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Who Created God?

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Logical Fallacies with Kenneth Samples

This week is part 2 with Kenneth Samples, senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe, on logic and critical thinking. This week we finished talking about the laws of logic and then discussed three important logical fallacies. Listen and find out what you need to know about logic!

What do you think are other important logical fallacies? Comment below!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number only for questions).

Are Science and Faith Compatible?

Many do not realize that this apparent conflict comes from a worldview conflict. When understood correctly, there is no contradiction at all. In fact, faith should be based in the scientific evidence. Watch and see what I mean.

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

World Religions: Are they all true?

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of students on the topic of world religions this past Friday. I wanted them to have an understanding of objective truth, how to respond to relativism/religious pluralism, and then be able to ask questions to distinguish between religious claims. I hope you enjoy watching!

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

What is true freedom?

How would you define freedom?

Is it being able to do whatever you want?

There is a big theme that is going to come up this week as I start teaching my students about sociology tomorrow and how different worldviews look at it differently. One of the key ideas when it comes to Secularism is personal autonomy. This is the belief that people should have the freedom to decide what is right for their own life based on what makes them happy. The reason why this matters is that it isn’t only secular students who believe in personal autonomy. Many Christian students also think this is the correct definition of freedom. So, is this what true freedom is? Is it doing whatever makes us happy?

I don’t think it is. Dr. Sean McDowell says, “Freedom is having the capacity to do what you know is right.” You could also say that true freedom is having the ability to do what we were created to do.

Christianity teaches that there is a God who created us and gave us a moral law that we should follow. They aren’t just a “list of don’ts” like I discussed last week but are guidelines that create healthy living. They are also guidelines that give us freedom! But you may be wondering, how is someone free if they have to follow guidelines?

Think about a train for example. Is a train free when it is on or off the tracks? Even though it is “restricted” by the tracks, the tracks allow it to be free and to do what it was created to do. Leaving the tracks would destroy the train and make it useless. We also live in a free country but understand that there are guidelines. The laws of our country are what allow us to live in peace and be free to flourish.

So, is true freedom the ability to do whatever I want to do? No. We cannot do whatever makes us happy even if that is the message from our culture. Freedom is doing what we were created to do and doing what is right. This means that in order to truly be free, we first have to discover our purpose. After we know what we were created to do, we have to live it out and do what is right. This is what brings true freedom!

What are other definitions of true freedom that you have heard? Comment below!

How To Develop a Deep Relationship with God

I recently created a new talk titled “Everyone Has To Start Somewhere.” The purpose of this talk is to recognize that we all aren’t at the same level of relationship with God. Some of us haven’t started, others are just beginning, and some have a deep relationship. I discuss this idea in the recent blog, Everyone Has To Start Somewhere – Helping Students Deepen Their Relationship With God.

Since I wrote out the main idea from the talk before, I wanted to discuss it on the podcast. I hope you enjoy this week as I walk through a plan to develop a deeper relationship with God. If you like what you hear, remember that I am available to visit your church or youth group and share with you. Just visit the Endorsements & Speaking for more information.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT. This broadcast is also being live streamed every Wednesday on Facebook Live at 5 PM PT immediately following the radio show.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number only for questions).

Why Christianity Isn’t Just a List of Don’ts

One of the interesting aspects of Christianity is that it focuses on pursuing health rather than avoiding illness. This was the topic of a short discussion I had with my class today. Many times we think of Christianity only as a list of rules that help us avoid wrong behavior or keep us from having fun. This is what I hear frequently from students. However, this isn’t the goal. It isn’t focused on not doing wrong by creating a long list of don’ts. Instead, it is about living rightly and creating a lifestyle that is healthy. This is what I mean about pursuing health rather than avoiding illness.

The problem that many in our culture have with this message is that in order to create a healthy lifestyle and right living, we need things that are right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy. “Secularists, Marxists, and Postmodernists consider right and wrong to be burdensome because they hamper personal freedom.”¹ The reason for this is because most Secularists, Marxists, and Postmodernists consider themselves the highest authority. Their worldview says there is no religion or God they have to follow. This makes right and wrong relative to the individual, and no one can impose morality on another. This is what we are seeing in our culture today. “Who are you to judge?” A culture of relativism means a culture of no right and wrong, and this would allow people to have personal autonomy and choose whatever makes them happy. Is this really what is best?

I don’t think it is and here’s why.

We live in a culture with many rules that create right and wrong. And when we think about them, we see that most are in place to help us rather than hurt us. I have rules in my classroom not to limit my students’ freedom, but to create an environment of learning so that they benefit and grow. We have traffic laws not so the government can control us, but to protect us and create peace on the roads. Accidents and deaths generally happen when people are breaking the law. Take sports for example! Every sport has a long list of rules in order to make sure the payers are safe. Football has changed so much the last few years in because of their knowledge about concussions and health problems. We don’t see these rules as limiting the freedom of players but protecting them. Rules are there to pursue health rather than avoiding illness.

We also see this with a parent and a child. I don’t know any parent that allows their child to eat candy all day long and nothing else. Parents don’t force kids to each their vegetables to limit their freedom or to be burdensome. They also don’t do it just to avoid illness. Parents should do it because they want their child to be healthy. We also recognize that the child’s opinion on that matter really isn’t important because their knowledge is limited. The child says, “It tastes good. I like it. It makes me happy. So it must be good!” This shows that they don’t fully understand how things work. Parents, with their greater knowledge, create rules to pursue health for their children even when the child doesn’t understand.

The same is true for Christianity. We often look at our decisions and think, “It tastes good. I like it. It makes me happy. So it must be good!” However, we don’t fully understand the consequence of our decisions just like the child. Not everything that feels good is good, and not everything that feels bad is bad (Injections for example). Instead of a child and a parent, the true example is God and us. God has given us a list of right and wrong. It isn’t just a list of don’ts to limit our freedom and take away our fun, but they are guidelines that allow for a good, healthy lifestyle were we pursue doing right rather than merely avoiding wrong behavior.

It’s amazing what a slight change in perspective will do for a person when looking at rules.

¹ Jeff Myers, Understanding the Times, Summit Ministries

Everyone Has To Start Somewhere – Helping Students Deepen Their Relationship With God

It was the summer of 2013 and I was on a family vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Family is so important to me and since moving away in 2008, I just don’t get to see them as much as I would like. So every chance we have to get together turns into a special time. While at dinner one evening my mom said something she has told me many times throughout my life. She began to tell me about this amazing girl that I would marry one day and how God had someone special in mind. Instead of responding with something like “Yeah mom, I know.,” which I had done many times before; I said something different. I remember looking at my mom and saying something like, “Where is she? You keep telling me about this girl, but I don’t see her anywhere. Can you please tell me where she is at? Does she even exist?” Then I quickly began to feel guilty because my mom only meant the best for me.

This story recently came back to mind as I tried to find an example for my new talk on the existence of God. I realized that this is often how we talk to students. We keep telling them how amazing God is and how he loves them, cares for them, and wants a relationship with them. While these things are completely true, we have students who respond just like I did. Where is he? Does he even exist? What we sometimes forget to realize is that everyone has to start somewhere, and we aren’t all at the same level. As I thought about this, I thought about four different relationship levels.

  1. Non-existence or blind faith
  2. Belief that the person exists
  3. Start the relationship and get to know the person
  4. Belief in the person leading to a deep, committed, and lasting relationship

This makes sense when you think about friendships. Everyone starts at level 1 and is not aware of the existence of the other person, or they are told that there is a special person out there for them creating a blind faith. Then one day we reach level 2 and meet the person (with students you check their Instagram). This is the physical evidence. But just because you believe that they exist doesn’t mean you have a committed relationship. You then have to move to level 3 and start to get to know the person. Many times we don’t move to level 3 because we have false ideas about the person. Maybe we think they are weird or that we wouldn’t get along. Other times we think we will be best friends, but after the relationship begins, we realize how different we are. And then there is a time where we get to know the person and it leads to level 4; a deep, committed relationship where we believe in the person and trust them. From that point we continue to grow deeper in our relationship the rest of our life.

That evening, in the restaurant with my mom, I experienced how a person’s place on the relationship spectrum affects how they hear what you are saying. My mom was at level 4. She understood how amazing level 4 was and because she loved me, she wanted the same for me. That is why she has continued to tell me about how amazing it will be my whole life. However, while at level 1, I can either choose to have a blind faith or will become tired of hearing it. It is easy to believe blindly while young, but over 20 years of no evidence led to becoming upset.

I think we do the same thing with students and God. We keep telling them how amazing the level 4 relationship is with God, but we don’t help them move from level 1 to 2. This either creates a blind faith or a bitterness. They ask for evidence and we sometimes don’t give it. We tell them to “just have faith,” but this can only last so long. The other scenario is that they hold on to their blind faith until college only to have it shattered by a secular professor. When evidence is demanded, our students come up short. This can lead to doubt and cause some to walk away from the faith.

Other people are at level 2. They believe that God exists, but believe that he is evil, judgmental, wrong, or a bully. Students think God will just make their life boring with all the rules. This false view of God keeps them from wanting to start that relationship. If this is where they are, then we need to show them the truth about God.

