Wednesday, June 1, 2011

So I've been gone a long time

Yes, I know I haven't posted in forever.  I've been so busy I've hardly even been home except for the past couple days.  So I just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm going to be really busy this summer, but I am going to post occasionally.  But I won't be posting on this blog as much as on my other blog.  Thanks so much for reading!  Again, I'm so sorry I haven't posted in forever :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Be thankful

How many times have you prayed and thanked God for the air you breathe?  Or thanked Him for life?  What about daylight, friends, animals (if you like them lol), sight, a house, sleep, or other things like that?  So often we take those things for granted!

Imagine this scenario:  You're driving to school or work and a reckless* driver pulls out right in front of you.  Although it looks like you don't have time to stop or go around the car, miraculously you make it unscathed.  I'll bet the first thing you would do (definitely after calming down--that would be scary!) would be to pray and thank God that He kept you safe.

Now, imagine this scenario:  You're driving to school or work . . . and you get there perfectly safe.  Now, I'm guessing that most of you would just walk inside and grumble about the amount of paperwork you have to do or that there's a test today in the class you just really hate.

Although both scenarios end the same way, you make it safe to your destination, you only thanked God in the first scenario.  Why?  God kept you safe both times.  The difference is that in the first situation the traumatic event reminded you to thank God, while in the second situation the fact that God kept you safe was taken for granted.

I'm not saying that you all do this--I hope that you all give thanks and glory to God.  I just realized that I have a tendency to take things like this for granted.  Today I was reminded of this because I was complaining** about the awful rain (my horse's stall floods if it rains hard) and a bunch of other things :)  But then I thought "Wow, this rain is actually kind of pretty--God is so creative.  And, although there's a leak in my boot, I'm thankful I have boots.  And, although I'm not really happy that I have to be out here in the pouring rain taking care of this nasty flooding problem, I'm soooo thankful that I have a horse!"  Even though I could have kept complaining (I was still a little irritated) God showed me that I should be thankful for what I have instead of complaining about it--it's all a matter of how you look at things.

So, be extra thankful for what God has blessed you with.  Especially if it's something you normally take for granted.  And, if you're tempted to complain, find the positive side and see how God has blessed you instead of focusing on the negative.  Remember to thank God for everything!

If you want to read the whole story about what happened with the flooding and the rain, check out this post on my other blog.  Never surrender!

*Why do we call an irresponsible driver "reckless."  You'd think that those drivers would have lots of wrecks.  We should call the responsible drivers "wreckless" because they're probably the ones who really are wreck-less. hehe :)

**Actually I was complaining to myself.  There was no one else outside, so I sounded like a total idiot. lol

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why do we celebrate "Easter"?

Now the post title may sound a little weird.  I'm not questioning why we celebrate Christ's rising from the grave.  If Christ didn't come back to life our faith would be nothing.  I'm questioning why we call the day Easter.

Apparently there's an ancient pagan goddess of Spring, called Eastre, had a festival in the Spring.  I checked several places about the origin of the Easter bunny and the eggs and found a few different stories.  A few websites said that rabbits and birds were symbols of fertility and that's why it was used in the pagan celebration of Spring.  On the other hand, while reading my rabbit 4-H handbook, I do a rabbit 4-H project every year, it said that the pagan goddess Eastre transformed a bird into a rabbit.  This rabbit was so thankful for the transformation that laid some colored eggs in gratitude.

So, why do Christians still call our celebration of Christ's Resurrection "Easter"?  Most of the sources I read agreed that the Christians had used the celebration of the Resurrection to replace the pagan Springtime festival--both occurred around the same time.  And because of that, we ended up with the name "Easter" and the bunny and eggs as well.

So . . . why do Christians still call it Easter?  I don't know about you, but I'm going to call this Sunday "Resurrection Day."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why do bad things happen?

Hey, everyone!  So sorry I haven't posted in awhile.  I just realized it's been almost two months since my last post.  I could give you plenty of ridiculous excuses . . . but they'd just be excuses :p  I do have one legitimate reason I haven't posted in awhile (well this reason only covers like two or three weeks).  My grandmother has been very ill and in and out of ICU since December and for a couple of weeks I was in FL with her.  But, as I said, that only covers a few weeks . . .

Speaking of my grandmother, it's been really stressful these last four months.  There have been times when we thought she was better and even talked about bringing her home.  But more often she takes a turn for the worse and we wonder how much longer she's going to make it.  This time of uncertainty has been difficult for me.  When I'm in FL with my family my job is usually to watch the kids so that the other adults can either work or spend time at the hospital.  But the few times I actually did get to go to the hospital were eye-opening.  I always kept my grandmother in my prayers, but it doesn't always seem real to me until I actually see her in the hospital and see her fighting.  Other times it seems so unreal and distant, like it's not even happening.  I don't know what else to pray anymore.  I feel like I've been praying the same thing over and over again.

That brings me to the point of this post.  Why do bad things happen?  Why is there murder?  Why is there suffering?  Why is there still slavery, abortion, rape?  Why has my grandmother had to linger in between life and death for four months?  Any worldview absolutely must answer those questions.  And, only one gives a satisfactory answer.

Let's take a look at how other worldviews explain why bad things happen. From a naturalistic worldview evil does not exist because the physical world is the only thing that exists.  Evil is just bad luck.  What?  Don't tell me evil doesn't exist!  That is certainly not a good explanation of evil.  Other religions--such as Eastern religions--say that the physical world is an illusion and therefore evil is just an illusion.  Ok, so if evil is just an illusion . . . why does it hurt so much?  Islam doesn't have a satisfactory answer either.  They say that any evil was ordained by Allah--so all of the terrorist attacks were approved and allowed by Allah.

Christianity, on the other hand, offers the only satisfactory answer.  Our world is a fallen world.  When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, sin entered into God's perfect world.  But, why couldn't God have created Adam and Eve perfect so they wouldn't eat the fruit?  Adam and Eve had to have a free will so they could choose to love God.  God wanted their love for Him to be their choice.  Forcing someone to love you is not real love at all.  So, because Adam and Eve had free-will, they made the bad decision to eat the fruit.

Many people say that because there is evil in this world, there is not all-good, all-powerful God.  If there were an omnibenevolent, omnipotent God he would want to and would have the power to destroy evil.  So, since there is evil, there must not be a God.  But, we know that there is still evil because God has not yet destroyed it.  One day God will destroy evil.

Another amazing thing about Christianity is that our God suffers with us.  He truly cares for us.  I'm sure you know the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept."  Now even though this verse is usually known for being the shortest verse in the entire Bible, it should be known for the compassion Jesus is showing.  When He sees the distress of Lazarus' sisters because of their brother's death, Jesus weeps with them.  And, the most obvious example of Christ's compassion and love for us is His choice to suffer for us on the cross.  Our God has truly suffered more than any of us.

Back to my grandmother, she went into the hospital in December for triple bypass surgery and just never recovered.  She has had just about every health complication possible since then.  Am I supposed to think this is bad luck?  Or an illusion?  Or approved by the god, Allah?  There is suffering in this world because of sin.  This is a fallen world.  And, that's the only satisfactory answer. And, even though my grandmother is suffering I know that the Lord cares for us.  It's especially in times of trial that we need to remember that God suffered in our place.  And remember that one day all this suffering will be gone.  Bad things will happen.  But, although you will most definitely suffer, never surrender!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why the New Testament is reliable

Ok, so now that I've given some evidence for the accuracy of the Old Testament, I'm going to do the same thing for the New Testament.  So here's some bibliographic evidence, internal evidence, and external evidence.

Bibliographic - There are way more copies of the New Testament than any other ancient manuscript.  There are around 25,000 copies.  The manuscript with the second highest number of copies is Homer's Iliad.  Guess how many copies (it doesn't come even close).  Only 643, compared to the New Testament's 25,000.  The firsts copies are also closer than any other document.  The earliest copy is within 50 yrs, and the earliest complete copy of the New Testament is within 225 years.  Other texts don't have copies for at least 400 years--most are over 1,000 years for the first copy.

Internal - There are no known contradictions.  If something doesn't match up, there has been, so far, an explanation for it.  And, just because it hasn't been explained yet, doesn't mean that it won't be explained eventually.  For example it appears that the accounts of Judas' death as told in Matthew contradicts that of Acts.  Matthew says that Judas hung himself, and Acts says that Judas fell in a field and his body burst open.  Now, the only way that this could happen is if Judas hung himself above a field to fall in to.  Sure enough, the site that is considered to be where Judas died is a field beside a cliff.

