Monday, November 30, 2009

Something to Behold

As if I need more reasons to love my wife, I have found another that I feel is worth sharing with the world. I will probably get in trouble for this but what she did was and is so inspiring to me that it will be worth it. Not only has she inspired me by her actions but also by the report she returned from her action. I feel that this is worth sharing.

This is a story that begins with disappointment. Last Sunday night, after returning home from church, our home soon began to have the glorious odor of something from the goodie genre cooking in the oven. Upon my investigation, I found that my wife was cooking bread, banana-nut bread to be exact, and it smelt glorious. I knew that she had been speaking of possibly making a Thanksgiving basket to give to the elderly widows who reside around us but I did not know she intended to do it this soon. Disheartened when told that none was for our family, I told her what a great woman she was and how proud I was to be her husband.

She literally spent hours baking these loaves of bread and my heart went back to my childhood and memories of my mother working away to make and deliver her now famous pound cakes to the sick, bereaved, or just her friends. I thought about how fortunate I was to have such a wife and how useless it would be for me to offer her any help. I am mean with the grill but baking is not my forte. Needless to say, I was happy when she was finished and we could settle in and watch the recorded episode of Amazing Race, her favorite show, from that night.

The next day, for some reason that I don't know, I decided to come home and get my lunch. As I pulled into our driveway I was met by Joy and our infant son Kip. They were leaving to go make their deliveries. At first I wanted to ask if that was not something that all of us should do as a family but I quickly realized that this was her mission and that doing this on her timeline and

to her pleasure would be best. So that she would feel no obligation to stay with me while I ate I told her I would just get something to eat elsewhere, told her I loved her, and returned to my office. I couldn't help but smile as I saw her in my rearview mirror with her baskets pushing the stroller on her way to do her good deed.

As the day progressed I thought several times about how it went for her. I wondered if the women were home, if they were warm and welcoming, and if the baby had behaved. I knew in my heart though that all would go well because I knew the driving force behind her action. I knew that the sole purpose of her action was to glorify God and in her own small (easy for me to say) way let his love shine out of her. What a great woman and what an amazing fruit of the spirit that Christ provides.

As I got home though and asked her how it went, I was not met with a message of happiness but rather one of stark realization. While Joy did report that all of the eight widows she visited were happy for the company and that they enjoyed holding and playing with the baby, she was most overwhelmed by the loneliness and quiet that these ladies live in. None of these ladies live in what we would consider desolate situations. They all have large homes but Joy was shocked by the fact that they only use part of their homes. The rest remains shut off and rarely used. They have these homes but live in apartments they build into their homes. What was most shocking ot her though was the quiet they live in. While so many of us reside in homes that always has the television, the radio, the computer, or some other noisy distraction going, these ladies all lived in utter quiet. Joy commented on how she could hear the clocks all ticking and the appliances shutting on and off in an intrusive fashion. Yet, that is the life these ladies, none of whom live more than a few hundred yards from us, live. Desolate, shut off, and quiet is their lifestyle.

That leads to the reason that I write this. How easily are we caught up in our own lives, forgetting about the ones who need our time the most around us? Some of these ladies are the ones who you shake hands with or hug at church on Sunday, never once thinking about what it is they will be returning home to. How happy they must be to have company and someone to spend time with talking to. I can think of widows I personally know who their own children do not even visit them. However, I cannot judge them because the only time I tend to think about visiting them is if they are sick. What a difference we can make in someone's life though by the most simple of good deeds. While I am sure the bread was an added treat, just our time spent with them would be a gift they must cherish. This is not to be done to make our lives or relationship with God better, but rather to glorify God by making someone else's life better.

I struggled over the weekend to think of scripture that would put the light I see my wife in at this time into words. What I came up with was the following:

Psalm 119:124-128
124Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes. 125I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! 126It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken. 127Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. 128Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.
That is my wife - how lucky am I

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Here's your map of what is catching my eye and heart today.

* First up, sometimes you see something that makes you realize how much detail and work God put into the creation. This video about worms, sea stars, and dead seals did that for me. Just watch and think about this creation that we rarely even see, much less think about. God is amazing. Here's the link (embedding was disabled).
* This makes me sad but no more so when I see other people using Christ and

Christianity in marketing ploys. The picture here is of a body spray (think Axe or Bath & Body Works) that somehow uses the scent of Christ to attract the opposite sex. How sad, but at least you get 20% more Jesus free in each can. I wonder what God must think when he sees such things. Just so you know what the "world" thinks of this, this image was found in "comedy" section of the Huffington Post.

* Along the same thought as the above picture comes this picture found in the Museum of Idolatry. I don't think any words I could use could better sum this up than the words used at the Museum of Idolatry.
"Sassy, Savvy, Saved is the slogan for the website for ChurchGurl's 'christian products' for women. We think they forgot one "S" word.....Slutty."
* This made me laugh because there is so much truth tucked within this satirical video. Sadly, this is what so many want despite the Biblical truths that it will never happen. Nice touch with the "Do right or I might smite" plaque in the house. Trey Morgan offered up a nice reminder also that we Christians are to be in the world, just not of it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Purpose Driven Death

Paul's letter to the Galatians is possibly my favorite of all the epistles. Not only does this letter show us that the gospel was now available for both Jew and Gentile it also reveals to us the curse that was the law (see chapter 3) of God and that living a life in which we strive to justify ourselves by law keeping, or following the curse, is foolishness. Why though? Why is Paul so adamant in this letter regarding the fact that the people in this church he had helped to plant are now, for lack of a better phrase, legalistic slaves. I find Paul's answer to this question in the 21st verse of chapter 2 of Galatians where he writes:

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness
were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."

This statement comes after Paul reminded the Galatian church that his life he lives now, although he remains in the flesh, he lives through his faith that Christ Jesus' blood shed on the cross is enough to cover his sins, past and present. Paul, the man who recognized himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), is telling this church and us today that although you find yourself unable to satisfy the burden that is the law of God, have hope. His suggestion is not "try harder." His advise as guided by the Holy Spirit to deliver is not, "do better." No, Paul's advise is to remember that there is ZERO righteousness that comes from working the law. Paul's advise is to remember that we Christians are saved by grace that was poured out on the cross at Calvary.

Paul condemns the Christians of Galatia with, to me, the most disheartening words any lover of Christ could hear. He tells them that because they are seeking to please God through their works of human minds and hands, that Christ's bloody and violent death was for nothing. "...Christ died for no purpose." If it were possible for us to save ourselves, or others for that matter, through being good or even being "Christ-like" (I deplore that term, for who of us can be spotless) then there was no purpose for Christ to have suffered as He did. Paul, in the most resounding and condemning of ways reminds these people that God in human flesh came not to save a people who are just choosing not to listen and act or who have some evil agenda, but rather to save a people who are lost, hopeless, and hell-bound without Him.

As we find ourselves today dwelling in a culture of "purpose driven lives" that are powerlessly staggering to find righteousness and their mission here on Earth let us remember the one and only life that has walked on this soil with any truly righteous purpose. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, are we thankful for the works of our hands or the works of the nail-driven hands? Are we choosing sides based on our own works and wants or are we allowing ourselves to be rinsed of our own helplessness by the blood flowing from Christ's pierced side? Are we seeing our lives as good enough and pointing others to how great we are or are we reminding ourselves and others of our SHARED wretchedness and need for Christ's redemption?

If we are finding ourselves as being like the Galatians or having a life cached with good works we think we can present to God in our own justification, the call to all of us is to repent. To become dependent on our own works, actions, and ideals, or to strive to make others see how to become more loved or pleasing in the eyes of God is idolatry in it's purest form. We need to repent of this and cast all of our hope and care on Christ. The fruits of this will naturally follow. Let us be Christians who don't condemn one another or even the world but rather Christians who help one another in their sinful and lives. Christ died for a purpose. That purpose was to save us, even in our present state today and because no matter how hard we try, we will sin tomorrow. Christ's purpose was to save you and I from sending ourselves to Hell. To think and teach otherwise, as Paul put it, makes Christ's death pointless and with no purpose.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Beautiful Surprise

Below is the sight I walked in on as I came home from work yesterday. I snuck this picture but I cannot think of a more beautiful sight then that of your seven-year-old son taking time to read and study the inerrant word of God. My heart leaps for joy to see him doing this on his own.

I love you Luke.

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

Welcome to all today. Here is what's catching my eye today and helping me to grow. I hope it does the same for you.

* Apprising Ministries provides a great post on the growing homosexual agenda in today's "evangelicalism." This is a detaile post that I suggest you explore the links embedded in it.

* Chris over at Extreme Theology has some pretty poignant observations regarding organizations that boycott businesses for not saying Christmas but that overlook so much worse sins. GOOD STUFF!!

* offers up an interesting look at some of the world's most unique golf courses/holes.

* FUNNY!!!

* Finally, Adam Faughn has a great post on the problem with apathy. Very insightful.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Not Ordained?

Following my post regarding the response from Christians and Christian organizations about the recent health care reform vote in our legislature, I have received several dissenting opinions via e-mail (still can't figure out why people don't just use the comment section on the blog). Most of the response to this vote I read came from an e-mail strand from a friend of mine who happens to be a physician. The heart of this e-mail was his apology to his friends and his deceased father regarding what has happened to health care in the U.S. His father was alive and active in the forming of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in the U.S. Basically he was wondering what response he would have for his father if his father asked him what his generation had done to help the less fortunate of the country. It came off as heartfelt and sincere yet this e-mail combined with the posting I referenced above sparked some very harsh words and what appeared to be anger. I have not responded to those e-mails for the most part, as none of them have necessarily embodied the subject of the original post. That being said, there was one statement made that I found particularly bothersome and that I feel warrants some cleaning up.

The statement I refer to came from an e-mail in which the author felt somehow singled out by the posting. I will take this space to say that the post was written to no one particular person and not one particular group/organization. The statement made though was this: "God does not ordain the President of the United States." Actually, scripture says quite the opposite.

There is a number of text to discuss this matter with. We could discuss Timothy 2:1, 2. We could discuss Paul's instruction to the preacher in Titus 3:1. We also could discuss 1 Peter 2: 13-17 whereby we learn the fruit which comes from doing what I was urging in the post in question. "Fear God. Honour the emperor."

However, for this discussion I believe a look into Romans 13 will serve our purpose. It is in Romans 13 that we find Paul's instruction to the Roman church beginning in verse 1: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good."

Allow me to preface the rest of what is to be said by saying that at no point will I say that this passage is pointing us to be completely obedient to the powers of a nation. I am saying unequivocally that Paul, in this writing inspired by the Holy Spirit, is telling us that the leaders that are place in a country at any given time are only there because God placed, or ordained, them to be there. This holds true for the Republican who can't stand Obama as it holds true for the Democrat who deplored George Bush. Should God had not wanted Obama to be the president of this great country, then he would not be the president of this great country. Rather this ordination is a blessing or a curse, time will tell but in the meantime we must look at Paul's instruction further.

If one reads the Epistles or any of the works of the first centruy Christians (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, or Athenagoras) one thing is clear. The first century Christian church, our standard, believed that the official teaching of the church should be that obedience and prayers be offered to the rulers of their nation. Let us not forget the tyranny and persecution which they lived through.

The same holds true with Paul. The people he was writing this letter to were historically rebellious against civil power, believing that the only authority and king of the Jews was God. This affected their obedience to paying taxes and some historical accounts, Barclay's in particular, refers to them as nationalistic, dagger-bearing terrorists. They lashed out not only against the Roman government but even their Jewish brethren who dared pay taxes to the Roman government. Paul found this, as I find the current tone from the American Evangelical movement, to be a complete abandonment of any Christian conduct. Paul was striving to say that being a good citizen, even in first century Jerusalem, and Christianity were to go hand in hand.

Question: Will it be possible for the Christians of this country to totally disassociate themselves with the government? If you live in a society, like it or not, you are part of that society. Without seeking your proper documents and setting up residence under another flag, you are not going to be able to cancel your subscription of being an American. We must forget what benefits that includes. However, as citizens, be you atheist or Christian, it is not reasonable that we would expect to relish in the benefits of our citizenship and not have to fulfill any of our civil duties. God did not and I dare say would not, set His children up to navigate themselves through such a difficult scenario.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits we as citizens should be thankful for is protection. Be it by our military, who we so honor and even pray for in our churches, or animal control protecting us from wild animals, the state provides us security. Let us not forget that the nation we live in, or any nation/state for that matter, is basically a group of people who have agreed to intermingle with one another by properly keeping within the boundaries of certain laws and limits. No more, no less. These restrictions or laws are in place to keep the strong and selfish from dominating the weaker.

That last sentence is what I want to focus on for a moment. Are we as Christians that stronger or the weaker in this country? Are we the fearful or the feared? Ten years ago I would have been confident in stating in a blanket manner that the Christians in America are strong and are confident in Christ's promise that He has not left us with a spirit of fear. Today though, as I read the shouts of fear of the future & uncertainty of the upcoming I see a certain lack of faith in God to carry the faithful through no matter what happens. I see compromise and spite, a deadly combination.

Barclay states that Paul saw the Roman Empire as the "divinely ordained instrument to save the world from chaos. Take away that Empire and the world would disintegrate into flying fragments." Paul knew that it was the Roman Empire itself, as evil and persecuting as it was, that gave the Christian missionary ANY chance in the first century to do his work. In Heaven, souls will be bonded by Christian love. We aren't in Heaven ladies and gentlemen and we are not promised Heaven here on Earth (sorry all you Prosperity Gospel lovers). Therefore, since all of us are not tied by Christian love it is the government, the laws, the customs that bind us together. Just as it was the Roman Empire preventing the world from drifting into lawlessness, despite their morals, the U.S. today does the same thing. Paul knew this and so do we if we search scripture. The nation in which you live, regardless of the leaders and their choices, are an instrument of God. Just as the Prince of Persia was set in place in Isaiah to return the tribe of Judah to their home, he did not know that God knew before he allowed him to become leader that this was why God allowed such a thing (and he may never have), our leaders, to their knowledge or not, are doing some part in fulfilling God's work.

It is our duty as Christians to HELP, not devise plans, protests, civil disobedience against them. Help is up for debate but I will contend at this time that no help we can offer is greater than the prayers of the saints. Paul tells you in no uncertain terms, should we resist, we are literally resisting what God has appointed or ordained. Should we search our hearts in honesty we are going to find that our desire to revolt is based on selfishness, Satan's tool, not Christian beliefs. This is why Paul concluded his passage in Romans 13 by stating: "But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience."

Pictured below are two picture, one being a group of protesting Christians casting judgment. The second is a group in quiet, peaceful prayer. Ask yourself, which do you think would be more likely to have an audience with your gov't leaders at their discretion. Secondly, ask yourself which group you would want to be associated with. Third, ask yourself which has the Father's ear at the given moment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Emergent Nutshell

I speak a great deal about the problem that is the Emergent Church in America. Recently, two of the leaders of the Emergent Church, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, held the Christianity 21 conference. Sadly, many attended and were exposed to this trash. Below is a video shot at this conference that sums up the idolatry that these individuals not only believe in and profit from, but that is doing more damage to the landscape of America than any atheist could ever dream of doing. Being missional is one thing, but this goes above and beyond. Notice how they replace the word church with "community."

TransFORM: Missional Community Formation from TransFORM on Vimeo.

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

Hello to all. Here is what is tweaking my interest and thoughts today.

* Watch the video below to witness both an amusing and terrifing commentary about how the camera/media is able to manipulate human behavior.

*Being a "Red Letter Christian" certainly sounds like a noble thing to be. Sadly though, as Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries points out, this new group naming themselves Red Letter Christians are far from being in line with those exact words from scripture.

* Pajama Pages gives us all a quick yet elegant synopsis of exactly what baptism is.

* John Mark Hicks provides us with an excellent answer to the question "Who is Wise & Understanding Among You" (James 3:13). This is a long but fulfilling read.

* Trey Morgan shares a wonderful story of an 8 year old girl telling Satan "Hell no!"

* I found myself becoming physically ill as I watched this video that reveals the heresy known as the Prosperity Gospel and how it is being used in Africa. Please note that just because this is in Africa, you American teachers and followers of this false gospel appear the same way (lost and greedy) as these people in my eyes.

The Prosperity Gospel from The Global Conversation on Vimeo

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mind Controlled

I find it so disheartening to look around myself today and see the hatred and anger flowing from the mouth, pens, and keyboards of the Christian faith today. It seems not long ago I was posting a similar piece on how many of these same individuals or organizations were reacting to the death of Ted Kennedy. Yet, here we are again, not even three months later, and the same distasteful and putrid ideals and attitudes are creeping back out of these people's dark hearts. Most disturbing is the fact that this is being done in the name of Jesus Christ. Heresy abounds!

Over this past weekend our government here in the great United States of America voted to move forward with legislation that would overhaul the health care system in the United States. The reported motivation behind this is to make health care (access to doctors, medicine, and other assistance) affordable to all those in this country who do not currently have it or who have some form of health care that is inferior to their needs. As with all things, it is much more complicated than that of course, but on the surface, that is the idea. Supposedly we already have such a program in this country, but somehow this system has become messed up and for lack of a better word BROKE, both financially and structurally.

After months of debate, name-calling, and pandering by and to both Democrats and Republicans it now appears that this country is headed toward health care reform. Sadly, the American Christian landscape is filled with groups and individuals who fail to yield to the fact that it is God Himself in control of all things. Sadly, many of these people are willing to cast aside Christ in their lives in order to make their political views known or their displeasure with decisions heard. This is unfortunate to me because so many of these individuals continue to camoflauge themselves in their self-made cloaks of Christianity, giving those of us who truly see God's hand in all things a bad name as well as placing us in a dilemma of having to defend their selfish ambitions. By the way, no more will I be doing that for you, it is time you guys get it together and start relying on Christ.

What I believe is not being seen in this matter is the fact that for whatever reason(s), this country has found itself in a condition that makes it more reminiscent to Iraq than Camelot. Of course the reason given by so many is that this country has turned it's heart from God. I agree! However, at the same time I see that because of this, many today in our borders find themselves similar to the places in the world that we would consider to be God-forsaken. Trust me, in my travels to Israel I have visited places that we are told Biblically that God forsook. Even our worse off are peachy compared to those piles of stone. Yet, despite that our worse off are so well off, can you blame THEM for saying yes when a group walks up saying, "choose me, I will make this better for you. I will make it so your children can get medicine, I will help you find food, I will make your life better." I can't find fault in them for wanting this yet when I hear many of my Christian friends describe the people who voted to put these people in office I hear words like trash, ignorant, stupid, nigger, and worse. I see the groups of men gathered at the backs of churches I attend discussing political matters and feel obligated to turn the other way to avoid those conversations. I get the e-mails depicting these people as anything but children of the one true God in need of His mercy. You people wouldn't know mercy if it hit you in the face and that is why so many of you fail to fathom the fact that you are no better off in the eyes of God than any of these people. You, just as much as them, should be pleading for mercy. I, am pleading for mercy.

We now find ourselves at this crossroad. Seeing the inevitable, I know that many of you will now tuck your tails and run back to begin asking for donations to help you in your "great" Christian causes that are nothing more than thinly veiled political or socio-economic ambitions. Sadly, you will continue to step outside of ANY Biblical authority and bash the current leadership that God saw fit to put in command of the borders in which you reside. Sadly, you will push more and more of the Godless in this country away from the cross, unless they pay and decide to vote, errr, worship with you. Many of you already worship with the people this reform will affect in the most positive sense - would you sign your name to your opinion before handing it to them face-to-face? But ask yourself a question: how many times have you prayed for the people who are so in need of what this leadership is offering? How many times have you asked to God to use you to help provide for them? How many times have you stepped outside of your daily routine or your "JOB" of being a Christian to address the needs that will now be addressed? For the majority who read this, the answer would be few. Yet, you all find time to make funny pictures to e-mail, write books condemning people who are in such lowly states, or even worse, hold assemblies or gatherings in order to all get together and show just how strong you are. I see you as weak today though because while you are all piled together, there is no Christ there. You, just as the God-forsaken are, as you see them too, nothing. No Christ = no life.

Question: Can you possibly live a life for Christ without losing yours? You see, there are people in the world today literally dying for the Christian faith. There are people who if they proclaimed their faith in Christ publicly would be murdered. However, when I search my heart about why I would be against health care reform the only reasons I find to be against it are reasons that affect me and my own wants. I no longer have that right. Yes, can this legislation affect my children's future? Possibly, but I am not a prophet and scripture is silent on this matter. Therefore, in the name of Christ, I keep my mouth shut and look for how God is working in this matter.

In closing, I would like to make one point. In the job that I have one of the benefits is free health insurance for me. That does not include my wife or my three children. In order to insure them the cost is around $750 each month. I am not naive enough to believe that I work in the only company in America where an employee faces this similar financial concern and it is indeed a very painful one. The only way to have more money would be to work another job or for my wife to enter the workforce. This however would take me away from my children even more and should my wife enter the workforce there are "Christians" waiting to crucify her for that. So, let me get this straight: you don't want people in this country to have access to free or affordable health care but at the same time you would agree that in order for everyone to be able to more easily afford it they would have to do things that would put their Christian family at risk. I'm sorry, I can't understand you because you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. I suppose for many of you though, your political affiliations are worth more than the Christians in this country.

Here's my solution: my family and I will see God in everyday that the sun rises. We will look for Him in every problem or unrest that arises. We will trust Him to carry us through no matter what the political landscape looks like. We will pray to Him to not only care for us, but to care for all of his creations. We will honor Him through our agreement that He is the One in control. Should we happen upon some of these people who are so hurting that they would choose the administration they did, we will help them in any way we can, never offering our judgment or condemnation, but rather the gospel of Jesus Christ first and foremost. No letter, bulletin, speech, e-mail, or argument will ever trump or out do that. You have the right to not agree with individuals politically but are your feelings worth your not being in agreement with Christ?


Friday, November 06, 2009

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

Here are things that have recently sparked my interest and I find worthy of sharing.

* Jim Martin over at A Place for the God Hungry does a good job of pointing out some people who may have taken a break from humility.

* Michael Hyatt discussed five characteristics of a weak leader.

* Terry Rush from Memorial Drive Church of Christ discusses 7 positive traits he has seen in good elders of the church.

* Watch this video. This female soccer player makes Florida Gators football player Brandon Spikes (infamous this week for his eye gouging incident) look like a big pussy cat. Why are fighting girls so funny to me?

Have a great weekend everyone.

That Sounds About Right

"Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of the everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration - whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone's death or or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday - I thought we could mark this November the fifth, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?Cruelty and injustice...intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.

How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told...if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War. Terror. Disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you and in your panic, you turned to the now High Chancellor. He promised you order. He promised you peace. And all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent."

- Posted a day later than I meant to. These words and the entire dialogue from the graphic novel V for Vendetta were words that led me as a teenage boy to first think about the world around me and the "powers that be." I just thought that today would be a good day to read and post these words today as we look at the social landscape around us.

While the novel these words came from called for anarchy, I think we should look around us and possibly remember God's promises linked to prayer and reliance on His word. It seems that despite all of the conforming to society that so many of the churches in the U.S. are undergoing, the problem does not seem to be getting better. Maybe some of you should abandon that strategy. Along those same lines, if you are a preacher, please do not take this idea or speech from this novel and try to form a sermon around it. You only have permission to teach the word of God, not graphic novels. This is a blog, not a pulpit.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Good Debate

I would advise you to take the time needed to watch this debate between two very smart men. The topic is if Christianity is to blame for the problems in the world. The debaters are both very accomplished and have many points that are worth thought. Christopher Hitchens, who is a wonderful crafter of words and whose book Kissinger is one of my all time favorites, takes the stance of the atheist in this debate. Let's just say I liked Hitchens better when he was a socialist. He is now a very militant and agressive atheist publishing at least two books that I know of on the topic. The stance of the Christian in this debate is taken by Dinesh D'Souza and he does an excellent job. He intentionally avoids scripture to make his points and unless I am mistaken, Hitchens actually uses scripture more than D'souza. This vid is 90 minutes long but is a good listen if you are sitting at your desk working or doing otherwise.

Challenge: Listen to how this debate centers around moralism on the side of the atheist. Moralism is not Christianity!!!!

I, Barabbas

I so enjoy teaching Sunday School. Even more so, I enjoy teaching
pre-teen and teenagers about the wonder and love of Jesus Christ. To see a young person put together the facts that point to their need to be totally reliant on Christ and his crucifixion. I have found it both a gift and privilege to introduce the gospel message in an in depth and studious way to the mentioned age group where I attend church. For a year now, every Wednesday night these children have been asked what does the word gospel mean and what is the gospel message. At the same time, we have been studying the book of Mark, which if you want to study the gospel with kids I would always suggest the fast-paced book of Mark. It is both quick moving and action packed, moving from event to event in a seamless and fast way. I feel fully confident in saying that not only I have grown from this study, but these beautiful and God-fearing young children have come to a deeper and more appreciative idea of Christ Jesus. Their understanding of Him has grown from a childish to an adult and evidence based understanding.

There have been several moments during this study in which the understanding of Christ's love was evident upon these children's faces. This look is normally one of overbearing understanding and glee. Imagine a smile with head nodding mixed with a look of deep thought. This is the look that thrills my soul to see and I believe is the look of the gospel of Christ doing it's promised work. No sparkle, no gimmick, simply the inspired words of the gospel authors.

One such moment happened just last week. Our study has brought us to the 15th chapter of Mark's gospel and Christ's time spent with the Roman governor Pilate. The story brings us to the time in which Pilate, realizing that Christ is unlike any man he has ever encountered, gives the crowd a choice. Choice one, release this man Christ whose charges are based solely on hearsay that he blasphemed and wants to destroy the Jewish temple. Choice two, release one Barabbas, a criminal accused of the charge of murder, taking the life of another person. Of course, the kids in our class know how the story works out. They are aware of the cries of "crucify Him, crucify Him." They are aware of the injustice of how Barabbas, a lowly murderer, is released so that an innocent man could die.

Yet, when asked who in the room was like Barabbas, only myself and a deacon who attends our class raised our hands. When asked what makes them different than Barabbas, the responses were that he killed someone and they have not or would not ever commit such a crime, such a sin. Only when it was shown to them that just as Barabbas was release so Christ could be crucified, they have been released through their belief in Christ for their sins as well. Just as Christ gladly accepted the cross of crucifixion so Barabbas could live, so has He for them as well. I was shocked to see their faces of shock when reminded that because of their sins past, present, and future that they deserve hell. That because Christ and His Father are aware of our ineptitude to live sinless, Christ set us free rather than face death and eternal torment.

To see these children connect their own sins and lives to Barabbas and to see first hand in an example of what Christ did for them was exhilarating. To see their wheels turning and the connection of the gospel to their hearts and minds was beautiful. Thank God for His Holy Word, for His Son Jesus Christ, and for His Gospel. Good news = that despite our sins, Christ has set us free while our sins scream out "crucify him, crucify him."