Saturday, December 27, 2008
They get it. They understand that it's not about the buildings, or the decorations, or any of that other stuff. It's about living out the life of Christ everywhere we are: in our own lives, in our family, with our friends, in our communities.
Now everyone. On the count of 3: 1-----2-----3: Hooray, Waterfront Community Church! Hooray!
You may now return to your seats...
So anyway, did I miss anything while I was gone?
(Does anyone know where the title of this post comes from?)
Monday, December 8, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This is obviously wrong, but it doesn't look like the Chinese government is going to stop persecuting Christians anytime soon.
How can Christians affect what's going on over there? I see a few ways:
- Pray! Pray for Pastor Zhu, who is going to be away from his friends and family for a while. He also has a heart condition, which makes matters worse. Pray for God's protection and comfort for him and his family.
- Pray! Pray for the leaders of the Chinese government. The most powerful force for change in the world is still God's saving work in a person's heart. We are one revival away from seeing the end of persecution in China.
- Inform U.S. government leaders that this is an important issue to you. We hold massive amounts of power over the Chinese if we choose to use it. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians are more concerned with pocketing money from those who do business with China than they are with how Chinese Christians are treated. Maybe those politicians need to know how we feel.
- Remember that all that cheap stuff we buy from China comes with a heavy price, including the blood and freedom of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Keep that in mind while your doing that Christmas shopping...
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I have some mixed feelings about it, mostly because I think Christians are overly-focused on the evils of the homosexual lifestyle, while ignoring many of the other sins of society.
Since the election, relatively small groups of homosexual activists have been protesting, demanding tolerance and acceptance of gay marriage. Only, it seems that the tolerance only goes one way. Watch what happens when an elderly lady tries to express a differing opinion:
From KPSP news, Palm Springs, CA
Here's a story of one of these heroes: John Ripley
Ripley passed away recently, but we are richer because he was here.
His words at the end are profound. "When you know you're not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens. You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you're going to save your butt."
I wonder how different I would live if I really understood that I'm only here for a short time, and no one here gets out alive...
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Also, are you a Christian atheist?
Or download this episode by right-clicking here.
Here’s a link to Wyman Richardson’s very thoughtful blog post.
Read 1 Peter 1:17-21.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
#67: Success is counted sweetest
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory
As he defeated — dying —
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
Monday, November 3, 2008
I also have a firm belief that God is totally in control of what happens. He is not bound by political systems, poll results, or voting trends. And there is no doubt He is at work, no matter who's in that fancy house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
That being said, there are a few issues that are important to me as a Christian (and not just as an American). I think they should be important to people of faith. The biggest question is one that is really foundational: what value do we put on human life?
It's an important question, and there is a portion of society that seems determined to lower the value we place on human life. (Don't believe me? Look here, here, here, and here for details.) And unfortunately, the guy who is probably going to win the election believes that unborn humans have no rights, even if they are born alive after a botched abortion.
Obama's views on life issues make it impossible for me to even consider voting for him, even if he was good on every other issue (which he isn't).
We'll know for sure what happens in just a few hours. Either way, we believers need to remember where our hope lies...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Also, are you trying to squeeze yourself into a life that doesn’t fit you anymore?
Listen to the podcast here:
Or download by right-clicking here.
Here’s the Christian Post article I read.
And, here’s 1 Peter 1:13-17 from Bible Gateway.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
So basically, Obama trusts that a doctor who was trying to kill a baby would then turn around and give that baby medical care if the baby survived the abortion? Either he is very naive, or he wants to protect abortionists more than he wants to protect babies.
Either way, I don't want him running the country...
I can't believe we're about to elect a president who supports letting babies die...
(H/T: Hot Air)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
They took in all kinds of kids: different races, kids who had been beaten and molested, kids who were deemed "unadoptable." They didn't have a lot of money, or a fancy home, but they did have what every kid needs--lots of love.
For me, there's something to be learned here. I don't know if these folks are Christians, but I do know that if every Christian family was willing to take in a child or two, there soon wouldn't be any kids left who needed homes.
Like I said in last week's podcast, we Christians really do have it in our power to live out the gospel by taking care of the neediest people on earth. Unfortunately, we instead spend countless millions on stuff we don't need, and political campaigns to pass laws that make sure unbelievers "act Christian."
Monday, October 27, 2008
But I haven't gone to many in the last several years, for several reasons. There's just a lot of other things to do with my time. And it is REALLY expensive to go to a game, especially when you have to buy tickets for the whole family. (Not to mention the fact that my kids can each eat their own weight in hot dogs, which are also a bit pricey.)
