Friday, May 19, 2017

"P.A.B."


"He did everything wrong, offended almost every people group, but I believe he won because of God.  He wanted him in that position and (Trump's) going to stay in that position until (God's) vision is complete."
Franklin Graham

"Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.”
Jeremiah Johnson

http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/religion/2017/05/16/franklin-graham-christianity-under-attack-believers-should-engage-politics/325667001/

http://beholdthemanministries.com/prophesy-donald-trump-shall-become-the-trumpet/

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
1 Tim 4:1&2

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Eph. 6:12



Have you ever heard someone called a P.A.B. before?  You probably have, just not in that abbreviated form.  If you don't know what a PAB is, I'll give you a hint.  It's a shortened descriptor.  The P stands for "Punk."  I'll let you guess the rest.  😏😏😏


____________________



This post will be kind of an easy one.  I get to post plenty of pictures to illustrate my points.  This one you see here is from Pres. Voldemort's speech at the Coast Guard Academies' graduation a few days ago.

If you didn't hear the speech, you should try to at least listen to some snippets.  It was pure Trump at his best.  Most commencement speeches talk about the future and encourage the graduates to go out and make a difference.  Voldemort did that...just in his own special way.

It was ALL about him.

Basically, he used himself as the example of one who can preserve, so they should too.  If he an do it, despite all of the terrible persecution he has faced, they can do it!!!!  Hurray.

At the top of this post, I put in two quotes, with links underneath them to original sources.  The first was of Franklin Graham opining that God's hand is upon the anointed God Emperor Trump.  which is what Franklin has believed from the beginning.

The second is from Jeremiah Johnson, a Prophet of God. (Okay.) I don't know much about him.  He doesn't seem like a nut-bag. (Although I do know that there are a lot of ministries down there in Lakeland, FL. that cater to the craziest of crazies.) I guess he was right in one respect.  Voldemort got elected.

I think he might be on to something, just not in the way he expected. (More on that later.)

What I DID find interesting in his "Prophecy" was this part of the quote, "Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.”

Really?  A helping hand to the poor, needy and strangers?!?!?!  Really?

I take it that God didn't bother listening to Trump's comments about immigrants, Muslims or refugees.  Perhaps even the divine can develop hearing loss after a period of eternal existence.

As far as the poor and needy go, has anyone bothered to look at Trump's budget proposal???

I fully believe that the Spiritual Gifts are alive and well.  But I'm not sure that Jeremiah has them.





Okay, I put this picture in here just because it's hysterical.  This is a photo from Trump's speech at Liberty University.  I think the expression on the NON-White fellow's face says all you need to know.
____________________


Franklin Graham backs Voldemort because he is convinced that Christianity is under attack in this country.

DUHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  When has Christianity NOT been under attack????  Christians have been in a minority in every single society it has ever existed in.  It was also been at war with the dark forces of this world from the get go.  Do you read the bible or not?!?!?!

The problem with Franklin and many, many other folks is that they believe the idolatrous lie that at some point, America (England, France, Germany...western Europe in general, too.) was a "Christian" country.  Biblically and theologically, there is no such thing...other Jesus' kingdom. You know, the one that he said was "Not of this world." (John 18:36)

BTW: That doesn't mean that America is a bad place by any stretch.  It just means that I'm not confusing it with being Jesus' favorite.

Franklin and many others believe that the rights of Christians are being taken away by secular Liberals and what not.  Voldemort said he would protect our liberties, so he is clearly God's anointed.

Voldemort did issue and Executive Order to not fully enforce the Johnson Amendment.  That made Franklin smile. (It is also such a toothless amendment that the ACLU didn't even bother sniffing about it.)

Also, Voldemort appointed Neal Gorsuch (Sp.) to the Supreme Court (I actually like him.) to keep a Conservative majority.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again; the previous conservative court majority gave us Obamacare and gay marriage.  I can't wait to see what this conservative majority does for us.

The problem with Franklin and other "Persecuted" Alt-Right Evangelicals is that the live under a lie...a delusion of their own enjoyment.  It has more to do with "White Privilege" than anything else.  Think of it as "Cultural Christian Privilege."  We've had it our way for so long, to see anything different is a threat.

If I have to stand next to a man in a dress, with false boobs, while I take a leak, I'M OPPRESSED!!!  If two mannish looking women ask me to bake a cake for their wedding, I'M OPPRESSED!!!!  If a muslim student at the local high school gets a day off for Ramadan, I'M OPPRESSED!!!

Extending equal rights in a pluralistic society is not oppression.

It's not that I see eye to eye with these folks.  I just don't see any advantage to them hiding in the shadows.  Please explain to me how keeping others down, and living in secret, benefits me or anyone else?


The fact of the matter is that I doubt Franklin or his kind even know many muslims, or Trans people, or what EVER. (I've been trying to get to know some trans folks, because I don't get it at ALL.)  Odds are, these folks don't know the real resurrected Jesus.  If they did, they would let him help and heal them with these issues.

It's pretty obvious that Muslims don't know the true Jesus.  It's a heck of a lot easier to befriend, help and talk to them about Christ over here than it is there.

Why would I want to keep these folks hidden?  It's hard to develop a proper relationship in which to share the Gospel with someone who is kept in a box.

____________________

The truth of the matter is that we ultimately wrestle with spiritual forces.  Politicians aren't much help in this area.  Only the resurrected Jesus is.

I figured out a long time ago that I am a minority where ever I go.  AND, whether I am in the U.S., Canada, Norway, China or Bangladesh, I am ultimately in Rome and Babylon.  I am a stranger in a strange land.  The church has always been at it's best when it understood it's minority and prosecuted status.

We live in a world that is hostile to God, and hostile to the Gospel.  It has always been that way.  Get used to that!  Rejoice in it!  Once you free yourself from the illusions, it's much easier to follow Jesus into his true kingdom.  He is the only one to put your hope in.  The ONLY one!  Certainly not some gutter level politician who gives you hollow promises.

____________________


Back to the "Prophet," Jeremiah Johnson.  He said that God raised up Trump to be his "Trumpet" in America.  As I said before, I think he may be onto something...but not exactly what "The Prophet" is expecting.

Maybe, just maybe, God did raise Trump up.  After all God is intimately involved with every raindrop that falls, so why not politics?

So the question is; Why?

Is it possible that God raised this man up, simply to let him fall on his face?  The man appears to be doing exactly that on a daily basis.

Did God raise this man up simply to use him to humiliate the "Americanized" church?  I hope so.

Perhaps, the coming fall of Trump will be the bitch-slap in the face to a church that has largely sold it's soul to secular politics.  I think that God must be mighty tired of so many of his followers putting their faith in politics of any kind, let alone Alt-Right kookery.  Perhaps, Trump is the very tool that God uses to smack to the ground  the very people who profess to love him, yet put their faith in idols

God's done it before....many, many times.  I see no reason why he can't do it again.

