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Hard Questions the Church is Asking (6 of 7)

March 31, 2010

Why are you a Christian? How do you know Christianity is right?

Here are the many areas as reasons why you believe. This one is a bit longer, so hang on.

  1. I believe because my parents believe.

When I was younger, I thought this was a very lame reason to have faith in God. As I study Scripture and grow in my understanding and experience with faith, I have come to appreciate the influence and power of ‘family’ in spreading faith in God. There are still many cultures around the world that deeply respect the decisions of others and it has a profound influence over people’s decisions. The Bible teaches that parents are expected to teach their children about faith and pass on their faith in God to their children (Deuteronomy 6; 2nd Timothy 1). Many would even consider this way of spreading faith to be oppressive. But today, in the church at Northside, we figure out life and faith on our own as one of the highest noble goals.

  1. I believe because I have considered the evidence.

There are many today who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior because of the evidence they cannot ignore. Just yesterday, I met a man that chose to follow Jesus all the way to baptism because of the facts he had researched about the life of Christ. After being presented with the evidence (we call it apologetics) about Jesus, he was convinced and had nothing else to do but dedicated his whole life to God. Pretty cool, right? Many of you share a similar story. Josh McDowell (check out www.josh.org) and others have dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel by presenting it in a logical and systematic way. God has not left us with a mindless, make believe faith. Many Christians are strengthened in their faith by examining the evidences.

  1. I believe because of the work of God through His Spirit.

I believe that conversion (belief, repentance, confession, baptism) is ultimately a work of God through His Spirit. God uses the family. God uses the evidence around us. God uses His Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (John 16). One day Jesus had this very insightful conversation with a man in John chapter 3. In this exchange Jesus teaches that everyone that is ‘born-again’ must be born of the Spirit. This was somewhat a new and thought-provoking idea in Jesus’ day. It is important to remember that we should share the truth about Jesus as we pray for God to reveal Himself. This is why I always pray for the people that I am meeting with. Always. Do you?

I am sure that there are many more reasons as to why people choose to follow Jesus with their entire lives. I just listed the three most common ones I see.

One thing to remember – family history does not make a particular belief system right. There are many faith systems that are not true. This is why we need to pass on the truth about Jesus to our own families and help others around us that the truth that can be found in God’s Son.

I think regularly why I’m a Christian. My faith is a direct result of all three listed above. I am grateful that God uses many different methods to prove Himself over and over. Feel free to send me the reasons why you believe at zachs@northsideweb.org. I’d love to hear from you. Happy Easter church, praise God for an empty grave!

Zach

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March 31, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

51 year old oven dies and lives again!

March 30, 2010

We have a built-in oven in our house that was installed when the house was built. That oven is now 51 years old. It is amazing to me that an appliance that old still works. I think you could classify it as an antique, which makes me wonder if someone might classify me as an antique. I’m sure some of our younger people at church may think so, but I’m pretty sure that some of us “more mature” folks wouldn’t see it that way.

My son-in-law turned the oven on a few weeks ago to bake a pizza. It was my son-in-law, not me! The heating element caught fire and it burned out. Yes, the smoke alarms went off! Okay, they go off when I’m cooking too, but for a different reason! Usually in my house, where there is smoke, I’m usually cooking! But it wasn’t me! HONEST! Don’t worry, it was a small fire – contained in the oven! But none-the-less “old-faithful” was dead! No more pies, cakes, cookies, meatloaf, pizza! OUCH! I like to eat too much, what would we do? We had been talking of “remodeling” the kitchen for years, but it just wasn’t a good time for us to do that. And when you begin to remodel, not only is it costly, but it would involve an extensive project for us that would involve at least 2 rooms.

Good News! Our 51 year old “built-in” oven is back from the dead! (*I am in the resurrection business, you know!) It’s amazing what a $3.81 part and a little wiring ingenuity can do! Of course, this does mean that the kitchen remodeling project will have to go onto the back burner now! Sorry Paula!

