Archive for July, 2009

Check your wallet!Well, I can say that I definitely made a mistake trying to break up my thoughts on health care into multiple posts, rather than one big one.  In Part 1, I laid out what I believe to be a Christian view on where provision of health care belongs, and on the role of government, as seen in Scripture.

In short, the basic principle is this – It is the job of Christians and the church to help bring healing to the world.  It is the job of the government to provide for the common defense, a system of justice and rules for civil order.  We have reached the current crossroads because both have failed in their mission to this point.

Now, the question at hand, though, because of current events, is what should the government do about health care.  Some have taken the previous article as an argument for the status quo, which it was not.  It was simply a statement of my belief that Christians should not be content with the government taking a role that should belong to them and to the church.  It was also a warning that such a move of government, outside of its Sciprutal boundaries, is a move toward entitlement and further enslavement of its people.

What this is and is not

Now, though, I would like to outline some ideas – things that the government can do that are within its boundaries – that would help fix the current system.  This is not to say that I do not think the church should be actively involved in helping to fix the problem by filling the current void.  I think that the creation of hospitals, clinics and other provision of care should be at the forefront of the church’s mind, not just the “spiritual” well-being of the people.  This compartmentalization (of the spiritual from the physical) is a disaster, aided and abetted by the fundamentalist tradition of the past 100 years.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I started reading N.T. Wright’s new book, Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision, today.  I have been looking forward to reading this book ever since I heard it was coming out, and in fact I was almost giddy to start it.  I hope to offer a full review of it once I am finished.  But as I read the introduction, I came across this paragraph, and I think it is very applicable to what goes on here.

Test this out.  Go to the blogsites, if you dare.  It really is high time we developed a Christian ethic of blogging.  Bad temper is bad temper even in the apparent privacy of your own hard drive, and harsh and unjust words, when released into the wild, rampage around and do real damage.  And as for the practice of saying mean and untrue thing while hiding behind a pseudonym – well if I get a letter like that it goes straight in the bin.  But the cyberspace equivalents of road rage don’t happen by accident.  People who type, vicious, angry, slanderous and inaccurate accusations do so because they feel their worldview to be under attack.  Yes, I have a pastoral concern for such people.  (And, for that matter, a pastoral concern for anyone who spends more than a few minutes a day taking part in blogsite discussions, especially when they all use code names:  was it for this that the creator God made human beings?)  But sometimes worldviews have to be shaken.  They may become idolatrous and self-serving.  And I fear that that has happened, and continues to happen, even in well-regulated, shiny Christian contexts – including, of course, my own.  John Piper** writes, he tells us, as a pastor. So do I.

**Wright’s book is largely in response to John Piper’s book, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright

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The Asclepieion at PergamumIn the city of Pergamum, the governing center of Asia Minor, when the Apostle John arrived on the scene in the decades after Paul and Timothy’s work there, he found cities that were intensely religious, though not at all predominantly Christian.

The people in this city worshiped many gods, of whom the predominant ones were:

Dionysus – the son of Zeus and the god of wine and orgy, and patron god of theater. His shrine provided free wine and meat to those who came to worship him there, and he was said to provide life for all, even after death. It was also believed that, during secret rituals, he converted water into wine to give to the people.

Asclepius – The god of healing and medicine. His temple complex – the asclepieion, was, as Dr. Tim Brown puts it, “the Mayo Clinic of the ancient world”. The sick and infirm could come to worship at the asclepieion and receive free healing and medical care.

Demeter – The goddess of grain and fertility. Worshipers at her temple could have their sins forgiven by sacrificing bulls and bathing in their blood. Additionally, they could receive free bread and clean water from her temple.

ConcernAnd then, above all of these gods was Caesar – the “king of all kings and the lord of all lords” in Rome (as Domitian demanded he be called). Pergamum was the first city to deify the Caesars, beginning with Caesar Augustus. At the top of the hill on which Pergamum sits was the temple of Caesar, who provided for all of the gods, and to whom homage must be paid in order to receive the blessings of the gods – wine, food, water, health, and basic welfare (through other minor gods like Hestia, Cybele, etc.).

