“The Rise of the Planet of the Apes”: What Are Christians to Think about a Role-Reversal between Man and Apes?

The film writers and makers of Hollywood are remaking and reproducing some of the movies and figures from the past in new and exciting ways.  I have enjoyed their recreations of Batman, Transformers, X-men, and so forth.  One of those movies which will be released tomorrow will be called “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011).  This movie will perhaps be a rebirth of “The Planet of the Ape” series.  Before going to watch this movie, I decided to read the book which inspired all the movies: Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle.

In this book Boulle reveals a time and world in which the apes rule over everything else.  A couple of humans and their pet ape arrive, are taken captive, caged, and treated like we might treat zoo animals.  The apes feed the humans, the dangle things in front of them, and they take the humans for walks occasionally.  Reading this book was similar to imagining a backwards zoo – where we as humans are on display and the apes are looking at us.  It was quite, well, shocking to picture such a role reversal.  Could you imagine what it would be like to be in a zoo while the apes run the planet, have their own theaters with ape actors, have their ape authors, and so forth?  This idea of a role-reversal still shocks me to think of it because it is so backwards.  What are we to think of this idea?

As Christians, we must reject this idea by revealing its inadequacies.  Though entertaining, this idea is erroneous.  Apes still lack the mental capacity to rule, to talk, and so forth.  Though they can learn to mimic actions of other people, they still cannot learn to read, speak, and write at a level of competency similar to humans.  In the upcoming movie, humans will supposedly release some sort of gas that will accelerate all animal intelligence.  This invention is simply imaginative; clearly, we don’t have anything like this invention.  Furthermore, for the sake of the argument, even if we did invent something similar, we would probably be more inclined to try it ourselves rather than give it to another species.  Now, I am all for cultivating our imaginations.  Nevertheless, when we use our imaginations to propagate erroneous ideas, then we have misused our imaginations.

As Christians, we must present our Christian worldview in response to this inadequate, evolutionary worldview.   In Genesis 1:27-28, Moses writes, “27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  28 God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”  In these verses we learn that God created man and gave him a responsibility over creation – man is to rule over all the creatures, including the apes.  Yet, man is unable and unwilling to complete this task as assigned because of The Fall in Genesis 3 (search our other articles for more information on The Fall).  Whereas before, man was supposed to rule over everything with a benevolent rulership, now, he rules sinfully, or has apathy for his task, or both.  To remedy this sad circumstance, God has sent his Son to redeem mankind.  If man will change his mind about his sin (repent) and trust that Jesus Christ has bore God’s wrath on the cross for and rose again for man, now he can be made right with God.  Then, and only then, man can learn to rule over the earth in a benevolent fashion again.  That is, man should rule with a sense of responsibility.  This command from God rules out all forms of animal abuse, reckless animal killing, and so forth.  Yet, God still commands us as humans to rule over creation, not be ruled by any part of creation.

I am personally excited about watching this new movie soon.  From watching the trailers online and in the theaters, it looks interesting!  Nevertheless, we must learn to think and interact with the ideas with which we are being presented.  The writers and film makers of the movies we watch are trying to communicate ideas in their movies, just as good authors of fiction do in their books.  Yet, we, as Christians, need to be prepared to interact with those ideas in an intelligent and biblical manner.  Hopefully this article will help our readers who watch this movie engage the ideas they receive from it and all other movies they watch henceforth.

Soularium Cards: An Excellent Conversation Starter for Evangelism

Recently a couple of organizational leaders introduced me to Soularium cards. In a planetarium, we would see pictures of the planets; with Soularium cards, however, we use pictures to view into someone’s soul.  From using these cards recently, I’ve noticed that they are an excellent conversation starter for evangelism.  Clearly, if we as Christians are to fulfill the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ, then we must share the gospel with people.  Yet, finding ways to start a conversation with a stranger is often difficult, or at least awkward because we might feel (and look!) like a desperate used-car salesman.  This method, however, allows the other person to do most of the talking; then, once they’re finished answering the questions, I have found they tend to listen to me because I spent time listening to them.   In this YouTube video, notice the ease with which these guys start a conversation with a complete stranger.  My hope in sharing this video is to encourage you to use these cards to start evangelistic conversations.

The Fall: Unable and Unwilling to Be Obedient to Christ

Have you ever wondered why we can never just be good?  When we drive somewhere, we always speed, even just a little (yeah, we all do it).  When someone of authority tells us to do something, we don’t always want to do it, or we secretly grumble in our hearts.  The writers of the Bible have an answer as to why we can never just be good on our own.  In Genesis 3, Moses writes about an event called The Fall.  In this short article I want to describe The Fall and one of its effects.

What is the Fall?

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and thus fall from their originally good position.  In Genesis 1-2, God created Adam and Eve good.  Often when we call something “good,” we mean something is “tasty, pleasing,” and so forth.  When God, however, calls something “good,” then something reflects the goodness in His perfect character.  Yet, when tempted by the devil, Adam and Eve fell from their “good” status before God.  This event is what theologians have termed “The Fall.”  This Fall is why we never just be good.  The Fall is the root reason why we speed every time we drive.  The Fall is the reason why we don’t like other people telling us what to do.  The Fall is the reason for broken relationships.  The Fall is the reason for a self-love, cheating, stealing, and so forth.  The Fall is something with which we should be well acquainted because it effects affect us daily.

An Effect of the Fall: Unable and Unwilling to Be Obedient to Christ

A major effect of the Fall is that mankind is now unable and unwilling to be obedient to God who is most clearly revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  First, let’s consider our inability.  God is a perfectly righteous God.  That means that his every thought, desire, action, etc., is entirely perfect.  We, however, are entirely unrighteous.  Our thoughts are unrighteous; our desires are unrighteous; our actions are unrighteous.  Our unrighteousness is the problem.  Recently I attended a camp with my youth group in which the first day was focused on the word “stained.”  Their point was that sin has stained us to the point that we are entirely unable to clean it.  That’s precisely our predicament.  We are stained with unrighteousness in the sight of God.  For someone to be obedient to God in Christ they must be righteous—one flows from the other.  Yet, we are entirely unable to attain this righteousness.  Let’s consider our own lives.  Think of all the times just today that we have messed up—getting ready in the morning, driving to work, and so forth.  We can do nothing perfectly as God requires (Matt 5:48).

Second, let’s consider our unwillingness.  Frankly, we don’t want to be obedient to Christ.  We simply want to live our lives how we want with no one else telling us what to do.  Nickelback wrote a song with lyrics that echo our desires. Notice how he wants to avoid restrictions on his life (in the underlined lines):

I’m through with standing in line

To clubs we’ll never get in

It’s like the bottom of the ninth

And I’m never gonna win

This life hasn’t turned out

Quite the way I want it to be

I want a brand new house

On an episode of Cribs

And a bathroom I can play baseball in

And a king size tub big enough

For ten plus me

Nickelback is clear—he wants what he wants with no one else telling him what to do.  Because of the Fall, now all of us have this same attitude towards God.  We want to do what we want, no matter what God wants from us.

The Fall has left us in a terrible situation: we are both unable and unwilling to be obedient to God in Christ.  Certainly, we are not all as bad as we could be.  Nevertheless, we are still in a sad position.  While Christ offers us salvation from this sad predicament, for now let’s consider fully how bad we are apart from Christ.

Physical Health Management: ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” Should Cause Us to Take Our Health Seriously

One evening while I was spending time with my fiance’s family in their living room, her father turned on the television to ABC.  Usually I refrain from watching television but a show came on which instantly fixated my attention: “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.”    I had seen before, and others had told me about, the amazing things that the regular “Extreme Makeover” show had brought about for people — remodeled houses for people who couldn’t afford it yet needed it and for those who give their lives to some great cause and are without funds to repair their homes.  Yet, when I saw this same show having a “Weight Loss Edition,” I was shocked at the mere idea of it.  The first episode I saw consisted of someone who weighed over 500 lbs. and had to be weighed on a freight scale because no other scale was able to weigh them.  As the show progresses, usually this individual learns to eat healthy, exercise, and then by the end of the show they look like an entirely different person.  The makeover ends up being, well, extreme – sometimes people go from over 500 lbs. to a normal and average weight.  It is just shocking to see the transformation.

Watching this show and simply scoffing at the morbidly obese person is easy.  Yet, the situation is a little different when the spotlight is turned to ourselves.  Regardless of our weight and body appearance, are we actually serious about our own personal health management?  As strange as it reads, sometimes skinnier people who appear to look good can be unhealthier than someone who is slightly overweight, based on what they eat, how much they exercise, what they drink, and so forth. Given that most Americans, including Christians, are overweight, eat out often, and don’t exercise, it seems we are probably not very concerned about our own health management.  Just consider yesterday – how many calories did you eat versus how many you’re supposed to eat?  How many calories did you bur?  What was the difference between the two?  And how helpful was your exercise and those foods you ate?  Or do you even have any idea about those questions or the answers to those questions?

We must be serious about our health management because God who created our bodies is serious about them.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So, glorify God in your body.”  If we are Christians, then the Holy Spirit actually dwells in us.  Therefore, we are to honor God with our bodies.  This transcends into even how we manage it physically.

If you are like me up until the past couple months, you probably have had little knowledge about how to manage your physical health.  That’s okay!  We have plenty of resources available.  Apps like LIVESTRONG and MyFitnessPal have helped me calculate how many calories I am supposed to have, how to track them for everything I eat, how to track my workout, to being to see a difference in my lifestyle, and then to track my monthly progress.  I would offer these apps and similar online resources to aid you as you learn to manage your health.  So, instead of making fun and simply be shocked at the morbidly obese person on television, let’s actually follow Paul’s teaching and glorify God with our bodies by managing our physical health in a way that is honoring to God.

Singles and Online Dating: Is It Best for You?

Dating is usually one of those topics that is never, or rarely, discussed in churches.  Online dating is especially not mentioned.  Many still consider it odd, taboo, and so forth.  It is as though someone who dates online is inferior to those who date the so-called normal way or weird for trying it.  Nevertheless, many people, even perhaps some you know, date online.  In this article I want to consider whether or not it is best for our readers.

Before I give you my answer, it is probably best to explain my past experience with online dating.  I have tried online dating several times because I was not meeting godly, single women at college or at church or at work.  I attended college and graduate school both at a place where good and godly single women are about as easy to find as a (good) working PC (=perhaps impossible) and I worked full-time.  So, I decided to try a free trial of eHarmony.  Shortly thereafter I subscribed because I became interested in a few of the profiles I read.  From that time I met some strange people – seriously.  Oh the stories I could tell!  Anywho, I had lots of bad experiences and said I’d never do it again.  One of my friends, however, met someone who seemed to be godly.  He suggested I try it once more.  My first day on Match.com, I met the godly woman is who now my fiancé!  We both had similar, bad experiences with online dating – which was quite humorous to hear.  My main point in sharing this information is to explain that I have had lots of experience with online dating – even true success!  Enough about me, it is time to consider your situation.

Here is a guideline I’ve formulated based on my experience with online dating: guys and girls, try to find someone godly where you are – at school, work, church, and so forth; if you cannot find someone there, then try online dating, wisely and cautiously.  While I met someone amazing online, I still think trying to find someone where God has placed us is best.  Perhaps God places where we are for a reason, even for meeting our future spouse.  For some, online dating is a form of cowardice: it becomes a method to avoid the nervousness of asking someone out in person or just meeting people in person the so-called normal way.  For those types, online dating is not best.  That kind of guy should try to meet new people, man up, and ask a godly woman out on a date.  Or, that kind of woman should find a way to make herself available to meet new guys – whether that is in a coffee shop, in a book store, at church, and so forth.  Nevertheless, in some circumstances, the option of meeting new people and asking them out in person is unavailable.  This person should try to make good use of online dating.  Hopefully my success with this method will encourage you to try it and know that for some it works – perhaps even you!

For All the Single Guys: SAVE NOW for Your Future Engagement Ring

For all the single guys reading this article: SAVE money for an engagement ring, now – even if you are not dating anyone.  Before I met my fiancé I merely thought of saving for an engagement ring only once; one of my friends suggested that I start saving for it because I had a couple of sources of income and no actual bills.

Man, I wish I would have followed his advice!  Nice engagement rings, unless you know someone in the business who can give you a huge discount, are expensive ($$$$).

Obviously, some places have less expensive rings than others.  Yet, you will find that the nicer, cleaner cut rings have higher prices.  No, I am not making any money by writing this advice and I do not work for a jeweler – nor do I want to do so!  But, I just know that I wish I would have followed this advice when I heard it.  So, as a piece of practical advice for our male readers: SAVE NOW for your future engagement ring!

Singles and Evangelism: Several Examples of How to Do It

Often when I speak with Christian singles about evangelism I get faced with the response of “Well, I don’t know how to do it.”  With the following video I want to provide singles – and all other types of Christians, for that matter – with several good example of how to share the gospel about Jesus Christ with someone.

