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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Now the Good News:

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:8-11

The word "Gospel" generally refers to the first four books of the Christian New Testament. It means "good news." And I can't think of any better news than this: Even though I'm all messed-up, even though I make mistakes every day, God loves me anyway. I'm proud and happy to say "I'm with him."

Peace, Love and Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who Killed Jesus? I Did.

On what we now call Palm Sunday, (Mark 11:1-11, Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19), Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. The common folk celebrated, but the Religious officials of their day (the Pharisees) grumbled. The Romans threw them a bone; they allowed the little parade to happen.
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew how weak and how fickle His followers really were. In Luke 19:41 as Jesus approached Jerusalem, he looked at the city and wept over it, foretelling the suffering that awaited the city. But he accepted their Hosannas. He knew they were going to kill him -- They didn't even know! -- and He loved them anyway!

The Jews and the Romans were deeply divided over what to do with Jesus. To the Jews, He was supposed to be a great leader. He was suppose to make everything better… to fix the government. (And boy, it was a mess.) Some Jews wanted Him to get on with it already and take His rightful place as King. Those in leadership wanted to get rid of him ASAP. Everybody had their own opinion. Everybody had their own agenda.

Less than one week later they were united in one cause… to make sure He died.

I don’t want to be like that; so sure of myself, and so caught up in my emotions, that I crucify the very God I profess to love. I get caught up in my little agendas all the time. (At best, mine tend to relate to my “shopping list” of prayers. At worst, they relate to things I have no business in, such as my opinion of Quran-burners and whether gays should be allowed to marry.) I pray that I can set these things aside and listen to what God's agenda is:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love 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 your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Let’s not be united in a cause that crucifies Jesus.

Peace, love, and Hosannah.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sheep vs. Goats. Which Side Will You Be On?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

I keep trying to figure out how this passage fits with the conservative viewpoint. How can Christians slash parts of the budget that help poor people? How can they walk away from hungry people and say to themselves “I won't help them because they're lazy.”
Of course, there are different ways to help the poor. Arguably, handing cash to winos on the street won't help. It's better to give them food and shelter, and even better to help them find jobs and even rehabilitation. But this still boils down to the same thing: Help the poor.
This passage isn't unique, either. There are other passages that say to help the poor and the needy, the widows and the orphans: Deuteronomy 15:7, Luke 12:33, James 1:27 Based on what I read here, some people are going to be surprised. Some who thought they were "good Christians" are going to be caught saying "But... I thought I was doing the right thing. I championed the right political causes." And some will say, "But I never was good at preaching. All I did was volunteer in a soup kitchen."
It seems really clear to me: If you want to be "good with God," help poor people. Because if you do so, you're helping God Himself.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Am I Gonna Get Hit By Lightning?

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

If I admit that I feel doubt will I get scratched out of the book of life? (Rev. 20:15) If I ask questions, do I make God mad? If I get mad at God, does he reject me?

I hope not. Because I do all those things, every day. I really don’t have any choice. Thoughts and doubts pop into my head all the time. Call them the devil if you want. That’s fine. The devil has a firm hold on this world, and I’m in this world (if not of it,) so I can’t avoid the devil. Here are a Christian's choices, as far as I see:

    1. Pretend I don’t feel doubt (Contradictions? La la la not listening!) and hide in the crowd of “happy” Christians. (They’re all happy? All the time? What’s wrong with me?)

    2. Reject a God who usually appears to be hateful or, at best, uncaring. I’ve been an agnostic, but I’ve never fully turned my back on God. I was more like a teenager who says “I hate you!” to her parents when she doesn’t get her way.

    3. Keep praying, keep listening, keep reading, keep asking questions. And, yeah, keep doubting.

I’m not sure if I’ll get the answers to those questions. I often say jokingly that when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have a looong list, though. (#1 on the list is “If You’re all-loving, [1 John 4:8] why do you allow suffering?”) Other questions, like “What were Dinosaurs doing in a 6000-year-old world?” aren’t even on my radar. So what? What does that have to do with the way I live today? I think one of the worst things we do as Christians is making up our own answers to our questions, just to make ourselves feel better. That leads to silly answers, like “dinosaur bones were put in the ground to confuse non-believers.” (WHAT? God is TRYING to lead people astray?)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
A friend of mine says, “If God can handle anything, He can handle my silly little doubts. He can handle my questions. He can even handle my temper tantrums.” The important thing is to trust Him anyway. If I feel questions arise (and I do!) I turn them over to Him. Sometimes I even get answers! God loves me and I love God. Now the important thing is to spread that love. I don’t want to just tell about it. God wants me to pass it on.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Peace, Love, Trust