Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Philosophical Transformation Series: Science & Faith: Does God Exist?

Truth is under attack today. In fact it’s suggested that we live in a post-truth culture. But I don’t believe that’s true. Truth is by it’s very nature exclusive. And that tracks with reality. Multiple contradictory truth claims can’t all be true. If 2+2=4, that is the only answer to that question. The answer can never be anything else. Which is why all religions can’t be equally true. Christianity says there is one God, Hinduism would say there are millions of gods, while Buddhism would say there is no god at all. They can’t all be true, only one can true. This is due to a rule of logic called the law of non-contradiction. If the answer to 2+2= 4 then it cannot be 3 or 5, or 5,000 or -20. Truth is exclusive.

Today, building off the foundation that all truth is not relative, but objective, fixed, and absolute, we are going to look at the scientific evidence for the existence of God. We’ve talked about this in prior messages, but I think it’s so important that we keep this information fresh in our minds. We want to have a lot of these facts tucked back into our minds for when we encounter those who do not believe in God.

But it also helps us to keep firm in our faith. We’re surrounded day and night by a contrary message from the television, much of the internet, Hollywood, and of course the mainstream media. That message is: Belief in God is stupid. “Belief is blind faith in that which contrary to reality,” that’s a definition given by Richard Dawkins for Christians.

When I first discovered the four key arguments for the existence of God, and many other facts of science and history I felt like I had been tricked. I felt like I had been purposefully led astray by public education and college education, and by the dominant culture. I was shocked by what I learned. So I try to share it as much as possible, so others can know the truth.

The media, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, they always give us the false dichotomy of “science vs. religion.” But as I researched I discovered that science actually supports the idea of the existence of God. And it turned out as I looked back in history, that the greatest scientists of history were people who believed in God. In fact the sciences themselves were born from Christian men looking into the natural world expecting to find order and design, based on the belief that God created the universe. Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, and Bacon were all Christians. Albert Einstein, Charles Lyell, Max Planck, and many other notable scientists were deists.

I felt like the wool had been pulled over my eyes! It was quite compelling to learn that the greats throughout history had been Christians and believers in a God of the universe. See, growing up I didn’t really believe in God. In fact I argued with my priest when I was 16 about the existence of God. I wish someone had told me all the evidence back then. Maybe I could’ve avoided years of confusion, depression, and drug addiction.

See, I’m a skeptical sort of man. When someone tells me how great something is, my first reaction is to be very skeptical. And for good reason. If someone knocks at your door these days or tries to convince you how great something is, 9 times out of 10 they are trying to either sell you something, or recruit you into a cult. It’s sad, it really is. Have you ever had someone try to get you to join an amway scam? Or something like beach body, or jamberry nails, or thrive, or team life, where they try to recruit into their pyramid to sell stuff for them? That is the worst. The feeling of being scammed is quite ugly. And you never want to see that person again.

I remember one time a buddy of mine tricked me into going with him. And he offered to drive. Why? So I wouldn’t be able to leave during the presentation. And it was like it’s own separate religion. They got on the podium and announced people around the country who were making all this money. And every time they listed someone, everyone got on their knees and applauded. And I found myself doing it too! Just to kind of, blend in more. It was truly disturbing. Then they surrounded me, and demanded of me if I wanted to reserve my seat for $50. I said I needed to do some research. And sure enough, Forbes magazine listed team life as a prominent pyramid scheme.

For us analytic types men, and women, whenever someone approaches me about stuff, I want to know: What is the proof? What is the evidence? Show me the facts. And I’ll decide if I’m going to believe it. So for those out there, who might harbor a skepticism about the Christian faith, let’s talk facts.

Before we go any further, I’d like to share my sources with you. I won’t be able to present even a quarter of what I’ve learned in one post, so I encourage you to pick up these resources. 

The Truth Project 12 Part DVD Series by Focus on the Family
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler & Frank Turek
Reasonable Faith Ministries Video Shorts
The Assorted Sermons of Ravi Zacharias of RZIM
The Intelligent Design DVD Collection by the Discovery Institute

So these are the arguments that knocked me flat on my face. There are plenty of others, but these are the four that impacted me the most significantly.  

  1. The fine tuning of the universe shows God exists (argument from design)
  2. The fact of a cosmic beginning shows that God exists (cosmological argument)
  3. The existence of morality requires an intelligent moral law giver, God (moral argument)
  4. The fact that there is something (the universe) rather than nothing is best explained by the existence of God (contingency argument)

For the sake of time we’re only going to look at the first two. But if you’d like to learn more about the contingency argument and the moral argument, click here.

1. The fine tuning of the universe proves God exists

They also call this the anthropic principle. A few examples that most of us already know… is that if the Earth were just a little closer or further away from the sun there would be no life on earth. If the moon wasn’t there, there would be no life on Earth. If the Earth wasn’t tilted the seasons would be too extreme for humans to survive. Scientist Dr. Hugh Ross has identified 122 anthropic constants that must be precisely tuned for human life to exist.

Here are a few that you might not be aware of…

Lightning – did you know if storms didn’t generate lightning there could be no life? Without any lightning there wouldn’t be enough nitrogen fixings in the soil. But if there was too much lightning there would be so much fire damage there would be no life.

24 hour day – if the days were longer the temperature difference between night and day would be too great for humans to survive, if the days were shorter, atmospheric winds would be too strong, and no life could survive.

The earth’s crust – If the earth’s crust were even slightly thicker too much oxygen would transfer to the crust and prevent life, if it was much thinner there would be too many volcanoes and no life could survive.

Jupiter – If Jupiter wasn’t in it’s current orbital rotation Earth would be devastated by cosmic debris. Jupiter acts as a giant vacuum cleaner for space material.

The point is this: All of this design and fine tuning points to the fact that there is no way human life could’ve evolved from space rocks. There’s no natural reason to believe that all of these constants are just right for our species to survive. The best explanation for all of these constants is that we are not here by accident, but that an intelligent designer created the Earth for us to live upon.

"Donald Page of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Science calculated the odds against our universe randomly taking a form suitable for life as One in ten billion to the 124th power! This is a number so large, it is safe to say that the universe did not come together randomly. It was created by an incredibly intelligent and powerful designer." –Charlie H. Campbell

2. The fact of a cosmic beginning shows that God exists

Three simple points:

1. Anything that begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

This cause must be timeless, spaceless, eternal, and infinitely powerful. So this cause is best explained by existence of God.

“It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science, it is only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence.” – Allan Sandage, an American Astronomer, discovered the age of the universe, the hubble constant, and the first quasar.

Believe me, for the sake of time I’ve barely even scratched the surface. I encourage you to do more research on your own time. It is truly fascinating.

So if all these facts are out here, if its so obvious that God made the universe, why isn’t it a commonly accepted fact in our society? Romans 1:18 ESV says,” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

And of course the scriptures also say “the fool has said in His heart: there is no god.” (Psalm 14:1). Here is a honest and frank quotation from Geneticist Richard Lewontin who describes this willful blindess. He said, “‘Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Our modern society is really quietly ruled by a series of men who began to envision a world without God. Their names are John Keynes, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, Julius Wellhausen, Karl Marx, Soren Kierkegaard and Charles Darwin (Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave by Dave Breese.) And they developed worldviews to counter and suppress the Christian worldview. Think of the enlightenment, deism, humanism, modernism, and most recently post-modernism. These worldviews were built as counters to the Christian worldview. Darwin’s theory of evolution is really the big foundation to this materialist, naturalist worldview.

But Darwinism doesn’t match reality. It can’t explain getting life from non-life. It can’t explain getting something from nothing at a cosmic beginning. Yet it’s taught to our children on public, government dollars. And we lose young people by the millions. Is it any surprise then that young people turn to drugs, alcohol, sexual misconduct, pleasure seeking, and self centered lifestyles when they believe they are the product of cosmic slime and star dust? Truth matters. It really matters. And so does worldview. And science, when it’s hijacked to push an atheistic agenda.

So as we talked about previously, we are in a battle of worldviews. The material, Darwinist worldview is not believed by the majority of Americans. In fact if you were to look at Escanaba, you’d see a largely Christian society. Much of the same is true for the Midwest, and much of small town, middle America. Yet the worldview of the materialists is quite prominent in media, the sciences, colleges, public education, culture and the television. So we see this battle of worldviews taking shape on a national stage. It affects everything, education, social policies, religious faith, science, medicine, and politics. But despite all the noise, all the hype, all the brash statements by academics, atheistic scientists, and media talking heads, you may rest assured as Christians that you have placed your faith in a God who is certainly quite real. Your faith is intelligent faith. And they suppress the truth willfully, because of one simple reason: moral accountability. If God exists, and Christianity is true, then I can’t sleep with whoever I want. If Christianity is true, I will have to give an account for my life . If Christianity is true, I am in desperate need of a savior. And that’s not an easy thing to admit. But Jesus Christ is quite real, he is risen from the dead, our great redeeming savior, seated in glory at the right hand of God, he is a real, true, savior.

You’ve been given a very small taste of the wealth of evidence for the existence of God. There is so much more. I encourage you, explore those resources, order a copy of the Truth Project, and go on YouTube, search for Reasonable Faith videos, RZIM videos, or check out some books from the library. There is so much of this stuff, and it’s simply fascinating. The truth is we’ve been led astray, but we’re here today, because God almighty has given us His favor, he’s given us his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He has made reality. 

Today we are in a world where his presence is shaded. He is hidden from us. But the evidence of His work is everywhere. Why did he set things up like this? Why did he shroud his direct presence? Well, the first humans tried to play god in the garden. And maybe God in his sovereign judgment decreed that we would see what a world looks like without God’s direct presence. Yet he would also offer us an escape route, through his son Jesus Christ, so that if believe in Him, we await a remaking of the universe, the earth, and the human race, reset to state of glorified perfection, with no more sin, and returned to the glorious presence of the God who made us.

The final point I’d like to share is this: It is tough. It really is. We don’t see God face to face right now. He is hidden from us. So don’t resent those who refuse to believe. We must love them, and share with them about the truth. God set things up like this. And it isn’t easy. We are called as Christians to operate by pure, true faith. The scriptures say, Hebrews 10:35-11:3a: "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. What is faith? It is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.”

It is not an easy thing to operate by faith. We don’t see God, we see the world around us, and we’re constantly bombarded by a contrary worldview. Which is why we have to fight for our Christian faith.

We have to keep it in our minds. But we can believe and remain faithful to Him. He has given us his son Jesus Christ, so that if we believe in Him, we await a remaking of the universe, the earth, and the human race; reset to a state of glorified perfection, with no more sin, and returned to the glorious presence of the God who made us.

Though you don’t see God right now, your destiny is to see Him and be near Him forever. This is our destiny. This is our coming future. It is not conjecture, it is reality. We must be faithful to it.

In conclusion, when we looked into philosophy we discovered that truth is objective. And when we look into science we discover this simple fact:

“The Lord made the Earth using his wisdom. He set the sky in place, using his understanding. With his knowledge, he made springs flow into rivers, and the clouds drop rain on the Earth.” –Proverbs 3:19-20

Blue Ridge Mountains by Ashley Harrigan, via Flickr cc 2.0

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Tripping to the Bottom: Darkness, Delusions, and the Meat Hook Reality

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Have you ever tripped on drugs?  I have.  And I'd like to share a little bit about that.  There are many reasons that people use drugs.  It's becoming an increasingly common past time for young and old alike.  It's as ancient as human history, the practice of altering consciousness.  Alcohol, in wine was common all the way back to the times of Jesus and further.  Opium was common in China centuries ago.  Tobacco and peyote was used by native americans.  On and on the list goes.  

Why are we compelled to alter our consciousness?  One of the most common reasons is simply for the joy of celebration and enjoyment.  That was the original blessing of wine during celebrations.  But when drug and drink take over a life, it can become a stop-gap for reality.  It can become a way to escape life.  

As with our day and age, given all the wonders of convenience and comfort, also comes magnified and multiplied dangers and temptations.  Such is the case with drugs, pharmaceuticals, and street dope.  There are so many multicolored medications and substances that one can hardly imagine it.  

To a young person with serious issues, with trauma, family problems, and the like these options a plenty become quite appealing.  So I decided to walk that road, twelve years ago, not fearing what lay ahead for me.  

The road is dark, but it's hard to care at the time.  Satisfaction is so desirable.  For just a few moments of peace!  When I first found it I felt as if I'd struck gold.  No, even better than that.  I'd found the elixir of endurance.  I'd found an escape from the horrors of life.  I'd found escape from the prison of fear, worry, and anxiety in my own head.  

I could hold a giant middle finger to the world that had ravaged me.  And it had, it truly had.  I hadn't deserved many of the things done to me.  But I soon find, having embraced the drug, that I would deserve what would come next. 

For many years I was locked away inside my own mind, having shut the world out.  I shut out family, I shut out friends, I shut out everything.  And soon found myself becoming something... I was being transformed into a shadow.  But at least I could make the pain go away for a few hours everyday.  And for much longer too.  

Today I'd like to tell you about where I went, and what I did there, with the hope that you'll understand the addict a little better.  With the hope that you'll understand the trip a little better.  And with the hope that you'll understand your own need for God a little better. 

Tripping is like a exceedingly provocative adventure.  It is a perfect deception, as far as it's appeal and rosy beginning.  

The stomach begins to feel carved out.  It begins to hurt.  But it's a good pain, because you know what comes next.  The pain begins to mix with the altered state.  It seems almost as if there is a cloud around oneself.  The cloud grows stronger.  The emotions of the mind begin to intensify.  I would sometimes to describe it as a blur of color intensified with bright lights.  You don't see those things per se, but feel them.  

The first time for me, was wonderful.  It was like walking through a dreamscape.  I felt serene emotions.  It lasted for several hours.  And when I came down I felt fine.  There was no hangover.  The next day I went to work.  I didn't fiend for the drug.  The first time is usually like that.  

One would be prompted to assume that this experience is of little to no danger!  By outward appearances it would seem fairly harmless.  I can do this every once in a while, no big deal.  I didn't experience any negative side effects this time.  Why would I in the future?

The next time, the euphoric feeling was less pronounced for me.  And I had a slight headache after ward.  Several days in a row followed, chasing after that initial high.  I had to sleep for a whole day after three days straight of use.  

When I woke up I wanted more.  For years this pattern seemed to repeat.  Increasingly, the experience became less pleasurable, and the search for more of the substance, more desperate.  

Yet the alternative reality was so appealing.  It was like being in a dream.  And the real world seemed so bland, so ugly.  Little wondrous things would happen during the trips.  And I'd remember the wonder and awe of the experiences.  Life became more than a simple drudgery in the trips.  It wasn't just work, sleep, eat, repeat.  Magical things were happening.  Wonderful things seemed to happen. My life finally had real meaning, or so I thought.

I recall nights when it felt like the world itself was ending around me.  I recall walking around the city, like walking in a dream, like walking on clouds, though I soon began to hallucinate and see police officers coming after me.  I recall the days of sitting out in the sun during spring observing all the beauty of the nature around me.  I recall the night walks and the beauty of the night.  There was something so appealing about it all.  

Yet my body was beginning to crumble.  The trips were getting too powerful.  I was staying up for too many days in a row.  I would only sleep for an hour, then get up with a friend and go to the coffee shop.  We'd trip for several days straight and the trip would turn dark.  We'd start seeing shadows, and dark, demonic feelings would fill our souls.  There was an increasing sense of impending disaster, of doom lurking nearby.  

We'd been trapped in, cornered with a lollipop adventure.  But now we were addicted, and sleepless, and seeing dark things.  The lollipop yellow brick road had turned into a haunted mansion full of demons wielding sharp blades and knives.  And we'd found ourselves shackled to the walls.  

There was a place I went many times in the dark days of the highs.  I called it the red room.  I'd hallucinate and see a dark red velvet room.  And I'd look around.  And I was amazed by the scene.  But I had found after years that the red room was a trap.  A trap door opened under the floor, I fell through the floor, and was mounted on a meat hook landing roughly with the blade jammed into sternum.  No doubt the butcher was lurking nearby.  

This is the quintessential reality of the altered consciousness through chemicals and substances.  It is a candy-land walk onto a misty road of natural beauty leading to a dark, yet fascinating mansion, and once inside the individual falls through the trap door, and the reality of the experience is finally shown true: The person is rendered helpless, shackled, broken body, mounted on a meat-hook, in a butcher's freezer at the mercy of darkness and death, unto utter oblivion.  

What had seemed so happy-go-lucky and harmless becomes a death trap, and it is quite a shock to the traveler.  Very few escape that meat hook.  Most die on it, from overdose, or some other malady of the mind and soul.  I'm one of the few that through recovery, the twelve steps, and most of all Jesus Christ my savior, did in fact escape the meat hook butcher's room.  Though I still bear the scar on my chest from the terrible ordeal.  I tell you about it now, so that you will never go there.  But if you do, there is hope of escape, though perhaps only a fool's hope.  

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Friday, January 20, 2017

The Church on Earth: What's wrong with the church?

How many times have you listened to sermons, read articles, or read books which inevitably point to the "failings of the church?"  It seems like a constant theme.  The church isn't doing this, the  church isn't doing that!  The church is failing because of this; the church sucks because of that.  Is the church of Christ on Earth really so flawed and terrible?

I don't think so.  Now I've personally used my little megaphone to trash the church, and point to it's failings.  It's an easy thing to do.  But I've also tried to be intentional about indicating areas of growth, while including encouragement for change.  Many times people trash the church without pointing to pathways of change and growth.  

I'm a young minister in the field.  And yes I certainly see the areas where the church falls short and misses people.  But my goodness, I've seen so much good that the church does!  

It seems like we only ever hear about the terrible failings of the church.  People tear the church up and down for all it fails to do.  But honestly, the people that are listening who are true followers of Christ don't need to be yelled at, they are already inexorably drawn to do the work of God.  And the non-believers who may be hearing the message, the tares mixed with the wheat, aren't going to do anything differently anyway.  So why trash the church constantly?  The church does so much good in the world! 

Right in my own community, here in upper Michigan, in Escanaba, there are dozens of churches.  They serve the community in beautiful ways.  And that work is hard.  It isn't ever easy.  I know that from experience.  I went into ministry very fresh faced and bushy tailed.  

Within the first year I became some might say slightly jaded, not in the failings of the church per se, but simply in the difficulty of the work.  You move into a level of spiritual warfare where it feels as if you've gone from jogging a wind swept road to trudging through a swamp.  I'm certain this battle and struggle is spiritual in nature.  Another contributing factor is simply the nature of the constant, week in and week out lifestyle of ministry.  It isn't easy.  But of course it can be done.  And you don't have to become jaded, you really don't.  It takes determination, and donning a suit of spiritual armor, but it's quite reasonable to be temperate, yet full of zeal, cautious yet willing to call from the rooftops.  

I've seen this kind of focused, loving service in my own area.  One of the most beautiful things I've seen is when churches of different denominations work together.  Many of the churches in my area banded together to provide a rotating homeless shelter for those with housing concerns during winter.  It's a beautiful thing to see fifteen different churches, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Non-denominational, Apostolic, and all the rest working together to love those in need.  Their story is never sung though.  They never get mentioned in long winded sermons by those denouncing the failures of the church.  Their achievements don't appear in secular newspapers.  

On a national scale I think of ministries like Intervarsity and Cru.  They operate on thousands of college campuses.  They share the gospel with millions of students.  I've personally encountered their ministry at a tiny college in Wausau called UWMC.  They meet faithfully, speak about the truth, and sing songs of worship.  It's beautiful.

I think of Compassion International, literally millions of starving children in 3rd world countries are served.  I think of voice of the martyrs, serving the persecuted church.  These ministries are generally well funded by people giving their own hard earned money.  But their song is never sung, and all we hear about are the failures of the church.  But in so many ways, the church rocks!

I think of the Salvation Army, the church organization I work for, operating thousands of homeless shelters, adult rehabs, and Croc centers.  Not to mention all the tens of thousands of soup kitchens, meal programs, social services programs, evangelism events, church services, and conferences. 

Recently in my area I made contact with the Gideons.  Think of all the Gideons have accomplished!  They've placed millions upon millions of Bibles in hotel rooms.  In fact many a time during my wayward days I would pull that Bible out and read from it.  Such a blessing, such unsung heroes. 

I could go on and on, Converge International plants some of the best biblical churches I've ever seen, capable of leading young people to Christ in droves.  Calvinist churches have a knack for reaching a wide audience via podcasts, books, and social media.  Increasingly the Southern Baptist convention is doing great things to stand for truth in our culture in America.  

Consider all of these amazing Christian institutions: Catholic charities, Lutheran social services, Samaritan's purse, Wycliffe Bible translators, Liberty university, Gospel for Asia, Geeks under grace, intellectual takeout, CBN, RZIM, Reasonable Faith, Cross Examined, Sermon Index, Biola university, and Ligonier ministries.  Just to name a few!  

Do all these groups get it perfectly?  Nope.  But they work hard and serve God.  And it's a beautiful thing.

Of course we rarely get to hear about all the good these organizations do on behalf of Christian society.  Think about it, what do we always hear about on the news: Westboro Baptist church picketing funerals of soldiers, megachurch pastor asking his congregation to help fund a new jet, Joel Osteen's net worth, sexual infidelity by prominent pastors, Priest-child sex scandals, and on and on the list goes.  

Often it's the same thing in the pulpit.  A sermon talking about all the great achievements of the church isn't going to garner tens of thousands of views on YouTube and podcast.  But a sermon decrying the flaws of the church might! 