I’m glad that God is in the resurrection business too! That’s what Easter is all about! We get “broken” too! I’m so glad that God just doesn’t throw us out for a newer model when we sin! In fact, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) God is patient with us, not willing that any should perish! (2 Peter 3:9)

John 11:25 (NIV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;

We can live again after we die in Heaven, a perfect paradise! That’s what Easter is all about! That’s why Easter is the biggest celebration each year! We can live again! And that’s a whole lot more exciting that an “old oven” being resurrected! I hope you’ll join us for one of our 5 Easter Worship Services Easter Sunday morning at Northside Christian Church!

Pastor Robin

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Robin | | 3 Comments

The Astounding Evidence for God’s Existence: Philosophy/Morals (Part 4 of 4)

March 29, 2010

“…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” -Romans 2:15

How do we know right from wrong? How do we know that there is such a thing as right and wrong? Did over time they just evolve out of nowhere or are they written in our hearts given to us by a moral lawgiver? These are some of the questions that will be answered as we conclude our look at the evidence for God’s existence this month. First, let’s look at the basis on the moral proof argument.

First, when we discuss right and wrong actions, we are engaging in the field called “morality” or “ethics.” The definition of morality is the standards of conduct that are generally accepted as right or virtuous. Ethics then is just the system of morality that governs how a person or group should behave.  The entire moral proof can be summarized in three simple, short sentences:

1) Every moral law had a moral lawgiver.

2) There is a moral law.

3) Therefore, it had a moral lawgiver.

Every moral law had a moral lawgiver. We know that laws do not emerge on their own; they must be given or legislated. The laws that govern the United States did not appear out of thin air; countless hours were spent on formulating and issuing them to our society. Another example is medical prescriptions. They are not prescribed by themselves; they need prescribers called “doctors.”  So we also know that the moral law written within us needs a lawgiver and this lawgiver we know as God.

So how do we know that laws did not just evolve over time? Moral principles are discovered, not invented. Moral reforms such as abolishing slavery, giving women the right to vote, and giving civil rights for African-Americans make no sense unless objective moral law exists. Even if it took several centuries for the abolishing of slavery that does not suggest that mortality just evolves over the course of human history. Rather, it readily suggests that moral principles can be discovered and are worth pursuing, even at the very high cost.
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March 29, 2010 Posted by | Guest Post Kyle Jackson | | Leave a comment

Do not be afraid

March 25, 2010

What if God said to you, “do not be afraid?” What would go through your mind? How would you react? Fear is an amazing emotion that can take the strongest person and send them into a spiraling, out of control, unstable bowl of mush. Over the years I have been on roofs, hanging off of a 40 foot ladder, in dark and deep underground tunnels showing no fear. Not many things bring forth fear except for the messy flu; I do not like things to return when they had been swallowed earlier. I am afraid of something happening to my family when I am not there. Sometimes I have no fear of telling others who Jesus, though struggle with letting others know who He is to me.

Do not be afraid, but trust in Him. Do not be afraid, rely on Him. Do not be afraid, He will protect you.

Now you have been told three times to not be afraid. God told Ezekiel three times in chapter 2 verse 6: And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.” God told him three times in this verse and Ezekiel never wavered even when he would have to stand up and represent God with His truth. Ezekiel had to step up and confidently enlighten others with the truth of who God is and His expectations. Can we not waver and confidently as we represent God? This fear sometimes stymies our attempts to live out our life for Him, it is a chain that can be used against us and ultimately against Him. He is telling you right now, so do not fear but live your life out loud.

Mark

March 25, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | Leave a comment

Hard Questions the Church is Asking (5 of 7)

March 24, 2010

Where is the line between being responsible for your family (financially), and giving it all up for the Lord?

Let’s begin with the idea of being responsible. I don’t know everyone’s definition of what responsible is, what it looks like. It is true that it would probably be irresponsible to force others to care for the basic necessities of your family because you have given away all of your income. The apostle Paul warned Christians in the ancient city of Thessalonica to work hard in order to care for their own family and other families in need (1st Thessalonians 5:13-14).

I haven’t known a family that was so dedicated to giving everything away to the point they became dependant on others to care for them. I’m not saying it’s never happened, I’m saying it’s rare. Most of us live under the pretense that we are taking care of the needs of our family. In reality, that creates an excuse to continue our self-centered living.

