On Reason and Truly Being Reasonable

1. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” – Psalms 14:1 (ESV)

Clever.  Very clever.  A group of Minnesota atheists raised $3000 to buy a couple of billboards – one in Minneapolis, the other in St. Paul.  They are designed to look just like the billboards a Christian anti-abortion group puts up, bearing a photo of a happy baby and a pro-life message.  It appears the atheists even used the same font style (or one very similar) for the lettering.

And what is the message these atheists want to get across?  The St. Paul billboard states, “We are all born without belief in gods.  Learn how to be a born again atheist.”   The Minneapolis sign reads, “Please don’t indoctrinate me with religion.  Teach me to think for myself.”


To my mind, the essential problem with atheism is rooted in a skewed view of reason.  After all, a national atheist group is holding their “Reason Rally,” followed by their national convention in Bethesda MD. (Ironically – or perhaps reasonably – enough, the city is named after Bethesda (or Bethsaida) in Israel – the place where invalids seeking healing gathered at the Sheep Pool, and where Jesus gave sight to the blind man.)

Perhaps we should best define the meaning of the noun “reason.”  So that I’m not accused of dogmatic bias on this, I will use a secular source: the Random House dictionary:

1. “a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war.

2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.

3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.

4. sound judgment; good sense.

5. normal or sound powers of mind; sanity.

6. Logic . a premise of an argument.

7. Philosophy .

a. the faculty or power of acquiring intellectual knowledge, either by direct understanding of first principles or by argument.

b. the power of intelligent and dispassionate thought, or of conduct influenced by such thought.

c. Kantianism . the faculty by which the ideas of pure reason are created (1).”

To an atheist, there is no God – no Deity, no Creator, no Savior.  What is reasonable to them is that mankind is the be-all and end-all of life.  Humanity lives to please ourselves.  People love one another, but not God.  Human beings define truth.

The problem is that these ideas are not reasonable.  Look around you: you see evidence of a Creator all around you!  Blue skies by day, a brightly lit universe at night.  Trees.  Rivers.  Animals.  People.

People – humans – beings who can think and feel and see and taste and hear and comprehend and write and draw and do. 

And reason. 

But as humans, we are not as smart as we think we are.  Hence, our abilities to reason alone are hampered.  This is why some simply can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to God.  They reason that if they cannot the Lord, He must not exist.  They will accept such nonsense as Darwinism and not entertain the reasonable view that all of creation must have been created, and thus there must be a creator, and that Creator must be higher than we are.  Some claim it is all “intelligent design,” which basically means there is a God but, to save face, we can’t admit He is God.  How reasonable is that?

What sense is there in living for one’s self?  How can we reconcile that with loving the people around us?  By definition, love is putting the interests of others above self.  How can we prefer ourselves over others and prefer others over ourselves at the same time?  How reasonable is that?

And what is truth?  Truth must be absolute, otherwise it is merely opinion.  Without truth, we have no morals.  Without truth, we have no basis for reason.  So, to be reasonable we must have absolute truth.  And, since humanity is so flawed, we simply are not intelligent enough to fully outline – let alone fully comprehend – what truth really is.  How can man, who does not know everything, possibly be the definer of ultimate truth?  How reasonable is that?

The simple truth is that there is a God – a loving Creator and Sustainer of all.  And that God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the Bible.  He Created all this world and the universe around it.  He sustains life on this earth.  (Think about it: your heart beats, your brain functions, your lungs inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, all without you having to think about it.)  And reality – concrete reality – exists, therefore truth must exist.  And that truth comes from the One Who is Truth Himself: God.

2 “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord?” – Psalms 14:2-4 (ESV)

The Hebrew word translated here as “understand” is śākal, which basically means to intelligently consider – or, thus, to reason.  If you think about it, it is only reasonable to figure out that God exists, that He is in control of all, and that we had all better be seeking Him. 

