Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Jesus is All Important

In evangelical Christian churches and to many Christians, Jesus is just a gatekeeper who has let us into heaven by his sacrifice. A gatekeeper to the more wonderful things - getting the power gifts of the Holy Spirit, learning the rest of the Bible and deepening one's theology.

Jesus is their admission ticket to the main show. What do you do with your admission ticket after you get in past the door? You simply put it in your back pocket, out of sight. You head in the sanctuary to participate in the main show.

But Jesus is All Important.

Without him we are Nothing.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Are they ashamed of Jesus' name or afraid to lose popularity?

I was listening to my favorite Christian singers, TobyMac, Lauren Daigle, King and Country and then a thought struck me.
Are they actually singing Christian music? They never say the name Jesus in their songs. Are they ashamed of Jesus' name or afraid to lose popularity? Certainly their lyrics may contain quotes from the Bible, but these are more like code words for evangelicals.
For those who are not from evangelical backgrounds, the songs could mean anything. Just looking at a sample of their songs, 'Shoulders', 'You Say', 'Dry Bones', 'I need you'. They could be referring to romantic love - boyfriend or girlfriend, even saying 'Lord' - for someone from another religion, they can adopt the lyrics as referring to one of their gods. 
Are they ashamed of Jesus' name or afraid to lose popularity?


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Can a Christian practice the martial arts?


My child and I started learning judo together, and we love it. As long as it does not become our idol, it is good and healthy regardless of its origins. A relevant passage from the Bible comes to mind. apostle Paul says you can eat food that may have been offered before idols as long as you pray thanking God for the food.

Can it become an idol?



1 Corinthians 8:4-6 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.


The passage says that the body was created through the Lord Jesus and "through whom we live".

As a Christian, your conscience will warn you if anything you are doing is against the Holy Spirit. Anything that is straying into Buddhism (for Judo), or Hinduism (for Yoga).

What about their pagan origins?


Even so, for some Christians even the slightest connection to pagan origins is enough to condemn the practice of judo, karate, yoga etc.

I suggest you ask them;

Do you celebrate Christmas, and if so, do you have a Christmas tree?

Jeremiah 10: "For the customs of the people are vain: for one 1) cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 2) They deck it with silver and with gold; 3) they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
and 4) we put gifts under the tree as if in worship/

That sounds suspiciously like a Christmas tree!

Someone recently said to me the passage refers to idols. But if 3 out of 4 are met, then that sounds pagan to me...

But didn't Jesus command us to not defend ourselves?


Matthew 5:39 New International Version (NIV)
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

For many years I thought those who refer to this as a command to ignore an insult, were dishonest. Recently, I was thinking it over and realized, it is our modern American and Western society that sees a slap as violence. In earlier times and even nowadays in the developing world, a slap is a rebuke or a humiliation.

Notice also that Jesus refers to a slap, not a blow with a fist, nor a blow with a stick, knife or other weapon.

Sadly, I do not know how many Christians have been misled to not defend themselves by a misinterpretation of this verse.


But what about kneeling to your sensei or the founder's photo?

As a judo beginner, I was uneasy at kneeling and bowing to Jigoro Kano's portrait and to the sensei at the start and end of each class. I did not want to stop learning judo over this.

Then I read that the Japanese bow and kneel as a mark of respect. I also told myself and my son to think to himself while in that posture, that, "Jesus, I am kneeling before you, not Jigoro Kano".

I was gratified to read that Kano was secular and hated all religions. So I did not have to worry about strains of Shintoism or Buddhism in the teachings.

But will there be a divergence or tension between Christian teachings and martial arts teachings?

We must make all areas of our lives submit to the Bible. Yet we must also wrestle with how we are interpreting the Bible - whether our opinion and conviction is correct or incorrect. We must be open to examining if we may have misinterpreted the Bible.

I always try to find a Bible verse that aligns with a new teaching I learn in judo.

for instance,

when learning about relaxing the body during a fight, I remember "be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted in the heavens, I will be exalted in the earth".


when learning about judo being the gentle way absorbing or deflecting an attack and turning the tables on the attacker, I remember, "a soft answer turns away wrath" and  ignoring an insult, "If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."

In the end these are philosophies and every philosophy must bend the knee to Jesus.






Saturday, July 7, 2018

Selfish King Solomon

Solomon had so much favor with God, and I wonder why he chose idols.

I believe Israel found God's laws difficult to observe and their pagan gods allowed them to live as they pleased.

Solomon had great wealth, so much that I wondered if it was somehow an exaggeration. His annual income was 25 tons of gold.

He used gold to cover a lot of the things in his house.

Where did all this come from?

The people.

He taxed them heavily.

He was a selfish king.

Another insight I had;

Wisdom is not the same as Righteousness. A wise person may not be righteous.

Solomon was a wise king, but he was not a righteous one.

He was sinful in his idolatry, and sinful in his selfish overtaxing of the people.



Saturday, May 19, 2018

Are women allowed to teach?

This is a controversial topic. The apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:8-15, “I do not permit a woman to
teach or to assume authority over a man”.
My personal interpretation is:
a) Paul elsewhere makes blanket statements, “Cretans [inhabitant of island of Crete] are always
liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. This saying is true.”, in Titus 1:12. Was it just a personal
outburst or an absolute and eternal truth?
b) “ I do not permit… ” is a personal statement.
c) Deborah was a warrior leader, prophetess and judge of Israel for decades. She was definitely
in authority over men. Huldah was a prophetess. Philip’s daughters prophesied.
d) There is continuity from O.T. to N.T. See the table in #5. If God did not want women to teach or
have authority over men, then there would have been such a restriction in the O.T. too. we
would have seen it throughout.
i) Since women did not lead or teach often in secular life, it was not due to a stricture from
God, but women were illiterate and a weaker section of society.
ii) The O.T. priests were men only. But in the N.T., all believers are priests. There is no
spiritual distinction between men and women being priests. “...nor is there male and
female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
e) There was no such prohibition from Jesus. However, all the apostles were men.
f) My Christian journey has been blessed by the teachings of women like Kay Arthur and Alaine
Pakkala.
I do not know if women can be senior pastors (again, Old Testament model!) but I am convinced that
they can teach and preach.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

I was discouraged and stopped posting...

for 1.5 years we attended the branch site of a megachurch in the Chicago suburbs, (www.chapel.org). I corresponded with the senior pastor via email. Their response is to kick you out without biblical process Matt 18, if you ask hard questions.
Megachurches in America are just businesses masquerading as the body of Christ. They have two classes of people - staff (clergy) and congregation. They aim to get the congregation to give 10% of their income, and volunteer and make up the numbers.
The staff does the spiritual work. The congregation is the audience that is only allowed to sit and cheer. It is sickening.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Was America founded as a Christian nation?

In our church prayer meeting this morning, our pastor prayed that school shootings like the Parkland Florida happened because we "removed God from our schools and were a Christian nation, and are trying to erase the Creator".

I was remembering my email conversation with a friend after our trip to Washington DC last August. I put my responses down here.

In the Capitol (where Congress meets), the ceiling of the dome is painted.
The painting in the Cupola is called the Apotheosis of Washington where it depicts him as God in heaven... here it is. https://goo.gl/images/pfcL6d

We saw the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Capitol Hill , money being printed at the mint, and some of the museums. We visited the Air and Space Museum, and saw the Hope Diamond in the museum of natural history. But we could explore them for only a few hours each. We watched the president's Marine Corps band play a concert at the lawns of the Washington Monument in the night. On our way back we visited Gettysburg and retraced some of the battle through the battlefields. We are still driving back home as we speak.
But my overall impression was that Washington was made into a god even the painting in the Cupola showed him as God and he had the capital named after him and in the Capitol Museum it clearly said that he was a Freemason and his Freemasonry geometry tools were used in the measuring of the laying of the capitol. These were displayed. Also I had read before that our currency has Freemasonry in it in the pyramid and Eye and I had dismissed them as conspiracy theories. Not anymore. This did not seem like a very Christian Nation to me when I saw it. There was no mention of Jesus or even God and as far as I could see there was only glorification of the founding fathers and I said this even when we entered the country 20 years ago; the founding fathers are  revered as the prophets and the Constitution is the Bible. I wonder if America is inventing its own religion called Americanism. It sounds crazy to even think it. Also they're rewriting history. Civil War retelling glorified the Union as morally good and the Confederates as evil. But it has been argued by theologians that the Bible does not prohibit slavery and the Confederates were fighting sincerely for their cause. The capital tour guide told us that they will be removing all the Confederate statues in the capital. The Confederate states are pushing for their removal.


