Monthly Archives: December 2012

The end of the World???

Well, so far, the world has not ended today, the 21st of December, a date that the Mayan’s predicted thousands of years ago would be the end of the world. One quick Google search reveals that this prediction was similar to how many people predicted the world might end on December 31, 1999 with Y2K and we all know what happened there…nothing. But, another Google search will reveal that many people attempt to predict the end of the world, but to no avail. Now it seems that all that’s left are jokes about the apocalypse that never came. REM’s song It’s the End of the World is probably trending worldwide on Twitter, as I know I have seen many references to it. The popular saying “as if there’s no tomorrow” is making a number of appearances on my Facebook wall and Twitter feed.

With that said, I want to share something God really challenged me with this morning as I thought about the whole Mayan prediction as well as when the world does end. Every morning, I have to wake up between 3 and 4 AM to be at work so it is pretty quiet and easy for me to think. Basically, the thought that God impressed on my heart was this:

My world may not end today, but what about those men, women and children whose lives will end today? What about them? Does my heart hurt for them as God’s heart aches? Do I ache for them, knowing that thousands of people are going to die today without hearing the Gospel message and having a chance to come to know the Lord? Or what about all the slaves in the world today whose lives have already basically ended? Do I care about them? What am I doing to reach them? God has said that one sign of His return will be that everyone in the world will have had a chance to hear the Gospel. Also, am I living each day as if it really could be God’s return? Am I living each day as if I could be standing face to face before God at any moment?

These thoughts came rushing into my head today as I was beginning my day on the day the world was supposed to end…according to the Mayans. But now my head cannot shake the thought of those in the world who will face death and their world will end. Just thinking about everything that will happen in this world today pushes my heart to cry out all the more earnestly, come quickly Lord Jesus!!!! Babies who will never have a chance to experience the joys of life because of being aborted. Men, women and children who will have their very identity taken from them today through human trafficking and be pushed into the world of slavery never to be seen or heard from again by their loved ones.

Maybe this Christmas God wants me to be more mindful of what I can give and do for those who will not have anything special to do on Tuesday, December 25th. Maybe I can be thoughtful and prayerful of how I can reach my world for Christ so fewer people die without having heard the Gospel? Or maybe I can support a ministry whose goal is to bring justice to the world and help end slavery or sponsor a child in a poverty stricken country, etc. As followers of Christ, we are called to make a difference in the world. We are called to be salt and light. Salt cannot flavor anything without being in contact with it. A light cannot make a difference in a dark place by hiding. Are we going to be so caught up in what we get this Christmas that we forget to look at what we could give? Are we going to consider Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than receive?” Imagine the difference Christians could make if we began looking at Christmas as a time to sacrificially give to those who have nothing. What would that instill in our children? What would that do to our families? To our church? To our community?

The struggle is that at Christmas, I want to see Ellie’s face light up when she opens a gift. I want to shower her with gifts because I am a dad and that is what every dad wants to do. But, do I want to see her face light up more when she experiences the joy of serving someone? Do I want to see the joy she gets from truly giving to someone who cannot give anything back? That experience will mean so much more in the long run because it does not fade like the allure of a new toy or video game or doll or shoes.

I am not saying that everyone is wrong in their celebration of Christmas because many people probably do more in the world at Christmas time then I have ever done. I am not telling everyone who reads this to completely get rid of giving gifts at Christmas. I am merely sharing how God challenged me this morning and how God has been working in my life lately. If this is something you have never thought of, but want more information, there are many different ministries/organizations you can look into who are financially responsible and worth investing in. Here are a few worth looking into: Freedom 4/24, International Justice Mission, World Help, and Compassion International.

Christmas can be a time where we can make a huge difference in the world, or it can be a time where we are so internally focused that we miss what it is all about. I pray that we are able to be ones who want to make a difference in the world and allow God to use us and impact the world for Him.


Irrationally Irrational??

From the title, you can see this will be a deeper post than I have written in the past. Actually, this might be one of the deepest blogs I write. I am not a huge fan of writing to an extent that the average person could not understand what I was conveying through my use of words. However, every once in a while I will have a conversation with someone or God will speak to my heart in a way that makes me want to write. At times like these, I really have no idea how the post will turn out but I write anyways in as coherent a fashion as I can. With that said, let’s get to the post.

