Wednesday, November 02, 2005

FishFoodBooks in the News!

Hey! Did you catch this story? FishFoodBooks and the great Spread The Word Bookstore Opportunity have been all over the web! Just click here or on the above headline and see what they said! By the way, if you want to get in on this great business, call me now (770-855-7708), because the cost is going to almost DOUBLE in less than 30 days! They announced it last night: Spread The Word is adding so many enhancements to the bookstore--downloadable music, customized theme-oriented templates, and much much more--that the value is going to increase dramatically! Unfortunately, that means the cost is going up too! It will still be the greatest value on the internet as far as a profitable, easy to use, tech-filled e-busieness goes; but the price will rise from $319 to $580 on December 1. The GOOD NEWS is that anyone who gets in before December 1 will receive all the upgrades without an additional cost! If you were ever thinking about getting your own online Christian bookstore, DON'T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE! Let us use our dime and call you at your convenience. Just Click Here and tell me when and where to call you. I will call you right back or ask one of my assistants, the leaders in this business, to call and answer any questions you may have.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Why does God Allow These Things?

Question: “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" Answer: Why do bad things happen to good people? That is one of the difficult questions in all of theology. God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc. Why should we human beings (not eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent) expect to be able to fully understand God’s ways? The book of Job deals with this issue. God had allowed Satan to do everything he wanted to Job except kill him. What was Job’s reaction? “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). Job didn’t understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew that God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him. Ultimately, that should be our reaction as well. God is good, just, loving, and merciful. Often things happen to us that we simply cannot understand. However, instead of doubting God's goodness, our reaction should be to trust Him. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). Perhaps a better question is, "Why do good things happen to bad people?" God is holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). Human beings are sinful (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Do you want to know how God views humanity? “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). Every human being on this planet deserves to be thrown into hell at this very moment. Every second we spend alive is only by the grace of God. Even the most terrible misery we could experience on this planet is merciful compared to what we deserve, eternal hell in the lake of fire. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Despite the evil, wicked, sinful nature of the people of this world, God still loved us. He loved us enough to die to take the penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23). All we have to do is believe in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 10:9) in order to be forgiven and promised a home in heaven (Romans 8:1). What we deserve = hell. What we are given = eternal life in heaven if we would just believe. It has been said, this world is the only hell believers will ever experience, and this world is the only heaven unbelievers will ever experience. The next time we ask the question, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”, maybe we should be asking, “Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?" Suggested Resource: Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey Article Source: GotQuestions.Org

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Fisherman on Free Will

Question: Dr. K, I was always taught, by multiple Christian denominations, that God created man with free will. Man is free to do with life as he wants. So how then can Christians say people who reject Christ will eventually be sent to the lake of fire? I thought man was free not to choose Christ? If God is going to eventually punish us for not doing things his way then how FREE is our choice? God seems to be saying, "do it my way or else"! Answer: You are correct, but you are not right! What I mean is that your facts are right, but your perspective on them seems to be a bit distorted. Think for a moment what you are talking about when you speak of "rejecting Christ." To "reject Christ" does not merely mean that you choose a "non-evangelical lifestyle" for yourself. It is much more than the rejection of a set of beliefs or behaviors. It is not simply deciding where you will spend your Sundays, whose company you will keep, or with what political party you will register. Let's step back and put this decision to accept or reject Christ in its larger context. This is a decision that is made by people God created in a world also created by Him. Now you know that God created the world to be a moral place--in other words, we live in a universe where some things are right and some things are wrong. I'm sure you recognize that and are glad that this is the case, for even your question is a complaint that there may be something "unfair" (wrong) about the way things are run. Certainly if there is a God, we would want Him to be a moral God; and if He is moral, He will want His universe to be ruled by moral law. But for law to have any effect, there must be justice, and for justice to have teeth there must be judgment. That is why we have policemen, judges, and jails. That is also why there is a judgment day and a "lake of fire" (Revelation 20.10-15). We are glad that there are law enforcers in this life, because they keep us safe and keep things fair and just; and most of us, after all, can be "good enough" to stay out of jail! Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to eternal justice and the kind of "goodness" God demands. You see, you and I were born into a situation that was hopeless. When our first parents sinned, they brought death and damnation to the race (Genesis 2.17; Romans 5.12). God is holy and demands holiness from us (1 Peter 1.16), but we can never be good enough to merit eternal life. So here we are on a moving sidewalk headed to a Hell (that a moral universe must have) and we are helpless to save ourselves. We cannot get off the conveyer belt that is taking us ever closer to our doom! Enter the Hero--the Savior who comes from Heaven to take our death and Hell and to give us His Life and Righteousness (2 Corinthians 5.21). At unfathomable cost, He pays the penalty that we deserve. He dies and suffers the wrath of God upon the cross for you and me. He did not have to do that, but that's how much He loves us (Romans 5.8). Now He comes to us and offers us another chance. He opens the handrail and shows us a way off of the conveyer belt. "Follow Me," He says, "and I will take you Home." "Beat it!" we say to Him. "I'm doing fine on this sidewalk!" "I know what you have done for me, and I see the signs telling me where this belt is going; but I don't want to go with You; so get lost!" Can you imagine responding in such a way? That is "rejecting Christ." You ask, "If God is going to eventually punish us for not doing things his way then how FREE is our choice?" But it is not a matter of punishment being some future decision contingent on a whim of God--that consequence was settled from the beginning of creation, and it is a moral necessity in a moral universe (the only kind of universe a Moral God could create). You are still free to do as you will, you have the POWER to reject the One Who loves and wants to save you. But you do not have the RIGHT to do so (such a wicked response cannot be termed a "right"). If, as a cosmic sociopath, you look into the face of Jesus and say "Leave me alone," then . . . He will. But don't forget where He is leaving you--on a moving sidewalk that will end abruptly in a place that neither you nor Jesus ever wanted you to go. C. S. Lewis once said that Heaven is populated by those who said to God, "Not my will, but thine"; Hell is populated by those to whom God said, "O.K. have it your way." I pray you will say the former. When you do, you will find that His Will is what you would have willed for yourself anyway if only you had known how fulfilling it is to do His will! After all, a Moral God's intent is the highest happiness of His creation.

