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For Your Consideration 7.12.13

I received “God’s Favorite Place on Earth” by Frank Viola today! Very excited to dig in and offer a review in the coming days.

In the meantime,here are a couple of blog posts published at Desiring God that challenged and encouraged me this week:

If you have not read anything by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, you really must. This piece will give you a taste of not only her story, but her exceptional writing style. An excerpt:

The Bible is not some pragmatist’s paradigm. It is the double-edged sword that chiseled truth into my stony heart, rendering it new and with it, recreating me as a new creature in Christ, a daughter of the King. I have no personal sexual orientation to call my own after Christ chisels my heart anew — and neither do you. We have Christ orientation, an alien identity to which we claim no rights. Do we struggle with sin? Yes. Is temptation a sin? No. What distinguishes temptation from sin? Temptation clobbers you from the outside and lures you to do its bidding. Sin makes temptation a house pet, gets it a collar and leash, and is deceived to believe that it can be restrained by impositions of civility. What you do with temptation reveals Who owns your heart. How you talk about other people’s sin patterns reveals Who owns your heart.

Read the rest here in her post called, DOMA and the Rock.

The second, written by Jonathan Parnell, is Three Things We Should Know About God. And I confess, “Creator” was one of my three. Think of three things that come to your heart and mind when you think of God then read this post. I promise you will be thankful and encouraged. Here’s a sample:

When you think of God, do you think happy? Or do you think stern? Sadly, it is common for us to think of God as a negative caricature would depict him. Do you think of him frowning? Is he seething with anger like a capricious despot? Or do you see him who is glad at heart — glad in the glory of his Son and the communion that they share? Do we see him as the Father who said of Jesus, with no hesitation, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17)? Do we see him as the Father who delights to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32)? Do we see him as the God who overflows with joy when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7)?

So long as sin exists, he feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11). But at heart — who he is in himself — God is happy. To grasp this truth will work wonders in our souls.

Keep feeding your mind and soul with GOOD things. Drink deeply from God’s rich word, and never stop learning, seeking, growing, thirsting, following hard after Him.

Blessings on you this weekend!

 

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For Your Consideration 7.9.13

Hi friends,

A few items I’d like to bring to your attention this week:

A 33 minute audio message on “The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation,” a sermon given by David Wilkerson at a chapel service at the Assemblies of God national office on March 10, 1998 with a focus on the “seeker sensitive” church model. I believe it is even more relevant to the American Church today. Prepare to be challenged.

Christians are among America’s most compassionate people. But we can do a better job responding to the complexity of poverty. Christianity Today published a very good article on how American Christians can approach the problem of poverty world-wide. It is entitled, Solving Poverty is Rocket Science.

There has been a lot of discussion in many corners of my world about serving, from Sunday messages at church, to discussions in my small group, to current articles and blogs, including this one published last week by Created4Health.org. I think the Spirit is emphasizing something. Serving Others, Your Path to Wellness discusses the scriptural benefits of service.

Finally, anything by Frank Viola is great, but I wanted to share these two posts on John Lennon on Jesus: The Untold Story and Bono on Jesus. I’m not a huge fan of the music of either of these men, but I really found these pieces super interesting and fresh.

The Gospel According to the Beatles   - By: Steve Turner

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Current Events, Society

 

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Honor Much, Suffer Well

I feel the need to apologize. But let me set this up.

Like many Christian leaders, I believe we are living in the last days. Like many believers, I think our country is, like my Grandpa used to say, going to hell in a handbasket. I am like many American Christians: saddened, angry and frustrated at the actions of our government and decisions by our judges and courts. Until now I have been very vocal about my feelings about these things.

This morning, however, a 26-year-old brilliant speaker and one of the Pastors at my church spoke on a passage of scripture in 1 Peter 2 (verses 11-25). His message, titled, “A Colony of Heaven in a Hostile World,” challenged us to “honor much and suffer well” as we face difficult situations in our personal lives and within our radically changing culture. He reminded us that God’s word commands us to honor the Emperor (or respect the King) and that for us, today, that means our President. Unpacking that phrase he showed us that this means to honor, respect and assist those in authority. I have to admit, I bristled a bit at that.

