Some woeful news for us ministers:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%, the first time this rating has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977. Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions on this measure, hitting a high rating of 67% in 1985.
And here’s the graph (please go to "Honesty and Ethics Rating of Clergy Slides to New Low" to see it fully):
Around the same time I received this news, I saw an article titled "Disgraced Ex-Preacher Says There’s a Major Culture Problem in Evangelical Christianity." Near the top it says: Continue reading Cause and Effect?
A valuable article on the mainstreaming of vulgar language from Jonah Goldberg. Christians (including pastors) are also guilty of helping make obscene speech the norm and acceptable. Shame on us.
(And, with all due respect to those who disagree, Christians who claim foul language is okay are choosing to ignore and or misinterpret ample biblical evidence to the contrary.)
A new Twitter friend posted an article which showed that prayer had no effect on the success of heart bypass surgery (and that, actually, those who knew they were prayed for fared worse). For her consideration I shared my article, "A God that Does Not Want to Be Measured Will Not Be Measured."
Although she saw some weaknesses in it, at least she said it was okay. 🙂
Another Twitter friend of mine said that the study was testing God…and testing God is blasphemous. Luckily they didn’t get into fisticuffs :-), but they also never agreed if it was testing or not. (I lean toward yes…but not necessarily intentional.)
Now, the Bible does include people testing God in some respect or another. For instance, Gideon and the wet/dry fleece (Numbers 6:36-40) and Hezekiah and the backward-moving shadow (2 Kings 20:8-11). God doesn’t condemn either, so what gives? Continue reading Is it Okay to Test God?
I may cringe at some other things he has been quoted as saying, but…
Admitting that he's never played a video game before, televangelist Pat Robertson said Friday morning that murdering someone online in a video game is no different than committing the act in real life. (From "Pat Robertson: 'Murdering someone in cyberspace' is a 'virtual sin.'")
And he rightly alludes to these words from Jesus:
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28, English Standard Version).
If anything, I think he was mistaken for backpedalling a bit:
He later clarified that "God won’t send you to hell" for killing people in the virtual world, but that committing the act of violence, real or not, "you lose your sensitivity to God."
I don't thing God sends anyone to hell for any specific acts they do…but I also don’t think that it requires someone to actually murder someone else for there to be an indication he or she is a rebellious sinner separated from the Most High. It's the heart, not the behavior, that matters.
P.S. I did not watch what Pat Robertson actually said…and my initial comment at the beginning of the post wasn’t meant to bus-chuck him. I do think he has said some things that were better left unsaid, but I am not on the anti-Robertson bandwagon.
Since current events once again force me to write about the issue of the pro-homosexual agenda, I wanted to make a clear and concise statement about what I believe about homosexuals (the individuals) versus homosexuality (the behavior).
No one human, homosexual or not, is better than any other. We are all afflicted with the same disease (and it is terminal). Homosexuality is a symptom of that disease, not a (or "the") disease itself. I believe I have found the cure for the disease; a cure that reduces the quantity and severity of the symptoms on this side of eternity (and completely defeats it on the other). I want everyone, gay or not, to take advantage of the cure.
I do not judge the homosexual, I judge the behavior. Rather, I agree with the Bible’s judgment of the practice because Scripture’s ultimate Author is the One who not only established the heavens and the earth—He established right and wrong. Ultimately, I do not think God's moral laws are any different than physical laws. Neither are subjective; they are statements of fact. If you step off the edge of the Empire State Building, the law of gravity correctly posits the sudden stop at the bottom will be bad for your health. If you willingly sin, the moral law similarly factually states it’ll have negative effects on you and those around you (not to mention, "the sudden stop" at the end of your life will be equally bad for your eternal health).
To the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transexual: I do not hate or fear you. I actually do not look at you any differently than I do anyone else, including those closest to me (whether by blood or by Christ). I do not wish you ill or want you to be treated as a second-class citizen (quite the contrary). However, I cannot ever tell you what you are doing is right—it is not mine to say (and I would suggest that those "Christians" who tell you your behavior is fine are doing you a disservice). Additionally, I cannot remain silent when those who purport to be supporting you try to tell my children, my family, my friends, and my neighbors that wrong is right.
And that is not because I am against you (I am not). It is because I love you.
After yesterday's post about depravity, I didn't think I'd immediately have another one so soon after. I am at a loss for words to say just how terrible "Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor’s haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan" is.
To the parents and medical personnel involved, I only have one Scripture:
You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13, English Standard Version).
And as if killing babies isn't bad enough itself (inside our outside the womb): Continue reading More Depravity
Perhaps God wasn't clear enough in this list…
6 "None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am the LORD. 7 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 8 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness. 9 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home. 10 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son's daughter or of your daughter's daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness. 11 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife's daughter, brought up in your father's family, since she is your sister. 12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's sister; she is your father's relative. 13 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, for she is your mother's relative. 14 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. 15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother's wife; it is your brother's nakedness. 17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is depravity. 18 And you shall not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive (Leviticus 17:6-18, English Standard Version).
