Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Boys and Girls Club

Last Saturday, our 20-Somethings Sunday School class spent the day at the Boys and Girls Club downtown Newport News. This is primarily an African-American community, and last Saturday, the Boys and Girls Club was having their family Christmas party. So, we went to help serve food, tear down, and meet some people. We went in Jesus' name, and we were well received.

Before everything started, James taught a bunch of kids the "uh-UH!" game. I'm not even going to try to explain this game over a blog, but this game is a great party game/youth group game. It involves grunting, pointing, intimidation, cadence, attention, and coordination. You pretty much have to check your pride at the door if you are going to play.

Before the meal was served, the director, Mr. Johnson, gave a short introduction, during which he asserted that this was a Christmas Party (and not merely a holiday party). He said that if anyone had a problem with him calling it a Christmas Party, then he could take their ticket (and so then they couldn't eat). No one had any problem with it. Then he introduced our group, and James talked briefly about who we are and why we were there. James came right out and said that we were there because we care and because we believe in Jesus Christ. He got a big applause for this. Then James prayed in Jesus' name to bless the food.

I'm pretty bad at guessing crowds, but there were probably over 200 people there that we served. We met this one guy, Corey, who is in his 20's. He is from Hampton and he earned a full scholarship at Columbia University. He has graduated, and now he is back in the area and trying to help kids find their way. I don't know if he is a Christian, but it was great to meet him. I got to talk with him a little bit, and let him know that our group prays every Saturday. He and James talked more. This is just the beginning. We will be doing more at the Boys and Girls Club. Those kids were hungry for love; we've got love to give.

12 Comments:

Blogger Lindsey said...

It was certainly awesome wasn't it. All of it: the stretching of yourself and going beyond just what you're used to, the meeting new people, the blessings we recieved and the fun. I was watching the O'Reilly factor last night and I saw that in Texas right now, the public school systems in one town are having winter parties. This is normal these days except this town's school board have gone a bit farther. They stated that no parents who were volunteering could bring any decorations that were red or green because those were "Christmas Colors". O'Reilly sadly said "What has America become have we become completely void of any morality whatsoever"?

It is a sad state that we are in. And prayer is so necessary.

9:49 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

It is total fascism that Plano texas would completely ban the colors red and green. It also completely false.

http://mediamatters.org/items/200512130006
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Meanwhile, every dollar in every cash register in Plano still has "In God We Trust" printed on it.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I think Christians need to separate themselves from society, in order to reform and then to engage society. Like a tactical retreat.

Many so-called "Christians" do not even lament the war on Christiatity that the ACLU, the majority of the Supreme Court, and all the other secularists are waging. In fact, many don't even recognize it.

Then there are those who recognize it and shake their heads and think, "That's too bad" before proceeding on with their own lives.

I think we should consider what Nehemiah might do. Recognize the problem. Then lament, fast, and pray. Then, engage.

I feel like part of my life calling is to help wake people up.

Some of the ideas that make up America are Biblical ideas. Mostly, the ideas that make up America are "Enlightenment" (or I would say Endarkenment) ideas.

We need to quit fighting for the secular ideas of the Enlightenment and start contending for the ideas of the Bible.

Sadly, most Christians lack the intellectual firepower and the courage to do this. That is why we need to get wisdom and courage.

We shall continue going to the Boys and Girls Club in Jesus' Name to accomplish Jesus' purposes. In Jesus' name, we will form relationships. If the United Way or whoever else decides that what we are doing is not consistent with their objectives, it will be too late. For we will have formed relationships, and those relationships will not be broken by the statements and actions of the secularists.

Praise be to God. He is good. His love endures forever.

It is all about God. The I AM has commissioned us. He is with us. We will overcome and be victorious. Many will come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and be set free. Freed people will then proceed to free people.

Only, let us not ever use secular arguments to reject secular arguments. We must get and stay sharp. We have to engage with the world on God's authority - in humility, love, and truth. We'll use logic to expose the false presuppositions of our opponents, but we don't exalt reason over God. Reason has nothing to say about presuppositions.

Praise be to God.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

Marc,
I went to the site. When I watched the factor the other night, O'Reilly actually did clear up the issue on clothing. I hadn't seen the show where he made the originial statement (which I am assuming was on the 9th) but the show I did watch, clearly said taht there was a miscommunication and that children could wear whatever color of clothing they chose too. What O'Reilly was saying, is that parents were told not to bring red and green plates and napkins to the class "Winter Parties". I wasn't addressing the clothing. Have you found the colored decorations to be false also?
The local paper hear addressed this issue this week as well. After reading a number of interviews done with the townspeople of Plano I realize, as I believe you might have been stating, that they are not all Atheist, Anti-Christmas, God haters. Many are Christians, many disagree with the school board. As in most cases, the minority has a stronger voice than the majority and unfortunately, as Dan was saying, the Majority simply steps aside and allows the minority to "rule". Why can't Christians separate themselves and stand up for what they claim they believe in? Pride? Selfishness? Fear? All of the above?

2:31 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:26 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Linds,

Yeah-- I somehow or another found out about the retraction and the winter party allegations.

I can get just a slight slight slight taste of what the "war on christmas" must feel like, because I've known people who feel halloween is an inappropriate holiday, and even though a majority agrees thinks it's harmless fun, the minority ends up ruining the fun for everyone.

I have no doubt the same thing happens a thousand times worse when it comes to christmas.
---

But, here's one happy thing behind all this. I feel like the the reason behind the "War on Christmas" is not so much anti-christian hatred as much as it is overzealous compassion.

People don't want to hurt nonchristians feelings, so they ban christmas celebrations in favor of "winter" celebrations. But it's a way of saying "come, agnostics, atheists, nonchristians, jews, muslims, hindus, buddhists, pagans, and zoroastrians-- we love you too. Come celebrate Christmas with us, despite our differences".

I think the "Holiday Tree" stuff is overzealous and unnecessary, and I tell everyone I meet at stores "Merry Christmas" with pride, eschewing the PC "Happy Holidays". But-- there's tons of love and compassion on all sides of the issue. Bill wants to protect the christians who he sees as being oppressed. Others want to protect other minorities that they see as being oppressed. Regardless of who's right, I like to think Jesus would approve of all the love and compassion going into the subject, as we each try to look out for the "least of these our brethren".

4:05 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

On Halloween....

Marco, I would submit to you that there is good reason why many Christians "ruin the fun" of Halloween.

As for myself, this year, I gave out candy to trick or treaters, but the only "decoration" that I had was a sign that said, "Romans 5:8 - But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Yeah... I only had one trick-or-treater.

The truth is that Halloween is steeped in all kinds of paganism and occultism in its roots. So, at very best, there is no reason to celebrate Halloween night. At worst, masquerading as witches, goblins, and other "dark" and "evil" characters could be a very bad thing.

We are, by God's design, imitators. And we are meant to imitate God (See Ephesians 5:1). We tend to become like those whom we imitate. That is why, "He who walks with the wise grow wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

In the OT, there were very defined reasons for all the holidays (holy days). We celebrate what we value. If Halloween is "innocent fun." Well, then people are celebrating chaos and randomness. I would say that chaos is the antithesis of order. God is a God of order, and He desires that we order our lives according to His word. When we do so, we experience freedom, joy, love, and all kinds of blessings. But when we mix in with the ways of the world, there are consequences.

Now, some Christians take this to the extreme and are against all acting altogether. And I am not certain that these Christians are not acting wisely for doing so. But, the big point is the heart. I don't see any redeeming values about Halloween. There is just no reason to celebrate it. What is the attraction?

Why not celebrate the Jewish Holidays? God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt with miracles, signs, and wonders! The Passover is a great thing to celebrate. But it is even a greater thing for us Christians to celebrate, because just as the angel of the Lord passed over all the homes that had the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorway, so God will pass over all those who know Jesus when he pours out his wrath, because Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slain for our sins.

Incidentally, there are many Christians who do not celebrate Christmas and Easter - for some very good reasons. I do celebrate these holidays, but I have respect for those who do not, but choose instead to focus on celebrating the Jewish holidays (which are so rich with meaning).

9:10 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

On Halloween--

But don't you see-- Christian minorities who oppose halloween are doing the exact same thing as secular minorities that oppose christmas. Some christians feel halloween is 'dark-sided' and a bad thing. Some seculars feel that pressuring everyone to celebrate christmas is oppressive and wrong.

Your argument always essentially comes back to-- "There are differences between Christians and Nonchristians-- and the christians are right, because Christ is real". But logically, the two arguments are perfectly symmetrical. Almost everyone believes their worldview is right. The trick is to rise above "I'm right and you're wrong" and find a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint.

This is why "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". How would you feel if you were in a muslim or hindu nation, and everyone judge you and make your views 'illegal' or frowned up. How would you feel if you went christmas caroling, and someone had a sign up with a quote from the satanic bible, or from the Koran?
--

As a born again pagan, I would love to celebrate some of the jewish holidays. There's a new trend called 'faux mitzvash' where non-jewish familys hold bar mitzvahs for their children-- just because they find the tradition has value, even if it is not their own.

This is why globalism is such a groovy thing.


Marco

8:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

The symmetry of the arguments imply that non-Christians are perfectly capable of constructing valid arguments. That is, there are non-Christians who are good at deductive reasoning.

But it matters not, because deductive reasoning has nothing to say about presuppositions. I can presuppose that all men are women and that Jack is a man. Logically, it follows deductively that Jack is also a woman. This is a valid argument. But the major premise was false, so the conclusion may turn out to be false. (It is possible to have a valid argument in which the major premise is false, but the conclusion is true).

Essentially, what I am saying is that there is a big difference between truth and validity. Much time and effort is spent in logical debate to expose the presuppositions and invalid forms of argument that people use in debate. But when all the ducks are in a row, logically, that's when the debate really begins.

So, I say, "Worship God for He alone is worthy of your worship and devotion." And I construct all kinds of valid arguments with the presupposition that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative word of God as given in the original autographs, and is useful for all matters of life, faith, doctrine, reproof, and admonition.

Someone else can say that Satan alone is worthy of worship and devotion, and he could back it up with all kinds of satanic writings. His arguments could be perfectly valid and logical. However, his presuppositions are false. Satan is not worthy of worship. Satan is the enemy and should be opposed and resisted.

Many people think, "You must give everyone their 'fair' say." Christians should be able to express themselves, but Satanists should also be allowed to express their Satanism. But this presupposes that a moral duty exists that says that Satanists should be allowed to express themselves. But morality is based on God and His word. Those who worship Satan need to repent.

But, people are committed to evil. So, they play this game and say that Christians can express themselves, and others can express themselves, but when it comes to the public sphere, we should be "neutral." But neutrality does not exist (nor is it desirable). God has demanded that He be worshipped, and so has Satan. God is Jealous. He does not think that a hodge podge of beliefs and philosophies is "groovy." He is an angry, jealous God. He has commanded total devotion and will settle for nothing less.

You say, "The trick is to rise above 'I'm right and you're wrong' and find a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint."

Firstly, if the "I'm right and you're wrong" is coming from an attitude of prideful arrogance, then it is wrong to have that attitude and their is a Christian duty to repent.

Also, I do not have that attitude. When I express, "My viewpoint is right, and all who contradict the Bible are wrong," I'm not being prideful. I am saying it for your benefit and everyone else's benefit. Confidence and faith does not equal prideful arrogance.

Also, even if people were being arrogant in asserting that they are the ones who are right, it is interesting to note that you think a higher duty exists for all people to "rise above" prideful arrogance. What if my worldview exalts prideful arrogance? By suggesting that I need to rise above it, you are not finding "a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint." For you are neglecting the opinions of those who think that prideful arrogance is a good thing.

As you should! Prideful arrogance is evil, and should be confronted and exposed for what it is. Logically, then, we should not consider any notion that says that prideful arrogance is a good thing.

In a world so full of evil and depravity, the idea that globalism is a "groovy" concept is really messed up. However, I also predict that globalism will happen, in spite of my protests and resistance. Prophecy says that the whole world will come into submission under the anti-Christ - all but the faithful that is. There will be a one world government, and that government will persecute Christians. Check out the books of Daniel and Revelation.

The only globalism I would support would be globalism under the banner of Christ. That is, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." God desires His people to be united in His Spirit and in His love. But unity against God would be horrible.

See my comments about the tower of Babel. The people were united against God seeking to make a name for themselves. Unity under Christ is wonderful. But, we must not compromise our faith, for the sake of unity. That would be apostasy.

The apostate church is very active and powerful. I predict that they will grow in their influence and power. Furthermore, more and more people will be in agreement with the apostate church.

Now is the time to find Jesus. The heat is being turned up. God will punish all godlessness and faithlessness.

But for those who are faithful, God will richly bless. There will be trials that we go through. But God will give us more grace to handle those trials.

May God reveal Himself to you powerfully. I pray God's blessing upon you and your family. But, know this: You must be born again.

2:49 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

Well.. I should say a couple things. One, I wasn't at all trying to say you have prideful arrogance-- you just believe you are totally and completely right. That's not a bad thing-- maybe you are.

When I say "the trick is to rise above 'I'm right and you're wrong' and find a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint." , I should stress that trick is the operative word-- I think i'm a little better at your average fella.
--

2-- I think there is much wisdom and honesty in admitting that both secular and christian logic is equally valid, and that they differ only in the axioms they assume to be true. Part and parcel of axioms are that they are assumed to be true, not proven.

I have no trouble whatsoever with people simply saying that God's existence can't be proven, can't be demonstrated, can't be obviously shown, but instead relies on something beyond mere reason. But in saying that, you must have sympathy for the rest of the world who "doesn't get it", and not merely chalk it up to evilness or laziness on our part. The fact of the matter is, whatever or ifever god is or isn not, it isn't obvious-- it's hidden and mysterious. If it were obvious, the whole world should be christian, because there are so many buddhists and hindus and jews and muslims and pagans who are genuinely and sincerely seeking God, but seem to be having trouble finding him. In other words, I can't accept that being a christian is somehow morally superior to being a nonchristian, any more than having good eyesight makes someone morally superior to someone who has bad eyesight.

--

Why is it so important to "rise above 'I'm right and you're wrong' and find a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint"? Because one of MY axioms is that I could be wrong. This is the one subset of postmodernism that I love so much-- a constant paranoia that you might be the wrong one.

You suggested earlier that I have faith only in myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I know is that I don't know nuthin. Well, I exaggerate: I do think I've picked up a few useful tidbits of wisdom along the way, but i could be wrong.

But let me ask you-- don't you have unshakeable faith in your ability to select the right axioms. You truly believe you are right and anyone who disagrees with your deeply held beliefs must therefore be wrong.

Now-- maybe this system seems to work fine when debating with nonchristians. But how do you resolve the many many debates within the christian community. Surely you don't just assume that you and you alone know the truth and the only truth-- surely you can see the wisdom in 'striving for a way of running things that admits the validity of everyone's viewpoints'. The alternative is the papacy-- to pick one individual and decide to take his views as an axiom.

But if disagreements about subtle points of christianity are legitimate, why stop there? why not admit potentially all points of view are acceptable.

10:05 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

Well.. I should say a couple things. One, I wasn't at all trying to say you have prideful arrogance-- you just believe you are totally and completely right. That's not a bad thing-- maybe you are.

When I say "the trick is to rise above 'I'm right and you're wrong' and find a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint." , I should stress that trick is the operative word-- I think i'm a little better at your average fella.
--

2-- I think there is much wisdom and honesty in admitting that both secular and christian logic is equally valid, and that they differ only in the axioms they assume to be true. Part and parcel of axioms are that they are assumed to be true, not proven.

I have no trouble whatsoever with people simply saying that God's existence can't be proven, can't be demonstrated, can't be obviously shown, but instead relies on something beyond mere reason. But in saying that, you must have sympathy for the rest of the world who "doesn't get it", and not merely chalk it up to evilness or laziness on our part. The fact of the matter is, whatever or ifever god is or isn not, it isn't obvious-- it's hidden and mysterious. If it were obvious, the whole world should be christian, because there are so many buddhists and hindus and jews and muslims and pagans who are genuinely and sincerely seeking God, but seem to be having trouble finding him. In other words, I can't accept that being a christian is somehow morally superior to being a nonchristian, any more than having good eyesight makes someone morally superior to someone who has bad eyesight.

--

Why is it so important to "rise above 'I'm right and you're wrong' and find a way of running the world that embraces everyone's viewpoint"? Because one of MY axioms is that I could be wrong. This is the one subset of postmodernism that I love so much-- a constant paranoia that you might be the wrong one.

You suggested earlier that I have faith only in myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I know is that I don't know nuthin. Well, I exaggerate: I do think I've picked up a few useful tidbits of wisdom along the way, but i could be wrong.

But let me ask you-- don't you have unshakeable faith in your ability to select the right axioms. You truly believe you are right and anyone who disagrees with your deeply held beliefs must therefore be wrong.

Now-- maybe this system seems to work fine when debating with nonchristians. But how do you resolve the many many debates within the christian community. Surely you don't just assume that you and you alone know the truth and the only truth-- surely you can see the wisdom in 'striving for a way of running things that admits the validity of everyone's viewpoints'. The alternative is the papacy-- to pick one individual and decide to take his views as an axiom.

But if disagreements about subtle points of christianity are legitimate, why stop there? why not admit potentially all points of view are acceptable.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

You argument is very logical.

I do have compassion and sympathy for those who don't believe as well as those in the "valley of decision." I spent five years in that valley myself.

God is hidden from people. But He does reveal himself to those who seek Him by faith. Also, in His grace, He is found by those who don't seek Him! (That one is a doosey. It boggles my mind and causes me to praise Him all the more).

I don't see myself as morally superior to non-Christians. On the contrary, I am a wretched sinner, but grace has been given to me, and I have received it. I am a beggar, but I found bread. This is why I evangelize. Jesus is the bread of life.

I have no faith in myself. Well, actually, I do, but that is because I am a sinner, constantly giving my life to God, and constantly taking it back from God. I entrust myself to God, but that faith itself is a gift of God, so I can't boast in anything, but the Lord.

I know that left to myself, I will screw up my life and probably hurt other people along the way. So, I put my trust in God who is perfect and holy and wise. I am utterly dependent on Him.

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

See, the LORD is my shepherd. I am like a sheep. You know what is interesting about sheep? They are dumb animals. Left to themselves (so have I heard), if they eat all the grass in a field, they won't go find other grass. They'll just stay there and starve, unless a shepherd takes care of them or unless they happen to wander to another field where there is grass. Also, they have been known to wander right off of cliffs. Sheep wander and get lost very easily. And the Bible compares us to sheep. We need a shepherd to take care of us. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

It is like this. In order to get to know someone, you are entirely dependent on that person to open up to you and to talk to you. If you see someone in a room, you can discern empirically that he is there. You can find out certain facts about him. But you can't know him unless he speaks to you or somehow communicates to you. You are utterly dependent on him talking to you in order to know him.

Same thing with God. You might be able to discern from the abundance of evidence that He exists. But you can't know Him unless He reveals himself to you. But when He does, then you know not to trust in yourself, but to trust in Him.

Hebrews 6:13-20 - When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchangeable nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Therefore, my advice to you is this: First, pray. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. But be ready, because when He does, He floods into your life and He takes over. He starts "overturning tables" in your heart (as Christ did physically in the temple). Secondly, read the Scriptures. As you do this, if you seek the Lord with all your heart, you will find Him. His Spirit will testify to your spirit, and you will know the "hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

As for dealing with the disagreements amongst Christians, I am entirely dependent on God to lead my through that as well. Sometimes, the disagreements are minor and are not worth dividing over. Other times, the disagreements are major. Regardless, I need God to lead me through all of it.

8:22 AM  

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