The Long History of How Jesus Came to Resemble a White European

The historical Jesus likely had the brown eyes and skin of other first-century Jews from Galilee, a region in biblical Israel: The Long History of How Jesus Came to Resemble a White European

The Dalai Lama: My Spiritual Journey

The spiritual legacy of a ‘big hitter’…

The Way of All Things

The classic Tao Te Ching . . . reveals how both action and contemplation are paths to experiencing harmony, peace, and unity amidst diversity. It exemplifies both the Bodhisattva’s skillful means of being there while getting there, every single step of the way: The Way of All Things – Center for Action and Contemplation

Report Reveals Widespread Sexual Abuse By Over 300 Priests In Pennsylvania

A long-awaited grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse details decades of misconduct and cover-up in six of the state’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses: Report Reveals Widespread Sexual Abuse By Over 300 Priests In Pennsylvania

 

God is huge…

I’ve been to churches like this…

One of the many reasons why religion is in decline. Relationship with your higher power is another story altogether…

Still Processing after 24 hours of a Horrible Event

Chris JarrellMy pastor Chris Jarrell wrote this yesterday:

Yesterday, a horrible act of evil occurred.  Myself along with many Americans are saddened, heartbroken and feeling helpless.   Many of us are angry, many of us are shaking our heads in disgust or simply questioning…Why?  How?

With any events that involve the murder of innocent children, my righteous anger wells up?

I try to stay in these places personally, because things like this breaks my heart deeply.  I also believe these break the heart of God.  When his creation, the very ones that He created have fallen so deeply in this sin sick world and because of their sin act out on others.

Sin separates us ALL from God’s perfect will.  Sin destroys and kills!  When we as a society excuse sin as this will only effect me…that is a myth and lie.  Sin harms others.  We see that the issues the person who committed this horrendous act has do with mental, nevertheless, that is not excuse, when we need to leave a life of self-control and I believe every heart and every life can be redeem for a greater purpose.

I will be honest with you I wrestle with the tension why things like this happen.  But here what I do know – “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18.  I also know that can deal with our pain and be confronted with our questions and doubts.  I also know that the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, not empathizes with us but he truly understands what it is like to live in our sin sick world.

As I began praying yesterday about this tragedy, the Holy Spirit prompted me to go to Psalm 61

1 O God, listen to my cry!

Hear my prayer!

2 From the ends of the earth,

I cry to you for help

when my heart is overwhelmed.

Lead me to the towering rock of safety,

3 for you are my safe refuge,

a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.

4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary,

safe beneath the shelter of your wings!

Another passage, I started praying through for those who are weak and feel like they have no strength to cope at this time is Isaiah 40:29 – “He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.”

I know these passages can’t erase the loss, the pain, and the events of yesterday.  I do know God can give us the strength that we all need.  Even in the most hopeless of times and circumstances, He can restore hope.

via Inside the Heart, Mind and Soul of Chris Jarrell: Still Processing after 24 hours of a Horrible Event.

The grief process

Melody Beattie writes:

To let ourselves wholly grieve our losses is how we surrender to the process of life and recovery. Some experts, like Patrick Carnes, call the Twelve Steps “a program for dealing with our losses, a program for dealing with our grief.”

How do we grieve?

Awkwardly. Imperfectly. Usually with a great deal of resistance. Often with anger and attempts to negotiate. Ultimately, by surrendering to the pain.

The grief process, says Elisabeth Kubler Ross, is a five stage process: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and, finally, acceptance. That’s how we grieve; that’s how we accept; that’s how we forgive; that’s how we respond to the many changes life throws our way.

Although this five-step process looks tidy on paper, it is not tidy in life. We do not move through it in a compartmentalized manner. We usually flounder through, kicking and screaming, with much back and forth movement – until we reach that peaceful state called acceptance.

When we talk about “unfinished business” from our past, we are usually referring to losses about which we have not completed grieving. We’re talking about being stuck somewhere in the grief process. Usually, for adult children and codependents, the place where we become stuck is denial.. Passing through denial is the first and most dangerous stage of grieving, but it is also the first step toward acceptance.

