Conversation w/ an Agnostic: Part 6 It's Personal (A Relationship, not a Religion)

Let me stop trying to sound like a scholar and speak to you from my heart. I have had multiple conversations with people that are searching like you and hold similar values and beliefs that you hold. Most recently is my brother-in-law, who like you is brilliant and searching. What struck me as odd is that he was using a logic that you rarely us in your everyday life. In your search for God, you are essentially saying, "Until I can fully grasp and understand this idea of God/Jesus, I will not acknowledge it as true" You and I dont used this logic during our everyday life. When I get in may car, I dont say, I will not drive it until I can understand ever aspect of it. Or you dont wait to get on a plane until you can fully grasp or understand the aerodynamics and deep engineering of the plane, you still get on that plane. Why do you get on that plane? Because it is undeniable that it will fly because you have seen it all your life. But when it comes to God, you feel the need to fully understand him before summiting. However, in your life, you have seen countless people changed, and seen them hold firm to what they believe. Although it is unexplainable when they say it was Jesus who changed them, it is also undeniable that their claim is that a personal relationship with Jesus is what caused the change, on top of the fact that they truly are changed and hold strong to their belief. To be honest with you, I will never claim that I do not have doubts about God or that I fully understand God. I have doubts just like you, but to me that is OK. I believe that you can be a Christian without all of the answers, I assume you feel differently.

Here is what I am trying to say. Having all of the answers is not what makes someone a Christian. What makes someone a Christian is when an adult becomes personal w/ Jesus. Truth be told, there is an answer for every question that you have. Actually if you were to ask me a question, I can almost guaranty that there are endless books out there that were written to answer your question. It is almost comical when people think they they are the first to have questions or doubts. The same questions have been being asked for hundreds of years. However the books that are out there and their answers usually will just arise more questions for us to ponder on. And at the end of they day you will be no closer to God, you will just me more informed. My point is this, I did not become a Christian or find meaning to my life through information, I found it through a personal relationship.

Think of it like this. I can give you all of the reasons why not to get married to a person. Your with 1 person forever, forever is a long time, we dont have enough money, can you really trust each other, what if you get bored with each other, you'll lose your independence, 1 sexual partner forever, the list can go on and on. All of those are good questions as well as true information. However, when I substitute the "hypothetical person" that I would be marrying, and instead put in the mix Beth, it is different. No longer am I just marring a hypothetical person, no, I am marrying Beth. Beth is someone who I love, who I have a relationship with. Although there are still doubts, those doubts are overridden by the relationship. The same is true with Jesus. The reason that me, and billions of others in the world have been able to become Christians as intelligent adults, is not because their questions were answered, but instead God became personal and our doubts became smaller.

The reason that you will never be able to change my mind on Jesus is because I know Jesus. I know him being a reality as much as I know I am married to Beth. It's personal to me. Because Jesus is personal to me, my doubts and questions become smaller because God has become bigger. On the flip side, I also know that I will never be able to convince you that Jesus is who he really says he is because to you it is not personal, instead it is informational. And Theologically, (not philosophically or scientifically) I believe that scripture is clear that until Jesus reveals himself to you and calls you, you will not come to him. (That is another argument for another day) With that being said, maybe through these conversations and your current circumstances, God wants to use this to draw you to him. That is my prayer for you.

Conversation w/ an Agnostic: Part 5 Jesus

From a historical perspective, there is just as much historical evidence of the existence of Jesus as there is of Plato, Aristotle, and some people have said George Washington. You can research that for yourself. With that being said, just as much as the bible forces you to have a view on it, so does Jesus. So again, I will ask what is your view on the person of Jesus, not necessarily the deity of Jesus?

C.S Lewis expressed his idea in more than one place, but the most definitive appears in Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: Im ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

The other thing is Jesus’s Radical Self-Concept as the Divine Son of God. Radical critics deny that the historical Jesus thought of himself as the divine Son of God. They say that after Jesus’s death, the early church claimed that he had said these things, even though he hadn’t.
The big problem with this hypothesis is that it is inexplicable how monotheistic Jews could have attributed divinity to a man they had known, if he never claimed any such things himself. Monotheism is the heart of the Jewish religion, and it would have been blasphemous to say that a human being was God. Yet this is precisely what the earliest Christians did proclaim and believe about Jesus. Such a claim must have been rooted in Jesus’s own teaching.
And in fact, the majority of scholars do believe that among the historically authentic words of Jesus--these are the words in the gospels which the Jesus Seminar would print in red--among the historically authentic words of Jesus are claims that reveal his divine self-understanding.

Lets talk about Jesus’s Miracles. Even the most sceptical critics cannot deny that the historical Jesus carried out a ministry of miracle-working and exorcism. Rudolf Bultmann, one of the most sceptical scholars this century has seen, wrote back in 1926:

Most of the miracle stories contained in the gospels are legendary or at least are dressed up with legends. But there can be no doubt that Jesus did such deeds, which were, in his and his contemporaries’ understanding, miracles, that is, deeds that were the result of supernatural, divine causality. Doubtless he healed the sick and cast out demons.

Conversation w/ an Agnostic: Part 4 Prophecy

The bible is approximately 40% prophecy. There are nearly 8,000 verses of prophecy in the bible. Of those nearly 8,000 verses, 90% of them have come to pass with excruciating accuracy. The remaining 10% are either in the works now, or will be coming to pass soon. Only God can tell our entire trajectory of history from the beginning to the end. And God has not been wrong yet. God's prophetic program has proven to be precise and exact. The most interesting about Prophecies are what was fulfilled in Jesus. To read some about that I'll refer you to the book "The Case for Christ" also a website that I found informational.
Prophecy can be found in the Bible from the beginning to the end. From Genesis to the last book -Revelation. The Bible devotes a large portion of its pages to the future, it is literally filled with prophecy. The book of Revelation is written by John as a prophet, the last book closes the Bibles history of prophecy. This is why we are told not to add to the words of this book as if there is more Scripture.
The most famous of all prophecies that were fulfilled was in Isaiah 53. It was a prophecy of Jesus, his death, the atonement, and his resurrection. This was written hundreds of years before Jesus was even born.
Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Conversation w/ an Agnostic: Part 3 Historical Evidence of the Bible

Historical Evidence:
The bible was written by 40 men, chosen by God to write it. It was written over a period of 1,500 years. Those 40 men who wrote were on 3 separate continents, in 3 languages, and were all writing the same thing, in some cases at the same time. In that day, they had no mail delivery trucks, no drop ship planes, no Federal Express, no UPS and no e-mail. So how could it be then that they all wrote the same things while on 3 separate continents over that time period?

How do we know what is inspired? It is hard to answer this question without an understanding of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was both responsible for writing the scripture and preserving the scriptures that were considered the authoritative Word of God. Concerning the Old and New Testament, we have no record of any dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the extent of the canon. In the New Testament, Old Testament scriptures are quoted over 295 times, showing that the early church believed what books of the bible were inspired.

Jesus says to the apostles that they will have supernatural powers given by the Holy Spirit to remember his exact words and that they were responsible for recording it and writing it down. John 14:26.
Plus: Here is what the Bible says about itself.
Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth." (Jeremiah 1:9).
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
My personal favorite.
Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
How true that is. Billions of people throughout the world have leaned on scripture in their darkest moments, only to have their soul revived. That is my story.

Conversation w/ an Agnostic: Part 2 Revelation


Here I want to discuss the evidence of the bible, and other ways that God chooses to reveal himself to us that points to God revealing himself. When I asked you about your view on the bible, you seemed to think that I was looking for your view on its divinity. That was not the case. The bible's manuscripts have been around for thousands of years, it had withstood more criticism than anything else outside of Jesus himself,. People, countries, and cultures, have gone through incredible lengths to eliminate the bible and still to this day it exists. Beyond that it not just exists but thrives as the number one best seller every year. It has been translated into thousands of languages, and people all over the world claim that "For Them" the book is God speaking to them personally. Because all of what I just wrote is true, the book forces a view. People do not have to say that the bible is inspired or divine but they are forced to hold a view on it. So again, I will ask, what is your view?

There are four major points for proving the credibility of documents. One, was the writer of the document an eyewitness to the events he records or was he at least a contemporary that lived in the same area of the events? Two, were there other independent witnesses to corroborate the evidence? Three, did those witnesses continue to maintain their testimonies until death even to the jeopardy of their lives? Four, were there also hostile witnesses who would have reason not to believe the evidence but still say the events occurred? If all of these four factors are in solid evidence, then reliability becomes very acceptable. With the New Testament documents, we have all four evidences in a firm position for credibility. For more on this you can read
I open this up for conversation.

Conversation w/ an Agnostic: Part 1 Creator

Over the past week or so I have been having some in depth conversations with a friend of mine who is agnostic. I thought I would add some of my conversation with him because I think that is helpful for all.

I will start first with my logical progression of information which has brought me to where I am today. I will cover Creator, Revelation, Historical Evidence, Prophecy, Manuscripts, Jesus, Personal experience, and personal relationship.

This is Part 1:

I assume that you already have read or heard somewhere that the number of atheists are rapidly decreasing . As a Christian you need to know that I do not refute science, I refute naturalism. I will agree with people like Lee Strobal, William Dembski, Larry Witham, and many others who think that even scientifically it takes more faith to believe that there is no creator than to believe that there is a creator. To me I struggle to believe that something came of nothing. At no point in the world do we ever look at something and say, that came from nothing, we always assume it came from someone or something. To add to that, the more complicated a design the more intelligent we assume the creator to be. Also, when I have studied about how finely tuned our universe is, along with the fact the human body is also so finely tuned to exist in this environment, it blows my mind. As you already know, the slightest alters in the universe or earth, humans would no longer be able to exist. The other thing that totally confuses me is the fact that people believe that matter can turn to mind. In other words, how can matter turn into a brain that works, thinks, learns, etc. I am sure that there are many arguments against that but to me and my education level, it is hard to get beyond that. A reference for you is Lee Strobal's, The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence. This was very helpful for me in forming my beliefs in God as Creator.

Here are some quotes to support what I believe as far as a creator is concerned.
1. The most amazing thing to me is existence itself. How is it that inanimate matter can organize itself to contemplate itself? Can a person be a scientist and a Christian? Yes. As I said before, the world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone. God is the explanation for the miracle of existence.- Allan Sandage, cosmologist and Nobel Prize winner
2. Beer is proof alone that God exists and wants us to be happy. Matt Chewning, a nobody. haha

Dunkin Donuts; Cool Stuff

Beth and I went to the first Dunkin Donuts in Greensboro. It just opened up 3 days ago. It is so cool because there is the picture of the 1st Dunkin Donuts in Quincy which Beth and I used to live next to. Pretty cool.

Anyway, when we were waiting in line, I saw the guy talking to this girl. He was hitting on her like something I never seen before. He was pretty obnoxious. He was whispering in her year, talking loud and real sexual to her. It was kind weird to witness in a line at DD's. Anyway, what was the weirdest of all of it was how this women was totally responding to his disrespectful way of coming onto her.

Then this guy walks right by me and says to the girl standing besides us, "Jesus loves you", "Now pay me your tithe." It was just weird. Finally he got his drink and donut, got this girls phone number and walks out.

Now we're waiting in line and I go up to the girl that he was hitting on. Scared out of my mind, I leaned over and said, "You need to disregard everything that guys just said to you. You should never accept his call, and instead find a man that is going to pursue you for who you are as a women, and that will love you and respect you, not treat you like a animal in a Dunkin Donuts line." I then said, "God wants you to wait for a man who will first run after him and in turn then be able to pursue you, lead you, and treat you the way that he calls him to." Not knowing how that was going to go over, I kinda just freaked out and shut up.

She looked at me and said, "thank you, a lot of people have been telling me that lately." She said that it was weird that I would just say that out of the blue but she thanked me.

Cool stuff.

If you read this, I encourage you to get in the lives of people. Maybe God wants to use you to encourage someone today.

Spiritual Warfare

I have always been pretty sceptical about spiritual warfare until recently. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed how real it seems to be. It has been amazing at times how it seems that the enemy is trying to discourage to move forward in our journey. He seems to be going straight to our family. As a good friend of mine once said, "The fastest way he can stop you, is to go straight for your family."

I just listened to a message by Driscoll on Spiritual Warfare. It was scary and encouraging all at the same time. What was cool is to think that we are experiencing some of this because God wants to use us and Satan wants to stop us. It truly is a fight against good and evil.

Join me in the journey of acknowledging when God is at work and when the enemy wants to stop you. The bible promises that the gates of Hell will not prevail against what God is going to do through us. What an awesome word. We've already won.

Trip to Boston

We just got back from Boston and it was amazing. We had a blast. While out there, it was neat how God began to slowly confirm to us that it was where we belonged.

More importantly, it was a great time for the family. Here is what we got to do durning the week:

1. "Brothers Video Game" I am not sure what the real name of the game was but D called it the brothers game because it was for the guys only. That was until the girls noticed how fun it was and it then had to become the Brothers and Sisters game.

2. "Rock Band" We only played once, but I am a machine at the drums. Well, maybe a machine that was made in the early 1800's and has a hard time staying on pace, but it was still fun. Paul is the freakin man an the guitar. *****Star Power*****

3. "Cook Out" This was fun. We got dome dogs and burgers, a few brews and chilled at the house. Paul's friend Drew came over with his wife and we had some awesome theological conversations. he is kind of Emergent (Emergent Village), and I was able to talk to him about authority of scripture and some highly debatable things like, homosexuality (Romans 1) , truth (Psalm 19), governmental power (Daniel4), Sovereignty of God, etc. It was so awesome.

4. "Youth Group" God opened up an opportunity for me to preach to about 15 youth at the Beverly Church of the Nazarene. 3 kids came to Christ, and God really moved. It was awesome.

5. "Catch Up" We got to spend the night with Cerissa and Erik. Cerissa is Beth's best friend in the whole world. It is beautiful to see them together, Beth just comes alive. It is really neat how God has given them that relationship. It was over a year since we had seen them, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Then we visited ENC and spent some time with my old AD. That was rally neat. She was amazed I how much I have changed over the years; in a good way!!!

6. "Whale Watching" No I do not mean going on the T and making fun of the overweight people. We really went out into the ocean and saw 21 humpback wales. They are 40 ton mammals. We saw one breach which means a 40 ton mammal shoots out of the water and goes 5 feet into the air and belly flops back into the water. That was an amazing experience.

7. "Six Flags" Never have I felt so close to Jesus as when I was going 77 MPG at a 140 degree angle on the Superman Roller Coaster. FREAKIN CRAZY. That was fun. D actually went on his 1st roller coaster and loved it. Poor little Abby was to short.

8. "Saw Momma and Grandpa" One of the major highlights was seeing my Grandfather. He is 89 and in a nursing home. It was really sad to see, probably one of the hardest things for me in a long time. However, it was great to see him, it had been 7 years.

Awesome (Must Read)

Beth's Cousin has been at Hillsong's college in Sydney for the past year. She has been a part of their worship experiences; to what extent, I do not know. Anyway, Beth shot her an e-mail 3 weeks ago, about our plan to plant. This was her response. It is amazing what God is doing.

I've been thinking A LOT about Bostonand during the thinking parts, I've been prayingand I gotta tell you - what you and Matt are planning on doing is so incredible.I can't even express to you, how awesome it is to see God using you guys itsuch a big way.And even more than that, it's so cool to see how God has planted thisvision in you guys and you're going for it, you're giving it your alland you're doing what God has asked and you're not even hesitating.And even since you've brought this idea up so much has happened with yourfamily, and it's stuff that Satan would be more than happy to use to bringyou down, because he knows that what you guys are doing is going to change somany people, but you guys have just risen above and kept God the focus andpraised Him in the highs and the lows. And I honestly believe that God is goingto bless you guys for that.In saying all that... Honestly, an opportunity this incredible? I don't know how I couldn'tbe apart of it!God's told me from the beginning of this journey to Australia to not planahead because He had something in store for me that I wouldn't be able toplan, and when you asked me to be apart of this church plant with you guys Ijust knew that that was the next step, the next leg of this journey God has gotme on.I've talked to my mom and the leaders I have above me, all of whom Irespect, and everyone I've talked to says they really think this is the nextstep for me.But, more than that... I really feel like I'm getting the okay from God.So, I just wanted to write and tell you officially that I am planning on beingapart of your team and joining you in Boston.I can't even tell you how excited I am about this!I actually think you guys are in Boston right now, so I hope you're havinga good time on your trip and with Paul and Amber!and I hope we get to talk soon, most likely whenever you get home!well, I love you guys and I miss you!also, I just wanted to say thanks for thinking of me in really means a lot.: ) Holly

Purpose, Mission and Vision Statement

Last night I thought through this as I began to prep our business plan. Below is Netcast Church' s Purpose, Mission, and Vision Statement as well as our 3 strategies to fulfill our objectives.

By the grace of God, we will do whatever it takes to create a relevant church in Boston, that will empower us to transform a city and its culture, by seeing thousands of people who are far from God, filled with life in Christ.

We will do this in 3 ways:
1. Sunday Worship Experience (Intimacy w/ God)
2. Small Groups (Community with Believers)
3. Missional Living (Influence in the world)

Broken and Beautiful

Broken and Beautiful
A moment w/ God.

This morning I got to the office at about 7:30, but as I got in I received a call and had to run out to an appointment. I put on my Ipod to some worship music. It is awesome when God decides to overwhelm you with his presence. In a moment God began to just break me, I began worshipping and crying and praying. I couldn't stop crying, I didn't know what was going on, I was just overwhelmed with his presence and his call on my life. I never felt such a weight to do the will of God. I was just overwhelmed and broken before the Lord.

In my brokenness, I called my pastor but as he answered the phone, I couldn't stop crying and couldn't get out any words as to why I was crying. He kept asking me what was wrong but I couldn't even speak, (I know for sure he thought someone Finally I think I got out something like "I just Love God so much". Not knowing what was happening to me, Allen just began to pray for me. It was such a beautiful morning, one that I will remember forever.

People have told me that as I begin to surrender more and more to God, things like this will begin to happen. I never intended to have a God moment in my car, but I am sure glad that God intended for it to happen. "There is nothing like being lead by the Holy Spirit" - David Wilkerson.