Monday, April 28, 2014

Don't Trust, Written by Man

A friend tells you, "you shouldn't take the Bible too seriously since it was only written by men, and men make mistakes.” What do you say? Many things could be said, the more you know, the more prepared you will be for this type of encounter. Believe me this is a real argument that people use against the Bible. However, even if you are uncomfortable with why one should trust the Bible, even though there are good reasons, you can be still quite effective.

The power of questions

You already learned about questions (here and here) so let's use questions in this real life example. All you have to do is think about the statement. Are their pit falls in his or her thinking? Why yes. Lets try to point them out in a kind way - with questions.
  1. Do you have any books at home? 
  2. Did humans write them? 
  3. Is truth found in any of them? 
  4. Do you have any reason you think the Bible is less truthful or reliable than other books you own? 
  5. Are there always mistakes in what people write? 
  6. Don't you think God would be able to use humans to write down exactly what he wants? 
  7. If not, why not?
These seven questions, or questions like them, will help you as you interact with others. If nothing else these will help you get the other thinking by "putting a stone in their shoe."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Emulating The Carpenter

We are called to follow Christ (1 Peter 2:21), so what was Christ like so we can follow him? One recently challenged me to find out. Here is a start, I have thirteen attributes that came to mind of what Christ did and and taught.

  1. Loving. Mark 12:28-34. We are to love God and others. First Corinthians 13 says love is patient, kind, content, humble, unselfish, temperate and not an evil thinker. Love delights in truth and not sin. It hopes, protects, trusts and never fails.
  2. Sacrificial. John 15:13. We are to give out lives for others. Jesus was tortured and murdered for us.
  3. Evangelism. Matthew 28:16-20. We are to share the gospel with others. This is a perpetual teaching for all generations of Christ's followers.
  4. Heal the sick. Matthew 8:1-4. Are we willing to pray for others and then help them when they are sick? Do we help those who struggle with anxiety and depression?
  5. Division. Luke 12:51. Jesus came to dived people, those who believe on him and those who don't. 
  6. Truthful. John 8:31-47. Christ brings truth, even to point out those who are of the Devil.
  7. Merciful. Matthew 9:35-38. Jesus was full of mercy and compassion. Are we quick to judge or are we first willing to learn and listen?
  8. Identifying hypocrisy. Matthew 23. Jesus called out the religious leaders for hypocrisy and he called them for what they were, hypocrites. Feigning something and being two faced, saying one thing when and then doing another, is hypocrisy.
  9. Dialoged with others. Luke 2:46-47. Jesus was very active in dialectics, asking questions and giving answers that persuaded people to truth. Many times he understood before trying to be understood. Many say we as Christians need to be silent, however Jesus spoke much.
  10. Servant. Mark 10:45. Jesus came to serve. He calls us to do the same in Matthew 25:31-46.
  11. Teaching. Matt. 28:19–20. Christ was didactically inclined and a great teacher, he communicated well. Do we teach others or are we focused on self? Hebrews 5:12 says a mature follower of Christ needs to teach. Are we actively learning to be a better teacher and learning more about Christ? Are we intentionally teaching others the way of Christ?
  12. Forgiving. Luke 23:34. Christ was very forgiving. Do we forgive others? I must say it is much easier said than done, but we are to forgive. Matthew 6:15 says that we need to forgive others, otherwise God will not forgive our sins.
  13. Unity. John 17:11.Unity is when one becomes a follower of Christ, and learns and follows his teachings. We become united both with Christ and other believers when we fulfill these two core precepts.

Monday, April 21, 2014

And the Band Played On

Recently I was given the task to sit through a docudrama called "And the Band Played On." There were some positive aspects, it was entertaining, good acting, educational and helps one understand that we all are people and we all have needs. Also, we can't just ignore others because of his or her beliefs. However, overall I was disappointed.


Being made in 1993, it documented the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic. While the topic was interesting, I left feeling quite sad. Why? because the use of entertainment to promote a devious worldview. Here are my main concerns:


The movie presented itself as a "docudrama," however, it seemed that they wanted to minimally desensitize people to same-sex relationships if not totally make it out as if one is immoral if one says it is sin.

Emotions in the place of arguments 

Since it was a docudrama, they made arguments in a  "pathos", or emotionally appealing way, to convince the listener. They sidestepped rational and moral arguments by tickling one's emotions. In other words, they circumvent the intellect via the emotions. If one is not prepared for this or has been desensitized already, one will fall pray to this rhetoric.

One sided, ungodly agenda

Third, they seemed to have an one sided agenda in both politics and religion. While some of these steps were incognito, others were quite open shots against Christianity and the "political right." This also included a number of scenes where where there was the lack of modest attire and immoral conversation. Sadly they could do this all in the name of entertainment with a dash of "documentary."

The common Joe

Regretfully, most watching this type of movie wouldn't know the difference between right and wrong, or they have been so desensitized to immorality that they have lost their moral compass. When one has a biblical truth foundation and is one who is able to see and cut through this type of  rhetoric, one is prepared for untruth and those that oppose this truth.

After watching this docudrama, one can understand the reason why those around, even those who claim to be Christian, don't follow the motto "...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8). How can we change the world, and be a light and salt if we allow filthy and worldly rhetoric to be part of our lives?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yes, No, I'm Mixed Up

It's interesting when people who are not indigenous English speakers say "me speak no English." Why? Because it is self-refuting. They are speaking English to tell you they can't speak English. It is a contradiction. It is like saying "I am not going to respond to that comment" or "I don't have time to talk to you now."

We automatically forgive people in cases like these, even though they should be a little more precise. However, on important issues, I have concerns when people, who should know better, make claims that are self-refuting. Even though some seem funny, people really make these statements.

We already talked about the old "tolerance" trick, the "knowledge makes one proud" topic and "man's reasoning" statement. All are self-refuting. Here are others to watch out for in conversation.


"There is no truth." What? is that claim true? if it is then that statement is false. It self contradicts because that statement is a truth claim.

“Nobody can know anything to be true.” Is that statement true? If yes, then your stating a knowledge claim about truth. If no, then there is a possibility of knowing things to be true.


"One can only know something by using the methods of observable science." A person on facebook once told me something like this. I had to tell him that the process of science itself is not observable, it is a concept. Nor do we learn about the concept of science using the scientific method. In other-words the scientific method itself is not testable by observational science.


What if one says “I don’t believe in anything”? My question would be, do you believe that? do you believe what you are saying?


“You can’t know anything for certain.” The person who says this seems to be quite certain of what he is saying. You need to ask, "do you know that for certain?"

Post modernity 

Unfortunately we see post modernity effecting our culture. It has made things relative and has made us sound silly. Proverbs states that the beginning of knowledge and wisdom is the fear of the Lord. These silly self-refuting statements seem to stem from a lack of biblical foundation.

You will not want to miss the next posts. If you found this one helpful, you will want to keep an eye open for others. The best way is to click here, because you can get them straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out! (Click here.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Life for God's Plan

Why does it seem that Christians are more concerned about finding God's plan for their lives instead of trying to find out how their lives fit in God's plan?
  • Christ, his teachings, and his apostle's teachings ought to be central.
  • When my focus is "God's will for my life," it is putting me before God. We request God to follow our will by demanding an answer from him, rather than us doing his commands and answering to his ways.
  • By Scripture study, one learns God's ways. Biblical teaching and wisdom are God's gifts for decision making. 
Sheer study and knowledge of God's Word gives us his plan. Wisdom and his moral directives are central concepts to his plan to help guide our lives.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Mystery of the Secret Code

Let me tell you a little secret, your body is made up of  about 100,000 billion cells. All these come from one cell. Amazing. But wait there is more, inside each of your cells you have longs strands called DNA. These strands carry information, much like the text you are reading now.

This is amazing right? But there is more, there are specific sections of your DNA that supply the instructions for the manufacturing of the building blocks of life, protein. These segments were recently shown to contain two layers of information! However, we already talked about this in a previous post. So you're like, I know already.

Another study has came out with more to add. Protein coding regions are not the only locations that contain this duplex layer of information. Non-coding regulatory regions are duplex as well!

Think of it this way, you're a cook holding a cook book. Great, but you need some information such as measurement conversions, they type of recipe you want to pick from, etc. So you either go to the index or the outline in the front. Maybe you go to the conversion table in the back of the book. Think of the regulatory regions as the areas that contain this type of information.

While the "recipe" contains two layers of instructions, the "index" and "conversion tables" also contains double meanings. In this study, using zebrafish DNA, the two layers of this regulatory region get used at different times in its life! This highly condensed design is amazing!

Haberle, V. et al. 2014. Two independent transcription initiation codes overlap on vertebrate core promoters. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature12974.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I have been thinking about Apollos. Yes, In the book of Acts he was just a blip within a greater narrative. However, what was written in that book is a highly condensed and we can grow much from his story.
 "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:24-28).
I find a number interesting attributes about him and others around him that may help us in our interactions with both believers and unbelievers alike.

His behavior and character

  • He was eloquent
  • He was a bold speaker
  • He was humble to learn more
Are we "eloquent" as he was, persuading clearly and effectively the truth to those around us? He used clear language to convince and give evidence that Jesus was Christ. He was bold. Are we boldly persuading the unbelievers to the ways of Christ's gospel?


  • He was mighty in the scriptures
  • He was instructed in the way of the Lord
  • He was willing to learn the ways of God more perfectly
He was a well learned individual. Being instructed in the Scriptures made him a powerful tool for Christ. We are also called to be knowledgeable and know the scriptures. We need to be willing to grow in our understanding of the Word of God. Always ask questions to become more clear on the ways of Christ.

Taught truth and had spiritual fervor

  • He spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord
  • He give evidence for Christ from the scriptures which convinced the unbelievers
He seemed to be a powerful speaker, he was not passive. While teaching the truth of Christ's gospel, he actively engaged others even in hostile environments where persecution would be ramped. Do we have this fervor for speaking the truth of the gospel?


  • He convinced the unbelievers by giving evidence for Christ from the scriptures
  • He was eloquent - having the ability to use language clearly, effectively and  persuasively
  • He knew what he believed and why, being well learned in the ways of God
Are we prepared to give an answer to those around us? If it is true, which it is, then all attacks against Christ's teaching will be fallacious. 1 Peter 3:15-16 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."


  • Being both knowledgeable and charismatic he was still humble to learn more and be corrected
  • Being a "new comer" to the local body of Christ, they humbly received him with no apologies
  • This local body was not embarrassed to learn from him and he helped them greatly
Are we humble not just in word but rather in action? Let's take note and see that we can do the most for Christ when we are bold and confident while being humble.


  • Aquila and Priscilla did not cry against his understanding and call him a deceiver, rather they mercifully "...took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."
  • He was open to receive Aquila and Priscilla along with the rest of the Church. He did not act as a "lone ranger."
  • The other Christians also received him to their group
Being willing to receive Apollos, the local body of Christ did not erect artificial walls of division when scripture never demands division. Both he and the other Christians did not seem to divide over issues that have no foundation in the big picture of following Christ and preaching his word. He worked with them for the larger goal of the Kingdom of God!


Let's be full of good behavior, knowledge, truth and fervor, having a ready answer, humble, and receiving each other in Christ so the world may know that we are followers of him (John 17:20).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Genetically Modified Tomatoes

Are genetically modified (GM) foods bad for you? This is a controversial topic and at this time I am not going to talk about that question entirely. Nor am I here right now to discuss the ethics of manipulating genes. However, recently there was a study that pointed out that there were no large unintended genetic consequences in the GM tomato's which were designed to resist ripening.
When the scientists compared the biochemicals of the GM tomato and a wide assortment other non-GM tomatoes, including modern and heirloom varieties, they found no significant differences overall. Thus, although the GM tomato was distinct from its parent, its metabolic profile still fell within the "normal" range of biochemical diversity exhibited by the larger group of varieties. However, the biochemicals related to fruit ripening did show a significant difference -- no surprise because that was the intent of the genetic modification (1).
All in all, it seems that the scientists were able to edit the genome as they intended with no other large unintended genetic changes, which is good. But I do have two questions. First do these "extended ripening genes" have any adverse human consequences? Second, for this tomato it sounds like these ripening genes still fall within the normal tomato range of genes. But what is this "normal" range and what measurement did they use?

(1) Crop Science Society of America. "New approach to detecting changes in GM foods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2014. <>.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Three Silly Christian Practices

A depressed man once randomly opened the Bible for God's will for his life. A verse caught his eye “And Judas hung himself…” Horrified,  he again opened randomly, “Go and do likewise”. Dejected, he once more flopped it open, “What you must do, do quickly”.

