Existence

Searching for the truth about this question requires strategies that are somewhat similar to how you have understood other things that you cannot see. You cannot see the wind, but you have seen what the wind can do, and you draw reasonable conclusions. You cannot see other people’s thoughts, but you take their words and actions as clues. Looking for proof that God exists is not the kind of search that involves test tubes. It more closely resembles the approach used in a criminal investigation, and therefore is called a “forensic” method. In this approach, evidence is collected and weighed, and then a judgment call is made. This call is an act of faith, based on reasons. Those who accept the existence of God may not be able to give a proof that will convince everyone, but their faith is not “blind” faith. It is possible to find out their “reasons.” May you have success as you weigh the following reasons in your search for truth.

I.THE CLASSICAL REASONS.  These approaches were used by early Greek philosophers.

1) THE FIRST CAUSE.  Everything must have a cause, so there had to be something that caused all the rest. The Bible admits that it is “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Some prefer to say that they prefer to live by fact, not faith, but every alternative statement about the origin of the universe is also a statement of faith. See the book How Reason can Lead to God.

2 ) THE UNMOVED MOVER.  Nothing can move unless something else sets it in motion.  Something had to set the very first thing in motion.  (See more background about philosophy)

II. SOCIOLOGICAL REASONS

1) A UNIVERSAL PHENOMENON.  People all around the world in many different cultures recognize that there must be a God. This craving to relate to some higher purpose is so widespread, that even those who do not think there could be a god often take some other aspect of life and turn it into their higher purpose. For some that would be a sense of duty. There are others who attach a religious-type authority to science.

2) UNIVERSAL ETHICS.  People around the world have a sense of right and wrong.  Therefore there must be a source for this, and an ultimate standard for it.  Whenever you say that something is unjust, you must be comparing it with some standard.  The fact that all people around the world have a sense that some things are just and others are unjust suggests the possibility that there is a God who has implanted this standard.

III. INNER FEELINGS

1) CRAVING FOR LOVE.  Since we all need love, there must be an ultimate source of love that gave us this craving and who alone can fill it.  (By comparison, it would not make sense for people to have a feeling of hunger if there was not such as thing as food that can satisfy that craving). That’s why it is significant that when the Bible describes God, it stresses that God is love. Since we are creative, can love, and feel compassion, how could we assume that the power that brought us into being would not have those qualities?

2) CRAVING FOR JUSTICE.  Since the evil of this world cries out for justice, there must be someone who will punish evil and set things straight.  Realizing that God will deal justly by punishing evil helps us to accept a God who would judge the world, and do it justly.  Who would not want evil to be punished? The God revealed in the Bible though extends grace and forgiveness to those who deserve to be punished. God came to earth as a savior, Jesus, and the Bible says about that savior “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). God can therefore be fully just, because he sees to it that evil deeds receive their due punishment by being borne by Jesus, and God is also fully love, because God loved the world so that he sent that savior to perform that act of substitution for us, for Jesus said about himself that he “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

3) BRAIN IS WIRED.  Research shows that our brain is wired to have religious experiences. Here is a sampling of what neuroscience is finding.

4) MEANING IN LIFE. If there is a God who created you, it would make sense that life would be more fulfilling if lived in recognition and harmony with that being. The scientist Blaise Pascal spoke of a “god-shaped vacuum” in people that can only be filled with God. Knowing and filling one’s place in the cosmos, as a creature under a creator, brings peace and fulfillment. Believing that God has placed us where we are because he wants to extend love and care to others through us brings meaning to whatever situation we are in. Knowing that God is all-wise as well as all-loving enables us to accept His will when it is not the same as our will, when our prayers are responded to with a “no,” or when we suffer loss.

5) SECURITY. This world is precarious and ever-changing, so believers look to God as the only One that is dependable. Some of life’s “undependable” situation is due to how God made the earth: it constantly renews itself with plate movements and volcanoes, and sometimes we are affected by them. Some is because life forms are in competition: our bodies have marvelous defense mechanisms against bacteria and viruses, but sometimes those defenses are overcome. Some is because our bodies are constructed to have a life-span; that makes God’s promise of eternal life more precious. Some is because evil exists and those motivated by it might do us harm. Some is because the supernatural realm includes not only God but other creatures that are in rebellion against God and desire to bring harm to His creation. In this precarious world, how can we carry on living each day without depending on God as the One who never changes and never stops caring?

IV. RATIONAL DISCUSSIONS

1) GOD AND SCIENCE.  Some people are wary of accepting the possibility of the existence of God because they want to base their position on facts, not faith. It is helpful to realize that typically investigations done by humans involve both fact and faith. Religion does involve some facts, and science does involve some presuppositions that are taken by faith. Scientific conclusions are constantly changing, and science can never know when a new observation will turn up that will challenge previous conclusions, so science can not be an unchanging firm basis to build one’s life on. Moreover, the challenge that scientists set for themselves is to seek for natural causes for natural occurrences. Science does not claim to either prove or disprove the supernatural. Therefore it is not irrational for someone to accept both science and God. Statistics shows that only ten percent of Nobel prize winners are atheists. It is not a rejection of science to believe that there is a God underlying natural processes. For such people, the more details that are uncovered by scientific investigation, the more these people express awe and appreciation of the wisdom of God. See more on Science and Faith

2) ALL BELIEVE IN SOMETHING. Talking about God is less daunting if you assume that most people already have something that is functioning as a “god” for them: their “god” is that to which they owe their ultimate allegiance, that to which they turn to for security and meaning when all else fails. It may be themselves. They could ask themselves whether their object of trust has ever let them down. The God who sent Jesus does not let us down, for “if He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not grant us all things with Him?” (Romans 8:32)  Enjoy this article by Dan Foster stating “Atheism is Not an Option.”

V. PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.
1) VERBAL COMMUNICATION. Some people report messages and visions that they attribute to God. The Bible records that God spoke to Abraham, making a covenant to protect his descendants, to Moses, providing him with the Ten Commandments, and to numerous prophets who wrote down the messages they had received.

2) MIRACULOUS EVENTS. Some people experience healings or deliverance from danger and attribute them to God. The Bible records many healings and miracles, the most foundational being the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and the opening up of the Red Sea enabling them to evade the Egyptian army. While some are skeptical of these reports, for those who have had these personal experiences, the question of God’s existence is settled. Those seeking truth are right to take these thousands of years of experiences into account.

VI. CHRIST AS EVIDENCE OF GOD

The Bible admits that, “No one has seen God at any time …”
But that verse continues with this statement:
“but the only begotten God (ie, Jesus), who is closely joined to the Father, has made Him known.” (John 1:18)

This means that Jesus, who could be seen, made the unseen God known to people by his words and actions. Most notably, when Jesus died on the cross to pay for sins, he made the loving heart of God known to us.

God had begun to reveal Himself even before Jesus came to earth, according to this quote: “God has spoken to our fathers by the prophets, but now in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son … who is the radiance of His glory and the exact expression of His substance” (Hebrews 1:1-3). That word “radiance” suggests a comparison with the sun.

Do you believe in the existence of the sun? No space ships have yet landed on it, so the main reason we know there is a sun is because of the sunrays that it sends forth. They are made of the same substance as the sun. I have not run into anyone who doubts the existence of the sun, even though all we have are its rays.

In a similar way, Jesus is of the same substance as God the Father, and was sent forth from Him. In fact, Jesus said, “anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  As we tell people what Jesus said and did, we are introducing God to them. When Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, he was demonstrating that he, as God, is creator. When he appeared to his followers after he had been killed, he demonstrated that he, as God, was worthy of trust, for he had said that he would be killed but afterward rise from the dead. When he raised Lazarus from the dead, he demonstrated that he can also raise us from the dead. God is our trustworthy creator, and Jesus demonstrated that to us. Jesus’ historical time on earth is finished, but those who belong  to him and continue His mission are motivated by Him to acts of loving service, and these acts are evidence that God is still at work today. Jesus has the characteristics of God, and is building those characteristics in us, as Romans 8:29 declares: “God has decided to transform you into the image of His son.” Finding the truth about God can lead you to a transformed life.

VII. STEP BY STEP QUESTIONS
Those searching for the truth about God might consider questions like these:
Step 1. Are you sure there could not be a supernatural?
Step 2. Are you sure people have not been contacted by the supernatural?
Step 3. Are you sure you don’t need help beyond your own strength?
Step 4. Are you clear on what each world religion’s concept of God is? See World Religions
Step 5. Are you sure your search for truth is free from concern that if God were real He might  tell you that something you are doing is against His will, and you might need to face changing?
Step 6. Are you sure your search for truth is not clouded by not wanting to associate with people that you look down on, or people who don’t practice what they preach?
Step 7. Are you sure your search for truth is not clouded by the concern that if God is real, then other people you know may have been wrong?
Step 8. Are you sure Jesus did not rise from the dead? Do you think people who were committed to the oneness of God could have accepted Jesus as God unless they had seen Jesus appearing alive to them after he had been killed?
Step 9. Is it possible that some people have changed for the better by turning toward God?
Step 10. Are you willing to ask God whether He is real?

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Christmas 2020

At just the right time, God sent His Son to free us from the penalty of our sin and adopt us as His very own.  (from Galatians 4:4-5)

God’s timing is always perfect, but in 2020 we found out that ours is not, as many things we planned would happen actually DIDN’T.

For instance, we DIDN’T get to:

Host a group of students from Taiwan.
  Attend our grandson Joseph’s wedding in Wisconsin.
    Enjoy visiting great-grand daughter Lillyana in Minnesota.
       Follow through on carefully-made plans for church family camping.
Make trips to Rocky Mountain Park without a reservation.

But, on the positive side, we also DIDN’T:
Get covid 19.
  Run out of toilet paper, or peanut butter.
    Miss hosting grand-daughters Sarah and Rachel (and their husbands), 
      who did find places to hike despite the forest fires.
         Miss camping trips (6) to Wyoming.
           Miss out on church and small group Bible studies (thanks to Zoom).

