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Posts Tagged ‘christians’

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.

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

Reading the Bible, and a few thoughts on some friends

Didn’t go to church today, partly because I was a little tired and a little depressed from being back from my vacation.

Was that the right decision?

No.

I did read the Bible and knocked out chunks both Testaments. Am still behind schedule but I know that if I stick to the schedule I have, I will be caught up by August. It can be done: I just have to do it. Period.

Have spoken to God a lot and have received lots of great advice from different people. Soon I will blog about an approach to witnessing that my friend Lyndee suggested. Some won’t like it, I know, but people have to realize that when you talk at the lost instead of to them or with them, you really won’t get anywhere.

I was very encouraged recently to learn of a schoolmate, Dionicio, is now a practicing Christian and is active in his church. Back in Beeville, I and others knew him as Chico, but he told me he prefers DCO these days. As I read his testimony on his Facebook page, it really made me think that God the Great Fisherman uses countless baits, lures, hooks, to bring people to Him. Some through a church sermon, some through hitting rock bottom, some through years of a good friendship with a Christian and some through God allowing them to believe He has chosen them and that they must come to Him.

So now, one of my ventures is to encourage others. Two friends, both of whom have been divorced twice, come to mind.

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

Acts 11-12: The church grows, then endures persecution

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Reading through these chapters really is a reminder of how much Peter has developed as a Christian. At the end of John, he had returned to his trade as a fisherman, defeated, only to have Jesus speak with him and empower him to return to the ministry. In Acts, Peter seems a man on fire for God. Not bad for an impulsive, act/speak-first-think-second man.

When Peter returned from Caesarea, he dealt with the apostles and other brothers and sisters in Christ who did not understand why he would meet with a Gentile. Knowing they would want to know why Peter spent time among the “uncircumcised” (non-Jewish people), he rehearsed what he would say.

He then explained his vision and how he presented the Gospel. In verse 17, he asked: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”

In other words: If God is willing to receive and save them, who was I to refuse God?

They began to understand what God tried to explain centuries ago to a stubborn prophet named Jonah: God wants all the world to come to Him, not just the Jewish people. Then, they started spreading out and preaching the Gospel to non-Jewish places.

During this time, Barnabas, a man known as an encourager, sought out Saul (who, again, soon would be known as Paul) and brought the new apostle to Antioch. And, in verse 26, we learn this group of believers first were called “Christians” in Antioch. Whether a term best used to describe them or a term of contempt, I don’t know.

Finally in this chapter, Agabus received word form the Holy Spirit there would be a “great dearth” to take place in the days of Claudius Ceasar. The disciples then, according to their own abilities, sent relief unto their brethren who were in Judea.

I suppose this was all bad news for King Herod, who then decided to persecute the church. What Herod didn’t seem to understand, and what the Romans would rapidly learn, is that if you want to make the Christian church go away, persecuting it is not what you want to do.

James was killed (apparently not the same James who wrote the Book of James), and then Herod imprisoned Peter. This, according to verse 3, “pleased” the Jews who undoubtedly saw this Christianity as a threat to their monopoly on religious control.

The church prayed for Pete as he was in prison and guarded by soldiers and bound with chains. The angel of the Lord came and with all the bright light, also served as a primitive alarm clock by “smiting” Peter to wake him. Pete’s chains fell off.

Naturally, Peter–having just waked up–didn’t know if this was real or some strange elaborate dream. He soon realized it had really happened and then had to convince others that he was indeed really out of prison, released on divine probation.

Herod, as you can expect, wasn’t happy Peter had escaped and promptly had the prison keepers executed.

The king then made a speech to the folks of Tyre and Sidon that was probably designed to fortify relations. Verse 20 said they desired peace with Herod for this key reason: “…Because their country was nourished by the king’s country.” Herod probably reminded them of that frequently as he spoke.

Dressed in royal apparel (some commentaries say he wore a robe of shimmering silver), he delivered a speech to them. The folks were very pleased with this and concluded Herod must’ve been a god and not a man.

Herod’s ego probably made him in no hurry to correct them (assuming he would have, which, frankly, is doubtful). And he was then smote by the angel of the Lord for not deflecting that praise and giving honor where honor was due. The text said he was “eaten of worms” and suggests he died a very excruciating death.

And as this happened, God’s word spread and multiplied as Paul and Barnabas continued in their ministry.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Is it a sin to get tattoos?

Is it a sin to get tattoos?

This is yet another question where even in Christian circles, you’ll receive a wide spectrum of responses.

One school of thought is an emphatic “Yes!”. Getting tattoos violates Leviticus 19:28, which says: “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”

It’s that simple, they’ll tell you. No tattoos. Period. End of story. Next question.

Another school of thought insists this verse applies to a different dispensation, back when God wanted Israel to maintain separation from surrounding godly nations. Besides, they say, if we were to look at other verses in Leviticus, Exodus and Deuteronomy, we’d also execute kids for being disrespectful towards their parents and anyone who works on the Sabbath. Other verses in these books prohibit wearing garments of mixed fibers (personally, I absolutely hate those itchy 50% cotton/50% polyester t-shirts), mixing meat with dairy (meaning if an Israelite traveled through time and came here, they’d have to avoid cheeseburgers) and having sexual relations with a woman who is on her period.

