Thursday, April 29, 2010
A couple of verses I found interesting: First, for those who claim that in the Bible the phrase "the world" (as in John 3:16) means "the people" I submit this verse that separates "the world" from "those who live in it."
Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.
Second, I recently had a discussion with someone who claims (as does John MacArthur) that God's Kingdom is a "future event" and has not yet come. I submit God has always been King, and that His Kingdom has been present for ever and ever... When Jesus came He brought the Kingdom to all humankind to be able to enter in. By stating it is future denies that it always was and is and is yet to come in its fullness. I see that people who teach these things mislead others astray as they believe that they are not part of the Kingdom that was, is and forever will be. Note also this verse teaches that evil “social justice”… yep, God is a communist after all … or is it that those that teach against this biblical teaching are just plain wrong about what the bible teaches on more than a few things?
Psalms 10: 16. The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17. You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18. defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
One final thought on how bad that teaching is. They teach that the Kingdom will come by careful observation of the times. But what did Jesus say about that?
Luke 17:20. Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21. nor will people say, `Here it is,' or `There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would regard it as my favorite since Generous Orthodoxy. It was refreshing to finally read how many of the free floating thoughts of his past books have finally gelled. Brian McLaren states very clearly where he stands on things, which was often the confusion and frustration of his other books, (at least to those who do not understand the type of writing Brian does).
The book is made up of 10 questions, which each question being designed to help one think outside of the Greco/Roman view and look at the bible from a more Hebraic point of view. The basic view is that many Christians try to view Jesus from present backwards. In essence most will view Jesus through A.W. Tozer viewing Jesus through Luther of Calvin, viewing Jesus through Augustine and Aquinas and so forth (I just picked people at random and do enjoy many of these people’s writings myself.) While Brian does not ever say these views are invalid, one must recognize they come from a very Greco/Roman ala Platonist point of view. Instead Brian McLaren proposes that one will gain a much different view if they read the bible and develop the view of Jesus as He is slowly revealed in the OT.
Interestingly, I was taught this very idea as a young Christian, via a book called Christianity Is Jewish by Edith Schaeffer and in A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McLaren, does a great job in making his point of view clear through Scripture. After building the case for his point of view, Brian McLaren then turns to how this point of view will effect and bring to light questions. Brian then frames the rest of the book by working through the 10 questions.
I do understand why many people would find this book hard. In fact Brian addresses that in the book. If you have not read any of his books, I would advise to read this book before Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change, as it will help bring understanding to those books. I was surprised though by who was uneasy with ANKoChristianity. Yet, as I read their thoughts I could see that these are not the typical, “Brian is a heretic” attacks, but more points of minor disagreement. Though, that is not always the case as some view that Brian may have gone off the rails a bit.
I see that I really could not find much I disagreed with. I would have to really go back and dig into the book again to find something I might disagree with. I might not have phrased something the exact same way, yet as in the case of homosexuality, if someone harps on his view without acknowledging that he also is speaking of a broader sense of sexual purity (of which even the heterosexual Christian community has some major ethical failures in) I would say that person missed the point and would question if their assessment of what Brian stated was accurately being portrayed. Again, I am not saying the things Brian is stating is easy to grasp or envision and I totally understand why those who are uncomfortable will be so. However, who ever said we should be comfortable as believers in Jesus?
Monday, April 26, 2010
Two things I have learned that have helped me grow in my faith.
1. If you come to the end of your rope... grease that sucker and let go... it is there you will meet God as you are completely in His Hands.
2. Trusting God is like trying to float... the more you try to float, the more you sink... yet, as you relax and let the water support you, you begin to float. Once you depend on God to float you is when you truly trust God.
3. Bonus: God is God and you are not. You are His creation flaws and all. God is not surprised at your flaws... He is very aware at who you are. He is more aware of who you are that YOU are. God has not called you to be perfect... in fact the verse in Matthew 5:48 actually should not be "be perfect" but "be mature" or "be full of age"... God calls us to maturity not perfection. God is perfect and you are not... and once you accept that, you will mature in your faith. Jesus was the only proven perfect One. Be clothed in Christ and His perfection.
Matthew 5:48 (Amplified Bible)
48You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I had a great time in conversation with Rob and Terry Witham. Actually I talked way too much… Yet, as we talked I tried to explain something I have been thinking about for a while. I sometimes do not want to have all the answers… or rather, in some cases, I don’t want to settle on an answer.
Now, the issues I am dealing with often are hot topics. I see that in the case of homosexuality or rather, gay Christians, I do not have an answer. Yes, I can argue both sides of the debate and probably convince others one way or the other, yet… I do not think that is that great of thing. I could just make it easier on myself and just settle on the typical evangelical view, yet in my mind that is not being honest to myself nor is it being honest with other… it would just be easier. I understand fully why many do not even try to untangle the mess this issue has become.
While I was talking to Rob and Terry I realized that if I settled on the issue, I would then start to judge others. If I settled that Gay if OK… then I would judge those who oppose that view as wrong. If I settled that Gay is wrong no matter what, then again, I would be judging those in the Gay community. I see judging others as wrong. (Don’t tell me how inconsistent I am in this… believe me I already know!) I realized (at least for now) that to not have an answer allows me to extend Grace to both sides. I am free to love others as people. While I confess it is harder for me to love those who judge me or even attack me, I do try to earnestly love them. (Again, I know how bad I am at that!) For the time being I am satisfied that I do not know the answer… I used to have the need to know the answer and still do most the time, yet… to have an answer, seems to make this issue harder… and makes me less able to respond to the leadings of Christ Jesus.
I know… some of you will accuse me of not taking a stand… but I have… For now I stand on Love and the Grace of God.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This is a recent dialog via email between a friend and me. I think in some ways it expresses my feelings and where I am with the “gay Christian” debate. The point of this email exchange was not that I am right or he is right, but that it is taking place.
This quote shows such an ignorance of Scripture. What kind of effective 'ministering' could she have been doing all those years as a ‘Christian’ artist?
Knapp: The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a Rock and a hard place-between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the "clobber verses" to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they're eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I'm not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn't allow homosexuals within our church.
What kind of effective ministering do any of us do except what is done by and through the Holy Spirit? I had some of the most effective times dealing with some people while I was deep in doubt and using drugs and drinking…
Yet, not I that live; but Christ... and in the times I gave in to Jesus
And let Him do it, it was effective. Other times... it was just kindling. There is a lot of effective kindling out there in the church today... believe me.
However, she seems to show a real lack of understanding on some basics.
C'mon comparing homosexuality to SHELLFISH!
That's why I've been gravitating towards Catholicism lately. They've got their priorities in order.
Although I understand your point.
Actually, many Christians use the verses in Leviticus to bash gay people...these same passages state we are not to eat shrimp, lobster, or wear clothes with mixed materials... in that case I am greatly in sin as I LOVE shrimp and lobster and most much I wear are mixed materials. The point is what of the Law carries over into our lives as New Creations?
There are better arguments on both sides... for me I take each person as an individual... as Paul states, "I do not even judge myself though my conscience is clear, for a clear conscience does not mean I am innocent."(Slightly paraphrased)
To me, I see it as an area of identity, and we all have dark areas we struggle with... and some we do not. I let the Holy Spirit do His job in people... It is His job to convict of sin. So if someone at one point does not see his or her "sin" as sin the way I do, I let be. Of course it is harming others like murder of pedophilia I would do all I could for the safety of others, yet in prison, I would walk and talk about things with the person and let God work in them.
The bashing technique does not work. It only polarizes and hardens the other person... I am not fully convinced it is ok to be gay any more than I am convinced how most evangelicals deal with homosexuals is not also in a sinful manner. I fall somewhere in the middle where you feel the heat from all sides. Though by changing my approach I have found gay people more open to God and grace than ever... and were sin is, Grace abounds... where there is Grace, Jesus is at work... where Jesus is, Hope is there.
Just being the controversial thinker I am... = /
Yep...I'm not pointing the finger at anyone! It's just the blatant disregard for obvious Scriptural truth that frustrates me. There are certainly gray areas but I don't think this is one of them. 1Cor.5:11 Paul says but now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone WHO CALLS HIMSELF A BROTHER but is sexually immoral or greedy...etc...with such a man do not even eat".
Not that I wouldn't have lunch with Jennie...but..........
I think the difference is context... in Corinth; the man openly bragged about sleeping with his father's wife... and used grace as an excuse. Yet, in most cases of a gay relationship, it is not about abusing or flaunting grace but about attraction and love. Again, I am not sold on the gay is ok argument, yet, I do see that some of the arguments place verses as this is better context than the approved understanding.
Now, take homosexuality out of it... if a person is in a monogamous relationship for 8 years, though unmarried but still faithful to the other person, is that sexually immoral? If you read what the bible literally states in Genesis, Adam, and Eve were created for each other... but it does not say anywhere they were married. Also, in some cases as in two brothers who live together, if one of the brothers die, the other is commanded to take the brothers wife as his own, sleep with her to carry on the family. This is regardless to having a wife already... is that the sanctity of marriage the bible is ALL about? It was what God told Moses to tell His people to do... it was God approving polygamy. Is polygamy immoral? If I am a polygamist and I have multiply wives and I sleep with more than one at a time is that immoral... God's word says it is not as what goes on in the marriage bed is pure...
By switching on one filter and reading the bible one way I can have God approved of only what I see as right. Jesus said that "God created them man and woman" and that is taken as what marriage is to be... One verse, yet many more verses state polygamy is fine and sanctioned by God.
Again, if a man is sleeping only with one woman and is committed to her are they married in the eyes of God or do they also need man's testimony by means of a legal paper? What makes a marriage? Is it the legal paper that holds marriages together or determination of the to who claim to love each other? I am not arguing against marriage, so don't take me wrong.
If a couple who is gay live in a monogamous relationship, and are moral citizens in all regards, are they immoral?
Now to add to all this what about woman being silent in church? It is also in Corinthians and is taught as being cultural... Yet, if we take it as we do the verse you gave we should not. What if both are cultural? What if the idea is that of the Roman rape that was done not out of sexual identity, but out of brutality? Roman Caesars were known to rape other men to show their power over them... as well as the Roman guards would do so to humiliate those they conquered; in fact this practice is still used today as I recall that the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein were spoken of doing this to both men and women.
The main argument is that in the passage you gave, Paul made up a word... there were words that meant exactly what we may take gay or homosexual to mean today, yet.
1) ANDROKOITHS, having intercourse with a man
2) ARRENOGAMEW, to marry men
3) ARRENOKOITHS, a sodomite (in the Attic form)
4) ARRENOMANHS, mad after males
5) ARRENOMIKTHS, a sodomite
6) ARSENOMIKTHS, also a sodomite
7) ARRENOMICIA, the word for sodomy itself
8) ARRENOPIPHS, one who looks lewdly on males.
Paul makes up a word out of two words...
In Greek, that reads (in transliterated form), "KAI HOS AN KOIMHQH META ARSENOS KOITHN GUNAIKOS, BDELUGMA EPOIHSAN AMFOTEROI; QANATOUSQWSAN, ENOIXOI EISIN."
Paul takes two words and makes them one. "ARSENOS KOITHN" Its meaning is vague... but roughly means soft male or effeminate male... as in the case of male prostitutes... It is somewhat like the cultural reference some use to say woman should not speak in church... as woman priestesses/prostitutes were the ones that spoke with authority and Paul did not want these woman to gain power in Corinth... thus stated they should remain quite. If this word is more about the male prostitutes then it does not have much to do with the typical gay couple who love each other in a monogamous relationship.
As you can see I can argue both sides... I can sound convincing on both sides... but am I convinced either way? No. The point is that it is not all as cut-and-dry as it seems... and in a real sense I appreciate Jennifer Knapp's honest answer... to me it is more honest than I have ever read before from someone in her position. There is no doubt she loves the Lord... and no doubt that she cannot deny who she is. The bottom line is the bible states that we should not judge things before the appointed time. Meaning in the end all will be judged by the words of Christ Jesus. Until then all of us who believe are given grace and faith to walk in the grace we receive. Some walk more boldly though appear to be more worldly... and some walk more timidly and with less faith though they appear in our eyes more holy and pure... God judges the heart and our inner being. As I stated already, even a clear conscience means nothing... we can so easily deceive our self.
Don't get me wrong...homosexuality is just like any other sin as far as I'm concerned. What I have a problem with is the flagrant 'in your face' attitude.
My main problem is not about the "sin"... I know many heterosexual marriages that are just wrong and should have never been...
I see it a matter of grace. As far as grace I see no real limits, as far as a persons struggle in Grace, I believe if allowed, Love is the winner. As far as a person and their personal battle, I view them first as a believer and then deal with whatever their struggle is.
I have a friend who is a medical marijuana advocate. I am in agreement with him and see nothing wrong with what he does as far as that. Yet, he has another issue. He was a pothead before Jesus. He is a user and has found mental and physical reasons to keep using. It is deeper than that also. He is a user of people. His view of a friendship is what others add to his project. He wanted me to help validate his "ministry" to help those who need medical marijuana. When I was unable to get back to him for a while due to my surgery and other things, he began to leave messages that if I did not call him back I did not love him.
He has issues deeper than smoking pot. He has emotional/spiritual issues that go deep that he uses pot to mask. I go back and forth with the idea that God gave pot for people like him to bear with life or that my friend can only be turned over to the hands of God for Him to deal with, as I cannot.
I have friends who are gay. One left was gay all his life, got married, had children, yet left his wife for drugs, (gay) sex and rock and roll... after 20 years he and his wife got back together. I have known him for about 6 years now... he still sees himself as gay, yet because of his marriage vows sees he has made a sacrifice for his marriage. He loves his wife of course and even sends me articles stating that a gay person can have a fulfilling heterosexual marriage because of the love for the other. I have other friends who are openly lesbian and speaks of her "wife" lovely... and she is very much vocal about her faith in Jesus. She lived many years as a "straight" woman until she could not bear with the inner truth about her sexuality. In her mind, she is freer now in many ways than she was living in fear of being found out, and exposed. I know a couple in my church whose son is gay and left the church because he found no acceptance. They hurt so much and as I talk to them they see me as encouraging in that I accept gay people and see them like anyone else.
I realized a while back, I cannot change anyone, and if I did it would be worse for them as they would be in my image of who they should be. Instead now, I see that God has a handle on many things I did not see before. If God changes me in some way (or not) I must accept what I am given and live with it until God does something.
I know I am far from perfect... and yet God loves me...
Again, to me it is a case by case issue. I know there are some who are gay who believe it is a sin... so as I see it, it is to them. If that is the case then they need to follow the journey God has for them. If someone does not... regardless to whether I do or not, most likely I will not convince them any more than I can convince my pothead friend of his own deeper need. In the end, I can love them and accept them as Christ loves and accepts me. I can be there in their good times and in their bad times.
If I meet a man who gleefully speaks of rape and the Grace of God, I would not have fellowship with him. Yet, the majority of gay people I know, I would not hesitate to sit with them anymore than Jesus did with the sinners He ate with.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Michael Spencer passed away April 5th, after being diagnosed with cancer. He will be missed. Andrew Jones AKA TSK goes more in-depth here.
There are some great memorials on the iMonk Blog. It is well worth the visit.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I am still a fan of Camper Van Beethoven. Their songs often are dark, brooding, quirky, funny, and at times deeper than they appear in their meaning. This song is called Life is Grand.
Life is Grand by Camper Van Beethoven
And life is grand
And I will say this at the risk of falling from favor
With those of you who have appointed yourselves
To expect us to say something darker
And love is real
And though I realize this is not a deep observation
To those of you who find it necessary
To conceal love or obscure it, as is the fashion
Thursday, April 08, 2010
I received this email today and thought is was interesting.
DO YOU KNOW HOW THE APOSTLES DIED?
The disciples of Jesus gave their lives for the preaching of the gospel.
1 Matthew: Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia , killed by a sword wound
2 Mark: Died in Alexandria , Egypt , after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead
3 Luke: Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
4 John: Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome . However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos . He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos . The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey . He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
5 Peter: He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
6 James: The Just, leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. * This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
8 Bartholomew: Also known as Nathaniel Was a missionary to Asia . He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey . Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
9 Andrew: Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras , Greece .. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: 'I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.' He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
10 Thomas: Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent
11 Jude: Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
12 Matthias: The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
13 Paul: Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire . These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
Perhaps this is a reminder to us that our sufferings here are indeed minor compared to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles disciples during their times for the sake of the Faith. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake:
But he that endureth to the end shall be saved. ~ Matthew 10:22