How Do You Defend Your Faith?

Anonymous asked:

I am doubting my faith more than ever, from the legitimacy of ancient texts, to the authenticity of the roots of stories found in the Old Testament (as well of those even found in the Gospels) … So, I guess, my big question is, how would you address some of the biggest “logical fallacies” or “errors” found in Scriptures, from texts not aligning, to things being taken from other cultures, to a good deal of scholarly work done by some to prove that Jesus was never a real man?

 

Please allow me to be really upfront — but I’m about the most skeptical Christian you’ll meet out here. I struggle with doubt daily, and it’s about as annoying as the popcorn flake in your teeth or that little bit of chunky phlegm down your throat.

I feel you 100% on this one, so it’s you and me both.  If you came to me for reassurance, I wish I had more to give.

Hear me loud and clear: I doubt God exists at least twice a day, and that’s on a good day. Let’s breathe out, because I bet any other Christian will tell you the same thing.

Some days, as bad as it sounds, I just want to throw the Bible in the trash and be done with it. I get on some atheist blog and those familiar doubts come creeping back in. They just have a way of twisting my guts around.

The thing is: I’ve pretty much heard every single argument there is to hear on both sides, and there is nothing new under the sun. I’ve watched theological debates between all the best. I don’t think I’ve learned any new apologetics in the last three years, and having been an atheist, those guys are not really saying anything new either.

Continue reading “How Do You Defend Your Faith?”

Quote: What We Believe


Grace. This is, perhaps, the best word to summarize what we believe about God as Christians. That we are sinners, but that God is gracious. That unlike other religions, Christianity does not teach that you need to pay God back through reincarnation. Paying off your karmic debt. Going to purgatory. Dying and going to hell. Suffering in this life. That God is a God of grace. That we sin and God convicts us, but as we repent, God is gracious with us, undeserved favor, unmerited love. God is not obligated to us in any way, but he has given grace to us in every way because he is such a great and good God. That our relationship with Jesus is absolutely tethered by grace. That God is a God who gives grace. And what that means is that we are to receive God’s grace humbly and we are to share it gladly. That if you sin against me, and you repent; well, I’ve sinned against God and I repented. How did God respond to me? With grace. You know what that means? You get grace too. That we are grace receivers. That we are grace givers. And, as Christians, grace is the demarcation of how we work.


— Mark Driscoll

Question: Drugs, Addictions, Idolatry, Victory

Anonymous asked:

How do I go about knocking addictive behavior, and not just the substance? A month ago, i gave up smoking weed and cigarettes, both of which I was addicted to. However, I’ve found that I’ve been irritable, slightly depressed, and keen to jump onto other things (like food) to fill the void left by giving up those crutches. I’ve tried reading the bible/listening to sermons to fill me, but now I’m getting burnt out and I’m afraid of developing an addiction to something else. Help?

 

Hey, I got tons of love for you and this is an awesome question. I think the answer is wrapped up in the fundamental truth of our crazy human souls.

First you need to know that what you’re feeling is completely normal — anyone who quits anything, from desserts to drugs to video games, will feel agitated and disoriented.  Please give it time.  It’s all part of the quitting process which you don’t want to rush, and once you expect the withdrawal symptoms, you’ve already preempted your body with self-awareness.

For the deeper truth: I believe that people are naturally addicted to things, and so we pretty much jump from island to island of half-baked morsels hoping to find something that fills us.  We’re all wired this way, and we quickly find the world disappoints.

If you guessed where I’m going with this — that the answer is FILL YOURSELF WITH GOD! — we know it’s not that easy.  You might’ve sang that song “Made To Worship” a million times, but the world is so distracting, tangible, seductive, alluring, and easier.  Though we are made for God and His first commandment is about idols, well dang it: idols just feel good.

But we also make the mistake of filling a physical need with a spiritual provision, so it doesn’t matter how many sermons you listen to: at the end of the day you’ll probably still want to smoke that green and eat two dozen donuts. 

Continue reading “Question: Drugs, Addictions, Idolatry, Victory”

Quote: Much To Offer


Dear friend, if you’re the self-doubting sort of insecure person: God loves you, I love you, and anyone else who matters seriously loves you. You do have much to offer to the world, and it doesn’t even matter what you do: we appreciate you simply for who you are.

As a great pastor I know once said: God made you uniquely you because He wanted to say something to the world that He couldn’t say through anyone else.

The thing is, there will always be people who won’t dig your style. It’s impossible to please everyone, and that’s okay: you don’t have to impress anyone, including yourself. You’re free to lose because God has already won. You’re free to be awkward because anything else wouldn’t fit you. You’re free to fail because the world’s idea of success doesn’t even compare to the security found in God.


— J.S.

Question: Can A Guy and Girl Be Friends?

