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Paths January 29, 2008

Posted by amybeth in Christianity.
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The following is from a e-letter a musician, John Fischer sends out called Catch of the Day. Someone sent it to me and I thought it was a really neat perspective.

True or false:
All paths lead to God. False.
All paths can lead to God. True.
It all depends on which end of the path you are looking from.

True or false:
All paths that lead to God have to go through Jesus. True.
Therefore, there is only one path to God. False.
There are as many paths to God as there are people who find Jesus.

Everybody’s path is different. Some paths go through fundamentalism and end up with Jesus. Some paths go through Catholicism and end up with Jesus. Some paths go through Islam and end up finding Jesus. Some paths go through Buddhism and end up finding Jesus. Some paths go through atheism and end up with Jesus. Some paths go through Mormonism and end up with Jesus. All paths that get to God go through Jesus, but you can start from anywhere. God is fully capable of drawing those who are His from anywhere. And He does.

It isn’t necessary to convince someone to change paths. We don’t have to carry around WRONG WAY signs to flash in front of people.

There is no such thing as a wrong path; there is only the path you are on, and it is not necessary to get someone off the path they are on, and onto the “right” one. It’s only necessary to point people to Jesus. Anyone should be able to see Jesus from just about anywhere. Especially if they are truly looking for God. The point is to point people in the direction of Christ from wherever they are.

Christians as well as people from other religions, cults, or no religion, who are truly seeking God, will find Jesus. Christians and people from other religions, cults, or no religion, who are not really seeking God, will not find Jesus. They will just be distracted by religion.

Motivated by Love November 18, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Deep.
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Today our pastor was talking about being motivated by love. He spoke about how it was fine to pursue the spiritual gifts but only if our underlying motivation was love. He explained that we would know that we were motivated by love if we were first looking to practically meet any needs we could in others…if we gave of our time and our resources first instead of just passing on spiritual sounding encouragement without actually getting involved ourselves. And then, if we found we were truly motivated by love, it would naturally follow that any pursuit of spiritual gifts would be for the purpose of meeting the needs of others in ways beyond which we were physically capable. We wouldn’t be pursuing them out of selfish ambition or pride.The last couple of weeks I’ve been once again recognizing the need to connect with God more, to spend time in his presence. I want to grow closer to him, to hear his voice. But I find I am so easily distracted, so easily pulled away by other pursuits. I understand that if I truly needed God, if I truly acknowledge him as the most important thing in my life, then I would naturally put seeking his face first. But life just gets moving along and while things might not be stellar, they’re okay and well…meeting with God falls by the wayside.

But today our pastor’s sermon put a new spin on this struggle of mine. If I am only pursuing God to get closer to him myself, to become more spiritual myself, then no wonder I can put off my time with him whenever I feel things are going okay in my life, when there’s no crisis or need in my life that would drive me to seek him. But if I’m motivated by love, then my need to connect with God, to draw upon his resources will never cease, will never become optional because there are always needs in those around me that I am not sufficient in and of myself to meet. If I am motivated by love, therefore, I will be continually seeking the face of God, not only for myself, but for others.

Age of Consent November 18, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Deep.
6 comments

The other day I received an email from 4mycanada, a ministry dedicated to raising awareness among youth about the issues in our land and encouraging them to take a stand for righteousness. They were letting their email network know about a debate that had occurred on a TV show called ‘The Verdict’ over the proposed legislation to raise the age of consent for sexual activity to 16 instead of where it currently stands at 14. They had actually been contacted by the show to recommend some young people who represent the side that is in favor of this change. They were thrilled to have this opportunity to have young people stand for righteousness on national TV and encouraged us all to watch the archives.So I did. It was very interesting to listen to the different parties argue their opinions. The young people were only one segment of the entire show so my comments below in no way reflect my opinion of what 4mycanada is doing or the stand that they are taking. I really admire how they are rallying a generation to stand for righteousness.

However, I get really frustrated when I watch debates where those who are supposedly standing for what’s right and good come across as totally uniformed and unable to think about the ramifications of what they are standing for in order to adequately address the concerns of those whom they are debating. All too often, I see those who are advocating what would stereotypically be the Christian position, resort to simply stating their position over and over again with slightly different wording but never actually adding any new information and then getting angry when people aren’t convinced by this vain repetition.

Those who were arguing for raising the age of consent kept saying that we needed this adjustment of the law to protect kids. They kept bringing up the various atrocities committed by predators who have exploited children. This sounds good, but was merely preaching to the choir. No one there was against protecting kids. Everyone there was appalled by the stories of injustice involving sexual predators and teenagers. But those arguing for this change were unable to answer some of the legitimate concerns that were brought up by those who were arguing against it.

For example, if we change the age of consent law to 16, then a 15 year old having sex with his/her 21 year old boyfriend or girlfriend could find that partner prosecuted and jailed if the nature of their relationship was discovered (any difference in age less than 5 years is exempt from this law). Sure, in an ideal world, 14 and 15 year olds wouldn’t be having sex in the first place, but in our day and age, this is not an implausible scenario. With the raising of the age of consent, we force all such relationships to go underground preventing the young people involved in them from reaching out for help when they need it.

I agree that a 35 year old predator should not be able to manipulate or force a 14 or 15 year old into having sex with them and then get away with it because they can somehow demonstrate that the teenager consented. However, I don’t think such predators should be able to manipulate a 16, 18, 21 or even 25 year old into supposedly consenting to have sex with them but then taking it further than that teenager or young adult desired to go. Likewise I don’t think an overbearing 19 year old should be allowed to force a timid 16 year old into having sex and get away with it just because they are close enough in age. But simply continuing to raise the age of consent isn’t going to help in any of these cases.

As those advocating against the raising of the age of consent explained, there are rules in place to prevent exploitation of people at any age. No, they don’t always work well, but its these laws that need to be strengthened. Raising the age of consent is only a bandaid solution which will in turn create other negative ramifications that no one is currently even acknowledging, let alone prepared to deal with.

Unfortunately, none of those advocating for what seems to be the position more in line with Christian morals even acknowledged the legitimacy of these people’s concerns nor proposed how the new legislation would bring about good without introducing any additional bad. They kept going back to their original statements that this change in the law was for protecting kids and became exasperated when asked to address the complexities of the issue.

I found myself actually convinced by those advocating against this change in the age of consent. I also found myself once again saddened by the display of those who are supposedly standing for righteousness. If we can’t learn to grapple with the issues and legitimately address the complex concerns of our society today, we are going to continue to lose credibility.

Sorry, 4mycanada, I wasn’t as excited about this opportunity you had to be on national TV as you were. We’ve got a long way to go before our voice is truly heard – even a long way to go before our voice should be heard.

Atheist’s Perspective on Church October 16, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity.
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My mom just gave me a printout of an interview with the atheist who agreed to visit a whole bunch of churches and give his perspective on them. He then wrote the book “I Sold My Sould on eBay”. Check out the full article here. The following are everal comments he made that got me thinking.

 1. He noticed that all Christians gave testimonies that went something like “I was hopeless and miserable. And now that I’ve found God, I’m much better.”  He never heard anyone saying that they were okay and are now better with God.  He himself doesn’t feel miserable so does that mean Christianity has nothing to offer him.  It’s an intriguing question.  I think sometimes we actually try and dramatize our testimonies so they’ll apparently have more pull, carry more weight. But maybe that can actually backfire.

 2. He commented on how, growing up with a religous family, when they saw people having a rough time, or who were homeless, etc. they were encouraged to ‘pray for them’ but rarely did anything. Now that he’s an atheist and doesn’t believe there’s a God that will step in to help these people, he feels more impetus to get personally involved. Ouch!  What a commentary against the apathy that has crept into the church.

3. He describes the way a service was run at a church he didn’t really like. His description reminded me of some of the seeker friendly churches that I’ve been too. Which is interesting…cuz this guy, the supposed target population of these types of churches,didn’t like what they were doing at all.

Read the article. What do you think? Have any of you read his book?

Bloodsucker slayers! September 12, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity.
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Alright…this one isn’t for queasy stomachs.

The other day a friend was telling me that while we was praying for a particular place, she had a picture of this dark, ugly creature that was sucking the life out of the people there. Then she saw that the prayers of the church were pouring salt on this creature causing it to shrivel up and release its hold.

It hit me that pouring salt is exactly what we do to leeches (bloodsuckers) and that ‘blooducker’ is a perfect caricature of the enemy and how he attacks the lifeflow of people, draining them through overwork or emotional wounds, etc. It kind of gives another dimension to what Jesus meant when he called us to be the salt of the earth, doesn’t it?

Word Curses May 18, 2006

Posted by amybeth in Christianity.
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Can we break word curses? We act so flippantly towards the words we say and yet I firmly believe our words have power. When we speak negatively about someone, we are cursing them. I’ve read ‘spiritual warfare’ kind of books that talk about breaking word curses. Can we do that? I know that Christ became the curse for us. Does this mean his blood can break such curses? Does that mean we can be careless with our words, speaking curses and breaking them afterwards? Isn’t that just like sinning just cuz we can be forgiven? And if its not so easy to break word curses, what’s a person to do? Perhaps there is a strategic way to employ blessing that it undermines the power of the curse to begin with? Hmmm…just some thoughts.

Weapons Without Bullets May 14, 2006

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Old Blog.
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A speaker I was listening to earlier was commenting on how everyone lately gets so excited about newly discovered methods for spiritual warfare or intercession. They all rush to learn and participate. But he said that without the knowledge of God, without taking time to develop that, its like people are getting excited about weapons that have no bullets. It doesn’t matter what the ‘method’ is – any method is only as effective as the depth of knowledge of God that its practicioners carry. And that knowledge is only developed through searching and time spent in cultivating intimacy.

Reasoning April 5, 2006

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Old Blog.
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I was reading in my cognition textbook today about reasoning. It was talking about a confirming bias in that we prefer to collect evidence that confirms what we believe and rarely look for what evidence might disprove it. A fundamental principle of science is to consider how any theory might be falisifiable and then test such a possibility.

I began to ponder how this relates to arguments about the existence of God. Christians argue that there is so much evidence for God (confirming) while scientists argue that his existence cannnot be falisifiable (disconfirming) and therefore isn’t a valid proposition. Did God create us with a natural tendency towards confirming evidence? Is this the ‘good’ in the knowledge of good and evil that the tree in the garden represented? By testing God’s words about surely dying was Eve departing from this paradigm and entering into a new way of looking at things, testing to see if God’s words could be falsified? What might this mean for how we should approach the search for truth?

I realize that I’m stretching the analogy a bit, but I thought it was an interesting way to ponder the story. The same chapter talked about how we are biased in the arguments we consider valid, giving preference to those that confirm a belief we already hold. In light of this, do we as Christians need to stretch ourselves to consider evidence outside the box? Not for the purpose of losing our belief, but for the purpose of honestly evaluating which arguments for and against our faith are truly valid.