Lee Strobel on Grace (Part 2)

The Case for Grace Is bestselling author Lee Strobel's most personal and, arguably, his most powerful book to date. In it he shares his personal transformation alongside seven real-life tales of men and women whose lives have been transformed by God's grace.

In a telephone interview with the editors of ConversantLife.com, Lee shared how the stories he chose for the book reflect his own lifelong quest for grace.

Did your own experiences with God’s grace help you choose the kind of people you wanted to interview, so you could show the different shades of grace?

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It's in the Simple Things; Or is it?

How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
    How plainly it shows what he has done!–Psalm 19:1

It’s not uncommon for my son Justice, to wake up from his nightly slumber, clapping his hands and grinning at the start of a new day. From his crib, his baby browns scan his room, his whole face smiles as he glances from his toys to his pictures and room décor.

Throughout each day, he’s likely to dance with gusto to his favorite Motown hits playing in our home. While running around outside, he waves to helicopters flying overhead and behaves as a mocking bird when the crows perch themselves in the tree above, caw-cawing along with them. He flails his arms with excitement at the sight of food he so enjoys to eat. And he gets the giggles when it rains.

Recently I said to a friend, “It’s in the simple, everyday things Justice finds his greatest joy.”

And then it struck me like an Easter bonnet on a church lady.

Simple.

Are the birds, rain, the sun and moon, all creation, not to mention huge, heavy, metal objects that defy gravity and fly through the sky, simple? Or could it be I have lost the awe in such wonderful things?

I’ve come to realize it’s officially a sad day the moment I consider it simple the moon perfectly hanging in space or water falling from the sky in all shapes and forms.

Job also lost awe in the day-to-day acts of God. Granted, Job was in a much different situation than in my life, however, Gods response to Job is a response to us all. 

Read what God once upon a time told Job:

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Tags | Family | About God

Lee Strobel and The Case for Grace (Part 1)

Lee Strobel almost died before his own story joined the pages of his newest and most personal book, The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives (Zondervan, 2015). 

In this captivating book, the bestselling and award-winning author of several “The Case for” books shares his own personal transformation alongside seven real-life tales of men and women whose lives have been revolutionized by God’s grace.

These grace-filled stories are contrasted with world religions focused on earning divine favor. Only Christianity reveals a God who showers humanity with unmerited favor...amazing grace.

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Yes, the Christian Worldview Is Supported by the Evidence

Richard Dawkins once famously said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” He’s also quoted saying, “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that.” Dawkins isn’t the only atheist who believes Christianity can’t be supported by evidence. Sam Harris said, “When considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn't. Religion is one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies.” Statements such as these, while they are rhetorically powerful, expose a lack of understanding about the nature of evidence. Dawkins and Harris aren’t professional case makers, and they aren’t familiar with the broad categories of evidence we use in criminal and civil trials every day. Detectives and prosecutors understand anything can be assessed evidentially. There are only two categories of evidence, and Christian Case Makers use both types of evidence when making a case for Christianity:

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Forget Community: I Want a Family

Today's guest post is by Christopher Greer, a writer and pastor living in Southern California. This blog was adapted from a recent series of talks about life as the church. 

In the Christian churches I visit and the conversations I have with Christian people, I hear one word more than any other. Community. 

It’s in sermons and prayers, on church signs and Instagram posts, and it is frequently appended to other words like “authentic,” “healthy,” “diverse,” and “gospel-centered.” And nine out of ten young adults that I talk to say it’s the number one thing look for in a church. 

Community, community, community. 

We talk about it, long for it, imagine it, and expect it, yet it remains hopelessly illusive. But, it’s our own fault. For every person that claims, “What I really want is Christian community,” I hear a list of reasons why the church they just visited isn’t the kind of community they want:

  • It's too conservative (or liberal)
  • It’s too charismatic (or reserved)
  • It’s too old (or young)
  • It’s too big (or small)
  • Its preacher (or music) is bad
  • It’s not interesting (or diverse, or reformed, or non-denominational, or close-to-home) enough. 
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Learning to Delight in the One who Delights in Me

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalm 37: 3-6

I used to read this passage and only have eyes for, "the Lord will give you the desires of your heart."  How wonderful I thought. God wants to give me the desires of my heart! I seemed to subconsciously ignore the part about delighting in the Lord and trusting him. Details...details.

Before I had my son, I delighted in things like

  • a good sandwich
  • a well brewed cup of coffee
  • a leisurely walk on the beach
  • a pistachio chocolate bar
  • a mason jar full of freshly made juice
  • the feel of the southern California sun on my face
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Tags | Family | Delights | God | love

Edinburgh, Scotland

Standing at the window, I watched a young person vomit on to the street. The drinking binge officially ended and while I never met the person nor did they look up to my 4th floor room, I simply noted that vantage points matter.

A few days later, I sat at a table in a coffee shop and a plaque stated that this is where J.K. Rowling had written part of Harry Potter. She’d been a regular before Harry became huge. And I figured on that day, sometimes where you sit matters.

A friend gave us a tour that recounted the martyred covenanters and the day ended at Blackfriar’s cemetery. Once again, vantage points matter.

Yet, the waitress in a local pub is someone I remember as much as anyone else.

Resting in His Arms

Of all of the things that come with being with a mom – the mommy brain, sleepless nights, cuddles and snuggles, drool, poop and oh so much more – one of my absolute favorites is when my 13 month old Justice, crawls up into my lap, tucks his arms in against his one-pack-Buddha-belly and falls asleep resting on me.

Justice has a sleepy song he sings to himself just before he fads into slumber. Well, calling it a song is a bit of stretch; he sounds more like a creaking door, in need of a serious douse of WD-40. He creaks and creaks until at last he relaxes and settles in for a good nap on his momma.

And I love it! I often wonder what he’s thinking as he sings his creaky song and zero’s in on sleep.

If you’ve been in Christian circles long enough, you may be familiar with those who admit guilt over falling asleep while praying, especially at night. Maybe you’ve experienced this. This is bad theology.

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How (and Where) Did Judas Really Die?

I’ve been writing intermittently about some of the alleged Gospel contradictions skeptics cite when arguing against the reliability of the New Testament. When two or more eyewitness accounts appear to disagree, we’ve either encountered an error on the part of one of the witnesses, are somehow misreading (or misinterpreting) the accounts, or have insufficient information to reconcile the descriptions. The death of Judas, as recorded in two places in the New Testament, appears to present us with a contradiction:

Matthew 27:3-10
Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.”

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The Vatican

Attending mass at 7 a.m. is not usually a big deal, but this past week, I managed to be at an early mass at  the altar of transfiguration inside the Basilica on St. Peter's Square. In other words, at the Vatican. 

Taking a brief tour with the priest afterwards, he pointed out various interesting facts about St. Peter's and the fact that this is the largest church structure in the world. HIstorical statues intersected wtih tourists who intersected with church history and before 8 a.m., we had walked, talked, prayed, and been duly humbled by a place unlike any other church on the planet.

As we walked outside, construction had started on the new showers being put in for the homeless, as ordered by Pope Francis. My new friend pointed up toward the window where the Pope regularly appears and mentioned that this particular Pope is known to simply show up for mass or suddenly appear for prayer--unexpectedly and without much fanfare. And then, one turns back to the showers being constructed for the down-and-out of Rome.

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