Cultural Glimpse

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Tag: God

God is the Recipe

God

“God is not an ingredient in your life,” said Pastor Aaron. “He is the recipe.”

Pastor Aaron talked about how people love God and get spiritual when life is rough and they’re having problems. But during good times, they forget about God. God gets put on the wayside.

“If you want to add God into your life, you have to subtract something from it,” he said. “In order to bring God into my life I have to remove what’s offensive to him.”

He took a glass of water and poured it into a full pitcher of water.

“We overflow the boundaries of life, and everything spills over and becomes saturated by what we add,” he said. “We end up making a mess.”

The pastor implored us not to waste time on this earth by waiting for something to happen. He also talked about the importance of prayer without ceasing, which means a continuous attitude and communication with God without being unproductive.

“Oftentimes we look at the enemy and say [confrontationally] let’s go,” he said. “We should focus on God rather than the enemy.”

To do that, he prays, “God, you got a problem here (whether in the church, the community, the neighborhood). How do You want me to help?”

“That prayer keeps your eyes on God and not on yourself,” He said.

I thought, it will also help us clean the mess we’ve made on this earth and replace it with a beautiful and delicious Recipe.

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Choosing Faithfulness

Pastor Aaron (2)

Pastor Aaron read from 1 Samuel 2:12

“Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot.”

He stopped and said, as if to himself, “It’s always dangerous to talk about food, especially when it’s barbecue, especially during second service.”

The congregation laughed.

Being light-hearted and down-to-earth makes it so much easier to feel God’s message. This is what happens every Sunday at Freedom Christian, where the pastor incorporates the bible’s teachings into his everyday family life. He turns the act of helping a man shovel his snow into a thoughtful and humorous story. The man whom he helped thanked him and asked, “Where do you work?”

“I’m a pastor.”

“Oh, you’re a man of God.”

“A title does not make me a man of God,” said the pastor. “You should know me for a few years and decide whether or not I am a man of God.”

He added that some Christian colleges are worse than regular colleges. They have the same ungodliness but they are wrapped up with religious terms.

The sermon’s topic was not religious terms, but it was about Samuel proving that we can be faithful in an unfaithful environment.

“You choose faithfulness and you choose unfaithfulness and then faithfulness and unfaithfulness chooses you,” he said. “I will take a faithful person in my life more than someone who is talented or someone who is flashy. Faithfulness means being faithful again and again and again. It’s being faithful in your life from the east of your life to the west of your life, from the north of your life to the south of your life.”

The pastor’s last words during today’s sermon were “Examine one area in your life where you can be faithful and work all week to make it a strength.”

 

John of God

John of God

I had an interesting and wise visitor come over for lunch. As we sat over a meal of zucchini stew and red rice, Reverend Barbara told me stories of her several trips to Brazil where she went to see John of God at work.

John of God, a Catholic, is an unconscious medium and healer who sees over 1000 people a day, free of charge. It is estimated that he has treated, either directly or indirectly, up to 15 million people during the past 40 years. He has cured malignant tumors, made a blind person see, and the lame suddenly walk. Yet he always says, “I do not cure anybody. God heals, and in his infinite goodness permits the Entities to heal and console my brothers.”

Reverend Barbara recounted the story of John of God’s childhood and young adulthood. In the past, he was persecuted by the church and government authorities as a result of this gift. That did not stop him from his mission and he continued to help anyone who asked him for help. In the end, he gained the respect and acceptance of high-profile politicians such as the president of Peru and the mayors of assorted Brazilian towns who protected him and allowed him to continue to use his gifts to heal people.

I asked why she thought the church saw him as a threat.

“They think it goes against the Bible’s teachings,” she said. “But the Bible had books that talked about incarnation and women having leadership roles. Those books were ultimately not included in the Bible.”

Not included. You see, there was an editing process to the bible that today continues – with mainstream media and publishing outlets. Gary J. McDonald describes it best in his article Why Christianity Rejected Reincarnation:

Who created the New Testament? Was it Jesus? Was it His apostles? Was it God? The answer is none of the above. The first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine the Great (285-337 AD), in the year 325 AD called together the First Ecumenical Council (a religious council) which consisted of the five main churches at the time to determine which opposing viewpoints concerning Jesus’ teachings would constitute religious doctrine. Hundreds of writings by a wide range of authors were considered and voted on. Yes, voted on! A number of writings received a majority vote while many other books, some with opposing viewpoints, were subsequently excluded. A few of the more noteworthy texts that did not make the cut include The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Thomas, and The Acts of Paul.

As additional ecumenical councils met over the centuries, certain words or sentences contained within the Bible were altered or deleted; in some instances, whole sections were removed. Many of the translations from Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek (the original languages of the Bible) to other languages were incorrectly translated and as a consequence, the wrong meanings were applied to them. Those that believed in ideas or texts that contradicted the decisions made by the councils were called heretics and faced excommunication from the church. Ecumenical Councils over time determined what was to be considered religious doctrine and what wasn’t. Many scholars believe that the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553 AD) deleted most verses addressing reincarnation from the Bible. But why? The reasons are simple. The church elders wanted the general populace to believe that it was only through the church and its elders could anyone communicate with God or ever hope to reach heaven. This kept all power within the church versus within the people themselves. And since the elders were men, this kept women at a subordinate level as well.

As we finished our lunch and were enjoying tea with clotted cream and date syrup, Reverend Barbara casually brought up a powerful point. “Jesus said whatever I do you can do the same and better, which means we’re capable of healing as well. If Jesus is telling the truth, if he was not lying, then why aren’t we doing what he says?”

Starting Point: Find Your Place in the Story

Jesus2

When I signed up for “Starting Point”, a ten week bible study class, I was not sure why I signed up. All I knew was that the past sixteen months of going to Freedom Christian had taught me quite a bit about the religion I was born into, the religion of my ancestors, and I wanted to honor this religion by learning more.

Each week, people in the group talked about their story of faith, and then through a book, CD, and conversations with the pastor and his wife we explored many subject matters, particularly the role God has played in our story up until now. Thought-provoking questions were raised and ways of becoming more intimate with God were discussed. Everyone’s courage in sharing their stories, in proclaiming how their faith changed their lives, touched and inspired me.

Through the process, I began to see my place in the story, remembering my grandparents who lived in the then Christian village of Telkaif in northern Iraq. My maternal grandfather Tobia went to church every morning at 5:30am, before he had breakfast and began working on his farm. He went to church a second time in the evening, before dinner. I remembered my people, the Chaldeans, who were one of the first in the Middle East to embrace Christianity and I reflected on the persecution they have had to endure for hundreds of years, especially in the last ten years. I looked at my relationship with Jesus, and saw how his energy lived on from one generation to the next – in our case, for two thousand years. He was in our blood.

“I know the story Jesus has had in my life throughout the years,” I said when I shared my story with the class. “Now, through the Bible, I want to read about his story.”

So while the class ended today, my story in this journey is just beginning.