- O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
Robert Burns, Poem “To a Louse” – verse 8
- Bill Maher is a self-proclaimed non-Christian so the language in this clip should surprise no one. If you are offended by the language used by those outside of Christ use…good! So am I. This is from one of his shows back in May…but I am posting it now for two reasons. First, because my good friend Noel Malan posted it on Facebook and I just now became aware of it and, second, because we need to understand how the world perceives us as a religion. Even a pagan like Maher knows enough Scripture to see the disconnect between what Jesus said and how so many who claim to follow Him actually act. I hope you will view it and I hope you cringe in the appropriate places.
- Notice that he is attacking our hypocrisy, not what Jesus taught.
The truth is, if everyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ would imitate Christ not only would the kingdom explode in size but I seriously doubt that our government would be messing around killing folks in the Middle East. Why is that? Because they would see the good works of the Christians in our nation and glorify God.
When one thinks of the lives lost and the resources expended on our fruitless wars and political meddling in the Middle East it should bring us to tears. What if those same lives and resources were given to win the hearts and minds of the Islamic world? What if we were known for acts of mercy instead of violence? I’m not talking about the government here, I am talking about the kingdom of God. Peter wrote, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:15,16). Too often, as Christians we have supported our government as they meddled and murdered!
What if Christians were known for being first on the scene of earthquakes, tsunamis, famine and pestilence? What if we were known for helping instead of meddling? What if we spent money on lives and souls instead of buildings and flashy “worship services.”
We have several fine ministries that seek to do just this. Here in Abilene, we have Global Samaritan Resources that has helped many thousands. But it is a separate ministry from the church and has to struggle to raise funds like so many similar efforts. Shame on us! We had rather build buildings and divert needed funds to projects Jesus never even hinted at. Our “ministries of mercy” ought never need to go begging…they should be overwhelmed with resources to couple the gospel with the mercy of the Prince of Peace!
What excuse did we give to Bill Maher to say what he said? By not carefully following Christ in attitude, word or deed. Time for self-examination!
Peter echoes the words of Christ in Matthew 5:14 “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Do this, and Bill Maher (and many others) will have little material for their writers.
Filed under Altruism, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Christlikeness, church, Contradictions, Culture Wars, Current Events, discipleship, Evangelism, Food, Friendship, Good & Evil, Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Infidelity, Islam, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism, morality, Natural Disaster, Palestine, Peace, Persuasion, Politics, Religion, Respect, Ridicule, Scripture, Selflessness, Suffering
In our culture, the people have a say in who governs them, but ultimately it is is up to the Almighty. Is that His stamp of approval on their positions and policies? Check out Daniel 2:21; 4:17; John 19:11; Romans 13:1-6 (and there’s a bunch more). God sets up rulers and deposes them…some good some bad — for reasons best known to Him. Believers need to shut up and get on their knees and pray for President Obama and all those who govern us (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
Filed under Attributes of God, Conspiracy Theories, Culture Wars, Current Events, Discernment, Faith, Freedom, Good & Evil, History, honor, Politics, Religion, Respect, Skepticism, Theism
I can’t remember a time in recent history that has provided a greater contrast between Christianity and Radical Islam.
Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”
1 Peter 2:21-23 “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”
Filed under Afghanistan, Attributes of God, Bigotry, Christlikeness, Current Events, Egypt, Good & Evil, Islam, Jesus Christ, Middle East, Peace, Religion, Scripture
If love can’t be found among God’s people – where can it be found? In the gospels and letters, Christians are admonished over and over to love one another and our neighbors. Love is our identity. It is how we are recognized as followers of Jesus. It is the badge that marks us as Christians. It is the quality that sets us apart from the dog-eat-dog culture of materialism and greed.
What an unmitigated tragedy when the lack of love is noted among congregations of self-proclaimed Christians! It is so contrary to what we should be that it even occasionally makes the news. Most of the time, however, it is merely observed and noted. The results are ugly. People are driven away from such hypocrisy. I am always reminded of what Gandhi, who lived and died a Hindu, had to say about the Christians he observed, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Yes, some unfriendly observers may be looking for something wrong – but we make it too easy for them. Lovelessness is always starkly obvious and always a source of ammunition for those who oppose any form of faith.
Recently one such unfriendly website chronicled the story of a young couple who dared to question leaders of their church about the expenditure of funds (to which they had contributed) and the lifestyle of some of the leaders (who lived off these funds). If their account is credible, they became the object of scorn, anger and denigration. Ultimately expelled from their church, their faith took a fatal hit and they are no longer practicing believers.
I really can’t verify this account but it is too much like some of my personal experiences and stories from others over the years to reject out of hand. And, if true, what a repudiation of the love we should embrace and practice! We have handed a gun to Satan and asked to be shot. We have presented a sword to our adversaries and asked to be run through. Truly, we are our own worst enemy.
I repeat: if love cannot be found among the people who purport to believe their God is the personification of love, where will it be found? No matter how wonderful we think we are, without love we are nothing.
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questioning
Where is the love?
—Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love?”
