Archives For Jesus

The Thing Is…..

March 15, 2015

RJ:

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This six-part series from about a year ago was what I discovered about the Bible after ten strenuous years of study. I want to say up front so there is no misunderstanding that no, I did not get any personal revelations from God on this topic other than his possible guidance through my study. After ten years I finally understand what millions of other have realized before me…. It’s about Jesus, not the Bible…

Originally posted on :

CB064037What About The Bible… ? (Chapter 1)

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about the Bible and my experiences with it over the last decade or so. Around 2003 I decided to take up a serious study of theology and in particularly those around the words of Jesus. I naively thought I could get some clear directions for my spiritual life if I just understood why the Bible seems to mean so many different things to so many people. What I have discovered over this period of time awakened me. I did not get the concrete answers I was looking for but I did glean some surprising discoveries.

So, for the next several  weeks I will be spending Mondays on posts about that journey into the Bible. I have always been a little hesitant to voice my discoveries because if they surprised me they might…

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Of course the title of this post came from the Sermon on the Mount found in the Christian Bible. Many, if not most Christians, believe that these teaching called the Beatitudes are fundamental to their faith. They are one of the primary lessons that Jesus left us on how he wants us to act. Here are all eight:

Blessed are..

….the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
….those who mourn: for they will be comforted.
….the meek: for they will inherit the earth.
….those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.
….the merciful: for they will be shown mercy.
….the pure in heart: for they will see God.
….the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.
….those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

And here is a little about what Wiki says about them:

Each Beatitude consists of two phrases: the condition and the result. In almost every case the condition is from familiar Old Testament context, but Jesus teaches a new interpretation. Together, the Beatitudes present a new set of Christian ideals that focus on a spirit of love and humility different in orientation than the usual force and exaction taken. They echo the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality, and compassion.

As typical with so many of his teachings Jesus brought a new meaning to an Old Testament lesson. That lesson here is that war and warriors that were so common in the Old Testament are now to be superseded by the peacemakers and a “turn the other cheek” philosophy. That is a hard lesson for many to learn especially those who still cling to only an Old Testament version of these things.  Jesus told us to be meek, be merciful, be pure of heart, and to be peacemakers. Almost everything the current Israeli Prime Minister says and does fails to live up to these principles. His only solution to the “Iran Problem” is overthrow or total annihilation. His only solution to the “Palestinian Problem” is dominance and “you kill one of us and we kill fifty of you”.

There are many in this country who call the U.S. a Christian nation but then seem to align only with Old Testament solutions to the world’s problems. As a matter of principle I will not be one of those who listen to the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to the U.S. Congress tonight. Sadly, I already know his solutions to all of the conflicts around him.  Isn’t it about time that this “Christian nation” gave Christian solutions a chance and  firmly tell Mr. Netanyahu that there are other options.

The primary underlying firebrand that ignites so much of the Middle East turmoil is the Palestinian problem. Until that is resolved there will NEVER be peace in the Middle East. Maybe it is time to tell Israel who we give billions of dollars in weapons annually that their solutions have not worked for the sixty plus years of their existence so to now we insist that it is time to get out of the way and give the peacemakers a chance….

Despite the Loud Minority…

February 20, 2015

2015-02-05_08-24-50Despite a loud minority, most of the U.S. has moved on. Last year, seven states accounted for 80 percent of all executions. And it is even more evident when you look at counties. More than half of death penalty convictions originate in 2 percent of the counties in the U.S.

More and more Christians are troubled that 85 percent of executions take place in the Bible Belt. A 2014 poll showed that millennial Christians are overwhelmingly against the death penalty, and only 5 percent of Americans think Jesus would favor it…..

It feels like we have death-fatigue.

Perhaps it is no surprise that alongside constant stories of death from Paris and Nigeria to Ferguson and NY, there is a surge of opposition to the death penalty in the U.S. It just feels strange to protest another ISIS beheading and then watch another botched execution in the U.S 

Revolution is in the air — and the revolution is about how life matters. Let’s say no to death —  from ISIS to Texas.

SOURCE:  Checking Pulse on the Death Penalty | Shane Claiborne | Red Letter Christians.

It never fails to amaze me that so much that I think is wrong with our country is because of small minorities. Democracy is supposed to be about majority rule, or at least a form of it. How can we let 2 percent of the counties in the U.S. hand out over 50 percent of our execution orders. I am even more ashamed that 85 percent of execution are in the so-called Christian Bible Belt, that is primarily the southern states.  This seems totally without any sense when only 5 percent of us think that Jesus would favor executions. Aren’t we Christians supposed to look to Jesus on how to be in our lives?

It is heartening to see though that Christian millennials are overwhelmingly against the death penalty. That says that soon, maybe within a generation, this execution trend will finally end. It seems strange that the United State is in an alliance with China, and the Middle East in allowing the state to execute its citizens. Everyone else in the world has abolished it.  Being pro-life is about being for life and against human generated death in all it forms.

Small minorities that are primarily due to the very low population northern desert states along with their bible belt co-conspirators are responsible for holding up all forms of gun control. It seems they would rather see a “Newton” occur weekly rather than giving up their guns in any way shape or form.

But as Shane Claiborne says in his article above we should all rejoice that the death penalty is perhaps in its last stages. I can only pray that everyone who calls themselves Christian take up the Bible once in a while and concentrate on the words of Jesus found in it. He brought us the new covenant from God and showed us how to implement it by his personal life practices. When we listen to those words we can in no way be anything but pro-life in all regards and that certainly includes murders caused by our love of guns and the death penalty.

I Celebrate Post-Evanglism…

February 15, 2015

But by the time I was in grade school, my parents [who were both pastors] were becoming increasingly convinced that Sunday-morning Evangelicalism just wasn’t enough. No matter how nice the community was, they yearned to be part of a radical fellowship of Christ-followers, learning how to be disciples in their everyday lives. They wanted to live in solidarity with those who are most marginalized in our society. With increasing urgency, they felt that God was calling them to be in relationship with those whom the mainstream culture had taught them to fear….

We’re in the midst of a tidal wave of change that is fundamentally re-shaping the character of the North American church. Millions of us are discovering the ideas of the radical discipleship movement, and a surprising number are embracing the call to abandon all – our comfort, our wealth, and even the Evangelical subculture – in order to follow Jesus.

I share my story in part because I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a coherent life, community, and shared theology that is available when we come through the ferment of the great Evangelical break-up. The post-Evangelical experience isn’t simply about rejecting the unhealthy aspects of the Evangelical church; it can be a gateway into a much deeper engagement with the profoundly counter-cultural way of Jesus. 

SOURCE:  Dear Post-Evangelicals | Micah Bales | Red Letter Christians.

Micah Bales is one of my favorite bloggers over at Red Letter Christians and now that I know his life story he moved up yet another notch. As the middle bolded quote says I too celebrate the Post-Evangelical movement that is re-shaping the North American church. Being an impatient person I wish the tidal wave would happen even faster. We need to get Jesus’ church back to doing what he intended it to be.

The source article is a fairly long one but worth a read if you are interested in this topic and I can’t see that anyone who calls themselves a Christian should not be interested in this topic. I hope all those like me who have grown away from traditional evangelical congregation sees that there is light at the end of the tunnel for followers of Jesus. Some of this trend is actually happening  within traditional evangelical circles. There are those brave clergy who are covertly leading their flock back to the messages of Jesus.  Some of these brave souls are being discovered and deemed heretics and thrown out but there are some who are simply under the radar or maybe being ignored by the denominational leadership in hopes that they will soon see the light come back to their narrow vision of faith.

For many simply hunkering down in a pew on Sunday lamenting evil in the world and being told they can do nothing about it is not enough.  They know in their hearts there is another path for their faith journey. I celebrate the Post-Evangelical age and pray that more of my previous friends in evangelical circles will eventually come to celebrate it too.

 

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“In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” – Mark Driscoll

Being that I am now a big fan of streaming video I get advertisements such as the picture above on a regular basis. When I first looked at the picture the resemblance between the person in the picture and the traditional western depiction of Jesus slammed me. Then I thought of the quote I used earlier from Mark Driscoll (also above).

Here is a little bit of what Wikipedia says about Mr. Driscoll and his congregation.

Mark A. Driscoll (born October 11, 1970) is an evangelical Christian pastor and author, and current preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in Seattle, Washington. In 1996, Driscoll co-founded Mars Hill Church, which as of 2014 has grown to 14,000 members in five states and fifteen locations…

On March 29, 2014, four former Mars Hill elders including Kyle Firstenberg, Dave Kraft, and co-founder Lief Moi created a blog titled “Repentant Pastor” and posted online “confessions and apologies” related to their leadership roles in Mars Hill. In a joint statement, they wrote, “we recognize and confess that Mars Hill has hurt many people within the Mars Hill community, as well as those outside the community….” Salon summarized the statements, writing that the former leaders emphasized their failures to “rein Driscoll in” and their complicity with Driscoll’s “autocratic” management style. Firstenberg wrote that while the church appeared to flourish, employees lived in constant stress, and “success was to be attained regardless of human and moral cost.” Lief Moi described his own behavior at Mars Hill as “driven by narcissism and anti-social tendencies.”

SOURCE: Mark Driscoll pastor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

It seems that Mr. Driscoll is in trouble with the leaders of his church for some crude things he has been saying and doing.  To me it appears that he is simply a case of a guy with too much testosterone even for an American which is a lot.

DeniedHow have we gotten the message of Jesus so damned wrong?

One way I believe we might’ve taken a wrong turn or two in following the Way of Jesus is by not heeding his own teachings and example. In the article, Mohler quotes passages from the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis 9) and even dabbles a bit into the writings of Paul (Romans 13). But he curiously ignores the red letters of the gospels which could shed a little light on what a Christian (i.e., a follower of Jesus Christ) should or should not support.

SOURCE:  Missing the Point: Al Mohler & the Death Penalty | Michael Kimpan | Red Letter Christians.

The above quote comes from an article in response to the leader of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and it’s 16 million members in support of the death penalty. It is one of the many ways our current versions of religion have veered so hopelessly off the message of its founder. None of Jesus’ words without taking them completely out of context can be construed to support execution!

About the only time Jesus became physically abusive was in turning over the money changer’s tables in its current day churches and then no one was seriously harmed. It is kind of funny that the only times Jesus got so upset it was due to misaligned practices of the religious leaders. I kind of think he probably feels the same about many in  this current bunch too.

It totally dumbfounds me how so many Christians and particularly their leaders seem to purposely ignore the words of Jesus in the biblical text.  I started blogging over at my other blog Red Letter Living in 2008 and one of the first comments I got was from one of the leaders of the denomination I belonged to at the time. He said that I should not be concentrating on the words of Jesus as all the words in the bible are equally important and without error.  This very comment started me on a long downward slide with that denomination which eventually ended when they said I was no longer a member of their church.

The very definition of the word Christian is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. If I take that literally, and I do, how can you say his words are no more important than even the smallest prophets in the Old Testament? By make that claim you are either promoting everyone up to the level of Jesus or you are denying the divinity of Jesus as Christ.  We all need to challenge our leaders when they become so misguided as has the leader of our Baptist brethren. Let’s all do what we can to put Christ and his messages back as the central focus the Christian church. To do otherwise is to me to deny Christ!!