Tag Archives: Christian

Rocky’s Ramblings Christian Discipleship Course

GREETINGS! Welcome to my ministry website, where I hope your desire is to learn more about what it means to be a Christian. Whether you are a new Christian, have been a Christian for some time, or someone thinking about God’s invitation to accept Jesus Christ, the daily lessons of this course will give you a firm understanding of Christianity.


YOU ARE WELCOME TO DOWNLOAD AND STUDY THE COURSE FREE OF CHARGE or use it to teach your own discipleship class (more on that below). My most recent update was to add an appendix of all of the Bible references complete with the passages from NASB, and I fixed a few hyperlink errors. So, if you’ve been here before, and it has been a while since you downloaded a copy, you may want to download a new copy.

Let’s get started! Choose one of the following large green buttons to download a copy of the course and save it where you can access it daily.

The first is labeled INTERNET PDF. It is formatted to run on a smartphone, tablet or computer, and will allow you to click on links that will take you directly to Bible passages, articles, and such.

The second is labeled PRINTABLE COPY. If you do not have a smartphone or tablet that you can access daily, the printable copy has been formatted to print on standard letter-size paper (8.5″ x 11″). Let me warn you ahead of time that if you print the whole course all at once, it will print out on 203 pages, so printing double-sided will save you a lot of paper. If you don’t need the written Bible references, you can avoid printing Appendix B by printing only pages 1-147, saving a substantial amount of paper. This copy does have all of the hyperlinks, which of course will do you no good once you print it on paper. So, you will need to have a Bible at your side.

OUR PRIMARY TEXT: You will see in the introduction to the course that it is based on The Christian Life New Testament with Master Outlines & Study Notes (ISBN 9780840721785) available from a number of retail outlets. Use the button above to find one for yourself. NOTE that having a copy of this New Testament with the outlines is not absolutely necessary; the course is written to teach the specific topics without having to rely on the outline. But, I encourage you to get a copy for yourself and use it as a guide to launch beyond what you can learn in the daily lessons of this course.

LANGUAGE TRANSLATOR: I have written this in English. But, through the wonders of the internet, you can put it through this translator to translate it into your language. Just download whichever copy fits your needs and then come back to this translator:

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TEACHING YOUR OWN SESSION:

I have a discussion guide for you should you desire to use this course to teach your own discipleship class – which I highly recommend as part of our Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)

Let me suggest that you keep it simple. Direct your group to this website so that they can download the course. Then, encourage them to go through the lessons, one each day, and get the group together once a week to discuss the 7 lessons of the previous week (perhaps over coffee and dessert). As your students get through the first two sections of the course, start encouraging them to get out and share what they are learning through their own personal evangelism. That’s the key that unlocks the door to the multiplication that Jesus taught His disciples! If you have any questions, suggestions, or want to discuss moving forward, please contact me at RockysRamblings@gmail.com. I would also love to hear your success stories and the creative ways that you are using this course.

How to Answer Questions About What Happens to People Who Have Never Heard of Jesus Christ, and Are Miracles possible

Following the question of whether or not Jesus is the only way to salvation, comes the question about what happens to those who have never heard of Jesus Christ, the next tough question answered in Bobby Conway’s video series on the Tough Questions Christians Face. We know that the Bible says that all creation shows the glory of God (Psalm 19) so that all people are without an excuse (Romans 1:20). But, we also know that the Bible calls upon all Christians to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere, because God’s will is that none should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and Jesus, Himself, said that no one can come to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). So, we, who are called by His name have a job to do. God has entrusted us with the most important message that could come into anyone’s life, the story of Jesus and how He wants t give everyone the free gift of eternal life. Christ gave His Great Commission, to His disciples (present and future), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Why would he have admonished us to do so if people could come to salvation without the Gospel? It is true that we, humans, do not have the power to save. But, God has ordained us as His ambassadors, to speak on His behalf to a world that is desperate for His salvation.

The next tough question In Bobby Conway’s video series is: Are Miracles Possible? In a day when science supposedly has an answer – a natural explanation – for everything that happens, are some of these happenings actually miracles, and does God only exist in things that cannot be explained away by science? Dr. Norman Giesler answered this from CS Lewis who said, simply, ‘If God, then miracles.’ The creation itself was a miracle, a supernatural act of God. Even scientists agree that before creation, there was not time, no space and no matter, and all of a sudden, BANG, we have a universe. Science has all kinds of theory’s about matter colliding with anti-matter to cause this great explosion. But, where did the matter and anti-matter come from? How did nothing become matter and anti-matter? How did all of the finely-tuned reams of data that chromosomes pass on from generation to generation come from? No matter how you believe this universe and all that is in it has come to be, you already believe in miracles. Now, fast forward to the great flood, then on to Moses parting of the Red Sea, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His raising of Lazarus from the dead. His and His disciples’ raising of other people from the dead, cleansing of lepers, healing the blind, the deaf, the lame, the casting out of demons… Dr. Norman concluded by saying that there is no problem turning water into wine, if you can create water from nothing. Indeed miracles have happened, and still do.

Why Christianity Can Lay Sole Claim to Being the One True Religion

The final videos in Bobby Conway’s series on worldviews in Right Now Media examine the claims that Christianity is the one true religion, based on the evidences of discussed in the videos to this point.

The first point is one that was made a couple postings back. The heart of Christianity is Jesus Christ, God the Son, who descended to us as a human, conceived of God the Holy Spirit, born of a human mother to be the one true mediator between man and God. We see this in scripture in Paul’s teaching of Timothy, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5).

If I could pick one of the videos as the climax of this series, it would be, What is a Four-Point Case for Christianity. Here are the four points, with a few comments from other apologists I’ve studied.

  1. Does truth exist? Obviously the Bible can’t be true if there is no truth. But, then no other religious writings could be true, either. It’s pretty obvious that there is truth. If someone tells you that there is no truth, just ask them if they think that statement is true.
  2. Does God exist? Even the most skeptical scientists have come to the realization that there simply cannot be a world as immense, complex, and well-tuned without having an intelligent creator that is outside of our world. That creator also had to be personal with a desire to create something with meaning. Otherwise, our existence means nothing.
  3. Are miracles possible? If everything has to run that it was designed with no interventions by the creator, then the Bible cannot be true. The greatest miracle is the very first verse of the Bible, “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) If that verse is true, every other verse in the Bible is at the very least, possible. So, miracles are possible, and if that is not true, then there could be no God, and there wouldn’t be any creation.
  4. Does the Bible tell us the truth about history? In other words, is the Bible historically reliable. As we examined several posts back, the best archaeologists in the Middle East use the Bible as a primary source for their research, because it has never been wrong, and the more we learn, the evidence emerges of just how true the Bible is. One great evidence of the truth of the Bible is what we call ‘embarrassing testimony,’ things that nobody would have admitted to, certainly not written about, if they were not true. Example: at the crucifixion, the disciples all ran away, leaving the women behind. Is any man going to make that up. There is also eye-witness testimony, and what is called excruciating testimony, meaning that these men died, and they knew they would likely die, for what they said and how they continued to teach the Gospel. There is also prophecy, things that were foretold and then happened years later.

We can have faith in the in the Bible because it has proven itself true, accurate, prophetic, and purposeful. No other religion has all of that and a savior who claimed that He was God incarnate and then proved it.

The final video in this series is one that encourages parents to send their kids to Summit Ministries, which is designed to prepare students to take on challenging conversations. In this day of skepticism, we must be prepared to defend our faith – to study to show ourselves approved…rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) I will end by saying that I know nothing about Summit Ministries, but am certainly going to check it out. Perhaps I’ll write a daily posting on what I find.

How Many Worldviews Are There and How is Christianity Unique Among Them?

Continuing with videos through Right Now Media, I want to continue with another series by Bobby Conway on worldviews. This series starts with an interview with Dr. Norman Geisler, author, professor, theologian, and world-renowned Christian apologist. In answer to the basic question of how many worldviews there are, Dr. Geisler limited his response to religions, and basically just listed what he says are the 7 basic worldviews.

  1. Theism – holds that there is a God beyond the bounds of this world, who created the world and can intervene and do miracles within the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the three religions in this broader worldview.
  2. Deism – holds that there is a god similar to Theism, except that they believe that god does not intervene and cannot do miracles. Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Voltaire were deists.
  3. Finite Godism – holds that there is a god, but he is limited; his hands are tied by the world he created. Plato, Rabbi Harold Kushner (author of ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’) held to this worldview.
  4. Panentheism (different from Pantheism) – holds that god and the world are intertwined. Alfred North Whitehead, who developed the of Process philosophy ; John Cobb, a contemporary of Alfred Whitehead; and Charles Hartshorne, who developed Whitehead’s philosophy in what is known as Process Theology.
  5. Pantheism – holds that god IS all and all is god. Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, and Christian Science are the best examples of philosophies in this worldview.
  6. Polytheism – holds that there are many gods. Ancient Greeks, Romans, modern Wicca, and Neo-Paganism are all religions within this worldview.
  7. Atheism – the belief that there is no god. Much of the world today live as atheists. Whether they have examined the existence of any god or not, their belief systems revolve around explanations of the world without any god(s) at the helm.

