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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Set a Good Example you feel like there have been a lot of bad examples of Christians out there? I do. I feel like I have at times been a bad example. When I was unkind or just kept focusing on what I wanted.

Our media likes bad examples, right? People keep showing pictures of Christians protesting in ways that don't help anyone and have no real conversations involved.

We do need to stand our ground on certain issues. That Christ is the way to God. That marriage is heterosexual. That abortion is wrong. These things need to be said...but do we need to say them the ways that we often do?

Some things we can give on (such as homosexual couples being able to file join taxes; does that really hurt us for them to be able to do that?). But do we need to make such big deals out of things? Jesus clearly stated in Matthew 19 that marriage is heterosexual, but he didn't ever refuse to have a conversation with anyone. He never picketed events. He did have righteous anger (he very physically and violently threw out the moneylenders at the temple), but this was rarely something that controlled His actions.

Today I watched the video of a panel from Comic-Con, it was one of the Nerd HQ panels (The Awesome Woman's Panel...I slightly changed the name because I don't like to cuss.) Missy Peregrim did an outstanding job of setting an example of a Christian.  I wish our news media would show more like her. She shared part of her story of being a Christian woman in the field of entertainment and how her parents raised her to care about honesty and integrity.

Let us be against bullying and be honest about what we do not agree with. We can gently speak the truth in love. Let God handle the rest.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pray for Muslims

Today is what Muslims call "The Night of Power". They believe that this was when Mohammed received his instructions that became the Qur'an and this is in the last few days of Ramadan, a time of fasting and prayer. I do find their form of fasting strange. They do not eat during daylight but they do after sundown; causing many Arabic nations to consume more food during Ramadan than any other month of the year.

In the original story of Mohammed gaining his revelation, a being claiming to be the angel Gabriel appeared before Mohammed in a way that was scared him so much he ran out of the cave. The being grew to be about 50 feet tall and chased him then held him in a tight squeeze yelling at him to "DECLARE!"

This is a dramatically different from the Gabriel we meet in the New Testament appearing before a young Mary. This being said "Do not be afraid." He also said the same to Daniel when he was scared in the presence of this angel.

I think that this being claiming to be Gabriel in front of Mohammed was not Gabriel. The two beings speak and act very differently.

Many of them take this night to read the Qur'an and pray. They believe that Allah (the only word for God in the Arabic language) is more willing to grant miracles on this night than any other.

Won't you join me in praying for them? What if tonight, instead of experiencing a legalistic being that uses fear, they experienced Jesus Christ with His forgiveness and grace?

Pray that in these last days of fasting they would find hope, peace, that Jesus would reveal Himself to them.

Also, keep the Iraqi Christians in your prayers. Pray for wisdom and strength for them as they are under extra persecution from ISIS. Pray that key leaders of ISIS would leave Islam and follow Jesus (I like to pray that they would have a 'Saul to Paul change').

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crossbones and The Last Ship

Today I am considering two new shows that have started this summer: Crossbones (NBC) and The Last Ship (TNT).

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Crossbones has had discussions of theology or a reference to the Bible in nearly all of its 5 episodes so far. What makes this more amazing is that this is a show about Pirates. A man named Tom Lowe has been sent by British gov't. to kill Edward Teach, or Blackbeard (played by John Malkovich). He finds a much more surprising person and community than expected and is put in a rather strange position.

We find Edward Teach far more knowledgeable of the Bible and theology than I would ever have thought. So far he has not had a beard at all, although this might be due in part to his age. The next episode should show more.

Be warned there is some sexual content and of course there is violence (and yes some gore, but not a huge unnecessary amount). This is a pirate show so where would it be without battles? I actually think that this show might make a good starting point for spiritual conversations because of how frequently they discuss the Bible. There is one episode (3 or 4?) where a character complains of Commodore Teach always talking to him about the Bible with a specific description of the story of the Prodigal Son's story. This character has no clue how vital this story is to his own self. If you have a friend you want to introduce to Jesus who loves Pirates, this show would be a good place for you to start.

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The other show is The Last Stand. In this we find a naval ship with a woman seeking to create a cure or a vaccine for a new virus that has infected/killed 80 percent of the world's population. The captain has decided to stay at sea to provide a safer spot for her to do her work. Firefly and Chuck fans will be pleased to know that Adam Baldwin joins the class as the ship's second in command. This show has far less sexuality than Crossbones but plenty of action.