So, instead of continuing to only talk about God’s love or power, lets add to it the fact that Christianity is true. Lets provide intellectual reasons as well as emotional reasons. When our students begin to see the facts and the intellectual reasons for believing in God, then a deeper understanding and relationship is formed. This deeper understanding fills in the gaps and can lead to a more passionate love for God.

The same is true with every other hobby. I love watching baseball because I understand it at such a deep level. Other people only see someone throwing a ball fast. Those that understand art see brush strokes when I only see a building. Musicians can hear harmonies when others just hear sounds. Computer programmers understand the code while some just hope to hit a power button. This deeper understanding leads to a more complete love. When people only understand the basics, they get bored very quickly. Many of our students only know the basics of Christianity. God loves me, he died for me… that’s it. No wonder they’re bored!

Let us keep telling people about the amazing love that God has for them. Let us keep telling them about how God is powerful, holy, perfect, and just. But let us not forget that everyone has to start somewhere. Let us have the ability to understand where someone is at in their relationship with God and help them get to the next level. Moving closer to that level 4 relationship with God is something to be excited about!

Vengeance: A Lesson From Captain America Civil War

I’m usually not the first one to a theater to see a new movie. In fact, I might be the last person. It is for this reason that spoilers don’t really bother me. By the time I see a movie, it will have been talked about for a while. All that to say, I finally got around to seeing Captain America: Civil War. For the most part, I thought it was entertaining. I don’t follow all the plot stories like most people who really love Marvel movies. Instead, I usually walk away from movies being entertained and in thought with a quote or something that stood out, and this movie was no different.

Towards the end of the movie there was an interaction between the villain and one of the superheroes, Black Panther. The villain, who’s wife and son were accidentally killed by the Avengers, talk about how he knew he couldn’t kill the Avengers to get revenge. Instead, he would plan a way to get them to turn against each other and do the job for him. And therein lies the title, Captain America: Civil War. The Black Panther, whose father was killed by the villain, responded by saying, “Vengeance has consumed you. It’s consuming them, but I’m done letting it consume me. Justice will come soon enough.”

I couldn’t help but dwell on this line. And as I though about it, I thought about how many people either don’t believe justice is coming or believe that vengeance is their. They think that it is their responsibility to seek justice and get even. However, this is not the view that is taught by Scripture and Christians should be different.

But some may say, “How am I supposed to forget about what they have done to me?” “How am I supposed to forgive them?” I think these thoughts come to mind because we have an incorrect view of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not condone or diminish behavior. It isn’t saying that what they did is okay. Forgiveness does not eliminate consequences. We can forgive people and there can still be consequences. And last, forgiveness does not depend on whether or not the offender is truly sorry. We don’t have to wait around for the person to say “sorry” before we can forgive them. Instead, as Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Christ forgave us and so we need to forgive. And then, we trust that justice will come.

In the book, Desperate Hope, Rose Pauly explains this concept in a very personal and beautiful way. The book describes an event where a man came into her house and assaulted her at knifepoint. By the grace of God she escaped without harm, but she still had to process what happened. Should she seek revenge? Was she supposed to forgive this man? If so, how is that possible after what he had done? Here is how she explained that process.

As I worked through unpredictable emotions and wrestled with new realities, I started to realize what forgiveness did mean. It meant I was choosing to release Matt from any debt to me. I didn’t have to use up valuable energy and time to make sure he paid his dues and received his just penalty. I didn’t have to be consumed with his punishment, tied up with desire for revenge, fretful that the authorities would handle things poorly, anxious that he would get let off the hook, or worried that he would work the system. I could place all of this—and Matt himself—into the hands of God. God, who is a God of justice, would do what was right. Didn’t the Bible confirm this when it says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil,” and, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” If there was avenging that needed to be done, then God was very capable to take care of it. And I had to admit, being avenged by God was not something any sane person would choose. I found my own heart again filled with compassion for Matt. Down deep I wanted him to be dealt with mercifully, and continued to pray that God would intervene in his life.

Notice a few things. First, revenge uses up our energy! Unforgiveness only hurts us and planning revenge uses up our energy. We don’t have time for that. We cannot let it consume our lives. Second, it isn’t our job to punish or get revenge. This only makes us anxious and consumes our thoughts. Forgiveness places the person in the hands of God. God commands us to not take revenge because it is His job. Justice will come and it will come from the perfect judge who always does what is right. So, follow the example of the Black Panther and more importantly Scripture and say, “I’m done letting vengeance consume me.” Live a life of freedom in Christ!

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