Martin Luther King Jr. in 2017

January 16, 2017

martin-luter-king-jr_5003Over 53 years after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream speech…”  and we are celebrating another Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on the third Monday in January.  Although this year it does not seem as celebratory amidst the circumstances that our great nation faces.  The peaceful and loving leadership the Rev. King seems a little soured this year by the political unrest with John Lewis and over twenty democratic senators refusing to go the Trump inauguration this Friday as well as the shootings that have occurred this year in the name of racism.  There are some on both sides.

Who’s fault is it? That is a “loaded” question (yes that’s a gun pun).  I dare not even attempt to answer that question but I will say there is likely enough blame to go around for all of us. No judgment here, only God can judge a man’s heart and decided if there is room for improvement in that category.  Instead of placing blame and attempting to answer my own question I would like to pose a solution by someone that this student pastor admires and is a fan of all people, JESUS.

  1. Jesus interacted with and befriended all types of people.  He made friends and often ate with the “sinners and tax collectors” (R.I.P. IRS, you got your own level of “low” back in Jesus day). He saw many people that society rejected; Gentles, an adulterous woman, and a Samaritan woman who was working on husband number six.  Even those mixed up religious leaders who thought that they had all the answered and were very judgmental in some cases.  Even though he knew all about them, he still gave them the time of day.
  2. Jesus “turned the other cheek” when others said and did things to him.  Don’t miss this, this is big. Jesus taught and lived that when someone does you wrong, you don’t get revenge, you don’t return the favor back to them, you “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-42). A slap in the face to a Jewish person was the ultimate insult because mankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  “Love your enemies,” “pray for those who persecute you,” and his other teachings could really change the way we respond to others, if we would only follow Jesus’s teaching.

    Sadly, many would rather reply back to a blog post with anger, join a twitter war, or even worse shot and kill someone on the other side. As I drove home today from the store I heard about a shooting that took place in Miami at a celebration for Rev. King. Not to mention the police officers that have been targeted by revenge seeking individuals as well.  Sadly, this is a two-way street.

  3. Jesus died for one human race. All colors, ages, economic status, nationalities, and any other ways we may choose to divide ourselves. Reminder, we are all created in the image of God and we all bare the responsibility to value the life of all people. The very first words we have recorded from Jesus on the cross are “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Goals!  If Jesus can forgive the people who are killing, maybe we can muster up the same words to someone who calls us a name, misjudges us, or just outright doesn’t get it.

This doesn’t mean we have to all agree on everything and recognize other people’s opinions as correct, but we can act and speak responsibility toward one another in love and have good discussions in the way the Rev. King did following his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are not responsible for what others do or say, but we can control what we say and do and we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. Refuse to play the childish games and pick up the mud to toss back at someone else.  Think about what you post on social media and if their might be a better way to phrase your thoughts.  Pause, and wait until you calm down before you respond.  Be proactive instead of reactive.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below on how we can pull this human race back together.  We’ll give everyone a pass through today, January 16, but for the rest of the year work on what you will do and say to honor the One that Rev. King did.

 


Politics and Presuppositions

January 13, 2017

With one week left before the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president there has been much talk over his cabinet and staff appointees, like there always is with each administration. The senate and house are allowed to “grill” as I saw one headline this past week, each of the  people that Trump has chosen and determine if they will approve some of the people to serve.

In the midst of all the leaks and “fake news” that has been talked about, the presidential appointees have been given more discussion this year than perhaps I remember. Each president has the right to put in place his/her own people and usually does. They want like minded people that will support and offer a hand in completing the agenda that they believe will work best over the next four years. This sharing of a similar philosophy allows them to work more efficiently together.  Examples of these political philosophies could be raising or lowering taxes, regulations, job competition, and so on. These are the political presuppositions that each of these people have found to be trustworthy and rules to live and govern by.  If you need a definition of presupposition you can check this previous post.

