Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Faith Blog......

"JEEEEEZZZUUUUUUZZZZZ wants YOU to send MONEY!"  

Even if you only see Christian TV when you're channel surfing, you know that it's wild sometimes.  You flip the channels and there is a woman with BIG pink hair and long black Tammy Fay eyelashes.....or a man wearing huge gold pinkie rings and chunky gold chains around his neck.  People are crying or yelling or getting a crowd to dance around with them.   I have a hard time watching them and I wonder how people who aren't Christians view that?   Well, no, I don't wonder....not really; they look at the crazy hair and makeup and jewelry and really big gold thrones people are sitting on and think "Well, I was flirting with Christianity, but I don't want to be like THAT!" 

Shortly after our return from our years in Paris, Mr Z and I had dinner with a good friend.  We 'came out' and told her our Christian faith had grown and how much it meant to us and had changed our lives. Jackie is wary of any faith because her mother had dragged her through a very strange cult as a child.  She looked at us as if we were never going to drink martinis or tell great jokes again!.  I knew how she felt; I was born into a Christian family and went to church until college but, before my stronger faith kicked in, those "kooks" who really walked the walk were nobody I wanted to be like. And "Born Agains?" The media's misrepresented that phrase so badly I still find myself cringing when I hear it though I know the true meaning of it now.

That night after we talked to our friend, Mr Z and I were watching TV and I was channel surfing and came upon one of the more riotous Christian programs with screaming and yelling and hands waving and music pumping and people crying!  I said to my husband "OH, man....Jackie thinks we're like THAT now."  He grimaced.  We were stronger Christians now....how could she think we weren't like that?

But, we were not.  Actually, nobody I know personally is.  If people feel their faith like that, more power to them, but it's a deal breaker for those without faith, in my humble opinion.  TV like that makes Christianity look like it's all about big money for big jewelry, emotionality that feels too big for most of us, a kind of exaggeration that wears one out! Where in the Bible does anybody say anything about that stuff!?

Sometimes, I get comments like "He died...so, faith didn't help HIM, did it!"  or "how can bad things happen if there's a God?"  When I hear questions like that, I wonder if the person asking has actually considered that I had never thought that very thing.  I absolutely understand those questions...I had them myself, BIG TIME.  Sometimes, I still do. Do people think Christians haven't given things like that any thought at all, that we just BELIEVE for some ...reason?  We're just dopey followers, people looking for a crutch?

No, we are called to something and we don't know quite what or how it happens...... "was it something I heard?"  "was it that thing I read?" but we soon learn why.  Then we start reading Scripture and some of those questions start smoothing out in our mind, it sets us straight and then we read C.S. Lewis or other great Christian minds, and we work things out and all of that "how could GOD do that?" stuff begins to actually make sense.  Then, something starts to happen that you don't understand.  Suddenly, Christian writings you read a year ago that you couldn't grasp become graspable.  It's the oddest thing as everything starts to make sense and you realize you don't have to have pink hair or wear gold chains or try to convert people or not have a martini to be a Christian!  (whew)  I like reading the C.S. Lewis types because my personality demands I come to Christ through a more academic viewpoint than a 'feeling' viewpoint, though feeling does feel good!  (not quite as good as those people on TV seem to be feeling, but very good!).


My point is that Christian faith is a quiet thing and doesn't have to be what some of us see on television.   It can be about worshiping at a church and enjoying the other people there and I strongly encourage making friends with people who share your faith;  actresses, doctors, realtors, housewives, teachers, retirees, people who are kind, don't gossip, want the best for you, pray for you, have fun with you, people you can trust, my favorite attribute in anyone because I'm not fond of gossip....It's being with great people in your  local Community Bible Study or Bible Study Fellowship program, or it's just you and your Bible alone, picking a Psalm to read or some shorter verse that you find is just the message you needed to hear that morning (happens ALL the time).... .  Or it's you and your sweet prayers at night, or in the morning.  Or at your desk at work asking God to help you and suddenly realizing it feels like he reminded you that report could use one more page and then it'll be just right ("how'd He know that?")  it, or while driving to the store or to the beach..  It's mostly just you and Him.  Talking to Him!   It's having hope in an eternal afterlife that's beautiful and beats the other direction (also an eternity) 'all to hell'!

