This New Generation.

Matthew 11:16a — To what shall I compare this generation?

I took a personality test today. It was kind of a cool experience because the results really were what I wanted to be (INFJ). It asked a bunch of questions about what I am like, and what I do, but there was one question that made me think. The test asked “Do you think that everyone’s views should be respected whether they are supported by facts or not?” The test was asking about respecting another person’s views, which we should do. It would be rude to go out onto the street, and find some helpless atheist and then start yelling to everyone “His views are wrong! He’s an idiot!” We are supposed to respect one another, even if we disagree. Disrespect, and disagreement are very different.

To disrespect someone is to not show them any love at all, and in fact show the opposite. To disagree is to think that someone is wrong. When we disrespect someone we hurt them, but when we disagree with someone we either respect them and leave it at that, or we try and have a rational argument with someone in order to build them up.

Okay, I’ve got that part done. At this point you may be thinking: I get the difference now, so what? The “so what” is the fact that the new generation (the teens) in America doesn’t seem to get that. For over 150 years the US has been striving toward a goal of complete human equality, meaning that all humans get the same amount of respect. We are closer than ever to completing this goal, but I think that we have taken this idea too far. We have gone beyond respecting and tolerating our differences, and started to ignore them.

This has been worse in certain areas of equality than others. There is immense value in our differences, they are what make us strong. We should be able to use some of our differences to build each other up. The biggest part way in which I have seen tolerance turn to ignorance is in religion. Many teens that I know don’t seem to respond when I talk about the gospel. They say something along the lines of “that’s cool.” This is the problem: we have stopped discussing our beliefs in order to find out who is right and, in the name of tolerance, started to completely disregard each other’s views.

What should we do about this? How do you argue with somebody who isn’t listening? You can’t. This is where some major verses can come into play. 1 John 3:18 says “let us not love with words  or tongue” (eg reasoning, and traditional evangelism) “but with actions and in truth.” John is saying that sometimes words, and speech aren’t enough to get through to a person, we have to love them. When we love people we show them God because “God is love.”

What else can we do? If people aren’t listening to our words then the only other thing that can show them the truth is God moving. This is where healings, and powerful encounters with God come into play. We can show others who God is in even more direct ways than love. We can pray over them.

Who’s More Powerful God or the Devil?

You probably read the title there and immediately thought “well, duh! God!” That is what you should think, but it often isn’t how we act. We often act like we are constantly at odds with the devil, which we are, but the thing we don’t realize is that our savior already won.

We don’t want to give the devil more credit than he deserves. You shouldn’t be too worried when bad things are happening somewhere. Don’t say “oh, the devil is really active there, those poor people.” Instead ask God to make that place a safe haven, where the devil is blocked by a fifty foot wall. Blaming everything bad on the devil doesn’t help at all, letting God in does.

Here’s another way to look at it. Say I have a problem with being mean to other people. If all I ever do is blame it on the devil will I feel any responsibility to stop. No! I should be praying for God to help me stop, and then actively trying to stop. Even if the devil is causing my issues I should act like God is more powerful. We have been given authority over the Earth in God’s name, we should act like it.

1 Peter 3:22 — Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Combating the World

John 16:33 — “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes we hang out with our friends who are particularly worldly, and we feel like we’ve been influenced by them. I certainly feel this a lot. When I get done hanging with some of my friends I feel gross, like I just went swimming in the sewer. After I long time with those friends I need time to regenerate, and readjust myself. This time is really important.

Some things to remember when you get feeling like this are how God has defeated the world, and how we are not part of this world. As John 16:33 said Jesus overcame the world. The world is a place of death, but Jesus defeated death. The world is a place of sin, but Jesus lived a fully human life without sin. Because of our identity as royalty in God’s kingdom we aren’t part of this mess. We need to remember that we are not worldly like the people that we may hang with. We are no longer consigned to this world of sin. We are not of it.

So how do we combat this feeling. During the time with these worldly friends try to talk about God. Where God is fear, hate, and impurity are banished, they cannot stay in God’s presence. Bring God into the conversation, and if you must remove yourself from it. Don’t give into the ways of the world. When your done socializing, and you go home, or somewhere else private dive deep into God. Read His word, pray, worship, and just rest with Him. Like I already said God banishes fear, hate, and impurity. God will regenerate you, and get you back to where you were before, if not higher.

The world is a crazy place, and sometimes you need to find ways to fight it. God is the way to do so, everything about Him can become a source of strength.

1 John 1:9 —  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Our Identity

“stupid,” “weak,” “gay,” “worthless,” “liar,” “cheapskate,” the list goes on and on. These are all names that people get called, identities that people try and force onto other people. Some people are strong enough to have their own identity, and blaze their own trail, but for many of us its hard. Thats why this idea is so important: our identity does not revolve around who we are, but around who God is.

