Categories
Faith and Religion Life Skills Technology

Healthy Biblical Position on Privacy and Security

Second revision: March 17, 2016

The other day I indicated to a Bible-believer friend that I would prefer to only communicate with this person (and everyone else) by means of Telegram or secured email, rather than SMS messaging or totally unsecured email.  To my surprise, this person replied back that they were ‘unsure of their biblical position on privacy’.

Being quite surprised, and being who I am, I replied back in a simple email that “this is not a topic of discussion because it’s so simple” and I blasted out my points.  I am not sorry for hitting this person hard with my opinion, but I am sorry, perhaps about making it sound like the dialogue was one way, and for not dedicating further explanation to my strong opinion.  People like me need to remember that technology for most people is like some kind of ‘magic’.  It just kind of works.  And when it doesn’t work they hate it.  It makes their life more convenient (so they think) and they do *not* want to change what works for them today.  That’s why you will see old people emailing forwarded attachment for young people to waste their time trying to open and then regret wasting their time opening…

But as a first step, I tried to imagine what they must be thinking about in terms of a position and brought it up with another believer and he came up with these things they must be considering:

  • God knows all, and my privacy exists not. If I’m not hiding from God, then why do I need to hide from people/man?
  • God’s will will be done, somewhat independently of my technological choices (Though He will choose to work through man).

I now can see how thoughts like these might actually put someone in a position of inaction or even a kind of technological paralysis, if you will.  Again, I understand more than anyone how making a big technological change takes time and thinking and often gets dropped down the list.

But if you claim to to believe and follow the teachings of the Bible, then you have a much different position to take and to me, this is a very simple position which I established with the following series of questions which needed to be answered:

  • Is technology based in the world, or based in heaven?
  • Did God warn us about end times events?
  • If God gives a warning, do we heed the warning or do we go along as if He never spoke?

And so, this conversation, to me, is very similar to the conversation of “Why should I be worried about the environment if Jesus is coming tomorrow and the whole earth will be destroyed anyway?”  The reason someone would take this shallow perspective about God’s wonderful creation is because the creation scriptures were either missed, or God hasn’t yet opened their eyes.  But it’s certainly *not* the right way to treat the world while you are here.   People who have not yet gotten serious about their privacy and security with their technology are much like those who haven’t spent the time or energy to be concerned about the environment.  Yes, Jesus is coming tomorrow, but before that He has called us to be wise stewards of things while here and respect His creation.  Yes, Satan is having a heyday by spying on you but there are wonderful solutions out there that are not difficult to implement.  But, back to the unanswered questions above:

Is technology based in the world, or based in heaven?

It’s wordly. It’s part of the world’s system.  Although it’s not in the Bible I feel confident there is no internet connection or GPS needed in heaven.  Furthermore, I feel that God has given us creative minds to help protect us against evildoers and the enemy’s work against us and our families while we bring the Good News to a dying world.  Another analogy I thought of was the smoke alarm.  Can God save you supernaturally from the perils of fire in your home? Certainly.  But he has also given us a simple device and a 9 volt battery which allows us to focus on sleeping instead of wondering if the house is on fire….  I really like that peace, but feel free to remove your smoke alarm, cowboy…

Did God warn us about end times events.

Yes.  There will be a mark of the beast which will prevent you from buying, selling, and essentially living normally in this earth’s system.  If you do not believe this will be facilitated by technology, you need not read further – you are out to lunch and seriously need a cold glass of water splashed in your sleepy face. It’s in the book of Revelation.  I think chapter 13.  Go ahead, read your Bible.  You clearly have missed your quiet time…

If God gives a warning, do we heed the warning or do we go along as if He never spoke?

