Posts tagged Jesus

Who Cares What You Know?

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who caresFor the Christian, Apologetics is a necessity.  In the pluralistic, hodge-podge-of-beliefs culture that we live in, one must always be ready with an answer. The Christian is ever presented with ideas that attempt to challenge the credibility of theism or cast Christianity in a disparaging light. Indeed, to say that apologetics is important would be an understatement. It does much to bolster the faith of the believer, while empowering them to share their faith. It also serves as pre-evangelism because it tears down false ideas that might obstruct the truth in someone’s mind.

Granted, some believers feel a greater calling to invest themselves more heavily when it comes to defending the Christian faith, but all believers should be prepared to give an adequate defense of their faith in Christ, theologically, historically, and philosophically. If one cannot articulate and defend their own beliefs, it places them on uneven, or even shifting, ground when it comes to sharing their faith with others.  Worse, their own faith may be shaken when presented with evidence by skeptics or when life deals them something unsettling.

Yet, when it comes to developing one’s defense it is easy to be lazy. Giving a strong apologetic requires much study, thought, and discussion. I think we can all say that it is easy to be lazy in this area. Yet, thankfully, many Christians rigorously devote themselves to defending the truth of Christianity. It is here, that we need to be reminded that the hard working apologist that is diligent to study can also find himself being lazy, relationally lazy.

Sometimes, it is hard to find the balance. Apologetics is not just a cognitive endeavor; it is intended to be a highly relational pursuit. The idea behind apologetics is to know truth, understand that truth to one’s best capacity, grow in the faith (both intellectually and experientially), build  close relationships with others, and present that truth to them within the context of that relationship.

In many ways, Christianity has gotten relationally sloppy. We make evangelism a cognitive exercise. “Just present the truth.” “If they don’t like the truth that is there problem.” “They just don’t want to hear the truth.” These sorts of phrases smack of laziness. Sure, sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, but it is bearable, even if disagreeable, within the context of a close relationship. Within apologetics, one is forced to walk a tightrope between truth and love. We are reminded in Ephesians 4:15 to present truth, coupled with love. Truth and love are inextricably linked together and find their ultimate expression within the confines of close relationships with the people around us.

The apologist will find that his efforts yield meager results outside of sharing truth with love within close relationships.  As a matter of fact, 71% of individuals who come to know Christ say that it was due to the efforts of an individual, and less than .05% came to know Christ through tracts, radio, or television. We cannot strictly make apologetics a cognitive endeavor and marginalize the relational significance.

The apologist has much to overcome if he wants the precious truth of Christianity to be heard. In 1996, 15% of unbelievers said they had a bad impression of Christianity. In 2007, those who viewed Christianity unfavorably leaped to 38%! That is a tremendously large shift in just 10 years!

We should note that 85% of non-church goers view Christianity as hypocritical while, get this, of people that do go to church, 47% say they believe Christianity is hypocritical! Only 20% of non-Christians believe that churches are loving environments, while less than 50% of church goers believe their church demonstrates unconditional love! This is a problem!

No one will listen to our truth unless they first see our love lived out daily in their lives. As Christians, and apologists, we have a lot to overcome before the truth even gets a hearing. And it is interesting, because people never had a problem with Jesus’ attitude or behavior, but there were certainly those who had a problem with his teachings and convictions. Today, there are those that resist Christianity due to the moral limitations it places on their lives, but I dare say a great many people push back due to the attitude and behavior of the Christian! Is it possible that Christianity needs an attitude adjustment and a reminder that Christianity is relational to its very core?

Here we should again look to the Apostle Paul. He writes in the familiar I Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in the tonguesof men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We may be well versed in scripture, be familiar with the right questions, and have our philosophy perfectly logically valid, but if we don’t have love for other people then we are just making noise. If we aren’t seriously investing into the lives of people around us we are just making a sound.

A cymbal sounds wonderful when crafted into a drum solo or song, but played repeatedly by itself it becomes increasingly annoying. As Christians, if our truth isn’t crafted into the context of strong relationships and presented with love, then we become annoying and affirm what many say about Christianity. That is a tragedy.

We must walk the tightrope well. Apologetics is certainly highly cognitive, but it is also incredibly relational! People will not care what we know until they legitimately believe that we care. Invest in people and speak the truth in love.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Best of 2012: Straight Chicken, Gay Cookie

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Best of 2012_Chicken and CookieThis post, which originally aired  on August 2nd, was by far the most viewed/shared/popular blog of the year here at Walk Good. It wins the top spot by a landslide! I hope as Christians that we remember to love as Christ loved, and to always be kind to others. It is by our love the world knows we are His children, and it is His kindness that draws people unto repentance. Unless you were  living in your basement on a steady diet of government cheese this summer, you were fully aware of the food fiasco that took place. First, Oreo released their gay pride Oreo. Nabisco came out of the pantry and gave their support to the homosexual community. This sparked a great deal of discussion for a while and eventually died down. Just when the waters had calmed, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, expressed his personal support for the traditional view of marriage. It was the shot heard around the culinary world.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Not more about Chick-Fil-A. Do we really need one more person writing a post about it? Can’t we let this sleeping dog lie? Do we need one more voice adding to the noise?” I promise, I had no intention of addressing this. I didn’t want to do it. Yet, as I sit and watch all the controversy surrounding this debacle, based on a personal belief expressed by an individual, and the salvos fired from both sides of the fence, I felt the need to weigh in.

First, let me speak to the homosexual community. Let me remind you that some people are filled with hate, and they attach the word “Christian” to the venomous words they spew. Let me remind you that hate was never promoted by Jesus Christ. So, for every person or “Christian” that promotes hate and attacks you as a person, I apologize. Please remember to separate who God is from the people that claim to (and sometimes do) follow Him.

I also want to point out that Dan Cathy did not say anything that promotes hate. He gave his personal beliefs about what constitutes a marriage. He did not say he looks down on anyone. He did not say certain people groups should be discriminated against. His company hires people from all stripes of life. I share the same belief as Mr. Cathy. I believe that homosexuality is an aberration of sexuality, but this is where many Christians tend to stop. They fail to mention that the Bible also views sex outside of marriage, adultery, pornography and lust as sins as well. Christians do a great job of condemning homosexual lust and minimizing heterosexual lust. Last time I checked God says both are sinful. As a Christian, I can no more justify homosexuality than I can my proclivity to lust after a woman or step outside the bounds of my marriage.

Recently someone made the statement, “Do you seriously believe God will judge someone for loving a person of the same sex, but will not judge you for hating someone you have never met?” Let me say that God never judges anyone for loving, but we will answer to God for how we handle His commandments, both the heterosexual and the homosexual. If we desacralize sexuality, every one of us will be judged according to what God says. God will also judge us for hating others because we are commanded to love as He loves. In fact, the Bible tells us that God is love, so we too should exemplify love.

A big question we need to consider is, can it be possible to disagree with someone and still love them? Absolutely! People disagree with me on certain things and by all outward appearances they still love me. Just because I disagree with someone or something does not mean I hate them, or that I would even like to hate them.

What about Jesus? What was His example? Actually, Jesus was a friend to sinners. Jesus spent a lot of time around people that were not Christians. Jesus was also not shy about speaking truth. He didn’t even make the truth politically correct or sugar coat it, but sinners loved to be around Him. How interesting that is! Jesus spoke out against prostitution, but he loved the prostitute. He spoke against lying, but he loved the liar. He taught against adultery, but he loved the adulterer.

You see, Jesus spoke the truth, but he always did it with love.  This is extremely important to notice. Truth without love is abrasive and condemning. Love without truth is not really love at all, it is merely flattery. Love and truth most coexist, or they become useless. So, we can see from Jesus that it is possible to disagree with someone or something and still love others and affirm their value as people who bear the image of God.

I think it is extremely interesting that so many Christians went to Chic-Fil-A on August 1st to show their support of Dan Cathy and the company. Do I think it was right or wrong to do so? I say that all depends on the motive behind it. I like Chic-Fil-A. They have great food and I support the pro-family values of the company. I see no fault in the statement Mr. Cathy made, and I will continue eating chicken sandwiches by the sackload. Those that wanted the company to know they support them in the middle of this ongoing debacle, I say great. Yet, there could have very well been some people that wanted to press a point of “We’re Christians and we think we are better than homosexual people.” If the motivation to support Chic-Fil-A was out of love, then thumbs up, but if it was out of hate, two thumbs way down.

The sad thing is, millions of Christians will wait in long lines to buy chicken, but where are these same Christians when it comes to serving others and being salt and light? I think maybe the world looks on at us taking a stand against homosexuality (by eating chicken oddly enough), but they don’t see us  in such great magnitude taking a stand in feeding the poor, helping others,  or having the same concern for people that Christ did.

It really boils down to this for those of us that identify ourselves as followers of Christ. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Are we loving people? Is our motivation always love? Are we buying chicken sandwiches to show people that we are right, or are we in the trenches spreading the love of Christ?

Let’s make sure that before the world around us notices anything else, they see our love shining first. We might be surprised how many more people would listen to the message of Christ if we presented the Gospel in the same way that Christ did, by loving first and then speaking the words of truth according to God.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Apologetic Wednesday: Why Jesus?

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Why JesusRecently, someone asked me, “Why is it that you worship Jesus? What separates Him from the thousands of other gods one might pick?” What a great question! This is also an incredibly important question. While there is much to say about Jesus, one cannot do justice in adequately describing the greatness of this man/God. The things He did as he walked this globe leave one with a sense of wonder and fascination. “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  (John 21:25) His life stands in sharp contrast to any other historical figure. He lifts our Spirits, but also reminds us of our shortcomings. His life drips with beauty, grace, humility, and majesty. Many people do not understand the life of Jesus and relegate his life story to the piles of fiction. We would do well to remember the words of G.K. Chesterton, “Truth is stranger than fiction because we have made fiction to suit ourselves…What we need is not a religion that is right where we are right, but one that is right where we are wrong.” This is exactly what the life of Jesus does. It shines light into the dark hearts of men and reveals to us who we really are: broken people.

So, why Jesus? First, He was an actual historical figure. He actually dwelt among us. (John 1:14). During His time spent on earth, Jesus made the audacious claim that He was God. This is a statement that anyone in His culture knew would very well carry a death sentence, yet He made the claim repeatedly. The very fact that Jesus is a historical figure who claimed to be God separates Him from the vast majority of other “gods”. Many gods have been conjured up by the minds of men to account for certain phenomenon when they lacked an explanation. Some are created by the hands of men into various graven images. God’s such as Marduk, Zeus, Vishnu, etc fall into this category. There is no historical context with which to give credence to the existence of such gods. We also have historical figures, such as Guatama Buddha, who never claim to be god but are venerated as such after their death. Jesus stands out having been a historical figure that also claimed to be God, even under the threat of certain death.

The life of Jesus rests on a bedrock of historical evidence. Mike Licona takes a “Minimal Facts” approach when it comes to examining the historicity of Christ, which considers only data that meet the following two criteria: 1. The data are strongly evidenced and 2. The data are granted by virtually all scholars on the subject, even the skeptical ones. He then goes on to show that the following are unanimously accepted by scholars, even those hostile to Christianity: “Jesus died by crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them, The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed, The skeptic James, brother of Christ, was suddenly changed.” Licona also demonstrates that the tomb of Christ was empty, though this does not meet the first two criteria. Yet, there is strong evidence for it with roughly 75% of scholars accepting it as historical fact. As we can briefly see, Jesus was very much a historical figure, and one that claimed to be God.

Jesus is also creative. In the beginning, He created the heavens and the earth. He is a God of action. He is an imaginative artist. The vastness of space. The brilliant stars slung across the galaxy. Pristine blue waters housing colorful fish. Two million different varieties of insects (by conservative estimates). Beautiful landscapes. Each snowflake and fingerprint having their unique design. What about the complexities of human relationships? The act of procreation between husband and wife. He could have designed us to pollinate one another, but instead He chose this wonderful expression of intimacy. Jesus is creative. Not only in His initial act of creation, but also in how He lived His life on earth and the words that he spoke.

Second, we should notice that Jesus is the culmination of ancient prophecies. In Christ, over 300 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. This alone shows Jesus to be distinct from any other deity.

Third, we also find that Jesus is personal. He is not aloof and detached from creation. He did not wind up the world and leave it to function on its own. He desires that we seek community with Him. He wants to talk with us and have us share the most intimate details of our lives. He relates to us as His children. John 15:15 states, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Who are we that we should get the privilege of being the designer of the universe’s friend? “What is man that You are mindful of him.” (Psalms 8:4) Our relationship with God is uniquely and immensely personal.

Fourth, we would do well to be reminded that God is love. Not that God simply loves, but that He is love. His very nature gives meaning to the word. What does a person in love do? They give. I loved my wife, so I put a ring on it. God loved, so He gave us His son. Jesus loved, so He went willingly to the cross. John 3:16-17 reminds us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Love does not slap heavy burdens on people, it frees them. This is what Jesus has done for us. Through his death we live. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Fifth, through Jesus we find redemption. We are not stuck. He has made a way for us to have second and third chances. When we do wrong, we can make it right. When we fail, we are not doomed. When relationships are broken, they can be restored. No other worldview offers a person redemption. The concept of grace, redemption, and restoration are inextricably linked to the person of Christ.

