Crazy Life, Crazy Love

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People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I’m o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game,

John Lennon

 

Nope, I no longer play the game. I don’t want to play the game. The rules suck and I want no part of it. If I could overturn some tables I would. I’m not crazy; I’m just not going to follow traditions to make everyone happy. Just like someone I admire and most of you do to.

Mark 3:21 and 22 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him home with them. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”

These verses make me think about what some family and many religious people think of me. That I’m crazy or out of my mind that I have changed my beliefs from what I grew up with. According to Mark, I’m in good company. Even the family of Jesus thought that he was a lunatic and we follow what he taught 2000 years later. Now that’s crazy! Those that knew the law (their holy words) thought he was possessed and yet now the words of Jesus are the holy words. Maybe that is crazier!   Guess the religious know it alls didn’t quite know it all.

I think often it is a lot of misunderstanding. I’m misunderstood because my family lives so far away and don’t know me like they think they do. They see through a cloudy window filled with visions of what they remember me as. But that window has been fading for 20 years.

You see today, all I want is to stand up for the helpless, hurting, oppressed, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, help the homeless, clothe the naked, help the prisoner etc.. What I got from religious people is “they are sinning”,” they want to be like that”, “they live in a scary part of town”,” and they are the wrong color”, etc.. etc… I guess my question to them would be “what is Christianity?”

Is it a set of beliefs and like thinking and looking people or is it how we treat one another? When I look at Jesus and his teachings, he doesn’t discriminate against the Samaritans. Those people who married the wrong person and worship at that other place of worship is basically how they were seen in Jesus’ day. They were hated much like an illegal alien who was homosexual would be hated by religious people today. Samaritans were not welcomed in the homeland and they loved the wrong person.

But I want to be like Jesus, so I welcome these people. I make them know that Jesus is for them and that they are loved. Is that crazy or what? I bet that is what the Samaritan woman at the well thought. Crazy that someone like him actually talks to me. That just doesn’t happen. The woman caught in adultery probably thought,” thank God, someone actually cares.”

A few verses after this Jesus asks, Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at those around him and said, “These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (33-35) So get this. The real Christian family is the ones who follow God’s will of loving, self sacrifice, acceptance, kindness etc… are the real family members. They are the ones the religious leaders and those that follow the religious leaders think are crazy.

I like this quote by R.C.Sproul . He said “Was Luther crazy? Perhaps. But if he was, our prayer is that God would send to this earth an epidemic of such insanity.”  Like Jesus and like many reformers Luther had to be different (crazy) to change the world.

So let’s get crazy and make a difference. Drop traditions, drop the my way or the hellway, drop your stones and learn to accept and love people unconditionally as Jesus did. Let’s go CRAZY!

MY Reformation Begins

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Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the church?  John Calvin

 

After Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the “king of the Jews” I wonder if he ever regretted it. Did he ever think, “I don’t want to die yet?” I’m betting that was part of it as he prayed in the garden. “Not my will but yours.” What about Luther after he nailed his 95 thesis to the church bulletin board. Did he ever think “oops, what have I done?”

Each year as a minister I have to fill out an “Annual Service Report”, to let my denomination and district know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and that I still believe everything that they want us to teach. For most years I just check the boxes and go about doing what I believe to be right and true. This year was different. Maybe because I’m fed up with things or maybe because I feel a little freer, I decided to let them know what I felt about several things.

I let them know that the church wastes the money that is given. According to many statistics in an average church only 3-5% of all the tithes and offerings goes for outreach. If that was a charity would you give? Yet that is one of the biggest things a church should do. I think we should tell our pastors to get jobs, sell our churches and rent, but I know that won’t happen. We are stuck in the mindset of having beautiful churches and full time pastors. I know that is extreme but to change the church to where it needs to be needs to be extreme.

I also told them tithing was not important. It was a rule with many others that the church has that holds people back. We make people believe that if you do this that and the other things that you’ll be OK. But that isn’t what Jesus taught. His rules were love God and love others. You give out of that love, not out of duty. If people don’t follow the rules then we make them feel guilty so that we can control them. Get them to act like the rest of us, because we don’t want anyone to shake the boat. I mean Jesus never shook the boat. Oh wait, yes he did. Every time he met a religious leader. I could go on about how we make them feel about church attendance and being”involved in the ministries”. It’s constant “if you are not doing this and that, you’re not really a Christian” attitude. Instead we should be teaching them to love God and love others. If people see true love they will get involved.

John Cleese once said, “So real religion is about reducing our egos, whereas all the churches are interested in is egotistical activities, like getting as many members and raising as much money and becoming as important and high-profile and influential as possible. All of which are egotistical attitudes.”

Most of my board meetings have been about how we can get more people here instead of how we can meet more people’s needs. Church has become more about how the church looks (we look) than about those who are in need. In one church I belonged to the only out reach that went on was from me and my wife reaching out to kids and their families. One of those kids once told me that the only people who loved the kids were my wife and I and one 80 year old woman at the church. I told the board members that and they responded “Oh they are just kids.” It broke my heart to hear both of those statements.

Then I discussed the whole human rights issues of today and how the church has treated gay people wrongly with no scriptural backing.   Once again the church is using the Bible to hate people instead of love them. The church needs to embrace and love all people, not just those that act a certain way. That is Pharisitical thinking.   (Is Pharisitical a word?)

I’m sure that will get their attention, but if not I hit on the Inerrancy of the Bible and the idea that God gave the words to the writers. There are way too many contradictions in the Bible for a God to have put it together as one book with everything agreeing. God does not forget things, but as in my Bible quiz of last week there are so many variations to the stories in the Bible that there is no way God wanted us to try to make them all fit into one story. Reading each book separately is the only way to make sense out of what each individual writer was trying to say. We have to learn who wrote it, when they wrote it, to whom they wrote and why they wrote it before we can ever try to understand what it means to us. However the church teaches just pick it up and God will tell you what you need to hear.

So here I sit, waiting for the call. Like Jesus waited to be arrested and many reformers waited to be called to Rome, I will be called to stand for what I have done and said, because it is against the ideas of the church. They will have to convict me of some heresy, and no one will stand with me. They won’t because they’d be afraid that they would be next. But maybe, just maybe I can open some hearts to what Christianity is really about.

I leave you with these words from Martin Luther. “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you don’t say.”  And “Peace if possible, truth at all costs.”

So you think you know the Bible. A Last week of Jesus quiz

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Many questions will have more than one answer so be careful what you think might be right. Do you know your Bible or traditions better? Oh and yes, I threw in some funny answers to make it more enjoyable.

 

1)      What color was the robe that was put on Jesus?

  1. White
  2. Scarlet
  3. Purple
  4. Gold
  5. Rainbow

2)      On what animal did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on?

  1. Horse
  2. Donkey
  3. Colt
  4. A Harley

3)      What day was Jesus Crucified?

  1. The Sabbath
  2. The Day of Preparation
  3. Passover
  4. Fourth of July

4)      Who carried the cross for Jesus?

  1. Mel Gibson
  2. Simon of Cyrene
  3. Jesus didn’t have help
  4. Rufus

5)      How many trials did Jesus have?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. 40

6)      In what language was the superscription written that was placed above Jesus?

  1. Aramaic
  2. Greek
  3. Latin
  4. English

7)      What Priest was judge at Jesus’ trial?

  1. Judas
  2. Caiaphas
  3. Aaron
  4. Annas

8)      At what hour was Jesus crucified?

  1. 1st hour
  2. 6th hour
  3. 3rd hour
  4. Depends on if it was daylight savings time or not.

9)      How many of the thieves or robbers crucified with Jesus mocked him?

  1. None
  2. One
  3. Two
  4. Three

10)   How many angels/men met the women at the tomb?

