A buried treasure

November 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Think of something precious to you. Not someone, some thing. Maybe this is a ring that has been handed down in your family for generations. Maybe this is a tool your grandfather gave you. It may be something from a loved one who is no longer here. Whatever it is, think about it. Could you describe it to me? What color is it? How big is it? What is it made of? Does it have any distinguishing features? Do you remember the day that you got it? Where you were? What was going on when you got it?

For most of us this exercise comes pretty easily. As humans, we hold on to those things that we hold dear. The things that are most important to use have a prominent place in our hearts. Now, think back on that object that is precious to you. See yourself holding it (if possible). Now imagine that you took the item outside; somewhere in your backyard. And you dug a hole, dropped that precious object into it, covered it back up with dirt, and tamped it down. Continue Reading A buried treasure…

Independence

July 5, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Yesterday, America celebrated it’s birthday. The first Independence Day happened July 4th, 1776. It marked the moment when a group of British colonies had become an entirely new nation. This nation was built on Christian principles and came to be so that the people in the colonies could worship the God of the Bible as they felt they were commanded to. They wanted to be free from the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church and the king of Britain. The people of the colonies fought and many gave their lives in order for this freedom to be achieved and they expected their descendants to not only understand the cost of this freedom, but to keep fighting for it. Sadly, today’s America is a far cry from what the Founding Fathers expected or hoped for. The American people have given up the fight for their freedom and allowed smooth-talking, deceitful, self-righteous men and women to take these freedoms away from us. We have fallen asleep and our freedoms are slowly disappearing while we don’t care. Continue Reading Independence…

What makes something Christian?

May 17, 2010 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I have been in a few discussions lately that have completely boggled my mind. While I will readily admit that this isn’t hard to do, it didn’t happen because the depth of the discussion went over my head or because the words being used were too big. This happened basically because of some of the things that self-proclaimed “Christians” said during the discussion. The discussions took place on a page set up for a Christian radio station. If you’ve read my blog on Contemporary Christian Music, then you already know that this discussion didn’t start out good. The main topic of discussion revolved around the recent return to music of Jennifer Knapp.  For those of you that may not know, Jennifer Knapp, a Christian artist who decided to take a 7-year hiatus from music, has made her return to the music scene. Unfortunately, she isn’t the same person she once was. Ms. Knapp has made it known to the entire world that she is a lesbian and has been in a homosexual relationship for a few years now.

This announcement sparked a bit of a dialogue on the radio station’s page. There were questions as to whether or not the station should or would play her music anymore. This is where my adventure began. To me, this is a no brainer. Ms. Knapp, while possibly singing about God before, is no longer living a lifestyle that glorifies God. Because of this, the radio station should no longer play her music. If they did, it would look like the radio station was supporting her lifestyle and could confuse new Christians or mislead people into thinking that homosexuality is supported by the church. Then the discussions began.

A few people started posting how much they loved Ms. Knapp and her music and how “uplifting” it was. They talked about how Christian music isn’t about how many times a song mentions God or Jesus, instead it’s about “the deep emotions, the struggle, the quest to find God, live in God’s word, worship God, and be at peace”. Many of the participants overlooked her sin (because we’ve all sinned) and instead focused on the gift that God has given her and how she should be able to use it for His glory. People were upset that some would “judge” her or her lifestyle because we’re not supposed to do that. Others equated anything said against her as “hate”. They said that we need to “build her up” instead of “tearing her down”.  Others said that pastors, teachers, singers, and preachers should not be held to a higher standard than the rest of us because they face the same temptations that we do (even though it says that they are held to a higher standard by God…). The only time scripture was used in the discussion was when people wanted to remind others that we shouldn’t judge or “throw stones”.  There were even comments about how “one religion is no better than another “and how “all opinions should be respected”…on a CHRISTIAN music station’s page!

All of this got me mad, and then it got me thinking about some things. First, it made me sad that so few Christians seem to have an understanding of even the most basic of Christian doctrines. What exactly is being taught today in the church? Second, it made me think about what makes something Christian? What is it that determines whether or not something is Christian? Today, in churches, on Christian discussion boards, and all over the place, there are people talking about things being Christian; but what makes it Christian. Is it Christian because we decide that it is? What happens if we decide five years from now that it’s no longer Christian, does that mean that it’s not? Should we go by our feelings to determine if something is Christian? What if our feelings change? Is it not Christian anymore? Is the Christian faith built upon such a wishy-washy, flimsy foundation as whims or feelings? NO!

What makes something Christian has nothing to do with how we feel about it, or whether we like it, or even agree with it or not. Something is Christian because God said it is. Please stop and read that again. If something is Christian, it is because God said it is. Here’s what I mean. God Himself has determined what Christianity looks like. Jesus is the complete and perfect embodiment of Christianity. If something claims to be Christian and doesn’t match that embodiment, then it’s not Christian; no matter how strongly we desire it to be otherwise. This goes for people, doctrines, teaching, and everything else. Man has somehow gotten it into his head (I think this first happened in the garden) that he can come to God however he desires and God will be ok with it. He can live his life the way that he wants and give God lip service and things will be just fine. It has become so bad that some “churches” believe that a person can follow the doctrines of Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, or even atheism and still be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. As long as they follow the tenets of their chosen religious system, they are good to go.