The Power of Focus

Something happened at our house this summer that taught me a powerful lesson on the power of focus. My two youngest sons, Joshua (L) and Jason (R), each set their minds on something and before the summer was over it was theirs! Josh, a business major at the University of Georgia, was intent on having an internship with a major corporation. He made the grades at school (he has kept a 4.0 GPA through his first 3 years), went to all the interviews, took all the recommended steps, and spent the summer in Cincinatti working in the world headquarters of Proctor & Gamble. He came home last week with a very lucrative job offer from that company. (He's not sure if he will accept it, because he is focusing now on something even bigger!) Jason, a freshman at Georgia College and a real "outdoorsman," set his mind on paying cash for a new pickup truck. He found a job at a sporting goods store last spring, began living a spartan-like life and banking every spare penny. Last week I drove him up to Winston-Salem, NC, and we picked up his new F-150--all paid for! These two events got me thinking about the power of focus. One reason we seem to get so little accomplished in our days is because we fail to focus on one thing at a time. We allow ourselves to get pulled in so many directions that we barely get started on one thing before our attention is drawn to another. If we are going to make an impact in our life, we must realize that we cannot do everything. Therefore, we should focus on those things that deserve the place of priorities in our life: God, family, ministry, etc. David wrote, "One thing have I desired of the LORD; that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple" (Psalm 27.4). The great apostle echoed those sentiments when he said, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3.13-14). If we desired and did only one thing at a time, how much we could accomplish! "Only one life; 'twill soon be past; Only what's done for Christ will last!" How many marriages could be saved if the husband and wife would make that the top priority of their life under God! A famous pastor told the public that he was going to make his troubled marriage his first priority, but then he refused to step down from his giant church, his worldwide TV ministry, and his other activities. Needless to say, the marriage disintegrated and divorce ensued. That would not have happened if he had fawned over his wife like the princess he once thought she was. But how could he do that when he was at the command of such a mega-ministry? He could not focus on his marriage while steering that ship! His lack of focus destroyed his marriage. I have set many friends up in a homebased business, but relatively few of them ever make a go of it. Why? It's not because you can't make a living that way. It's not because my associates and I have not offered help. It's because of lack of focus. You cannot set up a website and expect people to just stumble upon it and empty their pocketbooks. You must have a disciplined, systematic routine to market your site and your services. You have to allow time and opportunity for people to get to know you. You have to take advantage of the help that your business-building friends offer; in other words, you have to focus. The priorities of the bondslave are a good model for us: "I love my Master, my wife, my children; I will not go free" (Exodus 21.5). If we can keep our relationships with God, our spouse, and our children straight (and in that order), then we have accomplished a great deal. Working from home gives us an unparalleled advantage in that regard, but only if we also focus on the business that makes staying home possible. Oh, the miraculous power of focus! Use it and achieve!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Answering Atheism (Pt. 1)

There is an organization in Los Angeles called Atheists United (AU). I recently happened upon their website and an article entitled “Some Questions About Your Belief.” In it, they pose a number of questions, 37 to be exact, about belief in God. Although AU says that the questions posed in this article “should not be viewed as a challenge to any particular religion,” they all, oddly enough, pertain to one faith in particular: Mine! Therefore, I would like to offer some short answers to the questions they have posed. I trust they are sincerely searching for the truth about these matters (surely they know how important such things are), so maybe this will help. At any rate, it may help you to have something to say if you are ever caught off guard by questions like these: 1) How would you define God, and why are you so convinced that there is one? God is the transcendent, personal Creator of the universe. I am convinced that He exists because of: (1) the existence and attributes of the world (i.e., creation requires a Creator, design requires a Designer), (2) the witness of our moral nature (the innate sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice—moral law requires a Law Giver & justice requires a Judge), (3) the eyewitness accounts of miraculous acts in the history of Israel and the church, (4) the evidence of the fulfilled prophecies and teachings of the Bible, (5) the testimony of Jesus Christ as validated by his resurrection from the dead, (6) the testimony of answered prayer, and (7) my personal relationship with Him and the testimony of millions of others who say they have met Him too! For an easy to read introduction to the evidences for God's existence, I recommend a new book that my friend Rob Bowman and Ken Boa co-authored: 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists. In the meantime, see my short article here. 2) If everything needs a creator, then who or what created God? Who says everything needs a creator? Only things that have the attributes of having been caused must have a source of origin outside themselves. This would include our cosmos, as even atheistic, naturalistic scientists must recognize when they speak of the “big bang” beginning of the universe. The objection you have voiced is a common misunderstanding of what is called the cosmological argument. There are excellent chapters on this argument in J. P. Moreland's book Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity and William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Check them out so that you are not caught in the embarrassing position of objecting to things that nobody is saying in the first place. 3) How can something that cannot be described be said to exist? God can be described. He is a Being who has the capacity to communicate with us, who is perfect in knowledge, power, love, and justice. If God exceeds our capacity of complete or comprehensive description, that is proof of our limitations, not of His nonexistence. A helpful discussion of the use of language to speak about God may be found in Norman L. Geisler and Winfried Corduan's book Philosophy of Religion. The attributes of God that we use to describe Him are exquisitely detailed by J. I. Packer in Knowing God and by A. W. Tozer in Knowledge of the Holy. 4) Since there are countless religions in the world today claiming to be the one true religion, why do you think yours is truer than theirs? Why do you say that there are “countless religions” in the world claiming to be "the one true religion"? Almost all religions teach that there are many paths to the divine. The only major world religions claiming to be the “one true religion” these days are Christianity and Islam. There is certainly nothing irrational about claiming that one religion is true and others are false or at least false in some respects. Atheists United break no laws of logic simply by claiming that their view of God (i.e., he does not exist) is true and mine is not. As to why I think Christianity is the true religion, I base that claim on the evidence that supports the central and unique truth claims of Christianity. This evidence includes the proofs that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus was truly sent from God and a Witness to the Truth of these teachings. The issues of religious pluralism, tolerance, and truth are important ones in our society today. I believe these terms have been through some dangerous redefining and that we need to return to their original meanings if we are to have any hope of a meaningful discussion about truth. As an introduction to this issue, I recommend Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, by Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Koukl. 5) Can more than one of these religions be right? In areas that do not contradict and are not mutually exclusive, they can all be correct. If they claim to be “the only true religion,” they can all be wrong, but only one could be right. There are substantial reasons to believe that Christianity is right when it claims that Jesus is the Only Way. 6) If you feel in your heart that your religion is the right one, how do you answer those of other faiths who claim the same thing? First, I don't base my truth-claims about Christianity on what I “feel in my heart.” What I feel in my heart is a result of what I have come to believe in my head, based on evidence that has persuaded me of the truth of Christianity. What would I say to others who can only tell me “I feel in my heart that my religion is right”? I would say, “Grow up! Children live by their emotions, but adults think.” Emotions are great; I would not give two cents for a religion that did not touch the heart, but emotions are not the foundation. Someone has wisely said, “Every emotion should be the son of a thought and the father of an action.” The teachings of Christianity stir my emotions because I am persuaded that they are true; and if they are true, they are the most joyful good tidings ever brought to man! Of course if they are not true, they are pointless, and powerless to stir the emotions of a thinking person. For a good discussion about the role of emotions, read Emotions: Can You Trust Them? by James Dobson. 7) How do you settle the debate and find out which of these religions, if any, is the right one? You settle the debate by examining whatever evidences the various religions offer for their central or crucial truth claims. Two good starting places would be World Religions and Cults 101, by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz and Unshakable Foundations, by Geisler and Bocchino. 8) Why does God allow all these false religions to exist? Thanks for not saying He caused them to exist. God hates all false religions (because of the eternal ruin they do to their victims), but He allows them to exist because He has created us with the capacity to make choices, including bad choices. He has also given us the ability to understand how important this decision is and to sort out the evidence and make the right choice if we really have the desire to do so. Jesus told the Jews of His day that if anyone really wanted to do the will of God, he or she would know what teachings were true (John 7.17). I suspect most atheists have not been able to find God for the same reason that most burglars cannot find a policeman! If you would like a good introductory discussion on the thorny question of free will, my recommendation is Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. My personal viewpoint is represented by Norm Geisler in Chosen but Free. 9) Is the bloody history of Christianity consistent with what is supposed to be a religion of love, or does it simply illustrate the consequences of abandoning reason for faith? Nice try, but are you really sincere? An old debater’s trick, your question assumes that only two possibilities exist, both of which are harmful to the view you are seeking to disprove. By the way, this is a pretty pointed question in light of your statement that these “should not be viewed as a challenge to any particular religion.” That aside, the answer to your question as stated is “Neither.” When Christian individuals and institutions have shed innocent people's blood, they have acted inconsistently with the principles of Christianity, which is indeed a religion of love. The problem in such cases has not been that people have abandoned reason for faith, but quite the reverse. When nations or other institutions have resorted to violence in the name of Christ, they have done so because they abandoned faith in what God says in the Bible (e.g., turn the other cheek, love your enemies and do good to them, as much as possible be at peace with all people, etc.) and followed their flawed reasoning (I have to do this to them before they do it to me, etc.). That having been said, the history of Christianity is a much more positive history of peacemaking and love than the question assumes. A very helpful book on this subject that looks at both the good and the bad is Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett's Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry. You will be amazed at the truth regarding Christianity and the crusades, slavery, the holocaust, and many other travesties of history. Hint: It’s not what you have been led to believe. 10) If everything is the product of a grand design by an omniscient, benevolent designer, why is the history of life a record of horrible suffering, blundering waste, and miserable failures? Why does this God go through billions of years of such carnage without yet arriving at His goal? Not "everything" is the product of God's grand design, at least not in the same sense. Suffering, waste, carnage, and other evils are the result of human beings refusing to follow the directions given to them by their omniscient and benevolent Creator. Christians also believe that God has a plan to bring greater good out of this history: good that more than counterbalances the evil. It is that greater good that is God's reason for allowing the evil to continue for now. For this perspective, get former atheist C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain. In referring to the history of life on earth as a long history of "carnage” that has taken billions of years on its way to some “goal” not yet reached it would appear that you assume the truth of evolution and are wondering how the God of the Bible can be integrated into such a scheme. That is a good question to ask the theistic evolutionist, but those who take the Bible in its normal sense are not touched by this objection. Creation Science rejects the premise that earth’s history is a “record of horrible suffering, blundering waste, and miserable failures” (other than those already discussed as a result of man’s free will). For a statement that is both scientifically credible and accessible to the lay person, see H. M. Morris’ and Gary Parker’s What is Creation Science? 11) Why did God intervene so many times in human affairs during antiquity (according to the Bible) and yet not do anything during the Holocaust of the Second World War? Perhaps you are not aware that God did not uniformly intervene for biblical characters (even when great evil was being done). Quite often, people suffered greatly, even good people that loved God. In Bible times, the intervention of God through miracles was largely confined to periods when God wanted to give a sign to people that the messenger(s) who had come to them were truly sent from God. So we see miracles revolve around the lives of Moses, Elijah & Elisha, and Jesus & His apostles. Other major Bible characters—Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, John the Baptist, etc. lived remarkable lives of faith; but they did not perform miracles as far as we can tell. As for divine interventions in times of trouble, don’t forget that the Israelites languished in slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years before Moses led them out. The northern ten tribes were decimated by the Assyrians and never really reconstituted. Judah suffered tremendously in the Babylonian conquest. The Jews suffered again horribly in the war between the Jews and the Romans in AD 66-73. In some cases their suffering was explained as God's judgment; in some cases it wasn't. On the other hand, to say that God did nothing during the Holocaust is not accurate. He didn't part any Red Seas, but he did keep yet another military superpower from destroying the Jewish people entirely, as so many powers before the Third Reich had tried to do. Through the courageous work of Christians and other good people, He saved many from the horror of Nazi death camps—as seen in Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. Yes, the death of six million Jews was indeed an enormous evil; but the survival and thriving of the Jewish people despite Hitler, and so many like him over the centuries, is a testimony to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Sir Robert Anderson, the head of Scotland Yard, addressed your question expertly in The Silence of God. You should check it out for a thoughtful response. 12) Why should one's inner convictions about the existence of God indicate that He/She/They/It exists outside of that person's mind? Inner convictions in and of themselves prove nothing one way or the other about the existence of God (see # 6 above). On the other hand, inner convictions should be based on convincing evidence. Mine are. Are yours? Admittedly, yours have the more challenging task, since to prove the non-existence of something is infinitely harder (actually impossible) than to prove the existence of something. This is one reason Geisler and Turek say, in their book of the same title, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist. Questions 13-37 Coming Soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Fisherman on Faith

