Archive for the ‘ Confusion ’ Category

Useless Studying

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
Titus 3:9

The other day I read this article from ABCnews.com about how the Pentagon had so many studies requested in 2010 that they had to issue a study to how much it was costing, but because they were taking their sweet time with no real results the Government Accountability Office has begun a study of the initial study of the 2010 studies.

In other words, everyone is wasting time and money looking into unnecessary things to see who is guilty of breaking the law or at least of wasting more time and money.

Do we not do this every day in the Western (and often Global) Church?

We get caught up in who was first or the longest.

We get caught up in who said what first or better.

We get caught up in who follows God’s/Jesus’ commandments the right way or the wrong way (usually “not our way”).

We get caught up over carpet color, community placement, ministry ideas, and how many inches are to be used on the weekly bulletin.

In other words, we get into fights and quarrels over who did/said what first, who is wasting more time and money, and who is more guilty of breaking the Law.

There is a better way.

We should start with Paul’s exhortation:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,to slander no one,to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:1-8

Misunderstood Identities

I just might do a series based on the teachings I have done the past couple Sunday nights. Today’s post is an adaptation from the first night, October 30th. The two lessons were titled “Masks: Judging others” and “Masks II: Living for others.”

                                                    

Everyone wears masks. Masks hide our emotions. Masks hide our true thoughts. Masks hide our face behind make-up, humor, and life-style.

It is how we use our masks which can cause so many problems between each other. Today’s focus is sexual identity.

Our culture has turned sexual activities and preferences into identities. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

  • The average homosexual will not tell you about struggles with same-sex attraction. He is a gay man. She is a lesbian. Life
    revolves around their same-sex attraction. There is no separation between sexual desires and life in general.
  • A “playah” (a.k.a. pervert … sorry, guys) only knows a life of chasing women. It carries over into every area of life. Think of Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS. If you have ever watched the show, you know that Barney is a sweet guy, but he hides it behind skirt-chasing and getting with babes.
  • Many feminists make empowerment of women and hatred toward men the only way they can live. Real feminism seeks equality with men with the understanding that there are differences between the two genders. So-called “radical feminism” is what gets people’s attention, because radical feminists are the loudest. Some at least have been honest enough to admit that they want to see the roles completely reversed, that women should be the ones in power if men are even necessary. Their entire lives become replacing men, not seeking equality.

This is a general group with only three sub-groups listed. For this general grouping, there is a tendency for Christians to just write them off as beyond help or just crazy. We either want nothing to do with them or spend the majority of our time telling them how sinful and evil they are, or, worse, talk about how sinful and evil they are behind their backs. Our understanding can be just as darkened as theirs is of God’s love, grace, and justice (this last one includes his strict laws and wrath as well as forgiveness through Christ).

For years I based my identity on being single. I sometimes went out of my way to alert others to my singleness. This is no different, and I know and know of many people who do or have done the same thing.

Marriage is understandably different, especially from a biblical perspective. This is because the Bible tells us “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31), and that means each person’s identity changes. They are not complete without the other.

David and Jonathan (Starting in 1 Samuel 18) demonstrated that marriage is not required for this kind of relationship, the kind in which one person is not complete without the other. It is not the same thing as marriage, but more importantly they did not base their entire lives on the other person. For both of them, their true devotion was to God.

This is not an argument about whether or not homosexuals, “loose” people, feminists (or chauvinist of any kind), or any other people who base their identity on sex and gender (or variations on gender) can be Christians or go to Heaven. The real argument here is that the problem has arisen that those who focus so much on “sexual identity” are not focused on God. Their understanding of God has been darkened.

The problem is selfishness. Sometimes selfishness can include others, including in a loving relationship. It reminds me of Terry Hoitz (played by Mark Wahlberg) in “The Other Guys”. He was so frustrated that his tagline was illogical (but quite hilarious): “I am a beautiful peacock! You have to let me fly!” ((If you are wondering why this is so funny, peacocks are semi-flightless, only able to go relatively short distances of a few hundred feet across land and fifty feet up.)) The reason I think of this line is that peacocks are often associated with pride and arrogance, and this line is slightly illogical as is basing your entire identity on how or with whom sex is or is not performed.

And just to make sure it is understood: None of my statements of the three sub-groups listed above are meant to be taken as universal. That would also be a logical fallacy and undermine my entire argument. All people, even Christians, can base their understanding of life on crazy, inappropriate, and sometimes weird things … not just sex (though you can see Christians and the religious right who focus on not practicing certain sexual act or preferences or whatever you want to call them).

So what say you? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I off the mark or right on? Any comments to help clarify, support, or debunk my claims?

