Not the strong man

 

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Those who are indwelled by and dependent upon the Spirit of Jesus are humble and self-effacing. They are deeply touched by the weakness and suffering of others. They are gentle and kind. They long for goodness in themselves and in others. They are merciful to those that struggle and fail. They are single-minded in their love for Jesus. They are peaceful and leave behind a legacy of peace. They are kind to those that ill-use them, returning good for evil.  – David Roper

This description of a Christian based on the teaching of Jesus from the opening Sermon on the Mount starting in Matthew 5, should be a common, well-known description of a Christian by now — a couple of centuries after it was delivered. We should have this down pat. People should see someone like this and immediately recognize a Christian. The fact that this is clearly not true is an indication that other factors contribute to modern Christianity and the attitudes of Christians besides the scriptures, and more importantly, the words of Jesus.

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Posted in kingdom of God | Tagged | 3 Comments

Character, not conduct

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For far too long, Christianity has been defined by behavior. We love keeping spirituality on the basis of what we do and don’t do, because then we are in control of it. We can demand certain codes of conduct for our families and our Christian institutions. It’s plain and simple: a Christian looks like this, and we can hold up a model of behavior as a standard. So students at Christian colleges sign a pledge, as do staff members of churches and Christian businesses, that guarantees a certain code of conduct. That way pastors and administrators can assure a uniformity of Christian behavior, and keep the money flowing in from wealthy constituents who want to make sure everything looks good on the surface.

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Posted in 12 Steps, grace turned outward | Tagged | 8 Comments

Away in a manger — far away

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It’s gone. Christmas is gone. The only signs that indicate Christmas may have stopped by recently are a pretty sad-looking partially-shriveled poinsettia by the fireplace and a dry Christmas wreath on the front door. Marti was playing with the idea of keeping up the whimsical Santa and his reindeer set she likes so much, but in the end it came down too. At some point you have to move on. Our point just came late this year — later than ever. Most of you are thinking, “Christmas? Is he still talking about Christmas?”

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Posted in Christmas | Tagged | 6 Comments

Who owns Christmas?

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I tried to make it — I really did. But Candlemas (February 2) is nine days away and our Christmas tree is beyond dead. (Some of you might remember that Christmas was last month.)

For those of you who are in the dark about this, I was trying to make it to February 2, traditionally the last day to dismantle Christmas decorations that also corresponds with Candlemas, a traditional Blessing of the Candles for the year. I tried to make it, but I caved under the pressure of having a huge unlit torch in our living room, and the need to finally get on with life.

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Posted in Christmas, grace turned outward | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Putting Christ back in Christianity

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Bob, our good friend and frequent commentator from Seattle, raised some very excellent questions about the Jesus Movement, circa 1968-72, after yesterday’s Catch. The following two sentences capture the essence of his speculations. “Did we ever concern ourselves with looking toward the future with God’s endgame in our sights or were we simply content to “live one day at a time,” sing Maranatha songs, and let God handle the details down the road? Do any of us vaguely recall seeing forward 50 years into the possibility that, if the second coming hadn’t already happened by 2019, then our lives and messages (guided by the Holy Spirit) would result in a world where His love, joy, and revelation would prevail because we were His instruments of peace and messengers of His wisdom?”

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Posted in grace turned outward | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Sequel

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People get ready there’s a train a-comin’

Pickin’ up passengers coast to coast

All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’

Don’t need no ticket you just thank the Lord

                –  Curtis Mayfield, 1965

The Jesus Movement, circa 1968-1972, was the last great spiritual/cultural revolution in this country. It completely reshaped the church in America, led primarily by the growing significance of popular music for worship in the church which the Jesus Movement ushered in. As a result, the typical church service in America today is virtually unrecognizable from its counterpart 50 years ago. Not to mention a Christian subculture and a Christian politic.

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Posted in Millennials, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

From fear to eternity

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People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.        – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I sought to prepare a Catch today surrounded by quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was overwhelmed. My first attempt tried to capture too much and as a result didn’t capture much of anything. So I’ve chosen one quote that applies the most to where I think people are at right now. It has to do with fear, and it begins with this: “People fail to get along because they fear each other.”

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Posted in relationships | Tagged | 4 Comments

Christmas lives on

 

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Well I can’t believe we’ve made it this far, but I’m beginning to doubt our Christmas tree’s ability to make it to Candlemas (February 2). That’s two more weeks. It’s getting to be too close to a fire hazard. Where its arms were once out with palms up, they are all now drooping, palms down. It’s like it’s standing with its arms at its sides. It still looks beautiful; it still has its perfect shape, it just looks tired. Even the tippity top lists a little to the side. It’s a Christmas tree with low-grade depression. Maybe I should consider getting some serotonin in the water except our Chihuahuas would end up with it and God knows they don’t need to be any happier; they are the only ones drinking the Christmas tree water now.

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Posted in Christmas | Tagged | 4 Comments