This show has had 4 episodes and the newest one many thoughts on faith. The situation was rather predictable: the ship breaks down and they are low on drinking water. Something that happens in ship's tales quite often. We find that CMC Jeter leads some of the crew in a prayer time which also includes a quotation of a prayer of Moses. Of course, the actual prayer did not mention Jesus at all but it was still a lot more than I expected from a current show.

I honestly do think that mainline television is becoming more open to faith characters, but there is still some room to grow. I am enjoying both shows but I do find The Last Ship to have some predictability, but there are some surprises still in it that I am choosing not to spoil for you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Research is limited.

Have you read the story about the centurion? It is found in Matthew 8. This centurion comes to Jesus because his servant is sick. Jesus says "Shall I come and heal him?" The commander says: "No, don't come to my house. All you need to do is speak the word and it will be done, just like I order my soldiers and servants and they comply." Jesus was "amazed" at this. He immediately spoke the healing word and the man's servant was healed that same hour.

Reading this just now, I noticed something: this centurion didn't have to go to Jesus on behalf of his servant. He could find new servants. I doubt he was required by any Roman law to seek healing from the Son of God for his servant. But he did anyway.

Jesus than says that many will come from far away to sit at a dinner with God, but those in the kingdom would be thrown out to darkness.

You can research Jesus all you want. The Jews had done this. They had studied the Old Testament and all its prophecies of Christ over and over...but most still missed Jesus. They still did not understand who He is and what He is about.

This man, who had come from beyond their boarders and was not raised with the Old Testament, trusted Jesus. I don't know how many times he had watched Jesus heal someone. I'm guessing he might have seen it before, especially if he had been stationed in Capernaum for a while (Jesus did much in this city). He went beyond research to trust.

Some have said that research does not support the idea of the Bible being the Word of God. That research says that many "holy books" can lead someone to an enlightenment of some sort. Here is the thing: God is a being, not a system. You can't learn His ways merely through research. You have to talk with Him, spend time with Him.

I can tell you a lot about board games...but some, such as Star Wars Miniatures or Settlers of Catan or Heroscape, I can tell you more than others. Because I have played them again and again. Others I can tell you a little bit because I have researched them...but I have not experienced them.

I can tell you God is a God of love and grace. Not just because I have read about Him, but because I have experienced Him. My challenge to you is to seek to experience Jesus. Start by asking Him for it. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and be open to it. Don't do it as a test...just do it to find Him.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Earth is Better than Pandora

Last night I was watching Seaquest on Netflix.  We had a storm coming through, not a bad one at all, but still some lightning and thunder.  I decided to turn it off and sit for a while. We have an overhang on our patio so I pulled the blinders open and even opened the sliding door so I could just listen to the rain and thunder and watch the lighting.

While I sat there listening, watching, and having a moment enjoying creation, I thought of some of the scenes from Avatar. I love the Hallelujah Mountains and the colors of the forest in the movie. So much beauty...but still it was only made by humans with computers to make a movie.

I think we sometimes forget how amazing this planet is. We get so focused on our entertainment, but there is so much to explore in the real world.

In Genesis 1 God keeps saying "it is good" over and over. He uses the nature he created for examples in the Bible constantly.

I live next to Lake Michigan. I can walk there on some trails in around 20 minutes or half an hour. I have spent two summers in National Parks (Shenendoah and Smokey Mountains). While I was in the Smokeys we went to a part of the park where millions of fireflies come each year for about two weeks. They light up almost in sequence with each other. I have seen natural beauty in Ireland, China, Croatia, Slovakia, Switzerland and Jordan.

There is still so much I have not seen! Even in the parks I was in I did not see all that there was to be enjoyed. I have not seen the Grand Canyon or the Tetons or Old Faithful. I have yet to walk in the natural beauty of New Zealand and Australia.

With all of our fandoms and entrainment we need to remember that God has done an awesome job creating this planet. We need to explore and enjoy it. But then...we need to praise Him for it.  Actually, WITH it. All of creation worships God in some way.  When asked to stop his followers from praising Him, Jesus said "If they stop, the rocks and the trees will cry out!"