Monday, October 6, 2014

Creation vs Evolution: The Big "Who Cares"

Within the world of apologetics, the creation vs evolution debate figures prominently. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone has legitimate facts to back up their opinion. Whether it's Young Earth, Old Earth, Framework theory, or straight up Darwinism, there are facts and theories to defend each of them.
A short overview of each if you don't know what they all mean.
1. Young Earth: Earth was created ~6000 years ago in 6 24 hour days. Backed up by literal interpretation of Bible, evidence from flood, etc. Drawbacks are fossils, carbon dating, etc.
2. Old Earth: Earth was created a long time ago, and "days" is not a 24 hour period. Backed up by some biblical evidence, scientific data. Drawbacks are physical death before the fall, solid biblical foundation.
3. Framework: The entire creation story is figurative and is their to display Gods glory. Backed up by metaphorical language, science. Drawbacks are it doesn't actually explain how creation really happened. (This would be the theory I'd be most likely to ascribe to, but I'll get to that later).
4. Darwinism: Earth is billions of years old, God does not exist. Backed up by some science. Drawbacks are many, including the truly astronomical chances that the universe would be aligned in such a way as to create life. Things like gravity, weak force, the speed of light, etc. have to be exactly they way they are or life cannot happen.

Now, throw all that away. It doesn't matter.
That's the problem. So much time is put into this debate, by Christians and Atheists alike, when really, it doesn't matter. How old is the Earth? WHO CARES! It has no effect on our eternal salvation, on the question of ultimate importance: Did Jesus Christ die and rise again 2,000 years ago.

You can argue evolution all you want, it will get you nowhere. I myself used to spend a lot of time going over the evidence for each argument, and now I realize how fruitless it was. It really does not matter which theory is correct. If Jesus rose from the dead, then lets focus on that. That is where salvation lies. That is where hearts get changed. That is where we experience God.

If you can prove Jesus resurrected, that He is the Son of God, that He is the Messiah, then however God created the Earth doesn't matter, and all the evidence for evolution is pointless.

I think that the devil uses the creation debate to distract people from what really matters. In fact, you could spend 20 years and develop an invulnerable defense for creation, but the devil would be watching with glee. Ancient evidence about something that happened who knows when and bitter debates about the non-tangible don't change hearts. Jesus does.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Importance of Apologetics

Recently I've had a lot of experiences related to apologetics, from school, to Worldview academy, to camps, to books, and so on. And I've come to realize that we, living in a pseudo-Christian culture dominated by an intellectual atheist media, ignore apologetics far too much, and I think that this is a huge reason for why Christianity is being overcome by atheism.

First of all, if you don't know, apologetics is a word for defending your faith. It comes from 1 Peter 3:15: "Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 'Answer' here is the word apologia (I think or something) which means "defense". Ergo, apologetics means defending faith.

I just winged that paragraph, it's probably right. Maybe. I don't know. Moving on.

Today, apologetics means using logic, reason, and science to defend the faith. This is extremely important. These three areas are where Christians are constantly attacked by intellectuals. Things like "people who go to church don't look at the evidence" and "Christianity is so illogical" and "Science disproves Christianity". We need to be able to answer these attacks with things that intellectuals have to either acknowledge and respect, or ignore and lose their own credibility.

We can't answer all these things with "God will do his work in their hearts". God's work is apologetics! He made logic, reason, and science for Him! We can't ignore this area.

So, I urge you, read up. At least get the basics. I'm currently reading the book On Guard, and I highly advise it. William Lane Craig is a good person to look up. Also Lee Strobel, and The Case for Christ.

I finally posted again. I'm such a procrastinator.
Please send in some way any questions that you'd like answered. I want to do more posts about apologetics.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stimulus/Response and the 7 Habits

I have just finished the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I don't want to do a book review on it, because it would probably be very long, and I would still be forced sever out information that is absolute necessary.

All I can say is if you haven't read it, read it. It will change your life. No, you're not too busy. Yes, you have time to read it. Make time. I'm serious. Listen to it in the car if there's an audiobook of it. Read it in bed. Just do it. Trust me, it's 100% worth it. It's useful whether you're Christian or not, and it will change your life no matter what you believe. Put down your phone and read it. 

What I can do is tell you one of the most important things you will learn from this book, and it's something that will change your life if you apply it. As I phrase it: between stimulus and response is humanity.

Stimulus: Noun

      A thing or event that evokes a specific functional reaction in an organ or tissue. 

A stimulus in our lives can be a phone ringing, a homework assignment thats due, or our computers. They compel us to do a certain thing.