It’s the End of the World As We Know It … Again …

Perhaps you remember five months ago all of the hype over Harold Camping and the impending rapture he calculated from the evidence in the Bible would occur on May 21. I made some comments on the whole affair here, here (tongue-in-cheek) and here.

Well, this week brings about part two of his prediction. You see, Harold explained that on May 21st God’s work of salvation came to an end, that the Holy Spirit was pulled from world (except believers, of course). No one else can be saved (be led to Christ). Instead, the final rapture in which the Elect (those who are saved) are taken up to meet Christ is the air takes place at the exact same time as the final judgement and destruction of Creation. This is all to happen …

This Friday, October 21st (2011, if you are confused on which “this Friday” I mean).

I have covered this topic before, as referenced above.

You know, if he is right about this date, amillenniallists have it all right (except the date. That is Harold Camping). On the other hand, if Harold has been right all along, then premillennialists are more right. I personally do not think postmillennialism has any basis in truth at all, but I will be friends with you even if you do think it has any basis in truth at all.

After that little rabbit-trail …

Can I get any comments? What do you think: Is the world coming to an end this weekend, or do we have more time? Or are we possibly disappearing before Friday?

Or do you think God has a rather hilarious sense of humor and will use this Friday to end everything as we know it to really shock Harry Camping … and everyone else?

Misunderstanding Love, Muslims, and Americans in recent history

I have recently read some interesting things. In keeping with this week’s theme of whether or not you may be in love with someone, I refer to an article from USA Today last month. Hay El Nasser and Paul Overberg wrote and article titled “1990-2010: How America Changed” published on August 11, 2011.

There were some interesting facts such as the top five states with largest latino populations (1) California, 2) Texas, 3) New York, 4) Florida, 5) Illinois), we have the lowest ever proportion of those 18-years-old and younger in our population (24%), and 40 million more people living in suburbs.

The one that relates to this week: in 1990, 26% of births were by single women, as opposed to 41% in 2010. Almost half of the births in this nation last year happened outside of marriage. This tells us something of the state of our culture today.

  1. Marriage is being seen as an outdated institution.
  2. Women find less need for a father to help raise their children.
  3. Men are not as involved in child-rearing.
  4. Abortion is not quite as acceptable anymore.

The article continued by stating that single mothers are higher among Hispanics (53%) and blacks (73%), and in Europe between half and two-thirds of births are to single mothers. It reminds me of the recent fad of teenage girls wanting to have children or “Octo-mom” and others like her having multiple children “because they can.”

We have gained a misunderstanding of love.

Moving on, while some Americans think all Muslims are violent and want to kill all non-Muslims, and some think Islam is merely a religion of peace and tolerance, both of which are misunderstandings, but I read an article today about the people in Afghanistan. Apparently, the vast majority of Afghans have no idea why Americans and others are in their country, and that includes not understanding what happened on September 11, 2oo1. It not only shows that most Afghans had nothing to do with the attacks (very rural living, after all), but “we” have done a horrible job explaining ourselves to the locals.

This reminds me that the Western culture has massive misunderstanding of the rest of the world, and really of itself.

Overall lesson I am seeing: impatience, selfishness, and arrogance is a common theme among people in the West. As we see the Church continue to slide in influence in our culture, is it any wonder?

Polluted Dreamers

Last week I looked at differences of beliefs between churches, denominations, cities, and what have you, and how it is our pride and misunderstanding which gets in the way of unity.

I may “get in trouble” with some those who come across my blog or with whom I regularly associate, but this week I am continuing the topic by looking at those who cause the trouble.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written aboutlong ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

Jude 3-10

 As I mentioned last week, it is pride and misunderstandings which get in the way, but it is in individuals where it starts and then spreads. As Jude remarked, we were warned that people would infiltrate the Church. These people “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

What does this look like?

Jude mentions sexual immorality. We definitely see this with all of the Catholic priests in trouble for abusing children, pastors having affairs, and the Church approving of the homosexual lifestyle. But this is not all there is.

We also see the change of grace through moral preaching. This also has a tendency to deny Jesus, but it is not universal. These teachings are based on “You can do anything and live a good life. Just try really hard. Do not worry about failing! After all, we are sinners!” I wish I could say this is a paraphrase to get the point across, but this is almost a direct quote from many different pulpits.

This carries over to the next point that “It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” This sounds great. There may even be truth in it, to a point (read C. S. Lewis’s works to see what I mean. I am not saying I agree, just pointing out a reference). However, Hitler sincerely believed the Germans were the new Arian race and far superior to all people. Stalin and Mao sincerely believed atheism was the way to go. Most people agree that they were sincerely wrong. Ask the dozens of millions of people who died under just the three men living out their sincere beliefs. According to this teaching, these three men are still on their way to heaven.

