Choosing Blasphemy?

I recently came across this article in Newsweek (January 8, 2007, Jerry Adler) – here’s an excerpt,

‘Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too.’

With that five-second submission to YouTube, a 24-year-old who uses the name “menotsimple” has either condemned herself to an eternity of punishment in the afterlife or struck a courageous blow against superstition. She’s one of more than 400 mostly young people who have joined a campaign by the Web site to stake their souls against the existence of God. That, of course, is the ultimate no-win wager, as the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal calculated?it can’t be settled until you’re dead, and if you lose, you go to hell.

I went and visited the site and discovered that the “blasphemy challenge” offers an incentive for those who would do what Lindy did. Guess what the incentive is? People who take up the challenge and follow the instructions (which include the requirement to explicitly say, “I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit” in their video) will receive a free copy of “The God Who Wasn’t There”.

Here’s what I don’t understand. First, there are actually people willing to risk an eternity in hell for a video that basically promotes there is no God and mocks Christianity? C’mon there’s gotta be a bigger payoff than that! But then I get thinking of the Lindy’s and the Michael Lawson’s who are meeting the challenge for their free video. What has happened in their lives to give them such a bad taste for God and such a willingness to rush into the opportunity to “blaspheme”?

Second, this viral vitriol against Christianity and God is getting ridiculous (getting? it’s beyond that)! Does belief in Jesus Christ really pose that much of a threat to those who choose not to believe? Ah, but perhaps it does…perhaps its the fear that one’s “freedom” might be infringed or trodded upon if this religious monstrosity is allowed to flourish. Forget the fact that most significant historic accomplishments were done by believers, forget the fact that almost every school of higher learning was founded by believers, forget the fact that nearly every major hospital, orphanage, or some sort of social care organization was begun by believers. Oh but faith must be stopped because our “freedoms” and “intelligence” and “progress” will suffer… hogwash!

Jesus spoke of himself when he said,

…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36, NIV)

Freedom from what? Freedom from sin, from slavery to sin – that propensity to place self above everything else (even God) and constant dissatisfaction in life. What the proponents of don’t seem to realize is that the very subject of good vs. evil predicates some universal absolute standard of measure from which conscience is formed. The very presence of our present day imperfect (because of sin) civil law and order, government, and “justice” finds it’s roots in the perfect justice and order of God.

Now am I saying the unbeliever is incapable of good, or is incapable of placing others before themselves? No. The corollary is also true – Christians and believers aren’t perfect either and sadly we too do things contrary to the teaching of the one we follow. However – the very fact that the good is recognized in the non-believer and the bad is recognized in the believer is significant in any discussion on the existence of God. Truly, if God really didn’t exist then why are atheists so concerned? Why the battle? Does it really matter then if there is good or evil? If the Christian is hypocritical or the non-believer a saint?

And finally, the question that keeps my head shaking through the whole thought process is the question I’d ask those posting their “blasphemy” on YouTube. “What if you are wrong?” Let’s reverse things for a moment. I’m a Christian. I believe that I have been saved from death (hell) and saved to life (here and later in heaven) by my faith in the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the grave – a work that dealt with my sin (which separated me from God). I believe that Christ now works in and through my life and He has a unique purpose for me in this world. My life is richer because of my faith in Him. My love is fuller because of Him. My joy is more complete because of my faith in Him. My hope is more sure because of my faith in Him. With that said, if you were to ask me, “What if you are wrong?” My reply would be simply, “then I haven’t lost anything…” Can the “YouTube blasphemers” say that with the same degree of certainty?

Sometimes it just makes me sick…

Call it getting up on the wrong side of the bed – or maybe I am just a little bit grouchy this morning – but there are times when the Christian Marketing machine just makes me sick! I’m reading through my copy of Outreach magazine (great magazine by the way) and I came across one of the many ads found in there for various Christian ministries etc. This ad has this tagline:

Ever wonder if your sermons are connecting? Try the translation that speaks to the heart.

and goes on to say:

As a pastor, you want your messages to connect on the deepest possible level. Thankfully, the New Living Translation delivers living language that hits the target every time. Scripture comes to life. People pay attention. The message gets through. It’s the translation you can count on to connect, and that you can depend on for precise scholarship. Speak God’s Word to your congregation in language that they understand – and watch them wrap their hearts around God’s message.

And finally at the bottom of the ad they advertise that Pastor’s can get a free 4-week sermon series at – when I clicked to check it out I couldn’t find it.

I guess what bothered me most about this ad is not the fact that it’s advertising a Bible Translation – actually I use the NLT on occasion myself because it is written very clearly and sometimes does aid in getting a point across. What bothered me the most was that it appeared to me the ad was appealing to a pastor looking for a quick fix and communicating the idea that using this particular Bible Translation will solve all your problems with sharing God’s message with the congregation. The subtle message, “Use this translation and it will work wonders!” is communicated in the ad and frankly it turned my stomach.

Since when did the power and authority and life-changing work of preaching God’s word depend on what translation of the Bible you used? It is not the choice of phrasing, or transliterations that impacts life-change in people but instead the Spirit who breathes life into peoples hearts as they hear God’s word. Hey, what about what Paul wrote to Timothy…

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. — 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

I wonder what Paul would have said if he saw this ad?

Where does worrying get ya?

Worry - Ugly ain't it?Today I went with my mother to her lawyer’s appointment. My Dad died about a year and a half ago and his life insurance company denied my mom’s claim for the insurance. To make a long story short she (with the support of us!) has decided to sue the insurance company as the advice we received suggested we have a case. Anyway, with the court systems the way they are it’ll be a while until we get to trial. I said all this to say this… My mom has had a lot on her mind in the last while (no wonder!) and she’s really finding it difficult to just let go and leave things in the lawyers hands. But this post isn’t really about my mom – it’s about the the observation going through my head that worrying really puts a damper on life. While this may be an obvious one for most people it’s surprising how many of us “non-worryers” still get caught in the trap of nail-biting, ulcer creating hyper-anxiety syndrome once and a while. The funny thing is – all our worrying really doesn’t accomplish anything. There’s a favorite scripture of mine in Matthew 6 where Jesus basically tells people ‘Don’t worry!’ The conclusion of Jesus’ thought as he goes through some of the things we humans worry about is that there’s really only one thing that matters

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

After all, there are things that make an eternal difference (going beyond this life) and things that are just temporary.

And then Jesus, goes on to say these nifty words, “Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (v. 34). How true is that! Is there anyone that can really say worrying about something made it better? If there’s something in your control – do something about it but if it’s out of your control…leave it – don’t worry because all the worrying won’t do one thing for you.

Case in point: have you ever communicated with someone (a friend maybe, or aquaintance) and later on remembered something you said (or wrote) that you get thinking, hmm…I wonder if they were offended by that — some people will let that thought run away on them and create a gigantic worry “snowball” that consumes there thoughts until eventually they do everything they can to avoid that person because they may have offended them. Instead, they could’ve nipped that worry in the bud and gave that person a quick call and cleared it up…just one example.

whoah..just realized I’m starting to write a chapter rather than a post – signing off!