Who has been like Jesus to you?

tomb.jpg I received this request from a friend who is a former blogger and thought that it would be good to open up to everyone here.  If you have a story you’d like to share, please leave it in the comments section.  She will accumulate to share with others.  These would be great to post on your own blogs as well, or to share with people you know.

What I need is true stories of people who have been like Jesus to you!

Has God used anyone in your life to show you his character – his love, his forgiveness, his chastisement? Who has given you hope? Welcomed you with open arms? Shown you kindness when you felt you did not deserve it? Who corrected you when you needed it? Supported you? Been a great example of a humble servant?

God often uses other Christians (or even non-Christians at times) to show us what he wants from us or just to bless us.

Who has inspired you to be a better person? Share your stories with me!

I will compile all the stories in a book. It would be a great present for those in your life who do not yet know Christ. Let’s give God all the credit and the glory!

John 20

j20.jpgGreetings! This is the central point in human history.  If Jesus stayed dead, we would be without hope.  Christianity would be false, and we should be “pitied above all men,” as Paul says. 

But the tomb was empty! Hallelujah for that!  Jesus really rose from the dead physically. 

The Empty Tomb

20     Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

10 Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

It is hard to imagine the reactions of the Disciples.  Holy Saturday must have the longest day ever for them.  Their friend and leader was brutally executed.  All of them had given up years of their lives and assumed He would win in the end.  He did, of course, but not the way they planned.

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

I submit that Thomas got a bad rap in forever being know as “Doubting Thomas.”  Did Jesus chastise Thomas for doubting?  No.  And remember that Jesus was not shy about rebuking the Disciples when they got things wrong.  Thomas asked for evidence and he got it. 

Doubts are OK, provided you don’t use them as an excuse not to believe.  Use them to keep honestly searching for the truth and Jesus promised you will find it. 

Now Jesus will probably not appear to you directly, but He didn’t expect you to believe just because someone said to.  There is plenty of evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and for the accuracy and integrity of the Bible.  All of the examples of sharing the Gospel in the Bible involve using fact, reason and evidence.  So let’s give Thomas a break.

Visualizing the stimulus

Go here for a visual on just how ridiculously large this alleged stimulus package is compared to things like the Louisana Purchase, the New Deal, the Iraq War and more. 

I’ll probably be saying this a lot for a few years, but this is just uninhibited-drunk-running-through-the streets-naked-liberalism. 

Only 14% of the expenditures could even pretend to be true stimulus spending, and that assumes there won’t be rampant fraud and inefficiencies as it is doled out.

Maybe Nancy Pelosi can work some abortion incentives in there to save even more money. 

Less than two weeks in office and we’ve got this already?  What a disaster.

A great day for life!

why-pro-lifeLast Sunday was a great day for life at our church.  Our pastor gave great sermons with a pro-life theme (with his usual excellent balance of grace and truth), and we gave away over 100 copies of Randy Alcorn’s book Why Pro-Life?  Randy generously provides these to churches and crisis pregnancy centers for $1.60.  A picture of the book was on the screen for over 5 minutes so you couldn’t miss the theme.

I pray that many people will read the book carefully and share the ideas with others.  I was very encouraged that the youth seemed so interested. 

Speaking of life, if you haven’t seen this video spend 46 seconds on it.  I hope Obama sees it.  Good thing for him that his mother wasn’t pro-abortion like he is.  Hat tip: Christine, and about a dozen other bloggers.

Of course, even if not all of the 50,000,000 lives destroyed in the womb would have been famous like Obama their deaths were still tragic. 

John 19

j19.jpgGreetings!

Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

19     Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

Flogging was a serious punishment.  If you saw the Passion of the Christ movie you might have wondered if that was what it was really like.  We don’t know exactly.  In some ways, them movie may have been a bit over the top with the sadistic nature of the Roman soldiers and the hooks on the whips.  But in other ways it was understated.  Those being punished sometimes died.  They might have huge chunks of flesh removed such that you could see organs.  It was very grisly.

Yet here was God in human form willingly taking this abuse on our behalf! 

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

The Crucifixion

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7 The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

Even PIlate saw Jesus’ innocence.  Jesus did claim to be the Son of God and He proved it by his resurrection.

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

Pilate was in a very awkward position.  Rome did not like governors who couldn’t control their territories, but they also didn’t like unnecessary violence.  If you want to know more about Pontius Pilate I encourage you to read Pontius Pilate, a Novel by Paul L. Maier.  It is a very engaging work of historical fiction. 

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The chief priests claim to have no king but Caesar showed just how far their hearts were from God.  They hated Caesar, but apparently hated Jesus more and would say anything to be rid of him.

The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,

“They divided my garments among them

and cast lots for my clothing.”

So this is what the soldiers did.

