Archives For December 2005

New News

December 29, 2005 — 12 Comments

Well, most of you probably already know about my meetup with fellow bloggers Alex and Brett Harris, and saw our one picture–but it seems others have gotten a hold of these (not including the National Scoop). It seems some small press got a hold of our photos, and has released them as “warnings” to people, telling them that we are leaders of “the rebelution.” The claimed that three young men met up at Ruby Tuesday’s to discuss their plans, and that one was a special agent. To protect their identities, they decided to change costumes–and faces. Take a look:



And to my amazement this one had to show up…I guess they figured out we all have doubles who follow us around to throw off our pursuers.

Hope you had a good laugh. Posting will be spotty the next few days, but keep stopping by to see if anything has happened. Also, if you were invovled in the alcohol debate here on the blog, Square Talk will be doing a show on it, where you can call in beforehand to tell us what you think. So fire away!

Blogger Meetup

December 22, 2005 — 18 Comments

I was going to write something long, and did write something long, but it didn’t fit. I wanted to share with you some fun that I had last Friday. I got the privilege of meeting two good friends, and bloggers, whose names some of you may recognize: Alex and Brett Harris.

We had a great dinner, and a great discussion about our goals, our blogs, why our blogs are succeeding, and the future. We discussed networking, blogs that we read, podcasting, our families, our writing opportunities, the Harris’ future plans, and business cards. It was great to meet these two great guys who really encouraged me.

Now, the night would not be complete without a photo shoot–so here we are (I’m the guy in the undercover street clothes and the halo):

So, there you have it. If you have any more questions, fire away in the comment section.


Elkton, Maryland, is one of the most populated towns in the state. In the 20th Century, the large town had established a name for itself as am extremely popular marriage destination. Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, actors Burt Lahr and Joan Fontaine, basketball star Charles Barkley, and former US Attorney General John and Martha Mitchell, were all married in this town.

Ironically, the school system of this town has decided and stated that marriage is not something that they teach in their curriculum.

An art contest that asks pupils to draw pictures promoting marriage will be allowed to proceed in Cecil County, after school officials initially balked at joining the federal initiative.

The marriage debate began when a local group, called Marriage Works of Cecil County, sent the schools fliers offering pupils up to $350 to design billboards endorsing marriage.

The marriage group is part of a nationwide initiative undertaken by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The initiative provides grants for public advertising campaigns promoting marriage, among other things.

“Healthy marriage is the best social program there is,” said Nicholas Ricciuti, director of the Cecil County Department of Social Services.
Click here to find out more!

But school authorities were taken aback by the billboard contest and initially said they wouldn’t participate.

Barbara Wheeler, the school system’s associate superintendent for education services, told the Cecil Whig it would be inappropriate for the school system to promote a contest that deals with a subject outside the purview of the state curriculum.

“We’re in the business of instruction, so when material comes to my office the first thing I look at is whether it is in line with the voluntary state curriculum we teach,” Wheeler said. “I looked into our health curriculum and found that marriage is not something we teach.”

Educators also worried about what the art contest would say to children whose parents aren’t married.

Now, a few things here. (1) They are right in being somewhat concerned about the children whose parents aren’t married, (2) I don’t understand why they don’t teach about marriage but enjoy talking about gay marriage, (3) it’s amazing how jumpy schools get when you mention the “M” word.

“We don’t just distribute fliers in classes without having some discussion about the material, and I was concerned about how that would make some of our students feel,” Wheeler said.

Last week, Wheeler and other educators met with the Marriage Works group to chart a compromise. School officials said they’d allow the art contest fliers to be distributed, but teachers wouldn’t encourage students to compete.

Now, as I said, they’re perfectly right in being concerned, but not encouraging students to compete? I agree with Ricciuti. The educators are overdoing it. And I think something deeper than a concern for the children may lie here.

Ricciuti said educators were too worried about making students feel bad.

“We’re not saying that those people who are not married or are divorced are in any way bad,” Ricciuti said. “We’re saying that healthy marriages are more likely to reduce social problems before they occur.”

