Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Book!

Looking for an apologetics book for late-elementary or middle-school kids? If so, then this is the book for you. Informative and entertaining, Traveler: One Girl’s Amazing Journey of Spiritual Discovery, tells the story of one young girl who travels to various parts of the globe and learns how Christianity stands apart in a world of different religions.

Topics covered in this book include:

  • The resurrection
  • The deity of Christ
  • The reliability of the New Testament
  • The Trinity
  • Salvation
  • Persecution

World Religions that Anastasia encounters include:

  • Judaism
  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism

If interested, click here to order the book at Amazon.com.

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Free Audio Book

Great news folks!  Christianaudio.com offers a free download each month to registered users.  This month, the audiobook is I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  This is a spectacular deal.  Frank Turek and Norman Geisler do a superb job in this book of laying out a case for the Christian faith.  I had the pleasure of reading this book, along with J. Warner Wallace’s Cold Case Christianity (Amazon.com or Christianbook.com)this past summer, and I must say that I enjoyed both books tremendously.

Christianaudio.com is a wonderful source for all sorts of Christian audio books.  If you like, you can sign up for a membership and receive a certain number of credits each month to put toward audio books.  However, if you just want to purchase an audio book, and do not care for a membership that comes with a monthly payment, then you can always make single purchases.

I am in no way connected with the website, but I do feel it is important to let people know of such businesses.  The one beef that I have with Christianaudio.com is that they do not have an Android app.  This was a huge turn off before I got an iPhone, which they do have an app for.

Anyhow, I hope that you take a moment to check out the site and consider downloading the book.

 

On claiming and being

Anybody can claim to be anything. Examples of this can readily be found on the internet. For instance, on occasion, men dressed as decorated war heroes are revealed to have never served in the military. While such behavior is problematic, I would say, that the trouble is even more pronounced in the realm of Christianity.

Jesus tells us in the Bible that the wheat and chaff will grow together and will not be separated until the harvest (Matt. 13:24-30. The chaff is recognizable to those who work the land, but it is easier to harvest everything together and then sift out what is undesirable. However, to someone who is less knowledgeable about farming, the wheat and chaff will appear rather similar. In the same way, there are scores of people claiming to be Christians who, quite simply, are not.

Now, before you go into spasms, contort your face, and call me judgmental, think carefully about my claim. Polls will tell you that more than 70% of Americans are Christians. But, seriously, as you look around to your left and right and across the spectrum of our society, do you sense that 7 out of 10 people are followers of Jesus Christ? Do 7 out of the 10 people you run into act and speak as if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ that informs the way they live. I am not talking about perfection, not at all. Indeed, followers of Christ stumble and fall all the time. Still, I do believe that a true follower of Christ, even in the midst of stumbling, has Christ as his or her goal and will continue to move in a Christ-oriented direction.

Remember, chaff and wheat are similar in appearance. However, only one is acceptable to the farmer. In the same way, a follower of Jesus Christ and someone who simply claims the title of Christian for the purpose of a survey will appear similar in many ways. But, I would say that there are differences that may be noticeable. After all, we should bear fruit according to what we believe.

Now, let me make certain one thing is clear: the laborers can notice that something is amiss, but it is only at the harvest that judgment takes place. In other words, I may have a hunch that a lot of people who claim to be Christian for cultural reasons are not, in fact, followers of Jesus Christ. But, Jesus says to let the wheat and chaff grow together until the time of harvest. There will indeed be a time of sifting at the judgment, but that is not for me.

So, why do I write this? Is this all just a rant? Possibly. I am certainly not above that. A nice rant feels good from time to time. But, I do not feel that this is a rant. Instead, this is a warning to all those in the body of Christ that take comfort in the idea that 70% or more of Americans are Christian. I believe that number has far more to do with people being “cultural Christians” than being any kind of a true indicator of the beliefs of our fellow Americans. As the “nones” and other religious or irreligious demographics grow, I feel that the 70% figure will begin to dramatically decrease. Simply put, nonreligious people that presently claim to be Christian will feel more comfortable identifying as such. Historically, when Constantine came to power over the Roman Empire, approximately 10% of the population was Christian (and I am quite convinced they were true believers). After Constantine made Christianity legal and identified himself with the faith, the number of Christians in the empire exploded. Suddenly, Christianity was culturally valuable. But, what happens when the tide turns? I believe that people will bail out and much of the chaff will voluntarily remove itself.

