A.L.I.V.E.—The “L” Is For Lives Changed

A man named Paul was visiting Athens. While he was in the marketplace, he began to talk with people about Jesus Christ, specifically how Jesus had been crucified and then raised back to life.

His comments caught the attention of two groups of philosophers: the Epicureans who thought all religions were made up and were simply a crutch for the weak-minded and superstitious, and the Stoics who said that a divine power was in everything but wasn’t a Person that could be personally known. These groups said to Paul, “You are presenting some new teachings and strange ideas that we have never heard before! Would you come and address our next meeting?”

In 2004, renowned atheist Anthony Flew announced something that was a “strange idea” to the ears of his followers. Flew presented one of his first papers on atheism at the Socratic Club at Magdalen College, where the Christian literary giant C.S. Lewis served as the chairman. Over the years Flew had sharpened his rhetoric to become one of the best known and most outspoken atheists on the worldwide stage.

Yet in 2004, an 81-year-old Anthony Flew remarked, “I simply had to go where the evidence led,” as Flew announced to the world: there IS a God.

“My discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith,” wrote Flew in his book There Is A God, which is why last week I shared the first way we can know Jesus is alive in “A” is for apologetics. Today I submit to you the second way one can know that Jesus is A.L.I.V.E.: Lives changed.

Paul, who was asked to speak to the philosophers in Athens about his “strange ideas,” had been given the name Saul by his parents. When it came to religion, Saul took a backseat to no one! He was a purebred Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin (which gave Israel its very first king, who was also named Saul). Saul called himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews” because he kept the Law of Moses and the strict rules of the Pharisees absolutely faultlessly.

When he heard about Jesus (who claimed to be God), and about the followers of Jesus who claimed He had been resurrected from the dead, Saul persecuted these Christians so vehemently that he not only had many of them thrown into prison, but he had many of them killed as well.

That all came to a complete stop when Saul met Jesus for himself! You can read how Saul retold this story in Acts 22:1-16. After this encounter, Saul’s life was 180-degrees different! He even changed his name to Paul to signify his new outlook. Now he was just as adamant to tell people about Jesus as he was previously to harass and persecute Christians.

Paul’s conversion came at a steep price. The Jews with whom he used to associate now turned violently against him. Numerous times they attempted to kill him. In addition, Paul’s newfound faith in Jesus caused him to be persecuted by the Romans as well. The Roman Emperors wanted people to say, “Caesar is lord” but Paul and the other Christians were declaring, “Jesus is Lord.” Paul ended up being executed under Emperor Nero.

Paul had numerous opportunities to recant, but he never came close to doing so. His life was one that was under constant duress and distress and danger preciously because he refused to back down from his claim that Jesus was alive!

Paul isn’t alone. Millions of people around the globe have come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. Many, like Paul, have been harassed for their faith and some even violently persecuted and martyred, and yet they so firmly believed that Jesus is alive that they were willing to go to their early grave with “Jesus is my Lord” still on their lips!

What about you? Have you met Jesus for yourself?

Check out this video where my friend Scott tells his personal story of how an encounter with Jesus has completely changed the trajectory of his life.

Join me next Sunday as we continue with our 5-part series I can know Jesus is A.L.I.V.E. because of… where we will be looking at the letter “I.” You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. If you missed the previous lesson, check out “A” is for apologetics by clicking here.

How Great Is Our God (book review)

Mark Gilroy has given both Christian believers and skeptics a unique overview of profound Christian thinkers throughout the entire “AD” calendar. How Great Is Our God is a year-long journey with those historians, eye-witnesses, preachers, and martyrs who have truly captured the sentiment how great is our God!

From the book’s introduction—

How Great Is Our God is compiled to take you on a journey through every century and every tradition of the Christian faith. We want you to experience the heart and thoughts of Christians from the birth of the church until today. …

You will find daily readings that have been selected because they are considered great and enduring thoughts that have contributed to the spiritual growth of Christians in every age, but also because some of the readings represent seminal moments in the history of Christian thought and Western civilization.”

You can read this book by the date on the calendar, or you can read the various writings in the chronological order in which they were written. Although some doctrinal statements may vary from author to author, truly the underlying theme through every age and every author is the greatness and praiseworthiness of our God.

Reading this book I discovered…

  • …how influential people addressed cultural issues in their time through a biblical worldview
  • …an increased appreciation for the historicity of the Christian faith
  • …new insights into Christian theology
  • …authors I may have overlooked
  • …an invigorated passion to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3)

From church history buffs, to pastors, to theologians … all should be pleased with the content they will find in How Great Is Our God.

The World’s Last Night (book review)

I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan! His perspective on the spiritual world is unequaled in any other author I have read. In The World’s Last Night, Lewis shares seven essays ranging from how our prayers really impact things, to life on other planets, to the end of our world as we know it.

The title of this book (and the title of the concluding chapter) are taken from a question by John Donne: “What if this present were the world’s last night?” So all of Lewis’ essays are written from that perspective. If this is the world’s last night, why should we keep praying? If demons knew this was the world’s last night, why would they keep on tempting? If atheists knew this was the world’s last night, would they keep arguing the same way?

As with all of his writings, C.S. Lewis has a unique knack of giving his readers a perspective that is totally original. His skills in philosophy, literature, and understanding the human heart are unparalleled! If you are ready to have your horizons expanded, these essays will not disappoint!

(And for any fans of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape himself makes a special appearance as he gives a toast in hell that is sure to evoke both smiles and chagrins.)

More Than A Carpenter (book review)

more-than-a-carpenterHolidays are usually really good times for Christians to start up a conversation about their faith. Especially Christmas. C’mon, Christ’s name is the main part of CHRISTmas, right?! But I realize as well that some folks are reluctant to begin such a conversation because they think they might be at a loss as to what to say. This is where More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell will be an excellent ally.

Christians and atheists alike found More Than A Carpenter compelling reading when it was first published nearly 40 years ago. Now the book has been given a makeover, incorporating new discoveries that have further validated the book’s content, and adding a new chapter by Sean McDowell specifically addressing the “new atheists.”

Jesus is an historical character. He actually lived and walked and died and was resurrected in places that are verified by historical records. And yet Jesus was so much more than merely a person in history. His life impacted history in ways that are still being discovered today. His life is still changing the trajectory of people’s lives today.

Clearly Jesus was much more than merely a first century carpenter! 

In easily-readable language, Josh and Sean arm you with all of the evidence you will need to have compelling conversations about Jesus.

  • You will learn about the historical accuracy of the authors who recorded the details of Jesus Christ’s life.
  • You will learn what science, philosophy and archeology verify about His life.
  • You will get insight into the arguments that some atheists use to deny Christ’s deity, and how you can offer alternative facts to counteract those arguments.
  • And you will hear about Josh’s personal life-changing encounter with this Carpenter from first-century Israel.

This is a phenomenal book for you to read as we head into this CHRISTmas season. This is also a great resource for you to put into the hands of someone who is skeptical or even antagonistic toward the claims of Christians. In short: you will be better prepared to have meaningful conversations with others after you have read More Than A Carpenter!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

If you would like to access a ton of great resources associated with More Than A Carpenter, I highly recommend you check out the Josh McDowell Ministry’s store by clicking here.

7 Quotes From “The Philosophy Of Sin”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers always makes me think deeply, but The Philosophy Of Sin was a graduate-level, deep-thinking book on theology and philosophy for me! Check out my review of this book by clicking here. Below are some quotes I especially enjoyed.

“To people who are satisfied on too shallow a level the Bible is a book of impertinences, but whenever human nature is driven to the end of things, the Bible becomes the only Book and God the only Being in the world.”

“The life of nature is neither moral nor immoral; our bodies are neither moral nor immoral, we make them moral or immoral. Our Lord had a body, and we read that He hungered; it was not a sin for Him to be hungry, but it would have been a sin for Him to have eaten during the forty days in the wilderness, because His Father’s word at that time was that He should not eat. It is not a sin to have a body, to have natural appetites, it is a sin to refuse to sacrifice them at the word of God.”

“Lust simply means, ‘I must have this at once’; it may be a bodily appetite or a spiritual possession. The principal lust works on is, ‘I must have it at once, I cannot wait for God’s time, God is too indifferent,’ that is the way lust works.”

“If all Jesus Christ can do is to run a parallel counteraction with what satan can do, His right name is ‘Culture,’ not ‘Savior’; but His revealed nature was stated by the angel to Mary, and repeated over and over again, ‘Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.’ The slight views of salvation, the sympathetic drifty views that all Jesus Christ can do is to put in us a principle that counteracts another principle, will cause anyone who is got to the last limit to blaspheme God for a thing like that. It all comes from a flimsy, wrong view of sin. If that is all He can do, what is the good of calling Him Savior? … It is sin that He came to cope with; He did not come to cope with the poor little mistakes of men, they cope with their own mistakes; He came to give them a totally new stock of heredity, that is, He came to implant into them His own nature, so that satan’s power in the soul is absolutely destroyed, not counteracted.”

“This aspect of the death of Jesus takes us into a spiritual domain beyond the threshold of the thinking of the majority of us. The cry of the Cross, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ is unfathomable to us. The only ones—and I want to say this very deliberately—the only ones who come near the threshold of understanding the cry of Jesus are not the martyrs, they knew that God had not forsaken them, His presence was so wonderful; not the lonely missionaries who are killed or forsaken, they experience exultant joy, for God is with them when men forsake them: the only ones who come near the threshold of understanding the experience of God-forsakenness are men like Cain—‘My punishment is greater than I can bear’; men like Esau, ‘…an exceedingly bitter cry’; men like Judas. Jesus Christ knew and tasted to a fuller depth than any man could ever taste what it is to be separated from God by sin.”

“How Jesus Christ does cleanse our conscience! It is freedom not only from sin and the damage sin has done, but emancipation from the impairing left by sin, from all the distortions left in mind and imagination.”

“The conscience formed in us by the Holy Spirit makes us amazingly sensitive to the things that tell against the honor of God.”

I’ll be sharing other quotes from this book in the near future, and I also share an extensive passage from the current Chambers’ book I am reading every Thursday. If you want to be notified when those quotes are posted, please enter your email address in the box to the right and click “Sign me up!”

I share quotes from Oswald Chambers and other inspirational authors daily on both Tumblr and Twitter.

The Philosophy Of Sin (book review)

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersIt’s not often that philosophy and theology appear in the same sentence, let alone in the same book! But a special mind like Oswald Chambers is one who can masterfully pull that off, and he does so in his book The Philosophy Of Sin.

Chambers describes sin and salvation from sin like this: “Sin is the radical twist with a supernatural originator, and salvation is a radical readjustment with a supernatural Originator.” Philosophy is the science of getting to the root of the matter, applying all the wisdom we can muster. As you might image, in this book Chambers digs deeper than most theologians do, and thinks wider than most philosophers do.

Chambers takes a graduate-level look at topics like sin, redemption, salvation, judgment, backsliding, temptation, conscience, and humanity. This book is a real paradigm-expander and shouldn’t be read by anyone who is looking for some “light” reading. You will need to have your Bible open as you read this book, because Chambers will shine a light on biblical passages probably unlike anyone else has. But, wow!, what a payoff you will have from working through this weighty book!

If you are a seasoned Christian who is ready for a mental challenge, The Philosophy Of Sin is for you.

20 More Useful Maxims

Useful MaximsI have already shared two sets of maxims from Brian Ridolfi’s great book Useful Maxims (you can read them here and here). These are some additional maxims targeting particular topics…

Maxims On Sex & Relationships

  1. When two lovers give, they each receive.
  2. Loveless sex is listless sex, and commoditized sex is lobotomized sex.
  3. Women are the gatekeepers of virtue; lost women make lost civilizations.

Maxims On Science & Philosophy

  1. The difference between science and philosophy: science attempts to answer the how questions, and philosophy the why questions.
  2. The difference between sound and unsound philosophy: good philosophy justifies itself, bad philosophy justifies the philosopher.
  3. When science becomes a god, science becomes a fraud.
  4. Atheistic theories are not necessarily scientific, and theistic theories are not necessarily unscientific.
  5. In science, the facts make the case, but in evolution, the case makes the facts.
  6. What came first, the cell or the DNA?
  7. Creationism is the enemy of scientists, not science.
  8. The theory of evolution evolved from moral devolution.

Maxims On satan & Evil

  1. A godless world is a joyless world.
  2. All is rotten after God is forgotten, and all goes sour that is under satanic power.
  3. satan is no threat to God, he is a threat to man. He is not God’s adversary, he is man’s adversary.
  4. The devil cannot make you do anything; he just makes you believe you can do anything.
  5. The way to spot satan is to know Christ.
  6. satan is not to be feared, he is to be avoided.
  7. Evil which appears godly is the most insidious form of evil.
  8. The difference between evil spirits and evil men: evil spirits know they are dead, and evil men are dead because they do not know.
  9. Allowing evil to continue is the most evil act of all.

To read some of the other quotes from Useful Maxims that I am sharing, be sure to follow me on Twitter and on Tumblr, and check out my review of Useful Maxims here.

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