Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vocations - Veterans Day

Whenever, Veterans' Day rolls around, I am reminded of vocations (callings in our lives) and how God works through all vocations.  A proper understanding of vocations helps remind me of how God works through the military of our country to do his work in the world, as well as other country's militaries.   know that some Christians oppose Christian involvement in any military.  I think they lack a proper understanding of vocations.  As an apologetic for the military being a vocation (calling) from God, and how Christians can faithfully serve in a military vocation, I have some quotes from Martin Luther on vocation.  They were taken from: http://trinitypartners.org/2010/07/04/luther-on-vocation/

"A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by means of his own work or office must benefit and serve every other, that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, even as all the members of the body serve one another…”
 
“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God…We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow”


“Monastic vows rest on the false assumption that there is a special calling, a vocation, to which superior Christians are invited to observe the counsels of perfection while ordinary Christians fulfil only the commands; but there simply is no special religious vocation since the call of God comes to each at the common tasks.”

“The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that service to God takes place only in a church and by the works done therein…The whole world could abound with the services to the Lord, Gottesdienste – not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field”

God bless you Veterans this Veterans Day Weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You will die! - One approach to Christian apologetics.

Dear readers, whoever you are. 

This isn't exactly what one usually would consider when they think of defending the Christian faith; the statement, "You will die."  It's not pretty.  It's not nice.  We try not to think about it.  We try to push death out of our minds.  That's why they call them casualties and not deaths!  That's why they call them viruses, or the bird flu, or the swine flu, and not plagues!  We don't want to think about death!

To quote the Black Sabbath song, "After Forever," "When you think about death do you keep your cool?" 

Well to quote the song more, "I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of our days."  The answer in that song by Black Sabbaath of course is "Jesus Christ is the only way to love."

I know a pastor who sets up shop at UCLA.  He shares the good news of salvation with people.  However, if a person rejects the news.  If they are complacent, if they are ambivalent, he challenges them to consider the alternatives... what if there is no God, then you die and you are in the ground.  What if there is a God?  And you have rejected him? What if that God is Jesus?  What then?  Are you so sure... do you keep your cool when you think about death?

He told one student, "Well, just remember you are going to die."  And the student left the conversation at that, but came back to him a month later and said, "Do you remember the last thing you said to me?"  The pastor did not.  The student said it had troubled him ever sense talking to the pastor.  He finally came face to face with his own personal death, and was he so sure... was he so certain that he would be reincarnated as his faith taught.  The pastor shared, Jesus will save you from that death if you trust in him and turn to him for salvation.

Part of apologetics is just properly explaining the Christian faith, and God's Word can be divided into two camps, Law, and Gospel.  God's Law shows us that we are sinners, that God's wrath is upon us and that we justly deserve his eternal punishment.  God's Gospel shows us our savior.  To learn more about Law and Gospel, click on the "What's in the Bible?" link at the top, left of this blog page and then click on the Law and Gospel article. 

So, you will die.  Worried?  Well, maybe you shouldn't be complacent?  Don't put off considering what lies beyond this life.  To be fair, I'll say look to all religions, but I'd recommend looking to Christianity first, and say this because it is objective, read 1 Corinthians 15 to know what I mean. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Defending Hell #4

In Rob Bell's book, Love Wins, he presents the belief that hell is here on earth.  Hell is the pain and suffering, here, now.  This isn't a new idea that Bell is presenting. 

For example, here is a video of Ronnie James Dio talking about his views on religion, and in particularly, heaven and hell, since the name the first Black Sabbath album he was singer for was entitled, Heaven and Hell.  In this video, he explains what heaven and hell both mean to him in that song...



The answer to the existence of heaven and hell, however, shouldn't be based on the beliefs of a rock singer, or any human for that matter.  How can any of us know for certain what lies after death... unless that has been revealed to us by God.

We need to be careful to not let our own feelings and thoughts get in the way of what God has revealed to us in his Word.  What does God's Word say about the existence of hell?

Matthew 10:28 says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell."  

 A clear reading of this passage, indicates that the soul goes on after the death of the body.  In fact, there is the indication that the soul will be reunited with the body in the future and both will be in hell. 

This of course is not good news.  This is God's law that brings wrath and judgment.  However, there is freedom from sin, death, devil, and hell.  If you don't know John 3:16, please look it up.  If you have doubts about God's Word, look through this blog, look through the articles connected to the "What's in the Bible?"  and the "Why Believe the Bible?" links at the top left of this blog. 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I have Learned from Alice Cooper #1

I was in Best Buy yesterday evening, and I was shocked to see that Alice Cooper has a new nightmare.  A long, long time ago, 35 years is what I'm reading on the Internet, Alice released the album, Welcome to my Nightmare!  Now, the revisit to his nightmare is entitled, Welcome 2 my Nightmare.





 How does this fit with apologetics?  I could go several routes...


1.  I could talk about defending the faith, by defending our hearts.  Will listening to Cooper, lead Christians away from Jesus.  Short answer: Maybe.  Depends on the Christian. 


or


2.  The Alice Cooper is a Christian route.  Yet, how does that fit into      Christian apologetics?


I'm going with route two, by quoting Alice!







Despite maintaining his rocker, horror style, of which an entire maze has been created based on Cooper's music at this year's Universal Studios Night of Horror for Halloween, Cooper says, "My life is dedicated to follow Christ."

However, he has purposefully kept from becoming known for being a Christian!  He says, the focus should be on Christ and not on Alice, a rock singer who can't save anyone.

Yet...

Alice says, "I've had a couple of people that were friends of mine that I've talked to that have vocally said they have [accepted Christ]. I have talked to some big stars about this, some really horrific characters ... and you'd be surprised. The ones that you would think are the furthest gone are the ones that are more apt to listen."

