Category Archives: Mentoring

How to go to college without going into debt for the rest of your life

Choosing the right major
Choosing the right major: study one of these, or learn a trade that pays well

First, watch this this 5-minute video that explains why college is so expensive:

This video clearly makes two points:

  1. College costs more because of government subsidies
  2. Only STEM degrees are worth taking out loans for, because there is a demand for STEM-degree holders

Now, in a previous post, I explained more about what’s in the video, and linked to appropriate sources (the New York Times) for support.

But this time, I want to get some advice from a friend of mine, the famous Lindsay. She has a BS and MS in biology, was admitted to a PhD program in biology, but then decided to become a stay-at-home wife, and the best homeschooling mom in the whole world.

She writes:

It is possible to go to college and get a degree that will prepare you for a job and to do it without drowning yourself in debt. I did it. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Biology, with a 4.0 GPA throughout, with no debt, and got a job right out of college. But I’m the exception. You can’t just do what everyone else is doing and expect things to work out well for you. You have to be smart and informed or you’re likely to end up an unhappy statistic, paying down enormous debt on a degree you never use.

She has 5 pieces of advice for you young people.

Here’s my favorite:

5) Remember that the proper amount of student loans is zero and any non-zero amount must be justified by careful study and number-crunching to make sure it is worth it. Your future is at stake. In my experience, the only time student loans are an acceptable investment is when you’re going into a high paying field (think doctor, lawyer, or engineer), have very high graduation and employment potential (good grades and some work experience), and your realistic (not idealistic) future income will be sufficient to pay for your total student loans in less than 10 years while also allowing you to cover all your living expenses. You have to crunch the numbers and make sure the investment, including the interest you will pay, is worth it in better job prospects and pay than you could achieve without the degree. You can’t rely on the system to check this for you. They are all too happy to mortgage your future for a degree you can’t afford and that won’t get you a job.

Straight talk from the Lindsay.

I guess I should say something about me. It’s hard for me to remember the numbers exactly, but I think I finished my Bachelor of Computer Science with $9,000 in the black, and then graduated with a Masters of Computer Science with $16,000 in the black. As Lindsay advises in her point #4, I worked in the summers and took two semesters off (in my BS) to work full time. I went to a very ordinary school in my home town for both degrees, and chose all programming courses as much as I could. I stayed away from anything theoretical, and even niche courses. (At least until graduate school – then I went crazy and audited 5 theoretical courses in addition to my programming courses and thesis). I do recommend working in some work related to your degree, at least in the summer, even if you don’t get paid. However, if you can’t find paid work in the summer related to your degree, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re not in a program that is going to pay for itself.

I mentor a lot of young Christian men and women about their educations and careers. Of all the other young Christians I mentor, everyone is in a STEM program, except for these two girls in California who just started working on. One got a job on Monday night, and the other one (who is shy) is investigating getting a promotion at her current job, as well as adjusting the courses she is taking now. Parents really need to be on top of the education and career situation of their children. And older Christians like me, well we need to be taking an interest in young Christians… making sure they study apologetics, apply themselves in school, study for jobs that pay – either in vocational training or in a STEM college program. Something where they  can find a job that pays. This is especially important for men, because they are tasked with the role of primary provider.

By the way, college is not for everyone. Previously, I blogged about the specialty welder who has struck it rich. There are many advantages to being in a field like that where you get to work as much or as little as you want, instead of working 40 hours a week regardless of money requirements. If you don’t like welding, here’s a list of blue-collar jobs that pay well.

Making a difference as a Christian: advice on fundraising, ministry, and missions

Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek
Ratio Christi event at Ohio State University featuring Frank Turek (10/12/2015)

What’s the ideal balance between work and missions? In this post, I will argue against going abroad to do full-time missions.

Do apologetics ministry in your spare time, and work full-time

A full-time job and part-time ministry makes the most sense from a cost-benefit point of view. I have friends who are software engineers who studied enough science, history, and philosophy part-time, who are able to do public debates with atheists, which influence many more people than one-on-one interactions. One of my friends has several Masters degrees, and is in a PhD program, but his full-time career is in software and network management. He is 100% self-funded. He has worked in a successful apologetics career with a full-time career in technology, and he is debt-free. This is the best option . Your debts get paid off. Your resume stays gap-free. You bring a nest egg to your future spouse. You can afford to have children. You can afford a stay-at-home mom. You can afford either homeschooling or private schools, should you decide to go that route.

