Bigotry in Prayer

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I’ve noticed how many “Christians” in our prayers are really “bigots” is some sort of disguise of piety.

We say that God loves us to the very core of our being, but I often hear, “If only they would change…”

We say stuff like, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” (Typically referring to QLGBT persons.) Still indicating that a person who sins isn’t good enough.

We even pray for our Jewish, Muslim, Hindi, Buddhist, etc. brothers and sisters because they have denied Christ. That sounds more than a little presumptuous and over the top.

So, churches, leaders, pastors wonder why people are turned off by “Christians”; maybe its because Christians still make it an “us” and “them” thing – not a “we” thing.

Jesus tells us to pray in secret to the Father who is in secret (Matthew 6:6). Maybe Jesus knew what he was talking about. I don’t think that Jesus intended for his followers to be exclusive bigots – pretty sure Jesus was about inclusivity and love.

Is it possible that we have contorted Jesus’ rule of love, and instruction on prayer to a point where he is embarrassed about how his followers act?

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Denying Grace

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Is it possible to deny grace?
I’m afraid that it is all too easy – in fact I don’t think we even know it when we do it.
Case in point. I went to get a bus pass this evening at a local grocery store. I arrived at 7:05pm (5 minutes after the service desk had closed) and went to a checker to see if I could get a pass. I was told that the service desk was closed and could not get one – he did tell me to “Have a good night.” As I was leaving the woman who was ahead of me in line heard what occurred. She told me that before she had started shopping she had purchased two passes for her child, and would I want to buy one of hers from her. I told her that I would pick one up somewhere else, but that I really appreciated the offer.
As I drove to the next place for the pass, I realized that this woman was offering me grace and I had turned it down. She did not need to offer this bus pass, but she did.
So, how often do we deny grace in our lives?
Because of pride or any other reason for that matter.
How cool would it be if we saw grace for what it is – something spectacular that we don’t expect to happen but it does anyway.

Delicacy of Sin

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It occurs to me that in many cases we have been tricked when it comes to thinking about sin (missing the mark that God intends for us.) Generally speaking I think that sin is seen as big, dirty, sneaky, insidious, and destructive to ourselves an those around us due to their sheer magnitude.
I wonder if sins can be seen as delicate, potentially even beautiful – yet covering who we really are, and thus not allowing God to shine through us.
As I look outside this morning, the trees look beautiful. There is no wind to speak of, and in the night we had a snow fall. The tree branches are stacked with snow. Precarious and beautiful, even delicate, but weighing down the essence of the tree. If I wait long enough, small breezes (breath of God) come and blow bits of snow to the ground. The branches clear, and lift, almost as if reaching in thanks to God.
I wonder what seemingly beautiful, delicate parts of our lives are weighing us down; hiding our essence from the world around us, as well as God. God’s breath is cleansing, and can release us from even the delicate sins in our lives (especially the ones we like to have around us to make us look nicer to the world around us.) When these delicate sins are lifted, we can, again lift our thanks and praise to God.
Consider the delicate sins of your life. Ask God to remove them. Experience the freedom of a weight removed, and give thanks to God.

Martin Luther & Business

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Martin Luther was concerned with business practices insofar as what was done with profits (this is very simplified).

Luther understood that one could make enough money to support their household, and the remaining monies should be distributed to those who are in greatest need. He saw this as “love thy neighbor.”

Can you imagine how different our national and world economy would look if we practiced this theology of business?

What if we really took this “love thy neighbor” gig seriously? How would your life change? How would the church change? How would business change?

Reading Scripture

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In an adult learning time on Sunday we watched a video by Francis Chan called “Teaching”, and began a discussion about reading Scripture. The discussion was fabulous. Questions like, “What if what I’m reading doesn’t mean anything to my life?” “Is there a book that actually has just what God said, and not all the extra ‘man made’ stuff?” “What does it take to ‘crave’ reading Scripture?”

I would add some additional questions: “Where else do we experience the Word of God?” “How can we help to make Scripture relevant to ourselves as well as others?” “What is God saying in our world today?” And perhaps the real question that underlies the skepticism of many people, “How can a 2000 year old book make a difference in my life today?”

Comfort Food

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Here’s the overarching generalization (I know it is so don’t crucify me for it): comfort food not only makes us “feel good” but it also makes us like a sloth.

Most of the comfort foods that I readily dive into are carb based. Give me a plate of thin spaghetti, butter and parmesan cheese and I can go into a carb coma. Or a triple helping of mashed potatoes, I become a sloth right at the table (assuming I’m eating there – sometimes I just go to the couch before eating, knowing that I will be asleep soon). Blue Box mac-n-cheese (again don’t hassle me for it), not shared with anyone, but completely consumed = sloth.

God’s Word in Scripture has often been referred to as nourishment or food for our souls. And I believe that many times we (again generally speaking) would rather stick with the comfortable passages and not get to the meat of things.
We like:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”
Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd…”
1 Corinthians 13 “The greatest of these is love.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with these passages in Scripture, but when we only “consume” them in our spiritual lives, we get lazy in our path with Jesus. When we, often as a group, struggle with difficult passages in Scripture it’s like eating a healthy, balanced diet that keeps us strong and growing in our faith.

For comments I’d really like to hear about passages in Scripture that you have had struggles with, or are currently struggling with, the feelings you have from the Scriptures, and what it means for you to lead a healthy, balanced spiritual life without falling into the easiness of “comfort food” and “slothfulness.”

Approval – Why?…

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I was at a bowling tournament this weekend. Knowing most of the kids there was cool, but seeing the difference in how they acted somewhat perplexed me.

On any given, normal league Saturday, these kids go and bowl their hearts out. They have fun, and tend to do make their average on a regular basis (hence average).
This weekend was different. Granted, we were in a couple of different alley’s, and it was the State Tournament, but there was still something amiss. Nearly every kid, after every ball they threw looked into the adult faces, searching for “their adult” to be affirmed. This doesn’t happen on a “regular” Saturday. The kids could give a rip about what we think, and they even get pissed when we try to affirm them and their play.

I’ve noticed that in my own life too. Maybe you have.
Most of the time affirmations aren’t at the top of my need’s list. But there are definitely times when I want to know that I am doing something right, or well, or needed.

So what is it that changes? Why do you sometimes need affirmation, and other times not so much?

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