July 27, 2013

No Laughing in Church

One Sunday morning, a two year old boy was standing on a church pew facing the congregation when something he saw made him giggle. His mother turned the boy around and made him sit down saying, “Stop it! There’s no laughing in church!”

Perhaps it’s time people start laughing in church, for according to Familyfacts.org, since 1970, those who attend religious services several times a year or weekly decreased by 29 and 26 percent, respectively.

On a website titled About.com Christianity, readers tell why they don’t attend church. Here’s a sample:

  • I don’t go because those people think they’re better than me.
  • As a single gay man I find that churches are not very welcoming.
  • One church asked me not to come back if I couldn’t wear a dress.
  • The pastors elevate those who sing the best and give the most.
  • I gave up because of politics, cliques, ostracizing and misuse of money.
  • Nobody ever notices if I’m there or not.

How sad that people give up worshipping with a congregation of believers when there are churches and synagogs where people are inspired, laugh, pray for those who need healing, welcome all visitors and feed the Lord’s sheep as Jesus commanded.

Nancy and I found a church like that:  Bluff Point United Methodist Church

You can too!

July 21, 2013

Founding Fathers Were Men of Faith

On June 29, 2013, in Bradford County Florida, 200 nonbelievers unveiled a monument to atheism. Etched on one side of the six-ton granite stone is an obscure phrase from the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, “. . .the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion . . .”

Certainly, the creators of the atheism pillar would have preferred a quote suggesting the United States was not created by men who believed in God, but the evidence suggests the Founding Fathers were, in fact, men of faith.

Dr. Harold Pease, a history and political science instructor at Taft College, who has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers, points out there are five references to God in the Declaration of Independence, a document which ends with these words:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” 
The Declaration is signed by fifty-six representatives and ratified by all the states in the union.

The fact is the Founding Fathers were spiritual men who believed in God. Most, if not all, were Christians. Certainly, that does not make the United States a Christian Nation, but it does make us a country founded by men of God, a fact that atheists would prefer that we forget.

July 14, 2013

Faith and Works

A man fell in a deep pit, and he couldn’t climb out:
  • A subjective person came by and said, “I feel sorry for you.”
  • An objective person said, “You are in trouble. That’s a fact.”
  • An EPA agent asked the man if he had a permit to dig the pit.
  • An IRS agent asked the man if he was paying taxes on the pit.
  • A miserable person complained, “You should see my pit!”
  • An optimist told the man, “Things could be worse.”
  • A pessimist told the man, “Things will get worse.”
  • A practical person observed, “Now that is a pit!”
  • A “fire and brimstone” preacher said, “You deserve the pit.”
  • A therapist said, “Believe in yourself and you can get out of the pit.”
  • A psychiatrist said, “Tell me about your childhood.”
  • A mathematician calculated the depth of the pit.
  • A reporter took notes to write a story about the man in the pit.
  • A Christian who believed that faith and works are linked, took the man by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.

Everyone who found the man in the pit had an opinion about his plight, but none of them did anything about his dilemma.

In a letter considered to be a how-to book on Christian living, James, the brother of Jesus, wrote:
“Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
Most Christians have the belief part down.  The question is, “Have they broken a sweat doing something about it?”

July 7, 2013

Acting on God’s Prompt

 In the 1990s, many Christians wore a wristband featuring the letters WWJD which represented the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” The phrase was a reminder that when faced with a moral problem, or the opportunity to help someone in need, the wearer should ask, “What does Jesus tell me I should do?”

If there are prophets in the twenty-first century to whom God speaks directly, I am not aware of them, but I do believe when faced with a moral dilemma or an opportunity to help someone in need, most believers do get a Spiritual nudge. 

In his new book, The 10-Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests that when we are nudged, we should act on God’s prompt immediately before other voices begin to suggest all the reasons we should not submit to his will.

De Graaf admits The 10-Second Rule is intended to give us practice for what he calls, “Entry-level obedience.” He refers to it as “a clever memory device to help us tweak our obedience skills.”
The Ten-Second Rule is best reserved for resisting every temptation and for acting on Godlike impressions to be kind, encouraging and generous.”
In the movie, Full Metal Jacket, a weary combat veteran tells an enthusiastic replacement who can’t wait to get into the war, “You talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” The Ten-Second Rule encourages us to be attentive to the voice of God, and to “walk the walk” when he nudges our heart.

Many thanks to DR Gary Schwantz who introduced me to The Ten-Second Rule.