I got into an interesting debate with a family member and one of his friends online. Since a few months ago, I've decided not to respond very much to things I don't agree with. I disagree less than I used to, and I also just don't see the point.
But one thing I almost always speak up about is Jesus. I want everyone to have as much information as they can so they can make an educated and informed decision about their faith. When I see something that seems wrong, I try to correct it or provide more information.
DOCKING THE BOAT
Now reflect on this example in your life. Life is a journey filled with sunny days and rough waters. Sometimes the tides are high, and sometimes it's smooth sailing. The anchor is always with us. The anchor is our faith in Christ. It is our foundation. Sometimes we drop the anchor and step out on faith.
This series of sailing, anchoring, and taking up the tides again continues all of our life until we dock at our final destination: eternity.
WHEN THE ANCHOR DOESN'T HOLD
This often happens in the faith journey. Someone steps out on faith and they don't get the outcome they want, so they allow their faith to sink into the dark depths, probably never to be found again. They then can float off of the path that is best for them and drift down into even rougher waters like addiction, crime, and just plain despair.
What people so desperately need to remember is that faith grounds us. But our faith can easily sink without something else. That something else can be different for everyone.
For me, that something else is the evidence I've found and have been taught. The clear evidence that Jesus lived, ministered, died, and rose again. Evidence that other people knew about Jesus. Evidence from eye witnesses and even hostile forces that wanted Jesus to disappear.
It has always helped me to remind myself of the evidence the Bible and secondary sources give to tell us about Jesus and God.
Here are some things others may tether to their faith:
All of these things are excellent ways to remind yourself that you can step out on faith knowing and reminding yourself that God did for you once and he will do for you again, but in HIS time. If you step out on faith without that tether of security and confidence and things don't happen how you want them to, your faith might sink and disappear from your life.
God's goodness is all around us. We can't just give up when the enemy throws his punches. Tether yourself to weather the storm.
Skepticism is a good thing. A lot of skeptics of the Christian religion tend to be well-educated people who look to science and logic to form their views on the world and their views about reality.
As a Christian, this is why I like apologetics so much. It takes time to explore secondary knowledge found in the Bible that can aid in giving evidence for the existence of the Christian God. Today, I thought it would be fun to outline some of the scientific principles that are highlighted or hinted at in the Bible. Let's get started!
QUARANTINE AND PROTECTIVE MEASURES
"And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." - Leviticus 13:45-46
THE WATER CYCLE
"Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly." - Job 36:26-28
"Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:" Dueteronomy 23:12-13
THE STARS ARE INNUMERABLE
"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me." - Jeremiah 33:22
Scientists now estimate that there are at least hundreds of billions of stars in space. The Bible, however, made this known in 626 B.C.
At a point in my life, I wasn't really sure what I believed. I've always had a strong sense that we were created and placed on the Earth for a reason by a higher being. For most of my life, that higher being was the Christian God. That was, until college happened.
All of my questions were logical. They weren't "why don't I feel God" or anything like that. They were questions that had answers in the Bible. But I wanted to ground those answers outside of the Bible, too. I wanted to know both spiritually and mentally that God existed. I still have a hunger to be able to answer other questions that are similar, both for myself and for others.
So today, I want to share with you three particularly helpful sources outside of the Bible that helped me ground my spirituality in my intellect.
1: "COLD CASE CHRISTIANITY" BY J. WARNER WALLACE
I was fighting this particular battle. I always believed that God existed and Jesus had come down to save us from sin. But, I wasn't so sure I had (at least at the moment) believed in God and had faith in Him.
In the book, Wallace addresses a common complaint from non-Christians: the disciples accounts don't always match up exactly. The former cold case detective and hard-core atheist decided to examine the gospels as he would a cold case that would have little to no physical evidence.
He found that he would never expect witness testimony to line up exactly. If it did, it would point to some sort of conspiring that would mean the witnesses "got their story straight."
I love this book. You can get it online on Amazon for between $5.69 and $17.58.
2: GIVE ME AN ANSWER - YOUTUBE
I like this because it becomes sort of a debate. You get to not only hear from the educated pastor, but also from others with differing opinions. The others are usually students and sometimes faculty or staff at the University. This series not only helps you to identify some ways of approaching certain question that you or others may have, but it also teaches you about what non-Christians may believe and their reasons for it.
I am a huge advocate for healthy, friendly, and cordial debate. I think it is important to never stop thinking. Cliffe and his son, who is a licensed psychologist, are great at what they do. There are tons of videos for you to binge-watch, but I linked one of the more recent ones below.
3: "THE CASE FOR CHRIST" BY LEE STROBEL
Strobel is extremely relatable as he delves into asking some pretty tough questions that most people have doubts about. I love the narrative style, which makes for great listening in audiobook form!
You can purchase the book from $3.99 to $15 on Amazon!
4: CROSS-EXAMINED - YOUTUBE
"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek, turn to him the other also." - Matthew 5:39
We all have moments in our lives when someone does something mean to us to hurt us. Most of the time, these people just want a reaction from you. I remember hearing this verse often when growing up.