Dear Dr. Fisher:

My question is about faith. I have heard all of my life that it is impossible to please God without faith and that the way to eternal salvation is by believing in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. My question is HOW does a person actually acquire faith. I have been reading the bible and MANY books about God - but I still find myself doubting His presence and the bible on a continuous basis. My family comes from a very scientific, engineering background and I think sometimes that gets in the way... but I still don't know what do to increase my faith. I know that the bible says that if you search for God with all of your heart and mind, you will not be disappointed (or something like that). I try praying and it feels as if I am talking to myself - not to a true being. I am very frustrated and am beginning to wonder if God really wants me. In the bible it says something about people being predestined to come to God before we are even on earth. I am just wondering if I may not be one of those people.

ANSWER: Faith is, indeed, essential to a proper relationship with God; without it, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11.6). We should not be surprised about that, should we? For faith (trust) is essential to ALL of our relationships. A child who learns that he cannot trust his parents will not grow up with a healthy family life. A wife who cannot trust her husband, parents who cannot trust their child, employees who do not trust their employer—all of these people have flawed relationships with their counterparts. So, how do such people, as you put it, “acquire faith” so that they can relate to one another in a good and proper way?

In the above examples, something has been done (either in reality or in the perception of the doubting party) to destroy faith (trust). Surely, faith was once there; for it is not likely that a woman would marry a man that she did not trust from the outset, that a child would fear his mother & father from the womb, or that a man would willingly take a job with someone he thought would steal his wages. But an affair, a broken trust, a shady deal, an unfulfilled promise—these can obliterate the trust that once prevailed. In such a case, trust must be regained by a long-term experience of repeated “trustworthiness.” Perhaps, given enough time, the offending party can once again earn the trust, i.e., the faith, of the offended one.

How does all of this apply to our relationship with God? I believe there is an exact parallel. Like a newborn who instinctively nestles in his mother’s breast, we all have faith when we come into this world—not saving faith, for that cannot come until we have heard the saving message of the Gospel (Romans 10.13-17)—but faith that God exists. The Bible wastes no ink on atheism, because atheism is not a common human condition—only a “fool” would say that there is no God (Psalm 14.1). God has implanted this knowledge in every one of us (Ecclesiastes 3.11, Romans 1.18-20). Your very question gives witness to the underlying presupposition that there is a God, for you wonder “if God really wants me.”

What has happened to that trust? Has God done anything to forfeit your trust? Certainly, He has not; for He is Trustworthy and Faithful. But, just as parents might suspect an innocent child or a wife, an innocent spouse, so we have been conditioned by our culture to suspect things we cannot confirm with our physical senses. This is not a scientific attitude. True science would investigate ALL the evidence—including historical, eyewitness reports such as are found in the Bible. Millions of people, some of them the brightest minds the world has ever produced, have examined the evidence and found that the God of the Bible is real. One such example is Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853). Professor of Law at Harvard University, Greenleaf was the foremost authority on laws of evidence in his day. His textbook is still considered the classic authority on the subject. He said, "Of the Divine character of the Bible, I think, no man who deals honestly with his own mind and heart can entertain a reasonable doubt. For myself, I must say, that having for many years made the evidences of Christianity the subject of close study, the result has been a firm and increasing conviction of the authenticity and plenary inspiration of the Bible. It is indeed the Word of God."

Here is what I would recommend to you. First, stop thinking of faith as some kind of mystical thing that you must somehow “acquire.” You already have the capacity for faith. You use it every time you flip a light switch, step into an elevator, eat a restaurant meal, or step on the car brakes. You do these things trusting that the light will turn on, the elevator will not fall, the cook didn’t put arsenic in your food, and the car will stop. Faith is simply trusting. There’s nothing mystical about it.

Second, take a look at the evidences for Christianity (apologetics). In the natural realm, you have reasons for your trust (the light switch has always worked before, the cook never killed anyone yet, the brakes worked yesterday, etc.). On the spiritual plane there must also be reasons to believe. Faith is not a blind leap into the dark; God’s invitation is “Come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1.18). He expects you to love him with all of your mind as well as with all of your heart (Matthew 22.37). There are more reasons to believe that God does exist than to believe that He doesn’t, and there are plenty of evidences that the Bible is the Word of God.

