The Outsiders

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There is a field of beautiful weeds next to my daughter’s school. I pull in line alongside it every day with the other parents, creeping along for my turn to pick up my child. The weeds are quite tall now, catching every breeze and butterfly that comes its way. There is the occasional set of tire tracks mushed into the field from a driver who couldn’t wait for the line to move. The school has tried to purchase it in hopes to expand, but that rectangle of dirt and brush is far too pricey.

The land is surrounded on one side by old trees, firmly rooted into the ground in the yards of neighbors. They tower above the weeds, holding court in their superior standing of shade-givers.

But when the light hits the weeds just right, you can see gold. While the sun outlines the trees like halos of honey, the weeds are given the full force of the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlight, casting a breathtaking beauty upon them. They are not weeds in this moment, but the light so many artists try to capture in their paintings. When I finally understood the value of a weed, it changed my thinking forever.

Although not everyone waits around to witness their transformation.

As I approach my 20th year high school reunion, I think about the weeds and wonder how many of us will walk in feeling like we’re pulling a cart-ful of them, and how many will feel like the trees that look down on them. Are my adornments as beautiful—do my shoulders reach as high as the others?

Does the weight of my cart outweigh those of the others?

Despite the joy of seeing old friends, successes will be measured on this day. Classmates will walk in with lists: the accomplishments, and the list that we probably won’t talk about –the failed relationships, losses of all kinds, mistakes.

But the light shines just as bright on our carts of weeds. They are what make us work harder, gain wisdom, and grow beautifully. God didn’t come for the best of the best after all.

I‘m here inviting outsiders, not insiders – an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:32 The Message

Those of us in the weed fields become part of God’s masterpiece—too unworthy in the eyes of those who miss the light—too valuable for the wallets of the insiders.

Zombies and the In-Between

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My first year of college felt like a giant state of limbo. I still lived at home, I usually carpooled, and I couldn’t concentrate on a single piece of homework—except a few glorious moments in English class and about 2/3ds of my 2D design class. Otherwise, my feet were squirming with antsyness, impatient for my next step into independence.

My friend, Laurin, was in the same boat, traveling with me on cracked Arizona roads to class and back. One of our favorite things to do in this in-between state was to people watch.

Nowadays, most people have their ears to phones, or their gaze falls to their laps as they pretend they’re not texting while driving—but I want to talk about the IMG_4047times before we all became cell phone zombies—when people kept their eyes wide open and allowed life to overflow from the driver’s seat.

My observations from the ford pickup truck:

The opera singer.
These driver’s live in joy, tilting their heads and necks in the most awkward angles to “feel it.” They let their mouths drop open as if catching the mosquitoes that go splat on their windshield, but no—they’re not crazy, just happy. They must either love their jobs, love leaving their jobs, or are able to be content in that place in-between.

The Nose Pickers.
Your windshield is see-through, people. However, if you really don’t care then I don’t either. Except for the entertainment. I like to laugh while driving. Unless I’m on the way to lunch. Ew.

The Unexpressionist.
I assume you’re either a deep thinker—oblivious to the world around you–or your life is boring.
For the Thinker: Life is indeed profound and full of wild metaphors, but my car is not one of them—when traveling, please keep your attention on the road.
For the Bored: Life is not one bit boring. You might want to take the “back roads” just to remind yourself of this.

The smiler-waver on, “I’ll wait for you“-enthusiastic drivers.

You spread joy. Keep it up.

The bad news: Too many people don’t take advantage of the art of driver’s-seat-living anymore. We have become cell-phone zombies, the walking unpresent, the “who cares what God might be painting in this moment”, I-need-to-be-in-touch-with-the-next-moment right now types.

That’s absolutely the best thing to do if you don’t want to go anywhere.

Those in-between moments are the only things that will prepare you for the next road.
It’s the windshield that protects you from going into something you’re not ready for yet.

Otherwise, you may end up with a mouth full of bugs.

Drive awesome.

SCIENCE, MORAL, SPIRITUAL AND BIBLICAL SKEPTICS PART II

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Hi all! Willow’s back today, continuing her blog on the concepts introduced in the movie, God’s Not Dead. For the start of the series, go here.

SCIENCE

Hello once again!