Now, if you thought I was being hard on you up till now, put on your seat belt.  I have a strange feeling you will agree that the prophetic mark of the beast will be a technological device/system/chip/etc.  The Bible also says that we will be ‘hated by all nations for the name of Jesus.” (Jesus said that somewhere).  So I don’t foresee any other future for the Bible believers other than bleak in this world.  That’s also why Jesus said to ‘take up our cross daily’ and why Paul said somewhere “I die daily”.  This world ain’t our home sheepsters.  And so eventually all of us will be persecuted and killed.  Jesus promised it.  It’s a guarantee.  Sure, the rapture might happen before, during or after, but we can be sure that before then the enemy will be gathering digital data on who the believers are for simple one-stop destroying.  If there were no options at all to prevent, slow down, hinder, make more difficult, aggravate, challenge, etc this process, I’d say lie down in a ball and do nothing  because it’s over.  But there are lots of easy, fun, and excellent solutions to make the process much more difficult.  So, do we just go the way of the world in the treatment of our privacy and the privacy of our family, or do we take wise, active steps towards protecting this precious gift called privacy?  Do you let your children change into their pyjamas in front of an open window at night time because ‘you have nothing to hide’, or do you close the blinds as a preventative measure to prevent evil behaviour towards you?  Maybe you want to change naked in front of the window, but please, for the sake of your children, who rely on your wise leadership, close the blinds for them. And do the same with your digital life if not for you, for your children.  God did not put these prophecies in His word *only* as a warning.  A smoke alarm does not sound just to let you know the building is on fire, but to motivate you to get up and *do something*!

Jesus instructed us to be alert and to have our lamps full of oil for we know not when He is coming.  This ‘being alert’ is accomplished through the intellect as well as the spirit.  Jesus also said “Wow.  You guys fully trust your weather network meteorologists but you can’t even see the signs of my coming!”  So, Jesus gives us helpful hints along the way.

Jesus also said that your body is the temple.  I believe that means that we are to do as much as possible to respect that life and preserve it for life is a gift and the life is in the blood.  If you foolishly hand yourself over to be persecuted when a handy-dandy preventative tool was available, that’s just a dog gone waste, in my humble opinionatedness.

Since we are absolutely certain that persecution is coming, we must also be aware that there is a Judas in every group, unless you think that you are less susceptible than Jesus to a Judas.  The Word of God also talks about how our enemies will be those people of our own families for the name of Jesus.  Why do I mention this?  Because it’s critical that everyone be on board with privacy-protecting technology or the weakest link will collapse the group.  Especially if you are meeting in homes and looking less ‘churchy’ than the mainstreamers.

The JW’s like to look at persecution as a blessing but that’s not the blessing God is talking about.  Let’s work with this quick example.

Scenario 1: You are standing beside a railroad track.  You hear a train coming.  You jump on the track and say “God will save me!”  SPLAT!  Ooops.

Scenario 2: You are standing *on* the rail road track.  You hear a train coming.  You stand still and take no action and say “God will save me!” SPLAT!  Oops.

In both cases, you have committed sin.  The first was a sin of action and the second a sin of inaction.

In my increasingly opinionated humility, I believe by not protecting the privacy of yourself and your family and putting yourself in harms way knowing now that there are ways to prevent harm – that you are not pleasing the Lord.

Conclusion

How about this: Let’s forget your personal pain, suffering and inconvenience related to improving your technological habits.  Let’s say you just don’t care about you and that ‘God is coming soon anyway, so whatever.”  By not doing your part you are definitely hurting someone else who values privacy right now, because the seeds of loosely transmitted data are always felt in a crop down the road.  You are also assisting their enemies in all of their dirty work.  You are *not* “assisting terrorists” as the popular media would like to deceive you into believing.  No matter what way you look at this, giving freely *your* data only assists them with the task of hurting you and those around you – perhaps not today but one day. I also don’t mind a little bit of self-inflicted, but I shudder to think that lack of care about myself (ie. an unencrypted email about Jesus to my friend) might wind *them* up in jail or worse.  In this case sharing is *not* caring.

Perhaps you are thinking that by handing over all your data freely that you are helping the world catch bad guys. Ok, let’s roll with that idea.  Then, since you are not bad, you are actually wasting the time and computer resources of these good cops and their spy work because they are using unnecessary resources to spy on you – a good guy.  If you just encrypted, they would have passed over you and moved on to the foolish criminal who didn’t encrypt and caught him quicker.

Ultra Conclusion

The root cause of this ‘position problem’ is not a biblical one but an earthly one.  It’s one that needs to be dealt with in the earthly, soulical, intellectual way with the reasoning faculties that God gave you.  The problem is also rooted in your priority set.  Are you watching TV for an hour a day?  You could have spent that “technology time” learning about privacy solutions instead of having the boob tube pump fear into your heart with unfounded comments like ‘assisting terrorists’.  The other root cause of the problem is habits.  Bad habits die really hard.  The first step to stop smoking is to hear about the possibility that it might be bad for your health.  This blog has now been that to you for technology.  You know now.  You cannot claim ignorance.  The second step is to learn more to find out if it’s true.  This blog is only partly that.  You must now go and learn for yourself to see if what I’m saying is hogwash or beefdirt (just made that up).  The third step is to take action.  Do something.  Don’t just hand everything over to everyone on a silver platter – it’s really unwise – and it’s not nice to people who are trying to maintain *their* right to privacy.

