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Monday, May 25, 2009

9/11 Manipulation

Recently, former Vice President Dick Cheney issued a type of rebuttal speech to President Obama's speech. In Cheney's speech he chose to invoke the memory of 9/11 at the beginning and at the end of his discourse. While it was a rather shrewd means by which to touch people emotionally, he did it in a way to manipulate people so they would not investigate what he said in the middle.
I am not going to debate the merits of either speech, both are obviously quite intelligent and adapt at communicating a message, both in words and vision. But I do want to address the issue of 9/11 and its use in manipulating our society.
For those who "say" they want to follow Christ, we are seriously shortchanging our faith, if not blatantly diregarding it, when we don't evaluate the situation (or any other) from a biblical worldview.
ALL situations in life fall under the perspective of the commandments of Christ (reiterating the teachings of the whole of Scripture. A horrendous event took place in Sept of 2001. It was the type of event which occurs quite regularly in other places in the world, but because it happened in America it was a bigger deal. Which will bring about some points to ponder a little later in this discourse.
In all situations, we are to insure we are LOVING God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This commandment is a command to grasp unto the sovereignty of God in all situations. We are to submit all that is part of our lives to His Lordship. The question, "Why did He allow this to happen to us?" is impertinent, even obstinate, unless the question is asked as a legitimate means of introspection to our culture and political processes and lead us to an honest evaluation of the breakdown of our moral standing in the world's eyes. I would challenge you to think about that issue.
In the 2001 event we are also told to "love our neighbors as ourselves." We certainly "loved ourselves' in this event. We were heartbroken, sorrowful, and even showed a great capacity toward bravery, heroism, compassion and generosity. Afterall, innocent people had been killed in the name of a "holy war." As our political will turned on the power switch of our military and great deal of death and displacement has occurred to innocents in the dispicable name of "collateral damage." Are we, I'm talking to those who claim to follow Christ, if you are still mourning the 2001 event, are you also mourning for the mothers, fathers, and children who have lost their family members simply because they were in the wrong place when destruction was wrought? I would challenge you to think about that issue.
In the 2001 event we are also told "As I (Christ) have loved you, so you must love one another." While the American Church has been incredibly generous toward families suffering through the tragedy of that day in 2001, has there been any conscious effort to love our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran who have suffered terribly during this time. Many refugees of fled Iraq into Syria and Jordan. Are we praying and thinking of ways to support our Palestinian brothers and sisters who practice their faith and suffer for it at the hands of Muslims and the Israeli's alike? What America experienced in a moment, it was is endured daily by our faithful (more?) family of God members in the world. I would challenge you to think about that issue.
Finally, as a believer seeking to evaluate our reaction to events in the world. In this case, an event which took place in 2001 in America. What have you done with the teaching of the One we say we follow, when He commanded us "Love your enemies and pray for thsoe who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." This command is given in the context of how to live out our faith with authenticity and as a means to "perfect' our faith. Of course, He who we follow, epitomizes this as he suffers for US while on the cross he says to the Father, on behalf of those killing Him, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." This is where the issue of a "just war," torture, and a preemptive war on another country must be seriously evaluated in light of what we claim to believe. Scripture simply, not only doesn't support those concepts (a "just war" can only be led by God), it repudiates them by the strictest means possible. Christ commands us NOT to react the way others might. I would challenge you to think about that issue.
Finally, as a summation, if we truly demonstrated love to God in all our actions, truly loved our neighbors (remember this was illustrated in the Good Samaritan parable), love our brothers and sisters in Christ the way Christ loved us (this includes Arab Christians), and loved our enemies (the way Christ loved them), we would consider the event of 9/11 from a different perspective and all issues of our life from a different perspective. We would be living according to our faith. Our faith, now approaching an authentic, biblical faith, would change our lives and the lives around us. I would challenge you to think abou that issue.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Generosity of God

