Churches… It’s Time To Stand Up

The Church is a core foundation to the Christian faith, established through Jesus Christ Himself. As seen in the book of Acts, the Church is constantly growing, or it should be. This growth is in areas of discipleship, evangelism, and community, among others. But so often I see churches that are simply happy about where they are. They don’t feel the need to expand their resources or God’s Kingdom. This is wrong.

Evangelism should be one of the foundations of the church. Without the faithful evangelism of Jesus’ disciples, there would be no Christians today. I have already previously wrote about the importance of knowing your testimony and how to share it (click here), so I won’t go over that today. Instead, we are going to focus on apologetics and why it should be lead by the church.

Does It Really Matter?

Caleb and I have both talked previously about apologetics on a personal scale, but what about in the church? It may be something you’ve never thought of. I’d dare say that this may be the case because churches don’t think about it either. This doesn’t change the fact that every believer should be able to give concrete reasons as to why they believe what they believe.

Why aren’t we empowering the young minds in our churches on how to take a stance for their faith? Yes, we need them to know that evangelism is more than apologetics, but shouldn’t they be taught at least the basics? Are we, the church, deciding to let little Johnny go to school or in the world without a solid evidential knowledge of the Christian faith? The church should empower and equip each other, as each member needs to encourage the other. I am thankful for a man in our church, Bill O’Brien, who lead the way for this cause.

“I was feeling lead by the Lord to teach this class about apologetics and how to defend your faith in a public place. There were too many students I saw who had no idea of the evidence of their faith, or how to defend it. I was amazed that there was nothing the church was doing about it. So I knew the Lord was leading me to start something.”

Bill O’Brien (paraphrased)

Mr. O’Brien taught a class every Wednesday night for middle schoolers. I vividly remember this as the time when I got serious about my faith. The content was by no means easy either. We watched the Lennox & Dawkins debate, then would practice with each other. I learned how to respectfully make a case for my faith, and do it with real, factual evidence. Now I can have respectful, fruitful discussions with classmates and friends about why I believe Christianity is scientifically true.

Listen up Churches

The years that a student is involved in a church’s student ministry is precious. These are times that must be used to their full potential. The cool thing is that there may be teens in the youth group that are struggling in their faith at a public school (which I totally support, I’ve been in a public school my entire life). However, the church has the opportunity to walk through it with them.. together. This is a rare time in life where hardship is directly endured with close Christian brothers and sisters.

It is during this period that teens should be taught how to defend their faith. They should be given the right tools and resources to study themselves, and also give to others. Next, you teach them how to disciple. You teach them how to tell others what you have taught them. Soon, 1 turns into 2, 2 into 4, 4 into 8, and so on. The impact of one young adult who is confident that their faith is 100% true, and can defend it, is an asset to the Kingdom of God.

Do Something…. Now

Mr. O’Brien’s example of taking initiative on a prevalent issue in the church is one we should all follow. In order for your church to address the dire need for apologetics training in your community, the church members must make it a priority. Stop putting students in positions they aren’t trained for, then you’re only asking for trouble.

The US Military trains, prepares, and sends soldiers out every year. It’s like clock-work. But the first step is training. No soldier is sent out to battle without the proper training and equipment. If this is our posture with a wordly army, how much greater should our concern be in preparing God’s eternal army?

Why Does God Remain so ‘Hidden’?

I wish I could count the number of times that I have heard someone say, “I am really just trying to seek God.” Or how many times have you heard someone say, “I want them to find God so bad!” Well, that brings up a good question: if God wants us to be with Him and trust Him so bad, why does He remain so hidden from His would-be followers?

I love getting into conversations with unsaved people around this topic because it is so relevant to life with an easy transition to the Gospel. When asked, Richard Dawkins answered “I don’t know” to the question of “If God wrote a message in the sky, and it said ‘Richard, I am real. ~ God’, would you believe then?”

It Has Already Been Written In The Sky

The truth is He already has. Numerous times throughout the Psalms and many other times in scripture, it is written that the heavens declare His glory. He’s not as hidden as people think He is. God hasn’t made it so no one can find Him. However, He hasn’t just shown up in the sky and said, “Wassup. Jesus died to save y’all, so repent.” The reason is freewill and choice. God doesn’t want people to follow Him because he said so; He wants people to choose Him because they want Him. There is enough evidence for someone to believe in God; however, no matter how much evidence there is for God, it will always require trust to believe until we stand face-to-face. On the flip-side, that small requirement of faith is simply enough for people to outright deny God all together.

Christ wants us to love Him, and for that love to be genuine, we must choose it ourselves. It’s not something we can be forced or coerced into. This is why God has done things the way He has. There is enough evidence for people to choose what they want to do either way, whether that means following Him or not. It comes down to free will, and because God loves us and wants us to freely love Him back, He allows us to either chose Him or deny Him.

