Monday, 28 March 2011

I Can't Take All the Credit, But...

Power use jumps for Earth Hour

From here...
Despite pleas to tune off and turn off, Edmonton saw a spike in power usage during this year's Earth Hour.

Edmonton was not the only city that seemed to ignore Earth Hour -so did Calgary, where utility provider Enmax reported no change in power consumption.

Let's hear it for the independent spirit that, if not alive and well, seems to be at least surviving in Alberta.

One of my favourite notes regarding this whole earth-hour mania comes in a comment by Michael D. on The MCJ. He writes,

I live in Vancouver, where all of our electricity comes from hydro power. On Earth day, a number of earnest Vancouverites turn off their lights (saving no greenhouse gases) and, ironically, light candles (made of paraffin – derived from petroleum).

They should have known better than to expect Albertans to reduce their power consumption when there was a Flames/Oilers game on the tube. It's so difficult to watch TV by candlelight.

Take Care

Saturday, 26 March 2011

We Don't Need to be Like Jonah

In answer to the question, "... why is it that so many times we need to have that "belly of the fish" experience before we fully recognize and surrender to God?"

We can be open at all times to God's will, and be willing to follow it, knowing that it is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12, 1-2). We now have something to know this that Jonah did not have -- we have God's complete written word, and we have the Holy Spirit to convince us it is true and to be trusted. By His word we can be confident that whatever God calls us to, He will also equip us to accomplish. We must always pray that we would have discernment to see His will for our lives, the courage to do it, and the persistence to stick with it.

Pray it for me, if you would.

Take Care

Thursday, 24 March 2011

In Honour of Earth Hour

Put Your Lights On, Santana, Everlast

8.30 PM, 26 March 2011. I don't leave many lights on anyway, and if I weren't so cheap, I would turn all of them on just to spite this new religion. But it would cost me money, and I really do, honest, try to save energy, so I won't.

Great song, by the way.

Take Care

Not That New After All

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

I am reading, "Between Two Worlds" by John Stott. The book was published in 1982, and in it he tells of something that happened in 1968; both dates well before I became a Christian;
I remember vividly how at the fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala, Sweden, in 1968, one of the Geneva secretariat proposed to the section on 'mission' that they include this sentence in their report, 'In this dialogue Christ speaks through the brother, corrrecting our distorted image of the truth.' At first hearing it sounded innocuous, until you realized that 'the brother' meant the non-Christian partner in the dialogue. If this sentence had been accepted, it would have been the only reference in the section report to Christ speaking, and it would have up-ended evangelism into a proclamation of the gospel by the non-Christian to the Christian! (p84)

Unfortunately it is a sentiment that has become all too real in many 'churches' today.

Take Care

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

No Wonder!

No wonder there is a split in Canadian Anglicanism. Check out the folowing two columns from the Anglican Journal, and pay particular attention to the comments. On the first, here..., it is the comments that tell the tale. Some of them are my own. But basically, see how far some go to avoid acknowledging the necessity of regeneration and belief for salvation.

The second, is a suggestion to change the name of the ACoC to something else. Many are in favour, some wanting to identify more closely with the ECUSA, but with one notable commenter thinking it a good thing to be, "... free from the baleful influence of the Articles of Religion."

One even suggested that the ACoC join with the (Evangelical) Lutherans and the United Church of Canada. What a club that would be! It would be a wide road indeed.

Take Care

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Growing Intolerance Towards Conscience Rights

From Here...

In debates about conscience rights something very strange has happened. The left, which used to champion conscience rights, is now frequently opposed to such rights.

This post is inspired in part by this thread and its comments over at Anglican Samizday. It is about a florist who, in conscience, decided she could not provide flowers for a gay wedding. My point here is not to comment on the rightness or wrongness of gay weddings, but whether a citizen in a free society should have a right to freedom of conscience.

The article referenced at the top of this post tends to be concerned with the more serious area of health care, but I believe the basic principle is similar. Should, for instance, a doctor who will not, for moral grounds, provide what he or she feels is an unnecessary abortion, be banned from practicing medicine. I wonder if it may some day come to that. Should a pharmacist who, again on moral grounds, be free not to provide the morning after pill, even though there may be other drug stores close by who will.

