Monday, June 6, 2011

I Don't Wanna Be a Casual Christian!


Just over a year ago, I rededicated my life to Jesus. One of the things that convicted me was getting reacquainted with that Christian music that I knew years ago. Petra, White Heart, Larry Norman, Malcolm and Alwyn, Darrell Mansfield and others. DeGarmo and Key had meant a great deal to me. Somehow, DeGarmo and Key ministered to me the most. I saw them in concert three or four times. 

Like the other artists, they gave encouragement as well as admonition. Evangelism should go without saying; the "buy one get one to give away" cassette deal has stuck with me for years. (Dig this blues version of a song they mastered earlier, "Are You Ready?".) Dana did that thing that several other Christian rock artists have done: He went into the ministry. Not a surprise, because music is a ministry for many of them.

I was shocked and very saddened to learn that Dana Key died on June 6, 2010. There are several tributes around (I linked to one in my own tribute), including this one I just found. Someday, I will meet him again. We will have forever for him to show me how he played that guitar. Good thing, it will take me almost that long to learn how he did that stuff! It will be a family reunion...

One song they did was very powerful for me, and other people feel the same way. It sums up my feelings (and reminds me of my failings), but is also an encouragement.
It's more than a wish, more than a daydream
More than just a passing whim
Yes, I've said this all before
A thousand times or more
I don't want to waste my life in chains of sin

CHORUS:
I don't wanna be a casual Christian
I don't wanna live a lukewarm life
But I wanna light up the night
With an everlasting light
I don't wanna live a casual Christian life

This life is filled with strong distractions
With pulls from the left one from the right
I've already made up my mind
Gonna leave this world behind
Gonna live my life a living sacrifice.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Genesis of Confusion

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3, NKJV)


And now for something completely different. Actually, the message itself is not different, but the way I am going about it is quite different for me.

First, some background. As my regular readers know, I am a Biblical Creationist (my Weblog with Creationist messages is here). No, I am not saying that if you are an old-earth Creationist that you are not a Christian. Nor am I saying that if you use a form of "theistic evolution" that you are not a Christian. But I do say that if you claim to believe the Bible, you end up doing some interesting eisegesis to compromise and force-fit your beliefs into what the Bible says.

Evolutionism has taken such a stranglehold on modern society that it causes a great deal of confusion to new believers as well as those who want to seriously consider the message of Christianity. Does the Bible mean what it says? Is the Bible wrong in the first place? Can we trust the Bible at all? I am not going to lay out the whole case for Genesis here (but I can refer you to Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and Creation Ministries International to get you started.

Confusion, apostasy, atheism, compromise are all rampant and seem to be increasing. The good news is that interest in solid Biblical teaching also seems to be increasing (here is just one example).

This is the part where I let other people tell their stories. It is a bit tricky. The following content was posted on Facebook, so not everyone will be able to follow a supporting link. I have permission to reproduce the "Note" and comments, and I removed the full names of the participants. If they wish to identify themselves, they can use the comments section. Also, I did a small amount of editing for clarity when people added their own corrections, but that is at a minimum. Finally, Facebook comments do not allow bold, italic, highlighting and other formatting, so people are occasionally used to type IN CAPS for emphasis.




Kevin wrote, "On Militant Anti-Creation 'Christians'"


For the life of me (and in spite of my article which argues that some professing Christians who believe evolution can actually be Christians), I can't understand why someone bothers with the rest of Christianity, or professes to be a Christian at all, when he finds any part of the Bible--let alone the foundational chapters--so at odds with what he "knows" to be true.
Apart from any debate on Creation or evolution, what is it about the rest of Scripture and Christianity that's so much more convincing (is Christ's resurrection actually more in line with current "scientific" thinking?), and why would it even seem so when it's so "obviously" wrong about Creation and Christ Himself is apparently mistaken about it? What would draw anyone to a Person claiming deity who goes against "known" science and can't even correct the "mistakes" of the earlier Scripture writers when He brings them up?

Why, if evolution is true, doesn't one just take it with all the rest of secular "science" and dismiss all the rest of Scripture where it presumes to give a recounting of history, especially of Christ's resurrection and other miracles--surely much less "scientific" than creationism?

— May 31, 2011
Kevin added, "Because I've been misunderstood in the past about the same thing, let me point out that my use of quote marks around "Christians" in the title is simply because I don't know (but I DO know that not EVERY professing Christian IS one) and to indicate that the person in question apparently professes to be one — regardless of anyone else's questions about it or even his own lack of evidence for the new life he's supposed to have...I agree that science DOES verify the Bible and tried to carefully use quote marks to indicate the other guy's view, not my own."

Tad wrote, "What I love is how science--viewed from a Godly stance--PROVES the truth and inerrancy of the Bible. Remind me one day to tell you about the Christian astrophysicist who was able to use the Bible to explain a 24 hour discrepancy between mathematical calculations and empirical data."

Linda joined in, "Ok, you will probably not believe me 'cause the coincidence seems a little weird. But I had the very same thought earlier today while reading one of the scientific vs unscientific discussions. 

"The very same question came to mind - if you just can't accept creation, how could you possibly accept the resurrection? I feel I am in very good company, so thanks. I just wish I had posted the point when it came to mind."

The highlighted part of her comment brings out something of vital importance that Creationists have been pointing out for a long time.

Now it's Grahame's turn: "Tad, I need to hear that as a friend of mine keeps saying that Creationism serves no useful scientific purpose!"

Timely posting, isn't it? That is the kind of thing with which we constantly have to contend. What usually happens is that someone reads a book written on a popular level, dismisses all of Creation Science and then other disbelievers congratulate each other on being more intelligent than us. All based on a serious absence of effort on their parts.

My mouthy self added, "Rereading 'The Lie: Evolution' by Ken Ham. It's a bit older and could stand a bit of updating, but it still points out how Genesis is the foundation of Christianity. This was one of my baseline teachings. If Genesis isn't true, you have the domino theory of Christianity, one tips into another into another... Jesus referred to Adam as a real man, not a point in our evolution. The flood of Noah's time was not only referred to as an actual event, but a symbol of Christ and the coming judgement (the next time, by fire). In other words, you'd have to do some fancy theological footwork to make excuses, because Jesus, Peter, Paul and the others who referred to Genesis as actual events would be lying!

"By the way, none of this 'local flood' nonsense. Not only does the Bible make it clear that it was global, but God wasted an 'undred years of Noah's time building an ark when God could have said, 'Pack your bags and move to a different valley, because this area right here is flooding out'."


Don made some interesting remarks: "I posted this comment on Ashley's wall a couple of days ago:

"Creation/evolution was the biggest issue I had to deal with when I first became Christian in my first year of college some 30 years ago. I could not honestly reconcile what I read in Genesis with the theistic evolution presented in apologetic books like 'Science Speaks' by Peter Stoner. I just wanted to know the truth. If evolution was true then I knew the first chapters in the Bible were false. I guess I’m someone who can’t compartmentalize my thinking: If I can’t trust the first few chapters in the Bible to tell the truth, then how can I trust the rest?

"I remembered in high school reading a review of 'The Troubled Waters of Evolution' by Henry Morris in a local paper. The review mocked the book, but I remembered the title and I sought the book out in the local library. Reading it was like a breath of fresh air. I then found a copy of 'Evolution: The Fossils Say, No!' By Duane Gish and gobbled that up. And the rest is history.

"I’ve been debating evolutionists ever since then. The debate gets tiring online at times because the semi-anonymity of the Internet causes many evolutionists to be a lot more dishonest than they normally would be face-to-face. The bald-face lying of Jim Thorpe on CMI’s fan page comes to mind."

Kevin returned with, "
I read all three of the books you mentioned long ago myself also and had the same problem with 'Science Speaks', at least later, when I was clear enough in my understanding to see the problems with his belief in an old earth. I was somewhere in my mid-teens when I read my father's copy of Henry Morris's 'Scientific Creationism,' the first one I read, out of curiosity, and what started me following the whole Creation/evolution and apologetics issues. (Now my dad comes to ME with related questions and uses material I've written in his Bible studies and other Christian training.)"

Ashley joined the discussion: "You know, I was like Don. When I started my life as a Christian, Evolution was a big obstacle. I tried to reconcile by looking up materials by theistic Evolutionists and talking to college professors here from a popular Christian colledge called Southeastern University (George Bush Jr. visits regularly). They compromised big time by teaching that Darwin believed in God and didn't have any beef with him, Evolution is true, and that radical Christians (Creationists) make Darwin out to be a bad guy. 

"Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in limbo trying to figure out how in the world Evolution didn't contradict the Bible to no avail. It did every way I looked at it. Then, one day, I went to a "theme" park called Dinosaur World. While reading the information they gave about the individual dinosaurs, everything had peculiar information. Like, "it is uncertain", "unknown", "maybe", was written on every single plaque. Something minor like that pushed me to learn more about Evolution and Creation. 

"Through that journey, I, to this day, have no idea how any reasonable person can think/say that theistic Evolution is legit or back Evolution up altogether. It is so.....flawed. There's no other way of saying it. It takes incredible faith to believe in such a flawed concept. At least things being discovered that the Bible has recorded is consistent. Nothing that has been observed has contradicted it. Not one thing. I don't understand why people are willing to compromise."

