Why don’t we ever read these verses in church?
Why don’t we ever sing this in worship?
Though I’d still like an Irish wake, after the service (perhaps after a pause), for my friends and family. Surely, after a funeral itself, there can be a place for cheerfulness – especially after the reminder during the service of the coming Day of Resurrection, to which we can look forward – as well as more personal remembrances of the departed.
There will come a day, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, when the man in the coffin will be me. They say the dead don’t care, but I’m not dead yet, so as long as I’m still alive, I’d like to have some say in what goes on at my funeral. And, truth be told, I think the dead do care. Not that they will be privy to the details of what happens at their own funerals, but they still care about the world, about their family, about the church. The saints in heaven continue to pray for those who are still on their earthly pilgrimage, so how could they not care about them?
Because I do care now, and will care even after I’m with the Lord, here are some things I hope and pray are not said at my funeral. I care about those who will be there, about what…
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@ James: I remember you said previously (here, and also here and here) that you are yourself a convert from Islam, and since that is part of ElectricAngel’s subject here, I was wondering if you could share with us, a bit of how you came to know Christ, and if in sharing the Gospel with you, anyone pointed to any parts of the Koran that dealt with Christ, or Old Testament prophets like Moses, and Abraham, and used such in teaching you, and what you think of the notion of us Christians doing so, to try to reach Muslims living in our midst, or elsewhere for that matter? Do you think that can be part of an effective witnessing / evangelizing strategy? Does the fact of Islam having certain elements of teachings in common with Christianity help reach Muslims? Or does the distortion of them (e.g. the misunderstanding / misrepresentation of the Trinity, the Islamic teaching that Jesus was horrified at the notion of being considered divine, etc.) present a barrier? Or is irrelevant?
Just wondering what your thoughts might be on the subject.
James graciously replied:
@Will You can make it a guest post or not, I’m not sure if it is worth a self post but it is up to you.
But anyways, before I was a Christian, I noticed that the way Christian political leaders, pastors and newspapers in America work is that they appeal via moral superiority to the masses. As a specific case (divorce), Dalrock himself points this out constantly by referring to articles on the Christian Post, or Focus on the Family, where the author is very happy that the Christian divorce rate is lower than the general population rate. Despite the Christian divorce rate still being around a giant 30%. So then Christians are able to be happy and exclaim, that there must be something real about Christianity if it lowers divorce rates so much! And indeed there might be.
No Muslim will ever be convinced by that argument. Take for example, my Muslim family. My mother is 1 of 7 children. My father is 1 of 7 children. Out of my vast amount of relatives there was maybe 1 divorce. That’s it. The country my parents come from currently has a divorce rate of about 20% which is seen as super high, and as a result, the Islamist party gets elected into power to restore traditional values. The 20% general population divorce rate isn’t even half of the United States general population divorce rate and people are already trying to change society to counteract this. And this country, is one of the most liberal Muslim states in existence. So the whole “Christians are a positive moral influence on general society” argument doesn’t appeal to Muslims because from their point of view, even the Christian standard is lacking compared to the most liberal Muslim state. This isn’t only specific to the case of divorce though, but that’s beyond the scope of this post and divorce is just the example I am using to show you the Muslim mindset. Also, any argument you enter with a Muslim person, they can show that Christian/Western government influence has always made them worse (and more Islamic). You can take the entire MiddleEast and North Africa region as an example, Churchill causing a systematic famine in the Bengal areas of India killing 4 million people contributing to the almost entirely Muslim state of Bangladesh, etc. etc. If you want to play the moral superiority game with Muslims, they will beat you at your own game by pointing cultural trends, and in addition to that point out countless examples in the past centuries where Western countries (which they associate wholly with Christians) have utterly messed up Muslim countries/communities. So if you want to convert Muslims, you really have to avoid that route.
Now what you do have to your advantage is that most Muslims haven’t actually read the Bible. The Qur’an states that Jews and Christians originally had the right teachings, but it was corrupted. Therefore most Muslims haven’t even read the Old Testament or New Testament. That’s a fresh field to plant seeds! I myself was invited to a Bible study from a minister on the street. Curiosity is what made me go the first time. The first Bible study I was given was of Zaccheus the tax collector. He climbed a tree to see Jesus from a far, but had to come down to really see Jesus as he is. So while I didn’t believe the Christian version at that time yet, I could agree with the point of the story that I cannot let pop culture or my own distanced perceptions of Christians and Jesus define what Christians believe. So I gave it a shot and went to bible study around 2x, 3x a week. What convinced me a lot were the universal truths in the Bible, things that I could read and immediately see being true, even from my own experience. And the biggest point of all was that the minister lived as he preached. The minister just started the church in the city I was in, so it had no congregants. The minister lived frugally and self-sufficiently (not like the church pastors you hear on the news with Rolls Royces or Mercedes-Benz, eating fancy dinners at 5 star restaurants etc.), lived with patience and love (I had never ending questions), lived with a true purpose and dedication to God. Something drove him that I quite couldn’t place my finger on. And I don’t mean ambition for wordily things. I believe you can’t fake that. A person can tell when a pastor or minister has ulterior motives. Not always, but you can feel the desparateness of a pastor looking to fill his pews for tithe not for saving of souls and establishing a fellowship with them.