It is such a pleasure to be able to once again be a guest on Sherry’s blog. Have any more of you been able to see the movie “God’s Not Dead?” It’s ok if you haven’t, but if you have, you will remember some of what we are about to discuss.
One of the major issues the professor had against God, and what he tried to use against Josh, the young man who defended his faith, were 1st photo Sep 15 blogobjections from a scientific viewpoint. So let’s continue to look into not only defending our faith, but helping to lead others to the truth.
If you remember from the first week, we discovered the root idea behind most scientific objections is “The natural world is all there is.” And the probing question is “How much faith is required for that belief?” “It is important to point out to the skeptic that his naturalistic view invokes supernatural power as much as yours (God) does. The big difference is that naturalism puts faith in the absurd-nature doing supernatural things-while a theistic worldview merely puts faith in the unseen-a cause beyond nature that has left evidence in nature of its presence.”1
What the professor didn’t understand is that science has already proved that nature is unable to create matter, space or time–for nature to do so, it would have to go against the First Law of Thermodynamics (matter can neither be created nor destroyed but it can change form), Second Laws of Thermodynamics (everything goes from a state of order to disorder, i.e. decay, etc) the Law of Biogenetic (life cannot come from non-life; no spontaneous generation), Mathematical probability (shows evolution NEVER could have occurred), The fossil record ( it holds no transitional forms), just to name a few facts. In other words, nature would have to have supernatural powers, like God. I have even run into those people who believe in a powerful “Mother Nature” or “Gaia”, in other words 2nd photo Sep 15 blognature can do godlike things. Yet they are adamantly against even the thought of an Intelligent Designer⎯the Creator God. It is a far more logical explanation to believe in the unseen (God) than what has already been proven cannot happen.
As you can see one of the biggest problems with the science skeptic is that they tend to divorce reason from faith. This is exactly where the professor in the movie stood. And he didn’t even know it. Let’s take another example of this. The science skeptic tend to emphasize natural selection and mutation can create different forms of life (evolution). So when a scientist claims there is evidence that a life form has evolved from one species into another, what you can point out is that both of these process create nothing new. These processes only remove or rearrange what is already present (in the genes). Speciation–the changing of one species into another, and adaptation which is changes within a species, are two vastly different processes. Speciation is found only in the textbooks. Adaptation is found everywhere. What the scientific skeptic has really done is exchange one source of faith for another.
Here are just a few examples of the extreme faith some secular scientists have: First, in regards to life originating from non-life (spontaneous generation);
“One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here 3rd photo Sep. 15 blogwe are⎯as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.” -Harvard biochemist, Nobel Laureate, and evolutionist Georg Wald. The Design Inference. Cambridge University Press, 1998, pg. 55. Google Book Search. 27 Aug. 2008. Note the words impossible and believe. Both determine that this is a statement of faith, not science.
In regards to evolution; “Imaginations run riot in conjuring up an image of our most ancient ancestor–the creature that gave rise to both apes and humans. This ancestor is not apparent in ape or human anatomy nor in the fossil record. Anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied upon for evolutionary lineages. Yet paleontologists persist in doing just this.” -Anthropologists and evolutionists, J. Lowenstein and Adrienne Zihlman, Ph.D. “The Invisible Ape.” New Scientist/ 120(1641) 1988:56,57. These are statements from atheists, but look at all the highlighted words in this statement….easy to see this is a belief and not science.
Yet sad to say statements like these are found in many “scientific” journals and conferences. One of the biggest reasons the science skeptics fool themselves is because they have their own definition about certain words. This has come about mostly through blind faith and ignorance. The following are some red flag words (see if you remember how many of them the professor from the movie used):
The Big Bang. The skeptic means that the uncaused beginning of the 4th photo Sep. 15 bloguniverse happened suddenly based on the idea that the cosmos (stars, galaxies, etc.) is still expanding which suggests that they were once together in a single location. Don’t be intimidated by this. They are avoiding the real issue which is: What started the big bang to begin with? And were did everything inside of this ‘exploding dot’ come from? And were did the space that the dot is floating around in come from?
Evolution. The skeptic can mean one of two things: 1) change over time. Or 2) the ability of life forms (and even non-life forms) to transform into entirely different species. There are also two different types of evolution. “Microevolution–over a few generations, a mosquito population becomes resistant to insecticide (the resistant genes were present to begin with). And Macroevolution–over a few million years, a type of lizard gradually becomes a bird (new genetic information is developed or created from mutation and natural selection. Information, mutation and natural selection are red flag words as well so lets define them too.
Information. When the skeptic speaks of the word information, he means that is how humans describe the order we see in living things that only look designed. Clarify to the skeptic that information is both complex and specified and can not happen at random. For example, if you dump out a cupful of scrabble letters, there is a chance it might produce the word G-O-D. But there is no chance that it would produce the Gettysburg Address (a short speech) or even one sentence of it. If you saw the Gettysburg address spelled out on the floor you would come to the correct conclusion that it was intentional….in other words, designed. “We know it is designed because we instinctively know that words are systems of letters; sentences are systems of words; paragraphs are systems of sentences; and speeches are systems of paragraphs. Such systems cannot form without foresight, planning, and intention. In other words, a system–not an independent part–is the most basic unit of any complex, meaningful structure…But evolutionists would like us to believe that complex systems such as those found in living things arose part-by-part….Don’t let an evolutionist off the hook who suggests that life evolved from ‘simple beginnings’–there is no such thing. The beginnings would have to be complex also. The most primitive, single-celled bacteria that evolutionists say began life on earth would have needed working systems including some form of digestive system and reproductive system from the very beginning. Such systems are immensely complex.”2
Information is non-physical and does not arise out of material. Materials such as ink, paper, pens, pencils, discs, computer chips and DNA molecules are only carriers of information. “For example, the information in the Gettysburg Address exists outside of the paper and ink Lincoln used to write it. It could exist just as well on an audio CD, on the internet, or engraved in stone….but it did not begin in these materials; it began in Abraham Lincoln’s mind.
“An evolutionist might say, ‘But Lincoln’s mind is merely reactions of brain chemicals.’ In other words, Lincoln’s mind was the result of random, material (chemical) causes. But this would mean that the Gettysburg Address is the result of random, material causes too because it came from Lincoln’s mind. But as we have discussed, complex systems such as speeches (not to mention human brains) don’t arise out of randomness; they are the product of intention and planning (design). This means that Lincoln’s mind and ours are something more than just chemicals. Our minds have the power of intentionality; our brains are the medium for communicating it.
“Just as the Gettysburg Address is not the product of paper and ink, DNA, the blueprint for living things, is not the product of a random soup of chemicals compounds. By all accounts, it is a code or language so complex that no material causes could have created it; it demands an author. Only mind, not matter, can generate meaningful information.”3
Even though it is evident that there is a difference between information and material, evolutionists truly believe that the natural world only looks designed. “They maintain that mutation and natural selection are able to generate the DNA (even though its a highly complex system) required to create new species.”4 (Emphasis mine.)
Ahhh…and the professor thought himself smart, but he didn’t even know the difference between matter and mind!
We will wait to explain mutation and natural selection in more detail next time.

Thank you Sherry for your continued invitation!
God bless and be healthy!
Willow Dressel

References;
1-4Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 87-107.

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, intervew with Tosca Lee

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She’s the queen of prose, the storyteller of the century—she’s Tosca Lee, the author that will make even the non-reader devour the written word.

Her latest book will be released tomorrow. Here’s a bit about The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, and an interview with the author herself (stay tuned for a giveaway):

There is the story you know: A foreign queen, journeying north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king Queen of Sheba Coverand god both before returning to her own land laden with gifts.

That is the tale you were meant to believe.

Which means most of it is a lie.

The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. The riches more priceless. The secrets more corrosive. The love and betrayal more passionate and devastating.

Across the Red Sea, the pillars of the great oval temple once bore my name: Bilqis, Daughter of the Moon. Here, to the west, the porticoes knew another: Makeda, Woman of Fire. To the Israelites, I was queen of the spice lands, which they called Sheba.

More from Tosca:

• What do we actually know about the Queen of Sheba?
We know something about the Sabaean (the Israelite Sheba = ancient Arabian Saba) people: that they had a capital in Marib, a sovereign “federator” who united the kingdoms of Saba, an elegant and evolving script, a sophisticated dam near the capital that turned Marib’s dusty fields into oases, and that there is great evidence of Sabaean settlement in the area of Ethiopia near what would become Aksum. We know the Sabaeans of the 10th Century BC worshipped the moon god, Almaqah, though experts do not agree whether this was a male or female deity. We know that in terms of the ancient world, they were quite rich due in large part to their cultivation of frankincense in the southeastern region, and that they had an extensive and evolving trade network that extended as far north as Damascus, as far east as India, and as far west across the Red Sea as Ethiopia and the continent beyond.
The queen is a very minor character in the scope of the biblical narrative, but you assert that her famous visit to King Solomon is vitally important in the scope of Old Testament history. Why?
For two reasons. If the story of the United Monarchy (the kingdom of David and his son/successor, Solomon) is not true, then the bedrock of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) collapses into fiction, and the claim of Jews to the land of Israel with it. Perhaps the authors of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles knew that, because they took the opportunity to basically say, “Hey, this queen from the ends of the earth, that famous Queen of Sheba, came and brought tribute to our king, and blessed him and our god and said ‘All that I heard was true, and I never even heard the half of it!’” This is fascinating. It begs the question: what was it that was so great about this female sovereign—in a time when the world was ruled by men—and a pagan, no less… what was it about her that was so outstanding that her endorsement of Solomon, his riches, wisdom, and god, held so much weight as to be included in the Old Testament narrative? Who was this woman who matched wits with the wisest man in the world—whose throne was so secure that she could leave it and make the 1400 mile journey of half a year to visit this king… before making the long trek back? Well, this must be a woman worth knowing something about.

Tosca PhotoYou recently won the 2014 Gold Medallion for fiction—what people may not know is this is the only award given each year by the ECPA for Christian fiction across all genres. And yet you’re known for your controversial points of view and pushing limits of the category. What is it about your books that you believe resonates so much with Christian readers?
I think it’s that I’m willing to go there and get gritty. To admit that halfway through the writing of Iscariot, I realized I was no longer writing his story… but my own. Havah is also my story. They all are. And we’re not that different, you and I. I like writing about these maligned characters because even though we may not want to, we can often identify with them far more readily than the good guys, who seem so untouchable. We all feel let down at some point by the way God fails to adhere to our agendas for Him. We all have moments when we think, “if you knew me—really knew me—you would not love me.” We all fail with the best of intentions, and we all want to be embraced exactly as we are. We are all as capable of darkness as we are of light—and often the darkness is far more tangible. The stuff in the Bible isn’t sterile—far from it. It’s gory, violent, sexual, and messy. But so is life. I want to be honest about fear and compromise as I am about hope, beauty and redemption.

It’s probably no surprise that you used to be a freelance writer. But you’ve also been an online gamer, a pageant queen—were first-runner up to Mrs. United States—a model and a leadership consultant to Fortune 500 Companies with the Gallup Organization. How have each of these seeming disparate experiences informed your experience as a best-selling author?
Online gaming, when I was doing it—before avatars and the time of EverQuest, even—was solely text-based. We’re talking about the early 90s, during the time of dial-up modems when online gaming boiled down to collaborative story-telling. I spent nine years writing about imaginary characters online. I don’t know how many words or pages that amounted to (hundreds and hundreds), but I assert often that everything I learned about characterization happened from role-playing in text and writing online—from slipping into the skin of characters I could only portray with words. The pageant thing, the modeling thing, gave me invaluable training in media. The year I was Mrs. Nebraska (1996) was when I started public speaking. Suddenly, I had a platform, and people assumed I had something to say. Well, I did, and that led to me going to work for Gallup. Working as a consultant, my primary job was as a speaker and teacher. This, too, has proved invaluable when it comes to speaking on writing and to the media. I’m very comfortable in front of an audience of 20 or 1000.

What are one or two things that your readers don’t know about you?
I danced semi-professionally as a classical ballerina in my teens. I also used to be a concert pianist. I have the greatest fans in the world, am terrible at math, can’t work if my house is messy, and am a crack shot with a deer rifle.

• What are you working on next?
I’m taking a break from biblical historicals. My next two books will be something different. And then I’ll delve back into the biblical world again.

What others have said about The Legend of Sheba

“An epic masterpiece.”
-Michael Napoliello, Radar Pictures

“Another winner from Lee.”
-Publisher’s Weekly

“Tosca Lee has outdone herself with Legend of Sheba.”
-Best-selling author Erin Healy

Links to Download Ismeni, the prequel FREE:Ismeni photo

Amazon: http://bit.ly/IsmeniPrelude
Simon & Schuster: http://bit.ly/LegendofShebaPrequel

P.S. I’ve read it—it’s awesome.

A few links to find Tosca:

Website: http://www.toscalee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

Links to buy:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/LegendofSheba
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/RiseofaQueen
CBD: http://bit.ly/1oRPae6

 

 

God’s Not Dead Part II, and #Bag The Peak Challenge

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We’re continuing Willow’s series on God’ Not Dead today, but first I’m responding to a challenge from The Relevant Christian Magazine (click to find out more). Watch my video to see my #Bag the Peak challenge (you’ll have to follow the link, I wasn’t able to post it here) and consider this your invitation to participate!

 

Follow Me to the video.

 

For the introduction to Willow’s Series, click Here.

SPIRITUAL SKEPTICISM

Hello once again! I hope this blog finds any who read it to be well…if not physically, then spiritually. Thank you Sherry for allowing me to continue with points from the movie God’s Not Dead, and today we will discuss the spiritual skeptic.

At one point in the beginning, the professor in the movie tried to present the idea that there is no heaven (and thus no God). Or if there is a heaven, all good people go there…and you don’t need God for that. He would have been alright with someone who wanted to believe in Buddha or coexisting. But there are big problems with that.

The spiritual skeptic wants to get to heaven their own way (and thinks everyone else should too). “But for freedom gained by climbing toward heaven (the skeptic believes this is the place all good people go after they die to have an eternally good time) in one’s own way, there is the unending burden of the climb itself…spirituality provides a temporary, feel-good sense of accomplishment, but it is a futile, self-serving attempt at salvation.”1 Only in acceptance of Jesus as your Savior does one get to heaven not by our own works, but by grace. Why don’t more people accept Jesus then? Because to surrender self-rule is probably the most difficult thing for mankind to do.

Questions such as “People can get to heaven by many different ways…” or “To achieve enlightenment one must meditate…” or “What we believe in, our thoughts and words all shape our reality…” are all reasons people turn to religion…to be set free from the problems of our moral world. The Creator God has given us an internal drive for spiritual freedom and most people strive for it (Ecclesiastes 3:11–He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart…) Unfortunately many people are mislead by the Root Idea that good works get you to heaven. In this manner, a person’s spiritual beliefs allow the individual to set the rules in which the deity of his or her choice will operate. Often they believe that if they (or anyone) is basically good, they can get to heaven. And by basically good they mean doing more good than bad deeds.
This line of belief exaggerates the character of man, and/or diminishes the nature of God. There is a major flaw in this thinking. Ask the Probing Question…how good is good enough?

If a basically good person can get into heaven, then they believe in a god who has compromised standards so that man can fulfill the perfect standards of God. But the only standards worthy of a true God is perfectionism. No basically good person would be admitted into Harvard, or medical school, or be allowed to play on a NFL team. Nor would Bill Gates hire a basically good programmer, nor Donald Trump hire a basically good businessman, etc. You get the point. It is puzzling as to why people change the standards when it comes to God. Especially when Christianity is the only religion where God demands payment for sin (because heaven is a perfect place) and then provides the payment. You see, God must be satisfied by the only known source of perfection…God Himself. But He gives each individual a choice if they refuse His grace…that is God will then judge that person by their own standards (a scary thought) because God’s standard is perfect righteousness, not mere human goodness. Besides if basically good people are the ones who will populate heaven, how will heaven be much different than our current fallen world?

