The Best Blog Post I’ve Ever Seen!

February 25, 2009

Both this very short post and this video are simply amazing. It may be the best thing I’ve ever seen on the Internet:

http://michaelhyatt.com/2009/02/the-gift-of-validation.html

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Zechariah & Mary

February 24, 2009

I have a lot of Bible questions that I don’t think I’ll get answered (in this life anyway). I suspect it is the same with you.

Here’s an example from my recent daily reading: in Luke 1:18 and 34, why did Zechariah’s question to Gabriel warrant punishment but Mary’s did not? From the text, they seem to be very similar questions, asked in the same way, with the same degree of respect:

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” – Luke 1:18

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
– Luke 1:34

I’ve thought about this and asked a couple of Bible scholars and the best we can come up with is the realization that overall the Bible only gives us a certain amount of information (otherwise it would be a really big book!). In this case, Zechariah may have had an attitude or something else that just isn’t carried to us in the text. And for God’s purpose for us via this text, that information must not be needed.

That brings up a point (that I mentioned previously) which has taken a lot of work for my engineering-type personality to accept: there are just some things in the Bible that we can’t know. We’ve got to trust God enough to accept that He’s told us what we need. If we want to know more, maybe we should concentrate on getting to Heaven so we can ask him!

"An astrologer and a Christian?"

February 8, 2009

I saved the Friday, October 31, 2008 “Life” section of the Huntsville (AL) Times because it had a story about an astrologer named Keisha Tafari, and I knew when I had time I was going to have to comment. There was a sub story with the title that I’m also using for blog post:

An astrologer and a Christian?
“Sure. A Christian can study astrology”, says Keisha Tafari, minister of music at Unity Church on the Mountain and a student of astrology for about 13 years. She holds a first-level certification from the School of Metaphysics.

She turns in the Bible to Genesis 1:14: “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky…and let them be for signs and for seasons.'” Then to Luke 21:25, where Jesus is talking to his disciples about the days before his second coming: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

“It’s almost like we’re instructed to study astrology, that it’s a form of God’s guidance along the say,” Tafari said…

I’ve often wondered how someone can honestly think this way. Unfortunately, as incorrect as I believe this lady’s thinking is, reasoning like this isn’t uncommon. What I suspect happens is that people have some idea in their head or some belief that feels good to them and want to pretend that the Bible supports it. So they pick a verse or two that might, possibly, kind-of-if-you-read-it-just-right, almost, sort of imply that belief. And they ignore many other verses that much more clearly address the issue (in this case ones such as Isaiah 47:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:19 and 18:9-12, Leviticus 20:6, Daniel 1:20 and 2:27-28, Acts 16:16-18, 2 Chronicles 33:5-6, Revelation 3:16, Matthew 7:22-24, etc.).

Many of us will scoff at the thought of Christianity being compatible with astrology, but let’s ask ourselves whether we’re making the same mistake. Do we hold beliefs just because they are comfortable? Have we checked them against what the Bible actually says (as opposed to what we want it to say)? I think our obligation to do just that should be stronger than our ability to rationalize our way out of it. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

Some Thoughts on Abortion

January 20, 2009

I’m ashamed to say that at one time in my life I was pro-abortion.

I refuse to call that “pro-choice” and here’s why: I think the primary way we support things like this is that we use names for them that help us not think about what they really are. I held this position long before I was a Christian, and I can remember thinking the common “who are these people to tell this woman what she can or can’t do?”. I didn’t bother think that particular piece of logic through, or I’d have realized that I supported all kinds of laws that told all of us what we could and couldn’t do.

Most people, if they took the time to find out a little about what an abortion (particularly a partial birth abortion) actually is, would be appalled. But they don’t. I certainly didn’t. If you think you support abortion, and aren’t familiar with the details, I suggest you become familiar and see if your opinion changes.

This really hasn’t been much of an issue in my life personally, and my consideration of it was limited to a reaction to the occasional article or commentary or verbal comment I’d run across. So I could be “for” it without much thought or controversy. When I became a Christian I thought about it for the first time in a long time. And since, I’ve come to wonder how people can consider themselves Christians but still support it.

If you are an atheist, who doesn’t believe in any higher power, and therefore don’t believe you are bound to any such rules, then while I think you are wrong, I don’t think it is illogical to support abortion.

But if you are a Christian, I’d think Luke 1:39-45 would give you pause:

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

It is hard to see how a lump of cells without any consciousness would leap for joy at an external stimulus like this, and almost as hard to see how another lump of cells would be able to cause said stimulus.

One might argue that John and Jesus were different or special, and in many ways they’d be right. But it seems a real stretch to me to say that the way they were special was that they were “alive” in the womb, while everyone else is not.

This isn’t the only Bible verse relevant to this issue. If you consider yourself a Christian, and don’t oppose abortion, I urge you to reconsider your thinking and ask yourself if that’s a reasonable position. Ask God to help you decide what you should believe on this. Study the Bible and see if its message is consistent with abortion. Let me know what you find.

Uncomfortable

January 16, 2009

In a recent Bible study someone said “I’m uncomfortable with that”, referring to a couple of verses that we were discussing.

I stopped the conversation and asked him to define “uncomfortable”. I did that because I’ve heard that sentiment expressed many times by people who don’t like what the Bible is telling them. They are usually able to ignore it with some combination of subject changing and rationalization.

But that’s not what this person meant. He meant that he was uncomfortable that he wasn’t able to be more sure of exactly what the Bible meant in those two verses. Basically he didn’t care one way or another what it said – he would accept that as God’s word and try to live according to it. The problem was that he just wasn’t 100% sure what exactly it did say.

To me that attitude seems just exactly right on. It says “I’m going to do whatever God says, and my only task is to figure out what that is.” There is no “that doesn’t feel right” or “I don’t understand why God would/wouldn’t want that.” Simply, “I’ll work to obey what He says.”

Think about how hard it is to submit that totally to God!

"An astrologer and a Christian?"

January 8, 2009

I saved the Friday, October 31, 2008 “Life” section of the Huntsville (AL) Times because it had a story about an astrologer named Keisha Tafari, and I knew when I had time I was going to have to comment. There was a sub story with the title that I’m also using for blog post:

        An astrologer and a Christian?

“Sure. A Christian can study astrology”, says Keisha Tafari, minister of music at Unity Church on the Mountain and a student of astrology for about 13 years. She holds a first-level certification from the School of Metaphysics.

She turns in the Bible to Genesis 1:14: “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky…and let them be for signs and for seasons.'” Then to Luke 21:25, where Jesus is talking to his disciples about the days before his second coming: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

“It’s almost like we’re instructed to study astrology, that it’s a form of God’s guidance along the say,” Tafari said…

I’ve often wondered how someone can honestly think this way. Unfortunately, as incorrect as I believe this lady’s thinking is, reasoning like this isn’t uncommon. What I suspect happens is that people have some idea in their head or some belief that feels good to them and want to pretend that the Bible supports it. So they pick a verse or two that might, possibly, kind-of-if-you-read-it-just-right, almost, sort of imply that belief. And they ignore many other verses that much more clearly address the issue (in this case ones such as Isaiah 47:13-14, Deuteronomy 4:19 and 18:9-12, Leviticus 20:6, Daniel 1:20 and 2:27-28, Acts 16:16-18, 2 Chronicles 33:5-6, Revelation 3:16, Matthew 7:22-24, etc.).

Many of us will scoff at the thought of Christianity being compatible with astrology, but let’s ask ourselves whether we’re making the same mistake. Do we hold beliefs just because they are comfortable? Have we checked them against what the Bible actually says (as opposed to what we want it to say)? I think our obligation to do just that should be stronger than our ability to rationalize our way out of it. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

The Theory of Christianity vs. The Practice

January 7, 2009

I know a lot of people who know at least something about the theory of Christianity. Most of them believe something vague about Jesus dying for our sins, that God and maybe Satan exist, and that the Bible contains at least some things God wants us to know.

Where the many and the few separate is in what they practice. “The many” see some things the Bible says and decide they like them and embrace them and when it is convenient try to live according to them. But right there on the page next to those things, in painstakingly translated English, is something they don’t like, and somehow they just ignore it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just the same. Or rather, I have been for most of my live – I’m making an effort to not be anymore. And it’s hard, no question.

It isn’t hard in that God’s commandments are burdensome (in fact they are not). I think what’s hard is to change oneself. To get past our pride and admit (or even consider) that we have been wrong for years or decades.

But we have to – that’s the price of following Christ. We can be hot or we can be cold, but we can’t be lukewarm.

Do We Even Believe in Commitments Anymore?

December 31, 2008

Today’s USA Today has a story on its front page titled “Tempers rise over oil-heat lock-ins”.

Basically it gives examples of people and organizations that locked in prices thinking they were going to stay high, only to see them fall significantly.

Several of the organizations had reasonable positions such as this: We rolled the dice and did what we thought was the best thing to do.

But here’s what kills me:

  • In Connecticut, more than 500 people have called the attorney general’s office in the past two months, trying to get out of the fuel contracts.
  • New Hampshire’s attorney general’s office received at least a dozen calls and the Vermont AG’s office about two dozen from upset homeowners.
  • “It’s a universal plea: they want us to extricate them from these contracts,” says Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

I just can’t get over how people can feel this way. If the price had gone up, and the people they bought the lock-ins from had called them to get out of the contracts, you can bet they would have been outraged! But they have no problem trying to go the other way.

Do we as a people place no value on our word? Goodness, these are binding legal contracts – if someone won’t even live up to that, I can pretty much guess what they’d do with their word given the slightest difficulty. Hmmm, seems like the Bible says something about that somewhere…

Compromise in Religion

December 3, 2008

Religion is one thing on which we just can’t compromise.

I suspect most of you have just now decided that I’m either crazy or just plain wrong. After all, if you really look closely, aren’t most churches built on the idea that most things is OK, as long as it feels good? As long as we feel that we’re serving God? And that anyone who disagrees is a crazy rule-keeper trying to work his way to Heaven? I think many (even most) people believe this, because I can’t think of any other way to explain the vast differences in belief between people who call themselves Christians.

It seems to me that if God is real, and there is an absolute truth, then he has defined what is right and what is wrong. Negotiations between people don’t come into it. Votes among delegates at conferences don’t influence what is true and what is not.

My friend Gary has a great example of this on his website – click on “Answer 3 simple questions.” just under the picture of the pen.

Here’s the bottom line: What you and I want is immaterial. All that matters is what God wants. Realizing this is a big step toward aligning ourselves with Him.

And what God wants doesn’t change. This is well said in a great Hank Snow song called My Religion’s Not Old Fashioned (but It’s Real Genuine). Some of the words in this link are a bit garbled, but you get the picture.

If those words are true, and I believe they are, then many churches are just wrong.

Whoa! Can you believe I just said that!? Surely I don’t mean that? Well, yes, I’m afraid I do.

Do I believe I have all the answers? That I’m going to heaven and everyone else is bound straight for h-e-double-toothpicks?

Hardly. But I will say this: if you aren’t regularly reading the Bible and praying for God to help you find the truth, how will you know what’s right and what’s not? You can’t just believe what you hear from your friends or even your preacher – you have to be a Berean (Acts 17: 10-12) and decide for yourself.

And you can’t just make up stuff because it feels good. Think about that – do you believe you can trust your daily feelings to tell you what God wants you to do?

Another "lukewarm" thought

November 19, 2008

I wanted to share this from my church bulletin last weekend. This rings so true to me. Why are the actions of so many “church-going” people completely out of sync with this?

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” – C.S. Lewis