Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Best of Fire and Grace 2010

As we spend the final days of 2010 here are my 12 most popular posts for 2010.

January: A Seed is Planted - No More Church As Usual - the beginning of my quest for a more meaningful and vibrant church!

February: Who Gets to Go to Heaven? - Some times we get tangled up in who is good and who is bad. That is not the point at all!

March: Sexual Services, Unions and Health Care - Where Do You Draw the Line? - Just read it! The title says it all.

April: They Are Going to Tax the Rich - what the new health care bill really means beyond all the rhetoric and finger pointing.

May: Don't Touch That Dial - thoughts on rewriting history while omitting the facts.

June: Everybody Thinks They're Right - every Christian thinks they are 100% right, are you one of them?

July: 5 1/2 Things I Don't Think I Need to Hear in Church Again as Long as I Live - the lighter side of common clichés in evangelical preaching.

August: 5 1/2 Ways to be Relevant - in the search for more entertaining church services is it possible we've lost sight of Jesus?

September: Do You Really Need a Miracle? - Do You Even Believe in Them? - how come we continue to deny good character in the decision making process, while balancing that against the supernatural power of God to transform our lives.

October: 10 More Hot Button Church Issues! (Rated With Devils!) - some things that make church a little more dramatic than it needs to be!

November: Gold Dust - God's Glory Manifest - the manifest power of God, where do you stand?

December: My New Mini-Book - the latest revision of my new mini-book!

Did you have a favorite Fire and Grace blog this year? Tell me which one.

See you in 2011! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Reviewed in Bumper Stickers - There's No Better Way to Say It!

I thought I would take a ride back in time and look at 2010 according to some popular bumper stickers. It's been an interesting year environmentally, economically, politically and for our celebrities.

Here's a walk down memory lane 2010.

January 19, 2010, Scott Brown Breaks a Democratic Stronghold in Massachusetts, and the Senate.

Michelle Obama Kicks off Her Fight Against Childhood Obesity February 20th.

Joe Biden Drops the F-Bomb Adding Class to the White House on March 23rd.

Gulf Oil Spill started April 20th.

Jan Brewer Signed Arizona's Immigration Bill into Law on April 23rd.

Times Square Terror Attack Averted May 1st:

Lindsay Lohan Arrested June 9th.

NY Mosque Debate Begins in July and Hits the Streets in August.

Tiger Woods got Divorced on August 23. 

Christine O'Donnell runs for Delaware Senate Seat and Her Wicca Video Breaks in Sept.

Obama proclaims the Democratic shellacking on November 3rd.

Bernie Madoff's Son Commits Suicide December 11th.

All bumper stickers from 

And that is a wrap for 2010.

How about you, how was 2010?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Geek Toy Stocking Stuffers

Well, this is it! The last day to grab something for the stockings - and it's time for the men to start shopping. :)

I wish you all a Merry Christmas! Here are my last few suggestions if you still have time to get out there and shop.

Batteries: C'mon now, everything you bought and are going to receive probably needs batteries. The most popular size are AA, and AAA.

USB Cable: If it isn't powered by batteries, than it probably plugs into the the USB port on your PC.

USB Hub: If you bought a boatload of the USB gadgets I recommended, then a USB hub is a good idea. You can daisy-chain them, and easily have quite a few devices.

Printer Paper: Photos, Christmas cards, package labels - it all needs paper!

SD Cards: Most cameras, cell phones and video cameras take an SD card. They are pretty cheap, just $12.99 from Best Buy for a 4GB.

Chap-Stick: Baby its cold outside and dry too. I love to get these in my stocking - but I do prefer Blistex.

Time in Prayer: It is really hard to take a few minutes to reflect on the season, but hey, it's going to be over tomorrow. How about grabbing a few minutes with the Lord to thank for what you do have, and maybe be thankful for some of the things that you don't have while you are down there on your knees.

Have a blessed Christmas! And remember that Jesus is reason for the season, nothing else.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Fun - Some of My Favorites

Well, Christmas is almost here and I thought I would share a little of our seasonal celebration. We mostly had a good time with the pre-celebration stuff. Our youngest is starting to get a bit of her mother's sense of humor.

This is Charlotte when she discovered that the baby Jesus was not in the crèche scene.

"Where is baby Jesus?" she asked her mother.

"He won't be there until Christmas." She replied.

"Then why is everyone else here?" She fired back.

And that what it's been like...

The following shot is entitled: Too Loud

I am still working this week, but we have still managed to fit in a few fun things.

This is me and the little redhead.

We had a nice time on the buggy ride because there was not enough snow for a sleigh ride.

This is her and her mom!

This is LINK is mty favorite Christmas Song: Mary Did You Know.

And the following is my favorite Christmas Carol.

How about you, do you have some Christmas favorites?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The C Word - And Why My Kid Doesn't Have Pink Mittens

Well the Christmas season is in full swing. And even if the use of the word Christmas is politically incorrect, I am still enjoying a lot of it.

Here at Fire and Grace, this is my 495th blog, the start of my 5th year behind the keyboard, and truthfully I am not feeling inspired to write about Christmas again. I have written about it a few times before. One of my very first blogs in 2006 was a Christmas Rant about the usage of Merry Christmas in public - shallow.

Recently I wrote about the 5 things I enjoy about Christmas including some traditions that have nothing to do with Jesus - I know, virtually pagan. Yes sir, in 2009 I was on fire and I wrote about the 5 reasons Christians hate Christmas - and I sarcastically defended it legally! I wrote about reindeer games and things that make Christmas fun - and in 2008 I was sentimental about Christmas, pouring my heart out about the real meaning of Christmas.

Then there was the one I wrote about one of the most powerful Christmas service I have ever been at; it still brings a flood of emotion. I tried to lighten it up Christmas by writing about re-gifting and I also tried to make it more spiritual by writing about the spiritual gifts.

I believe I have covered Christmas pretty well.

This year I intended to go shopping with a good attitude. My first time out I had a fight over a parking space; sitting there my signal on while some snake, who was obviously not a Christian, pulled in nearly taking my bumper off. An hour later my credit card was shut down cutting short my excursion by a few stops. I went home and got that taken care of, and set out on shopping trip numero dos a few days later. I skated through Best Buy picking up a gift that I had ordered online; saying Merry Christmas to the girl wearing a cross. I thought I would avoid the crowd at the mall; and an hour in traffic, and see what was in store at Wal*Mart.

Charlotte and I went and shopped for her grandparents, and my wife had asked me to pick up some winter clothes for her because we are supposed to have a storm coming. This kid eats virtually nothing, while outgrowing clothes at light speed. We have already returned the clothes we got her for Christmas because she outgrew them.

Insert sound of screeching brakes, shattering glass, and smashing cars - just a sound effect of course.

We were doing pretty well until we got to the toll booth during rush hour - err... I mean the registers. 4 open, each with about 16 or more folks in line. OK, I am here with the little one, it's Christmas and she thoughtfully picked out the gifts - well, with the threat of going home if she asked for one more thing for herself! I found a pair of mittens and a hat that fit (without Dora the Explorer for half the price!). We'll tough it out, it's Christmas, right?

We struck up a conversation with a woman ahead of us in line. She had a cart full of toys. It turns out she has a daughter the same age as Charlotte, so she put on her connoisseurs cap and rated each one for free. There was a boy toy in the cart, which she flatly rejected. The woman laughed saying it was for her nephew not her daughter.

Meanwhile in the register cave, Register Boy was moving along at a bureaucratic pace. You can see where this going.... Charlotte started to whine, sit on the floor, roll her eyes and play with everything breakable on the shelf next to us. The giant TV is playing some video with the tune It's Begging to Look a Lot Like Christmas. The woman 5 or 6 ahead of us needs a dang price check. Register Boy starts this passive aggressive thing, mumbling under his breath and walking away from the register pretending to look for a manger, holing his hand above his brow like Captain Hook. The woman cancelled her order and walked away leaving her cart right there. The customer in line behind her pushed it to the side and the line started to move again like a scene from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times. Down to 3rd in line - so exciting after 30 minutes of this.

