disciples we’re making), is the command to go and make disciples.  So, I’m trying to teach the believers to go and make more believers – it’s a self-replicating process – that’s how God designed it!

mid-week apologetics booster (3-30-2017)

Good morning friends,

Once again, I had the awesome privilege of serving in AWANA (3rd – 6th grade) last night.  Our Pastor had come to AWANA last week to talk about what a pastor is.  He described that pastor means shepherd and that Jesus is described in Scripture as being the Good Shepherd.  Later in the evening, one of the clubbers asked a really good question.  The question was, ‘If God is a Shepherd, then why does he allow bad people who hurt and kill others?’  It’s hard to give a quick answer to a question like that in a minute during AWANA handbook time, so we decided to show this excellent little ~2 minute video to the clubbers at the start of Counsel Time last night:

This really hit home with the clubbers!  They were able to summarize the message of the video and make additional comments on the topic.  In fact it was so popular, many of them wanted to watch it again!  But when we told them it would take away from their game time, they opted not to 🙂  It was such a blessing to see these precious young clubbers excited and interacting with this topic, thinking deeply about their faith!  We also had a great sword drill during Counsel Time, focusing on God’s faithfulness (e.g. 2 Thess. 3:3).  I pray this prayer for them:

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. ”  Numbers 6:24-26

Here are your weekly links:

  1. 5 apologetics arguments Christians should avoid: https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/5-apologetics-arguments-Christians-should-avoid
  2. Watch “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” on YouTube – this is really good – 4 ½ minutes – cartoon video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyZ1l7faKSw
  3. Spiritual Inventory Questionnaire – I ran into this while searching for some spiritual inventory questions.  It is REALLY extensive (10 pages long), but seems to be really good – note: it is a PDF file: http://www.bethanychurch.com/home/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/1_Personal-Spiritual-Inventory.pdf
  4. Sanctuary Cities in the Bible: https://historyforthechristianfaith.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/sanctuary-cities-in-the-bible/
  5. CE 5: You’re Only Christian Because You Were Born in the West – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/ce-5-youre-only-christian-because-you-were-born-in-the-west-2/
  6. Watch “Tim Keller on evangelism in the 21st century” on YouTube (first step is let ‘em know you go to church): https://youtu.be/DHQBoLo31Ns
  7. The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/world/middleeast/the-jihadi-who-turned-to-jesus.html
  8. Is Christianity Jewish?  Dr. Michael Brown:
    1. Watch “Is Christianity Jewish? w/ Dr. Michael Brown 1/2” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/kjkm6XS149s
    2. Watch “Is Christianity Jewish? w/ Dr. Michael Brown 2/2” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/cwDWnXdyV9U
  9. Was Jesus’ Death & Resurrection Copied From Krishna? | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/was-jesus-death-resurrection-copied-from-krishna/
  10. Top 10 Lies Christians Believe: http://www.unsealed.org/2016/05/top-10-lies-christians-believe.html
  11. Christianity is rejected because of dislike rather than rational reasons | Real Life Apologetics: https://reallifeapologetics.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/is-the-rejection-of-christianity-an-emotional-or-a-rational-decision/
  12. The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians | PragerU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytdMUddGe-U
  13. Tell Someone | Harvest Online Courses – free course with video teaching on evangelism sent to your inbox: https://tellsomeone.harvest.org/register/tell-someone/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paid&utm_content=harvestamerica&utm_campaign=tellsomeonecourse&hs_fb_account_id=22405970&hs_fb_campaign_id=6052164846641&hs_fb_adset_id=6053392481041&hs_fb_ad_id=6070678863441&hs_parent_creative_id=6070679192041&source
  14. C. Boycott Over Bathroom Bill Fails Magnificently: https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/03/22/this-just-in-boycott-of-n-c-over-bathroom-bill-dies-with-a-whimper/
  15. How Christianity Led to the Rise of Modern Science: http://www.equip.org/article/christianity-led-rise-modern-science/
  16. Stop Using the Term “Fetus”: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/stop-using-the-term-fetus/

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.  Galatians 1:11-12

Blessing to you all!

mid-week apologetics booster (3-16-2017)

Good morning friends,

I was reminded again last night of the importance of heeding the words of 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 3, Colossians 4:5-6 & 2 Timothy 24-26 – being ready to give an answer.  Our AWANA Truth & Training leader gave our 3rd to 6th grade clubbers a chance to ask questions about the Bible and their faith last night during counsel time.  What a great session it was.  Once we got them started, the questions were non-stop and we had to cut it off at the end due to running out of time.  Here were some of the questions asked by these young, precious ones:

  1. Who made God?  How could He just always be there?
  2. Why did God make hell?
  3. Why did God create the first people if He knew they were going to sin?
  4. Why did God put the tree in the garden if He knew they were going to eat from it?
  5. Why did God make Satan?
  6. Why doesn’t God (Jesus) come back to earth to prove to everyone that He exists?
  7. How do we know Angels and Devils exist?
  8. (the answer to the prior question prompted this one) How do we know the Bible is true?
  9. Why did God love Satan more than any other angel?
  10. Why did God make people if He knew they were going to be evil and bad like stealing things and killing?

It was a 20 minute session and, wow, were the clubbers engaged and loving it… Unfortunately, I don’t have the time (or the memory) to remember all the answers the leaders gave, but it was a great session – they asked tough questions – deep questions.  We even had one of the 4th grade clubbers answering one of the questions and she was right on target!

I pray to God that this session was meaningful for these clubbers.  It is so important that kids at this age know that they are welcome to ask questions and that it is OK to have questions and even some doubts.  And it is extremely important that we adults have done what Peter has stated (as a command for all believers) “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”.  That means you can’t be “winging it” at the time you’re asked.  That command implies that you have (already) been preparing yourself through study prior to the child asking the question.  I truly believe that the parents are the number 1 apologists in our culture.  We need to be ready when the question is asked.  Being ready can consist of having answer ready “off the top of your head” or knowing about a resource that you can get to that explains the answer.

Because this is such an important command, I continue to bombard you with these articles and videos each week.  I pray that you find something useful here, coming just at the right time!

  1. When the emotions are gone, what’s left? Engaging the mind as well as the heart is vital: http://creation.com/emotion-gone
  2. Why would a loving God allow death and suffering? – This is a very good (and very long) article that gives comprehensive, Biblically based answers to this issue – excellent!  http://creation.com/why-death-suffering
  3. The Absence Of A Papacy In Early Responses To Christianity: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-absence-of-papacy-in-early.html
  4. Indulgences – CHRISTIAN HISTORY TODAY (March 15th) – “My guess is that if Pope Leo X knew what he would set off by allowing the sales of indulgences on March 15, 1517, he’d re-think that one. The building of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican had gone way over budget (it would be almost 80 years until it would be completed) and the Pope’s financial adviser suggested the idea of buying an indulgence would help get a repentant sinner out of purgatory sooner and it was a “win-win”. Then a regional indulgences salesman stopped by the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany and ran into a priest named Martin Luther who decided he’d read about the sale of indulgences in the Bible and found no basis for it. The rest, as we like to say, was history.
  5. Questioning Jesus’ Existence: http://breakpoint.org/2017/03/questioning-jesus-existence/
  6. Staying Outside The Shack | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/reviews/movies/staying-outside-the-shack/
  7. Parents, Hollywood wants to brainwash your kids. Don’t let them: http://www.theblaze.com/podcasts/matt-walsh-parents-hollywood-wants-to-brainwash-your-kids-dont-let-them/
  8. Does James 1:5 teach about praying for a testimony? http://www.mrm.org/james-15-testimony
  9. Celebrating gender confusion: http://creation.com/celebrating-gender-confusion
  10. Convergent evolution of crocodile and dolphin skull shapes | Uncommon Descent: http://www.uncommondescent.com/news/convergent-evolution-of-crocodile-and-dolphin-skull-shapes/
  11. A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely-Tuned Cosmos (with Dr. Luke Barnes) – THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/a-fortunate-universe-life-in-a-finely-tuned-cosmos-with-dr-luke-barnes/
  12. Biblical Faith VS. Blind Faith | Crossexamined.org: http://crossexamined.org/biblical-faith-vs-blind-faith/
  13. Every American Needs Know Qur’an (Bill Federer) | Video | C-SPAN.org: https://www.c-span.org/video/?314071-10/every-american-needs-know-quran
  14. Watch “How to Listen to the Lord (Mark 4:21-34)” on YouTube (this is a John MacArthur sermon I watched on Sunday since I couldn’t go to church because I was sick): https://youtu.be/RFzGD7S-w3g
  15. DOES GOD REALLY HATE ESAU? http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/05/25/does-god-really-hate-esau/
  16. Why did the early church decide to indoctrinate a canon of New Testament books in the first place? https://www.josh.org/early-church-decide-indoctrinate-canon-new-testament-books-first-place/
  17. Will We Ever Colonize Mars? http://www.icr.org/article/9900
  18. Greg Koukl Stand to Reason podcast – at about 26:30 into the show, an atheist calls in (he calls himself the “Street Epistemologist”).  They are talking about the difference between mind and brain and whether there is a “non-physical realm”.  It is quite a long call (and very cordial, not adversarial at all): http://subspla.sh/0376859
  19. What You Can Learn From the Pilgrims (Bill Federer): http://subspla.sh/7277698
  20. Watch “Wretched: Nothing made everything.” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/sK2yNkTuJkY
  21. 3 Horrific Consequences When a Nation Rejects God — Charisma News: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/63453-3-horrific-consequences-when-a-nation-rejects-god
  22. Q&A with Sam Allberry: Same-Sex Attraction, Synod Remarks, and Why The Gospel Is Truly Good News For All | RZIM: http://rzim.org/global-blog/qa-with-sam-allberry-same-sex-attraction-synod-remarks/
  23. Planned Parenthood abortion quotas: https://m.facebook.com/video_redirect/?src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent.fphx1-2.fna.fbcdn.net%2Fv%2Ft42.1790-4%2F16616327_245823025863146_1673784158666620928_n.mp4%3Fefg%3DeyJ2ZW5jb2RlX3RhZyI6InN2ZV9zZCJ9%26oh%3D6e69f150dc01e34d1c5525689be4b732%26oe%3D58CABADF&source=misc&id=10154959592988728&refid=52&__tn__=F
  24. Here’s 5 things to say when discussing Planned Parenthood: http://www.liveactionnews.org/heres-5-things-to-say-when-discussing-planned-parenthood/
  25. Watch “Hollywood and God” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Fohrk2jt0LA
  26. Watch “Mark Spence & Shaw the atheist” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/dfsS3BB5C-I
  27. Book of Job: https://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Job.html
  28. Cannabis boosts risk of stroke and heart attack, independent of tobacco, new study finds: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/03/09/cannabis-boosts-risk-stroke-heart-attack-independent-tobacco/

Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. ” Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear ; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see ; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. “Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. “Now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God.”  2 Kings 19:14-19

Blessings to you all

AWANA Teaching on Titus 3:5

I’ve prepared my monthly teaching for the 5th and 6th grade AWANA clubbers.  This month the verse is Titus 3:5.  Below are the slides and notes I will be using to present this material this coming Wednesday evening.  My timing of this took 17 minutes.  First is the notes for talking about the slide, then the slide image:

Today, we’re going to be talking about one of your memory verses – Titus 3:5.  This is from the Ultimate T&T Challenge Book 1 (Challenge 3:6 – pg. 65)

slide1

Here is that verse – who would like to read it?  “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

slide2

Now, I’m going to read the verse in context.  “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” This passage was written by the Apostle Paul to Titus, who he calls “my true son in our common faith” (1:4).

slide3

Titus was someone that Paul left in charge of the church he’d established on the island of Crete.  You can see this on the map here.  As you can see, this is in the Mediterranean Sea, just southeast of Greece and southwest of Turkey.

slide4

I want you to notice several things about this passage.  (click) The first part of the passage describes how Paul and Titus used to be before their conversion to Christianity.  Consider verse 3 …

slide5

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” They weren’t acting very nice – they were disobedient and enslaved by passions and pleasures.   They “lived in malice and envy”.  (click) Do you know what malice is?

slide6

The New Testament dictionary describes Malice like this: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws, depravity, evil, trouble.

slide7

But then, God intervened in the situation.  It says, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us”.  So, while we were still sinning and rebelling against God, He stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ and saved us.  The Bible (click) says “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Notice that Titus 3:5 says that God saved us “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy”.  This is very important – we did not and cannot do anything to merit salvation.

slide8

Instead, we are receiving God’s mercy.  That’s the word used in Titus 3:5, and it means that we are not getting something bad that we deserve (punishment).  Mercy is kind of the opposite of grace, which is where we are getting something we don’t deserve (God’s favor).

slide9

The meaning of the word “grace” is unmerited favor from God.  Later in this passage (v.7) it says that we are “justified by His grace”.  There are many places in the Bible that talk about this concept of Grace – the word appears 156 places in the New Testament to be exact.  You need to understand that (click) this is a uniquely Christian concept.  Some people wonder what sets Christianity apart from other world religions.  Outside of Jesus, this is probably the main thing.  No other world religion has a concept of Grace or unmerited favor from God – you always have to do something to please the god of other religions.  Let’s talk about a few of them.

slide10

First, Judaism.  This is the Jewish people – they believe in what we would call the “Old Testament”.  They call it the Tanakh.  Remember, we believe much of what the Jewish people believe, because we also believe what is written in the Old Testament.  However, the Jewish people largely rejected Jesus as their Messiah.  The New Testament talks a lot about the Jews and their beliefs.  They believe that being a Jewish person (a descendant of Abraham) and adherence to the Law is what will get them into heaven.  However, the Bible says “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20)
slide11

Next, Islam.  These are Muslims.  They believe that God will weigh up your good deeds and bad deeds and if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you will go to heaven, otherwise hell.
slide12

What about Mormonism?  That’s also referred to as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” or sometimes abbreviated LDS.  They believe that good works factor into their salvation.  The book of Mormon is what they call their scriptures (which they say is “the most correct of any book on earth”). It says “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”  By the way, who can say that they have done everything they can do?  No one!  Contrast this with the Bible which says “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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

slide13

Then there’s Hinduism. Hinduism is a very diverse religion that began in India.   They have the concept of Karma and Re-incarnation, which are connected. Karma, is a system they believe in where your behavior, whether good or bad, will affect what happens to you in the future – both in this life and the life to come.  They believe that Karma affects what you are re-incarnated as.  If you’ve led a good life, you will be re-incarnated as a higher life form (click) (maybe a King), but if you’ve lived a bad life, you will be re-incarnated as a lower life form (click) (maybe a bug).  But the Bible says “Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27)

slide14

For example, Fakirs are holy men in India.  Here is a fakir sitting on a bed of nails to demonstrate his religious devotion to the gods. They believe that eventually, if you keep living a better and better life each time, you work your way up through the “caste system” to be able to escape the cycle of birth and re-birth and achieve Nirvana. Nirvana, they say, is a place of perfect peace and happiness – it is the highest state that someone can attain, a state of enlightenment, meaning a person’s individual desires and suffering go away.

slide15

Here is a Hindu devotee lying on a bed of nails, being carried by fellow devotees during a religious festival in India. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favor of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes.

slide16

Finally, Buddhism – Buddhism is based primarily on the teachings of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama – a spiritual teacher from India who lived from approximately 563BC to 483BC). Buddhism incorporates a variety of religious traditions, beliefs and practices. They believe in what is called (click) the “Eightfold Path”.  These are the “works” they have to do to achieve nirvana or the state of enlightenment.  Like Hinduism, they believe in the cycle of re-incarnation leading to nirvana, but they reject the “caste system”.

slide17

So, in summary, all of the other religions we’ve talked about, require man to work (often hard) for their salvation – to please God, but in Christianity salvation is a free gift.

slide18

Think about a gift – like a Christmas gift or a birthday gift.  Do you work for that? No.

slide19

When someone hands you a gift, do you take out your wallet and pay them for it?  Of course not.  That would be an insult!

slide20

So, religion doesn’t save you – Jesus saves you.  Religion is man reaching up to God

slide21

Christianity is God reaching down to men.

slide22

Now, I want to make sure you know that although we’re not saved by good works, that does not mean we’re not to do good works.  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” and the book of James tells us that faith without works (good deeds) is dead. (James 2:26)

slide23

Now, back to our verse. The passage goes on to talk about the results of our salvation.  It says “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.  What does justified mean? Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God.

slide24

Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous. As this graphic shows, justification is where Jesus Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, and our guilt is credited to Jesus as he was on the cross.

slide25

The verse talks about “heirs”…  What does “heirs” mean? The literal meaning of heir is “someone who has been appointed to receive an inheritance.”

slide26

An heir is a person who receives something of value from a father. The Bible sometimes uses the word heir to describe us as recipients of a gift from God

slide27

Let’s wrap this up – our verse Titus 3:5 teaches us:

  1. (click) We can do nothing to merit eternal life (salvation) from God.
  2. (click) We are saved by God’s mercy, which is not getting the punishment we deserve for our sins.
  3. (click) We are justified (made right with God) by His grace (unmerited favor), which is a uniquely Christian teaching – all the other religions we talked about require the person to do good works to be accepted by God
  4. (click) All we can do is choose to receive His salvation by faith.
  5. (click) Since we’ve received this free gift, we can and should choose to thank Him by devoting the rest of our lives to loving Him and others.

slide28

Who has questions either about our passage, what grace or mercy means or about the other religions we talked about?

slide29

Questions (with answers) for AWANA

Next Wednesday, we’re going to have a question and answer session in our 3rd – 6th grade AWANA club.   If the clubbers are not asking any questions, we can use some of the following questions as starters…  In preparation for that I’ve attempted to give some answers to these questions:

  1. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ?
    1. First of all, everyone has a knowledge of God. Since there is a creation, there must be a Creator (Romans 1:18-25, Romans 2:14-15, Psalm 19:1-3). So since everyone has knowledge of God they can’t make the excuse that they don’t know that He exists. But God also promises us in His word that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7, Hebrews 11:6, Acts 17:26-27). And that starts with the realization that God exists because of the creation that we all can see. See the case of Cornelius in Acts 10.  He knew God existed, but He didn’t know anything about Jesus, and God heard his prayer and sent Peter to him to share the Gospel about Jesus. Jesus said “anyone who comes to Me I will never drive away” (John 6:37b). So the offer is open to everyone. There are also many cases of people who receive dreams about Jesus in countries where it’s illegal to preach about Jesus (e.g. Middle East), and therefore no one would have ever known about him.  Anyone who responds to the light that they have (who seeks), will be given more…
  2. Is Christ the only way to God?
    1. What do you think Jesus said on this topic? (John 10:7-9; 27-33; 12:44-48; 14:6, Matthew 7:13-14; 24-27; 28:18-20, Mark 14:61-63). Now it’s clear that Jesus thought that He was the only way to God. So we have to ask ourselves the question: was Jesus lying? Or was he just a lunatic? If neither of those two things are true then Jesus really is who He said He was. Jesus was the most honest man and He definitely was not crazy. So the only option left to us is that Jesus was in fact the Lord of the universe that He claimed to be and the only way to God. We also need to ask ourselves, did any other religious figure claim to pay for our sins? Jesus was the only one who even claimed to be the Savior of the world paying for the sins of all who believe in Him. Buddha, Muhammed or Krishna didn’t do that, only Jesus did.
  3. Why do the innocent Suffer?
    1. First of all, biblically, there are no innocent people. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Ecclesiastes 7:20 says that there is not a righteous man on Earth who does what is right and never sins. Nevertheless we have the problem of human suffering and pain. If there’s a good God, who is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop it? Well, just because He hasn’t stopped at yet doesn’t mean that He’s not going to stop and in the future. In fact God promises in His word that one day there will be no more death, suffering, crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4). So for those who want to be part of God’s family, their suffering will end. And we must also remember that everyone dies. Whether they die at the age of 2 or 82, everyone dies. No one gets out of this life alive. The person making the charge that there can’t be a good God who’s all-powerful because evil exists – they are basically saying that they know better how to run the universe than God. But we are all limited human beings. God has all the knowledge in the universe. We only have a very small fraction of the knowledge in the universe. So how do we know that God doesn’t have good reasons for allowing evil and suffering to exist? For example, we look at Job who went through incredible suffering. Satan had asked God’s permission to harass Job, and God allowed it. He wanted to show the Job was his faithful follower and that he would remain faithful to God. There was also a time in the gospels where the disciples asked why this man was born blind. Was it because of his sin or because of his parents sinned? Jesus answered them that it was neither for his sin nor his parents sinned but that the glory of God may be manifest in this situation (John 9:1-3). Jesus also allowed Lazarus to suffer and die, so that later he could raise him from the dead displaying the glory of God. We have bad things happen in our world like the 9/11 tragedy. But many people returned to church and came to Christ during that period of time. God often does use tragedy to get us to turn to Him. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” So while we don’t have all the answers we can trust in One who is infinitely more wise than we are and be sure that He has good reasons for allowing evil and suffering to continue.
  4. How are miracles possible?
    1. If you believe in the first verse of the Bible which says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth”, then why is it unreasonable to believe that God, who created the heavens and the Earth, could perform miraculous actions inside the heavens and the Earth that He created? He set up the rules. The laws of physics and chemistry are descriptions of how nature normally works (as far as we know). God, being the creator of those natural laws can intervene to suspend or alter those laws since He Himself create created and sustains them. I’m a computer programmer. I create web pages and other programs for people to use. I can control how those web pages and programs behave. I can make a program (that I created) behave differently. No user of the program can do that – only me, the creator of the program can do that. This would seem miraculous to the average user of my program, but since I am the creator of that program I can make it do whatever I want. In the same way God is the all-powerful creator of this universe and He can make it behave however He wants. There’s no logical contradiction here.
  5. Isn’t the Bible full of errors?
    1. The person who asks this question should be required to give an example of such an error. I have a book called “The Big Book of Bible Difficulties”, where answers to many challenges and questions about the Bible are found. If there’s a specific contradiction or error that a person’s concerned about we can address that particular issue. Remember the Bible has been analyzed, questioned and attempted to be destroyed for over 2000 years and no one has been successful yet, so it’s highly unlikely that someone in 2017 is going to come up with the one error or contradiction in the Bible that makes it impossible to believe it’s true. If it is God’s word, it will continue to stand the test of time (as it has for 2000 years).
  6. Isn’t Christianity just a crutch because it makes weak people feel better?
    1. We could ask the same question about atheism, which is non-belief in God. Isn’t an atheist just believing something that makes him feel comfortable? Because if there is a God, that person would be accountable to Him and would have to answer for their behavior in this life. That’s uncomfortable for many people, so we could say that a person who doesn’t believe in God, holds that belief because it makes them feel comfortable. They don’t want to go to hell, they don’t want to think about hell, so they give the excuse that there is no God. Then they tell the Christian “You only believe in God because it makes you feel comfortable”. But actually we have many reasons for believing in the existence of God (existence of the universe, argument from design, evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, etc.) The atheist would have to be explain those things somehow without the existence of God, which would be very difficult. So I reject the charge that Christianity can’t be true because it makes us feel comfortable.  Yes, it does make us feel good and comforted, but that’s no reason to think it is not true.
  7. Won’t a good and moral life get me to heaven?
    1. My question to the person asking this question is: how moral you have to be? How many good things do you have to do to get to heaven? The biblical answer is that you would have to be 100% perfect. And there was only One who was ever perfect, and that was Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The Bible describes the human condition accurately – it’s depiction of humanity makes sense with what we actually see in the world. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Everyone here is told a lie. Everyone here has dishonored their parents at some time. Everyone has failed to do everything that they should to help those in need. So we’ve all sinned. Even if you’ve only sinned once that’s enough to condemn you. The Bible says “For whoever keeps the whole law in yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10), so if you’ve ever lied (even once) you’re guilty of breaking all of the law of God. The Bible also says or if you know the good you ought to do and don’t do it that’s sin (James 2:14). It also says that anything that doesn’t come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23b). So all of us are condemned, it is impossible for any of us to be good enough to merit eternal life in heaven. Our only hope is God’s mercy.  Like the tax collector in Jesus’ parable, we must say “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13), then Jesus will say as He said of the tax collector “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” (Luke 18:9-14)
  8. Who made God?
    1. This question misunderstands the nature of God. One of the attributes of God that makes him God is the fact that He’s eternal. So the questioner has a wrong concept of God to start with. Part of how we define God is that He is eternal – that He had no beginning and will have no end (1 Chron. 29:10, Nehemiah 9:5, Psalm 90:2; 93:2, Isaiah 44:6-8; Habakkuk 1:12, John 1:1, Hebrews 13:8, Revelation 1:8). We and every other created thing had a beginning. So it’s very hard for us to conceive of someone who had no beginning. But that is in fact what Christians call God. So, the questioner has the wrong view of the Christian God. However we also have to look at the scientific evidence which tells us that the universe that we live in began to exist. Therefore, based on the law of cause and effect, something or someone had to create it. That someone Who created it is God. Now, if we ask who created God, then we would also have to ask who created whatever created God. And then who created that, and then who created that, and you would never end. There has to be an Ultimate Cause of everything – Aristotle called it “the unmoved Mover”.  That ultimate cause is what we call God.

I pray that this session goes well, and that clubbers would get answers that satisfy their curiosity.

AWANA Teaching on Joshua 1:8

Last Wednesday evening I had the awesome privilege of teaching about 10 fifth and sixth graders as I do once a month.  The purpose is to take one of their memory verses and expound upon it so that they understand it at a deeper level.  The topic I chose for that evening was Joshua 1:8.  Below is the content of the Power Point I used to present along with the comments that I made:

slide1

Today, we’ll be looking at one of the verses that you are memorizing.  It is from book 2 challenge 4:2, Joshua 1:8

slide2

Would someone like to read this verse? “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)

slide3

First of all, who is speaking in this verse? I’ll give you a hint – it is not Joshua or Moses. Look at the context…  (click) Verse 1 of this same chapter says “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, (click) the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide”  So, when we read verse 8, these are the direct words of the Lord spoken to Joshua.

slide4

“Book of the Law”. The Bible. Do not let it “depart from your mouth” and “meditate on it day and night”.  Read/memorize Bible daily.

slide5

the reasons why we are to meditate on God’s Word day and night  – “so that you may be careful to do everything written in it”.  That’s obedience.  That’s action.

slide6

Result :  “Then you will be prosperous and successful”. Do you think that God is saying to Joshua that he will get a lot of  money and no longer have any problems in life? No, He’s not telling Joshua that. We can be prosperous and successful in God’s sight by reading, memorizing and obeying His word.  This may include riches and it may not.

slide7

In summary, Joshua 1:8 is the LORD telling Joshua (and us) that

1.the Bible is His word

2.We are to be

  1. reading it
  2. memorizing it
  3. Talking about it
  4. Thinking about it
  5. Obeying it
  6. Result will be blessing by God.

slide8

Now, I’ve been telling you that the Bible is God’s Word, but, so far, I haven’t given you any evidence for that belief.  Why should we believe the Bible is God’s Word?  What makes it more special than any other book?  How do we know it is not just a book of fairy tales and fables?

slide9

(hold up the Bible)

1.great privilege to have the Bible.

2. Many died to get this message to you (could’ve saved their lives by denying Jesus)

3.We don’t really appreciate what we have.

4.This is the Word of God He inspired men to write.

slide10

What we mean by inspiration of Scripture:

1.Men wrote the Bible

2.Not inspired like music or artwork

3.But the wrote what God wanted them to write

slide11

Americans becoming more skeptical lately – each generation…

slide12

Will give several lines of evidence that Bible not man’s word, but God’s word.  Hope you walk away convinced, not become “statistic”.

slide13

1.The Bible is indestructible

2.Many attempts to destroy the Bible in history

slide14

1.Before Christ, Jewish people under Antiochus Epiphanes.

2.Known as “the madman”

3.Persecuted Hebrew people.

4.Attempt to destroy copies of the Old Testament.

slide15

1.Maccabees says Antiochus Epiphanes attempted to destroy Scriptures by fire.

2.Wasn’t successful

slide16

We know we possess same Scriptures today because of the Dead Sea Scrolls – contain every book of the Old Testament except Esther.

slide17

1.Roman emperor Diocletian, known for persecution of Christians.

2.No tolerance for Christianity,

3.Called it a “cult”.

slide18

Diocletian’s initiated the most terrible of all the persecutions of the early Church.

slide19

1.302 A.D. he (Diocletian) told his government “to tear down the churches to the foundations and to destroy the Sacred Scriptures by fire”.

2.Massacred town because they where Christians.

3.Didn’t wipe out Christianity because of faith, perseverance and courage of the early Christians.

slide20

As the Word of God says: There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.

slide21

And “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever”

slide22

1700’s in France, Voltaire hated Bible.

Within 100 years Christianity would be gone

50 years after his death, his house used by Geneva Bible Society for printing Bibles

Now, 91% of American homes have at least 1 Bible, and 47% of Americans read the Bible at least once a week

slide23

The Bible best selling book of all time. “the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year.”

The Bible most stolen book as well.  In the United States alone, 50 Bibles are stolen every minute.

The Bible most read book of all time and remains the most important book of all time.

The Bible is amazing and could not have survived all these years without God’s direct involvement

slide24

1.Bible has consistent message.

2.Its human authors:

1.Lived in different places,

2.Spoke different languages,

3.The message of the Bible in one sentence is “Through Jesus, God is restoring everything that sin destroyed”.

4.Couldn’t be true without God directing things

slide25

1.The Bible is not a single book, but actually 66 individual books

2.written

1.on 3 continents,

2.in 3 different languages,

3.over a period of approximately 1500 years,

4.by 40 authors

5.who came from many walks of life (shepherds, kings, scholars, fishermen, prophets, a doctor, a military general, and a Pharisee)

3.One unified book from beginning to end without contradiction.

4.This is evidence of Bible being God’s Word.

slide26

2,500 prophecies in Bible, 2,000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors.

slide27

This document (show document) contains 60 of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth (there are actually over 300 in total). This chart shows 8 of them.  As you can see, many of these prophecies are not something a human being could have caused to happen.  For example:

1.Place of birth (Micah 5:2)

2.Date of birth (Daniel 9:25)

3.Manner of birth (Isaiah 7:14)

4.Manner of death (Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22:16 prophesied before the invention of crucifixion)

5.Burial (Isaiah 53:9)

The odds of 1 man fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies are 1 in 1000000…. (lot of zeros) – essentially impossible, which shows that God had to be involved…

slide28

1.Take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep.

2.“Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state.

3.Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one.

4.What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.”

slide29

Question:

Who, in all the history of the world,

1.Born of a virgin;

2.A descendant of Abraham;

3.from the tribe of Judah;

4.from the line of David;

5.was both God and man;

6.was born in Bethlehem;

7.was preceded by a messenger, and visited the Jerusalem temple before it was destroyed in A.D. 70;

8.died in A.D. 33;

9.rose from the dead (Isa. 53:11)?

Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the only possible candidate. Only he hits the bull’s-eye.

slide30

There are many other prophecies that I could tell you about.  Please be sure that you can trust in the Bible, which is the Word of God.   He proves that He is the Author of it by fulfilled prophecies contained in the Bible

slide31

The 4th reason we know that the Bible is the Word of God is it’s reliability as a historical document.

slide32

A reliability of a historical document is judged by a few things:

1. Does it contain eyewitness testimony?  The New Testament consists of 27 books that were written by 27 authors who were either eyewitnesses to Jesus or interviewed eyewitnesses of Him

2. How early are the copies we have?  Any writing of history is judged by how close the writing is to the events it records.  The New Testament events all occurred in the first century (0 – 100 A.D.) and all of the writings were written in the first century.

3. How many copies do we have?  Historical documents are viewed as more reliable if they have more copies of them.  The reason for this is that mass printing wasn’t invented until 1440 A.D., by Johannes Gutenberg.  By the way, the first book printed on the printing press was: The Bible. But before that, people (called scribes) had to copy the writings by hand so that they could be distributed to other areas.

slide33

27 New Testament books by 9 authors (eyewitnesses or interviewed eyewitnesses)

slide34

1.Why don’t we have more written about Jesus?

2. 10 non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life.

3.By contrast, over the same 150 years,  there are 9 non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus.

4.Jesus is actually mentioned by one more source than the Roman emperor at the time.

5.If you include the Christian sources, authors mentioning Jesus outnumber those mentioning  Tiberius 43 to 10!

slide35

the number of manuscripts compared to other ancient documents and the time gap from the events.

slide36

1.Wrap-up / Summary / Purpose:

1.understand Joshua 1:8

2.Overview of the reasons why we believe that the Bible is the Word of God.

3.Increase your confidence and faith in the Bible

4.Give you information to respond to challenges you hear

slide37

We talked about 4 lines of evidence that the Bible is God’s Word.  They are:

1. Indestructibility – we reviewed the examples of Antiochus Epiphanes, a few of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, as well as Voltaire

2. The Consistent Message of the Bible – Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction.  The consistent message of the Bible throughout is “Through Jesus, God is restoring everything that sin destroyed

3. Fulfilled Prophecy –Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament.  Many of those could’ve been fulfilled only by Jesus and many are not things that a mere human could arrange.  The fact that men wrote down hundreds of years ahead of time what was going to happen in the future, this shows God’s intervention.

4. Historical Reliability – the Bible is historically reliable.  We can be sure that we have the text of the Bible that was written down in the first century.

slide38

I hope that your faith has been made more sure by this information and that you’ll now be able to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints!  Are there any questions that you have on this material?