The consequence of this is that Christians should not sit around on their hands, but instead should actively engage the world around us. Invite folks to church, have a home Bible study and ask neighbors or friends if they would like to attend, get engaged in the religious upbringing of your children or grandchildren, the options are manifold. In short, as followers of Christ, we should be actively engaged in carrying out the great commission to preach the gospel to the world.

Is a Christian Education a Quality Education?

Ever so often I will have a conversation that calls for me to mention the testimony of an expert. Occasionally, the person I am talking to will call into question the credibility of the scholar I refer to because they studied at a Christian school. I must admit, the first time this happened I was taken aback at the atheistic snobbery on display before me. I wondered what exactly it was that would cause a person to think that the only good education is either a state education, or one that comes from a private secular school. So, let’s consider the general subjects that a person studies in school to see what would give an atheist pause.

  1. Language (grammar, composition, and literature). Are Christian schools teaching a unique form of grammar and composition that is incompatible with the surrounding culture? Perhaps it is the literature component that causes the problem.  After all, a Christian school would introduce Christian Literature and have tighter reigns on regulating vulgarity. While possible, I have serious doubts that this is the issue.
  2. Math. I am pretty well convinced that 2+2=4 and that algebra, geometry, and the like are the same at Christian schools as they are at their secular counterparts. So, I also doubt that this is the issue.
  3. History. I am also confident that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue regardless of where you go to school. Now, it may be true that you are more likely to run into the teaching of American exceptionalism at a Christian school (Oh! The horror!). And, students will be exposed to elements of church history in addition to the standard material. It would seem to me, however, that this would be a plus for students at Christian schools. Surely, this is not the problem.
  4. Science. Considering that none of the other subjects appear too problematic, that brings us to the subject of science. I am certain that the periodic table of elements, speed of light, and so forth are the same regardless of where you go to school. But, there is one area that I can really see troubling the atheist: the teaching of evolution.  Most Christian schools will teach their pupils that the God of the Bible is the Creator and, as such, created the heavens and the earth.  I am not familiar with every Christian school, but I do know that many, if not most, teach their students about the theory of evolution. However, students will often learn not only the mechanisms of evolution, but also how to evaluate it critically. Again, it seems that this would be a bonus for students at Christian schools. To the secularists, though, this is the most egregious offense. Evolution permeates the secular, humanistic worldview. And, the secularist knows that without molecules-to-man evolution the only other recourse is to turn to the supernatural for a creator. So, I am pretty sure that it is the teaching of science with an eye to critically questioning evolution that causes the secularist to think that a Christian education is a substandard education.

Sure, there are other subjects that could be listed, but I doubt that the teaching in any of those subjects would be as contentious as it is in science.

From where I sit, there is no reason to question the education of someone that attends a Christian school. Both systems of education teach a faith. One teaches faith in the God of the Bible, while the other teaches faith in evolution.

Suggestions for impacting culture

Have you ever felt concerned about the ever-present reduction of moral values in the world around us? Maybe you have even wondered what a positive Christian response might look like. I know I have. In fact, I have come up with a few ideas that I want to share.

