Archive for the ‘ Religion ’ Category

Shooting at God?

Another shooting happened this week.

This time, it was in Sutherland Springs, TX, at the First Baptist Church.

Let us remember all of those affected and pray for peace, forgiveness, and strength to move forward.

It looks like it may have been a “domestic dispute” between the shooter and his in-laws.

It also appears he was a preacher of Atheism and the downfall of Christianity.

Regardless, and before I knew these tidbits, I could not help but think:

Is this the post-Christian America we have been promised for years?

Here are some of the reasons I ask:

  • The usual call for stricter controls on guns and people began immediately.
  • Groups like Antifa (Anti-Fascists) are calling for stricter laws across the board.
  • There have been calls for how this is Christians’ fault, anyway, and to see how obviously their prayers were not being answered so how could there be any god.

First, Atheist and other non-religious groups have been calling for all forms of religion to be abolished and for “true human freedom” to reign, but without solid examples of how one must live. Now people wonder why our society seems to be going down the toilet. We removed moral absolutes, and they wonder why we act more like animals. It seems that without the Christian God to help teach us how to be self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23), we rely on outward control. (i.e. More and stricter laws.)

This leads to the second point. We see groups claiming to be anti-fascist that promote known fascist governments. We see the call for the breakdown of walls between cultures with new walls to be up (such as wanting to celebrate what is great about other cultures but not letting those outside of those cultures dress up as them for Halloween). Because we cannot trust people to self-regulate (control their emotions), society must help by saying what others are allowed to think and do.

Finally, Christians and our God get mocked and blamed when this kind of violence erupts. Am I complaining about this as other prominent Christian leaders have been doing, perhaps calling for more protection for our religious beliefs\?

Actually, no.

This is what I expect to happen. Especially if we truly are a “post-Christian nation” … and if I believe the Bible.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”
John 15:18-25

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

As we see society move farther away from God, I expect to see more people shooting at God — through shooting and otherwise attacking His people, the Church.

These things are crazy, stupid, and sad, but in a fallen world that lashes out at the very idea of God I expect it.

This should push us to pray all the more for peace, repentance, and the swift return of our Lord.

I Gotta Have Faith: Whose Fool Are You?

Welcome back, people of the internet!

Today’s topic: FAITH!

Why?

Recently, I have heard several people – including Richard Dawkins, AronRa (an atheist apologist?), Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy – all call faith in general, with Christians in particular, foolish.

These people claim that Christians believe with a blind faith, that they do not believe in the Bible or God for any good reason, but just because that is what they were told to believe.

Is this true?

What is faith?

According to Hebrews 11:1 (ESV):

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

So, what does this mean?

Basically, faith is trusting and believing something based on evidence. Something that is not seen is believed because there are things we can see and test that support it.

A popular example is a chair.

The chair looks sturdy. I have seen other chairs hold people up. Therefore, I have faith this chair will hold me up.

How do I know your faith is true?

Live it out. Show me. Sit on the chair. Show your faith by sitting.

Another example is a compass.

We believe a compass points north, because we have seen so many compasses point north.

(Though, it is possible a compass can be manipulated by magnets …)

“Ah,” you may say, “But that is science!”

Conviction of things unseen …

What evidence do we see of not seeing things in science?

A lot!

What about black holes?

We have never seen black holes, because they literally eat light. So, how do we know they exist? We have evidence they are there.

An interesting example from the past few years is the Higgs boson.

The Higgs boson is, essentially, what gives matter mass (the ability to have weight and substance). It was theorized using mathematics. The so-called “God particle” (actually, the “Oh my God particle”, from a note scribbled by a physicist) was officially discovered by slamming atoms together in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and using the resulting mathematical probabilities to “see” this “thing”.

In other words, it was seen through the symbols of mathematics.

It was not actually seen with eyes. Rather, it was predicted (hoped for) and then proved through mathematics. We used these symbols to express the evidence of what we cannot see to prove (have conviction) that it is there.

In the math.

Scientists use written symbols to find evidence of things unseen.

Sound familiar?

You could say I have faith that people have faith, even when they are “faithless.” Because I see the evidence.

They say “These words made out of symbols and numbers tell me this should be here, and I am going to believe it because all of the other math checks out, too.”

So, why do we as Christians believe the Bible?

Because we have these words that tell us about Jesus.

Some of you may remember the Four Core Facts I covered a few years ago. What does this have to do with anything?

The Four Core Facts:

  1. The Crucifixion (and Resurrection) of Jesus Christ
  2. The Despair of the Disciples
  3. The Change in the Disciples (Their despair becoming willingness to die for the truth of #1)
  4. The Conversion of Paul

If you are willing to objectively look at this evidence, you can see the evidence for the truth of God and His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

That evidence includes that Jesus quoted the Old Testament, which we know existed before He was born, He claimed it was about Him, and then He claimed He would die and raise again.

And He did it! Thus validating what He said.

In fact, this is the ultimate evidence. Paul himself (you know, one of the most successful evangelists for the Church, having planted so many throughout the Roman Empire) said this is all that needed to be preached! (1 Corinthians 1:22-23, 2:1-2)

It could be argued that the Church itself is the biggest evidence.

Jesus proved it Himself.

So we do not believe it “Just because,” but because Jesus said He would die and come back and did.

One of many points of evidence of this kind of faith is Abraham.

God called Abraham to sacrifice his son. Some call this barbaric, but it really is not.

Abraham and his wife were way too old to have children, but God said “You will have a son.”

When God then called him to sacrifice this son, I can guarantee you that he thought something like, “Well, you said I would have a son through whom you would multiply my descendants, and here he is. You could easily bring him back to life, so though I may not like it, I will obey.”

God did not raise Isaac back to life (He did not need to), but He did do it with His own Son!

So there is faith: “I have seen the evidence. I may not see God. I may have seen Jesus Himself. I may not be able to see everything the Apostles and other disciples saw, but I see the written evidence.

People just do not want to accept the evidence.

So, whose fool are you?

Do have the foolish faith of a Christain or the foolish faith of those who say there is no God? (1 Corinthians 1-2)

I still have faith in science, even with a lot of people who do not believe the Bible, because the math and the science checks out and proves the validity.

I also have faith that God’s Word is true.

Oh the Humanity? A Response to the Las Vegas shooting

Hey, all!

I know just a week ago I said this site would be updated more often, but there was a quick day trip, errands to run, minor illnesses at home, and the need to respond to people about the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas shooter.

Which leads to today’s post finally coming your way.

I have had to respond to several people this week about all of the why’s, how come’s, and Am-I-allowed-to-be-angry’s. This video and post are one of those responses.

Charlie Hoehn wrote a response, “Why The Vegas Shooting Happened, and Why Men Keep Doing This”, in which he reasons that the biggest reason so many men commit mass shootings comes down to loneliness.

I do not disagree.

However, I think he missed the deeper reason.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9, ESV

We, as humans, are sick and deceitful. We are messed up, apart from God.

Clay Jones, an apologist and Associate Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, asks and answers the question “Is it inhuman that people do these things? Obviously not, since humans did them.”

Well, we are so messed up that we cannot understand what and why people do things. However, God answers his own rhetorical question in the next verse.

“I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Jeremiah 17:10, ESV

God, and God alone, understands our hearts.

Amazingly, it is in this knowledge that He has done something about it. As Job told us long before Jesus walked the Earth,

For I know that my Redeemer lives …
Job 19:25, ESV

We are horribly messed up, but Jesus, our Redeemer, lives!

Jesus came and lived an in-messed up life, then he was horribly messed up for us by being crucified so that our sins could be forgiven and our sick hearts could be cured. He now lives in resurrection power.

That is our response.

The world is messed up, and it is our fault, but God can change our hearts to change our world.

It is sad and horrible what happened in Las Vegas and happens around our world, but our Redeemer lives!

DoA – Not Dead on Arrival, but Day of Atonement 2017!

Hello and Shalom!

At the time of recording, it was the day before Yom Kippur, the Hebrew term translated as the Day of Atonement! By the time you read/watch this, it is either the actual day or after that day. (See Leviticus 16 and 23:26-32)

Either way, by our Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur happens to be from sunset Friday, September 29, to sunset Saturday, September 30, 2017. This means it actually falls on a Sabbath, this year!

Here are the basics:

Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – was the only day of the year that the High Priest of Israel could enter the Holy of Holies – the inner-sanctum of the Temple, or Tent of Meeting during the Exodus – and offer the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole nation of Israel.

It was possible to have personal sins forgiven throughout the rest of the year by going and offering sacrifices, but they were continuously needed.

When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, he would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant. (See Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9; and Deuteronomy 10)

The Ark was first built with wood and then overlaid with gold. It is interesting to think about something that can waste away being covered with something more permanent and made to look beautiful.

Moving on, in Hebrews 9:3-4 we learn what is inside of the Ark of the Covenant (AotC).

  1. In Exodus 16:32-34, we read that an omer of manna (roughly 2.2 Liters), of the bread that was formed by the morning dew resting on the ground, was to be put into a jar and placed into the AotC. This demonstrates God’s provision for his people.
  2. In Numbers 17, we read of Aaron’s staff that budded. The story recounts that each of the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel were to give their staffs to Moses to put into the Tent of Meeting, and the one that budded – had flowers grow from it – would be God’s chosen spiritual leader – the High Priest – of the nation.
    Not only did it bud, but this piece of a dead tree had new life grow from it: flowers that attract our eyes and nose, AS WELL AS almonds. This was also placed into the AotC, and it demonstrates God’s spiritual (and emotional and other sensations!) provision for his people.
  3. Deuteronomy 10 recounts the story of the 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments. Originally, God gave Moses two tablets, but when Moses came down from the mountain he found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf (already breaking the first 3 Commandments!) In his anger, Moses smashed the tablets.
    When he climbed up the mountain again, God had him chisel out new tablets, and then God used his own finger to write the Commandments on the new stones. These are what were placed into the AotC. These symbolize God’s expectations for His people, how they are supposed to live.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Christians?

