Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wild Ride!

Wow, this last year has been a crazy ride. While working full time with Joe Lunghamer selling cars, going to school full time, working more and more with the youth at Faith and loving on my family, this last year has been a huge blessing.

I often remind myself that everything I do is for the Lord. I cannot express the amount of knowledge I have gained while attending Liberty University. Everything from my Theology classes to Philosophy, to the love gospel of John, it has been an incredible journey. I thank those people that have encouraged me to follow this path that the Lord has given me; my beautiful wife Amanda, Pastor Chris Doak, Pastor Jayson Combs, Pastor Jim Combs and Pastor Ernesto Alaniz. You all kept encouraging me to get my schooling and now that I only have 6 months left, it makes me a little sad. I don't want to stop. I have learned so much about God's word that I didn't know before.


My amazing wife has been so awesome this last year. She has had to put up with a lot of late nights, me staying up to do homework, not coming to bed with her, Sunday's with me locked in the bedroom studying, not being able to help as much with household chores. Thank you babe for being so amazing and supporting me through this amazing journey!


My little girl has gotten so big! Every day is new, every day is a new adventure, a new word, a new look. Lorelai changes everyday and sometimes I feel like I missed something. She is now speaking in full sentences. This morning as I am leaving I give her a kiss and say I love you, and she says Love you too, and that she'll miss me. When did my baby girl turn into this sweet little girl that runs up to me when I get home and raps her arms around my legs.


To the amazing pastors that are my spiritual mentors and guides, you guys are amazing. I am SURE that Jayson is probably getting annoyed with me, asking so many questions. We don't always agree on things, but you have sure been a huge help to me through this time. I love being able to work with you in the church, and learning how to work with youth. These kids are a huge part of my world! I am so blessed by these kids everyday and especially this year working on these service events.


Writing this blog has been an amazing journey for me. I thank all of you that continue to read it. It helps me further my knowledge and my writing skills. It is amazing to write down all that I feel on a specific subject and get feedback from a lot of you. Writing this helps me to expand on what I am learning at Liberty and also let all of you learn right along with me. This is probably my last blog for the year. I am taking 18 credit hours next semester, so I am sure I will be posting a lot of material after January 14. Pray for me because this will be hard but I know that the Lord has a plan for me, and I know that He will guide me.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Spirit

"Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God." -George F. McDougall

It's Christmas everyone! Be of good cheer!

While Lorelai is only 2 years old, we try to teach her the true meaning of Christmas. She knows about Santa, about Christina Marie (Her Christmas elf,) and that Christmas she gets presents; but we also ask her what Christmas really means. We try and teach her that the true meaning of Christmas is all about Jesus. We are teaching Lorelai that Christmas is Jesus' birthday.

In the time that should be all about God and His gift to us, His son Jesus, we should remember to follow the words of Jesus. While reading the quote above, I thought of what Christ teaches us about prevailing over hatred. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus teaches "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." How are each of us loving our enemies in this time. How about loving strangers, people that you don't even know their names? It is important to remember that Christ teaches us to love everybody, not just our friends, our family, and our enemies.

There are so many outlets out there that are showing hate, what's the latest news on the shooter at the school, instead of showing all the people that are helping the town. Do something for someone today that you would not normally do. Send a card to somebody that needs it, call someone and pray for them and be a blessing to a person that would not expect it from you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Right to Work

Alright, so I have to chime on in this whole "Right to Work" issue. I contemplated all day yesterday whether I should post something on Facebook or not, because I didn't want to stir up any issues. I have many friends that are anti-union and many that are pro-union. But I figure that you come on here to read my opinion anyways, so I will blog about it.

At one time, the unions were incredibly important. They were placed to protect the workers of companies and make sure they received fair pay and benefits, but also kept them safe. There are now programs put in place to keep workers safe and I believe that unions have served it's purpose, and either need to be restructured or gone away.

I am all for our police officer and firemen unions. These men and women risk their lives everyday for us and I don't think they get paid enough to do what they do. I believe that teachers unions are good to a point, but they protect way too many lazy teachers that have tenure. Also, shame on all those teachers yesterday that called off to go picket Lansing and schools had to shut down. You became a teacher to teach children, and those schools had to call a day off because of your pride. Shame.

I believe automotive unions are one of the reasons why our automotive industry is in the tank right now. I believe that too many people got greedy for too long now. The automotive unions protect those who should have lost jobs, pay too much for meaningless jobs, and feed the pockets of the hungry, greedy union bosses.

For those so called peaceful union members that attacked the Right to work supporters yesterday...I just don't understand this. You always hear that Democrats are the peaceful side and Republicans are the hateful side. I am not standing up for one or the other; but the anti-Republican, pro-union people that attacked others yesterday should be ashamed. This country is beautiful because we have the right to stand up for what we believe in and say what we think is right, but when you start attacking other people, that is horrible. This shows that you are anti-American, don't stand for what is right in this country, and anti-freedom of speech.

So, I am not anti-union, if anything I believe that our unions need a restructuring, a face-lift per say. I know this is just my opinion, but I hope my opinion does not offend anybody.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


John wrote about eight “I Am” sayings of Jesus Christ. These sayings were expressed in such a way that Christ wanted those who heard Him to know exactly what He was talking about. These eight “I Am” sayings are given to those around Jesus in ways that the people will understand. He uses His environment and objects close by to help Him teach those who are listening. People understand bread, light or shepherding in the times of Jesus, it is what they were used to. Jesus uses eight of these circumstances to further his deity and people can now see how it relates to the Old Testament prophecies.

In John 6:35 Jesus states that He is the bread of life. The disciples had just eaten a meal provided by the Lord when Jesus fed thousands. They had their fill of food and they are satisfied. Jesus starts talking to them and states that the reason they have believed is not because they saw his miracle, but because they were full. The disciples then bring up the manna that had fulfilled the Israelites during the time of Moses, and Jesus said that He is now the Bread of Life. That bread had sustained life and God gave that manna to provide nourishment and life to the Israelites. Jesus now refers to himself as that bread that will provide life. He says that “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry...” in John 6:35. This is the first time that Jesus refers to Himself as that everlasting nourishment that the disciples will need.

Light was an important necessity in the time of Jesus. People had to get their work done during the day because they didn't have the tools we have now for light. So Jesus used this tool to teach those that knew how important light was. Jesus was approached by pharisees that had caught a prostitute in a bad position. The pharisees brought this woman to Jesus to try and trick Jesus. They asked Jesus what should be done with this woman, because according to Old Testament law, she needed to be stoned to death. They knew that if Jesus answered in their favor and to stone her, that Jesus was no friend to the people and would be just like the pharisees, but if Jesus answered in favor of the woman, He would be ignoring the Word of the Lord. After the altercation, Jesus starts teaching the people saying He is the light of the world. Anyone that comes to Him will no longer be in darkness. These people understand how important the light and darkness is. He wanted the people to know that He was the light in moral darkness. For those that try to assume a moral compass, that He was the one they needed to find. As stated by Elmer Towns, Jesus may have also been comparing Himself as a “...reminder to the people of the cloud/pillar of fire a theophany that was a manifestation of God Himself,”1 to show that He is their Light and Guide.
Another thing that Jesus does for the Light of the World “I AM” is the healing of the blind man to show that He is the Light to the world physically. In John 9:5, Jesus once again reminds His disciples that He is the only light of the World after healing the blind man. He physically used earth and spittle to show that man is still made from God and was originally from the Earth.

