Alice Cooper And Jesus

Here’s an article on Alice Cooper I found from a link from Milton at Transforming Sermons. Some interesting stuff about his life as a hard rocker and his conversion to Christianity. He also talks about Christian’s response to him now that he is a professed believer.

“I’m the first one to rock as loud as I can, but when it comes to what I believe, I’m the first one to defend it too,” he said. “It has also gotten me in trouble with the staunch Christians who believe that in order to be a Christian you have to be on your knees 24 hours a day in a closet somewhere.

Hey, maybe some people can live like that, but I don’t think that’s the way God expected us to live. When Christ came back, He hung out with the whores, the drunks and miscreants because they were people that needed Him. Christ never spent His time with the Pharisees.”

Rock on Alice!

Dividing Your ABC’s

The American Baptist Churches USA (which really seems repetitious to me, could there be an American Baptist Churches Canada?) is heading for a split over the homosexual question.

Ironically enough, the dispute arises from churches in the Pacific Southwest that want the national denomination to correct national churches who are allowing liberal gay policies to exist. You know when churches in CA are correcting you, it must be pretty bad.

Shakespeare’s Church


William Shakespeare was an off-color, racey author of plays back in his day. Much of what he did was scandalous in his age. However, that doesn’t stop him from being idolized even by Christian types who boycott Desperate Housewives, which is just an updated form of Shakespeare.

Anyway, Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and buried there in 1616. The church is badly in need of repairs so the Friend’s of Shakespeare’s Church have been raising funds for the repairs.

The construction will not prevent tourists from visiting or interrupt regular services. The cost of repairs will near 2.5 million pounds (British money for those of you who read the NIV). I’m sure God is thrilled.

Fantasy Church

Several times people who “attend” my church have asked my wife if I notice when they are gone and whether or not it bugs me. Yes, I do notice, yes it does bug me and yes, my wife does talk to me.

One of the toughest parts of being a pastor is that you begin to care for people. You learn their struggles and problems and the one thing I’m supposed to do for them (bring them closer to Christ) they won’t let me do because they stay home from church. Frustrating.

Why is it the worse someone’s life is the more they stay home from church? Or should I ask it another way, why is it that the more people stay home from church the worse their life gets?

Pastors can’t help but notice who’s there or not and get discouraged greatly by the absence of many who could have been helped by coming. However, according to the Gospels, when life serves you lemons, you make lemonade (I covered that one Sunday when you weren‘t there).

To make your church skipping more fun for me, I have devised a new sports fantasy league, that’s right, my very own Church Fantasy League. Saturday nights I draft players, one man, one woman and one child. They get points like this:

Sunday morning attendance: 5
Helping in Sunday School: 10
Bringing the rest of your family: 10
Using your Bible to follow the sermon: 10
Telling pastor he had a good sermon: -10
Telling pastor specifically what was good and how it impacted your life: 10
Telling pastor you will be there and then not showing up: -20

Perhaps I could arrange a draft and you all could pick people from my church for your team and compete. T’would be fun, no?!

It’s In The Bag

Femme Sud is a designer of “accessories.” Their latest accessory is a Bible hand bag.

Each book-shaped Bible bag is nearly twice the size of a standard-issue Gideon Good Book and comes with vamp-red lipstick and a coin purse that says “Pennies from Heaven,” the New York Post reports.

You can check out their line of Bible clutches here. Only $495. According to the article about them, if you are trying to find a man, getting one of these bags is a sure fire way to do so. Men like Bible bags, and Bible handbags for that matter.

Blasphemy!

Cemeteries are largely a waste of space. Imagine all the nice golf courses we could have if it weren’t for cemeteries. Or, imagine how much bigger O’Hare airport could be without them.

A suburban Chicago church has reject an offer of $630,000 from O’Hare to buy their cemetery to expand the airport. The rejection letter from this church said, “As a Christian congregation, we find this proposal entirely unacceptable and even blasphemous.”

I can understand this being inappropriate and so forth, but blasphemous? I thought blasphemy was a charge against God? God isn’t in that cemetery.

This is probably all a ploy to make O’Hare offer them more money. For a cool million they would, no doubt, be willing to reconsider the definition of “blasphemy.”

Salvation And Change

I read an article by Pip Coburn in the May Fast Company Magazine. In it he said, “People change habits when the pain of their current situation exceeds their perceived pain of adopting a possible solution.” My experience with buying a new computer this past week backs that up!

