Confused Confession

A reporter has garnered condemnation from the Catholic Church for an expose he did on confession. The reporter went to 24 priests in five Italian cities to confess sins to see if the priests were consistent with each other.

The reporter, for example, told two priests he was HIV-positive and wondered whether he should use a condom when having sexual relations with his girlfriend. One told him no, and the other said it was a question of conscience, the magazine reported.

More than once, the magazine said, priests gave quite different advice on his supposed “sins,” which included matters relating to homosexuality, divorce, stem-cell research, euthanasia and prostitution. One issue that found unanimous condemnation by confessors was abortion, the magazine said.

The Bigger They Are. . .

National Review Online has pointed out that Rick Warren is the guy you need approval by to prove you are indeed a politician who respects religion.

It’s the Rick Warren election —Romney cited Purpose- Driven evangelical Rick Warren twice tonight extemporaneously, Obama and Brownback have been to Warren’s church…

Who will show up at Warren’s church next?

It’s long been a point of Scripture that when church leaders get involved with political leaders, the church gets hurt and let down. Will Warren be the next Ted Haggard?

(Thanks to HolyCoast.com via Smart Christian for the link.)

Reflections On Being Jesus

Ted Neeley has played Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar for 35 years now. He shares his thoughts on what it’s like to be Jesus and the protests he had to get by in the beginning of the show’s run on Broadway.

The notion that part of Jesus’ life was made into a rock opera was considered blasphemous by some. It was a difficult time. “I remember going through those picket lines, fighting my way through to go in to work and I would ask the folks if they had seen the show,” he says.

“No one who was picketing had seen the show, so I would invite them in. Those who had the courage to come in would see the show — and love it.” So in the last few decades, the play has become a theatre standard and Neeley has played the role longer than Jesus was alive.

Christian Reflections

I began reading this book about a week and a half ago, it was tough sledding for awhile. The first 80 pages were way over my head, had very little concept about what he was trying to say. The book contains articles on various topics, the first several topics held no interest for me.

But then Lewis and I hit a stride, I thought the final 90 pages were brilliant. The following chapters were exceedingly wonderful, ok, that might be an exaggeration, they were good.

The Funeral of a Great Myth
On Church Music
(I absolutely agree with him in this chapter, couldn’t have said it better myself. Here’s his best quote on the subject: “What I, like many other laymen, chiefly desire in church are fewer, better, and shorter hymns; especially fewer.”)
Historicism
The Psalms
Petitionary Prayer
.

The book is worth it just for these couple of chapters. Good insights from a very analytical mind.

Shepherding Shepherds

Read a quote by C. S. Lewis today that I thought was pretty good.

“The proper study of shepherds is sheep, not other shepherds.”

The context of the quote was in an article telling theologians his viewpoints of higher theological criticism and opinion. He said he thought the church leaders (his primary audience was Church of England leaders) spent too much time with each other rather than their people.

If you surround yourself with people who think as you do in terms like you do you lose touch with the “outsiders.”

Most pastoral advice is written by and for pastors and it all has to do with running your church as other successful pastors (shepherds) did. Other shepherds read it, take it home and force it upon their sheep.

Do all sheep have the same needs and are they all met the same way? Lewis’ opinion is that shepherds should study sheep, since they are caring for them not other shepherds, rather than spending all their time studying other shepherds. Makes sense to me.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

Here’s an article about the use of tacky advertising to spread the Gospel along U. S. highways. They focus in on a stretch of I-71 in Ohio where several billboards tell people that “Jesus is real” and “Hell is real” along with the 60-foot tall Jesus statue.

The guy who started doing all this says, “The Lord called me to do this about three years ago,” said Harston, adding God cured him of cancer at that time. “I fear the Lord, and I have to do this or face the consequences.”

My favorite sign of his said, “Use the rod on your children and save their life.” We need more signs like that in this world. One could be put up in front of my house.

Antichrist’s Tool Used For Jesus

Teenagers’ use of the Internet for spiritual or religious experience grew by 200 percent between 1998 and 2001, according to a study by the Barna Research Group. Forty-six percent of teens expected to use the Internet to talk about what they believe.

Youth pastors across the country are embracing this non-traditional evangelism, chatting with students over AOL Instant Messenger and creating MySpace profiles.

This would be OK except for the fact that they’re probably listening to U2 while web browsing.

U2-Charist

The Pope may have condemned rock music as “anti-religion” but the Church of England has announced it is to use the songs of a global supergroup in an effort to boost congregations.

The first “U2-charist” in England, an adapted Holy Communion service that uses the Irish rock group’s best-selling songs in place of hymns, is to be staged at a Lincoln church in May.

Ah yes, this story has been developing over the years and the same thing has been done a few times. The C of E has obviously sunk low enough to need it too.

I know, let’s make God’s word more palatable by having a bunch of hard drinking Irishmen spew it.

Satanic Homosexuals

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said Monday he would never allow a gay parade to take place in Moscow despite pressure from the West, Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency reports. “Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as Satanic.”

He even has that opinion without any Russian National Evangelical Associations. Amazing.

Cashing In

The male prostitute that brought down Ted Haggard visited Ted’s church on Sunday. He’s doing research for a new book he’s writing about his experience with Ted to make a little cash, a little filthy lucre, if you will.

“They were all congenial,” he said. “None of them expressed anger, and many expressed gratitude for what they said was ‘exposing the deception.’ ”

Be Thankful For The Mother You Have

A 69-year old woman has been arrested for trespassing on an army base during a protest.

When Syracusan Julienne Oldfield trespassed at the Army base at Fort Benning, Ga., Nov. 19, she was following the example of Jesus Christ, she says. “I do not believe in violence,” she said. “Christ came to show us there are other ways, humane ways, to deal with conflict.”

I think it’s funny when people say Jesus was a bringer of peace because that’s not at all what he said. He said he did not come to bring peace but a sword. He told his followers, after he left, to carry swords with them. He drove money changers out with a whip. He said that we will hear of wars and rumors of wars and that’s ok, there has to be wars.

The words of Christ are much more difficult to follow than blanket statements about peace. Submitting to crucifixion hardly seems to be a “humane way to deal with conflict.”

Sermon Audio

Many people talk about being saved, but do they really know what they’ve been saved from? Salvation means “to be delivered,” and we’ve been delivered and need continual deliverance from a long list of things. Here’s what they are.

It’s amazing how often families in the Bible fight with each other. It seems the entire history of the family is filled with arguing and bickering. Why is it so hard to get along with each other? Because we have a hard time getting along with ourselves!

Bring Out Your Dead

The body of a British woman was kept secretly for four months by her mother, who hoped that because their home was near to the Catholic sanctuary of Lourdes a miracle would lead to her resurrection.

Suspicions that something weird was going on came as a result of the 11-year old daughter (the grand-daughter of the woman who decided to keep the dead body of her daughter) being very withdrawn, especially around Christmas. Police investigated and found the woman dead and in her bed after having died in September.

Wow. It’s amazing what people put their kids through for the sake of weird religious beliefs. The woman who died refused medical treatment expecting a miracle. Even after death, her mother kept expecting one.

Each year, about 6 million pilgrims visit Lourdes in the hope of a miracle cure. Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared to a young miller’s daughter inside a cave below the town in 1858. The apparitions of Lourdes were officially recognised by the Church in January 1862. Shortly afterwards a railway was built to bring Christians to the town.

It’s also weird what religions will sanction and get their people to believe. Luckily, the Catholic Church keeps rolling on regardless of how they are destroying people.

Pastor Poaching

Kevin Thompson, 48, of San Leandro, California, was sentenced yesterday afternoon to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay $100,000 restitution for his role in catching thousands of undersized juvenile leopard sharks out of the San Francisco Bay and selling them to aquarium dealers in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

What makes this story interesting is that Mr. Thompson is a pastor and several members of his church were involved in the illegal capture and sale of these fish. They have all been charged and have pleaded guilty.

The church they belong to is, Bay Area Family Church, Holy Spirit Association for Unification of World Christianity (the “Church”). How’s that for a church name? Sounds like the kind of church that would be involved in illegal poaching for some reason.

Jesus Buddha

In a fusion of Indian and Western spiritual streams, an idol of Jesus Christ resembling the Buddha meditating under a ‘bodhi’ tree is to be consecrated in a Church prayer hall.

The idol in golden-and-copper hues installed in the meditation hall named ‘Jagat Jyoti Mandir’, built by the Catholic church at Parimanam village, depicts the Christ sitting cross-legged in ‘padmasanam’ posture with his right hand raised showing the ‘yogic mudra’ and the left hand resting on the lap.

“It is an attempt in incarnating the Christian experience in the religious ethos of India by bringing about a blending of Western and Indian art forms to transfuse the Christian theology in Indian motifs. The mandir will provide the right ambience for meditation,” said Fr Romance Antony, Director of the Quilon Service Society under the Kollam Catholic diocese.

