J is for Jesus

Christmas is a good time to be prepared to answer the skeptics who gladly point out the celebration of the birth of Christ lacks significance if the facts about Him are not true.  The faith of many would be futile “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished” 1 Corinthians 15:17

If Christ had not concluded His earthly ministry dying on the cross and being raised from the dead, this celebration would have no foundational substance and no consequence.  Skeptics through the ages have tried to disprove the reality of Jesus Christ and many have come away with a more confident faith than most believers.

In the recent film “The Case For Christ” Lee Strobel’s journey from skeptic to believer is skillfully portrayed. His story affirms that Christians have a reasonable faith. The film is based on Strobel’s book about his investigative journey into the heart of the Christian faith. Setting out to save his wife from what he saw as a cult, Strobel found himself confronted with a reality that changed his life forever.

His training and success as an investigative journalist allowed him to pursue evidence in support of the objections raised for the resurrection of Jesus. An associate reminded him that the Christian faith rests upon the fact that Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the glue that holds it all together.

With that in mind, Lee Strobel set out to find evidence to bolster these objections.

  • The Gospel accounts are not reliable.
  • Jesus did not die on the cross.
  • Jesus did not appear to people after His death.

What he discovered moved him to confront the truth and respond with a decision.

Are the Gospel accounts reliable?

The closer the account is to the actual event the more reliable it is.

 https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

The earliest manuscripts of the Gospel account date to within 25 to 40 years of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In comparison, the earliest copies of Homer’s Illiad are 500 years from the original. There is no doubt among scholars as to the integrity of the Illiad as well as many other works of antiquity.

https://carm.org/when-were-gospels-written-and-whom

The apostles and countless others have died for their beliefs. It is courageous and noble to die for one’s belief, however, it would seem foolish for anyone to die for something they know to be a lie.

Sean McDowell writes “there is the highest possible probability that Peter, Paul, James (the brother of Jesus), and James (the son of Zebedee) died as martyrs.”

http://www.equip.org/article/apostles-really-die-martyrs-faith/

In 2014 Christian History Institute published an article summarizing the total number of believers who have died for the Christian faith.

“Church statistician David Barrett defined martyrs as “believers in Christ who have lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility.” He estimated that around 70,000,000 Christians have been martyred since the church began.”

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/father-forgive-them

Did Jesus die on the cross?

In an article by “The American Journal of Medicine”,  medical experts reviewed what Jesus had suffered during His crucifixion and have determined that the  “Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.” According to the evidence, Jesus suffered severe blood loss and hypovolemic shock from the scourging He received from the Romans. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross and He suffered exhaustion and asphyxia. No one is likely to survive this type of execution. The spear to the side which released blood and water ensured Jesus death.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/403315

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?article=145

Did Jesus really appear to many people after His death?

The first eyewitnesses to testify of the empty tomb were women. It would be foolish for the apostles to use the testimony of women in their fabrication of an incredible story. The testimony of women held no value in the courts at this time in history. Being the first to hear the women’s story, Peter and John raced towards the tomb to confirm the fact that Jesus was not there.

Shortly after this Jesus appeared to the Apostles and many others and by over 500 hundred believers at once.

https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/the-sequence-of-christs-post-resurrection-appearances/

Skeptics claim these appearances were the product of hallucinations and or hypnotic suggestion.

According to phycologists, group dreams or visions are not possible.

J. Warner Wallace speaks of the numbers of individuals who have seen the risen Christ and concludes that a great number of people seeing the same vision is not likely or reasonable.

Some argue that this was a spiritual resurrection and not a physical resurrection. The Gospel accounts point clearly to the fact that Jesus appeared in a physical body.

Matthew 28:9 states the Apostles “took hold of His feet and worshipped Him”

John 20: 24-28  says that Thomas placed his finger in the nail marks of Jesus’ hand and the wound mark at His side. Thomas then declares “My Lord and my God”

Luke 24:42-43 details the breakfast they had with Jesus “and they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and He took it and ate before them.”

