Friday, March 11, 2005

Is Faith for the Small Minded?

I read an article on John Travolta last Sunday (Life, March 4, 2005). They asked him about his interest in Scientology - a pseudo religion. He said, "Scientology is for people who want to think for's the opposite of other religious philosophies, where you are told what to think." Hmmmm.

I've got two problems with that. First, it's good to be told what to think if you are in the dark about truth. Who wouldn't welcome that? Only the fool ignores truth when offered to him/her. Second, being told what to think doesn't preclude thinking all together. Once you are given the truth, then you can apply the truth in all of your reasoning. Receiving truth doesn't shut down thinking, it should expand it.

Travolta is reacting to what many have observed; that some Christians stop thinking when they believe (or other religious types as well). As much as I disagree with Travolta, I understand what promps his words. Sometimes faith is a cloud that descends on someone. Once that happens, they are worthless. You can guess their response to every question because they have been "programmed" to believe certain things. They simply spit out the "right" answer.

Travolta isn't alone. I recently read Harriette Cole's problem solving column in the St. Paul paper. Two people responded about the close-mindedness of Christians. One said, "I grew up with religion, but when I grew, I began to realize how irrational and unsupportive the whole system of religion is." And another protested, "Athiests believe in a moral society based on scientific truths, not a magical fantasy book that our slave-owning, witch-burning ancestors waved like a flag."

It's easy to discount these criticisms as "anti-God", but I think they are more anti - closemindedness than anything. We can show the world better than this. We don't have to be simplistic. I don't believe Jesus was. Simple answers are easy but God has never made convenience a priority to my knowledge. Some of the world's best thinkers have been strong believers in Jesus Christ. Let's follow their example and bring honor to our faith not ridicule.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Lure of E-Mail

I spoke on Sunday about internet pornography. Thankfully that's not a temptation to me. My biggest temptation is checking my e-mail! I office primarily out of my home (less distracting) and my computer is in our dining room (very central to our home). The computer screen seems to always be calling out to me.

There's something about mail that is alluring. As a kid, I always loved checking the mailbox. Back then, there wasn't much junk mail. If you got a letter it was usually hand written by someone you knew like grandma or someone. So I always had a sense of expectancy going to the maibox.

I feel that way when I open my yahoo account. I suppose it's because I'm a pastor that makes it exciting. I probably send and receive about 60 emails a day (total). I'm in contact with a lot of people and I'm often hearing good news. God is up to good things in a lot of lives. Other emails come from leaders with questions about their ministry. Sometimes I get emails from people across the country who read an article or sermon that I wrote and they want to thank me. Those are fun!

Knowing that there might be a mailbox with pressing questions or good news makes it hard for me to not check it frequently. It's addicting. I almost "need" to get that continual flow of information to be content. That's a little scary. So I started a new discipline. On Fridays (my new day off), I'm not going to check my email at all for 24 hours. I guess you can say it's a fast. I'm amazed how calming it is for me to stop the information flow. It's like not drinking coffee for a day. You don't get the buzz and your thoughts aren't bouncing around your head as fast as usual.

I share this because maybe you can ask yourself...What is it that I need to have flowing into me to be content? And ...What is it that God might be asking me to fast?

Sermon Out-takes

Every week I have to throw out something from my sermon that I like. I think and read a lot all week and I REALLY want to cram it all into my sermon - but I just can't do it. Good thing we have to be out of the CineMagic by noon because it forces me to be concise! But I realized the other day that this blog is a good place to put those out-takes.

Last week I was talking about Romans 1 -3. Paul's making the point that we can't judge others because we all have issues. To us, those issues are minor. But to God they probably look fairly similar because he looks behind the behavior to the attitude of the heart. Didn't Jesus say that lust was equal to adultery and anger equal to murder?

I was thinking that if I asked God to send me the sins of my heart, I'd expect him to send me a short e-mail. But God would probably have to put it on a CD to hold all the files. I think that's a good idea of how far off I am when I am quick to overlook my sin and judge others. There's a lot more there than I think there is. How about you?