Tag: Christianity

Should Yoga be Taught in BC Public Schools?

UPDATES: RESPONSES below added

 

 

The following is a real dialogue between a British Columbia parent who didn’t like the idea of their child doing yoga without their permission in what they thought was a secular school.  Note that the parent received no further communication after sending their time-consuming response below:

Original Email written by Teacher to Parent

Mrs. “Grade One Teacher” has expressed that you are concerned about ‘yoga’ done during Physical Education/ movement classes that I teach to the grade ones.

I want to assure you that there is absolutely no religious/nor any teaching of where ‘yoga’ has come from.  Instead, as per what the B.C. curriculum asks teachers to teach, ‘yoga’ or ‘stretching’ as we often  call it, is focuses on stretching our bodies safely to prevent injury. Some of the stretches are a little harder to do than others, and the students are always told and reassured to try out the stretches but to listen to their bodies and not do anything that will hurt themselves.

Part of the curriculum for Physical Education is to talk about ‘healthy living’ and students often talk about stretches that they do when they play soccer, baseball etc.  The terms ‘yoga’ and ‘stretching’ have been
used in class interchangeably, as many students practice yoga outside of school and recognize some of these stretches mimic yoga moves and stretches.

Please let me know if you have any further questions,

Response from Parent to Teacher

Hello “Teacher”

Sorry for the late reply.

Thanks for your email and for taking the time to send us an email in regards to our concerns.  You are correct that we are concerned.

Here is a quick link to show that we are not alone in our concern about the introduction of yoga into the public school system:
http://bismarcktribune.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/school-adds-yoga-to-physical-education-curriculum/article_824bc80e-4807-11e2-8f30-001a4bcf887a.html

Although I’m sure the Minister of Education wholeheartedly believes what you explain about yoga being ‘non religious’ a basic search will reveal that Yoga is absolutely rooted in Hinduism and eastern religious
practices.  We did not have any participation in the decision to implement yoga in the public school curriculum, nor do I recall being notified that this practice would be included in the curriculum, but I’m
also very busy so it’s absolutely possible that we missed the memo – and it’s not like I’m on the PAC even though I really wish I was.

For us it’s not about whether or not the the historical teachings of the religions are taught or not with yoga that concerns us. In fact, a neutral, unbiased course on all world religions could be quite
beneficial in helping kids understand more about the religious backgrounds of the students in their class and the world around them.t teach about different world religions at home for this very reason.  We have several friends who have turbans, for example, so we explain about the turban and Guru Nanak before we go to their home so they are not without understanding and can even engage in meaningful
cultural-crossing conversations.

However, what is happening here at Gray Elementary is not the teaching about yoga, but instead the *participation in* the physical movements of yoga, which is a spiritual activity involving the union of mind, spirit, and body which is even deemed dangerous by people who practice yoga at
the highest levels.

Simply put, to ask a child to *participate* in yoga, which in its very name comes from Hinduism and such practices, should not be included in a secular school system curriculum. Incidentally, I have several Indo-Canadian friends of said religions who agree with my position, even though they deem the practice to be beneficial to themselves.  They understand and agree that it comes from these eastern religions and are also confused as to its presence in the public school.

Our position is that because we enrolled our daughter in a *secular* school and we are not comfortable with our child participating in non-secular activities such as Yoga without our consent.  This would include Tai Chi, and other similarly rooted activities.  Stretching, inbthe way that a runner would stretch before a track meet, is absolutely fine, of course.  That is, unlike Yoga, is “just stretching”.

We thank you in advance for understanding our position as it pertains to parenting in relation to our daughters participation in school activities.

In a similar way, do not hesitate to let me know if you have any further questions and thank you so much for your hard work teaching our child.

Sincerely,

Parent

Response from School Principal cc’d to ‘unknown other recipients’

Good afternoon Mr. Parent,

Ms. Yoga-Teacher informed me of your concerns regarding the movement class.

Please be assured that if you choose for your daughter not to participate in the stretching class, an alternate activity will be found for her. Please inform either Ms. Yoga-Teacher or Mrs. GradeOne-Teacher if that is your wish.

Regards,

Response from Parent back to Expanding Party

Hello “Principal”,

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.  I’m very pleased with all the professional response we have received.  “Nice” Elementary is undoubtedly a great school and we are very thankful for all of you and your hard work.

We are still slightly confused, though.  Is it a stretching class “Daughter” will be doing, or will she be doing yoga?

As we have stated, we are fine with stretching (ie. track-and-field).

However, we are *not* fine with yoga. (ie. rooted in eastern religion(s))

It seems as though the two terms are now being used interchangeably as if ‘yoga = stretching’.  But yoga does not equal stretching.  Yoga is yoga. If we say ‘it’s fine for her to do stretching’ and then she ends up doing yoga, this would be a ‘challenge’.

On another note, please rest assured that we are not trying to be a pain.  My dad was a teacher and I know you don’t need extra admin added to your jobs.  However, I think we’ve presented a pretty good case here
on the topic of secular vs faith-based activities.

I should also state that I would not be whatsoever offended if Christmas activities were removed from the menu as well, and diwali.  all for the same reasons.