Exactly. Healthy marriages are more likely to reduce social problems before they occur. Why can’t people understand that? The basic building block of society is the family, yet we want to throw it away. It’s seen in programming on television. It’s seen in decisions made in courtrooms across the country.

Now, let’s think about the statement of Barbara Wheeler, who said “I looked into our health curriculum and found that marriage is not something we teach.” What do they teach? What is their health curriculum? And why does it not mention marriage? What does it discuss?

Well, we pretty much can know. And I doubt it’s the sanctity of marriage. It’s the humanistic teachings that glorify man and promote tolerance and acceptance of all religions. We’re all good deep down inside, and education will fix all of man’s problems. Or not.

So, all I did was manually restart the computer–and it decided to do a system check and delete all of my emails, my mom’s emails, and my dad’s emails–and the address book. So, what do I need you to do?

First, download the latest Square Talk on Narnia…then fire me an email telling me that you’ve done that. In that way, I’ll have your email address, and Square Talk will be happy. And if you want to take a extra step, you can go ahead and call and leave a comment about the Narnia show, or wait awhile and call in when you know the next show’s topic, which may be on alcohol. So, call into the not so live Square Talk at 206-888-4STR.

It was somewhat humorous to recieve some comments asking where in the world was I and when would I be back to answer their questions. Well, it’s Christmas time, mind you. I have relatives over. And well…I met some people you’d be interesting in hearing about. But, I can’t post anything more about it until later tonight because I want you to see the pictures. And my dad has the pictures, not me. Small problem. I also took time to watch Narnia, which I give a hearty 5 stars and two thumbs up.

So folks, drop me an email, listen to my show, make me happy.

“‘Everything is permissible’–but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’–but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
–1 Corinthians 10:17

Quite an interesting verse in light of our recent discussion about consuming alcohol, the effects of it, and what the Scripture says about it. It’s a controversial topic–one I’m not afraid to tackle. It needs to be wrestled with, and I hope the truth shines through.

A lot has been said. Every side has basically weighed in. We have every extreme talking, we have people in the middle, and we have people leaning one way or the other.

I have promised to look at the issue once more, and to examine especially the comments of Steve McCoy, Joe Thorn, Derek Wallace, and One Salient Oversight, as well as a few others.

Steve–it’s your turn first.

But you have worked pretty hard to isolate the passages on drunkenness and these aren’t anti-alcohol but anti-abuse…We should rather seek to use the gift in the way God intended. That means abstinence is not a biblical position.

I can take that two ways–I can take it as you saying “Christians are not allowed to drink” is not a Biblical position or I can take it as “saying drinking is not best for Christians” is not a biblical position.

Now, if I assume you were speaking about the first instance, then I would agree. I never said that. I said drinking is not best for Christians. And that’s where I stand.

What truly stands is the fact that drinking alcohol is not necessary like continuing life or eating to stay alive. It is very unlike those things. One needs to realize this when they bring that argument to the floor.

The Bible doesn’t mention the goodness of smoking like it does with alcohol (Ps 104:15).

What does Psalm 104:14-15 say exactly?

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.

Now, that is a very, very good point. A point, which I am sure, everyone automatically says, “well, there you are. You can’t beat that verse and you can’t beat all of these verses either”:

Ecclesiastes 9:7 – “drink your wine with a merry heart, for God approves what you do.”
Psalm 104:15 – the Psalmist writes “wine gladdens the heart of a man.”
Isaiah 25:6 – God will provide a feast of rich foods and choice wines.
Amos 9:14 – God declares that His people shall plant their vineyards and drink their wine.
Zech. 10:7 – God says that when He saves His people, their hearts shall be glad as with wine.
Gen. 14:18 – Melchizedek offers a bread and wine sacrifice, and Jesus is the Priest in the same manner.
Gen. 27:25 – Isaac brought Jacob wine, and he drank, with God’s favor.
Neh. 8:10 – Nehemiah commands the faithful to drink sweet wine to celebrate the Lord and His holy day.

