This is Odd!

About to be taken in the Rapture and don’t have time to pack, much less say goodbye to loved ones who’ll be “Left Behind”? Well, now you can say those goodbyes in advance with a Rapture Letter.

As the site says:

“I have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven.”

Now I wonder how a computer program can detect the Rapture…

Found it here.

Great Discussion on Consumerism

Mark sent me a link to a good panel discussion on consumerism in reference to my post below, the guys on the panel were;

John Ortberg, teaching pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Northern California, and author of many books, including The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Zondervan, 2002).

Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, and author of Preaching Reimagined (Zondervan, 2005).

Efrem Smith, pastor of Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, and author of The Hip-Hop Church (IVP, 2006).

Will Willimon, bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the author of several books, including Pastor: A Reader for Ordained Ministry (Abingdon, 2002).

Here is how it finishes, I like this –

On the positive side, we can also help people experience the joy of generosity. One of the coolest messages I ever heard on giving was by Shane Claiborne, who is part of a community that advocates for poor and homeless folks in Philadelphia.

When I was in Chicago, he spoke to one of our services. And at the end he said, “When I’m done here tonight, I’m going to go be with some homeless folks in Chicago, and a lot of them don’t have shoes. And they need shoes. So I’m just asking anybody who’s willing, take your shoes off, bring them up here, and I’ll take them into the city.”

There ended up being 1,500 pairs of shoes left after the service, and people went home in their socks.

Smith: Generosity is one antidote to consumerism. And instead of just talking about money, I try to talk about it in the context of a bigger issue, which is stewardship. We cheapen stewardship by making stewardship just about money. It’s time, talent, treasure and temple. In that context, I try to talk about stewardship as much as I possibly can.

Some preachers say it’s easier to preach about money than about entertainment. How do you speak to the spiritual issues related to amusing ourselves?
Ortberg: If Jesus was preaching today, one of the forms of fasting he might talk about would be fasting from media. So about once a year or so, I’ll challenge people to go for a week without watching TV or DVDs and just see what happens. Because a really good way to find out the role that something plays in your life is to abstain from it for a while.

The word boredom has come into common usage only in the last 150 years. Ancient Greeks had no word for boredom. Ironically, when people didn’t have all the sources of stimulation that we have become dependent on, they didn’t have the experience of boredom. It’s like we have these internal mental muscles, the ability to focus attention, which has just gotten enormously weak.

So sometimes I talk about how good it is to not be dependent on outside stimulation to have a rich inner life. People want that.

Source here.

Who Will Go To Heaven?

I often ponder who I will meet in heaven. Gandhi? Mother Theresa? The Local Jehovah’s Witness? The nice lady who loves everyone who lives down the road? Pat Robertson? Bill Hybles? My Nanna? Will I actually be there to meet them all?
Now I know the righteous amongst us will answer “Oh it’s not for you to know these things Scott, God judges these issues, you just need to worry about being faithful”
Hmmm – Good. But I often have discussions with people about folks (like Gandhi for example) who follow the teachings of Christ, the lifestyle of Christ and so on, but would never call them self a Christian. They may even say “I follow Christ”, but also follow other teachings and philosophies and even gods.
Below is a quote from a guy who is an atheist, well maybe agnostic, but he is reading the New Testament with an open mind simple out of curiosity…will I meet him in heaven?

“I may (and have) gained value from this exercise thus far and will probably see more. But I don’t deign to call myself “Christian”. Frankly I doubt I could live up to that title. I don’t pray, I don’t go to church and I don’t talk about Christ in my “normal” life. I cuss, I drink and I hate Pat Robertson (although I do love Tammy Baker). I appreciate and honor the ideals of Jesus Christ. How could you not? Respect, love and appreciation are ideas anyone should uphold. But I don’t take them lightly and I feel they ultimately are things people should create and discover from within.”

Environmental Thoughts VI

One or 3…of the key reasons I get concerned about environmental issues…My 3 kids!

Global Warming,
(Taken from page 95 and 96 of Living The Good Life)
Global warming is caused by an increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The main greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, as well as some manufactured gases such as CFC’s and some of their replacements.
Australian households generate almost one fifth of Australia’s greenhouse gases – about 15 tonnes per household per year – throughout everyday activities such as transport, household energy use and the decay of household waste landfills.
…the worlds wild lands are being cleared at a rate of 1.6 acres per second at the same time as were emitting 708 tonnes of CO2, with 2.8 more people added to the world every second (taking into account births and deaths) to help us increase the rate – things cannot go on as they are indefinitely.
IUCN estimate that over 5500 species of animals birds, fish, reptiles and invertebrates are being threatened by extinction, along with 6700 species of plants. And they are dying out at rate between 50-150 species per day.

  • More than 50% of the worlds wetlands have been drained
  • Since 1950 some 3billion hectares of forest cover – nearly half of the world’s total – have been lost. Each year a further 16 million hectares of forest are destroyed. (**This week’s Bulletin, shows America actually had a growth in their forest this year! Someone is acting!)
  • Between 50-80% of mangrove forest have been destroyed.
  • One fourth of the planets tops soil has been lost.

The list goes on!

My Thoughts –
And God put man in charge of the care and nurture of this planet!! He actually said for us to “Rule over it” (Gen 1). And like so much of our leadership, it becomes “Lording over” rather than responsible “Ruling”. Responsible Rule, to me, has words like “Care” and “Nurture”, “Steward” and “Responsible” – But it would seem that we have left this care go amiss for a long long time. It would seem to me also that the ones who claim to know the creator through the revelation of His son Jesus, appear to be some of the last ones on the planet to driving a serious call to environmental sustainability and responsibility. In fact I would say that the church could call for an international day of confession and repentance for the manner in which we have cared for the planet God gave us to have responsibility for…just some random theology thrown in today!

Environmental Interuption

I spent a few days away at the COCWA/Baptist ministers retreat this week.
Wayne Alcorn and Keith Farmer spoke.
I put a post on the COCWA blog regarding some of my thoughts on Wayne’s message, I also made some of my thoughts public at the Churches of Christ ministers breakaway session on Tuesday afternoon at the conference.
After receiving a call from a fellow blogger and person whom I respect, not always agree with mind you, but respect a lot, I have changed some of my comments.
The above mentioned guy suggested I should make these comments on my own blog. I did think that the COCWA was not nec. the views held by COCWA and was open for comment, but I also understand the fact that it is a bit sensitive, so here we go…

I mean no offense, and this is not a personal attack on Wayne per say, I have gone a round of golf with Wayne in my old youth ministry days and as stated on my post, I think he is a man of incredible energy to do great things for the Kingdom of God.

My issue was with what I interpreted as being prosperity teaching, one person objected to the use of this terminology, so I will avoid this and simply state that we were encouraged to get rich in a material way so we could do more for God…

I have no issue with some people (Christians) being rich, in fact it would suggest in the parable of the talents that God does indeed bless some as 5 talent people…some. In fact I would say people who go after riches are on a dangerous slippery slope. I know people who set out in business, not to get rich, but to provide a service, and have done well, very very. Some of them have lost the plot so to speak with their wealth and others have honored God with their wealth. Cool.

Wayne affirmed the book “You Need More Money”, which I have read more than once, in it Brian Huston, suggests that “Money is the answer to everything”, as does King Solomon. Ecc 10:19
The same King suggested that he “hated life” 2:17, and that everything is “utterly meaningless” 1:2 and that the “grave is our ultimate destination” (denying life after death?) 9:10

I am not sure Brian will be writing extensive books on these scriptures.

It was suggested by Wayne that some people intentionally miss the second two words of the scripture “Blessed are the poor…in spirit” (Mt 5) , maybe he should tell that to Luke (Luke 6).
“Blessed are the poor”

It was that comment and others like it that made me convinced on Tuesday night that you can’t construct the kind of message Wayne preached whilst using the teachings of Jesus…just try!

Can I suggest you seek out and read a book I just completed called The Eye of the Needle, you don’t have to embrace it all, I did not, but on the whole it is filled with great biblical teaching on wealth and disciplship. It comes armed with a robust and biblically based text and forewords by Tim Costello and John Smith, two of today’s foremost voices on social action and poverty, Tabor College lecturer Jim Reiher give us some great material to make us think biblically about some of the issues Wayne raised with us.

Again I reiterate – this is not an anti-Wayne or Churches of Christ conference thing. I just feel so strongly about the fact that consumerism is the fastest growing ‘religion’ in our nation that we need to disciple people to use the wealth they have better, not teach them how to get more, no matter for what so called godly reasons and motivations this may have behind it.

End of rant…back to my greenie phase

Guest Speaker in Perth

Many of you would have seen on Phil Baker’s blog
that Ray Gingerich is in town.

To have a Christian Ethicist like Dr. Ray Ginerich in town is an exciting and not to be missed opportunity for the church in Perth. Here is a link for all the events: click here.

Below is some more info:

Dr. Gingerich’s latest book “Transforming the Powers” brings together some of the greatest Christian thinkers and Biblical scholars in the world today including Walter Wink, Nancey Murphy and Glen Stassen to consider what Christ’s message means in our post-modern world.

If you have been looking for an opportunity to expose friends, family and seekers to a solid biblical, theological, spiritual and prophetic alternative to a violence infused Christianity, don’t miss:

+A violent God and a nonviolent Jesus?: Peacemaking in a World with
+Opposing Views of Power”+

with Dr. Ray Gingerich, Christian Ethicist, Peace Studies Scholar and Theologian

Sunday Evening (not Monday!)
7pm 29th April 2007

where: Scripture Union House, 82 Matlock St. Mt. Hawthorn

To confirm contact Andrew Suggested Donation: $10

For more details click here

Dr. Gingerich is in Australia to share what one of the most extended alternative nonviolent movements in church history (nearly 500 years!) has to contribute to a dynamic and faithful vision of Christianity for the 21st century. Come prepared to have your understanding of atonement, mission, church, the gospel and God challenged in light of the person of Jesus.

This is an amazing opportunity for Perth. Please let your networks know.

Tough Questions Being Asked

Hmmm – read this,

…one of his boss’s comes in and tells him to pick up his gun. the kid doesn’t move. the boss moves closer and raises his voice ‘Jesus is Lord. Pick up your gun’. the kid is absolutely terrified but follows his heart, ‘I hate Jesus’ he yells and tries to make a run for it…

this scenario doesn’t fit my theology. in fact it exposes some gaping holes in it.

can someone follow Christ without actually knowing it?
can someone hate everything they know about Christianity and still usher in the Kingdom of God?

There are some great questions being asked by Charlie over here, pop over and add some thoughts to her great ponderings.