I just wanted to share this comic image here, after it’s languished in my files for a while. I hope you get a laugh out of it if you haven’t seen it before. When I first saw it, I couldn’t stop laughing for some time. =D
Category Archives: church
Churches and the Bible; Faith, Actions, and Witness
If you go to church, are you happy with it? I don’t mean happy with what the church does for you only, but are you happy with what it does and how it follows Christ? Unfortunately, actually, I’ve attended many churches. It would have been great to have gone to one church from the beginning and stayed with, and developed, life-long relations within that body, just like it’s a real (and wonderful!) family. But eventually with my original church, the leadership there fell apart. After that, I went to different churches for different reasons – scriptural and spiritual (these can be reasons to stay or to leave), or strange difficulties with people, or simply moving too far away. So, my point is, I’ve experienced different Christian leadership groups, how they do things, what they emphasize, etc.
I’m bringing this up in a post because we’ve been searching for a home church since we moved to this city. We went to one for a while that has a lot of good going for it, it seems, yet after a while we just saw too many things that we didn’t think were scriptural or spiritual or healing . . . so we began looking again. We’ve been going to one that we like a lot, though it has an extroverted “culture” (and we’re more introverted). There are a lot of great people there, they emphasize Christ’s church in the world and being an active Christian (this is good and necessary, but that doesn’t mean one has to be an extrovert), and they seem spiritual. Besides the emphasis on extroversion, there’s a major thing that is bothering me, and my family, about this church, but for privacy reasons I’m not going to get into it.
The thing is, why is it so hard to find a church where the body simply follows Christ? Not the laws and regulations of Israel, but the radical message of Christ? Why are so many into money? Being a poor person for a while now (we’re not in complete poverty, but if we didn’t have some savings to live off of right now, we would be), I notice a number of things I didn’t notice before. It just is a real turn-off when wealthy leadership talks about what blessings they have and how God is good, when you don’t have those things . . . at all . . . yet they ask for money from you.
Sacrificial giving is good, for sure, but it still seems wrong when wealthy people ask for poor peoples’ money . . . Christ came to help the poor, and in the Old Testament God talks much of helping the poor and not cheating them. This issue is why I mentioned “witness” in the title. Christianity seems like such a money-grabbing faith so often – at least nonbelievers pick up on this from stories in the media. Yet the New Testament teaches that people should give out of love and desire, with a happy heart, not out of compulsion, and the church is not just for the wealthy and should not favor the wealthy (in fact, many of Christ’s words emphasize the opposite). And instead of demanding more funds from people to have a bigger building, say, perhaps the fellowship should divide into smaller related churches. In any case . . .
Getting back to a previous issue: extrovertism. Does anyone wish they could worship and fellowship with a more introverted crowd, in a more introverted way? Does anyone think living more like a monk, in a monkish community – one that is also doing Christ’s work in the world around them – would be great (but I don’t know, maybe your fellowship is already like this*)? I wish I could have that, do that. I wish I could invest in buildings on a large property that would be a community of Christians. A thankful, contemplative, prayerful, creative, and safe community committed to Christ and what He said and copying what He did (hey, sure, that might include upsetting someone’s cheating “money cart” once in a while . . . or often). This would be a happy place. But is it possible today? I don’t know. It seems impossible today. Far too many people today seem to latch on to something, some belief, that is not necessary for salvation and hold it up higher than Christ. It’s weird, and the church is weirdly divided.
Thanks for reading what is essentially a vent (though I DO wonder if people think the same) . . . and God bless you!
* We live in a very busy, urban, and expensive cultural area.
“Why do Christians ‘pick and choose’ which Biblical laws to follow?”
I’ve seen that question asked so many times on the internet, and it surprises me that more people don’t know the answer. But then again, I always have to check my surprise because, really, the answer isn’t taught much in churches, it seems. I had always gone to Bible teaching churches, and the subject just doesn’t come up much (or at least it didn’t in the past). Maybe, in a way, it just seems too obvious to pastors, but then why do people keep asking? One law that will get a sermon now and then, since it specifically relates to non-Jews, is whether keeping the “Sabbath” “holy” is still required (this is from one of the Ten Commandments), but that specific subject is for a future post.
So what is the answer? As so many ask, why don’t we stone homosexuals anymore? Implying, I guess, that since we no longer stone them, then we should no longer think their actions sin anymore either. Of course, the one action or lack thereof (capital punishment) doesn’t change what God thinks of the crime (homosexual acts); what has changed between the Old and New Testaments was the timing of judgement. A major part of the Old Testament covers the time of the Jews, the history of the nation of Israel. God made the nation of Israel to be a human group that was governed by God’s laws, and His specific revelations would come through Israel during that time. They were an example that the pagan nations around them could see, and for future peoples to learn from.
But we – Christians – are not the nation of Israel and so we don’t mete out punishments to people that sin against God. We are to convey God’s plan of redemption to all peoples. God’s plan is redemption, it isn’t punishment, per se. His focus, as it was at the beginning and as it will be in the future, is for humans to have a wonderful life in fellowship with Him. God is extending His hand to all who will accept Him during this church era, and is reserving judgement until later. Sin is still sin. Just because God doesn’t zap people from heaven when they sin doesn’t mean He doesn’t see it or that He has changed His mind about it. Consider these quotes from two of the sources provided below:
The New Testament gives us further guidance about how to read the Old Testament. Paul makes it clear in places like Romans 13:8ff that the apostles understood the Old Testament moral law to still be binding on us. In short, the coming of Christ changed how we worship but not how we live. The moral law is an outline of God’s own character–his integrity, love, and faithfulness. . . . The New Testament continues to forbid killing or committing adultery, and all the sex ethic of the Old Testament is re-stated throughout the New Testament (Craig).
If we are to understand the application of the Law to ourselves, we must understand its purpose. The law was never intended to be a permanent and full revelation of God’s mind to man but was given for the express purpose of preparing the way for Christ (Galatians 3:23-25). Furthermore, the law given through Moses was never intended for any people except the nation of Israel (Deuteronomy 5:1-3; 6:6-7). Thus, with the death of Christ upon the cross, this impermanent law, the Old Testament, was taken away (Colossians 2:13-17). Now instead, God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” (Hebrews 1:2; cf. Matthew 17:1-5) One who goes back to the Old Testament and tries to be justified by it has “become estranged from Christ” (Galatians 5:4) (Sharp).
So, in response to the original question, we don’t “pick and choose” which laws to follow, since those laws aren’t for us to enforce. We do, however, acknowledge as sin what God tells us is sin, and we convey it to others since “the Good News” is that Jesus died for our sins. If there was nothing for Him to die for, then obviously He died for nothing. If people don’t or won’t recognize their sin, then they will not see why Jesus had to die for them. So, if you don’t know what sins are or don’t think that you’ve sinned, why would you think Jesus relevant? The gospel would be pointless.
If homosexual sins, or any other sins, are said to be forgiven and thus accepted by God, it makes a mockery of the whole actions of Christ. Christ said to the adulteress, “go and sin no more.” We are to strive to live sin free; to continue to live a life of sin, purposefully, is to deny Christ’s work. It’s like saying I can go out and murder, and the whole time Christ is at my side smiling, knowing He’s got me covered. Yes, we all sin, but the point is to recognize sin and repent of any sinful actions, so that we can have relationship with God; God will forgive the repentant, but to be unrepentant means to be unforgiven.
For a more detailed presentation of the subject, please read one or more of the sources listed below.
Sources/For Further Reading:
Craig, David. Dr. Tim Keller on The Bible and Homosexuality – What’s the Big Deal?
Dorsey, David A. “The Law of Moses and the Christian: A Compromise,” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (34:3/Sept. 1991).
Sharp, Keith. Understanding the Law.
Image from ba1969 at stock.xchng, “Bible Collage 2.”
Christian (Christmas) Poems X: Shaw, Auden, Eliot
By LUCI SHAW
Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest . . .
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigour hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by dove’s voices, the whisper of straw,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.
In The Poetic Bible, C Duriez ed. (Hendrickson Pub.s 2001), 113.
AT THE MANGER MARY SINGS
By W.H. AUDEN
O shut your bright eyes that mine must endanger
With their watchfulness; protected by its shade
Escape from my care: what can you discover
From my tender look but how to be afraid?
Love can but confirm the more it would deny.
Close your bright eye.
Sleep. What have you learned from the womb that bore you
But an anxiety your Father cannot feel?
Sleep. What will the flesh that I gave do for you,
Or my mother love, but tempt you from his will?
Why was I chosen to teach his Son to weep?
Little One, sleep.
Dream. In human dreams earth ascends to Heaven
Where no one need pray nor ever feel alone.
In your first few hours of life here, O have you
Chosen already what death must be your own?
How soon will you start on the Sorrowful Way?
Dream while you may.
In The Poetic Bible, C Duriez ed. (Hendrickson Pub.s 2001), 112.
JOURNEY OF THE MAGI
By T.S. ELIOT
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
In The One Year Book of Poetry, P Comfort and D Partner, compilers (Tyndale House Pub.s 1999), December 28 & 29.
Funniest or Weirdest Searches to My Blog in 2012
I don’t know about you, but one of my little enjoyable pastimes is to read the searches that have led people to my blog. Most are pretty straightforward and it’s obvious why the person decided to check one of my posts out. Others are just unexpected and funny, and still others seem too general or off-the-subject; of the latter, I’m glad the person visited. I wish very much that these people (anyone who visits here, really) would leave comments or questions – that would be fun!
“the samarathon woman” She probably was in good enough shape to run a marathon after constantly lugging around jugs full of water in the middle of hot desert days.
“stormcloak officer armor revealing” Really?!
“adam lanza christian fanatic” Why not “adam lanza muslim fanatic”? Just wondering . . .
“christian poem on the tongue” (No comment . . . ha ha, perhaps they’re referring to James chapter 3, which has some very harsh words regarding the use of our tongue in conveying lies, evil and hurt.)
“butter my heart three person’d god” This has made me laugh out loud more than once. Of course, it’s supposed to be “batter” my heart, not butter my heart . . . makes me feel like a turkey being prepared for God’s oven.
“hellokitty skyrim” I wonder what they’re looking for? Knowing Sanrio, they’re working to contract something with Bethesda, surely.
“skyrim 1800s” ?!??! Seriously?
“evil bible king’s famous instrument for telling time” If anyone can explain this one to me, I’d be grateful.
“can christians play skyrim” (“skyrim seems like a bad game for christians”) CAN they? Do they need permission from some pastor? You know what’s bad for Christians? Living in this world with so much evil in it! I’m not questioning God’s motive for having us live in this world, I’m only making a point. Skyrim is a game, and by today’s standards, a quite clean one that actually enjoys playing around with religious ideas and culture, and the complexities of people and politics.
“how women should play skyrim” =D Well, they could ask . . .
“god is evil quotes” Just weird and sad; glad they stopped by, though. But then again, maybe they were simply doing some research.
“what do christians think of hello kitty story” Is there a story? If I knew the story, I could form an opinion. As far as I know, Hello Kitty is simply a very successful product venture. There are some unsavory HK products out there, but if some people want to abuse the cute feline, that’s their business.
“short intellectual quotes” Out of all the pages the searcher must have gotten from this search, I’m surprised they found my page url . . . and actually stopped by.
“religious poems for dads that died” I know it’s perhaps morbid to call out this one, but it still made me laugh a bit. How can you give a poem to a dead person? Did they want poems about dads that died, or a poem for the children whose dads died? My dad died when I was young and it was completely devastating; I never thought of writing any type of poem about it.
“unthink christmas card” Not sure about this one . . . but please, don’t unthink Christmas, unless it’s the commercial aspect of today’s holiday.
There’s a search that, even though it’s from more than a year ago, I still remember and consider the oddest one to lead someone to my blog (my old blog, which DID have a recipe for a great sandwich on it), so I just wanted to share it, though it’s adult material (sort of!): “Is there a good sandwich that can make up for bad sex?” Well, a pile of McDonald’s fish filets (with some fries on the side) just might do it for me.
Iranian American Pastor Unlawfully Imprisoned in Iran
The situation for American reverend, Saeed Abedini, is getting desperate as no progress has been made in having him released from Iran’s worst prison. He was arrested in Iran on September 26, 2012, while visiting his parents and relatives. His immediate relatives were placed under house arrest as well. 32 year old Abedini has a wife and two children.
The court in Iran implemented a bail for Abedini, which is large but which his family had acquired, but no one has actually accepted the bail after several attempts at officially paying it. Officials reject their paper work and funds and tell them to get lost. Making the situation grave is the lack of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran.
When Abedini still lived in Iran he had converted to Christianity and helped found underground churches. Having had many run-ins with the government, he moved to the US and signed an agreement with the them. If he did not do any more Christian evangelical work, the Iranian government would leave him alone when he visited the country. The government has failed to keep their side of the bargain, however. Abedini has helped, and continues to help, in setting up an orphanage in Iran. He has visited his family and helped with the orphanage during a number of visits to Iran in recent years, but during this year’s trip he was imprisoned without charges.
Please pray for Abidini and his family. To find out more, visit this article: American Pastor Imprisoned without Notice of Charges While Visiting Family in Iran. See BosNewsLife and Persecution.Org for news of other Iranian detentions.
Just prior to Abedini’s arrest, there was great news that Iranian Pastor Yousef Nardakhani was released from prison there. He had been imprisoned for almost three years and had faced execution. Compass Direct on Yousef Nardakhani’s Release.
Thoughts on Singing and Evolution
In church last weekend the thought came to me that the beauty of human singing is an example of a God given gift or virtue. How can singing, beautiful singing, be considered a trait that evolved? Our voices are so varied to begin with that it’s hard to think that somehow that variety evolved, but then there is also singing. Can you imagine a chimp or ape singing? The thought is laughable.
The theory of evolution is based on the survival of the fittest. Surely that works at a basic level in any environment with any species. But there are many problems with the time frame for species to actually diverge and develop (despite what basic level text books say . . . they make it sound like all is fact when it is not); and it can easily be shown that there has not been enough time for humans to have developed to their present state from their nearest assumed ancestor (for more on this, see “Science and Human Origins” Informational Review).
So besides all the other differences between us and the very small and very ape-like ancestor of ours, singing had to develop somehow, right? As already mentioned, environment plays a factor in who lives and who does not. But a biggy that evolutionists use is sexual selection. I’m not writing a scientific discourse here, but am going by my past studies (I have a degree in anthropology with an emphasis on human evolution and archaeology).
Here’s an example. Why are human female breasts so big (usually, and compared to other primates)? Well, you can imagine the answer: males had more sex with females with bigger breasts, producing more big-breasted females. And you might reflect on how that answer just doesn’t seem valid based on human sexuality, that while many men find large breasts attractive, most men wouldn’t care about that when it came to the chance for sex. And if you imagine it from a purely scientific, non-Christian viewpoint, “evolving” men probably cared even less and raped more. At any rate, scientists may try to argue that human singing is a result of not survival of the fittest in the environment, but survival of the most reproduced based on attraction, just like the breast example.
Do you think that could be so, really? A good singer (or any other charismatic person, for that matter), may have more sex partners – which in the past would result in more offspring. But, considering how beautiful good singing is, wouldn’t we all be great singers by now? Or, wouldn’t some populations have a very high per cent of great singers by now, and some have mostly lousy singers? And, of course, this type of argument can’t account for the amazing nuances/differences of the human voice itself.
No, we were created with these traits. Singing is often, if not always, associated with the spiritual. I don’t mean that singing is always spiritual, but that is has always been used in spiritual contexts as far as I’m aware. Singing is emotional, it’s often spiritual, it can induce or promote thoughts of love. We as humans think musically and mathematically, with thoughts of the music of the spheres and the singing of angels. This all coming from the survival of the fittest? I don’t think so. When we see human aggression and greed, the survival of the fittest makes sense, but when it comes to beauty like human singing, it does not.
[Edited on December 23, 2014]