Feb 282014
 

survival-book-coverIn seeking things Trey and I can watch together in the entertainment wasteland that is television, we found the “survival” shows.

They all have a common theme…one or two people get dropped off in some hostile environment with little or nothing more than the clothes on their backs and they have to “survive” until rescued.

Like most “reality” shows, they are utterly unrealistic.

 

They compress a few days in the wilderness into 40 minutes and make the use of survival skills seem easy.

The truth is, it is anything but easy.

I felt the need to demonstrate this to my boy…he was buying into the lie that we all had the innate skills to make fires from sticks without matches, and we all could build shelters in a matter of minutes, and that food just falls into traps we cleverly devise from boot laces.

Yesterday, I told him he could make a fire from friction using sticks and a knife.

This was like telling him that henceforth he would have a birthday every month complete with party and gifts.

A couple hours later, the pile of broken sticks and a dull knife had him completely frustrated.

He knew he had been lied to…it wasn’t easy and he really wasn’t ready to become a self reliant woodsman.

We didn’t even get to the part where you have to gut something…

I share this little vignette because I think we do the same thing and tell the same sort of lies in the church.

The Bible is full of stories of men encountering God, of miracles of healing and provision, of floating axehead,s and angels helping humans.

The Bible is also spread over thousands of years and if you placed those events on a timeline they would be few and far between each other.

There were 400 years were God was silent.

We still look to those stories as normative and we act as if you master a few spiritual techniques you’ll be self reliant and secure in the wilderness we walk through.

The truth in our real “reality” show is that just like the survivalists on TV, we are really just waiting to be rescued.

We are not self reliant, but reliant on each other and the Holy Spirit to find our way through to home again.

There is no shame in that…the folly is in believing otherwise.

The world is full of dangers, toil, and snares, wild beasts and people who act like one.

You need a “base camp” and people in it who understand where they are and where they’re going, and are willing to share to get everyone home.

“Surviving” the Christian life takes time and practice…it takes a lifetime and practice never makes perfect this side of glory.

Next time, I’ll help Trey build his fire.

Make your own application…

Feb 262014
 

imagesDepending on your perspective, we now enter the “Middle Ages” the “Dark Ages” or for Roman Catholicism, the “Golden Ages”.

It was golden for Rome because of the reign of Pope Gregory the Great, who institutionalized much of what we know as modern Catholicism.

Taken from Andrew Corbett’s website:

What marks Gregory the Great’s appointment as a turning point in world history, let alone Church history, was that he firmly established the supremacy and power of the Bishop of Rome, over the other bishops, expanded the realm of the Roman Church to Britain, greatly increased the wealth of papacy possessions, organised a highly respected army to defeat the enemies of Rome, and developed a chant which became known as the Gregorian Chant.

  • It was Gregory the Great who laid a foundation for successive popes to introduce spurious doctrines and practices into the Church. Among his doctrines were:
  • Salvation based on grace and the merits of man
  • The idea of purgatory as a place where souls would be purified prior to their entrance to heaven
  • Church tradition was equal in authority to the Bible
  • The Mass as a re-sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood
  • The invocation of the saints in order to gain their aid
  • And, the sacramental hierarchical system of the institutionalised Church (sacerdotalism).

Benedict started the Benedictine order of monasteries and instituted the Rule of Benedict.

Monasteries would be critically important conduits socially and politically in the life of the church in this period.

In the East, the Emperor Justinian put his mark on Orthodoxy and history with the Justinian Code that is still the basis of much international law.

From  http://www.neobyzantine.org/byzantium/society/culture_justinian_dynasty.php

“Justinian’s legislation dealt with almost every aspect of the Christian life: entrance into it by conversion and Baptism; administration of the sacraments that marked its several stages; proper conduct of the laity to avoid the wrath God would surely visit upon a sinful people; finally, the standards to be followed by those who lived the particularly holy life of the secular or monastic clergy. Pagans were ordered to attend church and accept Baptism, while a purge thinned their ranks in Constantinople, and masses of them were converted by missionaries in Asia Minor. Only the orthodox wife might enjoy the privileges of her dowry; Jews and Samaritans were denied, in addition to other civil disabilities, the privilege of testamentary inheritance unless they converted. A woman who worked as an actress might better serve God were she to forswear any oath she had taken, even though before God, to remain in that immoral profession. Blasphemy and sacrilege were forbidden, lest famine, earthquake, and pestilence punish the Christian society. Surely God would take vengeance upon Constantinople, as he had upon Sodom and Gomorrah, should the homosexual persist in his “unnatural” ways.

Justinian regulated the size of churches and monasteries, forbade them to profit from the sale of property, and complained of those priests and bishops who were unlearned in the forms of the liturgy. His efforts to improve the quality of the secular clergy, or those who conducted the affairs of the church in the world, were most opportune. The best possible men were needed, for, in most East Roman cities during the 6th century, imperial and civic officials gradually resigned many of their functions to the bishop, or patriarch. The latter collected taxes, dispensed justice, provided charity, organized commerce, negotiated with barbarians, and even mustered the soldiers. By the early 7th century, the typical Byzantine city, viewed from without, actually or potentially resembled a fortress; viewed from within, it was essentially a religious community under ecclesiastical leadership.”

Church and state become completely intertwined in this century in the East and West.

Dionysius Exiquus (d. c. 550), a monk in Rome, establishes modern system of dating, using events after Christ as “Anno Domini,” in the year of our Lord.

Muhammed is born in 570…and a new enemy of Christianity with him.

The Visagoths who sacked Rome in the last century also took Spain…and when King Recared the Visagoth converted to Catholicism (and repudiated Arianism) he brought the faith that continues strong in these countries to this day.