Jesus. Unique. Creative. Loving. Relational. Powerful. All knowing. The fulfillment of ancient prophecy. The defeater of death. The designer. The bringer of order from Chaos. Friend of sinners. God.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. -C.S. Lewis

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

There is so much more that could be said. Why don’t you tell us Why Jesus?

Straight Chicken, Gay Cookie

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Unless you have been living in your basement on a steady diet of government cheese, you are fully aware of the food fiasco that has been going on in recent months. First, Oreo released their gay pride Oreo. Nabisco came out of the pantry and gave their support to the homosexual community. This sparked a great deal of discussion for a while and eventually died down. Just when the waters had calmed, CEO of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, expressed his personal support for the traditional view of marriage. It was the shot heard around the culinary world.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Not more about Chick-Fil-A. Do we really need one more person writing a post about it? Can’t we let this sleeping dog lie? Do we need one more voice adding to the noise?” I promise, I had no intention of addressing this. I didn’t want to do it. Yet, as I sit and watch all the controversy surrounding this debacle, based on a personal belief expressed by an individual, and the salvos fired from both sides of the fence, I felt the need to weigh in.

First, let me speak to the homosexual community. Let me remind you that some people are filled with hate, and they attach the word “Christian” to the venomous words they spew. Let me remind you that hate was never promoted by Jesus Christ. So, for every person or “Christian” that promotes hate and attacks you as a person, I apologize. Please remember to separate who God is from the people that claim to (and sometimes do) follow Him.

I also want to point out that Dan Cathy did not say anything that promotes hate. He gave his personal beliefs about what constitutes a marriage. He did not say he looks down on anyone. He did not say certain people groups should be discriminated against. His company hires people from all stripes of life. I share the same belief as Mr. Cathy. I believe that homosexuality is an aberration of sexuality, but this is where many Christians tend to stop. They fail to mention that the Bible also views sex outside of marriage, adultery, pornography and lust as sins as well. Christians do a great job of condemning homosexual lust and minimizing heterosexual lust. Last time I checked God says both are sinful. As a Christian, I can no more justify homosexuality than I can my proclivity to lust after a woman or step outside the bounds of my marriage.

Recently someone made the statement, “Do you seriously believe God will judge someone for loving a person of the same sex, but will not judge you for hating someone you have never met?” Let me say that God never judges anyone for loving, but we will answer to God for how we handle His commandments, both the heterosexual and the homosexual. If we desacralize sexuality, every one of us will be judged according to what God says. God will also judge us for hating others because we are commanded to love as He loves. In fact, the Bible tells us that God is love, so we too should exemplify love.

A big question we need to consider is, can it be possible to disagree with someone and still love them? Absolutely! People disagree with me on certain things and by all outward appearances they still love me. Just because I disagree with someone or something does not mean I hate them, or that I would even like to hate them.

What about Jesus? What was His example? Actually, Jesus was a friend to sinners. Jesus spent a lot of time around people that were not Christians. Jesus was also not shy about speaking truth. He didn’t even make the truth politically correct or sugar coat it, but sinners loved to be around Him. How interesting that is! Jesus spoke out against prostitution, but he loved the prostitute. He spoke against lying, but he loved the liar. He taught against adultery, but he loved the adulterer.

You see, Jesus spoke the truth, but he always did it with love.  This is extremely important to notice. Truth without love is abrasive and condemning. Love without truth is not really love at all, it is merely flattery. Love and truth most coexist, or they become useless. So, we can see from Jesus that it is possible to disagree with someone or something and still love others and affirm their value as people who bear the image of God.

I think it is extremely interesting that so many Christians went to Chic-Fil-A on August 1st to show their support of Dan Cathy and the company. Do I think it was right or wrong to do so? I say that all depends on the motive behind it. I like Chic-Fil-A. They have great food and I support the pro-family values of the company. I see no fault in the statement Mr. Cathy made, and I will continue eating chicken sandwiches by the sackload. Those that wanted the company to know they support them in the middle of this ongoing debacle, I say great. Yet, there could have very well been some people that wanted to press a point of “We’re Christians and we think we are better than homosexual people.” If the motivation to support Chic-Fil-A was out of love, then thumbs up, but if it was out of hate, two thumbs way down.

The sad thing is, millions of Christians will wait in long lines to buy chicken, but where are these same Christians when it comes to serving others and being salt and light? I think maybe the world looks on at us taking a stand against homosexuality (by eating chicken oddly enough), but they don’t see us  in such great magnitude taking a stand in feeding the poor, helping others,  or having the same concern for people that Christ did.

It really boils down to this for those of us that identify ourselves as followers of Christ. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Are we loving people? Is our motivation always love? Are we buying chicken sandwiches to show people that we are right, or are we in the trenches spreading the love of Christ?

Let’s make sure that before the world around us notices anything else, they see our love shining first. We might be surprised how many more people would listen to the message of Christ if we presented the Gospel in the same way that Christ did, by loving first and then speaking the words of truth according to God.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Weigh in! What are your thoughts?

A Scary Place: Friday the 13th Edition

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Okay, full disclosure right up front. I am a complete scaredy-cat. I refuse to watch horror movies. I just don’t like them. They keep me up at night. When I am alone in the wee hours of the morning, scenes from scary movies decide to set up camp in my brain. Now don’t get me wrong, I love thrillers and suspenseful movies, but I just cannot handle movies with evil content or where people get hacked and slashed. If the movie involves spinning heads and green peas flying out of people’s mouths, I will have to respectfully abstain.

When I was about twelve, I spent the night at some friend’s house. They had built up a tolerance for scary movies, to which I was unaware. They suggested we watch a scary movie, so I decided to man up (or boy up) and agreed to view the film. This was a colossal mistake in my young life. After the movie, I was extremely frightened and hyper-vigilant.

Shortly after the movie, my friends decided to go to sleep at about 11:00 P.M. What kind of sleepover was this anyway? Who goes to bed at eleven on a Friday night? I knew I had a long night ahead of me. There would be no way I could turn my mind off, erase the images I had seen in the last couple of hours, and calm my nervous system down enough to even remotely think about sleeping.

So around eleven we all went and got in our beds and mine was conveniently located in front of a giant window with no blinds or curtains. Perfect. Who knows what kind of deranged psychopath or otherworldly creature was staring in at my scrawny twelve-year-old self, just waiting for the opportune moment to pounce? It was one of the longer nights I can remember. I lay there, awake, staring at the ceiling, without anything to occupy my time other than my thoughts. As dawn broke, I finally mustered up enough courage to get some rest.

Needless to say, I loathe Friday the 13th (and Halloween) because it is nothing but a smorgasbord of scary movies. So, I happily avoid the festivities on television associated with the day. I have no desire to expose my mind to scary imagery and lose any amount of precious sleep (I feel like I don’t get enough as it is. Can I get a witness?).

It is nice to know you can just avoid Friday the 13th if you want. Yet, I will say, there is a scary place that we can’t avoid. It is always there, full of some of the darkest, vilest, and most sinister stuff. Often, it lurks just below the surface, laying in wait. I am speaking of the human heart, your heart and mine.

Our hearts are full of grossness. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 15, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies,blasphemies.” All of the junk that comes out in our lives comes from our hearts. Nasty and scary things lurk down in the dark. We may not even be aware of what is in there at times, and often we keep it out of sight from prying eyes.

We do a wonderful job of hiding the hideousness that exists in our hearts. We learn to act in appropriate ways and keep a lid on the grossness. We learn from an early age what to say and what not to say. We learn to filter our actions and measure our words. So while we may have some monstrous things going on inside, we do great at keeping others from being aware.

The problem is, from time to time, our guard goes down and some of this grossness comes out. We act surprised and say things like, “Well, where did that come from. That isn’t like me. Usually I don’t act that way. Generally I don’t say those things.” But the truth is, all that stuff is there inside our hearts, we just do a great job at hiding it.

Life has its way of getting junk lodged in our hearts. Sometimes it is from being hurt. It can be a result of selfish desires or lust. Perhaps it is a result of bitterness. Maybe we have unhealthy appetites. It could be due to greed or envy. There is a long list of nasty stuff that gets buried in our hearts. If other people could see our hearts or read our minds, we would probably be embarrassed a great deal of the time.

