Category Archives: Christians

First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People?!

THEIR ULTIMATE GOAL

Recently, in a Fox News Special Report All-Star panel discussion I heard a panelist use the phrase “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People”. That discussion focused on the persecution Christians are experiencing in a part of Iraq now under the control of the jihadist group knows as ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – a/k/a ISIS). Specifically, ISIL has given Christians (who have been living in that area for 2,000 years, pre-dating Muslims by 600 years) an ultimatum to convert to Islam or get out and/or be fined and/or face death. Since I wasn’t familiar with the Saturday people/Sunday people phrase, I researched it and I was embarrassed to learn that it’s been in use for quite awhile. In fact, it’s found in the title of a best-selling book, by Lela Gilbert, published in 2012. The following excerpt from Ms. Gilbert’s Weekly Standard blog helped me begin to understand this phrase and its background:

Christian house in Mosul

“‘First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People.’ Such graffiti can sometimes be found in Muslim neighborhoods in the Middle East. The ‘Saturday People’ are, of course, Jews, today nearly gone from Muslim lands. Now the ‘Sunday people’—Christians— are in the crosshairs, and they, too, are fleeing at an alarming rate. Both religions are unwelcome in many Muslim-majority lands for reasons of Islamist ideology—the declaration of jihad, or holy war, against infidels.” Continue reading

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You Will Not Surely Die?!

takei pastor post

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. – Genesis 3:4

Genesis 3:4 records Satan’s promise to Eve, leading to the fall of man. Obviously, it was a devastatingly effective tactic. So much so that it’s been an ongoing key element in the destructive strategy of “that serpent of old”.

Although I frequently see “the great dragon” raising its ugly head with this weapon in hand, I usually just shake my head and try to ignore it, thinking something like, “Anyone with half a brain, especially fellow-Christians, won’t be deceived by this”. However, when I saw the image shown above being used in this way, as a Facebook post a couple of weeks ago, there were so many disturbing aspects of it that I just had to speak out this time.

The Facebook post mentioned was by George Takei, the gay activist whose claim to fame is having portrayed the role of Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. Although there are disquieting factors beyond those contained within the post itself, I’ll start there. Continue reading

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Filed under Bible, Christians, divorce, Homosexuality, Judeo-Christian values, Love, Sin

Dwight Howard And The Blessing of Life

The latest in our ongoing series on American Heroes and Idols

By: Michael Beckman

Cross-Posted From: Tales from a tribble

Dwight HowardAs a big Rockets basketball fan, I was very excited along with the rest of Houston fans when the Rockets signed center Dwight Howard as a free agent in July of 2013.  The Rockets had just signed the best center in the NBA to go along with another super star of the Rockets, James Harden.  This dynamic duo would surely be fun to watch, and it has been.  The Rockets are now one of the best teams in the NBA with a legitimate chance to fight for an NBA Championship.  But more than just acquiring a great basketball player, our city of Houston has been blessed to have a great man join us.

That may be surprising to some because when Dwight decided to sign with the Rockets [especially over his previous team, the Lakers] there was a lot of negative talk that came out about Dwight.  You could read comments on twitter that Dwight was a loser, he was selfish,  he would be a negative on the team, and he didn’t care enough about winning.   Those descriptions about Dwight could not be further from the truth.  None of them apply to this gentleman.  Dwight Howard is a winner, a team player and a big positive to the team, on and off the court.

There is one main reason that the last description of Dwight Howard, that he didn’t care enough about winning, came about.  That is because before the game, during the game and after the game, you will always see Dwight with a smile on his face.  Many basketball fans have taken that to mean he just doesn’t care.  If only they knew the real reason Dwight always has a smile and a positive attitude, even in defeat.  It has nothing to do with Dwight not caring about the game, as he hurts as much as anyone else on the team when they lose a game.  It has to do with life itself.

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Going To Heaven Alone

iron

REBUKED BY FRIENDS

When I express strong views on a sensitive topic, I’m not surprised when I get pushback from those who see matters differently. But, when I’m rebuffed by those who I think are friends, accepting me and my beliefs, it’s sort of shocking. I had that happen recently and it led me to do some introspection that I’d like to share.

The specifics of this recent occurrence involved a meeting I attended with a small group of people who I’ve worked very closely with for several years. Without inappropriately sharing intimate details of that meeting, let me just say that there was mention of another person who we’ve known through our work, who seemed to be going through a difficult time and that they were attending a Bible study being conducted by someone else we’ve known through our work. Hearing that was a pleasant surprise to me so I responded by saying something like, “I just hope (that person) is truly paying attention at the Bible study.” With that, I sensed a reaction that I later described as a unanimous rolling of the eyes by the other participants.

UNDERSTANDING THE REBUKE

Since my comment came just from my truly caring about the person we had been discussing, that added to my bewilderment over being chided as I was. So, the following day, I approached one of the other attendees to discuss this. In addition to getting affirmation of my sensing that unanimous rolling of the eyes, I was reminded that there are some settings where discussion of topics like religion and politics is just not welcome. And, beyond that, I was told that I was just more spiritual than the other attendees.

In reflecting on that one-on-one follow-up conversation, I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t really anything in it that I didn’t already know. And, in reflecting on my follow-up self-conversation, I remained sure of my caring intent with the comment that led to my rebuke. To me, though, the disapproval I had received from my friends clearly indicated the need for me to examine how I share my Christian faith in order that it’s received as intended. So, I determined to do just that.

