The Debate

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I recently watched a couple of debates between Bill Maher and several leading Christian apologists including Bill O’Reilly and Kurt Cameron. Within these debates I noticed a startling reality, Christians cannot defend their beliefs! I know it may not come as a surprise to some, but I was taken by this. Sure, I may be naive and I obviously don’t pay much attention to Bill O’Reilly or Kurt Cameron when it comes to theological perspective; however, I never imagined these so-called “Christian leaders” stumbling around questions of morality, creationism and seemingly contradictory elements of scripture. As I watched this fiasco unfold I realized that Christianity is in trouble. Not because of these inept attempts at defending the Bible, but within the confines of modern Christianity the question must be raised, “why do we believe the Bible?”

Is the Bible really some make believe fairy tale as Maher would suggest? Is it simply the uneducated justification to the mystery of life? Are we really victims of the greatest farce in human history? How do you explain subjects like the law of Moses? Genocide? What about God’s plan of separation? Or issues of homosexuality? What about scriptures that appear to contradict themselves?

If your in the majority of Christian circles today you might be scratching your head as you read these questions. Yet these are the very questions atheist and agnostics present on a daily basis. Intellectualism is the focal point of their argument, they argue belief in supernatural elements defy human reasoning and rationale. Where do we begin with this attack? First of all let’s begin by discussing the validity of the Holy Bible.

As we begin to try and make sense of the complexity of the scriptures we must understand that the Bible, although written by men, is the inspired word of God.

1 Peter 1:20-21 CEB

“Most important, you must know that no prophecy of the scripture represents the prophet’s own understanding of things, because no prophecy ever came by human will. Instead, men and women led by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

2 Timothy 3:16 CEB

“Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”

Both Paul and Peter, the two patriarchs of the New Testament church made great emphasis that the Bible was God’s inspired word! We don’t shy away from the fact that ALL SCRIPTURE was given BY INSPIRATION OF GOD! Not just the good ones, not just the easy ones to defend but ALL SCRIPTURE! If God put it in His word there is a reason it is there! It is our responsibility to understand why.

So you can prove that your theology believes the Bible to the inspired word of God? Big deal, I don’t believe in the Bible or God. Here’s where the debate intensifies! How do we defend our “beliefs” to an all out atheist? The arguments usually revolve around two theories; creationism and evolution. Many well renown atheist, Maher included, will conclude that they have no idea how the world came to fruition, but they (atheist) attest that they follow after intelligent evidence and common sense, rather than believing in some supernatural fairytale.

Since the beginning of time man has attempted to make sense of “the mystery of life”. Using the limited education and understanding man had, theories about mythical gods were depicted to try and explain the phenomena of life. A plethora of “gods” have been created by the mind of man; Zeus, Thor, the Greek gods of nature, Isis, Horus, Osiris, pagan idolatry etc… Many atheist will point to these feeble “gods” as a sign that Jesus was nothing more than a man, and that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is also a fabrication.

But there is too much evidence to the contrary!

Jeremiah 10:12 CEB

“But God made the earth by His might; He shaped the world by His wisdom crafted the skies by His knowledge.”

Psalm 19:1-3 KJV

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

Romans 1:20 CEB

“Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities-God’s eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So humans are without excuse.”

Science means knowledge, and true science always agrees with the observable evidence. Scientific research continues to unfold the manifold wonders and majesty of our universe. Interestingly, there is one book that foretold all of this… The Bible!

The Bible is inspired by the creator; so it makes sense that life’s ultimate questions would be found within it’s pages. Study the days of Christopher Columbus, not only did they believe the earth was flat, but that the Atlantic Ocean possessed creatures big enough to devour a whole ship. They also believed a myth about the earth resting on the shell of a turtle or an elephant (I can’t make this stuff up). The Bible however explicitly answers this question.

Isaiah 40:22 KJV

“It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…”

Job 26:7 KJV

“He… hangeth the earth upon nothing…”

Creation is made of particles, indiscernible to our eyes. However it wasn’t until the 19th century that they discovered that all visible matter consisted of invisible elements. Yet scripture teaches…

Hebrews 11:3 KJV

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

Another example of scriptures uncanny ability to predict things that man would only discover recently is the mountains at the floor of the ocean. It is only within the last century that we have discovered massive mountain rages under the sea.

Jonah 2:5-6 KJV

“The waters compassed me about, even the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains…”

If Christianity were simply unintelligent calculations of why we’re here, then explain the accuracy in which scripture explains scientific “revelations”. It becomes apparent that the Bible knew these scientific breakthroughs well before scientists discovered them.

The reality is it requires MORE faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian! The Webster’s definition of the word atheism, is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. It is a self appointed position that there are no deities. The stance of educated atheists is that “the burden of proof lies on religion”. In other words they demand Christianity, or all other religions of the world for that matter, to validate the existence of a deity. That’s fine, scripture in fact teaches this very principle, “prove all things; hold fast that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) However, If science is the basis of their belief system then the burden of proof lies heavily on their shoulders. Yet to date, there has been no scientific evidence that would validate theories of evolution; adaptation maybe, but not evolution.

The question then is do I put my faith in an assumption or human reasoning? Or, do I trust the myriad of Biblical treasures that science has later verified as truth? The reality is Christianity can not be “proven” through intellect, rather Christianity must be experienced. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “…he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” It does require faith in God to experience God, but let it be clear, He IS a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him!

Regardless of your theological views, this truth will come to all men. Whether you choose to reject it as a fantasy, or whether you embrace it as truth is up to you.

 

The True Definition of Leadership

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Leadership. That word possesses a million thoughts in a second. What is leadership? Is it an office? Is it a position? Many people wear labels of leadership who possess no leadership qualities. I have witnessed men in leadership do more damage than good, and I have watched men become leaders over a workplace and totally disintegrate the morale of his employees. There is a misguided mentality regarding leadership; leadership is not built around authority. Leadership can not be viewed as a monarchy! Many people in leadership will attempt to prove their leadership abilities by flexing their muscles. Perhaps Ken Blanchard identified true leadership when he stated “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

There is a commission within the call of leadership to be more than a figure of authority.

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kenblancha307860.html#mUSo5v8tRuh76ddd.99
The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kenblancha307860.html#mUSo5v8tRuh76ddd.99

“Leadership is influence.”

-John Maxwell

Influence. What is influence? According to the online dictionary influence simply means; the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Influence simply is the ability to develop people. Much is made of the great leaders of scripture, and I could write an extensive blog chronicling the lives of Moses and David to name a few. However I want to focus on what I feel to be the pressing need in leadership today, influence.

In the book of Esther we find a broke young girl named Hadassah. Orphaned after a tragedy, Mordecai, her uncle, brings her into his home. Hadassah isn’t given much hope to succeed, and the unfortunate reality of our day is this girl would quickly be labeled and isolated. Her name literally meant myrtle tree. Myrtle trees are unique, they are able to grow in stony soil, they blossom in the wilderness and in deserts. Her parents named her Hadassah knowing this girl would endure rocky moments. But even in the rocky terrain she would still grow!

But as Mordecai begins to invest in this girl, he realizes that her identity is in her name! Yes it validated her uncanny strength to overcome and persevere, but it also imprisoned her to her past! And there are many people who sit on a pew every Sunday who have overcome perilous upbringings, and have persevered through tragedy. But their life is defined by their past. Regardless of how much I overcome, I’m still panted in rocky soil! I may have grown when nobody believed I would, I may have blossomed when everyone else wrote me off, but the truth is I’m still in the wilderness!

So Mordecai being the man God entrusted to lead this fragile young child makes a bold decision to change her name. HE told her you will no longer be called Hadassah, but your name will now be Esther! What Mordecai was saying here is crucial for every leader to grasp.

Hadassah, you are rare. You’ve come so far since I found you! You’ve more than handled adversity, you’ve prospered when others would’ve have shriveled and died. I applaud your courage for even attempting to make something of your life after all you’ve been through. But Hadassah the time has come to move on with your life! Don’t lose your strength and don’t lose your courage! But let’s change your perspective!

You see every time She heard her name, Hadassah, she was reminded of the past. So Mordecai said you will no longer be identified as a myrtle tree, but you will be identified as Esther, which means a star! You’ve made it a long way! But now it’s time to get your eyes off of your past and to focus your passion to your future!

Without a “leader” in her life Hadassah would’ve remained the girl who overcame tragedy! But because a man of influence believed in her, Esther became Queen!

Be a leader of influence in your world!

The Spiritual Dynamics of Prevailing Prayer

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Revelations 12:1-11

I have always slightly taken this particular passage of scripture our of context by assuming this passage was referring to us. Let me preface my remarks by adding, I DO believe WE overcome by the blood, and I DO believe WE overcome by the word of OUR testimony! However, it dawned on me while reading this passage recently that this verse was in reference to the “war in heaven” and it is regarding the successful fight of Michael and his angels over the dragon and his.

I began to realize that the events of Revelations chapter 12 were a spiritual picture of spiritual warfare. The woman in verse 1 is a spiritual representation of the church, the fact that she’s with child signifies that the church is on the brink of revival! But as wonderful as that picture is, scripture reminds us rather quickly that there is a dragon, whose mission is to destroy the baby. As the scenes of chapter 12 unfold, we see the war between righteous angels and fallen angels. The ultimate battle between good and evil. And scripture emphatically declares that the dragon and his angels “prevailed not…”!

I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful to be a part of a church that’s built on the rock! When Jesus began to design a church, he didn’t leave us out here vulnerable to the attacks of Hell; but he said “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”! No matter how hard Hell fights, and regardless of what venue or avenue Hell sends its regime, the gates of Hell shall not prevail!

Vs 11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony…”

They overcame… In spite of the odds, they overcame! In spite of the enemy, they overcame! We don’t have to live in fear over our enemy, God designed a prevailing church! So how do WE conform this model of prevailing power into our lives? I became intrigued by the mere notion that I can live in this realm of victory!

As I realized what I was reading my first thoughts were, “the blood works for angels?” Which was quickly followed by “How do angels testify?” As I began to immerse myself into this passage I felt the direction of the spirit leading me, “If you want to understand how the blood works for angels, you first need to understand what the word of testimony really means.”

So I began to dig… The word testimony in Greek is martyrha (pronounced martooree-a), meaning to testify as an old testament prophet. It means to witness what has NOT yet been seen. It’s root word, many of us are familiar with, is the word martyr (pronounced martoor) which means to witness, as in a legal procedure; to testify of what you HAVE seen.

So I quickly gathered that there are two significant dynamics to the testimony of angels. When the angels began to testify they were speaking of what God HAS done, and then they would testify of what God WILL do!

As I began to study this Greek word for testimony, I discovered that this word was used in a very “apostolic” passage in Acts 1:8. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost shall come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses…” In other words Jesus is telling them that He will empowered His church with a prophetic voice to “testify” in the spirit!

Prevailing prayer requires faith! We will never overcome the devil until we learn the power of prevailing prayer!

Let’s take this a step farther, The Apostle Paul told Timothy that he would that men would pray everywhere lifting up holy hands. How do we pray with holy hands? I thought prayer was the means by which we attained holy hands? As I pondered these thoughts the Lord began to take me on a spiritual journey. He led me to the tabernacle…

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…And I saw what Paul was saying! The Tabernacle, as you can see, was built with a gate, an outer court, a holy place and the holiest of holies. As the priest would enter the gate he would immediately find a brazen altar. Here the priest would make sacrifice before proceeding to the outer courts where he would wash in the brazen lavar. He would then perform his ceremonial duties in the holy place, but right before he ventured into the holiest of all the priest would find a golden altar. At this altar the priest would make sacrifice for the people and pour the blood to the mercy seat. And I realized that there was sacrifice performed twice before the ceremony was complete.

As the priest would sacrifice the Bible says in Leviticus 4:6 that the anointed priest would dip his fingers in the blood and sprinkle it upon the horns of the altar 7 times. This would happen twice, once at the gate and once before the veil. After the sprinkling of blood was complete the priest would then lift his (holy) hands towards heaven and begin to thank God for the blood!

When I saw this suddenly I began to hear the spirit tell me, “Perhaps that’s what the Psalmist meant when he said ‘Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and enter his courts with praise’…”

You will never truly entertain His presence in praise, if you don’t first stop at the gate and begin to thank Him for the blood!

When Paul said to pray with holy hands, what he was saying is you’ve got to get this right! There is an order of prayer! Before you ask Him for one thing, even before you praise His name; stop at the gates of the Tabernacle, come in contact with the sacrifice of your savior, and begin to thank Him for the blood!

Psalm 100:4 poses a very interesting question, how do we thank God twice? The Psalmist said, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His name.” The answer is simple we do thank Him twice! We enter into His gates thanking Him for what the blood has already done, only then can we truly praise Him in His courts. But the journey must continue to the second altar, where we begin to testify of what the blood is about to do!

I pray you can make the connection in the spirit! I want you to prevail! But I realized that the blood of the lamb is powerless until somebody opens up their mouths and testifies in the Holy Ghost!

I imagine the scene of Revelations 12 differently now, I can hear the “word of testimony” sounding something like this… “Devil let me remind you of what God has already done… NOW let me testify of the the Lord is about to do!” And they overcame him, by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony!

There can be victory in your life, if you will learn to apply the dynamic power of prevailing prayer. I’ve been empowered to “testify”! If you will apply these principles, your reward may sound a little like this…

Revelations 12:10

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, NOW is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.