Final note

I know this isn’t easy.  That’s why I’m writing hard to you.  It takes a bit of a kick in the hindquarters to start down a new road.  But here is the great news – each day gets easier.  With the right people around you and with enough time dedicated, you’ll be making great choices for you and your family in no time.  I hope this will spare many of you brothers and sisters a lot of future pain.  I’ll do my best to blog more practical solutions here as I find time but don’t sit around and wait for me.  The answers are easy to find.

And please – don’t be offended someone cuts off communication with you using technology if you refuse to remain unwilling to become proactive; You can’t expect them to put themselves or their family at risk for you when there are solutions available.

Milestones to Start (some are instant, some quick, some perhaps less quick)

Things You Can do Today to Improve

  1. Start hanging out with people who care about privacy.  If most of your circle ‘has nothing to hide’ – you’re in deep doo-doo. Find a local Ubuntu group, for example.
  2. If using chatting IM apps, use Telegram. Telegram has encryption. Ditch the others ASAP. Bring your friends to Telegram when you ditch.
  3. Replace SMS with Telegram app wherever possible. SMS is brutally spied on.
  4. For email set up PGP encryption.
  5. Convert all your current computers to Ubuntu operating system
  6. Get immediately off: Facebook and Linked in and any other compromised ‘social media’.
  7. Ask all of your friends and family to respect you and your privacy by not asking you to participate in anything that violates your privacy (ie. unsecure email, SMS, etc)

Things you can do Today and Tomorrow (money may not permit today, but should be in plans)

  1. Start hanging out with people who care about privacy.  If most of your circle ‘has nothing to hide’ – you’re in deep doo-doo. Find a local Ubuntu group, for example.
  2. When you buy your next mobile device, make sure it’s Ubuntu
  3. Disconnect from everything Google. And I mean *everything* (yes, it’s possible)
  4. Wipe the hard drives 100 times and sell or discard anything Apple/Mac
Categories
Faith Faith and Religion Parenting

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

Categories
Faith Faith and Religion Humour

The Best Way to Flee Naked

I love God’s word.  All of it.  Some of it, I will indeed be asking Him directly about one day for the full revelation but for now, while I’m sporting my patented Glasses Darkly,  I only get a little glimpse.

Today I was reading this unique chunk of spiritual revelation.  It occurred seconds after Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by a big throng of meat heads (or whatever term you choose to label them with):

And they all forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about [his] naked [body]; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. (Mark 14:50-52)

I can  really visualize this scene. It’s very vivid.  All these ‘disciples’ who said ‘I would die before leaving you, Jesus!” run away at the first realization that things might get tricky for them and their Freedom 55 plan reduced in value.  But this one chap (name withheld obviously for privacy and security reasons), not only runs, but runs away naked.

Now that’s some serious fear (with a side order of shame).

This dude operated out of pure fear and even chose the shame of nakedness to make sure he left Jesus in the dust sparing his own life.

And so I sat there and meditated on the Word of God…

…Isn’t it cool how this is the Word of God and you are encouraged to meditate on it??

Then, suddenly, it came to me!  This dude wasn’t the only dude in the Bible to flee someone naked – Joseph did way back in Genesis:

And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what [is] with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; [There is] none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou [art] his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, [or] to be with her. And it came to pass about this time, that [Joseph] went into the house to do his business; and [there was] none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. (Genesis 39: 7-12)

Do you see the spiritual revelation?  There are two ways you can flee naked:

  1. in fear
  2. in faith

Joseph chose the best way.  He fled naked in earthly shame, but in reverence of God and God’s righteousness and God turned his naked shame into unspeakable earthly glory (quite a while later and after some nasty ol’ time in prison).  The great news for the scared naked disciple who left Jesus in the dust is that God is super graceful and gracious.  Jesus died so that this guy never has to run away in fear again – whether naked or fully clothed.

Fear is defeated on the cross.

How will you run away naked today?

Categories
Faith and Religion

Summary, Chart and Calendar of Old Testament Levitical Sacrifices and Festivals

Long title but wanted to make sure the search algorithms caught it so you saved all the search time I wasted!  Even though this post doesn’t perfectly give what I’m still looking for, hopefully someone can take these resources and have enough time to build what I really wanted.  Let me explain what it is I wished I could find online:

–> A simple visual representation of all the Old Testament Levitical feasts and festivals, mapped onto a modern calendar (solar), with simple links to details of exactly what is going on during that day or that sacrifice or that festival or that feast.

Simple as that.  I would be happy to build said chart if someone would provide the text, by the way.

If you happen to find this amazingly simple and apparently missing resource, please share the link in the comments!

In the meantime, here are the closest resources I could find:

  1. Chart of Levitical Sacrifices and Offerings of the Sinai Covenant
  2. Charts and details of Old Testament feast days (note, scroll to bottom on this last one for nice summary chart)

Again, if someone could fuse all of this into one nice, old-school, hyperlink chart that would be awesome.

Categories
Faith and Religion Life Skills

Friends, Family and the Flesh

  • My dear spouse, why do I find it hard to receive biblical perspectives and teachings from you?
  • Why do my family and friends always discourage me from my heart’s desires?
  • Why are my family and friends not as excited about my prospective mate?

Do some of these questions hit home?  For Bible believers, they are tied together quite intimately.

Last night I was starting to sleep when my wife woke me up and asked me, specifically why it is that when I present my spiritual opinion or my biblical perspective on a theological topic to her that she immediately opposes or doubts it, instead of trusting and believing it.

My response that spewed from the depths of my near REM sleep was:

  • the Spirit of God is living in you, so He is safe-guarding you against deception
  • all men are liars and God only is true
  • I am your husband and you’ve seen a track record of imperfection, hypocrisy and failure

As I reviewed my knee-jerk response in the morning, I was actually pretty surprised at the truth therein.  But the cherry on top was that when I opened my Bible for my daily Bible-in-a-year cycle for the new testament, lo and behold I found myself one day ahead of schedule and landed upon Mark 6.  As I read the section I couldn’t help but get excited about how God has been speaking so directly to me lately.  Last week it was a friend from the other side of the country He spoke through and today it was His Word but in the most clear way I have seen yet.  Here is the excerpt with my underlines added:

And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing [him] were astonished, saying, From whence hath this [man] these things? and what wisdom [is] this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed [them]. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. [Mar 6:1-6 KJV] 1

Friends!  Family!  Flesh!

The un-spiritual trinity (lol?)

But seriously.  The only place in the new testament that I can find where Jesus could do no mighty work was in his home town where his flesh was raised.  Now check this verse out:

Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. [2Co 5:16 KJV]

I’m guessing I don’t have to expound too much on anything here.  The answer to my wife is simple: she is my friend, my family and she knows my flesh, too.  I cannot think of anyone in the entire world who could possibly have a harder time trusting my spiritual insight, direction, theology, etc, than my wife.  She has to fight all three.  And so, my new response and suggestion to her would be this:

  • get even closer to God and subdue the flesh and submit the soul entirely to God
  • although you have experienced my fleshly humanity, try to view me as an eternal spirit and a resident of God’s kingdom passing through this troubling life
  • do not *know* me after the flesh.  Know me after the spirit
  • increase time in prayer together – somehow – anyhow

The last one is for some reason the toughest.

Friends and family, although they mean well and care, often times are unable to view their family and friends as spiritual beings but merely as earthly souls.  Hey – they did it to Jesus so don’t expect better from your friends and family.

That’s why the church is so important.  It’s the spiritual family – the one that travels into eternity with us.

Hope this little chunk of insight from God is useful to someone out there, not just Wayne Out There.

Categories
Faith and Religion

The Real Jesus of the Bible

I’ve been a professing disciple of Jesus for about 20 years.  Prior to meeting Jesus personally, I had seen an Anglican version of Him.  It was a ritualistic cookie cutter machine of religious gymnastics.  I realized I didn’t have what it took to become good at this sport so I left.  When I really met Jesus it was through a group who preached that I had to be ‘born again’ to be saved.  Now this was different.  This had something that stirred my very soul.  This had some truth that my soul knew was right.  And so I got born again according to the playbook of many other folks who got born again.  Anyway, enough of my background.  I mention it only to say that I’ve seen the very ritualistic form of religion as well as the more evangelical form of it.  And here’s the part that’s going to ruffle some feathers and backstroke some cats (just made that up):

The Jesus preached to me since my birth is *not* the Jesus I see in the Bible.

