“Jesus Christ is God's language.”
– Leonard Sweet And Frank Viola in Jesus: A Theography
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7 NIV)
I am writing this from the deck of the Carnival Dream luxury liner. It is literally a floating luxury hotel. Along with 3000+ other passengers, we are speeding our way to Honduras on the first of 3 stops before returning to New Orleans.
This break has given me the opportunity to just stop. To simply stop. There are no sermons to write, reports to return, people to visit, or projects to work on. It's the gift of rest. With rest, comes reflection. Not the strained disciplined dissection of every action, motive, and thought, but the organic consideration of the meaning of things, the purposes of life, the mysteries of spirituality, and value of relationships.
The week prior to this trip, my world was rocked. One of my favorite people in life died in a tragic accident. He was a member of the congregation in which I serve on pastoral staff, a campus missionary to colleges in the area, a father, husband, and probably one of the most impactful people I have seen. Anyone who ever met Jake liked him. He lived soooo well. At his memorial service, which lasted over 4 hours but had over 1500 people from every spectrum of life there testifying to his impact and influence.
HIs life in essence was a life of love. Not the fluffy, emotive affection that we often regard as love (although, his wife shared that he did have some of that too). No, it was the fierce, sacrificial love that evokes a response. The kind of love that relentlessly pursues the object of its love.
Coincidentally (but not accidentally), I was reading Old Testament Scholar W. Brueggemann's book "An Unsettled God", devotionally. One of the many premises that he reveals in his excellent study of the attributes of God is that due to Israel's misunderstanding of the person of God, that God uses language in his redemption to reveal his character in a way that is unmistakable. The language he uses are "action words" that reveal the true character of God. (Redemption literally means to "buy back", and in the case of Brueggemann's study refers to the return of a conquored, scattered Israel back to his own land in the 6th century BCE). These words are ultimately revealed in Jesus and his body, also called the church. And I am going on record by saying that Jake Baxter exemplified what should be authentic in the church.
1. Gather: God spoke of "gathering Israel". The nature of God is to gather people together and unify them in community. Jesus came to "break down" the dividing wall between people, people groups and even that with God. Jake Baxter was a master community developer. Beginning with his home that housed friends, outsiders, the marginalized, and the opportunistic. All were welcome, all felt like they belonged. He showed hospitality as a lifestyle, not simply an event. Jesus revealed...
2. Love: God talked with Israel in romantic love. In the book of Hosea, God sees himself as husband to an unfaithful Israel that he will woo back through sacrificial acts of love. The Greek Scriptures tell us that God demonstrated his love for us in this: Christ (Jesus) died for sinners. Jake loved people in a way that cost him. He lived frugally and literally, everything he had materally, was open to be used for others in need. Some people stole from him, misunderstood his generosity, and took advantage of him, He understood that and was never angry or bitter because the purpose of the actions was not appreciation, but the demonstration of a God who is sacrificially geneorus to others, regardless of their ability to return the favor. Jesus revealed...
3. Heal: God promised to "heal Israel". There is a commitment to make Israel whole. This is different than making Israel wealthy or preventing affliction, but it's a commitment to make them complete. They would recognize that God has accepted them and that he deems them as both significant and secure. Jake ministered to many with addictions, character flaws (writer included), illnesses, and injuries (physical, mental, and emotional). He stood with so many on their journey toward wholeness. The paths of thousands were guided by Jake at sometime or another. Jesus revealed....
4. Forgive: God promised to "forgive all their sins". This shifts the understanding of God from primarily that of Judge to that of redeemer. This is ultimately revealed in Jesus who dies so that world may experience forgiveness. Jake not only practiced forgiveness but understood his relationship with God as that of a relationship of grace. It was because he was forgiven that he could forgive. Once again, Jesus revealed...
All this to say, upon reflection, I recognize that the reason that I was so impacted by Jake is because he is probably the closest reflection of Jesus that I have ever known. I know that Jake, like everyone else, was not perfect. But I am so thankful for having known him and thankful for his huge impact and influence in my life and outlook.
We worshipped Jesus at Jake's memoral services, and it was totally appropriate in light of his life.
Afterall, when Jesus is revealed, the only appropriate response is worship.
God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor
“People vote their identity, not issues.”
– Cecile Andrews in Living Room Revolution
"People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all."
