Is Christian Business a Contradiction?

May 4th, 2010 Comments Off on Is Christian Business a Contradiction?

This is an incredible article written by Shaun Groves. Some of the items here will be enlightening, some challenging. All of it will make you think. Below is a clip, I encourage you to read the whole post.

Thoughts on the Exclusivity of Christ in a Relativistic Culture

April 30th, 2010 § 4

This is a hard topic.  One I have been thinking about quite a lot lately.  I wrote a book which will be forthcoming when I am good and ready.  The book deals with death and dying, but it also deals with liberty, freedom and true humanity.  I allowed a friend to read the proof copy recently.

Obviously, there is no way to address these topics without addressing them as they relate to the King.  I believe that true freedom and liberty can only be reached when we live out the humanity we were made to live out as loyal subjects in a kingdom.

My friend is a wonderful artist.  Made in the image of God, she reflects his glory in so many amazing ways.  Her daughter, whom I have gotten to know, is 23 and honestly a special person.  Well rounded and educated, she is a shining testament that my friend cares about good things.  She has raised at least one child so that I can personally see how her influence on this earth has been good.  It is not as if it is up to me to approve of her and her life, but in many ways I do.  She is a terrific individual worthy of great respect.

The thing is, she talks like a universalist.  She believes there is a “Christ in all of us”  and that all of creation is filled with God.  Personally I don’t exactly disagree.  I think that all of His creation echos his name and his glory.  So it is easy to see where she would say God is in the trees and the hills.

At any rate, she had some thoughts on my book which were well received and I am contemplating.  She basically said I might want to make it more accessible to readers who are not openly Christian.  Her words were not “tone down the exclusivity of Christ stuff.”  But I think it is fair to say that is what she was getting at.

Herein lies the tension.

We live in a relativistic culture where people are happy to accept my point of view if I don’t question theirs.  And I have no desire whatsoever to question their point of view.  I think each and every human being has something special to share with the world and their opinions and perspectives should be valued and listened to.  So I don’t want to challenge them, I want to listen respectfully to what they have to say.

The problem is that I live as a subject to a king.  If my neighbors were openly plotting rebellion to the US government and shipping secrets to the Islamic Fundamentalists, shouldn’t I in the very least challenge their thinking and remind them that they are subjects of the US and could be tried for treason and executed?

Since Voltaire, the French Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and a thousand other small events in human history, western individualists have lost an understanding of what it means to have a king.  We believe in personal sovereignty.  Our ancestors understood Monarchy in a much different way than we do.  Once upon a time, you had a King who fully controlled your life.  You could only hope that he was a good king and not a tyrant, because you were completely at his mercy.

This Jesus I am talking about, he is a good king.  But he is still a king.  Rebels to his authority will not be tolerated forever.  He will subdue his enemies just like any king would.  But he is good to his people.

This is a hard thing to understand and to teach in a relativistic world where everyone’s opinion should be valued.  I do however, think it is the only hope we have.  I cannot long tolerate a world where each individual is their own sovereign ruler.  I need a king, because frankly I am an idiot and so are you.

I believe that we were made to live in perfect harmony and beauty with each other and with the world (like the Navi on Avatar), but our ancestors made some decisions that screwed us over and now we have wars, death, poverty, oil spills and illegal immigration issues.  Honestly, just think about it.  Doesn’t that idea of harmony and perfection resonate with something inside you?  Doesn’t it make sense that we were made to enjoy that?  That our purpose is somehow not being fulfilled?  I think this king who leads us has the answers to the deepest longings of all our hearts.  The only way to live out true humanity is to recognize the king and bend the knee to him.

It is clear to me that I am not good enough to be my own king.  I need one more powerful.  Does that mean I am weak?  Yes it does.   But I am no weaker than anyone else.  So far in these thousands of years of history, no one else has solved these problems.  I don’t suspect that I will either.   I simply have come to the point where I have been forced to recognize my own weakness and inability to create much of anything pure around me.  Thankfully I have a king who does that.

Each one of us is a subject of the King from Nazareth.  Loyal or disloyal, we have a king.  What you do with the King is up to you, but it won’t keep him from being King.