So when I learned that the Clippers were giving away tickets to some of their preseason games, I jumped at the chance. Now, I know it's the Clippers, but free tickets are free tickets. Plus, I kinda like the Clippers. So, last Friday, Little MacGyver and I went down to Staples Center to enjoy the NBA action.
He had never been to an NBA game before, so he was a little excited. By "a little" I mean that he talked about it non-stop for several days before the game. And I thought his little head was going to explode with excitement when we got to the arena.
Here he is taking in the inside of the Staples Center for the first time. He's a little overwhelmed by the size of it:
This is the view from our seats:
As you can see, the place is packed with excited fans!
Here's the little man, while his daddy makes him miss part of the game so he can take pictures:
The best part was that after the game, he got to go down to the court and shoot a free throw! It was very exciting for him. He said that he was going to try to make the shot, and help the Clippers win the game. (Unfortunately, the Clippers needed a lot more help than even my amazing boy could give.) Here he is, barely visible as he heaves the ball toward the basket:
The Clippers did lose, but it didn't matter to Little MacGyver, or me. We had a blast, and we'll never forget the experience. There's no better boy to go on adventures with than my terrific son!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Also, do you have false beliefs that get between you and God?
Listen to the podcast here:
Or right-click here to download!
Here is the ABP article I quote from...
Monday, October 20, 2008
That's why I was shocked (shocked! I tell you!) to see this picture accompanying an AP story about Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama, complete with halo:
I understand that a lot of people consider Obama a bright, shining light for America. (Although probably not these people.) But I didn't realize that he actually glows...
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Most revealing paragraph from the story:
Lucy Kynard, chairwoman of the Perry County Board of Registrars, said she wasn't sure why registration would exceed the Census Bureau's population estimate. She said the county's voter rolls are updated regularly to remove voters who have died or moved their registration elsewhere.Me neither Lucy. There's no chance that it would be in any candidate's interests to have thousands of fraudulent votes cast for them.
Good thing I believe that our election is on the level. Otherwise, I might come to believe that there was an attempt going on to steal an election with illegitimate votes. But that could never happen in the U.S., right?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Some pastors are endorsing presidential candidates from the pulpit. How would Jesus handle this?
How can Peter say that we can “greatly rejoice” during times of suffering and hardship?
Here's the link to the AP article I mentioned.
1 Peter 1:6-9
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Just as a man is pleased with the efforts of his little child to please him, though it be only by picking a daisy or walking across a room, so is our Father in heaven pleased with the poor performance of His believing children. He looks at the motive, principle, and intention of their actions, and not merely at their quality or quantity."
J.C. Ryle, Holiness (1879)
Monday, October 13, 2008
If they are of any real value, they ought to make people better husbands and wives and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and masters and mistresses and servants. But I would like to have clear proofs that they do.
I only know it is far easier to be a Christian among singing, praying, sympathizing Christians in a public room, than to be a consistent Christian in a quiet, out-of-the-way, uncongenial home..."
J.C. Ryle, Holiness (1879)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The post is pretty interesting. I recommend that you read it for yourself. But the interesting numbers are these: there are about 650,000 people over the age of 18 in Marion county. Of that 650,000, there are over 677,000 people registered to vote! You did read that right--there are more people registered to vote than there are people living in the county.
Typically, a little over 70% of eligible voters actually register to vote. But in Marion county, they've got about 105% of eligible voters registered!
I'm sure there must be some reasonable explanation. I mean, it's not like one presidential candidate used to work for a group that has been involved in massive amounts of voter fraud.
The new Marion county motto? "Vote early! Vote often!"
Sunday, October 5, 2008
I've posted before about my son's love affair with Chris Tomlin's music. Little MacGyver used to listen to Tomlin on my iPod when we were leaving the YMCA. But he's found a new favorite group on my iPod, and it makes my heart proud.
Here's what he's listening to now. And, yes he asks to hear these guys all the time:
Now, my youngest, the girl formerly known as Toddler Houdini, is jumping on the music bandwagon. A couple of weeks ago, I sang a little bit of an old song to her. Then I made the mistake of showing her a video of the song on You Tube. Now, every time she comes into my office, she wants to see and sing this song. She really gets into the "Ba ba ba's" at the end:
As for DisneyGirl, she loves just about everything she hears. Music just makes her happy. Last I checked, this was still one of her favorites:
The music is crazy around our house. Doesn't anyone just watch the Backyardigans anymore?
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Once these kids get out in the "real world" they no longer feel the need to perform the same church duties. But they've learned that the way to be accepted is to perform for others, so they conform their actions to their new friends, classmates, co-workers, whoever. We've probably all seen kids who seemed to be grounded in their faith, but then went crazy once they left the cocoon of home and church. The problem is that their lives aren't really changed at the core of who they are.
That kind of change only comes when a person has an ongoing, personal, grace-based relationship with Jesus. So, the question is: how do we help kids develop that kind of relationship?
First, we need to go back to regular teaching of the gospel. Only the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. I'm afraid we've discounted the supernatural power of God to change us through the simple gospel. No amount of preaching about rule-keeping--whether it's:
- church attendance,
- devotional time,
- missions trips,
- student leadership positions,
- or whatever--
We need our kids to understand their place in God's family. They need to know that God is at work in them, to will and act according to His good purpose. They need to know that they've been given the Holy Spirit as God's promise that He will complete His work in them.
Why do they need to know this? Well, because it's true for one thing. Also, these teachings will help them get their identity from Christ, from what God has done and is doing in them. Otherwise, they'll get their identity from what other people think of them.
Second, we need to realize that large groups (of kids or adults) aren't designed for spiritual growth. It's way too easy for people to hide in groups, or go along with the crowd looking spiritual, without ever really experiencing grace-full growth.
Real edification happens when smaller groups of people commit to each other. For kids that begins when the parents commit to praying for their children and modeling a life dependent on Jesus. In the larger church, each of us must be committed to doing what we can to shepherd the little ones in our midst. Again, not teaching them to keep the rules, but helping them see Christian life as trusting and resting in Christ's work, and learning our true identity from Him.
What's clear to me is that doing this would require major changes in most traditional churches. In many churches, you can go for weeks, months, even years without hearing what the gospel means in the life of the believer. But Christians need to hear the gospel more than they need another "7 keys to having great hair" sermon.
Also, the "bigger is better" mentality doesn't lead to spiritual growth. You may get crowds, but you can't encourage real growth. Smaller groups of people, invested in each other are key to this working.
Last, notice how little I've said about church leaders, the pastor or youth minister. Raising up kids who are filled with God's grace and Spirit is the responsibility first of the parents, then of other adults and kids who are willing to invest time and prayer in the people around them. The pastor/youth leader has a place, but it's not primary.
If you got this far, you deserve this. I'm really starting to love this song. Great lyrics...
A new survey causes me to ask: What should we be spending our money on?
Also, What does God keep for us?
Right-click here to download this podcast!
Here is the story on the trouble in India.
This is the story of the survey on what churches are raising money for.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
--John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The conclusion Bob draws is that we don't know these things because in Jesus' life, those things weren't important. His life was dedicated to serving others, not making sure that He got the things He liked.
There are a bunch of applications here. As Bob points out, Christians break fellowship over all kinds of things. If we were all dedicated to living like Jesus, most of those splits would never happen. Would Jesus break fellowship over what kind of music gets played in church, or when the rapture was going to happen? I doubt it.
Of course, if it's too hard to live like Jesus, you all could just try to do everything the way I like it. Then I would just tell you what you need to know, like what kind of music to play in church, and when the rapture will occur...
(In case you're wondering, the last paragraph was sarcasm. Except the music. It's awesome...)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
If you're having trouble reading it, it says, "Dad I love you/you are the best dad frum Samuel"
I like his decorating style...
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Also, I've got news: God is finished with you!
Click on the post title to download this digital gem, or listen here:
Here's the Christian Post link...
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Hi everybody! I've been a reader here off and on for a while. But I decided to jump into the forums and actually be a part of things. Here's a not-so-short version of my story. I grew up in a church that was very much performance-oriented (even though they wouldn't have ever agreed with that assessment). As a teenager, I felt a call to ministry, and that ramped up the expectations for me. Both the expectations I put on myself, and the expectations I felt God had for me.
I went through college and seminary, all the while working in various church positions. Toward the end of seminary, my wife and I decided that God was calling us to start a church. Our church started out meeting in rented halls and conference rooms.
I should say through all this work I was putting in to glorify God, I rarely felt like He was pleased with me. I had a theological understanding that He and I were at peace. I knew that I was supposed to have fellowship with Him. But He often seemed completely distant. And that just fueled my feeling that He was unhappy with me. I knew that something was wrong, but the only answer I could see was working harder. Of course, that didn't work either, and I would often just spiral into doubt and regret about my life and my faith.
After meeting in rented rooms for a while, I started becoming convinced that what was really wrong with church and my work was that we were meeting the way early Christians used to meet: in homes. So our little church started meeting in homes every week. Our meetings started being more casual and interactive. "House church" really was a good fit for us. But something still wasn't right. I couldn't work hard enough, or regret my mistakes enough, to make God approve of me.