Would it be smart for a president to  have someone on his cabinet or as an advisor that would offer a dissenting view or opinion that would offer advice to them?  I say yes, making the best decision would include having all the information available to make an informed decision. Sadly many will not do this. We only like to hear compliments or praises from those who agree with us.  Keep in mind we do not have to follow or take their advice, but at least give them an ear and listen with an open mind.  Ever read a post you disagreed with but were not approved to post a different opinion? Ever notice how the talk show host will mute the person on the phone when things start to get messy or out of control.

I have found this to be the case when having conversations with people over spiritual discussions or when using apologetics with people of other worldviews.  Each person comes to the discussion with certain presuppositions that they are not willing to let go of.  These may include things like; a naturalistic or supernatural belief, a belief in miracles, or a Reformed theology vs. a Wesleyan.

One thing I have found helpful before spending large amounts of time with someone is to ask if they will be open-minded and willing to consider certain basic ideas in the discussion you want to have.  If you are willing to talk with those understandings it will be less frustrating for both of you and you can remind the person again that they agreed to hear your case with an open mind.  Maybe this will help them, or you, understand the topic more completely and you may win them over to your side politically or in your religious worldview.


The Hunger Games and Christianity

April 23, 2012

I saw the hunger games last weekend on a date night with my wife and then again this weekend with my daughter.  Even though I haven’t read the book yet, I had seen the previews and it looked interesting and full of action.  It did not disappoint, and I enjoyed the movie both times.

WARNING: If you haven’t read the books or seen the movie yet I want to warn you that I might be sharing some spoiler information that would ruin your plans to enjoy it first.

The movie overall seemed to be making a statement about control and power in life.  It would be interesting to look up the author, Suzanne Collins and see what her views were about different subjects in politics, religion, and life.  I wonder what kind of statement she is attempting to make about our current culture.  I think there are several angles at which you can take the scenes and lines and interpret them a certain way.  You could make an argument for the voice of the media today, perhaps a political statement, you can draw a parallel between the different economic classes, and a few other topics I’m sure.  Today I want to address the Hunger Games and my Christian faith, since I relate everything to my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ why not relate a movie and see what conversations we can stir up.

The first thing I want to bring up is the general idea for the Hunger Games all together.  The idea that one day in our future we might find ourselves in some similar situation with a twisted goal of survival to the death as a reality game seems so foreign to me, but then I question, could we find ourselves as a culture doing something like that in the future?  Will Survivor go into its 50th season with a shocking new twist?  I hope not!  Pondering the Hunger Games I think that this type of behavior that we credit back to the gladiators of Rome, but I have to say that I don’t think we as humans, still value life much more than we did thousands of years ago.  Sure our war habits have changed into more modern practices, but the 20th century has been one of the bloodiest centuries since recorded history.  In David Berlinski’s book “The Devils Delusion” Berlinski spends 3 pages totalling up the amount of deaths in just the last century. 1    Dare I even mention the issue of abortion and that since the Roe. v Wade Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in 1973 there has been an estimated 50 million abortions in the US alone.   Yes, I went there.  The right to life is one of the single most important issues for many Christians today.  There is also something to be said about how the tributes are paraded in proudly before the masses weeks before their own deaths.    I’m curious, where do you think we are as a nation, a planet with the value of human life?

The second things that caught my eyes and ears was a conversation that Peeta has with Katniss the night before the games begin.   Petta says

“I don’t want them to change me in there  Turn me into something I’m not.  I’m sure I’ll kill just like everyone else… only I keep wishing I could think of a way to… show the Capital that they don’t own me, that I’m more than a piece in their Games.  If I’m gonna die, I still want to be me.” 2

As a Christian I often think that we are in a battle not to compromise what we hold to be TRUTH in life and no matter what the rest of the world does or deems acceptable we strive to live our life for God no matter what everyone else does.  There are so many scriptures that speak to this challenge.

