Crucify Him!

At Good Friday services last week, during the readings, when the congregation said, “Crucify Him,” for the first time in my life I accepted the fact that I too would have been in the crowd shouting those very same words.  For the previous Good Fridays that I was paying attention, I was under the impression that I was just filling in the role as a member of the crowd, but I was not really one of the crowd. I am a heck of a lot better than that.

Well, I finally realized that it is not me and Jesus and other cool people that I like on one side v. everyone else that I don’t really like or find annoying, i.e. the crowd, on the other side.

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Sigh No More – Mumford and Sons

Serve God love me and men
This is not the end
Live unbruised we are friends
And I’m sorry
I’m sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea, one on shore
My heart was never pure
you know me
you know me

And man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing

Love that will not betray you,
dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man
you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
At my heart you see,
The beauty of love
as it was made to be (x4)

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What Good is God? Philip Yancey

“I decided only three things matter ultimately: Whom do I love? How have I lived my life? Am I ready for whatever is next? Like others, I have found meaningful answers to those questions in my Christian faith.”

here.

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Where should the focus be?

I am conservative. To me this primarily means that decision making should be made at the most local level. When an individual has a need or issue, one’s first line of help should be the family. If the family cannot assist, then the neighborhood/community/church should be next in line. After that, one should look to the local government, state, and finally the federal government. When things (governments or corporations) get too large, they tend to disrupt the decision making apparatus. So, small is good. Ideally, that is how it should be, to me. However, I understand that there are millions of people who have no family, or if they do, it’s not much help. That is reality. So, for many people, government may be the first resort. Let’s be okay with that. Besides decision making, I believe that it’s important that society must value the permanent things of life and culture that have maintained and nurtured humans throughout history. Marriage is one these permanent things, and so also is a belief in the transcendent order, and virtues – prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope and love.

When I look around at our culture, it doesn’t seem that my beliefs are very well represented. Marriage seems to be on the out, faith is discredited, and hope seems hollow. What to do?

Vote our way out of it?

I get the sense that this is what I am being told must happen, especially because it is so close to midterm elections. However, I think that the sorry state of our culture is our fault. And by our fault I mean it’s the fault of the church and individual christians, including myself. The finger pointing needs to stop. It is our fault. If marriage is being threatened in state capitols - I think we have unfortunately already lost that battle. The church has not done its duty to spread the Gospel. We can’t vote our way out of it now. We need to reclaim our rightful calling, which is to spread the Good News. That is our focus. These political issues are not driven by a few activists or elitists but in reality spring from our culture. They have deep roots in a culture that has formally rejected or is simply unaware of its Christian upbringing. Taking back the culture cannot happen unless one builds relationships by nourishing family bonds, reading good books to your kids, becoming friends with your neighbors, being good to your coworkers, being less influenced by media, supporting whats good around you, etc. The family and local environment need a renewal so that local decisions can actually be made. It there is no local life, one must look to government. And, it is at this level – the small level – that permanent things are taught and nourished. What’s good can’t simply be forced upon us from state capitols and d.c.

The focus needs to be primarily just around you.

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New Birth Portraits: Redeemer NYC

I’ve watched two of these portrait videos and find them to be very moving and encouraging. I would highly recommend them. New birth portraits.

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Archbishop John Nienstedt and the Marriage Amendment DVD

ABC News Story.

Gay activists denied communion.

Archbishop Nienstedt Interview with Minnesota Public Radio.

Pro gay marriage Catholic Artist response.

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“Not so much reformation in Washington as renewal in the church”

James Hunter argues in his book that the Christian left and the Christian right are different sides of the same coin. On Mr. Allan R. Bevere’s blog, he states in his understanding of this book that “both the religious right and the left seek political power in order to fundamentally transform America according their understanding of biblical values while ending up being nothing more than faith-based extensions of the Republican and Democratic Parties.”

Al Mohler is the current president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mr. Mohler is quoted in a recent Christianity Today article explaining that moral “battles require not so much reformation in Washington as renewal in the church.”

Over my lifetime, it seems that the Christian right has overextended its involvement in American politics. Recently, there seems to be a reaction to this by Christians who do not want to be identified with this brand of Christianity. Some Christians now identify with the Christian left (i.e. Sojourners) Another example of this is the Hipster movement.

Mr. Mohler is right that the church is in need of renewal. The intense focus on politics and elections needs to stop. I think we’re finally in the process of realizing that, in large part, we’ve become faith-based extensions of political ideologies. Mr. Mohler might suggest that the church’s renewal should be focused on reclaiming reformational theology of the Calvinistic stripe. I’m sort of like George MacDonald who burst into tears at hearing of the Calvinist perspective of predestination. So, I would rather suggest that the renewal that may take place and may now actually be occurring within the church is one that redefines our relationship with politics where the church is decreasingly identified with either party in American politics. The renewal will not only be characterized by its relationship with politics but more largely with the church’s intellectual and physical response to the world’s angst. The Church will not go Left or Right but will go forward into a new paradigm.

I’m an amateur so I cannot offer much yet as to what this might look like. Hopefully over time I may be able to offer some insights based on some of the things I have read or perceived. I invite anyone to prayerfully imagine with me where we might be going.

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