Mark Twain wrote out of experience of the decades just before the twentieth century began. Back then the conquest-lust and money-lust were not fatal, but they were extreme and very damaging. But it was impossible to save the Great Republic. She was rotten to the heart. Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake in their own persons. The government was irrevocably...Read More
I fear the spirit of melancholy and constraint. -unknown Those negative, controlling, crabby, critical, always pessimistic Christians … We needn’t pattern our lives and thoughts after the great sourpusses of history, nor even the experts of fear and manipulation who live in our towns. Jesus claims to bring Hope, Joy, Freedom, Peace, Thankfulness; and there are millions who say it’s true today. And the Apostle Paul lists those as chief blessings. These great blessings are carried to us by the Spirit. Even if it seems we SHOULD feel bad, like maybe we deserve it – it definitely is...Read More
“Over and against these senseless modern myths … there is the “myth” of the God of goodness who has chosen people to prepare a kingdom of justice, truth, and love on earth. This myth dies hard. Why should we refuse to admit that Christ taught it to us?” [from Andre Trocme, Jesus and the Non-Violent Revolution 1973, 2004, p179] This is the basic concern of this blog, the reason it exists – to lift up this ideal, to examine how the Bible presents this ultimate priority (“Seek first”!), and to explore it’s application in practical terms both individually...Read More
Here’s another example of the misunderstanding and misuse of Scripture by the ‘religious right’. This was quoted to me to show that no Christian could ever vote for Democrats. “Don’t you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? Remove this wicked person from among you so that you can stay pure.” (1 Corinthians 5:6,7, NLT) !! Whoa there !! “If even one person is allowed to go on sinning. . .” Do you mean it is the Christian’s job to prevent every last person in society from sinning? It...Read More
I. “It may seem that the world is falling apart.” Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, … Now that we have … rejected a wolf in sheep’s clothing in favor of a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that illusion will be impossible to maintain. Donald Trump … will not provide the usual sugarcoating on the poison pills … likely … he will fill his cabinet with neocon war hawks,...Read More
Short Quotes – Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” Turn the Other Cheek – means Resist Them NonViolently If You Do Not Love Your Neighbor Whom You CAN See – Can You Love God? Jesus and Racism – Samaritan Lives Matter A Few Chips Must Fly / Gaza & Israel Declaration of Independence – Kid’s Version Freedom From Those Who Rule Us – Freedom to Not Always Fear Them No Principle but Commercialism, No Patriotism but of the Pocket – Mark Twain Kingdom Manifesto – Sermon on the Mount Summarized Why Many Christians Do Not Vote Republican John...Read More
Hypocrisy or insincerity is the first thing to guard against in prayer. Beware not to say what you do not mean. … Pour out your heart before Him. – John Wesley It might mean sometimes writing out one’s prayer. That helps us to be aware a) whether we are being honest, and b) whether we are bringing up what we really want and need to. The power of prayer is not in our emotion, nor in our eloquence, nor in traditional churchly language. The power of prayer lies in honest, vulnerable connection between a real human and the...Read More
The author of “1 John” makes a simple, blunt, very logical analysis of our emotional attachments – or professed attachments. (1 John 4:20) If you do not love your brother whom you can see, how can you love God whom you cannot see? Well, John, that’s easy! We do it all the time. God is always here – our neighbors aren’t so near and obvious. Plus – no offense – but God is just generally “nicer,” easier to deal with, than many of our neighbors. But no, this John, who sees much more clearly than most of us, sees...Read More
There is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus’s expense and have nothing more to do with him. – Dallas Willard Why would anyone ever IMAGINE that such an insulting behavior toward Jesus would even be ok – let alone that it would gain one forgiveness and eternal life? Well, sad to say, it seems we’ve actually been TAUGHT to think of Jesus in that cheap, immoral way. False teachers, apparently. But Jesus is clearly worthy of a much more honest, direct, personal,...Read More
One of the great achievements of free society in a stable democracy is that many people, for much of the time, need not think about politics at all. We need some people, of course, to think about politics, and help us keep aware. But the great achievement has been that many Americans have not felt compelled to stay on top of it out of fear that “the authorities” are likely to blow the world up, or attack us directly on any random day. The president of a free country may dominate the news cycle many days – but he...Read More
God is the friend of silence … We need silence to be able to touch souls. – Mother Teresa … because, I suppose, it calms US down. Wow. Even GOD likes it when we seriously calm down. It enables us to be comfortable with ourselves (or FORCES us to be!), so then we can be more calm and comfortable with others. Are you having trouble touching other souls beneficially? “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 It does not require long sessions of silence (like hours, or days) – though that might be helpful sometimes...Read More
He said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do what I say?” Maybe he meant it. This short book (40 pages) is available as a free pdf, or as a paperback at LULU.com (see the links below). It treats the following issues. Here, each chapter title is followed by a representative quote from the chapter. Ch 1. Jesus’ Love for God and Religion “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity” … “You do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with truth.” Ch 2. Jesus Inverted Common Moral Ideas...Read More
“Let your gentleness be apparent to all; the Lord is near.” – Paul, Philippians 4. “Gentleness,” OR patience, or kindness, or forbearance, or – we get the point 🙂 So is this cause and effect? BECAUSE God is near, we are gentle, kind, patient, etc? The cause, or reason, is mentioned after the effect. Near. Very very near. Jesus clearly believes that God, the Kingdom of God, is very very near. So does the apostle Paul. Like, maybe, looking over our shoulders to observe how we are behaving toward other people? Like, maybe, working all around us, all...Read More
These sayings may have a Biblical sound to them. But they are not Biblical. They set aside the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the Hebrew prophets, but unfortunately fit well with current neo-con (new Republicans’) or neo-lib (new Democrats’) American values. They were written by Eric Mader in the early 2000’s during the Bush years. This is list 2; you may also want to see list 1. The column on the right shows how some of the original sayings actually appear in the Bible. Please compare! “The New American Bad Bible” Spirituality, God When you pray,...Read More
“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” – Jerry Rice If you want personal change to appear in your future, work on it in your personal present. Or, as has been often said, if you aim at nothing you are likely to hit it. This is one good reason to make a New Year’s Resolution or two – if you work on it, you change. That’s actually very good news! It’s a good reason to at least seriously consider one’s own life as it is now. “Today...Read More
A new era begins in America. We have reason to mourn, and reason to hope. Let’s do both. We’ll likely get the same old stuff, but much more blatant; and that’s not good. And there may well be some good things happening. That IS good. It’s already “more blatant,” making us all more realistic, and that’s good. But that’s not the hope I mean. Old St. Peter offers some good clear guidance – whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about Trump. “First Peter” was written to people under stress, under threat, or experiencing mistreatment by their governments and their...Read More
“The first act of love is always the giving of attention.” – Dallas Willard He was writing about our love for the Lord, in his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines. But it is a broadly applicable truth. Have trouble with love-relationships in life? This may be part of the problem. Your spiritual life is bumpy and weak? This may be part of the problem. No time to attend to God? That leads to spiritual emptiness – at best. School – or work – not going well? Is attentiveness an issue? St Paul wrote, “Love...Read More
These sayings may have a Biblical sound to them. But they are not Biblical. Setting aside the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the Hebrew prophets, these revisions unfortunately fit well with current neo-con (new Republicans) or neo-lib (new Democrats) American values. They were written by Eric Mader in the early 2000’s during the Bush years. This is list 1; you may also want to see list 2.. The column on the right shows how some of the original sayings actually appear in the Bible. Please compare! “The New American Bad Bible” Society; Relationships Why take...Read More
The Work of Christmas Begins When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart. – by Howard Thurman (Thurman, a mentor of Martin Luther King Jr, was Chaplain at Boston University when the young King was doing his Ph.D. work...Read More
This prayer is online in a number of places. It was read in our church a while back by a professor of livestock management. (Yes, there really is such a discipline, and it takes some brains to master it.) Cowboy poetry does give you a different perspective if you can just get into it for a minute or two – and some of that perspective is true and valuable. When this was read in church, in a very unromantic and unpretentious way as part of the advent candle-lighting, it was really quite a moving event. There are some quotes...Read More
It might be a good project for each of us – to try to summarize the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) in 209 words. Brian McLaren has done so in his The Secret Message of Jesus (chapter 15, “Kingdom Ethics”, p 136). Each of us would no doubt change the wording in some places, or the overall emphasis. For example “The Golden Rule” is quoted in full but “The Lord’s Prayer” isn’t even summarized. McLaren undertook a difficult project, and this is worth reading and thinking about a bit. Here it is: Be poor in...Read More
It’s about Christ – so it’s really a holiday (holy day) for any who love Christ. How could we expect those who do not love and follow Christ to be super sensitive to the religious, or spiritual meaning of the season? Why should we harass them about it? We should not! That’s not very welcoming, and the Gospel is about welcome. What really matters is how WE, ourselves, respond to these holidays. Or more to the point – what really matters is how WE are responding to Christ week in and week out throughout the year. What if someone...Read More
