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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christian... American... Interchangeable?

Saying America is a Christian country is neither Christian nor American.
What does it mean, anyway? Every American citizen is a Christian? It simply isn’t true. Every citizen must become a Christian to live here? That's just stupid. Saying everyone who isn’t a Christian must leave is blatantly and horribly unchristian AND unamerican... and unconstitutional... and really scary!
It cheapens both my religion and my citizenship. I belong to a religion of love. I belong to a country of openness.
So, guys. Stop it already!

Peace, Love, Acceptance

Monday, November 14, 2011

And They'll Know We are Christians by Our... Hate?

When I was in college, my church group sang this song a lot. If you've never heard it, it has been performed beautifully by Jars of Clay.

We are One in The Spirit,
We are One in The Lord.
We are One in The Spirit,
We are One in The Lord.
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love,
By our Love,
Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
And we'll guard each man's dignity
And save each man's pride.

We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand.
We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand.
And together we'll spread the News
that God is in our land.

But how true is it? Are Christians today "known by our love?" When I think of Christians in the media, here's what comes to mind for me:

  • Picketing funerals,
  • Burning holy books of other faiths,
  • Gloating over natural disasters,
  • Squabbling about evolution vs. Creationism,
  • Condemning gay marriage,
  • Judging the poor and/or unemployed as unworthy.
Um... I'm not feelin' the love here. None of this brings to mind anything like love. In fact, Christians today are known for our HATE. Is that really what we want?

Christians, reread 1 Corinthians 13. The first sentence, in case you've forgotten, is: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

I want to give credit where credit is due: This song was written by Peter Scholtes with additional words and music by Carolyn Arends

Peace, Love, Unity

Monday, November 7, 2011

Are You Stiff Necked?

God calls His people, the Israelites, stiff-necked. A lot:

Exodus 32:9, Exodus 33:3, Exodus 33:5, Exodus 34:9, Deuteronomy 9:6, Deuteronomy 9:13, Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 31:27, 2 Kings 17:14, 2 Chronicles 30:8

Remember, these are HIS people, the ones with which He made a covenant. He loves them. He continually accuses them of being stiff-necked, and each time He threatens to obliterate them (!) but Moses calms him down, and He doesn’t.

“I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” Exodus 32:9

Go up to up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” Exodus 33:3

Yeah. I’d keep my distance.

(I picture him as Ralph Kramden here, saying “Why, I oughta…” I hope that’s not too blasphemous.) But somehow, in spite of their constant disobedience, The people of Israel manage to not to get hit by lightning.

That had a lot to do with one person, Moses, constantly speaking on their behalf: “… Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.” Exodus 34:9

So how does this relate to us today? Are we a stiff-necked people?

Stiff-necked mean obstinate.

Merriam-Webster says stiff-necked is “haughty” or “stubborn,” and stubborn, in turn, is defined as

(1) unreasonably or perversely unyielding or (2) justifiably unyielding.

We see stubbornness as a good quality... a sign of strength! A person with strong convictions is better than one who “waffles."

But God doesn’t see it that way:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5.

Meek and obstinate are antonyms. (If you’ve forgotten your grammar, that means they’re opposites.) God prefers us to be meek. Meek doesn’t mean wimpy or cowardly, but it does mean gentle, patient, and kind. He doesn’t want us to hold obstinately to our opinions, so much that we refuse to consider others… even God’s!

So what we admire – stubbornness – is what God hates. I think we can become so stubborn – so sure of ourselves – that we refuse to listen to anyone or anything that we don’t already feel comfortable with. We sort of go through life with our fingers in our ears, saying “not listening!” But guess what; it might be God who's trying to talk to us. Only perfect people don't need to listen to new ideas. And last time I checked, nobody's perfect but God.

Don’t be stiff-necked. If you want to please God, be more like Moses. Talk to God. Ask him to help you be meek. And while you’re at it, pray for the stiff-necked people around you.

Peace, Love, Patience