Category Archives: apologetics

“Always TRUE: God’s 5 Promises When Life is Hard”

Always TrueJames MacDonald’s book, “Always TRUE: God’s 5 Promises When Life Is Hard” is a book forged out of MacDonald’s personal experience.  His previous book, “When Life Is Hard,” was dedicated to his mom who had just completed her battle with ALS and passed into Heaven.  “Always True,” is largely birthed from MacDonald’s many trials in life…from his personal bout with cancer… to various church conflicts… to the heavy burdens he carried toward his children.

The book is structured around five incredible promises God gives to the believer:

Promise #1:  God Is Always with Me.
(Deuteronomy 31:6)          …I Will Not Fear

Promise #2:  God Is Always in Control.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)                …I Will Not Doubt

Promise #3:  God Is Always Good.
(Romans 8:28)                  …I Will Not Despair

Promise #4:  God Is Always Watching
(1 Corinthians 10:13)        …I Will Not Falter

Promise #5:  God Is Always Victorious
(Isaiah 54:17)                    …I Will Not Fail

Each Chapter is broken into three parts: (1) “The Promise,” which deals with the specific promise in detail.  (2) “Take To Heart,” in which the reader is challenged by questions that relate to the promise and encouraged to share his/her insight with at least one person. (3) “Know By Heart,” in which the reader is challenged with a memory verse that goes with the promise. (4) “Theology of a Promise,” in which the reader’s understanding of  Divine Promise is broadened.

I loved the way MacDonald hit the perfect balance with Scripture and Personal Experience in this book.  He is incredibly gifted in sharing scriptures that deal with personal experience.  I found myself making countless numbers of notes in my Logos Bible Software on the Scriptures MacDonald uses.  The book also has a very detailed Scripture index in the back.

I appreciate MacDonald’s transparent honesty as he mentions how his faith has been stretched with each one of these promises.  He spends time talking about how you can’t really own any of these promises unless your forced to lean on them.

Moody Publishers continues to turn out books that are high quality in every way.  Not only the content…but even the paper and material are high quality.  The paper is bright and crisp.  The book cover has raised lettering.  Good job, Moody!

I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest biased free review of the content.

“One Race One Blood”

“One Race, One Blood,” was my first Ken Ham and it won’t be the last. Both authors: Ken Ham and Charles Ware did a good job at presenting their arguments against the “so called” Theory of Evolution. First they cover the subject in general and then they cover some of the dangerous implications including racism. Ken Ham writes, “Perhaps the most infamous abuse of evolution to justify racism was Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, which promoted a master race and sought to exterminate the so-called inferior races.” (p.30) The authors were straightforward and honest to admit that the Theory of Evolution mindset is not the soul cause of racism, but did stress that it’s mindset is one of the major causes.

I was sucked into the book from the very first page when Ken Ham told the story of an a African pygmy by the name of Ota Benga who was brought to the United States in 1904 by an African explorer who had bought him at a slave market. Ota’s wife and children had been slaughtered and their bodies mutilated in a campaign of terror by the Belgian government. Ota was 4’11’ and weighed 103 pounds and people literally treated him as an animal. They foolishly thought he was the lost link and did all kinds of inhumane things to him including caging him up with an ape! People would stare into his cage and throw things at him trying to evoke a response.

What proponents of Darwinism won’t tell you about Darwin is that in the last page of his book, “The Descent of Man,” Darwin expressed the opinion that he would rather be descended from a monkey than from a “Savage.” In describing those with darker skin, he often used words like “savage,” “low,” and “degraded” to describe American Indians, pygmies, and almost every ethnic group whose physical appearance and culture differed from his own. Ken Ham writes, “Although racism did not begin with Darwinism, Darwin did more than any person to popularize it.” (p.22)

Ken Ham writes, “Once people abandon the authority of God’s Word, there is no foundation for morality and justice in the world. When God’s truth is rejected, human reason alone is used to justify evil of every sort (Racism, Euthanasia, Abortion).” (p.32)

I also like the way Charles Ware reveals some of the struggles of being in a “interracial marriage.” According to War, there is only ONE race in the Human Species and many different variations. He proposes that we do away with using the term “race” when discussing the different people groups in the world because every human being in the world is classified as Homo Sapien. Scientist today agree that there is really only on biological race of humans. Geneticists have found that if you were to take any two people from anywhere in the world, the basic genetic differences between these two people would typically be about 0.2 percent, even if they came from the same people group. “Racial” characteristics account for only about 6 percent of this 0.2 percent variation. That means that the “racial” genetic variation between human beings of different “race” is a mere 0.012 percent. (p.112)

I feel I was not adequately equipped to counter the “Theory of Evolution” in seminary. Now (after reading “One Race, One Blood”) I feel well equipped to talk against evolution with its dangerous implications. The book was well documented with references. I was also surprised at how EASY the book was to read.

BTW… I received this book free for a non-biased review from the publisher.


Why Didn’t God Do Something?

japan tsunamiIn the wake of disasters such as the recent Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan there are always people that ask the question, “Where was God and Why didn’t God do something?”   Those questions outline what theologians often call “The Problem of Evil.”  It’s been said that the “Problem of Evil,” is the Achilles Heel of Christianity and whereas it might appear so at first glance, I’m convinced that is not the case. Phillip Yancey in his book, Disappointed with God,” does a tremendous job on getting a handle on the Problem of Evil.

Yancey describes the Problem of Evil in the form of a simple little family prayer that you’ve probably heard growing up:  God is great, God is good.  What normally follows is: Let us thank Him for this food.  But to understand the problem of evil, Yancey changes it to: God is great, God is good, and there’s evil in the world.  You see, that’s really the issue of disappointment with God.  That little simple family prayer is filled with four statements of truth.

The first statement is that God Is.   It presupposes that there is a God who does exits.  A God who is real and personal.  The second statement is that God is Great.  He’s a God that doesn’t just exist, but a God who is all-powerful.  The third statement is that God is Good.  Meaning He’s all-loving.  And then the fourth statement is There’s Evil in the World. Meaning there’s pain and suffering.   Bad things happen to good people.

Now it doesn’t appear at first glance that all four of those statements can be true.  I mean is it possible for a God to be all-powerful and all-loving and for bad things to happen to good people?  So people have put out a lot of different so called solutions by eliminating one part or another in the equation.

  • One solution is just to do away with God.  (Atheism) Hey if you do away with God then you don’t really have a problem, right?
  • A second solution is to deny that God is great.  Such a person believes in God, but they believe that God I powerless.  This solution has been bought by millions of people in this culture by Harold Kushner in his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  Kushner knows something about suffering.  His son contracted a rare disease that caused him to age prematurely and die in his teens and Kushner wrestled with anger and disappointment with God and finally concluded that God cared, He just couldn’t do anything about it.  The problem is what can a weak God do for us?  It does no good to bow down and worship Him.  How can we follow Him?  How can we trust Him?  How can we depend on Him. I like what Elie Vesel wrote when he critiqued Kushner’s book, “If that’s who God is, why doesn’t He resign and let someone take His place.
  • A third option is to deny that God is Good.  (a scary thought) If you don’t want to deny God or His greatness…deny His goodness.
  • A fourth option is just to live in self denial.  Just deny that there’s a problem.  This is the approach of the Christian Scientist. They say evil is just an illusion.  But this view has problems as well.  Like the little boy who went to his Christian Scientist Pastor and said, “Pastor, will you pray for my dad.  He’s home sick.”  At the pastor said, “Oh no, son.  You don’t understand.  Your dad just thinks he’s sick.  He doesn’t have enough faith.  Go home and tell him that.”  So the little boy comes back the next day and the pastor asks, “How’s your dad?”  And the little boy says, “He thinks he’s dead.”  It’s not my intention to make fun of any one’s religion, I just want to point out the problem to such a solution.  The fact of the matter is that bad things happen all around us and if your honest with yourself, you can’t deny it.

How does a Christian deal with the Problem of Evil?

1.   One option is to say, “We deserve what we get.” The reason why bad things happen to good people is simple, THEY DON’T… because none of us is good.  So we are all getting what we deserve.  One of the principles of the universe is that we reap what we sow Galatians 6:7, but to say that everyone who died in the Earthquake and Tsunami deserved it oversimplifies the problem and is just a little too callous for my taste. The truth is sometimes people get what they don’t deserve.    You can’t always draw a simple one to one correlation between cause and effect.

2.  Another option is something that Philip Yancey calls “The toxic waste in the water solution.” Picture for a moment all of us standing around Medina Lake for a moment and eachtoxic waste of us have a bucket and in that bucket is toxic waste; and imagine that that toxic waste is a picture of our sin.

Senerio one says that you will get sick if you drink from your own bucket… which makes sense. There definitely is some truth to that.  If I drink from my buck of toxic waste,  I’m going to get sick.

