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 (3-23-2017)

Good morning friends,

I sincerely hope you’re enjoying your week!  I was blessed again to be a Community Judge at a homeschool speech and debate tournament – the Camelback Classic!  What an event and what an encouragement to see these young people so proficiently able to defend the faith and to speak intelligently about current events!  I was judge for 2 different events:

Apologetics – Semi Final Round – Saturday morning.  Here are the questions that I judged:

  1. What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the Mediator?  Why does this matter?
  2. What does John 1:1-3 mean when it says that Jesus is the Word?  Why does this matter?
  3. How would you respond to the common observation: “Jesus was a good man and a good teacher, but certainly not the Son of God”?
  4. What does it mean to call Jesus Christ the Lamb of God?  Why does this matter?
  5. Is the Resurrection essential to the Christian faith?
  6. Compare and contrast the origins of the Quran and the origins of the Bible?
  7. Are Mormons Christians?
  8. What are unique features of Christianity that set it apart from all other religions of the world?

Extemporaneous (Current Events) – Friday morning.  Here were the questions that I judged:

  1. What will be President Obama’s legacy?
  2. Is ‘Alt Right’ the new face of American Conservatism?
  3. Will conservative Republican congressmen scuttle the repeal of Obamacare?
  4. Will punishing the media backfire on President Trump?
  5. Was it wrong for Attorney General Sessions to ask all of the federal district attorneys to resign?
  6. Will President Trump’s affinity for Russian President Putin last?
  7. Will the “Resistance” topple President Trump?

I was greatly encouraged to watch them “make the case”.  My thought was, could any adults get up and give extemporaneous talks on any of these topics?  Maybe, but it would certainly be a challenge.  If you want to be encouraged about the next generation of Christians being raised up, I would highly recommend that you volunteer to be a community judge.  The local events occur in November (Cactus Clash) and March (Camelback Classic).

Here are your weekly links:

  1. The Source of Our Fear When It Comes to Evangelism: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/the-source-of-our-fear-when-it-comes-to-evangelism/
  2. Carbon-14, Radiometric Dating and Index Fossils: http://creationstudies.org/articles/science/geology/196-radiometric-dating-and-fossils
  3. Three Things The Gospel Authors Would Have Never Invented About Jesus – THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/three-things-the-gospel-authors-would-have-never-invented-about-jesus-4/
  4. Watch “G.O.S.P.E.L. – Propaganda (Full Video)” on YouTube this is a “rap” presentation of the Gospel: https://youtu.be/jyYFxp7apl4
  5. Reasons To Believe : 12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 1: http://www.reasons.org/blogs/reflections/12-evidences-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus–part-1
  6. This Will Help Quiet Pro-Lifers Speak Up | Jim Daly: http://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/will-help-quiet-pro-lifers-speak/
  7. Did Jesus & His Disciples Speak Greek? | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/did-jesus-his-disciples-speak-greek/
  8. Patrick: Reclaiming the Great Missionary: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/st.-patrick-reclaiming-the-great-missionary
  9. Answering another abortion argument: http://creation.com/abortion-answer
  10. Bible Contradictions:
    1. HOW TO ANSWER ALLEGED BIBLE DISCREPANCIES AND CONTRADICTIONS: http://christianapologeticstraining.com/how-to-answer-alleged-bible-discrepancies-and-contradictions
    2. Are There Any Errors in the Bible? http://normangeisler.com/are-there-any-errors-in-the-bible/
    3. Watch “Is the Bible Full of Contradictions?” on YouTube – Tim Barnett – we watched this video in our apologetics class Sunday: https://youtu.be/YQgR3BrBhss
  11. This is the ‘Single Greatest Contributor’ to Millennials Abandoning Faith According to New Book – Faithwire: http://www.faithwire.com/2017/03/09/author-reveals-the-single-greatest-contributor-he-says-has-led-so-many-millennials-to-abandon-faith/
  12. Why Apologists are Not Reaching Pop Culture – Free Thinking Ministries: http://freethinkingministries.com/why-apologists-are-not-reaching-pop-culture/
  13. CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously | Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/03/19/cnn-religion-quiz-needs-to-take-christianity-seriously.html
  14. Here we go again: Will someone please explain Christianity to the Associated Press? — GetReligion: https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2017/3/20/here-we-go-again-will-someone-please-explain-christianity-to-the-associated-press
  15. How to Unmask a Hardened Skeptic: http://www.blogos.org/compellingtruth/skeptic-scoffer.php
  16. Disney:
    1. A Beast of a Decision? Should Christians Watch Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? https://answersingenesis.org/reviews/movies/should-christians-watch-disneys-beauty-and-beast/
    2. Is It Time to Kiss Disney Goodbye? https://answersingenesis.org/family/homosexuality/time-to-kiss-disney-goodbye/
  17. Romans 1:16:
    1. What does it mean to not be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16)? https://www.gotquestions.org/not-ashamed-Gospel.html
    2. The Power of God for Salvation | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/power-god-salvation/
    3. Romans – Wayne Barber/Part 5 | John Ankerberg Show: https://www.jashow.org/articles/bible/bible-studies/romans/romans-wayne-barberpart-5/
    4. Watch “I Am Not Ashamed of the TRUE Gospel. (Paul Washer)” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/vwpm1G5pVho
    5. Six Signs That You May Be Ashamed of the Gospel: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/six-signs-you-may-be-ashamed-of-the-gospel/
  18. Watch “An Atheist’s Conversion” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/h4j7FBYXQKs
  19. Watch “Living Waters University, Kevin” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4Uftyxz0SWk
  20. Watch “I’m A Christian, But I Don’t Read My Bible” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/jvBmRGD8FuI
  21. Watch “I’ve Kinda Given Up On God” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/jPNslXAxAvI
  22. Watch “Ricky Gervais & God’s Existence” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/EM-53Bq_U6M
  23. Watch “Ten of the Top Scientific Facts in the Bible” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/t2sMJMXDiH4
  24. 17 States Force Taxpayers to Fund Abortions. Does Yours? | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2017/03/17/17-states-force-taxpayers-to-fund-abortions-does-yours/
  25. Watch “Nabeel Qureshi // Why I stopped believing Islam is a religion of peace” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/2htOWOF4gqs
  26. Watch “Shabir Ally & Dr.Nabeel Qureshi – What is GOD really like? part 1 of 2” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/dghjlgnZzuY
  27. Ten quick responses to atheist claims | Christian News on Christian Today: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ten.quick.responses.to.atheist.claims/41439.htm
  28. Don’t All Religions Basically Say the Same Thing? (Quick Video) – Alisa Childers: http://www.alisachilders.com/blog/dont-all-religions-basically-say-the-same-thing-quick-video
  29. Let’s Make Jesus Less … Offensive! | The Stream (Satire): https://stream.org/make-jesus-less-offensive/
  30. Remember Those Exciting “Earth-Like” Planets of the TRAPPIST-1 System? The Honeymoon Is Over | Evolution News: https://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/03/remember-those-exciting-earth-like-planets-of-the-trappist-1-system-the-honeymoon-is-over/
  31. The Shack Author Rejects Biblical Substitutionary Atonement: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=703
  32. Frank Turek podcast and a guy calls and asking about predestination at about 34 minutes into the show. Frank gives interesting analogy about God’s foreknowledge and man’s free will: http://subspla.sh/ohvtxka

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  Galatians 1:6-8

Blessings to you all

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

Good morning friends,

I’ve been sick the last few days, that’s why I’m a day late today.  Here are your weekly links:

  1. Don’t Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason to Believe It’s True: http://christianmomthoughts.com/dont-expect-your-kids-to-care-what-the-bible-says-unless-youve-given-them-reason-to-believe-its-true/
  2. The Need for Apologetics in the Local Church – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/article/the-need-for-apologetics-in-the-local-church/
  3. Christ Journey Church Apologetics Series – Pastor’s introduction, “This series is designed to help believers think and to help thinkers believe.” – interview with John Lennox, PhD: https://youtu.be/KFLIyX-J_-E
  4. Watch “The Gospel Message (HD)” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/n1Ex2FpwqvI
  5. Watch “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus | Nabeel Qureshi Testimony” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/HVBiELaxzAs
  6. Watch “Richard Dawkins vs John Lennox | The God Delusion Debate” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/zF5bPI92-5o
  7. The Three D’s of Tolerance | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/the-three-ds-of-tolerance/
  8. The Myth that Religion is the #1 Cause of War | CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: https://carm.org/religion-cause-war
  9. Discovery of 7 Earth-Sized Planets | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/extrasolar-planets/7-earth-sized-planets-trappist-1/
  10. 3 Textual Variants Every Christian Should Know About – Alisa Childers: http://www.alisachilders.com/blog/3-textual-variants-every-christian-should-know-about
  11. How Abortion Led an Atheist Feminist Professor, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, to Christianity. | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/how-abortion-led-an-atheist-feminist-professor-elizabeth-fox-genovese-to-christianity/
  12. 10 Signs You Might be Rejecting Biblical Authority Without Realizing It: http://www.alisachilders.com/blog/10-signs-you-might-be-rejecting-biblical-authority-without-realizing-it
  13. Testimonies from ex-Roman Catholic Priests | CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: https://www.carm.org/testimonies-ex-roman-catholic-priests
  14. Watch “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Session 2) – Norman Geisler, PhD” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/FNsdkBK4iO8
  15. You Don’t Need to Believe in God to Know What’s Right and Wrong, But… | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/blog/you-dont-need-believe-god-know-whats-right-and-wrong#.WLYoP8tlDqA
  16. Tucker vs. Bill Nye the Science Guy on Climate Change ~9 min video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN5L2q6hfWo

After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”  2 Sam 12:15-23

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.

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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).

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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.

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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)
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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.
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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).

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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Christianity is God reaching down to men.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

mid-week apologetics booster (2-9-2017)

Good morning,

Hey everybody, I wanted to pass on a wonderful and encouraging opportunity for you.  A homeschool speech and debate club is looking for community judges for an upcoming competition.  The name of it is the Mars Hill Speech and Debate club.  The event is March 16-18 and they have a lot of different time slots to be filled.  It is on the west side of town, so it is quite a drive for many of us, but it is worth it…  In the past, I’ve done the Christian Apologetics events where the students are given a topic and have to prepare an impromptu speech to defend the Christian position.  It was so encouraging to see these young people defending their faith and so knowledgeable about such critical matters.  If you want to be encouraged and amazed, I would encourage you to attend.  You can find out more at: https://camelbackclassic2017.homeschooldebate.net/ .  You can look for a Judges link at the top of the page.  I blogged about an event I participated in November 2015, you can read about that to get more details on my experience.

Here are your weekly links:

  1. There’s No Good Reason to Deny the Early Dating of the Gospels: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/theres-no-good-reason-to-deny-the-early-dating-of-the-gospels/
  2. Who Is Jesus, According to Other Religions? http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/who-is-jesus-according-to-other-religions/
  3. Is salvation by works true? https://carm.org/is-salvation-by-works-true
  4. Why believe in Christianity over all other religions? https://carm.org/why-believe-christianity-over-all-other-religions
  5. World Religions: https://carm.org/world-religions
  6. How to Prevent Losing Another Generation: https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/church/how-prevent-losing-another-generation/
  7. Report: Christians Were Persecuted In Every Corner of Globe in 2016 – Leah Barkoukis: http://m.townhall.com/tipsheet/leahbarkoukis/2017/02/05/open-doors-persecution-of-christians-report-n2280204
  8. William Murray, Son of the Founder of American Atheists, Converts to Christianity | Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/william-murray-son-of-the-founder-of-american-atheists-converts-to-christianity/
  9. Jesus isn’t the means to something wonderful: http://adam4d.com/jesus-isnt-the-means-to-something-wonderful/
  10. Evidence for the Historical Jesus – free eBook from Dr. Gary Habermas: http://www.garyhabermas.com/Evidence/

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  Mark 1:38

Blessings to you all!

mid-week apologetics booster (1-26-2017)

Hello friends,

Here are your weekly links:

  1. If we can’t see God, how can we know he exists? – Christian Research Institute: http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/if-we-cant-see-god-how-can-we-know-he-exists-/
  2. Faithful Thinkers: Your Challenge Does Not Apply- The Strawman: http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/your-challenge-does-not-apply-strawman.html
  3. When was the Bible written and who wrote it? | CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: https://www.carm.org/when-was-bible-written-and-who-wrote-it
  4. Are We 99% Chimps? http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/30394
  5. Why Are There So Many Atheists on College Campuses? https://chab123.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/why-are-there-so-many-atheists-on-college-campuses-3/
  6. GARY HABERMAS AND JAMES CROSSLEY DISCUSS THE MINIMAL FACTS CASE FOR THE RESURRECTION: https://winteryknight.com/2017/01/05/gary-habermas-and-james-crossley-discuss-the-minimal-facts-case-for-the-resurrection-3/
  7. A Christian’s Rebuttal to “Why I Am Not a Christian” by Bertrand Russell: https://sjthomason.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/a-christians-rebuttal-to-why-i-am-not-a-christian-by-bertrand-russell/
  8. Is apologetics relevant to today’s Church? http://www.christianweek.org/apologetics-relevant-todays-church/
  9. 5 Reasons To Believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John Wrote The Gospels: http://reasonsforjesus.com/5-reasons-to-believe-matthew-mark-luke-john-wrote-the-gospels/
  10. Video: Understanding Greg Bahnsen by Kenneth Samples: http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2017/01/video-understanding-greg-bahnsen-by.html
  11. When Someone You Love Says, “I’m Gay”: http://www.equip.org/article/someone-love-says-im-gay/
  12. Watch “Believing Means Behaving Alistair Begg” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/3kpvq8FJ45U
  13. Watch “True & False Conversion” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/r_vRvn0rRFY
  14. Watch “The Way of the Master – “The Greatest Gamble”” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4uIZkYqkKqM
  15. Planned Parenthood / Abortion:
    1. Planned Parenthood’s Most Misleading Statistic: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/planned-parenthoods-most-misleading-statistic#When:2017-01-24T06:10:00+00:00
    2. 5 Reasons Planned Parenthood Must Be Defunded ASAP | Daily Wire: http://www.dailywire.com/news/12178/4-main-reasons-planned-parenthood-needs-be-amanda-prestigiacomo
    3. Money to Planned Parenthood Pays for Abortion. Period: http://www.newsmax.com/t/newsmax/article/736192
    4. How Much Cash Did Planned Parenthood Clear Last Year? The Answer Will Disgust You. | Daily Wire: http://www.dailywire.com/news/11723/how-much-cash-did-planned-parenthood-clear-last-amanda-prestigiacomo
    5. 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/
    6. Watch “Ben Shapiro: The Truth About Planned Parenthood” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/RhoFNmMeO8k
    7. Watch “Debunking Planned Parenthood’s “3%” Abortion Myth” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/qtgqxvaV-8U
    8. Birth control leader Margaret Sanger: Darwinist, racist and eugenicist – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/margaret-sanger-darwinian-eugenicist
    9. Writer Tells Abortion Activists: If Your Sex Life is None of My Business Stop Demanding I Finance It | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2017/01/17/writer-tells-abortion-activists-if-your-sex-life-is-none-of-my-business-stop-demanding-i-finance-it/
    10. Abortion Justifications Flip Moral Reasoning Upside Down | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/blog/abortion-justifications-flip-moral-reasoning-upside-down#.WIO38stlDqB
  16. Global Warming:
    1. Notes from the Great Global Warming Swindle movie: http://wp.me/p4WCk1-hT
    2. Inconvenient Question: Gore asked about failed ’10-year tipping’ point – Refuses to answer, enters SUV in snow | Climate Depot: http://www.climatedepot.com/2017/01/22/inconvenient-question-gore-asked-about-failed-10-year-tipping-point-refuses-to-answer-enters-suv-in-snow/

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.  Hebrews 6:13-15

JC Ryle – The Great Separation!

