Top 10 Reasons Why Burning the Quran is a Horrible Decision

10: It is the sacred writing of the Islamic religion. Whether you believe in what the holy book says or not, it doesn’t matter. It should be treated with the respect and the honor that those who believe in it have for it.

9: This will solve nothing. Burning their holy book will do nothing to quiet their distaste for us (yes your actions will be including me since you and I call ourselves Christian) and only provokes more retaliation.

8: The armed Christian conservative group, “Right Winged Extreme”, who were going to send you 500-2000 armed members to provide security, pulled out of their commitment because they think what you are doing is un-Christian. ‘Here’s your sign…’ (HT: Hacking Christianity)

7: Burning the Quran will only show ignorance.

6: Doing this will only create more of “us” verses “them” all over the world, yes ALL OVER THE WORLD! Don’t you remember what happened in Denmark?

5: Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass to change the world forever, he wasn’t being an ass. Try to be more like Jesus.

4: Matthew 7:12

3: Jesus said pray for our enemies.

2: 9/11 was a horrible day when thousands of people died. Christians, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and countless others all died at the hand of evil men. Maybe a better way of remembering them is to gather and pray and worship the loving and forgiving God who saves us all from the evil in this world.

1: You are upset because of select number of radical extremist of a peaceful religion are doing something in the name of their god to hurt others in other places of the world. Well guess what all the rest of us Christians are thinking about you!

PLEASE CANCEL THIS EVENT!

Advice to New Ministers

As my Annual Conference starts new week my mind wandered to the newbies entering the ministry. Those fresh out of Divinity School ministers who march energetically into their first appointment with a sparkle in their eye. I remember when that happened for me and now 7 years later what I have really learned about ministry. So here is some pieces of wisdom I have learned in my short term as a minister/preacher/pastor/guy in the black dress on Sunday.

  • These should be your priorities, God (personal relationship not ministry), Family, Church. Once you place Church in front of the other two, your screwed!
  • Discover who God created you to be and then BE YOU. Find your ministerial identity. Find and perfect YOUR preaching, leadership, teaching, and pastoral care style.s Ministers, more than any other profession, have to work harder than ever not to live into other’s expectations. Everyone thinks they know who you are and how you should do your job. Don’t give into everyone’s expectations of yourself and be who you are.
  • You will fail. At some point, in some moment in ministry, you will fail. Live with it. Get over it. Learn from it. If you don’t learn anything from failure your not doing it right.
  • Be your congregations pastor not friend. People want to feel warm and fuzzy all the time in church. They want a pastor who loves them but what they really want is a ‘best friend pastor’. Someone they can connect with but not be pushed by. You are called by God to be a minister not a best friend. True love is hard work, difficult, and full of conflict, but it is still love and so worth it in the end. Love your congregation like Christ loves us. Christ is willing to wrap us up in a hug when needed but also to look us in the eye and disrupt our soul in order to get closer to him, both are love. DO BOTH!
  • Change nothing for the first year. You may have heard this in seminary but trust me it works. Take that first year to listen, find out who the people are, and honor their past. Don’t walk in and scrap everything they were doing and think you can do it better. Get to know EVERYONE and pray a lot. After that year you can then move forward by knowing the direction God wants you to take and the people who can get you there.
  • TAKE YOUR DAMN DAY OFF! You will always have something to do in ministry, it never ends. Get use to it. Get use to the feeling that there is always something waiting and bidding for your attention because it will always be there. If your congregation cannot live without you for 24 hours, then you are doing something wrong. You need that time and your congregation (no matter what they say) needs you to take that time.
  • Put your family first, even if you are not married. The 4th of July and New Years Eve are holidays I share only with my wife/family. Church gets so much attention during the big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, I know what you are thinking, Thanksgiving? but think about it, you’re really thinking about the 1st Sunday of Advent on that Thursday!) Give your spouse/family/friends something that is only and solely theirs.
  • Ministry is AWE…wait for it…SOME! You get to work for God and change people’s lives. You get invited into the most intimate and tender moments of people’s lives. You get to offer peace and love to people in need. Even with all the junk that comes with it, in the end and no matter what the other people say who have had a bad experience…it is SO WORTH IT!

Prosperity Junk Mail

I opened up a nice piece of junk mail the other day. It was for a “blessed-by-prayer Bible faith Cross of prosperity.” Now usually I would toss this into the trash but in our present economic condition I was wondering what they said. Their premise was that, according to St. Matthew 18:19 this cross they will send you can be of great spiritual, physical and financial blessings.

Matthew 18:19 reads (NIV)”Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” Yes I know, the theological loophole into God’s ATM.

I am sure that as we head deeper into the recession or as it drags on there will be more stuff like this. More Jesus crap that doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus. It prays on people’s need for stuff and to make life happier through material things. It is pure Prosperity Gospel which once again has nothing really to do with the True Gospel. It is a present wrapped up in Jesus wrapping paper but when you open it you have nothing but empty promises and greed.

But then again people want Jesus to be what they want Jesus to be. They want him to be a giver of the American dream, not salvation. When we do come face to face with Jesus we tend to be the rich young ruler. We run away because instead of getting all we can, we learn Jesus wants us to give it all away.

Religion’s View of Sex

Here is an interesting graphic describing the different views religions have on sex (and others). (HT: The Blingdom of God) It is interesting to note that Roman Catholics are the only Christian denomination mentioned. Yet, I don’t think that many Protestant denominations would disagree with all the views. But I do think they wouldn’t get as much red.

I learned that Buddhists allow with masturbation and homosexual orientation. I am curious though what is behind the “in most cases”? Roman Catholics believe it is not right to masturbate but in some cases it is okay? I to would rather someone touch themselves and not others. Also, what cases is it wrong for Jews to use birth control?

My limited knowledge of the Jewish faith also has me questioning their stance (of course according to this graphic) on premarital sex. I was a little shocked that they are so ‘for’ premarital sex. Being our ‘father’ religion, I thought they would have a stronger tone to it. Or at least be against the idea.

Upon further research into the stats behind this graphic I was lead to ReligiousTolerance.org and their survey on teachings by faith groups on sexuality. Within this research is even some more interesting facts. Below is their list, and their numbers mean, 1 = “condemned”, 2 = “morally unacceptable in most cases”, 3 = “neutral” or “no clear position”, 4 = “morally acceptable in most cases”, 5 = “blessed”.
The website states that the information came out of the following: “The San Francisco Chronicle compiled a checklist of sexual ethics “based on official reports and expert advice.” 1 They included four Christian denominations (Baptists, Roman Catholicism, Methodism and Mormonism), and three non-Christian religions (Buddhism, Islam and Judaism). By “Baptists” they seem to be referring to conservative Baptists, like the Southern Baptist Convention. By “Judaism” they may be referring to Reform or Conservative faith groups. “
It is interesting to look at the different beliefs about human sexuality within the different major religions. I am in agreement of their findings on Methodists. Although I think it is telling when you look at the numbers on homosexuality. We have a 4 or morally acceptable in most cases on homosexual orientation but then we have a 1 and two 2s when it comes to homosexual acts or lifestyles. That kind of sends a mixed message. You are of sacred worth, you just can’t live it out. I guess it is the idea, love the sinner hate the sin.
Very interesting though. Enjoy and let me know you thoughts.

Is this really being a follower of Christ?

While reading the wonderful signage at Crummy Church Signs, which always brightens my day when I read the bottom of the post. It seems the faithful followers over at Westboro Baptist with the guidance of the insane Phelps are going to picket Heath Ledger’s funeral. Why? Because he played a gay cowboy, which according to this flyer, states that “Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there – beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.”

There are too many things that sicken me about this flyer and the idea that this remotely looks like anything Christ stands for or teaches. I am truly lost for words and I pray they cannot picket anywhere near the actual location of the funeral because the Ledger family should be able to mourn their loss in peace and not be subject to these people’s disturbing idea of evangelism and being faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ. All I can do is pray…

Lord, I do not know how you stand all that happens in your name. I do not know how you hold back your wrath but I thank you that you do. Because I am sure I too misrepresent you with my thoughts and actions too. Holy God, I pray for those will see the signs that these picketers will hold up and think it is your Gospel. I pray for those holding the signs who think this what you desire for them as your followers. Mold me, Westboro Baptist Church, and all others who fall short of your glory into a better likeness of your Son, who was full of uncompromising and unconditional love. AMEN.

Scientology

On the Today Show there was a headline that Germany might ban Scientology stating that it is not truly a religion. The German Interior Minister states that Scientology is unconstitutional because it restricts essential basic and human rights like the dignity of man or the right to equal treatment.

Now I am not a fan of Scientology and believe it is a money making scheme of L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology is birthed out of the psychospiritual or self-improvement groups of the 20th century. It has been hotly debated if Scientology is actually a religion or not over its 50+ years in existence. You can learn more at their website here.

But what made me think during this piece is what makes a religion a religion. Does a religion have to be constitutional to be a religion? If it is not constitutional is it deemed a cult? If the quote from the Interior Minister of German dictates what a religion then aren’t all religions not a religion because of one part of their theology and/or history?

In the Hindu faith there is belief in the cast system (with some and not with all). Christians believed in the biblical principals of slavery at one time. What scares the German government so much about Scientology? Is it their history of espionage or crazy celebrity spokespersons (yes that is you Tom!)? Maybe it is within some of the truth in this story from Britian.

I know there is a ton of secrets about Scientology and very weird ways of looking at the world. The levels of Scientology, or Operating Thetans, are the way one works up the ladder in the religion. Each level comes with money requirements. Maybe that is the restrictions to human rights or the fact they do not believe in some modern day medical practices. It will be interesting to see what Germany comes up with.

One comment that popped out during the Today Show piece was Ann Archer’s comment. She states, in LA and the US scientology is highly respected. I am not sure what LA thinks but I do know that on this side of the US many question and doubt the validity of the ‘religion’ and might agree more with the German government.

I also found this video from MSNBC very interesting and informative. One I found scary is Tom Cruises speech here. Is study technology a religion or simply a science?