Category Archives: Christ

No, Oprah is not a Christian

A lot of people like Oprah. She has a lot of interesting guests on her shows. As is the nature of the news/ entertainment industry, Oprah tries to examine the many layers, the many facets, of cultural interest her audience may enjoy or engage in. I cannot fault her for that. On the other hand, don’t be deceived. She is not an expert,nor should she have a place of endearment in the hearts of Christians seeking solace or wisdom. If you haven’t already seen it or read it, check out this piece by Ken Silva found on http://www.apprising.org:

OPRAH WINFREY IS NOT A CHRISTIAN

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on May 14, 2012 in AM Missives, Current Issues, Features, New Spirituality

As Apprising Ministries monitors the Net and social media one of the trends I’m seeing is postmodernism’s effects slithering more deeply into the professing Christian community. Combined with the sappy sentimentality spread by practice of ;Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism ;people are now deciding issues by their feelings.

My point being, ;it simply doesn’t matter one iota how we may feel about a given subject; it’s truth or falsehood is based upon factuality, not feelings. A case in point right now is Oprah Winfrey. Once again people are becoming convinced that the media mogul is a Christian. As a matter of fact, Winfrey even makes that claim herself. Continue reading

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New Life

Today’s brief post will be a nod toward C.S. Lewis. What Christian doesn’t love C.S. Lewis? I happened to read today’s portion of C.S. Lewis and, while seemingly basic, it is also profound and something we all need to be reminded of. Therefore I present for your consideration, or reconsideration, whatever the case may be, “New Life”:

“In the long run God is no one but Himself and what He does is like nothing else. You could hardly expect it to be.

What then, is the difference which he has made to the whole human mass? It is just this; that the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless ‘spiritual’ life, has been done for us. Humanity is already ‘saved’ in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation. But the really tough work – the bit we could not have done for ourselves – has been done for us. We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one Man in whom it was fully present, and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, He will do it in us and for us. Remember what I said about ‘good infection’. One of our own race has this new life: if we get close to Him we shall catch it from him.

Of course, you can express this in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ dies for our sins. You may say that the father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true.” (From “Mere Christianity”)

C.S Lewis’ imagery paints a vivid picture. For me, it also brings to mind pop culture’s current obsession with fantasy novels and movies. In the fantasy realm there are many stories that feature a central character struggling to discover and harness the mighty power that he or she knows resides within them. They train with a mentor or guide. They face distraction and struggle to overcome character flaws and lack of focus. Finally, in the midst of the swirling chaos of personal struggle, and usually with an ever encroaching evil enemy bent on their destruction rapidly approaching,They are forced to go deep within themselves, block out their distractions, accept who they are, and accept the magical gift they have been given, thus ripping through the barriers that were preventing them from accessing the power that was their birth right. A variety of stories may come to your mind that follow a similar format. I think one of the reasons I like these types of stories is because they mirror my own constant struggle to stay close to the power of Christ in my own life. Just like you, when you watch a movie or read a book and get frustrated at the character’s inability to see the truth, or see the solution right in front of his or her face, I get similarly frustrated. You can immediately see the parallels. We have a source of strength that truly is magical and wondrous. Yet, how deeply we connect to that source, and to what extent we appropriate it’s power, is up to us.

What do you think?

Reason, Religion, and Politics

Nothing ignites one’s personal passion, fury, excitement, etc, like religion or politics. Everyone knows it. Smart people steer clear of these topics with people they don’t know well, lest they risk a fight; physical or verbal. Recently I had this well-known truth exemplified for me once again at a local political caucus. Normally the local caucus is fairly tame event. This year, due to a number of factors, our local county caucus was imbued with power and importance.

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Blogging for Pastors: Tips & Thoughts

The odds are, since I’m writing this in a blog,  that I am probably preaching to the choir.  I certainly don’t stake any claim  as a master Christian blogger or social media maven.  Yet, as I become more involved in writing blogs, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, and involving myself in the blog/social media community, I cannot help but think how important blogging is, or could be, for pastors.  Of course I realize that I am nowhere even close to being unique in having this sort of epiphany.  The power of blogs and other social media platforms is readily apparent.

Blogging, tweeting, and the power of social media should not just be employed by pastors of large churches.  Without citing any sort of statistics,  If your congregation, home church, life group, etc, is made up people ranging from 16-50 years of age, the odds are that your “tribe” is at least minimally acquainted with technology and social media.  I would even venture to guess that a large and growing portion of your congregation has smart phones of some sort.  Americans love their gadgets.  As a pastor, no matter what size your church, it is irresponsible to not take advantage of the tools available to reach your audience in every way possible; especially since many of the tools are free. Continue reading

Spiritual Disciplines and the Christian Community

I hate working out.  Sure, I understand all the various benefits of exercise, and I want to experience those benefits in my life: health, energy, big muscles, etc.  My problem, and I’m sure I’m not alone, is that I am not a fan of running, lifting weights, or other such activities that produce health benefits.  When I was younger exercise was never an issue.  I played soccer, tennis, participated in martial arts and other cardio-type activities and exercises all the time.  As I’ve gotten older, and my life has gotten more hectic, I discover that I have a whole backpack full of excuses readily available to help me avoid strenuous cardio-related activity.  Eventually, as I can begin to see my waist-line expand, as my physical self-image begins to deteriorate, and as my clothes begin to reach their comfortable capacity, I force myself to address my less than desirable physical status.  Just like my love-hate relationship with physical activity/exercise, each of us has  our own situational breaking point where the consequences of our personal neglect becomes unbearable, and change becomes mandatory. Continue reading

Artful Armor

Once upon a time, as a child, I went backpacking with my father in New Mexico.  It was an incredible experience.  While there are many things I could focus on with regard to that trip, the one I will mention is my rock collection.  Like most children, I went through a phase where collecting pretty and shiny rocks was a powerful passion.  On that backpacking trip I discovered that The Rockies had an excellent assortment of collectible rocks.  I brought back tons of rose quartz and more than a few pieces of fools gold.  Until I was gently disillusioned, I was overwhelmed with “gold-fever.”  I just new I was going to be rich.  As I look back and try to remember what happened to “my precious” collection of rocks, I cannot help but remember my disappointment when I learned that all that glitters is not gold. Continue reading

Without Trade or Tillage: Pondering Providential Provision

Sometimes, in the midst of the forest of cultural, spiritual, financial, and personal trials, we forget to lift our minds and spirits upwards and remember our source.  This isn’t news. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of the primary personal perspectives that all Christian’s struggle to maintain. So, how does one maintain one’s balance living in the world while not being of the world? By looking backwards in order to look forwards. By looking inward and upward before looking outward. Don’t get stuck focusing on Maslow’s pyramid.

Turn your thoughts and hopes towards one the of the greatest, if not the greatest, biblical example of providential provision; the Israelite exodus from Egypt. The story of the Israelite exodus is a Sunday school favorite, and offers a great variety of lessons for readers to learn. The lesson I want to focus on regards God as a Christian’s source of sustenance and strength. Once you realize that God omnipotent is in charge your life, you will quit worrying about how to fight your inner and outer demons. No assault is strong enough to overpower Him, and nothing can penetrate your front lines without His permission. The Egyptians thought they had Israel dead to rights when they saw them march into a dead-end by the sea (Ex. 14:3). And so they would have been, but almighty power stepped in and brought them safely through. Then what? No sooner did they survive this danger, than they found themselves in a wilderness without so much as a roof over their heads. Yet, despite expectations of their soon demise, they lived for forty years without trade or tillage, and without begging or robbing any of their neighbor nations.

Can you imagine having no visible financial income, or even food source, for forty years? Do you wonder why the Israelites were occasionally skeptical of Moses‘ leadership and vision of a promised land? I don’t. I could easily see myself struggling with the stress of making sure my family was provided for. I worry about it now.

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What Makes Faith “Christian?”

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Where do you stand? Do you “shrink” with conditional statements of faith, or do you “step-up” and add to the conversation regarding Christ, faith, and life?

Average Us

If you ask the average man or woman on the street if he or she believes in God, you’re likely to get a “Yes.” In fact, most Americans say they believe in God despite the general secularism of American society.

❯ Yes, but…

But, probe a little behind that “yes,” and you’ll hear a lot of “Yes, but…”

  • “…but not like organized religion talks about Him.”
  • “…but not like the Bible portrays Him.”
  • “…but I’m not religious.” (i.e. “I’m not associated with a church”)

The fact is that modern Americans are largely “Yes, but…” believers. This allows them to keep the faith and spirituality they want, while divorcing faith from the religious trappings they don’t want: the Bible and the Church.

❯ The American Faith

How did American faith get this way? I blame American churches (of all kinds). On any given Sunday morning you could find a grab bag…

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Shoestring or Canvas

I’ll admit it.  I’m a little late to the new year’s feel good, motivational, power list of success building tools, blog party.  And that’s probably where this particular post will land, categorically speaking.  My thoughts, with regard to “Shoestring or Canvas,” have been inspired from a variety of sources. While I may not always proclaim boldly the sources from which a particular thought stream evolved, in this case they are certainly worth mentioning. The first component was an interview I heard on a Catalyst podcast with Jon Acuff the author of  Quitter, and other books.  The second component was from another podcast; Part 3: God’s Great Mission For My Life, a message by Rick Warren from the December 3rd 2011 Saddleback Church podcast.

Similar to other people, I find myself working a “day job” while pursing my true passion/calling on the side when I think I have the time.  Does that sound as crazy to you as it does to me?  Isn’t one supposed to live their dream job and pursue hobbies, or deal with the trivialities of life on the side.  Listening to Jon Acuff’s interview on Catalyst, which touched on his book Quitter – “closing the gap between your day job and your dream job,” hit me right between the ears.  No, I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, but it’s on my soon-to-read list.  Just the idea of needing to close the gap on living my passion and reversing the reality of my day and dream jobs stirred the stagnancy within my soul.  What am I doing, What do I want to be doing, and what am I actually doing, rather than just thinking about doing, to get there? Continue reading