There is a song from back in the good ol days that I just heard on the radio again yesterday. The song always makes me think. It reminds me of typical human nature. It also reminds me of the Church. It also reminds me of me. The song is by an obscure group called Ten Years After. The song bemoans all the problems in the world and how the solutions don’t work and the chorus says:

I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So, I leave it up to you

Ah yes. Speaks to the heart of human nature doesn’t it? We’ll all just wait for someone else to come along and do it. I’m speaking on David and Goliath next Sunday as I make my way through 1 Samuel. The Israelites were singing this song until David shows up and says, “Let me at-em.” Oh, I’d love to be a David, but I don’t know what to do.

David had it easy, his giant was in the flesh, right in front of him. Who’s our giant? Where is he? Do we have the faith to go get him?

Attention Grabbers

Often we get ideas about life that are arrived at because we’ve only paid attention to attention-grabbing things. Many people have a bad view of youths because you only hear bad things about them. Old People think the world is worse than ever because all they do is watch news and news is all about people who have gotten attention.

I passed lots of cars on my bike today, but I only remember one. A white car who’s driver yelled at me to get out of the road. As if.

It’s a temptation to assume that every church in America, except yours, is a megachurch. Megachurches get all the attention, the press coverage, the big-name speakers, etc. It gives many pastors a complex–how are ALL these other churches doing it and we struggle year after year?

Christianity Today has two statistics out:

There are 1,200 Protestant megachurches (congregations with weekly attendance above 2,000) in America.

Which means that .03% of American Churches are megachurches.

I heard, and I don’t know how accurate this figure is anymore, that the average church size is 80 people. For every church with 2,000, there’s hundreds with 40. They all serve their purpose. Bottom line is, we’re all in the Body of Christ and it’s a great place to be.

What Would Jesus Dew?

Jesus apparently had some free time on his hands so he decided to show up on earth again. His latest appearance is in Bosnia, somewhat safer than showing up in Chicago like his mom. Jesus also thought it would be fun to be seen in the grain of a cut tree branch.

All kinds of desperate religiosos are flocking to the tree to pray and leave money. “The region’s Serb Orthodox bishop Vasilije visited the site and said church officials would discuss the phenomenon and advise believers how to behave. He appealed to visitors not to destroy the tree and not to leave money at the site.”

Money is better left at church.

The Lord Giveth. . .

A former church employee charged with stealing over $40,000 from his church plead guilty. His punishment includes 36 months probation, community service and paying about $3,700. Church insurance covered the rest of the loss. So the church is letting the guy get away with stealing$36,000!

Wow, that almost sounds like something Jesus would do, if He had insurance anyway.

That’ll Bring ‘Em In

A church in southern Italy is being swamped by pilgrims who have heard that a statue of the Virgin Mary has come to life several times over the weekend.

“Some of the witnesses said they had seen the statue’s ears and face turn to flesh, and some mentioned seeing a bright light.” Not sure why this is a big deal, every week pieces of bread turn into the flesh of Jesus.

The Grand Contraption Part 2

Continuing to read The Grand Contraption. He’s doing pretty good. He has done a good amount of research and handled fairly the biblical aspect of the discussion. He even throws in John Darby. Most Christians don’t know who John Darby is but Mr. Park has done his research.

However, he does throw in his comments here and there. Including a sentence “but smart people were beginning to see that the universe came into existence by chance.” Coming from his viewpoint though, that statement is true. Darwin really didn’t invent anything, his concept of chance and survival had been around for a couple thousand years already.

The book focuses on philosophy and religion being the beginning of the discussion about beginnings and then how math and science took over. If you’re into philosophy, religion or science, you just may like the book.

Civilization IV

When I bought my first computer about 10 years ago, I happened to buy Civilization II, a computer game that allows you to create your own civilization and compete for world domination over other civilizations. What a cool game it was. It’s like a really complicated chess game.