Ezekiel, one of God’s prophets warns the city of Jerusalem that they have fallen into a compromise with the nations around them and because they have failed to follow the Lord, the Lord himself will be against them.  (Ezekiel 5:6-8)  Would we rather have it our way, like Burger King or have Almighty God against us?    There is the more-widely known Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” and a few chapters later we are told whom we are to conform to.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:29

Mind you that, I am not preaching this blog from some state of perfection.  The process to conform to the likeness of the Son, Jesus is a life-long journey.  One filled with many traps and snares that I have fallen into before.  I am a nobody, just trying to help anybody find the peace and joy in life on the way to eternal life with God.  I am thankful for the help that God gives me in the journey.  He doesn’t just leave me to my own.

1 Corinthians 10:13 the Bible promises us “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a wayout so that you can stand up under it.”

The last thing I will mention is this post is at the very beginning of the movie where the tributes are chosen in the Reaping.  All the teens that are of the appropriate age are herded to the Reaping where a boy and girl of each district are chosen by the people of the Capital.  Katniss has a sister named Primrose who was chosen to represent the 12th district and in a move of compassion, Katniss runs forward and volunteers to take her place.  According to the law, someone had to be chosen as a tribute from each district, and it was strictly enforced every year, for the past 75 years.  No doubt you can see the great parallel between mankind and God.  God is Holy and Just and must punish sin.  It is His law.  As Jesus stepped forth and left His Heavenly home to volunteer His own self to be willing to die for all of mankind.  I would encourage you to grab you Bible and read Philippians 2:3-11.  It is a great picture of what Jesus Christ did for us.

There are more things I would love to bring out, perhaps in another post later.  If you have some other thoughts relating the Hunger Games to the Christian worldview or your faith, please feel free to add them.  As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.

End Notes:

1. Berlinski, David – The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretenses, pages 22-24

2. Collins, Suzanne – The Hunger Games, pages 171-172


Preachy, Judgmental and Intolerant

April 20, 2012

This past week I have stirred the waters with some comments and questions on Facebook.   I realize that I may be asking for it when I post up a comment or question, but that’s okay with me, I enjoy the discussions and debates.  I don’t even mind being called names some times, as long as they leave my family and my mom out of the comments.  After thinking through some of the comments this past week, a few thoughts crossed my mind about the three words in the title above.

Preachy – When you and I share our opinions it can be offensive, especially when it comes to our faith and beliefs.  The Bible  talks about this in Hebrews 4:12 when it says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ”  The word “dividing” brings the idea of a forced separation, picking sides, or not staying in a neutral position.  While it may be comfortable in the middle and not rocking the boat sooner or later I believe we must put our oars and paddles in the water and choose a direction to go in.  The key to not being preachy is to give someone enough food for thought that they will take a step back and consider what you have said because it was carefully thought out and presented in a nice way.  1 Peter 3:15 commands us as Christians to “do this with gentleness and respect.”  Apologist Greg Koukl uses the phrase “to place a stone or pebble in someone’s shoe.”  If we are not kind or gentle, or respectful it’s as if we smash someone over the head with a boulder.  This will get you nowhere.

Some people don’t understand why Christians share their faith and see it as being pushy or preachy.  Christians don’t see it this way because of our beliefs that we are trying to help our fellow-man see the world through the lens of our worldview and that there is only one true worldview.  Let me use an illustration to help you understand.  As a parent, I teach my kids about the dangers in the world.  To not talk to strangers, to watch out for creepers and child predators because I love them and don’t want them to fall prey to those kinds of people.  In the same way, Christians believe that there is a literal Hell and that we want to do our best to help other people avoid that any way possible.  Mind you that we should respect others beliefs and not force anything on anyone, but it still is a responsibility to help others understand the Bible, the teachings of Christ, and what it takes to receive the gift of eternal life.

Judgmental – Judging is one of those “hot-button” words that brings up a lot of negative thoughts.  Many people including Christians have often quoted Matthew 7:1 that says “Do not judge” or the King James version reads “Judge not.”  If we continue to read after the first three words we see that the Bible is not saying that we cannot judge, it tells us that we will be judged with the same measure that we judge others by and in verse 5 “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ”  The judgment that takes place is to help someone else, not to kick them why they are down.  We must check our attitudes and motives when we speak of someone else.  Is it to build ourselves up or make ourselves look good?  One of the realities to being an associate pastor is that the scriptures preached/taught are not always popular or easy to swallow for everyone, including myself.  BUT, if I am to preach the whole Bible, I can’t take scissors and cut out the parts that I don’t like.  I must make judgments on things from time to time in relation to God’s word.  What things should I post and not post on Facebook/Twitter, How should I be responsible with my possessions, Who should I vote for, Why should I buy or not buy this CD?  Perhaps the key here is given advice when asked and not pushing it on someone who didn’t ask for it.

