Thursday, March 26, 2009

It does makes one wonder....

By now I'm sure you have heard the major news story about the private plane that crashed in to a Butte, Montana cemetery, killing 7 adults and 7 children.

One point that most news sources failed to mention is that the site of the crash, Holy Cross Cemetery, contains a memorial for local residents to pray at the “Tomb of the Unborn.” This memorial was dedicated to all babies who have died as a result of abortion.

Another thing the mainstream media left out of the story is that the family who died near the abortion victim's memorial is the family of Irving “Bud” Feldkamp, owner of the largest for-profit abortion chain in the country. Though Mr. Feldkamp was not aboard this flight, two of his daughters, two sons-in-law and five of his grandchildren died in the crash along with the pilot and four family friends.

I find it interesting that the cause of the crash has been called “a mystery.”

I'm not going to jump to any mystical sowing-and-reaping conclusion, but seeing the bigger picture with the additional details does make me stop and wonder. If all these details were woven into a Hollywood movie we would find the message at least intriguing.

May God in His mercy use this tragedy to bring Mr. Feldkamp to a place of repentance.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ready or not, here we go!

There has been much discussion in recent weeks about the decline religion in America, more specifically, the evangelical stream of Christianity. Major papers across the country have written about it, news websites have posted it, bloggers have discussed it. Books have been written on the subject and I'm sure many more are being written as you are reading this.

A number of thoughts are flooding my limited-capacity brain. I will whittle them down to two main ones. From my perspective as a Pentecostal Evangelical I see:

We may sing, “It's All About You!” but we live like “It's All About Me!” We follow after the same pleasures as the world, we seek to “get ahead in the world” that Jesus would have us leave behind. As we accumulate after more and more “stuff” and are always desiring bigger and better everything, we are as guilty of the sin of covetousness (remember that one, “Thou shalt not covet?”) as anyone whom we would say “doesn't know the Lord.”

Our teens seem to be getting pregnant at a rate comparable to that of non-Christians.

Our married couples are divorcing at a rate equal to (or in some studies, greater than) those who do not profess Christ.

Jesus said that it is in the love we have for one another that the world would know we are His disciples and that our unity would be the evidence to the world that He was sent by God. The world doesn't see it.

As long as we fail to “live out” the Jesus we proclaim, we have very little to offer those outside of Christ. It is little wonder that we are seeing a decline in evangelical Christianity.

The very evangelical St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Another similar quote of his said it this way, “Its no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” In street lingo we might say, “Bring it, don't sing it!”

It seems to me that we've lost the awe and fear and reverence of God. The Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth and Lord over all the universe has become “Our Buddy who art in heaven...” We have dumbed down God so He is easier to understand and figure out than the guy across the street. We have conformed Him into our likeness rather than allowing Him to conform us into the image of Christ.

A god we can fully comprehend and has no mystery is not the God of of the Bible. For His ways are always higher than ours; His thoughts are always higher than ours. An amoeba can more easily understand the complex workings of an advanced computer than we can understand how God works. Yes! He is that big! Oh, we have glimpses in the Holy Scriptures, but they are only that.

In our desire to be relevant to the world, the evangelical Church has failed to remain reverent before God. We need both: relevance and reverence.

In our attempt to avoid being thought of as being religious, we've reduced sacraments to ordinances, down-graded rituals to ceremonies and replaced traditions with whatever is trendy. We've become seeker friendly instead of being God-focused and worship is now more of a performance that entertains rather than an act that humbles our hearts in surrender before a holy and all-powerful God. And we wonder why our American evangelical Church is in decline. We've compromised the sacred in the name of being lead by the Spirit.

May God have mercy and send a true revival of Christlikeness to His Church.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saint Patrick's Creed

Tomorrow is Saint Patrick's Day. All the revelry that will take place would grieve the heart of this true Celtic saint. He was a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. So devoted to his Lord and Savior, his heartbeat may have sounded something like this: "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me." (See my December 12, 2008 entry, St. Patrick's Breastplate)

Saint Patrick's Creed is taken from his own writings and is a clear proclamation of the truths of the Christian faith.

Saint Patrick’s Creed
There is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be,
than God the Father unbegotten, without beginning,
from whom is all beginning,
the Lord of the universe, as we have been taught;
and His son Jesus Christ, whom we declare
has always been with the Father, spiritually and
ineffably begotten by the Father before the
beginning of the world, before all beginning;

and by Him are made all things visible and invisible.
He was made man, and,
having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father;
and He hath given Him all power over all names
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth,
and every tongue shall confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord and God,
in whom we believe, and whose advent we expect soon to be,
judge of the living and of the dead,
who will render to every man according to his deeds; and

He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit,
the gift and pledge of immortality,
who makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with Christ;
and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name.

Above, I mentioned St. Patrick's Breastplate, here is a version of it put to song:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Being Religious

Tee shirts and bumper stickers are very good discussion starters. You've seen my use of it in at least one of my previous blogs.

Well, I've got another one – the tee shirt that says, “I'm not religious, I just love the Lord.”

For some reason we think there is an added depth of spirituality to say that we are not religious. On the contrary, that could be one of the big problems with the Church today. We want to be recognized as being Christian and be identified as being part of a particular church, but we don't want to be thought of as being religious, as if that is a bad thing.

Consider the statement: “I'm a Christian, but I am not religious about my faith.” (After all, that is what we are talking about – religion and faith.)

Now consider some dictionary definitions and synonyms of the word “religious”........
devoted; reverent; godly; concerned with sacred matters; scrupulously faithful; conscientious; disciplined; extremely scrupulous

Yep. That about sums it up. The segment of the Church that doesn't want to be called religious very often is not devoted, not reverent, not godly, not concerned with sacred matters, not conscientious, not disciplined, not scrupulously faithful, not extremely scrupulous.

Let me say it a different way. “I just love the Lord. I'm just not devoted, reverent, godly, disciplined, concerned with sacred matters, etc.” See how foolish that sounds? It is not any more foolish than saying you are not religious, but still love the Lord.

There is nothing wrong with being religious, if you are religious about the right things! Sure, Jesus criticized the Pharisees and other religious leaders of his day - not because they were religious, but because they were religious in and about the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.

Without hesitation I admit that I am religious. I am religious about prayer and Bible reading, fasting, church attendance, tithing, living a life that causes no doubt in others that I am a Christian.

I guess my tee shirt could say: I AM religious, BECAUSE I love the Lord!