The final question is; Will the church listen?

Or will it remain, just like it's current idol, a...

P.A.B!


Peace...I hope.

Joe





Friday, April 28, 2017

Babel-ON



Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.  And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 
But YHWH came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And YHWH said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.  Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  SoYHWH scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.  Therefore its name is called Babel, because there YHWH confused the language of all the earth; and from there  YHWH scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Gen. 11:1-9


That picture at the top is a Ziggurat...an ancient staircase of sorts.  This here is another picture of a Ziggurat with U.S. soldiers on a sight seeing tour.  They are fairly common in the Syria, Iraq and Iran.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  But they all have in common is that back in the day, the ancients were trying to create a "Sacred Space" for their gods.  All Ziggurats were next to or on top of temples.  There is a debate as to wether the staircase was for folks to go up to the gods, or for the gods to come down. (Most are pretty sure it was for the local god to come down)


____________________


It's been a tough week for my Dad.  He had knee surgery on Monday, and has been in a lot of pain ever since.  I had to go to my folk's place after work on Monday to help lift him out of a chair and into his walker.  I've never seen him look so week.

Yesterday and the day before, I had to babysit him while my Mom and sister were out.  He's getting better fast, but is still in pain.  He also hasn't pooped in 7 days now. (TMI!!!!!) I'm concerned that when he does, we'll need to have him squatting in the garden, due to the amount of compost he is sure to expel.

At any rate, since I had to babysit, I brought along my Jewish study bible to read.  I'm determined to read through the entire Old Testament eventually.  I can't wait until I hit Leviticus and Numbers.  That's sure to be a hoot. 😑😑😑

What I like about this study bible is how much thorough commentary there is in it.  My NIV study bible is fairly watered down for my tastes.  They don't want to say anything controversial, and it's clear that they try to find an uncomfortable consensus.  It ends up being like Garth Brooks' music.  Finding solace in the lowest common denominator, and all wishy-washy.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading about the Tower of Babel, and the Rabbinic commentary on it.  Supposedly, all humans spoke the same language at that time...or at least in this area. (Depends on how much of a Fundie you are.) But what's interesting if you are paying any attention at all, is that only 2 sentences before the beginning of this story, in the account of the Table of Nations from Noah's family line it clearly says, "These are the descendants of Shem according to their clans and languages, by their lands, according to their nations." (Get. 10:31) In fact, jump back to 10:5, and it says, "each with it's language."

So right before the beginning of the story of the Tower of Bable, the bible says that their were all these other languages being spoken.  Someone hostile to Scripture would point out this glaring contradiction and laugh.  Actually, they should laugh...and I'll tell you why in a minute.

So, blatant contradiction????  I mean, it's a bit unlikely that whoever was writing this down didn't notice those other sentences.  So what's going on?!?!?



This is one of those instances 
where linguistic and culture context 
need to be reaffirmed as being of central performance.  


In other words, the bible doesn't get it wrong.  
It's WE who so often get the bible wrong.

For starters, we have to remember who the Old Testament was written to, and why.  The O.T.s final form was completed during the time of Israel's exile in Babylon and within a few generations after that.  It was NOT written to 21st Century Americans any more than it was written to 18th Century Japan.

It was written for us, because it's God's word.  But it wasn't written to us.  So what ever you do, don't try and read our modern concepts of science, history, journalism and what not, into a culture that had no knowledge of or cared about those sorts of things.

If you try and read our concepts into this ancient text, you'll end up with "Name it & claim it" prosperity preaching or Young Earth Creationism.



Okay, so here's why you should laugh at this story.  It was meant to be funny.  Near as I can tell this is a satire of the Babylonians...an ancient version, anyway.


There's actually a LOT of humor in the bible.  It's easy for it to get lost in translation.  So that's another reason to stick to as much cultural context as possible.  Here's one for ya.  Most people don't know it, but the book of Jonah is actually a comedy...a bit like Alice down the Rabbit hole.  Try reading it that way some time, and you will pick up on the comedy themes in it.


If you've ever watched a skit on SNL or Key & Peele, you know what a satire is.  Are those skits meant to be an actual historical account?  Of course not.  But they're REAL!

There are a whole lot of digs at the Babylonians in the O.T.  Starting with the ancient Hebrew's alternative creation story.  Remember, the Babylonians conquered and exiled the Jews.  Now, this conquered people are getting a little payback.

The center of this story is the motivation for the building of this tower.  It wasn't to honor any god or gods.  It was meant to honor the people building it!  "To make a name for ourselves." A major no-no!

The humor comes when YHWH actually takes a look to see what's going on.  He actually has to come down out of heaven to even see this thing.  "Oooooh, look eeeeeeeeet's so tiny." (Say that with a high pitched voice.) Then he even brings the sarcasm about how if these folks can pull this off, YHWH is in big trouble.  So he grabs his divine council, heads on down and drops a bomb on their tongues using only his thought.

It's essentially the ancient near-eastern equivalent of someone pointing out to a big, buff muscle guy that his schwanzstucker is barely 3 inches of swinging death. (Okay, crude I know.  But you get the point.)  And that IS funny!

This is why I love the bible so much, especially in it's ancient context.  Sure, they didn't have iPods and what not, but it's the same old same old when it comes to human nature.  We really love to think that we're all that and a bag of chips.  There really is nothing new under the sun.  We have the very same issues today that they had thousands of years ago.

I mean, look at our current President.  A living, breathing pile of anti-social narcissism. "I alone can fix it."  He thinks he's God's gift to America, and far, far too many so-called "Leaders" in the church think so too.  All this from a man who said recently, "Who knew fixing health care would be so difficult?" Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh........

None of us should be all that enamored over our ability to successfully tie our own shoes.  God is no respecter of persons.  He isn't impressed by our ability to build a tall building or create one of those new fangled wireless devices.

Through his creative and sustaining will, this God holds the vastness of the universe together.  Every drop of rain that falls, ever blade of grass that grows, does so by his will.  Building a tower out of bricks isn't going to win you any gold stars next to your name.  Nor is your ability to repeatedly cheat on your wife and get away with it.

I wasn't much into science as a kid.  Now that I'm older and NPR has the podcast and radio show, "Radio Lab," I'm getting more and more into it.  Still, with every scientific discovery of how God goes about his business in the natural world, I realize how much we still don't know.  It makes me wonder if God is sitting on his throne saying something along the lines of, "Well, that took you long enough."

Here, now you can get your "Nerd" on along with me...
http://www.radiolab.org

____________________

The ancient Hebrews were a gutsy bunch.  They were an exiled minority in an Empire that thought it was the baddest boy on the block.  Yet, these ancient Hebrews compiled a library of books that said, A) We are still God's chosen people.  He still loves us. B) This isn't over.  Our God isn't done with us yet.  C) Your tiny little gods are a true joke!  They didn't do anything.  Our God is the real one who created everything.  And D) In fact, you Babylonians are kind of a joke, too.  You might be big and buff, but that tiny schwanzstucker of yours is not impressive!

