Category Archives: Christian

Can we just stop hurting people who come to church to heal their hurts?

I don't own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I'm not making money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this image. I got it from http://mafietta.com. I’m not making money on it.

All over the blogosphere, and talking to people outside of church, I find people who have been hurt in the very place where they should’ve been helped.

Yikes!

Honestly, we look more like the Pharisees than Jesus, who ate with tax-collectors and stopped stone-throwing at prostitutes. Of course, the Bible points to a moral standard that must be upheld by the church, but many times it’s simply a pastor’s ego, a leader’s power trip, that offends.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea – Matt. 18:6 NIV.

I haven’t left the church. I wish and pray to see the church changed.

Richard Wurmbrand tells of being tortured for Christ

imagesOut of 14 years in jail under the Communists in Romania, I spent three years alone in a cell 30 feet below ground, never seeing sun, moon or stars, flowers or snow, never seeing another man except for the guards and interrogators who beat and tortured me.

I seldom heard a noise in that prison. The guards had felt-soled shoes, and I did not hear their approach.

images-1I had no Bible, or any other books. I had no paper on which to write my thoughts. The only things we were expected to write were statements accusing ourselves and others.

During that time I rarely slept at night. I slept in the daytime. Every night I passed the hours in spiritual exercises and prayer. Every night I composed a sermon and delivered it (to myself).

I had a faint hope that one day I might be released…

images-2To be in a solitary cell under the Communists or the Nazis is to reach the peak of suffering. The reactions of Christians who pas through such trials are something apart from everything else.

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Blogger’s Note: I stumbled across this book With God in Solitary Confinement, with the most unattractive cover, and discovered a gem we need to remember. God’s servants are suffering greatly around the world. They are an inspiration for us to live more whole-heartedly for the Lord. He died in 2001.

It’s pouring out!

Thanks Deviant Art for the stunning photo!

Your life is being poured out.

On what? Paul poured his life out for others… for something of eternal value. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you – Phil. 2:17 NIV.

Today many are pouring their lives out on the pursuit of material goods. Others on the pursuit of health. For partying. For sport. For pleasure. For enjoyment. Lives are constantly being poured out.

Each man chooses to pour out his life on what he esteems most valuable. The number of days are finite. Through improved health, we may extend our lives. Even so, it will eventually end. When you are done, what will your life have been poured out on?

Will it be something worthwhile? Nobody wants to think about the last drop. But wisdom is to think about it before we get there.

A wimpy gifting

Pastor Charles was talking about how each Christian has at least one gift from God, and how we all need to use our gift to help out in the church. As I was listening to the sermon, I realized I must have the gift of criticizing.

The church really needs someone to whip everyone into shape, so immediately after the service I marched off to let Sister Winnie know that as the cleaning lady for the church, she was doing a very poor job. I pointed out a certain area that she had left dusty and disorganized from Saturday.

She broke out in tears, but no matter. I went off quickly to tell Elder Eli that his Sunday School teaching was particularly boring and that he ought to add more jokes into it. I turned my back on him eager to continue using my gifting from God. I found Walter and told him his tie did not go with his pants. Timothy was right there listening, so I finally told him that the way he laughs annoys a lot of people in church, and that he should learn how to laugh like a normal human being.

He turned red with anger, but, hey, the truth hurts, right? I was looking for Sister Martha to tell her to stop judging others when my dad caught up with me and pulled me out to the car by my arm. He gave a big lecture about not hurting people’s feelings. But I told him that I was just exercising my gifting. He was pretty mad at me.

So, here I am, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Boy, just when you try to do something right, everyone doesn’t know how to appreciate you. Here’s what I say: A prophet is not without honor except in his own household.

Impact God

Aphrodite doted on Paris for his beauty. Zeus loved Hector for his courage. God is a glaring contrast to the chaos of the Greek pantheon. When He declares Himself “holy,” He is saying He is different. “I am NOT similar to false gods.”

