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War on Christmas

waronchristmas2

 

It’s that time of year again. Not just for Christmas trees, presents and carols but for the WAR ON CHRISTMAS!

Whether it’s just a fabricated, blown up message from Fox News or not, as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to think through what our response is to a changing culture.

If we look at the statistics of church attendance, we must realize that our culture is increasingly moving away from the historic Christian faith. Some are responding to these changes by blaming atheists and secular progressives. They call people to fight for celebrating Christmas by putting up nativity scenes on public property and saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Fox News seems to be capitalizing on this fight response.

But I would call us to a different response. Read the rest of this entry

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Tim Tebow and Bad Theology

I love the Denver Broncos. So much so, that it is actually good for us to live in Illinois so I can’t watch the Broncos every Sunday. My kids don’t have to see me yell at the TV anymore on Sunday afternoons. This year I have not missed watching the Broncos play because the first few games were awful. Recently the tide has turned for the Broncos thanks to the “messiah” Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos are now 4-1 with Tebow at quarterback.

When Tim started as QB I was not a believer. How can a NFL quarterback be successful if he doesn’t have a passing game? Right now I don’t care about Tebow’s stats because he is winning. Last year Kyle Orton had great stats but he couldn’t win games when it counted. Now Tebow’s stats aren’t great but he is winning games. Last night’s last minute drive was unbelievable. I’m now a believer! Though he is unconventional, he is the QB for the Broncos. AFC West title here we come!

But here is what I don’t like about the Tebow phenomenon. It has nothing to do with Tebow’s deep faith. Honestly I think his testimony is great and his faith in the Lord is giving him the strength to stand up against immense criticism.

But what frustrates me is how some Christians say that God is blessing the Broncos with wins because of Tim’s faith. What kind of theology is that? What about guys on other teams who have a deep faith but their team doesn’t win? Do we actually think that God is concerned with football teams winning? It seems that the theology of God’s blessing is based on an equation. If we have a deep faith in God then God will bless us with success.

Tell that to believers in Iran who are suffering for standing up for Christ. Tell that to the eleven disciples of Christ who suffered and died for their faith. Tell that to impoverished believers all across the world who don’t have shelter or food to eat tonight. I don’t know where this flawed theology comes from but it frustrates me. We are selfish to think that God will bless us with success if we have a deep faith.

I think God smiles when he sees Tim Tebow play great football have practice a consistent faith in front of his critics. But I don’t think he is blessing the Broncos with wins because of it. The Broncos are just playing great football when it counts and the Jets fell apart at the last minute.

Am I wrong? Where does this bad theology come from?

Steve Jobs and Christianity

“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” stated Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson.

James writes, “Anyone who sets himself up as ‘religious’ by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

Maybe Steve Jobs has a better idea of what Christianity should be all about than some people sitting in church each Sunday.

Healthy Sexuality: Talking to Your Kids about Sex

Whether we like it or not, our children already are learning about sex from their friends and classmates. Even our six year old daughter learned the word “sexy” from her kindergarten classmates. As parents we have to step in and educate our children about a healthy view of sexuality even at a young age. If we hold off on “The Talk” until late elementary, we are way too late.

Hillary and I knew when our daughter came home from school saying the word “sexy” that we needed to start talking about healthy sexuality with her. The problem was that we didn’t know how to start the conversation. We have always appreciated the wisdom and practical insights that author and speaker Jim Burns brings to the table. So when we heard that he developed a whole series of books to help parents talk about healthy sexuality, we knew we had to get them.

One of the best parts about this Pure Foundations series of resources is that they provide resources to start the conversation with young children. We read the first book, God Made Your Body, to our daughters who are six and four. This first book is designed for children ages 3-5 and starts the conversation about sexuality by talking about how boys have penises and girls have vaginas. It also talks about how dads and moms “make love” and that is how the process of having a baby is started. Some parents might feel uncomfortable saying the words “penis” and “vagina” with their kids but I think it is important to call it what it is and provide a place for open conversation early on. Honestly, it made me uncomfortable to say those words but I would rather my girls hear those words from me before they hear it from their friends.

That same night I also read our oldest the second book in the series called How God Makes Babies, which is written for children ages 6-9. I joked with Hillary in the past that she would be the one to have “The Talk” with our girls. I wasn’t real excited to talk to our girls about sex. Before I knew it, I was having “The Talk” with Anna as we read through the book. This second book in the series is more frank about moms and dads having sex. I appreciated how Burns talks about the sacredness of sex within marriage even in a book for children. As we read Burns’ description of the act of sex, Anna asked me, “How does the man make it fit in the woman? Does it take surgery or something?” At that point I knew we were really having “The Talk” and I had to make sure that I didn’t laugh, but handle her question honestly.

Another section of How God Makes Babies that I really appreciated was when Jim Burns talks about how our private areas are not meant to be touched by anyone except for doctors or parents while taking a bath. In this day and age, our children need honest conversations on topics like this for their protection. Hillary and I have been working hard to talk to our daughters about how parts of their body are meant to be covered because they are special.

I would highly recommend this Pure Foundations series to parents out there who want to start the conversation on healthy sexuality. For parents of children in middle and high school there are two other books specifically for those age groups. Purity Code is written for middle school students and their parents. Accept Nothing Less is written for high school students and their parents. Jim Burns also wrote a parent companion book to this entire series called Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality.

Here is a brief video of Jim Burns explaining this Pure Foundations series.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWXKe6YM7ck%5D

Palm Branches and the Conquering Hero

The Beautiful Gate in Jerusalem

What really happened on the day that Christians call Palm Sunday? We have first hand accounts of what happened, but what were the people thinking? Who did they think Jesus was? I think our picture of this day might be a little different than what really happened. Here is how Mark records the event:

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”

They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, Read the rest of this entry

Blog a Koran

 

UPI Photo

Today we remember the tragedy that occurred nine years ago.  We remember those who lost loved ones that day.  We remember those who sacrificed their lives to save others.  I’m still reminded of the pictures of firefighters going up the stairs while others were fleeing down.

In light of the events with the proposed mosque near Ground Zero and the pastor down in Florida, this day has unfortunately become very politicized.  Today I am joining with other followers of Christ around the world in blogging a verse from the Koran to create respect between two major world religions.  Find a full list of other bloggers here.

The verse I want to discuss briefly from the Koran is found in 4:36.

Sahih International

Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.

This comes from a section of the Koran that deals with the rights of women.  This verse makes a connection between worshipping Allah and loving people.  Sounds familiar to Christians as Jesus drew the same connection from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Loving God and loving people cannot be separated.  One cannot love God and not love others.  If you don’t love others, then you don’t love God.  This verse from the Koran calls believers to worship Allah by loving one’s neighbor and even the neighbor farther away.  It even points out to do good to the traveler who is just passing through.  Then it ends by saying that Allah does not like those who are boastful and arrogant.  Humility is honored.

On this day that some want to divide based on religion, may we truly love our neighbor regardless of their religious beliefs, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jew or don’t have any religious beliefs.

Christianity and Syncretism

Sometimes (ok quite a bit) others can say what you have wanted to say but they say it much better.  Check out this blog entry by a college friend of mine, Ed Cyzewski, in which he discusses how far too many Christians have become syncretistic in their beliefs.