Saturday, August 29, 2015

Is this a Christian nation?

When a prophet makes a call to repentance, generally, there are sins that the prophet is calling the hearer to forsake. And, as often happens in early May, there was often a call for my country to repent.

From what sins?

“You shall have no other gods before me."

Well, 70% of our nation self-identifies as Christian, so we're good on that, right?
Depends on whether we interpret that as which deity we call God or on who or what we Americans place our reliance.

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the
LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

As a nation, we claim to trust in God, but we don't. We trust in our guns, our economy, our rights, our traditions. And our churches and politicians are full of contradictory policies and prophecies, because that's what God said. But if it's God speaking,  wouldn't it be with one voice, telling the body one thing? Somebody has their own ego and dreams and philosophy mixed up with the Word of God...and somebody is misleading the flock.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."

Between commerce, entertainment, and sports, we've reached the point where Sunday is different - slightly - but not set apart. Various surveys tell us that only 35-40% of Americans attend church on any given Sunday...meaning that even half of us are ignoring the admonition to not forsake the assembling of the brethren. And this fall - like every fall, we'll spend two hours in church, and ten hours watching St. Drew, Brother Rodgers, and Brady's bunch.

“Honor your father and your mother"

Every generation claims that their children are the worst behaved brats to ever see daylight. I don't know on this one.
But just as Jesus told the woman at the well, "you spoke well that you have no husband", today's prophet would say "you have no father..." ...

“You shall not murder."

There is blood on our hands.
The blood of the unborn slaughtered in the name of convenience.
The blood of the refugees and collateral damage from our war on terror, slaughtered in the name of security.
The blood of the blacks from the slave ships to the plantations, from the victims of the Klan to Trayvon.
The blood of our murdered brothers in this country, gunned down at a far more lethal rate than the other rich nations (whether due to the violence of the culture, or the availability of guns, or the prevalence of drugs, or...)
The blood of the native Americans, slaughtered and repatriated in the name of Manifest Destiny.
And the list goes on...

"You shall not commit adultery."

In less than a century, we have redefined marriage from "until death do us part" to "as long as we avoid 'irreconcilable differences', immersed our culture in lust and porn so deep that Corinth would blush, and experimented with the sexual ethic of consenting adults ... with a harvest of confusion, fatherlessness, divorce, and disaster.  And Ashley Madison.

“You shall not steal."

Some of my friends would yell, "income inequality and corporations." Others would say "fiat money, inflation, and taxation".

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

The trolling. The bullying. The exclusion. The alienation. The gossip. And when it fits our team's worldview...We almost don't care if it's true or not, we post first, fact check later...if ever.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Our nation has built itself on an economy of out-doing the Jones es. Bigger tv's, bigger cars, bigger houses, newer phones...

Maybe we need to stop calling ourselves a Christian nation.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kansas City and Winners, in the same sentence.

As 2012 came to a close there were a couple small highlights  in the Kansas City sports world.
 The Royals had hosted the Major League Baseball All Star Game and were looking like they're starting to get good, despite a finish below .500.  The Chiefs had a terrible season including almost half of season without having a play where they had the lead, but they were going to the first draft pick, as consolation for a 2-14 finish. Sporting Kansas City despite another playoff loss to there rivals Houston, had won the minor trophy, the Open Cup, and were set to host next years 2013 Major League Soccer all star game.

January of 2013 was the last time a major league team in Kansas City finished with losing record. Since then in 2013 and 2014 all three Kansas City teams finished above .500 each time. The Royals made it to the World Series, the Chiefs made the playoffs one of those two years and Sporting Kansas City won MLS Cup and had another playoff appearance. 2015 is looking pretty good the Royals and Sporting are both having dominant seasons, are shoo ins to finish above .500 again and compete in the playoffs, and the Chiefs are looking promising for a good run at this fall - although their regular season started yet.

Go Team!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Malachi's wager*

Once upon a time the preacher said that it is God's will for his people to prosper succeed and achieve. In the last 20 years I've observed various Christian groups with various emphasises on money.

Experiment. Imagine that Nate Silver - perhaps the nation's most famous statistician - had made a conclusion about faith in God, the prosperity gospel, and whether it actually worked.

Scenario 1. a rigorous peer review double-blind survey of a large group of people, believing God desires his people to gain wealth has absolutely no effect on the finance of the people in the survey.
What would happen? Based on Christians response to science, they would find every flaw imagined or real in the survey. They would say you have to you have to believe (true Scotsman, anyone?)  They would ignore it as persecution and discouragement.  Maybe one in a hundred preachers would go back to the Word to see where they went wrong, if there was something they missed.

Scenario 3. a rigorous peer review double-blind survey of a large group of people, believing God desires his people to gain wealth has a notable positive effect on the finance of the people in the survey.

If the survey came out in favor of the prosperity gospel, you would see some churches once again hammering their brothers in the face about the love of money about God's desire for people to use their wealth for building his kingdom for ministering to the poor for missionaries. The secular media would probably go bananas trying to get the more established prosperity gospel preachers on to the electric circuits on to the talk shows and not just on Christian television. And a third group of Christians would go to bed that night get down on the knees and pray dear God why did you let this happen? Why do you let our gospel get hijacked by those who just see it as about the blessings instead of the relationship with Christ.

Doesn't matter if faith works as advertised? Of course it does! If we preach a gospel that  does not match how we advertise if we over sell then we risk shipwrecking the face of those who wonder, if God doesn't do that in the tangible world how can we trust in the in tangible world with forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Which brings us to the great dilemma of the faith preaching what happens when what you have believed for doesn't come about?  It's hard to believe in miracles when you're walking through the graveyard.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Who has the truth?

Logic is the refuge of those who don't know if they heard from God or not. And I have three words that have taunted me like Joseph's dreams for 14-19 years.
At a preacher's ordination, he stated that he expected to be there for my ordination.
Early in my Pentecostal days, I was given a word that I would be God's voice and His words.
And, after I graduated college, I realized that I had a father's heart and a heart for fathers.

Did I hear from God? I don't know anymore. And after decades of being told I'm something special, I've spent almost that long realizing I'm very ordinary, and in most ways, subpar. And it hurts.

Abraham had a word from God. He spent ten years waiting, then tried to make it happen himself. Disaster ensued. But when God revisited him, telling Abraham that within a year, Sarah would have a child...we have to conclude that at some point, Abraham and Sarah went into their tent and did that which, so many other times, was simply an expression of love (tinged with the frustration of the childless); but at some point in Abraham's 99th year, Isaac was conceived ...

Joseph had a word from God, a dream. And he waited 22 years as a slave, a prisoner, and a premier before seeing it come to pass.

I don't know anymore. And honestly, wading through both the words in my life and the contemporary prophets...I've given up on trying to figure out who's heard from God and who's mistaken pattern or politic for the word of the Almighty, and who needs to re-read the 3rd commandment.

Almost enough to make me a Baptist.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Truth in the crowd?

Is there a correlation between number of followers and the truthfulness of a preacher's interpretation of Scripture?

If there is, which mega church should I sign up for? Rick Warren? Mark Driscoll? David Cho? Brian Houston?  Joel Osteen?

And if I look to Pentecost, when Peter preached a sermon and called 3,000 to Paul preaching to his recently founded churches, preaching faith and the churches growing daily.

But...we're also told that the cross is offense. That narrow is the way that leads to salvation. And that in the last days...All that stuff about tickling ears (which frankly is used more to hammer disagreeing preachers than the perceived friendliness of the truth...)

So is church growth proof of anything besides the charisma of the preacher? I don't know anymore. Are people leaving because they don't like the Word as interpreted by the man of God that evidence of the truth?


quid est veritas