About langdon

Race in America – how do we make things better ?

There are few areas of culture where it is easier to be misunderstood than the issue of race relations. We all can be tone deaf to the way other people hear our words. I see this on all sides, and I know I have my own blind spots. And it is exactly when we are feeling raw emotions that we are most likely to assume the worst about the intent behind our neighbor’s words and actions. I am open to learning from others and realize that my life experience gives me a particular skewed view. So please do reach out to me if you would like to have a conversation after reading this post.

If someone dealt with oppression day in and day out, and no matter how hard they tried, nothing ever seemed to change… and if they tried playing by the rules but then became convinced the rules were rigged… wouldn’t any sane person in that situation then say “Enough is Enough!” If any person of any color became convinced that the law of the land is not applied fairly or equally, that some crimes are overlooked while others are severely punished, wouldn’t they also come to a point where they say “Enough is Enough!”

It is beyond obvious that racism is evil, a sin against God (who made everyone of us in His image) and a sin against humanity. It is as ugly as human attitudes and behaviors get. But once we all agree to that, then what? How do we actually make things better ? I am totally convinced that the posturing of the right and the posturing of the left are actually making the situation worse. It is always the shrillest voices on both extremes that get the most social media coverage. And then we are tempted to assume that all the people “on the other side” have the same hateful hearts as those with the shrillest voices. It’s not true. We don’t need more self-righteous pontificating, we need solutions that move us together towards equal justice under the law. But that is not as straight forward as some would claim.

Racism is only one head of the Hydra of Hatred. There are lots of ways to hate people. If, in your effort to chop off the head of Racism, you end up producing two more heads of hate, you haven’t helped the situation. You have to starve the entire Hydra. We need liberty and justice for all. And frankly that is all you can expect of your neighbors – an approximate, imperfect attempt at liberty and justice for all. No more. Those neighbors of yours, the ones with different colored skin – they are wretched, broken, fallen sinners – just like you. Just like me. They will never get it all right. An approximation of justice is all that can be expected. But just to reach that requires constant vigilance because, since we all are sinners, oppression of the minority by the majority and oppression of the weak by the powerful will ALWAYS be a problem. Why ? Because human sin will always be a problem. We will always drift towards oppression of someone. We will constantly have to be reforming – just to avoid losing ground in the fight against racism. And we don’t want to settle for the state of affairs we have right now. So what should we do ?

Give each other slack and mercy

Some are lecturing us about how we are not being patriotic enough and that we hate America if we dare to protest. Others are lecturing us about how we are not woke enough and that we hate black people if we don’t protest. Enough. Enough litmus tests. Enough shaming. Think of this. One aspect of the horror of real slavery in this country was the idea that one person could control another person, put them in their place. Tell them what to do. Make them subservient. Make them comply. A lot of the rhetoric on the right and the left echoes this same spirit. Insisting on a 100% “purity” in one’s stance leads to only one thing: resentment and more hatred. Another head of the Hydra begins to rise. To put it plainly, we need to begin with the premise “You are not the boss of me!” and “I am not the boss of you!” Unless we start with the premise that our neighbors will never get it perfectly right, that our neighbors will never be the pristine perfect example of whatever it is we think they should be, we will never get ahead. We will just continue to slide backwards towards the abyss. In other words, we need to give each other some slack and a lot of mercy. In 1st Peter 4:8-9 he says:

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Love covers a multitude of sins. Your neighbor is a sinner and so are you. Give them some slack, give them some mercy, give them some hospitality. Don’t assume the worst of their intentions or actions or words. Is there a time to call someone out ? Yes. But it is far, far more rare than we want to think. If you are spending more time calling people out then you are spending time living out 1 Peter 4:8-9… you have a problem, for Hebrews 12:14 says:

Make every effort to live in peace with all men…

That includes ones you don’t like. That includes ones you think are ignorant and need straightening out.

Focus on solutions, not “virtue signaling”

Let me give you just one example of someone who I think is doing a great job at focusing on solutions rather than pronouncements. A member of my extended family just made a post on Facebook. He is a young black man who makes some very practical suggestions. You might not agree with every point he makes, but how many of these could you agree to ? Watch the video he refers to. Again, I don’t agree 100% with that guy either, (see my comments there) but I think he too is on to something. We can make things better for everyone in our country. We can get much closer to “Liberty and Justice for All” We can get much closer to blind justice where all are considered equal under the law and treated fairly. If you are interested in a civil discussion on systemic solutions (not lectures on what “those people” ought to think or do), please do post your ideas. And please join me in prayer for our brothers and sisters of every beautiful shade of skin and for the peace and prosperity of of the country we share.

