Thursday, May 28, 2009

Clues for christianity

Well I'll quickly give you the three things that most convinced me.

Undoubtedly someone will have objections. Also note that I'm only going to scratch the surface quickly.

1. Biblical Prophecy
2. The reliability of scripture
3. The Resurrection1.

re: 1. I don't have the time to dig for this information right now, but the prophecies of the Bible are uncannily convincing. The Bible predicts, some 600 years before Jesus, a man born of a virgin, a suffering servant, that dies of CRUCIFIXION (mind you, this method of execution had not been invented at the time of the prophetic writing), a man born in the line of David, the exact time of Jesus birth, the place of his birth, and many many other things. It's overwhelmingly convincing and as a rule, Christianity is the only religion that can boast on this enormous stage.

re: 2. The New testament, in particular, has been tested and observed so much more than any other historice text it's frightening. Yet, with absolute flyng colors it passes every test given to any historical document whatsoever. I've spoken about these here before and I'm sure I'll be asked to again. It's proven absolutley reliable.

re: 3. This is the big one, and the clues to the truth are overwhelming. If Jesus rose from the dead, then everything changes. Did he?

First, let's understand some historical events.

The tomb must have been empty and here's why. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul (15-20 years after Jesus) Paul speaks of 500 witnesses that saw the resurrected Christ. If these witness did not exist, this new religion would've been utterly destroyed. "Paul is a liar! No witnesses can be found!" That never happened.Additionally the way the Bible portrays the resurrection would've been the last imaginable way anyone would've made it up at the time! For example, the first eyewitnesses (according to the Gospels) were women. Women's low social status of the time even made their evidence inadmissable in court! Why would the writers of the Gospel have women be the first eyewitnesses for any reason other than it actually happened?

NT Wright argues, "the empty tomb and the accounts of personal meetings with Jesus are even more historically certain when you realize they must be taken together. If there had been only an empty tomb and no sightings, no one would have concluded it was a resurrection. They would have assumed that the body had been stolen. Yet if there had been only eyewitness sightings of Jesus and no empty tomb, no one would have concluded it was a resurrection, because people's accounts of seeing departed loved ones happen all the time. Only if the two factors were both true together would anyone have concluded that Jesus was raised from the dead."

The tomb MUST have been empty. Skeptics could have easily produced Jesus' rotten corpse were it not. The main argument then is, then maybe the disciples stole his body and the "eyewitnesses" just went along with it. To that, Keller says, "The assumption behind this very common hypothesis is a form of what CS Lewis has called "intellectual snobbery." We imagine that we modern people take claims of a bodily resurrection with skepticism, while the ancients, full of credulity about the supernatural, would have immediately accepted it. That is not the case. To all the dominant worldviews of the time, an individual bodily resurrection was almost inconceivable."

So what happened? An explosion of a new worldview. How do you explain it but that this Jesus person was bodily resurrected, and witnessed by 500 people in actual history.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Clues for God - 4

The fourth clue is the "clue of beauty":

"If there is no God, and everything in this world is the product of (as Bertran Russell famously puts it) 'an accidental collocation of atoms,' then there is no actual purpose for which we were made--we are accidents. If we are the product of accidental natural forces, than what we call 'beauty' is nothing but a neurological hardwired response to particular data." (Keller, 133)

Really, when we are face to face with great beauty, great art, great music we inescapably feel that there is real meaning to life. Leonard Bernstein says, himself no religious man at all:

"Beethoven ... turned out pieces of breath-taking rightness. Rightness--that's the word! When you get the feeling that whatever note succeeds the last is the only possible note that can rightly happen at the instant, in that context, then chances are you're listening to Beethoven. Melodies, fugues, rhythyms--leave them to the Tchaikovskys and Hindemiths and Ravels. Our boy has the real goods, the stuff from Heaven, the power to make you feel at the finish: Something is right in the world. There is something that checks throughout, that follows its own law consistently: something we can trust, that will never let us down."

Surely anyone that has been enraptured in the love of another can assent to that.

