John Muir

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Liberty

Trump is giving the graduation address at Liberty University, which claims to be the largest Christian college.

Are those who accommodate, accept or ignore evil any better than the evil doer? I don’t think so.

Trump is a liar, an adultery, a bigot, a racist, a misogynist and everything Jesus was against.

To accept Trump is to reject everything Jesus taught and everything the Jewish prophets proclaimed.

There are millions of Christians who follow Jesus and reject this worldly, twisted idea of Christianity.

We must be more vocal in our support of Jesus and repudiate the false teachings of those who claim to be Christian while they embrace hate.

 

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Embracing evil

When some Christians talk about Jesus, they are simply wrong. Their politics are more important than the actual teaching of Jesus, and so they’ve twisted Jesus into something that’s not in the Bible and clearly not the message of Jesus.

Such is the case of the people around Trump.

http://time.com/4766485/national-day-prayer-white-house-dinner/

“Most of Trump’s evangelical advisory board flew in for the event, including Trump’s longtime spiritual advisor Paula White, Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, evangelist Franklin Graham, Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, South Carolina televangelist Mark Burns, Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed, and others. They were joined by top White House officials, including Vice President Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon.

“Guests at Trump’s table included White, Jeffress and Marcus Lamb, CEO of the Christian television network Daystar….

“Acclaimed evangelical musician Steven Curtis Chapman performed his songs “Be Still and Know” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, gave a benediction, and Trump then invited everyone up to the residence for a brief after party, complete with a tour of the Lincoln bedroom and the Truman balcony, before shaking hands again….

“Tomorrow is going to be a really big day, sometime between 11 and 11:30 in the morning, the President will sign an executive order that will administratively repeal the Johnson amendment and repeal the Obamacare restrictions on conscience and religious freedom, and about 90 minutes to two hours later, the House of Representatives will repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood,” Reed says. “That’s about as big a day as the social conservative movement has had in its history.”

Followers of Jesus don’t celebrate poor people losing access to affordable healthcare.

I’m reminded of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The leaders were on the outside, and then when they got inside, they were just as bad as the previous oppressors. Christians should not celebrate with the leaders of society as they strip poor people of their healthcare and discriminate against other religions.

Some Christian leaders today are so intent on power, they have given their loyalty to a lying, bigoted, racist, philandering, adulterous, serial sexual assaulter. And then claim he’s the Godly candidate. By their association, they have befouled themselves and the name of God.

Their version of Christianity is not the message of Jesus.

I can’t make it any more plain.

They are not following Jesus.

This is not of God.

They might be good people. I don’t know. But they are misleading good people.

The president they embrace and the policies they support are anti-Christian and not the teachings of Jesus. They have embraced evil and called it good.

“Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.” ~ Isaiah 5 : 20-21

 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,

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Where is decency?

How long would you permit someone to abuse another, before you step up?

How long would you stay around someone telling racist jokes, before you walk away?

How long do you let a man make derogatory and sexist comments about women, before you say something?

How long would you watch a bully harass and abuse others, before you intercede?

How long do you remain silent when the weak and powerless are attacked and victimized by the powerful?

Why would you associate with racist, sexist, bigoted people?

I’m not talking about politics. I’m asking about common decency.

Where is your decency?

Decent people don’t remain  silent when others lose their rights, their health insurance or their dignity.

Decent Christians don’t choose politics over people.

Decent Christians don’t support politicians who systematically promote policies that hurt the poor or dismantle programs that help the less fortunate.

When did partisan politics replace our decency?

Some want government to reflect a morality of violence, aggression, scarcity, and oppression.

Others want government to reflect a morality that embraces diversity, inclusion, abundance,  justice, and charity for all.

Only one view represents a Biblical, Christian worldview.

When you approve of racism, sexism, bigotry and bullying; if you accept the government limiting the rights of others; if you think taxes should be spent on tools of war and not health care, education, libraries, roads and bridges; then the message of Christ is so foreign that it’s meaningless.

When you approve of racism, sexism, bigotry and bullying; if you accept the government limiting the rights of others; if you think taxes should be spent on tools of war and not health care, education, libraries, roads and bridges; then the message of Christ is so foreign that it's meaningless.

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“President Carter, am I a Christian?”

I love President Carter.

I’ve written about him here:

President Carter

 

and here:

The desire to find peace on Memorial Day

 

and here:

You met a president

 

New York Times reporter Nicolas Kristof had a great e-mail interview with him, concerning Carter’s faith.

Here’s a great highlight, with which I agree.

“I look on the contradictions among the Gospel writers as a sign of authenticity, based on their different life experiences, contacts with Jesus and each other. If the earlier authors of the Bible had been creating an artificial document, they would have eliminated disparities. I try to absorb the essence and meaning of the teachings of Jesus Christ, primarily as explained in the letters written by Paul to the early churches. When there are apparent discrepancies, I make a decision on what to believe, respecting the equal status and rights of all people.”

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In a world of stone

In a world of stone, be a flower.

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United

People yelled as they witnessed a man being assaulted.

Most of us have seen the video of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight.

Video and news story

A very few, as some usually do, blame the victim for not complying with the demands of corporate employees or the men with guns.

We still don’t know all the details.

Witnesses on the flight say they were offered $800, United claims they offered $1,000, to surrender their seats. The fact is, not enough people were willing to vacate the plane so that four United employees could take their seats that day.

The man clearly was not combative during the videos I’ve seen, his body was limp as he was dragged out.

The official police statement claims he fell, and that’s how he ended up bloody. But anyone with eyes can clearly see that’s not what happened.

Inexplicably the man ran back onto the plane, bleeding. According to his lawyer, the victim had a broken nose, lost teeth, a concussion, and trauma none of us would want to experience.

On the video we can hear other passengers yelling in response as he was attacked by armed men and dragged from the plane.

Despite the yells and protests, what we don’t hear on a video is anyone trying to stop the assault. In all the news coverage, I’ve never heard if someone offered to take his place, to give up their seat, so he could remain. People yelled, but they didn’t come to his assistance or defend him.

Instead, what this is, at the end, is more video of another assault where witnesses do nothing.

This is the best comment I’ve seen about the incident:

Someone in authority—pilots, stewards, ground crew—might have realized that this was an assault on a person’s dignity. But no one stopped it. Why not? Not because they are bad people: They too probably looked on in horror. But because they have been conditioned to follow the rules.

Those rules said: First, we may sometimes overbook because we want to maximize our profits. Second, we can eject someone because we have overbooked, or if we decide that we want those seats back, no matter what a person can reasonably expect, and no matter how much of an inconvenience this is. And third, and most tragically, human dignity will not get in the way of the rules. A toxic cocktail of capitalism and corporate culture led to a man being dragged along the floor. (Read the article, here.)

And people did nothing. No, they yelled, as the man was assaulted. It easily could have been anyone else on the plane. The man with the gun who committed assault has been suspended, but not identified or investigated as quickly as the victim.

Also in the news at the same time, video of a police officer slamming a 22 year old female college student to the ground.

(Google “police slam student,” and see how many times it’s happened in the past few years. Men with guns throwing people, usually much smaller, teenage females, to the ground.)

When did the USA become a society that responds this way? How did people in authority begin escalating nonviolent confrontations and respond with violence? Can you imagine how bad it was, before everyone carried a camera?

When did it become acceptable for people to stand by and only yell when they witness abuses of power and of unarmed young women?

The distance between outrage and action is immense, filled with the prospect of personal discomfort. That gap grows wider every time the rights and dignity of others is assaulted and witnesses do nothing.

Safely removed by distance and time, people are boycotting the airline. Given the CEO’s horrible response to the incident, a boycott is more than justified. But the issue isn’t a single airline. It’s a systemic acceptance of violence. A failure of character and training among men with guns. A cultural acceptance of violent responses to non-violent situations.

But at least they yelled.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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April 12, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.  was the original face of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The radical right who annual parrot empty platitudes about King for his birthday would reject him if he were alive today.

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Did Jesus die for our sins?

Did Jesus die for our sins?

That’s a common question the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Jesus took on the sins of the world, suffered and died, so that we might have eternal life.

Right?

This was the point of Jesus, right? To die for our sins?

If that was the point, then Jesus might have mentioned it. But he didn’t. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say he’ll die for our sins.

Jesus said he would die and return. He didn’t say he was taking the sins of the world with him.

That idea is in the Bible, but it came about nearly 50 or 60 years later, and is only in the letters in the New Testament, not in the teaching or actual words of Jesus.

When we consider the teaching, death and resurrection in the context of the people at the time, we see a different story.

The purpose of Jesus isn’t his death on the cross. The purpose of Jesus is the empty tomb.

Anyone can die; everyone will. But only the son of God can overcome death and live again.

When we look at scripture from the perspective of the people who lived with Jesus, from the perspective of those who witnessed him after he died and came back to life, the Gospel of John explains the importance of the resurrection, and doesn’t mention Jesus dying for our sins.

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” ~ John 20:30-31

Jesus died and was resurrected to prove he was who he said he was — the son of God. He was executed and came back to life. And then people saw him.

A person named Celopas, along with someone else, encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

People ate with the resurrected Christ, multiple times.

Photo from the Lumo Project

Jesus talked with a lot of people.

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” ~ Luke 24:45-49

The account in the Gospel of Luke mentions repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But as it’s written, it can easily mean repenting because you’ve been forgiven. Not insisting you repent, before you’re forgiven. But more important, it doesn’t mention Jesus sacrificing for our sins, it says the disciples witnessed the risen Christ.

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matt 24:16-20

That might have been a good time for Jesus to mention he’d accepted the sins of the world. Instead, he reminded them to do what he had commanded, which was love people.

Jesus didn’t die for our sins, he died to prove who he was. A little more than 2,000 years ago God walked the earth as a human. He was executed by the government and then he came back to life.

The miracle of resurrection was enough to convince me the four different Gospels were true, because of what it said, and because of what happened next.

All of the people who witnessed the resurrected Christ were dramatically, irrevocably changed. Like a new day dawning, they couldn’t return to the way they were if they wanted to. In fact, after Jesus was executed, they did try to return to their old lives, and they were confronted by the resurrected Jesus.

They knew Jesus was from God, of God, and the son of God. They began to earnestly share his message of love, and all that meant.

They began spreading the message of Jesus, and that message had traveled far across the region by the time the letters of the Bible were written, and without any other written documents.

The message was simple and remains simple.

God loves us and wants us to love God and to love others. To prove it, God was born, God died, and God was resurrected.

Thanks be to God.

 

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Be a flower

Be a flower in the life of someone else.

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