Why I believe

September 28, 2011

Why I BelieveStarting off from the gate I want to summarize why I believe, what I believe about the existence of God and my faith in the Christian God of the Bible, and His incarnate name given in the New Testament, Jesus.  This blog is meant to be a general one and I will spend the next months and years breaking it out piece by piece so that it can be swallowed and enjoyed bit by bit.

After studying many of the worldviews through books, articles, talking with people in person, I have concluded that my Christian world view is the most comprehensive, complete, and logical worldview of all the many different worldviews including atheism.  While it still holds some difficulties and challenges, it stands tall over all the other worldviews.  In no particular order, here is Why I Believe…

1. Faith.  Yes Faith, there is a dual definition of faith floating out in the sea of apologetics, in short a blind faith and a Biblical faith.  I will explain this in greater detail in a soon coming post, but in short I believe Christianity takes and uses both those types of faith. I am convinced that most people do not understand the true definition of Faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

2. Creation.  When I examine the world in which I live, I see evidence for a beginning of the universe, I see intelligence, and a mind behind the matter.  I have not found any answer in the material world that points to other trustworthy conclusions.

3. The Human Mind and Soul.  Why are we conscience? Why are we special?  Why do we have the ability to reason and think?  Why do we have  moral absolutes?  How do we judge what good and evil is?    In a world without God, these things are not possible.   The Bible describes the human condition perfectly.

4. The Bible.  The Bible makes the bold claim to be written  inspired word of God, but should we just except the Bible as God’s Word, because the Bible tells us so?  The Bible is a reliable book that is written in many different styles, by more than 40 authors, on 3 continents, over a period of about 1,500 years.  It is the most unique book ever written and for centuries it has stood the test of time and scrutiny by many.  When you compare the Bible to all other religious books, the Bible stands tall.

5. Historical Jesus.  Jesus was a real person, despite the constant attempts to blur the evidence.  But, Jesus made some bold claims about who He was and what His mission was about.  There are many sources, outside of the Bible that confirm the existence of Jesus and record some of the claims He made that are in the Bible.  Christians can even exclude even the evidence of the Bible and some of the other questionable secular documents and still make a case for Jesus existence, that is solid.

6. The Church. Yes, the church.  I realize that sometimes the church (people) can look pretty bad and can be rather disappointing, but the church (the people) has also made some great strides and impacts in the world in where we live.  Christians have been of the forefront leading the charge in several advancements for good in our world.  Slavery, Women’s rights, and even Science.

7. Religion.  Religion is mans attempt to come to God.  Religion shows how we have a yearning to get to God, just like we have a desire for food or procreation.  God gives us a desire that can be met by Him just like finding food and companionship.  Even though many people have wrongly been lead into believing in something that they haven’t researched, the desire for God is there.    I have always preferred the phrase, relationship over religion.

8.  The Empty Tomb.  Perhaps the greatest evidence for my belief.  The resurrection is key to Christianity.  Without it, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 , my faith is in dead.  When you examine the evidence for the resurrection you are not left with any other choices that make any sense at all.  Jesus made claims that would rise from the dead, something that  charlatan would not dare to do.

9. Personal Experience.   I realize that my own personal experience is not as strong a proof as some of the other items listed above.  For example, I could say that God answered a prayer request of mine, a Mormon could say the same thing.  Some personal experiences are subjective.  But, this doesn’t mean I should throw out the personal experience all together.

Let me stop you before you start to pick apart these individual items by saying that no single one of these proves anything.  No, I cannot in a denotative way point to God and say “see, there He is” like I might point out Bob who fixed my car or Larry who made me a sandwich.  (I will address why I think that this is perfectly how God designed it to be in a later post.)  Let me point out that each of these individual areas lead or point to a particular conclusion that God does exist, and that Jesus is who He claimed to be.  It is the sum of the conclusions that add up far better than any other worldview.  Biblical Christianity uses all the different methods of science, philosophy, reason, and reality to build a strong case for a Christian worldview.  No other worldview can claim that which Christianity does, they either fail in arguments in one or more areas by contradicting themselves or by not being able to produce the evidence that Christianity does.

