Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's good news!

Imagine with me, if you will, that you're a rookie news reporter and tonight is your first (and probably only) shot at anchoring the evening news. Normally you'd be thrilled at the opportunity but there's just one problem: all the news is bad.

I mean, really bad.

War looms on multiple fronts as both your neighboring countries aim all their military firepower at your tiny nation. Many (including some of your own family) sit behind enemy lines as prisoners of war. The lives that aren't risked in battle are equally in jeopardy as a mysterious virus sweeps the country taking more lives every day. National debt is soaring along with the personal debt of everyone you know (yourself included). Loans are defaulting and banks are now resorting to old-school tactics and sending thugs to "collect". And the only hope—the one man looked to by the nation to lead them out of this crisis—has suddenly and unexpectedly died. 

As you make a last minute review of your notes, however, the studio doors burst open.

"It's over!" the intruder shouts. "The war is over!" He excitedly explains how one of your neighboring countries called for peace, then turned their guns on your nation's other adversary, sending them into a full retreat and freeing the POWs in the process. But before he could even finish, the door flies wide again.

"They found a cure! A cure to that epidemic that's been killing everybody!"

"And ALL the debts are getting paid off!" shouted two more people in close succession. "The national debt has been paid and in response the banks are making a one-time pardon on all credit card debt!"

Once more the studio doors slam against the wall as they're thrown open.

"You'll never believe this, but he's alive!" the last intruder shouts. "The details are fuzzy, but..."

"We go live in TEN SECONDS, everyone!" your producer shouts.

As you clear your throat and prepare for the signal of the camera man—barely keeping a ridiculous grin from spreading across your face—your co-host leans over and whispers:

"Share the good news. Use words if necessary."

Ridiculous, right? Peace with one enemy. Victory over the other. Prisoners set free. The sick are healed. Debts are paid. Your savior is alive. And you're asked to restrain your tongue? Nobody would say something like that.

And yet...

We hear it all the time. "Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary." I suppose I understand the sentiment behind it. The news should be so transforming, so life-changing, that our very lives and conduct reflect the effects of the good news without a word being spoken. But the thing that is transforming and life-changing is the good news, not our good lives. Good news must be shared, proclaimed.

As Paul said in Romans:
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (10:14)
 With Easter less than a week away, who are you sharing the good news with?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? (Bonus: Free eBook!)

There are many challenges that get leveled at Christianity, but none of them hits at the heart of the faith like this one: "Did Jesus really rise from the dead?". Even Paul admitted as much in 1 Corinthians 15 saying, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain".

So if you or someone you know is wrestling with this very question, let me point you to a couple things that came across my Google Reader this week (I know, it's going away, I'm sad too):

Aaron Armstrong addresses three of the most popular challenges in blog form:
Some things are harder to believe than others. Believing that Jesus was a bona fide historical figure… few, if any, seriously doubt there really was a Jesus of Nazareth who preached a message of repentance and reconciliation with God and was later crucified (even if many attempt to redefine the purpose of these events).

Then, there’s the resurrection…

For a lot of people, this is far more difficult an idea to swallow, particularly those of us who were raised on a steady diet of empirical naturalism.
The idea that Jesus was crucified—we can accept that. But that He rose again? That’s a bit much, isn’t it? Surely it had to have been made up.

Three alternatives to the resurrection

Because we don’t have a category for the supernatural, we look for alternative explanations—and there are a LOT of alternatives floating around regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Yet, there’s a lot of consistency between them, with the majority being variations on one of three options:

Jonathan K. Dodson and Brad Watson address the larger question in book form:
If you doubt the resurrection, I’m glad. Anything worth believing has to be worth questioning, but don’t let your questions slip away unanswered. Don’t reduce your doubts to a state of unsettled cynicism. Wrestle with your doubts. Find answers.
If you call yourself a believer and a skeptic, don’t settle for pat proofs, emotional experiences, or duty-driven religion. Keep asking questions. Those who haven’t questioned their faith can easily become doctrinaire, even detached from the everyday struggle of faith. Whether you are a skeptic, believer, or somewhere in between, press into your faith or push into your doubt. Question your faith and question your doubts. Determine good reasons for believing or not believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If he really did defeat death, it changes everything. Doubt well and you can walk away from skepticism, cynicism, or blind faith into perceptive belief, intellectual security, and deeper commitment. You can know that you have honestly questioned the resurrection.
Download Raised? Doubting the Resurrection by Jonathan K. Dodson & Brad Watson for free!
Kindle (.mobi)  |  iBooks (.epub)   |   PDF

Friday, March 22, 2013

Are you following us on Twitter?

If not, here's some of what you're missing: