Is this God’s Will?

Have you ever looked around and just thought to yourself, “Is this God’s Will?”

Have you ever wondered if God intended for their to be so many people in large cities? Or have you ever thought about whether or not God intended for their to be different socio-economic classes of people? Have you wondered if he wanted you to have that low paying job? Or if he wanted there to be so many different kinds of music? Did God intend for us to do to the world what we have done to it? Does God favor technological progress? How does he feel about the GMO’s we put into food? Does he really want us driving cars?

 

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It seems hard to imagine that the world, as we look at it, is what God intended. Especially when we begin to look at the moral evil in the world. There are wars, crimes, acts of violence, arguments over petty things, broken relationships, broken homes, etc. We even use violence to stop worse violence.

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But did you know that God is still in control of all that happens? God created this world because he somehow, in his own wisdom, believed that this world is the best possible world through which to share the greatness and riches of his blessings. This world is tainted by sin. Even when new technology is created to make our world better, some use it to take advantage of the less-fortunate. Because of sin, every good thing we have has been tainted. But without the opportunity for freedom, all of the good we have obtained would mean very little. I believe that God created a world where people have free choice so that we can choose to do good with what we are given. So ideally, traffic jams may not be part of God’s perfect will, but he allows them because he allows us to have creative freedom in developing new forms of transportation (which is actually a very good thing). He also allows us to use drones to spare lives while thwarting acts of evil. This place is not perfect, but God knows what he is doing and has done what is best for us by allowing us the freedom to do both good and evil.

What are your thoughts?

Buzz Feed – Should Christians Use It?

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Buzz Feed is a social media website where people can watch videos, get news, take quizzes, waste time, discover interesting things. The site also has a lot of racy content and tends to push political agendas. So should Christians spend time on the site?

The Bible talks about doing things in moderation. In other words, if you are wasting time on the clock by looking at buzz feed for hours, or if you are neglecting your kids or other responsibilities to be on the site, then you should not be there. But what if you allot a certain amount of time to looking at the site and you visit in moderation?

The next question to think about is what are you putting into your mind and heart when you visit the site? Is it gossip? Is it racy photos? Is it bad language? Is it cute videos? Is it notable newsworthy stories? Is it political analysis? The site can seemingly be used for good or bad.

As Christians, we are all about redeeming the culture and finding the good in the bad. But just as movies affect different people in different ways, so too, these kinds of websites affect different people in different ways.

So I recommend asking yourself a few questions before you go to the site and then asking those same questions again as you visit it.

  1. How will visiting sites like buzz feed affect my relationship/walk with the Lord?
  2. How will my participation on these sites affect my witness?
  3. How will my participation affect the cause of Christ? (Will I have opportunity to use the material I find on the site to be a light or witness to others?)

If you can answer these questions positively than it might be ok to spend some time on buzz feed. If not, you should probably avoid the site. Even if you feel that you can positively answer the questions, I would like to add that anytime you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit not to do something, then you should refrain from doing it.

What are your thoughts about sites like Buzz Feed? Are they dangerous? Are they helpful?

What does Jesus know about an iPad?

Have you ever wondered what Jesus knows about modern technology? What does he think about iPads, iPods, or other similar devices? Does he know about every piece of information on the worldwide web?

I would go so far as to say that Jesus not only knows all about the iPad, but that he knows about all future developments for every Apple product. He knows about all future development for every technological product that will ever exist. I would also think that Jesus not only knows about every piece of information on the worldwide web, but that he has also processed every bit of everything that will ever be on the worldwide web and he perfectly comprehends it all. Why? Because God is omniscient. He is all-knowing. This means that God knows everything actual and possible. It also means that he knows not only what will be, but everything that could be (even if it will never actually happen). No circumstance is outside of his realm of knowledge.

So even if he knows everything, how can he know what has not happened yet? It is because God is outside of time. I believe that God sees all things and acts in time, but that he is not bound by time. This is because time was created, but before time existed, God Is. God knew about the creation of the iPad before he put Adam in the Garden, before he sent Christ to earth, and before Steve Jobs was born.

Because Jesus is eternally the Son of God and has existed since before time was created as part of the essence of God, he has all the knowledge of the Father.

