links: this went thru my mind

 

Christianity: The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity is Growing the Fastest

“Are you surprised to see that 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa? Did you notice 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries? Did you catch that not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list?”

Civility, hate, Obama, President, racism & respect: Hating President Obama [required reading]

“I know many people who not only hate President Obama, but are proud of doing so.”

Corporal punishment, parenting & spanking: Random Thoughts on Spanking or not Spanking as a Parent

“To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting. Parents ask me frequently for my opinion on the issue. It is an important, but seldom talked about by those who teach on parenting.”

Culture, death, funerals, grief & mourning: * How Culture Stops Mourners From Healing; * How to Plan for Death

* “Our death denying culture continues to send the message to mourners that the healthiness of an individual’s grief is to be measured by how quickly and proficiently the mourner ‘gets over’ the loss and moves into a productive life. … The problem is that our society considers talk about death and grief as morbid and taboo. Living in an atmosphere where grief emotions and mourning are stifled we mourners sometimes feel forced to carry unexpressed grief and unresolved issues concerning a loss throughout our lives.”

* “As most people know, your death doesn’t only affect you; it affects everyone that you surround yourself with, and it’s important that you leave this world on good terms. There are many ways to make amends with your loved ones before passing, but of these things are a few that stand out above the rest.”

Demographics, Hispanics/Latinos: Mapping the Latino Population, By State, County and City

“Today, the 100 largest counties by Hispanic population contain 71% of all Hispanics. … But the share of all Hispanics who live in these same counties has fallen from 75% in 2000 and 78% in 1990 … reflecting Hispanic population growth outside of these 100 counties. … Half (52%) of those counties are in three states—California, Texas and Florida. Along with Arizona, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, these eight states contain three-quarters (74%) of the nation’s Latino population.”

Denominations: Denominational Diversity in North America: Why Are There So Many Denominations? [required reading]

“Why do denominations form? Why are there so many of them? These are complex questions with even more complex answers. Every denomination has its own unique mix of factors that influenced its origins. At the risk of over-simplifying, we can identify several of these factors that led to many denominations …”

Earth & geography: Another ‘Grand Canyon’ Discovered Beneath Greenland’s Ice

“Scientists reported Thursday that they’ve discovered a vast canyon, twice as long as the Grand Canyon. It carves a deep scar from the center of the world’s largest island out to the coast. And, oh … it’s buried beneath as much as two miles of ice. Yes, we’re talking about icy Greenland.”

God: Thinking about God Makes Me Just Want to Keep My Mouth Shut [required reading]

“I think this is what God laughing at us looks like.”

Grace: Max Lucado Goes Overboard on Grace

“The apostle Paul never seemed to exhaust the topic of grace—what makes us think we can? He just kept coming at it and coming at it from another angle. That’s the thing about grace. It’s like springtime. You can’t put it in a single sentence definition, and you can’t exhaust it. No other philosophy or religion has anything quite like this idea that God takes the initiative and comes after us—not just to save us, but also to sustain us.”

Income tax & poverty: 43% Pay No Federal Income Taxes

“The majority this year — nearly 67% — have incomes below $30,000. … A misconception about those who end up owing no federal income taxes — especially those with low incomes — is that they pay no taxes at all. In fact, most pay payroll taxes to support Medicare and Social Security as well as sales taxes and state and local taxes.”

Prayer: 6 Ways to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

“Use it as a model. … Pray the prayer word for word. … Set aside certain times to pray the prayer. … Pray it with others. … Pray it in private. … Designate a certain part of the prayer to pray each day.”

Tradition: * Tradition: Chronological Snobbery [required reading]; * Restoring The Future

* “I’m part of a movement called Churches of Christ, and if you think back on the history of Churches of Christ or the Restoration Movement, you will see we effectively married ourselves to the Spirit of the age, only we were unaware of it at the time. This is why churches that are planted in different parts of the country and the world look so very similar to a 1970′s Texas or Oklahoma Church of Christ…even if they are in California in 2013. We tied our theology to our methodology, and kept answering the questions that people were asking back in 1970, even if no one was asking those same questions today. And this is mostly because we didn’t allow any Church Tradition to guide us.”

