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.



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.


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 13, 2008

I’m a Christian – Let’s do Business!

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

August 25, 2008

The False Gospel of Prosperity

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Uncategorized — kcillini77 @ 10:18 pm
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From John Piper – not sure if this is from two different sermons or one, but a message worth a couple minutes of your time.

August 19, 2008

Shackin’ Up

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Sarcasm — kcillini77 @ 9:52 pm

I just finished reading The Shack, which, if you scan the internet or poll your friends for opinions is either the most important book since the Gospel of Matthew or should be removed from all shelves and burned in a big bonfire before everyone starts thinking God is a black woman.

Listen, I understand some of the flack the book gets.  About 75% of the story is dialogue between a broken man with a dead daughter and the Trinity.  And the Father God chooses to reveal himself for most of the book as a black woman to a man who had deep seated issues with his father.  And the Holy Spirit is represented as an ethereal Asian woman.  And Jesus is a Middle Eastern man (where’d my white bearded Jesus go?).

I want to say that anyone who has their panties in a bunch about this before reading it should actually read it and see what it has to say before passing judgment.  But more than likely they will probably also not be too happy that God comes across as loving as His only begotten son instead of spending his time with the main character reminding him of how sinful and wretched he is.

Yeah, now that I think about it, this NOVEL is pretty dangerous.  Make sure your kids spend their evenings playing family friendly XBox games and watching nonoffensive television instead of reading this one.  If you have it on your shelf, maybe it would serve as good fuel for the fire during family devotions.

August 9, 2008

Carol Kent on Steve Brown, etc.

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Family — kcillini77 @ 10:07 am

If you haven’t heard Carol Kent’s story, you need to.

It will encourage you whether you are in the midst of a storm or not.

This story will take you 40 minutes to listen to, but it’s well worth it.  Go to this site, and you can either download the mp3, press the play button to listen to it directly on the site, or click “Play in Popup” to get a popup screen that will start the show.

July 13, 2008

Looking for feedback

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church — kcillini77 @ 6:51 pm

Please comment with your opinion… I know my current position, but I’m looking for help in examining all the angles.

Hypothetically, let’s say you have an opportunity to run for a position of political power.  Let’s say you are a person of deep faith who believes you have a personal relationship with Christ and those in your neighborhood who may elect you to the position are primarily people who have that same relationship.  And let’s say that in your personal prayer time you have come to a deep conviction that God really wants you to occupy that position of power.  Do you tell the constituency that may elect you that you believe God wants you in that position, or do you run the campaign purely on the strength of your record and your positions?

I really, seriously want to know what people’s thoughts are on this, so please respond.  Don’t just tell me your answer – tell me why you believe the way you do.

And no, I’m not running for office, nor do I believe I’ve heard something of great consequence from God at the moment so don’t be waiting for some big announcement from me.

May 25, 2008

Next Up on American Christian Idol: The Family!

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Family — kcillini77 @ 8:39 am
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Try this some time. Tune into your local Christian talk radio station and listen to the commercials for a couple of hours. Do these sound familiar?

“Want to spend more time with your family? Shed the corporate world and work from home with no cold calling by joining our innovative home based business!”

“Everywhere you turn the family is under attack by liberals and homosexual agendas. Tune into our next program to learn how to protect your family.”

“Looking for homeschool curricula? Call us at…”

“On our next episode, learn about the latest reason you need to contact your senator and representative to let them know that you stand for family values.”

Many of these are, in fact, real issues that need to be addressed.  But if we really looked at the Word that these stations ostensibly exist to spread to the world, we would see that God is much more concerned with the Gospel than with family values.

What if we were more concerned with telling our neighbors that God loves them despite their screw-ups instead of making sure they know how much they’re screwing up?

What if we taught our kids WHY we believe Jesus died and rose again and WHY we believe God created us so they can help their friends find grace IN school instead of keeping them OUT of school?

What if we had conversations with our coworkers and showed them love as they go through their divorce instead of whispering about it behind their back and dreaming of the day that we can work from home and never have to deal with those people again?

What if we took our kids to visit AIDS patients and gave love to people who have sinned and are sinning just like we have and continue to do?

What if instead of giving a tithe to a church to make sure they can pay salaries for multiple youth pastors to provide safe fun in a positive environment we gave our money to feed children in a poverty stricken area and involved our children in the process?

What if?

April 22, 2008

What would the church be without its buildings?

Filed under: Church,Kansas City,Westside — kcillini77 @ 10:02 pm

I’m trying, really trying to keep from being cynical.  But I really can’t help it.

Next Sunday we start the annual “Come Together” campaign at church.  I think this is the fifth year I’ve been through it, though it may have had a different name at some point.

In essence, it started as a campaign to convince the church that we needed a bigger building to reach our community for Christ.  Once the ball was rolling and commitments were in hand, the building was constructed (with pledge cards in hand, but not necessarily cold hard cash).  Every year, we enter this “celebration time” which is pumped up as a time to reflect on all the great things our church is doing and dream even bigger.  But a key component of it is getting the newbies to sign on to help pay off the debt that the church amassed when it decided God was calling it to build a huge building and to remind us who may have fallen off the wagon that we need to keep giving as well.

There’s a part of me that thinks I should be preparing my heart for God to speak to me and show me that my church is indeed right and that it is very important that we have this building paid off in order for the gospel to be communicated.  But what I keep hearing is this:  Worst case scenario, if the church loses the building, so what?  Yeah, our big machine that keeps kids programs going and cool worship bands playing wouldn’t be able to maintain the status quo.  But the church could survive.  The church would survive.  In fact, the church would truly need to “come together” and seek God for guidance as to how to proceed.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not rooting for my church to lose its building.  But it’s not the church’s building in the first place, just like my house isn’t really my house.  It’s the bank’s, and by God’s will I am allowed to stay in it for the time being.  And if God wills the church to lose its building, then that is his prerogative.  So let’s just skip the pep talk and work on the gospel, okay?

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