May 18, 2017

The Transforming Power of the Resurrection

Among the many books that defend Christianity and the Resurrection, few are equal to Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, who was an agnostic before entering college where he set out to write a paper that would discredit those who believe in Jesus Christ.  

His plan was to sift through all the available historical evidence, collect his arguments, and ultimately, he believed he would prove that Jesus of Nazareth never existed. At the very least, he hoped to convince himself and others that if Jesus had lived, his bones were in some forgotten grave in Jerusalem.

But something happened along the way. The overwhelming evidence Josh McDowell studied convinced him that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected. 

One of the most compelling reasons to believe in the Christian faith is this: Following the crucifixion, the demoralized and terrified disciples huddled together in the Upper Room, fearful that they might also be arrested and executed. 

But after Jesus’ Resurrection, they were changed. Their panic and fear turned to joy, and with the power of the Holy Spirit upon them, that small band of followers created a church with over two billion members today.

Josh McDowell’s conversion is the story of change. And that is the story of the Resurrection as well. People are changed. Skeptics become believers, the fearful find confidence, love triumphs over hate, and  those who believe in the promises of Jesus conquer death.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

April 26, 2017

Landscapes from the Creator’s Hand

Years ago, my wife and I traveled to Bangor, Maine to visit Wayne Glick, the former President of Keuka College with whom I worked for many years.
During our visit,  Wayne and his wife, Barbara, drove us to Acadia National Park, one of the most visited parks in the United States .  .  .  and for good reason.

All the beauty that is Maine comes together in this popular park where the mountains meet the rolling surf of the Atlantic. 

As we stood together overlooking this pristine landscape, Wayne said, “This is where God goes to take a vacation.” And I answered, “And the Finger Lakes is where he spends the rest of the year.”

Anyone who lives in Upstate New York surely would agree that when it comes to natural beauty, the Creator has certainly blessed us abundantly. 
Yet some skeptics, some I know well, suggest that the wonders of this earth are merely happenings . . . bundles of molecules that in some mysterious way, just happen to come together.

For me the natural beauty of my home in the Finger Lakes is an ever constant reminder  and proof that This Is My Father’s World.

Blessings from Gpa Westerdahl

January 16, 2017

Forgive Yourself

My latest discovery on the New Books shelf at  the Penn Yan Library is 100 of 
the Worst Ideas in History by Michael Smith and Eric Kasum. In the authors’ own words, their book explores the “priceless, multifaceted jewels of misjudgment.”

One example is the deal John Pemberton made to sell the formula for a dark, sugary syrup that he claimed would cure a host of physical problems. Today, that sweet sticky syrup is the flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, the top-selling product in the history of the world. Pemberton never got a penny from the mega profits.

I wonder if John Pemberton ever forgave himself for denying himself and his family the pleasure of all the “stuff” he might have purchased with the profits of Coca-Cola sales of more than $20 million a day?  

Most people know how important it is to forgive others for our sins against them, but are we prepared to forgive ourselves for our errors, our sins and our “jewels of misjudgment?” 

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul tells us to “forgive one another.” Scholars suggest the Greek root word for “one another” refers not only to others but to ourselves!  

Are you carrying a grudge toward yourself for any reason? If so, you are turning your back on a gift God gave to you through Jesus’ death on the cross. That gift is forgiveness. Isn’t it time you showed yourself some compassion by accepting this most precious gift? 
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  
                                                                                              Colossians 3:13 

December 16, 2016

Who Needs Christ During Christmas

In 2013, Residents and visitors to New York City during the Christmas Holidays were  greeted by a new sign in Times Square displayed by the American Atheists. A digital billboard proclaimed, “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” A hand crosses out the word “Christ” and the word “Nobody” appears. 

Despite the atheists’ proclamation that Christmas is irrelevant and obsolete, over two billion Christians around the world continue to celebrate the greatest event in human history, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Atheist Danielle Muscato once suggested “people don’t care about church and religion any longer. They only care about presents, fun and food.”

While everyone enjoys the tapestry that surrounds the holidays, Christians preserve and cherish the celebration of the birth of the Holy Child of Bethlehem who reaffirms the presence of God in their lives.

How ironic that atheists say Christ isn’t needed at Christmas when it was the Prophet who taught people to love their neighbors ___ even those who deny that God exists. 

May the Prince of Peace continue to bless those who believe in Christmas and those who do not.