My Most Important Blog EVER

2021-01-30 News AnchorNews hits us faster than we can absorb it.  This began with television reporting back in the 60s and 70s of the last century.  The joke about our level of engagement came with a news anchor announcing, with a bright smile, “10 killed in hit-and-run on Broadway, film at 11.”

We are saturated 24/7, 1,440 minutes per day, with available information any time we look at our watches, phones or computers, most of which is unrelated to our daily lives, very little about which we can do anything, and most without consequence for any length of time, only lasting until the next broadcast or posting on social media.

But there IS something that matters, something integrally related to your life, something over which you have complete control, something that will last for all eternity: 
What will you do about the claims of Jesus, called the Christ? 

Jesus is the focal point of history, changing for over half the world the way we count the days of our lives ever since shortly after He walked on earth.  And He made some pretty audacious claims, so auspicious that I capitalize pronouns when I refer to Him.  Nothing particularly holy about capitalization, but simply to reflect that He is higher, better, greater (every positive superlative of which you can think) than any other human, past, present or future.

To understand who Jesus claimed to be one must read His biographies, which we call the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the first four books of the New Testament. (Many online sources are available and each one can be read in your native language in less than an hour; my favorite source is at Biblegateway.com where you can see if your language is listed.)

Even those who do not trust Him as what He claimed to be admit something unusual happened after He left the world, something that transformed His followers from meek and frightened, politically disenfranchised jellyfish to robust and daring defenders of what they had experienced.  What they experienced is recorded in Matthew 28, John 16 and 20, and Acts 1 and 2.  And all but one of them died rather than recant; only John survived to old age, but that was in exile on a prison island.

These disciples who had deserted Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, are next seen hiding in quiet rooms, afraid the High Priest, Sanhedrin or Roman authorities might be coming after them next.  Their political aspirations were dead, their leader had been crucified and the Jewish leaders had ensured that none of the disciples could steal His body.  They were confused and dismayed that the One they expected to lead Israel to international prominence, even over the Roman Empire, was dead and buried in a Roman-guarded sealed tomb.  How much worse could it get!?

But rather than getting worse, some women went to the grave in which Jesus was buried and found it empty, encountering angels who declared, He is not here, for He has risen!”  Mary Magdalene, hardly an archetype of integrity, did not believe the angels and came at first to announce to the disciples, who were cowering in their chamber, that the tomb was empty.  Two of the disciples, Peter and John, ran to the tomb to see for themselves and also found it empty.   But then Jesus met Mary Magdalene in the garden where His tomb was and showed her that He was alive!  A couple of others returned from Emmaeus and said they had seen Jesus alive!

In all of these encounters, the ones who knew Jesus best resisted the stories and did not understand the Old Testament scriptures and refused to believe tales of seeing Jesus.  They still could not think of the things He had taught them about His death!  It was just too much for a rational brain to take in . . . until He appeared to them in a locked room.  (They were still afraid and could not sort through the events that were happening faster than the Fall of the Berlin Wall in modern times.)   But when Jesus appeared to them, He showed them His wounds from the crucifixion and they finally believed.

So what did He claim about Himself? 
That He is the bread of life that came down from Heaven.
That He is the light of the world.
That He is the good shepherd.
That He is the resurrection and life.
That He is teacher and Lord.
That He is the way, the truth and the life.
That He is the true vine.
That He is not from this earth.
That He is King of the Jews.
That He is The I Am!  This is arguably His most significant claim to be God, as He claimed to be one with Father, the I AM.

2021-01-30 I AM

This short blog does not allow nearly adequate space for me to show you from the Bible all that it teaches of who Jesus is, but you are all intelligent and capable learned people.  Hey, you access a computer and blog! 😉  So do not take my word alone for this.  Read the Gospels and discover for yourself if you can trust this Jesus to be what He claimed to be.  What will you do?  You MUST do something, either admit these to be true or reject them to be false.  There is no middle ground.

If you believe, the next step is to receive HimJohn 1:12 says, “To all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God.”  Picture you came to my home and I offered to feed you dinner.  You could believe I was going to provide a meal; you could thank me for it; we could sit at the table together and talk about the food in front of us . . . but if you did not reach out and take the food, you would leave my home as empty as when you came.

So, first, reach out in your heart and mind to Jesus.  He is God and knows what is in your heart and thoughts even before you say it.  So invite Him to come and live in you.  Admit you are a sinner and have not let Him rule your life yet.  Turn away (repent) from your self-guided life and tell Jesus that you will trust Him to lead the rest of your life.  Do not worry that you are not perfect, or that you do not understand all this yet.  Simply trust Him that He will come live in you and begin to work in you to perform His will.  There are no special formulas for praying.  Just talk to Him as you would your own earthly father.

Secondly, if you decide to do this, the next step is to begin reading the Bible.  It is His directive to us, an ultimate guide for life and practice.  Do not be intimidated by the size (it is actually a library collection of small books; just take one at a time.)  There are numerous Bible-reading “plans” you can access, but just read!

Thirdly, if you talked with Jesus to invite Him to live in you, you have begun to pray.  Keep it up.  Again, there are lots of books and helps for praying, but remember, it does not take any special language.  Plus, as you get to know Jesus better (not just know about Him, but know HIM), you will find prayer is not just you talking to God.  In times of His choosing, He will talk to you!  Although the value of prayer cannot be measured by its volume, it can safely be said that prayer is valueless if you do not pray.  Make time to pray.

Lastly, God does not call “Lone Ranger Christians.”  Find a community of people who are seeking and experiencing the Presence of God.  Some will be phony; some will be misguided or misinformed; some will be manipulative; some will be dishonest; but you need them as much as they need you.  And as you pray and read the Bible, you will grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Certainly, there is no requirement or expectation for you to contact me regarding your Journey into Faith, but if you want to contact me, please feel free to email me at capost3k@gmail.com.  No question is off limits.

Finally, let me assure you from many years of Bible study and examination of world religions from Atheism to Zoroastrianism, from Buddhism to Hinduism to Islam to Jainism, there is no intellectual reason for rejecting the claims of Jesus.  There is no text more authentically relayed to our generation than the Bible.  There is no way to get to know who God is, other than through the God-Man, Jesus.

I’ll Bet!

2020-05-16 Pascals Wager

I say daily prayers with The God Who Is There and as I get older, I feel a sense of urgency to encourage others to consider the claims of Jesus and what that could mean to their lives.

My mother used to scold me when I would use the phrase, “Well, I’ll bet that . . .”
“You should never gamble; do not bet!” would be her retort.  But here is a bet which I’ll bet even she would approve 😉.

Consider “Pascal’s Wager.”  (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/)  In its simplest form it is the challenge that one who seeks to believe that God exists and lives as such will have lost very little if he is wrong compared to one who does not seek to believe in God and will miss Heaven if he is wrong.  In contrast the former will gain Heaven if he is right, and the latter gains very little if he is right.

Of course, Pascal’s Wager does not address the issue of whether one truly believes God exists or genuinely submits his life to a Creator. (See Hebrews 11:6 and .)

This blog is not out of any sense of being “holier-than-thou” or having any advantage.  Very few of you know anything about my life before Anita, and frankly, I plan to keep it that way.  It was not a good time in my life, and I was not a very good person.  But Someone got hold of my life and led me to changes that have showed how much He loves even the worst of sinners. (Romans 5:7-8; 1 Timothy 1:15)

The wonderful thing about Jesus is His exclusiveness and His inclusiveness.
He is exclusive in that He claims to be the only way to get to know the Creator God.  He is inclusive in that anyone (even I!) can get to know the Creator God.

One of the strongest arguments against following Jesus is that He only appeared to His disciples, people who might have a vested interest in proving He arose from the dead.  However, all of them suffered immeasurably and most were killed because they would not renounce their claims to have seen Him alive after His crucifixion.  This lends credence to the idea that they believed what they had seen.

Chuck Colson, Nixon’s ‘hatchet man’ went to prison for his crimes and there met Jesus.  He says of his experience: “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate [the criminal enterprise for which he was in prison] proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”

The attached page (https://wordpress.com/page/capost2k.wordpress.com/16919) gives more perspective on this issue in that it details views of skeptics who do not believe in Jesus, but grudgingly admit that the disciples saw “something” though they admit they do not know what.

So I’ll  bet that if you try Pascal’s Wager, you may find more that you bargain for.

I doubt, therefore I might be.

With apologies to the great French mathematician and philosopher, Descartes: “Cognito ergo sum” translated “I think, therefore I am.”  So though my existence is not in question, there is a lot about this existence that is.

Questions 2I doubt that the Bible is true.  I doubt that there is a Creator.  I doubt that we live after this body dies.  I doubt that there is anything beyond what we see and experience in this life.  Perhaps we are only creatures of an eternal evolution; everything is continuing as it has for all time and there is no purpose, only existence.

How does one handle these kinds of thoughts that enter the mind uninvited?  When they come in as you feel discouraged or disconnected?  When life has handed you lemons and your attempt to make lemonade winds up a broken pitcher and a puddle on the ground?

To come out of this downward spiral you have to return to the basics of what you know to be true:
First, that you exist.
Second, that you are not the only one to exist; there are lots of others around you.
Third, that this existence is not new; we were not born in this minute.
Fourth, that the world has been around for a long time.
Fifth, that some of those others have recorded what happened to them.
Sixth, that not all of them are liars.
Seventh, this downward spiral will lead to disillusionment and hopelessness.
Eighth, there is a better way: listening to those honest recorders before you.

Resurrcetion 1This takes us back to the crux of history, that event that overshadowed all others when it occurred and changed all of history.  The Resurrection of Jesus, called the Christ or the Anointed One.  Paul must have experienced something of this disconnect to have penned “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)  There have been times this statement confused me.

We who follow Jesus have mostly good lives.  Many of us, especially here in the West, have little persecution (yet).  We enjoy each other’s companionship and share worship experiences and many of us even “hear God speak to our hearts.”  Not that many claim to actually hear a voice, but such strong impressions that seem to come from somewhere outside ourselves invade out thinking.  To the one that has experienced this, there is no question in his or her mind, God has spoken!  And we are filled with joy and “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) regardless of external circumstances.

So how does Paul conclude that if we are wrong, we are of all people most to be pitied?  Consider the insane man who thinks he is living in a palace with sumptuous banquets and lavish comforts when in reality his trailer home is overrun with mice and cockroaches nibbling at his droppings of crackers and cheese.  Would we not pity this man?  In this same way, if the resurrection of Jesus did not occur, we are certainly crazy people, believing in angels and demons and a Creator who loves us and will provide eternal comforts for us.  We are to be pitied.

But Paul does not leave us in this pitiable state!  In the next sentence he points out the reason: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)  So it all hinges on this: did Jesus arise from the dead or are his remains rotting away in some forgotten Judean grave outside Jerusalem?

Someone once said, “There is more historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for the truth of George Washington being our first president.”  I am not sure how this speaker evaluated the evidence, but Jesus’ resurrection is one of the most authenticated events of history.  This is not true of any other religious figure’s miraculous events.

Gautama Buddha’s miraculous walking that produced lotus blossoms under every footstep reads more like a fairy tale than real events.  That he lived around 500BC and the earliest mention of him shows up around 300 years later suggests a long time for legends to develop, especially given the often differing and conflicting narratives about him.  His oldest “biographies” are dated between 300 and 500AD, 800 to 1000 years after his life.

Examine each of the other figures of major religions and you will find gaping holes in historical validation, especially of major events marking the initiation of their teaching.  Even in the 19th century, the stories of Joseph Smith and his experiences with Moroni, the angel who gave him special glasses to enable his understanding of the “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics” are conveniently uncorroborated by anyone else.

Jesus resurrection falls into a whole other category with its historical evidence and validation by eyewitnesses who lived with him and wrote what they heard and saw.  “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)  And not just Peter, but many women, James, His brother, and all of the apostles and then more than 500 others who were most likely present at His ascension saw the risen Jesus.

Do not take my word for the historicity of these events.  Read them for yourself in the biographies of Jesus, called the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Read Paul’s exposition of the good news that Jesus arose from the dead in 1 Corinthians 15.  Then look at the skeptics who doubted but became Christ-followers:  Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict and He Walked Among Us.  Read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ in which he details how he thought the resurrection was a fairy tale that any good reporter could debunk . . . until he tried and became a follower.  Look at C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy and Mere Christianity that describes his logical process of not believing in God and being angry at God for not existing, until he found Jesus was really present in his life.  Consider Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morrison, a British lawyer annoyed that his wife was becoming “one of those religious fanatics.”  He attempted to show how a legal mind could not accept the resurrection and it would be laughed out of an English court.  Instead he found the evidence clear and convincing that Jesus was alive.  And this list could go on of authors and seekers who attempted to shut down the silliness of believing in the resurrection and wound up following the One they at first disdained.

Beyond these intellectual analyses, there are the experiences of millions whose lives have been transformed by encounters with Jesus, through prayer, involvement with miracles, comfort for unbelievable suffering, revelations by visions or dreams, all consistent with the teachings of the Bible.

So when we begin to doubt, as often happens when life does not go the way we hope, we must come back to what we knowI told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say.” (1 Corinthian 15:3-4)

Chuck Colson.jpgI leave you with this quote from Chuck Colson, who was one of the most powerful and feared men in the Nixon administration in the 1970s, involved in what became known as Watergate.  “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”

What in the World is God? Part 1

“Humans explaining the nature of God is like an ant trying to explain who dropped the sugar.” Trish O’Connor

Doodle GodWhat in the world is God?  The question is posed somewhat tongue-in-cheek.  The gut level response is that it should read “Who,” not “What.”  However, it is not entirely in jest, because God is not a man; He is not a cow or an elephant; He is not a Bhudda or Mohammad or Vishnu or Brahman; He is not a cast metal statue or stone carving; He is not even really a “he” or “she.”  In fact, He is not very much like us at all; He is “something” so completely different from us that the “what” question is as reasonable to ask as the “who” one.

While it is impossible for humans to fully grasp who or what God is, Paul claimed that what could be known about Him begins with a clear understanding of the order of the universe: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:19-20)

Some skeptics will claim that ignorant aboriginal people, not understanding phenomena such as lightning, thunder, earthquakes, floods, etc., “invented” God to explain what they could not understand.  However, this is contrary to the human mind, even a “primitive” one.  We look for understanding of the unknown from what we know; we build our interpretations on foundations of fact to which our minds are accustomed.  A “primitive man” (if there ever was such a one) would no more likely invent a god to account for unexplained phenomena than a modern man would invent a phegallicur to explain his smartphone which he does not understand.

First Church of PhegallicurA phegallicur is something that simply does not exist, and as far as I know has never been named before this blog.  I hardly expect a religion of Phegallicurism to develop because so many people do not understand how their phones work and I “discovered” this word.  (If you choose to start such a religion, I expect some honorarium and at least a plaque praising my discovery. 😉)  And people in ancient times would not have invented religion for the same reasons.

The revelation of who or what God is must come from Him because He is so different from us.  Thus, He appeared to the first man and woman and began to reveal Himself gradually to them, to allow them time to grow in trust and love.  Human refusal to cooperate with the trust He desired resulted in the development of many perversions of religion, false teachings that have denied the nature, behavior and attributes of The God Who Is There as He has revealed Himself to be.  Essentially every false religion is based on an attempt to excuse some way in which the founder of said religion would not cooperate with the truth that was self-evident in the creation, truth to which God will lead the truly seeking heart (Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13).

To discover what God really is becomes vitally important even before we begin our quest, because He has revealed Himself as the source of everything good: the source of life, light, joy, peace, etc. (James 1:17).  The alternative to knowing God is hell, separation from all that is good, and the evidence is very scarce that we get a second chance as reincarnation teaches.  Even if one was to accept the basic idea of reincarnation, why waste time recycling through multiple miserable lives and not go for the very best now?

ResurrectedWe have no clear evidence of life beyond this one except for the resurrection of Jesus, called the Christ or Messiah.  If one investigates this evidence he or she will find it overwhelming that Jesus did arise from the dead.  And that changes everything.  It changes how I view God.  It changes what I may think He is.  It changes how I treat my wife, family, friends.  It changes how I behave in relation to what I think may be good for me vs. what He says is good for me.  It changes everything!  This change is so radical, Paul even calls us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

Earth Asia.jpgThe other part of my question introducing this blog is significant as well: “in the world.”  God is not part of this world, yet He is here, in the world.  Our understanding of what and who He is will affect how we view what is happening in this world, because He is the Creator of it and has much to say about our affairs here.  We will examine over the next few weeks several of God’s attributes, not as simply an academic exercise, but as a personal attempt to get closer to Him, to know Him more fully, and conform more to the “image of Christ” (Romans 8:29).

Note that the use of “image” here is not to convey an idea of setting up a statue or physical likeness of Jesus, but to find out His priorities, His desires, His willingness to reach out to you and me, His longing for fellowship with us.  I do not mean by “longing” that He lacks in any way if we do not come into relationship with Him.  One of the faults of the 20th century American church that is carrying over into the 21st is that somehow we “complete” God like the heroine in Jerry McGuire.  One of the first things we will discover as we begin to know Him, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3), is that He is fulfilled by His existence.  We need Him; He does not need us.

A final note as I embark on this study of What In the World Is God?: I have studied the Bible for many years, even before I began living it.  And as I have been trying now for many years to live it, I feel woefully inadequate to live what I already know.  So like Bob Goff in Love Does, I do not wish to do another “Bible study,” but a “Bible doing.”  My hope is that as we examine what and who God is I will “do” differently than I currently do.  And if you join me in this, that you too, will decide to “do” differently than you currently do.  We are not saved by knowledge alone, but by faith that results in obedience to His will (Matthew 21:28-32), to what and who God is.

Next week, , we will look at what is a “Trinity.”