Losing a Pet Hurts More Than People Think April 28, 2019

If you are a pet owner, you already know that there are no words that can describe the joy and love pets bring in the home.

Pets are a perfect company, they welcome us at the door, eagerly waiting for us to spend some time playing with them, they can perform numerous pranks and tricks to make us laugh, they are amazing with kids, and they offer unconditional love.

Pets are always there for us when we are feeling blue or lonely, when we need comfort and a warm hug, and when we are happy that life can sometimes be too beautiful to be true.

This explains why people find it too difficult to say goodbye to their pets. The loss of a pet is always a traumatic and painful experience, as it is the departure of a best friend.

Numerous people underestimate the pain felt after losing a dog or a cat, or any other pet, so researchers investigated the extent of sorrow owners feel in these cases.

The study was carried out in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. Researchers questioned pet owners about their feelings after the loss of their pet, and they all agreed that the pain has been too intense and deep. 

Interestingly, Hawaiian researchers have even found that the pain after the death of a pet is usually much longer lasting than the pain we feel with the loss of a loved one.

Numerous people agree that they cannot compare the pain they have experienced after the loss of their pet to the one after the loss of a loved one. This can only be explained by the fact that pet owners are deeply connected to their loved pets, and they suffer as they have lost their soul mate.

Source: www.naturalhealingmagazine.com

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Was Jesus Promoting Evidential Faith or Blind Faith?

Listening to Cold Case Christianity (6/27/2014) podcast J. Warner Wallace truly made me think on the subject, that is what I like about his style…he questions your belief and challenges you to reason why you believe what you believe. All too often we, as Christians, do not truly understand why we believe what we believe. More often than not, we cannot truly express, verbally, what it is that we believe, nor are we able to defend the belief we have.

I have read two of J. Warner Wallace’s books Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace, and God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe by J. Warner Wallace. Both of which opened me and my mind to things which I would not have seen or thought of before. After reading his books I began listening to his podcast show. While at work I will listen to it for roughly 6 hours, 5 days a week. And I have only made it to January of 2015, thus far.

As mentioned so often in his books and podcast shows, Peter told us to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV) I was turned on to, inspired toward, really, by Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Scott M. Sullivan, Michael Behe, Michael Liacona, and so many others. While building up to a voracious reading habit.

As Christians, we should all eventually come to the point where we will seek more information, more knowledge to aid us in our explanation of what we believe, a passion to speak on the subject as to why we believe what we believe, and finally to not argue but rather defend our position as to how we came to such a belief. Oddly enough, all too many will just brush off someone as being a heathen or pagan who challenges their beliefs without ever attempting to justify or explain their beliefs. We are mandated to:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you… ~Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV

…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. ~Mark 16:15-16 NKJV

And we are reminded, with equal importance, why we must warn those around us:

When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  ~Ezekiel 3:18 NKJV

I like the phrase which J. Warner Wallace uses that we should not strive to be million dollar apologists, but rather we need to have a million 1 dollar apologists. In that, he means that we need to be just regular people speaking to others about Christ and salvation! Speaking anywhere and everywhere without fear. Why no fear? Because we will be chastised and ridiculed by everyone for the expression of our faith. Holding to the faith of Jesus Christ.

I heard from my mother-in-law, who had gone into a popular sporting goods store where a Muslim sales clerk had refused to deal with a customer because he bore a cross around his neck. The manager who handled the transaction stated to the man that he could have tucked “that thing” under his collar. And that is just one example of how Christians are being ridiculed. Sadly it is to happen, and it will get worse. Although, I pray ardently that it will not be as it once was under Nero, who used the Christians as human torches to light the roads in Rome.

ChristianTorch

I firmly believe, based upon scriptural truths, that Jesus was an evidentialist…He did not promote Blind Faith, as so many seem to think Christianity is based upon. Consider the following:

If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”~John 10:37-38 NKJV

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~John 20:24-29 NKJV

…And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”… ~Matthew 11:1-19 NKJV

There will always be those people who are skeptical and questioning everything, because they want to learn and because some do not believe and will never believe. However, there are those who will ask in order to poke holes into one’s argument(s). That is why I am a firm believer in apologetics and it’s studies, to prepare our ranks with the ability to defend your position as to why you believe what it is that you believe. There are those who believe upon seeing, but there are those who believe without seeing simply because they trust God and His Word and promises! It does not mean they are stupid or foolish, in fact, they have an extraordinary amount of faith. People such as myself who were indoctrinated into their original faith…simply because they were told to believe just does not hold water with me…especially when questions are asked without any truthful answers. A sad way to start a relationship, don’t you think? I would urge all my friends to follow my lead and seek out the answers to the questions you hold dearly and be able to defend your faith, not argue. Present your case, your studies, lay your knowledge bare before your detractors and show them you are a man, or woman, of real faith. No matter how you got to this point…you can answer all your detractors’ questions. The real problem is whether or not they will accept those answers you give them.