* “Some get stuck in the past. Others get stuck in the present. Paul wants his friend in Philippi to keep looking ahead.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible literacy & reading: What People Quote vs. What They Read

“… people read the Bible primarily as a loosely organized collection of inspiring quotes surrounded by confusing babble … this way of reading the Bible is a rejection of the flow and structure of the canon.”

Children, parenting & technology: Resisting the Siren Call of the Screen [required reading]

“The message we communicate to our kids, she writes, is: ‘Everybody else matters more than you.’ Children, she declares, ‘are tired of being the ‘call waiting’ in their parents’ lives.’”

Church, community, discipleship, faith & fellowship: Passing on the Faith in a Makeshift Choir Stall

“It’s hard to pass on the faith … when people of different age groups don’t engage each other intimately.”

Faith & youth: On Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as U.S. Teenagers’ Actual, Tacit, De Facto Religious Faith [essential reading]

“Here we summarize our observations in venturing a general thesis about teenage religion and spirituality in the United States. … The creed of this religion, as codified from what emerged from our interviews with U.S. teenagers, sounds something like this …”

Tradition: Breaking Tradition [essential reading]

“… every tradition, at one point, was a break with the status quo. Every tradition started off with trying to do something new and fresh and compelling. And over time, what was once revolutionary becomes static and codified. We stop paying attention to what the tradition was trying to do, and only focus on what it did.”

this went thru my mind

 

Brotherly love: What Does It Mean To Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother? 1 John 3:16-18

“John tells us that, like Jesus, we ought to lay down our lives for others. No surprise there, but notice the example he gives of what this looks like. He doesn’t tell of a Christian dying for another Christian. John’s illustration of how to lay down your life for others is to help someone in need. The truth of the matter is, few of us will ever die for another person, while all of us have the opportunity to put others first on a daily basis.”

Christianity: The Shifting Global Church [infographic]

“* 4,300 people were leaving the church in Europe and North America while 16,500 people were coming in in Africa. * In a hundred years’ time, Africa has grown by 36x while Europe has only doubled. * China is currently the fastest region of growth at 16,500 new Christians a day, despite strong governmental resistance.”

Guidance & heart: Follow Your Heart – Why That’s a Bad Idea

“Obedience is that guide. Anything else is a bad idea.”

Ministry & success: Wanting vs Needing Your Church To Be Successful [essential reading]

“A definition of success that focuses solely on numbers (attendance, offerings) is unhealthy (for the pastor) and unrealistic. My experience in working with pastors and the churches they lead has shown time after time that a church can be healthy and not grow. I’ve also come to realize that a church can be unhealthy and grow. Strange as that may sound, it is true. I don’t think it’s necessary, or wise, to ignore attendance and offerings, but what is necessary is to find a definition of success that has very little to do with numbers.”

Persecution: Paper-Cut Persecution

“I have found myself coming across a lot of in the media and online from North American Christians referring to themselves as suffering for their faith or even being persecuted. Almost without exception, when I dig into their issues it most often is a situation where Christians have lost a place of privilege in our culture (one that we should perhaps not have had in the first place), but are responding to it as though they are being put to the rack.”

Repentance: How To Repent When You Want To But You Don’t Want To

“Repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sins! Intimacy with God is still out on the frontier for many who have been in the church for decades.  Closeness with God has been suffocated by sincere (yet often empty) intimacy with church attendance, brand of church attendance, projects to involve the church attenders, and the ever-famous “decent and in order” form of the church attenders.  Much of church has been everything but intimacy with God. But we are learning.”

Tradition: Tradition: How To Stick It to the Man

“‘Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.’ – Jaroslav Pelikan

this went thru my mind

 

Bibliolatry: Harm in Holy Things

“Many Christians are much more at ease with studying the Bible than coming to Jesus. Reading a Book is safer, more comfortable than relating to a Person, especially an enigmatic, revolutionary Person like Jesus.  Insidious pride lurks in our hearts when we presume to know the Book, possess it, revere it and then misuse it to fence off undesirable types of people from our tidy lives. People, well-intentioned, begin to substitute finding something new and refreshing in the Bible without ever relating to the holy, very present God.”

Communication, courtesy, relationships, respect, smartphones & technology: How Smart Phones Lower CQ [required reading]

“Technology is not the enemy. And cold turkey approaches are unrealistic. … But we can reclaim control over our technology, rather than merely being seduced by its pings. A few simple ways to begin, when you travel and when you’re home.”

Faith, politics & prayer: * What President Obama SHOULD Have Said About Louie Giglio by Michael Lukaszewski; * Four Myths about Louie Giglio’s Inauguration Prayer (Or Lack Thereof) by Rachel Held Evans

* “As the President of the United States, I ask for the prayers of all Americans, those who share the beliefs of this administration and those who do not.”

* “We also have to be careful of using the word “bully” to describe what happened with Giglio, especially when we are dialoguing with folks whose experience with ‘bullying’ may very well have included physical violence, decades of merciless taunts, hateful slurs, and mistreatment at the hands of Christians.”

Food stamps & welfare: Spike That Email About Welfare And Work; Fact Checkers Say It’s Not True by Mark Memmott

“If you’ve gotten the “Death Spiral” email that’s apparently been arriving in many inboxes, here’s the verdict from two major, nonpartisan fact checkers: It is NOT true, as the email claims, that in 11 states there are more people on welfare than there are working.”

Humility: Well Done Dr. Neller by Jonathan Storment

“… each of us have a canon within a canon. That is, everyone who reads the Bible, privileges certain verses over others, and it’s important to acknowledge which passages we lean into. Because, he said, this will affect the way you do ministry and the way you view God.”

Investigation, learning, questioning, teachability & tradition: When Cute Little Bunnies Talk Theology [required reading]

“Of course, the point of this bunny dialogue is applicable not just to creationism but to other issues of theological disagreement where the familiarity and safety of an ‘authoritative tradition’ collides with thoughtful and needed exploration that challenges that authority.”

50 things I once believed (3)

 

So, how and why did I come to change my mind about these matters of my faith? I see at least seven steps common to virtually all of my change in belief.

First, someone challenged my thinking. In essence, they dared to say to me, “I respectfully disagree, and here’s why.” It wasn’t a matter of confrontation or debate, simply a clear and respectful challenge (let me underscore the word “respectful”). Someone dared to ask me why I believed what I believed, patiently listened to my response, and then either deliberately tried to set up a checkpoint of thought in my path or tried to plant in my mind the seed of a differing view.

In a few words, they disagreed with me without being disagreeable about it. As a result, I learned, and continue to learn, to welcome, rather than resent, questions about my faith.

Second, I dared to truly consider what the person had said or written. Actually “consider” isn’t a strong enough word; “ponder” is more accurate. But we’re talking baby steps here; consider, then ponder! This is often no easy thing to do, particularly given the speed at which we live our lives today and how so very much competes for our attention every minute of every day. Distractions are about us like the air; they’re everywhere. But unless a thought, especially a challenging thought, has time to settle deep into our mind, we will never open ourselves up to the chance of changing our mind.

If I changed my mind about something, it was because I didn’t let things go in one ear and straight out the other. This could very well be the most personally challenging of all the steps I’ll list here, for a full and busy life is not a friend to reflection.

Third, I talked with God about these things with faith. I prayed for God to shed his light on the matter. I asked him to show me if I was wrong, where I was mistaken, and what path to take. I trusted him to lead me to a better understanding and practice of his will. I believed he would cross my path with the people, places, things, and experiences that would answer my requests of him.

I believe he did. And I believe he does.

Fourth, I sought more information from the person who planted the seed. This rarely happened at the time of the question or challenge, but came about instead after pondering the matter a bit. It was as simple as saying to the person who had differed with me, “I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day. Tell me more. I’m here to listen and learn, not debate or argue. I want to know more about what you believe and why for your view intrigues me.” Significantly, it was in this listening that I often discovered that some, or even all, of my conceptions as to what exactly others believed, or why they believed what they did, were often skewed mistaken.

How very embarrassing, but, oh, how enlightening is this step! In this I continue to learn that embarrassment is more often than not, a necessary part of learning. If I will not risk shame, I will not grow. It’s as simple as that.

Fifth, I investigated matters for myself. That is, I started reading and digging into the subject at hand and as I did so, I deliberately read outside of my comfort zone. I read things that challenged my views and differed from my understandings. I read the other person’s mail, so to speak. I tried to walk a mile in their moccasins. And as I did so, I deliberately tried to keep an open mind and to not engage the material in a combative spirit. And then, having read the other person’s mail, I’d go back and examine my beliefs in light of what I had encountered.

I have grown to relish this step, for it is here that I hear the cogs of my mind turning most clearly.

Sixth, I began to look more closely at the fruit of my beliefs and the fruit of the beliefs of others. Ideas have consequences and as I traced the trail of various beliefs to their logical ends and began to pay attention to how they were commonly and outwardly expressed, I discovered much more about the real “stuff” of these beliefs. I found that sometimes a belief that sounded reasonable in my head and didn’t meet strong resistance when expressed in words, actually made little sense at all, or was contradictory to the facts at hand, when put into practice. Typically, what I learned from these observations came as a complete surprise to me. I had expected one thing, but witnessed another. I believed that practice is the acid test of faith, but I came to realize that if I didn’t hang around long enough to see what happens to the belief when it was put into the acid, I’d never really know what my beliefs, or the beliefs of others, were made of.

I can’t begin to say how immensely powerful this single step was to opening my eyes up to my change in belief on some matters (for example, #6 on my list). Some of the most humbling experiences in my life have come from taking this step quite seriously. I believe it is one of the most commonly overlooked and least often practiced of the disciplines mentioned here. May this change.

Finally, I made it a point to not stop looking at, thinking about, listening to, and seriously considering, the minority view on matters. This didn’t come naturally for me, nor did it come easily or quickly. It was something I had to work hard at developing. What influenced me strongly then was the fact that there were people around me, or people to whom I frequently exposed my mind, who believed the same way I believed. They were “the majority,” in my mind, because they were my circle of influence. What slowly dawned on me across the years is that “the minority” view on a matter needed to be given extra attention in my mind if their perspective was to ever get a fair hearing. How so? Because the influence of “the majority” was so strong in my mind that it tended to filter out any real chance of detailed consideration of differing views. And so, I made up my mind to no longer be capable of being a mere bobble-head doll, nodding in near automatic agreement with those in my circle of greatest influence. I deliberately chose to allow other perspectives to go against the flow and challenge my thinking.

This is a huge, significant step for it strongly calls out what I actually believe about God. None of us hold our beliefs alone, but majorities and minorities don’t factor into the mind of God. As a Christian, I live under his sovereignty, not my democracy.

Without a doubt, I remain a very long, long way from where God would have me to be in terms of my walk with him, and my being shaped into his Son’s likeness. But this shaping must occur, inside and out, and must not ever stop. If by sharing these things with you, you find you’ve been helped in some small way, then I know that I have been helped as well.

God have mercy and give more of his light to us all as we can see it. And may he smile on all of us as we seek to become and reflect his ways. Amen.

50 things I once believed (2)

 

Halt! You have reached an accountability checkpoint. Did you make your list of things you once believed in regard to faith, but now no longer believe? If not, stop, drop, and write. If so, proceed.