Anonymous asked:

I know there is no straight up answer to this question because everyone has different boundaries and it’s a matter of permissible vs. beneficial. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past which have resulted in a lot of hurt and drama. What are some healthy guidelines for emotional boundaries in opposite gender friendships? How can I pursue a healthy, deep and ‘intimate’ friendship while guarding my heart (and the other person’s) without being legalistic? Or can guys and girls not be close friends?

 


Here’s the short, simple answer on this one:

While everyone thinks they can beat the odds and be the exception, almost no one can escape romantic feelings if they have a super-intimate relationship with the opposite gender.

The important thing here is what you choose to do with those feelings.

Now please hear me: You have a right to feel what you feel, but you’re not obligated to pursue it.

Just because you feel romantic emotions, it does NOT inevitably lead to a date and a wedding. 

I know this probably isn’t your motive, but it’s so ingrained in us today that boys and girls can only flirt to communicate and there’s all this “unrequited longing” that we emulate from sitcoms. 

I’m reminded of a very poignant Simpsons episode where Homer has feelings for another woman, so he thinks he has to have sex with her.  He actually starts sobbing in his hands and says, “We’re gonna have sex.”  I died.

Because of our overly sexualized culture, we assume that being around the opposite gender immediately means “romantic possibilities,” but it does NOT.  You and I learned that crap from bad rom coms, Hollywood saturation, and your horny group of friends. We’ve all bought into this “friendzone” garbage, but no one is entitled to a date just because they’re “nice.” 

We live in such an impulsive impatient generation, so we assume our first instinct must be the right one — as if we need to chase the rabbit every time.  I mean really, when’s the last time we actually said NO to ourselves?  Hardly ever.  If I want Taco Bell at 2am, then by golly I will have my chalupa with extra beef grease and a side of twelve burritos.

Continue reading “Question: Can A Guy and Girl Be Friends?”

Quote: Your Pastor


Many pastors find themselves in a brutal, punishing culture where they only hear from their church members if something went wrong. It’s like all those imbalanced reviews on Yelp where the restaurant was “awful, bad lighting, waiter a moron.” It’s our human nature to write a negative review; not so much a positive one.

Sometimes, your pastor gets it right. A single sentence in his sermon spoke to you. That prayer he prayed over you flipped a switch. That outreach event, while not perfectly coordinated, stirred your heart with affections you never knew. Some blog post he wrote really hit the nail on the head. Simple: just let him know about that. Brag about your pastor to your pastor.


— J.S.

Question: How Do I Rebuke A “Haughty” Mentor?

Anonymous asked:

What would you do if you were in my situation? I have been noticing “haughty eyes” syndrome in a bro-in-christ, and am unsure if I should be doing anything besides praying for God to be working in his heart. I know as a fellow sinner, I shouldn’t judge. But I just get this really terrible feeling whenever he very causally talks about his drug-using neighbors/ poor neighborhoods in a derogatory way etc. It’s a bit awkward bc he’s a former mentor of mine & sees me as the “cute” lil sis type”.

 

Dear sister in Christ: there is definitely a huge difference between judging someone and taking them aside to let them know what’s up as graciously as you can.  Some of us just don’t know any better until a friend grabs us and says, “This is NOT okay, and you’re better than that.”

Everyone has blind spots: and that’s why they’re called blind spots.

But when it comes to mentors or leaders or elders, it can be a very tricky thing.  Most leaders are so comfortable in their “role of authority” that it can be absolutely painful to hear about their own shortcomings. 

It’s already tough enough for any human being to hear about themselves, so imagine a leader having to hear hundreds of different criticisms all the time.  Reactions can range from angry to devastated to twitchy to self-conscious to panic to rationalizing to depression to tears.  Yep, even from a mature leader who knows better. 

It could just be a bad day or a bad mood: but mostly it’s because it’s painful, and we find ways to cover that pain.  When someone feels powerless or helpless or exposed — like during a rebuke — they will do insane things to gain control again. 

Continue reading “Question: How Do I Rebuke A “Haughty” Mentor?”

Integrity Among Voices


Sometimes someone will make a premature, hasty judgment without knowing all the facts, and they will say some hurtful inconsiderate things. In their own mind, they believe they are doing the right thing by “standing up” for what is right. It is sincere and they are not the villain. We can’t blame them: because they just don’t know. They have been fed certain lies from a perpetuated false narrative, or they are speaking from an incomplete paradigm that cannot empathize with the many layers of a complex situation. It does not mean he or she is a bad person, but that gossip is really intoxicating even to the best of people.

We must not be so hard on someone who doesn’t have all the information. It doesn’t help to be rude to our “enemies.” Not everyone will be happy with our decisions, even if we get to explain our side of the story. Be gracious to gossipers, be kind to those who do not understand, and stay humble. I believe that the truth will always win, that hard work pays off, and that our integrity comes from both our actions AND our reactions. Trust God, love others, keep above the drama.

— J.S.

Question: How Should A Leader Act?

Anonymous asked:

Hello! My question is, how should a youth leader act? I feel pressure to act spiritual and put on a mask because I have so many people looking up to me. The thing is, I feel stuck and not free to be myself. I’m quite the silly one actually!

 

You know, I don’t know how a leader “should” act.

Does anyone? 

I hate this word “should.” While there’s certainly a way to know how to be, God made you uniquely you because this is exactly how He wanted you. 

Maybe it’s obvious, but God gives you permission to be you.  God is always rooting for us to be more human, not less.  That might be part of the reason He became one of us.

I would totally argue that your youth students like it better when you are yourself and show a little humanity.  If you’re silly, be silly.  If they raise an eyebrow, who cares?  Life is too short to bury yourself under your fears, and life is too long for the exact same reason.

No one likes the guy who demands positional respect.  We like the guy who draws in personal respect.  I’ll probably listen to a guy who is bossing me around, but secretly I resent him.  I’ll nearly always listen to the gracious leader not just because I respect him, but because I like him: and that’s a whole different level of respect.

There are way too many church leaders who act like untouchable kings and CEOs, to the point where they become unapproachable.  It’s always sad when the church applauds their pastor because “he actually spoke to one of us today,” as if he raised the bar from poop to vomit. 

At least half the leaders I know are like this in public: stodgy, stiff, proper, socially awkward, when privately they are very cool people.  I always want to tell them: Just let yourself out to play.

Continue reading “Question: How Should A Leader Act?”

Quote: Good Guys, Bad Guys


There are rarely clear good guys and clear bad guys in life. A person who thinks and communicates in clear good guy and clear bad guy narratives may be deceiving you or deceiving themselves or both. There is always a back story. … We are not the true good guys fighting the true bad guys. That’s a story for Jesus and Satan. You and I and everybody on the planet are neither. Let’s make a rule: Only demonize demons. Real people should be seen as real people.


— Donald Miller

Question: No One Will Put Up With My Struggle

Anonymous asked:

I’ve read your previous posts about dealing with depression, in which you’ve mentioned that a healthy support network is key to learning how to cope with these struggles. But what if your struggles are pushing your friends away, and if they’ve explicitly told you’re too much to handle? No one wants to be be around such constant negativity, or put up with hours of rants, problems and despair. I’ve stopped answering calls from other people because I don’t want to lose anyone else or be a burden.

 


Dear friend,

Please know that the grace of God is limitless, Jesus welcomes our craziness, and your church is there to serve you and to fight this fight together. 

You should never ever have to feel like you’re weighing down someone else, because that’s one of the devil’s tricks in keeping you isolated from others when there are eager people who want to struggle with you.  It’s the Christian’s privilege to hear you rant, whine, complain, and be real.  If someone has told you that you’re “too much,” that says more about them than you. 

But please also know: Your struggle is not the only thing that defines you and you are more than what you’re going through.

Continue reading “Question: No One Will Put Up With My Struggle”

Sovereign Seeds, Unknown Deeds

 

Someone once told me:

“You’re just a little local pastor at a tiny nowhere church — what do YOU know?”

I wish I could tell you I recovered quickly from this one and made all kinds of God-declarations like “He uses the smallest of us in ways we can’t see” and that I remembered I was uniquely handcrafted by God to serve my corner of the universe.

But I didn’t do this. I was devastated.

I believed what the guy said over what God says.

A little local pastor at a tiny nowhere church.  So what do I know?

The guy was right.  The truth is, I really am a nobody pastor at a tiny nowhere church.  I’ve hardly preached to a crowd of over one-hundred.  I have a modest little podcast and this blog with a few followers, and that’s it. I really don’t know much.

Continue reading “Sovereign Seeds, Unknown Deeds”

Grace, Our Strength and Safety

Grace is both our rest and resolve. Grace restores our broken places while also confronting our sin head-on. Grace meets us in our pain but also revokes our pride. It’s the great equalizer which recognizes our desperate human need.

This is why Christ must be the center of everything, of all we teach and preach. Not our fancy pop-psychology or behavioral checklists. As Paul says, “I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified … with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

It’s only out of gratitude for the grace of Christ that we can really be motivated to follow God at all. The only other option is to beat you down with rules and laws. When you have the security of a never-ending unconditional love, then there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for the one who gave His very life for us. Nothing is off the table for a love like that.

Grace is the unchanging love that changes us; it disturbs our ego and complacency; it is the limitless love that provokes us into the same love. This way takes longer, but its roots grow deeper. It is harder to preach, but its proclamation is what truly transforms.