FOCUS ON A SIN

In the course of making this examination, I thought of a point that I’d heard Pastor Brian Brodersen, of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, make in a teaching from 1 Corinthians. As a side note, I ended up going through 11 of Pastor Brian’s teachings to find what I was looking for. At first, that seemed like a nuisance but it turned out that I was richly blessed through a fresh look at much more of God’s Word than I’d had in mind. Anyway, I did find what I was looking for in Pastor Brian’s lesson, entitled “Tending to Our Own Issues”, based on the following Scripture:

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

The point that I had been thinking of was made by Pastor Brian in addressing the part of this Scripture that says, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” Pastor Brian’s comments here were: “ … notice, first of all, that the issues of sin go beyond sexual immorality … notice the other sins included there … we have a tendency to isolate a specific sin and focus in on that sin to the exclusion of other sins … that’s part of the problem we have right now, in the current cultural situation, in regard to homosexuality. I think that we, the church in general, have over emphasized this one sin. If you think about it, as we share the gospel with people, generally, we don’t begin by talking about specific sins. But, with homosexuality it seems we focus in on that particular thing. That’s the wrong way to understand it. I was thinking the other day about the idea that so many gay people have in their mind … I’ve heard them say this, ’You think I’m going to Hell because I’m gay.’ The reality is, they’re not going to Hell because they’re gay. They’re going to Hell because they’re lost. They’re going to Hell because they’re a sinner. They’re going to Hell for the same reason an adulterer is and the same reason a swindler is and for the same reason a slanderer is … because they haven’t turned to Christ to have their sins forgiven.” Continue reading

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Thumping Bible Thumpers

Thumping

HARM

Here’s an image I saw recently, when a friend shared it on Facebook. At first glance, it may seem to be intended to convey the simple message that it’s wrong to commit hateful acts towards people because they are homosexual. I would agree with that and I suspect that’s all my friend was trying to say with her Facebook post. However, closer examination reveals more complexity to the ideas presented by this illustration, ideas that result in the whole of the communication being more harmful than helpful.

SCRIPTURAL CONTEXT

Let’s begin our closer examination with a look at the Scripture quoted, Romans 13:10. One thing you have to watch out for when Scripture is quoted is that it can be taken out of context, often to support a specific agenda. To put this verse into context, it’s necessary to first remember that the Book of Romans was a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome. As with most letters, both then and now, they aren’t written with each verse presenting an individual idea. Rather they are written with a number of verses that knit together to express views on a specific topic. “Love Your Neighbor” is the subheading typically used for what Paul is addressing with this section of his letter. His complete thought here is:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10

As you can see, before Paul says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor”, he gives some examples of how you can fail to show love and selfishly do harm to a neighbor. That is, by breaking God’s commandments. In other words, sinning against your neighbor. And, you’ll note that the first of the examples he gives is a sexual sin. But none of that is represented in the illustration. Perhaps that reflects the fact that the Facebook post my friend shared was from The Christian Left via Episcopal Church Memes. Although The Christian Left denies it, they do have a widely held reputation as a group that cherry-picks the Bible. Likewise, The Episcopal Church tends to not recognize the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. In both cases, this has contributed to their acceptance of homosexual behavior. I don’t think it’s much of jump, then, to come to the conclusion that this is the agenda behind their taking this Scripture out of context. Continue reading

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Filed under ageism, Bible, Christians, Homosexuality, race, religion, Sin

All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

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Lookin’ For Hate In All The Wrong Places

gqIn the recent controversy related to Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, there were two major learning opportunities (one for each of the opposing sides on this issue) that seemed to be completely overlooked. I know, considering the Second-Coming-level of attention this was given, it’s hard to believe that even the slightest detail could have been missed. However, particularly with the reactions I got to my stated position on the matter, I did see a couple of openings for teachable moments that I thought, if utilized, could result in a very meaningful silver lining coming out of this brouhaha. So, now that A&E has reversed their original decision, before the dust completely settles, I want to explore these learning opportunities, in hopes of capturing the gain they may hold.

LESSONS FOR ROBERTSON’S OPPONENTS

One of the first related discussions I heard was among the panel members on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program, the Kelly file. Their focus was on the comments made by Phil Robertson, in the GQ article entitled “What the Duck?” The apparent anti-Robertson participant was Bernard Whitman, who described himself as a double minority, “… gay and Jewish.” Hate was the word he used to sum up his views on Robertson’s comments related to homosexuality in the article. He, also, said that the behavior exhibited by Robertson in the article was not Christian. Neither of Whitman’s stated positions rang true with me. I had read the GQ article word for word and I couldn’t see how anyone could come away from reading it with a sense of hatred on Robertson’s part unless they went into their reading looking for something to interpret as offensive. And, I think my take on this is soundly supported by the fact that the article’s Writer, Drew Magary, doesn’t give even the slightest hint that there was hatefulness in Robertson’s words and behavior, though Magary wasn’t in complete agreement with Robertson’s views. Furthermore, though I suspect Whitman may only be Jewish ethnically, even if he is a devout practitioner of the Jewish faith, I don’t see him as having authority to define what is Christian behavior and what isn’t. Continue reading

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