Intolerant – The last word, intolerant is another popular word used by people when their viewpoints are challenged.  It is a label that almost reaches the level of the word racism in our American culture.  Have you ever considered intolerant as a good word?  It can be.  Mother Teresa was intolerant of poverty and hunger.  The United States was intolerant of the Genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis in WWII.  Some others are intolerant of the mistreatment of animals or child abuse.  Being intolerant just means that you can’t stand for something or that you will not accept it.  Jesus was most intolerant of the religious leaders of His day and held little contempt for them and their actions that led the people away from the truth of God’s word.  Being tolerant doesn’t mean that you have to agree with someone elses viewpoint or opinion.  It just means that you respectful recognize to their own right to a different belief or opinion.  It also  doesn’t mean that they are right, or that you both are right about something.

As Christians we must realize and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in talking with others.  How should we approach them?  Should we build a relationship with them first to earn the right to speak into someones life?  How far should we “push” a topic?  We need to know when we need to stop and walk away for a bit.  Remember even Jesus was not accepted by all and in His own home town he instructed His followers to “wipe the dust off” their feet if they were not accepted.  (Luke 10:10-12)  This is something that is learned the more you interact with people and the better you know who you are talking with.  In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23 it says that “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and ” but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,”  We see  that some will not receive it well, some will look at the cross as foolish or a stumbling block.


It’s My Pleasure

November 18, 2011

I love Chic-Fil-A.  I love the food and the company and what they stand for.   Across from my church where I serve as student minister is a Chic-Fil- A that I visit at least once a week, not counting the stops for coffee in the morning.  Over the years I have gotten to know the people who work there and build some relationships with the people.  Our church even opens up the church for Colby and the leadership team to meet about every two weeks.   The church staff has nick-named the Chic-Fil-A across the street “The Birthing Place” because we also use their store to have meetings with people over a coke or lunch.  We share Christ with people outside the church walls and some are “born” into a new relationship with Christ there.  Well, if you have been to a Chic-Fil-A in the last 3-4 years you know that their signature saying is “It’s my pleasure!”  It was something the company started several years back and has stayed with them since.  It shows a willingness to serve the customer and it not just words from what I have witnessed over the years, it is something that they employees model.

One day a few weeks ago I was in my thinking mode and I had a thought about their phrase and what might be the impact of the customers because of it.  What is it saying to the customer?  I know that it is a way that Chi-Fil-A is trying to make the dinning experience more enjoyable and to make the customer want to come back.  They were not the first company to bring the idea to the public.  Years ago Burger King started their slogan “Have it your way.”  I remember a  time when businesses were not so forth coming with their service.  If you bought a milkshake and then your child spilled it on the floor you actually had to go buy another one yourself.  (GASP!!)  Imagine that?  You actually had to have a little personal responsibility.   It wasn’t long after one company started the extreme service that others had to follow, or be left behind.  What am I talking about?  In one word: Entitlement.

America has become a land of Entitlement.  Freedom has been translated into FREE!  People used to ask for things, now they demand them.  (Believe me I could tell you some stories!!)  Listening to the radio a few days ago, I heard the statistic that 47% of people in the United States don’t pay any federal taxes AND many of them get money from the government.  I could go back and give examples of the social welfare programs but I don’t want to bore you.  I will point out that while many people complain that their Social security is not much to live on, most of them will receive multiple times more than they paid into it over the years.  It’s not just the senior adults to.  We have raised a generation of young people who do not appreciate what they do have.  The year I graduated high school Georgia started a Lottery and a college scholarship program called HOPE.  If you had a 3.0 or higher GPA the state would pay 100% of your college tuition.  Earlier this year the state had to cut back on the moneys they were giving to keep the program alive.  They had to cut the 100% to 93%.  If your GPA was 3.8 or higher you still got 100% from the state.   People protested in front of the capital, they were interviewed by TV and Radio and you would have thought that they had closed all the colleges up and their was no way they could go to college now.

