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An Integrative Perspective of Mental Health in Light of Eternity

February 8, 2013 1 comment
Redemption drawing nigh

Redemption

For those who have a relationship with Christ, we look forward to redemption, both in body and spirit. The introduction of sin into a perfect and spotless world tainted everything, from the land to the health and longevity of the human body. What was once a flawless frame, complete with perfected organs, sickness, disease, and death resulted from the Fall. Most amazingly, the Author of life didn’t give up. Though His plan was eternal, physical fellowship with man, man chose separation. God still had a purposeful contingency, a second chance found through Christ’s blood. We are told in the bible, that for those who accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we have an abiding hope of return to the glorified, original state God intended from the beginning. As Scripture states,

We will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53, NIV)

From the kidneys to the heart, our skin and eyes, every part of our being will be made new and perfected. This includes the brain.

Dr. Jenkins (2013) eloquently stated, “My brain is in need of redemption, just like the rest of my physical body. One day, my brain will be in its glorified state.” Time, toxic elements, chemicals, and stress all have tremendous impact in the decay of our fragile bodies. This includes the physical make up of the brain. Most often, when people think of physical health, the brain is not the first thought (No pun intended.). Negative factors, such as those listed above, greatly influence the health of brain material. Combined with genetic predispositions to disease, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, the state of the brain can be precarious, indeed. While evolutionists claim that homeostasis was a natural process that all life forms adapted to ensure the biological maintenance, creationists believe that an all-knowing God planned our bodies with purpose and design (Hart & Ksir, 2011).

Our environment and our personal choices all contribute to the state of our brain. While many issues arise that are not within our control, it is important to consider how we can better care for our health. Unfortunately, many of us do not realize or begin to get serious about these matters until damage is done or the unexpected news is delivered. With our physical mental abilities, come our volition and will.  These, too, will be redeemed and properly focused soley on the Lord.  The mind is an integration of a physical and spiritual state.  There is great hope in our redemption! One day our physical form, every part, will be perfected. We will be changed in an instant and will forever live in the presence of our loving Creator.

References

Hart, C. & Ksir, C. (2011). Drugs, society, and human behavior (14th ed.). Boston, MA:

McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 978-0-07-338090-2.

Jenkins, D. (2013). Models of addiction. Audio Visual Presentation: Liberty University

The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

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SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

Exodus Ministries: The Great Debate

Specifically, the concern of many liberals is that Chick-fil-a donates to an organization called Exodus Ministries (also known as Exodus International).  This is a faith-based ministry to homosexuals, families of homosexuals and leadership within the church.  Exodus, above almost all organizations in my opinion, is one of the most speculated, hated (by both sides), and misinterpreted.   Exodus statements are twisted, manipulated, and flat out lied about.  The rumor mill never stops.

Exodus was founded in the late 1970’s by several men whose desire was to leave the homosexual lifestyle and help others overcome homosexuality.  It was brought to my attention the story of a man by the name of Michael Bussee, one of the founders of Exodus now advocates against the organization based upon its practices at the onset.  To be clear, I don’t know specifics of the beginning of Exodus. What I do know is that homosexuals in that period of time (and now!) needed care.  They needed love.  The church kicked them out without trying to support and walk along-side of them.  The gay community was terrified in with what became known as AIDS and there was a profound need.  There were no other organizations or ministries in existence.

I have no doubt they made mistakes.  We all do!  But, their passion, their motives, their heart for the gay community and for those who struggle with same-sex attraction was ignited.  They took a leap of faith, a shot in the darkness, and launched not knowing the specifics of how Exodus would take shape.  What I can say is that the church is often criticized and hated for mistakes.  Let me be clear.  In many ways the church as a whole has stumbled and failed to address issues properly – and we still do.  But, the fact is the church is made of fallible, imperfect sinners.  We don’t have a magic wand.  We don’t carry a get out of jail free card or some dry erase board of our personalities or our tendencies.  We still fumble.  There are very well-intentioned people who genuinely believe they are doing good when they are actually setting back the ministry and message of the Bible.

Consider this: every institution has flaws. 

Education

We have education boards and PTA to evaluate and reevaluate the methods that are most effective for learning and knowledge retention.  But, it is a fact that each individual responds differently.  Each child and even into adulthood, we learn in different ways.  Our personalities, our disabilities, and our passions each contribute to how we ingest information and process it.  The teachers we employ, how much do we pay them?  What about tenure?  How about the curriculum that is used?  The education process is constantly revamping its methods (or should be, I suppose.).

Medicine

We have laboratories and grant-funded medical research teams that are specified in trying to find cures for diseases such as AIDS, autism, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.  These are debilitating and heart wrenching diseases that scientists are feverishly trying to find effective treatments and cures.  They can only find such developments by trials, tests, and continued research.  They’ve tried and failed in avenues that at one point seemed to have hope, only to be forced to go back to the drawing board.  When it comes to certain illness, hundreds of years ago the medical practices seemed effective but now that science has continued and pressed on for more information, we no longer practice.  Bloodletting, lobotomies, etc.

Government

Don’t even get me started….Seriously….

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The issue of Exodus, it’s practices and beliefs is of importance to me for a few reasons.  I am clinical counselor who retains a Biblical worldview.  And I also have a heart for the gay community.

It is vital to understand a baseline for this discussion: there is a difference between a homosexual lifestyle and homosexual orientation.  Homosexual lifestyle is the acting upon desires, thoughts, impulses, and attractions.  A homosexual orientation is the desire for, thoughts, impulses, and attractions themselves.  This is a necessary distinction to determine what is actually “sinful” according to the Bible.

As far as the view of homosexuality and changing, I would posit that there are people in three “camps”:  1. Those who believe it can be “cured.” 2. Those who believe that homosexuality is an unchangeable, biological fact, and that to attempt to change is harmful and 3. Those who believe that a homosexual can, with proper support, change his lifestyle. (strong emphasis on “lifestyle”.)

It must be understood is that there are people who believe that homosexuality can be cured.  To use the word “cure” has multiple interpretations.  There are people who genuinely believe that through therapy (faith-based or clinical) one can wipe out homosexual orientation.  At this point I must confess, I don’t know much about reparative therapy.  It is a small orientation of thought that I have not been educated in, therefore to make strong comments about it would be inappropriate.  However, I can say this, there are many schools of thought in psychology that I do not ascribe to.  As any theoretical adaptation, man has put forth ideas to observe behavior, modify behavior, and assist clients in their pursuit and navigation through life.  Some techniques are effective, some are not, and many are debated for their effectiveness.

Throughout the history of social sciences, people have modified their opinions and ideas based upon ethics (such as electroshock therapy) and upon new interventions (such as twelve step programs).  As individuals in life, we all go through a cycle of research (limited or extensive), thought, and action.  We all learn lessons, are rewarded, and punished.  When we step back and reflect upon a transaction in life that has not been beneficial and reassess where we can improve, make necessary changes and then move another direction, progress occurs.

My approach to change in the homosexual is a little different from a “curist”.  My belief is that Christ can change any heart.  However, that does not mean that our propensities vanish (although sometimes they do).  A sex addict who accepts Christ may never have temptation again.  An alcoholic who has tried everything, may never desire a drink after an encounter with Jesus.  But for most of us, life is a series of difficult pursuits to avoid what we carnally desire, yet what is harmful and condemned in Scripture.  Most of us battle anger and tempers, food addictions and smoking, though we depend upon the Lord’s strength.

And that is the point!

We need the Lord’s strength to overcome our temptations.  As difficult as it is, our failures of heart, our weaknesses can either defeat us and we surrender back to the lifestyle or can cause us to draw nearer to Christ for strength.

You will find that Alan Chambers states he is thankful for his same-sex attractions.  A controversial statement that many people misunderstand, but the point is that as a result of his weakness, he found God.  And it is God who can help us everyday overcome our failures and temptations, if we allow Him.  This is in His timing.  So often people who are trying to change habits get so frustrated wondering when it will just “happen already!”

But, the process and journey looks different for every individual.

That point cannot be underscored enough.

I believe Exodus is in another phase of evaluation.  A natural one.  As a matter of the therapies that Exodus has endorsed, though not personally practiced, they reevaluate the methods of support that is offered to individuals.  It is important to reemphasize the fact that every method of support is not effective for every individual, just as education is not straightforward across the board.  The intent of this organization has never been to hurt people, denigrate individuals or make strong political statements. I have been to Exodus events and have many of their publications.  The term “ex-gay,” while initially accepted has been vehemently rejected in the last decade by Exodus.

I truly believe that it is the goal of this organization is to love others and to equip the church to balance truth within the absolute scope of compassion.

They mean to assist people in their struggles, to walk alongside them as they navigate through life.  Alan Chamber’s recently spoke a fabulous message in which he states that for far too long people have made this one issue center.  The fact is that we all struggle and move through life.  I have a propensity to worry, to become anxious for which the Bible tells me not to!  Jesus is my comfort, yet I forsake Him when I worry or become anxious.  He died so that I would not be in bondage to that sin.  Another man or woman may have a propensity to homosexual orientation.  And when those desires are acted upon, they forsake Christ.  One statement that Alan makes struck me.  In essence he said, “Christ did not hang longer on the cross for homosexuals.”  How true!  Christ didn’t detail every moment, “Now this minute is for the adulterers.  This minute of pain is for the gossips.  That nail is for the swindlers.”  No!  Rather he bled and died on that tree for the freedom from ALL sin for ALL of mankind.  The unfortunate fact is now we want to divvy out whose penalty was greater.  That is missing the mark and desecrating the whole purpose in the sacrifice.  The point is that we accept his punishment.  Period.  You need salvation, I need salvation.  When we bicker about who is more sinful, we waste precious time and energy.  We all must accept the forgiveness for our sins.  None of us are forgiven unless we allow the Lord to forgive us.  This is an incredibly simple concept with tremendous incredulity.  How amazing is it that God grants us forgiveness for every wrong simply by taking the step of faith to trust and accept it!  Yet, how complex we make it!  How cumbersome it is for many to actually make that step!

Finally, I have learned this:  there are some individuals who will continue to intentionally misrepresent Exodus no matter the facts.  No matter how often mission statements and messages pledge allegiance and uncompromising commitment to loving and supporting.  No matter how often people deliberately overlook the daily, humble action of quietly loving and walking alongside people who genuinely struggle.  There will be people who are malicious and hateful.  What I have to remember is this:

Christ died for them too.

We continue to love in action.  We continue to stand for truth as it is given to us in the Word of God. And we continue to serve.

I leave you with two important bits of information:  One is the quotation from Exodus about its mission.  And the second is the message Alan Chambers made at this year’s conference Alan Chambers:  Made for More.

I’m always curious to see what people are saying about Exodus and as the PR person, I’m pretty sure there’s something in my job description about that too. I’ve heard some winners in the years I’ve spent working on and around this subject. Hmm . let’s see. According to some, Exodus believes in inhumane psychiatry that harkens back to the Dark Ages. Others say we peddle nonsensical, mind-altering remedies to unsuspecting prey that erases any and all attractions. Still others’ seem to think we hold mysterious camps with all the security measures of the FBI training facility in Quantico – just in case anyone would think of escaping. Of course, none of that is remotely true and all of it is wholly laughable, but it is amazing how hearsay begats rumors and rumors begat hard news. So, here’s the 411 on the top myths about Exodus International to set the record straight (no pun intended):

U.S.S. PRAY THE GAY AWAY:

Prayer is certainly an important part of a Christian’s life, but it’s not a magic formula. If you find one let us know. J This mantra ignorantly dismisses the complicated issues that often underlie attractions and deeper still – identity. As I said before, we don’t think many, if any, wake up one morning, down their coffee and decide to be gay. Sexual attractions develop for many known and unknown reasons and no one chooses those. As complex individuals, we must also take into account the way others hurt us and the way we hurt ourselves. For many who contact Exodus, hurt has become a familiar, but unwelcome fixture in life. Talking to God about these things is part of a dynamic relationship with Him, but it doesn’t always change the fact that dealing with it is just plain hard work.

CAMP GAYBEGONE:

As for those mysterious gay-to-straight “boot camps,” they don’t exist. And neither do any other Exodus camps – mosquito infested or otherwise. We do have an annual conference and some local ones too – held at churches, conference centers and Christian college campuses -just like other Christian conferences, though I’ll freely admit that the content is eye-poppingly unlike most other Christian conferences. We aren’t interested in bludgeoning others with our big black Bibles or our views. Truth be told, we can barely keep up with the 300,000 calls and e-mails we get every year from those who do want our input.

Exodus International doesn’t exist to make gay people straight, promote a formula for “success,” to make money or even to pass legislation. We exist to help others live a life that reflects the Christian faith. We’ve found that the opposite of homosexuality is most certainly not heterosexuality. It is holiness. It is loving God and being loved by Him. It is accepting His identity for us, instead of everyone else’s. But those things don’t often make headlines and I suspect that, unfortunately, we’ll continue to see more crazy things out there churning around in the rumor mill.

Chick-Fil-A in a Stew

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Chick-Fil-A ruffles feathers with stance on traditional values

“Guilty as charged,” was the statement recently made by Chick-Fil-A owner, Dan Cathy, when asked about his company’s support of  traditional family values.  Cathy’s stance has ruffled more than a few feathers and the cuddly cow has now been stamped as one bad egg.  The Leftist brood is squawking the usual cries of hate, bigotry, and homophobia.  A Bostonian mayor has now infamously stated that he won’t let the company nest anywhere near his city, so long as he reigns.  One “gay rights” group has hatched a mass “kiss-in” idea at local restaurants, in an apparent gay PDA showdown.It seems gay pride activists shouting typical accusations of homophobia (“You’re just chicken!”) is supposed to really show Cathy who rules the roost.  (Note:  Don’t mess with their pecking order.)

Like chickens with their heads cut off, the media is flapping about in an attempt to subdue and bully the only company willing to stick its neck out for faith and family values.  Yes, walking on eggshells is the name of the game these days, what with Oreo creating the ever diverse rainbow cookie, it seems even food should be tolerant and diverse in social issues.

Unfortunately for liberals it looks as though Cathy won’t be chickening out anytime soon, further stating:

We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,”

Rather than taking Cathy’s statement viewed as a personal set of values with overtones of gratitude, leftists are outraged, crying “Fowl!” It is possible that much to the chagrin those who support “diversity and tolerance” (wink) one projection is that sales will shoot through the hen-house with all of the publicity and free marketing.  Funny, Chick-Fil-A has had plenty of chicks to count even without a sunrise on Sundays.

And seriously, who doesn’t want a chicken sandwich, waffle fries and a down-home sweet tea after a good hen-pecking?!

What has flown the coop is any rational idea of freedom of speech and freedom to practice religion of one’s choosing.  It takes a bird brain to go on a vicious and personal counter attack to one merely civilly expressing his freedom of belief.  When it comes to diversity and tolerance, many on the left proudly display the egg on their face.  Give them a solid, Bible believing person of faith, they set up the ring and strut around like a banty rooster, waiting for the cock-fight to ensue.  (Sorry, PETA.)

For now, it seems it’s sunny side up for the “Eat more chicken” folks at Chick-Fil-A.

When it comes to standing up for faith, family, and values, that truly is something to crow about….

Response to a Viewer’s Comments in “Chrislam: A Blending of Religions, a Loss of Faith”

In response to this viewer’s recent comment regarding Chrislam: A Blending of Religions, a Loss of Faith, which I thought were wonderful points for discussion:

Hello Jennifer, I would suggest that you do more research into Islam before posting about it. Theologists are not in disagreement about the relationship between judaism, christianity, and islam. There is no question the three are based on the same God, but veer off into different direction concerning interpretations of biblical events, prophets, afterlife, and messiah. Just as you have written “Judeo-Christian”, merging Judaism and Christianity (which is very much the new trend in today’s conservative Christianity, largely based on political reasons), you are contradicting yourself as the Jewish faith doesn’t reflect the criteria you stated above either: They do not believe Jesus was the Messiah, similar to Islam, they see him as a ‘good guy’, a wise prophet. Judaism does not discuss the idea of afterlife or heaven and hell much either, instead, it focuses more on life on earth, and this is in contrast to Christianity whose primary focus is preparation for the afterlife. Many conservative Christian sects today are blending Judaism with Christianity to focus on the commonalities rather than the differences, and I believe this is a good thing. People should always focus on a similarities first, and often in doing this, the difference resolve themselves or prove inconsequential. You could do the same with Islam, focusing on its many similarities with Christianity, and that is what the pastor stated above is doing, its just not the Politically Correct, cool thing to do, so of course, he is taking heat for it.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Order in the Quart. I appreciate your viewpoints and taking the time to comment.  This is certainly a topic that is worthy of discussion and I invite it.

Firstly, you state that there is no question that the three religions mentioned in the post are based on the same God.  I would disagree with that statement, though I see your argument.  It is more accurate to state that, historically, the three religions were connected and began under the same view of God.  Judaism and Christianity believe in the same Old Testament teachings.  Islam believes much of it, but they have their variations of traditional biblical stories, such as Noah and the Flood.  The historical division takes place, as I am sure you are aware, with the children of Jacob and Ishmael, children of Abraham.  The Ishmaelites are now known as “of Arab descent”.  Jacob’s descendents are now known as the Jewish people.  Finally, Jesus Christ, himself was Jewish by birth and was the Savior.  By ethnicity, many Jews and Gentiles followed after Jesus Christ’s teaching and have accepted that He is the Savior for all mankind, thus the label “Christian”.

You are correct in your assertion that Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, a similarity with Muslims.  I did not dispute this in the article.  As a Christian, based upon the direct teaching of Jesus, I believe that this is essential to eternal salvation. (John 14:6) Your assertion that Jews believe that Jesus was a “good guy” and a prophet is, however, not correct.  It is a historical and Biblical fact that Jesus was hated by the majority of the Jewish people.  The Pharisees were responsible for the death of Jesus, believing that He was a threat to the Jewish faith, tradition and a general troublemaker, who blasphemed God. (Mt. 21:46, 22:15-22, 23, 26:65-68)

Therefore, I would argue that there are great differences between each faith.

It is vital to understand that simply because I use the term “Judeo-Christian” does not imply that I fully embrace the Jewish faith.  

However, the Jewish people share the same Old Testament (Christians refer to it as old.) It is congruent with the New Testament. Further there over 400 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.  Judaism refuses to acknowledge this, continuing to look for their Messiah.  So when I refer to Judeo-Christian values, there is no conflict in doing so; Christians have adopted the same scripture and laws that were set forth by God, but we have recognized the prophecies set forth in the Old Testament as fulfilled and leading directly to the person of Jesus as Messiah.

Further, just as there are many sects that proclaim Christianity, there are also sects of Judaism that do not depend upon a strict adherence to traditional, historical values.  Take for example Jewish mysticism, Kabballah, and the many contradictions between that and Orthodox Judaism.  The Old Testament makes many references to hell, often called Sheol, and heaven, so I would disagree with your assertion that Judaism does not discuss the idea of an afterlife. (Isaiah 26:19, 14:9-15, 2Kings 2:1-14) I would also disagree with your assertion that linking Judaism and Christianity is “very much the new trend.”  The linking of the faiths stems from the fact that Jesus was Jewish by birth.  Most of the original disciples were Jewish by birth.  Paul, who was called Saul prior to his conversion, was Jewish by birth.  Traditional Judaism has been linked to Christianity from the onset.

So in summary, as far as the link between Judaism and Christianity: there are differences, but Christianity was, quite literally, birthed from Judaism.

The Qu’ran is not steeped in the tradition of Judaism.  The book’s claim is by a man named Mohammed, who is referenced no where in the Bible.  Further, his assertions and “prophecy” about Allah contradicts Scripture, unlike Judaism and Christianity.  As a prime example, Allah commands that “infidels”, Jews and Christians be killed because of their faith, that being, the lack of faith in the god of Islam. The God of the Bible is the Father of the Jews and Christians.  How is this reconcilable as the same God?  This is only one of the many contradictions of the portrayal of the God of Islam to Judaism and Christianity.

I agree with you that there are many similarities in issues of morality, but I do not accept that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Judaism and Christianity.  I believe that there are many ways, outside of the acceptance and adoption of the Muslim faith, that we can build bridges of communication and respectability.  Mr. Warren’s idea is not one.  He is not finding similarities, he is forsaking the foundations of one faith and attempting to fit them into another.  Essentially, he has put a circular peg into a square hole and is trying to lead people into believing that this is the right way to faith.

Lastly, the comment you made, “and that is what the pastor stated above is doing, its just not the Politically Correct, cool thing to do, so of course, he is taking heat for it.”  I find that very ironic and actually quite the opposite!  The Politically Correct idea IS to embrace all faiths and have “tolerance” for other religions.  By tolerance, as defined by those who ascribe to PC is to accept without reservation. I do not believe in that.

Mr. Warren is actually doing the “cool,” trendy, acceptable thing.  As a follower of Christ, I am not into what is cool, acceptable, and trendy.  I am interested in truth, based in love.  I am happy to find commonality and respect for people of all faiths, but I will NOT compromise my faith and my belief system to accept and adopt theirs.  That is not loving.  Jesus tells us that there is ONE way to heaven and that is through him.  It is my calling to live out that truth.  He ate, taught, and had discussion with people who were different than his “people.”  But he never compromised the truth of what he knew.  He never sold himself out for the sake of popularity and economic gain.  He loved without abandon, he was desperate for the people to know Him and accept him as Messiah.  (The Jewish people need the Lord, too.  I do not overlook this.) Truth and love are only achieved in perfect balance when we embrace Christ and are lead by the Holy Spirit, not enticed by culture, fame, and prestige.

I pray that you continue to search for the truth, as only found in Christ.  God bless you.

Chrislam: A Blending of Religions, A Loss of Faith

Chrislam: A Blending of Religion, A Loss of Faith

You may remember Rick Warren.  He is the author of Purpose Driven….stuff.  He has a slew of Purpose Driven materials that hit churches and homes full force in the early part of the decade.  It seemed every church on every corner was offering small groups that focused on this premise.  I admit.  I was cautious.  Any time one man’s work gets a vast number of groupies, I’m usually skeptical.

As a person of faith, a follower of Christ, it is vital that I maintain the proper perspective of man and God.  Man is given to failure, pride, and manipulation.  God is perfect.  Throughout history, especially in the church, people’s hopes in men are dashed to pieces, based upon the fact that they thought their “hero” could do no wrong.  They forget that man is easily deceived.  They forget the humanity of humanity.  Thus, placing such high hopes on the ideals of a man is a dangerous business.  When people come face-to-face with the harsh reality that their “idol” isn’t Superman, but wrought with frailties, given to the temptations of this world, they often give up hope.  Hope in people. Hope in institutions.  Hope and faith, altogether. Gone.  At the same time, people who are so strongly led by men, who forsake thinking on their own accord, who don’t take time to look into “facts”, and research what they have been taught are often seriously misled.  There are many great thinkers, writers, and philanthropists, but ultimately, it is necessary to come back to a source of truth and check in.  Men are easily swayed, manipulated, and deceived.

I come, now, to Mr. Warren.

Pastor of a mega church in California, New York Times bestselling author, philanthropist, Rick Warren has obtained tremendous influence and power in the last 15 years.  His most recent endeavor has been the bridging between world faiths.  While many would see this as a laudable, even admirable, action, many are now deeply concerned.  The last few years, in particular, Mr. Warren has been called upon to serve on world faith councils.  He is consulted upon in unifying and bringing “peace” among the great religions.  Actually, his main focus has been Christianity and Islam.  Though men and women around the world have a heart to find like-mindedness in issues of morality and respect, Mr. Warren has sought to take relations among the faiths to a whole new level.  Last year, he brought the Qu’ran to be placed side by side the holy book for Christians, the Bible, in the auditorium during what were typically Christian services.  Most recently, he was a primary participant to “A Common Word Between Us and You”, the “Christian response” to a letter written by King Abdullah of Jordan and over 100 Muslim clerics.  In this document, those who proclaim Christianity have proclaimed that the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are one in the same. Here is an excerpt:

The Task Before Us
“Let this common ground” – the dual common ground of love of God and of neighbor – “be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us,” your courageous letter urges. Indeed, in the generosity with which the letter is written you embody what you call for. We most heartily agree. Abandoning all “hatred and strife,” we must engage in interfaith dialogue as those who seek each other’s good, for the one God unceasingly seeks our good. Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.  Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.  We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose.

There is one (among many) problem with this:  Muslims do not believe in the Trinity. The Qu’ran forbids the belief.  Why is that a problem?  Because Christianity proclaims that Jesus Christ is God, the son.  (Hence, the name of the faith/religion?  Christianity?)  Muslims do not believe that Jesus Christ was the Savior.  They believe he was a prophet, a good guy. But, for Christians, the Bible, from cover to cover is about the Messiah.  The focus of the book is not about a good guy, but about the Savior for all of mankind.

(Kind of a big deal to us Christians.  The true followers of Jesus Christ, that is.)

The two faiths are incompatible. It is impossible to believe that Allah is the same is the Judeo-Christian God, when their book and our book define two different Gods.

One is a big ‘G’ God, the other is a little ‘g’ god.  And both sides claim to serve THE God. 

You may ask why this is really such a big deal.  Many of you have genuine concern and a heart for the Muslim community.  Let me be clear that I believe that there should be mutual respect and kindness toward all people, people of other faiths, people who have different lifestyles, and those who do not believe as I do.

HOWEVER, as a follower of Christ, our hope is to reach out in love, as only modeled in the mind and spirit of Jesus. Yet, Jesus never compromised who He was!  He never forsook his purpose and always maintained truth and honesty.  He was gracious, kindhearted, and stood upon truth. 

Without the full grace of the Holy Spirit, we WILL most certainly forsake a merciful attitude and come across in an unloving, un-Christlike manner. So our ONLY hope is full reliance on and constant prayer in the Lord.

It is easy to want to see good intent of these men and women, both the Muslim, and those who define themselves as Christians, in “reaching out” to each other.  But, I also see a power play with people who are very influential as primary proponents.  A person can be loving, kind, and respectful, and still maintain their integrity, belief system, and commitment to truth.  I DO believe that there are some who are genuinely ignorant of what they have signed onto.  It is possible that they did not fully read or understand, pick up on all of the seemingly small, albeit powerful statements with wild implications laced throughout.

The following video clip explains the inconsistencies of Islam and Christianity and the complications that Rick Warren, Robert Shuler, Bill Hybels, and others have created.  Essentially, they have renounced Christianity, as the Bible sets forth, for a new faith.

 

Essentially, as this video so effectively states, this document renounces any higher allegiance to Christ and places common ground – “A Common Word” (which as the creator of the video points out is a direct reference from the Qu’ran). If we don’t have Jesus, we have nothing. Jesus and his sacrifice are what make our faith transcendent and unique from all others.

Without this essential person, being Jesus Christ, the namesake of our “religion”, Christianity, one could argue that Allah were the same as the God we serve!

Alas, our Book, our entire reason for being is woven in the person hood of God the father, Christ, his son, and the Spirit that gives us power. This key element – the Trinity, is blasphemy to Muslims. This is what the Common Word has renounced.

