First, this is country music. Second, it fits, right?
First, this is country music. Second, it fits, right?
I am, most days, fairly reasonable. I enjoy a good conversation, a good and lively debate, differing opinions and view points. None of that means that I do not have view points of my own, but I do enjoy others. I like diversity. I enjoy most when the “educated” and “uneducated” can actually swap ideas and share things with each other. I think both have perspectives valuable in the search for truth. Ultimately I believe in people. I believe in them so much, that one of my sources of contact with them will come to an end. The decision is mine, it does not feel forced nor is it some plea for attention. It is simply what I need to do in order to continue to be able to believe the best of people. This swan song, if you will, is a final attempt on my part to try to shed light to online community and why it matters, how it helps, and how it hurts.
I believe that social media can be an amazing tool for community. I believe that online groups and rooms, church services and teachings, blogs, and networks, all constitute community. I believe that when you choose to “like” a post, comment upon a blog or story, etc. that you are voluntarily engaging in that community. The potential is amazing! The ability to exchange thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and lives has never been more available. The ability to interact with strangers never more ready, the ability to influence others never more important. Unfortunately never more abused.
To often I find myself in discussions that turn ugly, accusatory and just plain mean. To often people, myself included, end up saying things hurtful, vulgar, unnecessary. To often there is verbal bullying and abuse. To often the idea that we are essentially anonymous allows our sinful nature to speak before the nature we have in rebirth can come to the forefront. To often we are so convinced that we are right that we can not allow a second to pass before we start to type so as to disagree. To often we, the people of God, rip off own arms and legs with a keyboard and a computer screen. We are indeed one body and make no doubt, when you are mean, nasty, hurtful toward your brothers and sisters, even online, you have in effect ripped off your arm. If we should speak in love, it means we should type in love also. We all to often are not. I all to often am not.
This boils down to me feeling entirely to much hurt and pain when I or others say harmful things to people. When we insist that someone is not able to receive grace for whatever the reason. When we start talking about the “right way” to do church. It is a selfish choice because I choose to not allow myself to continue in that hurt. This does not require comment to me as I will not respond, but please feel free to use this as a discussion starter as to how this is true. Perhaps it is not at all true and I am a lunatic. This is possible as well. In this great digital age, we have such potential to reach people for the gospel more than ever and we spend our time fighting over the very tool we have to advance the Kingdom. For me that will no longer happen. I will read my news sites, and the like. I will of course use my email. I will not disengage from the information available, but I will disengage from interacting online via social media. God has given us this great and wonderful tool for connecting with each other and for forming a new and expanding community. I have contributed far to much in its misuse to continue. I hope that you who may read this learn from my bad example and use this tool to instead begin building the Kingdom instead of tearing it down. Peace.
I am having an issue with forgiveness lately. Not with those I know and love but with those I do not know and struggle to love. Mostly media figures, sports figures and today, again, a company known as Urban Outfitters. So many people and groups have been apologizing over the last few weeks and I can not seem to be able to bring myself to find it sincere. “I’m sorry that I punched my girlfriend, now wife, in the face and knocked her out”, “I am sorry that I caused the legs back and scrotum of my son to bleed while I was beating him with a stick, I didn’t notice at first and once I did, I felt bad”, “We are sorry we sold a sweatshirt celebrating the shootings at Kent State, we did not intend any offense…again, just like with the swastikas and the other stuff…”. I have such a hard time buying it. It is funny because I didn’t realize that there was a problem with it until I read my pastor’s blog this afternoon. I tried to brush it to the side, went to my bible reading and found myself in Ephesians reading this in particular “Eph 4:23 However, you were taught to have a new attitude. ” The translation is not the most faithful admittedly, but for the day it was exactly the jolt I did not at all want, and obviously needed. I think that a lot of other people are having a hard time with this too.
I have become the worst sort of cynic, the kind that is convinced everyone acts of self interest and that is all, not the philosophical school founded by Antisthenes that is sort of fun to read. Even with the realization of this, I can not find it in me to believe that they are indeed sorry. I can not bring myself to think that they are actually apologetic. I think it is just damage control in a society that expects an apology, but does not require it’s sincerity. I am having such a difficult time thinking the best of these people and companies. I think that a lot of us are struggling with this exact same thing in truth. It is a problem.
Today, and for many days in the future, I am going to be praying that God breaks this part of me so that it can be mended in accordance with His desires instead of my cynicism. I am going to be praying that God does the same for anyone else struggling with this. I am not going to do it because I think all these people are genuinely sorry, I am going to do it on faith that God knows better than I. I am going to do it with the belief that the world needs more forgiveness and mercy instead of condemnation. I am going to do it because if we, the body of Christ, can not see even the most depraved with heaven’s eyes, then who else will?
Many of you wont know about Oscar Pistorius, you can read up on him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Pistorius
Its been a quite interesting case with many experts giving evidence. What’s also quite interesting is an article on creation.com where they detail the various kinds of evidence and some of the issues with it. The crux of their argument being that even experts disagree on evidence, which they are able to reproduce, and measure scientifically.
The problem is that whilst the CMI might consider themselves experts, they are not. They are “people who have an interest in firing guns” and not “ballistic experts”. When they DO employ “ballistic experts” they only employ ones who agree with their perspective on how they should interpret the evidence.
This is completely contrary to to facts, and good “Science”. Most of us study the texts to determine what they are for, what was intended to be said, its socio-historical context, its theological context, its historical theological context, etc. The “Science” involved in interpreting scripture is called Hermeneutics. This is what you do BEFORE you start making any scientific conclusions about creation. In fact, once you do this, you realise that any scientific conclusions you make about creation have very little bearing on what Genesis says at all.
They say this:
Further, with the lure of prestige, fame and fortune accompanying evolutionary ‘discoveries’ in academia today, and with most universities firmly ensconced within the reigning materialist paradigm, one would have to be naïve not to believe that much of the evolutionary interpretation is also influenced by the rewards that come with telling the ‘right’ stories.
Apparently evolutionary studies are not based on science, but because scientists are being bribed to manipulate the evidence. Its beside the point because the bible does not have anything to do with the study of evolution, other than the God who ordered the universe also made it possible for science to be done. Either that or all science is a lie.
I liked this article which popped up today on the subject: http://agreatercourage.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/more-pannenberg-on-genesis-1-2.html
… when it comes to the past, an objective, reliable eyewitness account of events carries the most weight. When it comes to origins, the claimed evolution from the Big Bang onward had no eyewitnesses and has never been observed in the field or repeated in a laboratory
Of course we know this to be true. However, scientists can measure and observe, then draw a line backwards and get some idea of what happened. However, this same criticism is true of Genesis, because the author of Genesis was not present at creation either. Worse, the author did not ever intend the text to be understood as an explanation of WHAT (the scientific detail) but rather, the WHY (the theological implications of a God who orders the universe), and HOW (this God is the one God who is above all other gods, and understandings).
They go on to say:
By contrast, creation had the ultimate, most reliable and truthful eyewitness possible, the eternal Creator God Himself. And He has given us an account of that supernatural, six-day, once-off event—primarily in the book of Genesis, but confirmed by many other passages of the inspired Word of God. Noah and his family were eyewitnesses of the Flood judgment about 1650 years after creation, and God (and possibly Noah himself) ensured that the account was also recorded for us in the Bible. As in a court of law, let us take the objective, unbiased account of the ultimate eyewitness at His plain meaning when evaluating the evidence for where this wonderful universe, including mice and men, has come from. When we do so, we will find that all of the ‘forensic’ evidence available to humanity as made in God’s image makes perfect sense when interpreted in the light of that record.
God did not WRITE the Bible, he INSPIRED it. There is a huge difference, and the author of the passage in question was not recounting, as I said, the details of what happened, he was not there, he did not know. He was INSPIRED to write about why things are the way they are. He also was not present at the flood, and did not know NOAH.
These people have stolen what it really means to believe in creation, and the name “creationist” and perverted it into some perverted shadow of the truth.
Its time to claim it back.
This is a day when we remember a tragedy and it is good and right that we do so. It is a day to respect the dead and to remember those who were misguided enough to cause those deaths. It is a day that we pray for the peace that only Christ can bring so that instances such as this will not be repeated. It is a solemn day for those we lost and a day of rejoicing in those who survived. All of this is good and right…and it is not enough. We have built memorials and have memorials. There are moments of silence and moving tributes to those who died. There are television specials and the news shows do their best to make certain that we remember. All of this is good and right…but it is not enough.
It is not enough to just remember, we must remember with hope that the future holds a better day, not with the fear of the inevitability of this happening again. Those who will killed, died because of fear. If we are to remember, let us remember in hope, The Blessed Hope, that one day the world will be conformed to His image. If we remember those who have died in fear, we remember only the death, but when we remember in hope, we remember in the power of Resurrection, we remember not in a spirit of fear, but in a spirit of love and power and a sound mind. It was good advice from Paul many years ago and it is good advice now. We are not people of fear, we are a people of love, of a sound mind and of the power of God. It is not enough to remember, we must remember properly.
