Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Reasons You Cannot Help but Read Lists (even though you hate them)

Let's face it we all cannot help but read a list.  Whether its the "Top 5 Cancer Causing Foods", or the "Top 10 Signs Vampires are Real:; you are drawn to click and scans every list you come across.  Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo, the ubiquitous presences of lists has becoming daunting.  You know your should get back to work, but you just saw another article on "The 8 Ways your Spouse is Secretly Killing you" and you must read it now.  Lists become an addiction; you want to get away but you can't.  So below I made the top 5 reasons why lists are made and read despite everyone's deep hatred for them.  Hope you enjoy, though you probably won't.

1.  No Time Left for You - Writers know you don't like to invest time in things like reading.  Waiting for an author to develop a sound argument through paragraphs of questions, information, and conclusions is so 1950's.  Lists provide the shallow relationship that we in America love so much.  You can read the headings in the list to get the authors idea.  If you don't life the heading you can end your commitment to the article there, but if you are intrigued you are invited to read more.

2.  Instant Wisdom - Lists are magical.  For some reason deep down inside we believe if we grasp all the concepts in a list, apply them to our life, then our life will become better.  Whether the list is about dieting or relationships, we feel that if we can just grasp the lists concepts we will master our troubles. 

3.  Readership, Readership, Readership - Clicks.  Online literature is measured not by usefulness nor accurate information.  Online articles are all about the clicks.  No one really cares if you read the article, as long as you click it.  This encourages more people to write more lists which simply feeds our addiction.  When we see an article has become viral, we begin to think it must have useful and accurate. 

4. Imagination Termination -  Lists require no creativity, only a number, followed by a period and some vague information.  Lists mean the writer can be lazy.  If the writer can be lazy and quickly crank out an article it leaves more time for the author to read their own lists or create more.

5. Numbers are reputable - Lists have a way of creating a sense of accurate undisputable information.  Many of the lists online are simply opinions, but if you number your points they instantly become hard tested truths in the minds of readers. 
This is why lists are so popular, but leave us feeling empty inside when we are done.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why the Church should stand behind higher wages

I want to be clear, I am not advocating for government intervention for a minimum wage increase, I am advocating for a compassion intervention.  Don't get me wrong, I would not oppose an increase in minimum wages to a livable salary, but making people pay livable wages does not change anyone's heart.  So, if legislation was passed to increase minimum wage I would be completely behind it, but it would still fall short of the greater goal.  The greater goal is to have consumers, employers, investors, and employees to see the working force not just as soulless line items, but as human beings.  The greater goal is not to force, but to compel people to move in the direction of providing every full-time worker with a livable wage regardless of education, race, background, ethnicity, religion or language.


"Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain" (Deut. 25:4).  This scripture passage is one of those that sound too odd to be in the Bible.  But the passage centers on compassion and fair treatment.  While your ox is working and treading the grain, you cannot cover its mouth so that it will not eat in the midst of the work.  The ox deserves to eat and be provided for while doing the work it is being required to do.  The one who is using the ox to do the work is responsible to make sure the ox get what it needs.  If this is how we treat animals, certainly human beings deserve better.  This means that employees, who are doing the work required of them, are the responsibility of the employer to make sure they have enough to survive.  Currently the minimum wage 40 hours a week worker earns far below the poverty line.  Employees are falling further and further behind, the responsibility of the employer to provide has fallen on government programs.

1 Timothy 5:18 quotes this Deuteronomy passage adding Luke 10:7 "the worker deserves his wages."  One who works and does the work required of them deserves to be paid a wage that provides a basic level of living. 

James 5:4 says that the wages you refuse to pay the worker who worked your field have been noticed by the Lord Almighty.  If God notices our refusal to pay our workers, I believe God still notices when we pay our employees inadequately. 

Sometimes we fall into the mistake that God only cares about our "spiritual existence" but this is nothing but empty religion.  Scripture is full of mandates concerning provision for our neighbors.  God is concerned with our economic system, and Christ cares for how we treat the "lowest" of employees.  Lack of education or training is not an adequate excuse to underpay the children of God. 

