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Calling vs. Desire
by Anthony Bradley
Many Christians consistently misuse the word “calling,” which leads to a person who has a “desire” to do something being wrongly viewed as unspiritual or “fleshly.” Is it accurate to say “I feel called to be pilot” or “We feel called to live in the city”? Not really. I guess God could “call” people to vocations and ZIP codes, but that’s not the main emphasis of the concept in the Bible. Calling has more to do with becoming a member of the people of God and living a holy life rather than deciding which job to take or whom to marry. Those items are actually choices.
The Greek word that Paul uses to describe his “calling” to be an apostle is the same word he uses to express the divine calling to be in union with Christ (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1) and is only used 10 times in the New Testament. To say that you’re called to missions or to parenting like Paul says he was called to the office of the apostle is to grossly misuse the term or concept.
As a matter for fact, the Bible primarily explains that when God “calls” people, he calls them to intimacy with Him, union with Christ, join the Kingdom, get saved, live holy lives, and so on (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:7, 8:28-30, 9:26; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1:24, 1:26, 7:15-24; Galatians 1:6, 1:15, 5:13; Ephesians 1:18, 2:11, 4:4; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 2:21; etc.).
We spiritualize our desires as if wanting to be a missionary, cop, pastor, seminary student, or mom, or wanting to live in Peru, Kenya, Spain, the city, the suburbs, and the like, for a season, were all unspiritual as personal preferences. If it’s true that God gives us the desires of our hearts, and it’s true that all good things come from God, why is not OK to say, “I want to be a missionary for a while.” Why add “calling” to a choice or desire as if one were speaking in ways consistent with the Bible’s use of the concept.
The Holy Spirit can equally compel preferences, desires, and choices, but this is different from “calling.” The misuse of the word “calling” can lead to painful theological crises whenever situations don’t turn out as expected. “But I thought I was called to this,” we wonder. You weren’t called. You freely chose what you did and it didn’t work out. So what? Move on something else. Your decision was not necessarily wrong, and God’s not punishing you (unless it was clearly a sinful choice).
Since a Christian’s “calling” is to live in righteous harmony with God, this can be done in any vocation or geographic area. I’m cautious now when I write checks to people who say they are “called” to “this” or “that” ministry, vocation, region, because I would hate to send people off with a bad functional theology. The good news about freedom in Christ is that desires and preferences change, but callings do not.
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Today is "Equal Pay Day" for women -- but not all women agree the day is necessary.
Equal Pay Day -- started in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity -- is allegedly the day in the year when women have worked far enough to make up for the pay discrimination they faced the previous year. According to government statistics, women only make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Allison Kasic with the Independent Women's Forum comments on those findings.
"Now while that is technically correct if you look at the Department of Labor statistics, it's only a single variable comparison. It's only comparing the median wage of the full-time working woman to the median wage of the full-time working man," she notes. "It doesn't take into account a variety of other factors that need to be taken into account if we're going to have a realistic conversation about wage issues."
She says the study does not consider other factors such as workplace experience, education level, or occupation. Once such factors are taken into account, she says, any "wage gap" shrinks away.
Kasic believes equal pay is mostly a non-issue, and that new legislation -- like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or the Paycheck Fairness Act -- is not needed to tackle any perceived problems. She argues that sponsors of such measures are "exploiting" the wage gap to advance their own agenda.
Responding to a federal judge's directive, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it will now allow 17-year-olds to get the controversial "morning-after" birth control pill without a doctor's prescription.
In 2006, the FDA said it would limit over-the-counter access to the pill, also known as Plan B, to women 18 and older. But U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman ruled last month in a New York lawsuit that the FDA had to reconsider whether to make the drug available to all women, regardless of age, without a prescription.
Plan B is an extra high dose of regular birth control that needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse to be effective. Essentially, the drug prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation. It does not interrupt an already implanted pregnancy.
Religious conservatives object to Plan B, saying it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, and could also encourage premarital sex.
Supporters of broader access to Plan B argue that it is safe and effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, and could also help reduce the number of abortions. They also contend that the FDA's decision to limit access to the drug to women 18 and older was a concession to the conservative views of then-President George W. Bush and his administration.
The FDA originally approved Plan B as a prescription drug in 1999. It is manufactured by Duramed Research Inc. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Social conservatives tolerated John McCain as the party's nominee, but never trusted him, and he now appears to be facing a serious primary from the right in Arizona next year.