Then there are those who believe enlightenment (self-actualization) is the way. They believe that divine self-mastery will enable them to find reality from within and usually involves some source of meditation. When the skeptic speaks of meditation, they mean that it is a way to find a frame of mind to become one with the universe or to find one’s inner voice. However, again there is a major flaw with this thinking…

“Man cannot enlighten himself because his nature is where the problem is. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ [Jer. 17:9]…how did the guru get beyond his own flawed nature? …if man is really divine and only needs to re-recognize his divinity, how did he lose touch with it in the first place? If the divine can be corrupted, is it really divine?…Only a true Divine source beyond man can provide enlightenment…”2 “Meditation seeks a connection to an impersonal force; prayer seeks a relationship with a personal being.”3 Prayer is active while meditation is passive.

Then there are times that the skeptic can get frustrated and hostile and turn to name calling. One of the favorites is, organized religion. Let’s define what they mean by that; a narrow, dogmatic, hypocritical belief system. They often believe that churches are filled with hypocrites. And while hypocrites can be found everywhere including the church along with plenty of genuine Christians filled with integrity, it is not the people in the church that give salvation, it is Christ. If you dig a little deeper you will see that hypocrisy is not the main objection that spiritual skeptics have towards organized religion, but authority. You see “…personal experience and discovery are their primary source of authority.”4 Organized religion challenges this authority and requires adherence to a set of beliefs that don’t match their experience. And they don’t like that. They would rather have their own customized religion so they can have the freedom to assemble their own beliefs. “The trade-off is that there is no accountability and thus, no true growth.”5 An analogy is a person who is partially blind that needs and operation. Because he is partially blind, even if he were a skilled eye surgeon, would he be able to operate on his own eye? Like wise, since man is a product of a broken world, his ideas of how to fix himself are also broken.

Two other red flag words to be aware of are holy and karma. The skeptic’s meaning of holy usually means something that has a lot of religious tradition associated with it. “From a human perspective, God’s holiness is both His greatest and most terrifying attribute. What the paradox skeptics miss about God’s holiness is that it repels us from Him while being the only thing (Jesus’ sacrifice) able to reconnect us to Him.”6 And their meaning of karma is my good deed will return to me (either now or in the next life), I create my own reality. What these skeptics fail to see is that it is a merciless, unending cycle of rebirths and suffering without any assurance of freedom. Karma perpetuates the presence of evil because one who does evil in this life must be cursed by it in the next.

It would be good to ask someone like the professor in the movie “why he shouldn’t at least consider the one faith system that is unique–the only one that both satisfies the standards of a perfect God and shows mercy to man’s flawed character.”7

Check out Willow’s weekly blog here.

References:
1-7Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 97-107. pg.

 

God’s not Dead–Guest Post by Willow Dressel

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Good Morning friends,

We aren’t alone in our crafts, right? There is a huge community of writers/thinkers out there and I want to start hosting some of them on my blog. Today, we’ll begin a series on some of the concepts presented in the movie, God’s Not Dead. Please feel encouraged to comment and share.

 

Hi everyone,

Let me introduce myself; my name is Willow Dressel and I am a creation scientist, wildlife biologist, author, and friend of Sherry Rossman. How many of you have come across people that want to challenge your faith in Jesus and/or the Bible or the science/history of the Bible? A great example of that can be found in the movie “God’s Not Dead”. If you haven’t already watched the movie I highly recommend it. The movie went over some critical issue Christians face today. It is about a young freshman college student who stood up to his philosophy professor, and really the rest of the class too, to pronounce that God is not dead. The professor is a doubting, angry skeptic and many arguments ensued from the professor that the student had to refute. I will not disclose any more details for the sake of those who haven’t yet viewed the movie.

Sherry and I both have watched the movie (an amazing movie, by the way) and she thought that it would help all of you if we delved into some of the Professor’s–who is an atheist–objections to God a little deeper.

In the case of the movie, the professor started out with scientific objections, but the real cause was moral objections because he had suffered a great deal of pain. What am I speaking about?
A skeptic is someone who doubts/has objections with anything that has to do with the Creator God. Often a skeptic tries to dissuade you from defending the Bible or your faith. There are four basic positions of “attacks” he/she can take; spiritual, moral, scientific, and biblical.

But behind each of these positions is a root idea. Each root idea can be brought into the light when you ask a probing question. Then you will have a good sense of where the skeptic is coming from and what he is really asking…and how you can help them understand the truth.

