______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Persecuted? June 11, 2014

I just watched a trailer for a new film about “christians” being persecuted in America.
It’s imaginatively titled “Persecuted.”
As a person of faith in Jesus, I grow weary of this self-induced paranoia.

These extremist groups keep crying “Religious Freedom,” when that’s the last thing they want!
Most right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals have made it abundantly clear that they only want freedom for THEIR religious views.
They don’t want everyone to be saying Buddhist prayers in our schools.
They don’t want people swearing on the Quran in our courts.
They don’t want homage paid to Shiva during our sporting events.
They don’t even want to acknowledge the millions of Christians who disagree with them.
So let’s call their cry for religious freedom what it is:
They’re not talking about freedom. They’re talking about privilege.
Privilege for a particular segment of a particular form of a particular religion.
What they actually want is a Dark Ages system of Church/State control and forced religious compliance.
They are as far from the heart of God as were the Pharisees.
There are Christians that suffer real persecution (including torture and death) for their faith, and these prophets-of-doom extremists are an insult to those truly suffering.

Michael Bussee puts things in perspective this way:

“I hear they won’t let Christians get married. And that gay bakers won’t make them cakes. And that they have special programs that can cure them of being Christians. And that there are lots of homeless Christian kids in America because their gay parents reject them when they come out as Christian…”

Movies like this cater to the lowest common denominators of elitism, religious superiority, quasi-faith and simple fear.
They are desperate calls to rally the troops of a dwindling and hopefully soon dead cultist belief system that’s scratching and clawing for it’s final breath.

persecutedThe makers of this celluloid dung should be ashamed of themselves for feeding these fires of self-importance, delusion, and devotion to a false and dangerous view of God. A view that is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus.

Sadly, this ear-tickling movie will probably do well at the box office.  We can only hope and pray that more and more people of faith will speak out against this kind on nonsense, and toss it in the garbage along with the “Left Behind” movies and the propaganda of the Westboro Baptists.
– df



She’s Free. Her Friends Aren’t Happy. December 4, 2010

I got a call from a dear saint I’ve know for years. For some degree of privacy, we’ll call her “Jane.”

Jane’s been struggling, also for years, in religious bondage, fear, and worry. We’ve had a number of talks throughout our friendship. She watched and listened as the journey my wife and I were on led us to new depths of freedom in the Lord. There was a longing in her eyes. Our words rang very true, but she couldn’t seem to find that place she longed for.

Recently, she found it.

Jane came over a number of weeks ago to talk with us. We re-emphasized many of the truths we had shared before. My wife made some observations that were hard for Jane to take, but she knew they were true. She knew things had to change.
Still struggling, she had decided she was going to leave the institution she was currently attending.
She had close ties there, and didn’t want to just walking away without talking with one of her closest friends.

She called her friend, and asked if they could go out to breakfast soon, so they could chat. Her dear friend of many years said, “I don’t think so.” Jane kind of chuckled, knowing it must be a joke, and asked again. “I don’t think so” was, again, the response.

When I left the institution, I had relationships I tried very hard to retain. One in particular. That gentleman, whom I still love deeply, simply doesn’t want to keep that relationship. Like Jane’s friend, this once-loving, dear brother saw leaving the institution as leaving the friendship.

How sad is that?

If that doesn’t show the power of the perverse grip of religion, I don’t know what does.

Jane’s friend knew of her struggles. But rather than rejoicing in Jane’s new found joy of the Lord, she
couldn’t see past her dedication to her religious institution.

These people aren’t intentionally evil. The power of religion that enslaves them, however, is!
Like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day, they hate and fear the freedom of God.
They talk a good talk, but truly never understand the “scandal of grace.”

I’m glad Jane called me, knowing she would have someone to share her joy. It has renewed my commitment to continue to stand against oppressive religion, legalism, and much of fundamentalist evangelicalism. If there is an anti-Christ spirit alive today, it is, as Carol Harper has said, the thing we call “Christianity.”

Today, I rejoice with my sister, while sharing the sadness of friendships lost. Her friend told her the exact same thing mine told me: “It will never be the same between us.” Sadly, that is true only because they make it so.

On the up-side, the “good news” for Jane is finally good news. She has felt a heavy burden lifted. She is entering a new rest, and a truer understanding of grace.

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ.


Review of “He Loves Me” December 12, 2009

“He Loves Me.”  A simple title.  Actually, so simple it kept me from reading this Wayne Jacobsen book for years, even though I’ve enjoyed his other writings, audio, blog, etc.  I mean, it’s a book about God’s love.  What Christian doesn’t know about God’s love?!?!  I know His love for me is based on His grace.  I know it’s not by merit.  I know…

Well, this book is SO not as simple as its name, and yet, it is.  One of the many things I’ve learned over the last 10 years, is how much we say we know (and sincerely believe we do) that we really don’t;  at least not the way we should.  This book is yet another journey into learning what we’re sure we already know.
It looks at the Cross, not as an act of judgment, but as an act of love.  We’ve too long reduced the Father and Son to some schizophrenic “good-cop, bad-cop” god.  {The Father was really, really mad, so Jesus had to jump in the way to keep us from getting beaten up.}  Yet Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Hmmm.  Something is amiss.

I’m amazed at how fearful of grace many Christians really are.  Always afraid of what someone else will get away with.  Afraid of losing their ability to use religion to manipulate and control others in the name of God.
God may have wrath, but God IS love.  His wrath is against ungodliness and sin, but never against you.  “He Loves You.”  This is about learning to live loved.  It’s about choosing relationship over the fear of hell.  It’s about no longer trying to earn points with God.  That’s something many Christians say they don’t do, but listen to them talk very long, and you’ll see otherwise.
There’s a very small portion called “A Touchdown For Jesus.”  It may help you rethink what kind of testimony really gives God glory.

“He Loves Me” looks at many facets of the diamond that is God’s love.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Just add this book  to your personal library.  You won’t regret it.
— dave
To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.

Here are some excerpts to wet your reading appetite.

We often view sin as evil action alone and miss the nature of sin itself. At its root, sin is simply grabbing for ourselves what God has not given us. In this realm, our best intentions can draw us into as much bondage as our most indulgent desires.
We don’t enter into this kingdom by a sinner’s prayer, going forward at a religious gathering, or reciting an orthodox creed, but by learning to trust who he is and by living in that trust no matter what life hurls at us.
No longer oppressed by the need to appease God, we are free to live in his love, and that can completely transform everything about the way we think and live.
There is absolutely no condemnation or guilt for anyone who lives in him. Now you can be with your Father just as you are, still in the process of transformation, and not have to hide anything. Those who are o longer influenced by shame can finally live authentic lives.
When Jesus asked people to “repent and believe” the gospel, he was not asking them to be sorry for their sins and embrace an orthodox theology.  He was asking them to forfeit their own agenda and embrace his.  That’s the invitation to the kingdom.  It is not whether we want to go to heaven or hell, but whether we want to trust God or continue trusting ourselves.
In every situation you’ll ever encounter, you will be offered two options in prayer: “Father, save me,” or “Father, glorify your name!” One will lead you to frustration and disillusionment, the other to the greatest wonders in God’s heart.
I don’t think there has been a time since the Middle Ages when the practice of Christianity was so at odds with what it means to live in the life of Christ.
His message was not “Come to God or you’ll burn in hell.” His message was “God’s kingdom has come near you and you can become a participant in it. You have a Father who loves you.”

As you grow increasingly certain that his love for you is not connected to your performance, you will find yourself released from the horrible burden of doing something for him.

I used to be driven to do something great for God.

I’m not driven anymore.  I haven’t tried to do anything great for God in more than a decade, and yet I have seen him use my life in ways that always exceed my expectations.  What changed?  I did, by his grace.
My desire to do something great for God served me far more than it ever did him.  It kept me too busy to enjoy him and distracted me from the real ministry opportunities he brought across my path every day.

God’s work won’t be thwarted by my lack of participation.  He will touch people anyway, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

His focus on touching people instead of managing programs has revolutionized my view of ministry.

People who learn to live out of a genuine love relationship with the God of the universe will live in more power, more joy, and more righteousness than anyone motivated by fear of his judgment.
To Buy it, Click HERE.


Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Since Adam’s fall we have come to picture God not as a loving Father inviting us to trust him, but an exacting sovereign who must be appeased. When we start from that vantage point we miss God’s purpose on the cross. For his plan was not to satisfy some need in himself at his Son’s expense, but rather to satisfy a need in us at his own expense.

But I am deeply bothered by the thought that in some way God was able to separate himself at the cross. The popular understanding of the cross seems to be that God the Father executed wrath on God the Son while standing at some discrete distance.

Such thinking not only denies the essence of God’s nature but then distorts what happened at the cross. Paul wrote that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ…” God was no distant observer, but a participant. He didn’t send Jesus to do what he would not do; but God himself acted through Jesus to bring about our redemption.

Some have taken Jesus’ cry that his Father had forsaken him to mean that at the darkest moment, the Father had to turn his back on the Son. God cannot bear to look on sin, they argue, so that when our sins were laid on him, God had to turn his face away from his Son.

God has never run from sinful humanity. He didn’t hide from Adam and Even in the Garden. They hid from him as he sought them out. It is not God who cannot bear to look on sin, but that we in our sin can’t bear to look on God. He’s not the one who hides. We are. God is powerful enough to look on sin and be untainted by it. He has always done so. He did so at the cross.

To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.

Here are some other reviews:

Do Yourself a Favor and Read This Book
Excellent insight. A logical, biblical foundation for a new framework for understanding God’s intended relationship with His children. Love, rather than fear. Even if you don’t consider your relationship with God to be based on fear or “appeasement” (I didn’t either), this book will challenge you to reassess many of the traditions and approaches that dominate many in the Evangelical Christian Church. However, the book is not written from a critical point of view. A freeing book. Approach with an open mind. This book is having a strong, positive impact on my life. I have recommended it highly to several friends.

The Best Book I’ve Read On The Topic of God’s Love For Me
I’ve enjoyed a meaningful relationship with God for 37 years, and have read extensively on the topic of God’s love for individual people. This is definitely the best, most specific, and down-to-earth book I’ve read on this topic. It has impacted my life and how I view God. It’s very freeing indeed.

“For those of us who are longing to ‘live loved,’ I cannot recommend a better follow-up to The Shack than this book. It is an exploration and adventure into the heart of the God we hoped was truly there, and who loves each of us in particular with an everlasting love.” (Wm. Paul Young, Author of “The Shack.”)

To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.


…And I Feel Fine November 3, 2009


I’ve just finished reading another article about the year 2012.  Here we go again.  I’m so tired of this crap.
So many were sure the year 2000 would do us all in.  Y2K had the country worrying about computer crashes bringing the world to a technological end, if not a complete end.  I remember telling people I thought 2000 would come and go just like every other year.  It did.

I think people, for some reason, like instilling fear.  It’s like some kind of perverse game.  Just look at the dozens of  “Beware” of  this-or-that emails forwarded.  Ninety-nine percent of these are sheer fabrication.  People just blindly forward them on, without checking them out.  I especially hate the ones that falsely include the tag “I checked this out on Snopes, and it’s legit.”  Well, I check them out on Snopes, and they’re usually NOT legit.  Forwarding these things is a total act of irresponsibility.  So is using scare tactics involving the calendar.

How many hundreds of years of false predictions will it take for people to wake up?  Remember “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In ’88?”  I think they’ve had one every year since.  In my research, I found a list of failed end-of-the-world predictions, starting in AD 30.  Sextus Julius Africanus had predicted Armageddon at 500 AD.  Charles Wesley predicted 1794.  On and on and on.
Some Christians seem to wear this paranoia like a badge of honor; like it somehow serves or pleases God.  I’m convinced it certainly does not.  If anything, it detracts from the central message of Jesus.

Jesus said “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  Over and over Jesus teaches that the kingdom is here.  The kingdom is now.  We are the kingdom people.  We are God’s house.  We are the new Jerusalem.  It’s not about the “sweet by and by.”  (By the way, show me where ‘heaven’ has streets of gold.)

Could 2012 be “the end of the world as we know it?”  Sure.  So could tomorrow.  But concern over the end of the world gives us the wrong focus.  This all distracts from how we are to treat other people.  It distracts from how we are to treat the earth.  After all, the world’s going to end soon, so who cares if I dump my trash in the street!  It takes our minds off of important things, like social injustice, hunger, and other areas where we are to be the “salt of the earth.”  It ignores, or worse, violates the part of Jesus’ prayer that says “on earth as it is in heaven.”

How are we to live today?  The answer to that question shouldn’t change whether the world ends in 2012, or tomorrow, or ten-thousand years from tomorrow.



Being Good September 24, 2009

Filed under: Religion,Social Issues — lifewalkblog @ 3:05 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”
— Albert Einstein


%d bloggers like this: