Monthly Archives: July 2008

Obama’s private prayer leaked to the press.

Prayer is a rather private thing… there are of course times of public prayer, other times you pray along with some friends and share some of your deepest thoughts and struggles in your prayer. In our church we have a prayer room, people come and go, some decide to get together to pray for some minutes, sometimes for hours with their friends.  There are times that I hear when someone cries out to the Lord as they seek Him and share private burdens… at those times, I determine to not want to hear and remove myself and others from the closeness of the prayer room to secure the privacy of those praying (some pray really too loud! – you can hardly escape hearing them:).

Anyway, prayer from the heart can be sensitive and we need to respect the sancitity of prayer… Obama during his visit in Israel and Jerusalem prayed at the prayer wall, and like so  many others left his prayers written on a small piece of paper in a crevice between the giant white stones, hewn over 2,000 years ago. Usually those prayers (over one million per year) are collected twice a year and burried at the Mount of Olives. This time an Orthodox Jewish student had other thoughts as he kept watch where Obama had left his prayer note. Right after Obama’s departure, he took the note and went to the Maariv newspaper who publised the note fully.

What he prayed? No use hiding it from you since half of the population of the world can find it on the Net… Obama wrote… The prayer sounds a little like Salomon’s prayer… I hope Obama will receive the same blessing as he!

That’s it for now folks… and remember be wise in what to pray and where to pray those prayers!

God bless you,

John

Cut and paste theology – nothing new under the sun!

Many may find the approach of the post-modern, post-Christian person living in 2008 which practices a smorgasbord (pick and choose favorite dishes) in regards to theology difficult to understand. But the truth is (there we have that word again J)… there is nothing new under the sun!

Tomas Jefferson, one of the presidents of the United States compiled his own “wee little book” of 46 pages where he compiled the four Gospels into one text. He literally cut out verses and teachings that liked and placed them all in his book, it was “like finding diamonds in a dunghill” he said.

He literally sifted the Scriptures leaving out every miracle, every inconsistency (in his mind) and of course finishing off with Jesus’ burial rather than the resurrection.

“There is nothing new under the sun”; I have said this now a couple of times. In our world in 2008 we have many people, churches and denominations who sift out the parts of the Bible which are either politically incorrect, sensitive or just too tough to follow.

My stand? Bring it on…, all of it! I struggle with the Word of God, I have parts I strongly dislike, there are verses and stories that cut down to my bones and hurt my inner being, but… as I dare to embrace it, as I dare to face it. It gives me life in spite of the fact that I have to admit that something within me had to die first.

I guess that is what life with God is al about?!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Wiretapping of Christian leader top of the iceberg? FRA opens floodgates…

As I boarded the X2000 train from Stokholm to Gothenburg yesterday morning I decided to gather some information to write my perspective on the FRA LAW (is the common name for anti-terrorist legislative package in Sweden warrantless wiretapping law, check the back ground here). I was not able to finish my viewpoint and concerns about it because of time pressure. As I this afternoon finally had time to be on line again I found to both my joy and surprise that my good friend Stefan Swärd had written an article about the Swedish government’s initiative to tap the phones of one of Sweden’s far most Christian leaders Ulf Ekman. This was wiretapping was going on in a time when Livets Ord (The Word of Life Church) was having much missionary work in the former Soviet Union. It was only recently that this severe violation had come to the surface since it was disclosed through the exposure of secret stamped documents.

Stefan who also happens to be the chairman of the board of our denomination (www.efk.se) demands from FRA’s director Ingvar Åkesson answers to the following questions:

1. Why was secret wiretapping exercised in the case of Ekman? Which public authority ordered it?

2. Are there more examples of Christian or other religious leaders who secretly have been wiretapped? (Without having been suspected of having committed crimes or for security reasons). If so, why were they wiretapped, and who gave the orders to do so?

3. As we now through the FRA LAW expand our praxis of the law by not only considering “external military threats” but even “external threats” – how does the reigning government secure that wiretapping, and thus abusing the integrity of religious leaders will not be done, not now, nor in the future?

Personally I am not surprised that Ulf Ekman was under scrutiny, my subjective convictions are that other potential threatening people were scrutinized too. With potential threat I do not necessarily mean people who have the plan to commit crimes or who are a threat for our nation’s or people’s security.

In our quiet and almost peaceful, tolerant nation there are many slumbering volcanoes hidden under the surface waiting to erupt. When one does not fit the mould one can be considered a threat to the Status Quo or our so carefully well-planned, well kept balance and perspective on our reality. (Whether our perspective on this reality is false or true doesn’t matter –don’t rock the boat!)

With that in mind I foresee a multiplication of potential “external threats” (see question three), and I am also convinced that religious and especially Christian leaders will be considered to belong to those. Why? Because they follow another King. The kingdom that they belong to is not of this world and thus their allegiances are not foremost here in the kingdom of Sweden.

Late history in Sweden shows that Christians are harder to deal with that other “religious” people, that’s why there is less tolerance for them. (It is rather significant that in a so-called Christian nation where we preach tolerance we are able to show tolerance to almost all religions and peoples except Christians…)

To be honest, I don’t care too much about it on a personal level since I remember a man with a cross who wasn’t the favorite in His time either… But politically and publically I want to raise my voice about this matter since it reeks injustice and shows intolerance. I will keep you posted on more of my perspectives on FRA!

That’s the Way I see it and I am open to be wrong!

John

Is Olle Carlsson a real reformer?

In the article “Reformator retar – och ratas?” in Brännpunkt of SVD today, members and politically chosen representatives of the left fraction within the leadership of Katarina Church (Swedish Church) in Stockholm are questioning the fact that the Ole was not endorsed to become the vicar of the church. ”Was the reformer (Olle) teased and rejected was their question?”

The authors tell us in the article that Olle Carlsson had become one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the Swedish Church (former State Church), his ministry, according to them, reached thousands of people in the city and beyond. His message touched modern people and him life experience made him trustworthy. They continue to say that one has to judge leadership by considering results and in regard to this Allahelgona church had few contestants. Over and over again the authors use the words revival, renewal and reformation to describe the so called spiritual phenomenon which is going on in Allahelgonakyrkan through the ministry of Olle.

My question is: Is Olle Carlsson a real reformer? Well, the answer has everything to do with the way you describe the term reformation. Did Olle use unusual ways, methods and messages to get his viewpoints across? Certainly! In many ways he was so much different from the more liturgical and traditional approaches in the Swedish Church. His ability to see people as individuals and their needs is a refreshing approach in a rather stale form of Christianity that we exercise in Sweden. His ability to identify with people’s hurts, hardships and brokenness brought a mind-blowing dimension to the life of church goers. He was a man who dared to break out of the box.

BUT…Is he a reformer in the Biblical sense? That’s the question!

When we go back into the history of the church and the Reformation (I use this because the authors use the concept as a building stone), we find that real Reformation in our history had to do with strong fundamental Biblical issues calling people back to God and the authority of His Word.

The four questions or doctrines addressed were: How is a person saved? Where does religious authority lie? What is the church? And what is the essence of Christian living?

In answering these questions, Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox established what would be known as the “Five Solas” of the Reformation (sola being the Latin word for “alone”). These five points of doctrine were at the heart of the Protestant Reformation.

1. “Sola Scriptura,” or Scripture Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that the Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice. Scripture and Scripture alone is the standard by which all teachings and doctrines of the church must be measured. As Martin Luther so movingly stated when asked to renounce his teachings, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason -….- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

2. “Sola Gratia,” Salvation by Grace Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that salvation is by God’s grace alone and that we are rescued from His wrath by His grace alone. God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary, but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. This grace is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

3. “Sola Fide,” Salvation by Faith Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. It is by faith in Christ that His righteousness is given to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.

4. “Solus Christus,” In Christ Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that salvation is found in Christ alone and that His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to God the Father. The gospel has not been preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared, and if faith in Christ and His work is not solicited.

5. “Soli Deo Gloria”, For the Glory of God Alone: This affirms the Biblical doctrine that salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone. It affirms that as Christians we must glorify Him always, and must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God, and for His glory alone.

These five important and fundamental doctrines were the reason for the Protestant Reformation. They were a call back to the heart of Christianity, Christ, His work, death on the cross and resurrection, and also a revival to the authority of the Word of God.

Is Olle Carlsson a reformer in the Biblical sense? I do not believe so. I believe that the call for repentance, the call to Biblical Christianity and followership of Christ is not heard, nor taught under his ministry. The sheer presence of crowds is no confirmation of God’s presence. It might be the opposite at times. If we bring and preach what people want to hear we become crowd pleasers and politically correct but spiritually oh, so wrong. The message of the Cross, the need for repentance is not a message the Modern Swede wants to hear and seems to be old fashioned, reeking fundamentalism. However, the call from Jesus to follow Him must imply or willingness “to leave”, leave our past, leave our ways, leave our comfort or whatever needs to be left behind to be able to follow Him.

My prayer and hope is that a real reformation would hit the Swedish Church and our other churches as well… In many ways, much of Protestant Christianity needs to be challenged to return to these fundamental doctrines of faith, only then there will be a new hope for our nation!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Today Pride festival for children, tomorrow children’s sex-change?

Dagen reported that the Stockholm Pride festival which also hosts Euro Pride will have this year a focus on children. Fairy tales, music and a worship service for the children are on the program.

Although this might seem “innocent enough”, what is really actually happening is the indoctrination and conditioning of children to a perspective on sexuality that embraces the modern teaching that sexual identity rather than biologically determined, is a preference or a choice with the long lasting consequence that people should be allowed (encouraged) to choose whatever sex they want to be.

You think I am off the wall with my interpretation? What do you think about the following viewpoints of Chuck Colson: ?

“Norman Spack is a pediatric endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Not long ago, he opened a clinic for what he terms “transgendered” children. Incredibly, he is giving kids as young as seven drugs that delay the onset of puberty—the first step in sex-change surgery when they are older.

Spack injects children with hormone-blocking drugs to prevent them from developing secondary sexual characteristics, like breasts or facial hair. The idea is to give them a few more years to make up their minds if they want to be male—or female.

When these kids hit their teen years, they are given the option of taking cross-hormones for a few years—which will allow them to develop the characteristics of the opposite sex. Tragically, the treatment will condemn these teenagers to lifelong infertility.

Spack appears to think that that is a reasonable trade-off for teens who feel they are trapped in the body of the opposite sex: After all, the cross-hormone treatments will make it easier for them to “pass” as the opposite sex. For instance, men will not grow as tall as they normally would, nor will they develop beards or Adam’s apples.”

I agree with Chuck Colson who says:

“Science and the Bible teach otherwise: God created us male and female in His image. Shots and surgeries and politically correct teachings cannot alter this fundamental truth.

Tragically, some parents are now buying into this false teaching—and allowing their children to undergo destructive treatments.

You and I need to be spreading the word that legitimate treatment is available for people suffering from gender confusion—and it is a treatment that does not sacrifice the well-being of children to the political agendas of adults”.


That’s the Way I see it too!

John

The only time I agree with Lennart Koskinen…

Lennart Koskinen stated in a seminar of Dagen on the development of the Church in Sweden: “Ten years from now Christianity will be stronger then today”. This statement I endorse 100%! It is actually the only time that I have agreed with Bishop Lennart Koskinen from the Swedish Church (former State Church).

I do agree with him that there will be a stronger Church in Sweden ten years from now! But it won’t be the Church which he represents. As he made clear earlier he would not like to have “my-kind –of-people” around; people with a strong Biblical conviction and lifestyle. People he considers to be “fundamentalist” because they believe in the Bible as authority for their lives. In an earlier blog I wrote: Christians – in name only! A call to radical Christ following – death to Christendom!” We will in the near future see the death of Christendom as we know it, yet we will see a rise of Bible believing Christians in the near future… How I know: I see the signs of the time as people turn again to God… and (you don’t need to be a prophet to recognize this) the state of the Church I Sweden cannot get much worse… so you don’t need to be a prophet to state that things will change! (See more statistics here).

So I do agree with Lennart on this and continue to not agree on most other things he addresses…(Honestly speaking I don’t think he minds me having these thoughts… He doesn’t even know about them and might not be interested in them anyway).

That’s the Way I see it!

John




200,000 children of addict parents go without support in Sweden!

Dagen, the Christian Daily and Ekuriren reported today that 200,000 children of addict parents lack support in our nation. Of the 200,000 children involved, only 2% will receive support in the municipality. These figures come from a report from the IOGT-NTO junior department which is a special organization working for the sobriety/temperance movement here in Sweden.

The report, yearly released for the last five years, addresses the difficulty of getting children of drug- or alcohol addicted parents involved in the support groups which are available in a number of different cities and towns in our nation.

The results of the year 2008 inquiry in the municipalities show that:

– 261 of 290 municipalities answered the questionnaire

– 74% (192 of 261) can offer support groups for this goal group.

– 35% will use more resources to develop ministry to these children (for a more detailed report check here for a download).

Thus far an extract of the report.

We are facing a real serious issue… about a month ago our church (www.newlife.nu ) was invited by the county council to receive a reward for our ministry against segregation. As I was there I was spending time with some of the governing politicians whose responsibility was to pursue initiatives towards children and youth. During our conversation I addressed especially the situation of the children to addicts (since we minister to addicts within the context of the church). He had recognized the same problem as I had seen similar to the one addressed in the report.

And I was thinking, here we have these thousands of children and youth who have been raised under pressure and are like “walking wounded” individuals who are still in the development stages of their lives and yet, we cannot help them to deal with their traumas, their fears and their hurts. We spend tremendous amounts on the rehabilitation of their parents and yet, they are hardly considered. This last statement I have to explain: they are considered and thought off, the sheer presence of such a report show that.

However, I do know that we have no means to get in direct contact with these children and youth. In contrast to their parents we have little follow-up on their whereabouts. They seem to disappear in the system, not even our social authorities seem to be able to connect with them as a group. Of course we have to realize that so many of these children have gone through such heavy traumas that they might be happy to be able to be in other, more healthy, environments and are therefore not receptive to engage in treatment, therapy or plain support allowing others to re-open wounds they try forget they have.

The big questions are:

· How do we identify them as individuals and as group?

· How do we structure support for them from the very first moment one of the authorities or other organizations is confronted with them and their family’s situation?

· How do we then synchronize our resources, know-how and personnel to create networks of professionals and volunteers who can be part of their daily life?

· How can we provide an accountability structure for all involved to ensure the possibility to develop a relationship with every single child motivating him/her for the kind of help they need?

· How can we remain in touch with these children even when they have gone on to live with their parents and/or other adults?

I don’t have answers, just questions at the moment. What do you know, think, suggest? How can we together be part of the answer these children need?

John