A kind of ‘solution’ that I was thinking about is to keep this kind of simple that would be permissible:  When “Yoga-Teacher” is doing yoga-related activities, “Daughter” (and anyone else who wasn’t comfortable doing yoga) could be instructed to do “standard track-and-field stretches”.  We would be fine with that.  We don’t want to make this annoying.

And on a final note, how does a parent get involved in the decision-making processes that lead to activities like these being introduced into the curriculum?

I won’t deny that I was pretty shocked that yoga had landed in my daughter’s grade one curriculum without even a consent form…

Thanks again for all of your feedback and response.

Sincerely,

Parent

Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Is the Current Christian Church Biblical?

As I trudge along my spiritual journey to meet Truth Himself (Jesus is Truth)(remember that famous scene when Pontias Pilate said ‘What is truth?”) I have now come to what I used to think was small potatoes – the church.  I always used to view ‘the church’ as a kind of vehicle that helps you get to heaven – kind of like how a school is a vehicle that helps you get a better job.  It turns out both were lies.

Ack!  I’m pretty sure I just saw the Pope drive by my front window in a lowered car with tinted windows…

Wait Pope Daddy!  Let me explain!

In both cases, it’s about who you become, not where you go that matters and in both cases it’s about the people, not about the building.  I won’t waste my time on the education topic but I am eternally interested in the church and what God thinks about it and my role in it.

The purpose of this post is *not* to be divisive and appear heretical.  The purpose of this post is an honest search for truth.  The cults of the world absolutely love to point out that ‘Christianity is full of denominations so it can’t be the truth’.  Even the Catholic church uses this point.  And they are right.  It is all messed up and fragmented and not as it appears as the bride that Jesus is coming back for – without wrinkle or blemish.  This current church is blemished up the kahuna!  I have no idea what that means by the way…

Before I hack away like an angry health inspector on all the issues that I see with the current ‘church machine’, I’d like to first acknowledge that problems had already arisen and been identified in the body of Christ throughout the new testament.  Sometimes I like to point to the first church as a model but it wasn’t without problems either.  Nor should that be surprising.  Satan is on a full attack against the Truth.  Satan has little interest in deceived organizations.  They are already his.

So from Revelations 2-4 kind of range (I’m too lazy to look it up) the body of Christ already had the following major issues that Jesus was giving first hand warnings about:

  • false apostles
  • deeds of Nicolaitans (whatever that means)(probably liberal Canadian views on everything)
  • eating food sacrificed to idols
  • fornication/sexual immorality
  • dead religion (church zapped of everything)
  • lukewarm lazy slobs in need of nothing from God

I kind of paraphrased but whatever – read it on your own dime.

Here are the issues I see with the current church machine:

Elevated Role of the Pastor

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers

In the above list you will note there are five (5) key roles that God gives people.  The current pastor is expected to be all five which is bad for him, and bad for you – and it’s not from God.  Side effects from this lop-sided spiritual distribution may be:

  • excessive stress on the pastor
  • top-down incorrect theology trickling down
  • controlling and manipulation

Salaried Pastor

It seems that the default position of the pastor is to be salaried, instead of defaulting to tent-maker.  I have no idea where this one came from.  To me this is just illogical and bad business.  When you start a business, the co-founders starve and flip burgers at night until there is enough customer base to generate their income.  If they don’t do this, investors will look at the operation and ask why they should be funding their steak dinners and car payments.  Sorry to be so nasty on this topic but I read in the Bible that Paul made tents so his salary wasn’t a burden on the church.  That’s biblical.  The side effects from a salaried pastor may be:

  • pressure to take up more offerings
  • pressure to focus too much on the offering
  • pressure to teach the old testament tithe as new testament law
  • Guilt on the pastor for being a burden on what may be a small group (I assume this?)
  • temptation *not* to preach messages that might offend the people who drop the largest offerings
  • temptation to preach endless messages on financial giving
  • temptation to do what the elders or other board members think is best even if it’s not God
  • etc

Again, to me this is just basic business.  I have no problem giving a salary to any God-serving man or woman but it has a long list of potential dangers that I believe are to be avoided.  Just to be fair, the argument *for* the salaried pastor is to free this person up for the full time work of the ministry.

No Hard Preaching

The Bible is full of hard truths.  Pornography, for example, is both idolatry and fornication and divorce is unbiblical and damaging to everyone involved.  Oh, and of course the ever-distracting theme of homosexuality.  The only time that one is preached is when it’s being preached against and the impending destruction on our world like Sodom and Gomorrah.  Fair enough!  That’s true.  But isn’t it exciting to think that we can actually be the ones to help all these people above get free and HEALED!!???????  I know!  Make me walk the plank!  What a rebel rouser!  Excommunicate him!  Firing squad!  Sheeeeeeeesh.

If a full-blown sinner involved in, let’s just say fornication or adultery, can sit comfortably in your church for a few weeks, you need to seriously question which parts of the Bible you are preaching (or not preaching).  But we can’t just preach them out without letting them know there is a glorious freedom to be had.  The best day of my life was my born-again birthday when I realized the chains of my sins were broken and powerless over me and my relationship with God.

Elevated Physical Position of the Pastor

This section may just be my opinion (warning).

Not sure why this bugs me but I have always been bothered by the uni-directional, slightly elevated position of the pastor.  Usually there are a few risers and then a big pulpit.  Then off to the side is the rock band.  It just always seems like a ‘show’.  I suppose it comes from the need to project the voice and hear everything in times past.  It’s probably that simple.  But it feels like a university lecture hall with a rock band.  Who in the world participates or interacts with those?  Answer: No one.  And if you do, the other people don’t like you for interrupting the speaker.  So, I suppose if the whole goal of ‘church’ is to show up and hear a uni-directional message from the Bible without interruption, then mission accomplished.  But what if the pastor is preaching something that is totally off base?  What if something is burning inside of you from the Holy Ghost and God is telling you to share it with His people?  What if you are a prophet and this message must get out?  I’m sure God will forgive you for not wanting to interrupt the speaker for the sake of order.  Plus, you could email it to the mailing list after… HA?

Elevated Physical Position of the Worship Team

The more I look at what satan is doing in the secular world with music and idolatry, the more I am concerned about this ‘worship team’.  I saw a trailer for an upcoming movie on a secular kids DVD this week.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bunch of tatooed hipsters with nasty haircuts, torn jeans and the like jumping around on a stage with all sorts of acid-induced lighting.  Had I not seen the words of the song on the screen behind them I would have surely thought this was a secular rock concert.  Every part of it looked secular.  It just kind of creeped me right out.  That’s all.  It was one of those ‘this is wrong’ moments. I don’t want to dwell on the ‘christians looking like the world’ topic but the ‘rock band’ thing really seems to be established in the weekly worship.  My idea was always ‘what would happen if we stuck the band BEHIND the congregation and started worshipping?  My guess is that no one would know what to do or how to worship – which is just plain disturbing.  Disclaimer: I have not run the test to check!

Boxed Lunch Set Meal

I also like to call this ‘compartmentalized faith’.  It’s also known as ‘the Sunday Christian’.  It’s the packaging up of our faith into nice little sections of our life, right down to the way we perform our ‘service’ (which by the way 5% of the people serve and 95% are served by the 5%).  It looks a little bit like this: quiet music, intro prayer, praise and worship team rock out, optional hymn(s) here, main prayer, sermon, closing prayer, optional communion here, the blessing prayer thing, a little more quiet music, hand shaking, optional meals, departures.  Repeat next week.  Sometimes in between there might be a prayer meeting or a cell group meeting but not usually.

All of the above is fine, per se, but I double-dog DARE any of you to try to change ANY of it.  I DARE you to listen to that still quiet voice inside of you and obey it and see what happens.  From my experience, the program dominates.  As a quick example, God might be leading the praise and worship team to continue.  After all, in heaven all we are going to do is worship God so maybe we should practice this blessed skill here a little more.  But if the clock says to stop and God says to continue…… who will win?

So, in conclusion, the program, the compartments and the order seems to win. I want to also declare that I love order and habitual things can be very good.  It’s very good to wake up with an alarm clock and read your Bible.  But these things cannot rule over the voice of the Living God and prevent our obedience to Him.

I do boldly declare that the church has become ‘meeting focused’ not ‘Christ focused’.

Lacking Discipleship

This again is not really the ‘fault’ of the pastor or ‘the church’ per se, but a cumulative result of the reliance on the Boxed Meal Comfort Syndrome (BMCS).  It’s much more comfortable to commit to one or two hours per week.  It’s much more comfortable to not open our ugly closets of sin and selfishness to our brothers. It’s much more comfortable not to look at their closets.  It’s much more comfortable to not pray with others and hence not be responsible for watching a failed prayer.  It’s much more comfortable to walk by programs than by faith.  It’s very comfortable to be a modern day Christian in a first world country and I’m no exception.  But Jesus said these troubling yet exciting words:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (most translations say ‘making disciples of all nations’), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  (Matthew 28:19)

Jesus’ disciples didn’t wake up one day and know everything.  They lived and breathed the Living Word and then put into daily practice the command of living out the commandments.  We are to spend time and mentor others the same way that Jesus did with them.  That’s our model and it works.  If the business world has figured it out maybe it’s time for the church to revisit this one?

Limited Bible Knowledge

I’ll keep this one short and simple.  It’s shocking how little the people in your church know about what’s really in the Bible.  All of the above explains it though.  But no wonder we are lead to and fro by every wind of doctrine and food for the wolves.

Superficial Relationships

This is typically a by-product of the Boxed Lunch Meal above.  It’s very, very difficult to build meaningful and deep relationships if the only chance we have to do so is at the handshake and departure section of the Sunday meeting.  Many people are surprised to learn of sudden divorces, pornography addictions, adultery and more.  Why are you surprised? You don’t even know these people beyond a handshake.  If you were in their lives I’m very confident that God would have shown you the red flags waving and used you in some amazing way.  But you just saw their surface smile, not their dark broken insides.

I also feel that this is one of the reasons why the love is disappearing at an alarming rate from the church and why believers are turning to every other form of deception.  If true Christ-like love flowed like a river amongst your body of believers (the church) you would hunger and thirst for their fellowship.

Programs Programs Programs

This is another by-product of the Boxed Lunch Meal above.  The only way to deal with the scriptures that the Bible talks about related to outreach and work while maintaining the church machine system in it’s current state is to create programs that fit within that system.  I’m very glad for the good deeds being done, but I have to be honest. I don’t want a program.  I want a relationship with God Almighty and I’m pretty sure the people on the receiving end of the program do too.  So, as long as that is the goal and every single person in the group is going down this road, hallelluyah!  But a lot of people use ‘programs’ to appease their conscience which knows that they are not growing in Christ, nor doing the works themselves.  So they fund a program or join a few times here and there.

In Bed with Big Brother

This topic is interesting.  It seems as though either the church hasn’t thought of this or doesn’t know. As mentioned in another one of my articles, if you would like to see what any church (or charity) has done with their money in Canada, all you need to do is click this link to our friends at the CRA and take a peek.  Here, try for yourself.  Enter your favourite church’s name and watch the results!

That’s downright disturbing for so many reasons, but if you are familiar with the mark of the beast in Revelation, that might be a good place for you to start your research.

The church signed up for that deal, no question, and if any persecutions started one could simple shut down the church…. except for one problem: Everyone who has ever given money to said organization for the bliss of a tax receipt is also now linked by their social insurance number (SIN) which is linked to this blissful believers home address.

If I were a man given to fear, that would be scary….

It seems to me as though wisdom would call the Body of Christ to seriously and quickly question whether this is in the best interest of themselves or their congregation but I have a strange hunch that this will be a very tricky habit to break free from if one were to try.

Those tax deductions are like catnip to a cat.

Christmas and Easter Focused

I’ve done lots of writing on this topic and you can search this blog for it.  I’m kind of bored of the topic. I have decided both Christmas and Easter have nothing to do with Jesus and should not be a focus.  Yet every church focuses on these two days.  Enough said. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

Non-Local Congregations

This is another smaller point but I just want to point out that in the current church machine many well meaning people burn a lot of gas driving to congregations.  I feel that the more local we are, the more relevant we are. Simple as that.

Sunday Worship

Another small one.  I know the ‘day’ doesn’t matter, per se, but it’s just kind of weird that Christians meet on Sunday and not Saturday which was the sabbath.  I don’t want to spend too much time or energy on this but it is worth at least asking ‘why’, isn’t it?  Sun?  Day? Why?

And that just about wraps up what I thought was going to be a 20 minute post.  I have now grown older and grey and my bladder is about to explode so I must bid thee farewell, thou who readeth.

Blessings to you.

 

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

House Church Vs Brick and Mortar Church Building

Is it better to meet in a church building or be part of a house church?  I have asked myself this question for over 10 years now.  Perhaps it’s because all the ‘downsides’ of brick and mortar churches is repeated to me every seven days like clockwork, but it’s due season for me to spit my thoughts out here.

Please also understand my heart before reading.  I want nothing more than to be as effective for my God with the limited time I have left.  The purpose of writing this is that I’m hoping to make some big life decisions that will glorify the God who saved me and increase my effectiveness for Him on this earth.  Please also note that I would like nothing less than any further division in the body of Christ.  I hunger for the day when all the brothers and sisters will worship together in preparation of the wedding feast.

However, I am compelled.  It’s like a bitter scroll in my belly….  so let’s get into it, shall we?

To begin, I thought it would be best to create a simple pros and cons bullet list for each which could be edited over the years.  Perhaps someone might read this post and even feel compelled to participate.

Clarification: please note that the usage of ‘house church’ or ‘home church’ does *not* mean watching your brick and mortar church’s sermon on a live internet stream from the comfort of your bed.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Brick and Mortar Church Systems

Pros

  • Big Brother Approves.  Is approved by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you) and should therefore be left alone until official government sanctioned persecutions begin.
  • Unilateral Theology Controls.   The theology can be ‘kept in line’ by the pastor or trained clergyman (or whatever title they get) and rogue spiritual renegades can be shut down before they mess up the faith of others.
  • Nice Building.  Convenient church building designed for the assembly of large groups together
  • an unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to a church to hear about God rather than your living room or patio (have not surveyed to find out)
  • Separated Children’s Church.  Yay “Children’s Church”!  (get those noisy kids outta there!)
  • Cell Group Option.  Can implement ‘cell groups’ to counteract the con list below and simulate a ‘house church’
  • Potentially Local.  Could be ‘local’ if the brick and mortar building happens to be near your house.  Or,  you could seek out such a church.
  • Building Rental Option.  Could rent space in existing building instead of buying or building a church to save funds.  Also, sharing with another congregation, like we do, is possible.  But that’s another entire series of ‘pain’ not to be discussed here.