So the next time someone starts complaining about the infinite failures of the church, remind them of all the good the church has done throughout history and today!  The church is the hands and feet of Christ.  Of course non-believers are going to see that and find ways to make money off the message.  Of course the wheat and the tares will grow together, as the word says, and it will seem like much of the "church" looks just like the world.  But that was to be expected, we're told to not try to uproot the tares because we might accidentally pull out the wheat.  So I don't understand trashing the church.  The church is doing just fine across the world.  And we need to keep doing the mission of carrying the gospel.  And we will.  All will happen according to God's will.  Should we encourage the church to expand and reach more?  Of course!  But taking pot shots at the church doesn't really help anything.  

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Something is Missing: What it's like to be Drugged and Raped

(This piece has been rated "R."  No one under the age of 18 should read this. For those over 18, bear in mind that this piece will describe in detail disturbing events related to sexuality and violence.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent, any similarity to real life individuals or circumstances is merely coincidental.)

I debated for several years whether I ought to tell this story.  In our modern society the tendency is to hide events such as these, and pretend they never happened.  When something ugly comes to the surface and shows itself to our day dream nation, we push it aside, as it might upset our vision of a modernity that excels beyond the petty evils of the past.  Yet these things happen, a great deal, under our noses.  

We here, in this movement, we face the truth head on.  And we aren't afraid to talk about the truth, even when it's ugly and hard.  I've been through some crazy things in my life.  I've grown stronger and at times weaker through these events. I write about my past drug addiction, and I write about it frankly.  Why?  I don't hide anything.  If it makes me look bad, so be it.  I don't care.  All I care about is helping those in need find real healing.  That takes honest, full disclosure. 

So why am I afraid? Why should I fear writing this tale?  The truth is it is fear.  It's fear not just of the memories, but fear of the person who did this to me.  And some sort of inner struggle that demands of me that I must hide what happened.  Well, I reject that. Let's begin.

I was twenty-two years old, in the midst of years of surfing the city streets, driving fast, writing for hours on end, staying up to late in the morning sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes, and hitting pipes with the good ol' boys behind suburban houses in the summer months of the deep woods.  Life was at times a struggle, at times a joy.  I was enamored with the various emotions of life, especially the odd ones, of walking down forest roads in the midst of night, listening to the sounds of the wild-life, the humming of the woods, the wind blowing through the trees, and watching the darkness, the shadows upon shadows, and casting my gaze upward to behold the mysterious sky filled with stars.  

I was living on the edge, but life still seemed an enjoyable venture.  I spent many nights with friends, puffing smoke and telling stories and sharing ideas and thoughts I had.  I had several close friends, Greg, Bradley, Jake, Jamie, Patrick, and others.  I had girlfriends here and there, but I had never really been in love.  I was an average suburban kid in post-modern america, inhaling smoke, drinking salty beverages, and tripping on cough syrup.  

One night Greg and I had parked my old 92' silver Toyota SX muscle car by the water in the park around 11 PM.  We lit up a bowl and stared across the water and into the star-filled sky.  It was a truly beautiful night.  The water was amazingly still, and the stars reflected off the water so as we gazed out it was as if the water and the black sky meshed to become one giant sea of stars.  We both felt as if we were floating across a milky heavens.  Suddenly a flashlight popped on in driver side window as the lifted the brass pipe to take another hit.  A police officer stood there, and asked me to set the pipe on the ground.  

I was arrested, and later sat 30 days in jail.  A few weeks later I was arrested again for drunk driving and disorderly conduct.  Things were beginning to careen out of control.  It was as if the gentle night walk amongst the stars, and the gentle laughter around bon fires toking up was beginning to tumble into a light speed, the spins were coming on, and a cold,vicious, meat hook terror was creeping into the back of my mind.  

The indian summer of the good life of drinking, parties, nature walks, and bon fires was shifting into a cold, sharp winter of fear.  New horrors were on the horizon.  

I was once again on probation.  Many of my friends were beginning to drift away from me.  They must've smelled the scent of death and decay growing in my life.  I certainly did sense it.  Every high had increasingly gone from a happy go lucky venture through candy land to paranoid, dark, dank, windy, rainy jogs down dark autumn streets.  It was as if I could sense the serial killer meandering between the houses, looting and killing, silently, he could not be stopped, I did not know where he was, but he was certainly approaching behind me.  I just didn't know when.  He wasn't just a man, he was a force and he couldn't be stopped.  

The fear was taking over in my life.  Though I still sought refuge in the safety and security of altered states of consciousness.  It was all I knew.  I was sinking deeper and deeper into a labyrinth, one that gives hope of escape through many doors, twists and turns, but itself is the bed of disaster, one working so hard and going so far, only to find the labyrinth has no end and no beginning.  

Then I met a young man named Mike.  He was a large guy, obese, with scraggly orange hair and a scraggy orange beard.  He wore big glasses.  Instantly I had a bad feeling about this character.  In the past he had brought marijuana to my girlfriend and I, and smoked bowl after bowl with us.  Yet something odd had happened when we smoked with him.  My girlfriend began hallucinating, and foaming at the mouth.  I didn't know what to think of it then. But we had lost touch after that.

Now I had called Mikey again, and welcomed him into my home several times.  Each time he brought a great deal of marijuana and smoked me up every time.  This is an odd affair in the world of pot smoking.  Most people will expect that you either match their bowl with your own stuff, or that you sort of "switch off" so that one person isn't supporting everyone all the time.  Stoners are stingy, is essentially what I'm trying to say.  But not Mikey.  He smoked bowl after bowl with me.  

The truth is I was using him.  I didn't really like him, in fact he scared me.  But I wanted to get high. 

