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It Matters Who Your Friends Are…

There are so many things that are different in our modern world than in days gone by that it is hard to pick out a topic to cover. Recently, however, I have been thinking and studying the effects of good parental involvement and teaching in children’s lives. One of the things in by-gone times that parents monitored were who their children befriended.

Now it seems it isn’t “cool” for parents to monitor something so “personal” as their children’s friendships, let alone to actually teach children that it does indeed matter who they hang out with, and that they need to be aware of the effects of their peers. We all know the peer pressure commercials and they have become a joke. How often, though, do we think about wisdom, intelligence, social manners, morals, etc… when it comes to who the next generation surrounds themselves with?

God makes no bones about it; Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. The teaching here is twofold; walk with wise individuals and you will actually be wise. Walk with foolish individuals and you will be hurt. It is crucial to remember that the bulk of Proverbs is underscoring listening to our Parents’ wise counsel, so the safe assumption here is that this bit of knowledge should be on the list to teach the next generation. Try that in today’s world, and the world will say that you have your nose in the air. That’s the world… so that underscores that we should indeed be teaching our kids to be selective in their friendships and that means monitoring who your children “befriend.”

For us older types, this brilliant Proverb also means we need to take a good hard look at who we attach ourselves too. As one simple example, this isn’t limited to friends, is it? How about our spouses? If we pay attention to the Lord and His guidance, and our blessed enough to stay married, our spouses are going to be one of the major people we “walk with.” So you’d better pick a good one, and not on the basis of the short-lived romantic hogwash love that the world forces down your throat. Do you want wisdom? The first step is to ask God for it, and that will include studying scripture to see what He has to say about wisdom. It is apparent to me that one of the keys is deliberately picking who we walk with.

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Parents; it is your job to teach your kids about God.

I heard something on the radio today that disturbed me greatly.  What was it?  A preacher trying to tell parents the way to tell their kids about God, Jesus, and salvation.  Ugh.  No.  He was tossing words out there like “justification.”  Yeah, say that word to your three year old, and see if they understand.  The preacher was making a point in saying that you just keep telling the child the same thing over and over, and eventually, mysteriously, they’ll get it.

Any developmentalist will tell you that you don’t talk to a three year old the way you talk to a nine year old, it’s useless.  The preacher seemed to think that a child has to jump through a series of hoops in order to be well and truly saved, and that the kid needs to know everything an adult would know, and that the child needs to make sure to be old enough, etc… Well, yeah, children need to have an understanding of who Jesus is, and what He did.  But, Jesus didn’t ask how old the children were who wanted to come to Him.

Anyone, regardless of age is allowed to go to Jesus, in fact, it is encouraged.  The child isn’t going to be able to set down and write out a dissertation on sin and redemption, but that’s fine.  A child’s faith is held up as what we adults are to aim for.  A parent needs to evaluate each child and not compare them to one another.  Some will “get it” sooner than others, and that’s fine.  It is indeed your responsibility to always check along the way, for example, when your child wants to take communion, you need to make sure they do understand what it means.

Further, parents, it is your job to teach you children, not a preacher.  You need to know your own faith, and why you have it, good enough to explain that to your children.  Know faith and grace, know scripture, know Jesus.  Remember your kids are watching you and you need to make sure you realize you are their number one model.  Also, realize your child does not know what you know, you are not your child.  You may know that baptism isn’t required for salvation, and why, but your kids don’t, unless you TEACH them.

Some parents think that they can just give their children books, or have them watch cartoons, or listen to a certain preacher and that will be fine.  No, it won’t.  You are to raise your children up with the instruction that they need from you personally.  Ask questions, and then really listen to their answers.  Listen to sermons together, watch those cartoons together. Read the Bible together, and don’t water it down.

As a final thought; as you walk this road with your child, I would bet they’ll teach you a lot about God too, so be willing to learn.

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Teaching the tithe; holding the church back?

I’m continually blown away with how many preachers get the tithe completely wrong, especially in regards to the New Testament church.  I’m frustrated because I believe if giving where taught correctly, we would have a totally different attitude toward money.  I believe that the teaching of the tithe actually stifles giving.  I can “hear” myriads of preachers groaning, and rushing to claim that teaching the tithe is the only way to insure a percentage of the congregation actually gives.  Meh, that’s no reason to downplay the truth.

