I recently set up a new blog/site to share and collect ideas for increasing the effectiveness of our walk as Christians called FaithHack. Based on the cool sites like Life Hacker, FaithHack will, hopefully become a repository of helpful hits and tips for increasing our faith and living and authentic Christian life that extends beyond the church doors and into our work places, recreations and community relationships.
Monday I finished the 15th blog entry in our ReadingThru project, covering the first 11 chapters in Genesis and finishing off the 42 chapters of Book of Job. My pastor is taking the next week and has done a great job with his first couple of entries here and here. At first I thought it would be nice to get a break from the writing and just get to read, but after a couple of days I miss it – to the point where I have seriously considered adding a couple of entries here to cover the next chunk of Genesis.
When I first thought of ReadingThru, I thought it was a novel idea, but nothing is new under the sun (or at least withing Google’s reach) and I found the excellent One Year Bible blog, http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/, which has archive entries from as far back as Sept. 2004! Their entry for the 17th is full of images and a YouTube video – very cool.
The downside 15 blog entries in fifteen days is WaggleDance has been neglected (a bit). Elim has started to see an influx of geeks, so I hope to post some reviews of open source software useful for Christians and Churches.
I just ran across a term I had never heard before: Churchianity. In a nutshell, churchianity is the result of taking Christ out of Christianity. Jesus commanded us, the Church, to “go and make disciples”, but the unfortunate reality is that we are more prone to go and make church members. When I say “we”, I, of course mean the “royal We“, also known as “me, myself, and I”. While I have heard my Master’s instructions to make disciples and to preach the Good News, I have to ask myself:
- Who am I discipling, right now?
If I look back at someone I have mentored or raised in the faith, or look forward planning to reach out to a new believer, I am either resting on my laurels or exchanging planning for doing. While I could say that I am waiting on God to direct me to someone or have Him direct someone to me (I would sound soooo very spiritual, too), but the truth is that there are 6.6 billion people on the planet. What are the odds God is having troubles finding someone?? No, the bigger likelihood is that God is waiting for me to really say “..not my will, but yours be done.”
- Who is discipling me?
If Jesus’s plan to spread the faith was for the apostles to go and make disciples, who go and make disciple, who, in turn, go and make disciples, it seems pretty clear that if I am to be part of the plan, I need to be part of that chain.
I can’t claim that I am wholly instructed by my Bible studies, or else part of His instructions would have been, “go and hurl big leather bound books at the nations and hope they get it.”
I can’t claim that I am being discipled by the radio and TV preachers and teachers, or else he would have instructed us to air-drop TV’s tuned to TBN over the unsaved nations.
I can’t claim that I have arrived, that I am done being discipled, because, wacky doctrines of sanctification aside, I can’t find any place in the scriptures that describes a point where I would know all there is know about God and His plans for the world and for me. There is ALWAYS someone I can learn from, someone with a perspective or insight on the Father I can profit from.
- What is the Good News?
I know the gospel message, really I do, but if I expend the opportunities the Spirit provides me sharing the virtues of my church, the schedule and coming events, what is the Good News? That my church is a nice place with nice people and nice programs? If the “good news” brings someone to a service, at best the Spirit is faithful and they hear the real Good News, but, at worst, I’ve squandered the chance God has given me to share Christ and witness a true miracle – a life transformed.
I’ve set up a WordPress instance off of my church’s domain to host the ReadingThru project. I’ve looked at a number of “One Year Bible” blogs, and I hope this one is a little different in that it’s more about the thoughts and impressions of the moment than a detailed study of the text.
I have been checking out MyChurch and the nice set of community tools they have. They have kind of a Facebook vibe; it will be interesting to see how they evolve. It didn’t take long to get to be largest virtual community in our area (Augusta, Me.) but I’m not sure if that speaks more to the level of acceptance of these types of systems here in the remote north-east, than the overall popularity of MyChurch. The idea of virtual communities extending real communities is a pretty interesting one, but I wonder how it will playout with smaller churches and ministries that can’t muster the kind of global scale you find in Facebook or MySpace.