If you are searching for answers, and want to start looking at different worldview, that is great, can I offer a suggestion?  Start with Christianity.  There is something about Jesus that most of the other major worldviews want to include him in their teaching.  To Muslims, Jesus was one of 28 prophets, In Hinduism Jesus is a good moral teacher, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons view Him as the Son of God, by which we can earn our salvation.  Jesus is the central feature in Christianity, not only because of his teachings but because of who He is, and claimed to be, God.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.  I am looking forward to the breakdown of these items that I have listed above.  In my next few posts I will give some basic information about apologetics and lay a foundation and order down for looking at the evidence piece by piece.


Religion, the “Old Comfortable Shoe”

March 3, 2010

My oldest daughter got her first cell phone last week and the look on her face was priceless when my wife and I sat her down to give her the news and explain the ground rules and responsibilities.  Watching her enjoy her new phone gave me a few thoughts that I thought I would share.

New things are exciting… Phones, Cars, Relationships, etc…  I remember recently when we finally ditched the dish and went with Comcast cable.  My wife and I were enjoying learning about the new On-Demand features and finding new channels to watch.  Does everything fall into that same pattern, is everything in life doomed to have it’s 15 minutes of fame and then fade out into the annals of history like Members Only Jackets and parachute pants.  What about God and church life?  I think the answer is a great big “NO.” 

 I think the one main methods you can keep your Faith in God from becoming “the old comfortable shoe” is to not neglect it and to intentionally change some of the practical ways you live it day-to-day, such as prayer time, study time, how you share it with others, etc…   When you allow your relationship with Christ to become a routine, you can kiss the excitement goodbye.   I know I have allowed it to become that way from time to time and I have to try to snap myself out of the “spiritual coma” that I fall into and wake back up.  The same thing would be true if I neglect to talk with my wife and kids on a regular basis, the relationship would suffer.

Another spiritual sleeping pill you can add is the unpopular, new hush word in many churches that nobody wants to hear about anymore, SIN.  Sin and or Unforgiveness will do more damage to your relationship with God than anything.  When we have unconfessed sin in our life, it blocks the conduits of blessing from God and keeps us from going forward in our relationship with Christ.  If we are holding a grudge against a brother or sister in Christ we really need to deal with that first before anything else.  Matthew 5:23-24 give us that Biblical model to follow.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. – Matt 5:23-24

In closing would you consider your faith more of a religion than a relationship?  Does your faith seem more routine than alive and vibrant?  If you answered yes to those questions it might be time to stir some things up and change the way you do things.  Ask God if there is anything in your life that is keeping you from enjoying an exciting relationship with Him, I know he will reveal it to you if you ask.


The Adventures of 4 Yr Olds in “Big Church”

March 1, 2010

Zachary

Sunday my wife was working, so I had the kids at church by myself.  I usually have responsibilities with the Powerpoint or audio so many times I don’t get to sit with my family at church on Sundays.  Makes me thankful for the times I do get with them each week.  My 4-year-old son, Zachary has been coming into the morning worship service for the last few months rather than staying in the preschool class and it has been a distraction sometime, but for the most part I enjoy watching him worship in his own ways.  He has the option to stay the whole service or to leave and go to children’s church part of the way through the service.  Here are a few notes I have taken watching him participate in worship in his own way.

I guess we will have to invest into a toy set of drums from his birthday or Christmas.  Recently during the worship music he will take out 2 hymn books and place one on his lap and one on the pew next to him.  Next he will take 2 pens (one for each hand) and start drumming away to the beat of the music.  He stops when the music stops and starts again when another song begins to play.  I’ll have to enlist Daniel, our church drummer, to give him lessons.

He also enjoys wasting offering envelopes by drawing all over them.  But at least he is planet friendly, he will rip open the envelops and draw on the inside before getting another one from the back of the pew.  I’ll have to remind myself to start bringing some scrap paper.   His favorite thing to draw of course is trains.  He can draw you all the different types of cars and couple them together on his paper.   Good to see the hobbies are passed down from generation to generation.

At one point I notices that he was giving the people around us a good stare-down.  He would just stop and look at them and I wish i knew what the thoughts were going on in his head.  Was he examining peoples worship style or trying to give disapproval of their singing voices.  (Move over Simon Cowl)  He gave our pastor’s wife a nice long stare and she just smiled back and kept singing.

