Monday, June 29, 2009

What's Wrong With Christianity Today?

It depends on the defini of Christianity. Come with me on a little journey-pack your google in your top pocket, open a new tab or duex and let's see what.
First, for fun, let us face the music: google “Contemporary Christian Music magazine” -click on the top entry and visit CCM online.
If your speakers are on, do you hear anything of gospel? Under the ‘music’ tab click artists. Click around and you might see Amy Grant listed, which is fine...but the rest are beyond my ken, and possibly yours. See anything of Jesus there? Supposedly it is a generational thing-the parents listen to the Gaithers, the kids have their Rag Top Crucifix and Black Barn-two band names I just made up but which would fit in very well in CCM magazine. So would my imaginary band from a few weeks ago, the ‘Meth Living Suicides’ who didn’t even know that CCM labeled them a Christian group.
When ready to continue our little netjaunte, follow me to our next desti-
google “Christianity Today”, follow the sponsored link to the online magazine and kill the popup.
When I visited the site last night, the only mention of the name of “Jesus” was in the title of a film revue where the reviewer was chortling about the funniest scene in “Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian”.
There are a few generalized mentions of God, but Jesus Christ is as absent here as at CCM. However, today (while it is called today) there is a review of that Christian classic, “Transubstanciformers-Revenge of the Fallen” Spoiler: the fallen sinners get revenge on and defeat God, and everyone parties like its 1999,999,999,999,999.
When your spirits have been uplifted plenty enough at Christianity Today, google “Jesus Christ”. Your mileage may vary, but my browser returned 47,300,000 hits. Now, just for fun, type in “Beatles”. I guess Lennon was right-I see 53,000,000 hits. Huh.
This all started when I began reading “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey. He writes well, but doesn't say much about Jesus Christ.
He seems to think that Christians need to be scolded (?) into extending grace to unbelievers and each other.
Here’s an example from page 31:
‘Mark Twain used to talk about people who here “good in the worst sense of the word,” a phrase that, for many, captures the reputation of Christians today. Recently I have been asking a question of strangers--for example, seatmates on an airplane--when I strike up a conversation.
“When I say the words, ‘evangelical Christian’ what comes to mind?
In reply, mostly I hear political descriptions: of strident pro-life activists, or gay-rights opponents, or proposals for censoring the Internet. Not once--not once--have I heard a description redolent of grace. Apparently that is not the aroma Christians give off in the world.’

My answer to Philip Yancey, so concerned with how the world sees us, is found in 2 Corinthians 2:15-17
“15For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
To put it in simple, if we smell good to God, we shouldn't be pleasing to unbelievers.
Who Is Philip Yancey? He has been an editor at Christianity Today where we can’t find much of Jesus Christ. I’m sure he’s comfortable there. And well loved by the world.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Blessing To Body And Mind

I want to share a blessing, bring notice of a wonderful work benefiting the body of Christ, the Church, defined by Christ Himself as His sheep, those that know His voice.
'Freely ye have received, freely give'.
I've been on iTunes since before I had an iPod-iTunes continues to offer great content for free, aside from all of the great music/TV shows/movies/podcasts you can buy.
One of the finest additions to iTunes in the past year is Apple's collaboration with colleges, universities, museums worldwide to offer courses on a universe of subjects.
I've taken audio walks through Scotland, studied the Byzantine Empire, enjoyed a Christian music podcast, learned of other cultures, my own culture, and yours.
I've listened to lectures on ethics, sociology, art and drama, and now I am getting to the point of this post.
Reformed Theological Seminary has placed a number of solid courses on iTunes U.
For the past few weeks I've been working through a lecture series "Hebrews through Revelation" taught by Dr. Simon J. Kistemaker. That single course entails 46 lectures, each running nearly an hour.
Dr. Kistemaker is a solid theologian and teacher, and has opened up the Scriptures, making some of the puzzling sections understandable.
I appreciate Reformed Theological Seminary for making these courses available for free-it is a blessing to the Church, and to each and any of us who wish to learn more about God’s Word.
I’m putting a link on the page here to RTS to show my appreciation and to repay them in the small way that I can for the blessing I have received. I encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful gift of education. If you click on the title of this post you will click through to their website-the iTunes link is at the bottom of the page. Freely ye have received. May God richly Bless you today.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

King of Nothing

Great. The internet is crawling to near stop with all kinds of M. Jackson stuff going on. Yesterday no one gave him a thought, and today he is the Topic.
When I heard the news, I felt no remorse, no sadness. It occurred to me that it didn't really matter to me whether he was alive or dead.
Is it un-Christian of me to say this? Consider-his passing meant as much to me as my passing would have meant to him, if our situ had been reversed.
As a Christian I am called to be honest, so there you go, bucko.
I am not cavalier about death-it is THE gateway through which we all pass. Some to Life everlasting.
I am not untouched when a friend or family member dies. I cried when Columbine happened, when Virginia Tech happened, but honestly-Michael Jackson, the unfortunate Farrah Fawcett, even Ed McMann do not touch me with their passing.
Here's irony for you-I just received an e-mail telling me that my Blu ray edition of "The Seventh Seal" is in.
There you go.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Call Me Dark River

How do you like it shofar? Forgive me having fun on the shortest day of the year-I have a picture of a shofar sitting in front of me, and thereby lies the tall tales. My simple mind also latches onto shiny objects.
Something called Perry Stone and Bill Cloud have ...produced...a DVD which almost could be mistaken for a study of the seven Feasts of Israel.
Study of the Feasts is fine-there is a lot of good insightful information to be discovered in the Feasts.
But Stone and Cloud aren't as interested in the Feasts as they are in:(Full title)
"PROPHETIC MYSTERIES OF THE" Seven Feasts of Israel.
They are code seekers and diviners of secret messages hidden in the Feasts. Or any other part of the Genesis/Exodus books. Or possibly in dissecting a chicken and reading the bones.
What I have learned so far:
Joseph of the coat of many colors, sold into slavery, became the viceroy of Egypt. His name and Egyptian title transliterate into (drum roll, please!) Joseph of Arimathea!
Which is important to Cloud and Stone because they suggest that Pharaoh only gave permission for the Israelites to leave for three days. But he knew they were bookin’ out of town for good when he checked Joseph's tomb... and the bones were gone! What’s the number for 9-1-dumb?
The scholarly Abbott and Costello drag their dramatic point over the line into ridiculousnessnessness by stating that in AD 33, when the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea is found empty...Satan knew that he had fallen for the oldest trick mysteriously, prophetically hidden in The Book.
Not wanting to be responsible in case anyone’s head explodes, I’ll leave off there. Never mind about the three crosses on Golgotha being tied to the Passover blood placed in three crosses on the doorposts and lintels of the Israeli homes in Egypt. Which would mean that the two criminals...never mind-it’s much too too.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: a man is a place is a water. Douglas, from the Gaelic, means Dark River. Who knew I was so cool?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The North Korean Clam Chowder and Debate Society

How is this for keeping relevant? I mention K-Fed Jong Il in a comment, and he shows up for his class picture wearing Ray Bans and a lousy jacket. I found the picture on Briebart's site Big Hollywood-the story had to do with Kim extending the good right hand of fellowship...across the border into China, where his forces kidnapped two American journalists, accused them of spying on NK, found them guilty and sentenced the spy/journalists to 12 years of hard labor. The good news? They will be at a Reform camp, so they have an opportunity to become better people. Hi fives!
Kim J also suggested gently that if any of his ships carrying fissionable weaponized...butter churns...were stopped while on their way to terrorist...butter churn fanatics...he would consider such interference to be an act of war.
I am heartened to see that there is only one symbolic rifle positioned above Kims head in the family photo-two guns might be considered overkill.
I'm awaiting President Obama's reaction to Kim Jong Il's saber rattling. Maybe Obama will bomb Israel or something.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How Could This Possibly Be Controversial?

841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

Here's the thing-tonight at church I was given a DVD to watch with the provocative title, "Economic and Political Crisis-The Planned Destruction of America" by someone called Dr Larry Bates. Mind numbingly boring. One little dollop of misquoted Scripture followed by 20 minutes of his own ideas, assumptions and jumped-to-conclusions. I didn't make it past the 21 minute mark.
I went to the internet and looked into what others were saying about him-ouch.
So I was a goofy mood when a friend called to ask if I wanted to watch another DVD about a different subject. We got to talking about some of the odd ideas people come up with, such as this Dr Bates, who pushes the idea of ingesting colloidal silver to cure whatever ails ya. Taking the long way around, I asked my friend if she were aware of this little nugget from the Catholic Catechism. Nope.
So here it is-if there are any Catholics out there who feel like explaining number 841, just shine a light in the comments section.
There’s absolutely no common ground that I know of, aside from the fact that both Catholics and Muslims have strings of beads for prayer and dress some women in nun hijabs. Oooops!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Oranges and Oranges, Please!

"You've got it about right. But you are leaving out the fact that Scripture enjoins us from judging each other (Mt. 13:24-30, Rom. 14:4, Rom. 14:10-13)."

Lets take a look. For the sake of brevity, I won't print out every verse that you can read in your own Bible.
I've been meaning to get to this for awhile, but lacked time and energy until tonight. Rather than the assumption that 'Scripture enjoins us from judging each other', the opposite is actually true. Christians are not supposed to be able to tell whether someone else is a believer? In the Matthew parable, Jesus is talking about tares being planted among the wheat.
Tares aren't wheat. And nothing in the parable proves that a 'wheat' can't tell who is a 'tare'. Read down past Mt. 13:24-30 and you find the disciples asking for the parable to be explained-please read Matthew 13:36-39.

"4Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." Romans 14:4
This verse needs to be read in context-please read Romans 14:1-4:
And then Romans 14:10-13
Again, there is an admonition for one believer not to judge the faith of another believer. Believer. Not unbeliever. The rest of Romans 14 makes this clear. I am not to judge, for example, a brother who believes differently than I do about Sabbath days, or what he can or can't eat or drink (Doug, do you eat shellfish?). And he, my brother in Christ, is not to judge me for my beliefs. Clear as glass.

Paul warned the Corinthians to be on guard against false Christians, warning them to judge who is and who is not a believer-please read 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
John judged who was or wasn't a Christian: Please read 2 John 7-11.
Finally, Jesus Himself often made clear the difference between believers and unbelievers-please read John 10:25-28, and then Matthew 7:21-23
To sum it all up, please read 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 Maranatha!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

From Here, Overlooking Desolation Row

The here being, actually, a now-2009. The other night I watched "Message To Love-The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970". Those of you old enough to have attended a rock concert probably have heard of this infamous event. The documentary was amazing to watch on a few different levels-it was a snapshot taken of when the world was crazy, the generation gap was going through a rough divorce, and Tiny Tim was paid to perform on the same stage as Jimi Hendrix. Thankfully, not at the same time.
Keith Moon was alive and drumming. Hendrix (18 days left) and Jim Morrison (10 months)were playing their last major gigs.
The show promoters didn’t plan the event very well, and nearly 600,000 freeloaders showed up demanding to watch the greatest show of their lives for free. The cost of the four day festival ticket? Six pounds. Less than ten dollars American in 2009. To see the greatest show of their lives. About 60,000 paid, leaving 540,000 upset barbarians at the gates screaming bloody murder.
The documentarian, Murray Lerner, gave much screen time to the barbarians, and also the concert promoters scrambling to collect enough money to pay the performers.
The music was wonderful-the rest?
Sad. An ugly mirror held up to humanity, documenting man at his worse.
Desolation Row was the nickname for the makeshift refugee camp, where the totally empty pocketed indigents stayed. From the stage the promoters made an appeal to the crowd to share food and whatever with them. There were fences put up through which the paying customers would pass with their tickets. The denizens of Desolation Row were given ‘makework’, asked to paint the fence.
They decided to spit in the hand that tried to feed them, creating garish obscenities and petulant slogans (We Want The Stones!).
No Stones. No Beatles. But a listing of the performers who did show up reads like a history of Rock and Roll.
Bob Dylan, of course, wrote his song, Desolation Row much earlier; he wasn’t there either, although his song does play over the end credits.
Give a man a fish, and he will hit you over the head with it and take your wallet.
Teach a man to fish, and he will never have time for golf again.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Funny World

Funny world. This morning I watch the Jet Li movie, "Fearless", then turn on my computer and find that David Carradine is dead, possibly a suicide. President Obama ventures into the lion's den of Egypt to call the world to "Peace" when all it seems to want is war.
This could be a cynic's holiday, a feast for the pessimistic realist, but nope-not today, and not in the near.
"25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth." Job 19:25
I have the same hope as Job, and know that this world will remain until God replaces it with better. There will be wars, but they come from the hearts of men. The only way to end war is to either end men...or submit to God, the King of Peace, Who will give you His Peace. For both myself and David Carradine, the war is over.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Meth Living Suicides

This is something I don't often do here at FDW, but sometimes my online life and real life collide-I had to interview a band on tour, the 'Meth Living Suicides', and I thought, why not post it?
The Meth Living Suicides have been together as a "Death Metal" group for about 8 months, playing events around their hometown of Ames, Iowa. There have been twenty seven different bandmembers in that time, backing the lead singer, Arc, and his sister Largan, who plays the bass drum backing CD in the boombox.
I met the siblings at their hotel room, and my first question was to Arc:
Doug: 27 different members in the band? Isn't that quite a bit of turnover, even for a group just getting started?
Arc: @#$%^&*(.
Doug: Excuse me?
Arc: @#$%^&*( @#$%^&*(!
Doug: Largan, could you possibly translate what Arc is saying?
Largan (Fake British accent): He said, I guess so.
Doug: Thank you. Would you tell me about your song which rose to the top of the Contemporary Christian Music charts?
Largan: Do you mean, "Die, you @#$%^&*(, Die!?"
Doug: No, the song was, "Free The Sinner".
Largan: Oh. That hit # 1?
Doug: On the Christian music charts, yes.
Largan: Well, @#$%^&*(! They didn't get it then, did they?
Doug: Get it?
Largan: Yeah-if we can kill God, it would free the sinner. Those @#$%^&*( @#$%^&*(!

Okay, you've caught me. A little bit of fiction, just for fun. I have little regard for Christian Music groups in 2009-there's an entire subculture of supposedly Christian acts drawing kids into idolatry. If a Christian teenage girl can list all the members of "Crimson Moonlight" but has trouble naming any apostle besides Peter (He rocks!) that girl is in trouble.
I just went to CCM online and looked for an appropriate band name to goof on, and I found that my little mockery almost didn't go far enough.
Crimson Moonlight is led by something named Pilgrim Bestiarius. Howdy, Pilgrim!