Friday, October 19, 2007

Christians in America

In the 1800's most people assumed that there was a God and that the Bible was true. Most people took for granted that they were Christian because they knew that they were not Jewish or Muslim. Most people had been to church and most people knew what and believed what the Bible said about Jesus being God's only Son and that He died to set them free. It was during this time that America experienced a spiritual awareness called the Second Great Awakening. In fact, this era helped shape the theology and doctrine of the Wesleyan Church and many other denominations existing today. It was also during this movement that many churches and denominations were formed to help shape political and cultural norms and standards such as the abolition of slavery and temperance.

Just recently a friend of mine made an observation about the difference between then and now that I thought was very interesting. He said that back then people took for granted that God was real and that the Bible was true. He also said that evangelism was different in that convincing people to get saved wasn't so much the issue as was telling them to change their ways and live the way they should.

So what about today? Do we need to just convince people to live the way they should? If so, then what standards would you use to set up the right way to do that? Do we need to convince people that God exists or that the Bible is true? Are we Christians just because we live in this country or are we Christians because we aren't anything else? For that matter, what is a Christian and how do you become one?

Let me know what you think and click the answer to my poll that best answers the question posted.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Willow With Love & Respect

Over the last several weeks, we have been promoting a new sermon series to be presented for the month of October that would deal with relationships between men and women and between man and God. We have called this series "Diamonds and Dogs". You'll notice the tag line on the pic at the top of the page as "Diamonds are a girl's best friend and a Dog is man's best friend". The idea behind this series is the fact the women and men value very different things. Most dogs have unconditional love for their master and respond with unconditional respect. Every woman I have ever met craves unconditional love and every man I have ever met craves unconditional respect.
The first two messages in this series talks specifically about how men and women are just plain different. It speaks to the thoughts of having very different opinions and ways of expressing and receiving love & respect, by using the story of Samson and Delilah found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible.The next message deals with faithfulness and serving one another in love with respect. The fairer of our species needs to feel cared for and secure. They need to know that things are taken care of. They need to have clear and concise goals met in order to relax and enjoy life. The not so fair side of our species needs to feel understood and have some say in all things concerning the relationship. They need to have authority and know that they have been heard and understood. Take a look at Ephesians 5:22 - 33 in the New Testament of the Bible for the Scripture to make these points. (Oh, please keep in mind that when Paul addresses husbands he is talking just to husbands. The things he mentioned are between the man and God. The same is true when Paul speaks to wives. For instance, when he tells the wife to submit, he is saying that that is between the woman and God. He is not saying for men to make a woman submit).The final message is about the face only a Father could love! This is a call to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We will deal with how God loves us even if we don't feel all that lovely. We will focus on why God loves us and how He shows unconditional love & unconditional respect.
(Join me in thanking Mr. Mark Goggin (Kimy's cousin!) and our very own Pastor Dave Kallenbach for the awesome art work!!!)

OK, now that have said all that, let me deeply apologize for dropping the "Diamonds and Dogs" series for the time being. Yeah, I think I really screwed up this time. You see, at Willow we talk a lot about people following God's will for their individual lives. We try very hard to help people fulfill the purpose that God has for them that only they can do. We ask people all the time to reach deep into their faith and discern what God is asking of them. We feel strongly that God will always let you do what ever you want to do, but that He will give the conviction and then the power to do what He wants you to do. I feel the conviction in many different ways, but lately I have felt it mostly in the depth of my sermon prep time and in the depth of the night when I am all alone with just my thoughts. I actually felt God telling me to remain with "Through the eyes of Matthew" because of the momentum and response we have felt on Sunday mornings. But I followed through with what we have worked so hard on and have spent so much time preparing for and ignored the internal pressure to stay with Matthew. I can't really explain why God is so insistent on me staying with Matthew, but I must obey and follow the conviction that I have taught all of our people to follow. If you have invited someone to come to Willow in order to hear a message about relationships, please let them know about the change, but encourage them to come with you anyway because we will still be talking about the ultimate relationship with God!

If you would like to get a jump on this Sundays message, read Matthew 9:14 - 17. I've entitled this message, "In The Straight Jacket".

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

American TV?

So the new TV season has kicked off. There are so many new shows that I couldn't name them all in this post, but I do want to draw your attention to a couple of them. But first let say something about the summer time TV stuff.

Earlie this summer, ABC TV launched "National BINGO Night". I really liked the show! In fact, the American Broadcasting Company really did a great job promoting the show by having BINGO cards available for the American public to play as they watch the show. American..? Now get this, the host is a very popular TV personality that received fame from his other TV show (and also a family favorite!) on ABC called, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", Ed Sanders. Ed Sanders is from England, accent and all. I like him a lot, and really have no problem with his performance, but aren't there any Americans who would have done just as good a job?

NBC launched another season of "America's Got Talent". Again, I like this show a lot (I think that is because I sometimes make my self out to be a buffoon in front of people on occasion!), but two of the three judges, Piers Morgan and Sharon Obourne are from England and David Hasselhoff is apparently an International Man of Intrigue. And then there's ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" that has Leo Goodman, also from England as one of its judges. And we all
know about FOX'S "American Idol's" Simon Cowell.

"Bionic Woman" was released just this last week. I think this is going to be a great show! I do have a little problem with the lack of detail to the source material like Jamie Sommers having a long lost sister that shows up on her door step, an illegitimate pregnancy that ended up terminating because of a horrible accident, and the presence another Bionic woman!?! I also like that the National Broadcasting Company has combined elements from in the body of the new bionic women with parts from the "Six Million Dollar Man." Think about, in todays terms, the bionics used would have cost a lot more than the bionics of the 1970's which would mean Jamie would have only a bionic little finger if they called the show "The Six Million Dollar Woman". The actress that plays Jamie Sommers is beautiful (maybe not compared to Lindsey Wagner!), and she does capture a kind of innocence that lends well to her character. The actress' name is Michelle Ryan and she is also from England. She tries very hard to cover her accent, but if you listen closely, you can hear it sneak in once in a while.

"Journey Man" is going to have to really catch up in order to have a shot at staying on the tube. It follows "Heroes" on NBC. "Heroes" is fast paced and always changing. "Journey Man", on the other hand, is bit slower and the story telling drags on without a lot of answers to questions that seem to be very important to the blot. This show really reminds me of "Quantum Leap" mixed with "Early Edition", so I don't think there is a room for lot of originality (I could be wrong about that, let me know what you think). Oh, by the way, the lead actor in "Journey Man" is Kevin McKidd (love the name!!) from Scotland.

These are just a few of the things I've seen recently. I would love to hear your comments about what you have seen and what you think about current American TV.