--Richard Cohen, Washington Post Columnist, 11/12/13
This morning, my twitter feed was buzzing about the comments that Washington Post Columnist said in defense of claims that the Republican Party is racist. His statements, on behalf of those whom he considers culturally conservative, was full of racist assumptions and perspective. I choose to believe that his comments, do not represent the beliefs of most Americans who identify themselves as culturally and politically conservative. I do not want to make the same mistake that has been made over and over again of making a polarizing figure a representative of an entire group of people.
However, I am intrigued by his use of words as a defense of being called racist. "Conventional" means to conform or adhere to acceptable standards or generally agreed upon codes of conduct. Mr. Cohen begins his statement by attempting to speak on behalf of a culture. After all, isnt culture simply often unspoken assumptions of roles, relationships, and responsibilities? He assumes that those who know the appropriate standards are sickened by the thought of a white man and a black woman having children who fascinatingly enough, end up being biracial. In order to push his point further, he has to mention that the mayor-elect wife has had same sex relationships in the past. Surely, that solidifies his point that conventional viewers should be outraged.
What Mr. Cohen misses is that his language is betraying his character, and may I be bold enough to say, his hatred. Dehumanization begins with objectifying others. He is not critical of the mayor-elect and his wife because of what they are doing (policy wise) but because of what he perceives they are. Thats where the ugly head of racism raises its head! When we begin to think of others as less because of the color of their skin or ethnicity, we begin to dehumanize them and that justifies every type of violence and degardation. He brings up his wife because she is black. He mentions her history because of the connotations he feels towards lesbians. It is easier to hate, easier to destroy, and most of all, easiest to feel justified in doing that.
Lets take some time to evaluate the words that are being said and speak against the language and rehetoric that masks hatred that is expressed in every type of -ism out there. Noting that our political activity has more to do with our understanding of who we are than the issues that are present.
Love to hear your thoughts,
"It's too easy for Christianity to have no consequence in our world."
~Emmanuel Katongole and Jonathan Hartgrove-Wilson in Mirror to the Church
When the foundations are being destroyed,cwhat can the righteous do?
I have been reflecting on the dynamic between God and evil. Specifically, the extension of God into this world: The Church and the manifestation of evil called suffering. The question that continually comes into my mind in multiple different varieties is "Does the Authentic Church have redemptive influence on the world and its evil?". Or sometimes I ask "just how much light is required to dispel darkness?"
I have struggled with these thoughts for many years as I thought about the Civil rights movement of the United States and although it had a wide variety of self-identified Christians as its adherents, it had many many more who opposed it. I think about it as I see the American faith community become co-oped by diverse political and economic forces as opposed to being a prophetic influence that seeks to usher in the reality of God's will of human flourishing that Jesus himself calls the Kingdom of God.
Nine months ago, I traveled to Rwanda. My few weeks there was one of my greatest seasons of learning. Many of you know of the horrific genocide that culminated in 1994 with over 1 million people being brutally killed and maimed in 100 days. Since that time, the people of Rwanda have sought grace, justice, and healing. As I visited and saw tremendous acts of love and forgiveness, I could not help to ask with Rwandan Author Emmanuel Katongole, "Why didn't Christianity make a difference". Why was Rwanda, which boasted as being 'the most Christian" of all African nations, unable to overcome the blood of hatred with the water of baptism?
The criticism is not just for Rwandan Churches, but for European Churches which used Christian teachings to divide and racialize the Rwandan society, as well as the American church which used its considerable resources and influence to prevent interventions in the massacre and promote isolation from the carnage.
One could argue, as those far away from Rwanda situation, that many of the Rwandan Christians were not really Christians at all, but just in name. I think this is a cop-out that keeps us from critically reflecting upon what is wrong with the church of Rwanda, and the church within the US.
I believe that the answer is found not in analyzing the sincerity of the Rwandan and Western Church's faith, but interrogating its assumptions regarding identity and purpose. I am suggesting several different models of Church that often have great intentions and positive effects, but are impotent against the systemic realities of evil and suffering.
1. The Pious Church: The Pious church sees itself as a group of Godly individuals who seek to help other individuals have a relationship with Jesus. The Pious Church seeks an evangelistic scorecard where the most important thing is how many people have developed a relationship with Jesus. The context of their lives, their pains and sufferings are not addressed as these things are promised in the afterlife. The Pious Church is interested in having people enter the Kingdom, but is intimidated to usher it in.
2. The Pastoral Church: The pastoral church is a person-centered community that seeks to give compassion and comfort to the suffering. It provides for the needs of those in misfortune and suffering, but rarely has the courage to ask why or how they got there in the first place. The Pastoral church feeds the hungry but never challenges the hunger. It grieves with the victim but never stands against violence. The Pastoral church is kind and compassionate but rarely courageous.
