Archive for January 25th, 2008

Its time to judge some fruit.

XXX Church
Financed and produced accountability software, which they offer for free.

Was way out front in warning about how much porn addiction there is in the church.

Was way out front in sounding the alarm about the damage porn does both to the church and to society.

Buys space at porn trade shows in order to bring the gospel to where porn stars and producers are.

Has supported spiritually and financially porn stars trying to leave the business.

Way of the Master
As far as I can tell mostly just complains about other Christians. Seriously, can you find an actual example of them actually doing something? Google shows me nothing.

I’ll let you judge which of these ministries is carrying out the gospel.

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“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit….Now the body is not made up of one part but of many…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

And in the church,

God has appointed:

  • first of all apostles. Are all apostles?
  • second prophets.
    • Are all prophets?
    • If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
  • third teachers. Are all teachers?
  • then workers of miracles. Do all work miracles?
  • also those having gifts of healing. Do all have gifts of healing?
  • those able to help others. But If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
  • those with gifts of administration.
  • those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Now picture our Jesus, our Savior:”Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. Jesus is not rude, Jesus is not self-seeking, Jesus is not easily angered, Jesus keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil, but He rejoices with the truth. Jesus always protects, Jesus always trusts, Jesus always hopes, Jesus always perseveres. Jesus never fails.” (From Max Lucado’s A Love Worth Giving)
Now…can any of us – comfortably – do this:

Zan is patient (wow, no!)
Zan is kind (not always)
Zan does not envy (yes, she does…often!)
Zan does not boast (actually truer…I think)
Zan is not proud (big lie!)
Zan is not rude (Unless you drive like an idiot.)
Zan is not self-seeking (I’m part of the “me-first” generation. What do you think?)
Zan is not easily angered (again…”short-fuse” for a middle name?)
Zan keeps no record of wrongs (elephant, anyone?)
Zan does not delight in evil (”Did you hear about ______?”)
Zan rejoices with the truth (Sometimes)
Zan always protects (herself)
Zan always trusts (human logic instead of God)
Zan always hopes (president-elect of the pessimist’s club)
Zan always perseveres (Queen of “it’s tooo haaaard!” and “what if I fail?”)
Zan never fails. (ALWAYS!)

Can we have a collective “Ouch”? I have been faced with a small glimpse of the darkness in my heart that I long to give wholly to God. I pray God continues to shine His cleansing light into the dark recesses of my life. It will not be pretty. It will almost always hurt. But one day I will stand before Him, and I want Him to call me good and faithful. I want Him to say, “I know that hurt. I know it was so hard. You proved your love to me by dying to yourself.” In the end, it won’t be about how many times I was on the right side of a debate or the stray Christians that I put back on the straight-and-narrow. It won’t be about what I did for a living or what church I belonged to. It won’t even be about the number of people I told about Jesus. No, in the end, the bottom line, is how I well I became the embodiment of Love, Jesus-style, in the dailiness of this adventure we call life. My epitaph someday…”She loved, Jesus-style.”

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Darth Dawggie…that this is rather sad… Granted it has been done before, down under, but you have to wonder how something like this happens (apart from the sinful nature of man).

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Tile floors recovered in CapernaumWhile I’m not sure what exactly has stirred it, there has been some discussion recently on whether or not Jesus was a “Rabbi”. Part of this discussion stems from, as Brad Young often notes, the modern protestant focus on faith in Jesus far and above the faith of Jesus. We like to say that we believe that Jesus was both God and man, but we tend to ignore or marginalize his humanity.

Forces outside the church, which only want to focus on his humanity, as a “good teacher”, do the opposite.

In response to these voices of the world, many churches have just pushed the pendulum even further out, becoming passive-aggressive (if not overtly hostile) when faced with Jesus’ humanity. But here’s the thing: if we truly are seeking to be disciples of Jesus, both his “God” aspects and his “human” aspects must be a focus of our walk with him.

In this series, I will be focusing on Jesus’ human aspect as a ‘rabbi’ – examining what exactly is meant by this term, how it applies and does not apply to Jesus, and how it applies to us. In choosing this focus, I am not seeking to raise it above his role as Savior, but merely to explore it and its relevance to us, today.

What is a Rabbi?

The word ‘rabbi’ (or ravi) means ‘respected teacher’, when roughly translated to English, but it is a rich, Hebrew concept that means much more (that we will continue to explore). In the modern parlance, a Rabbi is seen as the leader of a Jewish synagogue, but in the first century, ‘rabbi’ was a considerably different concept. Prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., this title meant something much different.

After the Maccabean Revolt in the second century B.C., a large number (more than 100,000) diaspora Jews from Babylon returned, en masse, over a short period of time back to the land of Israel, because it was now free of its enslavement by the Greeks. Because the land in Judea was largely settled, they chose the less favorable land around the Sea of Galilee and the Jezreel valley in which to settle.

These people were often called the hasidim (lit. ‘the pious ones’), because of their exceeding fervor for worshipping God and for keeping all of the Hebrew Scriptures (which we call the “Old Testament”). In contrast, the Jews living in Judea were much more secular and ceremonial – keeping only the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and maintaining the priesthood and Temple rites.

The hasidim brought with them the tradition of synagogue – a meeting place where all the gatherings of community life happened: studying scripture, weddings, debates, festivals, and worship. Among the hasidim, there were a number of teachers, who were responsible for teaching the scriptures to the people, primarily the children – most of whom would have the entire Torah memorized by the age of 12 (which is still the case in many hasidic communities in Israel).

Every person in Israel is obligated to be engaged in Torah learning, whether one is poor or wealthy, whether one is whole in body or afflicted with suffering, whether one is young or one is old and feeble, even a poor person who is supported by charity and goes from door to door seeking benevolence, even the man supporting his wife and children – everyone is required to find a set time during the day and night to study Torah, as it was said “you shall go over it, again and again, day and night” (Joshua 1:8) – Moses Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, Hilkot Talmud Torah 1:8

These rabbis were not religious leaders or the keepers of the synagogue. Rather, they were seen as exactly what their name implied – a ‘respected teacher’.

Among these scholars were a VERY small subset, who were seen as having s’mikah (authority). This s’mikah allowed them to make new interpretations on how to live out Torah. (It is important to note that even they could not change Torah, but that their interpretation was on how to view it correctly so as to know how to live and act correctly, so as to please God). Among these rabbis with s’mikah, prior to the first century A.D., we know several names, with Honi and Hillel (the grandfather of Paul’s rabbi, Gamaliel – who was quite famous, in his own right) as the most prominent in this timeframe. (These s’mikah rabbis are often denoted by scholars as “sages”, whereas scripture refers to the rabbis without s’mikah as Torah Teachers (Teachers of the Law).)

These s’mikah rabbis were also unique, because they lived a more itinerate lifestyle and took on followers – called talmidim (disciples) – who lived with them most of time, though they would be sent out on their own later in their learning. The rabbis had a yoke, their method of interpreting scripture, in which they would order the commandments of Torah from greatest to least. The talmidim of a rabbi would be expected to live by that yoke and to memorize the key teachings of that rabbi. Living with their rabbi, these talmidim would also learn to live in the same manner – with their greatest desire to be to learn to follow God just like their rabbi. In all of this, the talmidim were also in complete submission to the authority of their rabbi.

After the fall of Jerusalem, the word “rabbi” took on a new meaning, which gradually became what we know it today. In the absence of the Temple, more communities moved to synagogues (with those built post-70 A.D. facing Jerusalem, in deference to the Temple) and most rabbis – particularly the Torah teachers – as the leaders of these religious communities. For a time, the tradition of sages continued, with Akiva probably being the most famous, with many considering him to be the father of modern Rabbinic Judiasm.

So, in summation, the question “Was Jesus a Rabbi” is somewhat of a loaded question, because of the variety of meanings of the word, though I think the answer is ‘yes’, if you understand what it meant during his ministry, rather than what “Rabbi” means in the 21st century.

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There are at least 24 articles on the Puritans at CRN. I am not questioning whether these men or women were Christians, I’m just wondering why anyone would want to go back to that time. Sure, their doctrine was pure but their laws were brutal.

Like here:

Here the civil law laid its hand upon the citizen in his business and social relations; it regulated his religious affairs, it dictated his dress, and even invaded the home circle and directed his family relations. One law forbade the wearing of lace, another of “slashed cloaths other than one slash in each sleeve and another in the back.” The length and width of a lady’s sleeve was solemnly decided by law. It was a penal offense for a man to wear long hair, or to smoke in the street, or for a youth to court a maid without the consent of her parents. A man was not permitted to kiss his wife in public. Captain Kimble, returning from a three-years’ ocean voyage, kissed his wife on his own doorstep and spent two hours in the stocks for his “lewed and unseemly behavior.”

The Puritan conscience was painfully overwrought. Nathan Mather wrote that in his youth he went astray from God and did dreadful things, such as whittling behind the door on Sunday. Sometimes a child would weep and wail in the fear that it was not one of the elect and would go to hell.

Or here:

Puritans in Massachusetts set up a religious police state in which deviation from their religion could result in flogging, pillorying, hanging, banishment, having one’s ears cut off, or having one’s tongue bored through with a hot iron. Four Quakers were hanged in Boston after repeated whippings and banishments failed to drive them away.

Massachusetts Puritans also had a law, based on Leviticus 20:9 from the Old Testament, that a child who curses his or her parent shall be put to death. Calvin would have approved, for his government used the same verse to justify beheading a small boy in Geneva for striking his father.

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CRN recently posted an article entitled “ABC Has One Standard for Homosexuals and a Different Standard for Christians.” In the article, the author informs us that when actor Isaiah Washington made an anti-homosexual slur, he was fired. However, when Dana Jacobson made an anti-Christian remark, he was simply given a one-week vacation. As expected, they are calling for a Christian boycott of Jacobson’s show for his remarks.

There does seem to be a double standard. But I don’ think ABC is the only one that has one. I have one question for the editor at CRN and the American Family Association. Where was the outrage when Isaiah Washington, a self-professing Christian, made such hateful remarks against a group of people? Why did the Christian community not cry out in outrage when someone of our own camp made hateful and ignorant remarks? Or, are we to remain quiet when one of our own makes inappropriate remarks about those we disagree with, but boycott at the first sight of inappropriate remarks against us? Looks like double standards are definately in season this year. Either that, or we are fresh out of mercy and love these days.

**UPDATED**

It looks like the ODMs have decided to once again act like — well, ODMs. Chris Pajak writes this

I have to say that the author of this post at CRN.(pc)info. may have a point. In fact he could have taken his argument even further. I mean, where was the outcry when Moses wrote this hateful passage? Or where was the righteous indignation when Paul composed his screed in Romans 1? The church hasn’t come very far in the past 2000 years, wouldn’t you say?

So let me get this straight. This ODM equates God forbidding homosexuality in the scriptures with Isaiah Washington saying “I’m not your little faggot like [your partner]” to his co-star and slamming him up against the wall. This is very telling of the way the ODMs view homosexuals. They basically see the scriptures as a free pass to fling hurtful insults and dehumanize anyone who lives an unscriptural life. Why show love when there is so much righteous hate to go around? Looks like this ODM fits in more and more with Christians like this.  You see, we have no problem with homosexuality being a sin.  We have a problem with not loving those who Jesus loves.

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