Saturday, 10 December 2016

Perhaps the CIA Can Help Me Out (Updated)

здравствуйте
Which means, "Hello," in Russian. At least Google says it does, so I hope it is not some terrible insult.

Blogger tracks page visits to this blog, and again lately there have been quite a few visits from Russia. In the hundreds in fact. My tongue in cheek title for this post refers to the current news that the CIA accuses Russia of interfering in the recent American election. Well, if they want to know about Alpha, I'll be glad to tell them everything they need to know, even with no hacking. I'd even come over to do training if they'd pay my way, although the only Russian I know is, "Hello." And that only to write.

Interesting indeed. Perhaps we will see a growth of Alpha there.



Есус ловес ею Jesus Loves you.
Есус ванц то кнов ею Jesus wants to know you
Ооо сан кнов хим алсо You can know him too
#аттенд Alpha #RunAlpha

Blessings,

John

Friday, 9 December 2016

Forgive Me, But I Have To Ask

The picture to the right is of an alleged hate crime committed in one of Edmonton's LRT stations against two Muslim women wearing hijabs. It is supposed to have occurred Nov 8, but did not become public until about a month later. This picture is ostensibly a screen shot taken from a cell phone video taken of the incident by one of the women.

Apparently, this guy pulled a rope out of his pocket, fashioned a noose, pointed to it, as in the picture, and said, "This is for you." Then he launched into 'Oh Canada,' all the while, I suppose, having the entire performance caught on camera. The picture and story went viral, as they say, and police were asking for help in identifying the culprit.

That was two or three days ago. The following day police announced they had a suspect in custody. Since then, the story seems to have dried up.

Why? Why have we heard nothing more? Why have we not been told the name of the suspect? Why have we not seen the entire video?

It occurred to me, right from the beginning, that there was way more to this story than what the vast majority of Facebook posters hysterically assumed was classic Islamophobia. I just don't think it seems like something someone in their right mind would do. In my mind, there are two possibilities; either the guy is mentally ill, dementia perhaps, or the whole thing was staged. It has happened before.

I was suspicious about even this above-linked incident from the beginning. First of all, who, being physically attacked, thinks to take the time to pull out their phone and begin recording it? Wouldn't one's first instinct be to turn away or at least defend oneself? It turns out I believe, although I don't think it was reported in the mainstream media, that this alleged assaulter was herself a Muslim woman, from Iran. The whole incident screamed of phoniness. In any case, the story quickly left the news - no account of the charges, a trial or a verdict. It may be too early to tell, but is the same thing happening in this latest incident?

What has this got to do with the subject of this blog, you may ask.

Well, it just got me thinking. As a Christian, I believe everyone should be treated in a civil manner; treated, to paraphrase Jesus, in the way we would like to be treated ourselves. And treated equally. But if the perpetrator of these so-called hate crimes had been proven to be a fundamentalist Christian, for instance, I suspect that fact would be all over social media, television news and print media. So the silence in this latter case is deafening.

As I said, I don't believe this is something that anyone in their right mind would do, so there must be some other explanation.

I'd just like to hear it.

Take Care

PS: If it turns out I am mistaken in my opinion here, I will issue an apology on this very blog, but let's just wait and see.

PPS: I see police have, with little fanfare, released said suspect without charges, which only serves to heighten my curiosity. It would be nice to hear, as a popular radio personality used to say, "... the rest of the story."

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Thoughts on Church Growth

I met today with one of my favourite people with whom to meet - Associate Pastor of Victory Church Lethbridge, John Albiston. He joined Victory in 2012 with the primary area of oversight being church growth. Senior Pastor Kelly Stickel joined Victory in 2011, and it is he that John credits with the change of vision that resulted in their growing in the last four or five years from attendance of about 250 weekly to over 1200 today, as well as having planted three other congregations with more planned.

Here are some of his thoughts:

Three Laws of Church Growth:
  1. Invite lots of people
  2. Don't suck
  3. Make sure people make friends
Numbers 1 and 3 are probably self-explanatory but #2 may need explanation. It's really just a way of saying, be the kind of church that guests you invite want to come back to, for whatever reason.

The breaking of any of these laws has consequences:
  1. If a church has no new people coming, it's probably because the church is breaking Law #1.
  2. If churches are obeying #1, but people are visiting once but not coming back, it's probably #2.
  3. If guests come for a few weeks, then drift away, it could be #3
One pithy phrase he uses is that fishermen don't catch the kind of fish they want; they catch the kind for which they bait their hook. In other words, a church hoping to attract young people will probably not have great success if they insist on keeping a service style that young people might consider dull and dreary. They will only attract and keep people who enjoy that kind of service. Maybe that's what they really want, but John quotes the six last words of a dying church, "We've never done it that way." 

One exception to this matter of service style was John himself. When his children were young they attended what John himself described as the most dreary mainline Protestant church, although John admits that at least the preaching was orthodox, as opposed to small-l liberal. The reason they stayed though was that his kids liked the Sunday School, so in that sense, they, "didn't suck." It's much easier to get to church when it is the kids who are saying, "C'mon, let's go!"

John also spoke of what he called both the Spiritual and the biological Great Commission.

The spiritual one we all may know:
"...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

But the biological one is found in Genesis 9 verse 7:
"...be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
In short, both spiritually and biologically, Christians are to, in his words, "make babies, raise the babies, kick them out so they can make more babies."

And one final thought - a concept John called, "positive deviance." Not only the mainline churches, but even many evangelical churches are declining in numbers, he says. So if 95% of churches are in decline, and 5% not, don't look at what the 95% are doing, or not doing, but focus on what the deviant 5% are doing, and do it. It is a concept I learned in the business world, and one that John applies in his own field; look at what successful people (businesses, churches) are doing and do it yourself. Copy excellence.

Random thoughts, but ones I found interesting.

Take Care

Edited to add:
First of all, John messaged me already to tell me that attendance in 2011 When SCL Stickel arrived was closer to 250, so I have changed that above.
Second, I had scribbled down a note during our conversation this afternoon that turned out to be, "Relay race through time." Another of John's thoughts - the church is a relay race through time. It doesn't matter how well or fast you run your leg, if you fail to pass the baton the team will lose.

Brilliant analogy, IMO.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

He is Still on the Throne

As tempted as I am to comment on the recent US election, I will, for the most part, refrain. As I have said, I was not a great fan of either candidate.
But one thought does come to mind; John, who recorded for us the Revelation of Jesus Christ, was given a vision:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”  At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.  And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. (Rev 4: 1-3)
Well, the day after the election there is still someone sitting on the throne and He is still in control. Nothing in this world happens that He does not either cause or allow. Whatever happened on election night happened somehow within His will and with His permission, and whatever we may think of circumstances, God's will is still, ultimately, good, pleasing and perfect. Exactly how this all plays out remains to be seen.

And my own mission remains the same;
"...my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
Take Care, and invite a friend to Alpha.

John

(Cross posted at An Alpha Diary)

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

There is Something We Can Do


Alpha in Prisons

One of my memories is of running Alpha for about three years at the Fort Saskatchewan (Alberta) jail and seeing wonderful results and lives changed among the inmates there. Did you know that statistically, as I understand it, among prisons in Canada, the average re-offending rate for released inmates is between 70 and 75%?

However, the re-offending rate for those who have attended Alpha in prison and come to a genuine faith in Christ is about 8% (eight percent)! Isn’t that amazing? My friends and colleagues John and Roxana Kreklo are doing a great job of communicating this to prison officials across Canada. For the good of our country, pray that they, and we, make headway and inroads in this.

Friends, the solution to a great number of our society's problems is right in front of us, but do you think anything will be done about it? Do you think those with the power and position to act will do so?

Aside from some kind of divine intervention, probably not, I'm afraid. But divine intervention is what we're all about, so the least we can do is pray.

Take Care

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

No Ideology Can Last Forever

It may seem so when a particular ideology is in place, or on the rise, but no matter how right contemporary opinion might be considered, a future generation will very probably look back and ask, "What were they thinking?" In fact, I believe the current state of sexual morality, of political correctness in matters of race and religion and "victim group" entitlement cannot last . They are rapidly chipping away at the foundations of what we surely once thought was a sound society
There is only one who is the same yesterday, today and forever. that is the unchangeable God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Here is where we seem to be today: from here...
Transparently obvious truths cannot be publicly spoken when an ideology is in ascendancy. Questions cannot be asked. Things become unsayable. And the vast mass of people meekly fall into line, sensing the direction of the prevailing wind. Most people find it is altogether safer to capitulate or at least to keep quiet...
And here, perhaps is a possible explanation of how quickly things seemed to change, from sanity to the current insanity, and how completely nonsensical ideas and policies came to considered rational.

And so it will continue for a time. How long? Who knows? Things will in all likelihood get worse for Western Christians before they get any better. It took the better part of three centuries before the extreme persecution of the early Christians was over. We are worried over what has transpired in not much more than a generation, and what some may consider persecution is nothing compared to what they suffered, and some are suffering even in the world today.

But you have heard the expression, "The [Christian] Church is an anvil that has worn out many hammers." Ideologies have come and gone, and the naïve expectation of this privileged generation seems to be that that pattern should now stop; that the season of peace we have enjoyed should never end; that, having once been known as a, "Christian Nation," (I'm speaking now of all of what might be known as, "Western Culture) we Christians should enjoy perfect acceptance and unanimous approval for ever.

The Christian Church is Christ's own Church; founded by him with the promise it would never die.  And it won't, but we in this nation and on this continent should have no expectation that its permanent home and stronghold will forever be North America.

In fact, and I know I've said this before, I see an analogical parallel between God's glory leaving the temple (Ezekiel 10) and what is happening in Western culture today. The torch is being passed, if I may be forgiven for mixing metaphors, and just as the Christian faith spread from Jerusalem, to Europe and across the Atlantic to North America, I can see it now continuing its generally westward path across the Pacific to the great nations of Asia and to the, "ends of the earth."

In the meantime, I do what I do, living what days I have left according to Acts 20:24
...I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Take Care

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

We Can't Cut Down the Tree and Still Enjoy the Fruit

"... many today ...want a world permeated with Western values such as freedom, justice, and equality that no longer preserves a knowledge of their ideological source."
 
Theodore Dalrymple

An interesting piece here that I present without comment because in my opinion it needs none. It's another case where it's best for me merely to say,

Just Sayin'

Take Care

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Why Young People Leave the Church

My commenting friend Warren, on a previous post, made me aware of Pete Enns. I haven't read all his material, so cannot either recommend or condemn his views, but I did find this entry interesting and challenging. I agree with much of it.
"The 2011 Barna survey on American Christianity published “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church.” And here they are. I read through them and I think to myself, “Yup. Yup. Uh huh. That one, too. And that one.” These ring utterly true to me from my experience..."
You can read about the issue more in-depth at the link, but briefly, here are the 6 reasons:
  • Reason #1 - Churches seem overprotective.
  • Reason #2 – Teens’ and twenty-somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  • Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  • Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
  • Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
  • Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt. 
A few thoughts of my own:

Regarding #3, I spoke recently to a young man who asked, "If I don't believe the universe was created in six actual days, will I go to hell?"

My answer, aside from just saying a flat, "No!", and paraphrased here, went something like this:
"Some people believe the earth is 6000 years old and everything was created in 6 literal days, but I don't think it's necessary. It's important to read the Bible and ask, 'What does it really say, and what does it not actually say?'
Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It doesn't say when the beginning was; just that in the beginning God created everything. And that, in my opinion, doesn't conflict with science. It concurs, to me, with the concept of the, 'Big Bang.'
The next verse, Genesis 1:2 (NIV) says, 'Now the earth was formless and empty...' It doesn't say when, 'Now' is/was. In my opinion, the first two verses in the Bible could represent times millions of years apart. The earth doesn't have to be, 'young,' Biblically speaking."
Same with the six days. Leaving aside the possibility of completely figurative language, I don't think they necessarily have to be literal 24-hour days and I don't think they have to be literally six consecutive days."

Regarding #5, the question often arises, "What about those who have never heard of Jesus?"
there are those in Christendom who will say they are automatically condemned to hell. I believe that is an overly narrow view. I remember discussing this in the context of 'believers' in the Old Testament and the answer given was that the, "Old Testament Saints" were saved by standing on the promises of a coming Saviour.

Well, Biblically speaking, when were the first promises given? In the garden of Eden, to the first humans (Genesis 3). So in essence, every descendent of the first two humans ("Adam and Eve" by name), or more correctly, of Noah's family, can be beneficiaries of those same promises. The Old Testament is a history of a narrow lineage; the Jewish people, and their relationship with God. It says nothing of God's relationship with other people; South Sea Islanders, Native North Americans, people of the Orient. If God could reveal Himself to Abram, and he (Abram) be counted as righteous through his faith, who's to say others could not have been as well. It must be clear that many other events happened in other parts of the world that are not recorded in the Bible.

There is a much greater discussion here, especially in connection with Jesus' exclusive claim in John 14:6, but I have attempted to address that elsewhere and I'll not get into that here.

Regarding #6, this is why I think so highly of the Alpha course, and why I do what I do. Alpha welcomes all, and welcomes any question, without condemnation. Anyone, regardless of background, religion, station in life, sexuality, gender identification or any other factor or characteristic, is welcome to come and hear the Jesus story and the Christian perspective on life, and be introduced to the One who can change their life forever for the better.

My prime desire, and I have been criticized for being too open, for assuming too much generosity in God's grace, is to remove roadblocks that may stand between anyone wanting to know more of God, and the very God who is calling them.

Take Care

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Does Science Argue for or against God?

Here is an interesting and challenging bit by Eric Metaxas. Many people hold out the fine tuning of the universe as a proof of God's existence. I don't. It all could be just an incredibly unlikely coincidence. There's no proof that it isn't. But in my own opinion, the existence of God certainly seems to be the simpler of the two explanations. It certainly is an indication that a belief in God is not unreasonable, simple or naïve. And that double negative (not unreasonable), after all, is the very idea reflected in the title of this blog.

The only reservation I have with Mr Metaxas' presentation is in the blurb below - that chances are less than zero. It is hyperbole, of course, a figure of speech, because odds or chances, no matter how infinitesimally small, cannot be less than zero, (can they?) That just gives the other side one more piece of ammunition, however small, to attack the argument.
"Why are we here? Literally. The latest science says we shouldn't be. It says that the chance life exists at all is less than zero. So, is science the greatest threat to the idea of Intelligent Design or is science its greatest advocate? Best-selling author and lecturer, Eric Metaxas, poses this intriguing question and comes up with a very unexpected and challenging answer."

Take Care

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Party At The End Of The World


I thought this was a particularly poignant phrase to describe the recent massacre at the Orlando gay nightclub. I suppose I should begin with the de rigeur assurance that, "our thoughts and prayers are with... etc, etc." I don't mean to be disrespectful or hard-hearted by saying that, because my prayers really are with those affected by this tragedy. In fact, I sent an email to a local gay-friendly church here in Edmonton whose minister I have met and spoken with. I cannot begin to know or understand what sadness they must feel, and even though we differ in opinion with respect to matters of sexuality, I know their pain is real, and I wish them the peace that can only come from the God of all comfort.

But Check out Mark Steyn's site and listen especially to the first (left's official lie) and third (Party at the end of the world) audio links. Many in the West seem to be partying while the enemies are at the gates.

Meanwhile, things are happening in the Kingdom that don't get so much notice.

I comment only in passing on the events of the day, reminding myself constantly not to pay so much attention to the news and to remember that God is in control. As I say on my other blog...

"...I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)"

That is my passion, my purpose and my mission. I just have to keep coming back to that myself.

Just sayin'

Take Care


Monday, 9 May 2016

Fellowship of Christian Assemblies Convention, Grande Prairie

Here we are, two old hippies, brothers in Christ at FCA convention Grande Prairie. Me along with Harold from Battle River Ranch Camp. One of us is a biker. Guess which.

Delegates came to this assembly from all across, and even outside, Canada. I had a number of interesting conversations. Most knew about Alpha, but a few didn't, and even though my position pertains only to Alberta, I was glad, of course, to help guests from other provinces.

