Medina United Methodist Church
Medina United Methodist Church
Apple just announced that they were pulling an app by Exodus International –which aims to “help” gay individuals through the Bible’s teaching. Apple claims that the app directly contradicts Apple’s guidelines, and constitutes inappropriate hate speech, argued activists from gay-rights group Truth Wins Out.
If you watch the video below you can see that there is nothing malicious or hateful about the app or Exodus International. They are not pushing their views on anyone. They are simply offering a Biblical viewpoint to the Homosexual Lifestyle.
Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.” We are clearly living in those days. Unfortunately, I can see where all this might be going. It won’t be long before our pulpits are censured and it will be considered a hate crime to speak out against any sinful lifestyle. All I can say is, “God HELP US!”
If “Truth Wins Out,” would objectively look at the Exodus International’s website there is nothing in it that can be classified as “hateful.” The REAL issue is that they are offended by someone who has a different view. What I don’t get is why it doesn’t work both ways. I’m VERY offended by all the Gay Apps on iTunes, but if I complain about it suddenly I’m labeled a bigot or a homophobe! Just type in the word “Homosexual” in the search pane at iTunes and you’ll see everything from, “Gay Sex Positions,” to, “Gay Times” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I’m sick of walking on egg shells afraid that I might say (or write) something that might offend people. People have got to stop wearing their feelings on their shoulders and grow up! Nowadays all anyone has to do to silence anyone that has a different point of view is to say, “I’m offended by that.” (Unless your a Christian)
For Further Reading:
The Internet, Freedom of Speech and the Anti-Gay App (Forbes Magazine)
Hold Exodus Responsible for It’s Actions (Must Read!)
Debunking the Myths About Exodus and It’s Phone App
Iphone App Attack (Chuck Colson)
In the wake of disasters such as the recent Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan there are always people that ask the question, “Where was God and Why didn’t God do something?” Those questions outline what theologians often call “The Problem of Evil.” It’s been said that the “Problem of Evil,” is the Achilles Heel of Christianity and whereas it might appear so at first glance, I’m convinced that is not the case. Phillip Yancey in his book, “Disappointed with God,” does a tremendous job on getting a handle on the Problem of Evil.
Yancey describes the Problem of Evil in the form of a simple little family prayer that you’ve probably heard growing up: God is great, God is good. What normally follows is: Let us thank Him for this food. But to understand the problem of evil, Yancey changes it to: God is great, God is good, and there’s evil in the world. You see, that’s really the issue of disappointment with God. That little simple family prayer is filled with four statements of truth.
The first statement is that God Is. It presupposes that there is a God who does exits. A God who is real and personal. The second statement is that God is Great. He’s a God that doesn’t just exist, but a God who is all-powerful. The third statement is that God is Good. Meaning He’s all-loving. And then the fourth statement is There’s Evil in the World. Meaning there’s pain and suffering. Bad things happen to good people.
Now it doesn’t appear at first glance that all four of those statements can be true. I mean is it possible for a God to be all-powerful and all-loving and for bad things to happen to good people? So people have put out a lot of different so called solutions by eliminating one part or another in the equation.
How does a Christian deal with the Problem of Evil?
1. One option is to say, “We deserve what we get.” The reason why bad things happen to good people is simple, THEY DON’T… because none of us is good. So we are all getting what we deserve. One of the principles of the universe is that we reap what we sow Galatians 6:7, but to say that everyone who died in the Earthquake and Tsunami deserved it oversimplifies the problem and is just a little too callous for my taste. The truth is sometimes people get what they don’t deserve. You can’t always draw a simple one to one correlation between cause and effect.
2. Another option is something that Philip Yancey calls “The toxic waste in the water solution.” Picture for a moment all of us standing around Medina Lake for a moment and each of us have a bucket and in that bucket is toxic waste; and imagine that that toxic waste is a picture of our sin.
Senerio one says that you will get sick if you drink from your own bucket… which makes sense. There definitely is some truth to that. If I drink from my buck of toxic waste, I’m going to get sick.
Senerio two places all of us on the edge of Medina Lake pouring our bucket of waste into the lake. Suddenly I get thirsty and decide I want a drink, but as I look down at the lake I’m like, “I’m not drinking that, I know what I put in it.” So I walk down to the other side of the lake and I take a big glass out of that lake and drink it and I get sick and suddenly I get angry, “That’s not fair! I’m not reaping the consequences of my junk. My junk is on the other side of the lake. I’m drinking your junk!”
This solution does make a little more sense out of the problem because now I realize that I may not be getting a direct payback for what I did, but the truth is I have put more than enough junk into that lake to not only kill me, but everyone else and if I get sick… I’m just getting back what I deserve in general. Someone once said, “Anything I get that is better than hell is a gift.
3. A third option is to say that Bad Things Will Become Good Things. This is the idea behind Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
This option acknowledges that things may be bad… but it has hope that over time by God’s grace, that God will make something good out of those bad things. Probably every single one of us can look back at some event in the past and see how God has taken something bad in our lives and turned it into something good. However there might be some of you that are still waiting and that’s where faith comes in. Faith that somehow, someway, when we all get to the other side of this thing called life… God will make sense out of everything that confuses us.
I’ve often said that when I walk into heaven there’s going to be a big RED MARK on my head from me slapping my forehead with the palm of my hand and saying, “Oh… NOW I get it!” The Bible says that we see in a mirror dimly, but there will come a time when we shall see clearly.
My guess that about half of you are comfortable with these three options and that’s because half of us lead with our heads. We’re thinkers and these thoughts satisfy our soul.
However the other half lead with the heart. For those that lead with their heart, the problem of evil is not so much an intellectual problem as much as it is a heart problem. It’s not so much that you need to know something, but rather you need to know someONE.
Imagine you have a toddler (mine are all teenagers… PRAY FOR ME!) and that toddler walks up and sticks his finger in an electric socket and shocks himself. The last thing that little guy needs is for someone to come up to him and try to explain the fundamentals of electricity. For one thing, he’s not likely to understand it, but even more than that what he needs is for someone to comfort him.
When it comes to the problem of evil, I am convinced that none us can completely understand the answer, but even if we could… more than an answer, we need the ANSWERer.
I use to be so bent on having an answer to every problem in the world, but I’ve now come to the point in my spiritual life that I feel that I don’t have to know the answer to everything. I’ve found that it’s enough for me just to know WHO has all the answers. I would much rather know the AnswerER! The insight is this: The answerER has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
Charles Wesley on the Cause and Cure of Earthquakes
A Christian’s Reaction to the Crisis in Japan
Japan’s Earthquake and the Will of God by Adam Hamilton
Is Adam Hamilton Right About God and Japan?
Poll: Nearly 4 in 10 Americans say Natural Disasters Sign From God (Fox News)
Medina United Methodist Church
The Church (as a whole) got another black eye when a Houston church with the name of UNITY became so disunited that the pastor refused to serve Holy Communion. Houston Unity Baptist Church is a congregation of about 30 members. Members of the church claimed that Rev. Goodman asked for a show of hands of people who were willing to hand over their tax refund checks to the church. When no one raised their hands he then went on to refuse to serve them Communion!
Goodman has admitted to denying his congregation communion but said he did so because church members overall have failed to support the church financially — like giving money toward its new parking lot. He said only four or five members of the church actually donate, and he called the rest of his congregation “devils,” and went on to say how those “devils” need to come and get their demons cast out of them!
To see Fox News Report on the story you can go to this LINK.
William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn’s book, “The Fight Of Our Lives: Knowing the Enemy, Speaking the Truth & Choosing to Win the War Against Radical Islam” is a book written to wake up America to the dangers of Radical Islam. The book does a really good job at documenting at how wimpy we’ve become as a nation in really confronting terrorism. Why are we walking on eggshells?
Bennett & Leibsohn write, “The thought seems to be that if we speak nicely of Islam and ignore the terrorism it can produce, the Islamists will respect us more or lay down their swords. Such an understanding flies in the face of everything Islamists have told us; they want our defeat, not a refurbished détente that comes from soft language and retreat. (p.104)
What I found really eye opening is how the current Obama Administration is absolutely petrified of even mentioning the word “Islam,” in conjunction with the subject of terrorism. Bennett and Leibsohn write, “The term RADICAL ISLAM was employed to distinguish it from mainstream belief. But the Obama administration displays a shocking level of foolishness or knavery by downgrading and downplaying the connection between Islam and terrorism.” (p.103) (The book tries to be fair in laying out some claims against the Bush Administration as well.)
Bennett & Leibsohn quotes Professor Benard Lewis, “It is dangerous to exaggerate and is equally dangerous to ignore and neglect… most Muslims are not fundamentalists, and most fundamentalists are not terrorists… but most present-day terrorist are Muslims and proudly identify themselves as such.” (p.117) The facts speak for themselves. Most of all the power and money in the Islamic Community are in the hands of Radical Muslims. Just follow the money and it will take you places that you will be shocked!
The book does a tremendous job at substantiated all it’s claims with mountains of footnotes and indexes. (Tremendous Resource)
The chapter that I got the most out of was Chapter Seven entitled, “False Peace and True Peace,” in which Bennett & Leibsohn quickly disarm the argument that the Bible is more violent than the Koran. They write, “In the history of Christianity, there certainly are violent episodes where Christian leaders have committed, instigated, and justified bloody war –against others and themselves. But the New Testament itself is evidence to how such history and examples diverge and contradict the basic doctrines of Christianity. As Professor David Gelernter has pointed out, the New Testament is nearly a manifesto of pacifism, with emphases so common to our parlance that many people do not even realize their source. Put plainly… the highest and most revered person in all Christianity was not a warrior; rather, Christ taught his followers to bless their accusers and pray for their abusers. (p.111)
They go on to say, “Let us not excuse Christian violence in the past or present, but let us underscore the difficulty in justifying acts of violence based on Christian morality as taught in the New Testament,” and raise the question, “Can a reader of these words count on an entire hand the number of Jewish terrorist or criminals who have cited the Bible to justify their actions? Can a reader count on an entire hand the number of Jewish terrorist at all?” (p.112)
By contrast the Koran instructs, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah… Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them… Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites! Hell shall be their home, an evil fate speak for themselves. (p.115)
In conclusion Bennett & Leibsohn issue the challenge to all who would call themselves a progressive or reformed Muslim, “A truly reformed Muslim would lament extreme Islam and would denounce the application of Sharia law, prohibit polygamy and underage marriage, and extend social and legal equality to nonbelievers, and would weigh in against terrorism everywhere and always.” (p.125)
The next time a spokesman from a group such as The Council on American Islamic Relations seeks special consideration on behalf of Islam or American Muslims, ask them what he thinks of Hamas. Ask them if Hamas is a terrorist organization. Ask them if violence is ever justified against American or Israeli civilians. Ask them who was responsible for 9/11 and if any of it was justified in any way. The fight that we are in really is not only a fight of our lives, but a fight for our lives.
I found the book timely and relevant. This is not a book to sit back and enjoy, but rather a book to be informed about a current crisis in our country. I was expecting the book to be more religious than political. It wasn’t until chapter seven that the book began to touch on some of the major ideological differences between Islam and Judeo/Christianty. However, I am glad that the authors took the time to research and document the current disturbing trend concerning Radical Islam with a thorough index in the back of the book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Booksneeze Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nineteen years ago I married my BEST FRIEND… Annie (I’m the only one allowed to call her that). Funny, I thought it was just eighteen years till I pulled out the calendar and did the math. Chuck Swindoll once said, “Marriage is like a screen door… those on the outside want to get in and those on the inside want to get out.” I’m the exception to that rule. I’m very content in being inside the confines of marriage. Is my marriage perfect? No, because people aren’t perfect. But one thing is for sure: I’m glad I married her and I definitely got the better deal in the arrangement. I can think of very few women who would put up with being a Pastor’s wife (In our 19 years of marriage we’ve moved to 5 different congregations!)
What has been the secret of almost 20 years of marriage? Two things:
(1) FAITH in Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:19 says that we love because Christ first loved us. Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary, “By nature, we know little about love (Titus 3:3–6); God had to show it to us on the cross (Rom. 5:8) and plant it in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).”
