Sunday, September 13, 2009

Refuge?

As Christians (or the church as we're sometimes thought of) we're suppose to be a group for those looking for refuge. You know, a place where those in need come to find help. We're suppose to care about others before ourselves right? There's no greater way to show your love and care for someone in need than to give of yourself to them. Jesus said we should follow His example and love one another as He loved us: sacrificially and unconditionally.

I recently found that a friend of mine experienced the opposite in her hour of need. I don't know all the details. But then again, I don't need to know them. What I do know is that she found no refuge when she needed it. She found only that those she thought would walk with her were too busy to stop and listen and realize that she was hurting and in need of their friendship and compassion.

This is not good. If we can't slow down enough to care and be the refuge for those we say we love, then what good are we to God or anyone else?

I had my eyes opened anew because of this. I have been driven down new paths of thoughts concerning the church and how we treat each other and whether or not we really care about each other or about God lately. (The two are extremely closely related - see Mt. 25:35) This instance is just the latest in a long line. I have some folks in my life that have a mantra: "Love God. Love Others. Anything we involve ourselves in other than those two things is a distraction." I am beginning to see some wisdom in those words.

What if my friend's friends had operated under those two principles? Maybe she would know a little more of the intimacy of the love of Christ. But instead, I sense she has lost a little of her faith... maybe not in Christ... but certainly in His body - us, the church.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

American Christianity

Ahem... La La La La... Mi Mi Mi Mi... okay I'm ready...

I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except by me... and if he's a republican... and only if he's pro-life... oh wait! No gays either. They're an abomination. And they must be American patriots. No sissy pacifists either! Also, he better have voted for "W" and he'd best not have voted for that heathen Obama! And low taxes! he's gotta believe in low taxes! Also, if you're a woman, you need to know your place if you want in to my kingdom - no woman leaders allowed in my kingdom! My peep Paul said it straight and he meant it! And you must be pro-israel. Screw the muslims! They are eeeeviiiilllll!!! You help a muslim, forget it. You're not getting in. No catholics either. They follow some guy in a big white shiny hat. They're idolaters. They ain't allowed!

Hey God... did I miss anyone. You think them Americans will be happy? What was that? Socialists? Oh! Yeah! Socialists! No socialists either people.

And no one who takes this post seriously.

Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Conversation with My Daughter

While I was walking tonight, I had an almost hour long texting conversation with my daughter. She is in Wyoming (though texting from Salt Lake City where she is visiting) and I am in Texas. She is coming back to Texas and the heat in a few days though and we are excited!

I thought there was something special about the convo, though I am not sure what. Our conversation consisted of the mundane, the seriously spiritual, and some memories all wrapped up in a little humor. I don't know... Maybe it was just that we were sharing our lives with each other without the weight of the baggage that has been plaguing our relationship the last few years. Anyways, send me your thoughts after you read it...

Note: I kept the bad grammar and punctuation as it appeared to preserve the essence of the brevity of texting. We still did some good communicatin' though!


Dad: What doin?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Huh?
Dad: Well?
Dad: ...

[Later]

