The God of Christianity

On Fridays for the next several months, I will be posting on doctrinal issues to give a complete understanding of the basics of Christian beliefs. This week as we begin, we will be looking at the Christian belief in God the Father and the Trinity. We will also be looking at the characteristics that make God…well God.

 

 

 
God

A few general things about God:

  • God created everything and he delights in his creation (Acts 17:24-27). 
  • We can know God but we cannot fully comprehend him (Psalm 145:3).
  •  God reveals himself in nature. 
  • God reveals himself to humanity. God must reveal himself to each of us in order for us to believe.
  • Every human is created with a “God-shaped hole,” the result is that every person thinks about the existence of God at some point in life. 
  • No one has ever contributed anything to God (Job 41:11).
  • God is eternal, and while He is outside of time, we still observe Him acting in time. 
  • God is also invisible (John 6:46; 1 Timothy 1:17).
 
A few things about God as a being:

  • God is independent, his existence does not depend on anyone or anything. He does not need us or creation to exist. (Acts 17:24-25) 
  • God does not change. His actions often appear to change, but that is because human obedience and human rebelliousness bring about different consequences. (Psalms 102:25-27)
  • God is infinite and personal. 
  • God is eternal. (Psalm 90:2)
  • God sees all time. (2 Peter 3:8, Isaiah 45:21, Isaiah 46:9-10) God sees all of these events at the same time: Creation, the life of Christ, 2014, the Final Judgment. Humans will always be in time. 
  • God acts in time wherever and whenever he wills to do so (omnipresence). (Psalm 139:7-10) God does not have spatial dimensions. God can be present anywhere to punish, sustain, or bless. (Amos 9:1-4)
  • God is: eternal, omnipotent, all knowing, jealous, merciful, truthful, blessed, holy, loving, just, wrathful, independent, free, and wise. 

 

A few things about God’s character:

  • God is spirit (John 4:24) 
  • God is invisible. (1 Timothy 1:17) – God shows himself to us through created things.
  • God is all-knowing. (1 John 3:20)
  • God is perfectly wise. (Romans 16:27, Job 9:4) – God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals. 
  • God is truthful and faithful. (John 17:3) – God is the ultimate standard of truth.
  • God is perfectly good. (Luke 18:19). 
  • God loves perfectly. (1 John 4:8) – God eternally gives of himself to others.
  • God is perfectly merciful, gracious, and patient. This means that that God mercifully shows his goodness to those in misery and distress. God shows grace to those who only deserve punishment. God shows patience by withholding that punishment for a period of time. (2 Corinthians 1:3, Romans 3:23-24, and James 1:19) 
  • God is holy. (Exodus 26:33) – God is completely separate from sin.
  • God is a God of peace and order. (1 Corinthians 14:33) 
  • God is righteous and just. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • God is jealous. (Exodus 34:14) – God seeks to protect his own honor. 
  • God is wrathful. (Romans 1:18) – God hates sin.
  • God is free. (Psalm 115:3) – God does whatever he wills/pleases. 
  • God is all-powerful. (Jeremiah 32:17) – God is able to do all he wills to do.
  • God is perfect. He possesses all excellent qualities and lacks no quality that would be desirable for him to have. 
  • God is blessed. God delights in himself and all that reflects his character.
  • God is beauty. He is the sum of all desirable qualities. 
  • God is able to determine and approve of every action necessary for his existence and every activity he does in all of creation. This is God’s will.
The Trinity

 

  • God eternally exists as three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person is fully God, and there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20-21; Psalm 139:7-8; John 1:1-4; and Acts 5:27-32). 
  • God is three persons. Each person is fully God, and there is one God. If you deny the Trinity, there is no basis for order in the universe; but more importantly, if you deny the Trinity, you deny the God of Christianity and have no place in salvation. 
  • Hebrew Scripture allusions to the Trinity include Genesis 1:1 (Elohim is plural), 1:2, 1:26 (use plural pronouns to refer to God with singular nouns), Zechariah 3:2 (the entities of Yahweh talk to one another), and Genesis 6:3. 
  • New Testament allusions to the Trinity include Matthew 3:16-17, 28:18-19, and 2 Corinthians 13:14. The New Testament refers to each member of the Trinity as deity (God the Father–Romans 3:7 and Galatians 1:1, the Son–John 1:1 and Colossians 1:9, and the Holy Spirit–Acts 5:3-4).
  • Working Together: All things are delivered to the Father (1 Corinthians 15). The Father sends the Son, but the Father is sent-less. Jesus Christ is not self-governing, He submits to the Father. The Son is the agent of all things. God the Father does all things through the Son and by the Spirit. The Son is not created but eternal with the Father; the Spirit is also uncreated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is also eternal with the Father. Salvation is given to us from the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

Christians are to approach God humility and reverence. While we do know certain things about God, we certainly do not have Him all figured out. He is greater in His being than our minds are able to comprehend. Think about how great and mighty God is based on what we do know, and think about how much we have yet to learn. Spend some time in prayer praising God for who He is, and thanking Him for what He has done.

Verbal and Physical Abuse

A big issue in our society today is that of abuse. According to the US Department of Justice, 25% of women have experienced domestic abuse. Every year there are 960,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported in the United States. Of these women are victims 85% of the time and men 15% of the time. There are typically two kinds of abuse, emotional and physical. On average, 4 women and 3 children die everyday as a result of domestic violence.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional or verbal abuse is victimizing someone through making negative statements meant to define the victim or by withholding responses and not apologizing or retracting the statements.
When people call others names, use words to shame them, yell and scream at others regularly, use threats, blame the victims (this is your fault), and dismiss the feelings of the victim, the person is verbally abusive.

People who are emotionally/verbally abuse may tell their victims what to do and what to wear, use online communities to control or humiliate the victim, start rumors about the victim, and/or stalk the victim.

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse occurs when someone inflicts pain, injury, or any other physical suffering onto another person.

This can involve pushing, kicking, biting, throwing things, slapping, pushing or pulling, using a weapon, or preventing someone from getting away.

What does the Bible say about abuse?

The Bible teaches that we are not to perform malevolent acts of violets against others or abuse them.

It promotes love and respect as being key elements of healthy relationships.

2 Timothy 3 tells us to avoid abusive people. 2 Timothy 3:2-5: “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
Husbands are told to love their wives and to be understanding towards them.
Colossians 3:18-21: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the

Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
1 Peter 3:7: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
God does not look upon those who love violence with favor.
Psalm 11:5 “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
We are to be slow to anger.
James 1:19-20: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
God strengthens those who are afflicted and abused.
Psalm 10:17-18: “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

What do I do if I am being abused?

Get Away and Get Help!!! No person deserves to be abused. No person needs to remain subjected to abuse. If the person who is abusive is willing to get help, you can try to reconcile, but not until the person can show evidence of change.

What do I do if someone I know is being abused?

Look for an opportunity to share your heart with the victim. Offer to help the victim get help. Pray for God to reveal the nature of the situation to the victim so that he or she does not dismiss the reality of the situation.

Should victims of abuse stay married?

I have heard many say that adultery is the only biblical grounds for divorce. But what Jesus actually says is unfaithfulness. This certainly includes adultery, but I believe the term can be a bit broader in meaning. One who abuses a spouse is certainly not honoring, protecting, or loving the spouse. The person is not putting the spouses needs above his own, and the person is purposefully inflicting harm on another. I do not believe that God expects victims of spousal abuse to remain in the relationship. They have every right to leave. However, I do recommend counseling and attempts to reconcile if the abuser is willing to change and agrees to seek help. Though it is still recommended that the victim be removed from the situation until evidence of change is visible. This is a delicate situation.

Finding Help

If you are being abused or you know someone who is being abused, seek help. Several cites that can help with this are as follows:

http://www.loveisrespect.org/  (Love and Respect)

http://www.thehotline.org/ (The National Domestic Violence Hotline)

For more on protecting yourself, visit:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_help_treatment_prevention.htm (Help Guide)

Homelessness

Today there are 1,750,000 homeless people in America. Of those, 28% do not get enough to eat on a daily basis. The average income of homeless Americans is $348 a month.

Reasons that people become homeless include a lack of affordable housing, lack of employment opportunity, lack of affordable healthcare, domestic violence, mental illness, and addiction related issues.

25% of homeless Americans are employed. As this PSA reminds us, homelessness can happen to anyone.

This week, think about what you or your church can do to help those who are less fortunate. Pray for God to show you opportunities where a difference can b made in your community. Pray for God to give you opportunities to make a difference in the life of someone who is less fortunate.

For more on homelessness visit these two websites:

http://nationalhomeless.org/about-homelessness/

http://www.statisticbrain.com/homelessness-stats/

Anger


Have you ever just burned with anger towards someone else or a certain issue?  If so you are not alone.  In fact, anger may be one of the biggest struggles that any of us face. 
 
What is Anger?
 
Anger is an emotion that ranges from mild irritation to rage. It is a strong feeling of hostility or displeasure. People are angry when they are annoyed or frustrated with something or someone.
 
How should Christians react to someone who is constantly angry?

People who are constantly angry are often difficult to get along with. They are easy to frustrate and difficult to please. But as Christians we are to show patience and understanding in dealing with those who are angry. We should pray for the Lord to change their spirit and to help them become more patient. We should show them genuine love and be kind to them. But we should not make it a habit to spend all of our time with those who are always upset.
Proverbs 22:24: “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.”
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate to be angry?
Anger is a natural emotion. God created us to feel anger and even he feels anger towards sin. Jesus was angry when the money changes were using the temple as a place to make a profit. He even threw them out and turned over their tables. Evil should make us angry. Human suffering should make us angry. When others do things to intentionally hurt us, we should be angry. But in our anger, we should refrain from sinning.
Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
What does inappropriate anger look like?
Inappropriate anger manifests itself in many forms but often involves someone throwing a tantrum, going on a tirade, or acting childish with reference to his frustration. It involves saying hurtful things that we will later regret. When anger is inappropriate it is cold. Inappropriate anger lacks love.

What does appropriate anger look like?

Appropriate anger is focused on the issue or situation and not a person. It is mature. It seeks to find a solution. It stops evil, but is motivated by love. It presents consequences but feels sadness for those facing the consequences.
How should I react when someone is angry with me?
Hold yourself in check. Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
If the anger towards you is justified, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
If the anger is not justified, talk it out with the person and see what is behind their frustration. Often times just listening to someone will be enough to help their anger subside.
How should I act when I am angry with someone?
Be willing to talk to the person directly. Do not start gossip by talking to others. Problems are usually solved by going to the source not around it. Be patient and get to the root of the problem. Don’t ignore it and allow the problem to build up inside you. Seek to restore communication and friendship by solving the problem.
James 1:19-20: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Proverbs: 19:11: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Ecclesiastes 7:9: “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.”
Proverbs 15:18: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”
Proverbs 14:17: “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.”
What if I have problems controlling my anger?
Everyone loses their patience sometimes, but if you have a problem controlling your anger or frequently find yourself enraged, I recommend finding a good counselor who can help you work through the problems. It is also beneficial to pray and to memorize some Scriptures to say to yourself every time you feel like you are getting out of control. If someone you know struggles with controlling anger, you can pray for God to reveal the problem to them, and you can share your concern with them. It is unwise to share your concern when the person is angry. Wait for an opportunity to share when the person seems to be in a good place to listen.

Choosing Our Entertainment

For years I have discussed the positive impact of speaking the language of entertainment. We can use books, movies, TV, video games, sports, and other forms of entertainment as a way to present the Gospel, explain truth, and illustrate life experiences. But I have never argued that we should embrace all of culture.

In fact, Christians are to live in the world without becoming of the world. What this means is that Christians are not to be accepting of and participating in sinful practices.

It is easy to say that Christians should not look at pornography, cheat on their spouses, lie in order to get a promotion at work, or to go out and get loaded on Friday night. It becomes more difficult when dealing with the way we read novels, watch TV or Movies, and listen to music.

In the Bible, people have affairs, commit murder, lie, steal, cheat, take advantage of others, etc. But we still consider it a great work of literature, history, and our faith. Why…because the Bible never glorifies these kinds of actions.

Recently Jim Denison wrote an article on whether or not Christians should see the film Devil’s Due. In it Denison presents an argument for seeing the film and for not seeing the film. He concludes (and I agree) that Christians should not see this film.

The argument for seeing the film goes something like this: We are to be salt and light, in order to be light we must be in the culture…if we see the film we can talk about it with others who have seen it.

The argument against seeing the film goes something like this: We are not to fill our minds with trash but with things that are good and virtuous. The things we see stay in our minds for years and can have a profound impact on who we are. Denison cites Philippians 4:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Denison notes that seeing a film just so we can talk about it with others presents logic that could be transferred to watching pornography. He concludes his article by noting that seeing the film would grieve the Holy Spirit who lives inside us.

I completely agree with Denision about this film and with his principles. Below I will expound upon them to create a checklist for deciding what to do with our entertainment.

Statement 1: Jesus ate with sinners, but he never lowered his standard of righteousness for them and he never approved of their sins. He ate with tax collectors, but Jesus never stole money. He talked with prostitutes and he showed them genuine care, but he never supported their career.

Principle 1: From this we can learn that we are not to support sinful practices even though we are to love sinners. We can still show care and build relationships with those who live with different ethical standards, but we must be careful not to support those standards.

Statement 2: What we put into our minds flows out from our hearts. When we fill our heads with trash, we do the same for our hearts. As Petra said in there 1984 song “Computer Brains” –“garbage in, garbage out.”

Principle 2: We must recognize when the messages (claims about truth) of a book, song, show, or film are contrary to the claims about truth in Scripture. We need to be aware when an artist is telling us to believe something that is contrary to Scripture.

Statement 3: We must be in the world in order to be light, but we must shine as a light and this requires us to be different from the world we are in.

Principle 3: We must be ready to embrace what is good in culture, encourage what is true, and critique what is false. To do this, we must kick the habit of seeing entertainment as an escape from reality, but rather as an opportunity to engage our minds.

In addition to these principles Dr. David Naugle has stated that three questions are worth asking before participating in something such as seeing a film:

  1. How will my participation in this affect me as a person? (Am I putting garbage in? Is this art promoting messages in line with my faith, contrary to it, or both?)
  2. How will my participation in this affect others? (Will this cause others to think I support something contrary to my faith? Will it cause other believers to stumble?)
  3. How will my participation in this affect the cause for Christ? (Will my doing this bring about a negative association with my church? Will my participation cause people to doubt the genuineness of my faith? Will it make them question whether or not my God is real?)

From these principles and questions, here is a checklist for knowing whether or not to participate in the reading of a book, watching of a show (including sports games and programs), watching of a film, or listening to a song.

Is the Holy Spirit convicting me about this? (Never do anything that the Holy Spirit convicts you not to do.)
Is this art uplifting or is it filling my heart with garbage?
Why do I want to participate in this? (Is it for education, to escape, to connect with someone, to understand a different perspective, for a laugh, because it is appealing?)
How will it affect me as a person?
How will my participation in this affect others?
How will my participation reflect on God?
Will this help me be a brighter light or will it extinguish my flame?
Will this cause me to sin? Does it glorify evil or good?
What claims does this art make about truth? What is the message of the work?

If you can answer these questions in good conscience, then the work is probably worth participating in. If you cannot, then perhaps you should stay away.

Art affects people in different ways. Some people cannot handle certain kinds of art and even if the art is acceptable, they should not watch/listen/read it. Just as it is important to know your limits with regards to exercise, diet, alcohol, etc. It is important to know your limits with regard to art. Know how it affects you and don’t be afraid to abstain from a show, game, or song if it impacts you negatively. If you can handle something that many people cannot handle, do not boast about it or allow your maturity to cause others to sin.

On a final note, do not think that it is acceptable to justify sin as being “for the sake of art.” Not all art is acceptable for Christians. Justifying the participation in art that clearly does not glorify God is an unacceptable practice. I know there are a lot of questions about limits, but each piece of art must be judged for itself. Some may find a show acceptable while others do not. This is a somewhat subjective process, but in the midst of the gray, there remains some clear black and white. Christians should not participate in art that glorifies evil or that blatantly attacks God.

Click on the following link to read the article by Jim Denison: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5369bb601ac44bfdda928110b&id=19bea78c79&e=b25b3bf62f

The Tragedy of Syria

The death toll in the civil war in Syria has now reached over 140,000 people. Over 7,000 of the deaths have been children. There is evidence to suggest that the Syrian government has destroyed entire civilian neighborhoods. Children have been tortured and over 100,000 people are supposedly incarcerated and unaccounted for.

One must question whether either side in the fight is justified in their practices. Peace talks are now entering round three, but it would seem that the fight remains far from being over.

The civil war began as a street protest against President Bashar al-Assad but soon escalated. In the Spring of 2011 protestors demanded economic reform. The protest soon became a national protest. In April the Syrian army was sent to stop the uprising and they opened fire on protestors all throughout the country. This caused the protests to evolve into armed rebellion.

With this situation, we must ask:

What are we to do about what is happening there?
What can we do?
How does Christianity play into the events surrounding this war torn country?
Why is God allowing such evil?

Below I would like to suggest three things in response to the events that are taking place in Syria.

  1. We need to pray for the peace talks to move forward and for God to direct those with connections into the affair to guide things to a swift resolution.
  2. We need to pray for the safety of those who have fled the country and for those in surrounding countries.
  3. We  need to get involved however we can by raising awareness, contacting government officials, and looking for ways to send aid or support groups already sending aid to the civilians in Syria.

To these three suggestions I would like to make three additional comments.

  1. We need to realize that as a Muslim country with Muslim’s on the side of the government and the opposition, that the religion and politics are fused together. Muslim rule sees no separation of church and state. It cannot be our goal to help an opposition group model a new government after our own.
  2. We need to remember that in a fallen world where people have free choice, some will choose to do things that are morally evil. God allows this, but that does not mean he is pleased with it. God does not desire for any to suffer the ill-effects of war.
  3. We cannot idly stand by as people are being annihilated. All human life is intrinsically valuable and our hearts must break for soldiers and civilians alike as they are embroiled in the conflict.

If you have any questions about this post, let me know.

To read more on the conflict, check out the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/15/syria-death-toll_n_4794010.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/un-report-syria-child-abuse_n_4725833.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/syria-demolitions-report_n_4693412.html

Racism


What is Racism?

Racism is the belief that all members of a specific race possess qualities or characteristics that cause them to be inferior or superior to other races of people.
What does the Bible say about Racism?

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (ESV)

John 7:24: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (ESV).
How should Christians act towards Racism?
Christians should not be racist towards others. They should not support racist agendas, and they should argue for the intrinsic value of all human life.
Analysis of the Subject:
Three movies that deal specifically with racism are: 1. City of God, 2. Hotel Rwanda, 3. CrashNone of these three films are for the week stomached, nor are they for those searching for pleasurable entertainment.  Instead, they are respectively about the black poverty stricken drug dealers living in the projects outside Rio de Janeiro, the African Genocide in the country of Rwanda, and about stereotyping.
In “City of God,” one learns about the way in which children of the ghetto are brought up into gangs and into dealing and using drugs.  This movie is extremely violent and includes multiple scenes where children are shot and drug dealers are fighting.  This film also exposes the ways in which the Brazilian police are in cahoots with the drug runners, selling them guns, and providing them with business.  This film has less to do with racism than the other two, but it does show the oppression and poverty of a minority people group, it shows how difficult it is for them to get out of the status in which they are born. (note: this film is in Portuguese)
The movie “Hotel Rwanda,” while PG-13, is still hard to watch.  It tells the story of certain group of people living in Rwanda during the months after the assassination of the president Juvenal Habyarimana.  Between the months of April and June of 1994, it is estimated that 800,000 people were killed.  The killings were related to race.  Both sides were black, but they were still considered different ethnically by the tribes themselves.  The two groups there are the Hutus and the Tutsis. BBC News reported that “The two ethnic groups are actually very similar – they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions.”  Despite the similarities, the two groups became rather hostile towards one another after Belgium began to colonize the country in 1916.  In the end, the killings were ethnically centered around one group believing it was superior to the other.  To read more on this event, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1288230.stm.
The final film, “Crash,” actually takes place in modern America; California to be exact.  This film is situational, showing how the paths of different people with different background, ethnicity, and culture interact and bring out prejudices.  Like “Hotel Rwanda,” you may not like many of the characters, but in this one, there is really no hero.  The introduction to the film contains a conversation between two amateur car thieves who are representations of the stereotype that blacks do not tip at restaurants.  They then steel a car from a white woman and her husband.  This freaks out the woman (of course) and she demands that the doors on the house be changed that very night.  The locksmith is Hispanic, and the wife is prejudiced against him as a result of his race (this flows from the fact that she was robbed by a black person).  Later the locksmith attempts to fix a Persian man’s door and it does not work, so the Persian makes racial comments to the locksmith.  Later this same night, one white officer molests a black woman in front of her husband on a deserted street downtown after pulling the car over without reason.  The husband is later insulted by his wife for being afraid to be black and proud of his heritage. The next day, the officer is offended when a black woman will not provide special assistance to his father who is badly in need of hospice care.  These types of events go on and on throughout the entire movie.  Whites against blacks, Persians against whites, blacks against Puerto Ricans, Puerto Ricans against Asians, Asians against whites, the possibilities seem endless.  So are we living in a world today that is virtual free of racism?  Absolutely not.  What about a country that has overcome its rugged past?  Again, the answer is an emphatic no.  This being the case, what are we to do about it?
Additional Scripture:
Genesis 1:26-28 – 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
 27 So God created man in his own image,
       in the image of God he created him;
       male and female he created them.
 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
And
Genesis 2:21-23 – 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
 23 The man said,
       “This is now bone of my bones
       and flesh of my flesh;
       she shall be called ‘woman,’
       for she was taken out of man.”
And
Genesis 3:20 – Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
Application:
The Bible clearly teaches that God made humans in his image and that both men and women equally represent God.  It also teaches that Eve was the mother of all living.  This means that if someone is a human, then ultimately, they descended from her.  If all races have the same origin, that should settle the question for good.  People are not to be racists.  They are not to discriminate in business, education, marital relationships, trust, respect, or any other number of things.  In fact, we should love and cherish the cultures and backgrounds of those who are different than us.  We should learn from them and from their art.  It is ok for a white person to enjoy a black musicians work; it is equally acceptable for a black person to enjoy a Latino persons work.  Music has actually done more to break the racial barriers down than most any other form of art.  Sly (from Sly and the Family Stone) was one of the first musicians to really understand this.  Paul McCartney jumped on the band wagon soon as did a number of other artists in the sixties.  However, like all good things, the liberator can become the oppressor.  Recently John Mellencamp did an album called “Cutting Heads,” which is about the issue of racism.  In the title track, a black artist raps about how black artists should not be using the term “Nigger” to refer to one another.
Today, musicians and fans alike need to recognize that while we are not to stifle our cultures and backgrounds, that we must also be careful not to lift our ethnicity up to the point that it causes us to put down those who are different.  The Southern Baptist started out as a denomination that wanted to send out missionaries who were slave owners.  We have since repented of this awful sin, but we still see effects of it today.  There are very few African Americans in the Southern Baptist convention.
In the Old Testament people were condemned for marrying outside of ethnicity, but this was a religious practice not a racial practice.  The Bible only condemned people who served Yahweh for marrying people who served other god’s. This is no different than the New Testament idea that believers are not to marry unbelievers.
Let us continue to work together through our art and culture, and in our faith to break down racial barriers.  Let us love one another as bearers of God’s image regardless of what our color is or our status in life.  Let us see people as beautiful in how God designed each one individually.  Let us encourage our artists to continue to build bridges and not burn them down.  Let us all show the care and concern for one another that we should have, that can only be a result of being a new creation in Christ.
What if I am being discriminated Against?
If you are being discriminated against, tell someone. No one deserves to be treated as less than human. If it is at school, inform a teacher. If it is at work, inform a manager.
What if I someone I know is being discriminated against?
Help the person to see what is happening (if they do not recognize it) and then help them tell someone. If they refuse to tell someone consider telling someone for them.
Getting Help
If you are dealing with racism and need help, contact a local minister for prayer and guidance. Another option is to find a counselor who can help you work through the struggle, process the information, and move forward in life. Do not hold it in, and do not keep it to yourself.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

The Illusion of Culture

I typically write about how things affect our culture in America, but by that statement what I mean is our multifaceted set of cultures.

It is an illusion to think that any person is a product of one single culture. We are each the products of numerous cultures that continually change. Age, gender, ethnicity, educational background, socioeconomic status, and geographic location each cultivate different cultures within our lives. Additionally, family traditions, work environments, and church environments provide unique cultures that shape who we are. Even the different friends with whom we surround ourselves allow for small cultures of relationships. All of these things work together influencing who we are and who we are becoming.

In fact, we are rarely the same for very long. I am not the same person now at 32 that I was at 27, or 24, or 18, or 16, or 12, or even 4 years-old. The existentialist would say that you don’t really stop becoming who you are until you die. There is certainly some truth to that kind of thinking. While we each develop or inherit certain characteristics, traits, or behaviors, we continually modify ourselves as we learn to look at situations and process information from new perspectives. As we go through new experiences, we alter our beliefs and habits and find it impossible to ever truly go back to where we were before.

Furthermore, Kant argued for two kinds of reality, noumenal reality (the world as it really is) and phenomenal reality (the world as we see it). He stated that we cannot experience noumenal reality, because we cannot see the world as it really is. We are limited by our own perspective, which of course is limited by all of our cultures.

So why all this talk about experience and cultures? Why do these thing matter? Simply put, they matter, because they all help us answer two very important questions: Who am I? and Why am I here? Or perhaps more bluntly: What is the purpose of life?


The purpose of life, I think is this: “To LIVE.”

God created us to cultivate the earth, to have community with others, and to care for his creation. He blessed us with the ability to live in fellowship with God, with one another, with creatures, and with the land.

As you live, think about what makes you who you are. Think about how you have changed and how you continue to change. Think about your worldview (the lens through which you see the world) and how such a view is the product of your cultures (plural) and also what shapes those cultures.

As you think about who you are and why knowing who you are matters, thank God for all the cultures that have shaped you and that continue shaping you into who God desires you to be.