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How long can you live without water? I asked this question several years ago while caught up in a moment of fitness zeal. During one of my cyclical attempts to adopt a new food lifestyle to compliment a new workout routine, I read a book called Your Body’s Many Cries For Water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj.

Along with physical activity, nutrition, and sleep, I learned about one of the most important ingredients to staying healthy:

  • Hydration

Hungry, or Thirsty?

We all know that we can’t live without water. We can only survive a few days without water in extreme conditions. During some special forces training, candidates can fail an exercise for becoming dehydrated, and if I’m dehydrated before a flight, I can’t fight a good jet.

But you also can’t live well without water. Sometimes we don’t remember how badly our body needs water until we are desperately thirsty.

Dr. Batmanghelidj explains how one of our body’s adaptive processes allows us to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to one of the main contributors to obesity and other health problems:

They seem to respond to both calls–thirst and hunger–as if they are only hungry. They begin to eat until the thirst sensation gathers greater strength as a result of the additional load of solid food within the system, and only then do they drink some water. This type of thirst satisfaction is not enough for the urgent needs of the body, but is just enough to fall inside the body’s limit of temporary adaptation to water shortage.1

In other words, failing to realize we are thirsty causes problems.

Another Thirst

As our body thirsts for water, our souls thirst for God. Failing to recognize this thirst causes problems, too.

But God offers us different water–living water–whereupon drinking of it we will never be thirsty again.

How long can we live without living water? It’s kind of a trick question: we’re not really living–at least not as we were intended to live. As we are dead without water, without living water we are dead in our sins.

But but our bodies tell us when it needs water, and Dr. Batmanghelidj lists several perceptive feelings he believes signal dehydration:

  • Feeling tired without a plausible reason
  • Feeling flushed
  • Feeling irritable and unreasonably short-tempered
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling dejected and inadquate
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling heavy-headed
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Anger and quick temper
  • Unreasonable impatience
  • Short attention span
  • Shortness of breath in an otherwise healthy person
  • Cravings for manufactured beverages such as coffee, tea, sodas, and alcoholic drinks
  • Dreaming of oceans, rivers, or other bodies of water2

You might be surprised to learn that a “dry mouth” is one of the last signs of dehydration.

If we were made of water, and created from water, then it seems natural for us to need water and crave water.

If we are also made of a soul infused into us by a volitional, infinite being with which we can have a relationship, then it is also natural for us to need and crave that relationship.

Our souls give us signals that we are not complete:

  • Our desire for relationship
  • Our pursuit of the infinite
  • Our feeling of incompleteness
  • Our longing for ultimate justice
  • Our search for peace

God uses water analogies in the Bible to illustrate our need for he offers.

The Rich Man Cries for Water

We have been given a window of time to establish this relationship: the span of our life on earth.

In Luke Chapter 16, Lazarus, a poor beggar, dies and goes to heaven to be with the great patriarch Abraham. A rich man ends up in hell and begs for just a drop of water from the tip of Lazarus’ finger.

The rich man is told it is too late; all he can do is plead that his family be warned to avoid a similar fate.

Water is of no use to our body when we are dead. We can only accept the living water while we are alive.

King David cries for Water

In Samuel Chapter 2, King David is hunkered down from the Philistines in a cave in Abdullah and yearns for a cup of water a familiar well at Bethlehem. Three of his greatest men overhear his wish and infiltrate enemy lines to retrieve the water. When David learns of their dangerous mission, he pours the water on the ground in a poignant display of leadership:

“Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?”

He could not drink the prize of men who risked their lives while he offered nothing but to quench his own thirst. David recognized the importance of a principle over his own comfort.

Water is important, but living water is more important.

Water Offered From the Throne

In the book of Revelation, John describes a new heaven and a new earth. He records the one seated on the throne as saying:

“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6, NIV).

He offered the same living water offered to the woman at the well in Samaria.

Failing to realize we need living water causes problems.

You’re not hungry; you’re thirsty. No matter how much of the world you eat up, your soul will never be full. You will become bloated with the fads of the day and the false promises of the New Spirituality.

You will stay sick.

How long can you live without water? It depends.

How long can you live without living water? You’re not.

How can you receive this living water? Investigate the person of Jesus Christ. In him you may find something you weren’t looking for, and never knew you needed–a life and a future you never imagined.

Is this world tasting a little dry?

Photo credit: Foter / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Related Briefs

1 F. Batmanghelidj, You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! Water for Health, for Healing, for Life (New York: Warner Books, Inc., 2003), Kindle ed., loc. 663.
2 Ibid., loc. 738-812.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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There is one big lie that’s stressing you out, and you probably started believing it early on. When I was in grade school, I couldn’t wait to learn cursive. There was something about the rapid scrawl of adult penmanship that blew my mind. I would sometimes scribble like a seismograph pretending I had already mastered the skill.

The Lie

After learning cursive, it lost its luster. I still don’t connect my lowercase “a”s at the top–they are a bridge too far, and “z”s frighten me.