The tithe as a tool is fine.  The tithe as an obligation or means to a blessing isn’t.  If you need to use the tithe as an “easy” way to portion out your money, or are called by God to tithe, that’s perfectly fine, I’m not directing this article at you.  There are so many preachers out there making a certain statement that makes me grind my teeth.  What is that statement?  “How much of your income is God’s?”  What do they say the answer is?  Ten percent.  Sometimes they think they go more detailed and say the first ten percent. Wrong answer.

All of it.  ALL of it is God’s, not yours.  Further, if you are a believer, your house is His, your car is His, every minute of your day is His, your business is His, etc…  If we don’t change the way we preach this, we are limiting our understanding of God, and His relationship with us.  You may be called at any moment to utilize anything you “own” for His good.  I’m not saying this figuratively.  It is all His.  What do you think presenting yourself a living sacrifice to Him is all about?

The OT tithes, that were in place for the Jewish people were for them specifically.  And, it was much much more than 10%.  As with the law in the OT, the tithe was to teach us, it was to foreshadow what was to come.  The tithe was so that God’s business could be carried out and that was centered on the temple and the priests.  Guess what, now you are the temple and you are the priests.

If your reaction to this is “Yes! Now I don’t have to give up anything!” then you’ve missed the entire point.  No longer are we legally required to give, now we are to pay attention to God’ guidance on a very personal level and give as we are called.  Free will, cheerful giving.  That is the model for the NT church.  The early church had to be reigned in from giving too much.  The were giving everything to the apostles and those in need and keeping nothing to live on.

I just heard one preacher say that if you tithe you’ll be amazed that you never lack for anything. Bull.  I know good believers who thought they had to tithe, doing so “religiously,” with good hearts and wind up broke and in debt.  Preachers need to preach financial accountability to their congregations.  If you need help, follow someone like Dave Ramsey’s plan in a secular way.  If you owe a debt to someone else, pay it.  If you owe bills, those ARE debt.  God wants you to be a good steward and pay your debt.  God also wants you to be a good steward and quit being a consumer driven by every want and fad.

You are to be responsible and take care of your family, and you are to be responsible so that when God calls on you to give to a cause, or a teacher, or preacher, or to help someone you will be able to do so.    Remember, you are handling His money, not yours.  Are you to give?  Yes.  There are a few examples of where money should go in the NT; to those that teach you in the faith (Galatians 6:6), to those in need (esp. to widows and orphans), and to those who ask.  How many of us really look at Matthew 5?

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Wow.  This only makes sense and only works if we realize all that we have is God’s.  We are to be responsible with what He gives us whether it’s money, time, a house, car, land, a phone, a camera, etc…  We need to be praying to see what God would like us to do with His things, and then yield to the urge of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it is no one’s business to know how much you make, or how much you give.  That is between you and God.  But, be warned, God knows your heart, and He obviously knows what He is communicating to you.  Pray, and pay attention and ask for His help in doing as He directs.

Give generously, give cheerfully, be responsible with your money and make it serve you, don’t serve it.  The tithe is not a requirement for the church, but excuse making doesn’t work either.  As you sow, so shall you reap, and God truly loves a “hilarious” giver, for it mirrors Him and uses what He has given you to further His will.  Could you imagine the things our church could do if everyone embraced this idea?

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Jesus was not a hippie.

I can’t believe I actually have to type that.  I also have to apparently type; Jesus was not a Democrat, Jesus was not a Liberal, Jesus was not a Republican, Jesus was not a Conservative, and on and on and on.  Jesus was God made flesh, the Messiah, the Lion and the Lamb, the only perfect human who was also 100% God.

I’ve heard that phrase, “Jesus was a hippie” from several sources, and it always makes me wonder if the person saying that knows what a hippie was.  It is easy to romanticize political or societal fads and movements, but to associate Jesus with a romanticized version of a historical movement is dangerous in the extreme.  Some people do it to try to sound funny, some do it rhetorically to try to make a point as to how they would like Jesus to be.

Hippies.  What did they stand for?  One of the obvious things was “free love.”  What does that mean?  The idea of free love included an attack against monogamous marriage.  There is also a more generalized idea that a sexual relationship contains no obligation.  Sleep with who you want, whenever and wherever you want.  Does that sound like Jesus to you?

Another aspect of the hippie culture was their advocacy and use of drugs.  One of the focuses was on mind altering substances, such as LSD.  God desires us to have temperance and a sound mind.  We are never to imbibe a substance that completely alters our brain chemistry.  Even something like marijuana, despite its growing positive reputation, can trigger a psychotic episode that can in turn trigger lifelong schizophrenia.  The effects of these drugs on fallen human bodies and natures is negative in the extreme; for the individual, their families, and society.  Do you think Jesus advocates that?

How about peace?  The peace the hippies chanted about is not the peace Jesus preached to us and offers us.  We could have all the peace on this earth we desire and still lack peace in eternity.  Make love, not war.  Sure, that works in this fallen world.  The hippies could flourish here in the US where other people were putting their lives on the line to insure freedom of expression and freedom of speech.  The peace Jesus offers is grace unearned so that we can have a relationship with the creator of all.

How about nature and flowers and rainbows? Jesus is the Word of God, it was by Him and through Him that all was made.  Hippies made the age old mistake of worshiping the creation instead of the creator.  Rainbows should remind us of fallen man, and God’s promises.  Nature and flowers? Part of creation, so are we.  We were fashioned from the ground by God Himself.

As I mentioned before, most who try to paint Jesus this way want Him to fit an agenda that they personally believe in.  It doesn’t work that way.  To portray Jesus in any way other than Biblically is presenting a false Christ.

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Wake up; take back Feminism…

WARNING: This article talks about mature topics that often are disturbing (and should be).

I’m one of those people that believed Feminism was a foul word, tainted by liberal ideology, and something to be avoided at all costs.  Then I woke up.  The original ideas of Feminism are solid ideas, but the philosophy has been co-opted by the leftwing.  In fact, females do indeed deserve to be treated equally to men, we should indeed have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Life; we have the right to not be murdered and killed simply because we are female.  All over this globe, and down through history, a female’s life is often weighed to be less than a man’s.  I believe this is one reason why feminism in this country took a liberal turn; we won those rights and instead of helping other women in other countries, the feminists in this country turned insular and began to morph feminism into something it was never meant to be.

In countries such as China, male life is held more dear than female life.  That is a current fact.  Babies are killed (often before they leave the womb) or abandoned simply because they are female.  Do China’s policies effect this?  Of course they do.  That’s the point.  In this current age of globalization, isn’t it time that we women in the US start trying to help other women in other countries gain basic rights?  Should that not be the true goal of classical feminism?

Abortion policies under the euphemism “the right to choose”  are anti-feminist.  Abortion is a plague that is scarring women and targeting female babies in particular.  The earliest feminists, were (in the main) against abortion.  Abortion kills scores of females every single day, and leaves the mothers scarred and hurting.  True feminists fight for the lives of the unborn, male and female, and strive to make a world where females who are pregnant have the help and support they need through private charities and support groups.

Liberty; we have the right to not be owned by another human being, or by the government.  We should have the same freedoms afforded to males.  The right to influence government policies for one, which obviously includes the right to vote.  True feminism is pro-democracy.  We should care very deeply that there are women living in countries where things like Sharia law denies liberty and freedom to women.

The pursuit of happiness; we have the right, as much as we are able, to effect our own lives and to make them positive.  Around the globe females, young girls and women, even babies, are being sold into sex slavery.  This is not prostitution, there is no real choice, this is rape on a massive scale done in the name of money.  It takes money to fight the love of money.  Capitalism in a democratic society is one of the main ways to insure women have the right and means to pursue happiness.

On the flip side of sex slavery, in many places, women and their sexuality are seen to be bad just because they are women.  Genital mutilation at the hands of traditionalists (especially in Muslim countries) is torturing and disrupting females every day.  Not only does genital mutilation rob women of their God given capacity to enjoy sex, but also disrupts normal waste elimination, and causes additional hazards to women in childbirth.  Part of being a true feminist should be to put your foot down and decry beliefs and customs that call for the physical mutilation/torture of young girls and women.

If I believe my happiness lies in being a stay-at-home wife or that motherhood is my goal, true feminism supports that.  Somewhere along the way someone started teaching that women must become like men, not equal to them, but literally like men.  Liberal feminists look down upon the women who choose “traditional” paths in life.  It is as though they fear all that is male, and must try to force themselves to become the same as that which they fear.

It is time that we Christians wake up and take another look at what we can do to support females in this world.  Many have the skewed belief that women are seen to be inferior in Christianity, or that we cannot teach, or serve in the church, etc… This is a false view, and one that I hope to tackle in a future article.  Also, read up on this stuff and have your eyes opened.  It can be a painful awakening, but is necessary if we wish to do right by the females in the world.  I recommend the book, and PBS show “Half the Sky.”  Yes, watch out for liberal ideology, but gather and gain the knowledge needed.  Also, if you are looking for a Christian organization helping to make an impact on issues directly related to feminism, check out Wellspring International.

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Christians and the Environment

Should Christians “go green?”  Is environmentalism a moral issue?  I can only give my opinion on these and similar questions.

Instead of framing the ideas presented by some environmentalists as a moral issue, I tend to see it as a spiritual issue.  Our morality is rarely linked to the environment; sometimes, but rarely.  Instead, what becomes healthy and good for us spiritually?  I believe scripture points us to a balance.   There are several factors to consider when looking at this; First, God did indeed put humans in charge of the earth, which included animals, plants, and the earth itself.  Second, He built the earth to be resilient.

The first point means that we are at the top of the consideration when looking at environmental matters.  Humans are the pinnacle of this earthly creation, and we were to have a ruler-ruled relationship with the rest of creation.  That means humans are always to be considered before anything else (whales, fish, plants, etc…) and also we are more fulfilled when we are stepping up and safeguarding the environment.

The second point means that the environment is far from fragile.  It is designed to be resilient.  For example when a volcano erupts the gases and effects of the eruption, the ripping of the earth, the physical steam, ash, etc… are devastating in the short term, but long term, the earth adapts.  Take an oil spill caused by humans; oil is actually a natural substance.  There is indeed a shock to the environment if oil is suddenly introduced in mass amounts, but it will recover.

The answer then is a balance; we shouldn’t be panicked over the environment, but we are indeed connected to it in a way that should make us responsible.  If we exercise our responsibility we also reap spiritual fulfillment.  Look at it this way; Adam was designed to be placed in the garden of Eden.  He named each animal, and was surrounded by perfect nature.  We, his descendents, can find working with animals, or plants, or cultivating land, or even just being out in nature very fulfilling in a very basic way.

That brings us back to environmentalism.  There are some “duh” aspects to this, and non-fanatical ways to approach supporting and helping the environment.   Is it a moral issue if I use a plastic bag instead of using my own reusable canvas bag at the grocery store?  No, but there is the fact to face that plastic bags are one of the banes of our existence.  They clutter our houses and blow down the streets like urban tumbleweeds.  They wind up in our water systems, and even get hung up in trees.  Plus, if you think littering is no big deal, get a dog you love and try walking it down a street, pretty soon you are going to “get” why littering is irresponsible and frustrating.

Jesus didn’t just come here to fix us, His sacrifice is ultimately going to save and fix the whole of creation.  He cares about the physical earth, why shouldn’t we?  That being said, humans are the main concern of Jesus, He became human. Jesus was so “down to earth” about things, we should be the same way.   We were meant to have an awesome responsibility, and also to enjoy the physical world. We shouldn’t stress about the environment, nor become fanatical about it (fanaticism often leads to a from of idolatry).  The balanced approach is the best approach for us and the environment.

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The fruit of the Spirit, pt. 3; Peace…

Wow… I could write a book about the next word in this series on the fruit of the Spirit.  The third aspect mentioned after love and joy is peace.  “Peace” in the Greek is eirene.  There are distinct meanings to this word, and I’m going to talk about two of them.  In order to understand the second, the picture of the first meaning has to be drawn out.

Peace can be cessation from literal war.  So, you have two opposing sides fighting against one another, and when they stop fighting, there is peace.  So, yes, think of a battlefield, or multiple battles being waged.  There is havoc, and pain, and suffering.  If one side is greatly outmatched, they fear.  Then imagine the tranquility of peace after such a fight; calm, safety, healing…  This is the first sense of the word.

The second sense of peace, is the cessation of “against-ness,” as my old pastor Doc Scott used to explain.  In the case of the believer, when we are saved, God does not hold anything against us any longer.  Think of this way; before we become believers, the Law, that list of do’s and don’t’s, is against us, we stand condemned by the  law.  When held up against God Himself, we totally miss the mark of His Righteousness and we are, again, condemned.  But when grace flows to us through faith, there is a cessation of against-ness between us and God and we have peace between us.

In this life, we will have tribulation, and it does indeed rain on the just and the unjust.  So just what does this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit mean for believers?  Obviously the second meaning; that peace between us and God is the most important point… however, this also has implications for our lives.  Once we have peace with God, He truly becomes our Father, and we have many promises in Christ.  God knows our lives past, present, and future, and when we trust Him, He works in our lives and brings us comfort and reassurance.

God offers us tranquility and peace in the sense that we know He is absolutely in charge, that He loves us, and that His Spirit is working in us to bring us peace.  It is the very peace of Christ that tells us not to be afraid.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The very gospel is called the gospel of peace.  And, again, because peace is the fruit of the Spirit, He produces it in us.  It is not by our own human earthly efforts that we achieve peace, but rather by yielding to the Spirit and resting in Him.  If we want to actively worry and despair, He’ll let us… but His peace is always there for the believer in the midst of our trials and tribulations if we choose to yield to it.

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Book Review; Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Ooookkaayy… this should be interesting.  So, my philosophy is not to comment on something either glowingly or negatively unless I’ve read or watched it myself, especially if it is of a controversial nature.  It seemed like everywhere I turned in Christendom people were discussing this book, or warning others not to discuss the book…so I knew I had to read it and review it.  I have to be clear; this is my introduction to Bell.  I have no former gripe or praise for him, no angle to work for or against him.

Hopefully, I’m going to do something a little bit different in this review, as other reviews have already rightly attacked the factual flaws in Bell’s work.  If you want that style of review,  you can get one here: God is Still Holy and What you Learned in Sunday School is Still True: A Review of  “Love Wins.” I don’t agree with everything in the review, but it gives a good overview of many of Bell’s problems.

No, I want to approach this a bit differently and talk about implications.  First, let me say…I can’t believe this book, Love Wins, was actually published…I mean, I get why.  It’s going to make a ton of money, but it’s content is illogical, and its style is unpolished.  I’m really struggling with this review because I can’t believe that people would change their view on God, Heaven, or Hell based on this book.  The “gotcha” questions Bell proposes in the first bit of the book are easily answered by anyone versed in Apologetics, not just well-versed, just versed.  They are “milk” type questions…and are eerily reminiscent of the list of “questions” found on fundamentalist atheist websites.

For example, Bell asks, “What saves someone?”  I answer, and the Bible answers; Grace through Faith.  Bell asks, “Well, isn’t faith an action, and hence a work.”  I answer; No, something can be an action without being a work.  The Israelites were not allowed to work on Sabbath, were they allowed to think?  Sure.  Were they allowed to love?  Sure.  Where they allowed to trust (that’s faith)? Sure.  So, the big answer to all Bell’s rhetorical style questions is; we make it in by grace through faith, and faith is not a work.  QED.

So, moving on, what do I mean that I want to approach this review by implications?  I mean, what are the implications IF Bell’s thesis is right?  The implication of Bell’s thesis is that God is a monster…in fact He’d be the very monster Bell decries.  Bell clearly says that love can’t be forced, but the logical implication (reading Bell) is that it can be.  In the end, says Bell, everyone will succumb to God’s love and turn to God willingly.  That is a logical contradiction.  To be free will there must be true choice, but in this case, just by looking at Bell’s title; Love Wins, one can see there isn’t.

“Love wins.”  I didn’t know love was in a competition.  I didn’t know it was out to beat me.  But, I guess I was wrong.  Bell feels that God will so smufficate a person with love, they WILL respond and turn to Him either in this life in the next.  I resent the implication.  I resent his maligning of God’s character and God’s love.  God is not a rapist, nor is He a brainwasher.  Bell’s thesis is creepy in the extreme.  If you want to debate Hell, fine.  Annihilation vs. punishment, fine. Universalism, fine.  I even love to discuss the possibility CS Lewis raises that Hell is locked on the inside. But by claiming that God “wears you down” over long periods of time til you cave…why would anyone think that is acceptable from a Holy Loving God?

Bell’s implication is that God is neither Holy nor really Loving in any true sense, nor Just; He’s just interested in making sure every human being can be put on some Heavenly tally sheet.  Bell’s implication is also that evangelism is pointless, and so is suffering in this life.  What I mean by that is that everything winds up the same for everyone given enough time in the life to come.  A rapist that rejects love and God in this life gets an infinite series of chances to accept God’s gift of salvation, and in fact, will indeed come to accept it because nothing can stand up to God’s love.  We call that brainwashing.  A brainwashed individual is not acting under free will.  Jesus suffered when He observed that He had tried and tried to get through to the Jewish people, but “they would not.”  Why so upset if they were all going to be A-OK through all eternity?

Now, I completely understand someone being frustrated by evangelists trying to scare the crap out of someone to get them to believe in a loving God.  Fortunately I wasn’t raised that way.  For me, it has ALWAYS been about love and choice; true love and true freedom in choice.  I trust God to be just while still believing that Hell is real.  If we want to talk about Him giving every human an equal and fair chance at Heaven, I’m there.  If you want to point out that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, that they choose it, I’m there.  If you want to point out the Devil is not in charge in Hell, and that it may not be all physical torture and pitchforks, I’m there.  But I draw the line at clearly maligning God, Our Father’s, character.

Briefly; other problems.  Horrible hermeneutics, flawed logic, sloppy writing, and whoever set up the actual book format…well, they shouldn’t win any prizes.  Plus, Bell dances around any reference to eternal contempt for some alongside eternal life for others, and ignores bulk passages that clearly indicate that faith in Christ is required to enter Heaven, that we die and then the judgment happens, etc… Not to mention he tries to describe Heaven, and it’s implications…he should’ve left that to Alcorn’s book “Heaven.”

I love books that make readers consider things from a new angle…this wasn’t one of them.  I’ve read another book recently that I guess I should’ve reviewed instead; “If Grace is True: Why God will save every person” by Gulley and Mulholland.  I didn’t agree with them either, esp. since they deny Christ’s sacrifice was necessary; however, their book was set up logically enough to review in a succinct way.  I feel Bell is theologically and intellectually dishonest, either unconsciously or on purpose.  He seems to be the type trying to “out moral” God…it just won’t work, and this isn’t the reference I’d turn to if I were to try.

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Quit mourning your faith…

I’ve found that where there is a group of Christians who are gathered together to discuss things such as salvation, sanctification, etc… with outsiders to the faith, that there is a tendency to grow very very serious indeed, not just over the subject matter (which is indeed serious), but also in manner, and word, and countenance.  I think that can very easily give outsiders the wrong impression of what it is like to be a Christian.  After all, Christ came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.

When there is a group of believers that have become used to singing the old tried and true hymns, but have…grown old with them, oftentimes the singing becomes more of a dirge.  There remains no overflowing of joy or even realization of what the words are actually saying, or their implications of the GOOD NEWS of the gospel.

Why do Christians tend this way, when it is a very very joyous thing to be a Christian?  God is not some cosmic killjoy, nor do we earn extra brownie points the more we walk around with a frown on our faces.  To many outsiders this is a poor witness.  I don’t mean to imply we should be walking around with big silly grins on our faces (if that calls to mind a certain highly popular motivational speaker in the Christian world *cough*Osteen*cough* it is unintentional), however, one of the fruits of the Spirit is Joy.

One problem is that there is a certain fringe segment of the Christian population who has perverted that aspect of the Spirit into some dog and pony show with people laughing and rolling around on the ground/in between the pews.  The joy that scripture speaks of is a calm assured hope and happiness, not some flashy, extremely weird, occurrence.

So, that being said…lighten up people.  If you are a believer, your sins have been forgiven you, you have a whole eternity of joy and peace and fellowship in front of you, Jesus has freed us from the law, we are now enjoying a personal relationship with God Himself.  Smile a little.  There is a time and place for solemnity and also mourning, but there is ALSO a time and place for joy, laughter, hugs, praising with happy, excited voices, jokes, and just flat out enjoying the life that God gives us, not in a worldly way, but in a way full of grace and peace.

Often atheists especially have a dim view of what it must be like being a Christian, well, let me tell you about my life.  I’m surrounded by friends and family who I know will be with me through eternity, I laugh, watch TV, watch movies, lift the occasional glass of alcohol of my choice, eat what I want, listen to what I want, dance, sing, live my life with the assurance that I’m loved by the Creator of the world, not only that, I have a personal relationship with Him that is very fulfilling and life-giving, esp. when I get to work for Him in some capacity here on Earth.  I go hiking, admiring the work of His hands, I make jokes, and use Facebook, I play XBOX, and write science fiction, and on and on and on.

This world is indeed corrupt and flawed, there are rough times and times to mourn and cry…my family and friends, and God Himself are there for that too.  However, God is truly good, and the news of the gospel is truly good…let’s not be so slow to show the relief and joy and happiness that God brings.

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The Moon By Night…

This is the second in a series about Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin family books.  If you are new to what I’m doing with her books, please check out this link to know what the point of this “review” is about; Madeleine L’Engle.  This book was also new to me, so it was my first time through it.  It is also a good, but easy read.

What suppers did the Austins enjoy? Steak with salad, potato salad and marshmallows, scrambled eggs with hashbrowns and coffee of course, spaghetti, pork chops with turnip greens and salad, stew and salad, hash, tuna and veggie salad, fried chicken with potato salad and lettuce salad, and hamburgers.

What did they listen to in this particular story?  The Emperor Concerto, and the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, as well as Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, also sung a lot, including All Through the Night, Now the Day is Over, I Will Lift Mine Eyes unto the Hills, Tallis’ Canon, and the Eddystone LIght.

What were the kids reading or the adults reading to them? A Connecticut Yankee, Anna Karenina, Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict, and The Conquest of Space. The poem “Patterns” by Amy Lowell was also mentioned.  The Diary of Anne Frank played a bit role, but the play was the focus, not the book.

Their furry companions were in the story a bit less, but still there;  Colette their french poodle, Mr. Rochester their Great Dane, and Prunewhip.

What was the fam up to in this story?  Traveling and camping across country, and lots of people watching.  We also learned that Wallace “Daddy” Austin has a blackbelt in Judo, and were also introduced to Zachary Grey for the first time.  As they traveled they played several games, including one I’d never heard of; the Botticelli word game.  They also did a twist on the alphabet game; going through the alphabet naming a song or poem that begins with the letter; for example A = Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” begins with “Afoot…” and B = “The Blessed Damozel.”  (The only other one mentioned was I = “I Will Lift UP Mine Eyes…”)

Good prayers and quotes included? (BTW, when I can, I try to find the reference and the correct form of the quote,)

“Mark Twain’s” attributed quote, “When I was seventeen I was amazed at how little my father knew about life.  At the age of twenty two, I was amazed how much he had learned in five years.

One that became a theme, “Comparisons are odious” attributed to Donne, Fortescue, AND Marlowe amongst others. lol

One of my favorites from the book:

The Rain is Raining all Around

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.

- Lord Bowen

The themes of growing up and also God was strong in this book; the different characters weigh in either directly or indirectly on their own beliefs or thoughts on God.  I think my favorite character in this one was Uncle Douglas…

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