Recently, I started reading a book recommended by Focus on the Family called "Navigating Public Schools: Charting a Course to Protect Your Child's Christian Faith and Worldview" by Stephen and Sarah Williams from Prepare The Way ministry. I heard part of their story on a long drive speaking about the rights parents and teachers have within a secularized school system to protect their child's faith and worldview. I was intrigued with a lot of what he said, not knowing all the rights I would have as a teacher in the public school system to share the Gospel with my students (something I've wrestled with). So, I bought the book. I will say that at the time you are reading this, I have not finished the book. However, just within the first chapter (I'm much further along now), there were some things I found shocking and this would be a good forum to discuss some of the things I found interesting.
Another disclaimer: I am not at all associated with Prepare The Way nor am I receiving any sort of compensation for mentioning their book at all. You are not reading an ad.
Another note: The book was published in 2016 so all data and information is relatively accurate and current.
I am also aware that this blog is geared towards college students and I'm talking about primary school and I promise, it will all come full circle.
Current research shows that roughly 50-70% of teen raised in Bible-believing homes walk away from their faith once they leave home (aka go off to college and beyond) (pg. 24). A quote by David Kinnaman in his book You Lost Me states, "Young people are skeptical about the reliability of the original Biblical manuscripts; they tend to read the Bible through a lense of pluralism...the theological foundations of even the most faithful young believers seem, in some crucial ways, shaky or unreliable" (pg. 24-25).
Also, what is pluralism? Well, I looked it up. On www.pluralism.org a definition of pluralism is given with four main points. For the sake of "pluralism isn't the point of this blog," I will list the most alarming definition:
"Third, pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments. The new paradigm of pluralism does not require us to leave our identities and commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments. It means holding our deepest differences, even our religious differences, not in isolation but in relationship with one another."
Sounds pretty good, right? Well.... Not so much. This definition of pluralism is a contradiction within itself. It implies that all are welcome to sit at the table and converse. However, the moment that you try and share your faith in a direct attempt to "save" that person, you are in contradiction to the concept of pluralism. You must, therefore, leave behind your deepest convictions so no to impose your belief system on your "brother." Sharing that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven is not welcome because a good pluralist believes that all religions are just different manifestations of the belief in "a" god (I use little g because- to be extremely clear- the god of Islam is not the God of Christianity). This is where you get the "all roads lead to heaven" argument but I think we can all agree that there are distinct moral and theological differences between pluralistic religions that bar that defense from being a good one. And while we're on the topic, this "all roads lead to heaven" is part of the relativism movement- one that pluralism explicitly states that it is not a part of.
It really is an interesting topic and a dangerous one to a young believer's understanding of the Gospel.
This is why having a strong Biblical knowledge before you enter college is crucial when having conversations with your peers whose Biblical foundation may be a little shaky.
Current research shows that only 4% of American Christians have a Biblical worldview (pg. 25). Much of it, influenced (whether directly or indirectly) but pluralism's agenda. Even more shocking, only 19% of "born again" believers can answer the following eight questions correctly:
1. Do absolute moral truths exist?
2. Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
3. Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
4. Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule today?
5. Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be erased?
6. Is Satan real?
7. Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
8. Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
Only 19% of Christians can answer these questions correctly. If that is not a call for a return to Scripture then I don't know what is.
The answer to each and every question on that list is YES.
In Kansas a little bit ago, Pastor Joe Wright was asked to lead prayer before the House of Representatives and this is his prayer:
“Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and we have inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism, and worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery, and neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice, and shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem, and abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition, and polluted the airwaves with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas and have been ordained by You to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Amen and amen.
In order to grow that disheartening 19%, we must know our Bibles, the answers to those eight questions and many others, and be able to give a defense for the truth that is within up (1 Peter 3:15). So without further ado, let's do this:
1. Do absolute moral truths exist? Exodus 20, Romans 1:20
It is a fair statement that almost every person agrees with the 10 Commandments. They may disagree on the extent to which these commandments must be obeyed (like murder and abortion). If you showed the ten commandments to a group of unbelievers, they would agree that these most of these laws relating to a moral code are fair.
Man was created for a need for God to only be filled by God. Man is aware of this need right from the beginning and until he (or she) finds true freedom in Christ, the void will be filled with anything and everything other than Jesus. The existence of God is proven just by walking outside and marveling how the sun does not burn us up right as we step outside, how the wind does not blow us away, how we can breathe without telling ourselves to take a breath. The evidence of Jesus is all around us. We don't have an excuse.
2. Is absolute truth defined by the Bible? 2 Timothy 3:16
The Bible provides guidelines for our lives throughout it's pages. Right and wrong is clearly defined everywhere throughout Scripture, like the Ten Commandments.
Absolute truth: It is wrong to commit murder, steal, and lie. These are widely accepted absolute truths and there isn't much debate on whether it's right or wrong to steal, commit murder, or lie. There are "grey areas" that have been brought up (like abortion or lying to protect someone's feelings) but the Bible provides the black and white answer: these things are wrong and should not be done.
This is going to step on some toes but here we go. Absolute truth: homosexuality and other sexual sins (like adultery, pornography, and fornication) are sins and are absolutely wrong. The Bible does not paint these issues grey, like the world would like you to believe. They are black and white.
3. Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life? 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, John 8, Isaiah 53:9, John 10:36,
Not only do we have several different sources, including the Gospels, documenting Jesus's sinless and perfect life, we have the words of Jesus Himself throughout the Gospels. We also have Scripture where the life, death, burial, and resurrection was promised hundreds of years before it even came to pass.
I could spend the rest of the day answering this question with an emphatic, "YES," and pointing you to other Scriptures but we have five other questions to get to.
If you are new to the faith and seeking more answers to this question, I encourage you to read the book of John entirely. Many of your questions about Jesus will be answered there.
4. Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and does He still rule it today? Romans 1:20, Genesis 1, Jonah
As Christians, we believe in an involved God. God, who created the earth, the universe, you and me, and gave us knowledge and everything we have, and is involved in our lives from start to finish and in the tiny details of our life.
I can't think of a better story that illustrates every part of that question than the story of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet (oo, ooo) but he never really got it (sad but true). And if you watch it you can spot it (a doodlely-doo)! He did not get the point!
I could keep going but I won't. You're welcome to everyone who will now have that song in their heads. The video is below for those of you who have never heard the song. Be blessed!
But seriously. Jonah was a prophet, called by God to go to Nineveh. Jonah didn't want to go there because the people were vile and depraved and slapped each other silly with fish (couldn't resist that one, y'all). In an attempt to outrun God, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish. On his way there, a terrible storm comes and it isn't looking good for the men on the ship. The men aboard believe that someone on the ship has angered their god and begin casting lots to see who they will throw overboard to appease the gods. Jonah is convicted and knows that the storm is because of his disobedience. He volunteers as tribute, is thrown overboard, and the storm immediately ceases. In the water, Jonah is swallowed by a very large fish and is in that fish's belly, alive and well, for three days and nights. The fish then spits up Jonah on land. Guess where he's at? Nineveh!
God is in absolute control- He's in charge of the wind and the waves, the fish in the sea, and guides us on the path we need to take.
The second part of this section is "...does He still rule today?" The answer is yes. Jonah happened a long time ago, before Jesus. But the best way for me to answer that question is to tell you a personal story: This past semester at Campbell was one of the best and hardest semesters I have ever had. There were a lot of issues going on in Spiritual Life and I had/have a lot of concerns. I scheduled a meeting to discuss my concerns. I had prepared a document with the concerns I wanted to talk about, emails I had received, and Scripture I wanted to keep in mind during the meeting and bring up if the Lord led me to. I was ready to go to the meeting and I took the papers, put them in the front pocket of my folder, put the folder in my book bag, and went to the meeting. I didn't stop anywhere, didn't talk to anyone. I went straight to the office. I get to the meeting and sit down, open my book bag, take out the folder, open to grab the papers, and to my horror, they are gone. Not even 10 minutes before, I put them in that specific place so I could get to them easily once I got to my meeting. I didn't open my book bag between my apartment and the office at all. I had to rely fully on the Holy Spirit to guide me through that conversation. I said a quick prayer for wisdom and good recall. The thing is, if I had those papers in my meeting, I would've been too focused on hitting every verse and every point and not following the Lord's leading. It gets crazier than that... I called my mom as I was walking to Taylor Hall where my class was. I got to my advisors office to ask her a question. I opened my book bag and got my pink folder to grad another piece of paper. Guess what was right where I had put them? Those papers.
God. Is. In. Control.
Here is the song before we continue on...
5. Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned. Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 6:23, Matthew 19:25-26, Romans 8:38-39, Revelation 22:17
I believe each and every one of these verses speak for themselves and need no clarification or comments from me. Jesus saves, y'all, and my life has never been the same.
6. Is Satan real? Genesis 3, Isaiah 4:12, Revelation 12:11, Ephesians 6:11, Matthew 4:1, 1 Peter 5:8-9
Absolutely. The Bible tells us that Satan is a fallen angel who's desire is to be like God and rule over the earth. The Lord has given him perceived power over the earth. Perceived because Satan's power is nothing compared to the matchless, infinite power and love of Jesus Christ. Satan's time is running short.
Speaking of Satan's power, he very dangerous. He has the ability to influence our decisions and our thoughts. His mission on earth is to do everything he can to keep us from falling in love with Jesus and following Jesus, thus rendering him ineffective. We must always be on guard for attacks of Satan. He does attack. You'll know it when you experience it.
7. Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?Matthew 28:16-20, Psalm 67, Romans 10:14-17
So many times, "YES." The verses listed are clear that we are COMMANDED by Jesus to share our faith with those around us. It is not a suggestion, there is no fine print that says, "This verse is only for the missionaries and pastors of the world." We are ALL commanded to follow Jesus and tell others about Him.
If you had found the cure to cancer and to save those you love with cancer and prevent those you love from getting cancer, what would you do? Surely, you wouldn't keep it to yourself! You'd share it with everyone you know! The same thing is true of us Christians. We have found the answer and have found hope and have found salvation for all eternity! We have joy and peace and love and HOPE because of Jesus! Yet, so many of us keep that from to ourselves and don't tell others. We keep the cure to cancer to ourselves.
The love of Jesus is so radical and so life-changing that should not only tell the ones we love but we should also tell perfect strangers and those we don't like or hurt us (Matthew 5:44). THAT is our Great Commission.
8. Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings? 2 Timothy 3:16, Revelation 22:18
You could spend the rest of your life studying Scripture and you would not find a single instance where Scripture contradicts itself or cancels itself out. ALL Scripture is God-breathed and the inspired words of God. We have already discussed how Jesus is perfect and lived a sinless, perfect life. If Jesus is perfect, His words and the book that contains His words are also perfect.
These questions are just a few that are foundational (ha, get it, foundational) to our faith and it is so important to be clear on these few issues. Without a solid Biblical foundation, we are like shifting sand and can easily be deceived by seemingly good ideologies like moral pluralism.
Happy Monday, dears! I hope this finds you well and continuing to seek Jesus always!
Many of you have moved back in to your dorms or are gearing up to move back in for the upcoming year. For my freshmen out there, welcome! I can totally understand every single feeling you are having right now: excitement, anxiousness, worry, and even homesick. Welcome to college life, the freedom of living away from home, and the trials and difficult decisions coming in the months ahead. I pray some of our discussions this summer has better equipped you for those decisions and those hard times. To my sophomores all the way through grad students, welcome back! Are you ready? All those things you said you wouldn't do, couldn't do last year? Turn those into goals and stick to them even if that means telling your roommate so they'll keep you accountable. Now go and make this year the best one yet!
This week, we'll be talking about something that is amazing and beautiful and should be celebrated but ultimately leaves people feeling awkward or uncomfortable: testimonies.
There are two questions that will leave any small group or congregation in complete and utter silence: Does someone want to open/close us in prayer? Does someone want to share their testimony/what they've been learning?
Crickets for a solid two minutes until someone talks just to break the silence.
Crickets every time.
Why is this topic even important? Why are we even discussing it?
In college, you will come across people from all walks of life and backgrounds. You'll have lunch with them, sit beside them in classes, work on projects or study together. There will be people who don't love Jesus all around you. What a better mission field!! If you love and follow Jesus, His love and His light will be evident in your life to those around you, especially those who don't believe. You will get asked questions about you and your faith. Allow me to repeat that. You WILL get asked questions about you and your faith.
So, what are you going to tell them? What has Jesus personally done in your life that would make them want to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus?
I get it. It's tough. Usually, I get two responses to that question. Either there's so much you want to tell them, how could you possibly narrow it down? OR Your mind has drawn a blank. Usually after a few moments of staring off into space and a lot of "ums" later, people find something (or pick one thing) to talk about.
Campus ministries. Usually, the first night is a get-to-know-you night and more than likely the conversation will turn to, "Does someone want to share their testimony?" or "Let's go around in a circle and share our testimonies." Sweat, panic, and feelings of inadequacy and unpreparedness wash over you (and me most of them time). You aren't even hearing what other people are saying because you're so focused on trying to figure out what in the world you're going to say. As you hear amazing stories about how Jesus redeemed a lot of people from really horrible situations, you start to feel embarrassed by your "grew up in church, got saved at a young age, and have been sold out ever since."
Those of you in that last boat, please let me encourage you and maybe give you some ground to start building on. Your story is beautiful. It is not any less powerful than other stories because there wasn't an ah-ha moment. You story isn't centered on one moment but your journey with Christ. You know more know about Him than you did when you first got saved. What have you learned? You maybe have had to make some tough decisions regarding your faith. What were they? Maybe you've faced bullying or been left out because of your faith. How did you grow through that? How did you see God moving in those situations? What are you learning about God now?
When preachers and teachers are giving a "how-to" on sharing your testimony, they give the three point outline:
1. Your life before Christ.
2. How you got saved- what happened, how you felt, etc.
3. Your life now.
I agree that this is a solid basis for sharing your testimony. I will say, however, you will have to use discretion as to whether or not the person you are sharing your testimony with is going to be responsive to you saying you were saved at 5 years old. I would suggest sharing your journey with them and some of the difficult roads you have had to walk since them and share what you are learning now.
So, in an effort to avoid any anxiety or "winging it" or any temptation to just make something up, take a few moments to write your testimony down following the outline. Then, take a few minutes to write about what God is teaching you now. God might even show you something new about Him or yourself as you work.
I'd love to hear your story! You can share it with me in the comments or on social media using #hsfoundations! I can't wait to get to know a little more about you!