Archive for the ‘church’ Category

jon_lovitz-devil-snl-48Injustice, Addiction, Hatred, Cancer, Earthquakes, Disease, Human trafficking, Famine, Pride, Revenge, Depression, Greed, Torture, Murder, War, Genocide, Darkness

Those are the words in a TV commercial advertising a sermon at Second Baptist Church in Houston concerning EVIL as in “Really evil. Like so evil, that you would say it was E-VEEL, like it’s the FRU-ETS of the DEV-EEL. E-VEEL.” 1 But wait! The plot thickens to include Satan (sticking with SNL folks, see the included video for emphasis on SATAN!!!) and his dreaded agenda.

Why am I being so over-the-top about this commercial? I’m glad you asked. It’s because the whole commercial and sermon are so over-the-top in preaching fear and dread and God’s gonna save ya, and we’re here to tell you how.

With this type of fear-inducing propaganda, no wonder people have lost God and religion. I mean several of the items mentioned in the commercial are God’s handiwork, and God doesn’t produce evil only love. And then some of them, just because some people don’t understand the world and science, might seem evil, like we should be burning a witch at the stake evil for causing the dastardly deeds. Of course, the producers did manage to slip in a few truly horrific acts to boost and group the seemingly every day acts as works of the devil. I mean when you see earthquake in the same sentence as genocide, you just gotta run and get a bible. So let’s examine these words and breakdown how they are evil… evil…evil… fades into scary Vincent Price laughter.

Injustice – Right out the gate, that’s not evil; the world isn’t fair; life sucks. We all have hard times. That doesn’t make injustice evil. We don’t understand it, but again, doesn’t make it evil. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. But really, we don’t know who is good and who is bad. Only God know that. We only know what we perceive. If this life was all fine and dandy why would we need to go to Heaven?

Addiction – Not evil, it is simply science. Our bodies and brains are wired for addictive habits and chemicals. Other animals, besides humans, become addicted. Is Satan smiting them as well? No. Calling addiction evil is displacing the blame, and it doesn’t really help the individuals who are addicted. I’m not saying God can’t cure addition. I’m just saying that this human function is not evil.

Hatred, Revenge – I am grouping those two together because they are the polar opposite of what Jesus taught. They are not good, but it is human nature to feel hatred or want revenge. That is why Jesus taught love and forgiveness. We shouldn’t mention the negative words of hatred and revenge.  A church that only talks of love and forgiveness every Sunday for a hundred years will heal more hurt, generate more love, and bring more peace.

Cancer – Kind of created by God. If you believe he created our bodies and God’s work is perfect, then, cancer plays some role in God’s work. We don’t understand it clearly, but that doesn’t make it evil. Trust me. I don’t like cancer. I have lost loved ones to cancer, and I have loved ones battling cancer. It is an awful disease, but caused by Satin it ain’t.

Earthquakes – Created by God. If you believe he created this world, and again, that God’s work is perfect, then earthquakes play a role in our world, and in fact, they do; earthquakes relieve tension built up in the earth’s crusts. Without earthquakes, this world would not be the same place. Tragic as they are when people lose their lives doesn’t make earthquakes evil.

Disease, Famine – I grouped these two because I am getting tired of stating created by God, and if you believe blah… blah… blah. Both of these are part of this world. They are terrible. I don’t want people to die due to famines, but famines are simple science. Science sometimes sucks. Sometimes the science of the world we live in creates organisms that kill us. Again, these are terrible circumstances in our world, but not evil.

Depression – I jumped to this one in the list, because I wanted to conclude the list of items that are clearly not evil with this one. I suffer from depression. I have my whole life. I know it is not evil. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in our bodies. You would think that with the recent death of Robin Williams that people would quit stigmatizing depression, but leave it to the “Christians” to demonize a condition that affects millions of people.

Pride, Greed – Clearly these are not our best qualities, but we all sin. We all feel pride. We all feel greed. Ask for forgiveness from God and move on. Don’t dwell on the bad aspects of who we are. While I wouldn’t call these sins evil, I can see how someone might. Are they caused by the guy with horns and a pitchfork? If they are, he gets around more than Santa Claus. Wait a minute. Santa. Satan. Church lady do we have a problem here?

Human trafficking, Torture, Murder, War, Genocide – I’m not going to argue against evil. These are evil. But I will add again, I believe they are simply sprinkled in this list to make the other items seem evil by association. What are we to make of these? Jesus said wars would happen. People die. TV shows and churches love the gory details. They get ratings and fill the pews.

Darkness – This is so vague that I don’t even know where to begin.

I’m glad I don’t have to give a couple of sermons on these topics. I don’t know how I would fill the time, but I bet, a lengthy sermon will not be difficult to achieve. I don’t know why this commercial moved me so much. Some people might argue it was the devil that made me write this. If they want to believe that, I can’t help them. I will pray for them. I will pray that everyone caught up in this hoopla sees God’s glory through love, forgiveness, and grace. You don’t need to know bad stuff is out in this world to know that God has got your back. He does. Trust me.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t include a link to the video or website about the sermon, I just didn’t want to promote any more than I already have by writing this blog post. If you want to see the video, Google it. I’m sure evil Google will have no problem directing you to the proper website.


1 Mike Myers in So I Married an Axe Murder

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A day for my Lord

What is Easter about? Do people even know? Do I know? Does anyone know? The years have come and gone for two-thousand of them – that’s eight-thousand seasons of cold nights, snow, hot, sticky mornings, blossoming flowers and dead dry leaves. The miracles get forgotten. The life he lived becomes lost in the drudgery of work and running errands. The sacrifices seem minimal now and for many not at all. We place God under the piles of to-do lists and hide him away until the stores stock candy and cards that eventual remind us that Easter is on its way. Then we dress in our church costumes of pressed slacks and Sunday dresses with polished shoes that shimmer as we all stand in line waiting to file into church for a ritual that means nothing to those clamoring for a seat.

Here is an Easter tale for you that will make you promise to do better, but God is too distant, and we fill our lives with TV and after-school activities and phones that hold hundreds of games. You will say that you will change. You will agree that this is what Easter should be about, but who are we kidding? When you click off this page, or even if you read these words, you will be on to something new, and God stills waits, and God still loves, and God still forgives, but if you don’t take the time to know him, what difference is it if he waited; if you don’t embrace his love, and reciprocate it, what difference does it make that he shows us his love, and if you hold the world’s hate and don’t forgive, what is his forgiveness?

But the tale must be told, and if one person does see the meaning of Easter, if one person opens a connection with God, if one person loves his neighbor or forgives those that hurt her, then the tale was worth it, and I’m glad I felt well enough to type it.

See, this story begins with me working too many hours and not spending time with my wife, or going to church, or leading my meetings on Wednesday or Thursday, or even calling my kids. I’m not a good man, but I know that God’s love will show me where he needs me to be, and on this Easter, it was leaving almost an hour early so that my wife and I could eat lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We left early because I had skipped breakfast so that I could have a big meal at the steakhouse, and plus, I wanted the time with my wife since I’ve worked all weekend.

But as we pulled into the parking lot, we passed a woman on her phone, standing beside her car. She wasn’t parked in a spot, but more along the curb, so after we parked I asked Monica is she thought that woman needed help, and sure enough, as we got towards the back of the truck, we could see she had a flat, and Monica asked her if she needed assistance.

She explained she did. She didn’t have a jack, but she had a small donut spare. She had tried calling people she knew, but no one had a jack. I immediately went and got out the truck’s jack and tools, but I could tell they wouldn’t fit under the car. These tools were made for lifting a pickup not a car that is just inches off the ground. So we stood there thinking, and we decided to first call a tow truck, but after it was determined it would take an hour to 90 minutes for them to get there we scraped that idea and decided to ask someone for a car jack. The restaurant was packed and so was the parking lot, so there were plenty of people.

Monica went in the restaurant and asked. No one had a jack. I stopped a family dressed in their Sunday clothes rushing back to their car, complaining that someone had parked too close to them. I stopped them and asked if they had a jack. They didn’t even stop getting into their car as he answered first, “not one that will work on your car,” still griping about that car too close, and the wife, said as she was shutting her door, “it only works on our car.” I can understand; they didn’t want to get their church clothes dirty getting it out of the trunk, and besides the woman’s car wasn’t a new car or even a clean car, and I was dressed in shorts and a Hulk t-shirt. Monica asked an elderly couple getting into their car, but they simply said they couldn’t help. Cars passed by, and people parked and walked on.

We solved the problem by going to Wally world and buying a jack. It worked. And after an hour of working on the tire we got it off and the spare put on, so she could drive to Tomball where she worked. That was at least 30 minutes away from where we were. We exchanged names, and Monica and I wished her well and a safe trip. So during all that one young guy on a bike stopped and asked if we needed help, but that was when we needed a jack.

We were out there for one hour and 30 minutes, and only one person even paused long enough to offer help. I got sunburned. I was so tired that we went in the restaurant, ordered our food, and then left. I was having a panic attack, and my vision was blurry from the low sugar levels since I hadn’t eaten a bite all day.

But I didn’t write this tale to speak of our deeds. God placed us there an hour early. God showed us the solutions. God soothed my arms as they were shaking from trying to jack that car up. But I didn’t write this for that. I am writing for the hundreds that passed by. For those celebrating Easter without knowing what it even means or what even Jesus wanted them to do! He didn’t say get dressed up and go to church. Jesus said love your neighbor. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR!! How hard it that?

This whole situation reminds of a country song, What I didn’t do by Steve Wariner.

