Category Archives: Apologetics

“The Shack” (My Review)

To Begin With

To begin with, let’s spell out what we know is true about God and His relationship to mankind. I mean, before I start talking about my impressions of a work of fiction – a movie – let’s talk reality, theologically speaking.

First, God is best understood as existing in trinity:

TRINITY (from Lat. trinitas).† An expression for the revelation of the one God (Deut. 6:4) in three “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the trinity is a theoretical model intended to systematize various expressions in the Bible. The basis in Scripture on which it was built can be summarized as follows: there is only one God; each of the three divine persons is recognized to be God; God’s selfrevelation recognizes distinctions among these three persons in that there are interactions among them; and these distinctions are not just a matter of revelation (as received by humans) but are also eternally immanent in the Godhead.

Source: Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 1019.

Second, God has spoken and speaks to His children through the revealed and completed work of Scripture (the Bible). Therefore, what contradicts or stands in opposition to the Word of God is contrary to truth, therefore in error.

Third, God also speaks in a general sense through the works and workings of His creation (Romans 1:19-20).

Does God still speak to his children through dreams? I believe it is possible, for God can do anything He wishes, and He’s the same today as He was yesterday. However, does He speak through dreams and visions to His children in the same way which is recorded in the Bible? That’s debatable.

Fourth, God works in ways we can’t always understand…

For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV

Therefore, if He wanted to, there’re’so nothing to stop the Lord from giving a man a dream of being with the Godhead in a shack for a weekend, eating Divinely-prepared breakfasts and dinners, while not compromising what He has already revealed in the completed canon of Scripture. Has He ever done such a thing? I don’t know. But He could.

My Review

Look, I am not a professional film critic. I don’t know much about industry lingo. The best I can do is simply tell you what I think about what I saw.

Despite what many of my Christian brothers and sisters have said, I thought The Shack was a really good movie. I have never read the book on which the movie was based, so I don’t know how it compares. But what I do know is that what I watched did not contradict the overall truths about God as mentioned above. That’s the first big point.

What we have in The Shack is a story about a man who lost his youngest daughter to a terrible sex crime. The aftermath of the loss brought about bitterness, guilt, and questions of God’s character. In short, the lead character felt qualified to judge God.

Instead of being angry or disappointed with the lead character, Mack, we find out that God loved him and wanted to restore joy and wonder to his faith. Even more, God wanted Mack to trust Him. In The Shack we see a God who wants to restore relationships with His children, those who are His, but have strayed as a result of their pain.

There are certain elements in this movie that have been criticized unfairly. One of those is in the way God the Father (“Papa”) is portrayed for a good portion of the film as an older black woman. This alone has cause some to flip their lid. However, should one watch the movie he would find out that there was a practical, personal reason for God appearing as woman – Mack had an abusive father as a child, and it was always an older black lady who comforted him with godly wisdom and fresh-baked apple pie. When Mack asked Papa why He was a woman, she (God) replied: “After what you’ve been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.” Later in the movie when Mack needed the leadership of a man, God assumed the role of a masculine male.

Essentially, no doctrine was compromised by the depictions of God the Father. The film told a story which reflected the same truths as depicted in Luke 13:34 and 15:20…God can be both a mother hen and a merciful father.

Believe it or not, Jesus was portrayed by a mid-30’s, Israeli-born Jewish man. The casting was perfect.

The Holy Spirit was portrayed by a young Asian woman. I didn’t get that one, but it really didn’t matter; if your going to put a physical appearance to the Spirit, an Asian girl is just as logical as an older black woman.

Honestly, before the movie started, I had in front of me a note pad ready to record every blatant heresy I was expecting to see. Yet, when the movie was over the pad was still bank. Frankly, there was only one line in the movie that caused me to pause it and have a quick discussion with my family…(NOTE: Discussion is the important key to watching any movie with one’s family.)…Papa responded to a question Mack asked about punishing people for their sins by saying: “I don’t punish…sin is its own punishment.” I understood the sentiment, but a quick word search on BlueLetterBible.com through some in some wrenches.

The important thing to remember is that the movie storyline clearly indicates Mack never actually, physically, went to the old shack. What we are left with is the question of whether or not God might choose to miraculously step in through a vision or dream and individually speak to a man in order to change his heart. But even that is not the main point of The Shack.

The main point of this movie is to show through admitted fiction that what we think we know about God might be wrong. Even though The Shack does do a good job of reinforcing a biblical description of the Godhead, especially relating to the question of pain and evil in the world, there is an element of danger: If we don’t point people to the Bible to read what God has written about Himself, only cause people to question their perceptions, then we are only left with more questions and more uncertainty.

In conclusion, there are many quality moments in this movie worthy of open discussion. As a Christian, I was certainly blessed by what I watched. My only concern is that, other than showing the main character and his family in the end worshipping together in a Christian church, there are too many loose ends: an unbeliever who watches is not given any distinct instructions on how to experience a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, only an affirmation that it’s OK to trust God, even in the bad times, because He is always good.

I would love to hear your feedback, so share your thoughts in a comment. 

 

 

19 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Faith, General Observations, God, Movie review

Real-World Apologetics (Jack Knows “Jack”)

This is probably the longest post I’ve ever published, but I didn’t write it. However, since my last post caused such a stir with one young atheist, I thought this might be worth re-posting. My thanks to Jack Seiler. 

And, for the record, I don’t hate atheists, nor do I think they are “less than” me. I simply care for their souls, else I wouldn’t be sharing my beliefs from my heart. Even the beloved atheist Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame) had to ask the question (paraphrased), “What kind of uncaring person would have what he thought would be the key to eternal life and deliverance from hell, yet keep it to himself?”

I care, or I’d just shut up.

Apologetics

The body of this post was copied (with permission from both parties) from Facebook. On the day I read it I was so impressed that I asked if I could just re-post the whole thing on this blog.

Jack Seiler is a pastor who obviously has a heart for his people and a love for truth. But instead of remaining in some “ivory tower,” Pastor Seiler is all about getting down where the rubber meets the road. He uses Facebook to directly engage others with the Truth of God’s Word, especially in the realm of apologetics (defending the faith).

What made this particular Facebook entry so impressive to me was the length to which Jack went to respond to Amy North, a former congregant at the church he pastors. But more than being well-written, it was a wonderful example of how a Christian should respond to genuine questions – with love, humility, and patience.

The following Facebook conversation is a direct copy of the original. The only thing I did was adjust the format a little.

[Jack Seiler]:
A point of interest to me is the contradiction within most atheists and even agnostics. They directly and/or indirectly claim to have a corner on reason, yet seem to be irrational and highly emotional when confronted with reason contrary to their supposed conclusions. Then, in turn, they are unwilling to consider and forcefully ignore the point.

Man cannot survive as man without an ultimate anchor and reference point for what he calls “reason.” Dismissal of dialog does not justify any position of this great a significance, and when eternal gain or loss is the proposed outcome of reaching or not reaching a reasonable conclusion, refusal to consider the possibility of a loving God in Christ Jesus based on emotional disappointments is not only intellectual suicide, its just plain dishonest.

Amy Lang North
As an atheist it seems to me the practicing religious clans do exactly the same which u ponder upon. According to – well, you – man cannot survive as man without an “ultimate anchor” — really? Says- you? I have considered the reason behind my decision as well as sat in the pews of many a church throughout my life so far — listening — and thinking – and have drawn a conclusion to abandon the cult of “religion by human stories” and “I know it all” sermons that dictate that there is only one way – I respectfully ask how do you with you human capabilities know? Or how do u decide u have the authority to tell everyone else – “this is THE only way?” Maybe it is the religious that stubbornly judge the atheists as shallow and ignorant who think they have all the right ways/answers.

Amy Lang North
As an atheist it seems to me the practicing religious clans do exactly the same which u ponder upon.

Pastor Jack:
**No doubt. Willful ignorance abounds in every corner! That is another subject I have taken aim at and am happy to address. Christian apologetics has been around for a very long time but it seems to me that the “rank and file” Christianity of today is largely shallow and unstudied. However, this willful ignorance is not confined to Christians. But for now, here we are . . . and I am glad you have taken interest in making some very thoughtful points.

Amy:
According to – well, you – man cannot survive as man without an “ultimate anchor” — really? Says- you?

Pastor Jack:
**Well put and a good question.

Actually no . . . this is not simply only according to me. But please allow me first to clarify and complete what was said. “Man cannot survive without an ultimate anchor and reference point for what he calls ‘reason.’” This is not just an isolated view from little old me. This is a philosophical argument that has been around for a very long time. And it is playing out in the world around us in an undeniable fashion.

All reasoning is based upon underlying presuppositions. Have you ever listened to two contrary positions debated? Both individuals believe, within their reasoning, that what they believe is right and rationally sound. Both individuals had a starting point from which their reasoning process began. Yet because these presuppositions were different they came to contrary positions. For most, it is not because their process of reasoning was right or wrong but because their presupposition was right or wrong. Certainly, some have defective reasoning, but that is a different story from what I am addressing here. Starting from an absolute brings unity, meaning and purpose even in diversity. It gives man a “rallying point” if you will. How we arrive at an absolute I will discuss latter on.

In the world around us we have seen the process of the dismissal of the moral absolutes (which is a very broad statement, I know, but I will define later as well) of God as the presupposition in reason. As this has happened we have seen before our eyes the destruction of the United States and chaos in the world . . . . which is escalating at break-neck speed. Confining my focus on America, the divisions are multiplying and have become diametrically opposed and irreconcilable and increasingly hostile one to another. Each position, such as pro-life/pro-choice; liberal/conservative; Democrat/Republican; Sodomite/Straight; etc. etc. etc… has a line of reasoning which each one separately regards as completely sound, yet the conclusions are totally opposed. I’m not here to argue for or against any of these positions right now (though I certainly have my positions firmly ensconced). My objective here is to point out that the presuppositions in each line of reasoning determines the conclusions.

So, in answer to your first objection I state once again: Man cannot survive without an ultimate reference point and anchor for the process of reason. He will, ultimately, destroy himself. And I am not an isolated voice!

Amy:
I have considered the reason behind my decision as well as sat in the pews of many a church throughout my life so far — listening — and thinking – and have drawn a conclusion to abandon the cult of “religion by human stories” and “I know it all” sermons that dictate that there is only one way

Pastor Jack:
***Being the Pastor of one of those churches you attended for a short time I am deeply ashamed of myself as a Pastor and teacher and sorry that we left you in such a questioning position and added to your lack of satisfactory answers. I must take responsibility for missing the mark in ministering to your intellectual needs. This is not an excuse, but it is a very difficult task to find a balance in reaching those who are simple and would neither be interested nor able to follow what I am talking about right now, and those who have the need to be satisfied with further depth. I don’t want to sound insulting or discourteous to anyone, though at times I am taken this way, but some people enjoy swimming deeper than others. The beauty of the Gospel is that it can and does satisfy the simplest mind of a child and meet the intellectual needs of the philosophical giant.

It appears from what you have said here that one of your presuppositions are becoming apparent. The phrases, “Religion by human stories” and “I know it all” sermons” seems to be coming from an underlying position that man in some way discovered or invented God and/or that Christianity is just another man made mythology. I certainly understand the thought, because I also took that position at one time. I am wondering if you are more of an agnostic than an atheist. Are you saying that God does not exist? or that God is not knowable?

If you are saying He does not exist, the same burden of proof rests on you that you would ask of the theist. If you are saying that he is not knowable, I believe you are correct from our present human perspective. Unless God reveals Himself and His will we are left with a God Who is unreachable and unknowable. From my perspective, knowing that there IS a God is a logical conclusion based on the evidence of existence itself. Knowing Who He is and what His mind is, however, is another matter altogether.

As I said . . . unless He reveals Himself and His mind! This is something else that needs to be addressed here . . . and I plan on it.

Amy:
– I respectfully ask how do you with you human capabilities know? Or how do u decide u have the authority to tell everyone else – “this is THE only way?”

Pastor Jack:
A very intelligent agnostic (I think he would categorize himself agnostic at any rate) person very close to me once said that he believed it was arrogant to think that we have figured out God and what He wants. It appears that you are coming from the same direction. If his statement were true concerning the basis of Christianity I would whole heartedly agree. But the reasoning is based on an erroneous premise. Here is where I want to pull together the thoughts I have proposed. I hope you don’t mind the length of what I am going to attempt to discuss.

First, simply stated, Christianity is not man reaching to God to discover Him or figure Him out. It is a revelation of God TO man! It is not man in his pride and strength dissecting God and testing Him in a tube on his philosophical bench. Man CANNOT know God unless God reveals Himself to man. It is God condescending to man to seek and to save that which was lost, revealing Himself incarnate in the Person of Jesus Christ . . . Crucified and risen from the dead. I intend on expanding this thought but wanted to state it here for the sake of keeping the direction of the given knowledge of God in focus. The direction of the knowledge is from Him to us, not from us to Him.

As for there only being one way…..
The teaching of exclusivity is not confined to Christianity. Without going into long drawn out details, even the atheist claims exclusivity. So I suppose the same question could be leveled in your direction . . respectfully. Even those who claim there are no absolutes make a self-defeating statement in their claim. In reality, every line of reasoning is making the claim of an absolute whether they like it or not.

First let me deal as briefly as I can with the claims of Christianity and why, outside of the proposed authority of the Bible (which I also shall discuss), they are intellectually sound and exclusive of all other positions.

There are 4 questions that need to be dealt with in the minds of every human being.

1. Origin (where do I come from? . . and everything else for that matter!)
2. Meaning (Why am I here?)
3. Morality (How am I supposed to live?)
4. Destiny (Where do I go,, if anywhere, from here?)

These are questions every human being who has ever lived and thought has had to cope with. These four questions need to be answered in two ways in order to meet universally satisfactory standards:

1. Every question must correspond according to truth; either by empirical form of measurement and/or the logical reasoning process. (It must make sense)
2. When these four questions are answered, the answers must cohere and not be incoherent. (They must work together and not be contradictory)

Correspondence and Coherence
I guarantee you that ONLY in the Judeo/Christian world view will you find these four questions answered with corresponding truthfulness and with the coherence of a world view. And these answers have stood the test of time an adversity being as relevant to man today as they were thousands of years ago.

All of the world views in existence can very basically be grouped into three categories: (All positions can be categorized under one of these headings)

1. Only the universe exists (Naturalism and Atheism)
2. Only God exists (Eastern religions and spiritualism-many forms but they all boil down to this)
3. Both God and the Universe exists (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)

It is relatively easy to subject each of these categories to the above tests. Number three is the only position which passes these tests. Then we examine the three positions contained within the third category with the same criteria and discover that Christianity is a continuation and fulfillment of Judaism, and the third, Islam, destroys itself in its own contradictory nature of the god it proclaims and the self-evident nature of the intrinsic value of human life.
I realize there is much that can be detailed by way of shared questions and dialog here, but basically stated in examination of one’s presuppositional standards this is how one comes to a factual position to start with.

What is happening in the system we are now seeing overtake and destroy what we have come to know and enjoy in life is the replacement of rationally sound suppositions with emotionally based motivations. Facts are no longer considered . . . just how one feels about it. Truth is no longer a matter of thesis/antithesis (if one is true the opposite is false), but a supposed matter of synthesis. But even the proposition of “synthesis” is disintegrating into this post modernistic cesspool. Truth has become a matter of opinion and force. Life has no intrinsic value because the only thing that sets human life apart from insect life is the posit of man being created in the image and likeness of God. The emotions we have as human beings are reduced to meaningless electro-chemical functions accidentally falling into place in a mad dance of atoms. To say to your wife or child “I love you” has no more value than saying “my back itches” or “I have a headache.” Both are nothing more than hormonal secretions and the functions of a machine. Man cannot and does not live this way. He assumes that love, ethics and some form of morality have value but without something to GIVE it value it is an empty romanticism with nothing to refer to for a coherent reason.

I love my children and grandchildren and I know you love your children. Do you not understand that it means nothing if there is no God? I know why I love them and I know what its value is. Do you?

On to the nature of revealed truth from God.
First the nature of revelation is not just propositional, it is embodied . . . it is incarnated. But I would like to deal with the propositional side because that is really the point at hand. It is a very important issue because on this hangs just about everything the Christian believes, and it is shameful to know that so many Christians don’t possess the understanding to articulate it.

There is something about the enscripturation process that is very important. Because truth is primarily a property of propositions. When you look at the Bible, it is a very distinctive book. Unlike Buddha’s teachings, which are little sermons of Buddha. Or the Koran, which is the utterance of one man and the compilation of it posthumously. This takes 66 books from about the mid 1400’s BC all the way to the first century; 29 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament, and there is a single thread going through all of it. The collusion factor would have been impossibly incredible to bring this about. For example, going back to the prophecy of Isaiah, writing 700 years before Christ, to talk about the virgin birth, Micah speaking of the city where He would be born, Zechariah talking about the way the Messiah would ultimately be crucified, take these writers most of whom were not contemporaries, talking all of the converging lines of evidence, the hundreds of prophecies, and bring them into the Person of Jesus Christ . . . it would have taken an extraordinary stroke of genius to retroactively bring all of that to the convergence of one single Person! If falsification were possible you would be able to do so rather quickly. That has been attempted by many over millennia but to no avail. Even the supposed “new” documentaries and arguments in the latest books are nothing more than old rehashes of debunked attempts from the past.

(Just a quick side note: it is very interesting to note that so many who have set out in an attempt to disprove Scripture have actually become believers, and there have never been any death threats to those who seek to malign the Bible. Yet the thrashing of the Koran by authors like Salman Rushdie, which rather conclusively discredit Islam and its not-so-holy book, end with proclamations of vicious death to both him and his family. Can you imagine if a trash book and movie like “The Da Vinci Code” come out concerning Islam? The Islamic zombies would go into meltdown mode faster than they are now.)

After 2000 years of Christ’s incarnation, and 3500 years since the enscripturation process began, no book has been more studied, no book has been more scrutinized. No book has changed the lives of countless millions. No writing of any atheist has changed a drunkard into a saint. No book written promoting atheism has lifted a broken man from the gutter and set his feet on solid ground. NO atheism has given hope to the hopeless or purpose to the destitute.
I will bring you 1000 men changed and made right by the Christ of the Bible if you can bring me 1 saved from a life of broken sin by atheism.

Yes . . . I am deeply sorry that these truths were not presented clearly or to your satisfaction in any of the churches you attended . . . including my own. I take that seriously to heart. But rejecting God, specifically Jesus Christ, because of these lacks of answers really didn’t change anything in your life. Pains were still there . . . life was still happy one minute sad the next . . . answers were still absent . . . purpose was still transient . . . death is still imminent . . . and ultimately all that you hold dear has no intrinsic value or meaning.

I know that there are many more question that cannot be answered in one discussion, and it is not possible to address every objection that would arise while reading this. However, I am more than willing to continue exchange in dialog. I feel that I have failed you in my responsibilities as a minister of the Word of God, and if you . . . then how many others? If nothing else I am being spurred to be more concise and address the needs of the soul with more awareness.

Amy:
Maybe it is the religious that stubbornly judge the atheists as shallow and ignorant who think they have all the right ways/answers.

Pastor Jack:
I will repeat what I said in the beginning . . . no doubt that unjust judgment abounds and is in no short supply in every corner. May God help me not to do what he condemns. It is only because God has revealed what is right that anyone can know it and be definite about it. God has the right answers . . . and the real arrogance is in rejecting what He reveals.

Amy:
And ps I do enjoy reading what u write bc ur writing do give me things to think about.

Pastor Jack:
You have always been nothing less than respectful to me Amy. I appreciate that . . . not everyone is! Lol. I hope that what I have laid out here is understandable and also gives you food for thought. It is my wish that you would truly come to know Christ as Lord and Savior and find the relationship with Him that He so deeply desires to have with you.

PS
There is so much more I wanted to say concerning the inspiration and recording of Scripture, but this has already taken me many hours to write and I need to rest.
Thanks

Conclusion

So what do you think? No pulpit banging, as many would expect. No all-cap YELLING and calling Amy all kinds of derogatory names. Just a calm, organized explanation and defense of one’s beliefs.

My advice? Try to be a little more like Jack.

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Filed under Apologetics

“It was Jesus”: A Testimony of Faith and Praise

I am a blogger, a semi-professional writer, but my wife is not: she’s an accountant. Valerie deals with numbers all the time, not words.

However, when Valerie does write, she has a flair all her own, one that I could never duplicate…one you will enjoy. Therefore, when she recounted to me the conversation she had yesterday with her gynecologist, I knew you needed to hear it…

In her words.

So, what you are about to read are the words of my wife, Valerie. I’m turning over the keyboard to her.


I feel that to do the Lord the justice that He deserves, I need to go back about 12 years.  I had a complete hysterectomy, including my ovaries, when sweet Haley was maybe 4 years old.  Please understand this was not as a form of birth control; no, I would have had more children if I could have.  (I really do not know if Anthony and I had discussed more – maybe it was just me, but either way, you know who would have won that battle!)  I was very lucky to have the last two children that I had and am very thankful.

During the three-day hospital stay after having the hysterectomy, my sweet husband was by my side – sure wish I had pictures! Yes, he was sleeping on the chair/bed for the visitor who is crazy enough to stay.  The funny part is that I was hotter than I’d ever been and he was colder than he had ever been.  You see, on day two, it just happened to be the coldest day of winter that we had that year.  I looked over as I sat on the bed with only a hospital gown and panties on, to him with a toboggan, a winter coat zipped up tight, and several blankets.  I had the air conditioning on in the room and still was hot!  I guess I could have opened the windows, but I didn’t think about it.

Now, we lived in KY at the time.  After having two bad experiences at the local hospital (Jenny Stuart, but nick-named “Killer Stuart”) our family drove to the next closest hospital which was about 40 minutes away.  I was released just after lunch on day three.  I was still just burning up!  I had the window down and my head sticking out going down the Pennyrile Parkway in something-teen-degree weather.  Anthony?  He still had that same coat, toboggan, and now gloves on.  Somehow I figure this was a faster drive than usual.

I had a patch on my arm with hormones that I was supposed to wear five days, remove two days, and then apply a new patch for five days.  After the second day of the second patch, I ripped it off and Jesus and I had a little chat that went something like this:

Me: Jesus, you know that I did not desire this hysterectomy.

Me: Are you there?  I said I did not desire this hysterectomy!  I wanted more children…. (by now the tears are coming).

Jesus:  (He did not audibly speak to me, but the Word of God sure came flying at me.)  Be happy in whatever state you are in.  Be content with what you have.  I am here.  I will help you.  I love you.

Me:  Ok, I will be content and happy, but I really need for you to handle the hormone part because really just can not take the patches.

Jesus: (I waited….)

Well, things were much better.

In 2007 or 2008, I had my yearly exam at the gynecologist.  While waiting in the exam room, I was reading the poster on the back of the door about the pros and cons of estrogen.  Looked to me like the cons were medical complications and problems, and all the pros were for pleasure and nothing really medical at all.  After the exam, my doctor always leaves and has me dress and then the nurse will come and get me to take me to his office where he sits across the desk and talks to me about his findings and makes suggestions, etc.  While I was waiting for the nurse, I snapped a picture of the chart on the back of the door.

Once in his office, he began the spill that I had heard for year after year about how important estrogen is and how much better I would feel.  I brought up the poster on the door and he said, “The cons rarely ever happen.  In fact, I have never had a patient experience any of those problems.  So that year he convinced me.  I left and went to Target to get my estrogen prescription.

Two days later, Anthony and I were at the mall shopping (not my favorite thing.) and he said, “I wish you felt better.  We hardly ever get to do this.”  I told him if I could just vomit I though I would be better.  The next day, I went to work and I felt really bad.  I never even thought about the estrogen as the cause.  I was so really achy.  Could this be the flu?  I worked later than usual trying to get things finished up so when I was driving home I hit major traffic on I-24.  I typically drove the van, but for some reason that day was in the Honda Accord, which happened to be a 5-speed.  I remember my right arm hurting so badly that I was clutching with my left foot, holding the steering wheel straight with my right knee, and shifting with my left hand.  Traffic was c r a w l i n g!

Anthony NEVER meets me at the door when I come home unless I phone ahead and ask him to come out and help carry stuff in. That day, he did.  He opened the door, looked at me, and then said, “You look awful!”  It did not even hurt my feelings; my reply was only that I needed to read about female heart attacks.  I had all but two of the symptoms.  Needless to say, we headed straight to the ER.  My initial EKG was just a little off, nothing to worry too much about.  Other tests were showing things getting worse and a second EKG was not good.  I kept telling them, “It’s the ESTROGEN!” and they kept ignoring me.  I was admitted for further testing.  I finally got the floor doctor to hear me.  He didn’t believe that to be the cause but did tell me to call my GYN and have him come remove the estrogen.  I did it myself.  That was early morning.  As the day progressed, my test  results were getting better and better.  I fully expected to be going home.

But I have a daddy who has a lengthy heart history that was not impressing the doctor to make rash decisions.  My dad told my brother to make sure the doctor knows the family wants him to do a heart cath because my dad’s heart attacks never showed up on the early tests, but always ended up with stents after having a heart cath.  Well, the doctor agreed.  So here I go the next day into a very scary procedure.  I left with a clean bill of health, heart-wise, but with a diagnosis of “chemically induced heart attack. Listed in my chart was, “Allergic reaction to estrogen.”

Now, let’s finally fast forward to yesterday (4/19/2017). My yearly exam with the gynecologist.  Even though I have told him that estrogen had thrown me into a “chemically induced heart attack,” he tends to think it was co-incidence.  Each year we have that same talk, and each year I remind him.  This year was different.

Yesterday, I was waiting in his office admiring his children and cool artwork when he came in and sat behind the desk.

“Valerie,” he said, “I do not have you down as taking any kind of replacement hormones, and if my memory serves me correctly, you aren’t.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “I didn’t think so, but looking at your cells under a microscope, I am very surprised  – at your age and having no ovaries – to find that your cells look very estrogenized.”

He was puzzled to be sure!  I said in a very every-day, casual voice, “Oh, that is Jesus!” He looked up at me with a questioning expression.  I continued, “Years ago I told Jesus that I did not want to have a hysterectomy and that I had wanted more children and since I had to have one anyway, I asked him to take care of the hormones …and he has!”  He took it in and shook his head, looking back down to the chart, and then asked a more personal, intimate question that I really do not want to share on here… again, he was surprised.  I quickly added, “that is Jesus, too.”

You just never know where the opportunity to share Jesus will come up.  Even though I did not get the chance to tell him all about the Good News, I know a seed was planted.  I wonder how he slept last night?

– Valerie J. Baker

So, did you like what Valerie wrote? Let her know in the comment section.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith, God, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

Bumper Stickers

The following was first published in 2010…7 years ago! I sure do miss that car. That was a “preacher’s ride” if ever I saw one. Now I drive a white mini-van. What has the world come to?

“The Ride”

My wife will not let me put a bumper sticker of any kind on her car.  Even if she was driving a rusty Chevy Vega which desperately needed the qualities of something with adhesive properties to keep her bumper stuck to her car…”no bumper stickers!”

Not so with my steed.  Staples and zip ties already hold parts of my car together; sticky things are no biggie, you see.  Really, what I mean to say is that “The Ride” is not too good to advertise TheRecoveringLegalist.com, even though my wife thinks her car is too special.  HA!

Bumper stickers are something akin to free advertisement…

…They promote whatever you want other people to know about you and what you think, or for that matter, how well your kids think.  Plastered to the back of a rolling billboard, they catch the eye of total strangers who have the random chance to find themselves behind you and I in traffic, or who catch a glimpse in a parking garage.  Some people, I have come to realize, are advertising more than they know, for some bumper stickers betray a hidden (at least to the owner of the car) stupidity.

There are so many bumper stickers that scream “MORON!

Here is one that I saw.  What a profound question.  Why do we kill people that kill people?  Could it be that we don’t want them to kill people again?  Could it be that they deserve to die for taking an innocent child’s life?  Could it be that there are those out there on parole who would love to shoot your stupid…..(calm yourself, Anthony)…..well, they would love to steal your car and leave you beside the road in a ditch, then drive away with your false advertisement on THEIR bumper.

The one that I would have to say gets me the most, maybe because I see it the most, is COEXIST.  I just love all the little symbols that are used to make up the happy little plea for love and harmony.  Too bad what it tells me is that the owner of the car is a blooming idiot, at the very least, or somehow an ostrich has learned how to drive with his head in the sand. 

The message behind the little sticker is really, “Hey you Christians!  Can you quit being so narrow-minded and hateful?  Don’t you know that we all just want to get along, but you keep screwing it up?”  All religions are the same, you know, or that’s the idea.  We are all worshiping the same god, just by a different name, or so they say.  All paths lead to heaven, it’s just that some choose to take a shortcut by blowing themselves to Allah in the name of Jihad…is that so wrong?

Tell that to the “C”

I like the following verse. Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy…”  As Christians, we should be speaking out about the goodness and mercy of our God, not trying to seek favor with false gods by “COEXISTing” in perfect joy and mutual admiration. 

People in this country have the right to free speech and to freedom of religion, but if you haven’t noticed, we are in a real religious war.  The “C” doesn’t like the “T” or any other symbol in that bumper sticker.  If you’re going to put something on your bumper, make, it something that points people down the narrow road, not the wide one that leads to destruction. 

Show your intelligence and advertise your faith…just don’t be tacky and weird about it…or then we get back into the looking-like-a-moron thing that my wife so desperately wants to avoid.

Now here’s an idea for the “perfect” bumper sticker!

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Filed under America, Apologetics, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Uncategorized, World View

My Facebook Live Vlog Discussing My Thoughts on the Final Scene of “I’m Not Ashamed”

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Filed under Apologetics, Christian Living, Christianity, Faith, General Observations, Life/Death, Love of God, Movie review

I’m Not Feeling It, TobyMac

The other day I was listening to the radio and a song by TobyMac (Toby McKeehan) started playing. Since I had nothing better to do as I was driving, I listened.

I was disappointed.

Folks, if you will remember what I wrote in a previous post, I’m not anti-contemporary music…I’m just anti-bad theology. New songs, even those with styles I can’t stand, are fine with me as long as they convey biblical theology, edify the Christian, and bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ. Really, that leaves the Christian music artist with a lot of room to  create.

But it seems to me that Toby Mac really missed the mark with this song. In “Feel It” (released in 2015) TobyMac seems to want to appeal to the modern, post-Christian, millennial culture by basing the whole argument for God’s existence on his personal, subjective feelings.

The chorus of “Feel It” reads:

“Feel It”

[Chorus:]

Oh I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know (oh oh oh ohah)
You take our brokeness
And make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know
That’s how I know (You can’t take that from me)

I’m sorry, brother, but your argument is weak, to say the least.

Contrast the above with the first verse and chorus from another song, “Never Alone” by Barlow Girl:

“Never Alone”

I waited for you today
But you didn’t show
No no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You’d be there
And though I haven’t seen You
Are You still there?[Chorus:]
I cried out with no reply
And I can’t feel You by my side
So I’ll hold tight to what I know
You’re here and I”m never alone

Do you see the difference? The first finds comfort and reassurance in “feeling,” but the second finds faith secure in “knowing.” There is a difference.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:13

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Notice that last verse? What did Jesus say? Did He say, “You shall have a feeling, and the feeling shall set you free”? Don’t think so.

Feelings fluctuate. Feelings lie.

In the tagline of “Feel It” TobyMac repeats,

Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you?

I’ll tell you (and I bet you already know), Toby, you need the Truth, God’s promises, His Word that never changes…

’cause feelings sure do.

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, music

How Are You Interpreting It?

“Evidence is only as good as one’s presuppositions. A man who believes there is a Watchmaker could be convinced with the simplest timepiece found by the sea. But one who refuses to believe in a Watchmaker could trip over a million Rolex’s lying scattered on the sand, yet deny the golden evidence being defaced beneath his feat.” – A. Baker

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