Feb 262014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aOn Wednesdays we remember that a brother languishes in a foreign prison.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.

 

We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

Feb 252014
 

links_image1Nine strange facts about Martin Luther…

Brian’s Got a Problem with the Bible (and so do most of us)

Funeral for the snake handling pastor…

Gay couple sues to force church wedding…

Against Christian hypocrisy…

The strange saga of “Jesus Calling”…

Stetzer says multi-site here to stay…

On narcissistic leaders…

Seven lies Christians tell...

Excellent piece on dealing with spiritual abuse…

Will America be judged?

About where you live…

On hearing one side of a story…

Atonement and divine child abuse…

More on Furtick…

Driscolls doctor suspended…

Feb 242014
 

thumbnail.aspxIf you have a need and would like the community to lift you or someone you know in prayer, please use this thread to ask for it.

If you have a situation that requires privacy, just leave a name and ask for prayer.

 

We are fearful folk, and we dwell in the midst of a fearful people,

fearful of our world falling apart, in terror and moral decay,

fearful of too many “dangers, toils, and snares,”

fearful of not doing well,

of being found out,

of being left out,

of being abandoned,

of our own shadow.

And then we hear, astonishingly in the midst of our fearfulness,

your mighty, “DO NOT FEAR”

do not fear, I am with you,

with you in wealth and in poverty,

with you in success and in failure,

with you for better or for worse.

We hear, we trust, we receive your comfort and are made new.

We thank you for the newness of our identity, of our trust, of our calling.

Because of your new utterance of life to us, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.

We, your new people, thank you for your newness and notice that you work newness among us, for we know about being, lame people who walk, blind people who see, dead people who live, poor people who are unburdened.

We rally round your newness that is both our hope and our work.

Your fearless newness into which we are immersed is beyond our expectation;

But we are not offended by it; not scandalized by you; not ashamed of your newness; not embarrassed by your healings.

We ask now for energy and freedom, rooted in your fearlessness, that we may live toward and from and for your newness that bubbles up, even in the midst of us, all around us to the uttermost parts of the earth.

We pray in the name of your fearless gift of newness who scandalizes the world and makes all things new, even Jesus. Amen.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 94). Kindle Edition.

Feb 242014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. We were all blown away last week by the crass narcissism of a “pastor” who would indoctrinate children to see him as the center of the church. We rail against the ethical abuses and corruption we see all around us in the church and we wonder why someone won’t deal with these rogue leaders…when both the blame and the cure for such is clearly seen in the mirror.

In this country, both church and state have the leadership they choose and only the people can choose to change leaders.

2. In the Scriptures, God calls both an individual and a “people”…a group of called individuals. What the church has forgotten is that we are both, and the deeply communal nature of the Christian faith has gone by the wayside. We care only about whether something “works” for us individually, instead of the whole community we are called to participate in and care for.

3. I feel very righteous every time we expose the failings of another wolf…and move one step closer to becoming what I despise.

4. “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9 ESV) Unless of course, you’re online.

5. The person without a regular prayer life may be a professing Christian, but is a practical agnostic. This isn’t original with me, but I needed to tape it to my computer…

6. Sometimes…maybe most of the time…having child like faith in the midst of a crisis seems like nothing more than superstition and a foolish avoidance of reality. God is the Maker of reality…have child like faith anyway.

7. Job’s counselors multiplied like rabbits… they are a huge people group in the church.

8. I am a firm believer in the doctrine of providence that says God is continually working in all things to accomplish His purposes and that all things come from His hand. Therefore…if you find yourself in a difficult relationship, maybe a heartrending relationship, with a child or a spouse ( or anyone else) you were the person God specifically chose and equipped to demonstrate His love and His ways to the person.  Make your own application…

9. It’s chic now to be a “recovering fundamentalist”. I’m happily still “infected”.

10. I wake up in a hot panic every morning over finances and sheer survival. My cat wakes up every morning in perfect peace, yawns, stretches, and waits, fully expecting the one who adopted and loves her to provide for her…and he does.  Stupid cat…

Feb 212014
 

im-sorryI have run out of words, so this is a “best of” TGIF…

It is the second most powerful phrase in our language.

It is one of the first phrases a child learns when developing social skills.

 

It carries great potential for healing when spoken from the heart.

It is supposed to come naturally for Christians.

‘I’m sorry”.

My own son, from his earliest years, has understood the full equation, “I’m sorry, please forgive me”.

Sadly, once you achieve a measure of  authority, the phrase sticks in your throat like a fish bone.

Thousands of people who have experienced some sort of organizational abuse of authority have been held in the grip of that abuse because people are too important in their own eyes to say two simple words.

“I’m sorry”.

They should forgive unilaterally, you object…let it go and move on.

Perhaps…but that’s not the way we’re wired and that’s not how God set up the social intercourse of the church.

To be offended without the offender seeking forgiveness creates an open cycle of pain that takes an act of God to heal… when two words spoken fitly could have ended the cycle and created health.

The only thing worse is when the offender denies giving any offense at all…

You can easily spot those who have been denied the hearing of those words…they find a way to clean the wound and maintain peace for a season, but inevitably the wound begins to fester and fill with toxins and they either display the frustration and pain or they retreat from the circle to clean the wound anew.

The wound never heals, because the balm is never applied by the ones who hold it.

This principle applies to our personal relationships as well…days, months, years, of strife can be ended with the speaking of two simple words.

I have played both parts in my life, the offender and the offended, and the only freedom I have ever found was held in those two words, given and received.

You see, the most powerful phrase in our tongue is “I love you”…but some will only believe those words if they hear “I’m sorry” first.

Today, I’m going to seek out those who need to hear from me.

Go and do likewise.

Make your own application…

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