Monday, July 21, 2014

Are Tattoo sinful?

Let's hit a hot button issue today, are tattoos sinful?  This should be easy, after all the Bible says not to get a tattoo, right?  Cut and dry?  This passage is found in Leviticus chapter 19 verse 28, right among a whole bunch of laws.  To be blunt, to use this verse against tattoos is the worst case of picking and choosing what to obey in the history of picking and choosing.  This passage condemns blended fabric (no 50/50 cotton blends), eating fruit before it's been 5 years, cutting your hair and your beard.  We don't follow any of those, but attempt to enforce the tattoo, why?  I'll tell you why, we think tattoos are bad and evil and we need justification.  After all, bikers and sailors get tattoos, and they are mean and dirty and curse a lot.

The fact is, Leviticus chapter 19 is written to tell the Hebrews how to be different from the Gentiles.  All the things the Lord says NOT to do are things the worshipers of Baals and Ashura DID do as part of worship.  The verse says do not cut or tattoo yourself.  Remember when Elijah was on Mt Caramel with the prophets of Baal, and to attempt to get Baal to act, the prophets began to cut themselves?  Ya, the scars that remained would be the tattoo (they didn't have a tattoo gun).  They would rub ash or other dark colors into the cuts to make them colored (sort of) and that was their tattoo.  It was done for religious reasons, and was forbidden for ancient Hebrews.  Christians today are not ancient Hebrews and we need to understand the Bible in context.

What about your body being a temple, does that mean to take care of your body?  Most of the places that is mentioned is talking about sexual relations.  Your body holds the Holy Spirit, and when you have sex, two become one.  Do not join your temple with a pagan temple (in the case of pagan prostitutes as in 1 Corinthians 6).  It also talks about division in the church, since we are the temple if we destroy the church and separate, we dishonor God's temple and will be destroyed, the sin of Ananias and Saphira.

So, are tattoos a sin?  Yes and no.  For someone who has no moral objection, a clear conscience and feels it's ok, they are free in Christ to get a tattoo.  For someone who feels it's wrong, it's sin for them.  The Bible does not tell Christians not to get a tattoo, but it does tell us to listen to our conscience and not to offend others with our freedoms in Christ.  We are free in Christ to get a tattoo, but not free in Christ to offend another brother.  Keep them modest, keep them free of profanity, vulgarity and immorality (no naked people).  Keep them somewhere they don't offend people and don't condemn a person who feels a tattoo is a sin for them, because if it's a sin for them, they need to abstain.  For the rest of us, make sure you find a good artist!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Original (and Origin) Flaming Faggot

Maybe you have heard the term "faggot" or "flaming faggot" used in a derogatory way in referring to homosexual men.  Have you ever wondered where the word came from, or why it's used?  It's interesting enough that it shares a history with Christians, since Christians and homosexuals are at such odds, maybe it's worthwhile to discovered a shared past, or a shared enemy.  In this case, that enemy is fire.  You see, a faggot is not a gay man, a faggot is a bundle of sticks.  These were used to light fires, specifically when you burn someone alive at the stake.

In the early days of Christianity, professing Christians were burned alive at the stake.  They would be tied to a large poll coming from the ground, surrounded with wood, specifically faggots and they would be set to flaming to kill the Christian in a gruesome manor.  Many Christian men and women died in this way.  This tradition was stopped when Christianity became accepted and eventually the religion of the empire, but this does not end the time of the flaming faggot.  It shows up again in our shared past.

During the dark ages, the Roman Church began to condemn people as heretics for certain activities.  Some of these included sharing and reading the Bible without permission from the Bishop, or for worship outside of the church.  The most famous of these was the Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of faithful men and women were killed.  Many of them were burned alive at the stake for heresy.  We also see some tried as witches or devil worshipers and condemned to death.  Among those where any who were involved in homosexual activities, they would be burned alive, victims of the flaming faggot.

Even in this country, during the early days of America, men and women (mainly women) were burned alive at the stake, thought to be witches.  Those engaging in homosexuality were also thought to be involved in the occult or witch craft and were burned alive.  Death by burning has occurred all through our history, Christianity has been plagued by the smell of human flesh burning since the beginning.

Today, there are plenty of burnings happening, but they are not those of the flaming faggot type.  No one is being burned alive, but the rage and the anger continues to burn.  Protests, sit ins and demonstrations on both sides as issues rage and boil.  We have not loved one another for being two groups who claim to be about love.  Neither side shows much love to the other.

I hope that we can put the flaming faggots aside and act out the one thing we are both speaking and teaching, love.  Do homosexuals and Evangelical Christians have a lot of differences?  Yes, they do.  I myself do not believe that a homosexual lifestyle is pleasing to God, but I can love.  I can love the man who drinks, the man who curses, the man who has sexual relationships with multiple women or who loves another man.  I don't condemn any of them, but I love and pray for everyone, because everyone needs grace.  Let's put down the torches and let's put away using derogatory terms on each other and live out that one teaching we both shout so loudly.  Love.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reader's Request: Who Are You?

What is your Primary identity?  Who are you?  Well, I'm a dad, I'm a husband, I'm an operator at a food ingredient manufacturing plant, I'm a friend and a brother, I'm still a son even with my parents gone to Heaven.  I'm a lot of things, but what is my primary identity?

There are two kinds of people in the world, that's it.  Just two and the identity is most obvious at the day of the Great White Throne.  There are sheep and goats.  That's it, you are either on the right or the left.  The sheep, the believers, the followers of Jesus Christ are on the right, the goats, the lost, the unbelievers are on the left. You are either a Christian or a Pagan.  That's all.

So you say "that's great, that is who I am then, but who am I now?"  If you are a Christian, than any day, on your best day or your worst day you are Christ in __________(insert your name).  John Lynch delivers a great message you should watch here called Truefaced.  John says that you are wrapped in a robe of righteousness always because you are in Christ.

We like to define ourselves by what we do, what our job title is or what we have accomplished.  We put letters after our name, before our name, MD, PhD, Dr. Rev, the list goes on and on.  Who are you really?  I would submit to you that who you really are is the part of you that you are going to be for eternity.  That means you are either a sheep, a follower, an adopted Child of God, a Christian or you are not.  Where you spend eternity matters infinitely more than what you do for a living, what degrees you have, and what titles you carry.  The short time you spend in this life will have no consequence after one million years into eternity, and you will just be getting started.

We don't often fathom eternity, but being an eternal being, having infinite time ahead of us, that is where it matters who you are.  Are you one of His, or are you at odds with God and spending eternity separated from Him?  I recommend watching the video I posted earlier, and see how you can continue to grow into who you already as a Christ follower.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Should We Be Sin Police?

News flash, I sin.  Bigger news flash, you sin too.  We are all guilty of sin, and so is every person on earth.  When it comes to sharing our faith, how much do we need to point out to people they are sinners.  Do people know they are sinners?  Who's job is it too convict of sin?  What should we as believers do when it comes to the sin of another person?

Talking with my wife this morning about some of the people Jesus talked too.  He forgave them, he healed them, but seldom did he bring up their sin, with the exception of the Woman at the Well.  Never did He tell them they needed to ask for forgiveness, He usually said something about their faith and that they were forgiven of sins.  Jesus knew these people already were under conviction, but we aren't Jesus.  So what do we do?

I believe most people know they have sinned.  I have talked to many who know they have sinned and done things wrong.  They need to know that Jesus died to free them from sins, that is the most important part.  The Holy Spirit will convicted them of sin.  They need to know there is freedom.  Peter and Paul both told people to repent and turn from sin.  We need to tell people there is freedom, but not always do we need to point out how much sin they really have.