Senerio two places all of us on the edge of Medina Lake pouring our bucket of waste into the lake.  Suddenly I get thirsty and decide I want a drink, but as I look down at the lake I’m like, “I’m not drinking that, I know what I put in it.”  So I walk down to the other side of the lake and I take a big glass out of that lake and drink it and I get sick and suddenly I get angry, “That’s not fair! I’m not reaping the consequences of my junk.  My junk is on the other side of the lake.  I’m drinking your junk!”

This solution does make a little more sense out of the problem because now I realize that I may not be getting a direct payback for what I did, but the truth is I have put more than enough junk into that lake to not only kill me, but everyone else and if I get sick… I’m just getting back what I deserve in general.  Someone once said, “Anything I get that is better than hell is a gift.

3.  A third option is to say that Bad Things Will Become Good Things.  This is the idea behind Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28
28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

This option acknowledges that things may be bad… but it has hope that over time by God’s grace, that God will make something good out of those bad things. Probably every single one of us can look back at some event in the past and see how God has taken something bad in our lives and turned it into something good.  However there might be some of you that are still waiting and that’s where faith comes in.  Faith that somehow, someway, when we all get to the other side of this thing called life… God will make sense out of everything that confuses us.

I’ve often said that when I walk into heaven there’s going to be a big RED MARK on my head from me slapping my forehead with the palm of my hand and saying, “Oh… NOW I get it!”  The Bible says that we see in a mirror dimly, but there will come a time when we shall see clearly.

My guess that about half of you are comfortable with these three options and that’s because half of us lead with our heads.  We’re thinkers and these thoughts satisfy our soul.

However the other half lead with the heart. For those that lead with their heart, the problem of evil is not so much an intellectual problem as much as it is a heart problem.  It’s not so much that you need to know something, but rather you need to know someONE.

Imagine you have a toddler (mine are all teenagers… PRAY FOR ME!)  and that toddler walks up and sticks his finger in an electric socket and shocks himself.  The last thing that little guy needs is for someone to come up to him and try to explain the fundamentals of electricity.  For one thing, he’s not likely to understand it, but even more than that what he needs is for someone to comfort him.

When it comes to the problem of evil, I am convinced that none us can completely understand the answer, but even if we could… more than an answer, we need the ANSWERer.

I use to be so bent on having an answer to every problem in the world, but I’ve now come to the point in my spiritual life that I feel that I don’t have to know the answer to everything.  I’ve found that it’s enough for me just to know WHO has all the answers.  I would much rather know the AnswerER!  The insight is this:  The answerER has come in the person of Jesus Christ.

Similar Articles:
Charles Wesley on the Cause and Cure of Earthquakes
A Christian’s Reaction to the Crisis in Japan
Japan’s Earthquake and the Will of God
by Adam Hamilton
Is Adam Hamilton Right About God and Japan?
Poll: Nearly 4 in 10 Americans say Natural Disasters Sign From God (Fox News)

Generation EX-Christian

Generation Ex-ChristianGeneration EX-Christian by Drew Dyck is a book that addresses the question, “Why young adults are leaving the faith?” but also deals with the question, “How to bring them back?” The author spent a lot of times dialoguing and trying to understand the mindset of the average person that leaves the faith.  He uses real examples from the people that he has interviewed (changing the names and details to protect people’s privacy)

The book is timely.  Especially with the fact that 70% of youth leave the church by the time they are twenty-two years old.  The Barna Group even estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are twenty-nine years old.  (p.17)

Drew Dyck describes 6 different types of people (lost sheep) that leave our churches.  Each section is divided into three parts in which the person and mentality is described and then suggestions are made on how to reach out and reconnect with them.

1.    The Postmodern

Postmodernism believes that there is no such thing as objective truth, reality, value, reason, and so on.  It holds that there is a different truth” for each person.  Experience –not rationality –is the key to finding that truth. (p.27)

Reaching Out to the Postmodern:

Talking to leavers with a postmodern worldview can be frustrating because they place experience above reason.  Dyck suggests talking about YOUR experience. When telling your story, Dyke points out, “It’s especially crucial to avoid slipping into the traditional ‘testimony’ rut.  Remember, you are speaking with people who have likely heard dozens of testimonies. They know the formula well and they can tell when you’re adapting your experience to fit the mold.  They will be far more impressed with transparency.  Be honest with them about your struggles and even your doubts.” (p.36)  Avoid arguing for the legitimacy of the gospel based on reason and science. (p.37)  The important thing is to build trust.

Dyck writes, “Postmoderns prefer to discover truth through experience rather than reason… and they also have a strong social conscience and willingness to serve the poor and oppressed,” he goes on to write, “You can honor these admirable characteristics by inviting them to participate in service projects with you and other Christians.”  (p.39)

2.    Recoilers

Recoilers are those who have had a negative experience in the church. They are the ones who have, “suffered abuse and vowed that they would never take the chance to be victimized again.” (p.49)  They are people who, “feel directly hurt or disappointed by God… and sometimes hold God responsible for experiences as disparate as extended spiritual dryness to misfortune in life.” (p.59)

Reaching out to the Recoilers:  It’s important to let them tell their story.  Dyck quotes Psychologist Gunnoe, “First, you have to send the message that you’re there for that person emotionally. ‘I will cry with you… I will curse with you,’ only then can you hope to talk through other things.”  Empathy –not arguments –is what they truly need at this point.  (p.65)  It’s also important to eventually enable them to delineate between God and the people that hurt them.  Finally, Dyck  points out, “We have rich truths to offer the recoilers in our lives… the Bible is a deep well for the abused and broken.” (p.67)

3.    Modern Leavers
This describes the Atheist.   They leave the faith for intellectual reasons.  Dyck points out, “Unlike the postmodern leavers… they love linear thinking, objective truth and the Western tradition of rational thought.”  (p.74)

Reaching out to the Modern Leaver: The frustrating part of dialoguing with the Modern Leavers is that you don’t have a common line of argument.  You can’t really argue from the Bible, because they reject it as the ultimate truth source. The Modern Leaver often loves to debate.  Dyke points out, “Your job isn’t to straighten out all their opinions; it’s to light the path back to Christ.”

When someone rejects Christianity it’s perfectly valid to ask the to consider if the alternative is more satisfying. (p.97) It’s also appropriate to launch out with apologetics (C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel).  Dyck points out, “These aren’t people who are shy about truth claims… they just have different truth claims… so lay yours out with conviction.” (p.100)

4.    Neo-Pagans
This encompasses (but not limited to) the modern day Wicca Movement.  According to Barna 55% of Americans have never even heard of Wicca and yet it’s growing at a staggering rate… doubling every thirty months!  (p.110)

Wicca is derived from the word witchcraft and is a neo-pagan earth based religion. Dyck points out, “Wiccans worship a goddess and a god, practice magic, worship nature, and engage in seasonal rituals… they believe in a unifying energy present in nature that can be manipulated through magic to bring personal rewards such as love, financial blessing, and general happiness… they deny a transcendent deity; the goddess and god are merely manifestations of nature’s energy… Wiccans regard themselves as divine, and freely refer to themselves as gods or goddesses as well.” (p.111)

Reaching the Neo-Pagans:  Wiccans often have negative feelings toward Christians because we have repeatedly twisted and misrepresented their beliefs.  Dyck points out, “the first step in defusing these negative feelings is to demonstrate a familiarity with their basic beliefs.” (p.121)  We also need to demonstrate care for the environment.  Finally in addition to praying for them, it’s important to share spiritual experiences.  Those who leave the faith for the neo-pagan religions often complain that Christianity is a dry and boring religion.

5.    Rebels
This category basically describes the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.  This is the person who rebels for hedonistic motives.  Moral Compromise plays a real strong role in the Rebel.

Reaching the Rebel:  Dyck points out that, “decrying their sin is not only futile, but can be counterproductive.” (p.146)  Instead, it’s important to speak to them about their relationship with God.   Other suggestions include giving them a cause.  Ray Rayborn, the founder of Young Life once said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.”  Also look for “Moments of Heightened Receptivity,” in which we demonstrate he freedom and joy that comes from serving God…but above all it’s important to PRAY.

6.    Drifters
These are what Dyck calls, “Slow motion leavers,” they don’t, “exit in sudden spasms of skepticism or rebellion… instead they leave gradually…” (p.159)

Reaching the Drifter: Dyck points out that sometimes the biggest danger to Christianity is Christians.  We need to raise the bar and expose them to the demands and challenges of the Gospel.  Too often we expect too little of one another when Jesus demanded it ALL!  Deep down inside we all want to be challenged to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

The book was an easy read.  It was especially engaging because it told the story of real people.  I saw the book as a personal challenge for me to get out and actively live out and demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ.   I especially liked the fact that the book didn’t just describe the problem, but gave some solutions in reaching out to the people that have left the faith.

FTC Disclaimer. I received this book free in exchange for a unbiased review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”