Apologetics | Train up a child

I think I’m on a dad blog kick here, I hate to say it, but it’s extremely easy to model my posts after my child. She does things right, she does things wrong and often she does things that just don’t make sense. I’m sure we’re similar to God in that aspect, He shakes his head at a lot of what we do, or doesn’t understand why we do things. Unfortunately, that’s not what this post is about, really. It’s about Apologetics, or more conversely training our children to understand the “Whys” behind our faith.

See, when I was growing up, going through Christian school, church and Wednesday night youth group, I understood what was right and wrong, I understood the Bible stories and I understood what God expected of me, but I didn’t understand the “Why”. This (after a very long winding path, that I may or may not get to) has led me to finally getting into and studying apologetics.

In his book, Love your God with all your Mind, Moreland makes a salient point that after the Great Revival in the United States we lost our intellectual curiosity surrounding Christianity. See, prior to 1850 really, local pastors, lay preachers and the clergy in general were extremely educated men. They were often Doctors, Lawyers, Philosophers that were primarily Christians. Many of our church fathers were also educated as well. Many Apostles were educated or had become educated after Christ’s return to Heaven, Paul being a roman citizen was extremely educated and Peter, being only a fisherman’s son, became educated in Rome after the resurrection as well.

Christianity is the only faith on Earth that tells us to continuously question our leaders, pray and read, and to find God in His perfect systems through science, math, logic, reason and our own studies on philosophy, civility and government. Somewhere after the Great Revival, but before Darwin’s explosive report on evolution and his theories surrounding it, we found an intellectual Fischer in Christianity. No, it wasn’t that our clergy were illiterate, it was the people they were preaching to stayed but infants in the faith.

I’ve spoken about it before, but this is how our faith, what was once taken as truth for over a thousand years in the west, became relegated to simply personal opinion. Science, and the human fallibility ingrained within the discipline, became the new religion. It would slowly take hold among the brightest minds and infiltrate to the smallest children throughout the 20th century. Now, I am not saying science is bad, or is a conspiracy. I’m not crazy, as stated before God expects us to study His systems on earth so we can learn and enjoy more and more is wonders. Theoretical and Philosophical sciences should not be taught en masse, however. Those soft sciences were the issues and have created hosts of problems over the years.

So what was the point of explaining all of this? I had my daughter homeschooled last year due to my local school system not having a concrete plan for handling the pandemic (virtual or not, what’s the difference etc.) and I used the Abeka Academy brand of homeschooling for kindergarten. I absolutely loved it, it was fantastic to work with them and my daughter loved it too. Fast forward to two nights ago, and after getting some ice cream after her first day of “real school”, my daughter tells me, “Dad, I really like school, but there’s an issue. They don’t talk about God there.”

Unfortunately having a theological, philosophical, and political discussion over the constitution wasn’t in the plan for a school night with a six-year-old, so I brushed it off a bit. That night though I began to think that she needed something to reinforce her faith, and also that would tell her the “why” behind her faith. Our children are being inundated with constant attacks from a secular society that tells them the right thing is what God says is wrong. The obfuscation further persists when these are brought to society as legal acts to the mind of a child (or an adult). While teaching them about the Bible and even creation is all well and good, it never gets them to a point where they can see why someone else isn’t held to the same standard as they are.

Now, we’re getting to the point of the matter. I know as a child and seeing my own child do this, it is extremely frustrating to watch as another child gets to behave or do something that is strictly against what she is being taught. Much like us as Christians we have to grapple with a world that tells us what we believe is wrong on a daily basis by people that are richer, more powerful and frankly more insulated than we are. We sometimes want to look at God and point to the other person and say “BUT THEY’RE ALLOWED TO!”, and that’s where the kicker is. See, on Earth we belong to one of two adoptive parents. We are either the children of the creator or the children of the destroyer. Children of God or Children of the Devil. The Devil is like the parent that praises their children no matter what they do, they make excuses for them, they hide them when they’ve done wrong. God is like a parent that carefully instructs His children unto perfection or as close as possible. He expects us to use everything in order for us to want Him to be proud.

