Monday, October 4, 2010

SB Has A New Home

The Skeptical Believer has a new home!

You can now reach this website by going directly to www.skbeliever.com. The old blogspot address will still work, as it will automatically direct you here, but take just a second to update your bookmarks/favorites if you've got it in there. That way if I ever take it off Blogspot you won't lose it.

While you're here, leave me a comment! I love all the comments I receive; oftentimes you guys add stuff to my posts that make them even better!

--Jeremy
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
likewise Falsehood aptly defended loses not its falsity.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is This Thing On? pt. 2

I love the phrasing in the New King James version of the story of the homebuilders--it’s epic and vivid and dramatic:

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24-29

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is This Thing On? pt. 1

So uhh, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your friendly neighborhood Skeppy B. hasn’t been posting lately. Without going into too many boring details, let’s just say that life entered quite a long ‘storm season’ soon after Easter. There’s been all kinds of stress going on in every area of life, leaving me with precious little spiritual energy or willpower to devote to the blog.

I’ve always loved Jesus’ teaching of the wise and foolish builders. You know the story—two guys are each getting ready to build their new house. The first guy builds his house on bedrock; the other guy builds his house on sand. I always imagined that 2nd guy being really excited about the awesome beachfront property he got for a steal.

Anyway, as soon as the men get their houses built, the mother of all storms hits. And I’m sure most of you have had your attention called to this fact:

The storm fell upon both men.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Amazing Vanishing Skeptical Believer

Hi gang!

Sorry I have been AWOL from the blog for awhile. We’ve had a bunch of real-world stuff come in all at once and take over most of my energies over the last few weeks. All good stuff though! My sister got married (and I had to sort of plan a last-minute, PG-rated bachelor party for her husband!), and I’ve been studying intensely for a very important job interview. Well the 2nd, in-person, interview was today and it went very well so hopefully I’ll hear back from them soon! That also means I should have more brain-cycles to devote to the blog now…which is good ‘cuz I’ve got a full list of topics to write about and explore!

Here’s my spiritual lesson of the day (so I can say that this post was at least about something!): you’ve all heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. This applies to our prayer life as well. We often spend so much time talking to God that we hardly ever spend any time listening to Him! Now of course it’s good to talk to God—He wants to hear from you—but it’s vital to take the time, slow down, and just be quiet and listen during prayer as well.

This can be very hard, believe me I know first-hand. But I have made a conscious effort to spend time in prayer listening, and I’ll tell you from my own experience, it is extraordinarily powerful. It has totally revolutionized my prayer-life and experience of God, and made me so much more fully aware of the reality of His presence and existence than ever before. You know, being the ‘Skeptical Believer’, it is often very hard for me to believe in things I can’t see or touch or physically talk to, but this very simple act of just turning off my mouth/thoughts and listening for the still, small voice has made me more of a believer than ever before.

Try it! It’s so easy to do, and yet so hard at the same time. But I feel pretty confident in guaranteeing that God will meet you there in the quietness.

--Jeremy
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
likewise Falsehood aptly defended loses not it's falsity.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Imponderable Friday

One day my wife and I were talking and she suddenly asked me something regarding one of the most well-known stories in the Bible: the Garden of Eden. A story you and I and everyone else have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Here’s the kicker:

In my 35 years of following Jesus I had never even thought of the question she asked me.

And so on that note I’m initiating a new semi-regular feature that I’m calling “Imponderable Friday” (see below for the actual question…).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunrise

When they were slamming on the door of the upper room that Sunday morning with their incredulous news, do you think the women had any idea the import of what they had just witnessed? On that morning a new era of history was born, and our Western calendar would eventually be broken into two periods: before Him and after Him.

Even if the Resurrection didn’t really happen, it’s still the most important event in history. The belief that a Jewish rabbi rose from the dead has changed the world more than anything else before or since.

But what does it mean for you and me today?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday

Abandoned.

Abandoned by your Master. Abandoned by your God.

Even in the face of betrayal by Yahweh himself, Jesus still finds a way to entrust the care of his soul to him. Still calls him Father. And then he’s gone. His body utterly broken and humiliated. Murdered. Executed.

Dead.