However, while they suggest you do a certain thing, they do not force you to do it. You do not have to answer the phone. You do not have to turn on the computer. You do not have to watch the TV. You do no have to _____. In fact, that is why we are human and animals are animals. Animals instinctively respond to stimuli. A lion is hungry and sees a deer. What does he do? He eats the deer. He doesn't choose to, he just does. We, however, have a choice. We can choose how we respond to stimuli. We can choose how we respond to the news that an essay is due tomorrow. We can let it control us, and freak out, or we can say, "I choose not to freak out. I choose to work on the essay and get it done, and I take responsibility for it." 

Final thought: responsibility. Response-ability. We have the ability to choose our response.

Final final thought: Read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Like I said, you can choose to do it. Stimuli like video games may try to control you and make you do something else, but you have the freedom to choose your response. I'd advise that it be to read this book.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Politics'n'stuff

First of all, you should watch this music video by Gungor.
"God is not a White Man" by Gungor

One of my favorite lines in the song is "God does not belong to Republicans". It really seems ridiculous to me when Christians act like the government and democrats are the root of all evil or something. You know what? You've done things just as bad as any person in the government, and complaining about what they've done to your friends who won't offer up a different opinion isn't going to fix anything. Hating on the government and not accepting the fact that they could possibly do something right won't help either.

Sometimes I think Christians act like the Great Commission was:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Oh, and vote Republican, make sure that everyone knows Democrats are of the Devil, and do your best to make everything right through politics, because while I was here on Earth I made sure to make the law the focus of my efforts."


So, like I urged in "Christianizing America", lets focus on loving those around us, and remembering that Jesus wasn't here to save a state, or a government, or a nation. He was here to save us and the people around us. I'm pretty convinced that trying to push laws and stuff through Congress isn't going to save anyone. Laws don't change hearts; love does.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review #1: Raising Dragons

I believe I said in my first post that I want to do book reviews. Here's #1.

Book: Raising Dragons
Author: Brian Davis
Series: Dragons in our Midst
Sequel series: Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard
# of books in first series: 4
Genre: Christian Fantasy

Yes, you could say there will be a couple of spoilers, but nothing too major that you won't learn by at least halfway through the book or earlier.

Christian themes rating: 10/10
Plot Rating: 7/10
Complexity Rating: 5/10 Not that its bad, its just less complex. If you like that, then it's great.
Length: 384 pages, easy to read.
Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Overall Rating: 8/10

It's tough to rate this plot, because really, you can read this book a couple different ways. You can read it for the story, and not think as deeply into the Christian themes and things in the book, in which case it probably deserves a 7/10. However, if you read it for the Christian themes and messages, then it gets more like a 9/10, because he really does weave the messages and faith journey of Billy and Bonnie (the two main characters) into the story quite well. However, it has nothing on books like Lord of the Rings or Mistborn (my personal favorite book/series).

The plot is about two 8th grade age kids, Billy and Bonnie, who are children of dragons. These dragons are from the time of King Arthur. They were turned into humans by Merlin, who in this book is portrayed as a great prophet of God. The dragons are basically immortal as far as aging is concerned, but will die from injuries/wounds. Each child of the dragons-turned-humans develops a couple of dragon powers. At around the age of five, Bonnie started developing wings, so her parents (her mom being a dragon-turned-human) had to tell her about her dragon heritage. Her mom was then killed by dragon hunters (a small group who believe themselves to be descended from knights of King Arthur), so she was put into the foster system, where she had to keep her wings a secret for fear of being called a freak. She enters the story a Christian, with a true, beautiful faith in God.

Billy, in 8th grade, begins to develop fire-breathing. It starts as just hot breath, and soon his parents begin to notice. They finally decide to tell him the truth about dragons, and he is extremely hurt because he feels his life is a lie. He meets a professor at his school who is a strong Christian, and he helps him through his faith journey.

So, after all that background, here's the real plot. A dragon slayer named Devin comes after Billy and Bonnie, as well as their parents, because he finds out their powers and who they are. They are forced to flee, blah blah blah, plane crash, blah blah blah, people dying everywhere (just kidding only like 1 person dies), blah blah blah, epic fights and stuff, good messages, dragons, fire, the end.

It's a good fantasy story even without the Christian stuff, so if you like fantasy, I'd highly advise it.

I would recommend for anyone over the age of 10-12, depending on their reading level.

Please give feedback on what I should change about the book review. I plan on doing more, and this is really a sort of prototype. I would like to develop a specific structure, so feedback about what you want to see is much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Christianizing America

I've heard things like, "We want a return to a Christian nation" and such things. Now, of course, that would be good for the Kingdom if America did in fact return to being a nation where Christianity is pure, and truly sought after by millions of people. Currently a lot of Christianity has some corrupted views, or tends to be a stale, "yeah I go to church", kind of Christianity.