Man has been trying this ever since the beginning and it has never worked. God has ordained specific ways that He wants things done and they are to be done that way or they are wrong. In the book of Genesis, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any tree in the garden but one. God even told them what would happen to them if they disobeyed. In chapter 3 we see Eve and Adam both thinking that they could disobey God without consequence. They ate the fruit, and they ushered death into the world.  In Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu were killed on the spot for offering strange fire. God had laid out for them a specific way that they were to offer incense to Him and when they didn’t do it the way He prescribed, God killed them. In Numbers 20, the people were grumbling about not having water to drink. Moses went to God to seek guidance for what he should do. God told Moses to speak to the rock at Horeb and it would bring forth water. Moses gathered Israel together and then took the rod and struck the rock twice. Because they disobeyed God, both Moses and Aaron were unable to enter the Promised Land. Numerous times in the Old Testament Israel followed after other gods instead of remaining true to the one true God. Because of their disobedience, God punished them with famine, plague, invasion from other countries, and even captivity.

As I said above, God is the one who defines Christianity (not man) and He has chosen to do so through His Son Jesus. God has determined that for someone to be born again, they need to repent of their sins and put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. He has determined that Christians are not to condone sin, immorality, or impurity. They are not to look or act like the world but should be more and more like Christ. They are to be making disciples and preaching the true gospel. They are to be teaching others to observe exactly what Jesus commanded us. Unfortunately, the church tries to imitate the world in a horrible effort to try and lure non-Christians in to church. They seem to think that those people will enjoy the worldliness of the “church” and will stay long enough to hear about Jesus (if they even hear about Him at all). When the non-Christians leave the church (and they will), it will be for one of two reasons. Either the church’s efforts to mimic the world are so bad that they can’t stand to sit there and watch; or, they have been deceived into “making a decision for Christ”, “accepting Jesus into their heart”, or “trying Jesus” and were let down when the promised better life didn’t come. Not only have they not been saved from sin and hell, they are now inoculated against the truth because of their experience.

The entire focus of the Bible revolves around one person…and it’s not you. Or me. It is Jesus. We are to pattern our lives after the scriptures that have been written down for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that ALL scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The scriptures show us exactly how we are to live and not live. It shows us how we are to treat God, others, and even ourselves. It warns us of temptation, sin, pride, wrath, and hell. It encourages us to live lives that are worthy of the gospel. This and more come from scripture and scripture alone. And the church pushes that to the side in order to chase after hollow, “relevant”, worldly endeavors that will mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Until the church gets back to the biblical definition of Christianity, it will be filled with squishy, shallow, “feel-good” Christians who build idols of Christianity that suit them and their egos while offering no lasting hope or firm foundation.

Tea party in the church?

April 12, 2010 at 4:16 am | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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The climate of the US has changed dramatically in just over a year. Where there was talk of “hope and change”, there is now talk of disappointment and disgust. Where there was talk of a better tomorrow, there has been more of the same. The politicians that supposedly lead this country have shown themselves, for the most part, to be incompetent at even the most basic of tasks. They can’t do the things that the Constitution gives them the power to do and they still try to grow beyond the limits the Constitution places on them. Some of them don’t even know basic geology (Guam, or any other island, cannot capsize and sink…). Enter the Tea Party. The Tea Party has been mocked as an “Astroturf” type of movement that is all fluff and no substance. Those who support the Tea Party have been labeled as “right-wing extremists”, “terrorists”, and “racists”. They have made their voices heard as they stand up for truth and integrity from our so-called leaders. They share the same principles that our God-fearing founders did. All of this started with the people… Continue Reading Tea party in the church?…

Church Business

February 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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The other day on my “safe for the whole family” radio station, I was listening to the ~Christian~ hosts talk about children, youth, and young adult ministries. I will preface all of this with the fact that I find it really hard to listen to much “Christian” radio anymore. The topics of discussion seem to have no real value and the music isn’t much better. There is no theological discussion, as you’re about to see. Instead, it seems like it’s just a bunch of church-going people who are trying to be “relevant” and sound like the world so that they will gain unbelieving listeners. Then, they can sneak the name of Jesus in on them (which they always seem to forget to do…) and maybe make a false convert. Continue Reading Church Business…

A gospel for all ages

March 9, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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Our modern society is divided according to age. We have different categories that we tend to put people:

  • Babies
  • Children
  • Youth/teens
  • Adults
  • Elderly

 

Each group is expected to know certain things. Each group is separate from the other and to be affiliated with the wrong group can be offensive to some. This separation is also seen in the church. To see this, all you have to do is look at Sunday school. We have a class for babies and toddlers. We put children in another. The teens have their own class and, often, even adults have been split into groups depending on age, marital status, or gender. Why do we split ourselves into groups? When did we decide that this was good? I see some problems with this. First, each group begins to identify with their own group to the exclusion of others. They don’t learn to interact with those that are younger or older than they are. Many times, an older group will often look down on younger groups. This is most evident between the groups of children and teens, but can be seen in other groups as well.