What a powerful piece this is…

The Great Separation!

J.C. Ryle, 1878

“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor. He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!” Matthew 3:12

Wheat or chaff? You see my question — for whom do you think it is meant? Is it for corn merchants and farmers only, and for none else? If you think so, then you are much mistaken. It is meant for every man, woman, and child in the world. And among others, it is meant for you.

The question is drawn from the verse of Scripture which is now before your eyes. The words of that verse were spoken by John the Baptist. They are a prophecy about our Lord Jesus Christ, and a prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled. They are a prophecy which we shall all see fulfilled one day, and God alone knows how soon.

Reader, I invite you this day to consider the great truths which this verse contains. I invite you to listen to me, while I unfold them and set them before you in order. Who knows but this text may prove a word in season to your soul! Who knows but my question may help to make this day the happiest day in your life! Listen, before you begin once more your appointed path of duty. Listen, before you start once more on some round of business. Listen, before you plunge once more into some course of useless idleness and folly. Listen to one who loves your soul, and would sincerely help to save it, or draw it nearer to Christ. Who knows what a day may bring forth! Who can tell whether you will live to see tomorrow! Be still, and listen to me a few minutes, while I show you something out of the Word of God.

I. Let me show you in the first place, the two great classes into which the world may be divided.

There are only two classes of people in the world, in the sight of God — and both are mentioned in the text which begins this tract. There are those who are called the wheat — and there are those who are called the chaff.

Viewed with the eye of man, the earth contains many different sorts of inhabitants. Viewed with the eye of God, it only contains two. Man’s eye looks at the outward appearance — this is all he thinks of. The eye of God looks at the heart — this is the only part of which He takes any account. And tried by the state of their hearts, there are but two classes into which people can be divided — either they are wheat, or they are chaff.

Reader, who are the WHEAT in the world? Listen to me, and I will tell you.

The wheat means all men and women who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ — all who are led by the Holy Spirit — all who have felt themselves sinners, and fled for refuge to the salvation offered in the Gospel — all who love the Lord Jesus, and live to the Lord Jesus, and serve the Lord Jesus — all who have taken Christ for their only confidence, and the Bible for their only guide, and regard sin as their deadliest enemy, and look to Heaven as their only home. All such, of every church, name, nation, people, and tongue — of every rank, station, condition, and degree — all such are God’s wheat!

Show me men of this kind of people anywhere, and I know what they are. I know that they and I may not agree in all particulars — but I see in them the handiwork of the King of kings, and I ask no more. I know not whence they came, and where they found their religion — but I know where they are going, and that is enough for me. They are the children of my Father in Heaven. They are part of His wheat.

All such, though sinful, and vile, and unworthy in their own eyes — are the precious part of mankind. They are the sons and daughters of God the Father. They are the delight of God the Son. They are the habitation of God the Spirit. The Father beholds no iniquity in them — they are the members of His dear Son’s body — in Him He sees them — and is well pleased. The Lord Jesus discerns in them, the fruit of His own travail and work upon the cross — and is well satisfied. The Holy Spirit regards them as spiritual temples which He Himself has raised — and rejoices over them. In a word, they are the wheat of the earth — God’s wheat.

Reader, who are the CHAFF in the world? Listen to me once more, and I will tell you this also.

The chaff means all men and women who have no saving faith in Christ, and no sanctification of the Spirit — whoever they may be. Some of them perhaps are infidels — and some are formal Christians. Some are sneering Sadducees — and some self-righteous Pharisees. Some of them make a point of keeping up a kind of ‘Sunday religion’ — and others are utterly careless of everything except their own pleasure and the world. But all alike, who have the two great marks already mentioned — no faith and no sanctification — all such are chaff. From the atheists Paine and Voltaire — to the formal churchman who can think of nothing but outward ceremonies — to the unconverted admirer of sermons in the present day — all, all are standing in one rank before God all, all are chaff!

They bring no glory to God the Father. They honor not the Son, and so do not honor the Father who sent Him. They neglect that mighty salvation, which countless millions of angels admire. They disobey that Word which was graciously written for their learning. They listen not to the voice of Him who condescended to leave Heaven and die for their sins. They pay no tribute of service and affection to Him who gave them life, and breath, and all things. And therefore God takes no pleasure in them. He pities them — but He reckons them no better than chaff!

Yes — you may have rare intellectual gifts, and high mental attainments — you may sway kingdoms by your counsel, move millions by your pen, or keep crowds in breathless attention by your tongue — but if you have never submitted yourself to the yoke of Christ, and never honored His Gospel by heartfelt reception of it — then you are nothing but chaff in His sight. Natural gifts without saving grace, are like a row of ciphers without an unit before them; they look big — but they are of no value. The vilest insect that crawls in the filth — is a nobler being than you are! It fills its place in creation, and glorifies its Maker with all its power — and you do not. You do not honor God with heart, and will, and intellect, and members, which are all His. You invert His order and arrangement, and live as if time was of more importance than eternity, and body better than soul. You dare to neglect God’s greatest gift — His own incarnate Son. You are cold about that subject which fills all Heaven with hallelujahs. And so long as this is the case, you belong to the worthless part of mankind. You are the chaff of the earth.

Reader, let this thought be deeply engraved in your mind, whatever else you forget in this volume. Remember there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are wheat — and there are chaff.

There are many nations in Europe. Each differs from the rest. Each has its own language, its own laws, its own peculiar customs. But God’s eye divides Europe into two great parties — the wheat and the chaff.

There are many classes in England. There are nobles and commoners — farmers and shopkeepers — masters and servants — rich and poor. But God’s eye only takes account of two orders — the wheat and the chaff.

There are many and various minds in every congregation that meets for religious worship. There are some who attend for a mere form — and some who really desire to meet Christ; some who come there to please others — and some who come to please God; some who bring their hearts with them, and are not soon tired — and some who leave their hearts behind them, and reckon the whole service as weary work. But the eye of Jesus only sees two divisions in the congregation — the wheat and the chaff.

There were millions of visitors to the Great Exhibition of 1851. From Europe, Asia, Africa, and America — from North, and South, and East, and West — crowds came together to see what human skill and industry could do. Children of our first father Adam’s family, who had never seen each other before, for once met face to face under one roof. But the eye of the Lord only saw two companies thronging that large palace of glass — the wheat and the chaff.

Reader, I know well the world dislikes this way of dividing professing Christians. The world tries hard to fancy there are three sorts of people, and not two. To be very godly and very strict does not suit the world — they cannot, will not be holy. To have no religion at all does not suit the world — as that would not be respectable. “Thank God,” they will say, “we are not so bad as that!” But to have religion enough to be respectable — and yet not go into extremes, to be sufficiently good — and yet not be peculiar — to have a quiet, easy-going, moderate kind of Christianity, and go comfortably to Heaven after all — this is the world’s favorite idea! There is a third class, a safe middle class — the world imagines; and in this middle class — the majority of men persuade themselves they will be found.

Reader, I denounce this notion of a middle class as an immense and soul-ruining delusion! I warn you strongly not to be carried away by it. It is as vain an invention as the Pope’s purgatory. It is a refuge of lies, a castle in the air, a Russian ice-palace, a vast unreality, an empty dream! This middle class is a class of Christians no where spoken of in the Bible!

There were two classes in the day of Noah’s flood; those who were inside the ark — and those who were outside. There were two classes in the parable of the Gospel net; those who are called the good fish — and those who are called the bad. There were two classes in the parable of the ten virgins; those who are described as wise — and those who are described as foolish. There were two classes in the account of the judgment day; the sheep — and the goats. There were two sides of the throne; the right hand — and the left. There were two abodes when the last sentence has been passed; Heaven — and Hell.

And just so, there are only two classes in the world:
those who are in the state of nature — and those who are in the state of grace;
those who are in the narrow way — and those who are in the broad;
those who have faith — and those who have no faith;
those who have been converted — and those who have not been converted;
those who are with Christ — and those who are against Him;
those who gather with Him — and those who scatter abroad;
those who are wheat — and those who are chaff.
Into these two classes, the whole world may be divided. Beside these two classes, there is none.

Reader, dear reader, see now what cause there is for self-inquiry! Are you among the wheat — or among the chaff? Neutrality is impossible. Either you are in one class — or in the other. Which is it, of the two?

You attend church perhaps. You go to the Lord’s table. You like good people. You can distinguish between good preaching and bad. You think Popery false, and oppose it firmly. You think Protestantism true, and support it cordially. You subscribe to religious societies. You attend religious meetings. You sometimes read religious books. It is well — it is all very well. It is good — it is all very good. It is more than can be said of many. But still, this is not a straightforward answer to my question: Are you wheat — or are you chaff?

Have you been born again? Are you a new creature? Have you put off the old man, and put on the new? Have you ever felt your sins, and repented of them? Are you looking only to Christ for pardon and eternal life? Do you love Christ? Do you serve Christ? Do you loathe heart-sins, and fight against them? Do you long for perfect holiness, and follow hard after it? Have you come out from the world? Do you delight in the Bible? Do you wrestle in prayer? Do you love Christ’s people? Do you try to do good to the world? Are you vile in your own eyes, and willing to take the lowest place? Are you a Christian in business, and on week days, and by your own fireside? Oh, think, think, think on these things — and then perhaps you will be better able to tell the state of your soul!

Reader, I beseech you not to turn away from my question, however unpleasant it may be. Answer it, though it may prick your conscience, and cut you to the heart. Answer it, though it may prove you in the wrong, and expose your fearful danger. Rest not, rest not, until you know how it is between you and God! Better a thousand times find out that you are in an evil case, and repent in time — than live on in uncertainty, and be lost eternally!

Reader, remember my question. Begin to meditate on it this very day. Are you wheat — or chaff?

To read the rest, go to http://gracegems.org/Ryle/great_separation.htm

mid-week apologetics booster (1-12-2017)

Good morning all you who call on the Name of the Lord!

I hope you’re enjoying your life in Christ as you live out your calling as His ambassador.  I like what Greg Koukl tells us in his Tactics book (which is currently $2.99 on Kindle) as he describes the “Ambassador Model”.  An ambassador of Christ should possess:

  1. Knowledge – An accurately informed mind
  2. Wisdom – An artful method
  3. Character – An attractive manner

The goal of these weekly emails is primarily to help you with item #1 – knowledge.  However, all 3 tenets are important in becoming an effective ambassador for Christ.  The Tactics book is a good investment for $2.99 and remember, if you have a smart phone (iPhone or Android), you have a free Kindle app on your Phone (or Tablet).

Here are your weekly links to help you build up your knowledge, leading to an accurately informed mind:

  1. 5 Things Christian Parents Must Do to Raise Godly Children in a Secular World: http://crossexamined.org/5-things-christian-parents-must-do-to-raise-godly-children-in-a-secular-world/
  2. Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/
  3. Do I have to belong to a church to be a Christian? | CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: http://carm.org/do-I%20have-to-belong-to-a-church-to-be-a-christian
  4. God’s Hiddenness Is Intended to Provoke Us | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/gods-hiddenness-is-intended-to-provoke-us/
  5. Pro-life Persuasion Always Succeeds | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/article/pro-life-persuasion-always-succeeds#.WHAgdMtlDqB
  6. 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Christian Apologists – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/5-new-years-resolutions-christian-apologists/
  7. Opinions or Truth: Which Shapes You? – BELLATOR CHRISTI: https://pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/opinions-or-truth-which-shapes-you/
  8. Six Fossil Timers Stun Secular Scientists | The Institute for Creation Research: http://www.icr.org/article/9753
  9. Blinded by evolutionary brainwashing – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/ainsley-chalmers-interview
  10. If Naturalistic Evolution Is True, People Are Not Equal | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/blog/if-naturalistic-evolution-true-people-are-not-equal#.WHE1d8tlDqB
  11. Atheist Astrophysicist Explains Her Journey To Jesus – Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/atheist-astrophysicist-explains-her-journey-to-jesus/
  12. Popular Atheist Blogger, Leah Libresco, Converts to Christianity – Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/popular-atheist-blogger-leah-libresco-converts-christianity/
  13. New Report Lists 50 Hardest Countries To Be A Christian In- Muslim Countries Make 9 Of The Top Ten And 75% Overall | Walid Shoebat: http://shoebat.com/2017/01/11/new-report-lists-50-hardest-countries-to-be-a-christian-in-muslim-countries-make-9-of-the-top-ten-and-75-overall/
  14. Christians the most persecuted group in world for second year: Study | Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/06/christians-most-persecuted-group-in-world-for-second-year-study.html
  15. “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.” | Denny Burk: http://www.dennyburk.com/i-got-gay-married-i-got-gay-divorced-i-regret-both/
  16. An Explanation of “Worldview” | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/blog/explanation-worldview#.WHV2E8tlDqB
  17. 5 Royal Problems with MacroEvolution | CrossExamined Podcast: http://player.subsplash.com/xfn4kbl
  18. On the Origin of Human Mitochondrial DNA Differences, New Generation Time Data Both Suggest a Unified Young-Earth Creation Model and Challenge the Evolutionary Out-of-Africa Model: https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/mitochondrial-dna/origin-human-mitochondrial-dna-differences-new-generation-time-data-both-suggest-unified-young-earth/
  19. Was Hitler a Christian? http://www.equip.org/article/was-hitler-a-christian/
  20. Twelve Points that Prove Christianity is True: http://www.lifestyleofpeace.com/2016/12/twelve-points-that-prove-christianity.html

“He made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. “Every man is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including the tribe of his inheritance — the LORD Almighty is his name.  Jeremiah 51:15-19

Blessings to you all!

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 (1-5-2017)

Good morning beloved of God,

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  (1 John 3:1a)  The Bible tells us in many places that we are truly in a family – the family of God (e.g. Eph 2:19).  In the same way that you would defend your earthly father and family when attacked or maligned, so also, you should be prepared to defend your heavenly father and family (the substance of your faith).  Here are some links that will aid you in that endeavor:

  1. 5 Attitude Changes That Will Transform Your Christian Parenting in the New Year: http://crossexamined.org/5-attitude-changes-will-transform-christian-parenting-new-year/
  2. 3 Big Reasons To Believe God Exists – Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/3-big-reasons-believe-god-exists/
  3. 3 SIMPLE WAYS TO DEBUNK RELATIVISM, SKEPTICISM, AND MATERIALISM: http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/3-simple-ways-to-debunk-relativism-skepticism-and-materialism/4747/
  4. Why These 66 Books? We believe in the 39 books of the Old Testament, because the Lord Jesus Christ affirmed the Old Testament. And we believe in the 27 books of the New Testament, because the Lord Jesus Christ authorized His apostles to write the New Testament. https://www.tms.edu/preachersandpreaching/why-these-66-books/
  5. 5 Pieces of News That Show Global Warming Still Isn’t Happening The Way Leftists Say | Daily Wire: http://www.dailywire.com/news/11977/5-pieces-news-show-global-warming-still-isnt-aaron-bandler
  6. Mark Zuckerberg says he’s no longer an atheist, believes ‘religion is very important’ – The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/12/30/mark-zuckerberg-says-hes-no-longer-an-atheist-believes-religion-is-very-important/
  7. Democrats’ Religion Problem – The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/democrats-have-a-religion-problem/510761/
  8. Ligonier series from RC Sproul on various differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism:
    1. “Scripture and Tradition, Part 1” from Ligonier Ministries: http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/scripture-and-tradition-part-1-dec-2016/
    2. “Scripture and Tradition, Part 2” from Ligonier Ministries: http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/scripture-and-tradition-part-2-dec-2016/
    3. “Papal Infallibility, Part 1” from Ligonier Ministries: http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/papal-infallibility-part-1-dec-2016/
  9. Are We Really Catholic Bashing? http://www.reachingcatholics.org/catholic_bashing.html
  10. Thinking Clearly, Listening Well | Andy Bannister: http://www.andybannister.net/thinking-clearly-listening-well/
  11. A Dialogue on the Relationship of Apologetics and Philosophy to Evangelism – drcone.com: http://www.drcone.com/2014/10/23/a-dialogue-on-the-relationship-between-apologetics-philosophy-and-evangelism/
  12. “Debunking Christianity” Writer Becomes Christian Because Of Evidence – Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/debunking-christianity-writer-becomes-christian-evidence/
  13. Jesus vs Muhammad: 33 Striking Differences – Reasons for Jesus: http://reasonsforjesus.com/jesus-vs-muhammad-33-striking-differences/
  14. Did God make pathogenic viruses? – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/did-god-make-pathogenic-viruses
  15. Plants Add More Greenhouse Gas: http://www.creationmoments.com/radio/transcripts/plants-add-more-greenhouse-gas-0
  16. Being a Public Intellectual for Christ – Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.: https://douglasgroothuis.com/2016/09/12/being-a-public-intellectual-for-christ/
  17. Epic Failure: My Biggest Evangelism Mistake: http://crossexamined.org/epic-failure-my-biggest-evangelism-mistake/
  18. Prove God Exists | Whattaya Do? http://www.newyorkapologetics.com/prove-god-exists-whattaya-do/
  19. He Is Risen: Historical Evidence That Jesus Rose From The Dead: http://reasonsforjesus.com/risen-historical-evidence-jesus-rose-dead/
  20. A Christian Defense against Atheism: https://sjthomason.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/a-christian-defense-against-atheism/
  21. The Danger of Belief “In” Without Belief “That”: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/the-danger-of-belief-in-without-belief-that/

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  1 Peter 1:14

Blessings to you all,

Steve

mid-week apologetics booster (12-8-2016)

Good morning friends,

In the midst of this busy season, let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas:

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Here are some links to assist you in making the case for your Christian worldview and answering those who oppose it (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Cor. 10:5):

  1. Cerebral Faith: Logical Fallacy Series — Part 20: Appeal To Ridicule: http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2016/07/logical-fallacy-series-part-20-appeal.html
  2. Researchers Have Found the Oldest Known Manuscript of Leviticus – Jonathan Morrow: http://www.jonathanmorrow.org/researchers-have-found-the-oldest-known-manuscript-of-leviticus/
  3. Simple Questions About Christians in the Workplace | National Review: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/442641/simple-questions-about-christians-workplace
  4. Ministering to Mormons in Utah Day 5 – Biblical Worldview Academy: http://biblicalworldviewacademy.org/ministering-to-mormons-in-utah-day-5/
  5. Why I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist: http://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/Why-I-don-t-have-enough-faith-to-be-an-atheist
  6. SES Veritas Player | Day 1: The Existence of God: http://subsplash.com/veritasplayer/v/2d5e0b2
  7. Apologetics and the Role of Plausibility Structures: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/apologetics-and-the-role-of-plausibility-structures/
  8. Truthbomb Apologetics: Video: Answering Atheists by Abdu Murray: http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2016/11/video-answering-atheists-by-abdu-murray.html
  9. Huge sections of the KJV Bible that Joseph Smith just copied into the Book of Mormon: http://www.mormonismdisproved.org/plagiarism.html
  10. Christian Essentials Online (systematic theology) – Wayne Grudem messages (mp3 with study outlines): http://www.christianessentialssbc.com/messages
  11. Accounting for the Origin of Life, Paul Davies Recognizes the Role of “Software”: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/12/accounting_for067461.html
  12. 5 Reasons to Share Your Faith: http://www.churchleaders.com/youth/youth-leaders-articles/164712-greg-stier-5-reasons-share-your-faith-in-2013.html
  13. Jesus Is A Myth, Just Like President Kennedy: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/jesus-is-a-myth-just-like-president-kennedy/
  14. “180” Movie – Abortion. Is it a woman’s choice? Or is it murder? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI
  15. Perspectives on Louie Giglio, the Homosexual Issue and What It Means to Be a Christ-Follower in This Culture: http://www.epm.org/blog/2013/Jan/14/perspectives-louie-giglio
  16. Centre for Intelligent Design Lecture 2011 by Stephen Meyer on ‘Signature in the Cell’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NbluTDb1Nfs
  17. 5 Threats Of Demanding Certainty To Change Your Beliefs: http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/5-threats-of-demanding-certainty-to.html
  18. As God Is Man May Be? http://www.mrm.org/lorenzo-snow-couplet
  19. Crop Circles as an ID Test: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/01/crop_circles_as068691.html
  20. The Difference Between “Belief That” and “Belief In” (< 3 min video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCoaYAovZAE&feature=youtu.be&a
  21. When are we human enough to matter: Debate b/w Professor Malcolm Potts and Mr. Scott Klusendorf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsC6ZfTHoL4
  22. When Does Personhood Begin? Part I: http://prolifephilosophy.blogspot.com/2012/07/when-does-personhood-begin.html
  23. Witnessing for Christ: Spiritual conversation starters: https://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/assess.htm
  24. Witnessing: Spiritual conversation starter questions: https://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/starters.htm
  25. Faith steps: 8 tips to talking about Jesus: https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/share-the-gospel/evangelism-principles/faith-steps-8-tips-talking-about-jesus.html
  26. Starting a Conversation about Jesus | CBN.com: http://www1.cbn.com/youth/starting-a-conversation-about-jesus
  27. BibleForums Christian Message Board: http://bibleforums.org/showthread.php/130604-Bringing-God-up-in-conversation
  28. Coaching Center – Turning the Conversation to Christ: http://www.gocampus.org/modx/index.php?id=247
  29. The Entire ‘LGBT’ Narrative Just Crumbled | The Stream: https://stream.org/entire-lgbt-narrative-just-crumbled/
  30. Never Read a Bible Verse | Greg Koukl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PHs_9vX20Y
  31. Case-Making 101: How does the Bible compare to other ancient documents? http://truthfaithandreason.com/case-making-101-how-does-the-bible-compare-to-other-ancient-documents/
  32. To Witness Like Jesus, Use Logic and Reason: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/12/to-witness-like-jesus-use-logic-and.html
  33. Is Spiritual Truth a Matter of Opinion? Open Letter to a Relativist: http://crossexamined.org/is-spiritual-truth-a-matter-of-opinion-an-open-letter-to-a-relativist/
  34. Whale evolution fraud: http://creation.com/whale-evolution-fraud
  35. Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes: The Intellectual Cowardice behind ‘Agnostic Atheists’: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2016/12/the-intellectual-cowardice-behind.html
  36. Myth of Neutrality and a Prejudicial Challenge – the pretended neutrality fallacy: http://theophilus-defendingthefaith.blogspot.com/2016/11/myth-of-neutrality-and-prejudicial.html
  37. The Gospel According to Peanuts – Larry Alex Taunton: http://larryalextaunton.com/blog/the-gospel-according-to-peanuts/
  38. Watch these 6 free Christian films online: http://www.fullyfreefilms.com/
  39. Ohio Senate Passes Bill to Ban All Abortions After an Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/12/06/ohio-senate-passes-bill-to-ban-all-abortions-after-an-unborn-babys-heartbeat-begins/
  40. 84 Confirmed Facts in the Last 16 Chapters of the Book of Acts: http://truthbomb.blogspot.com/2012/01/84-confirmed-facts-in-last-16-chapters.html
  41. The State of Climate Science: No Justification for Extreme Policies: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2016/04/the-state-of-climate-science-no-justification-for-extreme-policies
  42. Does the Cumulative Case for Design Point to a Divine Designer? | Cold Case Christianity: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/does-the-cumulative-case-for-design-point-to-a-divine-designer/
  43. Further Reflections on the Belief That “All Sins Are Equal”: It’s More Widespread Than You Think – Canon Fodder: http://michaeljkruger.com/further-reflections-on-the-belief-that-all-sins-are-equal-its-more-widespread-than-you-think
  44. Belief in Christ Is a Conclusion, Not a Delusion: http://www.gospel-life.net/belief-in-christ-is-a-conclusion-not-a-delusion/

