Doubt and Evolution
I know it bothers some Christians that some of their fellow followers of Christ don’t believe in evolution. They’re embarrassed. They hear the new atheists in the media dogmatically insisting that if you’re a Christian who doesn’t believe in evolution you are delusional, or imbecilic, or loathsome. Richard Dawkins and other new atheists encourage people to ridicule and mock those who disagree with their views. (Hamilton, Dawkins: Mock Them. Ridicule Them. In Public. With Contempt.) Unfortunately that approach has trickled down to too many people. The result is some Christians hear disparaging comments from friends or coworkers who have been influenced by Dawkins and other new atheists–and they feel intimidated.
Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Read More
Remember what I advised you to do: Think about God as often as you can, day and night, in everything you do. He is always with you. Just as you would be rude if you deserted a friend who was visiting you, why would you be disrespectful of God by abandoning His presence?
Do not forget Him! Think of Him often. Adore Him ceaselessly. Live and die with Him. That is the real business of Christians. -Brother Lawrence
Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
Why Did Peter Carry That Rock?
Elizabeth Elliott tells a parable in her book These Strange Ashes, and it goes like this:
One day Jesus said to his disciples: “I’d like you to carry a stone for me.” He didn’t give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulation for weight and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, “Now it’s time for lunch.” In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, “I’d like you to carry a stone for me.” This time Peter said, “Aha! Now I get it!” So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, “I can’t wait for supper.” Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, “Now everyone throw your stones into the water.” They did. Then he said, “Follow Me,” and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, “Don’t you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?”
Why Are Christians, Christians?
Most Christians would like to say they believe in Christianity because of the evidence for the truth of the bible, or because they’ve lived with Jesus a few years and have come to know him and trust him and love him. (see previous posts J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the Gospel Accounts and Why Do I Doubt? Genuine Seeker (Part 4)) And while these are reasons for many, the reality is, people become Christians for all sorts of reasons. Some became Christians because of the inertia in their family. Their family members are Christians, so they just went with the flow. It just made sense so they could keep good relationships with mom, dad, and their siblings. Some others became Christians because in their part of the planet it’s what people do. So they also went with the flow. And they find acceptance with their peers and with the culture they live in. Some others become Christians because of the benefits of the community. Maybe where they live it’s good for business to belong to the local church. Or maybe they like receiving support from church members when times are tough. Or maybe they enjoy the friendships formed. Often these reasons are present at the subconscious level.
Most Christians would like to say they believe in Christianity for unselfish reasons, but sometimes the reality is different. There are social reasons, and selfish reasons.
An Agnostic Historian and Faith
I have a friend who is an unbeliever and also an amateur historian. I once asked him to recommend some history books about Jesus Christ so I could Read More
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
Why Do I Doubt?
In our last post, Doubt, Faith, and Reason, we looked at how a firefighter decided to risk his own life and crawl through a window into a burning building to save three children. And we saw how his decision making process is related to our choosing to believe (or not believe) in the gospel accounts.
In today’s post we’ll look at one of the reasons why we doubt.
Getting to Know a Firefighter
Yesterday a candidate for a firefighter position at Medford Fire-Rescue contacted me asking for advice about how to get hired. Before I started writing full time, I was involved in the hiring process for the fire department. I’m pretty sure we have the most thorough process in the state. We start with an application screening and end with a background check that’s incredibly thorough. Before we hire someone we know them just about as well as you can know someone without living with them. Which is important because firefighters have a unique schedule, and because of their unique schedule they live with each other almost a third of their lifetime during their career. It’s also important because once he or she is hired, the department and the community will probably be stuck with this person, for better or for worse, for thirty years or so.
