Thursday, May 5, 2016

How I Would Fix America

So the slogan seemed to work, Make America Great Again, and Donald Trump is our republican nominee for President. Love or hate the Donald, it looks like we will be hearing from him a lot. On the other side, it's probably going to be Hillary, which in my opinion is even worse. It's not good news politically, and many on my FB post are sharing their disappointment in many ways. I figure since many won't vote for either candidate, it's time to put in my 2 cents. If you are going to write in a name, how about me? Why you ask? Here is my plan to fix America.

First, I'm going to make a law that a store cannot be larger than 2500 square feet in space unless it sells hunting or fishing gear. That's right, the giant stores have to go. No more big box store, no more giant parking lot, no more row of check out lanes with no one working them. You sell your item, you sell shoes or dresses or watches or jewelry or meat or fruit. We are getting rid of the Super Center and we are bringing back the mom and pop shop. Next, we tax higher the stores that have an out of state cooperate office, so locally owned shops can be more competitive. Tax breaks and tax incentive for the small business owner. We are also going to give them options to own their building and stop flushing so much money away renting commercial property and being priced out.

We get the mom and pop stores back, then we limit the size of school buildings. There has to be a school for a neighborhood, no more of this giant school building business. We stop pumping money into the bureaucracy behind schools, we begin to limit things above the local school level. We ditch the buses and the national staff that puts out mandates that make no sense. We send the federal money to the state level, the state cuts back and then funnels that money to the local level and school get smaller and teachers teach with more play and better resources. We support our kids in our community schools and actually have a community.

The last one is tricky, because you can't get a law to make this one work. We need to convince the mega church to go away and become a church planting church. Better to have 5 community churches of 200 than one giant church of 1,000. I know, you can get cooler stuff with a thousand people, but if you have 5 solid community churches that work together, you can actually make an impact in your community. Let's meet people where they live instead of having a giant church across town. Bring back the church that everyone can get to know everyone, and the church grows by planting a new work in another part of town. You get to be 350 people, you take 100 people who live close together and you start another church. You don't build a bigger building, you don't get a bigger parking lot, you plant a new church.

All of these things have one main thing in common. I believe them to be the foundation of community. We have lost community, and have become so individualistic, so selfish and self entitled that we are tearing this country apart. People don't care about others, they only care about themselves. Marriages break apart because people are selfish. Families are torn apart, communities break down and society as a whole begins to decay because people are selfish. We end up with Donald and Hillary because people are selfish. Not only that, but we have become so self-focused we don't see what we have lost. Community made us better, made us stronger wiser. We did great things together. We built an amazing country that we are now flushing down the toilet. Without a strong a vibrant community, the nation has no cohesion. Bring back the community markets, bring back the community school, bring back the community church. We need that more than a wall, an increased minimum wage, a ban on Muslims or expanded Obamacare. We need each other.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Training the Sacred for the Ordianry

What happens when the sacred becomes common and ordinary? There are things that God has set up and instituted and they are holy and sacred. The church is His body, communion, baptism are things that are sacred and set apart for God. The Word of God and the pieces that God has put in place for His bride, the church.  We need to take these things seriously as we approach God, as we read His word together and pray together in our acts of Worship. We are often in danger of being too casual with the sacred acts and times that we should bring in offering to God.

Marriage is sacred, the family is sacred, life is sacred. Those things have lost meaning in our culture and are set aside, cast aside and destroyed with very little thought or concern. We are on the verge of being a country that profanes what God has said is sacred. We have stopped caring about the things that God has said are sacred. You can buy a divorce on the internet these days for a quick and easy destruction of marriage. Families are split and torn and separated all the time without a thought. We hear people say "kids are resilient, they will be ok". We have simply justified the destruction of those things that God gave us for our benefit and for our good. 

This begins with me. Do I offer worship, or do I just go through the motions? Am I trying giving God my best?  Many of the sacred things in church we ignore and many of the things that are not sacred we elevate. We focus on appearance, worship styles, even want to critique the pastor on his preaching style and method. We often miss worship because we are not satisfied, and it makes me wonder who are we really worshiping? We are worried about the style of music, the people who are singing or playing or leading.

Sometimes I think we worship a God who worships us.

Is our worship ordinary? Are we giving what we have left or are we giving the best. Do we schedule God around our life or our life around God? What priority is God in our lives? Much of what God is proclaiming through the prophet is what we are guilty of. We give God lips service, we can talk a good game with church folks, but what do we look out outside? Where are our hearts? It may look like we are bringing in our gifts and our offerings to the temple, but are they blind and lame?

Jesus says this in Matthew 5:23-24, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

What is in our lives comes out in our gifts. When we sing praise, it is the same mouth we use for cursing others? Do we speak encouragement and condemnation from the same mouth? What is the condition of our hearts, and how does it effect our worship?

Have our attitudes become focused on ourselves? The root of detestable worship is selfishness. We want to keep the best for ourselves, so God gets the leftovers. We want to have the things we want, so we give God what we don't want. We cling to those things which we like, that we want and we think they are going to make us happy and bring us joy. Even they become routine, they become addictions, they begin to ensnare us and we become broken and bitter and resentful and we don't worship God.

It's easy to give up the things we don't really care about. It's easy to drop the sins that have not ensnared us. What about the sins that we hold close, that we cherish? Are they standing in the way of worship? I worry that so often in the church we have created for ourselves that we are simply worshiping ourselves, making an idol of ourselves.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

My War with Bitterness and Frustration

There are days when I just want to pack up a few things and leave civilization all together. I hear things on the radio, the news, read them online, the news paper and in social media. This world makes me upset, sometimes just plain angry. I shouldn't get mad, I should just trust God, but I struggle. I don't understand how people can be so ignorant sometimes.

We are all about social progress these days. We are focusing on self esteem and self expression. Now that gay marriage is legal, it's transgender time. Now we want anyone to be able to express any gender they want. This means I can go in the ladies locker room if I decide I feel like a woman that day. News flash, this is stupid and ludicrous. Your gender is genetically defined, it's not a choice. I can't decide to be a woman, a cat or a tree. I'm a human male, it's not a choice. It's not open to interpretation. It's not fluid. What is wrong with this country?

I'm not going to start on politics, socialism, the election and the running joke that has made of our country. The selfish and short sighted worldview in our country is ridiculous. Why would we make it easier for pedophiles when things like pedophilia is on the rise? Had America gone stupid?

These issues aren't even my biggest issues lately. I'm frusterated most of all with the church I see in this country. The gates of hell may not prevail against the church, but America trashed it pretty bad. Our manners are horrible, people are selfish and shallow, the doors are closing, the need is huge and pastors are burned out. The only ones doing well are the prosperity preachers and the heretics. We are a country of shallow thinking, feeling driven, needy and lazy people.

We took the church and made it a business. Pastors embrace a CEO model and age more worried about being respected and having authority than walking with people. In today's model, we would rather fire a struggling Pastor and throw out a volunteer that isn't performing well than to try to mentor them. We give up on people. Jesus restored Peter, we would have sent him back to fishing. Thomas world have been fired for doubting.

We study the Bible to prove our theology instead of letting the Bible prove our theology. We toss out anything with weight, we just want what is easy. We don't struggle, we don't suffer. We want easy life, God that fits in our pocket and a doctrine that we can understand, control and makes concessions for what we want.

News flash, we are sinners, God is holy and you can't control anything. You can't tell your dead heart to beat. Sin is still sin. If you lie, cheat, steal, hurt people or lust, it's sin. Sex outside of marriage between a man and woman is sin. Always. God hates divorce, and your justification doesn't change that. We want to turn a blind eye, but never the other cheek. We will be ok with whatever Trump does or says but if a Pastor messes up, we shout crucify. Leave Mark Driscoll alone already, God will take care of Mark. Deal with Joel and Joyce.

There you go. More people will listen to Steven Anderson say something totally ignorant than will read my blog. People will flock to causes like gay, transgender pride rallies in support of Planned Parenthood, but won't give a thought of how their behavior is destroying America by making us selfish, blind and lazy. People have been so concerned about everyone being able to seek pleasure, we don't notice we are causing all the pain.

I struggle and I get angry. Part is my pride and my ego. I think I'm right and I think if people would listen to me, I could help fix things. I feel like I have some good things to say and contribute. Right now I have few real outlets. I'm frusterated because I see destruction and have little recourse. Maybe I'm a modern prophet, or just an arrogant guy who thinks he knows too much. Either way, I have to fight off the bitterness.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Can't I Just Earn It?

We just celebrated Easter, the amazing work of Christ on the cross, dead and rising again. It's am amazing story, we love to celebrate it and tell it and share it. We stink at living it though. Face it, it would just be easier if we can just earn it. Ok, not easier in fact it's not even possible. We have already lost our opportunity to earn it, but does it keep us from trying? Let's face it, we don't know how to really experience grace. We spend our lives trying to measure up to what we already have. I do it, and you probably do it too. It's human nature. If you notice, the Christian faith is the only religion in the entire world that has the concept of grace. In every other world religion and cult, you get to heaven by earning it, doing more right and less wrong and following the rules.

In our American Christian faith, I notice we have several "works" that we don't call works, but we like to tack on to the end of things. See if you agree with me on these. The first is knowing stuff. If you are a serious Christian, you gotta know stuff. Maybe some of it is Biblical stuff, and then there are things you know about the Rapture, Christian authors or music, and church history. You know what the 10-40 Window is, you know when Lifelight is held. You probably should know some popular Bible Podcasts, some pastors and teachers and scholars. We like knowing stuff, and the more stuff you know, the better you are.

You have to have your daily stuff. You gotta have a quiet time, a nice collection of Christian devotional material. If you pray every day you are good. If you pray with your family you are even better. If you pray with your family and a coworker you are amazing. Don't forget to read your three chapters of the Bible every day so you can read the entire Bible in a year. Don't forget to share your stuff on Facebook or Twitter.

Of course a good Christian is at church every time the doors are open. Sunday Mornings are just for the novice. If you are really saved, you go Sunday Night, Wednesday night, you attend Small Group, prayer group, life group, missions group, committee meetings, business meetings and anything else you can attend. You strive to prove how committee we are to Jesus by spending every moment we can in the church building. If we are super saints, we might have a set of keys so we can open or lock up. Peter may have had the keys to the kingdom of heaven, but that's not as awesome as the keys to the prayer room.

Let's not forget the time factor. How long have you been saved, how long has it been since you sinned? How long has it been since you been to church? How long have you been married, how long have you been attending church or Sunday School? How long since your last confessions? Have you put in your time? How about your money? What is your percentage at? Are you giving pretax? Are you tithing your gross or just your take home?

Yes, there was some humor and maybe a little sarcasm here, but I hope it made you think. None of these things are bad, going to church is great. Reading your Bible is important and amazing. Being in a small group, in Sunday School, those are amazing things. Being a Christian for many years helps you gain wisdom, and of course you need to be involved in your local church. It's not the things themselves that's a problem, but when they become the end in themselves. Reading the Bible is not about reading the Bible, but learning more about God and growing in relationship with Him. Prayer is not about spending the right amount of time in prayer, but spending time with the Father.

The good things we do, we do because we love God, or at least we should. We must be sure we never swap our obedience to the Father for duty or obligation. We do what we do from love, not to earn love. Our lives are spent giving glory to God, not earning glory from God.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Audio Post, What Do You Think?

I am trying something new.  This is an audio post I recorded while driving today. Please give me some feedback! Thanks everyone.

First Audio Post

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Does God Know? Sheep, Goats and Universal Atonement

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:11-13 ESV

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Matthew 25:32-33 ESV

What we have in these verses are two views of what is going to happen at the judgement on the last day.  The first is John actually seeing the event,  the second is Jesus telling the Disciples what will happen. These events are going to happen,  and they are set.  God,  being outside and not bound by time is already at judgement,  He has already seen judgement and He has told us through Jesus and through John. This is a done deal,  we are just waiting for it to happen. 

While we are waiting for this event to happen,  we are arguing about things like election and predestination.  My question for those who are against predestination is simple.  God can see the sheep and the goats,  who is saved and who is not. Can someone who is right now a goat but at judgement is a sheep choose to reject Christ.  It at the end of time,  God has already seen an individual,  and since God is outside of time,  God has already judged that person and they are saved,  can they choose to not be saved? Can man choose to reject what God has already seen?

I hope you see the issue with rejection of God's calling and predestination.  It means that John's vision isn't set because God does not know who is sheep and goat. Those of you who say "God knows but we can still choose" are making a logical fallacy to simply support your rejection of predestination.   The bottom line is,  God has already seen who is a sheep,  He calls those who are sheep,  and He has know and willed it since the foundation of the world. If this is not true, then God is as ignorant of the future as we are.

The other issue is of course the cross. It's believed within orthodox Christianity that Christ carried the wages of sin on the cross. The doctrine of Limited Atonement says that when Christ died,  He carried the sin of the elect,  those who will be sheep on the last day.  The doctrine of unlimited or universal atonement says the cross bore all the sins of every person who ever lived. Let's take that view to it's logical outcome.

We know God made Christ who knew no sin to become sin for us. In doing so, our sin is not counted against us. Our sin is no longer accounted to us and we are no longer alienated from God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that because God made Him sin, we have become the righteousness of God.  If Christ took the sins of every person ever, then everyone has become the righteousness of God.

I know what you are thinking. 1 John 2:2, He is the propitiation for the whole world, but this means every nation. If this means every person, no one would go to Hell because propitiation is justification and reconciliation. The only other option is for the blood to not fully complete the work of Christ on the cross. To believe that the sacrifice isn't effectual until we accept it puts the final work of salvation in our hands.

In essence, Christ blood covered almost every sin. The only sin not covered is sin of my accepting Christ. For universal salvation to work, we must be pardoned for this sin by our decision to follow Christ.  We must finish the work Christ started.  This idea is nothing short of heresy.

The other option is the blood covers everyone, but God withholds it until we accept. This negates the idea of Christ reconciling us to God, we are reconciled to God by our repentance. Christ simply becomes the conduit. We also end up back at the point of questioning if God knows the future. Why would He withhold from those who He knows will reject.

The whole line of questioning brings us to the argument of God is love, would He choose some to go to hell. This line of questioning will take us to the same place. Why would God create someone to send them to hell? Any way you cut it, if you believe God knows the future and can see the end of time, then God created people who He knows will go to hell. He is not helpless, clueless and silently hoping people will accept Him. He already knows.

The only logical way to reject these ideas is to embrace a theology that man finishes the work of Salvation by accepting Christ and God does not know the future. If the work is of Christ and God can see the sheep and the goats at judgement, the reality of predestination and limited atonement are in my mind settled. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bill Nye, Black Holes and Evidence for God

In a recent debate, Bill Nye was asked the question "what would cause you to believe in God" and his answer was "evidence". I want to challenge Bill Nye on this for a second with a cosmic wonder, the black hole. Have you ever seen a black hole? In a picture maybe or on a video? I've seen lots, but you know what, they aren't real pictures. The truth is, we can't see black holes. We can't find them, we can't detect them and we have no idea if they are really there. We think they are, and there are things than help us guess they exist and even where they exist.

A black hole, in theory, is caused by a collapsed star that is a super dense mass of atoms, no empty space just packed in particles. It has major gravity, like a whole lot of gravity and it pulls everything down and smashes it to the thickness of an atom. It even traps light in the gravitational pull and nothing escapes. That is why we can't see it, we see things when light bounces off and comes back to our eyes. We also use radio waves and microwaves and sonar waves, all these things bounce back, just like light. We see the reflection. Black holes don't reflect, they don't send stuff out, so we can't see them. Guess that's a good reason they are called black holes.

Bill Nye believes in black holes, he has done shows on them. I believe in black holes too, but because I've seen one but for the same reason Bill does. I have seen the evidence. You see, when you have that much gravity, it effects things. Stars and planets and comets and stuff. They are influenced by the gravity, they lose energy, change orbits and are moved and otherwise changed. I can't see the black hole, but I see it's effects.

When I'm sitting in my living room, I can't see if there is a breeze outside. I can't hear it, I can't feel it, but I know if there is a breeze blowing. I can see the effects of the breeze on the trees and bushes. I see the evidence. It's true with a breeze, with a black hole and with God. I see the evidence of God in my life, in the life of other people and in the world. I know what He has done in my life, changed me and helped me. I have seen how He has worked in my wife's life and how she has grown in faith. I see Him working on my kids, on people at church, and those who were once far from God and now are close to God. I see the evidence of God, sometimes like branches swaying and sometimes like the pull of gravity so strong that not even light can escape.

My question for Bill Nye is, what evidence do you want? What does it look like? If the pull of gravity is enough for a black hole, isn't the work of God in the lives of believers enough evidence? If you don't have to see the black hole, why do you have to see God? You can't touch the black hole, you can hear it or see it or smell it. Why the black hole but not God?