Don’t Worry; I Have Found Our Escape Plan

So, all this stuff about Donald Trump and the danger of our situation is scary as hell. But don’t worry – I was reading through conspiracy theories on the internet a while back, and it turns out that rescue is on it’s way. The aliens have it worked out. Among the many things I learned in my foray into the world of ancient alien conspiracies … Continue reading Don’t Worry; I Have Found Our Escape Plan

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How to Recognize a Brother or Sister in Christ

I have met some of the coolest people while writing this blog. One of these days, I’m going to have to share the story of how God sent some of them to help catch me at the end of my fall last summer. Based on my experience with my readers, I have to assume that if you are reading my blog, you’re probably a pretty … Continue reading How to Recognize a Brother or Sister in Christ

Power and Love On the Cross

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man … Continue reading Power and Love On the Cross

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THIS

This is what God would want those who claim his name to hear today. Like really today. Right here in the reality that is whatever day it is right now when you’re reading this. Don’t worry, I’m not claiming to have some “prophetic word” for y’all. Although maybe more people would pay attention if I did. And send me some seed money! Yeah. . .

Allow I to start over . . .

So, I have this prophetic word that God asked me to pass along to y’all. (Click here to make your donation today.) Now, this here is a powerful message I’ve been entrusted with.  I’m just repeating things God has told me will be heard and understood by those who put trust in his word and know the one who is the way the truth and the life. (OK, what really happened was I read the bible. You know, like all the stuff in between the 50 verses you can use to win an argument. And this is what I got from it. And obviously I think you should agree with me.)

Before I move on to the body of this here prophetic word, may I take a moment to remind you that while God allows you to enjoy the food from his table freely, it’s always a good idea to do what you can to help him offset the costs associated with an operation like this. (Yes, I know that makes no sense. The less sense you make when asking for money in God’s name, the more money people will send you. And I need a car.)

Click here to make your donation today. I’m not sure how it will work on your taxes, so I won’t come right out and say that it’s tax deductible, but I’m pretty sure any decent tax guy can find a way to make it work.

Now, on to this here prophetic word. (Which sounds best when being read by the intense, commanding voice in your head, btw.) :

God is God. God needs nothing from us. He takes no satisfaction in seeing people willing to make any sacrifice imaginable to protect their understanding of the Christian faith but are unmoved by the site of despair all around them. He’s not interested in hearing our explanations for why our way really is loving, no matter how much our neighbors say that it hurts.

What kind of father is happy that his kid swept the floor while he’s listening to his other son being beat with the broom? What kind of Father do you think we serve? One who doesn’t give a crap about one of his children just so long as his orders are followed? One who elevates service to him above any other concern? If that’s what you think, either you are under the mistaken impression that God is far less good than you are or I feel sorry for your kids. Continue reading “THIS”

The Bad Habit You Must Let Go Of

Have you ever had the experience of telling someone that they are hurting you only to be met with hostility, accusations, shaming and ridicule? Yeah, me too.

Have you ever been the person who responded to a hurting person with hostility, accusations, shaming and ridicule? Yeah, me too.

There seems to be something very deep in us that reacts to even the mildest suggestion that we are less than completely perfect in all our ways by becoming defensive. I used to think that this was somehow related to being punished and shamed as children, but having been a mother to 6 kids for 19 years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that being defensive is our default position.

I suspect the issue lies in the fact that we humans are so vulnerable to each other. We are vulnerable to our parents who may or may not have the skills to raise us without causing severe damage. If they are willing to raise us at all. Humans have a long, pervasive history of infanticide.

We are vulnerable to those who we are in community with. If they tell us we are worthless, selfish, lazy and unlovable, we will absorb their ugly lies as our reality. Throughout most of human history shunning was a death sentence and our psyches still process rejection as a form of severe physical pain.

A spouse that rejects us could result in the loss of position, community and even our ability to survive. Being turned out by family can cost us relationships with those we depend on and even an inability to care for our own children.

All in all, it’s really no wonder that there’s something very deep in us that recoils at the possibility that we will be condemned or rejected. In fact, it’s one of those automatic responses from our reptilian brain, much like fear, anger and shame. All it takes is someone pointing out that your shoe lace is untied and you find yourself launching into a ridiculous litany of explanations about how you like having your shoe laces untied because unlike the sort of person who goes around pointing out untied shoe laces, you aren’t a brainless sheep.

The problem, of course, is that when we allow our reptilian brain to send us into a self-defensive frenzy, we hurt people. Continue reading “The Bad Habit You Must Let Go Of”

God as Man

I think that when God became embodied, he would have had to go through a sort of forgetting process in order to experience life fully as a man. People who deal in mystical things commonly teach that we each contain all knowledge within us, but we need to remember. We’ve forgotten. So it makes sense that Jesus would have been born having forgotten everything he knew as … Continue reading God as Man

When the Cost is Too High

I knew a Christian man who had an employee who did something dumb and illegal without his knowledge. She was caught and arrested at his place of business. The woman had small children at home, a drug addicted ex and her kids would end up in foster care if she went to jail. He had seen what can happen to kids in foster care up close and was sick at the thought of them going through that because of something foolish their mother did. So he prayed over it and decided to take the fall for her. He told the police that the crime was his doing. He plead guilty to an offense he did not commit for the sake of her and her children.

Guess what happened next? Well, I met the woman involved and she had stayed out of legal trouble and was grateful for what this man had done for her. So that was good. And he got involved in a ministry helping people coming out of prison put themselves on the straight an narrow. Which was good. But really, the decision to do something heroic for someone else destroyed this man’s life.

He lost his business, of course. His reputation was trash. Twice he was run out of towns where he tried to restart his business after people found out about his criminal record. He had a hard time even getting employees because all it took was a google search to turn up his past. People would leave reviews for his business online warning others to stay away from this sick criminal, complete with links to the state’s database of criminal records. A couple of individuals took it upon themselves to stalk and harass him to the point of having to get the police involved.

He told me privately that if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn’t have protected his employee. The price had been unbearably high and had negatively affected many other people he cared about. He took some comfort in helping others, but the truth was that all the good which had come out of his action benefited others at his expense. Perhaps there was a great reward for him in the afterlife, but he had to get through the rest of this life first.

This man’s story is pretty extreme, but it illustrates an uncomfortable fact about following Jesus and/or going above and beyond to do the right thing. You see, we all want to think that when we stick our necks out to do something good, the heavens should break open for us and blessings, rewards and praise should shower down upon us. But the truth is that it’s more likely that the world will crush you instead. Continue reading “When the Cost is Too High”

Did God Really Demand the Death of His Son as a Sacrifice for Sin?

As you are perhaps aware, today is Good Friday, and as I said yesterday, I’m more interested in looking to Easter Sunday than in thinking too deeply about the crucifixion this year. But I thought this would be a good time to share my take on the why’s of the cross. Why did Jesus die? Why did that result in the forgiveness of sins? etc. . . 

One of the more poignant arguments against Christianity is that the Christian God demanded that his son be offered up as a human blood sacrifice in order for justice to be satisfied and forgiveness offered. In this view the Christian God is an angry, blood thirsty tyrant who must be sated before he becomes a loving father. Christians will of course argue that people who view the crucifixion this way are missing the point, don’t understand God’s righteous anger, are minimizing the need for justice, etc. However, I think that the real truth is that many Christians misunderstand the reasons for the crucifixion and our critics are simply making some pretty obvious observations about our own teachings regarding the propitiation of sins and the death of Jesus. I know that I’m treading on some pretty hallowed theological ground here, but if you’ll stick with me, I think you may find that my upside down world understanding of this issue is a better fit with reality than what many of us have been taught.

Let’s start our discussion with the issue of blood sacrifice itself. The first thing to be noted is that blood sacrifice is not something which originated with the Hebrew God. It had been practiced for millennia prior and has occurred all over the world. It is a human invention. In his excellent book Ideas That Changed the World, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto offers the anthropological explanation for the pervasiveness of the practice of blood or animal sacrifice:

Gifts are a common way of establishing reciprocity and cementing relationships between individuals and human groups; by extension, a gift should also work to bind gods and spirits to the human givers, connecting deities to the profane world and alerting them to its needs and concerns. . . During the last 10 millennia . . . sacrifice has acquired a great many meanings: as penance for sin; as thanksgiving; as homage to divinity; as a contribution to the well-being of the Universe; or as a sacrilized gift, considered as an act of worship or of imitation of God.

One of the things which we need to understand about God as revealed in scriptures is that over and over again, God does not wait for us to become acceptable or advanced enough to establish a relationship with him. Instead, he reaches out to meet us where we are and bit by bit draws us forward towards him and away from our previous ideas and ways of doing things. The rituals of animal sacrifices did not reflect a need or demand of God. Instead, by instituting rituals of animal sacrifice God is co-opting a human institution and way of doing things and directing it back to himself with the ultimate result that the human institution drops away while the devotion to God remains. Continue reading “Did God Really Demand the Death of His Son as a Sacrifice for Sin?”

What Jesus and Paul Left Out

Let’s do some bible study, shall we? I look to do that sort of thing around here, donchano. Today I want to show you something kind of amazing about how both Jesus and Paul used scripture. And if we’re honest, it doesn’t fit with either liberal or conservative preferences for how to use scripture.

First, let’s look at these quotes from the Old Testament:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God.

~ Isaiah 61:1-2

Rejoice, you nations, with his people,
    for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
he will take vengeance on his enemies
    and make atonement for his land and people.

~Deuteronomy 32:43

Continue reading “What Jesus and Paul Left Out”