Blogger has to many errors and stuff so here is another site I'm trying before I close this one down!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Blogger has to many errors and stuff so here is another site I'm trying before I close this one down!
Posted by Brother Bell at 7:16 PM
EARTH—Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.
"I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen," said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. "They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn't they heed me before it was too late?"
Al Gore—or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al—placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity's hubristic folly.
"There is nothing left now but to ensure that my infant son does not meet the same fate as the rest of my doomed race," Gore said. "I will send him to a new planet, where he will, I hope, be raised by simple but kindly country folk and grow up to be a hero and protector to his adopted home."
As the rocket soared through the Gore estate's retractable solar-paneled roof—installed three years ago to save energy and provide emergency rocket-launch capability in the event that Gore's campaign to save Earth was unsuccessful—the onetime presidential candidate and his wife, Tipper, stood arm-in-arm, nobly facing their end while gazing up in stoic dignity at the receding rocket, the ecosystem already beginning to collapse around them.
In the final moments before the Earth's destruction, Gore expressed hope that his son would one day grow up to carry on his mission by fighting for truth, justice, and the American way elsewhere in the universe, using his Earth-given superpowers to become a champion of the downtrodden and a reducer of carbon emissions across the galaxy.
"Perhaps he will succeed where I have failed," Gore said.
Despite the child's humble beginnings, experts predict the intergalactic journey may have some extraordinary effects on Kal-Al's physique, eyesight, and, potentially, his powers of quiet, sensible persuasion.
"On his new planet, Kal-Al's Earth physiology will react to the radiation of a differently colored sun, causing him to develop abilities far beyond those of mortal men," political analyst Sig Schuster said. "He will be faster than a speeding Prius, stronger than the existing Superfund program, and able to leap mountains of red tape in a single bound. These superpowers will sustain him in his never-ending battle against conservatives, wealthy industrialists, and other environmental supervillains."
Although Gore and his wife voiced regrets that they could not accompany their son on his journey, they tried their best to equip Kal-Al for life on his new planet, providing the infant with a Keynote slide-show presentation of all human knowledge, a self-growing crystal fortress from which to monitor glacier shrinkage, and a copy of Al Gore's 1992 bestseller, Earth In The Balance.
The baby was also wrapped in a blanket emblazoned with the Gore family crest, which, because it is made of Earth materials, will be invulnerable on the new planet. It is hoped that one day it will be fashioned into a colorful costume for the boy to wear while fighting wrongdoers.
"In brightly hued tights, it will be harder for people there to ignore him when he takes on his new planet's lobbyists, auto manufacturers, and enemies of justice," Schuster said. "A bold and eye-catching unitard will give Kal-Al, last son of Earth, a formidable tool for protecting his new planet, a power more awesome than any his father could have dreamed of: the power of charisma."
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:27 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"At least 50 people have lost their sight after staring at the sun hoping to see an image of the Virgin Mary, according to reports.Despite warnings, and the potentially harmful effects of their actions, believers are allegedly still flocking to a hotelier's house in Erumeli near where the divine image is said to have appeared."
Posted by Brother Bell at 3:23 PM
Monday, July 28, 2008
I’m doing it again. Reading another pre-relationship book. (I have to admit it’s easier reading these now compared to post-relationship) This one caught my eye -sigh-because there was a rather cute girl on the cover. I know, I know. You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but, as always is the case, it was a combination of the eyes/smile that got my attention.
Either way, I’m about 60 pages in and I’m kind of shocked that I have not heard of this book? It is by Dr. Don Raunikar (It doesn’t ring as well as Harris or Ludy) and it is entitled: Choosing God’s Best. It was written back in the 90’s so the stats are a little outdated but I was surprised at how immersed I was in the book.
There were two illustrations that have really resonated with me and I wanted to share them because I know I’m not the only one who tends to be a little jaded in the relationship department (Just probably the only one stupid enough to admit it in public)
The first was the story of a truck, which didn’t heed the height signs while trying to go through a tunnel. The truck hit the tunnel at 20 MPH and got lodged in so deep that no amount of reverse or tugging would work. A little kid stood by and had an idea but decided it would be best to keep his distance. Let the grown ups handle it. 8 HRS later the kid came back and saw the grown-ups still struggling with the truck. They were about to take a saw to the top of the truck and just cut her out when the little kid ran up and screamed: “WHY DON’T YOU JUST LET THE AIR OUT OF THE TIRES?”
The moral of the story: sometimes the simplest answer is the simplest solution. I have been on the receiving end of conflicting advice and I have to admit it was the hardest thing for me to wade through. Especially when it came to people I cared about, maybe even loved. Yet, I also find that when people “coach” me on the subject of why I’m still single I find myself going back to the simplest answer. I’m just not hitting the wall at 20 MPH. I’ll find my own route, which keeps me away from any jams. This leads into the second story.
The Arch in St. Louis was built from the base up, both sides of it. They say that if the builders were off by just a 1/64 of a centimeter, when the time came for the two sides to make the arch, they would not meet at the center but pass each other. It wouldn’t have been the Arch.
The moral of the story: build the base, with a firm foundation, and the meeting will take place eventually. If the firm foundation just happens to line up with, let’s say: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24 ESV) Dr. Raunikar’s point in the book so far is to ask us to abandon what we deem as our norm and attempt to look at things with a heavenly perception. Especially when it comes to the opposite sex. As one person says in the book: “Any guy with his ear to God’s mouth wouldn’t be scared by it.”
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:03 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I was at work last night when someone asked me if I thought that Barack Obama was the antichrist. I laughed a little bit because after the 10 or so major "gaffes" Obama has made in the past 2 weeks, I somehow imagine the incarnate of the devil to be a little more eloquent.
I have come across some believers who I respect who really, really think that Barach Obama is the antichrist. I was a little shocked because I respect these people and they aren't the ones buying "left behind" insurance. I set out then to find out if this movement is a steady one and so I turned to google. If you put Barach Obama Antichrist you get the following:
"Results 1 - 10 of about 336,000 for barack obama antichrist"
So yeah, there are a lot of sites devoted to this thought. Compare this to if you put John McCain Antichrist:
"Results 1 - 10 of about 211,000 for john mccain antichrist."
Lets just say that many of these sites actually still refer to Barack. Either way, this appears to be a legititmate question for a lot of people?
The top website, "Barack Obama the Antichrist?" has the following as its header:
"Barack Obama may be the Antichrist, he has risen up out of no where, he mesmerizes crowds, people are gathering in huge numbers, he is likely becoming the next President of the United States. Do not look only to what I say, but look to your Bibles, to passages in John, Daniel, and Revelations."
I also found this interesting video where John Hagee states that Obama isn't the antichrist:
Anyway, I think there are a couple things to take away from this. First, I don't think Obama is the antichrist. That said, I also am not really qualified to state if he is or is not? In Matthew 24 Jesus made the point to not try and guess but to stay away from them. Somehow trying to "out" someone as the antichrist is rather pointless because Scripture states pretty clearly it will be unmistakable who the guy is! It's an adventure then in missing the point!
I also think however we would be wise to not miss what is going on in the larger picture! First, a lot of people are being drawn to this guy, across the world, because of a strong personality! A lot of people don't even really know who he is but they just want something "different". Change is not always a good thing when it is not defined what change is? It is also scary to see how quick people are willing to follow someone who they do not know! I will admit I wondered how the antichrist could "woo" the world, this is giving me a good idea!
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:37 PM
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
After watching the new Batman, I came across a discussion forum on whose the better supervillain. Joker is kind of seen as the ultimate villain, and after watching Batman I can understand why. Yet, some faithful Superman fans have made the argument for Lex Luthor. So...which one is the better villain?
Posted by Brother Bell at 3:36 PM
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
This summer I have been really delving into a lot of Reformed writings/teachings and the more I do it the more I find I am surprised no one ever presented these views like this. If they had been I might have not been so against Calvinism. At least in the strictest sense of the word anyway?
I am not sure exactly where I stand on a lot of the issues but I heard a podcast today that showed me how I may not fall in line with Calvinism on salvation (at least not yet) but I'm an excellent Calvinist in other areas.
I struggle with the idea of God being the grand "puppet master" and my choices/will only being the result of His inklings or notions. Then it kind of hit me. I do things, which I lie to myself saying that these things are out of my own will, which in someways control me anyway. Wither it's being angry at something dumb which was said and causes pain. That has control over me. Or if I see a pretty girl and my mind starts to wander. That has control over me. In fact, it seems that when we sin we always make excuses for how deceived or how we lost control and by our own admission we state that it "controlled" us. Maybe having God be the puppet master isn't so bad a thing after all? What is the alternative if He is not?
"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything." 1 Corinthians 6:12
Posted by Brother Bell at 2:25 PM
Sunday, July 6, 2008
This happened in Merry-ole Britain and the boys refused to kneel and say Islamic prayers while facing Mecca. This religious diversity experiment happened in a religion class. The school administrators had the following to say:
"Educating children in the beliefs of different faith is part of the diversity curriculum on the basis that knowledge is essential to understanding."
Now I have no problem with this idea and I have no idea with people learning about Islam. The funny thing is this situation is almost a verbatim reading of the book of Daniel. Obviously detention is better then lions but could it possibly escalate from there? By not participating are you guilty of thought crimes demeaning Islam? A grandfather was quoted as saying the following: ""But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion, there would be war," the grandfather of one of the students said." Exactly! Kudos to the two boys for standing in this modern example of an old story. I don't know if they are Christians but I can only hope all of us would have their courage!
Posted by Brother Bell at 1:18 PM
"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1 Corinthians 15:14
Good news, Jesus' resurrection isn't really that amazing! Don't believe me? Read the following:
"Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism," Boyarin said."
Why is such a tablet a possible "shock" for the Christian community? Here it is:
"A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days."(emphasis mine)
The article goes on to say that the resurrection of Christ might not be much of a big deal because the Christians were just stealing Jewish folklore and making it their own. Therefore, they just expanded on a myth that was told to them since they were children! What they don't tell you till further down in the article is the following:
"Much of the text, a vision of the apocalypse transmitted by the angel Gabriel, draws on the Old Testament, especially the prophets Daniel, Zechariah and Haggai."
So, the spin of this article is that instead of the Old Testament prophesying the events of Christ's death the disciples and Jesus Himself STOLE ideas for His death/resurrection from their own culture and Scripture. Jesus could not have risen because then it would have been foretold! Something which obviously is mindboggling to those who don't have faith! Yet, here is another example of the solid ground that those of faith stand on!
Posted by Brother Bell at 1:02 PM
Thursday, July 3, 2008
So my title is a bit of an exaggeration but I ran across an article entitled "Does having children make you happy" in Newsweek and had to post some thoughts about it.
"In Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness," the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home. He also ascertains that parents are happier grocery shopping and even sleeping than spending time with their kids."
The first thing worth mentioning here is that there might actually be some truth in this. Again, I seem to be commentating from the sidelines on this issue but there is no doubt, from what I garner of my view from the bleachers, that kids are definitely a handful. A testament to that is the coffee shop I'm in now has about 7 pregnant ladies meeting together barely able to get up from their booth. It seems it just gets harder from there!
I think there are some interesting presuppositions in this article and the main one has to be that happiness is equated with monetary/material things. If that is the requirement then there is no doubt that children will not (most likely) lead to happiness. However, your material possessions disappear with your death and do not carry on your legacy/personality. I think of the old days (sorry) when it was important for a king to have a son because it carried the family name. Now we seem to think that my 401 K is more important? I guess I just rely still on the Scripture:
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Posted by Brother Bell at 11:30 AM
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I am constantly reading blogs and postings stating that there are other issues in the world besides homosexual marriage (HM). It has been labeled as overly decesive, bigoted, and homophobic to state that you oppose HM. If you even state you will not vote for someone because they support HM then you are looked at as archaic and not very well endowed intellectually. I have even heard Christians state that there are other things which should grab our attention and that this issues isn't really an issue. The irony though is that the breakdown of the family is at the root of any issue and marriage is the building blocks of civilization; period.
Barack Obama has stated before that he thinks homosexual practice is not immoral and the Bible is very clear about these type of men:
"Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20
That stated, the instant rebuttal for this would be that no matter who you vote for there are going to be issues which don't line up with the Christian faith. This is true but it is to easily used today. Obama states that he is a born again Christian and even if he wasn't a Presidential candidate he is deceived on this issue and the Bible is clear to go and tell a brother or sister who supports sin of their fault.
Barack has up to this point been against HM but it seems that when he's in front of an audience in San Fransisco, his political philosophy changes to "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". Barack stated the following:
“And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states,”
California is going to vote in November on wither or not to make marriage defined as one man and one woman and this is what Obama is rebutting in his letter. The funny thing is that Obama said this to Larry King about two years ago: "I am somebody who has not embraced gay marriage," he said. "I've said that it's not something that I think the society is necessarily ready for. And it strikes me that in a lot of ways for a lot of people it may intrude in how they understand marriage."
Unlike many of my fellow Christians, I do not concede the fact that "marriage" really isn't that important and we need to get onto other issues besides this divisive one. If a man who is running for President is calling sin, not sin, then that is a legitimate issue for a Christian when considering his/her choices for President. When we concede the marriage issue we should realize that those who are trying to change marriage into something it's not are not letting up with their endeavors. While Christians sleep in the light, the very thing which we all claim to want for everyone, a godly family, is being torn and ripped right from our fingertips. I think it's time to wake up!
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:39 PM
Friday, June 27, 2008
I found this article to be interesting. I have had a couple of discussion on the issue below and I would like to thank the ladies who commented on my earlier post along similar topic lines. I have found that the issue of women "complimenting men" has become more and more of a discussion now and it isn't shut down as quickly as it was during my Bible college days. I still don't have a problem with women in ministry (I hate the fact this sounds like such a knee jerk reaction) but I also find that a part of me agrees with this blog post from reformation21.org. I think a lot of guys may think along the same lines but are afraid to admit it because they (we) don't want to remain single. It's hard to recover when your labeled chauvinist, especially (and you know its true) given how quickly ladies can spread the word. The take away question is, are men/women "coming out" of the egalitarian closet and if they are, does this necessarily lead to barefoot and pregnant? Read and let me know what you think!