What about Jude’s line “those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire”? Many today are teaching “eternal does not always mean ‘forever’. Just look at some of God’s warnings in the Old Testament that His wrath would burn against Israel forever!” For starters, look at the context. Secondly, how come this may or may not apply to “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life“? We all must be wary of reading the Bible this way. There are people who will be FOREVER condemned to the Lake of Fire. I do not like. No one should, but it is there. It is true.

Many of the people who lead others astray make a fatal error.

They misunderstand how God works. This is not to say anyone can understand precisely how God works, but they tend to assume God does everything in ways we can and should understand. Therefore, miracles cannot work, because they go against the laws of nature. Jesus cannot be the only way to Heaven, because there is so much truth in the world. No one goes to or stays in Hell, because God could never harm His own Creation.

This is dangerous. This is prideful. This is eternally deadly.

They base their knowledge not primarily on what the Bible says, and many times not even tradition, but what “feels right” by their conscience. This is dangerous in that we do have a fallen nature. Just remember, Jonah did not think it felt right to save 100,000 people at Nineveh, but God still sent him to preach to and save them. Peter did not think it felt right that Jesus should die to save everyone, but Jesus still went and saved us.

Just so everyone knows, I am not calling all liberals or all Catholics or all Baptists or all Episcopalians or all whoevers bad Christians on their way to Hell. I would be just as guilty as those about whom this posting refers. I do not fully understand God’s grace, and He is more than capable of saving all those with whom I disagree and especially me.

These perversions and immorality Jude mentions are not necessarily sexual, but they can also include many of the things listed above.

What do you think? Am I way off base, or are many of the dissenters and distractors our leaders who allow pride and their own personal feelings to get in the way?

“Body Ritual Among the Nacirema”

The topic I am approaching this week happens to also be along the same lines of what is being discussed in my theology class this week! Therefore, I humbly request you follow the link below to read an article I read for this class. I personally find it to be AMAZING! It relates whether you are aware of it or not when you read my second post this week.

The topic this week is loving the entire Body of Christ, irrespective of what we think others wrongly believe or practice.

Enjoy!

(If you cannot link, copy and paste this: https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/miner.html )

My What Big Sheep You Have!

Now that we know how to deal with false prophets (and other Christian-sinners), it is time to ponder people patronizing the pews of pesky perjurious prophets … and other bad teachers.

So fat ... so lazy ... don't wanna move ...

How is it that so many people can fall for such obvious mis-truths and blatant problems with hermeneutics (bible interpretation)?

First off, I am going to state that it is not all on these false teachers. We have had quite a stint of poor preaching and teaching in this nation (and through much of Western culture for a long time) that many people who go to church struggle with the basics of Christianity. When less than half of us know Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection and a third of us think Jesus sinned, there is a problem. This means the Church at large has been failing them.

Years of not receiving solid teaching keeps people spiritually malnourished.  We could call these people the seeds that grew among the thorns or are (or can become?) weeds.

The thing is, what most people are getting is the equivalent of junk food. Eating junk food can keep people going for a while, some even appearing perfectly healthy, but eventually from that most people will grow fat and tired and unable to even handle good food. When people get poor teaching, it is much the same. They can start out loving the message and may even produce some good fruit in their lives, bu they often become spiritually lethargic, unable to discern what is truth.

This, then, is how people can fall for lies, half-truths, and scriptural fudgings.

Bringing in Jillian Michaels … for souls …

As with those who lead them astray, we need to love them towards truth. Calling them morons, idiots, heretics, blasphemers, retards, snakes, wolves-in-sheeps-clothing, blah, blah, blah, on and on (I have heard/read all of these and more in the past few weeks, so there are too many to link!), only pushes them further away. You may actually be doing more harm than those poorly teaching them! You become just as guilty as the false teachers!

Telling them of their error is necessary, but it can and should be done with gentleness and respect. They deserve the same grace and patience we have all been given by our Lord. We just may be working through years of spiritual and psychological abuse, so it is needed! As Paul reminded us, it must all be done with love! Sometimes that means putting these poor sheep through some “The Biggest Loser: Spiritual Edition” with Jesus hosting and us working as trainers, guiding them through spiritual exercises and feeding them with healthy teaching. It will be tough on all of us, but it takes hard work and perseverance.

There have been great thoughts shared over the past couple of weeks! What else have you? Am I right? Am I being too nice? Am I naive? Have you dealt with anyone who has been sucked in by sneaky false teachings? How long should we work with them?

Expectant Religion

So …

ARE YOU READY?

There are some who claim that Jesus Christ is returning about 24 hours from the time I type this to rapture His Church. Family Radio (not Family Life Radio, mind you), founded and run by Harold Camping, is the entity putting forth this information.

Of course, going against them is Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:36: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

A note in the NIV says that some manuscripts do not have “nor the Son,” but that does not change my next point.

They could be right.

A friend and I agree they could, in fact, be right, but it would be ironically funny if God used someone who has been wrong before about the date of Christ’s return. It would also be sad since part of the claim is that many who live relatively righteous lives but follow two false teachings from their churches – confessing members are safe and that no man can know the day or hour – are doomed. It is also sad in that we know all people who do not attend church or believe in Jesus Christ, which is about two-thirds of the planet’s population, are doomed. I am not arguing those numbers.

However, I have heard some great teachings about this that make quite a bit of sense.

God has not revealed the day or hour of the end, because He wants us to work hard the whole time until the end. See the parable of the ten virgins, for example.

God has not revealed the day or hour of the end, because He knows most people would have sat back until the last few days or even moments doing whatever they like. If most of us know the time something is going to happen, we tend to not worry about that event until we need to. See the parable of the talents, specifically the last guy given one talent. He did not do anything wrong, per se, but he did not do anything right, either.

Between Jesus telling us no one knows (other than God) and these parables, it seems rather clear to me that we cannot know the day or hour.

What Harold Camping and his followers got right

I am going to go out on a limb and say that these people have it wrong. Tomorrow is not the day of the Rapture.

What they have right is that they have been living their lives attempting to win over as many people as possible. They have attempted to warn everyone. They have tried to bring as many as possible into the loving fold of God’s mighty hand.

They have lived expecting Christ to return soon!

The early Church lived this way. There are some people living this way today. How do we know we have not been doing our job?

Europe used to be almost entirely Christian. The United States of America was founded on biblical principles, yet less than half of us attend church regularly if at all. Most people I know say they believe that Jesus is returning, yet the vast majority of them know little to nothing about what the Bible says about it.

Harold Camping has gotten people to get excited about winning people over for the Lord, and many of us sit and debate about why he is wrong or right or how it will happen. This is not bad in and of itself, but it is wrong when most people do not reach out to others with our knowledge.

I am not saying everyone needs to become biblical scholars. I am saying we need to find that love for God and others that we evidently lack. I know I am personally lacking!

What do you think? Are we within a day of seeing Christ’s return, or are we within 36 hours of knowing we do not know? How are we doing as the Church? Am I way off base, or do we seriously need to work on our relationship with God?

What Religion Do You Follow?

Everybody follows a form of orthodoxy and religion.

Religion I have covered previously. Orthodoxy means right thinking or correct thinking. Therefore, if you are orthodox, you have a way of thinking that is correct.

Most people claim to have some form of truth … except of course for all the post-modern thinkers who claim there is no absolute truth. (Seriously think about that. They make an absolute claim there are no absolutes.)

Are you a Secular Humanist? Is humanity the highest form of life on Earth after millions and billions of years of evolution?

Are you a Theistic Humanist? Is humanity the highest form of life on Earth because a deity created us or effected evolutionary processes to get to us?

Are you an Atheist? Is there no possibility that there is deity of any sort?

Are you an Agnostic? Is there a possibility of a deity, but anything is possible?

Are you Muslim? Is Mohammed the last true Prophet?

Are you Jewish? Are certain things Kosher and others not?

Are you Christian? Is Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God?

What do some of these have to do with orthodoxy and religion?

Everybody who follows any of these has to put a faith in the parts they do not understand or for which they do not have empirical proof.

We do not have missing links for evolution, so faith is needed.

There is no proof denying the existence of God, but there is no empirical evidence of most biblical miracles. Again, faith is needed.

Many hold claim to truth, all offer proof of what they hold to be true (or hold some things to prove nothing can be proven), and all have to start with an idea of what they hold to be true or should be true. This means we all need some faith to believe what we hold to be true.

What we believe to be right (orthodoxy) shapes what guides our decisions and actions (religion/orthopraxy) which define the way we interact with life.

And now for an in-your-face, controversial statement:

If you claim to not have an orthodoxy and/or religion, you are a liar and a hypocrite.

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 05/15/2011

Sorry for missing this past Sunday. I am not really sure what happened! So, I have two for you this week:

confusion

daniel m  klem

all of the things

that You send down

confuse people

make them frown

if only they knew

where they could look

the answers are

in the good book

just turn to the

bible for help

and then maybe

you will not yelp

and crying will

stop and cease

because we try

to make Him pleased

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p.  36.

discouragements

i go through life facing discouraging times

but i serve a God that is greater than these

through His Son i can get abundant strength

and in His Name move as though with great ease

because God is the biggest in the universe

i will not be overcome but find an everlasting peace

“I am not discouraged,

Unless the situation I face

Is bigger than

The God I serve.”

–P. L. Liddell

Taken from simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p.  37.