So this is continuing, maybe several months in, and I start comparing it to the things in the Qur’an. If God in the OT chose Israel as his chosen tribe, language, people and all, and in the NT Jesus opened it up to everyone, why does the Qur’an instate Arabic as the official language again? It would seem like a backwards move given God’s track record. Jesus was crucified because he refused to use violence, so why would the next prophet use violence? Wouldn’t have God made Jesus use violence the first time if it was OK anyways? And so on. Eventually the system I had in my head of what Islam was collapsed in the face of all these questions. I was convinced, in light of the minister’s way of life (the fruit) and the teachings of the Bible (the wisdom) that whatever the tree was (Jesus/God) must have been good.
If you want to try and convert Muslims, first you have to hook them with the curiosity of a Bible they’ve never read, make them stay for a while with your own actions and lifestyle, and then let the Bible speak for itself. Other than that the best witness to a Muslim community is if Christians fix up their own communities and lives. In my country there are some Christians (less than .5% probably) that are Eastern Orthodox. They say they converted because of the lifestyle they saw them living and eventually the truths in the Bible. They also say they would have never converted to American or Western European Christianity because what they preached never matched how they lived their lifestyle, and that it was evident in their community, culture, and morals. (Of course this is not true of all Western Christians, as I myself have been heavily influenced by one). Don’t underestimate your own lifestyle, actions and deeds in the eyes of a Muslim. That draws them in to stay around and read the Bible which ultimately converts them.
You aren’t going to convert Muslims wholesale by pointing at Christian society or morals. You are going to convert them on a 1 on 1 basis, using your own life as a living testimony, and proof of God. The reason why so many people followed Jesus is because he backed up his actions by words. Heck, half the time the Pharisees taught things approved by him (do what they say, not what they do), but because the Pharisees themselves did not do it they didn’t have the same sort of authority Jesus did. That and being the son of God thing also helps. It really shows the power of actually doing and not just saying. If you have an obese, diabetic man sitting on the couch all day giving you diet and workout advice, you in no way shape or form want to listen to any advice he has for you, despite the fact that the advice could be true. And when a Muslim, sees a sick, immoral, adulterous, divorcing Christian society, that constantly invades his homeland, trying to give advice on how to live a good life, be a good person, how to live for God, do you think he will want to hear it? So you either have to fix your own society, or go to him as an healthy Christian individual. In my conversion it was an individual that helped convince me so never underestimate the impact of one person.
Thanks again James, for giving such a comprehensive and detailed response, sharing your inspirational testimony, and giving us all much food for thought.
I know individuals who look askance at marijuana but can and do medicate themselves into a near-stupor with a doctor’s permission. Legality is not morality, and all mind-altering drugs should be considered in the context of purpose, necessity, and effect.
So is it moral to smoke marijuana if one can maintain self-control? Can it merely “gladden the heart” without leading to something like drunkenness? Those are the key questions, and they’re not going away.
Welcome to the new normal.
I can’t remember where, but I read an opinion piece by another fellow Christian who seemed to think you can’t smoke any marijuana without becoming stoned, but that’s bullshit; just as you can have a drink and not get drunk, just enjoy a pleasant sense of relaxation, so too could one partake of only a small amount of marijuana, as opposed to a larger amount, and enjoy some effects without full-out intoxication. It’s no different between the difference between having a cup of coffee, compared to having four cups of coffee: the cup of coffee will be pleasantly stimulating, but downing four cups of coffee may get your heart racing and give you nervous jitters – there’s a difference between getting mild stimulation and getting outright wired.
All drugs work this way; the basic principle of pharmacology is this: for every substance, there exists a dosage, a concentration / amount so small, as to have zero effect; but the flipside is, a large enough concentration / amount of any substance will kill you. Every substance works that way, including beneficial drugs without narcotic or psychotropic effects.
No reason to think there’s something magical, dangerously bad about certain ones, that any amount whatsoever of them is automatically going to have negative effects.
It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.
A Florida church is now offering drive-thru prayer service for its community as a way to fulfill busy commuter’s spiritual needs on the go.
Motorists along U.S. highway 41 in Southwest Florida can pull over once they spot a member of Estero United Methodist Church, carrying large signs that read “Need prayer? Turn here,” where close to a dozen volunteers are waiting in the church parking lot to offer prayer.
“You’d be surprised by the tears of joy from people when they come through, because they know God’s there for them and He is listening to their concerns. It’s really neat,” Pam Sebby, drive-thru prayer leader at EUMC, told The Christian Post.
A drive-thru prayer service has popped up near Atlanta. But volunteers at Snellville United Methodist Church say it’s not just for convenience, it’s for the connection as well.