One of the things I found especially poignant was that a number of the delegates were from McMurray Gospel Assembly, in Fort McMurray, which was right in the middle of the complete evacuation of the city due to the massive forest fire that virtually destroyed it. They must have been doubly troubled - not only at the destruction of their city, but at being separated from their families during the evacuation.
Driving through hell - leaving Fort McMurray Alberta


As I am writing this, the situation in Fort McMurray is still desperate. Please continue to pray for those were so suddenly, violently and with so little warning, displaced. Pray for the peace of that city.

Unfortunately, we have decided to cancel an event scheduled for May 14; an Alpha Lab similar to  the one held in Calgary. North Pointe Community Church is deeply involved in helping the evacuees, and adding one more thing to their plate in this time of crisis, we felt, would not have been productive. The next one will be held on June 11 at Beulah Alliance Church, also in Edmonton.

Blessings,

John

Friday, 29 April 2016

Something's Happening Here, What it is Ain't Exactly Clear


Stop! Hey! What's that sound...

I think it must be the sound of common sense going down the drain.

I was just thinking about the general reaction to the law passed in North Carolina regarding  men's and women's bathroom use, enforcing traditional gender use. Such hypocrisy! Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert there, even though his home state, New Jersey, has similar legislation on the books. Apparently Apple is condemning the law as hateful toward the LGBTQ community, even though they do business quite happily in Saudi Arabia where they kill gays. Apparently being beheaded or thrown from the top of a building is not as traumatic as not being able to use one's bathroom of choice.

One thing I would like to see asked of all those jumping on the bandwagon of accusing the ones who passed this law of being bigots and haters, "Exactly when did you come to the position you now hold, that one's gender is not established biologically, buy according to feelings?" My sense is that many have arrived at this opinion relatively recently.

So my next question would be, "What were you previous to that; a bigot and a hater?"  

Just sayin'

Take Care

PS: I just noticed in the video there's a shot of a crowd rocking (and perhaps damaging) a 1961 Chev Impala bubble top 2 door hardtop - That's practically sacrilegious!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Check Out Some Old-Time Rock 'n' Roll



I get emails from Holy Trinity Brompton, birthplace of Alpha. They often include, just for fun I suppose, You Tube links to various videos.

Long story short, one of these was to a live performance by Little Richard. It was not that impressive, but through it, following other links, I came to this video, originally recorded in 1969 on Tom Jones' TV show. The fact that it included Jones, whom I have always considered a crooner to middle-aged women (no insult to anyone intended, just what I believe was a true reflection of  the major demographic of his audience) , made me check it out, just for curiosity's sake. but, surprise, surprise, it's pretty good. Little Richard's first album was one of the first ones I owned, back in the day.

If you like rock 'n' roll you'll love this.

Take Care



Monday, 21 March 2016

Front Page News

This story rated a, "front page" position on Yahoo.
Interesting what we take as news these days. Interesting what we think is important. I'm not saying the chef was right (he wasn't), but I think it's interesting today what kind of story goes "viral." We are a people of bandwagons, and this seems to be one of the current ones.
I'm now not even talking about the Yahoo story, but there seems to be an attitude of "over tolerance," where it is cool to be gay, or transgendered, or in fact anything opposed to what we might call, "traditional sexual morality," and cool to be tolerant of them. But it is totally uncool to be against these new progressive ideals. It's not just tolerance of the new, it's affirmation, and those who hold traditional views are in fact, not tolerated at all.

How quickly have we seen it become a good idea for boys to be allowed into girl's change rooms, or to be introducing children to explicit, "sex education" way before they are ready for it?

Those who disagree with the current, "cool" narrative are quickly referred to as, "haters." It seems odd to me that those who are most in favour of tolerance are so quick to use the term, "hater" for others who merely disagree with them.

To try to give some of what I'm trying to say, I'd say it shows some kind of deep flaw in our cultural consciousness. We're doomed, people.

Just sayin'

Take Care

Are You Ready For What's To come?


Creed - Are You Ready
Hey, Mr. Seeker hold on to this advice
If you keep seeking you will find
Don't want to follow
Down roads been walked before
It's so hard to find unopened doors
Are you Ready?...For what's to come
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one
Count down to the change in life that's soon to come
 Your life has just begun
Life has just begun
(Lyrics slightly edited


 
I'm sure this is not everyone's taste in music, but this song could be the theme song at the first night of every Alpha. I have been involved in Alpha courses since the early nineties. The first Alpha evening, the Alpha supper, is always the beginning of a new adventure. Guests arrive, perhaps not knowing what to expect. To us, the Alpha team, we know that each guest will become a new friend. But we start off not knowing them at all, not knowing where they are in their spiritual walk, not knowing where they will be by the end of the course.
 
But we always look forward to what God has in store, for us and for them.
 
I like Creed. Their music has many Scripture-like references. Listen to, "Faceless Man," (especially from the 1:44 and the 4:15 marks), and  "Higher," (especially the chorus, for example)for examples. 
 
Are you ready for what's to come. Do you want to find out? #TryAlpha.
 
Blessings,
 
John

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Signs of the End of the Age?

Or, "Things That Make You Go, 'What?'"

Sometimes we look around at what is happening in our world and think, "Surely Jesus must be coming soon!"

I'm not at that point. Empires and civilizations have risen and fallen throughout history, even in the past two millennia, and the author of the play hasn't yet walked back on the stage. But I believe there are certain indications that indicate we are surely seeing the decline of our own Western society.

Here are a few items from just the last couple of days' news:
  • The Supreme Court of Canada has mandated that to satisfy the, "security of the person" in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the government must pass a law permitting assisted suicide. In other words, anyone wanting to end their life must not only be allowed to do so, they must be able to have someone assist them to do so. In other news, the City of Edmonton is spending over a million dollars to erect barriers on its High Level Bridge (above) to prevent people from committing suicide... WHAT??? 
  • Someone scrawled something insulting to gays on a Valentine's Day card. Apparently a post about it went viral. So the Prime Minister of Canada and several Members of Parliament sent messages to the recipient, a police investigation was considered and a complaint against the recipient's employer to the Human Rights Commission is apparently proceeding. All over an insult on a Valentine's card... WHAT???
  • A guy in Toronto attacked a Canadian Forces recruiting office with a knife, wounding two members of the military, and shouting that Allah had told him to do it. The latter fact was not mentioned by CBC News because, of course this probably has nothing to do with Islam. The Toronto Police Chief says it is an 'isolated incident'... Yeah, so was 9/11 and every ISIS beheading in the Middle East, I suppose.
  • And then there is the continuing move to allow boys to use girls' change rooms and washrooms for no other reason than they feel like a girl (or say so), and seemingly otherwise intelligent people are thinking this is a good idea. WOW! 
Society seems to be more and more rapidly losing its mind. We are dying of terminal stupidity. Bit by bit we are giving away the treasure of what we once had. The Supreme Court has mandated individual assisted suicide. I'm afraid we are seeing societal suicide as well, and it's unassisted - completely voluntary.

I don't particularly fight against any of these things. I just mention them and shake my head in wonder. My mission, as I see it, is to communicate to anyone who will listen, the hope that can be found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is the only permanent thing. The world may pass away, including empires, societies and civilizations, but God and His Word, and only God and His Word, will stand forever.

Take Care

Monday, 15 February 2016

More Wisdom From Justice Scalia

From here...
“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”
We have been forewarned that in this world we will have trouble, but that Jesus has overcome the world.

We have been told that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

We have been told, but how soon or how easily we forget. And how stubbornly or naively we sometimes think that the government in power is going to make much of a difference. The world is the world and it is heading where it is heading.

Take Care

Chronolical/Anachronistic Arrogance

From time to time I come across instances of what I have referred to as Anachronistic, or Chronological Arrogance. What I mean is the tendency of current governments, or courts, or churches,  or even individuals, to feel that somehow we have something right; something all together; that in spite of all thought given to a particular issue in the past, now, suddenly, whatever our thoughts on the matter, they are, after all this time, indisputably the correct ones.  It is the surety that thinking on some particular issue is now finally settled whereas every previous generation has been too blind to see it. This is probably not limited to the current generation. It is probably a natural human tendency, but it seems that every generation, perhaps especially this one, forgets it.

A few examples:
  • Some churches' finding that homosexual sexual activity is not wrong after all; that Scripture and 2000 years of careful Christian thought have all this time been mistaken.
  • people now have the right (and, by corollary, always have had, but unrecognized) to demand a doctor participate in putting them to death.
  • any person who feels they are a person of the opposite sex has a right to use any washroom or change room they like.
  • the right to freedom of conscience or freedom of speech does not override another person's right not to have their feelings hurt.
What brought this subject back to my mind is the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia of the US Supreme Court.  Here are his thoughts, from one of his opinions which sum up what I have tried to express, but expressed much better than I have been able:
From Here...
Much of the Court's opinion is devoted to deprecating the closed-mindedness of our forebears with regard to women's education, and even with regard to the treatment of women in areas that have nothing to do with education. Closed minded they were — as every age is, including our own, with regard to matters it cannot guess, because it simply does not consider them debatable. The virtue of a democratic system with a First Amendment is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so, and to change their laws accordingly. That system is destroyed if the smug assurances of each age are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution.
So to counterbalance the Court's criticism of our ancestors, let me say a word in their praise: they left us free to change. The same cannot be said of this most illiberal Court, which has embarked on a course of inscribing one after another of the current preferences of the society (and in some cases only the counter-majoritarian preferences of the society's law-trained elite) into our Basic Law.
Take Care

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Encouraging News From Egypt


From here...

Life seems to be returning to the country that rejected Obama's policies and the so-called, "Arab Spring."

Keep praying for God's protection for Christian brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East and not only Christians but all innocents enduring persecution around the world, wherever they are.

Take Care

I Took a Test

 
 
Someone linked to this online test on Facebook, so I decided, out of curiosity, to try it. When I reached the end, I was asked either to phone a 1-900 number for the result, or to pay 7 dollars by credit card. Being a bit of a cheapskate, I declined. "Quelle surprise," then, when it actually showed up on my Facebook page anyway. The number is a bit higher than I expected; back in my school days I was told my IQ was in the mid 130's, so either I'm gaining intelligence with age, it was an easier test, or I was better at guessing. 
 
But why am I posting it here?
 
I am posting it to say you can be intelligent and be a Christian. I am posting it here only to say to people of intelligence that you don't have to abandon your brains to accept the reality and the truth of the Christian faith. Look over to the left. You will see my statement of belief. You may recognize much of it as based on the Apostles' Creed. Those are not mere fuzzy and comforting thoughts of a philosophy of life. It is what I firmly believe, and believe to the point of certainty.
 
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and their ilk would have us believe that atheists have a lock on rationality and critical thinking ability. I'm here to say that is not the case. In fact, I believe, just the opposite; I believe that atheists have not thought critically enough. In 2013, Alpha, in Alberta, Canada was part of an initiative to see 30,000 people in that Province participate in an Alpha course. The target was met, and the tag line of that campaign was, "Question Everything." I remember seeing, on an atheist discussion board at the time, the comment, "If everyone questioned everything there would be a lot more atheists." My immediate thought was, and still is, "No - there would probably be a lot fewer." 
One of my favourite Bible verses is not one of the usual favourites, but it is 1 Thessalonians 5:21:
...but test everything; hold fast what is good.
If you like, check out some of my posts on atheism or atheists, linked to on the left. See what you think.
 
In the meantime, as per the Apostle Paul, lest my posting this seem as a boast,
Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17), or
 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30)
Take Care

John

Monday, 18 January 2016

Been a While, But This Is Fascinating

H. L. MENCKEN’S OBITUARY OF DR J. GRESHAM MACHEN


This was written in 1937 but its content could just as easily apply much closer to modern times. What is amazing is that Mencken was an atheist, but it seems to me an example of an honourable man recognizing integrity in another, in spite of fundamental disagreements. Such intellectual civility would seem impossible today.

A few quotes from the piece:
    • He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the Modernist manner would be its complete abandonment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives.
    • On the one hand they sought to retain membership in the fellowship of the faithful, but on the other hand they presumed to repeal and reenact with amendments the body of doctrine on which that fellowship rested.
    • ...the body of doctrine known as Modernism is completely incompatible, not only with anything rationally describable as Christianity, but also with anything deserving to pass as religion in general.
 Take Care