Sunday, October 07, 2007
I know. That comes as a surprise to some people. It borders on blasphemy to still others. It is, however, unarguably true. This is a fact that we have seen time and time again in the last year or so.
Start with Mark Folley, Republican Representative who got caught sending naughty emails to MALE pages. Then we have old Senator Craig who was "livin' the life", looking for a quick hookup in a public men's room. While , contrary to popular belief, most Christians don't hate homosexuals, we do condemn the act of homosexuality. Here we have two homosexual Congressman who got in trouble not because of what they were doing but because they got caught. Other Republicans knew what they were doing but kept it hush-hush. Not really a Christian sort of thing, to hide some one's sins...or at least it shouldn't be.
Now, we have dear President Bush telling the world that Muslims and Christians pray to the same god. He's a Christian remember. A follower of Christ. That's part of what made him a good President to a lot of evangelicals. Problem is, I'm not sure what Christ he is following. See, Jesus is the ONLY Son of God. He claimed to be "the way, the truth, the life." If he is, as Christians believe, then Muhammad can't be right 600 years later when he says Jesus was a prophet, not the Son of God, and did no redemptive work. The other alternative is that Muhammad was right, and we've been following a nutjob (at best) or a liar (at worst) for the last 2000 years.
There's really no middle ground. Either Jesus was/is the great I AM or he wasn't. Two contradictory statements can NOT both be true. Jesus and his disciples state uncategorically that he was God and claimed to be the ONLY way to Heaven. Muhammad wrote that his own teachings were from God and the ONLY way into Heaven. Only one can be true.
I could go write about the fact that we have at least four eyewitness accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus and a fifth eyewitness account of seeing the RISEN Christ. I could talk about the fact that when God sent messages and messengers throughout the history of Israel, they were ALWAYS accompanied by the miraculous. It was God's way of authenticating the message, sort of like the way kings used to seal their letters with a bit of wax and their emblem pressed into it. I could tell you how even the Jews admit Jesus did miracles, calling him "a magician who tried to lead Israel astray."
I could also tell you that the only eyewitness account of Muhammad meeting the angel and copying down the message is.....Muhammad. There were no miracles backing up Muhammad's testimony, in fact he even writes an explaination for the lack of the miraculous in the Koran. I forget exactly what it was but it amounted to "because I don't feel like it."
I could tell you that both religions of peace have always spread best by the sword. Christianity spreads best when it is under the sword. To confound the wise, the more you persecute the faithful the more numerous and stronger they become. We've tried it the other way around and it doesn't work well. Islam, has always been its most virile while wielding the sword. The great Muslim caliphate that stretched to Spain was almost entirely conquered nations and forced conversions...or the "not Muslim" tax.
To be honest, there is a group of evangelicals here in America that would like to see Christianity the legally enforced religion of the country, just as there are Muslims who want us all under Sharia law. Maybe that's where the President got confused.
Or maybe, he never really knew him in whom he had believed.
You can't have it both ways. It's either Jesus or Allah. Which one do you choose, Mr. President?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I recently visited GodTube; the Christian version of YouTube. Here, people from all over the world get a chance to post videos ranging from fun to informative to boring to insulting. The “Are You Ready?” video in my previous post is in the fun/informative category. This is in the insulting category. It's a ripoff of the Mac/PC commercials though this one pits the stuffy, suit wearing and incompetent Christian versus the hip and savvy “Christ Follower”. As a friend of mine said after watching it; just what the Church need, more division.
While I agree, as you know, that judging someone who doesn't wear a suit to church as less that saved is extremely wrong. Is it any less wrong to judge someone who DOES wear a suit as less Christian? Exactly where is the problem with putting bumper stickers on your car? The arrogance and condescension in these videos is more than annoying.
For the record, “Christian” MEANS “Christ Follower”. Get over yourselves. Are you, being an eye, more important or better that the guy in a suit, who is an ear? NO!! We are all ONE BODY and to condescend to another believer because he doesn't fit your mold, even if it is the slacker mold, is quite simply SIN. Don't believe me? Read Paul and his letter to the Corinthians.
This video is not an example of “Come, there is a better way.”. It is, however, a perfect example of “Hey, I'm better than you! Be like me!”
We, as the Church, can't keep our kids, heck our SELVES from committing things clearly labeled as SIN. Sexual Immorality? Check. Gossip? Check. Backbiting? Check. Theft? Yep. Living a life completely indistinguishable from those who are not saved? Oh, yeah baby. But we sure can get our panties in a bunch about whether you look or act like I do.
Straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Then there are other times that I see the Remnant.
Today, interestingly enough, fell into BOTH categories. I went to the early service today because I was up and ready. It had been awhile since I had been there, what with this being my busy time at work and all. One of the first things I notice is that the bulletin has no information in it other than the alter workers meeting time and three ads for things the place is shilling. Money changers in the Temple is a real sore spot for me, so this wasn't a good start.
Then I notice that they had removed the Bible verse that had adorned one wall and replaced it with some bland, but visually attractive "mission statement" of sorts. Why wasn't the Word of God good enough? Two strikes and the Praise and Worship hadn't even started yet.
There was a little worship, but even less praise. There were at least three songs about how "we" long to praise God. Yep, we really want to praise you. Can't wait to praise you. Oh yeah, listen to us wanting to praise you. I was ready to suffer through the service and get out.
And then the couple came in. No more than 18 but the guy was at least 16. She rubbed on him so much that I almost leaned forward to tell her to get a cat...or a room. She really did come just short of giving him a hand job then and there. Why would you even bother coming to church for that? The way they leaned into each other and such was too intimate for people who hadn't already been MUCH more intimate; you married folks know what I mean.
Then, old Pastor Troy preached on the Second Coming. He has a really annoying style but he does have a LOT of insight so I can usually deal with his pleading for our attention. This week he was really upset that people weren't standing on their chairs cheering about the eminent return of Christ. Then he covered the Blasphemy Project or whatever its actually called. To get a free copy of an atheist movie all you have to do is look into a camera and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Apparently, 21,000 people have already done this. The church responded like you'd expect them too...stunned silence at best.
This really fired him off. Don't we care that these kids have doomed themselves to Hell for eternity? Yes, but there's not much we can do for them NOW. That could be your kid, or my kid, there doing that. Probably not if we're actually LIVING what we say we believe. You think you can drink whatever you want, look at what you want and it has no consequences...we need to get right with God...
And here was where I really wanted to have my say. :) Here this man is railing against having a beer when I've got two of his teens nearly making out in front of me instead of listening to the sermon. We get so caught up in this periphial crap that we turn a blind eye to SIN, real and actual. The reason why kids raised in church going homes were denying the existence (or worse) of the Holy Spirit had little to do with anyone having a beer or even watching porn. It did, and does, and always has, have to do with the fact that we say we believe in "Love thy neighbor" and then spit hateful gossip about him because he watched Desperate Housewives.
We lie, we cheat, we steal, we have affairs...all REAL sins, but bemoan the condition of somebody's soul because they wore jewelry to church, or wore pants or didn't wear a suit or has long hair or any number of pet doctrines that have only the scarcest Biblical foundation.
Pastor Troy then turned his back on us and threw himself down at the altar. I can't fault a guy for being so passionate about the state of souls ( and make no mistake, he is PASSIONATE about seeing people saved) that he feels the need to prostrate himself before God right then and there. I'll pray for that!! Were that more Elders and Pastors would do such things.
Time came for the second service and most of us were still there praying in some manner or form. There were people waiting out in the foyer, who were now let in. Church prayer is a great thing. Prayer is a great thing. Where two or three are gathered and all that.