"Among them were two young couples (early to mid 20's), who fit a mold that I increasingly observe. First, they are very theologically motivated and speak with great doctrinal intensity. Second, feeling welcomed and accepted is enormously important to them. Third, they all evidence a very strong, biblical, and beautiful commitment to gender complementarity. In separate interviews, two young wives said, "I completely agree with my husband. But I also trust his judgment and want to following his spiritual leadership."
I point this out because I think there is a misconception on the gender issue, namely, that if we want to be considered relevant by the young then we cannot afford to be openly complementarian. The great majority of my experience (and admittedly, this is among people who are attracted to a church like ours) shows exactly the opposite. The young people I meet are fed up with the egalitarianism of their upbringing and yearn for counter-cultural biblical authenticity. I would suggest that the examples of younger preachers like Josh Harris and Mark Driscoll, both of whom are in-your-face complementarians and draw in flocks of young people argues in the same direction. Based on these examples, I suspect that the gender debate is much more of a baby-boomer issue. Of course, the ultimate standard is the clear teaching of God's Word. But if we are going to talk sociology, I want to put my two cents in.
P.S. The young people joining our church also say that they are blown away by classic, historically-rooted (i.e. traditional) worship. This, too, is now counter-culturally Christian."
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:13 AM
They pulled up next to me in their really ancient Chevy, the typical “old-couple”(OC). You know the ones. They look like any moment they are about to die and probably it would be just as romantic as those movies where the OC always die in each others arms. That kind of couple.
So I don’t know why this idea struck me. I’m not normally like this. I just decided it would be awesome to hit the gas at the light and take off, leaving them in my dust. The light hit green and before I could catch how stupid I was I hit the gas and shifted into second gear within 2 seconds. Leaving them far behind. Probably fulfilling the stereotype that OC have about my generation.
Well I got to the next light and lo-and-behold the OC pulled up right next to me. They probably were laughing. Here they were, obeying the laws, not speeding, not being cocky, and they ended up at the exact same place I was. This is what was racing through my head and the more I imagined what they were thinking the more I wanted to make sure they didn’t and just then the light turned green… I hit the gas again, leaving them in my dust. Then I hit the next light…red…and here comes the Chevy, slogging along till it parks right next to me. At this point the realization of how dumb I was being kicked in and I gracefully pulled away from this light. The OC turned right.
I find it interesting in John 14:6 (My favorite Bible verse) that Jesus said that He is the Way. If Jesus is the way then the road to Him is a journey. A journey implies that there are distances we have to travel and since the Bible was written to more people then just me, that means that there are others who are traveling the same road as me. Why is it that even though all of our destinations on this road are the same, we get bothered by those who seem to start out fast? Especially given that we arrive at the same place?
They say that you preach what you are going through and perhaps I am now. I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone is ever past this faze but I know I feel like the OC and seem to be the one who was left in the dust at the light. For me, it always seems that I’m in the beat up Chevy, watching as everyone else speeds ahead into the future while I’m stuck idling at the light.
As the OC pulled off to the right, the conviction for acting like a crazy person came over me and then this insight I just shared. If Jesus is the Way then that means that all of us have the same destination. My job isn’t to worry about those who are leagues in front of me but to focus on my own journey, staying on the road, etc. Funny and obviously rather simple but for me it was profound.
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:10 AM
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Politics. I haven't written on them for a while because frankly I'm convinced that no one makes logical arguments anymore. Many people shout things really loud but they have no idea what they mean and it's pointless to try and argue with them. Either way, this cartoon is an example of the kind of hatred that to me is despicable. If this came out on the "right" (which I have never seen) then I would rebuke it just as hard. This kind of stuff though is horrendous and shows how much contempt people can have for a person like Rush Limbaugh. Just because you don't agree with someone, vehemently admittedly, doesn't make it right for you to wish them dead! Yet, people pray for President Bush to die and others like that. This to me shows a break down in intellectual prowess. It's easier to wish someone dead then to try to argue their point. Sad and why I'm just done with politics.
Posted by Brother Bell at 10:37 PM
The atmosphere was electric. The people glued to the stage. Music was blaring as loud as you can possibly handle and goosebumps/gooseflesh (which one is it actually) could be seen on any participant down the aisle. I sat there in awe, tears flowing from my eyes. Never had I experienced such joy, such elation, such beauty. All around people were crying out, screaming at the top of their lungs, singing the praises! My friends came and greeted me with a hug, we shared thoughts of joy, thoughts of praise. Then I looked up at the TV and there was the ceremony for the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. What a beautiful night!
So, if you are a Christian you probably were thinking I was referring to some type of amazing worship experience. In fact many of the emotions that I had that night were awfully familiar as the "best times in worship" I've ever had. Some people would make you feel guilty for this. I remember a "brother" in Christ coming up to me during worship and "rebuking" me for not expressing myself like I did when the Sox won it all. I turned to this "brother" and stated that when he became Jesus then he could talk. He didn't like that to much and honestly I wasn't being to much like Jesus myself. But there was something in both of our stupid comments.
The tendency in worship is to gauge "success" (think about that for a second) on the amount of "feelings" that are stirred and the natural outworking of those feelings in some type of spontaneous bodily reaction. While there should be no doubt that outward expressions of worship are a natural outworking they should not be the identification mark of worship. They should not be the gauge of success!
We view worship as successful if we stir up "emotions" that others can observe but shouldn't worship be successful every time because it is God who is being praised not us. Undoubtedly there are times when it is harder but I wonder how many times the reason it is harder is because we are addicted to the FEELINGS of worship and not the God we are worshiping? Do we then make worship more about how I feel? Is that what it is about?
Finally, I find it interesting that God states that if we don't worship Him then the stones will. Stones don't have a personality and they do not have the latest Christian "rock" band (pun intended) leading worship but just by being stones they worship. Maybe then those feelings when the Sox won it all were not so as unholy as I was made to feel? God was the one who created the emotions and God is the one who gave me the ability to feel joy, excitement, etc. If by utilizing those feelings...if by me just being me...are expressions of what God made me then maybe it was a form of worship. Maybe there are a lot of things that are worship and I'm just to hard headed to realize it? Funny, the stones gets it! We don't? Irony?
Posted by Brother Bell at 3:17 PM
Monday, June 16, 2008
Interesting thoughts from the Boundless.org website. A young lady (I assume) sent a question about what men should look for in a woman of God because boundless had covered what woman should look for in a man. The first answers to the question are your normal: "be a Christian, love God, etc." answers but here is where it gets interesting. Disclaimer: I didn't say this,
"While both husband and wife must be open to the blessing of children, and teach their children to fear, love and obey God (Malachi 2:15, Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Ephesians 6:1-4), wives must be willing to bear the babies and take primary responsibility for their physical care in the early years (Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 31:10-31)."
I don't see what exactly is wrong with this statement but there still is something which stings when reading it. I know I can't bear children (no matter what Oprah tells us) and I know that my responsibility will be kids as well. But the primary responsibility is the ladies? Why does this seem like it shouldn't be said? The list continues:
"Where men should be striving to have the qualifications of a spiritual leader, women should be developing the qualities that will make her a help to her husband. (Genesis 2:18) They include being self-controlled, pure and kind, as well as effective home managers."
I find my hesitation to these comments does not come from Scripture but comes from my own perceptions about how and what women think. I have no problem admitting that I look for this, even if that means people perceive me as wanting barefoot/pregnant, but I also think hidden in this viewpoint is that men are actually men! I find it interesting that even I had a hesitation towards admitting that this is what I'm looking for and this article was written by a woman? Maybe we men have been so beat up over what to look for that we no longer know what to actually look for? If there is no difference between the sexes, which is the main thesis of today's world, then there is no way for any man to have things to look for in a woman. Ladies, wonder why guys don't pursue? This would be one reason!
Posted by Brother Bell at 11:59 AM
Friday, June 13, 2008
What is a revival? When is it legitimate? Are we allowed to question anyone who claims to be participating in a revival and if we do question it could we be actually “quenching the Spirit”.
There are two extremes for Christian reaction to any type of revival.
First are those who reject the complete thing and label any event that does not fit into their spiritual experience as heresy or as not of God. They do not go to Scripture to test the Spirit but instead rely on hearsay and there own emotions. (Ironically the same thing they condemn in others) This is not something which Scripture would allow a Christian to partake in because notice the following passage: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone (emphasis mine), able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:23-24)
Second are the people who take everything and every word of an experience at a revival as truth (even though they would state they are not) and whenever someone questions them they quickly retort: “You’re quenching the Spirit.” This convenient spiritual trump card stands little chance of rebuttal because usually the person who is following the passage listed above is not trying to disavow a person (this is key) but trying to question as they are biblically commanded to do. All throughout Scripture believers are continuously warned to inspect any move of God. “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said (emphasis mine).” (1 Corinthians 14:29) Paul continues to remind those who would state that no one should question them: “Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?” (1 Corinthians 14:35) Whenever someone then rejects biblical criticism Paul states emphatically that the person be ignored. Period
What isn’t a Revival
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.” 2 Timothy 2:8
Before getting into what a revival actually is, it’s necessary to weed out the things which should not lead us to conclude that a revival is legitimate.
Miracles and revival seem to go hand in hand. In conversation a revival is always justified because someone was healed or some other miraculous event has taken place. Scripture clearly states: “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4a) This passage is used and rebutted in any discussion as something Jesus was stating to the Pharisees. Yet, this misses the larger picture in that there is the second part to that verse which mentions the sign of Jonah. He was in the fish for three days; Jesus was in the ground for three days. The point of the matter for Jesus was not to negate miracles but to make everyone realize that miracles happen because of the greatest miracle; the resurrection of Christ! This will lead directly into what a revival is but let’s stay on this subject of miracles.
“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect-if that were possible.” Mark 13:22
This verse makes it very clear that the “elect” cannot be deceived but notice also that it states that the false prophets/Christs will be able to perform signs and miracles. Throughout the Scriptures then there are continuous examples of men and women who are given supernatural power but do not get that power from God even though they claim to. A believer then should never let a miracle be the starting point for defending any type of revival as legitimate from God. Period.
“I just don’t put God in a box”. The second trump card. Many times revivals, at least in today’s day and age, are synonymous with very peculiar human reactions and manifestations. I won’t get into specific one’s here because the list would be to long but given the foundation we have already laid the question is what does Scripture state? “Therefore my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should (emphasis mine) be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) This verse very clearly sets out a limit for what God does in any type of revival and notice it isn’t us who puts God in a box. He gave us the map for how He is going to move! Any legitimate move of God does not defraud or diminish the image of God in us. We have a fallen nature, yes, but God does not magnify that nature or make it some other earth bound nature; He wants to destroy it.
(c) Rebuking “doctrine”
Doctrine does not get a lot of credit these days. In fact, it is almost looked at as the enemy. Doctrine is associated with a rigid, by-the-book type of mentality and many tend to state that doctrine is the reason that we do not have revivals. People would rather live by books then get into the waves of the Spirit. Again, what does Scripture state? “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine (emphasis mine). Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside myths.” (2 Timothy 3:3-4) Paul does not stop there: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16) Paul, Jesus, and many others loved doctrine and they believed that studying it, living it, and walking it made for a stronger Christian life. As we saw earlier, Jesus even said it would save us in the end!
What is a Revival
Now that we have spent some type stating what a revival isn’t, we must now ask what a revival is.
(a) Return of the Prodigal
Perhaps the greatest example of a revival that I have ever found in Scripture is that of the prodigal son. Yeah, exactly, we don’t necessarily think of it like that! When the son came home, realized his mistake, and repented to the Father, a great feast with music and dancing was rolled out. (Luke 15) The story ends like this: “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (vs. 32) Any type of revival centers on the return of the prodigals home.
The prodigal analogy I believe works so well because throughout both history and Scripture, the most lasting revivals have been those which led to reformation of a persons character. One thinks of Josiah and his discovery of the book of the law or the Wesleyan revival which is credited with saving much of Britain. Revivals are not “new things” but instead “old things revisited”. We see this throughout Paul’s writings: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3) Paul also stated: “But as for your, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) A revival then does not focus on accepting some “new revelation” but instead focuses on a return to the path of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Keeping close to what was handed down from the past is the job of the Christian; this is why people who state that by questioning the newest revival you are quenching the Spirit are wrong. Are job as a believer is to hold fast to that old, old story. Period.
Perhaps the most important sign that a revival is legitimate is something which does not become apparent right away. Time actually is the teller. Does the person experience a dramatic shift in their character? Do they love? As Paul said: “If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Paul then goes and gives the list of all the things which love are. A person cannot have experienced a revival if they do not dramatically shift their thoughts and make the fruit of the Spirit their mission in life. The best sign of revival is to see how a person comes back from one. Many times this tells us all we need to know!
(d) Spiritual Gifts
I know it seems a little contradictory to state that spiritual gifts can be a sign of a revival, especially since miracles and signs are considered spiritual gifts, but this is a tension I am willing to live with because Paul obviously did. I believe that after salvation there is a secondary experience that God bestows on all His people that prepares them to go out and do great works for Him. Acts 2:39 states: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Peter was referring here to the events which took place earlier in the chapter where believers were baptized in tongues of fire. This gifting made rather cowardly men strong preachers of the Gospel. This gift also is so powerful that it can be a way to see that person has had a dramatic shift. “The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they had heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” (Acts 10:45-46)
Paul placed love in between the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians because he saw what destructive forces inappropriate revivals can have on a church. When people fight and bicker and things get out of control, no fruit can possibly grow and the body of Christ as a whole suffers because of it! You cannot have spiritual gifts without love and love always proceeds the gifts. I would also argue that fruits proceed gift and just like we prophesy in part so do we “fruit in part” except the former is fertilized by the latter. Whenever revivals start with four and ignore three, we get Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. A mistake we do not need to make again!
In closing I have laid out what I believe to be a biblical examination for looking at how God moves in our world today. As someone who has been on the receiving side of both extremes I know how hard it can be for a Christian to wade through the passions on both sides. Being a Pentecostal also means dealing with spiritual fascists who very quickly toss you under the bus if they feel like you are weighing the Spirit down. I have experienced though that being thrown under the bus is better then crashing and being tossed out a window of the bus. The wisest words I’ve ever heard for treading these discerning waters was from a preacher quoting Scripture. “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39) Time will be the teller and we know the ending if we stick to that which has been passed down to us. Amen!