You have to start saving and investing early if you want to be independent in your old age. With full-time work and part-time ministry, you still make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom over time, while avoiding a financial crisis that could cost you your family, your friends, and even your faith. This is an especially wise way to proceed, given the economic struggles we are likely to face from housing bubbles, student loan bubbles, rising interest rates, entitlement crises, state pension underfunding, environmental regulations, the ever increasing national debt, demographic crisis, etc. Read the culture and be cautious about the future.

Use the Internet to make a difference in other countries for free

One cost-effective way to make a difference is by using the Internet to reach other countries. You can work full-time, and then use your spare time to blog. This blog gets an average of 24,000 page views per week. About 45% of that traffic comes from NON-USA countries. If you keep working full-time and just start a blog for free, then you can maintain your gap-free resume and have a much easier time marrying and raising children.

The university next door is a great place to have an influence

I do think full-time ministry is OK in two cases: if you don’t go abroad, or if you go abroad with a full-time job or full-ride scholarship. My friend Eric Chabot was able to host Frank Turek at Ohio State University last night (see photo above), for example. He got a great crowd. He is donation-driven, but he runs a lean operation since he lives near the campus where he serves. When it comes to having an impact, the American university is the place to make a difference. We have enough trouble in our own country, especially in the universities, where so many young people lose the faith of their childhood – there’s no need to travel and incur heavy expenses.  I think it also makes sense financially to go abroad for missions, if you get a scholarship that pays your way or if you have a job offer where you can work full-time and do missions part-time. What does not make sense is sending an unskilled missionary to a foreign country at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars that could be used much more efficiently in smaller, effective Eric-Chabot-style operations.

Your feelings and desires are not God speaking to you

Now some people who want to go into overseas missions will tell me that they feel led to go. This method of decision making is not Biblical, as I explained in one of my previous posts. If you believe the Bible, then feelings are a pretty poor way of determining what God wants from you. In fact, left to themselves, humans typically choose what feels best for them, not what does best for God. If God really calls you to do something, like he called Jonah, then you probably won’t feel like doing it. Missionary work is especially suspect when God is supposedly calling you to go to a country that you always dreamed of traveling to while you were a non-Christian. Normally, conversion causes you to have different desires – not the same desires you had as a non-Christian. Unless you hear an audible voice, like an Old Testament prophet would, then it’s best not to think that God is speaking through your feelings and desires. A good book to read on this is “Decision Making and the Will of God“, by Garry Friesen.

Don’t go into missions in order to have fun or go on an adventure

I am suspicious of people who try to turn Christianity into a mechanism for achieving the same goals that non-Christians want to achieve. These days, it seems as if everyone wants to travel to exotic places. If there is evidence of hedonistic, fun-pursuing, thrill-seeking behavior in your past, then consider that you may just want an “adventure”. I have a friend who went to Russia for a year just after graduating college, and she admitted to me that she just went “to have an adventure”. To me, that’s not a good reason to spend thousands of dollars, and put gaps in your resume. It’s not a cost-effective way to make a difference, given the other alternatives. Your goal should be to make yourself defensible so that you can put out a sustained effort that lasts, not burn out and then be ineffective for the rest of your life. Think about what J. Warner Wallace says about living wisely and prudently so you position yourself to make a steady contribution in the second half of your life. Don’t wreck your long-term impact for short-term fun. God will not honor that.

Don’t go into missions to make up for an immoral past

Anyway, if you look in your past and see lots of wild behavior – drinking, drugs, premarital sex, cohabitation, abortions, gambling, divorces, etc., then consider that you may be interested in missions for the wrong reasons. You don’t need to go on a missions trip to dramatically declare to everyone that you are now completely reformed from your wild party days. I actually managed to talk a friend out of a short-term missions trip who felt that it was a good way to do something meaningful to “make up” for her past. By being responsible with her job and saving money, she’s managed to avoid burning out, and to instead put out a steady stream of effective activities. And she was financially stable enough to get married and have children, as well – another excellent way to make a difference.

Do not go into missions if your resume and balance sheet do not demonstrate maturity

We already talked about the need for sound planning in the Bible study we did with Wayne Grudem.  The Bible praises hard work, stewardship, prudence and wisdom. And this is especially true for people who are getting older and need to be thinking about marriage, children and retirement. It’s not a good witness for Christians to be financially unstable. When you are able to stand on your own two feet financially, and help others from your earnings, you gain credibility with non-Christians. We don’t want people to think that we are doing this for the money. The best option is to be self-funded, like Paul and his tent-making-funded ministry.

By the way, if you’d like to read a related post by Eric Chabot, this one is a good one.

Can you have eternal life with God by being sincere and doing good things?

Bible study that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Here’s an article from Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.

He answers the question “Am I going to Hell if I don’t believe in Jesus?”.


Sometimes we have to reframe a critic’s question in order to give an accurate answer. The questions, Am I going to Hell if I don’t believe in Jesus?, is an example. As it is asked, it makes it sounds as though Jesus were the problem, not the answer. As though failing a theology quiz sends us to Hell. Instead, we need to reframe the question to answer accurately and show that sin is the problem, and Jesus is the only way because He alone has solved that problem. Sinners don’t go to Hell for failing petty theology quizzes.

While giving a talk at a local Barnes & Noble, someone asked why it was necessary for him to believe in Jesus. He was Jewish, believed in God, and was living a moral life. Those were the important things, it seemed—how you lived, not what you believed.

To him the Christian message depicted a narrow-minded God pitching people into Hell because of an arcane detail of Christian theology. How should I answer?

Remember that the first responsibility of an ambassador is knowledge—an accurately informed message. What is our message?

One way to say it is, “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’ll go to Hell. If you do believe, you’ll go to Heaven.”

That’s certainly true, as far as it goes. The problem is it’s not clear. Since it doesn’t give an accurate sense of why Jesus is necessary, it makes God sound petty.

So how do we fix this? Here’s how I responded to my Jewish questioner. I asked him two simple questions.

Read the rest of the article.

Christians all need to understand how to explain why sincere beliefs and good works are not enough to satisfy God’s moral demands on us. God is more concerned that we understand the truth about his existence and character – that is the whole point of sending Jesus to die as an atonement for our rebellion. The problem isn’t just that we lie, cheat, steal and murder. The problem is that we want to get our own happiness apart from God, without wanting to know him as he is, and without having to care about his goals and his character in the relationship.

Here’s what God wants us to know about ourselves:

  • we have to realize that what we really are is rebels against God
  • rebels don’t want God to be there
  • rebels don’t want God to have any goals or character different from their goals and character
  • rebels don’t want God to place any demands on them
  • rebels don’t want to have any awareness that God is real or that he is morally perfect
  • rebels want to be liked as they are now – they don’t want to change as part of a relationship
  • rebels want to conceive of their own way to happiness, and to use other people and God for their own ends
  • rebels don’t want there to be a mind-independent objective reality, they want to invent their own reality that allows them to be praised and celebrated for doing whatever makes them happy at every point along their lives
  • rebels would rather die that put their pursuit of happiness second
  • rebels have no interest in rules, judgments, accountability or punishments

Here’s what God wants for us to be saved from our rebelling:

  • we have to know his real character so we have a genuine relationship with him
  • the best way to know his character is by taking time to study what Jesus did in history
  • what the incarnation tells us is that God is willing to humiliate himself by taking on a human nature
  • what the crucifixion tells us is that God is willing to die in our place even though we’re rebelling against him (Jesus is Savior)
  • part of being saved is to trust God by allowing his character to transform our desires and actions (Jesus is Lord)
  • as we grow in letting the character of Jesus inform our actions, we build a set of experiences that are like Jesus’ experiences – i.e. – we obey God rather than men, and we suffer for our obedience – just like Jesus

So don’t Christians have to do good things? Yes. But a Christian’s good deeds are the result of identifying Jesus as Savior and Lord, and then following him by making decisions that respect his character. God doesn’t need you to solve all the world’s problems – he could do that himself. It’s not what you do, it’s who you know and trust that counts. The good deeds are just your way of trying to be like him and trying to feel the same thing he felt when he gave his life for you. You have a friend and you want to be like him in order to know what he feels so you have sympathy with him.

The main point is that knowing Jesus as the revelation of God’s character, and then following Jesus, is more important than doing “good things”.

The first commandment, according to Jesus, is found in Matthew 22:34-38:

34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.

35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

38This is the first and greatest commandment.

The second commandment which comes after that one has to do with loving your neighbor. But the second one is not the greatest commandment. You can’t love God unless you know God. That it, unless you make knowing about his existence and character a priority in your life to the point where you find out the truth about his existence and character. And not as your own opinion, or as the opinion of the people around you, or as the faith-tradition you were raised in. No. You have to value God enough to respond to his overtures to you. You have to know him in truth, not as a quick checkbox that you check off for an hour on Sundays to make your life “easier” because you are happier and the people around you like you. You have to know him before you can act to love him – who he is and what he’s done.

The way that Protestants like me draw the line is as follows – justification (how your rebellion is canceled) is God’s job. He draws you to him while you are still in rebellion, but you have a choice to resist him or not. If you resist his action to save you, then you are responsible for rejecting him. Sanctification (about doing good works) is not about canceling your rebellion, it’s about the later step of re-prioritizing your life, so that you make decisions that reflect the character of Jesus, so that you become more like him. Even your desires change as the relationship progresses. It is something you work at – you study and experience, study and experience. The whole point of studying apologetics is to build yourself into a love machine that fears nothing and holds up under fire, because you know the truth and the truth makes you free to do what you ought to do regardless of the consequences (e.g. – failure to be recognized and requited by someone you loved well).

The most important relationship is not the horizontal relationship with your neighbor, it’s the vertical relationship with God himself. And when you know God as he really revealed himself in history, then your desires – and consequently your actions – will change naturally. When you know God as a person, you freely make all kinds of sacrifices for him. You put yourself second because you want to work on the relationship. You start to believe that your own happiness isn’t as as important as working on the relationship. It’s like building a house. You don’t notice the sacrifices.

Sometimes, I think that the whole point of Christianity and that vertical relationship is so that we know God better. We sympathize more with him than we do with ourselves, because of how unfairly people treat him, how good and loving he is, and how right his goals are. It’s not that he needs help, because he’s God – he’s sovereign. But the relationship gets to the point where it becomes reasonable for you to put yourself second with God, and to let his goals become your goals – you want the relationship with a loving God more than you want to be happy. You get tired of ignoring the person who loves you most – you start to wonder what it would be like to actually respond to him. For Christians, the demands of this other being eventually seem to be not so terrible after all – and we try to put aside our own desires and to give him gifts and respect instead of worrying so much about being happy all the time.

It’s not irrational to be kind to the person who loves you the most – who sacrificed the most for you.

Should you marry a woman who is pro-choice, pro-divorce or pro-gay-marriage?

Young, unmarried women celebrate gay pride
Young women celebrate gay pride: do they understand marriage? are they safe to marry?

Let’s take a closer look at what these three views mean for you as a future husband.


Let’s start by talking about sex, because you can’t have an abortion without sex. So, the right way to view sex is that it’s something that should be confined to marriage. Sex is so non-trivial that it should only be done after a couple has committed to each other for life. Feelings of being “in love” cannot ground sex, because feelings come and go, but marriage is for life.  The function that sex provides in a married home is that it relieves stress, affirms the unity of the marriage, and communicates love to the man in particular. Sex is not to be used before marriage as a way of getting what you want without having to promise to love the other person for a lifetime, no matter what.

Again, it’s not how you feel about the other person that matters, because feelings change. What matters is whether you are willing to make that commitment to take responsibility for another person’s needs, regardless of how you feel. Sex makes sense in a relationship where both people have promised to do that. And both people should have some kind of track record at doing that in their past, since accepting responsibilities, expectations and obligations is not something that just gets turned on and off by a wedding.

When a woman says that she is pro-choice, what she means is that sex is something completely different than what I just described. A pro-choice woman thinks it should be OK for a woman to have pre-marital sex for recreation – outside of the boundaries of a lifelong, exclusive commitment to marry. Since people don’t usually have pre-marital sex when they are sober, this is probably going to mean drinking a lot to break down her judgment, and to give her a way of getting out of the responsibility and feelings of guilt – “that wasn’t me, it was the alcohol that I freely chose to drink”. Premarital sex is about a woman choosing a man apart from his ability to commit to performing the roles of husband and father for her. She is not giving sex to a man who committed to her, she’s giving sex to a man who is hot and fun and will give her thrills and tingles and will make her friends so envious.

So what happens when this recreational sex results in a pregnancy? A pro-choice woman believes that it’s OK to murder another innocent human being in order to escape the normal, natural consequences of her own choices. Is this view of sex as recreational and commitment-free compatible with the needs and goals of a marriage-minded man?

Not only is this recreational, me-first, fun and thrills view of sex not compatible with marriage, but it’s not compatible with having children either. A woman who thinks that murdering an innocent child is an acceptable way to insulate herself from obligations and responsibilities is not a good woman to marry. A pro-choice woman will not be able to handle the needs of  a child, because she thinks that her happiness comes above self-sacrificial service to others.


The first redefinition of marriage before gay marriage was the enactment of no-fault divorce, which allows one spouse (the woman, 70% of the time) to exit the marriage for any reason, or no reason at all. These no-fault divorce laws were pushed through by two groups on the left: feminists and trial lawyers. They both stood to gain from no-fault divorce. Trial lawyers stood to make a ton of money from the divorce trials. Feminists objected to the traditional marital roles: sole male provider and stay-at-home wife and mother. By making it easier to divorce, they basically encouraged women to not think through who they were choosing to marry, since they could easily get out of it now. A woman who can get out of a marriage easily does not think rationally about whether the man can perform the traditional male roles. It enables her to reject her father’s guidance and just marry based on her feelings – the man’s appearance, peer-approval, cultural standards of what men ought to be, etc. No-fault divorce is like winning the lottery for a woman: she gets alimony AND child support.

If a woman supports no-fault divorce, it means that she does not want to be roped into responsibilities, expectations and obligations that require self-denial, self-control and self-sacrifice. Women who support no-fault divorce typically have the view that life is too unpredictable to logically connect causes and effects. They think that the most reliable way to choose a man is through their feelings, not by measuring his abilities against objective criteria like the traditional set of {provider, protector, moral leader, spiritual leader}. What this means for you is that if their feelings change, then they will divorce you. A woman who thinks that her feelings can predict whether an enterprise like marriage is likely to succeed or fail is a divorce risk. She will rely on her feelings to motivate her to perform in the marriage, and will expect you to make her feel like doing her jobs. You can’t get involved with that. Your job as a man is to protect, provide, and lead on moral and spiritual issues, not to make her do her job by making sure she always feels like doing it.

What if a woman says she opposes divorce – can she still be a divorce risk? Yes. If she has an overriding desire to be happy in other areas of her life that is so strong that it causes her to avoid hard things. If she studies easy subjects, prefers easy jobs, spends more on vacations than investments, etc. Avoid women who prioritize thrill-seeking behavior, like going out, getting drunk, hooking up, or doing pointless, expensive activities like sky-diving, zip-lining or surfing. They are not going to be content with married life, because they don’t value the end result of a good marriage over their own desire to be free of constraints and to have happy feelings. Whatever duties they have in the marriage will never get done, because they are not used to committing to do hard things, and then doing them, regardless of how they feel. Prefer women with a history of doing the right thing, even if they don’t feel like it.


What does it mean to be in favor of removing the requirement for two complementary genders in marriage? Well, what it means is that there is no design to marriage such that the male and female nature need to balance each other out. Same-sex relationships tend to exhibit characteristics that not favorable for the needs of children, e.g. – higher rates of domestic violence, non-monogamy, etc. I don’t think it’s a good idea to redefine marriage in a way that undermines the norms of natural marriage, e.g. – pre-marital chastity, exclusivity, permanence, and focusing on stability for the sake of the children. If your candidate thinks that raising children without a father or without a mother is “marriage”, they don’t understand marriage.

Any children who are raised by a same-sex couple will be automatically deprived of either their biological mother, their biological father, or both. Biological parents are naturally going to have an additional interest in the child, since the child contains their genetic material. And of course children do better when they are raised in a stable home. Anyone one can see that children of divorce do worse without their father. And orphans who go without a mother during their childhood – especially the first 5 years – do much worse than children raised by stay-at-home moms. So, either way, same-sex unions impose a lot of stress and strain on kids.

So should should marry a woman who thinks that it is OK to put the needs of selfish adults over the needs of vulnerable children? The answer is no. Any woman who puts the needs of selfish adults over the needs of innocent, vulnerable children is certainly not going to treat YOU well as a man. You are much less adorable and cute than any child. You’re big and hairy, and most women think you can take care of yourself. So naturally, a woman who thinks that children shouldn’t get their needs met is certainly going to think that you shouldn’t get your needs met, either. You want a woman who is prepared to put aside her own selfishness desires for the sake of the children. She has to believe in adults sacrificing their own desires for the sake of the children. Otherwise, not only will your children suffer, but you will as well.


So we have seen 3 character traits in women that marriage-minded men should avoid. I just want to tell you that I have seen all 3 of these beliefs in women who claimed to be Christians. You cannot take the words “I am pro-life” to be a sign that she is really pro-life. You have to go deeper, and look for an understanding of the logic of the pro-life case, and pro-life activism. You cannot take the words “I oppose divorce” as a sign that she really opposes no-fault divorce. If her life is focused on pursuing pleasure by relying on her emotions, and then breaking promises and dismissing obligations that don’t feel good, then she is a divorce waiting to happen. You cannot take the words “I oppose same-sex marriage” as proof that she opposes same-sex marriage. If her view of relationships is that adults should do what they want, and the kids just have to adjust, then the risk that she will put herself above the children’s needs – and your needs – is there, regardless of what she says.

Watch out for women who say that their emotions are “God speaking to them”. That is a huge red flag, especially if their past shows evidence of poor decision making, e.g. – debt, abortion, unemployment,  drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, etc. You are looking for a past that shows long-term commitment that overrides feelings. This is not something that can be decided by will or emotions, it has to be a habit cultivated over a lifetime.

Three thoughts on forgiveness and reconciliation in Luke 15

Note: I am re-posting a series of five Bible studies this week that I wrote last year. Every 2 PM post Monday to Friday this week will be a Bible study.

The Bible passage for this post – the last in the series of five – is in Luke 15.

Luke 15:1-10:

1 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him.

Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So He told them this parable, saying,

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’

10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

And now we go to C.S. Lewis for this quote:

“It may be possible for each [person] to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another…. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

— C.S. Lewis “The Weight of Glory”

And then there is this from the biography of J. Warner Wallace:

J. Warner Wallace was an atheist for 35 years. He was passionate in his opposition to Christianity, and he enjoyed debating his Christian friends. In debating his friends, J. Warner seldom found them prepared to defend what they believed. He became a Police Officer and eventually advanced to Detective. Along the way, he developed a healthy respect for the role of evidence in discerning truth, and his profession gave him ample opportunity to press into action what he had learned about the nature and power of evidence. Throughout all of this, he remained an “angry atheist”, hostile to Christianity and largely dismissive of Christians.

When J. Warner took time to be honest with himself, he had to admit that he never took the time to examine the evidence for the Christian Worldview without the bias and presupposition of naturalism. He never gave the case for Christianity a fair shake. When he finally examined the evidence fairly, he found it difficult to deny, especially if he hoped to retain his respect for the way evidence is utilized to determine truth. J. Warner found the evidence for Christianity to be convincing.

J. Warner founded as a transparent resource that tracks his own spiritual journey. From angry atheist, to skeptic, to believer, to seminarian, to pastor, to author and podcaster, his journey has been assisted by his experience as a Detective. J. Warner wrote, “Cold-Case Christianity” with a desire to share those experiences with you, It’s J. Warner’s hope that his own efforts to detect and articulate the truth will help you to become a better Christian Case Maker.

In a recent podcast, I heard Wallace mention that he is now an adjunct professor in the apologetics program at Biola University. Adjunct professor.

And this from the biography of the fighting pastor, Pastor Matt Rawlings:

Matt Rawlings is a Teaching Pastor at Christ’s Community Church in Portsmouth, OH and State Director of Development for a Christian legal ministry.

