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Blog Group: Current Events (15 posts)
Luke J. Wilson | 03rd April 2020 |
Lent is a time of self denial and of giving things up, and also a period of lament in the lead up to Easter where we remember the Passion and death of Christ before we celebrated the glorious resurrection.
Often this is a personal affair on the discipline side of things, even if it's a practice shared within your church community, but this year has been so very different. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, the whole world has slowly gone into lockdown country by country, creating a strange sort of global “Lent” where everyone is having to practice self control and self denial. This has been underpinned with a sense of lament at the way things were, the way things should be, and all of the things—and people—we've lost.
I don't think it's coincidental that the most isolating part of this pandemic happened during the Lenten season, causing us all, Christian or otherwise, to stop, step back and reflect on life.
While it can feel a little gloomy of late with all the isolation and lack of social and religious meetings, we mustn't think that God has abandoned us—likewise we also shouldn't lose faith.
The Bible isn't a stranger to times of lament and distress, and we see it often in the Psalms. At times like this of limited food and resources and job loss, we can probably relate to David when he wrote things like this:
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.
And such poetic sadness from the book dedicated to lament;
He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the LORD.”
Hope in the face of darkness
As we look ...
Luke J. Wilson | 20th March 2020 |
We currently live in troubled times lately with a lot of uncertainty around us, both locally and globally. But even now as I write this and think on the topic of the virus, one verse in particular springs to mind:
Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deathI fear no evil;for you are with me;your rod and your staff — they comfort me.
It does feel a little bit like we are all walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” at the moment! But as the Psalmist says, “I fear no evil” for God is with us and comforts us. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get sick (or die), but that no matter what is happening around us, internally we should be at peace and have a stilled mind; not one filled with worry and hopelessness.
John 14:27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Not to mention the mandate to not worry about what we’ll eat or wear etc. (Matthew 6:25–34) especially in this time of panic buying where shops are facing food shortages. We must strive to avoid this type of thinking and behaviour, because not only does it not help anyone (and is incredibly selfish), it just causes more panic. As Christians we should keep in mind what God has spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10), and what Paul wrote to Timothy that “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Christians and Plagues Throughout History
Disease, plagues and pandemics are not new things in this world. History is replete with sickness and death, the only difference now is that since around the 20th century, modern medicine and vaccines have improved to such a degree that we are fairly well protected against anything on a pandemic, or even an epidemic, level. Sickness is often relegated to a tempor...
Luke J. Wilson | 14th January 2020 |
If you follow certain Christian blogs, or have Christian friends on Social Media, then you may have seen a short video clip being shared which has been taken from a recent sermon by popular Evangelical pastor/speaker and author, Francis Chan of Crazy Love ministries.
Depending on who shared the clip will depend on which reaction you have seen; some are praising his words, others fearing for his future calling it a “red flag”.
And all of this over a short statement he made about communion!
I recommend you watch this 3 minute clip below before continuing, if you haven’t seen it already. I would also recommend watching the whole 47 minute sermon for some better context, where he talks about his struggles and journey to this point in his faith around the topic of communion — something he was wrestling with even back in his BASIC series teaching on Communion from around 2012, views which have clearly moved on since then towards a more historical view.
Chan says he isn’t making any sort of “grand statement” here, and goes on to give a brief, if little distorted, overview of church history:
“I didn’t know that for the first 1,500 years of church history, everyone saw it as the literal body and blood of Christ … And it wasn’t until 500 years ago that someone popularised the thought that it’s just a symbol and nothing more. I didn’t know that. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s something to consider.’”
This part isn’t too far from reality, really, though a little over-simplified. But I understand his zeal and excitement about this discovery of his, as I went through the exact same mind-blowing realisation around five or so years ago when I first delved into the writings of the Early Church Fathers and was forced to come to the same conclusion that there was something there to seriously consider. If the Church had always understood Jesus’ words and the interpretation of Scripture in a fairly singular and unified way for nearly two mille...
Luke J. Wilson | 03rd December 2018 |
You've probably seen it in the news lately: John Chau, the American guy who tried to evangelise the secluded Sentinelese tribe off the coast of India. Much of the debate in secular media has centered around the grief of his friends and family; how he could have brought outside disease to the tribespeople and potentially killed them all (despite this not being their first contact with outsiders, with no known ill effect), or that he ventured there completely in ignorance with no preparation or wisdom — something which the missionary agency, All Nations, has recently debunked.
But the question I want to look at is this: was Chau's mission total madness or is he a modern-day martyr?
Well first, what is a martyr? The dictionary definition is simply: “a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs”, and the word itself comes from ancient Greek meaning “witness”.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the whole story (as much as we can see), John Chau had said since 2011 that he felt called by God to go and tell the good news of Jesus to the Sentinelese people. After many years of preparation, about two weeks ago in late November, he succeeded in getting to the remote island via a fishing boat (which was illegal to visit under normal circumstances). But after a few attempts at making contact, he is believed to have been killed. The fishermen saw some tribespeople dragging Chau’s body across the beach, so it has been assumed that he is dead – and no one knows any differently to date.
So in the strictest sense as the definition above, he may not be a martyr as he wasn’t necessarily killed because of his beliefs, as the tribespeople couldn’t even understand his preaching, and on the face of it, it does seem like madness.
In the broader sense of the word, I think it’s fair to call him a martyr, as that would be one who “sacrifices his or her life, station, or something of great personal value, for the sake of principle or to sus...
Luke J. Wilson | 28th January 2018 |
You may have seen the videos and articles being shared around social media lately about Google's new voice-activated digital assistant, Google Home, not knowing who Jesus is.
Shock, horror — right?
No. It's just more faux outrage and fuel for America's persecution complex. I mean, so what? Google isn't a Christian run company, they have no obligation to Christ or the Church. Why are we letting something like this bother us so much? It's just another thing in the ever growing list of things-to-be-mad-about-that-don't-really-matter on social media. Where is our faith rooted? What is the foundation and rock upon which we stand? Is it in how well a 'smart speaker' can read Wikipedia? Or what decorations Starbucks put on their cups? Or how non-Christians greet you during the holidays? No. Our faith is in Christ. If it's so easily shaken by this nonsense then maybe it ought to cause us to look a bit deeper within and see what our foundations truly are; where our 'centre of gravity' and peace is. Because if all of these external factors shake you so much, your foundation probably isn't as securely in Christ as it should be. He gives us "peace ... which surpasses all understanding" (Phil 4:7) — a peace that isn't the same as what is in the World (Jn 14:27). Therefore the World shouldn't be able to unsettle us with such peripheral things. In as close as a comparison as I can think of, look at what Paul said to the Corinthians when they worried about meat and idols from their local markets: if you faith isn't strong enough to not be bothered by such things, avoid them (I'm paraphrasing, obviously). If Google offends your conscience, don't buy their smart speaker. Simple.
Paul didn't tell them to go into a "holy outrage" about it. Why? Because these things really should have no effect on us or our faith. Just move along. Concern yourselves with the real cause for outrage, like injustice and poverty and actual persecution of our fellow brothers and sisters who, in m...
Luke J. Wilson | 03rd October 2017 |
In light of the sad, recent events in the Las Vegas shooting — and similar events in America— I often see Christians across social media jumping to the defence of gun ownership whenever there is even a slight hint at gun control in America.
But how has gun culture become so ingrained in American Christianity when we can observe a clear theme and pattern of thought in the first few centuries of the Church, which goes completely against this?
Update 7th Nov 2017: It's so sad to have to update this post on the same subject so soon, almost a month to the day. Yet another shooting, this time in Texas where 26 people have been shot dead in a church of all places. But despite this, America tightens its grip on their guns, and Trump says tighter gun laws would have made no difference to the situation. Days earlier though, when a terrorist killed 8 people in NYC by running them down with a truck, President Trump was quick to tweet about implementing "extreme vetting" of immigrants. Yet again, voices are loud for everything else except curbing gun ownership, and the silence from the Church in America is still deafening.
You can read more in the link below, but here's a few examples from the early Church with regards to war and violence, and using or owning weapons:
“It is not lawful for a Christian to bear arms for any earthly consideration.” — Marcellus ~298 AD
“Under no circumstances should a true Christian draw the sword.” — Tertullian 155-230 AD
“God wished iron to be used for the cultivation of the earth, and therefore it should not be used to take human life.”
— Cyprian ~250 AD
“The servants of God do not rely for their protection on material defenses but on the pine Providence.”
— Ambrose 338-397 AD
I don't have an answer to this cultural problem, and I'm not sure we can ever fully solve the issues of gun violence in the States now; but one thing that I do know is this: the Church in America needs to repe...
Luke J. Wilson | 25th June 2016 |
Has "Brexit" just spoiled “End Times” prophecy?
In a word, no.
Unless of course you are of a Dispensationalist view, then this sudden exit from the European Union by Britain will have caused you some theological holes you may feel the need to patch up.
There’s already been some satire articles posted in light of this, highlighting the errors of Dispensationalism and its main adherents tendency to interpret Biblical prophecy by the current news headlines. One such article, by The Babylon Bee, poked fun at the current events by writing that “premillenial dispensationalists around the world held emergency meetings Friday morning, frantically adjusting their prophetic charts to include the completely unanticipated new development” and another on Patheos has the headline of “The Antichrist is a Little Sore About One-World Government Plans After Announcement of Brexit”.
As humorous as these articles are, it really does affect this theological view in some serious ways; and as one person on Facebook said to me, they are “completely at a loss” at how this lines up with the “greater scheme” of world events and prophecy. Considering that for years now, many “End Times” preachers have been going on about this “one world government” and predicting that it was all tied up in the EU, I’m not sure how they will fit the current “Brexit” into it ‘officially’ – though I’m sure they will, like some already have by saying things like: “Bible students have long expected Britain to leave the European Union, and current events are fulfilling this Bible Prophecy before our very eyes”, and that they knew “that the EU would only last a short time”.
Except I’ve never heard anyone state that. Ever. Until now, that is.
Many different websites and preachers will tell you that the EU is some type of “revived Roman empire” which sets the stage for a one-world government (which is also the “beast” of Revelation and...
Luke J. Wilson | 06th November 2015 |
As much as it a pains me to give this guy any more exposure, sometimes you need to in order to expose something.
First, you need to watch the latest video from Joshua Feuerstein to understand what I'm talking about here:
I do this not to further his “cause” or “movement” but rather to counteract it. Mainly with something more practical, but hopefully also with more common sense too.
It's things like this that give Christianity a bad name. I mean really, is this really what Christians should be worried about? Why not do something more useful like feed the homeless and start a movement that'll actually benefit society AND do something Jesus actually commanded and cared about?
Joshua Feuerstein: YouTuber, pastor and social media celebrity.
Feeding the hungry, helping those in need, comforting the lonely, healing the sick… you know, the things that God and the Bible speak a lot about and places a high level of importance on as ways of living out your faith in a way that pleases God. Getting all offended and upset over coffee cups just seems to be missing the point really. This whole thing is just ridiculous at the end of the day.
I suggest starting a better movement. A movement of people who practically live out and demonstrate their faith by caring and aiding those less fortunate; a movement that if done consistently by everyone who follows Jesus (and not just leaving it to the charities and organisations to deal with) then it could very well make a change and difference in our societies.
I won't suggest a hashtag though because part of living out like this is to also bring humility and make one more humble – not boastful or full of pride on social media by declaring every good deed you do with a slogan for all to see.
Do good, but do it because the love of Christ compels you. Don't do it with the motive and purpose of being seen in order to attract praise. This is not the way of Christ.
There's no need to hashta...
Luke J. Wilson | 27th September 2015 |
September 28th 2015 will be a supermoon and a red moon at that.
I last wrote about these four "blood moons" way back in April last year when certain self-styled prophets John Hagee and Mark Blitz's "End Times" teaching gained some popularity (and subsequent book promotions). One thing that I predicted in my previous article was that if nothing else comes from all of this "end is nigh" nonsense, is that these "prophets" would indeed profit from their books – as has been shown to be true in which the "Four Blood Moons" book has been in the top 20 on the New York Times Best-seller List, and has also recently been turned into a docu-drama!
Other than these pastors reaping in loads of cash from books sales and movie rights via gullible people, there is a potentially worse consequence to all of this: to get on the NYT Best-sellers List it means that hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians have bought the book and have possibly accepted their doctrine of the blood moons. I've seen countless online discussions and Facebook posts concerning all of this, with many believers defending the doctrine vehemently, many of whom often have a very strong Zionist emphasis. Without the nation of Israel being something special, these predictions fail.
That is also another issue with these predictions: they are based on the assumption that the natural, national Jewish people are still God's chosen people who are separate from Gentile (non-Jewish) believers. That there are two "chosen people," two covenants with two different ways in which God deals and interacts with the people concerned. This leads to the Zionist theology that can be seen mainly in America, although it does come across sometimes here in the UK too, where Churches and Christian organisations are striving so hard to "Support Israel" with time, money and resources because they have also bought into this line of thinking. But it isn't so, and I'm not sure how it can be when the New Testament repea...
Luke J. Wilson | 16th August 2014 |
As I've been thinking more about the Israel situation, and reading and hearing the responses and debates on my last article, and the issue in general, it seems to me that people can't help but get stuck in the mindset of a geo-political debate. Yes, there's a place called "Israel" in the middle-east, and yes there's a war going on which is terrible for all involved — but from a New Testament Christian perspective, that shouldn't be our focus when it comes to thinking about the true Israel!
This is what it's about!
If you want to "support Israel" because you believe they are in the right or have 'just cause', then fine – just don't call it a God-sanctioned war or prophecy fulfillment and claim that others are "anti-Israel/Semitic" and unChristian for not pledging some kind of allegiance to a political situation like you do. Although, while you are out there "supporting Israel", maybe you should get a little perspective on the land mass of Gaza using this nifty little web app I came across earlier today: Gaza Everywhere.
But I want to take your attention away from a geographical mindset for the moment.
Israel the land isn't the point.
It's not about land anymore!
WDJS? (What Did Jesus Say?)
Let's look at what Jesus had to say about having a special place for worshipping God when a Samaritan woman asked him about where the proper place to meet with God was:
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem ... God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman says to Jesus, 'our ancestors worshipped here, but you Jews say only in Jerusalem – which is right?' Jesus gives an answer which just flips it all up on its head and effectively says "neither and both". Neither, because a time was coming where things were about to change, where physical, geographical Israel...
Luke J. Wilson | 09th August 2014 |
"We interrupt your regularly scheduled programme to bring you this..." Sorry if you were waiting for part 3 of the Coming of Jesus series, but what with all that's going on in the news lately, I felt that this needed to be written first.
"Support Israel's right to defend itself from terror."
Images like this really don't help anything.
If you've been on Facebook, or any other social media no doubt, I'm sure you will have seen (or even said) words to this effect in status' or memes. I keep seeing memes and images posted by people, often from Christians, about "supporting Israel" and each time it makes me stop and question that statement and/or sentiment. I question its accuracy, how biased or not the sources were, whether it's propaganda rather than truth. It makes me wonder about what view of God and theology that person holds to that enables Israel to get a 'free pass' as it were. There's images and videos being posted from both sides, but it seems that when there is something negative against Israel, it's called "propaganda" and staged/fake etc, but the other way around it is terrorism and self-defense by Israel. Then there's those who play the racism card, such as the image to the right, making people feel guilty of Anti-Semitism for not being a die-hard Zionist.
But what I'd really like to know is when did Christian's begin supporting any kind of violence or war? I realise the church has a long and bloody history - but is that really the Jesus way - Jesus the "prince of peace" (Isaiah 9:6)?
How about we do what Jesus taught and support efforts for peace, and not war; praying for our enemies and those who persecute, and not take sides, you know, like we're supposed to as Christ-followers.
"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." – Matt 5:44-45
Luke J. Wilson | 02nd May 2014 |
By now, most people (in Christian circles, at least) will have heard about the Jars of Clay controversy. For those that are thinking "how on earth could there be controversy over some jars?" let me clarify: they are a contemporary Christian music band. The controversy is because the frontman, Dan Haseltine, tweeted some thoughts on the topic of gay marriage.
Shocking, I know.
This is what started it all:
The treatment of people as less than human based on the color of skin is crazy... Or gender, or sexual orientation for that matter.
— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
Not meaning to stir things up BUT... Is there a non-speculative or non "slippery slope" reason why gays shouldn't marry? I don't hear one.
— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
I'm trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But It doesn't hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women's suffrage.
— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
Plus many, many, more tweets as time went on, with the whole twitter/blogosphere alight with this madness. Apparently even some radio stations had pulled Jars of Clay's music because of this assumed support of gay marriage by Dan, and by association, the band too. Dan has since issued an apology on his blog, and expanded on his thoughts in ways which the twitter character limitations wouldn't allow him to previously.
But as much of a hot-button topic as gay rights within the Church is, it is not what I want to talk about now. No, what got me was the way in which the Christians reacted to this news about JoC and the tweets, and how all the bloggers etc. exploded with articles with some hints of condemnation.
Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada. Photo: Ian Muttoo
Though I do agree that twitter probably wasn't the best place to voice such questions and thoughts, which I do think were genuine and not merely provocative, that doesn't excuse the way in whi...
Luke J. Wilson | 25th April 2014 |
The Church is so whiny at times. At least in the West it seems, from the various news outlets which like to showcase the "worst" (and actual worst) of the bunch. Sometimes I read articles and wonder why do certain Christians care so much about this!? It's usually a non-issue really, often under the guise of "principles" or "persecution."
Now I realise that some of the articles I linked to above could also relate to serious issues that we, as Christians, should face and discuss. But even from a quick search on Huffington Post and the BBC News for "Christian", the majority of articles (as of writing) from America relate to homosexuality in some form, and for the UK, they are about David Cameron saying we are a "Christian country" (though, admittedly, that last piece of news probably has non-Christian's whining more).
Though nothing quite sums up the Christian attitude more than the recent fiasco in the news about Google's doodle for Easter — or rather, lack thereof.
Here is the "offending" Google page on Easter day:
Shocking, isn't it.
Apparently it was/is to many Christians who felt the need to vent their frustrations and outrage on the Google forums (and even declare a boycott), as you can see from the screenshot below (click for larger view):
I'm sure there was probably many more comments too. Source: aattp.org
Yep, even Google not doing something is something to get in a flap about. The thing is though, Google has done an Easter "doodle" before, and also has done a Christmas "doodle" pretty much every year since 1999!
Except the real problem here isn't really the lack of a "doodle," but rather the fact that these Christians are apparently happy when Christmas and Easter is 'doodled' using nothing but secular imagery. Even if Google decided to honour the holiday with a "doodle" — do you really expect them to draw a crucifixion or a nativity scene? No, they are going to, and do, generally appeal to secular culture, rather than ...
Luke J. Wilson | 16th April 2014 |
According to NASA, there are about two lunar eclipses per year. This time there happens to be four all within 18 months - something astronomers call a tetrad.
I'm slightly surprised I've not seen much about this yet (maybe a good thing?), but it does seem as though this is an event certain Christians have been waiting for - and writing books about! I came across this on a recent Huffington Post article which gives this story also about church leaders saying these moons are "an omen of Armageddon and Second Coming of Christ", but I'm not so sure about that.
I did recognise one of the names mentioned, though: John Hagee, a Texas megachurch pastor. It was probably something I read about him and these so-called "blood moon prophecies" before, which happens to be what his book is about ("Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change").
Apparently, since this upcoming tetrad involved the "blood moons" landing on or during Jewish holidays, that means something drastic will happen (see diagram, right), which history also apparently shows.
The Jewish Talmud (book of tradition / Interpretation) says; "When the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel. If its face is as red as blood, (it is a sign that) the sword is coming to the world." ... Every time a blood moon pattern has appeared on Jewish feast days a big event affects the nation of Israel. The event affectingIsrael begins just before the actual years of the blood moons. To understand what will happen in the 2014 - 2015 "blood moons" you must understand the pattern of blood moons in the past.
It was confirmed by NASA that we have had "blood-red moons" on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkoth on back-to-back years seven times since 1 A.D. Three of these occurrences were connected to 1492 (the year the Jews were expelled from Spain by Queen Isabella) , 1948 (statehood for Israel and the War of Independence), and 1967 (the Six-Day War) — some of the most signifi...
Luke J. Wilson | 10th April 2014 |
UPDATE (3rd May 2014): It is now believed to have been confirmed as a hoax/fake; read the full story on The Wall Street Journal.
Ancient and not a fake according to scientists
IMAGE: HARVARD UNIVERSITY, KAREN L. KING/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A little while ago, there was some hoopla in the news about a newly discovered fragment of papyrus from ancient times which contained the phrase "Jesus said to them, 'my wife...,'". Obviously, and not surprisingly, the media made a big deal out of this. Atheists and the like, saw it as a blow to Christianity and conspiracy theorists everywhere thought it confirmed their views that the Vatican and the Catholic Church were part of some big cover-up to hide the "truth" about Jesus: that he married Mary Magdalene and had children.
But before we all get too carried away at the so-called implications of this, lets now forget one thing: Jesus being a bridegroom and having a bride (ie. a wife) is in the Gospels and New Testament all along.
In his parables, Jesus often referred to, or implied himself as the bridegroom (Matthew 9:15; Mk 2:19; Lk 5:34), whilst the people of the Kingdom of God were a part of the bridal or wedding party (Matthew 25:1-13; Jn 3:29).
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church, he speaks of them as a bride to be presented to Christ, the husband (2 Cor 11:2), and also to the Ephesian church, Paul draws a parallel between the love of a husband and wife being the same kind of love and commitment as Jesus had for his church:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25)
This theme of husband and wife with Jesus as the groom and husband even follows through into John's apocalyptic Revelation, probably in a more vivid depiction than the previous examples:
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the ...