Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lessons in Life

This isn't going to be like other posts. This one is different. God showed me a lot about who He is yesterday and who I am not. The fear of the Lord truly is the beginning of understanding. The sooner you come to terms with how amazing and glorious He is, and accept the fact that God is in Himself self-satisfying and honestly doesn't need us, the sooner you are so humbled by the fact that He would love us so much to redeem us. He didn't have to pour out his glory and send Christ to the cross for us, but He did, and it was all in the name of Love. Seeing as God is Love, it was all in the name of God.

I am not the one who saves people. My words alone are not what bring people to Christ. Christ brings people to Christ. I am just the vessel. The sooner I pour out myself and present myself an empty vessel ready to be filled with His love, the more effective I will be for Him

I cannot convince someone of the cross, Christ does that. I can study and learn every last word there is to know about apologetics, theology, doctrine, even verses, but unless I use it in the name of Christ and surrender all that knowledge to Him so that He can use it to glorify Himself, I am useless.

Without love, I am just making a lot of noise. It is His love that should push me, it is Himself that should cause me to live. I am not to go to God because of the stuff He gives me. To be concerned for myself, is to be selfish. I am ever humbled and ever grateful for what He did for me on the cross and have accepted that I can never repay Him and I can never earn it, I already have it. My confession and my faith, my choice, allowed Him to pour His grace on me. He is sooooo goood.

Why God chooses to use me, I will never know. His love is overwhelming and His grace is more than I deserve, He is more merciful than I can ever imagine, and I can't help but love Him. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Paul, Peter and James, David, Solomon and Samson, Elijah, Elisha and Enoch, Job, Noah and Moses is with me. Who can stand against me? What thing is going to happen in my life that God hasn't already approved in order that He might teach me. To think God takes time to get with me on a one on one level blows my mind. I am in Love with Jesus Christ and want nothing more than to serve Him.

My prayer is that we all come to a place of full surrender. 1 Minute of humility is all it takes for God to work an eternity of fruit. Give God 1 minute to use you and I promise next time you'll want to give Him 5. He is so faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Tim 2:13), His mercy is new every day (Lam 3:22-24), He is faithful to answer to all with an open heart (Jer 29:13), He is always looking to be amazing (2 Chron 16:9), He is the God of the universe, the Creator of all things (Isaiah 48:13), everything He does is good (James 1:17), He wants a one on one with everyone and desires all to know His love (2 Peter 3:9). He is awesome.

If that isn't motivation to want to serve Him, if that doesn't jerk even the slightest tear in your eye, if that doesn't cause your spirit to shake (Heb 12:25-28), examine your heart. God should always be a reality in our lives, never an idea. Just ask Isaiah (Isaiah 6) or Peter (Luke 5) or Paul (Acts 9).

Friday, June 25, 2010

I doubt it...

Talk about neglect, I have been so busy with studies and work that I have failed to follow through on my apologetics blogs...sorry about that. I promise though, in time they will start to come up. I have already had so many discussions with random people concerning issues and questions. It is almost like God is first teaching me before I go and retype something I read in a book. I think this is an important lesson.

I was speaking to a young guy today at Borders about the book he was reading. He had the "Dawkins Delusion" on his lap and he was just perusing through it. I proceeded to ask him why that book. He said he had read the "God Delusion" however, refused to just take it at face value. He wanted to see what others had to say. I loved it! A genuine seeker! To make a long story short, we spoke for a good 45 minutes on topics like evil, hypocrisy, the church today, the problems with christians today, who Christ was, the significance of what He said, who He claimed to be, why religion is wrong, and what He did on the cross. He was just two words away from saying yes to Christ on the cross. Reminded me of Jesus and what He did on the cross. Timothy Keller said it best when he described it as though Jesus was our bridegroom (which biblically He refers to Himself as such) and we are the bride, and at the cross, Jesus Christ got on one knee and asked us to be His bride.

I was God's tool for proposal, this guy was literally a knee bow away from saying "I do." While he said he wasn't ready, he did himself say that it is a big decision, and that it was so big not just because of the eternal implications, but also because of the brevity of life. He didn't know it, but he paraphrased James 4:14 when he told me "I could die tonight, I am not promised tomorrow." I loved how after this he also told me he was the kind of person who doesn't like just taking things at face value, he has to research it. I gave him Jeremiah 29:13 "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" He read it aloud and understood the person speaking and the person being addressed.