You have encountered a spiritual skeptic when the topic centers around gods, heaven, meditation, the afterlife, the supernatural, karma, other religions, coexistquestioning God, etc. The root idea behind most spiritual objections is: “Good works get you to heaven.” So the Probing Question to ask is: “How good is good enough (to get you to heaven)?” From there you can answer other questions they may have. Keep in mind the root idea and if the person keeps rephrases the question, lead them back to the probing question.

You have encountered a science skeptic when the central topic is evolution, the Big-Bang, mutation, natural selection, ape to man, etc. The Root Idea behind most scientific objections is: “The natural world is all that there is.” So the Probing Question to ask is: “How much faith is required for that belief?” This is one of the icthusattacks the Professor in the movie used. Scientific skeptics are usually highly educated and can ask probing questions themselves. An example is “What scientific basis do we have that indicates an intelligence may have created or caused life to arise.” The answer lies in reason, something the scientific skeptic doesn’t believe can be connected to faith (more about this later). But “complex, meaningful information does not arise by chance, and it cannot be reduced to physical causes. Therefore, it is no blind leap of faith to conclude that living things containing the voluminous code of DNA demand and intelligent cause.” All of our answers lie in information.

Facing the scientific skeptic is one area were we may have to brush up on facts. If the answers don’t come to you right away it’s fine to let them know you will get back to them with an answer.

The moral skeptic has a worldview that has been couched in a very diplomatic (politically correct) sounding yet undermining Root Idea of “People should decide for swasticathemselves what is right or wrong.” The probing question then becomes “What is your standard for right and wrong.” The central topics for them are peace, fairness, justice, sex, art, intolerance, good, evil, self-rule, etc.

Finally, there is the biblical skeptic. Almost always some personal issues play a major role in their unbelief. Often people see suffering in the world and think God either no longer cares or never cared to begin with. Because God doesn’t fit their scripturephotoidea of Him, they reject the Bible. The root idea behind the biblical skeptic is; The Bible is man-made (they question the Bible’s relevance, reliability and authority). The Probing Question is: “If God really gave us a book, how would we know it came from Him?”

Next time we will look into the above questions a little deeper and work on how we can help the skeptic see the truth.

Take care and God bless,
Willow Dressel

References:
Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012.

Who’s With Me?

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My goal is to be the youngest thirty-seven yr. old that will ride her son’s scooter. I can’t help it—I watch my kids slide and swing and play in childish delight. They monkey climb everything they can, with lungful’s of laughter and melting Popsicles dribbling over their chins.

I want.

I take a few spins around the park. The sidewalk encircles the grass in a perfect forever trail for anything with wheels. As I push off with my foot, Noah yells, “faster Mommy”.

I will, I will! The breeze crazies my hair as I race him around the grass, him on his bike, me the only grown-up around these parts who is not afraid to do this.

A young(er) mother walks her daughter to the playground, giving me a strange look. I smile. Yeah, you just need to play for a while, I know it by the way you look exhausted just walking through the parking lot.

Watching her invisible burdens weigh her shoulders down is like watching the News and trying to take the weight of all the tragedies onto mine. It’s too heavy, only God can do that. So I pray, then go out and play for a bit.

I fill most of my summer with this. When Noah and Chloe take their bikes out, I run

Proof

Proof

behind them. My legs love it, and I love it too because my legs are firmer for climbing ladders to the slide and for keeping up with them as they get faster/taller. The ground is no longer hard and boring—it’s a springboard for launching me over weeds sprouting through bike trails and hearing my son go, “That’s awesome, mommy. How do you do that?”

When I told my kids I’m about to be a published novelist, I get blank stares. But launching over monsoon-inspired weeds? That’s an accomplishment.

Just now, I interrupted my blog to go run through a giant mud puddle. Awesome. And you know what? I think better. I feel great. The fresh air and exercise, the blue sky and play have reminded me that God wants us to take a break when needed. Work at your craft, and pray without ceasing, but trust Him to handle the big stuff, because even the youngest of us grown-ups can’t carry the whole world.

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Human

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As my fingers fly over the keyboard I wonder about our great-greats. If a few of them were to step into my house and sit down with me as I work on my laptop, would they be impressed? After all, I’m chatting with someone on the other side of the world as my lunch is being heated up by the plastic box humming in my kitchen.

