About ME

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Mansfield, Texas, United States
Mr. E is a Christian, Husband, Father of 2, former Army Officer and Texas Rangers Baseball fan.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Graven Images or Symbols of Faith?

Yesterday at work, we were saying good-bye to a student in our program who was moving to another state. During our conversations with her, the topic of idol worship came up. This student was a former Catholic and she was commenting on a cross necklace that another person was wearing. The student put forth the opinion that wearing the cross necklace was a form of idol worship. She said that the Catholics worship the statues and images of Mary (earthly mother of Jesus), the Apostles and their own saints, rather than worship God directly. She felt that wearing a cross necklace was similar in that people who wear the cross are putting their faith in the image of the cross, rather than Jesus himself. Interesting argument! She said that God himself commanded us in the Ten Commandments that we should make and worship no graven images of other gods and worship Him alone. She felt the image of the cross was an image that Christians were worshiping.

A colleague of mine, who was a Christian told the student that the cross was just a symbol of faith rather than an image that she worshipped. She said the cross necklace reminded her of who was she was serving, Jesus. She said she did not pray to the necklace or worship the cross itself, it was just a reminder of her faith. She went on to say that the statues and images used in the Catholic Churches would be OK, as long as the members of the Church did not worship the statues. As long as the images are reminders of who they serve, which should be God or Jesus.

My opinions, were kept silent (a miracle itself), until now. Here are my thoughts: 1) God did give the commands stated by the student, "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. you shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God." (Exodus 20:3-4) 2) The image of the cross necklace is not a idol, or at least it's not supposed to be. The cross is a symbol of Christians representing the life sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for the forgiveness of all sinners. It is a reminder of the promise of eternal life we shall one day have. I guess if Christians use the cross in a way that makes it more than what it is, then it could be considered an idol of sorts. For example: Using a cross or cross symbol to scare away vampires or evil spirits. The cross itself has no holy power over evil, it was the person on the cross, Jesus, whom "God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name." (Philippians 2:3) The cross cannot save us from our sins, only Jesus can. 3) I don't think Catholics intentionally worship the images of saints or the Apostles. I do think they misdirect their prayers through the saints, or special priests, bishops, or others. Christians are told to pray to God through His Son Jesus, with a Holy Spirit who intercedes for us. I do believe Catholics do worship Mary (the mother of Jesus), even though the Bible never tells us to directly do so. If in fact Catholics are praying to these images or in the name of these images, then they are in fact engaging in a form of worship to them. This would not be in keeping with the first two commandments of the Ten Commandments. Jesus very clearly said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

We cannot get to God through the Pope, Mary, the Apostles, the saints, a good preacher, your "inner light", good works or deeds, or any other false prophet such as Mohammad, Buddha, or Joseph Smith. Only the Bible, the Word of God, can give us true guidance to God; not the Kabbalah, the Qu'ran (Koran), The Vedas, The Book of Mormon, Naturalism or the Four Noble Truths. There is only ONE true God...to believe in anything or anyone else is wrong. This is absolute and cannot be changed. See my earlier blog By Who's Authority?.

My response to the student would have been have follows, "If you feel that wearing the cross is in violation of the 10 Commandments, then by all means do not wear a cross, for this hinders your personal worship of God. But do not condemn those who wear the cross as a reminder of Him who died upon that cross. I do not believe they are worshipping the cross, just looking at it as a reminder of whom they serve."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Oliver

Let me introduce you to Oliver. Oliver is the nickname I have given to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD manifest itself in many ways. Some people with severe forms of the disorder would remind you of Monk, which is one my favorite TV shows. Others compulsively wash their hands, check locked doors, turn on and off lights or count things over and over again. Lucky for me my OCD is not quite so bad; but Oliver does interfere with my life in negative ways.

Oliver is responsible for my creating lists. I make lists of almost everything. When I get nervous or bored, I make a list of the Presidents or the States. I make to-d0 lists of chores for me, or what I think the family needs to do. I have a list of my 100 favorite movies and my 25 dumbest movies. Now, these list by themselves are not so bad, but every time I watch a movie or think of something I have to do, I must list it. I must write it down or I verbally "list" on my wife, what I need to do. She hates that. I constantly "list" on my kids about what to do next or I repeat my schedule to them 5-6 times daily. When we go on trips, I must follow the directions exactly or follow the schedule as close as possible. This is just part of Oliver's obsessive behavior.

Oliver's compulsiveness shows when I see a commercial for a show I want to watch. I must schedule the show on our DVR, "RIGHT NOW!" I can't wait. I have to do it now. If I find something in a store I want to buy, I want to buy it "RIGHT NOW!" If I don't buy it, Oliver will obsess about it, for me, reminding me, I have to buy it. If I see a cup or a plate left out from a meal or a box of cookies sitting on a side table, I can not rest until I put them away. I used to pay bills, the day they arrived in the mail. I could not wait until pay day, they had to be paid NOW! Thank God, I don't do that anymore. If I think of something I want to write on this blog, I want to do it as quickly as possible. Everything has to be right NOW!

Although not life threatening, Oliver does cause problems. I am irritable easily as I battle him for control of my life and my family. I have trouble staying focused and I tend to take out my anger at Oliver on my family and friends. Not Good!

I am very glad to be in battle with Oliver. I am attempting to limit his control over my life. I am working a Twelve Step program, similar to what Addicts work to stop drug or alcohol abuse. So far I have seen improvement, but Oliver is still there. For those who have their own "Oliver", there is hope for you. Maybe one day I can stop Oliver once and for all, but for now, it's MY God verses Oliver, and we know who is going to win!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

By Who's Authority?

Last night I watched a great movie called Time Changer. It was about a Bible professor from the 1890's who was about to publish a thesis on how to preach morals and ethics to the world, but without using the name of Jesus, or God, to give authority to them. He contended that many people of the world may be "put off" from accepting the Gospel because they hear the name of Jesus. They may have had a "bad experience" with a church or a not-so-moral Christian, that by hearing the name of Jesus may be offensive to them and thus automatically close their ears to hearing the truth about morality and ethics. Lucky for this professor, he had a colleague who disagreed with him.

The colleague contended, that without the divine authority of Jesus, who is God, teaching morals and ethics becomes relative to the individual, rather than the absolute Truth that it is. Without the authority of Jesus to answer the question of, "Who says it's wrong to do _____________?", the answer will become, "I say it's wrong." If I say something is wrong, then another person can say, "Well I don't think it is." Then who is correct in their beliefs? The colleague stated that Christians must be able to say, "________________ is wrong, because God/Jesus says it is wrong in His Word, the Bible."

This issue of acknowledging the authority of Jesus, is also addressed in a book called Right From Wrong, by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler. In this book McDowell and Hostetler contend that the present generation of teenagers (and adults), "has lost its belief in objective right and wrong. To them, the truth is a matter of taste; morality of individual preference." Without the authority of Jesus to teach right from wrong, then Christian families loose the ability to pass on moral absolutes and core values to our children.

In his book A Man After God's Own Heart, Jim George presents a list of Ten Commandments for Child raising. The first two are: "Teach them, using God's Word and Tell them what's right and wrong." In order to teach them what is right from wrong, we must first teach them the absolute authority of the Word of God. Then we will be able to answer the question of, "Why is this wrong?", with the absolute truth of, "Because God says it is!" And if God says its wrong then that is good enough!

At the end of the movie, the professor changed his original premise of presenting morals to the world. He realized that without Jesus and His absolute truth, then morality is relevant and the authority of Jesus is put into question. Just what Satan has always wanted.