Jesus is speaking with the Pharisee's and using the example of a shepherd and the area where sheep are contained. They know about these things, so Jesus uses things and objects in people's lives that they know about; even today. But according to John 10:6 the pharisees didn't understand what Jesus was trying to tell them. Jesus was trying to tell the people that the only way to protection or salvation, as a sheep would be protected in it's area, is through Him. He is that door to salvation and He is the only way in to the salvation. Through Jesus we receive life and salvation. As Leon Morris puts it; “If there is but one door for all the race, then once more we are reminded of something very important about Jesus.”2 This is another reminder of His deity and the only way to salvation.

The actual word that Jesus uses when describing Himself as the Good Shepherd is kalos,which means good with “moral overtones,” as described by Elmer Towns in The Book of John: Believe and Live. This word is meant to mean noble or beautiful, or many other meanings along that same line. I like how Vincent puts it “The epithet kalos, applied here to the shepherd, points to the essential goodness as nobly realized and appealing to admiring respect and affection.”3 Christ is showing he is worthy of admiration, glory and honor. Everything a shepherd is supposed to be is a guardian, trusting, loving; and Jesus is saying that He is all of these things. He may also be symbolizing that He would give His life for His people as a shepherd would for his sheep. In 1 Samuel 17:34-35 it states “But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from it's mouth. When it turned to me, I seized it by it's hair, struck it and killed it.” (NIV) David was explaining to Saul that as a shepherd he would give his life for his sheep, and that is also what Jesus was trying to explain.

Jesus' great friend has just passed away. Lazarus, Martha and Mary are considered to be friends of Jesus and Lazarus has passed. While speaking with Martha, Jesus states that Lazarus will rise again. Mary responds with what she comprehends. She says that she knows that he will arise on the last day, and she believes in the teachings of Jesus. But Jesus then responds that He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus is trying to explain that He is bigger than death, that not even this can stand in his way. He is over life and death. Jesus is life and He can bring Lazarus back from the dead. The deity of the Lord and Savior rose a man from the dead.

In John 14:6 Jesus states that “I am the way, the truth and life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (NIV) Jesus is the only way to the Father. In the Old Testament the only way to get to the Father was going to priests, and they would approach the father for you on the Day of Atonement. Now, Jesus is the only way you can approach the Father. Jesus saying that He is the Truth is saying to be careful what you believe. There are many false teachings and people saying that the can help you to the Lord, but the truth is through Jesus. While Jesus is in the upper room with the disciples in John 14, the disciples start asking Jesus where He is going. Jesus responds with Life. Jesus is the way to everlasting life. Only through Him can we receive this life. This shows that the deity of Jesus is the only way to approach our Father.

In Old Testament times the vine represents Israel, the Holy land of the people. Now the True Vine is Jesus Christ. In John 15:5, Jesus refers to Himself as the Vine. The Vine connects the fruit to the Gardner, and the only way to get to the Gardner from the fruit is through the vine. Jesus is telling the people that we must remain in Him to bear fruit.Without a vine, the fruit will wither. Without the tender care of the Gardner the fruit will go away, but the only way to do that is through the vine. This is once again explaining Christ's deity for our access to the Lord is through Him. But not only that, Jesus is explaining to have nourishment, that we must stay connected to the vine, and that is Him. The only way to receive nourishment is to stay connected to Christ.

Christ uses many “I AM's” throughout Scripture to explain His deity. Some of these are found in John 4:26, John 8:28, John 13:13, John 18:8, and more. Jesus is showing that He is life, that Jesus is the only salvation to His people. The belief is that John is trying hard to express Jesus' “I AM” sayings to stress the deity of Christ and to show the importance of what Christ is saying. The “I AM” is putting the stressor on Jesus, showing that He is the center of what people should be focusing on.

As Slick John's view of Jesus when discussing what John thought of Jesus; “Is it safe to say that John in his gospel merely considers Jesus a man or even a special angel? Is a mere man or an angel the giver of eternal life or is this something God does? Is a mere man or an angel the way, the truth, and the life, or the light of the world. Is a creature one with the Father, or does a creature share in God's glory, or even knowing all things? No. Not at all.”4 John was showing that He truly loved Jesus, knew exactly who Jesus was and wanted generations to know the deity of Christ. John knew exactly who he was writing about, the “I AM!”

1 Town, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN. AMG Publishers. 2002), 87.

2Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1989), 114.

3Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 2. (Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1965), 190.

4Slick, Matt. Who is Jesus According to John the Apostle? Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. Last accessed 10 Dec 2012.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Resurrection Sign Miracle

The Resurrection of Jesus was truly the greatest miracle of all time. John uses many miracles through the book of John to show the signs that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Some of these miracles are turning water into wine, feeding thousands or healing the blind man. All of these miracles show how Christ is God and show His deity. There is no greater way to show the deity of Christ than the resurrection. No other man or being in history has done this act, and no other will. On Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, they put the resurrection as a miracle, but in three different ways. “It is either a Biological Miracle, A psychological miracle or a theological miracle.”1 In each of these ways, Jesus shows He was above Biology, above what we might think to be normal and above any theological debate. Christ showed His true deity as being God's son through this act.

Imagine the delight on the disciples faces when they saw the Lord after the resurrection. In John 20:20 it says “...the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” I would assume that they were not just overjoyed but shocked! Jesus was showing Himself to the disciples so that they would go on and continue His ministry. They needed to know He was Messiah. Many of them didn't even understand Christ's teachings until they either saw His empty grave or in the Upper room. (John 20:8) Max Lucado puts it good when he says “Each of the Gospel accounts makes one thing very clear: Jesus's followers were not expecting anything to happen on that Resurrection morning.”2 Jesus needed to still prove His deity to the ones He spent the most time with.

Do you still need convincing of Christ's deity? What further proof does our world need today? This is not just a fairy tale, this is real.

1Schumacher, Robin. The Resurrection of Jesus – A miracle in One of Three Ways. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. Last accessed 09 Dec 2012.
2Lucado, Max. The Gospel of John. Thomas Nelson. 2007. 101.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Role of Women in the church

What should the role of women in the church be? There are some churches that have pastors or deacons that are women, but why don't all churches allow women in those roles? There are women leaders within different programs such as youth group, worship or growth groups, but not in authority roles. So in this I try to explain what the Scripture provides when talking about elders or deacons in the church and what the Biblical requirements are for each, can a woman be a deacon or elder in the church, if there are limitations on the women in the church and if that should apply outside of the church, and what contribution do women bring to the church.

The term “elder” is derived from the Greek word “presbuteros” which in Christian terms is used interchangeably with “bishop, elders, and presbyters.”1 Often the bishops, elders, and presbyters hold a leadership role in the church, while having authority of the congregation of the church. Some of the requirements of a elder are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and this says that they must be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, and it goes on to give many other requirements. There are many references to the men being the head of the household as they should be in the church. Many today debate whether a woman should be a elder or pastor in the church. 1 Timothy 2:12 states that “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man...” Paul writes many letters to the Elders of the church, which means they had some type of authority. The word elder is completely different from the word deacon.
A deacon is derived from the word “diakonos” which refers to servants. The term “deacon” meaning servant is different from the leadership role of a elder. While Scripture supports women servants in the church such as Phoebe in Romans 16:1 or Priscilla in Acts, there is a piece of Scripture that seems to support women deacons. In 1 Timothy 3, while describing requirements of deacons, it says that deacons must be “worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.” It also goes on to say in verse 11, “In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” Paul says this while describing the role of deacons, so it is safe to assume he was describing women deacons. While there are limitations to the woman’s role in the church, they do not apply outside of the church. Paul was writing directly to the elders of the church, who assumed authority, that women were not to have authority roles. The Lord was giving requirements for the church, the elders and the deacons; not the blacksmiths, jewelers and farmers.