AWANA Teaching on John 5:24 and conversation with clubber

Once a month I get the awesome privilege of teaching our 5th and 6th graders.  I go in-depth on 1 or 2 of the verses that they are covering in their handbooks.  This past Wednesday was one of those mountain top experiences, which reminded me why I’m there every Wednesday night from 5:30-7:30. I had chosen John 5:24, from the T&T Ultimate Challenge Book 1.  As usual, I made a power point presentation (link to PDF ‘handouts’ below):

Teaching on John 5:24

And here is the link to the actual PowerPoint presentation:

PowerPoint Teaching on John 5:24

The clubbers seemed to receive the teaching pretty well.  The message was about the urgent need to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.  After explaining what the verse meant, I started to challenge them a little bit. Why is it so necessary to believe in Jesus, which may seem strange to non-believers?  We talked through why Jesus is the only answer for our sin problem.  I made use of arguments presented in Greg Koukl’s excellent book Tactics.  After the message was complete, one of the clubbers, Crystal (not her real name) a 6th grader, came up to me and said, “Mr. Steve, what if we believe in Jesus and it’s not true?”  In response, I asked her, “If that’s the case, what have you really lost if you believe in Christianity and it’s not true?” My answer: nothing!  Nevertheless, I do believe that Christianity is true, and there’s a lot of evidence for it being true.  She brought up the “Big Bang” and told me that she thought that was evidence against the creation story in the Bible.  I assured her that the Big Bang was not evidence against Christianity, but rather, it provides strong evidence that a Creator God does exist.  Since counsel time was over and it was now handbook time, I told her that we could talk later at the end of the night.

So, after the night was over, I sat down with Crystal while her dad waited outside the door of the classroom. I asked her what specifically are her questions regarding Christianity and why she is having doubts about it. She told me that sometimes she doesn’t know if God is real. She said that when she reads the Bible, she likes the stories, but she doesn’t know if they are true. I asked her to clarify more. She talked about the miracles, like turning water into wine, or walking on water. I asked her, “If God created the universe, don’t you think that he could modify whatever He wants inside the universe?” She agreed that yes that was true. I also tried to make her see that the Universe came into existence, and someone outside of the universe must have started it.  I said, “Think about it – someone had to start the Big Bang. Universes don’t just pop out of nowhere, like a rabbit out of a hat.”  She liked that analogy and it made her laugh. We also talked about how the Bible, in addition to being the Word of God, is also another written report of history. I said, “I haven’t seen or met Jesus personally (physically). But I haven’t seen George Washington or Abraham Lincoln either. I believe what I believe about them because I read what someone else wrote about them.” That point really seemed to hit home with her.  She felt a lot better after our talk.

So, when we were finished with our short talk, we went out to see her dad.  I heaped praise on Crystal about how we really enjoy having her in the AWANA club and her participation and behavior.  I mentioned to her dad that sometimes we have some pretty deep talks and this was one of those nights.  Then Crystal piped in and told him about how she was having some doubts about Christianity, and our conversation really helped her.  In her own words, she summarized what I talked about regarding God being the cause of the universe – that universes don’t just pop out of nowhere.  She also told her dad how it made a lot of sense that even though we don’t see Jesus ourselves, we are reading the writings of those who have seen Him – just like we haven’t seen George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but we can know they existed and what they did because of people who wrote about them.

I congratulated Crystal for bringing up her doubts to me.  I told her she should not be ashamed or feel bad about having doubts – everyone has doubts at some time or another and I would much rather have her asking questions rather than being apathetic about her faith.

I think next week I will have a little gift for Crystal.  I’ve been saving these “Student Editions” that I found (at very cheap prices) at the Goodwill books section:

  1. https://www.amazon.com/Case-Christ-Student-Journalists-Investigation/dp/0310745640/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483706800&sr=8-1
    caseforchrist
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Case-Creator-Student/dp/B0064FMWSI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483706877&sr=8-2
    caseforcreator
  3. https://www.amazon.com/Children-Demand-Verdict-Answering-Questions/dp/1600980120/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483706916&sr=1-1
    childrendemandvertict

I think she will benefit greatly to have those children / student versions of great books by world class apologists.

I pray for Crystal that she will seek and find answers to her questions and that in getting the answers she needs, she will be satisfied, and will grow in her faith.  I think a possible result of this could be that she could be the one in the future giving the answers to someone else who’s struggling with the same doubts.  I’ll end with the famous apologetics verse:

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.  1 Peter 3:15

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!

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!

mid-week apologetics booster (3-3-2016)

Good morning friends,

Praise be to the Lord, for He is good!  Last night it was my turn to teach at AWANA truth and training.  Once a month I teach on one of the memory verses that the 3rd and 4th grade clubbers are learning.  This month, it was Mark 1:17.  As I prepared the lesson, I marveled that the 1st two recorded statements of Jesus in His public ministry were:

  1. A call to repentance and faith – Mark 1:15 – “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!
  2. A call to follow Him and to evangelize – Mark 1:17 – “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.

What I get out of that is something akin to that familiar airplane analogy – “Secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping others”.  We are to first repent, believe and become Jesus’ disciples ourselves, then go teach others to do the same.  As I taught the AWANA clubbers last night, you can’t give what you don’t have!  But once you have it, you can’t keep it to yourself!

Here are the slides and notes I used for the AWANA teaching:

AWANA Teaching on Mark 1:17

With that in mind, here are some apologetics links that can assist you in answering objections as you go out and share your faith:

  1. 4 Key Points Christian Kids Need to Understand About Evolution: http://crossexamined.org/4-key-points-christian-kids-need-to-understand-about-evolution/
  2. Basic Differences Between Islam and Christianity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6dkexljCiU
  3. Case-Making 101: A Case for the Bible–How was the Bible transmitted over time? – Truth, Faith and Reason: http://truthfaithandreason.com/case-making-101-a-case-for-the-bible-how-was-the-bible-transmitted-over-time/
  4. The Evidence for God: The Universe | Saints and Sceptics: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/the-evidence-for-god-the-universe/
  5. Funsized Tactics: Chapter 5 – A Clear Lens: http://clearlens.org/2014/07/26/funsized-tactics-chapter-five/
  6. The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert) – Cross Examined – Christian Apologetic Ministry: http://crossexamined.org/case-reliability-new-testament-free-bible-insert/
  7. A Basic Introduction to the Types of Apologetics – Christian Apologetics Training: http://christianapologeticstraining.com/a-basic-introduction-to-the-types-of-apologetics
  8. Greg Laurie: Jesus Christ Calls on Christians to Share the Gospel, Refusing to Can Be a Sin: http://m.christianpost.com/news/greg-laurie-jesus-christ-calls-christians-share-gospel-harvest-crusade-158800/?m=1
  9. Nine Steps to Presenting the Case for Christianity – Cross Examined – Christian Apologetic Ministry: http://crossexamined.org/nine-steps-presenting-case-christianity/
  10. Loving Someone Doesn’t Mean Accepting Their Behavior: http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/03/loving-someone-doesnt-mean-accepting-their-behavior.html
  11. What is cheap grace? http://www.gotquestions.org/cheap-grace.html
  12. Have Population III stars finally been discovered? – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/a/10625
  13. The Gospel According to Columbo – What if Lieutenant Columbo was a Christian? How would he present the Gospel? What would he say and how would he say it? Alan Shlemon says Columbo would ask three questions. Find out what they are in this episode: http://www.str.org/podcasts/thinking-out-loud/the-gospel-according-to-columbo