How to Use This to Share The Gospel

If people believe that God hasn’t shown Himself through creation, you may have a hard time showing them that with “evidence.” No worries though. The greatest strength you have in this situation is your own story. People can deny seeing God around them, but they cannot deny the story of your testimony. They cannot deny how you have seen Christ show up in your own life.

A Warning

Your testimony is something people can never invalidate; however, it’s something that you can invalidate all on your own. You can invalidate your testimony by your everyday life. This is done when you claim to be changed, but you don’t bear the fruit of being saved by grace through faith. If you continually speak negatively of others, cuss nonchalantly, or blow up in peoples’ faces, why would any person want what you have? They won’t because you’re acting the same as the people who have not surrendered their lives to Jesus. How we live our lives is essential to demonstrating the goodness of God to others around us. When we live a changed life, the work and presence of Jesus in our lives is undeniable. These simple things can be used to bring those around us to Christ.

Sharing Your Faith in a Public School

My entire life I have been attending a public school, from Kindergarten all they way up to 12th grade. As I am starting my 2nd semester as a Senior in high school, I have begun to recall how I have handled my deep faith publicly. I believe there are some simple truths that may be helpful for others that are starting their first years at high school, hoping to be bold in their faith.

1. You ARE going to mess up.

It is important to realize that no matter the strength of your faith in Christ and your desire to live it out, there will be failures. It is often the aftermath of these failures that will shape and define how you live out your faith, as well as how others perceive your faith. Don’t let the devil use the guilt of your failures to push you away from Christ, let it bring you closer to His love. If you haven’t failed, then you weren’t trying.

2. Everyone IS going to see you mess up.

While this may be a hard pill to swallow, it is so true. People will see you, and they may think you are a fool. Who cares, you are obeying God’s will to share the Gospel. However, they will also see how you handle your lack of perfection. Will you give it to God or fix it with continuous human error? This will be a testimony to your faith.

3. They are just as scared as you are.

Often times when you think about sharing your faith or defending it, you may get a little nervous or even feel your hands shaking. That’s okay. The person you are discussing hard questions with is just as nervous as you are. Remember you are both humans, you both get anxious about things. But, never forget that your anxiety or nervousness should not hinder you from sharing. A strong testimony to your faith is how you handle your fear.

4. They don’t know everything either.

When I am making a case for Christ with some of my classmates, sometimes I feel like I don’t know enough. I have come to realize that the person I am talking to feels the same way. It’s impossible to know everything, you can educate yourself on as much information as you want, but there still may be a hard question to answer. That is okay, you don’t need to know all the answers, but don’t be arrogant and pompous, blocking the love of Christ from being shown.

5. Prayer is an essential.

As I have learned through experience effective ways to share the Gospel and defend my faith, I have seen that in America especially, we don’t use prayer to its full potential. This is even more true with teenagers in general: we don’t pray. Part of this is because we weren’t taught much about it, but that is no excuse. When sharing God’s love continuously with a friend, like in a school setting, it MUST be accompanied by prayer. Ask that God would move His Spirit through that person and give you the right words to say. God hears our prayers.

How Do I Overcome My Initial Fear?

Well, there are several approaches to this question. The truth is that sharing your faith will not always be easy, it has to be worked towards. I want to show an approach that I believe is most effective. You have to be comfortable sharing the Gospel with yourself before you can share it with others.

I enjoy playing basketball, but I don’t ever get better at it unless I practice. Often times, this means giving up time I would put elsewhere. The same is with sharing your faith: if you don’t practice it, you won’t be good at it. The very thing that makes the Gospel so encouraging is because it is personal. Your first interaction with the Gospel was within yourself. When you were freed from your sins and imperfections, that’s when you knew you had to share it!

Apply It, Share Your Faith!

I encourage you to write out your testimony on some paper. If you are trying to figure out what your story is, try to think about when you first heard of the gospel and how it changed your life. Practice sharing your testimony with your family first. Ask them how you can improve it or if you are missing something. Continue practicing so that you know your testimony without having to think about it.

After you’ve become comfortable sharing with yourself and at home, you can begin doing it in public. Ask a friend if you can share your story with them. They will almost always say yes. Then, the stage is all yours to present the Gospel, showing how YOUR life has been changed by Christ.

How “Young Sheldon” Can Test Your Apologetics

Young Sheldon, Season 1: Ep. 18, CBS

I was recently on Facebook and this video clip “Young Sheldon” scrolled across my feed. I’ve seen all the promos for this show that run on TV, but this was the first actual clip I had seen. Take a watch.

In the scene, Sheldon’s mom, the classic southern-raise, Bible Belt mother, is upset when she finds explicit things in the comic books he has been reading. Like any reasonable mother, she decides to take them away. As she stacks the comic books from his room into a box, Sheldon, using his quick whit, retorts with a passive aggressive comment saying, “There’s one more book that belongs in the box. [It’s] filled with adultery, genocide, and even human sacrifice.” He then places a Bible on the bed.

That’s an interesting thought by Mr. Sheldon but that got me thinking: “How many people who saw this episode started second guessing the Bible they thought they knew?” I can only imagine the number of people that started asking questions like, “Does the Bible really talk about that stuff?” “Is that what it supports?” Let’s take each of Sheldon’s claims one at a time!

Adultery?

“There’s no way this could actually be in the Bible, right?” Well… Wrong actually. David. Sampson, kinda. Abraham. These are examples of people committing some sort of adulterous action over the course of their time mentioned in the Bible. David was considered to be a man after God’s own heart. Abraham was the father to the nation of Israel and was revered for his faith in the Lord. Some atheists may say this evidence proves that the Bible is a lie since all these things are in it.

Not really. The Bible teaches that man kind is sinful and broken. No matter how close we think we are to God, we will still mess up simply because we’re human. Every time some form of adultery occurs in the Bible, it’s NEVER celebrated! Often, it’s looked at as the example of “what not to do” or how even the strongest followers of God can mess up. The Bible doesn’t teach how to become the perfect version of yourself, but it does teach about Jesus being the Atonement for all our sins. So, Sheldon, the Bible is showing us imperfect people? That’s okay, because no where is it written that Christians are perfect. You don’t have to look far to find that.

Genocide?

There are roughly 17,000 distinctly unique people groups around the world. Many times throughout history people have tried to wipe out entire groups of people: it’s called genocide. Examples include the Holocaust, Cambodia, and Armenian Genocide. Groups likes the Amalekites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites don’t exist today. According to Biblical accounts, that’s because God commanded the Israelites to slaughter them all. That doesn’t sound too just or loving. Why would God command that then?

How are we even supposed to begin processing that? We must first understand that the Canaanites were doing things that most any civilized society in the world would have condoned—incest, infant sacrifice, ritual prostitution, bestiality. It’s not like they were completely innocent before God or even man when God brought on their judgement. Moreover, God waited over 400 years before He commanded that they be “driven out” and utterly destroyed once they reached rock bottom. At this point in history, God was using war as a means to judging the nations. His judgement was just because of all the sins they were committing.

Human Sacrifice?

You betcha! This is in the Bible. There’s Abraham laying his son Issac on an altar, where he intended on sacrificing him as a burnt offering. Then, there’s Jephthah. He made a covenant with God saying that he would sacrifice the very next thing that came through his gates. Unfortunately, that happened to be his daughter; he followed through with his covenant.

Both of these instances, which are among the most common cited when talking about human sacrifice in the Bible, deal with obedience to God. Ultimately, Abraham and Isaac was meant to be a picture of the coming King. Isaac was spared because God provided a ram for Abraham. Abraham knew God had never failed him yet and that He wouldn’t start then. Obeying God was the best thing he could have done! In regards to Jephthah, he found himself in a covenant that he made with the Lord about sacrificing the next thing to walk through the gates. Covenants were not meant to be broken and to do so would have resulted in severe punishment. These things seem odd at first but when put into the larger scheme of the Bible they fit together nicely, just like a puzzle piece.

Application

These challenges may come up in a conversation and they can see rather troubling at first, but before you panic, ask these people if they can name any examples of those three: adultery, genocide, and human sacrifice or whatever they challenge you on. Once you’ve done that, you’ll probably find that they couldn’t give any detailed examples of those things. If that’s the case, refer them to some of the explanations given in this article. Then, see where the conversation leads from there! Remember, it’s okay to tell a person that you’re not sure about a claim, and you want to research it so you can better answer their questions.

Why the Gospel is Offensive

The message of the Gospel is often seen as very hopeful and exhilarating, in a good way. But, what many may not realize is that several non-Christians find it VERY offensive. Here’s why.

The idea that we are all sinful. The Bible clearly states that all humans are sinners, and fall much short of the glory of the Most High God. So if some random person told you that you were a sinner, wouldn’t you be offended?

Sin leads to death. After being told that everyone is a sinner under God’s eyes, you most likely will be told that this sin you can’t control causes death. Wow, well that sounds hopeful right? The sin that I can’t control leads to death I must endure.

Not only is there physical death, but sin leads us to hell. This sin that is in every man causes physical death, but to make matters worse, there is also a spiritual death. In this spiritual death that sin causes, your soul goes to hell for eternity because God cannot be in the presence of your sin.

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