Posted: under Society and Culture, Teaching.
Almost all growing ministries are using media to illustrate their teaching and preaching. It is almost necessary in this media driven culture to communicate using videos, music, movie clips, etc. to convey our Biblical messages. Computers and video projection have become a vital part of our communication within the churches and ministries. It is part of being “relevant”. Jesus was relevant to his hearers. He used seeds, harvest, and sowing to communicate to the agricultural culture of his listeners. He spoke of nets, fish, and spoke from boats to the fishing communities. The challenge is staying relevant without crossing the line of being irreverent. We must be careful that in our effort to be relevant we do not compromise our Christian values.
A number of years ago my family moved into a new area. We were church hunting. Many people were talking of a new church that was meeting in a local YMCA. It was the fastest growing church in an area that had an abundance of churches. We decided to give a try on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. As we drove in the parking lot we were warmly directed to a parking space by the parking ministry. We were greeted at the door with a strong handshake, a smile, and directions to the Starbucks coffee and donuts (Yea!!!). So far this church was doing great in the second “R”, being relational. I was even allowed to take my precious Starbucks coffee into the sanctuary! Awesome! The service began without a prayer, Hmmm? An acoustical group came forth and opened with a song made popular at that time by the Dixie Chic’s, “Landslide”. I have used secular songs and changed the words to convey a Christian message to reach kids. I heard that “Amazing Grace” was once a bar song and the writer changed the words. No words were changed in this song, but I thought that the pastor was going encourage us on how life’s challenges can come land sliding down on us but Jesus can pull us out of the rubble. I was trying to stay open. The liturgy was not what I was accustomed to as I thought praise and worship was next, but the pastor followed up the song with an introduction to a video clip on the big screen. The clipped rolled and the popular characters from the show “Friends” came to the big screen. I am not too pious to say that I have not watched and enjoyed the show, but there were parts of the show that sometimes I got convicted for watching and enjoying. On this clip all the characters were sitting around a table trying to celebrate Thanksgiving. Someone had forgotten the turkey and they were sharing a grilled cheese sandwich, each making a comment as they passed it around. The last one to get the sandwich and make a comment was Chandler. His comment was “This s__cks!” The line of being relevant and reverent had been crossed for me. I half heartedly tried to stay open thinking, “I would not have used that clip but surely the pastor will redeem this as he used the clip to illustrate his message. He preached a good message about the memorial stones that Joshua pulled from the Jordan River. He never used the “Landslide” song or the video clip as part of the illustrations to his sermon. They were there just because they were relevant to the culture of that time. Did he cross the line? Was being reverent compromised to be relevant?
In my first blog I used the illustration of a cake recipe. Too many eggs and the cake is no good. Too much sugar and only we sugarholics will like it. We must always measure and evaluate our ministries. In our zeal to communicate relevantly we must be careful to not compromise our being reverent towards Jesus. I believe this is one of the greatest challenges to those called to teach and preach today. How far can we go to illustrate our messages before we compromise our Christian values? Please, preachers and teachers, do not stop in your efforts to relevantly communicate. I personally enjoy a good object lesson or video clip when you communicate. We need to just prayerfully evaluate our efforts and ask the Holy Spirit to help us communicate so we do not bring an offense to our Lord or others.
In my next blog I hope to reverse this thinking and see that we can be so reverent (religious) that we can become irrelevant.
Posted: under Society and Culture.
Tags: christian, culture, Review, society, Television
The TV show “Saving Grace” gives us a hard working cop lady who has a bad day, cries out, “God Help Me” and suddenly has a beer drinking angel in her life.
This “angel” teaches our title character Grace about tolerance, says a few on target things about God, and even encourages her to avoid a revenge murder against her former childhood rapist/abuser who resurfaces. Oh, yeah…. the man that raped her as a child was apparently a Roman Catholic Priest. But nevermind… I don’t want to go there right now…
This “angel” encourages good works in her life. But… he hangs out in bars with her, pours her an occasional beer, has drinks with the cast, and otherwise stands by or looks the other way while Grace engages in a variety of unacceptable behaviors. He says nothing when our cop lady tells lies to get what she wants. He says nothing about the fact that she has wild sex with her partner in the bathroom at the local bar, nor when she beds the occasional married man. Finally, this “angel” clearly fails to intervene in the murders and other mayhem that routinely take place on the show.
