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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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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Jesus Christ, savior, practical joker

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

I am very convinced that, on a few occasions, the disciples yelled, “Jesus!”

No, not to take His name in vain, and not to call out to him when in a storm, in quicksand or because they were trying to get his attention. Instead, here are two examples:

Peter, at a wedding, takes a drink of wine–only to discover that it’s turned back into water.

Matthew, when looking for a lamb to slaughter for a meal for Jesus and the 12, stares in shock as the lamb says in perfect Aramaic: “PLEASE don’t eat me. I taste BAAAAAAAD!”

In both cases, the reaction was likely: “Jesus! Would you PLEASE stop doing that?!”

In both cases, I imagine our Lord doubled over, laughing.

Jesus probably also told His fair share of jokes. (“So the Rabbi tells the rest of the Sanhedrin, ‘That was no Samaritan woman! That was my WIFE!'”)

I see it this way: Jesus had a very busy schedule. There were no planes or cars, so He walked most places–save for riding on donkeys or other animals. He probably got very little sleep and had days where he had to: teach, teach and re-teach the disciples; deal with the Pharisees and other religious leaders who refused to see the obvious about Him; heal the sick, provide food for those needed; screen potential disciples; comfort the heartbroken, and on, and on, and on.

What better way to boost morale among His disciples and relieve stress by having a sense of humor?

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How should you read the Bible?

December 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I can describe “how” in two words:

In context.

Those on the right who quote passages in Leviticus to condemn homosexuality should also be aware of passages that describe what we’d consider odd, inexplicable Mosaic laws dealing with slavery, sex and what animals were fit and unfit for food (if you love bacon, guess what–it would’ve been considered unclean).

Those on the left who quote passages in Acts to justify socialism or communism should also be aware of what the Bible says about not eating if you haven’t worked or those who take for themselves what others have earned.

I do believe the Bible is God’s Perfect Word, but I also believe that some rules God gave at various times were exclusively meant for those times and those particular circumstances.

For now, as I read, I consider the audience, the customs of the times and whether the command qualifies as an absolute from God or something He chose for that time.

Richard Zowie lives in the Texas Hill Country and is a reporter for the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. The views expressed in this blog posting do not necessarily represent those of the Standard newspaper staff, editor or publisher. Post comments here or e-mail 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.

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Ever try to imagine eternity?

March 10, 2013 1 comment

Ever try to imagine eternity?

As a young boy, I tried and it was pretty scary.

For some odd reason, I would imagine New Jerusalem as a spinning carousel that would float higher and further away, never ending. It kept doing so long after it seemed like time had run out.

Even as an adult, I will try to imagine eternity. The results are not quite as staggering, but it’s still a lot like trying to imagine Calculus when your mathematical understanding ends at simple addition and subtraction.

I think the simplest way to understand it is that our minds are not fully equipped to understand the wonders of heaven or the everlasting endlessness of eternity.

And, believe it or not, neither can Chuck Norris.

Richard Zowie has never counted to infinity, and he’s pretty sure Chuck Norris hasn’t either (although Richard is a HUGE fan of both Norris and Chuck Norris Facts). 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.

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