Tag Archive: culture


Too often we get so wrapped up in our own importance we forget that we are not the solution. My knowledge, my strength, my culture, or my will power is not enough for myself let alone anyone else. “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Luke 2:16-17) Christ lived among the sick, he walked beside them, reaching out to them at their level. We can learn a lot from his approach and how he loved his neighbors.

Too often we in the church think we are the solution and forget that Christ is the solution. He is the reason why we do the things we do. We serve not because it earns merit or favor but because he served us first when we didn’t deserve it, when we were sick. We serve not to be cured but because we are cured. God has been reminding me of this over and over again the last few months, from the video above, a buddies sermon, friends, my kids, and through the people I have the privilege of serving at work. Christ came, died, was resurrected, and will return, not for the righteous but for those who are sick. Stop trying to be the cure and start offering the one true cure.

around the hospital Nov 3

Will you offer the one real cure to those around you who are sick?

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Lions’ Park Okotoks after the Sheep River peaked.

Southern Alberta is under water! 100 000 Calgarians displaced, High River is completely evacuated, and Canmore is being washed off the mountain! At work we are participating in a one year program with Alberta Health Services called In Roads which looks at addiction. This week we looked at resiliency which seems timely as Alberta has become, as in all disasters, a case study of this. The way people pull together is amazing and fascinating to watch. Two people who can’t stand each other now stand side by side to protect and save others. In this dark and broken world there are glimpses of light.

Prayer

In times like this people tend to post prayers for the disaster to stop or that prayer is a useless waste of time. Prayer is more than a petition for what we want, and it is more than something meaningless. Yes, we must pray for the miracle that the brokenness will cease, for the darkness to end, and that people will remain safe. Know that God can do those things and on the day of his return it will be once and for all, but also following Christ’s example we are to pray for strength and courage to get through. Pray that despite the horror of the situation the Father’s will may shine through.

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Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 Matthew 6:9-10
 
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St. Peter’s Anglican Church Okotoks

Reality Check

The more we try to control our environment the more we fight to keep it under control. The Tower of Babel comes to mind and the reality that no matter what we build we are not the creator of all things. We are mere caretakers of this world and are not able to set the rules. We build walls yet are unable to stop the forces at work in our world. We are utterly dependent on God. I am reminded of the dependency on His provision that I felt living overseas. No matter where is the world we are, what we have, or how strong we are our efforts are not enough. The Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in High River yet the flow of the river can not be stopped or controlled.

Next Steps

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:15-19 ESV

For those not affected by the flood we must rise to lend a hand. In this time of human suffering we must unite together and support our fellow man, despite race, culture, or creed. We must not forget that once the flood waters recede and return to their former paths that there is still work to be done. Lives have been changed on every level, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. We must support one another because that is the way God has designed us, together with His strength and work we can triumph over the darkness. We must show love!

As the sun sets on this day my prayer is that tomorrow may bring a new found peace, a new found joy, and a new understanding. May our lives be transformed by the creator of the universe, the redeemer of man.

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The Sheep River at sunset

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
Psalms 69:1-3, 14-16, 29-36 ESV

Erwin McManus is a name I recognize as an influential speaker in the Evangelical church, however until this last week I have not really read or heard any of his work. It started with the sermon he gave at Centre Street Church (watch here) and then I watched his documentary Crave Calgary. After listening and watching I was left with a few questions and a little disappointed. I don’t want to assume that what I heard and saw was intentionally selling the Gospel short nor do I believe that McManus intended for it to be sold short. Too often today we take sound bits of people out of context and say they believe something that they don’t actually believe. I would love to sit down with a venti 1/2 sweet stirred white mocha, ask him to clear up some points and thank him for others.

Where is scripture? At some point you must cross over into Christian language. Scripture is the Word of God and as a believer or someone looking into why not go to the source instead of someone else’s paraphrase of scripture.  Present a scripture without the reference you would be amazed at how people agree with it even if they are resistant or hostile to anything God related.

The video does not seem to offer answers to the misconceptions and ideas that go against scripture. I will give it the assumption that the documentary has been designed to open the discussion however the website questions don’t go much deeper. In the book’s introduction he says “Jesus once said the kingdom of God is within us. Yet most of us even bother to explore the possibility that this might be true. It seems that what he is implying that it is that we have a better chance finding God in the universe within us than the one that surrounds us.” He was referencing Luke 17.21 which feels horribly out of context and the reference is not given. Matthew Henry describes “that the kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual kingdom,and not temporal and external”(1) . The Reformation Study Bible also points to this idea saying “the kingdom of God is within you. That is, the kingdom is present as an inner reality, something hidden in people’s hearts (cf. Rom. 14:17). Translating “in your midst” (text note) would point to the presence of the kingdom in the person of Jesus” (2). McManus’ line of thinking seems to open a door to thinking that I have the power with in me to overcome my issues. How would he defend from this?

~
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “ Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst [Or within you].”
~
The documentary is also very me-centered instead of Christ-centered. The views shown are grounded in what the culture is seeking around us and even though it points towards God it falls short in delivering the Gospel truth that it is more about God’s glory than us. It leaves the Gospel on the ground and runs the risk of being idolatry as “it is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself” (3). This seems to undermine who God is and merely looks toward what he can offer me. This is the negative side of the seeker sensitive movement. Again I would like to ask about when do you go deeper than what God can offer? Is that even a good place to start since that encourages the consumer mentality we already have?

With the concerns explained I would move on to something I truly appreciate and think too often we get caught up in. The video can be viewed for  free online with the option to buy physical copies of the documentary (the books and study must be purchased as well). Gospel for Asia does the same thing but with all their material including books. That is something that I have come to have great respect for. If you claim to have insight about God it is because he revealed it to you and is for everyone not just for you to make money off of. I think this falls into the category of failing to love your brother (1 John 4.20) or as Paul says “What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel…I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9.18 &23). Videos today tend to be primers or marketing tools for something else like a book or a study. However they also open doors to reach out to people who typically would not have the desire to engage in these types of conversations. I am thankful that there are people like McManus willing to push our typical ideas of church and culture to reach the lost with the Gospel.

Finally I would follow-up on the first question. He may not go as deep into the scripture as I feel is appropriate, but something that McManus does do is open dialogue about the idea that we need to learn to connect the language within the church with the language of the culture around us. He affirms the need for special language in his April 29, 2012 sermon at Centre Street Church but says we need to do a better job being able to bridge the language of everyday and with in the church. This is something so simple yet we fail so badly at it. Fields of science have their own terms, Religions have their own terms, kids have their own terms. When someone enters one of these new areas they need to learn all the special terms. Acronyms must be explained, concepts broken down into their simplest form. When we do this we become less accurate with their meaning however over time the knowledge to understand them more accurately grows. With that I would finish my white mocha, thank him for taking the time to have coffee with me, and go our separate ways.

In all reality if I had a chance to have this conversation I probably wouldn’t be able to ask any of these things and more likely would just sit and listen.

Footnotes

1) Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Lk 17:20). Peabody: Hendrickson.

2) Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation study Bible, the : Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version. Includes index. (Lk 17:21). Nashville: T. Nelson.

3) Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel, page40

4) Picture of DA Carson quote from The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

After turning the spotlight on my brothers and sisters in the SBC a couple posts ago, Where did it first go wrong?, I think it is only fair to delve into a hot issue in the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) in Canada. This last week was the General Assembly in Winnipeg and one topic was should women be ordained? Here is a short 8 minute video that explains the C&MA view of ordination and women and where the stood heading into the General Assembly:

Ordination 5 from C&MA in Canada on Vimeo.

What do I think and how does this affect you?

Looking at scripture there are many places women take on leadership, both in the old testament and the new testament. However, I do think there are also clear examples of males being the senior leadership of the body as well as created differences in our roles as males and females. This is not to say all males should be leaders and all females should be followers or that one is superior to the other. I know many women with strong gifts of leadership. Is it right for a person with a gift from God to let it go to waste? Does God give gifts that are not meant to be used? The answer is no, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1.17). I must admit that I do not have a fully developed point of view on this, but it will probably be coming up on the radar more often in the near future. One fear and reservation I have in saying yes is the same one raised about the SBC, are we attempting to submit to culture versus the Word? So…

What do you think, is the C&MA on a slippery slope and trying to meet cultural pressure?

As I started out on this discipleship journey of posts I thought it would be quick. God had a different idea and led me down a path that took a little more time. I have had the chance to listen to several great podcasts, read a couple of books on discipleship, and spent time with seasoned friends learning more about the importance of being a disciple. Several of my posts over the last few months touched on this topic, but this post is a continuation of True Discipleship – Part 1 .

How do we get from a church full of infants to having a church filled with people digging deep into the Word and discovering who Christ is and who they are? How do we become true disciples, someone becoming more like Christ? What does true discipleship even look like?

Three Options for Discipleship

In Larry Olson’s book Sticky Church he states that there are 3 kinds of discipleship models. There is a mentoring model, an education model, and an apprenticeship model. Mentoring is one on one and relational. It is best over time and is not effective in a fast paced changing environment. Education is long-term and requires a large commitment. It works best with linear goal-orientated personalities and is highly structured. Apprenticeship lets people do a task and be the leader is there to help them pick up the pieces. The nature and dynamics of life demands that we really need to use a combination of the three as they all have strong advantages but fall short in other areas. For example, I love going to school and loved learning about the history, traditions, and methods of the church. Yet when I started applying the things I learned they always needed tweaking to fit the ministry of where I was at. At this point the apprenticeship model kicked in and a seasoned leader was able to help guide me through the issues in a way that stayed true to biblical principles and was able to respond to the human factor of the situation. The mentoring model is also part of my life and it keeps me in check with my motives and my own issues. These three discipleship models when in sync with each other can propel us to grow deep and stretch us in growing wide.

Building a Church Culture of Discipleship

Discipleship requires commitment from both the disciple and from the mentor. This means we must be intentional and open about how we disciple. The C&MA has put together a few examples of different discipleship plans by its member churches called Discipleship Pathways. If we want to get out of the pastor-do culture that is prevalent in the North American church today we must present and implement an alternative culture. A culture that raises Christian adults, mature followers of Christ, true disciples. As Paul says in Hebrews 5.14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” If we desire to grow deep we must allow ourselves to be held accountable and learn the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

Held Accountable

My wife and I love giving our kids gifts, but we also love watching them grow as they become caring, compassionate, and God centered. This is not developed by simple showering them with gifts, but also, when needed, to give correction and discipline. Too often in the church today we resist giving and receiving discipline. The Father loves giving good gifts (Matthew 7), but He also disciplines out of love so that we can grow and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12). In a blog post by Jared Wilson, he says “In discipling relationships, we are always disciplining one another, not chiefly or only in the fight against sin but largely in our encouragement of each other, edifying one another, teaching one another, and sharing one another’s burdens. In short, disciples know each other. And so Matthew 18:15 might be happening all the time, perhaps weekly within loving relationships where there is no imminent danger of somebody being kicked out of the church but rather a constant iron sharpening of iron” (5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird). To be discipled we must allow others to call us on our sin so we are held accountable for what we do, otherwise we will stay as infants and our paths will remain crooked and broken.

Why?

Discipleship gives us the tools and skills to take the Gospel out into the world. As we go we will be able to share His great name. Faith in Christ is not meant to be kept to ourselves, but shared with fellow believers and shared with non-believers as a testimony of God’s glory. Why do we attend church? Why do we go to small groups? Why do we serve the poor? Evangelism and discipleship are not the same thing however they do work intertwined with each other. “If you think your heart is growing in love for God, but your heart is not growing in love for lost people, you  are deceived.” (Chip Ingram- High Impact Church Law 8).

Are you being discipled?

Here are a few resources I found:

 How to Build a High Impact Church – Chip Ingram

 & the post 5 Ways to Keep Church Discipline from Seeming Weird

 C&MA Discipleship Pathways & Southview Alliance’s Aspen Strategy

via wikipedia.org

Maybe it is just me but over the last few years it seems like “today’s idols” has become a bit a trend topic. This discussion typically looks at the trends of culture and what pulls us away from God outside the church, but what about inside the church? What about the programs? Or even philosophies of ministry? Could something intended to bring us closer to God really be a distraction or even replace God?

Idolatry – noun, plural-tries
1. the worship of idols
2. excessive admiration

One area that I have been pondering about has taken on many forms and has been used in many different ways. It plays an important and vital role within the church however at times it has become an idol. We become obsessed with it and lose sight of God.

Could evangelism be given excessive admiration in the church today?

The Christian section at Chapters is filled with books that fall under the category Walter Kaiser Jr. calls “recovery & pop-psychology”.

There are several ways the evangelical church today typically measures the fruitfulness of a ministry. In regards to evangelism numbers tends to be the stick used. Numbers are quickly used to justify or cancel a certain ministry. Being “seeker sensitive”, preaching the health wealth & prosperity gospel , or making church into a rock concert have all proven themselves as great ways to have skyrocketing numbers. I have seen a church let a pastor go because the church was not showing a growth in numbers. Increasing numbers are seen as healthy and fruitful. Walter Kaiser Jr. warns us that “pastors have decided that using the Bible is a handicap for meeting the needs of the boomer and “X” generations; therefore they have gone to drawing their sermons from the plethora of recovery and pop-psychology books that fill our Christian bookstores. The market-forces demand that we give them what they want to hear if we wish them to return and pay for the mega-sanctuaries that we have built. Scripture, therefore, is lost in the shuffle for relevancy and “meeting needs.”(www.preaching.com). When preaching the Word of God doesn’t draw a crowd we look to be more relevant and culturally sensitive. Churches use evangelism as the driving force behind what they do. Is this what we are called to focus on as a church?

Paul was an evangelist. As one reads his letters you cannot help but see he had a heart to reach out into the darkness.  As he evangelized Paul also discipled those that believed. For the economy in Ephesus to change (Acts 19.21-41), the church must have been living lifestyles that were radically different from how they lived before converting to Christianity (Tim Keller – The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry). Changed lifestyles are not something that happens at the time of conversion, but is part of the process of being sanctified as we work out our salvation (Philippians 2.12). We change as we are drawn closer to the Father and this in turn leads to people noticing that something is different. In Ephesus it resulted in a riot, but Christ warned that people would be offended. It also set the Christian community apart from the rest of the community and that would have given them opportunities to show who God is and why they no longer worship false gods. Healthy discipleship led to the changes, while evangelism opened doors.

You must also look at the question “are numbers count a true sign of success?” Numbers are mentioned in the Bible and how the early church grew, but we also see that true fruit is measured by less tangible things. Galatians 5.22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. These are the things that show true belief and true transformation. Numbers are not bad and we should seek to spread the Gospel which will increase numbers, however, numbers that do not show true fruit are no numbers at all. Numbers and programs that are aimed at attracting numbers with no method of discipleship is  idolatry as they give the desire for numbers “excessive admiration”. The great commission calls us to make disciples not merely converts. David Platt reminds us in Radical Together we must remember that “the blessing of God does not mean acceptance by the world” (pg. 53).

This means that we must ask the question what is discipleship?

Dig a little deeper into this conversation by checking out this 8 min video from The Gospel Coalition that looks at quantity verses quality.

Tis the season for the school Christmas concerts and this week was full of them. The public system is not known for its ability to really capture the true meaning of the season however I feel that the school my girls go to did make a step in the right direction. They had the typical “I love Santa” songs but they also had one song called Together We Can Change the World. The song is a starting point to show how and why as Christians we need to be working to change the world. With all the things that are broken in our world God has paved a path of restoration.

 
I believe it’s not too late
Together we can change the world
Lay the puzzle pieces out
Find out what it’s all about
Together we can change the world
 

The body of believers is called to come together as we hold the puzzle pieces. Putting them together we see a picture of God’s love. A love that takes the responsibility to restore what once was lost. Through out the Old Testament we see God not man taken on the redemptive plan. God provided the ram for Abraham, God passed between the animal halves taking on the full responsibility of the covenant, God stepped down into this world to crush the head of the serpent. Our role as a believer is to reach out to the widows, orphans, and poor, to defend them and protect them. It is our role to declare His role and to become a servant just as Christ is a servant to us.

 
Can’t do it by myself
So I’m asking for your help
Together we can change the world
 

Alone we are not able to accomplish very much. Together we accomplish menial tasks that might look good to the world, but they lack any eternal effects. With God, together we can can accomplish great things that change things now and for eternity. Bread alone does not sustain us but every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (see Deuteronomy 8.3 and Matthew 4.4). Christ alone, the great shepherd, paved the path we are simply on it.

Together we can change the world, but we must join Christ as He does it.

My thoughts are in Italics while the article is in standard font.

A new Barna Group study illustrates that no single Christian leader captures the attention of the nation’s population. When asked to identify the single most influential Christian leader in the U.S. today, two out of every five Americans (41%) are unable to think of anyone who would meet that description.

This raises the question who is leading the nation?  

Some differences emerged in a review of the findings by faith segments and by age of respondent as noted below:

  • Evangelical Christians are more likely than average to name Billy Graham (35%), Joyce Meyer (12%) and Franklin Graham (5%) as the most influential Christian leaders in the U.S. today. No evangelicals consider Pope Benedict, President Barack Obama, George W. Bush, T.D. Jakes, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, or Charles Stanley to hold this role.
  • A majority of adults who are atheists and agnostics (65%) or of a non-Christian faith (52%) are unable to think of anyone they would name as an influential Christian leader.
  • Those of another, non-Christian faith are more inclined to name Charles Stanley (7%), George W. Bush (4%), or Oprah Winfrey (4%) as the most significant Christian leader.
  • Protestants are more likely than average to name Billy Graham as the most significant leader (31%), while Catholics are just as likely to name the Pope (32%).
  • Elders, ages 66 and older (31%), and Boomers, ages 47 to 65 (27%) are more inclined to name Billy Graham as the most influential leader, while younger adults – Busters 28 to 46 (12%) and Mosaics 18 to 27 (4%) – are far less likely to do so.

Today we follow movements not people, the emergent movement, the green movement, etc. These movements have key people at the forefront however those people are simply leading the charge. Is this wrong? Perhaps not but within the church it leaves room for heresy to arise and go left unchecked. Peter, Paul, and the other apostles led the early church and confronted heresy as it arose as we can see in the epistles. There was a movement was Christianity that was led by a select group, the Apostles. This group was called to disciple others and to correct misconceptions of who Christ is. When questioned Paul called on his authority not because he took it but because it was placed on him by God (Galatians 1.1-2). See also Paul’s defense of his ministry in 2 Corinthians 10-11. God appoints certain individuals to lead his people and scripture gives guidelines for what that looks like.

Although most Americans can name someone they consider to be a highly influential Christian leader, few leaders have made such an impression on the population. “Looking at the big picture, only a limited number of individuals come to mind when Americans consider leadership of Christians on a national scale,” remarked Hanacek. “However, bear in mind that a different type of measurement such as aided awareness, in which respondents are asked if they ever heard of a specific name, may have yielded different results.”

In the end this information is useless unless we can point to Christ in some way and I don’t think you can draw clear conclusions from this study, but it could be a useful tool when looked at with other information of the church today. Is our nation’s spiritual health good or bad? Are we following God or ourselves? Who are you being influenced by and where does their authority come from?

Source page – The Barna Group – Nov 21 2011

Saw this post the other day, it is a pretty interesting video about the spread of God’s word. The first 10 minutes of the talk gives a brief religious history of China before Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. The rest of the video is about how Chinese characters have the stories of the Old Testament in them. I watched a BBC documentary a few years ago that also looked at how Christian artifacts can be found in China a few centuries after its rise in Rome. It is neat to see God’s work in places that until recently we had no idea he was even working. Our God is a God of all nations as stated in Genesis 12.3. Below is the post by Awake My Soul:

My God is the God of the Chinese people.

