Thoughts from Defend 2018, day 3

Craig Hazen pointed out that while Jesus is a universal religious figure–everyone feels the need to deal with him–only Christianity makes him the central figure.

Gary Canfield taught that it’s okay to fail, that failure can direct us to where/what we need to be and we’re not going through it alone.

Gary Habermas shared with us six facts that NINETY PERCENT or more of academic experts agree on (including atheists):

  1. Jesus lived and died by crucifixion.
  2. The Disciples sincerely believed they had seen and experienced the risen Jesus.
  3. The Resurrection was proclaimed extremely early by the church.
  4. The Disciples were transformed by their experiences.
  5. James the Skeptic (Jesus’ brother) was transformed.
  6. Saul the Accuser became Paul the Apostle and was transformed.

Given those academically indisputable facts, you do a lot! That said, again, most disbelief is centered not in fact, but emotion. People don’t want to believe, for one reason or another, and twist truth to justify their disbelief. (Incidentally, Habermas indicates that over 75% of all scholars believe in an empty tomb.)

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Thoughts from Defend 2018, day 2

  • Lisa Fields helped us understand that where racial tension exists, trust must be established before truth can be heard.
  • “In Mississippi, if you get divorced, you’re still cousins.” Seriously, though, Mississippi has the lowest per capita income in America and the highest per per capita giving.
  • Science affirms the Bible’s credibility and authority. (Jeff Zweerink)
  • Most doubts aren’t factual, but emotional. (Gary Habermas)
  • “Generalizations are the silent killer of effective communication.” Lisa Fields
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Thoughts from Defend 2018, day 1

“If God is all good, and if God is all-powerful, then why does Alabama keep playing in the national title game?” (Rhyne Putnam)

“There has been far too much genuflection at the altar of David Hume.” (Tim McGrew)

And when asked about the possibility of the existence of Batman somewhere in the multiverse, Jeff Zweerink admitted it was, in fact, possible.

We were also reminded that in a public arena wherein Jesus is misrepresented in an astonishing variety of ways, what he said about himself by word and deed was fairly unequivocal: He. Is. Lord.

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For your consideration…

A great thought we ran into today:

“If you were to raise a child and work your fingers to the bone to send that child to college, and the child only occasionally sent you a Christmas card and never gave you the time of day, that would be wrong. It’s wrong because child owes not just deference but love. Now, if there is a God who created us and keeps us alive every minute, then the love we owe God would be infinitely greater. To not love him supremely would be infinitely worse. If you believe that, you begin to see how much we have wronged him. It begins to draw your heart outward toward him in humility and grief.”

 

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God

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Created v. Discovered Purpose.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 12:8)

Everyone has a purpose in life. What’s yours?

For the secularist, this is a question replete with value. As the theoretical masters of their own destiny, they can look at the world and choose anything. There is no higher moral standard than that which they create, no universal dictums by which to be guided, only absolute freedom. Yes, there are societal norms and cultural values that may influence their decisions, but those are ultimately guided by nothing more than groupthink and circumstance; considerations, not mandates. The individual is still at perfect liberty to say, “The purpose of my life is…” and fill in the blank any way they choose. Not a bad way to live, attractive at least, and certainly capable of providing a sense of fulfillment and meaning. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, life is what you want it to be!

For the followers of Jesus on the other hand, the question of purpose is not one to be pondered with infinite possibility. Instead it is discovered with definitive certainty. Our purpose is not chosen, but revealed. It comes from beyond ourselves and is therefore transcendent, and it is this transcendence that makes our answer stronger. What we might lack in liberty we make up for in personal value and determination. Because we allow a Divine hand to guide us, we can be resolved in such a way that we need not fear the world. We are driven by purpose, not the drivers of it. And so, unlike the secularist, we need not avoid the question, “does my life truly matter?”

In a coldly reasoned universe without God, meaning is subjective. Temporary. Created from the ether to which it must inevitably return. What is deemed vital today might well be set aside as valueless tomorrow. Such is the way of the world. The secularist who seeks true meaning must, therefore, avoid thinking too hard about the choice their liberty created. The followers of Jesus, on the other hand, bask in the glow of an eternal Son and know beyond measure that their life is truly valuable.

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Rubruck and the Khan

Late in the year of 1253, William of Rubruck (a Franciscan monk), arrived at the court of Mongke Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan and ruler of the largest empire on earth. After spending more than a year at court and enjoying the opportunity to have perhaps the first true scholarly debate with Muslim and Buddhist clerics he was brought before the Khan to be given a message and sent back to the king of France. Amazingly tolerant of world religions, the Mongol ruler had this to say in his closing remarks about Christianity:

To you God has given the Scriptures and you Christians do not observe them.

OUCH!

Rubruck was an educated man, well-learned, well-traveled and well-versed in the worldviews of his day… and none of that mattered. What mattered was the consistency with which the followers of Jesus lived out their claims to faith, and there we failed. How much has changed in750 years?

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

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Common Notes 4.25.17

Sometimes it just feels like life is out to get you, like you’re just living under siege. There’s a reason for that. According to the Bible, the world is a corrupt place and hates you. Yes, hates you. On top of that, your own body, your flesh, is weak and inclined to be self serving even to the expense of others in general and God in particular. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the devil is real and really does want to do you harm. Besieged? We haven’t even gotten to finals week, relationships or social obligations yet!

The good news is, there IS good news. The apostle Peter in his second letter was writing to a group of people who were besieged themselves. They were being persecuting for the faith in Jesus and had been fed bad information by some false teachers (people who claimed to follow Jesus, but for one reason or another were teaching doctrines contrary to Him). Now THAT is living under siege. And what Peter say is, essentially, there is hope!

He starts off in the beginning of the letter assuring his listeners that their faith in Jesus Christ is as good as his own, that they can trust Christ for salvation and (don’t miss this) that they have everything they need to experience “life and godliness.” Woot! One of the big lies we face when we live life under siege is that maybe we aren’t in the right place spiritually to begin with. And there are certainly times when that is true (as Peter points out later), but if you’re being faithful and obedient to follow after Jesus, you’re doing just fine. See, good news!

After that kind of assurance though, Peter continues in a rather unexpected way. He offers advice on exactly how to experience a little more of that “life and godliness” he mentions at first. In fact, he gives a laundry list of things to work on that all sort of work together to help you walk closer to Jesus.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8

It starts with faith and it ends with love. How beautiful is that?! But the point is that when we take the time to focus on working through these qualities in our lives, we stop living under siege and take the fight back to the enemy, back to the world, back to the flesh that so often beats us down. Stop living under siege, start thriving instead.

 

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