Church Family Acquaintances, part 1

Richard Beck, a professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University, offered some interesting and personally challenging insights about online social networking in a recent blog article. You can read his article by clicking here (warning: some of you may find the article dangerously boring…but I am a nerd, so I enjoyed it).

To sum up, the subject Beck was addressing was the impact of Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media on social activism. In other words, does Twitter help organize efforts to feed the poor and correct other social injustices, or does it only serve as an outlet to vent frustrations over injustices without providing the connections and motivations necessary to fuel the real, difficult work of actually feeding the poor? Will Twitter move people to work on the problems, or just talk about them? Continue reading

Advice to Christians Concerning Religious Freedom

Obama re-centered himself in the conservative political cross-hairs recently when he seemed to make statements supporting the building of a mosque near Ground Zero (not at Ground Zero, as the media consistently implies). At the same time, New York (among other regions) also faces a debate over how public schools ought to handle religious holidays, especially Muslim holidays in increasingly Muslim communities.

I have no desire to get caught up in any of these debates. I certainly have some (often shaky and inconsistent) opinions, but they are opinions. Instead, I would like to offer some biblical advice for properly responding to these prickly issues.

1) DEMOCRACY IS AN IMPERFECT, HUMAN INSTITUTION
If nothing else, I hope these controversies highlight the weaknesses of democracy, an institution that has been deified all too often. Continue reading

Love on a Leash

Imagine a world between Heaven and Hell where glorious, heavenly, eternal beings attempt to convince opaque, weak, near-sighted ghosts that they need to let go, admit their guilt, and give up their false-hopes and false-loves in order to become solid, real, and joyful. This is the allegorical world of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.

One scene in the book was especially difficult, but also very impacting. A pair of ghosts appear, an ugly dwarf dragging a tall, thin man along by a chain. The unlikely duo are met by an incredibly beautiful woman who knows them, but who has discovered true life in God, and has become real and solid.

As she approaches it is the tall ghost that speaks, but it is the dwarf that the woman looks at and addresses. Continue reading

The Heart of the Gospel, part 2

So, salvation by faith is a wonderfully free gift from God that we cannot earn. It is not based on how well we keep or understand God’s laws, but on our desire to serve Him, and our trust in His ability. “God looks on the heart,” just as He told Samuel thousands of years ago.

It would still be nice to have that list, to know exactly what I need to do to be saved. Actually, when wanting a list it is more likely that what I am really looking for is how little I can do to be saved. That’s probably one major reason that a list is not the point.

However, Jesus spoke to us regarding salvation on a human, list-seeking, law-keeping level. He gave us a list. Continue reading