New Direction For This Blog. Sort Of.

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For a while now I have thinking how I could make this blog useful. I originally started it just to start it. A kind of “everyone else is doing it” objective. But as of late I have been thinking about ways to aid in my learning and think this blog affords me a way to do that.

(For the record, I no longer consider myself to be an apologist. A Christian yes, an apologist no. Perhaps I still engage in the activities of an apologist from time to time, but I think it is secondary to my other endeavors, namely sharing my faith and sharing my love of philosophy.)

So what I will be doing is writing a journal. I need a place to extend my mind, where I can gather my thoughts as I work them out. The goal is to sharpen my own outlook on reality while trying to make sense of my Christian beliefs and experiences.

I think this can be of value to people getting into philosophy as I will be talking about what I am reading and learning. There will be resources, links, must read books in particular fields, and all kinds of goodies. I also hope to meet people who share the same interests and who would care to shed their knowledge of the topics being discussed.

I welcome any and all comments, but keep it respectful, or keep it to yourself.

Phil Lost

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T’was The Night Before Christmas: Apologists Rendition

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The Night Before Christmas

(The Apologists Rendition)

Twas the night before Christmas and all through God’s House
no refutation was uttered, not even, to Lawerence Krauss
There were premises unfinished in studies with care
In hopes that an answer, soon would be there

Apologists were nestled, all snug in their beds
while these unfinished premises, danced in their heads
Now I couldn’t sleep, from an inductive proof
an arguments reasoning, that seemed too obtuse

That’s when they came, absurd and obnoxious
Dennet, Sam Harris and of course Richard Dawkins
“Fitting this night, for you silly theist,
You know they’re no different? Santa and Jesus!”

“No evidence, no arguments, no proof you posess,
nothing that shows us that your God Exists!”
“That is our case and we’re sticking to it
you stupid Christian, you must be deluded!”

What could I say? It was no easy task
To come up with an answer, and to think of it fast
When suddenly I heard a trump in the distance
they came in the thousands, with arguments, for God’s existence

That’s when Dawkins and company began to beg
“Oh no, please help us, God’s sent Doctor Craig!”
and behind him stood an army of logic
that even secular academia had to acknowledge

“Now Hugh Ross! Plantinga! Swinburne! Lee Strobel!
NT Wright! Paul Copan! John Lennox and Mike Licona!
We’ll show them with gentleness, where probability sides
and how we love God with heart; soul, body, and mind!”

The enemy let loose with their scientific theory,
and attempted to use philosophical and theological queries
But people soon realized, their arguments were weak
Their logic was fallacious, and now it was the meek’s turn to speak

They started with the fallacys of the opposite side
Of course by now, Dick Dawkins, ran home to cry
Arguments on top arguments, the probability mounted
Soon Harris, then Dennet, were nowhere to be counted

So the battle was won, but the war far from over
“To win souls, not arguments, that’s our aim” Craig said in his closer
I was in awe, at the multitudes that now believed
For the Spirit was with these men, on this Christmas Eve

And before he left Bill Craig shook my hand
and said, “remember this night was about the Man”
and before he left he quoted Descartes and said
“From nothing comes nothing” now go back to bed

Merry Christmas to all my apologist brethren out there, may we remember why we spend countless hours alone reading countless books. We do it for Jesus, and for the lost souls whom we were commanded to love. Your brother, Phil Lost.

 

 

My Testimony Part Deux

I am writing this from the bottom of my heart or the deep of my soul. I mention both for I am unsure which of the two stretches further. I ask that you read this with an open heart and an open mind. This actually happened to me, and as such is very personal to me. I have received ridicule from both non-Christians and Christians just for telling my story. I even once had a pastor laugh when I tried to explain it to him. People don’t seem to understand that I don’t want God to exist, but how can I deny that He does. See, I don’t “believe” God exists, I know God exists and I know that Christ was exactly who He claimed to be. Read my story, put yourself in my shoes, and tell me that if this happened to you that you wouldn’t come to the exact same conclusion as I.

I grew up in a town where if you weren’t tough, you were toast, and I was the type of kid who cried when my grandmother killed a mouse. As such I was bullied horrendously and although an extrovert in nature, I became introverted and fearful of people. To top things off my father wasn’t a loving man and when things got hard or stressful in life he would often take it out on me. He was an atheist and Ma was a sort of nominal believer who took myself and my little sister to church a few times when we were children because we were always acting up, but that stopped as soon as it started.

Both Ma and Da had been burned by the church too after Da got Ma pregnant when she was 16, and in my town – which was very religious (in the legalistic sense) at the time – it was common policy to send young mothers out of wedlock away to have the baby and then put the child up for adoption so the mother could keep her respect in the community. Needless to say, Ma and Da didn’t hold the church in high regard.

Being a bullied kid means you don’t have many friends, and my home was no place occupied by love. I felt very alone, confused as to why I had to go through this and dreaded mornings, because I knew I would have to wake up. I wanted so desperately to never have to wake up again. I always believed in God for as long as I can remember, but my knowledge of Jesus was confined to the handful of Sunday school classes as I mentioned earlier when I was 8 and the Christmas season, back when it was still politically correct to talk about Christ in the public square. It wasn’t Christ I was thinking of when I would think of God, but definitely some God that was monotheistic in nature.