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:47 PM
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
"We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the "Rapture" of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system." $40 dollar subscription!
I only have the following questions:
Posted by Brother Bell at 5:45 PM
Sunday, June 8, 2008
ChristianityToday.com has a review of Sex and the City that was almost more outrageous then it was a good review of the movie. I understand that the website is going to have someone watch it (noticeably a woman) but that such statements as:
"And, like the TV series, the film offers much that will resonate with singles—and yes, even Christians—who see themselves not just as a demographic in a Barna poll but as sexual beings who wrestle with balancing loneliness and a desire for romantic love with a commitment to purity and platitudes like "true love waits." (And waits. And waits.)"and
"They, unlike many Christians, don't insult my intelligence. Instead they speak to the complexities of relationships in a postmodern age—addressing baby lust, the mommy wars, sexual temptation, dating outside your "class," commitment-phobia, the reluctant desire to be rescued by a man, and the simultaneous fear that you'll lose your own hard-won identity in the process. Yes, materialism and hedonism abound. But so does a messy wrestling with complex new realities of life that I wish I saw more of in Christian circles."
pass as "ok" is really depressing for me as a single guy who doesn't believe "TRUE LOVE WAITS" is a platitude. I have to admit I was shocked reading the review because I was apparently dumb enough to believe that a Christian girl would find no interest in seeing this movie! I am just really dumb founded? I understand girls aren't turned on the same way a guy is but the movie is entitled SEX AND THE CITY. You are watching other people, from my understanding of the review, having premarital sex, committing adultery, threesomes and every other sexual abomination besides lesbianism! What shocks me even more is that Christian girls would believe that these four women in the TV show/movie are ROLE MODELS for singleness struggles? I would have no problem with stating that these women are the Harlot in Proverbs who entice men from the pursuit of Lady Wisdom! Yeah, those harlots may have some understanding, but last time I checked they weren't exactly role models for how to pursue a pure relationship with either a man or God for that matter!
So, I haven't seen the movie, and undoubtedly some will bring that up in an objection. I understand. I just can't believe we even need to really bring this up? And the same goes across the board! What are we accepting people!
Posted by Brother Bell at 4:24 PM
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
As if it isn't hard enough already, this new "news article" states that all women are really turned on by a guy who is "green" with his car selection. The title of the article is "EcoGeeks get all the girls". Here are some of the highlights.
* Nearly 9 in 10 women (88 percent) say they'd rather chat up someone who owns the latest fuel-efficient car versus the latest sports car.
* Eighty percent of American car buyers would find someone with the latest fuel-efficient car more interesting to talk to at a party than someone with the latest sports car.
* More than 4 out of 10 (45 percent) 18- to 43-year-olds say it's a fashion faux pas nowadays to have a car that's not green or environmentally friendly.
The irony of this whole entire article is that if we lived in different times this would be called something different. Like, being frugal! Any guy who a woman will be attracted to is going to have to show that he cares more about her then he does about material possessions. (At least from my limited experience anyway) As Shania Twain once said: "That Don't Impress Me Much". This article then serves as a great example of how something like wisdom can be bent to propaganda. We all do it but I just thought this was a funny example. Women want the Hulk! Who would have thought?
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:00 PM
Saturday, May 31, 2008
I have been fascinated by all the pictures coming back from the Mars Lander. They just released a really cool one today (which I cannot find again online) showing what appears to be ice underneath the lander itself. Scientists are totally geeking out about it because with ice comes the possibility that some type of life form, wither at the cell level or any other level for that matter, could have either existed in the past or even exists now on the Red Planet. Who would have ever thought we could seriously ask this question but "if" the lander does find bacterial life or some other form of life, does that disprove God? Or, should this question be preempted with another one?
The question we should be asking is not what does it mean if we find life on Mars. The real question is why is life, in the highest forms we now know, on THIS planet? When that gets answered, I'll entertain the question of life on other planets.
Posted by Brother Bell at 8:38 PM
Monday, May 26, 2008
Our limited senses only allow us to perceive a three dimensional space sliding along a time line whereas current physical theories place us in an 11 dimensional universe. So that nothing you worry about has 7 dimensions to roam around in masquerading as something. So don’t worry, modern physics is nowhere near postulating creation ex-nihilo."
I am part of the "blogging" community at a great website entitled Hotair.com. An author on the site every Sunday posts an interesting examination of Islam and the Qu'ran and gives otherwise laypeople on the subject of Islam a world class scholar treatment on the subject. As is always the case in a Christian society, many different discussion about Christian leek through and today was really no different. I recently participated in a discussion with a very knowledgeable "atheist" on the matter of the existence of God. For fairness to his argument I will post what he said verbatim and then offer a reply. I guess you can be the judge.
Now I will tell you right off the bat; this guy is good. From what I can understand of basic physics it is that we have discovered that multi-dimensions exist and that we are only in a certain plain, mainly 3rd. However, this argument does not assist the atheist in his case nor does it work against a theists. First, many atheists try to grab ground by stating that you are coming at them with religious presuppositions while they are coming at you with science. This was clearly seen when the gentleman I had this discussion with stated that:
"St. Anselm’s ontological proof for the existence of god was completely destroyed by Immanuel Kant and David Hume by observing that it contains the unjustified assumption that the real is more perfect than the unreal or that existence is more perfect than non existence; these are belief statements which should have no part in a logical argument."
This is what is conveniently called throwing dust in your eyes. First, the idea that you can come at a certain aspect of evidence without presuppositions is circular and impossible. You cannot find evidence unless you put it together and you cannot put it together if you do not have at least an idea of what you are looking at and what you are looking for. Let us continue:
"We perceive the universe as ordered since we are part of it. This is almost a condition for us to remain sane and is certainly necessary for survival. This perceived order does not imply that there is a creator. In any event, if there were some super creator entity would still be legitimate to ask who or what created the creator. The usual answer about god always existing does not suffice since the universe could also have always existed without this add on."
I do not remember the exact logical flaw that the first sentence is but I do know that it is one. You cannot really understand something unless you have something to compare it to. Justice does not tell you what justice is just like love does not define love to you. There has to be something from which a thing "originates" in order to "define" it. Plus, why do we all universally perceive this order and why do we all know when it is out of place? My point to this gentleman was simply that I wouldn't want to believe in his god either. He is to small and to weak to even be fathomed. The idea also that the earth could be eternal was thrown away years ago. And by the definition of Anselm's argument (which my friend here does not understand) the greatest possible thing we can think of is God so therefore it is impossible to think of something even greater.
Admittedly, the theist arguments for God cannot give the "smoking gun" to any headstrong atheist. However, given the alternatives it makes the most sense. If you need an example, look no further then my friend arguing that E.T. could exist on some plane beyond our senses which dropped us off here to find our way through the depraved world in which we live. I present a God, who lives in another dimension but also dwells in this one and any others for that matter. Who is uncaused because, He is, and since He is, He is/was able to cause me. And because He caused me I can look at this world as not the depraved, spinning disaster it sometimes seems to be but as something which is a part of the master plan. It does take faith to believe in God. But what exactly does my friend prevent as the alternative?
