Made To Discple

How Do I Know God Loves Me?

Life can hit us with unexpected and undesirable circumstances. When that happens, shock and pain can make us wonder, Does God really care about me?

First of all, Scripture tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), which means His very nature is characterized by compassion and concern. Love originated with the Lord, and He is our greatest example of how to express it. This truth, combined with His holiness, means His love is perfect-He’ll never make a mistake in the way He loves us.

Second, we know God loves us because He calls us His children. “To those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” writes John in his gospel (1:12 ). Sadly, some people don’t have a mother or father who shows them love. But God is the perfect parent. It would go against His character to treat His children with anything less than unconditional love.

Finally, the Lord gave the supreme demonstration of His love at the cross. We were all dead in our sins, but Christ went to the greatest lengths possible to give us life: He came to earth as an expression of His Father’s infinite love, and in giving His life on our behalf, did what no one else was able to do.

After considering these facts about God’s love, how could we not expect Him to take care of even the smallest details of our life? Look for ways He is expressing His love to you. To kind of give you an idea of what I mean, one way I see God’s love is the fact He made food taste good….Silly I know, but honestly, it’s amazing. For example, He made the butt of a pig taste absolutely incredible and gave it the ability to make everything taste better (bacon)! Just saying…

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Why God, Why?!

During the times when you and I can’t trace God’s hand of purpose, we must trust His heart of love.

Why would God let 110 fathers of unborn children perish in the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001?

Why would God withhold children from godly parents and give them to a mother who beats them or cares more about herself than the children eating?

Why would God allow thousands of people to lose their pensions because of greedy corporate executives who are padding their own retirement fortunes?

Why would God allow the kidnapping of babies and children for the perverted pleasure?

Why do the young die? Why do the wicked prosper?

Broken hearts asking the question “why?” are as old as the human race, beginning with our first parents. What would it have been like to wake up the morning after having been banished from the Garden of Eden because of a very wrong choice? I would imagine Adam and Eve had been lying on the cold, hard ground, covered in smelly animal skins. After dark hours of fitful sleep, did they have a moment in between unconsciousness and full alertness when they thought everything they had been through the day before was just a horrible nightmare—only to come fully awake and face to face with the cold, hard consequences of their choice to disobey God? They would have found no comfort in each other that night after the way Eve had involved Adam in her sin—and Adam had blamed Eve when convicted of it. They may not even have been speaking to each other!

In utter loneliness, separated and alienated from God, their minds must have initially been preoccupied with reliving those awful moments that had led to their disobedience.

Why did I talk to the snake? Why didn’t I pray first? Why didn’t God intervene to protect us?

The most tragic day in all of history could not be relived. And the tragedy was not over. In the years to come, after the joy of giving birth to three sons, Adam’s and Eve’s hearts were broken once again as they buried their second son, who was murdered by their firstborn.

Why?

God answered what surely was their unspoken question with a promise that transcended the generations for every age to come when He reassured Adam and Eve that one day He would send a Savior Who would destroy the power of sin, death, and the devil—the fundamental sources of all human suffering. Ultimately this brokenness did lead to blessing, and their suffering did lead to glory when Jesus Christ, their descendant in the flesh, came to redeem mankind from sin and reconcile the world to God.

To our heart-wrenched cries of Why? God’s ultimate answer is, “Jesus,” as He is glorified and magnified in our lives through our suffering.

During the times when you and I can’t trace God’s hand of purpose, we must trust His heart of love. When we don’t understand why, we must trust Him because God cares for us more than we can possibly know.

The Telling of Two Birds

A turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reaction to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle?

It’s natural for me to be a turkey in my emotions, but I’m trying my best and praying to be an eagle in my spirit. And as I have spread my wings of faith to embrace the “Wind,” placing my trust in Jesus and Jesus alone, I have experienced quiet, “everyday” miracles:

His joy has balanced my pain. His power has lifted my burden. His peace has calmed my worries. His grace has been more than adequate to cover me. His strength has been sufficient to carry me through. His love has bathed my wounds like a healing balm. Soaring has become an adventure of discovering just how faithful He can be when I am way out of my comfort zone in the stratosphere over the storm. Soaring is an adventure of discovering by experience His answer to my pain. And I imagine a smile of infinite tenderness on His face as the angels in heaven applaud, “Zach, you’re finally getting it. Now you’re beginning to understand one of the reasons why God has allowed these bad things to happen.”

