The World According to kcillini77

December 20, 2008

The Sky is Not Falling

Filed under: America,Church — kcillini77 @ 12:17 pm
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Lately I’ve been taking  in all of the news stories and op/ed pages decrying Barack Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to give an invocation at his inauguration.  When I read inane comments from pundits calling Warren a “radical” for not supporting gay marriage, I am tempted to react like a typical culture warrior.  It bothers me that there is obviously a movement underfoot to re-image American values as extremely liberal.  And if we look at recent history in Europe, the writing is probably on the wall that the transformation will eventually be successful.

But I truly believe this is not a battle for Christians to engage in.  The vocal liberals and “new atheists” are doing their best to provoke us into a war of words.  They want us to feel attacked and focus our energies on an emotional battle.  Momentum is on their side to gain the sympathy of the majority and they feel the time is now to break down what we would call “American values” and turn them on their heads.  But it is not time to fight.  It is time to abandon the fight for power and get back to the work that Jesus has called us to.

For so many years American Christians have lived under an illusion that our country is a Christian nation.  That we have some kind of favored status with God because our founding fathers believed in Him and Christianity has been the faith claimed by the majority of Americans.  In basking in this false security, we have become lazy and lost our passion for the Gospel.  We’ve replaced it with passion for self-righteousness and morality.

The Church in America is terrified right now.  It’s worried about losing clout.  It’s worried about kids leaving the church.  It’s worried about declining morality.  And in some circles that fear has led it to give up and wait for some kind of impending rapture so it can enjoy heaven while its neighbors finally see that it was right all along.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

There is no reason for us to fear.  What we are really seeing is the reality that our illusion of a “Christian” America has blinded us to for so many years.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8: 5-8)

For so long we’ve lived in an environment where everyone went to church on Sunday and kept up external appearances of righteousness.  Meanwhile, all sorts of atrocities have continued to be committed in our country because while we held public behavior in check, America as a whole has always been hostile to God and unable to please him.  Is that a defect of the U.S.A.?  No, it’s the human condition.  It’s the reason we need the Gospel.

And it’s the reason that, rather than a call to arms, the current state of our country is a call back to the Gospel.  Back to our first love.  Back to loving our neighbors as Christ loves them.  Back to being the Church.  Back to rejoicing in all circumstances.  Back to repenting of our lust for power.  Back to making it our ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind our own business and work with our hands so that our daily life may win the respect of others (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).  Back to Jesus.



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December 14, 2008

Stuff

Filed under: America — kcillini77 @ 8:54 am
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I know I’ve been remiss in posting, and I’m not putting much work into this one either.  But I came across this column in my newspaper on a flight last week and thought it was a great analysis of the American disease we all have in some form or another.

November 9, 2008

It’s time to stop shouting and start listening.

Filed under: Abortion,America,Christianity — kcillini77 @ 6:23 pm
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Based on some conversations I had with a couple people who read my last post, I thought it would be appropriate to make some clarification on my stance regarding voting for pro-life candidates.

My last post could very well be construed as saying that it was not worthwhile to vote for people with a pro-life stance and perhaps even as advocating the position of the pro-choice lobby.  That was not my intent at all.  And I’m not against overturning Roe.  I just think that we need to be working to get on base first before we start trying to hit the home run.  What I do think is that we need to hold pro-life candidates accountable for making small steps where they can to hold off the extremist views held by some of the pro-choice lobby.  The loophole surrounding the “health of the mother” in the third trimester needs to be beefed up.  We cannot have people like George Tiller in Kansas having people travel from out of state for third trimester abortions because he is willing to claim every woman that visits him is in grave danger of dying if their baby is not terminated.  So we should be pushing candidates to introduce legislation requiring some sort of ongoing accountability and scrutiny on those doctors performing third trimester abortions to make sure that it is only done when there is no other way to keep from the mother being harmed (which will make these abortions MUCH rarer).  Any legislation that has a chance of making abortion rarer should be examined and pursued if logical and enforceable, so long as it does not go to the other extreme (I wouldn’t support anything that involves punishing mothers who had an abortion.)

