My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

Archive for the tag “Christianity”

Hell! It Can’t Be Real! Or Is It?

I have been thinking a lot about Hell lately. You know the Hell your parents and your church warns you about.  The place where bad people go to burn forever.  With the horned devil perched on his seat while he pokes sinners who dare to try to escape his fiery pit.  Try as I may, I just cannot fathom something so unimaginable.  (As a little boy, I would look at the big painting on the wall of my aunt’s house of Satan sitting with a harpoon and watching as tormented souls writhed and burn in his fire.  For some reason, I was always mesmerized by this painting, even as a kid).

Pardon me if you perceive that I am venturing out on the edge of blasphemy here.  It’s just your perception, I am a proud believer in God.  Now this Hell thing is what confuses me.  God Is Love, the ultimate unselfish lover whose love and forgiveness is bottomless.  I love my kids to no ends but that pales in comparison to the love that God has for his children.  And we are all his children, sinners and…never mind, there’s no ‘and’, we are all sinners.  There is nothing that my children could possibly do to make me sentence them to a life time in a burning pit of fire, in fact, there’s nothing anyone could do that would get me to wreak such a punishment on them.  God gave me that kind of Love.  If my puny love could transcends whatever wrong was done to me, how could his much greater love allow for any of his children to suffer this way? Yes, they broke a commandment and did not repent but does stealing a goat equate to an eternity in burning flames?   The funny guy in me is imagining a conversation between two burning souls:  Soul #1: So what are you in here for? Soul #2: Oh for murder, you?  Soul #1: I made a graven image.  Soul #2:  What the H E double hockey stick is that??

Maybe I am missing a big chunk of the picture and someone with a deeper understanding of the Bible needs to bring me up to speed or maybe it’s just my cynicism.  See my last blog here.  So, is Hell for real?  Would God really allow his children to suffer in anguish and torment while he feeds his other kids milk and honey as they walk the golden streets of Heaven?  I have to say no.  But then again,

That’s just My Take.  If I’m wrong, I pray God will forgive my ignorance and save me from the pits of Hell.

 

 

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God’s Gone High Tech!

When my Pastor walked up to the pulpit and opened up his Ipad to read the Bible passage, I was aghast!  This has got to be sacrilegious!  Blasphemous even!  That was about 15 years ago.  I was slow to embrace this new trend.  How could the Holy Bible be traded in for an electronic device? It’s just not the same. What would people think?  What would God himself think?

I reluctantly started using my cell phone in church to access the Bible about 2 years ago.  Before using it in church, I used the Bible Gateway app for my daily devotions.  In church, I was not comfortable and felt the urge to make sure everyone knew that I was not on my phone texting but perusing the Gospel. Hello! I am actually reading the book of John here, not texting my friend John.

Last week, a friend posed the question pertaining to the above on his Facebook status.  He had visited a church and was surprised to see the elders using their cell phones instead of Bibles.  He wanted to see how his friends felt about this. Many felt that cellphones or any other such electronic gadgets had no place in a church. Although I understood the sentiments, I had to disagree.

Having the ease to access the Bible using an app on my phone has actually enabled me to become better at navigating the Bible. It also encourages me to read more often by the suggestions of devotions, geared to every life issues.  I always have my cell phone but I do not always have my bible.

Like it or hate it, technology is here to stay.  A phone is not just a phone anymore,  it’s our computer, our planner, our journal, our Bible.  It’s our one-stop shop. In order to reach out to the masses, we need to be on their level.

The world’s a changing place.  To attract people to God, we need to adapt to the changes. Music has to have appeal without sacrificing the Message. The Bible has to appeal to young readers, churches need to feel like a happy fun place.  Whatever medium it takes to realize this, as long as God is not compromised, it’s all good.

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Fill My Cup, Lord. My Starbucks Cup or I’ve Got 99 Problems And The Cup Ain’t One

I unfortunately overhead one of the most asinine things I’ve heard in a long time, on the radio while driving to work a few days ago.  I wish I could ‘unheard’ it but it was cemented in after various other media blasted it into my brain. It was the story about the Starbucks Christmas Cup Controversy.  Lucky you if this is your first time hearing about this. Some guy with obviously too much time on his hands and a penchant for igniting controversial discussions, made a video stating that Starbucks was out to wage a ‘war on Christmas’ because of its minimalistic Christmas coffee cups. They were not Christmassy enough for his liking.

