An Argument for the Ages…Part 1

“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”                                                (Col. 3:1-3)

In making both an apologetic and an inspirational argument…the goal of this book…to end-times Christians to encourage and to confirm our faith…for the existence of God and the truth of Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity…one place to start is to make the opening claim that the story of Abraham…and all of the life-stories of the biblical characters of faith coming after him…are too profound…too complex…too coherently integrated…and too thoroughly unconventional to be the product of human literary invention.

If this claim is true…and I think it is…this is one of the most important issues for discussion and actual testing… through applied Christian living…in all of human history.

The novelty of the through-line of the story of Abraham…having no precedent or parallel outside of the Bible…is that God…the Creator of the universe…communicates and interacts on a personal level with Abraham in a life-script that has an imaginative story, true-to-life characters, and captivating drama.

But the story of Abraham also has a life-script that introduces revolutionary, non-simplistic, highly specific, unheard-of themes that cannot be found anywhere within the universally conventional mindset of the plans and goals for “normal” human living…in 2,100 B.C. or in the twenty-first century A.D.

The apologetic and inspirational argument in this book starts out by suggesting that unless Abraham has the faith-challenging, plotline component of waiting the unexpected twenty-five years for the birth of Isaac…this being a large detail left-out of God’s promise to Abraham of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth and the stars in the night sky (Gen. 13:16, 15:4-6, 22:17)…that unless God shakes up and turns upside-down the universal mindset of worldly conventional thinking…shared by Abraham and every other human being on earth since the dawn of time…then Abraham would not have been able to muster the faith to take Isaac up to Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:1-19).

This ultimate surrender of all that is important to Abraham in trusting and obeying God in taking Isaac up to Mount Moriah…resulted in giving us an invaluable foreglimpse of what God the Father planned to do with His Son Jesus the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…two thousand years later at the cross on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem.

If Abraham and Sarah had been able to start a large family early…according to a more conventional life-script upon their arrival in Canaan…to live a commonplace, unremarkable, and unadventurous life-script…then over time it is likely that Abraham would have become so committed to the routine activities and continued longevity of a large family life…that the conditioned instinctual pull inside him to stay within worldly conventional normalcy on a going-forward basis…would have flat-out said “no way” to God’s incredibly audacious and unconventional “request” to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering at Mount Moriah.

It was the unusually unconventional component of the late arrival of the birth of Isaac…engineered by God in Abraham’s life-script…that reconditioned Abraham’s thinking and thereby set-up the context of events that inaugurated the revolutionary new concept of biblical faith.

This is described succinctly in Hebrews 11:1…”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…that scrambled-up the otherwise rigid duties, responsibilities, and long-range aspirations that normally accompany the early start and ongoing maintenance of a large-sized family-life.

This created the space within the newly liberated mindset of faith within Abraham to even entertain…much less follow through with this idea to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac…for what turned out to be the highest and best of reasons imaginable…as we see at the end of the story…and as we see two thousand years later in history, with Jesus Christ crucified on Calvary Hill.

It was the innovative, fine-tuned trajectory of the upfront preparation for Abraham that enabled him (Heb. 11:17-19) to step forward in faith…take Isaac to Mount Moriah…and become the “father of faith” for the millions upon millions of people down through the succeeding centuries of human redemptive history…who will also accept the risk to place the benefit-of-the-doubt in the reliability of the word of the timeless and living God (Isa. 46:9-10)…in their unique “called-out” missions in life (Gen. 15:13-16).

Simply put, the faith-journey of Abraham offers an alternative dynamic for human life…previously unheard-of…of God displacing our otherwise safe, risk-averse, and spiritually short-sighted ways with something far better.

This opening biblical life-script of faith…for Abraham…not only argues for its divine origin on the basis of its utter departure from worldly conventional thinking and normalcy…in God displacing our ways with His higher ways…but it also defines the intensity, focus, and the resolve of a God-composed journey of faith that is not “playing religion”…that has no overlap whatsoever with self-led self-realization.

Abraham let go of nearly everything that was important to him…in his final test on Mount Moriah.

The essence…the core…the central theme of this instruction from God to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac…was the issue of God’s way or our way.

We must remember here that God worked through the faith of Abraham to provide us with a foreglimpse of what God would do through the cross of Calvary with His own Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world…as the Passover Lamb of God.

From Inspirational Thoughts for Christians.

God Asks Too Much…Part 2

God-composed journeys of faith take the measure of our souls by creating life-events and circumstances based around faith and trust in Him…unthinkably non-existent in the self-autonomy of self-sovereignty as junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives.

This is a work of God.  It cannot come from or out of a human invented religion.

God’s plans worked against going our own way in this incredibly difficult task of Abraham letting go of his way to make room for God putting into action His higher ways and thoughts in-the-moment…Abraham not knowing that God would shortly shout from heaven “Stop…I myself will provide” (borrowing the phrase used here by Ravi Zacharias)…inferring from that time forward that only God Himself could provide a candidate worthy enough to be a human sacrifice for sin…Jesus Christ the sinless, blemish-free Son of God on Calvary Hill.

Are there other notable characters of faith in the Bible who might have a legitimate complaint that God was asking too much of them…while again like Abraham lacking the long-range foresight of God to see all of the momentous benefits their God-composed journeys of faith produced?

God asking too much of us…is actually a universal component in every biblical narrative story of faith.

As Jacob deals with his unscrupulous uncle Laban over the shifting terms regarding Jacob obtaining Rachel as his wife…Jacob cannot see ahead in time as he, his wives, his twelve sons (Joseph already there as governor), and one daughter take refuge in Egypt as a result of the great famine…the beginning of the nation of Israel.

At the most difficult point in this God-scripted journey of faith…Jacob could have complained…by virtue of not possessing timeless foresight…that God was asking too much of him (Gen. 31:4-17).

As Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison ponders the discouraging fact that his attempt at procuring his freedom through the butler and baker’s intercession to Pharaoh had failed…and contemplates the course of his life up to that point in time…just prior to Pharaoh’s dream and the interpretation given by God to Joseph…Joseph probably considered the notion that in staying within the vision of his two earlier dreams received in Canaan as a teenager…that God was asking too much of Joseph.

At the burning bush…we sense that Moses comprehends the enormous magnitude and sheer impossibility of delivering the Israelites out of the grasp of Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt.

At many times during the miraculous ten plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Exodus across the wilderness of Sinai…Moses probably thought that God was asking too much of him (Ex. 18:18, 32:19; Num. 20:1-13).

After the death of Moses, God speaks to Joshua and tells him: “Be strong and of good courage” (Josh. 1:6)…implying that the out-numbered Israelites might be looking at an insurmountable challenge…in attacking the walled and fortified cities of the Canaanites.

After the Amalekites attacked and burned Ziklag…taking captive the wives and children of David and his men…at this lowest point in the adventure of faith in preparation to become the king of Israel…David might have thought that God was asking too much (1 Sam. 30:6).

More could be said about Gideon (Jud. 6:15), Elijah (1 Kings 19:10), Ezra (Ezra 4:17-24), Nehemiah (Neh. 2:19-20), Esther and Mordecai (Est. 4:16), the three young Hebrew men in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:16-18), Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6:16), Jeremiah (Jer. 20:7-9, 14-18), and Peter (Lk. 22:61-62)…to name only a few.

We may set high expectations and ask a lot of ourselves.  But it takes someone outside ourselves…a parent, high school teacher, piano teacher, sports coach, personal trainer, mentor at work, or a husband or wife…to name a few…to inspire, encourage, and push us to achieve our very best.

Only God would and could ask too much of us through a God-composed journey of faith life-script that has faith and trust on-the-line…at risk…within a personal relationship…that also contains the by-product of unselfish service to other people.

The positive characters in the biblical narrative stories of faith not only develop a personal relationship with God…but also baked into their unique journey of faith storylines is a current and future blessing for other people…sometimes in large numbers.

The built-in, innate capacity within us to respond to the positive confidence and encouragement that people outside of us place in us to achieve our best…the root of which is a form and demonstration of love…is a reality within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

In a God-composed journey of faith life-script…God simply takes this innate capacity to a higher place.

This again is outside the creative imagination of human literary fiction…and makes the case for a divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith.

From Inspirational Thoughts for Christians.

God Asks Too Much…Part 1

Along our God-composed journey of faith…at some point in time…we discover that God seems to be asking too much of us.

This is a truism that will resonate with Spirit-born Christians engaged in a genuine adventure of faith…actively pursuing some type of Christian ministry or calling…following the leading of Jesus Christ.

The fact that this is a reality in our Christian lives, and that we see this recorded in the biblical narrative stories of faith…is a compelling argument for the existence of God and the divine origin of the Bible.

God asking too much of us through the interaction of a life-script calling or mission-plan not of our making…outside of our origination but instead coming to us through revelation…that stretches us beyond our seeming capacity in a divinely initiated relationship with God…that has the clear trajectory of God-ward toward us rather from us-ward toward God…to ascribe this to the imaginary creativity of human literary fiction…is nonsensical.

A personal relationship between God and people that reached this level of intimacy and commitment…of God asking too much in our calling or mission…is beyond human literary invention…as a made-up characterization of God or as a biblical narrative story of faith.

Such fictionalization…falls completely outside of the normalcy of worldly convention and thinking…and would not stand up to the empirical scrutiny of human experience for any length of time.

No one would ever invent this reality of God asking too much of us within the context of a highly specified journey of faith life-script…in which God displaces our ways with His ways…because fictionalized religion based on self-realization and self-works could never make the huge conceptual transition from the self-reliance of autonomous individualism…of self-realization… to the contrary concept of a faith-journey of God-sovereignty.

One explanation for why God asks too much of us in a journey of faith…is that He has a lot to give usHe has a lot of territory to cover.

In a biblical narrative story of faith…not only does God have a lot to give us…but through the working out of the events of a journey of faith…these biblical characters have a lot to give to mankind…God giving through them to other people…and to us.

It almost seems in these biblical narrative stories of faith that God skips over the reasons “why” for a particular storyline…and jumps immediately into actualizing the events as if the “why” is not that important for the time being…or is beyond our current comprehension of the fuller “big picture.”

It is as if God is saying to the biblical characters of faith: “trust me for now…I know exactly what I am doing…even though to you it is not entirely clear at this moment in time.”

The idea that God would use the biblical characters of faith…as a means to give what God has…through them to us…using the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1 while bypassing collaboration as to the “why” of their specific and varied callings in life…is a singularly unique and specifically innovative concept in the broad marketplace of ideas…in the breadth and width of human experience.

God loving other people through us…through the ingenuity of the events of a God-composed journey of faith life-script…is a divine creation of God.

No naturalistic explanation of genetic mutation, variant traits chosen through natural selection, geographical isolation, reproductive barriers, the resultant inability to mix gene pools, and Darwin’s common descent tree-of-life…will account for the origin of this uniquely biblical concept.

A look at a few of the biblical narrative stories of faith would be helpful here.

Acts 23:11 records Jesus visiting Paul in a vision at night, saying: “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

After being violently rejected by the Jerusalem populace while giving his defense and witness from the steps of the Roman garrison castle (Acts 21:31-22:30)…and again violently rejected by the Jewish religious and political leaders of the Sanhedrin Council…by the very home-town crowd Paul used to be in-tight with before converting to Christianity…the discouragement must have been overwhelming.

But I do not think Paul was ready to “throw in the towel” and give up on his calling and ministry at that time.  But Paul may certainly have entertained the notion that God was asking too much of him.

Paul could not see ahead down through the upcoming twenty centuries to our current time…when his thirteen letters to the churches (fourteen if we include Hebrews) would strengthen and inspire tens and hundreds of millions of Christians in the “church age”…and establish orthodox Christian theology for the benefit of countless numbers of believers.

On that night in the first-century following these two enormous setbacks for Paul…Jesus does not explain all of the fine details of the “why” to Paul as to what is happening in the moment…but confirms Paul’s calling and ministry once again with His divine presence and encouragement.

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

I think this verse can…and it does…apply to the unimaginable sights and sounds we will discover in heaven.  But it can also describe God having a lot to give us…and to give through us…in the short length of time available in a human life-span.

God asking too much of us may simply be the product of the richness of what God has to give us…and the imperative of using the most brilliantly concise combination of events and circumstances to convey the “all truth” of John 16:13 to us in the most creatively insightful way imaginable.

The mission of Abraham on Mount Moriah may be the most difficult thing anyone has been asked by God to do (Gen. 22:1-14)…but also had the highest and purest benefit to us.

God saw the mature and developed faith of Abraham…as God had intended…that Abraham believed that God was able to raise up Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19)…and said to Himself: “yes, this is the biblical faith that will bless untold millions in the coming centuries and for all eternity”…earning Abraham the priceless moniker “the father of faith.”

But equally important…the entire scenario of the ram caught in a nearby thicket…that Abraham then uses as a replacement for Isaac as a sin offering to God…informs us of the timeless foresight of God in being able to craft countless similar scenarios large and small for our benefit and for the benefit of others down through the centuries…involving the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…scenarios containing the highest, best, and most elegant outcomes imaginable.

Abraham could have said to God: “in this that you are asking me to do with Isaac my only son…God…you are asking far too much.”

Only God has the foresight to see down the long centuries in time to a lonely hill in Jerusalem displaying three crosses of execution…the center cross bearing the divine Son of God Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sin.

Abraham could have said to himself as he and Isaac traveled to Mount Moriah: “all this is working against me”…and in the highest sense imaginable…it was.

Biblical narrative stories of faith have the uniquely novel goal…not found anywhere else in all of human literature or experience…of removing going our own way from our life-script trajectory.

From Inspirational Thoughts for Christians.

Introduction…What is in this Book 2

Everyone can visualize a young father kneeling on the living room carpet…a few feet away from a chair upon which is standing their two-year old son or daughter…saying unto them: “jump into my arms, and I will catch you.”

After the son or daughter jumps the short distance and is caught into the outstretched arms of their father…laughing and gleefully shouting “do it again, Dad, do it again!”…not only has a fun new game been invented but a bond of trust has been strengthened between father and son or daughter…that Dad will catch me each time in this game when he says “jump” from the chair into his arms.

One important point here is that it is the father who invents this game.  The two-year old does not say: “Dad…I am going to stand at the front edge of this chair and jump…and you are going to catch me.”  All of the logistics and outcomes of this new game…of having fun but also building a relationship of trust…are premeditated within the creative mind of the loving father.

I cannot speak for Abraham as he journeys from Haran to Canaan…or Joseph as he works through his unofficial MBA training in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison…or Moses as he walks with his brother Aaron toward Egypt to deliver the Israelites…or David when he approaches Goliath with his sling and stone…or Peter at his personal interview with Jesus on resurrection day…or Paul after he discovers on the road to Damascus that Jesus is the Messiah.

Anyone who has heard the voice of God in the Spirit in their calling…in some way or another senses an authority, a confidence, an assurance of certainty that God is someone I can trust and follow…even more importantly someone I can love…unlike anything else in all of human experience…as we should expect.

This is what see observe in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and it does not make for anything like accurate, human literary fiction.

Good human literary fiction is based upon conventional human experience.

But God inserting life-scripts having His higher ways and thoughts…displacing our ways in the process…is so unconventional it cannot be found anywhere in human literary fiction or anywhere in human experience…outside of the Bible.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are too complex, too sophisticated, too functionally integrated, and too creatively outside of the boundaries of normally conventional thinking to be the product of human literary imagination.

If following God was very similar to everyday normal life…then the God-track would not only be suspect as being a human invention…but it would offer very little benefit in terms of genuine departure, change, and hope for a transformed better life…compared to the self-sovereignty track of going our own way.

The more inexplicably implausible the origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith are by way of humanistic literary invention…in other words the larger the obvious gap between going our own way versus picking up our cross to follow Jesus Christ is…then the more reformation content and value there is in a God-composed journey of faith life-script designed not only to lead and guide us into all truth (Jn. 16:13) but also to establish a context wherein we can get to know God within a personal relationship…something that is entirely supernatural (Jn. 10:27-28, 11:25-26, 14:8-9).

The concept of split-second, instantaneous revelations and pronouncements by God…spanning the duration of a micro-second within the timeless environment of God (Isa. 46:9-10)…cannot by definition actualize into the first-hand experiences of the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over the time intervals of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…within our dimension of time.

My mother used to say at breakfast on a cold winter morning before we headed off to school that “oatmeal will stick to your ribs.”

This is why God invented time.

This is why God invented journey of faith life-scripts as the optimum vehicle for the discovery of the knowledge of good and evil…for every believer (Jer. 31:31-34).

The lessons learned first-hand through a journey of faith spread-out over time…will stick to our ribs for all eternity.

This is why a timeless God gives us the assurance of the eternal security of our salvation…before we enter into the risk of an adventure of faith (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14).

This is why a timeless God has already factored-in our mistakes and shortcomings into our adventure of faith…covered by God’s grace…not just at our initial acceptance of Christ and becoming spiritually born-again (Jn. 3:3-5)…but throughout our journey of faith…come what may (Eph. 2:8-10).

From Inspirational Thoughts for Christians.

Introduction…What is in this Book 1

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”                                    (1 Pet. 3:15)

This book is a series of short-length, stand-alone essays that start with the main theme that the biblical narrative stories of faith could not possibly be the product of human literary invention…but instead have a divine origin, composition, and intent.

If this is true…and I think this can be convincingly shown to be true using popular, commonsense logic…then the implications are enormous.

Is God real…what is He like…and how do we best live our lives…are all wrapped up in this one question of whether or not the biblical narrative stories of faith could be a human literary fabrication…or instead could only come from the mind and heart of a brilliantly creative God.

But before moving on to make commonsense apologetic arguments in more detail for the existence of God, the divine origin of the Bible, and the truth of Christianity…in this introduction I should disclose my theological biases and presuppositions…that have a direct bearing on the logical consistency and strength of my arguments.

I believe that born-again Christians have the full assurance of the eternal security of their salvation (1 Jn. 5:13; Phil. 1:6; Jn. 10:28-29)…through their free-will choice (Mk. 8:34-38; Jn. 4:14; Rev. 22:17) to accept Christ through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). 

This certainty is based upon their knowing (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 1:18) that they have accepted Jesus Christ by faith.

I believe that faith precedes salvation (Rom. 5:1; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:13)…that upon hearing the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4)…if we believe and accept Christ…then we are saved…and can never lose our salvation (Jn. 3:16).

I believe that the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is the perfect atonement for the sins of mankind (Col. 2:10)…and that this atonement is offered freely to every person for them to either choose to accept or to reject (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; Jn. 1:11).

I believe that the concepts of predestination, election, divinely timeless foreknowledge, free-will choice, the capacity to believe, and the universal outreach of salvation are all derived directly from scripture…and are brilliantly interwoven, adjudicated, balanced, and resolved…interpreted by God Himself…within the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God is the only person who could blend seemingly contradictory concepts together within the numerous biblical life-scripts of journeys of faith…bringing together the unmixable ingredients of God’s will, our free-will choice, God’s timeless foresight, and our four dimensions of space and time.

As I will argue many times in essays throughout this book, this is a compelling, commonsense, stand-alone, fact-based apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

This biblical interpretation has a direct bearing upon the actualizing within our lives of the type and quality of a journey of faith described in the Bible…from Abraham through Paul…due to the high risks involved…if our salvation was not secure.

As a practical matter…no one in their right-mind would take the risk to venture out into a journey of faith following a God-composed life-script…in which we cannot…by divine intention (2 Cor. 5:7)…see around the next bend in the upcoming corner or over the top of the next hill …as to how steep, perilous, or narrow the way may become…if by following this life-script our eternal salvation was placed in jeopardy.

God knows that no one would or should accept the risk of a biblical-style walk of faith…if our salvation was in the slightest way dependent upon our often flawed human performance over the course of our lives…dependent upon faith plus some additional measure of our good-works.

No ancient or modern Christian would step into their risk-filled, God-composed life-script…crafted after the biblical pattern of an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul…without the upfront assurance of the eternal security of their salvation.

This all-important issue illuminates a critical, commonsense apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible…simply…that a God-composed journey of faith life-script is so foreign to worldly conventional thinking…and therefore by nature highly risk-filled in its reliance upon the good faith and character of God…that God is wisely offering us a safe-conduct upfront…through the blood of Jesus Christ…securing our eternal salvation…before we willingly agree to accompany Him out into the newness and novelty of a walk of biblical faith.

This is precisely why God invented time in conjunction with the material particles, energy, and the laws of science at the Big Bang…so that we could experience the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over time.

In this uniquely biblical reality, we maintain our free-will choice, but the program of salvation and the journey of faith life-scripts are entirely of God…as logically they must be…if godliness is to come into our lives.

Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That not of yourselves…not of works…because human good-works cannot get us from one end of the spectrum-line…self-sovereignty…all the way over to the other end of the spectrum…God-sovereignty.

A functionally effective program for salvation that includes a God-composed journey of faith life-script…like that of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul…to name only a few…must have these components of eternal security, free-will choice, the universal atonement of Christ (in the Old Testament looking forward in time to the coming of the Messiah), the innate capacity of people to be able to exercise faith or to reject God, and the all-important grace of God…to not only forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross…but to make allowances for our flawed performance within our individually scripted journeys of faith…thus removing out-of-the-picture entirely the concept of self-works earning our way to salvation.

From Inspirational Thoughts for Christians.

My Testimony 3

My Conversion Story

At age 17, as a junior in high school, I almost made it into the ranks of professional surfing in Southern California.

I got fourth place in a 2A/3A junior-age division surfing contest in the old WSA (Western Surfing Association)…which if I had gotten first-place would have allowed me to have an automatic entrance into the professional contests as 3A regional junior champion.

I was in the Windansea Surf Club in the junior division…ages 15-17… and was a member of the Greg Noll surf team…a legendary big-wave surfer from the 1960’s and a successful surfboard manufacturer.

When I was 18, I worked at the Greg Noll surfboard factory part-time while a senior in high school and the summer after graduation…selling surfboard foam blanks, fiberglass, resin, and fins to people making their own homemade surfboards in their garage…which was popular at that time.

Two of the guys on the surf team ran into me at the surfboard factory while I was outside watering the potted plants…in late July of that summer…and began to tell me about their becoming Christians…about the house near the beach where I surfed that was a “house church” long before there was such a thing…and gave me some Christian tracts to read and asked me if I was interested in going.

I listened politely and took their literature…but said I was not interested.  They probably walked away thinking that I was a hopeless case…unreachable in my carefree worldliness.

I am sharing these details to show that my mindset was not anywhere near the stereotype that atheists paint of Christians…inaccurately projecting their own viewpoint of skeptical confusion on to other people.

I was a fairly normal and well-adjusted person focusing on surfing as the main interest in my life…not unlike many other young men at my age living near the ocean.

The personal story I am about to recount has been and is today being repeated for hundreds of millions of Christians around the world…with variations as to their individual backgrounds and how they came to Christ.

After this discussion at the surfboard factory…over a two-week period something unexpectedly new changed inside me.  Even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into…thinking I would be walking into some social clique-ish type gathering with boring people I could not relate to…I surprisingly decided to go…by myself… on a Sunday evening.

I knew where the house was…on a large corner lot across the street from the ocean.  I had walked by this house many times on the way to the “village” for donuts or hamburgers…after surfing just down the beach a short distance away.

This house had a very large living room with a high ceiling…which seated around 125 people sitting on fold-out chairs…with young people sitting on the fireplace hearth and on the stairs, and overflow people in the hallway.

As I walked in the front door…I found a seat in the back where I could navigate a quick and easy exit if I did not like the service.

When I first sat down I immediately noticed something different.  The people already there ahead of me were seated quietly…not up and walking all over the room visiting with friends before the start of the service.

When the music and singing started, I noticed that people were enjoying the experience and genuinely glad to be there…and not looking at their watches with thoughts elsewhere on getting home later to watch the end of a baseball game on television…or their favorite TV show they were missing.

When the message started…I could not tell you now in hindsight what it was about.  All I remember is that God opened up my life before me…and showed me on His score-card how I was doing.  I did not sense condemnation or judgment on His part…but a very real offering of a new life option that I had never before contemplated.

During the preaching of that message…I encountered two new revelations that changed my life…first that God existed…and second that He knew all about me.

God knew all about my flaws as a person.  But I sensed a supportive optimism in His evaluation and intimate knowledge of me…that offered hope in a new future me that was encouraging on a level I had never previously experienced.  God had faith in me…despite my checkered past and numerous shortcomings.

As God opened up my life before me…He separated the two realities regarding me into two parts…that I was not aware of until that moment in time.

God showed me on the one hand what the world thought of me…and what it would continue to think of me going forward…having the worldly conventional acceptance of a blond-haired, blue-eyed California surfer who was well-known and well-liked…enjoying my life on my terms and according to my standards…because that was all I knew about.

Then God showed me His more discerning and insightful assessment…as my Creator…of how I was falling short in so many areas…being self-centered, unthoughtful of others, lazy in school and not using my God-given intelligence, and basically without any plan or direction for my life other than fulfilling the first priority of me, myself, and I…so universally prevalent and socially acceptable in the world…a world ignorant of God’s higher ways and thoughts.

Until that night…and meeting God for the first time…I had no idea there was another option…that there was another way.

Again, I did not sense any condemnation from God…just an honest and insightful appraisal of the direction I was going…from the informed perspective of the one single Person who would have the inside information.

One of my first reactions was: “oh no…I am undone…I am exposed as the imposter I am presenting to the outside world…when I am really something else not very commendable or admirable.”

At the beginning of the alter call…looking back now…I can remember having the sense that God at this point actually stepped back…and more or less said: “now that you know the truth…you can continue onward in the way that you are going but you will always know from here onward that it is a lie…or you can ask Me into your life and I will make you into a new person and lead you into becoming the person I created you to be.”

While heads were bowed and eyes closed…I sat momentarily on the fence…knowing that a decision for Christ would alter my life forever…and that it would cost something in that I would have to give up some if not all of my past lifestyle.

I remember that I was the fourth out of five people to accept Christ that night by raising my hand…and the procedure which I like the best…is that I did not have to go forward to be singled-out along with the other four new believers…but that all of the people in the room stood and said the sinner’s prayer together as a group.

I believe that God has eternal foreknowledge and foresight…living in a timeless environment (Isa. 46:9-10).  As God stepped back…to enable my free-will to choose Him…He knew beforehand that my response would be yes.

But this is one of the realities that compellingly argues for a divine origin of the God of the Bible…having a complexity and integrated blend of God’s timeless existence…coordinated with human beings living in the four dimensions of space and time…that is the diametric opposite of being simplistic or simple-minded.

God’s foreknowledge and my free-will came together that night so many years ago now…in the mystery of the creation of a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) that is beyond human literary imagination to invent.

This is why I have included this essay in my book.

As previously said above…this is the common salvation experience of tens if not hundreds of millions of born-again Christians across the globe…with slightly different circumstances but the same result…of meeting the living God for the first time and being changed forever.

If atheists and skeptics want to characterize my salvation experience as a delusion…so be it.

What happened next is what separates my experiential perspective…from the viewpoint of atheists and skeptical critics of the Bible.

Over the next two weeks I felt a very real release from the weight of my past failings and shortcomings…the uncertainty of the future no longer being a nagging concern…my spirit rejoicing with the angels in heaven that another lost soul…me…had obtained eternal life…had escaped spiritual darkness and entered into light.

I literally became a new person.  The internal reformation was an unmistakably supernatural event.

It was not a personal epiphany…not self-realization…not an intellectual recognition of a system of thought I agreed with…and not some satisfying of a previously unseen internal deficiency I needed to remedy through self-reform or wise outside human council.

This salvation experience had its grounding…its roots…its substance…in meeting the living God on a personal basis…for the first time in my life.

What will infuriate some atheists and skeptics…if they even grant any credibility to my testimony…is that this does not fit within the stereotype of the person raised in the church and partially brainwashed by its teachings.

I was not only an unqualified sinner…lacking any good-works merit to attract the positive attention of God to be singled-out for salvation…but I was not even searching for God.

I didn’t find God…He found me.  I wasn’t searching for God…He called me and I simply responded to His invitation.

When a person discovers that God actually exists…and that He is the God of the Bible…this changes the outlook on everything.

When I started reading the Bible for the first time in my life at my conversion…because I then had been introduced to the living God…had been spiritually born-again…and was living in a new walk of faith following Him…the supernatural in the Bible was not a problem for me.

I knew from that time forward…on independent grounds…that the supernatural was real.

If God could transform me…like He did…then He can raise Jesus from the dead to be the Savior of the world…or perform any number of other miracles recorded in the Bible.

I was not reading the Bible as mere human literature…like we do in university religious studies classes.  The Bible came alive as the Word of God…unlike anything I had known previously or since then.

I have no idea in terms of absolute mathematics, physics, and chemistry how God opened up the Red Sea for the Israelites to safely cross on dry land…or the composition of the manna that fed the Israelites on the exodus to the Promised Land…or how God can make the lips of a donkey move while generating clearly articulated words understood by the prophet Balaam…when donkeys do not possess vocal chords that can produce intelligible speech…or a number of other supernatural events that atheists and skeptics choke on…in the Bible.

I am not sure that these one-time, non-repeating events will ever be understood through the human enterprise of scientific investigation.  The God created reality of the orderliness and intelligibility of our natural world may not extend into the transcendent capacity of God to perform the actions of miracles that fall outside of the normal experiences and observations of everyday phenomenon.

My Christian Life since My Conversion

Space will not allow telling about my clear calling into a career in building construction…how I began writing books on housing construction at age 30…being a C-minus student in the two required English composition classes I took years earlier in junior college…and after 13 years of drawing illustrations and writing the accompanying text…I got the first of four books on building construction accepted for publication by McGraw-Hill (1995-98 under Bart Jahn).

I could tell about the origin of my seven Christian books…this being my seventh…and my struggle to accurately listen in the Spirit to what God was telling me through my life experiences and reading of the Bible…as a non-scholar…to articulate into words…sophisticated ideas and concepts that I still feel ill-equipped to tackle.

My goal in this testimony is to offer the contrary rebuttal to the atheistic viewpoint that assumes that God does not exist…critiques the Bible and Christianity in this same shortsighted light…and then assumes that Spirit-born and Spirit-led Christians approach the Bible and their personal journey of faith…in a similarly doubtful and uncertain way.

This has not been my experience…or the experience of the many Christians I know.

I may not be practicing my Christian faith at the high level of the analogy of playing tennis at the professional level as at the U.S. Open.  An outsider critiquing my life may or may not see a “professional” Christian in action.

But my experience is real and genuine…and is based upon a personal relationship following God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

I cannot emphasize enough the rebuttal to the false charge that faith in the God of the Bible…is a delusion.  My personal relationship following Jesus Christ within a God-composed adventure of faith…is not a product of group-think or conformity to organized churchianity.

I hope the complex, specified, and coherently integrated information in the topics discussed in this book…is itself plausible and compelling evidence of authenticity as to the genuineness of the existence of God, the divine origin of the Bible, and the truth of Christianity…played out through God-composed life-scripts for imperfect people like myself.

I want to close out the book with the following verses from Romans 8:35-39:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Not height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My Testimony…Part 2

My Background Growing Up

As I said earlier, I was not raised in a Christian or church-going family.  I cannot think of a single friend of mine in grade school or high school…whose family attended church.  I can honestly say…looking back…that I did not know a single person in my childhood…or teenage years…who openly claimed to be a Christian and a practicing follower of Jesus Christ.

Christianity was simply something that was not a part of my life growing up.

My parents were divorced when I was eight years old.  Before then we did as a family occasionally attend a mainstream denominational church…but after the divorce my mother felt ostracized in that church…so we moved over to a different denominational church nearby.

But throughout my early childhood, my recollection was that our attendance was spotty…was never regular…and had no impact upon me in terms of having any comprehension of the Bible, Christianity, or of God.

When at age eighteen I heard the Christian gospel message for the first time…and was contemplating what to do during the alter call following the message…if someone would have offered me a million dollars to recite one Bible verse from memory…I could not have done it.

At the end of that first service after asking Jesus Christ into my life…I was given a paperback copy of the New Testament as a gift.  It took me about two weeks of reading the gospels in the New Testament for the first time…to figure out who Jesus was and where He figured into all of this.

I was so uninformed on that first night upon hearing the salvation message…I asked God into my life…having as yet no clear idea as to who Jesus was.

I basically came off the street into Christianity…having no previous background of “brainwashing” in any sense whatsoever…either pro or con…to inform or influence my decision for Christ.

At that time…I was also not looking for God…not searching for purpose and meaning in life…and thoroughly disinterested in religion of any sort.

I was simply too self-absorbed as an up-and-coming teenage competitive surfer in Southern California.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I was always a good athlete growing up.  I was in the “top ten” each week in batting average and in pitching earned-run average in Little League baseball when I was eleven and twelve…published in the weekly newsletter distributed at the ballpark…and played third base in the All Stars at the end of the regular season (a position I did not like).

I will always remember the sensation as an eleven-year old taking the mound as the starting pitcher on a Saturday morning…looking around at the freshly mowed grass…the outfield fence with all of the local sponsor’s advertising billboards…the parents in the bleachers…picking up the brand new baseball and applying rosin powder from the rosin bag…digging out some of the dirt in front of the pitcher’s rubber with my shoe cleats…throwing several warm-up pitches…seeing the umpire sweeping off home plate with his hand-held broom…the first batter stepping into the batter’s box…winding up and throwing a fastball down the middle…hearing the pop as the ball hits the catcher’s mitt…seeing the umpire throw out his right arm…and yelling steeeeeeee…rike one!

These are some of the fondest memories from my childhood.

In Little League baseball…when I was nine years old…my older brother Brian made it on to the major league Red Sox team.

In those days, one nine-year old was allowed on each major league team of ten-to-twelve year olds…and for the logistics benefit of the mothers and fathers coordinating the taxying of two or more sons to various games and practices…for convenience they would place the nine-year old on the same team as the older brother.

So at age nine I was a “major leaguer”…one of only two kids in the fourth grade in our elementary school class that year to achieve this lofty designation…thanks solely to having an older brother who was eleven…and who had made the team.

In the next year when I was ten…my brother and I played on this Red Sox team that became the Little League equivalent of the Bronx Bombers. 

We had a left-handed pitcher Glen Thompson with an ERA below one, a catcher Dave “Fudge” Ptak who hit the most home runs in the league that year, and my older brother who batted 590 and was second in the league in batting average that year behind Skip Jarvis who batted 615…who lived down the street from us…was the same age twelve as my older brother…and was part of the local crowd I played sports with at that age. I was the starting second baseman…my favorite position.

I will never forget our baseball coach that year…Ed Grabowski…who taught me and my brother how to play baseball.  Our team had eighteen wins and four losses…and was the best team that year.  At the awards banquet…as a ten-year old…the championship trophy I received seemed half my height.

I grew up in the same area…and went to the same schools with the same kids from grade school through high school…although our high school had 3,000 kids and there were 850 seniors in my graduating class.

I was moderately good looking in high school…and had some cute girlfriends.  I went to the high school dances and proms…and as a freshman went to some of the “away” football games with my girlfriend on the school bus…when I was not out with my drinking buddies.

Because of having a single parent…a full-time working mother…I had a lot more freedom than kids from two-parent homes…but there was a line beyond which I did not cross…out of respect for her.

But I was way ahead of most of my peers in high school in a somewhat moderated, near-the-edge of notoriously scandalous behavior…having a black sheep reputation of exploration into debauchery and worldliness.

When I walked into that home church on a perfect summer evening on Sunday, August 10, 1970…and became a Christian that night…I had already experienced things that many of my age-group would explore and discover in their upcoming college years and beyond.

At age 18, no one would accuse me of being sheltered, naïve, or religiously brainwashed.

Being a “latch-key” kid…I was worldly street-savvy beyond my years.

That is my general background growing up.  I knew a lot of young people from playing baseball and at the beach.  I was relatively popular…had a wide-circle of friends…was relatively normal in a worldly sense in the high school party-scene and the drinking of alcohol…but did not do drugs…even though they were all around me and easily accessible…because of my surfing.

And at the time…I was not looking for God…and could not have cared less about Christianity…or anything to do with Jesus Christ.

This should give the reader a broad outline of what I was and where I was coming from…before I became a Christian.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.