3. The Prosperity Church: The Prosperity church is a wealth-centered community that uses faith as a means to justify its own greed and lack of compassion (yup, I said it, go ahead read it again). The prosperity church proclaim "blessings" and announces the "divine favor of God" upon its constituents and uses its resources to support its own programs as well as lavish lifestyles for its leaders. The prosperity church rarely bothers to consider focusing on the most indigent communities except to exploit them for what few resources they have.
Each of these church models have sincere people of faith in them, but the consequences and ramifications of the faith expressed in these models is minimal when they are met with legitimate evil and suffering.
I believe that God is pointing out the ineptitude and impotence of these church models so that we have a hunger and a thirst to reclaim the patterns and ministry that Jesus initiated and invited his church to participate in:
The Proclaiming church: The Proclaiming church is focused on celebrating, demonstrating, and expressing the Kingdom of God as Jesus did. It is not as concerned with defending the good news that the Kingdom of God is near (Mark 1:14) as it is with demonstrating it. This demonstration or witness, is personal and public. It focusing on individual righteousness and justice as well as community righteousness (right-relationships) and justice. It is a sign as well as the reality of the presence of God whose love demands a response. It is identifying with the least in a way that is not simply charitable, but advocates for wholeness while standing in solidarity against systemic realities that often work to oppress, degrade, and persecute. It is, in the word's of Brenda Salter-McNeil, the credible witness of God.
In the days when violence and evil literally rip the foundations out of our lives, we must ask ourselves whether we have learned from our recent past. Will we dare to make a difference, or will we simply rehash the failures of the Pious, Pastoral, and Prosperity church?
I pray that you will be part of proclaiming movement of God that demonstrates the power and presence of the Kingdom of God in a very tangible way!
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor
Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
St. Patrick's day is an interesting phenomena. It began as a sincere way to honor a medieval Christian Priest who helped to introduce Christianity to Ireland. It was slowly reframed to be a opportunity to celebrate Irish nationalism and the influence of Irish heirs all over the world. It is now devoid of its Christian roots and nearly desolate of its nationalistic impulses (unless you count making everything green and wearing shamrocks as expressions of Irish nationalism).
This is not an isolated process where something meant to increase our devotion to God is transformed into a self-centered celebration. This is the process of secularization that saw our primary life-motivation move from the promotion of God (natural law for many deists), to nation/regions, to promotion of self. Even our faith expressions are often self-centered instead of God-centered.
I wonder, how St. Patrick would feel about his name being associated with such drunkenness and irresponsibility. After all, his ministry emphasis was exclusive devotion to God.
St. Patrick lived in the 4th century and was initially a slave in Ireland (He was from Britain, not Ireland). It was upon his escape back home that he answered a call of God to preach the good news in Ireland. Once he was there, he faced many hardships but persevered to have an amazingly fruitful. Its that aspect of his life and ministry that I want to honor in this blog entry.
There are so many people in ministry who are tired, aggravated, and frustrated with the persistent adversity that they have faced or the lack of apparent fruitfulness. If you are one of them, I hope that the idea that St. Patrick labored in obscurity for years in a time without media, rapid communication, marketing techniques, but was used of God in a powerful way empowers you.
Jesus had the following interaction with a tired and frustrated Siimon Peter, who would later be the leader of the Church:
He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
God bless you all!
Pastor M Traylor
Discipline without desire causes drudgery
"Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!"? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires.
Miroslav Volf in Free of Charge
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
Today, I read an article about a pastor who left the following message for his or her waiter:
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.
I John 2:9
"We must pray for Gays"
Pastor Heritage Munyakuri,
Yesterday, at the church where I have the privilege to pastor (www.newhopefree.org), one of my assistant pastors delivered the message. The topic of the sermon was "The Power of Prayer". In that sermon, Pastor Munyakuri encouraged the congregation to pray for others as prayer is effective means to blessing others. As an example, Pastor Munyakuri, who is from Congo, discussed the controversial initiative in Uganda, where it has been proposed that people found in homosexual realtionships should be put to death. Pastor Munyakuri denounced this policy and went on the encourage the congregation to pray for all people, including gays.
Interestingly, because of the highly sensitive nature of sexuality in the church, many listeners understood the message to be about homosexuality as opposed to prayer as a means of demonstrating God's love.
While I understand how it could be understood in this way, I continue to be amazed at the confusion and fear regarding issues regarding issues of sexuality, particularly anything involving same sex relationships. Last summer, I wrote a 10 part series called "Jesus and Sexuality" on this blogsite, seeking to encourage discussion and thoughtfulness in regards to a complex issue.
What has not been well articulated by most Christian communities has been its approach towards members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community. I think there are several reasons for this:
1. Sexual Identity is different from sexual attraction and sexual orientation. As Dr. Janelle Williams notes in her excellent book, "The End of Sexual Idenitity" it is a recent phenomena to connect sexual desire with identity. While same sex sexual activity has been around since earliest antiquity, it was regarded as something someone did, as opposed to something someone was. This is significant, as Biblical imperatives prohibited certain behaviors as opposed to condemning a group of people.
2. The Bible clearly speaks against same sex activity, as it also speaks against all sex outside of marriage. The concept of a same sex marriage was not considered in the Bible as the purpose of marriage in ancient paradigms was not companionship, but legacy (children).
3. Attempts by sincere Christian Psychologists and Pastors to "convert" LGBT members towards "heterosexuality" has largely failed, with conversions being less than 15% among willing participants. As opposed to behaviors such as stealing, or gossiping, where Christ-centered therapy has had significant success. In fact, no one has described the expectation for a disciple of Jesus who is involved in same sex relationships. Should there be loss of attraction, or a change in orientation and identity? If so, why has there been such inability to see real change? Part of the problem is that same sex relationships have been described in a medical model, where it is a disease to be cured as opposed to people who need to be cared for. In the former, the goal is eliminating the disease, as opposed to caring for the person and coming along side them as they reach wholeness in Jesus.
4. The most common paradigms from evangelical churches look at people with same sex attractions and relationships as "them" as opposed to "us". The Bible denounces adultery, pre-marital sex, drug use, lying, stealing, those with frequent anger, violent behavior, etc. Yet, we rarely see this behaviors in a way that prevents them from becoming part of our communities, even as they (we) struggle with besetting sins.
5. Most churches, as made clear in Dallas Willard's "Divine Conspiracy", do not have a strategy for discipleship (strategy to help people become fully devoted followers of Jesus). Without this kind of approach, churches are ill equipped connect people deeply with God and allow the spiritual formation that makes wholeness possible.
In my next entry, I will share some thoughts on ministering among members of LGBT community, but prior to that, I pray that you and your Church community will prayerfully ask God for a spirit of love and compassion as we move from demonization to discipleship and from cure to care.
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
The life of a church community is not static but always changing, always evolving or decaying. There is a certain ebb and flow that is inherent in the life of any living organism. Times of development, times of growth, times of strengthening, times of disease, times of reproduction, and ultimately times of death. A church body is a living thing. Despite church growth experts opinions, I do not believe a local church body was created to last forever, but like our lives, has an unique lifespan that is created for the purposes of demonstrating the Kingdom of God in its socio-historical context. I have seen some wonderful and powerful communities of God that had relatively short life cycles, but were beautiful in their creation and fruitful in their ministries.
The point is to understand that all churches are unique manifestations of the Kingdom of God, and that the nature, location, and even the existence of that manifestation is influenced by the culture and context in which it is to be submerged. In the mid-twentieth century, it is said that many neighborhoods in America stayed relatively stable in socioeconomic, ethnic, and culture over a 30-40 year period. By the late twentieth century, the average neighborhood changed every 7 years. Since the church exists to be both reverent (to God) and relevant (to its community), this suggests that churches that do not develop an ethos of change, will have a fairly reduced life cycle.
The problem that many church communities struggle with is not whether change is necessary, but what, how, and when to change. There are multiple mistakes that are often made by sincere church leaders and leadership boards in contemplating change in ministry, mission, and structure:
1. Assuming your church will look like other"successful" churches. God often has a unique calling for your unique situation. It may not look anything like Willow Creek, Potters House, Northpointe, etc. Church leadership must have a better understanding of their uniqueness and the uniqueness of their settings. It doesn't mean that we can not glean a tremendous amount of insight from learning from successful ministries, but that ultimately, God wants to do something in your community that may have never been done before.
2. Deciding upon for format for ministry prior to discerning what's God's mission for you. Discernment is a community activity in which the community seeks the revelation of God's will for them. It is seeking a vision that comes from God, and is only possible with God. It is only with a clarity of vision and mission, that ministry alignment is possible.
3. Focusing on the financial, political, and structural ramifications of spiritual decline instead of confronting the spiritual health of your church and its leadership. I have seen churches where the leadership are simply glorified firemen. They meet together to put out fires. Financial problems with the church budget, poor attendance at certain programs, non-existent outreach, and church schisms are a few. These things keep leaders busy for years, but the underlying problem is not that the church needs to raise more money. Stewardship is very important, but the underlying problem is still a spiritual issue in which the distance between the community and God has widened.
4. The Change that God desires may not make your church larger, more well known, or more financially stable. Interestingly, many pastors and leaders will tell you that they made changes to their churches due to the aforementioned. Yet, I have found that God often calls us to go to the least, the last, and the lost. He calls us to minister people and places that are off the grid. Its like we all have a Ninevah (see the book of Jonah if unfamiliar). While God directed change can results in rapid increases in the size and maturity of your congregation, I have seen very fruitful changes that have not. The goal of change is not our survival and prosperity, but our obedience to the discerned will of God.
I want to encourage every church leader to lead a culture of change in their churches. No, I am not asking you to change for the purpose of changing. I am asking you to be reverently open to the discerned will of God who seeks to make you a relevant tangible expression of His love to a rapidly changing culture around us.
May God bless you this day,
Pastor M Traylor
That has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
This week's violent attacks on American embassies do not make sense to me. I know its easy to dismiss this violence as simply out-of-control religious fanatics who are lead by zealous militants who despise the United States. Yet, there is something missing. It does not make sense. Allow me to postulate a couple of things that I think will give clarity to this mess:
1. Muslims, like other peoples of the world, are intelligent people who desire significance, security, and acceptance. In this manner, we are all alike.
2. All faiths that are exclusive, by nature, are an offense to the world around them. In Christianity, this is openly acknowledged (I Corinthians 1:18-2:16 for instance). Muslims readily understand that they are misunderstood and that a majority of the world is not Muslim. While they may be offended, this offense is hardly new.
3. The internet is not the official domain of any nation or entity. Things published and shared on the internet are not the official publications of the United States or any nation unless they specifically say they are.
4. An obscure ten minute film that is published on the internet is not the official propaganda of the United States or its people. Its a film produced and directed by one man and his intentions are known to him only.
5. The attacks on the embassies were coordinated, well planned attacks by people with a specific agenda.
The idea that a video that was floating on the internet that offended Muslims so badly that it gave rise to a transnational, highly organized global attack on US embassies makes no sense. It actually insults the intelligence of Muslims everywhere.
I think, due to the organization of this, that there is something more. I believe there is something deeper going on here. Videos have come and gone that were offensive to Muslims, but we have not witnessed the outrage and violence that we are experiencing in the Mideast. I am not condoning the video (as I have not even seen it) and as a Pastor, I deeply understand the insult of blasphemy, however, this just makes no sense.
Anytime politics are given a religious dimension, it becomes irrational and dialogue-resistant. That is what we are seeing. A political move (attacking a governmental entity) disguised in a religious movement (Islam is offended). We must separate the two to understand what is the motivation.
I pray that there is an outbreak of peace and that the real causes of the violence are revealed. I pray that we will develop greater tolerance, thicker skins, and a deeper level of understanding in our dealings with others.
Pastor M Traylor
Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you."
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
Bishop Samuel Kayinamera, Free Methodist Church of Rwanda
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
I Corinthians 10:6-7
I recently spent two weeks in the beautiful country of Rwanda. Its hills, lakes and people make it a visually stunning place to witness and a loving place to experience.. It is a small, densely populated land locked nation in Central-Eastern Africa that has an agricultural basis of life that is often resource challenged. Subsistence living is the way of life for the vast majority of Rwanda's people.
Beneath the smiles, the tremendous hospitality, exuberant worship, and the sense of national hope, lies the horrific wound of genocide 18 years ago. In this festering action from April through July of 1994, nearly 2 million of the 8 million inhabitants of Rwanda were systematically killed, tortured, raped, and maimed. This was not done by an invading army or a colonizing nation, but neighbors. Not ethnically different neighbors, or neighbors speaking another language, but real, next-door-our-kids-go-to-school-together type neighbors. It is estimated that over 2/3 of the entire population of Rwanda was either killed or fled the violence into the neighboring nations of Congo, Burundi, or Uganda.
The events of the genocide did not "just happen" but were the result of divisive and dehumanizing practices, processes, and proclamations over the previous 90 years. It was not spontaneous but a planned evil that had shown warning signs for 40 years previous to the genocide.
What is most frightening about this genocide is that Rwanda was known as a "Christian Nation". Testimonies of the perpetrators shows an overwhelming identification as Christian. Witnesses to the genocide noted that victims of the genocide often ran to churches for protection but that the gathering together often made it easier for the perpetrators to commit mass atrocities.
Shouldn't faith have made an difference? Shouldn't the presence of the body of Christ and His spirit been able to overcome this evil?
I want to suggest that there are three components that inform a genocidal people
1. A Divisive and Dehumanizing Ideology must be present: The Belgian Colonizers at the turn of the 20th century painstakingly began to separate the local inhabitants into Tutsi (privileged class), Hutu (laborers), and Twa (nomadic). These were not just descriptions of people physically, but descriptions that changed their identity and self-understanding. It developed into a caste system. Interesting in itself is that the ideology is expressed in distinct labels that allow dehumanizing.
2. A Corrupting and Co-opted Theology must be present: The separation of Tutsi and Hutu was based upon a prevalent myth of that time called the "Hamitic Theory" which postulated that the people who had longer noses, taller stature, and more wealth were descendants of a privileged race of Hamitic origin that avoided the curse of Canaan (Gen 9:25). This not only legitimized the differences, but gave divine support for the classicism.
3. A Scarcity-minded Economy: A scarcity mindset is the acknowledgment that there are very limited resources for living and that there is competition among one another for those resources. Many people do not realize that the initial Hutu uprisings were attempts to gain political and economic power. The natural resources of Rwanda are extremely limited and competitive nature of the economy was like fuel on the flames of fear and mistrust.
The reason that is is worth reflecting upon is to ask yourself, could this happen again? Could millions of people who claim to follow Jesus participate in wholesale genocide of their neighbors? Could it happen in the US?
Nazi Germany developed a dehumanizing ideology (Aryanism and Anti-semitism) based upon the corrupted theology of the national church of Germany (Influenced by racist sentiments of Martin Luther towards the end of his life that were expanded and amplified) and when the economic collapse of post-world war I occurred, the ingredients were all in place for genocide.
Let us never forget! Let us never allow nationalism or ethnocentrism to co-opt the church. Lets critically examine ideologies that divide and dehumanize and ruthlessly clarify our theologies. Lastly, let us not neglect the role that economic systems play in the perpetration of violence. Not only are they connected, but part of the vision of the Kingdom of God was the understanding of peace as sustained provisions for life and liberty
He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Every man will sit under his own vine
and under his own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor
Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. 14 I'm convinced — Jesus convinced me! — that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
Romans 14:13 from the Message Bible
"No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."
Janell Williams Paris, Cultural Anthropologist at Messiah College
Several days ago, President Barak Obama stated clearly that he supported Gay marriage. The reaction has been mixed, but very passionate. In light of a recent referendum in North Carolina that banned Gay marriages as well as common-law marriages between a man and woman, it seems that this issue is something Americans are deeply passionate about. Our social media timelines are filled with strongly worded responses of anger, celebration, provocation, and ignorance.
Personally, I believe that this pulls the cover off of a few things. These deep feelings are signposts to some of our hidden fears. However, like an individual with generalized anxiety, our culture has little insight into the genesis of its anxiety. Instead of trying to thoughtfully understand our reactions and fellings, we immediately turn the anxiety we feel into anger we express. Anger demands an object regardless of the subject. Instead of talking about human sexuality, we are yelling at the President, or ridiculing those trying to define marriage as strictly heterosexual. From every perspective, there is no genuine conversation, no one seeking to understand, to inform, or to be loving. We are too threatened, too vulnerable, too angry, and too uncivil to even consider the reasons for our unease.
Our approach to this divisive issue is a combination of cultural, political, familial, and faith-related influences. The combination is not cumulative, but are interrelated as our culture is defined by our poltical, familial, and faith-based influences.
So, what if our simplistic approaches of yes or no are not appropriate for highly complex issues. Its like trying to describe a vibrancy of a Picasso in shades of gray.
Last summer, wrote a 10 part series of Jesus and sexuality with the hope that it would foster real discussion on a complex issue from a Biblical perspective (Jesus and Sexuality),
I would ask that before you have strong opinion, that we take time to understand whats behind your emotion. Does your faith really support your anger? Next blog, I will talk about my thoughts about this issue, but until then, I pray for understanding, civility, and most of all love by the people of God in order to be credible witnesses to the reality of God.
God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor