God in a box

Gods_Forever_FamilyI’m currently reading the book, God’s Forever Family” by Larry Eskridge which is a definitive work chronicling the Jesus Movement from 1966 to 1976 across America. I’m especially interested in this account since I lived through the Jesus Movement and was part of it, but more about that in another post. The Jesus Movement began around 1966 in the hippie subculture of San Francisco’s Haight-Asbury district. Some of the early converts in the Jesus Movement included Jim and Judy Dopp. Larry Eskridge writes:

Jim was a native of Des Moines, Iowa and had served in the Marines. Married after a 3-month whirlwind courtship in 1959, they headed out to California and ended up in Berkeley. Hoping to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian like Lenny Bruce, Jim began working in clubs and strip joints as well as maintaining a regular job as a factory sales rep for the Philip Morris Tobacco Company. On Sundays, the Dopps attended the local Lutheran church–despite the fact that they were fairly doubtful about there even being a God. Along with being Republicans and admirers of Barry Goldwater, they were members of Berkeley’s Sexual Freedom League.

They found themselves caught in the allure of the Bay Area drug scene, as well as a haightashbury666desire for spiritual truth. After experimenting with LSD a couple of times, Jim Dopp dropped by the home of his new found friend Ted Wise in October of 1966 to visit and smoke some joints. Dopp recounted that during that visit, Wise leaned close to him and shared his own revelatory insight about “the Rat that lives in the cellar of our soul.”

Haight_Asbury_Summer_of_LoveAffected by the marijuana, Dopp lay down on the floor and began to contemplate Wise’s words with the lyrics of a Bob Dylan song that was playing in the background. While he lay there, he began to meditate on his spiritual condition and came to a profound realization:

 

I finally got it. I was a rat. And it was my soul that was repenting. I thought to myself, “Maybe there is a God.” I hadn’t considered that possibility in a number of years, when suddenly a peace came over me, my breathing became easier. My chest became lighter. And I said, letting out a long sigh, “Oh, Father forgive me.” Immediately the entire weight that was on my chest was gone, and the rush of relief from my heart was one of exultation….My eyes were closed and there was a bright light in front of me. I felt such happiness.  I had never known anything like this before….I understood in an instant that God is my Father and I am his child…They joy, peace and love that I had in my heart for God and others was just incredible. Never had I realized anything comparable before….”

Here’s what really caught my attention: As the Dopps embarked on their new found odyssey with Jesus, they were hanging out with their friends, dropping LSD and leading others to Jesus. Steve Heffner, a dj on one of San Francisco’s rock stations, visited Ted Jesus_PeopleWise and quizzed him as to what he was up to. Wise whispered to him, “Jesus Christ, man….He’s gathering his church in this period and a lot of people are going to be coming to the Lord…that’s what’s happening, man.” With that, Wise shepherded Steve Heffner on his first acid trip. Afterward, he recalled that it was immediately after coming off the acid that he had seen the light:

“All I know is that when I took LSD, I was a seeker, and when I woke up the next morning, I was a Christian!”

Now, this is the place in the story where some of you reading this are saying, “That’s not God. God wouldn’t do that.” And that’s my point, why not? Why can’t God bring someone to know Him while they are on an acid trip. And, I’m not advocating drugs. I’ve never used drugs, but I do find Sudafed helpful to keep me awake at times.

Time_Jesus_RevolutionBy the way, these early believers in the Jesus Movement in San Francisco and elsewhere eventually stopped using drugs as they grew and matured as followers of Jesus. They all can point to the day and time when the Spirit of God convicted them that their drug use was a crutch and a poor substitute, getting in the way of their witness and becoming a stumbling block to others. As someone once said to me, “When we come to God, He cleans our ‘house’ one room at a time.” Eventually, God got to the room where they kept their drugs and cleaned that out, but He did so in His own good time. Were they still saved, while doing LSD? Of course they were. Does God’s grace not extend to and beyond the use of LSD, or alcohol, or whatever? Of course.

As I read this, I thought of all the ways that we “box God in.” We ALL put God in a box, saying or believing that He can’t do this or won’t do that. We LIMIT God and what He will do to bring others to the knowledge of Him, or what He will do in our daily lives to show us that He is the strong and mighty God, the Creator of the Universe.

I’ll follow up on this post with a few more thoughts. But what about you? Do you have God in a neat, little box? In what ways have you boxed God in?

 

Obama to Ukraine: “If you like your country, you can keep your country!”

march_madness2In the current post cold-war conflict with Russia, it’s Putin over Obama, 5-1. This is what happens when you elect “President Cool.” He’s more at home filling out the brackets for March Madness on ESPN than he is standing up to a Russian dictator, or so it seems, because image is everything.

In the final debate of the presidential campaign, President Barack Obama sarcastically made fun of Romney making Romney out to be a novice who lacked understanding of complex world issues. Here is what Obama sneeringly and sarcastically said to Romney in the final debate:

“Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaida. You said Russia … the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said.

Obama, you’re so funny, so clever. Romney was right then, and you as you are so often were wrong and clueless.

putin-march madnessI have a theory though, and I’ve heard it posited at a few other places, but here goes. I actually believe that Obama is in league with Putin. Obama is not putting up any opposition to Vladimir as he invades the Ukraine. Obama is a Marxist and he doesn’t believe that the U.S. is any better than Russia or Iran for that matter.

I suspect that the reason Obama is

Teddy Roosevelt: "Walk softly and carry a big stick."

Teddy Roosevelt: “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”

NOT arming the Ukraine with weapons, and not restoring our missile defense system in Poland which he dismantled because we are now in the post-Cold War 21-first century where everyone plays “nice”, and not immediately giving the green light for oil and gas exploration to be expanded here in the U.S so we can fill the void in Europe’s energy needs if Russia cuts them off, is because Obama WANTS Putin to succeed. I believe that behind the scenes Obama has cut a deal with Putin and is helping Putin restore the old Soviet Union, and maybe even expand it further to include all of Germany in the next few months or years.

Remember when Obama made the off-handed remark caught on open mic, to the Russian President Dimitry Medvedev:

 “This is my last election. After my election, I’ll have more flexibility” (referring to missile defense). Everything you see

Obama to Medeyev: "I'll have more flexibility after I'm re-elected."

Obama to Medeyev: “I’ll have more flexibility after I’m re-elected.”

Obama doing is the flexibility that he promised the Russians. He is so “flexible” that he’s willing to let them carve up Europe, just so that Communist Russia can once again inflict more pain and hardship on a greater segment of the world population.

We’re now seeing Obama carry out his promise to the Russians and showing them how flexible he can be. He’s bending over backwards to accommodate Putin, and I’m sure that somewhere down the road, Obama will be richly rewarded, as the good Marxist that he is.

The Conspiracy to Snuff Out E-cigarettes

Let me go on record saying that I’ve never smoke a cigarette in my life. When I stand near a chain-smoker, I sometimes gag because they reek of nicotine. However, having said that, I will defend the right of smokers who are being marginalized as “lepers” in our present-day politically-correct culture.

Chicago has a ban on E-cigarettes in public places.

Chicago has a ban on E-cigarettes in public places.

We have the self-appointed smoke-Nazis, who have made it their business to ban cigarettes anywhere and everywhere. I live in a city that is controlled by smoke-Nazis and they have banned smoking in our city, period. These leftist-liberals in my city are just like those in Colorado, or New York City—they love exercising power and control over the lives of others. Some restaurants have gone out of business because of the smoking ban in my city. But here’s the rub: The smoke-Nazis aren’t satisfied with turning ordinary Americans into criminals for smoking, they are NOW going after those who use E-cigarettes.

e-cigarettesWe have over 40-million smokers here in the U.S. and E-cigarettes provide a potent dose of nicotine to satisfy a smoker’s craving, but also allow for the ritual of inhaling and exhaling a smoke-like mist, which is composed almost entirely of water. Most E-cigarettes have a LED-tip that glows red, but without tobacco, without combustion and without smoke. The ingredients are recognized as being safe.

E-cigarette sales have exploded over the last few years and provide a healthful transition from harmful cigarette smoking.

