Thursday, March 29, 2007

Shot In the Dark - Double-Minded Madness at Work

This week a man in Massachusetts was sentenced to death for the shooting death of a child. He received the standard "life without parole" sentence that our state mandates. So what makes this case, 1 out of about 200 that year, something out of the ordinary? It was an unborn child in a mothers womb that was hit by his bullet. It is a triumph of justice that this man was convicted.

While the woman, like hundreds of other survivors, morns the loss of a life. Here is what else I find amazing about this story passing by in the "Breaking News" segment. In our state alone, there was an abortion almost every 21 minutes in 2002; 25,249 in all! Read the stats for yourself HERE. Stunning!

When we look at what our laws really call illegal in these instances, we should easily be able to see the hypocrisy. On one hand, a man sits in jail for violent murder with a gun. On the other, a woman receives a violent medical treatment. In both cases the end result is murder. Unless of course, unborn babies are not babies. (See Psalms 139:13 for God's perspective of when life begins.) So which is it? I know, it's a debate that has been taken up since 1973. The truth is there are no winners in abortion or murder.

So how did we get in this mess? A court in Texas decided for Roe in the controversial Roe vs. Wade case on January 22, 1973. (Which ironically is the same day of the month my daughter was born.) We have called the then, young woman Roe for so long most of us have never seen her face or know her name. Her real name is Norma McCorvey ("Jane Roe") . I believe in she is 59 now. You may read her story and see her picture HERE (she is also pictured above at her baptism).

Now, let's ratchet up our total amazement of Roe vs. Wade. Ms. McCorvey became a born again Christian and tried to have the judgment reversed saying, she had a "change of heart," yet the court would not accept the case! Why? Because the case has been the precedent in which 50 states and the US Supreme Court have made other judgments. It would have been a house of cards for every court in every state in the US!

And here is what I find most intriguing in a spiritual sense. Two times in Biblical history we see that in order to keep the Jews from proliferating as a people; the bringers of salvation... once in the Old and once in the New Testament, Pharaoh's and Kings ruled that every baby should be put to death. In the time of Moses God preserved him, a Jew. In the time of Jesus, the King decreed the same in hopes of killing the King of the Jews before he could mature. We know that he failed in his mission. I see the parallel, don't' you?

So, here is one more stunning facet to this story. One of the reason that Ms. McCorvey was not taken all that seriously was that she had changed her mind since she became a Christian. No one said that in her official court papers, but the sentiment was heard around the country. She was called a religious nut, a kooky born again Christian. I find it sad that woman became much more of what God intended her to be and others regarded her as the same radical young woman that she was in 1973. Sad, very sad.

The good news? Jesus changes people... sometimes quickly and some times slowly. Thank God for that!

The Science of Theory - Evolution

I heard on the radio that there was a new study that showed the relatives of of Fred and Wilma's pet Dino, did not produce any known evolutionary predecessors. I just have to say "WELL DUH!" As a Christian I believe in creation, however; it doesn't need to be taken on blind faith. It is a fact that Darwin himself was not convinced that his theory was in any way accurate.

The new study went on to say it appears that only mammals after the age of Dino may have produced some of the variations in species that are with us now. They just won't give up their theory because it has not yet been disproved. It is a fact, that it also has in no way been proved. However; the "transitional" species in my view are just another species. If they weren't, why can't we simply unearth a few more transitional species to complete the chain? After all, we have some 65 million years of evolution right under our feet, don't we? Every mutation should be in the fossil record.

Here is a classic example of the Darwin's theory gone awry. The ceolocanth; extraordinarily unique in the animal kingdom-- its fossil remains shrouded in popular imagination (Darwin's Theory), the 400 million year old "living fossil"was the classic "missing link". The probelm with the scientific date? The ceolocanth was "discovered" alive and well in 1938!

