Feb 26, 2006

a baptismal quandary

A few thoughts concerning the heartache my aunt endured for years while associated with a very legalistic church that valued their perfect reasoning over her peace of mind.

As a young woman, my aunt was baptized while associated with the Baptist Church, and after being persuaded to join ranks with the Church of Christ she soon realized that her prior baptism was deemed suspect by a good majority of her new brothers and sisters in Christ.

After years and years of flak about her "unholy" baptism "into" the Baptist Church she relented, and was baptized "into" the COC by a COC minister (which made everything OK;) finally she was an acceptable sister in the one and only true church.

Years afterward she still believed her original baptism was for the right reasons and acceptable to God, and rightly wondered why she was so unacceptable to members of the COC until she was rebaptized. I wonder today as well!

Many (if not most) tribes of the COC have grudgingly changed much of their Pharisaical attitudes and no longer force their straight jacket opinions on God's children. Finally in some circles, God's mercy and grace take precedence over unerring perfectionism and tradition.

Feb 24, 2006

billy gates hates my blog

For those unfortunate enough to stumble onto my blog using Bill Gates (IE) browser, I apologize; it's really a mess! Works fine with Mozilla Firefox and Opera browsers, but completely haywire (for whatever reason) when Mr Gates decides to enter.

Shame! shame! shame! you should be using Firefox in the first place. I'm hoping to hang on until Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 is released; then it should render web pages a little better, unless this site is messed up beyond repair.

Wouldn't hurt to change my blog title as well; too many hits on Google for "the occasional opinion" that refer to everything in the world except this blog. Didn't know it was such a popular combination of words until lately. Enough shop talk.

Feb 21, 2006

walking humbly before god

Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) had his problems just like the rest of us, yet whatever the circumstances, he was able to pen some of the most inspiring thoughts ever recorded. The following prayer while attributed to him is not completely verified; whether he wrote it or not, it's a winner:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is injury, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
Where there is darkness, let me bring light.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Since our actions are being watched by unbelievers, it's critical that they observe us patterning our lives after Jesus, and not merely living as hypocrites differing little from the lost. Two short Saint Francis Quotes that help me understand how important it is for the Christian to walk in the footsteps of Jesus every day while living before an unbelieving world:
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
And lastly, his most famous quote (IMHO) most of us recognize immediately. This quote is hanging on many of our walls, and in some of our hearts:
Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know
the difference.

Feb 16, 2006

19th Century American Indians Perspective Of Christianity

The "unchurched" are often totally confused with all the different views we have about God's Word and how we apply it's teachings. Not only do churches have different perspectives on what the Bible teaches, but members within each group can't even agree among themselves. And we wonder why some people become exasperated and just give up!

When American religious clerics attempted to bring Christianity to the American Indian in the 19th century they often met with disaster for the same reasons. One American Indian summed up the problem very eloquently, but I can't find the quote so I will only outline its essence.

Many blackcoats (preachers) come to tell us about their Bible and that we should belong to their church, and we listen to them and try to understand what they want us to do, but when a preacher leaves they send another blackcoat with a bible saying his church is the right church and what all the other blackcoats said was wrong. Again and again this happens, and we are confused and don't believe the white mans religion. How can every blackcoat be right when they don't agree. Before you send us any more blackcoats let them meet in your country and decide who is right, then send them to us with one voice so we can understand your religion.

We have made Christianity just as confusing to the lost today as the blackcoats did to the American Indians almost two centuries ago. Should we even wonder why some people in need of Jesus close their eyes and ears when they see a Christian approaching?

An extract from the autobiography of Plenty-Coups (1848-1932) a chief of the Crow Nation:
...Their wise ones said we might have their religion, but when we tried to understand it we found that there were too many kinds of religion among white men for us to understand, and that scarcely any two white men agreed which was the right one to learn. This bothered us a good deal until we saw that the white man did not take his religion any more seriously than he did his laws, and that he kept both of them just behind him, like helpers, to use when they might do him good in his dealings with strangers...
As the eloquent Yogi Berra would say:
this is like deja vu all over again!