Monday, May 15, 2006

The Cross and the Vampire

I had a little free time last Saturday evening so I did a little research on what other Christians thought about tattoos. I found 70's hippy turned Christian women's author, Barbara Curtis, who put tattoos on her body a long time ago. I thought she was very interesting.

When I finished reading a small article, I looked up her "links". There was one pointing to Anne Rice. I found that odd. So I clicked on the link and discovered that Anne has become a Christian and has written a new book called, "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt." This book is obviously fiction, and appears to be written from the perspective of Jesus when he was 6 or 7 years old living in Egypt. The reviews I read mentions that there are several liberties taken with the story since there isn't anything in the Bible that addresses those years in the Messiah's life, but that it does not take away from the historical Jesus we read about in the New Testament. I admit that I have not read this book, so I'm repeating what I read from others who have.

OK, now it's time for a reality check! Anne Rice wrote some of the most popular books in America. She started a whole new fascination with vampires and witches. In Fact, one of her books became a Hollywood blockbuster (Interview with a Vampire, starring Tom Cruise). Now somebody tell me that there is no such thing as the life changing power of Jesus Christ!!! First Mel Gibson and now Anne Rice! Think about, even if you don't think she should be writing a "fictional" account of Jesus Christ, you have to be impressed that she is turning her talent toward the Risen Savior instead of an undead Lastat.

I was so impressed with her website that I sent her an e-mail telling her so. And get this... She wrote me back! She told me that she is overwhelmed by the outpouring and love from her new Christian family. She said that she has gotten a few negative comments from church leaders and Pastors, but most of the responses are people telling her that they are praying for her growth and understanding. Her website states that Anne will read every e-mail that is sent to her, but that there is no possible way to answer them all. But if you would like to e-mail her anyway (like I did!), check out her website.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Is that Tattoo or Taboo?

OK, awright, here's the deal... I'm gettin' a tattoo.

I know, I know... Shocking!

I'm a conservative religious leader.

I know, I know... It's taboo.

Christians, let alone Pastors, shouldn't get tattoos.

I know, I know... It's rebellious.

The Pastors & religious leaders you know have tattoos from before they went into the ministries they currently run. And... they have them in places no one will ever see. And... they would remove them if they could, but...

I know, I know... There are big health issues.

People have gotten nasty infections.

I know, I know... I'm too old.

Correct. People do get old and the artwork starts to look awful.

I know, I know... It isn't Biblical.


It isn't Biblical? What does that mean?

The one place in the Bible that says anything about "tattooing" is found in the Old Testament book of Leviticus 19:28; 'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.' That's from the NIV. The KJV doesn't even mention tattoo but it does say, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD." The word "tattoo" is translated from the Hebrew word nathan meaning to set, give, or put. and the word marks in the Hebrew is qa`aqa`, meaning incision. If you pay close attention to the whole verse, you see that Moses is referring to a pagan practice honoring dead people. Since I am born of Light and choose to honor the living Sacrifice, Jesus Christ, with my whole being, the thought of honoring the dead is ludicrous. Besides, if you look at the entire chapter, you might be surprised to see a lot of other stuff Christians aren't supposed to do. Things like men not cutting certain parts of their hair and none of us are suppose to wear two (2) types of cloth at the same time. Don't just take my word for it, look it up in Leviticus 19.

So why are these things mentioned in the Old Testament in the first place? It's because God wanted the Hebrew children to be separate from all other people on the globe at the time Moses wrote the Law. The rules and regulations were needed to please God and to keep them from falling into pagan practices. In fact, one of the ways that everyone knew who was an Israelite was the lack of any markings on their bodies, the other was circumcision.

Paul mentions in Philippians 3 that the Jews were circumcised in order to be recognized as separated from the world in which they lived. He goes on to say in 3:3, "For it is we (the Believer) who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh..." In other words, Christians do not need to be physically circumcised as a sign of being separated to God from the world. It is by virtue of knowing Jesus as Savior, worshipping in Spirit and in Truth, and not relying on "doing" that separates us from the world in which we live. That is why we don't have to worry about the letter of the Law as much as we need to adhere to the spirit of the Law. That is why we dress modestly by the standards of our culture and we never even consider not wearing two(2) different types of fabric's. That is why I don't ask my barber to avoid cutting the corners of my hair but I keep what I do have neat and presentable. That is why I trim my beard the way I like it (in fact most Christians I know don't even have beards to trim!?!) That is why I eat meat.

I believe that I may offend some Christians with my tattoo. I'm not sure why. I think some of them may see it as anit-Biblical which is why I wrote the above argument. I think some see it as a form of rebellion.
I do understand that at some point in our American history, tattoos represented angry young people with something to prove. I know there are a lot of men and women who identified with motorcycle gangs in the 70's that got tattoos. But think about this: the World War eras (I & II) saw a lot of young men getting tattooed. I think both of my grandfathers had tattoos. Our family didn't consider them rebellious at all. But today, tattoos' are a culturally accepted form of expression. I know, I know, just because culture accepts certain things doesn't mean Christians should. But in the case of my personal choice to permanently mark my body with a symbol representing my relationship with Jesus Christ is accepted by the culture I'm trying to reach. I truly don't understand why some Christians believe it is good to wear T-shirts with Christian symbolism and religious messages on them, but then look down on a person who chooses to permanently wear the same symbols.

I would love as much feed back as I can get in order to become more informed with way others feel about this issue!

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Check this big guy out! This is Barney, my new best friend! He is a 5 year old Golden Retriever. We heard about him through a friend of Pastor Dave's. An older couple has retired and would like to travel without a big dog to take of. Apparently, there were a few people who called about taking Barney home, but the owner didn't feel they met the proper requirements. When I called and told him about the connection with Pastor Dave, he told me to come over and take a look. I called Kim and told her that we have an opportunity to have her dream dog breed for free with a months worth of dog food and she said we could go "just to see him." We picked up the kids early from school and away we went.

When we arrived, Barney met us at the door. I think it was love at first sight! We all felt an instant connection to each other, but weren't sure that should take him away from his owner. After a few moments of talking with his owner, we realized that Barney had been this man's best friend for five years. Kimy and I both felt a little awkward at first because the older gentleman truly loves this dog. Somewhere during our visit, the gentleman began to shed a few tears and then mentioned that he had been waiting for a family like ours to give Barney a good life. That did it! Kimy, Cassie, Bailey and I couldn't keep our own tears back. We loaded Barney and all his paraphernalia into my car and headed home.

Some of you might know that we already have a little terrier mix dog that we love. You might also know that we have been talking for a while now about giving her to a family with plenty of room and children for Sydney to run and play with. We really do love her, but she needs more room than we can give her. I'll upload a picture of her soon, but in the mean time, if you or someone you know would be interested hearing more about her being a part of your family, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

I'm So Skeered

Hey everybody! Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Things have been a little crazy since my trip to Jamaica. I messed up my back (which really slowed me down for over a week!) and things have been busy at the church getting ready for summer! Check out Pastor Dave's Blog for an update on what we've been up to at Willow Community Church.

Over the next 6 (six) Thursdays, I will be teaching "How To Share Your Faith Without Fear" (not to be confused with the "Share Jesus Without Fear" by Bill Fay). This is a curriculum I wrote for teens way back in 1999, but I have adapted it for use with all ages at the same time. "...Share..." is quite possibly my favorite class to teach.

The class opens with a clip from "Indiana Jones and Last Crusade" (quite possibly my favorite movie!). During the climax of the film, Indy must save his father from a bullet wound. He goes through all kinds of traps and mechanisms that test his courage and his patients in order to get to the one thing that might just save his father's life. Eventually, though, he overcomes every obstacle because the fear of losing his father out-weighed his fear of losing his own life. Now That'll Preach!

I have found that most Christians really want to tell people about their experience with Jesus. I have also found that most Christians don't feel equipped to it. Most people are intimidated to witness to people about their faith for a number of different reasons, but the most common is simply fear. In this class, we are going to take a close look at all the areas that strike fear in the hearts of Christians all over the world. The fear of saying the right thing, the fear of embarrassment and the fear of rejection are just a few of the things we will deal with. We will also learn how to tell our stories in five (5) minutes or less (most non-believers really want to know your story, but not necessarily your entire biography!).

Once we get the essence of our faith story established, we will discuss some of the ways that we can start up conversations with the people we want to see in Heaven. If you are reading this and plan to attend this class, please come prepared write down three names of people you would like to approach about their spiritual state. I also believe that there are numerous clues in each person's life that invites us to approach a spiritual conversation. Things like the Gold Cross around a young ladies neck behind the counter at Burger King, a crucifix on the dashboard of your neighbor's car, a T-shirt with an expletive on the front worn by a kid at the park or a pentagram tattooed on the arm of a biker dude at the coffee shop are all invitations to talk about spiritual stuff. Sounds intimidating, doesn't it? But Christians must be afraid of not sharing what they believe instead of being afraid to share what they believe! Check out the Willow web site to get directions to the church. Hope to see you there!!