This is why it is so important that we examine what is going on in our hearts on a regular basis. We are reminded in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else,for it is the source of life.” When we let scary, gross, or embarrassing stuff build up in our hearts we can expect them to make their way into our lives. If we want to avoid difficulties in life, then we have to be serious about guarding our hearts and keeping them cleaned out.

You know, as well as I, that our hearts can be far scarier than any movie we could think to watch. So why don’t we watch over them? Are you guarding your heart? When was the last time you had a heart check? Has it been a while? Let’s take a quick inventory to see if everything is alright inside.

  • What are we feeding our minds?
  • Any problems roosting in your heart?
  • Anything you are bitter about?
  • Celebrate the failure of anyone lately?
  • Find yourself watching or looking at things that you know you shouldn’t?
  • Anything that you keep blaming others for?
  • Got any secrets you hope no one finds out about?
  • Told yourself lately, “Well, that isn’t a problem. I can stop whenever I like!”?
  • Do things come out of your mouth on a regular basis that you have to apologize for?
  • Lied to anyone recently?
  • Had to delete your browser history lately?
  • Making excuses for anything?
  • Waiting for someone to come make things right with you?
  • Find yourself pointing out other people’s flaws?

How is your heart? Everything alright in there?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Apologetic Wednesday: Jesus, Hugh Hefner, and the Heart

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Hugh Hefner is a name, regardless of one’s worldview, that the vast majority of people are familiar with. One might call him the quintessential playboy, despite the fact that he is in his mid 80’s. He has been selling sex, lust, and smut for over fifty years. At what cost has he built his pornographic empire? I would argue, along with many others, at the devaluing of women and a disregard for the sacredness of sexuality. He has done much to debase sexuality; reducing it to an act based simply on titillating the senses.

Last week Hefner’s son, Marston Hefner, pleaded no contest to charges of domestic violence against his girlfriend and playboy playmate, Claire Sinclair. It seems apparent that there is a logical connection between Marston’s actions and the environment he was immersed in. This is not to say that due to Marston’s environment he had no choice but to abuse or act violently against his girlfriend. Instead, it is an affirmation that one’s worldview, or outlook on life, lead to behavior. That is, our attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts eventually lead to actions.

Marston Hefner was taught to devalue women, so should one be incredibly shocked when he does just that? Ideas have consequences. Worldview always leads to action. Thoughts and behaviors are inextricably linked. Why is there surprise when sex is desacralized, women are devalued, and violence results? Marston was just living out the tenets of his worldview, though this was not necessarily cognitively.

This axiom is not simply limited to just this specific incident. There is a bigger principle here. The worldview one espouses leads to certain behaviors. It is the simple law of cause and effect. The troubling part is many are surprised when a+b=c. What should we expect? As C.S. Lewis put it, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Whatever resides in the hearts of men always results in behavior to accompany those beliefs, attitudes, or thoughts. So if we encourage certain ideas or beliefs, such as desacralizing sexuality or reducing women to objects to gratify men, there is no reason to be surprised when these beliefs are acted upon.

Jesus put it this way in Mark 7. “For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”

Thoughts lead to actions. What goes on inside will come out. We cannot escape the logical outworking of our worldview.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Marriage Monday: Me, Me, ME!

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Being married has taught me many wonderful things about life, God, myself, people, and what is important. One thing I wasn’t prepared to learn when I got married was how selfish I am. Serving self is so insidious; you barely know it is there until you have another person daily looking into your life. When Devon and I were first married, I was simply not prepared to have all my selfish thoughts and actions brought into crystal clear focus. Marriage was a tool that God used, and continues to use, to refine my character.

There is no room for self indulgence within relationships, especially marriage. If you want a fast track to poisoning your marriage, then focus on yourself, your wants, and what makes you happy. Our normal is to focus on ourselves; to do what makes us feel good. It comes natural to get our needs met before we worry about anyone else’s.

What are the results of two people serving themselves within a marriage? Unhappiness. This is not intuitive. It would seem that if we are seeking to make sure we get our needs met then we would be happy. Logic would drive us to think that when we are the king of our castle, life has to be good. Selfishness may bring us temporary happiness, but it is always fleeting.

So how do we extract the poison of being self serving from our marriages? Jesus lets us know in John 13:34. He tells us to “Love one another.” I know you are thinking, “Well thanks captain obvious. That is why we got married in the first place, because we loved one another.” I didn’t say it, Jesus did. But see the problem is, we are noun loving. We are making love a thing, a feeling, something sentimental and valentiney. We need to make love a verb, an action, a service. To love correctly involves doing something for the other person, and if we are doing something for the other person we are not serving ourselves.

The Apostle Paul builds on this idea. In Ephesians 5, he offers some heavy hitting advice on how to have a healthy marriage. If you haven’t read it, it would behoove (love that word) you to do so. Paul admonishes us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” How do we submit to one another in marriage? We put the other person’s needs first. It is where I say “Devon, you come first.” Devon replies, “I don’t think so, you are the priority here.” “No mam, I am here to see that your needs are met pronto.” Submitting to one another means we make the other person the priority. How often do we really see that? So often, it seems like marriages are every man for himself. Me, Me, ME! Mine, Mine, MINE. There is no room for a case of the “me monsters” in marriage.

The interesting thing is, when we submit to one another, when we make our spouse the priority, when we make love a verb, our needs end up being met in a way we could never imagine. You see, when our spouse is placed first, they want to meet our needs all the more. Then there is this wonderful circular relationship born. A magical dance that ebbs and flows between two people in love that are meeting one another’s needs.

So how are you doing? Got a case of the “me monsters”? Are you at the center of your own universe? Are you leaving your spouse to meet their own needs? Maybe things would look different in your marriage if you made love a verb, if you practiced mutual submission, if you served your spouse.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

Question: Name a practical way we can serve our spouse?

Can My Truth Be Different From Yours?

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Recently, I was having a discussion with several individuals about our belief systems. Some of us had similar beliefs, while others held divergent worldviews. During the discussion one person stated, “Well, that may be true for you, but it isn’t for me.” He was asserting that my reality or truth was different than his.

Is it possible for people to hold differing truths and both be correct? Can something be true for you and not for me? Many people will tell us this is perfectly rational, and not to mention accepting and inclusive. This is known as relativism. The ideology behind relativism is that people can hold two opposing beliefs and both be correct. While that is a nice sentiment, it does not conform to reality.

If I believe it’s perfectly healthy to drink cyanide, and you believe it will kill me, does that mean I will live? If I believe that $50+$50=$1,000, will my bank be okay with that math? If I believe extra-marital relationships are healthy, and my wife says they are detrimental to a marriage, will it be okay if I cheat on my wife? I can certainly guarantee you that she won’t think so. When it comes to truth, there can simply be only one reality. Truth is determined not by opinion, but instead by what is an accurate reflection of reality.

When it comes to Christianity, I do not adhere to it simply because “it works for me.” I do not accept the teachings of Christ because I think they are a good version of the truth. I affirm Christianity because I think it is an accurate expression of what is real.

Relativism, or the belief that two opposing beliefs can both be true, is self contradictory. A relativist will tell you that there is no objective truth that applies to everyone. What is the problem with that statement? The relativist has just made an objective statement about truth saying there is no objective truth. So basically, what he just said is meaningless.  He is saying that it is true there is no truth. Relativism is broken from the start. Something is true for everyone or it is true for no one.

What I have noticed about people who hold to the idea that truth is relative, or that truth is different for various people, is that they are selective in applying it. They don’t question the Theory of Gravity, the boiling point of water, mathematical equations, or musical scales. Instead, they apply their relative perspective on matters of God’s existence, issues of morality, religion, and ethical practices. As an experiment, the next time someone says that truth is relative, try stealing their car. Just tell them, “Stealing is only wrong according to your worldview, it is perfectly acceptable in mine” and see how they react. (Don’t really steal their car, that was just for an example. You have to clarify these things you know.) Relativists seem to lose their “no objective truth” mentality when their rights are impinged upon.

So why do some hold to the idea that truth is relative? Because it allows them to live exactly as they please. It frees them to be in control of their own lives without answering to anyone. They are disentangled from the demands and consequences of God. They are no longer constrained by morality and can do what they desire.

The problem is, whether one concedes to truth or not, it will eventually catch up with them. Truth is truth, regardless of whether or not we choose to accept it. In his recent book How Do You Kill 11 Million People, Andy Andrews makes this statement, “If it is correct that ‘you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free’ then is it possible that if you don’t know the truth, its absence is bondage?” I believe this is a resounding yes. When we don’t know the truth, or refuse to find or accept the truth, we live in bondage.

There is one truth. It reflects what is real. Look for it. Heed it. Live by it. Overthrow the bondage of living in its absence. There are millions of competing ideas, but only one can be right. Test the claims people make. Do they hold up when they are set before reality? Examine all claims closely!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” II Corinthians 10:4-5

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.

Josh

Remember the Hope

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Today has been wonderful. I have spent the entire day being lazy with my wife and son. No schedule. No work. No school. No stress. It has been a wonderful Christmas Eve’s Eve.

I absolutely love this time of year. The world seems to be softer and quieter during the few days that surround Christmas. The important things in life take precedence, as they should all year long. Families and friends enjoy time together. The birth of the King is celebrated, and His passion remembered. Today, my heart is brimming with love, joy, and peace. My mind is at rest. My stomach is holding more than it was designed to.

As all is right in my world, I am reminded that this is not so for everyone. For every child that is born, one is lost. For every full stomach, there are several empty. For every child that opens a present on Christmas, there will be plenty that have not known the pleasure of receiving a gift. For some, Christmas is a time of happiness, while others are stooped in despair. Many look on to the next year with excitement, and others dread. We never know where life will take us in a year. Things look up and turn down so quickly.

Life is spent vacillating between hope and hopelessness. Christmas is a time when many feel without hope. They go through the holiday motions, hurting, feeling an ache inside. Tragedy, death, pain, and loss do not set aside their cruelties for the holidays. I hope that this Christmas you find yourself blessed, excited, joyous, with a waltz in your heart, and a smile that cannot be hidden. Yet, I know there are plenty who feel contrary to joy this season, as they endure what life has served them.

Regardless of where we find ourselves, we should be reminded that Christmas is about hope. It is a celebration of hope. For unto us, a Child is born. Unto us, a Son has been given. Without the birth of Christ, we remain as dead men. With the death of Christ, we become alive. Apart from the cross, there can be no hope. Whether times are merry or filled with affliction, I pray we remember the Hope.

Is life difficult this Christmas? Remember the Hope.
Has there been loss? Remember the Hope.
Does your soul ache? Remember the Hope.

One day all will be set right. All tears will be dried. Joy will abound.

Merry Christmas. Remember the Hope

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

This will be my last original post for this year. I am content to end the year with the nice even number of 50 posts. Next week I will be celebrating with my family and enjoying the last remaining days of the year. I plan on re-posting the five most popular blogs of the year next week, then bring us a challenge for the new year after it rolls in! You can also now follow the blog on twitter @walkgood515

Thanks for you that read my thoughts and share your own. My wife gave me a really cool gift. She had all of my writings this year made into a book. It is really neat to flip through the pages and remember my thoughts! I find myself blessed this year! I Hope yours is too! Merry Christmas once again!

Apologetic Wednesday: Philosophy According to the Black Eyed Peas

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One thing I love about my family is the joy that resides within our home, as well as how that joy spontaneously erupts at unexpected times. In the Fults’ house, we often have impromptu dance sessions. Our son, Hayden, loves these times. For him to dance, and see mom and dad jointly involved in the stilted choreography brings his little heart delight.

Our most recent dance party was the result of an infectious song by, none other than, the Black Eyed Peas, entitled “Where Is the Love?”. I had only heard this song a few times before, but as we danced I also listened to the words. I have a habit of paying attention to what people are communicating and remembering lyrics is somewhat second nature to me. As I listened, amidst our spinning and bouncing, I was really taken back by a profound truth in the song. If you will permit me, I’d like to share with you some philosophy according to the Black Eyed Peas. I think reading a few selected portion of the lyrics will be worth the few seconds it takes.

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity

A war is goin’ on but the reason’s undercover
The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love

There is a tremendous amount of insight packed into this song, but that last line is quite telling. “If you never know truth, then you never know love. Love has meaning when it is grounded in the presence of truth. This is how God loves us, in truth. Scripture reminds us that God is love, and Jesus also affirms that He is the Truth. The two cannot be separated, for without truth there can be no love.

God loves us enough to let us know our hearts are desperately wicked. He loves us enough to not leave us in ignorance about who we are, depraved individuals. He sees in our hearts the wrong that we, at times, deny, and points it out. Sometimes, the truth is offensive, but He cares enough to communicate it to us through love because our best interest is His motivation.

Truth without love is abrasive and condemning. Love without truth is not really love at all, it is merely flattery. Love and truth most coexist, or they become useless.

Are we loving others in conjunction with truth? Are we speaking truth with humility and love? Let’s speak what we know to be true. Why? Because there are many people that need to hear truth motivated out of our love. Fight for truth, but make love your weapon.

“The truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

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