Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The simple fact of the matter is (whether we want to accept it or not) that God, in the long ago, legislated morality, regardless of which giving of the law we are under, for all of mankind. It may be correct for man to say, “We cannot legislate morality,” and in a sense it is true…it does not begin with us. On the other hand, we must uphold the things of God and find within the whole of our lives God’s legislation, mercy and graciousness. In other words, we must make active His laws in our own. This is what our founding fathers had the wisdom to do and what we have foolishly gotten away from. They knew nothing of this nonsense about how we cannot “legislate morality.” They understood that in the end, whether we make the requirement of morality real or not, the moral demand of God will be our judge. You can choose to not go along with it. God has granted you that right. We can choose not to adopt His standard. He has given us that right. However, there are consequences for our choices and upon them our eternity hangs.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The first item is a small silver medal, kept in a wooden box in my office, one of the few reminders of a lost loved one. On it is a prayer that I use as my stimulus for prayer. The second item next to me is my pair of shoes. I remove them at least while I study to feel fully connected to the gift of this world. Third, and most obvious, are books, the simple smell of which triggers the want, need and desire to be studious and commune with the saints who wrote most of them, but are no longer among us. Finally, though this is not all that is involved, I have a cup of coffee, which I drinking fully, but slowly.
So, there I am, engaged in this odd scene, refining my sermon like a monk reciting some mantra, and in walks one of the leaders of the church. After a cordial greeting, he makes sure that he tells me “You shouldn’t be drinking that coffee…it is the Devil’s drink.” Well, so much for my focus. Switching gears however, I began to explain to him that I am only doing what religious men have done for years.
You see, coffee was not discovered until around 600 AD in the plateaus of central Ethiopia. At first it was worshipped (praised) for its medicinal qualities and was soon being used by the religious as a catalyst to meditation. Soon, coffee growing had spread from Ethiopia to India and from India to France. Europeans loved the strangely strong but enticing and aromatic brew. However, many warned, due to its origins use among pagans, that it was a threat to “Christianity.” The pope at the time, Clement VIII, decided to first try the drink before he issued a pervasive condemnation of the beverage. The result was not denunciation, but approval. As a matter of fact he blessed the drink and declared it “Christian.” His love for a good cup of “joe,” as some describe it, led to the springing up of coffee and tea houses across Europe, where the greatest of minds would gather and help usher in the “Age of Reason.”
By this time, my aged companion and fellow worker was not necessarily convinced of the Christian value of coffee, but was growing bored, so I cut right to the chase and said, “You shouldn’t be so quick to make assertions you know little about,” and went back to my work. It was a lesson I had reinforced for me time and again as a preacher. A lesson that says, “Don’t believe all you hear and make sure you know what you’re saying before you say it.”
We all do well to heed those words. As James would say, “Be slow to speak, swift to hear.” In this day, heed those words and live or… go ahead and put your foot in your mouth and suffocate in the generally accepted ignorance. The Devil’s drink is not coffee, but a good strong dose of ignorance on loose lips.
Friday, January 18, 2008
This year while waiting in line to get a last minute gift card at one of the local superstores, I got in line with perhaps the slowest cashier you have ever seen (and perhaps the most frustrated). At one of the busiest times of day her scanner on the counter gave out and would not seem to scan anything. Therefore, after she scanned item number one and it didn’t go, she got the hand scanner (that little gun looking thing that is portable – they ought to give them holsters and teach them quick draw for this time of year) and it worked fine. She then put the scanner away and went back to the stack of stuff the person in front of me was trying to get through the “less than ten items” line. On the second item, the scanner didn’t work either so the woman opened the drawer, got out the hand scanner, scanned the item and then put the hand scanner back. Same thing on the third through fiftieth item… scanner doesn’t work, get hand scanner, put hand scanner back, try counter-top scanner.
The thing that amazed me was not that this was so slow, but the woman’s willingness to continue in something that just wasn’t working and frustrating her to death, especially when she had a perfectly good alternative that she kept ramming back in the drawer. Each and every time she would go to the handheld, but then put it away, as if the other were going to magically fix itself. What a waste of time and energy.
How often does this ring true for us spiritually? We get caught in some desire or want. We begin to bear the consequences. God gives us a way out. However, we just toy with the escape and stay in the frustrating, shame-producing, hurtful, sinful path. How absurd! All the while God gets stuffed back in that proverbial drawer and waits for us to pull him out. Often it is only when it becomes convenient for us, or we, Like King Saul of the Old Testament, have been caught. Yet, God has your solution. Do you want it? He’ll be waiting for you! Don’t waste your time trying to manage the spiritually ineffective and defective. Strive for His perfection by doing His will.
Friday, December 07, 2007
I will be the first one to tell you that I do not typically get overly excited about what
Thus, when I had heard about the release of the “Golden Compass,” based on the books by known atheist Phillip Pullman, I really didn’t flinch. After all, what impact could it have? However, the more I thought about it, the angrier I grew. I looked at my daughter, whose imagination seems to have no bounds and I began to realize that for her, the thinking process would be a whole lot different. She would not have the experience I have. She would not understand hidden agendas and innuendo. She would not see the story for what it was and discount it? For her, there is the distinct possibility that her imagination could be shaped by her willingness to suspend her disbelief about this movie and a failure to have a firm basis to dismiss the fundamental ideas. In other words, to her it is much more real and believable. To put it in biblical terms, there is a great chance of this child being offended (lead down an ungodly path) in her innocence and lose her fundamental understanding of what it means to be “right” or “wrong.”
With that in mind, I began to explore what this movie and the books that it is based are all about. What I found was shocking, though not unexpected. In reality it is pretty much the same as every other attack that has ever been lodged against Christianity. The standard modus operandi, as is the case here, is to take the failings of genuine Christians or the perversion of the disingenuous and personify them to the extreme. It is no wonder then that most of what
Creating this vile entity he proceeds to write off Christianity as a whole, though he fails in one regard that should be as plain as the nose on any ones face – Christ. The story never takes Christ into account, but instead assumes the failings of men, which the Bible itself is very candid about. The story never entertains such a character or by such refutes anything about the life and ministry of Christ. Odd for a collection of stories designed to kill off Christianity in the minds of children. Instead, again, he focuses his attention on those who claim Christianity and abuse power. Christ himself would have been displeased with such and was in his lifetime, evidenced by things such as his cleansing of the temple.
Before we go farther it helps us to know a little more about
This first movie may not have any overt antichristian messages, but that is the intention. The first movie draws the attention. The second goes a little further and by the third children are to rebel, rise up and slay God.
Pullman himself has said that though he is an atheist and has boldly proclaimed that if there is a God and his like the God described by Christianity, he should be “put down,” the film is not about being antichristian by advocating goodness, wherever it maybe found. Perhaps this is more of a money-making ploy than anything else, kind of like we saw with the “DaVinci Code,” where the message of the book was well-watered before it hit the big screen so that the greatest amount of money could be made. It is hard to make money when everyone is offended by the message. It is hard to not think this when
Is there danger in these? Well, the answer is yes, if we allow children to watch unchecked and untaught about the truth in a rightful fashion. I have never been one to simply hide the truth, good or bad, from anyone, let alone our children. The truth here is that there is a movie, it does have some neat looking graphics and, no doubt, loveable characters they can identify with, but also has a message that is flawed. Teach them both – the good and bad – the differences between and the consequences for both. The parent who simply tries to hide these matters from children who can understand, will create only greater curiosity over the matters. I remember growing up with a young girl whose mom would take all the magazines that came into the house and use a black sharpie to cover up pictures that showed too much and words that were not fitting. From time to time I would see the girl in the library at school reading the very magazines mom had edited. She once told me that it drove her crazy to not know what was under the blacked out parts and would come to the library to find out. I don’t think it is healthy to deliberately expose children to the trash the media offers, but we should do more than say, “It’s just not Christian.”
We must teach the truth and that truth says very clearly that there is a God who is the creator of all that is good and who loves us (Gen. 1-3). That truth says this God had a son and came to earth to die for us (John 1, 3) and in doing so set the bar for goodness as high as it could possibly go. Furthermore, we are told man can excel, though often does not, to that level of goodness and be Christ-like in our actions, not abusing power, lacking tolerance and misusing the name of God, though some will. Chances are
Some might say, “Well, aren’t you overdoing it? Isn’t it just a book or movie? How is it any different than Harry Potter or Star Wars or Lord of The Rings, where people rise up against and oppressive forces? There is a dramatic difference between the forgoing works and “His Dark Materials.” The former were stories that seemed, to a great extent, mirror the principals of Christianity or at least did not seek to undermine them. Their authors never said things like, “I want to kill God.” Consider
So what do we do then? Do we see the movie or not? Seeing the movie is a matter of conscience I believe, but parents would be strongly advised to forewarn their children about the thrust of the movie and discuss these matters with them. Some other advice would include:
· Don’t be like the “Christians” that the movie is supposed to represent. I can understand
· Don’t argue that or in such a way that people are left with the impression that Christianity is all about I am right and you are wrong. There is a right and wrong, it is for us to adopt and do, not take and beat others up with.
· Be a servant. Listen to the needs, hurts, desires and troubles of others and help them. Often we fall down here. We see struggling and just simply state the obvious – “Well, that is a sin.” Be helpful and out of God’s grace draw your strength to help others.
· Be prepared. Equip yourself to talk about the movie or books, as well as related topics. Be candid and frank, letting your children know about how some do fail to live up to Christ’s expectations. If you simply condemn the movie and books and have no idea what you are talking about and why then you will end up doing more harm than good.
Also, an article inChristianity Today about this very subject, made a good suggestion about having questions ready for discussing the movie or books with your children. Here are some of their suggestions.
· If we cast off all "authority" and set up "free will" as the ultimate source of guidance, where will that get us?
· Has the world shown us that the human heart is a trustworthy "compass"?
· Does free will lead us always to the right choice?
· If the heroes accept the "truth" of the alethiometer (the compass itself), aren't they letting themselves be guided by just another source of truth—another "Authority"? But didn't the story tell us "Authority" is bad and we should only follow our own hearts?
· If there are "many truths," then aren't these heroes being as self-righteous and wicked as the oppressors by demanding that their version of the truth is better than others?
· What is so inspiring about the battle between the bears? Hasn't this story led us to a place where it's just "survival of the fittest" all over again? Should we really hope that the world falls into the hands of the strongest fighter, rather than into the hands of love?
Higginbotham, Steve. “The Golden Compass” Gospel Gazette online publication.
Overstreet, Jeffery. “Fear Not The Compass” Christianity Today online article.