Having said all of that, our task, as unwavering, uncompromising believers is enormous. The Bible foretells of the climax of this battle in the last days, when apostasy will be rampant and the muddling and mixing of faiths will occur.

It is absolutely essential, (I am talking to myself and praying to Christ, as I type) that I remain in Him – HIS word, HIS truth, begging and asking for the mind of Christ moment by moment, and throwing off anything that entangles, so that I can recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing and then know how to properly respond. I can ONLY know that if I am in Him and He abides in me.

Further, I completely agree that there could be dialogue between the faiths. I started to say “should”, but changed it.  If there is not a mutual respect, as there is NOT many times from the Muslim community, particularly internationally, (relations within America are different, largely) then, communication is not possible.

A response from the Christian community would be appropriate and even a gesture of good will.  But I believe that we would have to respectfully, yet clearly disagree. We can agree on issues of morality, ethical and cultural values, but this in no way demands commonality in pledging the same God and matters of faith.

This letter is not kindness and peace, but weakness, a lack of principle, a lack of biblical knowledge, and a wavering spirit.

Finally, we must pray for Rick Warren and the men who have unified themselves with these precepts, along with the Muslim community. It is undeniable that many of these men and women have tremendous influence and that is a VERY scary prospect. Those who are not careful, guarded in Christ, and saturated in Scripture will be easily swayed. Again, while I believe that there may have been some well-meaning, albeit, ignorant people who signed this document, there are absolutely people who have an agenda.

A Dose of Self-Awareness – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Gauging where I should be.

Gauging where I should be.

I have a fever.  I think.  The thermometer isn’t the most reliable, stupid little thing.  I just bought it too.  Well, I feel like crap.  I guess if I pass out and wake up in the hospital I’ll get extra attention if necessary.  Thankfully, at least I’m not delusional, yet.  (Hey, watch it…)

In talking with a dear friend, I began to reflect (alright ramble) upon some heartache I’ve had in the last couple years.  Funny, when we stop and actually listen to what we say we could learn a few things.  Sometimes, we learn how stupid we sound. (That’s where I’m going.) This time I’m reflecting upon the stupid things I’ve said and done.

About four years ago, I realized something. I really should have been on the debate team in high school.  I would have won, hands down, every time.  If my “high school” me was my “up to a year ago” me, that is.  I’m good with words, quick-witted, bold, and unashamed. I’m confident in this.  If someone comes at me with an arrogant attitude and is uncivil, I will do everything in my power to demean, condescend, and put him or her in their place.  I have no tolerance for incivility or disrespect.  There was nothing more gratifying that knowing that I won the debate.  If only the respect of the audience watching.

I am ashamed to admit that this crept into my passion in issues of faith.  Though my original intention was always to speak for truth and for what was right, my intellect, witticism, and conscientiousness became the prized idol. Admiration from others and respect was the game.  I won, but really I lost.  I sought out debates, I was harsh, critical, brash.  Even in scenarios where I began just wanting to communicate my feelings to friends and loved ones, I would get overly sensitive.  I wanted to win.  My intent started pure, always, but I was taking God off of the throne and putting myself there instead.  I was Master of my own, with pawns at my disposal.  This was my sin.  My attitude caused a rift in relationships.  I was spikey, uncouth, ungracious, and provoking. Known as passionate, but a hot head in political issues and sensitive in forms of communication.

About as comforting as cuddling a porcupine.

What is so sad to me, is that I now realize, that though my passion began with fiery fervor for truth, sadly became about me and not about Christ. I was prideful.  He humbled me.

God cannot receive glory when I get in the way.  I was in the way.  In a BIG way.  Thankfully, albeit, painfully, He took me out of the way.  I want Him to receive the glory.  It is HIS truth that matters, NOT mine.  It matters NOT what I think, only what He thinks.  I must remember:

Philippians 2:3-7

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition of vain conceit, but consider others better than yourselves.  You should not look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but rather made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant”

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