We each have a gift given to us by God, we also through that gift glorify our Creator. But regardless of your gift, we must all be prepared to answer the questions presented to us. I mentioned it in a previous blog post and I also know that J. Warner Wallace had mentioned it in several of his own podcasts, that our kids are sent off to colleges and universities to the wolf den. Roughly 16% of those who go in Christian graduate as Atheists, Agnostic at best. These are sad statistics which are based upon the fact that many of us as parents do not do a good enough job upholding our Christian beliefs and studies, as well as, talking to our kids on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents even though I had my differences with them. They would take me and my siblings to our religious studies on Wednesday nights, we went to church on Sunday, etc. But we never truly talked until long into my adulthood life. My mother wouldn’t carry on a conversation much past 5 minutes, once I was able to speak with her up to 20 minutes…for her that was Guinness Book material! My father was a bit different, when I was a baby Christian I held a very mild conversation with him when he was going through radiation treatments for his cancer in 1989. Which he succumbed to the battle about 3-4 months later. We never had a real conversation over beliefs and religion, as well as, salvation and Christ. After all, religion and politics were those two subjects you just didn’t have discussions over. I had some light conversations with my mother probably a few times over the last 10 years of my mother’s life. She also succumbed to her battle with cancer in 2012.

So long as you have breath in you, a heartbeat, and are able to speak…you can make your point. What is the absolute worse thing that can happen? Death? Feel strangely odd and out of place? What fear truly holds you back? Because it is nothing in comparison to God’s promise to sentence you to the “…lake of fire…” Now could it?? Think on that for a moment or two!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

Who Was St. Nicholas? Was St. Nicholas jolly or holy? by Mark Wilson

12/07/2018 Biblical Archaeology Society [ORIGINAL ARTICLE]

The legend of jolly old St. Nicholas evolved into Santa Claus in Christmas tradition, but who was St. Nicholas? Mark Wilson, author of the Site-Seeing column “The Hometown of Santa Claus” in the November/December 2017 issue of BAR, examines below the texts and traditions related to the fourth-century bishop of Myra in Lycian Turkey. Wilson also discusses the ongoing excavations at the St. Nicholas Church in Myra and what they tell us about this popular saint.—Ed.

A Russian icon from the Nationalmuseum in Sweden showing scenes from the life of St. Nicholas.

Until two years ago, St. Nicholas was little more than a legendary historical figure to me. Then my friend Stuart Bennett enlisted me as the academic resource to make a documentary video on his life—“St. Nicholas: The Real Story.” Researching his life and shooting scenes on location in Turkey and Italy gave me a fresh appreciation for this important church father and the legacy that he left. Here are some things about Nicholas that I learned from this experience.

According to tradition, Nicholas was born in Patara, the capital of Lycia. Paul stopped at its Mediterranean harbor to change ships on his way to Jerusalem on the third journey (Acts 21:1–2). Unfortunately the harbor is silted in today, but Turkish excavators have recently uncovered one of the two lighthouses that once guarded its entrance. The council building that housed the Lycian League, which Nicholas would have seen, has recently been restored. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison saw the league as an ancient model of government to imitate in the founding of the new republic.

Tradition holds that Nicholas was the only son of wealthy Christian merchants when this new faith was still illegal in the Roman Empire. The persecution inaugurated under Decius in 250 C.E. began to touch the local community of faith. In 258 C.E. two Patarans, Paregorius and Leo, were also among those martyred under the emperor Valerian. Into this hostile environment Nicholas was born around 260 C.E. It is believed that his parents died of the plague when Nicholas was young and that he made pilgrimages to Palestine and Egypt while a youth.

