The New York City Islamic Center Controversy

I have been following the supposed controversy involving the proposed building of an Islamic Center in New York City near Ground Zero.

When I first heard about this I did not like it one bit, I was against it wholeheartedly. But, now that I have had a few days to contemplate on it and read a little more about it, I am indifferent.

I guess the thing that really bothered me about this whole mess was the thought of building an Islamic Center on the site of where the Towers once stood proudly. However, after reading more about it, the site is actually 2 blocks from where the 9/11 tragedy took place, not on the former World Trade Center site.

The last I checked we still live in a country that provides freedom of religion. That means ALL religions! It is one of the bedrock premises this great country was founded on.
>>read entire post here: www.howilookatit.com

It All Starts With Love!

I am of the opinion that pleasing God starts with Love.

I was reading this passage in Matthew 12:33 “…love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

I am reminded of when Jesus asked Peter, “do you love me?”, and Peter said, “Lord, you know I do!”, “Then feed my sheep!” was Jesus’ reply.

Scripture also says of Love, “If I speak in the tongues of angels, but don’t have love, it’s all in vain”.

My thought is this….If we truly love Him as we should, we won’t have to try to please Him, it will be automatic…almost our second nature, if you will.

If you Love someone, you want to spend time with them, which by the way, is the reason we were created in the first place, so He could spend time with us. And we do that through prayer, and meditation on His word.

If you Love someone, you will make sacrifices for them.

If you Love someone, you will surprise them, take care of them, feed them, clothe them, share with them.

The scripture also states that the world will know us by our ‘love for one another’.

So basically, if we love, we show it. We won’t be able to help it.

via: the refinement blog

When I Have it All Together…..

I’ll be able to do something for God then. Just a few more issues to work out.

How many times have we used that excuse? I know I have used it several times….I have even had people say that about me as well….’you really need to work on this or that and then you can do something’…………..

Does that sound familiar? Have you told yourself that?

My friend….we are NEVER going to have it all together. Let’s face it. Our striving for perfection is NOT going to work. Without His grace, forgiveness, and mercy…we are nothing and can do nothing!

We are never going to be good enough, holy enough, or have it all together enough to earn the right to say we have arrived or that we deserve what Christ has done for us.

It is only through His grace, His righteousness that we can accomplish what He has laid for us to do.

If we could only get our head around this and understand that His grace is more than enough to overcome our faults, failures and weaknesses, and that in our weakness He is strong, lifted high and glorified.

It’s not through our works, but His grace. It’s not through our worthiness, but His righteousness. It’s not on our strength, but through His!

Recommended Reading: TrueFaced

Is It Really That Simple?: The Secret to Overcoming Temptation!

via:The Refinement

Ok….so it’s not really a secret….but it might as well be….it seems that we have forgotten the simple truths of God’s word.

I have heard people often say that they don’t know how they can overcome a certain temptation they are facing.

According to scripture the answer is simple and clear.

* Avoid the very appearance of evil / 1 Thessalonians 5:22-24
* Make sure you are spiritually prepared / Ephesians 6:10-12
* Turn your mind/eyes from what is tempting you and put them on Christ
* Don’t be anxious/nervous, pray and walk away / Philippians 4:6-8

Can it really be that simple? In a word…..Yes!

The simplicity of the Gospel amazes and perplexes me at times.

It amazes me how simple the truths/answers are.

It perplexes me why we don’t use them more often.

Who Am I?

I am a flawed man.

Imperfect. Impatient. Most of the time.

Inconsiderate. Unloveable. Jaded. Some of the time.

I am a husband. I am a father. I am a son, a brother, and a friend…all of the time.

I am a Christian. A follower of Christ. A seeker of heavenly things.

I am a human being. Created by God in His image.

I am hopeful. Forgiven. At peace. Comforted.

I am covered by Grace. I am surrendered to Mercy.

I am His son. I am His child.

I am loved!

Be Careful Who You Listen To!

We should heed a lesson from the Bible on being careful who we listen to .
Even those that claim they are defending the faith, if done in the wrong way, or with the wrong heart, can cause more harm than good.

I don’t know about you, but I will tune out the ones who are arguing at the top of their lungs all red faced and finger pointing….even if they are doing it in the blogoshpere!

An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.
A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

Proverbs 29:22-23

Just a thought!

The Most Beautiful Words Ever Spoken!

“Your Sins Are Forgiven”

In my opinion, these are the most beautiful words ever spoken.

I love the story in Luke 7 where the scripture talks of a woman “who had lived a sinful life”, heard where Jesus was, and “she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”

Many around him could not believe that Jesus was allowing this to happen, I mean after all, didn’t he know what sort of woman she was? Didn’t he know she was a sinner of sinners?

I love what he does here…..he turns and looks at the woman and says to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

And now….those beautiful words….

“Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Oh…those glorious beautiful words.

What a beautiful picture of our loving savior and how deep his love is for us, that he, knowing full well what wretched sinners we are…knowing exactly what we have done and what we have become…knowing every dark secret in every hidden space…still looks at us with compassion…and speaks those beautiful words over us….“Your sins are forgiven”!

It doesn’t matter where we are or what we have become, He speaks those words over us when we surrender, humble ourselves to Him and believe.

No longer condemned. No longer an outsider, but an heir, a son, a child of the living Father.

Then Jesus said…“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

What’s Missing From Most Churches Today?

Community, the one thing mostly missing from modern era churches, and the thing most people want most of all.

In today’s media/internet driven, mega church, multi-campus Christianity, community has been lost or long forgotten.

It has been pushed to the background in favor of flashy presentation to suit A.D.D. Christianity.

I have been in conversation as a staff member of a mega church when discussing the problem of people not “sticking”, or as I like to call it, “drive thru” Christianity. We did a good job of getting them in the front door, only to see them go out the back door to the next church or in search of their next experience.

When I read about the New Testament Church, I see a body, or church, that is involved with each other. I see a church that is doing this thing called life “TOGETHER”. They are taking care of one another, loving one another, living in community with each other, deeply relational to one another, knowing each other, encouraging one another.

Isn’t that what we should be about?

Christ knows us individually. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses and loves us still….because Father created us the way we are….and it is through our weaknesses that He is truly shown.

Embracing our diversity, our individuality, leaning on each others strengths, overcoming each others weaknesses, and loving each other unconditionally, will show the world the true nature of Christ.

Loving Unconditionally.

Mercy unending.

Grace abounding.

Peace beyond understanding.

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Because he Shakes, we will not

I am sort of amazed at how two books, one I just finished and the other I am half-way through, have sort of intersected and complimented one another. The first is Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection which I have written about a couple of other times and the second is Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees. These are two of my favorite writers and I rarely have anything but praise for either of them.

Anyhow, as part of my practice to create space to write each day (so that my skills and passion do not fade) I will be reviving a blog habit I started when I wrote for the blog Prophets, Priests and Poets called Thought for the Day. Today’s thought is from Dillard’s book The Maytrees. When I read this paragraph I was struck by the similarities between the way Lou (a female character in the book who has been deserted by her husband Toby) and I seem to have a kindred heart. She has been deserted by her husband Toby and is trying to come to grips with it each day, little by little. I, on the other hand, have been left out to dry by a church and have had to find ways each day to come to grips with that reality.

Here are Lou’s thoughts:

If she, Lou, had known how long her first half-inch beginning to let go would take–and how long her noticing and renouncing owning and her turning her habits, and beginning the slimmest self-mastery whose end was nowhere in sight–would she have begun? Would she have turned herself over like a row of salt hay? Tossed herself to loose her own chaff? It took her months to learn that she could get clean for more than a minute at a time. Consciously she looked out for resentment, self-cherishing, and envy. Over years she formed the habit of deflecting them before they dug in. But she lived through those years in any case, and now she lived from that steady ground she won. More distances opened as she opened. Not that town, national, and world life as it was going did not give her fits. (p 93)

The transitions we have to make in life are difficult and, sometimes, Lord only knows the beginnings and the ends and the means in between. I like the idea of tossing oneself to loose our own chaff. My wife said to me tonight “I know what God is doing to you right now.” She said it with more enthusiasm than I could have conjured up for such a statement, but she was claiming God’s wisdom so I listened as she replied to my “what’s that?” with a rather anticlimactic, “He’s smoothing out your rough edges!” I didn’t know I had any (*smile*).

I’m not strong enough to loose my own chaff so for now the Lord has taken hold this pile of wheat and tossed it in the air. A strong wind has blown away a lot of chaff, but I suspect for now there is more yet to be loosed.

*Sigh.*

So we are tossed–a salad, a ball, a small boat out on the rough sea. But a large part of the tossing, we learn in Ephesians, is that we might be able to stand firm and, thus, no longer be tossed about. He tosses us so that no one else can. Here’s where part of what Peterson wrote compliments this short passage from Peterson:

Christians who let themselves be seduced into taking promised shortcuts of instant gratification that bypass the way of the Cross eventually find that the so-called gratification turns into addictions, incapacitating them for mature relationships in household, workplace, and congregation. (Practice Resurrection, 252).

I remember praying the prayer. Indeed. If there are rough edges they prevented me from standing firm and balanced. If there are smooth edges they have nothing to do with my own strength. If there is a resurrection, there must be a death. So we wait, patiently, not-so-silently, while the Father moves. His movement is the firmness under our feet. Because he moves, we won’t. Because he shakes, we will not be shaken.