I can see William now, putting away his handkerchief as he stares at the AC vents pumping my house full of cool air. His face is no longer beat red from working in his farm, and he holds his hand in the cool air as if heaven were blowing him a kiss.

Would Bertha run her hands over the stack of books that are waiting to teach me something new? Jewelry making, knitting, and of course the pile of books on

Don't worry about your inadequacies. I am cat.

Don’t worry about your inadequacies. I am cat.

parenting from this or that angle. We can do anything, right? She pulls her hands away and wipes the dust on her skirt. Yeah.

I could show them how a person can do shopping on the computer. Click. William might raise his eyebrows as I pay for my purchase with a plastic card.

Their eyes grow a bit weary as we watch the news. I think it’s too much for them, all this war and tragedy fed to us at once. Tears begin to course down their cheeks and mine as well when I let it all sink in. How come we can’t fix that?

William spots the desk across the room, the one from his time…maybe from his own home—I’m not sure how many hands it has gone through before mine. This desk has outlasted decades of throw-it-together furniture. It has seen generations of family pass on, and new ones come in. The details are exquisite. No machine of today could have made a desk that beautiful and few craftsmen today would have the time to make something like that with our constant demands.

I think William and Bertha would take one last look around and step back into their own time despite the hot house and cook stove, where people aren’t expected to be omnipresent. Where a person could take the time to do things right, and civilization realized they weren’t God.

I look at the TV screen, my pile of dusty how-to books. I glance at the articles on my laptop where the fights between the right and the left are nothing but a game of control. Control—that’s how this country is breaking apart. But we can’t, we’re not big enough.

And there is always something that outlasts the thrown-together stuff. I look over at the desk. Maybe we need to listen for a while, watch the master craftsman do His thing. He’s the only one who can do all. of. it. He’s vintage and modern awesome.

Feeling overwhelmed with our do-it-now culture? Tell us in the comments.

Night

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There’s a pocket of the night where you can see into another world. When I’m working the swing shift, watching over those who sleep, and the moon covers the earth in a silver sheen, I’m able to see through the darkness that normally threatens to morph into nightmares. I walk along the edge of a forest and see that most of the glowing eyes are not harbingers of doom. They aren’t one with the night, but have form of their own. Some of them slink along ditches and the creek bed, watching me for any sign of threat.

A word fills me: “I AM with you always.” I relax and go forward.

I meet some of those shapes who are lined with a white stripe of stink. They skitter around like lying politicians, threatening to defame those who disagree with them. I give them a wide berth, for here is a real threat; not of bodily harm, but how others will find me offensive due to another’s deception. I watch as they find their way to the dumpster.

This is my part-time job, holding down the fort and walking into the night while people slumber. It’s good, and bad, and certainly a different world in the moonshine. It’s kind of like my friend’s story. She calls herself a recovering (religion I won’t name). She said 100_1071she grew up in this church, believed in Jesus, knew who He was, but not until years later while she sat in a different place did she realize that knowing who Jesus is and knowing Him were two different things.

That revelation made all the difference. It was as if she stripped away the distractions that live under the sun, to finding His voice in the night. She now knows peace in the midst of trial, hope when all seems hopeless. “It’s like having a curtain removed from your eyes”, she said.

I think about this as I move on to the gazebo.

A raccoon fishes in the pond. He peeks at me for a small moment. He must recognize me and remember that I have a soft spot for his type of mask because he turns back to his fishing. He is bold and beautiful…I’m not sure that he isn’t an angel in disguise, keeping company with those of us that tread through the dark. I move on.

The flag whips around when a gust blows in. Its edges are tattered, but it never puts down its guard. As I look at this symbol that some salute and some defame, I understand why so many people think Jesus-followers are skunks. Those who speak in His name without really knowing him tend to repel people. I’m sure they mean well, and even intend to walk in goodness.

But you’ve got to be willing to follow Him despite the tattered and dark places, and for that, you really have to get to know Him.
Otherwise, the creatures who think I’m a threat, become the threat, and the night becomes one, big nightmare.

How do you enter this pocket of the night where raccoons might be angels?

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:8

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