Yielding to Relationship

In this final part of our series, Reasons to Believe, we take a turn.  We are still talking about reasons to believe, but this one is different from all the rest.  At the end of the day, a person can listen to solid answers to all of their objections to the life of Christ and still not be willing to make Him their Lord.  The reason for this is that their primary objection is not logical, but relational.  This is last and most important hurdle to overcome.  When someone becomes a follower of Jesus, the most powerful reason they do so is a relationship.  Keep reading for more.

 

Yielding to Relationship

There was once a man who hated Christians.  He hated them.   He hated everything they stood for.  He hated the things they believed.  He hated the impact they were having on his culture.  There was nothing about them he liked.  It was so bad that he dreamed about hurting them.  He thought up ways he could harass them and interrupt their activities and keep them from accomplishing their goals…all within the means of the law of course.  Now, you might be thinking, “Well that guy was dumb.  It doesn’t really do any good to focus that much effort on hating a group of people.  What was his deal with religion anyway?”  But, religion wasn’t his problem.  Christians were.  He had no problems with religion.  In fact, he was a very religious guy.  He just didn’t like Christians.  Furthermore, he was no dummy.  Actually, he was brilliant.  He had gone to the best schools and studied under the best teachers.  He was routinely at the top of his class.  The level of success he had attained for his age was simply astounding.  When peers looked at him they routinely saw big things in his future.  This guy was leadership material.  There were few positions which were going to be off-limits to him.  He merely had to apply himself in the relevant directions.  With his big brain, then, and as committed as he was to the way he saw the world working, he knew all the reasons Christians and their Christianity could and should be rejected.  He could have given you a list with sources.  He had a reason for every argument.  But then, something unexpected happened.  And that something was this: he actually met Jesus.  Not literally met, of course, but he encountered Jesus in a personal, powerful way.  And all his reasons went out the window.  Instead of reasons, he now had a relationship. Read the rest…

An Absentee God

In this second-to-last part of our series, Reasons to Believe, we tackled what is perhaps the stiffest challenge to the Christian faith ever recorded: The problem of evil.  How do we who confess our belief in a God who is good account for all the evil in the world?  That’s perhaps a bigger question than we could answer over the course of a single sermon.  What we can do is talk about how to respond to those who are struggling with it personally.  That is exactly what we wrestled with in this message.  Keep reading to see what we discovered.

An Absentee God

I read a story a couple of weeks ago about a serial killer in Russia.  The man was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison for raping and murdering 22 women.  Recently he confessed to additional murders for which he had not been previously convicted.  Fifty-nine additional murders to be precise.  If you’re into math, that makes 81 people—mostly women—whom this monster raped, likely tortured, and murdered.  He was a police officer the whole time.  When he was off-duty, he would offer to give young women walking on the side of the road a lift home.  Over a span of more than twenty years, eighty-one times somebody’s daughter disappeared without any apparent trace.  Let’s just go ahead and ask the hard question: How, in a world presided over by a God whose goodness is affirmed over and over again by billions of His followers, is something like this allowed to go on for so long without recourse? Read the rest…

A Fount of Injustice?

One of the challenges many critics of the church have used to write it off is the fact that we have some skeletons in our closet.  There have been several times in the last 2,000 years when the church got its mission not just wrong, but devastatingly so.  Still, are things really as bad as our critics allege?  A sharper look at history suggests perhaps not.  In this fourth part of our series, Reasons to Believe, we take a look at the church’s supposed dark past and discover that there may be a good deal more light there than most folks might think.  Read on for more.

A Fount of Injustice?

There is a story about the interactions between a powerful institution and a particular scientist from the 17th century that has come to define much about how many people view the church today.  The institution was the Roman Catholic Church.  The scientist was a man named Galileo Galilei.  Galileo, as the story usually goes, by carefully following the scientific method, discovered that the sun does not revolve around the earth as was widely believed in his day.  Instead, the truth is the exact reverse: the earth revolves around the sun.  For espousing this scientific fact which violated not only their false explanations of how the universe worked, but also the theological explanations undergirding them, the Church set out on a campaign to persecute this courageous scientist into silence.  When this didn’t work, Galileo was excommunicated—a social death sentence in that day—and placed under arrest.  He spent the remaining years of his life in prison where he died a martyr for the cause of science. Read the rest…

A Hellish Problem

In this third part of our Reasons to Believe series, we spent yesterday morning wrestling with one of the more challenging doctrines of orthodox Christianity: The doctrine of Hell.  In popular imagining for centuries, the idea of Hell has been one of fiery agony stretching on into eternity.  In the modern mind, shaped as it is by tolerance and pluralism, this idea presents a huge impediment to the faith.  We are left with two choices: Reshape the doctrine to fit modern mores, or try to understand it better to see if it doesn’t present us with a stumbling block at all, but rather a reason to believe.  In what follows we aimed for the latter.  Thanks for reading and listening.

 

A Hellish Problem

Well, this morning as we continue our series, Reasons to Believe, we are taking on a challenge.  We’ve already confronted head-on the objections that truth can’t really be known and that the Bible is untrustworthy in terms of revealing anything about God to us.  This morning we are going to take on a challenge that is much more emotional than either of these previous two.  For many folks it is epitomized in the sermons of men of old, kind of like this one: Read the rest…

How We Know It

In this second part of our series, Reason to Believe, we take some time to examine the primary source for our knowledge of the truth: The Scriptures.  The Bible is a tough book made even tougher by the things it says.  Yet, making a full and comprehensive case for its reliability and trustworthiness is well beyond the scope of a single sermon.  In what follows we examine the problem together, talk about what we do believe as followers of Jesus, and build a small case for the reliability of the Gospels.  If we can prove those are trustworthy, making the case for the rest of it becomes all the easier.  Keep reading for more and stay tuned for next week as we wrestle with the challenge present by the doctrine of Hell.

 

How We Know It

How many of you spiritual souls would count the Bible as your favorite book?  I have a lot of different favorite books depending on the genre.  For example, my favorite kids’ book (and author) is The BFG by Roald Dhal.  I once considered stealing the library’s copy because I read it so many times.  When it comes to history, Larry Schweikart’s A Patriot’s History of the United States is top of my list.  In the world of fantasy, I greatly enjoyed Robert Jordan’s immense series, The Wheel of Time.  If you want to talk fiction more generally, I would probably rank C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce at least near the top of my list.  I would count each of these books as my favorites because of the impact they had on me when reading them.  I could read them over and over—okay, that’s not entirely true; Schweikart’s history was a pretty intense time commitment, but you know what I mean—and enjoy them every time.  There was no part of them that I didn’t like.  I suspect most folks who can identify one or two books as their favorite would use similar guidelines for their choices. Read the rest…