This is the first connection to Christian apologetics I want to make.  Alice spoke with his friends, and other stars that he has had connection with through his profession.  I think Christians are certainly called to sow seed, to spread the Gospel, but at the same time, we can lose a lot of time by going around and around in circles (arguing if you will) with people who are far, far, far from listening to the message of Christ.  Cooper reminds me of who is the most likely to listen - who to spend time with sharing the Gospel - the horrific characters.  The religious and those who got their act together in their own mind, likely won't listen, because to them, they don't need Christ.  Jesus spoke of fertile soil to receive the word of the Gospel - the people we think are the furthest gone, are likely the ones whose hearts are made up of fertile soil.  They've been tilled through the hard knocks of their own sinful actions and the persecution of the "righteous" that they are open to listen to the message of unbiased, unconditional love that comes through Jesus.  

More on Alice to come...





Thursday, September 15, 2011

Humans and Dinosaurs #3

If God created all sea, air, and land creatures on the fifth and sixth days of creation, with humans being created on the sixth day also, then yes, humans and dinosaurs coexisted at one point in history.  I say this because the penalty for eating the forbidden fruit in the garden was death.  Romans 5 says that "Just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." My reading of Romans 8:19-25 indicates that the death that occurred in men after the fall also fell upon all of creation.  All of creation was subjected to frustration as a result of Adam.  I don't believe Scripture teaches death before the Fall, if you know verses that teach this, please let me know. 

As long as men and dinosaurs coexisted, wouldn't there be evidence of their coexistence?


Let's take a look at one example.  The Lindworm!  The Lindworm is found within Eurpoean mythology. 

Were Lindworms real?  Would they classify as dinosaurs today?


Historically, Marco Polo, reported seeing Lindworms in Central Asia.  Here's the quote from Marco Polo:

.. snakes and great serpents of such vast size as to strike fear into those who see them, and so hideous that the very account of them must excite the wonder of those to hear it. ... You may be assured that some of them are ten paces in length; some are more and some less. And in bulk they are equal to a great cask, for the bigger ones are about ten palms in girth. They have two forelegs near the head, but for foot nothing but a claw like the claw of a hawk or that of a lion. The head is very big, and the eyes are bigger than a great loaf of bread. The mouth is large enough to swallow a man whole, and is garnished with great [pointed] teeth. And in short they are so fierce-looking and so hideously ugly, that every man and beast must stand in fear and trembling of them. There are also smaller ones, such as of eight paces long, and of five, and of one pace only. (The Travels of Marco Polo, Ch. XLIX)
To read the entre chapter from The Travels of Marco Polo, click here. He goes into detail on how they are caught and how they are very valuable, because they are used in making a medicine - very much a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 
 There is a lot more present on the Lindworm at the following sites:

http://www.monstropedia.org/index.php?title=Lindworm
http://www.book-of-thoth.com/thebook/index.php/Lindworm
http://dragonsinn.net/fict-lindworm.htm
These sites aren't well cited, but I'm sure that if you search for the specific details within these sites you will be able to find historical citations.  At least I posted the Marco Polo quote. 

Is the Lindwurm evidence of dinosaurs existing with humans?  What do you think?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Human and Dinosaurs #2 -The London Hammer


 What would it mean if a hammer was found in a layer of rock that ordinarily would be dated at the time of the dinosaurs?  Would that mean dinosaurs, grafted hammers.  Does anyone remember the show Dinosaurs.  According that show's fantasy, they did.  If I remember correctly, the father dinosaur in that show was a construction worker. 




If you don't know what I'm talking about there is a hammer called "The Hammer" or the "The London Hammer".   It has this name because it was found in London, Texas.  The hammer is from the Cretaceous time period - a time when human evidence should not exists according to Darwinian theory.  Of course some, people claim that this hammer, isn't actually from Cretaceous rock, such as the following two writers:

http://www.badarchaeology.com/?page_id=315
http://paleo.cc/paluxy/hammer.htm

However, some sites, take a different approach to this artifact:

The following site lists it as an unexplained and unsolved mystery of the world.  Adding to the mystery, this site says that "the quality of the iron equals or exceeds the quality of any iron found in the modern world."  Wow!  What would that mean?  Check out the summary of this artifact from Mysteries of the World (of course they also have information about aliens...): http://unexplainedmysteriesoftheworld.com/archives/the-mystery-of-the-london-artifact

"The Hammer" even hit ZME's "Ten Most Amazing Unexplained Artifacts."  From their write up, we hear that there was a team that dated the hammer to be way older than the rock formation it was discovered.  This definitely would mean people co-inhabited with dinosaurs.  Here's a quote from their site, "A team of archaeologists checked it, and as it turns out, the rock encasing the hammer was dated back more than 400 million year; the hammer itself turned out to be more than 500 million years old. Additionally, a section of the handle has begun the transformation to coal. Creationists, of course, were all over this. The hammer’s head, made of more than 96% iron, is far more pure than anything nature could have achieved without an assist from modern technology."  Read more: http://www.zmescience.com/other/most-amazing-unexplained-artifacts/#ixzz1XwaHASzl

Here is information about the hammer from the museum that houses the artifact: Creation Evidence Museum.

What do you make of this? Who do you trust? And why?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Humans and Dinosaurs #1

It's a hot topic now in my classroom; did people and dinosaurs exist at the same time?  This question has been asked in a couple of different classes in the past week.

Matt Damon would say if you think people and dinosaurs ever coexisted, you shouldn't be qualified to be president of the United States of America (near the end of the following video). 


Here's one reason why dinosaurs likely are not as old as many scientists claim (230 million years old according to this site).  Did you know that red blood cells were found within dinosaur bones?  Most scientists upon hearing this would think this is improbable, that the findings must be wrong!  Why?  Because there is no way that red blood cells could be preserved for millions of years.  There's no way they wouldn't have decayed.  The known laws and functions of science would lead them to believe they must have been decayed.  To make matters even more interesting, soft bone tissue has also been found within a T-rex bone!  Again, what?  How is this possible?

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

It's funny that when this was discovered, scientists began to think about the possibility of finding DNA and then cloning dinosaurs, just like in Jurassic Park!  Really, that's the first thing that came to mind.  Why wouldn't it come to mind that this evidence shows that dinosaurs aren't as long extinct as previously thought?  Why isn't this being addressed. 

Jurassic Park - Here we come! 

Again, if the bones are millions of years old, you would expect there to be no red blood cells, no soft tissue present.  It would have decayed and become hard minerals.  But it hasn't.  Please note, the source for this is PBS!  I didn't quote from a Christian website. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Defending Hell #3

Defending hell is a strange title for a blog post.  But from my perspective, hell is under attack.  A large number of Christians and non-Christians question the existence of hell.  And ultimately in questing the existence of hell, the existence of God is being questioned, as well as the significance of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross!  An apologetic for hell is sadly necessary. 

Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made upOne objection to the existence of hell is its duration.  Eternity?  Isn't that too long of a punishment?  Wouldn't an all-loving, merciful God believe in remediation, and not eternal condemnation?  No second-chance? 

 Let's first admit that if you believe there might be a hell and there might be a God, that God if he was able to create all things, must be greater than us.  His ways, thoughts, and actions must function on a higher plain than that of humanity.  When we start with that notion, we have to admit that God is soverign and if I don't understand his judgment against sin, it doesn't really matter. 

I also believe that from our experiences in life, we are given the ability to at least reasonable understand how God could justify eternal condemnation  of hell.  Let's consider our own prison systems.  If someone outright intentionally, murders someone we would expect them to receive a death sentence - here life in prison, or a trip down death row.  If someone rapes someone, we likely would also wish for a life sentence, although we know rapists get way less and when released are often times repeat offenders.  If someone who murdered someone gets off the hook - he cry foul!  We desire justice and we desire tat the punishment fits the crime. 

How long would it take to murder someone?  One gunshot - dead.  Murder can be instantaneous.  But how long is the penalty?  Much, much longer.  For a one second crime - one moment of stupidity, or anger, a person receives a life time of punishment.  How is that fair?  It's fair because a life was taken, and the only way to repay a life is to lose your life. 

Now think about hell?  Who is the crime against?  Sins are committed against God.  If a person lives for 30 years, that's thirty years of sinning against God.  As great a value as human life has, the value of the life of God is much greater!  So for a one second - three minute crime committed against a human, a lifelong sentence can be expected in many cases.  For lifelong crimes committed against God - how long should the crime be? 

Also, if we think about the exchange that is weighed out in penalties - a life for a life, we should consider that God is eternal.  An entire sinful life against God - wouldn't an eternal penalty fit the crime? 

But, the love of God objection is usually thrown out here.  I would have to say the love of God justifies the penalty of hell. God Father had his Son, Jesus Christ, brutally executed by the hands of his creation.  Jesus Christ on the cross, suffered the eternal penalty of hell - that doesn't make sense to me, but God is outside of time and it is possible for him to somehow suffer hell in a three hour time span.  If God the Father is willing to allow his son to serve as a substitute for us, and if Jesus Christ, his son, is willing to suffer hell for us, so we won't have to experience hell - isn't that the greatest love of all?  If he experienced hell, even though he was innocent, so we who are guilty won't have to experience hell, how can we truly object to God sentencing sinners who have rejected him from the punishment of eternal hell? 

I still don't get hell - I still don't like it, and I definitely don't want anyone to suffer it, just as God doesn't evidenced through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but my personal likes and dislikes have to be submissive and obedient to the will of God and his Word. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Defending Hell #2

In today's American culture, it has become, at least in my opinion,  politically incorrect to say someone's religion is wrong.  When it comes to religious beliefs, the spirit of the age seems to encourage a relative approach - it's all good, as long as it's good for you and it doesn't harm others and you are respectful of others' beliefs.  Respect, however, seems to be more than just showing care and a whimsical approach to sharing one's beliefs with another, respect is not saying someone else is wrong.  It's not claiming that your faith is exclusively true - bad news for any exclusive religion, including Islam. 

The result of this spirit of the age is that even within Christian circles, there is a doubt of the existence of hell.  It's become the view that love means being accepting of all ideologies, political viewpoints, religions, sexual orientations, and etc.  The thought goes, "If we can be so loving and open to accept and cherish everyone regardless of personal differences, then God should be that loving too!  An all-loving God, if he exists, wouldn't send someone to hell, because their beliefs didn't align with his."  It really shows, that we think we know more about love than God.  It shows that we think we know more about justice than he does.  How arrogant is that?  Our words, our thoughts, our beliefs, cannot trump those of God expressed in his Word. 

Some Christians have jumped on the universal salvation bandwagon.  They still claim that salvation is through Jesus, and through faith, but they allow an opportunity after death for people to come to faith in Christ!  Is this in Scripture anywhere?  Christian universalism is of course grounded in a right heart position, that no one should perish and suffer hell, which by the way is God's heart position too, in his moral will.  But in his decreed will, God allows for us to be morally free agents.  He isn't the puppet master of our souls - forcing us into a relationship with us.  So in his decreed will, he allows for humanity to reject him - to mock him - to spit on him - to trample him underfoot.  The major flipside to this is that it means God's righteous judgment upon the people who reject him.  The upshot of course is that for those who have accepted him, it wasn't forced, it's a true love relationship with the Master of the Universe! 

When this life is over, where do you want to stand on man's word, or God's.  I'd like to cite some of the verses which Bill Wiese lists in his book which show the existence of hell within the pages of the Bible. 

23 Minutes In Hell: One Man's Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment Hell: Separate Truth from Fiction and Get Your Toughest Questions Answered

Appointed or Assigned 

Luke 12:46
Revelation 21:8

Body in Hell

Proverbs 1:12
Matthew 10:28

Darkness

Job 33:28-30
Matthew 8:12
2 Peter 2:4-17

Destruction

Job 21:30
Matthew 23:33
2 Thessolonians 1:9

Eternal Separation

Proverbs 15:29
2 Thessalonians 1:9

Hell

Psalm 55:15
Matthew 16:18
Revelatoin 20:14

These are just a few of the verses, and I mean just a few, which Bill Wiese cites in his book.  For the full list, check out his book 23 Minutes in Hell.  Also check out his book, Hell: Separate Truth from Fiction and Get Your Toughest Questions Answered



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Defending Hell? #1

It may come as a shock, but there is a need for an apologetic on hell.  Seriously. 

Read the following page for more information:   Pew's Hell Survey.  According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007, only 59% of Americans believe in the existence of Hell. 

Proving hell's existence to someone who isn't a Christian, is next to impossible.  How would you do it since hell is only experienced after death, unless of course, God gives someone a vision of hell and the person recognizes the vision was from God and puts trust in that vision? 

The need for defending the existence of hell isn't necessary for the unbeliever, it's necessary for believers.  Read the link to "Pew's Hell Survey" and the percentages given indicate that there must be Christians who do not believe in the existence of hell!  From personal experience, I have heard Christians question the existence of hell based on the existence of an all-loving God.  Think Rob Bell's book, Love Wins.  Ultimately, the problem lies in our over-emphasis of certain characteristics of God.  We over focus on God's love and mercy, and we ignore or erase God's nature to be just and holy!  We forget that grace, although it is free, is not cheap!  Grace is very, very costly to God. 

G - od's
R - iches
A - t
C - hrist's
E - xpense


Here are some books on hell: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/august/5booksonhell.html


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Selling Truth for Unity #1

From Charles Colson's article, "As Long as we get Along: Selling Truth for Unity":

He quotes Bishop Lee who said, "If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy."

Colson can't think of anything more dangerous.  He explains that this is basically saying, "we can tolerate anything within the church just to keep the church together."  This reminds me of Paul when he addressed the Corinthians about the man they knew was sleeping with his father's wife.  They allowed it to happen!  We can't allow and tolerate open sin in order to avoid conflict or schism within the church.  In the case of Bishop Lee that was tolerating an openly gay man as a bishop in the Episcopal Church.  Doing so would be avoiding the prerequisites of a church leader laid out by Paul in his pastoral epistles given to Paul and Titus, as well as clear writings about the sinfulness of homosexuality and other sinful actions in Romans 1.  Paul also had to take such stands against false doctrines and teachers within the church.  Think the Judaizers and Gnostics of his day. 

Colson gives two reasons that so many Christians are selling truth for unity!  The first is money.  He says, "There is a lot at stake economically!"  If a church becomes split, who is going to pay for the pastor's salary and retirement?  Who is going to pay for the congregation's building loans?  Will someone's reputation be hurt?  The second reason he gives is that American Christians no longer take truth seriously!  As a result, we tend to think that all people of good will are "basically on the same side."

I've met many college students at UCI who believe that we're basically good and following the same path.  Some of these students grew up in the Christian church and have fallen away to religious pluralism and universalism.  Many take the stance that we cannot know the truth in any situation - even morality!  Everything is subjective and relative with personal preference being the guide and norm of our lives.  How dangerous is that?  Well, that's what you get when you shoot for unity above truth.

Colson concludes his article by saying, "It's all well and good for evangelicals to sit around and talk about "those crazy Episcapalians." But they're just reflecting what all of us do to a lesser degree.  Lee's words ought to be a sobering wake up call to all of us."

Monday, May 30, 2011

What is evil?

Everyone struggles with evil.  Everyone has been wronged, cheated, or hurt.  Everyone has wronged, cheated, or hurt someone else.  Evil is guaranteed to be an aspect of human life.

But what exactly is evil?  Is evil a substance?  Is it tangible?  Can we lay hold of it, and lift it up in our hands and say, "Here it is!  Here is evil!"?

The answer of course is no, and I think everyone would agree on this too.

So what is evil, if it's not a "stuff?"



Blindness is a lack of sight.  A tooth cavity isn't a thing either, it's also a lack of something, a lack of enamel.  Likewise evil is a lack of something; it's a lack of goodness in the will of a creature.

Defining evil in this manner can be a good Christian apologetic tool, because it shows that evil did not originate with God.  God created the world and its creatures "good."  Evil is a lack of goodness in the will of humanity.  So think of the cavity, a hole in a tooth, a lack of enamel; that's what evil is like, a hole in humanities' will, a lack of the goodness within man.

This way of defining evil is also useful because it makes the existence of evil dependent on the existence of good.  Also, how can we have a good or evil unless there is an absolute good with which to measure goodness?  If there isn't a transcendent God, then all goodness and evil is merely subjective.  All we have is humans judging each others' morals.  To even begin to speak of evil, there must be good, and there must be God. 

Of course, this definition falls short with the Bible's explanation of sin and evil.  Evil is much more active than a lack of goodness.  It's more than an inactive hole.  Our sinful nature is described as being active and waging war against our souls.  Despite its shortcomings in this area, using this definition of evil can still proof to be a helpful apologetic tool for the Christian. 

 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Is it Ok for Christians to Have Doubts?

A student of mine wanted to write an apologetics paper on the role or place of doubts in the life of a Christian.  He wanted to find an answer to the question, "Is it OK for Christians to have Doubts?"

His conclusion after reading non-Christian and Christian sources was that one will still be saved even if that person doubts his or her salvation in Christ. 

Here were his arguments:

1. Doubting your salvation is actually good!  Doubting leads one to grow spiritually and intellectually, because a doubter will want to know the answer for the doubt, and through the research can increase trust or connection with the subject he or she had doubt.  For Scriptural support, he cited 2 Cor. 13:5. 

2.  There is no reason to doubt your salvation.  Doubts show a lack of understanding, but God has revealed all that we need to know for our salvation.  "These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). 

3.  Salvation is important to any religion and every religion includes doubts as an important step to reach their goals.  Overcoming doubt in Hinduism is an important step to reaching moksha.  Buddhism calls for believers to overcome their religious doubts.  His conclusion here was, "It is important to know how other religions take care of this problem because by knowing those religions, one can increase interactions with other religious beleivers and convince them to become Christian since it is easier for people to move towards Christ if they know that they can still have doubts and be a Christian."  It thought this was an interesting point.  Other religions require a person to overcome doubts for salvation.  Christianity allows a believer to still have doubts.  It's a more inviting offer. 

4.  God will always love you and tries to save you even if you are unfaithful to Him.  2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, he [God] remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself."  Luke 11:10 says, "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened."  The student concluding this point by quoting John 3:16 and saying, "Even though we have sinned too much that we should be eternally separated from Him and put to death, He still saved us and took our punishment upon himself." 

The final conclusion was "you will still be saved even if you doubt your salvation as doubting is an integral part of growing faith in God and trust in the Bible, which is the only source that answers questions beyond our natural knowledge.  This student also stated that this research has "made it easier for me to invite more people to Christ because Christianity is the only religion that only requires faith for salvation, while still allowing a person to be saved even if they have doubts." 

I'll keep the student's name anonymous, but I'd also like to share that he is a Japanese international student. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are we Good?

This is a video entitled, "Are we Good?", posted by One Minute Apologist.

I meet pluralists, deists, atheists, and agnostics a lot who on the UCI's campus who have this notion that all that matters in this life is being "good."  They usually don't have a problem with us being on UCI's campus sharing our Christian faith, well mostly because we're handing out free coffee, but also because they think it's all "good" what we're doing, as long it makes us better, more loving people.  Just last night someone shared that "all the religions are basically 99% the same, they promote good morals and ethics!"  I agreed that all religions had a moral code of conduct, but that divine redemption within Christianity was a big difference. I've even met people who claim to be Christians and Muslims who have boiled life done to just being good, and God will save those who are good. 

These conversations really made me interested in knowing what One-Minute had to share on this topic, since a lot of my conversations are short and in passing as people get a Cup of Joe. 

I'm slightly disappointed in the video, but how can I be when my last post was advocating, the simple, straight-forward sharing of Law and Gospel as a great witnessing and apologetic tool.  So if you want deep and profound answers, don't look to this video.  If you want to hear what the Bible says on this issue, go no further.




I personally liked this comment I saw shared on this video, "If you made something and didn't like it, you'd throw it in the trash and make something new. but God offered us a way to be redeemed through Jesus Christ. Jesus bless you."  Yes!!! Love it. 

Alright, so I'd love to get feedback on how you would respond to the "Are we Good?" question, or the "We are Good!" statement. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just share the Gospel - Apologetics

The pastor at my church's church gathering this Sunday said that many Christians are scarred to witness (testify) to their faith. 

I think a lot of this comes down to fear of not knowing what to say, to not having the right answers or the right arguments.  There can be some validity to that, but I don't think Christians need to know all the arguments against every objection to Christianity.  I'm writing this for Christians right now, by the way.

Why should a Christian be required to fully know all the ins and outs of current scientific research and theories, or the history of every religion in the world, or a great response to every objection to the Bible? 

What we are required to know is Jesus!  We need to know Jesus, which means knowing the four gospels, what Jesus taught and did.  Every Christian knows Jesus!  The good news of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection has the power to save someone.  Our clever arguments do not save people, and when has a person ever become a Christian because they lost the argument.  Ultimately, it's hearing the Gospel that brings conversion. 

One might ask, is sharing the Gospel truly defending the faith?  Yea, in most cases; it is.  Romans 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Macho Man, Randy Savage, Stops The Rapture

Everyone knew that the rapture prediction for yesterday was wrong - at least they should have all known.  If you want to know what Jesus said about the end of of this age, I suggest reading Matthew 24.  The entire chapter is devoted to signs of the end of the age.  In verse 36 Jesus says, "No one knows about that day or hour, no even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  So if some guy named Harold Camping comes along claiming it's the end - it's not going to happen.

Harold had some sort of formula he claims he got from Scripture to get the May 21st date.  What he didn't count on was the Macho Man, Randy Savage, dying the day before.  I'm a firm believer that a lot of the stuff we do for fun in this life, will also be done for fun in heaven, as long as its not a sin, of course.  Maybe wrestling is a sin, but I don't think so.  Randy was so excited to be heaven (I'm not sure his religious beliefs, but let's just say he was so excited to be heaven), that the first thing he wanted to do with Jesus was have a wrestling match.  "Oh, yea!"  And incidentally, the Macho Man stopped the Rapture.  No one knows the time of Christ's return and no one can predict it. 

"Oh, Yea!  Slam into a Slim Jim!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Minute Apologist Video #1

One Minute Apologist looks at the Bible and the Qur'an - which is the Word of God?  Obviously, neither could the Word of God, but because of contradictions, the both can't be the Word of God.

Here's a summary of the short video:

They both can’t be true.

Historically establish that Jesus predicted his violent death and that he died a violent death, then Bible must be correct and not the Qur’an.  If he didn’t die a violent death, then the Qur’an would be correct on that point, however it would be wrong on Jesus being a prophet, because Jesus predicted he would die a violent death, but he did not.  Catch 22.  


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Broken, Beat, and Scarred - Why does God allow suffering?

"Broken, beat, and scarred.  We die hard.  What doesn't kill us, makes us more strong.  We rise, we fall, we get up again.  What doesn't kill us makes us more strong.  Broken, beat, and scarred.  We die hard!!!"

Some pretty intense lyrics if we think about them.  They come from the Metallica song, "Broken, beat, and scarred".

When I read the writings of the apostle Paul and hear about his flogging, stonings, and imprisonments, I think that I surely haven't suffered much for my Christian faith.  Despite all of Paul's persecution's he kept rising up again.  Forget John McClaine - The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to "Die Hard".  I have not yet shed blood for my faith in Jesus in Christ.  I might never do so, but the words of Paul still ring true for me and all of us when he says that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.  And hope doesn't disappoint us. 

But I know I complain a lot about my present sufferings.  I think most of us do.  But here, coming from Metallica, I am reminded that what doesn't kill us makes us more strong.  I think of Paul when he said, "When I am weak, I am strong."  When he's weak, he has no choice but to cling to God!  When he is holding on to God, then he is strong. 

One complaint against Christianity is the problem of evil and suffering in the world.  It's easy to say "what doesn't kill us makes us more strong" when it's simple sufferings, broken arm a bad breakup, but what about genocide, rape, a four-year old with cancer.  We tend to want to wave our fist at God!  What's your problem???  Why didn't you stop this.  We can't see the good that can come from it.  What loving Father would allow such a thing to his children - stronger - yea right! 

The answer lies in Jesus.  Being God, perfect and sinless, he still suffered.  He suffered on our behalf, because of our shortcomings.  It lies in God's patience with us!  Does he want pain and suffering for us - no!  But he allows it.  If he were to intervene now, what would that mean for everyone who doesn't know him.  He is patient in his return, waiting for more people to come to repentance?  It's his will that no man should eternally perish - sadly, we are set to face a physical death as our exodus from this life.  The answer won't satisfy everybody and I hope and pray that I stand firm in the faith and trust God's plan of redemption when the worst of the worst hits my life. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What about the saintly people of other religions?

Christianity is certainly exclusive.  Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ.  Outside of faith in Christ, there isn't salvation.  This rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and I'll be honest, on some days when I think about people I know who are outside of the Christian faith, it upsets me quite a lot too! Click on the topic pertaining to the unevangelized in the blog topics section to some more general answers the problem of the unevangelized and the problem of hell.

Springing from the position of exclusivity comes the argument of the "saintly" people of other religions.  The Buddha had his act together and led many people away from self-centered desires and into enlightenment.  The Dali Lama...come on... that guys more peaceful than Christians who follow the Prince of Peace.  Ghandi...he led non-violent revolutionary protests in India, sparked from reading Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  Do all the "saintly" people of the other religions in the world go to hell, just because they don't believe in Jesus Christ?

Check out the following trailer for Rob Bell's book Love Wins.  I think he's asking basically the same question about Ghandi and about Christian exclusivity?  




So what about the saintly people of other religions?

Christianity is not a religion about human works.  It's a relationship with the God who stepped down from heaven and did the works required for salvation for us, because we are incapable of doing the perfect works required of us by God.  So, our works don't save us.

These "saintly" people were good in the world's eyes, not in God's.  In God's eyes, we're all sinners deserving his wraith, unless we have faith in Christ or bore that wraith on our behalf.

Following a set of morals and ethics doesn't make a religion true.

And lastly, Bell is off in his presentation in this video.  He's casting questions and doubts trying to raise conversation centered on Christ.  If people mistakenly misinterpret the Gospel as he says, to believe that it is about God having to save us from himself, then he should supply the answer in the video instead of letting it hang as if that's the truth, or that Christians have it all wrong, because Christians don't have it wrong.  The Gospel isn't saving us from God, it's always been God saving us from ourselves, from our sinfulness, and that is through Christ, and that is how all people come to salvation.

Jesus is the Savior of the Buddhist, of the Hindu, of the Jew, of the Muslim, of the atheist, and etc.  To receive that salvation, a person must have faith in him. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Universe #2 - Natural Explanations for the Universes Existence

Clearly the Big Bang Theory and the Law of Entropy dictate a starting point to the universe.  An eternal, all-powerful God is the best explanation for the cause of the universe's existence. 

God doesn't have to be the only explanation for the universe's origin.  There are natural explanations. 



1. The universe could have created itself. 

However this isn't a very good explanation is it?  How could something exist before existed in order to create itself.  That's like saying I existed before my conception and conceived myself.  That's just not plausible. 

2.  The universe could have popped into existence from nothing!

However, when has this ever occurred?  From nothing, nothing comes. 

3.  The universe could have sprang from another universe, like a multiverse that produces more universes. 

That's great in speculation.  It's mere theory.  Is this at all observable?  Is there any date to support this?  Not that I know of.  And does this really solve the God dilemma?  Nope.  This explanation still doesn't account for the origin of the first universe. 

4.  The universe is eternal.  

We're back to the first post now!  This explanation goes against the Law of Entropy, a law, not a theory, and it goes against the Big Bang Theory too. 

Any other natural explanations?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Universe #1



The Big Bang Theory hypothesizes that the universe had a singular beginning.  This theory is derived from the observations that the universe is outwardly expanding in all directions. 



The Law of Entropy, a scientific law, not just a theory, shows that the universe is in a non-reversible state of decay.  Energy is being dissipated throughout the universe.  It will come a time when the universe turns cold, that everywhere is the exact same temperature.  When this happens, the universe, essentially, will be dead.  This law shows that the universe is not eternal. 


The Big Bang Theory and the Law of Entropy working together clearly show the universe to have an origin.  We cannot make believe that the universe is eternal and has always existed.  What could have came before the origin of the universe?   From nothing, nothing comes, so there must have been something before the universe's beginning. Something must have existed before the universe, right?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

1 Corinthians 15 -Video For Easter

In the last post, I mentioned reading 1 Corinthians 15.  It's an early creed of the Christians. 

Here's a video featuring Dr. Gary Habermas speaking on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Most of his affirmative case for the resurrection centers on 1 Corinthians 15.



Also, did you know that in China, the name they have for Easter is "Resurrection Day". Pretty cool, if you ask me. Maybe English speaking Christians can adopt this name and quit using Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christianity = Falsifiable

Carl Popy, one of the gents who regularly goes to UCI to hand-out coffee, sent me a text this morning that asked, "What do you think about making a sign that says Christianity = Falsifiable?"

So in case you aren't familiar with older posts, we hand out coffee at University of California Irvine and often times put signs on the front of the table to promote religious conversation that opens the door to presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Usually we use "Religion is for the Weak" or a "Contradiction" sign made up of different religious symbols.  Or we just have the "Free Coffee" sign.  That works well.

I really like Carl Popy's latest idea sign idea though.  If anyone getting our free coffee handouts asks what does this mean pointing to the sign, we instantly get to speak about the Gospel and how it can be historically tested.  Jesus was a historical individual and as a historical individual the claims written about him can be tested and verified like any other person in ancient history.  In the case of Jesus, however, there are miracles attributed to him.  Divinity being attributed to him isn't very unique, because lots of ancient leaders, rulers, and emperors claimed divinity, but unlike Jesus, they didn't have the miracles attributed to them, and they definitely didn't have a resurrection from the dead to back up their claims to divinity.

Christianity is falsifiable because if the resurrection didn't happen, Christianity is not true.  If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, Christianity is a hoax.  Prove that Jesus didn't rise from the dead and you've proven that Christianity is false.  Therefore Christianity is falsifiable.  To have faith in Jesus, the Christ, a person doesn't have to have blind faith.

Since it's the day before Easter, I'd recommend reading 1 Corinthians 15.

It's Saturday.  But Sunday's coming. 

To learn more about the falsifiable nature of Christianity, read 1 Corinthians 15.  It's clearly stated in the Bible that Christianity can be false and the apostle Paul lays the heart of Christianity bear for anyone in the first century, or now, to run a stake through.  But no one has, not yet. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jesus' Crucifixion

This video is a doctor speaking on Jesus' crucifixion...

I think it is fitting during this week in the church's yearly calendar. 

It can't be embedded from youtube, so here is the link for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-EVfxABSoU.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seven Pounds - Palm Sunday

Last night I watched the movie Seven Pounds.  The star of the film is Will Smith.



I was completely confused for quite a while in the movie.  It starts with Will Smith calling in to 911 to report a suicide, his own.  You know throughout that he at one point was married and that he is somehow connected to a car accident that took the lives of seven people.  The description of the film lets you know that he's helping seven strangers!  But it's hard to tell how he's helping them and even who the seven people are for most of the movie.

Spoiler Alert starting now!  Don't read onward if you don't want to know what happens in the film.  I'd recommend watching the movie then coming back to finish reading the rest of this post. 

Will Smith gives his awesome beach house to a lady who has two kids so they can flee the beatings of her boyfriend. As the movie nears its ends you see that he gives a bone marrow donation for a boy who is dying.  All along he's been helping a lady who has a failing heart and is waiting for a donor for a transplant.  It also appears that he somehow plans on helping a blind man (Woody Harrelson). 

At the very end, you realize that just as he gave bone marrow to help the little boy, he plans on giving his heart and eyes to help the lady and the blind man.  No way!  Back to the beginning of the movie, he calls in his suicide.  Then it keeps playing from there and he crawls into a bathtub full of ice-water, you know, to preserve the organs he plans on donating.  He then drops the deadliest creature on the planet into the tub with him, the box-jelly fish!  He's stung.  As he is dying it flashes to the accident.  He was the driver of the accident that killed his wife (maybe just fiance) and six others (one of the seven being his unborn child).  He dies!  But the lady gets his heart and the blind man, named Ezra, gets to see!  His childhood friend knew his plans and he was the one who was able to set-up the transplants. 

It's pretty insane as it unfolds.  For most of the movie, as it cuts forward and back the film doesn't let you know what he's doing and tricks you into thinking he's a bad guy, but then a good guy, and etc.  you are left in the dark not certain of what is actually happening or what the goal is.  You discover though that his brother needed a lung, he gave part of his liver to a woman who needed it, gave his home to the one lady, bone marrow to the kid, something to other guy (I think I missed what that was as I was watching it), his heart and his eyes.  He killed seven people by mistake, but with his own life gave life to seven others!

