Monthly Archives: September 2015

No More Christmas Stamps, really?


Today, I am reposting an email from Jim Denison. I guess we can’t even buy a baby Jesus stamp this year for fear of offending the few who want the day off, just not the meaning of it.

While the government in no means should be a particular religious promoter, surely they can sell stamps with pictures on it? Everyone is so afraid of the small percentage of squeaky wheels out there, that we would rather not deal with it then just say, “if you don’t like them then don’t buy them.”

I am amazed that Christianity continues to be the target of so many social status groups out there. Jesus was right when He said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” This shouldn’t surprise us.

I just thought we could still buy a baby Jesus stamp, now I will have to buy a Santa Claus stamp instead. Maybe Santa ought to be considered on the hit list too, since he is a religion all by himself. Please read the post.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2015
“We’re seeing more and more, a government that is silencing and censoring of religious views, of religious beliefs and of religious symbols.” So states Mark Sharp, legal counsel for the Alliance for Defense of Freedom, responding to the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement that it will offer no new religiously themed holiday stamps this year. In Sharp’s view, this is “part of the effort to completely drive religion out of the public square.”

If you’re looking for bad news in the news, you don’t have to look far. California lawmakers have approved legislation permitting euthanasia in their state. The heroin epidemic continues to spread across the nation. The scourge of pornography is growing, especially among children.

It is easy for Christians to be discouraged by the trajectory of our culture. But God is working in surprising ways today.

For instance, Muslim refugees in Berlinare converting to Christianity in remarkable numbers. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article titled “Why We Need to Resurrect Our Souls.” The Atlantic (not typically a defender of orthodox Christianity) carried a fascinating essay titled “The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication.” We often hear that millennials are leaving the church, but a recent study shows that more traditional or liturgical services have great appeal for young people seeking depth and significance.

None of these stories made front-page news. If we base today’s hope on today’s headlines, we’ll usually be disappointed. But it has always been so. Henri Nouwen: “Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures.

“But Jesus doesn’t support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world’s problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.”

How do we “remain faithful at any cost”?

In Joe Biden’s recent interview with Stephen Colbert, the vice president was transparent about his grief following the death of his son Beau. He said that he and his wife have taped a Kierkegaard quote to the mirror: “Faith sees best in the dark.”

Here’s the larger context from Kierkegaard’s The Gospel of Sufferings: “The believer humanly comprehends how heavy the suffering is, but in faith’s wonder that it is beneficial to him, he devoutly says: It is light. Humanly he says: It is impossible, but he says it again in faith’s wonder that what he humanly cannot understand is beneficial to him [his emphasis]. In other words, when sagacity [worldly wisdom] is able to perceive the beneficialness, then faith cannot see God; but when in the dark night of suffering sagacity cannot see a handbreadth ahead of it, then faith can see God, since faith sees best in the dark.”

To paraphrase: when we understand God’s ways, faith is easy. When we do not, faith is essential.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Seven Reasons Why We Should Not Abandon the Term “Church Member”

Today’s Post comes from Thom Rainer’s Blog

Two years ago I released a book called I Am a Church Member. I’ve been blown away with the response; sales are about to reach one million books. One of the more frequent question readers have asked me is: “Do you think the term ‘church member’ is still relevant?”

My simple response is, “Yes I do.” In fact, I have seven reasons why I emphatically believe churches should never let go of this descriptor.

  1. It is biblical. One of the best descriptions of church membership is in 1 Corinthians 12. The Apostle Paul specifically uses the term “member” at several points in the chapter. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12: 27, he says: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.”
  2. It is a perfect metaphor for belonging. Read the same chapter, specifically verses 15 to 20. Look how many times Paul uses the word “belong.” To be a member of the body of Christ, the church, is to belong to an incredible gift given to us by God.
  3. It is a perfect metaphor for contributing. As Paul describes the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, he highlights the diversity of gifts of the members, and emphasizes the absolute mandate for every member to function and contribute. There is no place in the church for non-contributing members.
  4. It is a perfect metaphor for caring. Because church members all belong to the same body, they are motivated and mandated to care for one another. Paul states this truth clearly: “So there would be no division in the body, but the members would have the same concern for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:25).
  5. It is a perfect metaphor for unity. Church members are members of something greater than themselves, the body of Christ. Once again, we are reminded of this truth in 1 Corinthians 12:27: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it (emphasis added).
  6. It is commonly understood by most people. Some churches use terms other than church member to describe those affiliated with their congregation. My purpose in writing this article is not to disparage them, but to advocate for a term that is both biblical and clear. Most people do indeed understand the basic meaning of church member.
  7. It does not yield to culture. We have abandoned too many things in our churches in order to accommodate culture. While we recognize that some people will think of membership in the sense of country club membership, we in the church need to reclaim its biblical intent. Church membership does not mean we get perks and privileges because we “pay our dues.” It means we give, sacrifice, and serve.

The essence of church membership is the sense of belonging to something so much greater than any one of us individually. We are thus motivated to give, serve, love, and care. The biblical understanding of church membership is an incredible concept. It is not a term we should abandon. Let me know what you think.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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