Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm very encouraged by Son of God, God's not Dead, and Noah. We're engaging a media obsessed culture in a Biblical manner.

"Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on."

-David Burlinski, The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions

I thought I'd start with a rather engaging quote by David Burlinski, which I borrowed from Ravi Zacharias, he's used this reference once or twice to illustrate his points.  It's quite thought provoking and describes something that you kind of know is there, but it's hard to put a finger on... that is, the pretensions of the scientific community, and the actual situation being not in line with reality.

It's a feeling I love, when someone scratches a spot I know is there, but I couldn't seem to find it before.  Just like when I read G.K. Chesterton and he talks about the quiet oppressiveness of materialism.  

I spent Friday and Saturday with my mother, which was absolutely wonderful.  In the wake of the divorce of my parents, there was so much destruction.  And I guess through all of it, 12 years plus, we really were divided.  My mother and I used to be very close when I was a kid.  So it's been hard.  On both of us.  But watching her first born slowly kill himself with drugs was probably especially difficult.. for someone so sensitive.  My mom is a nurse, a care-giver.  

But it was nice to spend some time with her.  So thank you Jesus, for giving us time together.  I spend a lot of time somewhat separated, whether at work, at home, on the internet, at church, or at support groups.  I feel a part of, yet different. It's hard to trust these days.  The only one I trust is Jesus.  No one else was there for me at rock bottom but Jesus.  Everyone else had left.  But Jesus was there to help me up.

Anyway, when my mom and I hung out among other things we went to see Noah.  And I loved it!  (Gasp, blasphemy.)  I know.  I'm not even gonna cut it down on my blog.  It wasn't particularly biblical perfection.  But like Lord of the Rings, it had biblical themes running through it.  Second chances, judgment, faith, trust, and the theme of sin was quite powerful in it.  

So, instead of blasting the movie, condemning it, and pushing it away... I enjoyed it for what it is.  And that way I can then engage culture, and pray for those who are seeing it, that their interest would be sparked, that they'd be saved eventually by Jesus.  That's just my approach, my concern isn't to self righteously blast anything, but to become all things to all people, just like Paul, and to see as many saved as possible. 

The picture at the top of this post is just awesome.  I love how it simply breaks down the tenants of the Christian faith so plainly.  The builder of it does a lot of such pictures, definitely be sure to like their page on Facebook: Christian Digital Artwork.   

I'm feeling quite encouraged actually.  The atmosphere is changing bit by bit.  Of course Christians fight it every step of the way, which is so incredibly frustrating.  I'm so tired of Christians being so negative.  Just rudely trashing the Noah movie, rudely trashing this speaker or that pastor, this church or that church.. arguing over predestination, arguing over "seeker-friendly" services, arguing over evangelism, and on and on and on.  Divisions!  Divisions!  Too many divisions, we cannot reclaim the west if we divide, divide, divide, over small issues.  And any moron ought to know that.

Never-the-less people are standing up, and putting things together.  Just like the Christian digital artwork page.  Things are happening in the national media that are just wonderful.  Three movies now very recently in theatres across the entire nation!  Do you understand how wonderful that is?  That's millions of people we tend to never interact with in our local churches being engaged.  For the part of "Noah", their artistic curiosity is powerfully engaged.  For the part of the movie "God's not Dead" their intellectual questions, interest, and skepticism are being engaged on the national level!  Wow, Praise to God!  And with the movie "Son of God", it's just straight up sharing the gospel.  God is being very gracious with these three developments, and I can't say how pleased I am.

Are there problems with all three, minor issues, even with Noah some larger issues?  Yep.  But I don't care.  Because the gains far outweigh any costs.  And I have to think about how I'm representing Christ with my reaction.  If I'm getting all bent out of shape, crabby, complaining, and rudely mocking these things.. I'm not being a good picture of Christ.  I'm showing people that they were right about Christianity being a closed-off, judgmental, hypocrite den of fools, backwards, and behind the times.  We don't have to compromise our theology by discussing these movies in a friendly way.  

"Oh yeah I saw that Noah movie, it was fun and engaging, but let me tell you about how it really happened in the Bible.  This, this, and this were great from the movie!  But this, this and that actually happened this way.  But isn't it great to see elements of what it might've really been like?" 

See how we can be polite and courteous, and while engaging their interest in the movie, and applauding certain parts of the movie, we can then lovingly share the truth?

Again and again I read these blog posts from others, and I'm thinking my goodness, is the purpose to share Christ and be a good Christian, or to self righteously condemn everything around us, put our opinions out there no matter what and drive ourselves into monk monasteries?  

Alright, rant over.  The point is, God is working in the United States.  When you see three movies in rapid succession on the national level, being seen at theatres everywhere, well wow.  That's really something.  Millions of people who would never, ever think to walk into a church, but when we meet them where their interest is, like television, movies, movie theatres, and the internet (we're really a media addicted culture at this point) then we're meeting them on their terms.  Just like Paul did on Mars Hill, when he engaged the cultural religious beliefs of the Greeks and found a place to interject the truth of Jesus Christ.  And some heard him and believed as a result.  

The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye recently is also encouraging, see we're claiming the front stage for a renewed interest in Christianity.  We're reaching far beyond the borders of our church walls to relevant levels of interaction.  

It's the same with the Veritas forum visiting major colleges across the country with the message of Jesus Christ.  It's the same with Christian apologists debating the new atheists on campuses around the country as well.  On the international level, it's RZIM, Razi Zacharias and his crew of apologists taking the message across the world.  And it's missionary organizations sending to countries in the troubled 10/40 window, countries like India, Pakistan, China, Iran, and Syria.  

So I'm greatly encouraged, and also willing to exhort and admonish American Christians to abandon their fundamentalist condemning attitudes and embrace a more culturally engaging, yet still doctrinally sound view on sharing the truth of Jesus Christ.  

This is wonderful, keep praying for non-believers and the renewal of the church body.  Keep working hard at your evangelism efforts whether it be at home, in the streets, on the internet or at the pulpit.  We're starting to move in the right direction, but it will take long and hard sustained work, by a very dedicated few.  That's us.  Most Christians will not be on board with that kind of work.  But we are.  Keep sharing Bible verses on social media, keep talking to friends, keep inviting, even when turned down, or yelled at, or mocked, keep going friends.  The riches of eternal life await us all.  I can see the ball beginning to roll, for another great awakening for Jesus.  Keep it up, God be with you.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Father, Comforter & Savior

Loving God for the sake of His holiness is a perfect form of love. Loving God for who he is, because he is worthy. And in practice this makes perfect sense to me, because I have always longed for justice in politics, and even my heroes in politics are flawed. My heart aches for true justice in world poverty, in the abused under classes, the minimum wagers. My heart aches when I see a prideful but just leader, because they have succeeded in one area but failed in another. But when I look to the life of Jesus I adore, because of his perfect holiness, humbly serving, and despite all the lies about Christianity and Jesus, none can take away from me what the Bible actually says, and when it's objectively inspected, there is no sin in the life of Jesus, perfection. Unheard of, truly. At that moment I am adoring God for the sake of his holiness. That is worship. I can also love God for the sake of his love. But that's another direction entirely.

There are three areas that God provides for us, as his children.  He comes to us as the loving parent, the Father.  The Father who throws a party when we stumble into his arms.  The Father who keeps us safe, who shields us and protects us.  The Father we take refuge in.  The Father who raises his anger at those who hurt us.  The Father is the sovereign role, the sun to my earth as it were.  I revolve around the Father, his sovereignty, his desires for me.  He is the ruler.  He is the God, I am the servant.

Another role is that of the comforter.  God comes to us as the friend, the encourager.  He comes as the changing spirit within us.  He comes as the face to face companion in day to day life.  He speaks through us in very personal ways.  He hears our prayers even when we whisper them, or say them in our heads.  God the sovereign sun in my sky, yet he is also the light in my heart.  He is also the presence next to me, encouraging me, comforting me, loving me, and filling me with all joy.

Then there is the wonderful role of God, the Savior.  He comes as my hero, as my king, as my wonderful redeemer.  He is the source of all my inspiration.  His life is the perfect example for me to follow.  He makes a way for me, when there was no way at all.  He removes my sin, on the cross.  He saves all humanity, all across time itself.  Jesus Christ is the completion.  He is the finished work.  He comes as the suffering servant, providing the example, but much more, he provides the removal of my sins.  There is no role like this, in any other religion, nothing touches the life, death, resurrection, and heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Jesus washes away my sins on the cross, and gifts to me a coat of perfect righteousness.  

Without Jesus, there is no Father in my life, and there is no changing Spirit.  

Together these roles of God make up the Christian understanding of the trinity, which I hesitantly accept.  Very simply, it's like this, there is one God and he has three hats, sometimes he has his Father hat on, then sometimes his Spirit hat on, and sometimes his Savior hat on.  That's as simple as I can put it, one God, three hats.  (I heard that from Tim Keller, I know, I'm just borrowing the analogy.)

I was praying the other night, you know, just my nightly prayer before bed.. and something happened.  I'm not sure exactly what.  But I felt a powerful presence in the room with me, and the most vague outline.  I don't know exactly what happened, but it was like my Lord was in the room with me.  And.. you know I thought about it.  That's what I believe, whenever I pray, anywhere, God is hearing, God is near, God is listening intently.  The powerful presence though, wow.  I trembled at it..

Becoming a Christian has been the most wonderful and trans-formative journey I've ever been on.  It's also been the hardest thing I've ever done.  But a strength comes that just wasn't there before.  I'm doubly challenged, yet I can also feel the strength given from God to complete every task.  He is that kind of provider.  His only requirement is that I dedicate myself entirely to him. 

I feel special.  Often challenged.  Sometimes lucky, other times blessed.  Sometimes I'm angry, other times.. tired.  Being human is odd like that.  We have victory, yet paradoxically the evil seems to grow.  The church grows as well in the world, stride for stride, matching move for move against the kingdom of Satan.  It's mysterious.  I wonder, when will it finally end?  When will we finally have the renewal of the natural world, and the renewal of our physical bodies? 

I often struggle to understand the mysterious words of the book of Revelation.  It really ought to be known.  The issue comes for me in Revelation chapter 20.  I don't understand the timeline, the progression of events.  I don't trust interpretations I've read, so I'm waiting until I have the chance in my studies to go through Revelation extremely carefully to best understand things after death.  That's the focus, after death, and the idea of the 1st death, and the 2nd death.  The city of New Jerusalem, with walls and gates, and some sort of darkness outside the gates... so incredibly mysterious.

We tend to get it wrong as humans.  When Jesus came two thousand years ago the Jews thought the coming messiah would restore Israel, and bring the kingdom by military conquest.  These people, the religious leaders of that day would routinely memorize the entire Old Testament.  And they got it that wrong.  I don't trust the evangelical books and established ideas too well, unless I've also put my hand in and actually read the scriptures.  I watch diligently now as well for anything the modern church is doing that is not biblical, but culturally based.  The oppression comes when old non-biblical traditions are forced onto people as law.  

There is so much failure, mis-allocation of funds, corruption, greedy mega-churches, division, condemnation, foolish decisions, selfishness..  I feel like I always have to be on guard.  

The situation today, reminds me of the situation in the movie the Lord of the Rings, the fellowship of the Ring.  The kingdoms of men are divided and leaderless.  There is corruption everywhere.  Everyone is kind of half asleep at the wheel.  The church can't seem to hold the evil at bay anymore.  

Compare Gondor to America, kind of past it's prime, spread too thin, becoming corrupt, poor leadership, and it's armies of Christians can't hold the evil orc hoards at bay much longer.  If Rohan is Europe, they're kind of scattered about, unprepared, way past it's prime of living Christianity.  Their leadership is corrupted and ineffective.  Compare Isengard to the Vatican, extremely corrupt, about to join the enemy.. it's just a ripe situation for evil to prosper and grow exponentially.  

