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When I was working in the field as a service electrician, I hated going to the supply house. If I was on a job site, I wanted to finish and move onto the next job. How did I prevent a trip to the supply house? I kept common times in stock. From receptacles to switches and ballasts, I knew what items I used on a regular basis and I kept them in stock. This helped me to avoid the supply house and be more productive. If I found a switch that needed replacing, for example, I had one on my truck that I could quickly use to remedy the situation. If our employees would only learn this lesson, my job would be a lot easier.
Let’s consider the claims of Christianity. Are there any “common items” we have “in stock” that we can use? Has God built into us anything that we can readily access in the pursuit of truth? I believe there are. Let’s look at three supplies God had placed on our shelf.
The first item we find in our stock is logic. Merriam-Webster defines logic as “the science of the formal principles of reasoning.” We all use various forms of logic every day without even thinking about it. It is just built into us. It can be a complex topic and universities offer degrees in logic, so we’ll just cover one of it’s laws. The law of non contradiction is a law of logic that we all intuitively know is true. It says that that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time. It’s like trying to imagine a square circle or a married bachelor. They cannot logically exist together. We all know this law is true without even thinking about it, and to deny it is to affirm it. Think about that for a minute!
But where did this law come from? Logic concludes that every law must have a law-giver. Even if no humans existed in the universe, logic would still exist. But, this system of reasoning must be based in a mind. It is based in the ultimate mind. It comes from the mind of God.
The following quote from C. S. Lewis sums this up nicely:
“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
Murder. Cowardice. Betrayal. Lying. These are things that are universally recognized as wrong. The moral argument for God says:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
Basically, if one thing is objectively wrong, then God exists. Deep down inside, we all know that this is true. It is even confirmed to be the case in the Bible. Romans 2:14-15 says “14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” God has written the moral law on each of our hearts.
My favorite quote on morality also comes from the great C. S. Lewis. He famously said:
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
Psalm 19:1-3 says “1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
From biology to cosmology, the fingerprint of God is clearly seen. Many try to deny this but the Bible says that it is clearly seen and that we are all without excuse. The following are a couple of the arguments for God that we see in nature:
A. The Kalam Cosmological argument. It says:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its beginning.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its beginning.
The cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, personal, and intelligent. This is a pretty good description of God. And, coupled with the other arguments we’ve discussed in previous posts, the Christian God appears to fit the bill.
B. The Fine Tuning Argument
This argument is summed up nicely in William Lane Craig’s book “On Guard.” He writes:
“1. The universe is fine-tuned for life.
2. Fine-tuning can potentially be explained by chance, necessity or design.
3. Not by chance or necessity.
4. Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of design.
Why not chance?
The odds are literally astronomically high. According to Robert Penrose, an atheist, the odds are one part in 10^10^123. Even if you wrote a 0 on every proton and neutron in the entire universe you would not be able to write this number down! To persist in asserting chance as a legitimate explanation against overwhelming odds like this is irrational. To do so would completely undermine statistics and any other rational predictions (e.g., weather forecasting, stock projections, etc.).
Why not necessity?
Because the constants are independent of the laws of nature and independent of one another. And because there are no intrinsic reasons to, say, why the weak force is the strength it is. These are contingent (could have been otherwise) values. If all of these constants and laws are explainable in terms of some unified super-theory, this simply pushes back the problem one level: why is the unified super-theory so tightly and elegantly composed so as to produce each of these constants and laws so as to produce life?
This leaves design as the only viable explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe”
The other day I was working on a home standby generator at a customer’s house. It had failed to start during a power outage. A coworker of mine had diagnosed the problem as a bad starter, so we ordered the starter and I had returned to replace it. After replacing it, it still failed to start. I was puzzled. Upon further investigation, I found that it had a bad start relay switch. I was 45 minutes away from a supply house so I said a quick prayer that I would have something on my truck that could solve the problem. I looked through my stock and found a relay that worked perfectly. I was thankful it was in my stock.
As we investigate the truth of Christianity, we can also be thankful that God placed the common items of logic, morality, and nature in our stock.