We can learn to understand the grief process and how it applies to recovery. Even good changes in recovery can bring loss and, consequently, grief. We can learn to help others and ourselves by understanding and becoming familiar with this process. We can learn to fully grieve our losses, feel our pain, accept, and forgive, so we can feel joy and love.

Today, God, help me open myself to the process of grieving my losses. Help me allow myself to flow through the grief process, accepting all the stages so I might achieve peace and acceptance in my life. Help me learn to be gentle with others and myself while we go through this very human process of healing.” via Just For Today Meditations – Maintaining A Life.

Whatever your losses, they will hang in there until you work the grieving process. Long ago a priest friend of mine told me that all loss is a death of sorts so applying Ross’ stages is appropriate for just about anything…

100 Quotes on Sanctification

Without further ado . . . the randomly selected winner of the quote contest is Andrew Donth, who shared some Spurgeon with us. Here’s the quote:

Charles Spurgeon: “If he gives you the grace to make you believe, he will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.” (Sermon, “Justification by Grace”)

Thanks to all of those who participated in the “send us a quote” contest that began on Monday. We have received hundreds on sanctification, the theme of our National Conference. There were so many that we literally cannot fit them into one blog post (I tried). So I’ve whittled the list down to 100 for you to spread or archive.” via 100 Quotes from You on Sanctification – Desiring God.

It Has Only Been Recently in History that Many Christian Groups Began Viewing Drinking as Sinful

Reference via It Has Only Been Recently in History that Many Christian Groups Began Viewing Drinking as Sinful.

We are instruments of the Creator

English: Collage of Lakota people from various...

“What could be greater than to be Wakan-Tanka’s mind, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, legs, and feet here on earth?” Fools Crow, LAKOTA

In order for the Creator to do His work on this earth, He needs the human being to do it. How He guides us is through our eyes, ears, hands, nose, mouth, arms legs and feet.

We are instruments of the Creator. We are His keepers of the earth. We are the keepers of our brothers. We are to teach His children. We are to respect the things He has made. We are to take care of ourselves and treat our bodies and our minds with respect.

We are to do respectful things. We are to walk the Sacred Path. We should have good thoughts. We should do only things that we think the Creator would have us do. What an honor to be a human being. What an honor that He would talk to us and guide us to perform His wonders.

Oh Great Spirit, let me appreciate the role you have given me. Let my sense be sharp to hear Your voice. Keep my mind clean so I can do the things You would have me do.” via Just For Today Meditations » Daily Recovery Readings – June 27, 2012.

How Do You Relate to a Gay Family Member?

This is a tough issue for me brought on by an upcoming event in our family. My gay brother-in-law is getting joined in a civil union — sorry, but I can’t quite bring myself to use the word ‘married’ yet — and we have been invited to the reception, not the ceremony. I have mixed feelings about this event;  I don’t know if I can really ‘celebrate’ it but I’m thinking about going to support my wife. In the past, I would have refused to attend on principle but as a recovering conservative Christianliving in the gray‘ I am considering input from all sides. Recently, John Piper posted this Christian conservative perspective on relating to gay family members…

Is there hope for a relationship with a family member who is not a believer and is in a same-sex relationship, and who knows your Christian position?

Yes. One story went like this. An adult sister-in-law was in a lesbian relationship and would bring her partner to all the wider family functions when she was invited. She knew her brother-in-law’s position. Not only was she sinning to be involved sexually this way, but her very soul was in danger of eternal judgment if she did not repent. She knew that’s what he thought.

At first she was very angry and, no matter how kind or gracious or caring the Christian couple tried to be, this sister-in-law saw them as homophobic and bigoted. She assumed she was not loved and let that define the relationship.

Then one day the brother-in-law asked her: Are you able to love me in spite of my views that you think are so wrong? Yes, she said. Then, why, he asked, will you not give us the same courtesy and assume that we might be able to love you in spite of your wrong views?

Remarkably, this actually made a difference. She apologized for pushing them away, and for assuming they could not love while disapproving of her ways.

Perhaps this might help others open the hearts of relatives to their genuine care.” via How Do You Relate to a Gay Family Member? – Desiring God.

‘Living in the gray’ is a new experience for me prompted by meditation on the word ‘right’. Nietszche said “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.I’ve had to let go of a lot of the need to be right in my life and I think have made great progress, but I have to admit there are some things about what Piper says that resonate with me and I’m wondering for myself what is ‘right’ in this situation as a Christian, an American and as a person ‘related’ to another person by marriage…

First of all, I have a problem with any person, community or group that demands tolerance but does not grant it in return and I believe respect for diversity should include respect for Christians, too. 16 years ago at my son’s baptism, my brother-in-law told my wife that he wanted to kill my infant son so that he wouldn’t grow up as a Christian Conservative like us. Something like that is hard to forget. Amends were not made, but forgiveness was given on our side. We have affirmed our love for him despite his cruel remark and his sexual orientation but I don’t feel we receive the same courtesy; or I don’t anyway — I shouldn’t speak for my wife…

On a broader level, I don’t know how I feel about civil unions as an American citizen or if I should just ‘get over it’. The human rights campaign says this about DOMA — the Defense of Marriage Act passed under the Clinton Administration:

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law.  This law discriminates in two important ways.  First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples.  Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. ” via Respect for Marriage Act | Human Rights Campaign.

The Wikipedia says

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Under the law, no U.S. state or political subdivision is required to recognize a same-sex marriage treated as a marriage in another state. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns.

Clinton and key legislators have changed their views and advocated DOMA’s repeal. The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had determined that Section 3 was unconstitutional and, though it would continue to enforce the law, it would no longer defend it in court. In response, the House of Representatives undertook the defense of the law on behalf of the federal government in place of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Section 3 of the DOMA has been found unconstitutional in a California bankruptcy case, a California class action suit on the part of public employees, several federal district court judges in three circuit court jurisdictions, and by a unanimous United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit three-judge panel.” via Defense of Marriage Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I wanted to get Focus on the Family’s perspective on DOMA, but the results have been skewed by anti-DOMA bloggers touting Senator Al Franken’s ‘demolition’ of their perspective. More of the anti-tolerance I referred to in ‘first of all’? The ultra-conservative Christian website Stand up for the Truth! frames the debate this way:

President Obama has opened up an issue that will divide the church in this nation—and for that I thank him.  For too long many Christian leaders and individuals have been able to tap dance around the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage.  We must use this opportunity to find out where our church leaders stand on this issue and then act accordingly.

God provides us choices.  He has given us free will to choose the paths for our lives.  I believe He is now allowing a choice that will define the future of American Christianity, giving it a choice to return to Him, or fall deep into apostasy.  The sheep are being separated from the goats.  Quite frankly I am excited that this issue is now front and center.  Hopefully, once and for all, Christian leaders will have to take a stand—a stand that will clearly define what they believe about the Word of God.  Insist that your pastor and church leadership make a clear, concise statement on this issue and how we as Christians should interact with the homosexual community.

If you think we can just stick our heads in the sand and sit this battle out, you are in for a rude awakening.  The battle is on us if we wish it or not—and how we react as Christians will say a lot.” via Gay Marriage: Seperating the Sheep From the Goats | Stand Up for the Truth.

My jury is still out and I’m looking for input. I’m going to forward this post to a couple of people whose opinions I respect and ask them to weigh in in the comments below. You, of course, are welcome to do the same…

Blogs Take Test of Faith

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach. The Protestant...
Image via Wikipedia

A news report that challenges conventional wisdom, especially one about a personal/cultural topic like religion, is often rich fodder for online conversation. This was the case last week as a Pew Research Center survey showing that atheists and agnostics were more knowledgeable about religion than followers of major faiths drew significant attention.

For the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, almost a quarter (23%) of the news links on blogs were to a Los Angeles Times story about the survey, making it the No. 1 subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that non-believers were able to answer more questions about religion correctly than believers, even when one controlled for educational background. It also showed that people were ill-informed on some of the questions related to their own religion. A majority of Protestants, for example, were unable to identify Martin Luther as the primary figure behind the Protestant Reformation. (The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Project for Excellence in Journalism are both are part of the Pew Research Center.)

You can follow the ‘via’ link above to go to the source and read the rest of the article if you’d like to dig a little deeper…

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