Decision, decisions

Uber-apologist Wintery Knight linked to this last week so I thought I’d re-run it.

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Decision Making and the Will of God is one of my all-time favorite lessons to teach.  This is such a crucial topic, because we make big and small decisions all the time and are constantly living with the consequences of past decisions.

Does God speak to you about specific decisions when you are reading the Bible, such as whether you should pay off your mortgage, whom you should marry, what job you should take, etc.?  I think this is about how you apply the Bible to decision making and not about whether God sends individual messages through his word.

For example, if you want to know whether paying off your mortgage is the right thing to do, you have a couple options:

1. Ask God for a supernatural sign for the answer, whether it is a yes or a no (a la Gideon).  My guess is that He won’t decide for you that way, but it is always his option.  One thing we know about God is that if He wants to tell you something directly He isn’t very subtle.  There are zero examples of him trying to tell someone something in the Bible and not getting through.

2. Use the wisdom model of decision making.  You don’t have access to God’s sovereign knowledge (Will I lose my job?  Will interest rates go up or down?  Etc.).  You do have unrestricted access to his moral will via the Bible. Example: Is it immoral to pay off your mortgage early?  No, unless that means you won’t have enough money to feed your kids.  After moral considerations, look to the wisdom angle.  Ask God for wisdom, as He promises to deliver.  But as with Solomon, He doesn’t promise to decide everything for you.  Read the Proverbs (and more).  Seek the counsel of others.  Consider the pros and cons.  That’s how to make wise decisions.  Finally, provided the options are moral and wise, consider your personal preferences.  We have tremendous freedom in Christ to do many things with our time and money.  Will paying off your mortgage make you happy?  If so, then do it.

Here’s a picture of what is looks like:

Decision making and the will of God

Really short version: Aside from direct and clear personal revelation from God, you don’t have access to his sovereign will when making decisions.  Therefore you must look at other factors.  If it isn’t moral, don’t do it.  If it is moral but not wise, don’t do it.  If it is moral and wise, then use your personal preferences.

Using this model you can end up with a wise and biblical decision, but you have avoided the traps of the “God told me to ____” routine.  People who run around saying that God told them this and that convey a super-spirituality that can leave less mature believers wondering if they really have a relationship with God (i.e., “God doesn’t tell me every little thing to do, so maybe I don’t really know him.”).

The “God told me ___” routine can also be outright blasphemy, as when “Christians” claim that God is moving in a new direction counter to what He revealed in the Bible.  The United Church of Christ “God is still speaking;” theme is a good example of that.  They didn’t believe what He said the first time around, so why trust them on allegedly new revelations?

Saturating yourself in the word is a key success factor in making good decisions. If we focus on worldly wisdom things go badly:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

But if we repent and do everything we can to see things from God’s point of view we will make better decisions.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This model will help you make good decisions in all areas of life.  You can also use it to help friends, children, etc. make good decisions.  I even use it at work as a “faith flag” at times.  If people ask career advice, for example, I pull out this diagram and share it with them (i.e., “At the risk of getting all religious on you, here’s the method I use to make decisions like that.”)

Click here to download a set of PowerPoint slides to read or to use yourself to teach others.

P.S. A kid came into my wife’s elementary school library yesterday and asked if she had any books on how to make good choices.  She thought of the diagram above and laughed.  Let’s just say I refer to this model now and then.  She thinks I should write a children’s book on decision making.  I think she is kidding.

Hat tip to Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason for much of this, including the diagram.

Disappointing: “God’s Not Dead” appears to have missed an opportunity

Spoiler alert: Skip this post if you don’t want to know too much about the God’s Not Dead movie

Note: I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t, but this review seemed pretty thorough and came from a site that would presumably be predisposed to like a production like this.  Go ahead and see it if you like, but either way I encourage you to use it as a springboard to candidly discuss the points of the movie, the gaps and how we could be more effective in sharing the Good News.  My goal with skeptics isn’t to fully address every item in their Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites, but to give thorough, meaningful answers to a couple key questions to remove some barriers and then encourage them to read the word of God, which will do the real work.  

And remember that apologetic reasoning isn’t just important for addressing legitimate questions of non-believers as we seek to point them to the truths in the Bible, but also to strengthen the faith of believers.  So it is important to always use good arguments and to consider the counter-arguments.

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When I first heard of God’s Not Dead I thought it might be a good opportunity to present some key apologetic arguments in a movie.  Sounds like the effort may end up being counterproductive.  Apparently they used arguments that weren’t fleshed out very well and that atheists could easily refute.  If Christians new to apologetics try to use the arguments presented by the movie, they will probably fail with the atheists and may end up with less confidence themselves.  Yes, we have been given the truth, but if you love people you won’t send them off with a false sense of confidence and pretend that they can be white-hot apologists in one easy lesson.

There are multiple subplots in the movie which are all introduced in its first few minutes, but not developed immediately, and it seems to take a while before the details emerge allowing the viewer a chance to catch up. However, the main story is that Josh, a college freshman, is taking an Introduction to Philosophy class from an infamously atheistic professor, Dr. Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo who is known for his role on the TV show Hercules, among other roles). The very first class, the professor stands up and gives a short discourse about the virtues and intellectual superiority of atheism. He then gives the class their first assignment. He passes out blank papers, and demands that each student write “God is dead” and sign their names in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses, so the professor forces him to take an alternate assignment; Josh will be given time in the next three lectures to prove the existence of God. If the students in his class are convinced, he passes the assignment. If not, he fails the semester, and thus his chances at a prestigious law degree.

This “hostile atheist professor” is a pretty common scenario, though usually not in such a heavy-handed way.  I am a big believer in equipping kids to stay strong in their faith when they leave your house.  But you can’t give them superficial or partial arguments.

And you should never expect some sort of immediate and across the board conversion of a group of people even if you make sound arguments.  The Holy Spirit goes where He will. We can honor God by stating the truth about him regardless of whether He has made them spiritually alive and they accept the truth.

I don’t want to be too hard on the movie, because there is only so much you can cram into two hours.  But it sounds like they could have used better arguments and that they made the characters and scenarios a little too extreme.  I would have stuck with things like the cosmological, design and moral arguments.  These are very sound yet also accessible to the average person.  But I would not have missed the opportunity to work in the minimal facts* arguments.  Consider the benefits of that:

  • You would be talking directly about Jesus, not some generic god.
  • You would point to facts that the history professors on that very campus would agree with (e.g., Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that Paul was a convert and wrote extensively about Jesus close to his death, etc.).
  • You would be bursting the myth that we have a blind faith.
  • You would be talking about the crucifixion and why it occurred, and the resurrection and what that meant.

And I definitely wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to highlight Romans 1, which would demonstrate that in the Christian worldview no amount of arguments will work on people who are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and that God will judge them based on Christ’s standards, not their’s.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

We know why atheists hold their worldview, but all they have to explain our worldview is their beloved Darwinian evolution (however they are defining that this week). And if the manifestation of their theory is the cause of our trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, why are they so angry about the outcome?

Whether you see it or not, be sure to be prepared to address the topic when it comes up.  Point them to resources like Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignDarwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design or Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, or to my favorite apologetics blogger, the Wintery Knight.

You can remind people that Christianity is a faith based on real events in history.  We readily concede that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we are completely wrong about God (1 Corinthians 15).

But we have great reasons that He did rise from the dead, that He is fully God and fully man, that if we repent and believe in him we can be saved from our sins and have his righteousness imputed to us, that He is the only way to salvation, and more!  Point them to the word of God and trust him with the results.  And don’t be surprised if they dislike you even more after you share the truth in love.

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*Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.

75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

None of the alternative theories can be true in light of these facts.  The physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

Schizophrenic feminism

One of the most bizarre things about radical feminism is how quickly they will abandon their supposed core ideals to support unrestricted and even taxpayer-funded abortion.

Exhibit A: Bill Clinton. The guy was everything they should hate about men, with one exception. He supported abortion, so they loved him.

Exhibit B: “Bro-choice” guys.  The real reasons lots of young males support abortion rights is to get sex without apparent consequences.  In other words, to use women.  The early feminists knew this. You should know it, too. And keep this in mind when pro-abortion people insist that men should have no say in abortion. Have you noticed that they don’t try to shut up the men who support abortion?

Exhibit C: While claiming that women are strong and wise enough to know when to kill their children they gladly accept support from pro-abortion guys saying how stupid women are.

Exhibit D: Planned Parenthood systematically hides rape, incest and sex trafficking.  They have been caught on audio and video countless times.  I mock the pro-aborts who think these aren’t real.  Do you seriously think that Planned Parenthood wouldn’t have immediately sued to shut this down if that were the case?  When Lila Rose exposed them on video it made the news for 5 minutes until they let PP pretend that those were just a few “rogue” employees.  But the cross-country evidence is there for anyone who isn’t blinded by the pro-abortion media.

Exhibit E: Planned Parenthood would rather destroy a breast cancer charity than part ways amicably.

Exhibit F: They know that Kermit Gosnell was not unique and that there are many abortionists like him, but they do nothing to try to stop them.  In fact, they aggressively fight regulations that would make abortions safer for the mothers (though, of course, they are still deadly to the children).

Exhibit G: They know that nearly all gender-selection abortions kill females for the sole reason that they are female.  In addition to killing the females, it creates many additional societal problems such as sex trafficking.  Yet pro-aborts do nothing to stop it, because fighting that would point to the humanity of the unborn, and pro-aborts avoid that at all costs.

Exhibit H: While pretending to be for the choices of all women, they viciously attack pro-life women.

Exhibit I: They discount women who regret their abortions and try to keep them from seeking the hope and healing available to them in Jesus.

Abortion is pure misogyny.

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This is what control looks like.

This  is what hate looks like.

This  is what extremism looks like.

This  is what — as even some pro-aborts concede — murder looks like.

Pro-abortion extremists have such seared consciences that they can’t even look at what they are responsible for.

What?! AT&T did something helpful?

Yes, but they haven’t gone soft or anything.  It was just one of the benefits of capitalism.  Yea for competition!