My main point regarding the focus of the pro-life lobby is that, while the overturning of Roe v. Wade may be attainable in our lifetime, it should not be the goal we focus all of our efforts on.  If by some means that were to be achieved right now, it would be by the slimmest of margins in terms of public opinion.  Granted, right and wrong are not determined by opinion polls.  But we live in a democracy, not a theocracy or a dictatorship.  The only way we will truly as a country come together and end abortion is to come to a place where the vast majority of Americans agree on when life begins.  If we can agree on that, we will agree that abortion of a life is murder.  We won’t come to this place simply by forcing a law into place.

We have to get there by changing hearts and minds.  We won’t do that by shouting.  We have to stop demonizing those who hold a pro-choice position.  We seem to currently be at a place where we think we know what the other side is, we find it reprehensible, and we’ve stopped listening.

But there’s hope.  I encourage you to read this opinion piece that I read in the KC Star yesterday. The author holds a pro-choice view.  Even after reading it, you may not quite understand how she can hold the position, but you will notice some concessions.  To quote from the article, “Medical advances continually push back the date of viability. I acknowledge that my position is difficult and dicey.”

Lots has been learned scientifically since Roe, and it leans very favorably toward the view that life begins at conception.  Even pro-choice advocates are starting to realize that.  If we do away with the “us vs. them” mentality and start listening, I believe we can start making headway to reduce the number of abortions in this country significantly. But the longer we stick to demonizing pro-choicers and going for the home run of overturning Roe v. Wade, we keep the conversation from occuring.  We need to listen.  We need to love.  We need to do our part in small ways and stop thinking that the answer is purely in getting a court decision reversed.

November 6, 2008

God is fiercely Pro-Choice and fiercely Pro-Life

prolifeantiobama

Never fear.  There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it.  Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find.  Tho those who knock it is opened.  C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce

One of the principle tenets of our theology is free will.  God steadfastly refuses to use his omnipotence to make His creation follow him.  If there is no choice, there is no love.  Conversely, it also means that humans are capable of great evil and our history has borne that out.  But despite the atrocities committed over the centuries, God remains fiercely committed to allowing us to choose good or evil.  And because we ALL choose evil, he sent His Son to shed His blood and cover that sin for those of us that seek Him.

Knowing this nature of God, I think the doom and gloom I hear from many conservative Christians due to the election of a staunchly, even activist, “pro-choice” candidate is misplaced.  No, I’m not saying Barack=God.  Hear me out.

Life begins at conception.  Intentionally aborting after conception is killing a human.  It’s murder.  It’s a horrible choice to make and the numbers of abortions performed annually amount to genocide.  I know.  And I understand the one-issue voter who will only vote for candidates that support an overturning of Roe v. Wade are sincerely trying to save countless lives.  But before we proclaim a curse upon the land for voting in someone who has vowed to sign the Freedom of Choice Act and start devoting lots of time and energy to finding and grooming new, attractive, pro-life candidates, we should ask ourselves a huge question.  Are our political activities in response to the scourge of abortion what God wants from us, or is he calling for us to refocus our efforts?

Ever since I was a child the majority of campaigns I have seen coming out of churches in an effort to save lives lost to abortion have focused on either protest or election of certain candidates.  These efforts have been going on for many, many, years.  We have elected countless pro-life candidates.  Abortion continues at an alarming rate.  Most people who point this fact out are told something along the lines of, “Yes, but the key is that the President nominates Supreme Court justices.”  The hope is that there will some day be enough justices on the bench to hear a case and overturn Roe v. Wade, declaring abortion illegal.  That would be considered the ultimate victory to most pro-lifers.    When the pro-choice lobby raises hypothetical scenarios about an overturning of Roe v. Wade involving back-alley abortions, millions of kids on welfare, suicides by potential mothers, etc. they are generally dismissed by pro-lifers as rhetoric.  But in the absence of changed hearts they are very real situations that will need to be dealt with in a post-Roe U.S.  Do we have a thought-out practical answer to how to deal with them?  And what will be the legal consequence of having an illegal abortion?  Rather than treating a scared teenage mom who made a bad decision with compassion and grace, will we throw her in the slammer to punish her further?

My wife volunteers time at a pregnancy center that I think models what our response to abortion should be.  It’s a place where women are educated about what is growing inside them and how valuable that baby is.  It’s a place where they are loved and encouraged to carry the baby to term.  They are mentored and supported on an individual basis according to their needs both before and after the birth of their child.  Low-income mothers are helped with obtaining the things they need to care for their child, or helped with the process of adoption should they choose that.  And women who have had abortions are greeted with open arms and grace.

What if all of the people who vote pro-life as a rule and mourn the deaths of innocent children volunteered for organizations such as this, started new ones, and made it such that there was one in every small town and dozens in every large community?  I think a massive movement of genuine care, love, grace, and monetary support for women and children would do FAR more to lead toward the eradication of abortion than an overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

Choice is not the enemy.  God allows us to choose all sorts of evil, even murder.  Without choice we cannot love.  So those of us who are pro-life should adamantly and proactively choose to love.  We don’t show our love by protests and voting.  We do it by, well, loving.


James 1:27 in action

Filed under: America,Christianity — kcillini77 @ 6:14 pm
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In the middle of all the politically based letters to the editor in today’s Kansas City Star, I also found this:

I’m an 81-year-old widow. On a recent Saturday I shopped at Target. At the checkout counter I reached into my purse to get my credit card. It was gone, and so was my checkbook. I told the cashier, “This is not going to ruin my day!” She put my three bags aside until I came back with the payment.

As I was getting into my car, a woman called to me: “Here are your groceries.” Assuming she had been behind me at the checkout and thought I had forgotten them, I said, “Thank you, but I have not paid for them.” She replied. “I did.”

I asked for her name, but she refused. I called after her, “God bless you,” and drove home with tears in my eyes.

That incident was a jolt. It happened for a reason. I’m waiting with trembles for God to point out what my payback opportunity will be.

P.S. I found my credit card and bank book where I left them.

Gayle Spellman
Lenexa


October 13, 2008

My latest gig

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Westside — kcillini77 @ 9:31 pm
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I’m writing the daily devotionals this week corresponding to our church’s series, “Scandalous Grace”.  Check in daily at this website if you are interested.

September 30, 2008

Rejoice!!!!

Filed under: America,Christianity,Money,Stock Market — kcillini77 @ 5:12 pm
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Heaven is now a little more attainable.

September 26, 2008

Country First

Filed under: America,Christianity — kcillini77 @ 11:02 pm
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Dear Friend in Christ, we are delighted that you will join us in prayer for spiritual
revival and national renewal. Our nation is in need of both. Jesus declared
that His followers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt.
5:13-16). We must become engaged in this battle for our nation’s soul.
However, until as Christians we experience revival in our own lives, it will be
extremely difficult to restore our nation’s moral foundations.


The battle for our nation’s soul is not just about voting booths. This is first and
foremost a spiritual contest. A spiritual battle is being waged across our nation,
and it must be met first of all with spiritual weapons. God’s people must pray
for a great outpouring of God’s Spirit on them, the churches, and the nation.
Then, when God has responded with His outpouring, His people will be
empowered and motivated to do the hard work of restoring our nation’s
moral foundation.

So begins the prayer guide the Southern Baptist Convention has released for their 40 Days of Prayer campaign that began on September 24.  So, if my Southern Baptist church had been paying attention at the convention they would have passed these guides out and today I would have been praying along with my fellow parishoners that God would:

• Search through my life and reveal any sin
• Help me be honest with Him about my sin
• Fill me with a deep desire for holiness
• Help me hate the sin in my life
• Help me surrender sinful thoughts and practices
• Help me live more faithfully
• Restore any lost joy in my walk with Him

Hey, I was on the path to being my usual cynical self, but these are things that I really should be praying.  Maybe this is a guide for my prayers I can really use.  Yeah, this first week looks pretty good – kind of an examination of my life in the eyes of God.  Let’s see what we’re going to pray about the other weeks.  Next week we pray for Church Revival.  Not quite sure what we mean by “revival” here, but I guess I’ll look at some of the things we’ll pray for this week and see:

Sept. 30: For Your Church 2 Cor 13:9; Eph 3:17b-19; Ezek 37:4-6 (p. 12)
Oct. 1: Churches in Your City Phil 1:9-11; 2 Cor 13:7-9; 1 Thess 4:4, 7 (p. 13)
Oct. 2: Churches in Your State Phlm 1:6; Gal 5:13, 22-23; Heb 12:14 (p. 14)
Oct. 3: Churches in the Nation 2 Thess 1:11-12; Eph 1:17-19; Jer 42:2-3 (p. 15)
Oct. 4: Church Friends Who Need a Touch from God 3 Jn 1:2; Jas 5:13,16; Matt 9:27-29 (p. 16)
Oct. 5: God’s Revived People to Register to Vote Matt 22:20-21; Matt 5:13-16; Rom 13:1-7 (p. 17)

Hmmm, let’s see what the Bible has to say in Matthew and Romans about God’s people registering to vote:

Matthew 22:20-21
“20 ‘Whose image and inscription is
this?’ He asked them. 21 ‘Caesar’s,’
they said to Him. Then He said to them,
‘Therefore, give back to Caesar the
things that are Caesar’s, and to God
the things that are God’s.’”
Nothing about voting here. Must be in the next one:
Matthew 5:13-16
“13 ‘You are the salt of the earth. But
if the salt should lose its taste, how
can it be made salty? It’s no longer
good for anything but to be thrown
out and trampled on by men.’ 14 ‘You
are the light of the world. A city
situated on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 No one lights a lamp and puts it
under a basket, but rather on a
lampstand, and it gives light for all who
are in the house. 16 In the same way,
let your light shine before men, so that
they may see your good works and give
glory to your Father in heaven.’”
Oh, I see!!!  When Jesus said we should let our light shine before men, he meant I should VOTE for the right candidate (a good work) so that that would be seen by others and they would give glory to my Father in heaven!  It’s starting to come together.  And Romans 13 must be full of voting insight.  Well, it says we should submit to the authorities over us, but I’m sure Paul assumed we already voted the godly men into office.  So it all makes sense.

Scanning the guide, over the 40 days participating SBC members will ask God to:

• Lead church leaders to preach on the importance of Christian involvement in the election (instead of another boring sermon on grace)

• Compel Christians to take the time to register to vote

• Help churches find creative ways to encourage Christians to register to vote (and if there’s one thing the church could use it’s another creative way to get us to do something)

• Help you talk to your Christian friends about the importance of voting (Uh, guys, I think we should vote.  What do you think?)

• Confound the efforts of people who try to stop Christians from getting informed in the churches (yeah – stick it to those pesky heathens who think our tax exempt status is supposed to enable us to better serve the poor, when what we really need is to be told who to vote for.)

• Help churches to discover more effective ways to reach the lost (because if God would just bring to mind a better advertising hook we’d be reaching more people with His Word)

• Burden Christians to support national efforts to bring people to Christ (Already underway – just looking for a good slogan)

• Raise up new entertainment personalities who promote godly values (We could really use another Stephen Baldwin to help us win more souls to Christ).

• Convince policy makers that His moral code makes strong nations (Like modern day Israel?)

• Convict people to dress modestly in public (Modest IS Hottest)

• Help you communicate your concerns regularly with your elected representatives (About the potholes and streetlights or just about literature with swear words in the schools?)

• Expose ungodly influences affecting public officials (Just not our own ungodliness?)

• Burden churches to help public officials work toward good goals (Like new roads to lead to our new megachurch)

• Give Christians who run for public office favor in the eyes of the electorate (Just like He did with W.)

• Confound the counsel of candidates who don’t support biblical values (Maybe they could speak in tongues)

• Lead churches to encourage their members to run for public office

• Discourage ungodly people from running for public office (Don’t even try it Buster – only churchgoing folk in this position!)

• Provide the resources godly candidates need to win elections (We know you’re God and all, but we don’t want to ask you to actually put our man in office – just send him enough money to advertise that he’s Your man for the job.)

• Confound the plans of the enemies of the United States

• Help the United States continue to be the world’s leader in promoting freedom for all people. (Because we wouldn’t want anyone from any of those heathen countries pushing freedom on the rest of the world and Bono’s already stolen enough of our thunder. )

There are many more things in this guide to pray for, and now that I look at it, I think it really is a guide that I can use.  You see, the very last thing it says we are supposed to do in each and every prayer is “trust that God is at work to accomplish His will.”  That, I can use.  See, I’m not really cynical about this prayer guide.  It’s just 83 pages too long.

Note:  If you were offended by this post, it’s not my fault. The Internet Monk made me do it.

September 25, 2008

Here’s what I’m thinking about today (or, I’m posting something so you know I’m still here).

Filed under: America,Christianity,Sports — kcillini77 @ 8:32 pm
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I was listening to sports radio on my way home from work tonight and some caller started talking about being a man of faith.  Something along the lines of, “I’m a man of faith – I play baseball at a Christian college, and just because people of faith aren’t into doing things other people are into doesn’t mean we can’t be competitive.”

I had just turned on the radio so I heard this out of context with whatever prompted the call.  But I found myself thinking less about his overall point than his contention that people of faith aren’t into what “other” people are into.  Why do we have to keep drawing lines in the sand between us and them?  Why is the mark of a Christian that we’re not doing some particular sin?

As I understand the gospel, the difference between a Christ follower and the “other” people in this world is that we have recognized our frailty, our rebellion against our creator, and our utter helplessness to conquer sin on our own.  We’ve accepted forgiveness.  That’s it.  Have I missed something?

September 13, 2008

I’m a Christian – Let’s do Business!

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church — kcillini77 @ 5:27 pm
Tags: , ,

Yesterday, I got an email from someone I don’t know.  Of course this happens all the time, but the subject caught my eye enough to open it:  “Buying a car? Support a local Christian car salesman!”  Judging by the other addresses on distribution, this is either someone who goes to our church or found some other way of getting email addresses of multiple people at our church.  Here’s the text of the email message, with personally identifying information removed to protect the guilty (and innocent family members).

[Link removed] is the home of car salesman John Doe. John is a former full-time youth pastor. After an unexpected change, John is selling cars. He is happily married to Jane and is the father of three children – John Junior, Jack, and Jill – with one on the way in May!

If you or a friend is purchasing a new or used vehicle, please give me a call. I strive to display the love of Christ even in a car dealership! If you are looking for a fair, honest, and hassle-free environment, please contact me!

John Doe – 555-555-555

This email instantly angered me.  I mean, royally pissed me off. Not because it was junkmail, but because this person was using Christ as a direct marketing ploy (I realize one could claim many or most churches do this too, but that’s another topic for another day).

My first exposure to this kind of use of Christ was the “Shepherd’s Guide”, a relatively innocuous looking phone book that was (and still is) available at Christian bookstores for free.  I remember having a copy of it in our house growing up, and I didn’t really think much of it.  But over time, the more I have seen Jesus fishes and crosses on service vans and business ads, the more the practice has bugged me.  What is supposed to be the benefit of choosing a business that claims Christianity in their advertising?  A salesman who will give you a fair price and won’t screw you over?  Giving your money to someone who is more likely to tithe a portion of it to a church?  And how does management make sure all of the company’s representatives are full of the same charitable Christianity that they are advertising?  These have all been questions I’ve had, but the anger has never overcome me until I got that email last night.

Chick-Fil-A is run by a Christian businessman and his policies and life bear that out.  But they advertise with funny cows saying “Eat more Chikin”, not with crosses and fish.  The guy who replaced my furnace last winter was a very honest man who inspired conversation, and I came to find out that he was a Christ follower in the course of talking to him.  But there’s no mention of that on his website or his vans.

Be honest, treat your employees or employer well, and be fair.  Seize appropriate opportunities to share your love of Christ in the workplace when they present themselves.  But don’t use your Christianity to bring other Christians to you.  When you do, you are just using the name of Christ for money, and I’m pretty sure He’s not a big fan of that.

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