Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is there a Right Way?

I have been reading so much lately. One thought that I keep coming to is this idea of truth. C.S. Lewis says that when you have a math problem, there is an absolutely true answer. Anyone who arrives at the right answer is telling the truth. Those nearer to the right answer are nearer to the truth.

Ravi Zacharias explains that truth in itself is an exclusive term. In fact, Jesus made the most known exclusive statement ever, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6).

When I read the Bible, I feel that I am gaining wisdom that leads me to truth. Of course I must be careful to properly study and pray to arrive at good interpretations, etc., but I do believe that we can arrive at principles and theology that is true.

Here's the thing. It just seems arrogant for anyone to claim they have the absolute truth on anything. It makes them look self-righteous and self-serving. But, here's the question: Is anyone really open to everything?

Is is true that most people who call for openness are really saying, "You must be open to everything that I am open to, and anything that I disagree with, you must disagree with too?"

That's why I use the Bible as a measuring tool. It allows me to see that truth is beyond me. I do not create it. I needn't be loyal to any man's philosophy, including my own.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Quit Praying To Congress

I had a good day today. Things began this morning when I got to the church. I checked my email and found an e-card from one of my students who had been struggling with anorexia and cutting herself. This past Wednesday I spoke about self-esteem and God showed her how much He loved her. She said she was changed. I felt so good reading that card of appreciation and I thanked God too.

All afternoon I had a chance to study the Bible and write down thoughts. I recommend it highly. You'll feel so much more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

Then, I had the privilege and opportunity to speak to a mixed congregation of young and old people tonight in our service. At the conclusion of my message I had all the young people come forward and stand and pray for each other. I asked the remaining congregation to come behind them and lay hands on them and pray for them. 1 Timothy 4 tells us that young Timothy received the spiritual gift of teaching when the elders of the church laid their hands on him and prophesied.

Then, the Holy Spirit led me to ask the parents of each of the teens to join them and that they should look at each other and lay hands on one another. I led them in prayers of forgiveness toward each other. Tears were flowing down their faces. God was doing a miracle in their lives and making them grow closer. One girl said, "That was so hard. I never saw my dad cry before."

After service, we were invited over to a friend's house for some food and conversation. It was during this talk with a man I respect and admire, that I was truly challenged in my thoughts concerning prayer.

We were discussing evangelicals and politics and we both were voicing our dissatisfaction with the way the church has been given a bad name by some of the big names. Somewhere along the way he throws out this statement:

"I wish Christians would quit praying to congress."

I had to think about it until the light came on. What he meant was that Christians, mainly evangelicals, have mistakenly made gods out of congressman. They get contributions (offerings), lobby for appointments with the congressman, praise them and take them to dinner, and try to get them to meet their requests. Sounds like prayer to me.

He believes that those Christians will never get their way until they pray to God to change hearts. They should quit praying to congress. God doesn't like that.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Road to Apostasy

Star Wars is something I have loved ever since I was a little boy. A New Hope hit theaters in 1977, only 4 months before my 5th birthday. Luke Skywalker was my hero. Even though he was devastated by the revelation that Darth Vader was his father, nothing could stop him from trying to redeem him. "There is good in him" Luke believed.

Recently, I read an article online called
Apostle to Apostate: Revenge of the Sith, As Cautionary Tale. The author draws clues from Revenge of the Sith as to how young churched Christians become apostates.

Here is my take on what the author gleaned from the fall of Anakin Skywalker. These points almost serve as steps down the slippery slope. Hang with me, however, there may be a twist.

1. When young people are kept at arms length and not given recognition for their contributions as believers, they fail to make connections, and begin to feel misunderstood or worse...unwanted.

2. When young people begin to recognize hypocrisy among church leaders and adults, they become disillusioned and begin to question everything they've been taught.

3. When young people express themselves emotionally and receive only indifference and insensitivity, they will find other communities that will understand them better.

4. Finally, when young people see leaders and adults asserting Truth only when it's convenient, they will do the same. As a result, this leads to clashes between them and a loss of direction. They will easily gravitate toward those who's beliefs are passionately consistent and "reasonable."

Of course, the root cause of every fall is pride and arrogance, but certainly how the members of the church conduct themselves can make a difference for the good or the bad of a young person.

Have you seen this happen?

Here's the twist. If you have seen Episode I: The Phantom Menace, then you know of the character Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson. He was the Jedi Master that trained Obi-Wan. He was considered the rogue Jedi, the one who didn't always submit to the Jedi Council's rigid rules and ways. He found a way to keep his Faith, but not the religion.

And it was Qui-Gon who believed in Anakin. Certainly things would have turned out differently for Anakin if Qui-Gon had not been killed by Darth Maul.

Here I find myself most closely relating to Obi-Wan. I am part of the Jedi Council (paid staff member at church). I am not a free spirit like Qui-Gon, but I work within the system to preserve the Jedi Way (Biblical Values). I have Padawan learners (teenagers) that I believe in, but I often see them treated as described above.

I do not want to lose my kids to those "other" communities. What can I do?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Power of Love & Understanding

I just saw this movie tonight and I had to post about it. What a great illustration of true love. It knows no boundaries and it is quick to forgive.

WARNING! Spoiler coming. What I like particularly is how the King, after hearing the true story of their love, decides to let Tristan & Isolde escape together, even though Isolde was his wife and had been caught with Tristan. Because of his act of mercy and grace, Tristan's heart is moved to stay and fight alongside the King.

Has anyone's kindness to you (when you didn't deserve it) ever softened your heart and made you love them even more in return? It seems to me that there is far too little of this in our "real" world. I hope I can be like that King, full of compassion, wisdom, and understanding.