Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pagans are Serious About Prayer

I wish that Christians were half as excited about prayer as the wing nuts on the left. They seem frightened to death that Rick Warren would dare to pray "in Jesus' name." They cannot leave this alone...and people wonder why folks on the right are worried that left-leaning dominance will erode constitutional protection of the freedom of religion.

I could go on a tirade here, but I'm just going to direct you to a link and let you sift through for yourselves.

You can see the latest post here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Leftward Insanity

If you are having trouble getting unsleepy in the morning, an article like this should wake you right up. Nothing like a cup of hot coffee and a case of frustration to get the blood going. Bottom line on this article is that the supporters of abortion and gay marriage are angry because President-elect Obama asked Rick Warren to pray. I especially like these gems from People for the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert told CNN she is "deeply disappointed" with the choice of Warren and said the powerful platform at the inauguration should instead have been given to someone who has consistent mainstream American values. Consistent mainstream American values? Hello? Hasn't the legalization of gay marriage failed on every single ballot including California? Who is mainstream again? And how about this one: There is no substantive difference between Rick Warren and James Dobson," Kolbert said. "The only difference is tone. His tone is moderate, but his ideas are radical. Rick Warren's social ideas are radical? He believes that marriage is between a man and woman and he is a radical? Wow.

Can anyone read this article and really believe that the left is interested in an equal voice for all? Would you, as a Christian, feel that your "values" would be respected by someone like Kathryn Kolbert?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Consolation of Israel

I am thankful that we have a celebration each year that compels us to think on the wonder of the incarnation. It is as helpful as the yearly reminder on the crucifixion we get at Easter. Of course, the two are bound together intimately, obviously, but no harm is done by enjoying each individual facet of the jewel that is Christ. Today, I want to point out one of my very favorite characters in Scripture: Simeon.

Simeon's story is found in Luke 2. Here is Luke's description of the man:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Luke 2:25-26).

Picture Simeon as one of the last of the Old Testament prophets for indeed he was a prophet. He and his brothers the prophets had endured pestilence, plague, war, bondage, captivity, persecution and martydom for the sake of the gospel. Yes, the Old Testament prophets suffered for the sake of the gospel. The were men of sorrow, anguishing over the sins of Israel. They held on through the steadfast hope that someday, God would change the hearts of His people and rescue them from their sins.

Here is Isaiah's hope on the cusp of impending doom:

For to us a child is born,to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder,and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this
(Is. 9:6-7).

And here is Daniel's hope:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed
(Dan. 7:13-14).

This precious promise of God is what kept the prophets from despair. This hope is what kept Israel together as they languished under the tyranny of Egypt, Phillistia, Babylon, Assyria, and Rome. They waited, in mourning, for their Emmanuel. The faithful remnant waited and years turned to decades which turned to centuries. And still they waited.

Until one day a prophet named Simeon awoke full of the Holy Spirit and went up to the Temple. Today was the day that he would hold the Lord's Christ, the consolation of Israel. Finally, the prophets could rest in peace.

Ever wonder why Luke calls the Messiah "the consolation of Israel"? What is a consolation? It is a comfort, an encouragement. All the horrors that Israel has endured will be comforted by the Messiah. All her trials will be vindicated. And what is the consolation? Simeon's God had come to him as He had come to no prophet before him, not in a whisper or a dream or a fire or a whirlwind, but in flesh. Simeon beheld his God in the form of babe. He held his God in his arms. He circumcised his own Lord. He who was the fulfillment of the covenant promise was Himself under God's covenant. God had come as an Israelite, born of a virgin, born of the tribe of Judah, born as the son of David.

Can you imagine one gift that would put an end to complaint and end all suffering? Can you imagine a gift that would set the world free? Jesus Christ is that gift. Simeon held him and declared: Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Churches, Tatoo Parlors, Quick Cash Business, and Taco Stands

Last night I went to my very first City Council meeting in the great city of Albertville. I enjoyed it, and I found it to be very informative. Unfortunately, the thing that drew me to this meeting was a particular piece of legislation that was to come before the council: it was a law that would put a moratorium on churches beginning in the city for the next six months. They would be unable to move into existing property or begin construction on a building. If this had been law four months ago, myself and New Covenant would have had nowhere to go.

I want to be clear that this is not the City Council's fault. They are merely responding to the complaints they have been receiving from the community about new churches. Currently, the city has very poor zoning laws, and you can literally begin a church anywhere. Imagine your personal surprise if a very 'happy' church opened up next door to your house with a full praise and worship band complete with a drummer who beat his instrument like it was attacking him.

I understand the concern, but I disagreed with the step suggested. So I went to the meeting to voice my concern if need be. Turns out that I didn't need to worry, the council decided that this would probably be a bad idea, and so the moratorium on churches was simply tabled.

However, and here is the interesting part, several moratoriums were not tabled. A vote was taken and the following business types were put under a six month moratorium so that zoning laws could be established: Tatoo and Body Piercing Parlors, Quick Check Cashing Businesses, and mobile taco stands. I fidgeted in my seat as each business type was dealt with individually. I kept thinking, "Dear God! Does the community see the church as a nusance as great as Tatoo parlors, Pawn Shops, and mobile taco stands!" I can only surmise that the complaint on local churches have been as vocal as complaints against those other business types.

The challenge that I have been bringing to our new church start is this: Let us live in such a way that if we ceased to exist, the community as a whole, even the non-Christians, would miss us. To that end, we have been tossing around the idea of free tutoring services for students on Wednesday, free English classes, and maybe even some free GED courses. We also would like to more involved with our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, and perhaps get involved with an organized food bank and maybe a clothing ministry. Something, anything, to do good works for Christ's sake so that the world may see them and glorify our Father in heaven. The Bible teaches that the wicked are "inventors of evil" (Romans 1:30). My challenge to you and to New Covenant is for us to be "inventors of good."

If New Covenant folds, I do not want it to be such that all the community misses is another worship service. I want us to fill a hole. How is your church doing in this regard? As for me and my house, I want us to be a place where people feel the love of Christ. We are currently lumped in with the local mobile taco stand, the local tatoo parlor, and the local quick check cashing place. That's where the local churches are as far as relevance goes. God have mercy!