Jesus in Court

There is a story out of Italy about two guys who are arguing over whether or not Jesus existed. The one guy, Cascioli, an atheist, is accusing Righi, a Catholic priest, “and by extension the whole Church, [that they] broke two Italian laws. The first is “Abuso di Credulita Popolare” (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is “Sostituzione di Persona,” or impersonation.”

A court in Viterbo will hear from Righi, who has yet to be indicted, at a January 27 preliminary hearing meant to determine whether the case has enough merit to go forward. “In my book, ‘The Fable of Christ,’ I present proof Jesus did not exist as a historic figure. He must now refute this by showing proof of Christ’s existence,” Cascioli said. Speaking to Reuters, Righi, 76, sounded frustrated by the case and baffled as to why Cascioli — who, like him, came from the town of Bagnoregio — singled him out in his crusade against the Church.

I haven’t commented on the story because I thought it was a bit odd. But several people have asked my opinion of it. I guess my opinion is this: it seems odd that a guy would go through so much trouble to disprove something he doesn’t believe in. If Christ is a fabrication, why waste your time with it? I don’t believe in Santa Claus, I don’t have to prove it, I just don’t believe it. Why make a scene? I guess some people need hobbies.

All For Jesus

Churches do all kinds of weird things to get people in the door. A church in Toledo, Ohio held boxing matches in their “life center.” After the boxing matches a fight broke out in the parking lot involving about 50 people. Two of those people were injured by someone driving an SUV and were taken to the hospital.

Hopefully this outreach event was considered a success, not only did it bring in new people, it also brought in a substantial amount of police officers. Everyone needs the Gospel.

Pope Reforming the Reformed

Pope Benedict met with members of Methodist and Congregational churches to encourage unity.

The pontiff made the point that the meeting with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches came on the 40th anniversary of the “Unitatis Redintegratio” papal decree committing the Catholic Church to dialogue with other churches to overcome “the tragic divisions which arose among Christians in the 16th century”, according to a statement released by the Vatican.

I’m not sure the Reformation was so tragic, I’m sure it was from the Catholic standpoint. I’ll get together and talk about unity with the pope anytime he wants. I’ll gladly join him if he denies and abolishes Catholicism and agrees with me on everything. That’s ecumenical if you ask me. Unity is easy!

Buddhist-Christian Feminist

Wow, with a title like that, you know something good is coming. Alas, so it is:

Hyun Kyung is professor of ecumenical theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and also a lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea. She first came to international attention in 1991, when she made a now famous speech — a feminist/Asian/Third World interpretation of the Holy Spirit — at the World Council of Churches in Canberra, Australia.

She will be speaking at the Amago Sanso Retreat from January 27-29. The theme of this year’s conference is “Come Holy Spirit. . .” Oh boy oh boy.

At the weekend conference, she looks forward to discussing the meaning of the Holy Spirit for women today. “For me, it’s the life force or energy that makes things alive to flourish. The Bible says this clearly — that the spirit of God is the breath and source of life — but interpretation has become dogmatic. . . We’re insulated and restricted by names and form. Look at the phrase ‘Holy Spirit.’ . . . What does it mean to you? We need to get beyond known (generally accepted) perceptions and definitions.”

Along with the speech, “the event will include plenary sessions, a variety of workshops (Zen meditation, mandalas, how to support abused women), walking a labyrinth, soaking in hot springs and hiking, as well as singing, praying and quiet time.” I think they should stick with quiet time the whole time.

The Main Character

Love is the storyline of scripture, creation’s desire to be with God. God created with full knowledge of how it would go. He provides the way of salvation by joining humanity for a time, but this is not the full answer. God joining us helps out greatly, but the real solution (made possible by Him joining us for a time) comes when creation joins Him. God provides everything in the story.

Scripture is read, analyzed, systematized and catalogued. Concordances list where every word is used. Looking up words in Greek and Hebrew is easy. Commentaries are over-abundant.

With all this knowledge, how do we end up seeing “Us” as the main character of the story?

We’re the ones who are lonely; God is the one who is perfect. Why do we settle for finding out about us from the Bible? What makes you think God wants to talk about you? By only learning about ourselves, we maintain our loneliness and replace God with “How 1 Corinthians 13 Tells You to Love Your Spouse Better.”

Improving your love for your spouse is wonderful, but 1 Corinthians 13 is describing God’s love. What better way to help a marriage than by getting spouses to see the sufficiency of Christ’s love?

Loneliness is not eliminated by learning about yourself or other people. Trying to find the answer to our need in any place other than God distances us from Him, making us settle for substitutes. God wants you to know about Him.

Genesis starts with God in eternity; Revelation ends with God in eternity. The eternal God is the main character, the Father and Friend, the Eternal Home. Read to find Him.

Anything But Church

Yesterday I wrote a post on Barna research showing the sad state of affairs in the church–no one knows the Bible, no one prays, no effect on the community, etc. Perhaps the reason why is that we cancel church on Christmas and then, two weeks later, cancel church again to have Justice Sunday 3.

In a step that could shore up support from his conservative base but might carry political risks, Sen. Rick Santorum will speak Sunday at a controversial conservative Christian rally bolstering support for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on the eve of the judge’s confirmation hearings.

Sure, we don’t know our Bibles, but everything will be fine if we get the right Supreme Court Justice. Who needs God when you have Alito? Also appearing at Justice Sunday 3, which you can have simulcast at your church so you don’t have to learn about God either, will be Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. Pat Robertson would be there but he is currently in the hospital getting his foot surgically removed from his mouth.

Chips And Dips

Forgetting computer passwords is an everyday source of frustration, but a solution may literally be at hand – in the form of computer chip implants. With a wave of his hand, Amal Graafstra, a 29-year-old entrepreneur based in Vancouver, Canada, opens his front door. With another, he logs onto his computer.

“I just don’t want to be without access to the things that I need to get access to. In the worst case scenario, if I’m in the alley naked, I want to still be able to get in (my house),” Mr Graafstra said in an interview in New York, where he is promoting the technology.

Stop going naked in the alley then. Boy, what if I’m naked in the alley? Oh no, never thought of that. Oh no, I don’t have an alley! Never mind.

Different Strokes

Pat Robertson opened his mouth again. Bet you can’t wait to hear what Moron Number One said can you? Wait no longer.

Sharon “was dividing God’s land and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU (European Union), the United Nations, or the United States of America,”

“God considers this land to be his,” Robertson said on his TV program “The 700 Club.””You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'”

That’s right, Sharon had a stroke because God is mad with what Sharon is doing to Israel. Nice. I suppose all Palestinians will have strokes now too or no?

Created With Insufficiency

The temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan is pivotal and fascinating. I’m narrowing it down to the idea of perfection. Why was Eve tempted by more if she were in perfection?

Eve had an awareness that she was not God. She knew there could be more. She wanted more. There had to be something in her brain that told her she was missing something. Again, we confuse the word perfect–sinless–for being all-sufficient. Eve knew she wasn’t sufficient, that’s why she tried to remedy the situation the way Satan suggested.

Adam and Eve went together and ate what was forbidden. How could there be something forbidden if it was a perfect place? Creation was not perfect. It was created with flaws. It was created with an innate knowledge that it was missing something.

It was missing being in God. God created something from nothing. So where did He get it from? From Himself, He spoke it into existence. Once it was out there, it wanted to go back! Who wouldn’t? Satan tried to offer a pseudo-sufficiency. It doesn’t work, no one can replace the sufficiency of Christ.

We were made to be lonely so we would be drawn to God. Blows your mind don’t it?

Searching For God Knows What

I finished reading this book, another one by Donald Miller who wrote Blue Like Jazz. He’s good. He makes good points, tends to ramble a bit and the ending was a bit anti-climactic, but I found the book enjoyable and thought-provoking.

He addresses the Gospel and how we tend to formulize it. He attempts to explain the problem with orderly people who want to orderly approach God. Faith is not always orderly, doesn’t always make sense and fit into systems. Yet we try and get to God through systems–like legalism.

He tries to explain the dynamic of knowing God the way God can be known, which is not the same as the way we try to know Him. Intriguing book. I would enjoy hearing other people’s thoughts on it after reading it.

Surveying Christianity

Surveys are almost worthless, but they can be interesting. This article talks about some Barna research and the religious trends of 2005 and looks forward to 2006. Here are the trends about Christianity in 2005:

1. Pathetic prayer. No one prays, churches don’t pray and few “worship” outside of church.
2. The continuing demise of the black church. It’s losing its effect in the Black Community.
3. The energizing of the evangelicals. Evangelicals are loud and generous.
4. Biblical illiteracy. No one has a clue what the Bible says and most Bible teachers are ill-equipped to make any sense of it other than tacking on verses to their psychological ideas.
5. Revolutionaries. People are studying God on their own in new ways and places.

