The Question No Christian Wants to be Forced to Answer

We’d love nothing more than to have our son, Jordan Watts, back. But, I remember something Jordan said in a video that was played at his Memorial Service: “If God were to take all my fingers away I would love him just the same.” (Jordan was an artist and his hands were his life.)

Jordan’s love for Christ has forced me to come to terms with my own faith. The question I’ve been forced to answer is: “If God were to take my son away would I love Him just the same?” My answer: I do. I love You, Lord. Help me when I’m weak, angry, exhausted, and lost. I trust You. You have Jordan. I know this to be true. I love you.

What about you? Can you say, “If God took away (fill in the blank) I would love Him just the same.”? Standing next to ten fresh graves, Job said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (1:21)

These are the hard, messy questions of Christianity. It’s what Bonhoeffer described as “costly grace.” Anyone can sing the songs, and preach the sermons when life is good. But, what about when life is so painful you can hardly breath?

Thank God for the cross and the empty tomb – through which “we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)  nick

“The Heavens are Telling [SCREAMING] the Glory of God.” (Psalm 19)

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” 

(Psalm 19:1-2)

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In this book, “Infinite Minds,” John Leslie, a leading anthropic theorist, argues that fine tuning [of the universe] is best explained by divine design. He says that he is impressed not by particular arguments for instances of fine tuning, but by the fact that these arguments exist in such profusion (abundance; in other words, it’s the body of evidence for God that is simply overwhelming.). Paul wrote, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Leslie cites the following examples:

(The first time I read the following examples…. my head exploded. I thought “leptons” were little people in Ireland. I had to read the passage multiple times, research words/constructs/concepts, etc… and i still don’t fully understand it. But read it anyway – it is but a minute reminder of all that must “hold together/work together/function properly on a razor’s edge” for our universe to exist. And, by the way, “for the universe to exist” is only the first step. “To make human life possible” is an entirely further mind-boggling argument. Bottom line: “In the beginning, God created….” (Gen. 1:1)

1. The principle of special relativity ensures that forces such as electromagnetism have an invariable effect regardless of whether they act at right angles to a system’s direction of travel. This enables genetic codes to work and planets to hold together when rotating.

2. Quantum laws prevent electrons from spiraling into atomic nuclei.

3. Electromagnetism has a one-force strength, which enables multiple key processes to take place; it allows stars to burn steadily for billions of years; it enables carbon synthesis in stars; it ensures that leptons do not replace quarks, which would have made atoms impossible; it is responsible for protons not decaying too fast or repelling each other too strongly, which would have made chemistry impossible….

These examples given by Leslie strengthen my faith by reminding me that the Jesus of the Bible is exactly who He said He was – and that my son is alive, with Christ – the Almighty.

After I studied this, I stood to my feet, lifted my hands and cried out, “hallelujah! – our God reigns!”

Be encouraged today, my friends!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick
(The quote from Leslie was taken from “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind” by Antony Flew. Leslie did not cite any Scripture. I added these as the Truth to which Leslie’s evidence leads.)

Getting to Know Laughter Again

Those who know me on most any level know that laughter is a sizable part of my DNA. Due to the loss of my son (and how we lost him), there hasn’t been much to laugh about the past year. Then,….i came across these ridiculous photos. (Two of them were taken a few years ago, the other one when I was in college.) They made me smile. And the Lord said to me, “You will laugh again. A lot.” David wrote, “weeping may last for the night,but joy comes in the morning.” Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Ps. 30:5; Luke 6:21)

For those who’ve struggled to find laughter in your lives, trust Christ and His Word – that’s what I’m doing. It’s all I know to do.

PHOTO #1: I woke up one morning and discovered that my hair had been awake all night, partying. PHOTO #2: Uh…it appears i found some snacks at the office, and….well, I don’t know…. PHOTO #3: around 1983; my fraternity at HSU in Abilene; Fall Homecoming Parade; Kazoo Marching Band; I’m the leader; Yes, I’m wearing a space helmet. (Our mascot was the “rebel”, hence the Rebel Flag. This was way before the era of political correctness.)

hairsnackskpo

All He Did Was Invite Me to Church

For 30 years, I’ve been sharing my story with teenagers of how “a boy who grew up in a violent, alcoholic home wound up serving the Lord in full-time, vocational ministry.” The story always includes the following:

1. A friend of mine invited me to go to church with him.
2. The people at his church were the most loving people I’d ever met. That church was the embodiment of love. I wanted to live there.
3. After watching how much hope, truth, and purpose Christ was giving to me and everyone around me, I told my Youth Pastor (Jim Hardwicke) I felt like God was calling me to surrender my life to Him in ministry – whatever that may look like.
4. On July 15, 1980, at Youth Camp, I surrendered my life to the gospel ministry. My Music Pastor (Bob Griffin) told me, “Nick, if you can be happy doing anything else, God’s not called you.”
5. I can honestly say, even after 30 years, I don’t believe I could be truly happy doing anything else.

That entire story began with an invitation from a friend who loved me enough to invite me to go to church with him. That friend, who lived directly across the street from me, was Curtis Simpson. I mention his name every single time I tell this story because Jesus started this story by using the simple, loving invitation of Curtis. I always finish my story by telling students, “You never know the impact a simple invitation to church may have on a person. For me – it set in motion a lifetime of adventure with the risen Christ.”

I haven’t seen Curtis since 2000. This afternoon, guess who dropped by to see me. The mountain of a man in the photo here is my friend & brother, Curtis Simpson. I’ll never be able to thank him enough for inviting me to go to church with him.  nw

curt & nick

The Old Hymns – Why They Still Matter

The following was sent to me by a Youth Pastor friend of mine in the DFW area:

Hi Nick, I came across the statement below in a parenthetical paragraph about doctrine being passed down through hymns (a practice you know stems from the NT). The book is written for High School grads & college freshmen. As a side note, they challenged students to read a hymnal and look at how each song presented the gospel in capsule. Here’s the quote: “Did you know, by the way, that the hymns of the church throughout history were intended primarily for that purpose — to teach and reinforce sound doctrine? … These songs weren’t just to dance to. They were to learn from.”

In a Christian Worship Music world flooded with “new”, don’t be quick to abandoned the “old.”

nw

How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind

British philosopher, Antony Flew, was the 20th century’s champion of atheism. When atheists couldn’t answer an argument, or felt they were losing ground, they would call on Flew.

But then Flew, a genuine and honest thinker, made a decision that shocked the atheistic world – he changed his mind. The evidence for the existence of God, Flew discovered, was not only overwhelming, but indefensible.

Flew died in 2010. But, in 2007, he published his story of what made him change his mind. It’s fascinating (and a very hard read – I’ve had to read some pages three times.) The man was absolutely brilliant. His story provides invaluable insight into the mind of a true thinker, and former atheist.

Flew held to the  the wise Socratic maxim, “You must go where the argument/evidence leads.”  The Bereans, as recorded in Acts 17, held to this maxim as well for Luke recorded that they, “examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching was true.”

Should you be interested, his book is entitled, “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.” Harper One Publishing; 2007.

http://www.amazon.com/There-God-Notorious-Atheist-Changed/dp/0061335304/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408478584&sr=1-1&keywords=there+is+a+god+how+the+world%27s+most+notorious+atheist+changed+his+mind

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Rainbow Connection

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” (Genesis 9:16-17)

En route to Glorieta, NM, this past weekend with a friend, we drove through some storms….saw others from a distance. Pic #1 – i thought this was unique with the rainbow embedded in the relatively small section of “white rain.” Pic #2 – beautiful double-rainbow on the backside of the storm we’d just driven through.

By the way – regardless of what group on planet earth claims the “rainbow” as their personal logo/emblem/etc, always remember – the rainbow belongs to God. It was His idea – not to represent people, but to represent Himself. It’s a timeless, natural (supernatural) reminder of God’s mercy over humankind’s corrupt heart. It’s God’s “brushstroke” of, both, present and eternal hope. For the Christian, it’s a reminder of Jesus Christ.

May these photos (I quickly snapped with my phone) remind you, today, that, when asked how much Jesus loves us, He stretched His arms out over the cross and said, “This much.”

I love you all, Nick

white raindouble rainbow