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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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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In the Image

It is very curious that the one need, our basic need as humans, is that people cannot find God.  He is everywhere, not like the pantheist who believe that he is in the trees, the water, the sky, that every object is the embodiment of god ( go to this link for a full definition, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/ ).  I wonder if this is where the idolatrous concept of “Mother Nature” comes from.

We need God.  We’re searching for him in the creation (rocks, plants, trees, clouds, etc.) but we deny that he is God.  There may be intelligent design, but many like atheist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said in Ben Stein’s movie, Expelled, the idea that there is a God or gods whoever they are is unacceptable.  If a being of intelligence created the world, the only, the only logical conclusion about who it is is that intelligent designer is a god, or the God.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:19, “that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them” (from the New American Standard Version of the Bible).

What was it Pascal said?  We were created with a God-shaped vacuum (hole) that only God can fill.  How is that?

Paul wrote that God made it evident that there is a God and we human beings know it.  We know it because we were created in God’s image.

And people like Richard Dawkins deny there is the possibility of God.  As Vizzini said in the movie The Princess Bride, “Inconceivable!

It’s totally conceivable because it is in me to know God.  And when I finally learn and accept that there is a God, I find that he has revealed himself to me.

He has shown himself to me in love as I first received it from my mother and many, many others.   He has shown himself to me in Jesus because he is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and all things were created by him, through him, and for him (Col. 1:16).  I look at Jesus and I see God.  He has shown himself to me through his revealed scriptures, the Bible.

If God had left it up to we see God in creation without an explanation, I wouldn’t know who he is.  He identified himself by telling me about himself.  I wonder what the interview would be like.

Science is probing further into our world and farther outside of our world, and most of us have never dreamed we could reach that far or that it all goes that far, but what we will discover is an endless line of discovery which will lead to research and what the scientists will learn, if they will open their minds is that not only is there a god, they will learn who God is, because he has identified himself.  He is a personal God and we mean by that, that he didn’t just make things and leave us as the Deist believe (such as Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein believed), but that he continues to be involved in this here world and everything that he creates.

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” Romans 1:20.  It’s all there.  it’s all right there in the natural world that God is and that he is divine and powerful.

I get it because I have the image of God impressed in me and I fill that impression with God.

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Identification Badge

Often one of the first things that we examine when we try to understand who God is, is the many names of God.  There are many, Adonai, Elohim, Yahweh, El Roi, El Shaddai and many others.  Each name has to do with what God has done or with attributes of his character.  But one of those names basically includes what all of his names mean and more.  That name is the I AM.

Popeye the Sailor Man says “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.”  He was saying, I am who I am.  Maybe another way to say it is what you see is who I am.  French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) said this; “I think therefore I am.”  He is often quoted or his quote is altered for given situations; “I eat therefore I am,” etc.  He was saying because I have consciousness, I must be alive, I apparently exist.

On a tall mountain one hot day in the desert, about 3500 years ago or so, Moses saw a bush on fire but not burning up and went up on that mountain to see what in the world was going on.  It was a curious thing, and got even more bizarre because of what he encountered, or rather, who he encountered and how when he got to where the bush was (Exodus 3 & 4).

In 3:6 God introduced himself to Moses this way, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob” At this Moses hid his face.  He knew he was in the very presence of God, YHWH.  A ways into their conversation, after God told Moses that he was sending him to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery to the Egyptians, Moses, trying to offer objections, said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask, ‘What is his name?’  Then what shall I tell them?” (3:13). Here’s what God said;“I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites,: I AM has sent me to you.’  God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites,’ ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob-has sent me to you.  This is my name forever the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation'” (3:14-15).

The I AM.  That’s who God is.  The meaning goes something like this, “I Am the Being.”  “I Am the self-sufficient, self-existing One.”

Another way to realize who God is is to look at a couple of verses in Revelation.  “‘I Am the Alpha and Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty'” (Rev. 1:8) and the worship of the four living creatures who, Revelation says never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).

He who exists outside of time and space, who lives according to his own life, is involved with us.  He was involved with the Patriarchs, Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham.  He was involved with Israel.  He is involved currently with the church.  These all honored and worshiped him, but he is involved in all of creation.  He created the world and everything in it (Gen. 1, 2 & 3).  He sustains this world, keeping it functioning and living (Heb. 1:3).   He reaches into our lives to bring us into relationship with him through Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Names have meaning.  Names have significance.  Learn the meaning of names in the Bible and you’ll gain understanding into that person or about the event or meaning of what is being revealed.  Abram meant “great father.”  God changed his name to Abraham with means, “father of a multitude.”  My first name means “God’s Peace” or “Peace of God,” and my last name means “descending one.”   Therefore, my name means “The Peace of God Descending.”  I like that.  In fact, that’s what seems to happen to people around me, they experience God’s peace through my faith, my hope, my joy, my encouragement, etc.

God’s name tells us he is the God of Wonders.  Wonderful in love and compassion, wonderful in care and help, wonderful in hope and provision, wonderful to forgive and save.  Wonderful you are O Lord.

He is identified by his name and his name reveals who he is.

All Scripture passages from the New International Version of the Bible.

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