Saturday, November 29, 2008

#55 The Prayer of Jabez


In I Chronicles chapter 4 there is a story about a man named Jabez who asked God for things and he got them. In recent years this prayer inspired a book called The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life. The book became a ginormous bestseller and spawned a marketing frenzy during which the book was modified slightly to target women, teens* and children.


In the book the author states,
"I want to teach you a prayer that God ALWAYS answers."
He also says
"I believe [the prayer of Jabez] contains the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God."
A key? A prayer that God ALWAYS answers? My spidey sense is tingling!

In the last chapter of the book the author challenges** the reader to make the Jabez prayer a daily routine and he gives six steps, the first two of which are:

1. Pray the Jabez prayer every morning, and keep a record of your daily prayer by marking off a calendar or a chart you make especially for the purpose.

2. Write out the prayer and tape it in your Bible, in your day-timer***, on your bathroom mirror, or some other place where you'll be reminded of your new vision.

Spidey sense on red alert!!


There is a prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He talked about it during the sermon on the mount. It doesn't emphasize material gain but it's still pretty neat, mainly because Jesus actually told his followers to pray in this way. I'm just sayin'.

*Christian culture uses the word "teens" and tries to find ways to appeal to said "teens."
**Christian culture also enjoys "challenging" each other to things, invariably pertaining to spiritual discipline.
***See previous post on the pervasiveness of Day-Timers in Christian culture.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

#54 Not Hillary Clinton


Christian culture just can't stand Hillary Clinton. She makes 'em all madder than a wet hen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

#53 Making An Impact

Christian culture is obsessed with making an impact. Churches hire marketing teams and ministries hire strategists for this purpose. "We need to make an impact!" "We’re making an impact for God!" But any impact that is made for good is God's doing entirely, and the more we contrive to impact the more we get in the way. The church isn’t a business to be promoted, and Jesus isn’t a commodity. How well a church is really doing isn’t reflected in the number of people it draws. Concentrating on your impact can be a distraction, and then it's a warp tunnel straight to the core of Christian culture: Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship. Big numbers can make a church feel good about itself, but then God's purpose is lost. And then where is your impact? Probably up your arse.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:

"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Frauds! I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either. You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned. You're hopeless! What arrogant stupidity!

You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God's Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

#52 Not Legalizing Gay Marriage


Boy howdy, Christian culture does not like the idea of gay marriage. They really, really, really do not. Christian culture feels strongly that legalizing gay marriage would hurt the institution of marriage and that it would be a shock to our fundamental understanding of human social relations and institutions. They also feel that legalizing gay marriage would cause God to bring his judgment against America.

Dr. James Dobson, who has been referred to as "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by Time magazine, [1] also made this statement on the subject:
“Indeed, those charges are already being leveled against Christians who espouse biblical values. How about group marriage? Or marriage between daddies and little girls? Or marriage between a man and his donkey? Anything allegedly linked to civil rights will be doable, and the legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed." [2]
The possibility of donkey marriage becoming legal is terrifying to people who hold moral conventions close to their hearts. But Jesus did not endorse morals or politics. Jesus endorsed love and relationship. In particular, he endorsed showing unmerited favor (i.e., grace) to members of society whom the Pharisees deemed unsavory (i.e., tax collectors and prostitutes. Do homosexuals fall in this category?). Making same-sex marriage legal would mean Christians would have to relinquish some political and moral control and trust the issue to God. It is quite a conundrum for the Christian culture, indeed.