Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The War on Thanksgiving

You may have read a couple of things about some "War on Christmas". Obviously that's nonsense. Christmas seems to start earlier every year, with some people playing Christmas music as soon as the pumpkins have been smashed. And it really, reaally bothers me. Not because I don't like Christmas, or at least what Christmas represents, but because it pushes Thanksgiving out by the wayside. And when people do talk about Thanksgiving, they almost always end up talking about the food they're going to eat. 

Christians will say that they love Christmas so much because of the historical event it is about, but still, to start playing Christmas music well before Thanksgiving relegates Thanksgiving to being nothing more than the threshold of Christmas. And I think this happens for many reasons. 

The most painful one is that I think our culture genuinely does not care about giving thanks anymore. People talk about "being thankful" during this time, but who are they really thanking? If they are not thanking a real, loving God, then who are they thanking? Their ancestors? Evolution? Themselves? Why is it that we cannot even wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start playing Santa music and thinking about the Christmas gifts we are going to give/receive?

The fact is, America today struggles to have even a single day, much less a holiday season, dedicated to giving thanks. And this has spread into Christian culture as well. We can say things like, "I love Christmas because of what it's really about," but the average person who hears you playing Christmas music does not immediately think, "Hey! They love Jesus!" They think, "Ooh! Christmas! Happiness! Presents! Christmas trees! Ohh... family.." Or whatever. 

We can't even wait until Thanksgiving day is over to go shopping and participating in the materialist dream.

I'm not saying Christmas music is wrong, or playing it early is inherently bad. I'm also not saying that the Thanksgiving holiday is rooted in a good historical background.

But the point of Thanksgiving encompasses and then goes beyond the point of Christmas. Christmas is a time to thank God for the life of Jesus --- Thanksgiving is a time to thank God for the air we breathe, the life we lead, the grace we receive. And it is unfortunate in the extreme that both society and Christians have forgotten how to truly give thanks.

Despite whatever good intentions you may have, sadly, playing Christmas music just helps feed our culture of entitlement. Heck, Verizon has now announced ThanksGETTING. I... I just... Ewyuch! 

So please, don't forget. Don't get sucked into Christmas before giving God the time of day to say, "Thank you." 

We already give a solid month to Christmas, materialism, trees, presents, snow, Santa, mistletoe, wreaths, stockings, etc. Can't we give a single day to thanking our Creator?

And finally, maybe this Christmas season, think about what really happened when Christ was born two thousand years ago. It's not all about joy! It's, in fact, not about happiness! ACTUALLY, it's about darkness! It's about a spot of joy in the midst of a broken, dark world! It is about redemption in the midst of pain. It's certainly not about pretending life is good. It's not about pretending everything is happy. It's not about gathering a whole, unbroken family around a table for a meal. It's about the light in the darkness, the sweet in the bitter, the life coming out of a dead world. 

Song of the Day: Thank You, by Hillsong United


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Swearing

I think the use of language is a very interesting topic within society. However, I think people don't understand the point of why some words are taboo.

It's not because a specific arrangement of syllables is inherently evil. The Bible gives no list of words to avoid; it only gives one, which is the Lord's name (more on that later).

I think people get far too caught up in avoiding specific words. They'll use replacements like crap, heck, etc. Yet the point of passages such as Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4* is not to say that some words are not okay, and other words with identical meanings are. The point is the intent of the words. Does it tear someone down? To say, "you piece of crap" is no more morally right than the alternative, because the intent is still to use language to harm someone else.

This is not to say that all swear words are okay in some circumstances. Some simply have such sexual meanings that there really is no acceptable reason to use them. Others reduce someone's humanity by definition, and to call someone made in God's image a female dog is inherently wrong. Also, the word "damn" literally means to condemn to punishment in Hell, so that's generally a no-go.

Personally, I do not particularly care if someone swears out of surprise, or general frustration. However, there is one more thing to consider. (Well, there's a lot more, but whatever.)

Romans 14:13-23, copied from biblegateway.com: "13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."

This passage is speaking about clean and unclean food, but I think it applies to the use of language as well. If, by our words, we cause someone else to stumble in their faith, then we have messed up.This is the best argument against swearing. Although it may not be inherently wrong to use some words, if you use them in the presence of others, and it causes them to stumble, then it is wrong.



*Eph. 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome come out of your mouths, but only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,"
5:4  "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

Song of the Day: Pieces, by Amanda Cook

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Keep Calm and Listen

Pre-note: This got kinda long, so if you want the good stuff, just read the red parts.

In light of the recent horrific events in Paris, I'd like to talk about something that drives me insane. I'm not going to talk much about the actual event; I don't feel like adding to the media frenzy more than to say that what has transpired is awful, and I pray for those who have been affected. I do not pretend to know what they're going through, but I do know that God can turn the bitter into sweet, the winter into spring, the lowly into kings.

Here's the thing. We act as if the extremists are the "people out there," the people out bombing innocents and beheading the faithful.

Yet I would like to posit that America is full of extremism, and it is a cancer that is destroying our nation from the inside.

I do not mean the average American is going out and performing murderous rampages.

I mean that the average American only knows how to type in all caps.

A politician lies?
"X'S ENTIRE LIFE IS BUILT ON A THRONE OF LIES! THE FEW THAT ARE LEFT TO SUPPORT HIM ARE IDIOTS!"

A fossil seems to indicate a species variation?
"EVOLUTION IS ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ACCURATE!"

A company turns out to be cheating people's money?
"ALL COMPANIES ARE THE BANE OF AMERICANS!"

One skeleton is found to be falsified?
"ALL EVOLUTIONARY SCIENTISTS ARE LYING FRAUDS!"

A potato is eaten?
"AMERICANS GROW FAT WHILE THE WORLD STARVES!"

And what does this do? What does this accomplish?? What good could possibly come of this?! You know what this causes? A house divided against itself.

And there are far too few people that have not indulged in this. I certainly have at points. But please, examine yourself.

I go to a private Christian school. So when Obama comes up, it's pretty common to throw him under the bus, as if he's secretly bent on destroying our nation, or is totally inept, or whatever. And while this may be fun to joke about, I sometimes forget that people actually believe this. And are very vocal about it.

And of course no effort is made to figure out if he actually does care about the country, or what he's actually been doing, or if what he has been doing has actually been so terrible. People forget that he's the head of a country, and he's a human. Imagine that. What kind of stupid system lets a human run a country. Yes, I do think he makes mistakes and wrong decisions. But I certainly am not going to make some insane extrapolation that he is the anti-Christ.

People need to stop shouting and start caring.

Because if you actually cared about the nation, you wouldn't waste your valuable time by throwing the president under the bus. You'd focus on things like: 1. Loving your neighbor. 2. Finding common ground between you and the other side. 3. Expanding upon that common ground to establish a connection, in order to further logical, lower-case letter debate. 4. Loving your neighbor. 5. Shutting up and listening. 6. COMPROMISING.

The list goes on. I got tired of numbers.

And of course, there are liberal extremists to. They may say things like, "ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN A GOD IS A WISHFUL IDIOT WHO HAS NEVER OPENED A BOOK!"

The reason I dedicated more to the conservative side is because I understand that most of the people who read this are conservative, and it really bugs me that because they subscribe to a certain political view, they believe they are entitled to never compromise. Compromise is not weakness --- it is an acknowledgement that despite your beliefs, you need to accept some setbacks at the current time so that the country can move forward as a unified nation again. It's called sucking it up and dealing with it so the show can go on.

America is the result of great men with vastly different ideas coming together and realizing that, in order to survive, they may have to give up some things. It does mean you need to throw some issues away, but you do have to let them sit for a while. It happened in 1610, it happened in 1787, it happened in 1819, it happened during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam... it goes on. I'm not saying be weak-willed. There are some issues where Christians definitely need to stand strong. But please...

My fellow Americans, please, stop the screaming.

I fervently pray that someone, from either end of the political spectrum, has the guts to sacrifice some of what they desire so that our States can be United. But it won't start with a presidential candidate. It has to start with you --- the everyday American. Try to understand what the other side is saying, before even thinking about what you might say in return.

Honestly, I could write a lot more about this, and how freaking angry it makes me that people on both sides don't make attempts to find any sort of common ground, or try at all to actually interpret where others are coming from. It sickens me. Bile rises in my throat when I read some of the things people say out of a place of complete ignorance.

Song of the Day: City of Hope, by Amanda Cook




Thursday, November 12, 2015

Quotable Quotes and Notable Notes

So I just have a few quotes rolling around that I want to spew out. Some are mine, most are not. If they are mine, they won't be cited. By no means do I intend to elevate myself to the level of these great writers --- that's obviously laughable. I just don't feel like formulating real thoughts and cohesive paragraphs and such.

"If we have the potential to oppress or slay millions, it is because we also have the potential to liberate and love millions." - Gregory Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic

I'm sure glad Americans no longer support the destruction of millions of lives, and the removal of a lifetime of choices from a group of people they consider to be less than human.

*"Between stimulus and response is our greatest power -- the freedom to choose." - Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me." - Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Don't make the gay men straight. Show the dead men life. (From my blog on homosexuality).

"God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." - C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find no such case." Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (More: search irreducible complexity)

"Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship

And the song! Going to do two because I forgot the last couple posts. 1 high energy, 1 super chill.

Cast My Cares, Finding Favour:



Bitter/Sweet, Amanda Cook:




Monday, November 2, 2015

I Hate Poetry; That Being Said, Have This

Acquainted with the Light

Ryken Kreps

A retelling of Frost's "Acquainted with the Night"

I have been one acquainted with the Light.
I have walked out in trust--- and back in trust.
I have outwalked the bleakest sinful night.

I have looked forwards to my God, the Just.
I have passed by the devil on his beat
And dropped my eyes, righteously in disgust.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When finally I hear my Father sing
A loving song my heart shall e'er repeat.

So that He may lift me on Eagle's wing;
And further still to an unearthly height,
Finally, up to Heaven He will bring

My spirit, when the time is surely right.
I have been one acquainted with the Light.

Echoes of Him

Ryken Kreps

An original

The knowledge of the shepherd
Is a wondrous thing
The love of the man
As he gives her the ring

The wisdom of the scholar
When he studies the Word
The persistence of the cowboy
As he gathers the herd

The peace of the martyr
In the presence of persecution
The mercy of the king
Withholding retribution

The compassion of the mother
When the child stumbles
The courage of the mariner
When the storm clouds rumble

The forgiveness of the prisoner
Robbed of a full-lived life
The faithfulness of the husband
To the adulterous wife

All these things
Which we admire
Just echoes of Him
Made by a faithful choir



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Oh, of Course it Had to Be Women

One interesting tidbit about the resurrection is that in all four gospels, it was women who discovered the empty tomb of Jesus. I bring this up for a similar reason as my blood post. If someone were to make up this story, would they use women to discover the most important part of the entire Bible?

No, no they wouldn't. And yet Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 all write that some group of women was involved in the discovery of the tomb. John says Mary Magdalene, Mark says Mary/Mary/Salome, Luke says a group of women, and Matthew says Mary/Mary. Is that a contradiction? No. It has to do with who wrote what how, who told who which, and who went where why. Okay.

Now, in 2015, the courts basically trust the testimony of either gender.

Was that the case in 33 A.D. (or in the following half-century when the gospels were written)?

No, no it wasn't.

What a woman witnessed did not matter in legal issues. Men dealt with law, and women's role was largely within the house (although they were greatly respected as keepers of the home and of religious life). They were not even approached by respectable Jewish men in the street.

So, if someone were to fake a resurrection story, would they say that women discovered an empty tomb? No. That would be like me saying I saw a yellow-bellied sapsucker floating above a coniferous pine tree during my daily constitutional --- I have no idea what a yellow-bellied sapsucker looks like, or if it's even real, and I certainly don't know if pine trees are coniferous, and I definitely don't know if a yellow-bellied sapsucker would be caught dead floating above a coniferous pine. Probably, if it was shot.

Anyways, they weren't trusted. If I were to make up a story about a resurrection, I'd say, "The esteemed doctor, who also worked as a detective and had the eyesight of a hawk, witnessed the empty tomb, recorded the scene in great detail on the spot, and carefully delivered the message to me, making sure there was no error." I definitely wouldn't say, "Yeah, a couple of women told me that Jesus came back to life." I would only say that if I was absolutely sure they were speaking the truth and I was willing to die for the heresy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hey, Speaking of Blood

Hey, if you want, you can play the song of the day while reading the post! That way its not like, "Aww... I just read this, now he wants me to listen a song? Man..."

Let's talk about blood!

Okay, here's a word I'm sure you've all heard of. I mean, its practically common knowledge at this point. Hematidrosis. You know that one, right?

Hematidrosis is an extremely rare medical condition --- in fact, spell-check is currently telling me it's not a word. It is, though (check http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8982961) if you don't believe me.

It is an extremely rare condition that is characterized by sweating blood, or sweat tinged with red blood cells. It is caused by acute fear and intense mental contemplation. The kind of things someone may feel if they were, say, going to be ripped apart with a whip then hung on a cross.

Luke 22:44 takes place on the Mount of Olives, just before the betrayal, and Jesus is praying earnestly, because he knows what is about to take place. It reads: "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."

This detail is only found in Luke. I suspect this is because Luke was a physician, and he would have been particularly intrigued by this phenomenon. There is almost no chance whatsoever than he would have seen this happen before; the page I linked above says "Hematidrosis is an extremely rare clinical phenomenon with only few instances reported to have occurred within the twentieth century." The likelihood that someone would have made up that detail is minute; it would have been regarded as ridiculous... unless someone actually saw it happen.

Now, more blood! (Well, this time the water is important.)

Okay, lets say I pierce the side of a dead guy with a spear. What kind of things do you expect to come out.

Blood, maybe some guts, right? If you're in the medical field, you may know more, but hey, blood and guts sounds about right. If I were to make up a story about a guy getting stabbed in the side after he was dead, I'd say blood and guts spewed out.

And yet, in John 19:34, he writes, "Instead [of breaking his legs], one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water." Now, this is not as rare as hematidrosis, but it isn't something that you would just make up. John certainly wouldn't have had extensive knowledge about why stabbing a dead guy with a spear would bring out blood and water.

(side note: another reason this passage is important is because it fulfills a prophecy written hundreds of years earlier, one that Jesus could not possibly have control of)

The water is because of a thing called plueral effusion (or possibly pericardial effusion). Plueral effusion is a build-up of fluid around the lungs, and pericardial effusion is a build up of fluid around the heart. This build up can be caused by several different factors present leading up to Jesus' death (you can google them if you wish, this is getting a bit long for my taste). Basically, fluid can build up around the lungs and heart under certain conditions.

So fluid built up around Jesus' lungs and heart, and then the soldier pierced his side (likely in the heart area). The fluid would have looked like water to the average observer, and it would have been accompanied by blood from the heart. And so, the only reason someone would write "blood and water" would be if they actually saw blood and water flow out of Jesus' side.

Now, to the overall point of this post. These little details are just two of the details that can help prove that what is attested to in the Gospels was actually witnessed, and that the authors did not make up the things they wrote about Jesus' life. It helps prove that the Gospels are an eyewitness account, and not, as some would say, the product of rumor-mongering and storytelling.

WOOHOO SCIENCE!

Song of the Day: At the Cross (Love Ran Red) by Chris Tomlin




Sunday, October 11, 2015

Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Some people pose the idea that "Jesus never claimed to be God."
Yeah, and I never claimed my name was Ryken.

Check out John 10:28-33, from BibleGateway.com

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c];no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
1st, Jesus claims to give eternal life. Then, He says that God is His father. THEN He goes so far as to say, "I and the Father are one." He's outright saying He is one with God. And the Pharisees (with whom he is speaking) clearly acknowledge this.
Jesus' claims to be divine were the reason He was crucified. He was killed for claiming that He was the Son of God.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life."
"I am the vine"
"I am the gate"
"I am the the light of the world"
"Before Abraham was born, I am"
In 1st century Jewish culture, the only people who would say things like that are people who would be insane enough to be killed for blasphemy in order to get some attention, those that are actually mentally deluded, or those that are actually God. There was no misconception about what Jesus was claiming to be. Your average rabbi didn't go around saying, "Before Abraham was born, I am". That's a sign of either lunacy or Lordship.

Song of the Day: This Is What You Do - Bethel Music

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Space/Time Bubble

Ok, so this is basically just a mental activity for me. It probably won't make sense to you, and it certainly isn't supposed to be absolute truth. That's ok.

If you want to go ahead and read this nonsense anyways, that's great!

So here's the thing. I feel like people are really bad at explaining how God is "outside of time". And that makes sense. It's like Donald Miller says in Blue Like Jazz: "I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me".

Here's how I put it.

Space and time are a bubble. So you have this bubble, which is all of the universe, as well as all of the events in the universe (ok, I already lost myself). It's all one big bubbly mess. Picture a bubble floating through the air --- that's space and time. Not just space, but space and time. At one end of the bubble, you have the Andromeda galaxy just beginning to form, while in the middle, I'm writing this blog.

God is outside of this bubble, looking in, seeing all that happens at once, as the bubble floats around. Yet He is the bubble, and is inside the bubble, directly affecting the events within.

If He acts upon the bubble, the effects will be felt at a certain point in space and time. Yet to Him, that space/time is just a bubble, and He can act on any part of it that He wishes. He is bound bound by the restrictions that bind those inside the bubble.

He can prod at one end of the bubble, causing Isaiah to prophesy about Jesus, while simultaneously watching me doing my thing down at the bottom left of the bubble. We inside the bubble perceives these actions happen at a specific time in the history of our bubble, but God operates outside of that time.

You get what I'm saying? No? Me neither. Ah well.

There's not really a greater 'message' in this post, I'm just doing my best to explain how I believe God interacts with space and time.

Also, remember this is all my random thoughts. It's most definitely not the way God views the situation, it's just a way for me to understand it, and maybe hopefully explain it a bit to you.

TL;DR

Space/time is a bubble. God is around the bubble, is the bubble, is within the bubble, and acts upon the bubble as He desires.

DOUBLE SONG OF THE DAY WOOHOO CAUSE I FORGOT TO PUT ONE ON "SMART TALK" YEAAAAAAAH!!!! DOUBLE THE SONGS!!!

First: Come as You Are, by David Crowder

Secondly, a song that is not intended for congregational worship, but one that is much more musically intricate: When Death Dies, by Gungor

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Smart Talk

Define smart.

Do it, in your head. Define smart.

Nope, you're wrong, try again.

Just kidding.

I'd say, in this day and age, it's nearly impossible to define smart in a way that is reasonable, and actually includes everyone who one might consider smart.

I really don't like the word smart anymore. There are so many different ways to be smart: academically smart, street smart, common sense, socially smart... the list goes on. Many people consider me smart, but they say that because I do the school thing good. Often times, I lack the thing people call "common sense". Also, I tend to get confused in social situations. Heck, I pretty much fake my way through most conversations so it looks like I have some idea what I'm talking about (that works in school too). So yes, I'm "smart," but am I really smart?

I'd say the way smart applies to me is that I learn quite quickly. Tell me some fact/lesson once, and I'll remember it long enough to answer C on the test. I can read a chapter once, and I'll get 10/10 on the quiz. But throw me into a conversation with a girl I like?

"Ehh.. Hey. Erm.. So hows it- hows it goin? How are the school stuffs?" (Okay that's not me anymore I can do the words thing)

So I'd say I'm smart because I learn quickly and remember stuff easily, not necessarily because I know a lot or I try hard. I 

Other people are smart because they study a ton. They take notes, they review, they spend hours making sure they know information. These are the people I think are actually smart; they may not learn extremely quickly, but they have the diligence required to succeed.

Other people are people smart. Basically, they know what the heck to do when they interact with other humans. I think we all get this.

Other people have sense. They know if doing something would be stupid.

So there are clearly some different categories, and I feel like it would be helpful if people said what they meant more often. A lot of people get mad about the ACT and such because they think it doesn't really test how smart someone is. Well, that is true. And also false, in a sense. 

So, here are my terms.

Knowledgeable: Knowing a lot of things

Wise: Applying known information, however much that is, in a beneficial (and Biblical) manner

*Smart: To be able to learn quickly

 *Intelligent:  To know the best way to learn information (e.g. people who study)

Social aptitude: People who know how to connect to others

Sensibility: People who can discern whether doing something is stupid or not.

Creative: People that can come up with ideas, such as artists

And the last one I can think of right now, and the one I think is clearly the most important

Witty: People who can make jokes at a moments notice within a conversation, especially using word tricks



Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Short Thoughts on Gay Marriage

Ok. Short one today.

Look, Christians, if you're trying to get people to not be gay --- stop.

It's pointless, has no eternal value, does not show love, and does not help the Kingdom.

Has anyone ever been saved because they were gay, and then one day, they chose not to be?

No, they were saved because they were dead, and one day, Christ gave them life.

Don't confuse the two.

Telling a gay person they are wrong, living a life of sin, and are hell bound, will not help them. Telling a  gay person they are loved, Christ died for them, and they are desired in heaven --- that's the message of the gospel. Stopping them from marrying will not save them any more than stopping a robbery saves a thief. EVERYONE lives a life of sin, and if homosexuals were not homosexuals, they would be in the exact same situation.