— J.S.
from this post

Question: When Forgiveness Is Rejected

Two anonymous questions:

– I went through a tough process of struggling with God to forgive someone who betrayed me. However after we reconciled he openly admitted to his insidious intentions and that he doesn’t care if I’m hurt. How do I deal with this double back stabbing and betrayal?

– I feel completely betrayed by a close friend of mine. I need to process and talk it over with my mentors and pastors. However, I don’t want to commit the same sin she did by slandering. She openly admitted to deliberately hurting me. Part of me wants to expose who she is, but I know justice belongs to Jesus. How do I start to heal?

 

I’m really sorry you have to deal with this and I know exactly how it feels.  There have been people that say “I forgive you” to my face only to discover they were lying right through their teeth.  I was also in a nightmare situation where a former friend acted completely remorseful everywhere else, but in private would give me a wink and imply, “I’m winning.”

Please first allow me the grace to point you to some previous posts:

– Betrayal, Forgiveness, Victory

– Praying For Jerks and Worse

– Forgiving Your Dang Parents

 

The thing is, forgiveness is a messy mucky difficult journey that almost never goes the way we want on either side.  It’s possible that the person who hurt you will never realize what they’ve done — and no amount of persuasion will get them to repent, even if you expose them.

People are self-protective, defensive, complicated, unwilling creatures.  The moment a person feels he or she has done something wrong, suddenly there are a million justifications for why it was necessary.  Everyone has a cover story for their own wrongdoing, which is almost always a lame excuse that wouldn’t hold up two seconds in a courtroom.  But somehow it makes sense inside a person’s tiny self-justifying brain.

You know this because you’ve done it too.

Continue reading “Question: When Forgiveness Is Rejected”

Quote: Fullness in Glory


Adam and Eve were tricked and they turned away from God and realized they were naked and vulnerable. When we read that, I notice a lot of preachers say, ‘They sinned, they disobeyed!’ — which is true. But the reason why Adam and Eve and everyone else sins is not because we’re doing bad things. Sin causes us to do bad things, sure, but it’s not about the external.


We sin because we have a disconnection, not just disobedience. It’s a disconnection from the only one who can give us love and satisfaction, and ever since Adam and Eve messed up, we’ve been looking for God in things that are not God. We’ve been trying to find wholeness in things that can’t fill us. It’s not so much that our sinful behavior is bad, but it’s a symptom of a much larger problem. We were designed for God’s infinite glory, but we’re now trying to find glory in lesser stuff.



— J.S.

Question: Serving My Church But Feeling Lonely and Used

Anonymous asked:

Hi, so I am really involved in my church – pretty much the backbone of morning services and publicity stuff throughout the year. I love doing what I do, and feel called to do so, but sometimes I feel so alone in church. Pretty much the only time I get a text, email, or even pulled aside at church is to ask me to do something. I feel like no one cares about me, the person…only the me that does everything. It hurts and I am getting fed up. How do I not feel this way?

 

I’m really, really sorry this is happening, and if I could give you a big hug and then just as quickly drop-kick your pastor, I would.

I realize your church is not evil nor against you nor are they bad people: but you shouldn’t have to feel this way in church.  You do NOT have to think you’re being silly or spoiled or selfish, as if you’re the problem: because you’re not. You’re totally within your right to be loved, served, and encouraged in the body of Christ.

If you haven’t already, please tell your pastor all about these issues.  Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.  Too many of us remain “polite” and play the Nice-Game at the expense of a single real conversation, and we end up regretting all the energy we used to hide the truth. 

Just be honest.  Please charge through any fears or “suburban courtesies” you might have about keeping it real.  You might be surprised at the results.  Most pastors don’t even realize there’s a problem until they’re told straight up: and trust me, a good pastor wants to know the deal.

Continue reading “Question: Serving My Church But Feeling Lonely and Used”

Quote: About Hell


When I’m asked about Hell or God’s wrath, I tell them to check out John 3:17. Even Jesus knew that Hell wasn’t a motivation for people to come to God; it’s never been a fuel for sustainable faith. It only underlines the incredible trade we get with Jesus: our pain for healing, our sorrows for joy, our sin for eternal life.

We can spread around the myth that Jesus talked about Hell more than anything else (he didn’t, it was only 13% of his words), and we can act like total depravity is the entire essence of man (it’s not, if you stop taking Calvin out of context and read Romans 7 or the dang Bible). Or we can admit: we’re all uncomfortable with God’s grace because it’s just so free, so disturbing, so reckless, so amazing. The second you say, ‘What-about,’ then you’re probably afraid of such an unthinkable grace. Yes, He saves us from Hell — but more alarmingly, He saves us to Himself.


— J.S.