I live in the south, and, in the south, bad weather comes in all shapes and sizes. From thunderstorms to tornadoes and hurricanes, we see it all. And, with bad weather, come the inevitable power outages. And this leads to calls for generators, because most people can’t seem to survive a few hours without power.
One of the things the company I work for does is to install automatic standby generators. We’ve installed hundreds over the past few years due to a lot of bad weather. Mrs. Jones was one such customer, but she had a legitimate reason for needing a generator. She had cancer and she was on oxygen. A power loss was a life threatening situation for her.
I gave her a quote and she and her husband approved the installation. We came out, installed and tested the generator and everything seemed fine. But, then the calls began. She called and said the generator didn’t start during it’s weekly self test. I went and checked on it and it ran fine, so I figured that it was a fluke. It wasn’t. This began a frustrating 8 month process to solve her problem.
I could not seem to find a problem with her generator. Every time I came to check for a problem, it would run fine. The only thing I knew to do was to begin a process of elimination. I started with the controller, then the governor, then I changed the air filter. Nothing seemed to work. After elimination all other potential causes, I was convinced that she was having a fuel problem. But the fuel pressure tested fine.
Out of frustration, I hired another generator tech to diagnose the generator. He found the problem. The fuel pressure was randomly dropping which was causing the generator to cut off. He just happened to be testing it when this occurred. I called the plumbers who promptly replaced the fuel regulator and the problem was solved. She hasn’t had an issue since. It took eliminating all others potential causes before I became confidence that the fuel was the culprit.
Process of elimination is a common practice used while troubleshooting. What about the Gospels? Can we use this tool to eliminate all other potential causes other than that they are true and reliable? Let’s find out. Let’s look at the resurrection since it at is the core of the Gospel narrative. Let’s see what it’s potential causes might be.
First potential cause: The swoon theory.
The swoon theory claims that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. He just passed out, later revived and walked out of the tomb, thus leading the disciples to assume that he had been raised from the dead. There are several problems with this theory. If Jesus did revive, how did he unwrap the grave clothes, roll the stone away from the tomb, and overcome the Roman guards placed at the tomb? And even if He accomplished all this, He would have been in a very weak and wounded condition. He would have been hard pressed to convince anyone that He was miraculously risen. It would have taken weeks for Him to physically recover. There are so many holes in this theory, that most skeptics have stopped trying to use it.
Second potential cause: The Disciples stole the body.
This claim has multiple problems as well. Just as with the swoon theory, how could they have overcome trained Roman guards and rolled the massive stone away? Also, what would they have done with the body? Someone would have eventually noticed or told where the body was being hidden. And why would they have done this? They had no motive. They were all cowering in fear that they would be crucified as well. It’s also important to note that no one in history ever denied that the tomb was empty. They just tried to come up with reasons other than that Jesus had been raised from the dead. They are still trying this in our day. The Romans even passed a law after this criminalizing body thefts. Why would they care if this happened? Because the missing body of Jesus caused them quite a bit of trouble.
Third potential cause: Hallucination
Many skeptics claim that the disciples hallucinated that Jesus had risen. They were so convinced that Jesus would rise that they tricked themselves into thinking this happened. Again, we have problems. Hallucinations occur to individuals, not groups of people. Jesus appeared to multiple people at multiple locations, on multiple occasions. 1 Corinthians 15 records that Jesus appeared to 500 people at once! Paul basically said, “these witnesses are still alive. Go ask them what happened!” And another problem for skeptics is the empty tomb. Even if they were hallucinating, you still have to explain the empty tomb.
Fourth potential cause: The Disciples lied
Another claim is that the Disciples lied. Why would they lie? What would be their motive? They gained nothing from lying. They were ostracized, beaten, tortured, persecuted and martyred for this claim. They would have been better off lying and saying that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead! And, again, what about the empty tomb?
Fifth potential cause: Jesus really rose from the dead.
