Unfold the Evangel before your eyes!

Are you lost?
Are you worn out?
Are you overwhelmed?
Are you rational?

Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!

domingo, abril 19, 2009

He did it again!

What are the odds that someone contributes to change your life not only once, or twice, but three times? Jim Choury did it again! He has just changed my life again.

He has been doing it through books. The first time it happened, he introduced me to Discipling Nations, by Darrow Miller. I had quit being a leftist, or Marxist, if you prefer. I had been a Christian for some years then, but still could not replace the old ideas of my youth in my mind. I mean, I knew they were wrong and vaguely incompatible with my new faith, but I did not know what to put in their place.

Reading Miller's book, I astonishingly found I had everything I needed to bury the Marxist in me. The Christian faith had everything I needed to fundament my worldview. That was liberating! It had not been the first step into that, though. Years before, I had learned with Jim that to be Christian one has to be rational, or a non-dogmatic person. That was quite a surprise for me, who always kept my faith and my rational beliefs in separate compartments.

I have been struggling, ever since, to purify my worldview and influence others with the truth. The problem is even if you possess the truth and you know it, it does not make it automatically easier to transmit it to others. People are too complex for that. And so are their ideas.

This is where Jim came in to change my life again. He sent me an e-mail and told me about his adventures in Denver, Colorado, talking to people about Jesus. I am not sure how exactly, the Lord touched him to send me the books that were helping him in that task. And he was generous enough to just do it!

I have just finished reading the first one, Tactics, by Gregory Koukl and I can tell it changed my life profoundly! The author taught me to be prepared to defend my beliefs like never before! Not only that, his arguments are so powerfully built, that it enables one to oppose virtually anybody's wrong ideas.

May the Lord keep blessing Jim and his wife Barb for all they have been doing to touch others lives like he did with me. I could never express my full gratitude, Jim.

sábado, abril 18, 2009

Basic Instinct, Showgirls & God?

By Rusty Wright

Self-described “Hollywood Animal” Joe Eszterhas, the blockbuster screenwriter famous for steamy eroticism and dark thrillers, says God found him and life’s never been better.

Say what?

Basic Instinct and God? Showgirls and Jesus?

Seems the master storyteller is telling a new story.

My life has turned inside-out,” he wrote in the Washington Post’s On Faith.

Films from Eszterhas’ screenplays have grossed over one billion box office dollars. Time Magazine once called him “America’s king of sex and violence.” Jack Valenti, the late head of the Motion Picture Association, once labeled him "desperately ill and in need of medical attention."

Once Hollywood’s highest-paid screenwriter, Eszterhas has said he’s “been a bad boy all my life. I was the king-daddy of sex and violence, the wild hair, the rogue elephant, the drinking, drugging, wild man, the cocaine cowboy.”

Deadly Addictions

Eszterhas’ Hungarian childhood included almost five years in refugee camps. Acutely poor, he ate pine-needle soup and suffered from rickets. Smoking and alcohol use begun in youth haunted his adulthood. He had surgery for throat cancer; medical experts warned that continued substance use would kill him. With a family he cherished, Joe was desperate to live. But he couldn’t relinquish his addictions.

Finally, feeling hopeless, sobbing alone on a curb, “I cried and begged God to help me,” Eszterhas writes. “I hadn't prayed since I was a boy. I had made fun of God and those who loved God in my writings. And now, through my sobs, I heard myself asking God to help me … and from the moment I asked, He did.”

I didn't at first understand why He did. I didn't deserve His help, I thought. I was unworthy. I ignore Him for forty years and then suddenly I ask Him to help me and He does? It took me some time to understand that God helped me because He loves me. Because even though we don't deserve God's love, God loves us – all of us.”

Eszterhas replaced his excesses with prayer and long walks. He’s written a book, Crossbearer, “as a thank-you to God. Not just for saving my life, but for saving me.”

The front of the book quotes this New Testament statement: “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Faith, peace, access, hope; sounds as if it could be Eszterhas’ new personal theme.

Will It Last?

Road to Damascus? Perhaps. Skeptics watch. Some feel he’s just swung from one emotional excess to another. But it has been seven years. His wife, Naomi, says the transformation has been gradual but real. It appears to be lasting. They’re living in Ohio, raising their sons and continuing to give thanks:

I am witness to and the beneficiary of God's love for all of us,” Joe writes. “I am witness, too, to the fact that His love is so strong that it was even able to open my rusty old closed heart.”

I will thank Him forever because He gave me new life and a heart which is truly able to love for the first time in my life. His love is mine.”

A hopeful postscript: Eszterhas says his throat surgeon has pronounced him “cured.” The man who removed about eighty percent of Joe’s larynx says the tissue has regenerated such that evidence of the cancer is gone. The surgeon called it “a miracle.”

Amazing medical development. Amazing life changes. Amazing grace.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

segunda-feira, abril 13, 2009


Schedule update

By Joel C. Rosenberg

(Washington, D.C., April 13, 2009) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres this weekend hinted of a possible coming strike against Iranian nuclear and military sites. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Peres said he hoped President Obama's call for dialogue with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be heeded, but warned that if such talks don't soften the Iranian president's approach, "we'll strike him." The comments come on the heels of Benjamin Netanyahu being sworn in as Israel's new Prime Minister and assembling a war cabinet to prepare for possible eventualities with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

As tensions between Radical Islam and Israel continue to grow, my Joshua Fund colleagues and I remain committed to educating Christians around the world to the threats facing the Jewish people and mobilizing believers to pray for Israel and stand with Israel, come what may. We are also deeply committed to blessing the poor and needy in Israel, blessing victims of war and terrorism, and stockpiling relief supplies ahead of any coming war. Today, I'm flying to Colorado Springs to have dinner with Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley. We will discuss these critical issues and then tape a radio broadcast on Tuesday to help educate millions of Christians to the importance of showing unconditional love and unwavering support to Israel, as well as strengthening the Church inside the Muslim world. I will let you know when the broadcast will be aired.

Over the next few months, my team and I will be traveling extensively to keep building this global movement of evangelical Christians committed to blessing Israel. I will be sharing the work of The Joshua Fund as well discussing the research I did for Inside The Revolution (currently in its fourth week on the New York Times best-seller list at #17).

Tomorrow, I will be at the Focus on the Family headquarters doing a late afternoon booksigning. Other upcoming public events include Edmonton, Canada; Branson, Missouri; Washington, D.C.; a possible trip to Israel; Syracuse, New York; and San Diego, California. This summer, I'll be speaking at several churches in Colorado and will post details on those events when we get a little closer. I hope you can join us at one of these events, and I'd be grateful for your prayers along the way. God bless you.

[For more details on upcoming events, please click below]

To read the rest of this report on Joel's weblog -- including detailed schedule updates -- please click here

To join 90,000 subscribers of Joel's email updates, please click here

To pre-order audio or video copies of the 2009 Epicenter Conference, please click here

domingo, abril 12, 2009

Conversation with a Statistician

James A. Choury of Haven Ministries

April of 2009

I recently read Richard Dawkins’ book “River Out of Eden”, (BasicBooks, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995). On pages 79 through 83 Dawkins uses a computer simulation experiment of the evolution of an eye (a vertebrate eye) published by two Swedish scientists to demonstrate how easy it was for evolution to produce over 40 different types of eyes within the 600 million years normally given for such a task. I had some real questions.

My undergraduate degree is in Mathematics and Physics and I did study Statistics as well. Dawkins states that it took the computer “only” 400,000 generations to produce the eye by random mutations, each of which brought about a small improvement. It seemed to me Dawkins was talking about independent, joint occurrences (like flipping a single coin four hundred thousand times and always getting heads). It seemed so preposterous that anyone would propose such a thing (400,000 continuous successful mutations in a row) or that anyone would accept such an idea that I thought I would consult an expert.

I made an appointment to talk to someone in the Statistics department at Colorado State University here in Fort Collins. We had a half hour conversation in which I got directly to the point. My question was: “Am I interpreting Dawkins correctly?” “Is he talking about independent joint occurrences and am I using the proper formulas to calculate the probability?” The Ph.D. in probability looked it over, got out his scratch pad, did some figuring and to my happy surprise said “yes”. Dawkins is talking about 400,000 tosses of the natural selection “coin” and coming up with 400,000 heads in a row*. Amazing! I mentioned to the statistician that the Swedish scientists who set up the computer simulation 1) began the simulation with an already existing photosensitive cell, 2) only allowed for favorable outcomes (albeit, small improvements) and 3) didn’t take into consideration that vision requires much more than just a functioning eye. Vision also depends on a very complicated (more complicated than the actual eye), well developed and properly functioning cerebral cortex (part of the brain). This very amiable and, I believe, competent man agreed with what I was saying and my time was up.

The back cover of Dawkins’ book has a quote from the A.L.A. Booklist that says the following about the “Science Masters” series of which Dawkins’ book is a member: “Aimed at busy, nonmathematical readers, this precise series evinces solid quality control and begins under highly favorable auspices.” I believe many “nonmathematical” readers have been and will be persuaded by Dawkin’s books. The math needed to see through Dawkins is not “rocket science” but few people take the time to understand probability. Of course, they are too busy and they are “nonmathematical”.

Many Christians are also quite nonmathematical and busy doing many things. Being prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15) may demand more from us than we have grown accustomed to do and to be.

*The probability of tossing a coin and getting a heads is ½ or 50%. The odds in Dawkins’ example were actually much smaller, around 1/200 or about 0.5%.

Haven Ministries, Box 460366, Aurora, CO jamesachoury@yahoo.com

quinta-feira, abril 09, 2009

Evidences Of Jesus Christ's Resurrection

Chuck Missler
from the April 07, 2009 eNews issue
http://www.khouse.org (visit our website for a FREE subscription)

"I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history ..."
E. M. Blaiklock - Professor of Classics, Auckland University

The Resurrection of Christ is the most powerful event in history. It has affected the last 2000 years of history and politics, from peasants to kings to nations. Christianity has spread across the entire world, into every country and into a vast number of ethnic groups and languages. Billions of people have experienced the life-giving, healing, forgiveness and freedom offered by God because Jesus Christ conquered death and rose again from the grave.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor 15:12-22 that without the resurrection of Christ, the Christian faith is useless. "And if Christ be not raised," Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

There are many skeptics who disregard the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as a fable. However, the evidence for Jesus' resurrection is extremely strong, even to the point of converting some who sought to disprove it:

The Empty Tomb: Though well-trained Roman soldiers guarded the tomb of Jesus Christ, it was empty 3 days after Jesus' death as Jesus had repeatedly foretold (Matt 12:40, Mark 8:31). The guards had fled (a death penalty offense). The massive stone had been rolled away, and the body was gone – and was never produced by the enemies of the Christians. The linen grave clothes in which the Jews bury their dead were still in the tomb, undisturbed. From the Jewish historian Josephus to a compilation of 5th-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu", even Jewish sources and traditions admit that the tomb was empty. The body was never found.

Living Witnesses: There were a multitude of witnesses who saw Jesus Christ alive after his death. The disciples, the travelers on the road to Emmaus and a number of women all spoke to Jesus alive. Thomas doubted until he was able to put his fingers into Jesus' wounds (John 20:26-27). He later spread the Gospel all the way to India. The apostle Paul tells of 500 people to whom Jesus appeared at one time, most of whom were still alive and available for questioning when Paul wrote his letter (1 Cor 15:6). When several people testify in a courtroom that they witnessed an event, and their accounts are found consistent with each other, their testimony is considered factual information. Jesus Christ was seen alive many times by hundreds of different people over the course of forty days after his death (John 20-21, Acts 1:3).

