Sunday, January 1, 2017

I Can't Say it Any Better

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

   --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

B&W vs. Kodachrome

The devil's favorite color is gray. - G.K. Chesterton

Years ago I read Ben Franklin's list of virtues that he tried to abide by and how he evaluated himself daily. I thought that was a bit extreme, but I found the idea of 7 deadly sins vs. 7 heavenly virtues a more attainable challenge, at least in my head.

The best way to score oneself on this Vice/Virtue challenge is to imagine it is like a customer service survey where Always is on the far right and also on the far left. 50/50 is in the middle. Always on the far left is BLACK and Always on the far right is WHITE.  Anything in between is a shade of gray.

Immediately we fail because no one can't check "Always Humble" without pride. And we continue to fail because practicing these virtues perfectly is impossible.

We can hope to live our lives in the lighter shades of gray. Perhaps leading a light gray life is a sign of a person with very good character, but real life isn't light gray. It's blue and green and yellow and pink and so on. Those nice bright colors, the greens of summer, makes me think all the world's a sunny day (oh, yeah)...Everything looks worse in black & white.

The world around us is colorful and vibrant and interesting. It is also imperfect (but that is okay)! Let go of perfectionism and enjoy the ride. That is truly a challenge but those who can do that have genuinely good character.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just a Reminder

Disagreements happen. I believe this is not a bad thing. Pretending to agree just to get along is so....fake. But disagreeing for the sake of creating an argument,'s unnecessary. I feel a little guilt there. Yet I gain a lot from disagreement. It challenges me to examine my faith, my behavior, and my relationships.  

There is a lot of toxic "Christianity" on the web. By toxic I mean it drives people away from faith rather than reaching them with it. It teaches false doctrines. It diminishes Christ's work of salvation on the cross. It casts doubts on God's sovereignty. It is hard to sit in silence sometimes.

The gentle reminder, kind of whispered in my ear = Prayer Is Important.

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A: It keeps no record of wrongs.

Q: What is love?

One woman was telling her story of divorcing her husband due to the hardness of her heart towards him. Years later, her granddaughter held her face in her hands and asked her, "Nana, did you ask for forgiveness from Papa {her grandpa} for divorcing him?" and she said, "Yes." "Did you ask my mama forgiveness for divorcing her dad?" and she said, "Yes." "Did you ask my aunts to forgive you?" "Yes," she replied. Then that little girl looked right in her grandmother's face and asked, "Why haven't you asked me for my forgiveness?" - Source
Yet it would be a million-zillion-billion times more important to teach the little girl to forgive her grandmother without making "Nana" beg for it.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, 
as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:32

But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:16

Monday, April 18, 2016

The CCO vs The Merciful God

The Chief Compliance Officer is the person who makes sure a company is obeying state and federal regulations and internal policies and procedures. CCOs are a necessary part of modern corporate America and ever increasing layers of regulation and litigation. The CCO knows the rule book cover to cover and is responsible for training employees to comply with the rules.

Does the church need CCOs? In Bible-speak, a CCO is a Pharisee.

Pharisees believe in obedience to the letter of the law. Compliance.

One of my top 10 favorite verses:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8

Do justice. To who? Jesus lives this verse. Do justice to the poor, the lame, the sick. Do justice to those the Pharisees excluded: whores, lepers, tax collectors, the demon possessed. Do justice on the the Sabbath. Do justice to the woman at the well, the bleeding woman, the dead girl, the adulteress.

What do all these people have in common? They are the weak. The victims. The abused. They didn't earn Jesus' mercy by obedience, but they received it by His Grace. It is absurd to believe Jesus would ever side with the abuser for the sake of keeping the law. It is beyond absurd to believe God would condemn an abused woman for divorcing her abuser.

The church does not need CCOs. It needs Jesus.

And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. Matthew 12:7

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who's the Most Modest of Them All?

Are clothing choices an issue in third-world countries? What clothes I choose to wear or not to wear and how much skin I expose or don't expose seems very #firstworldproblems. Having a choice in what I wear is a luxury not everyone can claim, and (I'm guessing) many people cannot even choose here in the U.S

What I do with my freedom of choice reflects the content of my character or, more likely, my character flaws. Do character flaws put me in the goat column? How about those who judge other people by how they dress? Another character flaw. Or men who blame their lusty thoughts or violent actions on women's attire? Another character flaw. That sinful nature is with us even when we try to do what is right.

The Amish use two German words I rather like;  hochmut (pride, arrogance, haughtiness) and demut (humility). The Amish, by having a strict dress code, have eliminated the freedom of choice. Their clothing won't reflect their character flaws (hochmut). Everyone in the community dresses the same and inequalities are eliminated. Therefore, demut is to blend in - to dress like those around you. To NOT stand out from the crowd.

The online modesty contests that break-out on Christian women's blogs make me shake my head. Inevitably they result in an endless one-upmanship battle. Instead of passing along encouragement and compliments they pass along gossip, judgement and condemnation. It's ugly and a perfect example of how clean we get "the cup" on the outside while the inside remains a dirty mess. (Matthew 23:25)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dichotomies or Blurred Lines?

Note the complete absence of FAITH or JESUS or GOSPEL or GRACE or even SANCTIFICATION.

This is written by someone who does not want to be reminded of her sins and attends a non-liturgical church with none of that uncomfortable confessional stuff. Plus her church rocks-out every Sunday to a praise band pumping out the top 10 CCM hits. That's not being entertained by popular media?? Seriously??