This is the claim that skeptics cannot bring themselves to consider. Jesus really rose from the dead. But if you use the process of elimination, the other causes fail time and time again. Like the Mrs. Jones’ generator, all other potential causes have been eliminated. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead provides the best explanation to the events surrounding His death. This makes the best sense of the empty tomb, the devotion of the Disciples and the multitude of appearances.
The swoon theory, the stolen body theory, the hallucination theory, and the claim that the Disciples lied quickly fail upon careful examination. The process of elimination leaves only the truth that Jesus rose from the dead. Place your faith in Him today.
Every Saturday in the fall, college football fans migrate to their favorite team’s campus in hopes of a victory. I come from Bulldog country and the red and black runs deep. My wife and I recently started taking our young twin girls on these journeys and it’s been a joy to watch the events unfold through their eyes.
Parking is usually difficult in Athens, but, this past season, some friends of ours let us park at their son’s rental house which was a short walk from the stadium. The walk to the stadium is a series of sidewalks, stairways, and parking lots, and it was interesting at times to navigate with a pair of wild twin girls.
Like most 6 year old girls, our twins don’t pay much attention to the dangers along the way. One step in the wrong direction and they would be in the path of a oncoming car. I found myself repeatedly correcting my girls’ path. As we walked along the sidewalks, I would nudge them one direction, or place my hands on their shoulders to point them in the right way. They wouldn’t make it very far without their father’s guiding hand.
While walking along this path on that cool fall day in Athens, my thoughts turned to my Heavenly Father and how he guides us in a similar way. How many times have I strayed from the path he has laid before me? How many times have I drifted carelessly into harms way? And yet, the divine nudge comes and a loving hand touches my shoulders. It’s comforting to know that our Father lets us freely walk but He gently guides us along the way to the destination he has for us.
There were times along the walk that one or both of my girls would reach up and grab my hand. They fully yielded to my control knowing that I would keep them safe. What joy it brought to my heart to see their trust in me. How much more joy must it bring to Father God when we take his hand and yield to His full control. He will never lead us in a path that is not best for us. And, yet, we so often resist. Why must it be so?
It’s true on a Saturday in Athens and it’s true in the walk of life. It’s always best to trust the Father’s guiding hand.
“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”
“Can I sit with you?” It’s phrase I’ve heard hundreds of times in the past few years. I usually hear it at a restaurant near the end of a meal. It’s a request that comes from one if not both of my twin daughters. They love to snuggle and sit in the lap of my wife and I, even though they are quickly growing up. They turned 7 in March.
We usually enforce the rule that we have to finish eating before they can sit with us. It’s difficult to eat with one or two seven year olds sitting between you and your food and vying for your attention. But sometimes I break my own rule. They won’t be this little for ever.
We have a meal every Wednesday at church before the service, and inevitably, I hear the phrase once again. “Can I sit with you?” It’s usually from Mattie, and she works as hard as she can to get and keep my attention. Her and her sister love their daddy.
Why do they do this? They do it because they love their parents so much and they long to be close to us and gain our attention and affection.
I was thinking about this common occurrence the other day when James 4:8 came to mind: “Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you.” Just as my girls long to be close to their daddy, how much more should we desire this with our Heavenly Father? When was the last time you asked God “Can I sit with you?”
Yet, we’ve grown up too fast. We’ve moved on from the childlike wonder and awe of our loving Father. We run to and fro and fill our lives with things that, for the most part, don’t matter, when all our Father wants is for us to sit with Him for a while.
How long has it been since you sat in your Father’s lap for a while and vied for His attention? How long has it been since you have sat and read His Word and longed to know Him better? How long has it been that you just wanted to spend time with Him just because you love Him so much?
One day my girls will grow up and they won’t sit in my lap any more. They’ll move on with their lives, but I hope and pray they’ll always long to sit with their daddy. I try hard to cherish each “Can I sit with you” because I never know when the last one may come.
We may grow too old to sit in our earthly father’s lap, but, praise God, we’re never too old to crawl into the lap of our Heavenly Father, lay our head on His chest and spend time with Him. He has promised to return our affection if we will just draw nigh unto Him. He won’t force His love on us. He only grants it when we ask. Seek His love today.
Luke 2:17-20King James Version (KJV)
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. I always wondered at the meaning of this passage. The Christ child had just been born, angels filled the night sky, and news spread everywhere of this miraculous event. Excitement was all around. And Mary? She kept these things and pondered them in her heart. Why? Of all people she should be proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah and Savior of the world. Yet she keeps and ponders the truth in her heart.
Think for a moment. Place yourselves in Mary’s circumstances. She knew it was all true. She knew the Savior has been born. All others involved were only retelling a truth that they had heard. Even Joseph was told what was happening by the angel. But Mary knew it was true in her heart. She had the truth born in her. Only she truly knew she was a virgin. All others could only speculate. The fact that they couldn’t stay in the inn may have been related to the stigma of a woman pregnant out of wedlock.
But she knew the truth. From the first morning sickness to the birth in a manger, she knew. The Messiah had come.
Consider for a moment:
1. The Truth was conceived in her
The shepherds. Joseph. The townspeople. They all spoke of a truth that they had not experienced. So it is in the world today. Countless books have been written. Scholars have studied it for ages. But the truth is not in them. Mary had the truth come alive in her.
So it is for for those saved in Christ. The truth has come alive in us. New life came into us when we believed on the Son of God. We know it’s true because the truth is alive in us. The Truth is alive in our hearts. “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.”
2. The Truth grew in her
With each passing week, the Child grew inside her. The reality of the virgin birth became more and more clear as the birth grew near. From the angel’s visit to the manger, the Truth grew.
So it is inside the redeemed. At salvation, new life is conceived within us. But it doesn’t stop there. It grows. With each passing year, the Truth grows in those that trust in Christ. He becomes more real and more true as time passes.
3. The Truth was born out of her
The holy night finally arrived and the Christ child was born. The Truth had grown to the point that her body could contain him no more. He had to come forth.
Again we see the parallel. When the Truth is conceived in us, it grows until we can’t contain it anymore. The goodness and grace of our Savior overflows. Our hearts are full.
We may tell the story as the shepherds and angels but the Truth can only be known once it is conceived in our hearts. Many great arguments have been made in favor of the truth of Christianity, but it can only be fully known when it is conceived, grown and born in our hearts.
May we, as Mary, keep and ponder these things in our hearts this Christmas
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I recently found out how true this was on a missions trip to Brazil. It was a trip with the purpose of laying block for a new church building. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. What made it more significant was the fact that I had never flown before.
The day to leave quickly approached and I made all the preparations to leave. We were scheduled to meet at the church at four in the morning and I set my clock for three. My alarm went off quickly since packing and nerves kept me up until midnight.
My wife instructed me to wake her up where she could tell me goodbye. The hardest part of the trip was not the nine hour flight, or the strenuous labor involved in laying block. The hardest part was saying goodbye.
We embraced each other tightly and the tears began to flow. It was the hardest thing to let go. Then, I stepped into my twin baby girls’ room to see them before I left. They were only seventeen months old and they were sleeping soundly. The tears flowed once more.
I said another goodbye to my wife and got into my truck to leave for the church.
Upon arriving at the airport in Brazil, I was pleased to learn that they had free wifi. I was able to send my wife a few texts via iMessage before we left for a two hour bus ride. It was nice to make contact with home.
There was also wifi at the missionary’s house and I was able to FaceTime my wife and girls with my iPad. The girls loved seeing their daddy’s face.
As enjoyable as the trip was, I was eager to be with my girls again. The whole experience brought new meaning to “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
This experience brought to my mind the departure of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It says in Acts 1:
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”
And in John:
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”
If I was missing my family and so full of eagerness to see them, I can only imagine the desire Jesus has to be with His children. I was gone for 9 days. Jesus has been gone for 2000 years.
And I know that the tremendous love I have for my family pales in comparison to the infinite love Jesus has for us. He must long to be with us more than we can imagine. I know He desires to return soon.