I guess that's just how it is.  Christianity since it's very beginning has been rejected and hated.  It's always been on the very edge of destruction.  Whether after the crucifixion of Jesus.  Or later during the Roman persecution of the church in the 1st and 2nd century.  At the time of the fall of Rome to the barbarian tribes.  And again, when the Muslims invaded Europe.  Yet again as the Catholic church became corrupt, all the way up to the reformation and the divide of the universal church.  It's just been one desperate situation after another.

But God always shines through.  Jesus always makes a way.  Just like Gandalf, riding about between Rohan and Gondor, here and there gathering up the strength of humanity to face evil.  In the same way we're always facing destruction, desperate odds as Christians.  Always a new evil overruns, splashes across the gates in flood fashion.  Yet we can always rely on our wonderful risen Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the returning King.  Jesus is always there to gather the church into unity, at the last moment, to face down endless millions, hoards of darkness, with just a few hundred brave Christians, just a few obedient servants.  

He is our light and our salvation.  No matter how dark and twisted the evil on Earth becomes, in Jesus our victory is complete.  Our work of obedience to him in these dark days, unconditionally, is what brings glory on us, and more so, on him. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Choose Greatness

Psalm 91:1-16 ESV         
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day

A great man lives by faith in the Son of God. 

I am most certain that what separates average men from great men is the level of willingness a man has to deny himself.

Again and again it has seemed to me, that I must deny myself the things that I want, and force feed myself the things I need.

Another key characteristic will be a man's willingness to adapt to the form of true servitude. 

This is as awkward a position as I can possibly imagine for myself.  I am at my core utterly interested in myself as a standard position, and usually that position is coupled with the false view that I'm a selfless altruistic humanitarian, which is a lie.

If I am to be at all honest with myself, first I must be honest with God in prayer.

There is no magic to this, but it is certainly supernatural much of the time.  God is one who provides the willingness, the ability, the transformation itself.  He adjusts me, and without him I would be doomed to flounder in egoism, repetitive failure, and regretful despair. 

God has set me up from a broken addicted position, to a sitting position, but in this position I am still offered the choice.  In the past the choice had become a necessity, an addiction.  I had no choice.  By faith in God, and adherence to the foot work he would have me do, I now have a choice.  But I can still choose to do wrong.  I still have that option. 

My choice today, and this is vital, my choice is to be a powerhouse Christian of incredible faith.  I choose it.  It's a direction in my mind and I have an incredible knowing that I'm always headed towards it. 

Too many Christians are living defeated, crippled.  They choose defeat over their problems.  They are crippled by the evil around them.  Their hearts are dead, ashes. 

So simply, my brothers and sisters, choose to be a great Christian.  Choose greatness.  Choose to be a powerhouse Christian of incredible.  Choose it.  Get on a mission for it.  Seek it out in all areas of your life.. patiently.  Cleverly.  Reach for it.  Reach for God.  He reaches back.  He'll meet you.  He'll guide you along the way.  He'll be there every step of the way saying, "Fear not, for I am with you." 

Simply, so simply.. choose to be great.  Choose greatness.  And believe, patiently, through sustained belief and being on a mission for it, a long term journey, full of failures and victories, that you're always going closer.  Adopt that mindset.  And you will have it.  As Jesus said, tell that mountain to move over there, believe in your mind you've received it, and it will be yours.

Proverbs 2:1-12 (ESV)
My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Five Presentations by Ravi Zacharias on Christian Philosophy

Ravi Zacharias is one of my favorite speakers of all time.  The philosophy of Christianity, apologetics, the defense of Christianity, Ravi Zacharias interacts with the thoughts of the culture surrounding Christianity, which is moving rapidly away from faith.  Enjoy this entertaining and thought-provoking speaker.  One day I prayed for God to help me intellectually understand my faith.  A few weeks later I was watching live stream from the Liberty University convocation, and something glitched.  I was browsing through their prerecorded videos and found a presentation by Ravi Zacharias at a previous convocation.  Ever since then I've been extremely interested in Christian apologetics and Christian philosophy in relation to popular atheist claims and post-modern ideas of life. 

1. Is Tolerance intolerant?

2. The Existence of God

3. Need God? What if I don't?

4. How do we challenge this generation?

5. The End of Reason

American Traditionalism vs. Actual Biblical Christianity

In the United States are we really practicing what the Bible teaches?  Sometimes it's hard to separate the truth of the Bible from the way it's practiced in a given culture.  So let's take a look at American Traditionalism compared with Biblical Christianity.  Maybe we can start to see the problem, and if so, perhaps also see the solution. But understand, patriotism is not a sin. But one must keep the first things first.    

    American Traditionalism            Actual Biblical Christianity
Salvation: Being a good person, attending church             Faith in Jesus & his work on cross

Worldview:   I'm a Patriotic American                                   I'm literally a citizen of Heaven

Tolerance:    I don't want to offend anyone                           This is the truth, politely, I love you          
                    (or) its exactly like this and no other way          we don't have to agree, but that's my position

Evangelism:   Religion stays in church                                I actively share my faith with friends, family, etc

Foreign Policy: Just war, we need to get the terrorists         Pray for and love the terrorists into repentance

Lost people: Keep druggies, prostitutes and gays out         Welcome sinners to repentance with compassion

Relevance:    Seeker friendly? No way!                              Constantly becoming all things to all people in
                                                                                         cultural presentation; adapting always                 

Sovereignty: God gets Sunday, the rest is mine              God is literally sovereign over all aspects of my life

Resurrection: I don't know, faith is blind                         Yes, I really truly believe Jesus is alive in Heaven

Pastor:  Rebukes you, and yells at you, condemns            Loves, encourages, and exhorts congregation
            Powerful, too busy to see you                           Literally considers himself a humble servant

Congregation: Weekly holier-than-thou session         Loving humble flock of troubled sinners repenting

Daily life: God is a part of my life                                     God is the engine of my entire life

Monday, March 17, 2014

Religion or Relationship? Good deeds or Jesus Christ?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

I'm amazed how easy it is to not understand this.  Many don't know what it actually is in practice.  But it's not complicated.  First of all let me tell you what it's not: Being a Christian is not trying to impress God with what a nice person I am, so somehow I will be good enough to maybe nudge into the area of having done more good than bad in life, and sneak into heaven past God's "are you good enough?" test.  

