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Archive for May, 2007

Sometimes I’m embarrassed to say I’m a Christian. I love the Lord and I strive to walk in righteousness. I seek truth and endevour to accomplish my day in love. I believe Christ is the son of God sent as the propitiation for the sins of the world. Still, there are times I am embarrassed by the label Christian – not because I’m not thoroughly convinced of my beliefs or because I fear persecution by unbelievers. Non-Christians are not the foil or threat to Christianity. Christians are.
Christianity is about love, forgiveness, salvation from sin and the resulting peace; and it’s about spreading that good news. Many professing Christians forget that, I think. I say professing and not actual because often their actions tell a different story than their lips. Confessing my faith as a Christian is to be named among these hearers and not doers of the Word. This is not judgement or condemnation on my part, merely a presenting of accumulated experience. The Bible says, “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7) If the world knows Christians (in general) as exclusionary, Bible-bashing, opinionated, loud-mouths, our fruits have spoken for us and we have nullified our witness.
There’s an unfortunate and cloistered environment that some Christian churches have fostered which basically makes a competition out of the religion. It’s all about acquiring greater attendance than the church down the street. Or purposefully scheduling evangelistic events in direct conflict with other churches’ similar ministries. Or using such ostracizing language as, “Those other places don’t have what we have here,” and “People only go to those other places to hide in the crowd.”
Maybe people go to “those other places” because they offer interesting ministries? Maybe the “other places” are closer to home? Perhaps God even leads people where He wants them to be?
Churches that embrace such a narrow-minded attitude impede the people from choosing anything different. The only way to worship God is the way that church worships; the only place to serve God is within those walls; the only way to be holy is to be there. To think individually, to move on, to propose change is to be lost and to reject the truth.
As preposterous as it sounds coming from the loving, long-suffering nature of Christianity, groups like this exist and they are what propagate the marginalizing reputation of Christians everywhere.
I believe this chasm within Christianity is what hinders the saving of souls. We invalidate our testimonies to potential Christians by polarizing our message and mistreating those not “on our side.”
I read something recently in which the author mentioned that Jesus had to correct his disciples telling them that the Gospel is not copyrighted. (It was in reference to Mark 9:38-39 when John told Jesus that he and his brother forbade a man from casting out demons in Jesus’ name because he was not one of the twelve. Jesus told them to not forbid him because “he that is not against us is for our part.”) So why the skirmishing over sides and the bigotted attitudes of, “No other church is as good as ours”? Do we not all convene under the blood of Jesus Christ? And ultimately, as Christians, don’t we all have the same Great Commission? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” Matt. 28:19.

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Good Read

I came across this in all my recent studies and research. It’s an excellent sermon by Martin Luther.
Please read it. It’ll be good for you.

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I drove through my old neighborhood about a week ago and it was somewhat weird, but I’m shocked and happy to report that the play ground had several new toys. Everything was freshly painted; the grass was mowed to an appropriate height for toddlers; every A-frame seemed to stand a little taller under the adornment of swings. There was a grouping of FOUR new baby swings (we were lucky to have one broken baby swing for the last five years). I think I spotted a new (or at least a repaired) picnic table under the trees so that adults had somewhere to sit. If I remember correctly, there was even a port-a-potty near the entrance (although I was so excited by all the improvements, I could have imagined it.)
Modesty dictates that I just smile and say, “How nice!” continuing on my pleased and merry way satisfied that action was taken to remedy the many complaints I detailed in the letter to the borough.
However, this is HUGE! (And I’m not all that modest.) I would just like everyone to know that Kennedy Playground in Vandergrift is less of a crap pile because of me! You’re welcome. No applause necessary; erecting a port-a-potty in my honor is sufficient thanks.

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no longer rocks my world. Melinda should have won. No contest. The voters are idiots. I’m crushed.

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As my children are getting a little older I’m facing the quota of the precious few moments during childhood when parents get to choke on their, “Praise Jesus it’s not my kids!” in the RUMBLE OF screaming, whining, kicking, fighting, nose-picking, dirt-eating, head-spinning-tantrum-throwing, INSANITY that is every place where there are kids.
God have mercy on the mother and daughter I encountered in Chick-fil-A today. (We were playing in the indoor tubes/slides thingy, which, fortunately is sound-proof to the dining area.) Mom said, “We’re going to get ready to leave soon. Go ahead down the slide again, then we’ll go.” Daughter turned Emily Rose and I thought the Dark Lord himself gobbled up that little girl and was headed to mom next. Horns popped right out her forehead; she grew a barbed black tail through her lavender sun dress, and her forked tongue hissed and spit and sought to devour.
I don’t know whether the mother was previously aware that her child was Satan’s spawn or if she was simply as horrified as the rest of the room; but she just stood there with limp arms and vacant Stepford Wives party face while the nine cirlces of hell invaded toddler land. One mother fished around in her purse for the rosary while another one lashed together some umbrellas to fashion a cross. My only thought was for my kids. I didn’t want their cutthroat instincts to kick in on account of this prosaic performance and inspire them to school the wee thespian on how the masters do it.
So we high-tailed it and left the rest to the exorcism.
In related news, another sporadic parental power is wish-granting, so if ever you have opportunity to grant a kid’s wish, JFDI no matter the size. Yesterday Evelina wished on the airborne dandelion seeds she blew to freedom (and multiplication.) She sat in the weeds clutching her dandelion and whispered her wish into her other hand. She said it was a secret because wishes don’t come true if you tell them. (As though I don’t know such things.)
Later in the car she was beside herself in anticipation of her wish coming true. She gave me a clue about it. (I guess that’s not against wish-coming-true policy.) “It has to do something about numbers, Mama.” I guessed that she was excited about her birthday when she’ll be six (because Colin is six), which isn’t for another year, but you know how it is when you’re five.
“No. I mean it’s about numbers, MOM.”
“I can’t possibly guess, Evelina. You’ve stumped me.”
“Fine. I wished I could COUNT TO 400!”
Betcha can’t guess what we did on the hour-long drive home from Grandma’s house.
She thinks I’m magic because I made her wish come true. And that rocks!

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I left a comment on my post “Matthew Henry was a Smart Guy” regarding anonymous comments. I’d just like to reiterate my position here. I’m happy to post most comments because I appreciate all points of view about what I write. However, I do not post comments that come in anonymously. You’re free to agree or disagree with what I write, but please, just have the courtesy to let me know who you are. After all, you know who I am. Just give me a name, but try not to be coy and clever; don’t make up a name. Be convicted enough in the message you leave to sign your name to it. Thank you and please keep commenting.

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Wired World

The internet world is a great place. So much information, so many perspectives, so many groups of people connecting around the globe. Ideas and opinions flow freely and reach the masses. And it’s fast. We don’t have to wait for the daily news anymore. We have immediate and constant access to breaking news over seas and around the world.
Here’s the thing I think we often forget. It’s a world of dots and pixels, zeros and ones. Behind the scenes, at its core it’s robotic, sterile, and cold. The machines whir and buzz and cursors blink dumbly as they await input.
Through myspace, blogger, instant messager, flickr, singles’ communities, podcasts, etc. we try and infuse human aspects and affections into these boxes of modems and wires. We no longer are only members of our tangible environments, we’re members of virtual “online communities.” We don’t just have friends anymore; we have friends and online friends, and in my experience, they rarely cross borders.
Try it sometime. Try conveying a passionate or tearful or tender message through email or instant messager to a friend you’ve only known in the real world. I would bet things won’t turn out as expected. Why? You say to yourself, this person knows me, they understand what I’m all about, they should know what I mean. What we forget is that something like 90% (I believe I’m remembering that correctly) of our communication is not in our words. The people we know intimately have an understanding of our tones of voice, facial expressions, broader body language and so all the communication is seasoned with these various bits that all get stripped and reduced to mere words when we interact through machines.
It’s a cankerous petridish of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, perceived offenses, and bad grammar.
The contrary is true of our online relationships. I have found it overwhelming and over-stimulating to engage with someone in person after interacting with them only remotely. It’s an overload to contend with all their quirks and mannerisms that were blissfully absent in the chat room – or wherever. The realms of text and smiley’s and frownies can be a welcome simplicity to the barrage of inputs from real world connections. The two are interesting foils.
So, well, what to do with this? I don’t know really. I just find it helpful to remember that all the flash, avatars, and “pimp your myspace” designs are smoke and mirrors, pretty packaging for a coded domain of zeros and ones.

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