Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “culture”

Oscars and the Church

Did you watch the Oscar Presentations last evening?
The Academy Awards are the premier entertainment event of the year. According to http://www.mediamarketjournal.com/, “Time-adjusted ratings have come out and it shows more of the same–pretty much flat numbers overall. The viewership was 39.4 million which was up 4% with less than 1% shrinkage in the 18-49 demo year-to-year as that rating currently stands at 11.7.

Who do you glorify? God or entertainers?

Who do you glorify?
God or entertainers?

-What standards does the Academy Awards nomination committee set?
-How much does the Oscars influence the Nation’s entertainment viewing?
-How much does entertainment influence the Nation’s attitude toward God and morality?
-How much has the Church been influenced by: Entertainment? Advertising? Fashion?
-How do we draw the line between glorifying entertainment and glorifying God?

Twenty years ago, John Piper pondered these questions.

Has the Church Been Disarmed by the World?
December 9, 1992 | by John Piper | Topic: Education

Reading 1 Samuel 13:19-23 this morning caused me to ask if the church has been disarmed by the world through becoming too dependent on the world.

19 Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears”; 20 but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle; 21 and the charge was a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. 22 So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

Evidently the Israelites had allowed themselves to lose all their own blacksmiths to the Philistines. Now they had become accustomed to depending on the Philistines for sharpening all their tools.

This had not seemed a problem in peacetime. All seemed well. But in wartime there were no weapons and the Philistines had, in effect, disarmed the people of God because Israel had come to depend on them for all their sharpening.

Is this a picture of the church’s dependence on the world in many ways? Some are perhaps innocent enough—like sewer and water and light and a lot of other shared services and commodities. But the weapons of our warfare are not like that. The issue is truth and values.

Has the church become dependent on the world for the sharpening of the mind and the spirit? Which in fact only looks like a sharpening if we see life as a time of peace. But it is really a dulling and a disarming if we look at life as a time of spiritual warfare for the minds and hearts of men.

We have come to depend on the world for most of our education and most of our leisure and entertainment and most of the interpretation of the news and events of the world. In doing so I wonder if there are any weapons left?

It raises for me the question of schooling for God’s people. And all the dimensions of information and opinion and entertainment and advertisement that shape our minds. How shall we have ourselves well-armed if the Philistines have taken all the blacksmiths and made us depend on them to sharpen all our weapons?

Pastor John
By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

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What Is the Standard?

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:16 KJV)

"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Pet 1:16 KJV)

“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
(1 Pet 1:16 KJV)

What is the standard of Christian perfection?

In a series titled; “Interactive Gospel” by Paul and Sue Hazelden, one section “No-one is Too Bad” contains the following statement:

The Standard is Perfection

The only moral standard which makes sense is absolute perfection. Once you say that sin – breaking the moral code – is acceptable sometimes, you have to start explaining which sins are acceptable in which situations, and justifying why this sin is acceptable, while that very similar sin is not. The question of what is acceptable becomes a subject for discussion and modification. You are left not with a moral standard but a more-or-less useful set of guidelines for living in a generally moral way.

This standard of perfection, of course, needs to cover every aspect of our lives. It is not enough to reel off a list of sins you don’t commit – the things you don’t do don’t make up for the things you do do. If the nice policeman catches you speeding down the road and pulls you over, he will not be too impressed if you say it doesn’t matter because you keep to the speed limit most of the time.

The point is this: the law is not something where you aim for a ‘pass mark’. It is no defense to tell the court you did not commit fraud 80% of the time, or 90%, or 99%. With the law, you either keep it perfectly, or you are guilty. It’s as simple as that.
So you may not commit murder – that’s good. But if you hurt people by the way you speak, you fall short of being morally perfect. Harming people – or failing to help them – because of greed, selfishness, insensitivity or ambition – that is the kind of thing the Bible means when it says we all fail to meet God’s standard of perfection.

And this standard – God’s moral standard – is not the target we are supposed to aim for. It is the minimum acceptable, the starting point. God wants us to be good, creative, loving and happy people. Not sinning is not the objective, it is simply what is required if we are not to destroy the good He wishes to build. Not sinning means not going backwards: what He wants for us is that we go forward with Him. We could meet the standard of never sinning, and still only be ‘unprofitable servants’ – not actually contributing anything positive.

“Harming people – or failing to help them – because of greed, selfishness, insensitivity or ambition – ”

The Law as given to Israel set a standard of conviction, to let us know that we all are sinners in the eyes of God. Jesus set the standard that much higher. It is now not just what we have done but, those things which we have left undone. We are to set our hearts and minds on perfection – Holiness.

(1 Th 4:3 KJV) ” For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, ….. To live, no longer for ourselves but for Him…” Then we will bear abundant and lasting fruit.”

(2 Cor 5:15 KJV)  “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

That we might live, no longer for ourselves but for others. God sent the Holy Spirit as his first gift to those who believe, so that we may complete his work on earth, and to bring us the fullness of His grace! The Holy Spirit, our creative helper, will give us many opportunities daily to express our love for needy humanity in our homes, our neighbourhoods, our places of work, our churches and the whole of God’s world.

I am a rich man I am a very rich man. Although my income places me in the bottom 20% in North American living standards, I am in the top 11% incomes in the world.

Widow's Mite

Lepton –
Widow’s mite

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
– Mark 12:41-44

Was Jesus setting a standard by drawing attention to the widow’s offering?

Compromise on Gay Issues Inevitable

Was a compromise on gay issues inevitable, even in most churches? Conservatives have not succeeded in the argument against accepting gay sex or tolerating gay marriage by mainstream culture. Canada has made the “rights” of homosexuals the official law of the land and the United States of America are doing the same, state by state, with little effective opposition. President Obama has made the Gay agenda a priority of his administration according to his inaugural address.

Barack Obama giving inaugural address

Barack Obama giving inaugural address

Excerpts:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

Many church denominations have capitulated and now endorse the legitimacy of gays and lesbians and have given full rights of membership even to ordination into the priesthood. Orthodox Biblical teaching became lost as more and more clergy were entering the church through liberalized university studies instead of scripture based seminaries.

How long will it be before all churches will be prohibited from “anti gay” teaching by law and be forced into accepting the homosexual lifestyle and practice? This could easily be done by withholding tax exemption status from churches who do not conform to government regulations. Would the laity of most churches except holding out against the monitary impositions imposed on them? I have doubts that there are enough scripturally sound church congregations.

Most larger cities hold Gay Pride days in their communities each year. These events are a source of much needed income for many businesses in proximity to the events. Many of these businesses are owned or managed by Christians who welcome the increase in sales and business. There are some holdouts but, very few. Many a professing Christian will join in the festivities for a day of fun. This could be the sign of a change in Church / State relationship. Perhaps the trend for house churches will become the norm, who knows.

The main argument for the legitimacy of homosexuals is; “I was born this way”. I won’t and can’t argue with that because it is true. It is also true for peaodophiles, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, and alcoholics just to name a few “gene” based human traits. All persons were born into sin. “But, homosexual activity is between consenting adults and therefore is not hurting anybody.” Again, by law, that is true, but morally, a sin is still a sin. A lie is still a lie whether it is a whopper or just a consoling of oneself. Homosexual practice is contrary to God’s moral standard. God loves the gay or lesbian person, he just hates the practice of homosexual behavior. God even loves the peaodophile, the alcoholic, the kleptomaniac, the pyromaniac, the sexual predator, the murderer. God even loves you, – and me, as wretched as I am.

Thank you Jesus for being the propitiation for our sins.

A concern I have is that one day a “smart” lawyer in making a name for himself will take the arguments of the gay community and use the fact that peaodophiles should warrant the same rights as homosexuals. Since peaodophiles were born that way they cannot be held accountable for their “natural” or “God given” behaviors.


Photo Credit  – familysecuritymatters.org  I do not necessarily endorse this website for all content.

Have We Failed?

This morning I received a link to “Losing Our Religion

This past week on U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) the Morning Edition journalists have explored religion and spirituality in the series Losing Our Religion. Today if we take time to listen to even a small portion of these broadcasts we may gauge our own awareness – and gratitude – for God’s presence in our lives.

As I listened to the broadcast, the following Bible verse kept coming to mind.

II Thess 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

The verse depicts a departure from faith in Christ! I am struggling with this because the falling away described in the broadcast is not a falling from Christ but a rejection of religion, not just of the Christian faith but of all religion. Perhaps it is a good thing in that the hypocritical nature and apostasy of the established religions is not being ingrained into the youth of our nation. Then there is still time and a way to reach them with the true Gospel message.

This I know to be true, if our sons and daughters are not coming to faith in Christ, we, the Church, have failed them.

I believe that one who has been born again by the Spirit of God would be so led by God to bring his children into the Faith in God. That be the case then, there must be many who are members of the church, baptized by water only and hold a false profession of faith. Their children turn from the truth through false prophets who come in Christ’s name, but are preaching a false gospel.

Matthew 24:10-13 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

It’s just a red box

It’s just a red box.

In many big cities the streets are always full of people. People coming and going, from all sorts of countries – they’re tourists, immigrants, ex-change students, business men…In such cities as these it is also common to find artists in the streets – clowns that make the passers-by laugh or musicians that attract listeners with their beautiful melodies. In the centre of Madrid, in Sol, one can also find a group of people and a red box. Read more…..

I find this story quite unique, well unique among the Christian community. Not only of this young lady willing to profess her faith in public, but that her faith grew firm in Pakistan, a country where one would expect just the opposite.

Why the Violence?

This is a time when a lot of the cooler conversation will be about violence and how to combat violence. It has been pointed out that most or all of the perpetrators of mass shootings have been on medication to control their behaviors. Probably is true, I have no way of knowing so with a grain of salt, I’ll take this as fact. Many people want to point the finger at the drugs or the misuse of the drugs as being the cause that made these shooters commit their violent acts. That I have trouble with.

Before going any further, I would like to give a link to a lady with a lot of experience with coping with troubled youth and the use of drugs to control behavior. Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane. She is a saint.

One of the on-going problems facing communities is juvenile delinquency, a form of violence. In schools, the continuing topic teachers and administrators are asked to deal with is bullying, a form of violence. Since I was attending Junior High school some 60 years ago, juvenile delinquency and bullying have been ongoing problems facing society and I am sure they have been topics of discussion for hundreds of years.

Let’s face it, we are a violent society; a society that thrives on and enjoys violence and are fascinated by, intrigued by or even enamored with acts of violence. The majority of movies we watch glorifies violence. Most video games are themed around violence. Even cartoons most often use violence as the source of humor. Violence in the news gains the most viewers even to the point where broadcasters parade before us a litany of past similar events.

Why is violence perpetuated from generation to generation. One answer comes from Proverbs 22:6; “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” There are many adages on the same theme we are all familiar with. “Monkey see, monkey do.” “Children are the best imitators ” The violence continues to persist because as parents we train our children to react to violence in the same manner as we do, tolerating, exampling and demonstrating violence in most of our daily lives.

“What! I don’t teach my children to be violent!” – Oh, Really?
Do you perpetuate the myth of Santa Claus with your children? Or the Easter Bunny? Yes? You lied to them and that could very well be the starting point of violence. Lies they are told will always remain in the recesses of our children’s minds and just may effect their conceptual understanding as they mature.
How many of us have, in frustration, said to our toddler, “Pick up your toys or you can’t have…..” Yes? That is bullying.
How many of us watch violence on TV? So we do accept violence as a way of life.
For the most part our children will live through these parental foopahs and not resort to violence to solve their frustrations but, they will, in turn, perpetuate the same behaviors.

Within our society, over half the parents still resort to spanking as punishment for misbehavior. Even in Christian circles many justify their actions by quoting the non-Biblical adage, “Spare The Rod And Spoil The Child”. The phrase is a twist on Proverbs 13:24; “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The rod is the symbol of authority and the discipline is a command to parents to have diligence to instruct. What the Bible is saying is that it is the duty of the parent to rightly train up the child.

It is this gradual accumulation of knowledge which children pick up from a very young age which has an impact on development which forms their social skills and character.

In the wake of the latest school shootings, a horrified and disgusted society is depending on respective governments to enact legislation which will curb these senseless acts of violence. President Obama hopes to develop new strategies to tighten gun laws and has asked VP Biden to head a task force on the causes of gun violence. As though it is the guns that are the cause. Perhaps some minor improvements will take place. But, until there is a positive change in the culture of society, a positive change in the way society in general nurtures our children, violence and the resulting tragedies will continue.

Culture of Violence

My sincere condolences go out to the parents of the children who were killed and the families of the teachers and the families of the surviving children who were subjected to this traumatizing development at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is impossible to make any sense of this tragedy or or any of the other school shootings that have taken place not only in the US but here in Canada as well.

In response to the Connecticut elementary school shootings, many people in both the USA and Canada will call on the politicians to enact legislation that will hopefully curb this kind of meaningless homicide  The debate will center on gun control and politicians will recite over and over the time worn rhetoric and talking points on both sides of the conversation. The news media will regurgitate all the past mass shootings as though that will in some fashion help in the debate and interview scores of experts giving their own mostly biased opinions. There-in lies the main problem, talk, bias and politics and the underlying motives of greed and self-importance.

The conversation must include the root causes of the culture of violence that permeates within our society.

Violence is the intentional use of force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or against a group or community and can be physical, verbal or neglect and discrimination, or acts of omission, and includes obvious acts of commission by the over-use and misuse of the power of office. Violence does not necessarily need to result in injury or death, but by actions and in-actions that nonetheless pose substantial burdens on individuals, families, communities and public institutions.

We can no longer ignore the fact that violence is ever increasing especially violence against women and children, the underprivileged and impoveraged. We live in a culture of violence. Violence has become by example how problems are solved and it starts at the top with our leaders, those we elected to public office. Demeaning the opposition is violence. Closed door politics is violence. Lying is a form of violence. Deceit is a form of violence. Failure to provide is a form of violence. When our elected officials resort to violence to further their own political agendas it only follows that the public perpetuate the example.

Unless our politicians of every stripe can place their personal politics aside and join together to solve the the problems facing our country, nothing meaningful will be decided. Both, in the United States of America and in Canada, our governing bodies must divorce themselves of party politics and work in unison to solve, not only these acts of violence, but, the fiscal, economic, environmental, industrial, discrimination and a host of pressing matters facing our nations. It is this political attitude, attitude of violence, of bullying, of combativeness that permeates the legislatures and hence, by their example, the cultures of the people of our nations and that, consequently, helps promote the feelings that lead to unrest, hopelessness, and uncaring behaviors. Behaviors that can lead some to the more heinous forms violence.

I am not saying that these acts of violence are the direct fault of politicians, but they are not helping, they are not acting as leaders. Our leaders need to lead. Our elected members need to show that they actually care about the country and bring an end to the politics of greed and self-importance, self-interest. As long as there is unemployment, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as there are working poor, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as there are children who are disadvantaged by education, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as people are not receiving the medical assistance they require, politicians are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as there is homelessness, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. As long as politicians give more ear to lobby groups over their constituents, they are not doing the job they were elected to do.

And it all stems from greed and self importance. There is only so much resource in this country from which to do what is required. The resource belongs to the Nation as a whole and as a whole the nation must benefit fairly. If corporations must take less profit, so be it. If unions must pull back their wage and benefits  so be it. If the rich need to pay more tax, then pay more tax. If the unemployed need take a less paying job – do so. The only way to security as a nation is to set aside the political bias of greed and egos and work together to reach the truth of being beneficial for all not just cater to a particular voting group. It is not a matter of reaching compromise, it is a matter of arriving at and enacting to the truth.

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