My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

Archive for the tag “Church”

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.

 

 

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.

 

Find HIM Not IT

It suddenly occurred to me that one of the main reasons why there are so many religious fanatics and religion-based wars is because people have been finding religion rather than finding GOD.  But again, that’s just

My Take…

Let’s Talk About Jesus But Quietly Please Or They Might Hear Us

CHVN-FM

CHVN-FM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you whisper God’s name out loud? It’s an oxymoron, I know.  But yes, we do! I do and maybe you do too.  At my last job, a Christian woman working adjacent to me listened to the local Christian radio station on her radio but it was turned down so low I was certain she could barely hear it herself.  Sometimes we would have a discussion that had to do with church.  Our conversation would be conspiratorially as though we were planning a heavenly take over.  Not so if we were discussing a secular activity.

Last week at work, another Christian co-worker was at my desk talking about a church-related matter. While talking, she actually glanced around and lowered her voice, again as if we were planning a surprise take over of the company.  And that’s when it struck me! Why are we ashamed to discuss God?  Why do I turn down my Christian radio in my car when I give someone a ride? Or change it to the hip hop station?  Why do we yell out on Facebook how we partied and got drunk the night before but not about how blessed we felt after attending church? Again, why are we ashamed to discuss God?

In Mark 8:38 Jesus says these words:  “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”  Admittedly, in this ‘cool age’ it’s easier to run with the in-crowd than go against the grain.  Wanna be hip?  How many beers you could down trumps how many bible verses you could quote.  Do you have a ‘Christian music workout mix?’  Didn’t think so.  I don’t either.  So why the quiet noise about God? Why the hesitancy to reveal ourselves as believers?

Could it be that we are ashamed because we are not yet fully clothed in God’s garments?  Is it that even though we think we are strong in our faith in God, we really are weak?  Maybe we are like Peter who thought he would not waver and stand with Jesus until the end only to deny him when challenged?  Is that why we do not have enough confidence to go against the grain?  To blast our christian music and to post Facebook messages that uplift HIM, to BE DIFFERENT?  Being different takes guts. Courage. Strong faith.

Today we whisper but as we grow and become fully immersed in HIM, I trust that one day we will SHOUT! And let them hear us.

Sex with troubled underage teen lands pastor in unholy water

He said he was sorry and he was a fool.  His wife begged for leniency and blamed his prostate and low lithium levels for his transgressions.  His congregation prayed. His lawyer pleaded.  ‘He was a good man with decades of good works’, they attested.  In the end, the former pastor was sentenced to 12 years in jail.  His crime? He took advantage of a young troubled teen, entering into a sexual relationship with her that was so deep that he allegedly sent texts to her from the pulpit.  The defendant, Mr. Jack Schaap, was pastor to a mega church of 15,000 members. Interestingly, just over 100 parishioners wrote letters of support and only about 70 showed up at the court.

What’s my take on this? Texting and preaching is wrong? Ok seriously, we wonder why some people are religion-shy, there’s the reason right there.  I realize we are human first before our chosen callings but come on…

 

 

Cheapskate Pastor Says Yes To Tithing But No To Tipping

Logo used from 1980–2007, still in use at some...

Sometimes even well-meaning Christians forget what it actually means to be Christians.  Yes,  I do too.   We start focusing on serving ourselves and forget it is more than just us.  It’s serving those we share the earth with.  In this case, it’s serving those who serve us.

I read of a pastor who along with eight friends went out dining at Applebee’s Restaurant.  Because of the size of her party, there was an auto-tip of 18% added to her bill.  The pastor resented this and showed her resentment by writing on the bill, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?”  Now some cheapskates people might agree with the pastor’s take and stiff the poor minimum-wage-earning waitress whose job it is to cater to the whims of her diners.  To me, I think…well you know by now what I think.

To one server, it was insulting and comical.  So much that she took a photo of the bill and posted it online where it went viral.  Well of course it will.  People pounce on that kind of stuff.

Was the pastor right?  In my opinion, no she wasn’t.  I think she was being a miserable cheapskate and should have exercised her Godliness in a more positive way than she did.  Was the waitress right in posting the offending receipt?  Well I probably would have done the same thing.  Unfortunately, her manager didn’t see it that way and fired her.   She apparently breached an unwritten confidentiality law that made it illegal to post bills that diners wrote on online.  The pastor wasn’t a happy camper went she found out her autographed receipt was viral online.   Serves her right!  She should have thought of that before she did what she did.

The thing is lately is that many of us think that going to church, tithing and reading the bible make us perfect Christians.  Somewhere along the way, we forget the ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ part.  Sorry if I step on any toes but it’s my take and my opinion.

Related reads:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/applebees-waitress-fired-pastor-receipt-193820748.html

Selfish Christians

Pastors and Gays

Snake bitten pastor dies

Seriously, what is wrong with some pastors these days?  The length they go to further their own selfish means is astounding.  Taking passages out of the bible and interpreting them literally and practicing made up rituals, it’s definitely a sign of the times folks.  This latest one involved a pastor who was engaging in a ritual with a poisonous snake.  Snake bit him, pastor dies.  To top it off, he had seen his dad died years before under the same circumstances.  Twice bitten….  Is God trying to send them a message here?  Folks, hold tight to your faith because snakes walk among us.

Read on…

‘Serpent-Handling’ West Virginia

Pastor Dies From Snake Bite


  • 'Serpent-Handling' West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite (ABC News)

    ‘Serpent-Handling’ West Virginia …

A “serpent-handling” West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched a snake kill his father years before.

Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, hosted an outdoor service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia Sunday, which he touted on his Facebook page prior to the event.

“I am looking for a great time this Sunday,” Wolford wrote May 22,according to the Washington Post. “It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good ‘ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.”

Robin Vanover, Wolford’s sister, told the Washington Post that 30 minutes into the outdoor service, Wolford passed around a poisonous timber rattlesnake, which eventually bit him.

“He laid it on the ground,” Vanover said in the interview, “and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”

Vanover said Wolford was then transported to a family member’s home in Bluefield about 80 miles away to recover. But as the situation worsened, he was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Jim Shires, owner of the Cravens-Shires Funeral Home in Bluefield, told ABC News that Wolford died Monday. Wolford’s church, the Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, will host a viewing Friday and a funeral service Saturday morning. Wolford will be buried at the Hicks Family Plot in Phelps, Ky.

Officials at the Panther Wildlife Management Area had been unaware of Sunday’s event until they were notified by callers after the service.

“We did not know that this event was happening, and if we had known about it or if we had been asked for permission, permission would not have been granted,” Hoy Murphy, public information officer for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told ABC News.

Hoy said West Virginia state park rules prohibit animals other than dogs and cats on the property.

While snake-handling is legal in West Virginia, other Appalachian states, including Kentucky and Tennessee, have banned the practice in public spaces.

Snake-handlers point to scripture as evidence that God calls them to engage in such a practice to show their faith in him. Mark 16: 17-18 reads, “And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Wolford told the Washington Post magazine in 2011 that he is carrying on the tradition of his ancestors by engaging in snake handling.

“Anybody can do it that believes it,” Wolford said. “Jesus said, ‘These signs shall follow them which believe.’ This is a sign to show people that God has the power.”

Wolford said watched his own father die at the age of 39 after a rattlesnake bit him during a similar service.

“He lived 101/2 hours,” Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine. “When he got bit, he said he wanted to die in the church. Three hours after he was bitten, his kidneys shut down. After a while, your heart stops. I hated to see him go, but he died for what he believed in.

“I know it’s real; it is the power of God,” Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine last year. “If I didn’t do it, if I’d never gotten back involved, it’d be the same as denying the power and saying it was not real.”

 

Kids and Church

In our efforts to rehabilitate (For lack of a better word) our Foster Son, we encourage him to take part in all family activities. Strongly encourage him.  One such activity is attending church.

We try to make it to church as often as we could and until yesterday  have been able to bring The Teenager with us, though sometimes with reluctance.  Yesterday I went to rouse him from his deep slumber so he could get ready for his ‘Sunday chore’.  His reaction was to murmur incoherently but got up he didn’t.  I gave him a few minutes to chase the sleepy cobwebs from his head then repeated the wakeup process.  “I really don’t want to go to Church. Can you just take something away from me instead as punishment?”  Wow! Where did that come from? Failure to comply with a willingness to accept punishment and also a recommendation of said punishment?  I was taken aback!  He is sometimes stubborn but usually compliant.  I was not at all used to this blunt defiance.

At first I was less than impressed and mentally searched for my own punishments to exact on his disobedience.  No internet? No Ipod? No allowance for a week? I couldn’t settle on anything fitting so I decided to put it on the back burner.

In Church, I was distracted by this new development. I had always dreaded the day that my kids did not want to accompany us to church.  I knew of Pastors, Elders and deeply religious Christians who all had that son or daughter who refused to attend church and participate in anything remotely linked to Christianity.  I also had friends whose family took them to church against their will and the grew up vowing never to return. I too was dragged to Church when I was a kid.  I was  even punished with a spanking for my insolence and look at me now?   Ceelo Green’s father is the famous Reverend Al Green.  Katie Perry is the Daughter of two Pastors, and we all know Whitney Houston’s church roots…

I was stymied. What should I do? What could I do? By the end of Church, I had an answer.  I  had made up my mind to approach this latest setback with understanding.  More understanding.  My first response earlier was one borne of past experiences.  A vicious cycle that I was not willing to continue.  Beating religion into anyone is never a good thing.  Whether it’s your child a friend or a stranger. My beliefs should not be forced unto anyone.

When I got home, I opened up his bedroom door and humbly gave him back his Ipod that I had confiscated.  (Yeah, I know…).  The subject of his not coming to Church was not brought up again.  I do plan to discuss my thoughts with him in the near future though.  Just to see where he stands and how he feels.

I don’t know how to pray!

When my then wife-to-be said “I don’t know how to pray” in the early stages of our relationship, I was taken aback.  I had asked her to say a pray for a reason I cannot remember and that was her response.  I could not fathom how someone so smart  could not say a simple pray.

I am from a staunch Catholic background so you could say I was born praying.  Everyone of my friends prayed.  Whether they meant it or not was a whole new different thing but they sure knew how to talk to the Big Guy.  This fooled me into thinking that everyone knew how to pray.

If you are one of those unfortunate ones who find it difficult to offer up prayers to GOD, just think of him as one man rolled into three of the most influential people in your life.  Your parent, your teacher and your doctor. (I am not sure how important any of them are to you but we’ll go with them as they are for most people.)

As your parent, tell him how much you love him and how you feel. Be honest, your parents know you and most of the time, know what’s on your mind before you tell them.  They wait for you to come to them.  So open up and feel free to cry on their shoulders. It’s what parents are for.

As your doctor, tell him what symptoms you are experiencing.  How would you like him to address your ailment? Whatever you tell your doctor is confidential so be candid. He can’t help you if you are holding something back. Let him know how you feel, what bothers you.

A teacher is one who guides and shapes our path in life.  As your teacher, study your textbook, (The Bible) and get ready to discuss with him.  Go to him with questions.  You may not understand everything but he does. It is his book so ask him what he meant by this or that.

My wife is now a Christian and prays publicly and often.  And to think, I questioned our relationship when I found out she didn’t know how to pray.

My Church

A village sermon

Image via Wikipedia

Leichhardt All Souls Anglican Church
Image via Wikipedia

I just had an urge to blog about the Church I attend.  I choose to worship there, not because they are the best group of people, although they are a darn good bunch,  or because the pastor deliver the best sermons.  I chose this Church because it answered most of my questions as to what I wanted in a ‘home church’.  I say ‘home Church’ as I do not allow myself to be confined to attending this church exclusively.  I also attend an Anglican Church at least once a month,  plus a couple other denominations at least a couple times a year.  I like to experience different forms and types of worships.  It helps to keep things fresh.

Now you are probably wondering what questions my Church answered to make me want to make it ‘my Church’.  Well for one, this may seem very trivial, it is literally outside my backyard.  Attending church can sometimes be like going to the gym.  You miss a day and then it turns into a week and before you know it, you have not attended in a month or maybe a year.  Having a church in close proximity to your home, helps to eliminate this tendency.  If perchance I have to miss church, I try to keep my curtains drawn just in case I am seen by church member while I am sitting on my couch watching football on TV.   My church also has more than a few members of its congregation who still remember my name and seem genuinely pleased to see me whenever I show up.  Laugh if you must but the last church where I worshiped  for over 15 years,  I still never felt like I was a real part of it.  There were cliques in the congregation that seemed harder to break into than a bank’s safe.   So that was question number two that my church answered.  The really big one was that the resident Pastor who sadly, recently moved to another province,  delivered sermons  in a way that kept my attention and made me stay awake.  (this, I assure you is no easy feat).  God forgive me, but my ADD kicks in when a preacher/pastor sounds as if he might be on the verge of falling asleep as he delivers a sermon.   I don’t think any sermon is boring.  It is all in the delivery.  Sermon content and appropriateness plays a big part also.

There are a few other points that my church has that made me gravitate to it like the live band that is very enthusiastic every Sunday, the coffee breaks where coffee and hot chocolate are actually served are just a couple.

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