Thursday, January 28, 2010

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."- Henry David Thoreau

The misery of lost vigor.. the pangs of the subconscious yearnings for something greater... the resignation of hope for significance in a world where everyone seems to lose themselves in complacency.
All of these things are part of life as a human, that we experience before we find the light of life.

I see things people do and feel that tempt me to weep with pity. I see and feel things in my own heart that tempt me to cry out in despair and helplessness.

What are we desperate for? Is it that determination despite irrational complacent resistance, that seems so prevalent in the days of our youth, yet fades so quickly as we realize we are powerless? What are we powerless against? It is indeed a force isn't it? It's pushing us to the ground, and it's greatest tool is our desires.
Why is complacency so powerful?

It's like we're caught in quicksand. The harder we try to struggle against it, the faster we sink, realizing all our efforts only show us just how much further up we have to go in order to grab onto solid ground. It's like we need someone to give us a hand.

What are we desperate for?

The last person I want to be is the person who cares first and foremost about "how are you?", and least about how you're doing.

But that seems to be the pit a lot of us have fallen into.

We want to care, but we can't.
We want to love, but the thing in the mirror stops us.
We want to give, but our flesh screams out.
We want to heal, but our own scars paralyze us.
We want to risk for others, but our safety always wins.
We delight in your happiness,but our own first.
We'd like to be as pure as people think we are, but our desires are out of control.
We'd love having pure motives for the things we do, but something's gone awful wrong.
We'd like to tear down the walls of ignorance, but something keeps rebuilding them.
We'd like to be free, but slavery lies in wait for our every impulse.

Romans 7:24-25 "O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?

O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Resurrection

I am grateful for the past month. Though doubt is an excruciatingly painful road to travel through, the wounds inflicted are healed by an even greater savior in my eyes.

Just want to offer some quick advice about dealing with arguments against the faith of Christianity. You will be swayed if you do not keep these in mind. This does not mean that you will not be swayed- as evidence, premises, and other arguments can be interpreted in any way a person wants to interpret them. Because of this, it is important that we bring evidence to our biases, not our biases to our evidence.

One of the most important things to remember is that truth is truth, whether people can explain it away or not. I can rationally philosophize, interpret evidence to get rid of, or think God out of existence in my mind, but amazingly (and i really do mean amazingly)it has NO effect on His existence. Beware of the heart. I have learned in this life that there is absolutely nothing so deceitful as the human heart. You can't learn these kinds of things unless you allow the words of God to operate on your heart- then you realize your heart's absolute rebellion against Him.

1. Young people like me (18 or so) are very impressionable. It is easy to allow people to fabricate false qualifications for false teachings in our eyes, because we have not much experience. Look past the airs of authority, anger and emotions, or irrational assumptions and keep your mind on the content of the argument. You must not be swayed by false airs or assumptions of total correctness by others. Only look at the intellectual premises of the arguments. I can't tell you how many times, when I was younger (and even now), that I believed a person just because they believed they were right and sounded right. You've got to look past that and focus on the argument. It's hard to do.
But, even in the words of one of today's leading atheists Richard Dawkins- 'And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: "What kind of evidence is there for that?" And if they can't give you a good answer, I hope you'll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.'

2. Remember that all the evidence on earth for God (and there is much), can not give you faith. You can study apologetics for years and years and be very convinced of God's existence and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but you can still not trust God. Only God can make you believe. His grace is sufficient to bring even a prominent atheist to belief, as it indeed has. I have seen that I can see refutations of all atheist claims and cogent arguments for Christ's existence, but I can be a massive doubter, but only when I pray and read the words of God can my faith increase and be sufficient. Also, beware of becoming too involved in studying apologetics, so much so that your heart becomes hardened in simply debating with atheists and agnostics on the existence of God. We must watch our hearts.

3. Jesus said that he has come to bring fire on earth. He has come to divide people against each other- mother against father, father against son. Has this not happened because of Him? Paul, in Romans, emphasized the fact that non-believers hearts have been hardened. This must be understood. The eyes of those who are not in Christ are blinded to God's glory. Like I said, the heart's deceitfulness is very real. It is, in fact, very possible to convince yourself that you're doing something out of sincere reasons, when your heart has hidden from you that you do it for the wrong reasons. So it is with non-believers. The unblinding of my eyes to God's glory last summer was an awesome thing, and It gives me insight into what the eyes of non-believers see- and it is not much, concerning the things of God. Paul, by the grace given to him, also claimed that the message of the cross is foolishness to those perishing and not saved. Has this not been seen today? As was it to me before I was saved- the things of God were foolishness to me. Non-believers see themselves to be "free thinkers" and "open eyed" but, in fact, just as Paul has described, they are the ones who are blinded. This can be easily observed, and it brings pain to my heart to see the blinding of some, but what can we do? Sit and watch it happen? No, we must allow God's grace to work in us to give us conviction to preach the Gospel in hopes that God will call his people and let them truly see.

4. If you consider studying Christianity and other faiths, do not just read Christian books. I do recommend that you read Christian apologetic books first, but, don't limit yourself to that. Once you feel you have studied Christian apologetics, then begin to read defenses of other beliefs and philosophies and theories. We'll never be able to defend the faith if we haven't read from both sides.

5. Christianity stands or falls with evidence for the resurrection. Go to the evidence for the resurrection, for it is certainly sufficient! I recommend books such as "Who moved the stone?" By Frank Morison. Evidence that demands a verdict- the resurrection section. by Josh Mcdowell.

And these websites-

http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=scholarly_articles_historical_Jesus
http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

There's a couple more, but I've just put those up there

Christ centered

Life is full of huge questions. But one is laying heavily upon my heart tonight.
Is it possible for me to be a genuine person?
Is it possible that I could actually care and mean the words I say when I ask a person, "How are you?" Or that when I am among a group of people introducing myself to them, that I actually care to get to know a person instead of wanting to just get the introduction out of the way so I don't feel awkward? Is it possible that I can play music for a group with thoughts of God's glory on my mind instead of thoughts of who I'm going to impress next?

It may seem old fashioned, but something in me cries out for absolute purity. I want to be transparent, 100 percent genuine, totally committed to others, and totally committed to the truth. But it seems outright impossible. I feel a huge pressure to become the person that people assume I am, but I am devoid of the willpower or moral strength to do so.
Luckily, my favorite part of Romans comes in to save the day for this.

"What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet."[b] 8But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.

11For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"



Oh, how that last heart cry of Paul resonates so deeply with my own right now! "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

Thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ, for he will and he does fill me with grace to overcome this body of death.

In all my life, I have never experienced such genuineness and transparency as I had my first semester of Armstrong. I prayed long amounts every day, reflected, pondered, and prayed over God's word. My life was Christ centered. And boy, I'll tell you, I've never felt my heart endowed with such strength, my life so centered around one purpose- Christ's freedom for all. When your life is centered around this purpose- that's when you are truly free.

But, recently I have slacked with my prayer life and I cant even describe the extent to which I have fallen apart. I'm beginning to pray, that God would rebuild my soul again, after my rejecting him the past few weeks.

And so I make this claim- Jesus alone can fill you with the hope, power, strength, to be 100 percent genuine- the person people assume you are. and how beautiful it is to be free.

So, how do you truly live? With a life totally centered around one cause- Christ.