But here’s the thing, no matter how thorough our process, and no matter how deep we go with our background investigation, we don’t really get to know the candidate until he’s been with us for a few years. There have been a few backgrounds Read More
A few of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
“The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Last Post: Tolkien, Lewis, and the Gospel
In our last post (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the Gospel Accounts) we saw the impact (on me at least) of C.S. Lewis’ opinion of the gospels. Lewis, a former atheist, a professor at Oxford and Cambridge, and an expert in ancient literature, wrote that the gospels are either a documented account of the life of Jesus, or, “some unknown writer in the 2nd century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative.” In other words, C.S. Lewis believed the scriptures to be true. (I posted Lewis’ statement on Reddit and a commenter, SuddenlySeymour, with a masters degree in English Literature explained it better than I ever could. If you’re interested, you can read what he wrote in the NOTES section at the bottom of this post.)
Why Should I Listen?
The next thing we explored in the last post was the next logical step after learning of Lewis’ conclusion. And that step is to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life very carefully. Because if those accounts are true as C.S. Lewis asserts that they are, then when we read the gospel accounts, we’re reading a documented account of the life and words of the Son of God Himself.
The Son of God Himself. No one’s life can be more important than his. No one’s world view can be more important than his. No one’s words can be more important than his. He said he came to save lives, eternal lives, and I want to explore that. But before we continue I think it will be helpful to first look at how firefighters decide to save lives.
Why Dive Through a Window Into a Burning Building? Read More
J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the Gospels
In our last post we looked at how J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame, argued with his atheist friend, C.S. Lewis, and how he ultimately persuaded Lewis to believe in Christianity. And we also saw what C.S. Lewis, an expert in ancient literature (Oxford and Cambridge professor, and chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge) said about the gospels:
I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage… Or else, some unknown writer in the 2nd century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn’t see this has simply not learned to read. -C.S. Lewis
(Click on the link to read the previous post in its entirety Smurfs and the Genuine Seeker)
So here’s one of my personal heroes, Tolkien, the creator of all the original writings having to do with Hobbits and in my view one of the great genius minds of all time, and he convinces his friend C.S. Lewis that the bible is true. And then Lewis, another one of the great minds of all time and an expert in ancient literature, recognizes the gospels as true documentation of the life of Christ.
So what am I to do with this? How am I to react to this? Read More
Smurfs May Lead to “Harder” Entertainment Media
So, your parents forbid you to watch the Smurfs and you think that is one of the stupidest things ever, right? But take a breath and think this through with me. Somewhere, down deep inside, you know in your heart that it was when the Smurf high faded, it became the gateway television show that led you to your use of “harder” entertainment media. Come on, admit it. We’ve all heard the stories about Smurf watchers graduating to Harry Potter books and even engaging with others in the sport of Quidditch.
I even heard that one poor soul tried out for the position of Seeker. He was last seen in a deserted alley, chasing imaginary Quaffles and Golden Snitches.
Clearly it was the Smurfs cartoon that led to your ruin.
A Genuine Seeker of Truth
Okay so you’re probably right about the impact of the Smurfs on your childhood. But while we’re on the topic of the position of Seeker… I was on Google+ one time and I saw this post comparing an Egyptian mythological character named Horus to Jesus. The guy who posted it said that the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life were just ripoffs of this Egyptian legend. It seemed pretty compelling so Read More
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
For more see Believing God Today:
Content for this article was taken from the new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). For more articles included in the book go to Love Like Jesus Book. Love Like Jesus is due to be published in 2018.
The Holy Spirit Better Than a Burger?
At church the other night our pastor directed anyone interested in receiving prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to go to the prayer room after the service.
I was amazed.
Only a half dozen or so showed up. On a normal summer Sunday, our church offers free burgers and the line is a mile long. How much better is God’s Holy Spirit than a burger? (I was also amazed at a very different response just five months later. If you’re interested, you can read about it at “here’s the part where I eat crow.“)
I recently wrote a guest post about the importance of the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit for Not Ashamed of the Gospel and this prompted someone to ask, How do I know if I have His Holy Spirit?
