I Love My church

i-love-my-church

The title pretty much says it all, I love my church.  I love the Church as a whole, but I particularly love my local body of church.  I am a member of Veritas West, a part of Veritas Community Church here in Columbus, Ohio.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ here, I love my deacons, I love my elders, I even love our Bengals loving pastor (why do all the pastors in my life like the Bengals?!).   They are all fall from perfect, but I love them because God has put me here and under their discipline and discipleship.  Lisa and I started attending Refuge Church back in March and became members in June.  So we have only been attending here for a little less than a year. But I have no doubt that this is where God wants Lisa and I at this moment.

Same with our current living situation here.  Lisa and I have felt called to the Hilltop/Franklinton area for a while now, and this past November we finally found a place to rent here in the Hilltop.  It definitely has it challenges, but we are grateful for God placing us here right now.  We have met other people living in the Hilltop who also feeled called by God to this area, and shortly after our move here, our church relocated to half a mile up the road from our house.  I am excited when I hear of other families who want to move to this area as well to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sovereign Chaos

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These last couple of months have seen to go by so fast.  It seems like just yesterday I was living in Portsmouth as a full-time college student.  Fast forward a couple of months and now I am engaged to a beautiful young woman, whom I love very dearly.    Although the first few months were hard because I saw many friends I’ve had since Freshman year of college stop texting and calling me to hang out.  It seemed almost as if they no longer wanted to hangout with someone who was in a serious relationship.  But, I was okay with that because I know that she’s the woman I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and have beautiful little kiddies with one day.

A few more months go by and I’ve become a college graduate and moved back home to Columbus.  I have had a couple of interviews with one of the major pharmaceutical companies in the mid-west that offered great pay and great benefits.  After I get my 3rd interview, it turns out that they decide to hire someone with more experience than I and I’m back to square one.  I have several interviews and no job.  I look into a few temp agencies and they are all real shady and never gave me a job that lasted longer than one day.  So here I am, in late July, 3 months out of college with no job, and 3 months away from being married.  People keep telling me to get a job in fast food but I know that’s not going to pay the bills and it’s not where God wants me.

Finally, I get a job working for Verizon doing over the phone tech support.  Hours suck but the pay is decent.  After 7 weeks of training, I get onto the “floor” and I absolutely hate it.  I loathe this job with every fiber of my being.  But I’m getting married in a couple of months and can’t just up and quit the only steady job I’ve ever had, so I bite my tongue and keep going to work.

On October 20th, 2012 I married the girl I waited my entire life for, a woman who I was beginning to think didn’t exist.  It was the happiest day of my life.  Although, it did sting quite a bit that a lot of people who I dearly love, look up to, and consider pretty big mentors in my faith did not attend for various reasons.  None the less, nothing could take away from the joy of that day.

The first couple of weeks and months were hard for both myself and Lisa.  My hours at work kept getting cut beyond my control.  It was bitter-sweet because while I hated my job, it did pay the bills as I was the only one working full-time at that time.  On one of the days I got sent home early from work, I basically broke down to Lisa and told her how much I hated my job and how I get physically sick whenever I even think about work.  Lisa knew I didn’t like my job but I’m not sure if she really knew how much I hated it.  To many people’s dismay, I decided to quit my job.  Let me tell you, quitting your job when you’re the only one working consistently is a pretty stressful thing.  I’m certain that it was even more stressful for Lisa.

Eventually, Lisa got a job at a high-end fashion store (where she is quickly moving up the ladder).  It took me a little longer to find work.  Again, I had several interviews and looked into several temp agencies but nothing came to fruition.  I had an interview with Ricoh USA for a position at BMW Financial Services.  I felt great about the interview and really loved everything about the company.  A couple of weeks went by and I did not hear anything back from Ricoh and I started working a seasonal job at Macy’s in the same mall Lisa worked in. After my first day, I got a call from Ricoh, they offered me a job in a different department (higher pay to boot!).  I immediately accepted the position and anxiously waited to tell Lisa the good news when she got off from work.

Fast forward two months and here I sit today, at work, writing this blog.  I really am loving my job.  I have great bosses and great co-workers.  I get paid well and have great benefits.  I have recently found out that my company will pay for me to finish my Bachelors and my Masters (in what, I’m not sure of).

It has been a whirlwind couple of months here in the Linley household, but I am certain that I am where God wants me, and I am grateful that he has provided myself a job where I can support my wife and future family with to the best of my abilities.

Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Rich People Need The Gospel, Too.

Before I start, allow me to just clear something up.  Everyone needs the gospel.  There isn’t a group of people on the planet that doesn’t need the gospel.  There isn’t a single person on the planet that doesn’t need the gospel.  With that said, why are we only focused on the poor?

Christ makes it pretty clear that it will be very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  I can name off the top of my head many local and national ministries aimed at helping the poor, and that’s great.  But I can’t really think of any ministries aimed at sharing the glory of Christ to the wealthy, and that’s not okay.  I think it’s become to the new cool thing to help and love the poor while we hate on and ignore the rich.  They have more stuff than else, so we don’t need to help their souls find Jesus.  It makes us bitter and not any better than the wealthy we criticize.  I was told recently that “true christians” are more concerned with poor people then any other group.  Not sure how accurate that is.

More than likely you are thinking of the poor person as the guy who has to go to the soup kitchen for a meal and the rich guy as the person in the 7 bathroom/5 bedroom house who has 4 cars.  Perhaps you are thinking of all THOSE rich people who need this message…hold on…if you are reading this… on a computer… in America, you are rich by any objective, historic, Biblical definition.

We are rich.  By any objective historic standard, everyone and all of us would be in the category of rich by the Bible’s standards. We have more than most people in history: more stuff, more food, more shelter, and more transportation than anyone in history. MIT economist Abhijt Banjerjee in his book Poor Economics maps out by city and country the population where 75% or more of the residents live on less than $2.00 a day.  It’s staggering.

My overall point, everyone needs the gospel.  Rich, poor, white, black, short, tall, etc.  EVERYONE needs the gospel.

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Next on Theory of The Phil: Why KONY 2012 is a load of crap no matter what your pastor says.

It’s Not About Encouragement!!

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me or inferred that the Christian community should only be about encouragement, I would have enough money to start a church that would continue to feed this false belief.

It’s amazing how blind people can actually be when it comes to the role of Christians and the Church.  The popular and widespread belief seems to be that the Christian communities sole purpose should be to encourage one another and make one another feel good about themselves, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  The ideology that the Church exists to make us feel better about ourselves makes Christianity all about us, it turns our religion into an idol.  The Church (Christians) exit for one reason, to glorify God and to delight in him.

This isn’t going to make me any fans, but I’m sick of the “Cultural Christian” who just wants to use the death and resurrection of our Lord as an excuse to make themselves feel good and meet new people.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with encouraging one another, we are commanded to do it after all; but it should come as a distant second place behind glorifying God.  When we place encouraging people in front of the teaching of scripture and the study of God, it’s an idol.

Interview With A Muslim

Can you give a brief account of how, why, and when you became a Muslim?
For me, Islam wasn’t so much a life choice but more of a path that I was destined to take. I was and have always been brought up within a Muslim household and so I’ve constantly had the teachings of my religion bestowed upon me. My earliest memory of Islam was my father teaching me ‘Bismillah’, a phrase which is said before every section of the prayer, although I think my fondness of it stayed with me because of his methods and caring nature. He always brought me up with the teachings of the Qur’an (our holy book), yet he also allowed me my own choice at a later age.

Recently, however, I’ve decided to question Islam and its teachings. Through this process, not only have I found myself closer to my religion than ever before, but I have also gained the confidence to be proud of my teachings and follow my faith. The Qur’an isn’t simply a book that attempts to answer life’s questions, but rather it is a collection of chapters that dictate the correct way to live life and achieve happiness. From money, to love, to worship, to friendship, business, politics and ethics are all covered thoroughly and the wording is so beautiful it would bring a tear to your eye.

Is Allah the god of the Old Testament?
I have to be completely honest and admit to not knowing much about God’s actions in the Old Testament, but to us, Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. We believe that most mainstream religions believe in the same Deity but by different names, however they all come down to the one that is the most merciful and most forgiving. Simply put, yes, Allah is the God of the Old Testament, but he is also the God of the New Testament, the Torah and the Qur’an as we all put our faith in one immortal and infinite being.

Do you believe that all non-Muslims will go to Jahannam (hell)?
I couldn’t recite the exact scripture for you but in my belief I think that no, not all non- Muslims will go to Jahannam. For the benefit of the argument I will refer to man within the confides of this piece, but it is equally weighted for women. I feel a true testament to a man’s character lies within his actions and reactions to specific things. For example; If you saw a begger in the street, and a Muslim walked straight past the man, choosing to only spare him a short amount of change before walking off into the sunset, would he be a better person than, for example, an Aethist, who helped the man up, took him for a hot meal and gave him comfort? It clearly all depends on a man’s actions in this life that allow him to be judged. However, with being Muslim, I believe that we should worship Allah in certain ways that he has set out for us, as he has given us life and it is to him that we shall go. This involves the five pillars of Islam; Belief, Prayer, Fasting, Charity and Pilgrimage. Without these actions I do not believe that a man will go directly to Jannah (Heaven), but more likely a form of purgatory which allows man to leave his sins behind.

Can you explain the main differences between Christianity and Islam?
Essentially Islam and Christianity are very much the same; we both worship the same God, both have a holy day (Friday and Sunday respectively), both have primary beliefs that we try to follow in day to day life and both have a great respect for each others faiths and religious choices. However, one of the main differences that springs to mind is the fact that we, as Muslims, do not believe that Jesus, a human, is the son of God. This, in our teachings, means that God must have, with all his infinite wisdom and power, created himself with limitations. A human needs to eat, sleep, breathe and will eventually die; therefore destroying the idea of God’s infiniteness. We do, however, believe that Jesus was a prophet and we hold him in the same level of regard as our own prophet, Mohammed.

What is the general feeling in the Muslim community regarding the september 11th terrorist attacks?
Theres a question that has been thrown about in the media, one that, whilst not necessarily the view of the general pubic, is easily asked but difficult to answer. Firstly, what is the primary viewpoint of Muslims in the west? Their deception is a long way from the beautiful images of prayer and caring views of family, but rather there is a focus on terrorism and disorder. However, the main point I’m trying to get across is why this is. Media outlets have field days attempting to destroy the name of Islam, and yet it is still the fastest growing religion in the world.

I would like to stress that the opinions and words in this document are not meant to cause offence, not are they supposed to give the idea of hatred or disregard for Christianity in any way. My tolerance for other worldly religions far exceeds my scripting, as well as my love for the world we live in and the people in it.

thank you, Phil, for giving me the opportunity to answer some of your questions on this subject. I look forward to further discussion on this topic in the future.

I would like to thank Arif for agreeing to be apart of this dialogue!  I hope to continue these discussions with him and others in the future.

Glory

This isn’t going to be a post about “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga, sorry.  However, it will be about a topic that I have struggled with understanding until recently, that topic being obviously, Glory.

Glory is always presented in the bible as a result of accepting Christ, we will be glorified with Christ in Heaven and on the New Earth.  We know that Christ was glorified by the father when he was crucified for our transgressions.  But other then that, we don’t know much about what it means to be glorified.  I’ve always thought of being glorified as a sort of attention.  For example, if I were to glorify Tim Tebow, I would tell everyone about him and cheer for him at every chance.  So is this what happens when we “go to be with the Lord”?  This seems a bit, egotistical.  It seemed to me that it was saying “Worship me and when you die, I will worship you!”, I knew that’s not what it meant.  So the concept of glory and being glorified was somewhat lost on me for awhile.  It wasn’t until I read “The Weight of Glory” by CS Lewis that I finally came to grasp a understanding on what it meant by the term “glory”

CS Lewis made the connection that we are created to enjoy God and worship him forever, something that we often fail at doing; and that when we are glorified by God, it is the equivalent of God being pleased with us.  And that hit me pretty hard.  In a sense, it would be as if we are making God smile when he glorifies us.  He is telling all of creation that he is happy with us.  I loved that analogy.  And while it helped me understand what glory was, I still didn’t have that firm of a grasp on it.  It wasn’t until I thought about it in more of an applicable way for me that I really think I got it.

In a more finite sense for myself to understand, I compared it, of course, to girls.  I think every guy can relate to that amazing feeling you get when you make the girl you like laugh.  Genuinely laugh.  Especially when you’re not trying really.  I know it sounds really lame to compare being glorified by God to making a girl laugh, but I think most guys can relate with me here.  Of course, the glory of God is a infinite amount more awesome then anything we could comprehend here on earth.  And I think that’s why it was really hard for me to really grasp the concept of glory, and maybe for others it is as well.  So maybe this will help.  Maybe not, idk.