Saturday, May 28, 2011

War of the Peace-Lovers

Guest blogger today! This is an essay my daughter Nikki wrote for her Modern World History class. She's 15.

“My religion is better!”
“No, MINE is!”
A fight that happens ALL THE FREAKING TIME!! And I’m getting tired of it! People fight because they WANT to, NOT need to for their religion. It’s silly! I sometime feel like one of the few people who know what peacemaking is! And I’m at my sister’s throat very often. So, I will tell you the reasons of why there should be peace between religions.

First off, the basics of the three most common religions are the same. A lot of the change comes with “do you believe in Jesus, and if so, what is he to you”. Heck! It gets so bad, at least in Christianity, that different TYPES of the same religion fight! Most of us supposedly love peace, are good pacifists, and don’t sin(at least not very much) but their constantly at war, they sin left and right without repenting and are at each other’s… no everyone’s necks. Not very good at what’s supposed to be done.

Next,if and when the world comes to an end, what would we do if there was no gods or higher powers that created us and witches just had overactive imaginations(nothing against my friend)? What if the evolutionary and big bang theories were correct? Would there have been any point to arguing? I know I don’t enjoy getting angry over nothing. I know I personally believe in God, who created everything as is. But others don’t… and I get curious: what would happen if I were wrong? Would all of us, the Christians, die? I hate to think of it that way, but it’s possible. Anyone can be wrong when it comes to religion. Heck, maybe all gods are real… and they will treat their followers well in their own way. Then again I could decide to sound like an atheist and say all religious figures are fake and we’re all idiots, but I won’t because I believe in one. Actually, I think that it’s possible that many exist.

Even if you have completely different religions you can just avoid talking about it. I don’t even ask religion very often. It’s that I just don’t care, a person is who they are; religion doesn’t change that… that and I forget to ask. If you’re like me as far as you know your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend could be in an opposing religion, and then you’d start “hating” them or ignore them like they don’t exist.

This probably won’t affect anyone but, I’m a Christian and my friend she’s a witch… no, she does NOT make potions with newt’s eye or fly using a broom! She speaks with spirits, which is why it opposes to Christianity. So… I act like I don’t know what her religion is. I act ignorant. It’s not like I want to be ignorant. If she starts speaking to spirits in front of me though… I’m not gonna stick around, I’m at least in the other room, and she won’t come to any church, I don’t think either of mind though, I certainly don’t. We ignore and avoid it. Just like I suggested.

I just feel that too many friendships are at risk because of religious arguments. And we should all shut up about it before more people die. Being caught up in the middle of a battle that I have no intention to fight, that’s what I am. If adults don’t feel the pain they’re causing, and very few children do, how are we supposed to stop the war of the “peace lovers”?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Too Much, Too Soon

Stacy just found the blogs and writes in:

I wanted to know your thoughts, if you have time, about being fearfully and wonderfully made and having disabilities and/or handicaps. This is something I'm not understanding and have not been able to find an answer I have peace with in my spirit. I've grown up as an army brat when it comes to churches going from conservative to charasmatic to really charasmatic and now attend a great Four Square which is both conservative and has quiet veins of charasmatic running through it which is a perfect fit for me. My issue though is that the school of thought I run into is that something like a handicap or addiction or whatnot is because it's something we allowed into our life, like an open window for the enemy to come in, or our parents sinned and let that spirit /problem in, or generational curses and the like. I've also heard that our handicaps or disability is a gift that is to be used for the glory of God and then others say it can be used by God but that we should always pray to be healed since God wants to heal us.

If we are fearfully and wonderfully made then were do handicaps/disabilities come in? How can one be fearfully and wonderfully made while being say crippled? Or mentally challenged etc. ? I don't see how those flaws fit in with the fearfully and wonderfully made part? I mean noone looks at a crippled person and says "That's great! I want to be that way too!". We all know it's an issue and noone would want that problem. And yet we're told we're fearfully and wonderfully made and God knitted us in our mother's womb. I mean did He knit that crippling/physical or mental problem in too?

My response:

I love my charismatic brothers and sisters, but they have taken their proper emphasis on healing and turned it into an "overrealized eschatology." This means that they take things that are promised to us in the final kingdom of God and expect that we should be living it all now.

In the kingdom, we will all be healed, there will be perfect justice, and we will all be unified. Right now, although there is some unity in the church, there is a lot of division and hatred as well, because we are still working on our maturity in love. Right now, although there is some justice through the church, it is only partially realized because we don't live under the Perfect King. Right now, although there is some healing, not everyone is healed. And some struggle with addictions and sins with no easy out.

We can see this in Scripture. There's the passage you quoted in John 9-- Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (Joh 9:3 NAU) Also we have the evangelist Epaphrophitus who was "sick even to death" but God had mercy on him to spare him and Paul. This means that he was sick, and he could have died. Eventually he was healed, but it wasn't an instant healing, and he could have died from it. Paul had no expectation that his co-worker should have just had more faith to be healed. Rather, it was the will of God that was the main issue. (Phil. 2:25-27).

Some say that we are promised healing in the atonement of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5). But in that passage we are also promised shalom, the peace and justice of God. However shalom is not yet fully realized, and so we cannot take that passage and say that everyone in all cases should be healed right now. Eventually we will be, but for now, we must struggle.

We can see this with Paul in II Corinthians 12. A "messenger of Satan" attacked Paul continuously. We don't know what this is. It could be a sickness or disability. It could be a sin he struggled with continuously. All we know is that it limited Paul's salvation and that it came from Satan. And Paul prayed about it, but it was not taken away. Instead, God told him, "My strength will be made perfect through weakness." God told Paul to accept his weakness-- to accept a messenger of Satan!-- as part of his life, because God's work was being done through it. Even so, our weaknesses: sickness, addiction, disability-- some of these will be healed. Others, however, we will have to live with because God is at work in us.

God makes it clear that our character will only become mature through suffering.

3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
(Rom 5:3-4 NAU)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(Jam 1:2-4 NAU)

These "trials" or "tribulations" are actually best translated "tests" and they can take the form of suffering or persecution or personal weakness or temptations. This is how our maturity happens. Only in this way can we find perfect joy.

Hope that helps.

God bless you and keep the faith in love!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

In Praise of 400 Years of the KJV

The King James Bible is a touchstone of English literature. It is not the first English translation of the Bible, nor is it necessarily the best. However, it is the first universally accepted scholarly translation of the Bible, and it is the very rare balance between art and accuracy.

The language of the KJV is so gorgeous that writers such as Herman Melville, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot, and many others have been influenced by it. It is THE classic work of English literature.

At the same time, the translation is powerful. The methods of translation are so solid that any Bible who calls itself "standard" uses the same methods of literal translation. The KJV was called "authorized" because it was approved to be read in all the congregations of the Church of England, and later in the Episcopal church. And rightly so. The scholars had to balance the 17th century battle between the formal Anglicans and the Calvinist Puritans. Other translations of the Bible were rebelliously Protestant or Puritan. But the KJV scholars had no axe to grind. Instead, they were interested in simple objectivity and beauty.

I rarely use the KJV myself because the language is antiquated, and sometimes misunderstood. Some of the difficult passages are famously misused, such as "Abstain from every appearance of evil." This has been used to restrict people from seeming evil, which Jesus himself could not avoid. The original translation meant, "stay away from doing evil", not seeming like doing evil as our modern understanding of "appearance" means.

Although the KJV's usefulness is limited compared to its original use, it is still a powerful and effective two edged sword. We still read its version of the Lord's Prayer, the classic text of Psalm 23 and the beautiful version of I Corinthians 13. Their translations of the Psalms have never been matched in power and language (it is rumored that Shakespeare helped with the translation of Psalms).

We should take time to read the KJV again, or at least portions of it, to remind us of this most influential English text.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

(Psa 22:1-11 KJV)