No I’m not talking about suggestion in the sense of, “maybe you should try the crab bisque”, but rather in the sense of psychology and dealing with the conscious mind.
A definition of suggestion is
The act of focusing the conscious mind of the subject upon a single dominant idea.
The idea that your brain can be so focused on an idea that it can cause a change in your own physical body or stimuli. Perhaps causing your hands to do something or your mind to forget certain words in an experiment. Here is a simple example that everyone can try that involves your hands and suggestion.
Give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you.
So we have had a short break from our “Can We Trust the New Testament” series because of Christmas and New Years. The last time we looked at the evidence we talked about the idea of certain types of criteria that are examined anytime an ancient source is examined to trust its historicity.
We have already covered early, and enemy attestation, and today we are going to look at embarrassing testimony.
Now this isn’t the type of embarrassing we think of when you do that thing where you’re walking down the sidewalk and do the slight trip only to notice everyone saw it. This type of embarrassment comes from including certain elements in the Gospel narratives that would be considered embarrassing for the writers.
There are two very clear examples of this in the passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark.
First is the burial of Jesus in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. For the Jews at this time (Which the writer of Mark was) the Sanhedrin (council who tried and sent Jesus to Pilate) basically orchestrated a judicial murder of their Messiah. The sentiment toward the Sanhedrin would have been very negative. So one has to wonder why if Mark was just merely making up the story of Jesus’ resurrection why on earth would he make up a story where a member of the very same council who killed Jesus suddenly does right by Jesus. Giving Jesus his own brand new tomb was an awfully nice gesture, but why would Mark make that up?
That’s why embarrassing testimony is so important, is that it lends credibility to the narrative. Surely if Mark were making this up he would have had someone not on the Sanhedrin give Jesus their tomb.
Even more telling, are Jesus’ first witnesses to His resurrection. The Gospel of Mark shows that a group of women discovered the tomb empty, and were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Now in our culture today, nothing would be wrong with this notion at all, and will cause you to overlook this if you aren’t careful. Looking at 1st century story through the lens of the 21st century is anachronistic.
However in the 1st century according to ancient historians including Josephus, the testimony of women meant nothing. Critics try to claim that this isn’t true pointing to events such as the destruction of Masada in which women were used as witnesses, but the problem with this is that they were only used as a witness in this case because they WERE the only witnesses that survived.
Surely if Mark was making up this story, he would have made male disciples the first discoverer’s of the empty tomb. But he didn’t.
In fact what this shows is that the first witnesses to the empty tomb actually were Jesus’ women disciples.
That covers two clear examples of embarrassing testimony in the Gospel account. There are numerous other examples including the disciples doubting Jesus and running away from Him, as well as not realizing what He was telling them.
Next up Eye-witness.
Check out the first in a series of interactive mentalism videos that you can try right now.
This is an old effect that uses concentration and psychology to completely vanish your chosen card.
Give it a shot and pass it on to your friends.
It seems like 2012 just started, in fact I’m pretty sure that I almost wrote a blog last year that said, “it seems like 2011 just started” That’s how fast this year was. God has opened up so many doors over this past year, and we have gotten to work with so many awesome people.
As I write this, I am sitting in Dulles Int. Airport after a crazy week. We started in New Orleans for the kNOw conference at the Baptist Seminary, then out to San Diego for CRU’s SD Winter Conference. Then we flew over to Chantilly, VA for a show at 10:00 pm then immediately packed up and drove 30 minutes to McLean Bible Church to do a show at 2:00 am and 3:00 am for the New Years.
So it’s been a very busy year already.
Pray with us as we continue to minister across the country through mentalism. We are about to kick off the CIY Believe tour, so make sure to follow along for updates.
Thanks for all of your support!
You’ll recall that I posted four types of criteria that are very important when it comes to trusting an ancient sources historicity. Early, eye-witness, embarrassing, and enemy attestation. We’ve already looked at early testimony and seen that the Gospels are in fact early, containing very early sources.
Today we will look quickly at enemy attestation. Think about it for a minute. Skeptics of history always claim that the winners of any battle get to write the history, therefore there are no opposing views of an event. If all of the people writing about Jesus were already His followers, you could see why doubt could be thrown onto their accounts because they may or may not have a bias that they carried with them. IF you could find someone who didn’t believe in Jesus, then you’ve hit some serious historical pay dirt.
That’s exactly what we have in two cases. In the creed cited by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, he mentions the appearances of the resurrected Jesus. two of the appearances are what is known as “enemy attestation” appearances. James and Paul.
Looking at James first, it’s clear that James, the brother of Jesus, did not believe Jesus’ claims while He was alive, yet something happened to James so life changing that made him change hi mind completely and become the leader of the early church in Jerusalem. What kind of life-changing event happened? The appearance of the risen Jesus.
