Monthly Archives: August 2014

Let me explain…Part 2

So I am sitting on my back deck drinking an adult beverage one night and decided it would be a good thing to take my kids to church. Not sure why. . . just seemed like a good thing to do at the time. I decided I would start this idea the following Sunday as the next couple days, (Sunday and Monday), were spent recovering from too much of the adult beverages. In fact, it was after those two days that I also decided to take a break from partaking, not quit, just take a break.
Well, one Sunday led to another and one weekend sober led to another. I am not one of those people that can give you the exact time and day that the Holy Spirit moved in my life, but He did and I accepted the free gift of salvation through grace! I haven’t drank in almost nine years now! Funny how God can mess up one’s plans, huh? I was your typical new Christian, on fire wanting to save the world. But there remained one problem…I still had questions and no one still could not answer them. This forced me to school in search of answers. Life was amazing. I was involved in the church, the sound guy for a small gospel group, and started a motorcycle ministry as at that point I still had my bike. I then felt this “calling,” for lack of a better term, to preach, and being in a small rural town that is pretty much all it takes is to tell someone you feel called. It all happened so fast. I would pray for people and it would seem they would accept Christ. I wanted to preach and I was evangelizing throughout three counties in southern WV. I was even offered a position as pastor for a small rural church. I accepted of course, but never should have for sure. This began my journey of learning about the reality of Christianity in rural America. I learned a lot the five months as the pastor of this particular church. In fact, I learned a lot through the Bike ministry also. Much of which remains today and is frustrating and disheartening.
During this time I was still going to school. I completed my BS in Religion, and a MA in Evangelism and Church Planting. What? Church planting? I had never heard of church planting or much of anything else I was learning in school. I was indeed finding answers, but it seemed no one wanted to hear them. Strange concept to a new believer. I thought Christianity was about the Truth, but found out really quick it is more about tradition, and what makes those professing followers comfortable. I was the bad guy. I was causing division by sharing the small amount of knowledge I was obtaining. But it didn’t matter, I fell. I fell hard. The reason really isn’t important, but the fact one falls in a small town, well I may as well have been stoned to death.
Obviously this is an overview and summary, but what started then continues today. The church planting thought has never left, yet few understand or feel it is something that should be done. However, I have found a true love called apologetics. And if one thought church planting was “out there”, apologetics is even worse. For the most part many do not even know what apologetics is. And as for the Truth, well, apologetics provides answers, evidence and reason to believe what we believe. One would think most people would know why they believe something. Not the majority of Christians I meet! They believe and that is all that matters. And if you want to discuss division, well, tell someone the verse they are using is out of context and see how quick it happens. Or better yet, ask them why they believe what they do concerning God, the Bible, resurrection, or most anything else having to do with their Christianity. I have been called extreme, fanatic, and many other things since beginning my study of apologetics. And it doesn’t stop there. Being an apologist is one of the loneliest, most frustrating things a person could ever attempt. Well, maybe not for every apologist, but in rural America, and for many apologists. We wonder why everyone that professes to love God so deeply doesn’t really care to know much about Him, except of course the parts they like and the traditions, whether Biblical or not.
You see, it is not that I am angry, a know it all, or whatever adjective you would like to use. It is the power of the Holy Spirit in my heart that brings out the frustration that Christians and Christianity are often exactly what I thought they were for forty one years. My peers, fellow students and professors seem to be on the same path and thought process as I am. But for the everyday rural American professing follower, well, it appears they really do not care. And sadly I am told it is not just rural America, but that is where I live so I can’t speak for the metropolitan areas. It amazes me on a daily basis that Christians will follow, believe, listen to, and support pretty much anything that sounds good and makes them feel good. It doesn’t matter whether it is Biblical or not, as long as it is what they want to hear. Seriously, Joel Osteen, the “prosperity gospel”, Ken Hagin, Joyce Meyers, TD Jakes, and so many others like them. I know it has always been this way. Yet, I would like you to see why I am the way I am. Why I want others to know the Truth. Do followers of Jakes and the prosperity nonsense even know what they believe? We cannot all be right! And please, if I am wrong tell me! But don’t come with some emotional out of context “my preacher said so” nonsense.
There is so much more to say and write, but I pray that you understand a little better why I am the way I am. I try to present the limited knowledge I have with love and gentleness as the Bible tells me to do. If you are going to get angry, unfriend me on FB, call me names, or simply ignore me, that is your choice. But please, stop making Christianity look stupid to the rest of the world. And for the love of God, if you are a professing follower at least know where your Bible came from, and stop telling each other “people will know Christ by your actions”. No they won’t! There are a lot of nice, good, moral people out there that are going to hell…give them an answer for the hope you have as told to you in your Bible! Their life depends on it, as does yours…