Finally, don’t depend on how you feel. Depend on what you know. God gave you a mind to investigate His claims—Does He exist? Does the Bible appear to be His Word? Has it told the future with 100% accuracy? Does it speak authoritatively regarding history, morals, etc.? Did Jesus (the only one who ever came back from the dead) believe it to be God’s Word? If upon investigation you find the answer to these questions is “Yes,” act on what you KNOW to be true, not what you FEEL. Once you have investigated the claims of the Bible and have concluded that they are true, you will know that God is listening when you pray—not because you “feel” Him, but because you trust Him and you know that He said He would hear your prayers (Matthew 7.7-11). Once you begin to act rationally instead of emotionally, you will find that emotions will often follow.

Does God want you? Yes! He wants you so much that He sent His Son to die for all of your sins (1 John 2.1-2). Are you predestined to be separated from Him? No! He is not willing that you should perish but that you should repent (2 Peter 3.9). If you turn away from the overwhelming evidence that He exists and that the Bible is His Word, it will not be because you did not know better (or could not have found out). Rather, you will be closing your eyes to an abundance of proof and will stand before God “without excuse” (Romans 1.20).

I thank God that you are seeking Him. He is not hard to find. You need not ascend into Heaven or search the depths of Hell, for if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10.6-9). Just a little bit of faith (that of a mustard seed) can change your life. You seem to have that much at least; just place it in the God Who has been calling you to Himself. You will find that as you read His Word and seek to obey it day by day, your doubts will disappear and your faith will grow.

For your journey, read: Lee Strobel's The Case for the Faith

Monday, May 16, 2005

Where've You Been?

A missionary's wife sent me these lines as a reminder to ease up: If you keep your nose to the grindstone rough, And if you hold it there long enough, You soon will forget that there's any such thing As a babbling brook or birds that sing; Of these three things will your world compose : Just you, that stone, and your ground down nose! As I preached on the Seven Last Words of Jesus prior to Easter, the Lord convicted me of my neglect of the important things (and of the most important person) in my life. John 19.26-27 records the third thing Jesus said from the cross. It might seem common, mundane, not worthy of His attention; but hanging on the cross, Jesus thinks of His mother and turns her care over to His beloved disciple John: "Woman, behold thy son--Behold thy mother." Am I involved in important matters? Sure! We are in the midst of accreditation at my seminary, and I am the Chief Academic Officer. I pastor folks with serious needs: health issues, family issues, salvation issues. My rental house is sitting empty and needs to be painted and carpeted before I can get someone in it. And FishFoodBooks is booming with things to do! I don't want to neglect anyone; but, Sweetie, I'm busy! Hey, Doc! Jesus was in the middle of saving the world! He was doing the most important job that would ever be done--dying on the cross for every sinner that would ever live! In excruciating (Lat. "out of the cross") pain! Yet He took thought of His loved one and took care of her need. "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it" (Eph 5.25). Am I the only one that needed that reminder? Thanks, Father!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Gone Fishing!

"I go a fishing," Peter said. And, boy, have the commentators taken him to task for that. "The use of the present tense," says one, "shows that Peter was forsaking the call to follow Christ." He was, in other words, done with "apostling." From now on, it was a fisher's life for him! How anyone can get that out of the tense of a verb is beyond me. And to imagine that Peter--after having followed Christ for 3 1/2 years; after having tasted the power of the kingdom in healing the sick, casting out demons, and working miracles; after having seen Jesus die on the cross for his (Peter's) transgressions; and after having met with the resurrected Savior, who forgave him for his panicked denial the night of that awful arrest--to imagine that he could ever go back to his former life, as though the last 3+ years had never happened. . .that just defies all the rules of human psychology and logic! Peter did not mean that he was finished with the work of God. He meant, "while I'm waiting here for Jesus' instructions, I'm going to occupy myself with what I know how to do--I'm going fishing!" FishFoodBooks is my fishing trip. A number of other Christian ministers have joined me in this venture. We are not forgetting the task to which Christ has called us. We believe that this is another way to be "fishers of men." If you are looking for an exciting new way to "go a fishing," check out our fishing grounds and consider joining us. Just click here or the title "Gone Fishing!" above.