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:

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...

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. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

When to speak and who to speak to?

A couple of weeks ago a video was played in church of people being interviewed on the street answering the question about what they believe about God.  After the video was finished playing, our pastor mentioned that many of these people are the people we as Christians need to speaking to and need to be sharing the message of Christ and the love of Christ with.  It got me thinking...

Who do we need to be sharing our faith with on a day to day basis?

I know that in today's Christian culture and climate there has come the habit or teaching that we should share our faith with those we know or have relationship with and that in fact a good solid relationship should be built before sharing the faith at all. 

I've mentioned before on this blog that I go to UCI and hand out coffee for free to students and from there I share the Christian faith with them and reason with them about why I think it's true and why I am compelled to spend time out there speaking my faith with them (along with some other Christians, I don't do this alone).  In this scenario, we are giving something out for free that they want.   They usually ask why we are there and we can tell them because we are Christians and we want to share our faith with others or we have signs on the table that prompt Jesus centered conversation when they ask what they mean. 

But I was a little bit convicted from the video played at church!  The great commission as I've heard it translated actually says, "as you go" make disciples.  As we go!  That's anywhere in life. 

Should I be sharing Christ with the grocery store clerk, other bikers at red lights (since I bike for transportation a lot), my apartment neighbors, people who draw my blood from the Red Cross, people I pass shopping, etc.?  In the case of my grocery store clerk, I do have a relationship in a way, or at least I should... I shop at the same store and see the same clerks and managers every time. 

How would I begin?  What's the initial conversation starter?  Is this something Christians should be doing? 

Do we need to go door to door like the Mormons?  I do ride a bike after all.  :)


Friday, April 1, 2011

Reason Enough

I went to an apologetics conference last year at Hepatha Lutheran Church in Anaheim, CA.  I went because Kenneth Samples, the author of Without a Doubt, the apologetics text book I use in my high school apologetics class was speaking at one of the sessions.  A few students went last year and they enjoyed it! 

Maybe you would like to go to the conference this year.  It's called Reason to Believe.

If you can't make it to every session and don't want to pay full price, tell the people at the check-in that you are with Crean Lutheran High School and you were told you could pay $5 per session.  

Check it out here.