All Christians are called by Jesus Christ to share the gospel.  Learning how to do it well is, therefore, of the highest level of importance.  Click on the link below to find several examples.


Having Fun While Single Or Serving in the Local Church? Why Both Are Necessary

Until recently I was single (now I am engaged to be married soon!).  I spent my time with my single friends just like any other single guy should.  When talking with my Christian friends, I began to inquire where they went to church and how they were involved.  While most of them went to church regularly, only one or two of them were actually involved in the ministries of the church.  Most of them simply attended church weekly, gave their tithes and offerings, and that was it.   Instead of getting involved in the ministries of the church, they spent their time hanging out with friends outside of church, playing sports and video games, reading, shopping, going on vacations, and so forth.  Their perspective is that they are only single once, so they need to take advantage of the time they have.  What are we to think about this perspective?

The writers of the Bible assume that Christians are involved in local churches by using their spiritual gifts.  Every time a Christian individual is mentioned or addressed, it is in reference to or in association with a church.  The idea of a so-called Christian attending a church and yet not using their gifts was simply unmentioned.    Thus, perhaps we should question the perspective of my friends aforementioned.

Singles need to find time for both having fun outside of church and for having fun inside the church using their spiritual gifts.  I personally realize that doing both is easier said than done, especially when work and school schedules combine to make extreme busyness.  My friends I attended a rather large church, with a large church staff, and plenty of volunteers for each ministry.  What is a person to do in this circumstance?  Or, if someone has to work long hours at work just to pay the bills and has little spare time, then what?

I would advise a believer in one of these circumstances to find some small way to serve.  This person can do those necessary and small church tasks for which the church staff and other volunteers do not have enough time.  In addition, church leaders often need help calling and visiting members who have not been to church for a long time or perspective contacts.  And churches usually have older people who cannot leave home.  Singles could visit these people on a weekly basis.  Also, churches often need people to help set up tables and chairs.  So many countless opportunities exist for serving.  In fact, if someone is unable find any, he should just ask someone on his church staff or another volunteer and they will likely have something.  The position may not be a premier teaching position yet this person can still get involved.  A church could always use a group of evangelistic singles

Perhaps some believers could comment on other ways they know for singles to get involved in the ministry of a local church.  Feel free to comment below.  We at TVN want to see believers love the church so much that they cannot resist involving themselves in its ministries.  While singles should have godly fun outside of the church, perhaps they can fun serving in the church, too.

Truth Claim 101: We Need to Live Like Jesus Is the Only Source of Spiritual Life

In our day many religions and religious leaders claim that spiritual life can be found from many different places.  While many may claim to know the true source, it is still true that spiritual life can be found only in trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:1-4:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life–and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us–what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

In these verses John reveals in whom spiritual life is found: Jesus Christ.  In no other person may life be found.  Perhaps all reading this blog agree with this truth claim – why should we need a reminder?

The fact is that while we may claim to believe this fact, perhaps most us deny it by our lifestyles.  That is, we never share the gospel with unbelievers, never serve the poor, never take time to fellowship with other believers, and never spend time examining on our souls to determine whether or not we actually have spiritual life within ourselves.  If Jesus is the only way, our lives ought to reveal the significance of this truth claim.  Perhaps those reading this article could leave comments suggesting how we can change our lifestyles if we have fallen into denying this truth by our lives.  I know that the more I study about Jesus being the only source from which we can have spiritual life, the more I am personally convicted of my neglect to live like this fact is true.

How Should the Church View Homosexuals?

Going to the local grocery store each week, we see a number of different people.  We see singles out buying groceries, young men and women out buying groceries, and families out buying groceries.  Something we also are seeing more and more together, out and about, are homosexual couples.  Though their sex is the same, they walk, talk, and oftentimes act like any other heterosexual couple.  While being at the grocery store, there is no debate on how one should view someone who practices this lifestyle; however, the question I want to consider in this article is how should the church view them?

Churches have varying approaches as to how they view homosexuals.  Some of them completely ostracize them, such that if someone who practices this lifestyle shows up for a church gathering they would promptly ask them to leave.  Other churches will allow this type of person to attend but would not allow them to join unless they ceased being a homosexual.  Even other so-called churches will open their arms to them, even calling them Christians.  So again, what approach should we take as Bible-believing Evangelical Christians?

Here is my answer:

Churches should view homosexuals as individuals made in the image of God who are living a lifestyle which clearly manifests their complete and furious rebellion against the God of the Bible and thus in need of repentance and belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

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