What does this mean in terms of the Gospel? When you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ your life takes a complete turn, you’re made a new creation in Christ and a new life ensues. In order for a person to make that shift, their current life has to be worse off than the pain of giving it up.

Giving up fun sins is tough. You may have to avoid certain people and places that were not problems before. That can be painful. Living according to the dictates of the Spirit can seem infinitely painful.

Because of the perceived pain of being a Christian, most people wait until their life hits rock bottom. Pretty much everything has to blow up before they will submit to the pain of being a believer. Ah, but some people see their current pain and the pain of Christianity seems easier!

How does change effect us who are saved? What about changing some of our theological beliefs we grew up with but never fully thought through? What about ridiculous legalism we force on others? Change is not easy but it’s necessary. Only eternity will lack change.

Parental Guidance Suggested

The University of Oregon, long known for its stunning intellectual contributions to society, has several student run newspapers. One of them published cartoons of Muhammad. Well, another one decided to get even by publishing cartoons of Jesus.

The Catholic League is now trying to get the school to pull the offensive pictures, two of which are shown at the link above. I warn you first, you don’t want to see them, but I also know that by saying that you will go look at them. So go ahead and look.

Russian Icons Freaking Out

Lately, religious icons in Russia have been having nervous breakdowns. An exhibit of religious art was closed when ten icons began crying resin type stuff. The workers got scared, closed the doors, called the priests to come and pray over them. The doors were then reopened.

In another town in Russia, several icons began crying “oily liquid.” No matter what they tried to do to get the oil off the statues, it just kept coming back. In yet another Russian town, a woman’s house has several icons that have been crying honey for years now.

Although many look at this as evidence that God is there and that He cares, I tend to think having statues cry all over is not that big of a deal. I have three people in my house who cry daily for hours at a time. I have also prayed over them, to no avail. Come see the Crying Children of Rhinelander. $4 at the door. It’ll make you believe.

Stupid Religionists

Loyal Anti-Itch reader, Warren, sent me this link from Wikipedia about relgiosity and intelligence. It is an article on studies of the intelligence of people based on their level of religious commitment. A sample quote:

All but four of the forty-three polls listed support the conclusion that native intelligence varies inversely with degree of religious faith; i.e., that, other factors being equal, the more intelligent a person is, the less religious he is.

Two things. 1) To some extent I would agree. People who are steeped in religion tend to be dumb. Seriously, the Bible Belt in the US is down South and the worst schools in our nation tend to be there as well. Dumb people are drawn to religion.

2) All that being said, I do think Christianity would be well served if we had some smart people now and then, people who were creative and go-getters.

So, in conclusion, this should be an annoyance for those who believe in Christ that perhaps we could apply a little more intellectual energy to our lives. At the same time, being religious is not the same as being a Christian! Beware the dangers of religion!

Then you can throw in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, and, if you’re intelligent, you know what I mean.

Salvation Through The Ages

Salvation has always been by faith but it has been expressed differently based on who God was dealing with. He was dealing with individuals until the establishment of the nation of Israel. Once Israel was a nation and God revealed His Law, salvation became a national concern.

Now, after the finished work of Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. But when the Kingdom is established with Messiah at the helm, nations are brought back into the picture. Matthew 25:31-33 talks about Christ reigning and the nations being split into goat and sheep nations.

Faith means hearing God’s Word. Under the Law individuals living in Israel were to listen to their government, which was a theocracy. There was little to no difference between God’s rule and the nation’s rule. Israel’s Law was God’s Word for them.

Individuals needed to follow the Law or use the sacrifices and priests to make amends. That was how they expressed faith. If all the individuals in Israel were to listen God would bless them with land and stuff. This will fully be realized in the Kingdom when God controls them through His Spirit.

As I said, however, salvation is always talked about on a national level under the Law. When John and Jesus came talking about individual salvation, being born again as Jesus said in John 3, that would have been completely new to them. Even more new was the idea that Gentiles could be saved the same way.

Israel has been set aside now as a nation. The end of Acts 28 shows the finality. The Kingdom is now delayed. Israel has lost their exclusivity and now individuals from all nations can receive salvation.

Personal Jesus

Caught in the Middle has a good post on telling people to have a “personal relationship with Jesus.” He examines this idea through looking at people who actually did have a personal relationship with Him–the disciples.

They didn’t drop their nets and close their shops because they needed a new friend. They left everything behind to join a movement of God that was finding fulfillment in Jesus.