Nope.  That's not it.  Not at all.  

A friend of mine died recently.  I spoke up around the table as we were remembering this person and how wonderful she was.  I told them that she was a wonderful person, and that it's right to grieve the loss.  But I also said that she loved God, and that I know I'll see her again.  

Someone else spoke up after, kind of bowing to the fact that yes, there is a God, she knew she was going to see God, and he said, I'm gonna be thinking about that.  And I'm gonna try to be a nice person, and love my fellow man, so God will love me.  And everyone nodded, and said yes, and it was just a big moment.

And I'm in the corner face palming, because as sweet a moment as it was.. I'm thinking.. no.. that's not what we do to have heaven. 

It's all about Jesus Christ.  And what he did on the cross.  When I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins, all my mistakes, on the cross, and that he rose to life again, and that he currently rules as sovereign in heaven, then I'm saved.  

I'm given a coat, a white coat of righteousness.  It's the righteousness of Jesus Christ, because when he lived on Earth he never sinned once, and he loved his neighbor as himself, and served others, and served God, and died for his friends.  He lived the perfect life.  God saw that and was well pleased.  God saw Jesus and said there is complete and total perfect righteousness.  

We need that to be able to live with God in heaven.  God is so incredibly holy, and wonderful, and perfect, it's his requirement that we match that perfect standard.  We can't do it alone.  

Becoming a Christian is saying, Yes, I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It's not some mysterious, unattainable just-out-of-reach magical belief either.  Belief is a choice.  I choose, despite all my poor experiences on this planet, despite all the times my trust has been betrayed, and I've been assaulted and mutilated as a result, I choose freely to believe in Jesus Christ.  I choose it.  

And it's just that simple.  We human beings always want to complicate things, theologies, systematic apologetic approaches, missionary handbooks, three step Bible companion blah blah whatever.  

It can't be that simple can it?  

Because if it is, then I've really made a fool out of myself, haven't I?  

Indeed I have, but that doesn't mean I need to complicate a simple solution.  The solution is Jesus Christ.  It's not an eight fold path, or a 32 step reconciliation or a 365 day study regime.  It's not counting my good deeds, and making a list and checking it twice.  Nope.  It's Jesus.

Recognizing God, Jesus Christ, as the necessarily payment for every sin I've committed in my life, or will commit in my life, is the step.  Boom.  Now I'm connected to God the Father.  At the same time God the Holy Spirit is giving me new desires in my heart.  

The beginning is God the Son Jesus.  Reconnection to God the Father.  New desires and motivations by work of God the Holy Spirit.

Now it's about a relationship.  I'm sure you've heard that, it's something evangelicals say a lot, it's not religion it's about a relationship.  If you recall from the gospels of Jesus Christ, Jesus called God "Father."  We call him Father too. 

I feel like I'm getting too complicated with this again, forgive me, I'm a human being, it's my nature to want to develop a systematic understanding of God like the doctrine of the "trinity" which I hesitantly accept as correct.  Leave that to me to get caught up at night about, and lose sleep over.  That's my job as an idiot, or maybe as a seminary student.  I'm sure we'll get clarity on that part later.

The basic truth though is this, there is one God, beyond dispute that is the truth.  One God only.  There are no others.  God chooses to represent himself to us as God the Father, the sovereign creator.  He also represents himself to us as God the Son, by name of "Jesus Christ" which means literally "Jehovah Saves."  God also represents himself to us as God the Holy Spirit.  

Interesting God we have, but anyway.  He's more than a God.  He's dad.  He's my personal dad.  He's your personal dad.  You don't have to be on your knees, on a prayer rug, facing a particular direction.  You can just talk to dad.  Tell him about your day.  Tell him about your kids.  Tell him about your problems.  Tell him about your victories.  Talk to him out loud, or in your head, it doesn't matter. 

For me, I was raised Catholic, so I do still get on my knees in the morning and at night when I pray to God.  But for the rest of the day I'll whisper to him while I'm in the car, or while I'm at work, sitting, standing, or whatever.  Maybe I'm just a stubborn recovering catholic lost in his false ritualistic practices, but I feel like kneeling before God is a physical way for me to show active submission to his will and desire for my life and for humanity at large.  

Prayer is our vital communication to our Father, God.  What's so important in a relationship?  Communication.  What else is really vital in a relationship?  Trust.  If I'm constantly wondering if my girlfriend is at the bar with another guy, it's not going to be a healthy relationship.  In the same way, if I'm constantly wondering "Is Father God really faithful and caring and merciful and loving?  Is he really going to take care of me?"  Once again, it's an unhealthy relationship.  I don't think God is going to give me everything I want, but I know I'll get just what I need.

So Prayer is vital for when we talk to our daddy.  But why doesn't he talk to us?  What kind of Father doesn't talk to his children?  My goodness!  He does talk to us!  He gave us this thing.. It's called the Bible.  Maybe you've heard of it.. I know I hadn't for a long time.  But yes.  A Bible.  And not necessarily King James Version in thees and thou arts.  But there are wonderful translations like the New International Version and the New Living Translation, that speak in common contemporary english!  Wow!  Dad also speaks to us experientially.. but be careful with that one.  Be careful to test experience by the Bible and what it says about God. 

So we pray to God the Father for support, encouragement, and advise.  He speaks back through his Bible and through daily life, and through sermons, and other Christians, or even non-Christians.  Meanwhile God the Holy Spirit is working in our hearts, to convict us of our sins, and to lovingly encourage us as sin and evil in our hearts is replaced by righteousness similar to Christ's perfect righteousness.  A process of sanctification.

