Confident Faith - December 2017

One of my favorite movies is the 1985 western "Silverado" starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, and Danny Glover. Glover plays "Mal", a prodigal son character who left his parents' farm for the big city, Chicago. He eventually decides the city is not for him only to return and find his father living in a cave after his farm had been stolen, his mother dead, and his sweet little sister survivng as a saloon floozy consorting with a cheating gambler. Mal is frequently heard saying "That ain't right!" and goes about setting things right. His part intertwines with the other heroes who are doing the same thing from different directions all converging on the corrupt rancher and sheriff who have taken over the town of Silverado.

Proverbs 24:11-12 is a call to action for us in situations that prompt a "That ain't right!" response:

"Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?"

This passage does not leave inaction as an option. Jesus did not take a pass on the "That ain't right!" of sin. He stood up, took on human form, and walked all the way to a bloody cross for us. God's word should compel us to action - to stand and not be quiet in the face of lies, and to present a gracious yet firm reason for the Truth - the "Hope within us" of 1 Peter 3:15. How are we doing standing up to evil?

As an example. look at the German Christians who largely rolled over as Nazisim grew in 1930's Germany. A few stood and paid the price but most just sang hymns louder as the trainloads passed enroute to the extermination camps. Look at the American church that largely rolls over in the face of cultural pressure for abortion and same sex marriage. Let me make a staggering point. The German holocaust may have killed over 20 million people, but since Roe v Wade legalized abortion in the United States, close to 60 million human beings have been killed!

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate those who are right-minded on abortion and other evils, those who pray, and those who take the extra step to give money to organizations like Life Choices -- but the action words "Deliver" and "hold them back" of Prov 24:11-12 are a call for active personal involvement, a call for action!

"That ain't right" situations in the world need to be confronted with Confident Christianity in Action. What are you doing?

Harold

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Confident Faith - November 2017

"You can't be certain about the claims of Christianity," says the lady to whom you are witnessing. How do you answer?

The key is the word, "certain." Ask her what she means by "certain" and for an example of a decision she makes on that kind of certainty.

Is she imposing a standard of absolute certainty (no possible doubt) that no one really lives by? There is almost no decision in our lives that we make with 100% certainity. You drive through the green light, but do you have 100% certainty that you won't be broadsided? No. You know there are people killed every day because someone ran a red light, but you know the probability is very low. That knowledge, and past experience, leads you to make a "reasonable" decision to drive through the green light inspite of the "possible" deadly consequences.

J. Warner Wallace, cold-case homocide detective, explains this in light of life impacting courtroom decisions:

"So, when someone tells me that they can’t make a decision about the existence of God or the claims of Christianity because they still have possible doubts or unanswered questions, I simply remind them that criminal juries make critical decisions every day without possessing the level of certainty they are imagining. In fact, none of us know much of anything “beyond a possible doubt.” Instead, we move forward through life with a very different standard of proof, growing comfortable with decisions that are “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If that standard is good enough for the most critical decisions we make in the courtroom and in our daily lives, it’s good enough for any decision we might make about God’s existence or the truth of Christianity.”
"Rapid Response: 'You Can't be certain about the claims of Christianity" by J. Warner Wallace at http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/rapid-response-you-cant-be-certain-about-the-claims-of-christianity/

Challenge this unrealistic expectation, and then go back to the evidence for the Gospel. That's Confident Christianity overcoming obstacles.

Harold

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Confident Faith - December 2016

When Eternal Agape Came Down to Us. I’ve previously written about the Trinity being a “solution” rather than a “problem” for Christians, particularly as it provides an eternal foundation for love (agape). Love was not created but is an eternal, personal, binding characteristic of the three persons of the Trinity.

Islam claims Allah is self-sufficient, eternal, and loving, but since Allah is a monad – god in one person, this is a contradiction. Love requires something to love. This makes Allah dependent on something else for an essential and eternal characteristic. Islam vehemently rejects the Christian Trinitarian God, but this biblical formulation of one God in three persons provides a coherent foundation for a relational and loving God where Islam fails.

Below is a quote from the book: “No God but One: Allah or Jesus” by Nabeel Qureshi (in the church library) that adds to our appreciation of Agape love through the Trinity.

“This is not a trivial difference [between Islam and Christianity], though; it has major implications. Since mankind is made in the image of the triune God, love is woven into our very nature. The Trinity gives us the most consistent, most powerful basis for being self sacrificial and altruistic.

This is an important point to unpack. Of course, many people are very altruistic, regardless of their worldviews. A person does not need to believe in God to genuinely care for others, as secular humanists demonstrate. There are even people who do not believe in any kind of morality yet still desire to care for people. Ultimately, though, such ungrounded altruism is a sentiment, something a person just wants to do. Unless one believes in a transcendent basis for altruism, one’s desire to care for people is unanchored and ephemeral, little more than a whim. According to this amoral worldview, nothing behooves a person to be kind. Even though someone might wish to be altruistic, in the next moment it would be entirely consistent with their worldview if they chose to be selfish.”

Agape is so much greater than just optional altruism. At Christmas, we celebrate the transcendent agape take on human form, be born as a baby, and dwell among us that we might see what love really is – all the way to a cross.

I hope this adds to your appreciation of Christmas – when eternal agape came down to us, and made the way for us to join into the eternal loving fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Merry Christmas.

Harold Henderson

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Confident Faith - October 2017

Who do you see when you think about yourself? That's your identity. If you only see gender, race, religion, job, position, wealth, etc., then you are only seeing the superficial - not what you were created to be.

Jesus said, "One thing you lack."

At this point the man may have thought, "Here comes the collection plate." Perhaps he may have been willing to give 10%, 30%, or maybe even 50% of his great wealth to ensure his salvation if the teacher asked that much.

Jesus continued, "Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mark 10:17-27) He told this man he must destroy his self-identity (RICH) and let the one true identity (Jesus) take its place (follow Me).

"ALL? He wants me to give everything? My identity is RICH. That's who I am. That's losing everything ... like dying." Unwilling to pay that price, the man turned away losing infinitely more than his wealth.

Jesus said we must deny ourselves and take up our cross in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23). This calls us to crucify the false identity that has enslaved us and put on the Imago Dei (image of God) that frees us as we were created to be.

With "Let us create man in our image" (Gen 1:26-27), God imprinted man with a divine identity, and it was very good, but sin turned us into Gollum - loving "Precious" (ourselves) above all else. Gollum's identity was a ring. The young ruler's identity was his wealth. What is yours?

Confident faith comes from a firm foundation. Only Christ provides that.

Harold

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Confident Faith - September 2017

Ever hear the comeback, "The church is full of hypocrites," when you share the Gospel?

Here is one of many ways to answer this challenge. It plays on the fact that someone has confused the failings of people with the truth of the message they are carrying. You want to gently expose the confusion and steer the conversation back to the message.

Give an example: There was a relatively young, obese, chain-smoking doctor. One day he dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Had he counseled his patients on over-eating and smoking as shortcuts to early death, most would have considered him a hypocrite.

Did his hypocrisy make the message he preached untrue? Not at all. The truth/untruth of his message is independent of his behavior. Likewise, Christianity stands/or falls on whether the core Gospel message is True - whether it really happened in history approximately 2000 years ago (1 Cor 15:12-17). (For the evidential case for the Gospel, see "Cold Case Christianity" by J. Warner Wallace in the church library.)

Confess that Christians do fall, but the failings of people in the church are not evidence that the message is untrue. The Gospel message calls imperfect people to walk a high path. We fall. We seek forgiveness, get up, and resume the upward climb the message calls us to.

That Gospel message has a name, Jesus. Do you know him? (and now you are back on message)

Harold

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