Thursday, February 12, 2009

Could Obama be the Antichrist?

A few weeks ago, I attended the Inauguration in Washington D.C. I have been every four years since Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997. At the inauguration, I was disappointed at the lack of respect that was shown towards President Bush as he left office. Whether you agree or disagree with his decisions as President, he was the Commander in Chief and that should have commanded much more respect than the chorus of boos that he got. It’s not like any of us could have done a better job. Also at the inauguration, I was very disappointed to see how many from the Gay and Lesbian community booed Rick Warren as he prayed. They did so because of the media’s highlight on the simple point that Warren is opposed to gay marriage. What has not been mentioned in regards to Rick Warren are his outreach efforts to the gay community. He has shown unconditional love to them in ways that few have and yet he gets a chorus of boos even while in the midst of prayer simply because of his Biblically based belief that marriage is a sacred vow between a man and a woman.

As disappointing as those chorus of boos were, I have been even more disappointed in the attitude that many Christians have towards Obama. Just a couple weeks ago, a Christian friend of mine saw me wearing some of the attire I got from Obama’s inauguration. I was wearing a sweater which was designed as a commemorative of the event itself. Nothing new for me since I try to buy commemorative attire and other souvenirs every four years. As we talked, they expressed how deeply concerned they were about Obama, saying that they would have never went to the inauguration- because they are 100% convinced that Obama has to be the antichrist. I am wondering that if we had talked more, they would have warned that there may be no hope after wearing that attire for I might have just taken on the mark of the beast. Sounds ridiculous, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

I have lived long enough to realize that this talk is typical any time there’s a new resident occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Every President during my lifetime has been at some time or another thought by some Christians to be the antichrist. While I was still in diapers, people were saying that Jimmy Carter was the antichrist because of his involvement in the peace talks between Egypt and Israel. Then 1980 came, and Reagan was elected, and he was the antichrist because he was the first president to have six letters in all three (his first, middle and last) names. After Reagan it was George H.W. Bush because of the Persian Gulf, then Bill Clinton, then when George W. Bush’s popularity soared for a bit albeit after 911 people started to worry that he might be the antichrist because his approval rating was higher than any other president. And now Christians are creating groups on Myspace, Facebook, and who knows where else to warn that Obama is the antichrist.

These are the same Christians who complained at the way George W. Bush was disrespected as President simply for being “a man of God.” Whether he was or wasn’t, is or isn’t a man of God- I can not judge. To put it quite frankly this talk of Obama being the antichrist is simply a copout, a guise rather to make it seem okay and justifiable to disrespect President Obama in the same way that Christians complained Bush was being disrespected. While these Christians are saying that Obama is the antichrist, the spirit they represent in their attitudes and the words they speak reveal themselves as having attitudes that are far more antichrist than what they could ever imagine Obama to be.

While I did not vote for Obama, he is my president and I support and respect him as such. I certainly do not agree with him on every issue but neither did I agree with Bush on every issue. As for the issues that I disagree with them on, that’s why I have a voice to be heard and letters to the presidents to write. But most of all to each president I write my own words of encouragement and prayer- for they are the authority that God has allowed to come into place for the time being- and we as Americans should respect them as such. Anything less than that whether it is downright disgust that we openly portray or the guise of warning that they might be the antichrist to try and add a spiritual tag to our disgust and hatred, reveals nothing but the antichrist in each one of us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christian Education Within the Walls of the Church

It would be completely nonsensical to talk about how Christians should respond to Education without mentioning the education within the Church. Right education begins by pointing people to the right source, which is the study of God’s Holy Word the Bible. A distorted view of scripture will inevitably lead to a completely diminished faith.
In numerous places throughout Psalms and Proverbs we find it said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. How should we become wise? We should meditate on the words of the Lord day and night allowing them to transform our thinking as well as our hearts. Psalm 119 gives a well-constructed and in-depth reflection on God’s word, mentioning it countless times as the foundation of precepts of which we should set our feet upon. No verse more beautifully depicts the view we should have of God’s word than Psalm 119:105,“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The Bible is the centerpiece and masterpiece of our growth in relationship with the creator God through the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Lord and personal Savior. It speaks to any and all situations providing us with the answers we need along the path of life. It forms our most basic theology as we channel our thoughts towards the person, character, and nature of God. Yet in today’s culture, many are so afraid to use the word “theology.” It’s a word that strikes fear in the hearts of many. While there are minor theological issues that should not be focused upon- there are major theological issues of which we must have agreement.
Yet, more than a few Christians if quizzed on the basic tenets of theology without studying in advance would not even come close to passing. Such a reality awakens us to the fact that the church is not answering its calling to be radically set apart with an attitude that confronts and demolishes the thought patterns that exalt themselves against the knowledge of Christ.
This is part two of the series on “How Christians should feel about education.” Again I want this to be a discussion that we can share our thoughts on and grow together sharpening one another in faith. The question to consider in this series of posts is “How can we as Christians inject truth back into a culture that has been so infiltrated with much deception and falsehood.” When the church does not answer its calling to inject truth back into the culture, it becomes infiltrated by the culture and the deception that goes along with it which brings only disease. In the words of the apostle Paul, that disease spreads like gangrene.
Listed below is my plan of navigation for the next two parts of this series which is on my heart to pursue over the next couple of months. I will try to post on this weekly. I invite and encourage all to participate in this discussion.
Part 3: The lack of Christian education within the walls of the church
Part 4: Bewitched by the mentality of the Medieval Catholic Church

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Should Christians feel about Education?

In the late 1980's, early 1990's there was a famous pop song entitled "We don't Need No Education." The most ironic thing about that song as I think about it is the fact that the group that sang it was not in touch with their education lead them to say the exact opposite of what they were intending. Thus, it is true that We don't need no education. Rather we need all the education we can get- so that we can be equipped to grow in our understanding of life and our understanding of where we fit into the picture of God's plan for each of our lives.

Unfortunately, many Christians have developed this anti-educational and anti-intellectual attitude. Much of that attitude is in response to the fact that many thought processes that set themselves up against the knowledge of Christ have infiltrated our education- thus making us not want to learn more because quite frankly we are afraid that what we learn may very well destroy any truth that there is in what we believe. But if any of what we perceive to be as truth can be destroyed, then would we really want to continue holding on to those bankrupt processes of thought?

The saddest thing about this trend in which Christians have turned away from knowledge and education is the fact that it wasn't too long ago that the church was the leader in every aspect of education whether it be the Arts and Music, History, Science, Mathematics etc. This trend of being anti-knowledge and anti-intellectual has without a doubt produced one of the most confused and dumbfounded times within the history of Christendom.

Now, a tsunami of postmodern thought has swept not only through society- but even into the very doors of "the church." We live in a culture where we are afraid to refer to anything as being false. There is no longer any absolute right or wrong. Rather,every situation and decision is relative to the person, the time, and the place so that it is intolerant to refer to any wrongdoing as such.

The reason we as Christians find ourselves in such a position is because we have responding by competing with these deceptive and hollow philosophies instead of aiming to completely destroy them. In the past half century, when knolwedge and false information that masquerades around as knowledge have been thrust into our culture we have responded by such pathetic ideas as giving people Christertainment. The very nature of our church services have been designed to entertain the crowds and to draw more in using a philosophy of having great entertainment on the inside to draw in the crowds from the outside.

A more Biblical approach would be to directly confront the patterns of thought that exalt themselves against the knowledge of Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We DEMOLISH arguments and every pretension that sets itself against the knowledge of God." To demolish something means to completely destroy it. Rather than completely destroying these false and destructive ideologies- Christians have completely ignored them- thus allowing them to get fatter to the point that they are constantly infiltrating the church- and our ignorance has us so desensitized that we no longer distinguish that which is true from that which is false.

In 2 Kings 22, we read the story of how the Book of the Law was found during the reign of King Josiah. When Josiah read it he tore his robes because he realized that for several generations his ancestors had not obeyed God's commands as stated in the Book of the Law to the extent that the art of true service to God was completely lost and foreign to the people. We live in a time quite similar in our own culture- where true faith has been replaced by cheap imitations that we have not recognized because of the ignorance which has led us to turn away from the education that equips as to recognize such deceptive and hollow philosophies.

This is part one of a series of posts on "How should Christians feel about Education? Throughout the course of this series I will deal with many aspects of different false ideologies that have infiltrated society and crept their way into the "church." As we journey through this together, I ask you to consider the question "How can we as Christians inject truth back into a culture that is so indoctrinated with great deception?" I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts on this matter as we journey together through this topic of discussion.

Right Into You!

Most of the time we like to think we are right,
the thought of being wrong not even in sight,
so we hold our head high while walking in stride,
as in ourselves we often take great pride,
and those who try to correct are seen as the enemy,
for how dare they question the mind that lives inside of we,
it is such thinking that ultimately leads to our decline,
which is why we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind,
accepting the correction of others not as an attack as we so often say,
but rather as words of truth spoken in love to help us grow each day,
for though we don't like to concede that we are wrong,
it is such confession and repentance that helps us become strong,
So we should allow others to speak into us and take their words in love,
for often what they are saying is straight from the Father above,
The fact that iron sharpens iron is a proverb that holds true,
When your siblings in faith pour words of truth spoken in love right into you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One Flew Over the Cocooner's Nest!

Within the context of a church community, the cocooner is defined by me as someone who is very rich in their knowledge of God's word and yet very lacking in building meaningful friendships and fellowship with others. At the very core their heart, the cocooner is having trouble overcoming fear- a fear that leads them to lack greatly in having trust for others.

Such was the case in my own time of cocooning. After becoming a Christian in 1993, I spent the first 10 years of my faith cocooning. During that time, I had the right image. I was actively involved in church ministries. At that time, people would have thought that they knew me pretty well. Yet, they didn't really know me at all.

In the words wisely spoken by a young girl in my youth group four years ago, "Chad, I believe that you legitimately care about all of us as students, but at the same time I believe you are trying to take attention away from dealing with something that day and night for a long time has been eating away at you." I had never been so SLAMMED in all my life when those words were spoken to me. I went home that night and I cried the hardest I have ever cried because I knew that what was spoken was indeed very true.

Life experience had taught me to cocoon. Growing up, I lived in a home that I describe as being "together, yet broken." My dad was known to have fits of rage at least once a week sometimes more. Seeing his fits of rage, I saw the one thing I feared I would someday become and vowed to God that if I ever acted that way towards my own wife and kids that I would have the sense to go out back and shoot myself. When my dad would have his fits of rage mom, me, and my siblings would all be accused of only wanting him in our lives so we could take advantage of him. My mom stayed with him over the years trusting that things would get better, yet as time passed they got worst and any remorse that my dad felt started to disappear more as time passed.

This made it difficult for me to have friends. My relationship with my Father was strained. I knew that if friends were around me enough- they would notice how he was and would likely bail on me. My dad was very untrusting and it was obvious to anyone who would get close. Thus, dealing with me meant dealing with my dad. Amidst the struggles with my Father what was birthed in me was a feeling of insecurity- never being good enough. All I wanted was to make my Father proud. I focused so much time on trying to do that and yet it rarely seemed to make any progress at all. I could never have friends over. I could never get to know anyone with out my dad meddling and messing it up and thus the friend bailing on me. Eventually, a friend came along that would not bail on me. Danny helped me tremendously through the situation in ways that I never thought anyone would.

Often times we use the cliche "Earthly relationships will let you down, but your relationship with God will never let you down." While such a statement is indeed true, God intends for us to have meaningful friendships here on earth- and those friendships are a vital part of our spiritual growth. While I have had more (so-called) friends who have let me down than those who have proven true, the despair of those many who have let me down is far outdone by those few who stuck with me through thick and thin.

Long story short, I cocooned because I was afriad of getting hurt further. If my relationship with my Father had let me down, then how could I trust friendships with anyone else. For years I wrestled with the words my dad spoke with me when I was 17 "You're nothing, you've never been anything, and you'll never mount to anything." Though I realized even then that he spoke out of his own anger and bitterness and did not really me- the effects of those words would lead me to cocoon that much more.

Needless to say I cocooned out of fear and insecurity. As I got involved in church minsitries I started using the cliche "relationships on earth will let you down, but your relationship with God will never let you down" as a crutch to limit so myself so that I would never have any friendships that would delve beneath the surface of who I was.

In order to justify my cocooning, I built an image around myself of having a sincere faith. I convinced myself that my faith was sincere until I found out the true meaning of the word. As my pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Charlotte explained that sincere comes from two Egyptians words which put together literally translate without wax. In ancient Egypt some of the potterymakers were clumsy like myself and as they were making they would drop the pottery and it would crack. Rather than waste the inventory which they had invested in and start all over with unbroken pottery they waxed over the cracks in the broken pottery and sold it as if it had never been broken. In the same way, not wanting to waste the investment we have made in constructing our false sense of self- we wax over our cracks so that people will buy into us-though in reality they are not buying into the real us.

Whether or not a person is cocooning is not necessarily measured by the number of friends they have, but rather by the depth of their friendships. While some cocooners by choice have very few friends, there are those who have a lot of friends. Yet they cocoon by hiding way who they truly are and limiting those friendships so that they want grow any deeper. How about you? Are you a person who has shied away from having many friendships because you lack trust? Or are you the person that has a lot of friends yet they do not really know you because you are selling yourself as being unbroken, when in reality your heart is shattered in many pieces?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

White-washed tombs- the result of an image-obsessed culture

One of the greatest travesties we face in America today is we have become an image-obsessed culture. While there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting to portray a good image, the desire of most hearts has turned towards the image more than towards the substance of people's hearts. And in so doing, we have neglected to truly appreciate and thus shine forth the beauty that God instilled within each of us at the very core of our heart and soul.

Take Hollywood for example, where we see how celebrities spend millions.....and millions of dollars improving their image. These are people who we look up to- they are our idols and our icons and we daydream of them and yet when we look into the lives they lead, we find little evidence of what's in their hearts. Hollywood is just a small picture of what America has become. An image obsessed culture that has abandoned the practice of looking intently at the beauty of one's heart and soul.

Today, more than ever before, we have forgotten the fact that each of us is created in the image of God and have therefore neglected to see the beauty underneath the surface that exists in us all. The diversity of our appearances is all evidence of God's beautiful artwork in creating each of us. And yet we look in the mirror and let even our own appearances be the very basis of what makes us feel beautiful,lovely, handsome, good-looking, hot etc.

In truth, it's all just a great big illusion- an insecurity that has taken us hostage. When the basis of our security is the image we bear in our outer appearance, the substance at the very core of our heart and soul is found lacking. How sad it is that we more than ever in America have become an image-obsessed culture that is dominated by whitewashed tombs?

Matthew 23:27b "You are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead man's bones and everything unclean."