(2) A proper understanding of what LOVE is.
When I think of Love, I think of Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
NASB: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
There is nothing in those verses that describe LOVE as a feeling. Yet too often that’s what we’ve restricted love to being. Love isn’t so much something you feel as much as it is something you DO. Love is a VERB! Everything in those verses describe something you DO whether you FEEL like it or not.
Someone once said that FEELINGS often follow ACTIONS. In other words, if you act like you LOVE someone, the FEELINGS will eventually follow. I think too many people check out of a relationship when the feeling are gone. Love is a COMMITMENT.
I don’t always “feel” in love with Anna (I’m sure she could say the same thing about me) but that’s where FAITH both in Christ and in His ability to enable me to LOVE comes into play. The beautiful thing I’ve found in my faith… is that my relationship with Christ has deepened my love for my wife and vise versa. Imagine LOVE being a triangle with Christ at the apex and the Husband and Wife at each corner of the base. As the husband and wife grow closer and closer to Christ they in the process become closer and closer to one another.
Happy Anniversary, ANNIE… I would do it all over again!
Medina United Methodist Church
Chuck Thomas (Guest Preacher)
You can check out his blog at this LINK.
Ash Wednesday (February 9th) marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 day period (not counting Sunday’s) before Easter. It is a time of preparation for Easter. It’s also a time that we intentionally become more reflective as to what our Salvation cost God… His Son. It’s a somber time.
In some ways, I get a little confused by some of the events leading up to Lent. Some churches celebrate FAT TUESDAY or MARDIS GRAS, the day before Lent officially begins. This festivity is actually hundreds of years old. The practice can be traced to the word CARNIVAL. If you look up that word it literally means, “Farewell to the flesh.” The tragedy is that the practice has become more of a time of indulging the flesh. If you travel to certain places… it’s a time where anything goes! If you don’t believe me go to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I believe God is deeply grieved by such practices.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8
Traditionally, Lent is a time in which a lot of Christians choose to give up something. The idea is that whenever you miss whatever you gave up… you can then think about how much more God gave up in sending His only begotten Son. The practice of Lent still has merit today. This Lent, I want to encourage you to give up something…but I also want to encourage you to replace whatever you give up with something good. In other words… add something significant. For example: if you give up a half hour sleep each night, replace that half hour with a time of personal devotion. God deserves our very best and what better time to remember that than Lent. Of course, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Whatever you decide to do for Lent needs to simply be a response to what God has already done through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Generation EX-Christian by Drew Dyck is a book that addresses the question, “Why young adults are leaving the faith?” but also deals with the question, “How to bring them back?” The author spent a lot of times dialoguing and trying to understand the mindset of the average person that leaves the faith. He uses real examples from the people that he has interviewed (changing the names and details to protect people’s privacy)
The book is timely. Especially with the fact that 70% of youth leave the church by the time they are twenty-two years old. The Barna Group even estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are twenty-nine years old. (p.17)
Drew Dyck describes 6 different types of people (lost sheep) that leave our churches. Each section is divided into three parts in which the person and mentality is described and then suggestions are made on how to reach out and reconnect with them.
1. The Postmodern
Postmodernism believes that there is no such thing as objective truth, reality, value, reason, and so on. It holds that there is a different truth” for each person. Experience –not rationality –is the key to finding that truth. (p.27)
Reaching Out to the Postmodern:
Talking to leavers with a postmodern worldview can be frustrating because they place experience above reason. Dyck suggests talking about YOUR experience. When telling your story, Dyke points out, “It’s especially crucial to avoid slipping into the traditional ‘testimony’ rut. Remember, you are speaking with people who have likely heard dozens of testimonies. They know the formula well and they can tell when you’re adapting your experience to fit the mold. They will be far more impressed with transparency. Be honest with them about your struggles and even your doubts.” (p.36) Avoid arguing for the legitimacy of the gospel based on reason and science. (p.37) The important thing is to build trust.
