Stumbling Through Life

My photo
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.

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