One of Jesus' most enamoring names he has for us is "sheep."  Scripture, more than a few times, refers to God's people as sheep.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd in John 10, and leaders and elders of God's people are also called shepherds.  Sheep have a fairly simple job, grow wool.  Sheep basically do their job just by existing. For us humans, our jobs are much tougher.  It is the Shepherd's job to care, protect, and provide for the sheep.  Ezekiel 34:2-4 has some harsh words for Shepherds who do not care for their sheep:

            Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds       take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter      the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the       weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.

This passage is most often read with national or spiritual leaders as the Shepherds and I believe that is the most accurate place to begin.  However, the passage does not intend to stop there.  I also believe that this passage can and does talk to employers.  If you demand the work of your employees, if you consume 40 hours a week of their life, if you profit from their toil, and they go hungry or naked then you are judged as an unjust Shepherd. Employers, along with leaders, and pastors, are called not to care just for themselves, but for those they are over.  I believe God gifts and appoints employers along with pastors, teachers, and leaders to use their talents to provide sustainable and fulfilling jobs, economies, societies, schools, etc. however, we have fell woefully short.

Our prayers and church attendance is not enough when our employees, who are our brothers and sisters, do not have enough.  We must push, we must strive, we must struggle to ensure our brothers and sisters who work do not also have to beg. 

The truth is there is enough.  Jesus Christ has made sure of this.  God in his infinite wisdom did not intend to create a universe where people must suffer for others to survive. What creates this suffering? Sin! We have to stop believing the law that there is not enough to pay everyone enough.  There is plenty, God has designed it that way.  If there is enough for 5,000 with 12 baskets leftover, than there is enough for all of us. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Join the Movement

When was it decided that those who we deem "under educated" do not deserve jobs that pay livable salaries?  In the midst of protests to increase wages to $15 from corporations such as McDonalds and Walmart there has been a backlash against the cause.  Many people are finding it extravagant to pay a human being a livable wage for a "burger flipping job." Many are arguing that these are entry level jobs and are occupied by the "under educated."  The argument goes, since these are entry level positions and these people do not have the education deemed necessary by some arbitrary standard to obtain certain wages, than these employees and their families do not have the right to be paid a wage above the poverty line.
Granted cooking fast food does not require a great deal of education or training, but it is still work.  Workers at McDonalds and Walmart show up every day and do all the work required of them on their feet for 8 plus hours a day.  Just because people do not graduate college, or maybe even high school does not mean they do not deserved to be paid a livable wage.  Livable wages should not be based on education, but on being a human being.
People who work McDonalds and Walmart work just as hard and I am sure sometimes even harder than many of their executives sitting in comfortable offices.  McDonalds and Walmart are not some startup companies that cannot afford to pay their employees better; instead they are greedy enterprises with gross amounts of profit and bonuses for top executives who refuse to acknowledge that it is human beings with families who work their stores.
It is true a good education can land you a better job, but lack of a "sufficient education" should not prevent you from a livable salary for the rest of your life. 
Our arguments against better wages do not work.  When God asks why we did not pay our neighbors, friends, and employees a livable wage for them and their families, God will not accept our distorted views of economics that declare they did deserve such compensation due to lack of education.  Education is not the deciding principle to livable wages, but being made in the image of God. 
God calls us to make sure all people are provided for.  We are called to care for the poor, homeless, and unemployed.  Yet, we cannot even learn how to care for the least of these, if we refuse to pay respectable and livable salaries.  Let us learn to stand with these workers.  Let us not be afraid to demand livable wages, let us not be afraid to take the power away from the corporation and give it to the people.  Let us see people not as products of services, but as people who bear the image of God.


Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm the modern christopher columbus

With financial support from a respected royal I decided to set sail down the street in hopes of discovering new places to eat.  I must truthfully admit that during the 3min journey hope had been lost more than once.  However, my perseverance brought me success as I discovered a McDonalds.  After discovering the McDonalds I poisoned all the employees after befriending them and claimed the new land property of the Burger King.  I must embarrassingly admit for the first few hours I thought I had landed at a Wendy's restaurant.   However, revisionist history will certainly be kind to me and this day will be celebrated among all McDonalds as the day a younger brave voyager found an undiscovered fast food joint.