Daughter: Haha I was in barnes and noble reading a book:)
Daughter: I left my phone in the truck! Sorry!!!
Dad: No prob
Dad: I'm walking at the track
Daughter: Fun fun! I want to go!
Dad: U can when you get back
Daughter: Awesome! How hot is it?
Dad: Not hot its 9pm here
Daughter: Did it get pretty hot today though?
Dad: Yes 97
Dad: Tomorrow and sun same
Daughter: Wow it's pretty hot here in salt lake it was 89 i think
Dad: Thats not hot. Its 81 here now
Daughter: idk how I'm gonna survive when I get there lol
Dad: You'll adjust
Daughter: Yup! So how are you? Trudy? The boys?
Dad: Fine. Same O
Dad: Trudys not at UPS anymore so she's happy
Daughter: We went to famous daves for dinner and I am stuffed! And I bet she's happy! Back to regular sleep schedule after what? 4 years or so?
Dad: 6 i think
Daughter: Wow longer than I thought. She was working there when I was in middle school?
Dad: yes
Dad: Time flies
Dad: Make it count for somethin
Daughter: Well I have a bad memory! Time does fly by! Coming to slat lake reminded me of all the crazy traffic! I'll have to adjust to that too
Dad: Yep
Daughter: That's what I plan to do! Life is only so long
Dad: Course eternity is just that: eternal
Daughter: True. I'm scared to die though
Dad: Most r. Whats your reason?
Daughter: idk like sometimes I;m just sitting there thinking and reality smacks me upside the head and it hits me, were only on this earth so long. And I have no idea what its going to be like when I die. I just know I won't be walking this earth anymore, the thought just freaks me out. Then I stop thinking about it because it scares me so much.
Dad: Yeah. Know that. Knowing Christ helps me.
Daughter: I think if I get involved in church and really stick with it, praying and whatnot, I won't be as scared.
Dad: Knowing Christ is more about being with him than doing anything.
Dad: Most make it into a set of rules to be performed in front of a mean ruler.
Dad: Not so.
Dad: Spend time with him just having a conversation
Dad: Bible is simply the story of him making a way for us to be able to talk and spend time with him
Dad: Church is suppose to b a place for encouragement from fellow travelers
Dad: Sadly some don't understand that
Dad: Charlie does tho
Daughter: I know I'll understand all of that someday. It can't happen overnight.
Dad: Nope. Takes time spent with the savior
Daughter: Definitely. You are full of wisdom!
Dad: Same as it takes time to get to know anyone else
Daughter: But you can never know everything about anyone. There's not enough time.
Dad: 43 years of trial and error tends to wise ya up!
Daughter: Whoa!!!! Last time I remembered, you were like 40. Time needs to stop flying, seriously.
Dad: Ur right. U never fully understand God who is infinite. Think if ants tried to understand humans.
Dad: Same with us and god
Daughter: That's impossible. Not because they're ants, just cuz were huge and they're tiny.
Dad: BUT god makes us a way thru christ for us to commune with him
Dad: listening to iron maiden. Up the irons!
Dad: Heavy metal...
Dad: Was listening to old big band music earlier
Dad: different huh?
Daughter: I've never listened to them before. I'm watching school of rock lol
Daughter: I like heavy metal...you should look up seasons after on myspace
Dad: Look up iron maiden aces high
Dad: On itunes on ur phone
Daughter: Mmkay
Dad: Also download pandora app for free music streamed. U can choose a singer and it will play them and simgers from same genre
Daughter: I have pandora and slacker radio
Dad: Never heard of slacker. Punch iron maiden on pandora
Daughter: I like that song aces high and slacker is like pandora but you can search an exact song and it will pop up and play, then after that, it will play similar songs like pandora
Dad: Oh. I will have to check it out.
Daughter: Mmkay it's an app, its free
Dad: Downloading it now
Daughter: Awesome! You might like it, I like it better than pandora, but opinions differ.
Dad: Goin to ihop later for midnight dessert
Dad: Yum
Daughter: Haha with the fam?
Dad: Yep
Dad: We'll need to go when ur back
Daughter: Fun fun!:) I don't even want to think about food right now
Daughter: And yes we will! I remember when me you and Marissah would go to whataburger like at 2 in the morning
Dad: Yep. Boys and i have done that 2
Dad: We went and 8 a full dinner 1 time. Felt blech! afterwards
Daughter: Lol I like their breakfast burritos yummm
Daughter: That tend to happen in the early morning idk why
Dad: This was like 1 am. I was up til 4 feelin blech
Dad: Done walkin. Gettin in the shower. Gnight
Daughter: I would be too!
Daughter: Goodnight:)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Authentic Christian Nation.

"The ascended christ reigns over the church and all societies but in different ways. In truth, the only "Christian nation" is the body of Christ as it is dispersed throughout all peoples and in all times. Confusion on this point has resulted in far-reaching consequences."

Read more here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happiness.

I think most times, God is busily stripping us of the idols we have clothed ourselves in. I don't think He cares much about what we want that we think will make us happy. There are many more imminent issues concerning our lives in relation to the Kingdom of God than our pipe dreams of wealth, health and happiness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm Not Here Much, but I am I on Facebook All the Time.

I like Facebook. So therefore you'll find me commenting and dialoguing there more than just writing a static piece here. So if you have a Facebook account, "Friend" me and let me know you found me here and I will accept you as a friend even if I don't know you. If you have no idea what "friending" is, don't be too alarmed. Go to facebook.com and open an account and then look me up.

You can also click the facebook badge over there on the right side of this page.

I will still write from time to time here - maybe once every other month or so. Maybe more, maybe less. So if you care to keep up with me, facebook is the place. You can email me as well. My address is over there to the right.

-Alan

P.S. I am also on Twitter @apcreative.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are We Really Known By It?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."


“You must rail against an immoral society. By this all men will know that you are my disciples.”

“You must be a part of the “right” political party. By this all men will know you are my disciples.”

“You must point out others’ sins. By this all men will now you are my disciples.”

“You must agree with me on all doctrinal issues – especially those pesky controversial ones. By this all men will know you are my disciples.

“You must believe the Bible is inerrant. By this all men will know you are my disciples.”

Some of those are actually good things. I wonder why Jesus didn’t say any of those instead of saying we would be known by our love for one another? You’d think He did say many of them by what we focus on sometimes.

We are intent on becoming the world’s moral and spiritual police. We want to be the Holy Spirit in everyone’s lives. We want to tell others how to vote, what to believe and how to live their lives. We are the first to point out doctrinal errors in their belief systems and we LIKE it! We argue about everything under the sun when it comes to doing life together in church. We enjoy power struggles and beating up on one another verbally (and in a few cases, physically) when they get in our way. We scheme against and seek to discredit and destroy one another to get or keep control. We are not doing the things we need to be doing so that people will know we are Christ’s. We are not loving one another. We are trying to control each other instead. This should not be. If it's true in your life, stop. Repent. Love.

Now consider these words of Christ:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?


This passage talks of easy love versus real love. It's easy to love those we already care about. It's easy to love those who we know are fellow believers - those who are safe. We can do it and so can unbelievers according to this passage.

Yet this verse talks of loving those who hate us – those that are diametrically opposed to us. And if we are really honest, we’ll admit that we hate them back just as much. Our words and actions show this more often than not. Oh, we can talk all day long about how we don't hate the sinner, just the sin he's committing. But come on - that's a cop out. It's an easy out. It's a way to justify our continued hatred towards those we feel are damaging us, our society and dishonoring our Lord. It's no wonder we are hated. We are spending way too much time being outraged and too little time loving.

So what is our correct response? Well, sin is sin. We should be heartbroken over it in our lives and in the lives of those we see it ruining. And yes, we should be outraged and righteously angry over it. We know the damage it will do if left unchecked. But we should be on our knees for them pleading God’s mercy and conviction upon their lives. We should be begging Him to change them, not on our bullhorns screaming in their faces. We should never sin in our anger… ever. We are held to a higher standard. We are to love those who hate and persecute us.

We also need to repent for our attitude towards those we have hated. It is never right to hate anyone. I can’t think of a single passage in the Bible where God says it’s okay to hate anyone. And once we repent, we then need to find ways to love them and show them the love of our Father. God loved us and drew us to Him while we hated Him. What makes us think we can do any different?

Further, note that it says we are to love our enemies, "that we may be sons of our Father in heaven." Boy that puts some pressure on us. Sound familiar? Our love for our enemies confirms that God is our Father. So if we don’t love our enemies, then what does that prove about us?

So why these two passages together?

Because they deal with how God wants us to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, and how we are to treat our enemies – meaning those that are lost. That pretty much covers the bases. If we love both groups of people, we have it covered. Now how cool would it be to put this kind of love into practice? Somehow I think that if we indeed loved the way God wants us to, we could just stand back and watch God use our obedience to change lives for eternity. After all, what is more important than that?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Never Let Go... For Eternity.

A few posts ago, I told the story of David Lipscomb, a friend of Ronne's. He was dying of pancreatic cancer. I posted a video of a song that spoke to me about him and the fact that once God has a hold of us, He never let's go.

Well... David is now in his Lord's arms and Jesus will indeed never let him go.

Please be praying for his family and friends as the celebrate his life and grieve together.

A Lesson in Heresy 101

I don't know much about Miguel De La Torre, but this article tells me a couple of things:

1. He gives lip service to Jesus' divinity and humanity in this article, but doesn't really believe Jesus is divine because a divine Jesus is a sinless Jesus and Dr. De La Torre believes He sinned in the passage of scripture he is basing his argument on.

2. I haven't seen such a blatant use of a straw horse argument in a long time.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Control.

I have spent the last few days with an under current of simmering anger. I have learned in the last year or so to keep it under control - anger has always been a huge issue with me for various reasons - but I have literally been set free from that in the last year. Doesn't mean I have been necessarily perfect, but being set free creates peace in your life and I can truly say it has done this for me.

I have also learned to explore the "why" of simmering anger. There is usually something I can learn about myself when I can gather the courage to look into my soul where anger resides. And I usually can, with the revelation of knowledge about the "why", evict it from my soul, replacing it with peace and satisfaction.

What I found during this excursion to my soul was a control issue. I had lost control of a situation - or had perceived I lost control and became angry about it under the surface. I recently assumed a leadership role with an organization - something I always hesitantly do - I don't think of myself a good leader - and quite frankly, this bothers me. It probably bothers me because society (church included) puts great value on leaders. They are enshrined to the pedestal of highest regard. And of course, I, selfishly, want to be on that pedestal. I want to be valued and highly regarded.

In my situation, I had a person come in and take over. He took over not because he wanted the glory or recognition, but because he saw a need I was not fulfilling. And that's true - I am not the best person to fulfill the role he is fulfilling. And, even with all of my negative feelings of anger, I can see that his contribution is going to really help our organization - he is perfect for the role. But that means me giving up control and I don't like that.

I have to tell you that after I went through all the different things that I rejected as the source of my anger - things like my wife being gone all weekend, like my kids not listening to me, like the house being trashed and I have to clean it - things that were only annoying me because I was already angry. When I realized that my anger entered the minute I lost control of the organization, I immediately tried to deny it to myself. But you can only do that so long - and I had to come to the conclusion that I was mad about losing control. I also had to come to the conclusion that it is good for the organization and my own soul that I lost some of the control. Both will benefit.

No one likes to lose control. you know why I know this? Because when someone loses control, they usually "lose it" and will do anything to regain it - and usually to the destruction of those around them. I have seen it played out many times in every kind of venue you and I can think of. It is never a pretty situation.

But, not surprisingly, this is not God's will for us. His will involves things like dying to self, loving others before ourselves, submitting to His will and acting with careful wisdom and discernment in the situations we face in our day-to-day lives. It calls for setting aside anger, malice, pride, arrogance, crass language, insults, greed - the things that do not produce the kind of Christian He wants us to be. They are to be replace by the fruit of the Spirit:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. -Galatians 5:22-25

Everyone who has been a Christian for any amount of time have heard of the fruit of the Spirit. But I need to actually put them into action instead of dismissing them as cliché with a polite nod in agreement of their necessity. That's what I have done - at least in this situation anyways.

I can honestly say that once I realized the predicament I had put myself in with my misplaced anger, I dealt with it in honesty and transparency before God and my own conscience and it evaporated. Now I fully expect it to tweak me now and then - and actually, I will be grateful for the tweaks. I need them. They are God's way of reminding me there is more at work in my life and those lives around me than my own wants and desires.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You Never Let Go

We were singing a song in church tonight that reminded me of Ronne's friend. It's called "You Never Let Go."

Her friend, David Lipscomb, is someone I don't know, but he is suffering and has been on my mind since Ronne posted about him on her facebook. He is suffering through a reoccurrence of pancreatic cancer that has also spread into his liver. The thing is, not only did this song remind me of him, but as I listened to the message tonight about being mad at God, he came back to my mind. I wondered if David was mad at God for not healing him - for allowing this suffering in his life at all. I am sure he has probably asked the big "why" question - we all do. But as I read Ronne's note on facebook about David's situation, something jumped out at me about him. She says he wants more than anything to see Jesus' fame spread because of his story. How incomprehensible to me this is! Of course, the fact that this is incomprehensible to me says a few things about where my faith is at, but that is for another posting.