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself ; for you who judge practice the same things.  Romans 2:1

Blessings

The Reasons Why I’m not a Five Point Calvinist

First of all I think that many of the arguments for Five Point Calvinism commit the “fallacy of sweeping generalization”, which is applying a general principle as if it were a universal rule, or the “fallacy of hasty generalization”, which is drawing a generalization from too few specific examples.

For example just because Paul was called against his will with a light from heaven and immediately turned 180 degrees from his original direction (see Acts 9:1-20), does not mean that everyone is converted in that way.  God has the power to do whatever He wants, but it appears that He does not always work in that way. Also in 2 Timothy 2:25 when it says to pray “that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth”, it doesn’t mean that the only way a man can repent is by God granting it to him.  In Acts 17:30, Paul tells us that “God commands all men everywhere to repent”. Yet, although God wants all men to repent, and all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth and God, it is an irrefutable truth that not all men do repent, nor do they come to a knowledge of the truth, and as a result are not saved.  Jesus clearly taught this in Matthew 7:13-14:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

As well as his talk in Matthew 13:18-23 about the parable of the sower and the four soils:

Hear then the parable of the sower.  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Only one of the four soils represents that of a saved person. At least two of the other four soils look to be saved, but in fact are not saved.

Here are the specific problems I have with the following Five Points of Calvinism as represented by the acronym T.U.L.I.P.

  1. T (total depravity) – I agree with this point, so long as it is defined properly. This does not mean that man is as bad as he could possibly be but, rather, as RC Sproul says that fallenness, original sin, depravity has affected every aspect of man.
  2. U (Unconditional Election) – well it is actually conditional, not unconditional. The condition stated in God’s word is faith. John 1:12 clearly says this:Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of GodNotice the order – Receive, Believe, Become. Also, Ephesians 2:8:      For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

    By the way, when it says “it is a gift of God” in that verse, “it” refers to the grace, not the faith.

    Additionally, why is salvation pictured as a ‘gift’ (Romans 6:23)?  Gifts must be received (accepted) and opened in order to benefit the recipient.  If you left your Christmas gifts under the tree and never opened them, would they be of any benefit to you?    Are you doing any kind of works to earn your gift by receiving it and opening it?  No.  On the other hand, if the person handed you the gift, and you handed them back a $100 bill to pay them back for the cost of the gift, that would be an offense to the giver.  Same thing with salvation – it is not a “works salvation” to decide or choose to receive a gift and open it.  It is still by grace alone, through faith alone.  I liked this quote given by Dr. D. James Kennedy in a sermon on faith “Faith leads to justification + good works”.

  3. L (Limited Atonement) – this is clearly refuted by 1 John 2:1b-2:Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
  4. I (Irresistible Grace) – This is refuted again by Jesus’ Parables teaching that not everyone is saved although God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9):This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4)He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9)Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (Ezek. 18:23)I do not find the argument convincing that God has “2 wills” and yes, I have read John Piper’s article on the 2 wills of God. I’ve also read a comprehensive, point by point rebuttal to the Piper article which I find more convincing.Paul even tells us in at least 2 places that people are active in refusing to believe:For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18-19)

    They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved (2 Thess. 2:10b)

  5. P (Perseverance of the Saints) – I agree with that one. All truly saved people will persevere to the end.  Jesus said “those who endure to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).  He also said “By standing firm you will gain life” (Luke 21:19).  Paul further clarified how we stand firm “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:21)

So, then, how can I reconcile this view with all the many Scriptures that say that only the elect will be saved and that God predestines only some to be saved?

I think there are at least 2 possible ways to make sense of this:

  1. Election is talking about “corporate election”. God has elected those who will believe in Christ (also known as “the Church”) to be saved.  For example, when Paul is talking to the Colossians, he says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people…” (Col. 3:12a), he could be talking just about the church.  Or when he says “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…” (Eph. 1:4), the ‘us’ could refer to the church (the believers in Christ).
  2. He could be choosing individuals based on His foreknowledge that those individuals will believe. Romans 8:29 seems to indicate this: “For those God foreknew he also predestined…”.  Acts 17 seems to indicate that God places us where we are in this world, so that we can find him: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27)

It seems like most of the Christians I know are Calvinist leaning.  It is tough because it causes contention in Bible studies and fellowship, but I know that I will be shoulder to shoulder with my Calvinist brothers and sisters praising our amazing God for all the ages to come in His glorious heaven and we’ll probably be laughing at our earthly selves thinking about all those hours we spent writing, discussing (and sometimes arguing) about how someone comes to believe the truth and be saved!

mid-week apologetics booster (10-20-2016)

Good morning friends,

I’m back after my vacation and feeling refreshed and relaxed!  Here are some links for you to look at:

  1. French gvmt announces plan to criminalize websites opposing abortion: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/french-gvmt-intends-to-obstruct-websites-offering-negative-information-abou
  2. Christians and Donald Trump: Our Meeting with Him: http://crossexamined.org/christians-donald-trump-meeting/
  3. Comparison Grid of Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christianity: https://carm.org/comparison-grid
  4. It takes guts for celebrities to be open about their faith. We should support them: http://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/It-takes-guts-for-celebrities-to-be-open-about-their-faith.-We-should-support-them?j
  5. A Sure Word: Textual criticism made amazingly easy: http://rkbentley.blogspot.com/2016/10/textual-criticism-made-amazingly-easy.html
  6. Challenge: Christianity Is Absurd | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/blog/challenge-christianity-is-absurd#.WAbtjBllDqB
  7. Clues That Corroborate the Traditional Authorship of the Gospels – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2016/09/09/clues-that-corroborate-the-traditional-authorship-of-the-gospels/
  8. Looking for Life on Enceladus: http://www.creationmoments.com/radio/transcripts/looking-life-enceladus
  9. How Did Judas Die? https://answersingenesis.org/contradictions-in-the-bible/how-did-judas-die/
  10. Atheists Say Darwinism Means Life is Meaningless, But Their Behavior Shows They Know Better: https://stream.org/atheists-say-darwinism-means-life-meaningless/
  11. Old Testament Believers: How Were They Saved? http://www.alisachilders.com/blog/old-testament-believers-in-god-before-jesus-were-they-saved

The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:5-8

 

mid-week apologetics booster (10-6-2016)

Good morning,

First, a house-keeping item – I will not be sending out this booster next week.  Rather than encouraging you with apologetics concerning God and His creation, Lord willing, I will be experiencing His creation in a place called Kauai!  So, you’ll hear from me again in 2 weeks.

Now, on to the good stuff…

  1. David Silverman Denies That The Holocaust Was Objectively Wrong in a debate with Frank Turek: https://youtu.be/ybiFlsLZU-A?t=2m01s
  2. New Bill Would Repeal Johnson Amendment, Protect Pastors’ Rights to Endorse Candidates | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/09/29/new-bill-would-repeal-johnson-amendment-protect-pastors-rights-to-endorse-candidates/
  3. How Christianity Created the Free Society | Public Discourse: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/09/17405/
  4. A Call to Repentance & Renewal – An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America: http://americanevangelicals.com/
  5. Did Man Get Here By Evolution Or By Creation? Chapter 3 Does Life Come from Nonliving Matter? http://www.strictlygenteel.co.uk/evolution67/evolution3.html
  6. Five Questions About Evolution that Charles Darwin Can’t Answer: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1579-five-questions-about-evolution-that-charles-darwin-cant-answer
  7. Holy Rebel: http://dangreenup.com/holy-rebel/
  8. Evolutionary dilemma – The more we know about DNA, the tougher things get for modern Darwinism: http://creation.com/evolutionary-dilemma
  9. Help! My Pastor Became An Atheist! https://clearlens.org/2016/09/28/help-my-pastor-became-an-atheist/
  10. Isn’t It Possible That The Jesus Story Was A Conspiracy (unfortunately, this is poor audio)? “Anything is possible, but not everything is reasonable.” A student alludes to the DaVinci Code, saying that it was put forth in the book/movie that Jesus’ follow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XV7ajMLYO4
  11. The Imminent Death of Darwinism and the Rise of Intelligent Design: http://www.icr.org/article/imminent-death-darwinism-rise-intelligent-design/
  12. The Danger of Treating the Word “Disciple” as a Noun Instead of a Verb: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/the-danger-of-treating-the-word-disciple-as-a-noun-instead-of-a-verb/
  13. How Christ’s Incarnation Differs from the Hindu Idea of Avatar: https://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/how-christs-incarnation-differs-from-the-hindu-idea-of-avatar/
  14. The Free Thinking Argument: http://www.reasonablefaithbelfast.com/blog/-the-free-thinking-argument
  15. Canyon creation – CMI Mobile: http://creation.mobi/a/237
  16. Biblical Contradictions are as Scarce as Hen’s Teeth – Southern by His Grace: http://southernbyhisgrace.com/biblical-contradictions-are-as-scarce-as-hens-teeth/
  17. Evidence for Design Grows Like a New Patch of Kudzu – Southern by His Grace: http://southernbyhisgrace.com/evidence-for-design-grows-like-a-new-patch-of-kudzu/
  18. “I Just Don’t Have Your Faith” | Saints and Sceptics: http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/i-just-dont-have-your-faith/
  19. Cold-Case Christianity for Kids: Investigate Jesus with a Real Detective (new book for kids by J. Warner Wallace): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/cold-case-christianity-for-kids-j-warner-wallace/1123269143/2675127321420?st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Marketplace+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP3038&k_clickid=3×3038
  20. What Is the Essential Truth About the Holy Spirit? (J. Warner Wallace podcast): http://pleaseconvinceme.libsyn.com/what-is-the-essential-truth-about-the-holy-spirit?tdest_id=90058
  21. The Problem with “Friendship Evangelism”: http://www.missioalliance.org/problem-friendship-evangelism/
  22. Creationist receives six-figure legal settlement from public university: http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/29337/
  23. Evidence of the Resurrection Accepted Even by Atheist New Testament Scholars: https://cyberpenance.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/__trashed-3/

Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools. Proverbs 16:22

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (9-29-2016)

Good morning friends and fellow co-heirs!

I hope this morning finds you in good health, both physically and spiritually!  Below are some links for you to take a look at.

  1. Did Jesus Commend Faith That Is Blind? | CrossExamined.org: http://crossexamined.org/jesus-commend-faith-blind/
  2. Three Quran Verses Every Christian Should Know: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Nu6EabQD8
  3. Christians ‘Hung On A Cross Over Fire’, Steamrollered And Crushed To Death In North Korea | Christian News on Christian Today: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christians.hung.on.a.cross.over.fire.steamrollered.and.crushed.to.death.in.north.korea/96190.htm
  4. Did Jesus Drink Alcoholic Wine? | Tough Questions Answered: http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2016/09/21/did-jesus-drink-alcoholic-wine/
  5. Failed Atheist Explanations for a Beginning to the Universe. | James Bishop’s Theology & Apologetics: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/failed-atheist-explanations-for-a-beginning-to-the-universe/
  6. C-3PO Crashes a Pentecostal Revival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhGH4HaylaU
  7. Three Levels of Heaven? James R. White: http://www.equip.org/article/three-levels-of-heaven/
  8. Podcasts you should know about (as reported by Apologetics Minion):
    1. https://apologeticsminion.com/2016/06/21/podcasts-you-should-know-about-part-1/
    2. https://apologeticsminion.com/2016/07/04/podcasts-you-should-know-about-part-2/
    3. https://apologeticsminion.com/2016/07/21/podcasts-you-should-know-part-3/
    4. https://apologeticsminion.com/2016/09/10/podcasts-you-should-know-part-4/
    5. https://apologeticsminion.com/2016/09/24/podcasts-you-should-know-part-5/
  9. Impact events (quote from “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist”): Some skeptics may think that a 15- to 40-year gap between the life of Christ and the writings about him is too wide for the testimony to be reliable. But they are mistaken. Think about events that occurred 15 to 40 years ago. When historians write about those events, we don’t say, “Oh, that’s impossible! No one can remember events from that long ago!” Such skepticism is clearly unwarranted. Historians today write accurately about events in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s by consulting their own memories, those of other eyewitnesses, and any written sources from the time. This process is the same one the New Testament writers used to record their documents. Like a good reporter, Luke interviewed eyewitnesses. And as we’ll see in the next chapter, some New Testament writers were eyewitnesses themselves. They could remember 15- to 40-year-old events quite easily, just as you can. Why can you remember certain events vividly from 15 to 40 years ago and (if you’re old enough) even further back? You may be able to remember certain events because they made a great emotional impact on you. (In fact, those of us who are “over the hill” can remember some events from 30 years ago better than those from 30 minutes ago!) Where were you and what were you doing when President Kennedy was assassinated? When the Challenger exploded? When the second plane hit the tower? Why can you remember those events so well? Because they made a deep emotional impact on you. Since an event like the Resurrection certainly would have made a deep emotional impact on the New Testament writers and the other eyewitnesses they may have consulted, it’s easy to see why the history of Jesus could be easily recalled many years later, especially in a culture with an established reliance on oral testimony (more on this below). Furthermore, if the major works of the New Testament are eyewitness accounts written within two generations of the events, then they are not likely to be legend. Why? Because historical research indicates that a myth cannot begin to crowd out historical facts while the eyewitnesses are still alive. For this reason, Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White calls the mythological view of the New Testament “unbelievable.” William Lane Craig writes, “The tests show that even two generations is too short to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical fact.” Inside of those two generations, eyewitnesses are still around to correct the errors of historical revisionists.
  10. How Do You Develop a Public Speaking Ministry? – Sean McDowell: http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/how-do-you-develop-a-public-speaking-ministry
  11. I’m Sorry! But the Church Needs Apologetics: http://www.faithbeyondbelief.ca/2015/09/03/im-sorry-but-the-church-needs-apologetics/
  12. Scientists Discover Camouflaged Dinosaur | Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/09/26/scientists-discover-camouflaged-dinosaur/
  13. Transgender Identities Are Not Always Permanent | Public Discourse: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/09/17753/
  14. Postmodern Realities is a podcast from the Christian Research Institute and the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL. Each podcast features in-depth conversations with our JOURNAL authors: http://www.equip.org/crj-pmr-podcast/

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

Blessings to you all!

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

Good morning friends,

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

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

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

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

Many ways seem right…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

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

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

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

Good morning followers of Christ!

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

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

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

Blessings

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

Good morning friends,

Here are your weekly links:

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

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

Blessings to you all!

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

Good morning everyone,

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

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

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

Blessings to you all!

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

Good morning friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good morning,

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

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

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

mid-week apologetics booster (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

My Trip to Australia

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

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

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

Australia From Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mid-week apologetics booster (4-14-2016)

Co-heirs with Christ,

As you live out your Christian life the rest of this week, some of this content may help you respond (with gentleness and respect) as you are challenged about various aspects of your Christian worldview:

  1. Five Practices that Make Stronger Christians: https://worldviewofjesus.com/2015/04/05/five-practices-that-make-stronger-christians/
  2. Persuasion – the Centre Piece of Effective Evangelism: http://www.bethinking.org/apologetics/persuasion-the-centre-piece-of-effective-evangelism
  3. Is Spiritual Truth a Matter of Opinion? An Open Letter to a Relativist: http://christianmomthoughts.com/is-spiritual-truth-a-matter-of-opinion-an-open-letter-to-a-relativist/
  4. Not in a Million Years: http://www.amazingfacts.org/news-and-features/af-blog/article/id/13670/t/not-in-a-million-years
  5. Why Doesn’t God Prove He Exists? Because It Wouldn’t Help Disbelief: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2016/02/why-doesnt-god-prove-he-exists-because.html
  6. Talking Baseball with Your Enemies: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/talking-baseball-with-your-enemies
  7. Paul Washer: Do you TRULY know the Lord? Powerful Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObjG_dr3lrU
  8. Christian student expelled from university for quoting Bible on homosexuality loses appeal: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christian.student.expelled.from.university.for.quoting.bible.on.homosexuality.loses.appeal/83584.htm
  9. Who Is an Evangelical? Even though I think this was written by an unbeliever, I think the 4 points are accurate: http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/04/06/who-is-an-evangelical/
  10. The New United States: A “Christian Nation”? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2016/04/the-new-united-states-a-christian-nation/
  11. First sentence of the New England Confederacy May 1643 – “Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace”: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/art1613.asp
  12. Here Is The Inevitable Next Step in Our Culture’s Quest to Redefine Marriage: http://michaeljkruger.com/here-is-the-inevitable-next-step-in-our-cultures-quest-to-redefine-marriage
  13. The Kalam Cosmological Argument: https://youtu.be/6CulBuMCLg0
  14. The Fine Tuning of the Universe: https://youtu.be/UpIiIaC4kRA
  15. Amazing ancient Chinese treasure ships: http://creation.mobi/chinese-treasure-ships-confound-ark-skeptics
  16. Loving Others Without Sacrificing Conviction | Focus on the Family
    1. Part 1 of 2: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/loving-others-without-sacrificing-conviction-pt1
    2. Part 2 of 2: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/loving-others-without-sacrificing-conviction-pt2
  17. Pastor Jeff Durbin of Apologia Church in Tempe Arizona 43 minute video “Help me understand the Trinity”: https://youtu.be/ZOwjvILiSms
  18. Pastor John McArthur says that hell must be talked about whenever you preach the gospel “The Truth About Hell (Selected Scriptures)”: https://youtu.be/AVzbh_dLq3s

Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.  John 5:22-23

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

Good afternoon friends,

It is Saturday morning here in Australia, and now that the work week is over, I’m finally sending you out your weekly apologetics related content.  Here they are:

  1. Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible? https://answersingenesis.org/the-word-of-god/nature-67th-book-of-bible/
  2. If His name was Yeshua, why do we call Him Jesus? http://www.gotquestions.org/Yeshua-Jesus.html
  3. What If It’s All True! | SermonAudio.com (Alistair Begg examining the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus): http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?m=t&s=32916110021797
  4. Frank Turek deals with the questions of Truth, God, the Bible, and Jesus, establishing a reasonable foundation for Christianity (4 ½ minute video): https://youtu.be/rQ5s-kzT52M
  5. A Realistic Look at Global Warming: http://www.icr.org/article/9242
  6. How can I overcome sin in my Christian life? http://www.gotquestions.org/victory-over-sin.html
  7. Six Startling Contrasts Between the Bible and the Quran | PJ Media: https://pjmedia.com/faith/2016/03/28/six-startling-contrasts-between-the-bible-and-the-quran/?singlepage=true
  8. Don’t Expect Your Kids To Care What The Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason To Believe It’s True: http://christianmomthoughts.com/dont-expect-your-kids-to-care-what-the-bible-says-unless-youve-given-them-reason-to-believe-its-true/
  9. What Kind of God Would Condemn People to Eternal Torment? https://answersingenesis.org/who-is-god/god-is-good/what-kind-of-god-would-condemn-people-to-eternal-torment/
  10. How to Defeat Modern Day Atheism With Three Easy Questions: https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/how-to-defeat-modern-day-atheism-with-three-easy-questions/
  11. Watch as Pro-Life Advocate Ben Shapiro Schools an Abortion Supporter During a Debate | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/03/31/watch-as-pro-life-advocate-ben-shapiro-schools-an-abortion-supporter-during-a-debate/
  12. “Question the Answer” — in Every Field but Evolution – Evolution News & Views: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/03/question_the_an102734.html
  13. Seven Basic Elements of the Christian Worldview: https://matgilbert.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/seven-basic-elements-of-the-christian-worldview/

To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Rev. 3:1-3

Blessings to you all