Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saved Part II

I wondered last night after I posted SAVED, if I would be offensive to some. It is not my intent. If you are Baptist and that is your walk, I have no issue with your walk. I believe that both walks, Time & Date and Always Accepted, are both valid. My issues come about when others persist that there walk is the only valid way, and they quote some scripture to "try" and prove their point.

By the way, Always Accepted (in my words) means that you grew up knowning Jesus Christ. You knew he was the Savour, Son of God, Light of the World, so on and so on. You didn't have to be convinced at a later time. And over time you internalize this knowledge as truth. You may make a profession of faith statement at confirmation or through baptismal or some other means. As opposed to Santa, who you grew up as a child believing in, but later found out was not real and rejected that previous knowledge (although you secretly wish he WERE real to keep on getting those gifts!).

I was affirmed somewhat today when the first couple of people in the Study came in and they were not liking what they had read. This form of evangelism, where you go up to people and ask about their relationship with Jesus Christ, is a turn off for them as they have had people approach them in this manner. At times it can be offensive. The temperature of this group is one where we demonstrate Christ to others through our lives, actions, outreach, or some other means, and not the overly overt method implied by this study. It may just be what we are comfortable with. We also try and be as authentic as we can, and for outsiders may not look like quote "Christians" overall, but that view is a bad distortion of what Christianity is supposed to look like anyway. Plastic smiles and three piece suits do not a christian make.

So I had to begin the lesson by disclaimer. That both walks are equally valid depending on where you are in life. There is certainly some good to come out of introducing people to Jesus the Christ, there are just differences in how we wish to do this. Some folks were threatening that they would not come to this study if it was going right by the book. I assured them we were not, but we would explore the meaning of Evangelism in the process. It was a lively discussion. I also promised I would preview future studies in the past before signing on to one the church suggests. I should have known better as my church's latest attempts at ministering to the people have failed miserably. But I'm an optimist, damnit.

There are one or two people in this group who came to Christ by being introduced to him by someone else and having the Time & Date moment. I do not wish to minimize their experience. Nor do I like for my experience to be minimized either. The rest of us are still having those moments, where we try and place Jesus where he needs to be daily, as so well put by Endlessly Restless in the comments on the first Saved.

So if you feel compelled to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, please check your approach to people. It would be worse to turn them completely off than to show them Christ by your very being. And to be fair to Bill Hybels, he does use this modified approach, that if the person isn't interested he backs off - but his motive is still there and he just tries another way. Very persistent.

One day I'll blog about the verse in John "the only way to the Father is by me...". Whew, thats a fun one to debate with fundamentalists.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


This topic bothers me. Constantly. I'm not Saved. There, I said it. The truth is out. I have never been saved. Never said the prayer of salvation or four spiritual laws of this or that or read Romans with any conviction whatsoever. Never, never, never.

I have never had a conversion moment. I don't have a day and time where I asked Jesus into my heart. Don't have a moment where I went down to the front of a church and cried on some pastors shoulder and he gets to score another one in the column for souls saved for Jesus. My fundamentalist friends are sure I am going to hell. They say this is the formula. You must accept Jesus into your heart and make him Lord of your life...blah blah blah.

But how can I accept Jesus if I have never Not Accepted Him to begin with? I mean, its like not accepting the air that I breathe. Is that possible? I grew up in a christian home, went to church and sunday school and youth and camps and stuff from infancy to present. Knew about Jesus my whole life. Figured he is part of the family. Pray, listen, led by His prompting, followed the teachings, etc. What's left? So how does one who has always Accepted Jesus, Accept Jesus again to get saved? Its a strange concept to me. I have friends who did not grow up going to church or in a christian home and never really heard about Jesus and later in life was introduced to Him and accepted him then, but that seems to be a totally different thing.

I was at a conference once where the speaker asked the attendees who had a Date and Time experience when they accepted Jesus and who always knew Jesus. It was about 50/50. So I'm trying to figure out why my some folks put so much emphasis on "being saved". Is it purely a denominational thing? Do Baptists follow some pattern that they see being emulated before them in their worship structure. They are the predominate denomination who seems to require this Time and Date thing. I have been told recently that my salvation hangs in the balance because I have not really been saved if I don't have the time and date thing.

Now if you know me or have been reading my blog for a while, you know how I feel about this. Its a bunch of bunk. If someone feels that the process is the important thing, following the right set of rules, then more power to them. I guess I wasn't baptised correctly either. Somehow I have done Christianity all wrong. My theology is wrong. Just living a christian life isn't good enough without the right formulas.

Whats brining this on is that I agreed to teach a study over Bill Hybels book "Just Walk Across the Room". I was warned it is a bit evangelical, but that there is good stuff to be taken from the study. I read the first 2 chapters and reviewed the DVD and its about taking the time to lead someone to Christ, which isn't bad in and of itself, its just the motive. ITS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BRING PEOPLE TO CHRIST AND THE WAY TO DO IT IS TO ASK THEM ABOUT JESUS IN THEIR LIFE AND GET THEM TO ACCEPT HIM AND RECITE THE PRAYER OF SALVATION AND .... Argh@#$%!

I guess I suck at evangelism. I am more in tune with St. Francis of Assisi, paraphrased here "preach the gospel, use words only if you have to." I don't feel it necessary to ask people if they know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savour, cause 1. if they don't they'll think you a nut job cause that terminology makes no sense to non-believers or 2. yeah they do and why is this nut job asking me this? I have had more conversations with people about Jesus and Christianity and changed their worldly walk, and guess what? not once did I bring it up. They come to me. They ask me about my life, walk, whatever and it turns to that. Some start going to church and some stick out their marriages and some say thanks and keep on going... but not once have I felt compelled to say a prayer of salvation with them. If they want to do that its fine with me. That is their personal journey, their faith walk, between them and God. I'm just a middle man.

But my fundamentalist friends persist. They insist they will save me yet. I told 'em someone did that for me over 2000 years ago. If they can top that, more power to 'em.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Angel of Death - A True Story

In Texas we got a saying; "You ain't gonna believe this sh**." But here goes.

A friend of mine's wife works in an ER of a local hospital. He tells me the story wednesday morning of this week.
An elderly lady patient in one of the rooms starts yelling "Help! Help! Help!" over and over. Two or three staff respond, asking her what is wrong. The lady tells them the gentlemen in the next room is about to die and to help him.
Of course, the staff find this odd, as there is a solid wall between them and no way the lady would know anything. Regardless, they walk next door to find the guys vital signs dropping ... so they start to work on him ... he dies.
Yep - dead.
They go back into the room where the lady patient is and ask her the obvious question: "How did you know that the man next door was dying?". She says back to them, "You didn't see the man?" They ask what man. She tells them just before she starting yelling for help, a tall man, dressed all in black wearing a black hat and carrying a big knife in his hand had come into her room. The figure startled her by his appearance, and said "Sorry, wrong room" and turned and went through the wall into the next room. This is when she started yelling for help.

told you that you wouldn't believe this sh** ~npp

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Expelled The Movie

Its about Darwinism and Academia. Ben Stein is behind it. Narrating. I could hear "Bueller?... Bueller?....."

watch the trailer. my interest in peaked.

I think the Theory of Evolution is quite ridiculus. If academia wants to call Creationism a theory as well, thats fine with me also. However, can we not openly debate our theories until they are proven fact? This raises some legit questions: Why is academia so afraid to debate this?

I have thought about evolution before, and just can't rationalize it. I give thought to creation, and though taught this from birth, it still seems more plausible than evolution. Species have probably changed over time, adapted, whatever.... but evolved? from another species? ludicrous.

anyway, thought I'd spark the debate and pass on the trailer..... ~npp

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Resurrection Day

I have no idea how Easter became associated with a "bunny" and what that has to do with colored eggs. There is probably a story that covers the details of this, but I haven't spent any time looking it up.

I am a huge Easter fan. I actually like it better, from a purely christian perspective, than say Christmas. Easter for me is a time of new beginnings, renewal, the end of an old covenant and the entering in of the new. Spring. Life blooming eternal. It is a very spiritual time. "Do This in Rememberance of Me". And I simply love communion at this time of year. This act of bread and wine (or Welch's Grape Juice for you non-drinkers) somehow brings me closer in "communion" with the Christ. Unexplainable as it may be, it is a beautiful thing.

I do not really get so emotional that I start using words like "the blood of the lamb" and "its all about the cross" and things of that nature. I actually am more subdued by it all. I can't relegate it down to a few canned phrases. What I feel cannot be adequately expressed in this manner. It is simply more than I can understand. I remember going to the theater with our church group and watching "The Passion of The Christ" and simply being awestruck. When the movie concluded, somehow it felt disrespectful or at least inappropriate to just get up and leave. I physically remained in my seat for several minutes contemplating what I had just watched and experienced. Somehow it was more than the typical Easter Sunday Sermon that you normally get. It brought reality to this story. Showed what real Passion (suffering) was like. Made me realize that when we used to sing, with gusto, "Are Ye Able Said the Master, to be crucified with me" ... well the sturdy dreamers may have answered yes, but after seeing the reality of it - I would probably have to say no. It would be unlikely I could suffer the fate of Jesus. Even though more deserving in a theological sense, it is much to high a price for me.

So I do not go to church on Easter. Have not for years. I know, it seems kind of out of sync, but I do not. Each year I go camping in the Piney Woods of East Texas with several family members. I walk the trails early in the morning, while the sun forces its rays through the morning sky and penetrates deep into the forest. The dogwood blooms are everywhere here, and they are a reminder of the crucifixion. I am alone with the God of the Universe. We are close here. Much closer than if I were in the Sanctuary. I leave that place for those "Christians" who want to show up on "special days". We call them CMEs...Christmas, Mother's Day & Easter Christians.

So I leave you this weekend, away from this computer and my occupation, and I go to the place where I find God each and every year. And I remember. And am thankful. "Do This in Rememberance of Me".

Happy Resurrection Day! ~npp

Monday, March 10, 2008


Do you remember when you were little, and your parents or someone else would tell you that God is watching everything you do? Like Santa Claus and his list of naughty and nice kids. Man, I was always paranoid about this. Especially in my hormone-raging teenage years when I was, uh, exploring the beauty of God's most beautiful and arousing creation - girls!

I got a list of things I figure I'm going to be questioned on when I get up there.
Okay, the house lights go down, Cue me coming on stage from the right with a single light following my person - loud thunderous noise and Cue up God setting in a big ol' chair center stage, with St. Peter beside him operating a power point projection showing one screw up scene from my life after another. St. Peter saying " please explain Sheila and the lakehouse incident." "Please explain pouring salt on a that snail". "Please explain lying to the teacher about the goat eating your homework"... it goes on and on and on. My mouth is wide open. Dang it - He saw all of that.

So I used to try and counter my "mistakes" with some good stuff, you know, like going to church (even when I didn't want to), holding doors open for old ladies, staying awake during history class, you know, the important stuff. That way, when God has me center-stage, I got "yeah, but didn't you see that other stuff too?". I mean, what is this, a one-way street, you only catch the bad stuff?

I had a boss like that. I worked in a grocery store in high school, carrying out groceries, stocking shelves, that kind of thing. I would work after school and every saturday as well. Always working or doing something... but the one time I would get a Coke and a snack, and set down for a break, inevitably the Assistant Manager would walk up. Also had a coach like that. I couldn't hit the ball in baseball, but when I did, he would always be looking the other way. No credit for the good stuff.

Somewhere along my journey, the concept of forgiveness crept into my litte consciousness. We always HEAR about forgiveness, mainly that we are to forgive others, (which is a very healthy thing for us to do) but we hear little about forgiving ourselves. I would ask God for forgiveness for Sheila at the lakehouse or pouring salt on that snail, but I would never really expect it. The formula was to ask. So I did. Jesus says "to love your neighbor as yourself". Dang, thats hard to do when you don't love yourself because of all the baggage, whatever it is, that we still carry.

I think it was my Emmaus Walk that the concept finally set in and held. It is about Grace. Totally. I never got it before. I am one that doesn't except Grace well. You know, something free has to have a catch. And yep, sure enough, Grace does have a catch. Or at least it does for me. I have to accept it. I have to admit I'm not perfect, never will be, and God isn't up there just watching the BAD STUFF. He is watching ALL THE STUFF - GOOD AND BAD. And He loves us just the same.

So I look stage left, and que up my children while the power point presentation of my screw-ups fade to darkness. They are great kids. They make mistakes. They will pour salt on snails and have homework issues and god forbid, lakehouse incidents. And I will catch them, cause thats what I do. I will also love them, cause thats who I am. And that is who God is. I am forgiven. And I forgive myself.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hi. I'm Jesus Christ and I approve this message.

In light of the political season and the advertising that comes with it, I wonder if Jesus would have a commercial. Who would pay for it? You know... "this political advertisement paid for by strangely warm sensitive human beings who are basically screwed up but have a relationship with Jesus, who is totally cool with their wierdness". Well, maybe the commercial would have soundbites like this:

cut and paste to browser cause I'm obviously not smart enough to insert the link.
enjoy! ~npp