Addendum: Ashley wanted me to add this link to "Creation: Why It Matters". OhMyYes!

Tad contributed, "Here's another point to throw in the face of these "scientists": it's called the THEORY of Evolution. THEORY. Not LAW. If they truly understood science, they would know that there are WORLDS of difference between the two concepts, and so might find it more readily easy to abandon such a flawed concept as evolution. Oh, silly, silly me — that's probably why they try to teach it as if it were a scientific law. To easy to lose adherents if it were merely a scientific theory. Hence, of course, MY use of the quote marks when referring to "scientists". Guess there are professing scientists, same as there are professing Christians, eh?"

Jonathan cautioned, "Tad, all the same, be careful about such statements, as shown in http://creation.com/arguments-we-think-creationists-should-not-use#just_theory".

These people had questions and doubts that may have eventually caused them to abandon their faith. Fortunately, they did some investigation and learned the truth about the Bible and Creation Science. This is an excellent example of why it is so important to know what we believe, why we believe it, and are able to explain that our faith is not blind, but is actually reasonable (1 Peter 3.15).

Centuries ago (OK, so I'm exaggerating, but it feels like such a long time), Ken Ham pointed out the problem and the solution. The problem is that we are not defending our Biblical foundations, but our enemies are attacking them. What are we doing? Taking pot-shots at the issues, doing nothing, going in the wrong direction, shooting each other or even helping destroy our own foundations:

 

We need to not only defend our foundations, but strengthen them and stand on God's Word as our source of truth (Isaiah 40.8, 58.12):
 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whose Opinion Matters Most to You?

Some of us have been getting ridicule for taking a stand for our beliefs (Matt. 5.11-12, John 15.20-21), the most recent deliberate misunderstandings are based on voicing our beliefs on Christian modesty (if you're curious about the hate, you can see some in comments here and here). They can continue with their vituperation, but not only will they leave reality itself unchanged, but they will have no influence on our commitment to the teachings of the Word of God. They will have to explain themselves someday (Matt. 12.36, John 5.28).


Here is a song that demonstrates the standards of Bible-believing Christians, and it is also an encouragement to us. Petra has meant a great deal to me for many years, and this is another reason for it. The "video" is audio-only. Lyrics are below.





"Godpleaser"
Words and music by Bob Hartman
Based on Prov. 14:12; Eph. 6:6; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 4:1; Matt. 6:2, 25:23; Col. 3:23

So many voices telling me which way to go
So many choices come from those who think they know
There's a way that seems right to a man
But it only brings him death
I wanna go the way that leads to life
Till I draw my dying breath

(Chorus)
Don't wanna be a manpleaser - I wanna be a Godpleaser
I just want to have the wisdom to discern the two apart
Don't wanna be a manpleaser - I wanna be a Godpleaser
I just want to do the things that please the Father's heart

Some make a sacrifice and never let it show
Some make a point of letting everybody know
Some will live their lives as unto men
And they have their reward
I just wanna do everything I do
With all my heart unto the Lord

I just want my life to glorify His Son
To make my Father proud that I'm His child before I'm done
No need to pat me on the back or stop the shake my hand
I just want to hear my Father say "Well done, well done"
I just want to hear my Father say "Well done"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Resource: Are We Making Him Known?

As Christians, are we keeping the truth to ourselves? When we meet God on Judgment Day, will we have people say, "Yes, Lord, this one led me to you"? For that matter, are we sure that we are right with God, or are we playing religious games with ourselves?

Today's resource is not going to take you all that long (this time). It is about twenty minutes. You can click the link and listen to the audio, or right-click and "save as" so you can listen to it offline. It is by Dr. Charles Stanley, and it is called "Making Him Known". I sincerely hope that you will use this link and give it a listen.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Resource: Evolutionists' Assumptions

Evolutionists like Dr. Richard Dawkins speak authoritatively as if their not-even-theory were as good as fact. But building a case for naturalistic evolution is like trying to build a house in midair. No matter how solid the construction, the house will collapse without a foundation. Thus, evolutionists must assume biblical grounds to support their worldview. These biblical grounds—such as logic, morality, and uniformity—stem from the nature and power of the Creator God as revealed in the Bible. Yet evolutionists deny the Creator while resting their faulty beliefs on His foundation. By challenging their faulty basic assumptions that the laws of logic, absolute morality, and the uniformity of nature exist apart from the Creator, the Christian can prove that reasoning, absolute moral standards, and science itself must be based on the biblical worldview.
Click here for the article.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Striking a Balance

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Rom. 10:14-17, NKJV)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matt. 28:18-20, NKJV)


It is interesting to me to see the different ways that I receive inspiration for some of my articles. In this case, I was writing a serious letter and thought, "You know, this could be my rough draft..."

As a bit of review, I want to restate the main points of this Weblog:
  • To encourage Christians to fulfill the Great Commission, sharing their faith with those who are perishing (Jude 1.23)
  • To encourage believers to be grounded in the Word and in love (Eph. 3.17-19)
  • To encourage Christians to be able to defend the faith (ἀπολογία, apologia, a speech in defense, 1 Peter 3.15) and show that we do not have to shut off our brains to become believers
  • To help equip followers of Jesus in both evangelism and apologetics; there are many resources available
  • To ask church people to examine themselves to see if they are, indeed, in the faith and to make certain of their relationships with Christ, and of their eternal destination (2 Cor. 13.5, Matt. 7.21-23), because being a "good (whatever)" is not a guarantee
  • To warn Christians about false teachers who can fool them, causing them to abandon their faith or get drawn into a cult

As Christians, we are sometimes accused of something resembling Fideism. Unfortunately, sometimes it is a valid claim. Children will ask their parents a question, and are told, essentially, "Shut up and have faith. It's a mystery", or a similar brush-off. Although there are some things we may never know or fully understand, true faith is not afraid of questions. Especially in this age, where there is plenty of information available and people to ask.

The Word of God is our sword (Eph. 6.16, Heb. 4.12) and we must preach the gospel message. It will do its job (Isaiah 55.11). I strongly urge people to listen to (or watch) "Hell's Best Kept Secret" and "True and False Conversion", and then watch the video, "What DID Jesus Do?" Those are here. This is urgent, because Hell is real and we do not want people to go there, despite what false teachers like Rob Bell will say.

On the other hand, people have honest questions, and many have fallen away from the faith because they did not get answers. We can spend a great deal of time convincing honest seekers of the truth, dealing with philosophies and giving evidences for the faith. We may end up with people who are intellectually satisfied but are still lost.

This is where I believe that balance applies. Apologetics is very important. The Christian faith is not just "because the Bible said so", and is supported by a great deal of evidence. We can show that our faith is reasonable, but we can lose souls if we spend all our time on giving evidence. So, we need to present the Word of God as well. Let it do its work, resonating with the conscience of the seeker.

Do we present the Bible, or do apologetics? My answer is: Both. Give a good effort to answer questions from honest seekers, but do not let people who are not serious waste your time. Some people take great delight in wasting the time of Christians, bringing up "rabbit trails", "red herrings", constant questions or objections and so forth. You have to prayerfully decide when it is time to move on. But do not forget to present the heart of the gospel message.

On the other hand, do not simply appeal to the Bible all the time. We do have reasons to believe, and our faith is not blind. It is a matter of keeping a proper balance, but it is not tricky or dangerous.

Do you care about the lost?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting Too Excited

"We have to answer the current scientific attitude toward Christianity, not the attitude scientists adopted one hundred years ago. Science is in continual change and we must try to keep abreast of it. We may mention such things; but we must mention them lightly and without claiming that they are more than 'interesting.' Sentences beginning “Science has now proved” should be avoided. If we try to base our apologetic on some recent development in science, we shall usually find that just as we have put the finishing touches to our argument science has changed its mind and quietly withdrawn the theory we have been using as our foundation stone."
— C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics", 1945
The above quote ties in nicely with some things I have said in the past. Sometimes, Christians want to be convincing, so we resort to assuming that impressive (or sensationalistic) reports are true without verifying them. I have received the old "atheist professor and the chalk that would not break" e-mail that is not true. How about the debate on the King James Only controversy, and it has been falsely proclaimed that a man defending a newer translation of the Bible was stricken by God and lost his voice (that claim is answered here). Or the "Russians drilled into Earth's crust and heard screams from Hell" gag. (Imagine a Russian accent here: Please to be giving me large break!).

What happens when we trust new "discoveries" and proclaim them as earth-shaking truths, only to find out that they are incorrect, or worse, fake? We look like st00pid dumb Xtians! Embarrassing. I like what C.S. Lewis said above, that we should refer to something as "interesting", and not base our arguments on something that may vanish later.

By the way, for arguments' sake (yours and mine), I have some links to arguments that Creationists should not use. One is from Answers in Genesis, the other is from Creation Ministries International.

Now, keep on contending for the faith (Jude 1.3, 1 Peter 3.15). Without sensationalism, if you don't mind.

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