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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Holy Ghost----> Are things supposed to be this Scary?

If you belong to one of those denominations and/or churches that keep the Holy Ghost bound in the back room with the communion wafers, anointing oil, and the wine (or grape juice-lest I offend), you have a holy obligation to let your pastor or priest know: “The Holy Ghost is Back…Now let Him Loose!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

GUILT: Its what's for dinner!!

Have you ever been out of town on a Sunday, or you just shut off your alarm clock and slept through church? Or maybe you even went and visited a different church. But somewhere between Sunday evening and Monday morning you receive a facebook message, and/or a text, and/or an email, and/or a phone call that basically says, “We missed you on Sunday.” Now even if this is a single person sending you this message they will most likely say “we” because they mean the entire church. At first you really think that you were truly missed. But then you realize when you miss a Wednesday night service or the alternative Halloween event you also receive these messages. We missed you. This is less of an affectionate longing for you and more a reminder of your sinful, heathen ways and how quickly you will turn back into a pumpkin if you miss a service/church event. So stop skipping, or God will hate you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mental Illness or Modern Idolatry?

I have created my own prison.
 Whether it’s A&E, TLC, or the Discovery channel, you have probably watched at least one of the following reality train wrecks. These shows  give TV viewers an up close and personal look at the lowest common denominator of the human experience.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Does your church Kick Butt?

Is your church relevant and/or cutting edge? In these rough times when churches seem to need just a little more than Jesus, new ways of staying relevant are popping up in sanctuaries near you. Answering the following questions can help you determine if your church is relevant, in other words these questions can help you decide if your church kicks a$$!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bible, Prayer, and the Christian Life

In my last blog  I wrote a bit of a snarky entry regarding prayer, and how I would prefer that most people not pray for me. Now while I stand by my convictions here, I also want to make sure my comments don’t do for prayer what motor oil does for stripper poles, or what  wooden nickels do for church coffers. I do confess that there are times when I attack certain subjects like an epileptic barber without a safety razor, but these spastic keystrokes are primarily used to either elicit responses, or engage in private proxy wars with pompous principalities. In the end, like Solomon, I may consider some of these rants to be all “vanity and vexation of spirit”…not to mention I may need to seek absolution for my other sins of arrogance, and alliteration.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2011



In today’s economic environment and amidst all the ensuing natural disasters pastors can’t seem to resist end of times sermons. Then there are your church elders, radio personalities, and old hymn singers who keep talking about how excited they are to get to heaven, how they can’t way for Jesus to take them home. Quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing about the golden streets of heaven and the four horsemen. Does this make me a bad Christian? Perhaps. But I’m willing to face ostracism from fellow Christians and air out my annoyance on the World Wide Web.

I do not claim to be an expert in eschatology, I mean I just learned what the word means in the last three years. The truth is I’ve always shied away from this type of thing. I didn’t really want to know what God’s final wrath would be on this sinful creation, it’s scary dude. I also didn’t want to think about being raptured up and leaving behind loved ones in a creepy Tommy Knockers scenario, I mean, wouldn’t I miss them? Truth to be told I was such an end times avoider that I only read Revelation for the first (and second and third times) in the last 6-8 months. But I finally sucked it up, read Revelations (and tried to get over my Catholic upbringing that stated this has already happened) and looked into what Jesus and Isaiah said on the matter. So I claim to know the basics, and I understand why so many are jumping to conclusions.

Signs of the Times

If you haven’t noticed there have been A LOT of earthquakes in the last six years. I will even go out on a limb and admit that they have occurred in countries with predominantly non-Christian populations. But when I heard about the earthquake last week in Japan the first prayer I said was, “Give us more time, Lord, we have more work to do. There are more souls You long to save, give us more time!” And then I prayed for those suffering and dying in the horrific aftermath. But I know there were more than a few Christians who were saying, “Praise God, Jesus is coming soon to take me home!”