John 20:29 describes how Thomas rejoiced when seeing Jesus Christ in the flesh and Jesus responds “Thomas because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/jesus_resurrection.htm

A reasonable faith will strengthen your belief

The evidence is abundant, the experiences of witnesses and followers through the ages is overwhelming. The blood of confessors, saints, and martyrs cries out to this day. The resurrection of Christ proves there is a loving God who reaches out to us to redeem us to Himself to become the children of God. He is a God of justice and mercy and grace.

Our sin and rebellion have separated us from God. God came to us in the flesh as Jesus. He laid down His life for us.

“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:18 

“It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

At one point Lee Strobel is advised that blind faith works both ways. Some will refuse to believe because of a prejudice or bias to one belief system regardless of the evidence presented. In order to believe in the Gospel accounts and have faith in their validity, you must choose to believe the facts presented as a reasonable account of the reality of Christ. Some refuse to believe because it means being accountable to a higher authority. Many have yet to learn that the promise of Christ is a new life of liberty from the emptiness of sin and His spirit is a source of peace, strength, grace, and joy.

Lee Strobel was overwhelmed by the evidence answering his objections to belief. He realized he had to make a decision.

The Lord calls us to examine the evidence, and to engage our reason.

Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

The child we celebrate at Christmas is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

He laid down His life and is now risen alive in power to show us the way to a life eternal with Him.

I pray that you will receive the gift of Christmas, open it and believe Jesus is the way the truth and the life?

https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

https://carm.org/when-were-gospels-written-and-whom

http://www.equip.org/article/apostles-really-die-martyrs-faith/

https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/father-forgive-them

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/403315

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?article=145

https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/resurrection/the-sequence-of-christs-post-resurrection-appearances/

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/jesus_resurrection.htm

I is for Infiltrate

Following my wife’s suggestion, I have been making the deliberate attempt to taste my food before habitually adding salt to it. Salt has always been a valuable part of our diet and necessary for survival. I have always appreciated the value of both physical and spiritual salt.

In biblical times salt was a valuable commodity used mainly to cure and preserve food. Roads were built to provide access to the salt trade, and salt was valued enough to be accepted as payment for labor. The Church has a spiritual understanding of the value of salt. Jesus compared his faithful followers to the salt of the earth.

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Jesus is calling us to be salt as a preserving agent to keep our society from moral decay.

If salt loses its savor it is no longer able to infiltrate and preserve. Losing this quality renders it flavorless lifeless and powerless. The meat and food we would like to preserve is easily infiltrated by bacteria and begins to decay. In the same way, we see a trend towards blandness and powerlessness in the moral influence of the Church. It seems no longer willing or able to infiltrate into the culture as a moral preserving agent.

In order to maintain saltiness, the true Church has had to shield itself from the influence of strange teachings and doctrine. However, it is now struggling with an insidious infiltration of anti-Christian teaching spearheaded by a cultural revolution wielding the weapon of political correctness. The Church is losing its salt.

Challenge of the Enlightened 

The Age of Enlightenment brought the Church face to face with scientific and political theories which directly challenged its validity and authority.

Gerald Hiestand and Todd A. Wilson authors of “ The Pastor Theologian” point out that

The effect of the Enlightenment on Christian theology cannot be overstated. The Enlightenment reshaped the scholarly and cultural consensus regarding the ontology of the Bible and the place of theology within the wider culture…the Bible was no longer a sacred text and theology was no longer the queen of the sciences” ¹

The intellectual battle over the creation account and Darwin’s theory of evolution was lost. Great institutions of learning formally created to prepare individuals for service in the Church and ministry were now transformed into bastions of liberal scientific and political thought.

The Church reacted slowly and only now within the past 50 years or so has there been an advance in apologetic teaching that addresses concerns of reason and science and proposes a defense of the Christian worldview. Great teachers have emerged such as Francis Schaeffer and C.S.Lewis. The list of popular apologist is growing and so is their influence. This is a good thing for the Church and it would behove us all to become acquainted with their work and their reasoning.

The Church is now responding to arguments which the Enlightenment brought forth. However postmodern culture and the spirit of anti-Christ continues its infiltration of the Church with false teaching. The division which theistic evolutionary thinking brought about is one of many battlegrounds where truth has lost ground.

The Second Wave

The Church culture, intimidated by the advancing political correctness movement, has yielded ground to secularisms lies and deception. The Churches on the forefront of engaging the culture with their newly acquired confidence in apologetics are finding many intellectuals are no longer interested in proving the existence of God or Christ. They have moved beyond these foundational arguments advancing their secular cultural agenda, using PC as a weapon to fend off the call to repentance by labeling it as hateful.

The strength of the leftist culture is not in its reasoning because engaged in a reasonable debate its principles are soundly refuted. The strength of the left is the weakness of those with whom it engages. Sara Silverman the liberal comedienne has created a new series “I Love You America” in which she reaches out to discover America and to affirm her liberalism. In a recent episode, she meets and dines with a “Christian” family from down south. She attempts to solidify her leftist ideals by asking opinions on gay-marriage and allows a few weak-kneed responses from some of the family members and then declares “I have news for you, you’re really a liberal”.  Granted the obvious bias of creator and producer of this series has made it essential to edit any effective rebuttal, I have seen the same weak response from church members regarding this issue and other morally damaging yet culturally acceptable trends.

No longer questioning the reality of God and the validity of the Church, the left has infiltrated the Church’s domain of influence and hijacked the truth. Redefining the concept of love and grace they seek acceptance and affirmation of a sinful lifestyle. Having successfully reconstructed the immature Christian’s understanding of a calling to a pure life in submission to Gods truth, they are now pursuing and promoting a lifestyle of sin within the church.

Any call to repentance from members or the leadership of the Church is met with offense and a repeated misapplication of God’s word. How many have heard the verses “judge not lest you be judged” or “God is love” and other verses misapplied or misappropriated?  Yet those who misapply scripture to their advantage reject clear teaching on the need for repentance.    Such as found in

1 Cor 6:9

 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,”

Acts 2:30

Peter replied,” Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

No one is without sin, even those who are saved, so our struggle includes not only a daily repentance but a loving supportive outreach to those who are in need as we are. This  daily repentance is only possible in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

Called to Disciple

Darrow Miller of Discipling the Nations has often said

“If the church is not discipling the nation, the nation will disciple the church.”

There are many reasons that churches are not effective in discipling.  In a 2013 presentation to the Disciple Nations Alliance Forum in Brazil, Luis Sena gives one explanation.

“Most plans for churches have as their focus the “expansion” of their size (i.e. numbers as indicators of effectiveness). Driven by self-preservation, preachers and teachers don’t touch the hot issues of the culture, because they know they will be persecuted. The privileges they enjoy as organizations will be lost. They will be challenged by the surrounding culture. Church leaders (usually) won’t risk publicly applying truth because it might mean putting the ministry in danger. But, when a church adopts this paradigm, it has inadvertently forsaken the truth.” ²

Until recently the Church has had much influence in forming a strong freedom loving society built upon the foundation of family and morals guided by the authoritative word of God. Yet as always throughout history, the Church is being asked: “hath God really said?”

As the Church, our challenge today is and has always been to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that fills us. 1 Peter 3:15  This means being able to explain what and why we believe as well as live out what we believe. We should be able to speak to our culture in defense of the sanctity of life and the sanctity of God ordained marriage. We should be able to speak to our culture about how the pursuit and justification of sin bring destruction to the individual and to society. Many churches have fallen into apostasy resulting in a trend affirming gay-marriage and transgenderism. Unless we see repentance and revival other pathologies will soon follow.

2Timothy 3:1-7  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

The Healing Repentance

Discipling the lost does not begin by embracing sin it begins by embracing the sinner with a call to godly sorrow and repentance. It is in repentance that the grace of God is found. A doctor sharing bad news with a patient is not offensive, it is a word of compassion that wakens the patient to his need for medicine.  Reaching individuals struggling to make sense of their lives and speaking truth to a deceived culture is a compassionate calling of the Church.