  1. Evangelize. Without a doubt, the single greatest way to impact our culture for good is to share our faith through word and deed. As the number of faithful Christians increases, the surrounding culture cannot help but be transformed.
  1. Pray. The Bible instructs us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). The prevailing culture is certainly worthy of our prayers.
  1. Support Christian owned and operated businesses. If you are upset that Christian values are not being upheld by the businesses you frequent, perhaps it is time to start spending your money with those holding similar values. Now, this does not mean business should be conducted with someone simply because he or she has a fish or some other symbol of the faith on their car or business card. Anybody can pick up a sticker and slap it onto their car. In fact, a business owner may even be a church going person, while at the same time holding entirely secular values. It is imperative that the body of Christ identify and support businesses that are owned by faithful Christians. If the good or service needed is not available from such a business, at the very least we should do commerce with establishments that are sympathetic to Christian values. To this end, I encourage you to check out the Faith Driven Consumer Index.
  1. Support Christian entertainment. This goes along with supporting Christian owned businesses, but it can extend further. For instance, a secular film maker may produce a movie about part of the Bible that is faithful to the text, or a family friendly film with values that are in line with those espoused in Scripture. In this case, supporting that film would send the message that such products are desired by the viewing public and profitable to the film company. Even more, I believe it is important for Christians to support entertainment companies that are owned and operated by our brothers and sisters in Christ. People often complain about the lackluster quality of Christian films while at the same time giving all of their entertainment dollars to secular companies that propagate an unbiblical worldview. Imagine the quality of Christian movies that could be produced if they enjoyed the multi-million dollar opening weekends that so many secular films do. To this end, I want to share with you a few of the options available for your viewing pleasure. For streaming video, you can use Parables.tv, PureFlix, the Dove Channel, the Trinity Broadcast Network, or the National Religious Broadcasters to name a few. For streaming audio, there are numerous radio stations available on the internet.  As far as subscription based services go, there is only one that I am aware of: The Overflow.
  1. Be active in the political process. In other words, vote. I am not advocating for a particular political party, but for an active Christian witness in the constituency. In the American political system elected officials represent the people within a certain geographic area. If the politician you support does not share values similar to your own, then let them know how you feel about that disconnect. If you are loyal to a party and are unsatisfied with the values of a particular candidate, then throw your support behind someone more in line with your values and beliefs. If this is still unsatisfactory, consider becoming involved and perhaps running for office yourself. You may find that this is the very thing God has been calling you to.

I limit this post to five suggestions, it is simply a starter and not exhaustive. The last three of these suggestions do take into account the fact that money drives a lot of decisions in our society, entertainment has an enormous impact on shaping values, and the political process is the way our government hears our voices. Again, this list is not exhaustive and you may have some ideas that are worth sharing and would be profitable for a brother or sister in Christ struggling with how best to impact our culture.

God is not fixing this?

“God is not fixing this.” That was the headline recently seen on a newspaper in New York. The startling statement was written in response to a mass shooting in California and certain politicians reacting by offering prayers. I would like to take just a moment to speak to this idea that God is not doing anything about our worldly problems and how we as Christians can do more to influence our culture.

To begin, the headline would lead us to believe that God is unable to make an impact in the world and that, instead, humans should figure out our problems without turning to God. While this sounds like a laudable idea, there are a few items that should be raised.

  1. Is it not possible that the reason we are in this mix to begin with is that we willfully cast off God and His guidance years ago when we began to remove His influence from the public sphere? Accordingly, we have shoved God to the side, ran into a problem, and then blamed Him for not fixing it.
  2. Is it not possible that God does have a fix for our social problems, but we simply do not wish to hear His solution? After all, God’s solution may cramp our style somewhat and cause us to say that some behaviors are wrong, take responsibility for our own actions instead of blaming others, and perhaps change some of our activities.
  3. Is it not possible that God has chosen not to hear our prayers because we have chosen not to listen to Him?

Still, let’s work with the idea that we can solve all of our problems in an entirely humanistic manner, totally devoid of God. Are there good examples of such a program working to solve the problems facing humanity? Communism has not exactly been a blessing to the human race. At least, it sure hasn’t been very beneficial to the folks who endured living in the Soviet Union, or those who still reside in North Korea or those parts of China not in special economic areas where capitalism is allowed. Eugenics is also something that I would say the human race is not proud of. And, if what I understand is correct, abortion has accounted for the deaths of more than 50 million unborn babies in the United States alone. What else have we come up with that is totally devoid of God?

Some will say that science is our contribution to fixing the woes of humanity. But is this so? Weren’t most of the founders of science theists of some sort? In fact, many of them were devout Christians. But, maybe you reject that idea and declare that despite these early examples of believer scientists, the field of science is totally devoid of God. While you may say to yourself that scientific work can be carried out without recourse to God, you might want to look over your shoulder and consider where those ethics come from. Ask yourself, why is it that we don’t tend to experiment on human beings (of course human experimentation does take place, but this is typically only after extensive testing on other mediums).

Science does not give us ethics. Again, ask yourself, what ethic can we completely derive from science? Can we deduce that it is wrong to hurt others, or is this something we import from outside the field of science? A person may not want to acknowledge where these ethics come from, but when the dust settles I think it will become obvious that the ethics we use have their basis a theistic worldview.