We got together several times at my house and smoked marijuana.  But I began to notice, just a little bit, that something odd seemed to happen.  He would smoke and smoke with me until I literally passed out.  I assumed he just left after I passed out.  I didn't pay much attention to it.  I used to have a good friend named Anna who would drink me under the table every time we hung out, and she'd leave once I was passed out.  No big deal, I suppose.

One morning I was having a terrible dream, though I don't recall what it was.  And I was screaming.  My sister was shaking me and shaking me, trying to wake me up.  But I couldn't be woken.  She got so scared that she called my grandmother to come over and try to wake me. This is called a night terror.  It can occur when repressed memories are attempting to make their way to the surface.

This happened several times.  The dreams I don't recall, but the feelings I do.  Terror, anger, fear, confusion.  One increasingly loses touch with reality, when repressed memories mix with drug use, and an already philosophical mind begins to search for the truth of the situation.  It is as if one has become Dorothy, or become Alice in the wonderland, a dark, sneaking feeling emerges that says "something is wrong here."  

One night after Mike left I woke up naked, passed out on the kitchen floor with a pile of feces next to me, smeared across the floor.  It was a full pile.  I assumed it must've been the dog, but it didn't look my dog feces.  It looked like human feces.  And my mother said the same the next morning when she saw it.  

I must've gotten together with Mikey ten more times.  One day, we had gotten together and I had passed out in the living room.  Suddenly I remembered something, something emerged out of the time fog.  I woke up in the midst of something, something painful was happening.  I was being moved back and forth on the couch.  And I cried out, "What is happening?"  And Mikey laughed and replied, "Oh nothing" as he pounded away.  Then I lost consciousness again. 

I suppressed the memory, told myself it wasn't anything, it was just a dream.  Again I hung out with Mikey, and I again recalled a memory that floated up through the fog, I was wavering on my knees, naked on the kitchen floor in front of him.  His.. thing was hard, and he was standing over me with a smile on his face, as if he were a conqueror, a dominatrix.  I remember crying out "no!" within as he raped me, but I couldn't speak.  And I lost consciousness again.

A few weeks later, again I woke up during the experience, and I ran to the bathroom.  It was quite odd.  I was only able to remember what was happening once I was drugged, and awoke during the drugged experience.  But once I awoke after being roofied, I instantly remembered that he had raped me dozens of times.  This time I ran to the bathroom. And locked it. Then I passed out.  I don't remember what happened next, but I think that time I did escape him.

Another time I woke up to being raped, and I called to my dog for help, she had growled at Mikey, but he looked at the dog and said "good boy" and then went back to grunting and raping me.  

That summer Mike had a long two week get together at his parent's house while they were traveling in Europe.  I remember as we smoked a bowl with a group of friends one of the girls, Carrie, passed out on the ground and started foaming at the mouth.  I was surprised and assumed maybe she had some sort of seizure disorder.  I recall we sat around at his computer and talked for many hours.  

At that time I wrote a blog about my daily life and my thoughts about things like philosophy, politics, and daily living.  Mike told me that he read everything I wrote, and it really inspired him.  He said I was a very good friend.  And that I had inspired him to be better in his life.  

I believed him, I really did.  Oddly enough through this whole venture, he was beginning to change.  He was starting to become a different person.  He was starting to fight those urges to assault others.  At least that's what I believe, deep down.  

I became friends with one of Mike's old friends, a guy named Steve.  Steve and I went out for chinese one day after smoking up.  And in his pickup truck Steve drove to a park.  And he told me something.  He said,"Dude watch out for that Mike guy.  I don't know what happened. But one day him and I smoked up.  And I passed out or something. But when I woke up my pants were around my ancles and my ass hurt."  

I looked at Steve in amazement.  "What are you talking about?" I asked.  "Mike would never do something like that."  

Steve looked down sadly.  He must've felt ashamed that I hadn't believed him.

A few weeks later Mike and I again hung out, smoked up, and I passed out in the living room.  I woke up fairly quickly.  And Mike said, "Dude you passed out.  Let's go smoke another."  So we went outside and sat down in the garage door entrance.  But as I sat down I realized that my butt hurt.  And I said to him,"Man, my ass really hurts."  

Mike laughed very hard.  In fact he didn't stop laughing for about three minutes.  It was a bizarre, long, sadistic laugh.  I didn't understand why he was laughing so hard. Maybe he thought it was just generally funny?  But then that memory came to my mind, of Steve telling me about how his butt hurt.  

I looked at Mike and something clicked inside, somewhere the memories pushed past the lies, and I said to Mike, "Mike, did you rape me?"  

He looked down.  I couldn't believe it.  But I was starting to realize something had happened.  Something terrible.  I asked him again, "Mike, did you rape me?"  

Again he said nothing, and looked down ashamed.  I asked him a third time after a long silence: "Did you rape me?"

He finally said,"No man."  And at that moment I pushed aside the feeling, and trusted my friend, that he would never do something like that.  There were no memories yet, just a feeling.  So I believed him.  And he raped me again that night.

I lost touch with Mikey for a while.  I got another DUI, and ended up going into treatment and getting clean and sober.  This was in 2007 and 2008.  During that time, I tried to convince Mikey to get clean too.  And he eventually did.  But I'm convinced that he didn't just get clean from pot, what he really got clean from, I certainly hope, was from being a serial rapist.  

I don't know how many people he did it to, or even how many times he raped me. But it must've been a lot.  

