Cultural Commentary: Favre signing with Vikings- Symbolic of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

This writer enjoys watching the sport of football. I live in the Twin Cities and the team I root for as a fan is the Minnesota Vikings. The ongoing saga of whether Brett Favre would or wouldn’t sign with the Vikings was a drawn out soap opera with the fans hope that if he signs, perhaps he can guide the team to the promised land of the Super Bowl and a long desired and lacked Championship. His finally signing with the Vikings generated two things among Vikings fans, Hope and Ambivalence. As already stated, the hope is a competent and Hall of Fame Quarterback is the only piece missing for a championship run. The ambivalence comes from the fact that Brett Favre was a member of the enemy for sixteen years. He was the focal point of the team Vikings fans hate the most and care more about whether we win or lose. It is hard to root for one who was once considered the enemy.

The reader may respond with a thought such as “That is well and good and pretty straight forward. So what.” Or “Since this is a blog focusing on Christianity, Life, and Culture what on earth does Favre to do with anything other than drawing hits.” Well, football in general is a game that is rich with symbolism that can be used to illustrate matters of success, faith, and development. The latest result of the saga that is Brett Favre’s career is no different. Clearly there is the nature of hope. We want to hope, we desire hope, we want to feel good. We affiliate with a team for reasons such as proximity and the results impact our mood and culture. Brett Favre brings hope to a community that there is a chance for better. A chance that the desire for the team we cheer for to achieve ultimate success. Yet, there is much more to success than Brett Favre being a successful, healthy Quarterback. Yet, the hope is strong.

A rather harder concept to grasp is that of conciliation. There are fans that do not embrace the hope because of the fact they still consider Brett Favre the enemy. He won the Superbowl and had much success with the Green Bay Packers. Success that is both envied and disdained. Yet, now their past key star player is now a member of the Minnesota Viking. Yet, there is something within us that will struggle to accept the one who was an enemy now being a key part of the team. It does not sit well emotionally, leading to ambivalence.

Now the truth is the hope represented in Brett Favre is fleeting and temporary. The Minnesota Vikings may succeed, they may fail, and they may be mediocre. The hope may be well founded or prove to be false. Brett Favre after all is a human with limitations and it takes more the Brett Favre to achieve success. As a Christian though, I know that hope that does not disappoint exists. This hope is found in the person of Jesus the Messiah. This hope is found in the message of the Gospel that it is not about being “good enough” to be in relationship with the Creator of the Universe, but rather accepting the gift of redemption and turning from self. The true hope rests in that which lasts for eternity, not for a fleeting moment such as winning a championship. I hope Brett Favre and the Vikings win it all, yet their success or lack of success will have nothing to do with my eternal prospects. It will not impact my source of peace or joy, unless I focus on self and not on the certainty of Jesus.

The harder concept to grasp is the concept of conciliation. It is difficult to accept that Brett Favre is no longer considered an enemy. It is difficult to cheer for one that used to jeer. It actually is rather surreal to see Brett Favre in the purple and gold. Yet, each one of us at one point or another was an enemy of God. Each of us had to make a choice to sign on, and to turn from our past enmity. Now for some people the choice comes easily. It is a decision simply known to be right. Other people may hem and haw and have difficulty turning from self and joining God’s team. Many simply reject the offer to join the team TJ Houshmandzadeh. Now some people readily rejoice over Brett Favre joining the Vikings, others simply have stronger reactions. In thinking about the conciliation Vikings fans face with Brett Favre, my mind goes to the Apostle Paul. He was a man who was clearly an enemy to the Church. He killed many, many people. Yet, God transformed this man from a murderous zealot to a key Apostle who served to spread the Gospel and was used to write the majority of the New Testament text. So when I think of Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking, it serves as a picture of each of our coming to peace with God once we accept the offer of salvation through Jesus the Messiah and turn from our way, to God’s way.

Hopefully you find these thoughts to be helpful and challenging. In order to reach conciliation from God it is never too late. The Hope of that does not fail that is found in what Jesus did to remove the enmity and establish peace with God. I am grateful I am able to join God’s team. On God’s team there is no fleeting reward but eternal. The hope is sure and sound. So if you are not yet signed up to be in God’s team and kingdom, please consider the possibility.