Just by logic, most would interpret this to say that you should let someone continue to abuse you either physically, spiritually, or emotionally. In fact, the lack of "retaliation" when someone wrongs you might be why some people don't want to learn more about Jesus. So, I wanted to clear some things up for today's #WorshipWednesday post!
LOOKING AT CONTEXT
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:" Matthew 5:38
"Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Deuteronomy 19:19-21
WHAT JESUS MEANS IN THE TEXT
It further evident that this is the case when you read Bible verses like those in Ephesians 6:10-11, where the Bible says to " be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
But, perhaps most importantly, I learned from these Bible study that God doesn't always want us to sit back and continue to let people walk all over us. Our response of kindness makes a statement. Our honest words said in a dignified and classy way will leave an impact. But none of us are perfect!
TIPS FOR RESPONDING WITH THE LORD'S STRENGTH
Some Christians have this thing called a "life verse." This is a verse that speaks to the person specifically for very personal reasons. Sometimes, this verse can change. However, I've had the same life verse for several years now.
I wanted to share my life verse for today's Worship Wednesday, and explain why it means so much to me.
MY LIFE VERSE:
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." - II Timothy 1:7
WHY THIS VERSE MEANS SO MUCH TO ME
A SPIRIT OF FEAR
I found out in college that this was due to General Anxiety Disorder. I was diagnosed by my college counselor, but I didn't do anything about it. The most I did was become more vocal with a few trusted individuals about my feelings. No meds, and no other counseling sessions.
But it is something that has to be dealt with somehow, and hopefully in a healthy way.
"FEAR OF THE LORD"
I just wanted to clear that up quickly and also point out that this shows the passing of time and changes in language use in Biblical text.
WHAT GOD GIVES US: POWER
I'll leave a link to verses on power here so you can check them all out for yourself. But, if you look at these verses, you'll see that God is exhalted as an other-worldly being that has much more power and strength than us humans. He created us, after all.
There is this beautiful image of all of us gaining the power of God when we accept Jesus as our savior. I most definitely believe that I feel more powerful over my anxieties than I used to. They don't control me as much. THEY ARE STILL THERE and I still struggle at times. This is normal and you shouldn't let any church official or person question your beliefs because you're not 100 percent after accepting the Lord. The Bible doesn't say being a Christian will solve all of your problems!
WHAT GOD GIVES US: LOVE
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - I Corinthians 13:4-7
These verses are precious and often quoted at weddings because the goal is to tell the couple that they should fight as hard as they can for their marriage because love is much more than a feeling. It is a way of life.
"And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones." - Mark 5:2-5
This man was obviously in mental pain. He resorted to hurting himself, likely because he had been regelated to an island to live among the dead. It is made clear by Jesus' casting out of the unclean spirits in the man that this wasn't something given to the man by God.
I feel a lot like those crazy people many times in my life thanks to my General Anxiety Disorder. However, I get comfort in reminding myself that my feelings aren't from God, but from the enemy. If the enemy is coming at you, you must be doing something right.
A whole lot of Americans were born into Christian families. They spend their Sundays and maybe even Wednesdays going to church, sitting with their friends during the message, and learning about Jesus.
But there comes a point where something is said or done that causes a lot of Christians to decide they no longer want to go to church or have a relationship with God anymore. There are a few things that happen: their parents were too strict, they never really connected with the messages, or someone in church said something that put them off.
IF ALL CHRISTIANS ARE GOING TO BE THIS WAY, WHY SHOULD I BOTHER COMING? CHRISTIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER AND KINDER.
Jonathan's home church is a lot different. It is more casual and contemporary, but still filled with the spirit of God. We started attending and got engaged. At this point, the pastor of the church lightly pressured us into hurrying our marriage along. We agreed and got married only a few months later. After this, the real problems began.
LISTING THE ISSUES
I started getting sick and losing all energy. So, we stopped coming on Wednesday nights. Our schedule was rather hectic and I still had a house to take care of.
Shortly after we stopped coming regularly on Wednesdays, but still coming on Sundays, Jonathan received a text message from the assistant pastor. He told my husband to "be a man" and make me come to church. This was not OK. You are not allowed to judge someone's manhood because they aren't forcing their sick wife to hop up and go to church when they wouldn't be able to focus on the message and might actually cause distraction to other churchgoers.
Before all of this happened, I served faithfully in the nursery. I went wherever I was told to go and helped in whatever way I could. I told the lady in charge of the nursery that I would be out of town on most holidays. Several of the ladies who served in the nursery were local and had family near them. We always go out of town to spend time with our parents, grandparents, and siblings.
SO I WAS BARRED FROM SERVING IN THE NURSERY BECAUSE I ASKED HER IF I COULD SWITCH DAYS WITH SOMEONE BECAUSE OF HER NEGLECT WHEN MAKING THE SCHEDULE. THIS REALLY HURT BECAUSE I LOVE CHILDREN AND NEVER COMPLAINED ABOUT SERVING IN THIS CAPACITY.