Matt has been married since 1998 to Emily Bennington and they have a son, Jackson who was born in 2003.

Matt is a prodigal preacher’s kid who ran away from home at 15, ended up in Hollywood at 17 where, among other things, he directed music videos for Latin MTV. He returned to his home town of Portsmouth, OH in 1991 and after a wasted year of college, he entered politics (which is just Hollywood for ugly people). Matt worked for 2 Congressional campaigns and spent 2 years working on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide during the “Gingrich Years” of 1995-1997.

It was during this time that Matt was diagnosed with cancer and was saved. After graduating from Shawnee State University in 1998 with a B.A. in History, Matt studied New Testament Greek at Kentucky Christian University and then the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University where he earned a Master of Divinity.

Matt then graduated from Cornell Law School in 2004 while pastoring a small church in Ithaca, New York. After a few years working in a large corporate law firm in West Virginia while serving as an interim pastor for small churches, Matt became a Teaching Pastor at Christ’s Community Church in 2006. He then helped launch and lead Revolution, a Gen-X & Gen-Y ministry from 2008 to 2013.

Matt earned a certificate in apologetics from BIOLA University. He also launched Free Seminary to train lay Christians to become disciple makers. When Matt isn’t preaching or teaching, he is hanging out with his family or reading theology or detective novels, watching old movies or listening to really loud music.

Pastor Matt spent a period of time as an atheist, and he wrote about it candidly in several posts on his blog. But look at him now.

So here’s what I want to say about all this.

The first point I want to make is that it’s important to understand what human beings are in Christianity. We are not just lumps of meat who evolved by accident in an eternal, undesigned universe. Every single one of us is made in the image of God. We are embodied minds. When we die, our body stops working, but the mind/soul survives. God loves each of us equally and wants us all to come to know him and to have eternal life with him. Those who resist his loving but non-coercive drawing of us to him will spend eternity separated from him. Our lives do not end at the grave. Every single person you speak to was made to live on beyond the grave. And every moment you spend with them, (as a Christian operator, working as God’s ambassador), is leading them to one eternal destination or another. It’s part of God’s plan for your santification that you participate in leading other people to Christ, and building them up once they’ve been led to Christ.

The second point I want to make is that you can know precisely nothing about what a person can accomplish for God from their present state of rebellion against God. Wallace and Rawlings were bold and determined atheists. To every prim and proper church Christian looking on then, they must have looked as if they would never come to faith in Christ, and certainly that they would never make contributions to the Kingdom like the ones they have. It would have been exactly the wrong thing to do, at that time, to count them out and to refuse to engage them. I meet Christians all the time who are regular church-attenders and Bible-readers who I ask to engage with me to grow some of these lost-sheep or newly-found sheep, and I am so surprised to hear the pride in their voice as they dismiss these people as lost causes. Don’t do that! You are not in a position to know what these people are capable of. And I can guarantee you that God hasn’t given you so many people to mentor that you can just be cavalier about throwing some of them out that you deem to be unworthy of your time. Be careful about having your sins forgiven and then refusing to forgive someone else’s sins. If someone needs your mentoring, you better put in the same effort that God put into rescuing you. God uses people to save other people, and God help the “Christian” who makes excuses for not being faithful when they are called. This is not optional.

The third point I want to make is that in the real world, we have to understand what works in order to convince someone to become a Christian or to return to the faith. Christianity is a truth-centered faith. It has certain propositions that must be affirmed as true. In order for those propositions to be affirmed as true, they have to be demonstrated to be true. The way the founder of the religion did this is by providing miracles to authenticate his claims, (just read the gospel of John). Jesus offered these miracles to unbelievers as evidence for them to then freely choose to believe his statements about himself. Here in this time and place, it falls to us to use logical arguments and evidence from nature and history to prove out these same propositions to unbelievers. If you want to be the one who is able to leave the 99 found sheep and save the 1 lost sheep, then you study apologetics and invest in relationships with people. If you want to be the one who is able to leave the 9 silver coins and save the 1 lost silver coin, then you study apologetics and invest in relationships with people. Christianity is an evidential faith. If you want to share your faith with the lost, you have to study the evidence for it.