Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ruffled Feathers….

While cruising hither tither around the internet one morning....checking out productivity blogs....I came upon several very interesting snippets here and there.  A couple from this guy....Craig Harper topped the list. 

In an article about why we have become such an overweight world he devoted several paragraphs to what he referred to as the feather ruffling answer. (he is writing in Australia...ranked #21 on the list of fattest nations.  But FYI...the US is #9) His opinion…we make the wrong dietary choices, of our own accord…sometimes spur of the moment…sometimes in less than ideal circumstances…but as the old adage goes.  Nobody puts a gun to our head and makes us eat.

While his article is mainly about diet and healthy eating, it occurred to me that some of the wisdom carries over into other areas of our lives.  Anytime we ask a question or venture to offer our opinion about something we risk ruffled feathers….other folks…or even our own.

The thought that I am probably ruffling a few feathers crosses my thoughts every time I broach some of the more controversial topics I write about here on this blog….which is….often.  Inerrancy, homosexuality, free will/sovereignty, Islam…..and the list goes on. 

And truthfully, I find my feathers ruffling a bit in my journeys around the internet and in my day to day life. 

Picture from The Telegraph…Reuters

We all have opinions.  I’m pretty sure every one has heard the off color catchphrase….comparing opinions to….well, you know.  Something else we all have.  So I am going to close this post with some wise words from one of the founding fathers of this country….Benjamin Franklin. 

“For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.” Ben Franklin

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter….

At a a ministry resource website….buried within a collection of devotions, called 56 Devotions on Short Notice, I happened to click on this one the other day. I tucked it away, especially for Easter.  I am at my mom’s for Easter…just me….the rest of the family stayed put. At my mom’s, the only  internet access I have is at the local McD’s.  I’ve been using their free wifi for an hour or so.  What a deal. The place is virtually deserted.  The coffee…any size….is a dollar.  There are free refills….

So even though Easter Day is half over…this is a good message year round.  And no matter what your view of the atonement is or the scope of what you think was accomplished there, this still fits. 

Across the barriers that divide race from race,

Reconcile us, O Christ by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide rich from poor,

Reconcile us, O Christ by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide people of different faiths,

Reconcile us, O Christ by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide Christians,

Reconcile us, O Christ by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide men and women, young and old,

Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.


2nd Corinthians 5:

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Homosexual Agenda? Is there really such a thing?

Well, I'll seems I learn new stuff every single time I fire up my computer and venture out into the world wide web...where I continue my ongoing, informal....somewhat haphazard, education....a student at Cyberspace "U."  I love the internet.

And Wikipedia...I learned a new word.  "Homosexualist."  I didn't even know such a word existed.  It was coined by Scott Lively and Kevin Avery.  The following from wiki....

The use of homosexualist in this way first appeared in 1995 in Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams' book The Pink Swastika, "to refer to any person, homosexual or not, who actively promotes homosexuality as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality as a basis for social policy."  

These guys even went so far as to blame the horrifics of the Nazi regime on pervasive homosexuality within its ranks. 

Lively and Abrahams in The Pink Swastika argue that alleged homosexuality found in the Nazi Party, specifically within Ernst Rohm's SA, contributed to the extreme militarism of Nazi Germany, and write about the gay agenda in this context.

Oh for goodness sakes.....

How about the total depravity of the egoic mind/carnal nature/adamic man contributing to the extreme militarism of Nazi Germany?  Greed, envy, selfishness, fear, scapegoating, a sacrificial mindset (the sacrifice of others that is), power lust.  

So now homosexuals share at least some of the blame for the Holocaust?  Seriously?

But these guys are but one link in the chain that eventually led to the “outing” of the much feared…much touted homosexual agenda. 

Pretty much the entire populace of right wing America knows about the existence of a gay agenda, but most gays don't have a clue about it.  The vast majority of gay folks are doing what you and I are doing.....leading ordinary, everyday lives.  They are not covertly promoting an agenda.  They are not militant, violent or unruly.  They are more likely to spend a Saturday afternoon at the nearest Borders sipping coffee and leafing through a magazine than dressing up in an outlandish costume and marching in a gay pride parade. 

From a blog post I happened upon in my “studies"

As Oklahoma City teacher Kelly Forbes put it, “We have a gay agenda? I must have missed that meeting.”

So where did the idea come from? 

Well....stir together a little conjecture, mix in a few "scientific studies" with biased and misrepresented outcomes, make propaganda movies to "educate" and warn the unwary in schools and churches.  Take an article written purely as satire and proclaim it to be truth.  Every time the manifesto is read, omit the disclaimer at the beginning clearly identifying it as satire....and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.....

The history of events that led up to the belief in a homosexual agenda can be found HERE and HERE and HERE if you are interested. 

And the saddest part of this whole thing is that many of these underhanded methods were wrought by Christians.  Followers of Jesus. 

Believing that there is such a thing as a homosexual agenda makes the GLBT community into nameless, faceless enemies.  It is easy to hate folks you don’t see as individuals. (and on a related note, it’s easier to love vast chunks of humanity than it is to love the annoying guy who lives next door.  More on that in an upcoming post)

And in my next post, I’m going to “introduce” you to a couple of guys I “met” on the internet who bought into the gay agenda thing…and spoke out strongly against gay marriage.  One from the pulpit….the other by organizing public rallies backed by a national organization.  But something changed them both.  They started to see gays as individuals….real people. Just like Kathy Baldeck from Canyon Walker Connections…..who I talked about in my post the other day. 

More to follow:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Harrowing of Hell

I haven’t forgotten that I have a “part 2” to write in the post birthed from reading the article “What Jesus Did Do” but….running late this a.m. and I have the following post all set to go…living in the queue at blogger. 

I found a post “stub” (as wikipedia refers to incomplete articles on their site) that has been gathering dust for quite a while in my Evernote files. I found it today while poking around in my “database.” With all the talk about Rob Bell recently and the “is he or isn’t he?” debate…I thought it might be a good time to dust the cobwebs off of this and actually post it. 

During the time consuming and tedious process of "migrating" my blogs out of the new Bloglines, (“new” meaning not nearly as good as the old bloglines and now, a really crappy RSS reader) and saving them all in Google Reader… I came across many blogs I’ve earmarked over the past few years. One of these was

λογοι  Words on existence 

Not sure of the pronunciation of the title…but an interesting blog. And an interesting quote from an interesting post about universalism from that blog….

I’m not a universalist, but I hope God is.

This is a sentiment I have heard and been tantalized by since I was old enough to understand what grace is.

I had a youth leader growing up who once described his hope for Christian Universalism by saying, “Maybe when we get to heaven, God looks to hell, looks back at everyone around him, and says with a huge smile on his face, ‘Let’s go get ‘em!’”

Sort of what scripture declares Jesus already did when he descended into hell to preach the Gospel to the souls in prison?  (1Peter 3:19–20 and 1Peter 4:6) He does hold the keys after all…the keys to death and hell. 


The Harrowing of Hell


According to Wikipedia, Jesus’ descent into hell is often referred to as the “harrowing of hell.”  Different faith traditions view it differently. (Surprise!!) It is included in two creeds…The Athanasian Creed and the Apostles Creed.  Some denominations omit or alter the “descended into hell” clause.  The Methodists for instances, render it:

was crucified, dead, and buried. 

Catholics -

was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended to the dead

But the Orthodox celebrate it.  For them it dwarfs the significance of the empty tomb.  Easter is celebrated by the icons that depict Jesus’ descent into hell. From Wiki:

The icon shows Jesus, vested in white and gold to symbolize his divine majesty, standing on the brazen gates of Hades (also called the "Doors of Death"), which are broken and have fallen in the form of a cross, illustrating the belief that by his death on the cross, Jesus trampled down death. He is holding Adam and Eve and pulling them up out of Hades. Traditionally, he is not shown holding them by the hands, but by their wrists, to illustrate the theological teaching that mankind could not pull himself out of his ancestral sin, but that it could come about only by the work (energia) of God. Jesus is surrounded by various righteous figures from the Old Testament (Abraham, David, etc.); the bottom of the icon depicts Hades as a chasm of darkness, often with various pieces of broken locks and chains strewn about. Quite frequently, one or two figures are shown in the darkness, bound in chains, who are generally identified as personifications of Death and/or the Devil.


The Orthodox view is intriguing, reflecting the Christus Victor view of the atonement…






















              The gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18)

Monday, April 11, 2011

WWJD about GLBT Christians? Figuring it out based on What Jesus Did Do…

I usually try to read when I go to the gym....while hoofing it on the treadmill or pedaling the incumbent bike. I (finally) went to the gym again yesterday.  Emily and I have both been on a several month long hiatus from the gym.  On me, it shows.  On Em...not at all.  We both went back this week...Emily, well...I made it there once.  I figure her workouts cost me about 25$ each...and mine... 50 bucks.  I have the fees automatically deducted from my checking whether our Nikes hit the treadmill or not, the money still comes out.  But I digress....imagine that!!!

When I went to the gym after work the other day, I took an article I had earmarked to read "when I have more time."  It is one of, literally, thousands of earmarked articles.  A plenitude of articles...not nearly enough time. 

This particular article came from a website I happened upon during our week in Tennessee, while taking a break from church in our motel room…doing what I do best….cruising the internet.  I've earmarked it to explore in more depth...but...a plenitude of websites...not nearly enough time.

It is called "Peace Theology."  The website is authored by Ted Grimsrud, a Mennonite...a denomination known for their anti-violence/peace theology beliefs.  Thus the name.  Peace Theology.  It has a lot of stuff....all written/collected from a non violence perspective.  Very cool. 

The article that caught my eye was under the section about the church and homosexuality.  My own personal view....the church has a sorry ass record when it comes to its treatment of homosexuals.  And this guy thinks so too.  The article is entitled "What Did Jesus Do?" and seeks to outline a christlike pattern of relating to homosexuals based on a variation of the once very popular catch phrase, WWJD...What Would Jesus Do? 

Can we know for sure what Jesus would do (or more importantly what Jesus would have me do) in any given situation? Perhaps not...although this article points out that we can come pretty darn close by taking a look at what Jesus DID DO. 

Jesus was radical.  I'm not so sure we realize how radical he was. On so many occasions, Jesus defied the rules of his "denomination" by healing, interacting with...actually fellowshipping with the untouchables of his day.  And there were a lot of untouchables. 

In our modern day world, we don't have to worry about ceremonial cleansing if we brush up against someone with eczema. Menstruating women are not banished to the garage or the shed out back until they are no longer "unclean."  Thank goodness.  Tax collectors, Roman soldiers, Samaritans.  Oh my God, especially Samaritans.  And Gentiles.  And dead people. But Jesus was not all that concerned with the rules and regulations of his day.  He touched the untouchables. 

Just like the Jews, Christianity also has a long list of untouchables.  The list varies from denomination to denomination...from liberal to conservative....emergent to evangelical...but there is, indeed, a list, sometimes unspoken...but often not.  Sometimes the list of untouchables is a priority to the group.  And for far too many Christians, homosexuality is at the top of that list.  Even liberal, emergent Christians, with a "love the sinner/ hate the sin" mindset, speak out against homosexuality. 

Jesus did not take much time out of his busy schedule to preach about sexual sins.  Homosexual or heterosexual.  He did spare the woman caught in the act of adultery...entrusted the telling of the gospel to the Samaritan woman by the well....let a woman of rumored ill repute wash his feet with her hair.  These things speak volumes and cast the light of understanding on how he might have interacted with homosexuals.  Perhaps we should take our cue from him there too. 

And perhaps we should seriously consider that annoying beam/speck thing he just had to go and say. 

During my "research" of this topic, I came across several very interesting websites. (My research usually amounts to questions that pop into my head while reading/writing about a particular article/book/topic that I then submit to the magic google search engine)  I found several web sites for “coalitions” of gays and straights.  One in particular that intrigued me was a website called Canyon Walker Connections, the website of Kathy Baldeck, who (quoting this from memory) as recently as 2004, did not think she would see any gay folks in heaven.  Although now an impassioned advocate for gays, at one time she was on the other side of the issue…for 20 or so years....until God used (quoting from Kathy's blog)

......a Native American, lesbian, then-agnostic woman to draw me out from my white girl, straight girl, Christian enclave to understand the inequality, the injustice and the church wounding meted out by Jesus followers. Hey, I recognized it;  I was one of them.  It took five more years for me to push open the door fully wide and start to shout to the church. I went to the Gay Christian Network Conference in January 2007 as the first straight supporter, knowing absolutely no one prior to my arrival.  Two months before,  I was  not even sure GLBT believers existed.  Then, to discover that they were organized?!

In a room of 300 GLBT Christians that  first night in worship, I was overwhelmed.  It was then that I put two feet in.  I crossed the line and threw the door to my soul and spirit open wide .  The Holy Spirit was indeed in the midst of His people.  Don’t bother discounting this as an “emotional” experience thus allowing you to justify ignoring my message.  I’ve done this now for five years and the conviction only deepens. Attending the conference immediately brought the end of a five year relationship with a quite homophobic man that I actually wanted to marry.  Purpose or person?  I’ll take purpose for three months of unbearable agony, please.

What a brave woman!!

More tomorrow on some of the other links I ran across...more from the article on Peace Theology....and more on what we can ascertain about what we should DO based on what Jesus DID DO....

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Keith and I spent last week in Tennessee.  First part of the week in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  Second part of the week in Lake City…a little town in the vicinity of Knoxville (give or take 50 or so miles) at the yearly conference at Lake City Christian Fellowship…pastors -Justin Philips and his wife Sheryl.  We spent the time with wonderful people…some old friends…some new friends.  We heard 10 of the 11 “official sermons”…and left for home Sunday morning (missed the last service)

As is always the case with me…the sermons were kind of a launch pad for my own thoughts and ponderings.  I don’t always come to the status quo conclusions and most “answers” just inspire “questions” for me.  Below are a few links to webpages of some of the folks we heard speak. 

Lake City Christian Fellowship

Apostolic City Church (Kelvin Mohammed)

Extravagant Grace (Bert White)

Word and Spirit Ministries (David Levister)

New Life MInistries (Kay Fairchild)


Friday, April 1, 2011

Rending Hearts?

I ended my last post…many moons ago…with the following paragraph from the Daily Episcopalian about the line in the Prayer of Manasseh about bending the knee of the heart:

Then, in a beautiful mixed metaphor, the poet “bends the knee of my heart,” not in excuses or self-justification, but in pure supplication.

And it is the sentiment about “not in excuses or self justification, but in pure supplication” that brings me to the verse in Joel.

Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. Joel 2:13

“Rend” is not a word that comes up very often in day to day conversation. In fact, even though I had a pretty good idea of what it meant, I looked up the meaning just to be sure. Same gives the following synonyms:

"break, divide, rip, rive, sever, slit, split, sunder"

When God instructs them (and by implication…us) to rend their hearts and not their garments he is talking about a mindset of supplication…(as the Daily Episcopalian points out) The directive from God is all about inward rending…and not the ripping of clothing in mock remorse. Rending garments was a tradition of the Jewish people.  A good example? The Pharisees were good at putting on a show…at outward wailing in false repentance. But it was all fake.  They were “posers” putting on a front. They, of course, did not fool Jesus.  And he told them so. 

Matthew 23:25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 "Woe  to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus saw their hearts. Being God and all, he could see right through their pretence.  They didn’t fool him.  Neither do we. If only our garments are rent…in an outward show of piety…an outward show of repentance then God really does not have the opportunity to “write his laws on our hearts.”  We have to open ourselves to his prodding and guidance as he shines the spotlight of awareness on our heart.  It is not meant to beat us down but rather to build us up. 

We can be assured that each step deeper into the Lord's Presence will reveal areas in our hearts which need to be cleansed. Do not be afraid. When the Spirit shows you areas of sin, it is not to condemn you, but to cleanse you. Francis Frangipane

Rend your hearts and not your garments.  Bend the knee of your heart.  God will replace your heart of stone with a heart of flesh.  And he will write his laws there……