So what does God like? He likes FAITH. From Abraham to Daniel, He gets excited about people who believe Him. The problem with the Israelites in the desert was NOT their whining so much as their lack of faith.

You won’t hardly find Jesus marveling over someone’s personal uprightness. Nor their “sound interpretation of scripture.” Nor their “acts of righteousness.” Over and over, Jesus admires just one thing: faith.

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. — Matt. 8:10 NIV.

Publicists teach how in marketing to impact. But what impacts God? Stand-out faith. He is drawn to it. He searches for it. He responds to it. He gets disgusted when He can’t find it.

In the verse above, a Roman gentile — despised by the Jews — garners the open admiration of the Jews’ Jew, Jesus. The gentile — supposedly an outsider to the business of God — earns higher marks than the insider, simply because of faith.

It’s easy to NOT believe. When you pray for finances for your ministry, stir yourself to stand-out faith.

Whadda we need missions for anyway??

I don’t see why we have to do missions. I mean, isn’t God in control of everything anyway? So He can take care of giving those people the gospel. I’ve learned He’s sovereign. That’s a big fancy word which means He does whatever He wants and nobody can stop him.

And while I’m wondering, why do we have to evangelize? People can see a Bible any time they want to. Even if they don’t have one at home, when they go to a hotel, they can always find a copy in the drawer. So it’s their problem if they don’t read it.

Our church just sent Pablo and Frieda to the foreign field, and I’m pretty sore. I’m going to miss them. Pablo was a young adult that I really liked, a cool guy who led youth group. He would always talk to me and be friendly. Who cares about the foreigners who don’t have Jesus? That’s their problem. This is not to mention all the money that will be spent over there. It’s a waste.

From a literature fanatic’s perspective

I loathe bad books. I drop them if the first paragraph is bad. On the other hand, I can re-read a good book seven times. I ponder it, extract its life’s lessons and determine to be a better person. I marvel at ambiguity, subtlety and irony, not infantile didacticism.

My 10th grade lit class just finished Heart of Darkness. The poor kids struggled through, but by the end, the light went on, and I hope they are better persons for it. The other grade read Ender’s Game, an easy book but also with some powerful truths. So far this year, the kids have studied Romeo & Juliet and Homer.

But there is one book whose literature remains unequaled. If Shakespeare is the uncontested king of English literature, this book is the universal emperor. It is the Bible.

You can re-read it all your life, and it will never lack depth. It will never cease to spout truths about human nature. It doesn’t gloss heroes’ despicable lapses. It belongs to the realism genre. It belongs to most every genre. Every classical author alludes to it, detractors feel the need to discredit it — and that’s not bad because on-going research eventually answers their criticism and shores up its validity. Attacking the Bible is flattery.

The worst thing you could do is ignore it.

Repressive regimes ban it. We have a free society (thank God!). We can freely read it without the government looking over our shoulder. While others long to pry open its pages, we leave — it would seem — long to conform to repression. We leave them shut.

In addition to  holding keys to wisdom, this book also holds the key to eternal life. Thank you for reading my blog! Won’t you take a moment to read God’s blog (the Bible)?

The darker it gets, the clearer the Light becomes

Today I’m filled with buoyancy. The Gospel is now going to advance more than ever because apparently it is receding.

Our nation is becoming darker. Every day, there is more sin: the murder of babies, sexual sin, legalization of drug use, etc. But instead of bemoaning this “decline,” I rejoice. The

What’s the message of this pot? People need this message!

deeper into sin people get, the more desperate they become for answer to the anguish of their souls.

So, let us Christians pray and not whine. Let us outreach. Let us purify our message, eliminating hate. Let’s show love to homosexuals; after all, they are just sinners like the rest of us, not any worse than me and just as needy. Let’s stop being Pharisees condemning to Hell a world crying out for God’s love. Let’s stop trying to legislate morality and show people a better path with our testimonies.

We are on the brink of great revival. Do not blog doom and gloom. Bend your knees and pray. Go on outreach. Hug a sinner. Invite him to coffee. Talk to him and show him he’s a human being.

The ‘screwed generation’

Millennials

That’s what Newsweek called millennials in July. It’s makes me sick.

The premise is all wrong.  Millennials — the latest generation — are NOT going to achieve the home or lifestyle of their parents. For the first time since WW2, a shrinking middle classmeans kids won’t exceed

Hey! Wipe that smile off your face! Newsweek says you can’t be happy!

previous generations in material wealth.

So they’re screwed, Newsweek says. As if money were the key to happiness.

Why does no one question the premise??? Money is NOT the key to happiness. We can be happier than

That’s much better! Cry for less money!

our parents with less money. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.

The artist is happy, though nearly starving, because she does what she loves. The humble blogger is happy, though not a famous author, because he does what he loves. Happiness derives from family, from marriage, from a

Ok, seriously, go ahead and enjoy life.

satisfying usefulness in life, from a passion pursued. But the media hammers incessantly that bucks bring joy. There have been millions of miserable millionaires.

Do what you love and don’t buy the line that you should be unhappy just because you have less. It’s baloney!

The Master said: Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions — Luke 12:15 NIV.

Within reach

After years of excessive fasting and heroic service to humanity, Gandhi agonized over his “fleshliness.” Achieving nirvana is virtually unattainable in Hinduism.

In Islam, you can never know if you have pleased Allah enough to make paradise. In Buddhism, you have to approximate monasticism.

And by contrast, in Christianity, God plops the answer right down in your lap. That’s because we are made holy not by anything we do but rather by what Christ do on the cross for us. This does not mean we flout righteousness. It only means that God has built over the chasm separating humanity from the Divine.

So answers to prayer do not require accompanying works of righteousness. You don’t need burn candles or crawl on your knees painfully over the cement plaza. You don’t need “vain repetitions” that “pagan use because they think that only that way can they be heard” (Matt. 6:7). You may fast while praying but should not think you won’t be heard if you only pray and don’t fast.

All you need is faith.

If an answer to prayer does not come immediately, assume that God is working patience in you. Do NOT assume you have to perform “works of righteousness” to turn God’s frown into a smile.

In Christianity when you pray, the answer is within reach — unlike any other religion. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE that you have received it, and it will be yours. – Mark 11:24 NIV (caps mine).

Bomb them or evangelize them

When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them – Luke 9:54-55 NIV.

A sharp contrast separates his disciples from Jesus — and that chasm remains today. While the “disciples” want to send bombs off to wipe out entire cities, Jesus proposes forgiveness and evangelization.

America has some Christian foundations, but all we can muster is war against Middle Eastern nations. We have no love to give. Let’s not expect anything good to come from the continuation of the Crusades. Until we share the gospel with these peoples, the hostilities will continue, and we won’t be able to expect safety at home any more.

Stop condemning others. Give them love. Someone said recently that America now spends yearly as much on mascot Halloween costumes as it does on missions. But the budget for military attacks is unlimited. Why do we do this? Because it’s easier to bomb peoples and just wash our hands of them.

In reality, I’m not taking a stand for or against military defense. I AM taking a stand against negligence on the behalf of Christians to pray and send missions. If we have no gospel to give, then we are left only with bombs. Jesus was willing to go to the cross for people’s salvation. What are we willing to do to spread the gospel? Because we are unwilling, we prefer to laud the use of bombs.

Don’t expect the expected

No joke! This is what it’s like.

For over a year, we didn’t have a car. As missionaries in Guatemala, that meant we took either the bus (dangerous) or the taxi (expensive).

I kept thinking that eventually God would touch some gringo‘s heart, and s/he would get us some new wheels (I cracked the block by driving my old car into undrained water on the highway during a tropical storm). Waiting for some gringo to step up seemed logical: I was connected to ministers in the States; they have money.

It wasn’t new, and it didn’t come wrapped up like this.

I kept praying. I believed God. I imagined how the answer would come.

But it didn’t come the way I imagined. It was not a gringo, but a Guatemalan (and a poor one!), who gave me his car. This shock taught me that God dredges up resources from the most unexpected places.

From the least expected place. God brought water — out of a rock.

When it comes to God, I won’t say, “Expect the unexpected” (because that is cliché). Instead, I will say, “When it comes to God, don’t expect the expected.” He’s always got a new trick up His sleeve.

The Fiat from the Dark Ages was no luxury car, but it got us around. Steven Fernandez, the gringo pastor who took over in my absence, is now driving it. Hope you like it, Pastor Steve!

Wimpy blog: Jesus is coming soon! Quick, everybody look busy!

Boy, the sermon Sunday really shook me up! It was about Jesus’ imminent return. Am I ready? Will I be left behind?

It scared me to the core. I’d better get right with some things and get busy. It reminded me of the movie, “2012.” I guess the Mayans knew something about this stuff. The special effects were pretty terrific. That movie made me think a lot. But then I kind of forgot about it and went back to my old ways.

I guess I mess up a lot, but I really don’t want to get left behind in Jesus’ return. I mean, the guys who want to serve Jesus after the rapture will have to be beheaded. If people are hostile towards Christians now, how much more so when the Holy Spirit is removed from Earth?

So this brings to the basic question I have as a wimpy Christian: How much sin can I get away with and still go in the rapture?

Carrying the Ark of the Covenant

Photo thanks to Still Small Voices

You didn’t carry the Ark of the Covenant in your backpack. Made of pure gold, it was too heavy. A symbol of the presence of God, the Ark had to be carried by a group of men.

So it is today. The presence of God is carried by a group of people, the assembling of a people in plural. But today, there are too many Christians who want to carry God’s presence all alone. Wrongly extrapolating our individual salvation, they have separated and isolated themselves from other imperfect people — and they think they are right to do so. But the Ark of the Covenant was carried by various — not just one.

In spite of all its imperfections, the church continues to be God’s institution, a manifestation of His presence. Yes, you can be saved and NOT go to church, but you’re missing out on support, mutual encouragement, others’ giftings — and a better life. Drop the church-bashing. Something powerful happens when we worship God while belonging to a body of believers.

Marriage retreat? Marriage advance!

22 years of marriage in October

My church just held a marriage “retreat” in Pismo Beach. But too many are “retreating” from marriage. Seventy-five percent of couples in California end in divorce. The toll on kids has been staggering.

Dianna supported me through 16 years of sacrifice as missionaries in Guatemala. In the photo, she is with our daughter, Rebekah

It’s really worthwhile to work on your marriage. In my case, I can see comedy in it. On the one hand, the setting is romantic and the talks are inspiring. On the other hand, the wives feel incredibly empowered and tend to let their husbands hear all the way home all the areas he’s been messing up!

So I am happy! I have three areas to work on, and it is a blessing to commit to change, being considerate of your spouse, treating her with love and tenderness. Marriage can get mechanical. It should be passionate. Any ape can caste aside his partner looking for greener pastures. It requires a true man to listen to his wife and let her be right (sometimes).

We ate at the Splash Fish Shack. Mmmm! She likes clam chowder in a bread bowl. It’s the little things in life that kindle romance!

Hope this inspires some guys: I am going to answer my wife’s questions even when she asks me the same thing over and over again. I’m going to be positive first, not start with criticisms. I’m going to make salads for her. Sorry for disclosing my privacy, but maybe it will inspire some dude to treat his wife more considerately (I think generally that is hard for men).

I just got a comment on my post from a lady who “lost the faith” after her Christian husband was repeatedly unfaithful to her. This haunted me. Men, let’s rise up and be the men of God we are called to be! Let’s not go this route!

The “retreat” is from the rat race. Let’s hope our (Christian) marriages advance!