This Christmas Season…

2015-12-11_11-32-59.pngI want to spend some time this Christmas season talking about Jesus. After all, as the old saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season” at least for us Chrisitans. I have said more than once on this blog that I am  spiritual but not currently aligned with any particular religious organization.  At the same time I try to be a faithful follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  That might be a dichotomy to some but  not to me. I just believe that religious organizations today are too mired down in their dogma and theology that is simply not focused on the words and teachings of their founder.

Many seem to at best give Jesus’ word only a tepid acknowledgement and at worst readily admit that to them his words are no more important than any other words in their bible. Those folks treat the Bible as their god instead of Jesus. That saddens me greatly and drives me away from their version of Christianity.

One of my favorite Christian authors is Philip Gulley and one of my favorite books by him is “If God Is Love”. Here are some of my favorite quotes from that book:

For many, religion is a means of controlling human behavior. Dualistic religion, with the threat of hell and the offer of heaven, is especially susceptible to this temptation…

Jesus turns controlling religion, with its inflexible laws and requirements, on its head. The point isn’t obeying the rules (an act of the will), but in producing good fruit (an overflow of the heart). Our hearts are changed only when we realize God’s unconditional love for us and embrace our responsibility to love others unconditionally.

This is why many have left the church, synagogue, and mosque. They aren’t atheists. They’ve simply found the courage to reject religious fear and control. They seek a spirituality consistent with what they sense to be true—there must be more to life than escaping hell and keeping the rules. They yearn for a way of life that is gentle, humble, open, and compassionate.

SOURCE: Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love (Kindle Locations 1318-1320). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

When I read the words above several years ago I had an epiphany. I finally accepted that God is about love and not eternal punishment for failing to follow rules. God is not about condemning the vast majority of us to an eternity of unimaginable agony but instead is showing us how to love.

I like to include myself in the quote above about rejecting religious fear and control and instead seeking spirituality consistent with my senses. Yes, I’m sure some of you can rush to your Bible to find a verse or two, especially in the Old Testament, about a vengeful god. But if you concentrate on Jesus’ words it should become obvious to you that God is a god of love.

This holiday season I choose to celebrate life as Jesus taught me…


Which Came First??


“Which came first, the chicken or the egg??” has been the question of the day for as long as I remember. But I have a different version now. Which came first a ranting populace or radical right radio?? Lets look at that question some in this post.

I know that Rush Limbaugh has been around a long time now.  He has made millions of bucks ranting about almost everything. I also know that there is a faction within our population who simply adore him and listen to him constantly. He is without a doubt their hero.  He has been so popular that now there are look-a-likes everywhere you turn.

I also know that ranting in the comments section of most Internet new sites has been viral for quite some time. Are all these ranters simply screaming what Limbaugh taught them are is Limbaugh listening to them for his rants? That is the question.  But sadly we seem to be approaching a tipping point of these folks.

It seems that if the nation is to survive we progressives are going to have to save it. (oh I can hear the ranters scream with this one!!!)  It is going to be up to us to put some sanity back into our political processes. The GOP is simply getting way too out of hand to save themselves let alone our country.

I must admit I never gave President Reagan much credit for anything good that happened in the 1980s. He just seemed to be a B-class actor reading the script that people (read Rumsfeld and Chaney) put in front of him. But now I realize that he was much more of a forward thinker than I ever imagined. Little did I realize that when he went about about shutting down all the mental healthcare facilities in this country  he was actually  using those cast out to fill the base of the GOP in the 21st century.  Go figure…. 🙂



Inequality as a Religious Test

But if you believe that every human being is made in the image of God — imago dei; if you believe that every individual person represented in economic statistics is a child of God; if you believe that in nearly all religious traditions, loving your neighbor as you love yourself follows directly after loving God; and if you believe, regardless of your conception of God, that human beings are all brothers and sisters tied together, then income inequality is a spiritual issue, a moral issue, and a religious test of our belief.

Source: Inequality as a Religious Test | Sojourners

I totally align with the words above, income inequality should be a basic concern of all those who proclaim to be children of God. I simply can’t see how it could be otherwise.  So, why are the most visible “evangelicals” so against that concept? First things first, I think that the very term evangelical has been kidnapped by a very small slice of the children of God for their own agenda.

Too many of the self-proclaimed evangelicals today are really political vultures who are mainly interested in themselves FIRST and foremost.  They have little interest in anyone outside of themselves and those who huddle together with them against the big bad world out there.  To them everyone who is poor or downtrodden are themselves to blame for their condition. They think that they just don’t have the initiative to help themselves. In other words they deserve what they got.  It seems these supposed evangelicals most avid fear is someone getting something that “they don’t deserve”!  How can this description be called evangelicals???

It doesn’t take much to claim a Christian label these days.  Almost a century ago the KKK self proclaimed they were Christian.  They even use a cross as their symbol.  The most critical problem with this scenario is that the true evangelicals timidly sit back and let the hate mongers claim their identity. Their lack of action taints and even destroys the “E” name for too many of us. Another thing that destroys the Christian label are those few who preach these words and thoughts from their pulpits!!  If the true evangelicals want to proclaim a war they couldn’t do much better than to fight against those who kidnapped their identity!

As the article above states being a Christian is all about caring for others, not yourself. It’s about time that we who are followers of Jesus Christ did more of that….

Life Flow …

2015-11-03_13-42-55This Sunday I want to flesh out a little more of what God means to me personally.  Theologians throughout the centuries have molded God into a being mainly of their own making.  If they can do it so can I, at least for my own purposes.

As I have said in the last two Sunday posts I see God as primarily the keeper of life.  There is something inside of us that makes us alive . Call it the spirit, soul, life blood or what ever you want but only God can make life. When you are born you are filled with life and consciousness. Part of consciousness is an underlying knowledge of right and wrong, of joy, empathy, and self-awareness and something greater than ourselves. Christians call this the “fruit of the Spirit”. All of this is part of life. When you die that spirit, which has everlasting life, leaves your body and rejoins the pool of life maintained by God.  The Bible here and there mentions Judgement day. It is treated as a one time event but I kind of think it is an ongoing thing upon the departure of each individual life. What is judged I will leave up to God to determine.

To me God controls life but not how that life is lived.  What that life becomes is a matter of circumstances sometimes within and sometimes beyond our control. Some of it is a result of our environment and particular culture. Some of it is due to our making the right decisions or the wrong decisions. Some of it is due to others who help or mistreat us to various degrees. It is up to each of us as to how we approach life.

Being the keeper of life he cares about all of us as we all come from him. I know that through the ages God has been viewed as sometimes a being very vengeful being who says “Say these words” or “Tow this line” and if we don’t he will send us to an eternity of agony beyond anything we can imagine. I simply don’t buy into a God who hates so much of his creation to do such a horrible thing! Now on to the last topic for today.

“Spiritual but not religious” has come to mean a very important difference to me.  I see a religion as a collective composition of previous thoughts from theologians about the spiritual realm. Various thinkers throughout time have come up with some very dramatically different views of God. Several of these views have gained millions of followers and then become a religion unto themselves.  In Christianity there are now over 35,000 different religious organizations who claim to be followers of Jesus and it seems each on says their version is right and everyone else is wrong to one degree or another.  I could, and have, belonged to different ones at various times in my life.  It is only recently that I have  decided not to even try to align with any of them. I refuse to pledge allegiance to any particular, and that is what most of them demand. So now I call myself spiritual but not religious…

Next Sunday I will discuss my thoughts about some of the current religious organizations and their followers and leaders. That should then close out this topic for me, at least for now.


God, The River Of Life…

2015-10-18_09-02-12This is a continuation of last Sunday’s Post on God and Life.  If you haven’t already read it you might want to do that now as this post won’t make much sense without that background. (God Is All About Life)  In that post I put forth the proposition that God is life. With this post  I will expand just what that means to me. I will repeat here that this concept is primarily for me to come to a personal understanding of God. I don’t expect, or even want, you to agree with me.  You need to do the work to come to your own conclusions on the very heady matter. Question everything…

Being the “keeper of life” and being the “controller of life” are two very different things that have been intertwined by too many  past theologians. Here are some of my personal inquiries on this topic:

  • Does God know every hair on our head? — He just might since all life flows through him.
  • Does he have a will for each of us? — Collectively I think he does.
  • Does he determine before our existence what we will do or accomplish in minute detail? — I don’t think that God is simply writing plays with known outcomes or is a puppet master. I think that concept is a man-made. I think God leaves it to us to determine our own fate. Sometimes random chance comes into the equation but definitely not everything that happens is ordained by God.
  • Did God ordain Paul to set up the rules for Christianity? — It seems most current Christian organizations take that as a yes but I differ.  I follow the Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy view that Paul took the simple messages of Jesus and made them complicated.

Too many of us shirk our personal responsibilities in life in favor of putting them on decisions already made by God. There is way too much rationalization around this subject. We say it is God’s will that this happened to me and that takes the pressure off of us to make a different fate.  To me God’s will is very simple, Love God the keeper of life and love each other. Jesus said it as simply as that. Everything else is just blah blah blah to me.

I’m sure some who might read my words here will call me at best an agnostic because I don’t believe in their version of God.  But I do very much believe in God’s presence in the world and in each of us. I also believe that Jesus was from God in one respect or another. It is the degree that I don’t know, but that is kind or irreverent to me.   I don’t  believe that everything in the Bible attributed to Jesus necessarily came from his lips.   But again the degree is what I’m not sure of.

For this post that sums it up for me…..

Next Sunday I will be talking more about  life flow and being “spiritual but not religious”.  Two very different categories but it sums these thoughts up for me.

God Is ….

God I really don’t know how it happened that God became this old guy with flowing white hair and beard laying on the clouds and watching everything we do and getting involved in every aspect of our lives. I don’t know if Michelangelo’s Sistene chapel was the first depiction of that persona or if he was just mirroring someone else. But it seemed to catch on and go from there.  For many God is now a father figure who looks out for our every need.

I was pretty deeply involved in theology for more than a decade devouring perhaps a hundred books on the subject. As a result I have come to some personal conclusions  about God (but who am I to even do that?).  Since this is the week that I start on my 7th decade on this earth it is about time I penned my feelings in this arena.  If not now when?

It is pretty clear that most  theologians who gave us the biblical text perceived God as not a person. To most of them he was a spirit. It is more like God is a presence that is all around us than an actual person somewhere above us.  The conceptual thing that makes the most sense to me is that he is life. In that vain he is not really a “he”or a she. Most of the messages attributed to God in the Christian Bible, and for that matter the Jewish Bible and the Koran, God’s messages are about getting along with one another and appreciating the life that God has given us. Don’t Kill, don’t be jealous, love God, don’t adore/love stuff, and the rest. They are all about setting the right priorities in your life and simply living in peace and love with everyone else in God’s creation.

God just seems to be all about life.

Personally I have come to see God as the keeper of life. In science we have progressed eons beyond where they were two-thousand years ago.  Almost everything that surrounds us today would have been considered a miracle in those times.  The past century alone has brought us out of the dark ages of medicine. We have now mapped DNA and that will probably bring even more knowledge beyond our current imagination in the coming years.

But one thing we have been unable to do is to create life where there was none before. To me, that is God’s domain. He is the keeper of life.  The Star Wars movies, of which I am a big fan called it the “force”. To me the force is the essence of life that comes only from God.

I don’t expect or even want any of you to agree with me on this.  I made this study and the resulting conclusions for my own benefit. I needed to more fully understand my perception and relationship with my creator. Did I get it right? I pretty much doubt it but I don’t think anyone else has it right to any degree either.  The concept of God is just too complex for our puny human minds.

Next Sunday I will delve into what I see being the keeper of life means…. and maybe more importantly what it doesn’t mean.

The Greatest Sin…

2015-09-25_11-56-55One of the most striking verses in the Christian bible for me was found in Mathew 12. I won’t quote the verse here but it basically says there is one sin that will NEVER be forgiven and that is “blasphemy against the Spirit”. Since I have come to understand that Christianity is all about forgiveness this verse was very loud to my ears. Let’s study the concept of blasphemy.

What is blasphemy? Here is a common definition:

blas⋅phe⋅my /blæsfəmi:/   — noun

expressing disrespect for God or for something sacred

That is a pretty plain one but I believe gets to the heart of the matter. The question is disrespect but whose version of God and just what is disrespect?

Blasphemy has come to have hundreds of different interpretations over the centuries.

  • Some believe that just saying the words “God D**m” is blasphemy and anyone saying those words can never get into heaven. If that is the case then only a very small minority of us will see the pearly gates.  I don’t curse as a regular thing but I do have my rare outbursts as most everyone does. But I personally don’t believe that God will damn us to an eternity of agony just for using a cuss word.
  • Some believe it is accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled. I think this one is pretty much related to the times and not so much today.
  • Some  today  believe that blasphemy would be attributing a miracle of a redeemed person’s changed life to Satan’s power rather than to the effects of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I surprisingly have been personally exposed to this one in that when I said I believed the Holy Spirit reached me, the first thing a clergy said was “How do you know it wasn’t the devil”.  I was utterly dumbstruck by those words.
  • Others say just not believing in Jesus is blasphemy.

Since these biblical words are so vague there are hundreds of different interpretations starting from the early Christians all the way up to the current day theologians. Einstein was quoting Occam’s Razor when he said the simplest answer if usually the correct answer.  I recently came across an Amish interpretation and that is blasphemy against the Spirit that seems to be as simple as it can get.  This particular Amish person said

“blasphemy is speaking for God”.

In my mind that means putting words in God’s mouth that were never there in the first place. Could it really be that simple? Could God be saying he wants his presence to be individually felt by each of us by looking into our own hearts and not just listening to others opinions about him.

It doesn’t take a serious theologian to understand that speaking for God is how the majority of current religious doctrine has been formed. One person expanding/explaining what he thinks God means.  I don’t know the simple answer to what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit means so I will kind of discount these particular words as not being a major part of my personal belief system.  To me God will remain all about of  hope and forgiveness…

Indoctrination and God…

2015-08-11_08-49-14WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL:  I did a survey of 1,000 nonreligious parents to find out exactly that. And the top reason cited was, people weren’t sure how to talk about religion without indoctrinating their kids into what they believed themselves. That was a hard line.

The other one was interacting with religious family members and keeping the peace in families. When you’re raising a child who is in a secular household, how do you bridge the gap between the older generations who may be more rigidly religious?

JEFFREY BROWN: This word indoctrinating is an important one, because it comes up time and time again here. What’s the difference between indoctrinating and guiding children, right?


Indoctrination, I see, as almost the antithesis of critical thinking. Of course it’s fine to guide your children, but I see indoctrination as sort of this middle ground between full-on brainwashing and guidance. it’s stronger than — it’s stronger than just merely guidance.

I see indoctrination as telling children that there is only one way to believe, and that all other ways and people who believe all other things are less worthy of our respect, less intelligent, less moral. It’s that — that’s the crucial issue, because I think that, when you do that, you set up your child to be bigoted against those who don’t believe the way that you do. You know, we are — it’s not a black-and-white world

Source: The secular parent’s guide to teaching kids about faith.

Although not important to the purposes of this post, the interview above is about a book Wendy Thomas Russell wrote about how to discuss the topic of God with your children.  I know for the very religious fundamentalists among us the idea that we indoctrinate or brainwash our kids into believing what we believe is tantamount to heresy. But to the secular or even those of us who are spiritual but not particularly religious it seems to be a viable statement.

As mentioned several times on this blog I did a very serious ten year study over at RedLetterLiving on the topic of beliefs and religion. During that time I learned just how diverse the beliefs in God are. There are currently over 35,000 different versions of Christianity and each one believes they are the ones who have it right.  From personal experiences I learned this truth the hard way in being told I didn’t tow the line close enough and informed I was no longer welcomed.

“Telling children that there is only one way to believe, and that all other ways and people who believe all other things are less worthy of our respect, less intelligent, less moral” as the article mentions is the primary reason there is so much violence in the world today.  90% of the violence in the hotbed Middle East is muslims fighting each other. The other ten percent is their hate for the U.S.

I am very much a follower of Jesus Christ but not so much what his church, or any religion for that matter, has become.  If we ever want to see peace come to this earth we have got to get over thinking that when it comes to God our way is the only way. We Christians just need stop saying our particular brand of religion is the only “true” one.

The Thing Is…..

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…

Red Letter Living

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 {Sundays on the re-blog} on posts about that journey into the Bible. I have always been a little hesitant to voice my discoveries because if they…

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If God is Love Where Does Hate Come From?

My wife and I watched a DVR copy of the recent TV movie entitled “Amish Grace” last night. This is the movie about the man who shot ten girls in an Amish school house a few years back and then took his own life. Six of the girls died. The main theme of the movie was about forgiveness and not letting hate overpower you. The Amish community in Pennsylvania where it happened quickly forgave the man who committed the act and even helped the family of the murderer cope with the tragedy. As I have mentioned in the past the commitment to God that the Amish have totally impresses me. Fortunately the movie did not focus on the brutal act itself but instead on the forgiveness. It would have been very easy for most people who experienced this kind of tragedy to be filled with hate for the perpetrator.

This movie got me to thinking about just where hate comes from. Many discount the works of Satan in this world. They say that he is not a real being but instead just a concept. But I do believe that Satan exists and that hate is his primary tool for ensnaring his victims. It seems that there is much hate in the U.S. today so I guess I would say that Satan might be getting a strangle hold on us as a society. Being a U.S. history buff I am well aware that political partisanship has been a constant in one degree or another throughout our history. But I believe that it is morphing into something much more dreadful in very recent years among some of us. This is evidenced by the recent decision of several well respected people in congress who have decided to not run for re-election this year. Most often one of the primary reasons for not running is the tainted atmosphere in Washington today.

On a recent trip to Kansas I visited the high school that has been turned into a memorial to the Brown vs. the Board of Education lawsuit that started racial integration in the 1960’s. One picture on a wall is of a young girl, probably in the late teens, that is screaming at one of the black kids entering the segregated high school in Little Rock. I had seen this picture several times before but for some reason this time the pure hatred on the face of the girl totally struck me. I included a photo of it at the top of this post and as you can see it was a very scary thing. I often wonder about that young girl and how her life might be today. I have even said prayers for her even though I don’t know her. But that was not the last time I have seen that same look. It was also evident on several faces in the recent Tea Party rally in Washington that was protesting the healthcare reform law that recently passed. Their very antagonistic placards were also evidence of that hatred. Now I am not saying that all people in that rally were hateful but the ones shown in those pictures definitely were filled with hate. It was obvious from their faces and their signs. It was again a scary reminder of Satan’s presence in the world today.

“Filled with hate” is a very appropriate term. Hate starts out grabbing a small corner of our minds but if we don’t let it go it then, much like an aggressive cancer, it quickly overtakes much of the person’s total being. That is why there are numerous places in the bible where God tells us to fill ourselves with love, even for our enemies. He wants us to never allow hate even start within us. If we allow hate into our minds we are giving Satan a grip into our very souls. I know, given some circumstance such as the Amish incident I started the post out with, it is very difficult to not hate someone or something. But we, especially us Christians, must be very aware of the deadly effects of hate and fight it back when it crops up in our minds. We can disagree with someone but still love them. Hate simply does not have any place in a Christian’s life.

<<  by at>>>

Earth As a Proving Ground??

Why did God go to all the trouble to create the universe? By any standards that was a massive undertaking. I am one who believes in the day age interpretation of the Bible.  In the last century or so God has given us the scientific understanding to know that the creation of the universe took millions if not billions of years to complete. Why did he go through all that trouble? But for God a billion years might only be a day. Who know?

One explanation for God creating the universe including the infinitely small corner of it called the Earth was that he intends it to be a proving ground for what kind of person we choose to be. We all start out on this earth in basically the same conditions; that is we come naked from our mother’s womb. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a caring family and someone who can give us a life that will allow us to live up to our full potential. Many unfortunately are also given a life of day-to-day desperation.  But it is up to each of us to decide via our actions just what type of human being we want to be.

One story in the Bible is that some of us become sheep and some of us become goats and in the end times Jesus will come back and separate us into those two categories. I don’t really understand the difference between sheep and goats; I kind of like them both but that is another story. 🙂  Anyway there are several other stories about how God will come in the end times for the “final” judgment.  How many of these stories are just allegory I don’t know but I know when I leave this earth, as all of us must, I will meet my Maker. When he judges me I am absolutely sure he will bring up the words of Jesus to compare what Jesus told me to do verses what I eventually did. Will that judgement make me a sheep or a goat? That seems to be totally up to me.  Will the judgment have an effect on whether I am with God or not from that time forward?  There are numerous places in the Bible where God seems to put conditions on that happening. There are also a few where St. Paul seems to say otherwise.  But in some ways it really doesn’t matter to me. I will spend my life studying Jesus’ words and trying to live my life by them. Whether that gets me in heaven or not is totally up to God; I will not spend much time fretting over that. I will spend the time I have on earth enjoying his creation and living my life by the words of Jesus. I do this because I must; I do this because he is my creator and told me what he expects of me and that is to be my brother’s keeper.

<<This post is a re-blog from one of my other blogs at from April 20, 2011>>

We’re worshipping religion, not God….

We’re worshipping religion, not God. It’s hard, when we’ve been endowed with these amazing buildings, these historic legacies and these time-honored traditions, not to mistake them for the thing we’re supposed to really focus on. To paraphrase the recent TV show, ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ religion isn’t the thing; it’s the thing that gets us to the thing.

Organized religion, and all that comes with it, is a means to an end. It’s intent is to facilitate community, spiritual growth, mutual accountability, worship of God and transformation of the world around us. But so much of our energy in recent decades has gone into propping up aging, hollowed out institutions and preserving empty rituals for the sake of themselves that we’ve turned them into the golden calf, taking precedent over God and the Gospel at the center of our hearts. We’ve fallen victim to mistaken assumption that we have to resurrect dying religious infrastructures in order to reveal God to ourselves and others. But in doing so, we’ve run the risk of losing connection with God’s call all together.

SOURCE: 5 Reasons Post-Christianty is Good for Followers of Jesus | Christian Piatt | Red Letter Christians.

The words above echo my current thoughts on God and religion. Religion is a means to an end, not the end itself.  I must admit that all the amazing buildings as the quote above says have an opposite effect on me. I was recently in a suburban church for a funeral and as I looked at the lavish building I wondered just how many people could have been helped if they had spent half what that did for the building and spent the rest on the community.  It saddens me to think this way but that is just how I am wired I guess….

I love this quote. I will have to put it on the top of my list of favorites.

religion isn’t the thing

it’s the thing that gets us to the thing

Muzzling God….

Time and again, those who opposed Jesus would quote Scripture. They would remind him of the Sabbath law, the requirement to fast, the provision for divorce, and the penalty for adultery. Jesus seemed unimpressed with a person’s ability to quote Scripture. His interest was in a person’s ability to hear God’s voice. He said, “He who belongs to God hears what God says” (John 8:47). To limit the word of God to the written word is to muzzle God.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person

Hating The Poor….

Homeless“Americans react to the poor with disgust,” said Susan Fiske, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University and the originator of the neuroimaging tests. She has studied attitudes toward the poor for a dozen years. “It’s the most negative prejudice people report, greater even than racism,“ Fiske stated.

No doubt part of that response is aesthetic. Some of those who are very poor – especially those living on the streets – smell bad and are unkempt and shabbily dressed. But a deeper part of the response is moral. The poor are stripped of value in the eyes of many. They are seen as useless, and not just useless, but an actual drain on the more productive and affluent members of society. Not only do they fail to add anything positive to the world, they actually subtract value, like trash piled on a lawn.

How can we see God while despising the needy among us? Scripture declares that it is impossible. “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). Spiritual blindness is the inevitable consequence of hating the poor.

SOURCE:  Craig M. Watts: Hating the Poor but Loving Jesus? | Red Letter Christians.

In some ways it doesn’t surprise me that there is such a negative prejudice towards the poor.  I know many of my more conservative friends simply can go on and on about all those who scream about how their hard-earned tax dollars have been leached away from them by people too lazy to work.  They don’t use the term “the 47%” but they seem to be very much attuned to that notion. They, maybe unjustifiably, seem  to just have an ingrained animosity toward those living on the margins.

But then there is the book so idolized by many called the Bible that has a quite different take on the matter. It actually tells us to give them the shirt off our backs. It even show where the leader of Christianity told one rich man to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor.  These words are anything but hatred of the poor.

So, how can these to seemingly opposite characteristics be contained in the same body of people? Many in that group who have even bothered to think about it say that they are just sinners and therefore God doesn’t expect anything else from them. I don’t know about you but I call that a cop-out of gigantic proportions. God expects much more from us that we will ever admit.

But I am just a simple guy so what do I know…

Why God Is a ‘Mother,’ Too….


MotherLong before I became familiar with the academic debates concerning calling God “Mother,” debates that I am now currently a part of as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, I was being raised in a household where I instinctively understood that the divine presence was manifest in the loving hands and arms of mothers, and most especially in the life of my grandmother who raised me. My grandmother’s kitchen was a theological laboratory where she taught me how to love people just as naturally as she taught me to make peach cobbler and buttermilk biscuits. I watched and listened as she ministered to the sick and the lost, with a Bible in one hand and a freshly baked pound cake in the other, despite having no official ministry role.

I knew that if God was real, if God truly loved me as a parent loves a child, then God was also “Mother” and not only “Father.” Only years of dogma and doctrine force you to unlearn what you know to be true in your own heart, demanding “Father” as the only acceptable appellation and concept for God.

Source: Why God Is a ‘Mother,’ Too |

God is love. There is no doubt about it for me that is the primary definition. Although I myself lacked a loving earthly mother I see that love manifested all around me.

Happy Mother’s day….

Abraham Lincoln’s God…..


Starry NightI never behold the heavens filled with stars that I do not feel I am looking in the face of God. I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist. but I cannot conceive how he could lie looking up into the heavens and say there is no God.

When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Saviour’s condensed statement of the substance of both law and Gospel. “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and thy neighbor as thyself.” that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul. Abraham Lincoln

I have scores of books of quotations from many different people but one of them that I enjoy the most, besides Will Rogers of course :), is Abraham Lincoln.  He had a way of being able to find just the right words to say something simply but in the most meaningful way. The above quotes are a glowing example.

I was a moody kid growing up. I was much too serious for my young age. In that regard I used to spend hours looking up at the sky at night. It was a wondrous sight to behold. It seems I remember that there were many more stars visible in my early years than now. Could that be because of childhood perceptions or maybe increased air pollution? That is beyond the topic of this post so I will leave it unanswered.

In my studies of Jesus and religion I have come to very much agree with Lincoln’s second quote here. The very core of the message of Jesus is to love God with all your heart and to love each other.  Unfortunately it seems to be lost, or at least vastly shrunken in importance, in many of today’s churches. It is nice to know that Abe believed this long before I did.

By the way, I am still looking for that church at puts others ahead of their membership…..

That Bearded Guy Up There…..

I am starting a new category here for some Sunday posts. As some of you know I have been blogging about living by the red letters, meaning the words of Jesus found in the Bible, for several years now. Since that blog, even though it has been running longer, does not get the readership of this one I thought I would bring a few of my favorite posts here for your thoughts.

***** Posted September 20, 1012 **********

Many of us Christians never seem to give up our childhood views of just who God is. We think of him as that white bearded guy up in heaven. True, we do add some things to this vision as we get older we see him as that guy who spends his day saying “You go to heaven; you go to hell”.  We often view Jesus in the same childhood comprehension. Jesus is that long-haired, brown-bearded guy who sits around all day playing with sheep and always has children gathered around him.

When we grow in wisdom of him and finally come to see God as the light within each of us then we discover that one of the reasons Jesus came was to teach us how to live as God intended.  As we study Jesus’ words the real Jesus emerges and our childhood images fade into the background. Many churches today are stuck in the childhood Jesus mode and as a result never take the Christian life seriously. As cited in the Lord’s Prayer he intends us to do our part in making his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Contrary to what many current church denominations believe our task is not to just make an altar-call and then sit back and wait to go to heaven! While we are on this earth we have a many other daily, even hourly, responsibilities.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood  behind me.  – 1 Corinthians 13:11

God never intends us to remain as children in our knowledge of him. He expects us to study his word and get to know him better as we become mature men and women. Yes our trust in Jesus should remain childlike but our knowledge of him and his purpose for coming to us should grow as we age.  When we fixate on one or even a few particular verses found in the Bible and ignore all the others we have a very limited view of God.  That is definitely not what he intends.

Being Right….

One of the inspiring lessons I have learned in the last few years is about being right.  To start this post I want to re-post a little about what I said about being right a couple of years ago.

Let Others Be “Right” Most of the Time

From: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Richard Carlson makes the statement

“Do I want to be ‘right’ — or do I want to be happy?” Many times, the two are mutually exclusive

This is certainly a very hard lesson for some of us to learn. But we must realize as Mr. Carlson states that Being right, defending our positions, takes an enormous amount of energy. Since to the person you are trying to prove you are right to most often translates that to they are wrong.

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God, I think you kinda messed up….

Hi God, I know I talk to you often but usually not in so public a sphere. But I think I need to let others know about this.  God, I think you kinda messed up!   I know I am just a little guy that is occupying a very small space on this earth for a very short period of time. I know you are infinitely, and I mean infinitely, smarter than I am but I got to come right out and ask you why you gave us men so much testosterone?  It just seems to be the root of so much of our problems on earth.

Scientists tell us that testosterone is the reason that we constantly beat our chests and have to prove how tough and macho we are. It is the reason why we get so much enjoyment out of watching one person beat the tar out of another person in many of our sports. It just seems to drive so much of our lives especially when we are teenagers. We think with the organ below our waists more than the one above our shoulders during those years.  If we only had a little less testosterone then maybe we could just get along with each other a little more? Since we are oozing the stuff we are constantly trying to prove that we are the pack leaders of the world and everyone else is wrong about anything that we don’t agree with.  It seems we gallop into a war to take out the “bad guys” instead of using our brains to find another solution to a problem.

I’m not fully on board with all the current views of evolution but I kind of understand that if we were once cavemen we needed an abundant supply of testosterone to keep us alive. But isn’t evolution about adapting to a changing world? If that is really the case then why haven’t we lost some of our testosterone in at least the last few millennia? Why do we still have some much of this stuff that gets us in so much trouble?

I’m going to end my prayer here.  Thanks for listening and if you can work it out try to solve this biology problem for us. It sure would make it easier to live peacefully in this world and to love one another as you commanded us to do…..