Think about the life of Jesus:

2000 years ago the wise men DIDN’T return to Herod’s palace to help him find Jesus, so 
Herod DIDN’T succeed in including him in his slaughter of infants.
Jesus DIDN’T yield to the devil’s temptations but willingly offered his life on the cross, suffering the punishment that we deserved.

Sometimes what DIDN’T happen turned out to be God’s plan after all —

We can make our plans, but we do not know what will happen. What we  should say is “if the Lord wills” we will live and do this or that. (James 3:14-15).

Our year reminds us that we really are not in control and  that our times are in God’s hands. This is a good thing: humbling and yet comforting. We can trust the One who IS in control, and know that His plan for our lives is perfect.

May God bless you and keep you close to Him.

Jim and Sue Found

I have added an article about the origins of Christmas Carols to my website: https://foundbytes.com/carol-stories/

               Other pages new this year are:

Backgrounds of Bible terms:  https://foundbytes.com/bible-terms/

How Christians use the Old Testament: https://foundbytes.com/tanakh/

You can get to the main menu of my website from any page by clicking on the site name, Personal Growth Resources,  at the top of every page. You can also search for topics. If a search box does not automatically appear at the top of the page, you can get it by clicking  on the three horizontal line at the upper right. Here is our Personal Information page

Programs

For senior groups and other church groups
Contact Jim Found to arrange a date and time

Stories Behind the Well-Known Christmas Songs
The program length can be easily adapted to your time available, because you can select a greater or lesser number of songs. These are interesting stories about the writers of the words and the composers of the music, leaving us in awe at their dedication and inspiration.

Major characters of the Reformation
30 key people are introduced, with a thumbnail sketch of each one. With pictures. The script has additional characters for further breadth.

God’s Care Seen in the Wonders of Grass
God uses grass to show his glory, and also to give us lessons for life. With pictures.

Denominations – where did they all come from?
Why the major groups split from one another, and why they continue to do so. A summary is found at https://foundbytes.com/denominations/

World religions – their hopes and how they achieve them.
An overview of the major groups, with emphasis on their expectation of salvation and what they trust in to reach it. How to explain Christ to people of the various religions. A summary is found at https://foundbytes.com/mosaic/

Witnessing – Sharing Your Faith Naturally in Conversation
How to overcome the blockades that come up when a door opens to talk about faith in Christ. How to start conversations based on your friend’s needs. How to answer common objections. The main concepts are shown at https://foundbytes.com/how-to-guide/  You can also see the main points on youtube: https://foundbytes.com/video-guides/

Sunday Morning Worship – Why do we do it this way?
The original intent of the various parts of the service, and implications for worship planning that carries out this original intent. A description is found at https://foundbytes.com/sunday-worship/

Christian Music – from ancient hymns to today’s praise songs.
The story of the church told through its hymns. Appreciating the hymnal for providing songs from many different denominations. Anthems and their uses. Art music in Christ’s service: oratorios and cantatas.

Missions Today – from a missionary’s perspective
Jim and Sue share about their experiences on Taiwan, and what they learned about missions in the world today.

FOR USE IN SCHOOL CLASSROOMS

How Rocks come from Atoms
Each student puts Magnets together that represent Silicon, Oxygen, and other elements, and then the minerals that result from that combination are passed around.

Reading Chinese in English Letters
Students in groups of 4 read the inter-active activities to one another and soon can read the names found in the newspapers and in their geography books. Try it at https://foundbytes.com/readchinese/

World History on One Page
The students create a time-line with various-shaped rectangles showing how empires appeared and replaced other empires. Great for the end of a unit on world history. See it on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn8K24GwuDM

Info about the author and his email
go to home page

ml 14 re entry

From KB, 2004, From interview with Mr. and Mrs. B.

People are not in awe of you when you come back to US because of your mission time. Relationships with people are different, especially with the people you once may have been close to.  People have lived without you and have gone on while you were out of the country, so things will be different.

  • From the book Stepping Out

You change dramatically while being overseas.No one else can share your experiences at your level of intensity, and this can get frustrating when you feel that others don’t understand you and what you’ve been through. You feel you have changed, but may feel yourself slipping back into old habits. You may be disappointed with other Christians upon returning home, thinking that they should be acting differently because of all that you have been through.

Suggestions:

Integrate your experience into every aspect of your life.

Be aware of your frustrations and find someone to talk to if you need that

 

From Interview with WF and FF:
When they returned to the United States, people were on the streets asking them for money.  It wasn’t the America they had left and they didn’t know how to do things in the US anymore.

I had a friend who spent a summer in Africa on a mission trip and when she returned home was sickened by what she saw.  She couldn’t go to a grocery store, because she saw the rows and rows of food that we had.  She had seen the other end of the spectrum, with hardly any food.  Plus she had a hard time with people’s attitudes and how they may not even care about the plenty of food that they had available.  KW

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