Chris Simcox the founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and a prominent figure in the movement to clamp down on illegal immigration, will be announcing tomorrow at an event on the Mexican border that he's resigned from the group to run in the 2010 Senate primary.
From a forthcoming release:
"John McCain has failed miserably in his duty to secure this nation's borders and protect the people of Arizona from the escalating violence and lawlessness," Simcox said. "He has fought real efforts over the years at every turn, opting to hold our nation's border security hostage to his amnesty schemes. Coupled with his votes for reckless bailout spending and big government solutions to our nation's problems, John McCain is out of touch with everyday Arizonans. Enough is enough."
McCain was forced to abandon his own immigration reform legislation during last year's Republican Primary, a move that may have cost him substantial Hispanic support to which his record could have given him access.
So he's basically getting it from both sides on this one.
Simcox, with a national base and a high profile on the right, is well positioned to give McCain a serious local headache. He'll find some allies among the conservatives who recently took over the Arizona Republican Party from McCain's allies, and he has a national fundraising base.
I remember seeing Chris Simcox at an event and multiple protesters were arrested. I must say that Chris Simcox was very polite and calm. I would like to hear him discuss other issues besides immigration. What would the perception be of the Republican Party be if the presidential candidate lost the following election? It would be a primary so I guess it would show either no leadership in the party or shifting more conservative or both.
SIMCOX CAMPAIGN WEBSITE
Even with the president on its side, the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) fundraising woes continued in March as the party earned fewer individual donations than did its GOP rivals.
The Republican National Committee, under new Chairman Michael Steele, pulled in $6.7 million in March, padding the committee's swollen bank accounts and ending the month with $23.9 million cash on hand. That's higher than the $5.26 million the RNC raised in February, Steele's first month as chairman.
The DNC, which hosted President Obama's first fundraiser since being sworn in in January, posted just $5.57 million raised from individual donors, down from the $6.6 million raised in February. Obama's fundraiser brought in $3 million, a DNC source told The Hill.
Still, the party got a boost from Obama's presidential campaign, which transferred $2 million to the DNC in March. In total, the DNC will report $7.57 million in contributions last month, with $9.7 million cash on hand.
But Democrats still face a pile of unpaid debt. The committee reported $6.9 million in debt at the end of February, and a DNC spokesman estimated that the number for March would be about the same. Exact figures were not immediately available Monday morning.
Republicans, meanwhile, remain debt-free.
Democrats said their February numbers were artificially lower thanks to the committee's new chairman, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who was barred by state law from raising money while the state legislature was still in session. But money did not start flowing once legislators adjourned from their regular session Feb. 28.
And Republicans apparently went on a spending spree in March. In a press release Friday, the committee claimed it would report $23.9 million on hand, $100,000 less than the party had in the bank at the end of February. Though operating expenses remained largely static, the RNC transferred $1 million each to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee in March.
Fundraising numbers for both parties' congressional and senatorial campaign committees, as well as for the national committees, are due by the close of business Monday.
In these difficult economic times many stores are cutting back. Yet Hobby Lobby a craft store known for using biblical principles in their business practice is now giving pay raises to their employees. Some things I noticed about Hobby Lobby is the Christian music being played in the store. Also, the store is not opened on Sundays. Here is their statement of purpose:
"In order to effectively serve our owners, employees, and customers the Board of Directors is committed to:
Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.
Offering our customers an exceptional selection and value.
Serving our employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals, and nurture families.
Providing a return on the owners' investment, sharing the Lord's blessings with our employees, and investing in our community.
We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future."
There are 416 stores in the Hobby Lobby chain. Employees at all of the stores were gathered to be notified of pay raises. The privately owned store chain said it was increasing pay for more than 6,900 of its employees because business has been good in the past few years. The company plans to hire 1,000 new workers this year and continue store expansion plans. "Our employees are the backbone of our company, and we believe that giving them the opportunity to share in our success is the right thing to do," said David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby. Frame shop Manager David Perry said he wasn't shocked the company issued the pay raise. Hobby Lobby has a history of caring for employees, he said, as evidenced by the chain's policy of remaining closed on Sundays so employees can have family time.
Better to abandon the Christian label than make it meaningless | Tony Woodlief
Consider this in light of charges that America is becoming, according to a Trinity College survey, less Christian. It's not that Americans are converting to other religions, it's that they are more willing to avow nothing. One researcher blames Christianity's association with conservative politics for turning people away. Sexual abuse by Catholic priests also tarnished us, he says. Underlying it all is a cultural shift that makes atheism more publicly acceptable. Recognizing this trend, President Obama became the first president to pay homage to nonbelievers in his inaugural address.
Regardless, Christianity is still hip among Americans. Although those claiming to be Christian have decreased from 86 percent in 1990 to 75 percent today, that's still a sizeable portion. What we ought to care about, however, is not what labels people choose, but what they believe and do. In surveys aimed at discerning Christian worldview (e.g., whether respondents believe that absolute truth exists, that Christ was sinless, etc.), Barna Research Group finds the portion with consistent biblical beliefs holding steady the past dozen years, around 10 percent. Similar surveys reveal disturbing ignorance of dogma among professing Christians.
While the vast majority of Americans claim to be Christian, in other words, a good many of us don't seem capable of explaining what that means. Little wonder the comically vicious Bill Maher had such a field day filming a mockumentary wherein he accosted Christians about their faith. Not knowing what we believe makes it awfully hard to answer why we believe it. It shouldn't surprise us if Christians who can't articulate what they believe have children and grandchildren who don't even bother to try. And this is exactly what we are seeing, as large numbers of young people stop attending church altogether upon leaving home.
The way many churches respond to declining public interest exacerbates the problem. The Christian church grew when its leaders stressed biblical study and fervent prayer, each of which was considered, in the early church, a means of knowing God. The modern feel-good church, meanwhile, de-emphasizes both in favor of "messages" that are "relevant to my life." (Don't tell me what Job said about the imponderable glory of God, tell me how to have fulfilling personal relationships.) That kind of offering can only be as stimulating as its deliverer, which explains why telegenic showmen find their congregations swelling, and so many other churches are shrinking. Eliminate the theologies of Word and prayer, and all you have left is a competition to see who can provide the best circus.
What we are in danger of—in our country, in our churches, in ourselves—is practical atheism. This is not a considered embrace of godlessness. It is instead the slow slide into lives where God is irrelevant. The people who walk away from churches likely haven't pondered Christian theology and rejected it; they simply haven't been exposed to theology in the first place. Absent knowledge of—and communion with—the living God, why would anyone in his right mind keep coming back?
Practical atheism isn't limited to people who abandon church; it extends to all we who drift from Christ, even as we dutifully attend Sunday services. It's in the brief morning prayer that eventually becomes no prayer at all. It's in the way we emulate men rather than the God-man. It's in the way we brood, as if the things that vex us don't pass through the hands of a loving God. I don't know if practical atheism afflicts you, but I slip into it every day. Surveys tell us more people are forgoing the Christian label. What ought to concern us is how many—perhaps most of all ourselves—are willing to keep the label without fully living the life it requires.
Jennifer Aniston, 40 Actress
Alex Rodriguez, 33 Baseball player
Kelly Ripa, 38 TV host
Britney Spears, 27 Singer
Patrick Dempsey, 43 Actor
Tiger Woods, 33 Pro golfer
John Grisham, 54 Author
Rod Blagojevich, 52 Ex-governor of Illinois
Will Ferrell, 41 Actor/comedian
Sarah Palin, 45 Governor of Alaska
Chesley Sullenberger, 58 Airline pilot
Beyoncé, 27 Singer
Taylor Swift, 19 Singer
Carolyn Murphy, 33 Supermodel
Jay-Z, 39 Rapper
Barbie, 50 Doll
Michael Bloomberg, 67 Mayor of New York City
Tyler Perry, 39 Actor/director
Danica Patrick, 27 Racecar driver
Rush Limbaugh, 58 Radio host
Tina Fey, 38 Actress/comedian
A college student in Michigan has been formally dismissed from a graduate program based on political correctness gone awry.
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco explains that Julea Ward encountered resistance from Eastern Michigan University when she refused to affirm a counseling client's homosexual behavior.
"What we have here is a Christian who is a student in a master's counseling degree program who was dismissed, kicked out of the school, simply because she was unwilling to violate her own religious beliefs in not advocating for homosexual behavior within the context of the counseling relationship," he points out.
When Ward's supervising professor suggested she refer the client to another counselor who did not take issue with homosexual behavior, she followed the advice. However, the school said she could stay in the counseling program if she would undergo a "remediation" program to reconstruct her belief system and help her "see the error of her ways." Ward refused.
Tedesco believes the school is guilty of religious and viewpoint discrimination. "Any orthodox Christian ought to look out if they try to apply for admission to the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University because they're not going to get a degree there," Tedesco contends.
Ward underwent a formal hearing that concluded with her dismissal from the counseling program on March 12. She appealed the decision to the dean of the College of Education, who upheld the dismissal on March 26.
Alliance Defense Fund has filed suit on her behalf.
Monday night on CNN's Larry King Live, Pastor Rick Warren apologized for his support of Prop. 8, California's voter-approved marriage protection amendment, saying he has "never been and never will be" an "anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist."
"During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going," Warren told the CNN audience on Monday. "The week before the -- the vote, somebody in my church said, 'Pastor Rick, what -- what do you think about this?' And I sent a note to my own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is -- really should be defined, that that definition should be -- say between a man and a woman."
However, just two weeks before the November 4 Prop. 8 vote, Pastor Warren issued a clear endorsement of the marriage amendment while speaking to church members. "We support Proposition 8 -- and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8," he said.
The following is a complete transcript of Warren's comments just weeks before the Prop. 8 election:
"The election's coming just in a couple of weeks, and I hope you're praying about your vote. One of the propositions, of course, that I want to mention is Proposition 8, which is the proposition that had to be instituted because the courts threw out the will of the people. And a court of four guys actually voted to change a definition of marriage that has been going for 5,000 years.
"Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 -- and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear.
"This is one thing, friends, that all politicians tend to agree on. Both Barack Obama and John McCain, I flat-out asked both of them: what is your definition of marriage? And they both said the same thing -- it is the traditional, historic, universal definition of marriage: one man and one woman, for life. And every culture for 5,000 years, and every religion for 5,000 years, has said the definition of marriage is between one man and a woman.
"Now here's an interesting thing. There are about two percent of Americans [who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years.
"This is not even just a Christian issue -- it's a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.
"So I urge you to support Proposition 8, and pass that word on. I'm going to be sending out a note to pastors on what I believe about this. But everybody knows what I believe about it. They heard me at the Civil Forum when I asked both Obama and McCain on their views."
During his CNN interview on Monday, Warren expressed regret for backing Prop. 8. "There were a number of things that were put out. I wrote to all my gay friends -- the leaders that I knew -- and actually apologized to them. That never got out," he admitted.
Additionally, Pastor Warren said he did not want to comment on or criticize the Iowa Supreme Court's decision last week to legalize same-sex "marriage" because it was "not his agenda."
Video of Warren endorsing Prop. 8
With Easter week upon us, Newsweek's April 13 cover proclaims "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." The new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) shows that the proportion of Americans who claim to have no religion has increased to 15% today from 8.2% in 1990. The Christian right has lost yet another battle, this time in the heartland state of Iowa, with its Supreme Court voting unanimously to legalize gay marriage. The proportion of Americans who think that religion "can answer all or most of today's problems" is now at a historic low of 48%.
Betting against American religion has always proved to be a fool's game. In 1880, Robert Ingersoll, the leading atheist of his day, claimed that "the churches are dying out all over the land." In its Easter issue in 1966, Time asked "Is God Dead?" on its cover. East Coast intellectuals have repeatedly assumed that the European model of progress, where modernity equals secularization, would come to the U.S. They have always been wrong.
Look closer and the new poll numbers are not quite as simple as headlines suggest. For one thing, they show that America remains remarkably religious by the standards of other advanced countries -- with three-quarters of the country still firmly Christian. And a significant number of Americans are becoming more godly, not less so: The increase in the number of atheists is going hand in hand with ever more conservative Christians and Pentecostals.
Looked at from a celestial perspective, the American model of religion, far from retreating, is going global. Pastorpreneurs are taking their message around the world. In Latin America, Pentecostalism has disrupted the Catholic Church's monopoly. Already five of the world's 10 biggest churches are in South Korea: Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has 800,000 members, is a rival in terms of organization for anything Messrs. Warren and Hybels can offer. China is the latest great convert. There are probably close to 100 million Christians in China, most of them following a very individualistic American-style faith. Already more people attend church each Sunday than are members of the Communist Party. China will soon be the world's biggest Christian country and also possibly its biggest Muslim one.
The Christian right has certainly stirred up an angry reaction to its attempt to marry religion to political power. But it would be a mistake to regard this reaction as evidence that America is losing its religion.
Any Thoughts, Comments or Concerns?