Tag Archives: Christian

No crucifix – but burka is Okay! Religious discrimination in politically (un)-correct England.

BBC news tells us that a Christian nurse Shirley Chaplin from Exeter lost a discrimination claim against her employers and is moved to a desk job after refusing to remove her crucifix at work, which she had been carrying for over 30 years!

While at the same time other employed people can wear a burka within the health care, Shirley has to remove her religious symbol because of health issues. That’s how far the corrosion of foundational values and praxis can go in our so-called Christian nations. The overwhelming pressure in the West to try to appease and please every person’s right in regard to freedom of press, speech and religion creates over-sensitivity towards people from other cultures and religions while rejecting our own roots (almost like a false guilt trip).  If a decision like this would have been made in the context of a Muslim believer or for that sake any other (non-Christian) person, it would have caused a landslide of reactions and demonstrations causing a reversal of the decision. But, since this is only one of those “weirdo’s” uh, Christians, it is acceptable and only right to do so… or?

What do you think about this?

John

Advertisements

Stress among Christians and in Christian ministry

“Spiritual demands can create stress”. Was the name of an article in the Christian Daily here in Sweden.

Tommy Dahlman discovered that the Church is not a sanctuary from stress… Tommy tells us that there are many reasons why we experience stress, it is not only related to the hours that we work… He addresses that one of the reasons is the sense that we have to be available and in touch with our world around us at al times.

What I find interesting is the element of stress also among leaders in the church; research done in North America describe the following facts of people in ministry: Most Protestant pastors make their greatest impact in a church between the 5th and 14th years of their pastorate in that location. Yet, the average length of a pastorate is less than five years. Other facts:

• 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.

• 50% – 60% of church planters close the plant and the effort dies.

• 90% say their Bible School/Seminary Training did not prepare them for what they face day-to-day in the church.

• Only 10% finish the race and reach age 65 as a pastor.

• Two-thirds say their congregation has been in conflict in the past 2 years.

• 80% of pastors’ spouses with their spouse would choose another profession.

• Nationally 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to burnout, moral failure, or conflict in the church. That’s 18,000 per year!

• 1 out of every 4 of those who left reported they were motivated by conflict with the denomination or a “belief that church headquarters was not supportive.”

• 50% of those who begin in the ministry leave after their first pastorate in less than 5 years never to return to ministry though they felt called.

I know stress since I live with it to some capacity on a daily basis. I don’t know if one can live without the trials of stress, stress is experienced in many different ways, in responsibilities, assignments, relationships, social circumstances, and finances, in connection to our perception of us and so many more situations and dimensions.

And what about the demands of Jesus as he calls us to leave everything behind and follow Him… Following Jesus implies a certain degree of stress as He challenges us to be changed in His image… the whole process of sanctification can be experienced as a stress related development. Every change I am exposed to is in its essence a possible stress factor in my life.

For Christians there is yet another dimension of stress: and that is the fight in the spiritual world… when becoming a Christian one leaves the “kingdom of darkness” behind and becomes part of the Kingdom of light (or God). The Bible tells us that there is a constant battle going on as our enemy Satan will try to do everything possible to kill, quench and destroy us. The spiritual warfare is real and claims its toll. The problem is that many Christians and leaders in the West are not aware of this warfare thus being unprepared and unprotected against it.

Another aspect that I want to call our attention to is the fact that we are people with many passions. Too many passions! Following Jesus is learning to becoming men and women with few passions in life. Passions demand loyalty, time, resources, attention and energy… The fact that so many are burned out and are “stressed to death” can also be found in the fact that we have too many passions. Be a person with few passions and your life will be less stressed.

Personally I don’t think stress is the problem, the problem is what we do with it! Tommy Dahlman suggests some great remedies to help relieve the stress; he mentions: Live in peace with God and each other, don’t compare yourself to others, have deep relations, be open and transparent…

The earlier mentioned research among leaders showed that support, empathy and teams are lifelines in ministry and to keep your sanity. However, I guess that we will always battle with stress and its consequences. Since the fall of humankind conflict is a part of life (see article on conflict and leadership), conflict within, among and over creation and us. The challenge is to learn to “give our conflict, struggles, trials, stress and challenges to God” which, at times, is easier said than done… I am still in the school of life trying to throw myself into the hands of my master!

That’s the Way I see it!

John

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is doing it again! And Richard Dawkins is on her side! – Battling fundamentalistic Islam

A friend of mine sent me his weekly letter where he addressed “the remarkable twist of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, darling of the liberal crowd, a modern day hero in Richard Dawkins’ book, is now appealing to Christian churches to wage a propaganda battle against Islam by starting new Christian schools, sending Christian volunteers into city neighborhoods and spreading the Christian message!”

Today we have again an article in SVD on the Muslim extremists, we speak about the need of dialogue and understanding each other.  Some years ago, our own Dick Erixon wrote in “Nyliberalen” that he considered Ayaan Ayaan Hirsi Ali as the worldest foremost debater especially in regards to the question of the survival of Western “Civilization” (notice the quotation marks!) – and how to deal with fundamentalist Islam in a free society. In August 29, 2005 Ayaan Hirsi Ali was awarded the annual Democracy Prize of the Swedish Liberal People’s Party “for her courageous work for democracy, human rights and women’s rights.” She received the prize at a ceremony at the Swedish Riksdag from the party leader Lars Leijonborg.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969 in Mogadishu, Somalia is a Dutch intellectual, feminist activist, writer, and politician. She is the estranged daughter of the late Somali scholar, politician, and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. She is a prominent critic of Islam, and her screenplay for Theo Van Gogh’s movie “Submission” led to death threats. Through the worldwide spread of this instance she became know to a wide international audience. Since van Gogh’s assassination by a Muslim extremist in 2004, she has lived in seclusion under the protection of Dutch authorities.

When she was eight, her family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the center of a political controversy. In 2003 she was elected a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of the Dutch parliament), representing the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Now she is doing it again!

Let me quote from my friend’s letter: In her new book, Nomad, she continues her campaign against radical Islam. She is presently in Holland promoting her book, which quotes arch-atheist Dawkins on the cover saying: ‘This woman is a major hero of our times.’

Solution

Europe is sleepwalking towards its downfall, she warns, a cultural, ideological and political downfall; because churches neglected the immigrant ghettos. But there is a solution, she suggests. Mobilize the churches again! If Saudi-Arabia can invest millions in Koran schools and religious propaganda, why not the Catholic Church, with all its wealth and millions of faithful followers? She says that churches could be active in Muslim communities and offer there the same services that radical Muslims now do, by building schools, hospitals and civic centers, and doing the same civilizing work they did in Africa during the colonization period. 

Now, is there any white person who could get away with saying that?! Westerners have looked on for too long while Muslim scholars won souls, she continues. Churches of all persuasions must enter the competition of systematic religious propaganda with Islam, to curb its growth. Churches should revive such Christian institutions as schools, Christian volunteers in urban neighborhoods, and the spreading of the Christian message!

The West is losing the propaganda war, she says, and the Church can help Muslims assimilate. Motivating immigrants to adopt Western values has been neglected for too long. European leaders–including church leaders–have for decades neglected to take the newcomers into their flock.

“It’s maybe paradoxical to call in the church, while advocates of the enlightenment always fought the Vatican,” writes Hirsi Ali, “but Christianity has changed and the Church has become a much more tolerant institution.” (Dawkins may be reading her books, but she doesn’t seem to be reading his!)

Choice Muslims don’t need to give up their faith to assimilate, she allows. They can pray, keep Ramadan and other Islamic practices.  But they need to give up the social-political side like Jihad, Sharia, the oppression of women, intolerance against homosexuality or those born Muslims but who want something else. “That is a choice. Immigration is a choice. Nobody forced them to come here. Everybody came here willingly.” “In my opinion,” she was reported as saying, “many Muslims are searching for a God that answers to the description of the Christian God. Instead they are being given Allah.” Those Muslims who want to believe in a Creator and eternal life should choose for Jesus as their spiritual leader, she suggests.

The new approach of Ayaan Hirsi Ali to stop the “Radical Muslimization process” will without a doubt call forth many responses and reactions from both Muslims and secular people. She offers an alternative, the only alternative, to a challenge that has been left unchallenged for years because of its political un-correctness. The fact that Ayaan Hirsi Ali sees no other way out in spite of her anti-religious foundational stand makes one wonder whether she is starting to see light in the tunnel. (Of course could one wonder about her discernment in regards to earlier Christian missions and the present liberal stand of many churches, but what the heck, she is at least daring to speak out as usual!) She does need protection, so pray for her because many snakes will be rattled out from the fundamentalistic nest trying to bite her!

John

Positive trend of EFK and New Life Stockholm…but

According to the Christian Daily Dagen and my friend Stefan there has been a positive trend in the development of the EFK denomination. There has been some numeral growth from 31 283 membes to 31 616 and baptisms from 514 to 586 in comparison to the previous year. New Life Stockholm, the church where I am one of the pastors was mentioned too; 800 visitors during our worship services on Sundays…

Here I need to give a rectification: we do have approx. 800 visitors to our worship services but these are held at different times and days; our Ethiopian service is held on Saturdays at 16.00, our main Swe/Eng worship meetings Sundays at 10 & 12.30, the Mongolian meeting at 12.15, the Russian meeting at 15.30 and the French/Swe meeting at 15.30. Just to avoid any misunderstandings if people wonder; I was there, but where were the other 799?

Welcome anyway!

John

Jonas Gardell: human-affirming sliced gospel pieces

My friend, colleague and co-founder of the Stockholm2020 network Stefan Swärd has “found” the time to write an interesting article on the Jonas Gardell phenomenon. I must say that also Stefan at times is a little too focused on Jonas as does the rest of our Christian minority. Also Marcus Birro has a lot to say about his experiences with Jonas’ program and his view on what Gardell is trying to do. I agree we should stop whining about Gardell and start living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the Gospel of the Cross (with a capital C). The tremendous overflow of opinions on mister Gardell, his praxis, his beliefs or should I say heresies (?), including this one, yet another opinion… all of this is a symbol of something else…

I believe it is the consequence of a lack of a solid view on what the Church is all about and what the Church is called to do.  Swedish Christianity and this includes the Free Churches are prone to shifting their views and praxis with every new book people read and every new conference that leaders participate in. With the lack of awareness of our mission (Missio Dei) and the continuation of the Jesus’ mission in our world through us, His body, we give room for others to enter the arena with messages that tickle the ears of people and please people’s appetites. Jonas knows what to present and knows what people want to hear and gets every point across as an wide-open media highway is prepared for him to present his politically correct views in a very smart and enhancing way.

If we would only “do God’s will”, by living out the tremendous presence of God and the fruit of Kingdom in our lives, the surge for “Gardell-like-theology” would be quenched as people would look for real and life transforming encounters with God instead of human-affirming sliced gospel pieces wrought in brokenness and rebellion.

That’s the Way I see it!

John

The reality of a visionary lifestyle. (Part I)

From early age on I have, to some degree, been drawn into the reality of a visionary lifestyle. I saw difficulties and entrepreneurial endeavors as challenges and possibilities although I must confess not all of them were kosher.

As a young kid I saw possibilities in the selling of full-color pictures that I had glued on wooden backgrounds, I also started working on (almost) a daily basis at the age of eight as I helped out after school in a apple transport firm. From the creation of a discothèque for youth that loved “underground music” in the sleepy, isolated village where I grew up, to the transformation and selling of horse shit as hash (dried over my cigarette lighter, and cut into pieces of a few grams). These early attempts to change my ordinary reality set the stage for a perspective on life, which formed me into who I am today.

After meeting Jesus Christ as my savior, my “not-so-holy” attempts to create a new reality were replaced by a Holy Spirit powered and guided lifestyle where barriers, problems, status quo and challenges became stepping stones to a new reality by means of a visionary lifestyle.

One thing that I have carried throughout my life in both sanctified and non-sanctified versions is the importance of living full out in what you believe. Visions that don’t set things into motion are no visions! Or as Peter Drucker expressed it so well: “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work”.

Too many people talk a lot about their visions but they never seem to get out of their chairs to do something.

“Vision for me is hard work!”

That’s the Way I see it!

John

A manifesto from the “Christian left” – have they “left” the Christian perspective?

Representatives from a so-called Christian wing in the Social Democratic Party called Broderskapsrörelse (the brotherhood movement) have come out of their closet presenting a manifesto which really offers nothing new under the sun, they endorse the viewpoints of their party comrades rather than any self-respecting Christian. The title of their manifesto states that greed should not rule a society… a rather important issue nowadays which I addressed in my blog many times. However their focus in not on this issue, they join in with the large majority of the Swedish population which endorses a politically correct view on condemning all these horrible right wing Christians who still believe in the exclusive claims of the Bible and God of the Bible.

The debaters in Brännpunkt address the importance of freedom, equality and solidarity; which are the main slogans of a socialistic perspective. However, these are also the principles deeply rooted in the word of God; the Bible and the Christian Church. The other day I was talking to one of the former leading social democrats in our city. For a while we have built up a relationship which grows more in depth and where we share about our lives. A statement he made keeps ringing in my ears…”We, in the Democratic Party, have been very good in writing down principles and making laws… but you in the Free Church do the things we write and decide about!”

I think that statement is overdone quite a bit; there is so much we have to learn and we in the Christian Church have to repent from an egoistic life-style where greed rules in many of our decisions and ambitions. However, I do believe he touched on a glimpse of truth… freedom, equality and solidarity costs… because LOVE costs… “All love is good love” the debaters wrote… The Bible would be the first to refute that statement because the love which the Bible speaks about is the agape kind of love which Jesus addresses when they asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said, “‘Love (agapao) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love (agapao) your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-41)

The word agape refers to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, which they were committed to reciprocating and practicing towards God and among one another. This love has implications where truth and non-truth diverse their ways and where not anything is accepted and endorsed. Actually true love might affirm, comfort, direct, guide, disagree, but also confront and refute! The real essence of love is not to be able to accept everything, anything at any time… it is the ability to discern and act based upon a reality outside oneself based on an objective truth that is found in the Bible.

I do not agree with much that is identified as Christian right wing politics as exemplified in American politics… (more of that another time)… But the fact that I am identified with what the debaters call the Christian right wing in Sweden together with the Clapham institute is an honorable identification. And if we are the only ones in this society believing in certain of our convictions and viewpoints in regards to values, norms and praxis… so be it… I remember a man who in most of His views was against the norms and praxis of His society. Thinking of that fact I feel in great company!

That’s the Way I see it!

John