Finally, I just had enough. I had to walk away from ministry. Since what I was doing wasn't creating a better relationship between me and God, what was the point? I sent our people off to good churches where they would be fed and happy, and my family and I kind of drifted. We met up with some house church people, and I really like the style of their meetings. (I still do.)
It's been about 2 years since I left the pro ministry. God is doing something deeper in me. At some point, I realized that God isn't that concerned about where the body gets together on Sunday. And He's not even that excited about what I do in my service for Him. What He wants is me. Not my work. Not my gigantic ministry plans. Just me.
The realization that God loves me just because He loves me is still re-shaping the core of who I am. Do I still get depressed sometimes? Yes. Do I feel like I should be "doing more for the Kingdom?" Sometimes. But what I don't feel as much anymore is the weight, the burden of God's disapproval. Because now I know, and sometimes I even feel, that I am God's beloved child. No matter what I do, say, or think, He won't ever love me more, or less, than He does right now.
I know this is overly long, so thanks for reading...And since you read to the end, here's some musical enlightenment...
Friday, September 19, 2008
Warnock's main argument is that people with dementia take up too much of the health care system's resources. If they kill themselves, it will free up resources for other, more "worthy" people to be cared for. At this point, she is only suggesting that people with dementia be allowed kill themselves for the common good. But it seems like a short step from suggesting to demanding. After that, maybe the English government will just decide to end the lives of people who refuse to do it themselves.
I mean, if a government bureaucrat isn't qualified to decide who lives and who dies, who is?
There are really 2 huge problems here. First, this woman sees some people not as people, but as burdens on the state. Therefore they need to go away, so the state can operate more effectively. The idea is that people are valuable if they add something to society, but should be discarded if they impede progress (as defined by the state).
Second, these issues will always be a problem when the state controls and pays for health care. This is the aspect of nationalized health care that people don't want to acknowledge. In a nationalized system, people will always be seen as burdens on the system. And some burdens just can't be carried indefinitely. They will need to be purged.
And who does the purging, and why, should be important questions in the US at a time when one major political party advocates a government-run health care system...
Which type of ministry honors God more: evangelistic campaigns, or building relationships that lead to evangelism?
Also, the reality is that we are God's adopted children. What does that mean?
2 Stories from bpnews.net: Relationships key to college ministries
Jesus calls us to sow as we go
To download the podcast, click on the post title.
Or, you can listen here:
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
This writer, who also writes columns for the Washington Times and The Atlanta Journal Constitution, makes the argument that aborting Down syndrome kids is the right thing to do because they are a drain and burden on society. He goes so far as to say, "...it is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome (or by extension, any unborn fetus)..." (emphasis mine).
The danger in believing that aborting Down syndrome kids, or any kids with birth defects, should be obvious. It makes an assumption, mainly that some people have value, and some don't. Clearly, to the writer of this post, people with disabilities are a burden. And it's OK to eliminate people who are burdens.
There is an underlying assumption also, that people don't have worth just because they are people. Their worth has to be granted by someone else. But who grants worth? The government? We've tried that, in Germany and other places. It didn't work out so well.
In fact, there is only one objective for giving equal value or worth to every human being: each of us is God's special creation. That gives us worth that can't be taken away by any government, or any self-important writer.
As Christians, we should be on the forefront of the fight to see that each person is treated as valuable and worthwhile. This applies to people with special needs, of course. But it applies equally to anybody who is considered "less than" or worthless.
We can't look to political leaders to protect the rights of these people. We do have one presidential candidate who pays lip service to helping the "least of these." But I'm afraid that doesn't apply to everyone, especially the unborn. It's up to those of us who really see human life as valuable to do all we can to see to it that no one is left out when we say that "all men are created equal..."
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I'm not sure how McCain would affect the abortion debate . But I'm convinced that Obama is pretty radical on this issue, even though he gives lip service to reducing the number of abortions.
Personally, I'd rather look at what someone does, rather than what they say. When Obama had a chance to vote on a bill that would ensure that babies who survive abortions got medical care, he voted against it. 4 times.
To me, that's not pro-abortion. That's pro-infanticide. Finally a group is bringing his votes to public attention. The group is called bornalivetruth.org, and the ad is pretty effective.
Here it is:
The reason the ad is effective is that it puts a human face on this issue. These aren't nameless, faceless blobs. They are real, actual human babies who are being killed. I hope that this group can run the ad all over the country...
Mostly, the kids are happy to wander through the livestock area. (Remember, our kids are completely city-fied, so they only see cows, sheep, and pigs at the fair.) (Oh, they see them at the market too, but in different form.) Believe me, there are much better places to be in the 100 degree heat! But they love it.
Here are Little MacGyver and DisneyGirl in the petting zoo. DisneyGirl loves animals, and she's really good with them. I can see it now: DisneyGirl on TV as the Goat Whisperer...
Toddler Houdini doesn't care much for live animals. She likes to look at them, but not to touch. But she does enjoy sticking her head through a plywood pig's head and making pig noises...
Here's all the kids in a cutout. We had a hard time getting them to look at the camera. They kept looking down to see what the picture looked like...
They also set one building up as a winter wonderland. It has ice skating, snow, and sledding. The snow is more to Toddler Houdini's liking...
One of the new experiences we have is rock climbing. Sam couldn't wait to get there. He is a really good climber! He scrambled all the way to the top...
This year, DisneyGirl joined in the rock-climbing fun. She tried very hard, and almost made it to the top. We were so proud of her!
There are a hundred reasons why I love the fair. But these days, the biggest reason is that I get to share it with the most important people in my world. They make everything I do more fun and exciting...
BTW, the man next to the Mighty Mrs. J is her dad. He went with us, and had a blast! (So did we!)
Friday, September 12, 2008
So, what's going wrong?
Well, I think there's a clue found in the reasons that kids give for leaving church. (Again, I'm equating "faith" with "church" because that is so common in Christian circles. It's wrong, but common.) Some of the reasons, like they moved too far away from their church or left home to go to college, don't make sense, because they could easily find another church to attend. But 17% of the kids surveyed were honest: they said they were only going to church to please others. I believe that would be considerably higher, if more of the kids surveyed had been more reflective and honest.
And it's understandable. So much of Christianity is performance-based, and approval is given based on external behaviors. Thus, if a kid shows up every Sunday, signs an abstinence pledge, doesn't drink or party, and has a regular quiet time, he or she is considered a "Good Christian kid." The reality is that you can do all those things and more, and have a heart that's cold toward God.
And the parents are probably on the same performance hamster wheel. They are taught that good Christians do certain things (serve in church ministries, attend weekly meetings, tithe, read their Bible, etc.). To gain approval from others in the church, church leaders, and ultimately from God, they do all the things they think they should.
When kids graduate from high school, they move, they get full-time jobs, they go off to college. They still have a mindset that they need to perform to get approval. But now they are away from parents and church leaders, so they look for approval from new groups of people: co-workers, roommates, other students. So now they get that approval from those people, instead of from church activities.
The real problem, as I see it, is that we've become largely performance-based as believers. What God wants is not the proper behavior, but actual life-change. Life transformation will result in behavior change, but transformation is a lot more difficult, messier, and harder to quantify.
So how do we go from a church culture that is bent on producing right behavior, to one that is committed to seeing people changed from the inside out? I've got some thoughts on that, but it's getting late, so that will have to wait until another time.
And for all of you who made it through the whole post, here's some fine music as a reward...
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
And, Jesus said the kingdom of God is inside us. What does that mean?
Or, download the episode by right-clicking on the post title...
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
What happens, or doesn't happen, that allows kids to walk away from something that has been such a big part of their lives? This question bothers me, because I know that if these kids were experiencing God's presence in their lives, they wouldn't be going elsewhere. (And, yes, I am equating leaving church with leaving their faith, because for many Christians, the two are linked.)
If you look at the numbers in this study, kids don't leave for theological reasons. They leave because they go to college, or they move too far away from their home church. They leave because they work Sunday mornings. Some just want a break from church, or want to hang out with their friends.
Some of the people surveyed said they left because of differences with the pastor's teachings, or because the church was hypocritical. But apparently, these kids didn't try to find a different church that was more to their liking.
Underneath all those reasons these kids gave, there's one truth that seems clear to me. These kids had the appearance of being committed, but their relationship with God is either non-existent or severely underdeveloped. That may sound harsh, but my experience is that when people who are committed to Christ leave the institutional church, they still have a desire to hang out with God's people. That desire seems to be lacking for a lot of the kids surveyed.
So how do you get whole groups of kids who can "act Christian" but are lacking a true relationship with God? That's the question. More personally, as a father, how can I keep my kids from following down that path. I want them to really know Jesus, not just act like they know Him.
I think there is an answer here, and part of it found in some of the responses to the survey I linked to. But this post is way too long already, so I'll pick this up again soon...
p.s.-If you've read this all the way to the end, here is my gift to you: possibly the greatest song ever recorded.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I was listening today to a podcast, and one of the speakers read a Bible verse that brings out the reason I struggle. It's 1 John 4:16:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.My trouble? The part about relying on God's love.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
I know all about God's love. I've taught it. I've preached on it. I've counseled people about it. I really do believe that God loves His children. But do I rely on it? That's a very different question.
I grew up in a church where knowledge was prized, and experience was looked down on. We were one of those Pentecostal churches, where they were acting crazy, speaking in tongues and hanging from the chandeliers. We were the "people of the book," and we valued knowing Scripture above all else.
There is nothing wrong with knowing Scripture. Every Christian needs to know and love the Bible. We should all have some understanding of basic Bible teachings. But knowledge can never take the place of relationship. At some point, we all have to go from a place of knowing about God's love to relying on His love.
How does that happen? I'm not sure I know. I don't think it's a process that lends itself to 5 steps, or 7 keys. It's probably different for everybody. I'm sure God uses the tools He usually does: prayer, Scripture, friends, circumstances. But we don't look to those tools to do anything for us.
More than anything, maybe learning to rely on God's love is a change of outlook. God wants to shower His love on us. In fact, He does shower His love on us. But we miss it, because we're looking somewhere else.
I know I've come a long way toward experiencing His love as a reality of life. But I've still got a long way to go...
Oh, the podcast I was listening to? It was Joel and Mike at Growing in Grace. If you don't already listen, try it. It is 15 minutes a week of grace-filled awesomeness!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
In this one, I talk about 2 groups that we've got to deal with: atheists and politicians...
Or, click on the post title to download...
Monday, September 1, 2008
Searching for this anointing, we will seek out people who claim to have a special relationship with God. We'll buy books, go to seminars, attend revival meetings, and spend long nights in agonized prayer, all in search of that "something extra" that God has given some of His favored children.
I wonder if part of the reason why so many believers, myself included, go through this is because of our wrong view of God. Do we see God as our loving, perfect Father who stands waiting to give us all kinds of good things? Or is God distant and grumpy, Someone you have to convince to like you by your good works and devotion? How we see God will determine how we see our relationship to Him.
The truth about God is this: He already loves His kids an infinite amount, regardless of who or what they are. He will never love His children any more or less than He does now. He never condemns us. He's never disappointed in our actions or attitudes. (That thought alone is changing my life. I can never disappoint God!) He is pleased to give us the kingdom. He's given each one of His kids the Holy Spirit as a promise that we belong to Him. He is constantly at work in and around us to make us into the people He means for us to be.
We are each anointed by God, called into His special service. Every one of us has equal access to God, no matter how important or unimportant you may feel. What does equal access mean? Any of us, at any time, can crawl into our Father's arms and talk to Him, cry on Him, ask Him questions, even complain at Him. And He's never too busy to love on His kids. He gives us every good and perfect gift. Best of all He gives Himself, and He desires and grows a real relationship with each of His kids.
If you see God as Someone who is only pleased with you when you perform acceptably, you will spend your life trying to perform acts that please Him. If you see God as Someone who is holding out the "really good blessings" until you do, say, or believe the right things, you'll spend your time looking for the secrets that will unlock the blessings of God.
But if you see God as Jesus showed Him to be, you'll see that none of that work is needed. He doesn't want my right actions, or my meticulously crafted orthodoxy, or my 12 secrets to a victorious Christian life. He just wants me. And, He's happy with that...
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I feel so sorry for Todd Bentley, his wife, and especially their children. I know first-hand what it's like to grow up in a home that's been torn up by divorce, and it's not good. I hope Bentleys can get their act together so the kids don't have to grow up in a broken home.
But there's another group that I feel almost as sorry for. It's the thousands of well-meaning believers who flocked to Lakeland. They were hoping to find healing or hope or some kind of touch from God. Now, it seems like what they got was a show, put on by an out-of-control minister. I'm sure that some of those people will be so shaken that they will walk away from the faith, too hurt to risk opening their hearts to God or His people.
And that's where the danger is. Anytime we look to leaders to impart something of God to us, we are looking for trouble. Even if a leader is called an "apostle" or they are commended by someone claiming apostolic authority (like Bentley was), they are only human. That means they are susceptible to sin and failings.
The danger seems clear to me, especially when you see Bentley's commissioning service from this past June. This service features a whole stage full of people who many consider "apostles." Each one seems determined to give a more elaborate vision of what Bentley was about to for the Lord. This was less than 2 months before his secret life became public. Obviously, these leaders who are so connected to the Lord didn't see the reality of Bentley's life.