Finally, before I get to Tony’s policy ideas, I want to point to the ultimate source of hope for these troubled times. Exactly because of our sinful nature discussed above, there is no legislation, no policy that will fix things completely or permanently. We get one thing fixed, and then just like a parasite, Sin just finds another host (issue) to fester in. The primary change that is needed is the change of the human heart. We need the power of God’s Holy Spirit to do that. We need the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives, including our politics, including how we talk to people we disagree with. Let us seek the leading and the power of God’s Holy Spirit in this time – that we might become instruments for good in His hands.

Tony’s Post

Y’all I usually don’t do this, but its been weighing on me for a couple days that I need to do something. Say something. Any one who knows me knows I’m generally a solutions person. I try my best not to complain for the sake of complaining. Once again we’ve let a few people on either side of the issue, hijack the conversation. We aren’t having the conversation that really needs to be had. So this is my attempt at refocusing the discussion. We need systemic change. If nothing else, decades have proven that it wont start from the top. Its gotta start with us.

With that in mind, Below are some thoughts that I have that will introduce some change in the system for the positive regarding black communities, the public at large, and police communities. I invite anyone who sees fit to engage in the comments in a strictly constructive manner. These thoughts are in no particular order of importance and are by no means exhaustive. READ THE WHOLE POST FIRST. Don’t skim, don’t cherry pick. Read it. Understand it. Internalize it.

Know that this comes from a deep place of caring as well as a deep place of hurt. I’m not here to talk about one incident in particular. I’m not here to talk about politics. I’m here to talk about solutions. Im here to attempt to facilitate positive change.

-End the war on drugs- The war on drugs is inherently and explicitly a racist policy. President Nixon and multiple advisors are on the record saying such. Beyond that, Its a completely failed proposition. Its made zero impact over decades and at this point has fallen victim to the Sunken Cost Fallacy.

-Legalize Marijuana (use, sale, possession, Everything) No matter where you stand on the use of Marijuana, there is plenty of research out there that suggests it isn’t the harmful substance we’ve been led to believe. And that in fact it even has some measurable health benefits. Legalize it, tax it, regulate it just like alcohol and tobacco. This is a no brain-er to me.
Decriminalize all drugs for possession (personal use). Yes ALL OF THEM. Decriminalization and legalization are 2 different concepts. If you want more information, don’t be lazy. Look it up. We shouldn’t criminalize addiction. We should treat it as the mental and public health crisis that it is. Instead of sending addicts to PRISON, we should send them to TREATMENT. They are very different things. Studies have shown that it is less costly to treat a drug addict then to incarcerate them. All the while, incarceration has the added net negative of labeling someone as a felon and significantly limiting their ability to provide for themselves and their families once they are released.

-Stop and frisk. This ones pretty self explanatory. If you need anymore information just see Mike Bloombergs (and others) statements and the countless studies that show this policy disproportionately affects and targets young black men.

Disciplinary review board. This one is all about Police accountability. Its clear to me that Internal affairs is failing. In too many cases of excessive force that make it as far as mass media coverage, we hear that the officer has multiple complaints if excessive force filed against them. In the George Floyd case, one officer had as many as 18. No I get it, when your working with the public, its bound to happen. You cant please everyone and some people are just petty. But 18? I think we can all agree thats way too many. An external review board made up disproportionately of members of the public that officers serve would help solve this problem.

-Separate office for investigation and charging of public servants(like internal affairs but outside the government chain of command). In far too many cases, we see the proprietorial and charging decisions in cases like this, left up to the Same District attorneys, and grand Juries that these officers go to work with every day. I know that offices of Internal affairs exist. But put frankly, they dont seem to be getting the job done.

-Make community service part of academy training and An ongoing requirement. So many officers end up policing neighborhoods and populations they don’t know or understand. The lack of familiarity leads to misunderstanding and mistrust. Having officers in regular contact with neighborhood faith leaders and community members could be an easy way for officers and the community to reconnect themselves with one another. Ingratiating officers to the community and making them a mainstay in the community outside of there uniform will make them appear as part of the community they serve, rather then an occupying force.

-Body cameras. Duh They’re for Citizens protection as well as officer protection. They should be a mandatory part of the uniform. Further, if an officer has and incident and the body camera is not functioning properly, it should result in disciplinary action. Officers would never walk the beat without there Gun being properly serviced. Cameras should be the same way. Body camera footage should be easily requested and acceptable to a review board, and ideally the public at large via a FOIA request, or equivalent mechanism.

-Reform/revisit legal authorities for serving of warrants. Especially no knock warrants. Officers especially should be outraged by this practice. They put you and the public you serve at risk. Too many instances where these warrants are served on the wrong address occur. Officers go rushing in and are face to face with people who think a home invasion is happening. It puts Civilians in a position for force to be used, and officers in a position where they can either be shot, or shoot an innocent. The standard of evidence needed to execute one of these warrants should be significantly higher. A simple last known address search shouldn’t be the standard. I know all about intel gathering and analysis. I do it for a living. Proper levels would severely limit these occurrences.

-End cash bail system. This system unduly penalizes being poor. And unfortunately that disproportionately affects minorities, who as we know are magnitudes more likely to encounter police and are arrested at significantly higher rates because of it. People sit in jail for weeks, months, or years because they don’t possess the means (be it cash, or collateral) to post bail. Its also an undue burden on the prison system and tax payer dollars.

NOTE: On the point above, Tony and his friend had the following exchange:
CHRIS: Agree 1000% with everything you said except maybe the cash bail comment. Folks accused of serious crimes have a huge incentive to flee which means we have to re-catch them while they are on the lamb. They also continue crime sprees on the lamb. I know cash bail if flawed but its the best we got in lieu of something better. I have always felt the way you did about drugs dating back to high school in the 80's. Kurt Schmoke suggested this back then when he was mayor of Bmore

TONY:  I agree. Thanks for the Clarification. I guess I should make a distinction between violent and nonviolent crimes. I wrote this post with a heavy skew towards the non-violent. Murders, rapes, kidnappings. these things don't really apply to them. Assaults are case by case basis thing for me. If your in a fist fight, you dont deserve to have your life ruined. If you pull a knife or gun. thats a different story. If your Jump someone or unduly injure, or Maim.

Sentencing reform- We say that our system is supposed to rehabilitate people. In actuality it becomes a hot bed for recidivism. We incarcerate people for all kinds of things, label them a felon, take away there voting rights for the rest of their life. Then when they get out of prison, we throw them back on the street where they cant get a Job because we’ve marked them, and have no ability to provide for themselves in a meaningful way. Then were surprised when they resort to further criminal activity. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and we need to stop allowing it to happen. All in all we need structural reform. We need to limit the public interaction with law enforcement. We need to explore and expand alternative punishment that allows people to avoid incarceration where possible.And we need to give people the tools to truly rehabilitate themselves and become productive members of society.

If you made it this far, I applaud you. Its a lot, but again its not exhaustive. I know its filled with mistakes an typos since I typed this on my phone over lunch. Hopefully they aren’t to distracting and didn’t affect comprehension. I’m looking for input here. We need to come together because our “leadership” (all of them) isnt just asleep at the wheel, they jump out of the car while its still moving. So it has to start with us. Like I said, Please feel free to engage in conversation in my comments. I’m happy to do so. But don’t come in there with that bullshit. Keep it serious. Keep it civil. No gotchas. No what about isms. No sarcasm. No Tom Foolery, Buffoonery, Or general childishness. Lets keep in productive. Make a suggestion. Tell me where I got it wrong. Add some nuance. Ask for clarification.

Thank Yall and God Bless.

EDIT:
****** I just want to add That I know I have friends on here that are Officers. Know that I value your input and encourage it. You need to be part of the solution as well. If you feel like you want to contribute, but dont want to make yourself a target given the current climate. I completely understand. Feel free to PM me with any thoughts or to engage in conversation. BUT, I request that you allow me to add your thoughts to the discussion anonymously. I’m all about building trust here.*******

For anybody who cares or is still paying attention. I watched this this morning when I was busy not sleeping. I think its a solid Idea. Hit them where it hurts. The money and the funding. I think 1 offense is probably a little harsh and there should probably be a probationary period or something to that affect, but I like the spirit of the idea. I’ll also say, I like alot of this guys perspectives regarding policing. Not all, But alot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M71z6K7IkjU

NOTE:  On the video above Tony and I had the following exchange:
LANGDON: I had the exact same reaction - great general principal but it needs to feel fair to all - including officers who have an unbelievably difficult job, so maybe like Probation on first finding by commission, 3 strikes and you are out.
TONY:  I think that the goal for me is to make the job of officers easier and ultimately safer. that will also result in making the public at large safer.

Why worship at home ?

As a church, we deeply value the fellowship, the physical contact, and the corporate worship that happens when we are all gathered together in one place on Sunday mornings. The decision to temporarily transfer worship services from a public gathering to an on-line resource was not an easy one prior to recent developments. The diagram below illustrates that one of the key issues how fast the infection spreads. If the same amount of people are infected but at a much slower rate, it is less likely that our hospitals and other medical resources will be overwhelmed. One of the best ways of slowing the infection rate is reducing the number of large group gatherings.

Graph showing the value of social distancing during a pandemic as a way to "flatten the curve"
As Christians we are called to love our neighbors and put their needs above our own. In this current season of the Coronavirus, we want to play our part to keep our city safe. Choosing not to gather for Worship this Sunday is our small gift to our neighbors and our city – our way of contributing to the effort to slow the speed at which the virus spreads.
This Sunday morning there will be an on-line LEVERINGTON worship service available to you and your family. It will address the fear and worry many feel and it will include music, prayer, and a continuation of our sermon series. Simply go to https://levpres.org/home-church/ anytime this Sunday to join us. It won’t exactly be Oscar material, but we hope it will be a blessing. 🙂

If you know someone from our congregation who does not have internet access, please consider having them over to join you to worship in your home. Perhaps you may have neighbors who could be blessed by joining us. There may be ways we can do more for our neighbors in the weeks ahead, and we will keep you apprised. If you have needs, contact us at Office@levpres.org.  As we go one day at a time, you can always see our latest church status and updates at https://levpres.org/coronavirus-update/

Enneagram – Really ?!

Our church is committed to dealing with the ideas and movements that people are actually talking about in our day. The Enneagram (a way of understanding different personality types) is such a thing. Whether you are excited about the Enneagram or are concerned that this is one more navel-gazing distraction from the gospel at best, or dabbling in the occult at worst, this post is for you.

Self-awareness is crucial knowledge – not only for your own wellness but for the wellness of others AND your obedience to God. Consider this analogy – if you are unware of where you are physically, if you a driving a car at 60 miles an hour but you actually dont know which side of the road you are driving on – you are not only a danger to yourself, you are a danger to everyone else in your path. Similarly, if you lack self-awareness about your own personality and how other people experience you, you are not only going to have a more miserable life, you are going to make other people miserable as well. This means that you are violating one of the many dimensions of the command of Jesus “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you are oblivious to how your decisions and behaviors impact your neighbor, you cannot love them well.

The Enneagram is not magic, it is not scripture, it is not the final word on what makes human beings tick. Rather it is one of many imperfect man-made tools available for trying to get a handle on the landscape of personalities. Like any other cultural fad, some people are WAY too much into the Enneagram, it can almost become a sub-culture of “my people” and that is no good at all. You can get so obssesed with trying to pamper or figure yourself out, or getting to the next “break through” that you become self-absorbed and so no worldly good to anyone else at all. At the other extreme, some people are highly skeptical of any sort of psychological insight, completely unwilling to being open to the possibility that their own current vision is not 20/20 – and that is no good either. That is simply foolishness and arrogance. If you think you have it all figured out, what need do you have of scripture ? What more does God’s Holy Spirit have to say to you ? How could God ever convict you or take you beyond the horizon of your current sight ?

Whatever the Enneagram means to other groups, and however it is used by other people, we can tell you exactly how we are using it here at Leverington. I remember sitting in a seminary class where the professor was sharing some things I found very helpful, but also saying other things I found downright heretical. After class I was frustrated (OK, angry), and I asked one of my African brothers how he dealt with it. He said “It is like eating fish – I eat the meat, but I spit out the bones.” This is the same stance we take towards the Enneagram – we are sharing the parts we think are helpful and true, which are in keeping with the teachings of scripture, and ignoring the rest. Our focus is not on this particular model, but rather on getting a handle on the wants, needs, desires, fears, and beliefs that actually motivate us. Each Sunday we begin with a biblical character that illustrates a certain tendency and then we end with scripture that can challenge and encourage us to be mastered by God rather than just the default ways of behaving we picked up somewhere along the way.

It is obvious that we are all tempted in different, sometimes opposite directions. One person thinks to much of themselves and needs to learn humility. Another person thinks too little of themselves and needs to learn how precious they are in God’s eyes. All of us drift away from Jesus in different directions. We will use the Enneagram to help us spot the particular ways each of us drift from Jesus and the life he would have for us. We hope you can join us! Please see the schedule on this website.

Harry Potter ? Really ?!

Why on earth is a Christian church talking about Harry Potter ?

Our church sees benefit in both practical, topical sermon series and verse by verse sermon series through a book of the Bible, so we take turns doing both. For example, we have just completed a wonderful journey through every verse of the book of Ephesians, and after Easter we will be starting a topical sermon series entitled “Harry Potter meets Jesus.” For some of our folks (especially the generation that grew up with Harry) this will be exciting news. For others, not so much. Some might ask “Why bring into the church of Jesus Christ illustrations from a secular book and movie series, especially one that talks about magic and spells?”

I myself tend to lean on the ‘better safe than sorry’ side when it comes to entertaining stories that might subtly lead people astray with underlying false messages. I was personally quite skeptical and hesitant about this series until I read all seven books. They turned out to be wonderful opportunities to talk with our (then young) children about good and evil, morality, and how we should treat other people. But there are profound lessons for adults in these stories too!

So why is our church pursuing this path ?

My short answer would be two-fold:

First, it is possible to help a person “re-frame” an image, a song, or a story so that it points beyond itself to the truths of the gospel. When this happens, then every subsequent time that person encounters that thing in culture, it reminds them of Jesus. It is actually a way of creating signposts in the culture, in people’s everyday lives, can point them towards the real story of redemption.

Second, all the great teachers of the Bible, including Jesus himself, met people where they were, and used cultural artifacts that people would readily understand in their teaching. Their goal was to start with things that people cared about, things that were an intimate part of their culture, and then use those things to move people to the deeper truths of the Gospel. In regards to that last point, for people of a certain age, it would be hard to find a more prevalent or foundational current cultural artifact than the Harry Potter series. It is the best-selling book series of all time. Author Connie Neal argues “Never before in the history of the world and literary experience have so many been united as a human family – despite differences in age, gender, ethnicity, culture, politics, nationality, or religion – by a series of books read globally and simultaneously in 65 languages.”

The author of the series, J. K. Rowling, considers herself an Anglican Christian. So it makes sense that many of the most moving scenes and profound ideas in the series:  life after death, the battle between good and evil, choosing love over hate, forgiveness, the seduction that comes with power, choosing to lay down one’s life to save others, the evil of arrogance and prejudice, thankfulness for the simple things of this life – are all echoes of the truths originally taught in the Bible. She said she chose not to reveal the intentional Christian parallels in the beginning of the series because doing so would have “given too much away to fans who might then see the parallels.” Rowling goes on to say that life beyond death and resurrection theology are clear in the two bible verses referenced in the story (Matthew 6:19, 1 Corinthians 15:26), and that these two verses “epitomize the whole series.”

When it comes to the hard but worthwhile work of redeeming and re-framing those fragments of popular culture that can be redeemed, I suggest we follow two guiding scriptures.

The first one is “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5 God is the sole author of all truth, and in His sovereignty He has seen fit to give some artists the ability to enflesh truths in stories so that they can pierce our dull hearts and moves us towards more obedient lives.

The second scripture comes from Jesus when his disciples were suspicious of the deeds and words of someone they were unfamiliar with. Jesus said to them: “Whoever is not against us is for us.” – Mark 9:40 There is much that gets a free pass in the church that is not true Christianity at all. And paradoxically (due to God’s common grace), there is much in the world and culture that points us to Him if we only have eyes to see. I think the Harry Potter story is not against the gospel, and in fact can serve as an on-ramp towards it.

For those who love the Harry Potter series, I ask you to think of this as a very unique opportunity to invite friends to church. This will be fun and challenging and Biblical. If not for this, then when?!

For those of you who have no interest in Harry Potter, I have good news! These sermons won’t require any previous knowledge of these books. They will feel like a typical sermon centered on a scriptural text that includes a helpful illustration that happens to be a scene from a popular movie or book. As always our goal is to meet people where they are and lead them to the King of Kings. Or as our church mission states it “to intentionally help other people encounter the kingdom of God.” The series will be primarily about friendships and relationships – how to create and keep healthy, God-honoring relationships in a world where people are becoming more and more isolated. Whether you are excited or skeptical at the prospect of this series – I would love to talk with you about it to hear your perspective. Please do pray that God would use this effort to draw people who are far from him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!



Ted Talks #3 If God is real, why does God allow evil and suffering ?

Our last FRED Talk deals with the hardest question of all:  If God is all powerful and all loving, how could God possibly allow the horrible things that happen in this world ?  Why doesn’t God stop them ?   This talk looks at the various ways people have tried to understand this dilemma and comes to a conclusion that is brutally honest and realistic yet still full of real hope that comes from the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

The Problem No One Wants To Talk About

The Pornography Paradox:

Porn Is Simultaneously More Criticized and More Popular Than Ever

There are so many problems with porn; it’s hard to pick just one.

Some people think it sounds up-tight and old fashioned to make such a big deal about pornography.  But a pastor, I am deeply concerned about this problem that none of us wants to talk about.   I am convinced it is doing far more to damage our minds, our relationships, and even our ability to enjoy sex than than we realize.   We are talking about the potential for life long misery. Just this week I talked with a man (not from our church) that struggles with pornography.  He pointed to his head and said “The images are in here forever.  I have been emotionally distant from my wife for years because of it and I am racked with guilt.  It doesn’t go away.”  For either an audio or video podcast on this topic, google “Surf At Your Own Risk  John Ortberg.”  The following is from an article that was written by Halee Gray Scott in Christianity Today.[i]

 

___________________________________________________________________________

This spring, Utah became the first state to declare pornography a public health crisis, calling on businesses and educators to protect children from it. Around the same time, a Time Magazine cover story story reported that porn causes erectile dysfunction in young men whose minds have marinated in X-rated clips from the time they were teenagers.

Pornography trains the user to seek more extreme sexual experiences to receive the same satisfying flood of dopamine. It’s what researchers call the Coolidge effect—the prospect of a new sexual partner excites males (and sometimes females) so much that normal sexual activity becomes boring by comparison.

Time focused on how porn usage prevents couples from having healthy sex lives. That’s only the beginning of a troubling and growing amount of research and trends. We’re learning more and more about the lasting impact of living in a world wired to a porn-saturated Internet.

When I was a teenager in the 1990s, when the Internet was in its infancy and all cell phones were “dumb,” churches’ major concern regarding sexual matters was premarital sex. In 1993, teens had to steal magazines or VHS tapes to view porn; today, all they need is an Internet connection. While the evidence continues to reveal negative effects of this multibillion-dollar industry, few secular commentators dare to say what many of us see: our porn problem is a moral problem, with drastic consequences for individuals and communities.

Studies have linked porn consumption to depression and higher drug and alcohol consumption. Researchers in Germany found that men who watch porn showed a weaker connection between the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and the part of the brain involved in memory storage and information processing. A wave of “pornified” advertisements, depicting women in erotic poses selling everyday products, lead both men and women to view women’s bodies differently—and certainly not more humanly.

Aside from the neurological consequences, science has unpacked a plethora of sociological effects. Pornography negatively shapes romantic relationships; one study found that women in relationships with men who use porn report being less happy than those with men who abstain. Research in a dozen countries showed that men who viewed pornography when they were boys were less likely to form healthy relationships and more likely to think sexual harassment was acceptable.

At the same time that researchers are unearthing porn’s tolls, Americans have grown more tolerant of it. According to an extensive study conducted by Barna Group, only half of US adults and one-third of teens and young adults thought pornography was “wrong.” Teens and young adults believe not recycling is more immoral than using porn. Barna found porn use is up among Christians, too. Some 41 percent of Christian men ages 13–24 and 23 percent of Christian men ages 25 and up said they “frequently” used porn. (The figures were 5 percent and 13 percent for Christian women in those age groups.)

Porn isn’t just an individual moral problem. It strikes to the heart of what it means to be human.

Porn advocates argue that pornography feeds our innate and uncontrollable instincts, and that healthy adults should explore those instincts freely. Christians know better. We are right to exhort each other to make every thought captive to Christ and to live into our new life in him.

 

[i] Reprinted by permission from Christianity Today  July/August 2016.

How can you believe in God ?!

I used to say “I am not religious.”
Now I say “Everyone is religious.”

Two boys at beach

You already are religious – and so is everyone else.
Being “religious” can’t just mean believing in God.
After all, you don’t need to believe in God to be a Buddhist,
but surely Buddhism is one of the great religions of the world.

Whether you are an atheist,  Buddhist, agnostic, Jew,  Moslem, Hindu,  Christian, or a “Nothing” –
you already have ideas about what is true about the world.
You already place your faith in something or some ideas or someone.

For example, you might believe the universe will exist tomorrow
and that it is
wrong to bully other people.
Those are two parts of your “Word View” – how you view the world.  

Religion is just another word for “World View.”

And since everyone has opinions about the world,
everyone is already
religious – even if they don’t think they are.
There is no magic divide between religious and non-religious people –
there are
just people.

The question is – What do you believe is true,
and who or what do you put your
faith in ?

 

Being a Christian is not about believing
your religion is right and everyone else is wrong…

Solitude

Christianity says that all of us get some things wrong
and that the only one who gets everything right is God.

Christianity is not about saying  you have all the answers,
it’s about
saying that God has all the answers.

Think of it this way…

Everyone is standing somewhere.   From time to time we may move around
– at one time we may be standing over there
and at another time we may be
standing over here –
but everyone is standing somewhere.

Christianity is choosing to stand close to Jesus, choosing to stand with Jesus.
It’s not so much saying that you think other people are wrong
as much as saying
that you think Jesus is right.

It’s not claiming you have everything figured out and will never change your
opinion, it’s saying you trust Jesus and you want to be loyal to him.

You have to stand somewhere.
It is not close minded to stand close to
Jesus,
It’s not that you don’t want to be open to other peoples ideas,
you just choose
to stand with Jesus while you do.   

 

But what about Science ?

Chalk Board

Any one who thinks there is a conflict
between real science and real Christianity
either doesn’t understand Science, or Christianity, or both.  

The fact that the head of the human genome project
and many other great
scientists through out history were and are Christians
makes this rather
obvious.
Christians believe that Science helps us understand the natural
world
but that by definition science is limited to knowledge about
the physical
world.

 Thus it provides only a subset of what can be known.
It can’t
“prove” some of the most important parts of life – like falling in love,
loyal
friendships, or our meaning and purpose in the world.
The right equation
is not Christianity OR Science,
it is Christianity PLUS Science.

 

 

Why do Christians think that Jesus
and Christianity are different than all the other options ?

Christ of Rio

Most religions of the world are primarily about Good Advice.
“Do this.  Don’t do that.” 

Christianity is primarily about Good News.  

It says that the God who made everybody on the planet and loves everybody on the planet
(regardless of what
they call themselves)
came to earth to offer us a new way to live
not based on
our ideas but based on his.

Jesus intentionally said things that would make him unpopular.

He was especially unpopular with people who wanted to be in charge
and people
who were self-righteous.

( If you think you are fine just the way you are – that means you are declaring
yourself righteous – i.e. you are self-righteous ! )

Jesus says that all of us are precious
but that all of us do wrong things over
and over again.

Doing wrong is like digging a hole – if you keep going and going,
you can dig a
hole so big that you can get yourself in,
but you can’t get yourself out.

Jesus paid the price not only to get us out of the hole now
but also to carry us
with him both in this life and after this life.

If a guy lost in the desert had no news of any hope he might give up and die.

But if he knew that a plane had already taken off
and was on it’s way to save
him,
that good news would change everything for him.

Christians believe the plane is already on it’s way – Jesus has already risen
from the dead – and that good news changes the way we look at life.
But it can do more than that.  It can change us.  It can change our lives now and it can change our forever.  If you are interested in finding out more about Christianity, please contact our church office and we will send you resources, or line up someone you can talk to – whatever will be most helpful to you.

Community

The world wide church is a beautiful tapestry of people from all walks of life who have discovered that there is more here than atoms.  There is a Maker of Heaven and Earth who knows you, loves you, and has a calling on your life.   To find out more about what our church believes, click here