I confess: I think our current President is the worst we’ve ever had. I think he’s incompetent, deceitful and manipulative. I think his actions clearly show his disregard for our Constitution, citizens’ rights, the Founders’ intent, and the very fabric of our great country. I think he’s aiding and abetting our enemies and is playing fast and loose with our taxes. I could go on, and no doubt many of you agree. I don’t think it’s wrong to state opinion when based on public fact.

The Emperor was Nero when Peter wrote his letter. He was one of the worst tyrants in history. He hated Christians so much that he would impale them on stakes and set them on fire in his gardens and porticos for light in the evenings. I’m pretty sure Peter’s contemporaries were talking about this — it was most certainly fact. It was most certainly evil and wrong. Yet this is the dude Peter said to “honor, respect and assist.” Now, I am pretty up to date on news that even the mainstream media refuses to report, but I’m pretty sure President Obama hasn’t lit up any believers for lamplight on the White House lawn, yet.

nero

So here is my apology: I have spent a lot of energy sharing op eds, blogs and articles on Facebook, Twitter, and Scoop.it that were unkind to the President and other leaders. While staying away from the photos with “IDIOT” stamped across the foreheads of prominent leaders saying and doing silly things, I have “liked” posts that disrespected and dishonored the President and other leaders. I apologize. I recognize that God expects me to travel a higher road. I realize that as a follower of Christ I am to emulate Him and we never once heard Him diss the Emperor.

Pastor Travis Clark went on share that “the most Christ-like think you can do is love and honor those you completely disagree with,” and he quoted Jeremiah 29:7:

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

The city referenced here is Babylon, where God sent the Israelites into slavery. For a very, very long time.

So, should we do less? I don’t find it difficult at all to love and honor friends with whom I disagree. But how do you love and honor those who lead poorly, treat you badly, persecute you, and take away your rights?

  • Pray
  • Find common ground
  • Point to Jesus

This does NOT mean to put your head in the sand! We are still called to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We are to be knowledgeable. We are to “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17). DO serve the less fortunate, DO work to correct injustice, DO vote in the next elections and do it with knowledge about the candidates and the issues and wisdom about how they line up with the word of God. Do these things with honor.

“The Gospel is not just a call to heaven–it is a call to a new order of life here and now.” (Another great quote from Pastor Travis.)  “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” (2 Corinthians 6:2). When we honor much and suffer well, God gets all the glory. Let’s make sure we glorify our one, true King by obeying his words to respect and honor our current “king.”

After all, in God’s economy things are not how we think. Remember, ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’? Why shouldn’t we believe that if we respond as God commands He will do great things, just at the right time? I believe He will. So I will stop dissing Mr. Obama and start finding common good. I will pray for our leaders, this nation, and for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen.

 

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American Christians and the Government

There is no doubt that we are watching textbook tyranny unfold before us. The rights and liberties of American Christians, Americans without a voice, and now American conservatives in general, have been slowly and steadily stripped over the last two decades. Laws reflecting moral decline are in place largely because Christians and God-believing conservatives have done nothing, or at least not enough.

Perhaps some feel that a Christian’s business is about the Church and not the government. Politics are dirty business and we don’t want to go there. Some stick their head in the sand hoping it will all go away and God will wave His hand and make it all right some day. (He certainly will, but how terrible will be that wave!)

The country was founded on Christian principles by God-fearing men. Our constitution is not outdated and is meant to protect our freedom from tyranny, but there are those in power today who would like to label it antiquated and wipe it away.