I have been pretty amazed lately how God’s plans seems to include,
even require, such a diversity of people – different languages,
histories, upbringing, education, life experiences, view points,
In the natural, these differences usually lead to misunderstand,
distrust, conflict, fear, hatred, wars –
God has given us a singular commonality, one thing that makes us
alike, and with that one thing, all our differences, all those things
that should separate us, come together to serve the Creator of the
universe, to serve His will and fulfill His plan – That one thing is
what we have each found at the foot of the cross, that one thing is
the only singular thing He had to give – His only begotten Son.
While this is a WebMD article, Math May Tell Which Marriages Last, about a book, The Mathematics of Marriage: Dynamic Nonlinear Models, written in 2002, the message is timeless: marriage is about the connection of two people being made one. According to the research, success or failure of a marriage can be predicted with a 94% accuracy based on the scoring of negative and positive cues displayed during an argument. Rolling your eyes or being dismissive gets negative points, using humor or a supportive nod results in positive points. Couples with a score of 5 positive to 1 negative points have a stable, lasting relationship, while a ratio of 1 to 1 or less is a fast track to divorce court.
The mathematics put concrete face on something most know intuitively; a marriage full of negative comments, self-interest and disrespect is an unhappy one. God’s Word is pretty clear:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
18 As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen).
19He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 20They left their nets immediately and followed him.
NET Matt 4:18
I received an email the other day claiming to be from the security people at PayPal.com. It said that there had been a security problem and asked me to log into my PayPal account to make make sure everything was OK. They even provided me a link to click on in the email. I could rush right to my account login page to check the safety of my money. However, a quick look at the actual address of the link confirmed my initial suspicions: It didn’t go to PayPal’s servers at all, it was another email phishing attempt.
This one has been around for a while, but my kids love it, so check it out!
And while your at it check out GodTube, tons of sermons, music videos, and some odd, quirky stuff.
At the risk of hyper-spiritualizing my choice of snacks, I was eating some microwave popcorn, realized my hand had gotten too greasy and salt covered to touch the keyboard, and it hit me: Microwave popcorn is a lot like sin! I’m not saying that it’s a sin to eat microwave popcorn, but there is some interesting similarities.
I had come home to the smell of buttery popcorn drifting through the house, a result of someone’s afternoon snack. I managed to resisted the immediate urge to pop a bag into the microwave. But the buttery scent, and more importantly, the memory of that smell, persisted. My nose twitched, my mouth watered, my stomach growled.
So,where is this great analogy? What can popcorn possibly teach us?
- Sin attracts.
Sin often has an attractive scent, an pleasing sound, and enticing look. How man men would be addicted to porn if all of the women looked and dresses like Queen Elizabeth II?
How many of us would be guilty of glutton if ice cream and brownies tasted like liver and onions? How many of you would play the lottery if the maximum pay out was $1.49 ? Would I have popped another bag of popcorn in the microwave if it smelled like a wet dog or looked like lima beans – I think not.
- Temptation lingers.
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves that we have “beat temptation”. Resisting temptation is a good thing, but God has a better plan – “Run away!” 1 Cor 10:13 promises that God will always provided a way of escape (run away!) when faced with temptation. Paul says to “flee from idolatry ( 1 Cor 10:14 )”, “flee immorality”(1 Cor 6:18 ), “flee from youthful lusts”(2 Tim 2:22 ). Temptation tends to linger, if not in the air like that buttery popcorn smell, it lingers in the place or situation we encountered it. Thinking it’s okay to see how long we can resist or how close we can get to sin without giving in is another kind of sin, called “pride”. Whether it is a website with pornographic ads, or a restaurant with a hopping bar scene, every time we go back, the temptation is going to be there, waiting.
- We choose.
In the end, “to sin or not to sin” is a choice. Yes, the flesh is weak. Yes, the enemy deceives us. Yes, we are subject to all manner of temptations, but we are responsible for our sins. We can not divorce ourselves from our flesh – what “it” does, we do. We can’t blame the enemy, the Devil didn’t make us do it. We can’t blame Adam and his gift to us of a sin nature. We bare the full responsibility for our transgressions against a righteous God.
As I look at the greasy finger prints on my touchpad, I can try to blame Orville Redenbacher, But, those are clearly my finger prints – no need to call CSI.