“Tim, you’ve just been shot out of the water. You’re dead, you’re gone, and you have no argument whatsoever. Why bother?”

Seems to be, until we do some deeper study–study deeper than just glancing at all of those verses. But before I look at this, let me clarify something: I am not saying drinking is a sin. I am saying that it is not best for Christians. I hope you get that and do not miss it.

What we truly need to consider is what “wine” are these passages referring to? Is it “non-alcoholic wine” (which sounds like a oxymoron) or are they what we today consider as “wine.” Certainly, this wine was not grape juice, and had some alcoholic content. What we need to look at is the historical aspects. What was the wine like in biblical times versus today?

Although there is dispute over the alcoholic quality or lack thereof in Biblical wines, it is safe to say that today God would not condone the use of fermented drink.

Alcoholic wines in Bible times were not nearly as full of alcohol as they are today; while modern wine may be 12% alcohol, unmixed wine in Biblical times would not have exceeded 4%. It was considered barbaric in Roman times to drink unmixed wine, and citizens would mix water and wine from about one part wine to four parts water to one part wine to eight parts water, and this would leave an alcoholic content of between 0.5 and 1% alcohol. Simply put, one would have to drink twelve glasses of Roman wine to even begin to equal one glass of modern wine, and such a quantity in Roman times would be inordinate for an average meal.

We must remember the wise words of Solomon in Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23:31-35:

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, When it sparkleth in the cup, When it goeth down smoothly: At the last it biteth like a serpent, And stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange things, And thy heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, Or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

“They have stricken me,” shalt thou say, “and I was not hurt; They have beaten me, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”

It is also good to note that “drunkenness,” which in Greek even includes the process whereby one gets drunk, is condemned as a “work of the flesh” by Paul in Galatians 5:19-21, and those who would do such things “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” There is no need in our day to drink beverages with minor alcoholic contents since we have pure water and many other alternatives, and it cannot be proven to be profitable to bring one so close to temptation to sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:23).

Now, obviously, today’s wine is entirely different from the wine of Bible times. Yes, it was alcoholic, but there was so little. An interesting conclusion can be drawn from this. If Biblical alcohol was alcoholic, and it was permitted only in moderation, then those who drink only a single drink today may very well be exceeding moderation spoken about in the Scripture! (http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2000/nov/page11.htm)

The sad fact is everyone who is pushing for drinking in moderation is entirely correct. The only problem is that you can’t even drink one cup without exceeding the limits set in the Bible.

But the questions continue:

Why would it [wine] be used for OT sacrifices? Why would Jesus make it in John 2 when the wedding guests were already getting inebriated?

First of all, a sacrifice was giving something up. The Israelites had to give up wine to God. Now, in the second case, it’s much harder to grasp. The people at the wedding were getting drunk, yet the New and Old Testament tells us that God is not pleased with drunkenness. Why then would this change now?

I highly doubt that Jesus would have made wine that was different from the ordinary wine of that day–wine that would not make you drunk unless you drank about 12 cups of it. That’s where I stand on that issue, and I believe that there is nothing wrong with that as long as you remember what I’ve already said about biblical wine.

Joe Thorn weighs in on the debate:

I would argue that your father is not seeing the impact of alcohol, but the impact of selfishness, gluttony, drunkenness, etc. He sees the impact of sin, not simply the impact of wine/beer/alcohol. To push abstention because of drunkenness and resulting deaths would be the same as arguing for radical gun control because “guns kill people.” Though I imagine most tee totaling Christians are gun-friendly.

My dad will tell you about these men–men who started with one drink in moderation. They never thought they’d be in the place they are now. But now they are suddenly behind a wheel, telling the police that they can handle it. It all started with one drink, one sip, when they were young. They developed a taste for alcohol, and started drinking. Just a little bit. Then it grew. That’s how this stuff works.

Another interesting look at alcohol is from Marshall Sherman

All toxins are not bad, which is why I believe the scripture in which Paul tells Timothy to drink a little wine and not just water is there.

