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good questions!

good questions!

At what point do we move past the description of all that we are against and actually take an active stand for something? When do we stop just talking about religion and wishing others would be more like us and instead start doing the things Jesus asked us to do? If over a thousand women could devote an afternoon to high tea and hearing about how we should resist the culture, how awesome would it be if that many women instead took an afternoon to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this hurting world?

Good questions, Julie! Read the rest of Julie Clawson’s post: Questioning the ‘Survivor’ Mentality of Some Christians.

I agree that sometimes, perhaps most of the time, we get it backwards. We want to defend Jesus (which is to defend ourselves and our faith stance), rather than follow him. We want to prove ourselves right, rather than do what is right. They will know we are Christians by our …

“christian hate” should be an oxymoron!

“christian hate” should be an oxymoron!

I attach below an excerpt from a forwarded e mail I received the other day …

… when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don’t care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured: I don’t care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank: I don’t care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed “special” food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being “mishandled,” you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts: I don’t care.

And oh, by the way, I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s spelled “Koran” and other times “Quran.” Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and – you guessed it – I don’t care ! ! ! ! !

… Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ
2. The American G. I.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.


This was my response:

It is hardly Christian to say that you don’t care at all … about any other human being. What was it Jesus said? “Love your enemies …”

When terrorism teaches us to hate, terrorism wins. When we disparage the value of the life of any other human being, we have turned from Jesus’ way. People who know Jesus, really know Jesus, know better!

talking is easier than doing

talking is easier than doing

It is easier to write than to do. Easier to complain than to do. Easier to rant and grieve about injustice and unfairness, than to do anything substantial to change the course of injustice and unfairness. Easier to say “No matter who you are, you are welcome here,” than to do the actual welcoming. Easier to be moved to tears by a song about “Jesus in all his distressing disguises,” a song about people failing to meet the eyes of a beggar on the street, than to meet the eyes of the beggar who greets you the next morning on the street.

I am in Nashville this week for the Festival of Homiletics, being edified, insprired, challenged, prepared for ministry by faithful men and women, passionate women and men, perceptive pastors and prophetic preachers, and, mostly, by the God who speaks through them. It is a joy to be here, to be embraced by the Spirit of Jesus, by the wonder of the gospel, by the power of the Word … that speaks to us with the help of its interpreters, and even in spite of the help of its interpreters.

But, most of all, I am reminded how much I am a writer, a talker, a teacher, a commentator. That comes easy. That I do well. And that is a task to which I believe God has called me. But, before all that and above all that, I am called, as we are all called, to do … to do what Jesus does, to go where Jesus goes, whatever that means, wherever that means, with whomever that means. And that is harder for me … and maybe for you, too.

We need to help each other to be the church, to be faithful people, to be faithful followers of Jesus … by what we do. We need to prod each other, provoke each other, not let each other off the hook too easily. At the same time, we need to encourage each other and remind each other from where, from Whom we draw our strength. The songs, the prayers, the Bible study, the sermons make us ready — and remind us of the One on whom we depend — to do whatever it is that God calls us to do.

It may be big, it may be small, but it will be something.

beauty, and life, take time

beauty, and life, take time

I really liked today’s entry at inward/outward … so I am taking the liberty of reprinting it here for you!

By Macrina Wiederkehr

Life unfolds
a petal at a time

The beauty of the process is crippled
when I try to hurry growth.
Life has its inner rhythm
which must be respected.
It cannot be rushed or hurried.

Like daylight stepping out of darkness,
like morning creeping out of night,
life unfolds slowly a petal at a time
like a flower opening to the sun,

God’s call unfolds
a Word at a time

A disciple is not made in a hurry.
Slowly I become like the One
to whom I am listening.

Life unfolds
a petal at a time
like you and I
becoming followers of Jesus,
discipled into a new way of living
deeply and slowly.

Be patient with life’s unfolding petals.
If you hurry the bud it withers.
If you hurry life it limps.
Each unfolding is a teaching
a movement of grace filled with silent pauses
breathtaking beauty
tears and heartaches.

Life unfolds
a petal at a time
deeply and slowly.

