The Gimmick of God

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2007 by religionsucks

Gimmicks. They are intended to make something shiny so we’ll be more interested. There’s some guy on t.v. that is always yelling at me while trying to sell me something with Oxy something, something. “It will clean your toughest carpet stains, removes pet hair, and is fully biodegradable.” Just when I think my ears have had enough, “but wait, there’s more. Order now and get my newest invention, the Super-Oxy Really Dirty Dish Scrub Brush!!!”. I can’t stand that guy now. If I ran into him in the store, I’d more than likely start screaming in his face about how I don’t use his garbage, but rather just regular old Resolve carpet cleaner and Dawn dish soap.

Christians often feel like they need to make up gimmicks to attract people to God. One of the biggest jokes was the Prayer of Jabez written and utterly molested by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. He “skilfully” wrote The Prayer of Jabez, The Prayer of Jabez for Women, and The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, as well as other short books. Soon after the book came out, you could also buy Prayer of Jabez key chains, Payer of Jabez bookmarks, Prayer of Jabez Bible covers and my personal favorite, the Prayer of Jabez Hebrew prayer shawl. It must be kind of like an antennae that helps boost output transmission. I have to wonder what God thinks of all of this. I already know what so many non-Christians think about it. It confirms so many of their prejudices against “Christians”.

My wife and I have been helping to plant a church. During one of our core meetings, we were all talking about evangelism, how to reach the world. I still have to shake my head at one guy who said that “Jesus called us to be fishers of men. When you go fishing, you use bait. We need to figure out how to “bait” people into our church”. I thought if that’s the case, then strippers and beer ought to work great! Using his “logical” analysis of Christ’s metaphor, we should also use good hooks too, like double barbed ones, so they can’t get away. Then we should be sure that our fillet knife is sharp, so that we can cut them apart as soon as we get back to shore/church. It also would pay to call ahead to shore so that someone can get the fire ready so we can roast our catch as well. Part of the tragedy, was that only a couple of us in the group saw what he said as being ridiculous. The others were putting new line on their reels.

God needs no gimmick. He is the same one who toasted a soaking wet pile of wood with an offering on top while the other god’s slept. At one time, He parted the Red Sea so that thousands, perhaps millions of His followers could cross to safety. Another time, He walked on the water and called His follower to him. With single words, He spoke creation into existence and at His son’s death, that same creation shook violently. He was a friend of the damned and damned those who would not accept the outcasts. He took Job to the very edge of life itself, gave it all back and more and then explained how He is clearly in charge. He took my life that was lost in the world, searching for hope, and gave me peace that goes beyond any understanding. Exactly what part of God needs a gimmick to attract us to Him? I think that before we could answer, He would respond as He did with Job:

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? 12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, 13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? 14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. 15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. 16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? 18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. 19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? 24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? 25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, 26 to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, 27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? 31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? 34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? 36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? 37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens 38 when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? 39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions 40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? 41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

Cries From the Closet

Posted in poems on March 17, 2007 by religionsucks

Did you hear that sound? The wailing cry? Someone’s shut the door, I wonder why? Do they hide the macabre that is inside, the cries that come from the closet? How long to ignore the lives that are gone. Three decades have past with weapons still drawn. The miracles are crushed from dusk until dawn for the cries that come from the closet. The scalpel is now the guillotine blade. The doctor now laughs at the life that God made. A world now hides behind the lowly drawn shade from the cries that come from the closet.

My Beautiful Makynna Marie

Posted in poems on March 17, 2007 by religionsucks

The stars above, though dimly lit                                                                                                                                                               Look down and clearly see                                                                                                                                                                           The lass I hold within my arms                                                                                                                                                                   My beautiful Makynna Marie

With eyes of blue that pierce my soul                                                                                                                                                      And fills my heart I plea                                                                                                                                                                            “How can you God trust me a wretch                                                                                                                                                     With the girl Makynna Marie?”