I believe Alex King answered this question well in the comment section of his post “Side Effects May Include…”

1 Timothy 5:23 is commonly quoted to say that wine is healthy, but could it perhaps be just the lesser of two evils? We all realize that the water was not safe to drink in those days, and so most people drank wine. Why does Paul have to tell Timothy to do this? Perhaps he was abstaining for spiritual reasons, and because of that, running into stomach trouble from all the bad stuff in the water. Why else would Paul prefix the whole thing with “drink no longer water”?

I believe that answers that question.
What it really comes down to is something I’ve been bringing up over and over. Why drink alcohol? There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to start drinking. You have to develop a taste for alcohol. It’s not essential to life.

There aren’t any things that benefit you when you drink alcohol.
What we need to be is filled not with wine, but with the Spirit of God. We need to be “drunk” with the Spirit. We need to be overflowing with the Spirit.

I think commenter Sparky said some of what I’m trying to convey best:

You will NEVER have the problem of:
– Drunk Behavior
– People Killed by drunk driving
– Children abused by drunk fathers
– Deaths(Like my Grandfather) because of years of Drinking
– Other Crimes commited while under the influence
– Broken lives because of alcohol
– Broken homes because of alcohol
– Broken minds because of alcohol
If you NEVER take the first drink.
I encourage you Tim, and any other young person who has yet to take that first drink, never to do it.

Exactly right. Why start drinking other than the fact that “wine has a very pleasant taste to it and goes very well with a lot of food served at dinners.” If that’s all, then why drink other than the fact that you enjoy it. There is no reason to let yourself get into a situation that may possibly prove dangerous to your future health, or could possibly lead to drunkenness.

I heartily encourage you to not drink. It is not best. It is permissible, but it is not best. That’s where I stand–and I’m not going to bend in any way. There is no reason to drink today’s alcohol, which can possibly lead to sin. You may think you can handle it–so did those guys sitting in jail for drunk driving.

Think before you drink. It could save your life (and others).

Tasty Toxins?

December 13, 2005 — 58 Comments


The following is really not a fantastic defense of “abstinence” if you will, but rather a look at what the Bible says about alcohol, and the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of drinking. Enjoy.

When I think of alcohol, nothing good or holy comes to mind. Instead, I think of smoky rooms, drunk men, totalled cars, shock trauma, broken lives, broken bodies, and broken minds.

It’s my dad’s job to arrest men who drink and drive on the streets of D.C. I’m certain he can tell you story after story of how alcahol ruined people, and destroyed lives of the innocent. And what’s amazing is the fact that in our culture, drinking is made out to be glamorous. It’s not.

What I want to look at today is the Christian’s response to this drink so that will be put into many bodies this Christmas season. Unlike Christmas, this is something that God specifically talks about in His Word.

Some Christians believe that we are drink alcohol in moderation, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. Jesus and his disciples drank wine, right? God gave strong drink as a gift, right? They push the idea that not drinking would be offensive to unsaved believers, and that by drinking they can have a better impact on their friends who do drink. Many times they will bring up Christians who smoke. What do you tell them?

The other side is often portrayed as hypocritical and old-fashioned. These Christians believe that one should not drink, and believe God addresses the topic of drinking in His Word. They argue using examples of what alcohol really is and what it really does to people.

As for me, I side with Christians who believe alcohol is not for Christians. It may sound hypocritical, but I can assure you, it’s not. I am highly against smoking–it ruins your body and your lungs. We are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, and by ruining these temples, we are not pleasing God. Smoking, like drinking, is addictive. And it is also not something that comes to mind when you think of a pastor.

There are many reasons that I oppose drinking, mainly because of the fact that God speaks in His Word about strong drink. I also consider the heath issues, and the affects of drinking. What is alcohol associated with?

First, let’s take a look at God’s Word:
Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Luke 21:34

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.

Rom. 13:13

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Gal. 5:19-21)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Now, I’m certain that there are many arguments against this stand, and I am well aware of that. I’m not sure that this article not rebut every single argument against it, but I want readers of this article to examine these verses carefully, and begin to think about them.