Between Allison and my parents I think he had 3-4 pieces of Gum during the service.   He needs to learn to chew it just a bit longer before swallowing the gum, or maybe he just needs some of that stride brand?  When I get home now I have to add cleaning my pockets of gum paper to my to-do list.

This year we have been trying to teach our kids to tithe on a more consistent basis and we have started giving each money to put in the offering at the end of the service.  He enjoys putting his dime in the plate as it comes by and writing his name on the envelop and sealing it up before church.

I’m looking forward to the years to come and what else may spawn from him over the next few years.   I’m glad he is in church and taking in how mom and dad worship and I know that we are creating a foundation for him that will last and one that he can stand on for years to come.  It’s worth the times I have to tell him to listen and stop doing this or that.  He will learn.


Jerkin, Homemade T-Shirts, and Wheelies in Wheelchairs

February 18, 2010

Had lunch with Tommy today, he was out of school this week.   After lunch we went back to the church and had a little fun.  We watched youtube.com videos of the power rangers doing some jerkin moves and then we tried some of those sweet moves ourselves.  I just fell on the floor and hurt my knee. 

After that we went to Wal-mart got some white T-shirts and made some homemade T-shirts with my Sharpe collection.  I think we are going to go into business and sell them for $5 each and make a shared profit of $3 for each shirt.  It will be a total waste of time and we will probably never be famous or sell more than 10 shirts, so we will only make like $15 each.

We also tried out skills at poppin’ a wheelie in the church wheelchair that sits in the back of the sanctuary.  Got some great video’s and not to mention a good whack on the back of the head.  The carpet in the church is surprizing ly thin over a layer of hard concrete.  Ouch!!

What’s the point to this senseless blog?  I’m not sure there is one, but I do know that I had a great time with Tommy today.  I will not forget the fun we had today for a very long time.  Relationships are very important in ministry.  You can have the greatest nuggets of truth, but if you don’t have a good relationship those nuggets of truth will fall on deaf ears.    Enjoy the pictures!!


I Once Went Streaking (as a Christian)…

February 17, 2010

Well actually, it was more than once, unfortunately I have done it more than once.  Let me tell you about the first time I remember streaking (as a Christian)  It was about 10 to 11 years ago.  I was sitting in my office at work.  I was the youth pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus, GA.  I was having a busy day and my attitude was on edge because of all the “things” I “had to” get done.   I guy off the street came in looking for the Mormon church down the street.  I quickly told the man to go about 1 more mile down the road and he would find it.  I went back to my desk and that’s when it hit me.  I had just streaked as a Christian.  I was so pre-occupied by my “to do list” that  I didn’t take the time to try to talk to this man who was looking for a church that was leading people away from the truth and into hopelessness.  I didn’t have very much patience or love for this man.  That’s when I went streaking.

Colossians 3:12-14 says…

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

As a Christian I had forgotten to “clothe” myself with the virtues that Paul had mentioned to the church at Colossae.  In a way, I went streaking as a Christian.  There have been other times I have gone streaking too, sometimes I do it with my kids, sometimes with my wife.  I’ve even been streaking with groups of people from the church.  It is a bad habit and I try not to let it happen, but there are times when I don’t spent the right time in prayer and reading my Bible that I tend to start the bad habit of streaking as a Christian.   When I don’t spend that time with God I don’t “put on” those godly virtues that make a difference in my life, the life of others, and not to mention my witness for Christ.

The virtues that Paul listed were; compassion, gentleness, kindness, humility, patience, and love.   Paul says that love should be the virtue that is placed over all the other virtues because it is the one that holds the others together.  Love is the very nature of God.  The book of 1 John says that God is Love.  When we show love, we shine the very nature of God and put our best foot forward.

For a breakdown of these 6 virtues you can see my Bible study on them by clicking the link here.  So, the next time you are around someone and they fail to respond in a way that is like the type of virtues Paul listed, just call out “STREAK!” and call it what it is.  But be careful because someone might just call you out too for your words, attiude, or actions.  Let’s agree to keep the streaking down to as little we can shall we.


