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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

False Idols: American Politics, Abortion, and American Christianity's Golden Calves.

American Christianity and American Politics joined forces a number of years ago (starting about the time of the "Moral Majority") to create an unholy union. 

Politics has become the golden calf for many churches in the USA.

Throughout history, from King Saul, King David, and King Solomon... To Constantine... To King's of Europe... To Donald Trump... When God's people gain political power, it corrupts the church and it damages society. 

Abortion, even, has become a golden calf. 

What!? How could you say that!? 

Here's why:

When anything other than God himself becomes an Ultimate Thing, people (made in God's image) loose their own ability to Image God in the process. 

When stopping Abortion (baby murder) becomes more important than God, it becomes the idol.

The Church destroys people too. In an effort to protect the unborn (good thing) they steam roll the dignity and significance of the born (humans made as God's Image). 

The Church has been guilty of murdering abortion doctors, standing in picket lines and screaming "murderer" with hateful faces at women who already feel trapped and hopeless.

Pot (Right), meet Kettle (Left).

Okay, so that's extremists, obviously a violation of God's will. But that's fringe.

Not so fast. 

Pro-Choice dialogue has become so one-note that other matters are ignored in the process. 

Where is the discussion about what circumstances brought women to the clinic in the first place? If discussed at all, it’s usually in the tone of “sin” and “sinners”. Rather than seeing, poor, broken, hurting people who feel trapped and have few choices. 

Where is your “outrage” when these same children you fought to give life to are born into poverty, raised in poverty, addiction, abuse, and sent into school systems designed to fail them all while having no access to services that other kids have?

Where is your outrage when the immigrant shows up on our border and is shot on site, or dies trying to get here because they were so desperate to try? Why aren’t you curious about the conditions that made them so desperate to try? 

Well, they should come legally, get in line like everyone else. 

Really? Is that your answer? 

Are you Christian or American; you’re going to have to choose. 

If you are in God’s Kingdom, enforcing his Kingdom Rule on earth, seeking to implement God’s will on earth as it is in heaven, then, you’re going to have to start caring about an awful lot of things you dismiss and refuse to even consider. 

I frequently see posts from so-called Christians who say: “If you vote for a pro-choice candidate, you endorse baby murder and are in danger of hell.” 

Why not: “If you vote for the mistreatment of immigrants and the continuation of national and international policies that create and perpetuate poverty in other countries, you are in danger of hell?” 

This is what it means to choose an Ultimate Thing over God. 

You become so myopic about your “righteous cause” that you fail on virtually every other measure. 

So before you get so focused on one thing that you start to denigrate your fellow human beings, why don’t you take a chill pill, step back, and let God be the God of the planet. If he wants to judge them, he can. It’s not your job. 

Your job, NUMBER ONE Job, ONLY Job, is to Love God and Love your Neighbor. 

It’s hard to love your neighbor while you are shouting at them, calling them names, and failing to listen to their hearts’ cry. 

Step a whole bunch of steps back, realize that here is no “right” side. No, the Republicans are NOT more righteous than the Democrats, not by a long shot. 

In fact, when you start to see it from Gods perspective, the Republicans, Democrats, and the entire spectrum from American Christianity are all blind, naked, and poor spiritually. 

It’s time to get a perspective that includes a broader view. 

We need to see how things are seen by fellow Christians in every  nation around the world, every tradition, every time in history from the beginning to now, and look at the principles of God’s word. 

You can fight for a righteous cause and still be fighting God in the process. I argue that most American Christians fall into this category today. 

It’s time American Christians took fewer sides, spoke up for more causes, and used a broader lens and worldview, lest we have our lamp stand taken from us.

If someone spreads false teachings and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in controversies and verbal disputes. This gives rise to envy, dissension, slanders, evil suspicions, and constant bickering by people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit. 1 Timothy 6:3‭-‬5 NET

Note: This new political party is another example of Christians using a failed worldview. It’s a better shot at what we need to be doing, a bit more nuanced, but still way off.  https://solidarity-party.org/about-us/platform/






Monday, June 14, 2021

Where's my tribe?

I'm a xxxxxxx? 

One of the hard parts of deconstruction and reconstruction, is a lack of label and identity.

My identity, ultimately, is found in God and His Word. I am a child of YHWH, follower of The Way, first called Christian at Antioch, citizen of The Kingdom of God, blood bought, spirit filled, believer, adopted brother of Jesus, adopted son of God.... 

But when it comes to a group of fellow traveler's... there is no movement or "group" that fits.

I'm not Liberal but I'm definitely post-conservative.

I'm Christian, but I reject much of western American Christianity.

I'm spirit filled, and believe in the healthy expression of all God's spiritual gifts; but, I reject Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Word of Faith expressions and definitions of those terms. 

If I had to gather a group of like minded mentors, I'd appeal to Drs Michael S. Heiser , N. T. Wright , Tim Mackie and the BibleProject, Bob Hamp , John Walton and his work on Genesis, and a few others that are slipping my mind at the moment... With a scatter shot of Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani ... 

So what tribe do I bring to? The scholar tribe? The thinker tribe? Hm... 

I guess I'll keep growing and find out.

🤓🧐

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Underline what matters...

It's funny how things stick with you. My best friend in highschool once quipped: "If you underline everything, you've underlined nothing." I still use that principal today. 

While not every time I underline something, I often think of her and hear her voice saying those words. We lost touched over the years, purposefully for her part, probably for good reason... but I often wonder how she's doing, what she's experienced in life... And pray for her. 

If you're out there, I hope you are well. I hope you had grand adventures! I hope you underlined life's experiences in the places that mattered. 

Selah

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Eternal Life: Do you know that means? I didn't.


"It takes a good theologian to help you misunderstand the Bible." Jesse Duplantis

It's fascinating that I've been in Western American Christianity for my whole life, read the Bible through it's filters, and walked away believing that the "gospel/good news" was "believe in Jesus and go to heaven when you die". 

Now yes, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, so my Flavia is with him now. 

But our FINAL destination is not some disembodied state called heaven. That's a way-station. A rest stop. A "pending final outcome" place. 

Should Jesus return before I die, Jesus and Flavia are coming here to join me, I'm not being taken anywhere. 

The return of Jesus involves the resurrection of the dead, new bodies, a rejoining of Heaven and Earth into one overlapping space. 

We quote "eternal life" as if it was some weird disembodied state in the clouds. 

No.

Jesus tied the terms "eternal life" and "resurrection" into one single concept. 

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. 

We will meet the Lord in the air.... Not to leave earth, bit to welcome Him home TO Earth as our returning King! 

Gives a far different context to the Good News of the Kingdom of God. 

The Kingdom of God is not loosely related to some idea about believing on Jesus so we can go to heaven when we die. 

The Kingdom of God IS the Good News! 

Jesus came announcing God's planet takeover plan. 

Jesus became the first fruits of the resurrection! 

Jesus sent the spirit to dwell in us so we can become pockets of the Kingdom now, here, doing his will on earth as it is in heaven. 

And then, one day, the Kingdom of God shall culminate and climax in The Return of The King, the return of those who died in Jesus with resurrection bodies, the changing of our bodies, and our meeting them all in the air to welcome them home. 

Then, we will have eternal life, in resurrection bodies, in a new heaven and earth overlapping with each other as one space. 

To quote the Thai peoples, it will be: Same-same, just different! 

Selah


What culture are you incentiviving?

You get what you incentivize. 

I work in the fraud call center for a bank. When I was hired the culture was built around being aware, stopping fraud, we were constantly told what our fraud loss numbers were as a dept compared to the budget for loss. We each felt personally responsible for protecting the bank because any loss we let through affected our seal neighbor.

In the last two years, they've moved away from that model and added a handle time. So what's incentivized now? Average Handle Time (AHT). So, someone calls in and they pass the identity test procedures but I'm still suspicious that might not be them. Do I press for more identification? Unless I'm dead sure it's not them... Heck jo I don't! You want quick calls. You gave a test procedure. They passed. I'm giving you your quick call. You can have me be thorough or quick, you chose quick. 

Business owners, pastors, leaders... What are you seeing in your culture that you don't like? I guarantee YOU are incentiviving that culture. 

You won't change it be yelling, or lecturing. You'll only ever change it by changing the incentives, including what you use to measure "success". 

Selah

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Waking from the Matrix of American Christianity

Once you learn to read the Bible in its own original contexts, it's almost impossible to see things the way you were taught in Sunday school. 

It's like, every single thing I heard in church was partially correct, not false, mostly, but almost all of it was twisted out of context to the point it didn't quite even mean what it was actually supposed to mean. 

Just a few years in Bible School, and some thoughtful podcast listening, and some reading of scholars, and I feel like I've been awakened from the Matrix. 

The depth, richness, and nuance of the biblical text in its own original context makes American Christianity feel like a plastic version of the real thing. Like a Hot Wheels car held up by a three year old, next to the matching real car driven by his Daddy. 

It's not that we've been "wrong", most of the time... 

But I now see the entire culture of American Christianity as the church in Revelation that didn't know it was blind and naked. 

The Bible is more true for me now, than it's ever been, but, far less "simple" than I thought it was. 

I need to go write a blog post and stop pontificating.... 

Shalom y'all. 🤓

Sunday, May 30, 2021

My Ecumenical Walk-About... #EcumenicalWalkAbout

*This post being updated throughout the project.*

In Spring 2021, God started building in my heart the need to visit The Church throughout the region of North Idaho. While I've done many such church visitations throughout the years in different regions of the country, they were usually a more passing interest. On any particular Sunday, I was feeling wrestless so I randomly visited a church is never visited before. 

This time, it's highly intentional. 

I'm calling this season, my Ecumenical Walk-About.

My mission, as I understand it, is to visit as many different types of churches and church traditions as possible (even and especially those I would normally have discounted before even walking in the door). I'm not going to "find a new home church". That's not the point at all. My mission is to see how other bodies of believers worship God. While I am very likely to disagree with much of what I find, my goal is to find what they're doing right! What are they seeing I can learn from? Is there something they see about God or live out before God that I've been blind to or incomplete on, or less focused on in my own traditions?

#EcumenicalWalkAbout

These are the things I'm seeing:


Candlelight Church
5/9/2021

Pastor Paul was soft and personable, and seemed to have a sense of the body being the ones to do the work of ministry. He knows ministry isn't all about the pastor. Multiple services provide options for everyone to attend and serve. Free coffee and donuts was a nice touch, though I'd rather buy my latte (ha ha). I felt comfortable in the room, not self conscious, so that was nice. 

https://candlelight.org/



The Well
5/16/2021

Hannah and Michael are a couple I've served with before at a local church. So it was nice to visit family. They began incubating this start-up church months ago in small groups. This was their first corporate gathering. A group of about twenty or so people met in a conference center at a local camp ground. Hannah, Michael, and a few others sat on the fireplace. Michael played guitar, Hannah sung worship unto God in a free flowing way she's known for, and another provided backup vocals, still another beat out a rhythm on the congo 🪘. Michael provided a message. The free flow, hippie esque, feel made my significant other happy. It would be easy to feel family in an environment like this. I imagine something similar to this is how the early churc met. 

https://www.thewellchurchpf.com/


Compel Church
5/23/2021

Pastor David talked about what happened at the transition from Jesus to The Church, and how we are called to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. I got an image of Fractal Growth. The people seem to like each other, hang out for a while before and after service. The physical structure of the room provides for that atmosphere.

#EcumenicalWalkAbout

https://compelchurch.net/


Sr. Luke's Episcopal Church:
5/23/2021

The 1800's original architecture and old wood saturate the senses, as the history of the tradition walks you into centuries of prayers and rhthym. It was nice to hear whole readings of Biblical sections. The pastor (Priest?, Victor?) gave a warm message that felt honest and authentic, which reminded the hearer to be ever-aware of the spirit of God in us. We are now, as Jesus was, "emanu-el", God with us. On this Pentecost Sunday, a reminder that the spirit of God dwells in each of us. 

#EcumenicalWalkAbout

https://www.stlukescda.org/

Athol Baptist Church
5/30/2021

The people gathered as family. As I arrived, people gathered around chatting, nobody in any hurry to leave. Their unique older worship style reminded me of my church growing up. Lots of talk about doing things for the community, not just in word but in deed. The message was mostly centered around building up the local body. 

https://www.atholbaptistchurch.org/

New Life
6/6/2021

New Life isy home base. They've been my home church for a while. So it was nice to visit with friends. While I was there, I didn't end up in service though, because I met a guy who had a Bible question. Don't ask a biblical studies major a Bible question unless you have an hour. Ha ha... Oh well, I guess I was right where I was supposed to be. 

https://newlifehayden.com/

****Didn't grab a photo that service, but, I had a good photo shared with me.***


The Well
6/6/2021

Visited friends at The Well. This is what church is probably going to start looking like in the future, more and more as time goes on. It's good to see small local families gathering together.

https://www.thewellchurchpf.com/

Real Life
6/13/2021

The single largest church in the region. Still small compared to what I was a part of in Texas but large nonetheless. Since this is a post about what's they're doing right, I will withhold my thoughts about the messages, I attended two locations the same day. 

They believe on a culture of discipleship, and moving everyone into family groups. The leaders disciple leaders, and small group leaders are discipled by leaders and are expected to pastor their small groups well. They have massive resources and use a large stadium, thrift store, food bank. 

They are being the hands an feet of Jesus.

https://www.reallifeministries.com/























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