So, if entirely humanistic methods for solving our world’s problems are insufficient for the task at hand, perhaps it would be best if we turned back to the creator, sought His guidance, and then acted accordingly. Notice that we do not simply seek guidance, through prayer and the diligent study of the Bible, but we must then transition into action. God created the world, provided the redeemer for fallen humankind, and has left us His revealed will in Scripture. In a sense, the headline has a great deal of merit: we should not sit back and stare at the sky, but should instead be busy carrying out the work that he has already laid out for us.

Being good for goodness’ sake?

It seems that the organization, American Atheists, have recently begun a billboard campaign urging people to skip church at Christmas and to just be good for goodness’ sake. Many people have liked the image on their Facebook pages and shared it with their friends. I am curious though if most of the people “liking” the image took the time to thoughtfully consider the advertisement, or if they simply clicked on the picture without using their mind at all.

Admittedly, the ad is quite catchy. And, to a culture that has so often forsaken the enlightenment that comes from books for the mind-numbing light emitted from electronic amusement, such a snazzy advertisement is simply too tempting to consider critically. It has all the qualities that one would expect from a meme, one of those trustworthy sources of knowledge readily found on the internet. A catchy picture and somewhat humorous phrasing is all that is necessary to draw in the casual passerby. But be careful my friend, the path of wisdom by meme may be better left untrod.

Children used to be warned not to accept candy from strangers in cars. The fear was that the one giving the candy may have an ulterior motive, something far more sinister in mind than simply handing out a tasty treat. Yet, here so many of us are, readily accepting wisdom from billboards without question.

I obviously want people to attend church, but that is not the focus of what I am writing at this moment. Instead, I want to help those who received wisdom from a billboard and are figuratively having their minds driven off in a car bound for some unexpected, and unwelcome, terror.

You see, the atheists want you to be good for goodness’ sake. But what does that even mean? Now, I understand that it sounds catchy and that is a strong argument for its truth. However, I do think we should ask ourselves what exactly goodness is. After all, the sign does say that we should be good for goodness’ sake. So, what is goodness?

If goodness is defined as what most people consider is right, then it can be changed whenever public opinion sways. In such a system, what is right and good today could be wrong tomorrow or the other way around. In many ways this is what we see in modern western society. What was good is starting to be seen as bad and what was bad is now increasingly being called good.

But, that brings us to a new question: is good simply a matter of opinion? On a certain level, the answer is yes. For instance, there are items that are a matter of personal taste. So, I can say that pumpkin pie tastes good while someone else says that it tastes bad. However, when it comes to moral issues the same does not hold. The goodness or badness of a moral issue is inherent to that issue and not simply a matter of opinion. Sure, you can have an opinion, but that will not change the goodness or badness of a moral matter.

“But!” Some might protest, positions have changed on moral issues throughout history. At this point someone will often roll out the issue of slavery and say, “look at this shiny example!” However, before running away screaming that the relativist is right and there are no absolutes we should stop to consider the question: was slavery ever good?

You see, the moral goodness or badness of something is inherent to the item or issue itself. And, since this is the case, whether or not something is morally good or bad is discovered and not determined by popular vote. So, in the case of slavery, one can easily argue that it was never good. Throughout history people have called for the release of slaves. But, slavery is not the focus of this article and there are many good resources available for someone to read if they are interested in further study.

Without God goodness is simply a matter of opinion and can change in a moment. What you think is good today can be bad tomorrow. You may be considered a good person today only to find in the near future that you are evil and filled with hatred, all the while you have not changed a thing about yourself.

Goodness is grounded in God. It does not change. Something is good or bad as it stands in relation to Him. A matter is bad if it stands in opposition to the nature and revealed will of God. In the same way, things are morally good because of their consistency with the Lord’s nature and revealed will. If a person wants to know whether or not something is good or bad, the best method is to study the Scriptures and learn as much as possible about God and then apply that knowledge to the issue at hand.

So, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I can say that I will do something for goodness’ sake and it will have a meaning that goes far beyond this fleeting moment in time. It will be the same yesterday, today, and forever. However, when the person who refuses to know and follow God says these words, they have all the firmness and meaning of a tumbleweed being blown along by the fickle winds of a changing culture.