It's important to note that we are considered part of a body of believers.  We should be in communion, daily contact, with other Christians.  We should regularly pray and spend time reading our Bibles.  We should regularly attend church services if possible.  We should pray for other Christians and pray for the removal of sins as they pop up in our lives.  

In a nutshell. It's not about doing good deeds and hoping we measure up.  It's not about obeying the ten commandments and hoping for the best after death.  Not at all.  It's about finding Jesus, and discovering that what he did on the cross paid for my sins. And believing that.  It's simply turning my life over to Jesus to use for his glory.  Then after that.. suddenly, our hearts are different.  We want to do good.  We want to love others.  We want to pray.  When before we couldn't seem to summon the will power or the desire to.

No matter what we've done, it doesn't matter.  Every single sin is forgivable.  If you've had three abortions, killed a man in prison, sold drugs to a kid who then overdosed and died, if you have eight kids with six different mothers and talk to none of them, if you sexually abuse children, if you're a serial rapist, serial killer, if you lied on your taxes, if you've done all those things and more.. and feel like no one could ever forgive your horrible wrongs, go to Jesus Christ, on your knees, confess that you've done those things to him, confess they were wrong, and ask Jesus.. please forgive all of these things.. Help me not to do them again, to break the cycle of addiction and wickedness that rots inside me.. He will say back to you, "My child, your sins are forgiven.  I will help you to rid yourself of these thoughts and actions, if you're willing to do the footwork, and rely on me daily as you do.  You now wear the coat my perfect righteousness.  You are completely clean."  

Nothing is too evil.  No one too lost to be saved by Jesus.  I speak from experience, as a drug addict in recovery.  As a sinner saved by grace.  It's not about pulling myself up by my bootstraps, it's about total reliance on Jesus Christ while at the same time striving to live for him and obey his wishes.

Go in Peace.

The Christian Life is the Best Life of All

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Using our Unique Talents to Impact Culture

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Let me tell you about the post-modern man in his 20s from suburbia, or the inner city.  He is quite the character, and loves to party and have fun.  Are those things evil inherently?  Not at all.  The post-modern man has many beliefs, but they are in stark contrast to the modern man's beliefs.  The modern man might've had certain political beliefs, scientific beliefs, spiritual beliefs, and even philosophical beliefs.  The post-modern man has no such interests and thus no such beliefs.  The post-modern man is the ultimate entertainment junkie.  He has favorite movies, favorite musicians, favorite celebrities, favorite alcoholic beverages, and favorite sports teams.  This is often the extent of the post modern's interests and thus has few further beliefs on topics we in the church might've considered important to the masses at some point in history.

The post-modern man's heaven is the ultimate party experience.  It is often described in movies like American Pie, Dazed and Confused, American Graffiti and so on.  The ultimate party experience!  Everyone is dancing to trendy music, alcohol all around, the good old boys all hanging together, with trophy women on their arms.  The ultimate high, the ultimate experience. 

Morality and truth mean little to the post-modern man.  Satisfaction is his goal.  As belief is the engine for the spiritual walk in Christianity, money is the engine for the pleasure seeking walk of the self-worshiper. 

Laughter is at the top of the list in any social interaction.  Grotesque jokes, obscene comments, derogatory language, and constant sexual references.  One could say sexual intercourse is the method by which the post-modern man in his twenties worships his maker, which he considers to be himself.  The post-modern man considers women to be a commodity, and he loves his bros, or at least however far his bros will get him to the ultimate "fun" feeling, the commodity of women, the supplies of tap alcohol, and sometimes even the supplies of multicolored pills and poppers. 

Often this lifestyle will not bother the post-modern man, but if it does, there are many facade pseudo-spiritual remedies for such depravity.  Many a hippie would claim to be buddhist, or new age, or just spiritual in general.  That way there is no need for a lifestyle change, but a significant possibility to cover up their own guilt at depravity, drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, stealing, lying, and pornography addiction. 

The post-modern man loves video games, computer games, the latest gaming consoles, facebook, twitter, the internet, and free pornography websites galore.  He expounds constantly on the corruption of politics and religion, and refuses to work a job because he would never want to support the evils of such sinister mega-corporations. 

All the while his words may expound a certain level of truth, his own utterly selfish dope infested beer can littered room at his parent's house tells a different story.  He cries constantly at the evils of the world, yet very much serves them in his daily life.  He always has a new idea and a new thought, but never any action to back up all his random delusions while tripping on coricidin, half drunk, and wired up on clonazepam and amphetamines that he stole from his dad's bathroom cabinet. 

Victory for this man in his twenties is vast riches, bursting bank accounts, fancy new cars, and a dyed blonde orange skinned trophy wife with breast implants. 

There is no place for truth or religion in this young man's deranged mind.  He's drunk on what the mainstream media has fed him, what Hollywood has called good, and what the music industry has blasted into his ears as "cool."  A topic like Christianity is as foreign to the post-modern kid in his twenties as a UFO sighting.  That's no "fun" to talk about.  It's no "fun" to do.  It's "boring" and "I don't care."

It's not pretty is it?  I know, let me tell you, I know.  I used to be that kid. 

This lifestyle is the proliferation of Satan's plan for humanity.  His work is quite completed in that young man.  It's not that there is no God and is no Satan, it's that even if there was, the young man wouldn't care anyway.  The effects of sin, and the deceit of Satan is the evil one's ultimate power to deceive humanity (John 6:66). 

So, how can we as the body of Christ on Earth reach out to this twisted fellow? 

We can't.

He doesn't care and he doesn't want to talk to us.  Which is why prayer is so important.  It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit moving among the nations that this young man can begin to hunger for spiritual truth.  Prayer, prayer, prayer. 

Of course if the church had a larger and more powerful voice in the public circles, television, the internet, music and so on, this young man might not be in such a depraved state.  Engaging culture is so very important, and that's the wonderful thing; we as Christians absolutely can engage culture. 