Civilization III is the only other computer game I’ve bought in the past 5 years. It is also cool. Now I see that Civilization IV is coming out and they’ve added a new twist. They are expanding the religion aspect of the game so now it is possible to develop a religion and try to proselytize the world and take over religiously. Cool.

“Religion has always played a critical part in human history. Through religion, man has sought to make sense of the universe around him and to determine his place in it. Religion has inspired, enlightened, and ennobled man. In its name, men have erected beautiful buildings, written books of great wisdom, and made music of surpassing beauty. In its name, men have also murdered and enslaved their fellows. Given the importance of religion throughout history, it seemed fitting that we should try to address it in Civilization IV. “

I’m there.

Mega-Church Mega-Pains

Several churches in New Jersey are having legal trouble over their desire to expand further. Church of the Hills wants to expand from 18,000 square feet to a 66,000 square foot building. Their application has been denied.

So what do they do? Well, they do what Jesus would do. However, it’s difficult to figure out what Jesus would do in this situation considering that the Son of Man had no place to lay His head. Ah, but if He did, I bet he would sue the Jerusalem City Council to get it.

Yup, Church of the Hills is going to court to force neighbors who don’t want them to have to have them. Three other churches in NJ are doing similar things. Is this really what Church is all about?

The Grand Contraption

The Grand Contraption: The World as Myth, Number, and Chance is the book I am currently reading. David Park takes myths of how the world got here and shows how many myths are similar to it. The Bible is the same stuff as everyone else teaches and everyone else’s stuff was there sooner, blah, blah, blah.

So far, evolution has yet to make it into his list of myths. Hmm.

It is always fun to read people handle the Bible who are doing so with an agenda and with surface knowledge. It’s interesting because often they will bring up good insights, things I never thought of before. Like, why would God keep Satan bound for only a thousand years? It’s similar to Dr. Evil putting Austin Powers in a ridiculously complex death sequence instead of just shooting him.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing just how dumb I really am for believing the Bible.

Pandora’s Jar

Often you will hear people mention Pandora’s box–Oh, don’t talk about that, you’ll open Pandora’s Box.” or some such thing. What in the world is Pandora’s Box?

Well, actually, it was a jar.

Pandora is from Greek mythology and is the first woman. She was given a jar that she was not to open, but, of course, being a woman, she opened it anyway and let out all manner of evil into the world.

This story has striking similarity to the Biblical account of Eve who was also not supposed to do something but just couldn’t help it and then ruined the whole world.

Here is an account of Pandora’s Jar.

Here is a page of links to current news stories addressing Pandora’s Box.

In But Not Of

I’ll be honest, for a change, I struggle with giving money to charitable organizations that are not spiritual in nature. Even good ones. Should I be putting money to things that help physically but do little spiritually?

I am legally blind. I have Juvenile Retinoschisis, as did my grandpa. The Foundation Fighting Blindness focuses on doing research for people who have this disease and other similar ones. I’ve been thinking about giving money to them, even thought about fund-raising for them. But, is this a proper use of my time and money?

I’m sure many people would think it was. Many probably have no clue why this decision would even be a question.

1) I tend to make decisions more complicated than they need to be.
2) When we are weak, He is made strong. The weaker we are the better.
3) Medicine is man’s attempt to reverse the curse, which raises all kinds of questions.
4) The temporal body just dies anyway, the spirit lives for eternity.
5) Blindness has benefited me in many ways, I think it could benefit others too.
6) Even if there was a cure for my eyes, I’m to chicken to do it anyway!

These are just some of my issues. What would Jesus do? He’d just spit on my face and I’d be fine. No research or fund-raising there. So, anyway, I don’t know. Aren’t we supposed to take care of those who are weak and hurting? Aren’t we supposed to care more about the eternal state of the weak and hurting?

What’s Your Family Known For?

I checked out the Points of Light blog this morning and saw this post about a statue in the Smoky Mountains. He was wondering who it was.

It reminded me of many statues I have seen here in Northern Wisconsin and in Minnesota of Paul Bunyan. I didn’t know Paul Bunyan had anything to do with the Smoky Mountains so I looked it up on the internet. Turns out Paul Bunyan has a cousin named Tony Beaver who also cuts down trees at an alarming rate in West Virginia.

Huh, who knew? You can find out more about Tony Beaver here, about halfway down the page.

Seems weird that he’d have a huge cousin instead of a huge brother or dad. Wonder what happened to the rest of the family? Did they also chop down trees in other parts of the country?

Save Toby Update

Several months ago I did a post about a guy threatening to kill and eat his pet rabbit if he didn’t raise $50,000 by June 30. June 30th was about a month ago and Toby is still alive.

The reason he’s still alive is not because enough ransom was raised. Rather, it’s because some people had his Paypal account shut down and Paypal and all other donation sites will not give him an account. So now, to save poor Toby’s life, you have to buy the Save Toby book on Amazon.com. His new day of sentencing is Thanksgiving of 2006.

The Way of the World

Back in the 80’s there was a big scare going around about the dangers of rock music. I remember sitting through videos by David Benoit who went on and on about AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and The Rolling Stone’s Sympathy for the Devil and how evil it all was.

Then, boy, you make the mistake of playing that record backwards, look out, you’re practically on your way to hell with them.

Then along came Petra.

Petra was our answer. We now had rock music of “our own.” Michael W. Smith and Petra laid the foundation for Christian Rock and it’s taken off since then. But I have just found out that after 33 years of rocking for Jesus, Petra has decided to hang it up.

Which is weird, because I thought they already had. I haven’t heard much from them lately. But, hats off to them. They had a nice run. They didn’t even have to sell their souls to the devil to get famous. Nice job guys. Thanks for the splendid memories, not biting the heads off of bats and generally keeping yourselves clean.

In-N-Out Bible Verses

In-N-Out Burgers is a fast food chain in Nevada, California and Arizona. For years they have been putting Bible verses on their cups and burger wrappers. Well, the references anyway.

A soda will get you “John 3:16.”

A milkshake will get you “Proverbs 3:5.”

A cheeseburger will get you “Revelation 3:20.”

A double burger gets you “Nahum 1:7.”

I suppose you’d like to know why this is going on? Nobody knows. It’s just the way it is. Even In-N-Out burgers doesn’t’ know when of why it started. It’ll be one of the first questions I ask when I get to heaven.

Unequally Yoked

One of the verses I will be touching on in my sermon tomorrow is 2 Corinthians 6:14–be not unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Pretty much every time I hear this verse it is related to the context of marriage–Christians shouldn’t marry heathens.

As much as I agree with that point, I can’t help but be amazed that marriage has absolutely nothing to do with Paul’s context there. 6:1 talks about working together with Christ. Chapter five talks about the temporal and the spiritual and being ambassadors for Christ.

The point of Paul’s unequally yoked comment is about practical living. We are not to be linked up with the world. If we are, we won’t be ambassadors for Christ. If we put temporal things in their context and work together with Christ, then we will be ambassadors.

How in the world did this passage get so ruined over the years? Perhaps because it has too many implications and it’s easier on our conscience to say it has to do with marriage.

How about the Church being yoked with government to get its points across?

How about believers living off the government dole?

How about believers with mortgages?

How about believers in business with unbelievers?

How about believers dependent on medication?

How about believers who go out with their buddies on Saturday night who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church on Sunday morning?

Yup, let’s just stick with marriage.

Um, Maybe Not

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which recently took the name of Jesus out of their constitution, is reconsidering their move after much hubbub was raised.

“The intent of the change in the constitution’s purpose statement was to make the language consistent with CBF’s mission. It is in Jesus Christ that CBF lives, moves and has its being. However, concerns that we remain clear about this fact in our documentation have been heard and the Coordinating Council will be asked to address this issue at our October meeting.”

Guess I’ll have to go to the grocery store now. Man, I was all ready to be raptured.

What Would Jesus Sign For?

Terrell Owens is trying to renegotiate a contract and may hold out for more money. When asked if this was bad for his image, T.O. said, “At the end of the day, I don’t have to worry about what people think of me, whether they hate me or not. People hated on Jesus. They threw stones at him and tried to kill him, so how can I complain or worry about what people think?”

It reminds me of people who are picked on for being perverts and they compare their plight to Jews in the Holocaust. Not quite the same thing.

At the same time, this article does point out some shocking resemblances between the man from Philly and the Man from Heaven.

3% Faith Is Still Pretty Tough

Even though math has now shown us that believing in the resurrection is a no-brainer, there are still doubters. In fact, did you know that Jesus is really buried in Japan?

It’s true. It was actually Jesus’ brother who was crucified, allowing Jesus to flee to Japan.

Read all about it here as the town of Shingo memorializes his burial place.

3% Faith Is Enough

A mathematician has concluded that the probability of Jesus rising from the dead is 97%. The article is somewhat detailed in the numbers, so if you’re interested, check it out, I will never be able to explain it better.

The numbers are based on this foundation, “We can’t judge the question of the resurrection unless we ask first whether there’s reason to suppose there is a God, second if we have reason to suppose he would become incarnate and third, if he did, whether he would live the sort of life Jesus did.”

An argument for God is an argument for the resurrection; an argument against God is also against the resurrection.

So, 97% is mathematically proven, so all it takes is 3% faith, perhaps equivalent to faith as big as a mustard seed?

Surely, This Has to be The End

No it’s not and stop calling me Shirley.

If Jesus-denying Baptists aren’t enough to make you anxious about the End of the World, this article will. Scientists in Japan have developed a technique to burn numbers into fingernails to the extent that the fingernail could be used as a credit card.

However, you’d have to get your numbers reburned every 6 months or so as the nail will grow out. So far, they have only done this on fingernail clippings and not real live fingernails.

It seems impossible that this would work, you’d have to burn your old fingernail clippings. People will be mugged and have really nice nails afterwards. I think the forehead would work better.

Oops

The other day I had a post entitled “Funny Cuz It’s So True” where I linked to a blog that I thought was hilarious. Then I put the wrong link in, so you may have been wondering why I thought it was so funny and where the articles were I was talking about. Well, they are still funny and I’m still laughing about the name of the blog, which can be found right here.

Sure Sign of the End

Seems like every day another “Christian” denomination is getting rid of Jesus or other crucial doctrines. But you sort of expect it from some of these groups. But look out, now a group of Baptists has made an interesting change. No doubt, the end is near.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group of 1,800 churches who oppose the conservative leadership of the Southern Baptists, has dropped the name of Jesus from its constitution.

Constitution Before: “purpose was to bring Baptists together “in order that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread throughout the world in glad obedience to the Great Commission.”

Constitution After: “purpose is “to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.”

In a defensive statement, a spokesman for the CBF said “Jesus is present in all we think, do and say in CBF, and anybody who reads that statement otherwise is not being fair to (Jesus) or us.”

Fleshly Preaching

The Apostle Paul goes into some detail about believers having two natures–the old and new man, the flesh and the spirit, the old and new nature, etc. We, of course, prefer to walk in the new, putting off the old.

There are times when I hit a particular subject in my preaching where I do believe my old nature would do a better sermon than my new nature. Wondering if any other pastors struggle with that!

There are times when it would be so nice to “let fly” on some of these issues, especially the ones that you know have hurt people. Where does righteous indignation stop and fleshly annoyance begin?

I look at some of the passages of Scripture where Jesus and Paul nail people (Matthew 23 and Galatians 3 as examples). Boy that seems fun! They had brilliant points and made them brilliantly. Apparently all in the Spirit too. But if I said those things would it be my flesh or spirit that would enjoy it most? There lies the problem.

Lack of Outrage is Outrageous

The new Harry Potter book has come out and Christian leaders who usually lead Christian protests are noticing that there’s not so much outrage anymore. Back in 1998, when the first Potter book came out, one would think the world was teetering on the brink of destruction.

