Friday, January 17, 2014

Why I am a Christian

"And above all, you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best..." - C.S. Lewis

You know, I have a really hard time understanding intellectual, non-Christians... I mean, how can you have such good evidence for things like God's existence or Jesus' resurrection and still deny it? Why is it so hard for people to trust God with their lives? Today, I put it together. 

So, there are good days and bad days in the life following divorce, even years afterwards. When the bad days come, it is hard to stay focused on the Lord because sometimes you can't understand why God allows things to happen to you and you can get angry at Him. I have been struggling to remain content in my singleness the last couple days and so of course, today a girlfriend comes to me today and is like, "I need advice on how to remain content in my singleness and have patience for God's perfect will." I was in the middle of something, so I stopped, and without any preparation, turned to her and gave her the perfect textbook, Biblical, Christian-ese answer ever. And we prayed, and she left the conversation encouraged. And then I just sat there for a minute and was like, how in the heck can I know exactly what to say to someone else in my mind, but it is so hard to take to heart myself? Why do I struggle with stuff when I know sooooo well what the true answer is? And then I realized that is how people can recognize the truth and still refuse to take it to heart. Because it's hard to live in the pursuit of truth.

It's a daily choice to decide to let God direct your life, and some days, you just really don't want to. You want to press on the accelerator because it seems like God is driving like Grandma in the slow lane and you are anxious to get to your destination. Or sometimes you get hungry and want to veer off on an exit to find the nearest place you can satiate your hunger. Or you think you can get there faster on side streets so you take the journey in your own hands and hop off the freeway-which is the most direct path- (but it actually ends up taking you twice as long because of all the stop signs and lights - I know you know what I am talking about...). Non-Christians just don't value truth enough to live their lives accordingly. Their spirit recognizes Jesus as God, but it comes with a condition of moral living and their flesh wars against that. So they look for alternative paths. To avoid the high morality that the Bible calls for. To avoid the hard decisions.

As Jim Wallace says, "I’m not a Christian because it 'works' for me. I had a life prior to Christianity that seemed to be working just fine, and my life as a Christian hasn’t always been easy. I’m a Christian because it is true. I’m a Christian because I want to live in a way that reflects the truth. I’m a Christian because my high regard for the truth leaves me no alternative." Amen.

When I was going through my divorce, I wrote a lot. It was very therapeutic for me and I wrote the following passage right after it was finalized:

"My life has definitely not gone the way that I planned or even wanted, and God has said no plenty of times, even when I thought the pain and sadness of that answer would kill me. If it weren’t for my apologetics training, I would have become a former Christian turned hostile Atheist a long time ago. But I am still a Christian. And, an apologist. Therefore, I know, through many years of study, research, and logic, that there is no good alternative besides the Christian God. He is it. People can ignore Him, and quite a bit of the world does and I even did for a time in my own life, but He does not go away. Churchill once said that you can ignore truth, but it does not go away. That's the way it is with God. So yes, while God has occasionally let things incredibly difficult in my life, and it would be very easy to get mad and turn away, I don't. Why? Because I am 100% positive (because of evidence and faith) that He is there. If He is there, and He is God, then as defined by his nature, he must be inherently good and just. And if he is inherently good and just, then there are reasons why I have gone through as much as I have in my short life here on earth. While I don't know what those reasons are, and rarely get the answers I am looking for to my "why" questions, I will not turn away. I cannot deny that He is there, and that He is good and He is just. Therefore, when times are tough, even then, I will praise him."

I'm not single because it's fun. I'm single right now because I know that God's way is better and so there is no settling for the first guy that crosses my path, no matter how lonely I am or how much I desire to be married again. There is only God's best, and it's just simply better. This is also why I am a Christian. Because even if it's not easy all the time, I am not willing to settle for a worldview or religion that is "good enough" or "temporarily satisfying". I want the best there is. I want THE truth. And when it comes to the test for truth, there is no other worldview that can compete with Christianity. It is not only the best truth, it's the ABSOLUTE truth.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Identity Theft

Logically Answering Two of the Most Popular Pro-Choice Arguments

For those of you who don't know, I recently started teaching a high school Apologetics class at a Christian school. We recently wrapped up our module on Philosophy and jumped into Ethics this past week. Philosophy is my weak area as a scholar and so I have been reading, studying, and researching like a fiend the past month to brush up on what I learned 2-5 years ago as a college student myself, so that I could articulate the ideas thoroughly and correctly when teaching. In my studies, I came across a video of a lecture by J.P. Moreland in which he gave a case for Mind/Body Dualism.[1] While watching it I was blown away at how simply he gave for the case for the existence of an immaterial soul by appealing to the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity is simply this: A is A. (I know, what a brain buster!) Basically, whatever is true of one is true of the other because they are exactly the same thing. At the time I was teaching on the difference between Mind/Body Monism and Dualism, and I thought, "Okay that’s cool", dropped it into my apologetics toolbox, did my lesson, and moved on.

It’s My Body
This week, however, when I was working on my Ethics lessons, the current ethical issues of our day came up, and the one that is nearest and dearest to my heart is abortion (You can read my personal story here). So, I started researching different arguments on both sides of the issue and I came across the number one reason that Pro-Choicer’s use to defend Abortion: “If it’s my body, I have the right to choose.” I was like, “Wait, no, it’s not your body!” Of course, before this, I had felt that the unborn had "being" separate from the mother, but how do you prove that logically to a person who won’t accept the Bible’s word for it (Psalm 139:13-16)?  But then it hit me all of a sudden- the Law of Identity! A is only A if they share the EXACT same attributes. Every single thing about them has to be exactly the same, or they are not identical. And guess what? Mom doesn’t have the exact same DNA as their kid. Yes, they have half the same DNA (sharing 23 chromosomes), but the baby also has the DNA of the father as well (the other 23 chromosomes), so the baby and the mom are not identical. The unborn child is a completely SEPARATE entity from Mom. The unborn child is NOT the same as the mother’s body so she DOES NOT have the right to choose based on that reasoning.

It’s Not a Person
The second reason I hear from Pro-Choicers is that the child is not a person until it is born. How does the Law of Identity affect this argument? Well, those who appeal to abortion most often do not hold to Mind/Body Dualism. To them, mankind is just physical or material (Mind/Body Monism), therefore, no immaterial soul. The problem for materialists or physicalists is that the mind/soul and brain/body are not the same. As Moreland points out, there are things that are true of the mind that are not true of the brain. In his paper on the same subject, he writes, “For example, thoughts cannot be a physical state of the brain. Why? Because there are things true of my thoughts that are not true of a physical state of my brain. It does not make any sense to ask how many inches long is my thought that lunch is in an hour and a half. How much does it weigh? Is that thought closer to my left ear or closer to my right ear? What geometrical shape does that thought have? Is it sort of weird shaped or is it a square or a rectangle? That is all nonsense. However, while I am thinking, the state that is going on in my brain at that time does have a shape. It is located in, say, my left or my right hemisphere, so it will be closer to my left or right ear. It will have a certain mass and chemical composition. And there is something true of a thought that cannot be true of a brain state. Thoughts can be true or false. Brain states are neither true nor false, they just exist. So there are things true of my thoughts that cannot be true of my brain state, so thoughts cannot be the same thing as my brain state.”[2]

If the mind and the brain are not the same thing, then it follows that the mind is of another substance, that of the immaterial. Man is not just a physical being, he is spirit as well. He has soul. And if this is the case, he has unique personhood capable of free conscious choice, deserving of the right to life. As Scott Klusendorf points out, personhood is not determined by size, location, environment, or degree of dependency.[3] If the unborn has personhood, and has a soul, then abortion truly is murdering a person, not just getting rid of some physical tissue or cells. It also means that Pro-Choicers are guilty of thievery when it comes to the personhood of the unborn – they are committing “identity theft” against the unborn en masse.

Conclusion
The Law of Identity has many implications for the issue of abortion but to conclude, it means specifically that a mother does not, regardless of what society says, have the right to choose death for her unborn child because it is not identical to her and therefore not her body. Second, the fact that the Law of Identity supports the existence of a soul in every human being means that the second most popular argument for abortion collapses under the weight of logic and critical reasoning and that the unborn is indeed a person and has a God-given, intrinsic right to life.





[3] Scott Klusendorf gives an excellent case for the personhood of the unborn, so please head to his website for that specifically - http://www.prolifetraining.com/fiveminute1.asp

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Illogically Hostile Side of Atheism


So recently I joined Twitter. I am enjoying it for the most part, except for one thing: Atheist trolls. These are Atheists who "troll" Twitter looking for Christians to argue with or be generally hostile towards. 

One thing I have noticed in my life as an apologist is that there are two different kinds of Atheists: the apathetic kind and the hostile kind. The former, while I wish for them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, I have no problem with because they are generally kind people who simply don't believe there is a God. My confusion comes from the hostile side of Atheism.

I mean, if you truly believe there is no God, why get all worked up over what a bunch of delusional Christians think? If one is a true Atheist, shouldn't there be a universal apathy among Atheists towards religion as a whole? One of the excuses they use for being angry is that religion damages society and they need to defend it, 
(1). Now, I know there is something to be said for the fact that certain world religions call for violence towards others, but Christianity isn't one of them. Why aren't there more Atheist trolls going after or standing up to Muslims on Twitter or other social networks? England has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe. Why doesn't Dawkins harp about that religion's damage to society? (2). Why only talk about Christianity when you can't even substantiate your claims? Christianity as a whole has benefitted society throughout history way more than it has damaged it, (3). Can they say the same thing for Islam? No. They know that Christians won't actually do the damaging things they say we do, which shows that they don't even really think that themselves and just use it as an excuse to attack us.

Deep inside many atheists are really just angry cowards hiding behind their hostility. They attack Christians because we won't try and physically kill them for blaspheming our God. They know that we will fight back only with prayers and logical arguments because we believe in a God of love and justice. We know the Lord can take care of Himself. The only logical answer here is that a hostile Atheist isn't an Atheist in the truest sense of the word. He is a person angry at God or angry at Christians for misrepresenting God to them. If an Atheist truly believes there is no God, their life should be marked by a general apathy towards Him. Atheists who are hostile usually hate God, but in order to hate something it has to exist... If it doesn't exist in one's mind or heart in the first place, those feelings of hate towards it would have never developed. As Ravi Zacharias says- "No one gets this upset about the Tooth Fairy!" (paraphrased, emphasis mine).

If you are a hostile Atheist and you are reading this, my advice is to let it go. We as Christians love you and only want to share what we believe is the purpose of this life -to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. We have no secret, hidden agenda to damage society, I promise. There is no reason to hate on us.

If you are a Christian reading this my end point is: how do we, as Christians, respond to Atheists? Well, if it is the apathetic Atheist we are dealing with, we can use apologetic arguments to make a case for the probability of God's existence. They may smile and nod and go on their merry way, but as the apologist you have done your job by planting the seed. Now, if it is the angry Atheist, it is probably not an intellectual issue but a moral or emotional issue. There has to be something that triggered the hostility in them and no amount of arguing is going to change their mind. Instead of wasting precious hours looking up ways to desolate them in arguments, get on your knees and ask God to heal their wounds. Ask Him to soothe their hostility and be Christ to them until you notice a change in their attitude towards God. The softening may or may not come while you are in their life, but your prayers are preparing them for that point later on when the Holy Spirit will be able to penetrate their heart.

