The following video contains a creative and interesting illustration about evangelism for modern Christians.  I definitely believe that it's worth viewing and thinking about as a follower of Christ integrated as a member of society and that it does speak a lot of truth in regard to the current state of the Church and how the Christian community (in general) views evangelism and sharing their faith.  I hope that you find it equally as thought provoking, creative, and entertaining.



  What do you think of this short video on evangelism?  
What thoughts does it bring to mind?
 
Why is there such a passive and suppressive stigma associated with Christian evangelism and how can we actively work to change it?  



Aaron Gwin
Photo Credit.
2011 was a big year for the USA in downhill mountain biking: it marked the first time in the history of mountain biking that an American took the overall men's World Cup title! Despite the fact that America was the birth place of mountain biking, it took us 34 or 35 years to grab this title, and it was done by a talented 23 year old by the name of Aaron Gwin.
Tim Tebow Praying - Photo Credit

In a recent article on Fox Sports Exclusive, Jen Engel chooses to examine the constant scrutiny and ridicule that Tim Tebow, starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has been subjected to lately.  The source of such insults and slander span from private to public sectors - from national television, to casual conversations between friends. All of these confrontations and comments have created a growing "debate" and argument in the sports community, which actually encompasses the United States and beyond in this case.  As of late, it has provided constant fuel for the conversation regarding religion, faith, and the constrictions (or lack there of) that should be placed on such 'aspects' of life. 



My God, shall sin its power maintain
And in my soul defiant live!
'Tis not enough that Thou forgive,
The cross must rise and self be slain.

O God of love, Thy power disclose:
'Tis not enough that Christ should rise,
I, too, must seek the brightening skies,
And rise from death, as Christ arose.

~ Greek Hymn ~

The following post outlines some key points and maxims concerning the attribute of self-sufficiency that Yahweh, God, possesses as determined from Biblical scriptures.  
I hope you find these statements to be interesting and thought provoking and that they will impact your life and how you view God; that it would lead you into a more reverent and worshipful mindset based on His holiness and glory.



• If anything was necessary to God, that thing would be a measure of His imperfection.    
  Imperfection is something that is entirely impossible of God's character.

• "Whatever God is, and all that God is, He is in Himself."
   All life is a gift from God.  He cannot receive anything that He has not first given.

• God is solely unique in that he is the only thing that is complete - the only thing that does not
   require something outside of itself in order to exist.

Excerpt from A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy 
                (Chapter 5: "The Self-Existence of God"):





         "The human mind, being created, has an understandable uneasiness about the Uncreated.  We do not find it comfortable to allow for the presence of One who is wholly outside of the circle of our familiar knowledge. We tend to be disquieted by the thought of One who does not account to us for His being, who is responsible to no one, who is self-existent, self-dependent and self-sufficient."



We received this question in the comments section of the Tough Questions series launch post:

"How can a holy God look down upon our unholiness??"

This is a good question, and it's a complex topic, but then on the other hand I wonder why it is a question at all.

There are many things that come to mind of which I am thankful for on this joyous day:

Family    Relationships    Food and Provision   Peace    Physical Health    Financial Stability

 
The list for each of us could go on and on....  But when people ask me what I am thankful for, the most prevalent and important thing that comes to my mind to be thankful for is God's Grace.  What he has provided me through Jesus Christ is beyond all compare, far above the measure and influence of anything else in my life. It is this grace that gives peace, satisfaction, joy, meaning, and purpose to all other areas of my life. 

Here's a little comic relief for your day:



Photo Credit
Earlier this year, Cranial Collision featured a post authored by Nick Roen titled "Worship: Are We Worshiping Music Instead of God?"  I would like to highlight this post again, continuing our topic from last week on how to keep worship authentic. 


Me, mountain biking.
Photo Credit: Garvin Handley
As an English major with a Writing and Publication emphasis and a Philosophy minor, I am constantly thinking how to construct sound, logical arguments and how to spot fallacious, unsupported ones when I see them. You could say that I am a student of logic and argumentation.

