How Do We Know?


Over and over one of the atheist guys in the atheist/theist group on Facebook of which I’m a member, has asked Christians how we know. How do we know God exists, how do we know the Bible is not just myth, how do we know we have a relationship with Jesus?

The last question is quite a challenge, but as I thought about it, I realized the Bible had answered it already. Long before Atheist Guy had thought to ask. As near as I can discern, Jesus was talking to a group, including a number of Pharisees, about the fact that a healed blind man had been kicked out of the temple.

Essentially Jesus said, the authorities who kicked him out were blind to who Jesus actually was. The Pharisees who were part of the group said, “We’re not blind too, are we?” Jesus gave a kind of confusing answer, then he told a story about sheep.

We don’t know sheep in western American culture, but first century Jews did. So this analogous story was not in any way odd. It was a good choice to make the points Jesus wanted to make. Here’s part of what Jesus said:

“he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Later He explains part of the analogy to the people He was talking to, but the part that clicked with me was the statement that the shepherd’s sheep know his voice. I’ve watched a number of YouTube videos about sheep and shepherds for a few other posts I’ve done, such as this one, but in those I wrote with the Shepherd in mind. But the truth of what Jesus said about the sheep knowing the shepherd’s voice is very clear.

So that was my answer to Atheist Guy. I know I have a relationship with God, that He counsels me, encourages me, answers my questions, reproves me, because I know His voice.

That wasn’t enough for Atheist Guy. How do I know it’s God and not some other entity or even my own imaginings and delusion?

Well, years ago I’d believed—really hoped—something I’d prayed for was true, kind of talked myself into thinking this was God’s answer. But I had reservations, even journaled about them, because I knew in my heart I was not hearing God’s voice buy my own hopes. So I knew what Atheist Guy said was certainly possible.

But then I started thinking about human relationships. My friend can telephone, not say who she is, and without caller ID, I can know in a word or two who I’m talking to. Same with my sister, my brother, and a handful of others. How do I know their voices? Simple. I’ve spent enough time talking to them that I know them.

That’s true about knowing God’s voice, too. If I spend time with Him, I know His voice. And the more time I spend with Him, the more sensitive I am to His voice, so that I “hear” what He’s saying through life circumstances as well as within the stillness of my heart or the revelation from His word.

Was Atheist Guy convinced? No. But I was. Why wouldn’t we know God better and better if we are with Him more and more? It’s pretty logical, and not at all complicated.

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Published in: on August 8, 2018 at 6:25 pm  Comments (17)  
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We Want To Be Cats, But We’re Sheep


Maybe I should have titled this post, “I want to be a cat, but I‘m just one of the sheep.” After all, should I be speaking for you?

I’m a little irritated right now at social media in general because The Powers That Be decide for the rest of us what they think we want, without asking us. Today it was Yahoo. Suddenly when I clicked on a new tab, I had a Yahoo search page pop up. I had to deactivate the Yahoo add-on to make it go away.

Sometime ago Facebook decided to speak for me—or more accurately, to think for me—by selecting what they deem to be my “Top Stories.” But they’re no different than Google+ who has determined what other G+ users I would most likely want to invite into my circles.

I think these social networking sites have taken their cue from cars that not only give you directions, but now park for you, change braking capacity under certain conditions, and even give you the hands off driving experience. For some years, those with alarm systems tell you (loudly) when something untoward approaches the vehicle.

The problem is, I’d rather think for myself. I’d rather do the driving because I like driving. I’m a responsible agent and shouldn’t need to be told to put on my seat belt. I like choosing my own routes instead of having a GPS tell me when to turn, and I think map reading is a good skill to have.

But more than that, I don’t want to be told who my friends should be on social media sites or what posts I should want to read. I want to think for myself.

I kind of assumed everyone else felt the same way (which is why I said “we” in the title, but I realize I am sort of playing the role of Facebook by doing so).

Perhaps this desire for independence is part of American Rugged Individualism we hear so much about— some of which I believe to be true. I mean, for people to pull up stakes and move across an ocean or to a foreign land where few people speak their language, they have to have a bit of individualism in them, I think.

And no matter how short or how long an American’s ancestors have been here, there is some value-passing that has preserved that individualistic spirit, that determination to go it alone against great odds.

However, I think there’s some of this independent spirit in all humankind. It’s not actually a good thing, either. It’s our desire, like small children who tell their parents they want to do “it” by themselves, to tell our Father that we can live life on our own.

In spite of this drive for independence, though, we—and this is the right pronoun this time—end up like sheep. Scripture says so. Besides Isaiah 53 that says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (v. 6a), Jeremiah paints a picture I think reflects our world today:

My people have become lost sheep;
Their shepherds have led them astray.
They have made them turn aside on the mountains;
They have gone along from mountain to hill
And have forgotten their resting place. (Jeremiah 50:6)

The passage originally referred to the Jewish people, but since all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to see us Gentiles in the same light—as sheep who are lost, who have shepherds leading them astray.