Many people may view this belief on women being deacons as preposterous and use 1 Timothy 8:12 as a defense when it says that a deacon “must be faithful to his wife.” Study the Scripture around that verse. The conclusion is Paul was mentioning one requirement to the “men” deacons. It seems that Paul was making a requirement for a woman deacon right before this verse. If deacons are supposed to be servants to the church, why cant women be servants? Deacons are not supposed to have any position of authority within the church, that is why we have the elders or bishops.

Women bring a strong servant contribution to the church. According to George Elwell, Scripture “...provides for women a place of unusual dignity and significance.”2 Women are built for compassion. While men can have compassion, it often is composed for Harley Davidson's, the most recent Call of Duty game or their favorite sports team. Women have compassion towards individuals that sometimes the man cannot compose. Women need other women to lean on and help tend to each other.

My wife, Amanda, says that she needs other women in the church “there are some things that women can only relate to other women.” Examples of this is like being a mom, or being a good wife. Men cannot be a good wife or a good mom, so women need to step in as the deacon or servant in this example and be there for the church. When I say the church, I don't mean a building or a gathering place, I mean the people. I believe that without the women in the church, we would lose an important piece of compassion and commitment that just men cannot compose.

Outside of the main paper:
While these are my personal beliefs, they were taken straight from scripture. I am trying to interpret the Scripture the best that I can. Some may say that this was a different time, and that women were not as respected as they are now. Well, I disagree. Women played a major part of many pieces of scripture. The most important to me is Phoebe, whom Paul in Romans 16:1 mentioned to give her whatever she needs for her ministry. Women were the first to see Jesus upon His rising from the dead. Priscilla was among some of the greatest church planters in the church history. I believe the Jewish Sanhedrin didn't have as much respect for women, but I do believe Jesus, Paul and the church age Christians did.

There is also one verse that seemed to confuse me a bit so I will try to explain it. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 says that a woman should remain silent in church. While it does say this in our modern day Bible, the translation of the word "silent" here means that they should not babble. I make the assumption that the Corinth church was having a problem with women gossipping or babbling during church services.

1 Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Presbuteros". "The New Testament Greek Lexicon".

2Elwell, George. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: Second Edition. Baker Book House Company. 2001. 1285

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sign Miracles

When you want to get someones attention, sometimes you have to use some drastic measures. Many people in today’s society might use riots, picketing or even violence. In the days of Jesus Christ, many in the Jewish and Gentile communities were rebellious towards God and were not living the life that they should have been. So Jesus showed Himself to humanity in human form and worked miracles, He was getting their attention while during His Father's work. He wanted to make sure that He was getting the attention of God's people and showing them the work of the Lord. There are 8 “Sign Miracles” that Christ used to get the people's and His disciples attention.

The miracle at the wedding was Jesus' first miracle. The disciples and Jesus were all at a wedding at Cana of Galilee. The miracle took place in the first year and beginning of the ministry of Jesus. The couple had run out of wine and Mary, who must have had a position of authority during the wedding, asked Jesus to do something. Jesus responded with a miracle that was beyond belief. He turned many pots of water into wine. Although, not many saw what Jesus had done, His disciples and servants knew. According to Elmer Towns, “Jesus was setting the stage for His ministry. The God-man demonstrated His desire to be with the multitudes and to eat and drink with normal people.”1 Jesus was setting the example for the rest of His ministry to His disciples.

As stated in John 4:46, “Once more He visited Cana in Galilee, where He had turned water into wine...” (NIV) A couple chapter later, Jesus has more work to do in Cana. In this miracle, a nobleman approaches Jesus with a request, to heal his sick son. The man had enough faith that when Jesus had
said in John 4:50 “Go...and your son will live...” This verse goes on to say that the man took Him at his word and realized that his son had been healed at the exact time Jesus had told him his son will live. Jesus was starting to urge people to believe in Him. Jesus wanted people to not just believe in His works, but to believe in Him. As Leon Morris states “John reports a number of times that people believed Jesus, or did not believe him, or were urged to believe him.”2 Jesus was beginning to want His people to recognize Him and not just His signs.

At this time, Jesus is starting to cause a commotion within the Jewish community. There are those who are starting to question Jesus' power and His words. Jesus is going to attend a Feast (Feast of Booths) in Jerusalem and stops by a pool of water that is supposed to have powers to heal the sick during the time of the feast. He happens by a man that has been sick for a long time and cannot get to the pool by himself. So Jesus says in John 8 “...Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” As soon as Jesus says this the man gets up and walked. The pool was incredibly busy at this time, as it says that the man cannot get to the Pool of Bethesda because people keep pushing in front of him. Jesus wanted those around him to see him perform this miracle. He was about to enter Jerusalem, and people would be talking about what Jesus did. This way they will want to see him and then He can speak to them about His Father's work. He didn't have to do this work at this location, but he chose it for a reason. As Max Lucado puts it “Surely there are more sanitary crowds in Jerusalem. Surely there are more enjoyable activities. After all, this is the Passover feast. It's an exciting time in the holy city.”3 He could have done this miracle anywhere, but He chose this location to show that He will surround Himself with ordinary people.

I often look at this story and laugh at how amazing Christ is. I like to believe that Christ had a sense of humor and I think that it partially shows in John 6:5-6 when Christ asks Phillip where they are going to get enough food to feed the great crowd. Verse 6 shows Christ humor when it says “He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.” I can see Jesus laughing to himself saying “Silly man,” and knowing exactly was Phillip was going to say. This sign had the most amount of people in one place, more than any other sign. Also, this is the only sign that appeared in all 4 gospels. Christ was wanting to disciple his followers but also show the crowds that He was doing God's work. Christ was showing Phillip that the Lord will provide, and He wanted His disciples to see what He was doing. His disciples were going to be the ones to build the church with Christ as the keystone, so He wanted to disciple them more than He wanted to show His sign to the crowd. That is why John mentions Phillip in this gospel.

Another sign Christ gives to His disciples is His walking on water. Right after the feeding of the crowd, Christ's disciples went to sea while Jesus went off to pray. While the disciples were at sea, it started to storm and they felt scared. While trying to regain control of there boat, they see a figure walking on water. At first they were frightened, but in John 6:20 Jesus says “But He saith unto them , It is I; be not afraid.” He was walking to them, while the storm was raging. Christ wanted His disciples to see that anything was possible with Him and that He was the Messiah. That is why Christ performed this sign with just His disciples around Him. Jesus wanted them to know He was always there with them and that He would guide them. As puts it “He is always there, right along with us. Jesus was able to overrule the laws of nature.”4

In John 9, Jesus once again performs a sign for his disciples. In John 9:2 his disciples ask Jesus who sinned for the man to be blind. But Jesus had a plan for this man, to not only show many His deity, but to show His disciples and the world that He is the Messiah. Nobody sinned for this man to be blind. It's the same thing with those that are sick today, there may not be any other reason but for Christ to shine through them.

Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was friends with Lazarus, as well as his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus found out that Lazarus was ill and was dying. But instead of heading straight to him, he waited for a few days to go to Lazarus. He knew what was going to happen, but He wanted to show His disciples what He could do. This sign is to show the deity of the Messiah, that Jesus even has power over death!