Which Jesus do you serve?

Received the following post from the http://www.revivalschool.com/ email list and thought it would be worth posting here.

WHICH JESUS Do YOU SERVE??
-Posted by Brendon Powell.

There seems to be more than one Jesus to choose from these days.
Which one is the  true Jesus and who am I following?

·    There’s a ‘seeker friendly’ Jesus, he’s the one who will not
offend anyone in anyway. He loves everyone no mater what they do.
·    There’s a ‘sow and reap’ Jesus, he made a covenant with man
so that man could sow his seed and reap wealth and happiness on
earth and then go to heaven when he dies.
·    There’s a ‘blend in with the world’ Jesus, he wants us to look
like, act like, and be like the world in order to reach the lost.
·    There’s a ‘neverending grace’ Jesus, his ‘grace’ covers us no
matter what we do or how we live.
·    There’s a ‘just believe’ Jesus.  As long as you truly believe
in your heart, you’re saved.
·    There’s a ‘name it claim it’ Jesus.  You name it; anything and
it’s yours!  If you don’t get it, it’s because you lack faith. It’s your fault.
·    There’s a ‘carnal’ Jesus.  He doesn’t expect you to overcome
sin, he understands you’re just carnal.
·     There’s a ‘heart dwelling’ Jesus.  All you have to do is ask
him into your heart and voilà, he’s there.  You’re going to heaven!

Truth:

·    There’s the Jesus who said “Repent and believe the gospel,
the kingdom of God is at hand.” -Mark 1:15
He said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.” -Lk 9:23-25
 He said without Him you are already condemned.  -John 3:18
 He said He came to save the world -John 3:16
  He said unless you forsake all you have, you cannot be His disciple.
  -Luke 14:33
He said if we love anyone more than Him we are not worthy of Him.
 -Matt 10:37-39
  He said if you love this life you’ll lose it. -John 12:25-26
    He said you cannot serve God and money. -Matt 6:24
He said fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell. -Mt 10:28
 He said be extreme in your war against sin. -Matt 18:8-9
    He said love God with all your heart, soul and mind and your
    neighbour as yourself. -Matt 22:37-39
      He said He is the light of the world. –John 8:12
He said the gate is narrow and the way is difficult and few find it.
 -Matt 7:13-14
    He said those who believe in Him but work iniquity will be
      cast out. -Matt 7:21-23
He said you’ll be hated for His name’s sake, but if you endure to
 the end, you’ll be saved. -Matt 10:22
  He said I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to
   the Father but by Me. –John 14:6

Which Jesus do you serve?

Commentary: Nightline Faceoff Debate-Does Satan exist?

Well if you haven’t watched the Night-line Face of debate on does Satan exist, do so it is worth your while.  The debate is on-line at ABC’s website here: http://abcnews.go.com/nightline/faceoff.

 

The debate participants were on one side Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Churchand Annie Lobert from Hookers for Jesus.  The other side consisted of  Deepak Chopra, New Age author and  “Bishop” Carlton Pearson, former word of faith pastor who now teach “inclusive gospel” and no longer pastors a church.

 

The exchange was definitely interesting. Before getting into what the two sides presented, in observing the debate it definitely felt like a battle between light and darkness.  The last word went to Deepak Chopra who used some ancient Essene quote extolling being “totally filled with a presence of love” that Deepak stated that he wanted that kind of intoxication of love.  It felt like the presentation of the debate wanted to give more merit to Chopra and Pearson’s position.  However, that is not a surprise since the media in general only talks about Christianity or Christian themes when it can shed negative light on beliefs. However, it is worth examining what each person added to the debate. I will discuss each in the order that they presented there thoughts.

 

First of all is Mark Driscoll.  He did present the Gospel in a straight forward manner.  He illustrated that evil exists because Satan and people choose to rebel against God and that Jesus came and took on the guilt and shame and paid the consequences of sin.   He provided many sound rebuttals to comments made by the other side, rebuttals that usually led to avoidance and tangents from the other side. He chose to close with a reading of the word of God which presented the Gospel view of the topic, and definitely felt the Spirit of God as he read the Word of God.

 

Second is Deepak Chopra. He basically engaged in espousing clichéd platitudes that seemed to be the buzz phrases for his point of view.  He basically indicated that evil exists because we all have a shadow and that if we get right with self and get in touch with our divine self, everything would be okay.  His answer for the ever escalating presence of evil was that has change happens there is fear and has fear grows so does violence.  He also suggested that Annie Lobert’s experiences were of self and the dark dungeon she had herself involved in.  Deepak emphasized over and over that everyone has experience and their experience is valid for them.  He indicated that he trusts his spirit over his mind.  He also made a big point at de-emphasizing belief.  He indicated that if something is real, you do not need to believe.  Deepak also claimed that his views were more in line with the scientific facts.  He indicated that creation consists of evolution and entropy, with evolution always slightly ahead.  Deepak came off as arrogant and prideful, constantly referring to people with other beliefs not inline with his thinking as primitive whereas he is enlightened.

 

The third person to engage in discussion was Annie Lobert, a former prostitute is reaching out to share the Gospel with other prostitutes. She was there basically to share her story. She reported how she had personal contact with demons.  She seemed out of her element in the conversation, especially when the other side basically explained as what happened to her as being self-created.  Her main message was that demons do try and influence people and are very active.  By the end of the debate, Mark Driscoll tried to help her share her story and what it meant. She was in tears at the end of debate and emphasized that because she knows the reality of evil, she knows the truth of God and Gospel. 

 

The final person is Bishop Carlton Pearson. He emphasized he used to teach the Bible and use his past as a reason to have “authority” on the subject.  His main point is that we create what we want to create. If we want to believe in demons, we create them.  He made attempts at painting Christians as hypocritical for not being “legalistic” and caring more about money or appearances.  He initially referred to having a belief in an omnipresent, omnipotent, lustful Satan.  When corrected, he changed his statement to “almost” omnipresent, omnipotent.  He clearly expressed belief that the Bible and stories related to Jesus and Satan as being simply myth.  He brought up several times the “eternal torture” as being something in his mind that a loving God should not do.  He definitely spoke of from a morally inclusive point of view with a relativistic view of truth.

 

The debate in total showed the clear contrast between the Gospel of Jesus through the Bible and gospel of inclusiveness. On one hand, you have Satan existing due to rebellion and seeking to destroy others and the other, you have evil as a shadow part of self, that if manifests is self creation.  You have one side that looks to depend on Jesus as an answer for selfishness, the other which looks to elevate self.  One side finds peace in Jesus. The other side finds peace in tolerance or inclusiveness. The question is, what side to you lean toward? 

Inaguaration Day reflections

Today is a momentous day in the country of the United States of America. He is a day where a black man takes the seat of power in this country.  It is a day where many are filled with hope for the prospects of political change. The country is in perilous economic times, still faces threats from terrorists, and has many other issues facing it ahead.  A lot of people are looking to this man and hoping he can bring the political change promised that betters this country.  Sadly, the hope is on politics and man, which ultimately will falter, as all political saviors do.  It is actually heart-breaking to see all who place their hope on the political.

We are undergoing difficult times.  Only God knows where things are headed.  The question in this time is what are you depending on for hope.  Do you hope in a man and the political systems? Do you hope in your own strength and wisdom?  What are the foundational hopes of your life? Personally, the foundation hope of my life lies in Jesus as Messiah.  Hope in Jesus is about moving beyond my own selfishness, whereas looking for political answers is looking for someone to give political answers to my needs and wants.  Surrender to Jesus is ultimately moving beyond my own needs and wants. Now, certainly there has in the past and will come politicians who ask for us all to move beyond self, but without Jesus no one can ultimately separate from self, and focus on others. Selfishness ever abounds. Even accepting Jesus as messiah and as the answer to transcend my selfishness, it is an ongoing process of seeing less of myself and more of God working through me.

Now, I encourage all believers in Jesus as Messiah to pray for what is to come ahead.  Whether the condition of this country improves or continues to degrade, Christians are to pray, and it starts with the leaders.  God will do what God will do.  Pray for all those in authority, even if you strongly disagree with the observed political directions.

So, in summary today is a today of hope and a new man is in charge.  The question is what are you doing with that.  Holding on to hope in a man, bemoaning the positions of the man entering the seat of power, or submitting to God regardless of who is in power?

A picture of Apostasy: Candle snuffing self out.

Last night on New Year’s Eve my wife, mother and I spent some time in prayer. We used candles and lit them for varied prayer concerns. The candles were simple table candles, nothing special. During the course of prayer, one of the candles snuffed its flame out with its own wax. After thinking it over and discussing it, it seem clear that a candle snuffing itself out is a clear picture of apostasy. Once a candle drowns its own wick in wax and snuffs out the flame, it is beyond redemption. The candle can no longer be an instrument of light. The same with any believer, who having been light with God’s Holy fire and turns from God and snuffs the light with own concerns, the light cannot be relight and no redemption is further possible.

The question is when does someone cross the line into apostasy? Clearly it comes when someone turns to something other than God toward something of self. It is an active ongoing choice. It is more than just a willful denunciation of God, for I have heard of people who have perform magic rituals against God that had not yet crossed a line into apostasy to where they were beyond redemption. Apostasy comes when some desire of self and soulish ideas take precedence over the truth of the Gospel. It is when the truth of God is exchanged for a lie, which is twisted from the truth. Apostasy is a willful choice and is based in blatant rejection of the truth for a lie to the point that the whole of self is submitted no longer to God, but rather the lie. It is not just seeking after other gods and willfully turning to them, it is rather reaching a state of disconnect from God and willful abandonment of the truth. There is a point at which a line is crossed and one moves away from faithlessness and is at the point of full disownment.

In thinking further about the candles and the prayer last night, there were many candles on the verge of drowning themselves out, yet remained lit. In the same sense there are many who have accepted deceptions and our following after self or other gods yet, the wick remains lit. They have come close to apostasy but have not yet crossed the line where the light is extinguished. There were other candles as well, some that burned quick, some burned slow, some with evident impurity, some that seemed clear but all still burned bright. So it is with those who have accepted the Light of the Messiah. We all have differences, yet all still shine the light. Our lives even continually reflect the light of the truth of the Gospel. And light did once shine from those that become apostate. There is evidence in their lives of when the light of the Gospel shown bright and the truth was reflected. Yet now the light shines no more. It is sad. Yet, in that sadness I am struck that only one candle out of thirty became self-extinguished. So while the bible promises that there will be a great falling away, those that become apostate are small in comparison to those who continue to let the light of the true Gospel shine.

The question is then where is the reader today? Have you accepted the light of the Gospel and turned from self? Have you accepted the gift of your most vile and selfish actions being wiped clean by the Cross? Have you let Jesus take on the consequences of your selfishness? If you have not, you still can. It involves simple acceptance of the gift and surrender to Jesus. It is a simple thing, yet very tough to do.

For those who have accepted the light of the Gospel? Where are you in your walk today? Are you walking in faithlessness and ever flirting with the border of apostasy and self-extinguishing the light of the Gospel? Please I pray for each reader to examine themselves before God and let God shine His light and expose the lies and impurities and all that needs to be turned from and cleansed. For while it is still Today and the light still shines, it is not too late.

At the Cross by Michael J. Boss

Recently been in touch with an old friend and he made me aware of a video he had uploaded to www.youtube.com. It is a simple and powerful song that I hope you will be blessed by viewing. It also points to a powerful testimony of a young lady who was suicidal and turned to surrender to Jesus. The song definitely points to the True Peace only found in Jesus.

 

He also has an itune or rhapsody downloadable tune  that is amusing for both adult and children.

Fun Song For Kids and Adults – The 12 Dismays Of Christmas

You can download this song on Itunes or Rhapsody.

Here’s the link to Itunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?i=280183244&id=280183186&s=143441

Metrodome sex incident: Reflections on American Culture

Last week in the Twin Cities an incident  that happened at the Gophers versus Iowa football game at the Metrodome made the news.  The incident involved a man and woman engaged in sexual intimacy in a bathroom and being cheered on.  Such an incident became the fodder of talk show comments and jokes. 

       In thinking over this incident during the past week, it really is disturbing the reaction to this event. What is it about our society that people being caught in random public sex are first cheered and then ultimately jeered?  The thought  that crosses my mind, is what the cultural and total fascination with all things sexual.  Our culture has long promoted recreational sex as seen by the frequent references throughout our culture either direct or indirect.  Ultimately it seems to me to come down to two issues, the broken concept of intimacy and the pursuit of personal pleasure.

         We live in a society where increasingly people are more and more isolated.  We have many barriers that keep other people from getting close.  We are very defended individuals.  We don’t really know how to truly communicate intimately.  Deep intimacy is avoided. Rather superficial and even anonymous relationships are many, deep relationships are few.  We don’t want anyone really knowing our business.  So given a fractured view of true intimacy, we settle for other things.  One of the other things is recreational sex.  It is far easier to engage in sharing and engaging in stimulative physical intimacy then share truly about ourselves. Even if we don’t actively engage in the direct physical contact there is no shortage of the fantasy and pretend relationships.  We have in this day and age ready access to pornography.  We have anonymous relationships where mutual sexual gratification can occur without ever really sharing your true self.  We in this culture are broken regarding engaging in true intimacy.

      Another reason recreational sexuality is a cultural obsession is because people by and large seek after and pursue personal pleasure.  Sexual stimulation of whatever source is one of the key ways people get hooked into pursuing pleasure.  Ultimately the matter is about what makes us feel good.  People often turn to things like sexuality and other compulsive forms of pleasure seeking in order to just feel better, release some stress, and have something that feels good about the day.  It is momentary and fleeting and ultimately leads to increasing emptiness. 

      In this culture, personal emptiness is ongoing.  There is only one true answer for the deep longings of the heart, and that is found in Jesus the Messiah.  He alone is the answer for our deep longings. Jesus alone can bring a person to true inner peace.  And yes, there are many who profess believe is Yeshua who struggle with sexuality, for all I know people involved in the Metrodome incident could well fit in that category.  All who struggle in this area at some point have been hooked on the momentary pleasures and miss the true peace of God. 

    In terms of the couples connected to the Metrodome incident, their lives will not be the same.   A momentary turning to a fleeting pleasure, most likely while under conditions of decreased inhibition, becomes a moment of devastation. Ultimately, all forms of self-seeking have destructive end results.  

     For all believers in Yeshua, we need to find a way to reach out to those that are empty.  We need to be able to spread God’s love to those trapped in addictive pleasure seeking and point them to the way of true peace.  All believers in Yeshua also need to grow in awareness of personal areas of self-gratification and turn from them.  And when we see and here of incidents where in whatever interpersonal difficulties an individual or couple are having and become public, a prayer for their salvation and healing would be most appropriate.  Pray for them to find the true peace that is found in Messiah where all emptiness is filled.

Halloween: Reflections on three foundational elements of the celebration

Today is Halloween, a day that many, both young and old,  look forward to celebrating.  For some, it is a day they look forward to above all others.  However, what does the day really celebrate.  There are three distinct elements the encompass the celebration.  The day celebrates fear, selfishness, and deception.  This article will examine each element of this celebration a little more closely. 

    Lets take a look at the first element fear.  Now fear in and of it self is not a bad thing.  We are created with emotions, and fear is one of them.  Halloween seems to be more about celebrating all that generate fear.  It is taking a look at all that moves about in the dark places and celebrating the power that generates fear.  Monsters, demons, serial killers, all that is dark and evil is celebrated.  Why do we celebrate these things.  Some may argue that ultimately it is to reduce the power these things have to generate fear. However, the exact opposite occurs.  The things of evil and darkness are given more power. The day actually minimizes the true power and reduces the evil and darkness to silly things that no one takes seriously. When we celebrate the dark things that ellict fear, as we ramp up exposure to them, these things seem less scary and ultimately seem less a threat.  So as the things that generate fear are celebrated, the power of evil to influence grows as the threats are minimized and reach a point where not taken seriously.

The other foundational element celebrated is selfishness.  Selfishness is a key element to the celebration.  Engaging in trick or treating is at is core celebrating selfishness. It is all about getting what you want and doing so with threat of harm if you do not get it.  It is a day when people feel comfortable pursuing base things and seeking after assorted pleasures that elevate self.  This should be no surprise because the religions that consider Halloween an important day have at the core of their religion elements of self-entitlement.  This can be seen in Wicca, the New Age Movement, Druidism, and any other pagan based religions.  So, Halloween in essence celebrates self-empowerment and teaches seeking after our own desires. 

The third element that is celebrated in Halloween is deception. This is seen in the use of costumes and masks.  It really celebrates pretense and masks. It really plays out the human propensity to hide and defend through what is seen to be harmless fun.  However, if examine closely it is a celebration of they way each of use deception and makes deception thought of as something “fun.”  It celebrates the ways we lie, hide, and protect.  Deception is the rule of the day.  There is little awareness that what is celebrated actually serves to spread being comfortable with deception as well as awareness of the damage all deception does.

So in essence Halloween celebrates darkness at the core through elevating fear, selfishness, and deception.  Ultimately such a celebration really simply results in making each of us more comfortable with the darkness around us and in our own lives. The truth is celebrating the darkness leads to destruction.  There is often great evil done on this day.  Ultimately the great evils done are not the worst. It is the simply minimization of evil and elevation of self that are the core elements that will lead to destruction.  The sources of fear, the selfishness, and deception is simply made to be non-threatening when they are the key elements that drive us from faith and away from God.   The truth is found in the light of Jesus the Messiah.  All the powers of darkness, sources of fear, selfishness, and deception have no power. They have all been defeated at the cross.  So on this day, I praise God for the work of the Cross.  I praise God for his setting me free from all that is dark. The things of darkness have no power in comparison to the light of Jesus. The things of darkness have been defeated and their time is short.  So while in these days and times the powers of darkness seem to have full sway and certainly manifest on these days of celebratory evil, it is but temporary.  All praise to the one true God who sent Jesus to cleanse us from selfishness. The things of this earth and flesh, like Halloween can bring momentary pleasure, but it is temporary and comes with a cost.

Tragic deaths: Todd Bachman, Bernie Mac. Reminders life is but a vapor.

      Well, I went to my local newspaper today and learn that Bernie Mac died of pnuemonia complications.  I also learn that Todd Bachman, CEO of Minnesota based Bachmans greenhouse, and his wife Barbara were stabbed with Todd dead and his wife critically ill. 

      My previous blog post celebrated the depths God goes to reach out to others, bringing a man back from death so that he may turn to Jesus.  Here we have a reminder that life is but a vapor. I don’t know the true spiritual state of either man.  I read a report that Todd Bachman was a Godly man.  I hope and pray that both men did in fact know Yeshua as Messiah.  And yes, while God sometimes choose to work in the miraculous, other times the tragic happens. I pray that God uses these events to draw others unto Him.  I also take it again as a reminder that we all need to treat everyday as it is our last.  Sometimes death is slow, sometimes death is quick. But death comes for all.  I encourage all who read this to stop, take thought, reflect and if you have not yet accepted the gift of Yeshua taking on the consequences of your own self-seeking and surrender to the Kingdom of God to do so.

Ministry Spotlight: No Longer Music & Steiger International

I wanted to let some people know about a evangalistic outreach ministry that reaches out to people and youth in some very dark places. The ministry is Steiger International and the main outreach tool is a band called No Longer Music fronted by David Pierce. I first became aware of David Pierce and a montly men’s prayer breakfast at the local church I attend. I was impressed with David’s heart for God and heart for the lost. He is someone who God has used to build the Kingdom of God. They currently are in the midst of a tour in Europe and Middle East. They recently finished an outreach during the SLOT music festival in Poland. They are headed to Lebanon and Turkey. Here is there planned stops for this outreach tour:
Steiger International: No Longer Music
2008 Evangelistic Church Planting Tour

Poland July 12 (SLOT Art Festival)

Lebanon July 24, 25, 26, 27

Turkey July 31, August 1, 2, 3

Croatia August 7, 8, 9, 10

Finland August 15, 16, 17, 18

Iceland August 22, 23, 24, 25

USA August 26-31 (Life Light Festival)

 They certainly can use both prayer and finacial support. I have a link to their tour blog under my blogroll. If you want to support this ministry with prayer or in other ways please check out to this website: http://timetoact.steiger.org/A_Time_To_Act.html.

In terms of better understanding this band and their ministry I will post some of their promotional videos. 

These four videos gives you a good idea of the ministry. If you want to see more about the band and ministry search on You Tube under No Longer Music or David Pierce. There is at least one segement of David Pierce teaching.  Also check out their main website www.steiger.org. I will leave this post with a music video.