What I have learned in my experiences is that it's not about how well I argue that will convince someone to be a Christian, but how well I am able to recognize their spiritual needs and be equipped to minister accordingly, whether it is to their head, or more importantly, to their heart. I encourage you to do the same.

 

(1.)http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian-Nation-ebook/dp/B000JMKTNM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370550758&sr=1-1&keywords=sam+harris+letter+to+a+christian+nation

(2.)http://www.humanevents.com/2013/05/29/islams-rule-of-numbers-explains-london-beheading/


Thursday, May 16, 2013

ISWA Poll Results: What draws Christian women to Apologetics?



Apologetics Poll taken by ISWA asking Christian women to rank their study interests - 

These are the results from almost 300 women:


1. Most important - basic, general apologetics knowledge; basically being able to defend their faith. This is why ISWA started with the basics in our new curriculum. It is a broad overview giving the average Christian answers to those who challenge them on their faith.


2. Second most important - training their own children. This includes little kids, homeschoolers, and youth ministry.


3. Next, scientific topics, such as creation/evolution. This is probably due to the fact that many are moms dealing with public school educated kids that come home with questions as to why their teacher says that science and faith are incompatible. This is why science is sprinkled throughout the ISWA U curriculum, so the moms have answers for their kids. 


4. Next, Evangelism ties with women’s ministry. Christian woman want to be able to evangelize more successfully and also be able to teach other women to do the same. Many are yearning for more from their women’s ministry than tea parties and craft fairs. 


5. After that comes cults and world religions. Specifically named: Atheism and Islam. Women know these are huge challenges in the culture that we live in today. New Atheism and Islam (as it is stated in the Qur'an) are hostile to Christianity in many parts of the world.


6. Tied with cults and world religions is the pro-life movement. Many women feel called to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves and minister to young women facing confusing choices in light of an unplanned pregnancy. 


7. Next comes an interest in archaeology and history, specifically that which lends external evidence for the reliability of the Bible. 


8. Lastly comes other random issues like universalism, eschatology, and societal issues.


What is your opinion on these results? Do they surprise you? Give you hope? They certainly did for me and reminded me why I do what I do… Hopefully this gives you some direction for your own apologetics ministry as well... don't forget that half the Christian population is eager to be equipped to be able to defend their faith as well... 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Even Through Autism

My son is one of the cutest kids I have ever seen. I know what you are thinking: Of course you say that; he is your kid. But it’s not just me. Every person I know and run into says the same thing.  The first thing people always notice about him is his eyelashes. They seriously go on for miles, (Isn't that the way it is with boys? What the heck is that about anyways?). My son’s are so long that when he was a baby I used to pray that they would stop growing because I was afraid that people would mistake him for a girl with a Bieber-haircut and a penchant for the color blue. Everyone says I should get him into modeling or acting, but what most people don’t know is that Lochlann has Autism, ADD, and speech delays. He is five now but developmentally is around 31/2 or 4. This not to say that he is not as smart as the average five-year-old, because he is, but like most autistic kids, there are many factors that keep him from being able to express that intelligence in his speech. Also, he rarely listens or takes orders. That doesn’t bode well for a successful career in show biz.

When I was pregnant, my biggest fear was that I would have a child with Autism. I prayed that God would be merciful and make my child perfect because I didn’t think I could handle a special-needs child. I thought I was in the clear until Lochlann was about a year and a half old. I couldn’t tell you what it was, but something inside me told me that something was wrong. I was so new at the whole mothering thing I thought maybe I was worrying too much. I voiced my concerns to others and was told that because he was a boy, he was just taking longer to mature than the girls my friends had. I accepted that for a bit, but then saw boys a year younger than him, surpassing him developmentally. Because it was tight financially, I contacted the county about getting aid to get him tested. It took almost a year and a half for them to get a speech therapist to come to the house. They ended up coming one month before he turned three, at which point he was to be turned over to the school system anyways.