Laura Perry, a former transgender, shared her testimony with Life Site News explaining that because of the support and care of loving members of her study group “God opened my eyes to the truth….He made me realize that the transgender life was … a dead end.” Many like Laura have been rescued from the snare of transgenderism, homosexuality and adultery and are actively sharing their testimony. They turned to God and sought Him with all their heart soul and mind.

Acts 26:20that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” To repent means to change your mind and its proof is in a change of action.

Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ….Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.”³

A sorrow for sin and a desire to be restored, to be made whole, is what is needed. This is the role of the church to preach salvation in the name of Jesus and to make disciples of all nations.

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Jesus offers forgiveness.

John 8:11  “go and sin no more”

Jesus offers grace and power to live in peace with God.

2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient”

Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

We have no idea how much time we have left to save those who are lost to sin. So the call today is to engage with the knowledge we have in apologetics and to clearly stand with conviction and the power of the Holy Spirit upon the word of truth, which God has given us. The Bible speaks with clarity, there are no hidden meanings, mixed messages or private interpretations which allow for sin. Preached in love, God’s word brings conviction. Some will react to their conviction and deem it offensive. If it leads to repentance then it will redeem the once offended.  We will hear them declare as Laura Perry has “I am living proof that God’s love is greater than the devil’s lies,” 

We have no greater duty than to stand for truth in all areas of life and to live it and speak it clearly in love.

Pass the salt, please!

Source

¹ https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?index=books&linkCode=qs&keywords=9780310516996

² http://darrowmillerandfriends.com/2013/06/03/luis-sena-why-the-church-is-not-discipling-the-nations/

³  https://www.gotquestions.org/repentance.html

Other Resources

https://stream.org/salt-needs-get-salty/

http://www.notthesamelove.com/testimony/testimony-of-an-ex-transgender-ex-gay

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/she-tried-to-change-her-gender-but-spiritial-awakening-brought-her-back-to

http://www.apologetics315.com/2009/06/100-christian-apologists.html

https://pjmedia.com/faith/2017/01/09/how-gay-marriage-is-infiltrating-evangelicals-reading-of-the-bible/

http://www.disciplenations.org/

http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/balancing-grace-and-truth-on-the-lgbt-issue-interview-with-author-caleb-kaltenbach

H is for Hope

Millions of people across the nation observed the recent American Solar Eclipse. For Christian believers, several biblical verses came to mind.  These verses have to do with the signs of the times and the coming fulfillment of the believers hope in Christ. Sharing scripture on Twitter, Franklin Graham tweeted

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28

The tumultuous events in the US and worldwide punctuated by the eclipse draw us to reflect on prophecy as reminders of the hope we share as believers. Although there are great debates among Christian scholars as to the real meaning of many of these prophecies, this does not dilute or distort the reality of our hope built upon the word of God and established in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism

In this post, we want to invite you to explore hope, what it is and where it is found. This is not a comprehensive journey through the concept of hope. However, the links below will guide you to sources where hope and its implications are examined in detail and perhaps you will choose to make your life a journey of hope!

In his article “Hope” J. Hampton Keathley III, Th.M. graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary defines hope as a feeling, an expectation, a desire for something to happen or to be true.

“Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope. By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both. It is a confident expectation of something we cannot see or that we have not received yet.”

The Christian believers hope is built on trust in God and His word. The humanist/naturalist hope is built on trust in reason and matter alone.

In the article “What About Hope?” at The Humanist.com, Lawrence Rifkin writes about his inability to provide an answer to a middle-aged woman when she asked the question “What about hope?” The answers Lawrence presented her with were bright and clear and positive but left the woman unconvinced. After another attempt at answering the question, Lawrence came to the conclusion that he could convincingly present humanism as a source of hope.

Here are a few of his answers to the question.