Drivers sitting in rush hour traffic along busy Highway 78 can pull in for a quick prayer and a little stress relief. Iris Green, a volunteer for Drive-thru Prayer, said on a video for the project: “A lot of people, through their busy life, don’t take time to pray. Or sometimes they might feel that their prayer is not heard and if they can get someone to pray for them and with them, that kind of encourages them.”
Volunteers for the service stand out in front of the church waving a small red flag with signs that read: “Drive Thru Prayer Today.” Cars can drive up to the church underpass and volunteers will take prayer requests and pray with them through their car window – in true drive-thru fashion.
Drive Thru’s usually consist of burgers fries and sodas, but Calvary First Assembly of God Church in Stockton, Calif., is offering up something different on their menu: prayer.
On the city’s “Serve Our Stockton Day” the parishioners of the church lined up along the sides of the streets holding signs asking drivers if they needed prayer.
“We spend some time praying for them and they drive right on out and go about their business,” said the church’s pastor, Larry Rust, to Fox 40 news.
Except smoking is adiaphora. :)
*Update: Chris shares his thoughts about Sabbath-keeping in a new post here.
Except for that I’d avoid patronizing the artisanal cheese-maker (my branch of the Reformed tradition sticks with our forefathers’ practice in the matter), and forego it for another day, I otherwise concur with him – the Sabbath was made for men, and not men for the Sabbath.)
**Which means, of course, that I’d not go to Bob Evans or Cracker Barrel Country Store, etc, on a Sunday – same as the continental Reformed in Erik’s example below. That’s how we roll.
Originally posted on Literate Comments:
“The Baptists drive by Reformed churches and see the smoking and shake their heads; the Dutch watch the Baptists going to Bob Evans after the service and return the favor. Hashtag: FunWithLegalism”
Indeed. Churches, as churches, should focus on matters spiritual and eternal; individual believers, of course, are free to apply their faith and its principles as they encounter this temporal, passing-away world, and engage in whatever activism they please, as they feel Spirit-led.
Originally posted on Literate Comments:
Your fundamental error remains thinking that Biblical preaching, sacraments, prayer, and the like have little value.
There will come a day when your physical body and the material things of this world that you value will pass away, including the people who are dear to you. What then?
The only beef you should really have with the PCUSA is that they are concerned about societal transformation and political activism from the left and not from the right.
This is the problem with the culture war — it’s mostly a fight over who is going to control the spoils in this world. No one on either side is that concerned about the life to come.
We’ll all spend a lot more time dead than alive, though. What we see is all temporary in the form we see it.
It’s humorous to me how the former Christian who has become an atheist always seems to follow a similar script: They become sexually liberated (at least in theory), they become Democrats, they usually embrace homosexuality and abortion, they become amateur scientists with a special interest in evolution, and they take it upon themselves to argue with Christians whenever possible (not usually Muslims, though). This would not be my chosen path if I abandoned Christianity.
[Will S.: Mine neither. Chesterton, too, was puzzled by it, and like you and I, said if he became an atheist for some reason, the last thing he’d want to do is define himself in terms of opposition to his former beliefs; he’d instead rather go off and spend time doing completely different things.]
Originally posted on Literate Comments:
Posted June 25, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink
CD is trying to argue Susan towards atheism since he is an atheist. My contention is that atheism is the logical next step for the Caller variety of Roman Catholic, due to the high degree of QIRC that their belief system involves. The Mormons caused Bryan Cross to abandon Presbyterianism. Who’s to say an argument won’t come along to cause him to abandon Catholicism. Then what?
I continue to scratch my head, however, over atheists and agnostics who want to spend their time raining on the religious parades of theists. If I’m an atheist or agnostic I wouldn’t bother. If we’re just matter in motion no one belief system is really any better than the next, so just live and let live. We’re all worm food soon.
It’s humorous to me how the former Christian who has…
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I especially agree with and would like to highlight Erik Charter’s conclusion, regarding such parachurch organizations:
The problem with stuff like this is the assumption that ordinary Word & Sacrament ministry is not enough.
This same mistake underlies the ministries of “The Obedience Boys” and The Gospel Coalition. They are impatient with the church and evidently feel constrained by it, so they take it upon themselves to form an organization to “fill in the gaps”.
Why do we need ecumenical coalitions? Churches do ecumenism. Who appointed these individual ministers to do ecumenism or form committees?
These things are all variations of the same underlying mistakes — impatience and lack of trust in churches to do the work that Christ has appointed to them.
Originally posted on Literate Comments:
Got this e-mail from a well-meaning guy I go to church with:
“We’re excited about the Living for God Conference that is coming up next month.
For three days – July 10-12 – we will, God willing, be hosting a conference on the power of God and the Christian life.
Scott Brown, Steve Deace, Kevin Swanson, and Phil Kayser will be delivering 17 messages that aim to breathe vigor, love, and heart into your Christian walk.
Here are big reasons for you to come:
This conference is in your backyard: Iowa and the Midwest! It will be held in the auditorium of Faith Baptist Bible College.
This conference is for your whole family: littles and bigs!
This conference is needed! Families and Churches – Christians desperately need revitalization in the ways of God to be stirred up to love God and live for Him.
This conference exalts the Word…
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