Friday, November 21, 2014
Amen! Good preaching!
I especially like this line: “What are you willing to die for?” is not the same question as “What are you willing to kill for?”
I suspect we get the two mixed up in our violence-happy society in the U.S....
One of those areas is immigration reform. Everyone acknowledges that the system is broken. But no one can agree on the solution. I certainly don't have the answer! But I do know that as Christians we are called to stand by the stranger in our midst. To stand up for them against the oppressor (whoever that oppressor might be). We are strangers and foreigners in the land ourselves; our true citizenship is elsewhere.
Now it appears that the President has decided to take action—Congress hasn't been able to and certainly won't in the next 2 years. It's too hot a political potato to risk with a Presidential Election coming up. After all, in the wisdom of the world, getting elected is what it's all about, right?
Given the antipathy of certain large segments of the Evangelical community to the current president, this puts them in an interesting position. They claim to be concerned for the "stranger in our midst" but how can they support the actions of a person they dislike? (I could say hate, but that wouldn't be nice—although when I hear the venom in their voice when they mention his name...well, let's just say it isn't love.) Ken Schenck has a good observation and post on the whole thing today. But here's the part I think hits home the best:
[M]any American Christians can't tell the difference between being a certain kind of Republican and being Christian. Well-intentioned to be sure, many American Christians can't clearly see where their faith ends and their particular form of Republicanism begins. It's called civil religion, and it is a major problem in the American church.Of course, I would expand that observation to include a lot more than just immigration reform...
Thursday, November 20, 2014
If you wade through all the negative statements in that paragraph, you end up with a very Patristic thought: God became man that man might become God (Athanasius). Not God in the sense the Mormons mean! And not God in the sense of Nirvana—absorbed into the divine. But God in the sense of theosis (or divination as it is more commonly called in the western church). Union with Christ, sanctification, growing in grace, death to self, the exchanged life, deliverance from sin, add your favorite phrase here...they all mean the same thing. And that's what the Christian life is all about...
It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me, supporting me in so many ne- cessities, guarding me from so many grave dangers, and snatching me, as I may truly say, from evils without number. Indeed, by loving myself badly I lost myself; by seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to nothing.— Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Only one space is needed after any punctuation, whether within or at the end of a sentence.
Yes! Now I can point people to a definitive spot : )
We have to let scripture speak, even if it doesn’t fit into our theology. Our theology needs to be adjusted to scripture, not scripture to our theology...<idle musing>
If we believe we can’t turn the corner in regard to sin, then it makes it less likely we will. Moses was once a person who took matters in his own hands, but we are told that he became the most humble person on the face of earth. Some might argue that he simply grew up and matured. In part that’s surely the case. But didn’t he have to turn the corner on the sin of pride which arguably is thinking of and looking to ourselves and not thinking of and looking to God?
See. I'm not the only one crying in the wilderness! : ) </idle musing>
How are you to walk in Jesus Christ? As you received Him. How did you receive Him? By faith. Was that very difficult?
How then are you to walk in Him? By faith! Will that be any more difficult?— The Saving Life of Christ, page 136
But we make it more difficult! Do we do it because we want it to be more difficult? Or do we do it because we want a checklist? After all, if you have a list, you can see how you're doing. If you just have to respond to the Spirit—well it's easy to deceive yourself...
These are honest questions that I'm asking, not rhetorical ones. And I don't have the answer, but I suspect, if I'm honest with myself, that it is some combination of the two.
What's your take?
Now that's a pledge I can get behind! A few years ago I heard someone say that if you rejoice or cry at the results of an election, then your hope isn't in God, it's in the political results. I agree.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Suppose that God were to die tonight! Would it really make any difference to the way you live your Christian life tomorrow? For all you really count upon Him as you go about your daily business, or even do your Christian work, would you notice any difference? Would it make the slightest difference next Sunday in the services in your place of worship, if God were to die tonight? Or would it be business as usual? Would anybody know if nobody told them? Or would the whole machine grind on, with the people in the pew, the parson in the pulpit, and the special offering for the building fund! Nobody ever told them that God was dead!
If we dare to face the hard, cold-blooded truth, we would have to admit today that there is so little in the life of our churches, so little in the activity of so many of our missionary societies and Christian organizations that cannot be explained in terms of man’s ability and promotional activity, that few would cease to function if God were dead.— The Saving Life of Christ, pages 133-134
Well? Do we really believe that "our life is hidden with Christ in God?" Do we really believe that "in him we live and move and have our being?"
In fact there is much in the Protestant ministry world which is a carbon copy of the capitalist corporation. For some the adoption of a commercial, corporate organizational form is simply contextualizing to our capitalist culture. But I wonder if the Protestant church and mission world has crossed a line from contextualization to syncretism...Indeed. There seems to be precious little space for the Holy Spirit in our daily lives; we've got it too together—or so we claim and so we think...I suspect the only person we're really fooling is ourselves (and none too effectively at that!).
...The fact that we use either the “for-profit” or “non-profit” designation for nearly all organizations tells you something about the centrality of the commercial, profit-centered business in defining nearly all human organizations. Organizations are labeled by their relationship to profit. We generally would not think of describing non-profits as human flourishing agencies and for-profits as non-human-flourishing organizations...
...The corporate blueprint has pushed us toward treating the gospel as a product, turning our ministries into businesses and people into consumers.
But the alternative is, well honestly, just too scary! Let go? Are you kidding! God might require me to actually let Him control my life! I can't have that! (Never mind that I've managed to do a good job of really screwing it up by myself!)
But the Holy Spirit stands there, patiently wooing me home...
Amen! He sums up my politics perfectly...
Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They, indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the Spirit. They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they cannot inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare the sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their meaning. They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them. They point out the way; You give strength for the journey. They work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They water on the outside; You give the increase.
They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.
Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my God, everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest the word heard and not kept, known and not loved, believed and not obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.—Thomas à Kempis
Monday, November 17, 2014
Maybe because they don't really believe it's possible to live a holy life? I don't know, but I do know that it is a common problem...
Yep. Ain't it the truth! As Christians, our first allegiance is to Christ and the kingdom of God. But far too often, we get the kingdom of God confused with the kingdom of this world—especially Americans!
Well, the EPA has been testing them recently, and here's what they've found:
Last Thursday, EPA released preliminary findings on neonic-coated soybeans — a small part of the agency’s broader review of neonicotinoids. EPA’s headline finding? Neonicotinoid seed treatments “provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations.”<idle musing>
We know neonics are harmful to bees and other pollinators; a growing body of science has been pointing to these pesticides as a key factor in dramatically declining populations for years. But pesticide makers like Bayer and Syngenta have continued to claim that neonicotinoid products are essential for farmers' success.
This isn't the case, as EPA's recent findings highlight. Prophylactic uses of neonicotinoid seed treatments — that is, using neonicotinoids preventatively, before pest problems arise — don't actually increase farmer yields. As the agency's report says:
Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment.
In other words, save your money folks; neonicotinoid seed treatments help soybean yields about as much as… applying no insecticides at all.
But will the seed kings stop using it? Not likely! There's money in them there things!
So we continue to destroy our environment because the rich want to get richer...which reminds me: with the Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate, when will they introduce their long-promised anti-abortion legislation? Exactly! Never. It's just a sop to seduce the Evangelicals to vote for them...
Wake up people! There are more issues in the Bible than abortion! Yes, I'm against abortion. But I'm also against exploitation of the poor and the immigrants because God cares for all people. Lest you think I'm picking on the Right, I'm also against the drone war in the Middle East. White House, are you listening? Stop the killing! You're just creating another generation of terrorists!
As Christians, we need to be pro-life—from conception to the grave—and not just American lives, either!
OK, I'm done...flame me if you will. Maybe I've been reading too much of Jeremiah...but sometimes you have to scream to be heard.
Friday, November 14, 2014
[S]ociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.<idle musing>
For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support, are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews...
The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Maybe because that's not how God designed the church to function. Ever think of that? Maybe the New Testament model of "one another"—including teaching/sermonizing!!—is the correct model. Maybe simple, organic church, with multiplicity of eldership, involvement in each others lives on more than a superficial, Sunday morning, stare at the head in front of you level really is a better idea. Maybe. But I'm afraid it won't happen until the present top-heavy megachurch franchises collapse...
By the way, do read the entire article; it's very short.
Unfortunately, I know many people in that boat...Open their eyes, Lord, that they may see the fullness of what salvation means!
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Again, I have problems with his exegesis, but the point is still valid. We become complacent with sin, thinking that it will always rule in our lives. But scripture says the opposite! The Holy Spirit is more powerful than sin—but I doubt that any of us really believes that!
And, secret confession, we all love our own personal sin too much to really want to give it up. So, rather than be honest with ourselves, we change our theology to justify hanging on to it...
Only the Holy Spirit can make us come to see sin as the debilitating disease that it really is. Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes and give us the desire to jettison what is really hurtful to us.