The Church

As I sat here in the church office as an intern, I decided it is time for me to write again. I pulled up the WordPress app on my computer and started typing this out, however I found myself at a loss for words. There was a heaviness in my heart as of late and I have had a lot of thinking that needed to be done. Thinking of the future and of what I need to do in order to survive. If you could keep me in your prayers, reader, that God would give me wisdom and guidance in what I should do in order to make finances work when I finally get to that point. Now, I will get on to the topic at hand today.

Today I wanted to discuss the dead church. Don’t take my words out of context here, I believe the church is important in our lives as believers and is important in our fellowship with others, however I believe we have turned it into something it was never meant to be.

I have been taking Western Civilization online during the summer and I have learned a great amount of information during this class. Reading on about the abuse of the Papal powers and of the kings of the Middle Ages. Reading the horrible atrocities that the “church” has done. I think as Christians, we cannot ignore these issues (i.e., The Crusades) as if they didn’t happen. We do not fix things by claiming they never happened nor by simply ignoring them. Atheists quite often claim that religion in general has only brought war and pain, and often times they are right. I would dare say that the atheist is 100% right, religion has historically been the main proponent of war. Although this is true, it would be foolish of us to ignore other causes of wars (i.e., money, power, glory, etc.). However, I really want to talk about this church of persecution compared to the church that Christ refers to as his bride.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

Matthew 7:21-23 ESV

This passage in scripture never made sense to me. I always wondered why God would deny those who did the work of God. Then I realized that God knows the inner depths of our hearts. These people mentioned in Matthew 7 did not do these things because they loved Jesus and God, but because they loved themselves and the attention it brought them. But Tony, how does this relate to these horrible things the church has done in the past? I’m glad you asked.

In the Crusades, we see this slaughter of those who were not believers in Jesus and the church. We see that the church promoted this behavior and, in fact, poured money into these conquests. There were several reasons for the Crusades however the main purposes were the fear of Islamic power and the access to the east. However, the Pope would convince many people to join these armies through religious reasons. Many hundreds and even hundred thousands were slaughtered in the name of Christ. I am sure in the eyes of the Crusaders they believed that they were in the will of God and were “casting out demons in [Jesus’] name.” However, as we read earlier in Matthew 7, many will do these things, he will declare to them, “I never knew you…” We need to confront this issue of the historic church saying that yes, they did do these things in the name of Christianity, however that does not mean it was right. We must reflect what we read from the teachings of Jesus. Earlier in Matthew 7 (Matt. 7:12) that we are to treat others how we would like to be treated. This also needs to be a lesson on how to reach people and how we as a church must shift our focus.

My point behind all this is simple, the church today must revamp who it is and what it’s all about. We are called to be about the Father’s business and to love people. We must shift our focus from how we can get people to Jesus, and think how we can get Jesus to people. Too often we may find ourselves more focused on getting non-believers into the church and hope that they have an encounter with Jesus and get saved. That would be an ideal scenario but, unfortunately, that isn’t how the world works. The Great Commission is not for the world to come for the good news, but for the church and her people to go out to the world and preach the Gospel. We need to care for people and we need to understand that the first piece of Jesus anyone in the world will ever see is us. We must take this with humility, reminding ourselves that we are slaves to Christ. When we do this, I believe that we will have a positive impact on the lives of those around us and reflect Jesus on a daily and consistent basis.


Summer ’17

I love listening to Drake, it’s my guilty pleasure. Of course, I only listen to the clean versions – call me over-cautious if you’d like. Last year Drake released a track called Summer Sixteen, it was one of his best tracks of 2016, at least in my opinion it was. It’s now the summer of 2017 and things are busy. I’m currently enrolled in Western Civilization online for the summer and I’m working on my ministry internship. On top of all that, my family and I are moving in a month, it’s been very busy here.

In the midst of this, I noticed I have not posted in quite a while, so I will get back into it. Finals was last week and it has been quite a ride. I finished the semester with the highest grades I’ve ever gotten and I’m excited for what God is doing. This blog will be going through a set of changes soon. From now on, this is not only an apologetics blog, this is my weekly life blog. When a topic regarding apologetics comes up, I’ll still write about it. However, I will write about what’s going on in my life on a weekly basis and do my best to encourage others through it. Thank you all for your continued support and patience as I start to blog again! God bless!

“Sing to the Lord a new song…”

Isaiah 42:10a ESV

The Syrian Conflict

The Syrian Civil War has been raging on since 2011 and it has never been so frightening to the average Christian as it has been on Tuesday, April 4th. This war has been long fought and, honestly, heartbreaking. I sit here, days after the news broke, and am in tears and in shock at the horrors of what is happening to our fellow humans in Syria.

The Bible says that murder is wrong. Actually, if you were to murder someone in the times of Mosaic Law, you would be put to death. But what do we do when we see injustice? What happens when that injustice doesn’t affect us directly, but those on the other side of the globe? I feel like this is a hard question to ask and to answer. The Bible mentions that we are to help those who can’t help themselves. To look out for the innocent. The chemical attacks that were carried out by the Syrian government were wrong, there are no ifs nor buts about it.

The Syrian government crossed a line, they killed 70-80 innocent people and were seemingly in the clear, that is until President Trump heard about it. At the time of this writing, 59 Tomahawk Missiles were launched into the Syrian airbase that was responsible for these chemical attacks. This has deteriorated relations with Russia and, I fear, have escalated the situation in the Middle East.

The Middle East has always been the birthplace of prophecy and wonder. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all formed out of roughly the same geographical region. In Isaiah, he prophecies that the city of Damascus, the longest standing/inhabited city in the world, will be left in ruin. This, I fear, is going to happen in the next decade and, dare I say it, in the next five years. This is what I believe to be the beginning of the “birth pains” of Revelation. What do you think? Should we be worried? Should the USA have gotten involved? Comment!

What is normal?

What is normal? Normality is a question that most people strive to answer and I find that it is an important topic. Many of you know it is Autism Awareness and Mental Health month and normality is discussed with great strives to push a modern agenda of understanding in regards to mental health and disorder.

I’m no expert on Autism and I don’t have many friends in the spectrum. What I do know, however, is mental health and mental disability. When I got to the 4th Grade, I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD. I then began on medication treatment for the next eight years. ADHD medication is a complicated subject as it has many different affects on many different people. When it comes to my meds, I was quiet, relatively boring, and I struggled eating. I wouldn’t eat much and I remained at 120 lbs. for most of high school. I also remained very serious and was extremely quiet and shy. I stopped taking my medication, ignoring the recommendations of my psychiatrist. I gained weight, healthily of course, and I felt better about myself. I felt “normal” and I felt amazing. But, what is “normal”?

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27 NIV

We have a social bias that claims that anyone that is different from us is abnormal. But I want to challenge your thinking. We are all made in the imago dei. This means we are all created in the image of God. So, with this knowledge, are any of us really different? The person with autism, the person with Down’s, and the person with no mental difference are all the image of God. God doesn’t see these people as different. I genuinely believe that when we start treating those that we see as “different” as normal, we will then become a better society. Jesus ate amongst lepers, people that were marginalized because of their physical and mental differences. May we show the love of God on a daily basis to those who are different than us, no matter the cost.  

P.S. I haven’t posted in a while, I am aware of that. I have been fighting sickness for about  three weeks now and haven’t had time to post. More content will be coming soon.

My Story

I bet you’re wondering about who I am and how I got to blogging about Christian Apologetics and Theology. My past is somewhat of a roller coaster journey. A lot of pain, endurance, and triumph is to be found. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

I was born in 1997 and after a legal battle, my grandparents won custody of me. I lived life in a relatively blessed lifestyle and I am very grateful for it. I grew up in church and was brought up in a Christian home. The rest is the average life. However, as I got to middle school, a lot of things started changing. I began asking questions instead of just taking all that I was given.

So, around the 7th grade, I started rejecting this idea of Jesus and God being real posing questions such as, “Why would a good God allow so much evil exist?” Of course, I didn’t get any memorable answers from my peers or even church. So, I thought maybe this was a problem with all of Christianity. Turns out, it’s not. But I’ll get back to that later. I didn’t come back to Jesus until the 9th grade but not due to a very scientific understanding of God. During my time as an agnostic, I started dealing with depression and was extremely suicidal, even though I had a relatively easy life. I was so distraught and depressed I seriously considered suicide.

I remember the day I got saved very clearly. It was November 11th, 2011 and my youth group that my parents had me attending had a retreat to Lake Okeechobee. On the first night, they had a service at 11 P.M., I was exhausted but decided to go. During the worship, I stood in the back – arms crossed and thinking to myself, “Stupid Christians, worshipping  their imaginations.” As I stood back there I heard a voice, clear as day, saying, “Raise your hands, son.” As I heard this I looked around and, to my amazement, no one was standing near enough to me for me to hear those words so clearly. I shrugged it off, “Maybe I’m hearing things.” Again the clear voice said, “Just raise your hands!” I did because, in my mind, I had nothing else to lose as I was going to kill myself when I got home anyway. So, as I lifted my hands, I felt all my pain and torment being pulled right off of me and I felt this loving embrace fall upon me. I was… happy. For the first time in a long time, I was happy. I then knew that God was real. It didn’t matter to me what I thought science said, I just knew what I felt was more real than anything a scientist ever told me.

I then went to a Christian summer camp for a week and during that, I had a vision. As I laid back onto my bed (it was “nap time”), I put my headphones in ear, blasted some Hillsong UNITED, and said, “God, whatever you want for me, show me. I will follow.” As I shut my eyes, I was instantly taken to a stage in the desert with millions of people there and I was on my knees worshiping with the crowd. Except, I was on the stage with a mic in hand. At that moment I knew I was called to be a pastor. I figured out what I wanted to be and how to be it. I decided to go to Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL to get a degree in ministry. Before I got there, I met my beautiful girlfriend Candice. As of the time of publishing this, we have been dating for a little over two years. She is the love of my life, the one who is able to calm me even when my thoughts are swirling around. She loves God and people and I’m so blessed to even be able to be hers. Now, back to the story.