I’m sure many will benefit from the mixing of heretical religions. Does heresy get worse if mixed with other heresies or does it just remain one heresy?

Jesus On Ice

Flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir will act out Jesus Christ’s life when he performs his long program Saturday at the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Wash.

“In no way am I portraying the actual entity of Jesus,” Weir told the Inquirer. “I’m just performing the story of his life. It’s an interesting concept, an interesting idea to push myself forward and make myself better. It has nothing to do with anything else.”

The story quoted from is not linked to here because it is from a gay web site (Advocate) that grossed me out immediately upon realizing that. Weird how you would find male figure skating news in a gay magazine, who knew?

Why Am I Still Questioning Questions?

Another great question asker, and one who always asked good questions, was Jesus Christ. He continually uses questions to nail people.

There is nothing greater than helping people see the truth. The problem is that people generally only listen to themselves and could really care less what anyone else says, unless it’s complimentary.

The best way to get someone to hear the truth is to get them to say the truth on their own. Jesus was a master at getting people to confront the truth and His preferred way to do so was to ask them questions.

I used to ask my father questions all the time and he would say, “I don’t know, what do you think?” He did this, I think, because he knew I probably wasn’t going to listen to his answer anyway and knew I’d do what I was gonna do anyhow.

It was annoying at times to not get an answer out of the man but he also had a point—he wanted me to think through what I was doing. Scripture is full of questions. God wants us to think through what He said and have us confront it in our minds.

God is not one big on details. He leaves people hanging with scant information. Believers, if they are paying attention, are consumed with questions. There are very few doctrines a guy can be 100% sure about. Many choices based on Scripture involve two perfectly legitimate choices.

We’re in a strait betwixt two, wondering which is better. That’s where faith and personal accountability come in. If you want to know the mind of Christ, get used to questions, they are the preferred method of communication for God.

Still Questioning Questions?

The Bible makes it clear that there is such a thing as a stupid question. Scripture contains four warnings about getting caught up in asking stupid questions. All of these warnings are in the “Pastoral Epistles.”

I find this interesting. Perhaps Paul knew that many pastors would ask dumb questions. Or, better yet, Paul knew that pastors would spend a lot of time around Christians and thus be continually surrounded with stupid questions.

Either way, we are to avoid foolish questions that merely serve to create arguments and result in no spiritual edification.

As much as I’m for asking questions and testing the spirits, it also seems like Christians are good at asking all the wrong questions at all the wrong times. They are often phrased as attacks and serve the purpose of trying to make who ever spoke last look immature and heathenish.

The Pharisees were great at asking questions and were anything but spiritual people. Their questions consisted of backing people into corners and playing logic tricks on them. Their intent was not to learn but to prove their intellectual superiority.

This is great fun, I’ve done it many times myself and it is also wrong. The purpose of a question is to gain understanding not to brag about the supposed understanding you already have.

Asking questions is good and every believer should do it. Believers should make sure, however, that their questions are for the use of edifying rather than arguing.

Questioning Questions?

In an earlier post today I had a quote by Alexandra Pelosi who said Christians don’t ask questions because they are 100% sure about everything.

The basic reaction is to condemn her for saying such things, however, upon further reflection, she is right. One of the main problems I have with Christian types is that they don’t ask questions and people who don’t ask questions get taken for rides to strange places.

I know several Christian types who “know everything” and have very few doubts. I also know they can’t explain much of their faith. I also know that they get very huffy very quickly and it is all but impossible to have an intelligent conversation.

I don’t blame Ms. Pelosi for her conclusion. I think this conclusion of hers shows that she has spent time with Christians, at least the whacko-fringe Christian that make good TV.

Sincere believers always ask questions. The more we learn the more our ignorance is pointed out to us and we desire to keep asking questions to get more info. We’re boring people though. We don’t make good TV.

I honestly think many Christians think questioning their church, their pastor, or other believers is wrong. We are to test the spirits and you can’t test without asking questions.

Road Trip With Pelosi

A member of the Pelosi family has produced a documentary airing on HBO tonight about Evangelical America.

What Pelosi found was both mundane and familiar (Jerry Falwell, megachurches, antiabortion rallies) but also something uniquely, wackily American. Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi rambles through a kaleidoscopic landscape of drive-through churches, truck-stop ministries and a Christian-themed miniature golf course with its own tomb of Jesus. For good measure, there are also skateboarding Christian punk kids and an evangelical pro-wrestling circuit with a character named “Jesus Freak.”

“I’ve never been 100 percent sure about anything,” she says, “but because they have the Bible, they’re 100 percent sure. . . . That’s the difference between me and them. “They’re so sure they’ve got all the answers, they’ve stopped asking the questions.”

Oh, now that’s not true, I still have questions. Why does your mom blink so much?

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

I enjoy reading and books and even enjoy reading about books. Lately there have been many books out about books, most of which I enjoyed. I enjoyed the one where the guy read the whole Encyclopedia Britannica, the one where the Microsoft employee brought books to Tibet, the one where the guy collected rare Yiddish books, etc.

This one was awful. I had doubts I would finish the book within the first ten pages, never a good sign. I actually made it a hundred pages more before chucking it.

The book is a memoir of a guy’s life spent selling books in cooler-than-your-bookstore-bookstores and also brief histories of book making and selling.

This would have all been fine except for the fact that you get the idea that this guy thinks he is perhaps the most intelligent, sophisticated, and elite person ever born because he spent an entire lifetime doing nothing but reading about other most intelligent, sophisticated and elite persons who spent their lives doing nothing but writing.

Goodness. It got old. Some people need to know that reading about other people’s lives is no substitute for living your own. As we all know, I am the most intelligent, sophisticated and elite person ever and that was my main issue.

If you’re a snob who works in a bookstore, this book will make you feel more snobbish. If you’re a snob who doesn’t like snobs who work in bookstores, this book will make you more snobbish too.

Made To Stick

This book was meant to take Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point to the next level, showing how you can make good ideas that stick so they become popular.

The book was more about communication, actually. Anyone who writes or speaks would benefit from reading this book. He shares many good points on how to make your message stand out, be remembered and applied.

Making good ideas is not dependent on education or your level of creative genius, anyone can do it, as long as you know the core principles necessary to make one. All good ideas need to be communicated well and this book attempts to show you how.

I’ve already modified several communication endeavors since reading it, including my last sermon. A nice read.

Working For God

A former executive of an Irvine car wax manufacturer alleges in a lawsuit that the company fired him because he had not pursued “a Christian lifestyle” and wasn’t “on fire for Jesus.”

Company president Barry Meguiar repeatedly urged Firey, then the chief operating officer, to attend church, the suit alleges, and told him he was “robbing this company of the blessing of God by not being on your knees and on fire for Jesus.”

The suit, filed Friday in Orange County Superior Court, says Meguiar sat in Firey’s office and read to him from the Bible, thrust Christian books on him and demanded he read them and forced managers to attend prayer meetings. When Firey asked about a promised bonus, the suit says, Meguiar said he would not give it to him until Firey joined a Christian church.

Boy, sounds like my job.

Jesus Cruise

TOM Cruise is the new “Christ” of Scientology, according to leaders of the cult-like religion.

And leader David Miscavige believes that in future, Cruise, 44, will be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of the religion. A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure.

“Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

Does this mean we get to crucify him?

God’s Friend

Christians often get flippant with our relationship with God. I remember hearing one junior high girl claim that “Jesus was her lover.” Oh gag.

One claim I’ve often heard is that Moses and God were good friends and Moses talked to God as a friend. That’s not exactly what is said, however. This may very well be true, and I think our prayers are more on the level of conversations than monologues, but the deal with Moses has more insight.

Exodus 33:11 says “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” Who is speaking to whom as a friend? God is speaking to Moses as a friend, how cool is that?

Our desire in our relationship with God is to be considered His friend, not necessarily that we talk to Him as just a friend, He’s still the Creator of the universe after all. We can get a tad disrespectful and flippant if we view God as merely a friend.

The only way to speak to someone as a friend is if you know them and you know that they know you. God could identify with Moses because He knew that Moses understood some things about what it was like to be God.

In Exodus 32:7 God says, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” God says the people of Israel are your people Moses!

In Exodus 32:11 Moses says, “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?” Moses says, “Oh no, these are your people!”

God blames Moses for bringing the people out of Egypt and Moses blames God for doing it! They both did, they had that in common and thus, since Moses shared in God’s work, God was able to talk to Moses as a friend.

Abraham is also called “the friend of God” (James 2:23). Jesus said He laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13). In every case, God considers people His friends, it is never stated the other way around. It seems presumptuous on our part to assume God is our friend.

Reminds me of the words of Paul, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God” (Galatians 4:9). Our intent is to be known of God, not to be self-centeredly focused on how God is our friend and our desire is to know him and that’s it.

To be considered God’s friend is very cool. Cool isn’t even the right word there, it’s beyond words. Our desire is to be known by God, to be His friend.