Sunday, September 14, 2014

Perfect love casts out your constant companion, I mean fear

Doctor Who intrigues me.  I'm an evangelical young earth creationist who loves Jesus and loves Ken Ham.

The BBC is quite possibly Richard Dawkins's evangelistic program.

And the same time, British culture is so alluring to me.  Nothing is so alluring as Doctor Who.  I love the characters, the relationships, the stories, and just the British awkwardness.  But the writers make it no secret that they are atheists.

So last night's episode, "Listen" intrigued me.  It opens with the Doctor asking, "Why do you talk out loud even though you know nobody is listening?  Or is it nobody?"  He then spends the rest of the episode interviewing people with that same question.  My answer: "It sounds like you might believe in God."

Stuff like this is why I love the Doctor.  Yes they are atheists, and yes, they don't mind letting you know, but they also present their information in a way that God might possibly still exist.  No matter, how hard they try to suppress him, it is obvious that God exists, or else nothing in the universe would make sense.  Paul is so right in Romans 1.

So the Doctor and his current sidekick, Clara, decide this non-entity has a name.  It's fear.  "Fear is okay.  It is your constant companion.  It makes you either crumble or stronger, but it is the one thing that stays with you."

Man, what a bleak outlook on life.  I know the atheists love to tell people like me that we invent God to make ourselves feel more comfortable about death and life's meaning.  Even if that was true, do they have anything better to offer me?  Do I really want to give up my hope of a God who saves and a Jesus who never leaves and a time that never ends in exchange for a dead universe that ends and is barren where fear is my only companion?

In church this morning, I sang the words of "In Christ Alone."  It has the words, "No guilt in life, no fear in death.  This is the power of Christ in me.  From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."  Amen.  How comforting to know that Doctor Who is only a fairy tale. Jesus is the reality and life's only meaning.  I just don't see how people want so badly to control their own lives and their own moralities that they would rather live in a world where fear is their only companion.

But we are friends with Fear.  His name is Jesus.  If our fear is directed to him, then we're complete.  He receives our fear, and is completely disappears, replaced by his Spirit.

1 John 4:13-21:
"By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."

Perfect love casts out fear.  Yes we will fear, but we take Fear and accept him as a friend and he changes that into eternal Love and Life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Hair Points to the Sky...

...The place I want to be.

At the start of this post I really have no clue what I'm writing about.  I just know a lot is on my mind.

Musically: I'm starting to like this band called For King and Country more and more.  They have a great song called "Fix My Eyes."  It's my new theme song.  Their new album comes out in two Tuesdays.  LifeWay has a display for it.  I don't think it will go over in that neighborhood, but they are British, and being a Doctor Who and ELO fan, I love that.  They don't sound like Keane, but I think of them when I hear them.

What do you do when there is an outspoken civil rights activist who is also pro-life and stands up for Conservative beliefs and has relatives whose birthdays we celebrate as holidays?  I personally look up to that person and would love to join the cause.  What do you do if she came into the store you work at for the third time last Monday since you've worked there this year?  I mean, she's just there looking at the clearance items and the bargain fiction books.  How does one proceed other than ask if there is anything I can help with?  Maybe that is it.  Maybe I should just ask her that in her pro-life and civil rights activism.

Working at LW, you are encouraged to share connection stories with the staff.  They can be anonymous or have your name on them.  Either way, what if you get a really good one but it has so many personal aspects that you are hesitant to share it?  A lady comes in looking for books about reaching gay people.  She has a friend who is considering the lifestyle.  I myself am concerned about this issue as a former youth pastor who volunteers at a pregnancy center and longs for people to learn to follow the Lord and not their desires.  I myself burn with passion but learned that it's not a sin to love someone of your same gender.  It's a sin to make it sexual.  (And I'm happily married to a man, but was still raised in a highly sexual society that has not left me unscathed).  I was really touched by that shopper.  She asked, "Are there churches that have programs for this thing?"

I honestly wish there was a clear answer for that.  I know the church I attend has Celebrate Recovery and deals with all "hurts, habits, and hangups."  Perhaps we could start dealing with this at our pregnancy centers.  There was Exodus International and I'm sad to say that it's gone away due to people reverting back to their old lifestyles.  There are outspoken Christians who have same-sex attraction such as Sam Alberry who follow the Lord and lead conferences for the Gospel Coalition.

And a civil rights leader comes to shop at LifeWay.  Just as we are just now starting to have peace with people who have darker shades of skin than me, although the Dream still has a long way to go, can we learn to realize that our deep passions for our friends are not a sexual calling, but a gift from God to love people and lead them to Jesus?  To care for people's needs before our own?  To find more constructive ways to channel our desires like in music or sports?  What if we learn how to mortify the deeds of the flesh by not focusing on not thinking of the elephant in the room, but by focusing on God and what he wants?  Jesus is the only way to find meaning for all your passions and dreams.  His plan really does work.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fences and Yancey

And this summer I led a 1st grade class through the Jungle Safari VBS at CBC.  It was one of the best things I've done since getting married.  There is no greater hope than leading children to the Lord and hoping that they get it and it sticks to adulthood.

The curriculum from Standard Publishing (which I sold to the people at LifeWay in a way) had music from this singer named Yancey.  Who is Yancey?  I assume she's just this young chick who writes children's music for Standard Publishing.  But she's actually really good.  She has short, spiked hair with a highlight, dresses in punk clothes, and rocks with a bunch of kids in the background.  One of her songs was good enough that we started singing it in the chapel service.

Here is the link to the song, and it actually is a good one.

What became of this revelation for me?  It reminded me of the year I enjoyed Paramore.  It was a brief spell, but it was also a time when I was trying to influence younger kids.  I went through an escapism period where I liked Twilight and therefore Paramore.  And I knew young girls who are easily influenced by this.  I'm actually really sorry for that.

But Paramore has this one good song called "Fences."  It really makes you think of the teen celebrity culture.  You think of young people like Miley Cyrus who were raised in a certain mold as a minor.  She makes a stand for Christ and celibacy before marriage.  Then she turns 18 and kicks loose and now she swings on a wrecking ball in mostly her birthday suit.  What happened?

Not defending her or anything, but trying to understand, this chick had to be mature and wholesome with no direction as to its meaning or relevance.  Disney presented her the luxurious life of fame, food, friends, and attraction.  Then she left any statement she used to have about Jesus and decides to experiment.  To her, Jesus and goodness were just her TV image.  She grew up as a TV personality and is just know trying to figure out who she really is.  But at this time or exploring is now permanently on camera for all to see and to influence young girls.  Even if she goes on to repent, which I hope she does, she will still have this permanent record of he folly as she went through adolescent crisis.

I love how "Fences," sung by another young lady who is famous, claims Christianity, but is not real clear on how it changes her life, pleads with these young stars, male of female, to set up boundaries and fences to protect them from the dangling millions offered by Disney.  They feel like they have to do everything their manager says, and they get some joy out of it, but they are dying on camera because they abandoned faith in God for this quick temporary pleasure in order to get sponsors.  When you are famous, it is hard to have a private life.  In fact, I feel really sorry for such kids as Miley, Justin, and even recently departed such as Shirley Temple.  Even if, like Shirley Temple, you grow up into respectable adulthood, you still live the Truman Show.  You have no private life and any slip-ups from time to time get published into history.  Shirley was pro-choice for a spell in the 70s.  Justin got arrested.  We all know the story of Britney, Timberlake, and Lohan.

If only they had heard "Live Differently" by Yancey when they grew up.  Yes, they will stand out, but then again, they'd stand out.  Read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.  Learn to tell people no even if it risks your career.  And seriously, you can earn fame when your more mature enough to handle it.

PS hope the video works.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeing Gallifrey from my House

It's actually hilarious.  Frustrating, but hilarious.  I remember in the 2008 election when Sarah Palin ran for Vice President and gave me so much hope because her running mate is such a RINO.  The media couldn't stand a beautiful, popular woman who is feminist and also ragingly pro-life and against Oblabla.  People began to hate her because they believe everything NBC says without question.

That's not the point.  One time, Tina Fey portrayed her on SNL.  She was great, and Palin loved her portrayal.  Tina's most famous moment was when someone asked her about foreign policy.  Playing Palin, Tina said, "I can see Russia from my house!"

I loved that skit.  However, people on Facebook kept saying that Palin said she could see Russia from her house, so she thought she was good at foreign policy.  They would say, "I can see the moon from my house but I shouldn't work for NASA."  Facepalm.  Sarah never said that.  Tina said that in portrayal of Sarah.  You actually can see Russia from parts of Alaska and swim there.  But that's not the point.  That was just a clever SNL joke.

Changing the subject sort of: I grew up in a household where at least my mom and I loved cats.  I love my cats and have gone great lengths for them.  But Mom and Dad both told me that animals do not have souls and will likely not end up in heaven.  Recently Dad brought that up again at dinner, and I just had to disagree.

The thing is, animals are not as valuable as humans.  Humans are made in God's image and he sent Jesus to redeem them.  But I'm telling you, I think of Rachel, Leah, and cats from the past such as Stan and Pogo the rare male calico and think, no they'll be in heaven.  They have souls.  Why?  My love for them gives them souls.