And, to a greater degree than ever before, I do understand. Soaring is so exhilarating, I find increasingly I am no longer content to live in the barnyard of familiar comfort just for the relative security that seems to be there. I want to live by faith.

The Big Picture

Looking back over periods of loss and uncertainty in my life, my confident conclusion is God allowed the storms of suffering to increase and intensify because He wanted me to soar higher in my relationship with Him.

Faith that triumphantly soars is possible only when the winds of life are contrary to personal comfort. That kind of faith is His ultimate purpose in allowing us to encounter storms of suffering.

MadeToDisciple

What Does God Say About The Role Of A Husband?

  1. The husband is called to model and demonstrate sacrificial, Christlike love toward her, (Ephesians 5:25). He should not be passive, but should accept the responsibility that God has given him as the leader in his marriage. He should look to Jesus as the perfect example of a great husband. Jesus gave up everything for His bride, the church. Following this example, the husband should lay down not just his physical life (i.e. take a bullet for her), but lay down his needs and desires for HERS daily.
  2. The husband is to lead her spiritually, courageously helping her grow in her love and knowledge of the gospel and God’s word, (Ephesians 5:26-27). This does not mean he is her “head” as some abusive men will insist, or that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength from her husband. She gets her strength from God. It is not putting the husband in the place of Christ as if the husband is some sort of absolute authority…therefore, it does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. It DOES mean he should pray for her and with her, and spur her on to love Jesus more than she loves even her husband.
  3. The husband must joyfully serve and care for his wife the way he cares for his own body, (Ephesians 5:28-30). What does this look like?
    1. Be trustworthy – do what you say you will, consistently. Be a man of your word.
    2. Make her load lighter, not heavier – ask her how you can do this.
    3. Listen to her.
    4. Pray for her and with her and your children, that they would love Jesus more than anything.
    5. Put her needs ahead of yours.
    6. Be a one-woman man – keep your eyes on her only and stay away from pornography.
    7. Help her develop and use the gifts and abilities God gave her.
    8. Help her fulfill her hopes and dreams; encourage her to be the woman God created her to be
    9. Show her and TELL her you love her. Be her BEST encourager.

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The Two Become One

Reasoning For Your Marriage

We’ll spend eternity learning the ‘why’ behind stuff here on earth. Unlimited time with an all-knowing God, curious people like me would wear Him out, if He could be worn out….which He can’t.

Like so many things, marriage brings the best and the worst. The ‘thrill of victory’ and ‘the agony of defeat’. Gary Thomas says “Marriage is the full-length mirror we see our selfishness in.” That’s not easy to swallow but it’s probably true. I began researching some other blogs to see how others felt on this subject and one caught my eye. The “Happy Wife Pledge” has been the most commented on and controversial blog to date over this subject of “Why Marriage?” The specific pledge that makes peoples’ teeth itch is about sex. Here’s what it says…. “I will stop talking about sex. I will make no other comments, jokes, side comments, or criticisms about the frequency, quality, or any other dimension of our sex life. I will love her and we will enjoy sex only when she is clearly in favor of it. I will put her first, be grateful for what comes my way, and be content.” Guys hate this because it takes away their power. Girls hate this because it makes them feel guilty.

I saw where someone read a marriage book that said the person who has the least desire has the most control. I believe that’ll hold up as true. When both people are ready, there’s little friction. But the one that’s hesitant gains the power to turn the yellow light to either green or red. That’s real power. For the ‘least desire’ person, it’s easy to feel guilty. Assuming it’s the wife (since statistics show women have a lesser appetite for sex), she’s trapped in the tension of wanting to please her husband & give him what he wants vs. being true to herself and not doing something she doesn’t want to do right now. Refuse… he’ll get mad, pout and be mean. Acquiesce….he’ll be o.k. But you’ll feel like you ‘did your duty’…like you were ‘used’. For the ‘most desire’ person (that’d usually be the guy), he wants it. He needs it. He’s after it. He’ll be nice, wash the kids, do chores, even sit and watch TV shows he’s not interested in. But there’s an agenda. He knows it and she knows it. If she ‘delivers’, he’s happy (for a few days). If she doesn’t, he’s disappointed. Anxious. Even angry.

The reason for marriage (beyond procreation), at least one way God uses it, is to help us become less selfish. To put the needs of our wives and husbands above our own. To be like Jesus to the person we love the most. For a husband to take away his open, outward demand for sex requires selflessness. For a wife to initiate sex as a gift to her husband takes selflessness. And selflessness is close to Godliness. It’s totally Jesus. And did you notice…Jesus didn’t marry. He didn’t need to become more selfless. He was totally ‘there’ without it. Marriage is the mechanism where we can work on being selfless to the max. The more selfless we are, the better things go. When things start rubbing together, I think it’s safe to say one, or both of you, have slipped into selfish mode.

 

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Purity…

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord…”

In our culture we speak of the heart as being the center. We say, “I love you with all of my heart.” Or we say, “Let’s get to the heart of the matter.” It’s our way of talking about the very center of a person’s emotions, thoughts or essence.

In the Old Testament the word for heart is often interchangeable with the word for mind, which gives insight into the idea of it being the center of our emotions, thoughts and spirit.

In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and in Luke 6:45 we read “…for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

When we think purity of heart, most of us probably think of someone whose motives are pure, who possess no guile or malice. Someone who is good natured and may even be somewhat naïve. Jesus however, is speaking about the heart of someone whose sins have been forgiven and whose heart has been made new, whose purity comes, not from themselves, but from the presence of Jesus in their lives.

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord…” Psalm 51:10

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Logic In Apologetics

Logic is typically very important in apologetics. To defend the faith, the Christian must use truth, facts, and reason appropriately and prayerfully. The Christian should listen to objections and make cogent and rational comments in direct response to the issues raised.

Logic is simply a tool in the arsenal of Christian apologetics. Logic is a system of reasoning. It is the principle of proper thinking used to arrive at correct conclusions. Of course, some people are better at thinking logically than others, and there is no guarantee that using logic to the best of one’s ability will bring about the conversion of anyone. After all, logic is not what saves a person. Jesus does that, and we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1).

Therefore, the proper use of logic in apologetics is to remove intellectual barriers that hinder a person from accepting Jesus as Savior. Logic is not to be looked at as the answer to every problem facing Christianity nor every objection raised against it.  Logic has its limits. It cannot guarantee wisdom. It cannot prove or disprove inspiration or love.  It cannot replace the intuition gained through experience, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, nor the clear truth of God’s word.  Nevertheless, logic is still very valuable and can be quite powerfully used by people–both saved and unsaved.

Opponents of Christianity use logic

Sometimes an opponent of Christianity might use logic problems as a type of evidence against God’s existence. Consider this rather basic objection:

  • Proposition: God can do all things.
  • Statement: Can God make something so big that He cannot pick it up? If He can, than He cannot do all things because He could not pick up the rock. If He cannot, than He cannot do all things because He cannot make a rock so big He can’t pick it up.
  • Conclusion: Since God can do all things and we have shown that there are things He cannot do, therefore, God does not exist.

On the surface, this logic could be difficult to answer. But, all we have to do is think a bit more, and we can see that the problem asserted above is not logical to begin with. Here’s the answer:

  • Proposition: God cannot violate His own nature; that is, He cannot go against what He naturally is.
  • Statement: God’s nature does not permit Him to lie, to not be God, etc.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, the statement that God can do all things is not true, and the conclusion raised against God is also not true.

