Just finished the Breslin book. I enjoyed it but several problems with it are:

His writing is occasionally confusing to me, I didn’t always follow his stories or get his points.

His solution is apparently to allow women to be priests, which seems to duck the issue. The issue, as I see it, is a total lack of biblical foundation for their doctrine, that’s where I would start. He prefers a social gospel–take care of the poor and help women, blacks, Jews, homeless, AIDS victims, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things, but relying just on that, again, misses what our foundation is supposed to be–Christ and His Word. You can’t have a true social gospel–renewing the minds of society–without an emphasis on the gospel of the Mystery of Christ.

His accounts of abuse are often disturbing, more information than I needed and isn’t uplifting, but he had to relate them to get his point across, which he did. It’s hard to recommend someone read this book when this stuff is in there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Several other Catholic things that bother Jimmy Breslin:

The idea of “limbo,” which is supposed to be the place where babies go when they die, not quite heaven and not quite hell. Where did this come from?

Eating meat on Fridays used to be a mortal sin, you could go to hell for it, but in some countries it was ok because they didn’t have fish. Then, the Catholic Church scrapped the whole idea and Catholics can eat meat on Fridays. Breslin wonders what the guys burning in hell from eating meat on Fridays 200 years ago feel about this change!

How can sinful people grant absolution and forgiveness of sin? An excellent question, one hopes Breslin comes across Hebrews and Paul talking about Christ being the one and only High Priest. People can’t do it Jimmy!

The transformation of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood was done by the magic touch of the priest’s index finger and thumb and only priests could accomplish this miracle. But now laypeople can do it, even women. How can they change these rules like that?

Breslin is also greatly disturbed by the buildings and property the Catholic Church owns in the midst of poverty. He’s got some points and he makes them and Catholic leaders hate this guy!

Just came across another blog that mentioned a dentist Paddi Lund who transformed his dental business by locking his door, taking his name out of the phone book and firing half his CUSTOMERS and by doing so increased his profits by 3 1/2 times and decreased his work time by 22 hours!

He has written several books about his novel business ideas, which I just might have to check out. I find it cool to see people do things differently than others and prove that common sense is not always sense!

A new study on internet use shows that using the internet takes away time from watching tv, socializing and sleeping. Cool. The article states, “an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes.”

Hope my web site is not taking away any much needed sleep or talking with friends, it’s ok if it takes away form tv though. You take the good with the bad.

Jimmy Breslin is very disappointed with the Catholic Church! He is investigating some of the charges against various priests and is appalled with the church’s response. One priest just sent a letter saying basically, hey, I messed up, please forgive me.

One lady tried committing suicide four times before she was able to get help and realized that these horrible things had happened to her that she couldn’t let go but her kid mind tried to get rid of. She also has HIV now thanks to the priest who molested over 100 kids. She is now a director of a hospital treating HIV victims.

It’s sick, it really is. Hard to know what to say beyond that. Sick.

On top of that he recounts seeing a priest sanctify a cemetery by turning like a sprinkler spraying holy water and various other ridiculous things. Even more sick that people are being led into believing they are eternally secure because they go to mass every week. For some time the Catholic Church said not attending mass or not paying attention is an unforgivable sin and guilty ones will go to hell.

Perhaps people would come and pay attention if they didn’t cover up the exciting message of grace. Perhaps making church boring and irrelevant is a bigger sin than not going to a church that is!

I began reading a book last night from the library entitled “The Church That Forgot Christ.” Jimmy Breslin is pretty fed up with his Catholic Church. The book is basically him railing against the priest sexual misconduct accusations and the lack of sincerity in dealing with them by the Catholic higher-ups. He also is bothered by the lavish buildings being built and maintained while all this is going on.

He is primarily dealing with the Church in New York City and their ill-treatment of the poor, which is his way of saying they are forgetting Christ. He makes some interesting points and certainly comes across as totally ticked off. Kind of good reading!

The top four ministries I would do if I were able to get enough financial support are:

1. A Christian publishing company that would publish all my stuff and others of equal doctrinal standing.

2. Buy a cabin and rent it out cheap to Christian families or individuals who needed some time away.

3. Buy a house in town and rent it out cheap to Christians in need of cheap housing and keep it up nice to improve the overall look of rundown neighborhoods.