Look at verse 4 above.  “Have they no knowledge?” can be translated as “Are they blind?”  (Again, atheists, Bethesda – irony or God?  I know what I believe…)   To truly believe in no belief at all is the epitomy of blind ignorance.  Atheists cling to a faith in no faith.  How sad.  How unreasonable.

5 “There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. 6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge. 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.” – Psalms 14:5-7 (ESV)

Living a life that is true and reasonable requires faith in the God Who is Creator and Sustainer of all, who is Truth Himself (and, therefore, Existence Himself), who is Love Himself (for only Love in its purest could bear sinful humanity and, considering all the horrible things man does to his fellow man, we cannot – as a whole – bear one another and, therefore, do not possess the ability in an of ourselves to truly love anyone). 

There is no reason for atheists to claim they believe in liberty of belief yet want to deprive Christians of their rights in the process.  If, as an atheist, one chooses not to believe in God, that is their choice.  I wish it were not, but it is.  However, such a choice does not entitle them to try to take away the rights of Christians (which some have been systematically and legally trying to do since 1959).  And, Christians, don’t despair.  God will have the ultimate victory.  So will those who follow Him.

The simple truth is that our battle is not against atheists, “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).  We know all too well where the root of such non-belief in unbelief lies.  As Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV).  Robbing people of faith – the ultimate endgame of atheism – is spiritual larceny on a grand scale. 

Still, it is far better to be stronger in standing up for our faith in Christ, as opposed to standing against atheists.  We need to let God’s love shine through us, being merciful and kind – being salt and light.  Remember that dark cannot put out light, but light can certainly illuminate the life out of darkness, exposing the lie that it is. Now that is reasonable!

Source: (1) "reason." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 28 Jan. 2012. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reason>.

Just a Spoonful of Jelly…

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV).

This is for my Mamaw Day.  Praying you are up and around and feeling better soon.

Pills.  When I was a kid, I hated them.  When I was sick, I was all for the “bubble gum medicine” – that thick, pink liquid that looked like Pepto-Bismol but tasted like Bazooka Joe gum.  But pills… no thanks.  If one of them got caught in my esophagus or, worse yet, went down the wrong pipe and dropped straight into a lung… I shuddered to think of the medical consequences that could befall me at such a young age. 

Pills!  How could my doctor be so irresponsible?  The cure was certainly more dangerous than the disease!  Never mind that our cousin and I had seen my little brother swallow a marble without the least bit of gagging (even when our mom lifted him up by his feet and shook him – although his face was a little red from all the upside-down bobbing).  In fact, he passed the marble the next day without incident.  (Ask Mom.  She’s the one who had the unpleasant task of insuring the little glass orb successfully completed it’s digestive voyage.  Ah, the joys of parenting…)

(Mom, if you’re reading this… he acted of his own volition and was goaded in no way at all into performing such a dangerous act.  We were in no way accomplices in the whole episode.  In fact, we begged him not to do it!)

(Matt, my dear brother, if you are reading this… sorry to throw you under the bus like that.  I love you.  It’s all in fun!  And I didn’t even mention Mamaw’s candy dish, which I will now take my fair 10% share of the blame for breaking.  [Just kidding!])

If not for my grandmother, I might never have taken a pill in all my life.  My throat would perhaps, to this day, pucker up and seal off any foreign intruders at the merest mention of the word “aspirin.”  But, my Mamaw Day came up with the solution (and a simple one at that): jelly.

Grape jelly.

One spoonful of the delightful breakfast condiment with said pill tucked in its midst.  The jelly would act as a protective vehicle to fool my throat and carry the offending medicine safely and swiftly to my stomach.  It was a trick she had employed with her kids.  Now I got to be the grateful beneficiary of such wonderful grandmotherly wisdom.

There is something about gratitude that can make even the bitterest pill easier to swallow.  Gratitude – thankfulness – changes our perspective considerably.  We need to realize that we are who we are, where we are when we are, and our circumstances are what they are because of the Lord’s perfect will and plan for our lives.  When we see our lives are safely and securely in God’s hands and realize we have nothing – nothing – to fear or dread (after all, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” [Romans 8:28, ESV), then we can begin to live a life filled with gratitude for all God has done, is doing, and will do. 

True gratitude fixes our gaze off ourselves and onto our Creator and Savior.  It places Jesus squarely at the center of our lives.  Gratitude is the reflection of a heart that realizes, accepts and believes the forgiveness and peace offered by Christ.

And it makes even the worst, most painful, least pleasant events in (and aspects of) life far easier to take.

As an adult, I still immensely dislike taking pills.  But, knowing I am protected makes them far easier to swallow.  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1, ESV).

Freedom in Identity

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” – John 8:31-32 (ESV)

We are all no doubt familiar – at least somewhat – with the story of John Clayton, the Earl of Greystoke.  He and his parents ended up stuck on the coast of Africa.  His parents both soon died, and Clayton was taken in and raised by a tribe of apes.  John Clayton’s identity disappeared, replaced by his new primate identity: Tarzan. 

Tarzan thought he was an ape himself.  He acted like one.  He swung from trees, ate what the apes ate, acted as the apes acted… probably even ate bugs off the backs of the other apes.

Of course, Tarzan of the Apes is a fictional work by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  But, in reality, stories abound of puppies raised by cats (and vice-versa) who ultimately believe they are of the species that raised them, not the one that bore them.  In a sense, sin has done the same thing to our created identity.  Man was created to commune with God, to live in His pure and holy presence.

Then came the serpent.  And now we are separated from God, no longer enjoying the identity we were created with.  We identify with the world, identify with our sins (past and/or present), identify with our jobs… 

But, the truth is, our identity is found in Christ.  While I realize that is a phrase that has almost become a pat answer, a feel good line that we may not be able to completely identify with or even grasp the reality of, knowing who we really are – who Christ says we are – sets our record straight and puts our lives in the proper perspective.  It is amazing to discover just how free one is in Christ – set free and separated from the false identities we carry.

Simply, sin branded us with a new identity, that of a condemned person with no eternal hope.  How often do we wallow in the mud of our self-pity and doubt and misery because we just can’t seem to get past some event, some sin, some ill-uttered word in our lives.  Someone referred to us as a failure, or worthless, or unable, or inferior.  Someone won’t let us let go of our pasts, our sins, our regretful words and deeds. 

Maybe that someone close to you, someone you love and respect.

Maybe that someone is you. 

We buy the lie hook, line and sinker that who we were defines who we truly are.  Once we become Christians – believing, professing, seeking His kingdom first, walking in the light of Christ, abiding in His Word – all of that old junk is buried.




Once we believe – truly believe in God through Jesus Christ – the old is cast away, the new comes in.  Our identity is now that of God’s beloved, forgiven, justified child, on the road to sanctification.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)

The use of the word “slavery” in Scripture is a point that may require some clarity.  Because of the United States’ 19th century history, we tend to place certain race-based connotations on the notion of slavery.  While that sad, barbaric practice is truly slavery, the term “slave” in the Bible refers more to an indentured servant – one who had a debt they couldn’t pay, so they worked it off.

“Indentured servant” is a more accurate description of the human condition.  Sin is a debt we can never repay.  We can’t even work it off.  The debt of sin makes paying off a maxed-out credit card look like a cakewalk.  The only way to get out from under the heavy burden of our trespass is to accept the once-and-for-all payment made on the cross by Jesus Christ – perfect, sinless, God-incarnate, dying a gruesome and undeserved execution for our salvation. 

It’s like Bob Dylan used to sing, you’re gonna have to serve somebody: the devil or the Lord.  In John 8, Jesus makes it clear.  Follow His Word (as opposed to the Law) – in other words, accept the free gift of salvation through the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ – and therein find freedom from sin and the identity thereof.  While we may profess one thing, our actions will ultimately betray us.  We will be exposed as either children of God or children of the devil.  God doesn’t work in shades of gray.  He is black and white.  Take Him or leave Him entirely. 

If you are following Jesus and seeking His Will in your life, wonderful!  Your identity is found in the freedom He has given you.  Your chains have been broken, your sin removed, your identity forever changed through adoption.  Like every adopted child, the day comes when you realize your identity hasn’t always been what you thought it was.  But, take heart.  Accept it.  Understand that you are now a child of the Living God, Creator and Sustainer of All Creation.  Including you.

This means you have nothing to fear.

This means you have nothing to dread.

This means you have the opportunity to turn around and follow Christ.

This means you are a child of God, no longer owing the non-repayable debt of sin.  Your account has been cleared.

And, by the way, in case you were curious…  Tarzan found his true identity again as well.  Twenty years after he was abandoned in Africa, Jane arrived – under amazingly similar circumstances (even landing at the same spot as the Claytons.)  Through Jane, the “Christ-figure” of the story, Tarzan discovers he has believed a lie almost all of his life: that he is an ape.  He discovers he is human.  And, not only that, a human of royal descent. 

As are you.

And now you know the rest of the story.  (Wow… that was a real Paul Harvey moment!)

Good day!

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New!

I am amazed at just how much stuff three people can accumulate.  Over the weekend, we picked back up on a huge de-cluttering project we started months ago.  Bags of trash are off to the dump, and boxes of usable goods will be heading to Goodwill.  We are simplifying and ridding ourselves of the chaos and disarray that clutters our home.

If we think about it, life is no different.  We can make ourselves miserable, bitter, anxious, depressed, by hanging on too tightly to the wrong things: past mistakes, sins, regrets, feelings of unworthiness or uselessness, pain, anger, worries…

Do you want to know the trick to having a blessed 2012?  It’s no real secret.  It’s not found in resolutions.  It is found in the simple act of bagging up the garbage in your life and tossing it out.  Now is the time to let go of the trash that traps us and walk out our lives in the light of the freedom we find in Jesus Christ.

Are you hanging on to some sin you committed, held back by the belief that what you once did defines who you are?  Let it go! 

Consider this:

1.  …Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2  Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” – John 8:1-11 (ESV)

The judgmental ones were prepared to stone this woman for her sin, and try to trap Jesus in the deal as well.  But notice Jesus’ reaction to the Phaisees.  He nonchalantly stoops down, writes with his finger in the dirt, and turns the tables on those who seek judgment: let whoever is sinless and blameless cast the first stone.  Then he bends back down to write in the dirt some more.  Jesus was practically dismissive of the Jewish leaders.  Why?  They were not the true authority.  Jesus is! 

And how did Jesus deal with the woman?  Did He berate her?  Did He read her the riot act for her adulterous behavior?  Nope.  “I don’t condemn you.  Go sin no more.”  She was forgiven.  The slate wiped clean.  So, whatever it is that is keeping you from moving forward in discipleship, holding you back from serving or worshipping or life in general… let it go!  Toss it out. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:1-8 (ESV)

Now is the time to prayerfully change your mind, your outlook.  “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2, ESV).  “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34, ESV).

What is troubling you today?  Is it worries about what the future may bring?  Is it condemnation (self –inflicted or otherwise) holding you down?  Is it a sin you just can’t seem to break?  Today is the day.  Now is the time.  Bag it up. Haul it out.  Toss it. 

6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11  To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV)

God is in control, not you.  Go to Jesus with your troubles and doubts, fears and pains.  Love.  Forgive.  Experience the freedom of Christ.  Don’t take your junk to the Goodwill.  They don’t need it.  Rid yourself of it by running to Jesus and casting it off.

25  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)

Amen!  Happy New Year!  You are loved.