I got to Southeastern University (SEU) and I loved it here. In my sophomore year here, I ended up taking a class called Theology of God and Humanity which is the first theology class every ministry major at SEU must take.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28 NLT

My professor, Dr. Davis, has taught me a lot in his theology class and he made a good point, “If you don’t care enough to study to be able to answer people’s questions when they need answers most. You don’t deserve to be a pastor.” I thus decided to study even harder, and to ponder a little longer, to answer the tough questions. That’s how I got here – to this blog. I decided to put my thoughts regarding the apologetics of Christianity out there for people to read and stumble upon. I want to be vulnerable and transparent so everyone can understand the work of God through a sinner such as I. I, like Christ, come not to be served, but to serve. So here I am, an average apologetic – the average apologetic. I’m no one special. I am but a man who wants the world to understand why I, and many others, believe in God and Jesus.

I pray that God would show you the same love and grace he showed me as you go through your daily life. Amen.

The Problem of Pain – Intro

The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.

George Macdonald. Unspoken Sermons. First Series.

Over the course of the next week or so I will be critiquing a book by one of my favorite authors and contemporary theologians – C.S. Lewis. You may know him by his famous work for children – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I am fairly new to the works of C.S. Lewis, but I knew his implications well enough. He lived a life of war, writing, skepticism, and as a layman. He would have seen the tortures that humanity could produce as he was alive to witness the horrific nature of both World War I and World War II. The Problem of Pain is an apologetic book written to answer the skeptic of Christianity who questions, “Why would an all-good God allow suffering and pain in this world?” This is a highly complex question with an even more complex answer as we will uncover as we dive deeper into this book. However, let me introduce how I view the problem of pain in my point of view and my history of pain.

While I was in the fourth grade I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD for short. I was no longer considered “normal” by society’s standard and I would have a long journey ahead. The school recommended to my parents that I be put into ESE classes and be separated into a room of people who also had mental disability. I lived a life far from normal. There were times where I struggled with my own identity and questioned why I was dealt this hand. I was raised in church and was raised to believe that God had a reason for everything. But as time progressed, the pain felt worse and worst of all – I refused to believe in a God that would let someone suffer to even worse degrees than I.

I wouldn’t have called myself an atheist per-say. I would’ve fit better into the agnostic label. I believed that there may be a higher being, but one that was not worthy of my worship. Long story short (I will save my salvation story for another time), I eventually came back to Christ and became a born-again believer. However, I would search for the answers to my childhood questions of God. One of these questions would be why would an all-good and all-powerful God allow people to suffer? It’s a demanding question that I struggled with many years. There are many ways to explain it, as I learned in my theology class in university. One that I will cover here is called the calculation, or calibration, of negation.

The idea behind the calculation of negation is fairly simple. In order to understand an act, we must understand the effect of the absence of that act. Here’s an example. When I was in the tenth grade, my family went on a road trip to Arizona. We were on our way back to Florida when my dad had a seizure while driving. It was a horrible situation. We were supposed to be home, instead we were three hours away in a hotel room as I watched my father, the man I admired as the strongest, at his weakest moments – helpless, scared, and physically weak. My dad never lost his humor though, and for that I was thankful for. Eventually, the doctors found that his major coronary artery was clogged at an alarmingly high percentage. They installed a stint and thus extended his life.

To fully understand why God allowed this terrible event to occur, we must understand what would happen if it didn’t occur. Let’s say, hypothetically, that my father never had that seizure. Well, according to the doctors, he would have likely died of a heart attack. Because of his seizure, they found the clogged artery and performed a life-saving operation. In the end, sometimes pain occurs because it will eventually show us something we didn’t know before.

Now, let’s look to the preface. One thing I love about C.S. Lewis is that he’s humble. He consistently humbles himself by stating that he is no special theologian and is simply a “layman and an amateur.” He goes on to explain that he is not worthy to explain how to get through pain and get through tough times. His sole purpose is the address the problem of pain from an intellectual point of view. He goes on about his convictions.

… nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.

C.S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain. Preface.

As we dive deeper into this book, we will then discuss more into detail the reason of suffering and the problem of pain. I am looking forward to delving deeper into this theological issue that I am sure many people have struggled through.

May God grant you wisdom everywhere you go and in everything you do. Amen.

In The Beginning…

…there was a dream. I always wanted to make a blog. Since I was in middle school, actually. Here I am, finally doing it. To cut straight to the chase, this blog will challenge the faith of the Christian believer and (hopefully) will share some insight into why a Christian believes in God.

You know, there are plenty of people out there that don’t believe in God. I know, it’s crazy to think that when Jesus says to go out and make disciples of the nations, he meant it! Jokes aside, the Bible tells us to be ready in and out of season and to always be ready to defend our faith. So, here I am, defender of the faith.

I’m not sure how often I will make posts. I may do it once a week, once a day, or maybe occasionally. I may even have guest writers produce content. In the end, I just want to show people the rational conclusions of their faith. So, if you have any questions contact me and just tell me whether you want a personal answer or think that I should make a post about the topic. I’m also open to suggestions and discussions!

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

1 Peter 3:15 NIV