One night when I was thirteen my loneliness had been weighing heavily on me, and I began to cry out to God. I was angry with Him and wanted Him to tell me what I had done to deserve the things that were happening to me in my life. Of course I didn’t receive a response and fell asleep like most nights, dreading the next day, knowing it wouldn’t be over. But that night something happened, something that I didn’t know would, but ultimately changed my life forever. Eventually.

I started to dream, and in this dream I was in the school-yard, surrounded by all the other kids at my school. A popular kid, who I looked up too, came out of the crowd and grabbed me by the scruff of my coat with two hands and lifted me off of my feet with his arms completely extended above his head. As he did so I raised my hands into the air (I remember thinking to myself, “this kid is strong for someone so young”).

When he held me up, I looked into the sky, and there was a man  who covered it’s entire expanse. He was enormous and had His hands perched on the clouds; just below His waist up was visible. On his head was a giant crown, tall, like the pope’s hat, but gold and intricate. He had a white beard and white hair and wore a dark red robe, with a golden sash around the mid-section. On his sleeves were intricate golden patterns around the cuffs and in his hand (which was on the cloud) was a golden sceptre, with jewels around the top. When I looked into his eyes I saw an intensity that I had never seen, it was as if they were looking through me. He didn’t look happy either, but angry. Seeing this “Man in the Clouds” scared me into complete paralysis (I couldn’t move) with my hands still in the air. Never before had I been scared like this and never again. I suddenly began to float up to him, His eyes locked with mine and just before I came to eye-level he pointed that scepter at me and I awoke from my dream.

When I woke up I was still completely paralysed, just like in my dream. I laid in my bed unable to open my eyes or call out for help. I lay there for what felt like ever (I figure around 20 minutes, to a half an hour), until finally the feeling had gradually returned in my body and I could open my eyes. To my surprise, my arms were raised in the air just like my dream .

I thought to myself that this was a crazy nightmare and fell back to sleep. (Later reflection on this experience before I became a Christian made me believe that perhaps I had seen God, but Jesus never even entered my mind. This was not the long ,brown haired, white robed, Anglicized version of Christ I thought him to be. So I figured it wasn’t and I was fine with that.)
The next day in shop class I noticed what I thought to be a splinter in the palm of my hand. When I got home I tried to dig it out with a needle, but was having a hard time. I kept digging and digging and started to think maybe it was a root to a planters wart that was just starting to form or something. With much effort I managed to get most of it out, but that’s when I noticed that on my other palm I had the exact same thing. Something clicked in my head to leave them alone and so I did. (Over the years they have changed into something like a brown stain, but they are still visible – especially the one I didn’t dig at. Also, yes I am fairly heavily tattooed; no they are not tattoos). In the next day or two I came to notice that I also had grey hair in the front of my head, although I found it more funny than odd. That one was easy to explain as my uncle had gone grey at sixteen (genetics, huh)

So fast-forward a few years and I am seventeen and my world falls apart. Ma, who had been crippled for a couple years had due to her back, had become addicted to internet chat. One day I came home to find her dresser empty and suitcases gone, she had left and with her took half of our savings and racked up all the credit cards and a 900$ phone bill. Da wasn’t making a whole lot of money and now has to pay for everything on his own. Ma had a champaign taste on a beer salary and already had the family way in over our heads in debt. I can remember sitting with him in a Subway as he is telling me he wanted to kill himself. I didn’t know what to do and to my everlasting shame I left him and went to go live with my grandmother. That summer I would be on my own.

I wound up moving out west and my troubles continued. I was heavy on the booze and drugs to try and dull the pain. I had a huge chip on my shoulder and wanted to fight everyone – suddenly the bullied was a bully, except this bully wouldn’t back down if challenged (the small kid everyone picked on growing up had become a 6 foot 2 inch 230 melting pot). I had enough of people and their nonsense and I wasn’t taking it any more. This was mostly fuelled by liquor as once you took that away, I was still angry, but not so apt to display it and more apt to listen to my concious.

When I was eighteen things started to get strange. I remember Da calling me one day and talking about how he was going to church, and I remember laughing at him. When he would try and talk to me about Jesus I would tell him to shut up. All of a sudden my atheist Dad was a Christian. He had nowhere to turn and this was where he went, I thought he was a gullible idiot. Weak and I hated him for it.

Now if you remember back a few paragraphs ago I had told you that I had an older sister who was put up for adoption that I had never known? Well, my father had first told me about her when I was  eighteen and I really wanted to know who she was as I had little family. At nineteen Dad calls me to tell me that she had found him and she wanted to talk to me! But when she called me, five minutes into the conversation she starts talking about Jesus! I told her I wanted to know her but I did not want to know her Jesus. I wanted nothing to do with religion and especially Christianity. Keep it to yourself I told her, or forget about me.
        
        Well years of partying had taken their toll on me and I could no longer control my drug habit. I was snorting cocaine and PCP everyday and got mixed up with the wrong crowd. I fell into a deep spiral and it was then at 21 I found myself back home, trying to get clean.

        Da had met a new lady at the church and they were getting married. She was really nice, but her constant talk about Jesus drove me crazy. I wasn’t a good mix there either, coming home bloodied up after fighting at the bars (I was off the coke and PCP but not the booze) but they never lectured me, just cleaned up my wounds and sent me on my way (even driving me to the hospital for a serious infection from breaking a guys teeth off in my knuckle).

