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Fear Landscapes

Fear Landscapes

If you’ve read Veronica Roth’s  “Divergent” then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention “fear landscapes.” If you haven’t read the book, I’ll explain. In the novel, those initiates who joined the “Dauntless” faction were forced to endure their individual fear landscape, a virtual reality simulation where they were exposed to their worst fears. To pass the test, they had to defeat their fears. Only the brave could join the Dauntless. The Dauntless are a faction that pride themselves on bravery; however, they have a very warped understanding of it. For the Dauntless, bravery has come to mean engaging in dangerous and unnecessary challenges, such has jumping out of a moving train, or the idea that avoiding conflict makes you a coward. I think often times this an idea of courage that is perpetuated in our society as well—the idea that being brave means you have no fear, and participate in reckless activities. This is not courage; this is stupidity. Courage is the quality of mind and spirit that enables you to act rightly in the face of uncertainty, difficulty, danger, pain, or fear. Courage is not the absence of uncertainly, difficulty, danger, pain, or fear…it’s doing good despite such terrors. The greater the danger, the greater the pain, the greater the fear, the greater the darkness…the greater the potential of courage! Courage is something we are all capable of. It’s not reserved for just those few “brave” individuals. The Bible is full of verses calling on us to be courageous. Here are four: Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in... read more
Is Faith A Crutch?

Is Faith A Crutch?

Faith is widely misunderstood today. Many consider faith to be merely a crutch used to cope with the realities of life. Faith is seen by many to be the rejection of reason and rationality. The prominent atheist Richard Dawkins considers faith to be, “the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”  – Rather than seeing Christians refute this claim, it seems many have come to accept that Mr. Dawkins is correct, and not only that, but it also appears that many Christians have come to see faith despite the evidence as something praiseworthy.   – Both of these ideas about faith are wildly inaccurate.   – Nowhere does the Bible advocate a “blind” faith or making a “leap” of faith. We should not believe in something just for the sake of believing.   – Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”   – Therefore, faith is believing in things that we can’t see. At first reading, you may be wondering how this is any different than blind faith. If you’re believing in something you can’t see then you must have no good reason to believe it. It’s blind faith. Right?  –   Not so.   – We all rely a lot more heavily on faith than knowledge in everyday life. If we only acted on knowledge, then we would be paralyzed and unable to live. – Say you decide to go to McDonalds for your lunch break. You pick McDonalds because it’s quick,... read more

Is It Wrong To Desire Admiration?

I have encountered Christians who have admitted that what drives them is admiration, and for people to think of them with favor and as being a unique person. Such people will also claim that selfish ambition can be a good thing, and that every action everyone takes is inherently selfish anyway. No one does the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do. Is this healthy? Is this what should drive us as Christians? Can selfish ambition be a good thing, as some claim? I was rather disturbed to hear Christians saying admiration is what drives them, however, I sympathize with them at the same time. I myself certainly have been driven by the desire to glorify myself, and it’s still a temptation that comes up from time to time.  It’s true that ambition alone, a strong desire to do or to achieve something, is not a bad thing. Indeed, I would agree that ambition is better than apathy or laziness. However, I don’t agree that selfish ambition is good.   It is also true that few people do the right thing merely because it’s the right thing to do. That is reality. I don’t believe that this is the case with everyone, nor do I agree that merely because it’s natural to be selfish that such behavior is justified. Belching is also very natural, but I don’t think we should make a habit of exercising this natural behavior in the presence of others. I think it is a bad thing that we are so easily directed by selfishness. So often, we replace the word of God... read more

