God Is/Is not Alive/Dead. Which is it?

images (16)My research indicates a troubling trend. My experiences are confirming what I have read. All of it saddens me. The world is moving toward atheism.

Let me share a very concise overview of history. The earliest people believed there was a god or gods.  Obviously since God created the world and Adam knew him, the earliest humans were monotheists. As time moved forward, and people moved away from faithfully following God and were perverted in their thinking, many became polytheists, worshiping many gods. There are virtually no atheists in ancient history but the past few hundred years (4-500), atheism has reared its ugly head and is being taught, promoted, even forced on unsuspecting students when they attend secular universities, totally unprepared to keep their faith let alone defend God.

The modern atheist has an agenda, not only to share with people what they don’t believe in, but to aggressively force people to accept that there is no God. The movie God’s Not Dead vividly portrays this agenda. Several books on the modern atheist debunk the arguments from people like Richard Dawkins. Books like Stealing from God, by Frank Turek; and The End of Reason by Ravi Zaharias.

God can defend himself, but he has revealed himself through creation, “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” and through the Bible. But, people are influenced through interaction with other people as God has designed, therefore Christians must be, as Peter described, “prepared to offer a defense for their belief” (1 Peter 3:15).

I am getting ready, are you? Are you preparing to offer defense for God?

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Quote by F.C. Conybeare

I read this somewhere a few months ago and have forgotten the source.

F.C. Conybeard (d. 1923), an Oxford scholar (and not a Christian) has characterized some of the reconstruction made by contemporary anti-Christian writers as more miraculous than the history they are trying to correct.

It is still the same today, almost a century later.

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I Believe in Impossible Things – The Creation

I am beginning a new set of devotional thoughts about believing in impossible things. I pray that they will bless you.

THE CREATION

It is amazing how deeply divided the world is about our origins. I sometimes wonder about my family’s heritage. I know my father’s side of the family goes back to Ireland, but know nothing before 1794. My mother’s family comes from Norwegian backgrounds. But we go back further, I suppose, and I don’t know anything before the first of my ancestors that came to America.

Genesis 1:1 boldly declares that God created the world (John  1:1; Revelation 4:11).images (29) He made the planet, he divided light from darkness, he split the sky from the land, he made day and night, sun and moon, plants, animals, birds, sea creatures, and human beings. Pretty impressive! Every day the earth and the natural things in it “declare the glory of the Lord!” (Psalm 19:1; 57:5; 108:5; 4:11).

Then there is the belief that science has explained the origins of the world as accidental and natural, or some outside intelligence (God or someone or something else) is responsible for the initiation of an evolutionary process that developed and evolved over millions of years; one thing becoming another thing, evolving and adapting over time to become what we know of humans and animals now.

Which track is true? I personally have never, ever doubted that God created the world. I have never once believed that evolution (other than macro-evolution; which as I understand it is basically environmental adaption) has had a single thing to do with the beginnings of this world and how it continues to exist.

In a modern and a post-modern world, where evolution and skepticism is normal, I believe in the impossibility that God created the world as we know it, with plants and animals and humans and everything pretty much the same as when he created but has also been effected by the poison and cancer of sin.

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Bald Men’s Church

“Now, if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald: he is clean” (Leviticus 13:40).

Considering this passage, there are a couple of things to note here. First there is the obvious. When a guys hair falls out, he is bald. Approximately one half of all men go bald. That’s a sizable amount. If there were only a few, the significance of baldness would be less, but this is huge. The Bible says that Elijah was bald. Tradition reports that the apostle Paul was bald. I’m going bald, maybe you are too.

There is something else to note here. If the guy is bald, he is clean. That is huge.

Clean, cleanse, cleansed. The New Testament uses the term to illustrate freedom from sin, being washed clean from sin, picturing sin as dirt, filth that needs to be washed away.

Therefore, when we look at Leviticus 13:40, we realize that all bald men are going to heaven because they are bald. Since they are bald they are clean, they are cleansed of sin.

I think I’ll start a church for bald men. It should go over good. We’ll teach each other how to care for bald skin, and encourage one another because we are bald.

 

Honestly, how ridiculous is this? It’s pretty silly, maybe even stupid, but when I take that verse out of context, I can do about anything I want with it, even if it is totally wrong, scripturally and contextually.

There are a couple of things wrong here. One, if there were a church of bald men only, the glare would be blinding, but the issue is how to interpret scripture.  The context of Leviticus 13:40 is leprosy. God is informing the Israelites in this verse that just because a man loses his hair means he is simply bald, he doesn’t have leprosy. He is clean from

leprosy. It is not a skin disease it just means they have no hair.

You’ve heard the one where each day a woman simply opens her Bible and drops her finger on the open page and whatever verse she lands on is her daily devotional. One day, she opened her Bible and dropped her finger and landed on this verse; “He went away and hanged himself” Matthew 27:5). The woman thought this wasn’t an appropriate devotional thought, so she closed her Bible, opened it again and dropped her finger on the page and this is what it said, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

That’s a pretty iffy way to try to understand scripture. Random verse selection, ignoring contexts, interpreting through a modern lens with little regard for the author’s intended meaning. And we can develop understandings and doctrines that are mistaken and false and fail to honor God and obey God in the ways he has given because it is our ideas not God’s that we are following and promoting.

Misused and misunderstood scripture is dangerous for all of us. We can go the wrong way because of it.

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Is it Possible to Find God?

His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us” Acts 17:27. NIV

Should we consider the agnostic, the one who has doubts about the existence of God as we would an atheist or a prodigal?

God’s intent is for every person to make their way to him and find him. When a person searches for God with all their heart they will find him. He promises Israel that would be the case when they were in captivity in Babylon and he promises the individual the same thing.

Maybe the answer to the question is that some agnostics are more like an atheist and some are like the prodigal son. God is there and if they look for him, they WILL find him.

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Not Sure I Believe

There are times that I am so amazed at God. He puts me in unexpected circumstances . . . often! Tuesday (10/12/10) was no exception, though it doesn’t happen everyday, it is frequent.

I was visiting the teen treatment center I volunteer spiritual help and guidance at. I was able to visit the CEO, the two lead therapists, a handful of teens (more than just “hi, how ya doin?”), ate lunch with some of them and got to share with one young man in particular.

He’s only been there a few weeks and knows why I come but we hadn’t begun a relationship yet. There are a number of details as to why he is in this facility, but he is struggling with his doubts about faith and disappointing his father because of his doubts about God.

He wanted me to help him figure out a way to tell his father, who believes in God, that he has doubts. He places himself in the agnostic camp. Not sure about it. At the same time, he doesn’t want to hurt his father. Talking with the therapists, I learned he is a kind-hearted, thoughtful young man, concerned about other’s feelings.

I was able to help him see how to approach his father with this news without it becoming a crisis in their relationship. This man also gave me permission to help him sort out his doubts. He knows that I am a Christian and that I believe there is a God and I believe and have faith in God. He knows that I may convince him, that he may come to believe that there is a God, but he may not be convinced.

I pray that there is open dialogue with his father and that he does come to believe there is a God and to place his faith in God.

That boy was searching and God put me in his path. He was open and honest and as a follower of God and Christ, I will set everything aside and let him see and even find God through me.

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American Church, the Church of I Don’t Know!

I love the church.  It is God’s work on earth.  It is the kingdom of God, the Israel as God intended through Christ’s death. As much as I love the church, there are several issues too.

The church is divided. A majority of churches do not accept the Bible as the full and final authority for faith and life. Doctrine is interpreted and humanly developed and often inconsistent with the Bible. Read Christianity Today’s report on the Lutheran Church  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/septemberweb-only/46-31.0.html).

Let’s consider further the disunity and disgrace that comes with the American church. Almost countless denominations, variations within denominations, differences of opinion within individual churches and splits and divisions running rampant. For instance, in the area I minister in, there are at least 6 churches that have split off of the local Baptist church. I believe there are more and there are a few that have split off the splits in recent years.

Then, there are the varieties of churches with varying beliefs and all claim Biblical, Holy Spirit, or Apostolic authority as the basis for what they accept and teach.

Look at some of the beliefs. Some teach that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. Some don’t even teach Jesus, or doubt his death and resurrection. Some question whether Jesus even came in the flesh (new forms of ancient Gnosticism). And sin is not exempt from the variations.

What is this? It’s a church in Santa Monica

Here’s the new spin on sin:

  • Lying is acceptable. Once a student told their Home Ec teacher that they couldn’t trust anyone who doesn’t lie.
  • Homosexuality is not condemned in the Bible therefore it is not sin and is accepted and may be endorsed by God.
  • Sex before marriage is expected. Googling statistics on premarital sex, it appears that now 82-95% of people have had sex before marriage.

The church is lost in…

The American church is the church of “I don’t know.” When one looks at the church, one may not know what to think or believe because of the variations and differences. There is one truth and variation is not allowed.

If Jesus or the Apostles appeared in your church’s meeting next Sunday, would they recognize the church of Jesus Christ, that he had the Apostles establish? I have my doubts that they would recognize the Church of Christ because sin and compromise have been the trend of the church in America.

What is the solution? Repent and follow the Scriptures alone. The Scriptures are the Bible, exclusively. Jesus is the only way to salvation. The Bible is the only and final rule of faith. And the only revelation God will give is Jesus’ second coming which we do not know when it is.

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