Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It Was Worth It

What would you think if 500 hundred people waited at 4 in the morning for church to open up?
Your fist thought would be that this was not real; your second thought would be that the church must be handing out 100 dollar bills!

Either way, you are acknowledging a basic psychological fact:
people sacrifice for their gods.

In this case, Black Friday represents a "holy" day for millions of Americans offering their "tithes" to the god of prosperity. They are willing to inconvienence themselves to get up before the worms are awake; they are willing to expend precious family, house and work time to wait in line for fleeting material goods. Adding in the traffic headackes, complaining children and customers as well as one's sanity, Americans expend much more mental, physcial, and temporal energy for a once-a-year event than they do figuring out what issues to vote upon!

But they all believe it was worth it.

When this "tithing" (as well as the "tithing" throughout the year on TVs, cars, videos, cable, internet, computers and games) is added up it quickly dwarfs the church tithing of America. When the time, energy and commitment are thrown into the equation, church recedes into the background. Apparantly, the things of this world are worth such efforts. The things of God are not.

Sacrifices to one's god is easily discovered through such an analysis: what are you willing to do to please your god?

Get up early for prayer time, sunday school and church?
Set up the books and chairs sunday morning?
Take time to attend weekly bible study?
Tithe to God's Church?
Pray, read and study the Bible daily?

We are willing to spend time, energy and money on the things that are worth it.
Clearly, God's church and people are worth our time.
It is worth it for me.

Is it worth it for you?


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanks For Giving Us Life, Lord

Thank You, Lord.

Praising, lauding and glorifying You for all that You have bestowed upon my family is the least I can do. Even this, Oh Lord, is but a faint shadow of the honor due You.

As such, even after serving You, it is only what is required of us, Your unworthy servants.

Thank you for:

Freedom of Association
Freedom of Arms
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom of Selling
Freedom of Buying

Body of Christ:
Reformed Churches
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Providence Church

Thank You for,

Thank You for: security, technology and plenty; for breath and life.
Thank you for Your Son and the Spirit who breathes life into us.

For all this my family worships you; for all this we do not deserve. It is not of our own making, doing or goodness that brought this upon us. It is only Your undeserving grace, mercy and kindness.

In all this prosperity--of freedom, worship, and life--we plead one thing of Thee:

"Give me neither poverty nor riches -- Feed me with the food allotted to
me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or lest I be
poor and steal, And profane the name of my God." Prov. 30:8-9.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ugly...finally dies

A while ago, I blogged this dog:

"Devil Dog. A mutated, malformed, monstrosity of a mutt. A baleful, chthonic, gruesome freak straight from the Grand Guignol itself. A nightmarish, grisly animal shooting its foul imagery straight into my terrified senses, while assualting the unarmed mind with ferocious malignancy: is it real?"

Well, it was real and it finally died.
At age 14.
Good riddance.

Now I can sleep without nightmares.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reinventing Church...Business

Recently, upon entering my abode, I noticed a white-bag attached to my front door. I gingerly handled it, opened it and found a cleverly designed box spring open in my hand.

This was no ordinary advertisement.
Of the six sides on the cube, four had religious jokes about Moses, Noah and the magi.
The other two sides advertised for a young, energetic twenty-something church that will bring no demands upon her members.

It was an ad for a church inviting people to its "grand opening."
I kid you not.

The church is meeting in a commercial center where another "gen-x" church used to meet. I suspect its the same church with a makeover.

The advertising did its job: I knew exactly what they stood for; and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I'm not interested in a church that tries to attract members through jokes.

Are they going to humor people to heaven?

I'm not impressed with their tag line either: "We think church should be something to look forward to, where children and adults can have fun."

Why not go to a circus--you get more "fun" for your money.

Of course, some might complain that I'm being too harsh, too heartless, and too...humorless?
However, one's view of sin and the gospel will reflect itself in the church--even in its advertisement.

Does man avoid God because of "stuffy" church?--then advertise a "casual" dress code.
Does man avoid God because of "slow" music?--then advertise "loud" music.
Does man avoid God because of "irrelevent" sermons?--then advertise "relevant" messages.

However, if man's fundamental problem is his rebellious alienation from God (Rom. 1:18ff.), then the Gospel (and the church upon which it is built) will reflect that condition. A church will not even try to "advertise" itself but will stand boldly upon the Law and Gospel of the Word of Christ. Law to convict of sin; Gospel to cover sin. The church should be a comfort for believers and a challenge to unbelievers.

Church should not be in the business of reinventing the Gospel (or Church) but standing firm in the antithesis between the World and the Church. There are no "grand openings." If Christ is our model, he was a poor businessman, preaching conviction of sin and the realities of hell.

The only "advertisement' a church needs is its faithful adherence to the entire Word of God.
And the only "reinventing" a church needs is a spirit-wrought reformation.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Lost Art of Sleeping In

“Ruff!! Ruff!”
“What the…,” exclaimed a weary-eyed sleeper. Fumbling like a drunken bum, he finally found the clock. His brain stared at the devise until it registered the true state of affairs: “It’s 6:00 in the morning!” With a heavy sigh, he turns toward the enticing pillow…

Rummmble! Rooaar!! The screaming, shattering chainsaw chases a terrified man. Running with all his might, he evades the chainsaw, only to see it crashing through another door…and wakes him up to the familiar sound of a lawn mower. This time it’s 7 AM.

Screeching, screaming and shouting, the local street urchins abort his attempted Saturday morning sleep-in at 7:30.

What is the point of sleeping in? No one else does. I seem to remember my parents sleeping in on at least one weekend day. They would warn my sister and me to be quite lest we feel a wrath that would pale the likes of Khan.

However, in the last few years, if we stay up late on a Friday night (which I thought most people our age did, with or without children), it only makes sense that we would try to sleep in a little on Saturday. And I don’t mean until 10:30 either.

Why the change? Could it be that more people are trying to busy themselves these days? Or that they carry the weekday rush into the weekend? The six-year old has to attend pee-wee league, the backyard has to have a new deck and so many things must be accomplished by noon on Saturday. Naturally, both Saturday and Sunday are “get-things-done” days because the rest of the week is filled with extended hours (from bosses and companies who live for money), meetings, veterinarian appointments, sporting events, and what-nots.

Rest is lost. Community is gone. And the church and Sabbath are no longer central to the family units.

In America there is no Sabbath rest. The Gospel is meaningless, so the Sabbath day is meaningless (Heb. 4:1ff) and the church is pushed into the periphery. We live in one of the most unchurched cities in America. And we see that every Sunday morning when by 8:30 we are ready to drive to church, while the neighbors ready their lawnmowers, hedge-clippers and motorbikes.

Perhaps Americans are becoming more busy and less rested as they attempt to drown-out the call of the Gospel. Or perhaps I’m simply asking too much to be able to sleep in just a little.



Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Democracy problems & other odds & ends

Desiring to bring to the conservative Christians the glaring problems with the Iraqi constitution, I did not focus on my own beliefs. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the internet is wide open for any all readers; thus, there are questions and concerns about what has been (mostly) unsaid in this series.

Being an interactive blog I expected, well, interaction—I was hoping some comments from those concerned about America supporting an Islamic Socialistic state! (But, perhaps, too many people have been accustomed to socialism to even recognize it anymore). Instead, I got various and sundry comments about “neocons” and “Christian fundamentalist”. So, I’ll try to summarize some clarifying comments:

1. This first point acknowledges the comment that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land (article 6) . I do acknowledge that my fourth article/posting is short and vague. Thus, I’ve modified it slightly.

2. “so you're against democracy are you?”
I am against Democracy when defined as direct democracy, majoritarianism , or economic egalitarianism (positions the founders tried to avoid). I believe in a federal republic, sometimes called a representative democracy.

3. " 'the people are the cornerstone to modern society' " - yes, so they should be. the system is known as democracy, the system you seem to oppose."
Besides what is noted above (and not merely believed by a fringe group!) about democracy, the cornerstone of any society should be law—that is what protects the minority from the majority. Thus, the majority cannot enact murder, for instance, against the minority.

4. " 'only God and His Law are our authority and legitimacy' " - so why isn't America a theocracy (maybe that's what you want)"
Maybe—depending on how one defines “theocracy”. The American law-system is based upon certain philosophical doctrines; over the course of our history, there has been a struggle over what those doctrines should be. Currently, we have a non-reflective worldview used in America, Evolutionary Materialism, with relativism as a corollary. Of course, Materialists use logic—which has no physical existence--but that’s another matter.
I would have no problem with the original American set-up in which Protestantism was the recognized “cultural glue”, such that some of the States limited governmental offices to Protestants only. Thus, our nation basically--in its law and cultural expectations-- followed the Ten Commandments. This, however, did not mean any one church ruled the nation, or that people were killed for being Muslim, but it entailed a general belief and practice that most citizens had in common (a worldview). More precisely I would like a return to the older Christian America as consistent with such a worldview (hence, no slaves, etc., but that is another post).

5. "Then again, the Iranians are allowed to vote as well.” Exactly, that is one of the major problems of Democracies. Another Hitler could be voted in. However, if a Republic is based upon a common worldview (that is one against Nazism or Communism), reinforced through the societal institutions, then this would be much less likely. But a free-for-all Democracy is unpredictable and dangerous in the long run.

6. “It seems there's another US christian fundamentalist / neocon who needs to learn more about his own country's history and constitution.” Nope, sorry—too many assumptions: I am not a neocon:I did not vote for Bush; I am against the Iraqi war; I am against international "interventionism". However, if one wishes to continue this friendly dialogue, perhaps his or her philosophical assumption (worldview) should be placed on the table for all to see—making blanket allegations from the cover of cyberspace is too convenient.

As for “fundamentalist”—I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. Some use it as an ad hominem associating Christians with Islamic terrorists; some use it (again as an ad hominem) more narrowly for "unthinking" Christians (which do exists); others use it for Christians who believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures (that's me!). Within conservative Christian circles (in the US anyway) it may mean those who "don't drink, smoke or dance" (i.e. legalists) or those who are dogmatic thinkers. It used to mean simply those who believed in the miracles of the Bible and its inspiration (Torrey's The Fundamentals). It is more proper to call me Reformed Presbyterian (ala Westminster Confession (1646)--OPC)

I guess with that many definitions of "fundamentalist" under my belt, that should preclude me from being "unthinking". Then, again, many non-Christians don't even know this much about Christianity.

I hope I have clarified myself enough. Remember, I am trying to write to a Christian audience--but I'm willing to dialogue with others.