At last with voice I know is His                                                                                                                                                              He answers like the sea                                                                                                                                                                             “The girl you hold in arms is mine                                                                                                                                                            My beautiful Makynna Marie”

The Antichrist is Hispanic!???!!!????

Posted in cult on March 3, 2007 by religionsucks

I’m not a big fan of television. If I want real entertainment, I’ll go down into my shop and work on a Vandergraph generator. This evening, I went over to see my parents at their home. As is typical, my dad had the tube on and was watching Geraldo Live. I was instantly captivated when I heard Geraldo talking about the Antichrist and his followers???!!! Apparently, in some Latin country (or at least it seemed predominately Hispanic followers) some guy, who apparently struggles with a small penis, has convinced, it appeared, a few hundred people that he is in fact (drum roll) The Antichrist!!! Yay! They all win…nothing. I’m still trying to get my mind around this one. Many of the followers, we’ll call them sheep, have gone to actually get 666 tattooed  on their body. Some on the forehead, some on the hand, some on the wrist. The reporter found one young lady at a tattoo shop getting 666 tattooed on her shoulder blade. She stated that this was the answer to everything for her. I’m assuming that she didn’t have any real, complex questions in the first place. Perhaps knowing that tattoos can now be cosmetically removed with lasers was all she needed. And why 666? I’m aware of the whole number six verses the number seven, but really, why couldn’t it be a Latin word? Or a Hebrew word. What would these people do if the real Antichrist showed up and said “no, no, no, my sign is not 666, it’s Pi to 1,283 places. 3.141592653………………

I’m taken back to the Jonestown murders/suicide of ’78. Wikipedia records that 913 people were found dead. Nearly 1000 people followed a man who claimed to be the Christ incarnate. I’m reminded also of Isaiah 53 “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

I may poke fun of this new self-proclaimed diety’s followers, but what will this guy tell God? Most certainly he hasn’t thought that through. Sure, he could claim atheism, but even some honest atheists have said that they say there is no God because they simply don’t want one to exist, not because there was overwhelming evidence disproving the existence of the Father. Will he apologize? Or was it Bertrand Russell that said he will simply tell God, “you didn’t give enough evidence to prove yourself”. How does a person intentionally mislead as many people as possible in the name of God? How can we be so blind so as to follow?

My Friend David L.

Posted in Friends on February 20, 2007 by religionsucks

“Friend” is another word that has lost so much meaning in western civilization. If we converse with someone more than once, they automatically become our friend. I know not all are like this. Again, I don’t want to make a statement that is intended to be all encompassing. That’s not fair to the few individuals who cherish their friends, as the Bible states “a friend sticks closer than a brother”. I have a handful of individuals that I call “friends”. I would like to believe that they are people of character. Not all of them are Christians either. There is a certain consistency about them. Something you cant quite get your mind around. They’re deep, genuine, and respectful of others who are trying to be real themselves.

David is one of these friends. I’ve watched inquisitively the past few years of his life. I watched from the stage at church when he and his wife “M.J.” walked into church and had a seat in the back row. In a church where most of the congregation wore their “Sunday best”, David wore Big Smith overalls. He looked out of place, and as I would come to know him better and better, I realized that he was and is out of place. He seeks after the Father with his heart more than his mind. Yet, you would not know that how much he truly knows about God in weather-type conversation. He’s not out to impress others with what he knows. I watched that first Sunday as others looked at him and whispered. He didn’t say anything. I watched as a couple of years later, his wife would unexpectedly leave and divorce him. I watched as church members spread rumors of him after the divorce. I watched him cry as my own heart broke for him. I listened as he told me how lonely he was. I watched as he left the church and moved to another state. I listened as he told me how he had forgiven M.J. and only wished she would come back. She never came back.

Then, he told me about another. Another who had him “smitten”. This last Sunday, I got to see my friend David, along with his new bride. I saw a new David. A David who was lighter than air itself. A David whom God showed favor. A David who as king David, is a man after God’s own heart. I saw an answer to prayer. I saw my friend walking with a companion, a friend, a wife.

Thanks Dave for being a friend. May God richly bless you and Dawn as you trod the path together. I cannot express how abundantly you have blessed me over the years. In times that I feel as though I cannot understand myself, you seem to understand. A gift of the Spirit. Because of you, I have pressed on. Some day, we’ll dwell in the house of the Lord and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King. His love endures forever.

Pain pt.2

Posted in pain on February 17, 2007 by religionsucks

As some of you know, I’m not too fond of many current Christian musical artists. They sing pep rallies for God instead of writing from the gut. It’s critical to praise God is everything, but also Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is a time a place for everything under the sun. As mentioned in my previous post titled “Pain”, a former student in the youth group I led was ruthlessly raped and killed this past summer. She was innocent of the world and lived for eternity while struggling through the things of this earth. I recently found a song by Natalie Grant called Held. The lyrics hit close to home. I’m sure that some who will read this have also experienced significant loss bringing you into a troubling relationship with God as with myself. You’re not alone.

Held

Two months is too little.
They let him go.
They had no sudden healing.
To think that providence would
Take a child from his mother while she prays
Is appalling.

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It’s unfair.

Chorus:
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

This hand is bitterness.
We want to taste it, let the hatred know our sorrow.
The wise hands opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.

(Chorus)
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

Bridge:
If hope is born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?

(Chorus)
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held.

Are there ANY Christians that I like?

Posted in Christians on January 20, 2007 by religionsucks

No. Seriously though, I was thinking last night while building a brass doll bed for my daughter, “If I’m so upset with so many Christians, are there any Christians that I do not despise? If so, who and why?” I think that the first that comes to mind would be Mother Teresa. I admittedly do not know a whole lot about her. Perhaps in that is how I’m so fascinated with her. She dedicated her life to serving those who few others would even consider. She associated herself with outcasts, and in the process, didn’t expend energy trying to tell others about her “good deeds”. I heard Gov. Sam Brownback speak one time about Mother Teresa. He said the single most important thing that she said to him was when she was in the car leaving from where ever they had met. She rolled down the window and exclaimed to him “All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus.” The car then pulled away. She believed that that as James stated “faith without works is dead”. And no, I just don’t believe that she was attempting to “earn” her salvation or her way out of Purgatory. That simply does not seem to coincide with someone of her nature.

Another Christian I hold in high regard has also passed. The late Rich Mullins also dedicated his life to serving others, in particular the American Indians. He gave them, at times, literally, the shoes off of his feet. Rich was another Christian whom so many knew in spite of the fact that he didn’t try to draw attention to himself. Fan of his music or not, read the lyrics. There is content to what he wrote. Not just random rambling “praising Jesus”. His accountant asked him how to manage Rich’s money income from music sales. Rich told him to find out what the average income of the U.S. was including everyone and give the rest to the reservations with which Rich worked. It turned out that, as I recall, in 1996, the average income was about 24,000 dollars/year. Rich lived in a trailer house in Arizona, yet by net sales was a millionaire. I wonder how many other Christians artists live in trailer houses.

A third Christian that I admire is Brennan Manning. Again, I’m in awe of his humility, yet he holds a notable position in Christian circles. One particular quote of his comes to mind, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today, is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and turn around and deny him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” This could very well be this blogs motto.

Then, last, but certainly not least, I have to admire Ravi Zacharias. He is a Christian apologist, author, and speaker who has had a great influence on my life. If humility is the theme, Ravi could not be left out. He is a very educated man, yet is very respectable of those who would love to kill him for his beliefs. I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of his books, Jesus Among Other Gods, and Can Man Live Without God?. He uses legitimate reasoning both from the scriptures and from popular world view to discuss Jesus’ claim to be “the way the truth and the life”. It should be stated that Ravi is often asked to speak at venues that are anything but Christian from Ivy league schools such as Harvard, and Yale, to other religions institutions including Islamic and on to cult conventions such as the Mormons. He is so polite and respectful of their beliefs, yet holds the Bible as being the final authority over man. My words do not do the man justice.