So what? Just because we feel something doesn't make it true! Righto! But i would argue that what is evoked in these experiences is desire or appetite. Augustine reasons that these unfulfilled desires are clues to the reality of God. We may have a desire for a steak, but that doesn't necessarily mean we will get one. However, doesn't the fact that hunger exists point to the reality that the cure for that hunger exists as well?

Clues for God - 3

Our anniversary trip was amazing. More on it in a bit...

The Third clue is this:

"There is something about nature that is much more striking and inexplicable that its design. All scientific, inductive reasoning is based on the assumption of the regularity (the "laws") of nature, that water will boil tomorrow under the identical conditions of today. The method of induction requires generalizing from observed cases to all cases of the same kind. Without inductive reasoning we couldn't learn from experience, we couldn't use language, we couldn't rely on our memories.

Most people find that normal and untroubling. But not philosophers! David Hume and Bertran Russell, as good secular men, were troubled by the fact that we haven't got the slightest idea of why nature-regularity is happening now, and moerover we haven't the slightest rational justification for assuming it will continue tomorrow. If someone would say, 'Well the future has always been like the past in the past,' Hume and Russell would reply that you are assuming the very thing you are trying to establish.

To put it another way, science cannot prove the continued regularity of nature, it can only take it on faith.There have been many scholars in the last decades who have argued that modern science arose in it most sustained form out of Christian civilization because of its belief in a all-powerful, personal God who created and sustains an orderly universe. As a proof for the existence of God, the regularity of nature is escapable. You can always say, 'We don't know why things are as they are.' As a clue for God, however, it is helpful" (Keller, 132)

Clues for God - 2

The Second Evidence is this, what Keller calls "The cosmis welcome Mat" though again undoubtedly unoriginally.

"For organic life to exist, the fundamental regularities and constants of physics--the speed of light, the gravitational constant, the strength of the weak and strong nuclear forces--must all have values that together fall into an extremely narrow range. The probability of this perfect calibration happening by chance is so tiny as to be statistically negligable." (130, Keller)

Collins says:"When you look from the perspective of a scientist at the universe, it looks as if it knew it were coming. There are 15 constants--the gravitational constant, various constants about the strong and weak nuclear force, etc.--that have precise values. If any one of those constants was off be even one part in a million, or in some cases, by one part in a million million, the universe could not have actually come to the point where we see it. Matter would not have been able to coalesce, there would have been no galaxy, stars, planets or people."

Hawking says "The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clear religious implications. It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us."

Does it mean is HAVE to be so? No, again, we're not dealing with proofs, but what is more plausible? The most common rebuttal of this Dawkins gives in his book. He says there may be trillions of universes. "Given the enormous number of universes existing over enormous amounst of time and space, it is inevitable that some of them are fine-tuned to sustain our kind of life. The one we are in is one, so here we are." (Keller, 130-131)

So, I say again this second clue may be avoidable, but it is still a great clue.

Alvin Plantiga gives this illustration. He imagines a man dealing himself twenty straight hands of four aces in the same game of poker. As his companions reach for their six-shooters the poker player says, 'I know it looks suspicious! But what if there is an infinite succession of universes, so that for any possible distribution of poker hands, there is one universe in which this possibility is realized? We just happen to find ourselves in one where I always deal myself four aces without cheating!" (131)

Now, this may, in fact, be true, but I for one am not comfortable with that explanation.

Clues for God - 1

Here is what I'd like to do. I've been spending probably to much time recently talking with people online about the existence of God; so, I've been presenting them with "clues" to His existence. To double-up, I'm going to talk about some of them on here.

First, I'd like to throw out a caveat that the existence of God will never be proven in the truest sense. I can't lead you to belief because the existence of God is proven logically and empirically by sense experience. 100% proof simply does not exist in the discussion of God's existence. However, for those that want it, and refuse to believe without it, I'd caution. Your thinking is off. How could you empirically prove that no one should believe something without empirical proof? You can't and so you have a belief of your own!

Ok, those stated, here's the first "clue" for God:

The First evidence is this: Timothy Keller in "The Reason for God" calls it "The Mysterious Bang" though I'm sure he didnt' coin the phrase. By the way, read the book; most of my info is from there.

Why is there something from nothing?

Stephen Hawking wrote:
"Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang."

Francis Collins, in the "Language of God" says:
"We have this very solid conclusion that the universe had an origin, the Big Bang. Fifteen billion years ago, the universe began with an unimaginably bright flash of energy from an infinitesimally small point. That implies that before that, there was nothing. I can't imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature."

What made the Big Bang? What else but something outside of nature, a supernatural, noncontingent being that exists from itself. Now I anticipate a lot of "Occam's Razor" type of talk to come of this clue. I'll suffice to say that a theist should be comfortable with his belief in the respect that the beginning has an end. An atheist, however, should find themselves somewhat uncomfortable with the question of why there is something rather than nothing. An outside creating source is the only reasonable explanation.

Sam Harris, a prominent atheist, says,
"In any case, even if we accepted that our universe simply had to be created by an intelligent being, this would not suggest that this being is the God of the Bible."

He is right, we're not there yet...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A little hodgepodge

Lots of things running through my mind today. Though lists are generally considered poor writing, nonetheless, in no particular order:

-I ran one mile today in 7:50 or so and it absolutely kicked my rear. Boy am I in bad shape. I ran 1.5 more after that, though not nearly as fast.

-Noah is doing all kinds of stuff. He's pulling himself up to his feet instantly, climbing over things, making funny faces, and even walking sideways along things after he pulls himself up. We're excited. Currently he's screaming in his crib because he's been hating naps lately; he just wants to play.

-Lebron gave me some hope last night for Cleveland sports. For whatever reason I still feel like we're doomed in this series but that was an awesome shot.

-We're praying for $500 monthly to come in by Monday night. Join us in that prayer?

-Melissa is on a garage sale kick lately. So much cheap baby stuff!

-I started an online class to supplement my times with the Lord each day. I'll talk about this more in future blogs I'm sure, but I'm taking Church History from Covenant Seminary. It's free!

-I also ordered two commentaries from Darrell Bock on Luke. I'm planning on working on that in Action Group with the guys next year.

-Currently reading "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller. I'm planning on talking about that in future blogs also.

-Melissa bolted straight up in bed again last night (again undertaker style). She got out of bed and walked over to the window slowly, did a slow spin move, and proceeded half way around the bed. I sat up (because I got to bed late from the Cavs game) and said, "what are you doing?" She replied "Oh, just my normal routine" then climbed back into bed. I love this woman.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gosh, he's cute

This is a couple weeks old, but here it is.....

Daddy Day

Noah won't stop puking, it's driving me nuts. Anytime he crawls around he just leaves a trail; if I try to sit down and do anything, undoubtedly it's interrupted in 2 minutes because he has puked again on the carpet. As I write those last two sentences he gurgles up some spit up for my shoe. Thanks buddy.

We just got back from Kroger. We had a big grocery list and it was kind've an experience. It's funny though, because he is like automatic help for me. All the women I walk past just stare at him and do anything they can for me. "You're looking for hamburger buns? Oh, let me get those for you..." It's great; I'm going to start taking him everywhere!

Tonight I'm heading to campus to lead the freshmen Bible study. A few guys that I mentored last year lead it normally, so I'm just sticking my head in, it should be a great time. I haven't been around students in a while so I'm really looking forward to it.

We're praying and hoping our support will be done by July 1st. God would really have to show up, but that's what we're praying for. Would you join us in that prayer? Our new thing has been asking people to consider even just $10 monthly, which is a far cry from our normal much bigger asks. So if you haven't heard from me, you probably will soon!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our wonderful sense of entitlement

Something with our culture, but we have a ridiculously high sense of entitlement. It's like everything revolves around us and it's all about us.

I was in line at KFC tonight filling out our vouchers for free food (thanks oprah! And yes, you'll never, ever, hear me say that again) when this old couple walks in visibly upset. "Why can't you just redeem these?" the old lady thundered. "Well, we just have to great of a demand, we didn't account for this much publicity" replied the cashier.
"You don't have the food?!"
"No, we have the food, but only enough to sell today." He was a bit frustrated.
"Can't you just redeem ours, then?" She shot back.

