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Food for thought

Posted on : 09-30-2005 | By : Andy | In : random, religion

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So yesterday I was driving home past all these obscenely nice houses, and wondering what I would do if God blessed me with ridiculous amounts of money. I was thinking I’d enjoy it some, and give lots away. Then I made it home and got the mail…

One of the first things I saw was a letter from a local food/relief agency. They wanted me to sponsor some thanksgiving dinners for local needy people. Only $1.84 for a complete thanksgiving meal for someone! I went to throw it in the trash, (thinking “I’m not made of money!”) but something stopped me. Last time I went grocery shopping I spent $80 on lots of stuff that I like. Not stuff that was necessarily staples for existence, but lots of fun, more expensive stuff, too. Come to think of it, Lisa and I just went out to eat, easily surpassing that princely sum of $1.84 by a factor of many.

God whispers to my heart then, “why should I entrust you with much, when you haven’t even been faithful with a little?” Ouch. So I get out the checkbook and sponsor a few meals. And you know what? It felt great. It felt like I was doing something God made me for: loving and serving those in need. In fact, it felt better than spending that money on myself. God has a big heart for the fatherless, the alien, and the widow–why shouldn’t I?

Now, God probably won’t dump a million dollars in my lap because I bought some turkey for a few homeless people, but He may just dump some other blessings on my sometimes worn-out heart. On second thought, He already has. If you’re not alread an active philanthropist, I encourage you to give something today to someone who needs it. Do it cheerfully, knowing God blessed you so you could in turn bless others. I dare you. You just might come away from it a happier person.

Some days I wake up Pentecostal

Posted on : 09-28-2005 | By : Andy | In : religion

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Yes, it’s true. Some days I wake up, look at the sunshine (or the clouds) and feel like having a Pentecostal day. Take Monday, for example. I woke up wanting Jesus to be more than just a thought in my head, an idea on my lips, a religion that I follow, the other end of a “personal relationship,” or the object of spiritual disciplines. I want to be in love with Him, to feel his heart beat inside of mine, to be swept away in His holy fire.

Don’t get me wrong–if you ask me I’d say that yes, I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I’d tell you that spiritual disciplines are good for you, that you ought to meditate on Him, and that He did tell us to share the Gospel. But some times, I want to be Pentecostal.

I was reading the acknowledgments in the Newsboys’ latest worship CD, “Devotion” on Monday night, and found them thanking Rice Broocks. Wait a second, I’ve heard that guy speak! He was some bigwig in the church I went to my freshman year of college! He’s pentecostal! (well, so was I. Correction–so am I, to a certain degree.)

I love the way Pentecostals experience Jesus. I love the way they let their emotions go when they worship God. I love the feeling of being inundated by the power of the Holy Spirit. They know how to really experience God. So why don’t I go to a charismatic church? Because I’m afraid that the tremendous joy of Spirit-filled worship is it’s own greatest enemy. All too often people begin to worship those feelings and live for miracles, and the end result is skewed theology. Often the world’s biggest tragedies begin with the best intentions.

So I seek balance: a solid base of faith and reason to my beliefs with sometimes abundantly overflowing worship. Though I love the extent of their faith, and the depth of their spiritual experience, I’m not a Pentecostal. Most of the time…

Daily Kent Stater – COLUMN: ‘Abstinence-only’ breeds ignorance

Posted on : 09-27-2005 | By : Andy | In : pop culture, religion

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(Read it here.)

I was a bit disturbed to read an article in the Daily Kent Stater today. The idea behind it was that teenagers “are going to have sex, so we shouldn’t tell them not to.” His beef was with abstinence-only education, which teaches kids to not have sex. The alternative? Show them how to have sex in the safest way possbile, essentially giving such a harmful and dangerous activity (not to mention sinful) their endorsement. Incidentally, the same issue of the paper also had an article that stated that half–that’s right, one half–of all sexually active men and women will contract HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, at one point in their life. For women, getting the virus even once has been shown to double her odds of getting cervical cancer. Contracting it a second time means she will almost certainly develop cervical cancer.

According to a letter posted “in support” of better sex ed (ie, not abstinence-only), 1 in 4 sexually active teens contract an STD every year. To encourage these kids to have “safe sex” is like telling them they can drive recklessly, so long as they wear seatbelts–and helmets, if they want to be extra safe. This philosophy is idiotic, and is leading to the destruction of our nation’s very moral fiber.

Research shows that people who are abstinent before marriage are more content in marriage, less likely to divorce, and (obviously) less likely to contract STDs. If you want more information, there’s a decent article outlining some facts, with good documentation of resources here.

Let’s quit calling things natural and start calling them sin. Because I want to have sex doesn’t necessarily make it right or healthy in every circumstance. Because homosexuals face different temptations than the rest of us, that doesn’t make it ok for them to succomb to those temptations. Because I want things (but it’s natural, I think I have a stealing gene) doesn’t make it alright for me to steal.

Let’s not deceive kids into thinking that they can get away with sin if they just do it the “safe” way. Disease, divorce, or eternity will catch up to them, and we shouldn’t be the guilty ones.

Seven Places makes me Blog.

Posted on : 09-26-2005 | By : Andy | In : pop culture, religion

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A few weeks ago this blog started as a result of my disappointment over Switchfoot’s seeming reluctance to even mention Jesus’ name. Today I received a Seven Places CD in the mail. The title: “Hear Us Say Jesus.” Booyeah, and I’m back blogging like a maniac.

This CD is awesome. Let me say that again, this CD is awesome. Musically I’m very impressed, and lyrically I’m blown away. Many of those who listen to Switchfoot do so because the lyrics aren’t all sunshine and roses, but more thoughtful and “real” than some Christian music. I’m glad to say Seven Places has managed to be thoughtful and real without losing Jesus. They acknowledge pain, but in the proper perspective—seasoning it with strong doses of God’s redemptive power and hope for eternity.

Check out some excerpts from a few of their songs—they convey some pretty clear messages, so I won’t have to comment, and you won’t have to give yourself a headache trying to figure out what the heck they’re trying to say (a la Switchfoot):

Track 1: Fall in Line
If you’re sitting down get on your feet / Let’s wake up those who are asleep…Hear us say Jesus / Where are we when the world caves in?…It’s time for us to stand up and speak the truth of His love / It’s time to let the world know we’ve got something to say / It’s time for us to lift our hands until the world understands / Jesus the reigning King is alive and well today

Track 2: Watch
Emptiness plagues you inside, you’re surrounded by sorrow / It follows you to where you hide, and exposes you every time / There is life beyond this crippling cage, and shelter from the rage / Only you can decide/ Watch these chains fall from my hands / Then you will understand, then you will understand / Watch me walk through these prison bars / Then you will know my heart is free, then you will know my heart is free / For the first time I’m alive / No longer pressed by doubt and fear / No longer drowning in my tears / He saved me from going under

Track 4: Perspective
I’ll find the sunrise in the dark skies warmth in fiery trials / Drown in your endless sea of love / So I can walk on water of hard times…It’s when I’m stranded and empty handed / I become dependent on you

Track 5: I Look Upon Your Hill
Oh Lord, You’ve worn the crown / I’ve placed upon Your head / Oh Lord, I’ve pierced Your hands / Yet Your blood declares my innocence

Track 6: We’re Almost There
The world has turned, inside-out / I’m choking on the dark / So I tilt my head to heaven / I’m reminded that / We’re almost there

Track 7: Lay it down
Life’s melodies can be accompanied by doubt / They start happy then comes the minor key / That brings us down / But in times of endless tragedy / He’s been known to compose His best symphonies

Track 8: Someday Go
The clouds roll into my life / And they remind me of how You’ll meet me in the sky

Track 10: Be My Salvation
Let the Lord be magnified, give Him praise (emphasis added)

Track 11: All in My Head
I can’t feel Your heartbeat when You’re in my head / If my mind is full but my heart isn’t there / That’s like trying to inhale without the air / So dear Jesus breathe new life in me

Track 12: Holes in His Hands
You said your days were over / That the Son would never use you again / But by one man’s disobedience / Came One who’s conquered your sin

Okay, so I will comment. Go buy this CD, listen to it, read the lyrics, and let your heart be ministered to. I’m feeling convicted and encouraged. How about that last excerpt there? Redemption is such a powerful message. 5 stars out of 5.

eChurch?

Posted on : 09-22-2005 | By : Andy | In : religion, tech

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Pastors.com posted an interview between two well-known pastors a little while back, and I read a blog on the article. I wanted to add my thoughts.

The interview was between David Yonggi Cho, the pastor of the world’s largest protestant church (a whopping 750,000 members!) and Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.” Their conversation seemingly benign, with Cho pressing the importance of prayer. But then it starts to get a little bit more interesting.

You can’t believe that Cho fits 750,000 people into a service (or even seven) on Sunday mornings. How does he do it then? The Internet. Ah yes, the internet. It seems that the need for real interpersonal communication, brother-to-brother encouragement and accountability, and corporate prayer and worship have gone the way of the buffalo. Now you can wake up on Sunday morning, watch the service broadcast online, email Mr. Cho some money, and pat yourself on the back for being a good Christian, all without having to change out of your pajamas!

I see the benefit in some areas he mentions: in areas hostile to Christianity, and parts of the world where there are few or no churches/missionaries present, etc. But to condemn the building of churches, the regular meeting together of believers for worship?

Without a local church, who do you go to when you have problems or questions? If your pastor lives on the other side of the world, how do you come to him for advice? When can you ask him to clarify statements that you might have misunderstood? How does a congregation hold him accountable? And where does all that money go when you give online–back to your community, or to somewhere else?

Doctrinally speaking, Mr. Cho and I might also disagree on a few (or many) things, but that’s not my point. The scary underlying thought here is that our wonderful internet may have found yet another way of serving satan’s puposes–the dissolution of fellowship.

My Uncle…

Posted on : 09-18-2005 | By : Andy | In : random

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…was always “sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Now, so am I. I spent three hours at the doctor’s office yesterday, all for them to swab my throat, tell me I had “an infection, probably not strep,” and prescribe me some antibiotics. Three hours, to learn absolutely nothing.

So today I’m taking it easy, laying around, drinking lots of liquids, and sucking on cough drops, all the while praying that God will ease my illness enough so I can be halfways normal for the first day of a new job tomorrow. Happily, since I’m married now, Lisa is doing a pretty good job of taking care of me.

I went back and deleted all my mp3s that I didn’t legally own, and it cut my music collection more than in half. Wow. I realized that there’s a lot of good music I loved that I never bought, and my one justification for having those mp3s was that I never would have bought them anyways, so I wasn’t hurting any artists/the music industry by having them. Guess what I did as soon as I deleted those mp3s? Went to Sound and Spirit’s website and bought a bunch of that music. (We sure are good at deluding ourselves, aren’t we?) The stuff that I didn’t go buy was mostly stuff that I realized (as I was deleting it) that it’s probably better for my moral state of being that I not have. Lyrics that would only be detrimental to me if they resided in my mind. Songs that I would never want my future kids finding in daddy’s music collection. Sure, some bring back memories and are fun to listen to once every two years, but do I need that? Do I want to live in the past, and is “once every two years” worth the ding in my integrity? I say a resounding “No!”

That’s all for today, folks.