Then Register Boy couldn't find the UPC code on some item. The woman in line grabbed it out of his hands an scanned it herself. BEEP! "I am done," she in a sort of annoyed tone.

Just 2 left! It's are turn now, PTL.

Beep, Beep, our stuff is being scanned! B-Deep! What? Register Boy is trying to scan the hang tag on the pink mittens. There really is no UPC code on the mittens! "Can you just put them through?" I asked.

"I'll need to get a manger," said our friendly cashier. (I thought I heard the guy in line behind me threaten to kill someone, but it wasn't loud enough for me to hear.)

"I don't want them, then." I said.

BUT DAD! Those are my favorite pink mittens!, Charlotte whined and sat on the floor.

"I don't want them." I said.

"BUT DAD! Mommy is going to get you in trouble," Charlotte said.

"I DON'T want them." I said. "I would just like to ring out and leave."

"Everyone is so short tonight." said Register Boy.

"Well, we've been in line for long enough to get on Space Mountain." I replied in as sweet a voice as I could muster.

"I don't know what the problem is," said Register Boy.

"Frankly, they need more cashiers, and you are very slow. Try to have a Merry Christmas."

I can believe I said it!?!?!

I drove home, Charlotte was upset about the mittens, and I almost cursed Christmas.

I walked in the door defeated.

"No honey, I didn't get the mittens."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Geek Giving When You Already Have Everything

I am hoping that with my help, your Christmas Shopping is completed. There are only 8 more shopping days left [Countdown HERE]. And next Friday I'll be wrapping this up with Geeky Stocking Stuffers.

This week I am going to make a list of geeky charities and free things that you can invest in instead of buying more glowing electric powered gadgets. As Christians, maybe we can take a few minutes and think about someone else. I don't know about you, but if you have running water, the power is still turned on, and there is food to put on the table, you are doing better than a lot of folks. If you have a few gifts to give, you are truly blessed.

This is my friend Dennis. We have known each other since the 70's. He's got a cushy job as a CEO, but he loves the Lord and cares about the poor  and homeless - maybe more than anyone I know.

Many Christians look towards the poor at this time of year. There are so many folks that are without right here in the US. Personally I am looking at needs. What gift could I give that would be a blessing? Is it time, is it money, is it food, is it love?

Here are my Top 12 suggestions.

-1 Soup Kitchen: They seem to be in every major community. There are local rescue missions, and large organization such as the Salvation Army. Just Google "soup kitchen" + your zip code.

-2 Gifts for Kids Whose Parents are in Jail: A largely forgotten group is the children of inmates. My favorite is  Chuck Colson's Angel Tree.

-3 Gifts for Kids with Cancer: You can send gifts and cards to kids in your local hospital or find addresses on Facebook. Or donate your hair to Locks of Love.

-4 Visit a Veteran: Did you know that just about everyday a World War II, or Vietnam War vet dies? They quietly slip away, taking with them their memories of times past. Some are shut in, others are just forgotten. They world love to have a coffee and tell you about Normandy, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and even the Gulf War. Call your local VFW and get some names, you'll be glad you did.

-5 Visit a Nursing Home: I don't know about you, but some of my favorite church ministry was going to visit with folks that are spending their last days in nursing home. Our group gave out small stuffed animals, played a few dozen Christmas carols, and did some listening.

-6 Donate Winter Clothing: Baby it's cold outside - even in Florida and Georgia! Next time you are Wal*Mart, grab an extra coat, a few pairs of mittens, winter socks and some woolen hats. There are lots of places to give. Our church delivered them to homeless shelters and to the Department of Youth Services in charge of kids in foster care.

-7 Toys for Poor Kids: Toy for Tots by the US Marines gets them quickly into the hands of needy kids. They are often just outside the doors of toy stores in many malls.

-8 Toys for Kids in Foster Care: Call you local Department of Youth Services or Department of Youth & Family Services. In most localities they'll have a few dozen kids. Although they can't give you names, they can take donations a they'll let you know age ranges and gender.

-9 Visit a Wounded Soldier: Just about every major US municipality has a VA Hospital or affiliate. Some wounded soldiers are many miles away from their family during the holidays. A visit, a card, or better yet purchasing plane tickets for loved one to visit is a great way to say thanks. You can find the closest ones HERE.

-10 Leave a Food Basket for a Family in Need: You must know someone that has lost a job and is living on unemployment. How about preparing a food basket and leaving at the front door. This is for those that can run. Ring the doorbell and take off. It is the most fun when it is anonymous. Or you can send a bank check with no return address. Even gift cards to the local supermarket.

-11 Invite Someone for Christmas Dinner: Making room at your table is a wonderful way to share the love of Jesus. After I was divorced and before I met Mary Anne, I shared both Thanksgiving and Christmas with folks from the church. My pastor even gave me a call on Christmas morning. It was firs time I had to wake up in an empty house. I was glad to have somewhere to go.

-12 Donate to a Family Trip for a Cancer Patient: I have a friend that has been battling cancer. He has had surgery, radiation, chemo, and IPPI treatments. His church is trying to raise funds to send him, his wife and his 4 children to Disney World the first week of January. If you'd like to be part of the blessing, let me know, and I will get you an address. 100% of your donation goes to the family.

So, maybe your Christmas shopping isn't done yet?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Living in the Kingdom is not Impersonating Jesus

I don't know about you, but there used to be places I "felt" more Christian. There were places it was not safe to use a little Christian-ese; like work. I wondered why it was that I felt filled up at church, and drained out at work and in between at home.

I was once one of the believers that thought God pretty much lived at church; only stepping out to fix some heathens.

There is another group that does stuff in the name of Jesus too. They have decided that Jesus would do x, y or z, and they act on it. Some days I think that anyone that feeds the poor, or gets someone else to do it appears to be a Christian.Is that it, just be nice and feed poor folks?

Another group has decided that Christians must act like this or that, follow these rules while overlooking those ones. Then you have the grace and freedom group where you can do pretty much anything you want as long as you have faith.

How can they all be right?

So much time is spent in debate, acting religious, finding fault with the other side, that we now have a pile of denominations, movements and labels. The newest one the sort of irks me is, "Jesus follower."

How do you know you are following Jesus? Are you just because you say you are?

Did you know that you can't follow Jesus by faith? There were lots of folks that had faith in Him while He was feeding the 5,000 men and their families, while he was rebuking the Pharisees and raising stinky corpses from the dead. Even Thomas was there for the Lazarus event. Our faith needs to be in that which is not seen, some actions we derived from reading the Bible.

We become children of God, not by following a teaching, but by having faith in the finished work of Christ. We can try to impersonate Jesus, but that is not salvation. In fact if we are truly going to act like Jesus and follow in his footsteps, then most of us need to make some changes. For example: we need to spit in the dirt and use it to heal the sick, we need to command the power of God that is able to knock down bunch of temple guards, and we'll need to feed at least 5.000 hungry men and their families with a few fish and some bread, just to name a few. That is what impersonators would do.

We are not called to do the exact things that Jesus did. If we are going to be like him, we must know what the Father is doing, and do it. That's the key. It is doing what the Father is doing, not impersonating Jesus. And because the sheep know his voice, they can hear the instructions from On High.

I just know too many Christians that don't know how to hear from God and many have never even been taught. In a way it is sad. You have all these folks that probably would do exactly what the Lord says, and because it takes regeneration, and is not always a logical path, it does't happen like we think it is going to.

Jesus even told us that the Kingdom was not just talk. He didn't say that the Kingdom was love either. John said that God is love. We are supposed to be out there doing what that Father is doing. What is that?

Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

You don't need any credit - 

John 5:13 
The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

The Kingdom of God is power, not talk.

Acts 28:8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.

