Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Thanks to all of you that have responded to my survey. Please feel free to respond if you haven't yet. I posted the survey in my Facebook Notes and received several responses from that as well.
Although a few responses were positive and from active church members, I am really more concerned with the ones that are not church members and their reasons for staying away from church. I you fall into this category, I would like to hear your story. I think that we (as the church) need to examine our failures if we are going to learn from them.
I've gathered a few of the common complaints about the church and mixed in a few of my own. I've also added some thoughts about each.
The church is full of hypocrites, gossips, back biters, people that are judgmental about political beliefs, sexual preferences, etc.
It is both a blessing and a curse that the church is a place for sinful people to come together and worship a forgiving God. A friend once shared the thought that if we are willing to let a hypocrite come between us and God, then it is the hypocrite that is closer to God. As difficult as it might be to forgive others, we must. Too often we make the choice to be judgmental about them being judgmental and leave. Not only do we manage to distance ourselves from them, but also from the God that forgives them (and us). It is important that we remember who is in church. We all bring our own baggage of fleshly nature into the place. We all need to make allowances for each other's faults. We all need to allow others to grow in spiritual maturity.
I want to address the political part separately. If you've been a reader of Out of My Hat for very long, you already know how I feel about politics and church. I don't think that God has a favorite political party. I don't think that one party's platform is any better than the other's (spiritually). I don't look to a party or government for my spiritual leadership. I don't believe that changing the behavior of people through legislation will bring them into God's favor. I do believe that bringing them into God's favor (through salvation in Jesus) will change their behavior (with or without the legislation). Since politics is such a polarizing thing, it needs to be kept out of the pulpit and the educational part of the church. The church needs to focus on the teaching of the Bible.
There were also those that feel that church people are closed-minded, both to other beliefs and to science.
Although it would be difficult for me to address the exclusivity of other beliefs (other than Christian), in each case that this was mentioned it was in reference to a Christian denomination. I'll deal with it from my perspective. Please understand that this is not representative of any church doctrine--it's just John on a rant.
that it is by the grace of God
by the death, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son, Jesus
by believing in my heart that Jesus is everything that the Bible claims
and by oral proclamation that Jesus is my Savior and Lord
that I have a home in heaven.
I also believe that you must be able to make the same statement of faith if you are to have a home in heaven. I understand that that is extremely exclusive...most religions are. (Religion is as polarizing as politics.)
Having said that--intolerance is a completely different thing. I am not anybody's judge. Jesus gets to be the judge. I am very willing to talk to you about your beliefs. In fact, I am as willing to talk about your beliefs as I am about my own. I want to know what you believe, why you believe it, what is the benefit of your belief--all of it. I want to know.
If you are a Buddhist, tell me about it. If you are Mormon, I want to know about your Jesus. If you are Muslim, teach me about Allah. If you are an atheist, tell me why. A Darwinist, let's talk about The Origin of the Species. If you're just a really hacked off Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, whatever--come on. Feel free to vent on John.
In the end, it comes down to this: Do you believe in a heaven and a hell? In your belief system, how do you get into one and stay out of the other? Are you sure enough of what you believe to bet your eternal soul on it?
I think that there is a heaven and hell. Not believing in it doesn't change that. Each of us has to figure out how to get to heaven. Hell is the default...doing nothing gets you to hell. Doing the wrong thing, gets you to hell. We have to find the way to heaven and we have to help others to find the way.
I believe that churches should help us find The Way. I believe that churches should be--first and foremost--places to worship God. I believe that (in the Christian churches) we are to make disciples of Jesus, teaching the things that He taught. I believe that the value of the local church goes far beyond the social networking that some have mentioned. It has to be more than the Rotary Club or local country club.
If you have comments, bring them on. If you don't want them published, just say so.
Reading this several hours after posting it I see that it may sound a bit like I'm bashing the comments that I solicited. Trust me, that isn't my intent. I do want you to feel free to comment without fear of harassment about your beliefs. I hope that you can take the difference of opinion as it is intended.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
Monday, May 04, 2009
One human hair can support 3 kg (6.6 lb).
The average man's penis is three times the length of his thumb.
Human thighbones are stronger than concrete.
A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.
There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.
Women blink twice as often as men.
The average person's skin weighs twice as much as the brain.
Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.
If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste it.
Women reading this will be finished now.