Tag Archives: scripture

Wait, I Left…What?!?

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 12.50.43 PMIf you’ve been following BREXIT, then you know what a wild week this has been. In voting to leave the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom shook up the political and financial world. But the thing that really seemed to anger the Internet is what happened afterward: Brits allegedly Googled en masse: “What is the EU?” AFTER the vote.

As might be expected, this news caused a stir. Were they really that ill-informed? Economies were wrecked! Fortunes evaporated! The pound was devalued! Mass BRysteria!!! Could they be that obtuse? Well, not exactly.

Many Brits did Google “What is the EU?,” or EU related questions after the vote, but it was thousands, not millions. Google recorded a high percentage of EU searches because of the time of day – between midnight and 4am. “What is the EU?” was, in deed asked several times, but it wasn’t nearly the outrage the internet thought it was.

Still, undeniably, many were ill-informed voters. And it raises a great question: are we informed about the decisions we make?

People in America are encouraged to vote. But they aren’t always well-informed. Campaign rhetoric riles people up, and they vote based on emotion. Then, (sometimes) they become better informed when it is too late. Emotional, rash decision are typically regrettable.

The church is not immune to this behavior either. Occasionally, people leave the church due to emotions, not facts. Only after they leave, do some bother to learn the importance of what they left.

I’ve sat down with people who have left the church. Many never understood what the church really was. They thought they could maintain a relationship with God on their own, without His church.

And then I tell them that God is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18). I teach them that we enter into Christ (Galatians 3:27), whose body is the church (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus died because of His love for the church (Ephesians 5:25).

And, those who are willing to search the scriptures and see for themselves, finally understand and react, “wait, I left…what?!?”

Become informed about how important the church is before you cast a vote to leave it. And if you’ve left…consider coming back. Unlike BREXIT, it doesn’t matter what those around you choose. In fact, no one can choose for you. Come back today to God’s open arms; He stands ready to receive you!

“Belief-less” Christianity? Don’t buy it!

John Shuck believes that religion was invented by humans; he believes that faith is a product of evolution; he believes that Jesus might have been a historical figure, but stories about Him are legend; he believes that God isn’t real; and he believes that there is no afterlife. Up until now there was a name for that, “atheist.” But Shuck has made news lately for demanding another name, ”Christian.” 

The reason this is news is because Shuck is a Minister with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), yet he doesn’t believe in God. And while a minister losing faith is nothing new, Shuck has an interesting twist. Losing faith didn’t cause him to leave the ministry. Rather, he glorifies a new gospel that he calls, “Belief-less Christianity!”

Now, at its root, this is just the logical conclusion of what C.S. Lewis bemoaned when he said that the word “Christian” had become meaningless – merely a “good person.” But there is something far more sinister at work here. Can one be a Christian and have no faith in Jesus? No faith in God? No belief in the afterlife?

Most Christians realize that the Bible exclusively teaches a faith-based religion. It always has been and always will be. There is no other way to practice it; and there is certainly no other way to be saved by it.

In the New Testament (ie., Romans 4, Galatians 3:6, Hebrews 11:19, and James 2:23), physical lineage is shown to mean nothing without faith. It is by faith that Israel has always been Israel. It is by faith that Israel was pleasing to God. It is by BELIEF in ACTION.

Christians are believers. Peter spoke among those who believed (Acts 1:15). At Antioch, believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Salvation, belief, and Christianity are intertwined (Acts 15:11, 16:31; Romans 10:9). There simply is no such thing (in scripture) as an acceptable and “belief-less” Christianity.

Yet, Shuck doesn’t appreciate being told that he isn’t a Christian. He doesn’t appreciate that “Christianity has placed all of its eggs in the belief basket.” In his congregation, people are encouraged to “bring your own God” or “none at all.” But he insists it is still “Christianity!”

Friends, I hope you see that the two positions are incompatible. The clearest teaching in scripture is that salvation is based on belief in Jesus, joining in his death, burial, and resurrection through baptism, and living a life in enduring faith. Shuck claims that “belief-less” Christianity is thriving, but don’t be duped. “Belief-less” Christianity…it is no Christianity at all.

I’ll keep my “eggs in the belief basket” over Shuck’s new gospel any day!

Chillax, New Words Are Ok…Sometimes

436736-scrabble-geocacheChillax. Language is a strange thing. It is always changing, always adapting to different vocabularies, levels of education, cultural influences, and the use of slang. In every generation, wordsmiths struggle to stay current while words and meanings change every day. It is even more challenging these days as gigabits of web jargon flood popular culture.

So how do language experts keep relevant with all those changes? Simple. Every now and then, they update. This Wednesday, we are going to see a big update…well, a big one if you play Scrabble.

This Wednesday, language expert Merriam-Webster will release the 5th addition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. In an effort to keep Scrabble relevant after 66-years, Webster is adding 5,000 new words! Though some traditionalists say, “it was fine the way it was,” many are applauding the effort to bring Scrabble to a new generation.

The update comes 10 years after the last addition, and includes technical jargon such as “vlog,” “geocache,” and newbies such as “selfie,” “hashtag,” and “buzzkill.” Some additions seem to have questionable staying power, such as, “frenemy,” “bromance,” “meh,” and “chillax.” Others should have been in a long time ago, such as “schmutz,” “texter,” and “funplex.” Finally, a couple latecomers include “mixtape” and “beatbox.”

The Bible has gone through a few changes over the years too. A short generation or two ago, everyone used the King James. Many newer translations such as the NASB and the ESV have been applauded as using relevant, understandable language while remaining true to the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic of the original manuscripts.

Regardless of translation, though, there are things that must be understood from every version, every language, and every preacher who preaches the truth of the Word. God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), through and by His Son (Colossians 1:16). Everyone who believes in Him (John 3:16), is baptized into Him (Rom 6:3-9), and walks in the light (1 John 1:7) will see eternal salvation.

If the Words of the Bible you are reading don’t tell you that important message, then you might as well throw it out. Adding words to Scrabble might not make purists happy, but adding and subtracting words that change the meaning of salvation will cause curses to fall upon those who would pervert the Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19).

We are not perfect messengers, and we admit our personal shortcomings, but if we speak the perfect message of scripture, the perfect Word of God will fulfill its perfect purpose.