Now cats—they don’t let anyone lead. They don’t allow for herding. They scatter whithersoever they desire. But us sheep, we go where we ought not go just because everyone else is going there. We don’t always even notice where it is we’re going because we’re not paying all that much attention.

This is why we need a Good Shepherd. Cats, though, even if they had a Good Shepherd, would still go their own way. Eventually they’d end up high in a tree and too scared to climb down, too ornery to let anyone near enough to help them. Maybe being a sheep isn’t so bad. 😀

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in October 2011.

Published in: on August 1, 2016 at 6:22 pm  Comments (5)  
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Hearing God’s Voice


Shepherd_on_the_way_to_Hampta_PassToday InsanityBytes posted an article entitled “God Said??” and it reminded me of a video I saw some time ago. In a busy town, perhaps in the Middle East, cars zoomed down the street. On one side stood a shepherd and on the other a small flock of sheep. When there was a small break in traffic, he would call and one sheep would cross to him. The others stayed where they were, though sheep are notorious followers. When there was another break between cars, then another, he would call again and again. One by one those sheep crossed to him, presumably when he called specifically to each one in turn.

I went to YouTube hoping to find the video, but alas, I didn’t come across it. Perhaps I saw it at church. At any rate, I did find a few other clips that show the responsiveness of sheep to their shepherd’s voice. It’s pretty impressive. The first one brings this passage of Scripture to mind:

he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:2-5)

The second one reminds me of the parable Jesus told about leaving the 99 sheep to find the one that is lost:

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (Matt. 18:12-14)

Not that the shepherd in this next video has to go looking for one of his sheep. Rather, it seems so clear that any sheep not hearing the shepherd could go wondering off. Then too, it appears a wandering sheep might draw away others from the flock:

I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated by sheep. They are so vulnerable, so timid, so prone to wander and so willing to follow, so in need of a shepherd. Watching them makes me understand in a new way why Scripture compares us to sheep so often. I could even see, after watching a few clips, why Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd, not just the Shepherd. There are some task-master cruel shepherds. But their sheep recognize their voice too. We really do respond to the one who owns us.

We Want To Be Cats, But We’re Sheep


Maybe I should have titled this post, “I want to be among the cats, but I‘m just one of the sheep.” After all, should I be speaking for you?

I’m a little irritated right now at Facebook because they dare to speak for me — or more accurately, to think for me — by selecting what they deem to be my “Top Stories.” But they’re no different than Google+ who has determined what other G+ users I would most likely want to invite into my circles.

I think these social networking sites have taken their cue from cars that not only give you directions, but might park for you and change braking capacity in the rain. Those with alarm systems tell you (loudly) when something untoward is near.

The problem is, I’d rather think for myself. I like driving and don’t really appreciate being told to put on my seat belt. I like choosing my own routes and think map reading is a good skill to have.

But more than that, I don’t want to be told who my friends should be or what posts I should want to read. I want to think for myself and kind of assumed everyone else felt the same way (which is why I say “we” in the title, but I realize I am sort of playing the role of Facebook by doing so).

Perhaps this desire for independence is part of American Rugged Individualism we hear so much about — some of which I believe. I mean, for people to pull up stakes and move across an ocean or to a foreign land where few people speak your language, you have to have a bit of individualism in you, I think.

And no matter how short or how long an American’s ancestors have been here, there is some value-passing that has preserved that spirit of going it alone against great odds.

However, I think there’s some of this independent spirit in all Mankind. It’s not actually a good thing, either. It’s our desire, like small children do with their parents, to tell our Father that we can do it on our own.

In spite of all this drive for independence, though, we — and this is the right pronoun this time — end up like sheep. Scripture says so. Besides Isaiah 53 that says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (v. 6a), Jeremiah paints a picture I think reflects our world today:

My people have become lost sheep;
Their shepherds have led them astray.
They have made them turn aside on the mountains;
They have gone along from mountain to hill
And have forgotten their resting place. (Jeremiah 50:6)

The passage originally referred to the Jewish people, but since all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to see Gentiles in the same light — as sheep who are lost, who have shepherds leading them astray.

Now cats — they don’t let anyone lead. They don’t allow for herding. They scatter whithersoever they desire. But us sheep, we go where we ought not go just because everyone else is going there. We don’t always even notice where it is we’re going because we’re not paying all that much attention.

This is why we need a Good Shepherd. Cats, though, even if they had a Good Shepherd, would still go their own way. Eventually they’d end up high in a tree and too scared to climb down, too ornery to let anyone near enough to help them. Maybe being a sheep isn’t so bad. 😀

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm  Comments (3)  
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