Then I saw HER. She was a teenager, wearing a dress and some little jacket or something. What got my attention was not what she was wearing but what she did. She came in and looked around at the groups at the altar and those at their seats. She saw that we were praying...and she RAN to it. She dropped her Bible off in a chair and was praying by the time she hit the altar. She didn't ask why. She didn't stand and wait for directions. She just knew that prayer was needed and dove right in. I started crying...I'm crying as I type. THAT is what will keep our kids and other's from going to hell. That passion, that love, that realness.
And that's why I go to Kingsway Fellowship. There are people there who know Him in whom they have believed. It is also why I still believe revival is possible in the US. It is what I hope to be.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2007
That's the bumper sticker I saw recently. Bumper stickers bug me anyway as the almost always reflect a deep lack of understanding of a subject or a trite one liner. This one was no exception.
One could make an argument that the sticker was commenting on ALL religions. It would be a false argument, though. By using the word church, we come directly to the idea of keeping Christianity away from government. In a way, I agree. The "church" can't even agree on things like baptism and sex outside of marriage and they get VERY angry and bitter over it. Do I want the "us four and no more" mentality with the full force of law behind it? Under no circumstances. That is one of the major dangers of "official" religions. Constantine tried it and we got the Catholic Church...pieces of pagan religions thrown in with Christian theology.
The idea here is distinctly anti-religion or, as I said, anti-Christian. The people who sport these sort of bumpoer stickers don't want to be told that you have to be a believer to be in office, and rightly so. They are, however, more than willing to be able to tell you or I that we are unable to serve because we ARE a believer. It also shows a profound lack of knowledge.
First of all, take a step back, Hippie, and look at the world. Big, green and blue, and mostly impoverished and/or oppressed. Most of the world falls under the control of people espousing religions OTHER than the much- feared Christianity. Hinduism, Islam and Atheist Communism rule over at least half of the world's population. Pagan religions and other minor beliefs rule over much of Africa and Asia that isn't Communist. One would be hard pressed to successfully argue that China, India, North Korea, Africa, or any of the Islamic countries are warm and fuzzy places to live.
The Chinese oppress ALL religions, and political dissent. They will shoot you in the head and then bill your family for the bullet. India has had mass removals of Christians and Muslims. This deosn't even touch the fact of the horrid, mind boggling poverty in that country. Burhma is targeting Christians. Try being an atheist in one of the sand box Islamic countries. Even in Post Christian Europe the idea of free speech is being increasingly squashed or dominated by the Muslim immigrants.
The simple fact is that the very religion that these people are railing against is the very reason they have the RIGHT to do so. For the last 2000 years, those nations who consider themselves "Chirstian" nations are the ones who have driven the progress of the human race. Air Conditioners? Yep. Cars. Yep. Flight? Yep. Microwaves, free speech, the printing press, the end of slavery (except in Muslim countries), private property, the single most economically successful country in the history of the world? Yep. Allthese things and more spring from Christianity. It may not be a direct source, but it was the soil in which these things took root and grew. Things which are noticably lacking in those places, like modern day Europe or China, where the more enlightened idea of atheism holds sway.
So, where would you, dear Atheist, prefer to live? Or, as the case may be depending on the country, die?
Friday, February 02, 2007
It seems there are those in the Snowy North that want allegiance from the church. The idea is that any religious organization that does not adhere to what the State considers "good" should have their tax-exempt status revoked. It seems to be aimed at the Roman Catholic church, and "orthodoxy" in all Abrahamic religions in general. The simple truth of the matter is that the cowards on the Left will, at best wag their fingers at Islam for treating women like cattle but will go out of their way to shut down Catholic churches for not ordaining women clergy. Why? Because Father Bob isn't likely to walk into city hall with a bomb strapped to his chest or to behead a member of parliament. Muslims may, as the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the "cartoon riots" of last year demonstrate.
If this does happen, and your chruch decides to acquiesce to the government...run. I don't care what reason they give or how reasonable it sounds. They may say they are just submitting to the authorities over them like the Bible commands, or rendering unto Caesar, or how ordaining women or homosexuals or dogs is the loving thing to do...they will be lying!!! If your church submits, flee for the hills, knock the sand off your sandals and don't look back.
"A man cannot serve two masters (God and money) else he love the one and hate the other." (Matthew 6:24 KJV, paraphrased)
Either they will relinquish their tax-exempt status and serve God or they will chase after mammon, forsaking God's heritage.
"Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve God."( Joshua 24:15 ish, KJV, paraphrased)
Monday, January 22, 2007
I've been mulling this one over for quite a while. Where do we, those of us who are Christians, draw the line between holiness and legalism?
Last fall I attended fall convention at the bible college/school I went to in the early 90's. Their conventions are always interesting; four days of good preaching, seeing old friends and making some new ones. This one was no exception, I am glad I went.
The message one night centered around the idea that when some one comes back to the Lord, or just comes to the Lord, that we seem to feel the need to put extra requirements on their repentance. Sure, Bob said he was sorry and asked for forgiveness and has turned his back on his old sin, but we want more. Bob needs to work scrubbing toilets for awhile. Or sit in the back of the sanctuary during services or some other payment for his debt or "proof" of his repentance. It was a good sermon and touched a nerve with me on several levels.
Immediately after the service, I went with the crowd for the offered refreshments and to see who I could see. I ran into a very attractive young woman who I knew from my time living in the area. We started talking, catching up on friends that one of us had heard from and the other hadn't. I told her that a number of people we knew could be found on MySpace. She gave me "that" look; the disapproving one that some Christians seem to get.
"Yeah, I know.", I told her, "But there are some good committed Christians on there too."
I understood the initial response. Anybody who has browsed through MySpace understands. There are a lot of girls in skimpy clothing taking pictures of themselves in the bathroom mirror..and guys too. Interspersed in between these are people who are just using it to keep up with their friends, have a blog or just have some space of their own on the web. I found my chruch from a blog on MySpace, but that's a whole other story. It was her next comment that floored me.
"I don't think good Christians should be on MySpace."
I felt like asking why. There is smut on TV, yet very few would say that there shouldn't be Christians on TV. Radio is every bit as raunchy as MySpace, but if you shut down the local Christian radio station the out cry would be tremendous. People use cell phones to surf for porn, so no Christian should have one. Books and magazines contain filth but I hear no one calling for an end to Christian writing. Those that do preach such things are generally, and rightfully, considered nuts.
I wanted to ask her if she had been paying attention during the service. After listening to and probably "amening" the sermon about not putting extra requirements on repentance/salvation, she could sit there and in all earnestness, say that a person's salvation should be judged by their participation on MySpace. Why? Because she had taken the idea of holiness and crossed it over into legalism.
Is God, through his Holy Spirit, telling you not to go on MySpace? That is holiness. Questioning my walk with Jesus because I do go on MySpace...that's legalism. Don't drink because you feel God doesn't want you to? Holiness. Criticize Joe because he has wine with dinner or a beer every so often with the guys? Legalism. Dress up in a suit and tie for every service because you want to please God? Holiness. Won't go to church unless you're dressed up or you look down at somebody who isn't dressed up? Legalism.
The Bible speaks very clearly that God will write His law on our hearts. He is looking for people who will follow his voice, follow his law, not because they HAVE to but because they WANT to. When we look down on people who aren't dressing like we think they should, are listening to music we don't like, go places we don't feel free to go to, we are making a new law. The church places an extra burden on the believer. Sure, you believed and repented, but that's not enough. Never touch alcohol again. Don't listen to that sort of music. Don't go to eat at a bar. Don't associate with THOSE people. If you do these things, you must not be right with God, poor soul.
In the end, I think holiness is like a back brace. It supports you. It keeps you from injury. It helps you do more work. Holiness we do willingly out of love for the Lord.
Legalism is harder to define. It's like the back brace put on too tight; you can't breathe, it causes pain and may eventually be dangerous. But it is the same back brace, just used incorrectly.
Finally, any time we judge someone, or make them feel less accepted, because they are not walking the walk like we are or think they should, THAT's legalism. It's too bad to, because she really is beautiful.