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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Has the Kneejerk Reaction Set In?

There’s a book that’s been causing a stir among Christians. I haven’t read it. I only saw a video, which I admit was intriguing enough that I might read it. I assume from the hoopla around “Love Wins” that Rob Bell says there's no hell. Hmmm… that’s a bit much for me. Hell is mentioned too many times in the Bible for me to dismiss it (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna) and I’m not convinced that it can be explained away.
Luke 16:22 was always the most meaningful (read: scary) to me, and it’s definitely a warning, so, no, I can’t say there’s no hell: The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ (Read the whole passage in context: Luke 16:19-31)

(Personally, I feel that God will NOT force ANYONE into hell. I believe people will go there willingly rather than submit to Him. How many people, or who they are? I have no idea.)

But I do feel that there’s too much emphasis on hell in some churches, and not enough emphasis on LOVE. Jesus talked about love and forgiveness an awful lot. He went out of his way to talk to sinners. (Some of them were real lowlifes, too.)

Jesus doesn’t WANT people in hell. He wants us to turn to him. Maybe instead of digging in their heels, Christians who have gone to the other extreme (Fear of hell as a motivator) could use this as a chance to talk. Why would a Christian write a book like this? (Kneejerk reaction: The devil got ‘im. He’s going to … well… you-know-where.)
Are there any other possible reasons? Could some Christians be doing it wrong? Could condemning people without really knowing them be an un-Christian *gasp* thing to do? Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well and offered her living water... in short, Himself. He knew she had slept around and was “shacking up” even as he spoke to her. She was a sinner. Did he say, “Well, you’re a loss. You’re going to hell.” No. He offered her living water, (she accepted!) then he sent her to tell others.

Jesus’ followers didn’t always like it when he favored “sinners” over them. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. Luke 19:7 As Christians, we shouldn’t be smug. Those of us who live righteously are not the only ones who will be in heaven. In fact, some of us may not get there at all! For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Galatians 3:10

Let’s not be greedy and keep Jesus to our near-perfect selves. The road is narrow, yes, but everyone is allowed on it. Even “prodigal sons.” His brother wasn’t too happy either. …The older brother became angry and refused to go in. Luke 15:28 (Read it in context: Luke 15:11-32)

I’ve heard that the comment that started this whole can-of-worms was a note that read something like “Gandhi is in hell.” Does this person know that? Is it his or her place to say??? One of Gandhi's more famous sayings was, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mohandas Gandhi was turned away – turned away!!! – at the door of a church. How does that fit into your definition God’s love?

Supposedly, the last word Gandhi said after being shot was “God.” Who knows he wasn’t uttering a prayer to our Christ in his last breath? I don’t.

Peace, Love, Seek, and Knock

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's More Easy Being Green

There's a rumor out there that "green" and "Christian" don't go together. I'm here to tell you that this is wrong. Many (most?) of us feel that it's very important to care for God's world. I'm basing this very unscientific theory on conversations with friends, at home and around the internet.
It's my mission to educate myself on living "green" in any way I can.

Here are a few things I've done so far, and you can too:

Use reusable shopping bags
Buy green products (light bulbs, laundry detergent, etc.)
Bring your own cup into restaurants and coffee houses
Start a backyard garden
Don't buy things you don't need (!)
Keep your old car a while longer
Recycle (notice this is low on the list. Reduce->reuse->recycle... in that order)
If you blog, make it carbon-neutral:

co2 neutral coupons attractive shopping offers with

Click on the leaf and these good people will plant a tree for you.

This is a partial list. As you learn more, you can do more.

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."
1 Corinthians 10:26
You wouldn't trash someone else's property, would you?

Peace, Love, Trees

Friday, March 18, 2011

God, Fix My Problems!!!


Broken hearts



WHY is there suffering in the world? WHY are there earthquakes? WHY doesn’t God just come down and fix things? Clearly, He doesn’t want to. But that just sounds mean. Is God mean? The Bible says He is love. So... There must be a reason.
The fact is, we keep expecting God to be something different from what He is. The Jews expected a warrior king and got Jesus. We expect a genie and get... God. He doesn’t fix our problems for us. We live in a world of harsh realities.

I wish I had an answer. Well, I do have answers, but I wish I had a definitive, satisfying "Oh-I-get-it" answer. Actually, I just wish I had a solution!

Here's what I have:

God will bless us.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12

I admit it, this is my least favorite of the beattitudes. I like the blessing part, but not the rest. From where I stand, sometimes I can't feel the blessing, and I don't like that.

God wants us to turn to Him completely.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2

God wants the suffering to be gone more than we do, but WE need to change.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Matthew 23:27

It's not for us to figure out.

Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Job 38:4

Suffering is good for us. (Ouch.)

...the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Hebrews 12:6

God is in control.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1 11-12
(As for predestination: I think we were predestined to choose Him.)

We WILL understand when we come through this life.

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

And that's what I'm left with. God loves me, God is in control, and I will understand later.

And then sometimes, especially when I'm praying or reading the Bible, or when I see a homeless person eating soup at my church, I get a little glimpse. A little hope. A feeling of "Oh, I get it!" I can't explain "Oh, I get it," though. Not in words. All I can do is pass it on. I can do something kind, tell someone I love them, give them a hug, donate a few dollars to earthquake relief. The best I can do is trust God and try to reduce the suffering.

That's the best answer I have.

Peace, Love, Hope

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I’m Here, I’m GREEDY, Get Used To It

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

You may be familiar with this passage of the Bible and others like it. Pro-gay and anti-gay Christians alike use it to justify their positions on “the gay issue.” Either it means all gay behavior is wrong, or a certain kind of gay behavior is wrong. I’ve often seen the phrase “men who have sex with men” highlighted, boldfaced and/or translated into the original Greek: malakos and arsenokoitÄ“s. Out of this whole long passage, these are the words that are picked apart and discussed ad infinitum.
Believe it or not, I’m not going to get into that here. There are books written by people who understand Greek far better than I do, and the internet is replete with opinions.

Here’s what I want to say: What about the other sins in this passage?
sexually immoral
men who have sex with men

How many people who loudly express their opinions on “the gay issue” have committed one or more of these crimes? How many sit in pews, or even stand in pulpits, openly excusing themselves from the outcome of their unrepentant sins, “Neither … will inherit the kingdom of God.” I guess it’s pretty easy to spot a drunkard, but adulterers? The Bible says not to get divorced and remarried.
But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:32
Again, I’m not going to comment. But there it is. How many unrepentant adulterers excuse themselves from this passage with statements such as “But God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy.” (God probably doesn’t want gay people to be unhappy either. But that must be different.)

And then there’s an issue that touches me personally: GREED. I don’t currently have any close gay friends, though I have in the past. No gay person has hurt me in a big way. But boy, greedy people have! And here’s the thing… I’m thinking of Christians. I’m thinking of unrepentant greedy Christians.

Are you sure you’re not greedy? Because if you are, or if you slander or swindle, you won’t inherit the kingdom of God either. Hmm… are there different kinds of greed? Different meanings of greed? Can there be greedy people in government, in business, on Wall Street? Are you raising your kids to be greedy? Does greed undermine our values? Can greed break up families?
I think we should be picking apart the Greek word for GREEDY and discussing what it means to be a GREEDY person and a GREEDY Christian. Here it is in the original Greek: pleonektÄ“s. Think about it. If you’re greedy, you need to repent. You need to get straight with God. He'll forgive you. Because He loves you anyway.

The last part of this passage contains the really good news:
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This is for everyone. Even greedy people!

This verse sums up my feelings on "the gay issue" pretty well:

"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?” Matthew 7:3

Peace, Love, Repentance