Fictitious story, sure. However, people do these types of foolish activities every day - in fact it seems most of Christendom is infected. I find three silly "Christian" practices illuminated by this tale. Probably most of us have done all three before, including myself.

Doctrines in search for proof texts

1) Building doctrine or rules from passages taken out of context (proof texting). We are called to correctly divide the word of truth, not take things out of context (1).  

Descriptions vs. prescriptions 

2) Some are agnostic when it comes to understanding the difference between descriptions and prescriptions. Many times the writer is just telling what he saw or heard. Many things were written for a specific time or people in history. Consequences of those involved it the biblical historical described accounts were written for our instruction (2).

Reading between the lines for private interpretation 

3) Arbitrarily opening the Scriptures "to find God's personal direction" by reading phrases and words out of context is not a biblical teaching, we should not abuse the text - it's God's holy word (3)! When one "feels that God is speaking" to him or her after randomly opening Scriptures, one is doing something that neither the Scriptures teach, the biblical writers intended nor Christians taught for over nineteen hundred years (4). 

How shall we then live?

We are called to use wisdom, James 1 says that if we need more wisdom, we are to ask and it will be given us. Each one of these points are not only unwise, but also goes against biblical teaching. By gaining knowledge from the Scriptures we can use it as our bases of reasoning and moral guidance. Thus when we use our volition to make decisions, we can be confident if they are biblically based - because we know what Christ expects out of us. Judgment and discernment are important attributes of a Christian, not arbitrariness and unreasonableness.

(1) 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." And 2 Peter 3:16.

(2) Romans 15:4 "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." and 
1 Corinthians 10:11 "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

(3) At the end of second Peter, Peter seems to give us two ideas. First, prophesies from the scriptures came from Spirit inspired writers. Second, it seems to say that we need to carefully read and exegesis the text.
 2 Peter 1:19-21 "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
(4) This relativity new practice that stems back no later than one to two hundred years (mid 1800's). Some assume it is from some form of Pietism, Evangelicalism, a holiness movement, a Methodist sect or Pentecostal movement. Now it is quite common in all Christendom. See  J.I. Packer's book "Hot Tub Religion". Also this post was interesting: see David Bercot's audio CD on "Predestination and Free Will" where he recommends a book that completely covers this late belief called "Decision Making and the Will of God" by Gary Friesen.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Respect?

I already talked about one very important question "what do you mean by that?" This question is powerful because it can clear up misunderstandings fast, decreasing conflict.


Many don't know what they mean when they make claims, they just repeat the talking points. This means that this question, along with others, are powerful but also can be dangerous. One looks like a fool when one doesn't even know what one means, this can cause great hurt. Consider a knife, it can do great good, such as a surgeon's scalpel. Much damage also can be accomplished with this tool, such as murder. With a good question comes responsibility.

That responsibility is respect. We need to ask questions, but they need to be respectfully. If not asked respectfully, another can be made to look stupid, which is not what we want to accomplish. We need mercy. Respect is hard to give some times when outlandish reasonless assertions are made. Even so, respect is needed.

The next two questions can be even more effective, but also just as dangerous. In other words, mercy is needed along with these questions.

The second main question 

This next question should be used when another makes a claim. It's not my job to prove a radical assertion wrong, the one who makes the claim rightfully needs to supply the evidence for the truth of the claim. When this happens, I ask something like this "How did you come to that conclusion?" A gentler way to say this is "Why do you feel that way?" Again it clarifies the reasons for a person's ideas. Please watch out, again most can't provide evidence, they just make empty claims. You can make one look like a fool unintentionally.

The last big question

The last question is used to exploit a flaw when you are in communication. This question is great when reasons don't support the claims or the claim is weak. The question is "Can you clear this up for me?" Now of all the questions, this is the most assertive and direct, so it needs to be used with mercy and grace. When one's reasoning is fallacious, it can be quite embarrassing.


As a recap: use mercy and respect with the following types of questions 1)"What do you mean by that?" 2) "How did you come to that conclusion?" 3) "Can you clear this up for me?" Put these type of questions into your communication tool box. These will help you learn, stay in control and gently help the others think about what they are saying.

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