Genesis 1:28 is where God told his new humans to multiply greatly over the earth and subdue it.  When they sinned, it damned all creation, not just the humans.  Before that, carnivorous dinosaurs at only plants and so did we.  Nothing died.  Now all creation groans, dies, suffers, and bleeds until Christ's return.

Revelation 21 also speaks of a new heaven and a new earth.  We're made in Jesus's image and he died for just our salvations, but no, if we are saved, our pets and animals will be in heaven, too.  God's kingdom will be here on earth one day and all will be as before yet without sin or dying.

So, here comes the absurd notion started by Bill Maher and that guy who hosts that Cosmos show.  Bless their hearts, they're spreading the rumor that Ken Ham believes aliens are going to hell so we should not witness to them.

They have greatly misrepresented him and made a "Russia from my house" statement for Ham that will last until Christ comes back.  Fine.  People spread lies about other people.  Other people believe them.  That's life and Ken will just have to live with the fact that he know what he said and there's nothing wrong with him.  I've been there too.  It's totally alright.

But I can see how Bill and Degrassi What's-his-face could glean from Ken's writings such a conclusion, and this is a point I've never quite come eye-to-eye with Ken on myself.  Believe me the guy is brilliant and if people would pull their fingers out of their ears, stop saying "la-la-la I can't hear you" and listen to him, there really is no reason to scientifically believe in evolution.  In fact, science confirms God, Creation, Jesus, the Flood, and a young earth.

But it is true that Ken does not believe in aliens because God created humans in his image, Adam's descendants, us, are the reasons why the universe is in such pain, and Jesus graciously died for Adam's people - you and me - and not for any other species.  He did not die for the angels.  If angels are damned then they have no chance at salvation.  But he had mercy on us for whatever reason.

So according to Ken, if there is alien life out there, then it's not biologically descended from Adam and Eve, and therefore Christ did not die to save them.  It would not be much use to try to seek them out, much less witness to them.

Now, I love sci-fi.  I love Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars and the rest.  I don't actually believe in extraterrestrial life except for maybe God himself and his angels.  But I don't see why sentient beings outside of this planet cannot be redeemed along with us.  If my cats are going to be in heaven because I love them, then beings from other planets will be there, too.  Actually, not heaven, but God's kingdom on earth.  Let's get away from the heaven idea, because eternal life is going to be right here in God's New Creation.  Heaven is for now, but will not always be invisible.

When Christopher Columbus stumbled upon America, he met the Native Americans.  True human beings with souls for whom Christ died.  We had not seen them since the world broke up at the tower of Babel and some of Jephthah's descendants became maritime people and sailed away into the great unknown.  But lo and behold, the Native Americans are our relatives too.

I think one of the Church's biggest embarrassments is not seeing people who are different from us as full humans.  This is why we've had tragedies such as slavery, abortion, the Holocaust, and the murder of American Indians for their land by the American government.  If Meghan New, a Caucasian female in Georgia, could look at black people, Asian people, Latinos, autistic people, poor people, people who do not listen no matter how much you want to help them, and everyone else as human beings equal to us and not less valuable, maybe MLK's dream could finally come true.  All people have problems.  I have problems.  They are not the same as other people's problems, but they are still problems.  I may be able to talk and hold a job while my autistic brother can't live independently and needs 24-hour supervision, it does not render my brother the one with the problem.  He has problems, I have different problems.  I may have ASD tendencies, but people who don't have them also have problems.  We all stink.  We are all rotten.  We all need God's grace.

And guess what.  I'm not descended from Abraham.  I'm not biologically a Jew, but by Christ's blood, I'm a member of his Church.  I am descended from Adam and related to you, but my cats are not.  Yet they are still members of my household and have dignity as members of the New family.  And people who do not have origins on earth may not be related to us any more than a cat or dog, but they can come under the umbrella of Christ's redemption. 

So are there aliens?  Who cares?  All I know is that Christ will renew all creation, therefore all its denizens will have a representation in his Kingdom.

The end.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Irenaeus 1-3: Valentinians

Irenaeus preaches against the most common heresy that creeped into the church early on: gnosticism.  There are many forms of gnosticism, but the one Irenaeus decries is the Valentinian kind.  These people follow Valentinus.

Let me say, it is confusing, but I'll try to explain it.

In the highest heavens there is the most excellent being.  These days he is called Bythus, but he has other names.  Bythus had a wife named Sige.  They begat male and female pairs of twins.  There are 15 pairs and together they are called the Ogdoad.  All the individuals are called Aeons.

Aeons wish to honor Bythus, so they make their own aeon pairs.  This group of thirty aeons is also called a Pleroma.

