MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

When to Let the Truth Come Out

November 30th, 2004 Viewed 1309 times

This Thanksgiving a debate ensued around the dinner table.  It wasn’t politics, religion, or how much turkey one had eaten, but whether or not DOC was ending for the season or the series.  My parents and I knew it would be series finale, and the grandparents thought it was the season, and that it’d be back next year.  It turns out that my information was correct, but that raises the bigger issue.

As humans were very quick to defend ourselves– either because we believe we’re right or because we’re afraid of ridicule.  How much of this is Christlike, though?

We know that God said that vengeance is His, and yet we are quick to avenge ourselves.  What about the things we know to be fact– should we spend all of our time defending ourselves?

That would seem to be against the humility of Christ and denial of self to follow Him.  Since it is self that causes us to confront, denying myself would cause me not to be concerned about what others think of me.

Now, if the issue is about Christ or others, I can see why you should defend Christ– but even then we must realize that like the show that was talked about at Thanksgiving, the truth will come out.  If you know the truth, and you’re walking in the truth, do not care what men may say to you, but let Christ prove you right.

Where the Puck is Going

November 29th, 2004 Viewed 1444 times

In yesterday’s sermon, the guest speaker used an illustration from Wayne Gretsky.  Now, I’m not even sure I know all the rules to Hockey.  About the closest I’ve been to a hockey game is watching the Mighty Ducks from Disney.  I could appreciate the quote that said that Gretsky believed he was a good hockey player because he could be where the puck was going.

Has it come to the point in your life or your church where you feel that you may be “happy” with the status quo?  Now before you answer the obvious “Why no, of course not” take a moment to analyze not just your own feelings, but where you church could be if the body were totally yielded to the Spirit.

I cannot say about most people’s churches, and I’m not talking about liberal or apostate versions.  I do know that people and churches (since they are made up of people) have a tendency to try to keep certain “highs” or “experiences” by doing the same things over and over again– perhaps a simple illustration.

I’m sure that there are many things that were mightily used of God in past generations that are simply not
working that way now.  I’m not saying the Spirit cannot use it, I’m saying that it probably was used to more effect when first started.  Two of these areas that seem obvious to me are to do with Children’s
Ministries.

The Vacation Bible School program and the Sunday School program, I believe, were probably used to much more effect when they first came out, and are now relegated to the “we always do them” status.  Do not get me wrong:  I learned a lot about God through Sunday School.  However, I probably learned more through Christian education at a Christian School and college than I did every Sunday, but I credit some of my Bible training to the godly teachers I had.

Vacation Bible School is another matter.  I believe that that ministry has become so much of a entertainment trap– not much unlike a venus fly trap– that some prayer and thought should be put into how we can get it out.  We spend more time trying to figure out a theme, people to play parts, memorizing parts for the skit, planning who’s getting the money raised… and then we give the lesson as much as 1/3 of the time.

Back to my point– I think we as Christians need to rethink our programs, evaluate them in God’s eyes and see where he’s going.  Would it be more fruitful to start Good News and 5 day clubs than VBS’– I don’t know, but are we cheating ourselves out of bigger blessings because we’re afraid to leave the status quo?

Head Coverings

November 24th, 2004 Viewed 12525 times, 1 so far today

Say Your PrayersWatching any of the good old westerns, you’d no doubt see the hero (and sometimes the villains) take off their hat when entering a building– or at least in the presence of a lady. Today we have trouble having our children and adults ever taking off their hat, even for the national anthem or prayer (though the national anthem usually gets more respect).

In I Corinthians 11 we have an interesting passage of Scripture. In this passage, Paul is talking to the Corinthian believers about what head gear, if any, they should have when prophesying, preaching, or praying.

Some look at verse 2 and claim that it’s an ordinance that Paul is sharing, and give the following commands about head gear the same weight as Communion and Baptism. I think the plain reading of the passage does not give clear weight to that, since Paul states, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” The following “but” seems to say “Yes guys, you’re doing a good job keeping up with the ordinances, but there’s something I have to tell you…”

Must Women Wear Skirts?

November 23rd, 2004 Viewed 18079 times, 2 so far today

Young Girl in GrassFor this Christmas, my wife said that we were overdue on getting new clothes. I think that it’s easy to neglect this area (especially being a man) unless circulation between parts of your body is being cut off! So, we’ve been shopping online and at the mall together to try to get at least her wardrobe more up to date. In doing this, she has expressed the desire to add to her collection of feminine fashion in the way of skirts and blouses. That’s what brings me to today’s entry talking about the Biblical commands for apparel.

A lot of the discussion centers around a command in Deuteronomy 22:5 in which God through Moses states that it is an abomination to the Lord for a man to wear women’s clothing and for women to wear men’s clothing. In essence, God created them male and female and He wants them looking the part. (Contrast this to current society’s desire for genderless bathrooms, cross dressers, etc…)

I guess I should start with the men. This means that, guys, you’re going to have to take to liking skirts and stop your sisters in Christ from wearing that which pertains to a man, since further down in the same passage God commands: “A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.” (Deut 22:30) One web author goes on to say the following (I did the linking):

There are many more Bible verses for men wearing skirts than women wearing them! The Bible speaks of men’s skirts twelve times (Dt 22:30, Dt 27:20, Ru 3:9, 1 Sa 15:27, 1 Sa 24:4, 1 Sa 24:5, 1 Sa 24:11, 1 Sa 24:11, Eze 16:8, Hag 2:12, Hag 2:12, and Zec 8:23).

Now, obviously I’m attempting to shock you into thinking! I’m obviously not advocating that men should start a new fashion trend. What I am saying is that you can’t determine a specific article of clothing from this passage. This passage does not say that women have to wear a dress or a skirt and cannot wear pants.

There is a good principle in there, though, which I’ve alluded to before. There should be a difference in your dress than the opposite sex. Now, many people have different opinions of what this should be. An opinion is fine, but falls under what we talked about earlier in the Romans 14 passage about Christian Liberty. For sake of discussion, I’ll talk about some of the main ideas:

Mrs. Alta Jorgensen has some definite views about women’s clothing. She worked temporarily in fashion design and illustration and has some drawings on her site. Her argument is that the fashion designers are trying to make women look like men intentionally, and don’t flatter women’s lines. She encourages women not be sucked in by current fashion trends and to be feminine.

Having attended a conservative Christian University whose dress code was for women to wear skirts/dresses most of the time, I can attest to the fact that going to the mall was quite the adventure “women in jeans!” Does this have an effect on men? Sure.

M. Thaxter Dickey talks about modesty in his web article. He has five reasons for being modest in dress stating that when women dress provocatively:

  1. It is unfair to men
  2. It is a dangerous threat to Chastity
  3. It is unfair to women
  4. It is an indicator of uncertain character
  5. It reflects poorly on one’s vocation as a Christian

There are others, and I’ll give links of need be, but I think you’re seeing my point. God wants a difference, and he puts high value on modesty. Compared to the one passage about looking different, modesty is everywhere in Scripture. There are groups that are willing to make their members wear skirts, but don’t care how modest. We need to be concerned about modesty first and foremost.

* Correction made before the five points– spotted by Red State Rah Rah.

Worship- Not Just a Weekend Sport

November 22nd, 2004 Viewed 1519 times

I’ve been reading through A. W. Tozer’s collection on Worship and Entertainment as part of assuming my new duties as Worship/Music Team leader at my church.  A lot of what he states in there coincided with what the sermon was about yesterday morning, so I figure that’s due up for my two cents here.

I believe that a lot of us, as fundamental Christians, are missing the boat.  I’m not quite sure why.  I have
tried to reason it to be because of our desire to stick to the Word– not a bad thing– making us predispositioned toward formal programs and methods.  I have no doubt that we start out with a passion for Christ, but is that really maintained?  Do we continue to have a passion for Him, or is that replaced with passion in general?  Do we keep doing the same things we did before because of the comfort of their familiarity and because that’s what we did when we were passionate about Him, and now it’s grown stale?

A lot of churches try to rectify the problem of “something missing” in their services with different music
choices or programs.  They think that they can change style or program and get something out of it– but I believe that they find that they only get a temporary “fix” since with any change there is a temporary bump until even that change becomes more of the same.

The problem is not the service or the programs, per se, it is the people.  The not-so-well-kept-secret is that worship is about an internal heart attitude rather than an external action.  Sure, a nice musical  number or a starry heaven can give us a warm feeling, but worship is more than that.  It is a humble adoration– a recognition for who God is.  This adoration will cause us to do that which is right and to be obedient out of love.  If you’re not worshiping God on Monday-Saturday, don’t expect that you’re worshiping God on Sunday is the way Tozer put it.

A worshiping heart can hear a speaker as dry as the Arizona desert and have his thirst quenched by the living water from the Spirit of God.  He can sing the dullest songs, and know that it is music to God’s ears.  He can be in the most difficult trial and know that God is with him.  A truly worshiping person is a person amazed and captivated by who God is.  He has a true understanding of how small he is compared to
God, and yet knows God loves him.

Oh that we had more men and women that worshiped God at all times– our churches, our workplaces,
our schools, and our world would not be the same.

Boycotting Stores That Promote/Sponser Sin

November 18th, 2004 Viewed 1311 times

I believe the first boycott that I ever heard of/got involved in happened when I was a kid.  A local gas station / convenience store took the “men’s” magazines from behind the counter and put them in front of the door where all could see when entering.  Our local church called for a boycott of the store– which is/was a chain.  We were getting some regular grocery products like milk there, and we decided that we would boycott that and the gas, and move to the competitor.

It appears that it did nothing.  The station is still there today.  They still have the same display (I believe).  So what did it do?

There are many boycotts running around today.  Some are a hoax or are positively pointless.  Once could do a search on Snopes.Com for boycotts and find 61 links to boycotts.  Now, I didn’t check on their veracity,
but a majority of these are urban legends or pointless.  Remember the one about boycotting gas stations on a particular day?

Should Christian’s get involved in boycotts?  My mother in law won’t buy anything Proctor and Gamble because of some of the things they support.  My parents went through a phase where they left AT&T because they supported homosexuals.  The United Way comes around asking for money, and yet some times their recipients are Planned Parenthood.

When I try to think Biblically about this question, I come to Paul in Romans 14.  The discussion there is on Christian liberty, but Paul uses two examples.  One of them is eating meat offered to idols– and he claims
that a strong Christian would know that it was ok to eat this meat.

According to my understanding, this meat was offered as an offering to an idol, and then sold in that temple’s court.  Now, one could assume that the money would be used to support the temple and to line the
pockets of the peddlers.  Was Paul blessing giving money to false-god worship?  I also understand that the price of that meat was cheaper, though I could be wrong.  Does this mean that if I can get a better price at a place of ill repute I should?

What can we take away from Romans 14 about boycotts?  First, I think that if not boycotting would be wrong
for you, it’s definitely a sin– don’t buy it!  Second, what the person you buy something from does with your money is their responsibility– we are called to be good stewards of our money.  If we’re paying for a product/service that we need, we should get the best price.

There is room in here for differences of opinion.  There’s also room in here to say that if you find someone who is competitive who is doing the right things and supporting the right people, we should support them.  However, I don’t know that we should go researching every person we do business with and asking to see their financial records before spending a dollar!

The better point is that, even if we choose to buy something from someone who is not going to do right with
it, that we maintain a Christlike attitude and love that person, even if he is doing something wrong with his money…

From Every Angle

November 17th, 2004 Viewed 1202 times

We’re at a unique point in time.  Profound statement it is not, but never before in history have we had as much as we do now and as little as we do now both at the same time.

The latest time that this concept struck me when I was at home over the weekend and I looked at some of the conveniences that we have.

  • Television:
    Never before could we watch a war unfold, see things happening thousands of miles away, have selections of everything from preachers teaching the Word to worldly men and women showing all manner of depravity.
  • Movies: Never before could we have movies that we could play on demand in digital quality, filtering out language, violence, and sex if we so choose.  Never before have characters in the Bible been popularly portrayed as tomatoes, cucumbers and Asparagus.
  • Electricity: The thing that takes a power outage for us to truly appreciate.
  • The Internet: A place where you’re reading this post– one in millions of entries on multitude of topics ranging from the sublime to the depraved.

I could go on, as I’m sure you have multiple ideas running through your head now.

Is it possible, that with all of these conveniences (including all sorts of appliances and time savers) that we’re really in a much more deceptive war than the one that the Christians in the first century AD were in?  It must have been pretty obvious to the original Christians which way they must choose– proclaim Christ and be lion food, don’t and live.

Now we are constantly making decisions and weighing things on how bad they are.  Over time we’ve seen sitcoms go from the funny Dick Van Dyke Show to Friends.  Yet Christians do a comparison game with “what else is on” and say that some things are ok, and others are not.  People have rightly raised the argument that we’re against profanity, but violence is ok.  Or we’re against sex on TV, but some other vice is fine.

The latest is the whole ABC Monday Night Football issue with the ad for Desperate Housewives in it.  I could have a whole post on this show– and what it says for our culture who had this show number one for weeks.  However, here we have a ad that is now being talked about all over– and make people want to check out the show.  Again– the attempt to surprise and get us to tune in.

I could go on with TV, but back to the point.  How do we as believers navigate this?  Some people refuse to buy things from Proctor and Gamble because of their stance.  Others refuse to have long distance with some companies because they support cause X.  Does that mean that those that don’t believe that one should drink should boycott the neighborhood grocery store?  Are we truly responsible for what someone else does with their money?

These are some tough questions, and over the next posts, we’ll take a look at some of these and see if the Bible has something to say– or at least get my opinion — of what we should do in these tough times.

When to Go, When to Stay

November 16th, 2004 Viewed 1181 times

One of the hardest things I think to decide is when you’ve been at a certain place long enough– be it work, church, city, etc.  We all know the circumstances that get us to these points.  Something is uncomfortable, we need a change, strife and problems accompany the place, and the list goes on as long as you want!

It’s hard to tell when to go or where to go.  Some people would advise waiting on the Lord’s will.  that’s sound advice, depending on how you go about doing it.  These people are usually divided into two camps:

  • Set out fleeces and see where to go
  • See what the circumstances surrounding the current situation are, and go from there.

The first camp relies on Gideon, primarily, since he is the famous fleece putter-outter (my highly technical term).  He did it to some good effect, and got the answer.  However, surrounding his decision was clear instruction by God.  He was to go, and he tested God.  Is testing God the right method?  Does it show an
example to follow, or a man of little faith?

The second one is even more perplexing.  Some would say a bad set of circumstances is something telling you to get out of there– God’s closing doors.

Others would say it’s Satan attacking– press on.

Personally, I go with the third, not listed, option.  I believe we have to follow God’s specifically laid out will in His Word– and if there’s options that do not violate His given will, we’re free to choose.  Does that make making decisions any easier?  No.  Would we rather God write out our lives in the sky?  Yes!  However, He wants us to grow to know Him, and this is the way He’s chosen to do it for now.

Christmas Gifts

November 12th, 2004 Viewed 1404 times

Is it just me, or has it become more difficult over the years to purchase a gift for someone– be it a family member or friend– than it has been in the past.  In times of online wish lists and people needing things that are more expensive, it seems to me that I’m struggling trying to 1) get something someone wants and 2) afford it without going massively in debt.

On the first hand is getting something that someone wants.  I think that for the first time in a long time I have more ideas about what to get people than ever before.  Friends use those wish lists, family have been dropping hints– but not the normal hints.  The hints have been “a grill”, “a workshop toolkit”, “a  dishwasher”, etc.  These are fine and good– if one has the money.

Which brings me to my second problem.  I’ve been trying to get out underneath debt, and one of my
first steps was getting one of those Christmas Club type things to save through out the year.  When I got the check recently, there really wasn’t all that much there to spread around to all the people that are
expecting gifts from my wife and I.  How do you cope?!

I’m sharing in my wife’s feelings that she loves giving, but doesn’t love the getting for the giving process.  That, and I share her wonderment at how our grandparents ever get anything for all of us…  It must take saving much more than I have this past year all year to do it!  And here I thought I was getting a jump on it all.

Next year won’t be as tight but will bring the same questions:  Big gift with multi-way payment or small.  And who all is included?  And just wait until my kids start getting old enough to where they actually know
they’re getting gifts.

(Don’t get me going about having two December birthdays in my house! )

The Measure of a Man

November 11th, 2004 Viewed 887 times

When Kerry conceded a little over a week ago, the thoughts in my head turned to how hard it must be for a man who spent so much time and money– not to mention the emotional cost– to run for the presidency
and then lose… and then be gracious about it.  For all that can be said about the man and his positions, I believe he rose to the occasion when it came to that speech.

As for the many people that supported him, I can’t say as much.  Not only are those that voted for Bush– in their eyes– dumb, but have caused America to no longer be enlightened, have encouraged people to
leave the country, and are definitely not morally superior.  It’s almost tiring and emotionally draining to see that people actually think this way about their fellow man.

I understand that there are many that believed that if Kerry was elected President that it would be the
beginning of the end of the country.  Personally, I always thought that even if he were to win, he’d get nothing of his proposals accomplished since 1) he himself wasn’t sure what they were and 2) he’d have a
republican congress to deal with.  I heard one person say that if he were in congress, he wouldn’t even allow the guy a cabinet!

That’s different than branding a whole group of people as idiots.  I’ve read statements made by the all knowing pundits about how much the people who voted for Bush didn’t know– or were lied to about.  They fail to point out how many people they registered to run to the polls to pull the lever for Kerry without knowing where he stood.  They neglect to mention the poll data prior to the election that said that,
on the issues, a majority of the people polled couldn’t match all of the positions with the candidates!  The ignorance of positions was on both sides.

Are “red staters” dumb?  Of course not.  They’re passionate about their issues and their faith.  They’re passionate about making their own decisions and not letting other people make their minds up for them.  They have different ideas and values– that doesn’t make them ignorant or stupid.

The most encouraging article I read today talked about how this might make the libs push for Federalism so that they can run the areas locally– imagine a “founding” idea coming back for good reason.  The point was made that since libs might no longer be able to legislate for all of America from the benches that they may take to local governments– and so it should be.  The purpose of the states and local governments was to keep government close to the people.

Here’s hoping that something constructive comes of all this destructive talk.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.