Fast forward to a yard full of grass and a boy eager for responsibility. I asked my dad if he would let me mow the lawn for the first time. He agreed and I was excited. I must have shredded at least three sprinklers, but I got the job done. Shortly thereafter, it was just another chore.

But when you’re a kid, it seems like adults are having all the fun.

High school and college present more scenarios with endless opportunities and limited time. Whether it’s sports, music, or informal membership in the “in” club, it can seem like someone else is having all the fun.

Finally, in adulthood, if you’re not keeping up with the Joneses, following the trends, or staying out late on the weekends, it can seem like you’re missing out.

Much of our angst in life is caused by one big lie:

“You’re missing out on all the fun.”

Sometimes this is lie spoken by those who would like you on the bandwagon. Other times we tell it to ourselves. But the bandwagon isn’t always as it appears.

The Reality

Cursive wasn’t all is was cracked up to be, and mowing lawns is work.

Here is the reality about the Joneses:

  • They’re plagued with debt.
  • They are enslaved by trends.
  • Their late nights have come at a cost.

Believing the big lie makes you love a little bit less. It drains you of your joy and keeps you from having peace.

Believing the big lie creates an impatience which leads you to lose your self-control.

Believing the big lie can make you less kind to those walking their own path. It can lead you down a path away from goodness.

Believing the big lie can drive you to an aggressive pursuit of happiness that you will never attain. And while you faithfully give chase, your faithfulness will wane.

This is not good. While we think we are missing out on one thing, we are actually missing out on something else.

Missing Out on Contentedness

The fruit of the Spirit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (NIV).

The fruit of the Spirit is difficult to harvest if you’re buying into the big lie. It is enjoyed alongside a spirit of contentedness.

  • John the Baptist taught those coming to be baptized how to be content in Luke Chapter 3.
  • Paul preaches contentedness versus the love of money in 1 Timothy Chapter 6.
  • We are reminded to be content in Hebrews Chapter 13.

And Paul writes in his epistle to the Philippians:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).

We need to stop squirming around in search of greener grass. We need to stop trying to keep up with someone else’s life. You’re not missing out on all the fun; you’re missing out on your own life.

If green grass is in your future, God will lead you there, and he will take you down your own path.

The path could very well be a dirt road, and all Marines know “if it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’.” When it pours, we must learn how to be content in the mud.

We need to stop and listen to the voice speaking through the Psalmist:

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

Related Briefs

Photo credit: woodleywonderworks / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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Writers often use soundtracks for inspiration. Step number two of best-selling author Michael Hyatt’s article “7 Steps to Getting Unstuck and Becoming More Productive” is to put on some inspiring music.

I have a playlist loaded with soundtracks which create different moods for writing. Soundtracks like Hanz Zimmer’s Inception have massive themes creating a sense that your writing will have a massive impact.

Other soundtracks like Steve Jablonsky’s Ender’s Game capture the excitement and burden of being responsible for the fate of humanity.

And Jacob Yoffee’s Runaway soundtrack takes you away from the world you know and toward a place of both beauty and darkness.

But one of my recent soundtrack additions captures more than a mood; it might help you capture a truth about the world.

Alexandre Desplat scored the soundtrack to the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, the story is centered around Oskar Schell, a boy whose father was killed in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks.

After finding a key in a vase that belonged to his father, Oskar begins a massive search through New York City to discover the purpose of the key and the meaning of it all.

Desplat’s score keeps the story moving and features a piano-based theme. The legato phrases and punctuated rhythms accentuate Oskar’s emotional burden and unwavering determination to finish his seemingly impossible task.

The boy receives help from a man later revealed to be his grandfather, but a recurring theme is Oskar’s frustration with his mother. She is out late and sleeps in. Oskar wants desperately for her to feel his pain and share his journey.

But it appears that Oskar is on his own. He continues his search, weary and frustrated, until he discovers the origin of the key.

But the purpose of the key is not the main revelation.

The gut-wrenching twist at the end reveals the truth behind his ostensibly disinterested mother.

Her fatigue resulted from nightly outings to prepare strangers for the visit she knew they would receive from her son in search of information about the key.

Oskar thought she wasn’t helping. He thought she wasn’t there.

But she was.

She loved him so much that she gave everything of herself to pave the way for him to succeed. She knew him so well that she could predict his every move, and she didn’t lash out when he accused her of indifference.

She had a bigger plan, and sometimes it involved operating inconspicuously. She knew what was best for her son. She knew what he needed to see, and what he needed not to see.

To Oskar, her silence was extremely loud, but in fact, she was incredibly close.

In Genesis Chapter 28, Jacob has a dream at Bethel where God tells him:

“Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (NIV).

Jesus assures his disciples in John Chapter 14:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (NIV).

God is consistent with his theme:

He will not leave the faithful.

It might seem like we are searching on our own, but he is there.

Oskar wasn’t going it along, and neither are we. Life is longer than a movie, and your revelation might be months or even years away.

The apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians:

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because ofa your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:21-23, NIV).