May it come to pass!



From a Christian blog I read:

General Peter Pace’s comments calling homosexuals acts as immoral, and Senator Sam Brownback’s comments backing the General up are nothing less than hateful …

Grace is not about an indifferent acceptance of everything, but about an unconditional love for everyone. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came under fire this week for his characterization of homosexual behavior as “immoral.” The remarks may indeed have been ill-advised and unnecessary, and probably unwise and unloving to pin the “immoral” label on a group of people with a public statement like that. But I would not call the remarks “hateful.”

I would not hesitate to label acts of pride or envy or greed or bias or abuse as immoral, when in facts our churches are full of people who are prideful and envious and greedy and biased and abusive. To say so is not to be hateful, but to witness to the kind of life God desires for all people. The purpose of grace is not to condone but to transform.

All this is to say that well-meaning and humble and faithful Christians disagree about the “immorality” of homosexual acts. Some in good conscience and with love for their neighbors and with a genuine desire to follow Jesus affirm the expression of same-sex love as acceptable in the sight of God. Others in good conscience and with love for their neighbors and with a genuine desire to follow Jesus believe that obedience to God means that the only acceptable expression of sexual intimacy is between a woman and a man in marriage.

The issue is complex and, to state the obvious, is tearing our churches apart. I believe we need a healthy dose of charity and a whole lot of love and patience in dealing with each other as we work this through and try to do our best to follow where Jesus leads. We need to listen to each other, try to understand each other, acknowledge each other’s conclusions, even where we disagree, so that the church and its witness will not be destroyed by disagreement over this issue. To brand someone who disagrees as hateful doesn’t help …

speaking out against torture is not a “left”/”right” thing … it’s a following jesus thing!

speaking out against torture is not a “left”/”right” thing … it’s a following jesus thing!

The National Association of Evangelicals has endorsed a declaration confirming their opposition as people of faith, as followers of Jesus, to the use of torture under any circumstances, even in a “war on terrorism.” The permissibiity of “enhanced interrogation techniques” is not a “left”/”right” issue. It is an issue of basic human rights, of basic human dignity, of basic regard for Jesus’ teaching on the way we are to treat our neighbors and our enemies.

I am encouraged that the whole church is speaking with one voice on this issue. May our voice be heard! May our nation not find itself “winning” the war on terrorism at the cost of its own soul!

I am quoting here the whole of the executive summary of the declaration. You may find the summary in its original context and a link to the full declaration on the Evangelicals for Human Rights website.


Executive Summary

1. Introduction: From a Christian perspective, every human life is sacred. As evangelical Christians, recognition of this transcendent moral dignity is non-negotiable in every area of life, including our assessment of public policies. This commitment has been tested in the war on terror, as a public debate has occurred over the moral legitimacy of torture and of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees held by our nation in the current conflict. We write this declaration to affirm our support for detainee human rights and our opposition to any resort to torture.

2. Sanctity of Life: We ground our commitment to human rights in the core Christian theological conviction that each and every human life is sacred. This theme wends its way throughout the Scriptures: in Creation, Law, the Incarnation, Jesus’ teaching and ministry, the Cross, and his Resurrection. Concern for the sanctity of life leads us to vigilant sensitivity to how human beings are treated and whether their God-given rights are being respected.

3. Human Rights: Human rights, which function to protect human dignity and the sanctity of life, cannot be cancelled and should not be overridden. Recognition of human rights creates obligations to act on behalf of others whose rights are being violated. Human rights place a shield around people who otherwise would find themselves at the mercy of those who are angry, aggrieved, or frightened. While human rights language can be misused, this demands its clarification rather than abandonment. Among the most significant human rights is the right to security of person, which includes the right not to be tortured.

4. Christian History and Human Rights: The concept of human rights is not a “secular” notion but instead finds expression in Christian sources long before the Enlightenment. More secularized versions of the human rights ethic which came to occupy such a large place in Western thought should be seen as derivative of earlier religious arguments. Twentieth century assaults on human rights by totalitarian states led to a renewal of “rights talk” after World War II. Most branches of the Christian tradition, including evangelicalism, now embrace a human rights ethic.

5. Ethical Implications: Everyone bears an obligation to act in ways that recognize human rights. This responsibility takes different forms at different levels. Churches must teach their members to think biblically about morally difficult and emotionally intense public issues such as this one. Our own government must honor its constitutional and moral responsibilities to respect and protect human rights. The United States historically has been a leader in supporting international human rights efforts, but our moral vision has blurred since 9/11. We need to regain our moral clarity.

6. Legal Structures: International law contains numerous clear and unequivocal bans on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. These bans are wise and right and must be embraced without reservation once again by our own government. Likewise, United States law and military doctrine has banned the resort to torture and cruel and degrading treatment. Tragically, documented acts of torture and of inhumane and cruel behavior have occurred at various sites in the U.S. war on terror, and current law opens procedural loopholes for more to continue. We commend the Pentagon’s revised Army Field Manual for clearly banning such acts, and urge that this ban extend to every sector of the United States government without exception, including our intelligence agencies.

7. Concluding Recommendations: The abominable acts of 9/11, along with the continuing threat of terrorist attacks, create profound security challenges. However, these challenges must be met within a moral and legal framework consistent with our values and laws, among which is a commitment to human rights that we as evangelicals share with many others. In this light, we renounce the resort to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees, call for the extension of procedural protections and human rights to all detainees, seek clear government-wide embrace of the Geneva Conventions, including those articles banning torture and cruel treatment of prisoners, and urge the reversal of any U.S. government law, policy, or practice that violates the moral standards outlined in this declaration.

not crusaders for jesus, but followers of jesus

not crusaders for jesus, but followers of jesus

From an editorial by John Buchanan in the February 6, 2007 edition of The Christian Century …

I was representing my denomination on a visit to Croatia, not long after the shooting between Croats, Serbs, and Bosnians had stopped. The Croats are mostly Roman Catholic; the Serbs, Orthodox; and the Bosnians, Muslim. The conflict was about more than religion, but religion added fuel to the fire …

We … met Peter Kuzmic, an American who calls himself a Calvinist Pentecostal and who presides over the Evangelical Theological Seminary is Osijek and also holds a chair in world missions at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Kuzmic has pleaded with American evangelicals to stop using terms like “evangelical crusade” and “Balkan harvest” when they come to the region …

Kuzmic told me about a Serbian businessman named Antol who quit his job to go to work for the Agape Project, a refugee resettlement initiative. Antol’s new job was to bring together money, materials and labor to rebuild Muslim villages that had been destroyed in the war. While reviewing rebuilding plans submitted by a Muslim village chief, Antol noticed that the plans did not include rebuilding the mosques that had been leveled. ‘”Why no mosques?” Antol asked. The chief explained that he knew Antol was a Christian, so he assumed that there would be no help in rebuilding mosques. Antol answered: “We will help you rebuild your mosque because we follow Jesus, who told us to love our neighbors. And he told a story once about a man who stopped beside the road to help a victim whose religion was different from his own.”

Because we follow Jesus!

how the church gets it backwards

how the church gets it backwards

Jesus was always on the move.

Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lie down and rest.

Jesus was always on the move, going to the people, seeking out the people.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Jesus was always on the move, seeking out the people, and inviting them to follow.

Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.

Any fisherman knows — you don’t even have to be a good fisherman — you don’t catch fish by waiting for them to jump in the boat! You catch fish by seeking them out, by knowing their haunts and their habits, by learning to think … like a fish!

It seems to me that much of the time the church gets it backwards. Much of the time, I get it backwards. We aren’t moving, seeking, catching. We are holed up in our sanctuaries wondering why the masses aren’t streaming in the doors asking to be saved. We build it and wonder why they don’t come.

Jesus tells us to follow, to go where he goes, to do what he does.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

Which means in the same way, in the same fashion. Instead of developing evangelism strategies designed to get people in the doors and grow the membership of our churches, we need to develop evangelism strategies designed — to evangelize! — to get the Good News to the people who most need to hear it. There are churches that do it well, but most of us need to stop doing it backwards, turn ourselves around, go out the doors, and follow Jesus.