God knows all, sees all, and comprehends all (past present and future-all at the same instant).

We cannot even begin to comprehend all that God fully understands. What are your thoughts about God’s knowledge?

Patriotism

Is America a Christian Nation? In short…No. Why, because America is not in a covenant relationship with God. Many people in America know God in a real way and it is clear to see that he has chosen to bless this country in many ways, but we are not without our problems. So how should Christians think about patriotism?

Should we sing patriotic songs in church near the 4th of July? How loyal should we be to the Stars and Stripes?

There is nothing wrong with being proud of where you are from. There is nothing wrong with saying the Pledge of Allegiance, or with voting. There is nothing wrong with singing the National Anthem. But there is something wrong with loving your country more than you love God. When the country chooses to do things out of step with Christian belief, Christians should continue to do as the Lord says, just as Daniel and his friends chose to do in Babylon. When consequences are threatened against Christians by the government, Christians should be willing to face those consequences, because our first loyalty is to God.

One of the great things about America is that we believe in Religious Liberty. Religious Liberty is the belief that people can choose to worship however they please so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. This allows for Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Jews, and others to worship as they please. These freedoms also tend to make it unnecessary to regularly face suffering on account of one’s faith. As our rights are challenged, it is important for us to put our faith ahead of our governing authorities while at the same time, respecting those authorities and being good citizens.

Has Glee changed culture?

Glee caused some major controversy when it first aired several years ago. As the story progressed it continued to push the envelope on moral issues and cultural standards of right and wrong. However, as the show brought new issues into the storyline, it seemed to make fewer and fewer headlines.

The series has now concluded and it has some asking how the show effected culture.

In the final season, the show introduced a new gay character names Spencer, who was played by Marshall Williams. In an interview, he shared that he believed the show Glee made it “ok” for people to be gay on TV. You can read the interview here: http://www.thebacklot.com/marshall-williams-interview-glee-post-modern-gay/01/2015/

When the show was not as fully developed, during the summers between seasons, a show called The Glee Project aired on television. On this show we got to see people compete for new roles on the show. Throughout this show we got to hear the writers voice their feelings about the purpose of the show and about what they could do with different kinds of characters.

I think the overall message of Glee is very clear: Be Who You Are. The show teaches people to embrace their identities no matter how quirky or weird, even if your identity brings bullying.

In some respects, I really like the show. I do not believe that bullying is ever acceptable and I think the show depicts this well. I also enjoy much of the music on the show and I like the characters. The show also has some good dialogue throughout on very important issues. It deals with cancer, stereotyping, single parent homes, blended families, competition, cliques, drug use, religion/spirituality, eating disorders, and of course gender issues.

But is being who we are the same as being who we are supposed to be?

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As Christians, how are we to engage the show and think about these issues?

I do believe that the show made it more acceptable for people to be gay on TV. More importantly, I believe it made it more trendy to be same-sex oriented in actual schools. I think we have seen an increase in people who identify as gay or lesbian in schools now specifically because of Glee.

I think the show has been the most important factor in states changing their position on same-sex marriage. I also think that the show has done more to raise the issue as a civil rights issue than a moral issue than any other campaign. Somehow I even think the show had a hand in the decision made by the supreme court last week.

For Christians, however, the issue is still a moral issue. If we say we belong to Christ and are subject to his Word, then we should live according to his Word. If the Bible makes it a moral issue, than Christians should not practice it. Therefore, we look like bad guys when we do not accept same sex practice. The thing is, we cannot force our beliefs on others. We cannot expect those who do not share our moral standards to live according to those standards.

But we are still left asking questions about people being who they are. We live in a world tainted by sin. Sin breaks the image of God in humanity. It makes us desire what we ought not desire. The question is, can sin corrupt us so much at birth that we really believe we are born as the wrong gender? Can we be born with an inclination towards same sex attraction? Yes!!! But I think that as practicing Christians, we must be obedient to the teachings of the Bible–even if that means living in celibacy. When we are born in sin, we are not born as who we are supposed to be. This is true for every single person. No one is born as who they are supposed to be. We can only become that person, when we give our lives to Christ and let him work in our hearts to change us. This is true for every issue, not just gender related issues.

What are your thoughts? How has Glee impacted the world around you?

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Christians are often heard saying that love is the most important thing, but what do they mean by that and why?

In 1 Corinthians love is talked about as a spiritual gift. The gift of love surpasses all other gifts, because it remains in the eternal state. More often, love is talked about in terms of our relationship with God. We love God, because he first loved us. Because God loves us, we are empowered to love one another (meaning other Christians). But Jesus says in the Gospels that we are also to love our enemies and pray for them. We are to pray that they experience the love of God and that it causes them to then beginning loving others as well.

So why is love so important? Why is it foundational to the Christian faith?

Simply put, because love describes the very nature of God. We often think about God as bringing judgment, or about God allowing evil to happen. Sometimes we think of God in terms of rules (here are the things Christians can do and the list of things they can’t do). But in reality, God is loving. He expresses his love towards us, by creating us. He expresses his love in the beauty of the earth, sky, sea, and space. God expresses his love by being slow to judge, but being quick to forgive. God most importantly expresses his love in that he chose to save us. God is Holy and as such, he cannot look at sin with favor (doing so goes against his very nature). Real love is never sinful. But he knew that we could not save ourselves from our inclination to do sinful things. So instead of requiring us to make sacrifices to appease his wrath and anger towards sin, he instead sent his Son (Jesus) to be the sacrifice for all of humanity. God loved us so much that he gave of himself to allow us to live forever in his presence and to enjoy his blessings.

Love has everything to do with it. It is because of God’s love that we exist. It is because of God’s love that we can have eternal life. It is because of God’s love that we can have hope and peace in this life. It is because of his love that we can show kindness towards others. It is because of God’s love that we can forgive our enemies, pray for them, and rejoice with them when they are no longer at odds with us.

What are some of your thoughts about God’s Love?

Shootings

It is a real tragedy that another shooting took place this week. Clearly Dylann Roof is a troubled young man. For some reason, he is filled with hate towards other human beings and he acted on those feelings in a way that brought pain and heartache to his community, to Christians everywhere, to African American families, and to his own family. I believe we need to pray for Dylann that God would change his heart and remove his hatred. But he must also face the consequences for his actions. It is a relief to know that he was captured.

If you have seen how the families of the victims confronted him in court, it is a testimony to the love of Christ to the work of God in the lives of the victims and survivors.

This is yet another blow to the morale of our country. But it leads me to ask several questions:

  1. Why have all of the public shootings in the last 10 or 12 years been carried out by males?
  2. What else does our government and healthcare system need to do to ensure better health care for individuals who are mentally troubled (or perhaps unstable)?
  3. What role do movies, TV, music, comics, video games, and other sources of entertainment play in these events? (I do not believe that any of these things are to be blamed for the actions of any shooters, but perhaps something about these things triggered already twisted wires in the heads of those who have carried out these crimes.)
  4. Does the fact that many young men do not have good mentors have something to do with these events? Is it due to a lack of men growing up and taking responsibility? (Roof was at least 19 and I am not sure he even had a job.)
  5. Why do we not find women carrying out these types of crimes? (Could it be that while women are typically more nurturing that these men have taken their natural hunter/gather/provider instincts and misdirected them?)

I am not sure there is really a way to know the key to every one of these events. I don’t think there is anything we can do to keep these things from ever happening again. There is no cure-all solution. But I do think that by studying these events and asking these kinds of questions we might could find some key factors that will help us identify individuals likely to do similar things in the future, and perhaps even prevent some tragedies.

What are your thoughts on the situation?

Is Church not Smart enough for You?

In a recent study by the Pew Society, results show that more and more Millennials are leaving the church. In an article on CNN regarding the study, it was stated that, “Christianity in the United States hasn’t done a good job of engaging serious Christian reflection with young people, in ways that would be relevant to their lives.”

The article also noted that nearly 70% of youth ministers have no theological training.

Why would someone with a good education who is interested in thinking deeply about life be interested in attending a church that never moves beyond surface level theology? Why would someone with an understanding of science, history, literature, mathematics, or philosophy want to sit under the authority of someone who only appeals to Scripture for basic beliefs without building a case with additional support from studies in other disciplines?

What are your thoughts?

The CNN article can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/12/living/pew-religion-study/index.html

“I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite” and Read My Bible Everyday!!!!

I grew up loving rock music. It really spoke to me. But I also grew up in a Christian home. When I became a teenager I heard frequently at church that Christians should not listen to rock music. So what was I to do? I loved rock music, but I also loved the Lord.

Now you may say….”ah yes, but there is Christian Rock.” Which is true, but much of it was not very good when I was younger, there is more good Christian Rock now, though still not all that much. I certainly think there is a place for Christian Rock and I really like some of it. My favorite Christian Rock band is Petra. I also really like Guardian, Newsboys, Fireflight, and Needtobreathe.

Now being in my thirties, I can still say that I love rock-and-roll. And by that I mean all kinds of rock music, not just Christian rock. The thing is, I still love the Lord (probably more now than when I was a teenager) and I still read my Bible.

In fact, the most recent concert I have attended was Alice Cooper. So how is it that I can love rock and love the Lord at the same time?

It is actually quite simple. First, I believe that humans are created in the image of God. This means that we bear God’s image in every way that we are like God. God is creative (after all he created everything) so when we create art, we are being like God. We are bearing his image. Second, all truth belongs to God. This means that any statement that is true, is of the Lord. Third, God is interested in us and in every aspect of human existence. He is interested in every aspect of our lives. With that being said, truth about any subject brings glory to God.

So when I listen to rock music, I listen to see what the artist is claiming. What does he or she say about truth? About justice? About love? About war? About God? About evil? About suffering? About beauty?

When the lyrics line up with truth, I tend to enjoy the song as a good work of art. When the lyrics do not, I critique the song, I see where the person is coming from, I try to gain a glimpse into the artist’s perspective, and then I think about how to answer their claims with what I know lines up with Scripture.

By doing this, I sort of view songs as pieces of conversations about important topics. The Bible molds my worldview, and rock songs provide dialogue (even if only in my head) about how to engage the world from a biblical perspective.

Of course this means that I must listen to the lyrics…

But then even when we claim not to pay attention to the words…can’t we still sing along?

What are your thoughts on music and the Bible? What are your thoughts about how Christians should engage art?

How do you know when God is speaking to you?

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How do you know when God is speaking to you?

Unlike House, I do believe that we can hear the voice of God in our heads and hearts. However, we sometimes want something so badly that we believe our own voice is the voice of God convicting us to do something. So how do we know that we are really hearing from God and not just projecting our own desires as his voice?

I believe we know it is God and not our own desires when the message we hear is not “all about us” and when we cannot shake it off. When God convicts you, I mean really convicts you, you cannot do anything but listen and obey.

So how does God communicate with us?

Bobby Martindale sums it up nicely when he states that we allow God to speak “through his Word–the Bible, through His presence and fellowship, through Godly people, through His creation, through events of my day, and through the pain and difficulty of life.”

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We call encounters where God speaks to us a religious experience. In reality, anyone involved in any faith is looking for a genuine religious experience. In Christianity, we also seek these experiences because we desire to have a relationship with God.

In order to hear God speak to us through the Bible and through other things such as events that happen throughout our day, we must listen for God. We must listen for his conviction on our hearts. The more we listen for him and look to see what he is communicating with us, the more in-tune to hearing him we become, and the easier it then becomes to recognize his voice.

But what about when we want to hear from God but he is silent?

It is true that sometimes God is silent. This can be frustrating, or it can be empowering. See, God gave us minds. He expects us to use our minds. Sometimes we are presented with choices and we would like him to convict us about what to do, but he is silent because he wants us to have the freedom to make the choice on our own.

Sometimes through talking with other people, God gives us an idea of the best choice to make. But God does not want to dictate our lives. He created us to live and part of living is making our own choices. God wants us to have and exercise a certain amount of freedom in how we live.

Sometimes God seems to be silent because we are not hearing the answer we want. It is important when listening for God to receive his conviction even if it is not the conviction we had hoped for.

Sometimes God is speaking but we are expecting him to speak a certain way. When we do not hear from him in one area, we need to look at the other ways in which God communicates. Perhaps, he is just speaking through a different means.

What thoughts do you have about how God communicates with us?

Being Christian in Today's Culture