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


Misconceptions

October 10, 2011

A  few days ago a question was posed to students in a secular student alliance club  at a local high school in my area.   The question was “What will it take for you to believe in the existence of a god?”  Answers begin to come it and last I checked there was 230 comments on the question.  As I read through the answers and discussion that followed I noticed how misconceptions about God, the Bible, and Church can keep many people from having a theistic worldview and from trusting in the Christian worldview.  Here’s what  I mean.

One student answered, “To believe in the existence of an all-powerful god with the general well-being of humans in mind as most universalizing religions do, I would have to see evidence of a world with less… ‘bad’…”  I believe this student has a misunderstanding of why the world is bad.  Perhaps he thinks God is not great enough to create people who are perfect, or that perhaps God is to blame for the bad in the world.  This is clearly a misunderstanding of the free will that God gives us as humans and the sinful nature that we are born with.  God doesn’t create evil, he only makes it possible.  This is a misunderstanding of human nature.

I have already covered the misconception about faith, it you missed it you can click here to read about it.

Another student says “For me to worship that entity in addition to believing it exists, I’d also need evidence of the power of prayer, heaven, or hell”  Among other things, this student is looking at the power of prayer as a possible proof.  What do most people think about prayer?  Is it like a magic genie where God grants you whatever you want?  Do we as Christians push this thought by our words and actions?  We know God answers prayer, but we know that He doesn’t always answer them how we want.  We also know what the Bible says that we pray we must pray in Jesus name and that we must align our requests with the holy scriptures.

A student that I have been talking with recently made this comment, “The holy scriptures that people study today are translations of the originals (which we don’t have) and as we all know, things are always lost in translation.”  he went on to add “the original documents were written centuries after the stories that they depict took place. Doesn’t this make you wonder about the validity of the words that you’re studying?”  This student has received some faulty information that I have seen before.  Unfortunately there are people who want to misrepresent the truth, on both sides of the debate I might add.

There were some great questions and comments made by the students, some of them I could see are genuinely searching God and welcomed any thoughts by the Christians that interacted with them.

So what do you do to clean up the misconceptions?  Here are a few suggestions.  Know what the truth is for yourself.  Do the research, look at the evidence, and be able to communicate with others the evidence in a way that is easy and makes sense.  You should also know what others are saying against the truth and be prepared to respond to it.  Winston Churchill once said “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”   For those who know the truth and yet try to cover it up or repress it, do the most damage.

It is amazing to me how many people have already made up their mind about  the validity of the Bible, but have never read more than a few chapters of it for themselves.  I do understand why some may have difficulties with it.  Miracles for example may be one reason.  In the near weeks we will look at the miracles within the Bible.  Maybe they even read through it once completely, and think that they have a good grasp on it, that might be more dangerous.  I’ve been reading and studying it for about 25 years now and I have much to learn of it myself.

As always questions, comments, and discussions welcome.


Building a Firm Case for Christianity

October 4, 2011

Once you know what people believe  you will know where to start building a firm case for a Christian worldview.   If you missed the Conversational apologetics post I suggest you read it.  It will help you discover what people believe, or what worldview they have.  As a disciple of Christ we all know that it is our responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus with those who ask us about our faith.   You may even have the desire to do so, and have been preparing for an opportunity to do so when the chance comes.  Where do you start?  Should you take a straight path to the cross?  Should you share Bible verses with them?  While it is never wrong to share the message of the cross with anyone, there may be a few other helpful points to consider as you began building your case for Christianity.

If you look at the illustration below, it shows you the progression that it takes to hold a Christian worldview.  You cannot hold a Christian worldview until you move from an atheist position.   Similarly, you cannot hold a Christian worldview, until  you know what type of theistic position you hold.  Do you believe in one God (monotheistic), more than one god (polytheistic), God is in everything (pantheistic), etc…  Likewise, you will have difficulty trying to convince someone that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if they don’t believe that a God or gods exist.  The same way someone will have difficulty with the claim that Jesus is God, if they don’t trust the Bible as a reliable source.

As you talk and ask questions to others about what they believe you will discover what they believe and where they are in the progression above.   Then you will know where to start with helping them along the way towards a Biblical worldview.  A friend of mine, Chris Sherrod, who teaches apologetics and has been published in several books uses an illustration of a set of pillars to show how the different evidence builds upon more evidence to provide a solid case for Christianity.

Building a Case for Christianity

Over the next weeks and months we will begin to break down the 4 pillars above and examine the evidence that God has given us.
As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


Why I believe

September 28, 2011

Why I BelieveStarting off from the gate I want to summarize why I believe, what I believe about the existence of God and my faith in the Christian God of the Bible, and His incarnate name given in the New Testament, Jesus.  This blog is meant to be a general one and I will spend the next months and years breaking it out piece by piece so that it can be swallowed and enjoyed bit by bit.

After studying many of the worldviews through books, articles, talking with people in person, I have concluded that my Christian world view is the most comprehensive, complete, and logical worldview of all the many different worldviews including atheism.  While it still holds some difficulties and challenges, it stands tall over all the other worldviews.  In no particular order, here is Why I Believe…

1. Faith.  Yes Faith, there is a dual definition of faith floating out in the sea of apologetics, in short a blind faith and a Biblical faith.  I will explain this in greater detail in a soon coming post, but in short I believe Christianity takes and uses both those types of faith. I am convinced that most people do not understand the true definition of Faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

2. Creation.  When I examine the world in which I live, I see evidence for a beginning of the universe, I see intelligence, and a mind behind the matter.  I have not found any answer in the material world that points to other trustworthy conclusions.

3. The Human Mind and Soul.  Why are we conscience? Why are we special?  Why do we have the ability to reason and think?  Why do we have  moral absolutes?  How do we judge what good and evil is?    In a world without God, these things are not possible.   The Bible describes the human condition perfectly.

4. The Bible.  The Bible makes the bold claim to be written  inspired word of God, but should we just except the Bible as God’s Word, because the Bible tells us so?  The Bible is a reliable book that is written in many different styles, by more than 40 authors, on 3 continents, over a period of about 1,500 years.  It is the most unique book ever written and for centuries it has stood the test of time and scrutiny by many.  When you compare the Bible to all other religious books, the Bible stands tall.

5. Historical Jesus.  Jesus was a real person, despite the constant attempts to blur the evidence.  But, Jesus made some bold claims about who He was and what His mission was about.  There are many sources, outside of the Bible that confirm the existence of Jesus and record some of the claims He made that are in the Bible.  Christians can even exclude even the evidence of the Bible and some of the other questionable secular documents and still make a case for Jesus existence, that is solid.

6. The Church. Yes, the church.  I realize that sometimes the church (people) can look pretty bad and can be rather disappointing, but the church (the people) has also made some great strides and impacts in the world in where we live.  Christians have been of the forefront leading the charge in several advancements for good in our world.  Slavery, Women’s rights, and even Science.

7. Religion.  Religion is mans attempt to come to God.  Religion shows how we have a yearning to get to God, just like we have a desire for food or procreation.  God gives us a desire that can be met by Him just like finding food and companionship.  Even though many people have wrongly been lead into believing in something that they haven’t researched, the desire for God is there.    I have always preferred the phrase, relationship over religion.

8.  The Empty Tomb.  Perhaps the greatest evidence for my belief.  The resurrection is key to Christianity.  Without it, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 , my faith is in dead.  When you examine the evidence for the resurrection you are not left with any other choices that make any sense at all.  Jesus made claims that would rise from the dead, something that  charlatan would not dare to do.

9. Personal Experience.   I realize that my own personal experience is not as strong a proof as some of the other items listed above.  For example, I could say that God answered a prayer request of mine, a Mormon could say the same thing.  Some personal experiences are subjective.  But, this doesn’t mean I should throw out the personal experience all together.

Let me stop you before you start to pick apart these individual items by saying that no single one of these proves anything.  No, I cannot in a denotative way point to God and say “see, there He is” like I might point out Bob who fixed my car or Larry who made me a sandwich.  (I will address why I think that this is perfectly how God designed it to be in a later post.)  Let me point out that each of these individual areas lead or point to a particular conclusion that God does exist, and that Jesus is who He claimed to be.  It is the sum of the conclusions that add up far better than any other worldview.  Biblical Christianity uses all the different methods of science, philosophy, reason, and reality to build a strong case for a Christian worldview.  No other worldview can claim that which Christianity does, they either fail in arguments in one or more areas by contradicting themselves or by not being able to produce the evidence that Christianity does.

If you are searching for answers, and want to start looking at different worldview, that is great, can I offer a suggestion?  Start with Christianity.  There is something about Jesus that most of the other major worldviews want to include him in their teaching.  To Muslims, Jesus was one of 28 prophets, In Hinduism Jesus is a good moral teacher, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons view Him as the Son of God, by which we can earn our salvation.  Jesus is the central feature in Christianity, not only because of his teachings but because of who He is, and claimed to be, God.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.  I am looking forward to the breakdown of these items that I have listed above.  In my next few posts I will give some basic information about apologetics and lay a foundation and order down for looking at the evidence piece by piece.


Jesus and March Madness

April 7, 2010

Well congratulations to Duke and UConn for their wins in the NCAA tournaments this year.  I enjoyed watching some of the games this year, especially Uconn and Mia Moore.  What they have set as far as records is nothing short of amazing.   Our Pastor, a former collegiate player, has shown me where the women’s skill sets and techniques are so much better than the mens.  After watching a few of the games I must agree with him.

How did you do, our your brackets this year?  Did you enter into any contests or competitions with friends?  A few of the other youth pastors and I had a group and had a good time talking smack to each other.  I did how I expected to do, not any where close to winning.

Every time March Madness roles around  I can’t help but to think about Jesus and the prophecies in the Bible.  There is a lesson to be learned in the odds and mathematics of both the NCAA tournament and with Jesus fulfilling prophecy  Here’s what I mean:

According to BookofOdds.com the odds of picking every single game in the tournament correctly are 1 to 35,360,000,000.  Playing the lottery has better odds in most cases.  This is why some of the companies, like Dr Pepper and Yahoo.com,  can afford to create excitement by offering a 1 Million Dollar prize if you enter and pick every single game correctly.  It’s all about the odds for them and the money involved.

Well now that brings us to Jesus and the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.  There are over 60 prophecies about this promised Messiah and details of His birth, birthplace, life, death, teachings, His nature, His resurrection, and events after burial, just to name a few.  All these are documented in Josh McDowell’s foundational book called “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” or His updated version “The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict”  (chapter 8, pages 164-202)   Josh McDowell was a atheist who set out to disprove Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but as he searched for answers he found out through his discoveries that indeed there was one true living God.

In McDowell’s reasearch he brings into the light the work of Peter Stoner in his book Science Speaks.  Stoner does a great job at the probability and statistical mathematics of Jesus and fulfilled prophecy.  Stoner took just 8 of the probabilities of the Jewish Messiah and figured out the odds at which Jesus or anyone would fulfill them.  He came up with a rather large number.  The odds were 1 in 10 to the 17 power.  That would be a 1 with 17 zero’s after it.  [1,00,000,000,000,000,000 ]  Stoner gives a great visual example of that number, because it is so big and hard for us to wrap our minds around.  Imagine that you fill the entire state of Texas with Silver Dollars 2 feet high.  You mark one Dollar with an “X” and then blindfold a man and have him take one guess and find the one dollar with a “X” on it.  Keep in mind that this is only 8 of the prophecies and not the entire lot.  Stoner’s research has been examined for years now and the mathematics in his work has been found to be solid.

Well, where do we go from here?  Let me just encourage you whether you are a believer or not, to take a closer look at the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  I am quiet sure you will see something different with Him than with any other religious leader in the world.  There is a difference with Jesus because He was who He claimed to be, God.

As always your comments, questions, snide remarks are welcome.


Where Did All The Dinosaurs Go?

March 23, 2010

Or rather what caused them to go away would be a better question.  A new report published today about a panel of 41 scientists from around the world says that a 9-mile wide asteroid was the cause of the extinction that took place 65 millions years ago.  You can read the article posted in a yahoo blog here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100304/sc_nm/us_dinosaurs_asteroid

As a 6 day creationist who doubts the earth is any more than 12,000 years old I just simply have to ask, “Where were you when you saw that asteroid hit?”  They say that science is based on observation and last time I checked the oldest people who are still living were only about 116 years old.  Maybe they found a stone tablet with a sentence scratched in it by a dinosaur; “Big Asteroid coming, 9 miles wide, we are all gonna die…..” (mocking the monty python and the Holy Grail scene where they explore the cave and read the writing on the wall)

It’s amazing to me that the theory of Evolution is still given as much weight as it is given even after the decades of research and non-existant proof that has yet to be found.  I know that we don’t know it all yet, and that goes for both sides evolution and creation, I don’t think we will ever know it all.  The Bible says in Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”  Plain and simple this says that there are some things that we will never know or understand in our life, but that those things are for only God to know.

 I am tired of the scientific community making new claims and findings that they infer from the smallest bit of evidence or an educated guess about live thousands of years ago.  They make the news for a day and then are gone into the forgotten library of tapes and archives never to be thought up again, until a liberal college professor assigns a paper on evolution.  To this date there have been no transitional fossils (fossils that show evolution in process for example changing from a lizard to a bird) found, Darwin himself made comment that in order for evolution to be true there would have to be transitional fossils.

The Nebraska Man Drawing

Similarly, the ape-man discoveries of Neanderthal man have been found to be rare examples of people with back and spine problems  like rickets disease for example.  The other findings such as Java man, Piltdown man, Peking Man, Nebraska man, and Lucy, all turned out to have similar stories or have found to be fake.  My favorite story was Nebraska Man found in 1922, that was believed to be undeniable proof by paleontologist was all derived on a single solitary tooth!   Drawings were made of this supposed link to the past.  However, findings didn’t turn out good because some time later Harold Cook found another identical tooth, but this one happened to be attached to the skull of an extinct wild pig!!

It was just a little over 500 years ago that people thought the world was flat, and Christopher Columbus was sailing off to his death in search of a new world.  Just 60+ years ago the Nazi government got together and thought it was OK to slaughter millions of Jews.  These are just some examples of science and “the majority” of where they were wrong, I have no doubt that there will be more claims and events  like these in the future also.

One of the reasons I believe that man has such a hard time giving up on the theory of evolution is that it is simply the only other choice to choose other than accepting the idea that the Bible is true and that God created it.  Are we as people that hard to give up control and admit that we are not the top of everything.  When we recognize the idea that God is the creator and sustainer of life and of the universe we live, we also have to entertain the fact that we are sinful imperfect people who need help and need a savior to help us out of the pit that we are in.  I know I am a sinner and that if Jesus had died for me on the cross I would be in a heap of trouble.

As for the question posed in my title, “Where did all the dinosaurs go?”  I have the answer for you and it is… I don’t know.  It could be an asteroid, a flood, and a few other things as far s I’m concerned, but  I don’t let it keep me up at night.  I look to the Bible and to my relationship with Jesus for answers and if I don’t have an answer to something I trust God that I don’t have to have all the answers.

In writing this blog I feel led to write 2 follow-up blogs about why I believe in the Biblical creation story and why I do not believe in evolution.  I will out line the proof that I have seen on why there is only one choice.


Let Scripture Speak

March 9, 2010

Sometimes, I just can’t find the words to say or to share just the way  I want.  I like to turn to the Bible and let it speak to me, speak for me.   I can’t do a better job than God.  Psalm 51 was a psalm of David.  He wrote it after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sins with Bathsheba and her husband.  He wrote it when he felt probably the lowest spiritually in his life.  No,  I didn’t do anything like David did, but I’m can identify with him and how he felt.  I long for forgiveness and a fresh start in life, ministry, and with my family.   I pray that I will never again find myself far away from God and that He will keep me on the straight and narrow path.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
       according to your unfailing love;
       according to your great compassion
       blot out my transgressions.

 2 Wash away all my iniquity
       and cleanse me from my sin.

 3 For I know my transgressions,
       and my sin is always before me.

 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
       and done what is evil in your sight,
       so that you are proved right when you speak
       and justified when you judge.

 5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
       sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts ;
       you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
       wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
       let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

 9 Hide your face from my sins
       and blot out all my iniquity.

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

 11 Do not cast me from your presence
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.

 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
       and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
       and sinners will turn back to you.

 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
       the God who saves me,
       and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

 15 O Lord, open my lips,
       and my mouth will declare your praise.

 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
       you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
       a broken and contrite heart,
       O God, you will not despise.

 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
       build up the walls of Jerusalem.

 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
       whole burnt offerings to delight you;
       then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Taken from the NIV Bible