Baptism: Biblical Waterboarding

Posted on August 19, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , |

As a person with swimming skills a step above the doggie paddle, I always had a mild heart attack anytime a friend dunked me in the pool. Even if it was 3 feet of water, panic always briefly gripped my heart. So, a few weeks ago when our church was baptizing people, I realized it’s a bit ironic I look forward to watching others get ‘dunked.’ And when you think about it, whether it’s a little sprinkle on the forehead for an infant or complete immersion, baptism is kind of a weird ritual. Why do we do it? Where did it come from?

I always assumed baptism was invented by a rugged bug-eating-camel hair-wearing Hebrew (i.e. John the Baptist) shortly before Christ’s ministry began. But you know what they say when you assume…Turns out the practice went back a bit farther than that.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a gas station bathroom? That’s the feeling the Jews had about Gentiles (anyone that isn’t Hebrew). As such, when a Gentile coverts to Judaism, they have to be made clean in a ceremony called ‘proselyte baptism.’

Enter John the Baptist. The controversial thing about John was that he wasn’t just baptizing Gentiles – he was calling out the Jews too. He claimed the Messiah was coming and that even the Jews were unworthy to receive him  (Matthew 3:1-12).  To be made clean, they needed to repent and turn to God. Think about it as reverse water-boarding: you confess the Truth and then get the water treatment.

This of course raises the question – why would Jesus, a man without sin, need to be baptized? You could write a book on that topic, but in short, Christ had to submit the Law perfectly. By being baptized he was obeying a command from God’s prophet (John the Baptist) and setting an example for us to follow.

After Jesus rose, he told his followers to go make more disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  Where as the baptisms John administered were in preparation for the Messiah, the baptism Christ commands us to do marks the beginning of a life following him. In him we are made clean and made new, not by water, but by Spirit (Matthew 3:11).Christians recognize, though we are not worthy to receive him, Christ bore our sins so that we could be made new, clean, and righteous before God which is signified through baptism.

You might be saying, “I get that baptism is important (after all it is commanded by a locust-eating man of the wilderness and God incarnate), but why do some churches dunk babies and others dunk adults? Can you go to heaven if you don’t get baptized?” In the next post, I will explain some of these differences and why my kids haven’t been baptized …yet.

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Don’t Wait for the Storm, Toss the Baggage Now

Posted on August 14, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Relationships, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , |

Our church is currently studying the book of Jonah, which is actually one of my favorite books. It’s not just because like every child of the 90s, I have a soft spot in my heart for whales (if that kid could train a killer whale, anyone can). The book of Jonah is great because it’s short, easy to understand and full of satire (obviously my favorite literary technique).

As I was reading through the first chapter, this verse stood out to me:

“Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship” (Jonah 1:5).

Just to refresh your memory, the book begins with the prophet Jonah running from God.  Jonah was commanded by God to warn the Assyrians living in Nineveh to repent or be destroyed. Historically speaking, the Assyrians were pagans; and not your tree-hugging, Green Peace types; they were the skinning people alive and washing them down with a nice Chianti. Naturally, Jonah was worried he would become man-stew or man-jerky, so hopped on a boat, and went as far as he could in the opposite direction (Tarshish is in modern-day Spain). Unfortunately, disobeying a direct order from God may induce hurricane force winds as a side effect. While the storm was raging, the non-Hebrew sailors began tossing things over board to lighten the load and avoid sinking.

Why do we wait until we’re in the middle of a storm to toss out our extra baggage? Though the sailors may have thrown over some valuable belongings, they would have kept the items that they needed for the trip, the things that were irreplaceable. Only those items that were needlessly occupying space and weight would have been abandoned (thus, Jonah had to go).

I think we’re all guilty of carrying around too much baggage. For some of us, the baggage is extraordinarily heavy and burdensome, possibly past mistakes, relationships, or life choices that are still weighing us down.

But baggage doesn’t always have to be one heavy load, it could just be a bunch of small stuff that adds up. I realized my ship had a few too many fillers in it, like endlessly scanning status updates on Facebook and being too interested in the news cycle. Neither of these are bad by themselves, but they aren’t exactly life-enhancing either.

Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Extra baggage demands time and energy that we too often take for granted. It keeps us from living life and loving others to the fullest. Life doesn’t employ the TSA to inappropriately grope you or screen your luggage to ensure you aren’t carrying something you shouldn’t be. Sadly, it usually takes a storm in our life for us to realize we’ve been hauling around too much.

What nonessential cargo are you guilty of storing? Is anything keeping you from connecting with others or connecting with God? Perhaps you just need to play a little baggage Tetris by setting priorities. But you might also realize there are few things you should probably toss overboard before a storm forces you to do so. But I’ll bet after a little time, you’ll find you don’t really miss that extra baggage anyways.

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Listen Up!

Posted on July 22, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When I was in elementary school, I got pegged to train in ‘Peer Mediation.’ It was a program where students who were having an argument of some type could settle their disputes by attending (usually by adult threat of force) a mediation session counseled by two unbiased (in theory) students. If it sounds nerdy, that’s because it was from the same teachers that thought DARE would keep kids from trying drugs. But one thing they hammered in training was this: listen. Conversations will naturally produce talking, but you have to actively listen to the other party if you want a relationship.

I’d say most of us want a relationship with God, but how many of us actively listen to Him? Probably not many, but why is that?

John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” One reason we don’t listen to God might be because we don’t know what God ‘sounds’ like. When we think of God talking, I think most of us return to the story of Moses talking with the bush that was on fire but did not burn. I also think about Jacob wrestling with God – I would imagine it’s pretty easy to listen to God when he’s putting you in an arm bar. But I came across this verse this week that really spoke to me:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Too often I think we’re focused on dodging falling boulders, putting out fires, or as my husband would say, playing whack-a-mole with the alligator closest to the boat. As a result, we never tune out life’s cacophony to hear what we claim we want to hear and certainly what we need to hear.

The other reason I think we don’t hear God: we’re too busy talking to Him. My pastor recently said that he spends 95% of his prayer time just listening…Obviously, he’s a man. I think it’s difficult for anyone to just listen, but extra hard for a woman. I read once that men on average use 7,000 words a day while women use 21,000. Sounds about right.

It’s easy to become too focused on telling God all about my needs, desires, even thanking Him for what He has provided me. As a result, I forget there’s someone else I need to yield the conversation to. I actually wondered, would God ever try to interrupt me if He had something He needed to say? Then it occurred me, it’s more likely that I’ve interrupted Him when there was something He wanted to say. There’s a sobering thought for how I’ve treated the creator of the universe.

So, who would have thought after all this time that my Peer Mediation training would turn out to be useful and remind me I need to focus a little more on listening in order to grow my relationship with God. I may not get to the 95% point, but at least I’ll be more successful than DARE – will you?

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Who Do You Have A Friend In?

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cover of "Toy Story: An Original Walt Dis...

Cover via Amazon

My nearly 2-year-old son has fallen in love with  “Toy Story.” I’m thankful that the kid has good taste, considering I’ll probably be watching it a lot over the next few years. There’s great characters, an original story line, (clean) adult humor, and pretty catchy tunes. I’ve actually had “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” in my head for the better part of a week now, which got me thinking, who should I have a friend in?

Friends are interesting creatures. The meaning of the word ‘friend’ has always been somewhat ambiguous. There’s your ‘friends’ that you’re friendly with but don’t really know too well. Then there’s the ‘just friends,’ which is usually someone of the opposite sex that you want to be more than friends with. Or the ‘friend’ that sat three rows behind you in Anthropology and you didn’t even know their name until they ‘friended’ you on Facebook. And then there’s the people that genuinely enrich your life.  All of these people are defined as ‘friends.’

But what does a biblical friendship look like? How do we know who we should be friendly with and who should be our companions in life?

We intrinsically know that friends are people you enjoy spending time with and usually share something in common with, like a love of a sports team or where you went to school together. The books of Amos echoes this: “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3). Yet, Amos takes our basic understanding of friendship to the next level by suggesting friends need to have their destination and the way they are getting there in common.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think Amos meant my girlfriend and I need to agree on how we get to frozen yogurt shop, though that’s also important. Friends communicate and agree on where they want to go in life and equally important, how they plan to get there.

Most people don’t give too much consideration to where they want to be or how they are getting there. But Christians have a friendly tour guide and road map, which give us direction. Christ himself laid out who his BFFs were when he said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).

While part of me wants to pretend a friend is someone who does whatever I command, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus meant here. Instead, his words lead me to believe a true friend is someone who is doing will of our Father, someone who confides in and knows Him. I realized, a friend is someone who brings you closer to your final destination, being with God.

Look at some of the best examples of friendship in the Bible: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naoami, Elisha and Elija, Balaam and his donkey. In each of them, both parties knew they wanted to follow God by obeying his words. Through assassination attempts, deaths of loved ones, and other life trials, these friendships endured because these people (and animal) weren’t focussed on pleasing themselves or even the other person. Rather, they were focussed on God.

This may sound like a simple concept, not too many of us are friends with murderers. But it can be difficult to sever relationships, platonic or romantic, with people who drive us from God rather than bring us closer to Him. We might even be tempted to think God ‘placed them in our lives.’ But verses like 2 Corinthians 6:14 and 1 John 2:15 lead me to question if God would want me to confide in someone who doesn’t agree on my life’s route or destination.

I’m blessed to have the friends who will ensure I check myself befo’ I wreck myself  (Proverbs 27:17). It’s my prayer that you’ll take the time to reflect on the relationships you surround yourself with to ensure they are drawing you closer to your destination. Hopefully, these are the people who will be with you from now to infinity and beyond.

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The Second Curse

Posted on July 8, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Sopranos title screen.

The Sopranos title screen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband and I have been catching up on some American pop culture by watching “The Sopranos” over the past few months. I’m pretty sure we’re the last people to see the show, but in case I’m wrong, it follows the life of Tony Soprano as he attempts to balance his personal life with running the New Jersey mafia. We’ve reached the point where his marriage is falling apart after years of lies, betrayals and abundant pastel furniture have finally taken their toll. Though they are married, Tony and his wife know very little about each other.

While I don’t think that too many people are sleeping around with one-legged Russians without their spouse knowing, it is common today for people to keep things from their spouse. For some it might be thousands of dollars on a credit card, for others it might just be holding back what you really want to say. For Carmella, Tony’s wife, it’s the latter. Like many women, she focuses on her role as the dutiful wife and hides from her fears. Fear of what would happen to her marriage, her children, her friends and her future if she took a stand against her husband.

I confess, I’ve wrongly judged people like this. I pride myself on having a completely open relationship with my husband (we aren’t swingers, we just communicate frequently). I struggle to relate with people who feel they can’t or shouldn’t tell their spouse something, because I believe God calls a married couple to become one in other ways than purely sexual. But the word of God is alive, powerful, and will show me how my ego is bigger than any greasy Jersey hair-do (Hebrews 4:12).

It’s clear to me that husbands and wives are indeed called to be one, but I wonder if some of us (myself included) take this concept too far (Genesis 2:22-25). In a post-women’s lib movement, American culture says that men and women are equal and if we’re being completely honest, we’ve beat down the roll of the dominate masculine man and replaced it with a more passive, dare I say effeminate, male.

While marriage is a partnership with each spouse playing an equally important role, women are called to submit their husbands because they are the leaders of the family (Ephesians 5:22-24). Some women are uncomfortable with the idea of submission because they associate it with a dog submitting to his master. But the comparison in Ephesians is that between Christ and the Church. I don’t think any Christian really thinks the Church is somehow degraded because it must submit to Christ. The Church has a very legitimate role to fulfill, but it must do so while being subservient to it’s leader.