Let's say the bible condones homosexuality (just for the sake of argument). Does that change the eternal status of the homosexual? Nope. They still have other issues. So please, Christians, don't try and make the gay man straight. Bring the dead man to life.

All are fallen; all need Christ. All are loved. The greatest thing any person can achieve is to let Christ show His love through them, and through that love bring others into the Kingdom.

Song of the Day:
The Fall by Gungor


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Moral Compass

Disclaimer: There are shocking, horrific statements made in this post. I do not, I repeat, I DO NOT believe that this is the way the world works. I am pointing out how people --- who do not believe in a God or greater force --- should *logically* understand the world, yet do not.

Alright, so here's one of my biggest problems with evolution. Not the facts, not the research, I don't really care about the fossil record, or how old the earth is, or all that.

My problem is, what about morality?

Most people agree that things such as murder and rape are wrong. Yet, why are they wrong?

Here's the thing: if there is no God, and we are simply highly evolved meat-sacks with a bunch of chemicals in our brains, then those things aren't wrong.

And to deny that is to completely undermine all other reasonable arguments you could make, because it shows that you do not follow the logic of your own worldview. Because if evolution and nature are the only realities, then the only morality is the survival of the self and the species. And murder, on a non-global scale, will not affect the survival of the species. There are 7 billion people, and ending the life of one highly evolved piece of meat and chemicals doesn't matter.

People say that everyone has a "moral compass". I agree. However, if there is no God, then where the heck did it come from. Natural selection cannot explain morality; in fact, survival of the fittest would indicate that whoever is the strongest survives, and to help someone else (for instance, if neanderthals were to help elderly members of their community) would weaken yourself. Those who kept all resources for themselves and, if need be, killed off their competition would survive. Yet, that is not how we have supposedly evolved.

Almost everyone would agree that helping the elderly is a good thing. Almost everyone agrees that the people in need should somehow get food. Yet, we couldn't have evolved that way. It defies logic. Had early neanderthals done such thing, they wouldn't have been as likely to survive, therefore, they would have evolved in such a way as to make those things not happen (or "seem wrong" to our brain chemicals). Yet, here we are today. If evolution is true, then you cannot logically argue for morality beyond the survival of the self and species, and helping the elderly definitely doesn't help the species survive. The only reason to do such a thing would be for whatever pleasurable chemicals it released in your brain, as a purely biological reaction to the surrounding environment.

Now, please keep in mind for this next section (and for the whole preceding post as well) that I do not hold these views. These statements are what someone who believes purely in evolution should logically say (although 99% of them will not say these things, and would probably hate me if they read this).

Now, from the perspective of someone who believes there is no God, and that evolution is the only reality, what Hitler did was not wrong.

The species survived. Many, many people died horrific deaths, but, if you think about it, they are just products of evolution, and nothing can actually matter anyways, because there is no great "purpose" in the world. WWII? The Crusades? Whatever. A few homo-sapiens die. Its just nature. Who gives a crap. Do what you want, if it pleases you. Humans are not special.

IMPORTANT POINT THAT SHOULD BE EARLIER BUT IS HERE INSTEAD CAUSE I'M A.D.D OR SOMETHING AND I RAMBLED THEN FORGOT ABOUT IT: There can be no judgement of others behavior, since everyone is acting merely on neurons firing and chemicals reacting in their brains. Who is to say that what Hitler's brain chemicals made him do is any worse or better than what you're brain chemicals make you do? Decisions are simply products of electro-chemical responses to environmental stimuli. Hitler's brain told him to kill a bunch of people. Yours tells you not to. You both evolved from the same base ancestor, and are quite close in the evolutionary tree. What can possibly explain such differences in actions?

I just don't get it. Rambling over.

Finally: I would like to say that I do respect many evolutionists/atheists very much. I am simply frustrated, because they frequently attack the rationale of Christians, yet rarely thoroughly examine their own worldview.

Song for the day: "Hey Devil" by tobyMac. It speaks about resisting the devil, which is a message we can all hear.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated

So this is sort of addressing a verse I forgot to mention in my last post. Romans 9:13 (which is based on Malachi 2:2-4) says, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." This seems to show that God, at the very least, hated one person --- Esau. That would seem to contradict the idea that God loves everyone.

What does the verse really mean?

