We don’t really want a God.

So, first a little background. I came to know Christ when I was six years old. Yes, I remember, and yes, it was very real to me. I grew up a Baptist, and I once sat in a chair next to my mom in a good ol’ fashioned Midwest revival tent until I watched the sun come up. I think I was maybe nine. Went to a Presbyterian church in Junior High. Back to Baptist in High School. Assembly of God in college and later on. When I wasn’t walking waaaayyy far away from the Lord in between. I’ve been to revivals and evangelical shindigs of all varieties. I even dabbled in a Vineyard church for a while. That was….interesting.

As an adult I’ve settled into a theology which isn’t neatly categorized, but falls somewhere between evangelical, fundamentalist and…libertarian.

I’ve read the Internet. Okay, not all of it. But, well, a LOT of it. I’ve been on chat boards and newsgroups since they were white text on a black screen. I built websites when you had to write the code by hand. I blogged before there were blogs. I’ve worked for a Christian web ministry and been a lay pastor in a Foursquare church. I’ve waded through a good deal of the emergent church movement and “progressive” Christianity. I’ve looked at Satanist sites, been steeped in apologetics, and run the gamut of cults, one-offs and also-rans in the religious world.

And through it all, I’ve come to the fairly decisive conclusion that as a group, humanity…well…we don’t really want a God.  Not really.

Sure, we talk a good game, but the fact of the matter is that our human pride is just too much in the way.

When I read the Bible, I read about a God that expects to be taken seriously.  I think it’s hard for us in the modern western world to really put God into the proper context because we’ve never lived under a true king. We’ve never lived in a time when one man, sitting on a throne, literally has the power of life and death in his hands. His word is law, and with a mere wave of his hand, he could pass a sentence of death or commute a sentence of torture or banishment. We simply have no concept of that kind of personal power.

And so we have built up this image of a squishy, malleable, approachable, gentle Sunday-school Jesus god who loves puppies and small children and pats us on the head and sends us on our way as his merry giggling children.

We don’t want a God.  We want a camp counselor, a bartender, a friend, who will listen to our problems and our woes. A confidant and confessor; a beer drinking, cigar smoking buddy who slap us on the back and tell us everything is going to be okay. And sure, God in the person of Jesus Christ can be all that and more. And yet. And yet…

In our pursuit of these Kumbaya moments, we quietly and conveniently set aside the aspects of God we find uncomfortable, challenging, even perhaps daunting and scary. We can’t square that with the ideal of the enabling cheerleader we’ve come to expect, and so we decide that that CAN’T be God! Not the god WE want!

Because what we really want is a god….not a God. A god who is just too much like us, who thinks and acts and reacts just a little too much like the way we think he or she or it should.

Instead of a God who called the very universe into being. Who spun together the elements to form galaxies and planets and stars; who brought life to this planet out of nothingness. A God who commands the very atoms of existence to obey His will. A God with the power of life and death in His hands, who can, with a mere wave of his hand, pass a sentence of eternal death or commute a sentence of torture and banishment. We simply have no concept of that kind of personal power.

We think to bargain, and negotiate, and to craft a theology that conforms to our will, crafting a god (or gods) with whom we are comfortable. A god who obeys us, who acts and behaves as WE want it to….and not the other way around.

That’s not a God. That’s an idol, formed by man in his own image.

The Bible shows us a God, not a god. Absolute power and authority, tempered by eternal love and amazing compassion. But…we cannot deny the one and hope to secure the other.

Jesus Christ is God, in every aspect. We have experienced his love, his mercy, his grace and compassion. Let us not forget, however, the very important question asked of Job – “Where were YOU when I laid the foundations of the earth?!”

The problem we have with a real God is that thorny and troublesome word, “obedience.” We balk and chafe at the idea that we must suborn our will, our desires, our plans, to an all-powerful King. In our American ideal of independence and individual autonomy, we have progressively (!) lost our ability…or at least or desire…to “bow” before a “king.” I just seems so antithetical to everything we’ve been taught to value and believe. And so we reimagine and reinvent a god more compatible with this concept of, well, basically….“You’re not the boss of ME!

Problem is…He is. He holds my life in His hands. He brought me into being, and shaped my life around me. I am his child, a son of God. Sadly…that doesn’t mean what it used to either. A child, a son, should obey his father. Trusting in him, believing that he knows and understands things that my childlike mind simply can’t comprehend. Trust. Obedience. Submission. Reverence. Even…unto…death. THAT is what our God calls us to do. And to be. And far too many of us in this modern world have decided that, if that’s what it takes, well then….

…we don’t want a God. Not really.

Thoughts From My Quiet Time: Embrace The Foolishness!

If you spend enough time on the Internet — not to say that I do of course — but if you do, you’ll find that there are a lot of really polarizing issues out there. Me, I tend to gravitate towards political and religious discussions, and those can get pretty heated pretty quick.

I’ve seen comments about Christians (and about people of faith in general) that run the gamut from enlightened commentators who state with utter certainty that Christians are mislead, ignorant, close-minded and/or foolish, to those who will insist with all sincerity and concern that teaching your children about God is “child abuse,” or that people with a strong faith in God are mentally ill and need to be rescued from their delusions. I could send you links. Really.

It’s sad, but…it’s also understandable. What Christians think and believe can seem kind of out-there sometimes…even to Christians! A God so mighty that He created the universe, and yet somehow notices something as small as me? Not only notices, but cares? Miracles and healing and a Savior who rose from the dead?! Folly! Foolishness! Bah!

It’s not easy to hold onto your faith sometimes in the face of such doubt and derision. And yet, it is essential that we do it.  Our struggle daily is, and should always be, to be more fully conformed to the image of Christ. To worry less about how we are perceived according to worldly standards, and more about how we measure up on the scale of being Christ-like.

Understanding that as Christians we will have a perspective on the world that will seem strange, confusing, even foolish to those who do not know Him, who do not see with His eyes. But maybe, just maybe, that perspective, that lifestyle that I emulate and communicate will somehow become so compelling, so troublesome, so curious that people who don’t understand it…will want to. My faith and compassion and forgiveness in the face of everything the world has to throw at me will frustrate and confuse and bewilder.

But maybe, just maybe, it will also become something so different from what they know that it will begin to take on the form of a mystery that they must solve.

The mystery of Christ.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…for since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men…God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong..  1 Cor. 18-27 (NASB)

Challenge:  Am I communicating a compelling vision of who and what Christ is, by how I live my life, by the choices I make, and by the way I love those around me?

Your papers…er…RFID, please.

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RFID - Wave of the Future?

I predicted this a while ago.  Wish I could find the link.  First it would be for pets, and then for prisoners and Alzheimer’s patients, then the military and high-risk Executives and VIPs.  And all too soon, it would be Joe Average, all under the umbrella of safety, or security, or efficiency, or convenience.  And here it all is.

You can discount the Christian end-times prophecies as a bunch of mystic hooey and conspiracy theories, but they very clearly foretell a day when no one will be able to buy or sell without a unique (digital?) identifier.

It’s called boiling the frog slowly.  Incremental implementation until their use is so ubiquitous, so commonplace, that to try and oppose or resist makes you a fringe crackpot.  Perhaps even a subversive or an “extremist.”  An anti-government kook.  Terms already being used to try and disparage and delegitimize groups like the Tea Party activists.

It’s all very convenient. What amazing, space-age technology!  Your car will only unlock or start if it “senses” your unique digital signature.  Your ATM will only dispense money to your unique digital signal.  Your office can sense your arrival, and use preset light and heat settings based on your pre-programmed preferences.  Who wouldn’t want that?!

RFID_hand_2

Just Prior to Implant

Until one day, it’s decided that biometric passports aren’t enough.  That perhaps the threat of domestic terrorism is so great that we “need” to be able to track citizens in real time.  Britain is already awash in CCTV monitors, and is leading the way in chipping everything from pets to garbage cans to people.  With an RFID implant they can track where you got on the train, when, and with who.  What you bought at the store, how much gas you used last week, and where you stop for coffee on the way to work.

RFID Injector

RFID Injector - by ID-OLOGY

These chips might be able to make us more secure, more safe, more efficient.  However, that security will come with a heavy price in lost personal freedoms.  And if, one day, it comes about that not getting chipped gets you fined or arrested?  If you can’t buy food or gas without one?  Somehow, “I told you so” just won’t seem like enough.

You scoff.  “Wingnut,” you snort.

How about:  A National Health Care database. VeriChip implants which tie your unique biological “signature” into that database. You are required by law to have insurance.  Fined if you don’t.  Imprisoned if you don’t pay your fines.  All of this is on the table TODAY in the some form in the Health Care bills being debated in Congress. All for our own good, don’t you know?

“and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”  (Rev 13:17, NASB)

What does it mean by the “number” of his name? See bolded items below. Eerily similar language to something written nearly 2,000 years ago.  Is it really such a stretch?

