RSS

Category Archives: Belief

How Much Do You Have to Hate Somebody to Keep the Truth to Yourself?

In the news this week is the atheist group, American Humanist Association, and their campaign to get teens and pre-teens to reject God via their new outreach site, KidsWithoutGod.com. Now that’s bad. And parents should be ever-the-more vigilant to help their children guard their hearts and minds and they teach them to how to love Christ with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. We should not ignore the schemes of the enemy or be silent about the very wrong messages bombarding us and our children a thousand times a day. Silence can be complicity.

Here are some words from a famous atheist, Penn Jillette:

“The only people I don’t understand are people that say they don’t care about the whole issue. I love evangelicals. One of the things I learned doing Penn and Teller: Bull—-! on Showtime for all those years is that Christians are really good. They’re really good people. You notice there wasn’t an anti-Muslim show that we ever did. We did a bunch of anti-Christian shows. That is the biggest compliment I can give. The fact that Christians will really believe…American Christians…will really, really believe in the marketplace of ideas. And I love the fact that there are people that talk to me after the show and pray for me and give me Bibles. I never understand the atheists that say it’s OK as long as they shut up. They believe that there is eternal life. They believe you can be saved. What could be more hateful than shutting up?”

But we should be doing more than not shutting up about God and the Way, the Truth and the Life, we should also be actively living it. Actions speak louder than words: Everyone knows it. Here is more from Mr. Jillette:

“I don’t respect [people who do not share their faith] at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize — ‘Just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself.’

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” Jillette asked. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

How much DO you have to hate someone to put your light under a basket? To hide the salt? To withhold the life preserver from the drowning and the truth from the crowd shuffling its way toward the gates of hell? How much do you have to hate somebody to play church, to plant your butt in a seat on Sunday and forget for the rest of the week why you are actually left here on earth?

Mr. Jillette’s words sobered me. Do you know what else is sobering? 96.3% of the greater San Francisco Bay Area is un-churched. Over 96 out of 100 people I pass on the freeway, or in the grocery store, or at the mall don’t know what it means to live a life of freedom because of Christ’s saving grace. Let me never again see a fellow human being with my own eyes only, but with God’s eyes, and feel with God’s heart, which is to seek and save that which is lost.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Belief, God's Word, Missions, Obedience, Salvation

 

Tags: , , , ,

Why I Won’t Do Yoga

Seems that Americans will try to do just about anything these days, so I guess it is no surprise that I get funny looks when I tell friends I won’t go to a yoga class with them, let alone even consider it as an acceptable form of “exercise” for myself.  And with so many church-going folk spending more time on a yoga mat than in church (or maybe even in the word) without even a second thought to it, we don’t have to wonder long why the American church is in such disrepair.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to bind, join, attach, and yoke – to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” It also means “union” or “communion.” It is generally translated as “union of the individual atma (loosely translated to mean soul) with Paramatma, the universal soul.” This may be understood as union with the divine by integration of body, mind, and spirit. In essence, one who attempts yoga may loosely be referred to as a yogi.

Yoga is a path for transcending the ordinary mind (basically suspending thought) in order to merge with your “higher self” or “God self.” So when yoga means “to yoke,” this is to yoke with Brahman (i.e., the “Infinite,” the “Universal Spirit,” the impersonal force that the Hindus call “god”) via the realization of an altered state of consciousness, thereby theoretically releasing oneself from the bondage of endless reincarnation. Yoga comes out of the Hindu Vedas. It can be traced back to a religious leader, Patanjali. Shiva, one of Hinduism’s three most powerful gods, was known as “The Destroyer” and he’s called Yogi Swara or the “Lord of Yoga.”

There are many forms of yoga today. Of roughly the 10 most common in America, hatha-yoga is one of the most popular practiced by those looking for relaxation and stretching exercise. But there is a common misconception in the West that hatha-yoga is just a neutral form of exercise, an alternative for those who hate to run or lift. But hatha-yoga is one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism and is at its roots most definitely religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially spiritually dangerous forms of yoga.