Not only did Christ show that He was bigger than death, He showed that He Himself would overcome death. Christ had recently died and His disciples were trying to fish. They had not been catching anything, and they saw Christ, not knowing who it was, and Jesus said to throw your nets on the right side of the boat, and they came out with nets full of fish. The they realized who Jesus was and were amazed. Jesus had conquered death! Christ was showing His majesty by not just showing Himself to His disciples, but one last sign showing that He cared about them.

Christ is Messiah. He is Risen. He is Lord.

1Town, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. (Chattanooga, TN. AMG Publishers. 2002), 20.
2Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. (Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1989), 172.
3Lucado, Max. The Gospel of John. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson. 2007), 36. Signs and Miracles in John. (accessed November 25, 2012.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

John 15

Christ used many different methods to share the Word and to try and reach people. There were parables, proverbs, insight, metaphors or using the culture He was teaching in. By this I mean that Christ would use their environment and culture as a learning tool. Christ used examples of shepherds, farming or vines, because that was what the people were used to and what they knew about. If Christ were around today, I bet He would use technology as a teaching tool, because that is what we know. 

In John 15:1-8, Christ used vines and branches as a teaching tool. There were a few things that He brought up in this illustration that is important to mention. These teachings of Christ should have a strong bearing on what we believe about Salvation, Discipleship and Eternal Security.

When Christ mentions in verse 5 "...apart from me you can do nothing," Christ is talking about salvation. Without Christ in the center of everything, we cannot grow. Without Christ in the center of a marriage or family it will wither the same way a grape will wither off a vine. Apart from that vine, the branches will fall. Christ is our way to the Gardener, and that is God. The only way to get to the Gardner is through the vine. Jesus referred to Himself as the vine and as Elmer Towns puts it in The Gospel of John: Believe and Live, "When Jesus called Himself "the true vine", He was drawing on an obvious parallel."Christ wanted people to know that He was referring to Himself as the only way to get to God. 

While not as obvious as Salvation, Discipleship is a major part of this passage. Christ says in Verse 15:2 that "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." We as Christians are to be disciples to the world. As Leon Morris says in Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John "The purpose of growing vines is to produce grapes, not foliage."The reason the Gardner, God, prunes us is that we might produce fruit. If we are not producing fruit, we are useless and He will cut us off from His blessings. That is the main reason we are here, we are given The Great Commission as God's children. 

The last thing that Christ brings up in this passage is about our eternal security. This is a much debated subject within the Christian church. There are even many colleges that will teach pastors that you can lose your salvation. Many use this passage as a way to say that Christ will cut you off and you are away from God. While I believe that this is what Christ is saying, I don't believe he is referring to our salvation. If you think of a branch on a vine, you know that once you cut off a dead branch or trim a branch, it will grow back and it can once again produce fruit. A dead branch will not produce any fruit. So, Christ is saying that He will cut you off from the blessings of the Gardner, but you are still a part of that plant, just not connected to God. We need to stay connected to God and keep producing fruit to receive God's blessings through the vine. Also, Christ could be referring to unsaved "believers," those who say they believe and say all the right things. Sam Storms puts it good when he says "The view that the fruitless branches are unregenerate is supported by what John's gospel says about unsaved believers. In other words, John often portrays people as "believing" in Jesus who clearly are not born again."3 

While Christ used many ways to teach, metaphors can often be used out of context. When using Christ's words for teaching, you often have to use other Scripture to help your point of view. There are many verses in the Word that guarantee our eternal salvation. See for more information. It is a great site to check out. 

1. Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. Scofield Ministries.2002. Page 150
2. Morris, Leon. Jesus is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1989. Page 121.
3. Storms, Sam. John 15:1-6 and the Security of the Believer. Nov. 7, 2006. Enjoying God Ministries. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage is a sacred sacrament between man and woman. Marriage was given to mankind from the Lord and it is a promise between man and woman. That promise to each other, God, and all those present during your ceremony is not to be broken. The meaning behind marriage is given to us by the Lord. The purpose of this writing is to explore the meaning of marriage, what does it say in God's word about marriage, when does the Bible consider a couple married and how that differs from today’s time, what the Biblical teaching is on divorce, some objections to the reason for divorce, if it is acceptable for a Christian to re-marry, and what the social impact of divorce is in the church and in society.

The Bible teaches us that marriage was given to us by God. Some debate that marriage started with the making of Eve when God stated in Genesis 2:18 “...It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (NIV) This is the first time that God has blessed a union between man and woman. God made a woman to be the man's helper, because He saw it was not good for man to live life on his own. As you read the Bible, marriage grew to be less and less God's gift to mankind and more about marrying for politics, lust or convenience. There were requirements placed on marriage. It was common in Old Testament times to marry within immediate family group, but there were requirements to stay within. Such as marrying cousins was fine. People were limited to certain members of the family, such as in Leviticus 20:17 it says “If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace...”(NIV) According to Walter A. Elwell “It was not until early Christian times that marriage came to be regarded as a sacrament.” But what does the Bible say about when the couple actually become married?
Often in Bible times a spouse was chosen for their children by the parents. Often, the children had no say in who they were going to marry. There was no chance to court, date or get to know the individual they were going to marry. There was usually something called a "bride-price" that varied in value. The parents of the soon to be groom would give a gift to the soon to be bride that the bride would keep going into the marriage. If the gift was acceptable, the parents would make a legally binding contract of marriage. In Biblical times, that is when you would be betrothed. The way that marriage works today is that the man and the woman will find each other, court each other and then marry; with the parents having very little say on who their children marry. This can be a good thing so that spouses get to know each other, but it can also become a bad thing to where the couple will make decisions through lust or convenience which can cause issues such as divorce.

Divorce in the Bible is not mentioned much. But when it does mention divorce, it gives very strict requirements. You don't see many divorces in the Old Testament because it was very expensive and available only to those with wealth. Usually the only means for divorce was sexual misconduct, which even that is debated among theologians today. In the New Testament the word teaches us that the only reason for divorce is a word called “porneia” which according to is translated in the Old Testament to have had “strong associations with harlotry.” Many Christians in New Testament time and the Church Age (today) consider this strong sexual immorality such as adultery or selling your body. However, in today's age it seems like you can get a divorce even if you look at your spouse the wrong way. Many people today get married on a whim, and never fall in love. Many see marriage as not a covenant but as a tax break, or someone to spend some time with. We see many people in Hollywood that get married and are divorced months, or in some cases days later. The only case I believe it is alright to re-marry is if your previous spouse committed adultery and had to divorce, in many abuse cases that cannot be resolved by counseling or seperation, or the spouse has passed away.

The divorce rate in our country has caused a major shift in spiritual and mental dynamic. Kids are being raised in homes without original parents, and that is not how God planned families. Kids grow up to think that their mom left dad, so it must be ok for me to do the same. The church is making more and more reasons why divorce is ok, so couples will seek out the church that will grant them that divorce or anullment. My goal as a Christian is to support strong Biblical views on Marriage and the covenant between my wife and I.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Reading through the book of John for class have been not just an assignment, but a pleasure. To be able to sit down and study John, not just read it, has been rewarding in so many ways. There is one character who has stood out to me so far and that character is Nicodemus. First, let me give you a little background on Nicodemus.

Nicodemus is part of a group called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin were a powerful group that was in charge of judgment in the time of Jesus. They were more powerful than the standard Pharisee and were part of the high court of Israel. Nicodemus first came to Jesus at night in John 3. There are many possible reasons to why Nicodemus approached Jesus at night. Some speculate so that nobody would see him speaking with Jesus. Others say it was the time to meet with Jesus because there were not as many people around, so that sat down for some coffee at the local Starbucks and spoke. Nicodemus asked Jesus about being "born again" and how that worked. He was very analytical and precise when speaking with Jesus, and didn't seem to have the faith that Jesus was trying to pull from him.

The next time you see Nicodemus is in John 7. The Pharisee's are sitting around chatting, pondering how to kill Jesus, and accusing Him of blasphemy. Nicodemus is there and he says this: "“Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” (John 7:51) It sounds like he is starting to stand up for Jesus, but still timidly.

That made me start thinking about the how much I am standing up for Jesus. Am I asking timid questions trying to hide in the background, and sort of supporting Jesus, or do I proclaim Him a STATEMENT and not a QUESTION! Don't get me wrong, Nicodemus went on to be a great servant for the kingdom of God. But while reading this statement, I thought to myself that I don't want to timidly ask those who distort the teachings of Christ questions. I want to stand up and show my faith. After Nicodemus asked this question, the Pharisee's shot him down and there was no more to the story. Did Nicodemus stay in the good fight and continue for fighting for Christ? According to what we read in John 7:53, they all went home after that. I can see Nicodemus sitting there with his tail between his legs.

Makes me think of a song by the Beastie Boys "FIGHT for your right to PARTAAAAA!" But instead, fight for your faith, fight for Jesus, fight for the teaching of Christ. Don't give up!

Nicodemus Visits Jesus by Night

Monday, November 12, 2012


I wanted to share some amazing, beautiful things that have happened to me yesterday. Yesterday, God gave me new life.

While I was getting ready to go to church yesterday to teach the amazing middle schoolers for Sunday School, my daughter comes out of her bedroom carrying her Bible. I look at her and ask her "Lorelai, are you going to read your Bible?" She says Uh-huh, sits down on the kitchen floor, bows her head, closes her eyes and starts praying. Praying in Lorelai language, sure, but she was praying. She looked like she knew who she was talking to, prayed for about 30 seconds with her eyes closed and head bowed. I heard a little "in Jesus name" and then she said "AMEN!" Opens her eyes and then starts reading her Bible out loud. She is pointing to the pictures and says "Jesus." Pointing to the words and reading in her little own language. My wife and I look at each other and I could tell that it blessed Amanda's heart too. We both got a little weepy after that. It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life. That a little girl that is not even 2 can do that just amazes me and shows me God's love!

Another thing that happened yesterday is I took out some middle school kids to rake leaves yesterday. An achy, sore, tired body 1 day later and I am still beaming about those kids! They were amazing! They worked so hard and I am so proud of each of them. We raked 3 yards and not once did they stop and say "I'm so TIRED!" I couldn't let a whole bunch of Middle schoolers show me up, so I worked right along with them...shows me I am not such a young person anymore when I can't really feel my arms today. Also a shout out to Bill for coming along for the ride. I feel so blessed to have this group of kids, to take out their Sunday afternoon to serve the community and to show Christ's love!

Christ showed me these things for a reason. I have some good things going here, and I don't deserve them. Only by God's amazing grace do I have the blessing of my little girl and these Middle Schoolers. Thank you God for such an amazing, beautiful Sunday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election

As most of you would probably guess, I voted for the other guy. Also, as many of you know, especially those who follow me on Facebook, I was not a fan of either guy. Being a conservative Christian, I felt that neither candidate was the right guy for President, one that would bring this country closer to God and do the right thing. That being said, the elction is done, and we need to come together to support our President. Here is the reason why:

Romans 13:1-5 says "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience." (NIV)

We are to respect and honor our governing authorities, because they were placed there by God. The President may not have been the popular vote for the Christians, but God must still have a plan and a purpose for him. Who are we to question God's authority?

I love my country and I fear that it has become more divided every year. The division is from petty things such as race, income, etc. Why do we let these things come before our love of freedom? Christians, STAND UP AND UNITE! Become one again and show this country God's love by supporting the person God has placed in office.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Existence of Evil

The problem of evil is the existence of evil. Many argue that if God is without sin and He was the creator of the Universe, how does evil exist? If God is perfect and the creator of the Universe, then He must have created evil, and that would make Him not perfect. Many use this argument as a theological argument to argue the non-existence of God. Another way to use this argument according to Walter Elwell in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology: Second Edition is “there are those who argue specifically against the Judeo-Christian concept of God.” These people claim to not be atheists, but don’t believe in the God of Christians and Jews.

Moral evil is defined as those evils in the world caused by other free agents in the world. Examples of moral evils are the crimes against people such as murder, theft, rape, or even lying. These are the injustices of a person with free will and make the decision to commit an evil. Natural evil are the evils of things that just happen such as natural disasters including floods, tornados or earthquakes. Many ask why things are done to them because they are good people.

A theodicy according to Walter Elwell is “a term used to refer to attempts to justify the ways of God.” When you communicate a theodicy successfully, you should be able to prove the existence of an Almighty God. When communicating why moral evil exists in our world, you need to communicate that God is mankind’s creator, and He created us with free will. God created man with the option for man to do what he pleases. I am sure God created man wanting man to worship Him for all time, but He didn’t want man to have to do it and control us. Moral evils are the abuse of that free will that God has given us. The argument to this is that God created man and free will, so shouldn’t that make Him evil and the answer is absolutely not. It is the abuse of that free will that makes man evil. Say that I was given a guitar for my birthday. It is a beautiful guitar and one that I cherish; it is an amazing gift. But I use that guitar to smash over the head of a complete stranger. Is that the intended use of that guitar? God’s gift to us was beautiful but misused. As far as the theodicies of natural evil, there are a few that stand out to me; one example being that natural evils fulfill a larger purpose. While this may be true, it can be used by many non-Christians that why God can still let these things happen. While it may be hard for us to see a larger picture, God knows what He is doing.  He knows that an earthquake may harm few, but that he needed an evacuation of that area for a larger purpose. For example, I am late going to work because I can’t find my keys. If I did find my keys in time, I could have been in a fatal car accident. God has a purpose for everything that happens. Another theodicy of natural evil is that is was man created. I find this to be true. God created a perfect world for us to live in. God said that His creation was good and He was pleased. But man was kicked out of that perfect world and thrown into their punishment for the original sin. Throughout time we have abused the world that God made for us and now we are seeing consequences. While writing theodicies you have to be sure to remain Internally Consistent, which means that you cannot contradict yourself. Your argument for the existence of Natural evil cannot contradict the main fact that God is perfect and without sin.

I know many experience personal pains in their lives that may cause relationship problems with our God, but it is important to know that God has a purpose and a plan for everything that happens. My experience with a broken home and abuse has given me strength as a better husband and a better father. (And I love my father now very much.) I learned who I needed to be and I know that God has plans for my life. I don’t blame those problems on God. When I blame God for things that happen in my life, I am sinning against my Father and attacking who He is. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another day of thanks

As all of you know I write to expose my thoughts to you about religion, family, and life. Throughout my time at Liberty I have learned a lot about Theology, religion, Christianity, etc. and I love to share all that I am learning. But now and then I have to step back from my studies and look at my life, who I am as a servant, husband, father and friend. I give thanks to the Lord above for the blessings in my life and all the things that He has given me. So, here is a list of some of the things I am thankful for.

1) God's Grace: Grace defined by Merriam Webster's dictionary is "unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification." God's grace to me is unmerited. I don't deserve God's love and abundant flow of blessings. God has provided me with what I need and more in life. Just being able to attend classes at Liberty has been a huge blessing and I have grown so much because of it. I wouldn't be able to go back to who I was before I started attending classes for God has provided a strength in me that I didn't feel last year.