4. Start a Christian lawn mower racing team called “Mow, Mow about Jesus.”

I was reading an article about non-profit organizations that are impacting the world and came across this company Accion International. It seems like a really cool idea and also seems to really work. The idea is to use micro-financing (loans of small amounts beginning at $100) to help individuals in poor areas begin a business.

I always thought it would be neat if Christians could get together, pool their finances and begin ministries by loaning money to those with the desire and time but just need a little money to get going. Accion shows a model that works. I think I read that 97% of their loans have been fully paid on time, which is an astounding rate. Why not borrow the concept and use it for eternity?

The huge 9.0 earthquake that struck in the Indian Ocean is still being assessed. Perhaps up to 45,000 people may have died in earthquake related events including huge tidal waves. Humanitarian relief is being gathered with the main problem being contaminated water.

The earthquake actually moved the earth’s rotation and may have shortened the day by .3 nanoseconds! I thought time went quicker the other day.

All of this stuff makes you wonder. It sure puts our power into perspective. Here we are worried about hairspray bottles and gas-burning engines destroying our earth. We assume we have so much power and control and something like this happens to take us down a notch, but we’ll forget. How about that Capital One Bowl Week?

USA Today has an interesting article about book buying and what it says about book buyers. For instance, diet books make up 9% of all book purchases even though it has been shown that more than half of people who go on diets weigh more afterwards than they did before–which proves the fallacy of legalism once again, it seem like it should work but all it does is make you binge!

We also find that people buy dictionaries in August, Cake making books are big for mother’s day–we want our mothers to continue being motherly I guess. John Grisham spends the most weeks at number 1.

The Shroud of Turin has come into the news lately. Apparently, this burial cloth which bears the image of Christ, has been re-examined and another image has been found on it, an image which is a reverse image of the first image. The significance of this is that it’s hard to forge this kind of imagery.

Christianity Today has an article on it for a better explanation if you’re interested. Also you can visit Shroud.com for more information than you probably want to know but it also shows a picture of the image for your viewing pleasure.

Reggie White passed away today of a heart attack at the age of 43. I have mixed feelings about Mr. White. He played for two teams I have very little liking of and thus, pretty much was greatly annoyed by this guy his whole career. But my annoyance is probably testimony to his effectiveness against my poor Bears.

On the other hand, he was a guy that stood up for things he thought were right, he didn’t cover up anything and although we probably don’t agree on many theological issues, he certainly seemed to have his faith in the right place. White caught a lot of heat back when he said that homosexuality was a sin. Just saying that one thing makes me respect him.

I think I’ll stop now because that’s about as nice as I’m going to get eulogizing a Packer.

Yesterday’s Anti-Itch Meditation addressed the coming of the Holy Spirit. I think it fits in well with the sermon yesterday too. We’re not going out into the world alone, we have the Holy Spirit, God, with us. Unfortunately, we tend to get scared, nervous and a number of other things forgetting who we have with us. We aren’t supposed to be ashamed of the gospel even if people are hostile or ambivalent toward it and not being ashamed of it is only possible through the Holy Spirit.

Even making choices throughout the day to live according to what you believe is an activity of the Holy Spirit–it’s called walking in the Spirit. Being a soldier of Christ is no easy thing but it’s easier and possible with the Spirit. Enjoy it and use it!

Being called sheep for years has given believers quite the inferiority complex. Sheep are stupid and being called a sheep inspires you to go ahead and be stupid. Christianity Today has an article on all the frauds that people pull over on believers and churches. Millions have been wasted in fraudulent schemes by people who act like one of us.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Is what Jesus told His disciples before sending them out into the world in Matthew 10:16. He knew whereof He spoke, imagine that.

Serpents are crafty and sneaky, we should be intelligent and careful with our lives, walking circumspectly–paying attention to where we place our feet. At the same time, be innocent, don’t allow crafty thinking to make you crafty. We need to be aware that wolves do sneaky things so we need to understand their tactics. A popular way to defraud believers is to join their group, act like one of them–wolves in sheep’s clothing–and then bring up this great deal and one by one believers fall over and hand over their money–sheep among wolves. Be careful out there, pay attention and keep yourself separate.

More information on the man who committed suicide in the Crystal Cathedral. Turns out he is Johnnie Carl who has been the orchestra conductor for 30 years. Over the years he has done composing and conducting for Celine Dion, John Tesh and the London Symphony.

Apparently, Carl was stressed with various projects going on, including their huge Christmas production, and got into an argument mere hours before their first Christmas program when he went off.

I am in no way making light of this, but merely stating a point I have always believed and sought to promote–keep church functions on point–edifying people to go out and do the work of the ministry. Too often churches busy their people with stuff that sure seems spiritual because it’s “for church” but really it’s just busy, edifies little and has even less fruit.

If all the time, money and energy poured into Christmas programs was used in developing friendships, caring and sharing the Gospel we’d all be better off. I will always seek to keep our church simple, doing the one function God gave us to do, edify, and allow those who are edified to use their liberty to meet the needs of others. Church activities are too often just that, activity, and I’ve known enough churches intimately to see that they waste time, stress people out and have little fruit. It’s the way it is. Johnnie Carl is just one more example. If someone had spent time with him meeting his spiritual needs instead of hiring lamas for their show he may still be with us.

Robert Schuller built his Crystal Cathedral back in 1980. Reportedly, his motivation for building a huge church which shimmers in the light–it is covered with thousands of silver tinted windows–was so Christ would see his church first when coming to earth, I kid you not.

Anyway, not only does Christ see this church, so to does a lunatic with a gun who is now hiding out inside the church. Several shots were fired and he is now threatening suicide. His escapade started two hours before their first Christmas program of the year, a program which is quite the to-do with live animals and all. The gunman is also a church employee.

So much to say, so little guts.

The good people at Fox television have a new reality tv show entitled “Who’s your daddy?” You guessed it, it takes an adopted person and has them pick out their biological father from a line up of possible fathers. The winner gets a dad plus $100,000. Not bad. I’m not sure we really need this much reality. And what about the mom? Doesn’t she get any prizes?

A Christian rock band was scheduled to perform at a public school anti-drug assembly. But that didn’t get very far and the school board decided that they should not have a Christian anything perform in the school so as not to promote religion. Either that or they don’t want to promote low-level musical talent.

Interestingly enough, the very school who came to this conclusion is the school that Madalyn Murray O’Hare graduated from and if you’re up on your “what Christians should be ticked off about” topic you know that she’s the one who led the charge to get prayer out of schools in 1963.

US News and World Report has some articles on prayer on their web site right now. They are pretty benign, not saying anything real incredible. They also treat prayer as it exists in all religions. Just about everybody prays and not all people pray for stuff either.

Here’s one article they have dealing with a survey on prayer and also touches on a study on prayer to see if it works or not. You may find something in it, or you may not, or you may wish to pray about it before doing it.

OK, I can no longer recommend Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. Boy, way to mess up a perfectly good book. The first 100 pages I still recommend, but after that it’s all down hill.

He gets stuck on this spiritual warfare stuff. He did so well explaining the struggle and the battle of life and did so well explaining our position in Christ and our place in Him. Then he throws it all away and gets back to–“it’s all about you and your ability to fight.” But wait, I thought you just told me I had no power? I thought you just told me I had all I needed in Christ?

It just bugs me when people are so close to getting grace and enjoying the freedom and wonder that it is and then see them get stuck somewhere and not apply grace to that one last area. I think his ministry would be so much greater and more powerful if he let go of this thing. If he saw the freedom and the strength to stand in the midst of the battle rather than having to live with the pressure of blowing it. Boy, guess I’ll just have to write my own book.

Speaking of spiritual warfare, a subject made popular by the likes of Frank Peretti back in the 90’s. What is interesting about Paul’s instructions on armor and being a soldier is that the only time he tells people to fight is when he encourages Timothy to fight the fight of faith–not fighting anything else but fighting to keep the faith, live the life.

Ephesians 6 talks about our spiritual armor that God gives us. Nowhere in that passage does he ever tell us to fight with it! Instead, all he does is tell us to stand there! We’re just supposed to take it, what else is armor for but stuff to help us take shots? Armor doesn’t help you fight, in fact, it slows you down and encumbers your ability to fight. Armor allows us to stand and he repeats standing several times as if it was his point.

I’ve yet to read an account of spiritual warfare where people are instructed to just stand there. Yet that’s what we’re supposed to do. Resist the enemy and he will flee–resisting is done by standing still, not moving under the pressure, that’s what God allows us to do, when the enemy approaches and sees us standing firm, he takes off! It’s like when an unknown dog charges you, if you take off running it’ll go nuts, if you start flailing around it’ll go nuts, if you stand there and look big, he’s gone! Satan is a coward, we don’t have to fight, we just have to stand with Christ.

I wrote my glowing review of John Eldredge yesterday about 100 pages into his book Waking the Dead. The first 100 pages were great. The next 40 have been not as great. I still like him, most of his books are like that for me–he nails the problem and then falls a bit giving his solution.

He has a bit about hearing the Voice of the Lord in your heart and using that as direction. I know what he means but it’s very difficult to use a blanket statement to believers to “listen to the voice in your heart.” That leads to all sorts of nonsense. However, I do believe the Spirit guides us but not sure how to explain it. How Eldredge explained it isn’t it though! Next is his chapter on spiritual warfare, which I’m sure I won’t like either!

Presenting the Christian life in a way which is helpful and instructive is difficult. I have read lots and lots of “Christian” books telling other Christians what being a Christian is all about. They all get into legalism at some point, in fact, I think they kind of have to. Anytime you are attempting to explain “how” to do something you have to use laws and legalism is nothing more than applying laws.

Throughout all my reading I have to say that the guy who comes closest to hitting Christianity on the head while avoiding legalism is John Eldredge. Now, Eldredge has some issues that I don’t agree with–gets a bit carried away with spiritual warfare for example–but I really think he nails the Christian life and does so in a very encouraging and inspiring way, a way I have not come across by any other author.

If you are interested in reading his books, I recommend them in this order:

Wild At Heart (Written for men)

The Journey of Desire

Waking the Dead

The Sacred Romance

The ideas he presents are tough to take sometimes and may not answer all your questions, but no one can! He leaves the application up to individuals by presenting the facts of what God has made us for and what Christ has made us be. Read him; he’s easy to understand yet challenging. It will not be wasted time.

The nativity scene of wax celebrities has been attacked. A guy ran into the display and started kicking and punching the figures and then took off running. Not exactly the heaping coals of fire on their heads, but you can’t be too picky I guess. The nativity scene has been condemned by local church leaders as being blasphemous. Now that the scene is ruined, God must be very happy–look for good times to come now brother!

PBS is airing a documentary on December 29th called “The Congregation.” It’s a documentary on a progressive United Methodist Church, the kind that’s been in the news lately for lesbian ministers etc. It will no doubt contain fair and balanced reporting that will make Jesus and the Bible look just great. Not to mention making pastors look like the greatest people on earth and showing the love and care of believers.

Right.

Here is a very odd story. A marine injured in the battle for Fallujah had a choice–destroy his wedding ring and save some of his ring finger or save the ring and lose the finger. The weirdo chose the ring! He sacrificed his finger so he could keep his ring. What is this guy thinking? You can buy a new ring man! I take my wedding ring off to go biking when it’s cold.

Then, to top it all off, the doctors lost his ring! And for some reason his wife is proud of her husband and “feels honored.” Wow, I think she should be feeling a lot of things one of which is not pride. It just goes to show you the total waste that romance is.

I’ve been reading through a book entitled “One Hundred and One Hymn Stories” Written by Carl Price in 1923. It’s interesting. Most of the stories are inspiring and spiritual and wonderful. Some are of people witnessing the deaths of martyrs, some are dealing with “angels” some are results of good service with the poor etc.

Then there’s the tale behind “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts. Isaac was the son of a deacon in England’s Independent Church and one day he was making fun of the hymns they had to sing at church. So his dad said, “Well write some then.” Through that sarcastic comment by his father, Watts launched his own hymn writing career which resulted in one of my favorite hymns, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross!

Ah, it’s so good to see fatherly sarcasm benefit the Church! We could certainly use more I think! I’ll be happy to provide some for my kids.

Open Theism (the idea that God doesn’t know all the future because people have free-will) has gotten another professor fired, this time at Huntington College in Indiana. This “doctrine” was made popular by Greg Boyd who taught at Bethel College in St. Paul, MN. He was voted to be a heretic but could retain his position teaching by the insightful people of Bethel College. I guess that’s what you call “a diverse staff” in MN.

Anyway, Martin Marty has a commentary on the issue and the recent firing if you’re interested.

%d bloggers like this: