mid-week apologetics booster (4-20-2017)

Good morning all,

I hope you’re having a wonderful week following our resurrected Savior, Jesus the Christ.  If you are following Him, your wonderful week is likely full of:

  1. Denying yourself
  2. Taking up your cross daily
  3. Following Him
  4. Losing your life for Him
  5. Not gaining the world
  6. Not being ashamed of Him or His words

Jesus made that clear when He said:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self ? 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.  Luke 9:23-26

Like Paul I hope we can all say, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”  Philippians 3:8-9  That’s the true joy, knowing Him.

And like anyone else we know and love, we will defend our belief in them in the face of attack, but with gentleness and respect – that’s Apologetics – Paul practiced it, Peter practiced it and Jesus practiced it.  Let us do likewise:

  1. Hank Hanegraaff’s Switch to Eastern Orthodoxy, Why People Make Such Changes, and Four Ways Evangelicals Might Respond: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/april/how-should-we-respond-to-hank-hanegraaffs-switch-to-orthodo.html
  2. 10 Worst Nations To Live In As A Christian | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/10-worst-nations-to-live-in-as-a-christian/
  3. Notecard Answers for Why I Believe the Bible | TGC: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/erikraymond/2015/10/15/notecard-answers-to-why-i-believe-the-bible/
  4. World-Famous Physicist Drops Bombshell “God” Discovery… Atheists Will NOT Like This: http://conservativetribune.com/physicist-bombshell-god-like/
  5. Funsized Tactics: Chapter 9 – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/funsized-tactics-chapter-nine/
  6. Why I Put My Son Back in Public School: http://thinkdivinely.com/why-i-put-my-son-back-in-public-school/
  7. It’s Time for Youth Pastors to CH.A.T. With Their Students: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/its-time-for-youth-pastors-to-ch-a-t-with-their-students/
  8. Gender-neutral Chromium code – I’m a software developer and during the course of technical reading I do for work, I ran into this.  I include this just to emphasize how this insanity is permeating every part of society now: https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromium/src/+/master/styleguide/gender_neutral_code.md
  9. Four Ways the Earth Is Fine-Tuned for Life | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/four-ways-the-earth-is-fine-tuned-for-life/
  10. Three Important Questions to Balance in the Wake of Gun Violence: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/three-important-questions-to-balance-in-the-wake-of-newtown/

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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

Conversation at St. Vincent de Paul Saturday February 11th

This past Saturday at St. Vincent de Paul, where our church volunteers once a month to feed the homeless, I had a conversation with a guy who was with another group volunteering there.  He was a parent of one of the girls on a high school sports club. Right off the bat, another Christian brother and I were talking with him and we let him know that we were Christians. That opened up the conversation for spiritual topics.  So, my friend asked him if he goes to church, and he said, “Well not so much anymore because we’re really busy, we’ve got the girls going to Lacrosse, we have a lot of other things going on, so we don’t really have time.”  I followed up with a question, “So then, would you consider yourself to be a Christian?”  He said, “Oh definitely!”  I filed that in my back pocket. Not much else was said right then, but I knew that since we’d both been assigned to work on the garbage, I would be having a lot of time to talk to him.

At one point during our shift when there was a lull in our garbage work, I asked him about his spiritual journey. He repeated the statement about him not having enough time to go to church. I replied, “Well, it’s only one hour a week, and we have a 168 hours a week. The truth is, we make time for things that we want to make time for. I’m not trying to convict you – I was there too and I know that life does get busy – I understand that. But, consider this: 100 years from today, we will not be concerned at all about what we’re concerned about today. Things that concern us today will be just a distant memory.” He replied, “Yeah because I’ll be dead.” And I said, “Well, you said you were Christian, so as Christians we believe in the afterlife, so actually you won’t be dead, you’ll be alive and you’ll be in one of two places either heaven or hell. So it’s important for us to have an eternal perspective as we go through life.  We sometimes need to back up and just take a look at the big picture and realize that we’re all going to die one day. With everything we’re doing in life, we need to ask whether it will matter 100 years from today.  Am I spending my time on things that will matter eternally?”  He seemed to acknowledge that without much to say in return, but I could see that I made him think about it.  That was pretty much all I said related to spiritual things.  We talked about all sorts of other things including career and how he thought it was so good to be doing this volunteer work.  He thought it was good for us and it makes us feel good as well.  He mentioned that it was good for his daughter, who was there, to see that.

So I hope that this conversation I had with this fellow will make some impact on him and get him to reconsider his priorities in life.

In Jesus’s Holy and Precious Name I pray, Amen!