He will not leave us. Keep your hope held out in the gospel, even when it seems like he’s not there.

And when you forget, put on Desplat’s soundtrack and remember how small our perspective can be.

One day, an extremely loud trumpet will sound, and we will know that he is incredibly close.

Related Briefs

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will help readers in developing their worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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“Abort, abort, abort, abort!”

Training

The call came too late. The pilot had already pickled off his live bombs on what he thought was the correct target during a training mission.

But his perception did not match reality. He might have had incomplete information, or he might have misunderstood the information he had. The military would call this condition having low situational awareness or “SA.”

Instead of finding the correct target, he accidentally dropped bombs on a friendly observation post resulting in death, injury, and the closure of the Vieques Island training range.

Because this pilot had low SA, he did not think he would be killing a person by his actions.

The only thing for certain in combat is the promise of uncertainty. During training flight, pilots practice establishing procedures and habit patterns in order to minimize human error during complex missions. When setting up for an attack, the goal is for things to feel “suitcased” prior to releasing ordnance.

The moment something doesn’t feel right, they investigate and take action or abort the attack.

Combat

“Friendlies, Kandahar.”

After hearing those two words, an F-16 pilot knew his life would never be the same. He had just rolled in and dropped a 500-pound bomb on what he thought was an enemy position targeting his flight lead after a 10-hour mission over Afghanistan.

In reality, it was soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group conducting a night firing exercise.

This pilot knew he might kill a person, but he thought is was necessary to possibly save the life of his flight lead.

Recipe for Failure

In 2004, the Department of Defense launched a “Global War on Error” educational campaign to reduce human error as a contributing factor to aviation mishaps.

What stuck with me was the recipe that almost always contributed to human error:

  1. Time compression
  2. Distraction
  3. Breakdown in habit patterns

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Unfortunately, many mishaps occur during training missions where time compression can be safely mitigated. During training, if things are happening too quickly, you can ask for more time. However, if you allow yourself to be rushed, it’s easy to lose focus.

And that is when the habit pattern you’ve spent years ingraining into a disciplined routine, based on hundreds of repetitions and muscle memory, breaks down.

That is when your SA degrades. It’s when you’re stressed out and someone is trying to tell you what to do. But even though you hear them, you can’t make sense of the situation.

You might go internal and block everything out.

When this happens to a fighter pilot in the middle of an attack, the best course of action is to abort.

“Abort, abort, abort,” crackles over the radio, and the pilot can instantly breathe again. It’s only training. He has time to figure it out. The last thing he wants is any uncertainty about what he might be destroying.

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Abort Criteria

If you currently lack good intel on the controversy surrounding abortion and abortifacient contraceptive methods, then you should consider the following abort criteria before continuing an uncertain attack:

  1. Low SA
  2. Failure to properly identify the target
  3. Presence of friendlies in the target area

Before you roll in to those clinic doors, before you allow someone you love to pickle a beautiful life before its time, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I certain that my perception matches reality?
  • Does this feel “suitcased?”
  • Am I certain I’m not accidentally targeting a friendly?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you have an obligation to abort your maneuver and reassess the situation.

Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 11:5

“As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.”

One of a fighter pilot’s biggest fears is fratricide.

It should be yours, too.

You don’t have to continue the run. You can always abort.
-

Related Briefs

Photo credit: LCpl Michael Thorn / PD http://www.marines.mil/mobile/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000782325

Photo credit: Cpl Uriel Avendano / PD http://www.marines.mil/mobile/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000709630

Photo credit: Cpl KyleMcNally / PD http://www.marines.mil/mobile/Photos.aspx?igphoto=28741

failure

F/A-18D “Hornet.” Photo courtesy of Satoshi Hirokawa.

Have you ever raised your voice out of frustration toward you child? When I fail to follow the wisdom of Ephesians 6:4, I exasperate my child.  I apologize to my children when I fail them; they know their dad is not perfect.  Let me share how my failure during a teachable moment reminded me of a valuable lesson I learned from a flight instructor.

Before I was a flight instructor, I was a student.  I learned a valuable lesson during a few rough training missions:

The worst instructors are screamers.

screamer

T-45A “Goshawk.” Photo credit: LTJG John A. Ivancic

“Pull,” my flight instructor pimped from the back seat.  I pulled the stick to perform a maneuver in the T-45 “Goshawk.”

“Pull!” he yelled seconds later.  I pulled harder.

“No, don’t do that!” he barked in despair, revealing his annoyance.

I was confused.  I didn’t know what he wanted me to do.  He didn’t tell me how hard to pull, when to start, when to stop, or what I was doing wrong.  Not only was I confused, but I was also getting flustered.  I was getting stressed out.

Stress can be good.  Sometimes it is necessary to teach an important lesson (remember Matthew Broderick teaching his soldiers to shoot in a chaotic environment in Glory).

Sometimes it helps optimize performance (competition creates stress, but also raises performance levels). 

But too much stress, or stress without quality instruction, is bad.

