Proselytizing the Pope

Pope Francis recently gave a speech on his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one’s life. Among the list are

–Live and let live.
–Be giving of yourself to others
–Proceed calmly in life
–A healthy sense of leisure, including backing off materialism, and making sure to turn off the TV during dinner.
–Sundays are holidays to be spent with family

And others, most of which are bland enough to elicit little response. Typical self-help stuff.

However, he also threw in number nine,

“Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,”

Sorry, but that’s weird.

“Proselytize” has become a bad word, but it really isn’t. In fact, most of your life is spent proselytizing or being proselytized.

Here is an official definition of this word:

To induce someone to convert to one’s own religious faith.
To induce someone to join one’s own political party or to espouse one’s doctrine.
To convert (a person) from one belief, doctrine, cause, or faith to another.”

Just the other day I was with a group of people eating breakfast and I popped open a Pop Tart. Three different people lectured me on Pop Tarts, which, in the end, is fine–more for me, baby.

People are proselytizing all the time. Now, yes, it would be nice if a guy could eat a Pop Tart without a dissertation on grams of fat. If that’s what the pope means, I fully agree.

But he’s not, he specifically said he’s talking about religious proselytizing. He even went so far as to say “the worst thing of all is religious proselytism.”

Really? Religious proselytizing is the “worst thing?” Worse than child rape? Worse than mass murder? Worse than my attempts to spell “proselytizing” consistently in this post? (Spell check came through on this one)

Seems to me, one of the major points of being a Christian is to “convert (a person) from one belief, doctrine, cause, or faith to another.

Now granted, personal testimony of a life well lived is huge. Never underestimate the role of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God that “converts the soul.”

But to say that the Church should avoid talk that tries to “persuade” people is just ridiculous.

It is, in fact, arguable that lack of proselytizing has led to so much apathy in the Church, leading to much unhappiness. Try doing a little more to persuade others of Christ and joy in life might increase.

But hey, I’m not infallible, so what do I know? No use trying to proselytize the pope, I imagine.

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men

Jesus Taunt at Obama

President Barack Obama responded to a heckler in Kansas City on Wednesday, with Obama responding to the woman yelling, “Jesus is the Lord of Israel.”

“I’m sorry what are you hollering about?” Obama asks the woman, as the crowd noise picks up to drown her out. He then casually replied, “I believe in God. Thanks for the prayer. Amen. Thank you.”

Being interrupted while speaking is not always an easy thing to recover from. Especially if the interruption is an attack, something I’ve only experienced a couple times.

He rolled with it pretty well. I will refrain from comment on his comment or the issue at hand.

September 11 Cross and Dumb People

After the September 11 terrorist attack, a cross from building wreckage was unearthed at Ground Zero.

sep11cross

Upon the completion of the new September 11 museum at Ground Zero, this cross was displayed.

Outraged atheists sued to have the cross removed, claiming that plaintiffs in the case:

“suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer damages, both physical and emotional, from the existence of the challenged cross … dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish from the knowledge that they are made to feel officially excluded from the ranks of citizens who were directly injured by the 9/11 attack and the lack of acknowledgement of the more than 1,000 non-Christian individuals who were killed at the World Trade Center.”

A court recently ruled against the atheist group and said the cross could remain on display.

I have two main responses to this story.

1) The idea that a cross can give you headaches seems quite trivial and disrespectful in light of 3,000 people dying. Really? A cross is causing you pain?

2) The fact that cross beams of a skyscraper look like a cross means absolutely nothing. This is not God speaking to us. It’s similar to people seeing the Virgin Mary or Jesus in their toast. It’s called “coincidence.”

If a bent piece of metal gives you hope, you’ve got bigger problems than you realize. You need Christ, not a cross made of metal.

So in conclusion, it is my opinion that most atheists are as dumb as most Christians, just for different reasons.

The Problem With Having Your Problem Go Away

Life has good and bad stuff going on in it.

Bad stuff is often seen as a test.

Some even blame God for the testing bad stuff, which may or may not be true at any given time.

What often escapes our thinking is that the absence of bad stuff could be just as much of a test.

King Hezekiah’s story is told to us three times in the Old Testament.

Hezekiah got sick, prayed to God, and God granted him 15 more years of life.

Sweet! Hezekiah was so pleased with his recovery that when visiting guys came to congratulate him on his health, he showed them all his treasures.

Soon those visiting guys became bad guys who took all his stuff. Pride goes before destruction.

Jeremiah warned besieged Jerusalem that the brief reprieve of the Babylonian attack was temporary, they’d be back and finish the job they started.

Jerusalem and their false prophets didn’t believe him. They all got wiped out.

Many assume that a healing or an infusion of cash was a great intervention by God.

It could be.

It could also be a test to see if you want God or if you just want problems to go away.

Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Britain’s Devil Boy

Britain’s Sun Newspaper is facing criticism after putting a picture of a young boy on its front cover with the mark of the Devil on him.

satanboy

Some have suggested the mysterious mark is a hairdryer burn. What? Come on, you mean there might be a logical explanation?

Others think the only bad thing is that the newspaper is exploiting a child. News people exploiting others for a story? No way!

Either way, I know I’m outraged. Tremendously. Also scared. Scared and outraged. I might not be able to digest my breakfast properly now I’m so scared. And outraged.

Can Demons Text? Only if They’re Teenage Demons

A priest in Poland claims to be getting demonic texts from a teenage girl he failed to exorcise a demon from.

“The author of these texts is an evil spirit who has possessed her soul.”

He said that the devil and his followers were not shy about using modern technology but that in many cases their actions were not identified as being the work of evil.

He said: “Often the owners of mobile phones are not even aware that they are been used like this, however in this case it is clear.”

He said one of the text messages read: “She will not come out of this hell. She’s mine. Anyone who prays for her will die.”

So many places a guy could go with this one, from priest jokes to Polack jokes to jokes about teenage demons texting.

It’s too much. I don’t know where to go with this.

The Subtle Danger of “Living For Christ”

“He’s living for the Lord” is the type of phrase people say that irritates me.

Perhaps it’s best heard in “their kids are living for the Lord.”

Based on what I’ve observed, “living for the Lord” is followed up by a list of accomplishments to prove the claim.

Usually the list is something like this:

He goes to church.
She teaches Sunday School.
He’s a pastor.
She’s a missionary.
Their kids go to a Christian college.
Etc.

In other words, “living for the Lord” means–I am doing lots of things for Jesus. He must be so happy to have me down here doing all this for Him.

In reality, it’s mostly about the person and their accomplishments, and very little about Jesus.

The classic example is the person who performs their musical number before a church audience in a very showy manner, then during the applause says “It’s for Him, it’s for Him.”

No. It’s pretty much for you and we’re all pretty aware of that.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

This verse is quoted frequently, and without fail, the application is “So you need to live for Jesus, that’s what Paul did.”

But that’s not what Paul said. He didn’t say, “For me to live is to live for Christ.”

For Paul, Life Is Christ.

Did you get that? Life Is Christ.

Jesus Christ once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He is the life.

Paul said in Galatians, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

For to me to live IS Christ.

We don’t just live to do things for Christ; we live the life of Christ.

That is New Testament, Gospel reality.

No longer I but Christ.

I must decrease, He must increase.

This encompasses all of life, not just a couple things you got around to doing, most of which you did for pay or recognition of some sort.

The Gospel promises new life. Live it. It’s better than your life.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Hell is filled with people who thought they lived for Christ. Gospel reality, is deeper than this.