Friday, May 20, 2011

Star Tours - The Adventure Continues!

Star Tours has been under renovation for months and months now! It is slated for a June 3rd opening.

However, Disney recently did a contest on their blog and twitter which allowed guests to enter for a chance to view Star Tours early. Well, I wouldn't be writing this if I lost! I entered the contest with little hopes of winning, days letter I received an email that said to report to the Disneyland Resort between 4am and 7:30am. The ride was to start letting people in at 9am.

We parked in the Toy Story parking area and were shuttled over to see this huge line.

Check-In for the Early Preview of Star Tours.
Here we had to turn in signed releases that allowed Disney and/or the news to take pictures of us and use them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

FAQ: What about the differences in the Gospels?

Let me try to keep the answer to this question to a minimum. Firstly, 3 of the 4 Gospels bear incredible similarity to one another, this has earned them the nicknames of the Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke. Obviously while they are similar there are differences, otherwise they'd just be copies of one another. Certain passages are in all 3 Synoptic Gospels and very few are in all 4.

Take the transfiguration for example: Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36 all record the same event and highlight different parts of it. Luke points out in verse 9:28 that they went to the mountain to pray. Matthew and Mark both omit this fact. After Jesus becomes transfigured Mark notes in 9:2 that Jesus' clothes become dazzling white as no one on earth could bleach them. Matthew and Luke do not mention that detail. And only Matthew notes that in 17:6-7 that when they heard the voice from Heaven that the disciples fell to the ground and were overcome with fear.

So how do we deal with details in the narratives of the gospels that differ?

Neither Mark or Luke record the disciples reaction to hearing the voice. Does that mean its a fabrication? Not necessarily.

Imagine you were standing on the corner of an intersection with some friends. You and your friends all witness a car speed through a red light and t-bone another car crossing on a green light. The police and ambulances arrive and ask you and your friends for details on the incident. One friend mentions that the person who ran the red light was an older woman who was distracted by texting on her phone. Another friend of yours reports that a lady was driving a blue ford mustang and wasn't paying attention. You notice that a mother stopped her child from crossing the crosswalk where the 45 year old woman would have ran them over. Which story is the correct one? Clearly, that is the wrong question to ask. Each person provides a different perspective on the same event, with certain details highlighted greater than others.

The same thing is true of the Gospels. In (almost?) all of the cases of differing details in the Gospels can be attributed to the fact that there was more than one witness. And just because there are differences does not mean there are contradictions. The same is the case with the Angels at the tomb. One gospel highlights that there was one, another that there is more than one. It is true that there is one but it is also true that there is more than one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

FAQ: Homosexuality

Homosexuality is referred to many times in the Bible, some of which you may be aware. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:22 it says, “You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act.” (New English Translation). (The reason the Old Testament is cited in this manner is because this is a moral aspect of the old law. The moral aspects are based upon God who does not change. What God “detested” in the OT he detests in the New Testament.) Likewise, in Romans 1:26-27 Paul notes that homosexuals have abandoned their natural sexual relationship for an unnatural one. (Side note: Darwinistic Evolution struggles with a reasonable explanation as to why homosexuality occurs in nature; as it is counter-productive to natural selection.) Then also in 1 Corinthians Paul makes a point about homosexuality that isn’t quite understood by seculars in the Christian/Homosexual dialog.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NET) says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The point is that Paul makes is Christians don’t view homosexuality as different as any other sin. They are all morally reprehensible in God’s eyes, and for the Christian that means conforming their lives to what God asks of us (not unreasonable). It’s not like homosexuality is a special sin to Christians, we are just as against pride, sex outside of marriage, greed, hatred and jealousy (for example) as we of homosexuality. It’s all sin! God has nothing to do with sin; sin disqualifies you from Heaven and fellowship with God. James wrote in James 2:10, “For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” James is saying by committing that one sin makes you just as guilty as someone who has committed thousands of sin. You are both equally in need of forgiveness from your sin. That forgiveness can only come from turning from that sin (whatever it is) towards Christ.