It is not enough to build memorials and hold memorial services. It is not enough to have moments of solemn silence for those who have past. It is not enough because the lives that were lost this day and in the events that followed did not die for moments of silence, or for mortar monuments, they died for the idea that there would be a better day. They died for the idea that there would be a better world. They died for the idea that not only could we be better people, that we would actively pursue being better people. The memorial that they need is our lives better reflecting the mission of Christ. The bible says that greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friend. Make no mistake, many lives were laid down for us. I say that greater honor and respect has no man than this, that he live a live worth the sacrifice. It is not enough to have a memorial, we must be the memorial.
Except for the last part of the book, which is clearly added…
Wesley had been on missionary journeys, preached, and taught and yet he did not know the blessed assurance of Christ. He had received this and that advice from pious men, generally to continue on until he knew for himself that salvation was his.
On 24 May, 1738, Wesley was dragged to the society meeting at Aldersgate where they started by reading Luther’s preface to Romans. Suddenly, something happened…
I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
His heart was strangely warmed.
Growing up a fundamentalist, as I have often documented, we dwelled in the constant fear that we would see God in his most wrathful state, our salvation dependent upon how our state of sinlessness before we died. There were no deathbed confessions, only a hope we could somehow measure up. When something bad happened, it was God warning us. We had deserved it and in God’s finite mercy, he had chosen to warn us before outright sending us to hell. If something bad happened, it was a sign we were in danger of hell. We should find the leaven in the house and get it out.
Wednesday night, I went to bed ready for an early start to our annual beachside vacation. I had a few things I needed to do at the office on Thursday but otherwise, I was ready to go. a few hours later, I awoke in what I now know was atrial fibrillation. Further, since I went undiscovered about roughly 2 hours, I was also dehydrated considerably. Long story short, there are a lot of issues compounded but I have a slightly enlarged left atrium of my heart and show signs of some heart damage. Most of the issues can be taken care of with a change of diet and a few medications to prevent major problems until I get everything else under control. The enlarged heart, however, will never go away.
I would rather not concern myself with what would have happened had I not been discovered when I did.
As I was laying in the ER room, and later in my hospital room, I pondered a few things. Not one of them included my state of perfection or my location in the life after this one. I have discovered that this is not my concern. If there is a God and if Christianity is true, then my state has already been secured. I have nothing to worry about — and nothing to do to add to that security. I can do nothing to be more saved than what Christ has done in his faithfulness. I cannot unsave myself either. I can, however, more fully rest upon him because I have had that faith tested and I did not waver.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I am not afraid of not waking up in the middle of the night. My fear, now, is to never see my loved ones again, to never hug my children again, and to never know another sunset. I worry about every odd pain or short breath. I am sure this will go away. I know I overthink things. But, it is a bit scary.
Fanny Crosby, a Methodist hymn writer, says it best.
This will take more than one song I suspect. The first up is a favorite that simply lays it out there.
If you have suggestions, let me hear ‘em
Originally from here,
But, I think it has moved…
To the Coal Miners, to the Steel Workers, to the stay at home mothers, to the workers who labour…God bless you.
Monday, September 1 is Labor Day in America. Labor Day is that special day when recognition is given to the millions who make up the nation’s working force. It’s a day of recreation, citywide parades, end of summer barbeques and political speeches. For some it will be just an extra day to relax quietly at home.
Both work and the worker are certainly worthy of a holiday of their own. Jesus placed much emphasis on the dignity of labor and the rights of workers. Interestingly, he never identified with professional religion as a career. Instead he was a simple carpenter by trade and his followers were working men. In Luke 10:7, Jesus said, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.”
Wherever the gospel of Christ has been influential the nobility of the worker has emerged. Many fail to realize that the improved working conditions of labor in the West are due much to the influence of Christianity. It was during the industrial revolution, for instance, that the devout Christian statesmen Lord Shaftesbury sought to change the abysmal working conditions for the masses in Great Britain. Men worked as much as sixteen hours a day – six days a week. Women and little children labored in the mines and in the factories. Little boys were hired as chimney sweeps. The necessary protections for workers were not provided and some died in accidents – others just from sheer exhaustion. Workers were little more than objects of an employer’s economic exploitations. Shaftesbury’s legislation brought relief to these injustices.
Work is inexplicably linked to the great truth that all persons are made in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:36). God has made mankind like himself – able to create, to conceive, to build and to make a difference. Idleness in life, however, strikes at the very heart of an individual’s personhood.
In Jesus’ “Parable of the Laborers”, the men standing in the market-place were not just loafers lazily whiling away the hours. They were men who had come looking for a job. Many brought the tools of their trade with them in hopes of getting hired. Some would wait until late in the evening for work because they were desperate to feed and clothe their families. But then the master came and took pity on them, sending them into his vineyards and paying them generously. Commentator William Barclay notes: “This parable states implicitly two great truths which are the very charter of the working man – the right of every man to work and the right of every man to a living wage for his work.” 
It’s unfortunate that many every day have to go to a job that they don’t enjoy. But even when this is the case, work still has its value not simply for monetary reasons, but for reasons of the soul. “Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not,” wrote Charles Kingsley. “Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content and a hundred virtues which the idle never know.” 
The most sublime beauty of the Christian concept of work, however, is that it can be connected with a divine calling. The apostle Paul admonished, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians. 10:31). “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23) The late D. Elton Trueblood expounded on this notion, saying, “There was a time when the idea of calling was applied, almost exclusively, to the work of clergy and missionaries…Why, it is now asked, should not a man be called to be a brick mason or a banker? Why should not a fireman be conscious of a holy vocation? After all, he is certainly engaged in a work which saves lives and prevents much misery. Why should not a woman sense that she is called to be a mother, a wife, or a librarian?”  Indeed, all service when performed to the honor of God ranks the same with him. God makes the work holy and richly blesses it.
Work also produces the necessity for rest. Thus Christ invites all laborers: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). There is no greater burden – nothing more “heavy laden” – than a broken relationship with God. The work of sinful passions is spiritually exhausting and completely unfruitful. Such panders with the promise of prosperity, freedom and happiness, only to disillusion with an impoverishment and restlessness of spirit. So Jesus adds, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29).
Could there possibly be any finer celebration of Labor Day than for one to cease from sinful labors and enter into Christ’s rest? And what joy would also be brought to the celebration by entering into partnership with the gentle Savior – to learn to labor for his glory and reward – to render every service as the light load of his love.
Rev. Mark H. Creech
Director, Christian Action League of North Carolina
By now everyone knows and many have participated in the so called “Ice Bucket Challenge” with the intent to help charity.
It is absolutely wonderful that someone helps charities and, often, the motivations and ulterior motives for one doing so, are ignored on behalf of the end result of an act of charity, regardless as to whether such act is sincere or just a stunt.
One of the greatest marketing campaign in my opinion, in the field of charity as a skillful way to make people publicly demonstrate their charity by using the proverbial “blowing the trumpet” through getting an icy self inflicted shower, this cleverly planned campaign made people who otherwise are not attracted to charitable giving finally show some interest in altruism.
Now, even if one for the gift sake, or the cause it benefits, may ignore the fact that self-serving, opportunistic giving is not “real” giving, I really can’t say that the benefits of genuine Christian charity can be ascribed, to those who participated in such a public manner. Jesus told us to practice our charity in private. As God privately rewards those who pray in private, He will reward those who give in private; as men reward with accolades and recognition those who do it all in public, no reward will be left to those who find public approval and acceptance.
I know that, for many the Bible is a book to be questioned, ant it is only a part of other sources of religious authority, but, if these apologists of plurality of Christian authoritarian teaching could tell me, I would like to see any of their own para-sources of authority that teaches that our charitable acts should be practiced in public… Oh, but it is all for fun, intended to combine charity with fun… I’d say that I own a company, inactive at this moment, called “FunRaisers” whose slogan is “We put the FUN on FUND RAISING”, so, I am for having fun in giving, but, when the fun of giving becomes a buffoonish way of being ostentatious about your giving and attracting the attention to you more than to the cause you’re giving, then, YES, giving can become and exercise in the futile violation of Matthew 6.
Am I splitting hairs? Am I being demanding and legalistic? Well, saints, the little foxes spoil the vines, and often the things that we consider to be unimportant, and faddish, perhaps even innocent, but massively practiced, are the ones that will ultimately water down and dissolve good and traditional Christian teaching and trivialize the cause of those who truly depend on charitable donations. It will be not so far fetched for me to say that henceforth it will be very hard to motivate people to give to a great cause without somehow affording them some type of public recognition even if it includes something as innocent and clownish as wasting cold water! It is already happening! People get naked in the streets for the protection of animals, radio stations offer donations for each cockroach one can eat (as it happened in So. America) etc. So, where is the good old secret and worshipful giving?
I congratulate all of those who risked so much with a bucked of iced water being poured over their bodies, specially in summer, who sacrificed so much for the cause of charity. I give you my recognition and so do many Facebook and Tweet readers and the overwhelming majority of the population. Now with mine and the world’s recognition, plus the thrill of the cold water suddenly changing your body temperature, “you have received your reward”; expect none other!