Nicholas was perhaps in his 20s when the story occurs that made him a legend. Near him lived a father and his three daughters who had fallen on hard times. Because the father was unable to supply a dowry for their marriages, he was considering an appalling alternative: to send them into prostitution for survival. Nicholas somehow learned what was happening and one night threw a bag of gold coins through his neighbor’s window. The father thanked God for this mysterious provision and arranged for the marriage of his eldest daughter. Encouraged that the father was using the gift properly, Nicholas returned some nights later and threw another bag of money through the window to provide the dowry for the middle daughter. After this marriage the father realized that the mysterious benefactor would probably repeat his previous actions. So he waited night after night for the stranger to return so he could thank him for his generosity. Of course, Nicholas provided the third dowry, and as he departed, the father caught the visitor and thanked him for saving his daughters from a life of debauchery. Not wanting to be exposed, Nicholas pleaded with the father to preserve his anonymity. However, the father was so moved by this young man’s generosity that he told everyone in town. And so the legend started about the generosity of Nicholas.

Sometime later Nicholas was ordained bishop of Myra, another major Lycian city east of Patara. Myra is known as the place where Paul changed ships at its port of Andriake on his captivity journey to Rome (Acts 27:5). The church at Myra had also experienced persecution under Valerian: the bishop Themistocles was martyred. Little is known about this period of Nicholas’ life other than he was busy discharging his duties as a pastoral leader in this important bishopric.

Church council fresco from the St. Nicholas Church in Myra. Photo: Mark Wilson.

Trouble started again in 303 C.E. when Diocletian instigated another persecution that lasted for a decade. Copies of Scripture were destroyed and church property was confiscated. Christians were removed from public office and the military. Unless they sacrificed to the pagan gods and the emperor, they could not testify in court. The esteemed Methodius, bishop at the nearby Lycian city of Olympos, was martyred around this time. Diocletian’s junior colleague Galerius issued an additional edict in 304 ordering all bishops to be imprisoned and that all Christians make a public sacrifice or face punishment. Nicholas was undoubtedly among those bishops imprisoned and tortured, surviving the persecution to emerge as a “confessor.” On his deathbed Galerius issued another decree on April 30, 311, that repealed the anti-Christian laws on the condition that the Christians keep good order and pray for his safety.

However, that reprieve was short-lived. After Galerius’ death on May 5, 311, his successor Maximinus Daia reversed the decree and resumed the persecution of Christians. His actions were probably prompted in part by appeals from civic leaders in Asia Minor who were jealous of the rising power of bishops and wanted to curb the influence of this new faith. An important edict found in Arycanda is a copy of such a letter sent to Maximinus Daia and his co-emperor Licinius. The citizens of this Lycian city near Myra requested penalties be handed out to the “turbulent Christians” who had long suffered from “madness.” Their refusal to worship only Jesus was considered an offense to the established gods. An inscription found in the Pisidian city of Colbasa records Maximinus’ reply. He stated that apostates who had been restored to a good frame of mind from their blind ways could again enjoy a pleasant life. However, those Christians persisting in this abominable cult should be separated and removed from civic society.1 Eusebius (Church History 9.7.2-15) recorded a similar rescript from Maximinus that was seen in Tyre. This church historian from Caesarea Maritima wrote that many Christians in Phoenicia, Egypt, and Thebais also died at this time (Church History 8.7–9). He records that soldiers surrounded a Christian city in Phrygia, the region north of Lycia, and lit a fire that consumed every man, woman, and child in it (Church History 11.1). This was Nicholas’s world and of the church he was serving.

On June 13, 313 CE, that world was turned upside down again. The Christian apologist Lactantius (On the Death of Persecutors 48.2–12) tells us that Licinius, the new emperor of the Eastern Empire, issued an edict from his palace in Nicomedia that guaranteed religious freedom and restored confiscated property including churches. Christianity was finally a legal religion.

Over a decade later the emperor Constantine convened the first ecumenical council in 325 at his summer palace in Nicea. Whether Nicholas attended is debated as well as the number of delegates, for at least six lists exist. The list of early arrivals numbers only 200 including a sole delegate from Lycia, Eudemus of Patara. Multiple representatives participated from neighboring provinces, so the absence of delegates from Myra is noteworthy on the shorter lists. Eusebius of Caesarea names 250 attendees (Life of Constantine 3.9), Eustasthius of Antioch gives 270 (Theodoret, Church History 1.7) while Athanasius of Alexandria counts 318 (Letter to the Bishops of Africa 2). Since these three all attended the council, it is interesting that their numbers differ. However, all lists with at least three hundred bishops include the name of Nicholas. The difference in numbers and names among the lists perhaps stems from their time of arrival at the council.