The person asking the question is referring to God’s Holy Spirit being poured out upon someone in such a way as to provide supernatural inspiration. As distinguished from having the Holy Spirit inside you. Every believer, every person who’s received Christ, every Christian has God’s Holy Spirit dwelling inside them. But not every Christian has received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. (see 1 Corinthians 6:19 and Acts Chapter 2)
What It Looked Like When Jesus’ Disciples Received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
John the Baptist referred to this phenomena of outpouring as the baptism with fire. (Matthew 3:11) And the classic example of believers receiving God’s Spirit in this way occurs in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter 1 Jesus tells His disciples, “…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
So in obedience to Christ, they stayed in Jerusalem where they all joined together constantly in prayer. (Acts 1:14) A while later, at a time when many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, 120 disciples who were gathered together in one place experienced this outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. They saw fire that came to rest on each one of them.
Tremendous fruit was born that day, as 3,000 of the Jews gathered there were saved.
But some mocked the disciples and said they were drunk. (see Acts Chapter 2)
What It Looks Like When You or I Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
So here’s the thing about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In Acts, each disciple has this fire resting on top of them, so each one sees the fire on his fellow disciples, but can’t see his or her own! (If you look closely, you’ll see this depicted in Restout’s Pentacost painting shown at the top of this post) It’s similar to when Samson’s hair was finally cut, and the Philistines attacked him. Judges 16:20 says he did not know that the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:20) Samson couldn’t distinguish between when God’s Spirit inspired strength was with him, and when it wasn’t. It’s similar to when Moses came down from spending 40 days with God and his face was glowing: Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone. (Exodus 34:29-35 KJV) Moses had the residual effects of spending time in God’s presence manifested by a glowing face, but he didn’t even realize it.
That’s how it is with the Holy Spirit. On rare occasions people experience a sign from heaven, or the blowing of a wind, or a burning sensation as from fire, or waves of liquid love. But more often than not, you can’t tell if you have inspiration from God’s Holy Spirit. The only consistent indicator is the bearing of fruit for God’s kingdom, like the 3,000 saved in Jerusalem. The only problem with that is you may plant seed under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, but you may or may not be around when the season of fruit bearing arrives.
But take heart, there’s a solution.
You Can Know:
Did you notice the disciples received God’s Holy Spirit after praying constantly? (Acts 1:14) And also notice they received the Holy Spirit after spending three years with Jesus, three years living with Him, day in and day out, three years of intimacy with Him.
So, even though we usually can’t feel the inspiration and outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be sure we have His Holy Spirit by committing to two simple actions:
1) Like the disciples, we have to spend time with Jesus to ensure we’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (see John Chapter 15) Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, and that includes receiving the Holy Spirit! Like the disciples in Acts, We have to spend time with Him, we have to live our lives with Him, day in and day out, we have to become intimate with Him, before we’ll receive His Holy Spirit. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine,” Jesus said. (John 15:4)
2) Like the disciples, we have to pray constantly. (Acts 1:14) Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13) So, we have to ask. And the way to ask is the way the disciples in Acts asked, we have to pray constantly. Jesus says, if we pray like the woman who persistently pestered the unrighteous judge, God will not put us off, but He’ll answer our prayer. (see Luke 18:1-8)
So there’s the answer. There’s no immediate consistent indicator to let you know God has poured out His Holy Spirit upon you. We usually can’t see any readily discernible manifestation of His Holy Spirit when He’s upon us. But we can know, for sure, we have Him, or will have Him, because Jesus said it, that we can receive God’s Holy Spirit as long as we abide in Jesus, and, as long as we pray constantly, persistently, continually, incessantly for God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us.
There’ll be no bold font letters spelling “God” in the from field in your email box, with the words, “Holy Spirit Poured Out Upon You” in the subject line. But because Jesus says your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! If you ask as the disciples asked, and if you spend time with Christ as the disciples did, you can know, you’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit.
- Dennis J. Bennett, Nine O’Clock in the Morning, Read How You Want, 2011
- Chuck Smith, Living Water, The Word For Today, 1996
- Leona Frances Choy, Powerlines, Christian Publications, 1990
Coming in January of 2020:
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.
(Kindle, hardcover, and paperback are scheduled to come out in 2020.)
The scale of God’s universe from ten to the negative 35th power to ten to the 27th power is beautifully illustrated here:
You might want to check it out.
And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?