The humanist worldview is filled with hope. We may be made of matter, but we decide what matters.” 

“Humanism is about possibilities. Without some grand supernatural plan or destiny, the future is open. Possibility means the door for hope and change and goodness is open.”

“The fact that we can try to change ourselves, other people, and the world—and make it a better place through reason and compassion—is a fundamental wonder of being human, and can be celebrated. It is a cause for hope and wisdom.”

“So let’s admit straight out: humanism is not about hope. It’s about facing the world as it actually exists and making the best of it.”

The clue to humanists/naturalists inability to give any human hope is clear, it is all about the human. It denies the reality of God and our relationship to Him. These beliefs set us adrift in the cosmos of human confusion and delusion, by abandoning the very anchor of our souls, in fact denying that we are souls.

The confusion rest in the fact that without a comprehensive objective guide to understanding life, meaning and morality we are left to create our own. The delusion is the fact that many believe we are capable of deciding “what matters” and what is good and have no need of looking outside the box for answers.

The track record of humans living inside the box without any help is tragic. One only has to look at the Holocaust to realize that in the absence of God, morality is but a human convention, morality is subjective and non- binding. There is no hope in the foundational principles of humanism because it denies the source of hope and that is the supernatural reality of God. God is not contained within our box of reason and nature. He is the creator of reason and nature and beyond Him there is nothing else.

Hope for the humanists is not a reality because by definition hope is invisible and they will not allow themselves to hope in something unseen.

Romans 8:24

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance” NET

It is like two captains wives watching from the cliffs over the sea. One sees her husband’s ship and declares “there he is” her hope has been fulfilled. The other waits in hope that her husband’s ship is close behind yet cannot see it but her daughter who is at higher vantage point behind her yells out “ I see him, he is coming! ”. Will this wife deny what her daughter saw and leave the cliffs without hope?

This is what the Word of God does for us – it yells out to us “I see him, he is coming”.

Rev 1:7

“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! ”

Without a belief in the Creator and His Word, we are left with an empty hope in human wisdom. Humanist believe that humans are capable of doing good without God. Their hope is misplaced because of the fact humans who do not acknowledge God are without hope.

Can we be good without God?

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

Romans 3:10-12

“No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

J.Hampton Keathley writes

 “There are a number of warnings in Scripture against putting our hope in anything other than the Lord because these things will leave us ashamed, frustrated, disappointed, and in ruin.”

Job 8:11-15

“Can the papyrus grow up without marsh? Can the rushes grow without water? While it is still green and not cut down, Yet it withers before any other plant. So are the paths of all who forget God, And the hope of the godless will perish, Whose confidence is fragile, And whose trust a spider’s web. He trusts in his house, but it does not stand; He holds fast to it, but it does not endure.”

The first of several points that Keathley makes is that “hope depends on knowing the Word of God”

Romans 15:4

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Colossians 1:5-6

“because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;”

Proverbs 30:5 tells us that

“Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”

New Living Translation

2 Tim 3:14-17

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”    New Living Translation

https://thehumanist.com/magazine/january-february-2012/first-person/what-about-hope

Key Summary Points

The humanist/naturalist has no hope because he:

  • Has no belief in the supernatural
  • Does not acknowledge God
  • Has no belief in the afterlife
  • Will not recognize the fallen nature of man
  • Will not recognize the promises of God
  • Will not recognize the life of hope attested to in Gods Word past, present and future
  • Attempts to do good without God
  • Denies the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Denies eternal life with or without Christ

https://bible.org/article/hope

The believer has hope because he

  • Believes in the supernatural
  • Acknowledges God
  • Believes in the afterlife
  • Recognizes the fallen nature of man
  • Recognizes the promises of God
  • Recognizes the life of hope attested to in Gods Word past, present and future
  • Attempts to do good with the power of the Holy Spirit of God
  • Affirms the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Affirms eternal life with or without Christ

Where is your hope?

