Stabs in the heart

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

I have a Christian friend who is currently inactive. It’s probably the best way to describe them that I can think of at the moment.

This friend comes from a multi-cultural background and has a different personality. They tend to be quiet in their approach.

Once, while working at a church school, “Christians” took this friend aside and criticized their personality, their ethnicity and told them that they needed to get right with God.

Still scarred from this, my friend tells me they love Jesus but see God as not a nice person.

It reminded me of what one athlete once said they felt they were over-criticized: “Everybody needs a kick in the butt once in a while, but no one needs a knife in the heart.”

Why is it in Christianity we cling so hard to traditions, even at the expense of hurting others?

Critics like that will have a LOT to answer for someday…

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God prefers perfection over deep pockets

I remember in the first few years of the new millennium, working at a Christian radio station, listening to the commercials and talk shows. One of the popular topics of discussion was a book called “The Prayer of Jabez.”

I’ve never read the book, partly because I have a Jovian backlog of books that I want to read. This includes books I own, along with books that I sometimes check out at the library but can’t get around to reading. However, the synopsis seems like this: In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, Jabez asks God to bless him, and God chooses to do so. Just like that, God will bless us if we only ask. Today, it’s a message similar to what Joel Osteen preaches.

One of the most wonderful Christians I know is a man who prays regularly, attends church regularly, reads the Bible and knows a great deal of Hebrew and Greek. This friend a few years ago also filed for bankruptcy and lost his house to foreclosure.

My friend says: “God’s not as interested in giving us stuff as He is in perfecting us.”

The idea, I suspect, is that we’ll enter into heaven with less spiritual growing to do. And as for being wealthy, how easy is it for even a wealthy Christian to place their faith in their bank account?

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Radio Free Babylon: two more to ponder

March 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Normally, Radio Free Babylon uses subtle humor to get a point across, and sometimes some of the cartoons are somber.

These one are somber and need no further comment.

RFB CWJ real kingdom

RFB CWJ No time for God

‘Trust me,’ God told Job

March 22, 2017 Leave a comment

An acquaintance recently asked me, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Others will ask, “If God does exist, why is there so much suffering?”

If you’d asked me 20 years ago, my response would’ve been a series of “Uhs” and “Ums.” Thinking quickly on the spot was never my strong suit. Come to think of it now, it’s still not.

Ok, let’s try:

“Richard, why is there so much suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people?”

The collective questions won’t have a definitive answer in this lifetime. Finite minds can never understand an infinite mind.

But there is a definitive answer that should last us until we are cap.able to understanding God better in eternity.

Job 38-42.

Reading these five chapters, you’ll find God’s response to Job, who suffered financial loss and personal illness. This happened when God pointed Job out to Satan and explained he was a righteous guy, and that his loyalty to God had nothing to do with personal prosperity.

Satan gave Job everything he had, and Job spent much time in misery wondering “Why?” while his friends gave him mostly-bad advice.

And in those chapters, God speaks to Job and says, “You’re not God. I am. You can’t do any of the things I can do, and you can’t handle any of it. I can because I’m God. And because I am God, I know exactly what I’m doing. I have this. Trust me now, and later, when the time is right, you’ll understand.”

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Death, Be Not Proud…

March 15, 2017 Leave a comment

I took a recent vacation home to spend time with my elderly parents and my sisters. On personal time, I visited a few cemeteries where friends and high school classmates are buried. Most of these friends died far too soon. One didn’t expect to live a long life. Another friend, a girl I had a high school crush on, was murdered at work. She was a victim of circumstance.

For privacy concerns, I won’t post pictures I took. I will say that when I visit the grave of someone I knew for the first time, I like to leave a memento as a sign of respect. For one former bus driver, a toy bus. For a classmate who loved baseball, a baseball. For my freshman year crush, since she was born in Georgia, a plastic white flower in close resemblance to Georgia’s state flower, the Cherokee Rose.

As I stared in sad silence, I was reminded of John Donne’s sonnet, Death, Be Not Proud.

As I think of the poem, it’s hard to read it without getting emotional. It’s a reminder that for us Christians, death is but temporary. Its power is borrowed and will soon have to be given back. Some day, the bodies of believers will be resurrected eternally.

At Pensacola Christian College, I had a speech class. My first-semester teacher was Heidi Nadolny, and one of the female students recited the poem. The young lady chose a terse, almost condescending tone, which I think works. As we remember deceased loved ones, particularly those who died too soon, we are to remind death that its advantage is temporary and that the respect we have for it should be limited. We should also remind it that God alone is omnipotent.

Yes, death, someday you will indeed die. Even worse, you will be forgotten.

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Christians and taxes

December 4, 2016 Leave a comment

Today, I had a phone conversation with one of my favorite people in the world. I won’t publicly identify him, but I will say this: Christianity needs far more believers like this man. I also won’t go into details about our chat, but I will say this: one of the topics of discussion was Christians and taxes. It brought to mind people I’ve heard of who’ve gone to prison because they’ve conscientiously decided not to give Uncle Sam his due.

As always, we’re left to wonder: WWJD?

As far as I can tell, Jesus mentioned taxes twice. In Matthew 17, the Jewish authorities asked if Jesus and His followers paid the “temple tax.” Jesus seemed to think this was actually unnecessary. However, to avoid offense, he had Peter pay it anyway using money from the mouth of a freshly-caught fish.

Then in Matthew 22, the Jewish authorities (who hated paying taxes to Rome), hoped to catch Jesus in a contradiction by asking him if tribute should be paid to Rome. The idea was if Jesus said not to pay taxes, word would get out and the Romans would possibly arrest him for advocating anarchy or not paying one’s fair shekel.* If Jesus said taxes should be paid, it would undoubtedly anger many of the Jews and possibly even those who liked Jesus.

Jesus, knowing that, asked to be shown a coin. After being told it was Caesar’s image on the coin, He said: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

I take these examples to mean simply this: while there might be some exceptions, pay your taxes. Unless you want the IRS to be able to travel to your house of place of business from memory, don’t protest by not paying.

* Yes, pun intended.

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Remembering saints we knew

November 24, 2016 Leave a comment

In October, a famous, controversial Christian died. Anybody who’s familiar with Baptists and soulwinning and cartoons undoubtedly knows whom I’m talking about. My personal view: much of his theology was misguided, but God still used him to preach salvation and lead many to Christ. Others haven’t been very kind. It brings to mind what actress Bette Davis once said when her hated rival, Joan Crawford, died: “You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good . . . Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

When this famous Christian died, I asked a dear friend, Howard, if he’d heard the news.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. Did you hear about Anna M. passed? A lady in my church. Much more interested in home team where I know the players personally.”

To be fair, Howard isn’t the type who’s easily star struck. He’s probably the last person in the world I’d expect to run up to a famous Christian and ask them to sign his Bible.

When I read his comments, I thought, instead of focusing on people we know of, it’s better to focus on people we know personally.

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