Now, let’s look through this video series to examine what makes Christianity unique. First, do all religions lead us to God? Simply put, the answer is ‘no’. Religions teach things that are opposite to each other; and opposites cannot both be true. One particular point that Dr. Geisler made is that we can tell a counterfeit from the real thing, not by examining the similarities, but by the critical differences – those points over which religions teach clear and critical differences. For instance, some religions teach different ways to God. But, only Jesus Christ teaches that there is only one way to God, only one truth, and only one life; and that way is through Him (John 14:6).

Being interviewed about what distinguishes Christianity from other religions, Craig Hazen, Professor of Comparative Religion and Apologetics at Biola University, makes the point that leaders of other religions actually hate probing claims made by their religion, because they know what their religion can’t hold up to such scrutiny. Christianity, on the other hand, invites people to come and explore its claims and find out that they are true. He points out the claim that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Jesus did not rise from the grave, Christianity is just not true and your faith is worthless. And, yet, we know through forensic investigations that His resurrection is one of the most accurately recorded events in all of history.

One last look at the uniqueness of Christianity for this posting, Bobby Conway interviews Frank Turek, Apologist, Author and Speaker, who said Jesus came to live a sinless life, with two natures – that of God and that of man – and went on to be our mediator. One point that he makes is that in order to be a mediator, one must have one foot on both sides of the divide between us and God, which makes Jesus uniquely qualified to fill that role. Jesus mediates between us and God by taking our sins upon Himself. While all other religions require that we work our way to God, in Christianity, God comes to man through Jesus Christ and offers a free gift of salvation.

We’ll continue in my next posting.

Winning the Battle of Defending Your Faith

Let’s begin by bringing three Bible passages together for us to consider. The first is what we know as The Great Commission, in which Jesus gave His final and most important instructions to His disciples – current and future:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The second passage is Peter’s encouragement to:

“…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

The other is from Paul’s mentoring of Timothy:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

When you put these three passages together, you can see that it has always been that our most important job as Christians – to work in the harvest of souls – is more than simply sharing the Gospel and encouraging non-believers to pray the sinners prayer. It is imperative that Christians be prepared to defend our belief in Biblical truth. This is no easy task today, living in an entire society of competing voices teaching different worldviews, many of which are taught in schools as ‘settled science’.

There are a number of good resources available. One of them is Right Now Media Library, undoubtedly the largest collection of Christian learning/training/research videos and materials on the entire internet. This is not a free resource, but many churches buy a group membership for their members. If your church does not, it is well worth having a discussion with your church leadership to see if there is a way to make that happen. If that is not a possibility, consider joining as an individual member. Go to their main page, by clicking on the link above, and search on the word ‘apologetics’ or ‘defend’. Pay particular attention to the number of series with 1-6 minute videos that address issues that come up in real life, and will give you something with which to answer questions/attacks on our faith.

If you have not been following these posts on my website, go to my posting of January 11, 2021, called INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL APOLOGETICS…SHARED UNAPOLOGETICALLY to get an idea of how these short lessons can give you just what you need to help people question their own worldview, and see that perhaps a Biblical worldview is worthy of consideration.

My goal is to give you some of these quick ways to defend our faith with meaningful statements/questions of real consequence.  

Here’s one to end this posting. I’m using the ‘One Minute Apologist’ with Bobby Conway, available in video form on Right Now Media. The first video in the series is ‘Why is There So Much Doubt?’ The first part of that answer is that it is easier to believe something for which there is critical mass, or stated more bluntly, it’s easier to believe something when it’s popular. The argument is that we are shifting from a pro-Christian culture, to only a remnant of Christians who are seen as believing outdated concepts. Our defense of this is simply that truth does not follow the masses – the truth is often with the minority – the remnant.  

The second part of the answer to why there is so much doubt is the emergence of pluralism. With many people talking about what their God demands, it is easy to become confused as to what the truth is and why there are so many different religions to so many different Gods. Because our Christianity has been relatively safe from criticism and competing philosophies up until recent times, we’re not used to having to find God and God’s truth through the competing noise. Our defense is knowledge, Paul’s admonition to study the Word so well that we can ‘divide it rightly the word of truth’, or ‘accurately handling’ as some versions of the Bible interpret that.  

The third part of the answer to why there is so much doubt is the moral decline that America is experiencing now. The phrase ‘everyone is doing it’ seems like a legitimate excuse. Our defense is knowing that their is fundamental right and wrong; even a thief knows that stealing is wrong; a liar knows that lying is wrong; a murderer knows that killing is wrong.

Well, that’s a look at the basic question of answering why there is so much doubt in this world today. In my next post, I’ll continue on with Bobby Conway’s ‘One Minute Apologist’ videos.

Sanctified for Your God-given Ministry

“You are the light of the world…on the lampstand, [where] it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Whatever your God-given ministry, it will include being a light to those darkness. In order to be a light to the darkness, you must be IN that darkness, just as a light bulb shines with a brightness that will overtake the darkness. But, just as the filament in a light bulb is protected by the glass of the bulb, you must also be separated – set apart, protected – from the elements within that darkness, lest your light be snuffed out.

What is Your Worldview?

In my last post I gave a couple of illustrations designed to help us understand that we, who believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word, The Holy Bible, see all of existence through a different worldview than do people without such faith in God’s Word. I want to take that a step further before launching into evidences of Biblical truth.

When you power up your computer, it boots into the operating system chosen by its operator and/or the builder of the computer, which tells it how it will do its work, either MacOS, Windows, Linux or one of several specialized operating systems. The operating system tells the computer how it sees, analyses and works with data to do much the same work as all other computers.

At the risk of dehumanizing humans or dignifying computers beyond their inanimate state, we humans do much the same. It is important, I suppose, to point out that this comparison does have its limitations. A computer cannot determine or reason or draw conclusions, but merely crunches data as far as its operating system and programs allow it to. We also tend to work within the parameters that have been fed into us, not by computer code, but by teachers, mentors, parents, etc. Through all of that, we develop our own worldview. In the case of existence and the meaning of life, this includes determining who or what – if anything – designed this whole universe and why.

It is important to realize that the world around us is what it is, the data that we see and hear as we learn and grow is the same data that everyone has access to. It’s how we interpret what we observe that makes the difference. Realize that if there is an error in a computer program, it will give the operator the wrong answers. Similarly, if your worldview is skewed, you will see the world from that skewed perspective.

In Defense of ‘in the beginning god…’

While on deployment as a Samaritan’s Purse Volunteer to a rebuild team after Hurricane Harvey in Texas, we were being hosted by the Grace Baptist Church of Brazoria, the church of Pastor Mark Brumbelow. If you have been around the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child program, you’ve heard of Pastor Mark – a unique pastor, to be sure. We had the privilege of hearing Pastor Mark preach God’s Word. His Wednesday evening sermon was short and to the point. Please allow me to paraphrase his sermon, because I could never hope to do justice to his down-to-earth cowboy-style preaching. It went something like this:

“There was a man, who’s name was Darwin. And Darwin wrote this book about what he was supposin’ was natural selection. In this book, he was supposin’ that man came from apes, which he was supposin’ came from some other animals. Now, he was supposin’ that all animals came from this ooze that he was supposin’ was left over from the beginnings of the Earth, which he was supposin’ happened all by itself.

Now, there’s this other book called The Bible, which is the Word of God. And the very first words in The Bible are, “In the beginning, God…” And if you were to suppose that “In the beginning, God…,” then your supposin’ is all done. Because, the Word of God goes on to say that God created all things. And, that settles that.”

The point is that those who do not hold to the inerrancy of the Bible – as the very Word of God – see the world and all that is in it much differently than those of us who do – they take in all the same sights and sounds, view everything that is in this big beautiful world and do not see the One who created it. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)  

Let me make that point another way. I invited an archeologist, an expert on researching new finds in the Middle-East, to speak at our church many years ago. He was with the US Army Corps of Engineers and was in town for official business. In our spare time, I had a chance to talk with him about his research in the Middle-East, and was fascinated by what he had to say. So, he accepted my rather impromptu invitation to speak at our church. He made one incredible point that I have never forgotten. He said that Middle-East archaeologists carry the Bible whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, any other religious persuasion (or none), because it’s never wrong. They have learned that if the Bible says some there is a city somewhere, and they have not found it, it is not because the Bible is wrong, simply that they haven’t looked hard enough, yet.

