They That Wait

Someone who knows they are loved.

Someone who knows they are loved. (Matthew 18:3)

Many of us can quote the verse.  More than 30 years ago, I remember singing this verse as a song.  In case anyone reading this is having a memory lapse, here is the verse…

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”  (New King James Version)

Now, I used to wonder, how does waiting lend one renewed strength?  I mean, sometimes, all waiting does is frustrate the sense right out of a person.  Well, that has a lot to do with patience, but I don’t think that is what this is about.  So, what is this waiting all about?  Perhaps, we can look at another version and see if the interpretation sheds some light on the topic.

“…but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

Hmmm…I see the word, hope.  Now, that sheds a little more light.  A simple definition of hope is joyful expectation.  So, we can say that wait is like the word, hope.  Therefore, to wait upon the Lord is to be in expectation.  Well, that would get some wind up under those wings.  To put it this way – the Lord speaks to you, the Lord has promises for you – now you expect something.  God said it, you believe it.  Now, you have hope…you wait on Him.

Skip Moen did a nice study on this verse (http://skipmoen.com/tag/isaiah-4031/) and had this to say…”Wait - The Hebrew root is qawah. It means, ‘to wait, look for or hope with eager expectation.’  Faith is often expressed in patient endurance confidently knowing that God will act.”  

He goes further to explain that the word wait is not passive waiting, as one would do when waiting for a ride or for the kids to get ready to go out.  It is active, expectant.  It comes with anticipation, assurance…knowing there is an answer or a remedy, the manifestation of a prophesy…more that just whiling away the hours, but knowing that the Lord has answered and will come through.

So, now I look back at that old song, which ended with, “Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.”  As much as the intentions of the writer were good, the idea if simply waiting is not as much of the point as the idea of hoping.  We also know that hope is more than the way we use that word, as well.

We all have said something like, “I hope the weather holds out.” or, “I hope Bill feels better.”  As much as I can be a stickler for words, I often use hope the same was everyone else seems to…in place of the words pertaining to wanting or wishing.  The truth is, hope is based on the anticipation of something we know we are receiving or that is going to happen.

I have even heard people say, in trying times or when a loved one is seriously ill, “At least we have hope.”  While this sounds uplifting and spiritual, it also seems inaccurate.  I mean, if hope is about anticipation, then it is amiss to say one has hope in a situation of unknown further circumstances or unknown outcome.  How can I have hope, when what I really have is a desire that something good will happen or if someone will get well?  Now, if someone is on the mend, then I gain hope, as I eagerly await their full recovery.

We were never intended to have hope in a situation, but only have hope in the Lord.  We can have hope in Him, because when He speaks, whatever he says, is or will be.  To choose to wait on Him is based on what He says, not on what we desire or wish.

It seems to me that the rest of the passage speaks of refreshment or a personal revival.  Let’s face it, when you have hope, you are optimistic.  When you are optimistic, how does that affect the rest of you?  You will find yourself relieved of burden, in a good mood, full of energy and in good spirits.  You will, “mount up with wings as eagles…run and not be weary, walk and not faint.”

Teach me Lord, where You are, what You say and how to truly wait on You.

Amen.

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Things Jesus Didn’t Do, #2

The Woman at the Well

womanatthewell

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” “Woman, get Me some water!” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would bow down and worship Me.” have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  That is, if you are worthy.

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.  You are a whore and need to get your life right.

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know obviously have no clue; we hold the answers, worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship with much shouting, fanfare, dancing and raising of hands, the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit, loudly and with great emotional, spiritual fervor and in truth.

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.  Now, bow down, repent and worship me.

And We Know the Rest of the Story

Let’s take a look at something…back in verse 27…

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Is it me, or doesn’t it seem that the disciples, for the moment, grasped something about Jesus?  Jesus said that He did not come to judge or condemn.  Everyone He came in contact with could see and sense His grace, mercy and love.  So, even though the disciples were, “surprised to fine Him talking with a woman.”, much less a Samaritan, they did not ask why.

Meanwhile, this woman went back and got all her neighbors and friends to come hear Jesus.  He did not stop her or ask her to be a better representation of Him before she left to get them.  He did not insist He teach her more before she went to get the people.  For that matter, with all the questions He asked her, He never told her she should get under some “good teaching” so she could be “grounded” properly.

Furthermore, Jesus did not make a point of anyone’s sins or lifestyles, but instead was patient, kind and loved them right where they were.  Why do we think it is right to treat people differently than how Jesus did when He walked among us?  Yet, many among our ranks do this, blatantly, every day.

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Things Jesus Didn’t Do, #1

Matthew 14:13-21

Ever wonder what it would read like, if Jesus did things the way we see some things done in the Church today?  I will italicize my changes.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed was annoyed and referred their sick to a local clinic.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not all need to go away. We shall sort out who is worthy to be fed.  The poor are lazy and should not be given handouts.  Anyone who does not tithe properly should not be fed, either.  Send away any heathens, pagans, whores, homosexuals, or anyone who has had an abortion.  Anyone who does not have the right kind of faith should not be given food either.  People with physical challenges or special needs may eat, but keep them away from the rest of us.  You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the remaining select people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and Jesus and the disciples sat and ate, sharing some with the few, approved people around them. gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples kept whatever was picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was Jesus, His twelve chosen men and a few select, wealthy, clean, approved, normal people. about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Do you think we are missing compassion, today?  Haven’t any of us, at one time or another, been guilty of partiality or favoritism?  Don’t we tend to refer people, rather than do what we may be able to do to help others?

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School Food vs. Obesity

I just gotta get this one off my chest.

Courtesy, Google Images

Courtesy, Google Images

More and more schools are embracing healthier food selections for the students.  This certainly is not a problem, as we all need to improve how we eat.  But, has school food really changed that much over the past 40 years?

Childhood obesity is a problem in the United States.  Well, obesity in general is a problem, here.  But, I am talking about kids, right now.  Schools are currently taking it upon themselves to assist in the War of the Widening Whippersnappers.  But, I have to ask…are they going too far?

When I was in elementary school, I don’t recall the food being “unhealthy”.  By the time I was in high school, we had soda machines and even ice cream machines in our “commons” rooms, as well as soda machines outside of the cafeteria doors.  Looking back, obesity was not a wide-spread problem, then.  Why is it such a problem now?  I may have a theory, which I will get to in a moment.

Schools are going so far as to regulate what kids bring to school for lunch.  A four year old girl had a turkey and cheese sandwich she brought from home and it was taken from her, being deemed not healthy enough to eat. (See article in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/15/school-lunch-guidelines-p_n_1278803.html).  Is this what we have come to?  Her turkey and cheese was deemed not healthy enough, so they gave her chicken nuggets…really?  So much better (note my tone of sarcasm).

It has come to the point that parents are not allowed to feed their children anything unless the school inspectors approve what the child brings for lunch.  How far will this be taken?  My imagination easily runs with this.  Can’t you just see it?  First, the children pass through a metal detector, in search of possible weapons.  Then, they come to a table where a stern woman in a gray uniform dress must search their lunch boxes.  If it does not meet approval, the lunch box is confiscated and the parents are called in for a meeting with the head of the Lunch Box Search Committee and Child Protective Services and told (I picture a Hogan’s Heroes style German accent), “You must give zee child a lunch vee approve of, or vee must feed zee child zees fried nuggets made from who-know-vot parts of zee chicken, coated in a breading of GMO veet product.”

Many schools have removed soda and snack machines and/or replaced them with machines dispensing non-soda soft drinks and non-sugary snacks.  Oh…news flash…those alleged juices often have more sugar than soda and the 100% juices have more sugar than the other juices…so, that should sweeten the deal, right?

With all these changes and precautions, why do our kids keep expanding their mid-sections before they expand their horizons?  Why was obesity not a problem with the same types of foods still being served now as they were years ago?  Are parents secretly shoving cake down their kids throats so they can then blame the schools for making them fat?  Is it our increasingly sedentary lifestyle?  We can blame video games and cell phones for at least part of the childhood girth growth, but there is more to be blamed.

How about homework?  Yes, homework.  It has been reported that some kids are carrying backpacks weighing in excess of 25 pounds.  Many children, even in elementary school, are taking home several hours of homework per night.  So, this brings about a great scenario…Junior has three or four topics worth of homework a night.  He spends more than three hours getting it all done.  Time for dinner.  Well, since half of the school year is after Daylight Savings, it is dark out, so Junior can’t go out and play catch with his other 9 year old friends.  He can at least call or text them and catch up on whatever 9 year olds talk about.  This is not across the boards, but not all that uncommon.

We have to consider the reality of foods our children are getting.  If you read books like Wheat Belly, you will see that the wheat we consume these days is anything but healthy (wheat is not only in bread and pasta, but in so many products you would be shocked.  Read ingredients labels.  Wow).  It has been so genetically modified that it can be credited with a host of health problems, including being overweight.   Enough about this…you can get the book for yourself.  My point is, many of us are eating foods that are making us overweight and unhealthy.

In our rushed and busy lives, we all consume more processed foods than ever.  Often, it is easier for busy families to pop some pre-made thing in the microwave or make a quick stop at Kentucky-King-MacWendy’s, rather than a selection of healthier options we bought for our own pantry.  As parents, we do the best we can…I am not judging these actions, just simply mentioning that this is what takes place.

Parents need to stop letting the schools take over the jobs of parents.  Schools must stop taking the parents jobs.  If a child brings cake for lunch every day, someone needs to talk with the parents and discuss healthier options.  But, if the child brings a reasonable lunch…let’s say, a turkey and cheese sandwich…the school and it’s Nutrition Nazi’s need to back off.

We can all do better, for sure.  But, I don’t think that school lunches are to blame for our four-foot fatties.  Our country has serious issues with portion control and the types of foods we eat all day long, much less in the 45 minutes of a school cafeteria lunch.  I think it is good that schools provide healthier options for kids to eat, but it can be taken too far.  We cannot come to the point where children will fear some monitor will take their lunch away for not being healthy enough.

More could be said, but I will leave it right where I did.  No matter the topic, I choose to be true.

 

 

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Christian Left…or Right?

From Google Images

From Google Images

Christians to the left.

Christians to the right.

Each thinks the other is wrong.  The Christian Left (also an organization with a Facebook page) tends to side with liberal Democrats, preferring ideas such as feeding the poor (welfare), peace (war should not be an option), no capital punishment, free healthcare for all, etc.  Our friends on the Right feel that Republicans are on their side, embracing capitalism, military action against our enemies, getting people off of welfare and that people should pay for their healthcare.  Honestly, each side has some valid points.  But, each side also has some serious issues which we need to be aware of.


Who is right?  Who is wrong?  

Both.

I get Christian Left on my Facebook news feed.  Much of what they share is spot on.  However, some of what they share is way off base.  I appreciate some of the articles that expose the deceit of some of our politicians as well as their outrageous statements.  Yet, once in a while, they share articles that attempt to show scriptural basis for things that are plainly wrong.

I cannot stand for any article that attempts to justify sin by using (out of context) scripture or specious argument/defense.  In one article they shared, the author used a list of scriptures to prove that life does not begin at conception.  Not one scripture they used proved this point, but because the author wrote in such great language, it appeared logical.  However, they completely ignored what God said in Jer. 1:5, “Before you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you.”  As far as I can see, life begins in the mind of God.  It is wrong to judge and shame a woman who has chosen abortion, but trying to justify abortion by saying the Bible shows that life does not begin until after birth is wrong, as well.

On The Other Side

I also hear and read what our conservative friends have to say.  Should we insist that the rules we embraced for ourselves should be the standard and law for all?  Then, should we belittle, bash, judge and cast off those who are living lives that we see as “unholy” or “unclean”?

Many on the conservative side want to do away with welfare and don’t care about the cost of healthcare.  I ask…is this really an attitude Jesus would author?  He fed the masses…well, He gave the food to the disciples to feed them.  Did or would He ever condone turning someone away because they could not afford to see a doctor?  Too many conservatives not only want to do away with support systems for the poor, but in some cities they do not want organizations feeding the homeless.  Is this what Jesus would do?

Yes, Both Sides

I could list the ills of Left and Right.  With a little time, I could show book, chapter and verse as to what is wrong with each and why.  We need to remember that God had things written down in what we know as the Bible.  We also need to pray and study things out for ourselves and see what scripture really has to say about things.

I am disappointed by fellow Christians who ignorantly embrace specious teachings, statements or articles by anyone, whether the author be conservative, liberal or some renown Christian teacher.  I am even further disappointed when Christians embrace teachings, statements and articles which are judgmental, cruel and un-Christlike.  It is one thing to attempt to justify sin or to claim that something which is against God’s design is okay…this is truly bad enough.  But, to be a Christian and ignore the example and teachings of Jesus Himself is repulsive.  This is not to say one side is “worse” than the other, but some words carry a different punch than others do.

Sure, there are articles claiming homosexuality is fine with God and while they sound rather educated, the information is seriously flawed.  Does it win anyone to the Kingdom?  Probably not.  But, if you line up all the folks with all the negative, bashing and judgmental statements against gays, you will see one of the most Kingdom repellent activities of all.

I am not okay with people telling anyone something that is wrong is okay.  Satan convinced Eve of such notions.  This leads people to believe that we can interpret scripture and God’s commands in a way that suits our desires.   They use intelligent wording and apparent/alleged interpretation and definitions to prove a scripture doesn’t mean what it says.  While I understand many of the translations in scripture need improvement, some of these well-meaning folks have only made things sound more correct than they are.  However, in the midst of all of this, there is no message given that makes anyone thinks God hates them.

This is where the Right Wing Christians step over the line.  They shout more messages of what they are against, that people think God is against them.  We have well known and respected men like Pat Robertson letting people know what makes him sick concerning homosexuals and Franklin Graham saying that Christians who voted for Mr. Obama should question their salvation.  This side of Right has done a lot to show people that God is a God of wrath and hatred, ready to strike against anyone who does not tow His line.  Tell me…weren’t the Pharisees and Saducees all about the law and living in such a way to please (or appease) God?  Weren’t they the ones who pushed the idea that salvation would come through works and holy living?  Jesus often had choice words for them.

Jesus did not advocate sin.  However, He did not harp on it.  He did not call the woman at the well a dirty whore and then tell her she needed to get right before going to tell the people to come hear Jesus.  He did not tell Zaccheus, “I am coming to your house, as soon as you get yourself right.”  Everyone was welcome in His presence, to hear Him teach, to allow Him to lay hands on them, to ask Him questions.  Do our words show His love or our hatred?

Where Does This Leave Us?

Let’s be careful not to embrace every story or teaching, especially if it is “new”.  Examine, study for ourselves and consider other points of view, even if they’re contrary to everything we grew up knowing.  We also need to set our emotions aside and embrace what is real and true.  How?  Again…study for ourselves.

Do research on a topic and find all sides.  Seek out the ones that truly prove their claims,  When my friend Michael Willingham and I did our articles concerning the Biblical view of women, we stated our cases, citing the teachings of others who laid out solid evidence.  We found that many teachings the Church embraced for centuries has been in error.  The evidence was there.  We studied it for ourselves rather than blindly accepting what didn’t seem right.

The Barometer

Jesus.  We can read the accounts of what He said and did while physically on Earth.  We also read the activities of His apostles during the dawn of the Church.  That is the barometer from which we need to measure our words and activities.  Left or Right, we need to do this, in order to be true.

 

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The Christianising of America

crossflagHow many times have we heard it?  “America is a Christian Nation!”

Of course, there is the counter-argument, “America is NOT a Christian Nation!”

Well, that should cover both points of view quite nicely.  As a citizen of the United States, as a follower of Jesus Christ and as a reasonable human being (that may be arguable for those who know me), I want to see if I can lay out some sort of sense for both of these arguments.

I thought about listing several of the Founding Fathers and showing whether or not they were actually Christians.  As I looked them up, the ones who were not outright deists were not all conclusively provable as Christians.  So, before I entered into exhaustive research, I figured I would go from a Biblical sense approach, along with a little logic, simply based on the idea of the claim of America being a Christian Nation.

The Ten Commandments
Every time a public building wants to remove a long-standing copy of the Ten Commandments from their wall, the outcry is loud and angry.  “These are the principles upon which this nation was founded!”, one may cry.  Another yells to leave our “Biblical heritage” alone. Yet, there are others who yell just as loudly about the “separation of Church and State”.  Well, how would Jesus see this?

First, Jesus did not go around with the Ten Commandments out in front of Him, declaring they be displayed for all to see.  For that matter, He did not reference them much, at all.  The only times He did say anything about them was when asked about them.  In Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, He opens with what we call “The Beatitudes”, in Matthew 5.

The Beatitudes

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What do we see here?  It is more obvious what we do not see here…”Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not”.  No, this is one of those instances He takes the Law out of the picture, instead teaching grace and relationship.  So, if we were to consider what is “Christian”, that is, “Christ-like”, we should further consider that Jesus is more about relationship and far less about rules, rites and law.

If I were to make my first point, it would be, if this is a Christian Nation, why are we so hung up on a set of rules that Jesus Himself did not make a huge issue out of?

“Other” Religions
How many religions are represented in the U.S.?  Ten?  One hundred?  Ten thousand?  Most of us can name a few of the well known ones…besides Christianity, we have, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Ba’hai, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism, Taoism…just off the top of my head.  There are also Christian denominations…Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Independent Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Church of God of Prophecy, Church of Christ, Episcopalian, Lutheran and on and on and on.  There are actually thousands of Christian denominations in the U.S.  Yes, thousands.

If we were to claim this a Christian Nation, does that mean that people of other religions should have no voice?  Would it further lead to which Christian voice should be listened to?  That is, which denomination is the true Christian voice?  After all, if we are to be a Christian nation, we have to face doctrinal differences and how they will play into policy making…right?  Let’s be honest – some denominations may have more liberal views while others far more conservative.

As for non-Christian religions, in an ideal “Christian Nation”, how do we handle these folks?  Do we want them freely expressing their religion, proselytizing, or wearing religious garb in the public streets of this “Christian Nation”?  After all, as a Christian Nation, we would have an image to uphold and we certainly wouldn’t want our children to be exposed to some sort of anti-Christ idol worship.

So, if there be a point #2, I would say it is the question of whether or not we would allow folks to be and do what God has allowed them for thousands of years.

Homosexuals and Baby Killers
Let’s get down to what we really want as an alleged Christian Nation.  What we really want to do is legislate peoples choices and the lives they live.  As a Christian Nation, we would prosecute abortionists and ban all same gender marriage.  What the heck…we may as well regenerate the old Sodomy laws and make homosexuality illegal.  Let’s not forget…no one of opposite gender should live together unless they are married.  And, if we really can tighten up the rules, no unmarried person should have sex and if found out can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Wow…we can also finally take control of Hollywood and all those R-rated movies can be made illegal.

Ah, Christian paradise.  Yes.  We take this wicked, sinful, lust-laden land and return it to it’s so-called Christian roots.   Yes!  We can finally have the laws that make us more comfortable and people will feel safe.  We can elect officials that only agree with the stance we have as a “Christian Nation”.  Ah, Paradise.

Before anyone starts to sermonizing me, I do not think that homosexuality is God’s design and that abortion is an awful choice and does take a life.  So, any of you high-horse folks can just step down, step back and relax.

My point is (the third point, I suppose), it seems that the main reason people want to “return to our Christian roots”, is so we can have laws that make us feel more comfortable.  As noble as it seems of the surface to return to our roots, it really boils down to Christians getting what they want.

Our Forefathers
Any one of us can dig up some fine quotes from the founders of the United States of America.  We can find documents that cite Jesus’ name, as well as, “under God” and talk of God’s providence in this Land.  With some research, we can find out who had prayer lives, attended church regularly and observed all Christian holidays.  There were some Christians who took part in the founding of this country, but there were also non-Christians.  As for our signers of the Declaration of Independence, they were all of Christian denominations, but does that mean they were actual followers of Christ?  After all, anyone can be part of an organization, whether it be a church or a club.

What document declares the United States as a Christian Nation?  Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution of the United States declares our country as a “Christian Nation”.  Regardless of all the quotes, dedications to God and even saying we are, “one nation under God”, we were never declared to be a Christian Nation.  People moved over here to get away from religious oppressors and wanted the freedom to worship as they saw fit without any king telling them how they must worship.  Yet, there is no evidence that they wanted to establish a Christian Nation, per se.

Last Words
In the end of his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln finished with, “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  

By all accounts, Mr. Lincoln was a Christian.  The fourth and fifth words in this portion of the Gettysburg Address are, indeed, under God.  But, he said of the government…of, by and for…the people.  Not the Christians.  Not a Christian Nation.  To acknowledge that this Nation is under God, is not to declare it a Christian Nation, but to simply acknowledge that this Nation is not greater than the God in Whom the speaker believes.

If this were to be a Christian Nation, it would have been declared under Christ.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we would be more concerned about the attributes of Jesus instead of the rules of the Ten Commandments.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we would have to neglect the idea of a separation of Church and State and force a Theocracy upon the masses.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we would have to ask that folks follow only Christ and not have the freedom to choose (a freedom God created us with) not to follow Him and to follow other gods, if any at all.  If we were to be a Christian Nation, we would have to enforce the moral laws we think should be enacted, not allowing people, once again, the freedom to live how they see fit (without bringing harm to others…murder, theft, violence…these are very important laws). whether they live together out of wedlock, live as homosexuals, or even as drunkards.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we may as well forget the words of our First Amendment…”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  Finally, if this were to be a Christian Nation, we would thereby be making law respecting an establishment of religion and prohibiting others to exercise their own.

While we may have been guided by “Christian values” and while some founders were followers of Jesus Christ, I would have to say, no…we are not a Christian Nation and nor should we entertain the idea of attempting to make this a Christian Nation.  Yet, as Christians, we should endeavor to bring Christ to our neighbors and thus to our country, by feeding the poor, loving the unlovable and not pronouncing judgment over every “sinner” we meet.  We need to follow Christ’s example and walk it out.

It is time we stopped worrying about whether or not the United States of America is a Christian Nation.  As Christians…as the Church…we do need to pay more attention toward being the Church.  And, if there are any Commandments that are to be followed, they should be followed by us and, even then, there are only two – love God and love others.  Jesus said so.

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Twelve Million Dollars

dollarsignWhat can twelve million dollars buy?

Let’s look at that number:  $12,000,000

This could  by 1000 people reliable transportation…or 2000 people, cheaper, but reliable transportation.

Painters could be hired to paint 3000 houses.

Two-thousand unemployed people can be given an additional 500 dollars a month for up to a year.

Twenty-four homeless or crisis pregnancy shelters can get some really nice repairs and upgrades, as well as food for  tenants.

Forty-eight food pantries can be very well stocked.

One million pairs of shoes for kids in need.

A whole lot of clothing for people in need.

New equipment for more than 1000 parks.

What Else?

A building.  A state of the art, two thousand seat auditorium for a church to meet.  It will have offices, meeting and class rooms, a cafe’, a one-million dollar sound and lighting systems.  Basically, it is a state of the art facility which will be a place for two thousand people to sit.

Now, to be fair, it will also include opportunity for use for community functions, such as high school graduations.  The facility will be a great place for people to meet, learn and go out and serve the community.

But, as far as I can see, it is a twelve-million dollar place for people to sit.  Meanwhile, there are needs in the community of which that kind of money could make a significant impact…more so than a nice, state-of-the-art facility.

No, It’s Not Wrong

I can’t directly say that nice facilities are wrong.  I would, however, clearly suggest that we should reconsider how monies are spent in the Church.  How many congregations spend millions of dollars on buildings to meet in?  Then, if you consider the cost of upkeep for these grand edifices, the cost is huge.  These churches include a staff of full time and part time paid people, which includes pastors, office and maintenance staff.  On average, building upkeep, salaries and benefits are 67% of a church’s budget.  How does that feed, shelter and clothe people?

It appears priorities are askew.  Let’s put it this way…we are commanded to “go forth”, we are told that the “true religion” feeds and helps and we are told that what we do for “the least of these”, we have done for Jesus.  Yet, we pool our monies together to build a building to make ourselves more comfortable and comfortable enough to invite folks into.  What I fail to see in the massive amounts of money being spent on a building is how it really does what scripture shows we are supposed to do with our time and resources.

What About the Temple?

Ah, yes.  The temple.  What a glorious edifice that was.  We must remember, however, that the old testament was full of types and shadows.  Plus, what the Israelites wanted, they got.  They wanted religion, rules and rites and all.  Furthermore, when Jesus died, the veil to the Holy of Holies tore from top to bottom (which was no small feat).  He came that all might be able to come to God, without the aid of the temple, sacrifices or a priest.

The First Century Church mostly met in houses and they used their time and resources to take care of one another as well as others (Read Acts…you’ll see).  When they “laid money at the feet of the apostles”, it was not for a building program, but to see to the needs of those who had need.  By the way…they didn’t tithe, but that is a whole other topic.

We simply need to pray about our priorities.  Time and resources can be better spent on more than a grand edifice.  No matter how we may justify it and place fancy terminology all over it, it still comes down to monies that could be better spent on and or people.

 

We can put any spin we want on it…call it the “house of God” or whatever.

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