Friday, December 30, 2011
My devotions today happened to include Psalm 20, in which Israel prayed to God and thanked Him for their fortunes, asked Him to respond to their troubles and reminded themselves of His power. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." I think this is a great psalm to reflect on as we close out one year and begin another. It also makes a great prayer for the New Year.
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
May he grant you your heart's desire
and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!
Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king!
May he answer us when we call.
The great encouragement of this is that we're given the answer to the people's petition in the very next Psalm--God heard David's cry and provided him with his heart's desire. May your year ahead hold the same promise and blessing!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Recently, I saw an article by Jason Hiner entitled "Take my holiday challenge: Contribute $25 to 3 of these 10 worthy charities". I thought this was a great idea, and while Hiner lists ten charities that are doing great work and are worthy of support, he's writing for a secular audience and doesn't include any overtly faith-based organizations. Therefore, I decided to compile a list of ten ministries that are not well-known but are making a real difference in defending the Christian faith. Some of their leaders you may have heard of, but most of these are operating on shoestring budgets. A gift at this time of year would be a huge help as they obey the command to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."
So look at the list below, choose three (or more if you desire) and meet the challenge of donating $25 to each. You will truly be a blessing to them and make a difference in the Kingdom.
- Reasonable Faith
Reasonable Faith is the nonprofit ministry of philosopher and theologian Dr.
William Lane Craig, who is simply one of the most active defenders of the
faith today. Craig's many debates against the most stalwart of atheists have
become legendary, so much so that after debating the recently deceased
Christopher Hitchens, an atheist web site
remarked "Craig spanked
Hitchens like a foolish child." Not content to rest only in the US,
Bill's traveled the world over, recently getting back from a very successful
tour of the UK where in the space of ten days he presented five debates and
at least eight more lectures and interviews to a largely secular public.
His clear thinking and scholastic ability are unmatched.
Support Reasonable Faith here
- JP Moreland/Eidos Christian Center
Another well-known figure in philosophy and Christian apologetics is Dr.
J.P. Moreland, who authored the phenomenal Philosophical Foundations of
a Christian Worldview (with Craig), Scaling the Secular City,
and many other popular books. However, most people don't know that Moreland,
as an in-demand speaker, also has his own nonprofit ministry, Eidos
Center. The main goal of the organization is to help support selected
speakers and authors who are doing great work in promoting the Christian
worldview. There are many churches and groups who may not be able to afford
a speaker the caliber of Moreland, but Eidos seeks to stand in that gap,
providing the funds necessary to get solid Christian thought into the minds
of the larger culture. JP's been a huge influence on me in my growth as an
apologist and his organization needs to be more recognized.
Support JP Moreland/Eidos Christian Center here.
- Stand to Reason's Brett Kunkle & Alan Shlemon
Stand to Reason is one of the flagship apologetics ministries in the
country. Led by Greg Koukl, the team there is always providing
top-notch teaching and material, whether on the radio, on the web, or
in person. While STR is pretty well known, less so is its powerful
student impact leader, Brett Kunkle and speaker Alan Shlemon. Kunkle
has been doing a remarkable job with junior high and high school students,
preparing them for the absolute war of worldviews they will face when
heading off to college. He is the originator of the Apologetics
Missions Trip concept; taking kids "in the field" to talk with atheists,
Mormons, and others hostile to Christianity. Shlemon has been cutting his own
path in focusing on cultural issues such as abortion, homosexual marriage,
and Islam. Both gentlemen do not get paid by STR, but must raise their own
support - so your gifts can mean quite a lot!
Support Brett Kunkle Support Alan Shlemon
- Mike Licona/Risen JesusMike Licona has
gained a rather elevated profile lately. In his monumental work,
The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Licona
delivers over 700 pages of support for the contention that the resurrection
of Christ is as strong a fact of ancient history as there ever can be.
However, because he also honestly included a few paragraphs that explain his
struggle with the best way to approach Matthew 27:52, he's been let go from
his previous ministry position and is now creating his own apologetics
nonprofit. Licona's scholarship is outstanding, with many talking about his
book replacing N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God as
the new standard work on the topic. As a new organization, Licona really
needs your support.
Support Mike Licona/Risen Jesus
- Evangelical Philosophical Society
If all your favorite apologists could be considered superheroes in
battling worldviews, the Evangelical Philosophical Society would be the
Hall of Justice where they all congregate. The EPS has done a stellar
job putting out one of the top-ranked scholarly journals on the philosophy
of religion (Philosophia Christi) as well as the annual EPS Meeting
where scholars can meet and discuss the latest issues in the field of
apologetics. Beyond the academic arena, they host the annual EPS Apologetics
Conference, where each of the over 30 speakers present for free in order to
keep the costs down for the general public. The EPS basically covers
their costs with memberships and subscriptions, so any donations provide a
bit of a cushion to the great work they do.
Support the EPS
- Illustra Media
We live in a visual age and if you want to get your message across, you
will need to do so visually. Concepts such as the irreducible complexity of
the bacterial flagellum or the origin of life are especially difficult to
discuss without a model. Luckily, apologists have Illustra Media to
handle the tough task of making compelling DVDs on such intricate topics -
and they do so with beauty and finesse. Using computer animation along with
interviews from high-visibility personalities such as Lee Strobel and Dr.
Stephen Meyer, Illustra makes a compelling case for the Creator that is as
faith affirming as it is awe inspiring. All this even though the two
founders operate basically out of their house!
Support Illustra Media here
- International Society for Women in
I know a lot of people think that the geeky ideas of textual criticism or
the biological challenges to life's origin are not going to resonate with
women, but there is a definite need for female apologists, and the ISWA is
seeking to make that happen. When you think about it, who is the first
person to hear questions from kids about what their teachers just taught
them in school? It's going to be Mom, so Christian women better be
trained in how to understand and effectively answer these issues. Sarah
Ankenman has put together an organization seeking to speak the language of
52% of the population (that's ladies, friends) and provide insights that men
simply don't have. We need more of these!
Support ISWA here
- Mary Jo Sharp/Confident Christianity
Speaking of women in apologetics, Mary Jo Sharp has not only embraced her
calling, but she's running with full gusto. From conference speaker to
author to a couple of very stimulating debates against Islamic scholars, Mary Jo
and Confident Christianity are showing what an apologetics ministry with
focus and purpose can accomplish - even with a miniscule budget. Her clear
style resonates well with both students and women's groups. A donation here
could help Confident Christianity cover travel expenses so she can reach
even more people with a smart and winsome Christian faith.
Support Confident Christianity here
- Ratio Christi
Ratio Christi is a unique organization reaching out to college students.
Rather than creating a whole new ministry, they leverage existing Christian
clubs and study groups on college campuses and universities across the
country, and pair them up with a trained apologist who can help answer the
tough questions that students or their professors will invariably raise. The
idea of meeting people where they are is practical and I love the idea of
empowering apologists to come out of the study (or away from the computer
screen) and meet real students with real needs.
Support Ratio Christi here.
- Apologetics 315
Ever since Brian Auten got the itch to blog his apologetics homework back
around 2007, Apologetics 315 has been one of the top resource sites for
gathering and disseminating apologetics information. The weekly
apologist interviews along with the Top 16 Apologetics podcasts and the
growing list of apologetics ministries and materials put Brian at the
forefront of internet resources for both apologists and lay people. The site
doesn't yet have a donation function as it isn't a fully qualified
nonprofit, but you may want to contribute anyway.
Support Apologetics 315 here
Blessings to you this Christmas season and during the New Year. May we continue to take every thought captive for Christ.