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?

bloggingthechurch

Advertisements

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.

bloggingthechurch

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.

bloggingthechurch

Does America Hate Christians?

     Every week I encounter people who are believers, Christians from varying church backgrounds, Jews, Mormons, atheists, agnostics, Wiccans, pagans (as a religion), people who are nothing, and on occasion someone who is Muslim. I teach the Bible with most of them, talk about faith and life with them, sing songs of faith with them, have discussions about faith with them, and just visit them.

A coupe of months ago Jerry (his name has been changed) made a comment after a teaching and singing time with a group of about 45. He remarked to someone, “How can you believe that stuff. It doesn’t make sense.” He is a skeptic.

Ever since then, when I see the group, he goes out of his way to say hello to me and he enjoys the sessions and is singing with us too. He isn’t against us, but up to now he has not believed and wonders why people would. It seems he is becoming interested in things of faith. Maybe he will become a follower of Jesus Christ too. I hope so, I am praying that he will.

Bradley R.E. Wright in the latest Christianity Today presents the idea that Americans are alright with Evangelicals in Americans Like Evangelicals After All. He takes his comments further along than I will with by discussing why we worry about it.

Follow this link to read the article. It is worth our consideration: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/august/americans-do-like-evangelicals.html

There is an obvious bias against evangelical Christians. But like some circumstances, it is a small number who are crying the loudest and in some cases responsible for stopping some aspects of faith from taking place or pushing agendas that vary from the beliefs and values that Christians hold, such as; getting prayer removed from schools; making it inappropriate to have a Bible or some expression of faith at your work. As well as pushing for abortion and same-sex values and there is more. It is troubling and we must deal with it appropriately, the way Jesus would have, the way the Bible teaches us.

If America doesn’t dislike us as much as we had believed, what does that mean to us? I can think of a couple of things.

  1. It should alleviate many of our fears about sharing our faith with others. If they don’t dislike us, many people won’t be offended by our expressions of faith and belief.
  2. It should change our attitude about how we encounter our culture. Some Christians are hot under the collar with our culture, some are militant in fighting the culture through litigation and or cultural commentary and condemnation. It seems we should offer grace not grouse. Please understand that I am not condoning immorality and anti-scriptural teaching, but our attitude in dealing with our culture should be a whole lot more gracious in my view. We are to love others.
      I have found in some cases, there are people who though they do not have a favorable view of Christians, when they encounter some of us, are not as resistant to our beliefs and values.
     For instance, Ronnie (not his real name), was very resistant to Christianity. Ronnie claimed to be a pagan, but was more atheist in value. He resisted faith and Christianity and had decent relationships with a handful of Christians. One time Ronnie was dissing pastors when he remembered suddenly that I am a pastor. He stopped, looked at me with a sly smile and said, Jeff, you’re alright for a minister” (I didn’t change my name, LOL).
Ronnie had a brother-sister relationship with one of the young ladies in the group. One time, she shared some things about her faith and encouraged the group of 15-20 that they need Jesus. He took offense at her comments because he felt that she had targeted him specifically. I am sure that she thought of him when she prepared to share that day, but she was considering the whole group, not any particular individual.
A couple of days later, Ronnie and I visited about what she shared and how it upset him. Fortunatel, he was convinced that she hadn’t targeted him and admitted that she had a right to share her beliefs and values with others just like he did.
I haven’t seen or heard from Ronnie for a couple of years, and I know that he checked into a drug and alcohol rehab at one point, so I don’t know if he has changed his view of Christianity, but with the right individual, he will at least talk with a Christian.
What I am saying is that though there are some who really have a poor view of Christians and Christian faith, most are not really hostile toward us and that’s a good thing. I must be honest, I haven’t personally experienced the hostility toward Christians that we read about. The closest to anti-Christian hostility I have personally seen was when the local school in the town where I ministered 18 years ago followed the advice of their lawyers and dropped the baccalaureate service for the high school graduates. The superintendent, being a man of faith, as were most of the school’s board and teachers and other employees, came to me and asked if the churches of our little town would provide the baccalaureate service for the graduates. Of course we gladly and willingly accepted and in a lot of ways it made things better. We were able to make the baccalaureate more personal and more religious in than before.
Is there bias against Christians? Yes. It seems that anti-Christian hostility is not what we thought. Praise the Lord!
bloggingthechurch

What’s This Fruit About?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:19-23

The fruit of Spirit is about what takes place in a person’s life as God does his thing in you.

Paul notes the contrast between the ways of the world. The world is sinful. The ways of the world destroy souls, relationships, hope, even life. But the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, etc (see passage above or pic on the left) is the way of life (eternal life).

It’s about God enabling you to be separate from the world’s terrible way. Think of ancient Israel. God intended for Israel to be different. God told them when they entered the promised land to remain separate from the idolatrous people who lived there.

They were to run them out; they were destroy their sacred places, including the idols; they were his people representing God’s holy way. The 10 commandments and their explanation in Deuteronomy (starting about chapter 5) show their relationship with God and how his character is holy and those of  idolatrous people are unholy and do not accomplish the righteousness that God is and of those who are in a relationship with him.

I shared about the second commandment with some teens yesterday, do not have or worship idols (Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10). Some of them are Christian, there is a Jewish kid, a Mormon, and a handful of agnostics and an atheist or two, and some that aren’t anything. We talked about the principle of idolatry since we don’t see people worshiping idols like Israel witnesses with the Egyptians and those they would encounter worshiping the Baals and Ashtoreth and Moloch and the like in ancient Israel when they entered the land of Canaan. What are the modern idols that we might worship in America today?

  • Money
  • Celebrity
  • Relationships
  • Objects (cars, electronic devices, etc)

They mentioned several other items. Even the teens that aren’t Christian. They understood the difference. But being godly, living the life of the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit may be another thing for people.

When a person who is an immersed believer in Jesus Christ, they have God’s Spirit in them (Acts 2:38). If the Spirit is not there, there is no salvation. The Spirit however, as he works with our spirit, enables us to be godly, to produce the fruit of godliness. Being in this-worldly world, and yet living without the power of worldly influence controlling our lives.

If we were to try to picture this, it might be like the pic just to the left. God reaching down out of heaven and holding us up against the powerful influence of the world. It is because he loves us and chooses to save us from the hellish penalty of sinfulness (John 3:16).

Another way to envision this is to realize the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) and the complete teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. Read it and apply it and live it.

If the fruit of the Spirit is what your life is like than you are living the Sermon on the Mount.

bloggingthechurch

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.

blloggingthechurch

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.

bloggingthechurch