A second aspect I want to look at is the affects of alcohol on your body:

“Alcohol acts as a depressant–it slows down brain activity. The degree of this effect depends on the dosage. In small quantities, alcohol produces a feeling of euphoria, a state of mental well being. It decreases tension by causing a disorganization of mental processes. A person who has had a few drinks cannot concentrate on his problems. One reason that people drink at social gatherings is to become “loosened up” by false euphoria. (BJU Press)”

Really, we are to be filled with the Spirit, and not with Alcohol. We are to bring our burdens to the Lord, and not push them away with alcohol.

For me, and I pray for you, I will never drink. I wouldn’t even risk taking a small step. The spiritual, mental, and physical affects of alcohol are not worth “making friends comfortable” or pleasing myself. I want to please God alone in all of my actions–and that means staying away from strong drink.

***

On a slightly different note, you need to listen to the latest Square Talk. I promise, we’re getting better every show, and the amount of prep time is increasing. Give it a try…you might like it!

Your Checklist: Vote or Buy

December 13, 2005 — 9 Comments


UPDATE: Please vote only one time. If you want to get more votes in for me, then tell your friends, your mom, and your dog. But don’t vote twice. I reviewed the rules, and unlike other blog awards, in this one you cannot vote every day.

With the extremely interesting interesting discussion going on in the Christmas post, I’ve been busy keeping up with that and working on some not so top-secret projects. I wanted to let you know of a couple of things that you needed to do today.

First of all, you need to go and VOTE for your favorite homeschool(ed) bloggers. Now, if I don’t get the best teen blog of the year, then you really need to vote for the best designed blog. I personally would vote for the Rebelution or Spunky Jr. or Smart Homeschool as the best teen bloggers of this year. Spunky is, of course, the finest homeschool mom blogger out there, but I didn’t see her on the ballot. The best group blog in my opinion would be Beauty From the Heart. I saw some other great current events blogs as well.

And guys, whoever nominated the Rebelution for the best Photo Blog…

Anyway, take time to vote!

But, if you don’t vote, what will make me happy is if you stop by the Agent Tim Online store, and show your support for the site. It really helps to keep it going!

Who Cares About Christmas?

December 8, 2005 — 57 Comments

I wanted to address a very interesting comment I received from two readers. Now, we really do need to look at what they’re saying. It’s very interesting, and I commend her for bringing it up, and also adding that she did not want to start an argument. That is not what this post is about. It is to bring about some good discussion about Christmas.

At first I was going to address this personally and in my own words, but I found the words of Elliot Miller . I believe that his article addresses these concerns, expressed in these comments:

Annalise
I think it is so good to hear that there are people in this ungodly world who care so deeply for God and his son. I’m glad that people are upset that some churches won’t be having services on Christmas. It says a lot about you when you care.

Have you ever done a search on Christmas? The origins? It’s very informative. And I am not trying to make anyone mad or to argue but, although it’s true that Jesus birth is important because without it he woudn’t have come here and died for us, and also that, like you said, his death is much more important, we need to think about what the bible says. Is there any evidence that Jesus celebrated his birthday? Is there any evidence that he celebrated his death? Did he ever tell his followers to celebrate his birthday? Did he tell them to memorialize his death?

What was the weather like in Bethlehem during December? Was it cold? Would the shepherds be outside with their sheep in the cold if it was cold in December in Bethlehem?

Carol
Howdy! I just happened upon your blog, the window was left open on the computer screen. Someone in my family must have found you.

I’m not sure if y’all are coming from a Christian perspective but as a Christian I find Christmas unappealing. The roots of celebrating on the 25th of December is a pagan tradition and has to do with the winter solstice. The Bible does not state the time of Christ’s birth but we can almost be sure it wasn’t that exact day. Even if it was, the Bible has no mandate for celebrating the birth of Christ, it only commands us to remember His death until he comes. I really don’t have a problem people de-Christing (is that a word?) Christmas. It’s roots are pagan, why pretend differently?

I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers! Please feel free not to respond, this is just my two cents, but it might be worth looking into.

I can assure you, Carol, that you haven’t ruffled my feathers, but you may ruffle some others. And yes, I am a Christian, saved by grace not by works but through faith. But I digress.

Mainly, I have never said that Christmas was the exact date of Christ’s birth. I don’t think anyone has. Annalise also stated something similar when she said “What was the weather like in Bethlehem during December? Was it cold? Would the shepherds be outside with their sheep in the cold if it was cold in December in Bethlehem?”

The fact is, Christmas is celebrated around the world, and really, if you think about it, Florida usually isn’t that cold during the Christmas season. Or Brazil. Or the Sahara Desert. But that is beside the point.

We need to take a look at some of the harder questions they asked.

Here’s what Elliot Miller says:

As a young Roman Catholic, Christmas was my favorite time of year — filled with magic and meaning. The birth of Christ played a role in this festal feeling, but so did Santa Claus and all the more temporal pleasures of the season. As I grew older, I not only lost faith in Santa Claus but in Christ as well. The residual sentiment I retained for Christmas was hard to justify.

After I became a born-again Christian, I welcomed the opportunity not only to recapture the spirit of the season, but also truly to appreciate, for the first time, its spiritual significance. I did enjoy a couple of meaningful Christmases. Then I started witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses [Please note, I am not calling Annalise a Jehovah's Witness].

Time and again the Witnesses would cite the Trinity and Christmas as clear proof that “Christendom” had lapsed into paganism. The Trinity I could answer for biblically, but Christmas was harder to defend. It was certainly not a holy day instituted in the Bible. And pre-Christian, pagan Rome had indeed observed the Day of the Invincible Sun on December 25. In fact, in many ancient cultures, customs and festivities later associated with Christmas (e.g., Yule logs, mistletoe, and even the giving of gifts) were observed in honor of the sun god’s resurgence at the winter solstice.

I never totally abandoned Christmas — it’s not easy for a Christian to reject a holiday that celebrates the birth of his Lord. But the pagan connections troubled me, and my observance of the day became halfhearted.

Eventually, however, I came to the conclusion that just as pagans and pagan temples can be converted and sanctified to Christian service, so too can pagan holidays and even some of the traditions associated with them (those that are not inherently immoral or idolatrous). The critical issue is: What significance do we currently attach to previously pagan practices? (See 1 Cor. 8:4–7; 10:25–31.)

Since Christmas is not legislated in the Bible, it should not be considered essential to Christian practice. Christians do not need to defend it to Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cultists with the same zeal with which they would defend the doctrines of the Trinity or eternal punishment. In fact, it would even be acceptable if a sincere Christian told a Jehovah’s Witness, “If you don’t want to observe Christmas, that’s fine. I myself do not observe it.” But that same Christian would have no business judging those Christians who do partake in the holiday.

Christmas is a good example of what Paul had in mind when he wrote: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord….You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Rom. 14:5-6, 10; NIV).

I am not saying Annalise or Carol is judging anyone in any way, but want to point out an interesting fact: it is not neccesary to observe Christmas. But, as Elliot Miller stated, “I came to the conclusion that just as pagans and pagan temples can be converted and sanctified to Christian service, so too can pagan holidays and even some of the traditions associated with them.” It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas either.

I look at the present, and not at the past. I don’t usually live in the past. What bothers me is when today we see people attempting to make Christmas what it was in ancient times: pagan.

Now, of course, this is to be expected of our society, which is plagued with obvious inherent sin.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I really don’t care one way or the other.

Church Is: Closed

December 7, 2005 — 13 Comments


Today, we’re going to look at a story that, I’m sure, will be widespread across the blogosphere, but one that everyone needs to see and consider.

Fox News Reports:

This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country. Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anticipating low attendance on what they call a family day.

Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown.

It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture.

“This is a consumer mentality at work: ‘Let’s not impose the church on people. Let’s not make church in any way inconvenient,’” said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Hamilton, Mass. “I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing.”

Professor Wells said it well (no pun intended). It is catering to the unsaved, and putting aside the needs of those who are saved. What better day to have church but on Christmas Sunday?

