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!

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Let Him Die

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“Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them.”
Elvis Presley

Think of that person that you just can’t get along with.  Jesus says love them. Pray for those that actually persecute you.

Why do people wish evil on others?  “I hope they die!”  I know as kids we threw that around, but what is it that keeps that mentality in adults? “I hope they die!”  What if they do?  Wouldn’t you be sad?  Could it be possible that you’d actually be glad?  That would sicken me if that were true.  What would it benefit you if that person you think is so bad died?  But I don’t really think that’s the question.

The question may be “when did your heart die?”  When did a person’s life become so unneeded, so worthless that it would be OK to wish them gone?  If you are one that is wishing someone dead it may just be your heart that needs the help and not them.

This has come to mind a lot recently with several people that I know saying something like that about our President.  Why the hate? Most likely you don’t even know him personally.  He didn’t call you names or stab you in the back by telling your secrets.   He simply made decisions that you didn’t like. Then most likely you listen to your chosen biased media feeding into what you want to believe (and all media is biased) and you still wish him dead?!

There isn’t a president yet that has pleased the entire nation.  No one can and no one will.    I’m guessing you’d do no better.  Not because you have worse ideas but because it’s impossible to please everyone.  Even our Greatest presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, TR etc… had tons of opposition.  Who knows, maybe in 30 years Obama will be among them.  We don’t know what his decisions will bring in time.   Heck, Truman had one of the lowest approval ratings when he left office and he’s considered close to the top ten!

I could sit here and bad mouth Obama about his presidency.  I could have also openly bad mouthed every president since I’ve been alive.  Born during the LBJ presidency until today there would be plenty of impeachable offenses that we could name for each president, but wishing them harm or death?  I’m still not getting it.

When I was growing up we had respect for the office of the presidency.  I still do and often get attacked for asking people to relax on Obama.   We should start thinking about the good things our presidents do.   I liked Carter.  Still do.  Maybe not as far as his presidency but as a humanitarian he is someone to look up to.  Reagan was funny and brought our country together.  Bush H.W. didn’t like broccoli!  Clinton did well on the economy, Bush W. made me laugh, and I like the idea of the affordable care act.  If you screw up trying to help the poor, it’s better than doing nothing for them.   I applaud Obama for that effort.

If you truly look hard enough you can find good in people.  There is no reason to be mean or say hateful things.  No reason to speak about that guy on the corner asking for a hand out. Maybe he’s been laid off for a while?  Kicked out of his home?  Maybe they are a vet with PTSD that can’t deal with civilian life?   Maybe he really needs help.  No reason to belittle that woman in the grocery store with the screaming kids.  Maybe the kids are sick or she is just stressed out trying to make it on her own.  Instead pray for her.  What about that speeding driver?  Are they on their way to the hospital?  Did an emergency call come from home?

St. Paul says in Philippians 4:8 “Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.”  When you think on these things the hate for your fellow man will start going away.  It is simply letting go of the anger that is inside you.  Not that I’m perfect because I’m writing this article because things tick me off, but I don’t wish hate or pain on those that say things I disagree with.  I wish them peace.  I feel sad for them that they can’t get over their anger.

James 1:20 says for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  When we are filled with anger we are unable to truly love the way that God wants us to.  We can’t love our fellow man or woman.  We can’t even love ourselves.

Someday I hope that those without love will be able to find it.  Maybe the only way that they can find it is if they see it in us.  Let those of us who are able to love, let it shine and maybe we can overcome the hate of others.

I leave you with the words of another hated black man that I love.  MLK JR.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Live out the Dream!

Christians Left and Right Walking together

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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  Colossians 3:15

This past week I discussed or more correctly asked some questions of those who were more on the religious left.  A few weeks ago I talked about the problems with the religious right. What I see as the biggest problem is how each side read the Bible.  Funny how what is supposed to be God’s word can be so divisive and read in so many ways.

How we choose to read the Bible tells a lot about what our beliefs will be.  Literalists will discuss the rapture, anti-Christ, tribulation, Hell, Heaven, pro marriage, anti homosexual right, pro-life, Republican politics.  The left will discuss unity of all people, the spirit of Christ’s return, who wrote this section of the Bible?  Was it J, E, D, P, or A, or sometimes R?   They won’t talk about the tribulation and anti-Christ because it isn’t going to happen.  Those issues were for the writer’s time and not for today.  I’m taking a guess but I’d think most would vote Democrat but I also think they wouldn’t put a lot of stock in who was in office.  Most literalist would have no idea what those letters mean.

So there are a lot of things that could pull us apart, but it shouldn’t.  Instead it should bring us together to discuss our views.  That’s discussing the issue, not argue about why you are right.  I say that because that is often what it turns into.  Some heated argument about why we are right.  We often debate and not discuss our differences.  Debating means that I have to win.  Discussing means people taking the opportunity to learn from each other.   Don’t we serve the same God?

I believe that we have differences because that same God that we all serve has shown us what we need in our lives.  I have moved from the right towards the middle as God has shown me the hurts that living the ways of the right was missing.  Others I’m sure have moved from left towards the right for the same reasons.  If we do not move back and forth we probably aren’t learning anything and maybe we just simply become a Pharisee who seemed to think they knew what God really wanted.  After all that is what we’ve grown up with.  That must be right.  Tradition is always right.  Ok that last bit was sarcastic, but I hope you get what I mean.  The more we talk to one another the more that we can open each other up to those things we may be missing. Don’t ever think you or your beliefs are perfectly in line with God’s views.  That is dangerous.  Just ask those in Jonestown, Waco, the KKK, or Nazi Germany.  All thought or think they knew God’s will.  And yes, the Nazi’s did believe strongly in their idea of Christianity.  They even had a group searching for Christian Relics because it would bring them the power that they wanted.

Yes, they may be extremists, but the more we believe we have the only way the more it leads to hate for those not like you, bigotry, self-importance and explosions at abortion clinics.  If you feel that you know it all then anyone who disagrees with you must be a sinner and therefore bound for some kind of punishment, but not the reward that a person who is right in the eyes of God, whatever that right means.  Often these people come off as very judgmental, because they seem to think that because they are right with God they can tell anyone all their sins and what God will do to them.  This can be people in or out of the church.  It doesn’t seem to matter to them, who they put down.

Jesus prayed for unity in John 17 and Paul likened the believers to one body in 1 Corinthians 12.  It seems that we are having the same problems that Paul addressed.  Our eyes are saying to our feet, “I know the right way to go” Our hands are saying to our mouth, “you don’t speak for me.”  The head says to the ears, “why don’t you listen to God.” And Jesus says to the heart “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”, because we leave him out when we fight amongst ourselves.

Then Jesus turned to us all and said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 12:25 “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” Not in theology, but in love.  Paul follows his thoughts on the part of one body with the love chapter.  And what remains is Faith, Hope and Love,” but the greatest of these is Love.”

Yeah, we have differences and that’s OK.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t get along.  If Jesus wanted us to have unity then we can, but it’s up to each one of us to put down our guard, our predispositions, our traditions, our theologies, and give it a chance.  Are you willing to let go of those things that make you angry at other believers?  Can you let go of those things that you hold as absolutes that may not be and to listen, truly listen, and learn from one another? I think we need to try, it sure can’t hurt.

Fun Predictions for 2014

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Everyone seems to make predictions about the coming year.  Some get real specific about it and some don’t.  We all look forward to a coming year because it is a new start.  We can leave behind the pains of the past year and look forward to a fun and exciting year filled with promise.  I don’t know if it is ever as good as we hoped it would be but that is just life.  We often want more than what we can handle or really need.  So let’s have a little FUN and predict a few things I know will happen this year.

So as I look into my crystal ball, here are my 10 predictions for the coming year.

1)       Someone famous will pass away and we’ll all be sad.  Happens every year.  Nothing we can do about it.  It will remind us of some past good times when we enjoyed their movie, TV show, or music.  Even though it will make us sad, we will be happy in our memories.  It will help us connect with others who also share the same feelings.   We may even get out old videos of them or their music and watch or listen to them over and over just to take us out of our real lives just for a little while.   Hey we might even sell their action figures and make money off it.  That is the American way.

2)      President Obama will not be impeached for a so called impeachable act that some people don’t like.  If you really want some impeachable acts, look at our last president.  And the one before him.  And the one before him, and the one before him, and the one …. Ok, I think you get the picture.  Almost every president we have had has done something that could have gotten him impeached. So if we wanted to drag the country through an impeachment and waste our money on that instead of on things that were important we could. Of course we don’t waste any money now do we?  So, I guess whether you like him or not President Obama Is with us until January of 2017.  Vote Hillary/Jeb 2016 or is it Jeb/Hillary?

3)      Tuna.  Tuna will be the big thing.  McDonalds will offer the Tuna burger by mid August.  Then McDonalds will close and other fast food places will follow.   We will then all be a little thinner and happier for next year.

4)      My team will not win the championship.  Think about it.  No matter what sport it is there are around 30 other teams trying to win.  Odds are that my team isn’t going to win it.  Sure, they will have a good record just to tease me and give me hope that this is going to be the year.  One of them will wait until the last week of the season to fall apart and make me mad.  Another may get into the playoffs only to be beaten by that hated rival of mine.  You know who you are!  But really, I won’t be lucky enough this year to have my team win it all.  I’ll just have to wait until next year.  Oh wait it is next year.  Yeah, Go TEAM!