Pardon me for my drub of these so called scientists while I continue to sing my melody-less dirge. I would like to agree that something here might make sense to the searching of the human mind and spirit. I thought the fruit fly experiments in high school and the study of Schleiden & Schwann would be enough to convince me. I guess what I find most amazing is that the debate never includes a supernatural God. It only includes facts and theoretical facts; an oxymoron, which in turn, produces the entire conundrum in the first place. If God is not supernatural, then there isn't a God. How could there be? If there is a God, why can't He make 2 million plus species not including ones that are extinct? Honestly, how are they ever going to make the fossil record support this theory? There would need to be hundreds, if not thousands of fossil species. Without cloning and genetic engineering, I can't see how this could have happened by chance... much less starting with the dust of the earth!

Let's face it, Biblical Christianity is under attack. And possibly for good reason. We have not been taught much in the way of scientific thinking to support our beloved, "God said it, I believe it, theology." For sure there are some things that are not easily explained, this just isn't one of them.

So, you think God is a theory? Then tell me where the end of the universe is. When you have that down, then tell me what's on the other side of the end? It doesn't necessarily prove that He exists, but it is a good start. As a Christian I have to take a stand. I think the blogger JAlex137 said it just the way I would.

"I reject evolution because it opposes both the direct teaching of the Bible on origins, and because it undercuts the foundation of Christianity, that one man (Adam) brought sin into the world, and death by sin, and one Man (Jesus Christ) has conquered sin and death (Romans 5:12-19). Evolution proposes many years of death, disease, suffering and bloodshed before anyone who could remotely pass for Adam came on the scene. And God called all this "very good"? There is no need to atone for that which is very good.

Secondarily, I reject the notion that evolution is established fact. Let's face it, it's not empirical science, it's forensic science. If I accept the Bible explanation of our origins for my starting assumptions, I can develop an origins model as consistent with, if not more consistent with, empirical science than the evolution model which has different, equally untestable starting assumptions."

For an ridiculous but opposing view click HERE.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Different Views - Same Old Story

I am a big fan of free speech, that is why I get to write the blog without censorship. I saw a newscast about some students in CT that wanted to put on a pro-peace play at their school. The topic was to intense and they got shut down. The kids wanted to present a play expressing their desire for peace in Iraq. They were actually going to use the actual words of Iraq War veterans. Facts whether they sustain my personal view or not, are facts. I like that.

My opinion is this: I don't think it is fair, but in a sense it may be. Here is why. Because of the separation of church and state, there is almost no free Christian speech in public schools around the country. You can wear vulgar t-shirts as long as they don't say Jesus. I think it is a bit of poetic justice that these pro-peace folks have suffered the same censorship that most Christian kids in public schools have.

I have to ask the question, why is the gulf so big? It seems to me that when I was kid, the left and right were closer together. It seemed that the church was a viable part of the community. Even during the short period after 9-11, it seemed that the spirit of patriotism was strong... "one not seen since Pearl Harbor."

Today none of that seems true. The fact that the war is not over has outraged many Americans; about 70%. I don't really think that is the reason. I think the shift in society has come from tossing God to curb for the most part. We are told that we can't legislate morals. So, what can we legislate? If nudity on TV was illegal some years ago, and it still is, then why does it keep showing up on TV? Someone is allowing it. If truth and morality are different for everyone, then I suppose no one will be pleased. It like my math teacher told us, "when you average a set of numbers, it is entirely possible that no number in the set will be the same as the average." I think that is what is in play here in America. When there is no standard for morality, such as the Bible, we will average the ideas of millions... and it is entirely possible that no one agenda will be met.

What is difficult is that where some folks think that a certain behavior should be legal, another doesn't. All we can do is rally our supporters to see things our way. When we have a standard, we can use that to measure things. For those who don't want to measure up, there are other countries. I know it sounds a little harsh, but it's true. Israel as a country never allowed in any foreigners to become "converts."For that reason they have been around as a nationality and a religion for about 6,000 years. They, as a people have suffered extensively during different periods of world history. It doesn't mean that they did not extend kindness to foreigners, they simply didn't let them run the country. They didn't let them make the laws and they didn't allow other religions to be practiced by their citizens.

So why the gulf? Because opposing views have nothing to measure their morality by. They are now, never taught it. As Christians we do a standard, but more importantly we have a Gospel.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A New Song

As I practice my electric guitar... usually worship songs, I think about how music fits into the the Kingdom of God. I have been playing for 30+ years and I still play at church from time to time. I have to say I am shocked by denominations that think music is sinful and shouldn't be allowed in church. Don't get me wrong, I think there are lots of secular songs and a few hymns that don't belong anywhere near church, but real worship songs? How did we get there?

FYI - There are 34 verses in the NIV Bible that directly reference the word music. There are 47 references song, 153 referencing worship, and I am betting that a good number of those include music. There are 30 for the harp and 5 for the tambourine. And you can look up any other ancient instrument and probably find a few verses for those too.

Getting past my shock, I have been a part of all kinds of church music from playing three story cathedral pipe organs, choirs to plain chant and even rap that brought hundreds to the alter for salvation. Having participated in folk masses and near rock concerts I can't imagine church without music.

There was the time that a I heard a 50 piece orchestra and 100 voice choir sing "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him" and I weep just thinking about all those hands outstretched towards a plastic Jesus in a manger. Wow! There was the time the I first heard "Our God Is An Awesome God" and the fear of God was in the room; my knees were shaking. There were other times too, when I heard contemporary worship, like "Let It Rain" played by the Mike Smith Band in Norway while the heavens opened. There are lots of other encounters while I was just listening to a CD, or picking my way thought a chord sheet where God touched me. I think it is called anointing. Why does God use the vehicle for His presence? As a hack musician I don't think that God only speaks to me because I like music. No, I think it is part of the Christian culture.

Wherever you are with music, whether you can carry a tune in a bucket or not, if you have been in a church, you have probably experienced music. This leads me to my next thoughts... what is a new song as described in scripture? There are 9 references to it; 6 in Psalms, 1 in Isaiah and 2 in Revelation. 5 of the Psalms passages say "sing to Him a new song." 1 says "He put a new song in our mouth." The Revelation verses, although in the future (unless I missed that rapture), are in the past tense in the presence of the throne of God.

So here is my analysis or exegesis of this concept. Music is staple of praise and worship to, and of Jesus. When we praise God we give Him "worth-ship" which is really where we get the word worship. It is because He has done great things, and because He is good. It because we have tasted His glory and also because we love Him. But what is the reason for a new song, it is because the old one is boring?

If music is praise, how does it fit into that which God wants us to experience? Paul said that we should praise without ceasing and also pray without ceasing. One can do both at once, or can we? I am believer that the spirit of God in us can do a lot that our natural body cannot. As the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate through us, a vessel, so does the communion of God; spirit to Spirit. It is here that the new song is birthed by His spirit in us. He can give us utterance as He sees fit. Here is an example. Someone that I am very close to was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a retreat. The most common responses to this "event" are speaking tongues, prophesying and in some cases falling out. This time, however; the person began to sing in wonderful and glorious "musical" syllables. This was not just a new song that He put in her mouth, but a spontaneous one.

The new song is much more then just another song. It comes with anointing, worship and praise mingled together to produce something that is edifying to our spirit and pleasing to our God. In some cases a gifted "psalmist" will actually bring heaven to us where we participate in adoration around the throne. But the new song, is birthed in our spirit. It isn't always something that we haven't heard before. In fact, it just might be the way that we sing it "this" time. The new song is a connection to God. As we worship, we are connected to the kingdom of heaven.

History Makers and Museum Keepers

In the book of 1 John the writer testifies to what he has seen the Lord do. I often refer to that verse when naysayers tell me how God, doesn't exist, how He can't do this or that. Funny how they'll go to a psychic or read a horoscope and then claim there is no supernatural God...but that is another story. I testify to what I have seen God do. Paul said, "let me boast about God, not about myself." That's what I like to do, boast about Jesus.

When I think back on my life, I see the places where He has intervened and also where He has changed me. These are things that are not open to debate. Really, I am alive after doings lots of things that could have easily killed me. But more then that, there are the healings that I have witnessed, the people getting out of wheel chairs, recovering from terminal illnesses and even having migraine headaches stop. There are the time when the unmistakable voice gave me amazing advice; the kind that takes your breath away.

Oh sure, there are fakes and frauds out there; Christan hyperbole and downright pathetic displays in the name of Jesus. Even with all of that in the world, it doesn't change who God is one bit. He wants to speak to us and have us love Him like He loves us. He desires to be with us in all of it; the good and the bad times. He says that he will meet our little bit of faith with action. He desires to be there for us. So how does it all get so screwed up? Well, here is my theory. There are those that really believe and those that think they believe. For the ones that believe, Christianity is dead serious. For ones that think they do, they set in motion the things that they think God wants them or others to do. Some of it may be well intentioned and some of it may in fact be good. The principles of giving, feeding the poor and loving work for anyone. The question is do you believe in God and have a relationship with Him? Or is it with your church, your Bible or your friends that do believe?

Now, all of that said, the question of why people suffer here on earth remains. The answer is this. There is sin in the world, there is a devil and there are evil people. God is light, and where there is light there is no darkness. I know that sounds like a lot of religious rhetoric, but it simply means that the light casts out the darkness... where the light is wanted. Where it is not wanted, it is dark, very dark.

Then there is always that question, why doesn't God do this good thing and that good thing? Well, God is A, sovereign, B, He does it His way and C, He is NOT looking at this life quite the same way we are. No, He is looking at all of eternity as a slate to write on our souls.

So, what can we expect from God? Good question. I think it is for Him to pursue us unto the ends of the earth... but probably He is not going to show up on TV or while we are busy doing lots of other things; although it is possible. No, He'll show up in some places where He is least expected, but most hoped for. It really isn't a mystery, if we play by the rules, we'll see God at work. Honest, I have seen it. And you can take the word "good" out of your vocabulary. God didn't come to make bad people good, for no one is good according to God. No, He came to make dead people live; live forever.... but it all starts whenever you believe. God is not concerned about what is in your museum, no, He is concerned about how you spend the rest of history and eternity.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Holy Smoke...

Everyone that I know, whether Christian on non-Christian, seems to be in a bit of a different place. I guess I would call it levels of faith. I have a friend that is, after 30 or 40 years, finally quit smoking. He is 6 days into it and seems to be going for the gold. I know others that have tried for years and still have not kicked the habit. I don't think there is any use debating if smoking is Godly or not. At the very least it is almost always fatal. I guess that I don't see how God would actually condone this behavior as "good for us." But I am not God.

For many, as they look at God's ability... God's power to change something in a human, the debate gets fired up. All the questions that have ever been asked about faith rise to the surface. Does God help us, or does God do it for us? Do we keep trying or just wait for Him? Do we hang on or let go? Have we sinned, so now God won't do anything for us?

I am convinced that God is a bit bigger then any trite answer we might have to those questions. I do see that God's character seems to bring a broader understanding of His intentions towards mankind. As we see Him in character, we see what He is doing. Jesus said, I do what I see the Father doing. So what does the Father do?

The Father is called that because He fathers us. He is a perfect father... a blend of loving kindness, patience, discipline and pure joy in His children. He is not a father that has, or will abandon us. He is not one to be angry for no reason; no not one to belittle or berate His beloved creation. He is a father that waits for us to tell Him what we have done wrong before someone else does.

As the father of a 3-year-old, I think God is a little like me... and most other dads that I know. He is proud of our small accomplishments. He cares that we don't cross the street without looking both ways and he can't wait to spend time together; just the two of us. He is certainly and rightfully upset at bad behavior and applauds repentance. He looks forward more to who we will become then what we will do. Yeah, He is a great father who loves us in spite of what we have done wrong, whatever that might be.

I guess some days I don't find faith for big miracles and sometimes I see more judgement then mercy or grace. I wonder why that is? Good fathers aren't like that. God desires to give us good gifts, ones that won't hurt us.