That is one of the many prophecies that Jesus could not have fulfilled on his own.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

As the oldest son Jesus wanted to ensure his mother was taken care of. 

The Death of Jesus

28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“It is finished” is another way of saying, “the debt is paid in full.”  I love that phrase.  Jesus work was done.  He came and died for our sins so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God.” 

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

The Burial of Jesus

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

These two men were very brave to do this.  They didn’t know Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day.

Christians. The original diversity group.

Christians.  The original diversity group.

 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Galatians 3:28

When we had a Christian employee network group at Compaq that was one of our tag lines (that was before HP came along and decided our organization was too controversial). Not sure what reminded me of that, but I still like the sentiment.

Christianity is the ultimate in diversity. Any age, race, gender, etc. can repent and believe and be saved. It doesn’t matter who your parents were. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter who you know (uh, except Jesus). It doesn’t matter how much money you have.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are.  It doesn’t matter what social rung or caste you are in. 

Just repent and believe.

Roundup

More anti-choice behavior from the Left: Planned Parenthood: “pro-choice” for abortion, “no choice” for doctors

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the government over rules that protect health care providers’ freedom of conscience.

The Department of Health and Human Services put the regulations in place last month to reinforce federal laws that protect doctors from being forced to participate in abortion and other anti-life practices.

The top 10 misheard lyrics — good for a laugh.  My favorite was mentioned in the opening but wasn’t on the official list: Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze has the line, ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky, but a high school friend thought it was, ‘Scuse  me while I kiss this guy.  It was like, “Uh, that is so far off I don’t know where to begin.”

The New York Times ignored a 300,000 person pro-life marchThree hundred thousand.  But they aren’t biased.

Obama wants to see the Defense Of Marriage Act overturned, which is helping keep normal states from being impacted as much by the insanity in Massachussetts et al.  Go here to send your Representatives and Senators emails telling them you support it.  Go now!  It only takes a couple minutes.

Are Mormons really Christians?, Part II

A Mormon on a now-defunct blog wrote the following after I pointed out how it is frustrating for them to play the “We’re Christians, too” card while simultaneously trying to save us via their worldview.  I really appreciated his candor, especially in contrast to the kind of responses I got on Part I.

I can see that we do double speak, trying to stand on both sides of the line and often feint ignorance until called out. I found my self doing it with that last post. I almost took the polyandry references out because I wanted to protect other LDS readers who I know are following this conversation. I realize that I have this knowledge and my tendency is to hide it from less informed members of my faith. Ultimately I decided to leave it in and that is in large part due to reading your criticisms in other places and not wanting to be apart of this legitimate frustration.

I fully understand that as a Mormon, I am dishonest if I try to make our doctrines sound the same as yours so that we can get along better. They are different and I know that. When bloggers say, “Billy Mormon would never talk bad about your beliefs” it is just silly. By definition, our church proclaims that yours is wrong. We send out missionaries to say other churches are wrong, come be baptized here instead. I saw these types of comments and I recognize them for what they are.

What he wrote was the opposite of what many Mormons have said on this blog and elsewhere.  I realize that not all Christians agree on every topic and not all Mormons agree on every topic, but what he addressed was obviously related to the essentials of their faith.  So if Mormons don’t agree with him then one of you isn’t a Mormon (or at least one of you isn’t well educated in your faith).

Again, kudos to him for his honesty.  That goes a long way towards having productive dialogues.  It doesn’t bother me if people disagree with me, but I don’t like to waste time with folks who insist that they agree and disagree with me at the same time on the same subject.

P.S. I think this is one of the items we were discussing at the time:

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 150: “When our father Adam came to the garden of Eden he came into it with a celestial body, and he brought eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world.

He is Michael, the archangel the ancient of days, about whom holy men have written and spoken he is our father and our god and the only god with whom we have to do.”

Those are irreconcilable differences in who God is and how the world works. Different God. Different creation narrative. Adam = God and Michael ??!! You can’t even get out of Genesis 1 without seeing the clear differences, let alone John 1 or countless other passages.

John 18

j18.jpgGreetings!

Jesus Arrested

18     When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.

2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Jesus was in control throughout this process.  He could have stopped it any any time and disintegrated the universe.  But He came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many, so He went through with the plan.

7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

While in a short while Peter will deny Jesus, he wasn’t completely passive.  At this point he tried to defend Jesus.

Jesus Taken to Annas

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Peter’s First Denial

15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

There are many ways to deny Jesus.  We may not be asked to deny him with our words, but if we look and act just like the world then we are doing it with our lifestyle.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

Notice how Jesus did not turn the other cheek in this case.  That is because the Matthew 5:39 verse is often misused.  It relates to personal insults and does not mean we can’t protest physical abuse.

Peter’s Second and Third Denials

25 As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Jesus Before Pilate

28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

The leaders were such hypocrites.  They were trying to kill an innocent man yet were worried about ceremonial uncleanliness.

29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.

But these leaders didn’t worry about these rules when they decided to stone Stephen in Acts 7.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

V. 38 is a famous line.  The truth-is-relative crowd likes to wax philosophical about what truth is.  But truth is simply that which corresponds to reality.  That is typically known as the correspondence view of truth or the classic view.  Deep down we all know that and live our lives accordingly.  You couldn’t survive a day without a clear understanding of truth.

Are there competing theories about the definition of truth?  Yes, but keep in mind that they must assume the correspondence view to prove their point, thus making their arguments self-refuting.  Here’s what I mean: To claim that another view of the truth is the real one and the correspondence view is not they must prove how their view corresponds to reality. 

One of the keys to successful and wise living is to consistently replace lies with the truth.  That is what Jesus did when tempted by Satan.  Satan would take scripture out of context and Jesus would use it properly to counter him.

Beware of “Christians” who cavalierly dismiss truth and the Bible.  A liberal theologian on another blog commented that “Furthermore, any other discussion will be fruitless, because we will come back to quoting the Bible again . . .” as if that would be a bad route for professing Christians to take!

Just because we can’t know all truth doesn’t mean that we can’t know any truth.

For Christians, the truth exists and it can be found in Jesus.  This theme is found all through the Bible, including this passage:

Colossians 2:2-4, 8 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.  . . .

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

While I’m on the topic, I want to point that all truth is God’s truth.  If science reveals something to be true then that is how God made it.  While the Bible is completely true, it is possible to misunderstand it.  So if there is an apparent conflict between “science” (as elusive and changing as its conclusions can be) and the Bible then of course further analysis is required.  But the Bible isn’t a science textbook and doesn’t make many scientific claims.  The ones it does make are accurate, of course.  See Christianity and science for more.  That site has discussion boards as well, so feel free to join in those if you like.

Evidence & The Flying Spaghetti Monster

scaleThe demand of some atheists for scientific evidence for God’s existence is born of either disingenuousness or a lack of understanding. 

They can’t use empirical testing to prove that only empirical testing qualifies as evidence, as that is a circular reference.

They also make a category mistake.  You don’t use a scale to weigh the color blue, because colors don’t have weight.  In the same way, you don’t use methods designed to test material things if you want to determine the truth about immaterial things.

Christians can point to all sorts of evidence for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus and the accuracy and reliability of the Bible: Cosmological, teleological, logical, moral, historical and more.  See any of the Apologetics links to the right, such as Does God exist? 

If they want to debate the evidence, that is fine.  But skeptics really tip their hands when they insist that only empirical evidence is permitted, or that we have no evidence or that they have the same amount of evidence for their Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Consider the premise of that argument:

  • There is something that doesn’t exist (e.g., the Flying Spaghetti Monster).
  • We know it doesn’t exist.
  • Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

As you can see, that argument proves nothing. 

Also consider their typically dismissive reaction to the evidence of the testimony of eyewitnesses or reliable sources.  They often insist that they only trust empirical evidence and not that of eyewitnesses, but that would mean they’d have to create their own test equipment and replicate every single experiment before they trusted the results.  They obviously don’t do that.  They use their judgment and experience to determine who they think is trustworthy and they rely on their conclusions.  We do the same thing.

So even with their scientific evidence they are constantly relying on the evidence of eyewitnesses or what they deem as reliable sources.

John 17

j17.jpgGreetings!

Jesus Prays for Himself

17     After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Once again this teaches that Jesus is the ony way to salvation.  The Father is the only true God, and He sent Jesus. 

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

V. 17 notes how we are sanctified — that is, made more like Christ.  God does that through his word.  If you aren’t reading the Bible you are missing out. 

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What an amazing thing that Jesus prayed for his believers right before He was crucified.  He wants us to be united, but we must be united in truth.  Too many churches teach unity over doctrine, but that gets it backwards.  If we aren’t unified on the essentials then any “unity” would be superficial.

Pro-abortion, not pro-choice

force-beliefs.jpgI’ve always tried to be charitable and refer to people in favor of unrestricted abortions as pro-choice.  They prefer that term and I’d rather focus on the arguments. I did this even when they continually referred to me as anti-abortion.  (“Why yes, I am anti-crushing-and-dismembering-of-innocent-human-beings!  Thanks for pointing that out.”)

But no more.  If you support Obama then you are pro-abortion.  He reversed the “Mexico City” policy such that your tax dollars now fund abortions around the world.

If you force people to pay for abortions at the point of a gun (i.e., taxes), then you are not pro-choice, you are pro-abortion.

So Obama is fulfilling his pledge to reduce abortions by increasing abortions.  Everyone got that?

And terrorists now have more rights than then unborn, both here and abroad.

Scientists or philosophers? Make up your mind, please.

dna2.gifSome people hold the view that abortion is justifiable because the unborn aren’t persons.  The personhood argument fails on many levels, but what is amusing and illuminating is when the materialist crowd debates its elusive definition.

What happened to, “We only trust what science tells us?” and that we can only trust empirical evidence? 

Secular embryology textbooks are remarkably clear about when life begins and thus what is killed during an abortion. The unborn are human beings at a particular stage of development, though people try to dehumanize them with labels such as fetus. But what kind of fetus is it?  Human. Science could not be more clear.

So why do the science-only folks get all philosophical when it comes to rationalizing abortion?

It is amazing the lengths people will go to in justifying abortion, even when they have to abandon their usual worldview to do so.

Even Planned Parenthood used to concede the humanity of the unborn.  What scientific discoveries did they find to change their minds?  Or was it a monetary discovery?

As always, remember that forgiveness and healing is possible for those who have participated in the abortion process.

Works without faith: Just as dead

bible.jpgThis passage always seems to get people into discussion mode:

James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

 The key to the understanding is on the equivocation with the word “faith.”  In the “faith without deeds [or works] is dead” line, “faith” is inauthentic faith.

Said another way, real faith will lead to real works – i.e., good works done for God’s glory.  Inauthentic faith will lead to no works or works done for self-glorification.  Either way, inauthentic faith isn’t faith at all.

But if you do good works but don’t have genuine faith, then you are just as spiritually dead, because the works aren’t really “good.”  They are done for your glory and not for God’s.  Works without faith is just as dead.

Romans 3:10-11 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

But there is good news!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Real faith is acting as if what you say you believe is really true (I think I’m paraphrasing Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason there).

False teacher fesses up

contradiction.jpgI commented on a post at Marshall’s and that got a couple of my fans all fired up.  They seem to have some bitterness issues and used the thread to work out some anger.  That’s inexpensive therapy, I suppose.  One I just ignored, as usual.  It works well. 

But another one was too much fun to pass up.  You see, Geoffrey has been quite vocal that he and I are both Christians, despite his rejection of so many essentials of the faith.  On the thread he even said, “the Christian faith is large enough, and has always been large enough, to hold together all sorts of ideas and persons and perspectives that differ one from another. That is just a statement of fact.”  He has written all sorts of posts mocking my views (I quit reading his blog long ago, but I see the titles of the links that come in). 

I rebutted his false accusations and fallacies.  Nothing new there.  But what was so fun is that by the time the thread was through he had clearly contradicted himself as well.  He completely conceded my larger point (that we don’t have the same religion) and proved that he was just as passive-aggressive and deceptive as I had been saying all along. 

Here’s where he really went off the rails:

I know you think Mormons are going to hell. C’mon, dude, fess up. Your God is a mass murderer; worse, your God created billions of human beings only to consign them to eternal perdition because they don’t read the Bible the way you do.

First, his comment didn’t even characterize my views properly. I have never claimed that people go to Hell for not reading the Bible the way I do.  I claimed that people go to Hell for the reasons described in the Bible: They are sinners who die without having faith in Jesus.  Pretty basic stuff.  And of course, there was nothing to “fess up” about. I’ve done whole posts about why Mormons aren’t Christians, so why would Geoffrey accuse me of hiding that?

But the bigger revelation is that the truth finally came out (Truth being that which corresponds to reality, a definition Geoffrey denies in theory but can’t escape in practice). 

He conceded that we worship different Gods. I’ve been saying that whatever he is (spiritually speaking), I’m not, and whatever I am, he’s not. He’s denied that and said we’re both Christians and criticized me for not having a big enough tent.

He finally admitted that he thinks that “my” God is not the right one.   The God of the Bible is a mass murderer in his view, and Hell is not real.  Mormons go to Heaven without faith in the real Jesus.  Presumably everyone else does as well.

Geoffrey is entitled to his views and I respect his religious freedom to hold and express them.  My point all along was that it is not Christianity and definitely isn’t in the same camp I’m in.  He denied that all along, until now.  He obviously thinks I am teaching falsehoods about God, i.e., he thinks I’m a false teacher.

So he has shown that I’m right on both counts: I have reason to call him a false teacher and he is just as passive-aggressive as the types I mentioned in my first comment at Marshall’s place (“Postmodern thinking = wimpy and passive-aggressive. I’d much rather talk with someone with a clear view that they’ll defend than someone who insists that we can both be right (while secretly being sure that only he/she is right).”) 

Still, I wish him the best and pray that he repents and believes someday and stops making false claims about Jesus and Christianity.

Closure is nice.

Also see The importance of sound doctrine.  Read the verses carefully and you’ll see why addressing false teachers is biblical and important.  I just added 2 Corinthians 6:14: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?