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Showing posts from September, 2017

Pet Bible-Thumping Peeves: Obey Authorities

We like an orderly world with easy answers. We like to leave darker issues for others to deal with and carry on with our comfortable living or at least seeking after our personal comfort. Along that theme, many have found security in reading a verse from Romans 13, where Paul instructs believers to “Be subject to the governing authorities.” Let's put a little bit of context to those words. Certainly, Paul had lived up to his own command here, as he was writing this letter to Rome most likely from prison, expecting to have an audience before Caesar. He was not in prison for having broken laws, but he had been taken into protective custody and then appealed to Caesar when he was about to be released and got wind that there was a plot to kill him. He had been imprisoned before on various occasions, but never for having disobeyed the law or the local authorities. So far, so good. Then, however, we have to look at a few other passages like Acts 4, where Peter and John were arrested an…

Pet Bible-Thumping Peeves: End of the World

Congratulations! You just survived one more prediction of the world coming to an end. Signs of the times are everywhere with earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, wars, rumors of wars, rampant immorality, etc. I don't know how many times I have had my survivor card punched, but there's no room for more punches. I don't care who is the one predicting the end of the world and Jesus' return, but they are lying to you. The Bible would call them all false prophets. If we want to follow the Bible strictly, rather than sending them money, they are supposed to be killed for leading people astray. Matthew 24 reports Jesus telling his disciples that even Jesus did not know the day or hour of his return. He gave them no signs of his return, only of the destruction of Jerusalem. That happened in 70 AD, not quite four decades after Jesus' death and resurrection. Oh, Jesus does mention war, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues, and the sky growing dark. He also says …

Prophetic Depression - 1st Kings 19

We often have difficulties in dealing with psychological disorders. We are so used to thinking that we can be in control of ourselves, our actions, our speech, and our decisions that it is very hard to grasp that a psychological disorder is just as much an infirmity as appendicitis, cancer, pneumonia, or gout. It makes it harder for us to deal with something like clinical depression along the same lines as we deal with the flu, diabetes, or acid reflux. It is hard enough for us to understand dementia or Alzheimer's in a way that does not attribute shame or guilt on the victims of these conditions. With mental illnesses like depression, we tend to treat them as moral failures instead of health conditions which can be treated by a physician. Why is it so hard for us to treat people with love and acceptance instead of casting shame and condemnation for things beyond their control? Of all psychological disorders, perhaps depression is one we are most ready to deal with as a moral failu…

In Search of Life's Meaning

In some ways we get off track looking for "the" meaning of life. Instead, we need to look for ways to make life meaningful. That can be done in more than one way. Yes, I find meaning in God, but not the way some proclaim it. Far too often I hear Christians shouting praises to God, lifting up the name of Jesus, and so forth, but I don't get the sense they really understand what worshipping and praising God really is, much less what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ. God does not fill our lives with meaning simply because we profess to trust Jesus or claim that God is powerful and exists. Rather than some magical or emotional infusion of a sense of discovery, God offers us a sense of purpose in the process of living according to God's will and priorities for our lives. This is not because God has some arbitrary list of commandments, but because God grants us a way to discover a better way of living through loving our fellow human beings, serving the needs of o…

Unclean Foreigner

I lived near Charlottesville, Virginia for several years. In the midst of a very conservative rural portion of the state, Charlottesville stood out as a beacon of higher education and a town with a very cosmopolitan flavor. We encountered Ethiopian cuisine, Indian cuisine, a Brasilian pizzeria, and a host of people that gave it a feeling of having a place in the global economy. To find it the center of a rallying place for a demonstration to unite the alternative right groups of white supremacy is quite a shock to the identity of Charlottesville as a gathering place for people from all walks of life, races, cultures, and backgrounds. To hear claims of white supremacy in Charlottesville linked to avowals of Christian faith forces me back to the struggles of my own heritage with issues of race in opposition to the teachings of Christ Jesus. In Matthew 15, we find Jesus leaving Israel after talking with others about issues over ritual impurity and what defiles someone before God. The stan…

September Musings

September is an interesting month. It is a time of transition between summer and fall. It is still summer, but the school calendar does not know that. It is the transition to fall, but the weather does not normally grasp that concept. While September is a month in which we step into a new season, it is also a time when we get back into established routines. Our lives are often just as complicated. They are filled with new beginnings which are not always as new as we might project them to be. What is new is often a known routine. What is an established routine is somehow different as we enter into a new experience and gain a new perspective. The expectations we bring from one year of experience often does not match up to the realities we confront in the next one. So life continues to offer us challenges and opportunities to grow, learn, and adapt to new realities. My latest stint in the hospital has brought a new context for my life. I am not used to struggling for the energy I need t…