Agree or Disagree: There should be a difference between a Christian lifestyle and a Non-Christian lifestyle

Agree or Disagree: There should be a difference between a Christian lifestyle and a Non-Christian lifestyle

Just to warn you, some of you will really like this video. But some of you really will not.

And the intent of me posting this video, and this question is not to say one is better than the other. 

However, for some of you, you have been in the church your entire life. Parents brought you to the church since you were born You have heard the message of Jesus and the Bible The very words that you were told are life-giving, life-changing and well life.  You might even post on an online dating profile that you are a Christian. And if you are asked, of course you would say that you are a Christian. But if your friends were asked by someone if you were, they might have trouble answering.

Then there is some of you that have never entered a church in your life. You haven’t read a book in the Bible. You quite frankly wouldn’t read the Bible. But many of your friends notice something different about you. You just simply and clearly know what is right and wrong. You might sarcastically remind us religious folk that you don’t need no god to tell you what is right.

Some Christians will argue that it is not the case. The Christian is the one that is “salt and light. Not the non-Christian who doesn’t know light.

But many “of you know different. You read online comments. You associate with them. But you can’t really tell the difference.

The question is, should there be?

And what should the difference be?

How much do we know about who we think we know?

If you are a church goer, you might have heard this word called “Fellowship.”
Fellowship, is a Christianese word some people use. It’s Christianese for “let’s go hang out”. The attempt of the word “Fellowship” is to have a conversations that “edify the Lord”.

As a church goer, I have been to many “Fellowships”. If you are looking to have “Fellowship”, here is the general recipe for good Christian Fellowship.
a) After service, spend 30-45 minutes debating which restaurant everyone should go to.
b) Gather at decided restaurant. In a large table. If everyone cannot fit at table, bring more chairs to cause fire hazard.
c) Order water. Be rude to waiter or waitress who cannot get you water in a sufficient type.
d) Don’t leave tip. If possible, leave Bible tract or encouraging sign how “The Lord loves them”.

In reality, this is not always the case. Once in a while, you can engage in an interesting conversation or two. Many good friends have been made by this Fellowship. Even some dates and marriages.

There is also another factor in Fellowship. Every once in a while in these gatherings, there will be one who seems really spiritual. They will often talk about the Lord. They might even talk about some miraculous happenings in their life. How they came from a drastic situation, like the streets or drugs. Or they escaped a cult. It catches the attention of some at the table. Their eyes pop. Maybe as you are in one conversation, your ear is slightly perked to this conversation. You and everyone else is so amazed by the miracle. Praise the Lord, a soul is saved. A connection is made. Phone numbers and Facebook friend requests abound.

Next week, we connect again. The person that has caught everyone’s attention now has control of the conversation. The person now might ask someone at the table “What is your testimony?”.
The person asked feels a little sheepish. They were brought up in a Christian home. But they have lost that fire……

The person interrupts. They tell another story about another miracle in their life. Eyes bulge. People listen. They might even lead in a prayer. Someone might even think they should talk to the pastor so their testimony can be shared to the church. You know, so we can all be encouraged in the Lord.
More time passes. The conversations with this person continues. They continue to talk about the Lord. They might bring in a Bible. The thick ones that make them look like a person of God. However as the conversations continue, you notice some things that are not…. what would be the word for it…. consistent. There is something sitting not right in your gut and you can’t figure out exactly what it is. Maybe you ask someone, and they remind you of the grace of God. But there is still something gnawing at your gut that this isn’t quite right. You think, maybe it is Satan playing tricks with your mind.
In some cases, eventually there becomes an incident that causes a division in the group. Perhaps this person is in the middle of it. Some know the story, but there is an awkward hush around it. No one wants to talk for fear of gossip. Friendships end. People switch churches. In some cases, faith is ruined.

This comes to my mind because there was a recent story here in a church in Calgary. It’s a story of someone who was described as a father figure, and very trustworthy. He seems to have a kindness for women with sons. He became a church leader.

Unfortunately, he was charged with possession of child pornography. He was taking advantage of young boys sexually. He made friends of mothers and earned the trust of sons. The lawyer said he has never seen so much child pornography owned by one person.

I was reading some comments and some perspectives from some people. Some blame the church. Some blame the leadership in the church. Based on what I know, the church has some great people who attend it. It has been an influential church in the City of Calgary for years. And this isn’t the only church in the city that something like this has happened. There was another incident in another church within the last couple of years. Who to blame and why this happened is truthfully anyone’s guess. Without knowing the entire story, the only real thing to say is this was awful.

