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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

God: Sort of Like Santa, but Not as Jolly

We expect a lot from God. We expect Him to give us riches, heal us from our illnesses, and keep us safe from car accidents. That's good, and we should pray and have faith in Him. He hears us, and sometimes we get the answers we want.
We read an awful lot into verses like this:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
See, we put our own spin on it, and it’s not a good spin. What does the bible mean by “all these things”? If you read it all, it turns out it’s not stuff He wants you to have. It’s joy in the midst of suffering. Oh, and by the way, He doesn’t promise “no suffering,” either. Not in this world!
Santa? He promises toys and gadgets, and peace on earth, and chestnuts roasting, and more toys, and more gadgets.

So, what's wrong with Santa? We start making our wishlists -- you know, the things we gotta have -- and we forget to trust God for the simple things; food on the table, people we love... our daily bread.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:24
That’s a warning against gathering up too much stuff. It doesn’t say it’s impossible, but it’s not easy. God won’t strike you with lightning for being rich, but it will be hard, because your focus is on your stuff. Enjoy your Christmas, and remember that it's God who loves you and watches over you -- not Santa.

Peace, Love, and Ho Ho Ho

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent - More Than a Time to Shop

Today is the first day of advent. From the Latin word adventus meaning "coming," it's a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

I hope we can all come a little closer to the real meaning of Christmas. Decorations, carols, candy and trees are all fine, but not if they take over completely; and definitely not if Christmas becomes the season of stress and debt! Maybe we can spend a little less $$$ on shiny things and toys, and think about our loved ones in a new light. In addition to buying lots of things for people who already have things, let's share time with and for them. Then we can share some of God's bounty with people who are really in need.

I've linked to one organization, Advent Conspiracy, that promotes a new and different way to celebrate:

Peace, Love, Sharing

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Lamp to my Feet

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Have you ever gone for a walk on a very dark night? Be careful when you do; you might stub your toe. You could fall and hurt yourself. And if you don't have a light, you will end up going well out of your way.

Life is dark. Lots of the time it's hard to know where we're going. There are many distractions to lead us out of our way; money, people, disappointments. I'll be honest. For me, it's hard even to walk in a straight line! My life is a full of zig-zags and backtracks, off and on God's road. Sometimes I can't see which way to go, and I've been a Christian for a long time!

What gets me off-track? Doubt, (usually caused when I listen to politically charged Christians with whom I disagree.) Money, (or rather, lack of it.) My own desires (I can get pretty distracted.) In other words, I'm not looking at Jesus; I'm looking at the world.

We expect God to be a floodlight. And because He’s not, we're disappointed in Him, or we assume that He simply doesn't exist. But He is a light to our feet… we can see just far enough to step forward without tripping, and no more. That's all He's offered us, so wishing for more, (or worse - pretending), doesn't help.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. Matthew 7:13

So where is this gate? There's even a lot of argument among Christians about exactly where that road is! Do I need to be baptized? Do I need to follow the Latin mass? Personally, I believe that all I need to do is to love Jesus and to keep trudging along. I believe that the path is pretty easy to see... if I'm looking at Jesus.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

I think God gives us each a flashlight. We can see, but only a few steps ahead. If we keep our light aimed at Jesus - not at the world - we'll make it.
The question is – do you have your flashlight? Does it have fresh batteries? Is it pointed in the right direction? (Here's a hint - spend time reading the Bible, and pray. Prayer includes listening.)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

If you do this, you'll be fine.
Peace, Love, Light

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Jesus Broke the Law

Jesus purposely broke the laws of his day. (By laws, I mean religious statutes.) Why?

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Matthew 12 1-13

Why did He do this?
First, He was showing us that He's God. As God, He could do as he pleased. This drove the Pharisees crazy!
I also think he meant to show us that we have a bad habit of making the LAWS more important than the PEOPLE they’re meant for. He didn't break laws haphazardly or selfishly. He always did something good. He fed and healed, and saved. Isn't that MORE IMPORTANT than the laws themselves?
Are the laws still important? Some are, I think. Some don't fit our society, and some are just plain unnecessary.

Take leprosy, for instance. (Leviticus 13:4) Nowadays it’s called Hansen’s disease, it’s treatable, and - to my knowledge - no one follows the biblical statutes of keeping people with leprosy separated from the general population. To me, some laws were clearly meant for the time they were written.

Or how about this favorite? Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. Leviticus 19:27 I just don't get it. I know there are Orthodox Jews who abide by this law, but I don't see the point of it, and I've never attempted to learn more.

So, are Biblical laws aplicable to us? I believe some are. The ten commandments still make great sense to me, and the "Golden rule" (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) pretty much sums everything else up neatly. "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Hmmm... If we just attempted to follow this rule more closely, maybe the others would fall into place.
Maybe sometimes it’s left to us to decide. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us now. Maybe, as with Jesus, we're capable of knowing when a law is fitting and when it's best to break it for the greater good. Not alone, of course, but with God's guidance. We need to spend time in prayer and we need to gain wisdom through studying the Bible.

Peace, Love, and Wisdom

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Yes, but..."

These words are right from Jesus' mouth. He was talking to a large group of people "who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases."

Luke 6:27 "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Ouch! This is extreme! Do you do everything Jesus asks of you? (I know I don't!) How does this fit in with your life? Your philosophy? Your political views?

Once I was approached by a homeless lady who admired my coat. When I smiled and walked away, she got huffy. Did Jesus want me to give it to her? I may never know.

As for turning the other cheek... Yeah, right. like that's gonna happen.

So why did he say it? Apparently he wants us to willingly give more than what's asked of us. Did he really mean it? If you read this and you even think "Yes, but..." maybe you're doin' it wrong.

Peace, Love, Give

Friday, October 22, 2010

Simple Christianity

Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

How simple is that? Believe in premilleniallism or postmillenialism, young-earth Creationism or Theistic evolution, transubstantiation or consubstantiation, but remember to carry each other's burdens. That's what Christianity should be about.

Peace, Love, Simplicity

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pharisaical: A definition

A.Word.A.Day with thanks to Anu Garg


PRONUNCIATION: (far-uh-SAY-uh-kuhl)

MEANING: adjective: Characterized by hypocritical self-righteousness; putting emphasis on strict observance of rituals unrelated to the spirit or meaning of the ceremony.

ETYMOLOGY: After the Pharisees, a Jewish sect during 1 BCE - 1 CE, whose members were noted for strict observance of rites and rituals, and felt superior because of it. The word is derived via Latin and Greek from Aramaic prishayya, plural of prish (separated).

The Pharisees made Jesus more angry than any other sinners; more than tax collectors, more than adulterers, more than "real" criminals.
Why? They followed Him around, trying to catch Him in a lie, trying to catch Him sinning. When He acted with compassion toward the blind, the crippled and the sick, they took him to task for doing it on the Sabbath... the wrong day of the week. (Mark 2)
Who were they? They were the "good guys," the "white hats." They did everything right. They were the religious leaders of the day.

Do you know any Pharisees? Anyone who declares loudly that their way is right, and maybe even that anyone who disagrees is going to hell? It's tempting to believe them; their answers seem simple, and they seem so sure of themselves: "Just do all the right things, exactly the right way, and you'll get into heaven; just like me." Whoops! What happened to "for all have sinned..."? (Romans 3:23) What happened to GRACE? (Romans 11:16)

Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Matthew 23:24

Don't follow the Pharisees. Follow Jesus.

Peace, Love, Discernment

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Wacky Christian Races

Nowadays, some Christians spend a lot of effort criticizing others' beliefs. I thought I'd help out to make it easier. Here's a handy list to use when you meet other Christians, so you'll know if they're really Christians:

  • Do you believe all the right things?

  • Do you believe the Bible is literal/inerrant/infallible?

  • Do you read only from the correct translation of the Bible?

  • Do you believe in creationism?

  • Do you vote correctly?

  • Are you rich/poor enough to qualify?

  • Are you born again, and can you recite your conversion story?

  • Do you believe America is a Christian country, and that all our our founding fathers were Christians?

  • Do you believe in the American constitution?

  • Do you fully understand and agree with the entire Bible?

  • Do you always obey the entire Bible?

  • Are you always happy?

  • Do you never feel doubt?

  • Most important: Do you believe just as I do?

Hey, wait... Is that my job as a Christian? To decide if you are good enough? Is it your job to make certain I make the cut? Maybe we should have trials to find out if those around us pass muster. Maybe we should hold them under water to find out if they float. Then we'll really know if our neighbors are good enough for us. (Hey Christians: This isn't like those old "Wacky Races" cartoons. You will not earn points with God by knocking other Christians out of the race, flattening their tires, or injuring them.)

I noticed one thing about the above list, and it is taken from conversations I've seen online by Christians; it's mostly about believing the right way, but not about action; not about helping the widows and the orphans, for instance. "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." James 1:27

The Bible has something to say about this attitude:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:3-5

Oh, and one other thing... "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone..." John 8:7

P.S. In case it isn't obvious, the above list is completely tongue-in-cheek. I believe every person, Christian or not, is on a journey, and it isn't my place to judge them. It's only my place to share the Good News. (Romans 3:23-24)

Peace, Love, Acceptance

Friday, October 1, 2010

Obama and Grace

When asked why he’s a Christian, (has another president undergone this kind of questioning to “prove” his faith?) Obama said only one thing I disagree with: “...we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and that their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own. And that's part of what makes this country what it is.”

Article: Obama 'Christian by choice'

While I disagree with his statement “path to grace,” I agree that we must respect all people even those of different religions, or no religion. That’s what makes us Americans; not insisting they agree with us.

As for “paths to grace,” the closest I believe is that God doesn’t send good people to hell. Rather, I believe “good” non-Christians don’t know Him YET. If people are striving to do the right thing as they see it, they will meet Him face-to-face, they will recognize Him, and they will run into His arms. I can’t believe anything different; “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Do I believe there are other “paths to grace?” No. Being a good person doesn’t get you in. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 But He does accept people at any point in their lives, even at the very end. That’s why the robber on the cross saw Jesus in paradise. That’s why the Prodigal son got a feast when he came home. That’s why I know that, no matter how much I mess up, I know in my heart that Jesus loves me. He’s not looking the other way – He knows I’m trying, and he knows I fail. (Not cheap grace – “I’ve just live for myself and change at the last second.” Pfff. God is smarter than that.)

Grace is the coolest thing about Christianity! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 I couldn't work my way to heaven, or to paradise or nirvana or anywhere else. I'm just too flawed.

As an American, I respect all people of all faiths.
As a Christian, I invite you to meet Jesus.

One more thing: Barack Obama is my president right now. I respect him. If he says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.

Peace, Love, Grace

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is America a Christian Country?

Some Christians like to think so. I’m not sure why. Maybe they’ve gotten us mixed up with Israel from the Old Testament. Maybe they feel more comfortable thinking everyone around them feels the same way they do. Maybe they’re afraid. I’m not sure.
What I do know is, AMERICA is NOT a CHRISTIAN COUNTRY! (Ooh! Blasphemy!) Some of our founding fathers were Christian, and some were not. Jesus isn’t mentioned in our beloved documents. (The Constitution prevents the Federal government from making a "law respecting an establishment of religion", and guarantees the free exercise of religion. How is that Christian?) If 76% of Americans are Christians, what about the rest? Are they not Americans?
Is America a great country? You bet! One of the best. I’m happy and proud to live here.
I’m not wrapped in a flag. I’m at the foot of the cross. I’m a Christian first, and an American second. That means I respect strangers and friends who worship Allah, who worship other gods, and who don’t worship at all. I don’t assume they’re evil, I don’t assume they’re un-American, and I don’t pretend they don’t exist, either. I do know God loves them as much as He loves me. He said so.

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
'The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

There’s the other side of this; of course. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 But that’s God’s job, not mine. My job is to tell people the Good News. What's the Good News? "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24

In the wake of 9-1-1, we’ve become more xenophobic than ever, and we’ve made some pretty huge mental leaps; like, for instance, all Muslims are terrorists. (That’s like saying all Christians bomb abortion clinics.)
But if God wants them to know Him, than so should we. I dare you to make friends with an American of another faith. Don’t preach, don’t condemn, and don’t assume they’re going to hell. Don’t assume you’re superior, either. God loves both of you. Just let Jesus shine through you. He’ll do the rest.

Peace, Love, Coexist

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11; a New American Holiday

Nine years have passed. So what do we do with this new holiday? We look back, of course; “Never forget.” We mustn’t forget those who died in this tragedy, and we must be sensitive to their families and loved ones. I remember where I was when I heard. I was stunned for a whole week after; I went through my days as if I were in a fog. And I didn’t even personally know anyone who was killed.

It’s a patriotic holiday, of course. The World Trade Center and the Pentagon signify what America stands for – freedom, strength, democracy, and capitalism. America was attacked! The extremists who orchestrated this made it clear that they feel American values are wrong.
As an American, I believe September 11th is a day to be grateful for where I live, who I am and what I believe in.

To some it’s also a religious holiday of sorts. The people inside those buildings and airplanes were mostly Christians, and those who murdered them were Muslims. To some, opening a Muslin center and mosque is nothing less than a slap in the face. I don't know if it's a good idea, but only because it might be a target for more hatred. Time will tell what happens if it's built. I do disagree vehemently with those who think the attack was orchestrated by anything other than extremists.
As a Christian, I believe September 11th is a day to pray to the God I believe in, and respect those who don’t.

I hope September 11th will become a day in which we attempt to open lines of communication with people who are different from ourselves. Extremists on both sides of the issue will continue to yell and burn things. The rest of us should talk together and try to bring peace to our hurting world.

As a human being, I want September 11th to be a day of hope.

Peace, Love and Hope

Thursday, September 2, 2010

“Before” and “After”

When I was a kid, we had an addition built onto our house. And oh, what an addition: “Before” was a tiny, older, two-room, one-bath bungalow; “After” was a brand-new sprawling six-room mansion. It had stairs, a new kitchen, a dining room, a garage, and most important, I even got my OWN ROOM!

I’ll tell you one thing; a remodeling project isn’t easy and it isn’t instantaneous. While it went on, there was rarely any peace. It was noisy, we had sawdust through the whole house, my parents were grouchy, and there were people I didn’t know banging hammers, running saws and slopping paint all over the place. Plus chickens and dogs (we lived in the country) kept coming in through the gigantic hole in our living room wall, in spite of the tarp draped over it.

“After” wasn’t perfect either; we didn’t have curtains in the windows and the wiring had problems. My parents still had to paint the walls, move the furniture and put up pictures. The stairs, which at first had seemed so exciting, got to be a pain. The "new" house needed to be kept up; things wore out and broke down just like before. Worst of all, my brother still came into my room and made faces at me.

But I’ll tell you what; it was worth the trouble.

Getting to know Jesus is worth the trouble too. But don’t expect to be perfect; not at the beginning of the “project,” and not even at the end. Not everyone has a dramatic conversion like Paul on the road to Damascus, and I’ll bet even he was a work-in-progress for some time.

The Bible tells us to be perfect, (Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48) and I’m trying. But I know “perfection” is a distant goal. (...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... Romans 3:23) I’ll be as close to perfect as I can, knowing that, well, I can’t be perfect.

If you’re an “After,” go easy on yourself for being less than perfect. Go easy on "befores," too. You’re not better than they are; you’re in a different part of your renovation. If you’re a “Before,” I welcome you to try God. He loves you as you are AND He wants you to be better.

Everyone was a “Before” once.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Peace, Love and Happy Renovation

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Wordle: Dream Just for fun:
I've been enjoying this website. I've picked words to encourage myself and my family. (We're all starting school, and we can use lots of encouragement.) I'm going to print it out and post it where we can see it.
Peace, love and relax.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Imagine No Religion

Yesterday I was listening to “Imagine” by John Lennon. I love that song. But then I thought; What kind of bass-ack-wards religion has Christianity become, that lines like this were even written?

“Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky”

To me, this isn't a good thing. After all, as a Christian, I love the idea of heaven. If it weren’t for that line, this would be my favorite song. And I like the "no religion" part just fine, because religion makes us do stupid things. Even Jesus said so. (Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Matthew 23:13)
But the line is there, like it or not, and it keeps bothering me.

Instead of being seen as the people of peace and love, Christians (and other monotheistic religions) are seen as people of hatred and judgment. Yes, the Bible talks about judgment; but God’s judgment, not ours. (Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1) Leave the judgment up to God. He knows what He’s doing.

Try this on for size:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Hey, Christians, here’s an idea: Let’s be the dreamers. Let’s be people of grace. Let’s lovingly invite people to join us... so the world will live as one.

Peace, love, dreams

Friday, June 11, 2010

I think I Found My “Conversion Story”

Do you know what a "Conversion Story" is? It's when a Christian tells about the moment when he or she became "born again." A good one involves sex and drugs, and a startling change. There's a definite before (no Jesus) and after (know Jesus.) The problem for some of us (especially those who grew up in more-or-less Christian homes) is that we don't have a born-again moment.
I went to Church as a child. I remember asking Jesus into my heart in second grade, in Sunday school. *yawn.* It's not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that there's no shocking before-and-after-WOW-look-what-Jesus-did-for-me. In fact, I went on to do some pretty stupid things in my teens and twenties. Before my conversion, the worst thing I did was refuse to clean my room.
I realized something when I was praying this morning. Really, it’s something I’ve known all along, but it becomes clear to me when I’m open to it.
I think I’m beginning to understand what it means to be born again. It doesn't have to be accompanied by a blinding light (Acts 9:3-19). For me, it's been a long, slow road. I’ve held back all these years, out of fear. And I’ve known it. I’m afraid – right or wrong – that giving my all to God means having to do things that I don’t feel able to do. I’ve played the part of victim; poor me. I had a hard childhood. I should be exempt from the responsibilities of “normal” people. I know other people who play the pity game. They’d rather be pitied than admired or loved. It feels comfortable. It’s what I know; stay under the radar.
I read in the Bible about martyrs, and I don’t think a Christian in our country can even come close to being a real martyr. But for me, the idea of, say, standing in front of people and speaking is martyrdom enough.
Life is a journey; Christianity is a journey too. It’s not easy, but God didn’t say it would be easy.
I know I’m on my way to heaven no matter what I do. But I’ve always wanted the fruits of the spirit, too.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

This is a promise from God! But I haven't always felt peace or joy. Have I been gypped, or am I doing something wrong? I'm starting to realize that I haven't accepted the fruits of the Spirit.

So this is me, in the middle of my conversion:
I've been a Christian since I was little. I fell away, drank, tried drugs, and lived for myself.
I came back.
Life got complicated and I forgot to spend time with the Lord. I started skipping out on church.
I came back.
I looked at the state of the world, doubted and fell away. I considered other religions.
I came back.
I looked back on my life so far, and decided that I can't go halfway. God doesn't hand us the fruits of the Spirit on a platter. We've got to go after them, and that's what I want to do. I'm renewing my faith and trying again.
I'm back.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Maybe We’re Not Supposed to Understand God

This may not go over well. After all, we as a people take pride in our ability to understand everything; the big bang, Einstein's theories of relativity, psychology, philosophy, apologetics... well, okay, we don't really understand it all. But we're pretty close, right? We know how the universe began; we've got a cure for cancer... okay... we're not even close.

It's important to be Smart. That's why Creationism is just as much of a science as evolution is, with scientific explanations for everything from the earth's age (around 6000 years) to how Adam was made from dust (and Eve from a rib), to why it appears that dinosaurs walked the earth before the earth was even made. Because, if Christians don't understand science or if, (gasp) our Bible doesn't explain everything in detail, we'll seem stupid; and that's not good.
But... when I read the Bible, it seems as though I'm not supposed to know everything. In fact, wasn't the tree that Adam and Eve ate from called "the tree of knowledge of good and evil?" Wasn't it bad for them to eat from that tree? Is God trying to say something in this story, besides laying out our genealogy?
Maybe the message is closer to "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
And "... But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 1 Corinthians 1:9

Science can (mostly) be explained; God can't. Maybe it's time to stop trying to bend our tiny little minds around his great one. He knows things that we can't--and aren't supposed to--fathom!
Personally, I think evolution was God's way of creating us. It fits in with the order, but not the time frame, laid out in Genesis. But I could be wrong. Lord, forgive me if I’m wrong. I just don't think it matters that much.

Here are some actual theological discussions; some from the past, some still going on. How important are they?

Does the earth revolve around the sun?
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? (This was probably never actually discussed. It was an insult to nit-picky theologians.)
How many animals were on Noah's ark? How did the dinosaurs fit?
Were dinosaur bones put in the ground by God to confuse us?
Did Adam have a belly button?
Can God make a rock so big that He can't move it?

I have some better questions; how can I help the people in my community to know and love God? How can I help people in my family, my neighborhood, and the world? How can I really understand the meaning of love, since that's the center of Christianity?

As a Christian, I'm so glad I don't have to come up with an answer to any of those first questions. I know God loves me anyway.
Some (like the sun revolving around the earth) are now seen not as literal interpretations of the Bible, but metaphor.
At the time, the Christian scientific view of geocentrism was based on:
"the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved." Chronicles 16:30 KJB
"[the Lord] Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever." Psalm 104:5
"The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." Ecclesiastes 1:5

This isn't exactly science. Could these verses be talking about something else? In fact, when the "science" is taken out, the verses and stories are much richer and more meaningful.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! - Romans 11:33

Saturday, May 15, 2010

If I Were God, I'd Do It Differently

“God cares for you” doesn't mean he takes your problems away.

Remember kindergarten? Have you wished you could go back? You could spend your whole day painting, and playing at recess... and learning your ABC's... and learning to color in the lines... and... how soon would that get really boring?
Life is like that. We wish it would be easier, but when there’s a lull in the excitement, we wish there was something to do.

These are facts of life:

These are also facts of life:
ice cream


Sometimes we can change things, sometimes we can’t. That’s just the way it is.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5

As Christians, we have hope for a better future. I think this life will seem like nothing in comparison.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Yes, If I was God, I'd do it differently. Life would be one good day after another; no wars, no unhappiness; We could ice cream all day long and never get fat. But I'm not God, and I have to be content with this:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Peace, Love, Serenity

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Should Christians Care for the Earth?

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:7-10

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.."
Psalm 19:1

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." 1 Corinthians 10:26

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." Revelation 4:11

Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Have you Thrown Any Stones Lately?

You may have heard that Jennifer Knapp, a Christian singer, just “came out” as a lesbian.
Is homosexuality a sin? I think you’ve heard enough on the subject, and maybe you’ve already decided. I’ve heard many opinions, and I’m not going to give mine here, for one reason; it doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what God thinks, but last time I checked, I’m not God.
Are homosexuals going to hell? Even unrepentant ones? Not necessarily. All homosexuals are sinners; so are all heterosexuals! Personally, I think greed is a big sin, and I know Christians who are UNREPENTANT money-grubbers. I think killing the earth is a BIG sin, and I know Christians who are UNREPENTANTLY anti-green. I don’t think they’re necessarily going to hell, either. And I think HATE is a BIG sin...

God wants us to love and forgive. Forgiveness and love are mentioned in the Bible far more times than homosexuality. So hating gays is a bigger sin than being gay!

And here’s the kicker; failing to forgive is a HUGE sin! If you’re going to sin, I’d recommend doing something different.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37

Put down your stone. Forgive.

Do people need to be repentant for us to forgive them? Read John 8 for yourself. The woman “caught in adultery” wasn’t repentant at the start of the story:
John 8:2-22
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

But back to Jennifer. I know one thing for sure. I’m not qualified to judge her. She has (IMO) a great singing voice and great lyrics. I am just as much a sinner as she is; Period. I hope she doesn’t leave the Christian faith because of this. I hope and pray that she repents of her sins, whatever they are. I hope she keeps writing beautiful songs, too.

Undo Me
Papa, I think I messed up again
Was it something I did?
Was it something I said?
I don't mean to do you wrong
It's just the way of human nature!

Sister, I know I let you down
I can tell by the fact
You never come around
You don't have to say a thing
I can tell by your eyes
Exactly what you mean
That it's time
To get down on my knees and pray
"Lord, undo me!"
Put away my flesh and bone
'Til You own this spirit through me Lord,
Undo me.

Mama, I know I made you cry
But I never meant to hurt you
I never meant to lie
While the world shook its head in shame
I let you take the blame
Brother, I know you labored
So hard to please
But I cut you down
And I left you on your knees
Well I know it must be
Time to get down on my knees and pray
"Lord, undo me!"
Put away my flesh and bone
'Til You own this spirit through me Lord
I am wanting, needing, guilty and greedy
Unrighteous, unholy; undo me. Undo me!

Abba Father You must wonder why
More times than Peter I have denied.
Three nails and a cross to prove
I owe my life eternally to you!
And it's time
To get down on my knees and pray
"Lord, undo me!"
Put away my flesh and bone
'Til You own this spirit through me Lord,
Undo me

I can relate to this.

Peace, Love, Forgive

Monday, April 12, 2010

Let Go of the Wheel

There's an old bumper sticker saying "God is My Copilot." It always struck me as sort of backwards. Shouldn't God be in control? Shouldn't I be in the passenger seat? After all, He's the one with a plan for my life, right? I'm just praying and following his lead.
Well that's not exactly true. Too often, when faced with a choice, I say a quick prayer, then I do or say what I was going to do or say anyway. I've got both hands firmly on the wheel, I'm looking straight ahead and I'm not gonna change course for anyone; even God. (I say this I because I want to admit it. If I didn't I'd be a hypocrite, and we don't want any hypocrites in church!) The truth is I think my course is the right one and the other courses are--well--wrong. It's human nature.

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

My life is a constant battle to turn myself over to God; words AND actions. That’s how I can best honor Him, and that’s how I can best allow others to see Him through me. How do I do this? Well, usually, I pray, pray and pray some more. When I open my bible, I pray. When somebody asks me my opinion... or gives me theirs... I pray. When I say pray, I mean I talk to God, then I listen. (Not for voices in my head!) I honestly try to weigh both sides of every argument. He might speak to me through the Bible, He might speak to me through another person, or he might speak to me through a thought that pops into my head. I try to be open to anything.

"Keep an open mind, but don't be so open-minded that your brain falls out." Richard Feynman

I'm sure of my faith in God. I use the Apostle's Creed and the Bible as my starting point. Beyond that... my mind is never completely "made up," because that wouldn't leave room for God to talk to me.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12:2

...Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. - 1 Kings 19:11-13

I hope I’m at least partly successful.

Let go; Let God.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Song

I wish we sang Easter carols the same way we sing Christmas carols. After all, it's the most important Christian Holiday!
Here's one of my favorites:
Easter Song (by Keith Green)

Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be born again
Here the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead
The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead
Joy to the word, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ, He will reveal it now
The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus' power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour
Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah, hallelujah
The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead
Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
Peace, love and Happy Easter!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yes, I’m a Christian and I’m Green

Earth hour is coming.
(March 27th 2010,
8:30-9:30, your time.)
Turn off your lights for one hour.

What’s that you say? Christians aren’t green?

Does my bible tell me to be green? You’re darn right it does! God created the earth, He gave (more like lent) it to us to take care of; and it’s not right for us to trash it, burn it, deface it, uglify it, or ruin it.
Love the Creator. Love the creation.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31
Go to to learn more.

Peace, Love and Recycle

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Am I “Holier Than Thou?”

I hope not. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I want to be as holy as I can, but if I ever say or do something to belittle another person (any other person!) I am not being holy. Not long ago I saw a Facebook Status, (for those who don’t know, that’s a message you write at the top of your Facebook page, for all to see.)
“Jesus is Lord – Please pass this on – 90% of all Christians are afraid to post this as their status.”
What? What? I immediately felt a quandary; if I don’t post this as my status too, I’m not a good Christian, right? It means I'm afraid, and that's not good. I'd better post it as my satus.
That passed pretty quickly, as I saw how manipulative the post was. What this person is declaring is that she’s in the top ten percent of Christians, because of what she types on a Facebook page. Who is this glorifying? Jesus? I don't think so.
Be careful that you glorify the Lord, not yourself. Aim to lift people up. Don’t drag them down.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Social Justice – Them’s Fightin’ Words

When you read the word "love" in the bible, what do you think of? Romance? Fondness? In the new testament, the word is usually translated from the Greek word "agape." In the King James Version, the Greek word "agape" is translated sometimes as "charity," sometimes as "love," because it's a bigger word than we can easily conceive... just as God is bigger than we can conceive. God is love, (1 John 4:8) and God intends for us to have that selfless, committed, all-consuming love for all people, just as He does.
Jesus said, "'Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)
This is the Greatest Commandment! How is any Christian unsure of what it means???
But wait. Because the people who were listening didn't want to love everyone, someone asked another question, hoping for an "easy out," undoubtedly expecting to hear that he didn’t really have to love everyone. He asked "Who is my neighbor?"
Jesus defined "neighbor" in a story. He used an example of the most hateful person they could think of, (to them; a Samaritan) he defined love as going out of your way to care for a hurt person, touch them (ick!) give them money, and make sure they're in good hands before moving on. And, insult of insults, he had the (icky) Samaritan doing all this to a good Jewish person!
What is this, if not social justice? How can we not believe in social justice? Social justice should be our passion!

What are we really afraid of? Cammunism? Nazism? Or are we simply afraid that our taxes will go up if the words "social justice" are used more?
I'm not a proponent of "pure communism," (which, for the record, is different from totalitarianism, the failed government of the USSR that people are so afraid of.) I don’t think idealized communism would ever work for long, because of human nature. But I think Christians should live as close to the bible as possible. And I can’t justify my own greed when I read this passage:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Acts 4:32-35
Anybody who says their church practices "1st century Christianity" needs to start living communally, or admit that they’re lying.

Someone I know brought up a good point; the government shouldn’t have to force us to give to the poor... that's for the church to do. And if the church were doing an adequate job, I'd agree. But it's not, so we have social programs, and we're taxed to keep them (barely) working, and we fight over where our hard-earned money goes. If Christians really lived as "1st century Christians," there would be no need for taxes.
I urge all Christians to freely help all people in need; because that’s what Christian love is.

Peace, Love, and Charity

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Story Has a Happy Ending

I watched a friend dying yesterday.
As I write this, I assume she's still alive because I haven’t gotten a call otherwise, but I assume she will "pass on to the other side" as I’ve heard it said, any day – any moment. I hope she goes soon. Her breathing was labored, she can't swallow and therefore can't eat, and she's clearly in pain or discomfort. She may understand what people say to her. When I told her hello, she groaned and briefly focused her eyes. But I didn't know what to say next. How are you? ... I hope you get better? Finally, after telling her briefly what I'd done recently, I told her "I know you'll feel better soon."
This lady has had a long and interesting life, so it's time for her to go. I have no doubt of that. But does her story have a happy ending? In this world, it doesn't. Her last years were frustrating. She used to be very active. She loved to hike. As she aged, she lost her balance and her ability to walk far. She lived in a neighborhood she didn't like, she became house-bound, and she grew bitter. Not a happy ending.

A few years ago, I became somewhat obsessed with the end of life. I realized that every life has an unhappy ending; either quick and painful, as in a car accident, or long and painful, as in cancer. Not a pretty picture. I didn’t tell anyone about my thoughts (what a downer!) but I dwelt on it a lot and I became depressed. After a while, I realized how pointless this was, and through prayer and re-thinking, I snapped out of it. It hasn't quite left me, this worry about how I’ll go, but I don't obsess on it any more.
Today, while praying, I realized something. My life won’t have an unhappy ending. In fact, it will have a happy ending; I'm sure of that. After all, I'm going to meet Jesus! Will I feel pain as I die? I don't know; I might. But there's nothing I can do about it, (except live a healthy lifestyle) so why dwell, on it?
Does my friend's life have a happy ending? I don't know. She went to church, but I don't – can't – know what her relationship with Jesus is. I'm in no place to judge anyone else, and I don't try.

Does your life have a happy ending? Only you know that... or maybe you don't. If you want to, you can re-write the ending, you know. You can do it at any time. Say hello to Jesus, or get reacquainted with him if you haven't talked to him recently. He is willing and eager to forgive those who come to him; at any time, young or old, even if they've lived a terrible life, (Luke 15:11-32), and even as they're dying. ...Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42-43

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20

Peace, Love and Happy Endings

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Proof that God Exists

I’ve seen the argument all over the internet:

"I can prove that God exists."
"No you can’t."
"I can prove that God doesn’t exist."
"You can’t prove that God exists/doesn't exist."
"Yes I can."

Then comes the "proof." The proof is usually something scientific, like the big bang or cells dividing and turning into humans. There it is; PROOF!

But, no. It’s proof to one person, but not to the other... Neither person sees what is SO CLEAR to the other person, and the argument goes on.
Well, I have “proof” that God exists, but here’s the problem; it’s inside my head. I can’t take it out and show it to you. In fact, it’s not actual proof at all. It’s faith. I can tell you about my faith, I can demonstrate my faith, but I can’t give you my faith, and therefore it’s not proof.
To me, when I look at a tree and I believe it was made by God, that’s all the proof I need. When I see a baby born, when I see a person forgive someone who hurt them badly; that’s proof of God’s presence. When I spend time in prayer, and an idea comes to me, or I feel a sense of peace that I can’t explain...
...but that’s it right there! I can’t explain it! No matter how much I want to, I can’t transfer that feeling of peace to another person, (not by myself,) especially if that person is looking not for peace, but for PROOF.

In fact, as soon as I see "Show me proof..." I think, here's someone who doesn't want to hear what I'd have to say anyway. It's a set-up. They'll wait for me to say something, then attempt to shoot it down. Then they can feel smarter than me, I guess.

I'm not worried. My goal isn't to feel smart. This is faith, as defined by the Bible: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:2 (italics added.)

So... God doesn't want to give us proof! He wants us to have faith. Why? Because proof is the illusion that you're in control of your world. And He wants us to put our faith in Him.

That's scary. It's like getting on a roller coaster ride and putting your faith in the engineers. It's like getting in an airplane and putting your faith in the pilot. It's like doing what you know is right, even in a confusing world, with people all around trying to pull your faith right out from under you. It means YOU'RE NOT IN CONTROL!

Everyone has faith in something. Think of a chair. When you sit down, you have faith that something solid will be under you, even if you’re not looking as you lower your body. (Ever have a chair pulled out from under you as you’re sitting down? I have. Believe me, we all use faith as we sit down. It’s a strange sensation to suddenly lose faith in a chair!)

Are you waiting for proof before you believe? Read the verse from Hebrews again. In fact, read the whole chapter, Hebrews 11. Go ahead. There’s not one mention of PROOF. It’s all about FAITH.
When it comes down to it, faith is a choice. (or it wouldn’t be faith, now would it?) The Bible talks a lot about faith but not about proof. Why? Faith is what God wants of us. Go ahead, stop looking at the roller coaster and defining physics. Stop looking at the chair and wondering if it will hold you. Get on and have experience it.

Try this: Stir some sugar into a glass of water. You can’t see the sugar. It still looks like water. There’s no proof that it’s there; until you taste it. So if what you really (really) want is to experience God, stop asking for PROOF. Try Him for yourself.

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

Peace, Love and Faith

Monday, February 15, 2010

What I've Learned From My Dog

I’ve learned a lot from my dog. I’ve learned about my own relationship with God. See, my dog is completely dependent on me in many ways. I feed her, walk her, clean up her poop, and scratch her behind the ears. Without me, she’d be a stray on the streets, and she’d probably get hit by a car in no time... probably while she’s chasing a cat across the street.
Sometimes she wants to please me; sometimes she wants to please herself. She does both at times. When we go for a walk, she stays by me sometimes, looks up at me sometimes, and sometimes she tries to go off after cats. Let me tell you, at those times, all that matters is the cat. In the moment, she doesn’t even know that I exist. You might say she’s, um, sinning.
She doesn’t even notice if there’s a car coming, she’s so focused on that cat. She could get squished flat before she knows it, so it's up to me to correct her and to teach her how to behave. In fact, it's my responsibility.

So, let’s just say I’m like God (big stretch, I know) and my dog is like a sinful person. What’s going on here?
Do I love her even when she’s sinning? Of course!
Do I get mad when she steals tissues from the bathroom trash can, tears them to shreds, and spreads them around the house? Of course! (Ewww.)
At those times, I just have to fold my arms and look at her and she runs under the bed.
Once, she stole a box of chocolates and ate it. I know this because there were bits of foil in... well... I found evidence that she’d eaten it. (Dumb dog. I’d explained to her that this could kill her, but did she listen? No!) Oh, I got maaad. I folded my arms and glared at her, and she ran under the bed.
Now, wait. I’ve read that if even a minute has passed, a dog doesn’t know it’s done something wrong; it’s simply reacting to its owner’s emotion. I can’t tell. She knows she did something wrong, or she knows I’m angry. I’m not sure if she puts the two together. But I do it anyway.
Am I a spiteful, hateful master? No! In a few minutes all will be forgiven and I’ll be scratching her behind the ears... then she’ll go out back and dig a hole in the garden, and I’ll get mad again, she'll be sorry - I think - and I’ll have to forgive her again.

My analogy doesn't quite fit, of course. The biggest difference is that I’m not like God... but to my dog, I might as well be. I provide her with all that she needs; food, a home, love, and a few squeaky toys.
God provides me with all that I need, and then some. He’s even provided me with a manual, the Holy Spirit, and the ability to reason, which my dog doesn’t seem to have. And yet, often I go chasing after... well, not cats, but my own selfish desires.
Does He still love me? Of course!
Does He still want me to stop sinning and look lovingly at him? Of course!
Will I be obedient and ALWAYS look lovingly at my God? I have to say it... no. At times, I want my own way; I forget to pray; I do stupid, selfish things. I sin. (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... Romans 3:23) The good news? He forgives me. (...and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24)
I don’t believe God punishes us directly for our sins, but lots of times my sins have bad consequences. And when I know I’ve sinned, I figuratively run under the bed.
Then out I crawl, I pray, and we start over again, my God and I; my loving master.
Peace, Love, and Squeaky-toys

Monday, February 8, 2010

What’s so Bad About Sin?

Which do you want to hear first; the bad news, or the good news?
Okay, first the bad news: you’re a sinner. So am I. Wait! Don't go away yet; hear me out!
Nowadays, I think the concept of “sin” trips us up. I’m not about damning or hellfire – not at all – but I am all about grace, and grace is no good without admitting that I sin.

Sin is not a popular concept. Many belief systems exclude sin, or at least dance around it. There’s Carl Rogers and secular humanism. (In a nutshell; the idea that nothing you do is wrong, unless it hurts you or someone else.) Actually, I’m in favor of humanism... and I love Carl Rogers and what he started, because it emphasizes unconditional love. I strongly agree with this concept. But the idea of sin has been pushed aside. Eastern religions don't talk about sin. instead, they have the idea of karma... what you do, good or bad, has consequences. Even in atheism, there's the idea of good and bad ethics. So, most everyone admits that we do wrong sometimes.
If you do something that hurts you or someone else, what could you call it? Hmmm... how about sin? There. That wasn’t so hard was it? I just gave a name to the things we do that are hurtful.

"But wait," you say, "are you saying I’m a sinner? What are you implying, pal? Don't tell me I'm going to hell!"
No, I’m not one of those to name your sins. That’s between you and God. I’m not going to stand on a street corner with a sign that says “God hates you.” (He doesn’t.)

So call it hurtful actions, mistakes, unethical conduct, bad karma, bad ideas... no matter what you call it, we do things that are... wrong. I call it sin.

Okay, I told you there would be good news. Here it is:
If you admit you’re a sinner, you can accept forgiveness, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 ...and... grace.

What’s grace?
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—." Ephesians 2:8
"Grace" in Greek, charis (χαρις), means "that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness"... and good will, loving-kindness, favor of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

I don’t know much about eastern religions, but I think that grace, or the nearest thing to it, must be earned. I won't speak for anyone else, but I’m not good enough to earn my way into heaven or nirvana.

(If you want to know what God thinks of sinners, read the story of the "Prodigal son." Luke 15:11-32)

Isn’t that great? All you have to do is admit you've sinned, and stop doing hurtful things. With grace, it’s as if you’ve done nothing wrong. That’s far better than pretending you never make a mistake, isn’t it?

Peace, Love and Forgiveness

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Learn to Float

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Why is it so hard to understand grace? I believe it’s because grace is a balancing point between effort and effortlessness.
On the one hand, we need to do what’s right; That’s the LAW.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 1 Corinthians 15:56

But... He’s offered us a free gift – a free pass into heaven – even if we don’t obey the law.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 1 John 2

Huh? Is He allowing us to sin, or not? Why is God so confusing???
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Grace shouldn’t be so hard to understand. We use it with our kids all the time, and with our friends, and with our spouses. “Don’t do that,” we say. But the kids leave a mess all over the house anyway... or they pick their noses, or they refuse to do homework, or they stay out past curfew, or they...
Where was I? Oh, yeah. I’m a parent. I get mad, but I love my kids anyway. “Do it better next time, okay? You don’t want me to ground you; I don’t want to ground you.” But they disobey, again, and I ground them... again.
Why do I punish? Because I want them to learn. I want them to grow up to be good people. Because I love them.

So why should it be different with God? I don’t believe he punishes directly. (Read the book of Job.) But I do believe He gets angry with us, and He loves us. He can do both at once. It’s not such a stretch.
“Please forgive me,” you pray. “I’ll try harder next time. I really do mean it.” You don’t want to do it again, right? So, rely on grace. Go ahead.

In fact, if you’re a Christian, and you try to rely on the law to “save yourself,” you lose it.
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:4

There’s a line there somewhere. Cheap grace is wrong. (If you’re into a little heavy reading, try The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.) Abusing grace is like when an addict goes straight for a while to appease someone, but they don’t mean it... They’re only waiting for their next chance. That’s not real grace. And, come on... God knows if you mean to sin again or if you don’t.

Depending on God is like learning to float. You can’t do it if you thrash about. People drown that way. You can only float on the water if you relax.

God loves you. Depend on Him. Relax... That's it.. You’re experiencing grace.

Peace, love, & grace

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pat Robertson Told Me to Love my Neighbor

…well, actually, he didn’t.
But now I feel it’s more important than ever, as a Christian, to show compassion without judgment. It doesn’t matter to me what color a person’s skin is, or what their culture is, or what I think they believe. I’ve always felt it was Christian to help people, and un-Christian to judge them. If you judge someone, you’d darn well better know your words are straight from God himself! (Judge not, lest you be judged – Matthew 7)

By helping people, I don’t mean handing cash to an alcoholic so he or she can get another drink. It’s important to find ways to help people out of the hole they’re in, even if they dug it themselves.
As a Christian, I won’t argue over a statement made by another Christian. Let’s just say he doesn’t speak for all of us. In fact, I won’t judge him either. I disagree, but I won’t waste my time on it. I’m in no place to judge anyone; even Pat. I’m no theologian, and I'm certainly no prophet.

I’ll just put my money where my mouth is. I hope you do the same. The people of Haiti are in great need right now.
This is one way to help:

(Jesus,after telling the story of the good Samaritan:) "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." Luke 10: 36-37

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him. ~ Martin Luther King

Peace, love & compassion

Monday, January 4, 2010

You Are the 100 Watt Bulb of the World?

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5 14-15

When reading this, I’ve always pictured a fire on a hill at night; soft, warm, inviting. People are attracted to it. Or a house that’s warm and cozy, the light shining out through the windows.

I just got a picture in my head of the way many Christians try to be the “light of the world.” It’s a picture from those old police TV shows. An interrogation. A criminal (the bad guy) is kept in a chair, against his will of course, and the “Christians” (the good guys) shine a bare light bulb in his face. He squints and tries to shield himself from it. The “Christians” hope he’ll break down and say, “Okay, okay, I want to be a Christian too!” (Then they all get on their knees and help him pray the sinner’s prayer and everybody’s happy.) How appealing is that?
You might know some of these people. You might even be one. They’re especially common on the web. They barge in, telling others that they’re sinners and need to be saved. They don’t try to get to know people first; just tag them:
Sinner – going to hell. Target and save. Next…

I want to be the light on the hill. I want to be the warm, inviting light that attracts people, because they say, “I want what she’s got.” I don’t have a quota of people to save, so there’s no need to go out and wrestle sinners to the ground. There are plenty of people around me in my life. It’s no secret that I’m a Christian. I “do good deeds;” not to show people what a great Christian I am, but because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve never cornered anyone and started a theological argument, but I’m open to discussion if someone wants to.
I’ve talked to many atheists and agnostics who hate Christians… and Christ! Why? Because their image of Christ is wholly negative. They can’t even see Jesus past that glaring bulb!

I urge all Christians to turn off the ugly bulb and light a candle.

Peace, love and light

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

Maybe it’s time to try something different. We all want to be HAPPY. Who knows? Today could be the right time to do something NEW, shake things up a little, and make a fresh start. Since the YEAR is young, this could be the perfect time. Let’s make 2010 the best ever!