And now let me make this a bit more personal for you:

The Jesus you think you know may be a form of dead religious gymnastics, not Jesus the God-Person-Saviour-Christ of the Bible.

or, let me put it a bit more cool-jazz style (start slow trumpet in dark urban alley):

Whatever religious ‘thing’ you’re doing, might actually be *preventing* you from truly knowing our Heavenly Father.

It’s time to take a step back and evaluate where we really are in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and I’m going to help ignite the process by showing some things about Jesus in the Bible that might surprise you.

Jesus Never Fits the Religious Gynmastic Programs

 

1. Jesus pardoned sins while walking the earth

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. (Mark 2:5)

Everyone knows that Jesus healed people.  This is exciting and fine.  But Jesus, in front of the ‘church of his day’ (the synagogue) declared that He had the power of God when he forgave the man his sins.  Shocking would have been an understatement for anyone standing nearby – much more shocking, if you think about it, than the fact the paralysed man stood up and walked.  The healing was merely proof of his former shocking words.  How many times has your church preached this part of Jesus?

Jesus spent time with sinners

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (Mark 2: 16)

It would have been considered extremely poor religious behaviour for Jesus to be spending time with the unclean heathen.  But for this reason did Jesus come – to heal the sick.  Healing the sick offended the religious folks.  This Jesus was offending them.

Disciples of Jesus didn’t fast

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? (Mark 2:18)

The Pharisees fasted.  Even the disciples of John the baptist fasted.  Anyone who was part of any religious team fasted!  But not Jesus’ team.  They walked to a different beat.  This Jesus simply didn’t feel the need to fit in with what was going on.  This Jesus knew who He was and didn’t derive his identity from approval of religious teams and their coaches and their board of directors.

Jesus worked on the Sabbath

And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? (Mark 2:23-24)

According to their rules and regulations, one wasn’t supposed to work on the Sabbath.  And here is Jesus ‘breaking the rules’.  Or…. was He?  Is it possible for the one who made the game and its rules to break the rules?  Jesus was declaring that He was not part of the religious game but instead the Maker of the game.  Surely, this rocked their religious boat.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. (Mark 3:5)

The religious teams considered an act of healing to be ‘work’.  They were so addicted to the comfort of their religious systems that they were unable to even desire to see a man with a withered hand healed.  Their desire to see the cold rules of the law followed to a tee was stronger than the desire to see a suffering person’s pain and burden healed.

The above five events pulled from the Gospel of Mark really require us to sit back and take a look at our own lives.   Pretend just for a moment that you are part of a synagogue of Jesus time.  Let’s pretend that the ‘synagogue’ is called a ‘church’ for fun (it’s just a name of a gathering after all…).

You find out that a certain miracle-worker named Jesus has showed up to town and really offending the churches.  Some are calling him a blasphemer, some are calling him a heretic and a cult leader.  This Sunday he and his crew show up to your church meeting and walk in.  In the middle of the well-planned sermon Jesus puts his hand up and asks why 80% of the males in the group are in bondage to pornography.

An uncomfortable silence follows and the males squirm in their chairs.

Then Jesus asks why there is over a 50% divorce rate amongst you.

Further awkward silence.

Then he asks why there are those participating in holy communion who have wicked lives behind the scene.

Now here is the question I want you to really think about.  If the above were to happen today, do you think the Shepherds and the Sheep of your group would:

a) repent in bitter sorrow and weep over their condition or

b) kick this preacher out the back door for rudely speaking out of turn and mucking up their flow

I want you to think about this.  Really.

But it doesn’t stop there.  The Jesus that I see in my Bible also said this:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matthew 10:34-35)

He also said this:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

And the list goes on.

I hope that I’m mistaken, but I’m guessing that the Jesus above doesn’t match up with the Jesus being preached to you. And that’s why you are in permanent bondage and your life is dark and dreary.  Don’t think I haven’t been there before nor think that I’m fully out of the religious forest.

But great news, folks.  Jesus is not a religious cross-fit program.  He is a Person – and the most amazing, loving, forgiving, life-changing, freedom-providing One I have ever met.

Do not accept spiritual mediocrity.

Do not accept a program to substitute a relationship.

Do not accept a ‘form of godliness’ and deny the power of God.

Decide today that you will *know* your Heavenly Father by knowing His Word yourself.

