Questions_GodExistTHE QUESTIONS PROJECT: How can we know that God actually exists?

If we started with information that already assumes there is a God (i.e. religious texts) we’d quickly find ourselves in a circular argument.  Although, ultimately we end up there for details.  But we really need to start somewhere else.

Let’s start with what we can observe.  Science has opened up an amazing vista of the universe for us.  We have peered into the expanse of galaxies, and even gazed on the birth of stars.  Thanks to advanced physics and space telescopes, we’ve wrestled with dimensions and numbers of heavenly bodies that defy human comprehension.

We have also looked inward, we have found the human brain has more neurons than there are stars in the heavens.  The genetic strands by which the simplest cell is composed contain specific information more precise than the most complicated computer program.  What’s more, the microscopic “factories” that replicate this complex information are even self-powering!

How did we even discover these things?  Science relies on constant laws and systems.  Under given conditions, the same result will occur every time.  If you follow the laws of optics, we can build a space telescope.  By observing those laws we can You can focus on an object, by the constant laws of physics, you can determine the distance and size of that object.

A definition of “design” by Merriam-Webster is: the arrangement of elements or details in a product or work.  It’s an indisputable observation: the universe works.  According to science, for billions of years.  Astronomy understands it as a collection of functioning systems.

The idea of all the particles and parts of the universe organizing themselves into systems wouldn’t be a big deal if we hadn’t discovered another law of the universe called, “entropy.”  Quantum physicists like to talk about it as energy dissipated in a closed system.  But for us regular folks, it really plays out in the simple fact that everything tends to flow from order to disorder.  Just don’t clean your house for a month and see what happens. Entropy is a physical truth of the universe, and yet something drives the universe from disorder to order.

The greatest reality that flies in the face of entropy is life.  Nothing is a more ordered system of systems than life.  Even the simplest cell is a miniature factory.  Like your TV or car, all parts have to be working or it doesn’t work at all.  So for life to exits; not only must there be working systems, they must all come into existence at the same time.

Whether we are talking about constellations or human bodies, we are talking about functioning systems.  Functioning systems are by definition, the product of design.  That raises an assertion that just won’t go away.  If there is a design, there must be a designer.

Design also implies others things like intentionality and purpose.  We can be sure that whoever designed the first mouse trap definitely had a purpose in mind.

One final step in this path of reason.  Every creation is created by a designer greater than itself.  Whether it’s a mouse trap or the entire universe.  The creator is greater, or “transcends” the thing they created.  What do we call a creative entity that transcends all of reality?  We can use any label of our choosing, but the term, “God” certainly sounds appropriate.

Granted, this is only one line of reasoning that points to a Creator.  The truth is, it only takes us as far as this: such an entity actually exists.  But just the fact that there is a solid line of reasoning that leads to this conclusion should compel us to seriously search.  After all, if everything was designed on purpose and for a purpose, could there be a more fundamental mystery worth exploring?

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THE QUESTIONS PROJECT

Questions_1It’s pretty much official, we live in a post-Christian culture.  It is not that we have outgrown the concept of God, we’ve just strayed away from Him.  The result has been a profound loss in understanding the actual teaching of the faith.

 

Even if an individual has no desire to be in the faith, it is a loss of heritage, because like it or not, Judeo-Christianity has been infused in western culture since 200 BC.  That’s a lot of heritage!

 

The truth is, for all the information out there, it is rather difficult to get an honest and balanced answer based on Biblical teaching.  I’m by no means a scholar, but I am an ordained pastor who cares about this community in which I live.  I also have a strong passion for honesty and balance in approaching Scripture.

 

So here’s the deal.  I’m hoping for questions from the community.  Maybe it’s respectfully addressing a spiritually hostile meme or comment, maybe it just something you’ve wondered about, or perhaps it’s a conflict you sense within Scripture itself.  There are lots of honest questions out there.

 

I would love to hear them and do my best to address them.  Even if we can’t settle every issue, perhaps we can wrestle with them together.  I’d love to learn from you, just as much as I’d like to offer a thought that might help in your ponderings.

 

Here’s to looking forward to the community’s spiritual questions.  Just forward them to questions@canaan-church.org.  I’ll do my best to offer an honest, clear, and Biblically balanced response.

3 NAUGHTY THINGS CHRISTIANS CAN DO!

3 Naughty_titleReady to be simply human as you pursue God?  Here we go with the naughty list, you can…

 

Doubt

Following a God who is spirit is a venture in faith, the flip-side of faith is doubt.  They go together like two sides of the same coin.  Seasons of doubt come to even the most devout.  If we look through the Bible, we find people doubting God’s purpose, God’s promise, themselves, and even God!