2) My wonderful family: My wife Amanda and my daughter Lorelai. The Lord has given me such an amazing and beautiful family and I feel so blessed to have them. God has put them in my life for me to provide for, love, and cherish. It is my responsibility as a husband and father to be there for my family and provide for them, to laugh with them, to play with them and comfort them. It is a huge responsibility as a man, but one that God has given to me.

3) Pastors: Pastor Ernesto and Pastor Jayson have been a huge help to me as I have been attending classes. I am able to go to them and throw things by them that I don't understand and they give me what they think. They are my spiritual mentors. They are the ones I go to when I am struggling with some theology ideas. It is so important to have those people in your life that you can go to for spiritual guidance and these two men are so strong in the Lord, and I am incredibly blessed and thankful to have them in my life.

4) Friends: Pastor Jim always says that he can name about 5 friends or so that he can truly count on and that will be there for him when he needs them, or he can go to for guidance. I have about the same. These people are the Cromp's, the Lyman's, and the Beebe's. These three couples are some of the most important people to me and I feel that God has placed each of them in my life for the long run. You always have those friends that will come and go, but you also have friends that will be there for you through out your life. These three couples are those friends I know that are there for me. To you I say thanks for putting up with me and some of my crazy ways.

These are just a few of the things I am thankful for in my life. Have a great November everybody. Look for a blog in the next couple days on the study of evil.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life Together

My wife, Amanda Clouse, is the love of my life and I have no idea what I would do without her. She has made me who I am. The Lord has put the most amazing woman in my life. We joke around with each other sometimes and say my life would be quieter without her, or less stressful and we laugh about it, but I always come back to knowing that this woman is the love of my life and made me who I am.

It has been hard the last year because I have not had a lot of time with her. With school, working a lot of hours, church and everything else, it seems like we don't get a lot of time together. Yet, lately I have felt so much closer to her. She has been so supportive of me with my school work. It reminds me of Proverbs 31:10 which says "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies."

One of the things I need to work on is reading the Word with her and praying together. We need to grow together as a couple in the Lord and keep the Lord in the center of our marriage. Last night I asked my wife if she would pray with me and we prayed for the country in the wake of this storm and for our family. I could tell it meant a lot to her to pray together. We always pray before our meals and such, but this was time with just me and her and I could tell it meant a lot. THAT gentleman is what is most important in our marriage. Keep the Lord in the center of it and don't stray off that path.

So many men in our age keep themselves so busy trying to support their family, busy themselves, go out and hang with buddies after work, or even overdo themselves helping in ministry that they often forget what they have at home and that their families need them. That is why there is such a problem in our households, and why there are so many broken homes.

My wife and my daughter are the most important gifts that God has given me. He has given them to me to take care of, provide for them, teach them, guide them, and protect them. It is hard work, but someone has to do it...and men, that is us. We have to financially support our homes, but also give up ourselves to them.

I love you babe and I will see you soon!

Monday, October 1, 2012


I recently took a spiritual gifts survey in my Church Ministries class to find out where my strengths are in ministry. Spiritual gifts are gifts that God has given me as a Christian to use for His work. I found out that my spiritual gifts lie in Pastoral work, Exhortation and Administration. But what exactly are spiritual gifts? Where do they come from? How do the spiritual gifts differ from the fruits of the Spirit? Also, we will answer questions about speaking in tongues as being one of those spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts are gifts that God gives to certain individuals through the Holy Spirit. If you read through 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 in the Bible you will find that each gift is given through the Holy Spirit. There are many different types of gifts, but they are all given through Christ. These gifts are “Word of wisdom, Word of knowledge, Faith, Gifts of healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Distinguishing between spirits, Tongues, Interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 KJV) You could right entire thesis's on each gift because there is so much to know about each one. The intent of this paper is to describe where they come from and what is their purpose? I refer to The Great Commission when asked how do we use them. Matthew 28:19-20 states that we are supposed to go out to the ends of the Earth to preach the gospel and spread the news about Christ. God or the Holy Spirit gives us certain gifts to go out and be able to perform this daunting task. These are the Spiritual gifts. But how do Fruits of the Spirit differ from our Spiritual gifts?
The fruits of the spirit, which are found in Galatians 5:22-23 are “, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The Bible states that anyone who becomes a Christian receives the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13-14) As soon as you accept Christ into your heart, these are things that happen and you build on in time. As far as Spiritual gifts go, these are what you need to work on and build. If God has given me the gift of Word of Knowledge, and I never read His Word, I am wasting a gift. It is something that I need to build strong. When I build upon my Spiritual gifts it shows spiritual maturity. One of these spiritual gifts is one I believe that you don't just pick up, and that is speaking in tongues.
Speaking in tongues is a controversial issue today in the Christian church. Is it right or wrong? Is it done correctly? What are the rules in speaking in tongues? According to Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry “Speaking in Tongues” by Matt Slick; “Speaking in tongues is the New Testament phenomena where a person speaks in a language that is unknown to him. This language is either the language of angels or other earthly languages.” Mr. Slick goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 13:1 where it says that it takes love to speak in tongues. The purpose of speaking in tongues is to speak to God out of love. To praise Him, to pray to Him, but you must have love for God, or it is worthless. I do believe to speak in tongues you have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. What I mean by this is that you have to be a Christian. As a Christian, you become baptized in the Holy Spirit. According to 1 Corinthians 12:13; “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body...” or Mark 1:8 where John the Baptist says “I baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” I don't believe that speaking in tongues is the deciding factor if you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues is one of the Spiritual gifts and I don't believe that everybody has that gift. I will use me as an example, I have never spoke in tongues, but I do believe that I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is just not the spiritual gift that God has endowed me with.
I do believe that speaking in tongues is still valid today. I do believe that there are many times when it is done incorrectly though. It says in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 that “they shall fail” but I believe this is in reference to false prophets and those who speak in tongues and do it wrong. There are requirements to speaking in tongues. These requirements are found in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Why would God give us these rules without Him wanting us to know how to do things correctly?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