Filed under Altruism, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Christlikeness, church, Community, Devil, discipleship, Faith, Good & Evil, Hypocrisy, Love, morality, Religion, Respect, Satan, Scripture, Songs
If you don’t subscribe to Trey Morgan’s blog, you ought to. He is a very thoughtful writer and preacher. He preaches in Childress, Texas and if you ask me, they are extremely fortunate to have him. I had an article all ready to post when I read this and thought I must share it with all my readers. Take my advice and go to his blog site here and read his past and present postings. You’ll be blessed. I was especially touched by his latest: A $2.99 Hug.
When he asked me the question, I knew I’d heard that type of question before. It was one of those, “What if a person is doing…,” questions that ended with, “Will that person get to go to heaven or hell?”He was calling someone’s morality into question, and I could tell by how he asked, he wasn’t really asking the question because he wanted to know, but because he wanted to trap me with the question. It was the same thing the Pharisees did to Jesus on many occasions.
My answer was simple, “That’s totally up to God. He’s the one who makes the decisions on who goes to heaven and who doesn’t.”
I could tell my answer frustrated him. Redness was building from his neck up to his face. “I knew that’s what you’d say,” he said with a frustrated tone. “I don’t even know why I asked you. You’re too soft on people.”
I smiled and told him, “I’m sorry, but I got out of judging business long ago. Who gets in and who doesn’t is not not my place to decide. But”, I told him, “If I’m going to err on one side or the other, I’d rather err on the side of mercy.” He didn’t like that much either.
I left feeling good about my answer. I still feel the same way today. I think Jesus was a perfect example when it came to being gracious to others. Remember how Jesus acted around those whose lives weren’t exactly to what God wanted? A prostitute, a wealthy exploiter, a Samaritan woman with several husbands, a woman caught in adultery – all people that Jesus would have had a problem with their lifestyle. Yet all found grace and mercy from Jesus instead of condemnation. No wonder Jesus gained the reputation as being a “friend of sinners.” Maybe we can learn a lot about how to treat people by watching Jesus in action.
When I stand before God someday, if I’m found guilty of anything, I want to be found guilty of being too gracious, too forgiving and too merciful. I feel I have a better chance with God that way than I do if I’m found too harsh, too judgmental and too unsympathetic.
“You’re too soft on people,” that guy said to me that day. Well if too soft means too merciful … then I pray I’m guilty as charged!
“So you must show mercy to others, or God will not show mercy to you when he judges you. But the person who shows mercy can stand without fear at the judgment.” ~ James 2:13
Filed under Attributes of God, Bigotry, Blogs & Blogging, Christlikeness, Condemnation, Encouragement, Eternal Life, Good & Evil, Judge, Judgment, Judgmental, Preaching/Teaching
I confess, I rejoiced to hear of the death of Osama bin Laden. I felt like “high-fiving” anyone within reach. Then I began reading blogs from my fellow disciples and kinda feeling guilty, especially when they quoted Ezekiel 18:23[i] and 33:11[ii]. Then I started reading those passages in context and realized that the Holy Spirit was saying that the real pleasure would have resulted from his turning back from his evil ways and his death to the old man of sin.
I felt a little better when I read Psalm 58:10, 11 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; / He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. / And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; / Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”
There is no doubt Osama had to die. He relinquished his right to life by taking the lives of thousands of innocents. But O how I wish we could have sought his heart as doggedly as we sought his head! How wonderful to have given him life before his death! What a day of rejoicing that would have been! But like so many depraved murderers before him, he remained unrepentant for his heinous crimes. I’m glad he’s gone.
Congratulations to the incredibly brave team that took him out. I understand that many months of careful, exacting planning and training preceded the mission. That provoked the inevitable missionary reaction: Doesn’t it stand to reason that no less is required of us in the Kingdom as we seek the souls of the Islamic world? Where are our well-trained, equipped and courageous teams? Where is our strategy? Where is our passionate and urgent sense of cause?
The Muslims of the Middle East have long memories of so-called “Christian” violence and oppression. Hatred from those memories spawned Osama and his ilk. Many will willingly fill the vacuum of his leadership fueled by the same hatred. The only way to stop the process is to permeate their culture with bombs of love and missiles of peace. Fortunately we serve a God defined by love who gave Himself as the Prince of Peace.
At long last, let’s give our Muslim friends reasons to love us instead of loathe us.
[i] Ezekiel 18:23“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”
[ii] Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘ As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”
Filed under Attributes of God, Christlikeness, Culture Wars, Current Events, Evangelism, Good & Evil, Holy Spirit, Islam, Jesus Christ, Judge, Kingdom Growth, Love, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism, Peace
I don’t think I have ever witnessed (through the medium of television) anything worse than the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in northern Japan. This is not to say that other, equally horrible, disasters have not taken place. Speaking for myself, television and intrepid journalists have increased our awareness of such events almost to the saturation point of my emotional capacity. I have been grieving along with the rest of the world over these events and the tragedy unfolding in the Arab nations. It is almost too much to take in and process.
If the tragedies in themselves were not enough, now the religious pundits are taking advantage of them by telling us how they are God’s work of judgment and/or opportunity to further the cause of Christianity and I’m sick of it! While it is true that we live in a broken world and that every instance of human suffering offers us an opportunity to respond with the compassion of Christ, I find such pontification nauseating and a work of ignorant speculation and arrogance.
Who dares to speak for God?! Who dares to step in and pronounce His judgment? The causes of earthquakes, eruptions, floods, fires, tsunamis, tornadoes and every other violent release of energy are well known. We live in a dangerous world and sometimes we make the mistake of compounding the danger by building homes and nuclear power plants in unsafe places. Then, in the aftermath, when we have cleaned away the rubble and buried our loved ones, we do it again. God is not to blame for our foolishness!
Let us love those caught up in these events and do what we can to alleviate their agony…not add to it by ill-timed and insensitive conjecture based on ignorance at best and stupidity at worst.
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com
My wife and I enjoy reading and watching mysteries – you know, Agatha Christie, etc. I like to watch the television versions with her because I often get lost in the details and she doesn’t. I have to have things spelled-out in simple terms. “Okay, was it the long-lost cousin who showed up from Kenya who took the papers from the study in the dark of night or was it the daughter who stood to lose her inheritance?” “Who done it,” is easy for her (and Miss Marple), difficult for me. I have noticed I have to do this with most things.
I can’t claim to have always been a solid theist. In my university days, I followed in the footsteps of my father and began my studies as an agnostic. My professors reinforced that position since most of them were either atheist, agnostic or ambivalent on the matter of belief. Thanks to a teacher who helped me to see there are two sides to the question of belief, I came down on the side of faith in a Creator. It just seemed much more reasonable. Still does.
In my life-long attempt to get things straight, I have looked long and hard at the ongoing debate between theists and atheists. I have begun to see that whether to believe or not believe is largely a matter of perspective. We are part of an amazing, spectacular, unfathomable, intricate universe. Before we even consider our microscopic little blue planet, there are the stars orbited by uncountable planets, gathered into galaxies numbering in the multiplied millions. Then there is our tiny island with the only life we are presently aware of. Intricate complexity and design is increasingly evident as we delve into the subatomic realms. Are the complexity, intricacy, design and order we see the results of accidental, random yet unobservable processes? Is life the outcome of chemical processes that we don’t yet understand? How do we account for all this?
As for me, this is how it all boils down: The theist looks at the universe and concludes there is no way this complexity, intricacy, design and order could happen by itself. The atheist looks at all the complexity, intricacy, design and order and concludes that it did indeed happen by itself. Two perspectives – which one makes more sense to you?
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com
Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Culture Wars, Discussion, Faith, Persuasion, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Supernatural, Theism
I would really like to know who gathered the following information but it is really by our old friend “Anonymous.” According to atheists, life is the result of a series of propitious accidents and random mutations that just happen to be beneficial. If they take the time to read this, they will attribute each example of intelligent design to unintelligent processes. Whatever your belief or lack of it, this is pretty good food for thought.
God’s accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs. For example,
- The eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days;
- Those of the canary in 14 days;
- Those of the barnyard hen in 21 days.
- The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days;
- Those of the mallard in 35 days.
- The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days.
(Notice, they are all divisible by seven).
God’s design is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other Quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs.
- For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.
- The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first.
- A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first.
God’s wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!
- Each watermelon has an even number of strips on the rind.
- Each orange has an even number of segments.
- Each ear of corn has an even number of rows.
- Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
- Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number.
- All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks
The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather.
God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day, so that Linneus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!
Design is evident. Design requires a designer.
Many have decided not to believe and that is certainly their prerogative. For myself, I choose to believe in a Creator. Too much of what I see is inexplicable without Him.
In Romans 1 Paul writes, “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…”
“For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us…’” (Exodus 32:23)
It is folly to construct a God out of our imagination and prejudice then, on that basis, to reject Him. It only seems fair that if one is going to reject God that one rejects the real one.
Your image of God may be like the one on the roof of the Sistine Chapel…a man-like creature complete with long, flowing beard. That image (in spite of the proscription against making images of God — Deuteronomy 4:23) came out of the mind of Mr. Michelangelo. It was his construction, a product of his imagination and prejudice.
You can construct your straw god and rail against it, beat it to chaff and burn it. Since, however, it is not the real God, it accomplishes little other than a release of anger and frustration. It might make you feel better and earn the cheers of your ignorant companions and, if that’s what satisfies you, so be it.
If, on the other hand, you want to reject the God of believers then go to Scripture. That’s the one we believe in, not your straw god. And don’t quit when you find something about Him you don’t like. There are some things the real God does that none of us understand or even applaud. Nonetheless, they are part of the real God. Once you have looked at all his attributes, you are in a position to make an informed decision. He’s not a man, limited by space and time; He is spirit, existing outside of the constraints of time in eternity, permeating all of space, dwelling in the gaps between the atoms and the void between the galaxies.
What atheists reject seems to be a composite god constructed of ignorance, misinformation, supposition and a prejudiced reading of the King James Version of the Bible. May I suggest a more honest approach? With an open mind, read an accurate modern language translation (not a commentary like The Message) and gather your understanding of God from it. Then make a decision about acceptance or rejection based on valid information.