Two months ago another chapter in the Entitlement book was being written, this chapter is called Occupy Wall Street. Groups of people gathered on Wall Street to protest cooperate greed, and a few hundred other things they didn’t agree with.  Soon the movement spread throughout cities around America as they began to occupy parks in cities everywhere.   The news coverage has not been dull when occupy Wall Street comes up.  There have been a number of actions that I won’t get into except to name a few like, using the bathroom on an American flag and a police car, public nudity, public sex, violence and confrontations with police around the different cities, looting, rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and at this point one death in Oakland, CA.   I’ve only just scratched the surface with the list above.

So who are these people?  According to a survey of Zuccotti Park protesters by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1,619 web respondents, 2/3 were younger than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. 27.3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2.4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest, 70%, called themselves independents.

On Oct. 10 and 11, the polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland interviewed nearly 200 protesters. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, 98% would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and 31% would support violence to advance their agenda. Most are employed; 15% are unemployed. Most had supported Obama; now they are evenly divided. 65% say government has a responsibility to guarantee access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement. They support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary.

Radio talk show host Neil Bortz among others has pointed out that the vast majority of these OWS protesters are young and have not had a taste of the real world.  “They have been told” ” Neil continues “that they are all winners, and no one is a loser all their life.  There are no soccer game lossers, because we can’t afford to hurt their self-esteem.  Then when they get out of school and into the real world they revolt because nothing they have been told in life is true.”  He adds that they all have lap tops, smart phones, and the latest gadgets, but yet they claim they are poor.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here.  We could talk about the prospective from which the “me” generation and how that if you live in America you are among the top 7 percent richest in the world.  They could sell their laptops and smart phones and help feed a family for a year in another country.  We could talk about the messy morality that this is an example of.  How the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind is running wild because people have abandoned the church and godly principles.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 says ” 1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”  Sounds like it was written yesterday doesn’t it?

So how do you fight back against this Entitlement mentality?  Start by changing the way you personally entitle people around you.  It’s good to give someone something, but it’s even better to teach them to provide something for themselves.   It all starts with one.  Jesus told us that we will always have the poor with us on the earth, but if we start teaching people how to fish rather than giving them a fish the situation will turn around again.  Those that have can help take care of the smaller amount of those who really need help.   If you make a mistake, own up to it, be personally responsible for your own actions.  Don’t count on someone else picking up the tab for your mistake.  Vote, put people in office that will help control the growing problem of entitlement.   There are ways that we can slowly began to pull back on the throttle of entitlement that will still allow those that are receiving it now to ween themselves off part of what they get.

If you have any more suggestions or ideas please feel free to leave a comment.  As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


How We Got Here

November 4, 2011

In a conversation recently with an older friend I mentioned that I had been to a Secular Student Alliance Club at a local high school to talk about my faith, and the name of the club begged the question for her, “What is a Secular Student Alliance Club?”  I gave a brief explanation of the club and the kinds of topics that they discuss.  I made the generalization that most of the students in the club don’t hold a theistic position, most are atheist or skeptical.   The friend of mine, responded with a question  “They actually have a club like that in the high school?”  A man listening to our conversation added that they have the right to do that, if a Christian club has the same right to meet.  I agreed with the man and that led to a discussion about the actual statements in the constitution and other ideas like “the separation of church and state” and what it actually meant.  The point I want to focus the rest of the post on what my friend said in wrapping up the conversation.  Being a senior adult, with a “few” years of experience behind her, she asked the rhetorical question,  “How did we get here?”

There are 3 terms that are central keys to the change that American has gone through over the last 50 years.   Secularization, Pluralism, and Privatization.  Each of these ideas have had a large impact of the beliefs, practices, and actions that play out in America.