The Disciples: Christ's followers, who had been fearful and who had run away when Jesus was arrested, were completely changed after the Resurrection and became courageous witnesses. Peter, who had denied knowing Christ when recognized by a simple servant girl, became the powerfully bold leader of those who had seen Christ alive, speaking to the thousands gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot – Pentecost. A person may die for a lie if they do not know it is a lie. But people do not give their lives up and face severe persecution to spread a lie they themselves invented. The fact that the disciples willingly suffered beatings and persecution and death is strong evidence that they had actually witnessed the resurrection they refused to stop telling people about.

Saul of Tarsus: A devoutly religious Pharisee, who persecuted the Church and had Christ's followers thrown in prison, Paul had his life absolutely changed by his encounter with Christ. He became a devoted follower of Christ himself, spreading the Gospel throughout Turkey and Greece in the face of beatings and shipwrecks and imprisonment and, finally, execution.

"If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt." - F. F. Bruce, Manchester University

Skeptics' Arguments Against the Resurrection:

The Hallucination Theory claims that the witnesses who met the resurrected Jesus were all "seeing things" - they were hallucinating. However, this goes against common sense as well as psychological principles. Five hundred people do not all hallucinate the same thing. Jesus appeared to many people at many different times. Also, the body was never produced.

The Swoon Theory argues that Jesus did not die – that he simply fainted from loss of blood and exhaustion. However, this also goes against common sense. The Romans were professionals who severely whipped Jesus, hung him on a cross, and then stabbed him in the side with a spear to make sure he was dead. He was in the grave for three days, wrapped head to foot in a burial cloth, without food or water or medical treatment. When he appeared to his disciples he was completely whole and healthy and his appearance inspired awe and worship that lasted throughout the rest of the disciples' lives.

The Disciples Faked the Resurrection: Discouraged, fearful fishermen and former tax collectors, whose teacher had been viciously murdered, were in little position to take on a detachment of trained Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. They would have had to create a fantastic plan in order to fight off or bribe the professional soldiers, raid the tomb, unbind the grave clothes from Christ's body, take the body away, and hide it where nobody would ever find it. The Roman soldiers faced death if they failed in their guard duty, and the disciples had little money for bribing anybody. Many people would have had to be involved in the conspiracy, and all those involved would not only have known the truth, but would know that they were risking meeting the same fate as their recently crucified leader. And what purpose could it possibly serve, if Jesus were dead? They would have had nothing to gain. Their leader was gone and they would have only faced persecution and death for their invented resurrection story.

And again, the disciples' attitudes completely changed after the Resurrection and especially after Pentecost. They became bold and courageous in spreading their message, fearless of beatings or imprisonment. They never sought to fight Rome or to establish any position or kingdom or authority for themselves. They had nothing to gain, physically speaking. They simply went about the known world, telling their story in spite of persecution and suffering, poverty and ridicule. Their message quickly spread across the Middle East and Europe and even into Asia without any military conquest or political support involved - and in spite of strong opposition. Only belief and hope based in the reality of their experiences would have produced such dedication in the lives of Christ's followers.

Perhaps the greatest evidence today of Christ's resurrection is the work that he is still doing in the lives of every day people. In the name of Jesus, people are still being healed emotionally and physically and spiritually by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Sinners are being freed from the burden and pain and shame of sin – sometimes immediately, sometimes after long years of steady work by the Holy Spirit in their lives. Hearts are being mended and lives are being turned around. The best evidence today is the faithful follower of Christ who can say, "He saved me, and I am not the person I used to be" just as the apostles testified 2000 years ago.

[For more in-depth coverage of the above arguments, as well as many further evidences and related information, please see the links below.]

Related Links:

Evidence for the Resurrection - Leadership U
Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Leadership U
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? - F.F. Bruce
Evidence and Answers On Many Issues Related to Christianity - CARM - Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
His Unfamiliar Face - Koinonia House
The Jesus Tomb - Koinonia House
Reflections of His Image: Pride vs. Humility - Koinonia House