Secular Humanism and Christianity

What is Secular Humanism?

There is something universal about humanity. All across the globe no matter how isolated, we want to believe there is something greater than ourselves. This desire within us represents the natural belief in God, although many choose to deny his existence and instead choose to put their faith in something other than a creator. Secular humanists are not different. Secular humanism is the belief that all life developed by a series of cosmic accidents. Secular humanism is the belief that all matter has existed infinitely and that life was allowed to form over time as combinations of building blocks formed more complex systems (Weider p.55). Secular humanists believe this same evolutionary process eventually led to mankind’s evolution.

In secular humanism our character and consciousness is the product of chemical and biological exchanges and there is no other driving force creating individuality than these combinations and life experience (Secularism: A Religious Profile from International Students p.2). Secular humanist believe mankind to be a more highly evolved animal that holds no greater value than the rest of earth’s inhabitants (Weider  p.57). And so a humanist’s faith must be placed in mankind and their hope is that by becoming more enlightened we can create paradise in this life.

Secular humanists believe that mankind’s existence holds no purpose and that it is left up to the individual to create value in their own life (Weider p.59). From a secular humanist point-of-view it is only by our desire to leave a legacy and lasting impact that our lives are given meaning. They believe we exist simply due to evolutionary chance and other than the desire to survive and leave a legacy we have no purpose.

Secular humanism rejects the idea of God and of an absolute moral standard. To the secular humanist morality is relative to the individual or society and can change based on many factors (Weider p.61). Secular humanists believe mankind is morally good, and would pursue goodness if it is properly taught (Secularism: A Religious Profile from International Students p.3). However by this belief is it difficult to determine how a person should live. Some believe morality is up to the person, and some might argue it is up to the society. Secular humanism’s rejection of absolute morality makes it very difficult to determine right from wrong.

For secular humanist the answers to questions about life after death are simple, when you die life is over. They believe there is no life after death. The humanist belief is that the only thing that comes after death is your legacy (Weider p.63). Secular humanists believe the only judge of a person will be those left behind and how they will remember them. For this very reason many secular humanists put much effort in meaningful activities they can be remembered for.

What does Christianity Teach About Mankind?

Christians believe God existed before anything else. He created our world from nothing (Genesis 1:1). The matter that makes up all physical things did not exist before God began creation (Weider p.56). Life did not evolve over millions of years, but was spoken into existence in the span of six days (Genesis 1:31). Man was created by God on the sixth day after He had created the land animals. The Christian Bible says mankind was made in God’s image, he was formed from the ground, and God breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7).

Christians believe God created mankind different from the animals (Weider p.58). The first man, Adam, was not spoken into existence like the rest of the living creatures. He was shaped after his creator and given life from the Creator’s own breath. Christianity teaches that the earth and all life were created for mankind to enjoy. God instructed Adam to work the ground and gave him responsibility over the animals (Genesis 1:28). Christian’s believe human attributes, that make us different from the animals, are attributed to our Creator making us like Himself. Christians believe we have a God-given responsibility to take care of His creation (Weider p.58).

Christians believe we were created for the sole purpose of relationship; specifically, a relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5:15). Christians reject the notion of life being an accident and instead embrace that God created us for this purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). Christians believe life to be something special created by God and nurtured so that we would pursue our maker and that is why we exist (Weider p.60).

To the Christian God has chosen right from wrong, and the distinction is absolute (Weider p.62). Christians believe man is inherently evil, due to the fall of mankind, and corrupted by a sin nature that separates us from God. Christians believe God has taught the difference between right and wrong by both natural (Romans 2:14-15) and special revelation (Exodus 20:1-17), but we choose to rebel against Him because of our sin nature (Matthew 15:18-19). Christians believe it is impossible for mankind to overcome our sinfulness, and it is only by the redeeming work of Christ Jesus that we are able to be restored to God. After this restoration, our desires begin to change and we want to live more like Jesus. Only after a new birth, we begin to seek living a life that is pleasing to God (Galatians 5:22-25).

Christians believe God has promised an existence after this life. Jesus taught that he would leave his followers to return to God and that he would prepare a place for them to live for eternity (John 14:2-3). Christians believe those who put their trust in the redeeming work of Jesus, will spend eternity living in the presence of God in his heavenly home. However, for those who reject the work of Jesus there will be eternal punishment separated from God. Those who reject God will be sentenced with the fallen angels in the eternal prison known as Hell (Hebrews 9:27-28). Christians believe they will be held to answer for their lives at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is there that all believers will give account of their lives and be rewarded for their faithfulness to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27). However, Christians believe the unbeliever will face condemnation at the Great White Thrown Judgment for their unbelief. The point here is that a Christian believes they have been given a desire by God to live a righteous life and there are rewards for doing so. The desire to please God only comes from salvation (Weider p.64).

References:

Weider, L. and Gutierrez, B. (2011). Consider. Bel Air, MD: Acedemx.

Halverson, D. (2005). Secularism: A Religious Profile from International Students. Colorado Springs, CO: International Students, Inc.

Christmas, Powered by the Holy Spirit

dove-object-black2

dove-object-black2 (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18

We are considering taking down our Christmas decorations today or tomorrow, all of the gifts are open and lying around the house, and leftovers are chilling in the fridge. Today is December 27th and Christmas is over. It is always a whirl wind, that began in November. Every year we try to keep the meaning of the celebration in our hearts, but our attention is often loss to our societies Christmas traditions.

The opening to Matthew’s Gospel gets to the point quickly. Jesus was not just another teacher of the law, he wasn’t a charismatic speaker (in fact, many of his sermons ran people off), nor was he just a prophet who performed many miracles. Matthew informs us that Jesus came to earth not by the consummation of Mary and Joseph’s marriage, but by the work of the Holy Spirit

Christmas lights 2010

Christmas lights 2010 Source wikipedia.org

This may have seemed odd to those around Mary and Joseph. I would imagine few believed them; after all, it took a visit from an angel for Joseph to believe. But Jesus’ miraculous conception is just as important to his ministry’s work as his eventual death on the cross. Had Jesus been born the son of Joseph and not of God, his death would not have been the sacrifice that redeemed mankind from our rebellion. Jesus’ conception MUST be the direct work of God or he would have been born into the same debt if rebellion we all are. His very flesh would have been tainted by the blemishes caused by sin.

Jesus’ carnal body was the result of God’s work. In fact, the entire process of salvation has and must be orchestrated by God. We in our sinful state are so far from God that without his intervention we would stay lost in our sins. But God’s love for us is so great he sent his Son to earth by the consummation of humanity and the Holy Spirit to be light in the darkness. Jesus came to light the way for mankind’s hearts to God. He came so that we might know God as our father.

Christmas may be over, but for those of us who are disciples of Jesus celebrate God’s plan of salvation all year. Without the miracle of his birth his death on the cross would not have resulted in his resurrection, and without the resurrection of Jesus we would still be lost in our sins.

It Is Said…

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Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’ ”

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the L ord your God and serve only him.’ ”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the L ord your God.’ ”

When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

Luke 4:1-13

In the beginning of his ministry, Jesus spent forty days being tempted in the wilderness. Luke says that the Spirit leads Jesus to this confrontation beyond the Jordan River.

There are a few things that intrigue me about this passage of scripture. But what I wonder most are the three Hebrew texts that Jesus quotes during his temptation.

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” Luke 4:4 ESV

And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” Luke 4:8 ESV

The first thing I learn from this account is that Jesus’ response to temptation is found in scripture. He doesn’t try to argue with the devil, he exposes the deceiver’s lies with truth. Jesus had been fasting for FORTY days in preparation of the next three years Satan says why don’t you make bread from these rocks. Often when we set out to follow God we are faced with opposition and temptation. Satan was trying to step in the way of Jesus’ ministry. Then he offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow and worship him. Lastly, Satan instructs Jesus to challenge God’s authority and test him by throwing himself from the top of Jerusalem’s temple.

In this very strange journey from the desert, to the top of the world, to the top of the Temple; Jesus does not waver in his devotion to God the Father.

When I am tempted, I do not always turn to scripture first. But it was the response of the Son of God. He tries no vain attempts to argue with Satan. He simples states truth. Next time you find yourself tempted instead of relying on your own abilities looked to God’s Word for strength.

God Will Uphold You!

Image Source: gracebc.org

Last year I had an opportunity to speak with our church’s children’s ministry at camp Ba Yo Ca for their Camp Extreme event. It was a lot of fun, and only the second time I spoke before a group of children between the ages of 5 and 11. It was probably too lengthy for their age but they were troopers and hung in there with me. I was reading over my notes today and thought it was worth sharing. It was a blessing to me and I hope God uses it to bless you. I was trying something different with my sermons back then. I wrote it out like a speech and practiced it. When I got on site there was nowhere to put my notes, so instead I had a “talk” with them. I believe a “talk” is a better format for my character, and I have since canned the speech writing approach.

Introduction: 

What has been your favorite part of camp so far? 

Hello my name is Mitch; I have been a follower of Jesus Christ since I was 12 years old.  I grew up in Church for most of my life.  I am very excited to have this opportunity to speak with you this evening because I get to talk with you about God.  I love to share about God.   

Let’s take a few minutes to see what God’s Word says about when life gets tough.

 

The theme for Camp Extreme comes from Isaiah chapter 41:10.  It says, 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

Tonight we are looking at part of this verse that says, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

Have you ever had to trust God when it was really tough?  I know that in your small groups today you shared some of the tough things that you have gone through in the past or maybe things that you are going through now.  It is a hard fact of life, Life gets tough. 

 In your groups you talked about there being different degrees of tough times. 

Here are some examples from my life.  I remember when I was little, I mean really little, and I lost my favorite stuffed bear.  This was my favorite toy that I played with everyday, and drug around everywhere I went.  I eventually found him hiding in an old mailbox from where we had been playing hide and seek a few days earlier. 

Some things are a little more serious.  Growing up I only got to see my Dad every other weekend.  When I was two years old my parents separated and divorced.  Growing up seeing my Dad only every other weekend was tough.   

When I was in Middle School I had surgery to correct a heart defect that had threatened my life up until that day!   

These are some tough times that I have gone through in my life, and I am sure many of you have dealt with tough times.  How many of you would agree that life gets tough?   

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life that I could never have gotten through without help from God.  I didn’t know God when I lost my stuffed bear, or when my parents divorced.  But I had been saved for a few months when my heart surgery came around.  I can tell you that there was a lot of fear, and worry going on.  But as the date came closer…I felt God’s love and protection on me.  I knew that no matter what happened I believed in a God who was greater than my circumstances.  I am here today to tell you that God is strong enough to uphold you.   

When I tell you that God will uphold you, or that He is strong enough I am telling you that you can trust Him.  Maybe that raises some questions for you.

 

Like, why should I trust God? 

If you trust God then you believe in His promises even if you can not see that God’s promises are coming true.  Maybe you hear people talk about faith, this is what faith is. 

When someone asks us to trust them we have to make a decision to respond in one of two ways.  We can either say, “Ok, I trust you” or “Why should I trust you?” 

Why should we trust God?  How do we learn to trust God?  We can learn to trust God by getting to know Him. 

Number 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?” 

God never lies, and he always keeps his promises.  God never lies!  When you read through the Bible you will find that God has offered us many promises! 

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

God promises us that if we do not worry about things, but pray and thank Him for being with us: then He will give us peace!  

The more we experience God the more we will learn to trust Him.  

Not only is God worthy of our trust because he always keeps His promises and never lies, but he is also worthy because He is in complete control.  There is nothing and no one who is outside of His influence.  No matter what tough situation you are in, God is still in control.  God does not hand over his control under any circumstances.  He is the God who created everything that we know, and things that we haven’t seen yet!  He was there in the beginning, and He set all of the rules

Isaiah 40:12  “Did any of you measure the ocean by yourself or stretch out the sky with your own hands?  Did you put the soil of the earth in a bucket or weigh the hills and mountains on balance scales?”  I mean really think about it, who else can we trust? 

Allow me to share a story from the Bible.  The main character of this story trusted God even though his situations kept getting worse.