Secularization is the process of  removing all aspects of God and religion from the public life through avenues like schools, businesses, courthouses, and monuments.  Groups like the ACLU and others make it their number one goal to wipe God out of  all aspects from American culture and history.   In a nation that is predominantly Christian, the few and small groups that are offended by the idea of God can slowly chip away at the Christian foundations that were set early in our countries history.  With God moving out of the picture in American culture this creates a bold new exercise of morality by people who have no ultimate God to answer to.  If God is out of the picture, they can do whatever they want, after all, no one is watching over us.  Secularization pushes the ceiling on how far is too far, by creating an atmosphere of no shame in our world.  With the absence of shame nothing is too far, nothing is taboo.

Pluralism is where you have a wide variety of choices.  “Only in America” as Ravi Zacharias continues “can you find an Indian man selling kosher tacos in a store in Los Angeles”  Ravi goes on to explain that Pluralism in foods, or styles of clothes, and other areas in not bad, bud pluralism with respect to truth and worldviews is dangerous.   When you begin to look at truth as relative, you are taking truth from the objective reality and it becomes watered-down.  In a recent discussion with some high school students they could not grasp the idea that truth is objective and that there can only be one correct worldview.  I also experienced this past summer with some Christians in an apologetics class during camp.   The idea of relative truth has crept into our culture despite the fact that it doesn’t make sense or it falls apart internally.

Privatization is the idea that you can believe what you want to believe so long as you keep it to yourself and don’t bring your beliefs out into the public or life and share them with others.  In America you are free to believe and practice what you wish, but the new atheists and the secularists will go crazy if you dare insist that you actually live by what you believe and speak about your beliefs in a public way, not to mention if you hold a public office and make decisions based on your beliefs.  I have noticed within privatization there is a bias by which many secular thinkers abide.  They tell you that you cannot express your religious views and opinions, but at the same time they can advance their views and opinions without the same scrutiny.  Think about how it affects a person with a worldview who has to constantly separate their personal and public worldviews and how it creates a schizophrenic life.  Imagine that I tell my wife, I love her with all my heart, but why we are out in public I’m not going to acknowledge her, show any affection towards her, or in any way make any decisions based around her.  I hope you see the problems that would cause in my relationship with her.  The same is true of Christians and their relationship with God.  It is insane to think that Christians should keep their faith private.

Desensitization is the key here with these three aspects.  It happens slowly over time, so slow you don’t notice it until you wake up and see how far things have changed and it’s too late.  I like to use the example of a frog in a pot of water when I talk to teens about slowly falling away from their relationship with God.  Imagine you have a frog and a hot-pot of water.  You drop the frog in the water and he will hop right back out as soon as he lands in the water.  If you take the same from and place it in a pot of water and slowly turn the heat up over time the frog will sit in the pot and not jump out.  The frog will eventually die.  The reason being that the frog’s body will match the temperature of the water and not realize that it is too late.  In the same way we need to be aware of the constant changing temperature of the world around us.  Don’t let the little things go by without noticing how they change the environment around us slowly over time.

So what can you do as a Christian?  How can you fight back against the Secularization, Privatization, and Pluralistic world?  Here are a few ideas.  First, do your best to represent God and your Christian values in both private and public.  Your consistency will help yourself and encourage others.  Secondly, get a good grasp on truth and why it matters.  Don’t let the wave of relativism knock you down.  Be ready to defend object moral truths with examples and logical reasons.  Lastly, get involved in a social issue of the day.  It should be something you feel strong about and support from your worldview.  Items like defending traditional marriage, educating people on abortion and supporting groups that hold the Christian worldview.   The worst thing you could do is nothing, being silent when others speak up allows them to get their way without a fight.

As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


Conversations with High School Students

October 27, 2011

Yesterday I went to a local high school in the area to hangout with some students after school.  These students are your typical students in some aspects but not in all aspects.  These 60+ students are members of the Secular Student Alliance Club at Parkview High.  These students meet every other week to discuss topics ranging from the existence of God , to the possibility of morals without God to other issues like animal rights and other social issues.  If you are new to apologetics and are not familiar with the term “Secular” it just means activities and attitudes that do not have a religious or spiritual basis.  The students members hold a variety of different beliefs or positions.  Some are atheist,  some are agnostic,  many of them are might label themselves as skeptical or searching, and there was a Christian in the group also.

I meet them about a year ago through Michael, one of the students in my student ministry, at the church where I am student pastor.  Michael had been going to the Secular Student Alliance Club each week to talk and share his Christian beliefs with the students and to jump in to the debates and discussions they had each week.  I really admire Michael for doing this, I don’t think I would have done that at his age if our school had a SSA Club like they do.  (We had to fight to even have the right to a Christian Club when I went to South Gwinnett High School 20 years ago.)  The SSA club invited me to speak a few times last school year thanks to the invite from Michael.  After Michael has graduated and gone to college I have stay in contact with the students and we talk weekly through Facebook about different subjects.

Let me first break some common misconceptions about the students in the SSA club.  They are nice, polite, smart, and funny.   Just like the average teen.  Many of them are active in community doing things to take care of environment.  A few weeks ago they held a can drive to collect food items for a local food bank in the area.  There are certain feelings that are associated or arise when you mention the word “atheist” or “skeptic”, or even “Christian” for that matter.  I think these feelings come from a past where perception was different.  Any time I have gone to talk with them I have always felt at ease and comfortable with talking to them.

Part of the reason I wanted to write this blog was to help you break down those areas of misconception and also to get a feel of what is like to have conversations with students like these or anyone else for that matter.  Yesterday I went to the meeting not really knowing what I might talk about.  I usually have an outline and prepared talk, but yesterday I just felt like being very low-key and open to where the conversation may go.  I had been in some intense discussions recently online with some of them and I really felt it was important to just be a good listener this time.  I admit, I think I have become addicted to the feeling of being in the moment with apologetic discussions.  Not knowing what questions may come up and not having all the answers, I know the best thing I can do is offer up a quick prayer for help and rely on the Holy Spirit to help me give an answer that is Biblical and is easy to understand.

As the meeting started they allowed me to open with a small discussion about some things that I have noticed through the online conversations as misunderstandings about the Christian worldview.  I talked about Blind faith vs. a Biblical Faith.  Biblical faith is based on evidence just as scientists make thesis and hypothesis based on evidence in science.   From there the conversation morphed into the different types of knowledge that we can obtain.

After I finished talking I opened it up for anybody ask questions.  They asked some really good questions that I could tell that they really wanted to know the answer to.  Some were easy to answer, some questions I had to ask a question in return to get some clarification over, and some I had to pause and think a bit before responding.  We were discussing free will, and one student asked a good question, that caught me off guard, one I had never heard before.  A student asked me if God took part of Mary’s free will when He chose her to be the mother of Jesus and to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  After a brief pause, and another silent prayer for some help from God I thought and went back to the story.  We know from the text that Mary was already a follower of Jehovah God and like most Christians today, we want God’s will to be our own will.  I made a personal reference to my life to back up the thought.  The other Christian in the room, the student,  chimed in and said that Mary still had a choice of whether to keep the baby or to accept God’s desire for her life.   In the text it says that she had been chosen by God, but it didn’t say that she was already pregnant yet.   That was an insightful question.  We ended the meeting talking about Homosexuality a bit and then finished talking about worldviews and how that there can only be one right worldview.  They can’t all be right.

One of the students I have been talking with for the last several weeks was asking a lot of questions about the Bible and I asked him if he had a Bible.  He did not have one so I asked if  I could give him one.  He agreed and took it from me.   I am looking forward to going back soon, if not to talk, but perhaps only to listen and sit in on their discussions and learn what kinds of things that they deal with and question.  One thing that I can say about this group oh high school students is that they really want to know what they believe and why.  They are looking for truth and answers for life and I applaud their thirst for knowledge and truth.  I would wish that many Christians would also have the same type of fire that these high school students do.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.