 

Luke 21:28

The Divine Message Of The August Eclipse                                     http://www.unsealed.org/2017/06/the-divine-message-of-august-eclipse.html

The Sun Will Be Darkened: A Brief Survey of Apocalyptic Symbolism by Jeffrey T. McCormack Delivered 05/28/17 http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/topical/sun-will-be-darkened-apocalyptic-symbolism.htm

“Hope” J. Hampton Keathley III,

“What About Hope” by Lawrence Rifkin                               https://thehumanist.com/magazine/january-february-2012/first-person/what-about-hope

Romans 8:24

Rev 1:7

“Can We Be Good Without God?”  by William Lane Craig                                               http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

Romans 3:10-12

Job 8:11-15

Romans 15:4

Colossians 1:5-6

Proverbs 30:5

2 Tim 3:14-17

 

G is for God

Hubble Star-Forming Region

In 1770 Voltaire, the famed critic of Christianity said ““If God didn’t exist, we would have to invent him.”  There are several interpretations of what he meant by this statement. I believe it means that in order to reasonably make sense of this world, to give meaning to life, and to understand who we are and what we are to do, that we would need to have a God. There are many arguments for the existence of God and I have linked to them below.

Inventing God

The history of mankind is guided by the innate need to search out and/or invent god. Early man invented gods from their understanding or misunderstanding of their immediate surroundings. Their imaginations helped them invent gods for air, earth, water, trees, and plants.  For them, all the natural world, every part of life and emotion was influenced by a god. They invented gods of sensual pleasure, and love, gods of fear and hatred, war and pain, gods of plenty and of poverty. In order for early civilizations to flourish, they had to share a common understanding of who their gods were. The Egyptians had numerous gods, and goddesses, they had a god of the underworld and the afterlife, a god of agriculture and gods of art, music and wisdom.

 People Forming God

Early civilization follows two paths. One formed their own gods and built their civilization upon the collective understanding of them. The early history of these civilizations have been described in countless history books through the ages and trace the evolution of their gods and the cultures that emerged under their influence. This influence was guided along by intellectuals and storytellers, priests and prophets, shaping the people’s imagination and understanding of their gods. This common understanding drew the people together first into tribes and communities and into larger cultures.

God Forming People

The other civilization was formed by the awareness of and understanding of the true God. The people forming this civilization followed the intellectuals and priest and prophets of God as described in the accounts of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Prior to these written accounts of Moses, the understanding of God was passed on from generation to generation in the oral tradition by their intellectuals, storytellers, priests and prophets. After the written accounts of Moses, the understanding of God flourishes and the nation of Israel is established. After many years of living under the influence of the Old Testament books, the nation of Israel would encounter the true God in the way in which their prophets had predicted.  (See the top 40 Messianic Prophecies)

The Fullness of Time

These two developing civilizations merged for a time under Roman rule. Galatians 4:4-7  Rome had become the head and center of many cultures and the crossroads of civilizations. Rome had adopted a pluralistic form of religion in which all were free to worship as many gods as they wished or none at all as long as they bowed always to Rome. Ancient Rome is one of many examples of the attempts of the state to become a god. It is in this era that Jesus, the Son of God walks among His people and explains that “I and the Father are one” John 10:30

The Way

Jesus explains that He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to God the Father except through Him. John 14:6  God sent His Son so that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16  While in Athens, the Apostle Paul explains to the Romans at Mars Hill that Jesus is the way to understand God. In order to honor all possible deities, the Romans had built an altar to the unknown God.  Acts 17:23-31 Paul, concerned by the number of gods the Romans worshiped, addresses them as a superstitious people and points to their altar to the unknown God.    He declares to them who this un-known God is. This is the true God, the one you don’t know and you never will know until you turn from your sin, and acknowledge and believe on His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus, the one who had recently been crucified and who many claimed has risen from the dead is indeed alive and He is the way the truth and the life.

Lost and Found

I once had a vague an incomplete awareness of God. For me, He was an unknown God. I was lost with no understanding of the true God. Nothing could explain my reason for being or the reason for the existence of anything at all. That changed once I personally came to a place of total surrender of all my imaginings and misunderstandings of God and began to study the one true God in the person of Jesus Christ. There is much to learn about God and a good place to start would be reading the New Testament Book of John. If you are seeking the true God and His meaning for your life, pray to God in Jesus name and read His book. Put aside all your defensive armor and allow His word to inform you and guide you and encourage you. Seek and you shall find.

Voltaire http://americanvision.org/5425/the-war-against-god-is-war-against-reality/

List of Egyptian gods and goddesses https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Egyptian_gods_and_goddesses

Top 40 Messianic Prophecies  https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/top-40-most-helpful-messianic-prophecies/

Galatians 4:4-7  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

John 10:30   “I and the Father are one”

John 14:6-7  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Acts 17:23-31  “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship–and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ Therefore, being offspring of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by man’s skill and imagination. Although God overlooked the ignorance of earlier times, He now commands all men everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Matthew 7:7  “Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shale be opened unto you”

“Is there a God?”  http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html

“Jesus is Evidence That God Exists”  http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/jesus-is-evidence-that-god-exists/

 

Review of “La La Land” or The Heartbreak of Fulfilling Your Dreams without Love

 

by Maurice M Hebert
week8
Illustration by Megan Tennant

I typically do not write reviews for films. However, I do tend to examine the film and try to sieve out the overall message that it is trying to convey. A good story has a message that is made clear as it unfolds.

The message I understood from the movie “La La Land” cannot be explained without a spoiler alert. If you have not seen the movie and plan on it, please do not read this. If you have seen the movie and enjoyed it as I did, you are welcome to read on. If you have not seen the movie and plan not to ever see the movie, I can only say you are missing one of the seldom seen sparkles from the “city of stars”.

The movie opens with a traffic jam of individuals enamored with the allure of dreams and the promise of love. Our characters Mia a coffee barista aspires to become an actress and Sebastian a jazz pianist dreams of rescuing jazz by opening his own jazz club. The two meet several times inadvertently and slowly fall for each other as they begin to share their dreams and aspirations. The songs, music and dance sequences are enjoyable and give the film a quality of joy and hope not seen often enough. Hope fades however as Mia and Sebastian both decide that it is best for them to pursue their dreams rather than maintain their love. Love is set aside for something better.

Mia achieves her dream after moving to Paris and Sebastian achieves his while Mia is away. Five years later when Mia returns we find that she is traveling with a man and her little daughter. We are left to assume that Mia married this man and had a child.

In the final sequence, Mia sits with her man in the jazz club Sebastian has finally opened and contemplates what could have been as she listens to Sebastian play his homage to love on the piano. We see a dream like review of the history of this couple play out with Mia and Sebastian falling in love and he leaves his dream aside to follow Mia to Paris. Mia achieves her dream and she and Sebastian have a son together and enjoy life and end up sitting together in a jazz club where her man plays a lament on the piano instead of Sebastian.

For most of us, the dream sequence is the apparent happy ending. The dreams and aspirations of both Mia and Sebastian should be fulfilled and it appears that it could only end happily this way by affirming the value and hope that love brings.

I will leave you to answer the following questions. After Mia and Sebastian realize how much they loved each other why did they not get married and continue following their dreams?  Are there not examples of dreams fulfilled within the context of love? Why was the love between Mia and Sebastian so unimportant that neither apparently attempted to stay in touch with each other? Was five years too long to wait? Were they truly in love?

The message of this film is important and should be explored. It leaves the viewer questioning which is more important, love or fulfilling your dream. It leaves you wondering if falling in love is compatible with following your dream. Do you have to make that choice? Or can you choose both?

When dreams and personal ambition discount the power of love, much is lost.

“Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, does not behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not irritable, does not keep a record of wrongs; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Cor 13: 4-7P

Megan Tennant is an illustrator and entrepreneur. Check out her weekly comic where the above illustration came from at http://cardigansncoffee.blogspot.com/