Tuesday, December 03, 2013

99 Reasons for Faith - #94: The Christmas Story

It's been far too long since my last post on 99 Reasons for Faith. Nevertheless, I press on to list 99 reasons knowing that there are far more...today's reason: The Christmas Story.

The Christmas story is an introduction to a fantastic epic story that is compelling in its content, unfolding and implications. Think about it - all of humanity is imprisoned by a lethal and nefarious infection that brings depravity, death and darkness. A compassionate and wise supreme being condescends from infinite perfection to take on humanity as an essential part of his identity. He subjects himself to all the tedium and hardship of human life, fulfills all the ideals expected from mankind, demonstrates his divinity through his life, miracles and teaching and  offers this common and unique life up in sacrifice, all as the final cure for the destructive plague and all its effects. And then three days later, he rises from death to eternal life as the prototype for a new humanity. Pretty epic stuff. 

And the introduction of the story, the Christmas story, is intriguing just by itself – a visit by an angel, a virgin with child, a birth in a barn, worship by an army of spiritual beings, a promise of a the Savior for all, a grand announcement to mere working class common people first not last, a visit from foreign astrologer-nobles, a murderous king, a flight to Egypt and so on… It certainly makes for good reading, countless Christmas pageants and innumerable re-tellings throughout the past two millennia.

I think the gravity of this story, both in its literary weight and its historical implications, is a legitimate reason for faith. Yes, a good story isn’t necessarily a true story. But true and epic stories are often good stories. Wouldn't it be likely that the truest and most epic story be the best story?

Something to consider this Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Thoughts About God via AW Tozer to Start Your Day

Some gems from AW Tozer to start your day from The Knowledge of the Holy
(HT: Kjos Ministries)
"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ... Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God."


"For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Alwaysthe most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. ..."

"Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ”What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow. ..."

"A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God...."

"All the problems of heaven and earth, though they were to confront us together and at once, would be nothing compared with the overwhelming problem of God: That He is; what He is like; and what we as moral beings must do about Him...."


"The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place. 'When they knew God,'wrote Paul, 'they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.'"

"Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true."

"Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. The long career of Israel demonstrates."

"The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God."

"Before the Christian Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, 'What is God like?' and goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind."


"The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him - and of her. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past. This will prove of greater value to them than anything that art or science can ."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

99 Reasons for Faith - #95: My Experience of Church

The apostle Paul, in speaking about a Sunday church gathering, says this: "But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you." 
1 Corinthians 14: 24-25 (ESV)

One of the reasons for faith is the experience of God speaking directly to us through what we hear on Sunday. It could be the sermon, it could be a prophetic message someone shares, thinking it might be from God, or it could be just someone's own story, but time and time again I see God speak to people in such a profound and personal way that they feel that someone must have been spying on them or something. 

When you have that experience in church  it makes you feel very vulnerable but also very loved by God. That is when we say, "surely God is in this place!" That is when we experience another reason for faith.

I hope this experience is yours this Sunday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

99 Reasons for Faith - #96: The Stories of Jesus

There is something very compelling in the stories about Jesus. He is so wise, so compassionate, so insightful and so life changing in what we read about him in the gospels.

Our church has been going through the Gospel of Mark and in Mark 4:35-5:43 we are seeing all these qualities as he demonstrates his mastery over disaster, demons, disease and death. You can read for yourself here: http://biblia.com/books/esv/Mk4.35-5.43

There is no heroic figure quite like Jesus and I find the gospel stories compelling reasons for faith. How about you?

Monday, September 16, 2013

99 Reasons for Faith - #97: Our dog, Daisy

Yep, that's what I said, our dog, Daisy. 

We had to put Daisy to sleep this past Saturday. On Sunday, Peg and I and our four adult children gathered around her grave to give thanks to God for our beloved friend.

She had been getting progressively worse from an abdominal tumor and then suffered a serious stroke on Saturday. She basked in all the attention she received as we consoled her in her suffering. She went peacefully while we petted her, kissed her and told her she was the best dog ever.

She had been with us since a puppy. After moving four times in two years we had prayed for a dog to enjoy and mark the start of a new season of finally settling down in one place we could call home. We couldn't afford much but we received a gift from a friend and met someone who had a litter of champion Golden pups for sale. We met Daisy and immediately fell in love with our new family member. We believe God arranged to give us Daisy as a gift. 

I have to believe God arranged to give mankind dogs as a gift. Who would think an otherwise wild animal could ever be such a part of the family? How good for our hearts to have a furry friend that is always happy to see us, always eager to spend time with us, always there to console, ever loyal and protective. Dogs are a gift from God and evidence of His existence and goodness.

And Daisy was the best dog we ever had. We thanked God for this as we stood around her grave on Sunday. We will miss her much but always remember her as God's good gift to us.

So, reason #97: Our dog, Daisy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

99 Reasons for Faith - #98: Because I need an answer for the problem ofdeath.

Death just doesn't sit well with me, probably not with you either. It is just clearly wrong, contrary to the miracle of life and the beauty of those made in God's image. There simply has to be something more than our 70 year span. Death just doesn't fit. 

Faith in something bigger than the material world starts to give an explanation for the perplexing problem of death. Faith in Jesus who said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live," completes the explanation.

So, reason #98: Because I need an answer for the problem of death.

Friday, September 13, 2013

99 Reasons for Faith - #99: Because I find life very empty without God.

I have been thinking for a while to post on the various reasons for faith. This has been prompted by realizing that many people think that faith is unreasonable or that their reasoning process is not about faith. While I believe that faith is more then mere reason it is very tied to reason.  Faith in something that is true should demonstrate many reasonable evidences and foundations. Reason itself must begin with faith because it is based on numerous presuppositions that are ultimately taken on faith because they can not be proven beyond any possible doubt. I hope that all makes sense. As we go I will have more opportunity to talk about this very important topic of reasons for faith.

I will go from number 99 down to 1 generally increasing in importance of the reason. For today, reason #99, Because I find life very empty without God.

This may seem like an entirely subjective reason for faith in God, but it isn't. Certainly it is very subjective, but it is also very reasonable and logical. The reasons I feel life is empty without God have to to with the emptiness of pretty much every thought process and experience without some solid ground to stand upon. Everything from astrophysics to eating ice cream is much more reasonable and enjoyable when there is an infinite, perfect and glorious eternal being surrounding it and adding meaning and purpose, relationship and reason to it. Without such a being I find everything ultimately meaningless, fleeting and empty.

So, reason #99: Because I find life very empty without God.