Through the years, I have heard sermons in American churches of how godly the founding fathers were.

However when I saw for myself, I was shocked and I wonder if American Christians are in denial.
I find it sinister that the Washington monument is a Freemason symbol and also no other building is allowed to be taller than it. Even a secular webpage has this to say.

"While the idea that the obelisk is a representation of the phallus may be a story that seems stranger than fiction, when you think of Washington as the founding father of the United States, and the obelisk being a representation of fatherhood/patriarchy, it makes a lot of sense. Moreover, Washington was a Master Freemason, which in their terminology deems him as a “living stone” who became the cornerstone of American civilization. All the stars seem to align and the dots connect as to why the Washington monument was erected (no pun intended) in his honour."
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/06/18/the-surprising-hidden-meaning-of-the-washington-monument/

It becomes absolutely clear when there is no mention of Jesus at all in the shrines of America - that the "in God we trust" refers to a general god - just like Brahman, or Zeus or Buddha or Allah.

On my mother's side of the family, they were devout and strong Christians.
But on my father's side, my father's father was a Hindu and a freemason.
My father recalls, as a boy, seeing him in his robes.
I found this article about freemasonry being a religion.

http://www.padfield.com/1993/lodge.html



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Book Review - Even In Our Darkness by Jack Deere

I am usually not this enthusiastic about a book. But this book has consumed me the past week.

video review here https://youtu.be/iumbl-NV2qw

(Note:
A) I spent many hours consuming and reviewing this book as a tribute to Jack Deere, and also I think as a father myself,
I was mourning the suicide of his son.

B) I originally rated it 5 stars but lowered it to 3 stars for this reason:
Three weeks after I read the digital book as part of the so-called "launch team" whose purpose was to generate social media publicity for the book, I have no desire to read it again.
Too much pain and too little teaching that I can refer to to help me with my life. The editors in their well-meaning ignorance removed Jack's "how-tos, illustrations, teaching". Now all that is left is the story.

C) It seems to me that the publisher (Zondervan) formed launch teams whose purpose was to generate 5-star reviews.
When 5-star reviews are created before they are released to the public, then there are few negative reviews and
it generates lots of book sales. When I posted an honest but somewhat unflattering review below, I was removed from the
launch team without any explanation. As a Christian, I felt used by these other Christians.
(I purchased two printed copies. I received one free signed copy - see attached photo)
----

Question: Can we escape our generational curses?
Numbers 14. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’
Ezekiel 18:20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child.

1. This is a book about generational curses.
I do not know if even Jack Deere realizes it since he does not mention it in the book.
I used to wonder about the two contradictory Bible verses above. After reading his book, now I understand what they mean.
We are doomed to repeat the sinful patterns of our parents and grandparents.
When we are friends with God, we can mitigate or even remove completely, the curse resulting from repeating their patterns.
Jack’s father was callous and in his selfish pursuit of his career, he neglected his family.
Jack’s mother and her father did not have any love for Jack and were physically cruel to him.
They were also sexually promiscuous.
The teenage Jack resolves to put it all behind him because Christ makes us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
However it is not so easy. He repeats his father’s patterns of callousness and to his son and wife.
I think there was a failure of communication and involvement with his son,
which is not fully brought out in the book.
The book is a journey of the suicide of Jack’s father, the conflict with cessationist Dallas Seminary,
the suicide of Jack’s son, and the childhood sexual abuse and addictions of his wife.

2. Growing up, he thinks that romantic love (“The Kiss”) will rescue him from his pit - this is the salvation that the secular world preaches.
Just like a girl dreams of a knight in shining armor who will sweep her off her feet and rescue her from her dragons.

3. During the downward spiral of his parent’s marriage and his father’s unraveling, they visit a church.
Some men from the church come and visit once, and then move on since his father does not join their church.
This is an indictment of the American church system.
Tragically there was no one in the church system who would come around and befriend an unbeliever couple - Jack's parents.
Either you join their club, or they move on.
Seeker sensitive megachurches are no different. They seem more 'accepting' of unbelievers and are modern.
However, they just want our money - the 10% tithe of our incomes. "Give to God through us", they exclaim.

4. This book is revolutionary in a spiritual way. With his earlier books,
Jack was revolutionary for embracing and propagating Charismatic Theology as a professor of the cessationist Dallas Seminary.
Why is this book revolutionary? In the secular universe, achievement and success in life is the measure of the life of a man or woman.
In the Christian universe, your measure of sinlessness is the measure of your spiritual worth.
I have never seen a pastor confess a real sin unless it was from the distant past.
The only time pastors and christian leaders confess a real sin is when they are found out,
caught and about to be punished. I don’t know if Jack Deere has confessed his major sins in this book but they are for sure,
sins to some degree.
It is no longer fashionable to wear one's Sunday Best to church. Nowadays preachers wear untucked shirts, and jeans to the pulpit.
However they still wear their Sunday Best in terms of the image or brand they convey.
Confessing your real sins will get you terminated or lowered in spiritual status.
Likewise with the congregation - 'their sins go underground'.

5. This book is remarkable for a third reason.
This book is remarkable in that ordinary people can relate to things in it. I know that I can identify with some of the things in the book.
I would say that all memoirs or autobiographies are written for the author’s glory (though few will admit to it).
For the reader to admire and adore the author’s achievements or strength of person. “Wow!”.
Christian memoirs are written to show how God chose the author “anointed” and partnered with him or her to achieve some great purpose.
Reader thinks, “Wow! This person was special”
I was suspicious when I started reading the book. But Jack Deere’s book genuinely seems to have been written to give God the glory.
The unseen wind of God moving in his circumstances was God’s hand on Deere’s life.
God’s hand is in the spotlight, not Jack Deere. The reader feels closer to God.
The reader thinks, “Wow, how great is our God! He can be accessible to me and his hand can be on my life too”. The book fulfills its purpose.

6. There is something missing in the book and if I could ask Deere one question:
I did not see even one mention of the correction, spanking, punishment of the believer by God.
Where does it fit into Jack’s theology? I wonder if growing up, he felt only punishment and no love from his mother, father and grandfather,
so that his book is all about the love of God, and none of the correction.

7. On a positive note, what I find great about this book is that it tells us that God is accessible to all of us.
We do not need to be great men or pastors or theologians like Jack was.
This book is also a warning from another's mistakes - we must parent with our presence

8. There is a warning for those of us who are parents.
As I see it, Jack did not give Scott his presence.
Scott is molested by a church worker in John Wimber’s church - Wimber was the founder of the Vineyard/Jesus movement!
(It is a strange thing to read of the power of God manifest in their church, yet such sin).
Parenting with your presence involves sacrifice.
I don't know why, but it appears that the Duartes were more Scott's parents than Jack was.
Scott lived with them for over an year and they paid for his college.
Jack Deere's involvement with his son seems to have been limited to hunting in Montana.
Why not schoolwork or learning a trade together or living with him?
It is easy to diagnose from a distance (and may seem unfair) and to comment on other's lives.
But I am thankful that Jack Deere has laid out his life for us to learn from.
If anything, it makes me resolve to parent with my presence.

9. If I have a criticism of the book;
The picture I have in mind of a jagged piece of wood with saw cuts and chisel holes.
Abrasive peaks and shadowy depths. The original book was like this.
Then his journalist son edited it and it became like someone who pours glue on the piece of wood.
When it dries, the sharp edges become smooth, the valleys are filled. It is polished.
And we have lost our view of the roughness and true persona of the author.
Important request to Zondervan (publisher of Even In Our Darkness):
In author Jack Deere's interview to Publisher's Weekly, (Feb 13, 2018), "[Deere] had trouble just telling the story. He wanted to add lessons and how-tos and applications to his tale. Deere’s journalist son Stephen and Zondervan editor John Sloan helped edit out the teaching and stick to the story, Deere said."
The teaching that you removed, is important to Christians.
We want to understand what the Bible teaches on the topics the book wrestles with.
The Holy Spirit, Suffering, God's Will, God's Power. Deere is a theologian and will have plenty to teach on these.
Can you please repackage the parts that you edited out, into an appendix of Question and Answer format? If it is too late to add to the print copy, then please make the appendix available as a bonus download from the book's website.
Otherwise the book reads like a well written newspaper article - a gripping read, but without teaching that we can use in our lives, becomes forgettable after a few weeks. .

10. Almost no mention of Jack's mother after he was 15 even though he stayed at home while attending TCU in Ft. Worth.
It is almost as if chunks were edited out. His mother bought a 3 bedroom house but we later read that he was in a mobile home.
What happened in between?

11. The clash between charismatic and cessationist theology cost Jack Deere his job, his church, and his friends.
Why doesn't God speak more clearly or divinely to people telling them the correct interpretation of a passage of scripture?
From my geography book as a child,
a cartoon diagram of the earth with 4 persons standing at opposite diameters, N,S,W,E each of them thinks they are up.
When we were newlyweds in India, an elder from our church,
Alex Kurian, a PhD graduate of Dallas Seminary invited us to tea in Bangalore.
I asked him my question, and he could not answer adequately.
A Jewish acquaintance scornfully remarked to me (when I shared the gospel) that Christianity has split into 3,000 religions.

12. Gun lovers may not like this, but a gun has so much destructive power and so easy to pull the trigger. If the Deere family did not own guns perhaps they would not have had double tragedies. I read that suicide and adultery travels down generations. It may be good for the Deere family to have a pact to get rid of their guns for the sake of their kids and grandkids, nephews and nieces, so that killing oneself with a gun will not be an easy option.






Sunday, August 7, 2016

pastors lie and are not struck dead. why not?

I feel sad for Ananias and Sapphira.

I do not understand. It is most unfair. Megachurch pastors lie to collect 10% of our income but they are not struck dead. Why not?

The megachurch we were attending until a few months ago (http://www.chapel.org) has gotten around the tithing lie by not calling it a tithe, but saying "we should give at least 10% of our income to God". It is their requirement (one of three) for all members. 2 Corinthians Chap 9 says we should give what we have decided in our hearts. 

Nowhere does it say "at least a tithe". so why do these pastors get away scot-free?


Acts 5:1-11New International Version (NIV)Ananias and SapphiraNow a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heartthat you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.


Friday, May 20, 2016

King David was a flawed hero

Pastors especially love King David for several reasons. The only blemish according to them, is his adultery with Bathsheeba and murder of Uriah her husband. They leave out a small but significant passage: 1 Samuel 27

"And David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. For those nations were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as you go to Shur, even as far as the land of Egypt. Whenever David attacked the land, he left neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the apparel, and returned and came to Achish."

When I read that he killed men, women and children just so that they would not tell his Philistine hosts what that he was raiding them, I lost all respect for him. I was angry and felt that King David was a murderous coward.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Kim Davis the county clerk, is a conscientious objector

Kim Davis, the county clerk who did not allow gay marriage licenses to be given under her jurisdiction in Kentucky - and was jailed for it, is a conscientious objector. The United Nations charter specifically states in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 1948, the issue of the right to "conscience" was dealt with by the United Nations General Assembly in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It reads:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance ". [wikipedia]

Perhaps Russia should petition the UN for Kim Davis to be freed. It is appropriate that the government of the USA should be embarrassed over their disgraceful conduct.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why are church sound levels so loud during worship?

 
At the church we have been attending (www.chapel.org), They have been keeping the sound at close to or just above 90 db. They are using OSHA studies to say that you need 2 hours of exposure to suffer hearing damage. I read the megachurch and highly influential Willowcreek Church put their levels at 94 dB.

What they do not realize is that there is likely no switch that suddenly flips and damages hearing after the "2 hour timeline" and that everything is fine until the last minute. That is not true.

Our bodies are not digital. It is more likely that hearing loss is happening all through. I am not an audiologist but I think that hearing damage does not suddenly start at the 2 hour cutoff - it is gradual. So even after 20 minutes, there may be some loss.

The fact that one experiences discomfort in hearing is a signal from the ears that something is wrong.


Interestingly, no one mentions the presence of God in these arguments.

When God spoke to Elijah on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19), he was not in the loud noises of the fire nor the earthquake, but in the whisper.

I do not believe that God is present in worship services where his children's hearing is being damaged. Our bodies - including our ears - are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How to avoid persistent anger and bitterness?

The answer isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness happens when the person who wronged you, repents and asks for your forgiveness. If he does not repent, you cannot forgive.

Due to wrong theology, Christians are taught that one must forgive even when your abuser does not repent. The stock favorite quote from the Bible is, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". Jesus was praying for his enemies, not forgiving them. He was praying that God would not wipe out his would-be murderers, but give them a chance to repent - and be forgiven of their sins. Jesus was following his own command to "pray for your enemies".

