Archive for January, 2016

Quotable Quotes

One of our goals with Arming the Saints Ministries is to help people who follow Jesus and believe in the Bible not to be discouraged by the pervasive naturalism designed to chip away at any idea of God. Some of that naturalism is fostered by a puzzling phenomenon of people clinging to Darwin’s theory of evolution despite the overwhelming evidence against it. Most of the evidence against it, by the way, is scientific evidence. When Darwin posited his theory, he expressly noted that it might not hold up through scientific examination. It hasn’t.

Nevertheless, there is an overwhelming acceptance of what I call “Darwin speak,” which is when people casually use words like “evolved” (even though, apparently, Darwin liked “descent with modification”), “adaptation,” and “natural selection.” Sometimes it’s kind of silly. I read an article about men with fat bellies, and the writer suggested that this was some sort of evolutionary modification designed to attract women to people who were seemingly good dads. Others are more nuanced and complex. But the words, phrases, and the concepts behind them all have three things in common, which are that: (1) they were first thrust upon us in our early learning; (2) they were reinforced in one-sided presentations through our high school and college years; and (3) they have, since then, been used casually but relentlessly in virtually everything we see or hear.

By the way, the problem with having this one-sided debate over such a monumental topic (how we became us, with Darwinism historically leading people away from God) occur so early in our lives is unfortunate because research seems to indicate that once we form beliefs, we rarely change our minds. In a fairly recent Boston Globe article, Joe Keohane wrote about some Michigan researchers who took some truly misinformed people – objectively wrong about various topics – and then exposed those people to corrected facts. The result? The people not only didn’t change their minds, they doubled down on their wrong beliefs. The whole thing leads to what the researchers called “backfire,” or a desire never to admit you’re wrong so as to avoid the incredibly threatening state of cognitive dissonance.

So in this blog, I won’t pretend to try to change the position of anyone already unwilling to accept the supernatural, just like I suppose they’d find it pretty difficult to change my views on naturalism, despite being educated with a healthy dose of Darwinian evolution when I was young. But to help eliminate any nagging doubts from you followers of Jesus and the Bible, I will occasionally give you two quotes. The first will be a quote that I might happen upon in the news or on television that casually uses “Darwin speak.” And the second will be a quote from somebody about Darwinism. At the very least, seeing the two quotes together will show you how pervasive the naturalist vocabulary has become in America. But hopefully, it will also give you the perspective needed to eliminate any doubts you might have about the Truth of Jesus and the Bible.

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“Darwin Speak” Quote of the Day:

 In explaining why our neural circuits of rage react faster than other circuits, the writer said, without source, “We evolved these neural circuits for survival in the wild. We still need them.”

(Doug Fields, writing for Time Magazine. I am assuming that the author really meant “evolved,” and not “adapted,” so that he meant that our neural circuits triggering rage at one point either never existed or existed to a significantly lesser extent and changed over an extremely long period of time for survival of the race).

And on the Other Side:

“I suppose that nobody will deny that it is a great misfortune if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory. But this is what has happened in biology; for a long time now people discuss evolutionary problems in a particular “Darwinian” vocabulary . . . thereby believing that they contribute to the explanation of natural events. They do not, and the sooner this is discovered, the sooner we shall be able to make real progress in our understanding of evolution.”

(Biologist Soren Lovtrup, Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth (1987), quoted in James Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard (1999)).

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It’s True. All of it.

Denise took me to Star Wars the other day, and all I can say is, WOW! We decided not only to see the movie, but to see it in HD, 3D, IMAX, etc., and it was truly amazing. I swear there was one point in the movie when some starship looked like it was literally sitting in the seat next to me. And at another point, a guy from a few rows down went out for drink or something, and I thought he was a Stormtrooper dashing across the screen. For a brief moment, life and art were one. The whole thing was almost worth the price of the popcorn, for which Denise and I had to take out a short-term loan.

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Anyway, the reason that little excursion makes it into a blog about the supernatural is because the movie itself kind of overflows with a good and evil, God and Satan sort of tale. I knew that going into it, and then Harrison Ford summed everything up. When Rey was asking Harrison’s character, Han Solo, about all the stories she had heard over the years, Han replied, “It’s true. All of it. The dark side. The Jedi. They’re real.”

It reminded me of what might happen today if someone was able to meet up with one of Jesus’ apostles, like maybe John. That person might ask, “Hey, I’ve heard all kinds of crazy stories in the Bible, and a lot of people think they’re fairy tales. What’s the deal?” At that point, I’m sure John would say, “It’s true. All of it. God. Satan. Jesus. The supernatural. They’re real.”

But all of that begs the question, which has been posed most forcefully by Del Tackett from the Truth Project series. During that series, Del often asked, “Do you believe that what you believe is really real? Because if you really believe that what you believe is real, then Christians will change the world.” He’s right. If we acted as if we really believed everything in the Bible, our actions would look radically different not only to the rest of the world, but likely even to us.

What if we really believed that we were created in God’s image, that Jesus is God come in the flesh, and that by having faith in Jesus Christ we are able to live as eternal beings with God? And if we really believed that Jesus Christ is God, wouldn’t we strive every single day to act in ways pleasing to Him? We believe in the laws of the natural world, and we act accordingly. So what would our lives look like when we really believe in the supernatural?

I’ve spent many years studying various aspects of different worldviews and I’ve come to believe that there is universal truth, which points directly to Jesus and the Bible. That, in turn, has dramatically changed how I live my life. I don’t worry so much anymore. I walk in the supernatural. I fight demons. I talk to God. I talk to other people about God. I follow His will even when those in the natural world think I’m nuts. I know I’m about as far from perfect as someone can be, but I understand the concept of perfection and where to go to learn more about it so I can get better. If you don’t feel as confident as I sound, keep searching. Because if you go looking for truth – or, as Denise calls it, “Truth with a capital T” – you’re going to run smack into Jesus.

You aren’t going to have John the apostle or even Harrison Ford show up in person to tell you that everything is “really real,” but Jesus knew that. He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)  You can strengthen your beliefs and come to know Jesus better through a variety of other sources – most importantly through the Bible – because you’re hard wired to recognize Truth. Start looking, and I’m sure you’ll come to believe that God, Satan, Jesus, and the supernatural are true. It’s really real. All of it.

May the Force . . . er, I mean, may God be with you!

New Year II

I asked Denise what she wanted to say to start of the New Year, and she told me two things: get ready, and be still.

I can totally see where she’s coming from. I have this gigantic gift of discernment, which means that I can tell good from evil spirits, right from wrong, all of that, but my discernment really only manifests in having certain feelings. I know people who hear from God in other ways, like dreams, visions, or even out loud, but that’s never been me. In Denise’s book, she says that God will talk to you wherever you’re looking. So if you happen to be a person who really pays attention to dreams, don’t be surprised if God speaks to you that way. I know my own feelings, and that’s how God and I talk.

So I was pretty surprised about 10 years ago when I got an honest to goodness “out loud” message from God. It’s weird. I’d never had one before, so I didn’t know what it would be like. But once it happened, I knew immediately that it was from God. It least it seemed out loud. It was different from my usual feelings anyway.

And what He said was, “Get ready.” I immediately knew it was from Him, and I immediately knew what to do because I knew what it was about. It was about end times.

Since then, I’ve been getting ready. I suppose some people would call me a prepper, but I’m way different from the people you see on those shows. That’s because I’ve been getting ready physically – Denise and I honestly think that if things get nasty (we border on believing in mid-trib rapture, but we also think the birth pangs might get kind of crazy), our house can be a bit of a safe haven for other followers of Jesus – and spiritually, by reading the Bible, praying, studying various tools, etc. In fact, if you look at our little storehouse of goods, you’ll also see a big box of Bibles, which we intend to be handing out when things get weird.

Back when I started, not too many people were talking about end times, relatively speaking. But now, you can’t go anywhere without a church or program bringing it up. All of that is foretold in the Bible. People will rise up to tell others the signs of the times.

The second thing Denise told me was just to “be still,” and, of course, that’s good advice no matter what you do. I assume she was referring to Psalm 46:10, which says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  These last few months that I have taken off have reminded me that my life has become unbearably busy. Do you realize that it took me almost the entire day yesterday just to get updates for the various computers I have? It’s really nuts. These last few months, though, have allowed me occasionally to take a bit of time from an incredibly busy life in the world just to sit down, be still, and think about God. I have my cd player loaded to go through the Bible, and I’ve started taking blocks of time during the day just to study the Word. When I’m busy, there’s no way I can really hear from God. But when I’m still, I can at least allow Him to squeeze in. It’s a start.

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Good advice, Denise. And again, Happy New Year and God bless all of you!

 

A New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve been thinking about the one thing I would tell followers of Jesus Christ to start off the New Year, and my decision will shock you!

Did that introduction make you want to click on a link to see more? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to click on anything to read what I’ve written, and I won’t bombard you with ads in any event (you can tell I’m getting a bit sick of the Internet lately, can’t you?). So let’s get to the point. The one thing I’d like to tell followers of Jesus to start the New Year is this: remember the Judgment Seat of Christ!

“Oh no, he’s going to preach! And if it’s about some sort of judgment, then I’m hosed. I don’t want to be judged, and, frankly, I’m not really keen on anyone else being judged either!”

I suppose at least one person out there may be saying or thinking these very things right now. Give me just a minute, though, and I’ll explain why you should really look forward to this particular judgment and why you should try to remember it every day.

I’ve been thinking about the Judgment Seat of Christ (also known as the Bema Seat of Christ) because I’ve been trying to figure out why God has me working so hard on criminal justice reform when I’m not so sure that we’ll even see true reform before the rapture and tribulation. If it’s true that we’re really that close to the end (like I think we are), then why bother, right?

The answer came to me as I awoke the other day. And it starts with an understanding of the exciting judgment for followers of Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

We know that there’ll be judgment even for believers of Christ because in the Bible, Paul wrote:

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (2 Corr. 5: 8-10)

On its face, this judgment can seem a bit intimidating, but if you read other parts of the Bible and various commentaries, it becomes clear that this judgment is only for determining a believer’s rewards in heaven. It doesn’t include judgment for sin, because sin is taken care of by Jesus’s death on the cross. I repeat – it doesn’t involve judgment for sin. Jesus is your proxy on that matter through your belief in him. Like Denise says, belief and faith in Jesus Christ is the golden ticket. Leave it to Denise to dream up a Willy Wonka reference.

So even though the passage above says that you’ll receive what is due to you for things done “good or bad,” it doesn’t mean morally bad. Instead, it means that certain things have eternal rewards in heaven (the good) and certain things don’t (the bad).

Think of it this way. You’re going to do a lot of things during your walk in the world, and you might consider some of those things to be really, really good things. For example, you might think that holding down a particular job your entire life is a pretty good thing. And to the world, it is. But it might not be the thing that gets additional rewards in heaven. That makes sense, right? The Bible talks about building a foundation on Jesus, and if you build your foundation on anything else, a fire will burn away all that is worthless, which will include things you may have thought were pretty good but that simply don’t measure up to reward-giving status.

Paul often likened our journey on earth as a race to be run, so imagine it that way for a minute. As a runner, you might do tons of good things to get ready for the race – lift weights, stretch, practice your starts – but in the end, you get a reward for winning the race. Those are the rules. It’s not that stretching was a bad thing – heck, it may have been crucial to winning – it’s just that you don’t get the reward for stretching. You get it runnerfor crossing the finish line first. Likewise, there are certain things that God finds deserving of rewards, such as winning souls, developing your spiritual gifts, showing love and sacrifice to others, etc., but there are also things that you might think would be deserving of a reward and aren’t. So when you think of the distribution of rewards for “good and bad” things done in the body, think of it simply as receiving rewards for eligible things that you actually did in the world. If those things weren’t eligible, or if you didn’t do them even if they were eligible, then you don’t get the additional rewards.

Remember when you were a child? I don’t know about you, but when I was a child and I did something I thought was a big deal, I went running to some adult to tell it to. Usually that was my mom or dad. And when I told them what I did, I found out that sometimes it wasn’t a big deal at all to my mom or dad. But sometimes it was. And when it was, I got a reward. And man, I wanted to get those rewards! Even when I was fifty years old, taking care of my dying dad in the world, I was constantly trying to impress him, looking for those rewards – like a smile or a laugh. Believe me, when I get to heaven I want that same feeling of “reward getting” from God as I got from my dad here on earth.

“Hey wait, does all of this mean that I’ll be compared to other people?” No, so you should think of the race as being your own personal race, like running against the clock. This is between you and Jesus. You won’t be envious or jealous of others getting rewards, and, in fact, whatever regret you may think you feel from not receiving a reward that you could have received will ultimately be wiped away from the overwhelming joy of being with God. As Denise often says, it’s like having tickets to the Super Bowl. Your seat may be right on the 50 yard line, or your seat may be up in the nosebleed section. Either way, though, you’re at the freakin’ Super Bowl!

Now when it comes to figuring out what God will deem pleasing or not so pleasing in your life, I’ll leave it up to you to do some further biblical research. But you should remember the following cautionary note that has people like me needing constant reminders about what God thinks matters: Throughout the Bible, people were told that because they received an earthly reward for something they did in the world, they’ll receive no reward for it in heaven. Holy smokes! This makes everything a bit more complicated, doesn’t it? Oh well. As I’ve said before, Christianity is simple, but it isn’t always easy.

So what does all of this have to do with my criminal justice job and whether that job even matters? It matters because every day God gives us opportunities to add to the tally of things that will bring us rewards when we stand before Christ. That’s how much He loves us. And that love and those opportunities will continue right up until the day of Jesus’s return. Every day God allows us all to decide whether or not to do something that is pleasing to Him and worth eternal reward. And my work, helping people to see why we need criminal law reform, is just one more opportunity that God is presenting his children – through me – to do something eternally worthwhile.

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You and I are basically in the same earthly business when it comes to other followers of Christ – the “opportunity for eternal reward business.” Every day you will likely give someone an opportunity to do a good thing, and I or someone else will likely give you the same opportunity. And because every opportunity will only help the body of Christ, it should be our intense desire to keep expanding our business. Every day, look for opportunities to do things pleasing to God. Every day, look for ways to give other people those same opportunities.

So this year, remember the Judgement Seat of Christ! Work each day on earning your rewards. And, please, work each day to help me earn mine!



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