Imagine/ Reimagine

imagineJohn Lennon’s Imagine is a beautiful song.  It has more than a meaningless catchy hook; the music, the molody, the lyrics are beautifully composed.  It’s one of those songs that has stood the test of time and continues to move audiences today.  (Here’s a link if you must.)

I mentioned it is not meaningless, right?  The song is beautiful to listen to but it’s the substance that should offend Christian sensibilities.  If an angry atheist were shouting on the street corner that there is no God, we would certainly notice.  Perhaps argue with him.  But Imagine shares the same message – that without religion the world would be a better place – in a much more palatable form.  I enjoy hearing the song even though I disagree with it’s philosophy.  Many have probably heard it without listening to it.  “Imagine there’s no heaven.”  I’d rather not.

I submit for your approval Reimagine.

Blogger Flagrant Regard (his first name is Martin, but that’s all I know) has taken what we like about Imagine but asks the listener to do the opposite.  Realize there is a heaven to gain, a hell to shun, and that Calvary makes all the difference.  Hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize that he is not the problem but the solution.  The Gospel is Good News; it is the cure and not the disease.

Please read the backstory in the author’s own words.  Props to our friend Paul for sharing.

Christians and Santa Claus

I opened the floor for comments on Santa and got them.  I didn’t go out looking for it, but ran across this sermon outline.  If you’re looking for a scriptural basis that Santa is from Satan, well there it is.  And now for my bit.

Christmas – It’s worth noting to begin with that not all Christians celebrate Christmas.  The Christ mass is Roman Catholic in origin, which is enough to cause some Protestants to avoid it.  Eastern Orthodoxy originally celebrated the day in January, and few countries using the Julian calendar (such as Ethiopia and Russia) still do.  Many of the traditions are clearly not Christian, and some speculate (the history is uncertain) that the December 25th date corresponds to the winter solstice and pagan celebrations.  Tree decorating really was a pagan element that Christians “borrowed” for their own celebration.  The argument can also be made that there is no scriptural command to celebrate Christ’s birth.  Jesus said “This do in remembrance of me” at the Last Supper, but after his birth is recorded in the Gospels there is really no further mention of it.  Only two Gospels record the birth of Christ, Matthew and Luke, but all four record his death, burial and resurrection.  The incarnation is fundamental to Christian theology, but celebrating Jesus’ birth is not. Continue reading

What We Bring to the Table

Paul Wilkinson is the author of Thinking Out Loud and Christianity 201.  Today he is our guest.  (And no, that’s not him in the picture.)

Back on the Labor Day weekend, Clark asked me to consider writing something for his readers here. I was honored, but also confused. What could I possibly bring to The Master’s Table that wouldn’t be the blog equivalent of showing up at Clark’s house and painting graffiti all over his living room walls?  I believe this is part of a larger “table” question we should ask ourselves on a regular basis,

What Do I Have to Bring to the Table?

I don’t do a lot of formal meetings in the course of a year, but when they come up, I like to arrive prepared. If there are multiple people involved, sometimes I will say nothing for the first twenty minutes, looking for the idea that’s being missed, the implication that’s not being considered, the parallel to another situation that’s not being remembered. Then I will interject something that I feel is helpful. I want to make a contribution, not simply nod in agreement or call for the vote. Continue reading

Asleep at the Wheel

We hear a lot these days about texting and driving, but there’s a million ways to not pay attention to the road.  You could be talking to a person in the car with you, changing the radio dial, reading; I saw a guy on I-75  in Atlanta shaving with a cordless razor.  Have you ever driven on auto pilot?  Perhaps you’re deep in thought or just daydreaming, then suddenly realize where you are.  If you drive a route routinely you do it without really thinking about it.  That will become a problem if something non-routine happens, like a car suddenly breaking or kids running out in the road.  Drivers don’t have to be drunk or texting to be zoned out.

1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Not living in a drunken stupor is not enough, we have to watchful.  We must be vigilant.  In chapter 1 Peter tells us to prepare our minds for action.  Riding a motorcycle requires more presence of thought driving a car; a few seconds on autopilot could be the end of your trip.  Riders are trained to watch further down the road in order to anticipate problems, as well as be aware of what’s going on behind them on the road.

The Church can’t function on auto pilot.   Continue reading

Auto Ichthus

The Ichthus (also Christian fish, Jesus fish) is a symbol of Christianity from the early days of the church.  In short, “ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is an acronym for ‘Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ’, (Iēsous Christos,Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior’ “.  -Wikipedia; more here.  The symbolism is still used today on everything from youth group t-shirts to church websites.  A common usage is the auto decal ichthus, and it is the pro’s and con’s of this phenomenon I wish to examine here.

Some Christian leaders do not believe a public declaration of faith is necessary.  If we live our lives as “people of the book” then others will see there is a difference in us.  If you arrive early for work, aren’t stealing the office supplies, and take responsibility for your own mistakes, then you may very well stick out like a sore thumb.  The argument is that if we as Christians conform to the image of Christ, and walk circumspectly of the world, then we don’t need Christian t-shirts, auto emblems nor anything else to announce our presence.  If we need to wear signs identifying ourselves as Christian, maybe there’s a problem.  Continue reading

Christians Response to Gay Advertising

Over the weekend I got a rather feisty comment on my Ellen DeGeneras post from February (link).  The commenter railed on Christians that would still shop at JC Penny after they “actively supported this!”  I thought the article was clear that what the retail chain supported was buying more stuff; they sell lots of women’s clothing and DeGeneras is a public iconic figure that wears women’s clothing and probably knows a thing or two about shopping.  Mr. Smith, in his comment, used words like faggot, queers, and terms such as “the homos” and suggested we would talk about his language while ignoring the depravity around us.  Which does beg the question: What should the Christian response be to the proliferation of homosexuality in our culture? Continue reading

What is the Gospel?

The goal of the Master’s Table is to be God honoring and Christ centered.  The importance of living Christ-centered Christian lives is stressed on the About page, explaining Christ should be at the center of everything Christians do.  Perhaps you’ve heard me say (and by heard I mean read) that the Bible is about Jesus.  The Bible tells one story, of how a holy God relates to a sinful, broken and fallen people.  At the center of the that story is Jesus.

I talk a lot about the Gospel.  I attempt to preach the Gospel in every single sermon, regardless of where in the Bible the sermon begins or what the “topic” is.  I have endeavored to not only share the Gospel but also explain what it is, what the word means, and why it is important for Christians to keep hearing it.  Of all the things the church has to offer, the Gospel is what the world needs to hear. Continue reading

From the Archives: Jesus Was Not Religious

During his lifetime Jesus was an observant Jew.  But doing more and more religious things is not the same as living a life that is being transformed into the image of Christ.  The following was originally published June 22, 2009.

I’ve said before that the problem with religion is that it’s easier than following Jesus.  It is usually a given that something is wrong with us, wrong with the world, perhaps critically or else just a little off, but most people agree that something must be done because all is not right in the world as it is.  Religion, in most cases, offers us the chance to do something.  If we read the right book, say the right things, act right, talk right and treat each others the right way we can “fix” what is wrong.  Religion, as such, is worthless.  But what could I mean that Jesus was not religious?

The religious leaders of his day were the Pharisees, and a careful reading of the Gospels shows that Jesus never really had much good to say about them.  He was always willing to share with anyone seeking to understand the truth (i.e. Nicodemus), but as a group Jesus was most likely to call them hypocrites, false teachers, spiritually blind, and sometimes worse.  Continue reading

Not Enough Hours in the Day

There are posts filed away that were started and never finished.  I have ideas that never got as far as unfinished posts.  There are things I would like to share that are just never going to happen.  There are just not enough hours in the day for me to blog everything I would like to.

Blue Like Jazz (written by Donald Miller, see also Searching for God Knows What) has been made into a movie.   It opens April 13th.  I saw this a couple of days ago about Barack Obama’s Christianity, and read an interesting article asking “Who is authorized to Baptize?” at SBC Voices.  I wish I could read everything on the Christian blogosphere and link to everything you should read, but for the time being I’ll leave that to Paul Wilkinson (Wednesday Link List) and Jeff Dunn (Saturday Ramblings on Internet Monk).  I rely on those guys to keep me informed.

Maybe I want too much.  Isn’t that always the way?  We’re in full time ministry, raising a two-year-old, and I’m trying to finish a book.  The same book I’ve started three times already, this time making it to chapter six.  Sometimes I daydream about starting a vlog, but I started a Bible Survey website that never got out of Genesis.  I probably don’t need to do more, but focus on doing a better job at what’s already on my plate.  Still, I look at these guys that post 3 or 4 times a day, often more than I do in a week, and think how do they do that?  Must be nice.