Joshua Feuerstein, the guy behind all this, wrote, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus,” Yes, Josh, that’s a pure sign of hatred if I ever did see one.  It reeks of disdain and loathe for Jesus!

“I think in the age of political correctness we’ve become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head.” Feuerstein said in his Facebook video “Did you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they are just plain red.”  I applaud you for bringing this to my attention Mr. Feuerstein, I knew my head was missing something, just never realized it was my brain.  I know a few others with missing brains.   Have you found yours yet, Josh?

I am a Christian and I love Christmas.  I know that the day is not actually the day Christ was born but I use it to remember the BIRTH and celebrate accordingly.  I really don’t give two hoots about who wants to join me in celebrating or who choose not to. In fact, I barely notice the difference these days.  In this age of political correctness that Joshua refers to, I have seen ‘Christmas’ switched to ‘holiday’ for fear that it tramples the rights of those who choose not to celebrate this day.  Still, I see it as a non-issue.  It’s the way of the world.  Farther along we’ll understand why.

Making a issue over a company’s choice on how they want to adorn their cups is silly and a waste of thought.  Surprisingly, millions like-minded people agree that Starbucks is definitely out to kill Christmas! Astounding!  It’s only a cup. My Christmas does not hinge on a disposable cup.  Well maybe what’s inside when I wake up early on Christmas morning does help…so why are we discussing this?  Folks, there are more important things out there to worry about, like how do they get the caramilk inside one of those caramel bars.

When Jesus said ‘Take this cup away from me’, he wasn’t referring to a Starbucks cup. Or was he??

Starbucks

Just My Take

 

Unplugging From God

Last night I felt too hot to be comfortable so I got up in the middle of the night and opened the window, letting in some much-needed cool air.  My wife awoke to my rustling and warned me that it wasn’t a good idea as it would get extremely cold in the room.  I didn’t listen.

It didn’t take long for my wife’s words to prove prophetic.  I tried to hide under the blanket and the sheet to get warm.  The thought of getting up and closing the window crossed my mind but the idea of getting out from the covers was not appealing. My face was cold and so were my fingers and toes but I couldn’t risk a total body chill so I chose to stew in my own stupidity.

While I lay there fighting against the smart thing to do, which would have been to get up and close the window, I thought to myself that what I did was like unplugging a heater that was keeping a room warm.  Then I drew a parallel.  Unplugging the heater was like unplugging from God.  We are warm when we are plugged into him but sometimes we feel like it is not comfortable enough.  We want it our way.  So we unplug.  We live with the consequences of unplugging, coldness, distant, lost…We try to cope by seeking comfort elsewhere or by other quick-fix means other than just re-plugging in, even though our families and friends urge us to just plug back in.

Stay warm, stay plugged in.

 

Psst, I Agree With Victoria Osteen

A while back, the wife of renowned televangelist Joel Osteen made headlines when she made the following comments,  “When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. Do good ’cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really. You’re doing it for yourself because that’s what makes God happy.”  This set off a maelstrom of criticisms from Christians who were dismayed over these words.  Some church leaders and pastors posted the incriminating video on Facebook with various unflattering captions.  I read a few but try as I may, I just could not see what the issue was. Maybe I need to be prayed for because, heaven forbid, not only did I not see a problem with what she said, I actually saw the point she was trying to make.

As selfish as it sounds, Victoria Osteen is right, we really are worshiping God to ensure our own happiness.  The Psalmist sings that ‘Trust and obey to be happy in Jesus.”  We sing it in our churches without ever questioning the merit of it.  So why now?  We try to bring people to Christ by telling them it’s the way to their happiness.  We promise the sad and depressed that their lives will be happier and more fulfilling if they find and follow Jesus.  Isn’t that what our Christianity is based on?  We never start by telling the non-believers that they should worship God because he needs it.  Or that he deserves it.  No, we tell them how much their lives would be enriched by knowing Christ.  Your neighbour complains to you how miserable her life is and you go, “Maybe you should come to church with me.  It might make you feel better.”  Isn’t that exactly what Victoria said?

So in a nutshell, we are not exactly doing it for God since his existence does not hinge on whether we worship him or not.  We are doing it for ourselves.  For our continual happiness and existence. To say it doesn’t make him happy when we do worship him is denying a fact.  When he’s happy with us, we reap the harvest.  We find happiness that comes from him. Therefore, we really can’t deny the fact that we are indeed doing it for ourselves.

Victoria’s wording may have left a bit to be desired but the message is not entirely lost.  It’s funny that even though we all fall under the umbrella of Christianity, we still can’t agree on what and who God is. and what he wants of us.  We have our own ideas and opinions, I do too, and that’s why this is just…

 

My Take.

 

 

Who Found Who?

I have always wondered about the saying,  “I was lost but Jesus found me”.  I never fully agree with it and have spent hours analyzing its true merit.   I have no argument with the ‘being lost’ part of it but the way to salvation or ‘Jesus finding you’ is what I am not in agreement with.

Before we are saved, we stumble through life blindly or lost but remember, we are lost to knowing Christ but HE knows where we are.  He does not need to find us. We need to find HIM. When a hunter or a hiker is lost in the woods for a few days then suddenly emerges to see his cabin in the distance, he cannot claim that his cabin found him. Yes, he was lost indeed but he was searching for a way back to his cabin. In the same way we search for God or some other reason for our existence and we find him.  He never finds us because he was and is, always around us!  Get what I’m saying here?  I know there’s a parable about the lost sheep being found by its shepherd but that’s different.  The sheep NEEDS to be found.  A sheep would not go looking for the shepherd.  Luckily, we are a bit smarter than sheep.

Saying we were lost but Jesus found us sounds as though we were sitting there waiting to be found and Jesus showed up and that was it. Found!  It’s not that simple.  We need to search for a way to HIM.  We were LOST TO HIM and need find our way back home, TO HIM.

Again, this is just, MY TAKE.

Blurred Lines

 

Pop singer Robin Thicke hates blurred lines, or so he says in his song Blurred Lines.

I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines

Today more than ever there are many blurred lines. The lines that separates a man from a woman and fact from fiction are blurred, so too are the lines that defines marriage, love and hate, right and wrong, and even Christians and Non-Christians.  It’s predicted that in the far off future, there will only be one race.  We will all merge into one race.  Would right and wrong also merge into just ‘everything is acceptable’?

In Thicke’s song, he tries to override the girl’s ‘no’. Telling her what she is and what she isn’t.

Ok, now he was close
Tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal
Baby, it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you

Society is telling us to change the way we used to think and changes our beliefs.  We were wrong and uncivilized back in those days, they say.  We are smarter now and need to change all these old-fashioned rules and beliefs. Praying in school? Get rid of that rubbish! Traditional marriage? Oooh…that’s so ignorant and tramples on the rights of others.  We are much smarter now.  Christianity? All you need to do is believe and you will be saved.

Remember when Christians wore their faith on their sleeves, (Some still do) and you could tell if your neighbors were believers or not? Not anymore. We are merging! We go to the same places, wear the same things, say the same things and do the same things as the non-believers.  Sometimes we even outdo the non-believers!  At their own game! Yes, that includes me, sadly.

No doesn’t mean no anymore, at least if it does, then it’s blurry in translation. No could mean yes and yes mean no.  Love and hate are interchangeable.  Some love to hate while others hate to love.  Is it right or is it wrong?  It depends on who is doing it. A man can become a woman tomorrow or a woman a man, so don’t gettoo comfy. Nothing is really as they seem.

It’s not your glasses, it’s just blurred lines.  And it’s also just…

My Take

Note: Unfortunately for Robin Thicke, there were no blurred lines in his marriage.

 

Have You Really Tried Everything?

As a little boy back in St. Vincent, there was this song that I heard that somehow stayed with me through the years.  The main lyrics were, “If you’ve tried and everything and everything failed, try Jesus.”  I haven’t heard or thought of that song in years but last week it came to me, out of nowhere and set my mind to thinking.  Sometimes when things are going bad for us, we say “I’ve tried everything.”  Doctors, shrinks, card readers, psychics, friends with bad advice, whatever, but did we really? Everything?

Back in St. Vincent, the wise old ones had a cure for whatever ails you.  Everyone had their own concoction, some bordering on ridiculous and some downright ridiculous.  I suffered from asthma and drank everything ranging from old water collected from a tree with mosquito larvae and all.  The next step was to drink the water from a boiled lizard.  Boiled live by the way, but thank goodness, my aunt balked at the idea and couldn’t go through with it.  Even though we were a strong christian family, no one thought to pray.  In fact it might have seem ridiculous at the time.  Even more so than boiled lizard.  Lying there praying to God when I could be drinking some fix-me-upper?  Well as Christians who believe their God can do anything, why wouldn’t I?  He works in mysterious ways so one really doesn’t have to literally lie there and pray.  Maybe we could ask him about the lizard and the larvae infested water?  Maybe he wants us to drink it.  It’s like asking your parents if you could eat the candy you found at the park.  Well somewhat.

If we can’t use God when we are sick and hurting, then seriously when can we use him?  Today, if you are ailing or facing obstacles that you cannot navigate through, why not give God a shot at fixing it?  If you are a non-believer, it could still work in your best interest because you really have nothing to lose, do you?  But you have everything to gain.   A win-win situation.  When your life is at stake, you deserve to try everything, so don’t shortchange yourself, try everything.  Try God.

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Jesus Sightings

Jesus on toast

Jesus on toast (Photo credit: topicagnostic)

Jesus seems to have a habit of popping up in the most unlikely of places.  On toasts, furniture, fabric and clouds.  Clouds I could see as the Bible said he will be coming out of the clouds but it never mentioned that we will see him on the food we eat.  The latest in Jesus sightings is a by a woman from New Mexico who is alleged to have seen Jesus on her toes.  I’ll give you a second to laugh.

Ok, the joke’s over.  This woman claimed that Jesus showed up on her toe after she bruised it and got her boyfriend to rubbed some dirt on it.  Well not just any dirt, dirt from a Catholic pilgrimage shrine.   Well now it all makes sense.  Should have read that sooner.   Pilgrimage shrine, holy dirt…that’s a recipe right there for a holistic sighting. There’s no word yet on if she intends to sell her bruised digit on Ebay as did her predecessors.

As a kid staring up at the clouds and imagining them to be the shapes of various animals, even at that young age, I was not that gullible to run off and tell my parents, “Mom! Mom! Come quick!  There’s a lion chasing a sheep! Look up mom, in the clouds!”  Maybe it was because I wasn’t on cheap drugs.

My Take, lay off the mind-altering stuff.

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You Are An Atheist? My Apologies

English: 4th day of Evangelism training at Hun...

English: 4th day of Evangelism training at Huntington Beach provided by LivingWaters Ministry which encourages and equips Christians to share their faith biblically the way Jesus did by obeying Jesus command to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone.” Mark 16:15 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a believer.  I believe in God and because of this, I consider myself a Christian.  I attend church because it allows me to fellowship with other people with the same beliefs.  It’s like going to Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous.  Now I’m not disqualifying anyone who does not share my beliefs and faith.  I believe because maybe I’m a wimp and too scared of the alternative or I never allowed myself to question the fabric of my faith.  To do so would leave me with an unshakeable feeling of guilt.

On the flip side, many, but not all, atheists have never had any exposure or experience with Christianity.  At least not enough to base a belief on; and for that I apologize.  I apologize that I have failed to do my part.  I apologized for being impassive concerning my faith while those opposed take the podium to denounce my faith, attempting to ban centuries-old religious practices that make up the very foundation of a country.  I apologize on behalf of myself and my fellow Christians who continue to make it hard for anyone wavering between believing and not believing, by the lives we live.  Why would you want to rush in and be a part of this ‘organization’ when those who pound the bible are pounding prostitutes?  Why would you believe when those of us who profess to believe live like we really don’t?  I apologize that my church has not and is not doing enough to convince you that there is a God; and that I have failed to give you a plausible reason why the God we love and worship allow kids to die violently and good people to suffer.

I owe you an apology for not engaging you in a two-sided conversation when you preached to me about atheism .  I left you at the mercy of the silver-tongued televangelist with the private jets and playboy lifestyle.  I thought he had all the answers.  I was too scared to defend my faith or maybe I was unarmed?  I apologize for being a bad friend.  I misrepresented myself and what I stand for.  I was a fake friend.  The odd times I spoke to you about my faith, I may have lied to you and painted you a picture of perfect harmony where everyone loved their neighbors as much as themselves.  If I did, I am sorry. But you have seen the news, you knew better than that  Phew! Well no wonder you are an atheist!

Fortunately, I still believe and will always believe.  Like I said, I am too scared of the alternative and to be honest, sometimes that belief or faith, is what keeps me going.

“I would rather live my life as if there is a god and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

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