I don't understand the "why" in situations like this. And to be honest, it breaks my heart and really tests the veracity of my faith when I consider the impact of suffering that happens in this world. Yes, I know that Jesus warned us that we would suffer. But why? I mean really, WHY?

To bring the question a little closer to my own experience: Why does he allow little girls to be violated by their fathers repeatedly? This is a question I have had to consider and answer in my family with, "I don't know." It's a helpless feeling to know that I have a supposedly loving and merciful God, but can't understand nor answer why this loving and merciful God would allow this to happen. I begin to consider that this God whom I love may not be so trustworthy after all. But then I also find myself in Peter's place when the Lord asked him if he too wanted to desert Jesus. He said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" In other words, who else can we turn to? In reality, we have nowhere else to go. If we do, I haven't found that person.

I wish I could say that when I realize this, I run back into God's arms, but I don't. I kinda just stand there and stare (figuratively speaking of course) into God's eyes, knowing I have nowhere else to go. I do believe He is trustworthy. And that trustworthiness comes from His grace, forgiveness and mercy in my own life throughout the last 12 years or so of being His disciple. And plus, remembering the point of the song: He never lets go. I can't get away from Him and deep down, no matter the doubts, I don't really want to either. So I continue to believe, sometimes grudgingly, but I believe.

David, Ronne's friend, is an example to follow for me. The rubber has hit the road so-to-speak in his life in a hard way. But God seems to be drawing him closer to Him. And he is trusting Him and using his suffering to make Jesus known.

I plan pray for him and help them financially. I pray you would consider praying and helping him and his family as well. Below is the note from Ronne where you will find the rest of his story (as written by Geoff Moore) and ways to encourage and help them.


Friends,

As many of you know, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working alongside David Lipscomb for the past ten years. We have shared many victories and challenges together as we focused our efforts on providing management and mentorship to artists and ministries. David has been has been a dear friend and a great source of encouragement to me. He and his precious wife Robi now allow me to do the same for them.

I reflect back on this time a year ago, when David received the news that he had pancreatic cancer. The journey through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation was a long and difficult one. Throughout this journey, I have had the hard blessing of walking with my dear friend. I have seen first-hand the pain and suffering, but much more than that, the Herculean courage that he has demonstrated. David Lipscomb’s faith is the real deal. In those hard, quiet moments when, to be perfectly honest, doubt has washed over me, he has never, ever wavered. He may say otherwise, but I am an eyewitness.

A few weeks ago, the doctors confirmed David’s cancer had returned, and was present not only in his pancreas, but his liver as well. We would ask you to pray specifically that God would heal David in a way that would let him remain here with us. However, if God chooses a different road for David to walk, we ask that you would pray for peace and courage for the Lipscomb's. David wants most of all for Jesus’ fame to spread from his story.

I think most of us might have a hunch about the cost of fighting a disease like cancer. In fact, some of you have had first-hand experience. While I knew the treatments were expensive, I honestly had no idea just how financially overwhelming the illness could be. Though David has health insurance and has continued to work to provide for his family, living with this illness for over a year has devastated them financially. Co-payments alone for the doctors’ visits, treatments and procedures have run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of medications is staggering. The Lipscomb's made the difficult decision to sell their home, and Robi is now working two different jobs in an effort to make ends meet. Unfortunately, David is now at a point where he will no longer be able to work while he battle's the cancer.

These are wonderful people who have given so much to so many of us. I ask you now to step in and give back. A special website allows you to give a financial gift to the Lipscomb's and share your personal messages of hope and encouragement. And there is good information about pancreatic cancer. It’s my prayer that we can all work together to help eliminate the medical debt they are carrying and provide financial support so that Robi can focus her energies to caring for her husband and best friend.

Most of all, by ministering to them financially, you help bring peace to an area that I know is a very real concern for David - that his family will not be provided for while he wages this personal war.