MP900432988

We are called to be salt and light, yet where are we in this season, in these debates? We are told to be gentle as doves yet wise as serpents. Are we obeying? Do we know what is at stake? It seems clear to me that satan is behind the sinister goings on in our government and administrative pawns are playing in his hands. The battle is not with men and women, but with spiritual principalities and powers of darkness. We must pray. Pray for revival. Only a heart-change in the leaders of this country and its citizens will right this listing ship.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  ~1 Timothy 2:1-6

But prayer is key but it is not the only thing we should do. We must not be silent. Our examples in God’s word show Jesus and His disciples speaking loudly and clearly to religious leaders and government officials. We speak by voting, we speak by writing and calling our elected representatives, we speak by sharing truth with others. We speak by refusing to go along with laws or mandates that are contrary to God’s word. We speak by defending the defenseless. We speak by our actions: Caring for the sick, poor, homeless, imprisoned as if each of them were Christ Himself.

This world is not our home. Let’s not be comfortable with it. May we not be found sleeping on the job!

 

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For Your Consideration 3.17.12

I love the blogs to which I subscribe and the bloggers who take the time to write them. Here are some good and challenging reads this lovely Saturday afternoon for your consideration and edification:

I read Stephen Altrogge’s blog yesterday morning, Churches Are Going to Be Messy Places, and agree 100%. Also reading the book, Glorious Mess by Mike Howerton, which clearly shows that messy churches are filled with messy people. I like that this is NOT an excuse for believers to avoid committing to a local church. My supported opinion: There is NO excuse for a believer to avoid becoming part of a local church AND getting there regularly! In this post by Phil Johnson, Providence is Sweet, he tells a story that illustrates one more reason to be connected to the body of Christ.

Earlier this week I posted a few links discussing the Kony 2012 controversy. I’ve updated it with a couple of new links that are very compelling. Here is the post on my other blog, Collect Yourself.

Heath Lambert lays out a most excellent pattern for holding one another accountable without harshness in Gracious Candor: A Tutorial in Speaking Truth in Love.

This an older post by John Piper, but a topic that has been my focus for a few months, so thought I’d share here: How to Glorify God at Work.

Finally, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, here is a great post by Mark Driscoll on the REAL Patrick’s life–it’s nothing like the advertisements (go figure!): Happy Greatest Missionary Who Ever Lived Day!

 
 

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Snakes and Ostriches

My head has been in the sand. (Well not really, but sorta.) I recently read a the December issue of a financial newsletter to which my husband subscribes. This one is less about market research and more about the vast decline of our government, our businesses, our communities, and our society. It is about ethics, or the lack. It is an even-handed article, citing immense corruption and wrong-headed thinking on both sides of the aisle. Some quotes from the piece:

“I do agree that the nation will soon face a choice between heading down the path towards fascism… or turning back the power of government and restoring the limited Republic that was our birthright. I continue to believe Americans will choose personal liberty.

“Please realize, I’m not taking a political side here. I’m not saying the Democrats are singularly responsible for the state of our country. I’m not saying the Republicans are all to blame. And I’m not saying this is a black problem or a white problem. The problem is rooted in the corrupt belief that you can live at the expense of your neighbor… that we have become a nation where the vast majority of people believe their well-being is primarily, someone else’s responsibility.

“This bankrupt belief has taken complete control of our government, educational system, medical industry, and our corporations. And unless we demand better from each other and our political leaders, our society is doomed to collapse under the crushing weight of the Corruption of America.

It’s time we got back to our traditions as Americans and started doing more to take care of our families, communities, and ourselves.”

Here is the full text, shared with permission from the author:

http://www.stansberryresearch.com/pub/reports/201112PSI_issue.html

It’s about as clear as day that we’re headed for disaster, but what is the Christian’s response? It’s clear we have a responsibility to speak up, to vote, to educate ourselves about what our local, state and federal governments are up to, and we should line up all responses with the word of God. I share this here because the church SHOULD be in the State’s business insofar as we are called to be light and salt. Let’s not check our brains at the door when it comes to politics, public education, business or social programs.

Let’s be wise as serpents yet gentle as doves: Not mean as snakes and stupid as ostriches.

 
 

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Why I Won’t Do Yoga

Seems that Americans will try to do just about anything these days, so I guess it is no surprise that I get funny looks when I tell friends I won’t go to a yoga class with them, let alone even consider it as an acceptable form of “exercise” for myself.  And with so many church-going folk spending more time on a yoga mat than in church (or maybe even in the word) without even a second thought to it, we don’t have to wonder long why the American church is in such disrepair.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to bind, join, attach, and yoke – to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” It also means “union” or “communion.” It is generally translated as “union of the individual atma (loosely translated to mean soul) with Paramatma, the universal soul.” This may be understood as union with the divine by integration of body, mind, and spirit. In essence, one who attempts yoga may loosely be referred to as a yogi.

Yoga is a path for transcending the ordinary mind (basically suspending thought) in order to merge with your “higher self” or “God self.” So when yoga means “to yoke,” this is to yoke with Brahman (i.e., the “Infinite,” the “Universal Spirit,” the impersonal force that the Hindus call “god”) via the realization of an altered state of consciousness, thereby theoretically releasing oneself from the bondage of endless reincarnation. Yoga comes out of the Hindu Vedas. It can be traced back to a religious leader, Patanjali. Shiva, one of Hinduism’s three most powerful gods, was known as “The Destroyer” and he’s called Yogi Swara or the “Lord of Yoga.”

There are many forms of yoga today. Of roughly the 10 most common in America, hatha-yoga is one of the most popular practiced by those looking for relaxation and stretching exercise. But there is a common misconception in the West that hatha-yoga is just a neutral form of exercise, an alternative for those who hate to run or lift. But hatha-yoga is one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism and is at its roots most definitely religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially spiritually dangerous forms of yoga.

While there a number of translations, the term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means ‘to oppress.’ Hatha-yoga is designed to suppress the flow of psychic energies through channels (symbolic, or psychic passages on either side of the spinal column), thereby forcing the ‘serpent power’ or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power.

Yoga scholar Hans Rieker declares, “Kundalini [is] the mainstay of all yoga practices.” Swami Vivekananda summarizes the kundalini experience as follows: “When awakened through the practice of spiritual disciplines, it rises through the spinal column, passes through the various centres, and at last reaches the brain, whereupon the yogi experiences samadhi, or total absorption in the godhead.”

Despite the health benefits it proponents claim, there are numerous warnings in authoritative yoga literature which caution that yoga can be physically, mentally, and spiritually harmful if not practiced correctly.For instance, many yogis warn that yoga practice can endanger one’s sanity. In describing the awakening of “kundalini” (coiled serpent power) Gopi Krishna records his own experience as follows: “It was variable for many years, painful, obsessive…I have passed through almost all the stages of…mediumistic, psychotic, and other types of mind; for some time I was hovering between sanity and insanity.”

Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that undergird it. This is an absolutely false belief. … You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. … ‘The movements themselves become a form of meditation.’ The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you … intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! … There is, by definition, no such thing as ‘neutral’ Yoga” (Like Lambs to the Slaughter, pp. 93-95).

Yet a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.

Douglas R. Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and a respected specialist on the New Age Movement, warns Christians that yoga is not merely about physical exercise or health. “All forms of yoga involve occult assumptions,” he warns, “even hatha yoga, which is often presented as a merely physical discipline.” While most adherents of yoga avoid the more exotic forms of ritualized sex that are associated with tantric yoga, virtually all forms of yoga involve an emphasis on channeling sexual energy throughout the body as a means of spiritual enlightenment.

Dr. Albert Mohler cites in a recent blog, “When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness. . . . The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church.”

If you are interested in physical exercises that are designed to improve your health, you should not consider yoga, which is designed for death, and teaches how to reach this state of consciousness where you achieve a better reincarnation. Even the physical yoga positions come directly from Hindu scriptures, and are designed to put you into a state of consciousness where you imagine that you are God. If you are a Christian who thinks you are getting relaxation or exercise, you are really getting Hinduism! If you think you are getting science, you are actually getting religion. This is NOT a practice that should be embraced by Christians or anyone who wishes to remain free from seducing spirits.

 

References:

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/yoga.htm

http://www.swamij.com/yoga-meaning.htm

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/yoga_and_christianity.html

http://www.hinduwebsite.com/yoga.asp

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-subtle-body-should-christians-practice-yoga/

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Belief, Current Events, Society

 

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