Sunday, May 27, 2007

Why People Don’t Believe in God

There is a whole world out there that doesn’t trust the church and believe that Christianity is nothing more than a bunch of phony rituals and traditions to a non-existent God. Why do they feel this way? Because there are people like holding ministry positions.

I’ll not use his/her name but there is a Methodist pastor in Baltimore who is not satisfied with the person that God created them to be so this person underwent a sex-change because God made a mistake.

“The gender I was assigned at birth has never matched my own true authentic God-given gender identity, how I know myself. Fortunately, God's gift of medical science is enabling me to bring my physical body in alignment with my true gender.”

People are entitled to opinions and they certainly have the right to pursue happiness but what this person has done goes against everything biblical. Again people certainly have the right to chose to deny a biblical lifestyle, its called free will, and they do but I don’t see how a minister can preach the infallibility of God and then say He made a mistake on creating them?

Christian’s are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be set aside, made holy. We are supposed to be examples of what a relationship with Christ looks like. When we read the bible, go to church, pray, and then go out and live a lifestyle that is no different from people who don’t do those things then we are telling the world that we follow a God who doesn’t work.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Great God Debate

I finally got around to watching, “Does God Exist? The Nightline Face-Off” and I have to say that my fear of this being a bad idea even before the debate was proven true during it. I have a ton of respect for Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort and I think that they each did an outstanding job at voicing their beliefs and convictions but an event like this is a no win situation for either side because they are so ardently opposed to each other’s view points.

The problem for the Christians in a debate like this is that the rules aren’t the same for both sides. The atheist camp can respond and react with hatred and sarcasm, which they did, but if the Christians were to slip and respond in that manner then they would be ridiculed for it. To their credit Cameron and Comfort both kept a calm respectful tone while the atheist disrespectfully looked away and responded and attacked in hateful tones. There was a clear difference in the level of respect given between the two sides.

The other thing that is wrong with a debate like this is that the atheists don’t really care to hear what the Christians have to say. They view God (if He existed) as a heavenly tyrant, Christians as foolish and narrow minded, and are actually out for victory in this debate where the Christians just want to get their message out and let the audience make their own decisions and there lies the problem for the atheists in an event like this.

They attack the Christian’s stance so aggressively but defend their own with a weak effort. They gave no clear answer to the development of morality with the absence of God; they grossly misrepresented the scriptures, failed miserably to defend the gaping holes in evolution and refused to answer questions of proof regarding some of their “facts”.

While I’m certain that this event did not portray and adequate depiction of atheism it can be said that the atheistic views of Christianity aren’t adequate as well. They tend to focus on the corruption of the church and the deviations of Christianity rather than the true depiction of a believer in Christ.

In all I appreciated the efforts of both sides but also thought that they could have been represented better. I did like the format and thought that the program’s choice to leave the final decision up to the viewer was a good one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell (1933 – 2007)

Jerry Falwell was often outspoken and often controversial to which I didn’t agree with on several occasions but you cannot downplay the impact he had on American Christianity and politics.

His ministries have reached out to thousands of people over the past 50 years. His church has grown from 35 members at the first meeting in 1956 to over 24,000 members in 2007.

Liberty University, founded by Falwell, not only gave us DC Talk (My favorite music group of all time) but continues to grow into one of the leading institutions in America for Christian based education.

Most importantly Falwell got the Christian body involved in politics. Sure he spoke his mind and stirred up controversy on just about every political and social front but he also motivated the “Moral Majority” to be heard in the political world by providing a platform for Christian values to be voiced in politics.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Keep on Keeping on

The majority of the post is simple copy and paste which may be plagiarism but it’s an inspiring story of determination and surrender to following Christ. Many people follow God as long as it’s comfortable and convenient but true worshippers follow in good and bad as they stay the course no matter what.

Missionaries return to Tanzania after surviving brutal attack there
By Charlie Warren

Published May 8, 2007

MOSHI, Tanzania (ABP) -- Two Southern Baptist missionaries are on their way back to Tanzania, where they were attacked with machetes and shot during a vicious robbery in the E ast African country.

Carl and Kay Garvin, Southern Baptist missionaries who returned to Arkansas after the Feb. 23 attack in a remote village south of Moshi , Tanzania , have recovered remarkably well from the assault. They arrived in Nairobi , Kenya , April 24 for missionary meetings and a prayer retreat before a May 6 return to Tanzania .

The alleged robbers and would-be murderers have been apprehended by Tanzanian authorities, but the Garvins are still reeling from the harrowing evening when they were attacked in a rural inn.

They had just finished working in neighboring churches and were settling down after dinner when two men burst into the building, shouting for everyone to get on the floor. Baptist volunteers traveling with the Garvins ran to their rooms, but when the Garvins retreated to their room, the men tried to break the door.

Carl Garvin braced his back against a bed in the small room with his feet on the door to hold it closed. The door finally broke, collapsing onto Carl Garvin’s head and cutting him deeply. He was partially blinded by blood pouring into his eye. One of the men swung a machete at Garvin, who blocked the blow with his left arm.

“I felt the force of the blow, but I did not feel any pain,” he said. “The man was wild-eyed. He looked demon-possessed to me. He was very much out of control. He never stopped. He just kept constantly swinging. I counted six or seven hits on my body.”

At the same time, another “very calm” man stood in the hallway with a pistol. When the men demanded money, the Garvins gave them a purse and a wallet. But as the first intruder laid down the machete, Kay Garvin picked it up and took a swing at him.

That’s when she was shot by the man in the hall, whom she had not noticed.

“I told Carl, ‘He shot me!’” she said, “I was in disbelief that the man did that. I truly thought I was going to die.”