One thing that is hard to understand for most non-Christians and Christians alike is the concept of the Trinity which consists of God the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Are they one person? Do they exist as one entity? How does each one differ from the other? While we explore Jesus’ humanity and deity, how He exists as God and man, why Jesus became man to save humanity, common objections to traditional understandings of Christology, and how Christ in His humanity is an example to me; I hope that I can help explain the power of God and Christ.
            Jesus the Christ was human. He was born of woman and raised by two human parents. I can see Jesus growing up as a carpenter’s son, working with Joseph his earthly father, and helping his dad with projects. One day He cuts his finger and starts bleeding and cries. His mother, Mary, then runs in saying “What Happened? Are you ok?” like any other mother would. He describes that he cut his finger and it hurts, and I can see Mary tending to his wounds. Jesus was a human, a son, and hurt like the rest of us. A good example of Jesus’ humanity is in Matthew 4:1-11 (KJV). The first verse describes that Jesus was “tempted” by the devil. The definition of tempted or temptation according to Webster’s Dictionary is “A cause or occasion of enticement.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) This means that Jesus was tempted to follow the Devil’s decrees. He wanted the food, the water, the kingdoms, but He said no because He is also God. In the second verse it even goes on to say that Jesus was hungry. That is a human feeling. He had cravings just like the rest of us. He thirsted like any other human being. He was different, but in what ways?
            Jesus was also the Messiah. The one sent from His father to save humanity. That is more than any regular human being can do. I know that I can’t go die at someone’s hand, and save all humanity for doing it. Why? Christ was sent from His heavenly Father to die for each of our sins. He was sinless. The only time that sin and Jesus were in the same category is when Jesus met all of our sins at the cross and carried our load on His shoulders. But how can Christ be both human and Messiah?
            Jesus Christ was Messiah long before He came to Earth. In John 8:58 Jesus states that “Before Abraham was, I am.” But we just described that He was human. He exists as one being with two parts. This is called the Hypostatic Union. He was both the man and the Lord. If you wanted to see God, all you needed to do was look to Jesus, but He was in human form. He came down to Earth to exist as we do, but still had all the knowledge of Heaven. What this means as Jesus being both God and Man is that He had the saving and loving power of God, but the feelings of Man. He still felt pain, anguish, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. He felt everything we felt. So why did He come to Earth, become human and need to die to save humanity?
            There needed to be results for Christ dying for our sins. Jesus didn’t die for without cause. He came for one purpose, and that was to give us everlasting life. For human beings, it is so easy for us to sin. We are surrounded by temptations every day. There is not a day that goes by when we think something we shouldn’t think, or do something we shouldn’t do. We are incapable of not sinning. As humans, we are born into sin. But through Jesus Christ, we have redemption through His blood. Jesus Christ took our sins on the cross, and covered them with His blood. Christ was our substitute for our sins. He took on our sins full steam. Christ was without sin, so He didn’t die for His sins, He died for ours. We were incapable of getting to Heaven without Him, because Heaven is perfect. Jesus was perfect. Jesus died so that we as imperfect beings can see Heaven. He acted as our Ambassador to the Lord. If you choose not to acknowledge Jesus as both deity and human, then in the words of Phil Johnson in the online video by Phil Johnson; “By not acknowledging Jesus as both man and deity you are committing spiritual heresy.” I also believe that if you don’t choose to believe Christ as the man, you won’t know Him as the Lord because they are one in the same. There is a strong line that you can’t cross when believing Him all as deity or all as man though. You need to believe that they are one. If you recognize Jesus as too much man, than you are also committing “Spiritual heresy.”  A common objection is usually that Christ was either a man or God, or that they merged as one being. This is not a correct statement. They did not merge into one being, Jesus the Messiah and Jesus the Man are separate in nature, but create a union as on person. The man and the Christ have separate natures. But how does this affect me?
            For me, I can take Jesus the man and use Him for an example to who I am supposed to be as a 

Man. As we stated above, there still existed temptation in Jesus’ life. Every day we are surrounded by the 

temptations of the world. Jesus was able to turn them away and remain sinless. That is what I strive to do 

every day. I can use Jesus’ example to be the best husband, father, friend and minister

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spiritual Gifts

I am now in the second week of my classes at Liberty and am loving it. It is a lot of reading, but it is stuff that I enjoy. I am taking Church Ministries and Theology I this semester.

In my church ministries class I had to take a long quiz asking me a bunch of questions about myself and it helped me figure out my spiritual gifts.

Showing Mercy13

I think this was pretty accurate. The Pastor/Shepherd being the highest is kinda a given for me. I know that the Lord has called me into ministry and it will happen on His time. I truly love the children I care for and I know I watch over them as a Shepherd would his flock. One that I was a little surprised about was the level of teaching. I love to teach.

I have been studying Phillipians lately and it is a great book to read for those going into Ministry. Philipians 2:3 really stood out to me where it says "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above." (NIV) I have to remember at all times to humble myself and remind myself that it is not me that is showing love for these kids, that is is Christ showing His love through me. I have to hide this verse in my heart and keep it close at all times.

I ask for your prayers for the ministry. I am happy where I am at selling cars and I know God has me here for a reason, but my heart is somewhere else. This job is the best I have had in years, I am happy here, and I get to meet a lot of different people, but I miss my kids when I don't see them. I had to miss things like camp and different activities, and that makes me sad. But for now I am doing the Lord's work where I am in the dealership.

Stay tuned, I will soon have a new blog from my theology class.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Year 2

As I start my next venture to Liberty University Online, I reflect on the previous year of studies. I have grown beyond comprehension. I feel the Lord working in my life as well as the life on my family and my church. I feel God working on my spirit every day and I cannot wait to see what is in store for Year 2.

This next semester I begin Theology and Church Ministries in B term and then Theology 2 and the Book of John in D term. I am so excited to get going again as I have been out of school for about 6 weeks now. I miss it. I have kept myself pre occupied with other things as I have read about 6 books (fiction) in my free time.

As I read through my syllabus and course content, I know that it will be challenging but I am up for it. I am up for the Lord to work through me. I know that God has a plan for me and something will happen on the Lord's time.

Middle school group is starting again soon and I am very excited that I get to see the kids again. I don't see them much during the Summer and I miss them sooooooooooo much. I have a feeling that this next year will be a great year.

So as I begin my next few courses, stay tuned because I will be posting more often.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Atheism: Fact or Fiction