Thought provoking post. Thanks to Milton Stanley at Transforming Sermons for the link.

No Green Jesus

A kindergarten student made an environmental poster that included Jesus. School administrators folded the poster so as not to show the Jesus figure and violate other kindergartener’s religious freedom.

The case went to court, of course, because that’s the only reason Christian parents make their children put Jesus on posters, but the case was rejected by the Supreme Court yesterday. The case was to be over whether his free speech right was violated.

The boy who did the poster is now in 6th grade, this poster was made in 1999. Nothing like drawing a thing out. As long as it’s not drawing out Jesus it should be OK.

Who Is The Greatest?

Every once in awhile it is nice to see that other religions struggle with problems that Christianity struggles with. It’s encouraging to know that human nature is still human nature. It’s also a wakeup to Christianity to know how easy it could be to show that we were on the right track.

The battle over a $500 million religious empire, marked by beatings, break-ins and a street riot, likely will escalate with yesterday’s death of Grand Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum, leader of the ultra-orthodox Satmar sect of Hasidic Jews.

The Rabbi’s two sons have been duking it out in court for five years to see who gets to run the empire which includes a congregation, real estate, schools, businesses and other social service organizations.

Ahhh, takes you back doesn’t it?

OT Salvation

I’m trying to develop a thought, sort of thinking out blog, about repentance and salvation in the OT as compared with the NT, particular the distinction under the Mosaic Law as compared with now. There are some huge differences.

As I was trying to explain in my posts about repentance, people were not told to individually repent for their sins. Repent is used for being sad but only two or three times in relation to turning from sin. When the Law tells people to turn, it addresses it to the Nation, not the individual.

This got me to thinking further, what did a guy under the Mosaic Law think of when he thought of salvation? Did he even consider personal salvation? A brief glimpse through the concordance for “saved” and “salvation” show that these are used primarily in relation to the nation not the person.

Again, individual people were saved (see Isaiah 45:22 but also notice it sums it up in 45:25 that it’s all about the Nation), but the large extent of the salvation message was to the Nation.

Consider also–God’s Spirit indwelt the tabernacle in the Nation not the individual body of each Israelite. Salvation did not consist of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the believer.

I would enjoy your feedback on this partial, incoherent thought but also know there is more coming as I develop this thought.

Satan’s Day

June 6 this year will be an interesting date, at least some people think so. It will be 6/6/06. This day, although not exactly 666, is pretty close and that’s good enough.

Marketers have jumped all over that date to help sell their products. The remake of “the Omen” is scheduled for release on that day. Ann Coulter’s new book “Godless” is also scheduled for release on that day.

On June 6 I plan on cowering in the corner all day for fear that Satan will explode on to the scene and destroy us all.

Kenyan Catholics Argue Over Music!

Music is a tool of the devil to ruin churches. It is now causing trouble in the Catholic Church in Kenya. The problem is that choir directors are introducing new songs to the Catholic liturgy that are not consistent with Catholicism. They are also dancing.

The bishop, who chairs the liturgy commission of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, said scrutinizing church music and streamlining dancing should not be construed to mean the church was against this form of praise to God.

The higher-ups are going through and standardizing the music and accepted dance for the liturgy. Nice to see the devil foiling himself now.

Roman Advertising

Hanging promotional posters on construction scaffolding is a common practice in Italy. Recently a church in Rome was being renovated so a poster was hung on the scaffolding outside it. This didn’t go over real well with the church as the ad was for the Da Vinci Code movie!

The Rev. Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for Rome’s Vicariate, said the poster was “causing a problem.” “This movie is not reputed to be particularly appreciated by ecclesiastic circles,” Fibbi said.

That means–“churches hate this movie,” for those of you who read the NIV. The Italian government, which owns the church, will remove it soon.

Sincerest Apologies

My blogging has been a bit off lately, I apologize deeply from the depths of my heart. Blogger itself was giving me troubles and then I bought a new computer and I’m trying to get that all squared away. I have not yet lost my testimony but only because no one is in the basement here with me.

Stupid stupid stupid. Anyway, for fear that I may yet lose my testimony if I continue to speak of this, I will stop. Life as usual will resume shortly.

Turning To God

Last week I did a few posts on the word “repent.” Repentance, in relationship to salvation, means to turn. You make a choice to turn from sin and turn to God. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 is a good example of repentance in action.

One of the major differences between Law and Grace is who God is dealing with. Under the Mosaic Law God is dealing with Israel as a nation. He often tells them about the day when they will turn from their sin and follow God in reference to the Kingdom when Messiah will reign.

