Thursday, September 29, 2005

Answering a Teen's Question

So at youth group this past Sunday we started a 5 week series on "Seeking God in Harry Potter". From Harry Potter I used a clip from The Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry has to trust Hagrid about how to approach the flying creature. The theme was trust and I used the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifce Isaac as the scripture. One of the youth ( a 7th grader no less) asked me a question that really got me off guard because I was not prepared to answer it. I answered it well enough that night I suppose, but I was not satisfied with my answer. I know that she is an EXTREMELY smart girl, so I wrote out a full blown (almost) essay like answer. So all you theological types out there, how'd I do?

Your Question:
Your question had two parts. First, how did Abraham know that it was God telling him to do this seemingly awful act and second why would God ever make a demand like that?

My Answer:
To answer the first part of your question, “how did Abraham know that it was God telling him” can simply be answered, he just did. Now the reason why he did is because Abraham and God were really tight. God first calls Abraham in Genesis Chapter 12. God tells Abraham to “leave your country, your people, and your family to go the land I will show you.” Abraham has no idea where God is taking him, but he leaves. God guides him by literally telling him where to go. In Genesis chapter 18, Abraham actually talks to God face to face and argues with him about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. So in Genesis 22 When God calls to Abraham in the middle of the night and tells him to sacrifice his son, it is obvious that Abraham clearly knows the voice of God. Now, the question this raises is how can we know the voice of God, because we have not heard a booming voice from the sky telling us what to do. There are two answers to this. First in John 10:14-16 Jesus teaches: 14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16. . . They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
If one truly knows Jesus (who is One with God the Father) then when he talks to them, they will just know it is him. In addition to that, we also have the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells his disciples in the upper room that “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I said to you. (John 14:26)” This means that the Holy Spirit will communicate to us when God is talking to us. When you become a Christian and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you. The Holy Spirit lets you know when God is trying to communicate to us and how. Once again it is hard to say how this happens, one just needs to be attentive and expectant and when the Holy Spirit leads someone, they will just know.
The second part of your question, “why would God ask that of Abraham” is a much harder one to answer. What makes this even harder to answer is the fact of how important Isaac was to Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarah were very, very old when they had their first son. Sarah had been unable to have children her entire life, but God promised them a child when they were old and Isaac was the fulfillment of that promise. It makes absolutely no sense why God would give something so precious and then take it away. It put Abraham in a gut wrenching decision where he had to decide of spearing his beloved son or doing what he knew God, his creator and sustainer, had ordered. That is what makes this story so great for talking about trust, because Abraham had to trust God with what was most dear to him. I believe that God asked Abraham to do this to create a point that Jesus would preach about thousands of years later. In Matthew 16:24-26 it states: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life[h] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Jesus is teaching that a person’s Faith and devotion to Him must be the most important thing in their life. God was asking Abraham to sacrifice his son in order to test and see if his faith in Him was the most important thing in his life. It is important to note that God never once intended for Isaac to die that day. God will occasionally test our faith, but in doing so he will never cause us to do something that is sinful. Personally, I can tell you of a time when God tested me. At the University of Evansville they have a program called Harlixton College. This is a campus the school owns in England and students can spend a semester taking classes there. I had assumed that I would not be able to because it was to expensive, but beginning my sophomore year, my parents told me it would be possible to go that Spring semester. What made this better was that Abigail, my then girlfriend and now wife was going to be there then to. it was like a dream come true, and I began making plans. I realized that I had not prayed about it, and I did so as a mere formality. However, I quite literally heard God tell me NO I could not go. In prayer I asked again and again, and every time the answer was the same: NO. I had two choices 1. Fulfill my dreams and do what I wanted or 2. Do what God said and trust Him. I chose to trust God, and I won’t lie it was hard. There were many days that I regretted my decision, but slowly I discovered why God told me No. That semester when I could have been England, God had me become a student leader in a Christian group on campus. I also led a Bible study for the first time, and I went on a mission trip to Mexico, where I know with all my heart God used me to make a real and huge difference for His Kingdom. All of that would not have happened if I had not listened to God and trusted in Him. I hope these answers help you out a little bit. If you have anymore questions, of if this answer does not fully satisfy your questions then please keep asking, and I will do my best to help.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Question of Faith. . .

First some Housekeeping Matters:

It has been over a week again. I know that I probably have less than 2o unique people who check here at least once a month, but I am sorry I will try to keep updates a bit more frequent. Also, I had to change what comments were allowed because of spammers. Thus, unless you have a blogger ID, you can't post comments. If you want to make a comment, just email me with it instead. If you don't have my email address, then here is a junk-mail account: Email that one and I will give you a real one. Now on to the real post . . .

For whatever reason Indianapolis has two faith channels. I can not imagine there is enough viewers to keep two almost identical channels going, but there is. This also means that for the most part at any given time of the day Benny Hinn is on TV. If you are unfamiliar with Benny Hinn he is the "faith healer" who hold crusades where he (usually) talks about the Holy Spirit and healings in some capacity before having people come up on stage who have been healed, and he then "slays them in the spirit" (they pass out when he puts his hand near them). Now I have for the most part always equated Benny Hinn with a crack-head. I also vividly remember, a Newsweek article I read that followed up with people who went up on stage and were healed at one of his crusades. Newsweek followed up with multiple people who were supposibly healed of chronic or long term illnesses (such as artheritis, diabeties, cancer, etc). Everyone they followed up with really had not been healed and still had the problem. One woman even died from cancer, after stopping treatements because she believed she was healed. Also a quick google search on "Benny Hinn" will give you scores of articles (like this one) that point out many heretical statements and actions he has made over the years. I also have also pondered how his TV healings work. He has a weekly (or maybe daily, I don't really know) show where he sometimes claims the holy spirit is telling people who need to be healed and he is proclaiming certain people viewing just got healed from some condition. I have always been curious, do those healings happen during a repeat as well? Basically I have always been very skeptical (and even cynincal) of Benny Hinn (and honestly I think I have good reason to be a bit so).

However, over the past two months while flipping through channels I have watched a bit of his stuff (since he really is almost always on one of the two channels). In doing so, I have had to ask myself why should I be so skeptical (heretical teachings and tape dealyed healings aside). Seriously, if I believe that nothing is impossible with God (which I do) and if I believe that he is very active in the lives of people today (which I do), and if I beleive that the Supernatural, such as miracles, still happen today (which I do), why should I be skeptical of Benny Hinn. I think the answer lies mostly in the heretical teachings of his and the "bad vibe" I always feel when watching him. Though I do have to thank his shows for making him question my faith. If a paraplegic wheeled up to me and told me they just asked God to make them walk again, do you think it will happen, how would I answer? I have honestly asked myself that question, and sadly my honest answer is something along the lines of "maybe" or "I guess it's possible." Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the rest of the disciples never said maybe, they said yes! While I do honestly leave God can do all things and that He is active, and that He does heal people, I realized that I do not truly Pray or Live like I believe that. Yes I know that logically that someone who's spinal cord has been snapped will not walk again, but then again I also know that it is impossible to walk on water. The one thing I can say about Benny Hinn, wether he be prophet or an Anti-Christ, he did (inadvertantly) teach me a humbling lesson about faith. My prayer is, now more than ever, the prayer of the man with a demon posessed son "I do believe, help me overcome my disbelief."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

For Abigail

Maybe this quiz will answer your question?

You are a

Social Moderate
(50% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(20% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Life is Good

So appereantly that is the "theme" for this year at school. They start every morning by stating "life is good" and the response is "all the time". It sounds like a postive, inspirational, Oprah type of thing to say. However, I think it is a load of crap. life is good . . . except when it's not. What about the kid who goes home and get the bejeezus beat out of him by an alcoholic parent, or the one who has a realitve dying of cancer, or the child who is being pulled two direction in a painful divorce is life good for them? NO! Life is hard even for elementary kids, and trying to impress upon them a rosey eyed view that life is always good, is going to set them up to 1) Fall from that belief and become cyncial or 2) Realize that they have been lied to by their teachers and learn to distrust authority. I guess there is the third option where I am reading way to much into this, but I still think repeating the mantra "life is good" is a bunch of hippy nonsense.

Anyway, for me life is really good. Seriously. It really feels like everything is just working right. We were in need of a new vehicle and we now have in our posession a sweet van (I believe the technical car word for this vehicle is a "pimp ride") . My job is going really well. Some opportunities are opening up to attempt and make friends (outside a church setting even). I am starting to get really good at DDR (shut up). Also, I just feel really good. I think I am finally getting comfortable with my role as an "adult" (though I am sure Abigail might use that word loosely to describe me). What else can I say life is good. Of course, what else I can say is the reason why life is good. The Bible states that " Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadow". So really life is good because God is good. And God is good. . .all the time (even when life isn't).

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Nostalgic Gaming

Journey back with me to just over four and half years ago (holy crap! has it really been that long?) I was in my second year in college living in the very cool (and super cluttered) room 003 in the Powell Hall Basement.. It is the second semester, and this semester was really, really hard on me. Up till this point, I had done most of my haning out with three people: Adam, Carrie and (of course) Abigail. The second semester saw Adam go home for the semester, while Abigail and Carrie were in England. On top of that, I had the worse set of classes that semester (not they were overly hard, they were just crappy classes). On top of that, I had a whole lot of personal issues that I needed to sort through. Now there is a very high likely hood that all of these issues would have converted into a high level of stress and I would have cracked under it all ( I definatly bent some that semester!). However, my sanity was preserved by having a great new room mate move in. Just as Abigail and Carrie were off to England, Stephen was returing (freshly scarred if anyone can remember that far back). Now along with being a really cool room mate, he introduced me to a game that I clung to as a life preserver. That game was none other than Quake III
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I daily (some days hourly) took all of my stress and frustrations and blasted all of it at bots in the form of hot plasma balls. I can not guess how much time I put into that game, but I can promise you that it was highly theraputic, and according to Penny Arcade, endorsed by the Almighty.
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Quake III not only made a hard semester easier, but if there is any game that turned me to being a "hardcore gamer" this was the one. Now it was not gazing through a year book that dregged up these memories, no I actually got the game. The game was adapted and modified for the PS2, which I got today. As soon as I could, I put it in and played CTF on the level in space with all the jump pads ( I know at least Stephen is with me on this one), and instantly I was teleported back to Powell 003, surrounded by the happy feelings playing then gave me. *Sigh* If only all vivid trips down memory lane could be bought used for less than $10 and have a high replay value . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Be Warned . . .

My life is rated PG-13.
What is your life rated?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Establishing Geek Cred

Heh. . .like I need to establish it anymore. Looking at how steeped I am in geekdom and how much knowledge I have about random geeky things I should really be running around in a forest some where LARPing as an elf or speaking Klingon. Anyway, here is my latest acomplishment:
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I finished first in a weekly Star Wars trivia contest. You can join the fun here, if you want.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Wow I can't belive it . . .

Has it really been a week since I last posted?!? I usually don't go that long, so sorry about (since I know so many people were checking in daily, frantically waiting for the next post. . riiight.) Anyway, I also really can not believe that it has been a month and half since Abigail and I left Corydon. Several different people have asked both Abigail and I if we are "homesick", and the answer both of us have is a very unsympathetic no. I don't miss Corydon at all, in fact I am glad to be out of the town, out of subbing in the school system, and even out of Old Capitol. That may sound harsh, but that is how I feel. Don't get me wrong, I deeply miss the teens I worked with and often wonder how they are doing, but I don't miss the church itself. Coming here is like a breath of fresh air, where the people actually support and like the the teens as they are and not only as who they want them to be. This is not to say that the two years that Abigail and I spent in Corydon was a loss, because it wasn't. While I probably a little bitter about a few othe going downs at Old Capitol, as a whole I count the entire experience as very worthwile and very positive. Also, I think that I grew up a lot in those two years. As I look back on the two years, and especially the last six months, hindsight is 20/20. It is amazing to see how God has worked in the lives of Abigail and I and brought us to where we are now.

Monday, September 05, 2005

All the cool kids are doing it!

It is really cool how, in the face of disaster, people are willing to give so much more. Either through there talents or through their money. It is sad that such generosity can not be more commonplace. However, there are a huge variety of fundraisers going on to raise money for the vicitims of Hurricane Katrinia, and some of them are brining in a ton of money! My favorite has to be this one. I placed my order tonight so that I can my part in fighting the flood. If you have a spare $25 laying around (that is how much it is with shipping), then maybe you should consider joining in.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

On Mini-Vans and Babies

One of the many reasons we were excited to move to Indianapolis is that we were not going to have to pay rent. It was our goal to take that money and do a combination of pay off student loans and save, save, save. However, we realized that we were reaching a point where we really needed to replace Abigail's neon (however, we realized this AFTER we made all of the major repairs, so it actually runs well now). So we were resigned to the fact that all the extra money we were going to get to save was instead going into buying a new car. However, that is not the case! Thanks to my incredible generous uncle, we are getting a van that they are getting rid of. So now we won't have to buy a new car, and to make it even better Abigail's sister is taking the Neon. While mini-vans have soccer mom plastered on them, it will actually be good for hauling all manners of kids. From youth group teenagers (which will be good having a bigger vehicle) all the way down to infants (not that we are going to be hauling one of those around any time soon). Speaking of infants I actually got spend time with one. We went to a get together for Abigail's family and among the atendees was Abigail's aunt who as a two year old boy. Now usually when babies are around, most adults start activly competing for the babies attention in a desperate attempt to get it to do something cute. For just about all of my life I have really avoided that game, and thus the time I have spent holding babies numbers in the minutes. However, I got to spend a lot of time with this little two year old (At first I was really the only one available and willing to watch him as he ran around), but I have to be honest I really enjoyed it. I had never held anyone that small so close to me for so long. I have never had a child hold on to me and smile so innocently. I know it is often the realm of girls to say "They're soooooo CUTE!!!!. But seriously He was really cute. It just occurred to me that I have no way to end my thoughts right now. Either I will continue to ramble until my writings become an (even more) incoherent mess, or I will try to hapazardly write a concluding sentence that is an incoherent mess, so instead I will just stop with this period.