But now, as the latest book has come out, it has registered barely a ripple in the Christian world. Beverly Becker of the American Library Association says that “We were hearing so many complaints, and now we’re hardly hearing any complaints at all.”

Reg Grant from Dallas Seminary says “seeing there are many lessons we can celebrate and shake hands on. I think the movies illustrated how much Christian theology has in common with the message of Harry Potter. Without the movies, we would still have a huge uproar.”

So, there. Enjoy the new book with the peace that your brother will no longer be offended, at least not by this book anyway.

Left Foot of Disfellowship

The Mormon church (latter-day saints) has had troubles over the years with people pointing out the obvious fallacies of their teaching. Since they know they can’t refute these facts, they just kick out the guys who bring them up.

Simon Southerton (view his web site exmormons.org) wrote a book about Mormonism’s claim that Native American Indians were related to the Israelites. He uses DNA research to show that, surprise surprise, Indians are not related to Jews.

He has been ordered to appear before a church council on July 31. If kicked out of the church, which he doesn’t seem to mind, he would be the seventh author from Signature Books (a publishing house focusing on Mormon studies) to be booted.

Hypocrisy or Politics?

There’s a fine line between hypocrisy and politics. Politicians compromise, that’s what politics consists of. It bugs me every time I see a politician claim to be a Christian or claim to be on the side of Christians. People who compromise make bad Christians.

John McCain has built himself up to be a conservative minded fellow, supposedly, although I’ve always had my suspicions. He claims to fight for the rights of people of faith. But really I think he just uses people of faith for their votes. He occasionally does something really stupid to tip his hand.

Here’s his latest, an appearance in the new film “Wedding Crashers.” I urge the Church, once again, be careful of them politicians, they want your vote, that’s it. They’ll drop you like a fly ball hit to Sammy Sosa.

Scroll Fragments Found

The Judean Desert has turned up another scroll fragment. It’s been about 40 years since anything this credible has come out of the area. The fragments are from the Book of Leviticus and are on two brownish pieces of animal skin, written in Hebrew.

The scrolls are currently being examined by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. No one believed any credible finds were left in the Judean Desert, but miracles never cease.

Funny Cuz It’s So True

After settling down from my latest outrage, I continued to surf the nether regions of the Christian blog world. I came across this blog which is rather funny. No, not rather funny, very funny. The name itself had me laughing for 3 minutes, no, make that four, I’m still laughing.

His posts are equally hilarious. I can especially relate to

The Next James Dobson
and
Not Quite Martin Luther, but close.

Nice job.

Get Ready For Outrage

I am having a rather relaxed Friday evening. Things are very quiet around the house. The kids are in bed, I don’t feel like watching TV and there’s 2 more hours before bed. Since I can’t ask Jesus what he would do, I figured I’d check out some of Jesus’ followers.

Seems that most leading Christians spend their free time getting outraged. If only I had something to be outraged about. Well, it just so happens that I found the perfect outrageable topic just now. I was looking through weblogs.com searching thru their recently-updated list of blogs and saw a blog with the word “pilates” in the title.

Pilates are the new exercise rage among overweight females. But something struck me as I read that title, when I read it I pronounced it as Pilate’s, or the Roman official who allowed Christ to be crucified. So I did some checking. And although this may not be accurate and or truthful, it’s at least as credible as homosexual cartoon characters.

They want you to believe that Pilates are named after Joseph Pilate, the supposed creator of these exercises. Sounds a little too convenient to me. A little digging shows that, in fact, it may not be. It may be a vast coverup, hiding a subliminal message that causes overweight women to celebrate the Roman official who is responsible for the death of my Lord. Along with body training, Pilates emphasize the necessity of mind training. This is where the trouble comes in.

It appears harmless, but Satan often dresses in sheep’s clothing. Sheep with really nice abs even. Although this may not be a serious threat, can a little more caution and outrage hurt anything?