Troubleshooting Truth – Step 5 Keep Common Items In Stock

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.

Logic.

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.”

Morality.

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?”

Nature.

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.

Troubleshooting Truth – Step 3 Interview the Owner

Over my many years of troubleshooting in the electrical field, one of the first things I would do would be to interview the owner. I could glean a lot of information that could possibly shorten the repair process. “Where were you at when it happened?” “Did you do anything right before the problem occurred?” “Have you made any changes to your home?” These are a few of the types of questions I would ask.

A common scenario was that a breaker had tripped when a customer turned on a light switch. This information would help me know where to look for the problem. Usually, in this situation, I would find a problem in the related light fixtures. But, I would not have known this if I had not asked.

But what about the problem of Jesus’ claim to be God? Do we have any “homeowners” we can interview that can shed light on what happened when the life of Jesus occurred? We most certainly do. The gospels are the reliable accounts of the actual eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life. But how do we really know they are reliable? Many of the ways we know we can trust a homeowner are the same ways we can trust the gospel writers.

First, were they there? This seems to be a pretty silly question to ask a homeowner, but, if they weren’t at home when the problem occurred, then what they had to say would be of no use to us. It’s the same with the gospel writers. Were they there?

Skeptics often claim that the gospels were written centuries after the life of Jesus and the stories contained therein are exaggerated and false. But is there any truth to this? Early dating of the gospels is the easiest way to show that they were truly there. If the gospels were written immediately after the life of Jesus, then the people who wrote them were “at home” when it all happened.

There are many ways to show that the gospels were written early, but my favorite is the fact that the destruction of the temple in 70 A. D. is not mentioned in the New Testament. Why does this show early dating? Because, if it had occurred before the gospels were written, then they surely would have mentioned it. This was equivalent to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Jews of that day. Their tradition and religious lives revolved around the temple. Surely they would have wrote about it’s destruction. But they didn’t. Also, Jesus predicted that this would happen. If the gospels were written after this, they would have most certainly wrote about it to show that Jesus was correct in His prediction. Yet there is no mention of it. What can we conclude? All of the New Testament was written prior to 70 A. D. The “homeowners” were definitely home.

Second, is it their home? Here we have another silly question, but if the person living there doesn’t own the home, they probably aren’t as interested in the details of what happened. Renters usually have little invested in the home they live in.

What about the gospel writers? Did they have anything invested in the claims that they were making? They most certainly did! The decision to follow Jesus and proclaim Him as God and risen Savior led to them being ostracized, persecuted, tortured, ridiculed and killed. They had invested all to the truth of Jesus. Certainly they had a sincere belief that this was true.

Finally, what did they do when the problem occurred? The actions of the homeowner often point to the cause of the problem. This is the case in the example of the switch that we mentioned earlier.

Again, what about the gospel writers? What did they do when the problem of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus occurred?

Honestly, they scattered. They gave up and went back to the lives they knew before Jesus. Peter went back to fishing.

Then Jesus came and appeared before them. All He told them was true and His resurrection verified all of it. They went back to following Jesus with a renewed vigor that never diminished until the day they died.

This is independently verified by the Roman historian Tacitus in his work “The Annals.” He wrote concerning Nero blaming the great fire in Rome on the Christians:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Notice how he said “a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out.” This perfectly describes how the disciples gave up when Jesus died, then came back after His resurrection. Their radically changed lives are yet further proof of the truth of the gospels.

A few years ago, I went on a troubleshooting call at a local fuel terminal. I had recently been promoted at my job when a veteran supervisor had retired. He was an expert in fuel terminal systems which are extremely complex. Eager to prove myself, I attempted to solve the problem at the terminal on my own. After a few hours of frustration and failure to find the problem, I prayed to God for a solution and I asked my wife to pray. Right after that, the terminal manager, Kevin, began trying to help me. In the following conversations with him, I discovered that he knew the terminal like the back of his hand. He was there when the problem occurred, he was certainly invested in finding a solution, and he knew what the scenario was when the problem happened. With his knowledge and expertise, we quickly solved the problem. If I had only interviewed him at the beginning, I would have come to a solution much quicker.

Interviewing the homeowner is one of the most sure fire ways to solve an electrical problem and interviewing the eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus is one of the most convincing ways to discover the truth of the New Testament.

M&M Moments: Guiding Hand

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.

Psalm 31:3

M&M Moments: Can I Sit With You?

“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.

Assessing the Situation

It was a warm Friday afternoon and I was just finishing a long day at work. I was working at the local Ford dealership when I saw the clouds rolling in. I could tell by the way they looked that a bad storm was rolling in. The high clouds were moving in a different direction than the lower clouds. We took cover as the storm hit.

Shortly after the storms passed, my boss was on the phone with our local power company. He was always quick to volunteer our services after a bad storm. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then we were off to work. Trees and limbs were down everywhere and there was a lot of damage to the electrical infrastructure.

I had only been doing electrical work for a little over a year and I had no idea what I was getting into. We spent all night out rebuilding people’s electrical services where the power company could reconnect their power. I would wind up working 22 hours nonstop. The temperature was in the 70’s when the storms rolled in, and, by the time I finished working the next morning, it was snowing. It was a long night.

There are many steps to repairing electrical damage, but the first one is to assess the situation. Without doing this, we wouldn’t know what the problem was, what needed to be done to remedy they situation, what material to go pick up, and how long it would take. We would begin the demolition work while my boss went to get material. But none of it would be possible if we didn’t assess the situation.

It seems like assessing the situation would be common sense. It certainly is in the electrical field, but when it comes to the Bible, some people never seem to take this first step. They reject the Bible and Christianity before they even assess the claims it makes. They take what others say, and things they have read and never investigate it for themselves.

Such was the case for Lee Strobel, an investigative journalist for the Chicago tribune and a staunch atheist. He rejected Christianity before even giving the evidence a chance. The conversion of his wife to Christianity led him on a journey to attempt to debunk her newfound faith. The evidence he found was so overwhelming, that he converted to Christianity and is now one of its most fearless defenders.

But none of this would have taken place had he not assessed the situation.

What is the situation in the Bible that we must assess? On it’s most basic level, the situation is there is a man who claims to be God. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, son of a carpenter made the most extraordinary claims that anyone has ever made. He claimed to forgive sins, be one with God, and that he would resurrect from the dead. If someone made claims like this today, they would be labeled a madman, yet the world’s largest and most influential religion sprang forth from this carpenter.

May I challenge you to take this first step. Assess the situation. Read Jesus’ words. Start with the book of John and see what the claims are. Then do some investigating to see if these things are true. It may change your eternal destiny.

This is the first in a series of posts I will be writing entitled “Troubleshooting Truth.” In the electrical field, we troubleshoot problems in an attempt to repair a problem. The first step is to assess the situation. Even the Bible gives examples of those who investigated the claims. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:10,11

Come along with me as we troubleshoot the truth of Christianity.

M&M Moments: Clean Slate

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We recently bought our twin girls, Mattie and Macie, a set of cheap magna doodles. My wife purchased them at a local store for three dollars. The girls loved them. Mattie especially loved hers and she wanted to take it everywhere she went. She held it while she ate, took in the car and she even took it to church. She would cry if we took it away.

If you’re not familiar with the magna doodle, it is a drawing board that utilizes magnets to create an image with a special magnetic pen. As you move the pen along the surface of the board, tiny magnetic particles come to the surface to form the image you are drawing. The image can quickly be erased by sliding a plastic handle from one side to the other. Then you have a clean slate on which to draw.

The girls loved to sit in my lap and scribble on the magna doodles. I would try to draw silly characters and faces for them, but, before I could finish, they would always scribble on my drawing or move the lever to erase it. They never seemed to let me finish.

This simple story reminds me of a lesson The Lord taught me while I was having my devotions. I was studying in Exodus and ran across this passage:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.” – Exodus 34:1-4

The Lord had given the children of Israel the law written by the His own finger on tablets of stone. When Moses came down from mount Sinai to present the law, he was horrified to find Israel worshiping an idol that they had constructed. They had broken the very laws Moses came to give them. Moses threw down the tablets and destroyed them, and God judged His people.

Being a God of second chances, The Lord told Moses to chisel out two new stones and bring them up the mountain where God could write the law on them again. Moses went to God with a blank slate.

This is a perfect picture of our fallen nature. We come to God with prayers and petitions and He lays His will and way on our hearts, and, before we know it, we’ve broken God’s laws. We want our way and our agenda accomplished and seldom do we sit in the lap of God and receive His instruction. We never let Him finish. Just like my twin baby girls, we paint a primitive picture of how we want our life to be. We fail to wait and let the Divine Artist finish His masterpiece.

We need to come before God with a blank slate. We need to leave behind our selfish wants and ambitions and sit at the feet of the Master and receive His instruction. As we yield the pen, He will paint a picture more beautiful than we can conceive. Let us lay aside our list of petitions and open our ears to the wants and desires of our Heavenly Father.

Eventually, the magna doodles broke. The pens lost their tips and the handle didn’t work right anymore, and the girls have moved on to playing with other things, but I’ll never see a magna doodle again without thinking of the lesson of Moses and his blank slate. May we always come before God in this manner.

“But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” – Luke 11:28

M&M Moments: Bloody Lip

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It was a typical night at our house. Lauren was busy cooking, and I was emptying the dishwasher or doing whatever I could to help. All the while, the twins were playing under our feet. They love to play in the kitchen. They explore the cabinets where we keep their food and they play with clean dishes in the kitchen floor.

Mattie had discovered the puffs canister and was carrying it around while she toddled through the kitchen. Lauren had gone outside to check on the grill and I had turned away for a second when I heard a thud. Then I heard Mattie crying. I looked down and she was laying on the puff canister crying.

Falling is a common occurrence for toddlers, but, this time, she was really upset. I quickly picked her up into my arms to comfort her. Then I noticed something on my hand. It was blood. Mattie had cut the inside of her lip and it was bleeding.

Mattie turned out to be alright as it was just a minor cut, but the image of my daughters blood on my hand stuck with me. I didn’t like it. Seeing her hurt, especially bleeding is not something I like very much. I can’t bear the thought of my little girls being hurt.

The blood on my hand turned my thoughts to my Savior. Jesus Christ shed all His blood for you and me. And, His Father watched. His Father forsook Him. He allowed the blood of His only Son to be shed. The thought of this is too much for my feeble finite mind to comprehend.

I could never fathom allowing my daughters’ blood to be shed for anyone. No matter the cause, I couldn’t allow that to happen. No matter how good and noble the person was that required my child’s blood, I couldn’t allow it. Yet, God shed the blood of His Son for us who are the opposite of good and noble. We are full of corruption and sin.

Oh, the love of our precious God for us. To sacrifice His Son for us. What love this is.

I’ve learned a lot since becoming a father, but the one thing that has become crystal clear is the love of God. How could I ever doubt Him or the lot I’m given if He first gave me His Son. What a thought.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

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