While it’s sadly common for Christians to take Bible verses out of context, I wonder how many are aware there are actually three types of Old Testament laws: ceremonial (regarding the procedures for sacrifices and often done to strict measures to create a picture of the Messiah), moral and dietary (prohibited animals were generally unhealthy to eat).

Whereas the No-Tattoo School says the body is the Temple of the Lord and should not be defiled by permanent ink inserted into the skin, the Tattoo-If-You-Wish School counters with the temple-of-the-Lord verse is conveniently applied here but conveniently not applied whenever Baptists gorge themselves with a huge potluck dinner or drink lots of sugary sodas (especially the caffeinated kind).

<Richard stops writing, raises his hand and acknowledges he’s guilty as charged>

The NTS counters that the TIYWS have assimilated too much into worldly trends and desires and will split hairs and twist the Bible around until they can make it justify their heathen lifestyles.

The end result often is a draw as neither side is willing to budge.

Years ago, I remember taking my father to task for getting a tattoo while he was in the Army. This was back in my absolute black and white days when men had nice short haircuts, women had longer hair and wore dresses or culottes and where there was a rigid set of rules to live by. In those days of being an independent fundamental Baptist, if a minister had told his congregation that sunglasses were ungodly to wear, there would no doubt be a large pile of sunglasses in that church’s conviction box (a box in which you deposit clothes, music, movies and non-KJV bibles you feel guilty about). The belief was also that if a new Christian came to church with long hair, tattoos and earrings, it was only a matter of time before the Holy Spirit took control and the person got a haircut, removed their earrings and wore clothing that covered up their “tats”. If they continued in that path, then the pastor magically found ways to work in “shame for a man to have long hair” in one of his sermons. You know the drill.

I remember at Pensacola Christian College, there were students who were disciplined and transferred into different collegians (what PCC called fraternities/sororities) and were given hefty demerits for getting their collegian Kappa Psi Delta’s Greek symbols tattooed on their arms. Those guys by now, I suspect, have had had new tattoos to cover up those old ones. Or maybe the tattoos remain for sentimental reasons. Or maybe they’ve been removed through one of those light saber-type lasers.

Looking back 15 years later at 37, I find myself wondering if everything I thought I “knew” about whether or not tattoos were Biblical was ever correct in the first place. Since then, I’ve even done sketches of drawings of possible ideas for tattoos. As a sentimental man and as a Christian, there’s that idea of getting a cross inked somewhere. Or maybe “Restless”, a homage to my Dad (who used that as a CB handle when driving trucks) and due to my own restless nature. Or maybe something memorializing my late sister, Kimberly. Or maybe a word in Spanish, Chinese and Russian–the three languages I’ve studied.

What prevents me from following through and getting inked?

A few things.

First, I’m still not convinced it’s 100% ok to get tattoos. If you have doubts, don’t–especially when it comes to something as permanent as getting your skin inked.

Second, tattoos cost money, and with the money I owe still, I can’t justify spending $50-$500 on a tattoo at all.

Third, buyer’s remorse. I have a lingering concern that no matter how sentimental a tattoo would be, a week or so later I would look at it and think, “Oh, no! What have I done?!”

At this point of my life, I’ve come to a few wet-cement conclusions:

One: due to financial constraints, I have no plans for tattoos anytime soon.

Two: even if I am finally ready for it or if someone is dumb enough to offer to buy one for me, I’d have to do a lot of praying and seeking of wise counsel first from Christians I deeply respect.

Three: while tattoos at this point (and possibly for the rest of my life) aren’t for me, I will not look down upon Christians who have them.

Does not having a tattoo make you a more morally-upright, spiritually-pure person? Not necessarily. Some of the most wonderful, dedicated, knowledgeable Christians I’ve ever met have had tattoos while some of the most condescending dirt bags I’ve ever met in my life have been bare-skinned Christians.

For some Christians, having tattoos makes sense since their ministry is to a group of people where, to be accepted and heard, perhaps it helps to be inked. For other Christians, who serve in churches where the idea of permanent body art (or even temporary, for that matter) is abhorrent, tattoos are a no go.

To both groups, I wish them well in their ministries as they seek to evangelize, encourage and edify.

The closest thing Richard Zowie has to a tattoo is a surgical scar from when a benign cyst was removed from his back. The scar looks like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Thoughts on Acts, Daniel, Christian writing

I was very flattered but even more encouraged to hear from a high school friend that she reads this blog. Sometimes, when you blog, you post and have no clue who’s reading it. Sunshine’s (her real name, by the way) words are an encouragement to me to overcome my natural inclinations toward procrastination and be faithful by posting on a daily or semi-daily basis. We have only so much time on earth and then it’s over. For those of us who are Christians, we have only a finite amount of time to make a difference in our lives and make the most of the talents that God has given us.

God has not given me the gift to pastor a church, nor to be a traveling evangelist nor to be a missionary like my friends, Ross and Ellen Ligon, but he has given me the gift of writing. My job is to use that gift to write about things I encounter as a Christian.

My background? I have a bachelor of arts degree in history from Pensacola Christian College in 1995. I minored in English and took a Bible class every semester. I’m not a Bible scholar, but what I do is pray, read, consider the context, consult commentaries and concordances and wise friends over passages I don’t grasp and then write about what I understand and how it applies to me.

That being said, if you are a young Christian who’d likes to listen to the radio, I highly recommend J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Swindoll and Chip Ingram. All three are excellent Bible teachers.

Regarding Daniel, people think of it as a book of Daniel and his pals Shadrach (real name: Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah). It’s also a book of prophecy, and as I read it, I see at least two visions Daniel saw that troubled him greatly. One even made him physically ill. One he doesn’t even write about what he saw, which makes you wonder if he saw something very horrible or something so futuristic that he simply couldn’t grasp it.

After Daniel, I’ll be venturing into a part of the Old Testament I haven’t explored in well over a decade: the Minor Prophets. No, they weren’t called the minor prophets because they were all under 18 years old.

As for Acts, how fascinating it is to read about the church in its infancy and about Saul’s conversion into the Apostle Paul. Soon we’ll be reading and blogging about his trials and his climactic trial before King Agrippa.

My prayer and goal is to step things up and within 2 to 4 years, to have blogged my entire way through the Bible. We’ll see how that goes.

For those of you who struggle daily with various temptations (I know I certainly do) and hear those whispers of past things you’ve done and deeply regret, I leave you with this: Whenever Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and is currently searching for a solid Bible-teaching church to attend in or near Vassar, Michigan (one church in Frankenmuth was very nice, but it wasn’t a good fit). Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 9:23-43: Saul, Peter and Tabitha, a.k.a., Dorcas

March 31, 2010 1 comment

I read this passage yesterday and found it to be interesting to get in some more first-century Christian history. When it comes to reading the Bible and blogging, I prefer to read the entire passage first and then take notes on what I read. It works so far and I hope the readers like that. I also try to mix in what I was doing at the time so that it doesn’t read as a cure-for-insomnia exegesis.

Saul: “Hey! I’m a Christian! Honest! No kidding! No more persecuting Christians! I even now wear a W.W.J.D.? bracelet!”

Saul, soon to be known as Paul, the Apostle Formerly Known as Saul, had quite the transformation. Earlier in this chapter he was on his way to Damascus to continue persecuting Christians. Now, he had to be rescued from some angry Jews who wanted to kill him. Before they got to him, disciples came by night, lowered him down the wall from his room in a basket and transported him to Jerusalem.

Despite rescuing Saul (who, again, will soon become Paul), the other disciples were still very reluctant to accept Saul as a fellow Christian. It reminds me a little of the mass reluctance among many Christians when shock rocker Alice Cooper announced he’d become a Christian.

If ever Alice Cooper were to record a new song, it would probably be titled, “No More Mr. Unsaved Guy!”

It seemed so unfathomable that a man known for his outrageous performances would actually be a fellow believer in Jesus.

Seeing the concern, Barnabas vouched for Saul to the disciples and convinced them to give him a chance to prove themselves. They did, no doubt some worried that Saul was a double agent. If only he’d had with him a Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye signed copy of Left Behind, or perhaps if he’d had a W.W.J.D.? bracelet.

We read that Saul was sent to churches in Caesarea, Tarsus (his hometown), Judaea, Galilee, Samaria and that many people were saved and edified.

Peter continued fishing, healing

It’s hard to believe that, at the end of the Gospel According to John, Peter was found to be a defeated disciple with a heavy Galilean accent (which would probably make him sound like the Jewish equivalent of redneck). In this chapter, we see him preaching, teaching and healing. Specifically, healing.

First, a gentleman named Aeneas who’d been bedridden with palsy for eight years. God used this healing to bring people to him in Lydda and Saron.

Peter then wowed people at Joppa through his miracle performed on a disciple named Tabitha, also named Dorcas. Verse 36 described her as a woman “full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.” Unfortunately, she became sick and died and was apparently prepared for burial and placed in an upper chamber.

With people weeping, Peter came and kneeled down and prayed and commanded Tabitha to rise. She opened her eyes, saw him and sat up.

Tabitha’s return from the dead was no doubt the talk of the day in Joppa as people probably texted, blogged and read newspaper accounts about it. Verse 42 tells us many believed in the Lord.

Peter then stayed in Joppa a while with a tanner named Simon. It really is amazing to see what the Lord accomplished through Peter, and it never ceases to amaze me how God chooses to work with seemingly-humble, lowly people instead of relying on the well-educated, upper crust.

Richard Zowie is currently blogging his way through the Bible and has no idea how long it’ll take. He hopes to have it done within two years. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.