You have to admit, that's pretty gutsy.
(I suppose it helps when you have the Holy Spirit guiding your writing.)



I guess the ultimate moral of this satire is this; never be arrogant in front of anyone, especially not YHWH.  He might just teach you a lesson.  And apparently, he has no problem using humor to do it.


He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord/YHWH require of you?  To act justly and to show mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8


Good advice, that.  
Certainly beats trying to build a stairway to heaven.


Peace

Joe




P.S. For more resources on these sorts of things, recommend this video.  I also HIGHLY recommend John Walton's books, "The Lost World of Adam and Eve," and "The Lost World of Genesis One."  Finally, Dr. Peter Enn's "Genesis for Normal People."




Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter & Reality; a Semi-Lament.


"Precious and fragile things, need special handling.  My God, what have we done to you?

We always tried to share, the tenderest of care.  Now look what we have put you through.

Angels with silver wings, shouldn't know suffering.  I wish I could take the pain for you.

If God has a master plan, that only He understands, I hope it's your eyes He's seeing through.

Things get damaged.  Things get broken.  I thought we'd manage.  But words left unspoken, left us so brittle, there was so little left to give."
Depeche Mode

I'm pretty sure that this is the first & only time I've begun a blog post without any Scripture verses.  Hmmmm...

And today is Easter...
and, yes, he HAS risen.


Also, I know I haven't posted in a LONG time.  I had some problems with Blogger, and I am far from being the most technologically proficient guy.  I had a friend help me out.  Thanks to him, things should be running fairly smoothly for me from here on out...at least as far as this online thing goes.

The rest of my life, not so much...

____________________


Let me state for the record that I am a truly terrible Christian.  
In fact, at best I am a "Second Class Christian."

#1. I have been told by certain Charismatic friends that I am disobedient because I have not been "Baptized in the Spirit," with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
#2. I have been told by some Catholics I know that I am in danger of the fires of hell...or at least purgatory, because I have not embraced the true church.
#3. I can be a christian, but I will walk with a spiritual limp because I am not a Calvinist.
#4. I am in error, because I am not a Dispensationalist.
#5. I am a Compromiser & False Teacher, because I have no problem what-so-ever with Evolution and the rest of modern science.

Recently, I've run into more than a few people who are Eastern Orthodox.  In one form or another, they have implied that I am not a part of the true apostolic faith.

It really stinks when you just want to put your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.
I mean, what kind of Christian does that?


If I am lucky enough that God's grace is actually powerful enough to redeem a loser like me, I guess I'll be sitting at the little kid's table in heaven. (That's not such a bad thing.  I'm pretty sure C.S. Lewis will be there with me.)



If I took off my subconscious/emotional/spiritual/"whatever" shirt and showed you my chest and back, you would not see a sculpted work of "buffetude" from some gym work out.  No, what you would see are scars.  Lots and lots of scars. (My Dad told me a month or so ago, that I've seen a lot of pain in this life.  I hadn't thought about it all that much, but he's right.  Mostly in others, but plenty on my own.)

The ugliest and most painful scars that you would see on me are the ones I've been given by my fellow believers.  And they are all over the place on me.


We all have scars.  That's a part of life.  We all carry them in various ways.  Many of us just put on a long sleeve turtleneck sweater in the summer.  Personally, I try to stamp mine into the ground.  It never works.  They're still there.

____________________


As of late, I've been looking for a new church to attend.  Specifically, I'm looking for a church that has a Sunday night service.  I have to work Sunday mornings now, so I don't have a lot of options.  I'm not interested in a Saturday evening service.  I get off really early on Saturdays, so I'd like to fish with my dad or go ride my bicycle.

It's pretty meager pickings trying to find a Sunday night service.

Then there is the problem of ME.  I am a walking, talking, living breathing difficulty.  I've never felt like I truly fit in anywhere.  I'm way too "Contrarian" for my own good.  I'm drawn to controversy, and I love to ask questions. (Christians HATE it when you ask questions!) I thrive on the weird stuff in the bible, and love it when there is stuff there that is either difficult, or impossible to explain.

I HATE simple minded answers!  Towing the party line does not impress me.  All it does is tell me that you are to lazy to think for yourself.  Worse, that you will be completely unprepared to answer the questions of someone who is truly hostile to the bible and the Gospel.  Worst of all, if you are a parent, and you push this nonsense on your kids, don't be surprised when they leave the faith after being confronted with well thought out alternatives, and your simpleminded answers don't have much traction.


Actually, while I'm on this subject, here are two "Easter" themed videos that I really, truly love.  I've read most of Rob Bell's books, and a few by Peter Rollins.  Don't get me wrong, I have some extremely profound differences & disagreements with these guys!!!

But at the same time, I like to get their perspective on things.  They are both thoughtful and highly intelligent.  Plus, I don't really believe that you can know your own opinions properly unless you see it from as many angles as possible, including those you don't see eye to eye with. (And if American christians would stop being so afraid all the time, they might just try that.) Honestly, there is no counter idea/philosophy that has caused my faith in the resurrected Christ to be shaken.

Resurrection: Rob Bell from Rob Bell on Vimeo.



I Deny the Resurrection from Peter Rollins on Vimeo.

The last one there, in particular, makes me think about the general lack of any type of social justice movement among American Evangelicals.  Near as I can tell, Jesus put a high premium on how we treat "The Least of These."  But you almost never hear anything from any of the big Evangelical leaders on these issues.  Not much about poverty, racism, sexism, pollution and creation care, and in some cases being down right anti-emigrant & anti-refugee.  They are "Pro-Birth" to be sure, but after that, they give the whole idea over to the Left, and what is more often than not, watered down Liberal theology.

Rob Bell asked WAY too many questions.  We pushed, shoved and kicked him to the door of standard  Evangelicalism.  When he walked out the door, we all stood back and said, "SEE, I told you so."

A friend of mine once noted to me that she had "Kicked him to the curb a long time ago."  My response was, "Yeah, we Christians are known for kicking people to the curb..."


So, with an attitude like mine,
it makes me a bad fit in most American church bodies... 



At the church I used to attend, I had an incident over a year ago.  Apparently, I am amazingly good at offending the feelings of people who have never bothered to even try to get to know me.  Through a truly stupid, yet innocently intended, comment on social media, I really angered a person at my church body.

Again, this person has never, EVER tried to get to know me, even though I went there for 10 years.  They had never said more than a passing "Hi" to me in all that time.  Yet, my comment, which was NOT directed at them, got them so riled that I was tossed out of a position I was in.

Personally, I would have worked for instant reconciliation if I had been a pastor.  Get the two sides together and find understanding and healing.  But that didn't happen.  I got the boot instead.  So I felt humiliated...still do.  And now I have a brand new scar.

I left the church for a while, feeling completely embarrassed.  I started going back a few months later, but it was never the same.  Every time I see this individual, I feel finger nails pulling at the scab.

The best...or worst part, of being gone was the reaction of people who I thought were my friends at this church.  I invested at least 10 years there, trying to develop relationships...and I really, truly tired my best.  I can count on less than one hand, the number of people who tried to call or get in touch with me.

When I did start going back, most seemed to not notice that I had been gone.  A few did and said things a long the line of, "I was wondering where you were."  Hardly the stuff that gives you confidence and enthusiasm to want to get involved again.


This time around, I told a select handful of people that I wouldn't be coming back due to work.  I told a friend I wanted to see how many people noticed or cared.  So far, nothing.  One pastor, on my last day, said that he wanted to get together and talk about weird stuff in the bible, because he knows I love that stuff.  I told him I would love that and to call me any time, and we could set it up.  He hasn't called.  He won't.



Today, I told a friend that I was looking for in a different church.  I also informed him that unless God told me directly to ever get involved in any kind of formal ministry again, and I did it anyway, I should be confined to the mental ward at HCMC downtown.

I don't know how many decades I have left on the planet, but I would like them to be relatively peaceful.  Working with Christians in a formal capacity is anything but peaceful.  At least that's been my experience.

Of course, all of this could be my fault.  I know I'm wired differently than most folks.  I get that.  I wish that God hadn't designed me to be a Square Peg.  But it's what I am.  I didn't think being a pain in the ass was a spiritual gift.

I simply am a bad fit for most American Christians.
I have to live with that.

____________________


For the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about wether or not you can lose your salvation.  I've also been wondering about all the people I've known over my life, and if they really are Believers.

For most of my life, I've believed in the concept of "Eternal Security."  I.e. "Once saved, always saved," based on the first chapter of Ephesians.  Another way of putting it is that if you leave the faith in one form or another, you were never truly a Believer saved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the first place.

But I question that now.

I've watched many people walk away from the faith.  But I often wonder about those who claim to follow Jesus, yet hold to some of the weirdest shit possible when it comes to the bible and Christianity.

I know one guy...known him since he was a kid.  He grew up in a Christian home, went to  a Christian High School and college.  Talked the talk, etc.

 I don't know what he's up to now, other than being an Air Force officer.  But the last few correspondences that we shared, he was following some crack pot, far-right preacher.  He sent me a 6 page screed on why Jesus wants us to own assault rifles in case we need to overthrow the federal government. (Alrighty then...) Nice to know he's in the military, isn't it?


I also know of others who have really twisted the bible so that they think it's perfectly fine for a man to surgically remove his penis and get falsies implanted.  God clearly made a huge mistake and put him/her in the wrong body...and if you torture the bible long enough, it will agree with you.

For the record, I can totally identify with this impulse.  I might not look it on the outside, but on the inside I am 6'3, with a full head of blonde hair, and rippled abs.  I'm also of Japanese decent.  THE PAIN IS REAL, PEOPLE!!!!

And I could go on and on and on and on and on...

Friends and associates I've known, who have now wandered into some extremely weird corners of the faith.  They are so far out there that I have no idea what they really want other than to have their own thoughts and ideas tickled and affirmed.

It's like Jesus isn't good enough anymore.

We need to have something else.  Something "Religious" to prove our position and make us feel better.  Faith isn't enough!  We need to have some sort of "Works" to live by.

Maybe it's voting for a certain party.  Maybe it's owing guns for Jesus.  Maybe it's encouraging men to wear dresses...even if it doesn't flatter their hips.  Maybe it's telling Jesus that all religions are his equal.  Maybe it's telling Jesus that sin isn't so bad that he shouldn't take it seriously.

WHAT EVER!

And maybe simply isn't me or anyone else being very merciful.

____________________

After all of that, you may be right to ask, "DUDE, why do you even BOTHER with Christians and Christianity?!?!?!?!?!"

A fair question, to be sure.

And I ask myself that A LOT!


What it comes down to has everything to do with Easter.  The reality is that I simply cannot deny the resurrection.  I can't.  It's been almost 2000 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That is LONG before the advent of modern science.

No one can prove it in a test tube or laboratory.  No one can produce a body after all this time.  But I simply cannot deny the resurrection of Jesus.

Why?

Despite the average Christian being an asshole, myself included, the church has survived in spite of itself.  In fact, as religious movements go, the early church should have died off within a generation.  To my knowledge, the early Christians were the only group of people I know of who got absolutely nothing for their troubles.  No wealth, fame or power.  Only torture and death.  Yet they believed in the impossible.  A man, their king, resurrected from the dead.  And they were willing to die for that belief.

The fact also remains, that despite me being a pain in the ass, I have seen over and over and over again the solid evidence in my own life, that this man/king has taken care of me even when/especially when, I really didn't deserve it.



I have my struggles...particularly when it comes to other American Christians.  I get very, very angry and frustrated.  But I haven't lost hope.  Mostly because my hope is NOT in other Christians.  My hope is in Christ.

Every day, I try to keep my faith
in the faithfulness of Christ.

I hope that's good enough.


Why?

Because he HAS risen.


Peace

Joe






Saturday, February 11, 2017

There's no other way...

"I and the Father are one."
John 10:30

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

Yesterday I had lunch with a kid from church.  I really enjoy him, his brothers and their parents.  They're one of those families that is down to earth, "Gets it," and doesn't seem to fear the big, bad world.    They take their faith seriously, too.  But not in that weird hyper-religious, "I'm more pious than you" kind of way that many christian families do.  They also seem to have some kind of intellectually gifted gene that runs through the lot of them.  This kid is the youngest, yet started college at 16.  I've been trying to encourage him and his siblings to consider going into academics, because the church in America desperately, desperately needs more down to earth intellectuals.  In my opinion, we're a virtual vacuum.

Anyway, we headed over to the new Giordano's Pizza in the Uptown area of Minneapolis.  I'm admittedly a pizza snob.  I had Giordano's pizza in Chicago, down by the famous water tower ages ago.  I learned the hard way that there simply is no point in trying to find Chicago style, deep dish pizza anywhere but Chicago.  Now I can!  They just had to import the chain up to the Twin Cities.

Since that style of pizza takes A LONG time to cook, we had plenty of time to talk.  Jared, (That's his name) is a smart kid...and more than a bit of a brainiac.  We talked a lot about Jesus and the bible.  And I do mean A LOT.

I'm a big believer in tolerance and coexistence.  I've had Atheist friends, Jewish friends, agnostic friends, a couple that dabbled in Wicca/Witchcraft, and now I'm working on getting some Muslim friends.

(Never had a Buddhist friend.  Gotta try and do something about that.)

I'm desperately hoping that President Voldemort's Muslim ban get's flushed down the toilet, and that this country gets a ton of Muslims.  I'll tell you why in a bit.


____________________


But first, a side note; TOLERANCE = Essentially, to put up with things you might very well find disagreeable, or even possibly offensive.

Honestly, if I took a swing at anyone I found myself in disagreement with, or was doing something that offended my sensibilities, I wouldn't be able to walk 50 yards in the mall.  And that would suck, because I have to go over there today to get some birthday cards.

What Tolerance does NOT mean is endorsement, agreement or condoning.

That's what so often drives me insane from the Lefties I know.  I'll tolerate plenty of stuff.  That in no way means I see eye to eye with it.

A while back, one of my gay friends got mad at me because I thought that the cross dressing man in our store was amusing.  I told him that the dude could dress anyway he wanted to.  It was his business.  But I was still going to find it funny.  I grew up on Monty Python.  Seeing a grown man cavorting around in a dress is funny to me...and 99% of the rest of the world.

My lefty friend didn't like that.  It wasn't good enough for me to "Tolerate" the man in the dress.  It wasn't good enough for me to let the man in the dress live his life the way he wanted to.  (It wasn't a particularly flattering dress.  It did nothing to accentuate his hips.) My friend wanted me to give it my blessing.  That's the hypocrisy of the true Left.

Not gonna happen, buddy.


Question: How come cross dressers never wear full-on Burkas, 
Hijabs or Amish gowns with bonnets?
Hhhhmmmmm....

Food for thought, anyway.

_____________________


So, why do I want a whole bunch of Muslims to be allowed in as refugees?  Well, the basic reason is simply out of mercy.  Jeez Louise, people are dying by the thousands over there.  Have a little compassion!

But more importantly, they don't know Jesus.

That's why I want them here.

It's rather difficult to share the Gospel in Islamic countries.  You generally get killed if you do.  Any convert is instantly marked for death.  I am convinced that God is using these man made disasters to bring them into the free world, where they can hear the Gospel without fear of death.

____________________



As Jared and I waited for the pizza, I told him a thought that I've had in my head and have begun to state repeatedly.  It's what I believe in the center of my very soul.

"Jesus is who he claimed to be.  He is the crucified and resurrected King.  The creator God of the universe, and the only, single hope for fallen humanity.  There is no other way."

After that, we can have a discussion on other, less central things over a cup of coffee or whatever.


Here's something that fascinates me about Jesus.  He made the claim that he is God, and that it was his way or the highway.  He was completely & utterly exclusive...which doesn't sound very tolerant, now does it?

I've seen Liberal theologians (Liberal theologically, not politically) fart around with Scripture and argue that Jesus didn't really mean that.  But a plain, basic reading of the text can lead to nothing else.  Jesus said that he was it!

That leaves you with minimal options.  Either Jesus is right, or he's a complete nut job.  You certainly can't conclude that he was a "nice guy."



I have a deep respect for other religions.  I try never to disrespect them.  However, I fully believe them to be dead wrong.  But something that fascinates me about other world religions is that they ALL, and I do mean ALL, make room for Jesus!!!

The earliest world religions that we know of seem to be Hinduism, and then perhaps Buddhism. (The earliest form of Judaism started way back when, but didn't do much in the way of evangelizing.) They were well developed by the time Jesus came along.  Yet, both Hinduism and Buddhism make room for Jesus as an enlightened soul and/or an avatar of higher consciousness.

This morning, I was poking around the internet on Jewish references to Jesus.  Sure enough, he's in some of their sacred texts.  How many references in the Talmud are up for debate, but he's there.  A nice Jewish boy gone bad.  Sure he performed miracles, but he did it using witchcraft and the power of Satan.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_the_Talmud


The other thing that is interesting about world religions is that every single one that came along after Jesus has claimed him as one of their own.

Islam, in particular, is interesting.  Jesus (Isa) is mentioned far more than Mohamed is!  In fact, when Islam first came into being, the church treated it as a heretical form of Christianity.  Islam teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin, will come back to judge people, but that he was not God, nor was he ever crucified...and therefore, never resurrected.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam

I've studied Islamic history long enough to know what a beautiful history it's had.  Heck, they invented Algebra, the modern compass, and were doing cataract surgery when my ancestors were still raiding medieval monasteries on the English coast.

But that doesn't mean it's true.  
Without the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity collapses.

The other thing that's interesting about the religions of the world, is that they all ultimately contradict each other.  I've heard people argue that at their core, they all teach "Love." (Not all of them, but the majority do.)  So what?  The various means of the ultimate goal, salvation, blatantly contradict each other.

Hinduism is massively polytheistic, with essentially eternal chances through reincarnation to become one with Brahmin.  Buddhism is rather agnostic.  You get unlimited chances through reincarnation, until you just sort of disappear.  Satanists, and those who practice black magic believe they will rule in hell with Satan. (Not sure where they get that, exactly.)

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all brutally monotheistic, and you only get one chance.  In Judaism, you gotta do enough good works and keep the law of Moses.  In Islam, there is no sure guarantee, but you better be good.

Jesus said, "Just trust me.  
Put your faith in my faithfulness.  
I've taken care of everything."

I like that.



I'm all for tolerance.  But that does not equal endorsement.  I believe strongly coexistence.  But that doesn't mean that it's all the same.  That's not even logical.  I believe that a diverse society is a beautiful thing.  But at the end of the day, truth is not relative.  There can be only one.

Jesus

There's no other way.

Peace

Joe


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Unbelievable...


"No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money."
Matt. 6:24

"Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them."
Matt. 7:15&16

"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, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do to me."
Matt. 25:44&45

And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Deut. 10:19

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him.  The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born.  Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.  I an YHWH your God.
Lev. 19:33&34


I realized the other day that I hadn't written anything in over 2 months.  Mostly due to the Holidays, then the gloom of January and what not.  But also because I was waiting for something hopeful and inspiring.  Most of my last few post have been negative.  Especially since the election of President Voldemort.

I was hoping for something uplifting, but instead I got a news full of more Debbie Downer.  Once again, it was from "Christian" leaders.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/frankling-graham-refugees_us_5889049ce4b061cf898c6c42

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/franklin.graham.defends.trumps.ban.on.refugees.its.not.a.bible.issue/104182.htm


I've had growing issues with Franklin Graham for a lonnnnnnnng time.  When he first took over for his father, I thought he was the coolest thing since sliced bread.  He had always been a bit of a rebel, and I liked that.  Also, his charity, Samaritan's Purse really does some good work.  So I was extremely hopeful that he would continue his father's work of simply helping the needy and preaching the Good News of Jesus' kingdom.

Unfortunately, it didn't take too long for the polish to start coming off.  It was many years ago, but it was during the time of the elder Graham's retirement.  Franklin and others wanted to build a museum to chronicle the history of Billy's ministry.  Nothing wrong with that.

However, Billy didn't want anything ostentatious or too fancy.  In fact, he had a very simply museum planned.  Franklin didn't want to go along with that.  Instead, he built a rather fancy museum on land that Billy had no interest in.  I thought that was a little weird.

Then, there came the issue of money.  Billy isn't poor by any means.  He was a paid a basic salary for his work in the ministry, with the vast majority of his income coming from sales of his books.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  You make something yourself, and someone buys it.  Good for you!  That's how basic economics works.

Franklin, on the other hand...
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/why-franklin-grahams-salary-raises-eyebrows-among-christian-nonprofits/2015/08/18/023ce940-45f2-11e5-9f53-d1e3ddfd0cda_story.html?utm_term=.f00d12b941ba

$880,000 a year for running a "Christian" charity?!?!?!?!?

I'm all in favor of paying a guy for a good job, but that seems more than a bit excessive for a "Christian" charity that is supposedly set up to help the most vulnerable people on the planet.  It just seems that you could take some of that salary and spend it on people who could really use it...like the people that charity is supposed to help.

Now, if this information disturbs you a tad, take a gander at this next link.  Please pay careful attention to the very bottom of the list and a guy named Rick Warren...

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paperbacktheology/2012/01/fleecing-the-flock-a-snapshot-of-americas-richest-pastors.html

Rick is an interesting guy.  He make's his living off his writings and has paid back his church every penny they paid him for the years of his preacher salary.  Now, he preaches for free and STILL donates most of his money away.

That's what I call a "Testimony."

Rick isn't alone in giving most of his money away.  Francis Chan has the same nasty habit.  A few years back, he sold his house to buy a smaller one for his family...all the while hosting young men that he was mentoring with his family.

That's what I call a "Testimony."

There are others.  Rick McKinley of the Imago Dei Community in Portland.  Dan Kimball in S.Cal.  They have very successful ministries, but keep money at arm's length.

That's what I call a "Testimony."


Franklin has stated publicly that he wants to make enough money so that he can work for free once he hits 70.  Billy is worth an estimated $25 million.  Franklin is a multi-multi millionaire.  Don't know about you, but if I had a couple million in the bank, I might just quit my job as a butcher and go volunteer in a soup kitchen for a few years.

How much more money do you need before you can work for free?


On a side note; this past year saw the completion of Ken Ham's ministry,  "Wrong-Answers in Genesis'" Arc Encounter.  A $100 million theme park set up to to amuse people with some of the worst exegesis of Scripture around. ($18 million from the tax payers of Kentucky.)

I know that roughly 1 billion people on the globe lack access to clean drinking water.  Wells to gain access to clean drinking water only cost a few hundred dollars.  Seems to me that there was a better way to spend a hundred million dollars to proclaim the Gospel.

But what do I know?


Christians and money.  
A dangerous combination...


____________________

In the past few days, President Voldemort has issued a ban on immigrants from Muslim Majority countries...unless they are not Muslims.

Not ALL Muslim majority countries.  Just certain ones. (The chart on the left is from the Libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute.)

I'm not much into conspiracy theories, but you have to admit that this choice of countries is a bit odd.



Franklin Graham has come out and publicly backed Voldemort in this ban over the past few days.  Why?  Because Muslims are dangerous...as demonstrated by the chart to the left.

Now the ban does allow for non-Muslim, minority folks...like "Christians" to come as refugees (Nice double standard there.) from these Muslim majority countries.

Franklin says that helping these refugees is not a biblical issue.  Oh????

This from the same man that has been touting the March for Life in Washington D.C. this past week.  This from the man who claims to be "Pro-Life" and getting a Supreme Court Justice that will "Hopefully" overturn Roe V. Wade.  "Life" is precious to this man...so long as it's in an American woman's womb.

Words are cheap.
Deeds say more.

It seems to me that people fleeing the slaughter in Syria, and the misery of other trouble Muslim countries are alive.  Do their lives not count?

Please do NOT tell me that you are "Pro-Life" unless you truly mean it.

Franklin Graham truly does NOT mean it.  
And he's proved it over the past few days.

I don't get it.  I really don't.


I live about a mile from a mosque.  I like to shop at the Halal market next to it. (Halal is to Muslims what Kosher is to Jews.) I buy my gas at a station run by a Shiite from Lebanon.  I don't find them to be particularly dangerous.



I have heard Pastor after Pastor, and Missionary after Missionary saying that God is bringing these Muslim refugees to our country so that they can hear the Gospel without fear of death.  I believe that! I believe in a God that can create something beautiful out of even the worst of human caused misery.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, anything can be made beautiful.

I just wish that guys like Franklin Graham believed it, too.

To him and others that live in fear, and have sold their ministries to politicians and the all-mighty dollar, I would simply say to them what Jesus said to certain religious leaders in his time; "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God."
Matt. 22:29


Peace

Joe

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What Is...

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does YHWH require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means; `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Matt. 9:12 & 13

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me."
Matt. 25:40


Ekklesia = "The Gathering"

What is the church?  Sometimes I really don't know.  It certainly isn't a building.

At it's root, the greek word "Ekklesia" does roughly translate as "The Gathering."  So ideally, the church is simply a bunch of people who follow Jesus.  After all, Jesus did say that where ever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name, he would be there.

Jesus also described the church as an offensive attack force.  Not in a violent way, of course.  But when he described the church prevailing over the gates of Hell, he meant that it/we were going to knock those walls down and take the city.

These days, the church in America feels a lot more like a castle with it's walls closed and it's drawbridge up, quaking in fear at the godless culture coming to take it's rights away.  Hopefully, if we dig that moat deeper, we'll be okay.

I haven't felt very connected to the church for at least a year now.  In particular, a willful misunderstanding on the part of someone who really doesn't know me at all at the body I normally attend, caused me to feel very disconnected to them...and it really hasn't gotten much better.

In fact, two Sundays ago, I showed up well before the service was about to begin.  For 10 to 15 minutes, no one even came over and talked to me.  Finally, an 11 year old from the youth group did, but that was it.  To be blunt, a friendly wave, nod of the head, or "Hi" as I walk in really doesn't count.  Not that I even got much of those.

I just left.

Last Sunday, I didn't even bother to show up.  My closest friend and his family weren't going to be there, so why bother?  I just wasn't feeling it.

So, is this just me throwing a pity party?  Maybe.  Probably.  Still, it's where I'm at currently.

Some back ground might be helpful: Back in the early to mid 90s, I was a youth director at a church in the Twin Cities metro area.  I lovingly refer to it as the "Church of Hell."  The pastor had been dismissed a few months before I got there for having a long term adulterous affair with a married woman in the church.  Apparently, he did everything in his power to tare the church down around him before he left.

They hired me to be a tap dancer in a mine field.

Myself and the the Junior High leader were the whipping boys for a congregation in pain.  I lasted about a year and a half.  I found out later that they had chewed up and spit out at least 6 pastors in 6 years after I left.

It was a painfully eye opening experience.  I thoroughly hated christianity and, in particular, Christians after that.  A rather understandable reaction, I feel.  To this day, I have a natural hesitation around people who call themselves christians.  So, what happened in the church body last winter, naturally caused me to fall back into massive amounts of self-doubt, wariness, skepticism, and so on as old wounds are reopened and scabs are torn off.

I earnestly long to trust my fellow believers.  I want to be open around them.  I make the mistake of doing just that...and then, once again, it's time for pain.  Rinse, wash, repeat...



The odd thing is that even when I hated christians, and ended up in a rebellious spiral, I couldn't escape Jesus.  Believe me, I wanted to.  I worked hard at it...really, REALLY hard.  I don't know what you want to call it.  Maybe I had too much "Head Knowledge" to escape the reality of Jesus being the God he claimed to be.  I simply couldn't deny it.  Maybe it was too much "Heart Knowledge."  I couldn't escape his pull on me. (Makes me wonder if Calvinists are on the something.) Like it or not, I couldn't escape him.

Eventually, I came back into the fold.  But the pain is still there.  I can assure you that I obviously have a very different outlook on life and the church than most do.  That's just the way it is.  It's who I am.  It's what it is...


____________________


God is weird.  I can't figure him out.  For the most part, I like it that he is this way.  I don't like a supreme being that can be reduced to a formula on a piece of paper.  Still, I don't "Get" him a majority of the time.

I've always been fairly contrarian.  I'm skeptical of any mass movement.  When it comes to the church in America, you can times that to the 25th power.  I see things differently.  I always have.  But as the result of something that happened to me about 6 years ago, it's much worse.

True story.  Read this at your own leisure and peril.

Yeah, that's right.  I actually heard God speak to me.  I'm not delusional, nor was I stoned.  I heard his voice.  And frankly, I don't care if you believe me or not.  I know what happened.  It was only one, single word, "See," and it changed my life in ways that I wish it hadn't a good deal of the time.

T.V. preachers claim to hear God's voice all the time.  Usually, God is telling them to get more money from their flocks, or that certain candidates are anointed, and so on.  To me, if you really hear God's voice, it will change your relationship with him and the way you view the world.  That's the difference.  That's what it does.  That's what it is.

Do I see the world the way God sees it now?  Unfortunately, a good deal of the time I do.  Not all the time.  It doesn't make me better than anyone, by any stretch.  In fact, a lot of the time I wish it had never happened.  Now I'm stuck getting a God's eye view of things I don't want to look at, including myself and my issues, much of the time.


On a side note; now I get why he doesn't do this very often.  God can communicate any way he desires.  I think he uses he voice minimally because it's just so bloody overwhelming.  It devastated me, that's for sure.  I can't imagine what it must have been like for guys like Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel back in the day.  They had to put up with hearing him all of the time.  No wonder they weren't very popular until after they were dead.

I recall going to an industrial rock show two Springs ago.  The grocery manager at our store is the lead guitar player for a band called Gabriel and the Apocalypse.  His wife is the singer and the drummer works in our produce department.

Even though the style of music is not really my cup of tea, I know talent when I see it.  Plus, it's funny to me to watch the reaction of a few hundred tattooed, leather clad, head banging, eye shadow wearing 20 somethings as I get to the front of the stage and gently nod my head.  "What's dad doing here?"

Anyhoooo, so I'm walking around the venue and I see this gal spinning her head around like a propellor to the music.  I thought that thing was going to come sailing off and bounce around the floor.  I had no idea you could spin that fast.

So I'm watching her, and here comes to vision.  The eyeballs start doing their thing, and I start crying.  I see her pain.  I see her emptiness.  I see her loneliness.  I see how lost she is.  I see her the way God sees her.  Thanks a lot!  Good thing the venue was dark.  Crying is probably inappropriate at such shows.

And that happens a lot.  It is what it is.


____________________

Euangelion = "Gospel"


What is the Gospel?  It means "Good News."  What is the good news?


Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  That passage is so easily misunderstood.  Most of the time, people think it's something you are supposed to work towards becoming.  That really isn't it at all.

Being poor in spirit is a condition that you find yourself in.  It it is NOT a good place.  The poor in spirit are losers.  They are failures.  They are everything our world tells us not to be.  If you are in that condition, you need to remedy and fix it.

But when Jesus uses the term "Blessed," he is saying that God is on the side of who ever is being blessed.  Basically, Jesus is congratulating people for being losers.  That doesn't make any sense at all.  But I can't deny that he said it.


Another true story...

My former student had a heroin problem.  He's been clean for a little over a year now.  The doctors told him that if he did it again he would die because he's damaged his heart.  I hadn't seen him since the day I wrote the post above.

Two Saturdays ago, I ran into his mother at our store.  I hadn't seen her since then, either.  I asked her how her son was doing.  She said that he was getting out of jail on Monday.  His been in, paying off his debts to society for almost a year.  I asked her to have him get in touch with me immediately.

This young man comes from a troubled family.  They were deeply involved in a local health & wealth prosperity cult in town.  It's a mega church.  They teach that every pimple is the result of sin.  If you have enough faith, God will shit his blessings on you in the form of money. (Must be working, cause the pastor is loaded.) If you don't get rich, or get sick, it's your own bloody fault.  God needs your money, because it's a sign of faith.  God won't like you if you don't have faith.

Cancer?  You dirty sinner!  
Epilepsy?  Stop shaking and write that check!  
Your mortgage is underwater?  Well, you just ain't livin' right!

I once knew a gal who was deep into this.  Once she prayed for a parking spot near the front of a Target store.  God answered her prayer and provided her with one.  Forsooth & anon!  Before she could get to it, someone else parked in it!  She was most vexed that this individual had thwarted the will of the Most High!!!

My former student attended this churches' private school for a time before ending up in my classroom.  Having observed this school and church for many years, I consider the school to be a stronghold of demonic power...and I'm not joking.  So, by the time he came to my class, he had more than a few bags to unpack.



A lot of people like to hand out tracts.  Some like to carry signs and shout on street corners.  Many people like to be busy for God.  Work, work, work.  "Look how religious I am!"  Gotta get out there and be a witness.  Busy, busy, busy.  "Honestly, God just can't seem to get it done.  We need to step up and do his job for him."

I suck at that.  I really do.  But I don't mind just being a wrench or a screw driver in God's hand.  I figure he knows what he's doing better than I do.  I'm fairly clueless most of the time anyway.

Be still, and know that I am YHWH; 
I will be exalted among the nations in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

Translation = "Hold still, would ya?  You make a lousy wrench jumping around in my hand!  I'll get the job done with or with out you.  Just hold still and be!"

I don't mind holding still and just being.  Sometimes, sometimes, I get to see the faintest glimpse of what the kingdom actually looks like when I do.



I don't know what is going to happen to my former student down the road.  He has choices that he has to make.  He's basically got to rebuild his life from scratch.  It's going to be an uphill battle for quite a while.  Ultimately, it's between him and Jesus.

But maybe I get to see something while it's happening.  Maybe.


After I spoke with his mother, I spoke with my boss.  The day after he got out of jail, we were in contact.  A day later I had him meet my boss.  The next day he was interviewed.  He told me, "Joe, they won't hire me with my past.  I'm an ex-con in recovery."  I told him, "No, that's exactly why they will hire you."

I got to work with him the past 2 days as we slogged out turkeys for he big Thanksgiving rush.

What is the Gospel?  
That is what it is...
and every once in a while, I get to see it.



Peace

Joe

P.S. If you're curious as to my friend, the grocery manager's band, here they are.  Jake, the manager, is the one holding the plate full of worms in the video.  It's particularly amusing to me, because he is one of the most gentle and soft spoken people you will ever meet.  😄

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Strange kind of Love...

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will disappear...Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face.  Now, I know in part; then I shall know full, even as I am fully known.
1. Cor. 13:9 & 12


No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Cor. 2:9

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old oder of things has passed away."
Rev. 21:3


And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.
Ken Ham  7/20/2014

____________________


I have an auto mechanic who is a part-time theologian and philosopher.  He tends to be a bit shy and soft spoken, but once he opens up it get's interesting.  The last time I was having some work done he told me about his theories of the God of the bible in relation to creation and existence.

"Think about it.  What is happening right now is all apart of God's plan, even though it often makes no sense to us at all.  God knew that this was the only way to get his job done.  If there had been a better way, He would have done it.  But, this, this was the best and most perfect way.  We simply have to have faith that He knows what He's doing.  In the end, it's gonna blow our minds."

I think he may be on to something.


____________________


Yesterday I went to see the new "Dr. Strange" movie.  It was really good.  While DC comics can't seem to ever get it right, Marvel never seems to get it wrong.  Nerd that I am, I also enjoying seeing a non-American try and pull off an American accent.  Well, when you have Benedict Cumberbatch as your actor, you know he's going to nail the role...which he did.

That actor amazes me in every role I've seen him in.  In fact, just for fun, take a gander at this...


That's funny!

So anyway, Dr. Strange.  Never bothered to pay much attention to him as a kid.  Spiderman was my guy.  I kick myself now for not hanging on to those originals!!!  Spidey rocked.  So I never paid much attention to the good Dr.  Plus, it had occult over tones.  Not something I've ever been a fan of.

Still, this is the Marvel universe.  It's not reality.  It's just fun.  Of course, with a movie, you get to do plenty of tweaking anyway.  In this case, it wasn't so much the occult as it was trans-dimensional stuff.  Different realities, different dimensions, different worlds and orders, etc.

I recall sitting in the theater and starting to ask myself, "What if they're on to something accidentally?  What if, by pure accident, they might be right about some of this?"

About 10 years ago, I heard String Theorists posit that they believed that there were at least 13 different dimensions, instead of the 3 or 4 that we are used to.  Funky! (And to be honest, I know Jack about String Theory.)



Western Christianity likes to think that our culture has a Judeo/Christian basis.  That's partially true.  However, at a deeper level we have a Grecco/Roman heritage.  The Greeks, thanks to Plato, thought that the physical world was largely bad.  You wanted to escape it into the spiritual world, where things were pure and unadulterated.  That's why, when Paul preached in Athens about a bodily resurrection, so many of the Greeks scoffed at him.  They didn't want to get a brand new, cleaned up body.  They wanted out of here.

Plenty of those Greek ideas crept into the church.  That's why we often see heaven as a a cloudy place, with us floating about playing harps.  Not my cup of tea, I can tell you that.

To the ancient Hebrews, the idea of heaven NOT being a physical reality, would have been ridiculous.  It would have been Greek to them. (Get it?  Funny!) Certainly, Scripture speaks very bluntly of a physical reality in heaven, and one here on earth when the old order is replaced with a new one.



Anyway, about Dr. Strange and alternate realities and what not; if you believe the bible, then you have to conclude that whatever scientists and philosophers come up with to explain how things work, God is intimately involved in it.  Since he created everything, when science explains something, all they are doing is showing one of the zillions of ways that God goes about his business.

In fact, I'll go farther.  Considering that every new scientific discovery demonstrates more and more how amazingly complex creation and how it works is, the idea that all of this is a complete accident and not the result of some great, cosmic mind behind it, becomes less and less viable and believable.  All of this amazing complexity through the universe is NOT an accident...

I'm never sure how or if science will ever be able to measure and explain the metaphysical/spiritual world, but talk about a totally different dimension.  I can barely begin to wrap my head around even an inch of that world.



In the mean time I often wonder about life on other planets.  I put the amusing quote by everyone's favorite Young Earth Creationist, Ken Ham up at the top for a couple of reasons.  #1. To show how clunky his writing is when compared to the artistic words of Paul and John.  #2. To demonstrate his poor understanding of the bible.  #3. To show what a lack of faith he really has.

Ken's god is way to small for me.  His teeny little god is trapped in a cardboard box that prevents it from being supreme and omnipotent.  His little fella is very limited.  I don't like tiny gods.

The God that Scripture reveals is BIG.  Too big for us to wrap our finite noggins around.  I like that God.  He's interesting and full of surprises.


Years ago, I read "Out of the Silent Planet" and "Perelandra" by C.S. Lewis.  In short, both books deal with an Englishman going to Mars, and then to Venus back in the days of WW2.  It really changed the way I thought about the potential for alien life.  In the case of these stories, the aliens lived in a state of sinlessness.  They didn't understand the concept of right and wrong, and were therefor never tempted.

I should note that in these stories, the planets all have guardian angles.  Earth is referred to by them as the silent planet because our angel is Satan and therefor does not speak to the other angels. (Food for thought, huh?)


So, what if there is life on other planets?  Do they live in a state of sinlessness?  Are they still so primitive that they can't even think yet...like super un-evolved?  Did they have their own fall at one point, and if so, what did God do about it?

I don't recall the song, but back in the 70s, the hippie christian singer, Larry Norman, had a song that said that if there is intelligent life on other planets, and they have sinned, Jesus went over there are died for them, too.  I like that idea.  It wouldn't surprise me the least.



I dunno, I was just sitting there watching the movie and thinking how small I am, and how massively huge Jesus is.  He created everything that is, in his own way and time, according to a plan that I can't fully grasp and only he fully understands.  He did it out of love; love at simply being able to create, and love for the beings he knew would explore his works.  I'm not even a pimple on the world's butt in comparison to him.  But he says that he loves me.  He says he loves me a lot,

And someday, I'll have all of eternity for him to show me around all of the stuff he made for us...



Peace

Joe