Can you ‘prove’ that God is there?

What would you do if someone asked you, “Can you prove to me that God is there?” There could be some different responses that you could give that would be a good way to answer that question. Here is one way, “Can you prove that this conversation is taking place?” That response may appear at first glance to be outrageous. You may say, “Of course we know that this conversation is taking place.” But there is the difference. We do indeed “know” when we are having a conversation, but can we “prove” it? If you and I could have a conversation we would know that it was happening, and to say that we couldn’t know for sure that it was happening would be outrageous. We know when we are talking to someone. But to “prove” it is different (I am using “prove” in a more scientific way, so to speak).

Isn’t it possible that the “conversation” that you are having is a dream or an illusion? Even the computer you may be using to read this, the building you may be sitting in, what if it all was a dream? Haven’t you had dreams before that seemed very real? Can you really trust your five senses? In actuality we can prove very little. But we can know many things. Someone may ask you, “Can you prove that God is there? Can you prove that the Bible is the Word of God?” You could respond, “Prove? Maybe not. Know? Yes.” This can be a great truth to have when someone comes to you with questions like these, or when you face satanic opposition as a Christian.

We know God is there. We know that we must give an account of our life one day. And we know that we need His forgiveness.

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Should Parents Break the “Will” of their Child?

Should parents break the “will” of their child? If by “will” we mean simply the personality, then no. But, if we mean that the child’s “will” is broke in that when the parent wants the child to do something other than what the child wants to do, the child obeys the parent’s will and not his own, then yes.

Here is a great quote from John Wesley on raising children from the sermon On The Education Of Children:

A wise parent, on the other hand, should begin to break their will the first moment it appears. In the whole art of Christian education there is nothing more important than this. The will of a parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God. Therefore studiously teach them to submit to this while they are children, that they may be ready to submit to his will when they are men.

I don’t think at all that he is saying each child should have the same personality. No, but he is saying each child must be taught to submit and obey the will of their parents and this will instruct them to be ready to obey and submit to God when they are older.

The Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). Children will never do this unless the parent lovingly, yet firmly, breaks their wills.

But this concept shouldn’t seem strange to us because unless our wills are broken before God we will never be saved ourselves. The only way we will come to know God through Jesus Christ is if our wills have been broken to do what God wants us to do. And a great starting point to this, as John Wesley said, is to break the child’s will so he obeys and submits to his parents. If we know these things, then love should compel us to do this for our children.

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A Proverb for Pharaoh – and for Us

Despite the obvious reality that his resistance to God’s will would lead only to hardship and destruction for himself, his people, and his land, Pharaoh refused to listen to God’s voice spoken through Moses and Aaron. The foolishness of this course was so obvious that Pharaoh’s own advisers exclaimed to him, “Do you not know that Egypt is destroyed?” (Exodus 10:7).

The obstinacy of Pharaoh reminds me of a proverb, though it is found in the book of Psalms rather than the book of Proverbs:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. (Psalm 32:8–9)

How often are we like irrational brutes, only ready to listen to God when forced to do so through pain and punishment! Wisdom would teach us to hearken to God’s voice without such “persuasive” means being necessary.

With my children, I delight when I see they want to follow what I have taught them for the sake of the fact that it is good and true or even just because they want to please me, rather than that they merely fear the rod. This is what God, too, desires of us, and why would we do otherwise?

Let us make it a point in our lives to seek out God’s will and do it before the circumstances of life require it of us due to difficulty sent to bring us back into line.

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Satisfied with Life

One thing I know: If I serve the Lord faithfully and fervently with my life, I will be satisfied at the end of it no matter how “successful” or “unsuccessful” I have been in other realms.

At the same time, no matter how much I gain and how well I do in those other areas, all will be as nothing at the end of my days if I have not served the Lord.

So how will this obvious and basic truth control my life this day, today, right now?

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An Episode from the Life of Moses

God’s word testifies on Moses’ behalf that he is the “meekest” or “humblest” man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). There are so many things to look at and learn from in his life, but amidst his obvious faith, boldness, etc. (though mixed with weakness), his testimony as being humble and meek always stands out to me.

This humility is emphasized in Numbers 12 during the time when Moses’ authority as the God-appointed leader of Israel was challenged (by his own brother and sister, no less). He did not defend himself or his authority, but left it entirely in God’s hands, who certainly did defend him.

Moses’ handling of that situation certainly merits our admiration and attention, but another episode in his life has caught my attention of late, and I believe that it too stems ultimately from his meekness and humility.

When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “Why have you come back so soon today?” So they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.” (Exodus 2:15–20)

Now picture Moses here in this situation. He is just arrived as a stranger in a new land, fleeing for his life from the land of Egypt. While he probably was at the well because he needed water, he was likely also hoping to go somewhat unnoticed in his flight. He certainly was not wanting to draw large amounts of attention to himself and be at the center of controversy and uproar. Or so it seems to me, at least.

