Romans 8

I am not a person to leave up for discussion.  I often state my facts and leave it be.  Truth and logic are important.  I believe it may be my competitive nature.  As a reflect on my previous memorization’s of Romans 8 this past semester, would it of been better to memorize or thoroughly study it?  As I read through the passage for the final review of the passage, I truly read through it.  Too often we become so influenced by getting a good grade that we overlook what we are memorizing.  I believe the upcoming seniors should petition and truly study theologically the doctrine of Romans 8 rather then tediously stressing out over memorizing, or should I say mesmerizing?

The Forgotten Command

“Honor your father and mother”  We probably hear this all the time.  If you don’t know it is one of the ten commandments that God gave Moses to give to the people of Israel.  I don’t know about you but my parents throw this in my face all the time.  Everytime I say something out of line or don’t listen to them I get this verse pounded at me.  As much as I hate hearing it all the time it is something I seriously need to listen to.  God commands us to honor our parents and one of the rewards God says he will give us is a long life.  As I get older this command gets harder and harder to follow.  I sometimes think that I own the world and am the boss of myself, but my parents have been around the block so they know what is better for me than I would.  This is one of my biggest struggles and I always am praying that God will help me in this much needed area of my life. 

Moving Up

As the last days of school begin to come over many of us many thoughts have come into my head.  All of the authors on this blog go to a Christian school so I came to think how many of the seniors are not going to go to a Christian college.  Many are going to secular colleges and that got me to thinking.  Without having a Bible class or chapel once a week how many seniors are going to find themselves drifting away from the things of God?  The reality is I think that many are going to.  This is really frightening and I hope I’m wrong, but without the push from our parents and our school it will be very hard to not endulge in the pleasures of the world.  I think that it is important to get someone to hold you accountable NOW.  Find someone that you will still keep in contact with to help pray, and encourage you as you go about your days in college.  Most of all, stay involved in a church and pray to God to give you the strength to always seek Him and honor Him in all you do. 

Look to God, not yourself

These past weeks have been crazy in school. It seems like all I have been doing lately is schoolwork.  I have been very focused on getting everything done, and have been full of stress the entire time. But now, as I look back on it, I realize that I could have had a much easier time. I realize now, that I had been looking to myself  to get things done. If I would have just given God my worries, it would have been alot less stressful, and my last weeks of high school would have been more enjoyable. I find that I do not look to God enough, even though He is always there for me, waiting for me to come to Him with my worries.  I know now that I need to turn to God more in my time of struggles, because if I look to myself, nothing will get accomplished.

Be Bold

As I have been working on my Bible paper that deals with different religions I have been realizing how I do not witness to people as often as I should. In my Bible paper I was assigned the section on two keys to witnessing to my specific religion, Buddhism. Going through the ways to witness to a Buddhist, I realized how I don’t even witness to my friends and family around me who are not Christians. I am too scared. Scared that they won’t like me or get offended or not talk to me anymore. Scared that I won’t know how to explain it clearly enough, Scared that I won’t know the answers to their questions. I try to live a life that would show that I am a Christian, but that is not enough. I need to become bold and be able to talk to people, especially my friends and family, about the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Christianity and Dialogue? You tell me.

A couple evenings ago I was catching up on the news via Yahoo! News while trying to watch my usual Grey’s Anatomy. After the usual intense closing shots of the characters in distress I reopened by Apple and started reading a very interesting article about Christians and atheists communicating calmly. Yea thats right, calmly. The article addressed a growing trend of open dialogues between Christians and atheists over the internet and in person. Live discussions and conferences are sprouting up around the country calling for atheists to speak up about what they feel Christians are doing wrong or right. Church leaders like Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering, located in Salem, Mass. are inviting atheists to voice their opinion on why they don’t like church. Many pastors like Jim Henderson, a former Evangelical pastor form Seattle, are setting out to learn how the unchurched respond to various kinds of worship services.

Oddly enough, I have been working with my youth pastor on organizing a community wide program that would work with other churches on striking up this open dialogue between atheists and Christians. Instead of holding youth groups inside church walls, where people must come to us, we instead meet them where they are, their communities. Parks, parking lots, malls, whatever we can manage to get, we will go and talk. Simply share the gospel and actively engage with nonbelievers. Along with talking I wanted to just serve. To get out in the community and make it better. Plant, paint, fixing peoples yards, fix anything, meet the needs of the community. My hope is that many churches will join the campaign and come together as one and work together on correcting our communities “ideas” about Christianity. So many people think churches hate each other, or that Christians don’t care about the environment, and the list goes on of generalized myths. By being a presence in the community serving and talking I want our dialogue to pin point these myths and straighten them out so that people see who we represent, Christ.

So now that you know that this whole idea has been on my mind alot lately, I’m going to tie it back into the article. Doing a little investigation I found that most of these groups are affiliated with a movement entitled “the emerging church.” This movement carries along with it a heavy reliance on postmodern beliefs. It seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods to fit in the postmodern mold. One of the biggest ideas that this movement pushes is dialogue because it leaves room for a “natural progress” of doctrine as they might call it. Emergents see theology as an “icon” pointing to God rather than as a definition of God. By this they mean that they do not see any doctrinal expositions as definitive. The whole idea is very dangerous and could cause a huge avalanche.
But I think open dialogue, especially including people of other faiths is very beneficial to learning and discovering truth. But by no means do I think that truth is based in the interpretation and experiences of man. Truth does not hinge on a communities experience but only on the word of God. Yes culture has changed and it is far different from that of the Biblical times, but the truth has not. The metaphors may not make total sense at first glance like they may have in centuries past, but that is what dialogue is for. To pick apart the truth weaved into the analogies and to make it more clear. If used properly I think dialogue can strengthen peoples beliefs in the truths of scripture rather than tear it down and rebuild it. Its the motive of dialogue that I think truly matters, to either use it to make truth or to understand truth is what must be decided.
Now I want your opinion, can this work? Do you think this community project will help Christians better understand how to reach nonbelievers and help nonbelievers understand Christ through dialogue?

Our world screams, “Paradox!!!”

Just a couple interesting thoughts for you. Someone sent me the following quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of people that these liberties are a gift of God?”

Consider then, this man, who obviously had some affiliation with religion and God, proposing the “Wall of Separation”, aka separation of church and state. Why would a man who said the previous quote propose such a thing, unless he obviously had the safety of religion (as well as government) in mind? Now this is not a direction I originally pondered, but track with me on this. Some people propose that separation of church and state was not to protect government from religion, but religion from government. It is ironic to me that such a wall of separation would be so paradoxical, because in commanding that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” (First Amendment), Congress just does that. It respects the establishment of religion. In realizing that religion must be protected from government, our Forefathers forged within the bill of rights a wall that cannot be torn down. Religion in our country is free. You are free to believe what you like. And that is good. Free will is good, and freedom of choice is an inherent right that has been given to us. (Now what you do with that choice is another matter) So, I believe that the Founders  did include religion into the creation of our government. Because of their own personal religious beliefs and mindsets, and because they did not want government to tamper with faith, they created a wall to protect the freedom of belief, paradoxically by prohibiting government from making laws that respect religion (go figure). And in that act, they disprove that religion was not included in the creation of government. Purely by prohibiting overtly religious laws, one can argue that religion took a part in the creation of our government, even if only in a negation aspect.

Now, obviously, I don’t think that such a wall is impossible to bypass. Whether one chooses to acknowledge the fact or not, people carry their religion with them wherever they go. To say that the First Amendment nullifies religion within government is poppycock. But to say that the 1st Amendment nullifies government within religion is not. Government is not allowed to interfere with religion, but religion is allowed to interfere government. But then again, I define religion as a system of beliefs, not something that requires a holy book or a deity. Just something you believe that moves you to act a certain way. So principles like secularism or atheism I consider to be religion of sorts. And I consider such principles, as well as Christian ones, to influence politicians and politics. That’s just my two cents. Your thoughts?

Sources: Justin, Bill Van Workum, Wikipedia, and Cornell University