So let me get this right, no one talks to God, listens to God, goes to church but we sure are loud and nice. Great. Hallelujah. Praise that one guy, what’s his name? You know, that god guy? Jesus! That’s it, Jesus. Praise Jesus!

No Lesbos

Two 16-year-olds who were expelled from a Lutheran high school because they were suspected of being lesbians have sued the school for invasion of privacy and discrimination.

The lawsuit alleges that the school’s principal, Gregory Bork, called the girls into his office, grilled them on their sexual orientation and “coerced” one girl into saying she loved the other. The next day, the lawsuit says, Bork told the girls’ parents they could not stay at the school with “those feelings.” In a Sept. 12 letter to the parents, Bork acknowledged that officials had seen no physical contact between the girls but said their friendship was “uncharacteristic of normal girl relationships and more characteristic of a lesbian one.”

“There’s a lot of hypocrisy going on here,” Hanson [the girl’s attorney] said. “The school is claiming the girls were expelled because their conduct wasn’t within the Christian code. But at the same time, (the school) has students who aren’t Christians and are even Jewish.”

The whole issue is interesting, whether to allow homosexual types into a Christian place. There should be a right to dismiss those who don’t agree but should they? My personal thought is that no one under age 18 should even be allowed to talk. This seems more like two dumb girls being dumb.

Imperfect Perfection

In the post “The Story” I talked about how God’s creation was created flawed. I’m sure that stuck out a bit because it isn’t consistent with anything we’ve ever heard about it. It stuck out to me anyway.

I looked it up. The word perfect is never used to describe the Garden of Eden. The most frequently used word to describe it is “good.” “Good” is a general term. It means beautiful, pleasing, best, wealth, etc. The Garden certainly was that. But there were still problems with it.

God said it was “not good” that Adam was alone. Adam had to keep the Garden–do work–even before the Fall (Genesis 2:15). It was not self-sustaining, it needed care, i.e.–not perfect. Satan was also in it.

I suppose we usually use the term “perfect” to mean “sinless.” If that’s how we use the word then, yes, the Garden was sinless. But creation cannot be perfect–blameless, whole, complete–because only God can be that and creation is not God.

We were created less than God–not perfect–and put in a world that was not perfect. Sin compounded the issue obviously. Now we really have no shot. The only way to be perfect is to be in God, which is possible thru Christ (Colossians 1:27,28).

Creation will be perfect when God brings it all back to Him (Romans 8:19-21). God created the world with a problem–it wasn’t Him–so He could solve it–make it all Him. You in?

End of the Spear

50 years ago this week five missionaries were speared to death in Ecuador. Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, wrote a book, End of the Spear, that is now being made into a movie. The movie comes out next Friday, not sure where.

The book and movie talk about the Auca Indians, the five missionaries, their deaths and later lives of family members of the missionaries living with the tribe. Fascinating story, even if it was a cheesy play in high school that my cheesy sister was in. I was a stage hand. What a stage it was. You too can join me in serving the Lord.

Paying For It

Missions Trips are ways for young people to go to the Bahamas and feel like they are serving God. They are also ways for well-to-do people to beg for money from everyone they know. It gets old. Churches try to do things to raise money to help the costs, to make it not seem so much like begging.

A church in Oregon has found a new way to raise funds. Their pastor came up with the idea of selling toilet paper, Angel Soft toilet paper at that. They bought a truckload and are selling it by the roll or by the case. All glory to God. Wipe for Jesus.

Brits Are God’s

The British-Israel World Federation is a strange group of people in England who believe, in part, that “the British people are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel, and are therefore the true party to God’s covenant with Israel. They also believe that the Royal Family can trace its lineage back to King David.”

You can read the article if you want more information. Strange really. I guess if the Brits are God’s chosen people it would explain why they don’t go to church, why bother, they’re already in. Word has it that Scotland Yard is making them also believe that the Brits are Muhammad’s people and Buddha’s people.

Too Christian

Cops and Robbers is a Christian comic book that recounts the lives of criminals who later came to Christ, sort of a Unshackled meets Superman idea. It is put out by the Christian Police Association in the UK. The organization and comic book have had a great affect over the years but has come under some resistance.