"We perceive the universe as ordered since we are part of it. This is almost a condition for us to remain sane and is certainly necessary for survival."Scary words indeed.
Posted by Brother Bell at 8:03 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
The dream starts off like it did the last week I had it. I'm in a basement, with many cloudy windows all around me, running from a large snake which is invisible but not soundless. I can never see it but no matter where I run to, I always come back to circular stairs. I run up to the top, and as I turn to hear if it is following I feel something wrap around me. Then I wake up.
There are a few dreams which I always have. This one is the most recent reoccurring dream that started my junior year of college. I've always chalked this one up to my mortal fear of snakes and that the snake is a metaphor for some type of difficulty I am going through and my dream is a reflection of that fear being played out in my subconscious. Sounds incredibly psychological but it's not the only one I've continued having.
The first reoccurring dream I remember I thank my mother for. She loved to watch Godzilla movies, and when I'm not running from a snake, I'm running from Godzilla. Anyway, this is getting too scary so let me get back to my last reoccurring dream before I get to my main point.
The last dream I have is rotating around my wedding day. I am standing at the altar of a church, decked out in a really nice tux. (Strangely I don't know the color, I just know it's a tux) Then beautiful music starts to play and I can see my family smiling around me. As I make more and more friends they are added to the crowd who come to watch the blessed occasion. Then toward the back of the church, the door opens and a man steps in with his daughter close to his side. (odd there are no bridesmaids, groomsmen, or anything else which normally proceeds this particular procession) As she begins to walk down the aisle, I can only see her gown, her beautiful hair (and I do know what color that is) and her father who brings her to me and gives her away. Oddly I never remember his face but I know it's her dad. He lifts the veil to kiss her but I can't make out her face. He brings it back down and I take her up to the altar. As I go to lift up the veil, I wake up.
This dream has frustrated me more then any of my other dreams. It frustrates me because this dream typifies much of what aggravates me in this life. I'm not only talking here of getting married, or for that matter watching everyone else getting married, I'm talking about how all of life seems to be a pursuit of something that is unobtainable. And when you get in reach of it, real life smacks you back down to reality. It's like that feeling you have when you get back from vacation, complete and utter frustration.
I am convinced that people are divided into two types. The first are those who have an expectancy or dream which, when it doesn't get fulfilled stop dreaming and hate the pursuit. Then there are those who dream and pursue and even though they do not find what they are looking for they enjoy the journey anyway. I do not know if we ever will arrive at complete fulfillment this side of heaven. I don't think we can. I think there are always going to be 'desires' we have where just as we are about to reach them, we wake up. I do not believe however that it is because our desires are to big for God to fulfill, I just think something which we could not fathom is awaiting us instead.
Being the good Bible scholar that I am, I was ecstatic many years ago when I found out that this is actually in Scripture! My preferred version of this verse is the KJV because it just flows naturally. Listen: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)
The question then is which is more valuable to us; the journey or the destination? The second question then is, is the question I just asked an either/or fallacy. Why only those two options? Why do we make it so it has to be one or the other? It seems to me that the point of all of heaven is that while this earth is no where near the glory of heaven there still is a taste of heaven here.
I look at the dream concerning my wedding as just a taste of the things I desire. My ultimate example is seeing Christ face to face. My pursuit of Christ is very much like my pursuit of this mystery lady except the roles are reversed (as weird as that sounds) and I'm walking down an aisle that continues on and on and on until someday I will meet Him face to face. There won't be more ahead of me, just Him. That is why I believe the journey is just as important as the destination. I may be impatient and want that veil lifted now but life, subconscious dreams, and Scripture dramatically reminds me that He will be the one to lift the veil,
or maybe even it tear it?
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Rev. 1:7)
"And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads."(Rev. 22:4)
Posted by Brother Bell at 7:37 PM
Saturday, May 24, 2008
For my Practicum I have to answer different types of questions that may be received at the church. I thought this was an interesting one so I posted the question and my answer. I could be wrong on this but it would be interesting to get other's perspectives! Let me know what you think!
1.) Since we know that demons are fallen angels is it possible for angels to still fall?
2.) When we get to heaven will it be possible for us to mess up/ make a mistake/ sin and get removed from heaven?
3.) If the answer to number two is, "No, it is not possible to get kicked out of heaven." how does that work with having free will?
The first thing worth mentioning at the start of this discussion is a clear definition of what Angels are. Angels are created, (Ps. 148:2,5) spirit beings just as God is but they are not eternal. (Luke 24:37-39) genderless (Mt. 22:30) and they never die since they are purely spirit. (Mt. 25:41) Angels also are given a free will because as created beings, they still have a choice to actually worship God or to not to. This is inevitably where your student questions come in and it is from this foundation that I will attempt an answer.
We know from Scripture that once an angel sins they do not have any sort of redemption available to them. (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) We also know that many of the hosts rebelled against God and were cast down to the earth. The specifics of this fall we do not have and many speculate concerning it. The bigger point in this story though is that rebellion against God, which is what we call sin, has more then physical consequences. In fact, if the falling of the angels shows us anything it is that our sins echo in eternity unless there was some type of covering for this. Unless God had an answer that would cleanse us from eternal damnation. Hence the Christian hope is something that even the angels seem to ponder! (1 Peter 3:22)
Wither or not Angels can still fall is something which we cannot know. Scripture is silent beyond the fact that Angels did fall. However, there are some things which we can speculate and I put emphasis on that. Angels did not fall within what we know as “time”. Angels exist in a world that is separate but tied to our own and therefore there “falling” is spiritually the same as ours but different since they cannot be redeemed. Angels are purely spirits and therefore I believe that they cannot change in the way that we do. Angels cannot “turn” and be “good” once they made the decision to be “bad”. (Heb. 2:16) How this exactly works we cannot know.
Concerning the second and third question I do not believe that there is an issue with being eternally with God and still having free will. First, we will not be carrying around these fallen bodies when we are resurrected. Second, the evil forces that lead us into temptation will no longer have power over us since they will be thrown into the
I liken our experience in Heaven/New Jerusalem as someone who has been anticipating a vacation. He freely chose to save up for the vacation, he worked for it, he took the vacation time for it, and he planned it with the help of an outside agent. When the time for the vacation comes he is not going to think of his free will being violated by enjoying the scenery, the company, and food which is presented because it was what he paid for. In fact, he is going to feel regret when he has to leave and go back. Or he could feel homesick and just want to go back to a place which is familiar to him. In heaven however neither of these options will be a factor since Heaven/New Jerusalem is a fulfillment of everything and anything we could desire. It also culminates the ultimate desire we have as humans; we found home. Therefore, we will be utterly satisfied that we have finally reached home, we have finally found peace.
So in closing, I am not sure if I actually answered your question in full. However, I hope to leave you with the following main points. First, we can’t know everything concerning the angels because the Bible does not let us in on it. Second, sin has grave consequences not just on our body but on our spirits as well. Finally, this shows us how great a salvation we have received because Jesus was made lower then the angels so that we could not suffer their fate! That kind of love is something we all seek and when we finally see it face to ace, nothing could possibly drive us away from it!