I quickly looked around the store and found 5 other people either filling out their vouchers or standing in line waiting to turn theirs in. This old couple's audacity just floored me; it was like they didn't even see everyone else in the store with the same problem. And let's not forget they're getting food for FREE. Not only do they want it for free, they want it NOW. Sheesh.

"No, we can't just redeem individuals that request it or we'll still have the same problem because everyone here and elsewhere will also want to redeem theirs." The cashier finally replied offering them free drinks in the process. She snatched them away.

Another guy, that was filling out his voucher with me grumbled to me, "this really makes me mad." He walked away but I was going to joke, "Yeah, FREE FOOD coupons really make me mad too!"

Ps read Melissa's blog below, she's pretty stinkin funny.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where's Bart?

Yes, I (Melissa) don't know what happened to Bart....he's decided that he's had enough and he's not blogging anymore. Not really. For those of you who have been wondering, Bart hasn't given up. He "says" he's going to blog for the next 3 days. We'll see. Any wagers?

We've all been sick lately. Noah started out with the cold, then passed it to Bart and they were both kind enough to share it with me. How sweet. But I can't complain cause Noah is a trooper when he's sick. You almost can't tell except for the fact that he's pretty congested and can't sleep quite as well.

We had a pretty good weekend in Canton. Had a bridal shower for Bart's cousin, and did a little support stuff. It was good to get to spend time with everyone. It seemed like everyone hadn't seen Noah in forever since he's crawling now and has 2 teeth. My Dad even commented not too long ago that he's about ready for college, he's growing up so fast. I agree. What on earth happened to our little baby?

Noah just started pulling himself up in the last couple days. We're in trouble, I think. He doesn't quite know how to get down yet, so he ends up just toppling over and that generally ends in tears. What can you do? At least he's trying.

I finally got a picture of those teeth!

I'm a real boy!

Yum, mulch tastes gooood.

So I'm sure most of you have seen The Lion King. Does this picture (below) resemble any part of that movie? It should, because Bart likes to lift Noah in the air and say "LION KING!" That's all. Just "lion king." I know, I know. There's nothing I can do about him. We're just going to have to live with his weirdness. Sigh.

Noah was actually trying to bite Dad's head while he was up there.

Bart likes to call him Hasselhof when he has his top button unbuttoned. Grrrr.

And I'll leave you with a story since Bart likes to share random things about I was putting Noah down for a nap and Bart was making all kinds of noise, so I said, "why don't you just go yell in his room while you're at it?" (Or something to that effect.) He said that would be funny. So the next thing I know, I hear Bart run upstairs, he opens Noahs door, yells and then closes the door. Noah starts sobbing and Bart is snickering upstairs. I then run upstairs to comfort our child and then beat my husband. Unfortunately I didn't get to beat him. I did calm Noah down, but do you all see what I'm dealing with here? As I'm typing this, he's singing Don't Cry for Me Little Noah to the tune of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" by Madonna. Yup that's right. Aren't all you ladies jealous?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Some family photos

my two favorite people
Noah is breaking two teeth simultaneously. He's actually been pretty good considering stuff we've heard about some babies. In a strange way, it's almost like he is smiling and playing even more than usual, and he already did that a ton. He seems to be just a really happy dude in general, though we have nothing to compare him to so take that as you will.

We're trying to figure out what we want him to call me. I've bounced around from "daddy" to "papa" and even thought about "father" a bit. I think I've settled on "papa daddy."

Monday, May 04, 2009

My lack of love

Below is an email I just sent my to-be sister-in-law. She works with mentally handicapped kids.

So, I'm spending a good deal of time reading through the Gospel of Luke lately. And the Holy Spirit, through God's Word hit me pretty heavy today, and I thought I'd share it with you.

I was looking at what exactly was said about this baby Jesus. And then a bit further into what He had to say about himself, all in the first few chapters. In 1:68 Zechariah says, "... he has come to redeem his people" then in the next verse he says Jesus is a "horn of salvation." In 1:71 Zechariah says, "salvation from our enemies..." then "... to show mercy." This "mercy" made me look back at Mary's song up a bit in the first chapter. Mary also says, "...remembering to be merciful..." Even the explanation of John the Baptist in 1:77 says of John, " will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him (talking about Jesus), to give his people the knowledge of salvation... because of the tender mercy of our God..."
Then Simeon in 2:30 (who had been waiting around quite a while to see God's salvation for Israel, declares of Jesus after seeing him in the temple, " eyes have seen your salvation..." Shortly thereafter in 2:38, the prophetess Anna "...spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel."

It was clear. Jesus is a savior and redeemer. God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to be savior! He sent Jesus to be redeemer! The job description of Christ is to save and redeem!
Ok, this is common to most who have any knowledge of Jesus, but Luke's point was clear to me. Jesus is savior and redeemer. So I started wondering, well, savior and redeemer of whom? In Mary and Zechariah's passages they say for the Israelites. Well, I'm not an Israelite. I camped on two verses. 2:10 the angel (talking to the shepherds) says "I bring good news of great joy that will be for all the people." All the people! That's me!
Then I checked out Simeon's prayer also in 2:32 and notice Jesus is described as "...a light for revelation to the Gentiles..." That's also me! Jesus is savior and redeemer of me, you, and whoever wants it!

Ok, Bart why in the heck are you walking me through your Bible study? Here's why: In Luke 4:23-27 Jesus is thrown out because he tells some Israelites God is merciful to whomever he wants, not just the Israelites. They got mad and tried to kill Jesus right there, but he "walked away right through the crowd." Those Israelites had an idea that their savior was only for them. They were a bit close-minded. They said, essentially, "Jesus, if you are the savior of Israel, then just save Israel! Why go elsewhere?" This made me think a bit. Do I treat different members of society differently? Do I present Jesus as savior to only a select group of people, or is it to all peoples? What hit me was that, really, I'm intellectually snobbish. I would love to present Jesus as savior to you only if you can understand what I'm saying. If you can't then I'll go elsewhere. My lack of concern for the mentally handicapped or even just regular intellectually handicapped people made my stomach drop. My snobbishness overcame me. I thought through how many times I've failed to help or even talk to people because they didn't look very intelligent. Sheesh my sin overcomes me! Praise the Lord He is gracious to me and will work me through this issue. Praise Him He has brought this bias and disconcern to my attention and now I can repent. Praise Him that he never witholds His love and care for me, and that He is dedicated to renewing and strengthening my character!

I guess I'm writing this to you because of your job. You do an awesome work caring for those that apparently do not draw my concern naturally. You do the work of Christ in their lives showing them love and grace and helping them grow. I appreciate that a ton more after my time in the Bible this afternoon. Thank you. God is honored.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Luke 1:1-4 - (the verses are above)

v1 - Other writings were apparently around. As an aside, this is how biblical historians note the dating and such of these texts. They don't just guess. Luke's came after Matthew and Mark probably, but before the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Sometime in the sixties, 30 years or so after Jesus. Luke says "thing that have been fulfilled among us" which could also mean "things that have been surely believed among us" which is pretty important I think. He is really saying, look, let's leave the minor things alone and focus on the main thing; the things that have been surely belived. This is not like most of Paul's writings that deal with specific issues. He is writing about the important matters, namely Jesus.

v2 - This info was handed down by eyewitness. Christianity is no mythological, made-up faith. It has its roots in a person, and eyewitnesses of that person's life. Who is that person? Luke says, "the word" which isn't capitalized. But it's the same "word" as in John 1:1-2. This is Jesus. This stuff he is about to write about is from eyewitness and "servants" of Jesus. Awesome!

Only other things I'd like to note here, though other things jumped out at me, is verse 4. Luke is writing that we may be certain.

I write this blog that you may be certain that Jesus is the King. I write this that, even though you may not believe, you may wonder, may question, and may struggle with the realities of the historical and alive person of Jesus. Bring your questions, bring your concerns. See our lives, though invaded by sin, as we seek to honor the Holy One.