Again, from the article,
(There) is a growing belief that once a person receives a license to practice they become, in effect, an agent of the State and therefore must do anything and everything the State requires of them regardless of their own moral convictions.
... an editorial in The New York Times... said that “pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives are engaged in ‘an intolerable abuse of power’ and need to ‘find another line of work.’”
But... (t)he problem with this argument is that it fundamentally rewrites the history and purpose of professional licensing, which has traditionally been aimed at ensuring competence, not on co-opting providers into serving State interests at the expense of their own moral agency.”

I fear we may be heading toward a dictatorship of a politically correct majority, intolerant of any disagreement with its established code.

Take Care

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Why I (Still) Like the Alpha Course

I visited some friends back in Edson this weekend and was given some witnessing material from The Way of the Master, a ministry featuring Ray Comfort and actor Kirk Cameron. I was aware of them before, of course, but this material brought them to the front of my mind once again. I'm afraid I have never been a fan of their style of evangelism. They accost people on the street and Mr Comfort poses questions aimed at having them acknowledge their need for Jesus. I am not going as far as to denounce this, but in my opinion, they tend to be more obnoxious than anything. I must admit that I don't know their record in winning souls for Christ, but in every video clip I've seen of their tactics, they seem to turn people off rather than attract them to Jesus. They ask questions like, "Have you ever lied?" or ,"Have you ever lusted?" or, "Have you ever stolen anything?" Then they try to show the person that he/she is a liar or an adulterer or a thief, have broken the equivalent commandment, and are in need of a Saviour. All correct, of course, but I have the sense they think that by winning an argument, or prevailing in a fight, they will have people flock to Jesus. It seems to be like the UFC of evangelism. Now, I could be wrong of course, and if I am, I truly apologize. But check out the video of their encounter with Anton on the link above. Do you think he came to Christ as a result of this discussion? It seemed to be an attempt to embarass him and argue him into submission more than anything. In other words, did Mr Comfort win a convert, or win an argument.

Jesus, in his earthly ministry, did not accost people in this way. He never chased people to force them to listen to his message. He spoke the truth, and he spoke it to people who either asked him or came to hear him.

I think of the story of the rich young ruler. The young man came to Jesus and asked him how to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him plainly. The young man went away sadly, because he was unprepared to do what Jesus told him to do. Jesus did not chase after him; he did not press his point, hoping that just one more effective argument might convince him.

The Sermon on the mount where Jesus expounded many of the points that Mr Comfort uses in his witnessing, was given to people who followed him to where he taught them, and obviously were willing to listen to what he had to say. Jesus plainly spoke the truth, and in many places in the Bible, he uses the phrase, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

I believe the most effective avangelism is to invite people to come and hear Jesus, then to let Jesus, through his word and teachings, do the work of bringing those with ears to hear, to him.

That is why I like the Alpha Course. It is for people like me who have a difficult time witnessing, because we can all say, as did Phillip, "Come and see." We can all say, as did Andrew, "We have found the Messiah," and bring others to see him. It is for all those who have unsaved loved ones; family or friends; children or parents or siblings; those to whom they have difficulty expressing their own faith and the necessity for a relationship with Jesus. We can all say, "Come to dinner and learn about what Christianity teaches."

I don't want to belittle others' sincere desire to see people come to faith in Christ, and I'm sure The Way of the Master has had some success, but in my experience, the most effective method is just to introduce people to Jesus, be available to answer a seeker's legitimate questions or concerns, but then let Jesus do the rest. He will do the real work.

Take Care

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Joke O' the Day - Creation According to Groucho Marx

"In the beginning, there was nothing. Then God said, "Let there be light". And there was still nothing but you could see it." - Groucho Marx

It's a good thing I didn't have a mouthful of coffee when I heard this.