For the rest of the flight, I was on edge.  I fumbled with switches and flubbed maneuvers.  I got “behind the jet.”  I was off my game.  I was flying in a state somewhere between choking and panicking (read Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw  to learn the difference).  I knew with certainty I was going to “down” the flight which meant I would receive low scores from my flight instructor and have to re-fly the event. 

To my surprise,  Mr. Hyde, who I was apparently flying with in the air, transformed back into Dr. Jekyll on the ground in the debrief.

“Yeah, some of the maneuvers weren’t quite perfect, but no big deal.  We’ll debrief them,” he casually remarked.

Huh?  I just had the worst flight of my life and I thought my flight career was over.  I was ready to hand over my wings when they told me I was finished (actually, I didn’t have wings yet, but it makes for a good story).

Now my flight instructor was acting like it was no big deal.  All that stress, all that discomfort, all those additional mistake. . .for nothing.

If only my instructor hadn’t screamed.

Author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Micahel Hyatt describes the impact of leadership style in his post “A Tale of Two Coaches: What Kind Are You?

I’ve come to an important realization:

Among the titles I have earned, the most important is teacher.

I don’t work in a classroom, but I have two teaching jobs. My students wear diapers and oxygen masks (hopefully not at the same time).  When frustration builds, letting go is difficult.  But the regret caused by losing your cool is always worse.

As long as I am a father, I will be a teacher.

May my Father teach me never to become a screamer.

What do you think makes a great teacher?

Related Briefs

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The world is a different place since the invention of weapons of mass destruction. They were designed to prevent evil. But what if it they were designed to destroy what was good?

Isaiah 5:20 carries a warning for those who would misuse weapons of mass destruction:

“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, NIV).

“Birth control allows us to prevent pregnancy and plan the timing of pregnancy.”1 -Planned Parenthood website

“If you’ve had unprotected sex, you can take Plan B One-Step® to help prevent pregnancy from happening. It is a backup plan that works in a similar way to birth control pills to prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours (3 days)”2 (emphasis mine). -Plan B One-Step website

It’s becoming more clear why young adults have an incomplete understanding of the abortion/birth control controversy: they are given incomplete information and when they ask difficult questions, they are silenced by authority figures.

It has been happening more and more.

Since Roe v. Wade stripped away the individual state’s right to determine the morality of terminating life inside the womb, the national attitude surrounding abortion has become more cavalier.

An obsession with empowerment has blinded some to the important considerations surrounding this controversial topic, and there’s a dirty little secret behind the clinic curtain.

When Does a Pregnancy Begin?

The belief that pregnancy begins at implantation has been propagated by groups motivated by political and financial gain. What is the alternative view?

  • A pregnancy begins at conception

The implications, though some groups would fight tooth-and-nail to convince you otherwise, are monumental. If pregnancy begins at conception, then there is no difference between some forms of birth control and abortion.

While the legal ramifications are currently small, the emotional cost and moral risk is high.

In 2009, Christopher M. Gacek, J.D., Ph.D., Senior Fellow for Regulatory Affairs for the Family Research Council in Washington D.C. conducted a study of the four major medical dictionaries in use for the last 100 years.

The purpose of the study was to determine whether the belief that pregnancy begins at conception (versus implantation) is reasonable and how much weight the idea has carried historically.

His conclusion after carefully researching each edition of Dorland’s, Stedman’s, Taber’s, and Mosby’s dictionaries was that the conscientious objector’s scientific analysis of the belief that pregnancy begins at conception (fertilization) “is not only reasonable but . . . the dominant worldview presented by the dictionaries and the historical usage they represent.”3

The belief that pregnancy begins at implantation is the minority view held by health care providers in the business of abortion. Can you imagine their bottom line if more of their “birth control” products which operate on life before 24 weeks were known as abortifacients?

What’s the Big Deal?

There is a good reason for abortion, birth control pills, and emergency contraception to be in the same conversation. They all carry the intent to terminate life (and arguably a legal person in the whole sense protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, but that is beyond the scope of this post) if it has been created. In other words, they might all be weapons of mass destruction.

The pill does several things to prevent a woman from getting pregnant:

  1. It inhibits ovulation.
  2. It reduces the chances of fertilization if a “breakthrough” egg release occurs by thickening the cervical membrane.
  3. If an egg is fertilized, it may theoretically inhibit implantation.

This third mechanism is accomplished by the intentional thinning of the endometrium, theoretically disallowing a fertilized egg to implant into the uterine wall.

And that is the dirty secret behind the clinic curtain.

What You Believe Matters

It is important to understand that while using this form of contraception, there is no guarantee that an egg will not be released and fertilized, and there is no way to know whether or not an egg was fertilized when it exits the body during menstruation. What is 99% effective is the pill’s ability to use any one of the aforementioned mechanisms to prevent parenthood.

The Plan B One-Step website admits that its emergency contraception pill acts similar to normal birth control pills. The following is from Plan B One-Step’s Full Product Information document, paragraph 12 CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, section 12.1 Mechanism of Action:

“Emergency contraceptive pills are not effective if a woman is already pregnant. Plan B One-Step is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization (by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova). In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium)”4 (emphasis mine).