Homosexuality is difficult to handle today not because the truth is difficult to understand but because of how Christians have historically handled the issue. Over the past decades Christians have, in my opinion, misbehaved in their approach towards Homosexuals. Instead of trying to win them over to Christ with love many engaged in persecution and shunning of homosexuals. That, in turn, was counter-productive and has spawned a lot of hate from the homosexual community towards the Christian community. Even some Christians still don’t understand that it’s not about winning the argument; it’s about winning the soul.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

FAQ: What is the Prosperity Gospel? Is it biblical?

I’m not a big fan of the prosperity gospel. Personally, I have not been influenced greatly either way with the prosperity gospel but there are several considerations we should notice and reflect on. So, I’m going to try not to be harsh, but observant and faithful to the message of the Bible.

The first consideration we should take is, “What is hiding in plain sight?” Think about it for a moment: What is hiding in plain sight about the prosperity gospel? If the prosperity gospel was the Gospel itself, we wouldn’t have to call it the prosperity gospel; we would know we are all talking about the prosperity gospel when we say the word Gospel. But we don’t. We have to indicate that we are talking about a different kind of gospel. A different kind of news. This distinction already sets the tone for the wary Christian. “What’s different about this gospel than the regular Gospel?”

The second consideration follows from the first, “What is the prosperity gospel?” Fortunately, this is not difficult to unpack. The context that this word normally is associated with is drawn from other synonyms that clarify the meaning. You’ve heard of the, “Health, wealth and prosperity gospel.” That is what the prosperity gospel is defined by: receiving health, wealth and prosperity. The idea is that God provides material prosperity for those he favors. Also, according to Wikipedia’s entry on “prosperity theology,” it centers around the idea that "believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the 'sowing of seeds' through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.”

The third consideration we should take as Christians is, “Is this taught in the Bible?” Notice the consideration is NOT, “Are there bible verses that teach this?” or “What verses can I find that will back up my position?” The reason we believe what we believe in the Bible is because of the intention of the author(s) who wrote it. Some verses that the prosperity gospel proponents advocate in support of their view are Malachi 3:10; Deuteronomy 8:18; John 10:10 and 3 John 1:4. Do these verses teach that the believer in Christ is entitled to health, wealth and prosperity? Not as the leaders of the prosperity movement would have you believe. In each of these verse’s respective contexts there are unique situations that are driving the writer to say what he says. (Side note: The Bible also does not teach that God absolutely does NOT provide a degree of “health,” “wealth” or “prosperity.” So, please don’t misunderstand me.) In these contexts God is either providing a certain way for a certain reason or is promising spiritual “prosperity” that is found in Christ.

While it may seem that I am going easy on the prosperity gospel, you need to know that it is absolutely not taught throughout the Bible. As a general rule doctrines or teachings of the Bible should be established by their continued teaching and affirmations or examples found throughout the Bible. We should not create an idea and then feed it using whatever Bible verses we can find. Remember: the contexts determine the meaning of the verses and the verses that are used to support the prosperity gospel are not aligned with their proper contexts. That is why they are able to say what they can say: they have changed what the Bible verses actually meant by the original authors.

Promising health, wealth and/or prosperity to a believer when the Bible does not promise such things is dangerously misleading to the “un-Bibled Christian.” The promises from alleged health, wealth and prosperity verses are GREATLY outweighed by the verses that promise troubles, trials and suffering!

Consider promises such as “in this world you will have trouble (John 16:33); “consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2); “do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering” (1 Pet 4:12). The Bible never denotes money or celebrity status as a sign of God’s blessing (2 Cor. 6:3–10). Trouble or struggle in our lives does not evidence the lack of God’s blessing upon us or our families.

In 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 Paul writes, “We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet – see! – we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

Paul understood that the true Gospel is not the possession of wealth, material or prosperity; whatever that means. But the true Gospel is the possession of Christ and repentance within the believer! The prosperity gospel takes the focus away from Christ, away from the Cross and puts it on possessions and our status within our lives: the very thing Paul warned the Corinthian church to stay away from. Read Paul’s letters to Corinth and you’ll see evidenced that Paul is fighting a lot of what the prosperity gospel people are promoting.

In short, the prosperity gospel is bankrupt of truth and power. The prosperity gospel short changes the believer into thinking that he/she should be in possession of prosperity when rightfully they will be in possession of persecution because they have purposed to please Christ in all aspects of their lives regardless of possessions or position or power.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

FAQ: Epicurus

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Then why call him God?" -Epicurus

My opinion is that Epicurus' quote has a couple of logical fallacies hidden within it. Not only that but he doesn't seem to understand who God is.

"Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent." This is a Non-Sequitur. You might be familiar with the funny comic strip but a Non-Sequitur is Latin for "it does not follow."

Here are a few examples of a Non-Sequitur: "If you buy this car, your family will be safer." or "If I buy this cell phone, all people will love me." How about, "All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates likes girls."

Basically, the two points that Epicurus made aren't connected. God's willingness to prevent evil does not necessitate that He is malevolent (evil). As expressed in the Bible (Isaiah 55:8-9) that God's ways are above our ways.

There is evil in the world today, sure but that evil is a result of sin or even sin itself. Sin is disobedience to God. God allows that disobedience within a person's life so that they would have a chance to repent instead of being instantly judged for sinning. (Infinitely preferable).

Sin is rebellion against God and although it is being tolerated a day will come where it is not. Jesus will return and judge and destroy all sin.

This is the promise for the believer: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away," - Revelation 21:4

The unrepentant nonbeliever does not have this hope.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

FAQ: I frequently fail from time to time from impure thoughts. Help!

Paul understood the inner struggle that you are battling with. He wrote in Romans 7:18-20, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.” You are experiencing the inner struggle that we all face as Christians. Your flesh is at war against the Spirit and it is a difficult battle no matter what you are at war over. For you this is manifesting itself in at least this particular area of your life. Certain Christians will struggle with certain issues throughout their Christian lives (like gambling, extramarital flirting, over indulgence of alcohol, homosexual urges, etc) and this may be that particular issue for you.

If you sense that this is a key area of struggle in your life then you should keep in mind what Paul exhorted Timothy to keep in mind. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:1-4, “So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well. Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one in military service gets entangled in matters of everyday life; otherwise he will not please the one who recruited him.” You have been enlisted into the army of the Lord. Do your best to be found faithful and completing your duty. Don’t fraternize with the enemy (your flesh in this case) and don’t be found loitering around in the enemy camp. But instead kill the enemy.

Paul explained the battle against the flesh in this manner to the church in Rome. Romans 8:10-17, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.”

I would also add that you should heed what Paul wrote in Romans 13:14 – “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.” One way you can kill the flesh is to starve it. When you eat food your are providing nourishment to your body to grow stronger and mature. Likewise, if you feed your flesh with sensual lust and physical stimuli your flesh will overtake the Spirit and the war will be in favor of the flesh. On the other hand, if you feed the Spirit with righteousness, holiness and Jesus the balance of war will be in favor of the Spirit. The question now becomes, who do you want to win this war? Do you want the Flesh to overtake the Spirit or do you want the Spirit to overtake the Flesh?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

FAQ: How could a loving and all powerful God send unbelievers to hell?

This question was posed on Reddit under the Christianity subreddit. (Reddit is a site that allows for discussion of these issues and more). The title of this post was "The question that made me fall away from Christianity. Can you help me with it?" 

So:  How could a loving and all powerful God send unbelievers to hell?

Question for you: How can you know the character of God other than what He has revealed to you?

I don't want to make little of this question, this is a very difficult question for Christians of all perspectives to make sense of but an important consideration to make is that what God says is true is true. And he tells us in his scripture.

For example, by studying what scripture says exegetically we can come to the conclusion that both the OT and NT preach about an afterlife specific to those who are wicked and those who are righteous.
It is often said that the Old Testament isn't as specific regarding Hell, in fact it may be completely absent from its vernacular. However, that is only true when you hold the Hebrew language to the standard of the koine Greek.

The Old Testament uses Hebrew/English words and phrases such as the grave (Gen 23:4; Judg 2:10;2 King 23:6), the pit (Psalm 30:3;Prov 1:12; Isa 14:15), the trap (Ezek 19:4,8;Job 33:22;Psa 16:10), the earth/netherworld (Gen 1:1;Ezek 8:3; Ezek 32:18; Deut 32:33), sheol (Isa 38:10; Job 38:17), death/place of death or abaddon (Job 26:6; Psa 88:12; Prov 15:11; Prov 27:20) to refer to the place which the deceased go where they die. Often this language is depicted in phenomenological language derived from ancient burial practices. Ask me for citations if you like. One thing the language of the Old Testament is clear of is that death is a conscious thing in the Old Testament.

Moving on into the New Testament Jesus speaks of Hell often (Matt 5:22; 5:29-30; 18:9; 18:8; 10:24-25; 23:13; 23:15; Luke 12:5; Mark 9:45; Mark 9:47-48; cf. Isa 66:24; John 3:36)
Furthermore, Paul speaks of Hell by alluding to the fate of the wicked (Rom 1:32; 1 Cor 15:21; Eph 2:1; Rom 2:12; 1 Thess 5:3; Gal 6:8; Rom 2:5; Col 3:6; Rom 2:1-3, 5, 12; 1 Tim 5:24; 1 Thess 4:6; Rom 2:9). It's also in the Book of Revelation quite a bit too.

In any event, many prophets of the OT believed in conscious punishment after death, Jesus did, Paul did, the writer of Revelation did and I do. Hopefully you will believe that there is a Hell there as well.


God punishes wickedness and rebellion. Throughout the OT and the NT the wicked are punished for eternity separated from God and the righteous are with God experiencing all of those benefits. Saying God is or isn't all loving because of x y or z is at best inconclusive because we are not privy to all the information there is to know. It pretty much comes down to do you trust God's word?

I wish everyone went to Heaven, but that's not how it works. We have been commissioned to take the Gospel to the whole world, every nation, tribe and tongue (Matthew 28).

Monday, February 28, 2011

Do you know God's Will?

Maybe you've heard some of these teachings in your local church or from a friend lately. Do you know what God's Will is?

Take this TRUE or FALSE test to find out:

1. God has a specific plan for your life which you are to discover and follow.
2. God's will can be divided into two categories: God's perfect will and God's permissive will.
3. Little hunches or prompting that I feel are God's way of guiding me into His will.
4. A key factor in making godly decisions that honor the Lord is, "Do I have peace about it?"
5. It is wrong to use a fleece (little test) in determining God's will.
6. When faced with two good alternatives, I must be careful not to make the wrong decision.
7. Some people are called to full time ministry, others are not. Some people are called to vocational ministry, others are not.

Don't peek at the answers until you are done!

I have a few followers!

I think the last time I checked my followers on my blog I had about 8 people following me. Now there are 67 of you!! Wow! I don't know where you all herald from or why you'd choose my blog out of the thousands (not like you can't view others' as well :P) but I'm glad to have you!

This certainly will be more motivation to publish better blogs that will keep your subscriptions worth it! I do hope to publish a blog this week so stay tuned!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Future Prospects

I'm weird. I spend a lot of my free time talking and debating with other people about issues regarding philosophy and Christianity. It's different than witnessing to someone on the street; some of these people ask really hard questions. Then again, some people ask really stupid questions. Then again, some people ask really hard questions.

Here are some examples of questions that people are asking:
  • Why does God require people to have faith in his existence?
  • Why is it that Christians can willfully ignore Christ's commandment concerning adultery?
  •  Do you believe the story of Noah to be literal? Why?
  •  Why did you choose Christianity? Did you consider Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Shinto, any others, or none?
  • How is it decided which rules in the Bible can be broken without it being a sin [like homosexuality], and which rules must be followed in order to get into Heaven?
  • If the Bible is the word of God and the Bible tells women they need to be quiet in church, what justification is there for women like Joyce Meyer to not only speak in church, but to teach with authority?
  • Plus various questions about fee will, salvation, existence of heaven/hell and other questions.

Theres a lot of them and they ask the same hard questions over and over, in detail. So while I like answering people's objections to Christianity, I don't like repeating myself over and over and over and over and over. Maybe I'm just too lazy. In any event, I want to have a place where I can answer some of these hard questions and be able to copy/paste my answers.

Instead of hiding these questions/answers I figured it would be beneifical if I posted them in a public place. Hence this post. I think I am going to devote some of this spare time to building my own FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions so I can write responses, revise responses and build better arguments.

Stay tuned! I hope to develop it here on this blog.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mobile Blogger

Dag yo! Maybe I'll get some blogs out with this blogger app for Android! ...maybe.