Logic is a valuable tool in witnessing particularly when using proofs of God’s existence.  Consider the following basic approach using logic:

  1. The universe exists.
  2. The universe cannot be infinitely old; because if it were, it would have entered into a state of entropy long ago.
    1. Entropy is the second Law of thermodynamics which states that all things are moving toward chaos and non-usable energy.  In other words, everything is running down.
  3. The universe is not in a state of non-usable energy; therefore, it is not infinitely old.
    1. If the universe were infinitely old, the universe would have run out of usable energy long ago.
  4. Since the universe is not infinitely old, it had a beginning.
  5. The universe could not have brought itself into existence.
  6. Something before the universe and greater than the universe had to bring the universe into existence.
  7. That something is God.

All logical proofs for God have strengths and weaknesses.  But the Christian should not be afraid to use logic, reason, and evidence when defending the faith.

I suggest getting books on introduction to logic and go through what you can.  Absorb as much as possible.  Also, learn to ask questions in discussions.  Learn to think about what the ramifications are of what people are saying.  Look for logical flaws in their speech and your own.

Is logic a common ground between the believer and the unbeliever?

Some state that there is no common ground between the believer and the unbeliever, and that the unbeliever’s initial presuppositions against the Christian God do not allow him to accurately reason concerning God, the world, truth, or himself. Therefore, some Christian theologians conclude there can be no ultimate common ground because the unsaved are unregenerate, and their presuppositions are opposed to true rationality.

“Logic is true–not because it is logical but because it is a reflection of God’s nature, which is order and truth.”

I believe that logic is indeed a type of common ground. But I do not believe that it possesses some innate quality that renders it above human capacity or limitations, nor does it possess any ethereal, mystic qualities that somehow transcends the blinding influence of sin. I think that logic, used properly, always vindicates the truths found in the Bible and points to God–whether or not an unbeliever acknowledges it.

Logic belongs to God. This is so because God has invented the universe, the physical laws, mathematics, and all other natural and true phenomenon in it. Existence has an order because God gave it order. Logic is true–not because it is logical but because it is a reflection of God’s nature, which is order and truth. Therefore, logic ultimately belongs only to God and can only properly be used by Him and in matters pertaining to God by the Christian.

This is not to say that an unbeliever cannot master the logic, say of mathematics, better than a believer. There are areas of knowledge common to both, and God has given some people abilities not possessed by others. However, this not an assertion that all Christians, when speaking of God, do so flawlessly.  Many Christians are very illogical when they try to defend God.

The fact is that no one can claim to have ultimately mastered logic. In a perfect world with downfallen people, reasoning would be a marvelous adventure that would lead us to more of God’s revelation and truth.  But we don’t live in a perfect world.  We live in a fallen world where sin has influenced not only our bodies, emotions, and wills but also our minds.

Is logic enough?

Is logic enough for the Christian? No, it isn’t. Logic has two major flaws: First, it is only as good as the one who is using it (though that really isn’t a flaw in logic). Second, logic doesn’t save. Jesus does. We cannot reason someone into the kingdom of God. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness and who opens the heart to understand the truth (John 16:8).

But if that is true, then should we even bother to try to reason with unbelievers? Absolutely, yes, and for several reasons:

  • We are commanded by God to give an answer to unbelievers (1 Pet. 3:15) and to reason (Isaiah 1:18).
  • God can, in His sovereignty, use our witness and reasoning to bring someone into the Kingdom. He is not limited by our inadequacies.
  • Answers that are in agreement with God’s word and given to unbelievers, even if they are rejected, are still true answers. The unbeliever will be held accountable on judgment day for rejecting those truths.

Conclusion

Logic is a tool for the Christian. It is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if you accept the truth that logic “belongs” to God, then you should be encouraged to use it. But, don’t let it become an idol, that is, it is not the answer to the problem. As Christians, we need to use logic as well as evidence, prayer, God’s word, love, kindness, etc., in our efforts to win people to Jesus. Reasoning has a valuable place in apologetics and with the believer. It is worth doing well. But use it with love, prayer, and patience.

Made To Disciple

Evidence For The Exodus?

The Bible tells us that God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt and led them into the land to the north that He had promised to Abraham centuries earlier. Critics of the Bible have long voiced their skepticism regarding the Exodus account.
One of the objections critics raise has to do with the massive Egyptian military presence that was along the Mediterranean coast route leading up to Canaan. [1] Critics suggest that it would have been impossible for the Israelites to make it past such a force.
Well, they are failing to consider a couple of things. First, an army of any size is no match for God. You may recall what a lone angel did to 185,000 Assyrians in a single evening (2 Kings 19:35). A second fact that critics overlook is that the Bible specifically tells us that the Israelites were not led out via the route along the Mediterranean lest they retreat when they saw the soldiers (Exodus 13:17–18). It is not uncommon for critics of the Bible to misread or fail to understand the details of a Biblical account and then attack their own misunderstanding.
Another objection critics bring up regarding the Exodus concerns the lack of any Egyptian records mentioning the Israelites’ departure from the land. But a lack of records should not concern us. The Egyptians may have had written record of the Exodus but as British Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen says, voluminous papyrus archives once stored in Egypt have vanished: “In the sopping wet mud of the Delta, no papyrus ever survives (whether it mentions fleeing Hebrews or not)…In other words, as the official thirteenth-century archives from the East Delta centers are 100 percent lost, we cannot expect to find mentions in them of the Hebrews or anybody else.” [2]
      “Well,” the skeptic says, “perhaps no written record survives on papyrus, but surely there should be an inscription on a wall relief that mentions the Exodus.”
I disagree. As Jeffery Sheler, U. S. News & World Report religion writer, says: “Official records and inscriptions in the ancient Near East often were written to impress gods and potential enemies, it would be quite surprising to find an account of the destruction of pharaoh’s army immortalized on the walls of an Egyptian temple…Indeed, the absence of direct material evidence of an Israelite sojourn in Egypt is not as surprising, or as damaging to the Bible’s credibility, as it first might seem.” [3]
Archaeologist, James Hoffmeier, agrees with Sheler. He says, “Royal inscriptions typically did not record disasters and setbacks experienced by Egypt or its royalty.” [4] Joseph Free adds: “The plagues and the Exodus of Israel were a national calamity and surely would have been carefully avoided in the monumental records. Furthermore, when something was recorded that proved to be uncomplimentary or distasteful to a later regime, it was effaced at the first opportunity. For example, after the Hyksos [5] were expelled [by the Egyptians] their monuments were destroyed. Also, after the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III chiseled away the name and representations of this queen.” [6]
     “Okay,” the skeptic reasons, “perhaps there wouldn’t be an inscription on a wall telling the story of the Exodus, but surely the Israelites would have left behind some pottery in the Sinai desert during their sojourn from Egypt to Canaan.”
When it comes to finding evidence for the Exodus (such as pottery in the Sinai desert), it is important to remember that the Israelites lived as nomads during their time in the wilderness. Nomads living in a desert like environment, where every utensil and tool is of great value, leave few traces in the archaeological record. The Israelite’s temporary tent encampments from 3000 years ago would not have left much behind in the swirling sands of the desert.
Former Yale professor Millar Burrows agrees: “It is hardly reasonable, in fact, to expect archeological evidence of their sojourn anywhere. We cannot expect much help from archeology in tracing the route of a people’s migration through the desert.” [7]
We also need to keep in mind that the Israelites left Egypt “in haste” and that “they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves” (Exodus 12:33, 39). They did not foresee their disobedience that would keep them from the Promised Land and lead to a prolonged time in the wilderness. The Israelites were originally setting out on a short journey to Canaan with the understanding that God was going to provide for their needs (Exodus 3:8–12). They were not going to need to haul all their heavy pottery with them.
Now, having acknowledged that the archaeological evidence for the Exodus is scant, I think it is worth pointing out that certain details in the Biblical account have been corroborated by archaeology. For example, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) reports:

“According to the Bible, as the Hebrews left Egypt, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent 600 chariots to chase the runaway slaves. Could 600 be a biblical exaggeration? In 1997, on the site of the city of Ramses II, German archeologists unearthed the foundations of an ancient stable. By the end of the dig, they had found enough stables for at least 500 horses and chariots.” [8]

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