I recently read a letter-to-the-editor against mountain bike access to a natural area that was absolutely rife with logical fallacies! You can check out the original here.


As with many people, and many men especially, my singing voice is anything but eloquent and refined. Undoubtedly, I do not lavish those around me with skilled singing and expressive vocal proficiency, but I do desire to be genuinely engaged in worship through singing.  


This is where the problem comes into play.  Many times when singing songs of worship (during a Sunday morning service, CRU large group, or spontaneously in other settings), I become distracted and caught up in trying to make my singing sound good, or at least not bad, to those around me.  

I find this to be a very relevant and powerful statement.
Some people may argue that a person who knows how to read has an advantage over someone who doesn't know how to read because they still posses the ability and potential to read.  However, Mark Twain implies that simply having the ability to do something does not do a person any good if he or she does not choose to utilize it [the ability].
A psychiatrist working at Yale University, George Mahl, counted and examined ten speech disfluencies (including the infamous "uh" and "um") with the purpose of measuring a person's anxiety level.  He calculated that, on average, during every 4.4 seconds of spontaneous speech, one disfluency occurs in a person's speaking.   (Source)
Creative Commons Photo Credit
"One of my friends has a question but wants to stay anonymous:
Why didn't He write the Bible in plain English instead of a bunch of stories and riddles that allow room for misinterpretation?"

Hey, thanks for the question! This is definitely a tough one, and Christians have been asking this question for millenia.
Questions.
Creative Commons Photo Credit
My brother, AJ, was a part of the Campus Crusade ministry at UW-La Crosse last semester, and as a part of that ministry they started a Facebook group called "God. Why?" which was designed to let people ask difficult questions that they have been wondering, and then hopefully help other people provide answers to them.

In this new series entitled "Tough Questions,"  I'm going to take a crack at answering a number of these questions.

I'm not tackling this project because I think I know it all or even because I think I am the most qualified person to answer these questions. Rather, I just think that these questions need good answers, and that someone needs to make an attempt to provide them.

I may not be able to provide exhaustive responses that cover every single angle, but I will do my best to provide a Biblical perspective on the topic!

Your Turn: Do you have a tough question about Christianity that you want answered? Feel free to leave it in the comments section below, or email me at g.gaheil AT gmail DOT com.
With every week that passes by, 
I seem to realize more and more just how short life really is.

The changing of the seasons, illness, cancer, death, accidents, age, time-usage, friendships growing deeper, and friendships becoming forgotten, natural disasters, war, evil, the weakness and fragility of my own body...


These are all worldly reminders that shout out to me:  Life is short.
Find the thing(s) that really matter and pursue them whole-heartedly 
while you still can.    

(This sparks a search for objective truth and meaning which I have found in the all-encompassing love of Jesus Christ)


On a daily basis, I run into people that profess to be Christians;  People that, amidst the same breath, actively condemn the behavior of those around them.  More often than not, these 'Christians' do this by pointing to actions and choices that appear to be undoubtedly wrong and sinful.  Such things as premarital sex, making fun of other people, hurting others, swearing, and clothing choices (or lack thereof) rise to the top of this list.

Without falter, the condemned actions and behaviors are being labeled in the lives of people that are non-Christians and those who would, likely, never profess to be Christians.  Over and over again, I hear the constant chatter concerning those individuals that partied last weekend, consumed alcohol to the point of drunkenness, and acted sexually immoral.  It is SO common for these stories, and the condemnation of this behavior that follows, to be heard from people who refer to themselves as Christians.

Condemning sin in non-Christians is senseless, useless, and not worth gossiping about.
Yet it is so common.

1. "For after all the foundation of eloquence, as of everything else, is wisdom." -Cicero

2. “The human mind has the capacity to rationalize to itself any and all human actions.” -Michael C. Brannigan

3. ‎"Nature has herself appointed that nothing great is to be accomplished quickly, and has ordained that difficulty should precede every work of excellence..." -Quintillian

4. ‎"For human well-being mostly depends not on what people have but, among other things, on what they do with what they've got." -Daniel M. Haybron

5. "For many of us, the majority opinion constitutes the litmus test of whether something is morally right or wrong. This is logically absurd." -Michael C. Brannigan


My life has been transformed.  
A formerly hateful, abusive, and angry individual, I have now been reconciled to God through the blood of Christ.  This reconciliation, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, has impacted my life in intensely vivid ways.  



Relationships with several of my family members and friends, once bruised and crushed, have been completely restored and rectified - Something that I had previously thought to be impossible.  Destructive habits and attitudes that were once a significant part of my life - such as struggles with self-worth, pornography, lust, and envy - have been eliminated and defeated.  I have gained a sense of purpose and passion in my life that I could not achieve on my own. 
Social Media: it's everywhere today. With over 750 million people on Facebook, Google Plus on the rise, and Twitter a force to be reckoned with, it's hard to escape it.

I wrote the following to clarify a recent status update I posted about social media, and to clarify my philosophical position on social media in general:

Plasma.
It's a straw-colored, clear liquid that is 90 percent water, and it is an absolutely essential ingredient for human survival (1).


Plasma is a fluid-based substance that makes up about 55% of our total blood volume and acts as a vital transport system of nutrients, protein, water, and nourishment to our bodies.  Without plasma, human life would be impossible.  (Read more about plasma here)


Image from Urbandictionary.com
Normally when we hear the phrase "he is such a tool," it is used in a very derogatory sense.

The Urban Dictionary defines a "tool" as: "One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used. A fool. A cretin. Characterized by low intelligence and/or self-steem."

Today I want to redeem this term and encourage every one of you to be a "tool."

Be used.

Be used by God.

For what greater goal could we have in life than to become an instrument in God's grand purpose as he furthers his kingdom?
It's been too long since we've done a "Resource Roundup," so here are a few interesting posts that I've read recently that I think you might enjoy as well:

What Are the Odds?
This is a great post about the logic of playing the lottery, despite the fact that the math of his final conclusion is incorrect.

Trail 401. Taken during our trip to Colorado.
This past August I had a chance to take a week-long vacation to Colorado with my wife and a few of our friends. I basically spent all week mountain biking, camping, eating, and hanging out with people that I love.

I don't know when the last time you pried yourself away from the computer screen, TV, and iPod was (I know that I spend most of my waking moments staring at a screen), but the world outside is glorious!


I am constantly amazed by the vastness and complexity of the universe.  

As a university student, each day I have the pleasure of learning about different aspects of the world that we live in - societies, culture, communication, environments, organisms, and so many other facets of life. 

For instance, I was simply fascinated to learn the following information through my first lecture in a basic biology class.  By no means is this an advanced or difficult course (the reason that I am taking it is to fulfill a prerequisite for a future class),  but nevertheless, one can learn a great deal from the material presented!

http://newton007.com/unseen/wp-content/plugins/WPRobot/images/14d65_biodiversity.jpg
I found out that my philosophy proffessor, George Wrisley, Ph.D., has a philosophy blog. Being a blogger myself, I was pretty excited! He's written some very interesting essays, so I encourage you to check his site out.

I decided to respond in length to one of the posts that I've read so far (entitled "A Difficult Dilemma: Deny that Humanity is Fallen, or Deny Evolution?"), and I thought I'd republish my comment here for you all to read:


   
Personal Preparation
1. Be Sure That You Are a Christian
2. Have No Unconfessed Sin in Your Life

3. Be Filled With the Holy Spirit

4. 
Be Prepared to Communicate Your Faith in Christ



Taking the Initiative
1. Pray
2. Go


Along with personal preparation, 'taking the initiative' to share your faith can also be broken down into several 'steps' in order to make it a more tangible and practical concept. The first of these steps is prayer - An absolutely essential element when involved in evangelism!  The second step on initiative involves taking the time and performing the actions to directly share your faith with others. 

So many people that call themselves "Christian" are anything but the radical type of Christians that Jesus told to "take up your cross and follow me."

I know that personally I'm not nearly as radical of a Christian as I should be. For some reason, there sometimes is a disconnect between how I actually live my life and what I read in the Bible about how I should be living it. It might not be that I'm sinning outright, but more that I'm just not obeying some of the commands that I read to the fullest.

I'm writing today to share with you an experience I had that gave me a glimpse of how radically we should live the Christian life.


The following post is an exegesis (critical interpretation and explanation) of a section of scripture in Daniel chapter 1. 


Bryce Zeigle authored this as a paper in 2010 for his Old Testament class at Wheaton College in Illinois and he has now offered to have it posted here for others to read and reflect upon. Selections have been edited and formatted with his permission to improve readability and overall quality.

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The following is a post that I wrote a week ago for my Rhetorical Theory class. It wasn't intended to fully address the question of "Does language create reality?" but it does touch on that topic:

"I think that Gorgias was right on when he said that "the effect of speech upon the condition of the soul is comparable to the power of drugs over the nature of bodies. For just as different drugs dispel different secretions from the body, and some bring an end to disease and others to life, so also in the case of speeches, some distress, others delight, some cause fear, others make the hearers bold, and some drug and bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion." I don't think this was exceedingly dramatic, but I do think that most of the time, language is just a communicator of a greater reality. IE, I don't think it is reasonable to believe that language creates reality.

Let me use an example to clarify:

Photo Credit



So why do people sing in the shower?  It's a really interesting question to ask actually. 


Undoubtedly, it is certainly notable that the number of people who are likely to sing in the shower and/or in the bathroom is curiously high....  But have you ever stopped to ask what the scientific reason behind the phenomenon is?


The following is a short assignment that I wrote for my "Rhetorical Theory" class:

"I agree with Isocrates' claim that education does not directly result in moral improvement.

Creative Commons photo credit
A week or so ago I read this post by Silouan that is full of quotations from the ancients about how bad the youth of their day were. It's funny, because much of the same language that those ancients used is being used by the parents and elders of today.

At the beginning of the month of June, I posted an article (What Do You Want to be Remembered For?) concerning some thoughts I had in regard to people's passions, and what they are remembered for when they die.  In the blog,  I urged my readers to consider these key questions:

"What do you want to be remembered for?
For being a Packer fan?  A state-championship winning athlete?  
A great Dad and a loving husband?

After you've asked yourself that, also consider what you do with your life that will truly have a lasting impact; Something of significance that doesn't fade, tarnish, or decay.  

We know that the Green Bay Packers have not and will not exist forever, 
so what do you dedicate your passion to that really matters?"
Just like yesterday, I want to take a moment and repost a few very insightful comments left by the Cranial Collision community. Today we're focusing on responses to my article about how the Obesity Action Coalition is destroying the concept of personal responsibility. Hopefully this illustrates just how passionate we are about quality conversation and people voicing their well-thought-out opinions!

Image by b_d_solis
Here on Cranial Collision, we are all about conversation. We want this place to be a community where we can all discuss topics and learn from each other. This isn't a one-way street of information flowing from whoever is writing the article to whoever is reading it. That is why all of your comments are so valuable to us! We find them very mentally stimulating and enlightening.

In case you missed them, I just want to take the time to republish some extremely insightful reader comments from "Darwin the Messiah:"

I heard a short spot as I was listening to the radio this morning that was encouraging everyone to visit the Obesity Action Coalition website and sign the petition to help make obesity a disease. The first question that came to my mind is, "how can you sign a petition to make obesity a disease?" It either is or is not a disease... signing a petition can't change that either way.

Also, could obesity even qualify? Let's look at the pertinent definition of the word "disease" from Dictionary.com:
I find these little fish bumper stickers a very fitting representation of the essence of Darwinism.

What's the difference between the first sticker and the second? The second has legs, yes, but the primary difference is the spot that Jesus occupied is now replaced by Darwin. 

"The Few. The Proud. The Marines."

No, I'm not ripping on the a branch of the armed service.  I am, however, saying that advocating the idea of pride as a virtue - A building block of soldiers, men, heroes, or anyone - Is a bad thing.
"Your church isn't good enough. Come to mine instead."

Many times I feel like other Christians are saying this to me when we talk about where we attend church, although maybe not in so many words.

Sometimes I think we as Christians spend too much time evangelizing to other Christians. Sometimes we may think that because we go to a certain church, then everyone else needs to go to the same church too! Well, I've got to be honest with ya--that's just not true.

This is a video that I would like every Christian to take the time to view and consecutively examine the condition of their faith and the effectiveness of their discipleship.

Matthew 28:18-20
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 


I asked a few life questions in a recent post, and this was Silouan's response:

"There are probably four or five people who see you at work all day, every day. They know how you deal with stress, how you treat them and your customers and your boss, how much effort you put into your tasks (unspiritual as they may seem) and how much extra work you pick up or else leave for the next shift to worry about.

This Bible study tool was drafted by myself for use during July, 2011.  I hope that it comes in handy for some of you also - It provides a list of scripture passages and points that deal with nature and God's creation.  By using this Biblical overview, we studied in more depth how one can praise God through time spent outdoors, amidst nature.



Feel free to comment on various passages, give feedback on how the outline could be improved, and add to the conversation concerning nature.
Creative Commons Photo Credit
Are we really making a difference?

No really. In our everyday lives—are we making a difference?

Lately I have been feeling like what I've been doing with myself hasn't been making a big difference in eternity. This isn't exactly a new feeling; it is something that I have struggled with off and on for a long time.

Friday, July 1st - 10:52pm
Sitting down in front of the computer, I proceed to log on to Weather.com to check various forecasting for the night, the weekend, and the week to come.  To my surprise, a severe weather alert pops up in the feed - Thunderstorms and high winds expected for the area in the immediate future.  My curiosity is sparked as I continue on to examine a radar-loop tracking the expected path of a highly developed storm cell.  


A couple of the best words that I can use to describe what I saw are 'purely amazing'.  The storm cell was a long, thin storm spanning almost the entire length of the state of Wisconsin North to South.  What made the band even more interesting was the fact that there was barely any moderate-light weather within the storm - It was almost all extremely severe weather.  Another thing to mention is the fact that the storm was only predicted to be a moderate/light intensity weather event just hours beforehand.


While rummaging through items from my old house (which we are now selling and moved out of), I ran across a relatively recent edition of Bike Mag. 

Knowing that I hadn't read much, if anything, from the contents of the magazine, I quickly flipped open to look across various article titles and photographs to see if anything intrigued me from that issue (to my disgrace, an action that I took before knowingly chucking it into the garbage can). 



The question "What makes us human?" is so fundamental. In this short essay response to Frankenstein that I wrote for my Brit Lit II survey, I examine whether or not the "creature" is a human being. To do so, we have to think about what exactly the criteria for humanity is. Read on for short exploration of the topic:

Despite his hideous appearance, Viktor Frankenstein's creation isn't actually a monster, it is really a human being. We can see his human qualities shine through primarily in his complex emotions and his reasoning.

I recently wrote about the best way to deal with personal attacks and insults, and we also write about philosophy and reasoning here on Cranial Collision on a pretty regular basis.

So what happens when poor reasoning skills and a bad response collide in the real world?

To answer that question, click over to my mountain bike blog and read about a confrontation I had with a redneck on my second-ever road bike ride. 

If you have time, be sure to read the comments too, as there have been a lot of excellent replies. And if you have any thoughts you want to share, please feel free to chime in!
Originally written in 2008.

I believe that there is incredible proof beyond a reasonable doubt for the fact that Jesus Christ claimed He is God, that He truly is God, and that He rose from the dead. Like the reliability of the New Testament documents, the entirety of the Christian faith relies on this point. But don’t take my word for it, read on and look at the evidence.

Many people, denominations, and cults fail to fully understand the Biblical concept of the trinitarian nature of God. Generally, these people swing too far to one side or the other. They either think that God is just one person with many different characteristics, or that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are completely independent of each other. Both of these views are inaccurate.

If we read the Bible and take what we read seriously, we must not fall into either one of these extremes. Rather, we must try to remain "at the center of Biblical tension."

As Wayne Grudem put it so simply in his Systematic Theology:

2. Each person is fully God.

By definition, this is a paradox. It is illogical. If something is illogical, isn't it, by definition, false? So how can this be true?

I initially wrote the following essay for a "letter to the editor" assignment in my creative nonfiction composition class. It's in response to an article published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the reduction in Georgia's HOPE scholarship. I don't enjoy getting this political, as naturally anything you try to write is stricken with controversy. But for this assignment, I didn't have much of a choice.

Protesters at the Capital
Creative Commons Photo Credit
Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the article “Less HOPE becomes a fact” published in the March 11th issue of your newspaper, as well as most of the other letters that have been sent in on the same issue since that time. While your article did try to present both sides of the issue, I got the impression that you think there are many more negative aspects to this change than there are positives. At least, the vast majority of the Georgians that have since voiced their opinions on the changes are saying exactly that.

Creative Commons Photo Credit
No one is perfect, and that includes the Church. Sometimes it is important to take the time to look at what we are doing wrong, and what we can do better... even if it hurts.

From what I've observed, there are two major problems that I see in the Church today, and I'm not sure which one of them is more detrimental to the progression of Christ's Kingdom.

They are:

Many people, denominations, and other organizations fail to fully understand the Biblical concept of the Trinitarian nature of God. Generally, these people swing too far to one side or the other. They either think that God is just one person with many different characteristics, or that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are completely independent of each other. Both of these views are inaccurate.

If we read the Bible and take what we read seriously, we must not fall on either one of these extremes. Rather, we must try to remain at "the center of Biblical tension."

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As part of our company, we run a contract mowing and lawn care service (for lack of a better title).  Several township and church cemeteries have been contracted to us this year and now exist as part of our weekly mowing routes.  Lately, I have spent a significant amount of time each week mowing and trimming these particular cemeteries and gravesites.

Throughout this time, I have had many opportunities to think about people's lives and the path that took them to those very graves that I weed-whack the grass on every week.  On one distinct occasion, I remember seeing a Super Bowl XLV plaque leaned up against a gravestone declaring that the Green Bay Packers are the new world champions.  Usually when something like this is displayed, it is among various other items.  But in this instance - A Packer XLV championship plaque was the only thing that had been placed by the gravestone.  
Buying Beer
Photo Credit
A couple of weeks ago I rhetorically asked "Why Can't I Buy Beer on Sunday?" as a way to transition into a commentary on how these sorts of laws make Christianity look to those who aren't Christians. In the course of our discussion on the topic, several of you shared from your deep stores of knowledge and informed me of some of the historic reasons behind these laws. I thought I would take the time to pass on this enlightenment to everyone else.

I think that I will come to this point at the end of every school year.

The second semester comes to a close as spring begins to morph into summer. Friends that were once acquaintances begin to pack their belongings and move out of their oh-so-familiar dorm rooms, apartments, and houses.  Students returning their textbooks, finishing the last of their tests, and heading home for the summer. 

Experiences like this - The end of a year of college - Lead to an inevitably large number of goodbyes.  I find myself leaving a number of friends that I have spent months eating, studying, growing, and living with - All of whom I am somewhat sad that I will not see in the next few months of my life.....  But that's just it.



Who's to say that I will ever see that friend from second floor ever again?


How do I really know that I have many more memories to look forward to making with that friend that lives on State Street?

So often, our goodbyes sound something like any one of the following:
On Wednesday I filled you all in on an immense physical trial that I went through last year. I drew out 6 important life lessons that I learned from the pain, but I also nailed down 8 important truths that I think God was trying to teach me through that hardship.

One of the important things that we need to remember when it comes to physical pain is that God isn't really worried about us being happy all the time and having an easy life. He is more concerned with us living a Holy life and becoming more like the role model of Jesus every day!

Trials, pain, and suffering... they serve a purpose by making us stronger.

Here is the original post from last year about the 8 Things God Taught Me Through Back Pain.