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).
Category Archives: Faith
Heirs of the “Restoration Movement” (Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, Disciples of Christ – and a plethora of groups believing this and that) have largely been an innocuous force in the contest for the souls of men and women. There are several reasons for this in my opinion (and I have been “at it” for over 50 years).
- We have preached “the church” instead of “The Christ.” I have, in the past been as guilty of this as anyone. You can claim to be “non-denominational” but this is about as denominational as you can get. Our message must not be the “church of Christ”, it must be the Christ of the church.
- We have invested our resources in buildings. With the money we spend on construction and maintenance, we could feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and reach a hurting and hungry world with the only message that can save them.
- We have fought each other and not Satan. We seem to have forgotten that he is the real adversary — not those who are seeking to follow Christ even if they do some strange things you don’t find in the Bible. We can work all that out as allies in the fight against our real adversary.
- We have done everything except what Jesus told us to do. He never said to build “Christian Colleges and Universities (they seldom stay that way very long anyway).” He never said “Go forth and build buildings throughout the world,” He never said, “build hospitals, put your denominational name on them and charge the same outrageous prices that other hospitals do.” He never said hand out food, clothing and drill water wells but don’t worry about connecting it with the gospel (I know this is not the case in all instances).
- We put would-be missionaries through the ringer (remember those?). We make them sweat, strain, wear out tires and/or automobiles travelling around begging for support and ask them, “How little can you live on?” Meanwhile human beings are dying and going to hell. What’s the matter with us?
- Our job is to be Christ to our world (starting with our communities). Our job is to speak, act and conduct ourselves as He did. He still draws men and women to Himself.
I can probably think of some other things but this is my short list. All this has to change and all the lectureships, “summits,” conferences seem to this writer like exercises in futility. Let’s shut up and DO SOMETHING!
It is the turn of the year and I don’t know about you but I’ve already got a gut full of politics. I have just about “had it up to here.” The most disturbing aspect of all this is the antics of the so-called Christian “leaders.” The “Religious Right” is in grave danger of becoming the “religious wrong.” Along with the disgusting concentration on pre-election politics is the equally disgusting lack of concentration on what really matters: following Christ.
I have to believe that Jesus really meant it when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting…but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). His life, ministry and teaching were decidedly “not of this realm.” His emphasis was the Kingdom of God, eternal life and preparation for it.
Yes, He was deeply concerned with justice, mercy and love for neighbors and enemies. When it came to earthly kingdoms and their governments, however, he was decidedly silent. Can you imagine Him endorsing a candidate — even in our time? Yet we read stuff like this:
“The Rev. Donald E. Wildmon is making an urgent plea to Christian voters in Iowa to vote for Newt Gingrich in their caucuses on Tuesday in what he describes as the “most critical” election in American history” (Newsmax.com, December 31, 2011).
This, in spite of repeated warnings by the Holy Spirit not to put our hope in human beings (Psalm 118:8-9; Proverbs 20:6; Jeremiah 17:5).
The only thing that can change this world for the better is the spread of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the values of His Kingdom. Earthly kingdoms, empires, nations and governments can never approach the power for good resident in the Kingdom of God. Faith, hope and love are not the results of the legislative, judicial or administrative processes. So, why are our leaders seeking to manipulate earthly politics? Could it be because they have lost faith the Kingdom and its King?
It is the right of all citizens of all democracies to participate in the government of the people, by the people and for the people. As Christians, we should consider the issues and the candidates and vote according to our Christian consciences. At the same time, we must beware of placing undue trust or emphasis upon or in this process.
Our emphasis must be upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We must seek to influence our cultures by trying to live, look, love and smell like Him (2 Corinthians 2:14). To put our trust in politicians is to risk stinking like them and, considering our present congress, behold, the stench thereof rises to high heaven.
You shepherds of your flocks, put your hope and trust in Jesus, the only one who can change hearts and minds and thus change our world for the better. Proclaim Him. Emulate Him. Gather disciples to Him. Don’t place your trust in some flawed human being. Only Christ can turn this capsized world right side up.
“So, you believe that only Christians are going to heaven?” It’s a question that has caused more than one person to squirm uncomfortably. It is especially uncomfortable if the question is asked in a public forum (radio or television interview) in a challenging way by someone who (1) isn’t a person of faith or, (2) an adherent of a non-Christian religion. In reality, any answer will offend someone, somehow. One response will offend one group, the alternative will offend the other. No answer at all will offend whoever’s left.