External - Many other writers from the time of Christ confirm the truth of the gospels (I had some great quotes from New Evidence that Demands a Verdict--but, I don't have the book with me.)  Josephus is a good example of another writer confirming events in the gospels.  Several times he refers to writings in the New Testament.

Hope that helps.  If you have any questions please leave a comment!

Never surrender!

Why the Old Testament is reliable

So, why is the Old Testament reliable?  I'll show some bibliographic evidence, internal evidence, and external evidence.

Bibliographic Evidence - Because of how many years the documents would have had to survive, there aren't as many copies of the Old Testament as there are of the New Testament.  But, throughout the years these copies are 95% the same.  And these 5% of differences are because of typos and slight spelling variations--none of the meaning of a text is changed.  Compare that to the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  There are hardly any copies of this text and there are major differences between copies as well--the meaning of certain passages is totally changed.  Also, there are the Dead Sea Scrolls.  These are a thousand years older than the previous oldest copy of the Old Testament and still they are accurate.

Internal Evidence - If something is found in the Bible that is a contradiction then it cannot be true.  Although there can be statements that appear to contradict, there is always an explanation (even if we have not found it yet).  For example, Proverbs 26:4 says "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him."  While Proverbs 26:5 says, "Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes."  These statements appear to contradict.  But, do they really?  Verse 4 says do not answer a fool in the same way and look like a fool yourself.  Verse 5 says to answer a fool and tell him of his folly so he does not think he is wise.  These verses do not contradict each other, but rather compliment each other.

External Evidence (Texts) - The Bible records the names of many foreign kings which, of course, were also recorded in other texts from that time.  The amazing thing is that, although I think I read that there were some spelling variations, these names were essentially accurate.  Compare that to the records of Manetho the High Priest (of something?).  He recorded the names of the kings of various Egyptian dynasties.  But, when these records are compared to other records of these same kings it is found that less than half of his names can be confirmed.

External Evidence (Archaeological) - There is new evidence being found all the time, but here are some examples.  There are ruins of cities and indication of commerce where the Bible records the location of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The interesting thing about that is there is also evidence of an earthquake that wiped out the cities.  At the ruins of Jericho the walls appear to have fallen outward instead of inward.  And probably the most intriguing--to me at least--is that the Bible claims that when Saul died his armor was kept in the Canaanite temple of Ashtaroth and his head was kept in the Philistine temple of Dagon.  Skeptics said that it was impossible for the temples of two enemies to be in the same location.  But, there were two temples discovered that were connected by a hallway.  Guess what, one temple was for the Canaanite goddess Ashtaroth, and the other temple at the other end of the hallway was for the Philistine god, Dagon.

There is plenty of other evidence as well--I'm not trying to write a book or anything.  If you have any questions, I'll answer them as soon as I can (Barbara, I'll get to yours asap!).  Oh, and I really do recommend reading Josh McDowell's book New Evidence that Demands a Verdict.  I saw that Amazon has copies for around $7.

Never Surrender!

But what is truth?

So, if there is absolute truth, what is it?  God is truth.  And as Christians we find His truth in the Holy Scriptures, aka the Bible.  Most Christians just accept the Bible as truth.  Why?  Well, probably because that's what we were taught in Sunday School.  But, what will you say when someone (an atheist most likely) questions your belief in the absolute authority of the Bible?  I hope your answer won't be "umm . . . uh . . . I don't know."

Why is the truth of the Bible so important?  If the Bible is not true, then Christianity is completely false.  It is a lie.  I will not dedicate my life to something false.  That is why it is so important to know why the whole Bible is true.

If we want to determine if a document is historically accurate, it is run through several tests.  It is tested bibliographically--which means that we check to see if there are any inconsistencies in the copies.  Then there is the internal evidence test which determines if there are any inconsistencies or contradictions within the text.  And lastly we check for external evidence and look at artifacts and other texts from that time.

If you want more information I recommend reading Josh McDowell's New Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

Never Surrender!