If these "apostolic leaders" were so wrong about Bentley, can you trust them to give a prophetic word in your life? I'm not so sure.
Maybe what we need to learn from this whole thing is that God really does give us all we need to live out His life in us. Rather than spending our time chasing down this leader or that manifestation, let's ask Him to show us where He is at work in us, and the people around us.
But do we really trust that He's good enough, powerful enough, and loving enough to give us His best? Or is it safer to put our faith in a leader who here's directly from God? I think it really comes down to how we see God, and I'll have to pick up that thought later...
Friday, August 22, 2008
This week I look at the California court case that upheld homosexual rights over Christian beliefs. I also go into the whole Lakeland revival thing. I'm wondering: when a Christian's private sin is exposed, how should other Christians respond?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
That way of following Jesus is, in my opinion, dangerous and unbiblical.
It's unbiblical because it ignores the fact that we are all anointed with the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:20-21 says: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." Every Christian has the Holy Spirit living inside them. The Holy Spirit is given to every believer as a sign that he or she a child of God. The Holy Spirit lives in us as God's guarantee that He will continue His work until Jesus' return.
I'm not saying that we can't learn and grow from hearing the wisdom of teachers that God has gifted. What I am saying is that the idea that we are somehow incomplete unless we receive an "anointing" from some special leader is false and unbiblical.
Yet many Christians believe that they need something or someone other than the Holy Spirit living in them to become a whole Christian. I know, because I used to be in this group, and it made me miserable.
It's sad, really. And dangerous. And it says something about what we really believe about God. But this post is getting too long, so I'll jump into the other issues in a future post...
I tried to explain to him that growing up was just part of life, and that we would love each other, no matter how old he was.
But he just wants to stay a kid.
To tell you the truth, I'd love for him to stay a kid too...
Here he is at the Nature Center yesterday, being his goofy, terrific self:
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
It just so happened that I brought along a camera. (Lucky you!)
At the welcome center, kids can look at different exhibits about the plants and animals you might see on the trails. They have a collection of bones and skins from different animals. Here's Little MacGyver looking through the "eyes" of some animal. (I think it's actually a pelvis, but he doesn't care.)
DisneyGirl explores the possibility of life with antlers...
Toddler Houdini found this cross-section of a tree fascinating, for some reason.
Once on the trail, you can get up close and personal with all kinds of animals...
You can cross a small stream...
...or you can just enjoy the the wild buckwheat plants in the sunshine!
When you get tired, some nice mommy will give you a ride.
Everyone gets hungry after a long morning at the nature center!
Actually, the squirrel is on top of the lunches that came with a bunch of school kids. The bus driver wasn't paying attention, and the squirrel took advantage.
El Dorado Nature Center is a great place! Our kids love it, and when we visit, they don't want to leave...
This isn't to keep beating Bentley. I sincerely hope he gets the hope he needs. God still loves him enough to bring him out of the pit he's in.
But there are some things that seem clear to me:
- Bentley needed people in his life who loved him enough to pull him aside and tell him to cut out the nonsense. That's what happened in this case, with the result that Cain has repented and is seeking help.
- It's never wrong to question what someone is teaching. Apparently, someone on GodTV said that anyone who questioned what was going on in Lakeland was demonic. That statement is, I believe, pretty demonic itself.
- The problem with questioning someone's teaching comes when you assume that the person who is teaching has some sort of evil intent. What was the intent of Bentley and his group during this revival? I haven't a clue. I can't judge intent, but I can say where I believe someone's teaching lacks biblical basis.
- God is absolutely able to stop something that is damaging to His people. He will protect His children, whether he uses other believers, or gets involved more directly.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.Does this passage have any bearing on how we treat Bentley from here on out?
Monday, August 18, 2008
I'm not sure I'm clear about what I think concerning this particular piece of revival fever. But I am beginning to question how we deal with other believers that we think are wrong in their doctrines and/or practices. Here are a few things I am kicking around in my head. My thinking is still a bit fuzzy on this stuff, so I have no answers, just questions...
- how much "good theology" does a person need to be saved?
- what is the proper role for "fruit inspection" when it comes to judging a person or movement?
- how much error can a person have in his/her theology before I break off fellowship with them?
- if it's the Holy Spirit's job to lead us into truth, what is the role of other believers in that process?
- when another believer is exposed to be in sin or error, what should my response be?
- can a person be wrong without being evil?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
But it seems now that Todd Bentley, the evangelist who has been at the center of these events, is having some marital difficulties. (Scroll about halfway the linked page to see the letter from the board of directors.)
There is a larger issue about the whole Lakeland Revival thing that I won't address now. But it is pretty safe to say that Bentley is a polarizing figure in the body of Christ. Some people have claimed that he has a powerful annointing from God. Others think he's literally doing the work of the devil, deceiving the people of God.
Here's my quick thought for now: whatever your view of Bentley and the Lakeland events, it's clear that he and his family are going through a horrible time. I believe he and his wife have kids, and all of them will be hurt by divorce. Can we please, for once, come together in love and pray for and support a brother and sister who are hurting? Is there any chance we can use this as an opportunity to heal hurting believers, instead of using it as an excuse to blast Bentley?
I mean, I thought Jesus said the world would know we were believers by our love for each other, not by our ability to kick another believer when he's down...
Friday, August 15, 2008
Well, the doctors didn't find any major problems with her, and her problems haven't returned for over a year. Today she had a follow-up appointment with one of the specialists she saw last year. This doctor decided that she was fine, and discharged her. TH doesn't have to go back!
One truth keeps showing up, going through our kids' adoptions, and with this health scare. The truth is: you only have a short time with the people you love. Don't waste it being angry and doing stupid things. I know I've thought a lot about how things could have turned out for her, and I don't want to waste a second of the time we have together.
Her mom and I are just happy and thankful that God has blessed all of us with good health for our precious little girl...
Thursday, August 14, 2008
My, how things have changed! Russia invades Georgia under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians who live in a Georgian province. Then the Russian troops kept pressing on, and now they control a large portion of Georgia.
Why is Russia doing this? Well, they certainly want to assert their control over the states that used to be in the Soviet Union. Russian prime minister has said that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the worst mistake of the 20th century.
But this is also about oil. There are oil pipelines that go through Georgia that lead to Turkey and to the Black Sea. Russia would love to get control of those pipelines so they could control even more of the oil that goes to Europe. (Russia already supplies much of the natural gas that Europe uses.)
So it seems pretty clear that this is a war for oil. Where are the protesters? Where are the people comparing Putin to Hitler, like they did to Bush? Where is the outrage over Russia's actions? I haven't heard a peep out of the usual suspects.
I know a lot of Europeans are scared of Russia, and they don't want to say anything to upset Putin. But the hypocrisy is overwhelming. Will anyone hold Russia to account? I'm not holding my breath...
One of the things I am most thankful for is the ability to worship freely. My family and I are not part of a traditional church. We do get together with other folks, and different people take turns hosting the group for fellowship times. And we can do this without being afraid that we'll be shut down, arrested, or harassed by the government. That's a special freedom that I hope my children will be able to enjoy and appreciate.
There's actually no point to this, except that I'm thankful for my freedom, and I pray that all Christians will soon be able to worship freely...
President Bush made it to church. Hua did not.
He was arrested by the Chinese police. His crime? Hua is active in the house church movement in China, a movement that is outside the control of the Chinese government. Authorities must have been afraid that Hua would make a scene while Bush was enjoying the "religious liberty" that China offers.
Hua apparently escaped from police custody. His brother says he is in hiding, being cared for by other Christians. The article I've linked to talks about other activists who are under virtual house arrest during the Olympics. It also sounds like they are just generally harassing house churches.
So, if you are a freedom-loving person enjoying the Olympics, just remember that there are a lot of people in China who don't have the same liberties you do. Pray for them, and rattle some cages in Washington. You never know what might happen...
"I was able to get a sense of his soul."
--George W. Bush, talking about Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, June 16, 2001.
"I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word."
--Neville Chamberlain, talking about Adolph Hitler, September, 1938.
When you aren't able to discern someone's true character, all kinds of bad things can happen...
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The case involves 5 students from Calvary Chapel school in Murrieta, CA. They applied to the University of California, and some of the courses they took in high school were not accepted because they were taught from a narrow, Christian perspective. A federal court judge ruled that the university was within its rights to disallow these courses based on its Christian content.
I understand that universities have the right to decide what courses they will allow. But I do worry that this ruling will have the effect of forcing Christian schools to alter the spiritual components of its classes. It could happen that Christian schools will tone down or even eliminate those components, in order to make their classes conform to a certain university's idea of how the world works.
The case itself will be appealed, first to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Christian schools will lose there, and then their last appeal will be to the US Supreme Court.
I guess it all boils down to your view of the world. Universities are basically controlled by people who have accepted a materialistic view of the world. They don't have any room for spiritual or supernatural ideas to enter into the realm of objective truth. Depending on how widely they want to enforce their worldview, they could effectively neuter Christian secondary education in the US....
Read reports about the case here and here.