I see my responsibility as a servant of that king to recognize the beautiful and unique way he has made every person on the planet.  I should honor them since they reflect the image of God, but I must also make sure I let them know that they live in a Kingdom.  And whether they know it or not, there is a King.

So the question is, where do I draw the line on how “accessible” my book is to those who do not recognize the authority of the king?

It hit me like a Mack Truck

April 25th, 2010 Comments Off on It hit me like a Mack Truck

So today, just a little while ago in fact, I went for a run.  Yes I have refrained from discussing my recent discovery of this sport until I was certain I would actually persevere.  More on that later (because perseverance is only certain upon death).

For now let me just tell you what happened on my run.  I was listening to my good friend Bob Smart as I often do when I run.  My listening choices when I run kind of boils down to Bob Smart or Bono with a few others thrown in here and there for the sake of variety.  Yes Bob is a preacher and Bono is a singer, but they both have a great deal to say about the human condition and redemption.  I find myself learning from both and entertained at the same time.

At any rate, today I was listening to Bob preach on Ecclesiastes.  One of the things he mentioned is that the “teacher” was talking about intellectual fallacies that are still common  today.  The teacher is the person whose voice we hear as we read that book of the Bible.  He continually repeats that every attempt to find meaning or purpose is meaningless.  One of the attitudes which the teacher tested out is what we would call Nihilism.  This is the attitude expressed best by the belief that there is no real purpose in our existence and all we can really do is wait to die.

At the time Bob began to discuss nihilism I was running across a part of UNCW that’s really nice.  A gorgeous, wide, brick sidewalk runs between buildings which share brilliant landscaping and beautiful architecture.  These things were designed to be enjoyed by man.  This part of campus was supposed to make life worth living.  Nihilism sounded so unattractive in light of the culture man had created around me.

Of course I was semiconscious that UNCW is indicative of most of America.  Growing numbers of people are beginning to believe that Christianity does not have relevant answers for the problems they face.

Then it hit me like a freight train (or a mack truck to be faithful to the title of this post) that the reason growing numbers of Americans are finding Christianity largely irrelevant is because more and more American Christians are nihilists who carry the Bible around with them.  What would be attractive about that???

Seriously, with the popularity of left behind theology which teaches that you just need to pray a prayer and then start hoping to die so you can get out of here, I would hate christianity too if I thought that is what it taught!

Thank God for making it clear to us that mankind’s job is to bring culture, art, beauty and whatever it takes to make life worth living here and now.  Otherwise, I don’t think I could take it for very long.

The King

April 13th, 2010 Comments Off on The King

Relevant? Certainly not.
Would I do it? I doubt it.
Is it my only hope? Yes.

Did Glenn Beck Seriously say that??

March 10th, 2010 § 2

I think he claims to be a Mormon, so you maybe can’t fault him too much for not understanding the point of the Bible. But Glenn Beck is encouraging his listeners to leave their church if the church cares about social or economic Justice. Maybe the sound bytes I heard are ripped out of context,. but with an agenda like his, somehow I have a hard time believing that. In case you had any doubt, Justice is one of the most important themes in all of scripture. Please don’t attend a church that does not care about Justice.

“born again Christians” and Obama

February 28th, 2010 § 1

First of all, I am not sure if “Born again” means anything at all… does that mean you prayed some sort of a prayer when you were 12? I really think I could use an explanation on that. Secondly, based on these statistics from the Barna Group, American’s opinions are formed more by their party affiliation than their faith. (that is if “born again” is a designation that makes any sense at all…) The Line “when political affiliations and faith commitments are merged….” sort of bugs me. I am not sure whether that is possible. It seems to me that the message of Jesus should challenge ALL of our affiliations (to some extent) and not really merge with any of them. Please note, I don’t really have an opinion. Frankly I don’t pay much attention to Obama or the political process. Don’t shoot the messenger…

A great TED talk with Temple Grandin

February 24th, 2010 Comments Off on A great TED talk with Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin talks about her career, her passions, and helping other autistic children to be successful contributors to their world.

Unbelievable and Intolerable Stupidity

February 19th, 2010 Comments Off on Unbelievable and Intolerable Stupidity

I am disgusted. I am not the kind of person to say something like “that’s what’s wrong with kids today” (or maybe I am just getting old). But I just looked at the questions that are being asked in the history section of yahoo answers. It is disgusting! 90 percent or more are copied from a test. Someone wants to know who was ruler of Italy in 1690. I mean PUHLEEEZE! don’t you think a Wikipedia search will answer that faster? Or are you just that stinking lazy? Seriously, let me just say this…. there is absolutely no future for a society two generations down the line if people are seriously posting their test questions on yahoo answers. None…. Maybe I will move to Canada…

Stop Being Polite! It isn’t Healthy

February 18th, 2010 Comments Off on Stop Being Polite! It isn’t Healthy

Polite people suffer from panic attacks more because they are afraid to offend someone. I wonder if that’s why I am usually so relaxed….?

G*dda*ned Lyrics

February 17th, 2010 Comments Off on G*dda*ned Lyrics

Shock you?  I really didn’t mean to.  I was listening to LastFM today and this song caught me in the middle of work.

Usually I barely hear it.  I heard this!

Here are the lyrics to a song by Jay Brannan called Go*dam**d (and I put the asterick’s there if you are wondering…

I’m marching to Zion
A camera in my hand
I hear people cryin’
Dyin’ for this blood-stained land
The streets of old Jerusalem
Are lined with souvenirs and those buying them
It sounds cold, but I cannot see
How this theme park has shaped history

Cause virgins don’t have babies
And water isn’t wine
And there’s a holy spirit maybe
But she would never rent a room with walls built by mankind
Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground

Stand in line patiently
To supercharge your rosary
Or stuff your prayers inside this wall
We once had god trapped in this great hall
But we’ve been cast out from this place
They say a prophet floated from here to outer space
Am I crazy? maybe it’s me
But this all sounds like mythology

Cause virgins don’t have babies
And water isn’t wine
And there’s a holy spirit maybe
But she would never rent a room with walls built by mankind
Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground

Zeus was afraid of his girlfriend
So he swallowed her in bed
Then he bore forth Athena
When they cracked open his head
Her brother tried to rape her
Athena got away
And when his seed hit the ground
The grass gave birth that day
Now we all freely admit
This story’s clearly bullshit
No one would lay down their life
Or start a war for it
So throw your stones and pray
You’ll be rewarded someday
I hope it all goes your way
But something tells me
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
Save yourselves
From turning earth into hell

No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you
No one’s coming to save you

Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground

WOW.  These are certainly powerful lyrics.  Let’s evaluate this.

First of all – wow, what a great singer!  I really don’t know for sure what captured me faster the words in the background or the vocals.  I think I like Jay’s talent – and that needs to be said right away.

Second, this is a song about one of the most powerful things humanity must deal with, not only war which is powerful all by itself, but religious war.

Despite Brannan’s encouragement to stop the madness, I am convinced that religious war is something fallen humanity will never overcome.  Partly because our respective religions define us and shape us at our core, and also because whatever defines us is precious to us – precious to the point of dying over.  Some people are willing to die for their country, more for their families, but even more are willing to die for their religion.  For many people, religion is the most important part of life.

This battle that rages on over what Jay Brannan calls a “blood stained … theme park” has raged for thousands of years in one form or another.  The motivation of this war is led far more by human passions than divine interests.  This war is motivated by fear that if the warriors give up, they are admitting the weakness of their god(s).

Let me put this clearly.  A god who needs humans to fight his battles is already weak.  But many do don’t they?  It seems that most people think they’re god needs them to defend them, to feed them, to serve them.  A real God is one who serves and cares for his people – not the other way around.

Brannan says that people need to save themselves from turning earth into hell.  After all these years of human history, I am compelled to argue that this is a moot point.  People have clearly turned earth into hell over and over again without any sign of stopping.

But the story of the Bible reveals a God who promises to turn earth into heaven.  The God revealed in the Bible is not one who depends on us to fight his battles, but a God and King who leads the battle himself.  And Jay, this King, the one in the Bible, he makes us truly human.  Without that King, we will never understand true humanity.

Jay is right about a couple of things.  This war is terrible, and people should lay down their arms.  But he is wrong that no one is coming to save us.  He already has.  His name was Jesus.  And he is coming back to finish what he started.