Willow Creek Church spokeswoman, Cally Parkinson, defended the move to not have services on Christmas Sunday by stating:

“If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don’t go to church, how likely is it that they’ll be going to church on Christmas morning?” she said.

Pardon me?

Other megachurches are doing something much better:

First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., led by the Rev. Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will hold one service instead of the usual two. New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., led by the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, will hold one Sunday service instead of the typical three.

Now, quickly, we must ask ourselves “What’s wrong with not having church on Christmas Sunday?”

That’s where the difference comes in on this site. I really want you to consider that. We need to ask ourselves tough questions like that and answer them biblically.

First of all, in the beginning, God set aside a day of rest to worship him. This day is made to please God. Our churches are there so that those who are saved can come into a building together and worship God. Please note, much of the evangelism takes place outside of that building, not always on Sunday mornings.

Christmas is a day set aside by man to celebrate the day Christ was born on this earth. It was probably one of the most important days ever, apart from Christ’s death and his ressurection from the dead. If Christ had not been born of a virgin as the Scriptures foretold, he would have never died and he would have never been raised to life again, giving us the opportunity to receive forgivness from our sins and to receive the gift of eternal life in heaven forever.

What better day to go to the house of the Lord and worship him for the greatest gift on earth? Why back down to the commercialized Christmas? Why cater to the unsaved and put aside the spiritual needs of those who are already saved? You cannot feed Christians on milk forever. Why do you disdain their needs? Why do you put them aside?

Who cares what the world thinks? Why are these workers for the Lord tired? Why are they tired of doing good? Why “take a day off” from doing the Lord’s work? That makes no sense at all!

These congregations are ” bowing to secular culture” and they know it. People who don’t want to attend church on Christmas Sunday are showing who it’s all about: and it’s not Christ. It is obvious that those who want to “be at home” do not want to be in the presence of the Savior.

Now, I’ll give you this: they are having services beforehand. But why not Sunday? Because, they say, “our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched.” Is that their only mission? What kind of church is that?

I leave that up to you.

Coolness Redifined

December 5, 2005 — 5 Comments


Over and over again I am amazed at the amount of time I waste, as well as many others that I know. We’ve all wasted time–precious time. I’ve wondered so many times what the source of this wastefulness is, and have come to some conclusions. These conclusions, will challenge both of us in our sinful bodies as we fight the war against the devil (which has already been won.) Our lives do not need to be wasted! We need to take hold of each and every moment we’re given, and fight the good fight in “peace” times and in war.

First of all, it seems Christians get “stuck in a rut” when they do not feel the enemy closing in. They put down their defenses, and the enemy takes advantage of the open gates in front of them. This happens all to often and all too easily.

I know a large part of my readership is made up of teens and parents of teens (and even ex-teens! What do you know?). We all know, right now, it is easy to take your eyes off of Christ, especially when things are going well. If we are not being persecuted or in trouble we are “slacking off” in the fighting department. We need to seek God and ask him to help us to continue fighting the good fight. It’s tough, I know. But we need to strive to be a great witness for Christ in all places at all times to all people.

Another thing that pierces my heart and makes me hang my head is when I contemplate on the present definition of “cool.” Everyone wants to be cool. And to be cool, you must dress like your friends. So much for being different.

Quick example: today, we went Christmas tree hunting, and two doors down there’s a semi-large field. It had just started to snow, and some of the neighborhood guys we’re playing football. What struck me were their admirable efforts to stay “cool” (figuratively and literally) in such harsh conditions. Shorts, two shirts, tennis shoes, and lots of mud and slime from football. It’s amazing what people will do to fit in.

That thought that we need to be “cool” is so prevalent in our society today. Be different, yet like everyone else.

But what is really “cool?” Or perhaps, a better question would be “what is truly great?”

Let’s travel together to the shores of Iwo Jima for a moment, and put aside that cheap word “cool” and watch for a moment the bravery and the carnage.