 

Cons

  • Big Brother is Watching.  Is perfectly known by governments, municipalities (and all those creeps who spy on you), and when official government sanctioned persecutions begin, every single member who has made a charitable donation can be found and ‘dealt with’ even if they don’t happen to show up that week for the cattle herding.  If you don’t believe me, try searching out your favourite Canadian church here and realize that your SIN number is connected to this charitable tax number.  You can run, but you ain’t hidin’.
  • Unilateral Theology Stream.  The theology of the person delivering the messages might be messed up.  In fact, the person him or herself might be messed up both spiritually and personally.  Their theology and theirs alone will likely be the only teaching you get
  • Shallow Relationships.  Many believers find the large, convenient building of the church to be cold, disconnected, and impossible to find relationships in, even with the help of friendly ‘greeters’ and ‘fellowship champions’ (it’s easy to get lost in a crowd).  It’s very difficult to build deep relationships with your brothers and sisters.  In our case, we have a great meal every single week, prepared by the members yet it is only a rare occasion where the deep things of God are discussed and lives are penetrated. The depth of penetration into each others lives, from my experience, is average at best, but even superficial as a norm where it is not uncommon to not even communicate with someone for half a year.
  • Atmosphere of evangelism.  An unbeliever might feel more comfortable showing up to your patio or living room to hear about God rather than a scary church where their only goal is to preach damnation and sin (that’s what many think)
  • Separated Children. Almost 100% of brick and mortar churches have “Children’s Church” which is, essentially, firing them off to a separate place.  Should children be separated from worship with their parents?  The debate is on…
  • Cell Groups as a Program. Although there may be a “cell group” system in place, the physical brick and mortar con list (ie. costs, drive to main meeting, etc, etc) remain and the cell group is really just another “program” from the main church subject to the same folks and agendas.
  • Waste of Time and Gas.  In our case, we drive nearly 40 minutes each way to go to a building which is composed of probably 50% members who live where I drove from!  This is folly for the following reasons:
    • it blows gas into the air which makes our air suck
    • the gas costs money which could have been pumped into your favourite ministry.  On today’s standard for a quick calculation, there is no way that trip is going to cost me less than $5 each way or $10/week if we just go to one meeting.  My wife goes twice so that’s $20/week.  $20 x 52 weeks/year is $1040.00.  Read that again.  Now think about the World Vision ads and think that you could have kept *THIRTY FIVE* children alive last year instead of death by famine.  I’m just saying.  This one hits me real hard with kids of my own…  I almost want to say ‘shame on you’ but I know that we are all doing the best we can with what we know.  Carpooling would obviously reduce this but still…
    • unless your stereo is turned off, there are no smart phones or tablets, and you are hyper-focused on speaking to each other, it’s a waste of time
  • Locally irrelevant.  With a house church you can penetrate and focus on your geographical area.  Realtors call this ‘farming their area’.  Is there any hope of us farming a 25 km area for Christ?  Do I give a spiritual rats behind about a community 25km from my house?  It’s so far away you might as well call it a missions trip!  What I see in the Bible when I read it, is ‘hyper-local’.  The people who meet together also live there and serve there, with the exception of the missionaries, evangelists, etc, who are always moving on.
  • Geography over Theology.  In order to be as local as possible, if you agree that local is better, you are forced to accept a church and its beliefs because it’s close to your home, not because it’s close to what you believe.
  • Performance Atmosphere.  No matter how you design the brick and mortar building, it always ends up looking like an stadium or auditorium where one person is up on a platform (and usually their musical rock stars as well). It’s hard not to view the entire experience as a ‘performance’.  Those who need accountability will often find none and when questions come up, one is forced to ‘save it for later’ rather than simply ask.  One might ask ‘how do we reach the deeper parts’ like this?  Also, except for when preaching to the sinners is happening, I don’t see any example of this format in the Bible…
  • It’s expensive.  If you happen to have $500,000 to $3,000,000 to build a basic local church, that’s just the beginning of your pain.  The operation costs can be fierce.  With a house church the infrastructure is already in place and being paid for.  The ‘landlord’ can be paid with milk and cookies or a kind word of encouragement.
  • Sitting Ducks.    If you read the end time prophecies at all, tying your place of worship to a piece of land seems, at best unwise.  Should persecutions arise, all the enemy has to do is read the sign on the billboard and show up Sunday morning with their thugs.
  • Immobile.  As they say in real estate, it’s impossible to move land.  What if something changes where, say, 75% of the congregation moves 30km away from the church?  Too bad you just spent $3,000,000 on that fresh building with the big sound and screen…
  • Tradition Rules.  What if God wants to do something new and fresh?  It seems like just walking into a brick and mortar building breeds an expected protocol that looks something like this:  meet a greeter, take your seat, kid’s truck off to children’s church, rock band plays a few songs, choir sings a few songs (to appease the oldies, of course), the Lord’s prayer is repeated, the Apostles creed is repeated, some opening prayer happens, the sermon happens, communion may or may not happen, closing prayer, blessing, the people chat, the people eat (optional), the people go.  Repeat seven days later.  In fact, some churches even write this order into their bulletin board so newcomers can be sure to fall back on the paper if they don’t know how the program is going.  Ok. No secret, this one really bugs me.  I don’t see God as being so small that we can put him into our program or box.  What if God says “Keep the music going.  I like this.”  Would you look at the clock and follow the bulletin?  Or would you listen to God.  I think in a house church there is a much greater chance of listening to God, but – I could be wrong.  I’m not against order, but I’m against the order being above our God and having it tell us where to go rather than God.

Well, I feel like I’ve missed some so this will probably be a work in progress.  I would love for others to throw some comments in here so that I and others can make the best choices as we move into the future.

May all of you readers be blessed wherever you are, though.  I love you in Christ.

Tags : , , ,

Aliens Among Us

The existence of aliens has been debated for a long time.  It’s time to end the debate.

Aliens are real – and they are among us today.

However, the true aliens have escaped us because of those deceptive fake aliens (those green things on TV and in the movies).  It is the goal of the fake aliens to make us feel that there is hope in them (external) when in fact, when the truth is that hope lies within (internal).  It is the goal of the fake aliens to divert our faith to think that salvation is found in them, but it is the ‘true aliens’ themselves, and them only, shall be saved from the certain end times destruction.

And I suspect that you might be one of them – a true alien.

I  know very well a man who, since he was a very young boy felt like he never really fit in.  As a boy he would speak of there being ‘something more out there’.  He would ask questions like ‘what happens to people when they die and where do they go?”  The people around him never had confidence in their answers.  They had nice fluffy answers like ‘Everyone goes to heaven, but not really bad people.”  He was then left to ask himself whether or not he was going to make it.  On more than a few occasions he ended up in a secluded place, far from the city lights, and far from the noise.  He looked up into the vastness of space.  He saw the order.  He saw the majesty.  Deep inside of himself he *knew* – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that this was all planned.  There was order here.  Although he grew up having never heard about a ‘god’ as creator of all of this, he saw and noted the absurdity of the ‘monkey-to-man’ theory.  Deep within himself he knew something was wrong.  He could feel the deception.  He could feel the lies.  He could feel them everywhere.  He felt like he was different – like he didn’t belong.

At age 14, while watching TV, a string of advertisements came on.  I remember him explaining how he could feel the ‘manipulation from the ads’ and how it was ‘changing him’.  From that day forth he never turned it back on.  At around that age he asked his best friend if he ‘believed in God’.  He didn’t but he invited him to join his family at a standard Christian church.  His dad always provided candy and bubble gum afterwards so regular attendance was no problem.  I remember him explaining that even at this church he felt that ‘something was wrong’.  And so he quit church, too.

At public school he observed that the ‘cool people’ weren’t people that he could endure – the superficiality and drive to be the coolest was as obvious to him as a plastic mannequin.  But he also didn’t fit in with the academics and their insatiable and vain pursuit of intellectual superiority.  He found his temporary place somewhere in the middle: with a group of people who similarly didn’t quite fit in with the established social systems.

Throughout those years, drugs, sex, rock and roll were used as a hopeful avenues to find his position and his place in the universe.  He moved from relationship to relationship, drug to drug and song to song, only to find himself more empty, more lost, and fitting in less than ever before.  His ‘searching for god’ was replaced with deep sadness and hopelessness as were his desires to ‘change the world.’  He began to notice how everything was broken, nothing was perfect, and everything was messed up – especially himself.

Not only did he know for sure that he didn’t fit in, but now he had simply accepted his place in this foreign land that wasn’t meant for him – like how a prisoner of bonds might accept the whip of their taskmaster.

And then it dawned on him.

The reason why he didn’t fit in and why he was never satisfied is because he himself was an alien!

This was not his true home!

And he longed so deeply for his home.

Only then did he remember a high school student who pulled him aside on the last day of school and told him that a man can be ‘born again’.  Then it seemed as it were dark folly but now an intriguing proposition.

Only then did he remember how his friend had not only separated himself from their unholy gatherings of hopelessness but it was obvious his entire character of who he was as a person was changed -forever – and for the better.

The young man met him alone and asked him what happened to him and why he was so different now.  He revealed that he was an alien.  At first it seemed weird and grounds for psychiatric evaluation but he listened on.

He explained how the world was lost in darkness but that it was not the way it was designed nor created.  He said that God – the God of the Bible – had created everything and a certain way but the current system was corrupted and destined for swift destruction.  He explained that it was designed perfect and designed for mankind. At that point our young man reflected on those moments gazing at the majesty of the stars, and the breadth of the creatures of the world and the beauty of nature and it all started to make sense.  He went on to explain that the reason he never fit in was because he wasn’t supposed to fit in.  In fact, fitting in guaranteed certain destruction in both this earth and the world to come.  It turned out that this young man was correct about his long suspicion of deception.

He was deceived.

He was alienated from God.

He was an alien in the earth wandering to and fro trying to figure out where to go in darkness.

‘And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness’ – 1 John 5:19

‘Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart’ – Ephesians 4:18

How backwards everything was!

The young man immediately received Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and was born again as described in John 3.

Right away, he realized that he had just become a ‘true alien’.

No longer could he hang out with his old friends who loved their sin and darkness.

No longer did he fit in with the world’s systems.

He was alienated from the world, but, God drew very, very close to him.  So close, in fact, that nothing else mattered.  Knowing where he came from, why he was in the world and where he was going totally transformed his life.

Complaining was replaced with thankfulness.

Hopelessness was replaced with hope.

Deep unforgiveness was covered by love.

Pride was washed away as all his sandy foundations were knocked out from under him and a new foundation of rock was established.

He was now a true alien – called to be separate from this world.

And his joy was made full.

Maybe you, too, are finally ready to be saved.  God doesn’t want any of us to perish in this destruction.  He wants all of us to become true aliens in this world.

Come to Jesus and become a true alien in this world.

Don’t wait.

Tags : , , , ,

How to Gauge your Christian Life

It’s a fact that there are just a few lines to carve into your gravestone or fit into your obituary in the back of your local newspaper.  So what would it say about you?  What would you hope it would say about you?

As a Christian (I prefer the term ‘disciple’ and ‘believer’ so we’ll be switching effective now, by the way), since we have an ever-present awareness of eternity this question becomes even more significant.  For the fool who is perishing in a perpetual state of drinking wine, being merry and essentially living for themselves alone by filling voids that can’t be filled with ‘stuff’ that doesn’t transcend the grave, they would be happy if their gravestone didn’t mention the way they lived and perhaps had a nice line like ‘Bob was a good dad and husband”.  But for the believer, we know that that stuff is just the beginning of the journey – part of the entrance requirement test if you will.  The bare basics, perhaps.  It’s easy to love those who love you, but what about those who abuse, betray, defraud you and those you love?

I came across this most helpful list of cut-and-dry obligations for the believer.  Believers are not subject to the laws of the old testament, but we live lives that *fulfil* them as we live our lives more and more like Jesus through the work that he completed on the cross.  So to look at a list of duties like this the temptation is always to get old-skool testament on oneself, perhaps even spiritually beating oneself down.  But it’s critical that we examine ourselves. Yes, we have a conscience that will tell us right from wrong, but even the unbeliever has that.  We are privileged to have God’s own word as a mirror into which we can see our spiritual reflection.  This post is a good one to take a nice overall look.

However, this list seems to be missing a part of the ‘obligation list’ that is pretty significant.  In fact, it’s the only thing that Jesus commanded us to do after he departed to heaven:

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16: 15

Just to back it up, let’s take a look at Paul’s kind of ‘pre-death message’ in 2 Timothy.  He knew his time was short and was starting to get ready for what he expected might happen to him.  Here is what he had to say:

2TIM 4:1-8

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge he quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. 

For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. 

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;

Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing

And so there is much more to do in our life as a disciple of Jesus than the inward stuff.  Once the inward stuff is rolling, it should be followed by outward proof of faith. The one main such thing is the preaching of the word to others.

You need to seriously remember that Jesus said in Luke 9:23

“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s , and of the holy angels.”

Preach it.  Don’t hide your light under a basket.  Don’t be a ‘closet Christian’.

And stand in front of the spiritual mirror, the Word of God, and let it change you to the way you are supposed to be, not the way the world has deceived you to be.

 

 

Tags : , , , ,

Super Fast Summary of Christianity and the Human Condition

I wrote this to a friend and I think it’s a fine synopsis of the spiritual condition and so I wanted to share it with the world wide webs:

——————————————–

While you are waiting for Dr. Wayne's spiritual
advice, please note that the advice is always the same.  

Here it is in point form because you like point form:

+++The Beginning+++
God made the world and all that is in it so for His glory.

+++The Middle+++
-Adam and Eve screwed up and did the only thing God told them not to do.
-God punished Adam and Eve and we are still living under that punishment
-God promised a way out for those who want it.  He promised a Saviour
-Jesus was and is the Saviour and came via miraculous birth (you might hear
the general public singing songs about this event this week kind of
like how you sing the national anthem and don't know what the words are)
-Jesus was all God.  All man. No sin.  Did miracles. Documented in
history books.  All real.  No fake
-The above is all impossible to believe without faith even though they
are also historical events. That's why there are people who read and
have read the Bible and still reject and deny God and the contents of
the Bible.  Some are even highly intelligent.
-God supplies the faith required to believe to those who actually want
it and want Him.  Most don't.  Most like their sin way too much.
-For those God has called, and for those who answer the call (you have
to answer the phone when it rings if you want to talk to someone, by
the way), hope, love and faith are restored to a ruined man (and woman)
-Life for the believer is full of hope and a joy that cannot be
expressed with human words or understanding because it's not earthly
-Life for the unbeliever is full of hopelessness, depression,
frustration, sin, darkness, and eventual destruction (God can't back
out of His promises)

+++The End+++
-the body dies and rots (there are a few ways this can happen as
you've noticed)
-the spirit goes to heaven (or hell)
-the end.

+++Conclusion+++

Like a prescription to get healthy requires the sacrifice of your
money, the prescription for salvation requires your life.

Yes.  I said it requires your life.  All of it.

If the above diagnosis of today's date is in good order and acceptable
to you, do contact me and I will lead you to the Living Water so that
you also might drink.

When you are ready to lay that life down and pick up the one God made
for you, let me know.

I don't joke around with this stuff.  There is no easy way.

Blessings!

Wayne

-----------------------------------------
Tags : , , , , ,

Jesus is Not the Reason for the Season

MODERN DAY DISCIPLE OF JESUS DECLARES JESUS NOT THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

Before I was a disciple of Jesus, I thought that Christianity and Jesus and all that virgin birth stuff was the root of the Christmas holiday. Even the word ‘Christmas’ seemed like ‘the mass of Christ’ – some kind of ‘Christiany-Catholicky-religiousy’ thing. It didn’t help that everyone around me – including those who attended Christian churches – boldly claimed ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’.

It wasn’t until I actually decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus Himself that some of these claims about Christmas started to show some cracks. A little bit of study on these topics allowed some water to leak out and after digging in to the next level, the ship had sprung a leak and was on its way down.

One of the first thoughts that made me question this Christmas thing was the fact that many unbelievers around me had absolutely no problem ‘celebrating Christmas’. For many of them it was a chance to get more drunk for a longer period of time without work getting in the way. To take it one notch further, when I announced to people around me that I wanted to drop the gift-giving thing from Christmas (at that time it was just because I was broke and realized the nastiness of the commercial aspect of the season on broke people) it was the unbelievers who seemed to be most upset. They said ‘It’s fine if you don’t buy anything but don’t prevent us from buying gifts for you.” It was from these same folk from whom I received emails ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ or “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas’ or ‘I will say “Merry Christmas!” not “Happy Holidays!”’ as if they were standing up for something very dear to them. The notable thing was that I never heard the name of Jesus exit their lips at any other time of the year yet, for them, Christmas was about Jesus? They were ‘celebrating the birth of Jesus’ they sometimes said.

I have to admit – there was something about that ‘Christmas magic’ that compelled me. It had me addicted. Something about those gifts. Something about Santa. Something about that decorated tree. All these things are very deep, cultural, and most definitely unavoidable.

One of the second Christmas experiences that happened occurred while I was living in Korea. My wife is Korean and a believer, so I did Christmas Gangnam Style a few times. It was interesting for me to note that this entire country goes to work and school and don’t think twice about it. The Christians in Korea gather for a service focused on the birth of Jesus and that’s about it. I suppose even this is rooted in the long term connection between the North American and Korean churches. The Santa thing was considered an ‘American cute thing’ and no one treated him much more seriously than you would treat a fast-food mascot walking down the street promoting cheap burgers as you drive by. I don’t recall meeting anyone who would actually lie to their children telling them that this fat old man was real and had God-like moral authority over their lives. It made me question what this time of the year was all about and why I was even a participant as a Christian.

These events prompted me to search the history of all these Christmas symbols. I found that all of them were pagan or secular at best. There was even substantial evidence saying that mixing the birth of Jesus into this holiday was a way for the ‘church’ to be able to participate in the dominant pagan festivities of the time (related to sun gods and other winter solstice events). The ‘Christians’ may have felt left out and wanted a piece of the pagan pie. Or, another view was that they celebrated Jesus’ birth because there was already this event going on so you might as well ‘Christianize’ it. Regardless of the reason, there is no proof at all to substantiate that Jesus was behind this December event whatsoever.

There are, however, many reasons to believe Jesus is NOT the reason for the Christmas season. Here is just a snapshot:

  1. Christmas trees are a pagan ritual condemned in Jeremiah chapter 10
  2. Jesus wasn’t born anywhere near December 25th. All scholars agree on this one.
  3. Santa has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible but instead is a significant distraction from the God of the Bible painting an inaccurate view of our Heaveny Father and the reality of faith.
  4. It wasn’t really until around the mid 1850’s that Christmas was even regarded as a special day in the United States. Before that the celebration of it was even condemned and the existence of a Christmas tree in a church was nothing short of heretical.
  5. {More to be inserted here one day, maybe winter 2013}

After having researched these things and inside of myself decided that as for myself and my family we will not participate in these aspects of Christmas, I started to realize the immense social pressure to do it so as to not ruin the fun for others. In fact, the very day after I decided this, our family ended up at a Christmas event where I was the only white guy (again). Within just a few moments I was handed a big box full of Santa gear and asked to be Santa for these kids, one of whom was my daughter. Instead of ruining the event I decided that I would give them one year’s warning of my non-participation and make sure that as for my daughter, she knew that it was daddy under the suit. The pressure to do all these things is akin to high school social pressure.

The argument against Santa for Christians, with which I concur is this: If you lie to your kids about Santa, what makes you think they will trust you when you are teaching about the God of the Bible? In fact, it is this exact ‘argument’ that many atheists use when trying to refute the stories of the Bible. They say ‘The creation story, virgin birth and resurrection are nothing more than fairy tales like Santa and the Tooth Fairy.” Is this the kind of foundation we want to leave with our children? I cannot stop you from lying to your kids but if mine ask me if Santa is real, they are going to hear the truth in the same way I will tell them the truth that God is real. Our words and actions must line up.

So, then, what is the solution?

I do not have a complete answer yet and it will likely be a work in progress over the next few years. The best one I have heard so far and I will attempt to implement it is the idea of following the feasts and celebrations of the Bible (mainly Old Testament ones like the Passover). This will create a better understanding of the Bible while allowing us to celebrate something with eternal importance. Further, I believe that preparing a solid answer as to why we’re not celebrating the Christmas that the world celebrates will open many doors of discussion.

One of my concerns, admittedly, was that someone might consider me a cult member like a Jehovah’s Witness. So, I think it’s important to create a ‘new thing’.

Something that’s fun: family, friends, social.

Something that’s different completely from the ‘Christmas’ that the world celebrates.

Something that honours God.

 

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,