Joy > Grief

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 God wants us to be joyful. The Bible even commands that we “count it all joy” even when we encounter trials. Does this sound good to you? I think this idea—misunderstood—can easily be seen as a burden. “I have to be happy even when bad things are happening? If I’m not happy does that mean I’m sinning?” Indeed, if this is what the Bible was saying, it would be a burden. Thankfully, it is not! There is a big difference between “happiness” and “Joy.” Happiness, as many understand it today, is a pleasant emotional state. Joy is often used in this same sense so it is easily confused with happiness, but it is actually much more! Joy is an overall and ultimate sense of well-being. It is the knowledge that everything is okay. We are not called to always be happy, but we are called to always be joyful.  Why? There are a couple very important reasons for this. 1. A lack of Joy displays a lack of faith in God: Joy is an overall and ultimate sense of well-being, understanding everything is okay. Here is where many will claim that everything is really not okay. We live in a dark and terrible world full of evil. How could you say it’s “okay”? You must not be living in reality. No, that’s not true. The darkness... read more
God Is Angry, For You Have Sinned

God Is Angry, For You Have Sinned

I was walking across campus the other day when I saw a large crowd of people amassed on the central green known as “The Oval.” When I went to investigate, I discovered the source of the crowd was a couple of Christians wielding signs, and telling the amassed to turn from their sin, especially of the sexual variety. It’s pretty common for evangelists to come to The Oval. – –  Probably 80% of the crowd was there for the entertainment, and they had a good time mocking the Christians. One guy thought he was pretty clever and made his own sign by writing with a sharpie marker on a piece of cardboard. “American cheese is the only cheese!” He shouted, proudly holding up the sign. I have to admit, that was pretty funny. – The Oval –  The Christian signs were less humorous. One denounced homosexuality as a perversion and was accompanied by a Bible verse. Another condemned abortion, and yet another sign pronounced that “God Is Angry For You Have sinned,” and listed a whole slew of sins that have made God angry. Two sins were bolded and highlighted in red: “Hating God” and “Hating Your Neighbor.” – Over the noise of the crowd, I heard the Christian speaker’s voice. I’m not sure what the context was, but he said something along the lines of, “The only difference between prostitutes and many of the girls here is that prostitutes get paid, while you give it away freely.” This statement was followed by a chorus of angry “OHHHs” and looks of disdain. I was pretty shocked he would say... read more

A Man With Experience Is Never At The Mercy Of A Man With An Argument…Or Is He?

The most frequent criticism I receive on my blog is that I haven’t personally experienced some of the things I talk about or make arguments for. I have not dated, so I can’t know that it’s bad. I have not courted, so I cannot argue that it is better than dating. Sure, I quote people who DO have experience, but it doesn’t matter because I personally have not experienced it. One such critic told me that, “A man with experience never has to answer to a man with a theory,” which seems to be a rephrasing of the common expression, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of an argument.” I prefer the second iteration of this expression, since the first is self-contradictory, and blindly dogmatic. It’s self-contradictory because the expression itself is a theory, and to say you believe this theory is true because you have experience that it’s true, is circular reasoning. Also, there is quite a difference between “never has to answer to” and “is never at the mercy of.” There is some sense in which this saying is very true. A person who has experience building databases on a computer is likely going to be more knowledgeable than someone who has never built a database. This quotation is very applicable in specific instances. Indeed, experience is extremely valuable. However, there are several very real problems with relying too heavily on one’s experiences, or using the fact that I have not dated/courted to disqualify me from writing about my beliefs. 1. Experiences are unreliable A theory, by definition, is a group of ideas... read more

Arming Christians To Fight The Good Fight And Live The Good Life

As the subtitle of my blog reads, my purpose for maintaining “The Arsenal” is “Arming Christians to Fight the Good Fight, And Live The Good Life.” What does this mean? First of all, I believe there is only one way to live the “good life,” and that is through life in Christ. Now what exactly IS life in Christ?  Many Christians disagree as to what this means, or how to accomplish a “life in Christ”. Some will claim that this is completely subjective, and that there are many ways to live a life in Christ. I agree with this viewpoint to some extent. There are a variety of careers and life paths one can follow that can allow one to live a “life in Christ”. Jesus was a carpenter, but I believe if Jesus were on the Earth in the flesh today, He could take up just about any honest occupation and would not be impaired from fulfilling His mission. Likewise, since we are to be like Christ, there are many different ways we can live our life and still fulfill our purpose. We all have different callings, and all are equally important.  However, I believe that everything in our lives can have an impact on our spiritual growth. Very few things in life are neutral. If this is the case, then we can deduce that some practices are better or worse than other practices. Some are even out-right wrong, and harmful. The purpose of my blog is to explore and bring light to those beliefs, practices, and truths which lead to human flourishing, and critique those that don’t.... read more
When Speaking The Truth Makes You A Target

When Speaking The Truth Makes You A Target

I recently came across a very good Youtuber by the user name of “Christy0Misty”. I watched her series on Feminism and it was so good I wanted to share it here on my blog. – Unfortunately, in my attempt to find out more about her, I learned that she has deleted her channel and left Youtube, as a result of an overwhelming backlash of hate-mail and threats (though her videos have been uploaded by other users.) This situation reminded me of just how dangerous the truth can be, and that we really are at war against the lies and deceit of the enemy. –  Satan will do everything he can to stop the truth from being known. Why? Because all truth leads back to God. If the truth can be destroyed or twisted, then evil can fester and spread. We as Christians cannot shy away from the truth.  – Jesus spoke in parables because if He had spoken bluntly, then He would have been murdered much sooner than He was. However, privately to His disciples, He always explained what His parables meant when they asked. However, later Jesus told His disciples, “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.”  – I don’t think I’ve done as good a job at “proclaiming upon the housetops” as I could have. But Christy0Misty, and others like her remind me that we all have to boldly proclaim the truth in love. If you watch her videos, you will see that she handled the topic of Feminism very professionally... read more

The Key To Happiness

I came across a blog post today that, frankly, left me feeling very sad. The words of this blogger so clearly reflect the mindset and fundamentally flawed worldview of our age, the results of which, are everywhere. The blog post starts out: “So this is life for you. Whether you’re rolling in money and surrounded by models, or sitting on a street corner freezing your homeless butt off, or somewhere nicely between the two. Whether you’re gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual. Whether you’re black, white, Asian, Indian, etc. Whether you’re female, male, both, neither, or between the two. Whether you’re a genius, average, or an idiot. Whether you’re a democrat, a republican, anarchist, or libertarian. We’re all human, though. We all basically look the same inside… …What matters isn’t your bank account, your sexuality, your race, sex, intelligence, or political party. What matters is what you make of your life for yourself. The people you affect in the duration of your life time, the hearts you touch, and the memories you make.” First of all, I think this blogger is combining dissimilar things and calling them similar. You cannot control your race, or gender, whereas, your political beliefs and sexuality are choices. Second, I think her idea of “what matters” is severely off. “What matters is what you make of your life for yourself.” Perhaps I’m misunderstanding her, but after reading the rest of the article, I don’t think I am. I would contend that “what matters” is not what you make of your life for yourself, but what you do for others and how we love Christ. This... read more

College Advice From My Neighbor

Last week, after finishing school for the day at my grandparents’ house (where it’s quieter), I prepared to head home. I went into my grandparents’ garage to retrieve my bike, and I ran into my grandpa talking to the neighbor from across the street. They were both standing in the driveway, and I said “hi” hoping to avoid a conversation as I needed to get home to help make dinner. My hopes were dashed. “So is this the new library or what?” my friendly neighbor asked. “I guess you could say that.” I answered. He burst out laughing. Then, the inevitable question came. “So where are you going to college?” Great. I thought, not thinking it very great at all. “Well I’m sorta doing college on my own.” More laughter, and my neighbor turned to my grandpa and asked, “Whose idea was this? “Not mine,” my grandpa answered, no doubt just as confused as to why I hadn’t bugged out of town yet. “I’m studying for what are called CLEP tests, where you study for a test in order to test-out of certain college classes.” A look that was a mix of curiosity and surprise came over my neighbor’s face. “Okay, testing out of classes.” “Yeah, to save time and money, and then next year I’ll probably end up going to Ohio State or somewhere,” I continued. Trying to explain my counter-cultural approach to the point in life where you either go to college or people think you’re a loser. “Do you know what you’ll major in?” my neighbor asked, obviously puzzled-by and interested-in my strangeness. “No, I don’t... read more