How am I so sure that this interpretation is correct? In Acts, the gospel message mentioned at least four times is "Repent...". Furthermore, the process for forgiveness given by Jesus is, "When your brother comes to you saying, I repent...".

What Jesus was showing through his prayer was, he did not have hatred nor bitterness towards his abusers - and that is all that is required of us.

But this is easier said than done.Your abuser may never repent. Even if he is a Christian, you may not be able to apply the conflict-resolution procedure in Matthew 18. What if you are not in the same church? What if there is no one willing to stand up for you?

Here are 3 ways I believe will help the process of avoiding persistent anger over the situation which always leads to hatred and bitterness.

1) Pray for your abusers.
what does it mean to 'bless those who persecute you?".
We must not pray for even greater empowerment for them to continue in their evil!
Pray for them to be saved. To find and know Jesus. For their lives to be a blessing.

2) Love.
what does it mean to love? As my friend Chris Graham says, "Love isn't a feeling, but is tied to an emotion". It means that when is weak and desperate, instead of killing him off, You spare his life. ("when he is hungry, give him food to eat").
Another passage to keep in mind as a yardstick for our love is 1 Corinthians Chap 13.

3) Focus on Christ.
In the martial art of jiu-jitsu, the saying goes that where the head points to, the body will follow.
When our thoughts are focused on Christ, our focus goes off our injury. It avoids the steeping of thoughts over our injury which will lead to sourness and then a vinegar-like bitterness.

Today is Easter... Resurrection Sunday!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Short answer of why Christians do not have to Tithe.

There seems to be a move away from  Tithing to 10+% Giving. In other words, recognizing that Tithing - the Old Testament command to the Jews to give 10% of their salary to support the temple priests - is theologically indefensible, pastors are now using emotional manipulation to get their congregation to give more than 10% of their income. "If Jesus gave His all for you, shouldn't you give more than 10%?".

Short answer of why Christians do not have to Tithe.

Tithing was under the Old Covenant to support the priests of the temple. In the New Covenant, all believers are the priests - "priesthood of the believer" 1 Peter 2:9. Our bodies are the temple. We give (not tithe) to support full time evangelists and needy believers. Everyone else should have a secular profession to support themselves "each of you should work with his hands" 1 Thessalonians 4:11. Pastors, teachers and all other church staff should be paid for their work - but part-time, not full-time salaries.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Do not misquote, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing..."

In most sermons there is all mention of praying for enemies and forgiving them, but no mention of repentance on the part of the wrongdoer.
This twists what the Bible says. Abusers use this as their favorite quote so that they do not have to repent.

Consider:


  • In the quote above from Luke 23:34, Jesus was actually "praying for his enemies". On the cross, Jesus prayed for his enemies, but did not say, "I forgive them". He was in fact, asking God to not zap his crucifiers but to allow them to live to repent and be forgiven.



  • Jesus did not harbor bitterness and hatred against his murderers.



  • On the cross, Jesus forgave only the thief who repented, and gave him eternal life. He did not forgive the thief who mocked him and refused to repent.



  • Jesus mentioned we are to forgive when our brother repents (Luke 17:3,4).



  • God forgives us only when we repent (Acts 3:19).



  • He also prescribed a process in Matthew 18.

Why is this such a big deal?

By false teaching, everyone who has sinned against another - every child molester, every wrong doer, simply has to tell his victim, "you have to forgive me, even if I don't repent".

It is easy to repent before God because you cannot see God and whatever you tell him is private - say a quick prayer, and you are forgiven. However repenting to your victim requires humility because there may be humiliation. It requires a willingness to set things right, because you may have to pay (even go to jail) if there is justice involved.

God requires wrongdoers to repent to their victims for forgiveness and reconciliation to happen.

Unfortunately because of this evil and false teaching, many Christians do not repent nor admit wrong to those they have sinned against.

See also:
Radio Bible Class Should I Offer Forgiveness Without Repentance?
Luke 17 ministries "If No Unconditional Forgiveness, Then What About 'Father Forgive Them'?"