        They thing that piqued my interest though was that she was always talking about how Jesus was going to come back, and the Book of Revelations. I had never heard of this before, I thought she might be a few cards short of a deck, but I liked a good end of the world/ apocalyptic style story and figured I would read it to see what she was talking about. 
        
        I got through the first few chapters and it made no sense whatsoever. But then I came to the chapter where John describes Jesus and falls at his feet. To my complete shock John described a man with white hair, a crown made of ten crowns, with a blood red robe, golden sash and eyes of fire. It described exactly who I had seen in my dream and like a giant light-bulb going off in my head, it all came together; the marks on my palms; all these people talking to me about Jesus; my first experience I had (https://phillost.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/my-testimony-part-1/); it all made sense. I accepted Christ alone in my room.

        Eventually I read the book of Esther and how when someone approaches the king without permission if the king points his scepter at them, they would be allowed to live, if not they would be put to death. I came to realized that Jesus was telling me that I would live when I read the scripture that described Him as John had seen Him in the Book of Revelations. That when I read, as HE was described, that I would be given my life. 

So why did He show Himself to me? Well I’m not special, so that’s not it. But I did seek Him, earnestly and like a child. I later found out that this was something that the Bible claims will happen. See I don’t have all the answers, I just have two. God exists, and Jesus is who He claimed to be.

You can sit there with your nose in the air if you want, you can call me a liar (although something I wouldn’t suggest you do if I am standing in front of you) even though we all lie. You can throw logic  and scientific theory at me till the cows come home (even though I think you loose on that end also), it doesn’t matter, I have an experience that trumps all that. You can talk all the smack you want about Christians and make fun of our Christ, but what good does it do you? You’re no more than a bully, a weakling, not to be applauded but to be looked down on. If God is what we claim He is, which is a disembodied mind and there are no good arguments to believe that other minds exit, then how else do we come to know of His existence? Experience, the be all end all.

So I issue this challenge, seek Him, earnestly, like a child seeks a parent. Let out your anger, your hurt, but also let Him know that if He is real then the only thing He is the cause of is your existence and to that we owe Him everything. Ask Him to show Himself, to open your heart and mind to His existence. Be vigilant and patient, He does this on His time, not yours (It took 7 years for Him to execute His plan to completion on me). What do you have to loose? Are you afraid of what you might find? Don’t be. You are finding purpose.

If you wish to insist that I am making this whole thing up as if to add you as another notch on my celestial bedpost then that’s OK, on that day of judgement (whenever that is) when we see each other, you can tell me then that I lied to. We are all on our owns paths, and as much as I wish for you to find the truth, I am not going to loose a whole lot of sleep over anyone who rejects even the possibility. In the end, all I can do is share my story, the rest is up to you.

My Testimony Part 1

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 In my life I have had two experiences that completely changed my outlook on everything. Both of these experiences were dreams, and both (I am sure) would leave anyone who experienced them to either (in regards to the first experience) entertain the idea of destiny, or the notion of an Omniscient Being, and (in regards to the second experience) accept the reality of Jesus Christ as Lord of all. It is the first of these two experiences that I wish to talk about in this post, and I will warn you that there is talk of drug use and sex, so if you have any issues with either of these topics being mentioned, please refrain from reading.

Everyone dreams, OK, almost everyone dreams (I’ve heard people claim to never dream) and when I say dream, I mean the experience during sleep, not lofty ambitions. A lot of people I talk to tell me that upon waking up they often forget what they had dreamt, usually only managing to retain sparse images or, in the case of  nightmares, the most frightening ones. I’m no different. Sometimes I retain what I ‘saw’, but for the most part it is gone only a few hours after having started my day.

There are different types of dreams too, like nightmares or reoccurring dreams; it is the reoccurring type I wish to talk about now. Maybe you have had a reoccurring dream in your life, maybe not, but I am sure you know someone who has. My first experience came in the form of a reoccurring dream, and as it would turn out, my dream would go from being something that I experienced as I slept, into something that I would experience in reality. You didn’t read that wrong, yes, my dream came true and sometimes I wish it hadn’t.

The dream itself was very strange, appearing not to make any sense, more of a series of events lacking any kind of chronological sequence. It seemed to be skipping from one place and event to another and the reality of it all was very distorted, which I found terrifying during the dream itself and after I woke up. If you are having trouble understanding what I am talking about, allow me to relate it to something you may have experienced yourself. Have you ever watched a DVD that was scratched and it jumps from one scene to the next? So the movie, of course, would make no sense, just as my dream made no sense to me. No plot, no getting to know the characters, just a bunch of scenes that appeared to have no chronological order, just aimlessly skipping around, but it always ended the same way, with me looking down at a face, and then I would wake up. Each time I had the dream it would seem a little clearer, but I still couldn’t make any sense of it and I had no idea who the person was that I was always looking down at. This happened over and over again, up until I was eighteen.

See, I come from a broken home and had moved out when I was still in high school. By the time I was eighteen, I had left the small town I grew up in and was living thousands of miles away in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I was hurting and didn’t know how to cope with the painful memories, both recent and past, so I did what most do; I tried to drink and drug them away. One night I was drinking with a group of friends when a guy I knew asked me if I wanted to drop some acid. I had never done it before and even though I was apprehensive at first, I was really down for anything. He had four ‘hits’, he took two and I took two. Bad idea.

I remember when the acid really started to kick in, we were in a field and it was pitch black. I got the impression I was invincible, like some sort of super hero, and I turned my shirt into a cape and started running around this field in the middle of the night. I was yelling out, “I feel great! I feel so alive!” and then my run turned into a full sprint which, then, turned into a dead stop. I had ran, full tilt, into a picnic-table which stopped me in my tracks. It didn’t hurt much when it happened (I was too high for pain) but it was kind of allegorical of how my night would go.

That 30-40 minutes of euphoria I felt at first, however, changed dramatically all in one moment. I can remember looking at this steam coming off of this hotel where I was living, like it always had, but when you are on acid everything seems to grab your attention that much more. As I was looking at this steam I noticed it had stopped, I started looking around and I thought the cars on the road had stopped moving too (looking back now I think it was just parked cars). I started panicking, and started thinking the worst thing anyone could ever think when they are on a heavy dose of hallucinogenics: I thought that I was dead. I kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe I died tripping out on acid” and “How could I go out like this.” I was distraught, having a horrible trip and to make matters worse, I was getting higher by the second.

I can remember doing things like trying to climb shadows, thinking they were stairs and running around the woods completely tweaking. I tried to keep the guy who I took the acid with around me because I thought he was the only person left, like he was some kind of a guardian helping to usher me around in the next life (yup, acid folks, stay away from it). Things started to get better once we got around some people, I was still tripping hard, but I wavered from the “I think I died” to the “maybe I’m not dead” entering myself into an unsure phase. This however is where things got even more messed up.

When I finally became as high as I could get (I think), reality it seemed was skipping in time (sounds familiar huh?). I was blacking out, yet still conscious, moving around and interacting with various groups of people as I was blacked out and each time I would emerge from one of these “blackouts” I would be confused how I got there and was becoming more scared. I had lost my ‘usher of the afterlife’ (the guy who I took the acid with) and was on my own at this point. I also went from thinking that I might be dead, to thinking I was dreaming. I was living the dream I had so many times before, but I didn’t realize it (yet). What I have come to conclude, is that the periods of time that I was missing in reality were the periods of time that I dreamt about and the periods of time that were missing in my dream, were the periods of time that I was cognisant for in reality.

It is a dangerous thing to think you are dreaming when in reality you are not, and by the grace of God I survived this night. I can remember walking down the hallway of my apartment building having an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ kind of experience. The hallway appeared to be getting smaller, and larger and the doors were all different shapes and sizes. I can remember sitting on my bed and my roommate was rolling joints and I started seeing ashes on my mattress. I tried to wipe them off but they kept reappearing. I also started a fight with one of my room mate’s friends because he was smiling at me. I remember lots of things from the night and I could go on and on but what I remember the most and what was most important about and the reason for me writing this blog entry, was how my foray in hallucinogenics came to an end.

I was thousands of miles from where I had grown up, but there was a girl from my home town there who I had once taken to the movies. After our date she didn’t want more anything to do with me and rightly so I guess; I wasn’t popular and she was a beautiful girl who could do a lot better than me. But in this town where we were both living at now, I had been here for a while and the tables had turned; I was the popular one now. I can remember being in her apartment hanging out and the next thing I knew we were outside my apartment door. I will never forget as we stood there and I said to her, “I know what you want and you know what I want.” She smiled and playfully asked, “what’s that?” as she walked through my apartment door. Now understand this, I was NOT good at talking to girls, I’m still not, nor would I ever of had the guts to say this to her, but I was as high as a kite and at this point in the night thought I was dreaming! This is the only reason why I said what I said and why I was so bold. I think it is also important to note that I was also a virgin.

Now the whole night had been getting crazier and crazier. Between the blackouts, thinking I had died, then not being sure if I was dead, which lead to me thinking I was dreaming even though I still wasn’t sure if I was dead or not; I was a mess. After her and I went into my apartment I can remember it for the most part (I will spare you the details) but to make a long story, I wasn’t a virgin any more.

It was during intercourse however that this tale reaches it’s climax (get your mind out of the gutter). As I lay on top of her I looked down and suddenly it all came together; I realized that I was looking at the same face I had seen all those years previous and suddenly, like a lightbulb going off ,everything just clicked at once. I realized that what I had experienced that night was the dream I had experienced so many times before and that this was the face that could never put a name to. I started to think (probably out loud) “This is my dream! This is it!” I realized, this time I wasn’t dreaming, and with this I suddenly found myself snapped back into reality and out of the effects of the drugs I was on (well for a moment). Enthusiastically, and very naked, I leaped to my feet and began to run around my apartment shouting,”I’m alive! I’m alive!” I woke up my room mate, yelling in his face as he was trying to sleep. There was a guy staying on our couch and I remember grabbing him by his cheeks and yelling the same thing. He was so confused and probably a little scared, having a 230 pound butt-naked dude, who was high as a kite, screaming at him at four in the morning that he was alive.

The next morning I woke up and couldn’t remember anything until I asked the guy on my couch, whose face I had yelled in, what had happened. He started to tell me some of things I had done and it all came back in a wave of embarrassment. I was ashamed, especially having thrown away my virginity which I had managed to hold onto for 18 years (I wanted it to be with someone special). I also felt embarrassed for how I had acted towards the girl I was with. I went down to see her at her apartment, and although we talked, I could only imagine the embarrassment she must of felt. We hung out a few times after that, but once she left at the end of the summer, I only ever saw her once more and I was completely wasted at the time. I should of said I was sorry, but I was too young and too stupid to know what sorry was.

Now as I am sure you can imagine I was blown away by this experience. I reflected on it for days and apart from there being some sort of plan (destiny I guess) for us all, and perhaps Something that knew everything, I couldn’t explain it. This wasn’t some drawn out case of deja vu, this was something I dreamt my whole life that actually came true and to top it off I was on drugs when it happened. Think about it. My mind was in a state that my brain had never known, in a time period of the future. Not only that, but every person who was there, from different parts of not only the country but the world (the town I was living in was an international tourist and expat trap) and all of the choices they made that brought them to that moment had to happen in order for my dream to come true. Even the small details like what they wore, to what they drank. So, yeah, I had suddenly become open to the idea of destiny and that maybe an omniscient Being actually existed.

I wasn’t searching for God at this point in my life, as a matter of fact I would tell people I didn’t believe in Him. I wouldn’t of called myself an atheist because I had no idea what an atheist was, or care enough to define my beliefs. I was quite happy getting in fights, getting high and drunk and now that I had found the joys of sex outside of marriage, let me tell you, addiction number four.

This experience really set in motion a series of events that ended in me taking a knee for Jesus and admitting that He was my Lord and Master. It was a dream from my youth that became reality that started my eventual conversion to Christianity, and, strangely enough, it was another dream from my youth that became reality that would convince me that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be, my Lord and my Saviour, but I’ll have to tell that story another time.

 

In Christ

 

P.L.

 

Quit It Dad, You’re Embarrassing Me!

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Lee Strobel is someone I owe a lot to in my walk with Christ. A few years ago I had walked away from the faith and one of the big reasons for that, was because I couldn’t articulate my faith. When I tried to share the Gospel with people I had no idea how to answer the many questions presented to me and partly because of this, became embarrassed to be a Christian. When I was 27 I had moved back in with my father and stepmother to pick up the pieces of a broken life (long story). They knew nothing about apologetics and couldn’t answer my questions, but they had just so happened to had bought a copy of Lee’s Case For Christ on DVD and suggested that I watch it. I plugged it in one night and was shocked with what I saw; Christians who were not only smart, but could reason for belief in God and  Christ. I didn’t know that people like this existed. After watching this, The Case For Christ left me with no excuse on the logical side of things, it was time to roll up my sleeves and start learning reasons for the hope within, which led to me picking up my walk with Christ where I had left off. None of this would of happened if it wasn’t for Lee and the people he tapped to put it all together (and a little Divine Providence of course).

By the sounds of the first paragraph you would think this is a praise article for Lee Stroble, but it’s not (I just wanted to take the oppurtunity to say how much I appreciate him so that you don’t think I have some kind of a grudge against him). Instead it is about something else Lee introduced me too via his Twitter account; the ‘Back To Church’ rap video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx_P_afu_tU&feature=youtu.be

Lee asked “in five words or less what we thought” and not wanting to be overly judgemental I replied “not very effective, but hilarious”. It is pretty funny, but in a “I feel embarrassed for you” kind of way. Like those American Idol participants who think they can sing but are just terrible kind of funny. The real problem is I am not sure if this is meant to be a joke, or is actually a serious attempt to get posteriors back in the pews.

If getting someone (I’m assuming the youth) to come back to Jesus is their motive, then there has to be better ways then this. Honestly, I’m thirty, and I grew up when rap was called rap (not hip-hop). Back when Will Smith’s Parents just didn’t understand and LL Cool J’s Mom wanted him to put a beatdown on someone who was picking on him. Those songs were once hits, but now are as dated as the word ‘whack’ (Mama Said Knock You Out has stood the test of time, but only the hook, not the rhymes).

It reminds me of a Mom or Dad trying to relate to their kid and things start to get awkward. Of good intentions, mixed with the right attitude, but all in all, really kind of embarrassing. If anything, it serves to highlight the gap between the youth and the church, and serve as a what-not-to-do to bring a dwindling attention span of a generation, that like us when we were kids, thinks that anything our parents wanted us to do was lame (including going to Church).

Maybe I’m being too hard on the people who made this video; they are trying hard to relate to the youth in a world that has either forgotten Jesus or dosen’t care what He did for them. One of the big problems is that kids care what other kids think of them and this video isn’t helping to make it ‘cool’ to go to church.

How can we make it cool to go to church? Well church is never going to be ‘cool’ because it is against the world and the only way to be cool is to be part of the world, but we can make people proud to be a member of the body. The key is in our members, not the ones who grew up with Jesus, but the ones who came to believe in Jesus later in life; those of us who come from the world.

What I am talking about is the testimony of us who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and into Christ’s arms. The testimony of those who make you proud to be a Christian, the ones who judgemental Christians look down their nose at. The former gang banger, ex-cons, people who had the miraculous bring them to belief, the missionaries who are unafraid to look death in the face as they spread to Gospel to the ends of the earth and stories of the persecuted. Forget celebrity believers, show them that people have given up everything to follow Jesus. Nothing beats uninterested like interesting, unbelief like unshakable or cold like on-fire.

In short, I’m not trying to come down to hard on the makers of this video. Their intentions were good and their hearts are in the project and I don’t want to be Captain Negativity, but this is not the way to go, this is not the way to reach out. You want to make a serious run at bringing people back to Jesus, then you remind them what they left; what they were a part of; the Body Of Christ.

I leave you with this rap video (It has a little more impact):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFNZyItIhNQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Is Christianity a Killjoy? WARNING R RATING

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One of the big reasons that people have a problem becoming a Christian is that they think being a Christian isn’t any fun. You can’t sleep in on Sunday, you have to practice self-control to the righteous degree, essentially, you have to stay on the narrow path. The party is over on the broad path, which as far as options go, seems a whole lot easier and a whole lot more exciting. But is it really?

On the broad path you can really just ‘enjoy’ life in the Hedonistic sense. Drinking as much as you want, when you want. Sex with no strings attached. You want to get high? Sure, just pick your poison. Someone crosses you the wrong way, hey, punch him in the face (he had it coming anyway). Foul language makes you cool. Who cares if you’re lying, you’re getting ahead right? Ladies, you wanna find that dream guy, wear next to nothing, that’s sure to attract the right types. Feeling blue? Go buy something new, like a car, or clothes, or anything that makes you feel better about being you. Who cares if most of the people around the world are hungry. Of course I could just keep going on, but I think I made my point.

I have to tell you, I lived a life of sin that I’m sure made Satan proud (or at least sure of his ownership of my soul). My favourite sins were fighting, fornicating, boozing and drugging. I thought I would miss these sins and truth be told, sometimes I do (no sex before marriage as a 30 year old male is tough and as someone who liked to solve his problems by punching them, trying to remain peaceful is almost just as hard). As time goes on though I realize more and more that sin (including my favourites) weren’t really fun, they only appeared to be, and the longer I go without them, the more convinced of this I become.

Here are a few reflections on my old favourite pass-times:

As a former doorman (bouncer) I wish I could forget how many people I have had to take out of the club holding their face together from having it slashed with a broken bottle, or how many ambulances I’ve called because some guy (minding his own business) got lit up in the alley, or brawls I have broken up that ended with one or more close to death. The club is nothing but a little mini war zone on a ceasefire that can really go off in a big way at any moment (especially cheap draft night). Try working at a bar and see in six months how you feel about the bar scene.

There is also the red-light aspect of the club scene. Guys and girls all dressed up, showing what they got, trying to be a front-runner in that all night meat-market. Ladies, let me tell you now, you are not going to find the kind of guy you want to take home to your parents at a bar. Fellas; ditto. One of the scariest things that  women have to watch out for is the ridiculous amount of perverts who have no problem dropping something in your drink and then offering you a ride home. Scary stuff. Of course rape isn’t the only horrible thing that can happen in the pursuit of lusts. Everyone likes attention, and after a few drinks lay waste to your inhibitions, that person at the end of the bar giving up the bedroom eyes starts to look pretty inviting. Next thing you know, the two of you are in bed together. Sure they make condoms, but let me tell you, enough drinks in you coupled with a little foreplay and suddenly not having a condom isn’t such a big deal. With almost 54 million abortions and a populace with INSANE rates of STI’s, I think this fact is pretty much undisputed. There is nothing like an STI to turn your world upside down.

So how about drugs? They’re pretty fun right? I mean a little weed never hurt anyone did it? I concede there are worse things, but as someone who finally managed to give up smoking dope (for about 8 years almost everyday) I can tell you personally that I was wasting my life on the pot. It makes it OK to be bored and after years of abusing it, it will change you.

But pot is not the big one, see I don’t believe that weed is even a gateway drug, I believe booze is the gateway drug (although these days people seem to be skipping right to the big leagues). Once you start clubbing it won’t be before too long that you will run into someone who will want you to do some blow (cocaine) with them. I tried coke once (for four years). I went from recreational user, to full blown addict in a matter of months. I got into working for the guys who were dealing it, it got pretty ugly. But coke isn’t even the worse of the bunch. The thing about hard drugs is that once you start doing them you always need to up your high, so you move onto things like crack or heroin or meth. I have lost count how many people I know who have lost their lives, both literally and figuratively because they took that next step. By the grace of God I never did take that step, and by no means do I look down on those who have. It breaks my heart to see someone going down that road, and it’s a monster that most people never can shake. So sad, but they didn’t start out as addicts and were normal once. Trying drugs is a lot like playing an extended game of Russian roulette, putting more bullets in the chamber with each spin.

Then of course there is the booze. Like I said earlier, I think that booze is the real gateway drug into the hard stuff, with the way it lowers your good sense to the level of non-existent. Have you ever heard the old saying ‘for one douchebag just add alcohol’? Guys I can’t stress this enough, I have spoke to thousands of drunk people working the door, you are not funny, articulate, interesting or wise. You are annoying. At the start of the night everyone is great to be around, but once you get past 11 that’s when Mr./ Mrs. Hyde comes out to play. Also, we can’t forget about alcoholism. Sure you see extreme cases on TV shows like Intervention, and we all sit there shaking our heads. But it truly is the pot calling the kettle black, as most people have some mild functional form of alcoholism. Usually starts with going out once a weekend drinking, then Friday and Saturday, then of course maybe a Wednesday or a Thursdays gets thrown in there and before we know it we can’t go to any kind of social function unless there is booze. Me, I was a drunk, and I don’t miss it one bit.

Someone might say that living dangerously is part of the fun and I think to a certain extent that’s correct. We as humans crave excitement, but that excitement is short lived and really only prima facie. You have to constantly keep upping the anti and the only limit is consequence. Maybe these things pump your gas, they did for me for the longest time, then they too became boring, unsatisfying and ultimately detrimental. Most of the ‘friends’ I met became life long drinking buddies, but nothing more. The women came and went, no love, just lust and I have destroyed my nasal cavity from all the cocaine I did. I am physically scarred from being hit with beer bottles, mentally scarred from being brutally jumped by over thirty people (I had boot marks from my head to my feet) and have broken my hand so many times that I loath rainy days for the pains of arthritis. These things which seemed fun in my teens and twenties really came with some serious consequences when I got older. I don’t think most would heed my warning. I think most have to go out and get a taste for themselves, like the prodigal son. But more times than we like to admit, the son never returns. That’s the sad reality of life and whether we like it or not, it is reality.

Now that I’ve reflected on the demons of my past, how about the angels of my present?

Well, for one thing, I found a church that I honestly look forward to going to every Sunday. The music is awesome, the people are great and I leave feeling energized for the week ahead of me. I never thought I would say this, but I like church. They are not used to seeing a guy like me (big, tattooed and scared) so everyone wants to talk to me about how I became a Christian, I guess they find me interesting. I get invited to dinners and Bible studies (don’t roll your eyes, these things are fun too). I have to be honest, I have never felt more accepted and loved and when I’m feeling down, people are really there for me, even just to lend an ear. I like that.

I have also found that since I don’t do the party thing any more that I have time to pursue my life’s passions. I have time to read the books I want to read, I get to the gym regularly, my health has improved ten-fold, I have hobbies now. I have friends that aren’t part-time, but full-time. They just like me for me and I am very grateful for this. My pastor calls me up to go for coffee’s, my apologetics group meets up a couple of times a month and we stay in touch in between. There is also more women then men in church, so I’m pretty excited that I might be able to find a best friend and partner (sure beats the strippers I was dating before). It really is an exciting time in my life.

So is Christianity any fun? I think it is. It is a huge change in lifestyle, but once you make some big changes and look back, you can’t help but conclude that it was for the best. The only time I have ever felt truly happy is when I have been walking the Christian path. You might think Christianity equals boring, but in all honesty it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my 30 years on this planet. Give it a try, you might find it’s not so bad too.

An Old Philosophy Joke

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When I heard this a while back it was introduced to me as “an old joke”, so I have introduced it the same. 

 

A first year philosophy major bursts into his professors office early one morning. His face unshaven, hair a mess, bags under his eyes and the same clothes on from the day before. He had the look of someone who had been up all night. In his hands he clutched a book by Descartes and with tears in his eyes said, “Professor! Do I exist!?” His professor looked at him with a cheeky grin and asked, “Who wants to know?”

Bring Bill’s Beard Back

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It’s been a while since the time of the beard. Not since the days of antiquity and “the philosopher’s beard” has a philosopher pulled off one as magnificent as the one William Lane Craig had. He looked fierce with the fuzz and gave atheists such as Frank Zindler and Peter Atkins a taste of what it was like to cross the beard of Bill. Now I’m not saying “Baby-faced Bill” somehow lacks the tenacity of “Bill with a beard,” but it does kind of feel like the Moral Argument is missing it’s second premise if you know what I mean. So this an official petition to “Bring Bill’s Beard Back”. We’re not asking for much, just to grow it out for a little while so that before you go to be with our Lord (which of course we pray is many, many years from now) us fans of the beard can have an everlasting image of the Chuck Norris of philosophy. Please send this around and help raise awareness to Bring Bill’s Beard Back!

The NEW Argument From Fine-Tuning (for guitar players)

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Arguments from fine-tuning are all the rage these days and I would like to give you my very own version of one of these arguments. It goes like this.

  1. If E then A
  2. If A then D
  3. If D then G
  4. If G then B
  5. If B then E
  6. If E, A, D, G, B, E, then ST (standard tuning)
  7. Therefore, standard tuning.

Now I know that premises 1, 4 and 5 are controversial when it comes to the tuning of the constant. Everyone uses this tuning, you can’t write any new stuff because it’s all been written, blah, blah, blah (technical talk by the way). So please allow me to refine the argument:

  1. If D then A
  2. If A then D
  3. If D then G
  4. If G then A
  5. If A then D
  6. If D, A, D, G, A, D then DT (dadgad tuning)
  7. Therefore, dadgad tuning.

Note how I revised premises 1, 4 and five by dropping a whole step and thus improving the overall soundness of the argument. I think that any true seeker of fine-tuning will agree with me that this is irrefutably the most sound fine-tuning and thus making this the most sound fine-tuning argument in all of history. You can thank me later.

In Christ

P.L.

 

The Problem Of Evil… Knievel

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I took this from a magazine article that I found in my attic, as I was going through my Evel Knievel memorabilia, which was amazing because I just tweeted how I was wondering what Evel Knievel’s thoughts were on the Argument from Evil!

From Daredevil Magazine Issue 777:

As many of you know, Evel Knievel (born Robert Craig Knievel) is perhaps the world’s most famous motorcycle daredevil. With such stunts as jumping 13 buses at Wembley Stadium in front of 90000 people, or the Snake River Canyon attempt which almost cost him his life, Evel Knievel became a household name during the sixties and on into the early nineties. With millions of fans and risking both life and limb to put food on his families table, Knievel paid dearly for his daredevil ways, amassing 37 broken bones, 14 major surgeries (including screws, pins and bone replacement surgery) and spent more than half of the years 1966- 1973 either in a hospital, in a wheelchair, or on crutches. This gave Evel a lot of time to think and ponder the biggest questions in life and it was here that he would find his true calling, not jumping vehicles, but jumping premises and argumentation.

In the summer of 1968, Knievel hospitalized after attempting to jump 6 Ford Pintos and a cow went horribly wrong; the cow moved. Having part of his spleen removed, Evel now found he had a lot of time on his hands while he recovered. “I was bored silly!” he tells Daredevil Magazine, “One day I asked Frank, a long-time friend of mine, if he could bring me something to read. Not being one with a penchant for remembering things, my request had slipped Frank’s mind entirely until he was on his way to visit me. Now in a rush to find something I could read, he opened his son’s book-bag (who was in college at the time) and grabbed the first book he found, it was from his “Introductory to Philosophy” course. Not wanting to disappoint me Frank figured it was better than nothing, and when he handed it to me I didn’t know what to say. I was expecting a magazine or something; what the heck was I going to do with a philosophy textbook?!” laughing as he shook his head, “After Frank left I kind of stared at it with one eyebrow cocked towards the ceiling, but wouldn’t you know it? Curiosity got the best of me and I began to thumb through it. That was it for me. I was hooked!”

Knievel would spend all his down time buried in the books, thumbing through philosophy journals until the wee hours of the morning, and sneaking into university classes in whatever city he happened to be in at that time; philosophy was consuming his life. “I started getting in accidents on purpose just so I could spend more time philosophizing. I couldn’t stop!” With a name like Evel, one shouldn’t be surprised that he had come to form of atheism, “yeah after reading guys like Bertrand Russell and Nietzsche I decided that naturalism was the life for me! Plus, it totally went with the name. Philosophy of Religion had become my drink of choice and let me tell you the most modest of ways, I was the best.”

In 1972 Evel published a philosophical masterpiece under the pseudonym Ken Evel where he formulated perhaps the most daring version of the Logical Problem of Evil ever witnessed in the history of philosophy. Not only was it logically air tight, but the premises would actually defend themselves when you tried to refute them. Evel grinning in reflection, “Jumping all those buses, cars and whatnot paled in comparison to the adrenaline I got when I first penned this argument. It was so strong that my pencil literally exploded when I finished placing the last period. Thankfully I wasn’t on a typewriter or that really could have been messy!” (I would type the argument out for you but I am on a computer and I’m no Evel Knievel, so I am not willing to take the risk). Theists didn’t know what to do, or what to make of it, Evel Knievel thought he had won Philosophy of Religion.

But then in 1975, a philosopher out of Calvin College by the name of Alvin Plantinga dared to take the challenge, “Yeah, Plantinga man, I thought I had it, but here comes this guy with his “possible worlds” and “feasible worlds” and the whole “Free Will Defence“. Pssh. I really didn’t like him very much.” What he is talking about is Plantinga’s Free Will Defence against the Logical Problem of Evil which rendered it not so much a problem, logically speaking. Sure evil existed, but it didn’t mean that God couldn’t exist along with it. Keneviel was crushed, “He really challenged my worldview once I started to really think about it. My atheism was centred around my belief that God and Evil couldn’t logically exist together. Even once I reformulated it to the more difficult Probabilistic Problem of Evil, I still couldn’t get it so that God and evil couldn’t logically co-exist. I was frustrated.”

Ken evil (the philosopher) retreated into a philosophical closet, “I went back to jumping motorcycles, what else was I going to do? It was the only life I figured I knew how to live. Sure lot’s of guys still defend the Problem of Evil, but it’s really no use. Scientists have even figured out that only highly evolved primates experience pain like we do. The problem just keeps getting smaller and smaller.”

Years went by and the fame, fortune, surgeries and addiction had taken it’s toll on Evel Knievel; he begun to soften on his atheist stance, “I began to feel like there was something more out there, like I knew there was something more to life than this, like I always knew it, something bigger than me; bigger than you; bigger than all of us. I couldn’t explain it, I still can’t, but I just knew it in my heart.” Knievel began to search out this feeling he had, he even began to pray asking for guidance in his search, hoping that Something or Someone was listening. After years of searching, his prayers were finally answered, “it just all made sense one day, just kind of clicked. I realized that arguments weren’t the way to go and that subjective evidence was evidence, and if I could experience God, then I would know He was real, even if I couldn’t explain it in a way that everyone else could understand. I looked into the major religions and found that Christianity fit this mold and so I followed what it said, you know, about searching and BAM, beofer I knew it I had gave my heart to Jesus Christ. It consumed me to the point where I was all like, ‘give me that plow, I have some seeds to sow!'”

On 2007 Evel Knievel appeared on Hour of Power and was baptised in front of millions. His testimony went on to cause a mass of baptisms in the name of Christ.

To everyone’s shock in the philosophical realm, the once infamous Ken Evil came out of his seclusion to give the Problem of Evil one last formulation, but this time with a twist, “I realized that the problem of evil wasn’t just a problem for the theists, but for the atheists as well. If there was no absolute basis for good and evil then evil is just relative and therefore doesn’t actually exist, but it does exist! My pen didn’t explode this time, because I using a computer, luckily that didn’t explode either, but still, I have high hopes for this argument.” Shortly after this interview Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel passed away, one can only think that his life, which would eventually serve to bring thousands to Christ, was meant just for that. God Bless you Mr. Knievel, may you rest in Christ.