Now Paul is even more extreme. He was a pharisee sheriff if you will. He rounded up Christians to be arrested or killed. He prided himself on being a pharisee of pharisees. Yet something happened to Paul that made him completely turn a 180 and become one of the greatest Christians that has ever lived, giving us half of the NT. You see skeptics try to claim that the disciples had some sort of grief hallucination because their leader was dead (which there is no evidence by the way). This however is refuted by Paul. Paul is the nail in the coffin for the idea of collusion and hallucination. Paul an enemy Christianity had an experience so life-changing that he went from killing Christians to becoming the mouth-piece of Christianity to the ancient world.
The only thing to explain this along with the other minimal facts is that Jesus really did rise from the dead and the tomb is empty.
Next up is embarrassing testimony.
Last week I looked at the minimal facts approach that can be taken to looking at the evidence for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. Again the resurrection is key because without it, our faith would be dead. Now before I go too much further there are two ways of knowing Jesus rose from the dead, first is the experiential way. Having the witness of the Holy Spirit. This is generally the only evidence that most people ever need, but there are some people out there who need the historical case for Jesus in order to believe.
For more on the experiential evidence of the resurrection, check out my post from a few weeks back on “Shouldn’t a Magician be an Atheist?”
People who doubt the resurrection try to first deny the historical value of the Gospels (Richard Carrier-Bart Ehrman-The Jesus Seminar). Secondly, they attack the Apostle Paul, saying he didn’t actually believe the same thing as the Gospels about Jesus. They try and claim that Paul never believed in a bodily resurrection at all, thus undermining the entire principal of a historical event, but rather some spiritual experience. The problem with that thought though, is a subjective visionary experience does nothing for us today. A risen resurrected Jesus changed everything. It vindicates Jesus’ personal claims of deity.
One of the earliest source materials we have in the New Testament is in 1 Corinthians. Paul quotes a very old Christian tradition that dates back to within 5 years of the resurrection. Some scholars date this creed as early as 18 months after the events of Jesus resurrection. The significance of that is enormous. Showing that the earliest Christians, and the Gospel writers stories lined up, and that the Gospel writers didn’t just make up all that happened in their accounts.
Here is the creed from 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
3 For I delivered to you [b]as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to [c]James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as [d]to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Paul basically lays out the entire narrative of the 4 facts talked about last week.
The burial, the empty tomb is clearly implied, the appearances, and then the origin of the Christian faith in such an un-Jewish idea of a resurrected Messiah.
Paul adds himself to the list of the appearances to give credence to his own experience to say it equals that of the original disciples.
This ancient creed shows how much the Gospels and all of the NT agree with each other about the narrative of Jesus. So the best conclusion is that we do in fact have great early sources. Historians consider it to be pay dirt when they have 2 independent early sources of the same event. With the narrative of Jesus, we have 5 independent sources, two of which are very, very early. In antiquity this is about as good as it gets for historical sources.
That idea sounds kind of strange when using it as an argument to convince someone of something. However when you unpack the idea and understand what the minimal facts approach is, it changes how we can relate to unbelievers. If you are going to have a debate with someone, or even try to share Christ with someone, you need to stand on some sort of common ground. If you are trying to quote scripture after scripture to someone who doesn’t believe the New Testament is even credible, then you are going to lose your breath doing so. But if you can find some sort of common ground that the two of you agree on, then you can build a foundation from there into a conversation that lets you present your case in a way that will be paid attention to.
The Minimal Facts Approach.
Think of it like a common denominator in math. When adding and subtracting fractions, you have to find the common denominator before you start working, you break it down to it’s simplest form. That is what is done with the Resurrection of Jesus using what’s known as the minimal facts approach. Depending on who is presenting these facts, there are generally 3 to 4 facts that are agreed upon by virtually ALL credible New Testament scholars. That includes ones who are very skeptical, and even atheistic in their worldview, yet they still agree that Jesus was:
-Crucified in the First Century by Pontius Pilate
-Left an Empty Tomb
-His Disciples had experiences of an appearance of what they thought was from Jesus, that changed them
-Paul and James both “enemies” of Christianity had experiences that changed them.
These facts are all agreed upon by virtually all New Testament scholars, given the background historical information from sources in antiquity, not just the New Testament. These are facts that can be used as common ground for people who doubt the credibility of the New Testament Documents, because these are clearly seen with or without them. Josephus and other ancient historians write about Jesus’ crucifixion under Pilate, Paul’s writings clearly show that he had an experience that changed him. The disciples willing to die for a very un-Jewish notion of a resurrected Jesus before the general resurrection all show that they had some kind of experience.
These facts provide the groundwork for a very convincing case that the best explanation for these facts in that God raised Jesus from the dead.
Tomorrow, I will quickly look at 1 Corinthians 15 and it’s impact as a very early source.
Over the past few weeks you know we have been looking at notion of being able to trust the New Testament as an accurate source. Last week I introduced the idea of different criteria we can use to trust if what The New Testament reports is accurate. Some of those criteria were early testimony, eyewitness testimony, embarrassing testimony, and enemy testimony.
All of these are very important in their own way of showing the accuracy of the NT documents. For the most part we will deal with the Gospels since that is where most of our info about Jesus’ life is. However we will look at one other piece of the NT to show some of the earliest writing we have.
Before we look at “Early Testimony” we need to know when the Gospels were written. Most conservative dating puts them at 30-40 years after Christ’s death for the time of writing. Others date them up to around 60 years after the events happened. I find the earlier dating fits better because we have one solid concrete piece of historical dating that we know happened in A.D. 70. The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. This is undeniable. The Gospel being Jews would most likely have mentioned something about the Temple being destroyed, but none of them did, even thought they reported the words Jesus spoke about No stone will be left unturned in Mark 13:1-4. If you read the passage in Mark it’s clear the writer didn’t know about the destruction of the Temple because it hadn’t happened yet.
To compare how 30-40 years after the events compares to other ancient sources make sure to look at the chart from Week 2.
Now the interesting thing though is that looking at the Gospel of Mark (Which is the earliest Gospel account) and 1 Corinthians 15 (One of Paul’s letters which was written before the Gospels) you find two very peculiar passages that bring light to how early these stories about Jesus go. Even if “legends” about Jesus were created by the time of the Gospel writing, (which scholars agree is not probable because of the short time period and availability of live eye-witnesses to refute any false claims) these two passages stand out.
First is the Passion Narrative (last week of Jesus) in the Gospel of Mark. Here is what Dr. William Lane Craig says about this Pre-Markan story from the Gospel of Mark.
First and foremost is the Passion source which Mark used in writing his Gospel. Whereas most of Mark’s Gospel consists of short anecdotal stories strung like pearls on a string, when we get to the final week of Jesus’ life we encounter a continuous narrative of events from the Jewish plot during the Feast of Unleavened Bread through Jesus’ burial and empty tomb. The events of the Last Supper, arrest, execution, burial, and empty tomb were central to the identity of early Christian communities. According to James D. G. Dunn, “The most obvious explanation of this feature is that the framework was early on fixed within the tradition process and remained so throughout the transition to written Gospels. This suggests in turn a tradition rooted in the memory of the participants and put into that framework by them” (J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 2003, pp. 765-6.) The dominant view among NT scholars is therefore that the Passion narratives are early and based on eyewitness testimony (Mark Allen Powell, JAAR 68 : 171). Indeed, according to Richard Bauckham, many scholars date Mark’s Passion narrative no later than the 40s (recall that Jesus died in A.D. 30) (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 2006, p. 243). So we’re dealing here with an extraordinarily early source.
What are your thoughts on the dating of the NT?
How does that change opinions?
Do we have any credible sources for the New Testament?
For the last two weeks, we have looked questions concerning the historical reliablility of the New Testament. Like I said last week, the ramifications of a trustworthy New Testament change the world. We realize that we are sinners and need salvation, only given through Jesus Christ. The question comes in though concerning our main source for Jesus.
The last two weeks have dealt with the historical background of the New Testament and retention of manuscripts since its writing. We discovered that compared to other sources from antiquity, the NT is the most reliable source we have based both on gap in authorship and surviving copies, and the amount of copies that we have. Other sources pale in comparison to the amount of copies the New Testament has.
We are over 99% sure that the New Testament still says what it said in the original autographs.
Now The Big Question.
Is what is written in the New Testament true?
That is the million dollar question. There is some criteria to look at concerning ways to determine the truthfulness of the account given by the NT. Being the best source in antiquity does nothing for us if it is fact a very well preserved myth or legend.
Over the next couple of weeks we will break down the different important criteria about Jesus and the evidence in favor of a truthful NT account of His life.
Some of this criteria includes, early testimony, eye-witness testimony, embarrassing, as well as enemy testimony.
These will help us determine whether what the NT says is actually truth.
Next Week we will dive in to some of these criteria.
What happens if the New Testament is true?
Critics try to discredit the NT based simply on the information behind its writing and the amount of manuscripts we still have. One of the most popular criticisms is that the NT was changed over the years. People willingly believe this too even though the background information clearly shows this to be not true. For instance the same people who discredit the NT will gladly put stock in Caesar’s writings or the manuscripts of Homer, Tacitus, Plato, and the great Greek historian Herodotus.