Monday, September 15, 2014

An Observation on Parents and Grandparents

I do not know if this is specific to Eastern cultures, but after observing multiple sets of parents, I came to the realization that:

  • parents and grandparents do not want to repent for wrongs and sins they have done to their children or grandchildren. Parents do not want to apologize to their children.
  • parents and grandparents do not want to have honest discussions with their children or grandchildren where their wrongdoings and sins are opened up for discussion.
  • parents and grandparents do not want to be held accountable by their children, for their wrong attitudes and actions.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Christian and the death penalty

This used to be my written opinion on the death penalty:

God supports the death penalty. Not just because He prescribed it as punishment in the Old Testament, but because that is how He chose to have His Son Jesus, die for us. Jesus did not die in an accident, nor was he murdered, die of natural causes or disease. God did not waive the penalty.
                                               

In the Old Testament, God prescribed the death penalty to pay for sin. Bulls and lambs were sacrificed for the sin of the people. To pay for our sin, Jesus was executed. To me this affirms God’s support for it.

I still have the same opinion yet... I have been wondering about what happens when there was a wrong death penalty decision in the Bible. 
For instance...


Deuteronomy 21:18-21
New International Version (NIV)
A Rebellious Son18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

What if the parents were wrong? There is no indication of a fair trial, nor do we see instructions for a fair trial.




dwell on the positive

Last Sunday, we attended Life Changers Church, a mega-church in Hoffman Estates. The sound volume was so loud that we could not sit inside for fear of damaging our hearing. During the offering, the pastor used manipulative tactics to pressure people into giving 10% of their salary. He told a story of a businessman who was going to give a check to the pastor when someone came and gave him bad news. He reached out and took back the check and tore it up. Then he wrote a fresh check for double the amount, saying 'this is what it will take to get me out of this mess'.

However, I must say that two ushers were very helpful and understanding. They were in obvious fear of saying anything to the leadership about the damaging sound. Yet, there was hospitality - first time guests receive a free sandwich lunch.

I realized something important. Both are facts, Good and Bad. I will never visit that church again because it seems to be a church that exploits its members.

One must not deny the truth - both Good and Bad. However there is a choice in what one dwells on. I often would have been stewing over the negative - and ruin my mind. The Bible says, "As a man thinketh, so is he". One must also look for positives in one's experience. In other words, acknowledge and briefly discuss the negatives in this case, but allow ones mind to dwell on the positives.


Friday, April 25, 2014

article: "Cashing in on Jesus"



"Does the church teach tithing to scam us into overpaying staff and constructing lofty cathedrals?" Glen Guyton.

I was frankly amazed to see a church official a Chief Operating Officer (of the Mennonite church), no less, say this.
Here is the link to his article but since it may not last long, I am quoting the entire article.

CASHING IN ON JESUS

Glen Guyton is director of finance and convention planning for Mennonite Church USA.
Glen Guyton is chief operating officer for Mennonite Church USA.
By Glen Guyton
“You give your tithe as a spiritual duty, the same way you breathe. When you give without looking for results, you are giving openly. That giving is rewarded secretly. That secret rewarding may come as a flash of insight into the heart of God.”
— John-Roger, DSS
I must confess that views on tithing and church stewardship have changed. For years when people asked me, “Why should I tithe?” My reply was, “Because God said so.”  If you are reading this blog I am sure you have very strong opinions about tithing and stewardship.
The lead-off quote has probably made you furiously sort through the file cabinet of your theological knowledge to come up with arguments against mandatory tithing. Is tithing really a spiritual duty?  Does paying 10% of income to a church guarantee that God lets me behind the velvet rope to His secret blessing room? Does the church teach tithing to scam us into overpaying staff and constructing lofty cathedrals?
While writing this blog I came across two tithing websites that approach the issue from two very different angles.  Tithing.org approaches tithing from the viewpoint that God’s is our partner and we need to “cash-in” on that relationship. The tithe, or 10% of your income, is the magical key into unlocking those benefits.
Tithing.com says that their goal is to “help inform and encourage Christian believers about following biblical giving that is not bound by tithing, but is sacrificial and cheerful… [breaking] from the bondage to legalism and encourage[ing] everyone to embrace sacrificial giving led by the Spirit of God.” Who knew tithing was so controversial?
In Mennonite Church USA we don’t use the “T-Word” much. We talk more about stewardship and as an Anabaptist I like how that feels. Stewardship is about the 100% of who we are.  C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
“Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.”
We don’t owe God 10% we owe God 100%. As good stewards we are called to manage all resources responsibly, not just our money, but our health, time, and talents as well. We unlock the power of God by giving Him our best, not a tenth of it.
My old football coach used to ask for 110%, but I don’t think that was even possible. In some sense stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service.