Yes, I think it would be great if America were re-Christianized,in a sense (not that it was ever 100% Christian, but it was built on Judeo-Christian principles). However, I think that when we have that as our goal, some things go missing. If we are aiming to bring Christianity back to our entire country, it can be quite easy to forget our one friend who we know isn't Christian. I've seen a meme saying something like "Duck Dynasty: Bringing Christianity back" or somethingish like that. However, I would bet that the Robertson family has someone close that they know who doesn't believe in Jesus, and probably a few whose faith extends to going to church on sunday morning.

A quote from Bryan Davis from Tears of a Dragon that I think is perfect for this topic: "If it is in our power to save lives, shouldn't we do it? Shouldn't we try to save [captive] and trust God to save the world? Shouldn't we try to free a wife and daughter and trust God to liberate the rest of mankind?" ... "God has long been in the business of providing the savior the world needs. Our part has always been to reach out to one soul at a time."

The general idea the way I'm using it being God can deal with his plans for America. Our goal should be to find those people around us who need Him, and through our ministry to our friends, God can spread to the nation.

To summate, God can save America. Let's focus on those closer to us.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Short Story from My Week

I just want to share a short story from my week. This Friday, the Acquire the Fire worship band came to play at our school. It lasted about 45 minutes, and was good and deep and nice and all that.

During the worship, I was on the right edge of the middle section of the auditorium in about the fifth row or so. About 20 minutes in, I look around. I see a person a few rows up on the left edge of the right section, just across the aisle, sitting down. I don't know why he's sitting (most people were standing), but he has his head bowed and his hands clasped, in a way that could be praying or just sitting and resting.

I know him decently well, from being in both the fall drama and spring musical with him. I know he's had some serious struggles recently, and I've been praying for him for a while. People around him didn't seem to be noticing what he was doing that much, and I'm guessing they just assumed he wanted to sit. I felt a burning sensation; I felt like if I didn't go down to him right then, I would feel a horrible sense of guilt for days. I didn't even know why; I just knew that I had to go pray with him. So I get out of my row, moving past a couple of people, and walk down to him. I kneel down next to him and ask, "Can I pray for you?"  (Side note: He was a senior). 

He didn't see me coming or anything, and I knew he wasn't expecting it at all. I didn't know how he'd react; but he looked at me a with a slight, maybe surprised smile and said "Sure". At that moment, I realized something. I had no idea what the heck I was going to say. I had no idea why I was praying for him. But I put my hands on him and said something like, "God, I don't know why you called me down to pray with him, but I know you did. I pray that whatever it is you want done in his heart would be done today." Then another sentence or something. Nothing too deep, or personal. No revelation of what to say. Just a simple, short prayer.

I think it meant something to him, though. I still don't know what it was that I prayed for, but I think the fact that I went down and prayed for him meant way more than the words I spoke. I thank God that He called me down to pray for him, because it was huge for me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Questions about Faith

I personally believe that the best possible way to strengthen your faith is to investigate it. If you have doubts, that is good. In fact, if you don't have doubts, there is a high likelihood that you haven't really thought about your faith, because there are a lot of things that raise doubts. "Is there historical evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead? Does God really love people? Is what my pastor said in church this morning biblical?" These are just 3 of the hundreds of questions one could have about the Bible, Jesus, church, God, faith, life, love, prayer, etc.

 Having doubts and not looking for answers is the best way to have your faith get destroyed the moment you get to your college campus. Also, looking for answers that fit your preconceived criteria won't help either, because you'll likely be forced to ignore facts, and you'll only find the answer that you want; not the one that's right. However, if you look for answers with an open mind, you'll look at all the facts, and when you find your answer, you'll be able to support it if anyone says something different. I thinks thats why so many teens lose their faith once they're in college; they've gone to sunday school and been spoon fed answers, but they've never really answered their own questions. When someone presents a question that they don't have an answer to, they feel there must be no answer.

One thing I've had questions about is baptism. Is it necessary for salvation? Does it guarantee salvation? What does it do? I looked first at what the Bible said; in fact, I wrote down every verse in the Bible with the word "baptize" or "baptism", and then looked at verses that say things like "born of water". Then I looked at what different people and denominations believe, and how they defended their beliefs.  I can now, at least well enough for myself, defend my views on baptism, and I will not be totally at a loss if someone were to challenge my views.

I think that you should think critically about almost every sermon you hear or thing you read that relates to faith. Ask questions like, "Is it biblical?" and "Is the scripture they used applied correctly?" I think that we have a great tendency to go to church on sunday morning, listen to the message, and accept it as undeniable truth, without even realizing that we're doing it. I've had many moments where I think, "Yeah, yup, truth..." then an hour later, "Wait a second... but doesn't the Bible say ____ and ____?"

So, in conclusion, the worst possible thing you can do in regards to your faith is not investigate it. Whether you believe or not, ask questions and find answers.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What is humility?

I've heard a lot of sermons and talks and YouTube videos and whatever else about humility. Here's what I often hear (and you probably have to): Humility is putting yourself below others. It's putting yourself lower.
Hold on to that thought.

I've also heard a lot of stuff about pride. The general definition I've heard is: Pride is focusing on yourself. Basically, making you the center of your life.

Now, back to what I said earlier. Who is the main subject in "putting yourself below others"? Others, like it should be? Nope. It's you. That statement is about you. So really, you are focusing on yourself. Which is pride. One term for putting yourself below others (I think) is self-deprecation, or at least thats how i use it. And what I've found is that self-deprecation is no more than a twisted form of pride. Humility is putting others above yourself, not yourself below others. Talking yourself down is not the same thing as lifting others up. There is huge difference here, because the humility Jesus calls us to have is focusing on others; putting others above yourself. Putting yourself below others is trying to put a mask on pride; it's still there, but it's hidden where its much harder to see, and therefore it grows in a much more dangerous way. It festers behind a mask of "humility". 


(This was on my iPod, so it's shorter than it might otherwise be and there are probably some grammar/wording issues).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Romans 3:23/Biblical Context

So this will probably be short. I want to say that this is all my own thinking, so if its incorrect, please tell me. This is just something I've noticed.

I've heard Romans 3:23 a lot. At school (Christian school), at church, sunday school, bible camp, you name it. If you don't know it, it goes "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Or at least, that's how I learned it. How it really goes is ".... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ..." Note the .... Who is all?

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe.There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Biblegateway

So if we look at the surrounding verses, Paul is talking about "righteousness given through faith ... to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned..." I believe that the point of Romans 3:23 is not about how everyone has sinned and we're all terrible like I learned (or what I took in, maybe not what they were trying to teach) in sunday school. While its true that we are all sinners, what Paul is saying is almost the exact opposite. He's saying we've been given righteousness through faith, and we are "justified freely through his grace".

So the point here is don't try and look at one verse out of context. Through those lenses, Romans 3:23 is a pretty bleak, sad, depressing message. Through the message around it, it says, "Yeah, humanity sure has messed up, but salvation is here if you accept it."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First Post Ramble

Well, this is my first post, so I suppose I should say something that introduces myself, like my name, my age, my school, what I like to do, what I plan to blog about (there is no plan), and stuff.
But if you're reading my first post, that's probably because you saw a link to it from me, so you probably already know that stuff, so I probably don't need the standard introductory stuff, so I should probably end this sentence and move on to the next one, because I probably didn't need to say any of this in the first place.
Ok, I rescind what I said earlier about having no plan. Well I don't, but I do. I don't have a plan on when I'll post, or what I'll post, but I'll post what I decide to post several time increments after I could have, should have, and probably meant to have posted it. A lot of my blogs will be my opinions on different aspects of Christian theology, I hope to do some book reviews, and then I'll blog about life and stuff.

So, now I suppose I should actually write something that actually has some meaning and value and will actually help make this blog go to where it ends up being.

Today, I heard a speaker make a common, almost cliche, thing to say among Christians. He asked us if we thought it would be good if Christ returned tomorrow. Many people raised their hands, and I began to, because of course it would be good if He came back tomorrow! Then I thought about it. Sure, it would be good for me if He came back tomorrow. I'd be in Heaven then, and of course that would be amazing. But then I thought about the friends I have who don't know Christ. How sad would it be for them? And then I realized that only a Christian who has done their best to spread the gospel to everyone in their life who doesn't know Christ can be truthful in saying that yes, they would be happy if Christ came back tomorrow. Because if we haven't tried to spread the gospel to everyone in our lives, then we have failed.

Sure, we'd still end up in Heaven. But think about it. Those in our lives who we could have reached but didn't would end up Hell. And if we didn't even try to save them, then it is our fault. (Of course, God still loves us.) I think it should be hard for any Christian to say, "I want Christ to return tomorrow", if they haven't done their best to ensure that when He does return, the people around them join them in Heaven.

Now don't take this the wrong way. I don't want to say, "You're a horrible person and you should be ashamed if you don't try to evangelize every single person in you're life!" Sometimes spreading the gospel means talking to the guy behind the counter at Starbucks, or the person next to you on the bus. Sometimes it means showing love to someone who doesn't feel love where they should, like in their families. Alright, I'm done.

That was way longer than I planned, but I guess my plans don't really matter when God has better ones.