All of those memories were hidden once again, they would pop up from time to time, and my mind would suppress them.  They must've been too shocking and terrible to integrate into my conscious memory.  The damage these repressed memories did to my life cannot truly be counted.  Depression, suicide attempts, increasing drug use, broken relationships, those kinds of repressed memories eat away and destroy a person from within.  And the person doesn't even know why.  

From 2007 to 2010 I still considered Mikey an old friend.  So when I invited him to work on the newspaper with Patrick and I, it seemed like a brilliant idea.  But when Patrick and I started using drugs, drinking, and tripping on dxm Mr. Mikey used the situation to get both of us fired.  In fact, he took over the entire newspaper while we watched helpless from the outside, addicted and falling apart.  

It was in 2011 that for some reason all the memories came flowing back from the many rape experiences.  Finally my mind integrated the experiences.  And I found myself in need of serious therapy.  I had to work on it for years, seeing counselors and journaling about what happened to me.  To this day I am deeply afraid to go to someone's house that I don't know.  Even people that I do know, I am terrified to go to their house, that they might hurt me or attack me.  

The consequences of being raped are life long, but for being drugged and raped numerous times, well, it either comes to define you and you live to see yourself become the villain, or you make it part of your testimony to God's grace, and you overcome that and use it as an example of how Christ has overcome every evil in your life.  

To this day I pray for Mikey.  I hope he finds the peace he needs.  The truth is, his father probably did it to him, and his grandfather to his father, back in time, the sins of the father being transferred to the son.  But though this happened to me, it will never define me.  I will share about it so others know they can heal to.  So if your reading this, and it happened to you too, you can heal. You aren't alone.  You can overcome what was done to you.  And you can forgive the one who did it to you.  One of the most powerful ways to heal from these sort of memories is to write them down on paper, and then read it to someone you trust.  If we lock it inside and leave it there, it can come to define us, and we sexually act out in response, or turn ourselves into the prostitute of all, assuming all we're good for is to be used for sex.  Don't let that be you.  Get it outside of you.  Process it, talk about it. Write it down and heal from it.  You can, because I have.  And so have many others.  

So in conclusion, these things do happen.  We live in a sinful fallen world, despite how we rebel against such a concept.  But it's real. The world is fallen.  Thanks be to God that he revealed to me what had happened, so I could heal from it.  To this day I'm a walking message of the grace of Christ.  My life is now a mission to help those who have suffered.  So I share this now in hopes that people who have been through rape and worse will read it and find identification and healing through my story.  God be praised.  Amen. 

Related Posts:
  1. Journey of the Christian through the Forest called Earth
  2. What is the matrix?
  3. Living in the Suburban Sprawl (Mountains beyond Mountains)
  4. Ancient Doorways in the Brickhouse: Fields of Green in your Dreams
  5. Depression & Meaninglessness: Where is God in the depths of sorrow?
  6. The Awe of Dreams & the Surreal
  7. Big Picture: The Solution to all the Problems of Earth
  8. What is the meaning of Life?
  9. You Oh Lord are my Strength: The Manifold Provision of God
  10. Daybreak: Examining the Problem of Pain

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Philosophical Transformation Series: What is the Truth? Can we know it? A Battle of Worldviews

Ecce Homo painting via Wikimedia Commons

I prayed a short prayer one day, as I began my first semester at Liberty University. I knew I loved Jesus, but I didn’t really understand how it fit into everything in my life. I felt like I didn’t really know the full implications of my faith in areas like society, law, personal conduct, history, and reason. So I prayed, “Lord, please help me understand my faith.” This led to a journey of discovery and learning that transformed my walk as a Christian. I went through a transformation, a metamorphosis, from a Christian in a cocoon to a Christian butterfly. I grew in a lot of areas in my life, and I continue to grow today. I hope to share through the rest of the messages I share, regarding twelve areas of knowledge concerning our Christian faith. Today we talk about truth.

Perhaps the single most important question any person can ask is: What is the truth? Truth relates to everything we experience in life and will affect every decision we make. In my next twelve messages we’ll be addressing a series of issues that relate to truth, including: worldview, science, history, and theology.

The goal of this series is to help expand our knowledge and comprehension of the world around us, ourselves, and most of all, God’s truth.

The topics are as follows. Today we’ll address the first topic on our list, which is “The Truth: Can we Know It?”

We live in a world of competing worldviews. A worldview is a way in which we look at the world. Ultimately this battle of worldviews breaks down to the battle between God’s truths and the illusions of the world.

Jesus Christ said “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32. And again in John 14:6 Jesus actually said “I am the truth.”

It’s interesting that when Pontius Pilate came to question Jesus, Pilate asked Jesus the question: What is truth? -John 18:38. And ironically, Pilate walked away without waiting to hear the answer. So I hope today we won’t walk away, but we’ll stay and wait to understand from our Lord, what truth really is.

The first question we have to ask is: Can we know truth? Oddly enough many in our culture today would say that there is no way to know truth (agnostic). And many would say that all truth is relative (post-modernism).

Could all truth really be relative? In short, no it can’t. Why? Because to suggest that “all truth is relative” is actually making an absolute truth claim. It’s a nonsensical statement. And no one lives that way. All sorts of facts are knowable, such as: mathematics, history, science, rules of logic, finances, and systems of law. The whole world functions on objective truths; philosophy and religion don't become "relative" just because it's intellectually convenient.

Second question, what exactly is the truth? R.C. Sproul a prominent theologian gave this definition which seems quite fitting: “Truth is defined as that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God.”

