Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Out of the Depths - Sinead O'Connor

And I've heard religion say you're to be feared 
But I don't buy into everything I hear
And it seems to me you're hostage to those rules
That were made by religion and not by you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Raising Children Un-Fundamentalist When the Damage is Already Done? Cindy Brandt

Recommended blog series: Raising Children Un-Fundamentalist

For parents who were raised in bad religion but want to raise children of faith. 

"No" to Wrath and "Yes" to Love - Part 2 - Greg Albrecht

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."—Matthew 5:38-45
The first thing we must note after reading this passage is that such behavior is humanly impossible. No mere mortal can perfectly behave as Jesus was teaching—but that is just his point! In the face of the overbearing legalism of his day, Jesus was saying that religious demands to become righteous and attempts to produce righteousness fell far short of the goal of perfection. In this part of the Sermon on the Mount he responded to performance-based religion, and effectively said: "OK—you want to be righteous? Then here's what you will need to do."

This radical and extreme, humanly impossible to produce standard of righteousness he proclaimed is his way of explaining that authentic Christianity can only be given to mere mortals through the new life God grants us, by his grace. This impossible-for-humans-to-produce righteousness is produced in and through us when the risen Lord Jesus lives within us. Having said that, as we read this passage it's obvious that Jesus is teaching us that those who are his followers, those in whom he lives his risen life, those who are transformed from sin and death to love and life, will not seek retribution. 

"No" to Wrath and "Yes" to Love - Part 1 - Greg Albrecht

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the power of God…—1 Corinthians 1:18
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.—1 Corinthians 2:2
Many, if not most, Christians when they are asked, "Why did Jesus die on the cross?" will give an answer something like this:
To die for our sins. This of course, as far as it goes, is a biblical answer. 
But the answer doesn't end there. Most Christians will continue to explain why Jesus died on the cross by parroting back phrases they have been taught, such as: 

• "He died for our sins so we wouldn't have to"
• "He took our place"
• He "substituted for us." 

So a more complete answer many give often sounds something like this: 

• "Jesus died for our sins—he saved us from the penalty we would have had to pay—he saved us from an eternal torture of hell, because that is surely where God would have sent us if Jesus didn't die for our sins." 

So many, if not most, Christians start with the simple biblically based answer, Jesus died for our sins, and then add many additional ideas and thoughts that are far more religious in origin than they are biblical. For instance, many have been taught that the "wrath of God" was the reason why the cross was necessary. God was angry and upset— someone had to pay for the evil of sin. 

Pope Francis: Lincoln, King, Day, Merton - Brian Zahnd

21493632390_7678830042_zPope Francis building his prophetic address to Congress around four Americans — Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton — was brilliant. Here were some of my favorite moments from the Pope’s speech.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.

But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.

We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. … We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12). This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.

CLICK HERE to continue

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Severe Stress in Shemitah September 2015 - Greg Albrecht

I almost missed it! Sure, I knew that the world is a huge mess. There's Putin and Iran and China and a myriad of fears fueled by fear mongers. There's massive uncertainty about the roller coaster ride of the stock market! And, I don't mean to be trite, but as all Chicago Cubs (an American Major League baseball team) fans know, there's also the fact that this current Cubs team has a good chance of breaking "the curse of the goat" by making it to the World Series – their first since 1945.

During the last week or two of August a few people asked me about Shemitah. I knew about the goat curse of the Cubs but here I am, a Christian minister, and I had no idea about Shemitah, so I had to look it up. Before I looked it up, silly me, I would have believed you if you told me that Shemitah was a new electric car or another new raw fish craze, like sushi. But then, finding out Shemitah was now presumed to be another "sign of the end" I had a few more conversations with people who were 1) really worried about all of the doomsday predictions for September 2015 and 2) others were really worried that their family and friends were buying up freeze dried food and moving to the middle of Kansas to get ready for Shemitah.

Shemitah refers to an old covenant mandated cycle I am well aware of, but until now, not by that name. According to the old covenant, Shemitah is a seven year land rest for the land, and "at the end of every seven years you must cancel debts" (Deuteronomy 15:1). The last day of the Shemitah this year is September 13.

According to the current doomsday prophecies and their prognosticators, since September 13 is on a Sunday, then either Friday, September 11 or Monday, September 14, the U.S. stock market will crash. But I don't get it – they are all saying the Dow Jones will crash. But the United States is in massive debt to the Chinese. So, wouldn't it be just as logical to predict that President Obama will sign another executive order, and declare that the entire United States will now live by the stipulations of the old covenant? That would be convenient, wouldn't it? Then, wouldn't it make sense that Obama would then inform President Xi Jinping that because of Shemitah the United States has no debts to China whatsoever. Won't the Shanghai markets crash and won't the Dow Jones soar?

According to the end times marching and chowder society, September 15 will be another cataclysmic day, because again, according to the old covenant, September 15 begins the Jubilee Year. The Jubilee Year, explained in the 25th chapter of Leviticus, follows a cycle of seven Shemitahs – seven cycles of seven years. Among other stipulations, because land cannot be sold permanently (Leviticus 25:25) all those whose real property was taken or sold during the previous 50 years may now return to their property (Leviticus 25:13).
Okay, we're not done yet – but just a question. The vast majority of those predicting end-of-the-world upheavals are doing so in the name of Jesus, but all their predictions are based on the law of Moses. So how does that work exactly? Where is Jesus in all of this lunacy?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

W. Paul Young - Saying Yes or No to God (CWR Video)

The fall issue of CWR VIDEO is available HERE with thoughts by Paul Young, Brad Jersak, Greg Albrecht, Laura Robinson, Steve McVey, Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, Brian Zahnd, Russ Hewett, Ashley Collishaw, Peter Helms, Ed Dunn and Dale Viljoen. For a sample, here's Paul Young.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

When God Disagrees With Scripture - Andre Rabe

How often have you found yourself drifting away while listening to a monologue?
When the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy says that Scripture has one divine author and that it is wholly and verbally God-given, without error or fault in everything it states … it basically tells us to shut up and listen. There is no room for dialogue here.
However, so many who have bought into this approach to scripture have found themselves drifting away amidst the continual drone of a monologue that does not involve them.
God delights in conversation. He wants to hear what you have to say. In fact David tells us of a God so intrigued by us that he knows our thoughts from afar. He even observes with interest our sitting down and standing up. It is almost as if he is in love! (And you are welcome to replace the ‘he’ with a ‘she’.)
Not only does God delight in direct conversation with us, he gives us ample room for conversation with one another. For God is not simply interested in making us understand him, but in helping us understand ourselves. And so the scriptures are full of such conversations … dialogues that often reveals more about us, than what they do about God.
For instance in Job 42:7 God enters a conversation that has been going on for more than forty chapters already. Speaking to Eliphaz, God says that he is angry for “…you have not spoken of Me what is right…
So here we have a scripture in which God disagrees with what was said about him in scripture!
According to this scripture, God Himself does not agree with everything in scripture.