mark-cruz-334535-unsplashtasteicecreamblogMy mate stood up, it was time for him to speak at his 21st birthday party. After thanking everyone for coming, he shared how following Jesus was so important to him. He then commended others to check out Jesus with a tangible benefit that is promised in Scripture, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8).

In today’s world, experience counts for a lot. Factual evidence, reasoning or argument for God’s existence have their place but what tangible difference does it make? If we can show the benefit belief in God brings, doesn’t that suggest he may exist after all?

If you’ve just tuned in, we’ve been working through a larger discussion about God’s existence and atheism. We’re trying to help our kids grow a robust faith that can stand the test of time.

The big question we want to answer is:

‘How can we be sure our kids will still believe in God when they grow up?’

I put together a summary of the main arguments for God’s existence called ‘5 Conversations You Must Have to Protect Your Kids from Atheism’. If you haven’t downloaded the free guide, be sure to do so right now!

To give you greater confidence to talk with your kids about each of the ‘5 Conversations’ I’ve been adding an expanded discussion for each one on my Purposeful Parenting blog. So, right now you’re reading a more in-depth post on the 5th Conversation, “Experience”. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to Conversation 4, Scripture next time, see below)

Today, I want you to start thinking about how you can weave into every day conversation and life, practical examples of where we can see support for God’s existence.

I’m going to give you 5 broad areas to think about, but you could easily add more. The first, comes with a personal testimony.

My top 5 Practical Reasons why God Exists

True Love

‘By this all people will know…if you have love for one another’

When I went through a very bad period of doubt, I was studying at university. I wanted to pack my faith in. Perhaps I lacked the courage to do so. But one or two things kept me hanging on to God’s reality. First, every time I looked at my non-Christian friends who I studied with I was shocked by the contrast they made with my Christian friends. I couldn’t help but notice the vast chasm that was between the two groups. My non-Christian friends were selfish, money driven and unhappy. My Christian friends were a startling contrast, people with purpose, generosity of spirit, kindness and ‘attractive’. How could I toss God in when the evidence pointed in the other direction?

Of course, some of us study with very nice people. If you study to become a nurse or a physiotherapist, you’ll probably hang out with a nicer bunch. But go deeper and see what really holds people together, what motivates them. There’s usually some hangover from Christianity lurking in the cupboard at the end of the day.

The other thing that kept me believing, just, was a line from Scripture, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’. If I was smart, I wouldn’t toss God in without being absolutely sure he was a fake.

So, do your homework Stephen and make sure this stuff works!

I clung on by my fingernails to that verse and I decided, if God was real, then if I did what he said, life would make sense. Life would be more intelligible and meaningful and pleasurable with Him than without. I’m happy to say, the more I put the Bible into practice, the more sense things made. I wasn’t going to get off that lightly! But it didn’t matter, His burden wasn’t heavy compared to the weight unbelievers must bear.

Consistency

If our kids see us skip church at the drop of a hat, giving other things priority guess what? They’ll skip it too. You want your kids to stick with God for good? Then it must be demonstrably important to us that we practice being Christian. Of course, this means more than ‘doing church’ it means walking the talk. Practicing godliness, so our kids see that we mean business with the Lord is essential for them to stick with God too. Consistency also reinforces a key quality or character of God, faithfulness. When our kids see faithfulness in action, the benefits are obvious. When we learn God is faithful, we can see the appeal or ‘His attractiveness’. Truth rings true. Does that make sense?

Prayer Answered

When you pray and keep a record of things prayed for, like a prayer journal, you look back and you realise just how much God has answered. Seeing things answered quickly, deeply and even sometimes waiting on an answer for a long time demonstrate God is faithful and we are not just praying to the air, but a God who really cares. You look back and see relationships healed, new friends made, jobs found, character built, all because God answered prayer. I haven’t kept one for a while, but I know one of my kids does and I was amazed to look back on things.

If you don’t do the journal thing, that’s ok, just talk to your kids about stuff you’ve been praying for and identify a few things regularly that you have seen answered.

Also, demonstrating perseverance and patience, are consistent with godly character. Highlighting that, also shows God is at work in building spiritual muscle for us to endure to the end (Jas 1:2-4)

The least is the greatest, so serve instead of seeking to be served

Experiencing the wisdom of God’s pattern for life can be reassuring that you’re on a winner.

Probably our biggest hurdle as human beings is putting others first. Generally, we are pretty selfish. Some might say evolution encourages selfishness, so why do some of us look out for each other. Atheists might suggest it is our desire to protect our tribe and have someone reciprocate the love.

But that doesn’t really cut mustard with what the Bible is saying.

God loved us while we were his enemies. Jesus served us when we crucified him. Jesus’ actions had no benefit to himself, it was all give.

We are encouraged to follow Christ’s model and love and serve others because we want to love God. There is no gain, there is no need for reciprocity. Instead, it is about selfless love.

The result is truly amazing.

If you try exercising an attitude of selfless service, what do you discover?

It’s surprising to find yourself feeling better, lifted, not depleted. When we thought we’d have less and miss out, we end up not missing what we left behind and gaining what we didn’t expect, joy. What we discover is the Lord’s saying, ‘it is better to give than to receive’.

Of course, Jesus is the huge example of this success story, becoming a servant though in nature God he humbled himself to death on a cross and then was exalted to the highest place Philippians 2:5-10

Unusual. Shocking. But that is something evolution, science can’t explain. But there you have it, at the centre of the universe. Love.

Don’t seek revenge, turn the other cheek

Having problems with a sibling? Can’t get along, constant fighting?

I remember a time I fought constantly with one of mine. There was no end in sight and we started getting aggressive. But one thing tuned it down; not retaliating. Letting go of righting wrongs all the time. Accepting you’re not perfect and just keeping out of their way. That turned the tide.

Try two things the Scripture encourages us to do

-          Pray for your kids to follow the Lord’s example and turn the other cheek, let their sibling or school enemy have their little wins. Don’t retaliate. By being kind in return, the Lord says we ‘heap burning coals on their head’. It’s truly hard to stay angry and mean with someone when the other person is being so gracious.

-          Pray for your enemy. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for them. Note the difference that happens when you stop retaliating and start praying for your annoying sister.

Do not covet, trust God that you have what you need

Having trouble coveting what others have? Do your friends always have better homes, better holidays and everything lands in their lap?

Try being thankful to God.

The Scriptures encourages us to be thankful, not covetous. Coveting robs our joy and blinds us from God’s provision in our lives. Look to see how much better you feel and travel through life when you ask God to open your eyes to his provision and generosity. By taking action each day, thanking God for little and big things, sunsets and food, surf and snow we put a lid on anxiety and relinquish our feeble control on life into his hands. We direct our focus out of worry and onto dependency. When we do…life is better.

What’s next? Keep your eyes peeled!

I hope you’ve got some value from this closer look into Conversation No.5, ‘Experience’. I could have chosen other things like enjoying the world around us and its wonders, feeling the joy of expressing our delight in God’s glory, instead of an empty ‘thankfulness’ to mother nature, but I’ve gone for some more ‘gritty’ ideas.

Pretty soon I’m going to turn to our 4th Conversation, ‘the sign we’ve all been looking for’, namely ‘Scripture’. To do so I’ve got some super video content and even some new music being released that I know will truly give your kids confidence in God’s existence.

For now, do tell, how are we doing so far? Has this been helpful? What else would you have liked me to cover?

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Image: Mark Cruz on Unsplash