Third question, is truth really that important? Well the answer to that question in short is yes. As noted Christian speaker Del Tackett said, “Our actions reflect what we believe to be the truth.” So in essence how we live exactly corresponds to what we believe is true.

When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus gave a very unique answer. John 18:37 “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

You’d be amazed when reading the gospels how many times Jesus refers to the topic of truth. In fact time and again Jesus said, “I tell you the truth.” And “Truly, truly I tell you.” Jesus Christ and his mission was in part, to declare boldly the truth of God in a world full of distortions and lies.

The distortions and lies of the world continue to this very day. And so does the gospel and the church of Christ on Earth. They are in conflict with one another. The battle rages everyday in our country, and in countries across the face of the earth. Today many in America refer to it as the culture war. In reality, It is a great, cosmic battle between truth and lies.

This battle has it’s origins at the very beginning of time, when God first created the human race. It goes all the way back to the conversation between Eve and serpent. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God. Eve indicated that God had forbidden them to eat from just one tree in the great garden, and that if they ate from that tree they would surely die. And serpent said to Eve,”You will not surely die, for you will be like god, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5). And essentially what the serpent was saying to Eve, is that humanity would try to play god, and redefine good and evil to mean whatever they desired.

Essentially when the fall of man occurred, the instincts within the heart of man, within our hearts became inverted. Instead of seeking to serve God, we seek to serve ourselves. Instead of being loving, we tend to be selfish and callous. And instead of understanding our place as children of God, we instead try to play god, we attempt to control everything around us, and to redefine truth itself to mean what we want it to mean.

And as Christians, part of our commitment is to say: I’m going to fight myself, my own worst enemy, me, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, in Christ’s power, I will try to live out things in the proper order.

I’m going to embrace God’s way, instead of my way. Instead of defining truth the way I want it to be, which is an illusion, I’m going to study God’s word and embrace what is actually the truth. Instead of being selfish I’m going to try to be loving and caring for others. Instead of trying to play god and force things to go my way, I’m going to let go, and let God run the universe. He is after all, much better at it than us.

So this cosmic battle is essentially between those who have surrendered to the real truth, God’s accurate description of reality, and those who are continuing to live out the rebellion of man, those who despise god, and who want to do things their own way.

It continues to this very day. Think of the marriage debates over the last twenty years. First the issue came up of gay marriage, should men be able to marry men, should women be able to marry women. Despite what God’s word says on this issue, that marriage is between man and woman, the rebellious world angrily insisted that God was wrong on this issue. And pretty soon, they had redefined the truth to suite their own desires. But it continued after that, now today, they are seeking to redefine gender, and suggest that men can become women and women can become men, based entirely on feelings.

And again, in the area of human life, we see the starkest contrast between the perfect holiness of God and the lies of the world. The implications of a vaccum of truth means that an unborn baby, inside the womb of his or her own mother, can have forceps jammed into it’s head, and have it’s brain removed through a suction device. And in many cases, the unborn baby’s body parts are then sold on a black market for profit.

Truth matters, it affects every aspect of life, and when lies reign, humanity suffers. So we see this cosmic battle playing out before our very eyes, between the accurate truths of God, and the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Think about it in your own life. How do you struggle between believing the truths of God’s word and the believing the lies of the world? Does it affect your sexual life? Does it impact your priorities in life?

This is a very real struggle. For me in the past, I believed the lies of the world. And it led me into drug addiction. I was like a fool being led to the slaughter. If a person has not been instructed in God’s word, all they have is what is put out on the television, the internet, and instruction from parents. I nearly died, because I believed the lies of the world. This is a very real, and dangerous struggle, the cosmic battle.

I’d like to encourage you to reflect on these issues. And fight that internal battle, to submit to God’s truths.

So we live in a struggle of worldviews. This is a clash of worldviews, of philosophies regarding how the world actually is. Our modern society believes that only the material world is real. Only what can be seen and tested and touched and examined can be real. This is a worldview called materialism. They believe only the material universe exists. While we believe we are imageo dei, made in the image of God, much of the modern believes they are made in the image of slime, meaningless blobs of matter. Our biblical worldview says that there is another realm of reality, not just the material, there is a spiritual realm, which exists outside the material universe. We believe people have souls. We believe in things like consciousness and freedom of choice. We believe every human life has value, they believe in survival of the fittest, the weak must perish, the strong survive.

We see life on earth as a continuum containing the grand story of God’s plan for the human race. We see God’s glory in the sky, stars, and natural world. When we see global events take shape, when we see wars, genocide, church revivals, joyous families, and plenty we see the sovereign will of God. When we see friends struggling, when we see illnesses and deaths, we see the effects of sin on mankind, and when we see the needs of the poor and lost, and the addicted and the self destroyed we see the need for Jesus Christ our savior in the world, and our need for Christ personally, within our hearts, to help us live out our lives in holiness, and love for others.

So we understand the answer to the question: What is truth? Truth is the reality that God created the universe, the world, and the human race. God’s word is our set of glasses that we put on, it doesn’t change the world to rose colors, but it actually magnifies the world so we can see it more clearly. And more and more we’ll see that the ones wearing the blinders are actually the naturalists who insist in a world without God.

Truth is seeing reality as it truly is. We see that truth is the reality of Jesus Christ born, crucified, resurrected, and seat in glory in heaven. We understand that Jesus Christ came to Earth to testify regarding the truth. So we see that every time Jesus Christ said in the scriptures “I am telling you the truth” he indeed was doing just that.

Sources: The Truth Project Series by Focus on the Family
I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler
The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott
The Ministry of RZIM and the many presentations given by Ravi Zacharias