The company believes that pregnancy has not begun until implantation (the minority view). They believe that their product acts as an emergency contraceptive. This is tacit recognition that if you believe pregnancy begins at conception, then their product is by definition an abortive agent–a product once banned, now legal, and always debated.

The Law is a Great Teacher

We are taught as children to obey the law. We are told:

  • The law is good.
  • The law keeps us safe.
  • The law is just.

America is fortunate that its leaders have for the most part done a good job at making this the case. However, just because something is legal now doesn’t make it right. When we get it wrong, the law itself becomes a weapons of mass destruction and we need to make a correction, just like we did during the Civil Rights movement.

You were young once. Someone gave you a chance.

I thank God someone cared enough about me as much at 20 days as they did at 20 years.

Before you quickly accept a cultural norm, will you take a peek behind the clinic curtain? What you see may change not one life, but two.
-

Related Briefs

1 http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control-4211.htm

2 http://m.planbonestep.com/about-plan-b-one-step.aspx

3 Christopher M. Gacek, Ph.D., “Conceiving ‘Pregnancy’ U.S. Medical Dictionaries and Their Definitions of ‘Conception’ and ‘Pregnancy,’” Insight publication, April 2009, 10, http://www.frc.org/insight/conceiving-pregnancy-us-medical-dictionaries-and-their-definitions-of-conception-and-pregnancy.

4 Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., “Plan B One-Step Full Product Information,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, August, 2009, http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021998lbl.pdf

Photo Credit: http://onlineforlife.org/graphics/weapons-mass-destruction-2/

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The moment you become a Christian, someone wants you dead. The decision to surrender your status as a spiritual noncombatant by affirming absolutes, objective truth, and the exclusive claims of Christ carries with it the potential for persecution.

After living as a young adult with a secular worldview, I knew my investigation of Jesus of Nazareth might lead to some uncomfortable times with family, friends, and colleagues.

But death?

Who wants to sign up for that? What kind of belief could possibly be worth dying for?

They Truly Believed

The answer lies in the transformative power of a belief that the early Christian apostles refused to recant even in the face of death. According to church tradition:

  • Matthew was cut down by the sword in Ethiopia.
  • Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.
  • James the Greater was beheaded at Jerusalem.
  • James the Less was thrown from the temple roof and clubbed to death.
  • Philip was “imprisoned, scourged, and crucified.”
  • Bartholomew was alive when his skin was peeled from his body.
  • Andrew preached his last sermon from the cross.
  • Thomas was impaled by a lance.
  • Arrows pierced the body of Jude whereupon he gave up his spirit.
  • Matthias was stoned and decapitated.
  • John was boiled alive but managed to escape. He died in Ephesus at the age of 94 after an exile to Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
  • Barnabas was stoned to death at Salonica.

Nobody dies for something they know to be a lie. The apostles truly believed in the risen Christ and the truth of his message.

But cultures assess truth in different ways.

How We Assess Truth

Culture in the West focuses on individual reasoning and includes encouragement to question both authority and reality in the pursuit of truth.

Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, RZIM itinerant speaker and author of the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus highlights an important distinction between cultures in the East and in the West:

“People from Eastern Islamic cultures generally assess truth through lines of authority, not individual reasoning.”1

This distinction changes the way beliefs are received, accepted, transmitted, and defended between different cultures.

On her blog Science, Reason, and Faith, Christian apologist Melissa Cain Travis gives us another example of someone defending their belief despite strong opposition via guest-writer Kenn Mann’s third installment in a series titled “The Galileo Affair: Separating Truth from Historical Myth.”

After explaining how the Church’s beef with Galileo was not his rejection of the Bible, but his challenge to their sole authority to interpret the Bible (which included dogmatic devotion to an old idea), Mann explains how the tables have turned:

“The Church and institutional science have merely switched roles over the last 350 years. Today, the fields of science that attempt to explain the origins and development of life are trapped in a dogmatic devotion to an idea imagined over 150 years ago. Despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary, neo-Darwinism is adhered to dogmatically as the only explanation for the development of life. As discussed in the film Expelled and numerous intelligent design blogs, advocating dangerous ideas that contradict the reigning consensus is punished, not with torture or imprisonment, rather the destruction of academic careers. Perhaps that is the strongest lesson we can learn from history; it always repeats itself.”2

The Apostles followed Jesus in life and preached the message of the risen Lord after his death and resurrection. From that point on, they were marked men.

But it was not my decision to follow Christ that led to my bounty.

The fact is, there was a price on my head the day I was born. I was born an American, and for some, that is reason enough to pursue the murderous desires of a desperately wicked heart.

Whether I follow Christ or not, somebody wants me dead. The criminalization of a hate-filled heart should be directed towards those who would do harm, rather than those living out principles practiced by our founders and protected under the Constitution.

And I have some bad news for you if you don’t believe in God:

There’s a bounty on your head, too, and my persecutors and yours are one and the same.

Death awaits us all. It just comes sooner for others.

The question you should be asking is:

How do I best live this life, and what awaits us after death?

You have a lifetime to decide, but an eternity to reflect. Will you be smiling with your answer, or gnashing your teeth?
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1 Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014, 79.

2 Kenn Mann, “The Galileo Affair: Separating Truth from Historical Myth,” Science, Reason, and Faith, February 17, 2014, http://sciencereasonfaith.com/the-galileo-affair-separating-truth-from-historical-myth-part-3/

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Farewell for now to a fighter
His presence did grace
Throughout every clime
And in every place

From a special design
Was he breathed unto life
Whose words mended the broken
And cut like a knife

He came not with treaties
Nor flags to lay down
But with double-edged sword
Risen o’er his crown

Mors ex Tenebris
His motto lay claim
To the vacant position
Where evil once lay

From darkness and shadows
Death waits for us all
In a groaning creation
Still marred by the fall

But it wasn’t once so
And it won’t be again
For as then it was good
So it is in the end

The Heavens were stretched
To the warrior’s delight
And with grey-winged chariots
O’er water they fight

His eyes n’er rest upon
Ribbons or fame
And his treasures are stored
Where no thief can lay claim

His kin cannot follow
They must stay behind
As he hardens his body
And strengthens his mind

But the bandit gives chase
And strikes at his heel
Whilst brother fights brother
And steel sharpens steel

His frame he contorts
To keep sight of the foe
Blood seeps from his brow
For the weeping below

He gave up his spirit
And the veil’s top he tore
While losing the battle
But winning the war

Tho’ death from the darkness
And shadows doth wait
It’s defeated inside
Of the Heavenly gate

So farewell for now to a fighter
His time here is never enough
His beloved will long for his presence
His children will have to be tough

His legacy will be remembered
For love was the reason he came
And we’ll meet in a glorious hereafter
In a world with no tears and no pain

In memory of Marine Captain Reid Nannen, a fellow Bat. May your family find comfort in knowing that this is not the end.

If you would like to help support his family in their time of need, you can give HERE

Help by sharing the link to the Captain Reid Nannen Memorial Children’s Fund on Twitter by clicking HERE

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Photos Courtesy of Satoshi Hirokawa

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The church sanctuary was standing room only—a standard condition when author and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias comes to share the word of God.

I reserved my ticket months ahead of time and got a sitter for the kids. My wife graciously allowed this long-deserved night together to be combined with “A Night with Dr. Ravi Zacharias” hosted by Highlands Church in Phoenix.

I had long been a fan of Dr. Zacharias and the work of his colleagues at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He was about to release his book Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, and his visit to Phoenix would become a catalyst for my own ministry efforts.
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Although I would never pass up an RZIM event, my motivation for attending that night was more specific:

I had a question.

The Question

It was a difficult question, and I knew that in order to come close to an answer I would need a man with extraordinary experience, wisdom, and grace. I would need Ravi Zacharias.

The online venue for submitting questions for the Q&A period was already closed out.

No!!! I’m already too late!

I would have to find another way to submit my question on the night of the event. We arrived to find herds of people funneling into the worship area set up for the presentation. I sought out anyone who looked like church staff and asked if I could somehow submit a question for the Q&A period, but I could not find the right person and the event was starting.

I sat down next to my beautiful wife who was still adjusting to my tie and blazer—something different from the Dress Blue Alphas she’s accustomed to on formal occasions. I furiously scribbled notes during his presentation and enjoyed every bit of the message.
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But I was mostly waiting to ask my question.

As he began to close, I became nervous. Microphones waited in the aisles for those lucky enough to interact with the powerful speaker.

How are they going to do this? Are they going to read the questions submitted online? Is there a line I can stand in?

I printed my question on an index card; it was too important to misstate.

Finally, Dr. Zacharias invited the audience to approach the microphones with questions. Being the courteous fellow that I am, I gave everyone else one full second to respond. Then I sprang from my seat and darted to the mic.

I was a standing in front of one of the world’s most respected Christian ambassadors. This was no time to panic. I went to the card.
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This was the heart of my question:

“What is the best way to share the Gospel with someone who claims that they are content with contradictions?”

The Answer

First, Dr. Zacharias answered the question:

“For a person to say, ‘I know that it is not coherent, and I’m willing to live with incoherence,’ is actually saying they don’t care about reason and meaning anymore. If reason and meaning are pointless, reasoning in a meaningful way with that person may also become a pointless exercise. . . Sooner or later, incoherence will come back to haunt everybody, in this generation or the next, and they’ll find out that incoherence does make a difference, and God will bring that moment in the individual’s life.”

But after he answered the heart of the question, he focused on the more important task of an apologist:

Ministering to the heart of the question-er

The Questioner

Dr. Zacharias left me with three encouraging suggestions for reaching that person:

  • Live your message, and show what a life of coherence actually looks like
  • Give them an opportunity to hear the words of Christ, but do not push too hard
  • Show them that they will have everything they have in the peace of their soul already, plus more. When you find Christ, you find the source of all peace and the source of all truth

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The question didn’t need an answer; I needed an answer.

This master apologist answered both.

The most important lesson for us to learn from question and answer sessions is to care more about the person than the question.

If you had one night with Dr. Zacharias, what would you ask?
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer have donned their spiritual armor and charged the front lines of the New Atheists to capture a flag waved with arrogant exclusivity: the banner of reason. In True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell, and a host of credentialed Christian apologists confront the rationality of the New Atheism in a work that will have you looking for your armor and enlisting to help defend the Christian faith.

This book is a megadose of reason. The authors make a strong case for the intellectual bankruptcy of metaphysical naturalism by using strong logic and sound reasoning to challenge popular arguments espoused by the New Atheists. The result is a palate cleansed of the boxed-wine aftertaste of secular programming. After revealing the folly of embracing a worldview based on bad arguments, the authors present a strong case for the grounding of reason and ultimate meaning in a supernatural, transcendent being.

I would recommend this book for:

  • Christians interested in the philosophy behind their theology
  • Anyone who believes that Christianity is anti-intellectual
  • Atheists interested in strong responses to common objections against Christianity
  • Pastors looking to strengthen their knowledge of apologetics
  • People curious about the reason of Christ, and how Christ is required for reason

Tom Gilson begins by showing how the supposed “party of reason” crashes itself with fallacious debates, emotional appeals, and a wanton mishandling of evidence. Gilson shows how the New Atheists’ claims represent significant logical fallacies and calls out their vacuous ownership claim on the brand of reason. Ironically, in order to capture the flag of reason, atheists must first infiltrate the Kingdom of God.

Carson Weitnauer quotes atheists past and present and allows them to help illustrate the irony of atheism in their own words. And in case vitriolic rhetoric alone fails to dissuade you from militant atheism, Weitnauer argues for the irrationality of atheists and their champions’ predilections to believe things on faith–just like Christians.

Next, William Lane Craig crowns Richard Dawkins the King of Bad Arguments by showing how the central idea in his best-selling book is philosophy at its worst. Dawkins never claims to be a philosopher, and this chapter reminds the reader to take his metaphysical musings with a grain of salt.

Chuck Edwards carefully dissects weak arguments in The God Delusion and explains why Dawkins even makes some of his contemporaries embarrassed to be atheists. Dawkins single-handedly battles an army of straw men by propping up weak versions of old arguments and bops them with a Nerf blade reddened by the blush of ignorance. He explains how even Dawkins must fill his gaps in understanding with something—in his case, not with God, but with “sheer luck.” He exposes luck as a common (albeit unsatisfying and unscientific) hypothesis for the important questions such as the origin of first life and consciousness. Edwards shows how despite Dawkins’s accusations of Bible-based child abuse, the only thing parents should fear is that their children mistake Dawkins’s rhetorical well-poisoning for reasonable arguments. Edwards’s reasoned and logical responses make Dawkins’s performance in The God Delusion resemble more a high school cheerleader than a tenured university scholar: his gyrating lips, while exiting his base and grasping the world’s attention, mask a lack of depth regarding the philosophy he attacks.

Tom Gilson describes the marked difference in tactics between philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig and the neuroscientist and outspoken atheist Sam Harris during a debate to answer the question, “Is the Foundation of Morality Natural, or Supernatural?” After highlighting an example in 2011 where the co-founder of Project Reason essentially refused to use reason after a fatal challenge to his theory on the grounding of morality, he cites specific examples of Harris’s unrecognized use of non sequitur, equivocation, circular reasoning, and question begging. Gilson’s illustrations of how Harris’s blunders extend beyond his debating and into his published works beg to give Project Reason a subtitle: Under Construction.

David Marshall puts ex-Christian John Loftus’s “insider-outsider test for faith” to the test and gives it a failing grade while showing how the claim that most people who view Christianity from the outside will reject it is unfounded. I can attest to this as a person who grew up with a secular worldview and did not accept the truth of Christianity until adulthood. Marshall concludes by making a case of how Christianity passes the tests of history, prophecy, transformation, and lo and behold, the insider-outsider test for faith.

Lenny Esposito explains why it’s a long way to get to reason when you’re traveling via Naturalism. In fact, he explains how you can never get there. Esposito’s chapter provides a succinct explanation for a simple concept: you cannot get reason from non-rational causes. Referencing Dawkins, Lewis, and Nagel, he shows how the atheist can only claim ownership of reason by borrowing from theology. His closing argument is valid and sound—characteristics frequently absent from naturalism-based arguments for reason.

David Wood begins his chapter by alerting us to the growing shift from methodological naturalism to metaphysical naturalism—the belief that the natural world is all that exists. He goes so far as to say that science actually offers no support for naturalism. His chapter is significant because it turns traditional naturalist thinking on it head by proving that if science is true, then naturalism is false. By highlighting eight fatal problems for naturalism including the problems of consciousness, reason, and value, Wood delivers a combination of knockout blows to the self-defeating presuppositions of naturalist thinking. He not only shows that naturalists have given little thought to the ramifications of their philosophy, but also how any thought they have given is meaningless and irrational if not grounded in transcendent moral values.