  1. One Angel
  2. Two Angels
  3. Three Angels
  4. Two Men
  5. Two Men
  6. Two Men and a Baby
  7. An angel in the Outfield

 

 

1)      Matthew 27:28 uses kokkinos: Means Scarlet, Mark 15: 17 and John 19:2 use porphura which means purple

2) Mark 11:7 and Luke 19:35 say colt, Matthew 21: 5-7 says a donkey and a colt, John 12:14 say a donkey. Some versions use ass.

3) John 19:14 Jesus was crucified on the Day of preparation, therefore no last supper in the book of John. All other Gospels Jesus is killed on Passover, but before the Sabbath.

4) John 19:16 says Jesus carried his cross “into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 19.18 Where they crucified him,” Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 all say Simon the Cyrenian carried it for Jesus.

5) All gospels have Jesus tried before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, but only Luke adds a trial before Herod. Luke 23:7

6) Mark and Matthew did not specify, but Luke and John say Hebrew/Aramaic, Latin and Greek

7) John 18:24 Annas first and then Caiaphas Matthew 26:57-67 Only Caiphas

8) In the Gospel of Mark, it says Jesus was crucified on the “third hour” (Mark 15:25), and the Gospel of John says the crucifixion sentence was on “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14).

9) In Mark, the thieves say nothing, in Matthew both mock Jesus 27:44, in Luke one mocks Jesus and one defends him 23:32-43, in John again there is silence.

10) An angel of the Lord on the stone (Matthew 28:1-2) – “Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.”
A young man (Mark 16:5) – “And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”
Two men (Luke 24:4) – “And it happened that while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel.”
Two angels (John 20:1-2, 12) – “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him. 12 and she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.”

 

I do not write this quiz to mock Christianity in any way. I am a Christian, but many of us have tried to cram the 4 stories into one and with the differences that is very hard. Each author was trying to make points to their audiences and that is what we should be looking for. We have four stories written by four different people in different times to different audiences. Let’s not cram them together as one, but learn from their differences.

So next time you read a story, ask why this story is different and don’t try to make them the same story. Maybe you’ll learn something new.

Guess who said that. Founding Fathers and God

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Many people over the years have told me how Christian our founding fathers were but I have found that our founding fathers had some very harsh things to say about Christianity.  I put together a few of their statements.  See if you know who said them.

I have thrown in quotes by the following.  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and John Adams.  I also threw in some quotes by Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Hitler just to throw you off a bit.

1) “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

2) “But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed? How has it happened that all the fine arts, architecture, painting, sculpture, statuary, music, poetry, and oratory, have been prostituted, from the creation of the world, to the sordid and detestable purposes of superstition and fraud?”

3) “There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations….Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration.”

4) “Those who fight in God’s cause will be victorious.”

5) “What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence… so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the Creator.”

6) “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible”

7) “No oppressed or deceived or wrong, no master and no slave, but free brothers in a society over which, God willing, shall flutter the banner of brotherhood and quality. “

8) “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”

 

 

1) James Madison

2) John Adams

3) Thomas Jefferson

4) Saddam Hussein

5)Hitler

6) Ben Franklin

7) Gaddafi

8) Thomas Paine

 

How many did you get?  Yes, these are just a few quotes and there were many founding fathers.  Many of them it is hard to find quotes on Jesus or Christ.  They often use God providence or Almighty.  Even so I get the feeling that they are not unlike the politicians of today that use God, Christ, and religion to get elected.  Publicly they played the part, but privately they showed their true self. I’m sure that there were some that were Christians, but often it is made to seem like they all were deeply devoted Christians and they were not.

 

 

Where I got some of the quotes.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/23/list-of-hitler-quotes-he-was-q/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/m.html

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=103×340428

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gaddafi-quotes-the-dead-libya-dictator-275336

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/04/35-founding-father-quotes-conservative-christians-will-hate/

http://www.barefootsworld.net/founding.html