Not Quite Ready

I am so grateful that Jesus died on the cross so save me from my sinful ways and grant me eternal life. I thank Him everyday for His work on the cross. That being said, I’m not ready to cash in on the gift of eternal life just yet. Seriously, I’m not even 30. But I have to wonder about those who seem so eager to float up to the pearly gates in the clouds (how many more over used images can I fit into that sentence?). I feel as a blood bought child of the Living God that I have a distinct call on my life, that I am here for reason and Jesus has a will for me to fulfill. I was under the impression that most Christians had some kind of call on their lives. But if that’s so and you aren’t 98 years old, why in the world would you be willing to leave this earth before you’ve fulfilled Christ’s will? It just seems like an easy out to me. I long to serve Christ and praise Him for what He’s done for me, but I do not join in those worship songs that talk about just getting through this life until I’m with Him forever. I don’t think I’m here to just get through, I’m here for something greater.

Jesus told us that not even He knows when He will be coming again, all He said was that it would be soon. That was about 2000 years ago. Soon defined by God is a little different than soon defined by me. But I think perhaps that God has tarried so long because the prayers of the righteous asking for more time, for more souls, have held the inevitable end back.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 New King James

When He comes to be glorified in His saints [on that day He will be made more glorious in His consecrated people], and [He will] be marveled at and admired [in His glory reflected] in all who have believed [who have adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Him], because our witnessing among you was confidently accepted and believed [and confirmed in your lives]. 2Thessalonians 10-11 Amplified

Jesus didn’t tell us and didn’t know the time of His Second Coming because we are not supposed to focus on that. Our focus as Christians should always be our relationship with Jesus, and no one likes to be nagged about when they are going to show up to the party. We should always put Christ first and chill out about wars and the rumors of wars, and the earth quaking, and the fall of Babylon. The Bible says we should recognize the signs but it doesn’t say we should obsess about them. I will admit that there are definitely signs pointing to Christ’s return. But don’t you think people thought that during The Plague, or how about after WWI and during The Great Depression. The signs have been around for while, but so have the prayers of God’s servants. So while we thank Christ for the gift of Heaven we should also thank Him for the purpose He’s given us and ask Him for godly wisdom.

In closing I once again quote Oswald Chambers, “The attitude of the Christian is not ‘I’m a but a stranger here, heaven is my home,’ but rather ‘I’m not a stranger here.’ A stranger is exonerated from many things for which God holds us responsible. Jesus asked His Father to treat His disciples not as strangers abut as inmates of the world and to keep them from the evil (John 17:13). We have to live in the heavenly places while here on earth.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Please Don’t Say You’ll Pray!

I believe that way too much lip service has been given to prayer. As a matter of fact, I really have no desire to have a lot of people “praying for me”. Why you ask? Well, because these prayers don’t work! In fact, what many consider praying- will probably do more harm than good. I know this sounds a bit harsh, but believe it or not, there is a method behind my anti-prayer madness.

With the advent and popularity of the internet, especially social media, we have a much larger vein from which to extract, and be exposed to, the bloody woes of other people's lives. Thus, even with my modest friends list on Facebook, I’m often made aware of the pains and struggles that others are going through. So whether its someone with gout, or someone having trouble with their 1978 Chevy truck not starting, I get the latest up to the minute status updates. Now you might think I’m complaining about people sharing way too much about their lives on the internet…but that is only part of it; for I also want to take issue with those wannabe “prayer warriors” out there too.

The sad truth is, instead of praying, most people prefer to graze on the fodder of gossip. For example, when you put up a comment on Facebook about you or a loved one being sick, you can almost guarantee that you will get several “I’m praying for you comments”. However, their version of “praying for you”- most likely consists of this person telling eight or nine other people, who may or may not know you, about how dire your situation is. So basically what they have done is agree, amongst each other, that you and/or your loved one are probably screwed. A person would be better off sending prayer requests to Robert Tilton than being on the receiving end of these pathetic petitions.