I do wonder about a couple of things though. These are things I was thinking about reading the story. How well do we really know people? I mean, really know people? We get impressed with the idea or the image of someone? In church circles things are said like “He really loves the Lord” or “He has a heart for God”. It creates a spiritual pillar of someone who maybe is not what we think. I see that particularly in our observation of church leadership. There is such an impression with words, songs, talents and eloquence, that we don’t actually take the time to know who they are. We get ideas, positively or negatively about someone without knowing someone.

The second thing I was wondering about is this. That little gnaw in your gut about something that doesn’t feel or seem right. How much is that ignored? The gnaw comes and somehow you convince yourself that it is nothing. Then it comes back. You then argue it away. Then something happens and you realize why you have had it in the first place. Should that gnaw be explored more?

Was this person really known or did someone have an uncomfortable gnaw? I don’t know. Maybe I would guess the answer is both. I don’t know.
I do know that I need to take the time to know more about people. And spend time with them. Ask the right questions. And also be available to do the same for others.

Agree or Disagree: It’s time to abolish the Canadian Senate

A major news story last week with the scandals involving Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin and the Canadian Senate.

Duffy and Wallin are both former Conservative Senators who have been questioned for their spending reports. They are former because they have resigned based on these allegations.

Interestingly enough, according to a report in the National Post, Duffy and Wallin are amongst the top 10 of all Senators in expense spending. Wallin was second at $369,593 while Duffy was ninth $298,310.

You can read the article here.

This has lead many to question the actual value of the Senate. A group of people that have been placed, by government. Not elected by the people. For many, it has felt like a patronage appointment. It has given a sense of entitlement for those involved.

The question is, do you think it’s time to abolish the Senate in Canada? Or, are there some sort of reforms that can be considered?

Agree or Disagree: There is more interest in the existence of Heaven

Agree or Disagree: There is more interest in the existence of Heaven

Have you noticed that there seems to be more books written about Heaven? Or at least books written about experiencing Heaven?

There’s the account of  now 13 year old Colton Burpo. His father wrote a book about his boy spending 3 minutes on Jesus lap in a book called Heaven is for Real. The book has sold 7.5 million copies.

There’s a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. Granted this was written in 2004, this was about Piper’s near death experience and his journey into Heaven. His website is reporting over 5 million books sold in 40 different languages.

More recently, November 2012 there is a book called Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander. His is a neurosurgeon who writes about his experience with the afterlife.

And of course under somewhat the same theme, although not about a person going to Heaven, but about Heaven and Hell, let’s not for get the firestorm of Love Wins by Rob Bell.

Although these books have been classified as Christians, what is interesting is the amount of non-Christians seem to be taking in this subject. And perhaps swayed. Read what the Macleans article I linked reports on the findings of belief in afterlife.

Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith—81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf—a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What’s more, monotheism’s two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group—9,000 people, currently 42 years old—found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife—the cohort surveyors didn’t ask for details—but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called “an unreligious afterlife,” the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.

This of course is not without it’s critics. From the non-religious in the scientific community, as well as some Christians as well. Here’s a link from Scientific American in response to Proof of Heaven Here’s how ends his summation.

The reason people turn to supernatural explanations is that the mind abhors a vacuum of explanation. Because we do not yet have a fully natural explanation for mind and consciousness, people turn to supernatural explanations to fill the void. But what is more likely: That Alexander’s NDE was a real trip to heaven and all these other hallucinations are the product of neural activity only? Or that all such experiences are mediated by the brain but seem real to each experiencer? To me, this evidence is proof of hallucination, not heaven.

Tim Challies also challenges this as well. He calls Proof of Heaven “more New Age-y than the rest, close to non-Western religion”. He was also critical of Heaven is for Real. Here is a portion of his review.

First, the Bible gives us no indication whatsoever that God will work in this way and that he will call one of us to heaven and then cause us to return. It is for man to die once and then the resurrection. To allow a man (or a boy) to experience heaven and then to bring him back would not be grace but cruelty. The only biblical example we have of a man being caught up to heaven is Paul and it’s very interesting that he was forbidden to tell anything about it. And the reason he even mentioned this experience was not to offer encouragement that heaven exists, but to serve as a part of his “gospel boasting.” He saw heaven and was told to say nothing about it. This was a unique experience in a unique time and for a unique reason.

You can read that here.

There is criticism from a number of different areas and perspectives.

But they are being read. They are being enjoyed. And perhaps in many senses there is a real comfort in these books. It helps people imagine Heaven. And it gives people hope.

I ask you, is there more interest in Heaven? Do you think these books are harmful or helpful? What about the criticism?

Agree or Disagree: Gord Ferguson should have never been fired in the first place

Agree or Disagree: Gord Ferguson should have never been fired in the first place

Who’s Gord Ferguson?

Gord Ferguson is an instructor at ACAD.  He was an instructor of a student that killed a chicken,plucked it and dropped into a pot in public. This happened on April 18.

