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




Friday, November 11, 2016

"X"


“I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

Billy Graham, 1981

"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"
Matt. 16:26

"If you listen to fools, the mob rules"
Ronnie James Dio

The bible fascinates me.  If you read it in context and for all it's worth, it will blow your mind.  These ancient authors, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writing thousands of years ago still speak truth to the human condition.  "There is nothing new under the sun," says one in Proverbs.  And he's correct.  As far as the human condition is concerned, there really is nothing new.



So here's something you might know from the pages of the bible.

Samson.  You know the story.  Big, strong guy with long hair that couldn't keep his hands to himself.
Hero, right?  Not exactly.

The Book of Judges is perhaps the most disturbing book in the Old Testament.  Rape, murder, assassinations, Levites slicing and dicing  their concubines up and mailing chunks around Israel.  Pretty freaky deaky.  No wonder you don't get many sermons from that book.

The Book of Judges is not a book of heroes.  We think that it is because the way the author of Hebrews in the New Testament uses some of the characters in it.  And that's legit.  Hebrews is a pick-me-up sermon in the form of a letter.  However, the Book of Judges is not.

Compiled during the time of the exile in Babylon, the Book of Judges is an indictment.  It is helping to answer the question, "How did we end up in exile?"  The author's answer is, "Because we kept screwing up, that's why!"

Interesting side note:  There is only ONE good judge in the entire Book of Judges.  It happens to be the only woman judge...the Prophetess Deborah.  The rest are bums who go from bad to worse.  I doubt it's an accident that the author purposely shoved a woman in the face of a highly patriarchal and faithless Israel. (I told you the bible would blow your mind.)

In it's context, Samson is a mirror of Israel.  To the Jewish exiles in Babylon, the story of Samson was their own story.  A story of faithlessness in the face of a faithful God.  Samson was given every chance in the world, and he just couldn't stay faithful to God.  In the end, God does a form of mercy killing and allows Samson to commit suicide and take his enemies with him.

Samson is a terrible roll model, and not someone to be looked up to.
He is no hero what so ever.
Instead, he is a warning to Israel
...and all followers of the God of the Bible.

"Whatever you do, do NOT be like Samson."

So why do I bring up Samson?

You know this election we just had?  I have heard multiple pastors and "Christian" spokespeople, including the author, Eric Metaxas, whom I respect a lot, call Donald Trump "Our" modern day Samson, coming to aid America and the church in our hour of need.  I think to myself, "That's not exactly the kind of help I'm looking for, thank you very much."

(Still, the idea of seeing a blinded Donald Trump pushing the pillars of the capital rotunda down on his head would get plenty of views on YouTube.)


____________________


Apparently I'm really good at irritating people.  Everyone has their own unique skill set.  I guess that's mine.  Whatever.

This post will hopefully irritate people from all walks of life, right left and center.  So, let's roll...


When I woke up Wednesday morning, this was my reaction to the election.  I was absolutely stunned.  I didn't vote for either Trump or Clinton.  But I never thought in a million years that someone as uniquely and utterly unqualified to be President would actually get elected.

Americans never seem to understand how the rest of the world perceives us.  I suppose it's because we don't have to care, since we're on this giant island with the world's most powerful military.  Still, by and large, the rest of the world believes we just elected a Clown-in-Chief.  I'm very embarrassed to be an American at the moment.

Still, as curious as I am to see how long Trump can hold himself before he pops off and let's his true self come out, I'm not as terrified as I was two days ago.  Actually, it's more a source of amusement now.  I'm guessing that the White House staff will be dumping copious amounts of quaaludes into his food supply, or something along those lines, to keep that blithering fool under wraps.

The real source of amusement is going to come from the ardent Trump supporters, and the let down that is headed their way.  In no short order, you will see The Donald realize just how little he can get done just through force of his will.  He is most likely going to not follow through on the vast majority of his campaign promises.  Mostly, because they were simply pure fantasies to begin with.

In particular, I have no idea how he's going to bring back all of those manufacturing jobs.  Unless everyone wants to pay $50 for a pair of socks, no, those types of jobs are never coming back.  So, good luck with that.