I wish to make clear that I’m not belittling the power of prayer. So if you’re a Born again Bible Believing Christian, who knows how prayer works, this post is not about you. However, what I am belittling are the purveyors of symbolism over substance: those who love doling out their pseudo-prayers in the form of “I’m praying for you” comments.  So if you are the type of person that thinks gossip, or feeling bad for someone equates to prayer,  keep your comments under your pointy hat, and perhaps take up reading tea leaves instead.

In my next post I will address what hinders/keeps prayers from working. I will also be reviewing the power, and effectiveness of Don Stewart’s Green Prosperity Prayer Handkerchief, which I have on order (pictured below). I have heard that this handkerchief is not only extremely absorbent, but it also possesses the smell and magic of a box of Lucky Charms! We shall see:-> 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Catholic or Cath-o-lite?

You know those ex-Catholics who now belong to a nondenominational church and love to bash the Catholic Church for all its notorious downfalls? Yea, I’m not one of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been chatting with a Christian and they find out I used to be Catholic and they want to engage in a trash talking session like we just found out we share the same creepy ex-boyfriend. I’ve even heard some ex-Catholics vehemently claim the antichrist will rise out of the Catholic Church. I’m not even comfortable with the phrase “used to be Catholic,” usually I simply say I was raised Catholic. I have fond memories of this time of my life. I was saved (accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, for all my Catholic friends reading this) through the Catholic Church. If it weren’t for the influence Catholicism had on my life I wouldn’t have the faith I have today. I have many friends and relatives whom I love, respect, and admire who are faithful Catholics. So the memories of Catholicism don’t leave a bad taste in my mouth like the memories of certain ex-boyfriends.

The reasons why I “left” the Catholic Church are as complex and varied as the Catholic faith itself. And I still don’t feel like I’ve completely left the church, you see we are still on speaking terms. I admit, to the shock of many Christians, that I still dabble, I’m like the lite version of Catholic. Today is Ash Wednesday and I plan on attending Mass and getting the cultic sign of ash on my forehead (I’m joking, I don’t think it’s cultic). I’ve given up something for Lent and the Tridium before Easter are still some of my favorite services. But to summarize why I don’t technically belong to the Catholic Church is a combination of be being fully convinced that the Bible is the true Word of God and wanting to fully cleave to my then-fiancĂ©e, which required deciding on church to attend together after we married. And I give my husband tons of credit, not being Catholic, and having had a stereotyped idea of what Mass was about, he faithfully attended Mass with me for about a year. We also attended other churches and helped lead a nondenominational Bible study. In the end, Catholicism just didn’t fit us as a couple. This was a painful realization for me and I clung to my Catholic roots. So much so, that at one point I considered attending early Mass every Sunday and a late church service with my husband directly after. Not much of a day of rest, huh? But I was kidding myself, and I soon realized that any label a church or person carried had nothing to do with their (or my) relationship with Christ. Regardless of which church I attend on Sundays, my beliefs don’t change and my desire to be close to Christ doesn’t change. My desire to stay Catholic was based on worldly ideas and had nothing to do with Jesus.

Having become more Bible literate over the years I’ve come to realize that some Catholic doctrines are simply not scripturally based. That being said, I’m not still not willing to bad mouth Catholicism- have a spirited discussion, yes, but lambaste the entire religion, no. While some of those hokey Catholic ideologies are clearly the consequence of men making decisions instead of turning to God there are still many things that Catholics get right. For instance, if you are Catholic you have learned a certain amount of reverence for the Lord in worship. While I understand the concept of the nondenominational anything goes worship, I am taken aback by coffee drinking in the sanctuary and gum chomping during services. Yes, worshiping the Lord should not be restrictive and the Catholic church has a long history of getting its papal panties in a twist over the slightest irreverencies but at the same time we’ve forgotten that the Bible calls us to revere the Lord. I’ve been in churches that seem to be terrified of silence. If there is the tiniest amount of quiet you bet someone will fill it with speaking in tongues or an enthusiastic Amen or Praise the Lord! But sometimes we are called to be quiet with God and listen to HIM, not ourselves and our own ideas.

Also, the Eucharist was to meant to be a powerful experience and the Catholic church understands this. I think in an attempt to distance themselves from the Catholic Church other churches regard the Eucharist as silliness and perceived cannibalism. But in no Gospel account of the Last Supper did Jesus say “Take and eat, this is a symbol of My body.” I understand that Christ spoke in parables and metaphors a lot, but He wasn’t doing that here. The transubstantiation of the bread becoming Christ’s flesh is a miraculous event that happens everyday worldwide. The Eucharist is Christ’s gift to us, and a physical unification of us with Christ. We are espoused to Him, afterall. This was the hardest part of leaving Catholicism for me; leaving behind the Eucharist. But just like the Bible doesn’t say the bread and wine are symbols it also doesn’t say some unmarried dude who has taken vows is the only one who can consecrate Communion. (By the way ever notice Communion sounds a lot like co-union, as in our flesh and Christ’s flesh united?) The miracle of transubstantiation happens by the power of God and because of our faith. Therefore I’ve taken communion that my husband and I have prayed over for a couple days, and I know that I am receiving Christ’s body and blood. (I know I’ve lost a lot of you here, feel free to debate this with me in the comments section.)

There are some things that Catholics just get, and I find them funny in comparison to the things that they don’t get. Like the fact that the Catholic church refuses to admit that Jesus had brothers and sisters because they attain that Mary, even after being married to Joseph, remained a virgin. I find this hilarious for a few reasons. One, because the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize an unconsummated marriage as a true marriage and it is grounds for an annulment (also, not biblical). Therefore, in the eyes of the Church Mary and Joseph were technically never married. And not only does scripture point to Mary’s other children numerous times I find it funny that Catholics readily admit that Jesus drank wine, and enjoyed it and we can do that same, but refuse to accept that Mary had sex, and enjoyed it. While non-Catholics will debate that Jesus drank grape juice and therefore our lips should never touch the fermented stuff, but agree that a sexual marriage, like Mary and Joseph’s, is healthy. This is why, folks I don’t like labels, and I always go to the Bible to back up my beliefs. But this blog isn’t about the pitfalls of the Catholic Church’s doctrine, or any doctrine for that matter.

I’ve always liked the idea of nondenominational organizations, even when I was attending Catholic Church (when I was still the full-bodied Catholic). I always thought nondenominational meant that people put their doctrinal differences aside and united on the grounds of Christ’s salvation. However, these days, nondenominational means, hey we’re not Catholic or Lutheran or Methodists of Baptists, God forbid. I understand churches, regardless of denomination, or a lack thereof need to have a statement of faith that they stand by. But we shouldn’t label ourselves something just to distance ourselves from others. I’ve been to a church that called any mainstream denomination dead churches. This is simply not true. Believe it or not, I’ve seen movements of the Holy Spirit during Catholic Mass. Some people’s faith may be dead but these churches are not. The crux of the matter is that even if we believe different things about Communion, baptism, the Holy Spirit, or how to worship, these things should not divide us. We should unite on the basis that we have been saved from eternal death by Christ’s salvation. I’ve seen some Christians refuse to support a local homeless ministry because it’s run by Lutherans, and “their faith wasn’t right”. Christ came to unify us, not to divide us. And we certainly aren’t going to bring about His will in this world if we feel the need to separate ourselves from others based on their doctrine. There is nothing wrong with discussing issues we disagree in, but they should not ultimately divide us. If our differences blind others from Christ’s love then there is a major problem in how we conduct ourselves. I also don’t think the answer to all the problems in the world comes in the form of the collapse of denominations. We can all worship in different buildings with different rituals and traditions, but we are all serving the same Lord and we can and should serve Him together.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Better off without Jesus?

If you believe that Jesus is just a teacher, then you are better off without Him.

A prevalent tendency these days is to label Jesus a teacher first instead of a Savior. This belief will only lead to disillusionment, and ultimately...sadness. We must know Him first as a Savior before His teachings can have meaning for us, or before it can have any other meaning than that of an ideal that leads to despair. Imagine coming to men and women with defective lives and defiled hearts and polluted mainsprings, and instructing them to be pure in heart! What is the use of giving us an ideal that we cannot possibly attain? For in the end, we would be happier without it. If Jesus were only a teacher then He would be nothing more than a moralizing huckster, who tantalizes us with standards we cannot touch with a ten-foot pole. But if we are born again from above, we know Him first as a Savior, and we also know that He did not come to this earth only to teach us: He came to make us what He teaches we should be. Without being born again, and without the impartation of the Holy Spirit, the message and words of Jesus Christ have little meaning other than mere vapors of mental assent. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You may be a Christian...but what's that Smell?

On the surface this question may seem silly, and perhaps a bit confrontational...However, if you give me a bit of latitude I will try to back this bus right up to the front door of my point.

Many Christians, these days believe that we are opposed and persecuted solely because of our “godliness”.  We would also like to believe it is our spirituality that’s really unnerving  people- but in reality, it just might be the stench of our personality.

It’s true that the Spirit and things of God often come into direct conflict with the world; he who is born of flesh will persecute him that is born of the Spirit. But Christians always run into trouble the further they move away from the likeness, and character of Jesus Christ. Thus, they are often persecuted for their own faults rather than their beliefs. There is nothing more pathetic than a pompous self-righteous Christian trying to hide behind a few verses of scripture. There is also nothing sadder than “Christians” misrepresenting, and misquoting the Bible in order to try to justify some wayward, self serving ideology.

People are much more tolerant of outward faults and shortcomings, than they are hidden deceit, and ulterior motives.  Drunks, gluttons, and braggarts are often given a much wider birth than pious Christians engaging in spiritual gymnastics, and biblical contortions. Luke 12:48 states: “ But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” 

So if you are ever in a room, where things are getting a little heated, and you start to notice a smell...be sure that your words, personality, and actions are in lockstep with the teachings, and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

eat pray love -A 2hr and 13 minute voyage on the sea of narcissism.

While this blog has little to do with movie reviews, there are times when it is a bit fun take issue with such things…especially since the book and the movie are supposed to be spiritual in nature. This review is only based on the movie, so you don't need to tell me how much better the book is because I bet the book is abominable too. Did I spoil the review already?

The main character in this movie Liz Gilbert, (played by Julia Roberts), is a married woman who realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. The movie begins with Liz , in Bali, on an assignment (Liz is a writer). While there she meets a senile medicine man, who tells her she will get divorced, lose all her money, and eventually come back to Bali to study under his tutelage (and teach him English). This brief interaction becomes the sad, self-fulfilling prophecy on which the whole movie is hinged.

From there, the movie is a bit unclear as to why she feels so disconnected with her husband Stephen, (played by Billy Crudup). My guess is that it’s because, according to the movie, he likes to shop for appliances on the weekend; and that (in my opinion) he may have become addicted to fondant, and cream cheese frosting- in his pursuit to become a world famous pastry chef. Following a party one night, where she discovers that her husband doesn’t know how to hold a baby, and that she is basically the emotional equivalent of one, she decides, for the first time in her life, to pray to God. After her 20 second self-serving prayer, God must have (in her mind) told her to call it quits and leave her husband. For right after her benediction, she goes to bed and tells her sleepy husband she don’t want to be married anymore.

The next fifteen minutes of the movie consists of her trying to extricate herself from her marriage via her lawyer, and the legal system, while her husband desperately begs her to reconsider. During this time she has already shacked up with some third rate thespian named David, (played by James Franco) who seems to be really into Laundromats and guru worship. Finally, after her divorce goes through, she decides that she needs to dump David, because apparently she is starting to dress like him…plus David seems to enjoy folding her underwear a little too much. After throwing David onto the relational dung pile, atop her ex-husband, she has some sort of self-serving epiphany, and decides to take a year sabbatical away from her apparent hobby of castrating men. Her friends try to talk her out of it, but she cares for them about as much as she does the men in her life, and basically tells them to get bent.

The first stop on her journey is Italy, where she eats a lot of great food, drinks a lot of wine, and learns how to order food in the Italian language. After touring some of the great architecture/sites of Italy, she discovers that her pants are too tight, from all the good food. Liz and her friend (whose pants are too tight too) then go on a shopping spree to buy some larger pants. They then proceed to eat a large amount of pizza and drink a lot more wine. Her ravenous tour of Italy ends with, (you guessed it) more food; as she shares an American Thanksgiving dinner with a few friends who like to drink and eat too. Believe it or not…this was the enjoyable part of the movie!

The next stop in this sad adventure is Calcutta India, where Liz takes up residence in David’s guru’s ashram. Believe it or not, the guru is not there, nor does she (the guru) ever make an appearance, aside from a 5x10 picture of her that is propped up on a folding chair. Liz is informed that the guru is in New York, which is extremely ironic as well as laughable. Liz then meets Richard, (played by Richard Jenkins), who by the way, I thought was great in the Cohen brother movie “Burn After Reading”. Richard is a caustic jerk from Texas who keeps calling Liz “groceries” because Liz likes to eat large amounts of food- (are you seeing a pattern here?). Liz soon finds out that she sucks at meditation, and she’s getting really tired of Richard making fun of her eating, as well as her chanting skills. The next 20 minutes involve Liz scrubbing a floor, having a soda with Richard, and attending a 17 year old girls arranged marriage. The character of Richard is so poorly developed, that his “heart-felt” story of losing his job, family, and almost killing his son while on a drunken bender, is all but lost on the audience. Richard then tells Liz that she needs to forgive herself, for trashing her relationships, which is ironically a task he is incapable of doing himself. Richard then has to leave the ashram, because he has to go back home, where he will probably dole out some more useless advice, and destroy more people‘s lives. There is a tearful scene between Liz and Richard as he gets into the cab to leave…but for the life of me I cannot understand the reason for the tears, because in the movie, they never really became friends!

The Calcutta part of this film is very insulting because it fails to even address the religion, culture, or the poverty, that is prevalent in that region of the world. This was basically a privileged westerners pit stop in a sad attempt to find armchair enlightenment.

To complete the prophesied journey, she eventually returns to Bali. While there she reunites with the “wise” medicine man, who predictably does not remember her at all. Finally through her forced attrition, he says that he does recall their brief interaction one year prior. She then finds herself a nice pad, complete with a waterfall and meditation area- for her to practice the skills she learned in Calcutta. She spends the next 20 minutes of the movie meditating, taking in the sites, and meeting with the senile medicine man. While ridding her bike one day she gets run off the road by some Brazilian guy. This guy’s character is so predictable that you immediately know they will end up together. To make a long story short…Liz tries to destroy this guy too. But eventually they get together and ride off into the sunset on his boat. Oh I forgot…Liz did help some lady and her daughter by contacting her rich friends to donate money, so that the lady and her daughter could build a house, complete with a blue tile floor. My guess is they had to throw charity a bone here in order to make up for all the selfish-meat in the movie.

In closing:

This is movie is a sad example of situation ethics girded with the belt of religious relativism. This movie even manages to insult eastern religions, as well as spiritual attainment; which is a tough act to pull off…Kind of like a feathered mullet. (or at least I’m told)

Watch at your own risk:->