Stumbling Through Life

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Please, God – Don’t strike me with lightning! I’m just trying to figure this world out. Sometimes I think and say things that are stupid. But sometimes, too, You tell me things that are so meaningful that I simply have to write them down. This blog is nothing more than a diary of some of these thoughts.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Halloween has deep roots in many pagan traditions. An example is the jack-o-lantern. It was first developed to ward off evil spirits. Samhain was originally a harvest festival, marking the time when days were getting shorter. But people have a tendency to attach superstition where they can, and it became known as a "festival of the dead." Christians tried to take it back by marking "All Saints Day" (November 1st) and "All Saints -or Hallows- Eve" (October 31st). That became our Hallowe'en.
Nowadays, the worst thing about Halloween is the frightening and gory images, exacerbated by movies and modern culture. I prefer the concept of children, dressed as princesses and pirates, asking for candy at people's doors.

Halloween is mostly a dress-up day, but it's also celebrated by neopagans, wiccans and satanists. If you don't feel comfortable celebrating what is for others an "unholy day," don't do it.
But remember also that God is in charge. If you're a Christian, you have nothing to be afraid of on Halloween or any other day.
O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 2 Chronicles 20:6

Peace, love & free candy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I’ve been told – by a Christian – that I’m not a Christian because I believe in evolution. I’ve been told – by an Atheist – that I’m not a Christian because I believe our earth is in danger and is worth taking care of.

Hmmm… It’s good that they’re not my judges.

I think I am a Christian, because I love Christ – God incarnate – and I try to emulate Him. (I'm far from perfect, I admit it.) I bet He thinks I’m a Christian too.

Peace, love & go green.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Christian = Love. Right?

I’m interested in causes that seem (to me) to be “loving.” One such issue is healthcare reform. It pains me no end that Christians seem to be anti-love. Why are some Christians more concerned with keeping their money from “freeloaders” than in taking care of those in need? Christians should be at the forefront of these causes!
I can find many, many verses that tell us to be generous with our money.
Luke 12:33: Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Matthew 19:21: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Especially, read Matthew 25:31-46 and try to interpret it another way.
I’ve experienced first-hand what it’s like to have inadequate healthcare. When I was a college student, I had no insurance at all. Don’t tell me I was a freeloader. I was living on my own, I was a student, and I had two part-time jobs. Now I have decent healthcare, and I am not so prideful to think I’m any better than those who don’t. Everyone deserves decent healthcare.

(If only this were the only issue in which Christians seem to be so selfish.)

Am I a minority of one? If it’s just the “Christian Right” making us appear this way, and if they’re a minority, then Christians left and center should speak up loudly enough to drown them out. The word “Christian” should be synonymous with love, caring and generosity. Instead, we appear to the world as stingy, selfish, prideful, hypocritical money-grubbers.

Pecae, love & grace.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Parable of the Good (Fill in the Blank)

You’ve probably heard the parable of the good Samaritan. It was a story, told by Jesus, about a man who was beaten and left to die on the side of the road.

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn in Jericho and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

In our society, this parable has lost its meaning because Samaritan has actually come to mean “good person.” To those listening to the tale at Jesus' feet, they were religious rivals, not unlike Muslims, Jews, and Christians. They weren’t just rivals, they were despised.
To give the parable a modern twist, let’s try filling in the blank. What group of people do you hate the most? Okay, you don’t hate anyone. Who do you dislike a little? Who makes you afraid, angry, or a little miffed? Who wouldn’t you like to meet in a dark alley? Who would you most hate to be stuck with on a desert island? A black person? A white person? A democrat or republican? Maybe a homosexual, or a fundamentalist. A Yankees fan? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Now fill in the blank.
What if you were the one who had been robbed and beaten? You’re lying on the side of the road, too weak to move. Someone walks by. It’s someone you really admire. A great republican or democrat leader, someone who has said great words. A high authority in your church, known for his or her great sermons about compassion. But… they cross to the other side, whistling and pretending they don't see you.

The next person is (someone from a culture or religion you dislike.) He’s touching you. You imagine that he hasn’t washed in a week. This person is helping you, when you are utterly vulnerable.

Can you picture this person cleaning your wounds, putting you in his car, and spending his hard-earned money on you?

This is your neighbor. This is the person Jesus wants you to love.

Peace, love & more love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are YOU a Cafeteria Christian?

Definition of a cafeteria Christian: One who picks and chooses from the bible, accepting what they want to believe and rejecting what they don't want to believe.

I am a cherry-picking cafeteria Christian. I believe we all are, whether we think we are or not.
1 Timothy 2:9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes…

No gold? No braids? As soon as you say “well, what it really means is…” you are “cherry picking.” Married women, are you wearing a gold wedding ring? You’re “cherry picking.” Have you ever braided your hair? You’re “cherry picking.” Now, you may know that in the time that Paul wrote this, prostitutes braided their hair. Suddenly, the meaning of the verse becomes clear. I follow the meaning; Women, dress modestly. Don’t show off. Don’t dress like a slut!
That’s an easy one, but there are many more verses that I just can’t swallow. Most are stories from the old testament. The first one, for me, was the story of Samson. (Judges 13 and on) He was incredibly strong, until Delilah cut his hair off. This sounds like a story to me. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like the Greek story of Achilles, whose weakness was in his heel. The only way I could continue believing in God was to give up believing in Samson!
So why can’t the story of creation be just that; a story? Or a poem? The story of creation is beautiful, and the story of Adam and Eve is very meaningful. (In fact, it’s somewhat problematic that the order is mixed up. Which came first. People? Animals? The garden? Does it matter?)
In fact... If you focus on the literal story of Adam and Eve, you might just miss the meaning altogether. They took the apple from the tree of KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL! Hmm... could that be applied to my life? What about pride? Does the bible say anything else about pride? In fact, could God be warning us against the dangers of pride? (I'm just sayin'.)
In this light, the story of Adam and Eve is very important.

That being said, I strongly believe in the central message of the bible: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I think one can go too far, as Thomas Jefferson did, and ignore or even cut out parts that one simply doesn't like. (Look up the Jefferson Bible) There are also many parts of the bible that I don't LIKE, but I believe in. (Hell, for instance.)
But that would be another blog.

Peace, love & tolerence.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Problem with Giving

The problem is that it’s never enough. The more you give, the more people ask for. It doesn’t go away. Does it even make a difference?
Sometimes the question “What do I do to help?” seems utterly overwhelming. You can put money in the basket, donate to charities, volunteer locally, go on a mission trip… but it’s never enough, and you know it. Poor children still don’t have enough to eat, people still die in disasters, the earth is still covered in trash. Charities keep asking for “more, more, more.”
Just do what you can. Pick a cause that’s dear to your heart and give what you can in time and money. Spend time with a lonely person, listening. Don’t try to fix it all – you can’t.
You’re not rich? Me either! Well, wait. By the standards of the world I might be. Let’s see… I have a house… lots of nice clothes… I eat good food every day and I have clean water… I have this computer… Okay, so I am rich. I guess I can spare a little.

Mark 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Peace, love & hope.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm right! I KNOW I'm right! Why doesn't everybody just agree with me?

No one's perfect. No one person has the perfect theology. You can’t understand God. Just saying you do implies that you think you’re equal to Him. (Read the book of Job.) So we’re all partly wrong; Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Baptists, (insert your church here)… Wrong. Does that mean there’s no God? No, because God Himself knows we’re imperfect. That’s what grace is for! If we’re all wrong, and if God forgives, than who does He forgive? Those whose theology is the closest to correct? That doesn’t make sense to me. (Just the thought brings up the idea of the apostles arguing between themselves: Mark 9:34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Pride!)

I think God forgives those who are truly seeking Him. Who is seeking Him? I can guess… not those who have made up their minds. (Stiff necked - Exodus 32:9) Anyone who says, “I’m right. You’re wrong. End of story,” is no longer seeking.

Here’s an idea, though it’s not a new one. Relax. You don’t have to have all the answers. God is in charge. Trust Him.
Keep an open mind. Keep learning. Listen to, and respect, those whose opinion is different from yours. If your faith is strong, you won’t be magically “sucked in” to other religions and cults.

Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway. ~Mary C. Crowley

Peace, love, & grace.