If he or any other politician would talk about helping those folks transition into new jobs, in the new economy, with our new technology, that would be a fresh start...and one based in reality.  But what does Trump care?  He just wants to win.


____________________


I guess what breaks my heart the most about this election is how the church prostituted itself once again.  That never comes as a surprise to me anymore.  But it still breaks my heart.


Back in the day, Billy Graham used to have Richard Nixon speak at some of his crusades.  When Watergate happened, and Billy heard some of the Nixon tapes with Nixon rambling on with drunken profanities, he was stunned and shocked.  He realized that Nixon had used him for his own, selfish political purposes.

To his credit, Nixon refused to see Billy after that.  Billy reached out to him during that time, but Nixon refused.  He didn't want to taint Billy anymore than he already had.  He felt remorse.

Billy learned his lesson.  He stayed completely out of politics after that.  Hence the quote at the top of this post.  Billy fully understood the damage that politics can have on the church and the message of the Gospel.

Unfortunately, Billy's kids have yet to learn that lesson.  Franklin isn't the only dimwit in the family.  Billy's daughter, Ruth Graham Lotz said on the news this morning that Trump's election was a blessing from God.

It's true that God has a hand in everything that happens. (I say that, and I'm not even a Calvinist.) However, I would highly doubt this to be a blessing.  Maybe God is giving us the divine middle finger.

____________________


From what I hear, 80% of "Evangelicals" voted for Trump.  These people who claim to love and follow Jesus, voted for a man whose entire existence has been one diametrically opposed to everything Jesus taught and stood for.  That's fascinating to me.  I guess it just goes to show what fear can do.

Why did these godly, faithful, god-fearing, bible-believing folks vote for a man who is a black hole, vortex of character?  Why did these lovers of Jesus vote for a man whose life is a mirror of everything that a Christian must never do or be?  Why did these faithful followers of the God of the bible vote for a man who many of these folks consider to be America's Samson? (And we know how that worked out now, don't we?)


From what I've heard, the court system was the #1 reason.


We gotta keep the Supreme Court "Conservative."  If we don't, Christianity will soon be illegal.  Then, they'll take away our guns so we can't overthrow the government when we need to.  Then, they'll make abortion mandatory for all unless your baby is gay.  THEN, when your gay baby grows up, you'll have to bake a cake for it's wedding.


The Supreme Court, particularly under John Roberts, has had a conservative majority since the 80s.  Guess what having a "Conservative" court got us?  Citizens United, voter suppression, gay marriage and yes, Yes, YES, best of all...OBAMACARE!!!!!

If you place your faith and protection in the vain hope of a friendly court, you are worshipping the wrong god.



Here's what gets me about the extremely narrow issues that so-called Christians fixate on.  They are not truly issues.  They are litmus tests to prove how religious you are as compared to someone else.  They are nothing more than windmills to be tilted at, so as to show that you are a good, "Religious" person.

But they have little to do with either reality or Christianity.

Let's have some fun...and here is where I get to be an equal opportunity irritator.

#1. Abortion: I'm going to tell you a truth that you won't like.  It's a not so well kept secret that politicians on the Right and Left know, but won't speak openly about.  Here it is; Abortion...will NEVER, EVER be illegal in the U.S!!!!  It might be limited in one form or the other, but it's never going away, folks.

You don't have to like that fact, but it's still a fact.  Politicians on the Right and Left know this in their hearts.  But they bring it out ever few years, shake it in the face of people, and get them all worked up.  It's a NON-issue that goes nowhere, but it plays really well to the base...and ya gotta get them votes.

For the record, I HATE abortion!

But I understand reality.  The term is called "Stare Decisis."  It's been the law of the land since 1973.  It isn't going away.  If you want to fight abortion, there are better and more effective ways to go about it than voting for something that will never happen.

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide?gclid=CKmH1Ib-oNACFZWCaQodYw4Kyw

The link above is to the World Health Organization's study on abortion world wide.  One interesting fact was that the more restrictive a society is with abortion, the more there are.  The more advanced a society is, the less there are.

It would seem to me that if Christians are so "Pro-Life," then they ought to screaming at politicians to fight world poverty.  But then again, I'm a terrible Christian, so what do I know?


#2. Gay Marriage.  Allow me to irritate my lefty friends first.  Unless you play fast and loose with Scripture, you cannot conclude that anything other than sexual purity until heterosexual marriage for LIFE (Minimal wiggle room for divorce) is the order of the day.  Let me go farther.  Defining yourself by who you get aroused by is a form of idolatry.  I don't know how you could come to any other conclusion after reading Romans 1:18-32.

In fact, let me push a few more buttons in an unusual way.  I don't view being "Gay" as a sin. (I don't like to define anyone that way to begin with, since human sexuality is much more complicated that we want to admit.) No, being Gay, Bisexual or Straight it NOT a sin...it's a TEMPTATION!

I used to have substance abuse issues.   That's a temptation for me.  You want me to define myself by that?  I won't!  It's a temptation...it's not the center of who I am  And every time it comes looking for me, I have to turn it over to Jesus.  So that's the question.  Are you going to turn your sexuality over to Jesus?  Yes or no?

And now I get to irritate my righty friends.  

I don't care if a guy wants to marry another guy.  Do they pay taxes?  Then let them have their rights.  I'm never going to defend it biblically, but then I understand that not everyone sees eye to eye on this issue with me.  I'm not going to compel anyone into my belief system. (Although I certainly don't object to a friendly debate.) I just don't see any upside to people living in the shadows.

In the mean time, this whole issue has very little to do with me.  I never planed on marrying another man.  So...

Would I go to a gay wedding?  I dunno.  Haven't been invited yet. (Bet the food would be pretty good and the outfits simply smashing!)

Been to a Atheist wedding once.  That was a weird one.  Still, neither of them knew Jesus, (DUH) and being friends with them was important to me.  It's hard to live out the Gospel if you're not in a relationship with folks.  And that's what matters to me.

#3. Religious Liberty. I've spoken to plenty of folks from countries where Christianity is illegal.  They have a better understanding of freedom than we do, I can promise you that.  Just because a Christian can't force his will on another person does not mean that we are losing our freedom.  Again, if you place your faith and security in the courts or politicians, you are worshipping the wrong god.


So why do I bring all of that up?  Because they are essentially non-issues for me.  I don't base my vote on them because they ultimately go nowhere.  I prefer to base my vote on what anyone says they will do for the weak and vulnerable...you know, "The Least of These."  Unfortunately, I rarely hear anything from any party about that.


But because Trump made vague promises to gullible "Christians," they drank the kool aid and now he will be in office.  The bright side is that the very folks who use to scream that "Character Matters" have now forfeited to right to ever use that phrase for the rest of their lives.


____________________


I've struggled for a long time with my label, "Christian," or "Evangelical."  Over the years, these labels have compiled more and more negative connotations.

When I tell people I'm a Christian, they think of quack-tastic science, Adam and Eve riding vegetarian dinosaurs and their kids banging each other.  When I say I'm an Evangelical, people think of politics moving further and further to the far Right.  Again and again and again, I have to use the phrase, "We're not all like that."  But I could be wrong...maybe we are.

So, what to do?

I've been trying to find a term that throws people off.  That way, they have to ask me what I'm for, not for what I'm against.

I think I may have found it.  I heard a news story on NPR last week about Christian women who were revolted by Trump.  They used the term "Xvangelical" to describe themselves.  I like that.  I like that a lot.

I'm sick to death of politics.  I'm sick to death of Christians letting themselves be used and conned so easily.  I'm sick to death of the fear in the American church.  I'm sick to death of Christians being sluts to their narrow desires for political positions.  I'm sick to death of power hungry pastors.  I'm sick to death of quack theologians and their fear of scientific facts. ("How DARE God create things in a manner that I don't approve of?!?!?!") I'm sick to death of the health and wealth Prosperity cult.  I'm just sick to death.



Please understand, someday, someday, Jesus' kingdom will bet here in full and America and all other nations will disappear completely.

All I want to do is follow Jesus into his kingdom...
and other than Him, it feels very lonely.



I'm an Xvangelical.

Peace

Joe

Ladies and gentlemen, America's new national anthem.