Nowadays what is the more common parent? What do we see? Parents today aren’t taught to discipline their children or to expect anything more from them. We are taught to always take their feelings into consideration no matter how asinine it may be, and to always try to accommodate the child -a child who looks up to us as parents- it’s literally the blind leading the blind.

However, we know what happens when the child inevitably points at the other kid and goes “Why can’t I do that too?”, the next sentence is “BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR.” I guess the point of all this, and it wasn’t really meant to be a moral of the story type post, but more to get you thinking type post, the point is how do we stop our kids from asking the first question in the first place. Now you’re all telling me Good luck Michael I have 3 kids and I still can’t stop them from asking that. Maybe we even ask ourselves that sometimes, but we stop ourselves from voicing it. That’s what I want from our children, I want them to know the “Why” before they even ask why they can’t do it. If they know the “why”, even though something may seem completely unfair, they won’t have to ask the question because they will already know the answer. And that’s how we will raise a generation that can stand firm on the truth.

If you all have any apologetics for kids study guides (Preferably primary ages) or tips and tricks I’d love to hear it. As much as I enjoy writing deep series and philosophical arguments for adults, children baffle me sometimes on their comprehension, so I would rather work on this from another author’s angle.

Meditations | Independent Toddlers

No, I’m not starting a #Dadblog. I’m definitely not one of those types. So don’t worry your little heart, but I am going to talk about being a whiny, bratty, rotten toddler. And I’m going to accuse you of being that too. You have anxiety, you cry, you throw tantrums. You’re probably nothing more than a grown toddler.

Now think of that toward perfection, think of that toward our Father in Heaven. It’s funny because when we’re little-and I’ve mentioned this before-we look up to our parents for everything, including how to act. We instantly become embarrassed as a toddler when we see other children acting up or screaming in a store because that’s how we act sometimes. Now think about it like this, we’re in a stressful situation and maybe no one is helping. Our advice from our friends suck, our hypothetical partner isn’t helping and we’re a sobbing, angry, anxious mess.

Now, as a parent looking at a toddler doing this, we’re instantly annoyed to no end. Why can’t they just quit and realize it’s not that bad! Why can’t they just know this is for the best? Why….we ask. God asks the same thing, he wonders why we’re not listening, why we’ve blocked Him out in all of our anxiety and urge for control. He doesn’t understand why we can’t just give in and stop sobbing.

In the Bible we are told either by angels, by prophets or by God himself to “Fear not”. 365 times in the King James Version of the Bible is this phrase used or something like it.

In Genesis 15:1, God comes to Abram and tells him “Fear not, for I am your shield; your reward shall be very great”. Why would a non-personal, inauthentic, creator care so much about one man? Even though God chose him as his patriarch for a civilization, why would he care that much to reassure him of anything?

After the Israelites are established as a nomadic nation, God comes to Joshua, the chosen leader of the people and tells him multiple times to “not fear” within the same conversation! Joshua 1:9 starts off with “Have I not commanded you?”

Finally, we get to the most quoted part of scripture that we can look at concerning this, and at this point I think it’s amazing. Over thousands of years God told whoever He was speaking to, “Don’t be afraid”. It reminds me of helping a toddler on the monkey bars. We tell them don’t be afraid! I’ve got you! Just put your hand over hand on the bars and you’ll make it through. We even make feeble attempts to show them. No matter what we do, they still look at us in sheer terror. “Mom/Dad, I’m afraid”, “Mom/Dad, I can’t do this”, “Mom/Dad, will you hold me?”

In Isaiah 41:10 God tells the coastlands through Isaiah the prophet, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will Strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous righthand.” But this time, after thousands of years of saying this, He says something else in Isaiah 41: “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand…” Thats the kicker isn’t it?

We go and tell them on the monkey bars what to do, how to do it and we reassure them we aren’t going to let them fall. More often than not, what happens? We end up holding them across. God finally said, “you’re incapable of trusting in me as I want, so I’m going to make sure you know I’m there. I will walk with you and hold your hand through it.”

We as adults are nothing more than independent toddlers. We make the wrong choices, we disagree with what God explicitly tells us to do, and just like the Israelites we go after every shiny thing that comes along. What happens when bad things happen then? What happens when God chastises us? What happens when everything falls apart? We run to Him. We tell Him we’ve been bad, we tell Him we’ve screwed up, we tell Him the horrible rotten things about us, because He’s the only one that can make them stop.

As I’ve said before in prior posts, God always gives us an exodus. Even if we have to pay for our bad choices we know he is “Faithful and Just to forgive us of our sins”, it may not be that moment and it may not be a year later, but God will always make sure He holds our hands through it. Because you and I are far short of glorified adulthood in the eyes of God.

Meditations | A Light Burden

Today I thought we would do something a little different than we usually do. I thought we would perform a commentary on a certain aspect of scripture, almost like an expository sermon. I feel like we as Christians need to hear this message specifically, not because we don’t know it, but because we don’t actually practice it.

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Current Events | Matthew West CANCELLED?!

Have you all seen the music video and/or heard the song Modest is Hottest, by Matthew West? As a father of a little girl, I think it’s a hilariously appropriate video. It honestly is a counter-culture view of the world and a treatise on how Christian ladies should act. See, and I want to put this in perspective for all of you, Christianity today is not in vogue anymore. True Christianity is much more of an afterthought in the mainstream, if not downright hated. Sure, you can say you’re a Christian, but if you act like one, you better watch out the wolves will get you!

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Meditations | HOPE

“And in his name the Gentiles will hope”.

Christ quoted that while on Earth to his disciples. God has always wanted a plan for the entire world to come back to him from the instant sin entered the world. But what does hope mean? Specifically, is it the same way we use it today in modern English?

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Meditations | Forgiveness

Ah, the hardest part of our charge as Christians toward the world. It’s even harder than loving the world, even though these two go hand in hand. This thing, this forgiveness, is something that is often misunderstood and almost as misunderstood in Christianity as the word “love”. These two terms have taken a whole other meaning in our modern lexicon. 

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Meditations | Mercy

Much like Grace,which we have already gone over, Mercy is another word used often to describe God and His actions. Most people would describe mercy is “receipt of a favor or consequence which wasn’t deserved”, while I agree with that definition, I think we can come to a better conclusion!

I think as we go through this quick study, God’s grace (defined as: Someone in Authority bowing down happily to give a gift to someone in lowly stature, such as a peasant) and mercy will jump out of the page more for you and you will be surprised at how beautiful our God really is. 

Mercy in English comes from Anglo-French ‘Merci’, which means as ‘Pity or Thanks’ while Merci comes from the Latin Merced- which means ‘Paid Wages or reward’. The word in Greek is very similar, it is the word ‘Eleos’ (ἔλεος), which according to Strongs NT concordance means “mercy; kindness or good will toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them” 

I think we’re getting to the bottom of this but, we need more information. Our final source will come from the Hebrew word that is used in the Old Testament to describe God. Then, like we did with Grace, we’ll combine them and get a median definition. 

In the Hebrew, the most commonly used word to mean mercy is ‘racham’(רַחַם), which means compassion. I think something else interesting that we can add, is that this word also means ‘deep’ or ‘bowels’. So it means: something at the very center of someone’s being. 

So what have we understood as a full meaning of mercy? Mercy from a combination of all languages used from the original manuscripts and then our current language means simply “Compassionately pays the price due to the miserable and afflicted in an effort to relieve them”

Let’s break this new definition down. (Now you’re saying, this sounds just like the original definition only wordier) God not only continually pays the price or the wage due to us daily out of compassion simply to provide relief, but He also does this compassionately or literally ‘with passion’. As I said earlier that definition of ‘Deeply’ will come into play. He feels so strongly and cares so much about the miserable and the afflicted, which is all of humanity, that daily He passionately takes away our dues for our screwups. What wages would need to be paid for our sin? Paul tells us in Romans, “the wages of sin is death”. 

So if we have a gracious and merciful God what does that actually mean? In one sentence, we come to this conclusion. God happily and passionately bows down to provide favor in order to distribute relief to the poor and afflicted and pay the price due to their continual failures. That my friends, is what I wanted to write this whole time. 

You ask why my blog is named ‘Something Extraordinary’, that right there is the reason. An all-powerful God in Hellenistic thought would have ignored us and moved on to a different planet, in Egyptian thought He would have destroyed us or made us slaves, in Babylonian thought He would be sacrificing our children to appease him. 

But God, who is rich in mercy, joyfully and passionately sent His only Son to die on a cross for our sins in order to provide relief for the poor, afflicted, pitiable and woeful to pay one price for our failures: past, present, and future.

Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” 

And that, my friends, is Something Extraordinary. 

Meditations | A Faithful God

Housekeeping: Alright! After a long weekend, we are back! I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day, and for those that aren’t U.S. based I hope you had a good weekend!

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You know what I really love about our Creator? We don’t have a contractual obligation to him. Romans 5 tells us some interesting things. For one, we are told that “Christ died for the ungodly”(V. 6), then in the next verse Paul looks at the mortal version of this. He says “For rarely will someone die for a just person” and “Perhaps for a good person someone may dare to die.” Paul’s musings here hearken back to my current apologetics series on Love, specifically the three types of mortal love. Man, righteous or unrighteous, saved or unsaved, is still and will always be selfish. We can’t shake it. We can put an honest effort to be selfless, but at the end of the day Man’s number one priority whether that is mind or body, is himself. 

See, even if Man wanted to die for someone in his mind, his body would show hesitation. Even Christ in His mortal body prayed to His Father in Heaven that He may take the cup from him, to possibly make another way; God knew there was no other way. The ultimate act of servitude is to put someone’s life above yours, especially one who you do not know. 

Paul tells us in verse 8 “But God shows his love for us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us”. We didn’t have a contractual obligation as God’s creation to do anything for Him to die. He wanted to have a relationship with us so badly that He estranged himself in order to break the curse of sin and show liberty to those who believe in Him. 

That’s what the Bible is about, God being faithful to His creation, in trying His hardest to get them back. He knows we won’t be faithful 100 percent of the time. He knows it’s impossible for us since we are fallible. James tells us “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”

God had a plan since Adam first sinned, and that plan was to remain faithful to the human race until the time came for judgement. Up until that very last trumpet sounds, will He remain faithful. 

Meditations | The Infinite God

“The Lord said to Abram”

Genesis 12:1, CSB

This is a strange start to a meditation, and it’s a simplistic verse. You’re all asking me, why would you put THAT as the verse for today. Well, it is a very important verse, something that we need to look at in depth. This isn’t even a post about faith really, it’s much more than that. It’s a look at ourselves and how little we know about God and who He is. 

I want you to look at this verse, there is no context before this besides simply showing Abram’s lineage after Babbel. So there is no context, this just starts like it says above. How strange of a verse, right? 

God didn’t announce himself in this verse, nor did he introduce himself. He just started talking. Personally, I think God was trying a different way to reach His creation using this message since walking with them, flooding the earth and scrambling the languages didn’t work. Maybe He was trying a more diplomatic approach. 

Abram went along with what He said, and personally I would have to if I heard a disembodied voice promising to protect me if I followed His lead. Anyways, I’m off topic here, and I’m most likely going to do a series on this later down the line.

The most astonishing thing here is, simply, God never introduced himself. He never gave his name. 

Well, he gave it later on. His name is Yahweh. 

Nope.

That’s what WE call him, His creation. That’s not actually His name. See, it’s an attribute of him. Knowing how important names are, biblically and in modern times, one would think we would actually know His name. 

Yahweh comes from a shortened version of Exodus 3:14 “I am that I am”. He was basically telling Moses “I was, I am, and I will be. I am the constant.” This was later shortened down to Yahweh

The Biblical scholars will now say “His name is EL.” No, that’s not right either. El was taken from a Canaanite god (who ironically was depicted as a golden calf [catching on yet?]) and replaced in Hebrew to name God ‘God’ and also to use generally as the word god. 

The Israelites also took names from other gods around to attribute to their God. The living God, but that’s not the point.

The point of all this is simple, we are much too small and ignorant by nature to know God. If we have any presumption of who God is while we’re praying, if we happen to even imagine he’s something that He’s not, then are we really praying to the living God?

We don’t even know His name, we just understand some attributes about Him. The closest we are ever going to get to know God is through His son Christ Jesus.

This is why it’s so important to have a relationship with Jesus, to know our creator through His son. Solomon, one of the wisest men to have ever lived, wrote in Proverbs 9:10:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. 

That word fear could be translated as ‘awe’.Even the wisest man to ever live couldn’t even begin to contemplate who God is. We are to begin our journey of knowing God through awe. Once you take apart all the preconceived notions of who you think God ought to be, and start actually worshipping the living God who sent His son as redemption for sin, you will begin to understand him. 

Take time during prayer today to seek Him first. To see who this God actually is, because I guarantee that idea you have of him is finite. We all know our God is infinite. Once you remove that you will really begin to see our father for who He is. Maybe we don’t know His name, but His actions are much more profound.

Current Events | No Earthly King

I was going to do today’s post on a completely different topic, but since the prior idea is something that is continually ongoing, I think it can wait. I got interrupted in the middle of the other post while scrolling through Facebook and then I saw this photo.

In 1912, as the legend goes, Ralph Rose- the U.S. Flag bearer was walking during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. When asked why he didn’t dip the flag in respect to the King of England, Ralph happily replied, “This flag dips to no earthly king”.  I find this interesting as during this period of American history almost 90% of people would be considered Christians. 

In 2021, Americans seem okay to kneel however to their propaganda overlords. In the photo above, the White Americans are seen bowing in repentance for their “sin” of slavery. Don’t get me wrong, slavery is an awful, horrible thing, however, why should these people in the modern era “confess” their sin to a man? This man can’t save them, this man can’t do anything. These people have gone absolutely bonkers.

While the landscape of Christians continues to decline in the United States, 65% still consider themselves aligned with some form of Christianity. And in this picture alone, most would consider themselves Christians. If that’s the case, why on Earth are they bowing to anyone?

Unless these people are directly responsible for slavery itself, they should not be asking for forgiveness from any man, woman or child regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or creed. These people cannot wipe their slate clean, nor do they want to. The people holding the event are on a power trip.

This leads me to say concurrently, that this propaganda along with all others is no more than a human made religion seeking to enfranchise the people that have bought into it. They will be abused, they will be kicked, and they will be enslaved in their own mind thinking they owe these people something. 

Christ made it clear, “No one can serve two masters”. If anyone of these kneeling call themselves Christians, I would dare to say they are not.

Unfortunately, this radical ideology has infiltrated our churches. The Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America blatantly support and advocate for a postmodern social justice. The United Methodist Church also does the same. These are two of the largest factions of Christianity in America, yet they are following man made doctrine that doesn’t even teach about Christ. 

For the final point, either Americans have no interest in really being Christians, yet want the name recognition or they are faithfully following this apostate church that has been created under a new religion. This religion is not of God, but is created from the number of man.