 

One of the major problems that I see with this approach is that there seems to be a different gospel being preached to each group. Often, toddlers and babies don’t have the gospel to them at all. Our children have Bible “stories” with little substance. They hear about the main events in the Bible, but in a cartoony, unscriptural type of way. The see images of the ark where the animals are practically bulging out of the ship, they see images of Jesus even though we have no indication of what they look like. In these kids classes they often hear about five to ten minutes of a Bible story and the rest of the time they color or do crafts or play. The teen classes are often structured to be “cool”, “edgy”, “entertaining”, and “relevant”. Much of the time, there is very little time spent on truth and much more on entertainment. Much of the time, these classes are basically a weak attempt to try and keep the teens in church because most have heard that many of them will leave when they get to be adults. In all honesty, there was no such thing as a teenager before 1940. Before this time, you were either a child or an adult and the change often took place around age 13 (think of bar-mitzvahs and bat-mitzvahs).

 

Unfortunately, we tend to deceive ourselves and think that they are just kids and can’t see the façade of the church. They look at how the church tries to be like the world and they aren’t impressed. The world does the world better than the church does and when we’re trying to be like them instead of like Christ, the teens don’t receive what they need and we push them away. We don’t have any substance or backbone, and we can’t answer their questions (even though we’re supposed to be able to – 1 Pet. 3:15). This is why we’re losing so many of them to the world. We try to be relevant and they’re not impressed.

 

The adult classes are often focused on issues like finances, parenting, relationships, and marriage. They are many times split into men and women. The elderly classes are often focused on comfort and seem to be the most Word-focused classes in our churches. I would guess that this is because they were actually raised by men and women who valued the Word more than anything else.

 

Many may be asking whether or not this is bad. I would say that it’s not bad all the time. It can be good to separate for certain things, but I don’t know that it should be the norm. The truth is that the gospel should be the same regardless of what age the participants are. They should hear about sin and hell as well as love, mercy, and grace. I’m sure that this would cause many in the church to gawk. What we need to remember is that salvation does not come from our kids coloring a picture of Jesus, building an ark from popsicle sticks, or sitting in a relevant class that talks about teen issues. Salvation comes alone from when we preach the gospel. It comes from when we tell them the truth and don’t pull any punches about sin or judgment. Some might disagree with me and say that we need to present the gospel in understandable way. I don’t disagree with this at all, but I would have to say that the method or way of presenting the gospel in no way has to affect the truth of it. Let me give an example:

 

My daughter and I went to dinner together about two years ago. While we were talking about different things, I felt the urge to witness to her. What was I going to say? She’s a seven year old. I had just started learning about the biblical method of witnessing to others from Way of the Master. This method basically goes through the law with someone to show him or her what sin is and then shows him or her that God will judge lawbreakers. It then finishes with God’s mercy and the legal transaction of the cross. I decided that I would do this with my daughter. I began to run down the Ten Commandments in my mind. I didn’t feel comfortable about talking to her about adultery or lust. I chose to focus on lying. I explained to her about lying and how it was a violation of His law. I explained to her that God is not happy with her if she’s told lies. I told her that if someone has broken God’s law, He would not let her enter heaven. After a few more minutes of talking about lies, sin, and the cross, she asked me if we could talk about something else. I let it go and decided that I would keep an eye out for another opportunity. We ate dinner, spent some time together, and then I took her home.

 

The next day, I got a call saying that my daughter had talked to her mom about lying and sin. She had decided that she wanted to be saved and not long after, she was baptized.

 

This experience between my daughter and I didn’t happen because of me. It happened because the Holy Spirit was able to take the truth that I shared with my daughter and use it to prick her conscience and lead her to Christ. If this can happen with a seven year old, then why do we waste our time with them coloring and playing? We should be honest with our kids. There is nothing wrong with simplifying our explanations (when needed) but we cannot simplify the message or water it down to make it palatable to everyone.

 

If I have any teen readers I’ll probably lose them with this next statement. Teens don’t exist. They should be taught the same truth the adults are. I honestly don’t see any reason why teens can’t sit in on adult classes. I don’t see any reason why they can’t grasp the truth. I can’t help but wonder if we have underestimated our youth and their ability to grow in holiness or understand the truth. I think that we do them a great disservice. Many teens are hungry for something more than what their churches are giving them. They are looking for something with substance and when they can’t find it in the church, they go to look for it in the world! They are leaving because we don’t give them what they are hungry for and what they need. 

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel for all ages. It is not just for adults or those we think are ready for it. It should be preached to our kids as soon as possible and as much as possible. This should happen not just until they’re saved but it should be done just as much (if not more) after they are saved to remind them of what Jesus has done for them.


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