Introduction: Matthew

(Matt Western) #1

Hi everyone,
I’m a Christian in Australia, raised in the independent Baptist movement, and currently attending a small baptist church. I work in Information Technology for a job (20+ years). I accepted Jesus at a young age ( 4 or 5 perhaps, but exact age unknown but remember making a simple child-like decision to ‘ask Jesus into my heart’), and then ‘made sure of my faith’ at several youth camps at around 15, and again during the years of 18-25 (where you separate from your parents and complete becoming an adult) continued to make the faith my own, rather than my parents faith. I’m in my 40s now, and as each day passes I realize that without the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross, I would be hopelessly lost. I need Him every day.

I did the Introduction course of RZIM because I wanted to be able to share the message of Jesus Christ in a post-Christian culture. I had a fairly in depth discussion with an atheist online about 6 months before I did the course, which was the motivation to learn more. If Christianity can’t stand up to the hard questions that the atheists throw at it, then I wanted to know about it. Honestly, I found the course really heavy going and am still trying to deal with it.

Before I enrolled in the course, I had read most of John Lennox’s books in refuting the new atheists, loved the gentle and disarming way in which John Lennox debated Richard Dawkins in the 2009 debate, and my favorite book is ‘Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism’, and also enjoyed the ‘Determined to Believe’ book, and am looking forward to the new one about the life of Joseph when it is released. .

I have also enjoyed many Ravi Zacharius messages on youtube. I’ve managed to get through ‘Jesus among other gods’ recently, and next on my list is ‘Jesus among secular gods’.

I’m trying to learn to be more like Jesus each day, and learn the compassion quite clearly shown by the RZIM team. I liked how it was clearly shown that we need to ask questions gently, and with a starting point of compassion, of a persons worldview in order to have time to think about it and not just for the sake of argument.

Thank you for this ministry - and to all who are able to answer the really hard questions, but in a loving way.

(SeanO) #2

@matthew.western Welcome to Connect! Do you mostly work with Windows, Linux, MAC or all of them? I’ve gotten to where I prefer Linux because so many custom tools are written for it, though I originally began coding in C# and Visual Studio.

Glad to hear that you have benefited from the great resources available through RZIM. May the Lord Jesus grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of Him as you continue to seek His face.

Blessings in the battle! He is worthy!

(Matt Western) #3

Hi SeanO,
thanks for the welcome. I work in Network Administration in a school currently and support a Windows network, with all the usual things you join to it (printers, wireless access points, phones, laptops, desktops, ipads etc). I’ve got some experience in Linux servers, and support a bunch of Macbooks as well. I did do some coding in the good old days of Visual Basic 6, and have written some PHP/Mysql websites, back when things weren’t responsive design and all the nice modern apps and websites we use nowadays.

IT is just the job that pays the bills, as there is so much more to life that is important to me. (family, church, love of Jesus and trying to do a tiny little bit in my little corner of the world for the Great Commission)…

Thanks again for the welcome.

(SeanO) #4

@matthew.western Yes, web frameworks change so fast nowadays it’s hard to keep up. I hear ya brother on paying the bills - if I had my druthers I’d be out sharing Christ any day rather than coding, but I do enjoy math, science and computers a great deal. So I am very thankful to live in this age of the world! To have Tolkien/Lewis to read and computers to tinker with - both great blessings. Although, part of me wishes I could live back when things were just getting interesting and all of the fundamental questions were still questions. And another part wishes I could live 100 years from now and see the age of quantum computing. I would say I wanted to live until we traveled to other planets, but I have a personal opinion that Christ will return or the world will end before it really comes to that…

(Joshua Spare) #5

Welcome to Connect, @matthew.western! I certainly resonate with all of those resources that you mentioned; I think Determined to Believe is next on my reading list. There certainly is an incredible wealth of information and wisdom to be offered, and I too find it an incredible joy to read a good book.

As you join Connect, I’m curious if you have any pressing questions that you have been pondering recently?

Again, welcome to Connect!

(Carson Weitnauer) #6

Hi @matthew.western,

What a privilege to have you join Connect. I’m grateful for the time you took to share your heart and experience with us.

This line here really spoke to me - " If Christianity can’t stand up to the hard questions that the atheists throw at it, then I wanted to know about it." Same here!! As best I can tell, I want the truth. I’m so grateful that meant meeting Jesus.

Connect is a great place to practice the skills of respectful conversation. It is a wonderful complement to your own studies. And I can’t recommend the Academy courses enough.

I look forward to your contributions.

(Kathleen) #7

Welcome, @matthew.western! I want to echo Carson’s gratitude for the time you’ve taken to share your journey with us. We value your participation here and pray that this community will be a place of encouragement as well as challenge and stretching. :slight_smile:

I’m curious what was so ‘heavy-going’ about the Core Module? Didn’t know if it was the work-load or if some of the units were difficult to process or…?

I also love how you have managed to plow through the two thickest of Prof. Lennox’s books! Well done!

(Matt Western) #8

Hi Kathleen,
thank you for the welcome.

I suppose I would describe ‘heavy-going’ in two ways

  • the course was very compact and although I tried to schedule it during the quietest period of the year, I barely had enough time to get through the material. I really only got as far as Lectures in Week 4 which opened up so many questions that I was in ‘information overload’ and had to stop and process it. I was grateful that at the end I was able to do enough to qualify for Alumni and get access to the videos to go and watch them again and process them further
  • it was also a challenge to my worldview. In my school, and church upbringing, a literal 6 day creation is very important, and we have speakers from Creation ministries which are very good. I read John Lennox’s book 7 days that divide the world, and as always John’s way of writing is very much at my level in ‘every mans language’ and tries to clarify things, not obfuscate with scientific jargon :slight_smile: .

The main points I got from John’s book were

  • yes there are different viewpoints,
  • he showed his views on day-age creationism with humbleness and good logic (humanity was a special creation on day 6, Adam was a literal man who fell, and thus Jesus is the second Adam)
  • but most importantly, and I resonate with this point, that we should stop arguing about it so much, as it possibly has become an intellectual sidetrack to our mission to share Jesus with others.

When I speak to someone who dismisses the Bible as fairy tales, I personally prefer to avoid the creation/evolution debate entirely, as it quickly seems to descend into an intellectual argument. I skip that and go back to basic origin questions on the origin of the universe, and that logically the universe can’t create itself. I really like John Lennox’s simple break down of the logical flaws here:

There are some reasonable arguments that literal 6 day creationists pose against day-age creationism such as

  • God created and declared it ‘very good’, compared to biological evolution / natural selection which could be described as a ‘record of death’
  • Why was there death before the fall of man (is animal death bad?)
  • if God used evolution (‘record of death’) to create, and called it ‘very good’ in Genesis, is he going to use the same method when he makes all things new in Revelation 21 with the new heaven and new earth.
    (i won’t rehash the points, here’s the article:

But in closing, these creation vs evolution questions don’t bother me, I have no need to go searching further in that direction. I’m at peace knowing quite clearly that the eternal God exists and that he created, mankind freely chose in the Garden to rebel and was separated from God and the natural evil/moral evil in the world is all part of the curse (and our own brokenness), Jesus is God in the flesh, lived a sinless life, and died in our place, and offers Grace to all who believe, Forgiveness, and The Way to be right with God and be restored to a relationship with Him. All I can say is ‘amazing Love!!!’.

I like the verses in Hebrews 11:1-2 ‘Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith’, and making sure I’m following Him, and not following too closely another individual person (however expert or a giant of the faith) because eventually I’ll be disappointed - only Jesus is perfect!!.

Wow this is a long post. Sorry it’s a bit wordy. :slight_smile: