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Posts Tagged ‘richard zowie’

The greatest commandment: love

April 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Sometimes people will ask me, “What is Christianity in a nutshell?”

In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked about that. What is the great commandment of the law? What is the commandment that Christianity centers around?

Verses 37-40 explain: “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

It all centers around love. It’s a verse you could spend years pondering.

I’ve been a Christian for almost 37 years, and while Jesus teaches us to love everybody, I must admit there have been some whom I’ve had to take remedial classes to learn how to love. A few select customers I dealt with when I worked at a gas station. A certain Christian employer in Michigan. Politicians in general.

I’m not alone. Alvin Dark, a former Major League Baseball shortstop who also enjoyed success as a manager, became an outspoken Christian. He once mused, “As a Christian, God has taught me to love everybody. But the last ones I learned to love were the sportswriters.”

Alvin_Dark_1953

Richard’s Two Shekels guesses that Alvin Dark made one request about his mansion in New Jerusalem: “Father, could you put any Christian sportswriters on the other side of town? And please don’t give them my address.”

Love, of course, is an action verb and not just an emotion we swell up with when around our children or our significant other. I tell people that True Christianity hinges on helping people without strings attached for no reason, rather than looking at the situation, rubbing one’s hands together as if concocting a sneaky scheme and quietly asking, “What’s in it for me?”

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

 

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No Biblical basis for CCM?

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

A Baptist minister told me a month or so ago he found “no Biblical basis” for Contemporary Christian Music. I’m not completely sure what he meant. Did he mean nothing in the Bible justifies it, or that CCM is incapable of communicating Biblical truths?

point of grace

Point of Grace, a group I love listening to.

Thirty years ago, I would’ve agreed with him. But as you grow and learn and mature, things tend to change. Many traditional Gospel songs are set to the tune of Irish and English drinking songs. Fanny Crosby, who wrote many Gospel songs adored by the Independent Fundamental Baptists (the Baptist equivalent of the Amish, I like to muse as an ex-IFBer), was considered wordly in her day. One pastor said a few years ago, “Today’s contemporary music is tomorrow’s traditional.”

I also thought about the many CCM artists who’ve blessed me with their music over the years: Point of Grace, Amy Grant, Watermark, Crystal Lewis, Newsboys, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James and, believe it or not, Petra. My middle son loves Creed.

Years ago at a sheltered Christian college, I worked a summer with a guy named Ray. We teased each other because of our different accents (I grew up in South Texas, and he was from Maine and seldom pronounced his final “r’s”). To me, without glasses, he was a dead ringer for actor Judge Reinhold. We debated music a lot. I told him then I thought Petra was too worldly.

“Man, don’t be knockin’ Petra,” Ray said. “I got saved at a Petra concert.”

I thought about that for a long time, the way you do a first-hand observation that comes in and challenges an opinion you’ve formed in concrete.

Ray left that particular college due to the strict rules. I located him through Facebook a few years ago. Today, Ray is a musician serving the Lord and still going strong as a Christian. I can think of more than a few Christians from then who strictly adhered to tradition–and today, are no longer serving God.

I’ve even grown to like Petra, particularly their versions of “Grave Robber” (a song about 1 Corinthians 15) and “Not of This World.”

Richard Zowie likes all kind of music–except gangsta rap. His current guilty pleasure is KISS. Post comments here or email them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

‘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.”

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

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.

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

 

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.

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

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.

Ever have ‘Coffee with Jesus’?

October 21, 2016 Leave a comment

One of my favorite cartoons comes from Radio Free Babylon. It’s called “Coffee with Jesus.” Dressed in a modern-day suit and sipping a coffee while sporting shoulder-length hair and a beard, Jesus talks to various individuals–believers, ministers and even Satan himself.

I’ve seen many cartoon versions of Jesus, some of them not bad and some of them far too inaccurate in comparison to what the Bible says. CWJ stands out. Sure, I occasionally disagree with something, but for the most part I can imagine Jesus responding exactly as they have Him do in the comic.

They usually show the same two pictures of Jesus, calm and expressionless. It carries the message that Jesus always knows what’s going on, never panics and always knows what to do. He effortlessly parries even Satan’s most brutal accusations.

CWF can be found online here. Below is one of my favorite cartoons, regarding angst many have about the upcoming presidential election. (Some worry about a Trump presidency, others worry about a Clinton presidency).

coffee-with-jesus-presidential-elections