Sunday, April 23, 2017

God and Caesar

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
  
 "And Jesus said to them, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.' And they were amazed at Him."     (Mark 12:17)

Jesus' whole purpse and teaching is the Kingdom of God.

If we believe, as Jesus does, that God created the heavens and earth, and all that is in them, His teaching here raises a core question:

what really does belong to Caesar ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Which Way ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Jesus says "I AM . . . the Way, and the Truth, and the Life . . ."  (John 14:6)

Jesus is present and active in the world today.

Jesus says satan is a murderer, and the father of lies.  (John 8:44)

The murderer and father of lies is also present and active in the world today.

How do those who follow the world's way claim they believe Jesus' words ?  How do those who love lies and liars, and give their approval to war and "legal" murder, follow Jesus ?

How are those who disbelieve Jesus' words, and don't follow His Spirit active in this world, really Christians ?

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"Christian Conservative" Tells Us What God Wants

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Michelle Bachmann, 2012 Republican presidential wannabe who became a Swiss citizen when she lost out, said this week she knows why Trump won the presidency.

It was God's doing.  He wants America to be a Christian nation again, with secular laws that mirror all of Jesus' tough teachings against homosexuals.

God gave us a lying violent egotist president, to lead America in His righteous ways.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Friday, April 14, 2017

Seeing God's Glory

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

I've been reading Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's "Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals."  Their observation about God's Glory, as the great object of our prayers, particularly struck me.

Our God is all-consuming Fire (Deuteronomy 4:25), and He is jealous of His Glory.  It is His alone, and He will not give it to another (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11).

So great is His Glory that even the sight of it will destroy men.  When Moses begs to see Him, God tells him "...no man can see Me and live !"  (Exodus 33:20And when God is gracious to allow Moses to see His "back" in passing, even that glimpse infuses Moses' face with radiance that no one can bear to look upon.)

But John begins his gospel of Jesus saying that God "...became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14, my emphasis).

God is even more gracious to us than He was to Moses.  He enables us to see His Glory, and live.  He lets even the unrighteous (us) see His Glory: and when we do, it makes us live, not die.

He does not give His Glory to another.  But we can only see His Glory the way He is pleased to show Himself: in a dusty Jewish carpenter executed as a criminal.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

White Horse

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Yesterday N.P.R. was profiling the new Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, who took office after the elected governor was forced to resign for sexual involvement with a staffer.  (Three of Alabama's last six governors have been forced from office by scandal, the other two for
financial shenanigans.)

They interviewed a long-time Alabama legislator, who had high praise for Mrs. Ivey.  Then talk turned to the departing governor, who'd won office as a "Christian conservative" with strong "family values."

Paraphrased, the experienced legislator observed that in politics, "when you ride a white horse, you have to stay out of the mud."

Well-put advice.  I hope self-professed "Christian" politicians, and their followers, will take heed of the difference between political pose and real-life Christianity.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Holy Spirit and Hermeneutics

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Researching what scripture says about the Holy Spirit as Interpreter of scripture, I was also glancing at some of the online commentary on the subject.  I was particularly impressed with the lucid comments of Dr. Daniel Wallace:

The Holy Spirit and Hermeneutics

At one point, Dr. Wallace makes a striking distinction: that the "inner witness" of the Spirit's interpretive function is primarily toward scripture's essential truths-of-the-faith (Christ's divinity, His full human-ness, His resurrection, our sonship toward God through Him, etc.): but found it "...doubtful that the Spirit bears witness to the time it took for God to create the universe, or whether dispensationalism or covenant theology is the better system...what form of church government is to be preferred, the role of women in leadership...", etc.

Dr. Wallace' distinction is that the Spirit's interpretations in this regard are those essential to the life of the Church, and not necessarily those necessary to the "health" of the Church.

It's easy to see possible mis-applications of that distinction (indeed, being the contrary creatures we are, mis-applications are virtually certain).  But it seems a fruitful one, in the most-basic consideration: that God sovereignly creates and guarantees the life of the Church...but that we, the living stones of which the Church is built up, are responsible to act in obedience with God's thoughts and ways, to keep the Church healthy.



                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Observation

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Two months into this evil time for America, some thoughts on the practice of politics.

You can campaign by stupidity and lies.

And in any democratic system, you can win by stupidity and lies.  Stupid, gullible people usually comprise a majority of any electorate.

But no one can govern by stupidity and lies.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Reaganism's the Problem

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Ronald Reagan, as he became head of government for the mightiest nation on earth, famously proclaimed that "...government is the problem !"

(Yes, it hits me the same way...feel free to take a minute to switch off your logic-faculty...)

Reagan effected two evils simultaneously.

The first was to reverse the traditional American idea of “government:” that government is NOT “of the people, by the people, and for the people”...but rather an autonomous entity entirely separate from its citizens.

The second was to characterize “government” as ill-intentioned.

Reagan's followers consequently view government as inherently illegitimate (since it's not an expression of the will of “the people"); and all of government’s actions toward “the people” as evil.
 
That mindset puts Reaganites in oppostion to everything government does to “promote the general Welfare”...which the preamble to the constitution cites as one of government’s purposes.

In the traditional American view, our government's actions were “the people” acting collectively for their own wellbeing, and that of their fellow-citizens. Healthcare, protection from economic predators, meals-on-wheels, environmental regulation, minimum-wage laws, educational opportunity, public broadcasting, sane gun-laws, etc., etc., are GOOD for us all.  The Reagan doctrine is instead that such actions are “government over-reach,” attacks on individual "rights," and (horror-of-horrors !!) socialism.
 
What Reaganites miss, despite their pretenses to “Christian values,” is that their operative principle fundamentally contradicts God’s mandate to human rulers.  Reaganism rejects God’s command that government be “a minister of God for GOOD” (Romans 13).  (And doing so, Reaganism very much embodies the anti-government spirit that scripture calls "rebelliousness," or "lawlessness:" the innermost character of satan, and the essence of sin: I John 3:4).

Reaganites, only able to conceive of government as evil, are only able to practice governance of the kind they believe in.

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Got A Revolution, Got to Revolution

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                               

My church, in the lead-up to Easter, has cancelled our Sunday School class studying Mark, so we can all watch a Max Lucado film-series about Easter.

My personal preference is to study scripture, rather than someone's pious interpretations of Easter.  But Donna and I went to the film, and the after-discussion of it, last Sunday.

We won't go again.

Donna charitably described Lucado's remarks as "poetic."  And I'm sure God can speak to us through any of our human perceptions or emotions, even (what I perceive as) sentimental piety.  But the thought He most spoke to me during the film and our discussion of it, was how little the gospel is about piety.

The gospel is revolution.  Our thoughts and our ways are completely at variance with God's thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8,9).  We've re-fashioned the life and the world God created, according to our own thoughts and ways: "the kingdoms of men," as selfish, violent, cruel, futile and false as we are.  The good news is that God radically changes our hearts, to radically remake this world His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:7).

He transfers us from the realm of darkness into the sovereign Presence of His Son, the Light (Colossians 1:13, John 8:12), even while we remain on earth.  He turns upside-down everything about how "the world" works.  In His Kingdom, the last are first, servants rule, captives are freed, the poor are the richest, the humble the most exalted.

Most revolutionary of all: He institutes a new heaven and a new earth without the aid of man's self-indulgent religious piety, or political violence.

Praise Him !!

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

Friday, March 31, 2017

Jesus is Lord

                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                              

The insight of my beloved brother Tim in Australia continues in mind: rather, it's a touchstone of all my thinking about the evils of this time.

"Politics is not really about politics."

Lately God's been guiding my thoughts towards economic, as well as political, issues.  And it seems Tim's insight also applies there; that "economics is not really about economics."  

I've been pondering that.

I certainly can't claim any expertise in these matters:  I can only think about them in their simplest terms.  But there's often some clarity in looking at the basics of things.  And at their most basic, politics and economics are simply human behaviors.

To my understanding, that puts everything in context.  Human behavior was exactly what Jesus talked about.  Human behavior is exactly what we should mean when we say "Jesus is Lord."

 Politics, economics, whatever human behavior (or their theories) we name...aren't really autonomous entities.  Jesus is Lord.