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Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

Free from the law

August 20, 2019 Leave a comment

Despite more than 30 years as a Christian, I could never quite process that and understand exactly what it meant. Finally, thinks clicked, thanks in part to a long-time mentor.

The Bible gives many types of laws: Noahic Law (you can now eat meat, capital punishment is in order), Mosaic Law (ceremonial for sacrifices, dietary for what Israelites could and couldn’t eat, moral for things they were prohibited to do, various laws, some of which are still applicable today). The different prophets also gave laws.

Jesus came and discussed the law in a new light. Paul talked about how Jesus’ sacrifice freed us from the law.

The purpose of the law, I finally realized, is to show that we can never measure up to God’s standards of holiness. And because of that, we’re sinners.

By becoming Christians, we are no longer bound to the law. However, there are laws we obey because we love God and want to serve Him and become closer to Him.

If there’s one law to obey, it’s Matthew 22:35–40. Jesus said we were to love God with all our heart, might, mind. We were then to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus then said all other laws and the prophets hinge on this commandment.

Post comments here or email them to: richardstwoshekels@gmail.com

Honey vs. Vinegar

April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

“You can get more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Anyone know who said this? Drop me a line at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. I’m curious.

I don’t know if this is a scientifically-accurate statement, but here’s what it’s trying to say: you can get a lot more friends and influence a lot more people by being polite than by being rude.

I am reminded of this verse from Proverbs 18:19: “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

A Christian friend who is suffering a lot right now told me of teaching once at a Christian school and how one person at the church tore into her on a problem instead of sitting with her, asking and listening. It wounded her greatly.

I also think of one Christian employer I had who could quote lots of scripture and was well-loved by people at the church. He also is the most rude, condescending person I’ve ever met in my entire life. And considering all the atheists, agnostics, wiccans, hedonists, and other alternate lifestyle types I’ve know, that is indeed beyond sad. Beyond pathetic. It is inexcusable. He was a man who apparently saw no need to be nice because he knew everything. I prefer humility, myself.

Many other Christians out there are hurting because too many “wise” older Christians have chosen vinegar instead of honey. It’s one thing to practice righteous indignation when needed, but it’s another thing to be unnecessarily rude or angry.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Why I am no longer an Independent Fundamental Baptist, Part 1 of 4

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Some may read this blog title and wonder, “Is Richard still a Christian?”.

Yes, of course I am.

Others might wonder, “Is Richard backslidden?”

Frankly, I feel more alive as a Christian now than I ever have been.

While I don’t believe God programs certain people to accept Him and others to reject Him, I also do not believe salvation can be lost once attained. And, I also don’t believe that only specific denominations are true believers.

I still consider myself a Baptist, meaning that I believe baptism should take place after a person has reached the age of accountability and has received Christ, and I believe a person should study the Word of God and live a responsible, temperate life. However, I no longer consider myself an Independent, Fundamental Baptist (From here on out, we will abbreviate it as IFB).

Let me start with my background.

I became a Christian when I was eight. After my oldest sister left Mormonism (my parents did not regularly attend church), we attended an IFB church in Alvin, Texas, a town about 20 miles southeast of Houston. Then, we moved to Beeville in South Texas and after about two years attending what I’d consider a Southern Baptist Church, we again attended an IFB church.

In those days, the rules were: short hair for boys, no earrings or necklaces. Clean cut. One Baptist minister, whom I will not name, preached a revival service and announced: “Any man who wears an earring probably wears lace on his underwear!”

For women, they were to guard their modesty and wear dresses, skirts or culottes. No pants, not even Capri pants. Many wore no makeup; some men referred to cosmetics as “fake-up” and “mass-scary”. Hair had to be long or, if cut short, lady-like and easily distinguishable from men.

In the home, the husband was the ruler, although he was gently encouraged to cherish his wife. Many men took this to mean they were the boss, the absolute ruler of their home. This, not surprising, led to many having children living secret lives of rebellion as they grew restless having to share their parents’ IFB convictions that they themselves did not share.

In general: no movies (you might be going to the movies to watch the G-rated movie, but how do others know you’re not there to watch the R-rated one instead? Hmmm?). A strong discouragement of television, no alcohol, no tobacco, no drugs, no rock music, no country music, no music with a beat. No contemporary Christian music: no Steve Green, no Steven Curtis Chapman, no Amy Grant, no Carman and no Michael W. Smith (One famous IFB preacher referred to Smith as “Michael W. Smut”). I imagine some even disliked Rich Mullins because he grew his hair long. A David Benoit-style sermon on rock music was sure to include a story about how the beat of rock music was similar to the drum beat used by primitive African tribes to conjure demons.

Dancing? Forget it. Not even ballroom dancing.

Some would add: No fun, no kidding!

And when it came to the Bible, King James Bible only. Not King James Version, since the term version implies there are other acceptable Bibles to read in the English language. There was no room for the New King James Version or the New International Perversion. One friend at college grew up in Germany and often carried with him a German Bible on campus; there very possibly may have been some who murmured, “How come he doesn’t use a King James?!”

And, speaking of college, I attended Pensacola Christian College. To say there were strict rules at PCC is like saying Baptists love potluck meals. After college, I served four years in the Army. Initially, that was a culture shock for me since I went from sheltered church and sheltered college to the military. Lots of my fellow soldiers, drank, smoke, had tattoos and body piercings. Some didn’t believe in God, some had ideas of God that must’ve originated from a marijuana-induced haze while others couldn’t have cared less.

After the military, I attended an IFB church in Texas that wasn’t as strict (the pastor’s wife wore slacks at times), but the pastor still took time to warn us to not listen to music of the style of Madonna, AC/DC or Hootie and the Blowfish.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Why I am no longer an Independent Fundamental Baptist, Part 2 of 4

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

That being said about my background, I offer this observation: the purpose of IFB, what many might call an ultra-bland, neo-puritanical lifestyle, is to eliminate all sinful elements that would deprive you of being a godly Christian, having an intimate understanding of the Scriptures and having an intimate relationship with God. Sadly, it has turned out to be more about control. If control runs amok without accountability, it results in a cult.

Also, while we were encouraged to study the Bible and ask questions, ultimately it was up to your pastor and church leaders to decide for you what is acceptable and what is sinful. One couple who taught Sunday school resigned from a church I attended rather than sign an agreement stipulating what they could and could not do in their private lives. Others choose to follow without question, even if their church leaders or pastor have no formal Bible training and show it by mispronouncing words in the Bible or showing a consistent inability to understand Bible contexts.

Often I’d see things that, now, leave me speechless. Once during a revival, there was a minister who, as he warmed up early his sermon, took off his suit jacket, removed his tie and preached in his white, short-sleeved dress shirt. The sermon was about continuing in the faith, and somehow, the subject shifted to how women dress.

LADIES,” he thundered in a gravelly voice that reminded me of a used car salesman yelling out all his special deals during a 30-second television commercial, “Deuteronomy 22:5 still means the same thing today that it meant thousands of years ago!”

Any IFB woman knows what this verse says: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (King James Version)

The verse is interpreted to mean women should not wear pants; ostensibly, men should also not be cross-dressers or transvestites. The fact that Deuteronomy 22 has lots of other verses the same Baptists probably don’t heed, and that fact that many Christians and non-believers alike probably don’t realize that Mosaic Law consists of an intricate network of dietary, moral and ceremonial laws are blog postings for another time.

That being said, I recall a few years ago taking pictures of a church carnival. A woman wearing modest culottes rode down an inflatable slide. And, for about three seconds, her culottes rode up, showing off her thighs and underwear. I did not get a picture of that and if I had, I would have deleted it. I was too busy marveling that a woman riding down the slide in jeans or capris could have been more modest than the woman wearing “women’s attire”.