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."  Colossians 2: 6,7

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."  C. S. Lewis


Even if you're not a pray-er try it today..."Thanks God.....great parking spot"  "Thanks, God, my sister's baby's better!"  "Thanks, God, your weather is perfect!"   "Thanks God I have this amazing family."   "Thank GOD I have GeeeZ to read every day!" (okay, I had to throw that in)!


Act with love,....  I'm trying every day...slowly... every day....fail, then try again, it isn't easy! 
Have a really happy Sunday...........pray with joy you're up and healthy, pray for a parking space, pray that you're in such a beautiful place to live.........pray all day;  you won't  know what hit you but I guarantee it will be a better day than yesterday!

BIG hugs and blessings to you all...



z

38 comments:

Mark said...

Hi Z. I once had a pastor (now deceased) who related to me a wonderful story. He and his family were driving somewhere on vacation, and they had a wreck, which critically injured his two boys (both survived without any disabilities), Sitting there at the scene waiting for the ambulance to arrive, he found himself asking God, "Why me?"

He said the answer came back to him almost as an audible voice, "Why not you?" He said he learned a lot that day.

When he told me that story, so did I.

Ducky's here said...

The so called prosperity gospel is a fraud. A modified Calvinism.

Elmers Brother said...

God is not a cosmic bell hop. They are a fraud.

beamish said...

I'm skeptical of religions that meet inside buildings.

Anonymous said...

"All that glitters is not gold."

All that purports to be Christian is not always Christian either.

There's something inherent in the medium of television that tends with rare exceptions to corrupt, trivialize and falsify almost everything that comes through the tube.

I believe Tammy Faye Bakker (may she rest in peace) started out honestly wanting to do good. I think she believed in her own sincerity. (I'm not sure about her ex-husband Jim.) At any rate poor Tammy Faye became seduced with the fame and money her show generated, and so her show, "PTL," became corrupt -- a grotesque caricature of Christian Endeavor.

False Christian leaders -- like the fictional Elmer gantry and the all-too-real Jimmy Swaggart -- are like the bad politicians we so rightfully resent. We should remember, however, that if the public didn't have such a huge capacity to adore the meretricious and ungodly, there'd be no support for these "circus acts" that produce sneering cynicism from the "intelligentsia," and give our moral and mortal enemies so much fodder for their cannons.

I don't believe one just has faith. I believe one must first be encouraged to believe that having faith in God is a good thing, but after that it becomes a matter of determination. Faith grows when one actively courts it. Faith grows while we "act as if" we really had it.

It's like developing any other skill. First you must want and recognize the need to acquire it, then you must study and practice zealously with proper guidance in order to develop and maintain it.

Perfecting one's faith (the work of a lifetime) is also very much like having a good marriage. You might start out wildly attracted to your spouse, but it takes great discipline, determination and courage to keep love alive and to keep it growing through all the challenges you're sure to meet.

We're always being tested. Remaining faithful -- to God -- to country -- to those we love -- and those for whom and to whom we are responsible -- is rarely easy, but it's eminently worthwhile.

I believe that in the long run people who make the effort to live with a loving, hopeful, constructive, forgiving approach and a desire always to be kind and helpful whenever possible have more fun along the way and a much greater sense of fulfillment than those who look at everything with a weather eye and delight in always finding fault.

Mustang said...

People who question the existence of God occasionally point to horrific events as if a catastrophe proves that God doesn’t exist. Herein lies a mental disconnect of gargantuan proportions; God never promised us an event-free life, and he never promised that we could live x number of years. This discussion was prevalent after the attacks on 9/11 and I had to shake my head. Do you know that 9/11 proves (to me) that there is a God, and he was working over time that day? Do you realize the number of people God saved that day, who ordinarily would have been at work but for some strange reason overslept, or had car trouble, and not present in the Twin Towers? Do you realize how many people were “no shows” on those tragic flights?

It is easy not to believe in God. Maintaining faith, even as small as a mustard seed, is more difficult. It makes sense that indolent factions would rather place their trust in false messiahs —such as Obama.

Faith said...

Nice job describing the change that happens when you really have become a Christian -- you understand scripture you couldn't understand before, God really does speak to you personally through scripture -- and through many other means as well, answered prayer is a constant reminder of His presence. It takes a while but painful things start to be seen as gifts from Him too.

Faith is a supernatural thing, a gift from God, all the effort you could possibly muster is useless when it comes to the things of God.

Thanks for this post.

WomanHonorThyself said...

Hiya Z..faith is a quiet thing and doesn't have to be what some of us see on television. ..so so true!..have a blessed Sunday~!

Anonymous said...

Having grown up in a spiritual home, but not a church going family, I questioned religion and all that goes with it.

Even though our values were based on Christian values, that wasn't stressed. My parents left it to us to grow, and come to our own beliefs and to decide for ourselves.

I came to believe that the miracle of life was not an accident, but of a higher power, and that was the beginning for me to embrace Christianity.

For me, this is a very personal thing. We each in our own way confront such a weighty decision which will guide our lives here on earth.

I don't light candles, or attend church, but I respect those who do. I carry it with me in my heart, every day, and I am at peace with it.

Pris

~Leslie said...

The tragedy of the television evangelists is that they do not truly evangelize, they exploit, manipulate, and steal from people -leaving a distaste for anything "Christian" for people. They do not represent what Christ did or who he is or what Christians are to strive to be.

The most pure form of Christianity is those who do not need to preach at people every second they are breathing, but those who are normal people, non-judgemental, who truly care for others. If someone wants to really represent their life with Christ, that person needs to accept people for who they are without picking apart their lives and trying to change them. They need to show love and care for the person in a genuine manner, and let God work within them to do any changing.

Jan said...

Dear Z...I enjoyed reading your post, today, and I certainly get the point you were making. It makes me sad, too, when I see some of the religious programming on television, especially when the whole thing seems to be to persuade people to send money to their ministry so that they can 'receive God's blessings.' We know that blessings are not bought, nor can they be...it is purely God's love for us...whether we deserve it, or not. The true Gospel, and Christianity, is so far removed, many times, from what God intended for His people that it must make Him sick...no wonder it speaks, in Revelation 3:16, of Him spewing certain ones out of His mouth...He was speaking, of course, of those whom are lukewarm, neither hot, nor cold...but how much more sickening it must be when He sees them perverting His word, and His character.

As for the public displays of emotionalism, I suppose that certain ones express what they are experiencing in different ways...ways which may seem strange to some of us, especially if never having been exposed to such displays. Much of it is done 'in the flesh' as they say, and not so much 'in the spirit,' and usually it is easy to distinguish the difference if one is more spiritually mature, but that is not always the case, I know.

All I know is, that I always want my words and actions to be such that they would never bring reproach upon the name of my Lord, and Savior, Jesus, the Christ. I would want others to desire Him, not revile Him, nor be afraid to follow Him

I think one of the kindest things ever said to me was a few years ago, when my career military husband was still in service. I had gone one evening to the infirmary on base for an infection of some kind. After examinatiion, and while still sitting on the examining table, the doctor, a Muslim, looking up from writing a prescription said, "You're a woman of faith, aren't you?" Somewhat surprised, I answered, "Yes...how did you know?" He replied, "Because you are not like many other women who come here." How thrilled I was to tell him that if that were true, then it had to be my relationship with Jesus...he had tears in his eyes as he handed me my prescription.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matt:5:16

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I asked on my blog, a while ago: where do you hold God? In your church or in your heart?

I personally hold God in my heart. I don't need TV or a church or "evangelists" or another conduit to find Him.

BZ

Leticia said...

Z, I have thought the same thing and even posted a question about this very thing on my Facebook page. Being outlandish, loud and obnoxious while at church just seems so inappropriate.

I asked how is that going to lead someone to Jesus Christ. When it does quite the opposite.

One kid, well a 20-something kid, called me and a few other mature Christians "hypocrites" because we believed that church should be done in a decent order. No screaming, rolling on the floor and basically attracting attention to one's self was just wrong. She disagreed.

I cringe when I see those "Christians" being so outlandish on tv. I don't watch any of them. There is only one Pastor I will on tv and that is Pastor John Hagee.

MK said...

I also prefer to keep my faith private and not make some big song and dance about it. I can't go to some of those services where people are making all that noise. I believe it's also in the bible that you shouldn't be trumpeting it away. it's what's inside that matters.

As for those who think we're just dopey followers or need a crutch, i think they'll always find some reason to belittle us. Doesn't bother me, it's really their loss.

Z said...

Mark, that is a good reminder.

Ducky, prosperity gospel is a LIE. Nothing Calvinistic about it, of course.

Elmer, it goes beyond that...it's not the money thing so much as turning people from faith because who wants to be like them, right?

Beamish...you're nuts :-)

Z said...

Faith, that means a lot to me, thanks very much.

Mustang, so well said. It think it is harder to HAVE faith. Actually, lots of people say it's harder to have faith in atheism! :-) To believe NOTHING started the world and humans who think and breathe and 'work' so well is QUITE a stretch.

Leticia, good comments....Hagee is very solid, isn't he. He says things that make some secularists crazed but that only speaks more for him than against him :-)
And yes, order in church is a beautiful thing.

I am a church goer, though I didn't go for many years (I was way too 'cool':-)....I think it's a huge bonus in a Christian's life...the friendship of other Christians, in MY life, is necessary; I'm not sure I could 'do this' on my own. Particularly a BIble Study is essential, in my life....
Christianity without the Bible doesn't make much sense to me...it's the 'how to' book, it's the solace book, it's the encouragement book,...I need it.

Jan, I LOVE all you said and was touched by what was said to you in the hospital. I wear a thin gold cross and hope that when I'm extra kind to someone or go the extra mile or say something someone admires, they know where it's coming from (it's not ME!)
On the other hand, one of the most faithful Christians I know wears a cross and she had to stand up for herself in a difficult situation and the other person said "Well, SOME CHRISTIAN!!!"
I think our actions speak a LOT louder than words, don't you?

MK...well said, my friend.
I hope you give your baby faith, too....

BZ..not many CHristians really "NEED" church....it's just the MOST amazing adjunct and added wonderfulness to CHristianity.....if you find the right place.

Pris, imagine anyone thinking human beings are an accident? So many do....it's a hard leap, isn't it~!!

beamish said...

Of course I'm nuts, Z :)

But... have you ever seen that channel that's like creepy televangelism 24/7? Daystar I think it's called (which is pretty funny given the occult connotations between Lucifer and the morning / day star....)

They have this hokey screaming and writhing "worship" show that is just hilarious to watch.

Z said...

Beamish, I've never seen Daystar but I've seen a lot of those types, like I said in my blog! I must admit I've not seen writhing!

beamish said...

Oh it's choice! Apparently "tha spirit of da lawd" gives you an itch between your shoulderblades that makes you flail and roll around on your back and scoot across the floor pushing with your feet like a dog trying to dig a tick out of his spine.

And not just one or two of them. Sometimes the lawd will set off a mess of twenty or thirty of them at a time like some championship level Twister game... left foot red right hand green LOL.

Throw 'em all in the baptism with some laundry detergent and I bet they'd lather up a Mt. Everest sized head of foam in around an hour.

Seriously folks, if your church has gymnastics mats on the floor around the altar and you're not in a gym, just think about how silly God thinks you'll look flopping around like an asphyxiating fish.

Anonymous said...

Life, itself, is a gift to us from God, so of course faith is also part of that gift, though some certainly have a greater capacity -- or talent -- for it than others.

But what does one do with such a gift? Is one supposed to sit placidly hugging it to oneself and be grateful for one's good fortune, or is one supposed to use this gift to heal divisions, dispel ignorance, comfort the sick and the bereaved and do whatever else one can to be an active force for good in the community?

I see a connection with the parable of the talents discussed here just the other day.

Aren't we enjoined to exercise our faith -- not just keep it to ourselves --, and thereby increase not only our own store thereof, but also to share --or "invest" it, if you will -- in doing everything possible to make this world a better place?

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven."

I, personally, believe that taking that advice very much to heart, and acting accordingly is the only way we could hope to attract others to a life of genuine faith in God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Scotty said...

Mat 6:1 "Be careful not to do 'good works' in front of others. Don't do them to be seen by others. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you.
Mat 6:2, "When you give to needy people, do not announce it by having trumpets blown. Do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They announce what they do in the synagogues and on the streets. They want to be honored by others. What I'm about to tell you is true. They have received their complete reward.
Mat 6:3 "When you give to the needy, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

Z said...

ya, Beamish, hard to imagine recommendations for THAT in Scripture, huh?
"Thou shalt writhe on the floor and make bubbles!"?

Scotty, amazing you'd include that Scripture because I was just saying today to a friend how doing good things and having them found out is not as satisfying as keeping them secret!

David Wyatt said...

Z,

This is likely one of your best posts, but then again, they're all good! I'm so glad you brought this up. Have you ever read any of Frederick Buechner ("Beekner")'s writings? He wrote a sermon concerning Easter titled "The End is Life" that is so excellent for helping unbelievers especially to understand faith in Christ. It is a part of his book "The Magnificent Defeat" actually his forst book of sermons published in '66. If possible, I recommend getting a copy. I lost mine years ago & have looked for another but to no avail. I don't agree wth all he said, but so much is good that I recommend it. Also, another man I would disagree with some things, but overall is excellent is Keith Miller, & his book "Habitation of Dragons" has some excellent illustrations. Alsdo Paul Tournier I recommend, but unfortunately he went off the deep end before his death. Yet his works are usually very sound. Ravi Zacharias is also very good at dealing with questions of faith. Thank you for dealing with this. Yes, believers struggle with ouir faith sometimes, but it is not our faioth that is most important but its Object, the Lord Jesus Christ! You're a blessing to me, Z!

Z said...

David, thank you for the recommendations! I'll look into those.
And thank you so much for 'you're a blessing'...that's very kind of you. xx

Anonymous said...

We have two minds;

1 Objective mind
2 Subjective mind

Objective mind needs to be re-set and trimmed regularly.

FAITH is the TRIGGER, or,
FAITH is the software to Re-SET the Objective MIND.

Many thanks to SCOTTY, I got his TRIGGER, I was in need.

SAM

Z said...

GAD! I just read the very last part of my post and about the last two paragraphs didn't make sense to me! I'm so sorry. I almost didn't recognize the words as if I hadn't written it...very WEIRD, honestly.

ANyway, I've changed it now and thank you all for not asking "What the...?" :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the thoughtful essay. Reading the comments is always enlightening.

I am a church goer for the reasons sited here, the friends, study, etc. As much as we sometimes think we can do it alone, Christianity is a call to community to be truly effective. There are many types and kinds of communities, and if you can find the right one for your personality, it is a true blessing.

In my faith culture, we stress the three legged stool. Faith, reason and tradition. Faith - our gift from God to which we have said "Yes"; Reason - our God given intellect with which to question and think; Tradition - the history and wisdom of the generations and generations of Christians who have traveled before us.

I agree about C.S. Lewis being one of the most influential Christian writers one could read. Mere Christianity is brilliant. Ravi Zecharias is a bit easier to read and his biograpy - From East to West is excellent. These two books would always be appropriate for someone questioning the difficult aspects of the Bible.

Thanks again,
Graceia

Z said...

Graceia, thank you for being here and thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment.
I think MERE CHRISTIANITY is an amazing book with a brilliant title! And I haven't read the other book you recommended and am going to order it on Amazon.com right now on your recommendation. Thanks!
I do a faith blog every Sunday and hope to see you again here.
God bless you, Z

beamish said...

I try to view God as a good friend.

A friend will bail you out of jail, but a good friend will be next to you in the cell saying "dang that was fun!"

Well maybe not that example, but that level of intimacy.

Z said...

beamish, you just blow my mind.
So well said..man.

Elmers Brother said...

I agree z. Portraying God in a formulaic and baseless way not only drives people away from God when the 'genie' doesn't grant every wish but even more importantly (the point of my comment) is it imposes false attributes to the LORDs character.

Elmers Brother said...

Have you heard of holy laughter Beamish? It's a hoot too.

Anonymous said...

Scotty's post exemplifies something most of us prefer not to address -- conflicting advice in the Scriptures.

Both Scotty and I quoted the Bible, yet his quotations appear to contradict the more famous one about letting our light so shine that people may see our good works, etc.

I agree that trumpeting forth one's own good deeds -- making a Holy Show of oneself -- is always ungodly. Self-righteousness, smugness, and complacency about one's status vis-a-vis the Lord should be regarded as an abomination.

However, quietly PRODUCING worthwhile things and actively SUPPORTING others who do the same hardly qualifies as exhibitionistic. Unfortunately, those who earnestly strive for excellence and effective benevolence must be prepared to have others loudly condemn their efforts, because too many of us cannot tolerate the presence of an influence whose work tends to make us question our motives and assumptions or regard ourselves as small and possibly dim by comparison.

Why else do you think Christ who healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and otherwise led an exemplary life was crucified?

Every time we fail to support noble efforts and recognize the value of excellent achievement we crucify Jesus all over again.

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan said...

Anonymous said:

Both Scotty and I quoted the Bible, yet his quotations appear to contradict the more famous one about letting our light so shine that people may see our good works, etc.

I agree that trumpeting forth one's own good deeds -- making a Holy Show of oneself -- is always ungodly. Self-righteousness, smugness, and complacency about one's status vis-a-vis the Lord should be regarded as an abomination.

I agree with you about interpreting scripture, however it is my belief that there is no contradition in scripture, but much misunderstanding of it.

I guess the one about letting your light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify God, kind of goes along with what I said about 'in the flesh' and 'in the spirit.' Everything we do should be done with the proper motive --not to draw praise and glory unto ourselves, but unto Him.

It's true that we are not to judge another person, however, we are allowed to judge the fruit of the spirit, and if that fruit is good, then we can be assured that it is of God, since our own self-righteousness is as filthy rags.

Scotty said...

Anonymous said: Scotty's post exemplifies something most of us prefer not to address -- conflicting advice in the Scriptures.

No contradiction, anon.

Showing one’s light is how you deal with the everyday things. How you would react to things that effect one’s life. Example, not being quick to anger. How you treat other people. The same as being the “salt of the earth”.

A light is meant to shine and give direction. Individuals Jesus described in Mat_5:3-10 would obviously radiate and point others to the proper path. Their influence would be evident, like a city on a hill or a lamp… on its stand.

I see no contradictions here……

Faith said...

At least it's the difference between doing good works to get personal glory versus doing them for love and obedience of God. Not to do the former to get glory, but to do the latter to give God glory. The Bible has no contradictions to those who believe.

Z said...

No contradictions. well put.