Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dear Christian: Why Do You Fear Muslims?

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" Matthew 5:44
"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Luke 6:35

I think many Christians have lost the plot. I've seen posts from people who have been faithful believers for decades, who have seemingly forgotten a few things:

1. Fear of other humans has no place in the Christian life. Isaiah 35:4, 41:10; Psalm 56:4; Proverbs 29:25; Matthew 10:29; Romans 8:15; Hebrews 13:6

2. We are to "fear" God (i.e., respect). Too many verses to cite; just take a look at "fear" in any concordance.

3. "Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31

There are no conditions. Jesus did not say "Love thy neighbor unless he is Muslim," "Love thy neighbor unless you're afraid of him."

4. Quite the contrary. See the above commandment from our Lord in Matthew 5:44. Could it be any clearer?

Our Lord conquered death. We participate in His resurrection, and are guaranteed a place in heaven for eternity. So what if a Muslim terrorist kills us?

We are commanded to love our enemies. We are commanded to show unconditional kindness, to reflect His generous love. What room is there in these commandments to refuse to help refugees? What room is there to fear them?

My dear brothers and sisters, if you fear death enough to refuse to help those in need ... you have missed the point.

Search the Scriptures. Read what Jesus said. And don't let anyone pull you away from the simple truth of our faith: God is love.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Five years ago, I wrote a post about Samhain and Halloween and my personal experiences. Isn't it interesting how things change over time?

Samhain, as I've said before and you probably know, is the night when the ancient Celts celebrated New Year. My ancestors observed a New Year celebration the night before my birthday, so it's easy for me to appropriate that and use Samhain as a time of personal prayer and contemplation, reviewing the year gone by and the year ahead.

What's changed for me, though, is that I no longer fear encountering malevolent spirits. Last month, I had an experience with something that tried to get into my body, and although it was a bit unnerving, I wasn't frightened. Jesus banished the spirit when I asked Him to, and I haven't been bothered since.

Tonight I will not be able to observe Samhain in my usual fashion, as I am volunteering at the film festival. But wherever you are, however you celebrate Halloween/Reformation Day/Samhain, I pray that the coming year will be overflowing with blessings for you and the ones you love.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Veggies and Rice

I was looking around at my kitchen wondering what to make for dinner. Then I remembered that there are some vegetarians I know, and I've never actually tried to make a one-dish vegetarian meal. I love one-dish meals, so I sorted through the freezer, fridge, and cabinets, and came up with the following. Adjust spice amounts to your own liking:

1 package frozen vegetables of your choice (I used a blend of carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli)
1 can cut green beans, drained
1 jar mushrooms, drained
1 can tomatoes, NOT drained
About 1 tablespoon butter (if you want to make it vegan, use oil of your preference. It's only to keep the veg from burning)
About 2 tablespoons minced garlic
About 1 tablespoon parsley
About 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
About 1 teaspoon dill weed
Salt and ground fresh pepper
About 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups Minute Rice
Walnuts (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter with a little of the garlic. Add the vegetables and heat thoroughly. Grind together parsley, marjoram, and dill, and add to pan along with the rest of the garlic. Add salt and pepper, a little more than you think it will take for the vegetables. Add the lemon juice and heat until the vegetables are fully heated and the liquid is at a rolling boil. Then pour in the broth and heat again. Add in the Minute Rice, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and let sit for a few minutes to let any extra liquid evaporate.

For an extra crunch (because I love the contrasting textures), add some walnuts to each serving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


I was raised to live with an attitude of unconditional love. To look at the world with acceptance. To treat people the way I want to be treated, with grace and compassion. To withhold judgment until I knew all the circumstances.
It’s a bit sobering to realize that I am now modeling these values for the very people who instilled them in me, because society has reached their limits of tolerance and compassion. It's troublesome to look around at my fellow believers and followers of Christ and to see harsh judgment instead of sympathy and empathy. 
Is there a certain age at which we are no longer flexible enough in our minds and hearts to embrace those whose experiences are so very different from our own? 
Is there a moment at which we no longer interpret the commandment to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us to mean that we try to understand a differing point of view rather than flatly labeling it as sin and anathema?
Why are we so quick to judge, when we are commanded not to do so?
Why are we so quick to disapprove of someone else's attempt to live life as authentically as they can, and so quick to assume that that person is somehow not worthy of our respect because they are struggling in a way we cannot understand?
Why do we feel that we have the authority to dismiss another person as unworthy of unconditional love? Why do we feel justified in disgust, anger, and hatred?
Where is Jesus Christ in that? 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why Christians Don't Get to Object to Gay Marriage

I've been thinking about this one for a long time, too. Below are the most common reasons I've heard Christians use to justify their objections, and my objections to those reasons. Please read this seriously and give it some thought. If, after you have thought it through FOR YOURSELF, you still don't agree with me, that's OK. Just make sure you have reasoned and logical reasons, and you're not simply spouting rhetoric you've heard on Christian radio or whatever.

“The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman!”

Really? Let's take a look. Yes, God created Eve for Adam. The Bible does not tell us whether Adam took another wife; however, legend does tell us that Eve may not have been his only wife.

