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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I Believe in the Impossible

THE IMPOSSIBLE

How many people do you know who have come back from the dead?  I don’t know of a single person who has.  Not since the events in the Bible happened and were recorded for our benefit.

Let’s see, Elijah raised the widow’s son, and didn’t Elisha raise someone also.  There is the widow’s son in the city of Nain, the young daughter of the synagogue ruler, and Lazarus, and of course Jesus.  Anyone else I missed?  Maybe, but I have not heard of a verified raising of the dead since New Testament times.

The story of Frankenstein is about getting life back into a dead body, and the story goes all wrong.  Cryogenics is meant to preserve until a cure for whatever killed the person cryogenically frozen is found, than they are supposed to be revived after they are thawed.  The only problem is, there is no cure for death other than God’s miraculous intervention and that hasn’t happened since Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and Paul was revived by God after being stoned to death.

Jesus is the death conqueror.  He overcame death not by being raised by Peter or Paul or Elijah or someone else, as God he raised on his own.  He possesses the power of God, for he is God, and was even when he was in the flesh as human.  Revelation 1 paints the picture of Jesus in the same imagery that Daniel, and Ezekiel, and Isaiah do in describing God in heaven.

The impossible, coming back to life is only possible by God’s power.  Anyone who lives again has returned to life by God’s power, not by science, not by medical means, not by voodoo, nothing but God’s power can overcome the one thing that is certainly impossible for humans.

I believe in the impossible.

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PS: I hope you have enjoyed this series :I Believe in the Impossible

I Believe in the Bizarre

THE BIZARRE

Talking dogs are all the rage.  Well, if TV shows and cartoons are any indication, some dogs can talk.  I’ve heard of YouTube videos where dogs are supposed be talking and sometimes it seems like they are speaking English.  I think Mr. Ed’s voice was a human voice recorded to make it sound like a horse talking.  I’m being silly now, but when we think an animal talks, it is probably just the natural aspect of sounds and phonetics coming together to sound like words.  It happens when you listen to a recording backwards, sometimes the phonetics and sounds come together and sound like words (this is without purposeful back masking).

Do you believe that a donkey talked?  There was a bad prophet of God who believes that a donkey talked.  Balaam was a bad boy.  He liked money and Balak the king of Moab hired him to curse Israel.  God wouldn’t let him curse Israel, so whenever he spoke to curse, blessings from God came out of his mouth.  Of course this upset Balak, so Balaam didn’t get paid.

Numbers 22:21ff, record Balaam’s donkey talking to him.  In fact, he responded to Balaam angrily beating him for pinning his leg against a rock wall.  The donkey actually saved Balaam’s life, but what thanks did the donkey get, a beating.

Animals do not naturally speak in human language, but God, being all-powerful has the ability to make them talk if he so desires, Balaam’s donkey talks and makes a fool of Balaam, and Balaam was a greedy fool who helped Balak seduce Israel into sin and then Israel received the consequences for their sin.

I believe the bizarre because God does.

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Where Does Faith Come From?

Ken was from Connecticut, blind, raised in a foster home with a foster dad who abused his wife. He has lived in poverty most of his life. He always wanted to go to Oklahoma, be a social worker and work with native Americans. He was accepted at a junior college in Oklahoma and one day, in the lunch room, the lunch lady who usually helped Ken get to a table was unable to assist him, so she asked a couple of students to help Ken and they gladly did. They were friendly and a part of a Christian campus ministry. They invited Ken to a pizza party and he agreed to attend.

Ken admits that the only reason he went to the party was for free pizza (he believes it is one of the foods on the basic food group). He made some friends, he played volleyballible, pretty good for a blind guy (you should see him play basketball), and agreed to return for their regular Bible studies. After attending several Bible studies and events with the campus ministry, Ken was invited to a weekend retreat and accepted Christ and was baptized.

Where did Ken’s faith come from? Where does your faith come from? Where does faith come from?

I have read and heard countless stories and every one of them has one element that is the same, the word of God. Ken, and you and I and every person encountered God’s word and it effected our hearts and mind and we believed in and obeyed Jesus.

I found an interesting blog relating many stories of people coming to faith in Jesus, http://tony-tate.com/whats-your-story/. The stories with enough detail show God’s word at work.

The word of God is the common denominator in every conversion. Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” God’s word produces faith.

Remember the Gideon Bibles you were given in fourth grade at school, or were in the drawer in a motel room. A lot of people picked up the Bible and read some of God’s word for the first time and were brought to faith. Remember the campus ministry Ken encountered. Their goodness and kindness was God’s word in action and coupled to some Bible studies, Ken, like many others came to faith through the word he witnesses in their lives.

God’s word is related in so many ways, reading, hearing, and seeing faith in action.

There are times I want a particular food or flavor and only certain foods provide the taste I desire. God’s word is like that too. When a person that actually wants that taste, and is looking for it, the only thing that fulfills the desire is God’s word, and many times, it ultimately leads to that person’s salvation.

The faith that is produced comes from God’s word being read, spoken, shared, exhibited, felt, experienced etc. That is one of the ways that God’s word is living and active Hebrews 4:12). It is not just words on a page. It is truth that is lived.

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Misunderstanding Hell

Hell! People generally do not know the truth about hell. They get that it is a place of punishment and torment, but they also think that it is the devil’s home, that he is ruler of hell and lives there and is the lord over those who are in hell, even commanding and devising their punishment. He and his demons are running around what looks like a cave, with fire all over the place, laughing and enjoying their time as people are suffering in this prison.

There have been countless movies and even cartoons that depict hell in this way. Satan and his demons are sort of depicted like Pharaoh and his taskmasters who enslaved, guarded and mistreated the Israelites in Exodus. They are free to move around and torment and order those who are in hell.

That is not what the Bible tells us. The book of Revelation has the most vivid picture of what takes place. @Revelation20.1-3, Satan who has been bound by God, limiting his extensive power (we are living in that time right now until Jesus returns) is locked up in the abyss. This is mistakenly thought of as hell, but it is something different. After the thousand years, which is symbolic of a long period of time, Satan is released and he will war against Jesus for the last time.

@Revelation20.10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” When the devil is in hell, he will be there to be punished and will experience pain and torment for his evil. Hell was created for this purpose. Now, things get worse.

After the devil is dealt with, the great judgment happens in verses 11-15 of Revelation 20. Verse 15 tells us, “And if anyone’s name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Hell was created in order to punish the devil for his evil, but those who follow in sin will join him in his punishment and it will be horrible. In other parts of the New Testament hell is described as a place of fire and brimstone (like here in Revelation), a place where there is darkness, no light at all, a place of eternal torment, a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.  The picture that is the New Testament is painting for us is one of unending pain and eternal torment.

God does not wish for anyone to suffer in hell. His desire is to save you from your sin and have you stay with him for eternity. There, nothing bad can happen, there will be no memory of it, because everything to do with sin and its power will be removed and kept from you.

Read Revelation 21 which describes this. At verse 4 we are told that there will be no tears, no death, no mourning, or crying, or pain, because those things have passed away.

In Christ, we have this hope, an eternal hope because if we are in God’s presence, we are protected and provided for. Protected from sin and provided with eternal love and peace.

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Revisit Previous Themes

It would be interesting to know the number of different topics and themes there are that people address everyday. I imagine the number is countless. Only God would know. Several themes have been addressed by this blog and I’m sure more options will come out, but there are a few that many people keep going to with regularity, so it seems it is time to revisit a handful of previously addressed themes.

I know that the discussion on any theme is not comprehensive and any single blog post by this blog or any other will not complete the discussion. Any time I go back to one theme or another my understanding increases.

To start with, we will return to the thief on the cross, the beatitudes and the fruit of the Spirit, and very recent discussions on religious pluralism.

I pray that we will be honest and humble, and faithful to God’s Word as we consider these topics further.

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Awe

One of contemporary Christian music’s early stars, Barry McGuire told the following story on his 1975 album To the Bride. One day, while touring northern California, one of the members was reading the Bible and getting all excited. “Ohhh! Man!” Barry asked, “what’s going on there?” He replied, “Oh, oh, look, look here man.” Barry asked, “what are you reading?” He replied, “Oh, Genesis.” Barry asked, what’s happening?” Well God just created the world, that’s what’ happening!” I thought of this story the other day when my oldest son told me he read Psalm 22 and then Isaiah 53 that afternoon. He said, “it was cool!” I was thrilled to know that my son had the same type of awe for God that guy did almost 30 years ago.

The Bible records several circumstances when someone is in extreme awe of God; Abraham after God supplied the ram as a substitute sacrifice for his son Issac; Moses, when God told him to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground (in other words, he was in the very presence of God); The Israelites after God led them across the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army; and God’s people when God sent fire to consume the sacrifice, the altar, and the water on and around the altar when Elijah asked God to prove he was indeed God and that the gods Baal and Asherah did not exist. how about Peter, James, and John when they witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration; the two on the road to Emmaus when they realized Jesus had been with them and he was alive, again; John when he witnessed the revelation Jesus gave him to show the followers of Christ that God is in control and that they should simply remain faithful to the end, no matter what.

I sometimes wonder if every person should have what I call a “mountain top experience” with God where they come into his presence in the same ways that we read about in Scripture. It would be cool, yes, but it is unnecessary. God has given us his revelation. He has given us everything he intends to until he gives the final revelation, the return of Jesus. It is all found in the Bible. Our awe for God is found in his creation and in his revelation. Creation points to the maker. In the Bible, which is God’s full revelation, he reveals himself to us. The most vivid picture, the most perfect presentation is found in Jesus. “For he is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation” Colossians 1:15. There have been many beautiful songs which approach God with a sense of awe, like my son and the dude from 30 years ago, God of WondersLIke God Above, and others. Do you stand in awe of God? All of creation and all of Scripture declare his glory.

This first appeared in the May 15, 2002 LaPlata Home Press

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