Relics of St. Nicholas, Antalya Archaeology Museum, Turkey. Photo: Mark Wilson.

One story from the Nicene council, seemingly spurious, is that Nicholas was so provoked when Arius was promulgating his heresy that he walked across the room and slapped the heretic’s face. The Roman historian Julian Bennett believes that Nicholas was not at the council and suggests that he did not “agree to the adoption of the homoousian creed decided there, with its identification of the Son as being of the same essence or substance with the Father.” Thus “the Christians of Lycia favoured strongly another doctrine, perhaps the doctrine espoused by Arius that had now been declared heretical.”2 That Nicholas was an Arian is highly speculative and indeed doubtful. If so, his reputation would certainly have been tarnished, and his memory undoubtedly suppressed and forgotten unless he had not been orthodox in faith.

Nicholas died sometime before 343 C.E. The list of bishops maintained by the current Metropolitan of Myra gives the date as December 6, 330. Over a century later his memory began to be venerated in Myra through the construction of a church in his honor. Two centuries later a second Nicholas, undoubtedly named after the legendary bishop, led a monastery at nearby Sion. He too was noted for his piety and miracles just like his namesake. Beginning in the ninth or tenth century the stories of the two became confused and combined, whether accidentally or deliberately. So it is difficult to know which Nicholas is being depicted in the scenes of the 12th-century frescoes in the Myra church annex. We do know that Nicholas of Myra became the patron saint of many, especially sailors, fishermen, and all things nautical, probably because his bishopric was in an important port city.

In 1087 merchants from Bari, Italy, stopped in Andriake harbor. Disguised as pilgrims, they went to the Myra church and stole Nicholas’s bones from his sarcophagus. These bones were installed in a new shrine in Bari that soon became an important pilgrimage center. Today these bones rest beneath the apse of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Bari. When restoration work was being done on the crypt in the 1950s, the Vatican allowed measurements and X-rays to be taken of Nicholas’s skull and other bones. From these, facial anthropologist Dr. Caroline Wilkinson constructed a model of the saint’s head in 2004. Using 3D interactive technology in 2014, Dr. Wilkinson updated the facial reconstruction. The results show a man in his 60s with a long beard, round head, and square jaw whose severely broken nose had healed asymmetrically. How the nose was broken is unknown, but torture under persecution might account for the disfigurement.3

Crypt of St. Nicholas, Bari, Italy. Photo: Mark Wilson.

Research about the historical Nicholas continues to be conducted by a Dominican priest, Dr. Gerardo Cioffari at the St. Nicholas Study Center in Bari, which was founded by him in 1990.4 One document that has caught Cioffari’s attention is the Praxis de Stratelatis (“Practice of Military Officers”) that was written by an anonymous Greek author around 400 C.E. The Praxis describes how Nicholas rescued three innocent civilians who had been falsely accused of stealing from local Myrans. The Roman governor Eustathius had ordered their execution, but Nicholas intervened by grabbing the sword from the executioner. After releasing the men from their chains, he rushed to the governor’s office and confronted Eustathius. Nicholas chastised him and accused him of corruption, even threatening to inform the emperor Constantine about his evil governance. If historical, and Cioffari thinks it is, this episode well portrays the fearlessness of Nicholas.

St. Nicholas Chapel, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Photo: Mark Wilson.

As mentioned in the opening, I’ve become much more aware of things related to Nicholas. His relics can be found in many churches and museums, including our local archaeology museum in Antalya. Churches and chapels dedicated to Nicholas have been built on every continent. A gazetteer of these on the St. Nicholas Center website lists hundreds, many with pictures. While recently visiting a colleague at Radboud University in Nijmegen, I made it a point to visit the 11th-century St. Nicholas Chapel there, one of the oldest buildings in the Netherlands. On a family cruise to Alaska in 2016 we stopped in Juneau and made our way to the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church built in 1894. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. The St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in New York City, destroyed when the south tower fell on September 11, 2011, was rebuilt and dedicated on September 11, 2017. Designed by well-known architect Santiago Calatrava, the plan of the church draws its inspiration from the Hagia Sophia and Chora Churches in Istanbul, ancient Constantinople. To see this church is a certain stop the next time I visit New York.

St. Nicholas Church, Juneau, Alaska. Photo: Mark Wilson.

St. Nicholas is more than just a holly, jolly saint to be remembered once a year at Christmas. Rather his holy life of generosity, bravery, and service continues to inspire people everywhere all year long.

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Mark Wilson is the director of the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya, Turkey, and is a popular teacher on BAS Travel/Study tours. Mark received his doctorate in Biblical studies from the University of South Africa (Pretoria), where he serves as a research fellow in Biblical archaeology. He is currently Associate Professor Extraordinary of New Testament at Stellenbosch University. He leads field studies in Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean for university, seminary and church groups. He is the author of Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor and Victory through the Lamb: A Guide to Revelation in Plain Language. He is a frequent lecturer at BAS’s Bible Fests.

10 REASONS TO ACCEPT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS AS AN HISTORICAL FACT

TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017

By Brian Chilton

When I left the ministry due to my skepticism, one of the factors involved in my departure concerned the reliability of the New Testament documents and the resurrection of Jesus. The folks from the Jesus Seminar had me second-guessing whether I could trust what the New Testament said and if I could truly accept the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In July of 2005, my life changed. I entered the Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and read three books that changed my life more than any other book outside the Bible. I discovered Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and McDowell’s A Ready Defense. I discovered that there are many reasons for accepting the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as a historical fact.

Through the years, the evidence has increasingly mounted for the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection. This article will provide 10 of the most fascinating arguments for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This list is not exhaustive and my dealings with each argument is extremely brief. Nevertheless, I hope this list will provide a starting point for you to consider the authenticity of Jesus’s resurrection.

  1. The First Eyewitnesses were Women. The first eyewitnesses of the resurrection were women. All the Gospels note that the first individuals to discover the tomb empty were women. Matthew notes that “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb…The angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the play where he lay” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6).[1] Women were not held in high esteem. In Greco-Roman culture, a woman’s testimony was not admissible in court. In Jewish circles, it took the testimony of two women to equate that of one man. If one were to invent a story, the last people one would place as the first witnesses would have been women, unless it were otherwise true.

  1. Minimal Facts Concerning the Resurrection. Gary Habermas has popularized the so-called minimal facts argument for the resurrection. The minimal facts are those things that are accepted by nearly all New Testament scholars. The minimal facts are “1. Jesus died by crucifixion. 2. Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them. 3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed. 4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed. 5. The tomb was empty.” [2] These facts are nearly universally accepted by New Testament scholars, including liberals.

  1. Transformation of the Early Disciples. As noted in the minimal facts, James, the brother of Jesus, was changed from a skeptic to a believer because of the resurrection. James along with his brothers did not believe in Jesus during Jesus’s early ministry (see John 7:5). However, Jesus appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:3-9) and James became a leader in the early Jerusalem church. His death is recorded by Josephus.[3] Paul is another example of one who was completely transformed by the resurrection of Jesus. Paul had been a persecutor of the church. After witnessing the risen Jesus, Paul became a proclaimer for the church.

  1. Embarrassing Details of the Resurrection. Historically speaking, embarrassing details add veracity to a historical claim. The fact that women were the first witnesses, that a member of the Sanhedrin (the same Sanhedrin that executed Jesus) had to give Jesus a proper burial, and that the disciples were fearful and fled all serve as embarrassing factors for the resurrection account.

  1. Willingness to Die for What Was Known. Many people will die for what they believe to be true. But no one will die for something they erroneously invented. The disciples knew if they were telling the truth. Yet, one finds that the disciples were willing to die for what they knew to be true. Stephen died by stoning (Acts 7:54-60), James of Zebedee died by the sword at the hands of Herod (Acts 12:2), James the brother of Jesus died,[4] and Peter and Paul died at the hands of Nero.[5]

  1. Documentary Evidence. The documentary evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is quite good. The historian seeks to find how many primary and secondary sources[6] can be gathered for an event to determine the event’s historicity. Concerning primary sources, the resurrection has Matthew’s account, John’s account, and Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 15, including the additional references by James (if one accepts that James wrote the letter attributed to him) and Jude. The following are secondary sources for the resurrection: Luke, Mark, Clement of Rome, and to a lesser degree Ignatius and Irenaeus.

  1. Circumstantial Evidence. Douglas Groothius notes that circumstantial evidence for the historicity of the resurrection is “namely, the practice of the early church in observing baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Sunday worship.”[7] Baptism is based upon the analogy of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Lord’s Supper is a symbol of Christ’s sacrificial death. In addition, it is quite odd that faithful Jews would move their worship from a Friday evening into Saturday to a Sunday morning unless something major had occurred on a Sunday morning. The major Sunday morning event was Jesus’s resurrection.

  1. The Missing Motive. J. Warner Wallace has noted in his lectures and books that when a conspiracy is formed, three motivating factors are behinds such a move—power, greed, and/or lust.[8] The disciples would hold no power behind claiming the resurrection as history. They were running around while often being threatened by the Jewish and Roman authorities. As far as greed, they taught that one should not desire earthly possessions, but spiritual ones. Lust was not a factor, either. They taught celibacy before marriage and marital fidelity after marriage. In fact, N. T. Wright notes in his classic book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, that the disciples had no theological motivation behind claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead as they were anticipating a military hero and a final resurrection at the end of time. What motivating factors existed for these disciples to invent such a story? None! The only reason the disciples taught the resurrection of Jesus was because Jesus’s resurrection had occurred.

  1. Enemy Attestation of the Resurrection. Historically speaking, if one holds enemy attestation to an event, then the event is strengthened. When one considers the claims of the authorities that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:11-15), the testimony of the resurrection is strengthened. The early belief that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus is strengthened by the discovery of the Nazareth Inscription that orders capital punishment for anyone who steals a body from a tomb.[9] In addition, several refences to Jesus and his resurrection include citations from Josephus,[10] Tacitus,[11] and Suetonius[12] among others (including the Babylonian Talmud).

  1. Multiple Post-Resurrection Eyewitnesses. Finally, there is multiple eyewitness testimony pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus. Several people had seen Jesus alive for a period of 40 days. The eyewitnesses include Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), the women at the tomb accompanying Mary (Matthew 28:1-10), the Roman guards (Matthew 28:4), the Eleven disciples (John 21), the two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), an indeterminate number of disciples (Matthew 28:16-20); over five-hundred disciples (1 Corinthains 15:6), to James (1 Corinthians 15:7) and to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). I am certain that there were many other witnesses that are unnamed.

Conclusion:

Many other evidences could be given for the resurrection of Jesus. Thinking about the methods of history, one must understand that there is a reason why American accept the first President of the United States as George Washington and not Spongebob Squarepants. History backs up the claim that Washington was the first President. In like manner, history backs up the reality of Jesus’s resurrection. Now the question is this: what will you do with such information? Some will try to ignore the event. Some will try to dismiss it. Others will acknowledge the factual nature of the event and worship Jesus as the risen Lord. It is my prayer that you will do the latter.

Notes

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[2] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), 48-50, 64-69.

[3] Josephus, Antiquities XX.200.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Eusebius, Church History XXV.5.

[6] Primary sources are documents written by eyewitnesses. Secondary sources are documents written by individuals who know eyewitnesses. For instance, my grandfather was an eyewitness to the biggest naval battle in World War II history. From the information my dad gathered from him, he would be a secondary source, whereas my grandfather would have been a primary source.

[7] Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2011), 553-554.

[8] See J. Warner Wallace, “Rapid Response: I Think the Disciples Lied About the Resurrection,” Cold-case Christianity.com (October 17, 2016), retrieved April 11, 2017, http://coldcasechristianity.com/2016/rapid-response-i-think-the-disciples-lied-about-the-resurrection/.

[9] See http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/07/22/The-Nazareth-Inscription-Proof-of-the-Resurrection-of-Christ.aspx#Article.

[10] Josephus, Antiquities XX.9.1.

[11] Tacitus, Annals XV.

[12] Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars-Claudius 25 and Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars-Nero 16.

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2ppUPKK

*****

Another post of apologetic information to aid in your understanding. I hope & pray you find it of value to your growth!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

Why Do So Many Christians Dismiss Apologetics?

Posted June 14, 2016 by Sean McDowell [SEANMCDOWELL.ORG]

Why Do Many Christians Dismiss Apologetics?

SeanMcDowell.org

I love apologetics. It’s fun to teach apologetics, discuss apologetics, and offer reasons for what I believe to non-Christians who ask. Yet, quite clearly, not all Christians share my enthusiasm. Why not? Below are five common reasons why many Christians dismiss apologetics (thanks to my Twitter friends, acknowledged below).

Apologists have often failed to model gracious apologetics. Rather than blaming others, we apologists might do well to start by examining ourselves. Let’s be honest, we could probably all share a story where we failed to model the kind of evangelism and apologetics we see in Jesus, Paul, and the early church fathers. If you can’t think of a story, then you’re probably not even aware of your own blind spot! As I emphasize in A New Kind of Apologist, many Christians dismiss apologetics because they have seen apologists being arrogant, dismissive, and uncharitable to others. Many dismiss apologetics because of a bad experience.

Faulty understanding of faith and reason. Some time ago my father and I were speaking at a student conference in the southeast. Noticeably upset, a young female youth worker approached us afterwards and (essentially) said, “I wish you guys had a more biblical view of faith. We don’t need evidence. Real faith involves believing something without proof.” And then she stormed away. Sadly, this young lady had bought the idea that faith involves believing something blindly without evidence. If she were right, then apologetics would be frivolous. But the Bible both teaches and models a different view of faith. Simply put, evidence is offered to give people a confident faith (E.g., Exodus 14:31; John 20:30-31; Acts 1:1-3).

Mistaken view of apologetics. A couple years ago I spoke with an influential youth leader about the present state of youth culture. When I inquired about his views on apologetics, he quickly dismissed it, even though his own research showed that many kids were leaving the faith because they had unanswered questions. As I probed further, it became clear that he equated apologetics with a cage-match where people defend their hot-button issue without relationship or gentleness. If that is what apologetics is, then I would dismiss it too! What should apologetics be about? Dallas Willard Perhaps said it best:

Like Jesus, we are reaching out in love in a humble spirit with no coercion. The only way to accomplish that is to present our defense gently, as help offered in love in the manner of Jesus.[1]

Not being engaged in evangelism. Motivated by my friend Brett Kunkle, I have been taking high school students on apologetics mission trips for the past few years. Inevitably, whenever we meet up with atheists, Mormons, student freethinking groups, Unitarian Universalists or people of other faiths, students become highly motivated to study apologetics. Students often study theology and apologetics late into the evening getting prepared for the next day! In my experience, nothing motivates Christians to care about apologetics more than evangelism and spiritual conversations. After all, once you start sharing your faith, people will inevitably have questions about the Bible, evil, evolution, and more.

Apologetics is often motivated by fear. Something stood out to me a few years ago at an apologetics conference—virtually every speaker used the hook of “fear” to motivate people. We were told to fear changing sexual mores, the growth of atheism, the tactics of various “cults,” certain theological movements within the church, and more. While there is undoubtedly a place for healthy fear, apologetics should not simply be a reactive discipline to changing cultural mores. Rather, we ought to provide positive answers and reasons for the supremacy of the Christian faith. Insofar as we are primarily negative, apologists will fail to inspire people to stand up for the faith.

There are certainly other reasons many Christians dismiss the value of apologetics. If you want to see a few more, which were suggested by my friends on Twitter, check out this interesting Twitter exchange. Here are a few samples of their insightful feedback:

@rickwade55: Apologists focusing on true conclusions rather than on the individual they’re talking to and coming to believe.

@triciascribner: Some believe that apologetics undermines the gospel’s supremacy, diminishing the authority of the Word and of Christ.

@smlabonte: I’ve heard people say that Jesus doesn’t need us to defend him. (Not exactly what apologetics is)

@DynAggelos: some Christians think it is unnecessary since the Holy Spirit and the Word of God ultimately do the transforming of the mind.

@prashanthdaniel: I’ve been told that its pointless nitpicking, argumentative and therefore divisive, Sean. Naturally, I disagree.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

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I was reading through many saved posts on Facebook to clear them out and thought this was noteworthy.

Hope you enjoyed it!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

Pastor confronts West Va. middle school over student assignment to declare Allah as only true god

By Teri Webster May 19, 2018 8:44 pm [ORIGINAL ARTICLE]

This photo illustration shows a young Muslim woman praying. A Christian pastor of a student at a West Virginia middle school was upset this week after his daughter received an assignment to declare Allah as the one true god. (Ibrakovic/Getty Images

A Christian pastor confronted a West Virginia middle school this week after his daughter came home with an assignment that asked her seventh-grade class to “write their submission to Allah as their one true god in Arabic calligraphy.”

Specifically, students were asked to “practice calligraphy by copying the Arabic form of the Shahada by hand,” according to published reports. The Shahada refers to the “Islamic profession of faith that declares belief in one true God and Muhammad being a messenger of God.”

Brielle Penkoski, student at Mountain Ridge Middle School in Gerrardstown, brought the assignment home and showed it to her father, Rich Penkoski, a Christian who runs an online ministry called Warriors for Christ.

“I saw the assignment of writing the Shahada in Arabic. Their excuse was calligraphy,” he told The Christian Post. “I was like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ First of all, calligraphy was invented in China 3,000 years prior to Muhammad. The fact that they were trying to get my daughter to write that disturbed me.’”

“I said, ‘That is not happening. My daughter is not doing that,’” Penkoski said. “My daughter told me that if she didn’t do the assignment then she was going to get a [detention] slip.”

Penkoski told the Post he contacted the school and was told the teacher, Katherine Hinson, gave the assignment as “optional reading.”

Penkoski said he believes the school may have changed the requirements because he complained.

“Why would they print all that out and then tell them they don’t have to do it?” Penkoski said. “When they were given a packet [on Christianity], which didn’t go into that much detail, they did have to write an essay. So you’re telling me they don’t have to do it now that I called you on it? It makes no sense and it is not consistent.”

The next day, on Tuesday, the teacher reportedly re-issued the assignment with some areas of the paperwork crossed off. Penkoski’s daughter, Brielle, told him the class was still asked to do the calligraphy assignment.

For the second time, he called school principal, Ron Branch.

Branch told the concerned parent there would be no repercussions for students who do not complete the activity for the course on world religions, the report stated.

What else is the school teaching?

This is not the first time Penkoski complained about the school’s teachings. Last year, his daughter was shown a class video about suicide prevention that featured a scene with two male high school students in bed together, the report stated.

The Berkeley County School District later said the video was not approved by the district, and the content was not approved. The Post cited other school assignments that have sparked outrage.

Is this happening elsewhere?

Seventh-graders in the Maury County School District in Tennessee were issued an assignment in 2015 that asked students to write “Allah is the only god” as part of teachings on Islam’s pillar of creed. The conservative legal group American Center for Law and Justice, indicated that more than 7,000 Tennessee residents complained about the assignment, the report stated.

Earlier this year, New Jersey students in a World Cultures and Geography class watched videos that allegedly featured Islamic propaganda and even encouraged conversion to Islam.

In 2016, a Maryland couple sued a school district claiming that it was guilty of indoctrinating students when teaching about the five pillars of Islam by “requiring” them write out Islamic statements of faith

We Get Attached To The Strangest Things

So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”  ~Jonah 4:5-9

jonah-and-the-gourd-vineA long mane can be just as emotional to cut off. (Reflections from my youth.) It was one year ago today (10/9/2016) when we had to put down our dog Bernie. Funny how you get attached to things. Jonah was attached to a gourd vine, we and many others were attached to dogs or cats, a neighbor of ours was so attached to her bearded dragon, my grandmother was attached to her parakeets. We are a species that desires to give and receive love and if we cannot receive it, we will just give it.

Jonah fell in love with that gourd vine, because it protected him from the hot sun during the day while he sat there on the hill just waiting for the Ninevites to fail God. Because Jonah knew that they would fail Him, as Ninevites could not be trusted. We all tend to have trust issues with respect to others, don’t we? My suspicion is that Jonah had witnessed the travesties of the Ninevites first hand and this is why he held them in such low report. Despite God was on His side and despite God’s mandate for Jonah. He did not care, Jonah just did not want those Ninevites saved.

Jonah knew that if he had gone and warned the Ninevites and if they would listen to the message from Jonah and if they sensed sorrow in their heart that God would forgive them. God is funny that way. Jonah loved the gourd vine for what it provided him and was angered when it withered away, despite the fact that he put no work or cultivation toward its growth. We on the other hand, tend to love the animals that we adopt as pets because we give up much time to train it up to do as we desire it to do for us, or to mind us. Other animals and creatures just kind of exist and we take their motions to be a form of love or caring toward us. But God loved the Ninevites NOT because of what they could do for Him, nor what they could provide for Him, but solely because of the fact that they were one of His creations and He could be a forgiving, compassionate, and loving God.

bernieJust something we need to remember is the fact that we are God’s creation. In God’s eye we are but a speck of sand, yet He knows our names. When you look at those who have done you wrong, what do you see? Do you see an enemy or a friend in the making? One truly kills and destroys an enemy by making him your friend. While we cannot destroy another man’s soul, we can surly be the impetus of saving it through the message of Jesus Christ and by living our lives as Christ lived His life.

This is a short message today as it touched a nerve when my wife reminded me of our dog Bernie going bye-bye for the final time.