The bullet entered above her left breast, went through her lung and lodged in her back. It missed her aorta by an inch.

Carl Garvin feared the worst. “I thought I was going to get shot,” he said. “We had seen their faces. I was not afraid, but I was resigned to the fact that the next bullet would be mine.”

But the men took the money and a few possessions and left. Carl Garvin, a military nurse for 34 years and a Vietnam veteran, began treating his wife.

“I had seen gunshot wounds, and I knew that the chest was not a good place to get shot,” he said. “I thought I would lose her. I found it very difficult to say much more than a sentence prayer.”

Just then, volunteers Joe and Cindy Lennon, members of First Baptist Church of Harrison, Ark., and Rudy Dehrens, a member of Grandview First Baptist Church of Berryville, Ark., emerged from their rooms.

Dehrens, a nurse, began treating Kay Garvin. Carl Garvin, who had severely damaged bones in his arm and knee, organized locals to move his wife to a car to drive to the nearest medical facility, in Moshi -- a two-hour drive over rough roads.

“All I could do was pray short prayers,” Kay Garvin said. “‘Lord, I love you.’ ‘Lord, thank you for your protection.’”

She said she asked God not to let her die.

“I knew if I went to sleep I would never wake up,” she said. “I looked out the window. The sky was bright. The stars were beautiful, and I said, ‘Lord, I know you are all around, and I know you’re going to protect me.’ But I still had that fear. For two hours, I did not know if I would make it.”

As she looked at the stars, she said, she started to sing “God is so good,” and the others joined in.
Once on the road, Carl Garvin notified the International Mission Board, their employer, by calling the cell phone of the strategy associate in Nairobi , who happened to be in a meeting with IMB vice presidents. IMB personnel then called the Garvins’ children and started a prayer chain.

When the Garvins and the volunteers arrived at the Moshi medical facility, they immediately met with three missionary doctors and a Muslim doctor the Garvins had befriended.

Meanwhile, the IMB arranged for a medical evacuation plane, equipped with a doctor and a nurse, to fly to the nearby Kilimanjaro airport. Lanterns were placed on the airstrip so it could take off.

The Garvins had to get special permission to leave the country. Finally, 12 hours after the attack, they arrived at a hospital in Nairobi to receive the quality medical treatment they needed.

Today, Carl Garvin has a steel plate in his arm and can’t drive or lift anything for three months. He may face surgery on his knee in a few years.

Through it all, critics have asked the Garvins how God could let such an attack happen to people apparently serving him. But Carl Garvin calls that “shallow thinking.”

“God was in the room with us,” he said. “God allowed our bodies to be touched, but our lives were preserved. God’s purpose was they could only go so far.”

Plus, he added, God enabled everyone to remain calm throughout the ordeal. God provided a driver to the hospital, protection on the difficult journey to Moshi and comfort to the injured during the trip, he said. Moshi even had electricity that night -- an uncommon occurrence at times, he added.

“This is not our story. It is God’s story,” he said. “It is a story of his mercy, his grace, his power, his timing, [and] his miracles. It was miracle after miracle.”

Kay Garvin plans to attest to that power. After her surgery, she held the .38-caliber bullet once embedded in her back. She’d like to keep it for good.

“It was given to me personally, and I want it back,” she joked, adding that she plans to mount it on a necklace and use it as a conversation piece about God.

Indeed, the Garvins firmly believe their return to Africa is necessary as a way to reach more people in Tanzania and encourage other missionaries there. Kay Garvin, for all she’s been through, said she’s excited to go “home.”

“There will be many things we will have to face as we return, but God has seen us through so much already [that] I am sure he will see us through these things also,” she said. “We look forward to see his plan for our life and how he will use us to share the gospel. We want to share what he has done for us, and we want the African people to see what a wonderful God we serve.”

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Blessing Others Through Your Prayers

I recently had someone share with me an acronym (B.L.E.S.S.) that can be used as a prayer guide to lead you in praying for others. It was simple and practical so I decided to turn it into a sermon outline preached it this last Sunday. Here it is.

Body – Pray for the person’s healing or continued health.

Matthew 15:29-31
29Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Asking for healing and continued health is nothing new to Jesus. He has been asked countless times and history is filled with the testimonies of those whom he has blessed with health.

Labor – Pray that the person’s actions, whether at work or at home, would honor Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:20
20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

As Christians we are the representatives of Christ. When we misrepresent Him through selfish actions we are showing the world a Jesus that doesn’t exist.

Emotional – Pray for the person’s emotional well being, that they would constantly feel the love and acceptance of God.

1 Corinthians 14:33
33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints,

Emotional stress seems to be a natural part of life and many people live in a world of confusion because of it. They don’t have to! Pray that they would submit to God’s guidance on their lives as they experience his love for them.

Social – Pray that the person would become the major influence among their friends rather than their friends becoming the major influence over them.

Romans 15:20
20It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.

The influences that a person allows in their life greatly affects the way that they live. There are far too many Christians out there who are influenced by the world instead of influencing the world. They are “building on someone else’s foundation” by letting other sources set their standards in ethics and morality.

Spiritual – Pray that the person would understand what it means to walk in the spirit and that they would develop a strong desire to do so.

Romans 8:8-9
8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

One of the major reasons that people refuse to believe in God is because there are a ton of Christians out there who are walking billboards advertising to the world that Christianity doesn’t work. The “pray, read their bibles, and go to church” but yet there is absolutely no difference between their lifestyles and the person who doesn’t do any of those things.

Christians are to be drastically different from unbelievers because they have the Spirit of God living in them which means a God first instead of a me first attitude should develop.