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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Love Is The Cure June 20, 2013

loveisthecure
Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
– By Elton John

While there is certainly some very interesting autobiographical material here, this is not primarily an autobiography.  It is a book about AIDS.

Elton looks at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and then brings us up to date.  From the science to societal reaction we’re given the facts, as well as many stories of lives directly impacted by AIDS.  Of course, all our lives are impacted by AIDS.

We start with a story of a small town in Indiana called Kokomo, as we look at the life of Ryan White.  Ryan was a teenage hemophiliac who became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. We see, as Elton John states, that Ryan and his family were “true Christians.”  The story also reveals the very non-Christian actions and attitudes of many of the church-goers and residents of Kokomo at that time.  The majority of the townsfolk ostracize this afflicted boy and his family.  “It seemed like a modern-day witch hunt, and Ryan was to be burned at the stake.” Adults were worse than the kids who teased and tormented him. His entire family suffered. This is some sad, sad commentary on the nature of fear, religion, and those who propose to represent God.  But even through being shunned by the town, his classmates and his “church,” Ryan said “There’s always hope with the Lord. I have a lot of trust in God.”
Eventually, Ryan and his family did have to leave town so Ryan wouldn’t have to be buried in such a place of evil hatred.  The town he moved to, only miles away, welcomed him with open arms.  In the end, Ryan reached the entire nation.
The faith, love, and Christ-likeness of Ryan and his mother forever changed the life of Elton John.  Elton is very honest about how his addictions, anger and ego were in control of his life.  “You can’t imagine how selfish I was at the time, what an asshole I had become.” Seeing Ryan give out so much love in the face of so much hate helped E.J. face his own demons.  Elton entered rehab in 1990 and has been sober ever since.  His interactions and friendship with Ryan White also led to the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Elton shares stories of personal loss, as so many of his friends and acquaintances were suffering and dying from this pandemic. There are stories of people like Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury.

We also see AIDS on more of a national level.  This, of course, includes people like Jerry Falwell, again on their religious high-horses proclaiming AIDS victims are just getting what they deserve.  Even some government leaders help spread the hate, fear, and misinformation that ads fuel to the fire of an already devastating crisis.

And we look at AIDS from a global perspective.
Over in Africa, we see that in addition to an extremely bad AIDS situation, there is also an epidemic of rape.  Someone is raped every 26 seconds.  The men and leaders seem to think this is normal behavior, and punish the women who attempt to report being raped.  These unreported atrocities give tremendous momentum to the spread of the disease.
Another disgusting story is about how the Bayer pharmaceutical company knowingly sold tainted, AIDS transmitting medication to other countries so they wouldn’t have to throw them out and lose money.

Throughout this book, we’re shown the many faces of AIDS.  The involvement of some famous warriors against this disease, like President Bill Clinton, Paul Michael Glaser, Princess Diana,  Elizabeth Taylor, and many others is discussed.  We examine what has been done, and where we need to go from here.

I would be remiss as a reviewer if I did not mention the book’s shortcomings.  They can be summed up by saying “Elton John is not an author.”  The writing stumbles from time to time, and there is much redundancy.
Having said that, the stories are far too interesting, and the information far too vital to miss reading “Love Is The Cure.”

I’ve always enjoyed Elton’s music.  At the same time, I sensed that he was pretty much a jerk.  Reading this book has helped me see a different side of Elton John:
A loving, helpful, mellowed-by-age-and-experience, redeemed Elton John.  When he speaks of his drug use, party-life, and “unprotected” multiple sexual encounters he says that it’s a “miracle” he never contracted AIDS.  I feel he does not use that word lightly.
His miracle is one with which I can totally identify.

“Love Is The Cure” is truly an eye-opener, and I thank God that Elton John has written it.


Buy the book. Click HERE.


[For years, now, my wife and I have been involved in raising funds for our local AIDS Task Force here in Fort Wayne, Indiana through  their annual “AIDS Walk.”  This year’s walk is over, but you can still donate.
If you’d like to do so, click: www.Aids-Walk.info.
Thanks! Dave.]

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

– The bottom line is, we’re all human, and we all deserve to be helped and to be loved.
– I was consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else. I apparently never got the memo that the “Me” Decade ended in 1979. The Elton ego train kept rolling right through the ‘8Os.
– Ryan White inspired a nation, changed the course of a deadly epidemic, and helped save millions of lives.
– As a child with hemophilia, Ryan had been treated with compassion. As a child with AIDS, many treated him with contempt.
– Many religious institutions, governments, and the general public sent an unmistakable message to people with AIDS: We do not care about you.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Falwell and his ilk helped guarantee the AIDS epidemic would get far worse.
– It still stings to recall the pure, unadulterated hatred that was spewed at gays and AIDS sufferers.
– What makes AIDS so frightening, so very lethal, is that it takes advantage of more than our biological weaknesses. It take advantage of our social weaknesses.
– Conservative religious and political leaders continue to stand in the way of implementing what we know for a hard fact will save millions upon millions of lives.
– Fighting stigma is difficult work. Instead of directing our animosity and fear at someone’s disease, we direct it at the person who is sick.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The discrimination that the LGBT community [in Haiti] faced after the earthquake is hard to stomach.
– Like many people, I deeply regretted much of what [George W. Bush] did in office, but [his] decision to take aggressive action [with his [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] saved millions of lives.
– There are 2.5 million people infected with HIV in India, and their government has said essentially, “We don’t care about any of you because some of you are gay.”
– We certainly can’t do it without religious institutions on our side. Their power is too great, their influence too far-reaching. There is no excuse for furthering pain and injustice in the name of any god.
– For a small fraction of what was spent on the war in Iraq, America would forever be heralded as the country that won the war against AIDS.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The cure for AIDS is a matter of changing hearts and educating minds.
– The fight against AIDS comes down to compassion.

Buy the book. Click HERE.



WE ALL HAVE AIDS

 

London, New York, LA, and Hell March 3, 2011

Let’s say I visit London, New York City, and LA.
Then, with ink to page I record the experiences of my travels.
Later, someone translates my memoirs, but everywhere the name of one of the
cities I’ve visited appears, the modern day scribe simply writes, “the city.”
Next, you come along and read these writings. You read in many different places about
“the city”, and with no external research, you assume it’s always the same city being referenced.
So from all this disparate information you form the idea of
a place that doesn’t truly match ANY of the places I wrote about!

Try as you may to find that “city” with the famous “Hollywood” sign, Big Ben, &
The Statue of Liberty,
well,
it doesn’t really exist.

This is exactly what we’ve done with the English translations of the 4 different words all translated as “hell” in our Bibles.
We’ve combined all these fundamentally different and often incongruous elements into an erroneous whole.
Then, to make things even more ridiculous, we throw in some completely unrelated scriptures, and a
strong dose of pagan views of the afterlife (e.g. Dante’s “Inferno”).
We’ve combined all this into one view of a place we now call “hell.”
Indeed, a superficial examination of these teachings will reveal they even contradict themselves.

Plus: We do ridiculous things with some of Jesus’ teachings (as well as with the rest of the Bible).
Take, for example, the story of “the sheep and goats.” We say,
It’s not a real shepherd, that’s just a metaphor.
It’s not real sheep, that’s just a metaphor.
It’s not real goats, that’s just a metaphor.
The “Eternal Fire?” Well, yeah, that parts real.
Seriously?

We shove the falsely perceived point of “eternity” down peoples throats, while missing
Jesus’ only real point in the story:
The division between the groups is entirely based on the acts of kindness and mercy done
by people to their disadvantaged fellow men. This is not a teaching about “over there.”
It’s a teaching about the importance of how we treat people “here and now!”
The version of hell most of us have grown up with is simply not in the Bible.
Quote all the out-of-context verses you want, it’s still not there!

So:
It’s very important to realize, as has been said,
that our view of eternity says a WHOLE LOT about how we view the core nature of God.
It certainly says something about our understanding of the cross.
— df

[By the way, Bert Gary has a great “in-detail” look at the “Sheep & Goats” story.
Check it out. Click HERE.]

And check out “Love Wins.” Click HERE.

 

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.
__________________

 

God’s Favor May 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lifewalkblog @ 8:14 am
Tags: , , ,

The cancer that goes into remission isn’t a sign of God’s favor or God’s victory over cancer. A prayer that asks for healing doesn’t manipulate God into loving one and hating another. All prayer asks God to be God, and that means even-handed mercy, unconditional love, courage to face even death, and the gift of self-sacrifice among strangers.

–Tom Ehrich

 

 
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