Others of us (this is where I come in) agree with submission in theory, but execute it poorly. At its core, when women are called to submit, we are being called to respect our husbands and the awesome responsibility God has given them. We’re called to be their helpers in fulfilling their roles as leaders (Genesis 2:18-20). But let’s face it, we think they could do a better job and have little problem telling them so. It’s always going to be that way. Seriously, it’s Biblical. When we think of God punishing Eve after the Fall, we typically think of childbirth, i.e. rearing children. But there was a second curse: “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Women will always seek for men to make them happy, and they will never fulfill them completely (that’s reserved for someone else). My husband is a strong, loving, supportive, Godly man, yet I somehow always manage to find something I wish was done ‘better.’ Sadly, an epidural won’t take this curse away; I’ve just got to learn to love God by showing respect to my husband. How’s that done? By holding the tongue:

“It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home” (Proverbs 21:9).

“A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15).

Solomon has a lot to say about the nagging wife (and he should since he had hundreds of them), but none of it is good. When women share all their feelings or express their desires, even under the auspices of ‘being one’, it can often come across as just complaining and disrespectful. Though the people who hide their true feelings out of fear or apathy are also sinning, those of us who tell our spouses everything could probably learn something from couples who have mastered the art of discretion.

Ladies, we’ll always find something that we’d like done differently (a wadded up towel on the dish rack, dirty socks right next to the hamper), but pointing out all these ‘suggestions’ isn’t being a good helper or a respectful wife. I know I for one need to work on having more discretion and encouragement.  But the good news is that a woman who is a virtuous wife to her husband isn’t just some rug a husband walks all over. In fact, she gives her husband’s life meaning and is worth more to him than fine rubies, which are certainly more valuable than all the gaudy gold jewelry along the Jersey shore (Proverbs 31:1-12).

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Father’s Day Edition

Posted on June 17, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , |

As I was shopping for Father’s Day cards I realized America doesn’t have too much respect for dear ol’ Dad. According to Hallmark, the only thing that will pull Dad away from having a beer while he’s watching TV in a cloud of his own flatulence is a rousing game of golf (though, admittedly, I did let my son get a bathroom humored card). If you turn on a “family” TV show, Dad is typically caricatured as chauvinistic absent-minded fool.

Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I realize television characters and card illustrations of fathers are made in jest, I do think it’s a pretty accurate depiction of how degraded the man’s role in the American family has become. It seems that that the responsibility for the family is increasingly falling on the shoulders of Mom, rather than Dad. In many families,  Dad may (or may not) bring home the bacon, but Mom does too and also determines how finances are allocated, how children are raised, what church to attend and the rules that govern the household while Dad enforces whatever Mom decides is law. And when 50% of marriages end in divorce and 40% of children are born out of wedlock, many times Dad simply isn’t around at all.

Even though it’s ‘normal,’ having a physically or emotionally absent Dad has it’s downsides. Boys without fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail, and four times as likely to be treated for emotional/behavioral problems as boys with a father. Girls are more likely to become sexually active earlier in life, have lower academic performance, and are more likely to use drugs and alcohol without an engaged father.

Despite what the world says, God has high expectations for fathers. Of course women have roles to fulfill (certainly the never-ending pile of laundry), but responsibility for the family ultimately rests on men of God (1 Cor 11:3, Eph 5:23). Most husbands love the idea that their wives and children should submit to their authority, however they don’t care for the responsibility of command. Men cannot take a passive role in their children’s lives; leaving them to learn the ways of the world from music, movies, and public schools. Instead they must remain engaged, providing for their families as Paul said, “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Tim 5:8). ‘Providing for’ does not only entail physical needs. God calls men to be leaders for their families, “ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Eph 6:4). God revealed His instructions for life to us in the Bible. God’s instructions cover how to relate to one another in marriage, friendship, and other relationships, how to handle our finances, how to view politics and our work. He even covers vomit-eating dogs (Prov 26:11). God calls Christian men to be active, constantly teaching their families about Him and demonstrating His love through their actions (Deut 6:4-9). They are to live a life worthy of their families’ respect.

This Father’s Day take time to reflect on the awesome responsibly God has entrusted on Christian fathers. Don’t just give him a card or a tie, offer him love, respect, encouragement, a prayer and if he’s been especially good, the remote.

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A Straight Answer on Gay Marriage

Posted on May 20, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Government | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Whenever I don’t know what to write about next, I look at the cover of Newsweek. This time, the magazine is depicting President Obama with a rainbow halo and the words, “The First Gay President,” fueling yet another debate over gay marriage.

Yes,  I’m one of the politically incorrect Christians that thinks being gay is a sin. It’s not because I’m a bigot or because I’m mad the gay community has hijacked and monopolized the rainbow, rather it’s because Scripture tells me it is. There’s the Old Testament verses like Lev 18:22 or Paul’s writings that lay it all out (1 Cor 6:9, Romans 1:26-27), but many in the Church disregard these because ‘Jesus didn’t say it.’ Yet, Christ did define marriage as a man and a woman thereby negating homosexuality, polygamy, or anything else  (Matt 19:4-9, Mark 10:3-12). To me, there’s no question that Christians should be opposed to gay marriage within the Church. The question I struggle with is: should Christians deny those outside the Church?

When Paul wrote to the nascent church in Corinth, it was common for the Greeks to have homosexual partners, which Paul opposed. Yet, when he called for the Greek disciples to abstain from sexual immorality, he also told them it was not his place to judge those outside the Church:

“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you” (1 Cor 5:12-13).

Paul is telling us that we should not focus our scorn on the non-believers, but rather that we should ensure those claiming to be Christ-followers are practicing what they preach. Isn’t that the biggest complaint about Christians today – that we are hypocrites? How can we use force (i.e. government) to define ‘holy’ marriage, when the Church elects gay bishops, covers-ups the molestation of  children, ignores pornography, adultery, cohabitation and maintains the same divorce rate as non-Christians?

Christians should be more concerned with spreading the Gospel than legislating their will onto others (something we certainly wouldn’t want them doing to us).  Christianity was able to spread throughout the Roman Empire, including carnal Corinth, and eventually transform it because early Christians focused on love, not law.  If we focus more on being lights for the world, maybe the sanctity of marriage along with the rest of our culture could be saved. After all, it’s God that gives marriage its value, not government.

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Apologetics II: Evolution of the iPhone?

Posted on May 15, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , |

iphone Deutsch: iphone

iphone Deutsch: iphone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The heavens declare the glory of God” is a nice Bible verse for a sunset on the beach or a photo of a star-lit night (Psalm 19:1). But doesn’t this verse also suggest that God makes Himself known throughout all creation?

Consider how fortunate we are to live on Earth; our placement in the solar system means we are close enough to the Sun that it remains warm enough to sustain life, but far enough away that we don’t melt from daylight. The planet’s tilted axis not only allows for four beautiful seasons (or two if you’re from Cleveland), but also signals hibernation and migratory habits of thousands of species of animals. Earth’s liquid alloy outer core creates a magnetic field that allows just the right amount of the Sun’s radiation in to heat the planet but repels the harmful radiation that would fry its inhabitants, not to mention it’s useful navigational purposes.

Or consider gravity. If this force was too strong, galaxies and stars would be smaller and closer together, increasing chances of interstellar collisions, obviously threatening any ‘chances’ for developing sustainable life. Yet, if gravity was too weak, galaxies, stars, and planets would have never formed at all.

Or we could scale it down a bit and just contemplate a human cell. Each of our cells contains six feet of organically stored information in our DNA strands. Some might say, “that’s not that impressive, we have computers that can store way more than that.” But even our most advanced technology cannot regenerate or replicate itself. We cannot even create one cell with all of our knowledge, yet the human body contains millions, and every cell knows what part it plays.

What I may or may not be successfully demonstrating here is that everything from the structure of a tiny cell up to the forces that govern the physics in universe have a specific purpose. Their constitution suggests that the universe and life inside it were not the product of random explosions or some lightning-struck primordial goo that transformed into a complex self-aware creature, but that an intelligent designer constructed everything with intent. Even the head cheerleader of the skeptics, Richard Dawkins, acknowledged this when he defined biology as, “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

Defending the faith by illustrating the complexity of the universe is called the “teleological argument.” Here’s an example I’ve stolen (and modified) from William Paley:

Suppose you were walking along a deserted island when all of the sudden you stumble across an iPhone. You pick it up, notice it is a piece of machinery perfectly crafted to allow you to take photos, play music, tell time, check the news, play games, and it connects you to other people so you don’t have to talk to a volleyball with a bloody handprint on it.

Would it be logical for you to assume that the telephone was the result of billions of years of sand and rocks being exposed to the elements in such a way that it formed into this intricate piece of technology? Or, would it be logical to assume that the phone had a designer? Likewise, it is logical for us to examine anything in the universe, see it’s complexities and particular structure and conclude it, and we, have a designer.

Not only does this argument suggest we have a creator, but it also implies that He is a personal one. You can’t accidentally design an iPhone. It takes years of study, planning, and attention to detail in order to develop something with a purpose. An inventor with such dedication has an affinity for his creation and wants recognition for his accomplishments and indeed deserves them. How much more must our Creator love us and deserves our adoration.

So, next time you gaze up at the the heavens, remember that like the stars, telephones, and the rest of creation, we too should proclaim our Creator’s glory.

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Apologetics I: The Cosmo-logical Argument

Posted on May 6, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Cosmopolitan (cocktail)

Cosmopolitan (cocktail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my readers recently posed a question to me: “How do we know there is a God”? There’s a lot of ways to answer this question, and lots of people smarter than me have written many leather-bound books doing so. But my reader didn’t ask them, so here is my response. I’ll begin by first looking at the ‘cosmological argument’ – cliff notes version.

The ‘cosmological argument’ basically says that something had to make the cosmos (as in the universe, drinks included). All of the ‘stuff’ in the universe didn’t just appear. This argument is based on the ‘Law of Causality’: every effect has a cause. Let’s say I have one more ‘follower’ because my charm finally wooed someone to subscribe to my blog. The effect is that I have one more follower; the cause was my charm….obviously.

Not too hard of a concept to grasp right? Simply take any object in the universe and ask, ‘where did it come from?’ until you find the root cause. For example, every girl loves cosmopolitans. It’s a fact. They are a smooth and sweet with just a hint of sour that makes for a wonderful pink cocktail that any girl (and honest guy) loves to drink. But where do cosmos come from? Vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and triple sec, obviously. But where did those come from? Well, the vodka came from water, fermented potatoes, and Russian tears. Cranberry juice comes from cranberries, lime juice from limes, and triple sec from distilled orange peels. But where did they come from? So, the potatoes grew from tubers under the ground…and on and on we could go.

Ultimately, this question points to an origin that must exist outside the universe and time in order to have created everything. Aristotle referred to this something as the Prime Mover, First Cause or Uncaused Cause (’cause it caused everything else). This ‘something’ must have always existed and always will exist. It must simply be by virtue of being itself. Christians call this something God (Ex 3:14).

Skeptics reject this argument a few ways. First, they say it actually violates the Law of Causality because the ‘something’ must also have come from something.  Basically saying that ‘if God made everything, then who/what made God?’ But remember, the Law of Causality states that every effect must have a cause, but God is not an effect, and therefore needs no cause.  After all, God’s name in Hebrew literally means “I am, who I am.” He was not created, He just is.

Some people claim that the universe ‘created itself.’ So, given enough nothing (no atoms, no light, no energy…nothing) and then add more nothing and enough time …and more time, you will eventually get something. Given a bajillion years of nothing and time, you’ll get more and more stuff until finally, you have our universe.  I thought Redi’s maggots and the Law of Conservation of Energy put this one to rest, but apparently not.

The Law of Non-Contradition says that A cannot be A and non-A at the same time (for example, an apple cannot be an apple and not an apple at the same time). By definition, in order to be created, brought into being, there must be a creator or one who brings into being. If the universe created itself, it would have to have exist before it didn’t exist. Yet, it cannot exist and not exist at the same time. We can toss out this argument. And Christians are the one’s working on blind faith?

So, in the end, we all need to recognize and give thanks to the Creator of the universe…and more importantly, cosmos.

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How to Handle the Truth

Posted on April 29, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

A few weeks ago, I posted a survey requesting feedback on what readers wanted to see more about. I was a little surprised that some requested apologetic-related topics. Since my blog is tailored to a Christian audience, this response indicates one of three things: 1. some of you are just as nerdy as me 2. some of you are not Christians but are curious why I am or 3. some of you don’t know how to correctly cast a vote. Regardless of the reason, I’m going to be spending the next few posts focusing on apologetics, which is a fancy way of saying, “defending Christianity”.

But first, in case you aren’t automatticly interested in this topic, I want to explain why all of us should have some basic foundation in apologetics. Today, many Christians might be tempted to leave the brainy stuff to the ministers and theologians, but I disagree (as you might have guessed from this post ). In fact, as Christians, we’re actually commanded to be able to defend our faith in Christ on our own.

Here’s what the Bible says, “So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats…And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:14-15). First, we have to be ready to explain and defend the faith. Secondly, ‘threats’ implies that inquiries may not always be from an open-minded people.

The Church has always been under attack from outsiders. In the early days of the Church, Jews accused other converted Jews of heresy while the Romans claimed Christians were, among other things, cannibals (both crimes punishable by death). In many parts of the world, preaching about Christ will still cost you your life.  Here, attacks come from atheists and agnostics that claim Christians are ‘anti-science’ or are fools acting on ‘blind faith.’  What’s sad is that these attacks have become so powerful that even some Christians doubt the legitimacy and authenticity of the Bible. Many of my peers who ‘grew up Christian’ are now turning away from it’s teachings because they are ‘logically oriented’ or find more comfort in moral relativism.    .

The Bible explains that faith is both logical and emotional (after all, God gave us a heart and a brain).  When Paul went to the Jews to defend his conversion, he tried to reason with them using prophecy, Scripture, and witness testimony (Acts 17:2-319:8, 28:23-24). Flip through his Epistles (those “other” books in the New Testament) and you’ll see he did the same thing with the Romans and Greeks.

Granted, logic isn’t going to win over every mind, or even most (Paul was ultimately martyred). But being able to articulate our beliefs, grounded in reason, will do a few things. First, it will help grow your personal relationship with Christ. Just like getting to know different characteristics and qualities of a significant other deepens your feelings for them, so too does understanding how God makes Himself apparent to all who want to know Him (Romans 1:20). And after all, how can you love someone you don’t know?

Understanding apologetics also develops confidence to answer questions from inquiring co-workers, children, spouses, friends and the most hostile skeptics on Facebook alike. I’m guilty of avoiding conversations with people I know aren’t going to be receptive to the Gospel out of fear of what they will say or counter with. And despite what I may pretend, I don’t know everything. Yet, Christians aren’t called to act out of fear (1 Cor 16:14). Instead, we should be destroying the notion of ‘blind faith’ by giving light to false and illogical secular claims (Mat 5:16).

Ultimately, we want to get to a point where we illustrate the Christian faith is perfectly logical and show that it is actually illogical to reject Christ. But in the end, only the Holy Spirit can bring someone to him. This isn’t an argumentative escapism, I only mean that despite your (and my) best efforts, some will choose the illogical route. It’s at this point when you stand up and point your finger in their face and scream “You can’t handle the truth!” Seriously though, people will exchange truth for lies, and they have the free will to do so and we must love them anyways (Romans 1:21-25).

Over the next few posts, I’m asking readers to provide feedback (questions or comments), so I can address specific inquiries. I’ll try to build my posts around them. And if the posts suck, my apologies.

PS – Sorry for missing last week. I had a baby.

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