WHAT FINALLY HAPPENED
It all came to a close when the head pastor visited the house where we live to tell me that I should move or find a different church if I couldn't come every single service. I'd never been so frustrated before. I felt hopeless and wondered why I had ever stepped foot in that place.
But we decided to start looking for different churches. One of my coworkers told me about her church and we decided to give it a visit. From the moment I walked in, I knew it was going to be different. However, since our first visit, I never leave without feeling 1,000 times lighter. I leave with love in my heart and a good message to get me through to the next service. I wasn't getting that at our old church. It felt repetitive and mundane. It felt judgey and harsh.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT, AT THIS OLD CHURCH, THE PASTORS WOULD TALK ABOUT SPECIFIC PEOPLE BEHIND THE PULPIT. THEY WOULD TRY TO DISGUISE WHO THEY WERE PREACHING ABOUT, BUT THE CHURCH WAS SO SMALL THAT EVERYONE KNEW.
WHY I'M STILL A CHRISTIAN
I usually put people who are Christians or people with faith to a higher standard. I agree that everyone is human. But you can't go into every situation with an intent to hurt someone and they blame your actions on the fact that everyone is human.
After all, our call is to be like Jesus. It isn't like Jesus to name call or to treat someone with disrespect because they don't fulfill your requirements for the perfect person.
I'M STILL A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE IT ISN'T GOD'S FAULT THAT SOME HUMANS ARE AWFUL. I HAVE SEEN AND CONTINUE TO SEE PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS GOING THROUGH STRUGGLES OF THEIR OWN. CALL IT KARMA OR CALL IT GOD, BUT I THINK THAT IS TEACHING THEM A LESSON.
I love God. He gives me little reminders throughout the day that he is watching, listening, and caring for me. That's why I refuse to let someone influence my relationship with him.
It is easier said than done to ignore chaos around you to worship. When the stuff happening around you starts to impact your relationship with God and your ability to absorb a message, it is probably time to find somewhere new to learn and grow. And that's OK.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge music lover. You can probably tell by my handles on Instagram and Twitter being @gemusiclover (go follow me)!
So, for today’s #WorshipWednesday, I thought it might be interesting to share some famous songs that you’ve probably karaoked or jammed out to in the car that are said to be based on Bible verses or have some sort of imagery related to the Christian faith.
Let’s get started:
1: CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON | KANSAS
"And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want." - Luke 15:12-14
In Luke 15, Jesus shares the parable of the prodigal son. A man has two sons. The younger son asks his father to give him his inheritance, and the father does. The son goes out and wastes his treasure on “riotous living” and finds himself with no money in the middle of a famine.
Lyrics from the song say “I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high,” implying that the son was living the high life, but quickly found himself being “tossed about…like a ship on the ocean.”
2: JOSEPH, BETTER YOU THAN ME | THE KILLERS
"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." - Matthew 1:19-20
This song is pretty clear, in my opinion, but I thought it was interesting that the Killers had a song about Joseph, and it features a number of other artists! The song is about Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father of sorts, who sticks with Mary despite the fact that he was probably surrounded by controversy.
Some give-away lines include “are you bad at dealing with the fame, Joseph” and “you’re a maker, a creator, not just somebody’s dad.”
3: THE SOUND OF SILENCE | DISTURBED
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." - John 8:12
The Sound of Silence, originally by Simon and Garfunkel, was hauntingly remade by Disturbed. The lyrics are chock-full of imagery commonly associated with God and Heaven. It talks about light splitting the darkness.
“People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening,” is a reference to what a lot of people think heaven will be like. Many believe that communication with God will be more of a mental thing than a spoken thing. But, as the writer of the song implies, it doesn’t make sense to them made clear by the line “Fools said I you do not know, silence like a cancer grows.”
The writer then finds that the words were like silent raindrops.
4: WHERE IS THE LOVE? | THE BLACK EYED PEAS
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." - Matthew 5:38-39
I don’t know about you, but this was one of my favorite songs back in the day. It talks about the struggles of the world, mentioning in particular that people are dying from terrorism, police and gang violence, and more.
The song then says “Can you practice what you preach? Won’t you turn the other cheek?” The song then goes on to specifically as “father” for help and send guidance from above.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells others that they should turn the other cheek and refrain from retaliation when we are wronged.
5: HOW FAR IS HEAVEN | LOS LONELY BOYS
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:" - II Corinthians 5:1-2
This catchy tune is all about escaping the world to get to the paradise of Heaven. To me, the song listens like a modern-day Psalm.
The song has lyrics like “cause I know there’s a better place than this place I’m living,” and “I’ve been lost in my own place, and I’m getting weary.” This translates well with Corinthians 5:1 which says “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
There is a common misconception that there are several ways to get to Heaven when you die. This isn't true. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN.
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do: