Category: Faith

Witness Well

Why do men hate going to church?

The real reason most men don’t go to church in America is that they are already practicing the religion called masculinity. Everything a man does is designed to prove to the world that he is a man. The religion of masculinity demands that a man avoids anything that might call his manhood into question. Men believe deep in their heart that church is something for women and children, not for me.

“Rough-and-tumble” men can be categorized as tough, earthy, risk-takers, visionary, and high achievers. These guys just don’t seem to fit in with the quiet, introspective gentlemen who tend to populate the church today. Many of these men don’t come because they desire to be transformed by Christ, but because they enjoy participating in comforting rituals that have changed little since their childhood. The culture of today’s churches values safety over risk, stability over change, preservation over expansion, and predictability over adventure.  

For instance, what movies do men and women like to watch? Men enjoy adventure films, women like romances. Men fantasize about saving the world against impossible odds and women fantasize about having a relationship with a wonderful man. What does the church today emphasize? Relationships — a personal relationship with Jesus and healthy relationships with others. By focusing on relationships, churches partners with women to fulfill their deepest longings. Very few churches model men’s values which include risk and reward, accomplishment, heroic sacrifice, action, and adventure.

A man finds churches dull for the same reasons why he finds chick-flicks dull.  A man has no desire to fall in love with a wonderful man, even one named Jesus. Is the purpose of the Christian life to find a happy relationship with a wonderful man, or is it to save the world against impossible odds? 

Men want to succeed in everything they do. Competence is very important to us. This is why men don’t stop and ask for directions. When it comes to doing church, men feel incompetent. We don’t possess the natural gifts that make a good churchgoer. We are not expressive, verbal, or sensitive. We are not very good teachers, nor do we like to sing expressions of love and devotion. We are uncomfortable praying aloud or holding hands with strangers.

Women, on the other hand, are great at doing church. They have caring hearts, relationship skills, and emotional sensitivity. They are great at relating, emoting, nurturing and offering verbal expression. Since women are so much better at doing church, men don’t even try to compete. 

Men need to be needed. If only Christianity required risk taking, boldness, aggression, and heroic sacrifice – competitive environments that allow men to reach for greatness — maybe men can start to find our place in church. 

Today’s churches have great difficulty convincing men to drop their remote controls for a couple of hours a week. The good news is that Jesus is alive today. God wants to speak to men, if only the church will let Him.    

[Taken from a very interesting book entitled, “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow (pgs. 3-17).  To learn more about David and his ministry, please visit www.churchformen.com.]

How great is our God?

Once in a while, you come across a message that speaks right to your heart and soul. I happened to watch a DVD entitled, “How Great is Our God?” by Louie Giglio. It is a wonderful presentation on the wonders of God especially when we examine the universe and how God put our body together. The following are a few notes that were compiled from the presentation:

Why God demands Christians to forgive

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

Those who profess a faith in Christ ought to extend the fruit of forgiveness. This is what God expects. If we refuse to forgive, we are saying that people need to atone for or suffer the consequences of their sins before they can be forgiven. By refusing to forgive, we are choosing not to believe or trust in God’s promise of total forgiveness.

We are provided an example of the fruit of forgiveness in Christ when he is on the cross. He prays, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” A forgiven soul has a forgiving spirit. Even when people have wronged us, we extend the branch of forgiveness because this is what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.

A true faith is revealed in our spirit of forgiveness. And this is really important and the purpose for which God demands it from professing Christians. God wants to display His forgiveness through us. We are not our own. God’s presence dwells within us. Christians represent Christ and bring his presence throughout the world. 

Our fruits of forgiveness can be revealed in whatever circumstances he places before us in our lives; whether it be in family relationships or at work. Walking with Christ recognizes that our Lord is in control of every moment and nothing enters into our lives without His permission. Sometimes the Lord places us in very difficult circumstances which may require our forgiveness.  Then, it is the Spirit within us that allows us to respond the way God expects and desires for us to respond. 

Where in the Bible does it say Jesus was God in human form?

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58) Jesus is affirming that he was God in flesh. He is the great “I AM” – the Eternal One who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14)

What makes the Bible special than any other holy book?

Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed Word of God. Even though it was written by men, the ultimate author was God. This claim was not invented by the Church, but a claim the Bible makes for itself.

Who am I?

Who Am I?
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I?  They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house. 

Who am I?  They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command. 

Who am I?   They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win. 

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all. 

Who am I?  This or the Other?
Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another?
Am I both at once?  A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I?  They mock me,
these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!  

I RISE TODAY: An Old Celtic Prayer

I RISE TODAY:  An Old Celtic Prayer 

I rise today
in the power’s strength,
invoking the Trinity
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator. 

I rise today
in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of his crucifixion and burial,
in the power of his rising and ascending,
in the power of his descending and judging. 

I rise today
in the power of the love of cherubim,
in the obedience of angels and service of archangels,
in hope of rising to receive the reward,
in the prayers of patriarchs,
in the predictions of the prophets,
in the preaching of apostles,
in the faith of confessors,
in the innocence of holy virgins,
in the deeds of the righteous. 

I rise today
in heaven’s might,
in sun’s brightness
in moon’s radiance,
in fire’s glory,
in lightning’s quickness,
in wind’s swiftness,
in sea’s depth,
in earth’s stability,
in rock’s fixity.

I rise today
with the power of God to pilot me,
God’s strength to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look ahead for me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to protect me,
God’s way before me,
God’s shield to defend me,
God’s host to deliver me, from snares of devils, from evil temptations, from nature’s failing, from all who wish to harm me, far or near, alone and in a crowd. 

Around me I gather today
all these powers against every cruel and merciless force
to attack my body and soul,
against the charms of false prophets,
the black laws of paganism,
the false laws of heretics,
the deceptions of idolatry,
against spells cast by women, smiths, and druids,
and all unlawful knowledge that harms the body and soul. 

May Christ protect me today
against poison and burning,
against drowning and wounding,
so that I may have abundant reward;
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me;
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me,
Christ to the left of  me;
Christ in my lying,
Christ in my sitting,
Christ in my rising;
Christ in the heart of all who think of me,
Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me,
Christ in the eye of all  who see me,
Christ in the ear of all who hear me. 

I rise today
in power’s strength,
invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness,
confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator. 

For the Lord belongs salvation,
and to the Lord belongs salvation
and to Christ belongs salvation. 

May your salvation, Lord, be with us always. 

“Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.”Old Irish, eighth-century prayer 

The most famous Celtic prayer shows why the Celts are known for exalting both creation and the Creator. 

Prayer from Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie, “Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources” (SPCK, 1995)

Comprehending the sobering reality of eternal hell

Sometimes a person will say, “I don’t mind going to hell because all of my friends are going there anyway.” Or, another person may state, “A loving God would never send anyone to hell.” The Bible makes is pretty clear that there is an eternal existence of hell and it’s someplace that you want to avoid at all costs.   

To begin to comprehend the reason or person behind the existence of hell, you have to keep in mind the definition of a perfect judge. For instance, if a judge looked the other way from the activities of a notorious gang, ignoring their crime and murder, would he or she be a good judge or a bad judge? In the minds of most citizens, this would be a good example of a bad judge. If he or she would be a good judge, then they would do everything possible to make sure that any guilty part would be justly punished. 

If God sees a man strangle to death a friend or loved one, do you think He should look the other way or bring that murderer to justice? It makes sense, that if God is good, He will do everything in his power to ensure justice is done. The Bible tells us that God will punish murderers and that place of punishment is called hell.

In fact, since God is perfect, He will also punish thieves, liars, adulterers, and blasphemers. He will even punish those who have had desires to murder, steal or commit adultery, but never took the opportunity. God even warns us that by hating someone, then we commit murder in our hearts. If we lust, we commit adultery in our hearts. And these are just a few examples. 

Many people have a hard time grasping the reality of hell. I have seen film images and read descriptions of hell as being a hedonistic, pleasure-filled place where a person can engage in all the sensual sins that are forbidden. However, Jesus says that hell is a place of torment where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched (Matthew 9:43-44). I can’t imagine the horror of being in agony with no hope of relief.

People have gone insane if they are merely isolated for a long time from other people. Imagine how terrible it would be if God withdrew all the things we hold so dear – friendship, love, color, light, peace, joy, laughter, and security.  Hell isn’t just a place with an absence of God’s blessings, it is punishment for sin. It is literal torment forever. All the biblical descriptions of hell clearly reveal a place that anybody would want to avoid at all costs.

For all these reasons, God wants us to know the law as written in the Bible.  He desires for us to be completely aware that we cannot, nor can we ever, measure up to God’s standards. Being good isn’t good enough. To be in the presence of a holy God, we need to be perfect. Anything less than perfect is cast out of God’s presence.

Since we are not perfect, God has supplied us with a substitute. That substitute is Jesus Christ, who took up our punishment on the cross. By believing in Jesus Christ, we receive the full forgiveness from God; are adopted as His children, and will live with him forever. Those who reject God’s grace receive the full brunt of the law without any pardon. That is the action of a good, loving and a perfectly just God.