And when it comes to smoking, in spite of who I have been, I haven't had a cigarette since April 1994. You see God is a good dad, and when I asked Him after 20 years, He took it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pig Fish - The New Red Meat

My wife and I were joking recently about bending the rules. She had inadvertently made herself a ham sandwich for lunch on Friday during lent. For her, being raised in the Catholic church, she enjoys participating in Lenten fasting in which everything but fish is not permissible for consumption on Fridays. I quickly Googled "pig fish" and found the following link. PIG FISH As if some how ham could ever be legal on a Lenten Friday!

Most churches have lots of rules. Actually every religion seems to have a set of rules. Rules are not bad or good in themselves. Biblically rules were described in two ways, those mandated by God; laws, and those mandated by men; customs. Godly laws were created to show what is right and what is wrong. More so, they highlight our inability to do them perfectly. There is no one that has ever obeyed God's laws perfectly except Jesus. Thus the whole reason for grace and salvation through Jesus.

That part that makes me chuckle is the customs. Customs tend to identify the way a certain group of Christians worship. It allows their expression to be the same in many places. It is sometimes called a liturgy. Having grown up in the Episcopal church as a believer, we had lots of customs. I actually liked some of them. They made me feel closer to God. There were others though, that honestly seemed kind of funny to me.

I remember the first time I took my decidedly protestant kids to a Catholic wedding. One pulled out the missal and proclaimed, "there is no book of John in here." The other one cackled on about what the kneelers were for as it unfolded onto the Spanish tile with a crash. They were defiantly outside their realm in terms of customs. Even those sitting closest to us giggled when the little one asked why the pastor was wearing a dress and carrying smoke?

The important thing to see here is that customs and laws apart from the Spirit of God are really killers. If your customs don't bring you closer to God and the laws never cause you to repent, then something is really really wrong. Being good isn't what God is after. He is after a relationship with you and me. I hear the phrase so-and-so is a "good person." What the hell does that mean, they haven't killed anyone? How good is good? At what point are you bad? What is the criteria for being bad anyway? I know some Christians that think you can lose your salvation? How? The eternal God gives us eternal life. So at what point are we kicked out of eternity? Which sin is it that blows it for us? How much is Murder 1 worth in comparison to say, shoplifting? Do we get good and bad points for sinning and not sinning? I think not.

There is a story in the Bible about some pig herders. When Jesus casts the demons out of a man, they went into the pigs which drowned themselves in the lake. The Jews had a law about even touching pigs. What were they doing breaking the law herding pigs? I believe that they were trying to make a living as farmers. Eating is not a bad thing. However; this was illegal for a Jew at that time. There was not way around it. I think the illustration of how the demons chose the pigs was a great way to say that this wasn't God's way for these folks to provide for them and their families.

The moral of the story is that is this, laws are hard to keep and that's why we need Jesus to forgives us. And no, this is not how Pig Fish evolved!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Can I Call Myself a Christian?

Today I think I've just had it with global stupidity. Having driven in 42 US states and 13 countries I think I am qualified to make some observations. And, I have taken driver's education in two states, the Post Office Driver Training Course, Skip Barber Race Driving School and also was trained to drive an ambulance. Here is one of my observations. Boston is the epicenter for absurd traffic signage, lights and some of the worlds worst drivers. It is not enough that Framingham has green lights with no left arrow... I know, that doesn't make sense, lots of intersections don't have traffic lights with left arrows. But are they as ingenious as this? The oncoming drivers sit at a red light which only long time residents know about. Yes, they sit there for 40 or 60 seconds staring at you from across the intersection, while you wait at a green light to make a left turn, supposing that you'll get slammed if you cross traffic. It's amazing that you are unaware that they can't proceed.. nothing a little green arrow count' solve. I have found 3 of these wonders complete with horn-blowing local drivers behind me. I guess they are just to far from civilization to have a left green arrow.