Nonetheless, when Moses sees these shepherd women being driven away by the shepherd men, his righteous indignation is aroused. He feels that he must arise and help these women who are being mistreated and abused by those who are simply stronger than they are. And so that is exactly what he does. He defends these who cannot defend themselves. He stands against the uncaring abuse of them by those who care nothing for gentleness and kindness.

This concern for the poor and oppressed ultimately characterizes the life of Moses, doesn’t it? We know that his great calling in life was to free the people of Israel from slavery and bring them into covenant with God, of course, but do we see how this all starts with his heartfelt concern for the oppressed? When he went out to see his people while living in Egypt, it was the sight of the Egyptian beating the Hebrew that aroused him to action. The next day it was the same concern for the oppressed that moved him to intervene between two Hebrews in a dispute.

While those interventions might be attributed to a simple feeling of connectedness with “his” people, how are we to explain his concern for these Midianite shepherdesses? Moses was characterized by a heartfelt compassion for those who were oppressed. And though the “Law of Moses” was in a truer sense God’s law and not his, I still find it very appropriate that he was the channel through which would come a law so full of emphasis on caring for the poor and needy. This was truly one of the great moral elements of the Mosaic Law.

And it remains as much as ever a part of Christian teaching and character today under the New Covenant. James tells us that “pure and undefiled religion” is “to visit orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). The context has changed from a society ruled by God’s law (Old Testament Israel), so we as Christians do not have the authority to control the rules of society according to the principles of mercy and compassion and care for the needy, but still we are to be active in caring for the oppressed in whatever way that we can.

And this does not necessarily mean doing grand things such as Moses did. That may be a part of God’s plan for you. He may have something great like that for you to undertake. But for most of us, we will simply be led to help and show compassion to individuals or families on a small scale who need someone to reach out and care for them. We ought to be on the lookout for such needs and do what we can to meet them. The sight of someone being taken advantage of because of their position of weakness ought to stir us up inside so that we must act on their behalf.

It amazes me that Moses could be attacked and opposed personally without feeling the need to defend himself, but at the same time he could not stand by idly and watch others receive abuse without doing something about it. This is where his humility and meekness shows itself. We are too often the exact opposite, aren’t we? We might feel badly for someone being mistreated, but not have the courage or gumption to do anything. But let someone take the same actions against us ourselves, and see if we don’t find the courage to stand up and defend our own rights. Not so with Moses. He cared for the other more than for himself, and this is the heart of true Christian character and Christlikeness.

Christ, too, was the meekest and gentlest of men. He was led to the slaughter silent as a lamb, though he knew exactly what was taking place. He never spoke up in his own defense while facing trial, reproach, slander, and death. But He was not slow to stand against the proud hypocrites who used their power to “devour widows’ houses” (Luke 20:47).

So how much do we care for the oppressed compared to our own rights when mistreated? That will tell us a lot about how much we have learned from Jesus, won’t it? Even as I write these words, I find the need to examine my own spirit in these matters. I imagine that you can understand that need as well.

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“Let Us Make for Ourselves a Name”

The story of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) always stands out to me when I read it, but not for the reasons that perhaps most of us remember the story. We know that it is the occasion on which God confounded all the language of mankind so that they could not understand one another, resulting in their scattering to different places with their various new tongues and speech. This is certainly an interesting point of history, but the main lessons of this story have quite a different focus.

I think the statement that is at the heart of what this story is really all about is what one man says to his neighbor in verse 4 of the chapter:

“Let us make for ourselves a name.”

Here you have the sinful attitude of mankind revealed. What is wrong with building a grand city and tower? Perhaps we might first think and say that there is nothing wrong with this at all, and that might be correct in and of itself. But looking at the motive (which is always of essential significance in evaluating our hearts) of these men, we see immediately that they are seeking glory and honor and repute for themselves. This is inherently wrong.

And yet, doesn’t this spirit touch home a bit in your own heart and life? I know that it does too much in my own. Too often I think about building some sort of reputation for myself, and I bet that you do as well. Especially when you realize that this doesn’t have to come in some grandiose form of seeking national fame or anything like that (though it might). We can have the same self-centered motive in any of our more humble realms, such as in our workplace or field of industry, our family (immediate or broad), our circle of friends and acquaintances, the city or town in which we live, or within our church body. You can add any other realm that you are a part of. It is too easy to want to be respected and thought well of and known for something. This is a danger that I imagine we are all prone to, even if it be to various degrees.