Sound ridiculous?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Government Closed: The Kingdom Still Open

Are we not supposed to have some of the smartest leaders in the world?  Are we not supposed to have the example of government for other world nations to follow?  What has happened?

No matter how bright of people you gather together, no matter how perfected a system, no matter how carefully distributed the power, we run into catastrophic shutdowns.

We could easily replace all the House, and the Senate, and other powers and positions with brighter more fairly minded people, yet eventually we would run into similar problems, or a whole set of new ones.

The limits of the great Pax Americana are rearing their ugly head.  And while it may be all too obvious of a statement now, I feel it must be said that the Kingdom of God is not the same as the authority of the United States.

The very best solution that our government could stumble upon will ultimately fall short of God's Kingdom.  This does not mean that government cannot be good, but that it is hopelessly limited.  While it is perfectly reasonable to want your government to make civil, thoughtful, and well-meaning policies and procedures, it is foolish to think the government can and will provide for every need.   Our government, nor any other, can provide sufficient security, ample health, meaningful peace, lasting international relationships, unity, honest justice, happiness, or purpose. 

We can look at the world around us and see that it is not government that provides these things.  There are people who have all these without a healthy government.  That is because these things are not offered by human rule, but by the Kingdom of God.  Christ Jesus is the creator of all things including thrones, and dominions, and rulers and powers (Col. 1:16).  It is in him all things hold together (17) because it is in him alone that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (19).  Things do not hold together by any form of government except by the government of Jesus Christ.  That government is not a democracy, a republic, a dictatorship, or oligarchy, but a monarchy; it is a kingdom, the Kingdom of God.  Things outside the Kingdom will eventually fall apart because Christ holds all things together.  Leaders will stumble and fall because Christ alone as all the fullness of God.  He created true power and authority, so any rule that excludes him excludes true power and authority.

We should not be surprised that we are in the situation we are in.  We have a vast amount of people who lead with their pride.  True leadership needs to lead with humility.  True leadership needs to seek not the kingdom of their own self-interest but the Kingdom of God,.  If leaders seek first what is true, what is good, what is noble, and who is God, we become closer to living in the Kingdom.  And his Kingdom looks much better than any other government that ever has and ever will be fashioned.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Idolarty of Intel. Is the NSA playing GOD

Manning, Snowden, Assange, Wikileaks, NSA.  We have seen a lot of news and events circling the topic of secrets, information gathering, and who has the rights to collect and reveal classified information.  The U.S. government has deemed it necessary to collect untold amounts of information on citizens without a warrant.  Our governing bodies can collect, store, and eventually review copious amounts of what once was private information in cell phone conversations, and personal emails to use against those who may plot our country's ruin.

This is just what we know.  I am no conspiracy theorist, but if the U.S. is upset at people revealing facts about domestic espionage on its own citizens through only cell phones, and emails, it stands to reason, there may be even more going on.

I do find it unsettling that we have allowed our officials to collect private information, scan our bodies at air ports, and allow our children to be handled in a pat down all in the name of safety.  But let me ask a question; do we feel any safer?

I believe that most of our leaders have the right intentions.  I believe most think they can make us safer.  However, I also believe our forefathers knew well about the dangers of a government with too much power.  I believe too much power lends itself to great corruption.  I believe the lengths that have been gone for our safety have only angered more people who now foster ill-will.  I believe we have allowed our government to play god by allowing access to our privacy.  We have allowed our bodies to be scanned and groped.  We have allocated great wealth away from education and medical solutions in order to build weapons of unspeakable horror. 

We have fallen into idolatry.  We have made our military our god.  Our government and its ready defense has become what we trust most.  We have given this false god immeasurable power to protect our way of life, to give us freedom, to bring us peace, to ensure us life and cast judgment on the wicked.  We have fallen into a blind faith of civil-religion in which our priests are our military, our bishop's members of the federal government, our pope the president, and our objects of worship mere war machines.  I don't think this was the plan.  Again I think good intentions were behind all this, but this is the strength of evil; taking good intentions and perverting them into something frightening.

When we see more of our children come home from war with bodily or mental injuries, or when they don't come home at all, that should be a sign that something is not right.

Perhaps I am taking this a little too far.  I have been accused of being a little too dramatic in the past.  However, as a follower of Christ, I put my hope in Jesus first.  It is Jesus as God who has established and protects my way of life, he gives me freedom, he brings me peace, and he alone carries out judgment.  It is God who I submit my private information, my body, and my hope.

I think fellow followers of Christ need to be careful about blindly accepting what has been going on. I think we have stripped God of his power and handed over to a false god (figure of speech we are not powerful enough to take away God's power).

I believe in order, I believe god likes it when we organize rules and a way of life.  However, I believe that power needs to be kept in check, power needs to be divided, power needs balance; otherwise governments become divine wielding Caesars.  We need to remember the place of government, firmly placed under God.  When God is truncated by our policies, anything will be done to protect us, even if that means violating our freedom.

A god of war cannot save us from the fear of death; we need a god of resurrection.  We need a god of new life, a god of peace, a god that can redeem us, our relationships, and our world. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

What makes church different?

I pastor a mid size church in west Indianapolis.  Where we are located we see lots of need.  We see families struggle with feeding their families, rampant addiction problems, and homelessness camped out under bridges.  We try to do our best to help those in need.  We provide a food pantry once a month to struggling families.  We have a weekly meal to provide a delicious dinner for free and give parents a night off from cooking.  We dispense bread through our Community Center daily, and offer clothes as much as 25 cents, and sometimes free for those really hurting.  We provide fantastic preschool program that offers several scholarships to those in our community.  We work with the local school to help provide school supplies; we partner with the city to offer free meals during summer.  We also help support other ministries and charities.  We give to the local Edna Martin Center, Missions over seas, schools, and we give some emergency assistance to individuals. 

I recognize that there are a lot of other charities that may do similar things, and I am grateful for the other organizations that are committed to making their local communities a better place.  I mention all we do not to boast or gloat.  I know there are other churches and charities that do even more.  I mention all this because it shows what we have in common with other non-profit organizations, and government charity programs.  The truth is the Church is not unique in its work for the poor.  However, the church does have a distinct difference in its work for the hurting that government programs and other charities cannot provide.

This morning a woman who had battled and defeated cancer found out after 5 years of being cancer free that it had returned.  The first time cancer took most of her voice, and left her with scar tissue in her throat that needs to be cleaned out every so often.  Now caring for her granddaughter on her own the cancer has returned.  This is where the church became the church.  We gathered around her, laid hands upon her and prayed for her.  Then several members of the church who hardly knew this woman began making arrangements to go to her appointments with her.  The church offered not just to provide charity, the church offered to be her family.  This is what the church has the power to do that others can't, to be family together, to support one another not just with money, not just with donations, but with inclusion into a family.
 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” - Gal 4:4-6

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

An Offensive Faith

My faith may be a little offensive.  I believe that God became man in Jesus Christ, died a gruesome death, and rose from the grave.  I believe he did this willingly and some may find that offensive. 

I believe Jesus came to open the Kingdom of God to people who do not deserve it.  I believe prostitutes, adulterers, thieves, murderers, and others are called and invited by God and his Son Jesus to enter into his Kingdom.  I believe that the "the basically bad people" beat out the "basically good people" to the Kingdom.  This offends some people.

I believe that Just War is an oxymoron, and weapons of violence are never sufficient for dealing with the evils of the world.  I believe the most prepared are not necessarily the best nations.  I see evil and wrong on both sides of the battle line.  I believe God wants us to lay down all weapons for all times no matter how good of a rational argument you can make for owning one.  God wants us to turn our weapons into gardening tools so we can plant new life, not violence and death.  This can be offensive.

I believe that rulers are fallen and prone to corruption like all people.  I believe that my leader is King and I belong not to this nation or that nation, but to his nation.  I believe there are other people of other nationalities, languages, and governmental associations, legal and illegal who are also parts of this same Kingdom.  I believe that I and others are more than citizens, but children, and we are therefore brother and sister.  I find it hard to hate my brother and sister simply because a political leader says they are a national enemy.  I believe my leader is perfect, and the only true one.  This will certainly offend some.

I believe that our global economy is one based on greed.  I believe we market wealth off the enslaved backs of the world's poor.  We demonize and dehumanize the poor calling them wicked or lazy.  We live in a world where "success" is actually failure.  I believe we enslave millions of people today by disgusting unlivable wages to get what we want.  This will offend many.