5)      Another possibility is that a blue and a red state will become a purple state and politics will no longer divide them.  Instead we will look at what America actually needs and work on those issues.

6)      The world will not end.  Yellowstone will not explode, a gigantic meteor will not hit the earth and the sun will not explode.  Yes there will be disasters and people will say we are nearing the end, after all each day we are getting closer.   But, it won’t be this year.  We might have some group buying Nike’s, standing on mountains, or drinking poison.  This might be their last year, but the world will keep spinning.  There is, however, a strong possibility though that Martians may invade.

7)      Some summer night this year, you won’t be able to get a song out of your head.  It will make you want to shout.  When you hear it,  you’ll be like a dancing queen and you’ll put your hands up in the air, they are playing that song once again there you’ll go on your own singing a song about your baby’s back.   Ok, do you really want to hurt me now? I guess I’ll just go get some ice baby and when you start singing it, call me….Maybe?  Hammer time!

8)      The gas problem will continue to plague us.  But maybe we should get rid of Mexicans.  After all if you eat a bean burrito you will truly have a gas problem.  But the Mexicans will keep coming and we will continue to have those problems.  Maybe we should mix the problems and see if Mexico wants to become the 51st state.  Then the beans won’t be from Mexico, but from America.  And we all know that if it is American made it must be good.  Then the gas problem will go away.  Maybe we can solve all the problems of the world like that.  All we have to do is make everyone just like us.

9)      The movie, Noah will have a flood, which ends in a rainbow.  Can a movie about God have a rainbow in it?  Noah will get confused about if he’s supposed to take 7 of the animals or 2.  The unicorn will get left off and evolve into a narwhal.  The sea water will go away and recede like my hair and people will go on with their lives, eating, drinking, and marrying just like they have for between 6,000 and 200,000 years.

Hope you have enjoyed your first day of the New Year and that this year will bring you many blessings and toilet paper.

A Life of Passion

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A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
Albert Camus

My family has passion.  Or maybe it is stubbornness.  I like to call it passion.  When we believe something we put our whole soul into it, sometimes to our detriment.  It is often very hard to change our minds on a subject.   However, it can be used for good when placed right. 

I had two grandparents that were ministers and my great grandfather was a minister.  My mom and dad taught Sunday school from as young as I can remember.  My dad is also one of the few that can beat me in Bible trivia. (My wife might be the only other one.) I also have a brother who is a minister too.  This passion runs deep in our family.  Even some that attend worship services on an irregular basis, passion runs strong. 

My Grandfather passed away when I was 17 years old.  I remember reading his diaries about how a loaf of bread had shot up to 10 cents a loaf, how he went fishing, but most importantly how many times he had read the Bible through.   29 times my Grandfather had started at Genesis and read through the rest of the book.  I decided that day that I would match that in my life.  Now I don’t know if I will, because I always get bogged down in Leviticus.  So instead I just determined to read every book in the entire Bible in a year.  Just not in the order that is in the Bible.  That is something I have done 10 times in almost 20 years. 

My mom would often get up early and read her bible and pray.  I tried this over and over again but often just fell back to sleep.  I am just not an early riser.  Sorry mom.  Still passion was instilled in me to continue to read the Bible. 

My dad would spend hours studying the Bible to find its meaning.  Not only did he read the Bible but he also read opposing views.  He read Jewish newspapers, pamphlets from different denominations, went to seminars not of our denomination, etc…  Sometimes dad would say, “That is an interesting theory.  They may have something there.”  I am so much like my dad in this way.  I read everyone’s beliefs and dive into the Greek and Hebrew scriptures, sometimes just for fun.  (Geek) I listen to everyone’s point of view and discuss it with them.  Why would I want to turn away an opportunity to learn?

I also love to read books, like “the Odes of Solomon”, “Thomas’s Gospel of the infancy of Jesus Christ”, Clement, Barnabas, Adam & Eve and so much more.  Did you know we even have those books?  I was encouraged to read books like these by professors but that is another story.

I am very passionate when it comes to God.  Maybe too passionate at times.  I always here Spock saying “You must learn to govern your passions; they will be your undoing.”  Ahh, the Geek in me comes out again.  Without passion, nothing changes.  We stagnate.  My passion has driven me to read everyone and everything so that I can make a logical conclusion.  This is hard sometimes when I want to hold on to everything I’ve always been taught and I find that there seems to be a better way or understanding of that belief or idea.  I have endured many headaches in the search for God, but in the end it has always brought me peace. 

Do you have passion in your life?  I think you probably do.  You may not have a passion for the Bible or history, but God has given you a passion for something.  Use that passion, but don’t let it rule you.  Make it an everyday part of your life.  Use it to change yourself and those around you.  Passion makes the world go round.