Story of Joseph

17 years old

He was his father’s favorite (coat)

His brothers hated him

Joseph shares his dreams (wheat, sun moon and stars)

Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him

They sold him into slavery

He was bought by Potiphar

God blessed him, and Potiphar made him in command of his home

Potiphar’s wife tried to make Joseph do wicked things

She lied when Joseph refused

Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison

God blessed Joseph in prison and the prison guard put him in command of the prison

Joseph meets the Pharaoh’s cup bearer in prison

Joseph interrupts cup bearer’s dream

Cup bearer tells Pharaoh of Joseph

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream (7 fat and 7 skinny cows)

Pharaoh puts Joseph second in control of Egypt

Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for food

Joseph tests his brothers and is reunited with his family

Joseph never gave up on God, and God never gave up on Him.  God had a plan, and those tough times that Joseph went through were all part of God’s plan to not only lift him up to the second highest position in the known world but also to save his family, and even to build a nation.  See Joseph’s family goes on to become the Hebrew that Moses leads to the Holy Land.  The same people who later become the nation of Israel, the very same nation that God used to bring the Messiah for all of the world!  Joseph was willing to trust God through the tough times.

Colossians 1:11, “Then God will strengthen you with His own great power.  And you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.”  

I bet Joseph didn’t have a clue that because of his trust in God through the tough times, we are able to love God in a way that Joseph never dreamed of.  We have been restored to the original relationship that Adam and Eve experienced with God. 

God has a plan for your life too!  Isn’t that Awesome!?  God had a plan for Joseph, and he has a plan for each and every one of us!  Sometimes it doesn’t look like God is still in control in Joseph’s life.  And sometimes it seems like what we are going through can’t be God’s plan.  Romans 8:28 tells us,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Always remember that He has a plan Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you” says the LORD.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

How Do We Respond? 

As you get to know God you will realize that you can trust Him.  He has promised to do good works through us.  Sometimes it seems like life is too tough, and that God has lost control.  But always remember, God is still doing a good work.  And sometimes the hard times are preparing us for what God has in store for us.  

God’s Word tells us to bring all of our cares and worries to Him.  Jesus said that He was strong enough to take on all of your burdens.  

Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

 

Before God

 

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1, 2

Have you ever wondered why God chose Isaac to test Abraham’s faith? God could have tested Abraham through his wife, his herds, or his possessions (think of the rich young ruler who Jesus spoke with). But God asked for Abraham’s son. The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us Abraham’s faith was made evident by his willingness to sacrifice his Promised Son.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:17-19

Abraham and Sarah, his wife, were very old when she at last gave birth to Isaac. I believe Abraham became overwhelmed by his love for the son that God promised him so many years before. If you have children you may have an idea of what Abraham was experiencing. I remember holding my first-born daughter just a few minutes after she was born. As she lay in my arms and looked into her eyes I became captivated by my love for her. In fact, it has been difficult to keep my love for her in check.

Allow me a moment to explain. I am a firm believer that the best way to love my daughter(s) is to love my wife unconditionally. It is easy to love both of my daughters. I find it more difficult to put my wife’s needs or desires before my own and those of my daughters. But my little girls need to see me put my wife before the rest of us. Sometimes I struggle with this, and sometimes I believe we do this to God. My love for my family can sometimes creep on God’s turf in my heart.

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Abraham went through something similar. He finally had this son, and his love for his son began to take over his life. This son was the manifestation of God’s promise in Abraham’s life. This son quickly became Abraham’s everything. And God would not take a backseat to Isaac in Abraham’s heart. So he called Abraham to sacrifice his son.

I try to imagine what Abraham went through as he travelled knowing what he was being asked to do. The thoughts Abraham must have been thinking as he watched his son on this short pilgrimage. It tears at my heart to think of what I would do if God called me to do the very same thing.

We can often put others and even objects before God. The biblical account of Abraham’s test of faith is a reminder to us that we should never allow anyone or anything to become more important in our lives than God. God was willing to sacrifice his son so we could become his children. His love for us is greater than our love for anyone, and we can only learn to love by learning from him. We can love our families best when we love God first.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:25-34

It has been almost two years since my wife gave birth to our daughter. We were supposed to be at the hospital at midnight, but a winter ice storm was moving in, so we left before 10 pm. I was pretty nervous as we pulled onto our street. It had already started sleeting and the road was already becoming slick. The drive was uneventful, and the hospital let us go on to our room. We settled in, and by that evening I was holding my first-born.

She was born wide-eyed

Alexis Grace was born with her eyes wide open. She seemed eager to experience the world. At twenty-two months, she still sees the world as that wide-eyed little girl. We went to the park today and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather that east Tennessee is experiencing. It was a fun day of slides, bubbles, swings, squirrels and a walk through the woods.

In about thirty hours my wife and I are headed to the hospital to meet our newest little girl (that is if she doesn’t decide to come earlier), Paisley Isabella. For the past few weeks we have been getting things ready in our home for our new arrival. Alexis has moved from the crib to her Big Girl Bed. I have heard her say, “I am a big girl!” enough to almost make me cry. The crib is ready for Paisley, she has a new rocker, the infant car seat is installed into the Mommy-mobile, and all of the cameras have fresh batteries. We are set… except I need to pack my bag.

Today I have been thinking about those first few moments after Alexis’ birth. Her eyes were so large, and she was looking so intently into my eyes. I remember melting all at once. I remember bringing her home for the first time. And I remember the first time I brought her downstairs for a midnight feeding. She was still learning how to eat (if you haven’t had a child maybe you don’t know this, but they have a hard time figuring this out), and I had a little scare as she became choked. I had a moment of panic and started to worry. After she spit-up (they do that a lot in the beginning too) and everything was okay I sat there holding my 5 pound little girl, and began to marvel at how much God takes care of me. Seeing her vulnerability and reliance on me made me look at my relationship with God in a completely new light. Before that moment I still tried to do things on my own. I don’t know if I would have admitted it, but I was very self-reliant. But after that night, I understood how much I needed God.

Last week in our small group I had the opportunity to speak with my eighth grade young men about how fragile life is. In our city a high school student recently collapsed on his school’s gym floor because his heart stopped! The coach quickly administered CPR, but had he not been there this young man would have died that day. Our lives are fragile. There is so much outside of our control that keeps us alive. I explained to them how God is not only our creator but our sustainer.

There is no need in worrying, for God is in control. There is no need in anxiety, God cares for you. I can rest at night knowing that if my life were to end, God has promised me an eternal presence in His Kingdom. Not because I am good, not because I am worthy, but because he loves me. I know that God loves me because he sent his son from Heaven to share himself with us. I have been asked why Jesus’ death would be necessary for man’s salvation. The person asking felt that it was ridiculous that God would ask such a thing when he could have given any requirement that he saw fit. Jesus died so that we would know how much God loves us, and knowing that God loves us that much we then get to decide if we will love him back.

Re-read the account of Jesus’ teaching as it was written by a former tax collector. And remember, you do not have to live a life of worry.

The Narrow Way

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13, 14

Some people think Christians take pleasure in these verses. They believe we carry them around like a badge. The reality is that as believers in Christ Jesus these verses should scare us to our very cores. Jesus says that many will choose the way that leads to destruction, but few will follow the path that leads to life. Have you ever stopped to think of what salvation is? I explained it to a friend the other day; this is basically what I said,

“God created this world as a beginning for our eternity. He created mankind to love, but he has given each and every one of us the ability to choose acceptance of his love or to reject it. Those who choose God’s love will one day be snatched away from this temporal zone, and experience the perfected life that God has always planned for us in his presence. However, those who do not choose God’s love will not be permitted into everlasting perfection. Instead they will be placed with the rebellious angels and Satan in the abyss. All of this… this is just the beginning. This isn’t real.”

Have you seen the movie The Matrix? The lead character, Neo, is offered a choice. Continue his existence as it is, or experience real life. All he had to do was take a red pill. Our faith is not all that different from the red pill of The Matrix. Believing faith in the Lord Jesus’ sacrificial atonement for our sin will open our eyes to the real world, and allow us to escape that which is not. But Jesus taught that only a few would accept this faith, but many would follow the path that leads them to destruction. Even worse, Jesus knew that some would take his offer and corrupt it. Creating something just as terrible, but also deceptive.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Do you assume that everyone who attends worship service on a regular basis at your church is a follower of Christ? Do you ever look over the crowd and wonder who has placed their eternal livelihood in the hands of Jesus? Sometimes I sit in the balcony at my church and I look over the crowd. I wonder if Billy Graham is correct in his assertion that only 15-25 percent of those attending church on Sunday are actual born again believers in Jesus. Can it be that all these people standing during this worship set, with arms lifted high, eyes closed,… could they still be lost in their sins?

Reading Jesus’ words… it should wake us up. How can we go-about church “as normal” knowing many will miss the narrow way that leads to life? We can’t. Jesus spent all of his time, all of his effort trying to share the Gospel with the world around him. He made sure that every interaction, every conversation was an opportunity to share God’s love with those who were around him. This is the job he has given the church. This is our calling. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, a teacher, a deacon, if you care for the infants at your church, if you are a lawyer, a CPA, a dentist, a mechanic, a shoe salesman, work at a fast food restaurant, are on a football team, basketball team, soccer team, or if you are a student in school your calling is to be God’s witness to those around you. Your appointment as a believer in Jesus Christ is that of an ambassador. You have been entrusted with sharing the good news of Jesus with everyone around you. We have all been given this responsibility. Not that you must preach from the street corners, but that you are to model your life after our savior and allow his love to flow out into the world around you. You… We have been shown the way, and it is our responsibility to point others in the right direction.

I Need A Shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11

If you were raised in church, or maybe you have been attending a church recently, you may have heard the analogy of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. This isn’t some imagery the church has crafted because it is cute. Jesus identified himself as our Good Shepherd (of course he also identified himself as the sheep gate, but he was working a tough crowd).

Overgrown path

Overgrown path (Photo credit: Martin Dixon)

Life has become pretty unstable recently. Not all in a bad way, but things seem to be really crazy in my life. There are some concerns at work (if you are not experiencing concerns at work I thank God for your good fortune!), I am having difficulty staying ahead of my coursework this semester, our family has experienced what seems like two months of sickness, I am struggling with the time I have to devote to ministry, and our second daughter is due in two weeks! Right now, in my life, I could use a shepherd. I know some people view religion as a crutch, and we often try to explain that away. But sometimes, when life gets tiring, I am glad that I have a Good Shepherd willing to lead me.

Life is too crazy and too fast paced to simply wander aimlessly. I want my life to be filled with purpose. And I know that Jesus is the shepherd to continue guiding me to that purpose. I am thankful for his guidance in my life, and for all of the ways he leads me in a direction I sometimes question. The path occasionally looks intimidating (He once led his disciples into a storm!), but I recognize my shepherd knows where he is guiding me. And I know that his destination for me is far greater than anything I could envision on my own.

Are We Intentional?

And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water.

Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

John 4:4-15

There is so much to be learned from the account of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. One of the first things to grab me about this encounter is Jesus’ intentionality in his ministry.

Flowing water in Jotunheimen

Flowing water From: http://www.flickr.com/

I do not believe it was by accident Jesus chose to stop at Sychar nor was it a coincidence that he stopped at the well of Jacob. Jesus waited at the well at the warmest time of the day! And he waited there for this woman to come to the well. John tells us in his writing that Jesus’ disciples had left him to buy food in town. So Jesus is alone, at the well, during a time in the day people do not go to retrieve water.

Every journey, every path, every foot step of Jesus’ ministry was intentional. He didn’t bump into this woman at the well by accident, He was there by divine appointment. He was there to meet this woman.

Are we intentional in the ministries that God has trusted us with? Are we constantly seeking to share Christ’s love in our homes, at our work, at school, at the supermarket, the ball field, or even in the fast food line? We may not have Jesus’ supernatural timing, but we should try to be intentional with every moment? Are we aware of the opportunities that pass us every single day?

Just like Jesus we have Living Water to share with thirsty people. We should always be intentional when it comes to looking for those who thirst.

Was Jesus Married?

A few years ago when Dan Brown‘s book The Da Vinci Code was being made into a movie, I remember learning of this discussion by the major news media. At the time it had caught me off guard. I enjoy learning about my faith, and I had never heard a discussion regarding whether Jesus was married or not. Once I began to ponder the question, new questions formulated in my mind. “Why wouldn’t Jesus have married?” “Is there any conflict created if Jesus had been married?” “Would Jesus being married change my faith?”

Cover of "The Da Vinci Code (Two-Disc Ext...

Cover via Amazon

Recently the question has resurfaced. Yesterday morning one of my local television channel’s posted a link on Facebook to this story in the Washington Post. And by that afternoon media sites all over were talking about the supposed proof that Jesus was married. Here is the first article that I read:

The Washington Post – Health & Science

And the Cycle Begins Again…

It seems odd that these stories and accusation resurface so often. Those who are trying to push this view of Jesus are doing so to prove the Gospel to be false. The Bible makes no mention of Jesus being married, and I see no reason for the Bible’s omission of Jesus’ marriage unless it did not take place. The Christian faith believes marriage to a be a holy institution that was a gift to Adam and Eve and all of mankind. Jesus being married would not be sinful or destructive of the Gospel.

Not Just a Man

However, Jesus’ life had much more purpose than simply living a normal human life. Those who try to press that Jesus was married are doing so because they wish to prove that he was human and not God. In the Gospels, Jesus blatantly teaches that he is the divine Messiah, and God. Jesus came to earth to fulfill the Law and to be the sacrifice for our sins. Although a marriage would not have kept him from his work… I can’t imagine he would marry knowing the pain that his wife would go through when he died a martyr. The reason some are trying to prove that Jesus was married is because they do not want to believe that there is a God, they do not wish to believe that Jesus was divine. It does not fit into their world view to believe that Jesus was resurrected from his death and burial. They want to believe that Christianity is a fairy tale that was created to control society. They believe that if they can make Jesus a normal Jew, they can strip him of his historical importance, deny his sacrifice and resurrection, prove the Bible false, turn our early church leaders into snake-oil salesmen and finally be rid of Christianity. After all if Jesus was not divine than all who associate themselves as his followers are wasting their lives.

There are many problems to their way of thinking. One, the Bible is made up of 66 manuscripts that are THE most verifiable documents in history. Both the Old and New Testaments have been proven to be accurate by history and archeology.

Two, the early church leaders did not make up Christianity’s beginnings to control society. If they were they did a poor job of crafting the story. There is WAY too much incriminating evidence that would have been humiliating to the early church. You read stories of the disciples failures and mistakes… propaganda does not include such stories.

Three we know that Jesus lived and we know that the tales of his miracles were believed by those who hated him. His miracles and statements about being God are why he was murdered on the cross. His very execution can be seen as proof to his claims. We also know that the Romans could not explain the disappearance of his body. We know that hundred reported to have seen Jesus in his resurrection and many saw him ascend from earth.

Not Just a Good Story of a Good Man

The Gospel of Christ is not a fictional epic that was made up and passed through the centuries as a good story. It is not like the mythologies of Greece. We know that Jesus lived, died, was resurrected and ascended. With all of the accumulated knowledge and proof of the Gospel, it is laughable to say that one writing on a papyrus supposedly written during the 4th century (That is three to four hundred years after Christ by the way, for those of you using CE instead of AD). To say that one writing is as important as the volumes of information that we have from the time that contradicts what this one piece says, is asinine.

This is similar to saying that we now have proof that Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter because this past year a film was distributed that said he was. Or that John F. Kennedy started the moon race because he knew transforming robots had crash landed on the moon’s surface. Both events happened within two hundred years from present day, and both of these stories have documentation that is more easily found. .

Here is an article that was published yesterday that raises questions on the authenticity of the papyrus.

Washington Post – Fraud

Don’t allow these stories to cause you to experience an emotional reaction. These stories have two objectives. One, to place doubt in those whose faith is not yet strong. And two, to cause hateful reactions that prove Christians to be… well, hateful. Try to remain calm, and allow this news to open doors of compassion for a hurting world.

UPDATES

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