I posted before about how we died, and rose again with Christ. This is part of the reason His identity is ours. His blood covered our sins making them irrelevant. things like “liar,” and “gay” become powerless. We also rose with Christ to become a “new creation” we aren’t what we used to be, and what’s more we are now royalty with Jesus, sons and daughters of the King. No prince or princess is worthless, no prince or princess is a cheapskate.

We also have God on our side. Not just some wimpy God that can occasionally heal a broken toe, but a God who is so powerful that through Him we can move mountains. This is the God who created the universe, and knows all of its secrets. IF this is the God in which we hold our identity then how can we be stupid or weak?

God has an identity for you that is smart, strong, pure, worthy of honor, honest, and so full of spiritual riches that they can’t be contained. All you have to do is claim your new identity as a child of God and a Christian (literally “little Christ”).

Spreading The Good News: Where To Start

1 Corinthians 13:13 — Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Often I feel very overwhelmed by the task of telling someone about Jesus. Jesus is so huge ad so important that I wonder, where should I start? The bible, as it often does, has the answer: start with love. Love is the single most important part of the Christian faith. without God’s love there would be no salvation, no blessings, no miracles, no need for praise and worship. As John put it “God is love.” Paul, and John say multiple times that we should be known for our love (see 1 John 3:17-18, Romans 12:9, 1 John 4:8, etc.). Paul even goes so far as to say that without love a Christian is nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:2 — If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

So we should start ministering to people with love, but what does that love look like. In this case there are two kinds of love: Gods love and our love. We should show people our love for others, and ourselves, but this love should stem from God’s love for us. While this shows God’s love a little bit we can do more. We can tell people about God’s love. Now realize that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are literally saying “God loves you!” all of the time. It might, but it doesn’t have to. God may tell you something special about that person and about how God loves that, or you may be able to demonstrate God’s love, or you may find certain things to say about God’s love.

Romans 5:8 — But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Much of Jesus’ ministry was about love. Why did He heal people if He didn’t love them? Jesus took the time to talk to Nicodemus at night, he talked to the samaritan woman at the well, and he called ordinary men, and gave them a higher purpose. Jesus was all about love, and he should be because God is love.

Song of Songs 2:8 — Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.

Our Death and Resurrection

Colossians 2:12 – having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

In the Old Testament baptism represented purification, and initiation into Judaism. After Christ came baptism came to be a sign of our Christian conversion. The cool thing about baptism though is that is also symbolizes us dying with Christ, and us being resurrected with Him. This idea of dying with Christ is huge.

Romans 6:4 – We were therefore buried with Him

We were buried with Jesus. At first glance this doesn’t sound like a good thing. One may ask “Do I have to die to become Christian?” The obvious answer is no! It isn’t our physical body that dies with Jesus, it is our old sin-self (Christianese for “who we were before we became Christian”). When Jesus died He took our sins with Him, and not just our sins, but also our identity as sinners.

Romans 6:4 – in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We died in order to be raised to life. We can’t be brought back to life if we aren’t dead. Does that mean that it is our old sin-self that is resurrected? No! When Jesus came back to life it was because He defeated death. We come back as a new creation with our identity centered in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Faking It?

Sometimes our prayers feel like the room at the top of this page: empty. I hear about powerful prayer all the time. Prayer causing healing, powerful revelations through prayer, and close encounters with God, but what about when these things don’t happen? Our culture seems to expect powerful prayers, so that when we don’t have powerful encounters with God we feel like we are doing something wrong. We may even begin to ask are we faking it?

Not feeling something doesn’t mean that we are faking it. If we earnestly try then we can’t be faking it. Think of it like this: if you want to go to Disneyland you are going to save up, plan for the trip, and then buy tickets for you and who ever is going with you. If you are only pretending to want to go to Disneyland you will tell people that you are going, but you wont go to all the trouble of buying tickets, and planning a trip. That would be a waste of time and money! Its the same with prayer. If you are spending the time with God, and searching for Him in you private life you are not faking it. What would be the point of praying in private if you didn’t really want God?

1 Chronicles 16:11 — Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

The Scientific Affront to Christianity

1 Timothy 6:20 — O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”

Many people in the world today think that Christian beliefs are just “fairy tales”, and “myths”. When Christians try to bring up things like Creationism, and healing many people dismiss it by saying things like “Oh, no, I believe in science.” The trouble with this is that much, if not all, of Christianity is either supported by science, or out of its explanatory range.

Romans 1:22 — Professing to be wise, they became fools.

I have one teacher who I try to talk to creation about. He often starts the conversation by asking me a question. When I start to talk about how I believe that God created everything in a literal six days he always asks me this:  “What about the fossil record?” The trouble with this question is that it,  by itself, cannot prove anything. All that this question claims is that the fossil record exists. I could respond “Yes I think that there is a fossil record.” My fossil record of course is one that proves God created the world in six days. In order to truly understand his question I need to ask him to clarify.

When I get past his question my teacher brings the conversation to a dead stop by saying “Well, I believe in science.” This, also proves nothing. Science doesn’t disagree with what I believe, certainly the majority of the scientists do, but the science doesn’t. Most people seem to think that science and Christian beliefs are in constant conflict. Science says that humanity evolved, Christians say they were created. Science “disproves the existence of the supernatural, Christians believe in a God, and angles, and demons. Science does not contradict what I believe! First off, the science involved in the origin of the humans species is called origins science, and cannot be nearly as certain as operational science which is the science of repeatable, and testable things. Second, Science studies the physical and natural world. It can say nothing about a supernatural world.

Most non-Christians believe that science and Christianity are in conflict when really they aren’t. It is the scientists who disagree, not the science.

Colossians 1:17 — He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Evolution Vs Creationism: A Linguistic Approach

Genesis 11:8 — Come, let us co down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.

In the educational world biology is very closed to creationist views and completely ignores most creationist views on the origin of life. It is the same way in many other common scholarly subjects like geology, and chemistry. Linguistics is nice, though, because it is much more open to views on creation, and the biblical history of the world.

There are many different theories explaining how language originated among humans. linguistics admits that there is a huge gap between animal communication and human language. our throats are built differently than all animal throats. We have a much larger larynx that is much lower in the throat than animal larynxes. This makes it much easier to talk (The larynx is the voice box), but it also makes it much easier to choke. Animals that have a smaller larynx can actually breathe while they eat and drink. The larger larynx would have to exist long before communication could take place, and would have only served as a handicap for humans, something that contradicts evolution’s “survival of the fittest.”

Man Chimpanzee Comparison
Notice the many differences between the human mouth and the mouth of the chimpanzee, our supposedly close relative.

Animals also have no communication near ours. Humans can improvise new words, and new sentences which is something that numerous studies have shown animals cannot do. Humans can also talk about things far away, and in the future or past. most animals can’t do that either. In fact, the best version of this (called displacement) in all of nature is the bee which can “dance” about things far away.

Evolution asserts that all languages must have originated from one original language. Creation says that while there was originally one language, but God made many more when the people were foolish enough to try to build a tower to heaven. The creationist theory makes the most sense to me. The other theories are many.

The first evolutionary theory says that language originated from the sounds of the things around us. The issue with this is that many of our words, and ideas can’t be expressed in terms of what sound they make. The second theory is related to this, and says that language probably originated from the sounds humans make while doing certain things. This would use things like “ouch”, and “yuck” to communicate. The trouble with this is that interjections such as these are normally made by a sharp intake of breath, not a slow breathing out.

The third theory says that language likely came from people having to communicate. This is a circular theory. It says that people had to find a way to communicate so that they could communicate. It doesn’t provide any explanation for why people would think up these complex systems to communicate instead of just a point or a grunt.

The fourth theory states that people just started to use their mouths in new ways, just like they had started to make tools. This is similar to the third theory. It still doesn’t explain why we started to communicate, or why we have so many different forms of language.

Out of all of these theories the creationist view make the most sense. It says that God made humans that already spoke a language, and that when they became foolish He made many other languages, and spread them across the world.

How Then Shall We Dress?

Our physical image shows the world who we are, and what we represent. It is very important that we represent God in a good manner. If our clothes are part of that we must think about how what we wear shows God to others. I don’t mean that we have to walk around wearing nothing but shirts that talk about God. I mean that what we wear makes others think differently about us, and more importantly God.

First, and most obvious, if we wear clothes that glorify violence, sexual immorality, and anger we are, ourselves, glorifying these things. Jesus’ philosophy was very clearly against these things. We may wear a shirt that glorifies one or more of these things without realizing the effect it may have on others. People see that shirt, and think “Is that what being a Christian looks like? How is that different than me?” Our image mot only tells people about us, but it also tells people about our relationship with God.

Second, when we wear that kind of clothing we provoke un-pure thoughts in others. People see your clothes and it makes them think about what is depicted on them. This is pretty much the same as my first point, but it revolves around others. if we dress in a way that doesn’t glorify God we don’t encourage others to do so.

Third, we should care more about Jesus than what we look like. God is the only thing that matters in all the world. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” You shouldn’t be worrying about what the newest trends are more than you think about God.

Matthew 6:28-30 —  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?