I believe we do not know what love is.  I believe love is choosing to lay down your life for others, to be patient and kind.  I believe love has no reason besides love itself.  I believe love is for the good and the bad, the just and unjust, the deserving and undeserving.  I believe we have exchanged love for desire and it has made us less than human.  I believe we vilify those with certain sexual orientation to hide our own failure to understand and love each other the way God invites us to love and be loved.  I believe love is death on a cross.  I believe God is love.  This offends most.

I believe we throw in a dollar to help charities not because we care, but to assuage our moral guilt.  We can buy shoes, food, clothes, and concert tickets to raise money to send to the struggling, so long as we benefit.  This hardly changes anything.  Very few will give time, heart, home, at their own cost.  We too often practice false religion by bank rolling financial issues which create greater problems instead of practicing true religion and caring for people.  This should offend us all.

I believe God is working to bring the hurt and struggling into his Kingdom.  I believe God is leading the drunk to worship him, and the poor to trust in him.  I believe God is inviting the hurt to find healing, and broken communities to come together.  I believe God has planted a small seed which is growing in neighborhoods and homes of those who are part of God's Kingdom.  I believe God is turning away from leaders, the influential, professional, programs, and the initiated and putting his will in the hands of the humble.  I believe God's work cannot be stopped and that food will become plenty, health will become inevitable, life will flourish, and peace will rule.  I believe all this will come from God and his Spirit and through him alone.  This is offensive.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Are We Spiritual People?

It is amazing how many people turned their undivided attention toward the Vatican in the days the conclave of cardinals convened to elect a new Pope.  The religious, unreligious, anti-religious, and indifferent awaited the black smoke to turn white, and the identity of the new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics to emerge.  The world eagerly awaited the name Francis I to be chosen, and the personality and character of the new Pontiff to surface. Why do so many unaffiliated with the Catholic Tradition become so interested in their new leader?  Why when the Catholic Church has undergone much criticism and scrutiny over their global transgressions of sexual immorality, and rape, have many people become invested?  Perhaps it is just the sheer greatness the Church has over the world that draws our gaze.  Maybe many are simply hoping for a cleaning up of corruption by the new Pontiff.  Maybe, it is just the newest story in the news to grab headlines, and no one truly cares. 
I tend to believe that the new Pope, his upbringing, history, character, and influence has more to do with our own spirituality.  Most people realize that they are spiritual people.  Whether you go to church or not, chances are you recognize a spiritual side to your being.  Even the social sciences have recognized that importance of Spiritual Health in the overall health of an individual.  Nearly every day I meet people who tell me they are spiritual people, but not religious.

Spirituality is important to people.  The Catholic Church strives to be a spiritual institution, therefore, when news of a new leader is on the rise, people cannot help but be interested for their own spiritual sake.

There are books upon books that talk about becoming more spiritual.  We can take classes about becoming aware of our spiritual being.  There are retreats, seminars, movies, shows, prayers, songs, gurus, chapels, sanctuaries, meditations, drugs, movements, and therapies that all promise to make us more spiritual people.

The problem is that nothing can make us "more spiritual" just as nothing can make us "more emotional."  A book, movie or song, can tug at our emotions, and books, songs, and movies can tug at our spirit, but these are only short term accomplishments that have no lasting fruit.  They do not make us more emotional or more spiritual. 

I have spent time in my life trying to become "more spirituality."

I kept telling myself if I read one more book, or learned one more philosophy, or recited just one more prayer, one more teaching, I could find that gap in my spirit to fill me. We look for these quick answer that cost us a small price to fill our needs, and we find ourselves still wanting.  This is all indicative of our self made human construct.  When we are hungry we drive thru McDonalds and buy our physical fulfillment.  When we feel inadequate we buy a book or class to teach us one more trade, when we feel sad we buy one more drug or drink to make us happy, when we are unfulfilled we buy one more movie, or vacation, or a bigger television. When we feel that our image is hurting we buy one more piece of clothing, when we lose our joy we look for one more relationship.  When things are broken we buy our way into healing.  We look for quick fixes or complete replacements.  This has become our spiritual being.