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Allow me to explain

I have been blogging now for a little over a month or so, and if you have read any of them, you may have gotten the idea that I appear to be blunt, arrogant, harsh, or whatever adjective that goes along those lines. Please, allow me to explain.
You see, I was agnostic for forty one years of my life. I was raised by my parents, (divorced when I was eighteen), in a small rural town in southern WV. I am not sure one would call our home a Christian home, though I was forced to go to a small church most of the time. My parents for the most part attended also, though my dad was known to fall asleep at times. I participated in youth group simply because my family/friends were forced to also. We had “fun” and did the typical things churches still do today; learned a Bible verse here and there, attended VBS, heard about Jonah, Noah, the ark, and well, you get the point, Sunday school stuff. Sometimes we were allowed to stay “upstairs” in the adult service where the preacher would scream at everyone for what seemed like forever and then have something called an altar call, that also seemed to last forever. Every now and then someone would walk up front, usually crying, and say they now believed in Jesus. Soon after the preacher would then have them get in a pool of water and dunk them, or at least that’s what it looked like to me. Everyone clapped and hugged, but yet later the people disappeared, well except for the same one’s that were there to begin with anyway.
As an adult I attended church on occasion. You know, Christmas, Easter, or a special service to make my mother happy I was there. I remember standing there so many times looking around at the different people thinking to myself, “why would I ever want to be one of them?” I mean seriously, there were mainly old people and the one’s closer to my age were not the cool or well known individuals many would want to emulate. I watched as preachers would come and go for different reasons, and listened to the same old thing each time I did decide to attend. Or so it seemed, the fruit of the Spirit message, the we need to get outside these four walls message, and of course the dreaded study of the Book of Revelation, which by no means was close to being accurate on a scholarly level to say the least. You know, I even tried to be a Christian one time. I got baptized and all. Went to church every time the door opened, but it was still the same. Nothing I truly wanted to be a part of. It was boring and the same people doing the same thing. Needless to say I was no more “saved” than I had been previously and eventually blew it all off as a learning experience.
Fast forward to the age of forty one. I still had no intention of ever becoming a “Christian”. Life was good. Beer, money, a move to the beach and back, a Harley, and of course a divorce, women and the dreaded invite to church and we are praying for you. My goal was to take my eldest daughter to the Bowery in Myrtle Beach and dear ol dad show her how to drink. Sad really. But I knew one thing for sure…being one of those “good Christians” was not part of the plan!

COEXIST…Really?

All too often we hear “why can’t we all just get along”, or, as the title states, why can’t we all just coexist? Well, the easy answer would seem to be we all can’t be right. So who is? And if we say someone else is wrong are we not judging? And we all know the famous, oft misused verse, of “judge not”! And God forbid we were to tell someone that their belief is wrong and our’s is right. So why can’t we all simply coexist? Why is it any of my business if the Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, or any other of the hundreds of religions are wrong as long as I feel good about what I believe? What about the cults, the word of faith folks, atheists, and our favorite televangelist? Am I better than them to even consider that what I believe is right and they, in fact, are actually wrong? Do you see the problem developing here? To actually coexist we are basically saying there is no right or wrong. Is that the price to pay so everyone will be happy and just live with whatever belief is good for them and not care whether it is true or false? If so, we are conceding that what is true for one person may or may not be true for another. Thus leading us back to Truth. Coexist sounds nice, but in reality, is that a world you really want to live in or be a part of? Are you sure?
The point of all of this is easy, somebody is wrong! Think about it the next time we are out “being the good Christian”, or “showing the love of God” just like all of the rest of the groups mentioned previously. And I didn’t even include all of the good people that are, well, just good people. Or the “bad” people, not sure how one would define this group, but what about them, maybe they are right.
So why is this so important to the professing follower? Hmm, well the Bible tells us to make disciples, to love God with all of our heart soul and mind, to have an answer for the hope we have, and above all that Jesus is the Way, the ONLY WAY. So the next time you want to show the love of Christ, or serve others as Jesus did, think about this: Why? Why are you doing the same thing everyone else is doing? Please do not misunderstand, it is obviously Biblical to serve, however, while you are serving and showing the love of God, share the Good News. Have an answer when ask why you are doing what you are doing other than “showing the love of God”. There are a lot of good people doing good things. Tell them about Jesus, that He is the only Way. Do it in a loving and gentle manner, but tell them they are wrong. Call out false teachers, and help them understand why we can’t coexist, and reality, we don’t want to either.

Out of Touch

Many of us have heard the saying that politicians are out of touch with America, or the average person. I have alluded to this in a previous blog and would like to share my thoughts on how the church may very well be out of touch with those we are attempting to reach with the gospel.
Most of you know I was agnostic for the first 41 years of my life. Yet, if someone ask me about God I would tell them I believed there indeed was possibly something, God or otherwise. This seems to be an all too common problem today. I promise you if your were to ask the majority of people you meet if they believe in God, or a god, they would say yes. In fact many would not only say they believe, but they simply were not interested in anything else because the Bible states that if one believes ten they are saved. So, those we as the church consider lost feel there is no reason to do more than believe there is a God, and go about life in whatever means they feel comfortable. Here in lies where the church, professing followers, are out of touch with what we say we are trying to do and actually doing it. Convincing someone of Gods existence is typically not a huge objection to overcome, unless of course one is speaking with an atheist, which is a small minority of the population. In fact, most believe, including satan, so why are we either a) trying to reach believers, or b) are we really that out of touch?
According to numerous surveys if a person hasn’t accepted Christ by their mid twenties, at the latest, the chances are extremely slim of reaching them at all. So are we to focus on children only? Or why is the percentage so small in reaching adults than it is kids? My thoughts are we are indeed out of touch with what we are supposed to be trying to do. Why or how could this be possible? Well, based on the statistics the majority of professing Christians accepted Christ at a very young age, (4-14). And they did so for numerous reasons, parents, peers, emotion, or some other factor that was important to them at that stage of life. I say that to say this: how, if one has been saved since child hood could they possibly know or understand why so many “believers” are not, or have not, become followers? Speaking from my own experience it is because the average 20+ something individual has been a part of the Christian circle at one point, doesn’t see the point in being a part of it any longer based on the actions of other professing Christians, and above all, especially in today’s society need answers that most lifelong Christians can’t answer! Seriously, why would most people want to be a part of something if they were to ask a professing believer why they believe in God and either get a blank stare, or a standard “I feel it in my heart”, or “so you can go to heaven”.
You see, I lived the life of the dreaded sinner that is so preached about on Sunday mornings. In fact, I rather enjoyed it, or at least felt I did at the time. I felt Christianity was for the weak, the nerd, the person looking to fit in somewhere, or whatever, but it was not something I wanted anything to do with. Why? Because the majority I met couldn’t answer my questions, and were so out of touch with the real world that they didn’t have any idea of how to reach me or my friends other than to invite us to church. I promise anyone that is a professing follower of Christ that a lost person must first understand they are lost, from what, and why they need to be saved. And if you can’t answer some basic questions of why you believe what you do about God, the Bible, resurrection or many other such things you will not have any type impact. All the good, nice Christian things you do, (not that there is anything wrong with any of them), are looked at as just that. Nice Christian things that everyone and their brother is doing Christian or not. Just look at the Masons and Shriners for a quick example, in fact look closely if you are a follower, but that is another blog entirely.
We seem to like to talk about being around “sinners” as Jesus was. And plan nice “outreach” events which typically only attract other Christians. So why is the church so out of touch? Because we are so busy being focused on doing the good Christian stuff instead of making disciples and teaching answers. It seems we have put the “cart in front of the horse”! We have someone that the Holy Spirit has led to accept Christ and instead of discipling them, stick them in a “ministry” or a service project leaving them a sheep among wolves.
We are losing our youth at an alarming rate, 60 to 80 percent, and not reaching the adults, other religions, or atheists at all. This should be alarming, and demands the attention of every pastor, youth leader, and professing follower! Just as we are told to serve, we are commanded to have an answer for the hope we have, and to love God with all of our heart souls and MIND. No more blind faith! Put on the full armor and let’s get in touch with reality. Stop feeling good about being “blessed”, (another blog also), and speak up! There is only one Truth, know why, and call other out that are wrong…Jesus and Paul both did!

Part 2 of WHY

Last we spoke, or should I say I wrote, the topic was “Why?” Now that we are together once again I feel it necessary to continue with not only “why”, but maybe a little bit of “Because”. If you remember, my daughter and I plan to write a book someday, her title being “why” and mine being “because”. So, now that everyone is up to date, let us continue with the simplistic question of “why”.
Why does it seem everyone, or I should say many, like to talk about truth, but when it comes down to sharing the truth, or Truth, suddenly we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings? Please do not misunderstand, I do not think we should intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. However, we are supposed to tell other “followers” if they are wrong. So, why do we just continue to let them go on believing whatever they want to believe, even if it is wrong? I know, I know, how do I know I am right? Hmmm, well everyone cannot be right, and if I am wrong I would want to know. Wouldn’t you? Why do we want to have all of this unity with professing believers, that believe something that is completely against the Bible and what we believe? Why do we not tell the pastor of the “prosperity church” down the road he is wrong instead of promoting his false doctrine and agenda? Why are our pastors afraid, yes afraid, to tell their congregation they are wrong, is it not part of a pastors job? Why do pastors, if called to be in such a position, by God, not feel it is important enough to go to school? Are they too proud? Why do we allow congregations to sit and believe they are saved and sanctified when all we do is make them feel good each Sunday? Sorry, I also know I am not the deciding factor of salvation. Yet, why, if God is number one in all of these followers lives do they not know where their Bible even came from, much less could they answer the problem of evil? Why do I seem to be among so few that I have met, who doesn’t seem to think it is as easy as ABC, you know, accept, believe, confess. That is like taking one verse out of the entire sixty six books and saying, “well, as long as you believe you’re good”. Why then does the devil tremble? He believes. Why? Why does the church look so similar to the rest of the world, except on Sunday when many, not all, go to that building down the street to feel good. Why do we think it is simply about love? Yes, God loves us, but do you really think he cares if we have a nice car, home, and money? Why would He not have given it to His Son? Oh, sorry, He let Jesus be killed, FOR US! So, why is He such an inconvenience to us?
Well, I may be wrong. People say that I am most of the time, but here is why…BECAUSE, it is too much trouble. Because we have not been taught the truth. Because we are satisfied feeling good about how blessed we are and how much God loves us! Because we are afraid to tell anyone about Jesus, they may get mad. Because we like the world, it is a lot more fun! Because, if we are a pastor we do not want to upset anyone. What if they go to hell simply BECAUSE, we didn’t want to tell them the Truth?
Do we not think it may be time we stopped worrying about why we don’t do things? Because if we don’t, it very well may be too late.

Why?

It has always been a joke between my oldest daughter and me that we were, or are, going to write books someday. The title of hers would be “Why, and mine would be titled “Because”. Well, I am not going to write a book in this post; and besides, I have taken her title. The only goal of this particular writing is to answer the age old apologetic question of “why”. Not why in regards to a particular worldview, or an argument concerning the Bible, but simply why does it seem no one cares?
Let me provide a short background to the reasoning behind “why”. I was agnostic for forty one years of my life. In fact, I thought Christianity was stupid, for “nerds”, old people, or those that needed a crutch for life. I felt Christians were funny, not real smart, and boring. In fact I rather enjoyed being invited to church, or to a special event, revival, hot dog sale, or whatever the feel good event of the month happen to be. Why you ask? It was part of why I was agnostic for so long. They, Christians, lived in their happy little world feeling all saved and sanctified. It was a strange little club I did not want anything to do with. But none of them, at least no one that I met, could tell me why! Why they believed in God, the Bible, Jesus or anything I happen to ask. The only answer was “Faith”, to go to heaven, and because the Bible says so. I enjoyed my life. I drank. In fact, I practiced drinking “adult beverages” to the point that I was rather proud of how much I could drink for my size. I had jobs, one which paid over $100K a year. Life was good. Please do not misunderstand, my parents did take me to church. I went to youth group, and all the good Christian stuff a kid is supposed to do; thus, this writing, the frustration, and the question…Why?
So, why? Why after trusting Christ nine years ago at forty one years old do I now find that what I used to feel about Christianity–that they can’t tell you why–seems to be true? I personally believe someone should indeed know why, yet I can’t seem to find many that want or care to find out why. You see, I took God’s salvation seriously, as most say they do, to the point of going to college to find answers. Well, I found them, and continue to learn more as I am completing my second Master’s degree in December. And now, I have limited knowledge on why, and God, I believe, really wants me to share it with others. In fact, at one point I thought He wanted me to plant a church, and He very well may, but currently, as you can see if you are reading this, I am the Chapter Director at Marshall university of an apologetics club with Ratio Christi.
Back to why…why do preachers preach the same thing they preached when I was a child? Why do churches do the same things they were doing and continue to do? Why can no one answer basic questions concerning why they believe any more than they could years ago? Why does no one seem to care? Why am I the odd one out? Why am I extreme, fanatic, or take it too seriously? Why do we believe that simply being nice is what we are supposed to do? Why is every church doing what the other church is doing, none of which are doing anything any different than we ever have? I think you probably get the point, though this may end up being more than a one time post concerning why?
It seems black and white to me; make disciples, have an answer. So why are we doing everything but those two things? Why is all I ask? Why?