Posted by Brother Bell at 10:11 PM
If you are viewing this on facebook you have to go to my blog site. If you are on the blog site, let me know if you think this could be Obama's running mate? Or maybe it's his following? Hhmmm....
Posted by Brother Bell at 1:48 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I kept count over the past 2 weeks how many people on facebook had living in Narnia on their profile status. My final result was 12. (13 if you include me)
I know after a fresh snow, when there is no mud and no plows, I can't help but look out and feel like I am in Narnia. Whenever I see a lamp post, I half expect Jadis to come running around the corner in a buggy demanding that we bow to her wishes. (The White Witch for you lesser nerds)
While there is no doubt that Lewis created this world for our entertainment, why is it that so many of us wish we lived there? Why when I see fresh snow do I think of Lantern Waste? Why do we walk past wardrobes and quickly see if anyone is looking and open up the door just to make sure. Why?
In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader Aslan explains to Lucy why she can no longer come back to Narnia. The exchange goes like this:
"Dearest," Said Aslan very gently, "you and your brother will never come back to Narnia." "Oh, Aslan!" Said Edmund and Lucy both together in desparing voices. "You are too old, children," said Aslan, "and you must begin to come close to your own world now." "It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you, We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?" "But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan. "Are-are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund. "I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."A fictional story to be sure but maybe the point of the stories of Narnia is that we realize that it isn't just about Narnia. It's about knowing HIM, here?
Posted by Brother Bell at 10:46 PM
"Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men's beliefs that they own their bodies - those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent, and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of another!" C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters
Posted by Brother Bell at 12:12 PM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"We have seen only one [perfect] man. And he was not at all like the psychologist's picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed popular citizen. You can't really be very well 'adjusted' to your world if it says you have a devil and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood." C.S. Lewis in the Four Loves
Posted by Brother Bell at 11:02 PM
Ever since C. Everett Koop and Francis Schaeffer pricked our consciences, abortion has been on the front burner for socially minded evangelicals. Thirty-five years since Roe v. Wade, it's time to ask whether it should remain the sine qua non of Christian social engagement.
Claiming to represent the new center, an increasingly self-confident wing of sincere evangelicals thinks not. "The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper," asserts Jim Wallis in his new book, The Great Awakening, "engaging issues such as poverty and economic justice, global warming, hiv/aids, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur, and the ethics of the war in Iraq."
In The Scandal of Evangelical Politics, Ron Sider, echoing a common complaint that pro-lifers believe that "life begins at conception and ends at birth," says starvation and second-hand smoke are also "sanctity of life" issues.
In other words, these and other voices seem to be saying that fighting legalized abortion—the deliberate, state- sanctioned taking of 50 million unborn human lives from their mothers' wombs since 1973 (and the accompanying national guilt)—should simply be one item among many on an ever-expanding evangelical to-do list. I agree that we have multiple responsibilities as Christians, and different callings. But if everything is a priority, then nothing is. While no one is saying that defending unborn human life is optional, the way we sometimes talk about our broader agenda appears to minimize the importance of abortion.
Imagine an adviser telling Martin Luther King Jr. that he won't be participating in the march from Selma to Montgomery because there is a broader social agenda. Rightly might King retort, "But we're not finished!"
Despite all our other good and necessary deeds during the '60s, we evangelicals faced scathing criticism for being largely awol on civil rights, the premier social issue of the era. What will future generations say if we neglect the preeminent moral issue of our day? We cannot excuse ourselves by saying, "Well, protecting unborn human life is someone else's calling, but [fill in the blank] is my calling." We are all called to fight abortion.
"God wants to save these children," Ohio Congressman Tony Hall says in Michael Lindsay's Faith in the Halls of Power. "He doesn't want these children killed." Jesus never turned his back on children. Will we?
And faltering now would be doubly tragic, because the tide is turning. According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1974. The number has also fallen, from 1.6 million abortions in 1990 to 1.2 million in 2005. While that's still far too many, and the prospect of actually overturning Roe seems distant, it's real progress nevertheless.
For example, Americans United for Life notes that over a 14-year period, Mississippi passed 15 pro-life laws, such as the Abortion Complication Reporting Act. As a result, the number of abortions has declined by 60 percent, and six of seven abortion clinics in the state have closed.
Thanks to pregnancy care centers, ramped up adoption efforts, increased access to ultrasounds, and the judicious use of pro-life arguments (such as those in Francis Beckwith's book Defending Life), we are also winning hearts and minds. The Pew Research Center reports that 18- to 29-year-olds (many of whom consider themselves abortion survivors) consistently favor tougher abortion restrictions than do those 30 and older. In 2003 Gallup found that 32 percent of teens surveyed said abortion should be illegal in all cases—compared with 17 percent of adults. Even Hollywood appears to be sympathetic to pro-life concerns (ct, February, page 34).
Yes, some pro-lifers have besmirched the cause by the use of violence, brass-knuckle political tactics, or hateful rhetoric. And yes, a majority of Americans favors keeping abortion legal in some circumstances. But Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family notes that most would make abortion illegal except in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother. "That's a far cry from what we have today," Earll says, "and an encouraging sign that this nation can move back to a place where abortion is no longer legal or thinkable."
It's hard to find anyone who is "pro-abortion" these days. Hillary Clinton calls abortion a "sad, even tragic choice." Barack Obama opposed banning partial-birth abortion, which the Supreme Court restricted last year. But even Obama told this magazine, "I don't know anybody who is pro-abortion."
No, we will not all be called to picket or pray in front of an abortion clinic or pass legislation or support an unwed mother or adopt a child or write letters to the editor. But we all can do something.
Opposing abortion is not simply another agenda item for evangelicals. It is our sacred duty. Whatever other good deeds we are called to do—and there are many—we cannot say abortion is someone else's business. It's our business.
Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Posted by Brother Bell at 10:57 PM
Monday, May 19, 2008
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said."
It is amazing to me that you can say certain things in our country and no matter what it is you actually are saying people will lap it up and give you a roaring applause, just because you bring them "hope".
One of the arguments the abortion activists use for the continuation of the slaughtering of innocent children is that they feel that the Government should have no right over their bodies. Yet, these same people have no problem with Barack Obama telling them what their temperature guage should be, as well as what kind of car they can drive!
While some will argue he is talking about "excess" and "greed" I would ask how is keeping my apartment 72 degrees greedy? What is a non-greedy temperature? 71? How is it that a runner up for President has the right to tell me what my temperature will be? Who decides when I've been to greedy and I don't need that much food anyway? The list of questions could go on and on.
To be fair to Obama he isn't the only Presidential candidate speaking like this, John McCain is as well. McCain though does not advocate the nanny government as deep as Obama but McCain dances to the same beat. His dance is just a little older and not as chic as Obama. So this is how freedom dies then huh, to thunderous applause?
Posted by Brother Bell at 11:48 AM
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I had a great conversation tonight with a guy from work who I just met and found out that he was a believer in Jesus of Nazareth. He shared with me how two weeks ago God healed his knee and he has walked without a limp since that day. I sat that there just amazed at how faithful God is to His people. How incredible He is to those whom He calls. Now I just wish I always believed it.