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US family gets health implants

US doctors have implanted chips into the arms of a Florida family containing their medical histories in a controversial new programme that doctors hope may one day become standard practice.

Chips to fight kidnapping

An US company is considering producing electronic implants that could be used to keep tabs on kidnap victims via satellite. riginally Applied Digital Solutions had intended to market its VeriChip to patients who wanted to keep their medical records under their skin.  But recently the firm has caved in to pressure to include tracking devices.

But some may see tracker chips as a positive development. After 11 September, many western governments have become paranoid about security and want to keep a closer eye on citizens with schemes such as national ID cards.  “You can’t get a better ID card than one you can put under your skin,” points out Mr Pearson. The technology necessary to locate a person geographically is not particularly sophisticated. It has been around for years in the chips that are implanted beneath the skin of pets.

Crackdown on dangerous dogs to make microchips compulsory for all

“Under the scheme a microchip the size of a grain of rice is injected under the skin of the dog between its shoulder blades. The chip contains a unique code number, the dog’s name, age, breed and health as well as the owner’s name, address and phone number. When the chip is “read” by a handheld scanner the code number is revealed and the details can be checked on a national database.

ID Card for Workers at Center of Immigration Plan

“Under the potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an ID card with embedded information, such as fingerprints, to tie the card to the worker.”

N. H. Reps Approve ‘Tracking Device’ Bill

“The bill in question is an amendment to the state’s Consumer Protection Act (RSA 358-A). If passed, it would require that all consumer goods or identification documents (such as driver’s licenses, credit cards or library cards) with an embedded “tracking device” to be labeled with a “universally accepted symbol” to denote the inclusion of the device.”

Tracking Prisoners in Jail With Biometrics: An Experiment in a Navy Brig

“Biometrics has been used previously to track the movement of staff, visitors, and prisoners in and out of correctional facilities. It has also been used to account for staff members in the event of a riot or other prison disturbance. This project represents the first use of biometrics to track prisoner movements within a prison or jail. It was designed to employ computer-based methods of tracking inmates to improve the efficiency of corrections specialists[1] and brig officials and to demonstrate how advanced technology can make corrections facilities safer.”

VeriChip Sells First Baby Protection System, in Talks with Military

“The company announced Aug. 24 that it has made the first sale of its infant protection, wander prevention and staff duress system to the Brampton Civic Hospital in Brampton, Ontario. Separately, the company confirmed a day earlier that it is in talks with the military to test its implantable chips in two branches of the military.

But VeriChip also has a separate patient identification system, VeriMed, which is used beneath the skin. Once the chip is implanted in the fatty part of a persons arm (or in the hand(!!!), as chip volunteers have done), it displays a 16-digit identifier when tapped by an RFID reader. The number accesses health information in a database that requires a username and password for admittance.”

RFID Chip Implants Planned for Alzheimer’s Patients

“Alzheimer’s Community Care Facility, in West Palm Beach Florida, intends to begin implanting radio frequency identification chips, RFID, in Alzheimer patients, despite the outcry of violation of privacy.

She believes the RFID chip, manufactured by VeriChip Corp, provides a valuable service that allows medical facilities to quickly and easily access medical information the patient often is not able to provide on their own.”

RFID Chip in Humans

“Every RFID tag is given an unique number, similar to an user identification number.”

Chip implant gets cash under your skin

Applied Digital Solutions of Palm Beach, Fla., is hoping that Americans can be persuaded to implant RFID chips under their skin to identify themselves when going to a cash machine or in place of using a credit card.

RFID tags are miniscule microchips, which some manufacturers have managed to shrink to half the size of a grain of sand. They listen for a radio query and respond by transmitting a unique ID code, typically a 64-bit identifier yielding about 18 thousand trillion possible values.

Barcelona clubbers get chipped

BBC Science producer Simon Morton goes clubbing in Barcelona with a microchip implanted in his arm to pay for drinks.

Implanting microchips that emit a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) into animals has been common practice in many countries around the world, with some looking to make it a legal requirement for domestic pet owners.

China First With Citizen RFID Implants

A press release issued by the Chinese government today announced the countrywide implementation of a new high-tech tracking initiative designed to “increase security and prosperity for all citizens of the People’s Republic of China.”

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There seems to be a definite trend towards giving every person a unique, digital identifier.  Now, what happens if you have to have a certain, SPECIFIC identifier to use ANY services or facilities?  What if you have to agree to have an RFID with someone elses ID, say perhaps, one that associates you with a certain charismatic leader?  Not so easy to discount now, is it?