They did it. They won. The bad guys won. How can this be? You can’t make any sense of it. He was supposed to save us. Jesus somehow was able to keep believing in the Father even unto death, but you can’t. You’re confused. You don’t know which way is up. A rage inside you begins to boil up and you’re just about to start bitterly cursing God when a realization dawns on you, and  grips you with fear.

You could be next.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday

Imagine the scene: you’re one of Jesus twelve disciples. You came into Jerusalem earlier in the week for Passover, and you were expecting big things. This was when he was going to do something dramatic, and show the world that he really was the long-awaited Messiah. You didn’t know what he was going to do, but you knew it was going to be BIG.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don’t Myth-understand It

This’ll be my last Resurrection post before my special 3-post series starting Good Friday to close out the topic. I never intended to talk about it for this long, but I just got into a groove and really enjoyed it. I hope you have too!

I hope you’ll find time to visit my site on Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday. I’ve written some pieces that will help take you through each day of that weekend from a special perspective.

But back to the topic at hand. There are a lot of theories out there attempting to explain away the Resurrection of Jesus. I’ve discussed many of them in this series, and there are a few others out there as well. All of them have pretty much been vaporized due to lack of any credible support. And so the modern skeptic of the Resurrection today usually stakes her claim on a fairly new default theory.

It’s all a myth.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Apostle bin Laden

Can you imagine Osama bin Laden becoming a Christian? Being baptized, publicly becoming a follower of Jesus and then directing the same enormous amounts of energy towards spreading the Gospel as he once had towards killing Americans and Christians?

Me neither, but that is almost exactly what happened to a man named Saul of Tarsus.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Here’s something you may or may never have thought of before (unless you’ve read any of the great books on Christian apologetics out there). The fact that the traditional day of Christian worship is Sunday is another piece of evidence that the Resurrection really happened.

Huh?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cha-cha-cha-cha-Changes

One of them was brash and overeager. Two of them wanted the power to kill their enemies. None of them were brave men—when the moment of crisis came, every single one of them fled out of fear for his own safety, forsaking their master to suffer his fate alone.

Yet literally overnight these men changed into powerhouses of faith, love, and boldness. One of the most powerful evidences for the Resurrection is the sudden and dramatic change in the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

From cowering, defeated weaklings to heroically brave and confident messengers of God’s love to all humankind. One night Peter is shouting obscenities at a maid denying that he even knows Jesus and slinking away into the shadows. Forty days later he is standing before a huge crowd and, with no formal education whatsoever, synthesizes the Torah, Jewish history, and the life of Jesus on the spot to form a complete picture of why Jesus was the Messiah, and concludes with authority,

Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
Peter is so powerful and compelling that three thousand people become believers that day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Can the word ‘Christian’ be saved?

In my last post I talked about how God is into redeeming rather than destroying. Whether it’s a life or a situation, He is a master at weaving the black threads of life into a larger tapestry of grace and goodness.

But what about the word ‘Christian’—is that something we should work to reclaim? The word itself has become so overused and abused that it hardly holds any meaning whatsoever anymore. “Christian” is supposed to mean ‘follower of Christ,’ but it’s become like the word ‘love’ or ‘awesome’—used in so many different ways that it doesn’t really mean anything anymore. In fact, I think that when most non-Christians think of that word, they think of Bad Christians.

We’ve even turned it into an adjective. These days we have our Christian books, Christian movies, Christian music, Christian politics, Christian clothing, even Christian videogames. Do we mean to say that Pilgrim’s Progress believes in Jesus as its own personal Lord and Savior? Does The Blind Side need to be baptized?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Further thoughts from a ‘Needs Improvement’ Christian trying to be better.

The weekend of my wedding—it must have been at our rehearsal dinner—one of my family members on my father’s side made an odd suggestion. He said that I should drop our family name and take my wife’s surname instead.

This wasn’t because he disliked me and thought I wasn’t worthy of carrying the name. Rather, it was the opposite: he thought our family name wasn’t worth carrying on. I’m not sure how serious he was about this suggestion, but I know it wasn’t an idle joke. He was at least 50% serious when he made it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

REVIEW: When Bad Christians Happen To Good People, by Dave Burchett

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People: Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the DamageUPDATE 3/11/10: The author of the book, Dave Burchett, has informed me that he is currently updating the book for a 2nd Edition, due out in the summer of 2011. I would say to wait until it comes out to buy it, but it's so good you should buy it now anyway, and then buy it again when the next edition arrives!

They say that every writer (or aspiring writer!) has a book out there that they wish they had written. A book that captures the essence of their passions and is a near-perfect example of why they got into writing in the first place…the only difference being that this book explains concepts better, tells wittier and funnier stories, and is more skillfully written than anything this person could ever have come up with no matter how many drafts he went through.

I think I found my “book I wish I had written”. It’s called When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, by David Burchett.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You (Don’t) Look Like You’ve Seen A Ghost!

In the past, some critics of the Resurrection have sought to explain it away by saying that his followers merely hallucinated seeing a risen Jesus. Like most theories, this one too falls apart in shreds upon the slightest scrutiny.

The apostles made it very clear that when they said Jesus was risen, they meant bodily. They weren’t talking about seeing a ghost or the spirit of Jesus; they were adamant that the physical body of their Teacher was up and about. Now it’s true that this body apparently now had some supernatural abilities—such as the ability to appear in a room unannounced, and the ability to mask its identity until He desired to be recognized—but the apostles (and Jesus himself) took great pains to emphasize the fact that it was his actual body that was risen:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hey It's Dark In Here!

Ever heard of the swoon theory? It’s a good one. Well, not really—it’s more useful for comedic value than anything else, cuz the mental images it brings up are pretty hilarious.

Picture the scene: late in the day as Jesus is being crucified, Pilate orders his men to speed up the death of everyone on the crucifixion-docket that day. It’s the holiest weekend of the Jewish year coming up, and having a lot of Jews hanging on crosses outside their holiest city? That would be bad.

So the Romans begin breaking the legs of everyone left alive. When they get to Jesus, they notice he’s already dead. They stick a spear into his heart just to make sure. He gets taken off the cross, wrapped in burial cloths and spices and placed in the tomb.

Sunday morning rolls around seeing the disciples cowering together in a room in Jerusalem. Dejected and bewildered, they suddenly hear a feeble, rasping knock at the door. Somebody opens the door, and one of the most pathetic figures you’ve ever seen stumbles into the room and collapses at your feet. It’s Jesus! He’s not dead!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Dog Ate My Jesus

It’s the famous old excuse:

“Jimmy, where is your homework?”

“I’m sorry teacher, but the dog ate my homework.”

We’ve all heard it, but have you ever actually known someone to use that excuse? Have you ever used it yourself? Probably not.

Because it’s ridiculous!

In my last post, I stated that there was no alternative to an empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning. Well, that was sort of untrue. Sorry.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Test Photo





Bring Out Yer Dead!

In our first Resurrection post I ended by quoting Paul from 1 Corinthians 15. If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. Well luckily for that little 4th grade boy 25 years ago who wanted to be the best Peter he could be, this is not the case!

I passed on to you what was most important…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.

Note that Paul says the Resurrection is the ‘most important’ of all things. Indeed it’s true, for two reasons. First, if Christ was not raised, then our faith in Him is tragically and comically misplaced. But second, since Christ was raised, we can know with assurance that He was all He said He was. In the verses above Paul lists several facts about the Resurrection, and I’ll be addressing each of them throughout my posts. But let’s begin with the first item in his list: Jesus was buried, and was raised from the dead.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Nobody Here But Us Linens

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, the Sunday School classes at my church decided one year that for Easter we were going to make a little mini-movie about the resurrection. We had the whole thing set up on a large lawn outside the classrooms. Our classroom was to be the 'upper room' where the disciples were cowering after Jesus' execution, and across the lawn, placed against the bushes bordering the edge, we had set up a big foam rock acting as the stone sealing his tomb, complete with Roman soldiers standing guard.

I was cast as Peter, a Major Award for a young kid to be sure! I got to be THE disciple, the leader of them all, the guy who Jesus said would be the Rock of his church! Imagine my excitement and pride at being tapped for such an important role!

Now our teacher, who was directing the action, wanted to make sure we were as accurate as possible, and so she noted to me that John's account mentions specifically that John outran Peter and got there first as they raced to the tomb to see for themselves that it was indeed empty. "Make sure you let him get there ahead of you," she said.

"Very good," I thought, my future thespian's instincts already kicking in. Be true to the script--you got it. And so we started the performance--the women bringing Jesus' body to the tomb, the Roman soldiers standing guard, the angel appearing and scattering the soldiers, Jesus Himself emerging from the cast-aside stone--alive! triumphant! exiting stage left!

And then it was my turn. Here I was, acting out one of the most exciting scenes in history--being one of the first people ever to find a man raised from the dead! I played my part with aplomb, squeezing every ounce of incredulity and 'could it be true?' hope-against-hope that I could muster as I ran the short fifty feet from Upper Room to empty tomb.

There was only one problem:

I was much faster than the Apostle John.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is God Mad At Haiti?

I've mapped out the rest of my Resurrection series. There's another 5-7 posts on that coming, the next of which I am starting on tonight. This blog was started with the intention of being a companion and extension of my soon-to-be-released book, so I'm trying to strike a balance between writing too much before it comes out, and too rarely, potentially losing the subscribers I already have. Since it's been almost a week, though, since my last real post, I thought I'd share this article by David Burchett in the meantime.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Resurrection is Go!


Part 1: Resurrection is Go!
Part 2: Nobody here But Us Linens
Part 3: Bring Out Yer Dead!
Part 4: The Dog Ate My Jesus
Part 5: Hey It's Dark In Here!
Part 6: You (Don't) Look Like You've Seen A Ghost!
Part 7: Cha-cha-cha-cha-Changes
Part 8: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
Part 9: Apostle bin Laden
Part 10: Don't Myth-understand It
Part 11: Friday
Part 12: Saturday
Part 13: Sunrise

Welcome back! And thank you for coming back! Please feel free to post comments whether you agree with me or not; it motivates me.

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to decide what subject to write about first—there are just so many things I want to tackle. In the end, though, there really was only one thing I could start with. I almost went with a discussion of why anyone should trust anything the Bible says. After all, if the Bible is just a book of fairytales…well then what’s the point of being a Christian, eh?

But there is one topic that towers above all others as the most compelling to me, a topic that “bestrides the rest like a Colossus.” It really must be my starting point, for it is the true foundation of all faith in Jesus. And for me personally, it is the one thing that keeps me coming back to Jesus. It’s what I hang my faith on, it’s what I cling to throughout the many storms of doubt and discouragement that naturally come my way. It’s the reason I call myself the skeptical Believer and not just the Skeptic. Find out after the jump.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Help for Haiti

Please consider giving to a reputable charitable organization to help the Haitians if you haven't already. They really need the hands and feet of God at this tragic moment. I personally strongly recommend Samaritan's Purse as well as Doctors Without Borders.



Pray for those who have lost property, limbs, loved ones, and hope. Pray that they will be strengthened and comforted by the hand of God



Pray for the safety of relief workers, steady hands for the doctors, and orderly distributions of aid.



Pray for those who have lost their lives, that they will fall into the hands of the merciful God and know peace.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Fox and the Hound

This week could not have been a better example to me of why I can't watch the opinion-news (or 'entertainment-news' as I like to call them nowadays) channels.

It seems that anyone who has watched Fox News this week knows about as much about the tragedy in Haiti as someone who's been living under a rock. I've spent the week watching CNN deliver some truly amazing reporting on the scene in Haiti basically 24 hours a day since the quake hit. Out of curiosity I decided to flip over to the opinion channels (Fox and MSNBC) every now and then to see how they were covering it. What I found over at Fox truly astonished me. Over a period of 3 days I flipped over to Fox at least a dozen times and not once....not once...did I see any coverage whatsoever of what's going on! This earthquake was the biggest natural disaster in our hemisphere in an entire generation, and is likely to end up among the deadliest quakes in history, and yet I couldn't find one single solitary piece of reporting whatsoever at Fox News!  (I wasn't the only one who noticed this)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Welcome to the Skeptical Believer!

I started this blog in tandem with the upcoming publication of my first book, Who's Got God? Co-written with a colleague, it's an honest exploration of faith, truth, and finding common ground with those who see the universe differently.

The Skeptical Believer is all about taking an honest look at faith. Let's face it--all of us have questions and doubts about our worldview no matter what we believe in. My premise is that it's vital to meet these challenges, confront them head-on, and be able to admit that we don't have all the answers. And just as importantly, to never settle for pat, skin-deep cop-outs when it comes to the most profound and sometimes troubling issues of life.  Read more after the jump!