When John the Baptist and Jesus Himself came preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins, this had to be somewhat of a shock. Individuals could repent of sin and come to God and be saved! This is out of character for what we’ve seen with turning in the OT.

Turning to God for salvation in the OT was largely under the context of the Nation rather than the individual. God’s Kingdom consisted of a Nation in a Land. God’s people now consists of individuals who have come to Christ regardless of nationality or land.

Certainly it took individuals to turn if the nation were going to, but if you read the passages talking about the restoration of the Israelite Kingdom you will note it’s used in regard to the nation, not the individual.

The great thing about salvation in our day is the glory of it is not dependent on others! It’s dependent on you getting yourself right with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Israel has to wait for God to move in them collectively to get their Nation glorified. Again, thank God for grace and the freedom we have as individuals to enter the throne of grace with boldness.

Crossing The Dan

The Church of God at the Crossing of the Dan opened its doors for the first time on Saturday and Sunday of Easter weekend. The pastor who started this church used to do all manner of sin but then became a pastor and now he has started his own church. Presumably he is not continuing to do the all manner of sin anymore.

But, according to Foster, he never plans out a sermon. “I just go to the pulpit, open the Bible and say what God wants me to say,” Foster said.

Foster was not sure how many people attended those first two services, but said, “Lets put it this way … God was here, so it was a full house.”

Sounds like a keeper.

Contacting The Weird

A pay-per view seance is airing on television tonight where they claim to have gotten in contact with the spirit of John Lennon who was killed 25 years ago.

Filming of the show “suddenly stops and a narrator says something odd has happened. They then claim that a mysterious voice can be heard on the voice feed of one of the psychics.”

The producers then call in “EVP specialist” Sandra Belanger to examine the voice and she proclaims it the real deal. “That’s very consistent with a Class A EVP,” she said, regarding the level and clarity of the voice. She also says the voice sounds like how Lennon would have talked.

A similar show aired last year trying to get Princess Diana and it didn’t work, but the show grossed over $8 million. People are weird.

Slam Dunk

The numbers for the 2005 season of Southern Baptist Church Going has come to an end and there is a statistic that has caused alarm amongst SB’ers–baptisms are down over 4%! That correlates to 16,097 fewer baptisms than 2004.

What to do? Here are a few suggestions to help out my SB brethren get more baptisms.

-Turn baptismal into a hot tub and offer hot tub time with free manicures.
-Give away $100 of gas for each person getting baptized.
-Switch to sprinkling from dunking and buy fire hoses.
-Cancel church on Christmas.
-Write three more verses of “Just As I Am.”
-Eliminate lying from the list of sins and then go ahead and fudge the numbers from First Baptist of Pox Hollow.
-Stop cheapening baptism by worrying about numbers.

What Is Repentance?

So John and Jesus brought a new message of repentance, it was different from the OT message of obey or die. What is repentance for us?

Repentance means to turn from sin and turn to God. Do we do this every time we sin? Is repentance something that should mark the life of a believer? Is God gooder to us if we repent for every sin?

Repentance, in my Book, which just so happens to be God’s book as well, is a one time deal. Repent and be saved is the message (Acts 3:19). Repentance is acknowledging you lead a life of sin and now you are turning to God. Now that you have turned to God, you have, no need to turn back, you are already with Him, seated in heaven.

Do we still sin? Yes, but sin does not separate us from God’s love, Christ already took care of it with that “It is finished” business. Paul, in his words before Festus, explains exactly how repentance fits into the life of a believer, “. . . they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20).

We repent once then we are saved (Hebrews 6:4-6–to repent again would require Christ to be crucified again) . Now that we are saved we are to do things that show we repented. If you acknowledge that sin is wrong and you now follow Christ, why walk in the old? Repentance is a good deal. It’s done once and then lived for eternity.

I. P. Freely

Brixton Jail in London is undergoing construction to accommodate Muslim prisoners. The problem is that the old jail’s toilets forced Muslims to have to relieve themselves while facing Mecca, something which is against Muslim legalism.

“The refurbishment has been carried out with due consideration for all faiths”, a Home Office spokeswoman said. “Following consultation with faith leaders within the prison, various small adjustments were made to ensure the faith issues of all prisoners are taken into account.”

All faiths can pee freely now. Except for Christians who can no longer pretend they are peeing in the direction of Mecca through protest. I’m sure Muhammad is sleeping better now that this matter has been resolved.

Not So Super Anymore

State Museum at Majdanek, a former Nazi concentration camp, has cancelled plans to host a showing of Jesus Christ Superstar! The museum is often host to various cultural and religious events but this one didn’t quite seem to fit in as well. After objections raised by Jewish leaders, the museum decided to pull the plans to show the musical that looks at the last days of Jesus Christ.

“It was not a good idea. It did not take into consideration the relations between Christianity and Judaism,” Balawejder told the Associated Press. “I decided that there will be no performance because we must stick to the message of the museum, which is truth, memory, reconciliation.”

I don’t even understand how they could have planned it in the first place. Oops. Jesus will have to move elsewhere.

Coffee At Church

Back when I was in seminary in St. Paul, MN I used to work at a rather large church and one of my tasks on Sunday mornings was to make a huge pot of coffee for one of the small group classes. This is rather funny because I don’t like coffee and my coffee experience previously consisted of smelling it from time to time.

Even though I watched the guy make the stuff and listened to his directions, I just don’t think I ever got it down. For some reason, when I made coffee there was a lot left over. Then there was the day I forgot to put the filter in.

I’m guessing that Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in northern Maine had a guy like me working there. One of their parishioners three years ago had a cup of bad coffee. He accused the church of trying to poison him. So he retaliated by poisoning all of their coffee. Only problem was, he ended up killing someone and injuring 15 others. Only now has the motive been revealed, all due to bad coffee.

Perhaps this is why more and more churches have Starbucks in them.

Repentance And John Da Babdist

I’ll probably get in trouble with my dispensational pals on this one, but here goes. Most dispensational types believe that there was a transition between Law and Grace. Law was being phased out as God was revealing through Paul the new system of Grace. But when did that transition begin?

Luke 16:16 is an interesting passage in light of that question. “The law and prophets were until John.” John the Baptist had a very simple message summed up in Matthew 3:2, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John’s message was “repent!” As was noted earlier, repentance is not a Law word, it’s a Grace word. I challenge you to find me any example under Law where the message began to the people hearing it with “Repent!” You can’t find it (only in Ezekiel when speaking of the Kingdom in the future). But you find it all over the Gospels.

When John told people to Repent, they would have taken notice. Repent? What’s that all about? If you were bad before you would be punished or you had to pay through sacrifice, there was no repentance. Repentance was something completely new. The transition to Grace, a time when you could repent and receive goodness from God, had begun.

Repent!

Usually when we hear the word “repent” we envision the bearded man with wild eyes screaming at people over outstretched arm and pointed finger. We probably associate the word more with the Law than Grace.

“Repent” is not a Law word at all. In fact, repenting has nothing to do with the law. Repentance means to admit fault and apologize. The Law very clearly said, “disobey and you’re toast.” God didn’t much care if you were sorry or repentant. Ask David.

Repentance is actually more a Grace word. Repentance is what brings about a change, a second chance. Romans 2:4 says it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance. God’s goodness is seen in Grace, which is why a person would repent and turn to God.

If you look up “repent” in your concordance you will note that it’s really not used much at all. In the OT it’s primarily used of God and usually in reference to just feeling bad. The common use of repentance, to turn from, is only used two times in Ezekiel 14:6 and 18:30 (this is more obvious if you have the Strong’s numbers listed). Both these uses deal with the future restoration of the Nation.

All that to say that repentance is only possible through God’s grace. It’s really a nice word through what it implies. I’ll develop the thought further with another interesting note on John the Baptist in a bit.

Christians Taking A Stand

Christians have lost their backbone. We’ve all but thrown away any doctrinal distinctives our faith has and we’ve let culture overpower our churches. But every once in awhile a Christian will stand up for something and totally shock you. But then you see what it is that makes a Christian stand up and then you feel even worse.

Our pals at Focus on Jesus Christ, or sorry, Focus on the Family, have begun an ad campaign in California to defeat the 4-year old kindergarten program. The ad says in part, “Child development experts agree: The best place for a 4-year-old child is in a healthy home environment. Instead, Proposition 82 will increase the state’s influence over children and families.”

Obviously I agree that the best place for a child to mature is in a stable home, something California has lots of. But the further irony is that this new program will increase kindergarten attendance by only 4% as most 4-year olds are already involved with some sort of academic program, usually called pre-school.

Ah, but have no fear, one of America’s leading Christian organizations will spend time and money to defeat such an overwhelmingly satanic program.

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