Take Care

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

They Get It; It's Too Bad We Don't

Christianity the reason for West's success, say the Chinese

From here...
In the West we are doing our best to destroy our Christian heritage but in China, Chinese intellectuals are coming around to the view that it is precisely this heritage that has made the West so successful.

...a quote from a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in which he tries to account for the success of the West, to date.

“One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world. We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful.

“The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.”

I have posted before about my theory that China is poised to become the next great nation, and a Christian one at that. In fact, it will become great in no small part because it will become Christian. And as we become less Christian, we will become less great.

I believe there are any number of reasons for this. Instead of a giving society, we have become a taking one. Instead of a serving people, we have become a demanding and selfish one. Instead of upholding a nation building, family-centered morality, we are a society of lemmings marching over the cliff of immorality, adding to welfare roles and crime rates through irresponsible sexual profligacy, resulting in fatherless families doomed to lives of poverty and limited education.

And we seem, as a society, to be determined to destroy ourselves. Where it is obvious to the Chinese that our Christian heritage has been responsible for our success, our own media and opinion shapers seem determined to erase every vestige of it. Every day we see signs of this push to eradicate the legitimacy of Christianity in our society. Christians, for example, cannot now be foster parents in Britain if they hold to traditional standards of sexual morality.

Here is just another small example, but I see it as a microcosm of a much larger picture. The town of Morinville, Alberta, just north of where I live, has only Catholic schools. Some parents, after generations of the current arrangement, don't want their children going to them, even though they can be exempt from any religious instruction. In yesterday's Edmonton Journal was a column with the heading, "It's absurd to force children to attend Catholic schools." Now, one may sympathize with the parents, although frankly I don't think their children will suffer any harm, but for a newspaper columnist to use words like, "absurd" and, "force" seems a little over the top, and to me is symptomatic of the anti Christian mania that seems to be pervasive today.

The above noted article includes this quote,
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is an instrument of the Chinese Communist government which spends a not inconsiderable amount of time and money persecuting Christians and is officially atheistic. If this is the conclusion it has come to, maybe (we) need to reconsider whether it mightn't be an idea to encourage rather than eradicate Christianity.

Take Care
h/t mcj

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Holy Communion or a Nice Light Snack?

For some reason, there is suddenly a flurry of discussion ( Here... and here... seeming to be leading to a move for open communion in the Anglican church. Traditionally, one must have been baptised in order to receive Holy Communion. But those in favour of this new policy, are pushing for it on the basis of hospitality and inclusivity. (See especially the comments on the second link). They whine that we may hurt people's feelings or turn them away by excluding them from receiving communion.

But this issue again shows that they just don't get it. Holy communion is not the same as coffee time after church. It is not the same as sitting down together for lunch. Allowing someone who doesn't appreciate the sacrifice it recalls to take communion belittles the sacrament. Paul warns very explicitly,
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

Mind you, the onus seems to be on the individual to judge for themselves whether or not they should partake. But is there some responsibility on the presider to prevent someone from doing so? I think so. That is why refusing to offer someone communion is not a punishment, or an exclusion. It is a pastoral responsibility. Excluding the unsaved from communion is actually an act of caring, an act of protection, preventing them from eating and drinking judgment on themselves.

Someone asked, well, which of us is worthy? But that misses the point. As I commented on one of the threads,
None of us is worthy on our own. Paul’s prohibition does not speak of the worthiness of the person, he warns of the manner in which we eat and drink. Our righteounsess is not of ourselves, but comes from being, “…found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Plilippians 3:9) It is Christ’s righteousness that is imputed to us; counted as if our own. The unsaved person does not have this righteousness, so by definition, eats and drinks in an unworthy manner. (I realize that I am differentiating here between the baptized and the saved, because the two are not always synonymous, so it is possible for some of the baptized to eat and drink unworthily as well.)

Again, I realize that a great many baptized persons are nominal Christians at best, not having received a true faith. So as I commented later, in my opinion, communion should truly be reserved to those who have genuinely bent the knee and truly acknowledged Christ as Saviour and Lord of their lives.
In the end, that is more important than baptism.

Take Care