Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear, hate & division, or faith, hope and reconciliation?

Sorry- I'm probably gonna offend some more wing nuts with these two, but the truth hurts

Deb Milbrath
Aug 31, 2010

Jim Morin
The Miami Herald
Aug 31, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Buddhist Koan describes Christ

Just so you know ahead of time, this post may be offensive if you're especially sensitive, but I promise, I don't mean to be blasphemous or sacrilegious- just to make an important point why we should appreciate what God has done for us and reflect on how and when we might become humble enough to follow His example for the sake of helping others.

A monk asked Ummon, "What is Buddha?" Ummon replied, "Kanshiketsu!"

Kanshiketsu, literally a "shit-stick," was used in old times instead of toilet paper. Shit-sticks become dirty to clean us. If this is not a Buddha, then what is? Out of gratitude to the stick, we call them Buddhas.
Jesus is our Buddha.

Trust me, I am not making fun of either Christianity or Buddhism. I am neither trying to disparage my Lord, nor abandoning Christianity for Buddhism. Hear me out on this, first read what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21,
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
First of all, Jesus is not just a Buddha (a teacher who has achieved enlightenment, He is our redeemer, He died and rose again so that we can be able to have a relationship with the Living God. But think about 2 Cor 5:21 and compare it to Umman's Koan for a minute. In the basest terms, the Zen master is explaining that prophets of enlightenment carry away our filth and help us to become clean and pure. Jesus does this not merely with our thinking or the angst that impedes on our inner peace, He who never sinned, the only person to ever be pure and acceptable in God's sight, not only took on our filth, but became our filth. Then He took that kanshiketsu to the fire and incinerated it.

So perhaps, if He is willing to do that for us, if He is willing to be a shit-stick...

Maybe ONE; we should be willing to look at the humble things in this world with more honor. We should hold even the sick, weak, poor, alien, broken, and filthy people in this world with more respect. If not because He made them and loves them, then because He died for them too. Everyone is equal, and everyone has the potential for God to use them for His purposes.

And maybe TWO; we should be willing to be kanshiketsu for others. Shouldn't we offer His unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness, to everyone- no matter how different they are from us. No matter how difficult it is to have to put up with other peoples's crap. Shouldn't we be willing to serve others since Jesus serves us in the most fundamental, vulgar, difficult way?

This is what we are called to do as Christians. Although "ambassador" has a much nicer ring to it than "kanshiketsu." But that's the challenge, are we as Christians willing to do what Christ did? Are we willing to be shit-sticks for Christ?

2 Corinthians 5:14-20
Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Surreal take on a surrealist

Salvador Dali - The Sacrament of the Last Supper from Alicia7777777 on Vimeo.

I bet that Salvador Dali would like this morphing video of several of his paintings. I'm not crazy about the music, but I appreciate how this video-maker combined different images of Christ.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fear vs. Faith

Mark 5:21-43, Jesus heals the hemorrhaging woman and raises Jairus' daughter from the dead.

What a great story. I had to teach about this one at Vacation Bible School last night. at the core is Mark 5:36;

 "36Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

There's believing and then there's believing. I can believe there's a God as easy as I can believe there are major league baseball teams inn the U.S. I can believe that Jesus is God as easy as I can believe that the Yankees are one of the most successful baseball teams. Ah, but do I believe the Cubs will finally win the pennant? The kind of belief Jesus is talking to Jairus about isn't just acknowledging a fact, it's TRUSTING a person.

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." James 2:19

What Jesus asks us to do is to trust Him. It's kind of like He's telling Jairus, "Hey, chill, I got this!"

"Don't be afraid; just believe," Don't be scared, trust Me. Replace your fear with faith. 

This reinforces one of my favorite verses,

1 John 4:18
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

I've argued this point when it comes to negative campaigning in politics, hope, optimism, empathy and compassion will always be progressive, where as insecurity, anger and suspicion tend to be regressive. But it goes WAY beyond politics, it's about living your daily life with confidence because you know that you're living in God's grace and love.

So the next time you're anxious and doubtful, remember Mark 5:36, Jesus says, "Chill, I got this."

Here's possibly the all time best fear vs. faith verse:

Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."