While I suppose writing these blogs seems to indicate that bloggers think they have something important to say there are times I just have to share the awe I have with the God of the Universe. I am marveling at His generosity. His willingness to reach all the people groups he created, despite their efforts to avoid Him, despite their efforts to create their own gods, despite their unbelief there actually is a God who created them.
I marvel at a God who sees beyond our gender, our age, our culture, our strengths and weaknesses, and even sees beyond our sin to that which could be if we would align ourselves to His way of living life. He has always been the God of the possible.
I marvel at a God who has very few "do nots" in His vocabulary but an enormous amount of "blessings if" and He wants to act on the positive.
I marvel at a God who can work through His people's obvious short comings and still bring daily benefits, as well as, eternal benefits, to those who will strive to know Him. He never quits on us, never writes us off, never stops loving us.
I cannot help be overwhelmed by the generosity of God. I hope you meet Him in your lifetime.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Temporal Needs are Spiritual needs

It is sometimes frustrating, often times saddening, to hear a pastor ask what the spiritual value is of doing something that would meet the temporal needs of an individual. It is as if some types of "caring" are more spiritual than other forms of "caring." Even worse, some forms of "caring" aren't seen as spiritual at all. Maybe it would be good to take a good look at some of Jesus' last words as he hung on the cross and have our minds turned inside out as to what is "spiritual."
Those of us who believe Christ's claims about himself, understand that everything he did was based on obedience to the Father's will. Thus, everything he did or said had deep spiritual realities that we are supposed to replicate in our lives. To be a follower of Christ is to learn to live like Christ, take action like Christ, and to do it all with Christ's motivation.
So if we go to the cross, the story around the cross, we will find that there is no such thing as an unspiritual act of caring. The gospel recorded by John sets the irrefutable testimony that the meeting of temporal needs means we are also meeting spiritual needs.
As Jesus hangs on the cross, beaten, tortured, mocked, ridiculed, naked, and suffering the indignation of watching people gamble over his clothes he looks past his physical, emotional, and spiritual pain to provide a solution to his mother's temporal needs.
Mary's situation was dire. She is believed to be widowed, her oldest child hangs on a cross before her, and she is about to become destitute with virtually no means by which to care for herself. The cultural issues of her day ecplised any opportunities for her to provide for herself financially.
So Jesus looks at one of his disciples and tells the disciple to take care of Mary. Despite his own horrible circumstances, he sees outside of himself and reaches out to address the temporal need of Mary. He not only insured she had family, but that she would be provided for in a financial sense.
This is profound. Shortly after this incident Jesus would say, "It is finished." He confirms the faith of one of the robbers and then provides for the temporal need of a woman. Since everything Jesus did was spiritual, God oriented, then how can it be any less for those who claim to follow Jesus?
Any care that a believer offers in love of God and our neighbor creates a spiritual stirring in the arena which is unseen by our mortal eyes. This action by Christ teaches us to look beyond our own struggles and afflictions (unlike Jesus most of our issues have a self-infliction factor) and take care of the needs of our neighbor. Any act of love has a spiritual impact. It is time for the American church to realize this, en mass. Do the good we are supposed to do, allow the Spirit of God to work through that good. These should be the daily actions of the people who claim to follow Christ. Make it happen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'm going to stop being a "christian"

Have you ever noticed how much baggage is attached with the word "christian?" The self proclaimed, and now dead, Moral Majority, attached itself not only to politics, but the ideology of a specific political party. The constant drumbeat created the perception that to be 'christian' is to be part of that particular party. Even worse, a perception within that group developed that one couldn't be 'christian' if not associated with that political party.
It became even more defined that one couldn't be 'christian' if one's stance on specific issues differed from the rest of them. Patriotism, which is often disguising nationalism, became associated with this type of 'christian." The issue of torture that I wrote about in my last entry is really motivating me in this direction. And for my part, I want no part of it any longer. I think I'll stop being 'christian.' Obviously, I mean that I will not associate myself to that which the term now defines.
Interestingly, the word christian is only used twice in Scripture. Once in Acts and in First Peter. the term 'believer' is used 19 times (I like this) and follower(s) is used 8 times. I like follower because it is associated always with Jesus. I really like the term "the Way" used five times in the book of Acts.
I think I will tell people from this day forward that I am a follower of the Way. It is Jesus that I am following. Enough said for the moment.