How to LOSE friends…through apologetics

Apologetics has notoriously been known to cause division. There are many reasons that, sadly, could be responsible for this stereotype of such a vital discipline. Some possibly reasonable, others, well, not so much. I hear comments all the time such as “apologetics is just arguing”, “we don’t need apologetics”, “what is apologetics”, what are you apologizing for?”, and of course “God, the Bible, or insert word concerning Christianity here, doesn’t need defending”. I am pretty sure I know why apologetics has gotten such a bad reputation, and that is why many lose friends though apologetics.

If you are reading this then you probably already know the definition of apologetics; the Greek term apologia meaning to give a defense or to reason. And most, unfortunately not all, know we are commanded in 1 Peter 3:15 to have an answer, give a defense or reason, for the hope we have. and do it with gentleness and love. And here begins part of why apologetics seem to get the “bad rap”.

In my personal experience it seems I struggle with the “gentleness and love” portion of the previously mentioned verse. It is not something I do on purpose. However, it does seem no matter how much one tries to present a defense or reason for our hope it appears to be blunt, harsh, unloving, and of course not Christ like. Yet if you were to consider the topic, and any other topic for that matter, when someone defends a position, especially a popular belief of others, regardless of topic, the other party does not seem to like it very much. Unfortunately, this is where apologetics come in to play. You see, we strive to state facts, and firmly believe there is objective truth. What this means to others is we all cannot be right. Thus for the new apologist, and sometimes the more disciplined ones’ the gentleness and love appears to be more like “know it all”. I promise you none of us know it all and never will. We do not intend on making others feel stupid, neither do we get angry. Apologetics is a passion for us. It is a call from God on our hearts. It is an extreme, did I say extreme, frustration to us when it seems no one cares. Our goal is not to belittle anyone. It is to strengthen the follower and reach the lost by providing evidence, or a defense and reason of why we believe what we believe. So why would that cause us to lose friends? I mean Jesus used apologetics, Paul used it, and the Bible commands all believers to have an answer, thus leading one to ask, then what is the problem?

I touched briefly on part of the problem earlier, the gentleness and love problem, but it is much more than that. And guess where the most opposition comes from. Not those outside of the faith, but the church itself! Seems kinda strange huh? I mean we are told to make disciples, to have an answer, and to love God with all of our heart soul and mind. But yet, the church, meaning professing followers, are the largest group of friends being lost. Yes, both lost in the sense of salvation, and lost as a friend period. Don’t do it! I know you are wanting to! Do not verse sling the dreaded judge not here. Thank you, now back to losing friends. I could not tell you how many friends and family I personally have lost, or at least made mad simply by sharing Truth, evidence, and reason with them. And I am not the only one! People do not like controversy, believe whatever they like, (which is their right), and especially do not want to hear that something as close to their heart as God, or the belief they have concerning him, is wrong. So what makes me right and them wrong? Well, as I stated I do not have all of the answers, but I assure you the one’s I have are backed by evidence. I also promise that I am open to learn, and to be told I am wrong, just not based on an emotion or feeling though. And it does appear much of the belief concerning Christianity is based on emotions, feelings, or simply blind faith as we refer to it. I know, get to the point! Fine, it is much easier to have a conversation with an atheist, anyone believing another worldview, or even someone that believes but is not a professing follower of God. You see, each of these groups of people know why the believe, or not believe, and most do not mind sitting down and discussing each of our beliefs in a rational fashion. But you tell a professing follower they like a false teacher, Joel, Benny, Ken, and others, or that a particular verse they “like”, or makes them “feel good” is being taken out of context, well you have a fight on your hands.

Many will “argue” apologetics is for the lost, so why would one be having these type conversations with other followers? Again, the Bible tells us to hold each other accountable, to judge each other, and most of all it tells us that its’ purpose is to “correct and rebuke”. We are to call out false teachers. We are to share with our brothers and sisters the context in which a particular verse, or for that matter book, within the Bible is to be taken. However, though we are instructed to do these things, most only follow the parts they like and that make them comfortable. So the next time you “tweet”, “post”, or actually confront someone with facts and evidence, remember, though it is Biblical, you may lose friends through apologetics.