Dyck writes, “Postmoderns prefer to discover truth through experience rather than reason… and they also have a strong social conscience and willingness to serve the poor and oppressed,” he goes on to write, “You can honor these admirable characteristics by inviting them to participate in service projects with you and other Christians.” (p.39)
Recoilers are those who have had a negative experience in the church. They are the ones who have, “suffered abuse and vowed that they would never take the chance to be victimized again.” (p.49) They are people who, “feel directly hurt or disappointed by God… and sometimes hold God responsible for experiences as disparate as extended spiritual dryness to misfortune in life.” (p.59)
Reaching out to the Recoilers: It’s important to let them tell their story. Dyck quotes Psychologist Gunnoe, “First, you have to send the message that you’re there for that person emotionally. ‘I will cry with you… I will curse with you,’ only then can you hope to talk through other things.” Empathy –not arguments –is what they truly need at this point. (p.65) It’s also important to eventually enable them to delineate between God and the people that hurt them. Finally, Dyck points out, “We have rich truths to offer the recoilers in our lives… the Bible is a deep well for the abused and broken.” (p.67)
3. Modern Leavers
This describes the Atheist. They leave the faith for intellectual reasons. Dyck points out, “Unlike the postmodern leavers… they love linear thinking, objective truth and the Western tradition of rational thought.” (p.74)
Reaching out to the Modern Leaver: The frustrating part of dialoguing with the Modern Leavers is that you don’t have a common line of argument. You can’t really argue from the Bible, because they reject it as the ultimate truth source. The Modern Leaver often loves to debate. Dyke points out, “Your job isn’t to straighten out all their opinions; it’s to light the path back to Christ.”
When someone rejects Christianity it’s perfectly valid to ask the to consider if the alternative is more satisfying. (p.97) It’s also appropriate to launch out with apologetics (C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel). Dyck points out, “These aren’t people who are shy about truth claims… they just have different truth claims… so lay yours out with conviction.” (p.100)
This encompasses (but not limited to) the modern day Wicca Movement. According to Barna 55% of Americans have never even heard of Wicca and yet it’s growing at a staggering rate… doubling every thirty months! (p.110)
Wicca is derived from the word witchcraft and is a neo-pagan earth based religion. Dyck points out, “Wiccans worship a goddess and a god, practice magic, worship nature, and engage in seasonal rituals… they believe in a unifying energy present in nature that can be manipulated through magic to bring personal rewards such as love, financial blessing, and general happiness… they deny a transcendent deity; the goddess and god are merely manifestations of nature’s energy… Wiccans regard themselves as divine, and freely refer to themselves as gods or goddesses as well.” (p.111)
Reaching the Neo-Pagans: Wiccans often have negative feelings toward Christians because we have repeatedly twisted and misrepresented their beliefs. Dyck points out, “the first step in defusing these negative feelings is to demonstrate a familiarity with their basic beliefs.” (p.121) We also need to demonstrate care for the environment. Finally in addition to praying for them, it’s important to share spiritual experiences. Those who leave the faith for the neo-pagan religions often complain that Christianity is a dry and boring religion.
This category basically describes the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. This is the person who rebels for hedonistic motives. Moral Compromise plays a real strong role in the Rebel.
Reaching the Rebel: Dyck points out that, “decrying their sin is not only futile, but can be counterproductive.” (p.146) Instead, it’s important to speak to them about their relationship with God. Other suggestions include giving them a cause. Ray Rayborn, the founder of Young Life once said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.” Also look for “Moments of Heightened Receptivity,” in which we demonstrate he freedom and joy that comes from serving God…but above all it’s important to PRAY.
These are what Dyck calls, “Slow motion leavers,” they don’t, “exit in sudden spasms of skepticism or rebellion… instead they leave gradually…” (p.159)
Reaching the Drifter: Dyck points out that sometimes the biggest danger to Christianity is Christians. We need to raise the bar and expose them to the demands and challenges of the Gospel. Too often we expect too little of one another when Jesus demanded it ALL! Deep down inside we all want to be challenged to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The book was an easy read. It was especially engaging because it told the story of real people. I saw the book as a personal challenge for me to get out and actively live out and demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ. I especially liked the fact that the book didn’t just describe the problem, but gave some solutions in reaching out to the people that have left the faith.
FTC Disclaimer. I received this book free in exchange for a unbiased review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”