I would ask you to forward this email and link to anyone you feel would reach out to the Lipscomb family. I know many may receive it multiple times from different sources. I hope you will only see it as a confirmation that people are responding to this need.

Please give whatever you can, as soon as you can.

On behalf of these dear friends, thank you.

Geoff Moore
http://www.carefordavid.com/


Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Great Story.

I will let this story speak for itself. It's worth the time to read and watch the video.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Use of Influence

I was thinking... it is popular for Christian leaders and pastors to try to parlay the influence of a person into building the Kingdom. You know... someone has power, influence, money - he/she is looked upon as a source from which the church or maybe a Christian organization can pull something they want or need.

For instance, consider Jason Castro and Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas (which by the way, is my church). We all know Jason from American Idol fame. He has quite a bit of influence - especially since he is from Rowlett (next door to Rockwall where Lakepointe Church is based) and was/is a member of Lakepointe from before his newfound celebrity status.

Here is my hypothesis (since I wasn't involved in the planning of it): This past Christmas, knowing that many non-members and many non-Christians would be darkening the doors, the leadership at Lakepointe invited Jason to perform the opening song at the Christmas eve service. They also did a purposely cheesy kind of skit where the senior pastor and teaching pastor came out on stage with fake dreadlocks on mimicking Jason's. I thought it was kinda funny myself. Now I am not necessarily disagreeing with Jason performing, I see alot of good in his being there. But for my purposes, I want to use it to make my point just the same.

Now I am sure the leaders at Lakepointe used Jason's influence to draw people to the church. They did it in a tasteful way. There were no billboards, newspaper ads, etc. to my knowledge. Just word of mouth. Their intentions were good. People do need to have the opportunity to hear the Word of Christ and the opportunity to submit their lives to Him. That's a good thing. I wholeheartedly endorse their intentions and why they did what they did. They were using Jason's influence. Much like other leaders use influential people for other reasons: money, their standing in government (the Christian conservative right wingers come to mind with that statement), their standing with other influential and wealthy people, they were thinking they could harness all the influence Jason has to bring people to Christ.

But as I was reading through this passage, I wondered why Jesus didn't use the influence this rich young man probably had. After all, he had a lot of money that Jesus could have used to further His Kingdom. This young man probably had a lot of influence with other rich, young men who, in turn, have money and power to use to further the Kingdom. He could have traveled with Jesus, paid the expenses and gathered his rich friends together to help Jesus spread the Word.

But Jesus didn't do that. He told the man to sell everything he owned, and the man was unwilling to do that. The scripture says he went away sad. As a side note, it's interesting that though he really wanted to attain salvation, he still stuck by his money - and he wasn't happy with his money - he was sad. Apparently, misery loves money.

Why didn't Jesus use this man's influence and wealth like so many Christian leaders seem to do?

Looking at this situation from another angle, perhaps Jesus did use this man and his wealth to His purpose. Once the man left, Jesus turned to his disciples and, as if in closing comments to the illustration His followers had just witnessed, said:

"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

He was clearly teaching them a lesson about what's important and what's not. Kingdom stuff is important. Money is not. Don't confuse money, power and wealth with God's Kingdom purposes. He is not dependent on them.

Perhaps the corporate style leaders in today's Churches and Christian organizations could consider this lesson as they seek to bring people to Christ.

Addendum: For everyone coming to this site looking for a video of Jason, here is the video of the performance at Lakepointe.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Godless and Contented

Here is an interesting story about Scandinavians, their Godless culture and their contentedness. The book that is reviewed compares Scandinavia's contented irreligious society and America's religious discontented society.

In my view, Scandinavians are extremely religious. In fact, not only does their society practice this religion, but so does their government. Their religion? Socialism.

That being said, America needs to rediscover Paul's words from Philippians 4:

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ted Haggard

Here is a good article on the upcoming movie on Ted Haggard. I won't be watching it as I do not have HBO, but I thought the last quote by the director of the movie to the CT's author when he said he would watch the movie and then write the sidebar was interesting seeing as how it comes from a self-described "cultural" Catholic. (BTW: What IS a cultural Catholic? Why would someone want the culture and not really believe in it?)

Just don't make God look bad. Let God win.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just a Simple Christian

I was just at another blog reading comments and noticed that there was a commenter who made sure to point out that they were a calvinist. The blog in question, which is Wade Burleson's blog, has often been the site of many a debate (let me translate that word for you: knock down drag outs) on the validity of folks' various viewpoints - of which none of them would budge no matter how much bickering took place. I often wonder why people try so hard to convince someone to switch sides in the midst of an argument... I have never seen it happen.

I long for the day when we identify ourselves and one another as simply "Christian" or "Christ-follower" rather than "Baptist", Calvinist", "Dispensationalist", "Pre-Millenialist", etc.

When I see a Christian referring to another as "my brother" or "my sister" it's a fresh breath of air and takes me back to the simplicity of the gospel message. We need to open a giant trash can and chunk all these titles out the door and follow Christ. who, if my memory serves, told us to have faith like a child.

When's the last time you heard a child outlining the finer points of Calvinism?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jesus Lies?

John 7:1-10:

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet[a] going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come." 9Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.

However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hell.

I have gotten back into walking a couple of miles each day after work. I always listen to something while walking so I stay interested. Today I was listening to an abbreviated version of Jonathon Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon.

Some thoughts I came away with:

1. Church and secular folks hated the idea of hell back then as much as we do now.

2. The Great Awakening, resulting in untold numbers of people converting to Christ, was the result of this sermon back then. Today, it would have the opposite effect - and I am not just talking about secular world either. People in and out of the church would not only reject the idea of hell, they would ridicule Edwards. There probably were some who ridiculed him then, but I can't help but think that the force of our overwhelming secular world we live in today would squash his sermon like a bug.

3. These days, do we accept the gospel because it saves us from hell? Do we really accept Christ's ultimate sacrifice for us so we can stay out of hell? Or do we accept it because it offers us a better life? Or maybe because it offers us emotional healing. Or maybe because we just want some fire insurance.

4. The reality of hell needs to be studied and preached in church again. When was the last time you heard a sermon about hell?

Women, Culture and the Bible

The headline makes it sound like I am about to write a pretty involved piece huh?

Not.

This is just a thought on paper. Not well thought out. Not researched. Just a thought.

As I approached the open elevator door after a long day at work, a woman came rushing around the corner to catch it as well. I automatically stopped my approach to the door, stepped aside and allowed her to get on first. You see, as a man, I have been conditioned by the culture we live in. By the American culture at large. By corporate culture. By my family's culture. It has all played a role. Because it is so ingrained into me, I cannot, without at least feeling guilty, go ahead of a woman in amy situation.

Now think about the famous passage in 1 Timothy 2:12 and beyond about women and their role compared to men. The picture Paul paints of a woman's role is, at the very least, one of submission and 2nd place to her husband.

Among other reasons, I have always heard the argument that the reason Paul wrote this into his instructions was because of the over arching culture that already placed women (as well as children) 2nd behind men. I wonder if Paul wrote what he did much like I might write to my sons to always allow a woman to go ahead of you? To always treat her with the utmost respect. To always defend the honor of a woman.

Like I said, just a thought...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baptism Last Night at Church

There was boy who was getting baptized last night who looked to be about 4 or 5 years old. He also might have been special needs, but I am not sure. Here is the exchange (Johnny is not his real name):

Pastor: Johnny, is it true that you have accepted our Lord Jesus as your savior?

Johnny: unintelligible screech

(The pastor took that as a 'yes' I guess as after he was taken aback by the screech, he plowed on ahead)

Pastor: Johnny, have you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins?

Johnny: Ummm, I don't know... maybe!

(Long pregnant pause... pastor is not sure what to do...)

Johnny's Dad (who was standing by him in the water): Psst! Say,"Yes sir!"

(Johnny smiles a big grin and says nothing)

Pastor awkwardly says: I now baptize you Johnny, in the name of the father, son and the holy spirit...

It was hilarious! Everyone was laughing. It was one of God's children at his finest!

Anonymous from Wade's Blog...

... You can post here and I will dialogue with you. Seriously. I'm not kidding nor am I playing with you.