In my experience, I have asked people if I owed them a dollar for every good thing, and they owed me a dollar for every bad thing, who owes who money?  The reality is most people know they owe money because they have done wrong.  Let's let the Holy Spirit do the conviction, we need to tell them how to be free.  Praise be to God through Jesus Christ for our Freedom!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dream Big

Do you dream big?  I hope you do.  I have been a pretty big dreamer most of my life, I do sometimes fail when it comes time to "pull the trigger".  You have probably read some of my big dreams if you are a subscriber.  You know I have had a big dream about church planting.  God has not yet opened that door, I keep hoping and praying and waiting.  It hasn't happened yet.  Another one of my big dreams is what I want to focus on today.  A big dream with Student Ministries.  Remember The Revolution Inversion?  Still a dream.

If you don't recall, The Revolution Inversion is calling people to revolt towards God away from society.  We have these so called revolutions that push us away from truth, morals and God's laws.  The RI (for short) is a call to move back towards God, to love God and love others.  It's a call to build real community and to reach out and serve those around you.

The core idea came with Bible Studies that can be done over a quick break, I call them Power Snacks.  Each Power Snack is a couple of verses and a couple of questions to be asked during lunch break or any other time that students can get together.  From there, Small Group Bible Studies that eventually grow into a full out Campus Ministry that orginizes into a club.  Call it church planting for the High School, growing Student Ministry Orginizations on the Great Student Mission field we call the Public School.

I have materials done, I have resources in the works.  I lack time and funds, something that always is in short supply.  My big vision?  RI Campus Ministries all over the US, RI groups in the work places, taking a 15 minute break for a Bible Study.  Camps and retreats that students can come too and get trained and eqipped.  Adult volunteers working in school campuses to bring the gospel.  Christian teachers partnering with students.  It's a big dream.

Will I ever get there?  I sure hope so.  It's a big dream, a God sized dream.  I pray every day that God will allow me to be used by Him to reach out and touch the hearts of people.  My dream is to empower students to do great things for God before they graduate, to be amazing Disciples of Christ and an example to all.  I hope you will pray for my big dream and share your big dream with me.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Living in Iowa

I enjoy Iowa.  Granted, I almost live in Nebraska and South Dakota, but my address is in Iowa.  I went fishing tonight. . . didn't catch anything.  As I was gathering stuff and walking back to my truck, the birds were still singing a little, the fireflies were coming out and the frogs and crickets were singing away.  The grass and trees were deep green and the air was beginning to cool enough to make it comfortable.  It's a beautiful place to live.  With all the of the beauty and all the great opportunities to do things I love, the minute God calls me to leave I'll be gone.  The reasons is that there is no beauty apart from the beauty of being secure and at peace in the Lord.  I hope and pray you find that tonight.

Mid Morning Thoughts- Do You Need Church?

It's Sunday morning, an we are getting ready for church.  Well i'm not, I'm writing, I already got ready for church.  Across the country, people are getting pretty (or handsome or whatever) and getting ready to go to a building they call church.  A good number of them are running late, some are fighting, many are yelling at kids.  This weekly routine we get into on the way to church, then we put on the happy face, play nice for about an hour and then we go home.  Why do we do this each week?

Most of us are hungry for more of life than the 9 to 5, the weekends of yard work, relaxation and playing with the toys we work so hard for.  We are left feeling empty with the running ragged, playing hard when we are done and looking forward to the future of. . . . well death.  There has to be more, right?  So pack up and head to church, looking for more.  Is the secret at church?  Nope.

The secret is the church.  You were made for community, to belong and to connect, and you need it often and you need is honest.  You need it more than just one hour a week, and you need more than superficial, happy face relationships.  You need people to love and care about you, to speak truth into your life and be the hands and feet of Jesus for you.  They need you to love and care about them, to speak truth and be the hands and feet in their lives.  You need them, they need you.  What you don't need is an organization to make this happen.  You need a church, and a great option is the local church.  Attend church, but don't wait for them to invite you into a small group, Bible Study or fellowship group to get involved with others.  Don't wait for others to come find you.  Be proactive, seek out fellowship and find what you need and what life is all about.  Drink up life my friends.