I didn’t cheat,
I didn’t lie,
So her leaving took me by surprise.
Just a note on the table,
Saying we’re through.
At first I went crazy,
So it took me sometime.
But I finally read between the lines.
It’s not what I did,
It’s what I didn’t do.

I didn’t tell her,
Each day I loved her.
I took it for granted,
Somehow she knew.
I didn’t hold her,
When she needed a shoulder.
It’s not what I did,
It’s what I didn’t do.

You don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. You don’t murder or steal. You don’t lust at material things. No you keep all the commandments, but it’s what you didn’t do that which God said meant most of all. You didn’t love his flock, your neighbors, and if you can’t love them then you can’t love God. John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So here on Easter, when God has risen from the dead so that we might live, many walked right past him and denied him. That’s why I write this tale to warn of foolish deeds and missed opportunities. God lives among us – in each and every one of us. Love them, and you love God. Hug them, and you hug God. Change their tire, and you helped God get on his way.

I leave you with this… our Lord’s words. May God be with you as you read them.

Luke 10:25-37
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

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Can you remember a time when you’ve been on the outside looking in, where everyone else knew the lingo, knew what to do, knew the inside jokes and seemed to fit right in? As someone who has been a loner a lot of my life and refused to put myself out there, I’ve been there, and it hurts. Usually, most people walk away from that situation because it’s so difficult to break into that intimate group. I have. It’s just easier that way.

A lot of the time, the group doesn’t even know they’re being exclusive. I mean, they’ve been together for years; they’ve raised their kids together; they’ve gone to the movies together; they’ve gathered together once a week for as long as they can remember, so naturally, bonds have been formed and invisible walls have been built. (more…)

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A Christian…

How does a “Christian” say that another person is “not a Christian?” Have lessons of our Lord been lost and forgotten? I am saddened, and I cannot sleep as I know that Jesus did not teach judgment; he did not reveal labeling; he did not die so that others may be castaways. It just doesn’t happen on the news; I know actions similar to this occur way more than they should.

I am awake late at night writing my thoughts. I see that over two weeks ago I had started writing about what it meant to be a Christian. The page had been left blank because, even though I felt in my heart what it meant, the words just would not come forth, and now, as I try to sleep, the words will not go away, so I type them, and I let them fall as they may because that is how the sprit moves – on God’s time. I’m not saying that God is giving me the words, but I believe that I had to see the man claiming to be a Christian, judging, labeling, and breaking my heart for the moment to take shape and the words to find their way to this paper. Tonight.

I’m not here to judge another’s action; I am simply stating the spark to my discussion as it may be called or my ramblings as most would label it. I am here so others may know the truth, so that others may know my God and His love for all of us. A “Christian” is not one who follows Christ, but a Christian is one who lives in Christ, so as one who lives with God, you must live His truths.

You forgive.
You embrace.
You receive.
You build up.
You nurture.
You believe.
You love.

Simple words. They are not complicated and neither are the actions.

Is it any wonder why so many people are turned away from God, when so many examples they encounter are judgment and exclusion. God is love. He sent his only son not for the pastors, the deacons, the priests, the elders or the people sitting in pews, BUT for the forgotten, the lost, the misunderstood, the broken, the hurt, the sinners… If we lived his truths, his word would spread not because we say so but because we do so.

Remember what Jesus said in Luke 18:9-14 (NIV).

9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

How will you live your life?

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Back Again

I’m up late; I don’t know why. Why am I such a fool to think that I could have progressed with my life, when I don’t even have a clue what I should be accomplishing in the first place? Two years ago, I contemplated these same questions and dwelled over these almost exact thoughts, but, yet, I didn’t actively pursue any goals.

I sense a yearning from the depth of my soul, but I’m unable to process the meaning of the signals that I trust are from my God. I earn a living doing what I do best, but is that enough, and if it is enough, why do I get the sense that it’s not enough – maybe because I’m asking the same questions over and over… I’m over forty, and yet, in my mind, I’m no older than I was when I turned eighteen, hell, even fifteen. Sure, my knees hurt a lot more, and when I fall, it sure seems harder to get back up, but…

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I’m taking a class at church that I hope will give me the answers that I’m searching for, that I’ve been searching for since I can barely remember, to a time when I was a little boy, swinging in my parents backyard, looking up at the sky, wondering what was beyond those clouds, feeling the chains twist in my hands, my feet brushing the ground as I yanked my legs in harder to thrust the swing higher, often leaning back so far that my head almost touched the ground, yes, even back then, I believe I remember those thoughts of what is life about; where was I before my time began?

Does everyone search for the meaning of life until time has run out on searching? I guess some people must still be looking, otherwise, I would be the sole person in the class, but I’m not, and is the only reason the class isn’t full with every Houstonian because people only avoid the question, pretend it doesn’t exist, and then get by with what life has bestowed upon them? Do people just learn to be happy? That’s not quite right. Not that they learn to be happy but they learn to be – not sad.

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