A Witness Can Be Wrong and Reliable

In every crime scene I’ve ever worked, both evidence and artifacts were present; it’s my job to separate one from the other. Did the murderer cause this blood smear, or was it caused by the paramedic who responded before me and tried to resuscitate the victim? Some smears may be evidence I can use to reconstruct the struggle, others may simply be artifacts that are completely unrelated to the crime. The evidence matters, the artifacts are inconsequential.

The “evidence” of scripture also contains unrelated “artifacts”. Bart Ehrman, for example, has drawn attention to the number of textual variations (artifacts) in the New Testament. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman describes his own descent from faith:

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Crashing into Jesus

Enter Biblical Story:

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arm, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16


Pre-motherhood interpretation of the passage above:

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The Great Commission Summit 2016: On Transforming Culture

Readers, are you ready for this? I hope so because it is so good and inspiring and well, challenging too. But oh so good. Read on.


If you live in America, i.e., the west (for those in CA, please read, the wild, wild west because I know you just imagined Will Smith wearing cowboy get-up while rapping “wild, wild, west” as did I and this is why I like you), the following is a short list of why we struggle to transform culture.

 

 

  1. We live in an individualistic society vs. a community oriented one.
  2. We have comfort and the ability to retreat to a dynamic subculture, free from pain and suffering.
  3. We tend to have a higher than what ought to be dependence on structure, laws, rights and self.
  4. We have a pretty low threshold for pain. The more affluent we become, the lower the threshold sails downward.

Why would I say such things to you?! This is not a downer blog; I pinky swear in the air to you right now.


I simply do not have the insight for the aforementioned list of our western woes, not to mention I am an American from the wild, wild, west specifically, so my perspective is limited here. I heard the statements above coming flying straight from the mouth of activist Prashan De Visser, President and founder of Global Unites at The Great Commission Summit 2016. Global Unites is a very large and very radical youth movement of peacemakers around the world. Their vision is to inspire, connect and equip youth to transform global societies through movements that promote hope, nonviolence and reconciliation.


Say what? Yes, youth, as in teens, babes, little lambs, littles, and the like are transforming global societies by promoting hope, nonviolence and reconciliation. (Side note: MLKJ was a mere 25 years old when he began his ministry of nonviolence and reconciliation. Respect and encourage your youths friends.).


Prashan is a humble and kind man, so naturally he did not leave us only with what hinders the west from participating in transforming culture and reconciliation work, he also reminded us of a different way of life; a way reflective of the Kingdom of God through His followers wherein we become active participants in reconciliation work so desperately needed in our world today.


  1. We were created for community. It is who we are. Resist the urge to withdraw, stand back and isolate. Rather, let’s shift our thinking from what’s in it for me to how might this benefit and care for those around me.
  2. From sea to shining sea, America is full of retreat like and feel gated communities of heaven on earth, and 10 min down the road people are experiencing hell.
  3. Our dependence ought only to be on God. He is our plan A, B and C.
  4. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Embrace pain knowing and believing God’s Spirit will be our helper through it. He will help us overcome it.
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Why Students Should Still Study Abroad

Since the academic year started, both beheadings from militant groups and the coverage of Ebola have gone viral. Concerned parents want to know if their son or daughter will get a disease or if life outside the United States is safe. Judging solely by the cable news outlets, one would remain almost paranoid as one crisis after another seems to get around-the-clock coverage.

Yet, nearly 300,000 U.S. students will study abroad in a given year and that is still a good thing. And yes, students should still consider study abroad and there are many reasons, but let me briefly explore three of them.

First, we live in an interconnected, economically interdependent, and increasingly globalized world.

Will Animals Be in Heaven?

This is a broad question that is easier to answer than you might think. The Bible talks about a “new heaven” and a “new earth” (Revelation 21:1). Heaven is not just a place “out there,” but also a place “down here.” Heaven will not only be a spectacular Holy City, but also an incredible “earthly” place of astounding variety and beauty.

The book of Genesis tells us God created the heavens and the earth with an extravagance of flora and fauna (plants and animals) necessary for our survival and enjoyment. The prophet Isaiah declares, “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Even after the fall, God’s glory is evident, though clouded somewhat by sin. But in heaven God’s glory will once again be on full display in everything he created (Habakkuk 2:14), including animals.

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Lauren Daigle Garners "Top Christian Album" Award

Lauren Daigle, Centricity Music artist, took home “Top Christian Album” How Can It Be at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards held at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas. Facing competition from fellow artists TobyMac (This Is Not A Test), Joey + Rory (Hymns That Are Important To Us), Chris Tomlin (Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship), and Hillsong United (Empires), Daigle was also nominated for “Top Christian Artist” along with Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, and the winners, Hillsong United.

