For over 50 years, this ministry has been working in prisons throughout the United States. Prison ministries fill a vital need. Our prison ministry began in the 1960s when I first became a Christian. I went back to share my new-found faith with atheists and skeptics that I had known in my atheist days. I found that a disproportionate number of my old atheist cronies were in prison for one thing or another. As we corresponded, they told me that a large number of their fellow inmates had faith questions.
We wrote our first correspondence course with the goal of helping prisoners regain their faith and start on a road to newness. Humans can justify almost any behavior if they don’t have a functional moral standard to guide their decisions. If they have no faith in the teachings of the Bible, then “survival of the fittest” becomes their standard. Prison ministries fill a vital need.
A control struggle goes on in prisons everywhere, with gangs in almost every prison. Continued dependence on drugs is what has overfilled our penal system. We design our courses to show any open-minded reader that there is a God and that the Bible is His Word. We want to show them that they can depend on Jesus Christ to help them overcome drugs, gangs, and life in the prison system.
We have a very small effort with just over 4,000 students taking our courses, but we are blessed to have a relationship with the Kings Crossing Prison Ministry in Corpus Christi, Texas. Buck Giffith oversees the massive program of Kings Crossing, which has programs to help prisoners overcome drugs. They have basic courses to help prisoners renew their faith, and they visit prisoners in many states.
Prisoners frequently request to be baptized to wash away their past with the sins that got them into prison so they can begin a new life. There are now 410 permanent or portable baptistries in prisons in 37 states and 39 foreign nations. This has resulted in over 15,000 baptisms annually. As prisoners begin their new life, they are put into study programs and receive remedial help as it is needed.
It is one thing to bemoan the fact that the United States leads the world in the number of people incarcerated. It is another thing to do something about it through prison ministries. You can find more about the Kings Crossing program and how to contact them on their website: kingscrossingprisonministries.org
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many hardships for people of all economic levels, but children have been hit especially hard with child hunger becoming a national problem. Last year in Michigan, over 67,000 children faced hunger. In 2020, that number has increased to almost 118,000. Right now, one in six families in Michigan is struggling to have enough food. The challenge of feeding the hungry is being met, and there is a lesson in who is meeting it.
Feeding America is an organization that gathers and distributes food to relieve hunger in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. They do this by donations of money and food from various companies and relying on volunteer labor.
The Does God Exist? ministry is dedicated to showing evidence that there is a God and that the Bible is His Word. Although the evidence for God’s existence is vast, perhaps more convincing is Christianity’s effect on people’s lives. Recently, the Feeding America truck came to our small congregation, where we unloaded food and distributed it to 103 families that don’t have enough to eat in our area. Our small operation reflected what is happening all over America. In 2019, Feeding America distributed almost 28-million pounds of food.
Our point here is who is meeting the challenge of feeding the hungry? Are atheist and skeptic groups involved? In 2019, volunteers turned three-and-a-half-million pounds of food into almost three-million meals for people in Western Michigan. Who were the volunteers making this possible? Four of the five groups were churches, and the other one was a Kiwanis Club. Feeding America lists agency partners for Michigan, and of the 20 partners listed, 13 were churches.
When churches feud or a minister is involved in a scandal, it frequently becomes front-page news. Atheist magazines like The Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic publish stories in nearly every issue about a church or religious leader involved in some scam or mismanagement of money. Not making the headlines are the people of faith who meet the challenge of feeding the hungry. They are the ones who manage the food pantries and are the primary workers in programs like Feeding America.
By the end of 2020, the annual total of Bibles printed will be 95-million. That is nearly double the number printed 20 years earlier. Most of us living in North America take Bible availability for granted. Almost every day, I get a catalog offering a variety of Bibles in all kinds and sizes, and with a growing variety of translations.
In 1900, five-million Bibles were printed, and you could find them in motel rooms everywhere. As an atheist, I stole my first Bible from a hotel room. In high school in 1955, Bibles were distributed to every student at the start of the school year. In 60 years, we have moved to the point where schools are sued for allowing Bible distribution, and schools take disciplinary actions against a child or teacher for bringing a Bible to school.
More to the point is the fact that in many countries, Bibles are hard to find. In 1900 there were 2300 people for every one Bible printed. Now that figure is 82 people per Bible. What that tells us is that even today, God’s Word is not available to a vast number of people. There are ministries attempting to change that. It is easy to understand why morals are very different in various parts of the world when people don’t have access to God’s instructions for conduct.
As secularism, atheism, and paganism continue to attack the Bible, we can expect to see more conflict and power struggles. Conflict is rising in America and continues in much of Africa and Asia. The situation highlights the mission of this ministry. The total of Bibles printed means little if people don’t bother to read them because they don’t believe in God. A presentation of the evidence for God, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus, along with the living example of real Christians, can change the world.
The Louvre in Paris is the largest art gallery museum in the world. The building began as a twelfth-century fortress and became a museum at the time of the French Revolution in the late eighteenth century.
Housed in the Louvre are some of the world’s most outstanding artworks, including the Mona Lisa. Visitors number over nine-million per year. If you visit the Louvre, you will be overwhelmed by the enormous building and the vast number of paintings and statues.
Similarly, as we look at the enormous universe around us, we are overwhelmed by the galaxies, stars, and planets–and the life we see on this planet. Rice Broocks, in his book “God’s Not Dead,” writes, “There is evidence for an intelligent Creator everywhere you look. To say that there is no evidence for this Creator is like saying the thousands of paintings in an art museum couldn’t have been painted because there are no artists visible in the gallery.”
Nobody would visit the Louvre and make such a ridiculous statement. How can anyone look at the amazingly complex universe and not recognize that they are seeing the largest art gallery displaying the work of the greatest Artist? Some examples are butterfly wings, colors, structural color, and beauty in Earth’s diversity. The largest art gallery in the universe is the universe.
I am amazed by the lack of understanding of our planet and how it works. It is astounding how the public refuses to take the cause and treatment of the current pandemic seriously. Politicians worldwide are promoting distrust of just about everything, making progress on any level almost impossible. The Bible is the one thing that we can trust, but since atheism and false religions have taken over the planet, people reject the Bible’s teachings and create chaos all around us. Are we doomed?
Proverbs 8:32-33 quotes wisdom as saying, “…hearken unto me…hear instruction and be wise and refuse it not.” Romans 1:17-32 tells us that we can know God by understanding the creation. The meaning of those passages is more evident today than ever before. We now have the means of seeing the vastness of the cosmos, and understanding how fragile Earth is. We see pictures of polluted skies, contaminated lakes and rivers, and plastic-filled oceans. When we see images of starving people around the world, that should motivate us to make changes. You can see evidence for global warming if you will look. There is no debate possible about pollution or water shortages. Look at the evidence and “hearken to wisdom.”
Scientific American (September 2020, pages 74-81) published an article by Peter Brannen titled “The Worst Times on Earth.” Brannen surveys the evidence of mass extinctions and the implications for the future. He offers logical solutions to likely future catastrophes. If we believe that God created the cosmos, we understand that wisdom and design went into every corner of the creation. We know that God told us to “take care of the garden” (Genesis 2:15). As Christians, we are told to serve others as if our salvation depended on it, because it does. (See Matthew 25:31-46.)
Are we doomed? We know that God will ultimately destroy the creation (2 Peter 3:10), but He will not allow humans to do it. We may make the planet uncomfortable to live on. We may pass on a contaminated, overheated Earth to future generations. Hopefully, we will heed the words of Proverbs 8 and Romans 1 and be wise in what we believe about the creation, how we use our money and energy to make this physical world better, and how we vote.
Are we doomed? As Christians, the answer is loud and clear. NO!!We have hope no matter what happens here in the physical world. We know that we have a spiritual existence beyond the grave that is totally free of all human ignorance, selfishness, greed, and stupidity. The God whom wisdom describes in Proverbs 8 has promised it to us.
The Chinese government has started taking religious leaders to “re-education camps.” The State Department of the United States reports that the religious leaders are beaten and tortured in the camps until they are willing to say, “There is no God, there is only the Communist Party.” Since 2016, seventeen-thousand Buddhist monks and nuns have been placed in these camps.
The Chinese government has forced Catholic churches to accept new bishops appointed by the Communist party. Pictures of President Xi have replaced portraits of the Virgin Mary. The government has ordered online bookstores not to sell Bibles. The Communist Party is preparing its own Mandarin Bible, which will say that “the state leads and the church follows.”