Why can't we be more like this kid? Mind you, the kid was 14, but he spoke and composed himself as though he were 20. I left him with John 3, and said to start from there and go forward that I was sure if he genuinely wanted truth, that God would show up. It was encouraging to find someone so willing to seek, however, discouraging because so few of us today actually want to know more. While it is important to take things at faith value, wouldn't you want to know as much as possible about the very thing which saves you? Look at Abraham in Genesis 15:2-3, what did he do? How dare he question God right? And yet, look at God's response, He tells him that he will bring forth an heir from his own body (and the word body here is like that of "one flesh" from Gen 2 where God gives man the gift of marriage and love between male and female, hence why it wasn't talking about Hagar), but God doesn't stop there, He then proceeds to wow him by showing him the stars in the sky and telling him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars, talk about wow!

Why would God do that? Abraham is questioning God! Because God, as we know from Jeremiah 29:13, will answer those who seek Him with their whole heart. Abraham was genuinely asking him how this was all going to go down, because Abraham genuinely cared about what he believed in, and because it was a concern and a genuine care, God wowed him and answered. Take John the baptist in Luke 7, he too, even after baptizing God and hearing the voice of God from heaven and seeing the Holy Spirit descend as a dove sent messengers to Jesus asking if He was the Christ.

Their is nothing wrong with questions. In fact a person genuinely seeking the truth is what God wants, because once they find it, they'll defend it to the death and learn more on it. Look at the Bereans in Acts 17:11, they were genuine seekers, they wouldn't take things at what some man would say, they did what 1 Thess 5 says about testing all things, and as a result, verse 12 shows us that many came to faith because they sought after the truth.

We all are seeking some sense of truth. When we find the absolute truth of Christ, we should be eager to defend it and proclaim it to the death. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. If you ask questions with the right heart, God WILL answer. When a person approaches us with questions, be ready to answer, because your answers may be the water God uses to cause a seed to spring up and grow.

"A faith without doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person's faith can collapse almost overnight if they have failed over the years to listen patiently to their own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection[...]it is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them" - Timothy Keller (The Reason for God, pg. xvi-xvii)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Chief Apologist...

At first glance a gun looks like a simple thing to use. You pull the trigger and out comes a bullet traveling on average at about 1000 FPS (assuming it is a handgun, your average handgun). Did you know though, that in order to fire the gun correctly, you must first load it with bullets? You must then place the clip loaded with bullets into the handle of the gun; depending on the gun you might have to pull back the hammer, pull back the slide, or in some cases pull back the bolt, after which the bullet is loaded and you're ready to fire, or are you? What are you shooting at? Why are you shooting? And the big question, should you even be shooting in the first place? Not so simple any more is it.

It is a heavy responsibility to own a gun and as simplistic as it is, there is more to shooting a gun than just pulling a trigger. There is a lot to consider before you make the decision to fire. The same can be said with Apologetics. I'll start by saying this, Apologetics does not give anyone the right to argue. The second you argue, you run the risk of losing not the argument necessarily, but more importantly, the person.

Proverbs 18:19 " A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle"

You're not out to upset people with your opinion. The only offense you should have is the offense of the cross. Offense of the cross? Well yeah, the only thing that should offend someone is the message of Jesus Christ and not the attitude or tone of the person speaking. It goes hand in hand with what John the Baptist said when he stated: "I must decrease, He must increase" In order for the message of the gospel to be powerful, we must always remember to remove our opinion, our pride, our anger, ourselves really. If you're going to offend someone, be sure it is through the cross. Some offenses of the cross include the following: they will be offended because you are telling them they are sinners, or showing them the gruesome death on the cross, or showing them that they alone cannot effect their salvation. People don't like hearing these things, however, the cross is the only offense, not my opinion. It is all about love. If you upset someone because of you, you lost them; upset them because of the cross, then the holy spirit has something to work with and isn't denied because of the "bars" of your offense.

I think I beat this one into the floor at this point. Let's check out what the Chief Apologist does to oust those who bring contentions to the gospel and the bible. Matt 15:1-9 and Matt 22:41-46 to me are some of the best example of Apologetics straight from Jesus. Notice in both cases how Christ worked. He first allowed his contenders to bring to Him their issue. He then repeated to them what they were saying and through the use of their own beliefs showed them the self-contradiction or self-defeat embedded in their statements. Jesus knew what they knew and He knew it well, better than they did. I especially love the response in Matt 22, they had nothing to say in response, and they let Him be from then on, talk about getting owned.

You might say that Jesus here is offending them directly from His pride, however, go back to Matt 15 and check out verses 10-14, Jesus explains to the disciples that while yes they were offended, they were offended because of their blindness to the truth and their pride to adhere to their beliefs and not for a second consider what Christ was saying. He was merely speaking truth, however, because they had created their own truth within their minds, they as a result of THE truth were offended, not by how Christ was saying it, but by what Christ was saying. Huge difference. We know from Matt 3 that John warned the pharisees of their need to repent and we know that throughout the gospels, Christ made it clear to them the folly of their ways and their desperate need to repent and be TRUE whole-hearted followers of Christ and not priests like those of Malachi.

Jesus time and time again shows the pharisees the folly in their ways by using their own laws and teaching them the true meaning of what they believed. To do this, one must really know well that which he is up against in order that he can be ready to answer (1 Peter 3:15, 2 Tim 4:2). One of the verses God gave me in my prayers asking Him if I should pursue Apologetics was Proverbs 15:28. I had never read it prior to a few weeks ago and later I come to find that it is one of the core verses that apologists stand by (it was totally God! Gotta love Him). "The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil" Studies here is the hebrew word 'hagah' which is to muse, ponder, utter, roar. God is basically calling all who call themselves righteous to think before they speak and know of what they speak so that they might roar it in the face of opposition and speak with authority. As saints and followers of Christ, we are given power to bind and loosen (Matt 18) and are commanded to defend our faith (Jude 3).

Like I previously stated, this isn't about being the smartest guy in the room. It is about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and being ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15, greek word apologia, hence apologetics) to those who ask us from where we get our joy. The questions will be many. Never argue, never offend by opinion, only defend and stand firm (Isaiah 7:9) and offend by His grace, love, mercy, and salvation. Christ came to bring a sword (Matt 10) which is to say not everyone will agree with us and not everyone will be willing to listen, but we must always be willing to speak and be ready. Never for a second count anyone out, even the driest bones can be brought to life (Eze 37). Faith, prayer, preparation and a heavy dose of love. You never know what your words might do (1 Cor 3:5-10), so be wise is saying them and never count anyone beyond God's grace.

I promise this is the last post on preaching Apologetics. If you're willing to continue, then lets rock on. I'll be posting once or twice a week (if I can) some apologetics topics. If you guys have any ideas, comments, suggestions, or question, please send them my way and I'll be sure to post the questions and take into consideration all the godly counsel possible.

Just to give you an idea of stuff I'll be jumping on:

1. How can evil and God both exist? Did God create Evil?
2. Can we trust the over translated bible?
3. How can a loving God send people to hell?
4. Is the trinity a reality?

It'll be fun :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010



It makes little sense,
How I spit in Your face,
And there's no recompense,
How I trashed Your creation,
And there's nothing but love,
How I murdered Your Only,
And You sent me a Dove.

I have to cry sometimes when I stop and think of just how much He has done for me. As a sinner all I do is complicate things when in reality it is simple. Love. It is all love. Napoleon Bonaparte (yeah an unexpected person to quote I know) said it best when asked about Jesus: "Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him" I don't know where Napoleon stood with God, and it is not my place to ask, however, he was spot on when it came to his quote on Jesus. He is all love. His message drips with love, it oozes love, it emits love, it IS love.

Love your God with your all, offering Him the best of what you have, holding no good thing back. It is the basis by which we ought practice apologetics. Yes, love is an important element in apologetics, because without love, it is just noise (1 Cor 13:1). Don't aim to be the smartest person in the room. It isn't about being right, it is about love. You love them enough to share with them the truth of Christ, which is His love. Apologetics helps in the tearing down of scales, but it must always be done in love. Once scales are torn, then comes a heavy dose of Christ's love...

It is the first lesson in learning to defend your faith. Check out the following video of an awesome apologist Ravi Zacharias and notice his tone, his answer, and his willingness to answer:

Next blog will be on the best apologist to have walked the earth. We'll get a lesson in defending the faith from the Chief Apologist is pretty sweet!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Humiliating Humanism....

So I had a run in with humanity yesterday. Well I wouldn't say it was a run in, as I have to live with humanity everyday, however, the specific instance in question really brought to a reality something that I tend to forget with time.

I was talking to a friend from work that morning, and we were actually talking about Christ. I have been witnessing to them for some time now and really challenging them to examine their beliefs. I won't get into to much detail, however, in the middle of my convo I slipped up. I let out a cuss word. Now in the past, cuss words were part of my vocabulary. In fact I bought into the lie that cuss words make statements both funny and emphatic. These days, having Christ, it is different. Now in the past when I would sin, I would get that feeling many call condemnation, however, I quickly remember Romans 8:1-2 and go from feeling condemned to being convicted.

It is a beautiful thing to be convicted because if taken properly and truly seen through the eyes of humility, conviction can lead to something even greater, which is where I found myself. Check out 2 Cor 7:8-12 when you get a chance. What I realized in my sin was just how horrible I am and how futile it is to try and keep the law within my own power. In doing so I become a major pharisee and we know what God thinks of them (Matt 23), in fact Christ goes on to say those who practice the law but have no heart are lawless (Matt 7:23).

It was humiliating in the sense that my human nature, humbled me to the point where I realized I needed to really draw nearer to God. It is a beautiful thing when you come to grips with your sin nature and realize what the meaning of "perfect law of liberty" is from James 1:25. That perfect law of liberty is Christ. His two commandments were: 1. Love God with your all 2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The first is "easy" to understand because it just means to most of us, Love God. What does it mean to love God with our all? Realize that the 1st commandment, if done correctly and truly, leads to the following of every other commandment. Not only am I referring to the first commandment of the two mentioned, but I'm also referring to the first of the ten commandments. Martin Luther put it best (and I am paraphrasing) when he says that a person who breaks any of the 9 commandments after the first must first break the first.

In order for me to lie, I need to think my cause greater than God's, which would be having a god before God. To steal, I need to think my "need" greater than what God knows I need, thereby making my need a god that goes before God. See the issue? Enter the perfect law of liberty, whose center is on love. To obey the law out of love for God and what He did for you by loving you first makes it liberating, hence why we feel so free when we are in Christ. This is also the definition to what Paul means when he says we are no longer subject to the law (not to say that we don't need to follow it [Rom 6], because if we love Him, we'll keep His commandments.) To obey is better than sacrifice, and to obey with all your heart is the true act of love.

A bit of tangent, however, bring it all together. Lets face it, no one will ever be able to keep the law. It is like what James says in James 2:10, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." We are going to break the law. No one can keep it cover to cover, enter Jesus: The lamb of God that takes away the sins of world (John 1:29).

We can actually get some quick apologetics from this. Good and evil, what determines the two? Moral law does. Now the kicker, where did the moral law come from and why do we try so hard to keep it? Enter C.S. Lewis: "Even people that deny objective right and wrong cannot refrain from believing in them. Moreover, people are unable to live out the moral law they know they should. " Lewis argued that this moral law, coupled with humanity's inability to fulfill it, allows Christianity to begin "talking". Face it, we need help, better put, we need forgiveness, and only the person who created that morality can free us from the judgment that comes from failing to keep it. It was God who wrote morality into our hearts. You cannot arrive at morality through science.

I messed up when I cussed, but in my cussing, I was reminded of a line from a Relient K song I love: "I am hostage, to my own humanity, self-detained and forced to live in this mess I've made" He goes on to admit that He fought God for so long only to realize that while he was trying to save his own life, so was God. (Be My Escape - Relient K). My humanity humbles me and it reminds me of how much more I need to rely on His strength and not my own (Phil 4:13).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Apologize for the Delay...

I've been praying about this like crazy, and after receiving so much confirmation from God, I think it is time to make the following idea known to my readers and to begin making this a reality. To give you some background....

If you have read my blog before then you know, God has gifted me with a brain. Most of my life, it was all I had and I misused it for my own personal gain. Granted, ever since I came to Christ, He has shown me just how dumb I am. I think I'm smart...dude, My smartest thought is no where near God's "dumbest" thought, and let me just say, none of His thoughts are dumb...(Jer 29:11, Isaiah 55:7-8).

For me, when you believe in something, you do all you can to defend it and support it. I used to work at The Container Store, Best Buy, and some web developing company. While working in these places, I was asked to sell products to clients and customers. At the beginning of my employment in all these places, I loved the products. I believed in the products, over time though, the products and the makers of the products showed themseleves to be shallow and empty. The products lost their luster and I began losing trust in the products. So much so that my sales would go down.

The same can be applied to Faith in Christ. The only difference is, when you truly follow after Christ and have a true genuine faith in Him, the "product" never loses its luster. Since God is the same past, present, and future, He remains consistent, and as a result, you are the one who changes. He begins changing you as you come to realize how permanent, real and unchanging His love and all His mercies and truths are.

As a believer, you should take joy in defending that which has saved your life. Enter 1 Peter 3:15. Within the context, 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to defend our joy. What does that mean? Well in the verses preceding it, Peter talks to us about trials and tribs and suffering, similar to James 1:2-4. What can we get from this? Well to paraphrase and save on time, Peter is telling us that it is a good thing we go through trials with a smile. And be ready, people will ask you why you smile in the midst of trials and why it is you stand firm in Christ while the rest of your world seems to be crashing. In response to these questions, Peter tells us to be ready to defend our joy. The word defend there is the greek "apologia" which means: 1) to defend one's self, make one's defence, 2) to defend a person or a thing3) to give a full account of. If you break the word down even further, one part of it means to separate and the other means of speech. To separate oneself through speech. This doesn't just mean tame your tongue like James says in chapter 3, it means defend your belief through speech.

Set yourself apart from the world through your speech and through your speech defend that which has set you apart (which is the definition of the word saint *set apart*). By now you know what it is I am getting at: Apologetics. I am a huge apologetics fan and in the past couple of months, the Lord has been revealing to me that this is the direction in which I ought go. From now going forward, I will be posting at least one apologetics topic a week on my blog. I'll either pose a question or a statement. I'll present the non-biased side of the skeptic/scientist/world and then present some logical argument that won't include any bible in it, then I'll present the bible. It is going to be sweet. I will say this much, as an inexperienced apologist, this will all be God. God is who has given me this learned tongue, not anyone else. (Isaiah 50:4)

A word to you that the Lord gave me:

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

Before going on, remember one thing abour your speech: 1 Cor 13
Before answering a stubborn person, remember what Christ said: Matt 7:6
Remember what James tells us in: James 1:19

I suggest for anyone who is interested in the topic to take a ride through Proverbs and pay close attention to speech. Prov 17:28, Prov 18:21, Prov 19:11, Prov 18:20, Prov 15:1, Prov 15:7, Prov 12:13-14, Prov 13:3, Prov 26:4-5 (I'll be writing up something on this soon).

And as the basis for your knowledge, remember this: Prov 1:7.

This is just the beginning, over the next few weeks, I'll be posting up some stuff God has been giving me in this area. We need to establish the right foundation first before we head into the storm, else we'll fall.(Matt 7:24-27)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Every Breath....

Your Breath

I breathe and my lungs bring forth nothing,
With every breath I waste time,
Like the wind through a pasture,
So my breath passes, yielding nothing...

But Your breath is everlasting,
For with it You brought up nations,
With You brought forth life,
From Your nostrils I was born,

From Your mouth came forth existence,
From Your breath came to be good,
From mine came death and evil,
From Yours came a second chance,

Your last breath on that cross brought life,
Your breath gave us Your word,
By which we ought breathe,
By which we ought live.

Your breath restores,
Mine destroys,
Your breath lifts up,
Mine tears down,

Breathe in me and through me,
Let me breathe Your work,
And may my breath breathe Your love,
So that all who breathe it in might be saved...