Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's Next

All through life we move from one stage to another and not always by choice. We start of as infants with almost no choice except to cry when were not happy. The early stages of life are exciting choices around growth and change. Our parents guide us as we go through school and our teen years.

Then it happens - life! As I turned 18 I was faced with the "What is next?" question. What do I do now? How do I do what I want to do? Because of some family issues I choose to Join the Navy and for the next six years the navy made all my choices. Then life changed and I once again had some choices to make.

Where do I live? What kind of career do I choose? I felt the urges to love some one else and that brought on other changes and children. Talk about choices changing your life! When you are responsible for a new life the question of what is next is not always your choice. I am still responsible.

What is next comes at retirement and a set of different choices and then things to choose from is not always good stuff, just necessary stuff. Here we are again asking, "What's Next?"

Monday, August 24, 2015

When Christian Leaders Fail Us

It was all over the news that a priest of a church near my home had abused his position as pastor of the church. He had a lot of child porn on his personal computer including inappropriate pictures of the congregations children. He was a much loved pastor but is now reviled. In this age of awareness how did he think to get away with doing that? His church has changed from covering up for priest to exposing their evil actions.

Human beings often fail to live up to their most important ideals. The failure to realize ideals is often a mixture of apathy, baseness, cynicism, self-interest and ego. Even in our increasingly secular culture there is a conscious desire for people to find a spiritual dimension to their lives. Early Christians were first called the “People of the Way.” Christians are in essence members of a community of faith who follow a definite and certain path of the way of Jesus the Messiah. Church traditions sadly sometimes confuse the issues of following the way of Christ faithfully.

We say amen when something we see or hear confirms our own impression. We also become agitated or furious when something we hear is out of kilter with our personal beliefs. What are the truly basic beliefs of the Christian faith? There is a sense of beauty in the ideals of the total commitment and submission to God, the ideal Christian community, justice and peace.

It is sad that these same ideas are frequently corrupted to justify and legitimize the authoritarian and even brutal actions of people who contend that they are right. We must not confuse the ideal of the Christian faith with its misuse and abuse by people with political or power issues. This problem is not unique to Christianity as other religions are also hurt by mean spirited, power hungry; ego centric people who miss apply the tenets of our faith to their own perverted needs.

We as individual Christians must focus on what the Gospels teach us and seek to truly be people of the way of Jesus. We are each capable of focusing our lives on the teachings of Jesus first and saying AMEN to following those teachings. The way of Jesus was never easy for Jesus calls us to a different way of living than the way of the world. Say amen [ may it be so] and be a follower of the Way of Jesus.

I pray for the healing of that congregation as they deal with the results of a leader who was all too human and failed to live up to even his own Christian ideals. He is now under arrest and will face time in prison where his fellow inmates will not take kindly to his actions.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Interesting Scripture Translations

One of the many things I enjoy about reading Biblical Archaeology Review is some authors come up with a new way to translate a word in the Bible. When I studied New Testament Greek and Hebrew I discovered that English translations leave a lot of room for opinions. Language scholars can come up with a variety of ways to translate one word. How a word is translated can make a significant difference.

So it is with the September/October issue of BAR An author questions what really happened in the garden of Eden when Eve was created. She states that the Hebrew word "tsela" in the context of the story does not mean rib as it is usually translated into English. Adam did not give up his rib for Eve to be created but his "baculum" and I will let you look that up.

Part of her argument is that human males still have an equal number of ribs but they do not have a baculum. Just because a male looses a rib in one generation does not mean that succeeding generations will not have that rib as DNA will still create equal ribs. I got a good laugh out of the article and yet she may be correct but it makes no difference to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Nation of Immigrants

For most of its existence North America did not have humans wandering over the land. Then about fifteen thousand years ago Asians came across the Bering land bridge into what is now Alaska and became the first immigrants into this land. From time to time since then other people from almost every where made it to these shores.

All of us are either descendants of immigrants or are immigrants ourselves. Each group of people have added to the mix that makes us Americans. What a mix it is! We have inter-married or have created babies in such a way that we share a lot of different DNA. This has been a good thing and has proven that there is only one race, the human race.

With this in mind I am amused by the anti-immigration rhetoric going around in this political season. In the American Southwest politicians are calling people from Mexico all kinds of bad names. I remember when we forced a war on Mexico and took their lands the inhabitants were mostly Mexican and native Americans. Anglos were the unwelcome immigrants who didn't bother to learn Spanish.

From the time we founded the USA people have come from all over the world to settle here and help make us what we are. Each new wave of people were met with suspicion and hate. Irish, Italians, Chinese, Poles, Germans and many more met derision and hate from those already established. When ever we act as though the immigrants don't belong here its time to look in the mirror as we are all immigrants.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tough Questions and Answers

Most of us know that if we have questions about faith that we can go to the Bible and find answers. Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find the correct answer but we know that the answers are there for us. The correct answer is not always the answer we want to find but there it is for us to deal with.

Some people are very surprised to discover that the Bible also can confront us with questions that we would rather evade. The Bible is capable of asking the kind of questions that slice through the protective veneer that we build up around us. As along as we evade these questions we remain spiritually immature and weak in faith. Actually facing these super tough questions will make us stronger and more aware of our inner spirit.

Spiritual maturity and strength of faith develop out of the process of personally dealing with the difficult and often painful questions about life and faith. Do not be afraid to consider the hard questions about your faith. It is not being weak to ask any question that bothers us. It is instead the way to become stronger when we confront and struggle with our doubts, confusions, fears and lack of understanding.

Some people are afraid to ask questions about faith thinking that they will be showing doubt or lack of faith. God is not afraid of our questions and we should not be fearful either. For our faith to grow stronger we need to confront both the questions and answers that the Bible presents to us. A growing understanding of our relationship with God is available through constant Bible Study, Prayer and Reflection. Open your mind to the power of of the Holy Spirit to lead you in your quest for understanding.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Christian Sunday Worship

In an email I was asked why Christians call Sunday the Sabbath when clearly it is Saturday in the bible.

In the very early days of the church the followers of Jesus were all Hebrews. As such they followed the tenants of Jewish worship. For the Hebrew people of Jesus day Sabbath began at sundown on Friday and lasted until sundown on Saturday. Most worship was done in the home or synagogue on Saturday.

For Hebrew Disciples of Jesus they would fulfill their worship as Jews on the Saturday Sabbath. Then at dawn on the first day of the week they would gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. At this worship the Gospel was preached, prayers said, new believers baptized and communion celebrated. As Sunday was a work day then they would go off to work.

Later when Gentiles, that is the non-Jews, joined the growing ranks of the Disciples of Christ they would forgo the Hebrew worship and only attend the Sunday gathering at dawn to celebrate the resurrection. As the percentage of gentile Christians increased First Day or “Lord’s Day” worship became the most common form of Christian practice. Later Christians would begin calling Sunday the Sabbath even though that was not strictly true.

Today most Christians, but not all, practice Christian worship on the first day of the week to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. I do every Sunday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

After I Die

I am now in my eighth decade of living on this earth and I know that I am at least half way to the end if not much more. At some point I will breathe my last breath as we all do. I believe that my spirit will return to God and I will not be in the shell that is left behind.

What then?

Recycling has been an important part of my life and in that philosophy I have listed myself as an organ donor for over thirty years. So what ever can be used to enhance the lives of others should be. I have reached an age when not everything is in a condition to be recycled but it can be used for research and that is OK with me.

What ever is left over should be burned and my ashes recycled into the earth to provide new nourishment for plants. If there is something of me that must be buried and forgotten it is my faults and sins. Let them rest!

If I have lived my life in such a way that you wish to remember me you should know that I have believed in paying forward. If I have blessed you remember that and bless others that cross your path. I know that which is really me will live with God forever and the memory of my life will live on in the hearts of those people whom I loved. I am at peace with that!