Although police were called and no charged were laid, on May 6 ACAD decided to fire Ferguson.  The purpose of this exercise was an assignment. An expression of art, in a well…. art school. They deemed Ferguson as instructor responsible.He has been an instructor for 32 years at ACAD.

A group called CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) filed a grievance on his behalf.  This, along with some strong student support, led to the reinstatement. CAUT has  requested that ACAD return any lost wages and benefits to Ferguson.  They have also requested  a formal apology.

As this has happened, I think there are three important questions that I have. And I’d like your thoughts on.

1) Should the student have faced some consequences? Are you ok with no consequences to him and all the blame on Ferguson?

2) This might not be a fair question to some. But I’ll ask it. Would Ferguson have been reinstated if he was a newer instructor? In other words did his tenure help?  As well as student support?

3) What do you think of the actual artistic expression? Recognizing art is not meant to make you feel comfortable, are you bothered by this?

And what do you think of what happened to Ferguson?

Agree or Disagree: God’s Presence and Personality is limited to Scriptural ideas

Agree or Disagree: God’s Presence and Personality is limited to Scriptural ideas

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” – John 5:39

If Christians don’t believe the whole Bible, who will? Mark Driscoll.

The first quote is what Rachel Held Evans starts her blog post that leads our question today.

The second is a quote that was on Mark Driscoll’s Facebook Page. Both do bring a couple of different perspectives about God and the Bible. Some might say this is a chicken and the egg argument.

First, we need some perspective. Evans is responding to this post from Tim Challies. He is discussing two issues. The first being the authority of Scripture or God’s Word as some like to call it. And this Word is what will give you the knowledge of God. It is a Word according to Challies that “reveals God to us has a unique and supernatural quality to it, part of which is that these are the words through which God the Holy Spirit makes Himself known to us individually and calls us to Himself personally.” Challies would go on to say in the blog post that  “The Bible is sufficient to tell us what to believe and how to live.”

There will be many that will agree with this idea wholeheartedly. However, let’s look at a different perspective. 

Some of you might be familiar, and perhaps enjoy the writings of Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning or Dallas Willard. You might say that their writings “speak” to you. Perhaps it was a Divine connection. Many of their ideas, not all of them, are around an idea called Christian Mysticism. Very simplistic speaking for this post only, Christian Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of God through direct experience or intuition. (That is web definition). 

There will be also many of you that will agree with that wholeheartedly.

So while Challies argues that “God promised no more than Scripture”, Evans argues that the Bible doesn’t agree. Here is a portion of Evans argument.

As Peter exclaimed at Pentecost, “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for your and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 

The Holy Spirit  has sustained the Church through good times and bad, through persecution and imperial power, through the centuries before the Christian Bible was fully assembled, through the assembling of that Bible, through the centuries when most Christians had very little access to the Bible, through the centuries when many American Christians have multiple versions of the Bible on their bookshelves and multiple Christian denominations in their hometowns.”

So, as I said earlier, this might be a chicken and egg argument. The question comes down to this.

How have you learned and or experienced God? Was it through a reading of Scriptures? And by following them? 

Or have you used Scripture as a guideline? But have experienced the “Divine” through nature or outside communications of Scripture?

Or, and also an important point, have you experienced the “Divine” without reading a single word of Scripture? Or attending a church community?

Agree or Disagree: Celebrating Mother’s Day says that women with kids are more important than those without

Agree or Disagree: Celebrating Mother’s Day says that women with kids are more important than those without

Yesterday, and since 1908, we have taken one day to honour those who are mothers. You honoured your mother with flowers. Or, breakfast in bed. Or, a brunch.

We have taken the time to recognize the efforts, the sacrifices, and the time mothers have taken for their family. We have taken the time to express our thanks, our love and our gratitude to our moms. Some even take the time to remember mother’s they have lost. Or those who were not officially “mother’s”, but acted like they were in people’s lives.

I don’t know  Anna Jarvis, but when she started the idea of  Mother’s Day, it must have been to honour Mother’s. Not to make those who could not be a Mother feel less, or a  failure.

However, overtime, some feel that Mother’s Day have become more about feeling that those who parent are superior to those who don’t.  Take for example Anne Lamont who writes in this article above Why She Hates Mother’s Day. And no, this is not coming from a non-parent. She is a mother of a son. 

Here are a couple of paragraphs of her reasons of the dislike of the holiday Mother’s Day.

I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. Even the turn-off-your-cellphone announcer is going to open by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!” You could always hide in a nice seedy bar, I suppose. Or an ER.

And then this.

But my main gripe about Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, and my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men. I have loved them my entire life, even after their passing.

What do you think? Why do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Does this holiday make those women who are not parents feel inferior?