Saturday, December 29, 2007

On A Boat To Nowhere

My deep psyche offers up an image symbolizing my current phase of life. It is one of a small white sail boat, having just left shore. The sands are gold, and the port city is old, white, and well-lit. The deep blue of the ocean the boat is riding on expands into darker and darker shades, and then to pure black. It seems the journey is to nowhere, and will end with defeat.

I have it good - really good. I live in a wealthy country, in a wealthy city, surrounded by varying degrees of wealth. I have a great job, I am working my way up the corporate ladder quicker than others, next month I will be the youngest supervisor in my entire company. At 25, I am set for life, set for a good career, set for the upper middle class, condo, cars, and travel. All signs point to success! It worries me that I am settling in for the ride, accepting the journey.

When I remember to give myself a reality check, I quickly come to the conclusion that this is nothing. It is nothing, it is worth nothing, it will amount to nothing, and I am wasting my life. It is a prevailing thought in my mind when it is not busy thinking about other things, that I am for more than this, that we all are for more than this. I can't speak for everyone, but we are wasting our lives!

I feel like I'm soley responsible for wasting my life, as I am not trying at all. Like the movement of the little sailboat is because of its sail catching the strength of another force, the wind, so am
I, coasting along, not putting any effort in. But I still go forward.

But what do I do? Most people say that to add meaning to their life they need to go out and "make a difference", but I don't care about making a difference. Yeah, the world sucks, but the forecast doesn't call for anything better. There's charity, but I'm a skeptic. I don't want to be charitible just to make myself feel better, or to create the "well-balanced" life that all the "experts" say I should have.

I want to do what God made me to do, which will involve my natural gifting and deep passions. Maybe some of what He has planned for me is charity and "making a difference" - let it be. Maybe it will be something else entirely. I know one thing is true, He did not make me to be an industrial robot or a human resource.

I feel ready. Like I've grown up, shaken off the oppression and binds of a past life, given sight to faith, born a healthy degree of skepticism, and rooted myself in reality. Enough, anyway, to
take on whatever He has for me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Darkest Days

Vancouver songstress Sarah McLachlan opens her song World On Fire with the lyrics “Hearts are worn in these dark ages”. Every time I hear that song, I think about how a lot of people think that we live in the darkest days in history. My tendency is to think that while yes, there are dark things happening on earth, and horrifying potential, we are actually the most privileged set of human beings ever to live on this planet.

There are famines, there are population problems, there is global warming, there are wars and threats of wars, terrorism, nuclear technology, and outbreaks of diseases. But what are these problems compared to the problems of the past? We are privileged enough to have international law, whereby cruel dictators, which are dwarfed by ancient figures like devil-spawn Nero, can be stripped of their power. We have the technology that has created a better world in so many ways, such as medicine and healthcare and sanitation. We have advanced more in 100 years than humanity advanced in all of recorded human history combined in every way. We have a large portion of the planet’s population living under legitimate democratic government. We no longer have an educated elite hanging on to the ignorance of a general populace who can’t read to fill their coffers with the gold and silver of repentance. I could go on and on…

It’s been said that every generation says that the world is a worse place than when they were young. This all comes down to perspective. When they were young, they didn’t know half of what was going on, and weren’t versed enough in life to know how bad something actually is. When they become an adult, rationality is hijacked by the emotions involved in having children of their own, so mole hills become mountains, and everyone forgets that no one is dying from Polio anymore! Everyone forgets that Christians don’t get dipped in tar, have their mouths sewn shut, set on fire, and hung on a pole to light the road into Rome anymore.

Yet all the visible signs of a better world speak nothing of the heart’s condition. With the freedom of speech and the freedom of lunacy, the ease and universal nature of communication mediums, the inflammatory tendency of the media, there is mass confusion, a hiding of truth in the noise of opinion and commentary. This confusion added to the already confused state of most Western young people, whose legacy is one of confusion and non-clarity. No one knows who they are, where they are, why they are. The hearts of the fathers have turned from those of the sons, and because of this, the sons have done the same to their fathers. Starting with the industrial age, and ending in the death of any resemblance of the family necessary for proper nurture and care. Even though I can spend 8 hours in a plane and land on the other side of the planet unharmed, the world is full of despair and confusion.

Yes, we are wonderful, but we are despaired. Maybe, with this widespread darkness of the inner self, we do actually live in the darkest days... yet.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Communique l'kook

Remember the name Ronald Weinland. I stumbled upon his website(s) and his free online book entitled '2008: God's Final Witness' yesterday. I started to read the book, thinking it was just another preacher pulling headlines from the newspapers which 'prove' that the world is about to end. Not the case with this guy; he was very "right" in his style, in that he would admit that many people make claims about different signs and events and have done so since Jesus ascended, but he claimed his book is the only one that is actually correct. And without real reason.

I was astonished when, in his discussion about the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11, he actually claims to be one of them! He goes through the texts that describe these two end-time prophets, including some outside of Revelation (pretty hefty stuff), and then WHAMMY! he's one of them!! I took a gander at some of his sites - he has a few. You may want to check them out yourself (but only if you have absolutely nothing else to do...):




I never once entertained the thought of his audacious claim being true, but from what I've learned about the closed-minded missing the work of God, I decided to humour the man. I emailed him, or whoever it is that answers his emails, asking what the events were surrounding his "appointment by God", thinking that the commissioning of something so magificent and glorious and long-prophesied, bigger than the ministries of Moses and Elijah, would be quite an event! I also asked what proof in the way of miracles and/or displays of God's power he could provide to prove his claim.

I got a form letter back, and basically it explained that they are too busy to reply so read this and don't bother us anymore. It went on to explain how to "get ready" for the end of the world, one step of which is to read his two books over and over and over again. No where did it say anything about his "appointment by God" or any evidence to prove he is indeed one of "the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth". I replied saying, "There was no answer to my question in your form letter. Please be so kind as to provide an actual response or refer me to where the answer is posted online."

They replied: "Your question was more than adequately answered. We do not offer cliff notes."

I then commented on the maturity level of their organization and how the failure to provide answers on those questions not just to me, but to the whole freakin world (which he'll soon lay waste to), was proof enough that this was a Communique l'kook! I also promised him a special feature on my blog.

Take a good look; fire may come out of his mouth and destroy us all one day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

PostSecret.com

Some people are so sad! :(

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Light of Darkness

I brought 2 books with me on a recent R&R trip to Hawaii, and I read one. The first was called ‘2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl’ by Daniel Pinchbeck, the second was ‘Piercing the Darkness’ by Frank Peretti. I only finished the first one, and it was so intriguing. To give you some background, it is based on ancient Mayan prophecies that date a cataclysmic end of time on December 21, 2012. It is actually more of a memoir of the author on things like shamanism, the use of hallucinogens, the occult, psychic ability, dreams, visions, visitations, the question of reality (matter, spirit), crop circles, alien abductions, and planetary movement. All of these things I have never thought twice about previously, dismissing them without question. I didn’t even know that this book had any of this content when I bought it; I was just interested in the Mayan calendar (ha!).

Through the author’s encounters with shamanic bush tribes in Africa and South America, through meetings with Priestesses, and through his use of certain barks and mushrooms (and other chemical synthetics), he described interaction with beings that we, as Christians, would call demons. It was so intriguing! I got so much insight into what “powers and principalities” really means, and it is nothing like I had previously thought.

Once I had finished this one, I looked at my next book, Piercing the Darkness, and was struck by the title. As Christians, even as a society in general, we tend to qualify anything evil as darkness. Light good, evil dark. However, because of the things I read in 2012, and based on certain truths about “the darkness”, this is probably a little misleading, and potentially harmful.

One of the best things I’ve learned is that the truth is one thing, and everything that isn’t the truth, no matter how close to the truth, is simply not truth (or un-truth). We call these lies – probably because this implies there’s someone to blame. In fact the best lies, the most difficult to catch, are those that are closest to the truth. Take a look at the very first lie; it’s rank with truth. We often associate truth with light, but we should not forget that the direct translation of the name of the Great Deciever Lucifer is ‘Light-Bearing One’. He was the son of the morning, the bright and morning star, the bearer of light. Nothing says he still isn’t a light-bearing one.

Through the descriptions of chats with the ‘powers and principalities’ and demons in 2012, I think it is hard to say that these beings are of darkness (not that they aren’t). In fact, you’d be hard pressed to imagine them being evil. This is because they are simply off-truth; they are of a culture a little to the left or to the right of God’s culture. Some might even call them good. We know that there is only One who is good though.

When you think about it, because there is only One who is good, just like there is only One possible Truth, off-good or off-truth or "evil" is just like us. We are the same as them, and we rarely consider ourselves evil. In fact, we consider ourselves to be generally good. How dangerous to presume the "powers of darkness" represent the other end of the spectrum of good and evil!

Theology, movies, books, stories all paint a picture of evil using fangs dripping blood and hairy heaving beasts. Maybe this is so we miss what evil really is – and fall right into it.

Bill O'Reilly

You'd expect an interviewee to get more words out than the interviewer in "fair and balanced" reporting, as found on Fox News, wouldn't you?

I don't know what irks me more -- the fact that Bill O is a real person, or the fact that he gets his own show on Fox. He makes me feel very smart.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Idiot Parade

One stormy Hawaiian evening last week, I resorted to watching the CNN YouTube Republican Debate, which presented all of the leading contenders for alpha male of the elephant herd. A former Bush-lover myself, I was shown the distinct evolution in myself and my own views over the past several years as I became increasingly agitated by some of the answers given to the questions of the general YouTube audience. It was more than the transparent attempts to woo voters, as every true politician is an expert at doing, using slogans and buzz words and even dressing like the President, it was some of the idiotic and prehistoric standpoints that really bothered me.

Of particular irk, a question challenging the military’s ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy about gay service-people. See clip.

I was astounded by Duncan Hunter’s answer, which proposed that “most” of the young people entering the military come from “Judeo-Christian” (buzz word) families, and because of this, would be uncomfortable and unfocused on the task at hand (in combat) if one of their peers was openly gay. Duncan wants to protect these poor children from the real world, and prevent the metaphorical bursting of their bubble. He gets the home school vote.

Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas, accepts the rights of homosexuals to be whatever they want, but seems to allude to the potential “conduct” of these people as something of a lower class breed. He gets the fundamentalist vote.

Governor Mitt Romney skirted around the issue, not really answering in the end, knowing full well his answer could make or break him with some in the audience. If you look closely you can see him sweat when Anderson Cooper presses him for an answer, eventually saying that he doesn’t know, he’d ask his military counterparts. I hope he gets nobody’s vote.

Back to Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas. It was he who was filmed with a Mr. Rick Mercer a while back on a hilarious CBC show called “Talking to Americans”, where we get a kick out of displaying the ignorance of some of our neighbours by getting them to say things like “Congratulations Canada for finishing the Tunnel to China!!”. (Really, we just want to make ourselves feel better about our inferiority complex.) Anyway, Presidential-hopeful Mike Huckabee is featured with a congratulations of his own. While I like to point out this little knowledge gap of someone wanting the planet’s top job, I have to say, he wouldn’t really be taking the cake, currently being eaten by the man of the [white] house. Take a look at Mike.

I almost want to take my chance at becoming an American citizen JUST to NOT vote for any of these guys.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Non-Profit for a New Christian Homeland in North America

Yup, it's true. Take a look at ChristianExodus.org.

:) I have to keep posting these; they are ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In Other News, the Dow Jones Twinkling Eye Average is up...

Yes, it is now officially broken down to a science for us. See how the markets did today, but don't forget to check the Rapture Index as well. Today, it's up 2 points! Fasten your seatbelts!!

The Rapture Index

In its scoring, please remember the following criteria:

Rapture Index of 100 and Below: Slow prophetic activity
Rapture Index of 100 to 130: Moderate prophetic activity
Rapture Index of 130 to 160: Heavy prophetic activity
Rapture Index above 160: Fasten your seat belts!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Prayer Therapy

I haven’t ever found any value in prayer, the religious duty. And I think, in our common perception of prayer, that most often it refers to asking for something. So we may get out our list and sit down in our favourite chair, and begin to ask God for certain things, whether noble or (let’s face it) selfish, but how does that line up with the character of God, and what does that say about how we perceive Him? Asking prayer lines up with the teaching of Jesus that we are to ask and persist in asking, and believe that when we ask it will be done, but I like to imagine that Jesus, being the masterful teacher He is, was actually pitting our internal wills against each other (ie. our desire to have something against our stubbornness to let it go). More on that later.

Having to ask and ask and ask for something doesn’t seem to line up with the character of God, especially His fatherly positioning in our lives. Luke 11:11-13 says “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" I realize the gift being discussed there is the Holy Spirit, but I think the concept is true for anything that we ask that He will give to us.

It always seemed an absurd idea to me that the more we ask for something, or the more we rally the troops to ask for the exact same thing, that maybe, just maybe, God would give it to us. Coming to mind are things like prayer chains, and prayer rallies, etc. This paints the character of God in dark colours, and our presumptions of who He is and how He views us seem to come from the shadows.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are certain times to gather the troops to pray, but I never believe it is to fill the offering pans with our petitions until they are overflowing with our answers. I believe God has instructed us to ask for things for other reasons. In a city-wide prayer gathering, for example, I suppose God may be more impressed with the implications of an entire city of believers laying aside their differences and coming together for one purpose, than what they’re actually praying for. Because of the unity, He may make happen what they are asking to show His happiness over that. Maybe amidst all the racket of petition, He’s waiting for people to speak out intentions or declarations which may trigger certain things in other realms (careful now!).

When it’s just us, quietly asking for a Ferrari in our favourite chair, I think His requirement of persistence may actually prove to build character in the beggar. In asking and asking and asking, and not receiving, we may get to thinking about why we want the Ferrari. It is then that God can gently tell us that we are placing too much priority on what others think of us, and aren’t finding all of our worth in God’s love. It is then that God gives us a deeper understanding of His love, because the real petition is made known: “God, I don’t feel worth a lot; show me my worth.” Ask and you will receive.

In a congregation praying for one of their terminally sick to be healed, in their fervency, maybe God would use that unity to bring the congregation as a whole to a new depth in understanding the ways of God, and His sovereignty. Maybe He would highlight areas where they are lacking. Maybe He would teach them about their own eternity, how to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Maybe He would heal her, maybe He wouldn’t.

It seems prayer, then, is therapy. It is like laying out on a couch and spilling your most sacred beans. It is less about life and all it brings, more about communion and intimacy. It is God working in our hearts to bring us closer to Him. Ask, and you will receive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Christmas Shopping!!






If you're looking for some ideas, try Target: click here












More seriously though, go to the World Vision Gift Catalogue


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Kathy Griffin at the Emmys

Warning! This may offend you!

I didn't hear about this until now; I wonder what would've happened if she said "Suck it, Mohammed!". Methinks she'd need an extra bodyguard or two. :)

Blessed, Broken, Given

I have always found it strange that the people who are considered our spiritual forefathers, the founders of the church, the workers of some of the greatest miracles recorded, were so glaringly
human. Jesus had spent a lot of time (three and a half years of constant working and travelling together) with his disciples; Peter, John, Matthew, etc. And yet, it wasn't until AFTER Jesus
appeared to them resurrected did they finally seem to start putting the puzzle together.

They had seen wonder after wonder, miracle after miracle, they had performed these very things in His name with their own hands. They had heard all the stories about rich rulers and poor widows, and had even had private sessions of insight into what the parables meant. They had Jesus, in the flesh, as their personal counsellor. And still, on the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied having ever met him - 3 times. The rest of them, who knows the true facts
of what happened to them, but they scattered in fear of their lives.

At that point, they still didn't get it. They just didn't get it. And this speaks volumes of the ways of God. Does he bestow his love on only the worthy, the fixed? Does he commission only the perfect? In no way. So the world will know it's Him and Him alone, He commissions those we would consider the last choice. He loves the destitute, the outcast, the sick, and makes true lovers out of them. His whole purpose is to create a family, to create people who can dwell in His love with Him. And grace is the best creator of what He wants.

Peter was filled with fear and uncertainty, thinking His best friend had been killed, and this was the end of His story - the whole thing a great big tease for the whole world. All of that work, all of the teaching - like it never happened! Do you think God was concerned? No, this is how it happens! We are largely products of our environment anyway, so of course, to be in the presence of a strong character like Jesus 24 hours a day for a number of years will produce in you a Jesus-like behaviour, sim-character. When He's gone, that's when true colours come out. [This reminds me of kids out of high school going to something like YWAM, and they spend all of their time in a certain controlled environment, and they come home on a spiritual high thinking they are going to change their world. They then of course don't have the support of the easy environment anymore and end up falling to old ways in a few weeks and lose heart thinking they've fallen out of God's will, and they look fondly on their time away as something lost. To be sure, there is a season for living in environments like this; Jesus did that with His own disciples.]

True colours are what need to be changed, and unfortunately, these are not "fixed" by creating an environment to live in. If that was the case, I think I'd be living at the monastery up the hill. And the thing is, true colours (ie. the heart) seem to be changed only when the gift is given and recieved (ie. grace, ie. salvation).

We reach a breaking point, a surrendering point, and at that point, that final moment of giving up, control can be given over to God. And we talk a lot about giving up control to God, but really what this is is love - us and God, it's always about love. This is us giving our hearts to Him, and Him giving His heart to us, in the most true love relationship we'll ever be in. This is not about Him becoming your master, about God wanting to be in control of everyone. This is about a husband and wife; you aren't only yours anymore, you belong to your other as well.

God's whole process seems to be blessing, breaking, and giving. I'm sure you can even relate this to your own life. Maybe you're in the blessing phase, maybe in a season of breaking (I'd think there's more than one), maybe you're in the giving time (where you are being given by God to others, in your love for Him). This whole 'Blessed, Broken, Given' concept comes from Luke 24:13-35 (click to read).

What does that have to do with anything? Well, it turns out, this account can be applied quite prophetically, and I'll let these lyrics to a song explain it:

Two men walked on the road to Emmaus
Blind to a stranger they met on the way
Late in the evening, they asked him to supper
To break bread together at the close of the day
The stranger took the bread and bowed his head
Then asked for a blessing then he broke it
Into pieces of three
He gave to these blind men this bread
Blessed and broken
And suddenly their blinded eyes did see
His life was blessed far more than I could ever imagine
He was touched by God's grace more than I'll ever know
Then he was broken by the hands of the father
To bring sight to all blind men who were lost on their way

After God blessed him and after God broke him
He was given to bring sight to all men
When he was blessed
When he was broken
and after he was given
God blessed him and broke him again and again

My life is blessed far more than I could ever imagine
I've been touched by God's grace more than I'll ever know
So let me be given to the hands of the father
Let me feel, what you felt, when you were broken for me
After my blessing, and after my breaking
Let me be given to bring sight to all men
When I've been blessed
When I've been broken
then after I've been given
Lord bless me and break me again and again
Lord bless me and break me again and again

(Cece Winans, Blessed, Broken, Given)

Be encouraged -- being broken doesn't mean you're lost, it means you're on your way to great great things happening in your life. You are a vessel, a carrier of the Lord's own heart (with all its love and power). Know that you are no less loved now, however unloved you feel, than the day you are finally "fixed". You are broken not because He wants to be able to love you more, but because He loves you more than He can bear right now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

When you need a boost...

This 11-minute video by Rob Bell will be sure to minister to you. Visit http://www.nooma.com/, and click the link to the video to "Rain 001", its location shown below. It's beautiful (maybe get the hankie ready too...)


Great find Chris!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Great Answers!

Last month, I asked y'all for your thoughts on Matthew 25 : 37-45, and I got some GREAT feedback. I love that we're all free to think and percieve things differently. The original post is this: Help! Anyway, I just wanted to make sure this particular response didn't go un-read - it's brilliant! John writes:

First, as a parent it is easy to understand that a child of yours-especially one that is in some way lesser than others-is truly an extension of your own self (just ask Jen). That being the case, the thought that "what you do unto them you do unto me" makes clear sense. We are all God's kids. The very DNA in each of us IS the image of God. He invented blood, hearts, souls, humanity. We are the extension of God.

Secondly, I think it's important to remember that 'doing' isn't always the point. If you love someone the things you do toward them will naturally (though not always) be out of love. You don't do them 'so that' they see you love them, but you do them 'because' you love them. They may never never notice what you've done, but that was not why you did it anyway. Jesus didn't die 'so that' we'd see that He loved us. He died simply because He loved us. Some people get it, some people never will. I guess my point is-don't strive to 'do' so much, but rather strive to love. I know it sounds cliche, especially in Christian circles but, try looking at people-all people-the way Jesus would. After all, the least of these that are spoken of and that are all around us are our brothers and sisters. We have God's homemade blood in our veins.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Disturbing Similarities - Neo-Nazism and the Religious Right

Interesting (and shocking) comparison between two [should be opposite] works: a monologue by a neo-nazi from a film, and an article from a popular Christian Magazine.

Take a look : Dinner Table Don'ts.

A New Brand?

I love this! Someone who isn't afraid to be real!

Kanye West - Jesus Walks

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Healing Grace

I love the healing power of Jesus. Now before you roll your eyes and flip to another blog, let me show you what I did a while back. I was reading through Matthew (love it!), and I noticed a few similar instances where Jesus would simply heal everyone. There is a lot of teaching out there about pursuing physical healing, wanting it bad enough, having enough faith, spending enough, giving enough, and on the other spectrum exhausting every other possibility first, then asking for healing. But if you lump all these verses together, it begins to speak for itself. He is love, and out of that love is grace. That’s who He is – it’s beautiful to ‘watch Him work’ here. It talks about how He is willing to cure things, and how in large crowds He would heal them all before dismissing them. I am particularly highlighting the absolute nature of a lot of the writing below (words like "every" and "all"). This is in Matthew alone:

8:2-4 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

8:15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

10:8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

12:15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.

14:14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15:30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

19:2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And I love the grandfathering of the power, exampled here, to His disciples in Acts 5:16: Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

I guess I’ll label this a meditation. We’ve lost this Jesus.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Calling All Jordanian Missionaries!

Racquel, if you're out there (I know you check in from time to time), email me. I've been trying to get a hold of you but nothing is working :s Can't say I'm not a little worried being in Jordan and all ...

mattcooper82@hotmail.com

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Legislating Gluttony

I am always bothered by the imposition by some Christians of their beliefs and values on everyone around them by political means. Mostly, it bothers me because it seems to be selfish. For example, Christians may lobby against legalizing gay marriage, but gay marriage is of little or no consequence to them. It seems the underlying motivation for this is purism; they want nothing more than a "Christian nation" if there can be such a thing, meaning anything that is perceived as sin to them must go, or must be made illegal.

This is contrary to what the Bible has to say on the very issue of homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 it says: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I think this is very clear that any of the above “sinners” (yet we are all still sinners), only limits themselves from entering the Kingdom, they don’t limit the Kingdom. And this is absent from the minds of many as they parade and protest, lobby, and vote. The sins of others are sins against themselves.

I am not one who believes you can legislate someone into salvation, how about you? If you make a person’s sins illegal, does it make them a non-sinner? Is a non-practicing homosexual not a homosexual? To make another point on that statement, wasn’t it Jesus who said that to even entertain the thought of committing adultery is the same sin as committing adultery? I'm trying to say that to ban a certain sin wouldn't get rid of the sin, dare I say, even if it went unpracticed on back streets and in dark rooms.

It also bothers me that these people are out there (defaming our good name mind you) judging for themselves which sins are worse than others. It always seems that homosexuality is the worst of all - the "triple X-rated sin" as my friend puts it. I could think of a million other sins to attack before homosexuality. In the Catholic tradition, there are the Seven Deadly Sins, which are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

How about legislating lust? How about pornography, which is a $10 Billion (yes billion!) industry in the US alone, and growing every year. Pornography not only works its black magic on those involved in its creation, but the end user also gains the potential for serious relationship problems (whether they have a relationship or not!).

How about legislating gluttony, which, as we all know, is an absolute epidemic in our society. Why not limit the marketing power of fast food companies? Why not restrict morbidly-sugared soft drink companies from gaining contracts with school districts? All these things are actually physically killing people – giving them diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. There's a cause worth fighting for!

What about greed? Why doesn’t the Christian-Right lobby for restrictions on what you can own, or how much you can shop, or how late stores are open? It sounds ridiculous to us in our psycho-consumer society!

To all of the above, we can object and say, “It’s up to the individual person to make those choices! It comes down to your choice whether or not to be greedy or slothful or gluttonous or proud. The government shouldn’t interfere with that!” Well hello! How does that not apply to homosexuality? Who is it hurting? IMO, the above are worse and are actually destroying lives and bodies!

I would hate to live in a society where all wrongs were outlawed, quite frankly. There would be no real people, including myself. We would all walk around with a face on like nothing’s wrong and we didn’t do anything wrong, hoping no one catches on. In fact, that’s how people have lived for centuries in the church and under the reign of the church, or under the religious regimes of Israel (I’m speaking historically here), or under past and present Islamic regimes. In fact, in many of our present churches it’s the same; we all walk around like nothing is wrong, smile on our face. How horrendous to have no freedom of choice! How prideful of a government to take up the responsibility of legislating salvation.

I am so bothered by this; it turns people off of us, and could in fact be keeping people out of the church. How ironic – trying to legislate for the salvation of everyone is actually keeping people away from salvation. I guess our method is contrary to God's design (the same argument they use about homosexuality).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Life Finally Explained...

On the first day, God created the dog and said: "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said: "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said: "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said: "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said:"You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family For this, I will give you a life span of sixty Years."

The cow said: "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said: "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But man said: "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

(Author unknown)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Good

I’ve long wanted to write about goodness, but could never really find a great context for it, or a good way to explain what I’ve learnt about the word “good”. I used to think of “good” in the context of behavior, and to some degree this is correct, but there’s so much more to “being good” and what “being good” actually is.

Good is an absolute. Good is what God is. As the originator of all things – all things – his nature, his character, his essence is what “good” is. Good is synonymous with His name. From the present, we have to subtract all that is, all that has been created, whether visible or invisible, from the tiniest speck of dust to the furthest spinning planet, to every single angel and unknown spiritual force. All subtracted, there is God, alone, in nothingness. This is how it was. Try to undefine good and evil, and apply these words to this context. God, because He is the originator, the being from which all else flows, is the great standard. His nature is called “good”. Therefore, anything that falls outside of that, or that is contrary to it is called “evil”, or to better define it, “not good”.

To create a visualization, let’s say good is light. Light is the thing that is, and in the simple absence of it there is a contradiction, darkness. In fact, there would be no darkness if there was no light.

I read a great explanation of this concept in the Tao Te Ching, which follows:

Beauty and ugliness have one origin.
Name beauty, and ugliness is.
Recognizing virtue recognizes evil.
‘Is’ and ‘Is not’ produce one another.
The difficult is born in the easy,
Long is defined by short, the high by the low.

(Ch. 1, Tao Te Ching)

When God began creating, after each thing He would say “It is good”, meaning it is of Him, through Him, in Him, according to design and purpose. Essentially, perfect. And man, created in His image and likeness, designed in the very nature of God, was also said to be “good”. (As a side note, after a while alone on earth, something had changed in Adam, and for the first time God said about him, “it is not good”. But that’s another story.)

Being good then, with this in mind, is not a list of things you should do or not do, but a nature. And we see this play out every day in ourselves, and in our churches, and our world. There is so much effort given to attainment, but really “being good” is a given thing, an indwelling of God by the Holy Spirit. It’s of no trying whatsoever. This is grace versus religion, Jesus versus the Pharisees.

It’s a fine, sticky line though. The nature of God in us produces works that mirror the works of God – that which He does naturally, out of His nature. The works of a “good” person would cover all of “the Law” and then some. It was Jesus who said that unless your righteousness surpsasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:20). This, we know, is an impossibility without righteousness being offered as a gift. And that, we know, is what salvation is.

A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” (Luke 18:18-20)

He admits it – there is no one good. Only God is good – as the great Origin of all that is.

So we can rest easy. We can sleep at night. We can rid ourselves of guilt and shame and condemnation. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mt 11:29) As a newly married husband and wife become one person, living together, sharing life together, having children, they gradually become two parts of one whole, knowing each other fully, and perfecting each other. So it is with this, the Christian journey - to know Him is the final answer. And in knowing Him, we become like Him (1 John 3:2)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Believe In Me...

My entire existence has been shut down and brought back up again by the belief in God’s love for me. And this morning I was thinking about the “righteous” of the past – those unexpected choices of His. We’ve all heard about what we may call the ‘sins of the fathers’. Whether it’s Noah’s drunken episodes, Abraham’s fathering of a child through his wife’s assistant, Jacob’s deceptive ways, Moses murderous past, and so on. We tend to fluff over the stories of our forefathers – that would set a bad example (ha!). People might start to think they can’t get away from God’s love – we don’t want that!

In every case, God considered these people righteous. Since that doesn’t really mean much to us in 2007, let’s say He counted them as His own. I had these men in mind when the short video clip I posted a few weeks ago by Brennan Manning was also recalled. In it Brennan says, “I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question: Did you believe that I loved you?”.

I then thought of Jesus' words, that whoever believes in Him will be saved. What does that mean? Who is He that to believe in Him is salvation? Well, the obvious answer is that He is the absolute and final word of God’s love for us. It’s undeniable.

I remember quitting my job with the intention of making the pursuit of God my full-time job. It was the best thing I ever did, it was the start of a beautiful thing. I remember the hours and hours of studying and pondering, and reading, and prayer, begging for God to love me so that all my problems would be solved. I always told Him that if I knew that I knew that I knew He loved me, then I would be absolutely ok, that nothing would ever be wrong again. Little did I know that He already did love me. My mind had been conditioned to believe that God would only love a complete me, a perfected me. But the truth I was missing was that He loves me now, as I am, no less than when I’m “better”. Yet I was told that, and I head-knew it, but it didn’t make any difference until it was real knowledge, until I believed it.

I remember learning about Adam, how God told Adam not to eat from the tree because it was not good for him, not just because. If Adam had only maintained the belief that God told him not to because He didn’t want Adam to die, because He loved Adam, then Adam wouldn’t have done it. Our disobedience is rooted in our insecurity about His love for us. Everything that we aren’t supposed to do is a protection for us. The choice is because He wants to be loved in return. The serpent challenged God’s motives to Adam, virtually saying that God didn’t want them to eat from the tree because He’s afraid He'd have equals.

And now today, our belief in His love for us is assaulted daily, not only in the world, but in the church as well. Why do you think Jesus gave the Pharisees the worst treatment out of any group – in fact, they were the only group He challenged. These were the ones who tied up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, who “strained out a gnat but swallowed a camel”, who were “like white-washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean”, those who “appear to people as righteous but on the inside [you] are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”, those He called “sons of hell” (Mt 23). These were the only people He challenged, and His words to them were harsh to say the least.

On the one hand, we have those things that God has said we shouldn’t do, and that is because He loves us and doesn’t want us to have to deal with the consequences of them. On the other hand, His love isn’t so short as our disobedience. He meets us on the other side with forgiveness and help. The great hall of famers (ie. Noah, Moses, etc.) were sinners – big ones! But they understood their God loved them. They believed His promises to them because they trusted that He loved them, not because they simply took Him at His word.

I’m babbling, not making much sense. I’m drowning in love today I guess. Finally getting the realization that He loves me right now in all His fullness and completeness (nothing withheld), has been the cause of the greatest transformation of my life. Everything changed. I got happy and free. My God is just reminding me of that today.


For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have eternal life.

Meditation

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8 : 38 - 39

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Desperate Times

In about a 5-minute drive from my home in North Burnaby, I arrive at the scene of a recent oil explosion. A pipeline was ruptured by the claw of a tractor, and Texas Tea erupted out of the earth like it had been caged for millions of years, drenching homes in the goop, and running into Burrard Inlet through the storm drain system, effectively destroying everything it touched.

I took a drive down Texaco Drive(weeks later), which is near the scene of the accident, and strolled along closed beach-front walkways at dusk. They seem to have mopped up most of the fool’s gold, yet thin shiny circles can be seen riding the ebbs and flows of the sea.


Yeah, I wasn't kidding. It's Texaco Drive.

















In other news, there’s a new thick of tension stirring between my country and Russia over arctic sovereignty. It would seem there is an energy-rich hunk of sea-floor land being disputed. In fact, the CBC reports that Russia arrived on site last week, and dropped a capsule containing a Russian flag into the ocean with the intention of staking their claim. While Canada makes plans to “beef up” our northern presence and prepares to make a case for its sovereignty, it seems Russia and Canada aren’t the only two nations vying. Denmark is also out there trying to prove that Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Danish territory (of Greenland), instead of Russia. The US Congress is considering a boost to the US Coast Guard fleet of 3 polar icebreakers. And on a sidenote, there is also some speculation that global warming may also grace us with a new shipping passageway in as little as 15 years with the melting of the polar ice caps. The arctic is abuzz!

There is a lot happening with energy exploration right now; from the pillage of the Alaskan frontier, to the pipeline-intending Middle East invasions. And this will not stop until the last drop has been sucked out of the earth’s belly. In fact, it is said that the explosion of China’s economy is strongly dependent on the supply of oil. And they are indicative of a world-wide increase for the demand of oil, both in emerging markets and in first-class societies. The way of the present/future requires energy, but unfortunately every type of energy we have created is just so non-renewable and unsustainable. Many analysts predict we’ve peaked in our production of oil, and that from now on, we’ll pump less and less out of the earth every year.

Image how society in North America would function without cheap oil. In fact, it would come to a grinding halt. We are a society whose infrastructure is based on access to cheap oil. There’s not a thing in the room I’m sitting in right now that doesn’t have connection to oil (by things like transport, manufacturing, etc.). We, unfortunately, are not to live this way forever, and knowing how our governments have acted in the past to gain access to more oil (as the demand increases every year), I’m afraid we’ll not see the end of war until there’s a big, final blow-out.

I’d say the dwindling oil supplies would be the cause of a massive world war – worse and more involved than any wars past. The US would be after the last reserves, the Russians would be after it, the Chinese would be after it, the Europeans would be after it, the Africans would be after it, Japan, Korea, Australia, India, Pakistan, Israel, maybe even some South American countries. It’d be the true world war.

I’ve been thinking recently about how our species has never before held in its possession the power to utterly and completely destroy itself and its planet. Not since the bomb. In the future, I can see nothing but devastation, in the truest sense of the word. It’s sad; I used to think we lived in the best era mankind has known with all our medicines and democracy and enlightenment. Our enlightened people, however, have probably made the biggest blunder in history building their entire existence around energy consumption.

We must wean ourselves off oil. It’ll kill us all.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Good Recruit

We have a new hire in the office, and he is passionate about mutual funds. I wish I was kidding! No, he's great. He loves to help people, he's enthusiastic about life and living and saving money, and doesn't waste time telling everyone around him how best to invest (whether or not they ask for it! ha).

I guess old habits die hard. When I got a glimpse of his enthusiasm and charisma, I thought that at a church I attended in the UK, this man would be a target by all the evangelists there. He'd make an awesome Christ-advocate. He'd be so enthusiastic, and would tell every person he saw about Christ without fear; he'd have that sanctuary full in no time! What a good recruit!

I remember being in that atmosphere, before I knew anything. We used to sing a song called "Souls and Cells", and there was a dance to it. The air was completely filled with numbers-theology, and how to best get the numbers up. People like my new co-worker, with natural charisma and charm and excitedness, were targets. It was more an object of recruitment than pure evangelism.

But now I know a thing or two (I like to think so anyway). Now I know that God often uses the foolish things to shame the wise, the Davids to fight the Goliaths, Gideon and his small regiment to route a large army, Paul the Pharisee, the Christian-hunter to create new Christians. He never seems to choose the things we think are obvious answers. In fact, He tends to go for the opposite of our expectations. It is said that while we humans look at the outward appearance and make judgment calls based on what we see, God looks at the heart, at what is unseen.

I wonder why it always seems that those with the hearts most ripe for His impartation and work always seem to have an outward appearance which says they are the last person He'd select for the job. One of God's mysteries I presume...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Help!

[Then] the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you have me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
They will also answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
Matthew 25 : 37-45

I have never understood this, and I am making it my goal to get to the bottom of it. How is it that doing all these good works is doing them to Christ? If I could get that, maybe I'd capture the motivation to spend time on the streets, or in prisons, or at hospitals. I want so badly to find that motivation. I always feel I must do these things, but I am prevented by excuses, fear, and business.

How easy to do these things if I knew to do them would be to speak with you, and be near you, and touch you! How easy if I could grab hold of what you mean here! How are you these people? How is it that I do these things to you?

I need your help (not you-God, you-YOU!); any thoughts on these words? Any past experience with them? Any revelation? Any stories? Anything at all. I just can't get it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Finally Free!

After church yesterday, my friend and I went to Davie Street to watch the Pride Parade – we thought it might be interesting (we didn't tell anyone at church where we were going ... shhh!!). And it was indeed interesting; it was quite a show! There were floats and goodies and loud music, and thousands of spectators – all the normal parade stuff. However, as all the rainbow-drenched scenery strolled by, I couldn’t help but be happy for these people, and sad that more Christians wouldn’t attend. We have been this people's biggest persecutor over the last millennia, as the Church, imprisoning and even putting them to death for being who they are. I was happy for these people, that the church had been stripped of its power to kill or castrate and mangle them, but sad that the thoughts to do these things are still in the minds of some. Also sad that though the power to do this has been stripped, the power to shun still prevails, the power to mangle with words and implications still prevails, the power to hate lives on. (As the worst example of this, take a look at an interview with Shirley Phelps.)

But I was mostly happy; they can sing and dance in the streets and tell the whole world they are gay and not worry (much) about being beat up for it, or thrown in prison, or worse. In my opinion, to be chastised for being gay is the same as being chastised for being black instead of white, or for being a woman instead of a man, or for being guilty of any item in the list of un-chosen and unchangeable things.
One float was by the Rainbow Community Church, on whose sign was written: “Everyone Welcome, and we mean it!” It’s sad that their implication about our churches is so correct.

Come on people, get out there. Love them! They want nothing else from us! If you heard some of the life stories of these people, you’d know that, if given the choice before their life began, they never would have chosen to be gay – ever! It’s a very difficult path in almost every case, and a lot of the time it's difficult because of the church's view and the church's past influence on present day society. Because of their difficulties they need their community, and they also need our understanding and love. They need us to stop perpetuating the cycle of hate and unacceptance.

I think I might get in trouble for this… ah well :-)

Brennan Manning

Good Points by Mike Yaconelli

You must watch this video montage of Mike Yaconelli, who recently passed away. He has some very good things to say. My favourite line: "I happen to think, that if we gave up a bunch of our programs, and just started getting kids serving, that maybe Jesus would show up in a way we never thought possible".

Take a look:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Personal Jesus

by Johnny Cash

Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone who cares
Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone who's there

Feeling unknown
and you're all alone,
flesh and bone,
by the telephone,
lift up the receiver,
I'll make you a believer.

Take second best,
put me to the test,
things on your chest,
you need to confess,
I will deliver,
you know I'm a forgiver.

Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith
Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone who cares

Your own, personal, Jesus
someone to hear your prayers,
someone to care

Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith

This genuine Johnny Cash song was later re-popularized by Marilyn Manson, with not a word changed; Marilyn's version, of course, sarcastic. He implies an invisible friend, a ridiculous faith, a superstition. Wierd how he didn't even change one word, yet his inferences are there simply by knowing who Marilyn Manson is.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Modern Day Jesus

There is no evolution of God; only His interaction with an evolving world. For once He came to us and sat with drinkers and partyers and every type of sinner, he reversed the curse for the sick and lame - those things the leaders thought rightly brought shame to those who must've done some serious crimes, they thought brought by God, and God all the time.

Instead of condoning the guilty one's stoning, He dismisses the crowd (those perfect and proud), and speaks softly to the sinner.

"What would Jesus Do" in the world we have created? Who would he sit with this time? Would he conform to our ways, or ruffle the feathers of our adamant religious chiefs? Would he join us in protest on the streets, to change laws? Or would he work on the hearts of the people with "flaws"? Would he address the congress of the empire at large, or pray on its steps that God take its charge? I don't remember him saying "When in Rome..."

I think we can surmise that He'd sit with our sinners, he'd befriend them, enjoy them, tell them it's ok. Our sinners, the business corrupt (like the tax collectors), the girl who had an abortion (like the one who was almost stoned to death), the gay (maybe he'd launch his ministry at a wedding again!), and on our list of sinners goes.

Does history teach us nothing, Lord? We miss you if we think this way. We miss you if we think this way. Not only when you come again, we are missing you every day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Knowing God

I am a firm believer that to approach the matter of God and spirituality and salvation as a child, as instructed, means to come with no expectations, no preconceptions, no background "knowledge”; to take Him at His word, to believe Him. So for a moment, let’s drop the notion that there are all these God rules and that everyone is saved, and even that salvation is a journey, and let’s approach ‘knowing God’ with a blank page. Let’s think of the state of one who does know God.

I would think that someone who is fairly close with God has about as much irrational fear as a lion (and by that I mean little to none). They know they’re safe, they know the power of the one who loves them, and they know they will never die even if their body does. Someone who knows God would have no worry of any kind. Without the barrier of a mind with a questionable history, the one who knows God would be able to hear The Voice so clearly, so I imagine they’d be full of wisdom and may even have special insights (ooo, the gifts, watch out!). The one who knows God would be the most humble person you have ever met, having been given so much grace. The one who knows God would love others unconditionally and would withhold judgment. This person would seem like God in a body, well heck, like Jesus. Everything Jesus is, that’s what the one who knows God would look like. In fact, the whole goal of Christianity is to “be like Jesus”, or in some circles to “be Jesus”. There are so many claiming they know God – Christian or otherwise – but there should definitely be some of this fruit in the ones who actually do. Good trees bear good fruit.

The eternal reward is for those who know Him, or rather, for those whom He knows (Matthew 7:23).

We have all heard the age-old defense of relationship-religion that you can know everything about someone - their favourite colour, their date and place of birth, their family tree, their pet’s name, their complete history even down to the minute and second - and not know them. This can be likened to an obsessive Justin Timberlake fan who knows more about Justin than Justin does; but she can convince no one that she actually knows him (lame example I know!).

But let’s flip that argument on its head, since Jesus will say ‘I never knew you’ rather than ‘you never knew me’. Have you ever considered this? He who knows our intimate details, more intimate details than we do (He was more present at our births than we were), even counting the number of hairs on our head, doesn’t know us. He doesn’t know us, and it must drive Him to absolute extremes. To think of it this way is something that has helped me see what this is all really about. He wants to know me; He died to.

If you found an old and broken machine, and having no idea what it was, flipped on its switch to find it not working, I’d think that to go about fixing it, you’d first have to figure out what it does, what its intention is, the cause for its design. Our goal for this project then would be to have the machine working as it was meant to work, doing what it was intended to do. A project without a goal is destined for failure, yet because we have put the goal of salvation behind us as something achieved with that whispered prayer, we don’t even begin the real project.

And what is this intention for us broken machines? What is our purpose? I’d like to suggest our purpose is to know Him and to be known by Him – nothing more, nothing less. You have to go to the beginning to find this. Why were we put here? It’s clear to me that because the person of the Creator IS love, and there is no love without an object of love (a recipient), we were created to receive His love. It’s all I’ve ever been able to come up with. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

And how fitting then, that Jesus – the person of God, and the repairman of this broken machine – comes and says that salvation is being known by Him. How perfect. How utterly perfect!

So let’s re-insert our grid for understanding, our preconceptions (maybe a little changed?), and the journey of salvation (Phil 2:12), and let’s get to it. Let’s find Him and know Him. It’s the only way.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A passing thought today as I was driving home from Abbotsford. For all the statistics I've heard about the size of our planet in context, I've never thought of it this way before. It's beyond comprehension to think that our planet is as a single particle of dust on an elephant in comparison to our universe. And to add to the analogy, what are we as individuals in comparison to our planet? How many trillionths of the size of that piece of dust are we? What's more stunning and even more incomprehensible is that these trillionths of a piece of dust claim to be able to define, by their surroundings, the elephant. How proud are we!
Here's a link to the trailer for Jesus Camp

I've also added a link in the Jesus Camp post of Ted Haggard.

Enjoy!

Making Babies

There are a few reasons why people are or become Christians, and they are:

> they are born Christian, and know nothing else. If they were born Muslim, they'd be Muslim.

> they aren't atheists, so they adopt the dominant religion thinking it's one way of many

> they were atheists, or considered atheism, and it scared them to death, so in essence, they created a god.

> they've been called, and have answered the call, and have been "saved"

I'm sure there are other reasons, but generally, I think it's either because they were born Christian, or they have created some sort of god to help them sleep at night, or they are just there and don't have the time or energy to seek truth, or they're genuinely His. And I guess you could say that in all of those 4 reasons, there could be the genuine. Any of these inductions could lead to a genuine adoption of the faith. Or they might not. One can be in the church all their life, have wisdom to boot because of all the sermons they’ve heard and all the Bible studies they’ve been to, but have no knowledge of Christ.

I don’t like how salvation is distributed these days. It’s normally a repeat after me type thing that ushers in eternal and magnificent grace. I guess that’s the best we can come up with based on scripture. I mean, if you look at Acts, it really only gives examples of people accepting the truth of the Gospel. Doesn’t tell us how.

Now let’s give the benefit of the doubt and say that all these people who go out to make converts and bring them into the fold by giving of oneself in word have the highest intentions. Let’s not think that a lot of these people will come into the church and translate their attendance to dollars with fallacious tithe teaching. Let’s not think that saving souls is the only way for the struggling church to stay alive. Let’s believe the best of intentions. Does evangelizing with best intentions (ie. The love of God) save people? Does it bring forth real fruit? Or are we still just filling our flock with goats?

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. … Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” (Matt 25:31-33, 41)

Also read the Parable of the Weeds

It seems to me that the initial conversion may just be a stepping stone. It’s easy, it’s an introduction. And there may be a hint here in Phil 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” There’s a process, a starting point from which you must go. Or, let’s consider Jesus’ words to the churches at the time of John’s Revelation. Some of his churches he encourages and tells them to keep on as they are; others he rebukes, and says if they continue as they are, he will cut them off.

Think about our catch-phrase "born again", which is rooted in John 3:3. To further the analogy, they say being born is the most traumatic experience the average human ever experiences. Would the spiritual rebirth be any less of an event? Doesn't surrendering yourself away hurt even a little?

The validity of modern-day and historical conversions are contingent on fruit. And just because there is no fruit does not mean these people leave the church. They stay, and like weeds they suffocate our growth, and can destroy that which grows alongside them (the wheat). That's their purpose.

Nothing to be done but beware. The Parable of the Weeds makes me happy. And it makes me excited because it looks like it's happening. The weeds are being pulled up first and thrown to the fire. In my mind, I'm thinking Ted Haggard, and the RC Clergy Child Abuse flood. We have only one hope, but it's a good one.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sheep Amongst Wolves

My last post sort of leads me to this post; something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. It’s just such a hard topic, but it’s been on my mind’s back burner for so long.

When I consider our history, as humanity and as a church, and I hold it up to the words of Christ, for some periods there is no hint of resemblance. And it begs questions of all of us in the here and now. I consider the fact that during the apocalyptic reign of Hitler in a Christian nation, two-thirds of the SS called themselves baptized Christians. Two-thirds of those who performed the acts of Kristallnacht, two-thirds of those shoving hoards of people into cattle cars, two-thirds of those who manned the atrocious concentration camps, two-thirds of those who invaded sovereign nations and killed many innocent people, two-thirds of those who killed 6 million people based on traits that were not of the victims’ choosing, were Christians. How is that possible? How is it possible that Christian churches in Germany under Hitler hung the nazi flag behind the pulpit, or even bore the swastika on the pulpit? Christian soldiers wore the belt buckle (above), on which is written (translated): "God is with us".

Were they Christians?

How about the horrendous crusades? How about the convert-or-die program that has appeared many times over the years? How about selling indulgences? How about the Inquisition? How about the modern clergy sexual abuse flood?

Were they Christians?

And now, as there is a “Christian nation” with a “Christian” President, how about the 65,000 Iraqi civilians that have been put to death to gain access to oil?

Are they Christians?

My God, what are we capable of when we approach the Bible with an agenda? Is there anything we can’t proof-text?

Yes, in modern times, we think we are so evolved, but I have to shake my head every time I think that Dachau was “in production” just 60 years ago. My grandparents were alive to fight Hitler. These were not dumb people; I know my grandparents! To think, then, that such a thing is possible; that reason enough could be given to convince practically the entire German Church to endorse Hitler’s plans is mind-boggling. What does that mean for us now? Has time and regret made us immune to this ever happening again?

I wonder if something similar were to happen now, here, how many of us would go along with it. If there was reason enough given to convince us to commit absolute atrocities or just to simply do nothing about known atrocities, would we? Would I? Are we more than just animals that can be manipulated? Is there any Voice within, maybe a conscience? But yes, it is happening today. Watch Jesus Camp.

We, on the sidelines, shake our heads and say “that’s not us!”, or we separate ourselves from them. But aren’t we them? Haven’t we all come into the same “family”? It’s so easy to say we’re better, but we all fall under the same banner. Everyone will stand by what they do, even us. We can justify ourselves out of eternity. Weren’t the majority of Western Christians born into the church? And for those who were converted as adults, how many of these were ‘Damascus Roads’?

Who is real? Is there any way for us to know short of a trial (like that of Hitler)? It’s so easy to say “oh I would NEVER do that” and believe it. It’s so easy. But to say that without considering the scenario is foolish. We don’t know. We can’t know what we would have done.

Maybe the words of Christ will prove Him true. After all, we have never quite understood it when He said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Mt 7:22). Or when He said, “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Mt 7:14). Or when He said, “For many are invited, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14). What did He mean when He said, “the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8:12)?

How are we to reconcile these words with a global and influential church body? How are we to grant salvation with a whispered prayer? How can you tell from the outside if its desperation (or money) that gets the church bringing just anybody in, versus belief in the love of God? In no way is this implied easy, or that all who are part of the Christian religion are “saved”. And really, what it must boil down to is the institution, in whose womb is the actual bride of Christ – tiny, innocent, kept.

Christ was missed by Israel when He came to them. Why? Because they had certain preconceived ideas about what His arrival would look like. Instead of humility, they envisioned an army general. Rather than have him wash feet, they imagined Him served as royalty by all of humanity. In place of eating with sinners and giving words of redemption to prostitutes and lepers, they thought He’d slay these wicked with a word from His mouth. Instead of challenging and even cursing at the religious leaders who spoke in His name, they expected these men to be His closest advisors. They were wrong; they missed Him.

How will He come the second time? We have some of the very same notions actually, as Christians. He’ll come on a cloud and will slay all but his chosen ones with the simple brightness of his coming. He’ll establish his throne and the world will never know a day of unrest. It’s uncanny. But who are these chosen ones? Who are the real enemies of God? Israel would never have believed God’s enemies were the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Never would they have thought this. Is it the same for us? God versus the institution? God verses those who “tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them”? Those who “travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, [you] make him twice as much a son of hell as you [are]”? Those who “strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel”? (Mt 23).

Who belongs to Him? Can we know them? Do we need to?

All of this scares me. It makes me think we’re falling short. It makes me wonder how big the church actually is. And I can’t help but look inwardly as well. Yet you don’t want the church to become a game where every man is for himself. It’s tough.

Thoughts. Mostly questions.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jesus Camp

I had seen this new documentary on the video store shelf called Jesus Camp, and had read the back to get an idea what it was about. To be honest, I had avoided renting this movie, as normally when I go to the video store I’m in the mood to be entertained, and I had anticipated this movie actually making me mad. But eventually I did rent it. View Trailer

It wasn’t horrible. I found it quite honest and fair actually. There were certainly parts that evoked anger in me, parts that made me deeply ashamed of my associations, and parts that were actually quite precious. Basically, a camera crew follows a Pentecostal Children’s Pastor in the States who runs a summer camp. Her philosophy is that the “enemy” (ie. Muslims) are “getting them young”, meaning they are indoctrinating people into their faith when they are children, as these are the most impressionable and least sceptical. She explains that the Muslims are getting the kids excited about Islam, and proceeding to put grenades and AK47s in their hands. Therefore, Christians should be doing something of the same sort, short of grenades and AK47s. Two of the major issues that these children are trained to fight for are the re-Christianizing of the USA (because it apparently is God’s nation), and abortion (anti, of course).

A few noteworthy scenes. At the camp breakfast, after the children have got their sausage and pancakes and have sat down, there is a prayer. One of the adults stands up and thanks God for the food, ok, but proceeds to tell God to end abortion. What? At breakfast? I’d have lost my appetite. Just odd.

At another time, there was a quite well-known youth minister (who I had until now respected) who came to visit the children at the regular church service. He actually came to bring children with him to Capitol Hill in Washington to pray for God to “take back America” and to end abortion. As part of his protest or stand (or whatever), he had children come up to him like Catholics receiving communion to have their mouths taped over with red utilitarian tape. On the tape, of course, was written the word LIFE. Now I don’t know, parents, would you let your pastor tape your child’s mouth shut? That was my main concern here, however there is also the concern of using these children to help make your own points. Ah, children, so led and innocent!

I believe this film was released before the fall of Ted Haggard, the famed televangelist gay-hater who got caught praticing what he was preaching, if you know what I mean (also former President of the National Association of the Evangelicals, and former (?) Bush advisor). I felt bad for him before, until I watched this film. He invited this camera crew to his church, and he was taped giving a sermon. The camera was in fact on stage with him. Several times he looked into the camera and spoke to the audience of this documentary. For example “I think I know what you did last night. [audience laughs] In fact, if you don’t send me a cheque for $1,000 I’m gonna tell your wife what you did last night! [audience laughs again]. If you use any of this I’ll sue you! [audience laughs]” and proceeded to denounce homosexuality. View Clip I guess homosexuality is (was) the focus of that church. Other issue. He later was talking to his audience about his “10-year rule” in marriage, in that you shouldn’t marry anyone outside of 10 years your own age. He said that if in fact you are a younger woman married to an older man “I hope he dies so you can get his money!” Umm, ok? And the audience laughed.

Finally, the worst moment of all – the cardboard cut-out. During a service, one of the children’s ministers comes on stage and has all the children come to the front (like in our churches, for a nice little story, or a puppet!). She brought with her a cardboard cut-out of George Bush, and asked the children to pray for him, to speak blessing to him, to stretch their hands towards him and pray, and to then lay hands on the image of Bush. Ummm, no comment. It speaks for itself.

Where are the lines? Where is the line between teaching and indoctrination? Using and genuine self-willed action? One child explained how he was saved at 5 years old, saying that at that time he wanted “more out of life”. How? How does he know that at 5? Case in point that this is just jargon, indoctrination; he knows what to say. So is he a Christian? How can any of us know? So many questions arise.

I would certainly not recommend this film to any of my friends who don’t share my faith, as it is a complete and utter shame. However, all my Christian friends, please watch it. We need to know what our “brothers and sisters” are up to for accountability purposes, and more than that, we need to know how our (their) actions are perceived by the world in general.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The End is(n't) Near

If you live on planet earth you should definitely take the time to watch the documentaries An Inconvenient Truth and The End of Suburbia. These may give you some good-to-know info.

The basic premise of my point today is that there are two very real – and very global – catastrophes that are looming. In fact, they are predicted to be so close they’ll happen in our lifetime, even in the lifetime of someone my parents’ age.

Catastrophe 1: global warming, polar ice caps, an uninhabitable planet, and so on (though the science has been questioned, it is a generally accepted truth now – heck, even Pat Robertson is on the global warming band wagon!).

Catastrophe 2: the unpublicized end of oil, the sustainer of life on earth. Yep, the well is going to run dry. And who saw that coming? I mean, it’s not like we take it out of the earth, wash our cars with it, and it seeps back into the earth’s belly – we burn the stuff, and it’s gone forever!

I was thinking as I was watching The End of Suburbia today that the two of these catastrophes may sort of end up cancelling each other out. As soon as oil production peaks (and I’m not sure if it’s happened already but it’s speculated to happen near 2010), the supply will slowly begin dwindling, and the price of the stuff – the sustainer of life – will skyrocket. And of course, as time continues, the supply of oil will become so scarce, it’ll be a substance for the rich of the rich (like Dick Cheney). It is predicted, in this film, that this will cause all of humanity to completely reform their way of life, especially out in the West. The American Dream will become a memory, that of endless consumption, proud pillaging, and the 3000-mile dinner plate. People will be forced to revert, as it were, to the old way of life: village style. So long commute (yes!), not to mention not-a-second-thought heating and air conditioning, hello home-grown food, and who knows, maybe even the family will make a reappearance! Remember the family?

It had to be foreseen that our way of life, with the extreme level of consumption and waste and earth-domination, could not be sustained. Resources that are not given the time to replenish, and fields that are pesticide-showered to death, and a completely foreign goods-manufacturing force (think goods movement… shipping). How could we be so proud?

But alas, I had to believe that Al Gore would be the hero! While he’s gallivanting the planet advocating less consumption and more sustainable innovation in the name of slowing down the inevitable meltdown, he’s completely neglected the fact that in my lifetime, using a car will be out of my price range. Having electricity extracted from my walls at the rate I do now won’t be possible; I will have to rely on everything my solar panel and windmill can provide. Soon, my commute won’t be possible on my wage. Soon I won’t be able to afford a shirt that was brought into being in Bangladesh. Soon I won’t be able to bring my Caesar Salad in from California. Soon, I won’t have a choice!

Then, THEN, our problem will be solved! The earth will take away our choice to live more or less sustainably. It will save itself (so to speak – I’m not on the floor to Gaia!). With no one driving cars, and a lot of hard-core industrial plants being shut down, and no one being able to afford anything that has anything to do with oil (which is almost everything), maybe the earth will calm down on this whole atmospheric build-up thing, and begin to heal itself before it's too late for us all.

Who knew there’d be an end to oil? But it makes so much sense. Maybe this means there’ll be an end to war as well! Haha, now I'm just getting excited! All major causes of the end of our existence could be nipped in the bud by the end of oil. It's that Texas Tea whose blackness has been a witch's brew for all these years.



I wonder if the scientific elite at thebulletin.org have pitted these catastrophes against each other. I think not, since the clock remains at 5 to midnight. Maybe I’m just blowing smoke with my little theory here. One can hope!