"Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. … We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to “offer” something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The God Makers, one of the most powerful books to penetrate the veil of secrecy surrounding the rituals and doctrines of the Mormon Church, reveals the inner workings and beliefs of Mormonism. Through personal interviews and well-documented evidence, you'll discover the true nature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its hidden worldwide agenda.
- Golden tablets revealed to a land speculator in upstate New York?
- Jesus came to North America after the resurrection?
- Whites only Heaven?
- You (if you're a White male) can become the god of your own planet?
- Satan & Jesus brothers?
- God their father had SEX with Mary?
And you thought they just couldn't have caffeine or alcohol. Sure they're good people, but this is not Christianity.
Sorry conservative Christians, but your Republican nominee is the one who's not a Christian and may even be serving a hidden agenda. Ironic since you've been claiming that Obama is the Muslim Antichrist since the last election.
Okay, okay- to be fair, I don't know if Mitt Romney really believes any of these bizarre doctrines and I'll stipulate that most LDS members are completely unaware of them and in their hearts believe that Jesus is the only son of God who died on the cross for their sins.
However, it troubles me that so many Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists and other both fundamentalist and main-line denomination Christians don't realize that the fastest growing religion in America doesn't officially accept the truths confessed in the canonical creeds.
And yes, I'll be honest, it also confuses and obviously really irritates me that so many well-meaning believers were duped by the lies about Obama being some kind of "islamofascist."
Monday, August 27, 2012
Call it fellowship, community, koinoina, ecclesia, prayer-group, Bible-study group, renovaré, support-network, surrogate family, Christian friends, or just plain Church- we all NEED to be connected and in relationship- not only with God, but with fellow believers. God made us this way.
"God put this Word into the mouth of human beings so that it may be passed on to others. When people are deeply affected by the Word, they tell it to other people. God has willed that we should seek and find God’s living Word in the testimony of other Christians, in the mouths of human beings. Therefore, Christians need other Christians who speak God’s Word to them. They need them again and again when they become uncertain and disheartened." ~Dietrich Bonhoefer
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Enemies list: this fallen world, your own sinful flesh, & the Devil.
Notice who is NOT on this list?
Your classmates, coworkers, neighbors, employer, casual acquaintances, athletic rivals, political opponents, people of different colors, from different countries, and who speak different languages... Pretty much everyone. Keep it that way.
PS- if you do put anyone on that list, remember that Jesus said to love your enemies.
Oh, you say you don't think of THEM as your enemies, but you feel like they treat you like the put you on THEIR enemies list? Well, turns out Jesus also said to pray for those that persecute you. You might want to give it a try.
If you constantly feel threatened by everyone, it might just be that you're the one who's overly competitive... Or insecure... Or paranoid.
Try to connect more and control less. You'll be surprised by how nice life can be when you invest your energy in supporting others instead of defending yourself or defeating others.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.
Divine God, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
" In judgment and action those who follow Jesus will be different from the world in renouncing their property, happiness, rights, righteousness, honor, and violence. They will be offensive to the world. That is why the disciples will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer (on Matt 5:10)
Sure enough, if you live modestly, humbly, in deference to others, with empathy, compassion, altruism and respond to violence with non-violence, you are going to be viewed derisively. Even other Christians will resent your adherence to this path.
Maybe that's part of what it means to be salt and light (Matt 5:13-16) behaving like Jesus presents a contrast with the selfish, materialistic, power-accumulating, aggressive, ambitious values of this world.
Like salt brings out a food's own flavor and light exposes one's "true colors," maybe living out Micah 6:8 creates so much cognitive dissonance for some people that they (subconsciously at least) know that they're choices aren't so godly after all and it irritates them. Nobody wants to be accused of being self-serving or short-sighted. That's why I love that bumper sticker so much that says, "annoy a conservative, live like Jesus."
As 19th century social activist Mother Jones might say, the Gospel is going to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." (Garrison Keillor modified it a little and I put that one on the top of this page.)
No wonder Hitler had Bonhoeffer killed. Not only did Bonhoeffer's liberalism expose Hitler's fascism and authoritarianism for the tyrany it was, his authentic Christianity exposed Hitler's pharisaical hypocrisy for the mere political appliance that it was.
Saturday, August 04, 2012
~ Saint Augustine
When I first read this quote, I thought that the theological implications are staggering. Its too much to even consider. But THINKING is what good quotes provoke.
- Jonah 4- the prophet gets angry at God's compassion
- Luke 15:25-31- the prodigal son's jealous older brother
- Matthew 20:1-16- the parable of the workers paid equally
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
13 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. 5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Look, do you believe the words of Abraham Lincoln or not? If government is "of the people, by the people, and for the people," then you also need to believe the words of a comic strip opossum from the 1950's, Walk Kelly's Pogo who said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us!"
The word "citizen" means someone who participates in government. Civility is respect, no matter how much you distrust or dislike them, is entitled to the same dignity and respect that you expect to be granted. That's called the Golden Rule, do unto others (Luke 6:31).
My contention is that when governors and politicians show disrespect for public workers and union members, police officers, fire and rescue workers, government employees and public school teachers- they are disrespecting all of us. And in a democracy, we the people, not only our elected officials, are the authorities.
Sure, this may be a confusing analogy, but my point it, we must put EVERYONE's best interests ahead of those of party, PAC, and political career. Granted, in this day and age doing so may take courage, but- say, isn't there a book about that? Profiles in Courage. Hmmmm. Seems I remember John McCain talking once about how much he was influenced by John Kennedy's famous book.
I think it may be about time that the likes of Paul Ryan and Scott Walker started reading Profiles in Courage instead of Ayn Rand. Come to think of it, they might want to read some other books too, like Romans, Luke, Matthew...
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
I'm a total geek when it comes to both religion and civics. So last night, I'm teaching at Vacation Bible School on Matthew 4:1-11, when Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and it hits me. Christ was tempted in every way we are- with the very inalienable rights that Jefferson claimed that He (God, therefore Jesus) endowed us with.
Stay with me.
Locke isn't the only great thinker to think this. Thomas Hobbes believed that we're all in a constant state of conflict and competition for power and resources. Theologians might call that our state of original sin.
Abraham Maslow had his hierarchy of needs, including everything from food, clothing, and shelter (the teen equivalent of life, liberty,and property) all the way up to self-actualization.
I try to help eighth grade Civics students understand their common need for civility, reasonable classroom behavior, and Locke & Jefferson's rational of natural rights by discussing psychologist William Glasser's theory that we're all driven by five basic and genetically-driven needs; survival, love, competence, autonomy, and learning.
Before you start thinking I'm on a hopeless tangent, let me bring you back to Matthew 4 in the desert.
First, Satan challenged Him to turn stones into bread... Jesus had a right to LIFE after all. Jesus let Satan know that God's Word, nourishment for the soul is more important than mere food for the body (Deut. 8:3).
Second, Satan led Jesus up to the highest part of the temple and told Him to jump off- why not, God promised that you won't get hurt... take advantage of your LIBERTY. Jesus pointed out in resisting this temptation, that just because God promises to protect us doesn't mean we should push our luck (so to speak, see also Deut. 6:16 & Exodus 17:7).
Finally, Satan offers Jesus the world. Literally. All the power, wealth, and fame He could want (PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS/PROPERTY), if He's just forsake God the Father and bow down to Satan, acknowledge who really ran the show. To which Jesus cited Deuteronomy 6:13 "You shall Fear the Lord your God, serve him only..."
So you see, Jesus knows what we need and He knows what it's like to not only need these things, but to desire more of them than we need. Hoarding any of these things, that is ruthlessly pursuing our own "rights" at the expense of detriment of others- that is selfishness, that is greed, that is sin, THAT is tyranny!