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” – Exodus 4:10-12

Blessings to you all!

AWANA Teaching on John 14:2 & 14:6

This was the content of teaching I did last night to 3rd and 4th graders on John 14:1-6.  This passage includes 2 verses they all have to memorize (John 14:2 and John 14:6) and they are ones I always get questions on:

It was well received by the kids and the Gospel was proclaimed.  They were challenged to consider whether they had received the forgiveness available in Jesus and if not, to talk to a leader about it!

AWANA Teaching on Philippians 2:3-4

This was the content of teaching I did last night to 3rd and 4th graders on Philippians 2:3-4.  This is a passage they all have to memorize:

It was well received by the kids and they were challenged to look to the interests of others at school in the coming week and that we would be following up with them next week!

As a side note, during the evening, a 5th grader came up to me and excitedly told me that “prayer works”!  She told me that she and her friend had lost something at school, so she prayed, then she found it.  I commended her for remembering to pray in that situation.  She was so excited to tell me that I didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm…  Then, later in the evening, during game time, she had to sit out because she was “tagged” by being hit with the ball, and she sat down next to me.  I asked her if she remembered the night before Jesus went to the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane?  “Did you remember what He prayed?”, I asked her.  She said, “Yes, that He wouldn’t have to go and die on the cross”.  I reminded her that the Father didn’t answer yes to His prayer – and that’s Jesus!  So, yes, prayer works, but the answer is not always yes and that doesn’t mean God isn’t listening.  She smiled and agreed.  I felt like I had to make that clarification, because this is the type of thing that could end up destroying one’s faith if she thinks that every time she prays she’ll get exactly what she needs.

AWANA message on John 1:1

Last night at AWANA, it was my turn (and great privilege) to give the “counsel time” message.  The counsel time message is a very short “sermonette” that we give to the clubbers.  Our leader for the Truth and Training section (which is the 3rd – 6th graders) wanted some of us leaders to take some of the verses that the clubbers are memorizing and expound on their meaning so that the clubbers will know what they are memorizing and will not just be memorizing words.

The leader split up the group into 3rd-4th grade and 5th-6th grade.  I was given the task of teaching to the 3rd and 4th grade kids.  One verse that AWANA clubbers memorize starting in 3rd grade is John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As I hear the kids recite the verse, I often ask them if they know what it means – particularly the phrase “the Word”.  Almost unanimously, they are not able to explain it, or give the incorrect explanation.  Because of this confusion, I decided that my teaching would focus on that verse.

So, I created a power point presentation to help guide the teaching  Here are the 18 slides I used:

1

2

3

4

5a

5b

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

 

It was a great session!  It lasted about 15 minutes and there was a ton of interaction and excitement from the kids.  I was so encouraged to see them eager to learn about this important topic.

There was even an opportunity to get into a little bit of apologetics.  One 9 year old 4th grader in the front had a very hard time wondering “who made God?”  This is not the first time I’ve heard this objection from a 4th or 5th grader.  I told the kids that no one made God, but that God is eternal – He has no beginning and will have no end – He just is.  She didn’t understand how God could just be.  I tried to explain how it is difficult for us to understand the concept of eternity since we are living in time.  But if you think about it, something must’ve always existed and it is God that always existed (the uncaused first Cause or “prime Mover”, which was a concept advanced by Aristotle).  The AWANA leader interjected that there are some things in the Bible that are hard to understand, but we just have to have faith, because it is in God’s word.  I wanted to make sure that the kids know that it is okay to ask questions and that there are good answers available.  I know that at this age (8-10), kids have a hard time grappling with abstract concepts like this – they are much better with concrete concepts, but they are memorizing this verse, so I thought it was important that they know what it means.  The girl ended up saying “I’m just going to ask Jesus when I get to heaven”.  I love that answer!

 

 

 

AWANA started last night!

It was so great to be back at AWANA last night!  All of the young Bible toting clubbers coming in their green or blue shirts and (most of them) excited that it was starting up again too.  In particular, I have responsibility, during book time, for a group of 3 5th graders.  They were all wanting to memorize verses, answer questions and talk about spiritual things.  How refreshing it was!  One of the 5th grade girls brought up the question of who created God.  In her start zone booklet, she had to name 3 attributes of God to her leader (me).  One of those attributes was that God is eternal and another was that God was the creator of the universe and everything in it.  We talked about the concept of God being eternal, and I thought she understood it.  However, shortly after that, she asked, “Who created God?”  This just reinforces the fact that we need to be teaching and practicing apologetics earlier and earlier.  I explained to her that no one created God – that since he is eternal, He has no beginning or end.  I wanted to get into the problem of infinite regress, but didn’t have the time.  Here is an article that addresses this topic well:

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/who_created_god.html

Anyway, it was great to have AWANA starting again and I’m looking forward to teaching, mentoring, discipling the next generation of Christians!