Even if the original plan was one man/one woman, a cursory reading of the Bible tells us that this was hardly ever the case. Abraham was not criticized for taking Hagar to wife; he was criticized for his lack of faith that the promised son would come from Sarah. David was never criticized for having multiple wives, and he was called a man after God's own heart. Solomon was not criticized for his political marriages; he was criticized for permitting them to lead him away from Jehovah. The only comment on the subject in the New Testament is in 1 Timothy, where a pastor must be husband to only one wife.

Using the Bible to object to same-sex marriage mischaracterizes the Bible. The Bible does not define marriage.

“I don't want to support that lifestyle!”

Let's break this one down. You, as a believer in Jesus Christ, don't want to support a lifestyle of sin. (For purposes of this discussion, we will assume that homosexuality is a sin.) So that means that you will also not support the lifestyle of anyone who gets drunk regularly (Ephesians 5:17), anyone who uses profanity regularly (Ephesians 5:4), anyone who exasperates their children (Ephesians 6:4), etc. You get the picture. If you want to say that you cannot support a sinful lifestyle, then you have to reject all sinners, not just the ones who disgust you. And since every one of us is a sinner (Romans 3:23), are you going to reject yourself? No? Then you can't reject anyone else, either.

Let's also remember that many people who identify as homosexual are not Christians (unbelievers). Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, they have no way to do anything other than sin.

And as for the professing Christians who are also homosexual, you have not been appointed their personal Holy Spirit. Their choices are between them and God. Not your business, not mine. Your business and mine is to reflect the grace of Jesus Christ.

“Hate the sin, love the sinner!”

Newsflash: When someone tells you “I love you, but I hate what you're doing,” all you hear is “I hate.” And our God is love. Our Lord invited all to His table. He promises rest to anyone who comes. And He paid the penalty for all sin, so exactly what is it you think you're promoting? Sin has been forgiven. You don't get to judge someone else's sin, not when your Savior has paid the penalty for it.

If you're dealing with an unbeliever, the only issue is what they think of Jesus Christ. Sin is an issue for BELIEVERS, because we're the ones who have temporal consequences of sin – we're the ones for whom 1 John 1:9 is written. Believers have to confess our sins so that fellowship with God is restored. Unbelievers don't have this option. All they can do is accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

“America was founded as a Christian nation! We have to preserve Christian values!”

Let's take a look at history, shall we? Yes, the Puritans came over to escape religious persecution by the Catholic Church and the Church of England. However, the Puritans exhibited the same astonishing lack of grace to anyone who didn't fit their narrow notion of what Christianity should be. And at that time, they considered themselves English colonists.

The move for independence from England was political, not religious. It was spurred by taxation issues and other issues regarding the governance of the colonies.

The group of men generally considered as the Founding Fathers consisted of both Christians and Deists. Some of the Christians were Unitarians rather than Trinitarians, so the idea that there was one religious faith accepted by the Founding Fathers is laughable.

If the argument is that we have a responsibility to preserve the values “on which this country was founded,” then we logically should still practice slavery, be anti-mixed marriage, and women should not have the right to vote. Those were values of society at that time. Picking and choosing societal values from history is never intellectually honest.

Besides, as pointed out above, the Bible does not define marriage as one man/one woman, so which version of those values are we espousing? Polygamy? Child marriage? 

The only intellectually honest objection to gay marriage is “It's icky!” And if you're disgusted by the thought of sex between two men or two women, that's OK. You can be disgusted. But you cannot use that disgust to deny them the benefits of marriage, which is, after all, a civil institution. Marriage is defined by the culture in which you live (just think of the differences in what is required to be married under traditional Christian rules, traditional Jewish rules, traditional Hindu rules, and traditional secular rules. It's all marriage.). And one thing that is very clear is that Christians are to live in the society where they find themselves (Romans 13:1).

Monday, May 25, 2015

My Issues with Contemporary Christianity

If you've been paying attention (and really, why should you? You have your own life.), you might have noticed that I have been not particularly happy with the way current Christianity is going. This morning, I mentally compiled a list of Things I Need to Know, and since my memory is currently reminiscent of Swiss cheese, I need to write it down. So lucky you, you get to see it, too:

1. I need to know why some passages are interpreted in their historical context and some are not. For example, "women keep silent in church" was a direct admonition to a group of women making trouble in one particular church, but it is used as a sledgehammer today.

2. I need to know why "I do not suffer a woman to teach a man" is anything other than Paul's personal preference, and why it means that a woman cannot have any position of leadership in a church. I need to know why it trumps "there is neither male nor female in Christ," too.

3. I need to know why we have elevated marriage and family to be the best way for Christians to honor God (and correspondingly, treating single adults, especially women, like pariahs in the local assembly) when Paul himself said that being single is better, and marriage is best only to avoid sin. See above re: not distinguishing between Paul's personal opinion and God's Word.

4. I need to know why we have put the onus of avoiding being molested on our girl children instead of teaching our sons to control their damn selves.

5. I need to know why we feel the need to use "I don't want to support that lifestyle" as an excuse to push people away from the love of Jesus Christ. I need to know why our discomfort with certain sin patterns trumps "Come to me, ALL who are heavy-laden." I need to know how "You are the light of the world" means that we get to decide who is worthy of our reflection of our Lord and who is not. I need to know how we expect our children to be the salt and light of the world if the world never sees them.

This list may be expanded later.