Jesus had many parables about the Kingdom of God, the very one that he said "was at hand."

How about you, are you really living in the Kingdom of God?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Doctrine of Laying on of Hands

The writer of Hebrews (6:1) said that the doctrine of the laying on of hands was elementary. Have you been taught it? I will be doing a class in January and this will be part of the teaching.

It is interesting how certain facets of faith are simply overlooked. It is like James 5:14. There is a simple command to have the elders pray over someone who is sick and anoint them with oil, yet, rarely have I seen them gather together for this purpose.

Here is the basic doctrine:

Hebrews 6: 1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

The laying on of hands started with Jacob (Israel).

Genesis 48:14-15a Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph.

The laying on of hands takes place again when Moses passes his ministry on to Joshua. (Numbers 27:18-23)

The laying on of hands was also used to pronounce blessing on someone - to symbolically bestow on someone the blessing of God.

In the time of Jesus the first appearance of this practice he rebukes the disciples for trying to turn away the little children.

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Jesus continued the tradition of blessing people through the laying on of hands, but added the new purpose of divine healing.

Luke 4:40 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.

Jesus was pretty clear about the fact that we should continue in the practice.

Mark 16:17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The laying on of hands is also done to set others apart for the work of ministry – ordination:
Acts 6:6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

And finally the last purpose to the laying on of the hands is to impart the power or baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 19:6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

The doctrine of the Laying on of Hands is a doctrine (Hebrews 6:1-2) and a spiritual gift (Acts 8:20) that can be used for the following:

- Speak God’s blessings over people
- Ordination: to bestow an office or ministry
- To impart spiritual gifts (Romans 1:11)
- To Heal
- To receive the Holy Spirit

How about you, do you lay hands on folks for healing and blessing?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Geek Gifts for Couples

Today it's Friday and there are only 15 more shopping days till Christmas [COUNT DOWN HERE].

The past few Fridays I recommended biblically authorized geek Gifts for HimFor HerFor the Kids, a special selection of Black Friday gifts and Geek Gifts over $100. Remember, each Friday, from now until Rudolph and Santa clamor on your rooftop, I am going to suggest Geek Gifts. This week, it's couples.

I did get a kick out of the Target gifts for couples. On the list were slow cookers, an 8 pack of Memphis Solar Lights and the Office: Season 6 on DVD. Those sort of gifts make me soooo grateful for Mary Anne.
J/K! My wife and I say no thanks to that sort of boring stuff.

Don't worry, in spite of the fact that some of this Friday's gifts use batteries, there will be nothing like that. You can shop Frederick's of Hollywood on your own.

I also checked out and well. They had same sort of boring stuff. I did like the Dog Lessons for People Plaque, and Photo-Opoly which you can customize your game board with personal photos.

Finding geek gifts for couples is tough because most electronic devices are personal; selfish in fact. IE: Personal MP3 Player and personal computer. But yours truly has managed to find a few that should be appealing to both of you while you are in the same room.

Star Wars Light Sabers: Great for your next argument and far safer than handguns.

Luke 22:49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”

Laser Trip Wire: No coming home late without being recorded! Also good for sending off an alarm when the little one is coming down the hall at an inopportune times.

Isaiah 8:15 Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.

LED "Blow" On and Off Candles: Set the mood on fire, not the house!

Hebrews 9:2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.

Microwave Smores Maker: That's right, no campfire needed! Even if Hubby is a total geek, he can fire this up on behalf of both of you and you'll still be in bed in time for Law & Order.

Matthew 26:17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
Catapult: Some times old is still geeky. This model catapult can be used to pass the salt during a romantic dinner. It can also be a load of laughs loading it up with treat for the cat of the dog. Guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment on your next date night.

2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
Recycled Motherboard LED Christmas Tree: Better than a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Decorated with resisters, transistors and bright red LEDs, this printed circuit board Christmas Tree is sure to light up your studio apartment.

1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Here! - My Mini-Book on How the Church is Really Supposed to Work!

I have written many times about issues in the church, but today I want to offer some solutions for free! In return, I am simply asking you to give your feedback, and proof the text of my new book-let. It is just the first 8 chapters, but they are the best ones.

The original work was taken from Fire & Grace blog posts and run in by the Grammar Cop and a couple of trusted Christian friends that are close enough to say stuff like: "Chuck it", "Where's the Bible proof for that?" and "That's just your opinion." Now I am giving you your chance to weigh in.

Sure, if you really have read my blog you'll recognize a lot of it - but hey, it is now in a handy-dandy PDF file that you can pass around to your friends. If you print it out and don't like it, you can use it to start a fire, or as emergency toilet paper.

And even better, if you live in central New England, you can even come to attend my Friday night classes in January.

Many thanks to my family for letting me sit in front of the PC and to PS Daryl Nicolet and Steve Smith for your hours of time on this project!

If you are willing to provide feedback, then download Apostolic Reform - A Fresh Look at the 5-Fold Ministry right HERE.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gays, God and Grace

This is one of the toughest topics I have ever written on. I get a lump in my stomach just thinking about it. Why? It involves people with feelings and souls, and it divides the church. Hot button issues make for lots of comments on blogs, but that is not why I am writing about it. This issue can be so emotionally charged, that many times it is much more easily avoided. Count me as part of that group.

Some times issues come to confront us, and the folks from Westboro Baptist Church in KS showed up in my town last Friday to protest. You can read about it HERE. They picketed the high school because of a play that they were putting on about Matthew Shepherd.

Certainly there are lots of views on homosexuality within the church. HERE is a survey review. It ranges from the judgmental hating of the Westboro Baptist Church to the folks at Gay Christian 101. That is one of the biggest reasons that it is tough to write about - if we oppose homosexuality we are haters and bigots, and if embrace it we are liberals and unbiblical heretics.

Is there a better view? I think so.

I think there are some real problems with our general approach to the issue in Christendom. We focus on cultures and lifestyles, and paint things with a broad brush strokes which sets up a "for" or "against" atmosphere that does not allow any of us to be challenged, listened to, or understood. There are more than enough generalities tossed about to make a civil discussion virtually impossible, but I am going to try; using the utmost compassion and empathy.

Not Welcome, Not God
First, the notion that anyone is not welcome in a church is sure sign of error - especially the unsaved! In the Kingdom, folks come to Christ, and then they work out their salvation in fear and trembling. It is between them and God. No one comes to Christ because they are good enough, no sin is unforgivable (except not receiving Christ), and no Christian is without sin. When we treat one sin differently than another we are surly in trouble. When we treat certain people (anyone who is not like us) differently in church, or do not allow them into a service we are in error.

If Someone Isn't Sinning, Why Do They Have to Change?
Second, the notion someone must change who or what they are seems foreign to the church. When a person comes to Christ, we don't expect them to stop feeling like they did the day before they first believed. What we expect them to do is grab hold of Jesus and begin the process of sanctification. If a single person gets saved, after the transformation, they are still single and probably still feel single.

Most folks, even the ones that have radical salvation experiences are not perfected. Most of us receive Jesus, and with the experience, we may have a powerful change, but it is not all the change that we will experience in a lifetime of walking with Christ. Christians come out of many sinful lifestyles. For some, it takes many years to actually change. Some may actually never make it.

The idea that someone who is attracted to the same sex will simply stop, seems to be a very rare occurrence.

That said, there are two ministries led by men for whom that has happened: Clay McLean and Tim Wilkins.

I believe that the Bible is pretty clear that the only sex that is godly, is that which takes place between a husband and a wife; a male and a female that are married. After many many years, I am no longer willing to debate this. I just don't think that we can make sin not sin. I didn't write the book.

Do note:
- Jesus does not specifically mention same-sex behavior.
- The Jewish prophets did not specifically mention homosexuality.
- The Bible is only clear on the sexual act, not specifically the lifestyle.

Paul did have things to say to the Romans (chapter 1), and of course it is mention ed in the Old Testament too. My only point is that I just don't think that we need to hyper-focus on lifestyle; let's stick to sin and repentance.

Based on a lot of surveys, there is a lot of sex taking place outside of marriage even within the church along with adultery. As I previously stated, we have lots of work to do.

As Christians we don't think that we have the privilege of deciding whose sin is the worst - or worse, who is worthy of our love.

Sin and godliness will repel each other. One only needs to look around the church and see that there are lots of problems that require a few slaps upside the head. Holiness is the work of God, not of man, or his religious agents.

Can't we leave it at loving our neighbor as ourselves, and get on with preaching the Gospel, casting out demons, healing the sick and loving others with our gifts?

Before I go, I read some other blogs, and here is Charlie's thoughts on all this over at Nicodemus at Nite.

How about you, where do you stand, and why?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Culture Clash - Merry Christmas/Holiday Tree Muddle

Last night I went to the town hall for the annual tree lighting in my little suburb. The emcee decided to be politically correct and called it a "Holiday Tree." Then Santa showed up to say "Merry Christmas". Regardless, everyone cheered Santa that hypocrite!

Is it me, or is this just stupid? Am I missing something?

Christmas (for now) is still a national and state holiday here in Massachusetts. Even though I am not a fan of Santa Clause, he comes out of the Christian tradition - ummm, he is not Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist. The term Christmas is short for the Old English phrase: Cristes maesse (the Christ Mass); a traditional church holiday that has been around for a long long time (1038). And the truth is that it is celebrated by a lot of folks that could give reindeer's backside about Jesus the Christ.

The use of the word Christmas apparently is exclusive - well not inclusive of 100% the population. Yet Jesus the Christ never turned away anyone, nor did he ever stop preaching the Kingdom of God! I am not sure where Allah and Buddha stand in terms of inclusion, but I am guessing that you need to choose. Are you in, or are you out?

Looking at this logically, we have lots of words that are exclusive: male, female, carpenter, software geek, American, 5th-grader, homeless, and President; where each noun describes a subset of our society. All but one, I have been.

Our laws, although meant to protect the rights of all (inclusive), were never meant to be exclusive. Until recently, when we've had a real push for hate crimes legislation, murder was just murder. Now we have a variety of murder-s if it is motivated by the hate of a specific group. Are you kidding me? When was murder loving? And what's the difference if a man (mankind to be politically correct) takes the life of a suburban house wife or shoots a poor, homeless, disabled, black, homosexual, Greek, senior citizen from Chicago? Murder is murder and demands justice.

The same is true of Christmas. It simply describes the religious practice of a subset of the worlds citizens. Why we must wear the school uniform in all public places sounds a lot like Communist China after the WW II to me. I say join in the celebration if you like lights, trees and gifts - hell, even Santa Clause. But please don't limit my expression of who I am because it is not who you are - those are the seeds of racism, intolerance and genocide.

If the separation of church and state is so important, then outlaw the use of specific terms, holidays (IE: Christmas, Good Friday etc.) and anything that smacks of religion or faith. Maybe we can worship anti-depressants instead - I hear they are growing in popularity. But until then, give me a politically correct break, OK?

If we are all uniquely created or evolved, then what is does it matter that I am Christian and maybe you are not? When I speak, I sound like I am from New England, and you might sound like you grew up at Graceland, who really cares?

Jesus was exclusive, but he never stopped being who He was for the lost, the poor, the unsaved, the religious, the politically powerful or the those that desired to be included.

Think about it.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Geek Gifts Over $100 - These Are No Stocking Stuffers

Today it's Friday, and I don't want you being too cheap on Christmas! Today's selection is a little pricey but still biblically approved. There are only 22 days left to shop [COUNT DOWN HERE], so get going.

The past few Fridays I recommended biblically authorized geek Gifts for Him, For HerFor the Kids and a special selection of Black Friday gifts. Remember, each Friday, from now until you get kissed under the mistletoe, I am going to suggest Geek Gifts. Here is a few high quality ones.

USB Digital Microscope:  For the detail person that has either lost their vision from 20 hours per day in front of the PC, or wants to open up a microscopic world beyond that of natural vision.

Colossians 2:8 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that's not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

DNA Portrait: This is the perfect gift someone that isn't that good looking, but has relatives that want photos each year. It is a personal DNA profile not unlike the ones on CSI Miami; minus the Ray Bans and corny one-liners followed by a Who tune.

Isaiah 7:13 Relax, those two kings that have you so worried will be out of the picture.

Spy Camera: it's way too cool to omit. Practical purposes? I am not sure.

Galatians 2:4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

iPhone Remote Helicopter: Because there are just not enough apps for your iPhone. Here is a remote control copter for the Apple generation. So get out there and annoy your cube-mates, dive bomb that cat, and impress the grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 33:11 Bless all his skills, LORD, and be pleased with the work of his hands.

Sony Dash Internet Viewer: Why the Internet for the car? Because texting is illegal in many states, and besides it's hand-free!

Mark 1:18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Unto Us - The Truth About Christmas

Here we are just out of the starting gate racing towards the Christmas holiday. I have a number of years experience blogging about holidays, traditions (pagan and Christian), the Culture War in the US and the role of church in them.

There are things I like about Christmas which are simply tradition. There are those that are directly tied to the birth of Jesus. And the rest? Well, I just like it. I enjoy Christmas, and though I am not always spiritually tied to remembering something about Jesus, there is still something I love about Jesus' birthday that makes me meditate on my own need for a savior. It causes me to dwell on God's plan for me. In particular, the part in which this child born to us; who later died on the cross in place of a wretch like me. That gives me significance.

Here is my list of things that make Christmas, Christmas.

-1 Events: I have grown to love The Nutcracker, though I have only seen local productions with tapped music. Even so, the costumes and especially the mice always make me smile. I can't say I've fallen in love with a nutcracker, but I do enjoy the show because each ballet troupe hires a couple of extremely talented dancers for the major scenes. I believe quality in art is godly.

Each year we attend a spaghetti dinner at the Fatima Shrine Monastery to support their missions, and the community. They have beautifully lit grounds, and religious statues. Most years there is snow on the ground which makes it even more enjoyable. In particular there is a crucifix on a small hill which is captivating. A lot of Protestants only see the empty cross, and forget about the torturous sacrifice that Jesus made. There is also an altar in a glade with statues of sheep and other animals. It is a very peaceful and prayerful scene.

We used to take a trip to Boston's Faneuil Hall, but that has been replaced by a trek to Old Sturbridge Village. The historical museum is laid out like a 19th century New England Village. The roads and walkways are lit with candles. Each home or business offers period food, music, or gift making demonstrations. From sleigh rides to traditional Christmas carols in the church, to chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it is a simple and enjoyable experience.

-2 Gifts: I know it sounds materialistic, but I enjoy giving gifts. The sound of wrapping paper being torn amidst the fragrance of pine, and hot chocolate is joyful. The smiles of others who are receiving is another reason that I enjoy giving. It is a blessing.

I have to admit my pet peeve is the rip-fest where everyone opens gifts and there is no interaction with the giver and receiver - or the others in the room.

-3 Trimmings: There are lots of other things that go into a Christmas experience: Wreaths, trees, colored lights, food, candy canes, ribbon candy and cards - I enjoy it all.

-4 Family: I am grateful to be with my family and enjoy the time, the laughs, the exchange of a few gifts, and a meal together. Gone are the days when we would deliver home made bread to the neighbors, bake cookies.

-5 Church: In my Anglican days, I used to enjoy the midnight mass. The flowers, the music, the scriptures, and sometimes a pageant. I enjoy singing Christmas carols. The lyrics to some of them are astounding. In some ways I think we've lost some of the thoughtfulness and introspection through contemporary worship. (which I do love)

Honestly, most of the Christmas services I have gone to in recent years don't do a lot for me. There is nothing special about them. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything special about Jesus - and I don't know why that is.

-5 1/2: A Savior who was born!
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