They don’t really give a reason for why they are not nearly as harsh on these other sources than on the NT. I can tell you though, what it boils down to. The fact that these are secular sources automatically gives them more credibility in the minds of critics. The funny thing is though, there is no merit for this view. The only reason for this is because it fits closer to their world view. You’ll always find that “Free Thinkers” and “Open Minded” people are always the first to try to shut down opposing voices….not too tolerant eh?
How does the New Testament stack up with these other ancient sources?
We need to look at two things to determine how much we can tell about our current version of the NT is from the original manuscripts. First is time, and then number of manuscripts.
Here is the time gap between the original writing and the surviving copies.
Pretty big gaps right? These are our most reliable historical sources right? So a gap that big is not that big of a deal right? Wrong.
The New Testament–25 Years. Yep that’s it. 25 years. Less than the amount of time that it takes for legends to form.
What about number of Manuscipts
Not very much right? So you see how few copies we have for our favorite ancient sources.
The New Testament?
5,686 Copies. Yup you read that right. 5,000 copies more than the next source.
That’s a huge amount! What does that do for you though? Think about it this way. With that many surviving copies, you can sit them side by side and look at where they are the same and where they differ. This helps you realize what the original manuscripts said. So not only is the New Testament a reliable historical source, but it is the most reliable historical source in antiquity.
How does that affect us?
Think about why people reject the New Testament now. Not on its historical merits, but because they realize the implications of what it means for the NT to be true, and how it changes everything.
The God of the Bible is real and loves us, and that our sin separates us from God, that we are not good in our nature, but need redemption from our savior.
That’s what the world is afraid of, but what we have to convey to everyone.
What do people tell you about the NT?
If you have seen our show, you know that at the beginning I like to open up with some card manipulation. Making them appear and vanish from mid air. Truthfully this is what got me in to doing magic as a kid. I saw this on tv and wanted do it. I spent years practicing every time I got my hands on some cards. These classic effects really never go out of the style.
Here is a glimpse of how people used to do manipulation in the past. This is already one of the hardest skills in all of magic, but this performer, Cardini, does the sleights with gloves on. This is nearly impossible for most magicians, but he mastered it. The story is why he wore gloves is that in World War I, he was in the trenches. His hands were cold being from outside for nearly 15 hours of the day everyday. So to keep himself entertained he practiced with cards, with his gloves on. Making him one of a kind, and one of the best performers ever.
This goes against the paradigm so popular today that anything old is stupid and outdated. Our culture looks at any old idea as antiquated and barbaric even if it is sound and healthy logic. One such pastor recently got up in MO and (in my opinion) made a fool of himself by standing up for a non biblical stance because people used to use similar arguments for slavery. The problem is, his argument, although compelling in passion and emotion fell completely flat when it came to logic and sense.
As Christians we can’t get caught up in the mindset that traditional biblical values are bad because they are old. That simply doesn’t follow.
Most of our information about the greatest figure in all of history, Jesus, comes from the New Testament of the Bible. Reading through the New Testament, it is clear that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. We also see that we are sinners destined for eternity separated from God in a place called Hell. We see that on our own, we will never be good enough to get to heave, but on our own we don’t have to be. Because reading through we see that Jesus took our punishment on His back, died a painful brutal, and bloody death on the cross. The story doesn’t end there though, we see the ultimate triumph over death as Jesus came back to life and ascended to heaven. Through this act of God raising Jesus from the dead, our sin debt has been paid, and we are extended the right to become children of God if we accept Him. The New Testament tells us that if we confess our sins that God will faithfully forgive us and make us clean. We see that all we have to do is call upon the name of the Lord and we will be saved. That if we just confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we will be saved. We will spend eternity in the presence of God in new heavenly bodies in a new heaven and earth.
It also gives us instructions about sharing this message with everyone we come in contact with, as well as living a pure life in all of our interactions.
The news doesn’t get a whole lot better than that to be honest with you.
The real question.
The real question though, as good as all of this sounds, can we actually trust the New Testament? I mean wasn’t it written by man? Hasn’t it been changed over the years? Didn’t Constantine just make whatever books he liked become the New Testament? Don’t we have just copies of copies of copies without any idea of what the original said? Do we even have any credible sources?
All of these questions and more will be answered over the next few Tuesdays. Stay tuned and get ready to have your minds blown by the awesome and powerful story that is our New Testament.
The Times they are a’changin
When you read this, the election will be over, but at the time of writing this, the 2012 election has not yet occurred. Here it is 24 hours before what could be a huge shift for our country no matter what happens. As Karla and I travel across the country, we see all sorts of different things. Mindsets, opinions, worldviews, whatever you want to call them. What I do know though, is that no matter who wins the election tomorrow night, our country is in need of serious revival.
I have heard too many people talk about America like it’s a done deal, like it’s never going to change or get better, or turn to Jesus. This got me thinking though. Every group of Christians since the disciples have thought that their generation was living in the end times, and guess what they were all wrong. We are called to live in such a way that we are sharing Christ through our lives whether He is coming tomorrow, or in 10,000 years. I look back over our history at the events of the Great Awakenings. I’m willing to be that there were voices saying, “Ah what’s the use in trying to change this country, Jesus will be coming back soon and that’ll take care of it.” But you know what? People didn’t just sit on their hands and wait, they prayed. They sought God, and they became active in reaching the world they knew for Christ, and look at the impact it had.
What our country needs, what our world needs is another Great Awakening. “Well I wish someone would start it…”
What about you?
The seeds of an Awakening start with you. You are the catalyst this world needs to wake up. I’m sure people thought the world was too far gone until Charles Finney, and other leaders of the Awakenings started bringing the Word. When they did, unashamed and unapologetic, peoples lives were changed. We have to live the love of Christ so boldly in such a way that draws people to Him. We are the light of the world. It’s time for us to wake up and shine into the rest of this dark world.
We need an awakening, and it starts on an individual level from our knees and spreads outwards.
Wake up, and shake this world.
How can you be the seed of a New Great Awakening?
What is Good?
Last week I started a segment called don’t ask it redefined. I started by talking about the idea of nothing, and how popular atheists redefine the word to mean something that is in fact not nothing.
This week were talking about the word good. It seems kind of odd to try to redefine the word good to me whatever you want me, but that’s just with Sam Harris is done. In his book The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris, renowned atheist, has redefine what the word good means.
His argument comes from his acknowledgment that there are in fact absolute objective morals. Things that are right or wrong no matter what people’s opinion of them. Things like murder, rape, and other things are objectively wrong no matter what society says about them. The idea that the Holocaust would still be wrong, would still be evil even if Nazi Germany would’ve won World War II is a clear example of this. Just because society would’ve said the killing 6 million Jews would be right, it would still be wrong. Sam Harris acknowledges the fact that there are objective morals yet wants to find a basis for them other than God. As an atheist he rules out God for the grounding of morality before he even starts. He wants to try to find a basis for morality in the world we live in on strict naturalism. The problem is there is no ground for morality in that naturalism. If he were right, and naturalism is true, then we would be just molecules in motion. Murder and rape wouldn’t be any more wrong than a lion killing another animal.
Here is what Dr. William Lane Craig says about Harris’ redefinition of the word “good”
So, he says, “Questions about values … are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures.”13 Therefore, he concludes, “It makes no sense … to ask whether maximizing well-being is ‘good’.”14 Why not? Because he’s redefined the word “good” to mean the well-being of conscious creatures. So to ask, “Why is maximizing creatures’ well-being good?” is on his definition the same as asking, “Why does maximizing creatures’ well-being maximize creatures’ well-being?” It is simply a tautology — talking in a circle. Thus, Harris has “solved” his problem simply by redefining his terms. It is mere word play.
At the end of the day Harris is not really talking about moral values. He is just talking about what’s conducive to the flourishing of sentient life on this planet. Seen in this light, his claim that science can tell us a great deal about what contributes to human flourishing is hardly controversial. Of course, it can — just as it can tell us what is conducive to the flourishing of corn or mosquitoes or bacteria. His so-called “moral landscape” picturing the highs and lows of human flourishing is not really a moral landscape at all
Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/navigating-sam-harris-the-moral-landscape#ixzz2BO3AJdDR
So Harris in his attempt to tell you that without God there is a reason to be good, fails miserably. His “success” comes from his redefinition of the word “good”
Have you heard people redefine Good?
86 years ago the great Harry Houdini died. There’s a misconception over his death due to a movie that came out a while back in which Houdini died in a water escape. Not true. The story is actually kind of weird. Houdini had a challenge in which he told people that he could take any punch from anybody. Well a college boy asked if he could try, and before Houdini was ready (flexing his abs I assume) the boy punched him very hard. He then died a few days later of appendicitis. I may be unconnected, but clearly his appendix burst.
He died on Halloween of 1926. Houdini had a great legacy of debunking “psychics and mediums” that I like to carry on today.
Houdini is also the father of some the worlds most famous illusions, many of which are still performed to this day. One of the signature pieces in our show is Houdini’s Metamorphosis. Which if you’ve seen our show, you know that Karla and I have one of the fastest versions in the world.
So take a little time to remember the great Harry Houdini today.
The evidence if weighed on a fair philosophical and scientific Clearly tips in the favor of the theist. In fact, dig deeper, and it tips in favor of Christianity.
The idea that the universe was created out of nothing is an unparalleled fact both scientifically and philosophically. It’s a knockout argument, but the problem is when people decide they don’t want to agree with theism or Christianity they just redefine what they mean by certain words.