Here is another engineering marvel. Today I waited to take a left turn in the "left only" lane at Shopper's World. After I turned left there was a loading dock to my right (a dead end) and I took another left and a few hundred feet down where I wanted to take a right, there was a one way sign point left. So I turned left which brought me back to the road I originally took a left on. I did have a choice to go right, but that would bring me back to the highway half way home. So I turned left only to end up in the left only lane where I started. Had I not been a jerk and just went straight, I might have been found out there sometime tomorrow. I just want to know how much that idiot that engineered that got paid? Possibly it was committee that secretly opposed to the right.

I am not sure if it gets worse where right hand curves on the interstate are banked to the left instead of leaning in to the curve. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is easier to navigate then 91-S in Springfield, MA.

Another favorite was the street sign in Worcester that was so close to a building the you could not see it until you were passed it. There are a few of these brilliant sign placements in Worcester. Downtown Boston is worse. For 21 years I have lived within an hour of Boston and only met one person (my wife) that actually knows the names of the streets and can navigate them. I can't tell you how many times I have been with experts trying to read signs saying, "I know it's around here somewhere."

Add to that mess, some of the world's worst drivers. I am getting a dash-cam just to record the license plates of jerks that don't use directional signals, talk on the phone without a headset while weaving to and fro across the lane lines... and follow too close. 128 is a staging area for the idiotic. I wish I had time to put all the infractions up on Plate Wire where you can see a listing of the Jerk d' Jour in your state.

So how is it that I can call myself a Christian anyway; having these feeling of rage? It is a thing called grace, the free gift of forgiveness I received though Jesus Christ. We are not Christians because of what we know. I am not a man because I studied for the test. You can't be a Christian because of what is in your brain. You can' t be a Christian because you have been to church. Otherwise I would be a citizen of 13 countries and 42 states. Nope, it is a relationship with a living God that makes it all possible no matter how the signs seems to be hidden.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Global Freezing... Record Lows!

Well, when I got up this morning it was almost zero degrees Fahrenheit. Ah yes, thank God for Global Warming... otherwise it might be what, 20 below zero?!? Where the heck is Al Gore now anyway? Probably standing in front to his thermostat saying, "I just don't get it." I wonder what will happen to his Oscar at subzero temperatures?

I have a friend with a weather blog and he explains what it happening in the atmosphere from day to day. Yes, in January we did have record highs where I live. And, now we are having records lows. I assume the polar ice caps are increasing in size and the median tide is not a threat to NYC quite yet? I don't know. What I do know is that the ice age ended with, umm... you guessed it: Global Warming! Aren't you glad it's over and the woolly mammoths are not shopping for foul-weather gear at the local mall? I am.

Here is something else that I have been pondering; something that I will likely use in my documentary exposing "junk science" and stupidity. In truth I do believe that we are going to have global warming. Why? Well not because Al Gore's pet theory seems to be unfolding... no, I think the hand of the Lord will have something to do with it.

Revelation 16:7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments." 8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. 9 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds. 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.

Revelation 9:1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

Monday, March 5, 2007

In The Wings

I guess life is partisan. Really, the left and the right both seem to be taking turns at taking center stage preforming characterless atrocities. There is more mudslinging then a monster truck rally.

Again, I am always amazed at what the Christian's are saying. Belittling others, saved or not is not becoming; particularly on national TV. Yes, Jesus made strong statements about those who would not do it God's way. But he didn't do it until he had offered them Heaven's best in terms of wisdom, healing and forgiveness.

It has been my experience that God deals with people when He and they are ready. There is certainly a lot of judgement and little grace these days. Paul talked a lot about grace in Romans. He said that God came for us while we sere still in sin... that He would use everything both good and bad in our lives if we would just love Him. How is it that we need to present Jesus so that others fall in love with Him? Jesus said that we shouldn't judge, but the the Spirit would judge all things. Seems pretty simple, don't judge and teach others to love God... and let God do the work.

Politics? There is no place for cat calling and mudslinging. Yes, sometimes we need to tell it like is, but can't we do it with love... once we have shown Heaven's best?
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