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Unity & Equality

“Jesus breaks down divisions between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, and male and female. He brings unity and equality among us all”[1]

During this time away from blogging one of the things I have really been examining were roles in the church. What balance or imbalance in authority, rights, and power exist in different churches or denominations? I entered this examination fully aware and understanding I would not reach a definite conclusion at the end of it. Here are some of my shorter thoughts that over time I intend to expound on.

Jew and Gentile. When I spent time looking at this I focused more on how can we reduce cultural divisions in the church. Why do we have all white or all black churches in this day and age? Is there a way to blend these churches? When I read the New Testament I see the authors very intentionally dealing with the cultural differences with the goal of unity. Do we really try to establish unity or use our cultural differences as barriers to keep others out?

Slave and Free. When I look at “slave and free” I include “poor and rich.” There is much work being done in the church to bring attention to the modern day slave trade and human trafficking. But where is the same level of support for issues such as minimum wage increase and truly affordable health care? Do our churches encourage the rich in our churches to care for the poor?

Male and Female. This seems to be one were I spent the most time. But I did a great deal of searching about women and leadership in the church. Why not have women in leadership in the church? How do our church teachings about men and women and their roles influence domestic violence? Why are we so afraid to openly talk about these issues and examine them in our churches?

But Love’s last statement, “He brings unity and equality among us all”[2] should be our driving motive as we work in these areas. It should haunt us if we are shortchanging the work of Jesus in these areas. So, over the next several weeks I will be addressing some of the issues I have explored.

[1] Rick Love. Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations and Communities. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2014). 34

[2] Love, 34

Arriving, Rediscovering, and Recovering

With these few months off I have been learning, discovering, stretching, mourning, and celebrating. My life is the same and at the same time radically different. New hopes and new concerns. I am not sure of the future, but I am also still looking at the past. There have been rough and good times.

But it is time to reappear. To break out of this time and say to the world “hello again!” And the song that drove this in my mind was “Hello World” by Lady Antebellum. Take time to watch this video and say hello again.

Creativity in Conflict

We are at conflict with another terrorist organization again. Imagine that! Despite all the promises to reduce conflict, the current administration has led us into another precarious conflict. Is this conflict just and necessary? Who knows – and I do not intent to discuss that here.

Instead, I am going to discuss the lack of creativity in our international conflicts. It seems that bombers and drones are the reflexive answer to every heinous act perpetrated by any organization that can be considered a terrorist organization. Someone I know put it this way, “sometimes when you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.”

What are other options for our nation as we deal with the terrorists of the world? Could we withdraw from the Middle East and protect our homeland better? If we were no longer in the Middle East they cannot make that their reason to attack us. In turn, we would protect our homeland and shore up our national borders. We would be better protected here. Then if they attacked us here we could honestly say it was unprovoked because we were just sitting at home protecting ourselves.

This is just one idea off the top of my head. Get some people together and really examine the possibilities. But don’t just get military generals and politicians. Get the philosopher and the theologian, the teacher and the scientist. Get the homemaker and the undertaker, the veteran and protestor. Get diverse. Think diverse. Only then may we come up with a lasting, creative, and bold solution to this cycle of madness.

Book Review – A Thousand Deer

As deer season in Texas approached, I was searching for a book to get me in that deer-hunting frame of mind. So, as I was searching a local owned bookstore and came across A Thousand Deer[1] by Texas author Rick Bass. I bought it as set down to start turning the pages.

This book is a meandering account of Bass’s life experiences in the woods with various family members. While I appreciate his account, it did not work for me. As a matter of fact, I only made it halfway through the book before setting it down for good.

Why did it not work for me? Bass, while an excellent wordsmith, tended to meander through his story at a leisurely pace that allowed me to drift away from the story. Once I drift from the story, I find it difficult to return. Another issue I had with this book was the hunting stories early in the book were not featured in a prominent manner. I purchased this book to read hunting stories and build excitement for the coming hunting season.

After all of this you would think I would tell you to save your money. But I will not. Everyone’s hunting experiences and memories differ to such a great degree. For some readers, this will be the perfect book for them. There will be others, like me, who find this too slow to really capture what we are looking for. I would recommend that before you take this book home, take a few minutes and skim some chapters and see if this really meets your expectations.

[1] Richard Bass. A Thousand Deer. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2012).

I’m Back!

I am back! I have been busy writing over the weekend and have some posts scheduled for this week and next. I would like to thank each of you for your patience and I look forward to interacting with you in the future.

Veterans Behind Bars – The Texas Tribune

Here is an excellent article and video from the Texas Tribune.

———-

Video: Program Unites Veterans Behind Bars
by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn, The Texas Tribune
September 9, 2014

They served their country, then ended up on the wrong side of the law. But many of Texas’ veterans serving time behind bars are getting the guidance to stay out of the legal system upon their release, thanks to a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice program.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/09/video/.

A Quote for Today

I came across this in my morning devotional reading today. It seems fit to run without any extra commentary.

———

HEAR THE GOSPEL

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We have no more time for solemn church festivals in which we present ourselves to ourselves.

Let us not celebrate the Reformation this way anymore!

Let the late Luther finally have his rest.

Hear the Gospel.

Read his Bible, and listen there to the very word of God.

Coming soon . . .

I would to thank everyone for patiently waiting for a new post. I know it has been a slow stretch recently but the drought will break on September 1 as I return to regular blogging.

Mark Hall on “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”

Yesterday, I went on a short rant about how the church treats strangers. Well, I found a video of Mark Hall explaining the song from yesterdays post. Take a few minutes and hear what he has to say. Then ask yourself, what are you teaching others about your beliefs?

Mark Hall’s story about “Jesus, Friends of Sinners.”

Friend of Sinners

Last Friday, I wrote about Love. Today, I am still chasing that very same theme. Church can be a weird place. It can be one of the most judgmental places on earth where each person is measuring up everyone else to see if they are worthy of bring there. They remember others sins better than they remember their own. Then there are other churches where love is all they know to do. You can feel welcomed and cared for there. You can feel safe there.

For those who are angry at the church because all you have gotten from the church is pain and sorrow, don’t stop searching. This is not what the real church is supposed to be. Run from those churches and search for one which will be a safe shelter in this storm we call life. They are out there. There ARE churches who are counting on the Grace of God because they are more worried about caring for you than being correct all the time.

Here is a song that reminds me of how we are to be. Listen to Casting Crowns sing, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.”

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