When They Go Low, You Go High…

2016-10-29_07-48-59.pngI guess this will be my last post for a while about melding your religion and your politics into one bag.  To me it is the same thing as mixing horse manure and ice cream. It doesn’t hurt the manure but it sure does stink up the ice cream!  (I wish I knew the source for this thought as I would give them credit.)  No political party is worthy of our allegiance, that belongs totally to our Lord. I use the Red Letter Living quote below to illustrate that fact:

We do truly stand at a crossroads, a crossroad of the soul. In the time of crisis we have a choice to make. Will we sink to justifying hurt to protect our self interest, or will we rise to show grace, mercy, and goodness in the middle of all the ugliness and fear? In that sense the gospel is deeply personal, but it is not only personal, but also social and political. The central message Jesus preached was the “kingdom of God” ― a term whose meaning is perhaps better conveyed today as “God’s politics” that is, God’s way of organizing life together. The values and way Jesus showed us do not stop when we get to the political or public sphere. They are not intended to be tossed aside when things get tough. As Jesus says on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel,

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Mt 5:43-48, MSG)

Speaking from a time of crisis himself, Matthew has an important message that we need to hear today in our time of crisis. He calls us to respond in the way of Jesus, a way characterized by grace, forgiveness, and enemy love. When they go low, you go high.

Source: Trump, Jesus, & America’s Crisis – Red Letter Christians

We have a choice in this election between two very different presidential candidates. Now I will admit that neither is without fault but one just seems to be the opposite of my spiritual beliefs and the words above. I would no more consider him for president than I would mix my ice cream with horse manure…

The Stone Ceiling of Religions

There are a lot of things about today’s religious establishments that hinder their outreach to the 21st century population. The glass, or maybe stone ceiling is one of them.

Faith leaders grappling with women’s inclusion in religious leadership roles are in danger of the same pitfall. By focusing exclusively on “what is traditional” for their religion rather than asking the crucial question: “What change is necessary for religion to thrive?” they risk alienating 50 per cent of their flock. They also deprive the entire community of the talent, skills and enthusiasm that women would otherwise contribute.Insisting
that men continue to wear the trousers when it comes to religion might be traditional, but, as the pantalon rouge debacle illustrates, it may not be worth the price.

Source: Religion must either modernise or face obsolescence

I know much of the Christian establishment takes their traditions in this matter from the Apostle Paul, who by the way was a lifelong bachelor, instead of Jesus who had several women in his inner sanctum.  To me it is important to realize that early Christian writings, including much of the New Testament, were written at a time that women were not much above slaves in the social hierarchy.  It would take another 20 centuries that women began to be accepted on an equal basis as men.

Just because most religions started a couple of millennia ago doesn’t mean that they should be stuck in that time period. Things change and the church should change with them. I am willing to bet that Jesus would celebrate women being in full leadership roles today, even if it was unheard of in his day.  I think the church would be better off but instead we stick to following centuries old traditions that were formed by ancient cultures as if somehow they were better than today.

If religion is to strive, or maybe even exist, it must use all human resources at its disposal.

 

In the Name of Jesus, Stop Executions

I am thoroughly pro-life in all its forms.  Yes, abortion kills a living being but so does war and executions. Pro-life means believing in the sanctity of life before and after birth. Jesus made that pretty clear in his teachings and I intend to follow him in that and most all other regards.

Some folks will argue that the death penalty is necessary for the most heinous crimes, the “worst of the worst.” But it is increasingly clear that when it comes to executions in America, we are not killing the worst of the worst. We are killing the poorest of the poor. One of the best determinants of who gets executed is not the atrocity of the crime, but the resources of the defendant. As renowned death penalty lawyer Bryan Stevenson has said, “Far too often, you are better off being rich and guilty, than poor and innocent.”….

Geography often determines who dies. Texas is the death state, accounting for roughly half of all executions. This year six of the 15 executions in the U.S. were in Texas, and every remaining execution of 2016 is in this one state…

It blows my mind and breaks my heart that we continue to trust our very imperfect government with the ultimate and irreversible power of life and death. It is time to end the death penalty in America. In the name of Jeff Wood. And in th2016-08-20_06-47-21e name of another executed man … named Jesus.

 

Source: In the Name of Jesus, Stop Executions – Red Letter Christians

It is amazing to me that one State is responsibly for half the executions in this country.  What is it about Texas that makes it the execution capital of the world? Why are they so intent on vengeance, even wrongfully pointed vengeance? There must be something significantly different about the people in that region of the country than the rest of us. Anyone who has read many of my posts know I don’t have much respect for the State of Texas. For being such a bible-thumping State they just don’t seem to care about people, especially people different from them.

Geography,  race, and wealth,  have much more to do with who dies by execution than the type of crime committed. Thanks again Shane for helping me remember that….

 

Mixing Ice Cream With Horse Manure…

One of the things that finally drove me away from organized religion was the political side of it. Maybe the pastor was not the leader of this but he certainly didn’t try to contain it either. The politics of religion just poisoned me to it. So, when I came across the article from Red Letter Christians it got my immediate attention.

2016-07-24_08-00-44.pngAs my friend Tony Campolo likes to say, “Mixing Christianity up with a political party is like trying to mix ice-cream with horse manure. It doesn’t do much damage to the manure, but it sure messes up the ice-cream.”

Christianity becomes toxic when we lose track of Jesus….

We begin to see pastors talking more about their favorite candidate than their Savior. We begin to hear crowds chanting Trump or Hillary instead of Hosanna. We start to sing the praises of other names than the name above all names.

So I want to simply invite those of us who claim to be Christians to PAUSE. And to set our minds on Jesus.

When we lose our focus on Christ, we begin to talk a lot about stuff Jesus didn’t say much about, and we don’t talk much about the things Jesus had a whole lot to say about.

SOURCE:  Red, White & Blue People – Red Letter Christians

These are my feeling exactly!  Too much politics and hypocrisy, too little Jesus.

I am going to borrow a phrase from my previous pastor which he received from his son who was a pastor before him.  “Just give them Jesus”. The most stringent application of these words were probably from Thomas Jefferson’s Bible.  He spent years making a bible around just the words of Jesus. He ignored all the rules that Paul invented and even the miracles that Jesus supposedly performed as not being germane to Christianity.

I have a copy of the Jefferson Bible on my computer and find myself reading it on a regular basis. To me it gives me pure ice-cream. It is amazing that I have been unable to find any religious denomination that even comes close to concentrating on the purity of Jesus’ words. Too many seem to concentrate more on the rules of St. Paul than on the words of Jesus.  Too many invent totally unnecessary rules to live by that have nothing to do with Jesus’ words.

I am sad to say but I think there is just too much manure mixed with Christian ice-cream in too many places that take the mantel of Christianity.

Just Give Them Jesus.