First, let’s take a look at the life of Jacklyn Lucas:

He’d fast-talked his way into the Marines at fourteen, fooling recruits with his muscled physique…Assigned to drive a truck in Hawaii, he had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight. He stowed away on a transport out of Honolulu, surviving on food passed along to him by sypathetic leathernecks on board.

He landed on D-Day [at Iwo Jima] without a rifle. He grabbed one lying on the beach and fought his way inland.

Now, on D+1, Jack and three comrades were crawling through a trench when eight Japanese sprang in front of them. Jack shot one of them throught the head. Then his rifle jammed. As he struggled with it a grenade landed at his feet. He yelled a warning to the others and rammed the grenade into the soft ash. Immediately another rolled in. Jack Lucas, seventeen, fell on both grenades. “Luke, you’re gonna die,” he remembered thinking…

Aboard the hospital ship Samaritan the doctors could scarcely believe it. “Maybe he was too young to die and too tough to die,” one said. He endured twenty-one reconstructive operations and became the nation’s youngest Medal of Honor award winner—the only high school freshman to recieve it.

Ray Dollins, fighter pilot at Iwo Jima:

The first wave of amtracs headed for shore. The Marine fighter planes were finishing up their low strafing runs. And as the last pilot began to pull his Corsair aloft, Japanese sprang to their guns and riddled the plane with flak. The pilot, Major Ray Dollins, tried to gain altitude as he headed out over the ocean so as to avoid a deadly crash into the Marines headed for the beach, but his plane was too badly damaged.

Lieutenant Keith Wells watched it from the amtrac…”We could see him in the cockpit,” Wells said, “and he was trying everything. He was heading straight down for a group of approaching ‘tracs filled with Marines. At the last second he flipped the plane over on its back and aimed it into the water between two waves of tanks. We watched the water exploding into the air.”

Military personel listening to the flight radio network from ships could not only see Dollins go down; they could hear his last words into his microphone. They were a defiant parody.


Oh what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a terrible feeling,
Everything’s coming my way.

William Hoopes of Chattanooga:

As a rainy morning wore into afternoon and the fighting bogged down, the Marines continued to take casualties. Often it was the corpsmen [medics] themselves who died as they tried to preserve life. William Hoopes of Chattanooga was crouching beside a medic named Kelly, who had put his head above a protective ridge and placed binoculars to his eyes—just for an instant—to spot a sniper who was peppering his area. In that instant the sniper shot him through the Adam’s apple. Hoopes, a pharmacists’s mate himself, struggled frantically to save his friend.

“I took my forceps and reached into his neck to grasp the artery and pinch it off,” Hoopes recalled. “His blood was spurting. He had no speech but his eyes were on me. He knew I was trying to save his life. I tried everything in the world. I couldn’t do it. I tried. The blood was so slippery. I couldn’t get the artery. I was trying so hard. And all the while he just looked at me. He looked directly into my face. The last thing he did as the blood spurts became less and less was to pay me on the arm as if to say, ‘That’s all right.’ Then he died.

Every teen needs to understand what being “cool” is. It is a totally different definition from that cheap word we use.

Why aren’t we being like these boys at Iwo Jima? Why aren’t we fighting like that in a battle that is so much greater than all the wars ever fought on this globe?

Our thoughts of “cool” are so misconstrued. Are you willing to change your definition? Are you willing to not only change your definition, but also spread the word to others, whether in spoken or written word?

This all reminds me of that statement that you may have heard: “Do Hard Things.” These young guys knew what was “cool,” they did hard things, and they did their best for their country. We must do so much more for our God.

John Piper puts it well:

“Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy–as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer?”

If only God’s people would call my His name, and humble themselves and pray.

Summary
When Christians are not feeling pressed by the devil, the slackening in their defenses, resulting in sin and a lack of fervor for spreading the gospel. Another thing that has happened in our society is the emphasis on “cool.” True “coolness” or rather “greatness” is shown on the shores of Iwo Jima. Why aren’t Christians doing so much more for a cause that is so much greater than American democracy?

Are you willing to be an Agent for God?

(Second image from here, and that last link is for you to listen to the Agent)