Friday, December 22, 2017

What Offends You?

What offends you?

This is a question that I have been asking myself alot lately,
As every day it seems that Mr. T. has a new beef about something or other,
As if we care what he thinks, given his propensity to not like anything that is contrary to his self-aggrandizement.

He is offended that whole nations, and most people in our nation, think he is playing fast and loose with policy towards Israel, because people like Mike Pence have a strange non-Christian theology about the Modern state of Israel somehow being the Israel talked about in biblical prophecy.

He is offended that football players have the nerve to exercise their first amendment right to protest, so offended that he is meddling in the affairs of teams and the league.  

He is offended by so many things I could waste the rest of this post on an ad nauseum list of his daily tweets that are redefined offensive.

For the sake of brevity, let me just end with one of his most offensive offences.  

He is “offended” by the fact that people are not saying “Merry Christmas.” Yes, the president of the United States used the fact that many people have been using “happy holidays” as campaign wedge.  He employed, and continues to employ such tropes to whip his acolytes of aggrievement into a frenzy.  And why is he offended?   Who knows?

One of the least “merry” people to ever occupy the oval office wants to bludgeon people to say something just because he has a vague notion that it is anti-Christian to not say Christmas? I am only guessing of course because he would have to string more than one sentence together to be able to explain why he is offended by retailers wanting to appeal to all of their customers.  

What is doubly vexing is that he doesn't seem to understand the connection between merry and Christmas.  Christmas for many people is anything but merry, no matter whether they believe in the Birth of the Christ Child.   For many people apparently, the only thing merry is the opportunity to spend money at stores and to get presents.  And for retailers, merriment entails making enough in a few short weeks to tide them over for the year.

I of course am offended that we have a man who gained his office through treasonous means, who duped so many to gain his office, and who sees the presidency as a way to promote his brand and fill his coffers.  

And I am of course offended that he is so easily offended that he doesn't have time to fact check one word that comes out of his mouth.  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

how do we 'honor the king" when he is acting foolishly?

On Sunday a dear brother in the Lord reacted angrily when I called our current president an “idiot”.

 “You can disagree with his policies and his actions, but that kind of attack on his person is what is wrong with politics today.”  

His rebuke was warranted.

In my post election trauma I have resorted to ad hominem attacks on our president, and for this, I am worthy of rebuke.

The scriptures tell us to:
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.        1 Peter 2:17 (ESV)

in the Book of Romans, Chapters 13:1-3,  the bible also tells us to submit to the Governing Authorities:

 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
This passage even says that those who resist the authorities resists what God has appointed.  That is humbling, as one who is actively resisting President Trump.  
Thankfully, there is nuance in the way God tells us to interact with the rulers of the world.  We are told for instance in Matthew 14, that John the Baptist was imprisoned for calling out the king's adultery. Of course what this also tells us, that resistance may come with a price.  Civil Disobedience can result in arrest, prison, or other ramifications.

  Likewise, the central theme of the new testament history found in the book of acts, is the expression of Peter and the Apostles, "we will obey God, rather than men." (Acts 5:29)  
For me the challenge is finding how God intends to use the current president for our good and for the good of the country and the church.  Many good Christians voted for a man who doesn't seem to hold fundamental Christian values because they apparently believe that our faith is under attack by "liberal" forces in our nation. While I fundamentally disagree, God somehow allowed this man to be elected. (yes, we can disagree about the fact that God is sovereign in allowing even the election of such a man, since  after all, Christ himself walked the earth during the reign of a dictator.)   
The prophetic call of our faith, that we are to seek justice and love mercy is balanced by the Prophet Micah with the call to walk humbly with God.  (6:8) 
 How is it that we are to walk humbly in the face of a new administration that has the character of a 3rd world autocracy and threatens minorities, women, the integrity of Creation and world conflagration?  
My brothers reminder that we need to separate the personal from the political is a lesson I needed to hear.  We are all in this together and we will not make our world any better by attacking people instead of showing them the error of their ways.

Putting humility into practice is against my strong willed nature, but it is something that I need to do.  Indeed, perhaps all of us need to do.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Meek and the Extinction of the World.

Jesus is begotten of the Father, the world is begotten of Jesus.
Jesus is the ruler of a great kingdom, an eternal kingdom that will last long after this world will cease to exist.

As believers, we are confronted by eternity every time we open up the scriptures.  Likewise, we are shown the intimate connection between Christ and his creation, and our relationship to it.

The scientific evidence points to disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.  A giant meteorite, crashed into the planet near the Yucatan peninsula, triggering volcanoes around the world which created a massive alteration of the earth's climate.  This was the 5th time this kind of catastrophic event had happened in the past 400 million years.  The mass extinction that followed is only now being understood in relation to the current level of species elimination being caused by human activity and climate change. In a very real way, the children of Adam and Eve are actively despoiling the creation of our Lord Jesus.

This is a theological challenge of utmost importance in our lives.  How do we square the biblical narrative that speaks of Christ the Creator’s kingdom persisting long after the earth's destruction, with the scriptural call to take care of the creation?  (Genesis 1 and 2)  Based on the current destruction of habitat and the impact of climate change, up to 1/4 of the earth's plants and animals may be extinct by mid century.  We must ask, how does this square with the biblical ethic of Noah, who rescued the creatures from the wickedness of humanity?

In a parallel manner, the gospel teaching that the “meek shall inherit the earth,” is in juxtaposition with the destruction caused by the consumptive, industry driven lifestyle of the wealthy West, including each of us.  

The writer of Hebrews, Chapter 1:10-12 describes the power of Christ the creator and the ultimate fate of the earth.  

10 And,  “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
   and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
   they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
   like a garment they will be changed.[a]
But you are the same,
   and your years will have no end.”
For us mere mortals, this concept of eternity is difficult to fathom.  The fact that one day the creation will cease to exist, even as we can see the light emitted by distant stars billions of years in the past, can boggle the mind.  Likewise it can be difficult to see what difference it makes whether or not we as individuals, communities or nations work to protect and preserve the planet and its creatures.  

For me, this conundrum is resolved in the person of Christ Jesus, the creator that so loved the cosmos that he became flesh, and laid down his life.  We too have an eternal obligation to live our lives for Him and for our neighbors, indeed, for the whole world.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pride of People from our Place

Why do we take such pride when people from our place make a name for themselves in athletics, the arts, business or politics?  I have experienced the feeling and have even bragged about someone from time to time.  Our emotional heart strings resonate when a native daughter is successful in the “outside” world.  

I think that part of this phenomenon has to do with our connections to community.  We see how so many work so hard to make our place special and invest in the lives of the people around us.  And so when the “larger” world recognizes a special talent or a contribution to the nation or world, we think, they are a part of us, we are a part of that.  And so we are.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn this love of place, our home, our land, literally, our patriotism,(from the Greek Patris, native land)  and turn it towards the protection of our place and people and in turn the preservation of the world and its peoples  The good news, is that we can, if we can learn to see the world ecologically.

We live on a planet that it intricately designed, and while it is large in scale compared to us as individuals, it is threatened by human consumption.   Our interconnection, by transportation and communication is made possible by our consumption and can be used to help us understand our place and conserve it, or to expand our consumption at the expense of the future of people and planet.

Our pride of people from our place can result in a kind of self-satisfaction that borders on idolatry, of thinking that prominent people deserve our attention while the weakest of people really need to be in the forefront of our thinking, planning, working and politics.   Pride in place needs to be complimented by a wholehearted life long preoccupation with the protection of the ecosystem that sustains our civilization.  If the words of the prophet are true, “the meek shall inherit the earth”, only if we are willing to perfect our meekness

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ecocide versus "Economic Development"


We must question the sanity of anyone who would be enthusiastic about the creation of "jobs" in an industry explicitly designed to decimate all life on earth.  Of course I am referring to the proposal for a missile site at the Ravenna Arsenal.


Yes, I understand the thinking," any job is a good job if you don't have one", but if the "work" that the job requires that we set aside our moral obligation to "love our enemy", as the gospel requires, and instead "defend" ourselves against the unthinkable, then we have not only lost sight of our work, but our humanity.


Don't get me wrong, those who work in the field of "economic development" are making their best effort, from the context which our society has framed our changing economic predicament, to find a way to generate tax revenue, which mostly comes through income tax.  The problem however, is that we have lost sight of the fundamental problem of the continuous innovation of the industrial economy to always leave some people behind.  Unfortunately, we cannot fix this so long as our faith in progress goes unabated, and our willingness to degrade our values increases day by day.


Dare I suggest that the 1000 acres of the old arsenal proposed to be used for such a base could easily support many more than 100 jobs, considering that 18,000 people worked there at one time.  These jobs could be created by protecting the land and earning a living from it instead of filling wetlands and moving streams to make way for a killing field.


Of course I understand that some see this is a strategically vital and necessary development, given the "reality" of nuclear weapons in the world.  The tragedy of course is that we are too preoccupied with a handful of "jobs" to ask the simple question.  Don't we want the blessing of our Lord, who calls us to be Peacemakers?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


According to AARP, I am officially a “Grumpy Old Man.”   (and yes, I know that many of you already know this)

Every month, like clockwork, I receive an official “membership” card in the mail, and I have been for what seems like a decade.  I mean, come on, I am only 59 years old!

I know, there are many among us that retire at 50 or 55, but most of us won’t be retiring any time soon, if ever.  

I am not sure if AARP is desperate for members or just desperate.  I mean, they are really just a front for businesses seeking our new customers aren’t they?  I guess if you are retired, you have nothing better to do than hassle people that are younger than you.

Not that I have any issues with getting older, especially considering the alternative!

In recent years I have lost many friends and relatives that have not made it to the big 6-0.  Believe me I am grateful to be old enough to be hassled by junk mail from a bunch of crotchety people with time on their hands.  

I for one, am certainly glad to be participating in this thing called TIME. Yes, I know, when I leave this earthly realm I won’t need time any more.  But I thank Jesus for every day that he has given me a little bit more of it.
Now if I can only work on being a little less grumpy.

christian law courts

All the panic about Sharia Law would go away if Christians would follow the biblical admonition to not take each other to court.  The bible is very clear that disputes among Christian are to be settled among believers.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers![a]         1 Cornthians 6:5-8, ESV   BIBLE GATEWAY

There is a clear process for doing this outlined in the 18th Chapter of Matthew.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[f]in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

While many churches follow this admonition about disagreements among their members in terms of doctrine and behavior, we aren't hearing about those that do so in civil matters.  Does anyone know of those that do?   Why aren't the churches setting up courts of arbitration to hear such cases?

Since scripture admonishes believers to set up our own justice system for matters between us, why are we surprised when our Muslim neighbors to do the same?  Just asking?