No doubt you’re wondering: “Why on earth did you ever believe some (or all) of those things?” I could name more reasons, but I’ll limit myself here to enumerating and commenting on six.

First, I came to hold the vast majority of those beliefs because someone taught them to me. If not by declaring them to me with their words, they trained me to hold them by their actions. I know of no one who willfully tried to deceive me into believing anything. Quite the opposite; they sincerely thought they were following the will of God and, perhaps even deliberately trying to enlighten me. But the fact remains that as I look back on such now I think: “My foolish heart was darkened and I didn’t even realize it at the time. As was their mind, too.”

Second, I believed many of these things because I thought they made sense to me in the moment and because I thought they helped me make sense of the people and situations around me. We humans will live without many things, but truly few of us will live without answers. And where no explanations are obvious, explanations will be created. This is just part of the stuff that makes us tick; we simply must believe something and that something must explain something going on in our head, going on around us, or both.

Third, some of these things I believed simply because I had never considered otherwise. They were things I had simply “always believed,” or so I thought. Holding such convictions was something akin to breathing; it was just something I did without need of ever giving it thought. Quite literally, some things I believed (and no doubt believe, present tense) without thinking. This, perhaps more so than all of my reflections on my beliefs, gives me great pause. To hold convictions of great consequence without thinking about them; I don’t even want to think about that! But think, I must.

Fourth, some of those matters I held as faith, but no longer do, I held because I wanted to be accepted by those around me. Now that may come as a shock to some of you who know me, and know me well. I am an independent spirit, to say the least. Perhaps my memory fails me, but I don’t recall ever choosing any conviction in my life because I thought it would gain me some inroad or standing with another. Such a mentality is nauseous to me, more nauseous than some of my former beliefs. However, just because I consciously shun such thinking, I would be a fool to think that such doesn’t work on my psyche and influence me in subtle, and unconscious (or subconscious) ways. Such is true for all of us. We are, in part, a product of our environment and we all, to one degree or another, want to fit in with our environment.

Fifth, I surely held some of those matters of faith in reaction to other beliefs. I saw what I perceived to be a great ditch on one side of the road and so I swerved hard to the other side to distance myself as far as possible from the perceived danger of the ditch … only to steer right into an equally deep, if not even more dangerous, ditch. I left the road because I feared leaving the road. No, such a position makes no sense at all, but whoever said all we humans believe springs from good sense? And so, some things I believed, no doubt came from well-intentioned, but nevertheless fatal, over-correction.

Sixth, I held all of those beliefs because I chose to believe them. I’m the one ultimately responsible for having held them, just as I’m the one finally responsible for having changed them. The buck stops here; I’m the one to blame. For all that could be said as to the influence of people, places, and things, I remain the captain of my soul, so to speak. No one forced me to believe any of these things. However I chose to embrace them, ignorantly or reflectively, I am the one who chose them.

So, why change? Hopefully there’s only one reason: because I’ve learned better. I want to believe it’s because I’ve gravitated more toward the center of God’s will. “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone.” And the clearing of the clouds, that is the owning up to the fact that a great many of my firm, religious beliefs have significantly changed through time (and will, no doubt, continue to change in years to come if God grants me life and sense), affords me, as well as others, great gain. For when I acknowledge my changes in faith:

  • I more truly own the faith I have,
  • I open my mind to more of God’s light,
  • I guard myself from merely “following the herd,”
  • I call myself afresh to sharpen my critical thinking skills,
  • I break down some of the walls that hinder those yet to believe,
  • I cultivate the soil of my heart for the growth of honest humility,
  • I make it easier for others to change and/or admit their changes,
  • I pick up off the ground some of the stumbling stones for the next generation,
  • I am stirred to be more deliberate toward keeping the unity of the Spirit among believers,
  • and I find myself moved to be more patient with, and merciful toward, those with whom I differ.