E-cig-nazisDespite any evidence of harm from E-cigarette vaping, there is a bizarre trend sweeping our country to enact measures to ban, restrict the sale of E-cigs or tax E-cigs as if they are actually cigarettes. Excuses being made for attacking E-cigarettes range from “We just don’t know what will happen in the next five to ten years,” to “We don’t know what’s in them.” Yet, the irony is that many leftists in cities like Denver, Boulder, Portland, or Seattle want to regulate or ban E-cigarettes but they support the use and public sale of marijuana. How can marijuana get a pass while E-cigarettes are subject to all this scrutiny and phony trumped-up concern?

Why do all these public health groups want to ban, regulate or tax E-cigarettes when the e-cig-ban2facts show that they are basically harmless? I believe that this is because they want control over almost every aspect of our lives. They want to determine what size soda you can drink, what kind of buttered popcorn you can eat. They want to mandate what kind of food your child can bring to school, and they’ve banned sodas from school vending machines. These are the same do-gooders who want to tell you where and when you can light up a cigarette and if that weren’t enough, they want to include E-cigarettes.

The misguided, public crusade by do-gooders like the American Cancer Society, the FDA, and local governments against E-cigarettes is more harmful than any E-cigarettes. It’s another effort to abridge our liberties and freedoms by the Nanny-state which has deputized themselves as your protector because they think you’re too stupid to make wise decisions, therefore they will do it for you.

Did you ever learn the ABC’s of the Christian faith?

When I was in kindergarten, I remember learning my ABC’s. We sang a simple song abcswhich helped us to memorize the alphabet. I’m sure you sang the same song: “….now I know my abc’s. Tell me what you think of me?” What would my professors in college have thought if instead of reading history, philosophy or psychology, I asked if I could sing my “ABCs” again and again. Most likely they would’ve thought that I was a mental case and nowhere near being ready for college, or maybe they might have thought they were being “pranked”. 

Along these lines the writer of Hebrews says that if we want to move on to maturity as Christians, we need to leave the elementary doctrine of Christ (the ABC’s of the faith) and move on to more difficult matters which require greater study and concentration.

But here’s the rub: What the writer of Hebrews considers as the elementary teachings of the Christian faith, most Christians today would be dumbfounded to explain. Here are the ABC’s, the basics of the Christian faith according to the book of Hebrews.

Baptism-2011When you become a Christian, here’s what you need to KNOW and DO as presented here in Hebrews 6. Here are your ABC’s:

  1. Repentance from dead works that lead to death. This could be a reference to paganism, but certainly would include repentance from our trust in this world system. As the Apostle Paul stated, all things that were of worth or prestige for him, he counted as the excretion that you flush down the toilet. In other words, Paul, who had excelled at learning, put no trust in his academic endeavors. Do we get our identity from a piece of paper hanging framed on the wall, or does our identity come from Christ? What do we value as important? True repentance means valuing ONLY those things that are kingdom values. 

Dead works can mean anything that we participated in that gave our life meaning and purpose, apart from Jesus and His saving grace.

  1. Faith towards God. This is spelled out more fully in Hebrews 11 where examples are given of those Old Testament saints who exhibited authentic faith toward God. Hebrews gives us a picture of what “real faith” toward God looks like. baptism-top
  1. Teaching about baptisms. What baptisms? I believe the writer of Hebrews is talking about John’s baptism of repentance, and then the New Testament baptism into Christ. According to the community of believers in the book of Acts, baptism meant that you were burying your old man in the waters of baptism and being raised to a new life in Christ. Many churches today baptize new believers as a symbolic act, but that is not what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 6:3-4. Paul is talking about a spiritual reality that takes place when a new believer is submerged into the waters of baptism. There’s NOTHING symbolic about it. Also, baptism was the way that Christians announced their faith in Christ to the world. They didn’t walk down the aisle of a church, or pray the sinner’s prayer—they announced to the world that they were following Jesus by following him into the waters of baptism. 
  1. Teaching about the laying on of hands. What’s that mean? In many evangelical
    Hundreds being baptized at the monthly Calvary Chapel baptism at Corona Del Mar, CA.

    Hundreds being baptized at the monthly Calvary Chapel baptism at Corona Del Mar, CA.

    churches, you’d be hard-pressed to see an example of the “laying on of hands” but here in Hebrews, it’s referred to as one of the elementary teachings of the faith. The “laying on of hands” which is still practiced today in many charismatic and Pentecostal churches around the world, was associated with baptism. The laying on of hands was done to impart a blessing, or to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to the believer. 

Acts 8:18 says that Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of The laying on of handshands. Paul writes to Timothy to fan the flame of the gift that was given to him through the laying on of hands. So, we lay hands on believers for prayer, for imparting the power of the Holy Spirit, for healing, for blessing. The elders in the church at Antioch fasted, prayed and laid hands on Paul and Barnabas before sending them off to Cypress. I could give many more scriptural examples but you get the idea. 

  1. Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. What is this all about? It should more accurately be translated “judgment in the coming age.” This is teaching about life after death, about rewards for the good and punishment for the wicked. The resurrection of Christ was the first fruits of a harvest where subsequent believers would be resurrected and given new bodies. 

The teaching on eternal judgment would include that those who are unbelievers will be judged as Paul writes in Romans 2:5, “Because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” The teaching on judgment would’ve included God’s righteous judgment which observed the suffering of his saints on his behalf and the assurance that their faith would be rewarded. Finally, teaching on eternal judgment would include the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20:11 where the dead were judged according to the book of life, and according to what they had done.

I’ve just scratched the surface touching on each of these elementary teachings of the Christian faith. But the sad fact is that most Christian churches don’t teach these ABC’s of the Christian faith. Sadly, I have to admit that as a pastor, I too failed in this regard. I taught these basics in bits and pieces but not to the extent that those in my church could articulate what they really meant with any real understanding.

The point that the writer of Hebrews is making is not that we go back over this ground but that we MOVE on to maturity in Christ. But how can we move on to maturity if we’ve never studied the basics? It’s not that we’ve forgotten our ABC’s of the Christian faith—it’s that we have NEVER learned them. We’ve just been getting by on the equivalent of grunts and hand signals, like some primitive tribe.

In California, a “bait fish” is MORE valuable than human lives! Let them eat smelt!

In today’s WSJ, Allysia Finley interviews a grower from the Central Valley of California who central_valleyexpresses his anger and outrage over the siege that farmers and growers in the fertile central valley have come under by politicians, regulators, and environmental-terrorists.

Here’s the Cliff notes version of what’s going on:

They (the regulators and environmentalists) have taken water from the farmers to try to restore fish in a dry river. They made the farmers flood fields because they don’t flood anymore, and then paid to have owls trapped and relocated. They allow San Francisco to take water but not farmers. They refuse to build reservoirs to trap rainwater and then dump excess rainwater in the ocean, instead of using it to irrigate the farms.

The delta smelt-more valuable than human beings.

The delta smelt-more valuable than human beings.

Now the politicians and regulators are taking away the water after allowing perfectly good water to run into the ocean during a drought to save a stupid bait fish called the smelt. 

I added my two cents to the discussion on the community forum which so far has about 240 comments. Here’s my contribution to the discussion over this issue which is going to result in higher food prices (that’s really going to help the poor!):

The lunacy in California where a fish (the smelt) is considered as valuable or MORE smelt=2important than the livelihood of these farmers goes all the way back to Darwin’s theory of evolution. If you don’t believe that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and if you believe that we “evolved” from nothing (ex-nihilo–out of nothing), then man is NOT special, has no special claim on the order of species, is considered no more important than a “smelt” fish or a rat or some insect.

save_delta_smelt_'F'_the_farmersThis is the worldview of environmentalists, animal-rights’ activists, and most who subscribe to Darwin’s theory of evolution. They can’t make a case for man at the top of the food chain. He is nothing special, so that’s why they make bone-headed decisions to dump thousands of gallons of rain water run-off into the ocean (to protect a stupid fish).

It really DOES matter what you believe. Those who believe in evolution can’t make a case for the value of man as having preeminence in subduing the earth as stated in Genesis. But those who believe that God created man in his image and told him to take care of the earth and gave him the right to name the animals (which means authority OVER), KNOW that environmentalism is based on a flawed belief system that is shaking its fist at God and believes in creatures rather than the Creator, who is the Lord God Almighty!

Here is a challenge….go for a week without eating anything grown, raised, or made from products produced on a farm.