Turn off the TV.

Turn off the news.

Turn off your cell phone.

Bow the knee.

Our Saviour has come.

He awaits at the door.

He is knocking.

Categories
Faith Faith and Religion

How to be in, but not of the world.

I know.  It sounded like I was going to provide a step by step tutorial about how to both live in the world and yet live in God’s kingdom.  Sadly, I’m just not that spiritual yet.  However, I do enjoy slamming out blogs of things that I’m working through in my own life.

This week, I encountered and interesting situation.  Someone had taken the words of a Bible teacher, believed them, and then acted on them immediately.  For this, the person is to be praised, however, with every nugget of God’s truth and revelation comes the need to seek His divine balance.  Divine balance?  That sounds like a great marketing tagline… but I digress.

The most obvious example is when Jesus instructed his disciples to cut off their body parts if those body parts cause them to sin.  Everyone knows our body parts cause us to sin so if they really believed his words and took action on them, there would have been a bloody mess on the ground.  In a sense, Jesus was correct in that it would have been better to be a bloody pulpy mess on the ground rather than go to hell forever, but He also was standing before them as the Grand Solution to the sin problem.  The balance is to know that the power of God that Jesus allows us access to is greater than the power of the flesh if we believe.  In other words, there is no need to chop off your extremities and leave them for the fowl of the air if bow your head in humility and trust God for the power to overcome temptation.  This paragraph went way too long…

In this specific issue, the teacher was preaching on the final judgement of God and the end of the world, and, of course, the soon coming of Jesus.  This person was impacted by the Word of God and was instantly changed.  I’m assuming that she started looking around the world and saw what the writer of Ecclesiastes saw – that everything in this earth is vanity and worthless.  I imagine that in her heart she started to question whether her pursuit of education and dreams were worth it.  I imagine that deep in her heart she started questioning whether or not she was even on the right path with God or heading down some path created by someone else.  I imagine that she was in a state of deep sorrow, confusion, and possibly even depression.  Why do I imagine this?  Because I, too, was in this state.

When I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus the Christ, I was very despondent when I realized that no one else around me could see the light.  I just assumed that if I shared the revelation that God just gave me that they would see, repent, and follow me on this most excellent adventure (that was an 80’s reference btw for you young lads).  But they didn’t.  In fact, I became as it were an alien to them.  A nut bar.  A religious fanatic.  A cult victim… you name it.  They did not see the light.

And man was I lonely.

However, looking back, I am so glad that I went through that.  It confirmed so many scriptures, namely that Jesus didn’t come to bring peace but a sword and that He came to divide a home, not unify it.  In essence, it yet again proved the Word of God to be ever true.

So, this person decided, I suppose, that there was no point in continuing her education and that she should just take my earthquake preparedness (I always preach that but never do it myself, sadly) advice and just sit back and wait for the soon-coming of Jesus.  I commend her faith but unfortunately that is not a biblical position.  It is lacking in balance.  Here is the balance:

Matthew 24: 36-42:

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

You see, they were working like normal when Jesus came back.  For students, you will be going to school – perhaps in the most boring class of your life – perhaps gazing out the window – when the Lord shall come and retrieve you.

Gen 3:16-19

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

You see, there is no avoiding our nasty toil, whether it be labour in the field, power-washing the cement, reviewing contracts or sitting in the most awful class in the education system.  We must work and sweat while working because of the nastiness of the work.  We’re made and designed to do it until the end of the ages.  Sadly, the proverbial buttercup must suck it up.  There are lots of other scriptures in the Bible about working with good work ethic if you want.

So, we are to live in this secular world (which hates God).

While living here, we are to work hard and be model citizens in the societies where God has planted us.

The whole time we are living in this world we are not to ‘reside’ or ‘stay’ or ‘build our kingdom’ in the world because we are not from this world.  We are from another kingdom – the kingdom of light.  God’s kingdom.

And so we must always find the balance between that temptation to bunker down with our assault rifle and await the certain persecutions against the brothers and sisters and living like sheep amongst wolves in this corrupt world while we await the New Jerusalem.

Thankfully the Word of God, if you read it all, will always, always, always, give you that much needed balance so get in the Word and ask God to show you the Way.

Categories
Faith Faith and Religion

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.

 

Categories
Faith Faith and Religion

How and Why to Start a Church

I decided to blog parts of an email I just sent to my wife.  When I email my wife, by the way, the idea is that she can take time to digest what’s going on inside of me and it allows me time to compose my thoughts instead of blurting them in her face with my nasty style.  Without further adieu, here are my thoughts at this interesting juncture:


 

Here are my thoughts:

1. God’s word is the truth. If there are any questions at all, the Bible is the final judge and decision maker – not us, not a man, not a church, not a movie, etc.

2. We, as a family, should be seeking ‘good theology’. There is nothing stopping us from studying the same theology (and more) than the stuff the pastors study in theology school. In fact, the Bible commands it. We should be hungering meat, not milk. The leaders even more.

3. Our motive should *not* be to ‘invent the newest and best church’: this is not about us. It’s about God. This is God’s bride, and we should not be doing this for any other reason than for his glory. Any other reason is selfish and we should just sit in the pews of our own churches now if that’s our reason. Here is a great little blog I found on this topic: http://pastors.com/do-we-really-need-more-churches/

4. Our motive *should* be:
-for God’s glory
-to know God more
-for our marriage to be restored and built on the rock
-for our children to be restored and built on the rock
-to find out who we really are (in Christ)
-to express our love towards God
-to experience the richness of this thing called ‘the body of Christ’
-to reach the lost
-to feed the poor
-to clothe the cold
-did I miss any?

5. We should not be hungering after ‘plans and programs’.
While cleaning up the equipment with Pastor, it was quite interesting. He never said anything like “Wow, I’m excited that God is doing something so big inside of you!” or “Can you help me understand what God is doing in you?” In fact, he didn’t mention at all the topic of our plan to ‘move on’. Finally during the silence I said “So, I guess you might be wondering about our decision to stop attending?” At that point, his only comment, even though we sent a long letter with our heartfelt position was this “I didn’t see any plan in your letter which concerns me.” I wanted to say “Didn’t you read the part about ‘wanting to know Jesus more’ and ‘wanted to develop relationships deeper’, etc? Is that not a plan? So, what I learned at that moment is that the ‘plan’ means nothing more than “going to a regular weekly meeting at a set location with a set group of believers with a set understanding about the Bible.” I have no problem with set meetings but if those rigid things start to put God into a ‘box’ I can’t do it anymore. I continually think about the Pharisees. They did all the plans perfectly! They did long prayers, perfectly honoured the sabbath, washed their hands, didn’t eat with gentiles, etc, etc. But they also crucified Jesus. Jesus called them in Revelation ‘the synagogue of Satan’. I see how dangerous this ‘addiction to plans’ can be. They start to replace true righteousness with ‘religious righteousness’. They start to replace ‘faith’ with ‘works’. And it’s incredibly dangerous. Instantly I translated his comment about ‘plan’ and gave him the answer he wanted to hear as follows: “We have not been church shopping if you are wondering.” But, he seems to think that we would be ‘safer’ if we were in the lifeboat of a Sunday church program, than starting an adventure on our own. But this led me to think about the early church. There was no ‘program’ for them to plug into. They WERE the church. Wherever they went, there was the church. And growth was also occurring. Anyway, this is a long topic, but the point is that we *cannot* let a program make us feel righteous, but we also should not let a ‘set meeting’ make us feel bad. Showing up to work every monday morning at 9am is a good thing. Rising at 5am with an alarm clock to read the Bible is a good thing. Habits are good. In summary: whatever we do cannot be based on works but must be based on HIM – and if no fruit is growing on the tree – we cut it down and start again.

6. We should base everything we do on a Godly order of priorities. This is my understanding of the order:

1. individual <–> God
2. man <–> wife
3. parents <–> children
4. family <–> family of God (church)
5. church <–> lost

So, if the marriage isn’t good (#2) then items 3, 4, and 5 will suffer. How do we fix the marriage and grow the marriage? by focusing first on #1 – our individual relationship (s) with God. From there, we will be motivated to love our spouse and build our marriage into a glorious thing. Don’t forget that the marriage is a mysterious representation of the Body of Christ (Bride of Christ). God is very interested in our marriage. Another example would be that until we are solid as the family of God (#4) then we should not be focused primarily on reaching out to the lost. I ‘might’ be wrong here, but these are my first gut feelings on the matter.

And, so, to answer Pastor’s very precise question with a precise answer, I believe that our ‘plan’ for the first meeting is to discuss the ‘plan’ above! haha

Let me know what you think, and if you agree, you could share this with the other couple’s and this will form our first discussion topic.

Remember: This last move of God will *not* have a face or a name, and no credit will go to man. God Himself will get all the glory.

Wayne

Categories
Faith Faith and Religion

Time to End the Weak Christianese

Something happened today.  I got an email from someone I know who in normal times doesn’t not freely speak of God or His word.  When in person it would be a rare occasion to talk about the riches of the Bible or what God is doing in our lives.  Then, randomly I got this well-meaning email forward from here which necessitated a ‘holy rant’:

* Hi Lord, it’s me.* *We are getting older and things are getting bad here.* * Gas prices are too high, no jobs, food and heating costs too high.* * I know some have taken you out of our schools, government, veteran’s funerals, and even* *Christmas. But Lord I’m asking you to come back* *and re-bless Canada. We really need you!* *There are more of us who want you than those who don’t!* * Thank You Lord,* *I Love you.* * ** * * “Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil – it has no point.”*

Let’s begin, shall we.  “Hi, Lord it’s me”????  Nice intro!  I can just imagine the omnipotent all-knowing Creator turning around and saying ‘Woah!  You really crept up on me there!  Whassup, kid?”

I have a strong hunch God knew it was you speaking…  but here is the actual copy and paste reply to the email:

Hi!

i don’t want to seem like a downer, but, these kind of messages show that the person doesn’t know the Jesus of the Bible:

1. Jesus was never in Christmas (refer to our age old chat). He was stuck onto a pagan holiday by people who liked the celebration of their days.

2. why should a god that people don’t care about be stuck in school? Should we force people to love Him? Jesus didn’t do that to me. He waited patiently for me, paved the way and then ran to me when I repented. I am partially on the seat on this topic but I lean much more content to separate the secular from the Holy. I don’t want my God mixed up in the ugliness of the thing they now call education. Thank God Jesus isn’t in that mess. The solution, by the way, is that so many people meet Jesus that everyone wants Bible study all day at school! Now that I can believe for!

3. government?? serious? When has Jesus ever been glorified in government? There have been believers in government. The Israel of the old testament was a different case and requires much time to expound on why, but since then and the resurrection of Jesus I can’t see how the truth of God’s word would be tolerated by a group of people who hate Him….

4. veterans? that’s a totally different topic. that brings up the mennonites and the other bible believers who decided that it’s not ok to kill people for their government anymore. but I’ll sit on the fence on this one. I also might take up arms against wicked men…

5. prices and monetary system:

a) God told us inflation would reach an epidemic level before his return in the book of Revelation:

6And I heard a voice from among the four living beings say, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley will cost a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine.

b) he also said don’t worry about stuff in earth where rust and moth are going to destroy them anyways. He gives food to the birds and behold! I have a gut.

c) no jobs? I’ve got a good idea Start a business and make jobs. Problem solved. And that’s also in the Bible where Paul made tents to support his preaching addiction.

d) ‘there are more of us that want You than those who don’t’??? That’s totally, completely – FALSE. It always has been, and it always will be. Here is the scripture:

The Narrow Gate (Luke 13:22-30)

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and **many** there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and **few** there be that find it.

FEW will ever meet Jesus and go to heaven.

MANY will walk down the nice comfy road of the five senses that leads to the fiery (and eternal) pit of hell.

I don’t doubt that this person is trying to love Jesus, but Jesus *is* the word of God. It’s because of mamby-pamby ‘christianese’ like these emails that people think that this is all the body of Christ has to offer our world:  A weak commentary on how bad the world is.

Great news! The world is the single best place I have ever set my feet and each day I awake I couldn’t think of another place or life I’d rather live. If they read the Bible they would quickly see the real Jesus and their hearts would melt within themselves (like what happened to my wife recentlY) and turn from their cold-hearted and wicked ways.

These *are* the last days. And even if they *aren’t* the last days, they could very well be *my* last days. By His grace i’M standing today and by his grace I breath.

a mighty fire has been kindled in my heart towards the Great God Jehovah and his son Jesus and my Comforter the Holy Spirit of God.

I will have not less than the real deal.

I will walk the narrow path.

End hard preaching.

Oh, by the way, I write this all in love. If it didn’t truly ignite something inside of me I wouldn’t have spent the time writing it. These kind of ‘christians’ are spreading a really lame gospel because they haven’t opened their Bibles. Thanks! This email cemented lots of cool stuff inside of me as well.