Scotland Yard said it will not distribute the comic without wider consultation with faith groups. “It is essential that we respond effectively to the needs of all faith groups and that the potential impact of any initiative is carefully considered,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

Des Brown, a convicted killer who now works in a Christian youth group, says he wants criminals to become Christians. “The purpose of this comic is to put forward a story that people’s lives can be changed by the power of Jesus Christ. That’s the point of the comic.”

Weird how Christians would want others to become Christians and not Muslims. Who would’a thought?

The Story

People are lonely. It seems like the first person, Adam, had it better, he had God. How could anyone be lonely with an infinite friend? But Adam was lonely.

Adam got Eve, surely now Adam won’t be lonely. But Adam and Eve fell for the oldest trick in the book–the grass is greener on the other side. They went to the other side. God left them. They are lonely together.

Loneliness is built into us. God is never lonely. He is three in one, He is solitary communion. He’s a plural singular and never alone. Creation is other than God. Since creation is not God, creation is lonely.

There is no person who can eliminate your loneliness, your desire for complete acceptance, support and assurance. Only God can answer that. And He makes you wait. He wants you to see how bad loneliness is to emphasize glorious communion with Him.

The very act of creating was to make something “flawed.” Even in its most perfect state, creation is not “perfect” because it isn’t God. Adam, the perfect man, was lonely.

The story of Scripture is about loneliness. God created something that needs Him. It takes thousands of years for creation to understand that. God waits. Creation wanders away. God provides reconciliation. Creation will be brought back into Him, that is when perfection comes, loneliness is eliminated and we become a plural singular with God.

The Bible is not a system or explanation of a formula. It’s the telling of the battle of a wounded heart. It’s about God and His desire to share His glory with creation. He loves you. He wants you. Whosoever will may come.

Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy is coach of the Indianapolis Colts. His son committed suicide December 22. He returned to coaching two days after the funeral. When asked how he could do that, Dungy said,

“There’s a story in the Bible. King David loses a son when the son dies. King David was asked how he could go on. He said, ‘My son is in heaven. This is a hurtful time. I’ll miss James. But it’s not like I don’t have any hope. I have to move forward. I have to be who I am and do what I do. I have proclaimed that I’m a Christian. If I show my best foot forward only when times are going well, that doesn’t say a lot. I’ve got to honor the Lord when things aren’t going well.”

Walk The Walk

Don Vermilyea has walked through 11 pairs of shoes and 17,703 miles across America. At a steady pace of 2 mph, walking with an 80- to 90-pound pack, he has been through 27 states. He hopes to walk across America visiting each of the 1,035 Church of the Brethren congregations that will allow him. That means zigzagging across the map through 46 of the lower 48 states by his trip’s end — estimated in 2012.

The reason he is doing this walk is to show people that they “must continue the work of Jesus: Peacefully, Simply, Together.” Which, apparently, means complaining about the whole thing, which he does for 3/4 of the article.

He is being paid $80 a week by the Brethren Church for his “service.” He has also found over $1,500 on the ground in coins and so forth as well as getting $5,000 in donations at his various stops. Hmm.

Burn Baby Burn!

Sayreville, NJ is a boring place. It becomes even more boring during Christmas break. Four teens have been charged with stealing 27 baby Jesus statues from local nativity scenes and planning on burning them.

Two of them told police they acted out of boredom, authorities said. “They were looking for things to do,” Detective Ken Kelly said. “They told us, ‘We were going to have a baby Jesus burning party.’ “The reason they picked (the Jesus figures) was because they looked real.” Kelly said one of the suspects told detectives, “We just wanted to see their heads burning.”

If convicted, these guys could spend up to five years in jail! Unreal. Five years? That’s weird to me. Maybe not more weird than trying to burn baby Jesus, but still weird.

Not So Well Wellness

A Phoenix church is in the final steps to completing their $10 million expansion project. The new “wellness center” “will feature fitness areas, a gymnasium with basketball courts, a spa and Jacuzzi, massage rooms, a salon, a culinary studio, a staging area for church programs and on-site nurse practitioners.”

The church envisions providing a place for its worshipers to help enhance their minds, bodies and souls, said Richard Yarbough, church elder and administrator. “We want to help a population that is underserved when it comes to (this) awareness,” he said.

Chautaqua Smith, 22, who has been attending the church since age 13, likes the idea of having a hair salon on site. She commutes from her Ahwatukee home to the downtown church. “How many people out there can say they have a full-service salon in their church?” she said. “I think it’s the neatest thing in the world.”

Stories like this depress me. I just don’t see the Bible supporting the idea that the Church should use all its resources on itself. There’s this thing called “the world” that we’re supposed to be loving. Yes, we are to take care of the brethren especially. But if you spend $10 million on yourself, you should have an equally expensive project for the wellness of the world’s eternal souls. Just my opinion.

Religiously

Every New Years Day I make an effort to have a freed-up schedule so I can just watch football all day. You know me, I’m a romantic, sentimental type who enjoys keeping traditions. I keep this one pretty well, keeping it well today for sure.

Whenever I watch college football I think of my Grandpa Massey who would root religiously. I don’t mean that he turned football into a religion, but he would root according to the religious affiliation of the school, if any. He hated Notre Dame, never wanted to see them Catholics win. He also hated BYU, Boston College, and any school from Utah.

Today Ohio State is playing Notre Dame and I know if my grandpa were still around he’d be rooting for Ohio State big time. So, go Buckeyes and Happy New Year!

That’s My King

“That is My King” was a powerful sermon preached by SM Lockridge, who used to pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in the San Diego area some years ago. His powerful and poetic sermon has been preached in many churches all over the nation, and the “Harvest Holler” still inspires people today.

The audio of the sermon can be heard on many web sites, including the one linked to, but now a new video has come out to further the experience.

“When you listen to the passion in Pastor Lockridge’s voice, combined with the great music track and visual images, one cannot come away with out being moved or changing in some powerful or positive way.” The video can be viewed at http://www.thatismyking.com.

Schuller Begat Schuller

Robert Schuller Sr. announced yesterday that his son, cleverly named Robert Schuller, will succeed him as pastor of the Crystal Cathedral.

As founding pastor of the church, the elder Schuller, now 79, is considered one of the most influential religious leaders in the country. He plans to remain chairman of the board of international ministries and stay active in the church.

“My father and I will continue as pulpit partners on many Sunday mornings for years to come,” the younger Schuller said.

The Crystal Cathedral is part of the Reformed Church and is their largest congregation. The Crystal Cathedral, as I understand, was made huge and shiny so when Christ came back He would see it better or some such thing. He is also considered to be a heretic by many. As annoying as that is, I also get tired of hearing them breath while preaching. Clean your nose out man.

Roses Are Red. . .

The legend goes like this: Tournament of Roses officials decreed in 1893 that the Rose Parade would never be held on Sunday so that it would not interfere with the churches that lined Colorado Boulevard. Since then, planners have been rewarded–some say divinely–with only nine rainy parades, the last one in 1955.

It looks like tomorrow’s parade will be wet though, causing concern for the executive vice president, who acts as the weatherman as well, for the tournament of roses. To keep the rain away he’s visited dozens of churches in Pasadena trying to secure God’s good graces and asking, “Please bless us with a window of sunshine.”

Friends have e-mailed him reminders to say his prayers and given him books about the weather. He’s even considered burning incense or doing an anti-rain dance.”

We’ll see if God favors their no Sunday rule tomorrow. Perhaps it’s judgment on those homoseksuals out there who just love a parade.

On Fire For Christ

United Church of Primghar in Iowa was burned on December 3 after a candle was left burning following a wedding. In order to raise money for repairs (estimated at $500,000), the church is selling t-shirts.

The front of the shirts feature a quote taken from the Rev. Howard Campbell, who ended a Sunday service just hours after the fire with this explanation: “Soot happens.” The back of the shirts read: “United Church of Primghar: A Church on Fire for Christ.”

The church offices moved to a local savings and loan building and services are held at the community center. Way to adjust. Good luck selling shirts.

Free House

New Year’s Eve services can be corny. A church in Texas was going to give away a free house at their service. A family of four won it and are quite happy. They were planning on moving out of their mobile home into a house in a few months. Now they can in a few weeks.

“You can go to the house of the Lord and have a good time also,” said Pastor Walter Hallam. “This is a real special service. This is a unique thing.”

Indeed, because the only way to have a good time at the house of the Lord is if you get free stuff. Of course, learning about the Bible is not much fun at all. Oh well.

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