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Archive for August, 2013

This is a great video from The Work of the People on women in the church and culture.

Resurrected Identity

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I just wanted to announce that I have come to terms with hypocrisy, that of others and mine own. I am not by any means embracing hypocrisy. I still, like many of you, find it to be a terrible sin and I mourn its existence in the world, in our hearts and in our Church.

I spent most of my twenties in a hedonistic slumber. When I came to, I was horrified by what I had become. The worst realization being that I was a hypocrite. I was raised in the church, the son of a minister and yet was one of the biggest hypocrites I knew of, and there were many who shared my opinion of me. I went to the Church as a hypocrite and was disciplined and restored. I must confess however that I am still a hypocrite. I talk about things that are wrong with society, but I am not doing everything I can to help. I believe the Christian worldview and seek to demonstrare and live by it, yet I am in so many ways a failure. I must go to God constantly for mercy and forgiveness. I am a sinner that is more desperate for God’s grace every day. I believe a lot that I do not do. I am a hypocrite.

I am not alone. You are a hypocrite too. We are a species cursed with all the potential of the gods and yet will never live up to even the minutest fraction of what we could be. As good as you are , as hard as you try, you still fall short.

Which is why I say I have come to terms. I was a very vocal critic of the church’s hypocrisy. Every person I have talked to about God, Jesus, religion in general or going to church have said that they don’t believe, or don’t want to be involved with the church, or don’t read the Bible because the “Church is full of hypocrites”. I have always been able to empathize being that when I was young a church fired and then evicted my Dad and his four children out on the streets leaving us to live in a basement, which was a great blessing. I was angry at that pastor and that church and that anger became aimed at the Church and God as a whole. It is true, the Church is full of hypocrites.

So sadly, the religious hypocrites have kept untold numbers of persons from being involved in the community of faith and even from worshiping the God who created them. If only he would cleanse his church somehow, get those nasty sinners out of there then maybe those who are so hurt and offended would find a place worthy of their dedication and service. That would however, be hypocritical.

I began asking questions recently when this subject comes up, “What do you find important in the world that needs attention? What are some things that could be done to help? What are you doing about it? In light of the rampant hypocrisy in the Church, what are you doing that is different than those sinners? What causes have you taken up? What people are you giving yourself and your resources to?” The discussion that results has concluded with a laugh and an understanding that we are a couple of hypocrites discussing hypocrisy. We are all hypocrites.

Is it really fair to call out the church as if it is the only place where hypocrites hang out? Is the church like a hobby club where instead of meeting to trade stamps or make crafts, people meet to hypocrisai (a real word?)? Are there no hypocrites at grocery stores, in schools, at our places of employment? If so do we stop buying groceries, drop out of classes or stop working for a living? Do hypocrites avoid the banks and the Atheist clubs? If we think about it, they are everywhere, not just in the Church but in our circles of influence, our friendships, our partnerships. Hypocrites are everywhere.

Moving on. What does another’s hypocrisy have to do with us? Many of us say that hypocrites are the main reason why we don’t believe in Jesus, but that makes no sense…its actually nonsense. Jesus led a movement to restore Israel as their long promised and hoped for King. He believed he was the anointed one (Christ) chosen to be the Messiah. The Bible claims that Jesus was indeed this person and that he was crucified because of this. The early church claims that Jesus then resurrected from the grave three days later. This Jewish Messiah was now the King of all the nations. This is the basic story which Christians claim and live by. There is a lot of room for life and messing up within this story. Some nice people will live by it and some not so nice people will live by and believe it. It is true that Christianity believes that those who believe it, nice or not, will be cared for and made better by God himself, but that is besides the point. Are we really still thinking that this story is made true or untrue based on the hypocrisy or lack thereof of others?

If what Christianity claims, despite the hypocrites, is true then we are all held accountable to the Jewish Messiah, for he is our King. I know this sounds a lot like Pascal’s argument, but think about it. How does the hypocrite change this reality? If every person is responsible for their own sin before a Holy God, what does a hypocrite in the Church have to do with you?

If you are concerned because the hypocrite was how you were learning about Jesus, then find another way to learn. Jesus is a very popular person. There are books upon books written, many learned teachers and pastors, find a non hypocrite and have a chat. If you are sincere, you want to learn but hypocrites have kept you away from Jesus then go to the early Christian source for yourself, read the Gospels.

I want to offer one way of seeing the presence of hypocrites in the church as a good thing. Jesus died for hypocrites and sinners of all types. Hypocrisy does nothing to diminish his love for the hypocrite. He loves the liar and the pervert as well. He loves the criminally insane and he loves the greedy. He proves this not only by accepting all of these, but also by not leaving them there. All who come to him will find transformation. This is what love does. Love accepts us as we are but does not leave us that way. Love makes us better. So hypocrisy in the church means that God will accept all of us as well… and will conform us into his image, Romans 8:28-30. The hypocrite who comes to Jesus will not be a hypocrite forever. Jesus changes everything.

So push those hypocrites out of your way and, though you yourself are not perfect, come to the One who is. Jesus has defeated death itself and is therefore your rightful King. He is the person missing in your life and once you have him, no hypocrite, or anything in your past or even within your heart, can keep you from him. Come to Jesus and obey his call to be free and forgiven.

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Anyone who has real interest in knowing about Jesus and his movement cannot afford to ignore N.T. Wright. Listen and be challenged, Christian and Non-Christian alike.
Simply Jesus

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Baptism: New Exodus

Here is the first installment in a series I am doing for the blog of Grace Church of Dunedin. Baptism is one of the most beautiful and powerful traditions of the Church, one reason is the many colorful theological and historical aspects that are part of this action. Jesus leads a new Exodus of true freedom and salvation. Grace and Peace.

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It is not a new thing to see a government cloaked in secrets and doing business in the shadows, while assuredly smiling to the citizenry believing the charade. It seems the habitual mistake of all Systems of oppression and Empire is that of underestimating the ruled. It is through this insult to intelligence that the fall of the mighty begins. In their neglect of human capacity for freedom and liberty they deceive themselves, for military might, deception, and intelligence nor fear are capable of more than a shallow control. The human spirit is a moth in the fresh luminescence of the street light at dusk, fluttering overhead of the young seeing that same sight as sign to return home for dinner. Humanity will always be drawn to truth, and they will bask in it at all costs, for they are designed to find their purpose and delight there and nowhere else. How foolish are they that believe they are succeeding in controlling the masses by rationing what they feed them? As though the populace has not the mind nor the strength to hunt and find other sources of nourishment, especially when what is provided by the government is lacking severely and cannot satisfy? Government is ordained by God and appointed by humans for the order and civility of society. Government is good as long as it serves Humanity, when it seeks to be served and to control it is antithetical to its purpose.

There is no greater insult to God than the oppression and violation of his image bearers. Nothing ignites him to action like the whispered desperate cry of one he created. God creates and designs with intention and care all who bear his image. When government believes it is sovereign over that which God rightfully claims ownership and affection a great conflict exist, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”. When Caesar believes he is entitled to that which is not his, he finds himself corrected and judged by the One he tries to forget. Humanity belongs to God, not to government. Justice and peace come from God, not government. Security and liberty come from God, not government. Life and breath come from God, not government. Humanity is to serve and love God, not government. A humanity free of fear of powers and institutions is a humanity free to exist as intended, reflecting the Divine Image in which they are fashioned: To breathe and dance, to paint and sing, to love and forgive, to worship and delight. A humanity that sees this freedom as theirs will no longer be controlled with fear and force, but will become liberators of others and of the earth.

True freedom is never threatened by terror. Nor is it effected by power. True freedom is the very core of the person, it is who they are ontologically. When one feels oppressed and in bondage it is because they are seeing the chains or the power structure of their society and believing those are why liberty is lost. Many men and women have realized that their shackles and bars have no bearing on their liberty, for liberty is a human right and it is intrinsic. They have learned that the only true prison is that of their own making. If anyone wishes to be free look to God the author of freedom and find it there. Realize what liberty really is and know that it is always there for you to enjoy.  Government cannot take freedom. They believe they can take it away with prisons and spying. They believe they have power to instil fear with threat of imprisonment, loss of possessions, societal status or even death. The executioner has not the power to kill anything but the human body; ideas and truth they are powerless to resist or destroy. Jesus promises a resurrection like his, this is a great hope and in it one may find sanity. Resurrection means that even the body is beyond the reach of the earthly powers, and that justice is the ultimate and permanent state of the planet and of humanity. Do not fear government, not because they are good or because there is nothing to worry about. Do not fear them because they can do nothing but either right rule and therefore prosper or oppression and therefore die as so many ruling powers before them. God is not mocked nor is history a fool.

Too often we get mired down in superficialism, materialism, nationalism. We forget that borders are invisible, labels are inventions and prejudices are learned. The fight can be won by extending empathy globally. And that means being the change we want to see.- Abby Martin, Breaking the Set

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Great article. Evil would love for us to be in discord and categorized. The beginning of the Biblical story has evil as an agent of disunity. May we realize this and live dedicated to the reversing of this agenda. Be reconciled to God and one another. Grace and peace.
We are all Rawandans

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This talk breaks through the generalizations and assumptions right into the true and complicated heart of the task of building peace in Palestine. I pray for Father Chacour and his ministry to live out the challenge and example of his countryman, Jesus.

Standing on the Wall

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