Archive | May, 2013
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Church Music Trends, Throughout the Ages!

31 May

Church Music Trends, Throughout the Ages!

Two truths remain about church music:
1) We all have personal preferences. If we are not careful, we can elevate them to the level of Scriptural commands.
2) Anything new is viewed with suspicion.

I have much to learn beyond #1 and #2. I am not sure whether I could ever entertain the idea of Christian rap or Christian hip-hop. I plan to read more on this issue and write on it occasionally in the future.

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Are We Turning the Sinner’s Prayer Into a Magical Incantation?

30 May

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Controversy does sell, unfortunately.

I totally understand why J.D. Greear called his latest book “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart”. He doesn’t mean to never ask Him in. He means to not obsessively ask Him in over and over again, claiming lack of assurance of your salvation.

As a person affected by a smattering of OCD, I recognize what he is trying to say.

There are those of us who have trouble arriving at an assurance of our salvation. I mean, God’s free gift does seem too good to be true sometimes!

On the other extreme are the people who ask Jesus into their hearts every once in a while as they live like the devil, with no relationship to Jesus or His law/commandments whatsoever!

Both extremes meet their solution in the gospel of Christ, the gospel of grace.

You see, salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). It is not due to baptism nor to joining a church. But it is also not due to saying the right prayer.

Two words apply, as J.D. Greear walks us through the Scriptures to see. “Repentance” and “faith”. And Ephesians 2:9 tells us God even gives us the faith.

So when we get obsessed with a prayer (the prayer for salvation is often called “The Sinner’s Prayer”) and whether we prayed it correctly, we make salvation about us and about our works.

It is really about Christ’s finished work on our behalf.

That is an important distinction, for, as J.D. Greear says, there are many people who have been saved but talk themselves out of assurance that the event took place. There are also many who have no relationship to Jesus at all, and do not care to have one, who are living in false assurance because they prayed the Sinner’s Prayer once long ago.

Repentance and faith. We can see them in an assurance that we are rightly related to God in Christ and in His finished work.

It is all about Christ. When we try to insert a worthy-enough prayer from our end, we end up making the Sinner’s Prayer into a magical incantation!

Then we Baptists become just like the people we criticize for thinking that a religious ritual saves them.

Let’s not make the Sinner’s Prayer into a religious ritual.

It really is all about Jesus. He bore our sin so we could claim salvation in Him. Hallelujah!

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Building a Diet on Fruits and Vegetables

30 May

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When I lived in London, I had a friend named Liz who went on all fruit diet for a while. She was very petite and had gotten a tiny, tiny paunch, which haunted her. While eating only fruits, Liz dropped about 20 pounds in a month. She actually had to add foods back into her diet eventually, to keep from fading away.

Liz proved the wisdom of the Weight Watchers decision several years ago to count all fruits and most vegetables as zero points. It’s not that they don’t have calories. It is just that they have so much fiber that it is nearly impossible to eat so many of them that your weight would be affected. Meanwhile, you are filling a spot in your tummy that used to be reserved for cakes, pies, and cookies!

I remember that often when people lecture me about juicing (I don’t do it–why throw all that good fiber away? I would rather make a smoothie out of the entire fruit), or giving up fruit sugar (why is the person giving me that lecture about fruit sugar usually eating a Twinkie as she does???). I know everyone has her pet theories and practices and it is a free country, but I usually let those folks talk on without paying much attention to them. I love my Weight Watchers program and it works marvelously for me! A weight loss of 110 pounds in about 13 months says it all.

I truly believe I do well to spend my food dollars more on fresh fruit than on fresh meat. Oh, I eat meat–I have been a vegetarian off-and-on but I do currently eat meat–but I eat far more fruits and veggies. I think balance is key. Meat to me is a flavoring for other things.

Would love to hear what works for all of you. Feel free to comment, down below.

Pansexuality Explained

30 May

My generation of Christians has never heard of pansexuality.  Probably a lot of other people haven’t either.

I have been aware of the term for almost 20 years.  It goes beyond homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender issues because it emphasizes the souls of the people involved.  It is the belief that we look for a soulmate and, having found that person, we don’t worry about the “plumbing” with which that person was born.   

A pansexual person might be a male who finds a male soulmate and has gay sex with him.  Or the same male might find a female soulmate and have heterosexual sex with her.  To a pansexual, the point is not the type of sex in which he ultimately engages.  It is the soul of the person with whom he has sex.

Note:  to avoid tripping myself up in too much language here, I am going to use the terms “he,” “man,”  and “human race.”  The understanding is that I am using those terms to represent everyone, male and female alike. 

The high priestess of the pansexual movement has been, at various times, Camille Paglia.  I have not read a lot of her writing but I do admire her honesty.  She decided to declare herself a follower of the Greek and Roman gods because she realized that her sexual lifestyle of multiple partners matched the sexual lifestyle and the religion taught back during the Graeco-Roman empires.  

She said that it would be impossible to call herself a Christian and engage in the sexual lifestyle she had.  She said Christianity really only leaves the door open to a heterosexual marriage to one partner.  

I agree with that statement, in so many ways.  And I give her credit for acting in a way consistent with her beliefs.

As I see it, there are at least three different views of sexuality.  One is internally inconsistent:

1.  The one supported by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Scriptures of heterosexual sex/marriage.  The Christian and Jewish Scriptures support one man-one woman.  The Muslim Scriptures support one man with several women, if he can provide for them all.

2. Pansexuality, supported by the Graeco-Roman religion with its pantheon of gods, from back in the ancient days. Pansexuality fit with the Greeks, who believed the body to be a contaminated, imperfect container for the soul. (Pansexuality does not fit as well with Judaism, which taught a very intentional creation of the body by God in Eden, then a resurrection of the body in the last days. If we live all of eternity in a glorified version of this body, then this body matters).

3. The view applied somewhat inconsistently by the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender lobby that, if there is a god, he created everyone just the way they are and is equally happy with all expressions of sexuality, as long as they are not coerced.  The internal inconsistency in that view is that transgender people claim they were born in the wrong body for their gender identity.  So if they believe in God, they obviously believe He is capable of making a mistake.  The gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender lobby probably added the “transgender” category without thinking through the inconsistency of teaching that God created people gay/bisexual, but made a mistake with transgender people!  I have yet to hear anyone even talk about that internal inconsistency, much less explain it.

So where do Christians go with this information?  To be loving, informed members of our very diverse society that increasingly is going back to Graeco-Roman roots rather than Christian roots.  

To challenge people to believe in and follow Jesus Christ and to consistently follow the Christian Scriptures.  

After all, a loving God is behind every event there is, and nothing takes Him by surprise!!!

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A Trophy of God’s Grace: Rosaria Butterfield

27 May

A Trophy of God’s Grace: Rosario Butterfield

The story of Rosaria Butterfield’s conversion, and her journey from being a radical lesbian professor to being a Reformed theologian and homeschooling wife of her church’s pastor!

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Nobody Gets a Free Pass if He Tries to Kill a Police Officer

25 May

Nobody Gets a Free Pass if He Tries to Kill a Police Officer

Volatile situations make us uncomfortable. They make us want to run away fast.

We never like it when a young black man is killed by an older white police officer. Emotions run high.

However . . .

I have written before that we all tend to have blinders on in relation to the things our own children do. This article points out that tendency once again.

The young man in this article seems to have had exemplary behavior in life until this week. Then he made a series of unfortunate decisions.

He and his girlfriend attempted to pass a bad check.

When caught, he decided to try to flee from law enforcement officers on the scene. That involved the decision to back up over one of them, and not only once. He took enough evasive actions that he bounced his car off several impediments in the area.

The LEO’s partner, not knowing where his partner was or whether he was alive, utilized deadly force to disable the man who had already attempted murder.

I am sure someone somewhere is spouting the line about how adolescents and young adults don’t yet have a sound, functioning area of the brain related to judgment and decision-making. How they make awful decisions that affect the rest of their lives.

For this young man, that was surely true. His bad decisions ended his life.

Now his girlfriend, his family, and some of their community members want to make that the police force’s fault.

They seem to think that, since he was young and not capable of good judgment, he should have gotten a free pass to attempt to kill or even succeed in killing a LEO.

Be careful what you ask for, folks. If we make it hard for white police officers to work in black communities without criticism, we may find good people choosing careers other than law enforcement.

It is never easy to make split second decisions in a crisis. It is especially hard if you become aware that your decisions involve someone of another race and you might be highly criticized no matter what you do.

Let’s let our local LEO’s know we appreciate them, shall we? They have one of the most difficult jobs around, and often only face criticism.

Let’s tell them they matter to us and that we pray for them . . .

Today’s Love Stories: “Shakespeare in Love”

24 May

I am glad I finally watched the Best Picture of 1998, “Shakespeare in Love,” last night.

Glad because it is off my bucket list.

I was, quite frankly, bored stiff by it.  The characters, including the leads, were seemingly made of cardboard.  

A far cry from the love stories of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Even a far cry from “Monk” who expresses far more emotion with his eyes than Joseph Fiennes and Gwynneth Paltrow did with their words and bodies, even in their sex scenes.  No, especially in their sex scenes.  I have never seen such a vivid reminder that sex, if divorced from emotional warmth, could be boring.  

It is telling when the most interesting thing in a movie to me (a history buff) is to see how women of the time (the 1500’s) bound their breasts with a bolt of cloth twisted around and around and around themselves.  It was obviously meant to be alluring when Gwynneth Paltrow twisted around and around in a dance and Joseph Fiennes unwrapped that bolt of cloth, the first time they were together sexually.   It was telling that my reaction was simply, “Oh, so that’s how they did things back before brassieres were invented!”

Yup, I regard “Shakespeare in Love” as a highly stylized, historically accurate fail.  But maybe that is just me! 

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