Month: July 2015

“How Did Jesus Treat His Adversaries?”

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He loved us!

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He prayed for us…

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He died for us…

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They we might have life abundant and everlasting…

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“Silence of the Lamb” (Jesus’ Restraint)

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”   Isaiah 53:7

2004 vacation 095 - Version 2The arguments over such hot button issues as atheism vs. deism, same sex marriage, and the theological differences between various religious groups are increasing. The battle of the Scripture wars would be amusing were it not so heartbreaking. With regard to our position as evangelicals, do we honestly think that there is anyone left who has not heard the Biblical remarks regarding homosexual activity? Members of the LGBTQ community quote scripture with the same deftness as evangelicals. They are well aware and are not frightened by the threat of hell or judgment. The only response is a rejection of the acerbic condemnation that they believe is being rendered toward them. They sense no concern for our opinions regarding their eternal or earthly well-being.

Here is the rub. LGBTQ advocates, if evangelicals treat you with love, respect and dignity even while they hold to their deeply held convictions of marriage being intended to be between a man and a woman, can you also treat them with love, respect and dignity? If we can draw together on the common ground of finding happiness in this life and for serving our communities can you join together in that?

There were times when Jesus demonstrated His wrath such as the account of His overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple courts. He also spoke harshly to only one segment of society; the religious leaders of His day. Those whom He viewed as the “regular” members of the community He treated with honesty, respect and most of all, love. There are also a few instances when Jesus remained silent. Permit me to look at two.

First, when Herod asked Jesus to authenticate his claim through the performance of miracles Jesus remained silent because He knew that Herod only wanted to see an illustration of the hype he had heard about Jesus as well as to goad Him into a senseless quarrel but Herod was not sincerely seeking to known Him.

Next, when Jesus was hanging on the cross between the two thieves one sarcastically and desperately challenged Jesus to rescue them all. Another confessed his crimes, accepted his fate and acknowledged the innocence of Jesus. To the second thief, Jesus promised paradise. To the first, He remained silent.

It might be wise to employ this practice toward those who challenge our faith and sincerely held belief. There seems to be no gain in engaging militant atheists, members of other religions or any segment of society that continually fires provocative salvos at God and His people.

Perhaps we can honor Jesus more by not being dragged into pointless quarrels and arguments. Maybe we would better represent Him by engaging only in constructive and edifying dialogues. When we are asked sincere questions we need to answer with respect, dignity and love. When we are being taunted and accused, silence just might be the holiest response.

“Love Is Saying ‘I’m Sorry’: The New ‘Apologetics’”

2004 vacation 095 - Version 2Theologians, religious scholars and most Bible students understand the definition of the word apologetics to mean a defense the Bible. Specifically, apologetics is defined as “A reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine”. However, there appears to be a new form of apologetics emerging throughout Christendom that is bringing both joy and irritation among Christians. That is the apologetics of apologizing. I would like to look at two instances of this “new” practice.

First, on June 21st several Christians attended Chicago’s Pride parade bearing signs with a message of apology for the mean-spirited treatment that the church has laid upon the LGBTQ community for, well for a very long time.

The position of Christians opposed to the practice of homosexuality based on Biblical prohibitions has resulted in bitter attacks rather than the initiation of respectful dialogue. The result is the sense of need for these apologies, among others.

Second, Pope Francis recently spoke before an audience of several thousand in Bolivia where he apologized for the church’s support of the mistreatment of indigenous people during the European conquest of the Western Hemisphere.

“The Pontiff apologized for the ‘many grave sins’ committed by Christians against indigenous peoples in South America during the colonization of the continent by Spain several centuries ago.

In a speech largely dedicated to decrying a ‘new colonialism,’ in which corporations and banks take the place of colonizing nation-states, the Pope acknowledged Thursday that the Catholic Church’s history is not entirely free from transgression.

‘I say this to you with regret,’ Francis said during a speech to grassroots movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God.’

As the Pope noted, his predecessors, including St. John Paul II, had acknowledged the church’s soiled history in South America.

‘I humbly ask forgiveness,’ Francis added, ‘not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for the crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.'”

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What I find encouraging is the sense of humility developing from within the Kingdom of God.  Our dedication to truth placed us in a self-imposed position of fear of admitting that we might be wrong about some things from time to time. God is perfect, holy and just but we are not. Understanding the fullness of God, his Word and His will is an undertaking that requires more than a single lifetime to achieve.

“Overcome Evil With Good”

2004 vacation 095 - Version 2(*This post was in response to a Facebook thread that continued to receive contributions for over a week. It began with a photo of Christians offering apologies for mean spirited abuse on the part of Christians toward the LGBTQ community during the 2015 Chicago Pride Parade.)

A colleague once asked me to explain the difference between communism and fascism. I explained that one personified the extreme right side of the political spectrum while the other represented the extreme left. His response was, “yeah, I get all that but what is the practical difference? They both seem to be equally tyrannical”. He was right. That concept is clearly illustrated in this thread. A week ago I shared what I feel is an inspirational photo of people with divergent opinions humbly and respectfully tossing aside their differences and focusing on mutual respect based on our shared value as human beings.

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What happened? The hateful responses from all sides of the “debate” that erupted tainted if not fully annihilated the high-minded intent of that photograph. Opponents of the LGBTQ movement took this as yet another platform from which to scream the tired accusatory message that is not new and is well understood. No one is unsure of the position of conservative evangelicals regarding same sex marriage and with all that it is associated. Many LGBTQ activists, with equal vitriol sarcastically and with mean spirit mocked the God and the faith that many of us hold dear. Such a reaction places you in the same camp as the “gay bashers” you despise as you render divisive hatred offering nothing to contribute to the edification of society. You dismiss us as irrelevant and out of touch in the same manner that you assert Christians have dismissed the LGBTQ community.

As communists and fascists hold divergent political views while employing the same brutal and cruel tactics to attain their ends. Hate-filled and toxic diatribe from evangelicals and LGBTQ advocates alike offers nothing to improve the state of our community. Hatred and prejudice have existed since the beginning of time (whenever you may believe that it may have occurred) and, sadly it will continue to exist until the end of time. (However, you might believe that will occur). Society does not need more insolent, spiteful hate mongering – we have an overabundance of that. We need more people of good will who are dedicated to constructively working together in a spirit of mutual respect, willing to agree to disagree on significant and deeply held personal issues in order to strive together to make the best of this world on which we live.

To my fellow Bible believing Christians, we believe in the coming of a new heaven and a new earth and that this earth will one day pass away. Why are we so hell-bent on driving people away from the God Whom we believe embodies the fullness of perfect love in an effort to save this entropic planet and to defend a theological position?

Social activists, you want mutual acceptance, respect and tolerance but you are unwilling to afford that same courtesy to people of opposite beliefs. How, in God’s name does that separate you from the gay bashers you so maliciously slam? If you encounter clergy, caterers or florists who, with respect, elect not to provide services for your weddings, why not take the high road, wish them well and move ahead? There are countless professionals who will gladly provide those services to you. Or do you feel some inexplicable need to engage in a social war mirroring the activists who are committed to attacking you?

The lines have been drawn, the positions and messages are clear. Very few people are yet to be “won over” or converted to any side of this “debate”. We have come a long way but racism still exists. Acceptance of, in spite of disagreement with the LGBTQ community is rapidly increasing but there will almost certainly always be militant antagonists.

It has been both amusing and disturbing to view the “Scripture Wars” that have threaded throughout this post. Both positions accuse the other of hand picking Scriptures to defend their own position when in reality both positions have employed this vain and useless practice. We need for people who claim that they want a free and respectful society to…

  1. Recognize that we will always have antagonists and people with whom we disagree.
  1. Lower the priority of our differences and raise the priority of love and mutual respect in an effort to develop a more peaceful community.

Christians will continue to preach the Gospel, the appealing and unappealing aspects alike but my heartfelt prayer is that we can do so with love and respect without abandoning our deeply held religious beliefs. To be fair, there has been a small contingency of people from both positions who have contributed posts with the same encouraging spirit that inspired the initial photo that was posted; a spirit of reason and respect that seeks to encourage and edify rather than belittle and deride. To you I say thank you, carry on and well done.

“Life With Attention Deficit Disorder”

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*If you are able to read and follow this post you may want to be evaluated for Attention Deficit Disorder.

I have lived with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) my entire life but it went undiagnosed when I was a child because the focus at that time was on kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) referred to then as “Hyperactivity”.

Speaking of hyperactivity, I always loved the part in Star Wars when they jump to hyperspace. I wondered how they did that without hitting any of the asteroids just like in Disneyland’s Star Tours when you break through the ice asteroid. I think I’d like some ice cream.

Anyway, as a student with ADD I never got into trouble for acting out in class as so frequently happened to students afflicted with “hyperactivity” but my parents did receive annual phone calls from my teachers with a recurring message: “Steve is bright and intelligent but he doesn’t apply himself”. These phone calls were followed by a very long discussion about buckling down on my schoolwork.

Have you ever seen the buckles on the belts that champion boxers wear? They are huge. It’s funny to me that boxers wear boxers.  Remember when they put buckles on shoes? I don’t see those very often any more. Did I remember to put the lawn mower away?

Anyway, after those discussions my parents would give me tips such as, “if you’re not sure about something ask questions”. The problem was I didn’t know what questions to ask. At the end of the school day my mind’s focus was on playing baseball when I got home. Since I wasn’t thinking about homework it never occurred to me to ask about it. If I didn’t understand a particular subject I basically felt confused and then my mind would drift to the beach.

There isn’t much driftwood on the beaches in California. I see a lot more of it in Washington. There is a great live theater in Edmonds, WA called “The Driftwood Playhouse”. I wonder if they ever perform plays about Washington or even Lincoln.

Lincoln Continentals are really good cars but most people would rather spend money on European luxury cars. Europe is a continent from where we get the concept of the continental breakfast. I really prefer a hot breakfast but continental breakfasts fit the bill when they include cereal. Lucky Charms is one of my favorite cereals; which is cool because I am of Irish decent and Lucky Charms uses a leprechaun for their logo. Ireland is part of the European continent.

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Anyway, following my annual admonishment from my parents to “buckle down and pay closer attention” I would sit in the classroom and stare at the chalkboard urging myself to concentrate, concentrate, CONCENTRATE! As words or numbers would dance across the chalkboard I would diligently focus on translating the symbols and images into functional thoughts until new mind pictures of baseballs, boats and beaches invaded my thoughts while the teacher droned on sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

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I need to go to the store, I think.

*One might consider this an insensitive missive but it isn’t when written by one who is so afflicted.