It is natural to go through seasons of doubt.  What builds or destroys is not the doubt, but what we do with it.  All champions in the faith had a few things in common: They were honest about their doubt.  They faced their doubt.  They continued even as they doubted and they ended affirmed in some way.  That’s how it worked for Gideon in an impossible call, Moses in an impossible mission, Abraham’s impossible age, Peter denying Christ, and Thomas doubting the resurrection.  They were all understandable, but in the end, each was answered.

 

Get angry

Contrary to popular opinion, God says it’s ok to get angry.  It’s not wrong, just human.  The danger is, we usually doing something stupid while we are angry.

God expects us to get angry at times.  But He offers us a few guidelines:

Warning!  –Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.  Prov. 29:11

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.  James 1:19-20

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  Ephesians 4:26, 27

 

Be a hot lover

The Greeks had three words for love; moral love, love of a friend, and erotic love.  Scripture offers wisdom on excelling in all three… yes, even the erotic!

On the steamy side; read the Song of Solomon.  In this intense love letter, Solomon writes:

The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman.  Your navel is a rounded goblet which lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies.  Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Song of Solomon 7:1-3

Ok, I’m going for a cold shower… be right back…

In today’s mindset, we equate sexual satisfaction in the thrills of novelty.  We see little more than boredom in the long-term or familiar.  But even psychological research is discovering that the most sexually satisfied people are those who have managed to stay in love over the long-haul and enjoy the depths of love that only time can provide.  The trick is, that type of love involves growth in the other two types of love.  (The Greeks had something there.)

So, there are 3 ways that God says, it’s ok to be “naughty”, just be honest about it- with Him, and with yourself.  It is certainly food for thought!

Breaking the Silence… with Caution

SilenceBreakersTime Magazine broke tradition this year by having a group instead of a person of the year.  In a compelling article about the “Silence Breakers.”  The article focuses on women galvanized around the hashtag “#MeToo” which is breaking the silence of sexual harassment worldwide.

Hurray for the courageous who are exposing these dark acts.  Scripture; Galatians 3:28, 1 Tim. 5:2, and James 1:27, has been crying out against this for 2000 years.

That being said; here are three gnawing concerns: Continue reading “Breaking the Silence… with Caution”

CHRISTMAS, DOES IT MATTER?

candle_christmas.png

There are interesting responses to this observance called Christmas.

  • There are the nay-sayers, pointing to the roots of a pre-Christian Europe and shouting, “Pagan!”
  • There are the secularists who embrace the “Christmas spirit”, seeing it as an inspiration to be extra kind. Be nice.  Give to the needy.  Surprise and delight children.
  • There are those who point to the profound act of God. Somehow, for some reason, an infinite God took on human form and entered our world to save us.

Continue reading “CHRISTMAS, DOES IT MATTER?”

VEGAS: SIMPLE, NOT SIMPLISTIC

Vegas Shooting

What positive could we possibly glean from the Vegas shooting?!  The most disturbing question on everyone’s mind is: How could a seemingly average man do such a thing?  For all the theorizing, he wasn’t that different from any of us. The comfort is in knowing that God has always known.  It’s at the core of His message to us.  There is an answer that is simple, but it is far from simplistic.  It is the foundational reason of why this happened, and how to guard against such darkness.  It deals with really understanding the nature of sin in all of us; how it really works.  I’ve never read a better explanation than this devotional from Oswald Chambers which you can access from our church website’s DEVOTIONAL PAGE.  Chambers’ article (Thursday) wasn’t written as a response to some recent shooting.  It was written in 1935 before people ever conceived of such things.  In summary, he writes:

The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, “I am my own god.” This nature may exhibit itself in proper morality or in improper immorality, but it always has a common basis— my claim to my right to myself. When our Lord faced either people with all the forces of evil in them, or people who were clean-living, moral, and upright, He paid no attention to the moral degradation of one, nor any attention to the moral attainment of the other. He looked at something we do not see, namely, the nature of man.   …  

God nowhere holds a person responsible for having the heredity of sin, and does not condemn anyone because of it. Condemnation comes when I realize that Jesus Christ came to deliver me from this heredity of sin, and yet I refuse to let Him do so.

Romans 6:23 makes the simple statement that “the wages of sin is death”, but death comes in many contexts and forms.  In how many ways did this “average man” die before raining death on so many others?  In how many steps and choices did he refuse to be rescued from our inherited sin nature, but instead he walked further into it?  There is nothing good about a senseless mass killing, but the good news is; God has the answer for it- why it really happened, and how to guard against such darkness.  The depth of the answer is beyond the scope of a little email, but those alive in Christ  can know this: We can grow in the answer, for the answer is not a psychological profile, social program, or law; it is a Person.  It always has been.

“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I AM!'” John 8:58 NET