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Archive for August 2007

Is the Bible a reliable document?

OK, in the same letter as below, the question was raised “Is the Bible a reliable document?” This is a great question for which there are outstanding answers.

Let me point you to some good sources for extensive answers, then give an abbreviated answer.

  1. Clear Evidence study guide – By Mark Ashton J Zondervan
  2. Is the New Testament Reliable? By Paul Barnett, IVP
  3. More than a Carpenter By Josh McDowell
  4. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (BTW, Lee will be at CCC this December! Watch for details to come!)

The Bottom line answer to your question is this: the New Testament is THE most reliable historical document of its day. Apply the typical tests that you would apply to any historical literature of it’s day.

Just on the life of Jesus, here is the evidence.
How many eyewitnesses wrote about his life? 4 – Matthew, Mark, John and (probably) Paul. Add in Luke, who was a first-century gentile historian and you get five outstanding sources on the life of Jesus.

Did these authors agree or contradict? They agree to an amazing depth of detail

How close were they to the events? Eyewitnesses or interviewers of eyewitnesses – the best proximity to the events.

Are there first-century non-Christian sources who can verify some of these teachings? Amazingly, the answer is yes!

  • Josephus – a Jewish Historian
  • Cornelius Tacitus – a roman historian
  • Pliny the Younger – Roman, just outside of first century
  • Suetonius – Roman Historian

The above four authors, confirm amazing facts about the historical Jesus including: birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, he was called the “Christ”, he claimed to be God, it was reported that he did miracles, he claimed he would ‘depart and come again, he was executed by Pontius Pilate via crucifixion in Judea, and that his followers taught he rose from the dead. Not bad for non-Christian sources!

Further, the preservation of the original manuscripts far exceeds that of any other ancient source. There are more ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament (5,000+ compared to the second-place document the Illiad with 643 copies) than any other historical document. Further, the copies that we have closer to the original than any other ancient document. What does this mean? It means that it is highly unlikely that ancient monks and scribes messed with the New Testament, mistranslated, or snuck in misinformation in any significant ways.

That is the short account. Fundamentally, you can trust the New Testament to give you accurate information about Jesus. It is more reliable – by a very wide margin – than any other historical document before 1000 A.D.

Saved by Inerrancy?

I got a good question over the “Question Mark” line today. The essence of the question was “Do I have to believe that the Bible is inerrant (free from error or mistakes) in order to be a Christian?”

Many people will be surprised that my answer is ‘No’. In order to be a Christian, you need to fully trust in Jesus as the forgiver of your past and the leader of your future. You buy into his message that the Kingdom of God is available to ordinary people and you trust Jesus to be King of you. That’s the essence of it.

Now, if you do not believe that the Bible is fundamentally reliable but want to call yourself a Christian, you do have some significant problems. The biggest problem is how you will get reliable information about Jesus. If you eliminate the five best sources about the life of Jesus by considering them unreliable (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul – all found in the Bible), then you are left with precious little information about Jesus to base your faith on. It is truly difficult to place your faith in Jesus without having a basic trust in the New Testament Documents.

There are some who decide to go the “pick and choose” route. That is, they pick the stuff they like about Jesus/the Bible and leave the rest out. Interestingly, this is what Thomas Jefferson did, literally cutting out passages about Jesus that he did not like! This has one massive problem. How do you know if what you are choosing is the right thing? In other words, what makes a person think that now, 2000 years later, they know what Jesus did/did not say and do better than the eyewitnesses who were on the scene?

If you choose yourself as the authority about Jesus over his friends and followers, not only is it presumptuous and arrogant, it is intellectually dishonest. In essence, the Bible and Jesus become subject to your whims. If you are the authority over Jesus, then he can’t be the king/leader of your life.

So, back to the question of inerrancy. In the Christian and Missionary Alliance, our doctrinal statement states that the Bible is inerrant “in it’s original texts.” This means that it is possible that scribes transcribing made some scribal errors in copying the texts. However, even though minor scribal errors may exist, the scripture is fundamentally sound, the most reliable source of information about life and God, and the ultimate authority for doctrine and practice.

At CCC, we count on the Bible as the authoritative text about Jesus. If the text messes with us and we disagree, then we have to realign our lives around what it says, not vice versa.

Our First Steps

Here we are. Taking our first steps towards being a multi-site in Sarpy County.
I hate to use such a cliche, allow me to get it out of my system…but “each journey starts with one small step.”

Whenever a baby takes a first step, there are lots of cheers and encouragement from one an all. It is humbling to see and hear the number of people cheering and encouraging us with the start of CCC-Sarpy.

This blog will be a venue for me to communicate how CCC-Sarpy is going along with any new developments.

You will see new articles and material that can help you understand more about multi-sites.

Looking forward to the journey!

116 References

With amazement, someone came up to me in the bullpen yesterday and said he could not believe that there were that many references to the Kingdom of God in the gospels! If so, he asked, why have I not heard about this much?

Great question, but instead of bringing an answer I really don’t have, here is a better challenge. How about looking up some or all of those references to learn about the kingdom more fully?

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of biblegateway.com, I was able to quickly every reference to ‘Kingdom’ in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Check out the attachment for what actually turns out to be 130 kingdom references (116 about the kingdom of God and 14 other kingdom references) in the gospels!
Kingdom References – 130.doc

Question Mark

Got a question about spiritual things? God? Bible? Science? Faith?

Everybody is welcome, but I especially love hearing from youth, atheists, skeptics, agnostics and other people who disagree with my slant on things. Dialogue is great, eh?

I sure don’t have all the answers, but I’d love to take a crack at it! And it might just make the blog 🙂

Fill out the Question Mark email form to send your question or visit the gathering service to ask in person – 12:30 Sundays in the student center. At Gathering, we always do Q and A…so come on out and Question Mark.

Digging Doggies

Our two miniature Schnauzers are diggers. Since we got them in January, they have escaped from the yard no less than 40 times by digging under the fence. After doing our best to fill in with bricks, create barriers, even to cajole and plead with them to stop digging, we decided it was time to resort to the invisible fence.

**ZAP**

Grace and Gabbi took easily to their collars and wandered happily about the yard. But when each got close to the fence….

**ZaP**

Their reaction was curious. Instead of finding out where the limits were and enjoying their freedom within those limits, they just stayed on the porch…or inside. Before the invisible fence, they would spend hours running, playing, wrestling and enjoying the yard. 95% of the yard is totally usable, but in order to avoid the pain, they are avoiding the whole yard.

Pain is a great teacher, but a terrible master.

I wonder how many people are just like my dogs. They have been burned by life. But instead of learing appropriate boundaries, they close themselves off from huge amounts of joy and freedom to be super sure that they are not burned again.

Yesterday and today I am carefully taking my dogs around all of the safe places in the yard to show them their freedom and fun zone. I have to hold them in my arms and speak soothing words into their ears so that they can learn where it is safe while they trust me. It will take time to learn the boundaries and feel the full freedom again. But one step at a time they’ll make it.

Perhaps God is inviting you to this same venture into freedom… maybe he wants you to remember that it is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Sure, when you take risks, you get zapped by life once in a while. But most everything we try IS a risk. God is good…join him in all he is doing, let him carry you around the yard and show you his tender goodness.

Power of Inspiration

I just got back from the Leadership Summit yesterday. It is a videocast of the most execptional leadership teaching of our day to 100,000 leaders at sites around the world from Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago.

Bill Hybels gave a brilliant talk about the power of Inspiration in leadership. In it, he said that inspired employees are 40% more productive, 87% less likely to change companies and have significantly fewer sick days, theft and interpersonal conflict. Inspired people inspire other people. Everything soars when inspiration is on high. Here are some key ways Bill encouraged people to stay on top of their own personal inspiration. (which, incidentally is the key to keeping others around you inspired.)

  • Stay crystal clear about your calling
  • Surround yourself with inspiring people
  • Read books about people who push against the odds to victory
  • Occasionally make it a point to be with Exceptionally Inspiring People
  • Participate in events that fill your soul with inspiration
  • Maintain the physical disciplines of sleep, diet and exercise
  • Pay attention to your working environment – put up pictures, signs, posters, words that inspire you
  • Immerse yourself in a recreation activity that you totally love
  • Practice daily spiritual disciplines that keep you connected to God

Want to be inspiring? Put these into practice!

Summit with me

Hey- Theres about 50 of us from CCC going to the Leadership Summit at Brookside next week. Mostly elders and staff, but anybody who is a leader or is interested in leadership is welcome. This is world class leadership training with people like Colin Powell, Warren Bennis, Bill Hybels and John Ortberg out of Willow Creek. It is a satellite broadcast of what is happening with 80,000 people worldwide next week.

If you are interested, you can find out more at www.willowcreek.com. If you have questions about our group, check in with Jannie at janniep@cccomaha.org. There are still spots available.

Missing Ingredient

Besides the person of Jesus, the Kingdom of God is the most important and all-encompassing concept of scripture. In the Old Testament, they predicted it, described it, prophesied it and pictured it. In between the testaments, they yearned for it. And when Jesus came, there was nothing that he talked about more. Funny we don’t hear about it much.

Author John Noe says “The kindom (of God) remains one of the most misunderstood, misconstrued, confused, abstracted, and contested realities in Christianity. Most churches today rarely mention the kingdom, let alone teach and obey its established and present-day elements.”

Perhaps we should think about this more…

Joy Creators

There are certain cultures that just accellerate joy. Have you ever walked into a business where you know people love working there? Some families just exude familiarity, fun and laughter. Other places you go seem dim and depressing. What kind of culture are you in? Do you ever wish your culture was more joy filled?

Or, far more importantly, what kind of culture are you creating?

Your business, family or church culture is dependent on the players in that culture. You are player in that culture. You have an amazing amount of control over the kind of culture that you exist in. Joy has this ability to infect people around you, bounce off and return to bring joy back. I walked into a room earlier this week where everybody was laughing hysterically. I didn’t hear the joke, but could not help but smile, then begin to laugh at people laughing. There is something about being around joy-filled people that brings more joy.

Joy is contagious! It’s no wonder that Paul said “Be joyful always…” (I Thes 5:16)

This wellspring of joy flows out of you when you connect deeply with Jesus. Regardless of circumstances, his joy can flow from your gut like rivers of living water, bringing life and vibrancy to all around you. Why? Because some things never change…and when it comes to Jesus, the news is really good.

He has got you covered. He died for you. His resurrection promises new life. His forgiveness is sure. In the end, we know that he wins the final battle. If you are on his side you are a winner. So, our day-to-day existence can throw whatever curveballs it wants to throw…and still, we can choose joy for us and create joy for others.