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Monday, November 26, 2012

Why I Am A Christian: A Story of Faith.

When I was eleven years old, I was baptized into Christ at my home church in Mahomet, Illinois.

The formal cause for this occasion came about after I had a lengthy conversation with a non-Christian friend about the important connection between baptism and salvation, only to remember that I, myself, had not even been baptized.

Being raised in the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (and being convinced by Scripture), I believed that baptism is the final step in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, so this was no small issue for me.

However, the real or material cause for my baptism was much deeper.

I was adopted at a young age by Christian parents and ever since then, I have been surrounded by all things "Christian".

However, going to Christian "things" and having Christian parents does not a Christian make.

I have always believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that the Bible was the Word of God, but even the demons believe (and they tremble; James 2:19).

I remember confessing my sins to God and "asking Jesus into my heart" after an "Unshackled" radio drama, but I was plagued with worry about the effectiveness of my prayer because I didn't feel like a weight had been taken off my back, which was how the experience had always been described on the program.

 I have long since moved past that bad theology; praise God!

 So, knowing my need for a Savior and the truth of Jesus' divinity, I trusted in Him for my salvation, confessed Him as Lord, repented of my sins, and was baptized.

My testimony is hardly cool or exciting, but it is very special to me. 

As a person who has long struggled with not measuring up, I am thankful to know that I don't need to try to "be something" in order to approach the cross and have a relationship with God.

To sum things up, if I could cite three reasons for why I am a Christian, they would be the following:

            Observational Confirmation

Seeing the absolute coherence, rationality, and sincerity of Christian faith has been an enduring testimony of its truth to me.

I love what C. S. Lewis said about his faith in the faith:

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. 

By seeing godly men and women live out the biblical faith in their daily lives, I cannot doubt that the Spirit of God is truly working in them and through them.

                   Internal Confirmation

The witness of the Holy Spirit to my heart has been a testimony to me of God's existence and activity in our world.

(I believe that God has hardwired us all for belief, but that man  suppresses this innate knowledge through sinfulness [Romans 1:18]).

There's not much I can say about this, except that for me the witness is more than a "burning in the bosom", is closer to what philosophers a "properly basic belief", and even closer to an eternal truth, whispered in your ear by the most trustworthy person in the whole universe

   Evidential Confirmation

While too lengthy and outside of the scope of this blog post to explain fully here, I believe that the proposition "God exists" best explains the origin of contingent beings, the existence of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, the reality of objective moral values and duties, and the very idea of God, as well as the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and more.

The explanatory power of Christian theism is, I believe, unparalleled in scope and power.

You can see more about that here.

 In closing, I am very aware of the fact that I am still young and it seems everyday my faith is changing and growing as I learn more and try to better conform my life and doctrine to the Truth. 
 It gives me supreme joy to call myself a follower of Jesus and I consider it a privelge to share my faith with others.   

                  One More Thing

A Restoration Movement initiative
In addition to being a proud Christian, I am also proud to belong to a movement of churches which I believe best exemplify the biblical model for how the local church is supposed to look and act.

 You can read more about this fellowship of churches here.

Also feel free to leave a short testimony of how you came to Christ in the comment box below.    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I Thank God for President Obama.

 It's been almost a week since the United States re-elected President Barack Obama for a second term as president of our country.

And, like all conservatives, I was initially left reeling and dejected knowing that I had another four years of one of the most radical, anti-business, anti-life, anti-free market presidents our country has ever seen.

I mean how much worse could things get?

Planned Parenthood (the nation's largest abortion chain) is receiving millions of tax-payer dollars each year, the bloated and job crushing "Obamacare" legislation seems to be a forgone conclusion, religious business leaders all across the country are being forced to violate their consciences with respect to their views on life (via the HHS mandate) and marriage (via gay activism and legislation thereof), and religious apathy seems endemic both in and outside the Church.

Christians see America (and the world) slowly going downhill in more ways than we can keep track of and are asking ourselves, 'what's a believer to do?'

Well, the Bible answers that question in First Thessalonians:

"Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus".

Yes, you read that right. 

It says we are to rejoice (always), give thanks (in all circumstances), and pray (continually). 

So, that's exactly what I'm going to. 

While there may not be many reasons to be thankful for our Commander-in-Chief's re-election, there are at least few

For one, I'm thankful that those of us who were acting under the delusion that we could recreate the United States in the image of some great Christian democratic-republic must now be faced with the reality that even a country as great as America is secular and under the temporary control of the "prince of this world" (John 12:31).

Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to cultivate Christ in our culture and government, we forget that the first rule of defending the faith is to "sanctify Christ as Lord in [our] hearts" (1 Peter 3:15).

This is not at all to say that we shouldn't vote our consciences whenever able, but we must understand that real change comes by way of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and not by governmental legislation.

In addition, the President's win has personally encouraged me to make active pro-life vigil and sidewalk counselling outside my town's local Planned Parenthood clinic a more regular activity.

While Planned Parenthood and abortion providers all across the country won big in this election, the pro-life movement has too been rejuvenated and we are ready to fight the pro-abortion forces for the next four years and beyond, defending the right-to-life of pre-born humans until the bitter end.

Another thing this election has brought about that I'm thankful for is the spotlight now being shone on the glaring unwillingness of many Christians to even attempt to bring their political views and actions under the Lordship of Jesus.

Many of the President's deeply held social and economic views are anti-Christian and whether it be due to racism (voting based on race) or a low view/ignorance of Scriptural principles, too many Christians cast their votes for Barack Obama and supported his rise to power.

However, sunlight is the best disinfectant and you cannot deal with a problem until you identify it.

We've identified a big problem, now it's time to deal with it.
In keeping with the passage from first Thessalonians, I'm also praying for our leaders (as we're commanded to do in 1 Timothy 2:1-2), including our president, and I'm praying that Christians would be renewed with evangelistic zeal for the lost and a mighty love for God, so "that by doing good [we] should silence the evil talk of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

And lastly, I'm rejoicing always because I have the awesome, wonderful, indescribable privilege of knowing that no matter how bad the world gets, Jesus is coming!

And (if I'm reading my Bible correctly) things are going to get worse before they get better. 

Regardless of what happens in life, what leader is in power, or what heartache may befall our world, this thing is certain: God is still working in the lives of men and women to bring about his most glorious and holy purposes and He will see his children through to ultimate victory.

This knowledge gives us the freedom to be bold and courageous, loving and compassionate, prayerful and expectant all day, every day. 

There's still lots of work to be done, fields to harvests, love to share, and justice to champion; are you ready?

Just remember to pray, give thanks, and in all things rejoice!