There is a book out called The God Delusion and the author sets out lay blame for many of the worlds problem in people's belief in God. While an interesting, unprovable premise, the author is rather entertaining and makes his points in a seemingly convincing manner. Either way, I can probably imagine that he wasn't going to be seeing Narnia this weekend.
Before I went an saw Prince Caspian yesterday I watched The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and started laughing when Lucy is in Mr. Tumnus's house looking at his book shelf with titles such as "Is Man a Myth". I could almost imagine a book there entitled The Aslan Delusion: Why Belief in Aslan Spoils Everything.
There is no doubt when reading Lewis' work that he has an agenda towards those who would call religious folk "delusional" unequivocally. Lewis had to face such accusations all the time. How can you believe in something that is not empirical? How can you ask someone to believe in something that we cannot see? We are dancing to our DNA. We are products of chance plus time. There are many Miraz's out there, the question then is where are the Caspians.
It may seem lame to even use a child's story like this and many people will view it like that. Just because it is a child's tale does not make it devoid of meaning for adults. Maybe we have overcomplicated things and we need to remember that simple lesson. It is the belief in the supernatural which brings about the best world. It is the belief in a all loving God who invaded this earth 2,000 years ago and continues to invade in the people He calls His bride. I think back to the scene in the movie and it was very telling: "I just wish he would prove Himself to me" Peter said. Lucy replied: "Maybe He is just waiting for us to prove ourselves to Him?"
Posted by Brother Bell at 2:13 AM
Friday, May 16, 2008
Besides being really, really tired this morning I'm pretty jazzed about the premiere of Prince Caspian last night. I was disappointed that no one dressed up and looked like a Faun but I guess that get up would be uncomfortable to sit in a movie theater with. Plus aren't shirts required to watch a movie? Anyway, since a lot of people have not watched the movie yet, I thought this would be a good place to get my thoughts of it down. So please understand that I'm going to spoil the movie! If you have not seen it yet, please don't read any further!
Prince Caspian (PC) was one of my favorite books as a kid. I remember the first time reading it in fourth grade when I moved to Hawaii and I think I've read it every year since. I know that high expectation can kill a movie going experience. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (LWW) lived up to a lot I expected but it still seemed to lack some important things I wanted. PC though had every major scene that I loved from the book and more!
From the opening scene you know it is going to be a darker plot then LWW as Caspian rushes out of the castle to escape his power-hungry uncle, who just found out that he had a son but Caspian stood in the way of this son becoming king. The movie has Caspian meeting Trufflehunter and Nikabrik pretty quick and has him blowing the horn even sooner but in the big scheme of things this makes sense with where they were going with the movie. In the book PC blows the horn in the midst of a battle they are losing. This is probably the biggest departure the movie makes but it worked. Thankfully!
I loved it when the Pevensies first came on the screen because you could see that they truly wanted to be back in Narnia. How do you go from being Kings and Queens to grade school again? I think the movie captured this angst really well! When they first get to Narnia you really feel their excitement and then you also feel there devastation when they realize that Mr. Tumnus and the Beavers are not going to be there anymore. That was a powerful line from Lucy.
My favorite characters in this story are easily Edmund and Lucy. Edmund has grown (physically) and matured in this film and I almost wish he was in it more! They kept his sword fight with Trumpkin in the movie and I loved it. Trumpkin though I'm going to have to wait to judge because he was probably the biggest departure from the book character wise. I think it still worked but I don't know yet if I liked it. I loved the scene where Edmund believes Lucy about seeing Aslan but my favorite scene with Edmund is easily the one where Caspian and Peter are entranced by the white witch. She is a locked up in an icicle and in order to get out needs a drop of Adam's blood. Caspian (at the point of a sword) almost gives but Peter pushed him away at first to resist but you can see the tension he has about maybe letting her out to help! Where has Aslan gone anyway? You can see the indecisiveness in Peters eyes just as the ice begins to crack and finally breaks apart with the witch screaming. There stands Edmund with a giant lion on the wall behind him. It was easily the most redemptive part of the movie and a great example of how far Edmund has come!
Lucy is simply amazing in this movie. You could feel her anguish when she realized that Mr. Tumnus wouldn't be there and that many of those dreams she had were going to be different. The one part I did not like was in the scene with the white witch they had Lucy attacking Nikabrick. I doubt that very highly. That one downside though did not spoil the many brilliant scenes she had. The Dancing Lawn scene were she finally sees Aslan as the trees danced was incredible and right from the book. They decided to make it a dream instead of a real event but it still worked really well. I loved the scene directly after the white witch scene when Peter is sitting by the stone table looking up at the picture of the Lion wondering where Aslan has gone and why he won't show himself. Lucy comes and sits down and talks with him about Aslan seeming to be MIA. You could see Peter was struggling with the fact he almost let the white witch out! Peter says: "I wish Aslan would show himself to me." Lucy replied: "Maybe he is waiting for us to show ourselves to Him."
Overall I gave this movie an 8 out 10 because there were parts in the middle where it seemed to drag. As a fan of the book I did not mind at all but a lot of people were getting up to go to the bathroom so you could tell they thought it was a little long.
Themes from the book were easily shown in the movie and they even expanded on one of them in a way I would never have expected. Aslan barely has anytime in the movie and that works well because it feeds Peter's doubt about Aslan being there to help. Why would Aslan let all these people die? Why would he not come in and save the day? If Aslan was always there then that would have created a whole other issue. Instead, making a theodicy of it worked pretty well in the story! I also loved the friendship, faith, and hope that are clearly presented. Lucy and Edmund show all of these characteristics and magnify them!
The Prince Caspian/Susan romance was perhaps the thing I dreaded the most but I have to say it worked pretty well. The infamous "kiss" scene also was tactfully done and fit the moment. I had no problem with it. Peter was a big departure from the character in the book but you could tell he was struggling with not being respected as the high king. He has some funny lines with that and it worked when you saw him struggling with his identity, especially in light of Caspian. Reepicheep is a hoot and really presents well Lewis' idea of what chivalry is. When it comes to the issue of Susan fighting so much I didn't really have a problem with it but it didn't seem to fit the character. Especially given that she hates "wars" and is sort of a pacifist in the stories. That was a little bit of a departure but I understood why.
Prince Caspian was a great movie and a faithful adaptation of the book. More then LWW was and the fight scenes in this movie are just incredible. The reason I gave it an 8 out of 10 was because it did drag towards the middle and then in the end scenes you really never understand why Lucy runs off the way she does. Where is she going to meet Aslan? I might have missed an explanation but it didn't seem to fit. I loved it in the end where they had the Reepicheep being healed by Lucy and Aslan growing his tale back. The honor of a mouse! I also loved that the last line of the movie is the last line of the book. Caspian also was great and the best scene he has was when Aslan asked all of the Kings and Queens to stand and all the Pevensies stood but PC did not. It was a powerful show of what true leadership is! The movie is very family friendly and may be a little intense for young ones but it kept bad stuff out of it and made an amazing movie I think C.S. Lewis would have been proud of! Now let's just hope they do the same thing with Voyage of the Dawn Treader!
Posted by Brother Bell at 11:42 AM