Now… is this how the world sees Christianity? Is it supposed to portray Christianity at all? Would it work if Christianity were a fairly tolerant belief system? What if Christianity were almost meaningless because it cannot really change the world? Is that a happy thought?
Do you think this show illustrates the Christian influence on the world? Is it enough to show Christianity as a non-judgmental spirituality? Is it notable in demonstrating that God offers grace to the unsaved? Are those good things to illustrate? Is there more to Christianity that this?
Would it be OK if the angel’s tolerance helps build enough of a trusting relationship that the title character comes to know God in the final episode? Would that make it OK to illustrate the Kingdom’s involvement in our world the way it is portrayed in this show?
Posted: under Society and Culture.
Tags: christian, Movie, Reviews
In a classic struggle between good and evil, with a lot of exploration of human nature…
Do you see any spiritual lessons in the movie, Batman - The Dark Knight?
Posted: under Teaching.
Tags: Blog, Christ, christian, God, Jesus, Mystery, Power, Teaching
Fair warning. This one will probably shake you a bit. At least it will shake many who think they know what it means to live their faith.
There is a big difference between knowing ABOUT something and knowing HOW TO DO something. I can know everything ABOUT a sport, but not be able to play the sport. Big Difference!
So… I ask before the teaching…. Do you know ABOUT God? Do you know ABOUT Christianity? That’s Too Bad. Christianity is not a spectator sport. Learning ABOUT God and the Christian Life show that you have begun something. But there is so much more power available to you.
The better question is, do you know “HOW TO”… HOW TO BE God ? How to DO God?
What, you ask? That sounds like heresy! A Blasphemy? Maybe a misguided New Age False Prophet Message? Hmmmm……. Not so fast. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Using a little legal language for sake of an example….. Christians are called to be the agents of God in this world. An “agent” can act for the one who sent him - or his “principal”. An agent has the legal rights of the principal, and should both act as the principal (to represent and safeguard reputation) and should be treated as the principal when the principal is not present. The Agent can sign contracts on behalf of the principal - thereby BINDING the principal to PERFORM a contract.
Now… where do we get the commission or charge to be an AGENT of God? First, an example, and then the appointment of Christians to DO God instead of just know about Him.
The Example: Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. Jesus often said he and the Father were “ONE”. Being one is more than being an Agent. It is a mystery of the Faith. I propose that the best way we might understand this from earthly experience seems to be the concept of Agency. However, I fully realize that this is more than agency that Jesus speaks about.
The Charge: Before Christ left this earth, he prayed for us - that we would be ONE in Him, just as He is ONE in the FATHER. He also gave us the “Keys to the Kingdom” saying whatever we BIND on earth would be BOUND in heaven, and whatever we LOOSED on earth would be LOOSED in heaven. Do you know the verses for these quotations? Maybe somebody will post a comment with the bible addresses?
THE POINT IS: If Christ asked the Father, and He and the Father are one…. Then the prayer is answered in the affirmative. It’s not so strange, really. It would be like you asking yourself to do something for your child.
SO HERE IS WHERE IT GETS POWERFUL: If we are one in Christ, and Christ is one in the Father, then if you have seen me - you have seen THEM. By the power of the Holy Spirit - we are ONE. What I do here, He ratifies or performs from there. Hmmm…. What I condemn, He condemns. What I forgive, He forgives. What I promise or contract for, He will perform. Can you say “OMG”.
Rather than filling me with Pride or Arrogance, this concept is humbling. I aspire to DO God rather than know ABOUT God. I have reached this pinnacle of the faith on occasion, but being an imperfect vessel, this certainly does not happen as often as I wish. Nor does the experience last as long as I wish. However, I strive as Paul did to press onward, finish the race, attain the prize of my Holy Calling.
BTW: If a prize is worth attaining, it might be ok to enjoy the attainment. It’s OK to enjoy the prize of our calling to BE God instead of just know ABOUT God. So don’t give me a load about False Humility. God is worshipped when I enjoy the attainment of the mystery of DOING His work here on earth.
And so…. I ask again….
Do you know ABOUT God or do you know HOW TO DO God?
What difference does this make in your life? Comments? Examples? Criticisms? Let’s hear!
Posted: under Teaching.
Tags: christian, News, Testimonies, Theology, Views
Conventional or judgmental theology is NOT FOUND HERE ; )
If you want hair splitting, mind numbing debates about right and wrong, recitations of historical and classical theology, dogmatic teaching, or efforts at logical proof about what is God and what is not God….
You will probably need to go to another web space !
This blog is for publication of contemporary and authentic views, issues, world news from a Christian Perspective, ministry news, individual concerns, meditations, praises, prayer requests, testimonies, struggles, victories, and thoughts about LIVING the Faith in this era.
C’mon…. Join in!
Posted: under Teaching.
Tags: christian, dark night, struggle, temptation, victory
Sometimes I struggle with my faith. Something I should not do seems good, even feels good.
If I avoid that behavior I am uncomfortable. I want that good feeling. Without it I will be uncomfortable, maybe even miserable… For a season.
But in the end, I will overcome and remove some of the clouds that keep God’s light from reaching my heart and mind. The more of His light I walk in, the more peace and joy I will have. When I overcome, then it is good. I can do more for the Kingdom by bringing more God into the world.
I praise him in the struggle. I praise him in the Dark Night….
Because I know what sweet times await when I can praise him in the light!
Posted: under Teaching.
Tags: christian, Free Will, Overcoming, Power, Sin, Theology
All Things Work to Good. That’s the promise we get from God.
But how it works is a mystery to many - and sometimes it is a mystery to those who know God pretty well.
What I am talking about is how something that looks bad today can turn out good in the long run.
For instance, oil causes pollution and gas prices are choking our economy - but these very costs will drive us to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources like hydrogen fuel cells.
Now - if God CONTROLLED the world, then you would see a few lightning bolts here or there to “smite the phillistines” in the oil world… Viola - no oil, and no pollution. Simple, eh? Well sort of. What kind of world would it be where humans had no free will?
Go lets us make our own messes. This too has value. By experiencing the result of our choices, we can decide if we want to repeat a behavior. There are times when the lesson seems obvious to everyone around me, but I still don’t get it… Hmm….. Even an alcoholic can go far enough into his disease to either kill himself or convince himself that the answer he seeks is not in that behavior.
If God CONTROLLED the world then there would be no choice… and no consequence for our choices. Would the world be a better place? Without choice? What would that make a human being? Just another animal?
The coolest part about what God does is share how it works without interfering.
God never violates the freewill of a human. He gives us his WORD and his Sons and Daughters, and his Angels to teach us… If we listen, read, heed, we can grow toward Him.
If we go against that which is the created way we break fellowship with God and each other - (sin). It hangs like a clouds to block the light and joy we might otherwise experience… But this is not God’s doing. It is merely the natural consequence of our choice for going against the better way.
Now, just to confuse it all, some of God’s children are occasionally called to work on something from an unusual angle. It may seem that they are going against the way of God, against the nature of things, and yet they do not have consequences.
“Walking on water” would be a good word picture for this. If you try to walk on water, you should sink in and get wet - maybe even drown. But for some useful reason, now and then, God will call and enable a person to do something without paying the normal consequence…. “Walk on water….” Maybe God just delays the consequence of our action so that the person can avoid the stain of failure? Or maybe God wants one follower to walk out to a person who needs a hand getting back because they already fell in? Maybe God just wants to demonstrate His presence and power? Why not every person? Why not do away with water completely if we are all going to start walking on it? Hmmm…..
In the end, those who know and worship God will find the Good, see the good, and enjoy it. Some will walk on water or perform other miracles that demonstrate the presence and power of God. Others will follow more simply. Some will reject God. Some may not ever see the good in a particular happening. But then… They may not see the good in a lot of things - through all those clouds that build up around their head and heart.
God desires us to seek, find, worship. When we do this of our own free will, we can say that all things are God-i-ful. All things are full of God and work to good.
Does this make sense to you? Do you walk on water? Tell!
Posted: under Teaching.
Tags: Children's ministry, Church, ministry
There is an object lesson that I have done in children’s ministry to illustrate how God uses many things in the course of our lives to develop our character. The object lesson uses a cake mix. Each separate ingredient i.e. eggs, flour, cocoa etc. is offered to a child to taste by itself. Of course the child cringes at even the thought of a raw egg by itself. The lesson goes on to show the kids that the ingredients mixed and measured appropriately turn out to be a delicious chocolate cake. I like to use this same illustration to illustrate the three necessary ingredients that make up successful ministry. Just as in any recipe these ingredients must be used in proper measure. I first received this from the Lord to teach in Singapore where they enjoy acrostics and the first letters of each ingredient begins with “R”. They are being Relevant, Relational and Reverent. I believe you can evaluate any ministry, personal or church, by understanding the balance of all three ingredients. Is my ministry or church relevant to the culture and the people we are called to reach? Are we relational? Do we embrace Christ and embrace others? Does our expression and communication honor (revere) Jesus?
I will continue with the “Three R’s” of ministry on future blogs.
Posted: under Testimony.
Tags: christian blogs, Christian Testimonies, Ministry Blog, News Blog
Do you have a story about how Jesus changed your life, your family, or your city?
Were there miracles? Healings? Amazing Transformations? Maybe it was simple but profound?
The Stories of Jesus include personal testimonies, news reports, and ministry reports.
One of our God given goals is to build the world’s largest collection of online testimonies here at www.e4God.com
Another is to help Christians share news reports from a Christian Perspective. The media giants spin their stories and spin public perception until you would think that all news was bad news. Services like ours can help you report local news from a Christian Perspective.
Finally, we want to help ministries and missionaries report their news.
C’mon… Tell me the stories of Jesus. He is Alive and Well. Tell the World!
Posted: under Testimony.
Tags: christian, God, Jesus, New Life
When people say they talk to God, do they mean the same God that I mean when I say God?
I worship the God of the Christian Bible. This Creator God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This one God is the Lord of Hosts and King of Kings. He is I AM. He is Alpha and Omega. He is so Holy that He cannot look on sin. If the goodness of life is broken by an act that harms ourselves or another, then it is His nature that this must be stopped, even if the only way to stop it is to apply the death penalty to the sinner.
The wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus. And then there is that little bit. Somebody has to die to pay for my sins.
Jesus was the son of God, and even God Himself in human form. Born of a virgin, He walked the earth, lived a perfect life without sin, taught, healed. Naturally this attracted a following. The leaders of his Day were jealous and thought to kill Jesus to preserve their power and control over the common man. Jesus accepted this undeserved death, in order to take the punishment that was called for in God’s perfect law. In this way, his innocent life was substituted for mine. In this way, a Holy Law was satisfied. The wages of sin are death - but the gift of God is eternal life. It is Done. The crime can be forgotten. Jesus was killed for threatening the established religious and political leaders of His day. His work threatened our enemy the Devil as well. Jesus did not deserve to die but his death made me free from God’s judgment and from Satan’s power.
If I believe then I am free from the slavery of sin and death. I am not trapped by mistakes. I am not held down by my past. This freedom is the new life. i want to celebrate this freedom and share it with others. Through Him, I worship, and make disciples. Because of Him I carry the keys to the kingdom and have power to restrain evil and reward good.
God not only sits in the heavens, far away, but He is active and present in this world.
He loves us so much he gives his Sons over to it to teach, heal, practice forgiveness, even die that others might live. He weeps over the condition of the world and the condition of those who do not know Him. He saves our tears in a bottle. He provides a WAY for us to become TRUTH AND LIGHT to others.
I am an adopted son of God. Raised from the death I deserve for my sins, by the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Given new life and special powers through the Holy Spirit, I live to teach, heal, practice forgiveness, even suffer and die that others might live. I weep over the condition of the world and the condition of those who do not know Him. I cherish the repentance of those who come to know Christ. I receive the power of the Holy Spirit to do things mere mortals cannot. Because of Him, I am.
Is this your God?