For Palm Sunday 

Palm Sunday marks the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and many of his people claimed him to be their king, although they didn't know that they were actually selecting their passover lamb (since today is the day Israel selected the lamb for slaughter for the passover - God and his timing and planning!).  He then willfully hung out in the city until his crucifixion.  He never once fought or defended himself, although he could have easily done so.  Why did he so passively suffer one of, if not the worst possible death, Roman crucifixion?  Because he knew that by offering his life, he could give life to many!

We are not like Jesus and can't die to give eternal life to someone else, and we certainly shouldn't be like the Will Smith character in Seven Pounds and commit suicide to save others, although what if you wanted to do so... wow!  That would be a sign of love and dedication.  In the movie, this was more of an act of guilt or retribution, not love, but what if you knew your wife was dying and could use your heart?

Regardless, what I walked away from the movie recognizing is that God the Father sent his Son to die for us!  Jesus willingly gave his life.  We all have been given the gift of life from God.  The Father has blessed us to be a blessing to others.  We can give of our lives, gifts, and talents to bless others.  Just as Jesus in his last night with his disciples broke bread and gave it to them saying that it was his body broken for them, we too can give of ourselves to others and bless them.  And in this giving we too will truly find life.

For this week of Holy Week (the name given to the week in the church from Palm Sunday to Easter), let's look to Jesus and do our best to follow in his willful and sacrificial steps. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't talk about Christianity - Focus on Jesus!

I've heard the quote, "I don't like your Christians, but I like your Christ," attributed to Ghandi. 

I think Ghandi said this because on paper, Jesus is the greatest human being to ever walk this earth!  His moral and ethical teachings are hands down the best.  They're quoted even to this day by people who are not Christians, such classic gems as, "Love your neighbor as youself," now called the Golden Rule.  Some have even traced the freedom and equality of women in society, which women enjoy in the West, directly to Jesus' teachings and interactions with and concerning women. Parables attributed to Jesus' teachings in the Gospels can be found in non-religious literary textbooks, as well as his famous Sermon on the Mount.  He's always at or near the top of the list for most influential people in history. 

It seems that a growing number of people are taking a stance like Ghandi, liking Christ but not liking "organized religion".  They cite the crusades!  They cite fraudulent practices within the church to make a buck, they cite Roman Catholic priests who molest boys, and other horrendous acts committed by Christians who don't live up to the teachings of Christ. 

I'd like to note that these people are focusing on the ability of Christians to live up to Jesus' teachings in the law as a way of justifying faith in Christ.  Faith in Christ is not centered on the observance of the law.  In fact, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharasees (religious goody-goodies), you can't enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus in this one claim, threw everyone under the bus of condemnation who heard his sermon!  The people hearing them, knew that no one's righteousness could surpass that of the Pharasees. 

You see, Christianity is not a way of life - it is life!  If someone discredits Christianity because of the sinful lives of Christians, then they don't even know what they are rejecting.  We must move beyond Christianity and focus on Christ!  Who is he?  He must share that he was more than a good man, more than a moral teacher, more than a sacrificial philanthropist of the early first century.  He claimed to be God!  A good man can't claim to be God if he's not God.  If he claims to be God and he's not God, he's a liar, not a good man!  He's a deceiver.  Or if he thinks he's God, but he's not, he must be deranged, a lunatic.  None of these fit with his character recorded within the Bible or from extra-biblical sources near the time of his life.  His disciples could have always lied in their historical accounts of him, but why would they do that?  They didn't gain anything for their efforts besides persecution and death.

In conclusion, we must focus on Christianity.  Who is Jesus, what did he claim about himself, did he back up those claims?  What if he rose from the grave as the Gospels proclaim?  What would that mean?  Does that verify his claims to divinity?  Ask questions that lead people to Jesus, to the good news.  Admit the faults of the church, admit the stain of sin within us all, admit that Jesus acknowledged that none of us could live up to the righteousness required in his teachings - that's why we need him, our Savior from sin and death!  Encourage people to look at all of Christ's message, not just his morals!  If you only accept the ethics in Christ's teachings, then you don't really like Christ!  Don't reject Christ because of Christians.  Christians are the messengers, not the message.  Don't let the messengers get in the way of the message.  Focus on Jesus!   

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chrsitian Lingo in Apologetics

Christian apologetics, based on the meaning of the word apologetics, is a defense of the Christian faith.  This defense is ultimately for protecting and safeguarding a Christian from doubts that might erode and destroy the his or her faith. In fact, doubting questions can be good things in the life of a Christian.  It brings Christians to think deeply about their faith and draws them to God's Word for answers and to God in prayer.  When properly defended against, growth occurs in the life of a Christian and faith is strengthened.

However, often times, apologetics isn't viewed simply as a defensive endeavor.  Many times, it's approached from an offensive intent to debate and persuade an unbeliever to drop their guard and hear the Gospel, or as a way to continue the dialog to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ again and again.

When sharing a defense for the faith with a non-Christian, Christians need to be aware of the lingo they use.  Chrsitians might use the word Gospel for instance and a non-Christian might not know what that means.  It means good news by the way.  Christians might use fancy words such as justification and sanctification or atonement, or even sin!  Does the non-Christian have the same understanding of these words as a Christian?  Non-Christians might especially if they have studied the Christian faith or grew up in a Christian family, but to many such terms might be obscure, or they have their own understanding of such terms which do not fit the biblical meaning of such words.

Washed in the blood of the lamb...
Born again...
Faith...

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb.  I get it?  Would someone who isn't Christian get this phrase without explanation?


Just be careful, Christians, when dialoging with and sharing the Christian faith with those who may not understand the meaning of the words we like to use.