WELL! Hebrews 9-10 explain the relevance to us!

Firstly, we have one final High Priest, Jesus. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we have complete and total atonement! No other high priest nor sacrifice is ever needed for the washing of sins. He finished it!

Just as the High Priests of old would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice onto the AotC, Jesus’ blood is sprinkled over our hearts, cleansing us of our sins.

Now for the fascinating bit, when things get quite allusionary and allegorical!

The Temple symbolizes our bodies. Therefore the Holy of Holies is the chest cavity, and the Ark is the heart. The lid of the AotC is called the Mercy Seat.

Do you see the connection so far? His blood sprinkled over the heart to purify us?

Cool.

Thinking of the AotC being made of wood covered in gold, it is like our hearts – also something perishable – are covered and even replaced with the beautiful and imperishable! Our Atonement is attained … if we believe! … because God has chosen us through His Chosen One!

Now for the deep stuff:

  1. What about the Manna? Jesus explained in the Gospel according to John (see John 6:35, 49-51) that He is the Bread of Life. When we believe in Him, the Holy Spirit places Him within our hearts. He explained that when we eat of his flesh (Communion/the Eucharist), we join in His sacrifice and are spiritually sustained.
  2. Likewise, what about the staff? Jesus explained a chapter earlier (see John 5:24) that whoever hears His word and believes Him who sent Him (God the Father sent God the Son) has eternal life.
    In other words, when we believe in God and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we are given new life! Just as the staff budded, we are awakened to and promised eternal life!
  3. And the Law written on the stone tablets? This time, we look back at an Old Testament prophecy from Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). God tells us there that through the Atonement and the Holy Spirit we have God’s law written on our hearts. We now know what it looks like and how to live out the Law, i.e. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. We cannot fully and properly live out the Law, but through Christ, it is fulfilled and we are helped by the Holy Spirit!

How amazing is that?!

That is how the Day of Atonement is still applicable. However, instead of looking forward to a day when our sins can be atoned for, we live daily in atonement thanks to Jesus the Christ!

May your Day of Atonement be blessed as you reflect on what God has done for you.

Daniel

 

a simple (re-)Intro

Hello, world! … again …

Things are gonna be changing around here! Watch the video for a full explanation.

The highlights?

  1. The website will be going through changes.
    1. For starters, the “.wordpress” has been removed, so that the site is now https://asimplemanofgod.com
    2. The site might also have some visual changes. Including … VIDEO
  2. There is now a way to e-mail us! Whether for questions, comments, or a way to get in touch for any other reason.
    together@asimplemanofgod.com
  3. I have invited some other men to come alongside me in producing content
    1. Blog posts – collaboratively or individually
    2. Videos – we are on YouTube!
  4. The focus will always be helping people see how simple theology can be:
    1. What does the Bible mean?
    2. How can we apply the Bible and theology to our lives?
    3. Apologetics – how can we defend the faith?
    4. What theology is in our music?

It may be a bit shaky at first – all of the changes, getting content posted consistently – but here is to a new start … on the weekend of the Day of Atonement! (A post coming just a little later on this!)

Blessings,

Daniel

Re-17 but not 17 Again

WIN_20160109_11_45_22_Pro.jpg

Today is my amazing mother-in-law’s birthday.

Also, it is what I call my Re-birthday.

17 years ago today, in a small Nazarene church in Bloomington, IL, I realized that I believed the Gospel message. Jesus got a firm hold of me, and that is when everything began to change for me. It took about six more months for it to really mean something to me, but the change was evident even then. (Ask my parents, who, at the time, were annoyed with my sudden music choices and leaving radios on around the house.)

The point of all of this, then, is that Jesus is Lord. And the picture above shows that I celebrate by baking a cake, and I serve it to others.

Why?

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:7, 10, 24

Just like the song says, this wretch was lost and dead, but now I am found and alive. This calls for celebration!

Therefore, I finish with the full reason for this post by quoting Jude (3):

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Let us celebrate our common salvation and share this faith with our fallen world!

 

Being the Wheat with Ignatius of Antioch

Long for the wisdom of God, and begin feeding that longing at Proverbial Thought!

Continuing on with prayers from the Saints in history, I turn us now to Ignatius of Antioch.

It seems clear that Ignatius based this prayer on the words of Jesus from John 12:23-26 (ESV):

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

May we become those who do not consider our lives of any worth apart from the Lord, indeed, that our lives are entirely in the hands of our God and Savior!

I am the wheat of God,
and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts,
that I may be found the pure bread of God.
I long after the Lord,
the Son of the true God and Father, Jesus Christ.
Him I seek, who died for us and rose again.
I am eager to die for the sake of Christ.
My love has been crucified,
and there is no fire in me that loves anything.
But there is living water springing up in me,
and it says to me inwardly:
“Come to the Father.”

Ignatius of Antioch, ~35-110