There was some excitement among certain Republican Christians when Dobson said Trump had become a “baby” Christian and should be cut some slack on that basis. Two problems with that: A novice at practicing the Christian faith is not someone we should automatically admire, and trust, and therefore surrender top leadership posts to. Paul says to beware of promoting novices. Well, of course. Democrats can win elections and do evil without pretending to be “born again” Christians – but Republicans pretty much have to profess Christian faith and in some way or other make good with the evangelical vote....Read More
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” – Short Quotes from Martin Luther King’s 2nd Most Famous Literary Production. Samaritan Lives Matter – Jesus and Racism Kid’s Version of the Declaration of Independence “Turn the Other Cheek” Means “Resist Them Non-Violently” I’m Relieved Clinton Lost – But Trump is Still Dangerous Why Many Christians Do Not Vote Republican Veterans Day – Those Who Serve Democracy are Mostly Non-Military Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer – and some Good New Year’s Values I’m Ticked at Bernie but WOW – Good Response to the Election Hitler Defended Christian Morality and Family Values Was Jesus Violent? The Temple...Read More
It’s (almost) THANKSGIVING We appreciate food, and housing, clothes, and transportation. We prize friends. We are very grateful for family. We live by faith and fellowship. We feel – and express – thankfulness for many wonderful blessings. But there are some things we should not be thankful for! I expect we can each make a pretty impressive list. The confusing thing is that some believers think they will offend God if they are not thankful for EVERYthing. I believe that is wrong. Should we really thank God for abuse and murder of women and children, and men? For cops...Read More
Samaritans in Jesus’ day were both religiously and racially despised. The phrase “Samaritan lives matter” would have been very offensive to the Jewish culture in which Jesus was raised and in which he was a teacher and doer of good. But to Jesus, clearly Samaritan lives did matter. Today, to Jesus, clearly “Black lives matter,” and Hispanic, and immigrant, Muslim, refugee, atheist, imprisoned, gay, African-American, Native American, etc. It is true and appropriate to say so. We must emphasize the value in God’s eyes of excluded groups.Jesus is just willy nilly stepping on all the racist, discriminatory toes around....Read More
I am no fan of Donald Trump. But I felt a strong sense of relief as more states turned red last Tuesday and it became obvious Hillary was going to lose. It surprised me – but not greatly. But Trump is dangerous in several ways, to all of us. Hillary – the Clinton Cartel – is Dangerous So I’m glad they got pushed back hard. Hillary was Deliberately stirring up tension with Russia It was unnecessary, based on fabricated concerns, and could easily and quickly have led to a major world-wide disaster. On board with the TPP If you...Read More
This blog was an active Christian Democrat site for a few years in the mid-oughts (around 2005). It seems to be coming back to life in late 2016. I am still a Christian, but not a registered Democrat. The “Christian” part means I take the Bible seriously as a profound guide in matters spiritual and moral, with special concern for the teachings by and about Jesus of Nazareth. That implies reading it carefully and honestly, and responding to it honestly. And that includes self-criticism before, and often in place of, that which is much easier – the criticism of everyone else. So I try not to write what I am not personally, spiritually engaged with to some real extent. I was a registered Democrat from 1968 into Obama’s time. And still, much of the perspective here might be described as Christian Democrat, as long as we take “Democrat” to mean something more like FDR than like what we’ve been seeing lately. I am an old preacher’s kid from Nebraska, currently pastor of an American Baptist church. I have also been a high school and college teacher (history, philosophy, etc.), a dairyman, and a rural mail carrier, among other things. My cute smart wife and I have 6 kids, plus kids-in-law, in their 30’s and 40’s, including a severely handicapped daughter. We have a nice bouquet of grandkids scattered across...Read More
“Thank you for your service” – I have heard that often, and I appreciate it. I thank those who say nice things to me, a US Army veteran – or to, or about, so many, many other veterans. It is valuable to be thankful, and to be explicit. And the free meals, and reserved parking spaces are nice! Still, I always want to say:God and a soldier all people adore In time of war, but not before; And when war is over and all things are righted, God is neglected and an old soldier slighted. Please give AT LEAST...Read More
Bernie made a very brief, very wise statement about the election of Donald Trump. He has a way with words, and with clarity of thinking. Bernie, who ran so competitively against Hillary for the Democratic nomination, and who – we now have abundant evidence – was cheated out of the nomination, and who many have for months believed would have pretty easily beat Donald Trump in Tuesday’s election, The church in this country, those who claim to be believers in – that is, followers of – Jesus of Nazareth, had better make clear – to ourselves, and to everyone...Read More
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- Connie said These poems are inspiring and beautiful because th...
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