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May 2012 entries

Unexplainable vs. Undeniable

I recently returned from a teaching retreat at The Cove in Asheville, NC. During one of the morning devotions the Lord brought to mind a talk I heard Andy Stanley share on one of his podcasts. The subject was the difference between the undeniable and the unexplainable. I began to share this with the group and it seemed to strike a chord and the subject came up several times during the retreat. I thought I would see if it did the same with the readers of my blog.

We seem to struggle when unbelievers and doubters challenge our faith. They usually do so in the area of  the unexplainable. How do you explain the story in the Old Testament where God made the sun stand still? How about bad things happening to good people, or the holocaust, how does a good God allow these things to happen? Can God make a rock so big that He cannot lift it? The questions often come in the realm of science. Did dinosaurs and man live at the same time in the same place? If light from the nearest star takes longer to get to the earth than creationists say the star has existed, then how is it we can see the light at all?

As a man of faith I can deal with those questions. I have come to grips with most of the skeptics issues after years of growing in my faith and the study of the Bible. But rarely can I win an argument with a skeptic. The arguments become emotional rather than rational. I have found that I can capture the attention of my unbelieving audience with the undeniable facts of my personal faith. The cannot attack my personal testimony. When I came to believe in Christ He turned my world around. I lost the desire for the things that once dominated my life. I became a better person. I could sleep at night. It wasn't after counseling, or after  I read a book or became better educated. I was changed because I had an encounter with almighty God. That they cannot deny.

This has always been the case. When the man was asked to give an account of how Jesus could be the Messiah or a sinner  he simply said, "this one thing I know, I once was blind, but now I see!" (John 9:25) It was his personal healing that could not be denied. When Jesus spoke of eternal life and life beyond the grave, His skeptics denied His teaching. But when He arose from the grave He crushed their arguments. In the Book of Revelation, the saints during the Tribulation defeated Satan with "the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony!" (Rev. 12:11)

 The word of your testimony is the argument for faith in Christ that no one can deny. There is no argument that can stand against it. If we are going to change the world around us, it is not because we prepared a better brochure or won a debate. We are going to turn things around because we are letting the light of Christ burn brightly in our lives! 

The Real Super Heroes

I heard on a news program yesterday that The Avengers did over $200 million at the box office this weekend. It's next closest rival took in $8 million. Someone told me at church Sunday that it is well worth the extra cash to see it in 3D. I might. It's kind of pricey to rent those glasses when it works just as well if you keep your eyes crossed through the whole movie while sitting no further back than the second row. This dictates that I can't sit with my wife who says something like, "I don't know this man" as people see me cross eyed waving for her to sit beside me. It's also confusing when I keep throwing Coke in the air and try catching it in my mouth as I try to sip on my popcorn.

Why do we go so ga-ga over super heroes? Other than the tight outfits I can't understand why adults go to observe demi-gods with hammers or mutant girls whose touch turns a hot blooded male to ice. Have we accomplished so little in our own lives that we must live vicariously through fictional characters who save the world from aliens and asteroids? Maybe, but I don't think so. At least that's not what's going to get the plastic out of my wallet in exchange for 3D glasses and a paper stub. I think it is as much about their weaknesses as it is about their strengths.

Whether it was an identity crisis or kryptonite, Superman could save the world and still go home weak and depressed. Daredevil had to deal with physical impairment. He could compensate for it while fighting, but never in his personal life. Thor is a demi-god, but he comes from a dysfunctional family that makes my childhood home look like the Cleavers. Every super hero has some personal cross to bear. Yet, they fight back their insecurities while they save the world. That's what makes them appealing to me.

Closer investigation of Biblical heroes reveals the same truth. Each had to fight through physical, mental or spiritual issues while still being someones hero. Moses had an Egyptian skeleton in his closet and fear of speaking in public that caused him to question God as His choice for an enormous task. David struggled with lust. All of the disciples were so insecure in their faith that they had to ask Jesus if they were the one to betray Him at the Last Supper. Paul was self conscious of his appearance. As a matter of fact, neither Moses, David or Paul could pass the background check to work for a church or the mission board. They had all taken another persons life at one time or another. Still God used them all to be someones hero.

There are no perfect people. There are only imperfect people. Some who don't let their faults disqualify them from doing great things. They are my heroes!          

A Trip in the "Way Back" Machine (Conclusion)

(Continued from last week's post)

A church did finally take a chance on him. They didn't have much to lose. No building payments had to be met. There were no buildings. Just  a school that was willing to let this little church meet in their cafeteria on Sundays. No staff salaries had to be paid. There was no paid staff beside this preacher. No traditions to be honored and very few people to be let down. So he began his work at this little mission church still trying to fit into the religious community where piousness was the greatest virtue and humility was... well for other people.

As we move forward a few years in our way back machine, we find this pastor a little heavier and a little more tired. He has grown the church with decent preaching and a lot of hard work. The church now has a few hundred members instead of a few dozen. The mission has become a church and now has built its first buildings. Still, inside the pastor something is terribly wrong. He still is acting. On the outside, he is putting his tie on along with his religious smile, while on the inside he is dying spiritually. That's when it happens.

While walking away from an empty auditorium one weekday after pouring his heart out to the Lord, God speaks. He is not sure if it is audible, but he knows it is loud, and he knows it is God. In a phrase this is what God said. "I made you who you are. Stop being what people expect or want you to be. Be yourself. I didn't make a mistake when I called you or created you."

If you are observing the face on this weary preacher from the comfortable bench seat of my way back machine, you will notice a smile. If you could feel what he is feeling, you would notice that 100 tons of worry have just been lifted off his back. In a word, he feels free for the first time in years.

Periodic stops coming forward on my way back machine will reveal that it has not always been easy for this man. People have not always understood his methods. Sometimes his motives have been questioned. Some who hold religious tradition in high regard have walked away from him and labeled him a rebel, an actor, a liberal and even worse. Still the words he heard that day from His creator are repeated in his soul, "Be yourself." To that calling he has stayed true. He no longer lives for the applause of men, but only to hear the his Father say, "That's my boy."