Saturday, March 29, 2008

A year gone by.... I found it

Last year, while listening to the Daily Audio Bible, I heard something in Deuteronomy that I had never seen or heard before. This was not something I was unaware of, just something that surprised me on how plainly it was stated. The problem was, when I heard it last year, I forgot to make a mental (or physical note) as to the chapter/verse and was at a loss to find it again.

Yesterday, I heard it again!

The context is Moses writing to Israel, telling them to obey God's laws. We tend to think of Israel as sort of a closed club but that was not the intention. In fact, in spite of the way events usually occured, they were to be evangelists to those around them... A city on the hill... A light to the nations.

Deut 4:5-8 reads:
You must obey these laws and regulations when you arrive in the land you are about to enter and occupy. The LORD my God gave them to me and commanded me to pass them on to you. If you obey them carefully, you will display your wisdom and intelligence to the surrounding nations. When they hear about these laws, they will exclaim, ‘What other nation is as wise and prudent as this!’ For what great nation has a god as near to them as the LORD our God is near to us whenever we call on him? And what great nation has laws and regulations as fair as this body of laws that I am giving you today?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tony Campolo

I don't know what you think of him but I found this video interesting. In it, Tony criticizes American Christians for being seduced by Freud. Our reason for salvation should not be because it makes us happy but because Christ died on the Cross for our sins. You can watch below.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Dancing on Injustice

Today, in church, we sang a song by a band called Delirious? called "Did you feel the mountains tremble".

In the chorus of that song, there is a line that reads:
Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope
Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice.
This brought to mind a story told by Jim Wallis at a talk in June 2007 with Greg Boyd at Bethel University (you can listen here) about politics and faith. In the talk, Wallis relates a story about a discussion he was a part in at Notre Dame.

He relates:
I was at Notre Dame during the last election and had a room full Catholic students. They cared about the poor, they cared about Iraq and they cared about abortion. They didn't fit either party framework.

A young woman raised her hand and said, "4000 lives were lost today because of abortion. How can I vote on any other issue than that?"

I let the question hover just to see what might happen. Another student stood up and said, "Fair enough! 9000 people died today because of HIV/AIDS. What about them?"

A third student said "And 30,000 children died today because of needless hunger and poverty!".

And we decided after an hour and a half that there was no consistent ethic of life candidate running in the election. The right and the left have selective moralities.

We, as followers of Christ, are looking forward to a time where these injustices cease. On the other hand, we are commanded to do our best to make those injustices cease before then. Politics won't do it because it is too self serving. The Church has abdicated our responsibilities far too long.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Jesus Christ Superstar

We are quickly approaching Easter. One of the things I associate with Easter is the Broadway play "Jesus Christ Superstar". Why? Because it tells a more modern day story of the crucifiction of Christ from a viewpoint that is not Christian.

I have been thinking about this as I listen to the Gospels being read. As I listen, I hear the people around Christ treating him as a superstar.

Twice we hear about him feeding the crowds, once 5000 men (not counting women and children) and once 4000 men. You hear Christ retreating from the crowds several times. During his entry into Jerusalem, the whole city turned out to welcome him. That seems to fill the definition of superstar.

Why did the church object to to the play? Because it didn't finish the story. It stopped on what we call Good Friday, before Christ was pulled down from the cross. The best, however, was yet to come.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dancing Music

I like songs about dancing, even though I am dancing challenged. Take, for instance, this old Celtic hymn it is typically sung to the tune of "Simple Gifts":
I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

JackPot !!!

A little over a year ago, I remember writing this, dreaming about winning that elusive lottery jackpot and believing, at least in my own head, that I would give most away. I was also wondering if the reason that that doesn't happen is that God knows my heart.

I may have a different (and less condemning) reason. While I was listening to the Bible being read yesterday, I heard Leviticus 22-23 and heard this in 22:17-20...

And the Lord said to Moses, “Give Aaron and his sons and all the Israelites these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.

“If you present a gift as a burnt offering to the Lord, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, you will be accepted only if your offering is a male animal with no defects. It may be a bull, a ram, or a male goat. Do not present an animal with defects, because the Lord will not accept it on your behalf."

As much as some of us hate to admit it, lottery winnings are a "male animal with defects". It is money I would not have earned by working for it and, if it were considered a "gift", it was not worked for, it was gained under somewhat dubious pretenses. As of today, the Powerball jackpot is 153 million. That much money could do a lot of good but is, I believe, not a sacrifice that the Lord would want.