While there a number of translations, the term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means ‘to oppress.’ Hatha-yoga is designed to suppress the flow of psychic energies through channels (symbolic, or psychic passages on either side of the spinal column), thereby forcing the ‘serpent power’ or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power.

Yoga scholar Hans Rieker declares, “Kundalini [is] the mainstay of all yoga practices.” Swami Vivekananda summarizes the kundalini experience as follows: “When awakened through the practice of spiritual disciplines, it rises through the spinal column, passes through the various centres, and at last reaches the brain, whereupon the yogi experiences samadhi, or total absorption in the godhead.”

Despite the health benefits it proponents claim, there are numerous warnings in authoritative yoga literature which caution that yoga can be physically, mentally, and spiritually harmful if not practiced correctly.For instance, many yogis warn that yoga practice can endanger one’s sanity. In describing the awakening of “kundalini” (coiled serpent power) Gopi Krishna records his own experience as follows: “It was variable for many years, painful, obsessive…I have passed through almost all the stages of…mediumistic, psychotic, and other types of mind; for some time I was hovering between sanity and insanity.”

Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that undergird it. This is an absolutely false belief. … You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. … ‘The movements themselves become a form of meditation.’ The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you … intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! … There is, by definition, no such thing as ‘neutral’ Yoga” (Like Lambs to the Slaughter, pp. 93-95).

Yet a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.

Douglas R. Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and a respected specialist on the New Age Movement, warns Christians that yoga is not merely about physical exercise or health. “All forms of yoga involve occult assumptions,” he warns, “even hatha yoga, which is often presented as a merely physical discipline.” While most adherents of yoga avoid the more exotic forms of ritualized sex that are associated with tantric yoga, virtually all forms of yoga involve an emphasis on channeling sexual energy throughout the body as a means of spiritual enlightenment.

Dr. Albert Mohler cites in a recent blog, “When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness. . . . The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church.”

If you are interested in physical exercises that are designed to improve your health, you should not consider yoga, which is designed for death, and teaches how to reach this state of consciousness where you achieve a better reincarnation. Even the physical yoga positions come directly from Hindu scriptures, and are designed to put you into a state of consciousness where you imagine that you are God. If you are a Christian who thinks you are getting relaxation or exercise, you are really getting Hinduism! If you think you are getting science, you are actually getting religion. This is NOT a practice that should be embraced by Christians or anyone who wishes to remain free from seducing spirits.

 

References:

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/yoga.htm

http://www.swamij.com/yoga-meaning.htm

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/yoga_and_christianity.html

http://www.hinduwebsite.com/yoga.asp

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-subtle-body-should-christians-practice-yoga/

 
8 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Belief, Current Events, Society

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Greatest Show on Earth

No, it’s not the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, though that’s a good one. I am thinking of the modern American Christian Church. Ours is going through Chuck Colson‘s “The Faith: Given Once for All” and in the first chapter he cites a few George polls (both Gallup and Barna). The stats are really crazy:

  • 65% of American’s call themselves Christians. YET:
  • The majority of evangelicals do not believe in absolute truth.
  • 60% of American’s cannot name five of the 10 commandments.
  • 50% of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.
  • I could go on: Bottom line — not a lot of “real” here.
During this study, I also read “not a fan.” by Kyle Idleman. (The premise of this book is that the majority of American Christians are “fans” of Jesus, maybe even raving fans like those in the Black Hole section at a Raiders game at the Oakland Coliseum, but not many are followers.) There are stats in that book, too, but also some very hard-hitting truths, like “The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them.”  And, “One of the reasons our churches can become fan factories is that we have separated the message of ‘believe’ from the message ‘follow’.”

 

And here’s where I’m getting to: “…Some fans can be almost impossible to identify because they deliver Oscar-worthy performances as they play the role of a follower.” Kyle says this as “a recovering hypocrite.” So do I. The scary thing, though, is that Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23 that on the judgement day He will tell even people who performed miracles and other great works in His name to depart from Him because they did not follow Him — He says, “I never knew you: Get away from me.” That’s harsh. But it’s not unfair.

 

This makes sense in light of the admonishment, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Our Pastor talked about this in his message yesterday morning, agreeing with both Colson and Idleman and, of course, most importantly the Word of God: Believing is just the first step. Following is the second, and it’s not an option. “There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. There is no life without death. There is no believing without committing.”

 

If, like me, you grew up believing that raising your hand and repeating a prayer after the pastor, going to church on Sunday, and maybe reading your Bible once in awhile was all it takes to “get into heaven” — you might rethink your relationship with Christ. I highly recommend both books from which I’ve quoted — both will give you plenty of opportunities to search God’s word for yourself:

 

 

 

God bless on your journey as a follower. Not a fan.
 
 

Tags: ,

All Religions Are Alike!

Are all religions alike? Are there many ways to get to heaven? Do all religions essentially believe in the same God? This summer our pastor is taking us through a series on “Getting to Know God.” This last Sunday he covered the doctrine of the Trinity — the wonderfully mysterious fact that God is One God yet three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. I’m not going to go into this doctrine here, but focus on one thing that probably hits home for a lot of Americans who call themselves Christian: What differentiates a Christian from a person of another religion, and does it matter?

Christianity is the only religion that has, at the very core of its doctrine, the belief in the Triune God, and especially that Jesus Christ is God and the Son of God. That He came to earth as a human, lived a perfect (“sinless”) life, died a horrific death specifically for the purpose of taking our place, sacrificing His own blood so that a relationship can be restored between us and God, rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father, acting as our Mediator. To my knowledge, the God of the Christian faith is the only God who seeks out a relationship with the people He created. This is very different from other religions.

In a nutshell, here are what other major religions believe:

  • Mormonism: Sees God as the Supreme Being of the universe. However, He gradually acquired that position over a long period of time by living a perfect and righteous life. God the Father has a body (flesh and bones). Views Jesus and Satan as spirit brothers and sons of God. Every male can eventually become a god.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses: God is a single being, not a Trinity. He is not all-knowing or present everywhere. Jesus was created; He is a lesser God. He is Michael, the Arch-Angel.
  • Islam: God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They believe in a strict monotheism. Jesus is not God, He was just a messenger, second to Muhammad in importance.
  • Hinduism: Recognize a single deity, and view other gods and goddesses as manifestations or aspects of that supreme God. There are 330 million of these gods (give or take a few).
  • Buddhism: There is no God. By following specific paths, and through reincarnation, one can eventually reach “Nirvana.”
  • Bahai: Believe in a single God who has repeatedly sent prophets into the world through whom he has revealed the “Word of God.” Prophets include Adam, Krishna, Buddha, Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus), Mohammed, The Bab and Baha’u’llah.
  • Taoism: There is no God to hear prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation. Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life. A believer’s goal is to harmonize themselves with the Tao.
  • Shintoism: Believe in the “Kami” (many deities). All human life and human nature is sacred. Morality is based upon that which is of benefit to the group. Ancestors are deeply revered and worshipped.
The Trinity is what makes Christianity, Christianity.
The Trinity is what makes the Truth, the Truth.

 

If we cannot believe what the Bible says about Who God is, if we cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God and very God Himself, then we cannot believe anything much in the Bible. Either Jesus is God, worked miracles (including raising the dead), was raised from the dead Himself, or He is not. Because Christians believe He is Who He says He is, we also believe His Words: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

There is but one way to God and that is through His Son. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are brought to this saving knowledge. This is what sets Christianity apart from any and all other religions. Faith in Christ is transforming and faith in anything else is alarming.

 

I truly love my Mormon, JW, Hindu and Muslim friends. I love my friends who don’t believe in anything, and those who believe in other things altogether. Because Christians believe the Bible tells the truth, they share this truth with those they love — it is not a “let me hit you over the head with this, you pagan!” message, but it IS a message that is often hard for people to hear. People don’t want an exclusive message. But we don’t get to make up our own religion and we don’t get to rewrite the Bible. So we share the truth in love and pray that eyes and hearts are opened and lives are transformed.

 

All religions are not alike. Dig deeper. Know what you believe.

 

(Here is what I believe.)

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Belief, God's Word, Jesus, Salvation

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Narrow Door

A friend recently posted on FaceBook a 2002 video of Paul Washer passionately addressing a large crowd of youth, his message on Matthew 7:13-27. I listened to the entire hour and was challenged to dig into these verses myself (still not done — it’s quite a lot!). This passage is quite familiar to most Christians but I’m not sure many of us understand it very well. In fact there were some things here that were very eye-opening to me (and no doubt will continue to be, as I continue to dig deeper) and none more so than searching out what Jesus meant by those who practice lawlessness.

Here is the verse (23): “And then I [Jesus] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'” Now I always casually thought that this meant super-evil-wicked people. You know, Stalin-Holms-Dahmer-Hitler-types. Wow, was I wrong! The word “lawless” is the Greek word, anomia (an-om-EE-ah) and it simply means the disregard for God’s law (His written and living word). It is translated in other verses as “disobedience.” This does not mean we do not sin (1 John 1:7-10) however, a habitual practice of sin or disregard of His law, perpetual disobedience or love of the world and things in the world is termed, “lawlessness” and this state indicates lack of salvation (1 John 1:6, Matthew 13:23, Luke 13:27).

So I understand that this verse tells us there will be a time that many people who believe they are Christians will stand stunned before Christ thinking they had their fire insurance in order and will find out that their “Christiany” behaviors were but self-deception with devastating results. This is a call for all of us to evaluate our lives. (“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” 1 Cor. 13:5.)

I am not saying that a Christian can fall from grace and I believe verse 23 proves we cannot because Jesus says, “I never knew you,” not that He knew them at one point but they messed up so He wrote them off. No. We are saved by His grace alone, bought with a very great price. Nothing we do can earn it and nothing we do can undo it. What I do fear are a multitude of Americans who think they are Christians because they silently prayed a prayer once to ‘accept Christ as their personal savior’ (a phrase, incidentally, not found in the Bible or Christian history and was never even uttered until about 50 years ago). Then they went their merry way with no life change (“you will know them by their fruits”) or even a basic understanding of Christian living (“if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”). What happened to “count the cost” — isn’t there a cost? Can I really silently say a prayer and raise my hand and that’s it? Is that entering through “the narrow door” (v13)?

If 75% of Americans are Christians, as Barna and Gallup polls indicate, then why is our society becoming more and more degraded and immoral? Why are we killing 3700 babies a day? We are nation of relativists. If the laws we are to obey (back to “lawlessness”) are summed up into two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matt. 22:37-40) then the persistent disregard of these is anomia, lawlessness.

Let’s get back to understanding what God’s word truly says and obeying it. Let’s reason with one another and encourage one another in the faith. Let’s confess our mistakes to one another and gently and humbly restore one another in love when we make mistakes. Let’s not be like the religious leaders in Jesus’s day who were like whitewashed tombs – nice on the outside and filled with dead and putrid things on the inside. “Let us turn away from evil and do good; let us seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12).

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Belief, God's Word, Obedience, Salvation

 

Tags: , , , ,

“Accepting Jesus”

OK, this will likely be controversial, but for a while now I’ve been struggling with this phrase, “all you need to do to be saved is accept Jesus.” I can’t find it in Scripture and the Jesus I do find doesn’t seem in any way in need of our acceptance. (Indeed, we are in need of His!) Yet this is how most American Christians are told we can obtain salvation. A silent prayer repeated after a pastor or evangelist, maybe followed by a raised hand (with head bowed and eyes closed). But is that followed by a markedly changed life?

For the record, YES: I believe that we must believe, and confess with our mouth, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God to be saved. YES: I believe that if we ask for forgiveness of our sins, He is just and merciful and forgives us.

ALSO YES: A Christ-follower is known by their “fruit” and the branch that does not produce it is cut off.  AND YES: Faith without works is dead. AND AGAIN YES: He who endures to the end will be saved.

I wonder how many of us would be Christ-followers in Indonesia? It costs me nothing to whisper simple prayer and raise my hand here in this country (yet). It doesn’t cost me anything but a little time to attend church, read my Bible or pray. I have done those things and so checked off my American Christian requirements. But following Christ costs the believer. We are told it costs us our very lives (see Jesus’s words in Luke 14:26-34). This has bothered me for quite some time: What if that silent prayer and raised hand isn’t enough? What if there are multitudes of Americans who think they are Christians because they believe they said the magic words and have obtained a ticket to heaven? What if many of us who think this way will be told on that final day, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”? After all the folks Jesus said that to in Matthew 7 actually did many mighty works in His name.When is the last time any of us performed a major miracle? He follows this by saying, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” I think the “and follows it” is pretty important here…

I am not saying confessed belief + works = salvation. Salvation results from the work of Christ alone. I am saying we are known by our fruit, specifically our love for others. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We take up our respective crosses and follow Him.

For years you could not tell the difference between me and a non-believer just by viewing my actions (other than the good-Christian-girl-checkpoints mentioned above). I certainly was not the disciple Jesus describes in that passage in Luke. What does that say? I think the answer to that question would be very different coming from a believer in Sudan than a believer in the comfy chairs of the typical American church. The answer from Bonhoeffer and Lewis and Edwards would be far different from what we might hear from some church leaders in America today.

Again: I am NOT questioning the mighty hand of God’s salvation nor His faithfulness to His children even when we are unfaithful to Him. I AM questioning whether our formulaic method of “asking Jesus in our hearts” has created untold numbers of people who think they are saved, but in reality are floating down a wide, comfortable river to eternity without Christ. And this is a very, very scary thought to me.

This is what I want to learn in a much deeper and daily way: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Insane, Deluded, Intellectually Perverse, and Unintelligent

Richard Dawkins believes that the evidence for evolution is “at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust.” (!)  I disagree. Apparently (and according to Dawkins) this makes me insane, deluded, intellectually perverse, and unintelligent. I am in good company: No less than 40 percent of Americans deny that human beings evolved from lower animals and instead believe God created the cosmos in general and human beings in particular.

I’m not a math-head, but I was thinking: 83% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Being generous and assuming that the 40% who reject Darwin’s theory and believe in Intelligent Design are part of the 83%, then 43% of American Christians think their distant cousins are bananas and turnips (Dawkins vegetable reference, not mine).

I will not use this forum to start heated debate about Dawkins own sanity (but if you are a 40-percenter and want an eye-opener, start with Al Mohler’s blog on Dawkin’s book, The Greatest Show on Earth, it’s an important read. The blog, not the book.) However, I do wonder how far the belief in the theory of evolution has crept into our hearts, causing us to not even bat an eyelash when evolutionary evangelists like Dawkins, or professors, or kindergarten teachers, or Discovery Channel writers, nonchalantly use evolutionary verbiage as fact. Maybe we don’t even think about it. Maybe we don’t care or believe it matters one way or the other. Maybe we are raising our children to not care either. Does it matter to the heart of God?

“He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them ‘Mankind’ when they were created.” 

“Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?” 

“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” 

“You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” 

“It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.” 

When is the last time you created something that turned out good? Written something, painted something, cooked something, sewn something, built something, planted something and nurtured it and watched it grow? Didn’t it give you pleasure? Weren’t you pleased with it? What if someone to whom you showed your creation denied that you did it? Ascribed your work to someone or something else, or worse yet, said it was all by chance? I know, that’s silly, but isn’t that what Darwin-followers do?

“How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, ‘He didn’t make me’? Does a jar ever say, ‘The potter who made me is stupid’?”

I wonder how that makes God feel. The Creator of the universe doesn’t have self-esteem issues or an ego that needs boosting, nor is He depressed because the majority of His creation disses His work, HE IS GOD. But certainly He deserves the awe, the deep appreciation, the rightful praise and humble and sincere worship from those He created with great love, purpose and care. As an American Christian I am challenged to greater awareness of anything less in my heart.

I’ll leave you with a video: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God.  

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Belief, Creation, God's Word

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 437 other followers