Jesus Camp

22 Sep

** Update ** Please read the comments for further discussion of this post. -dip

I was a little disturbed when I saw a preview of a new documentary called “Jesus Camp”. I knew they weren’t talking about the type of Christianity that I know. The problem is that many people will look at this and conclude that all “Christians” are crazy. There’s a pretty good review of the documentary here. I pretty much agree with what he has to say. There will always be people trying to portray followers of Jesus in a bad light. Crazy people like this Becky Fischer don’t do much to help the cause. They miss the whole point of Jesus’ message:

We all have sinned. We will always sin. That sin seperates us from God. Since God is a just God, He demands a consequence for our sin. The consequence for sin (all sin) is eternal seperation from God – a spiritual death. But – and this is the good part – God is also a loving God. He wants a relationship with us and He knows that there isn’t anything thing that we can do on our own to reconcile ourselves to Him. So, he sent his son Jesus to this earth to be the one human on earth who was perfect. He was blame free. Then, in the ultimate act of love, Jesus allowed himself to die, to pay for the sins of every human being. He demonstrated the power he had over death by physically raising from the dead and after a few weeks, went physically into heaven.

What was Jesus’ message? To be saved from eternal seperation from God, we only have to admit that we are sinners, acknowledge that we are seperated from God, believe in what Jesus did for us. Our faith should be in the fact that Jesus’ sacrificial act is our path to salvation. As a result of placing our faith in Jesus, we now have the ability to have a personal, intentional relationship with God directly. We don’t have to go through anyone.

Do we become perfect? Of course not. We are all still sinners. But as we acknowledge our sin we also know that God is faithful and forgives our sin. Does that mean there are a bunch of rules to follow? Nope! Does it mean you become some crazed Jesus freak? Most likely not! But here is what it does mean. Jesus said the most important commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. The second most important commandment is similar – to love others like your love yourself.” If we strive to practice these two ideas – everything else will fall into place.

God and Culture

21 Sep

Next week, we begin a study on the book of Daniel. Pastor Bart will teach each Sunday on a chapter and I will write a daily study that will hopefully provide some daily food for thought. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast and daily emails at http://www.gracelearningcenter.com.

One of the ideas I get in studying Daniel 1 is that culture doesn’t have to be God’s enemy. If it does not violate His commands, it can aid in accomplishing His purpose. As followers of Christ, we are free to be leaders in our culture, but we are required to pledge our allegience to God first. Daniel and his friends learned all they could about their new culture so they could do their work with excellence. But while they learned, they maintained steadfast allegience to God and God gave them skill and wisdom.

Hope

20 Sep

Reflecting on hope…

If you hope something happens without a plan, it is just a dream.

If you have hope without something to base it on, it is false hope.

Here’s a couple of examples:

If I hope to make a million dollars, but don’t have a plan on how to acquire it, my hope is just a day-dream.

If I have hope that my house will stand up in a hurricane, it is a false hope if I live in a trailer.

If I hope to go to heaven and I haven’t accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, it is a false hope.

The Ultimate Doctrinal Question

14 Sep

I attended a church once where I was made to feel very unwelcome because I questioned why they believe what they believe. It seems that because I held different opinions on different doctrinal issues, they didn’t want me as part of their “Christian” community. So, needless to say, my desire has always been to be involved in a community of believers that understand that we can have differences in opinion when it comes to doctrine. I have found that at Grace. I know that I can talk to Bart about any issue and he won’t make me feel unwelcome.

So, what’s the answer to all the people who would rather argue about their doctrinal opinions? I just listened to Neal Christopher at Sandals Church and he has come up with the ultimate doctrinal question. A question so powerful and enlightening, that if you can answer this question, all other doctrines and beliefs will fall in place. Here it is:

Did God create homosexual dinosaurs, to choose to drink alcohol or is their alcohol consumption predestined?

Don’t spend too much time thinking about this. The point is, as believers in Christ, we need to spend more time loving others like Jesus did and not worrying about things that just don’t matter.

What’s in a name

13 Sep

Did you ever wonder how the cooking spray PAM was named? One guess in the office was “perfect arisoled margerine”. Well, according to the company website:

The first patent for a no-stick cooking spray was issued in 1957 to Arthur Meyerhoff, Sr. and Leon Rubin, who started PAM Products, Inc.-the name stood for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. The men later founded Gibralter Industries and developed a new product: PAM All Natural Cooking Spray.

I guess we should be glad his name wasn’t Ichabod Gottlieb!

Who can predict the future?

1 Sep

Unforeseen?I just couldn’t help but laugh at this photo! I was all prepared to write a big long spiritual commentary on it, but after looking at the picture a little more, I figured that there wasn’t much else to say.

Then I remembered an old Gaither tune.

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, To heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Jesus lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
My life is worth the living, just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross that river,
I’ll fight life’s final war, life’s final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and
I’ll know my Jesus lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
My life is worth the living, just because He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
My life is worth the living, just because He lives!

My life is worth the living,
just because He lives!

Game, Set, Match

1 Sep

I don’t normally watch tennis on TV but last night, flipping through channels, I came across one of the most captivating tennis matches I have ever seen.

It’s the second round of the US Open. Andre Agassi, 36, already having announced his retirement, is playing against the 8th seeded, 21 year old, Marcos Baghdatis of Cypress. After his last match, Agassi had to take cortisone shot to help his back recover. There are 23,000+ in the stands. The atmosphere is electric.

Agassi looks strong the first two sets winning them both 6-4. Then he struggles, losing the next two sets – blowing a 4-0 lead in the fourth. This is where I come in. The fifth set. The score is 3-2 Agassi. My first reaction when I see Agassi is – Wow! I can’t believe he is still playing at this level at 36!

They start trading games – nobody can break serve. It goes back and forth. Agassi is somehow making shots that seem impossible. Reaching drops that others would miss. 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, it goes on. I get the same feeling I get when I’m watching Michael Jordan play basketball, Tiger Woods golf, and Muhammad Ali box. You know you are watching greatness. The camera pans to the stands, his wife; Steffi Graf is cheering him on – yup -greatness.

All of a sudden, Baghdatis starts cramping. He’s already been treated for a thigh injury during the match so he is not able to call time out for his cramps. He has to play through the cramping. Somehow, he finds ways to make the shots, forcing point after point. The ninth game of the set was amazing. Agassi, with a bad back, and Baghdatis, with cramping thighs, play a eight-deuce, four-break-point game that eventually gives Agassi a 5-4 lead. Baghdatis would go on to win the 10th game to tie it at 5-5. Then, Agassi, the old man, gutted it out to win the next two – against what appeared to be a recovered Baghdatis – finally breaking Baghdatis’ 125+ mph serve, winning the final set 7-5.

After a grueling 53 game, 4 hour marathon match, Agassi secured a win, and the right to advance to the third round. His main concern? Will his body be able to recover enough to play at the level he needs to play? He was gracious in his win and appreciative of the fans that stayed to almost 1 a.m. to watch the match. Amazing…..

I am in awe of people who can play at such a high level. They make impossible shots seem effortless. I may never watch another tennis match again in my life but I am happy that I was able to see that match.

I will never be able to play a sport at that level. (I am just happy if I can make it through a game.) But one thing I do know – no matter what accomplishments we achieve here on earth, they don’t mean diddily-squat if we don’t have Jesus. The amount of awe I have watching great athletes perform doesn’t compare to the awesomeness of Jesus, and – here’s the greatest part – when we put our faith in Him, we gain access to the same power and grace that he demonstrated when He walked this earth. I’ll take that any day.