Well, look at the stories of Jacob and Esau. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew (an act that I'm sure did not please God). Then later, Jacob basically stole Isaac's blessing from Esau, and Isaac blessed Jacob, saying "May nations serve you, and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you." As you can imagine, Esau wasn't too happy. He demanded a blessing from Isaac, but all he got was "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword, and you will serve your brother." (Texts taken from Genesis 27).

Ouch.

Yeah, Esau was pretty ticked.

Later, Esau purposefully married a Canaanite woman, and many of his descendants were part of nations such as the Hittites, Hivites, and Canaanites. Not exactly God's best buddies. Jacob, on the other hand, eventually became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, because God honored Isaac's blessing to Jacob.

Which brings me to the point. In the old Testament, the only way to "win God's approval" (or at least have a chance) was by following his commandments.  Otherwise, because He is a Just God, His wrath would be upon you, since Jesus had not yet died for the sins of the world. Esau distanced himself from God's chosen people, Abraham/Isaac/Jacob's descendants, and became a Canaanite instead. It makes sense that God would say "Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated."

One has to remember that love, at least in this instance, is a verb. The greek word is  ἠγάπησα, which is also used in the New Testament when Jesus says, "Love one another as I have loved you." We can clearly see how God's loved played out in Jacob's life; he did, after all, become one of the patriarchs of the Tribes of Israel. The reason is because of Jacob's choice

The Greek word here for hate is ἐμίσησα. Now, this is a much less common word, and since I obviously do not know Greek, it was hard to find a good translation that actually explained what "hated" meant. From what I gathered, the gist of it is, "loved less". It is only used to compare one person to another; to say, "I loved x less than y." That is how it's used here. And clearly, looking at the lives of Jacob and Esau, we can see how the wrath of God played out in Esau's life/descendants, and how Jacob was blessed because of Isaac's faith and blessing. Therefore, it is logical to say that God loved (as a verb) Esau less than Jacob. This does not mean that God hated (emotionally, as we think of it) Esau, it means that the wrath of God (fully deserved) played out in Esau's life.

Well, that's as best as I can explain it. This is all purely my thoughts (well, except for the greek, which is from Bible gateway and a couple Greek concordances), so you can probably search and find people who have a much better description of it.

And I've just decided that I'll include a song, somehow, in each post.
Today it's "Create in Me" by Rend Collective.
It has nothing to do with the rest of the post, but it's a great song.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Does God Love Everyone? Yes!

Last week, at an awesome camp called Worldview Academy, I met a Christian --- specifically, a Calvinist --- who believed that God does not love everyone. In light of that, I decided to write this post, so that I could make it clear that yes, God does love everyone, and that is nearly undeniable.

First, lets start with what may be the most famous passage in the Bible. John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." And to continue on, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

The section in bold indicates God's love for all the world. However, my friend that I met this week believed that the "world" in John 3:16 did not include the entire world, and only referred to God's kingdom. That is why I pointed out the section in italics; it uses the same statement, "the world," but this time it specifies that there are people who love darkness in this world. That indicates that within the world the verse is talking about, there are both believers and unbelievers. Therefore, God loves both the unbeliever and the believer, aka everyone.

Now, I should make it clear that the reason my friend did not believe God loves everyone is that he believes Christ only died for some people's sins. This is directly refuted by 1 John 2:2 "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." Also, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

Two final verses dealing with the nature of God and his love are 1 John 3:16, 4:8, and 4:16.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for use. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."

God is love.

An excellent song by Gungor, entitled "God is Not a White Man", which speaks about God's love:



*One final note: one huge reason people struggle with the idea that God loves everyone is the fact that suffering, well, exists. I will try to cover that later (and maybe I did once before? I don't remember). It is a huge topic, and I certainly will not be able to explain it better than, say, C.S. Lewis does in The Problem of Pain. So if you are intersted, search around.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

You Are There - Poem

"You Are There"
Ryken Kreps

In the darkness
In the shadow
In the weakness
In the doubt

In the toil
In the hardship
In the work
In the drought

In the suffering
In the pain
In the anger
In the shame

In the joy
In the sorrow
In the good times
In the bad

In the rejoicing
In the mourning
In the waiting
In the dread

In the dirt
In the sky
In the heavens
In the deep

In the unrelenting tide of history
In the unforgiving path of life
In the complex confusion of community
In the simple serenity of solitude

In the greenest green of nature
In the grayest gray of city
In the bluest blue of ocean
In the blackest black of night

God, you are there.
You are there.