October 31st, 2011 § 2 Comments

WOW.I grew up believing that Christianity was a western faith. A faith that belonged to people such as Barack Obama or George W Bush. A faith that didn’t have anything to do with my Chinese background and roots. Tonight, God woke me up suddenly to speak to me about this after a passion to reach out to my Hainanese-speaking Grandma was re-ignited.How can we give excuses now? God has been trying to speak to us ever since we could write our first Chinese words. The Bible is literally in our Chinese words. Now I can stand proud that I am Chinese and tell people about Shang Di. The One and Most High God. Hallelujah!!

On my extra day off this weekend I found time to once again peruse through a few random blogs. I came a cross a post that looked at a disturbing issue within a church in London England. The post was titled Prayer Costs Lives and I don’t agree with the conclusion but I do believe it brings some important points to the table. From the BBC article that led to the blog post I agree with Lord Fowler, the former health minister, that “It’s just wrong, bad advice that should be confronted…”

Free thinking for Dummies points out faith that God will heal you by some miracle and that there is no need for human intervention is not the wisest course of action. Nor is this idea found in scripture. Healing’s in the Bible are seen not as instruction, but show men, women, and children left with no hope in the ways of man and turning to God the creator of the universe.

“People like to say that god answers every prayer, but sometimes the answer is ‘no'”. The fact is sometimes the best answer is no even if pain is still involved. I do not let my children have everything they want. My 3-year-old is fascinated with the oven, but do I let her touch it just because she is screaming as I hold her back from it? My seven-year old loves to eat candy and would only eat candy if we allowed her. Does that mean we should only feed her candy? We have laws to give structure and order because they do not happen on their own. We must remember that God’s perspective is far different from our own. We see God as being unjust as the three-year old trying to touch the hot oven because we are unable to see the entire picture.

“What kind of loving, merciful god would let someone die in agony when they had abandoned worldly treatments of their illness and put their faith in him?” – These people have been given false hope by false teachers. To have faith in the Creator means you also have faith in the order of the creation. God has designed our world in such a way that we can create medicines, read weather patterns, and develop technology that helps to correct the brokenness of our world, but that does not mean we can completely correct it. The issue is not how can God allow this, but to understand that through our pride and arrogance we think that we are not at fault. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that includes every Christian. If we took 1% of the 460 billion dollars spent on Christmas gifts every year we could provide clean water for all of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka (Source:  Forgotten Christmas) which would save millions of lives. Is that God’s fault that mankind cares more for their own wants than the basic needs of others?

The BBC article talks about an off shoot church that has found its popularity in marketing false hope in curing HIV. Here is what the BBC reports about the church “AHPN said it believed the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), which has UK headquarters in Southwark, south London, may be one of those involved in such practices. The church is headed by Pastor T B Joshua, Nigeria’s third richest clergyman, according to a recent Forbes richlist. When approached by BBC London, leaders of the church described themselves as Evangelical Christian pastors. The church’s website, which was set up in Lagos, Nigeria, shows photos of people the church claims have been “cured” of HIV through prayer.” This does not sound like a man representing God but his own pocket-book. Compare this to 1 Peter 5.1-4. According to SCOAN’s website, by using anointing water “you are positioned for healing”. Healing’s in the Bible were not because people were “positioned for healing” in some superstitious ceremony, but showed that God is the one in control of creation despite man. This article is an example of profit at the cost of souls and Mr. Joshua will have to answer for his teachings just like anyone in authority. Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble (Luke 17.2-3 & see also 1 Timothy 1.3-11). Just because they claim to be Christian in their name does not mean that they represent Christ. What this article shows is that humans are sick, selfish, uncaring, unjust, unloving, and the list goes on. What this does prove is that we can’t do it without a good, caring, loving, merciful, just God who is willing to come down to us to fix our brokenness which is what he started in Jesus Christ and will complete when he returns.

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