One very wonderful female Christian friend I know tells me she hates culottes.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Do cliques exist among Christians? Yep

April 26, 2012 3 comments

For those reading this who don’t know me, here’s a quick description of who I am: a quirky writer who sees the world differently. I’m clumsy. Convention often bores me, and for some my sense of humor is far too esoteric. I am lousy with my hands, don’t smoke, don’t drink or don’t do typical “guy” things.

I became a Christian in 1981 at eight, but over the years still struggled to find acceptance. I wore clothes that weren’t stylish. I didn’t wear my hair in stylish ways. I was still discovering myself and often told non-sequitur jokes or made non-sequitur comments. I had strange obsessions (ducks, pens, certain movies, baseball). I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m actually a mixture of both ADHD and Aspergers. Attending Baptist churches in my teen years, I always felt there were some people who didn’t accept me because I didn’t behave in patterns they were accustomed to.

After attending a public high school and often feeling out of place outside my close circle of friends (Bob, Lorin, Joe, Valkena and Sean, to name a few), I shifted gears and attended a Christian college. Even at Pensacola Christian College, while I made many wonderful friends, I also felt a strong sense that some there did not accept me or even try to, simply because I’m different. 

Years after PCC, as I began to understand more of who I am and why I say and do the things I say and do, I decided to re-connect with lots of former PCC classmates at a website that was a chat board. Everything was open for discussion. And some of the biggest things open for discussion were how bad the administration had been, how many backstabbers there were and how wrong the college had been in its rules, doctrines and theology.

And after a few years of being on the board, it became apparent to me that I would always be an outsider due to my different sense of humor, my perspectives. Some were kind, many were very antagonistic. I left, concluding that in their overall rudeness and condescension, they were no different than the elite, “evil” administration they condemned.

And so was the case in other Christian circles. My soon-to-be ex-wife a few years ago told me my sense of humor caused some at our church bewilderment and wondered how she put up with it all the time. Well, if they’d bothered to get to know me or ask, they would’ve learned humor is my stress reliever. And at the time, I had a lot of stress in my life. They didn’t ask, because, well, men aren’t supposed to be high-strung or exhuberant. They are supposed to be assertive, be able to fix things, go hunting, and so on.

During my separation, I did something I’ve always wanted to do and got involved in a local theater. Currently, I am a member of the Clio Cast & Crew and for the past month or so have been rehearsing for a part in the play A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

And for this amount of time, I have had the time of my life as I’ve been surrounded by wonderful people who seem to accept me for who I am. Some are Christians, some probably are not, but what I enjoy is that I feel far more at ease among my fellow castmates and director and assitant director than I do among many conservative Christians.

And, yes, many of the above lean more towards the left politically while I remain an independent conservative.

It’s amazing to me just how easy it has seemed for me so far to gain acceptance in this group despite my issues, and how frustrating it is that I could go into the average church and probably be labeled different almost immediately. It’s almost like among thespians, diversity is not only accepted, it’s celebrated.

I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising: one song says that if Jesus showed up in the average church today, some parishioners would gripe that His bloody foot prints were staining the carpets. As my friend Lisa pointed out, others would gripe that Jesus’ disciples reeked of fish.

I take comfort knowing from the Bible that God often worked with the outcasts. Abraham had trust issues. Moses hated public speaking and probably stuttered. Jacob was a con man. David was the youngest son who probably wasn’t taken seriously by his older brothers, and later he would become an adulterer and murderer. Jesus’ ancestral bloodline contained incest, prostitution, murder, ungodliness. Paul had anger issues while Peter was very impulsive. And yet, God loved them and worked with them all. What is important to God is that we desire to follow and serve Him and make Him first in our lives.

The Bible gives us a set of clear rules to live by, and while these rules are important, sometimes the lines blur and subjective views of conformity magically turn into Biblical convictions, God wants a relationship with us, and as we get to know Him, we start to see things from His perspective.

And one thing I believe is God loves us despite all our quirks and flaws.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian for 30 years and is still learning. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Interview with blogger and fellow PCC alum Nolan Bobbitt: Part 1 of 2

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Nolan Bobbitt, a fellow Pensacola Christian College graduate, is a great example of someone I knew of at college (but not on a personal basis) but have, in recent years, exchanged e-mails with him every so often. I remember at PCC he had a reputation as a friendly, wonderful guy who loved people and wanted to serve in the ministry.

After I graduated from PCC and spent time in the proverbial real world (which included a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, where so many forbidden things at college were done by most as an afterthought), I began to discover the internet and websites that were both favorable and not favorable to PCC.

On one website I discovered an essay by Nolan titled: “ISOLATIONISM: The Gospel of the Fundamentalist Movement.” Sometime in the near future I will post it on my blog, as it is much-needed reading about how Christians should be insulated but not isolated from the world.

Nolan Bobbitt

These days, among Nolan’s ministries is a website, where he blogs. As I’ve read his blog I have grown to admire both the content and the design. Just a few years ago, I learned what a blog was, how to choose a server, how to post, how to create one working within the allowed parameters. And, yes, how to deal with angry readers who think I’m far crazier than I actually am.

Since blogging is still relatively new to some Christians, I decided to ask Nolan a few questions about blogging, how he got into it and how Christians can use it as a ministerial tool…

Richard Zowie: When did you first start using the internet?

Nolan Bobbitt: I started using the internet back in the dial-up days, around 1995.

RZ: When did you start blogging?

NB: Wow, it’s hard to believe, but I started blogging back in 2005.

RZ: What types of growing pains did you have when you first started blogging? Do you still find yourself wanting to tinker with your blog’s layout, format and what you write about?

NB: Sure I went through the typical blog growing pains, and the funny thing is, there are still some pains there from blogging, but they are a different kind. In the first couple of years, I was really consumed with growing an audience and trying to get high-profile “celebrity Christian” bloggers to read my stuff or write a guest post so that I could have their readership come my way. I obsessed over having a cool blog layout and header.

These days, it’s a little different…I obsess over writing something of substance and value, rather than growing a broad readership. I actually have taken an unintentional break from blogging. I was getting into a really good rhythm and posting at least 4-5 times a week, and then, I just stopped writing. At this point, I really need to update the “look” and layout of my blog, but I’d actually rather just have something that’s worth reading posted there more consistently.

RZ: Do you run across Christians who are opposed to blogs or to being on the internet? If so, what do you tell them?

NB: Oh, I am sure that there are a few Christians who are opposed to blogging or the internet, because they think that it is too “worldly.” I would tell the opposed that the internet may be one of the greatest evangelism tools that the 21st century will see if harnessed to further the Gospel in a compelling way!

In Part 2, Nolan will discuss his thoughts of how blogs can be used for Christian ministries.

Richard Zowie has blogged at Blogspot, Livejournal and now primarily uses WordPress. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Time Management and God

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment

An odd title for a blog posting, when you consider that if God were to come to earth in some corporeal form, we would not see a watch on his right wrist (the left-hander in me likes to think of God as a southpaw). Watches are for those who are restricted to 24-hour days. God is above time. 2 Peter 3:8 tells us a thousand years is but a day to God, and a day is like a thousand years.

I imagine it like this: God can see every single event in human history happening at the same time. To humanity, we’ve been around for thousands of years. To God, it’s irrelevant.

That being said, since we are bound by time, it’s best to make the most of it.

Very difficult, indeed. I often succeed at getting up and reading my Bible, but often I fail. Procrastination is my weak spot, and, admittedly, I loathe getting up early in the morning. At college, when I’d try to read the Bible on a few hours sleep, I’d end up reading the same sentence over and over and over and over again.

What is the solution?

Get sleep and purpose that before your day begins, you will make time for God. Even if it means cutting back on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or other distractions.

God wants to spend time with us, to reveal Himself to us, and when we don’t make the time to spend time with God, I believe it hurts God far more than we can possibly imagine.

Richard Zowie has many opinions on Christianity, some of which just might be correct. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.