“Music is changing my life more and more each day,” says Daigle. “I'm recognizing the value in being able to communicate through a language that every human on the planet can experience in some form. It's such an honor to see the response of those who have listened and connected with the sounds. Seeing this transfer of communication is priceless. Thank you, Billboard, for allowing the opportunity!”

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Doing Less Equals Being More

I love to write. And it takes a lot of time to write.  I roughly have 18,000 full-time jobs. I’m a full-time wife, full-time mom, and full-time home maker with a full-time job! It goes without saying (yet here I am saying it; that’s how smart I am you lucky reader you), I struggle to find the time to wash my hair thoroughly let alone to write a blog. Most days something has to give - either for lack of time or lack of energy - and unfortunately for me in this season, it's the writing I've had to hang up like a vintage 1989 telephone.

Held to a Higher Standard

Criticizing, marginalizing, shaming, and otherwise denigrating Christians has become something of a national pastime. And we don’t just hear the negative talk from the unwashed. A lot of the critical words come from Christians themselves.

Are you surprised? We Christians can be hypocritical, judgmental, and holier-than-thou—sometimes all at once. And when we are, we embarrass ourselves, not to mention the God we claim to follow. So we call out the offenders, mostly in blogs or books, hoping they’ll straighten out and fly right.

You know who we’re talking about. We wrote about them in our book, I’m Fine With God…It’s Christians I Can’t Stand. Here are a few categories from our book, plus a bonus category:

  • Christians who impose their morality on others
  • Christians who think science is the enemy
  • Christians who use the Bible as a weapon
  • Christians who don’t practice what they preach
Bonus Category
  • Christians who support Donald Trump
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Atlanta, Georgia

Last week, I was in Atlanta, Georgia, for meetings. Every meeting was within the same hotel or walking distance from the hotel, so my experience was rather narrow. Yet, in travels, that's been consistent. One may not know the depth of the experience, until arrival. Honestly, depth also comes from ordinary places and ordinary moments. 

While at dinner one night, the southern fried chicken, gravy, and fixings was outstanding, but I was struck more with Richard, our waiter. He not only was exceptional in his service, he took time to connect with us and in doing so, earned himself a substantial tip (ok, it helped that a successful international attorney was in our dinner party). Richard loves people or fakes it as well as anyone I've seen. More than this: Richard serves people in a way that invites us all to consider our service.

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4 Reasons We Should Accept the Gospels As Eyewitness Accounts

In the movie, God’s Not Dead 2, I was asked to defend the historicity of Jesus and the eyewitness reliability of the Gospels. Many skeptics reject the eyewitness authority of the Gospel accounts, even though the early Church selected and embraced the canonical Gospels based primarily on the eyewitness authority of their authors. Some critics even argue the Gospels were never intended to be seen as eyewitness testimony, in spite of the fact the earliest students of the apostles (and first Church leaders) repeated the content of the Gospels in their own letters, affirming the eyewitness status of their authors. As a cold-case detective who examines eyewitness accounts every day, I investigated the accounts in my book, Cold-Case Christianity; A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. My investigation led me to conclude the New Testament gospels should be considered eyewitness accounts for four reasons:

1. Eyewitness Authority Was Affirmed By the Gospel Authors
The authors of the Gospels proclaimed their authority as eyewitnesses (or as chroniclers of the eyewitnesses), and the earliest believers embraced the traditional authorship of the eyewitnesses. The Gospel authors (and their sources) repeatedly identified themselves as eyewitnesses:

2 Peter 1:16-17
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

John 21:24-25
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

Luke 1:1-4
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

2. Eyewitness Authority Was Confirmed By the First Believers
The early believers and Church Fathers accepted the Gospel accounts as eyewitness documents. Papias, when describing the authorship of the Gospel of Mark, for example, said, “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not indeed in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ.” In addition, Papias, Ireneaus, Origen and Jerome affirmed the authorship of Matthew’s Gospel by the tax collector described in the account, written for the Hebrews in his native dialect.

3. Eyewitness Authority Was Foundational to the Growth of the Church
The eyewitness authority of the Apostles was key to the expansion of the early Church. The apostles were unified in the manner in which they proclaimed Christ. They repeatedly identified themselves, first and foremost, as eyewitnesses:

Acts 2:23-24, 32
“This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him… God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”

4. Eyewitness Authority Was Used to Validate New Testament Writings
Even Paul understood the importance of eyewitness authority. He continually referred to his own encounter with Jesus to establish the authenticity of his office and writings. Paul also directed his readers to other eyewitnesses who could corroborate his claims:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

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