Peter Grice’s explanation for reason in a Christian context will invoke a collective sigh of relief from believers desperate to explain what they intuitively know to be true: reason is a requirement for meaning, and God is required for reason. The significance of this conclusion is that it undercuts every argument springing forth from the human mind. Grice uses teleology to show how all theories involving purpose directed processes (including evolution’s direction towards functioning organisms and survival) must reach beyond merely naturalistic principles.

David Marshall skillfully expounds upon how faith and reason are the product of a marriage undefiled. After properly defining faith (which has nothing to do with blindness) he unpacks seven different ways that the New Testament ties faith to reason. Touching on topics such as historical investigation, critical accounts of Jesus’s life, and the resurrection, Marshal combines logic, philosophy, and careful exegesis to explain how no man can put faith and reason asunder.

David Marshall and Timothy McGrew provide a thorough review of how Christians—including the early church fathers and modern-day scholars—have historically viewed faith. They use contextual analysis to set the record straight against false characterizations of Christian faith as an uninformed, lazy default position.

Samuel J. Youngs’ chapter introduces Alvin Plantigna’s argument that naturalism cannot account for the connection between the content of our beliefs and the corresponding neuromuscular response. This chapter is a bit more difficult to get through; however, the prize at the end is a new understanding of how naturalism and evolution are actually self refuting.

Sean McDowell’s chapter is brief easy-to-read, and convincingly explains why Christianity is far from at odds with science. In fact, he shows how Christianity provided the philosophical foundations and motivations for doing science. After putting to bed a few common myths resurrected by the New Atheists, McDowell explains how the real incompatibility lies between naturalism and theism. This chapter is significant because it highlights a crucial distinction between the false dichotomy used by anti-theists for shock value and the real incompatibility which should be further investigated by seekers.

Tom Gilson’s chapter about how God and science do mix uses fascinating illustrations to show how Christianity has a high view of science, and explains how a rational universe must be the product of a rational God in order for us to learn by experience. His arguments and illustrations are significant because they point out how Christianity is not only compatible with science—it’s literally a match made in heaven.

John M. DePoe delves into the problem of evil and emerges with reason intact. He shows how it is perfectly reasonable to believe a loving God could have morally sufficient reasons for allowing some evil in the world. He goes on to explain why free will is valuable and how it is inextricably linked to evil. DePoe takes some common Christian responses to the problem of evil and dives deeper into the arguments, leaving the reader with an enriched understanding of the traditional responses. This chapter is significant because the problem of evil is commonly recognized as the most difficult challenge to the Christian worldview. Understanding that there are reasonable responses to this problem will allow the reader to investigate Christianity with the optimism it deserves. DePoe also describes how natural evil is a result of free agency.

Randall Hardman examines historical evidences for the Gospels while addressing criticisms of critical scholars. He discusses oral tradition in the first century, the Gospel writers’ concern for historical accuracy, and concludes with arguments as to why it is reasonable to assent to the New Testament’s historicity.

Matthew Flannagan comments on atrocities in the Old Testament using the genocide of the Canaanites as an example. Through a detailed discussion of several interpretive methods, he explains why the troublesome passages in the Book of Joshua should neither be read as a single narrative nor be taken literally. Flanagan compares the style and figures of speech used in Joshua with other ancient near Eastern texts and concludes that the language in question is most likely hyperbolic. This is significant because, if true, one of the New Atheists’ most emotional charges against Christianity—that it is led by a genocidal, bloodthirsty God—would be leveled by the hand of reason.

Finally, Glenn Sunshine addresses the frivolous claim that Christianity somehow endorses slavery. He looks at slavery in the early church, the middle ages, and modern times to show how Christianity was actually the foundation required for the movement to end slavery. He explains how the belief that every person has equal intrinsic worth is based on Christian values and highlights the important distinction between what the Bible describes and what the Bible affirms. Atheists often use slavery in the Bible as an argument against Christianity. Sunshine sheds some much needed light on this shady argument.

In summary, True Reason is a densely-packed, reason-filled mix of helpful analogies and deep philosophy. It has chapters for the scholar, the pastor, the parishioner, and the doubter. By the end, the authors successfully wrestle the flag of reason from the white knuckles of the New Atheists and return it to its rightful place: at the right hand of God.

Get your copy of True Reason HERE.

Click HERE to tweet this review to your followers.

Carson Weitnauer is the founder of Reasons for God and the co-editor of True Reason. He serves as the U.S. Director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and as the President for the Christian Apologetics Alliance. You can connect with Carson on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. To receive all of his new posts, join his email list for free.

Tom Gilson is a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ, serving in Southwest Ohio in cooperative ministry with King’s Domain. He holds an M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida and helps ministries and leaders understand more deeply to minister more wisely.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers or will assist them in establishing a coherent worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”