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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You can take the the politics of of the church...

The laws in the United States governing separation of Church and State were written to protect religion from the control of the government.  As we all know, the opposite has become the common mis-interpretation.  Most people now believe that these laws are in place to keep the religious community from becoming 'too controlling' in the direction of the country.

Do your own research and you will see the original intent of the founding fathers, but hurry, history is being rewritten constantly.  I urge you to read their writings and see for yourself.

With that said, I get to my point.  You can take politics out of the Church, but you can't take the Church out of politics!  What do I mean by that?  Well, the law prohibits churches, or pastors for that matter, from endorsing specific candidates.  I believe that is an attack on my freedom of speech actually, but I'm not really trying to go there today.  If asked, I would be glad to tell someone who I am voting for but I'm restricted from urging others to vote similarly. Not fair!  Anyone else can do that... why not me?  Because the secular world is afraid of the mouth 'pieces of the religious community'.

Why should they be afraid of the religious right?  There is really nothing to fear. Yes, we have an agenda.  Our agenda is to be the salt of the earth, to preserve it.  Our agenda is to be the light of the world.  Yes, to keep the darkness from taking over. Our agenda is to keep this great nation, great, like our founding fathers envisioned it to be.  Our agenda IS NOT, however, to control government or to force others into Christianity. Rather the agenda of the religious right, as I see it, is to keep a check on government to make sure it serves us rather than us becoming it's servant, to protect the morals this nation was founded on, and to keep secure our right to share our faith with others.  We don't want to force Christ on anyone.  Why would we?  That would do neither us, nor the one upon whom He was forced, any good.

Here is the truth though, no matter how many laws there are restricting what we can, or can not say, about politics we have a duty as Christians to uphold a greater law, the Law of Christ.  Which simply put, is to love.  We must love in spite of the love, or lack of love, returned to us.  We love first and foremost, Christ, then family and somewhere still toward the top of the list is this country. Similarly, we have to speak the truth, whether it is received or not, and we must do our best to be a preservative, because these things are mandated by Christ.

I know the majority rules. I understand that we cannot set up Christ's Kingdom in the United States. That is not the goal.  Jesus will set up His Kingdom Himself, when He's ready, but like Jeremiah, I can not be silent!  Like the New Testament church in Acts, the more we are demanded to be silent the louder we should become.

You can take politics out of the Church, and I may not be able to publicly endorse a candidate, but you can never really take the Church out of politics because the Church in this country is made up of free citizens, and  like everyone else we, have the right to make our opinions known.  Get involved Christians, don't be afraid to let your opinion be known and your vote count.  Vote what you believe!

Friday, March 2, 2012

If Jesus had a Church...

What if Jesus came to your hometown and planted a church?  Would you go?  Rather, would you make that your home church? We all know we must answer yes here, if we want to feel like good Christians but the answer would probably, more realistically, be no.

Okay, here’s the scenario…
You live in a town that is already very religious.  The gospel has been preached here for years.  There is a church on nearly every corner. There is a Baptist Church just around the corner from where you are now.  A Methodist Church is two streets away.  There is a Lutheran Church, or maybe two, at the center of town.  There is a Catholic Church, and now even a Non-Denominational Church, which is usually code for ‘Charismatic’ or 'Pentecostal'.

You may have already found your place. Perhaps you grew up in your church and plan to be there until you are carried out ten toes up.  Perhaps on the other hand, you’ve tried almost every church in town and so far haven’t found one that suits your tastes or worship style.

In recent years ‘church’ has become a place of preference.  We all seem to gravitate toward some place that suits us. Preaching styles, congregation size, Hymns or Praise and Worship songs, stuffy or free, spirit filled or seeker friendly, are but a few of the choices that are available to church goers.

If Jesus had a church…? Wait let’s call him Pastor Joshua, since Joshua is another translation of Yeshua (Jesus). If Pastor Joshua came to your town to plant a church, who would attend? Well I guess it really depends on what his church would be like.  Would that church be a place that you would want to make your home church?  I seriously doubt it!

Most of us would visit once or twice, but wouldn’t stay. Why?  We wouldn’t attend regularly because, like it or not, most of us are either too set in our religious ways or too in love with the world around us.

Here’s what it might look like at “Pastor Joshua’s” church.
There would always be large crowds of transients just passing through, because many would come to see the miracles.  Yes, miracles! Pastor Joshua has a ‘gift’.  It has been said that in his services blind people have gained their sight, deaf people began to hear, and even a few dead people have come back to life… Well, that’s what I’ve heard anyway, but we would have to go see for ourselves.

The crowds would also love the feeding program. Food always draws a crowd, you know it as well as I do.  He and a few guys who came to town with him to plant the church, have been known to give thousands of hand-outs when he suspected people were hungry.

He is very direct though, maybe even too rude with his bold statements. Most don’t really like that in a preacher.  The rumor is that a little while back, he was having a discussion with some of the greatest theological minds at a top seminary nearby.  When they spoke about their great faith in God and what they believed it took to have fellowship with God, he actually called them hypocrites right to their faces!  Yes, it was the most educated pastors in town which he scolded, in public, and to their faces.

Speaking of education, He doesn’t really have much.  He used to work in the construction business and doesn’t really have a degree, or any formal bible training for that matter.

He hangs out with a pretty bad group of people too. He has been seen in the street with prostitutes. He sometimes eats dinner with some really sinful people, gluttons and drunks. He has friends who work for the IRS, not just auditors but those who going out and ‘forcefully’ collect taxes that are due.  Actually, some of the guys who are helping him plant his church are sailors, who used to work on commercial fishing boats.  We all know what their language can be like.

When he preaches he tells a lot of stories.  His style is like that of a teacher, and he preaches kind of long sometimes.  He is extremely black and white in his views, even narrow minded. He says that there is just one way to get to heaven and believes that all other religions are false. He talks a lot about sin and even Hell.  Aren’t we kind of past all that stuff?  People seem to like the feel good stuff better, but he doesn’t seem to care.

He may have some anger issues too, because once when he was visiting another church he got so angry that he turned over a bunch of tables in the foyer where some guys were simply trying to sell some things to make a living.

Here’s the clincher, He seems to have delusions of grandeur.  He believes that he is actually the Son of God.

No, if a pastor like Pastor Joshua came to our town to plant a church most of us would think he was a lunatic.  We would steer clear of that church saying: He’s too dogmatic, he preaches too long, he is intolerant, and the list of complaints would go on and on.

If Jesus had a church there would only be a few in membership, and they would probably be a pretty radical and rigid group.  If Jesus had a church most of us wouldn’t like his message, or his bold personality, or his doctrine.  We’d stay right where we are, where we can feel comfortable and hear the kind of sermon we like.

If Jesus had a church it would be over on Narrow Way, just off Broad Street, and we don’t really like that part of town.

Oh, by the way, Jesus does have a church.