…for the three people involved in this to understand their level of depravity:
Dear E. Jean: My mother is an attractive, interesting woman who reads ELLE and The Economist, dresses fashionably, and maintains a petite size 2 frame. Recently, I found out that my 39-year-old husband (of 14 years) has been having sex with her when he attends conferences at the resort near where she lives. When he told me, I was bothered by the fact that it didn't bother me. Continue reading Depravity
As I keep my eyes open for ideas for these bulletins, sometimes it seems more than coincidental that two items cross my social media streams so perfectly to highlight a potential subject. In one case, it was a random tweet that someone I follow must have retweeted combined with a Gawker article where the author explains an electronic wrestling match he had with, of all people, the late Steve Jobs (of Apple fame).
I'm not sure why those two didn't inspire the article the week I ran into them, but luckily I keep a note with sermon and article ideas…and I was reminded of them again today as I scanned through my list of potential topics.
I mean, you really don't want another article connected with the presidential election do you? 🙂
First, the tweet. This is what @lanalue wrote (Sorry…I didn't grab a screen capture at the time):
You will only experience the amount of freedom that u are willing to surrender to God.
Hmmm…seems contradictory, doesn't it? How many soldiers would say that they surrendered for freedom? You don't surrender for freedom…since it means (if you aren't just shot) you are going to become a prisoner of war.
Yet @lanalue is telling us that our freedom is directly proportional to our surrender to God (not inversely proportional as we would expect).
So, how can Steve Jobs shed more light on this apparent contradiction? Continue reading Surrendering to Be Free
In a short clip about homosexuality, “Bible Answer Man” Hank Hanegraaff answers, “Can you be a Christian and actively practice homosexuality?”
(The title of this short post is a quote from his response that is very important to the discussion…even in a secular context.)
How many here have experienced a devastating betrayal from a friend, a spouse, or a family member?
I suspect if you have spent more than a couple decades on this earth it has happened to you…and that by me causing you to think about it you immediately recalled a taste of the same pain you felt when it originally happened.
Betrayal from someone close is traumatizing. Not only can it permanently destroy your relationship with that person; it can impact your relationships with everyone else. To quote the title of a song by Ian Hunter (that I probably most know due to a version by Great White)…
Once bitten twice shy…
Continue reading Passing the Point of No Return
I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.
AKA, "What I Believe"
I had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:
Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying
To which I replied:
Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?
My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂
Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.
So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) Continue reading Why I Am a Heretic
I continue to slowly read through the Bible in one year. Although there are some days it does seem like a burden (due to my humanity, not Scripture itself), being “forced” to spend time in God’s Word daily has been a great blessing.
I’ve never really been big on poetry (I abhorred it in high school English classes), so Psalms can be problematic for me. Luckily, as I’ve aged it is less taxing, and often I can actually enjoy it.
Reading Psalm 107 today was one of those cases…what an awesome song! It’s an tremendous reminder of how often God has bailed so many of us out of terrible situations, including one common to all mankind: Continue reading “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things…”
How many people here have heard of the term "dispensationalism"?
My short definition of it would be "God dealt with people differently through the ages." However, I don't have the intelligence gained from a Masters of Divinity, so I suspect that won't show up in any scholarly work, whereas this definition from There Really is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology by Renald Showers is a bit more erudite:
In light of the usage of the word for dispensation in the New Testament, the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God's administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose for world history.1
I don't know about you…but that isn't entirely clarifying to me. Luckily Showers continues:
In order for each dispensation to be distinct from all other dispensations, it must have three essential characteristics. First, it must have a particular way of God's [sic] administering His rule. Each dispensation is characterized by a unique ruling factor or combination of ruling factors. Second, it must involve a particular responsibility for man. Each dispensation makes man responsible to obey God in accordance with its unique ruling factor or combination of factors. Third, it must be characterized by divine revelation which had not been given before. In order for man to know God's new way of ruling and his new responsibility, he must have these things revealed to him. Each new dispensation requires new revelation from God.2
Does it make a little more sense now?
If not, perhaps an example of how history has been divided into dispensations will make it clear.
Continue reading What Was Tried
Lame Movie Plot Devices
Friday night Barry Junior joined me watching a movie that Barry Senior had brought up after I did my sermon, "Heaven…This is Heaven." For those who caught that, you may recall my mention of the Valkyries (val-`keer-ees)…babes on white horses who collected those who died on the battle field. Barry Senior remembered a movie with Valkyries…one called "Max Payne"—a policeman living a tortured existence as he continues to search for the third man who was involved in killing Max's his wife and infant child.
The movie begins showing Max Payne slowly floating toward the bottom of the river, clearly on the edge of death. After the film made clear how precarious his state was (and how likely it was he would not get out of it), it leveraged a plot device often used in movies and TV shows…
"One week earlier."
To which I immediately told Barry Junior know just how much I hate that plot device. 🙂
And in the spirit of human inconsistency, I am now going to use the same approach as a sermon device. 🙂
Continue reading What Went Wrong
This week I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in downtown San Francisco. It’s not that I’ve never been to that city before—I’ve just never had an interest in walking its streets. So, my visits have always been limited to quick stops at its airport or meeting with the San Francisco Giants (a long-term client of the company I used to work for).
Why didn’t I have any desire to experience what San Francisco had to offer? With it’s convenient BART train system I could have easily spent many nights in it while visiting Concord, California (where that same company used to have an office)…and I had an employee who would do just that. He felt the tug of the "city by the bay," whereas I always wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. Continue reading When the Lights Go Down on the City