Attendance vs Membership

February 10, 2010

This is the second part of a 2-post blog about church, before you read any further I would urge you to read the first part before you read this one.    You can link to it here.   http://wp.me/prUzS-4W

My advice to you or anyone who has a negative opinion about church or a particular church would be this; Get over it.  Now I said that in a nice way and I was smiling.    But seriously, find a church that preaches the whole word of God and that you can be a part of and join it.  Notice I said JOIN the church, not just merely ATTEND it.  I see a growing trend in today’s society where people are not joining a church, but rather that’s where they “attend.”   When you join a church, you say “I want to be apart of this local body of believers.”  You plant your life there and you are willing to do anything to see the body grow and thrive.  After all, if  the body dies so do all the organs within the body.  I love the example from Rick Warren book (Purpose Driven church) where he illustrates in a story that a part of the body doesn’t go and plant itself into another body when the body gets sick or hurt.  There is no “organ jumping” in our physical bodies, so why do so many people do it in the church.  There are of course many valid reasons why you might change churches (move, doctrine disagreement, etc.)

One of the reasons I think many people don’t join a church today is to avoid accountability.  They might not admit it at first, but might have had thoughts like the following ones below.  

  • “If I’m not a member of church X, then I can leave anytime I want to and go to church Z.” 
  • ” When I hear something that I don’t like or makes me uncomfortable I can pack and go.”
  • “I can live my life as I want to and if the church disagrees then I can find another church that agree’s with me and not learn and take correction.”  

Church begins to take on the same approach that some take a marriage, I’ll try it and see if it works, but at the first sign of trouble, I’m gone.

 Don’t let other people and their actions keep you from having the kind of faith that you are supposed to have being a part of a church body.  Seek forgiveness from other Christians and reconciliation when needed and enjoy the benefits it will bring. Many people would rather just pack and go and start over in a new church rather than to try and work out their differences and seek reconciliation and peace.  Doing the right thing, the Biblical thing is not always the easiest choice, but it is the most fruitful and the choice that God will bless. 

I realize as a minister I see things in a different light than someone else might see it.  I would welcome comments or other thoughts on the matter.  If you have any other theroies about why people would not join a church but become a lifelong guest.


I Had a Drug Problem

February 8, 2010

Yesterday,  I was sick and did not feel like spreading my germs around the church so I made the decision to stay home and try to rest up.   I let the kids sleep late and didn’t tell them we were not going to church.  In a panic my oldest came running down the stairs to tell me we over slept and were gonna be late for church.  I explained to her what happened and she went promptly back to bed.  Later in the day,  I made a comment that church should be just about over now, and my youngest said “They had church without us?” in a puzzled 4-year-old boy look.  I calmly explained to him that we are not the focus of church, Jesus was and that they would have church with or without us.   His response was comical, he said “Well, they shouldn’t do that!!”  I had a laugh and went on with my lunch.

Before I go any further, I want this Blog to come out as humble as I can and not with a hint of pride at all, that’s not what I’m thinking or after.  My sole wish is just to encourage those I have connection with to not give up on church.

As I sat there, I had one of those reflecting moments where you just see how you are blessed.  Church has been a part of my life since I’ve been alive and the same can be said for my kids, they have been involved in church as long as they have been alive as well.   Years ago, in sharing my testimony I used to jokingly start it out with “I had a drug problem…”  it would usually catch the person’s attention, and at least cause them to zone in, for at least a couple of minutes.  The rest of my opening sentence would say something like this,  “I had a drug problem…  I was drug to church.”  After few years I stopped saying that after my mom pointed out once that they really never had to drag me to church anytime, it was more of a voluntary move on my part.   Either way I am glad the church has always been a part of my life.  It is what helped me come to a realazation that I was hopeless and headed nowhere without Christ as my savior. 

The word church stirs up all kinds of emotions in different people.   For some, no doubt that it is an exciting place where God energizes his people and motivates them into ministries and missions, for others it’s a place of refueling a place to get out of the mess of the world, a safe place, still to others the word church might come in a negative light.   To them it is a place where promises are broken, lives are hurt, and injustices are seen.  If you have a negative attitude on church let me remind you of a few things about church that might just help you in your understanding of it.

1. The church is made up of the people not the building. (Acts 14:27 )  The church is alive and breathing it is not dead and gone.  The church is the bride of Christ. (Ephesians 5:25-30)  One day Jesus will return for his bride.(1 Thessalonians 4:17)  The church is where the people are, when they meet to fellowship, worship, disciple each other and team together for ministry and missions.  God ordained the church and it was His wish that the body of Christ work together as a local church. (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 4:12)

2. Because the church is made up of people, it is not perfect.  Because we are all sinners and imperfect (Romans 3:23), so will the church be.  Jesus was the only perfect person to walk the earth and there has not been another one since He left.  Unfortunately people will let you down.  Even worse godly men who lead in churches each week can fall to sin and do more damage than a 2-ton wrecking ball.   I know I have done things in the past, (not immoral issues),  that have cause a negative light to fall on God and his church.  My aim is to try to not let that ever happen again. (1 Corinthians 10:32)  Other church members view their church more as a social club and want to take ownership of it with power-tripping decisions and arguments that cause the average non-church-going person to say “I don’t want any part of that.”  If you’re looking for the “perfect church” you will never find it.

I will finish my thoughts on church in a second post.  I just don’t want this to become to long and cause anyone to fall asleep reading it. But,  as for me and my kids, we are going to continue to stay involved in church and I will drag my kids to church if I have to, but I don’t see that being a problem in the future at all.


Satan as a Terrorist, Even A Sucide Bomber

January 31, 2010

I heard  a good line today in church.  The pastor said to think of Satan as a terrorist.   In the day and time when we are under attack from Islāmic extremists we might better look at Satan in a similar way.  In the battle between good and evil, Satan is the one who leads the forces of darkness against God and all those who claim the name of Christ.  If you know your basic Bible, you know that Satan has only a limited time left before his ending chapter is finished and the book is closed.  However that doesn’t stop him from trying to cause as much damage to the Christians and the Army of God before his time is up.  I would call him a suicide bomber because he will one day have an end to all his fun made up of destruction, heartache, and pain when he is placed into the lake of fire at the end of time as it is spoken about in the book of Revelation.

Just as a terrorist can not stand for the ideals and beliefs of America and those who are not like-minded, so Satan does not like it when we take a stance for the Gospel or live our faith in a way that is infectious, in a good way,  to others.  I think many people view Satan as just the care-taker of Hell, they picture him like the cartoon character with a tail, red skin, and holding a pitch-fork.  This simply is not correct at all according to the Bible.   In a recent poll, given by Barna research (see www.barna.org) only about 40% of Christians believe that Satan is an actual real person and not just a representation of all that is evil.

The truth according to the Bible is that He is real, the Bible talks about him in both the new and old testament, even Jesus himself talked and dealt with Satan.    Satan is not bound to stay in the confines of hell.  The Devil is alive and well roaming through the earth causing as much havoc as he can trying to take advantage of poor unsuspecting Christians and to cause them to stumble in their walk with the Lord.  1 Peter 5:8 says – “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  

The last chapter in the book of Ephesians (Eph 6:11-20) talks about the Spiritual warfare that we experience as Christians.  Satan is the real enemy, we all need that reminder.  Sometimes we can think that our parents, friends, family members, and others are the enemy, but they are not, Satan is the real enemy.   There are those times when Christians who are not being feed properly with the word of God and who are not in a close relationship with God can be used by the Satan to cause strife, destruction, or hurt.    There are really only 2 sides  according to the Bible, you are either on the Lord side or you are on the enemy’s side.  There is no middle ground no matter how you look at it.  In 2 Timothy Paul encourages Timothy to be a good soldier for Christ Jesus and not to involve himself in civilian affairs, but to stay focused on the Lord and his job as a soldier for Christ. 

John 10:10 one of my favorite verses says “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Since there are only two sides, whose side are you on?  God’s or Satan’s?   You say you are on the Lord’s side, well what kind of soldier are you?  Are you a good soldier or would you be found AWOL (Absent without  Leave) when the Lord comes back.  We all need to be reminded from time to time  who the real enemy is and we strive to be the best soldiers for Christ that we can be.