Christianity in China dates back to ancient times. Since President Xi Jinping took office, he has instituted religious re-education in China. He has overseen the destruction of most, if not all, church buildings. Bibles have been burned, and any structure with a cross on it has been destroyed. Christians should pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters as the destruction and persecution are only getting worse.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is inspired by God, and God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work. One of the major evidences that the Bible is not a human creation is the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. The correlation between the prophecies of the ancient books and the historical documentation of Jesus fulfilling those prophecies is fantastic.
Atheists and biblical minimalists have tried to use all kinds of explanations to deny the proof from prophecies. We have a list of 44 prophecies that were fulfilled by Christ. Many of these prophecies were beyond the ability of any human to fulfill. You have a hard time saying that Jesus made special arrangements to fulfill them all. Here are 20 examples:
*Christ would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. Micah 5:2 (There were two Bethlehems.) -Fulfilled in Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-6
*Christ would be a descendant of Jacob and Isaac. Numbers 24:17, Genesis 17:19 and 21:12 -Fulfilled in Matthew 1:2 and Luke 3:34
*Christ would spend time in Egypt. Hosea 11:1 -Fulfilled in Matthew 2:14-15
*A massacre of children would happen at Christ’s birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15 -Fulfilled in Matthew 2:16-18
*A messenger would prepare the way for Christ. Isaiah 40:3-5 -Fulfilled in Luke 3:3-6
*Christ would be preceded by “Elijah.” Malachi 4:5-6 -Fulfilled in Matthew 11:13-14
*Christ would be rejected by his own people. Psalms 69:8 and Isaiah 53:3 -Fulfilled in John 1:11 and 7:5.
*Christ would be declared the Son of God. Psalms 2:7 -Fulfilled in Matthew 3:16-17
*Christ would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4. Isaiah 6:9-10 -Fulfilled in Mathew 13:10-15, 34-35.
*Christ would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalms 110:4 -Fulfilled in Hebrews 5:5-6.
*Christ would be praised by little children. Psalms 8:2 -Fulfilled in Matthew 21:16
*Christ would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. Zechariah 11:12 -Fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16.
*Christ’s price money would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:13 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:9-10
*Christ would be spat on and struck. Isaiah 50:6 -Fulfilled in Matthew 26:67
*Christ would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:38
*Christ would be given vinegar to drink. Psalms 69:21 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:34
*Christ’s hands and feet would be pierced. Psalms 22:16. Zechariah. 12:10 -Fulfilled in John 20:25-27
*Soldiers would gamble for Christ’s garments. Psalms 22:18 -Fulfilled in Matthew 27:35-36 and Luke 23:34.
*Christ’s bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46, Psalms 34:20 -Fulfilled in John 19:33-36
*Soldiers would pierce Christ’s side. Zechariah 12:10 -Fulfilled in John 19:34
When you consider the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled, realize that they were written many hundreds of years before the New Testament historical events. To see our previous posts on Old Testament prophecies of Christ click HERE and HERE.
“500 + amazing facts you need to know about galaxies, black holes, Einstein’s Relativity, the Big Bang, Dark Matter, and more!” Those are the words on the cover of Astronomy magazine’s special issue titled “Cosmos – Origin and Fate of the Universe.” The magazine has a great listing of discoveries made in the last decade, and it’s full of photographs, artwork, and a variety of charts. David Eicher, the magazine editor, opens the issue by quoting Carl Sagan’s famous line, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” That is Sagan’s religious view, and Eicher plugs it by ending with, “We pack it all in here, and hope you will enjoy reading, and thinking about all that ever was, or ever will be.”
The magazine’s factual matter is impressive, but the philosophical and religious beliefs raise far more questions than they answer. The size of the cosmos has been a subject of intense study. Research shows that the number of galaxies in the cosmos is at least two-trillion –10 times greater than was previously thought. That amount of mass in the cosmos means that any explanation of how the creation happened is outside of current scientific understanding. It is becoming increasingly clear that only 4.9% of the universe is made of ordinary matter. The rest is mysterious dark matter (26.8%) and dark energy (68.3%).
The magazine presents the current scientific theory of the creation process with a “puffy giant dark star” made of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS). These WIMPS collided, annihilating each other and producing a halo of dark matter and black holes. This inadequate explanation makes it clear that the universe did not come into existence on its own. There was a beginning, and that beginning was caused. The cosmos is not self-existing. Those of us who believe in God would suggest that if these theories are correct, they are just God’s tools for creation. They may explain the methods He used, but it is clear that the cosmos we see is not all that is or ever was or ever will be.
This current scientific explanation of creation has implications for other scientific fields. For example, evolution depends on a religious belief called uniformitarianism, which says that no process has operated in the past that is not going on today. Much of what the magazine discusses is not going on today.
Two things are certain from this issue of Astronomy. We know little about the creation, and we deal poorly with what we do know. It’s evident that the cosmos is not all that is or ever was or ever will be. We suggest that a periodical like this one shouts again, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalms 19:1).
Churches are seeing an exodus of young people. One reason is that many do not provide relevant teaching for building faith in God and the Bible. I recently received an announcement by a well-known preacher that he was beginning a series of lessons on reasons to believe in Jesus. I’m sure that the lessons will be outstanding, but will they address the things that are keeping young adults away from the Church?
The listing of evidences in the announcement included the empty tomb, the stone taken away, the grave clothes lying there, the eyewitness testimony, the faith of the apostles, and the conversion of James and Paul. Those are all evidences based on the Bible. Those of us with a long history of hearing sermons and being in Bible classes are familiar with the biblical teachings and believe them to be true. We still need to have our faith strengthened, so we are not denigrating this kind of teaching. But building faith in God and the Bible requires more than quoting the Bible. Where is the Church failing the unchurched, and, in many cases, failing the children of church members?
In recent postings, we have dealt with the popular teachings of Bart Ehrman, who devotes many of his books and articles to attacking the biblical account. We receive many letters from skeptics and atheists attacking the biblical account based on Ehrman’s material. Magazines like the Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic Magazine are full of attacks on the Christ and the Bible. The leader of many attacks in these atheist publications is Michael Shermer, a former preacher, and graduate of Pepperdine University. The Freedom From Religion organization joins the attacks with advertisements in Scientific American and other popular scientific journals.
It is essential for church leaders to understand that young adults receive a heavy dose of attacks on the Bible. Quoting the Bible as proof of something only works for people who believe the Bible is 100% true. Most of our preacher training schools have a single course on apologetics. They pay very little attention to archeological evidence, historical support, and scientific answers to the skeptic attacks. Building faith in God and the Bible requires more than quoting the Bible.
Bible classes for young people must include evidence that does not depend on scripture alone.This ministry provides resources to do that, and we often review books that give this kind of support. We are in the process of completing a video series by John Cooper on archaeological support for the Bible. We have a museum in York, Nebraska, designed to show through artifacts the credibility of the Biblical account. Before we quote scripture to prove anything, we need to be sure that the person we are dealing with believes the Bible is from God. God has given us the tools to do that, and we must use them.
One of the objections that we hear most often is, “God cannot exist because a good God would not allow evil and suffering in the world.” The argument is that if God is good and all-powerful, He would not allow evil, pain, and suffering. Either God is not good, or He is not powerful, or, most likely, there is no God.
Those who advance this objection are saying that their knowledge of all things proves that they know what God should do. God could not possibly have a good reason for allowing things to run their course based on circumstances and the actions of people. God should intervene to stop people from doing anything that would cause harmful consequences for themselves or others. God should cancel the natural laws at times to prevent accidents and disasters. People who make these arguments are claiming to be smarter than God.
But what if God is smarter than we are? What if God knows more than we know? Suppose that God knows the future because He is not limited by our time dimension. Is it possible that God has a reason for allowing bad things to happen that we, in our limited knowledge, cannot understand? Just because we can’t see a reason for God not to intervene, does that mean God could not have a purpose?
It’s a mistake for anyone to assume that a God beyond our limitations of knowledge and understanding could not exist. A god with our limited knowledge would not be God. George Burns played the role of “god” in the 1977 movie Oh, God! When the character played by John Denver asked him what was going to happen, Burns replied, “How should I know?” When asked for clarification, his response was, “I only know what is. Also, I’m very big on what was. Now, what isn’t yet? I haven’t got a clue.” That describes the limitation of humans—not God.
The Bible tells us that God is not only good (“God is love”) and omnipotent (all-powerful), He is also omniscient (all-knowing). It’s a mistake to say, “God cannot exist because a good God would not allow evil.” The only way you could know that God has no reason to allow evil and suffering in this world is for your knowledge and understanding to be greater than God’s. To believe that is indeed the height of arrogance.