Monday, April 6, 2009


I don't know what makes a person sleep better one night and then not the next. I will be the first to admit that I'm not smart enough to know anything about the brain. I guess you could say that you wouldn't want me to be wielding a knife as you slip into a drug induced sleep as you prepare for brain surgery. But, I still wonder why this is.

Yesterday, after church and after snarfing down a quick lunch from Arby's and after setting up the Celebration Center and after getting mad at my wife, then getting over it, then directing an hour and a half orchestra rehearsal, then after striking all of the stuff that I had just set up, then wielding questions from the orchestra members, then going home, then eating dinner, then watching TV I had a good night's sleep. Maybe I was just exhausted.

My wife had a migraine, which she says she hasn't had one like this since she was in middle school, so we went to bed at 9:00. I read for a bit, of course. I am reading "The Kingdom Focused Church." I'm not sure about the book. It was recommended to me. I read a paragraph that I can only paraphrase because I don't have the book in front of me. It said: we have to tell people that Christ died for them so that they don't get sucked into New Age religion or Islam or Mormonism or other false religions. What?!

First of all, how do you define "false religion?" Although I do believe in Christianity, I also believe that there is merit in questioning your faith. After all, if you don't question, how do you learn? Secondly, who ever said that Mormonism and Islam are two "false" religions. I don't know much about either, but I do believe that Mormons still believe in God and Jesus, just through a different pathway. How is that false?

Second...well, as I sit and think, I don't have a second point. I was taken off guard by this statement in the book. Can't people believe in what they want? I know that part of the Christian faith is evangelizing. I think it says that many times in the Acts and the letters of Paul. But when did it ever come to the point that we should evangelize because we believe that all other people who aren't Christians will "fall away from the the fold" if we don't strike them over the head with holy water and pronounce them "saved?"

I don't believe in being saved. What are you being saved from? The big, black, dark pit of despair that God will send you to after you've done wrong? I don't believe that God created such a pit, since God is all about love and compassion. God IS love. God is good. Plus, how is that supposed to change you? you believe in a God, so life is great and peachy. Here's your certificate of savedness.

A history (not a philosophy or religion) teacher I had in college said, "God is wanting you to love him. God is wanting you to follow the 11th commandment that Jesus laid down at the last supper: Love one another." I'm not sure, but I don't think it says anywhere that we are supposed to toil and, because of working for God, hit rock bottom just to get into Heaven.

I digress, of course, because I'm talking about renewal. The pastor at my church has been doing a sermon series all through Lent using the word "new:" New Name when speaking about Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai), New Covenant when talking about the promises God has made through Noah and the flood, etc. He has been saying that Lent is a time of renewal...a time to quiet our "insides" and be with God. A time to follow the journey of Lent and end up with Jesus on the cross, being killed by Rome so that he could rise again and we can have renewed life.

Iowa, yes the state, is entering a period of renewal. The Supreme Court just passed a law stating that same sex couples can be married in Iowa. I read about it on the internet since I wasn't around a TV to watch it. I did watch the news when I got home. There were people crying because they had waited a long time to get married and have the same rights as straight people and there were people crying because it is against the laws of God to have same sex couples.

This makes me ill, to watch people use the name of God to say that others are bad for living the lives that they were born to live. Disagree with me if you must, but I don't understand how a pastor, on the television, on the news, where thousands of people can see him can say that God will strike the people down responsible for this travesty. I don't understand.

But it seems that in this state, we are renewing our laws and definitions of what marriage is. I applaud the state for being so bold. I applaud the state for giving same sex couples who love each other the option to have the same rights as straight couples. I think it's a renewed day in the state of Iowa.

I like having a period of renewal, whether it's because of a good night's sleep or because of the decisions of other people affecting your life. Renewal refreshes us and leads us to clearer thinking and working. I hope that you all find renewal soon.

1 comment:

  1. I’m glad you got a good night’s sleep. Nobody has been sleeping well at our house lately. I’m not sure why – maybe I’ll blame it on the weather.

    Since I’m one of the few people who read your blog so far and I’m the one who recommended this book, I’m assuming that you want a response from me. Of course, I could be wrong, because yes, I do know what they say about assuming. But just in case, here ya go…

    About the book – I recommended it simply because it is one person’s theory on how a church can be structured to most effectively serve God and people. It’s been a few years since I read it, and as I’m sure you would guess, I sped through it and probably didn’t comprehend or retain as much as Mark did then or as much as you are now. The book did really speak to my heart, but my intention in suggesting it to you was solely based on your current interest in church organization.

    About Iowa and gay marriage – I realize this one may not have been directed at me, but to the blogosphere in general. Still, I just wanted to say that the actions of some Christians make me sick, too. Watching so-called Christians protest and spew hatred – no matter what the issue of the day – makes me mad, sad and disappointed all at the same time. Mad that they would dare judge people in the name of God, sad that they are missing the point of the beliefs they claim to hold, and disappointed that people continue to give Christians a bad name by judging and hating others, especially in such a public forum.

    I actually just saw something last week that is similar. Apparently, there was a big Christian concert that some people protested (because rock and roll is the devil’s music, you know). One of the musicians put together a heartbreaking video of the main protester while playing “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” And of course his point was no, no they won’t. Not when they see and hear things like that. The link is if you want to check it out.

    About other religions – Jesus says in John 14:6: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” What that means to me – and to most Christians, if you believe their church doctrine – is that the only way to get into heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God. This is backed up by several passages in the Bible, including Romans 10:9 (If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.) and Romans 10:13 (Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.).

    I’m not an expert on other religions by any means, but I have done some studying. And I’m pretty sure that Muslims don’t believe that Jesus is Lord. I don’t know enough about Mormons. What I have learned has only left me more confused, so on that one, I’m just glad it’s not my place to make that call. I would never say that I think Mormons are going to hell. Because again, it’s not my call and I just don’t know.

    Oh, also, you talked about questioning your faith. I absolutely believe that you should question what you believe. If you don’t know why you believe what you believe, then you’ll never stand firm in those beliefs. Although at least for me, I’ve found that the more I question and study and learn and pray and reflect, the more questions I have. But at the same time – no matter how contradictory this sounds – it’s also left me with a stronger faith than before.

    I figure God is big enough to handle my questions.

    About your comment about being saved – The thing is, if you don’t believe in being saved, you’re disagreeing with Jesus. He says in Mark 16:15-16, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” And in John 10:9, he says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” And of course there’s the whole Pentecost episode described in Acts, where thousands were saved.

    Like it or not, the Bible is clear that there is a heaven and a hell. Because like it or not (and I personally have a hard time remembering this and when I remember it, dealing with it), God is both merciful and just. And that justice means that only those who are forgiven can live forever in heaven with Him.

    And last, as for toiling until we hit rock bottom, I’m not sure where that came from. But of course God doesn’t want us to work ourselves to death. And as I mentioned before, Anne Jackson’s book is a great one to read on that very topic.

    I’m sure that even if you were hoping or expecting for a response from me, you probably didn’t want this much. But the fact is, you said a lot of things that warranted a response. So there you have it.