What would Grace do?

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Remember the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) movement? It was certainly full of good intentions. It was a way of remembering that we do not live for ourselves; we live for the one we serve, Jesus Christ. And since we are following Him and He is our example of following the Father, we could figure out what to do in most situations by imagining what Jesus would do in a similar predicament.

It sounds good, and in some instances it might work, but it’s also fraught with interpretation problems. Does the average believer really know enough about Jesus to know what He would do in most situations, or are we just assuming what Jesus might do based on the fact that He was perfect and holy and always did the right thing? Is the Jesus in our mind really the Jesus of the scripture, or just our idea of the perfect Christian? The religious leaders of His day didn’t think much of the real Jesus. They found fault with a lot of what He did. In other words, what Jesus did was open to interpretation. It wasn’t a given — an obvious consistent thing. Jesus was not “nice.”

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What America needs now

  It’s the hammer of justice                                                                                                                                         It’s the bell of freedom                                                                                                                                             It’s the song about love between                                                                                                                           My brothers and my sisters                                                                                                                                     All over this land                                                                                                                                                                              – from the song “If I Had A Hammer” by Peter, Paul and Mary

th-1Last Saturday night I had the privilege of attending a concert featuring the Peter and Paul version of Peter, Paul and Mary — Mary having passed away seven years ago last September. She was sorely missed — their signature sound being such a tight blend of three voices that together made one indivisible tonal experience. So as much as you tried to hear the old Peter, Paul and Mary sounds in your ear again, it was impossible, because there was a huge hole in the middle — the one that pulled it all together.

I can remember in high school forming a Peter, Paul and Mary group, only ours was Jim, John and Gail, and how hard it was to pick out the parts because their voices were so tightly woven and so complimentary to each other. 

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The real Charlie Brown

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Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.) But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”  Mark 2:15-17

It’s so easy to think that once you are a Christian, you are better, or at least you’re supposed to be. After all, isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why we go to church and why we get busy doing “Christian” things and hanging out with “Christian” people, so we’ll be better? We’ll be in a better environment? Isn’t that why we send our kids to “Christian” schools, so they will have better friends and not those scumbags that populate the public schools? Isn’t that the way we think? What’s wrong with thinking that way?

Everything.

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Jesus: Heaven’s Refugee

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“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

We are stardust; we are golden                                                                                                                             And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden – Joni Mitchell

After the news about Pam Mark Hall being temporarily displaced from her home in Oroville (she’s home now, thank God, but not totally out of danger, so keep praying for that damn dam to hold), it got me thinking about refugees in the Bible; and when you start thinking about it, it’s hard to find anyone who was not, at least at one time, a refugee.

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What disasters sometimes force us to see

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I just found out that one of our MemberPartners and good friend, singer/songwriter Pam Mark Hall, is one of the evacuees of the town of Oroville where she grew up, and has, of late, relocated and is housing and caring for her mother who has dementia. She and her mother are in Chico right now, readying to return home today. She says they have changed the mandatory evacuation to a warning, which means they can return home as long as they are ready to pick up and leave again at a moment’s notice should the situation worsen.

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How 100,000 people suddenly became homeless

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Pray for the people of Oroville, California, 100,000 of whom are temporarily homeless today, and for how long, they don’t know. Imagine if you were uprooted from your home with no guarantee that there will be anything left by the time you returned there.

In case this story is new to you, there is a dam north of the town of Oroville in northern California that is currently having difficulty holding back all the water that is overflowing the lake it guards. There are two spillways that can be opened to let out water when the level in the lake gets too high, but in the flooded conditions lately both those spillways have sustained some damage. The concern is that if one of those spillways gives way, it will release a 30-foot wall of water on the town of Oroville down river. That’s a tsunami hitting a central California town. You just don’t expect things like this to happen.

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Truth in an age of propaganda, spin and lies

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Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  John 8:32

It’s a difficult time for truth.

At the end of 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary declared “post-truth” as the word of the year. The adjective is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” We also have “alternative facts” to deal with when the reported facts are deemed to be incorrect. And when the sources of our information are deeply ensconced in their own opinions, it’s almost impossible to sort out the objective truth. We have numerous versions of the truth but most of it appears to be opinion, and no one trusts sources that tell them something other than what they want to hear.

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Getting out of the blame game

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There is no place in the believer’s life for blame. Blame is never justified and it never serves a positive function. It is as old as Adam and as prevalent as sin. It’s the way we divert anything incoming that might humble us or help us face the truth about ourselves and what we are doing wrong. It’s a diversion. If we are charged with something, right or not, blame throws back something on the other person, and since we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God, you can always find something to blame someone else for.

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