This is where our diversity comes as a great asset.  There are Christian musicians, Christian businessmen, Christian photographers, Christian graphic designers, Christian writers (like myself), Christian speakers, Christian product designers, and on and on and on.  There are Christians among every demographic, every social circle, every interest group, and every level of income in western society.

We are to be conformed to the image of Christ, yet that conformity is once again a paradox within Christianity, and there are many.  In this case, we are to conform to the image of Christ, yet ironically this also means pursuing our own unique spiritual gifts, and our innate God-given talents.

There is an aspiration to live as Jesus Christ lived, with his perfection of resistance to sin and sharing of the truth, but that does not mean I have to buy sandles, grow my hair out, grow a beard, and wear white pajamas everywhere I go.  To be Christian is to be unique and diverse, with unique strengths and creative talents to contribute to the culture, to the body, and to the glory of Jesus Christ.

I'd like you to be thinking on that topic, what unique gifts do you have to contribute to engaging culture for Jesus Christ?  How can you share his message with your own unique gifts? 

This is an absolutely wonderful thing, because we have certain things we love to do, like for me, I absolutely love to write.  And look, I can be in this blissful state of writing on my computer, be loving every minute of it, and be able to share the Bible, share the love of Jesus Christ, and encourage other Christians, in my spare time.  Isn't that wonderful? 

You've got talents to contribute, so be thinking on that.  And let me encourage you, you've got it in you to be not just an average Christian, but a powerhouse Christian of incredible faith.  We've been saved from the ugly fate of the post-modern man, women, whatever.  We've been spared from that.  It breaks my heart, the new heart Jesus gave me, to see so many still lost in that.  So let me encourage you, step up onto the battle lines, the front lines of cultural engagement.  Many Christians have been saved from death by Jesus, but hang back, quiet when they are so deeply needed on the frontlines.

The final work is of the Holy Spirit, which will be moved by God's sovereign will, but will also be moved by our earnest prayers, as the representative body of Christ on Earth.  So be in prayer.  But then also engage culture with your unique talents, via the internet, via your local coffee shops, local government, businesses, missions, your college or university, or just your day job.

There are so many little things we can do.  Imagine if every person reading these words started leaving free Bibles at laundry mats, or put spiritual journey pamphlets on community boards at gas stations, or just spoke to a coworker about coming to church sometime.  Imagine if every Christian in the world started doing that.. today.  Wow.  That would be something.  Not every Christian is willing to, but I bet you are.  And those are just things every Christian ought to be doing.  Engaging culture is more than leaving Bible's at coffee shops or talking to coworkers about Christ.

Engaging culture is really synonymous, in the United States at least, with engaging and interacting in secular media outlets, like the internet for example.   Another example, in a corporate sense, would be Liberty University in Virginia, the college I attend, by distance.  Liberty University engages culture by having division 1 teams in basketball, football, and so on.  They can then represent Christianity in those hard to reach arenas of sports and entertainment.  An individual example in music would be LeCrae a rapper who constantly represents for Jesus to other high level musicians.  In the NFL you have Tim Tebow.  In the realm of reality TV there is Duck Dynasty.  Be in prayer about God raising up more brave and vocal representatives of Christ in all areas of our extremely corrupt media and culture...

Get creative, and think outside the box with engaging culture.  I always mention the internet first because it's a great starting point to build confidence in publicly declaring, plus it's effective, because of the sheer volumes of people that can be reached almost instantaneously.  I want people all over the globe, from every tribe and nation and language to know and receive the love that belongs to them in Christ Jesus.

I love Jesus so much, because he saved me from being a drug addicted money chasing womanizer.  On a personal note, I've now been clean and sober over 16 months, and yesterday I had my first day of work at Salvation Army of Wausau!  So exciting!  I'm an intake worker at a homeless shelter now, and so far I love it.  I love helping others.

I love the light feeling Jesus puts in my heart every morning.  I love it so much, it's so foundational, it's so incredible, it's redeeming to everything I used to be, and feeling how I now feel, I want everyone to know about how awesome and loving Jesus Christ is, and how Christianity is the complete and utter truth of life on Earth.  

I want everyone to know Jesus has died for their sins and has made a way for them to eternal life.  He will help you today, to change, to become a decent man or woman, and he also vertically completes all requirements on, under, and above heaven for your eternal salvation in heaven, in the next life, at new Jerusalem, our hopeful coming city.  The place that is real and true, and does actually really exist.  This I believe.  The moment one has believed in his heart in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, he is saved.  Nothing can take that from him.  The vertical work is complete, the eternal life is finished, by Jesus on the cross, and now horizontally, we want to live well and love others, not because of a list of rules, but because of the grace and mercy we've been shown.

It was mercy for God to remove our sins on the cross, but it is grace that he would walk beside us all the days of our remaining lives, sanctifying us, changing us, encouraging us, and comforting us.  And as if the moment of the removal of our sins as we believed wasn't enough, he wipes our feet clean daily as we walk through the muck and sin of this world.

What a God we have!  What false god of Taoism, Buddhism, pantheism, new age, or Hinduism can compare to our God?  Broken clay figures, scattered on the grounds, lies a plenty when we truly understand Jesus Christ, our wonderful personal God, what a wonderful God who Saves!

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  -Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Monday, March 10, 2014

12 YouTube Sermons by Mark Driscoll on Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the very center of Christian faith.  There is no Christianity, there is no Bible, there is meaning or purpose to anything at all, without the incredible center of Christianity, Jesus Christ.  

I've been struggling a bit lately, as we all do, and this sermon series has been powerfully edifying to my faith.  It's very easy to drift off into the Old Testament, doctrinal issues, Armenian vs. Calvin, and issues surrounding the Christian faith.  

Be cautious in your own walk, that Jesus Christ is always at the very center.  We hear about the cross of Jesus Christ so often in our lives that it becomes easy to just pass it over.  It's been spoken and re-spoken so many times to us, that we begin to lose touch with the power and meaning of it.  Just like with extremely popular Bible verses like John 3:16, I'll start to avoid those popular verses because I'm just so tired of hearing them over and over.  

Constantly in my walk as a Christian I want to be finding ways to rediscover the power and beauty of the cross of Jesus Christ.  I want to be falling deeper and deeper in love with my glorious Savior.  I'm not special, I'm just some blogger, seminary student at best.  I can very easily fall off track.  But a good sermon series like this can do a lot to strengthen the core of my belief system, which is Jesus Christ.

The way Jesus lived is a constant inspiration.  The way Jesus died provides a powerful example for me to aspire to.  His sovereignty as he lives in heaven on the throne at this very moment is a constant imputing into my life of authority, leadership, correction, and most often, powerful encouragement. 

This is a sermon series by Mark Driscoll one of my heroes of faith.  I've decided this is a sermon series I'll regularly return to, in order to always be reminding myself of the center piece of my personal redemption.  The man Christ Jesus is my brother, my savior, my best friend, and my God.  Nothing can ever change that, I was saved at the moment I believed in him.  No demon or fool can take Jesus Christ away from me, and I know they will try.  But they can't.  

Before you delve into these wonderful sermons, be aware that Pastor Mark Driscoll is exceedingly crass, lewd, and direct.  He doesn't hold back, and he explains things exactly as they are.  Before we as moderate Christians jump on his back about his abrupt, sarcastic, and intense mode of preaching the gospel, let's consider who he preaches to.  He communicates the gospel to young men in their 20s in the west coast city of Seattle, Washington.  Very simply Mark Driscoll is engaging the culture and radically adapting the objective truth of scripture to the cultural practices and styles of communication in that area of the country.  This is absolutely Biblical.  At the Acts chapter 15 Jerusalem council, it was ruled that non-jews becoming Christians would not be forced to comply with the cultural practices of the Jewish faith.  This allowed the gospel to flow freely into the Greek world and beyond.  Missionaries in foreign lands, in China, India, and other parts of the world take the truth of scripture, separate it from the traditional religious practices of western culture, and help new people groups apply it to their indigenous cultures.  This is a practice the modern Christian church in the United States needs to adopt, because when we cling to our traditional American ways of communicating the gospel, we do so at the expense of younger generations.  We can't be surprised when using that approach, that the entire culture begins to turn radically against Christianity.  Relevance, relevance.

Jesus Christ is Lord.  This is an apologetically strong sermon series, often addressing issues and sourcing outside direct reference to Bible verses, in order to edify and build up possible new believers in the coherence, historical accuracy, philosophical superiority, and incredible love within the life, death, resurrection, and current heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ, who lives now in heaven and works in the lives of billions of believers today.  


Saturday, March 8, 2014

10 Encouragements to every 1 Rebuke

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I'm quite stunned by the mud slinging that goes on within the United States Evangelical movement.  It runs like a cancer within Christianity.  Everyone, from the very top leadership to the lower echelons, bloggers, and local congregations... well, it seems to be a problem on all levels.  Whether on blogs, on Youtube, at my home church, or talking to friends.. someone always has something negative to say about a leader, or a movement, or a theological issue.  And very often nothing to say if they think that person is doing a good job.

Why is it that we can only say something if it's negative?  Is rebuking the only language the church may speak to and regarding one another?

It's quite upsetting to see such a petty problem.  My first reaction is to think my goodness, can we grow up?  Have we forgotten our primary purpose of knowing Jesus Christ and making him known?   

John MacArthur is one of the worst with this, I've seen him come at Mark Driscoll calling for his resignation.  He did the same thing to Rick Warren.  I see an incredible amount of fire come at just Driscoll and Warren.  It's systemic.  I was at a presentation at a local church a few months ago watching an open air preacher call apologetics worthless.  I've seen apologists mock presuppositionalists.  At the Strange Fire conference cessationist calvinists mocked charismatics, and later on I saw Mark Driscoll show up at the conference to mock the cessationists.  John MacArthur called the NIV a heresy, while my text book for Inductive Bible Study said formal translations are not accurate.  I've seen John Piper interview Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, and Rick Warren, and find very little wrong theologically in their views.  

What about unity within the body of Christ?

I love John MacArthur, he is one of the greatest expository preachers the world has ever seen.
I love Mark Driscoll, his ministry to guys in their twenties is incredible.
I love Rick Warren, he's attacking some the biggest issues our planet faces.

I love the body of Christ, because you're my family.  And not because that's what I'm suppose to say, or it's kinda true because the Bible says it, or even that it's definitely true but I don't actually feel it, it's that it's completely true, and I do feel it.  You are my family, actually, and truly, if you're a Christian.  That is the happy fact. 

My spiritual gifts are "showing mercy" and "exhortation" so maybe I'm just better at picking out the things to love in people.  But how can we be missing this one? 

Show love.  Show more love.  Any given situation, love.  And more love. 

Romans 16:17-18 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Fortunately my friends, my family, this is not a difficult problem to solve within Christianity.  Start blogging about unity!  Project a positive mindset into the body, and a lot of the divides can be healed.  It's as simple as people swallowing their pride and choosing to magnify the good about others, rather than focus on the bad. 

We can learn to love anyone.  And Jesus said love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.  Christianity in the United States is under organized attack, vicious attack daily in the colleges, in the classrooms, at the bars, the clubs, on the internet, and in people's homes.  We don't have the luxury of going to war with each other every time we find a disagreement in theology.  If we both love Jesus Christ and match our truth from the Bible, we're on the same team!

The problem here is that we're forgetting to love one another.  We're favoring doctrinal disagreements and failing to love.  May I share chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians?

1 Corinthians 13 (NLT)

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Jesus said Love God and love your neighbors. Let's do that.  Blog about unity.  Christianity is under enough fire without various sects within Protestantism taking pot shots at one another.  Unity, unity. 

I suggest a new rule, for every 1 time you rebuke another Christian brother or sister, you must first encourage 10 others.  Encouragement is sorely lacking in the body today, and especially in the pulpit.  Too many are rebuking, too few encouraging.  So show your family some encouragement.  

Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Paradox of Wisdom in Christianity

Proverbs 30:1-4 (NLT) I am weary, O God;
    I am weary and worn out, O God.[b]
I am too stupid to be human,
    and I lack common sense.
I have not mastered human wisdom,
    nor do I know the Holy One.
Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down?
    Who holds the wind in his fists?
Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?
    Who has created the whole wide world?
What is his name—and his son’s name?
    Tell me if you know!

And Proverb 12:1 says "To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction."  What is the assumption when considering wisdom, truth, and enlightenment?  Whether it's western or eastern thinking, we're talking about gathering knowledge, discovering secret truth, compiling information and obtaining it. 

But the sum truth I gathered under the assumption of gathering and self-introspective discovery did not stand as much as a crippled molding wobbly tent of dung compared to the truth path of trust in Jesus Christ.  

The Lord God towers tens of thousands of stories taller than the foolish wisdom of the world.  Compare Bukowski to Chesterton.  Compare Hunter S. Thompson to C.S. Lewis.  Those writers inspired by the word of God and the Holy Spirit which leads into all truth, compared to the writers who are inspired by misery and illicit drugs... well, there is no comparison.  

C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton would not have been able to reach the heights of truth and wisdom they had, without at first coming humbly to the feet of Jesus Christ and welcoming him into their hearts.  

I made that same choice to stumble to my knees and call upon the Lord Jesus Christ.  I did not come to that conclusion by work of reason or wisdom, but by work of drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, sleep deprivation, and utter inexhaustible misery.  When I called upon the Lord Jesus, it was the sort of inward scream for help that shutters through your own being, through your whole self, an unconditional surrender.  The sensation of the desperate cry for help must've been so sincere, so singly empty of conditional clauses that it rang true to the very throne of God himself.  

I recall the moment quite clearly.  Not so much what I was saying, but how it felt.  And relief of at least, finally, I can call on the name of the Lord.  But I would not have known whose name to call on had it not been for God the Father.  He reminded me whose name I ought to speak at that moment.  Not "save me krishna"  or "save me godish whoever"  but "Please save me Lord Jesus Christ!"

That is the beginning of actual wisdom.  C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  How incredibly true that statement is.  

As a human being, young especially, the last thing I wanted to do was admit that I needed anybody elses help!  I wanted to do it myself.  I wanted to prove my own self sufficiency.  That has got to be a product of sin nailed to my heart.  I am of the line of Adam, as we all are.  We are all born with the sin nature on ourselves.  In retrospect I can see it's work so incredibly.  Nothing in the very untrained human desires in myself told me that I was made by and for God.  Yet.. there was something there.  Something I didn't want to believe.  I tried to hide it, to lay a pile of papers and scientific conclusions on top of that truth.  In the end it was totally buried.  But desperate misery uncovered it again.

Total admission of need for God in my life, saved my life.  I would not have come to this conclusion on my own.  Everything in the world told me to trust nothing and no one.  And upon extended inspection of the elements of culture and society, and especially government and economics, that conclusion is absolutely justified.  If I were to trust even half of the institutions,businesses, and people I meet in this world I would be in for some serious hurt.  But I learned there was one incredible exception to that conclusion, I must place absolutely trust in the Lord God of the Bible. 

It is most paradoxical.  But I've learned to love the paradoxes in the Bible.  I've also learned to love the paradoxes of 12 step recovery.  The two agree on most everything.  Of course my bottom line source for truth in the Bible.  Always remember that.  We test what is true by the word of God.  Experience is very important, but always test that experience by scripture.

For me, I always wanted to be the rebel fighting the righteous cause.  Just like Luke Skywalker leading the rebellion against the evil empire.  Or Morpheus, or Neo, fighting for the survival of the human race against the evil machines.  I wanted to be special.  The irony here is that I wanted to be a rebel, and I thought I was a part of the sort of "rebel alliance" of US politics, which is kind of a rough conglomeration of Libertarians, Anonymous Hacktivists, Occupiers, Tea Partiers, and the remnants of the anti-war left.  Maybe I was closer than I thought.  I will say this, that I see a closer representation of Christ in the works of Ron Paul, Julian Assange, and Justin Amash than I've ever seen in the works of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Al Gore, or Sarah Palin. 

But I had believed the most deceitful propaganda.  The quiet propaganda against Christianity.  Don't underestimate our enemy, Satan, or his spiritual forces.  He has it stacked so well that if I tell anyone that they're communing with demons, or that in the mainstream media and in Hollywood there is tons of demonic imagery and dark symbolism, they will immediately assume I'm a quack.  I'm not a quack, obviously.  I'm a Christian though.  And that's about as bad, when considering the social views today.

The generalizations are generally thus, Jesus Christ was a great teacher but he wasn't the son of God.
Organized religion has led to so much blood shed it shouldn't exist at all.
Christians are hypocrites.
All Priests are molesters.
 Science has disproved God.
 The Bible is no longer relevant.

And so on and so forth.  But after inspection, none of those things hold up to be actually true.  

The beginning wisdom is paradoxically not a striving to know it independently, but an initial admission of total inability to know truth, followed by a declaration of the need for God, followed by the commitment to follow God and to live as Jesus Christ did on Earth.  More so than any other truth in the Bible, the method of life lived by Jesus is to be our guide to living.  Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, he loved his friends, he loved his enemies, he healed the sick, he gave hope to those who had none, he shined a light on the religiosity of the Pharisees, he humbly washed the feet of his disciples, and then willingly died on the cross for all the evils of the world, once for all time, for all mankind, reclaiming his life on the third day, and giving final instructions to his dearest friends.  There is no other life like it in history or beyond, there is no greater example for how to live, and no humbler a God than ours, who would come in person to wash his people clean, paving the way for their redemption.  We were lost, and of no merit to be redeemed, yet we were redeemed, once for all time by Him who loves us.

The Lord God then as our sovereign, our friend, our protector, and our comforter, leads us along the path of wisdom, unveiling secret after secret, and truth after truth.  What a wonderful thing, don't you see?

Jeremiah 33:2, 3 NIV "“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’"
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.