Tag Archives: Freedom House

God’s Kiss

god's kiss

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. J.R.R. Tolkien

How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are. 1 John 3:1

*I’m over sixty now, and I’ve always had plenty of hair—a good foot and a half of it in the 1970s. Barbers often commented, “Wow, what a bush!” I think one actually charged me extra because of it. Well, that’s not really the case these days. The bush has fallen over dead! Chemo killed it. They say it grows back and that sometimes it reappears different than it was before. When I was being marinated with cancer-killing chemicals I said that if it comes back blond I’m gonna start surfing. It didn’t and I didn’t.

Instead of a gradual receding of my hairline over decades of aging, I lost all my hair—right down to my eyebrows and eyelashes—overnight. You just don’t look right without eyebrows––sort of extraterrestrial. The top of my head looked like a clear-cut forest. Though disconcerting, my new look wasn’t a complete shock to me. Among all the other unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy—chemo-brain, nausea, debilitating fatigue—the premature loss of my hair seemed trifling. Some people look better bald—but I wasn’t one of them. Continue reading

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He is not here; he has risen! (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 1)

deeper

“If you were to fall into the sea, and were that sea infinite, you would fall from one depth to another for all eternity. This is how it is with the Christian who is continuously abiding in him. He is sinking with inconceivable swiftness to the most inward depths of God.” Jeanne Guyon

“Put out into deep water…” Luke 5:4

No one plans to be a shallow Christian. But it does take some forethought and action to be a deeper one. Deep spirituality doesn’t happen by default.

Some people are shallow in their walk with God simply because they didn’t realize that the form of faith that was modeled to them and into which they were invited was shallow from the start. Superficiality is all they know, all they’ve been exposed to.

Others were blessed with a better beginning and were on a trajectory to dive progressively deeper into the mystery of who God is, but somewhere along the line they got waylaid and took a detour into a decidedly thin version of Christianity. Their faith became increasingly trivial. They read the Bible, pray, go to church most Sundays, give offerings, and even help other people when they get a chance; but their spirituality is more superficial than not. Continue reading

How Wide Is Your Welcome? (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome mat

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village. Luke 9

All disciples of Jesus are a work in progress. One way to know how far we have to go is the width of our welcome mat. Jesus’ first disciples had at the beginning a mat that wasn’t even wide enough to wipe one foot on! And it didn’t have the words “Everyone Welcome” woven into it. That sort of wide welcome developed over time. Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 2:8-26

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We’re doing a commentary through the book of James with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that treats people equally––a “Classless Christianity.” I put some of the highlights here in the blog to pique your interest enough to check out my brief audio teaching on these key verses.

Classism is when those WITH LESS are seen and treated AS LESS!

The first part of this chapter could be entitled: “Bigots Go To Church!” That is to say that a bigot is a bigot is a bigot and some of them serve as deacons, Sunday School teachers, and ushers at the door…

Jesus taught that hated Samaritans often make better neighbors than beloved Saints…

Our neighbor may well come from a different neighborhood, but they’re still neighbors and require the same respect that we give someone next door to us…

True Christianity is Classless… There’s no room in the church for law-breaking socioeconomic bigots… Continue reading

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 1:12-2:7

classism image 8

Here are some sound-bytes from my audio podcast on these verses quoted here to entice you to listen the brief teaching in the series I’m doing on Classless Christianity.

The “classless” kind of Christianity is the kind where rich and poor can look each other in the eye as brothers. It’s the kind where the haves and have nots coexist in mutuality, where each has something to share with the other…

Classless Christianity is not a one way street where the wealthy paternalistically give to the poor and the poor have nothing to offer the rich.

We’re told that “as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another”…  it’s not like one “class” of people do all the sharpening of all the other classes, who exist just to be sharpened… 

The pollutants that we inhale everyday from the world’s atmosphere include the toxins of pride, power, greed, graft, and self-indulgence…

A lot of Christians are pretty much only about sin-management. They work hard at not being worldly. They might not “smoke or chew or kiss girls who do” but make very little difference in the world and have very little chance of leaving it a better place than the way they found it…

“Real religion” is not only watching your mouth but also watching out for people who need special help, i.e. the least, the last, and the lost… Continue reading

TO DANCE OR TO DIRGE? (Wisdom’s Many Children) Part 2

wisdom1In Part 1 we talked about how it takes more than one person, one church, one political party, or one culture to represent true wisdom, and how an over-identification with one over another is not only unwise but immature. Jesus said it reminded him of spoiled children whining about not getting their way.

“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance, we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” Luke 7:31-34

John and Jesus weren’t opposites. The way they conducted themselves was not contradictory but complementary. They both represented wisdom, while, from the outside looking in neither displayed to the naked eye all that wisdom entails. [Note: Of course Jesus was and is all that wisdom is, but to the ascetics of the day, he wasn’t ascetic enough. Although we might point out that he was born in a cave, fasted for forty days, and had no house to live in. Fairly ascetic from my point of view.] Continue reading

Widows? Which Widows?

 

Afghan War WidowsWe Christians are people-helpers. It’s in the Spirit-loaded software at new birth. Problem is, we often insist on preserving the right to be selective about the recipients of our aid, as though there’s some substantive difference between one kind of human and another. The earliest Christians discovered this tendency in themselves and made the necessary adjustments. Seems like we could benefit from a reminder to do the same.

During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

The congregation thought this was a great idea. They went ahead and chose—

Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas, a convert from Antioch.

Then they presented them to the apostles. Praying, the apostles laid on hands and commissioned them for their task.

The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith. Acts 6:1-7 (The Message)

There’s wasn’t simply an administrative problem that was fixed with a more efficient distribution of food for widows. There was a cultural prejudice at play. The first Christians, most of whom were Jews, wrestled with whether or not to accept the non-Jews into the Church as equals. Though outnumbered by their Roman oppressors, in the Church, Jews held the status of the majority culture. Continue reading