After a couple decades of hopelessly complex and painful billing methods schemes*, AT&T now has a group plan that actually helps you.  Instead of a separate data plan for every smartphone and tablet you own, you can combine them into one.  You actually save a little bit and have the flexibility of pooled data.

We were able to add my daughter and son-in-law and my parents to our plan.  We have a 10GB data plan for seven phones and an iPad.  It helped spread our data costs a little and literally cut their bills in half.

We also get unlimited minutes (and we already had unlimited texts), so we never have to worry about those again.

* Watch your bills closely whenever you make a change.  They have a habit of “accidentally” double-charging you for the first month.  Just call and ask about it and watch how quickly they fix the “mistake.”

Good pro-life news

The abortion industry tries to discredit Abby Johnson for leaving Planned Parenthood after she saw an abortion, but it seems to keep backfiring on them.

Via Planned Parenthood guard told to watch pro-lifers, but instead he asks them to help him leave job:

A Planned Parenthood security guard tasked with spying on Abby Johnson’s pro-life charity And Then There Were None – dedicated to helping abortion workers escape the industry – was so impressed with what he saw that he asked the group to help him leave as well.

Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood facility director herself, says this isn’t the first time Planned Parenthood’s attempts to foil her organization have backfired.

“We’ve told you before about the many times workers have contacted us because Planned Parenthood has attempted to ‘warn’ their employees about And Then There Were None. They didn’t even know about our ministry until they got the email from Planned Parenthood!” Johnson wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “That prompted several workers to contact us … and eventually leave their job in the industry.”

In the case of the Planned Parenthood security guard, “Planned Parenthood gave this employee a task. His job was to keep tabs on me and our organization,” Johnson said. “He was so intrigued by what he saw, and so miserable in his job, he contacted us. We are now working to place him in another position! So, all we can say is, thank you for the referral, Planned Parenthood!”

That is so great that she helps people leave those soul-shattering jobs.

These are your tax dollars at work funding the spying, of course.

Roundup

The Addiction: Novelty; The Cure: Preach the Worddoes your church preach from the Bible or from novelty?

10 Reasons to Love Eggs –  Mmmmmmm . . . eggs – it is unfortunate that eggs had a bad rap for so many years.

We often hear people complain that it is too expensive or challenging to eat healthily. The truth is that there are many real food options that are nutrient rich and won’t break the bank. A perfect example – eggs.  When it comes to convenient, affordable and nutritious foods, eggs deliver the perfect package. Eggs play a significant role in mind and body energy, weight management, muscle strength, brain function, eye health and more!

Here are ten reasons eggs should be a part of your daily diet:

1. Eggs are real food – They come unprocessed, in their original packaging, and let *you* decide how to prepare and eat them. Pair them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods and small amounts of heart healthy oil, as part of an overall healthy diet.

2. Nutrient-dense – Eggs have an awesome protein to calorie ratio. One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids, all for just 70 calories.

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9. Fast and easy – An egg meal or snack is quick and easy. Simply beat an egg in a small bowl or coffee mug, place on high heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and add it to a toasted whole-grain English muffin. Top with low-fat cheese and a slice of tomato for a balanced meal. It takes less than two minutes to prepare!

10. Eggs make cents – Eggs are very affordable compared to other high-quality protein foods. At just $0.15 each, eggs are the least expensive source of high-quality protein per serving.

‘Camp Epic’: Gay California Teacher Molested Boys as Young as 11 –  But this will never happen with the Boy Scouts, right?

Obama Regime Calls for Wooden Skyscrapers to Stop Global Warming – As Dave Barry has noted, wood is great for buildings because it can both rot and burn.  It is hard to believe anyone would even consider this nonsense. 

New study, new confirmation that dumping money into schools doesn’t fix themnot a surprise.

Evolutionary biologists say: Darwin’s tree of life “is wrong” – Hey, we agree!

Muslims Subject Christians to Ritual SacrificeYet another truth you won’t find in the mainstream media.  Doesn’t fit the narrative.

31 Days of Purity: Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youthgood message.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2)

We hear it all the time, practice “protected sex”! But for the Christian man, protected sex means something much more significant and wonderful than birth control. Enjoying your wife sexually (and inviting her to enjoy you!) is a God-installed sentry for guarding your heart in the fight for purity. Think of it as one of your first lines of defense. God says, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality,” I’m giving you protection—it’s called your spouse. Rather than squandering your sexual desire in pornography and lust, fulfill it by having wonderful, God-honoring sex with your wife. Love her sacrificially and enjoy her often!

A must-see about the global warming / climate change scam.

Pope Francis seems to be misunderstood quite a bit.

As if you needed another reason to dislike United Airlines . . .

After booking a trip on United Airlines using frequent flier miles they noted that the costs for the first checked bag for each person was $90 each way (the actual flight will be on their partner, US Air, whose rate is usually $25).  

If they want to devalue frequent flier miles they should just raise the rates.  Tricking you this way is the opposite of good customer service.  

We’ll be carrying our luggage on, of course.

Continental was already slipping a little bit in the customer service area, but after the United merger it has been a free fall.  If you own their stock I’d sell it.