Category Archives: Religion

You Know, Because It’s All About Me

A friend from high school recently posted a quote attributed to Richard Bach from Jonathon Livingston Seagull fame.

Richard Bach quote from FB

What an appealing yet completely dichotomous notion.  If our sole goal is to make ourselves happy, we acknowledge that we are the center of the universe.  In the long run, the universe – and all that is in it – exists to make us happy.  Period.

Babies act as if they are the center.  Cry – get milk, affection, clean diapers.  Men act sweet & caring to get attention, affirmation, and yes, sex.  So in effect, in our pursuit of self happiness, we will act in ways which try to manipulate the world so that we curry favor, respect, and love for our own benefit – to make us happy.  For example, we volunteer to “give something back” yet often advertise our activities so we achieve fame which makes us happy.  We care about impressing others only to make us happy, and this volunteering thing is self-promotion.  Sounds good, but ….

We don’t always act that way.  To continue the volunteer theme, I’ll agree that we do so to make us happy but also for other reasons.  The more altruistic may do it so that they feel good about themselves, justify their own station in life (mitigate their guilty feelings),  or even believe that it is necessary to earn or contribute to their salvation or sanctification. We are still doing it in some way that makes us happy but suddenly we aren’t quite the center of the universe anymore.

“Whoa. What’s with the salvation stuff you snuck in there?  And you first said we think we are the center of the universe.”  Yep.  You see, somewhere in our fallen nature, we still really do know that we aren’t the center of the universe.  Why?  Because we do care about something outside of us.  We do feel guilt, shame, frustration, etc., which we ought not feel if we truly believed we were the center of the universe (and could create our own reality and all that new age stuff).  We strive to achieve something – wealth, stuff, self-actualization, health, yoga, power, stuff – to make us feel better about ourselves.  And unless we are psychopaths, we are conflicted by our desire to the center of the universe – you know, “be like God” (Gen 3:5) and feeling like we ought to live by some moral code written on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15).   Hence the dichotomy and the frustration and the never ending search for something.

So, how do we solve the dichotomy?  Come to grips that we aren’t the center of the universe.  God is.  And we aren’t God.  And realize that we exist not to make ourselves happy, that is to glorify oneself.

The first question in the Westminster Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Advertisements

I’d Be Ashamed to be a Methodist

As a former Methodist, the continued self destruction of the UMC is like watching Wipeout. You can see it coming and you know it’s gonna hurt.  Today, this one sentence in a statement released by two United Methodist agencies** on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade caught my eye:

“In the wilderness of political posturing and divisive blaming and shaming, we seek to be a voice crying out to prepare the way for the Lord to bring about a new era of reproductive justice for our families and communities.”

These women use the biblical imagery of John the Baptist’s call to repentance to suggest that the UMC is doing Jesus’ will in promoting abortion.  Seriously?

As they say, silence implies agreement.

Read the entire statement and commentary at Juicy Ecumenism.
** This was in a official release signed by Julie Taylor (Office of Children, Youth and Family Advocacy United Methodist Women) and Amee Paparella (Director & Organizer for Women’s Advocacy General Board of Church and Society).

It Appears There is a Gift for Everything

Reason #42 to be a cessationist regarding NT charismatic gifts:  Prophetic Tattoo & Piercing Interpretation http://propheticevangelism.com/

As you might suspect, money is involved.

“In Christian theology, cessationism is the view that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history. Cessationists usually believe the miraculous gifts were given only for the foundation of the Church, during the time between the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, c. AD 33 (see Acts 2) and the fulfillment of God’s purposes in history, usually identified as either the completion of the last book of the New Testament or the death of the last Apostle.
Cessationists are divided into four main groups: …”

For  the rest of the article and more resources, visit the Monergism web site (http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Spiritual-Gifts/Cessationists-View-Articles/)

The UN Sec-General doesn’t quite get it

Sept. 19 press conference by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

All human beings have the inalienable right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. These are very fundamental rights. But, at the same time, this freedom of expression should not be abused by individuals. Freedom of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose. When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way. So, my position is that freedom of expression, while it is a fundamental right and privilege, should not be abused by such people, by such a disgraceful and shameful act.

When the practice of one’s religious beliefs is forbidden in some Islamic nations – when even holding such beliefs is forbidden – how pray tell can you say that an “inalienable right to freedom of expression” even exists?  Two quick points:

  • The only “common justice, common purpose” of Islamic nations is the world-wide submission by any means to Allan, the false god of Islam (aka the religion of peace).
  • Since the mere existence of any non-Islamic religious expression  provokes many Muslims, does Ban believe that those religious expression no longer warrant protection?

Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon – sir, you are a dhimmi.

(h/t The Volokh Conspiracy)

A snippet that says volumes

Sometimes a little snippet can be convicting.  The excerpt below was written by a dying woman to a friend – a non-Christian friend.

Here is the problem as I see it, and I don’t mean to be unloving. As I read through your list I can’t help but be struck by the fact that you are setting yourself up as judge. Now, if your morals are perfect and you are the one who judges the entire world that might work. But if each person is the final judge of what is good and what is evil we are going to end up with chaos…which is exactly what we have.

Since God is holy then every act that He performs is holy and righteous. While I know this doesn’t satisfy your questions I think you are seeking a God that you approve of. Instead, what we need to seek is the truth. It is not about a feeling. My feelings are often wrong. It’s about what the truth is. I can identify with a lot of what you’re saying because I used to find so many things in this world that went against my understanding of what God “should be like.”  (H/T to http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/06/richest-legacy-for-parents-and-children.html)

Regretfully, too often Christians – to include myself – worship the god we want rather than the God who is.   Forgive us.

Individual Christian v. Societal Responsibilities

The Bin Laden killing provides an example of where one’s personal actions (grounded in christian belief) may conflict with necessary actions of society.  This article in Momentary Magazine by Peter Wehner calls N. T. Wright to task for a flawed understanding of Jesus’ teachings and cites Paul in Romans 13 regarding the role of governments to maintain societal order.

1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. Forthere is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but alsofor the sake of conscience.  (ESV – Bible Gateway)

I’m still trying to get a fuller grasp of the “two kingdoms” concept, but I see this works within it.  We have Christian beliefs and roles which guide our daily living as well as our political leanings, yet we are not here to establish God’s kingdom on earth.  While sin and death have been defeated and Jesus has established the kingdom, it has not been fully realized here on earth.  Turning the other cheek yet not protecting the weak makes no sense.

First Amendment Right v. Christian Responsibility

Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way:  1) Florida pastor Terry Jones has a First Amendment right to burn a Koran.   2) The easily anticipated response of murder and mayhem by Islamic fundamentalists cannot be justified.

Dr. Albert Mohler has it right in this column:

There is no excuse for theatrics as a substitute for Gospel ministry.  That is the main issue here, from a Christian perspective. Pastor Jones is not wrong to see Islam as a way that leads millions of people away from the message of the Gospel, and thus to spiritual death. But he did not reach out with a Gospel message, he simply staged a theatrical stunt intended to draw attention to himself and his church.

I think one can even drill down to a more fundamental level. We are called to worship God in all that we do.  When we worship we give God glory and praise.   Jones’ actions did not give glory to God but to himself.   Jones became the focus – not God.  Jones chose to create a circus instead of preaching the Gospel.  He offered hatred instead of demonstrating the love of Christ to a fallen world.