[serialposts]History has always been a tough thing for me to understand or grasp. There are always way too many things to remember and keep straight. Things like wars and battles, presidents and politicians, queens and kings, births and deaths, dates, times and travels…ugh, it all becomes like a plate of spaghetti in my mind; all twisted and piled up in a large heap and none of it makes any sense. It’s always been the one subject to bring me to tears and has given me the intense desire to shred my school textbooks and tests.
In my mailbox arrives my new book to blog on: The Case for Christmas – OH NO!!! It was filled with historical dates and events. I was freaking out! How was this going to make any sense, enough sense for me to give any type of insight on? So, I did what I have learned to do when I feel overwhelmed, I asked others to pray for me, and I asked God to give me understanding! Thankfully my friends and my Heavenly Father came through on both accounts!
This first chapter is simply about a man who was driven to find the validity or fallacy of who Jesus Christ was in his birth, life, death and resurrection. The author, Lee Strobel, was a devout atheist for most of his life. He also holds a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, was an investigative newspaper reporter, and was the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. You could say, Lee is one smart puppy! However, in spite of all of these wonderful additions to his resume, he was not a man with an honest moral code. In an interview with Strobel that is listed on Geographa, a Christian Journalist’s website (http://poptop.hypermart.net/testls.html), he shares stories about how out of control his life was personally and professionally. If he wasn’t cheating, lying, stealing, or destroying others reputations, he was drinking and carousing; and filled with anger and rage. His wife Leslie, who became a Christian about 2 years prior to his own conversion, would tell her friends at church that her husband is “a hard-hearted, hard-headed journalist that she didn’t have much hope for.” They prayed according to Ezekiel 36:26. That God would give Lee a new heart and a new spirit, and that God would remove his heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. God answered their plea. During the 2 years that Leslie prayed for Lee, he intentionally set, out as a journalist, to find the facts that prove or disprove the validity of the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Lee marveled at the changes in his wife’s attitudes and actions of love towards him and their children. He had to find out for himself if these men really knew Jesus and witnessed the signs, miracles and wonders that followed him. He had to find out for himself if the Bible was true or not; and either embrace it’s truth, or lay it to rest once and for all.
I love what Lee did at the onset of his journey of discovery. He went to, one of the country’s foremost authorities on the biographies of Jesus – which are known as the 4 Gospels. You could say, Lee went to the top of the historical biographical food chain when it comes to interviewing experts that decipher and study the validity of the gospels and the history recorded in them.
What I loved about this section is that Lee didn’t go on a “witch hunt” per se, in order to deliberately disprove the Bible. He was compelled to use his journalistic skills to dig and research until he was completely satisfied with the answers, whatever they may end up being. After almost 2 years of intense research, Lee could do no less than give his life to Christ. In the same interview as previously noted, Lee said, “I just realized that in light of this torrent of evidence that points so powerfully towards Christianity, it would have required more faith to retain my atheism than to become a Christian. Because to maintain my atheism I would have had to defy the evidence. To become a Christian, I just had to make a step of faith in the same direction that the evidence was pointing. That’s logical, that’s rational, and that’s what I did.”
From reading this chapter, I was pleasantly surprised and deeply moved to find out that there are recorded statements and writings from different rulers and leaders from the same time in history that tell of the validity of the 4 Gospel’s authors. One such statement came from Papias in AD 125. Papias specifically affirmed that “Mark had carefully and accurately recorded Peter’s eyewitness observations.” In fact Papias said, “Mark ‘made no mistake’ and did not include ‘any false statement’.” It was also noted that Papias said, “Matthew had preserved the teachings of Jesus as well.”
These findings, along with others that are revealed in the book, brought such a reassuring and calming effect to my heart. History (yes HISTORY) was bringing another depth of resolution to my belief in Jesus Christ and the life that he lived on earth.
As an investigative Journalist, Lee tells about having eyewitness testimonies in court cases that he reported on. He says that when someone saw the crime happen, that witness not only has a compelling testimony, but also a convincing one. “The climactic event of pointing out a defendant in a courtroom can be enough to doom that person to prison or worse.” Thus, he was very bent on finding the validity of the writings of those who were the “first century journalists” in Jesus’ day.
This has made me stop and ponder the eyewitness accounts that I could record that would tell of the validity of Jesus being alive and well in my heart and life. My “eyewitness testimonies” range from seeing angels during a small praise service at the tender age of 6; to having my 11 year old wart filled hands, completely healed within 2 weeks of having my pastor pray for them; to being 12 years old and hearing a “still small voice” give me direction on what to do if the vacuum caught on fire, and within 10 seconds it did; to having a heart that experienced far too much rejection and hurt that it should never recover to a point of trusting another person ever again, to being able to not only trust others, but also being able to truthfully share the joy and freedom that comes from forgiving, praying for, and blessing those that have hurt, abused and persecuted you.
My stories are my eyewitness accounts that my Jesus is real. He has healed me, restored me, forgiven me, blessed me, accepted me, promoted me, and destined and purposed me to tell of His goodness and daily activity in my life. No one will ever be able to take my “eyewitness accounts” away from me, because they are the most real things that I have ever known and that I will ever be able to share. These are things that have happened to me that no one will ever be able to discount because I know them to be true! I know that my Jesus loves me, he talks to me, he heals me, directs my steps and decisions, and gives me the opportunities to tell others that He loves them too. It is true as it is written in Jeremiah 29:11, “God’s plans for you are for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope in your final outcome!”
Merry Christmas Jesus, thank you for being my breath, my strength and my song!