We ought to examine our motives at all times to see if this spirit of pride is intermixed in our intentions. By God’s grace, we must ask His help to purify our hearts and do all that we do, not for ourselves, but for His name and kingdom. To God alone should all glory be, for He alone is worthy. I imagine you will agree with those words, but let us seek to practice that truth more wholly.

One related observation from the story of the tower of Babel is how the actions of these builders contradicted so plainly God’s intentions for them. God had instructed mankind to spread out and fill the whole earth. This was God’s plan for man, but these builders had intentionally decided to rebel against that directive. In similar vein to their statement we previously noted, they also continued to explain their intentions not to follow God’s plan:

“Let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

So there you have it, they are directly and intentionally setting themselves against God’s direct commands for their lives. These twin aspects of their attitude – seeking self-glory and rebelling against God’s will – are inseparable partners. How often do we exemplify that spirit?

Now, I didn’t have it in my mind when I began writing this blog, but I feel that I must take note of the comparison here between this passage and a common practice in today’s world. The command under examination here in this story is that to multiply and spread out to fill the earth. In place of wanting to fulfill this purpose, man chose to build his own kingdom.

Do we not so often do the same today when we prefer our careers and such over the building of our families? Why do mothers choose to work in jobs and careers outside of the home and, unavoidably, choose not to have very many children today? This is a radical departure from God’s plan. The same goes for fathers, as well, though to a lesser extent, perhaps. They too often focus more on their career than on raising a family, to be sure.

In the end, I cannot help but see the choice to have no or few children as a rebellion against God’s direction and command for all men to multiply and fill the earth. If this was a primary concern to us, rather than the building up of a name for ourselves through establishment, reputation, wealth, success, etc., mothers would forego the pursuing of careers in favor of having children according to God’s wise and loving granting of them. Fathers would focus more on raising a family than on their career trajectory, and together, couples would gladly choose to have as many children as God gives them. This is God’s natural plan, and I pray that you will consider whether it is not a matter of loving, joyful submission (or rebellion in the opposite case) to follow it with a willing heart.

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A Starting Point for Truth

A Starting Point for Truth

I hope that everyone who reads this is honest enough and sensible enough to admit the obvious: We should think about life and its meaning. Now, admitting this is one thing, but actually taking the time and putting forth the energy to do so is another. But shouldn’t that come pretty naturally? The meaning of life is one of those great mysteries that draws every mind to itself. It is a sad picture indeed if a person doesn’t have an interest in learning the truth about life. I trust you are not that sort of person.

To whom do we owe our lives?

So, now that we are agreed to think about life together, let me propose a starting question:

To whom do we owe our lives?

You could ask this same question different ways: Where do we come from? Who created us? Who gave us life? I have asked it the way I have for a reason, though. I intend to draw out the point that wherever our life comes from, we have an immense debt of gratitude that we owe to its source.

Have you considered that fact? If someone has given you your very existence, how much do you figure that you owe them? Thankfulness at the very least.

We didn’t create ourselves

Now, in case you are not sure about what I am saying so far, perhaps you should ask yourself whether you were the source of your own life. Did you create yourself? Of course not. We all know better than that, so we are left to say that our lives were given to us from somewhere else. But from where?

From Our Parents?

There is one obvious potential answer to the question. We might quickly say that we owe our lives to our parents, and there would definitely be some important truth in that fact. No doubt, we all owe much to our parents, and it is one of the great crimes of life to forget what we owe them, neglecting to honor and respect them as we should. We have all done wrong in this way, haven’t we?

But at the same time, while our parents are responsible for the physical act that brought life, who would claim to have the power to create the true life that is ours. There is all the world of difference between a physical body and the living being that is inside each of us. We can’t bring anything to life by our powers, and this includes bringing a life into existence from nothing.

I could never with any honesty claim to be the true creator of the lives of my children. I know that something far greater has taken place than anything I have the power to do.

The Bible’s Answer: Life Comes from God

Now, you may or may not believe that the Bible is God’s truth, but regardless of that, let me present to your thoughts the Bible’s simple explanation for the source of life: God. The Bible teaches that God is the original creator of life on earth as well as the creator and sustainer of each individual life – that is, of both your life and my life. Not only did God make the first man on earth, but He also gave life to me when I was born and life to you when you came into existence. God alone has the power to create life. No man with any sense would claim to have that power.  It is divine.

You may or may not be convinced of that fact at this moment. I don’t know. But I urge you to recognize that you have a deep obligation to seek out the truth about who you owe your life to. If you take that obligation seriously at all, your search will lead you to the truth. I am convinced of that. If you say to yourself instead that you have no need or duty to find out who gave you the most precious thing that you have (your very existence), then one day you will be called to account for such an ungrateful heart. I hope and pray that you will not take such a path. Stop today, and think about your life. You owe it all to someone. You better try to find out who.

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