Journey Church, the church I currently lead the youth group at, is doing a series this Christmas season on “What if Christ hadn’t come?” Being a Twitter user, I decided to tweet that. I had no idea the Twitter interaction I was about to encounter just through that tweet. What ensued was a two day back and forth with someone who professed to not have any “beliefs” or “faith” and that the only thing he professed was what could be backed up by science and experimentation and actually be seen. With that, you can conclude that he was not a fan of anything supernatural. He actually believed that anyone who said they experienced the supernatural were basically being deceived or misinformed or had no idea what happened to them. Because anything that is supernatural in nature cannot be scientifically proven, he doesn’t believe in it. All throughout the conversation, I was labeled as being irrational because of my belief in the supernatural. No matter how I tried to approach it, this guy’s mind was made up. It did not seem that any question or topic would even get him to have an open mind and at least consider the possibility that there is a God. Another individual involved in the conversation brought up that there is no good reason to believe in God. It was striking to me because here I was having an open mind through and considering their arguments and points and yet they would not even try to come from the point of view that there is or could be a God.

Towards the end of the conversation, I tried asking one question for him to answer, which to me was pretty easily answered as a yes or no. Let me give you a little context before I share the question. After allowing him time to ask me questions concerning what I believed, it came to a point where I realized that this guy new just enough to be dangerous to any Christian because he was one who supposedly had been a Biblical scholar for 15+ years. Apparently it had never gotten to his heart. So, I decided to ask him what he believed. That is when the conversation turned scientific and that is when he basically said that he believed only what could be proven through scientific evidence. After about an hour of discourse, I came to another point where I realized that this guy is not even open to considering anything new, the very thing I was being accused of. He felt that he had seen enough of Christians and the Bible to know there was no way that Jesus or God existed because apparently eyewitness accounts from early Christians and the Bible do not count because it is all fabricated or something to that effect. This led to my question. I started with asking him simply: “Is there someone somewhere in the world who could possibly have knowledge or experience of which you know nothing about or have not experienced?”

To that question he basically tried to beat around the bush for a little while without really giving any answer. Which, the logical and most reasonable answer to that question is of course there is someone somewhere in the world who has experienced something that he has not. There are people in the very city I live who have experienced far more than I could even think of experiencing. I was finally able to get him to at least concede that no one knows everything. However, when I attempted to explain that his own answer left room for someone somewhere to have experienced something supernatural, he defied it again. Because something supernatural cannot be scientifically proven, and handled or touched or experimented on, there was no use even discussing it or considering it. Which once again, to me seemed irrational, but apparently I was the only closed minded and irrational person involved in this interaction.

One thing that was brought up every once in a while was all that had been done in the name of God throughout history that was just horrible, like the crusades, among others that people in history have undertaken supposedly in the name of God. I tried to explain that the people were definitely wrong and were not carrying out what the God of the Bible had asked them. I explained that they were wrong. I made this statement because a couple moments before he had mentioned that science can at least accept when it was wrong and that religion is unable to do that. This struck me because I know of many times when Christians have apologized for what has happened in history supposedly in the name of God. This stuck with me because the way this individual was speaking, it seemed as if he knew enough to know that there was no way he could be wrong even though he had conceded that no one could possibly know everything there is to know. I also tried to point out that what he believed even required some “faith” but he would have none of that. He tried to ask why I am trying to give him faith but no matter how I tried to show that he in fact is showing faith since he does not know everything, it was to no avail.

Finally, after going on for about two hours, I realized that nothing I said would change their minds and that continuing the discussion would do no good. I just wanted to ask one more question in regards to what I previously mentioned. After getting the interactions to cease for a second, I posed my question. It was worded something like this:

“You have said that there is no one alive who knows everything or could possibly know everything. And you have also said that science can admit when it is wrong and that scientific experiments have even been wrong in the past. With that said, do you believe you could possibly be wrong? Could there be a God and science just has not gotten to the right experiment yet?”

This was the first time this individual was able to admit he could be wrong. However, even after admitting he could be wrong, he went on to say that since he has science on his side, it is more likely that I am wrong and there is no God then for him to be wrong and there be a God, simply because he believes in nothing supernatural.

Once again I thought, here I am the one who is accused of being irrational and not reasonable. However, I have had enough of an open mind to encourage me to look at the evidence, to look throughout history and use reason and rational thought to come to the point where I believe all the evidence in the world points to the fact that there is a Creator, God, who made everything. To think that we all just “happened” by accident to come into being, that two organisms evolved at the same rate to eventually form two separate “beings” or other organisms that then evolved into something else after millions of years of this, eventually we get humans who are capable of thought and creativity and emotions and so much more, and all of this as a result of an explosion of matter. That is what seems irrational and unreasonable to me. But what do I know? I believe in the supernatural, so therefore, my opinion does not count because I have been misinformed of what has happened to me or I am just delusional. Either way, there is no way I could be right.

I finally came to a point where I concluded with apparently some form of what is known as Pascal’s wager, which originated from the philosopher Blaise Pascal. You can look it up on Google if you are interested in the full form of his argument. However, my version was simply this: I would rather live as if there is a God, according to the Bible, putting my faith and trust in God because of what I know and have experienced in my life as well as seen through the lives of other’s and be wrong than live as if there is no God and be wrong. In the first instance, I lose nothing because of how living by following and obeying God actually fills my life with joy, happiness, peace, purpose, etc. and so much more. Whereas, in the second instance, if I live as if there is no God, which eventually leaves you empty and wondering what life is all about (I know this from personal experience). I do not claim that this argument is a valid one or an argument that we should try to use when interacting with those who are not followers of Christ. In this instance it is one that I just wanted to say. I have faith, and God is strengthening this faith day after day, that there is a God and what His Word says is truth and I desire to live my life to the end of bringing glory to God every day of my life. No matter what you believe, even if you believe only what is scientifically provable, you will have to exercise faith in some form or another. I am choosing to put my faith in the one Man who rose from the dead, defeated death and sin and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Nothing else truly matters to me. It is hard to believe that I was accused of being irrational because even labeling someone that seems to come across as, well, irrational?

Two quick notes to end with. First, my goal in the conversation through Twitter was not to win an argument. I found myself many times challenged to pray for those involved in the conversation and even now I find myself praying that God opens their eyes to the supernatural in a way that they cannot explain through science. As Christians, we are not to be out to win arguments; we are to be about sharing the Gospel of God’s great love for mankind. Second, the main individual I was conversing with was very respectful of my opinions and it was enjoyable conversing with him. I am hoping that we can have more conversations in the future.

This is just something to think about. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others if you are so inclined.


The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons

The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons

Being an avid reader, I love picking up books by authors who I am unfamiliar with. Gabe Lyons is one of those authors. With this being the first book I have read by Gabe Lyons, I was unsure what to expect but what I came across was a very well written and thought through book. Gabe helped start Catalyst as well as founding a “learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society.” This is evident from the moment you open the book.

In today’s society, Christians have not been defined as being “thinkers.” Most people would probably define them as hypocrites, judgmental, and other similar demeaning words. However, this is far from the purpose God founded the church and what He desires from His followers. In Gabe’s first book, he wrote about how society/culture is having a growing disregard for Christians. The Next Christians speaks of how Gabe notices a trend of new Christians who are actively beginning to engage society and culture in a new way.

The Next Christians takes an invigorating look at how Christians can begin to truly impact culture. The previous generation did its best to avoid culture and tried to stay away because of how they were worried culture would impact them. Unfortunately, remaining on the defensive did not keep the culture from impacting the church in a negative way. Now though, as Christians, we need to actively engage the culture for us to have any chance at impacting the world for Christ. We have to be what the Bible calls the “hands and feet” of Jesus. And we have to do this in ways that Jesus did, by going to the broken. Jesus came into the world as a baby and lived among those He desired to reach and save. If we want to see a world changed for God’s glory, we need to do the same thing, be willing to go to where the hurting and broken live.

Towards the beginning of the book, Gabe writes about three different types of Christian approaches to the world: Separatist, Cultural, Restorers. While I might not completely agree with everything in this part of the book, I have to agree with the following statement: “Telling others about Jesus is important, but conversion isn’t their only motive. Their mission is to infuse the world with beauty, grace, justice and love.” If Christians were to truly live this way, the world would begin to change because they would see what following Christ is all about. And when people see genuine examples of Christ followers in the world, they take notice and people change.

This book was a great challenge and I would highly recommend it for anyone to read, especially for someone who feels God leading them into any form of ministry. It is a refreshing book that gives new light on how the younger generation, the next generation, of Christians can truly make a difference for Christ, and Gabe gives some great guideposts to how this can be done. Go ahead and pick up a copy, it will be worth your read.

Thank you for taking the time to read this review. I hope it gives you an idea of what this book contains and whether you want to take the time to read it or not. Feel free to check out any of the other book reviews on my blog: https://thetoddlynn.wordpress.com/ and follow for any new blog posts or reviews.

 

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.