Matthew Henry once said “No man will say “There is no God” 'till he is so hardened in sin that it has become his interest that there should be none to call him to account.[1]”  As I began reading the accounts of H.J. McCloskey, I found myself circling and underlining facts in his article that I found to be absurd, because he had no proof and facts to back up his beliefs. I have no reason to believe that Mr. McCloskey was living a lifestyle that was immoral, as Matthew Henry might, but I found myself asking what he had gone through to cause such a hurt and pain in his heart. Without God he has to be experiencing a hole there, that nothing else can fill. I found myself highlighting facts that I don't agree with in his article and saying to myself that this is not true, or where is the proof for your statement. The purpose of this paper is to take a dive into the article by H.J. McCloskey, review it and refute it. My personal view on atheism is that many people believe there is no creator or God because of the evil in the world. How can they believe in a God that would send people to Hell even if they are good? By saying that, they are still saying that there is a God and that evil does exist and it had to start somewhere. So my outlook on atheism is that there is no such thing and it cannot exist. My goal is to write, not only as a Christian, but as a 3rd party reader of this article. The points I will discuss in this paper are to explain how there still can be a God in light of the “proofs” against God discussed by McCloskey, refute McCloskey's cosmological arguments against God, review his teleological arguments and find proofs against them, discuss McCloskey's problem of evil argument, and refute the statement of atheism being comforting.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of proof is “the cogency of
evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact.[2]” Proof is an important word. It can be the deciding factor between guilty or not guilty in a murder trial or the difference in a large scale embezzlement case. Proof is a word that many people throw around and misuse when they don't agree with a certain belief or lifestyle. Phrases such as “Where is your proof?” or “Can you prove that?” are common in any religious debate. H. J. McCloskey states in his “On Being an Atheist” article that his peers “...attribute too much importance to the role of the proofs of the existence of God as a basis for religious belief; that most theists do not come to believe in God as a result of reflecting on truths...” I would have to disagree. While I do agree that my faith as a Christian is mostly going on faith, I have to also use my head in thinking about proofs for God. There are 3 aspects to use to best argue my case. The “Best Explanation Approach” is an approach that uses the best explanation for certain cases, cases that we have yet to understand, in Science and life; that only an ultimate designer argument can explain. An example would be a Mother's milk production. According to, one of the beginning things that has to happen to a woman that is going to begin breast feeding is “The developing placenta stimulates the release of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which in turn stimulate the complex biological system that makes milk production possible.[3]” How does our body know how to do this? There is no scientific experiment to best describe how a woman's body knows how to start producing milk to feed her offspring, it just does. The “Best Explanation” is that her body was designed that way.
Another example would be gravity. Here in the northern North American region, we are a little above the equator, and we are really upside down at most times. How do we keep from falling off the planet and floating into space? Well, we have gravity that keeps our feet on the ground. It would be frightening if we just floated everywhere, and to think that anytime I can go floating off into space with no oxygen. The “Best explanation” for this is that a designer and creator made the world this way. Another aspect to argue my case is the “Cumulative Case” approach. It is true that there is a lot in this universe that we cannot explain. There are a lot of scientists in a lot of labs around the world trying to find the answers to life's mysteries. No one proof or argument can bring us closer to a proof for the existence of a higher being or God. But an accumulation of all the cases together moves to reason that there is an ultimate designer and creator. An accumulation of many different cases put together that are unexplainable have to move to an answer that says that it was just made that way. There are too many questions in our universe that are just unexplainable and put them all together and there is only one answer. The third case I want to bring up is the “Minimalistic Concept of God.” At the point with no answers, you have to come to the same conclusion that there is an intelligent creator that designed all the complicated things of this universe. It is true that you cannot argue for God, but you can argue for the complicated designs of the human eye, the habits of animals, or the complications of nature.
            C. Stephen Evans discusses in his book “Philosophy of Religion” the need to believe in a creator or being. He uses the argument that 1) Some contingent being exists, 2) If any contingent being exist, then a necessary being must exist (because contingent
beings require a necessary being as their ultimate cause,) 3) Therefore, there exists a
necessary being (which is the ultimate cause of the existence of contingent beings.[4]) Many will see this argument as proof that there is a being or group of beings that exist, but it could be anything from aliens to mythological gods of days past. But Christians believe in God, so this would be a cosmological argument for us. There are some arguments to this case. One of them states that the world has always existed and there was no beginning. The problem with this argument is that matter decomposes. If you take a table, a normal oak table, and let it sit for a millennium, what will happen? That table will decompose. Matter is not infinite. All the arguments against the case for a higher being all come back to the fact that there must be some type of higher being. This still does not prove God, but it does prove a creator. McCloskey claims in his article that this argument does not hold up. He says that cosmological argument “does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause.“ I say why not? I say where is your proof to the non-existence of a being? He claims to want proofs on an all-powerful being, he is the proof. An all-powerful creator must exist for us to be here. We cannot simply exist in time, and then cease to exist. Something had to have happened for us to exist. Scientifically speaking, we could not have just always existed. As Gerry J. Hughes puts it in his article The Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God; “But surely universes cannot just happen, just appear without any explanation, any more than pink elephants or tartan sheep can. Something must have produced it, something external to the universe itself.[5]
            McCloskey goes on to say in his article that “evolution has replaced the need for a
designer.” For arguments sake, let’s say I agreed with McCloskey and believe that we have evolved from a single micro-organism, to primates, to what we are today. The theory of evolution is based on survival of the fittest. Beings that evolved did it because they learned a new technique or change that made them better, and passed those skills on to their offspring when they breed. Each new organism learns something new and passes it on, and that is how we have made it to what we are today. Now, this is what we have to believe, that there is intelligence in those organisms. Where did that intelligence come from? That intelligence had to be designed at some point. How did the organism know what was better for them and learn how to survive? It had to start somewhere; matter cannot just exist with intelligence formed out of goo. Take for example a tree, a tree releases seeds and grows other trees. If a “parent” tree was cut down and the “child” tree sees this, the parent passes unto its offspring the need for survival and the next generation of trees learns how to attack its attackers. This is absurd, right? Reminds me of the Lord of the Rings clip with the fight between Mordor and the forest. Those movies are fantasy and so is the notion that there is not a designer that made that organism intelligent at some point.
            McCloskey goes on to blame the existence of evil as being a reason there is no God. McCloskey states “We must conclude that he is either a malevolent powerful being or that he is a well-intentioned muddler, that the creator and ruler of the universe is either not a god but an evil spirit or a well-intentioned finite being whose limitations result in very disastrous consequences.” He also goes on to say “It is true that morally evil acts
and accidents may hurt us or our loved ones, and render us in need of comfort and
support, but since, for the reasons alluded to earlier, God must be held ultimately responsible for these too.” This sounds more like McCloskey wants to blame all evil doing on God. So my rebuttals to these statements are to ask him where our free will is. I would rather be able to do bad things once in a while, than to always be controlled by God or any other higher being. One argument to free will from atheists in the omniscience of God. How can we have free will if God already knows all? I will use my daughter for an example. I have a small daughter at home who I am teaching things, such as don't put your fingers in the socket or touch hot things. I tell her all the time not to touch the stove when it is hot. But I also know that at some time, my daughter will touch that stove out of curiosity. She has free will. I know it will happen and I know that she will do it anyway, but she made the choice to touch the hot surface. God knows that even though He tells us to not do something, that it can still happen. Do I think God knows that I will repent? Yes, I think He does. God wants to give me that option to repent or not to repent. Does God know that I will lie again sometime in my life, sure He does, it is my human nature. Does He know when it will happen, I think so. But He wants to give me that opportunity to prove Him wrong, just like I want to give my daughter her chance to prove me wrong that she will listen to my warnings. The problem is evil exists, but so does free will. I would rather not be controlled like a puppet. We cannot blame all of the world’s misgivings on God not changing them. To me this sounds more like whining than trying to prove a fact. God let this happen, God let that happen; when do we start taking responsibility for our own actions? Free will is also used for good. In Philosophy of
Religion C. Stephen Evans, it states “God also allows humans to act freely because,
without doing so, humans could not be morally responsible agents, capable of freely doing good by responding to and loving their neighbors and Creator.” If I do things for good, I want to know that I am doing them for my love of Christ and what He has done for me, not because I have a God doing these things for me.
            In response to McCloskey stating that atheism is more comforting than having a God, he has to mean that you have a void in your heart. To me it sounds as if there is pain there. While reading Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics by William Lane Craig, there was a statement that stood out to me. This statement says “Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had only succeeded in orphaning himself. For if there is no God, then man's life becomes absurd.”[6] With nothing to live for and do good works for, what is the meaning of doing good works? What is the purpose to life? As William Lane Craig puts it in his article on page 72 “...what ultimate meaning can be given to his life? Does it really matter whether he existed at all?” If you do good works in this life, they are to have a purpose. I had an atheist friend of mine tell me that Christians live to die, while atheists live while they are living. I agreed with him, we do live to die. We serve our purpose here on the Earth to try and serve the Lord, and one day the Lord will reward us for that. I am not saying that all I do is for a reward, but is not our purpose to serve God and to live for God, to share the gospel and to do good? Craig puts these works as relative significance and ultimate significance, what is the significance to your work if you do it? What purpose does that good deed serve? It will
be good for the moment, but what is the longer lasting effect to a good work done as an
atheist? This would not be comforting to me to know that my deed ultimately is not significant. Also, the thought of dying would frighten me as an atheist. What would happen to me when I am gone? Would I just cease to exist and people would forget about me? As a Christian, I know that one day I will experience paradise because that is what the Lord has told me. I wouldn't be able to imagine dying without knowing that I was not going to paradise.
            I have discussed many reasons to believe in a god or the God over atheism in this paper. I tried to view a lot of these cases as a bystander, and not solely as a Christian. To me there are too many proofs to NOT believe in God or a god. There are too many cases in which all the circumstances tilt the scale to a god side. The best defense for a god is in our everyday life. The way we breathe, the way our heart beats, the way we see, the way we eat; everything points to a divine creator.