I am not posting much these days, I had an exorcist come by the house and begin to rid my computer of Microsoft (The Beast) products. So I have been playing with and learning Linux…amazing what you can do for FREE!!!!! More posting tomorrow…killer sermon yesterday “I don’t have to sin anymore!” that is good news. It isn’t posted on the church site just yet…look for the link or keep checking back at www.nuevocommunitychurch.org.
I often hear Christians say: “all things in moderation.” I had heard it so often that I began to think it was in the Bible. It isn’t. I have been a pastor for twenty years, a seminary graduate (Masters of Divinity with honors, toot-toot), a college graduate with a degree in Religious Studies. I have read the Bible numerous times over and assumed this familiar mantra was in the Bible. But, lo and behold, it is not there.
The logical follow up would be, well maybe then the quote isn’t in the Bible, but certainly the idea is. Moderation certainly is a Biblical virtue, is it not??? Two quotes for your digestion and contemplation:
Thomas Paine once said, “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”
Martin Luther King Jr. from his Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 1963):
“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
These statements were made in response to his criticisms of white moderate Christians and Jews who stood by idly watching injustice:
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
Maybe the key is picking the right thing to be extreme about.
The following is a letter I send to the men in our church on a weekly basis, NCC Men’s Weekly Update. I include it here because I think it is significantly simple and helpful to men and their marriages. Maybe someone out there can use the info. The letter is directed to men, but some on the list have shared e-mail addresses so I have some notes to the women to cease reading. They are somewhat tongue in cheek, although in my experience, some women resent their men doing things because the pastor gave them a list…go figure. If that is you, maybe you should avoid reading.
Read this article from the London Times entitled: An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change.
Another post I need to write is how conservative political philosophy in America has come to be regarded as Christian philosophy. The environment is one of those areas that we have given over, and given up on as Evangelicals. Now there is a discussion that needs to happen. Imagine, our first commandment in the Bible (which arguably may be the only commandment in the Bible) is being spurned by the modern Christian. Do you know any Christians who belong to environmental groups? Do you know of any Christian environmental groups? I would say you do not, mostly because you view environmental issues and environmentalists as “whackos” to quote you know who. Careful you don’t formulate your whole world view based on radio talk show hosts.
Regardless of what you “think” the cause of global warming is, there is no excuse for Christians not caring for the earth, whatever that might mean. We better start discussing it, not because of a doomsday fear, but because we fear God, the maker of heaven and earth.
Check out the following links to start your own investigation and discussion
- Christian Environmental Association – Target Earth
- Evangelical Environmental Network & Creation Care Magazine
- Acton Institute Links Page: Judeo Christian Environmental Organizations
- Au Sable Institute
My good friend Roy Goble and his wife D’aun started the Christian Environmental Association, and Gordon Aeschliman also a friend from college days was the President of CEA for a while.
ht: Planet Preterist, Virgil Vaduva
Sonnet 116. William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his heighth be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
I ran across a blog where a person was charting their spiritual journey/restoration and they posted this song as part of “their song” – I am not a big country fan, but I was moved by this song and its message.
Wow, the church could use more of this attitude don’t ya think?
Today’s headline in the LA Times: Airline service experiencing a bumpy ride. The opening line of the article says: “A new government report confirms what many travelers already suspected – 2006 was a tough year to fly.”
This was the top headline this morning, and as I examined the article I discovered that the whole story was much ado about nothing. The article admitted as much when it said: “Despite improvements in some areas – flight cancellations and overall consumer complaints actually fell compared with 2005 – some experts say the numbers bear out the feeling of many travelers that flying has become an ordeal.”
- Despite improvements…in overall consumer complaints
- Some experts say…
- The feeling of many travelers…
Those statements are not exactly compelling. When you examine the actual statistics the difference between this year and prior years, this year being the “worst in years” in some categories, you find that the statistical difference was so small as to be hardly worth mentioning. One of the differences was a rise from 6.4 incidents per 1,000 to 6.7 incidents per 1,000. Uh-oh!!
Here is what this article should demonstrate to you:
- Newspapers are not about accurately portraying truth.
- Statistics can be made to say many things.
- Many people draw conclusions from headlines without investigating the claims made and often not even reading the article.
- We are easily manipulated.
I was drawn to this article for a number of reasons. It was the headline! Above the fold, front page! It said something about the editors sense of the importance regarding this story. Surely something important and significant was going on in the airline industry. As soon as I began reading I felt the manipulation. Another article designed to talk about how bad things are, when in actuality they aren’t!!! I thought to myself: How many people will now view travel more negatively than they already do, for no significant reason? The great majority of travelers regularly get to their destination with baggage in hand on time at speeds unheard of just 50 years ago.
We as a people cultivate dissatisfaction. As a nation, we encourage complaining. It has become one of the many things that has driven our economy and progress. So in a twisted fashion we engage in grumbling.
Now normally I have very little interest in business stories and I don’t travel all that much so the article was not connected to me directly. But it does demonstrate how opinion is shaped.
Let the reader beware!
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Don’t get me wrong…I will watch and enjoy watching the Super Bowl and I love soccer. Here are some ramblings on our sports culture/idolatry.
Student-Athletes: In today’s LA Times Sports section is an article about USC student athletes who will not get credit for a course taken at the local trade tech during summer school. Think about this for just a moment. These athletes have the huge privilege of attending one of the premier educational institutions on the west coast on scholarship, and they don’t get it. They don’t understand the opportunity and the accomplishment that comes with taking the best classes from the best professors at one of the best academic institutions. Taking the easy course at the local JC is like leaving Tommy’s and going to McDonalds. It is like leaving Ruth’s Kris steakhouse to eat at Sizzler! But our culture is buying the mythology that being a pro athlete is more important than receiving a quality education. How sad to be in this wonderful environment in which to grow and be challenged, and to spurn it for an easy grade, to just get by. Beware the attitude of the minimum factor; it used to be that student-athlete was an accurate description. I am against employing students for their athletic involvement. They are receiving an education, which as Master Card has immortalized, “is priceless.”
Gambling: Our local paper ran an article on gambling and the NFL yesterday. Some of these observations were made. The NFL and gambling are synonymous. The NFL is the gambling sport in our culture. Americans will gamble over a billion dollars on football this year. 80 million dollars will be wagered on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas alone. These figures do not include the wagering done in office pools and other privately organized (and probably illegal) pools. The NFL tries to distance themselves from gambling, but recognizes the pull of the fan to the sport that is created by the opportunities to wager. They tacitly participate in the activity by releasing things like the weekly injury report. It used to be that you didn’t want your opponent to know and then prepare for you based on your available players. Now, we publish the report so that the line can be adjusted accordingly.
Soccer: What is up with the soccer players dominance of the NFL? Players named Vanderjagt and Gramatica have become stars in the NFL and they really cannot play football. Most of them are probably not “athletes” at the professional level, they couldn’t even make their college soccer team. But they are on the field at crunch time in the NFL. I cannot stand it when the game is on the line, THE SUPER BOWL is on the line, and the coach plays it safe so that he can send out the soccer player to win the game. Mr. Clutch in the NFL doesn’t bear the name West or Jordan or Jackson, rather we call on Vinatieri! Some rule suggestions (I know no one is listening):
- If you don’t have a position and haven’t actually played in the game, you can’t kick (bring back George Blanda)
- No field goals allowed in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Now we have a game. How about a goal line stand to win the Super Bowl? I would rather watch Payton Manning on the field as the clock ticks down to 0:00 than Doug Brien, Robbie Gould or whatever the Chicago Bears Kickers name is.
Beware that eating meat offered to idols doesn’t lead you to idolatry.