We think if we get another tattoo, or piece of jewelry or another sacred relic we might fill that spiritual void.  In a way we think if a better leader is chosen to lead the spiritual, no matter how skeptical we are of the tradition, we too might be spiritually filled.

However, nothing can make us "more spiritual"; we are already spiritual, just like we are already physical, emotional, and social.  What we need is spiritual health and guidance.  As much as we wish and pretend, true physical health cannot come from an easy fix.  Doctors since the beginning of time say right eating and right exercise leads to physical health.  The same is true with our spiritual health.  What we put into our spirit, and what work we do with our spirit will decide if we are healthy or not. 

Our spirits are hungry.  Pills and vitamins are good, but they will never cure hunger.  Books, and traditions are good, but they will never cure our spiritual hunger.  We need spiritual bread, bread that will make sure we never go hungry.  We need spiritual water, so that we never go thirsty.  We need a spiritual task so that our souls do not apathy. 

We miss where to find spiritual food, drink, and work because of its simplicity.  We often want to find a secret, hidden, undiscovered truth for ourselves that we can keep and control. The truth is that this spiritual food, drink, and work are given to all people.  It is not just the intellectual, powerful, or those who have arrived who have this spiritual sustenance, in fact they typically overlook it.  This food is accessible to all as a gift.  Our spiritual life cannot be bought or earned.

The question is, are you hungry?  Are you thirsty?  Are you lost?  Are you willing to be fed and filled?  Are you ready to be given drink and quenched?  Are you longing to journey down a road toward healing and companionship?

Eat:  Jesus says - I am the bread of life (John 6:35)

Drink:  Jesus says - Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)

Follow:  Jesus says - The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29)

There is much more to be said about all this.  I am not simply forcing or pushing anyone into something.  I am simply inviting you to ask honest questions, and give honest answers.  How is your spirit?  Are you searching from place to place, addiction to addiction, teaching to teaching, trend to trend?  Is your spirit fulfilled? 

What does Jesus mean when he says we can be fed on him?

What does it mean to believe in Jesus as a work?

What would your spirit begin to look like if you regularly went to Jesus to be fed, quenched, and commissioned?

Monday, February 11, 2013

God's Kingdom, and the Papacy's Kingdom: One is Not Like the Other

Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down at the end of February leaving the Pontiff position open.  The Cardinals will gather together in secret while the world will wait and watch for the rising smoke that signifies a new Pope.  With the Vatican's various missteps in theology, scandal, and unawareness make me wonder if this new appointment will even matter.

In Mathew 16 Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is the reason for the Peterine Pontiff.  A careful reading shows that Jesus most likely did not give Peter himself the keys, but all his disciples.  If we read it where Jesus gives such responsibility to all his gathered disciples, than would this key not be copied and handed down to all disciples of Jesus?

Jesus wanted to let Peter and his disciples know that what they did on earth mattered.  The message of forgiveness, healing, and God's love was theirs to share.  They were given a message that invited people to a new life, a whole life, an eternal life.  The key was not for the disciples and Peter to hold people spiritually captive.  The Vatican, however, has become a city built for its own purposes.  The hat, the shoes, the clothes have removed the simple and powerful message from the broken and moved to the halls of decadence and indifference. 

Jesus, Peter, and his disciple did not sit upon thrones removed from the dirtiness of life.  Jesus washed feet, touched those with infectious skin diseases, stayed in the homes of greedy tax thieves, spoke and showed true love to prostitutes, slept in boats in the middle of storms, laid his head on rocks, and died on the cross.  Is the Pope not to be this example?

Unfortunately I do not see the Vatican being serious about the message of Jesus.  If the Cardinals, and Bishops, and Vatican royalty were authentic about the life giving message of Jesus our Christ, they would abdicate all their power, wealth, comfort, and position.

There are so many priests, pastors, and preachers who have given up so much only to have their message of good news to the poor, weak, sad, and imprisoned corrupted by the lie lived by the Pontiff. 

The truth is the Kingdom of God invites us to join the advancing ranks of God's love and forgiveness.  However, we cannot serve two masters, nor can we serve two Kingdoms.  We cannot serve God and money, God and pride, God and fame, God and Vatican, God and Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party, or any other.  God invites us to empty ourselves of any desire for power, money, and influence exemplified by the Vatican so that God can fill us with hope, peace, and joy. 

Therefore let us not sit and wait idly why another Kingdom elects its leader.  The truth is we have been given the Keys to another Kingdom.  While many other places may keep us locked out Christ not only invites us in, but he gives us keys.  Let us be active in using those keys to invite others into the ever expanding loving Kingdom of God.

Friday, February 1, 2013

a church for outcasts

I write this with a heavy awareness of what is happening in the world.  You do not have to listen very closely to hear the rhetoric of hate, anger and division that plagues our world, our nation, and our churches.

Fiercely we see people debate homosexual marriage, and immigration.  We see passion burning so hotly that it consumes us and those around us.  In the midst of all the politics, and all the arguments, and all the assumptions we have forgotten to listen to our Heavenly Father.

Perhaps we have been so focused on morality, or holiness, or tradition that we have forgotten the gospel...the good news.  Too often what we argue does not sound like good news.  I think we are so eager to make political stands, we forget to see that we are not standing on the rock.

These two issues homosexual marriage and immigration are very divisive yet very important for the church today.  How we speak about these and how we deal with them is extremely important to Christ.  But before we even begin to think and speak about such things we must remember the message of the gospel, the good news.

We need to remember Jesus began his preaching ministry in Matthew with the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says:

Blessed are the poor in spirit for there's is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted

Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:3-5)

Jesus blesses those whom we would not otherwise see as blessed.  If Jesus preached that sermon today, who would he mention as those who are blessed?  Certainly we could mention the poor, the sad, and the weak.  But who fit in this category?  Jesus' list in Matthew 5 is not exhaustive; there are many more we could add such as:

Blessed are the immigrants for they will be given a home

Blessed are the homosexual for the Father will pour his love on them

Blessed are the tattooed for God will put his mark on them

Blessed are the drunk, high, and strung out, for God will inject them with the Spirit

Blessed are the mentally ill, for God will be mindful of them

Blessed are the single parents, for God will be their partner

Blessed are the children with no mothers or fathers, for God is their heavenly Father.

We could add so many to this list.  These are people who are hurt, ostracized, and often seen outside of God's favor.  Oftentimes we keep them at arm's length.

Remember the ministry of Jesus.  Remember who he healed, whom he touched, whom he ate with, spoke with, did ministry with.  Remember whom Jesus welcomed and who he blessed.  Instead of worrying too much about political solutions we should focus on Christ solutions.  Our arms are not made to push people away, but to bring people in. 

Look around today, who can we bless, who is Christ blessing today?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Too Many Words, No Real Change

Have we simply become a mere nation of words?  Our blogs, Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, and endless comment sections have polluted our world into a garbage heap of words.  Our words are spoken so quickly and flippantly that they never really amount to anything more than just garbage.  We defend and offend our hidden monologues inside virtual dialogues.  We pass words pack and forth without anyone listening. 

We start revolutions from our arm chairs, and call out injustice while we sip our lattes.  We decry oppression and hunger from our third world manufactured tablets and phones.  

We raise awareness without raising an arm, unaware that our words have died the moment they were conceived.

Our words are not spoken anymore, they are merely written.  Our words are formed without oxygen, and without oxygen nothing can live.

Our words do not move.  Our words are not even real. Words created digitally do not even really exist in the physical world, and therefore they have no real power, no real movement, no real meaning.

We talk without talking, we communicate without communing.  We no longer share instead we market, and no longer listen, instead we consume. 

We have allowed words with no life to define us, instead of defining our words with life.

Words have power when they have life behind them.  Words have life not only when they compel action, but when the words were created by action. 

We have it backwards.  Words do not create meaning, meaning creates words.

I believe in a word,

 A word with power.

A word with life.

A word created by meaning.

 I believe in a word that was not created by anything, but itself created what we know and see.  I believe in a word with breath and spirit.  I believe in a word that has power to save, and redeem the broken dead words in all of us.  I know a word that combines us all into a grand story of salvation and victory.

 I know a word,     

  -      The Living Word.

 "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God" (John 1:1).