That year and a half was probably the most difficult of my life. I was not working so I was with my son every day, all day, and was completely unable to communicate with him. I bought every flashcard and instructional DVD that was out and attempted to teach him on my own. I reached a point of breaking down many times. His ADD made it difficult for him to sit still for any length of time but in those rare moments when he would sit there I would try to teach him things and had no idea if he understood a word I was saying to him. He would just stare at me or past me vacantly sometimes, with those beautiful eyes, and I would just start to sob and beg the Lord to wake him up. I loved my son more than my own life, but I wanted to meet him as well. To know this little person, this miracle that I had almost lost at birth, (I had been in labor almost 24 hours before the doctor couldn’t hear his heartbeat anymore and decided to do an emergency c-section).

On the first night Lochlann was born, I sat in the hospital bed with him in my arms and dedicated him to the Lord. No matter what, I told God that Lochlann was his now and that I would train him in the ways of the Lord and make sure that he knew his Scripture and proper doctrine, and that whatever God willed for his life I would accept it. Having been a pretty advanced kid myself, I pictured us sitting around the kitchen table when he turned three, learning Greek and English side by side and going through children's bible studies. I did not picture Autism. I had done a research paper on it as a college student and had read difficult stories about various kids and families dealing with Autism. My greatest fear was to have a child locked inside his own mind. And yet, for a time in Lochlann’s toddlerhood, that was exactly a fear God allowed to come to fruition in order that I might turn to the Lord and realize that nothing is impossible with Him.....

Read the rest of this post at Down By Abby: Thoughts on God, church, family, autism and whatever else comes to mind...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

ISWA University!

Hey y'all! Check out our brand new ISWA U curriculum designed specifically for the busy Christian who wants to be equipped to give answers for the hope that lies within! ISWA U will equip and train you in basic Apologetics and provide you with the resources to go even deeper in your study of why you believe what you believe. In the world we live in today, it is crucial for us as Christians to engage in Apologetics, not just for the strength of our own faith, but that of our kids and others around us who are in desperate need of the truth.

We have six new, short, and concise textbooks entitled: 

Why Apologetics? - Giving the definition of apologetics and the reasons for why apologetics is important.

Truth - Is truth absolute? How can we know that?

The Existence of God- What reasons do we have for believing that the God of the Bible exists?

The Case for Miracles - Is the supernatural possible? Could those miracles in the Bible actually have happened?

The Reliability of the Bible - Can we trust the Bible? Is it authentic and accurate? Is it really God's Word?

Rethroning Jesus - The Case for the Existence, Deity, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Was He really who He said He was? Did He do all the Bible says He did?


ISWA U's goal is to bridge the gap between the seminary and the home. We get it. You don't have a lot of time. That's why each of the textbooks are smaller than the average magazine, FREE, and downloadable 24/7 from the ISWA website, from anywhere in the world! Check out our promo video for more info:



ISWA U Promo Video from Sarah Ankenman on Vimeo.


The textbooks can be downloaded in PDF format HERE!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Am.....

You remember those "I Am" poems we had to do in school? Well, they inspired this random poetic blogpost...

I Am

I am............... saved by grace
I wonder.........what God's plan is for me
I hear............. the Word being taught
I see...............God's light shining through people
I want..............to be worthy of the gift of grace.

I am ...............a work in progress.

I know........... my sins put Jesus on the cross
I pretend........to be the perfect Christian
I feel............. the spiritual battle waging around me
I touch...........the soft leather of my Bible
I worry......... when I see unsaved family and friends
I cry............. when I think of Jesus on the cross

I am............. The passion of the Christ

I understand ...that it is by grace I am saved through faith
I say.............. that you should know Christ
I dream......... about Heaven
I hope............to be counted a faithful servant
I live.............. each day by faith

I am...............a Christian


2 Chronicles 2:6 “But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who am I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?”