Two such words come to mind today, first is nothing. Now I think we all know as human beings what the word “nothing” means. It means no thing, nada, zilch, nothing. Nothingness is not just empty space.
Now scientists like Lawrence Krauss like to redefine the word “nothing” to mean a cosmic, quantum vacuum in which energy exists. And out of this pre-existing energy exploded the universe. Now I’m pretty sure if you show that to a nine-year-old they would say energy is not nothing they are going to say, “no energy, now that is something.”
This idea of redefining the word “nothing” to mean whatever you want to be, is really harmful to credibility because it’s a philosophical paradox. On one hand the claim not to be able to use philosophy, but then they try to philosophically worm their way into making a new word out the word “nothing”. They are trying to have it both ways they’re trying to say one hand that the universe came from nothing, but that “nothing” is in fact not “nothing”. The reason they do this is because we know philosophically, and scientifically the universe came from literally no thing so therefore had to have a cause outside of the universe therefore God.
Check out what Dr. William Lane Craig says about the word nothing.
The universe can’t create itself. That’s logically impossible, therefore the cause of the universe must be a shapeless, timeless, immaterial, highly intelligent, personal being that is God.
Next week we will look at morality and how they try to redefine the word “good”. You think it would be a pretty simple thing to know what good means, one such atheists has “redefined” it to mean something that is a complete logical circle. This idea of morality also plays into the proof for God. Because God is the greatest conceivable good therefore all of our moral values and duties come from him.
I would think that magicians, of all people, would be the least likely to believe in divine miracles. It just seems that beyond the spectacle, they are trained that there is science or logic behind everything — no matter how awe inspiring. And please note that I say that not in condemning your beliefs but just as a sociological observation.
Random Facebook comment on another Magician’s Page
So because I do what I do, naturally I should be a skeptic and chuck all of the evidence I have out the window? That’s the problem. Anytime someone makes a faith claim, the atheists assume it is without evidence. The late Christopher Hitchens said,
“If one must have faith in order to believe something, or believe in something, then the likelihood of that something having any truth or value is considerably diminished.”
That sounds great on paper, but the problem with that is that Christopher often made faith claims that were directly contradictory to this statement. After all the claim that one believes in their own existence…greatly diminishes their own existence.
Blind Faith is not what Christians claim to have. If anyone tells you that you should just have blind faith in something, run!
I’ll speak to my own experience since the question was posed about magicians. I don’t question things that I have evidence for, or maybe I do, but the evidence silences my questions. Outwardly and to atheists I appeal to Cosmology (the study of the origin of the universe) or the fine tuning of the universe to provide evidence for God. Further, I look at the claims of Jesus about Himself, and the evidence of His resurrection, and conclude that God revealed Himself through the Resurrection of Jesus validating all of Jesus’ teachings, including the opportunity for eternal life, answered prayers, and yes miracles.
That’s all outwardly. Inwardly I have the most assured evidence of the testimony of the Holy Spirit living in me. I don’t need any further evidence to continue convincing myself. I have all that I need in the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.
My favorite Apologist, Dr. William Lane Craig has this to say on the matter,
By that I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premiss in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply the apprehension of certain truths of the Christian religion, such as “God exists,” “I am condemned by God,” “I am reconciled to God,” “Christ lives in me,” and so forth; that such an experience provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity’s truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for him who attends fully to it.
So to say that I should be skeptical of anything miraculous is absolutely absurd because the miraculous happens everyday. The fact that there is a universe that Genesis 1:1 is true provides a backbone for all things miraculous.
Last night was a great chance to minister to some really awesome youth pastors in Gulf Shores, Al.
As much as we focus on evangelism for teens and students, we know how hard the day to day grind can be in youth ministry.
Take some time today to lift up your youth pastor in prayer. These guys are on the front lines of a cultural war for the hearts of our students. They take the day to day flack that you and I may never see.
Last week I put up a blog about our fall tour. Seeing God move the way He did was truly awesome!
So at the top is a highlight video of the fall tour. Check it out and pass it along to all of your friends!
This was a famous bus campaign in the UK around Christmas time. It poses a pretty strong statement. There is a glaring problem though that even the most pronounced atheists cannot answer. That simple question is based around the word “why”.
On what grounds are there to be good for goodness sake? What basis is there for being good? If there is no God, then objective morals and duties don’t exist. If objective morals and duties don’t exist, then the notion of being good for goodness sake is merely a silly notion with no basis for reality.
Think about it for a minute. If there is no God, then the ultimate purpose of human life is to propagate your own genetic line. The goal being to pass your genes on, no matter what the cost. If that is the ultimate purpose being that without God, we are just molecules in motion, then why in the world would we be involved in relief work? I see atheists all the time talking about the humanitarian aid they are a part of. Getting past the sound of people patting themselves on the backs, you look deeper and see that what they are doing is directly contrary to what they profess with their mouths.
On atheism, there is no value for human life other than your own. There is no need to help others. In fact it might do your offspring good to eliminate others that might take away from your resources. Dan Barker and Sam Harris try to say that of course morality can be based without God. They then redefine the word good to mean whatever causes the least harm. The problem is though that on atheism this is merely just an opinion without any philosophical, scientific, or logical grounds. This becomes something that sounds good on paper, but has zero weight to hold it’s own line of thinking.
Can you be good for goodness sake?
No. Without God, there are no objective morals and duties. At that point it breaks down in to whatever you think being right.
Like abortion, or the Holocaust. Surely the Nazi’s thought what they were doing was right, and on atheism you have no grounds to correct them.
What have you heard people say about right and wrong?
This is without a doubt one of my favorite magic acts. Why? because of its simplicity. There is one technique involved here, yet everything is done to perfection with art. Omar Pasha, knows his strength, and uses them to the best of his ability. This guy does one thing, but he does it with absolute excellence.
Each and every one of us has certain gifts and abilities given to us by God to use for His glory. It’s our choice whether we are going to accept the gifts and abilities that we have, or if we will be like the third servant in the parable Jesus told burying it in the sand.
I know at the end of my life, I want to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
I don’t want to be the guy that disappoints God by wasting my gift.
Use what He has given you to make an impact for Him today.
What gifts do you have?
Karla and I have been gone since mid September touring different dates around the country. From CO to GA to VA to CA to TX. The coolest thing about getting to do what Karla and I do is that we get to see people come to know Christ from all over the place. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t opposition form the enemy.
Friday night we were in Lynchburg, VA at Thomas Road Baptist Church. There were about 700 students from the community in the room, packing it out. All of the sudden as soon as I got to the meat of the Gospel presentation, the entire sound/video system shut off.
Now if you’ve read some of my posts about hecklers and dealing with issues from the stage, you know how this could easily derail an entire show, but God is bigger than the opposition. I decided I was going to just continue and pray that I was able to project my voice loud enough that everyone could hear. The miraculous part was that in a room of 700 students, you could have heard a pin drop. It was silent, giving me the perfect atmosphere to continue and share the Gospel without the mic.
God moved, and changed lives that night.
It’s something that Karla and I will never forget. Sometimes we rely so much on making sure that the sound and video are working properly so that everything hits at the right time, that when something like that happens, it reminds us that no matter what I think is going on, God is bigger than this world. That when I feel like even from the stage things are going crazy, Jesus has overcome this world, and I can put my trust and cares on Him, and He will carry us through.
Nothing fires us up more than seeing lives changed for Christ. Pray with us, and for us that God will continue to open doors and give us new strategies to reach people with His message that this world so desperately needs.
Praying in Circles
So I picked up the book the circle maker. It seems a little offputting at first, but when you dig into it and realize the power in prayer it’s a little bit mind-blowing.
One of the coolest things I took away, is that God doesn’t want our vague or general prayers. He wants us to be specific. He wants us to be real with him. If we”re not, if we”re just praying in vague generalities, then it’s no big deal.
Karla and I are heading out on a pretty long trip to share the gospel through our ministry all across the country. And after reading I found that we have some pretty specific prayer request about God moving in lives of young people. One of the things we want to see is hundred’s come to know Christ. It’s through him and only through him, but that is the coolest part about it.
When I look back at the Old Testament and New Testament and see stories of people who are not ashamed but bold to pray and ask God for things, I see incredible miracles in their lives. It’s one of those things that we take for granted sometimes, Our God is still powerful God is still God of this university can do miracles in our lives if we ask if we allow him.
The author mentions circling Jericho, and the fact that sometimes we take our own plans into actions without God. But imagine what all the military strategist must’ve thought about people marching around the walls of Jericho. instead of invading with siege weapons, they marched silently around the city. They must’ve thought they were crazy, but they knew who was going to fight the battle. That’s what’s so awesome about following Christ we know who goes before us to fight our battles.
He has Overcome the World…
We know in scripture that things may be tough that this world may be too strong for us, but the best part is we know who has overcome the world.
Pray with us and for us as we seek to reach those who are lost around our nation.
Time to Eat
Eventually a baby has to stop drinking just milk, and be weaned by the mother. We know how incredibly bizarre it is when women get on Dr. Phil talking about nursing their 6 year old.
It’s a basic and simple thing that as we grow as humans, we require more than just milk for us to grow. If your entire diet consisted of just milk you would be so weak and feeble you couldn’t function. Our bodies require much more.
There is a reason the Bible compares spiritual teaching to food. Our spirit requires nourishment for us to grow. As youth pastors and pastors, and anyone else in a leadership position much like a shepherd, a requirement to nourish your flock. The problem that I have seen too many times over the past several years is that sometimes we are trying to ask people to grow and flourish on just spiritual milk. The problem comes that when they encounter their first sign of disagreement, they cave in to whatever the opposing side is because they have no muscle to hold them up and give them wisdom through the situation.
Now obviously there is another side to this same coin. I’ve also seen people trying to force feed Fois Gras and Filet Mignon to spiritual babies. Their systems can’t quite handle it, and it wrecks them.
They don’t need more best friends…trust me
This feeding of weak food is often glossed over by the “being your youth’s best friend” mentality. This is not a job description of a youth pastor. They don’t need someone to be their best friend. They need someone they can trust who they can go to, who will feed them a spiritual meal to help them to continue growing.
There is clearly a fine line to walk seeing that you preach to a mixed crowd of growth levels each Wednesday night. Here’s an idea though. Try instead of catering to the most new-born babies of the group and expecting that to be enough for the rest of your crowd, setting the bar a little higher.
The greatest problem that our future culture awaits is the entitlement mindset of students who have had the bar constantly lowered and lowered until we expect nothing but the worst from students and are proud and “tolerant” when we get those results. You students will never strive to go higher over the bar if it never gets raised.
Try it out tonight. Try raising the bar, upping the ante a little tonight in your message. An “everything is about love and fun” message isn’t going to cut it anymore. Fire up the grills and let’s get started serving these students some real spiritual food.
What do you find is the greatest hindrance of growth in your students?
Sound off in the comments below!
Time for round 2
Hopefully you got a chance to put my routine from Part 1 into action this past week. There is no gym membership required, and you don’t have to drive to the gym after a long day of work. Just grab a few copies of a systematic theology textbook, and you can get ripped from just lifting them…
Recap of the Basis
Sometimes it’s easier to just let the idea of working out go. Why am I even mentioning this on the blog? Our body is a temple. We are to give God our everything not just spiritually, but physically as well. I really believe that God wants us to be in good shape and honor him with our bodies. The problem is though, it’s truly hard to find time for a good workout that is both effective and time manageable. Which is why I have developed the following two day split that you can do in your church office during lunch.
Obviously diet plays a heavy part, but let’s focus on what you can do in your church office or hotel room today to build lean and strong muscles, while burning fat.
The idea of this plan is to have zero equipment, at max a kettle ball or two dumbbells, and a chin-up bar that can be easily stowed in your office or luggage.
Day 2. Shoulders-Biceps-Triceps
Before we dive in, let’s face it the Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps are the three muscle areas that really give that “built” look. Truthfully you can never have too big of shoulders, but biceps and triceps you want a lean but cut look that shows dense angular muscles. All of what I’m about to teach can be done in the office or hotel room.
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite blogs on building shoulders with just body weight.
This set of exercises also makes use of the extremely versatile portable chin up doorway bar that I mentioned last blog.
Bicep Ladder-3 Progressions till failure.
Easy but great exercise using your own body weight to build muscle (one of my favorite and most effective ways to make gains)
You are going to put a chair in front of your Chin up bar. Place your feet onto the chair at such an angle that you are nearly parallel to the ground (or as close as possible) grab the inner bars that are perpendicular to the chin up bar and begin to curl your biceps lifting your body to the bar. Do this until you can’t do another rep, then change your angle to make it easier, and repeat until you are almost vertical.
Here is a video tutorial that shows a little more clearly what to do. http://www.muscleandfitness.com/videos/mf-raw/raw-training/mf-raw-43-biceps-ladder
Kettle ball or Dumbbell curls. 5 sets 8-10 reps
For starters I recommend about 20 lbs, but do whatever feels good for you, but works you at the same time.
Sit on the edge of your office chair or desk and alternate curls slowly and controlled one at a time. Make sure you don’t swing them or use momentum, but let the muscle do all of the work.
A lot of people like to ignore the triceps (because they are harder to show when you flex I guess) They are the larger part of your arm muscles and boost the look of your biceps and shoulders all around.
Dips- 5 sets 15-20 reps
Position your chair a few feet from your desk and place your feet on it. Put your hands down flat about shoulder length apart on onto the flat surface of your desk or hotel bed. let your body sink down making your elbows a 90 degree angle, and then push yourself back up. Again the idea is slow and controlled not bouncy. Change the angle to get the maximum burn.
One arm Triceps Extension 5 sets-8-10 reps
Take your 25 lb kettle ball or dumbbell and hold it straight up above your head in one hand. Bend at the elbow until the weight touches your back and push the weight back up. Do with both arms alternating.
I promise you you will build muscle and get strong if you follow this.
Tomorrow wraps up this blog arc with cardio. Stay tuned and go work out!