What is so incredible about that statement is that it fits the way we determine truth from evidence. If something is accurate and true historically, culturally, and other verifiable ways, it stands to reason that it is accurate in its meaning, too – in the case of the Bible, that means spiritually. For instance, Bible-believers have been mocked for ages because we believe the Biblical account that says ‘there were giants in the land’ (Genesis 6:4). And then…archaeologists started uncovering evidence and bones of people 17 to 30 feet tall. There WERE giants in the land, and if Biblical experts had written off the Biblical accounts of giants simply because science had no proof that such beings ever existed, then they would have destroyed their own credibility when the evidence finally did surface.

But, what do we do about that? Of what value is such information? Well, what I’ve been trying to do today is demonstrate that people who believe in the Bible, and people who don’t, interpret data from a completely different worldview. I hope to share some things with you over the next weeks that will support the Biblical worldview in ways that will help you have confidence in, and be able to defend that worldview.

How great a gift is the privilege of grandparenting

Going through my morning Bible Studies and/or daily devotionals has taken on new significance as I look for things to share with you here on Rocky’s Ramblings. Sometimes I share things I have written, or synthesized from what others have written. And sometimes I share something that someone else has written or presented. This is the second time this week that I have shared an article from CrossWalk.com, which I have found to be a great collection of inspirational and uplifting articles.

Today’s share is one that I hope grandparents and grandchildren alike will enjoy reading. And, I hope that parents will recognize their own parents in what the author has to say. I love being a grandparent! We are not as fortunate as this contributing author in that our grandchildren live 1,000 miles and 2,500 miles away, which makes getting together much more difficult. But, it makes the chances we do get all the sweeter!

10 of the Greatest Things About Being a Grandparent, by By Lori Hatcher, CrossWalk.com contributor

Response-Ability

We heat our house partially with wood, which I love for a number of reasons.  It gives me a good excuse to be out in our 30-acre wood, getting Rocky Balboa style exercise and fresh air while thinning out trees, opening the canopy to sunlight, allowing bushes to flourish, drawing in birds and animals – and saving a little money on utilities as the end result – really feeling like I’m caring for our forest.  

I also collect odd-ball tree stumps, gnarly roots, vine twisted trunks and branches, beaver-gnawed sections of tree, etc.  I keep the tree in the picture below next to our wood-burning stove. I was looking at it one morning as I was stoking the fire, remembering when I cut that tree down.  It was a tree growing along our 600 foot driveway which I keep manicured – I call it Rocky’s Parkway.  I needed to remove this tree to open up around a Dogwood Tree that I wanted to highlight.  I remember that there was nothing unusual about the tree as I looked at it.  But, after I cut it down, I dug around the base to cut it off below ground level.  Because it was on a rather steep slope, it had about 12 inches of leaves piled up around the base.  This is what I found buried in the leaves; it tells the tale of a difficult start in life.  Something had caused this tree, as a sapling, to twist and turn to get up to the sky.  Once it grew out of that difficult path, it straightened up and grew just fine.  

As I looked at this stump that morning, I was reminded of a philosophy that I really believe, called Response-Ability, which says that no matter how you were raised, no matter how difficult your youth, you reach a point in your adulthood when you need to recognize that you have the responsibility and the ability to respond to the world around you in a healthy way, not as your troubled youth might dictate – hence the double entendre in the name ‘Response-Ability’.  Getting there may require help and mentoring from others. But, this tree demonstrates that it is possible. It symbolizes the philosophy of Response-Ability perfectly.

We all come from unique upbringing, some tragic, no doubt. And, it’s easy to develop the attitude that the difficulties we have had to endure somehow give us a pass – an excuse – for how we live as adults. Nothing could be further from the truth. What we’ve gone through can stand as a testimony to help the next generation, but, only by growing beyond our difficult pasts to our own moment of Response-Ability.

Once you have victory over your past, you will have a unique testimony which only God can reveal to you.  Ask Him about it; ask Him to help you be a better person for having gone through what you have, and ask him how you can use your testimony in your personal ministry to people who need to hear just what you can share, just as we see in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” What you’ve been through will give you a compassion for others going through the same thing when God brings you together.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7