And having said that, once again you have homework: pray about these things, the things on your list. How you arrived at them and how you came to leave them behind. Your prayers will be solid preparation for the conclusion of this series in tomorrow’s post.

50 things I once believed (1)

 

Would you care to engage in a simple exercise that’s a bit humiliating and humbling, all at the same time?

What? You’re not sure you want to go there? Not to worry. Rest assured you will profit from this experience if you’ll only approach it with honesty and absolute transparency, following it up with deep reflection and prayer.

Everyone on-board now? Good; let’s do it! Here’s the exercise:

Make a list of fifty things you once believed were true in regard to faith, but now no longer believe.

Yes, there are a few rules for this exercise. Here they are:

1. Reach back over the span of your entire life, not merely listing beliefs you’ve held recently.

2. List the beliefs you held that aren’t just “safe” to admit. Go for broke and let it all hang out. Who do you think you’ll surprise? God?

3. Don’t just string up “little fish” here. Put the big fish in the cooler, too.

4. Resist the urge to cull out the beliefs you held for only a relatively short period of time. If you firmly believed it, no matter for how long, it’s a candidate for the list.

Now since I try not to ever encourage you to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to first do myself, here’s my list of 50 things I once believed in regard to faith, but no longer believe, appearing here in no particular order.

(Man alive this is embarrassing, but hey, I promised you this would be humiliating! I did tell you I no longer believe these things, right?!)

1. The only way God’s Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian is through the word of God.

2. It is forbidden by God for a Christian to ever divorce another Christian except for the reason of sexual adultery.

3. Warfare, while being a sad, lamentable state of affairs, is essentially a “non-religious issue” for being a Christian nation, we only pursue “just wars” and engage in war in such a way as God himself would unquestionably approve.

4. The only “real” English Bible translations are the KJV or ASV 1901.

5. To read or study the religious writings or messages of authors or speakers outside of the Churches of Christ is to pollute your mind and to endanger your soul.

6. It is my responsibility as a Christian to spend a significant portion of my time serving as something like a “brotherhood policeman,” watching for wrongdoers within my church heritage and publicly calling them out on their sin.

7. The Old Testament doesn’t have much of anything to offer to Christians today, having been replaced by the New Testament.

8. The Gospels are something akin to “secondary” literature compared to the importance of the Book of Acts and the epistles.

9. Audible prayer must be concluded with the statement of the phrase “in the name of Jesus;” just saying “Amen” won’t get the job done.

10. The totality of Christ’s church essentially consists of the folks who gather together on Sundays with a sign in the front of their building that reads “Church of Christ,” and only a small portion of them, to boot.

11. It is wrong to associate in any fashion, including prayer – except for the sake of attempting to make correction – with any religious teacher who is not a member of the Church of Christ.

12. The United States of America is “special” in the eyes of God compared to all other nations.

13. Virtually perfect attendance of church assemblies and stellar knowledge of the Bible are the two chief keys to becoming, and the true measure of, a faithful, growing Christian.

14. The acts I engage in during Sunday morning church assemblies are far more important to God than anything else I engage in during any of the other hours in a given week.

15. To die while in the act of sinning is a guaranteed ticket straight to hell, bar none.

16. A genuine Christian is to be about maximizing the number of Christian friends and acquaintances they have and minimizing the number of relationships they have with those who are not Christians.

17. All people who go to hell are literally, ceaselessly roasted alive in fire forever, tortured eternally by the decree of the living, loving God, be they Hitler or your golden-hearted, absolutely selfless, non-Christian neighbor.

18. Submitting to baptism for any reason other than expressly “for the forgiveness of sins” (or for any group of reasons and motivations that did not specifically include “the forgiveness of sins”) was most likely nothing more than getting wet and “doesn’t count.”

19. Everything depicted in the book of Revelation concerns the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

20. Christ’s true church had, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist between about 100 A.D. and 1800 A.D.

21. Every human being on planet earth had heard the gospel preached to them before the last of Christ’s apostles died.

22. Zero miracles have been worked in the world since the death of the last person upon which the apostles laid their hands.

23. The Roman Catholic Pope is the anti-Christ spoken of in John’s writings and the “man of lawlessness” mentioned by the apostle Paul.

24. Involvement in religious associations (such as a ministerial alliance or a church softball league) is a sign of serious compromise of Christian conviction.

25. It is wrong for a woman to pass a communion tray while standing up.

26. For a church to construct or own facilities for any purpose other than its own Bible classes, worship gatherings, and church meals is a serious misunderstanding of the purpose of the church.

27. Any view other than the days of creation (as mentioned in Genesis 1-2) being literal twenty-four periods of time is heresy.

28. It is wrong to contribute money to a church in any other fashion, or on any other day of the week, than by depositing it in the offering plate on a Sunday.

29. It is sinful for a Christian to engage in dancing of any kind in any context, just as it is wrong for a Christian to ever drink any alcohol at any time, period.

30. For a sermon to not include a direct appeal (or “invitation”) for those yet to believe to do so, to repent, and to submit to baptism, is wholly unacceptable.

31. The number of Bible verses a teacher or preacher quotes, or at least references by citation, is the second most important criteria by which the quality of a message is to be judged.

32. It is possible for all Christians everywhere to see all things alike in terms of faith.

33. Fasting is not a helpful spiritual discipline for Christians today and anyone who would suggest otherwise should be regarded with suspicion since “fasting is not a command of the New Testament.”

34. It is wrong for a Christian to wear jewelry or furnish their home with decorations depicting the cross.

35. It is wickedness for a Christian to happily listen to – much less directly participate in by singing along with – spiritual songs, psalms, hymns, or any other genre of music, that is accompanied by instrumental music.

36. The church of Christ and the kingdom of God are synonyms for the same thing, one not being anything more or less than the other.

37. It is simply not possible for anyone who has never even heard of Jesus Christ to have the slightest chance of salvation, God deliberately limiting any extension of his mercy only to those who have heard of his Son.

38. In all instances, the marriage of a Christian to someone who is not a Christian, is a marriage not fully recognized by God.

39. It is unoffensive for a nation’s patriotic symbols to be displayed in a house of worship.

40. Applause, the lifting up of hands, swaying or moving in rhythm with songs, or saying anything other than the word “Amen” – be it by man or woman, young or old – is to be avoided and frowned upon if you are a part of the audience in a worship gathering for such is unbecoming of worship offered to God.

41. Singing in a worship gathering other than congregational singing (be it a solo, a duet, a choir, etc.) is sin.

42. “The unforgivable sin” is suicide.

43. Providence is a fabrication of the mind, all human matters being solely, and strictly, the result of chance or choice.

44. God has never heard a prayer from someone he hasn’t already saved.

45. Going to a movie with a rating other than G or PG is a shameful sin, and even watching those with a rating of PG is suspect.

46. It is simply inconceivable to call yourself a Christian and vote any other way than straight-ticket Republican.

47. To remove life support, once begun and deemed necessary, is actually murder, in virtually any and all situations.

48. Heaven is a place with streets of real gold.

49. Virtually nothing is a matter subject to individual conscience for virtually all things are matters of faith (cf. #32 above ).

50. Grace is something best not talked about, for it is a “behind the scenes” teaching of Scripture, easily misunderstood, and not really relevant to everyday Christian living.

Well, by now you must either be thinking, “You’re mighty dumb, Dave!” or “What cult did you crawl out of, Smith?”

While I won’t try to argue the observation or the question, I will gladly share with you why I’m sharing this list with you … but, you’ll have to read tomorrow’s post to get it.

And I’m going to ask you to make your own list of things you used to believe in terms of faith before you read it. That’s right, you’ve got homework to do so go to it. If you hit a wall, ask someone who has known you a long time, and known you well. I’m sure they’ll help you remember a few things!