For 30 years, Jesus the Savior kept silent while these aeons ruled the world.  Jesus is also called Monogenes, and he sprang from Bythus unknown to all except for the aeon Nous.  Ultimately, one of the youngest aeons, Sophia, tried to create a child with Bythus.  She wanted passion apart from her twin aeon.  Because of this she fell from heaven and somehow had Jesus.

These people also consider Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to be aeon twins.

Somewhere in there, matter is also evil, and it was created through Monogenes who was the product of Sophia and Bythus.  He is the evil Demiurge who is God of the Old Testament, and Jesus came to save the world and the aeons from him.

So basically, 1. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are less than God.
2. God the father is a demiurge
3. How did Jesus get here again?  I'm confused.
4. How insulting to say that all the matter and the universe around you with its beauty is an evil gift from the OT God!
5.  This is not Christianity but its ideas crept into the church teaching the way they do today.

This lives on today.  All the names are changed and might even be real people from time to time.  But if you are in a place where Jesus is merely God's power and not God, then you are drinking the Valentinian Gnostic kool-aid.  If the God of the OT and Jesus are separate beings, you might be a gnostic.

Do not be deceived.  God created a good world.  Man corrupted it with Sin.  God sent his Son Jesus as a gracious gift to save the whole planet and redeem his people back to him again.  It's like night and day different from Gnosticism.  Matter is not the problem.  God did not cause evil.  We caused it by disobeying God.  Now he sent Jesus not accidentally but planned it from before creation to save humans and matter from the evil of treason against our Creator.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Irenaeus: intro

I started reading the ancient church fathers on CCEL again.  I got out of the habit and want to come back.

I return with someone I can relate to.  Irenaeus is best known for his polemics: Against All Heresies.  I need to read this work because of my desire to steer people away from lies that are dressed up in cute tuxes and dresses for Sunday.

After reading the intro, two things stuck in my mind.

1) To quote Wayne Rogers, the devil is not going to be dressed up in a red suit and parading down Bourbon Street.  He's going to wear an adorable tux and walk through the church doors like a cute young man younger than five. 

"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself."

It will come disguised as someone who cares for the poor, children, the marginalized.  They sing good music and have good speeches.  They are absolutely affectionate with you.  But inside they deny the possibility of eternal damnation or they deny the deity of Christ.  Or they decide that all that isn't important, that all religions are equally valid.

Or sometimes they do have all the good theology but they use it to tell people that they can use God as a vending machine to get healings, a good job, a good marriage, money, and all the comforts that Jesus never had.  They have no sight of the invisible world that is more permanent, making all our gains here worthless in comparison.

2) Irenaeus was a relatively uneducated man, so his words will be more raw and uncultured than most people.  He's not the slick professor on NPR.  He's the southern guy next door with all the unconventional wisdom.

"Thou wilt not expect from me, who am resident among the Keltæ, and am accustomed for the most part to use a barbarous dialect, any display of rhetoric, which I have never learned, or any excellence of composition, which I have never practised, or any beauty and persuasiveness of style, to which I make no pretensions."

It's funny, I've never really had an opinion on Duck Dynasty.  All I know is I work at LifeWay and we sell their products.  And some people like them and some people despise them.  Both sides come into the store in South Atlanta and they come in all races on both sides.  I don't know if they're becoming more of a cult classic among the younger boys around there, but they are picking up attention.  They became more controversial last December with Phil's interview that got him suspended from the A & E network.

I'm sure they are nice moral people, but I always got the idea that their Christianity was more part of their Southern Culture then part of them.  I'm glad they support Republicans and the 2nd Amendment, but y'all, there's more to conservatism than that.

I imagine Irenaeus being kind of like those guys but his Christianity is more than culture.  It's a part of him.  He may be unrefined and crude, but he does cuss and use anatomical language like Phil did, causing me to not really take a side in that debate.  But just the same, I do side with right theology and rightly loving Jesus and being content with where God has placed you and how he's made you.  I look forward to seeing what he says real soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The List: 6-17-14

Here is some notable music that matches the neighborhood of Cleveland Avenue and is superb.  LifeWay should pay attention to these people.

First is Je'Kob.  He has a song called "I Believe"

Notice how he makes a huge stand for believing in creation and not evolution.

This next group is an anomaly: the Walls Group

I haven't heard such Jesus-centered lyrics in a long time.  I don't know many people in South Atlanta who enter a church who can say, if I never get that house or that car or no one knows my names, but I have Jesus I'm alright.  Really, what if you have nothing other than Jesus.  You already have heaven.  What more do you need?  People, listen to the Walls Group.  Calvin would give a thumbs up.