If you are a Christian and you believe the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to be accurate accounts of the words and actions of Christ, only one answer is possible. It is the answer Jesus gave to a disciple named Thomas. Here it is:
Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
It is also the answer that, after the death of Christ, Peter gave to the rulers, elders and scribes in Jerusalem.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
Jesus and Peter said it, I didn’t. So, you can get mad at me for believing it, but you can’t blame me for saying it. I don’t have to apologize for their answers. No uncomfortable squirming here.
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?”
Several atheistic blogs I read are guilty of “scientism.” Scientism is not science but rather deductions and speculations arising out of scientific observations. Truth is truth no matter the source. Scientism, however, sees science and empirical observation as the only source of truth. Consider this definition:
Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.
Here’s an example from a blog called, Unreasonable Faith
Belief never invented a laser, or pressed a CD, or kept a ‘plane in the air, or restarted a heart – Science has done all of that and more, a whole bunch of times.” And, “Against this staggering work and monumental achievement (the proof that one of Einstein’s theories is correct – DW) on one single scientific project out of hundreds of thousands, there stand some old men in robes, telling us that God did it, because it says so in the nth translation in the chain of some bronze-aged myths written by some camel-herders.
For the moment let’s ignore the ridicule and the reality that many respected scientists believe that “God did it.” More to the point: science and faith are two different things and, thus, not in competition. Faith is defined as, “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). On the other hand, science is totally based on what can be seen. When interpretation of scientific observations moves beyond the observable, it becomes speculation. Speculation is fine and useful for building hypotheses but it is still speculation. And there’s nothing wrong with speculations as long as they are recognized as such. Just don’t ask me to accept them as incontrovertible truth.
Many religious people have rightly been resistant to speculations contradicting the concept of a Creator. Others have stubbornly held to their own religious speculations that are in obvious contradiction to observable and undeniable facts. This is foolish in light of the reality that observable facts (sans speculations) do not contradict the concept of a Creator God. In truth, some of those facts call loudly for a first cause and a designer.
Science and faith operate in two separate realms. Faith presupposes the existence of a supernatural realm (things not seen). Science can only operate in the natural realm. To place them in competition is ridiculous.
I am excited to announce a new blog by my dear friend, Randy Becton, called “A Caring Touch.” Randy will be writing words of encouragement and comfort in his inimitable style. He has posted his first article, “Old Books and Forever Friends” and you may enjoy it by going here. These will be great articles to send to friends who are in need of an encouraging word.
Be sure to subscribe and spread the word!
I’m not referring to actual wagons hauling actual band members. I’m talking about groups of people who have decided to think the same way without due consideration of all the information. Humans have a natural tendency to conform (fashions, fads, etc.) The few real non-conformists get the label “eccentric,” and summarily dismissed. That label applied to my father who always thought for himself. He was a curmudgeon with few friends, but he called it as he saw it (even if the way he saw it was screwed up). His main fault was making up his mind so solidly that it took a charge of dynamite to loosen him up to alternative thinking.
I especially notice the bandwagon effect expressed in blogs. For example, there are blogs where independent thinkers can express their independent thinking to other independent thinkers (bandwagons) and, in the process, lose their independence. Members of Political parties often confine themselves to party lines (bandwagons) instead of opening themselves up to other points of view. Members of certain religious groups are very often willing victims of “groupthink” (bandwagons) with their own special jargon. Atheists tend to stick together and parrot the current atheistic cant (bandwagons).
Bandwagons, I am thinking, come into being because people want to believe certain things and behave in particular ways rather than basing their personal philosophies and resulting actions on something substantial. Or, in the absence of substance, reserving their conclusions until they find it (it is, after all, okay not to have an opinion on everything).
While reading in the blogosphere, I notice that people who believe a certain way tend to read the blogs of others who believe the same way and merely applaud, cheer and conform to the thinking of the group. For them, “hopping on the bandwagon” becomes a convenient way to avoid thinking for themselves. Hats off to those brave and hardy souls who dare to disagree, challenge and debate those with whom they differ. We need to jump off our bandwagons and consider what others are saying. We might agree, disagree, challenge, debate, correct, suggest, applaud or, most important of all…learn.
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
If I understand what is being said by those who are supposed to know: we are in a recession because we are not growing economically. I may be hopelessly naïve, but it seems to me that growth has to end somewhere. If a human keeps growing, we will call him abnormal. If a plant keeps growing, we take the pruners or clippers to it. In other words, constant growth seems abnormal. When is enough enough? When do we quit being concerned about industrial and economic growth and start concentrating on consolidation? When do we stop accumulating wealth and start feeding the hungry (we have an obscene amount of hunger in this country given our wealth) and clothing the naked…or, at least, help the victims become productive and less dependent? I’m just saying…
And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).
If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:8).
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).