“I’m Too Pro-Science…”

“…to be Pro-Choice.”

Neil highlighted this fact in his article on why it is abortion supporters who are the ones still stuck in the middle ages of scientific ignorance.

It is an incontrovertible fact that life begins at conception and those who say otherwise are either deceiving or deceived.

And then John posted this video which uses humor and passion to reveal the moral depravity of the abortion industry.

In the Name of the Jesus, the Christ (a defence of Propserity Preachers)

Christianity has been recently buzzing with with what some people call a “prosperity” gospel. Over simplified, this gospel refers to a leader (preacher) calling on his people to becomes saved and everything will be taken care of (to the extreme, become saved and you will become rich). In Christendom, certain preachers have been labeled as “prosperity preachers.” People like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren have been assigned this label and ridiculed in areas of Christendom for their messages and actions. However, is this ridicule really due them?

I wish to make my argument in defense of many preachers (and specifically these two) through three different avenues. I want show you that these preachers preach a relevant gospel, not a traditional gospel. They use Christ as the backbone of their gospel, and their efforts are supported by scripture.

Many people easily despise the like of Joel Osteen and Rick Warren but have not listened to their message and heard they were “liberal” from someone else. Recently, I actually sat down and watched a Joel Osteen sermon. Guess what he was talking about? Self-Esteem. What topic could be more relevant to today’s needs? Honestly, there are so many people who struggle day to day with the ins and outs of insecurity and self esteem and here was a preacher giving them God’s perspective on the subject. Sure, this isn’t a traditional topic like the beatitudes, or Hell’s hot flames . . . but it is what people today need to hear. However, because people like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are not preaching a line by line gospel, they are often ridiculed and despised by the traditional establishment. However, they aren’t teaching the words of the gospel (line-by-line), but the heart of the the gospel.

Not only is their teaching more relevant, their actions are more relevant. I remember Rick Warren sitting down with Barack Obama before the general election to promote AIDS awareness. At first I was taken back by this. What in the world is a Christian pastor doing associating with a secular agenda (that is originally linked to a sinful lifestyle)? However, I was soon convicted that, this is what we are supposed to be doing. As Christians we should be promoting AIDS awareness, we should be looking for the cure, we should be concerned because God LOVES the people with AIDS. Who better in Christendom is there to promote AIDS? Charlie Hunt (the head of the Southern Baptist Convention)? No one knows of him and he is stuck in an old establishment that is trying to splice syllables of scripture but can’t tell the laity its relevance to every day life. There is no one better than Rick Warren. His name is out there. He is respected even on the West Coast (a very hard thing to do). All that these preachers are doing in exemplifying the true gospel of Christ. A gospel that meets people where they are and addresses their direct needs in basic, simple, and easy to identify with ways.

However, there is still the argument that many people throw out the Joel Osteen doesn’t hardly use the scriptures in his messages. Once again, I am compelled to ask, how you ever watched him? A Christian survey service recently compared the average references to scripture in a “standard message” from a “normal” pastor to Joel Osteen. It was found that the normal message will contain between 7-15 references to scripture while Joel Osteen regularly references the scriptures between 25-35 times a message. Sure, it might not be an exact quotation, but is the Bible about the words, or about the heart behind the words? In fact, I recently sat down with my mentor and counted the number of times Joel Osteen references scripture. We were only watching for about 20 minutes and had counted well over 20 references. Joel Osteen and Rick Warren look the the scriptures for a message, not a recitation, and this is what they present. They give preach a gospel that speaks through the heart of the text to the current needs of our society.

However, there is still a further defence of these prosperity gospel preachers. I wish to direct your attention to Philippians. Specifically Philippians 1:15-18

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, no sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.?

Did you hear that? The important notes are here “The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely . . . But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from falses motices or true, Christ is preached.” What is that? It doesn’t matter how it is presented, it just matters that the gospel is preached. This is the true defense of the prosperity gospel. God is being taught and his name is being lifted up.

Sure, I have my issues with some churches and some Christians actions, but, as Paul said, “What does it matter? Christ is preached” and that is all we are called to do, however that looks

Oh, Just to Know You More

I wrote this note for facebook . . . but the lessons it has and the insight it brings are good for a larger audience.

 

This week has really been a wonderful week. There have been many challenges in my personal life, my emotions have been all over the place, and some events didn’t go how I wanted them too. But this week was really a wonderful week. So much . . . well really so little things went right, but they were the quality things. The things that matter.

 

One thing especially has stood out to me. I have begun really spending some rich time in the scripture . . . well, no, in God and His Love, and I have had a wonderful time. However, I am feeling a call to an even greater intimacy, understanding, and relationship with Christ.

 

The inspiration for this desire comes from Proverbs 3:5,6 where Solomon says:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;

 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight.

For a week now, I have been living in this verse and asking myself questions to spur further mediation.

 

Trust in the Lord with all my heart.” That is a whole lot of heart. Where is my heart . . . in people, things, or God? I was trained while growing up to place my heart in God’s hands, but where is it really? Is Christianity so “easy” that I can do everything by myself and have no need to throw my all in Jesus’ hands? I am afraid it is.

 

“and lean not on my own understanding.” My understanding is faulty, but I love it. I use it to fulfill my job. I use it to boast of my grades and I use it to impress others . . . but how shallow is that? How shallow is my understanding? Upon leaving the shelter of my family and their ideas, I was shown new and more sophisticated ways of understanding. I was challenged in my perceptions and was sometimes found to be wrong. However, even with my expanded view, God still says in Isaiah 55:9

 

 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

“in all my ways acknowledge him, and he will make my paths straight.” This has really been the inspiration behind me decision. You see, I do not know what is meant by acknowledge. Sure, I understand what it means in the human concept (to recognize), but what does it really mean to “acknowledge him in all my ways.” There is the story of the elderly lady who would always open her car door, step aside for a second, and then step in. When asked why she stepped aside, she said “I am letting Jesus get in first.” Is this acknowledging Him in all my ways? It sure seems like a good place to start.

 

The Hebrew word used for acknowledge here is translated as “acknowledge” 6 times in the Bible and is translated as “know” 645 times. It also specifically means “to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to know, to be acquainted.” So then, this simple passage could actually be “know God in all your ways” or “get to know God’s desire in all you ways.” This reminds me of the elderly couples you can watch who will finish each other’s sentences. The couple know each other so well that they know what the other person wants, desires, and requires. This seems to be what the verse is hinting at. “Know God in such a way that you know what His next step would be and you know how it will bring Him glory.”

 

I have been trying to do this the last couple days and it has been such a blessing. Time in the morning has been spent in silence just so I can clear my head and listen. Time in the day has been spend mediating (not memorizing) on what God has given to me and finding new ways to apply it. I have begun driving the speed limit because I want to “acknowledge God’s presence with me in my car” and the drive to school that used to be a race to beat the traffic has become a time to look out the window and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and see him through it. My plans, while still important (they are God inspired) have become secondary as I have fought to “trust in the Lord with all my heart.”

 

Now, I need to make one thing clear. I am still struggling in so many areas of my life. I am still stressed with details at times. I still drop the ball many times. I have not become a saint. I am simply trying to “acknowledge” and enjoy God in everything I do (and boy is that hard).

 

I now want to spend a short amount of time with the Lord without the worries of people, stresses of life, or swing of emotions over temporal things. I want those worries, stresses, and emotions to be about my walk with the Lord. In light of this, I will be taking a week off facebook with the specific intent to spend that time with God. I love the people here and have a great time. But I also spend a large amount of time here. It is my desire to instead spend that time with the Spirit of the Lord, in His Words, speaking to His Son.

 

I would invite anyone who is so called to join me in this. I am sure there will be some stress/withdrawal the first couple days, but if you need me you can get me contact info off my profile.

 

So, without further ado, I wish God’s blessings on you all and I will see everyone back on here next Friday evening.

 

 

Chipotle And The Beneficent Free Market

This is a slight commentary on Chipotle (the restaurant chain) and how it symbolizes the significant superiority of the free market economy and accompanying extreme wealth and their many benefits to the world at large.

Have you eaten at Chipotle? If not, you should.

It’s not really Mexican food, per se.

It’s more like Starbucks does Mexican food. We all know Starbucks isn’t really coffee, but it’s still really good and we’re willing to pay a lot for it.

Chipotle uses fresh ingredients and a limited number of choices in an efficient and modern atmosphere to serve quality food at reasonable prices.

Kinda like Henry Ford: You can get anything you want at Chipotle, so long as it’s a burrito (not completely true, but I’m suffering under a plethora of metaphors and similes today. Sorry).

Anyway, it’s good. I like it. My wife does too. And lots of other people too.

Chipotle uses it’s efficiency structure, derived from it’s owner, McDonalds Corp’s,  excellent experience at high-volume, low-cost supply-chain infrastructure management to maintain significant profits while maintaining reasonable prices.

Unless they were making tons of money from us eager eaters, Chipotle would not be able to be such a force for good so far as the environment is concerned.

Chipotle uses it’s leverage with it’s sour cream supplier, Daisy, to make sure the cows that give their milk to the Chipotle sour cream cause are not fed any hormones of any type. A non-hormone injected cow will not produce anywhere near the same amount of milk as one who is kept hormone-high. Which means that the “cleaner” milk costs more. If Chipotle were not making tons of money, it could not afford to reqire this better milk.

I probably couldn’t taste the difference between hormonal sour cream and non-hormonal sour cream, but I’m happy to be enjoying stuff that doesn’t  cause so much trouble to the cow.

Chipotle’s beef, pork, and chicken likewise come from free-range animals not injected or force-fed. This means the amount of usable meat from each animal is much less than ones that are artificially “enhanced”, lowering the profit and raising the cost of each animal.

All because I pay 5.35 for my loaded steak burrito, all these animals are able to enjoy better lives and provide me with my enjoyment in a more natural, healthful way.

Could an eatery in a poor nation support the same level of “sustainable” resource management?

It’s not that we can compel them to behave in a certain way. If the way they raise their cows raises the costs beyond what their economy can support, they’ll starve.

In a hierarchy of needs, basic human needs come before animal comfort. If feeding the cows in destitute South American and African nations means the people will be able to afford beneficial red meat while saving more money so their sons and daughters can attend school, that’s a trade worthwhile.

As their education level rises, their production will speed, efficiency will rise, and the average wealth of their economy will increase until they can afford places like Chipotle and the less efficient, but more friendly methods of production.

So don’t hate the economy, your wealth and ease, or the rampant consumerism that drives much of our lives these days. It’s not all good, but it’s far from all bad. Americans give and give and give more, by orders of magnitude, than anywhere else on the planet. We produce more per unit of labor, and we own more per person than anywhere else, and it leads to a continued cycle of growth and giving.

By working hard and excercising a responsible or even an irresponsible level of gratitude to God for His beneficence to us in giving to those without, we cause more good.

God did not punish the men who used their business acumen to double His granted funds, neither will He begrudge you trying hard, with ethics and moral behavior, to maximize your economic potential.

Now go and sin no more. And eat at Chipotle.

Don’t give me that

I write this next post with a heavy heart. Most of my previous posts have been fueled by intellect, however, another force will be driving this one. Intellect is still the basis of this force, but something deeper, darker is also here. Please hear my heart. Every example and illustration is from my personal experience and is true and I can give many more examples for many of the points.

I was recently reminded by a pastor that “Christianity is hard and hurts” and “it could cost you.”

I simply want to ask the pastor, and you: How has Christianity hurt you? Or more aptly, has Christianity really hurt you?

I do not mean hurt like, my professor doesn’t like my views, but a deeper kind of hurt like, the essence of me as a person has been attacked.

I have. Since starting my current journey a year and a half ago, I have had my character attacked, I have been called homosexual in the church, people I serve have stolen from me, I have had to work from 12-20 hours a day to insure that people hear about Jesus. I have seen people I love work for six years without a pay check and almost no breaks. I have seen churches stop supporting us financially and then chide us for our foolishness when we cannot afford  a security system. I have had to pay a cost. Have you? Honestly? Sure you have to get up early Sunday . . .

I am sick of hearing senior pastor’s proclaim their love for minihry and then proceed to preside over a budget with more money for flowers than for benevolence. I am sick of slick youth pastors who are paid to speak at events tell me I should trust in the Lord, and then proceed to go home and preside over a group of children who go to camp because their parents are afraid that something might happen on a mission trip.

Last summer, I was hosting a group of middle schoolers on an inner city mission trip. While we were in the middle of the community, a car drove by and shot bullets into a group about 50 yards away from us. The group quickly evacuated, but later the middle schoolers concluded that they wished they had been the ones shot because they knew where they were going, but those who were shot were did not have that same assurance. These children got it, they had a price to pay, and were willing.

As a Church, we praise Lottie Moon who died of starvation, on a ship when she was already headed home. However, honestly, is there any starvation inside the church? What about outside?

Now, I know exactly what you are saying right now, ” ShatteredChina has a point, there are so many churches like that, thankfully mine isn’t.” STOP RIGHT THERE. Examine your church because that statement just sounded like the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

We suffer from “Church Pride.” It is just like when I worked at Starbucks. I loved working at my Starbucks and it obviously did everything right, but the one down the street makes drinks wrong and has bad service. Or so I thought. However, all the Starbucks had different problems, and so do the churches.

I am sick of going to a conference and hearing a teacher talk about what is happening in the church and then say, “but I am so glad that your churches are not doing that.” Wrong, the reason the teacher is addressing the issue is because our churches are doing something wrong. Not our collective, general churches, I mean our individual, specific churches, including the one I attend. We need to have the basic humility to realise and accept this and then do something about this, instead of passing the blame to the next church.

The small churches are proud of their heritage and despise the big church for its self centeredness. Both ideas are wrong. Your heritage is dead and God called you to bring others to LIFE and the big churches meet a need in the body. The big churches provide programs for people and do anything to attract the pocket book and overpower the communities of small churches in order to do minister. Both these mindsets are also wrong. The church is to attract the heart, not the clothes, and big churches should partner with the small churches to help the small churches to provide ministry in a small community.

And really, these are just two blaring problems in so many churches. Revelations is clear that there will be a great falling away from Christianity in the tribulation. How many of those in the pew next to you will fall away. Sure, your group is probably pretty strong because you are in it and know those in it, but what about the people who aren’t in a group in a church? And what about those who drop in and out of your church? Here is a question for you, would your church let a drunk homeless man sit on your front pew? Honestly?

Consider this true story as I close. The New Orleans public pools system was holding a party in 2003, the pools were celebrating their first season without a drowning in years. As the party ended, a body was noticed floating in the pool. The 100 lifeguards attending quickly retrieved the man and tried to resuscitate him. He had died. The man had drowned while a hundred lifeguards around him were celebrating the absence of a drowning that year.

Why are we celebrating a new building, a larger Sunday school, or a single salvation while the people around us are still going to HELL?

Edit: If you ever get the chance, watch “The Second Chance” with Michael W. Smith. Don’t just view it as entertainment, though it is, view it to learn and understand because it is a reality.