As followers of Jesus, we dedicate and commit everything we have for the advance of the Kingdom. It is wrong for us to believe or behave like we still have the right to hold greedily to our time, abilities, possessions, and income. God’s Word warns that our problem stems from what we won’t give, not from what we have.

I would love for you to start living like you believe God’s kingdom is the greatest investment on earth (it is). We need to live like we believe the riches of this earth are only temporary (they are). We need to stop making excuses and admit that we are selfish (we are), that we’re self-centered people struggling with the demands of Jesus. I will admit it (you can too).

The Bible teaches that if we don’t want o honor God with all that we have (our money included), then we are free to keep it. We can hold onto and even enjoy everything we own. And when the final curtain falls, the temporary treasures we invested in will be our only reward. If you choose to hold onto your money, live it up. You better enjoy them as best you can.

Want another option? I do.

Give your money to God and trust Him for something greater. His promise is not just about heaven. It means that God is going to bless you in this life, on earth, if you choose to give to Him. How much should you give? Until it hurts.

Zach

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

Why did the Atheist go to church?

March 23, 2010

Honest, it’s NO JOKE!  I saw the question on a website!  And of course, it made me wonder!!!!   Why would an atheist go to church?  Now on that same page I also saw –

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Maybe those were some of the reasons an atheist would go to church! I’m not sure. I know we don’t cover those topics! I haven’t been able to find those in the Bible!  Although, while the church might cover many topics, I pretty sure none of those would be a ‘real’ reason for an atheist to go to church.  Now I did hear one time that Atheists have their own holiday!  April 1st – April Fools Day!  Because:

Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Why would an atheist go to church?  If it were a joke, I guess a good answer would be to get to the other side!   And that would be absolutely correct!  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)  So, like it or not – we are all eventually going to get to the other side of life.   It would be a very good answer, indeed!

I had boss one time tell me that he was in a fighter plane in the war.  When the plane came under fire, the gunner, a self-proclaimed atheist, was so scared that he started praying!  And because he was so nervous, he held down his microphone button so that everyone heard the “atheist” praying!  I remember my boss telling me that when it came down to a real life and death issue there were really very few real atheists!

Why would an atheist go to church?  I believe an atheist would/could go to church for the same reason that many go to church in the first place!  They are looking and seeking!   They know the way they have been living just isn’t doing anything good for them.  They need hope!  They need life!  They are hopeless and helpless!

Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Acts 17:27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

So,  “Don’t give up!”  If you have an atheist in your family, if you have an atheist friend or work with an atheist, “don’t give up!”  They will have some of the same Innate human needs as any one would have. Don’t be afraid to share your life and hope with them! Don’t be afraid to invite them to our Easter services!  They might just take you up on it! They might just find what they are looking for!  I mean, why else would an atheist go to church?

Pastor Robin

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Robin | | 3 Comments

The Astounding Evidence for God’s Existence: Intelligent Design/Science (Part 3 of 4)

March 22, 2010

“We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity; but we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations.“  -Biochemist Franklin M. Harold

Today more than ever it is believed that science is the highest form of knowledge. Science is seen as rational and the absolute truth. If it can’t be tested by the scientific method; then it cannot be true or rational.  Faith and science are seen as two completely different worldviews at odds with each other. The truth of the matter is that science actually supports theistic belief. Over the last fifty years or so, with the advance of technology research methods we’re beginning to see how truly remarkable life is with fine-precision and complexity.

The design proof, popularized by William Parley, is the second of three major proofs for the existence of God. Like the cosmological proof, the design proof can be stated in three simple sentences:

1) Every design had a designer.

2) The universe has a design.

3) Therefore, the universe has a design.

Every design has a designer. This is a very obvious statement that no one dares to debate. Every building, painting, piece of clothing, or computer program comes from the mind of a designer. Intelligent design doesn’t come together at random any more than a dictionary could come from an explosion from a print shop! Design simply states a designer is responsible.

The universe has a design. How do we know this? By looking around and observing the universe. The design we see is intricate and complex. One example of this is by looking at a single-cell animal. In a single-cell animal there is the same amount of information as one thousand volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. If it reasonable to believe that computers, cameras, and cars need intelligent causes like humans to create them, then why do people find it so hard to understand the need for an intelligent cause of human existence? We’ve become blind to the truth all around us; ignoring it and accepting lies.  “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” -Romans 1:19, 20. We have no excuse not to see that everything before us was specially created for a unique purpose in mind. God has made it clear that He is behind the design of life!
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March 22, 2010 Posted by | Guest Post Kyle Jackson | | 1 Comment

Keeping the Message Simple

March 18, 2010

Oh, many years ago (okay back in high school) I was part of our local Junior Achievement group. After the business selections and making and selling candle sconces, so thankful for those with a big hearts toward the high school students, looking back I can not believe anyone bought one. During that year I was selected with several others to represent our area at the National Junior Achievement awards dinner in Cleveland. I was selected to escort George Mecherle Jr. from the airport, to his room, and finally to the stage where he was to accept an award on behalf of his grandfather, George J. Mecherle, the founder of State Farm Insurance. During that time I met the master of ceremonies for the event, Walter Cronkite, the legendary news anchor. As I talked with Mr. Cronkite I was mesmerized by his voice, articulation, and mannerisms. He brought excitement to a young man as if he were about to announce a major event that just happened. He had my attention even if we really never watched him on TV.

So how can Walter Cronkite grab my attention and draw me into the message of the moment, which happened to simply be what we were eating for dinner that evening. His message was simple and plainly stated but hooked me. Roll many more years back and another message was clear, simple and plainly stated. We, the Pharisees, can not get along with Christ. He must go. Somehow the simple message that needed to be conveyed by a few was able to affect so many to confuse who Christ really is. He came and lived a perfect life so how could a few articulate Pharisees convince the crowd to crucify Him? It was not necessarily because of who He was but what He was doing and sharing. Convinced that their voice was about to be lost, He must go. We have many moments to share and lead others to know who Christ really is, our voice does not have to be explosive, mesmerizing, or articulate to convey the simple truth that Jesus died for me, He died for you, and conquered it all by breaking free from the chains of death. Don’t over think this, simply live it.

Mark

March 18, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | Leave a comment

Hard Questions the Church is Asking (4 of 7)

March 17, 2010

If being a Christian is the only true way to God, why is there so much resistance in this world to the Gospel?

Think about the question for a moment…….if the Christian way had very little resistance, it would mean that being like God was easy, natural, undisciplined. If the Christian way was easy, then what Jesus did on the cross was a piece of cake. I’m a firm believer that the church was/is at its best when it was persecuted, martyred, illegal, and unpopular. The church in Acts faced anything but acceptance, and she was beautiful in God’s eyes. Jesus says in John 15:`8 that if the world hates us, take comfort that the world hated Him first. We’re going to face resistance.

As much as I want the message of Jesus to spread, I am aware that the audience is usually full of unwilling participants. I think I would have a difficult time facing the resistance around me in my life if Jesus’ words promised me an easy time sharing His unique and convicting message. Jesus doesn’t call us to “pick up our lazy boy and chill”, He calls us to pick up a cross and follow Him. The world is going to have a problem with that.

The good/hard news is that Jesus clearly promised us that since the world hated Him first, the world would also hate His followers (you and me). We are sent to remind people that they are sinners and if they do not get their lives reconciled to God through a commitment to Jesus, they will be punished for their sins and separated from God for eternity.

The Scriptures call that place hell.

When you think about how raw and penetrating the good news about Jesus is, and how self-centered people are, wouldn’t you be surprised if there was no resistance? Wouldn’t you wonder if there was something wrong?

Truthfully, I am never surprised when people choose to live their lives on their own terms and reject the way of Jesus. It breaks my heart, but it doesn’t catch me off guard. But sometimes, I meet people that hear about Jesus and gratefully embrace God’s grace by choosing to follow Him. And that’s why we continue to be the church in every area of our lives.

There is a very clear teaching of Jesus that we all should remember as we witness to those close to us – the way of the world is wide and leads to destruction and almost everyone chooses this way to live, but the way of Jesus is narrow and only a few will find it (paraphrase of Matthew 7:13-14).

Zach

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

What if you look healthy, but you’re not?

March 16, 2010

Recently a very healthy looking man came up to me as he was leaving church.  He told me that he wanted me to do his funeral.  I said “sure”, but did not expect that day to come for a long time.  The problem with this man is that even though he looked perfectly healthy, but he was not!  He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer! He looked like the picture of health! He showed no sign of sickness or fatigue.  He still worked, but his days were numbered and they were short!  Very shortly after that conversation, I visited him in hospice care and then conducted his funeral service.

I don’t mean to be morbid, but I do want to make a comparison between that situation and the health of many churches. (Since this is kind of a church-like blog!)

Thomas Rainer, a church growth expert and author of several books and publications states that he has seen this countless times. His team would go into a church for a consultation, and would begin interviewing church members. They would hear from many of the congregants that their church was healthy and thriving. They began to see common warning signs. They would begin to conclude that the apparently healthy body was not really healthy at all.

The church was sick. Some of the churches were really sick. Here are five warning signs that his team saw in these apparently healthy churches.  Though the list is not exhaustive, these five issues were common. Some of the churches had a one or two on the list; some had all five.

Five Warning Signs

1. The church has few outwardly focused ministries. Most of the budget dollars in the church are spent on the desires and comforts of church members. The ministry staff spends most of its time taking care of members, with little time to reach out and minister to the community the church is supposed to serve.

2. The dropout rate is increasing. Members are leaving for other churches in the community, or they are leaving the local church completely. A common exit interview theme we heard was a lack of deep biblical teaching and preaching in the church.
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March 16, 2010 Posted by | Robin | | 1 Comment

The Astounding Evidence For God’s Existence: Cosmology/Astronomy

March 15, 2010

Set aside the many competing explanations of the Big Bang; something made an entire cosmos out of nothing. It is this realization–that something transcendent started it all–which has hard-science types…using terms like ‘miracle.‘ ” – Gregg Easterbrook

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” -Genesis 1:1. When we first open up our Bibles this is what we read but do we ever sit down and really think about what the implications of this verse means?  Do we truly grasp how amazingly profound it is that a God existed before time began and decided to display His glory by creating a physical realm that we call the universe? Philosophers, scientists, and people across all ages, cultures, languages, and tribes have asked the question: where did we come from? Some say it was all by chance and the universe came out of nothing. Others say the universe is merely an illusion and none of this is real. Yet another explanation is that the universe is eternal and has always been here. We’ll briefly look into why these three assumptions are false and why the cosmological argument makes logical sense.

The first illogical theory of the universe is that it’s an illusion. Simple logic will dispute this argument. An illusion by definition is something that’s deceptive, or unreal. If it’s an illusion it’s not really there, we can’t correspond it to reality.  Since we can touch, see, taste, smell, and hear the reality of the universe around us; this theory doesn’t have any substance to it.

The second illogical theory of the universe is that it’s eternal.  Again by looking at the law of Thermodynamics we can see that this is false:

  • 1st Law: The total amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant.
  • 2nd Law: The amount of energy available for work is running out, or entropy is increasing to a maximum.

Follow this link to continue reading Kyle’s article

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Guest Post Kyle Jackson | , | Leave a comment

In a Rut?

March 11, 2010

The other day the fire department that I volunteer with was going through a driver training scenario to practice and develop a comfortable feel for the large trucks. Since it was dark out, we could only see the cones and they provided the direction we were to go. As we all drove, we followed the path that had been set by the driver who had gone before. Afterwards as we cleaned up the area and picked up the cones, we found in the asphalt parking two ruts that have the same foot print of our largest truck. We had created two divots around six to eight feet in length and two feet wide. One great thing: we all followed the same path; not so great: we followed the same path and with all of the moisture in the ground, we created ruts.

Throughout the Bible we read the different moments that we are to follow Christ. He has set an example for us as you can read in 1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” Oh how I desire to follow His example and live my life out loud for Him. The path, the rut, that we are following Him that has been traveled by those who have discipled us should not leave a ho-hum feeling with no excitement whatsoever. He has this ultimate power and love for us that we so often take for granted, He wants you to follow and lead. God desires not to be part of our lives but to be our life. Live that life for Him.

Mark

March 11, 2010 Posted by | Mark | | 1 Comment