Even so come, Lord Jesus
M&M Moments is a new segment that I’m starting in my blog to chronicle our various adventures with our twin girls Mattie and Macie. They have just turned a year old and they are surprising us daily with new tricks. The latest accomplishment was Macie taking her first steps. Mattie has been walking for a while now, but Macie hadn’t tried too much. She was always too busy playing to worry about walking. Crawling worked just fine for her.
We have been helping Macie walk by holding her hands while she takes a few steps. She would get so excited, but she was too nervous to venture out on her own. Then, all of a sudden, she started taking a few steps, and, this past Sunday at church, she walked in the lobby. I was so proud of her. Macie still hasn’t quite perfected the art of walking, but she’s working on it.
Raising children constantly reminds me of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Just as I work with my sweet girls in basic things like walking and talking, God is working with me to teach me how to grow as His child. I was so proud of Macie walking, and I can imagine God being proud of us when we finally grasp some spiritual lesson that He was trying to teach us.
Sometimes we think we are pretty good the way we are, but God is always trying to lead us closer to perfection. Macie was perfectly content crawling from one place to another, but she didn’t know the possibilities that walking would open up to her. We hold on to our opinions and methods, but God has a better way. God desires the best for us and He just might be leading you to a better Christian walk. We just need to let go and trust Him.
Walking seems such a simple task, but it’s a huge accomplishment for a one year old. With time Macie will perfect her walk. She’ll progress from toddling behind us to running and skipping in the back yard. Her walk will carry her to school, to her first job, and on to college. One day her walk will lead her down the aisle to meet her groom.
One day our walk in this life will end and we will begin a new walk as we stroll down the aisles of Heaven with our bridegroom Jesus. Along the way, He’ll perfect our walk day by day.
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” – Colossians 1:9-11
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” – Ephesians 5:26
I was so excited when my new work boots arrived. I had purchased them online and saved a lot of money in doing so. I even wore them to church the Sunday after they arrived. I was so proud of them.
Then the inevitable happened. They got dirty. Yes, it’s true. Work boots get dirty.
What made matters worse was that I bought these boots in the spring and it was full blown pollen season in the south. Northerners have snow. Southerners have pollen. Every step I took stirred up a storm cloud of pollen. They were coated every day when I came home. No matter how careful I was, they still got dirty.
I then took the step that made the most sense. I read the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance. They said to wipe them down with a wet cloth to remove the dust and then apply mink oil. It’s a process that I have to go through daily to keep the boots in good shape. I usually wipe them down daily, then apply the oil as needed.
God told us in His Word that He would cleanse us by the water of His Word. As we go into the world from day to day, we accumulate dirt and filth with each step we take. From the provocative magazine on the grocery store shelf, to the profanity from the lips of a coworker, we pick up the filth of this world whether we like it or not. We need to be cleansed every day.
Just as my boots will dry out and fall apart without cleaning, we will eventually succumb to the filth of this world if we don’t wash ourselves daily.
We hear it so much that it seems to simple. Read your Bible and pray. This is the basic instructions for the Christian walk, but how many of us fail in these simple tasks? Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Most us of don’t even spend three minutes in prayer.
We must combat the filth of this world with the Word of God. Have lustful thoughts pressed upon your mind because of the revealing images plastered everywhere we go? Find a verse to cleanse you. Try Job 31:1: “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” Maybe some thoughtless person has filled you with anger. “Be ye angry, and sin not” Ephesians 4:26. God has a word for every situation.
Then we must be led by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is represented in the Bible by oil. Jesus said in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Anointing was done with oil.
Oil was used for anointing. The Holy Spirit anoints us for the tasks God wants us to perform. Oil was also used for lighting lamps. We need the Holy Spirit to keep our lights shining brightly in this world. We are filled by the Spirit by prayer and Bible reading. You are filled with what you pour into yourself. We need more of Bible than world inside of us.
The Word keeps us clean, the Holy Spirit keeps us soft and useable. If we are to be effective in this filthy world, we must apply the water and the oil to our lives. Combined with prayer, God can work through us day by day.