Archive for June, 2012

30
Jun
12

Christians Don’t Lie

The following is an article I’ve copied from my older “blogspot” site:

 

Many years ago I met a former school friend in the street. He had strong socialist leanings and admired the Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

 Being a Christian I brought up the issue of the Communist persecution of believers. My friend expressed doubt about the truth of persecution and I responded by asking why the Christians experiencing persecution under Communist regimes should lie. They were Christians and lying was contrary to their faith.

Now in THAT case I have no doubt at all that my reference to Christians telling the truth was valid. Christians were (and ARE) being persecuted under various political and religious based regimes. However, I later learned that not all “Christian” claims are trustworthy and the truth is not guaranteed from all sources professing to be Christian.

In my younger years I was extremely naïve, perhaps even gullible. I gave people the benefit of the doubt and trusted that the majority of people (especially Christians) were basically truthful. I easily believed what I was being told. When I read or heard of fantastic experiences I didn’t doubt that the stories were true.

From early childhood I had a fascination with UFOs and read as much as I could find on the subject – but NEVER did I think that any of the stories may have been made up. This attitude remained with me after becoming a Christian – and if possible I had more reason to trust what I was told by other Christians. The truth was important to Christians, lying was strictly forbidden so why would any Christian disobey God by lying?

Even today I probably don’t realise how vulnerable this outlook made me. Whenever I read or heard Christian testimony I believed it without question. Why would a Christian lie?

In the church I attended I heard about a congregation member rising 30 cm off the floor during worship. I heard about angelic singing in a friend’s home. I heard the story of a group of ministers saved from a certain head-on collision when their car was instantly transported past the on-coming vehicle. Why shouldn’t I have believed these stories – they were told by people I knew, about people I knew, and those people were Christians and Christians don’t lie.

There were also books giving amazing testimonies of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of Christians. There were books of people literally set free from Satan’s power – being turned from practising witchcraft to having faith in Jesus, books that showed the reality of “both sides” of supernatural reality. And I believed it all. Why would Christians lie?

I’m not sure now when the cracks started to form; when I started to see that Christians are not always as truthful as they should be, and not everyone who professes to be a Christian is a genuine follower of Jesus. I have written elsewhere about my “crisis of faith” that started in the late 1980s and lasted around 15 years. Maybe it was during this time that my eyes were opened.

I had maintained my interest in UFOs and other strange phenomena and read widely on these subjects, and for the first time I started to come across some sceptical voices from those who had an interest in these subjects but also questioned the validity of many of the claims being made. In my reading I was particularly interested in stories that had a “Christian” element and through this I became aware of investigation into stories I’d lapped up years before.

Mike Warnke was a Christian with amazing testimonies. He was an excellent communicator using humour to reach people with the gospel. He did this through personal accounts of his involvement with the occult (published in his book “The Satan Seller”) and also through experiences in the Vietnam war. His experiences in the occult did a lot to convince me of the reality of the powers of darkness. Some of his experiences could have been from a horror novel – but they were true. He was a Christian and Christians don’t lie.

BUT – I started to read claims that he HAD lied, that his stories were all false. And these claims were not from some antichristian group, they were being made by a Christian magazine. Now I had a dilemma. Who should I believe? Two separate Christian sources were contradicting each other over an issue of truth. They couldn’t BOTH be telling the truth – but surely Christians don’t lie.

I use that case as merely one example. Since then I’ve had reason to doubt many claims made by Christians and I have come to see that “Christians” are not always the most trustworthy sources of information. The situation is made worse by the same kind of gullibility that I displayed and people pass these stories on to others without giving due consideration for their reliability.

We’ve all heard of urban myths – those stories with no basis in fact that become “true” through constant retelling. I’m sure that a lot of favourite Christian stories are the same. How many have heard of the prayer meeting where armed soldiers barge into a meeting threatening to kill all Christians. And when the fearful have departed the soldiers put down their guns and ask to hear the gospel from those who REALLY put their trust in God.

 Is that story really true?

Maybe – but it would be more credible if various facts (location and identity of the soldiers) remained consistent.

 

 —

Reference about Mike Warnke allegations:

 http://mikewarnke.org/PDF/Tribunalhearing.pdf

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28
Jun
12

“God good… Religion still bad!” article by Dave.

I found this interesting and challenging article .

“God good… Religion still bad!”  By Dave

Excerpt from the article:

Though there are many who proudly identify themselves as “Protestants” today and reject the Catholic doctrines, still many of the leaders in these Protestant organizations have a view of the Church of Jesus Christ that is not organic to the Scripture, but birthed in Rome and in gross deception! These believe that the Church is an organization governed (nay, ruled) by men; that it can be identified by specially designated buildings and dogmas. They revel in legalism and liturgy. They see the Church as an Institution of Religion rather than simply the family of God. They hold that a person must submit to religious authority in order to be “spiritually covered” by God and recognized as a “Christian”. While many of them would still say that the Church is not just a building but the family of God, yet their actions prove they believe that Christianity does not properly exist without their control (and I dare argue that they really believe it does not even need the Holy Spirit at all to be maintained).

Anyone who does not regularly attend their services, or worship at their altars, or sing their songs, or pay tithes, or submit to their authority are essentially outcast as dissenters, rebels, backsliders, sinners, and lost. They are often ostracized, ridiculed, and rejected completely. They are sometimes even treated as demon possessed, cursed, or those who have been turned over to Satan. I have heard these terms and tags used myself. I have seen how condescending and arrogant these so-called Christian leaders behave concerning those who choose not to associate by their directives. The only difference between the Inquisition of Rome and so many of these modern day man-made churches is that these folks are not physically tortured or killed for their faith… yet, make no mistake, they are tortured emotionally in many ways; slandered, misrepresented, disrespected, and not treated with the Love of Christ.

Full article can be read here: http://www.truthforfree.com/?p=1934

28
Jun
12

David Pawson: Biblical Context

I’ve been listening to a sermon series by David Pawson where he discusses his approach to preaching, sharing the experience he’s gained over 60 or so years of ministry.

I found the part linked below was particularly interesting. He discusses the importance of “context” and what it means to address scripture “in context”.  

Context makes a big difference to the way we understand what scripture shows us about God. I personally would go as far as saying that almost EVERY doctrinal controversy afflicting “the church” has its root in a non-contextual application of isolated verses from scripture.

The talk goes for around 53 minutes and I highly recommended it.

http://davidpawson.org/resources/resource/1014?return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fdavidpawson.org%2Fresources%2Fcategory%2Fbehaviour%2Fpreaching

26
Jun
12

Transformation

I know I’ve posted all of these photos individually before, but here they are together to show the transformation of “Hour of Judgement” through the three different stages I photographed.

Prior to the first stage illustrated above, I had another painting on this canvas that I felt wasn’t working. I decided to recycle the canvas by painting over what I had. The result was something abstract that I thought looked quite good. But in trying to add more I spoiled the effect I had liked.

The only solution I saw was to start all over again by obscuring the “abstract” with a layer of paint. I used a combination of thick textured red and yellow paint to cover everything and with a palette knife made a rough “Y” across the middle of the canvas – one of the recurring symbols used in many of my paintings.

I then rubbed sections of the paint away to let a little of the texture of the previous painting show through.

The fieryness of the result turned my mind to the judgment of Babylon recorded in the book of Revelation:

She will be consumed by fire,

for mighty is the Lord God who judges her

and

When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.

I created the face of Babylon through adding and rubbing back more paint until I got the effect I wanted. That left the bottom right corner where I wanted to portray the fiery destruction described.

To show the city I wanted tall iconic buildings to symbolise Babylon as a place of significant trade and also symbolising the pride of man. The buildings would also refer back to the origins of Babylon and the tower of Babel. The buildings I chose as representations were the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the former World Trade Centre in New York. Parts of both can be seen in the final stage of the painting above. I also tried to incorporate an image of my own town’s clock tower – to bring the idea of Babylon closer to home. It’s always easy to point the finger elsewhere and see “Babylon” as something out there and not where we are.

The clock tower didn’t work out very well. The perspective was totally wrong, so I obscured most of it and left only the clock face – showing a time representing the hour of Jesus’ death.

The painting expresses God’s judgement on a city and a people who have continued to reject Him. They come under judgment and suffer destruction because they rejected the sacrifice Jesus made to enable them to avoid their deserved punishment. The clock is a reminder that Jesus paid the price of the judgement we all deserve and it is only pride and a sense of self-sufficiency (the belief that we ourselves ar good enough for God, or that we don’t even need God) that will ensure we face a terrible judgment that could have been avoided.

23
Jun
12

Lone Ranger

“Lone Ranger” Christian.

That is a term I’ve seen thrown around quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, referring to believers who are outside of established church structures. These people have been accused of being “anti-leadership”, “anti-meeting” and “anti-body”.

I know I would be seen as fitting that “lone ranger” tag – because I’ve not been involved with an established church for about three years. I have also spent most of my Christian life “out of church” – after starting it with a decade long association with a Pentecostal fellowship where I was Youth Leader and occasional preacher.

That 10 year period ended when I entered a time of spiritual confusion. I got mixed up with some very dodgy teaching, became disillusioned and drifted from one group to another looking for one who demonstrated evidence of the Christian life I’d been led to expect: the kind of life that was supposed to be normal yet no one seemed to be experiencing.

 After trying almost every Pentecostal/Charismatic church in the city I drifted away from fellowship altogether. It took over 15 years until my faith was stirred again. I immediately started to look for a church to join, but every attempt failed. No group seemed interested in relationship. All they wanted was increased numbers in their meetings. It was the major thing they talked about. Attempts to develop friendships failed. Eventually I gave up on the “church” idea.

A new town, a new opportunity.

Two churches, two extremes of false teachings and practices.

Back to the “out of church” status.

 Out of “church” but not out of fellowship.

“Churchless” but not faithless.

My main contact with other believers has been via the internet. Not ideal? Probably – but it’s kept me stronger than I was in my early church-going days. I’m no longer tossed to and fro by every appealing, ear-tickling doctrine that comes along offering THE answer.

I have learned to depend more on God than on man. It was dependence on man, and looking for men to teach me that got me into the troubles of the past.

Am I anti-leader? No. But my idea of legitimate leadership is different from that of people with vested leadership interests. Leadership to me is demonstrated in maturity and the willingness to serve. It is demonstrated in pointing to God rather than man, saying follow HIM not me. Legitimate leadership equips people to be independent of the leader and dependant on God.

Am I anti-meeting? No. But my idea of meetings is different from the one where people sit in rows, one behind the other staring at the back of someone’s head while being entertained by a man telling stories at the front of the designated building. Meetings to me are GENUINE meetings – you meet with people and don’t merely gather with them in the same place. You communicate; speak with each other instead of all listening to one man. You share. You get to know each other. Ideally this would be face to face, but when that’s not possible, it can be over the phone or the keyboard.  And the sharing is about Jesus and our faith in Him. It’s not discussing the weather, the football or similar topics.

Am I anti-body? No. And most of my thoughts on this are the same as those in the previous paragraph. A body is about connection with other parts of the body, recognition that the role of each part is important. And most importantly that CHRIST is the head of the body, man isn’t. And each part of the body should be directed by Him.

22
Jun
12

Out of Church?

 What makes a church a church?

A building?

A seminary trained minister?

 Organised meetings – especially on Sunday?

A history?

Community recognition that THIS is a church?

Or is it any group of believers meeting any place they can at any time they can as long as their focus is relationship with God through Jesus: whether others recognise it as “church” or not.

I suspect many recognised, respectable “churches” would not fulfil that last definition.

21
Jun
12

Hour of Judgement (completed?)

I think this paintings is now finished. The photo was taken with a flash which seems to make certain parts of the picture more dominant than others. I’m hoping to get a better photo with natural light to post to my “gallery” page (art by onesimus).

“Woe! Woe to you, great city,

 you mighty city of Babylon!

In one hour your doom has come!”

 The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more – cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

 ‘They will say, “The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered.” The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out:

 “Woe! Woe to you, great city,

 dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,

 and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!

In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”

 ‘Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, “Was there ever a city like this great city?” They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:

 “Woe! Woe to you, great city.”




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