It is no wonder, then, that the Apostle John chose to emphasize certain miracles of Jesus to provide counterpoint of Jesus’ lordship, with the first three sets of miracles mentioned being 1) turning water to wine (Jesus is Lord and provider of eternal life, not Dionysus); 2) Jesus healing the official’s son and the man at the pool of Bethesda (Jesus is Lord and provider of healing, not Asclepius); and 3) Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Jesus is Lord and provider of our bread, not Demeter).

In short – it is Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who is the provider of all, and not the gods and governments of this world.

The Nicolaitans

In John’s book of Revelation, he twice condemns a group of people called Nicolaitans, who appear to hold to a form of antinomianism, believing that because God had fulfilled the law with Christ, they could be free to live as they wished, and that they could partake in the different forms of temple worship and have their needs met, because they knew that the “gods” of these temples did not really exist.

In Ephesus, it is believed that the Nicolaitans were able to escape persecution under Nero and, later, Domitian, by burning incense to Caesar and accepting his “mark” on their goods and their person. This allowed them to freely buy and sell in the marketplace (agora), to hold public office, and to avoid the punishments of Rome for not worshiping Caesar (see Rev 13:16-17).

So What?

An offer you can't refuseBy now, some of you are probably thinking something along the lines of “Thanks for the history lesson, Chris, but what does this have to do with a ‘Christian’ position on health care?” Others likely see where I’m going with this:

As Christians, we should all be concerned with the gods of this world – particularly the government – taking over the responsibility for the expanded provision of the needs and desires of its people.

I would underscore this by noting that when we forget who our provision comes from – from God, alone – and see it as the product of our own work, our employer or our government, we become idolaters. However, I see the warnings from John to the early Christians as two-fold – don’t seek to have your needs met by the passive gods of the world, but also beware of what will happen when an active, intrusive one steps in to take over.

This is not to say that we should be in favor of maintaining the status quo, or in turning away the poor from life-saving medical treatment. Rather, we should be looking for ways to make such government take-overs unnecessary.

All Things in Common

A few weeks ago, Rob Bell and Ed Dobson taught at Mars Hill Bible Church on the early church in Acts 2:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

They noted that this was a free, loving choice on the parts of the believers, and not something done out of guilt or coercion. Supporting coercive government systems (socialism, communism), they noted, are not the way of following the early church. Subscribing to a “survival of the fittest” or a laissez-faire mindset is not the answer, either. Rather, it comes down to those who have been blessed with abundance to share out of love and those who have been blessed with scarcity to receive out of love (as Peter did, when he allowed Jesus to wash his feet).

DomitianA government-managed system of provision, though, circumvents both ends of this equation – coercing those who have (under threat of law) to provide for those who do not (by the government’s definition) under the guise of “dignity” (i.e. they can thank the government for their provision, not individuals or organizations).

The way of Jesus is for the church to see a need and to be enthusiastic about trying to fill it – not out of coercion or guilt – but freely, out of love.

The problem with depending on the government, though, is that every time the government decides to encroach in an area of “benevolence”, the church sees no need and then retreats. This has happened historically, and is particularly evident in the American experiment of the past 233 years or so. Whether it is education, health, welfare, or the homeless, when Christians have acceded these areas of service to the government, the church has retreated and become further irrelevant.

It is no mistake that fundamentalism arose in parallel with this abdication, as focus on the temporal needs of the masses withered and the focus on the eternal became all-encompassing. It is also no mistake that the predominance of the emerging/emergent 180-degree “flipping” of focus from eternal to temporal will exacerbate the problem just as easily.

From where does my help come? If, slowly, as it has been doing, the Caesar of today becomes the all-giving provider of needs, how quickly will worship of this Caesar become the predominant “religion” of the land – or has it already happened – on both ends of the political spectrum?

If there are members of our churches – brothers and sisters – who must take government assistance because they are not receiving it from the church, it is a crime we in the churches are committing via our lack of love. If these members won’t take the assistance from the church, but prefer the “dignity” of the state, it is a matter of the sin of pride. If our churches exist in communities where people are unable to get the care they need, the provision of the government is an indictment of the faithlessness of those churches.

Why should Caesar coerce and redistribute what the church was designed to give out of love?

The Nicolaitans, Take II

Once the trough opensNow, just as there were Nicolaitans in the first century, there are sure to be some today who would note that the state is a lifeless entity which need not be feared/revered, but only appeased so that it might be used for humanitarian purposes. Where the line is crossed, though, I believe, is similar to the point at which the temple of Demeter became an instrument of Caesar (or more accurately, where the Church became an instrument of Constantine) – where benevolence becomes compulsory and acceptance of the “dignity” granted by the nanny state is mandatory.

Which is what is, inherently, what is being proposed by the US House of Representatives and committee bills in the US Senate. While there is a good deal of smoke-and-mirrors involved in the plans, the long-term trajectory of these plans is a single-payer system in which the health of the citizenry is beholden to Caesar, and 97% of the people have to accept his mark (noting that I’m speaking from a partial-preterist position, not a dispensationalist one…) or go without.

Will we be selling a little bit of our souls to the state by accepting their mandatory hand-out? Will we just be good little Nicolaitans, crossing our fingers and rationalizing that God is providing to us through the faceless entity of Caesar, while our churches fade into further irrelevance?

Or will we be willing accomplices of the state, cheering it on with homilies like “My hope is that the Church will rise up and speak for the least of these who cannot speak for themselves” while supporting its takeover of the church’s mission? Or will we try and shame the Church into selling out to the beast by saying “my hope is that the Church, despite the prospect of having to make sacrifices, some even costly in more ways than one, will stand up and say, ‘This is the way of Jesus’?” Or might we just try and work the coercive shame on individual Christians, making this into an issue of “selfishness” by telling them “I would like to see less of Christians demanding their ‘rights’ and more of demanding justice for all,” as if this were actually an issue of justice, rather than one of mercy and kindness.

Summing it Up

Standing up to CaesarThe bottom line – the government is not a friend of the church or of the people. Its purpose, according to Scripture, is to provide a judicial system, common defense, and societal order. Its mission is completely different than that of the church, and its lifetime is limited.

No matter how much we, like Jesus’ disciples, want the kingdom of God to be a literal, physical, political power on earth, that is not what Jesus came to create. When we abdicate the purpose of the kingdom and hand it over to the kosmos, we are no longer advocates for the kingdom. When we try to make the kosmos the tool of the kingdom – whether from the right or from the left – we are destined to fail. Spectacularly.

In my view, and in light of the roles given to the church in Scripture, I would say that it is no more the place of government to take over the health care system than it is for the church to take over the national defense. That it is even being contemplated is an indictment against the Church and a potentially disastrous overreaching on the part of the state.

Here’s to hoping that sanity will prevail.  Government can play a role within its biblical mandate – particularly within the realm of the justice system and in maintaining order – in ‘fixing’ what is currently broken in the US health care system.  Making health care a “right”, provided by the state, is beyond its mandate, though, and the church should not be its water-carrier.

[A couple of programming notes - 1) I have briefly ended my self-moratorium on political news/discussion, insofar as it concerns health care issues, as I do have some expertise and interest in this area that could be useful for the discussion; 2) I don't plan on expanding it to other areas of politics; 3) While this article fits the demographic of CRN.Info, I may not cross-post later articles which do not deal with issues of the intersection of Christianity and the health care debate.]

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I’ll confess I go to ??N now and again to see the stuff they write. Sometimes, I laugh, sometimes I cry and sometimes I agree. Recently though, there were two posts that I just don’t get what the point is. Here’s the first one (which is put in the category of “seeker sensitive):

The Title says, “God Planned Sin

So says NewSpring “pastor” Brad “BCoop” Cooper:

SIN didnt sneak up on GOD… HE HAD PLANNED IT ALL ALONG…

Um, is the ubiquitous editor trying to stay that sin did sneak up on God? Would that make said editor an open theist? When can we expect our favorite pirate to take this anonymous editor to task?

Then the second one, which is another head-scratcher. It says:

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Oklahoma. To get to where we are going each way we must drive over part of I-35 that goes through a town in Oklahoma called Guthrie. On the East side of the road, as we drove past this city, is a church very close to the highway. Someone at this church has erected a very large sign that says in bold letters, “I LOVE THIS CHURCH!” This really puzzled me and caused me to think of what the intent could be in the erecting this sign. As I thought through all of the possibilities, the only one that seemed to make sense was that someone wants to draw people to this church BECAUSE he, she, or they love it. In other words, this is an attempt to market this church using the ploy that since they love it, others will be sure to “come and try it.”

Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the travel update and I’m super exited to know there’s a town called Guthrie on I-35 but have you really come to the place where someone loving their church is something to deride? Of course, this brings up a whole host of new questions:

1. Does Mike Ratliff’s church use any signs at all?  (Isn’t that marketing?)

2. Does Mike Ratliff’s church use the phonebook? (Isn’t that marketing?)

3. (The most important one so I’m gonna cap it) WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

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Let’s play a game, shall we? Here’s how it works. I will quote to you the first three paragraphs of a popular book. You have to guess which book it is from. In part two, I will quote from a blog. You have to guess what the ‘admin’ is talking about. Here goes.

It’s not about you.

The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.

The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point–ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future? But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose. The Bible says, “It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyones life is in his power.”

That sounds to me like a fairly orthodox position to hold. I could probably find Scriptural support for every clause if I needed to. In fact, some of this might be a wee-bit too orthodox. Nevertheless, it will preach, it is Christian, it is Biblical, and it comes from the mouth of one ordained to preach the Gospel of Christ.

OK. On to part two.

Megachurch Pastor Rick Warren is working on his next book – the follow-up to the bestselling Purpose Driven Life, which launched the Southern California preacher into national prominence.

“I’m in book writing mode right now,” Warren reported in a broadcast to his church members Thursday. “I’ve gone back into hibernation to write the follow up to Purpose Driven Life now, eight years later. It’s going to be called The Hope of the World, and my plan is to release that on Easter Sunday – our 30th anniversary – next year.”

Warren had announced during the 2009 Purpose Driven Network Summit in May that he was going to take some time off soon to work on his next book, which will be about the Church and its role in today’s times.

On Thursday, the evangelical leader asked church members to pray for him as he’s writing. “[P]ray … that God’s Spirit will guide me in writing this next book just as He did with Purpose Driven Life so that it can change hundreds, thousands, and even more than of lives all around the world,” he said.

What God would that be; based upon all the Scripture-twisting and false doctrine within PDL, it isn’t likely it was the God of the Bible Who “guided” Warren. [This ends the second quote. It is not part of the CP article, but is a commentary by 'admin' on the CP article.--Jerry]

_____________________________

All I have ever heard from some in the priesthood is that the Gospel of many preachers in this world, in the ‘modern’ church, is too self-centered, too me focused, too anything but the one true orthodox faith once delivered by the three John’s (Calvin, MacArthur, Piper).

So here we have a preacher who begins his book about what life, according to Scripture, means with a clear statement that we are too self-centered, too me-focused, too anything but God focused and the best ‘admin’ can conclude is that he’s wrong? He hasn’t even published the book yet, and he’s already not listening to the ‘God of the Bible’? Here’s a man who, according to the CP article:

All net proceeds of The Purpose of Christmas have gone to benefit Warren’s PEACE Plan – a global initiative created to mobilize millions of Christians in the fight against the five global “giants” of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education.

And all the ‘admin’ can say is that this is ’sad’, that the author is ‘not listening to the God of the Bible’?

Here’s a man who, according to the CP article says:

“[P]ray … that God’s Spirit will guide me in writing this next book just as He did with Purpose Driven Life so that it can change hundreds, thousands, and even more than of lives all around the world,” he said.

And he’s not listening to the guidance of the God of the Bible?

I have nothing else to say. The levels of hatred, the uncanny inability to think or reason, or come up with a valid criticism, is staggering to say the least.

He hasn’t even published so much as a sample chapter and he’s already a heretic?

Are you kidding me? Surely you, ‘admin’, jest because you surely have no case here. There must be some other motive for you to write what you wrote ‘admin.’

Surely.

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Been reading this book by Anne Lamott called Grace (Eventually). Been rough lately around here in my world. This quote gave me some courage.

In a fairy tale, you often have to leave the place where you have grown comfortable and travel to a fearful place full of pain, and search for what was stolen or confront the occupying villain; it takes time for the resulting changes to integrate themselves into the small, funky movements that make up our lives. (145)

I hope you all have a blessed day.

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Scare TacticsMaybe I’m just unlucky, but I don’t think so.

…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to…

I remember getting my first email account, almost two decades ago.  We didn’t even call it ‘email’ – it was just an app on the VAX that passed messages back and forth between us engineering students.  It wasn’t until a few years later that some of the usenet discussion groups I replied to got me added to some spammer lists.

Spam sucked (and still sucks, though we have much better tools to deal with it now).  But one variety of ’spam’ sprung up soon after I got my first home email account – the ‘email-forwards’ (EFs).

I don’t even remember who the first person was that hit me up, but I recall that it was about a kid with cancer who was trying to set a world record for get-well cards received.  And, like the first drop of rain believing it was not responsible for the flood, this note was just the beginning of a deluge.

Break the Chain

Science News CycleGrowing up, I remembered my Mom throwing away several chain letters that came to me from friends (in this thing we had called a “mailbox” that was made out of steel, wood and nails, not just electrons), and explaining to me why not to get sucked into these things. (See – I really was listening, Mom!)  That advice would prove invaluable as the tidal wave of EFs began to arrive.

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(Ever notice that EFs, and the people that send them, tend to not recognize that USING ALL-CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING IN A LIBRARY?!?!?!?)  So, if I don’t forward this, does it mean that I don’t love Jesus – OR does it mean that I love both God and my neighbor, because I have spared God the misuse of His name, and my neighbor the misuse of his mailbox (the kind made of electrons and hopefully no nails)?

Now, while most of theses EFs were just annoyances, many of them contained information so erroneous that there were occasions I just couldn’t help myself from hitting “reply all” (no need to just reply – sometimes crap needs to be stopped dead in its tracks, kind of like the whacked-out doctrine of Universal Reconciliation) and sending a reply with a link to (the then pretty new) snopes.com, with an appropriate link debunking the Urban Legend/Fake Virus Warning/Misled Heretic Warning sent in some EF’s.

After a while, the EFs became fairly politically-minded, as well – whether it was a 10-meg PowerPoint with the star-spangled banner playing behind a bunch of photos of eagles, mountains and skyscrapers, or a moonbat theory about Bush being the cause of 9/11.  Ideology seemed independent of EF’s – though there was a common thread of “there is a conspiracy” and “we are the resistance” and “keep the underground movement to save us from _____ going”.  In short, just code for

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

Staging Interventions

This guy needs an intervention!Probably one of the saddest things about the EFs was that they were being sent by people I knew and genuinely loved and cared about.  Most of my resistance to the crap they were sending me was simply in the form of my “DELETE” key, and occasionally the snopes link accompanied by a kind note to please check out the claims of what you’re sending before you send it.  But, in the same way that hiding the bottle of beer from your drunk uncle at Christmastime does little to break the grip of his alcoholism, such half-measures seem to come to no avail.

Over time, though, I’ve held several “mini-interventions” at family gatherings, over lunch at work, and in other places I know people addicted to EF’s.  In most cases, the message got through (at least enough that I got removed from their EF list(s), though I would like to believe they were cured of their horrible addiction to conspiracy theories, monster-sized powerpoints, and wild-eyed urban legends) and I stopped getting this stuff from my loved ones, and the EFs they send me now are not of the pull-your-hair-out variety, and are things I actually would want to read.

Except…

Christians to the “Rescue”
A Miracle!

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

As with many things in pop culture, like rock music, you can expect modern Christians to be about a decade late to the party, a couple of notches below baseline quality, and about thrice as annoying as the original.  EF’s are no exception.

It started in earnest just a few years ago for me, I recall – email forwards from Christian acquaintences wanting to tell me about

TEN SIGNS THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS SOON TO FOLLOW THE INVASION OF IRAQ!

accompanied by whatever the day’s healine was, plus a good healthy dose of King Jimmy English, particularly from Daniel and Revelation.   This was soon followed up with things about

RICK WARREN IS THE FALSE PROPHET OF THE BEAST – IF YOU LOVE YOUR FRIENDS, YOU WILL TELL THEM!

And it was crap like this that led me to meet some like-minded folks who (I believe) were also being led by the Spirit to come together and create CRN.Info which, while nowhere near perfect,  I’ve been able to use (as have others) in a similar fashion to snopes.com in debunking the EFs full of sewage from such hellish sources as “Slice of Laodicea”, “Apprising Ministries (sic)”, “Lighthouse Trails”, “Christianresearchnetwork.com”, etc.

Kind of like George W. Bush refusing to sell his home to African Americans, these sites (sadly, managed by professing believers) spew forth enough untrue tall tales to keep a hangar full of gossips busy until Judgment Day, and enough conspiracy theories about the end of the world that you’re pretty sure Judgment Day is almost upon us (current predictions seems to be around Dec 21/23, 2012 – Maybe I’ll repost this on 12/25/12).

Current Events

Ken Silva?In the past week, I’ve learned via EF that (gasp) Rick Warren spoke in front of a group of Muslims to promote civility between Muslims, Christians and Jews without teling the Muslims they were headed to hell (the typical knock on Warren being more about what he didn’t say than what he did say) from some woman who seems to think Warren owes her some accountability.   Granted, this was from the same source telling me a few months ago that Rick was selling out to the homosexuals (all the while I was in a protracted mediation on his Wikipedia page, preventing a liberal group of folks from branding him as a militant homophobe).

Additionally, I’ve received at least four predictions of the End of Times (centered now on 2012), two identifications of the Anti-Christ (the Pope and Obama seem to be in a neck-and-neck race for this dubious distinction), and a whole slew of folks who seem to want my money (for Jesus, of course) to save America for God, to provide accurate prophecy based on events in the Middle East, to save the family from the rising tide of Obama-lovers, or to protect the church from those (cue foreboding music) eeeeeeevil emergents…

And last night, I received a warning from someone who may have read my Facebook profile from a couple weeks ago when I finally got around to reading The Shack and didn’t hate it. (In fact, while I went in expecting to dislike it, I actually found it to be spot on and eloquent on a number of issues Christians tend to be ham-handed with, even though there were parts with which I disagreed).  The warning, though, had the opposite of its intended effect – I don’t know that I’ve laughed so hard in awhile:  The letter was a collection of links from Slice, Apprising, CRN and Lighthouse Trails.

Kind of like getting a letter from McDonalds about the dangers of eating fresh fruit.

The Common Thread
0 N03Z!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

If there is a common bond that attaches all of the spammy EFs together it is an inherent spirit of fear – Fear of those whom we disagree with politically; Fear of the End; Fear of Christians whose doctrine isn’t 100% in line with ours; Fear, Fear, Fear.  Basically, it is porn for the mind – designed to stoke our fears while releasing our inner Eichmann.

But that shouldn’t be what we’re about.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Indeed, we have an obligation not to live according to the sinful nature – of gossip, slander, lies and fear. Trust the Spirit, not forwarded emails trying to scare you about the End Times, or The Shack, or Rick Warren, or Rob Bell, or whatever church these devourers of widow’s houses scheme up to scare immature believers. Live according to the spirit of Sonship you’ve been given, as heirs of God, to whom the Spirit will lead and guide in community with local believers.

Stop forwarding gossip-mongering, slanderous, fear-inspiring crap to fellow believers.

Slowly … Back away form the “Forward” button … there you go…

Well, except for this article. In this particular case

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(just kidding :) )

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I hadn’t heard/seen these in the past, but apparently Rob Bell gave a bit of a background/defense of the criticisms leveled at MHBC, Velvet Elvis, and himself.  Some good stuff there:

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image
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Scott over at Verum Serum dropped me a note this morning to let me know about a situation in which a good deal of prayer and support is needed for a fellow brother in Christ and blogger, Ken Silva.

Ken posted a short note this to CRN yesterday:

My family learned yesterday afternoon that my youngest brother made the tragic decision to end his life. Unfortunately, there was no warning or prior indication something like this could occur and he leaves behind two teenage sons.

Whether we agree about issues of big or small import to the church, it is incumbent upon all brothers to have compassion and to be compassionate on those who are suffering.

Please lift Ken, his family and his two nephews in prayer and keep them in your prayers during this time.   If you would like to leave notes of encouragement, you can mail them directly to him at apprising@hughes.net or leave them in the comments to this post.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

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“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Praise the Lord!

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