Blogtober 9th: A Tale of Two Gospels – Poverty vs. Debt

RembrandtProdigal

Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…” Luke 4:18

The church’s primary work is spreading the gospel of Christ and making disciples.  I never stop being surprised at the widespread misunderstanding of this.  Some ministries get pretty creative in their pursuit to do this work, and naturally there are critics. One of those creative ministries states at the top of their website that they are “…an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively”.  It is a para-church ministry, (not a church) but it has come under scrutiny in recent years for how it raises and spends money. I watched the comments fly around online about it last summer, demanding that instead of using their collective $7 million budget for their own building projects, they should donate the money to help the state with the heroin addicts. This is assuming the people who gave the money don’t also give to their own church and elsewhere. $7 million is about 1/2 % of the $1.5 billion that was raised last year by candidates for the presidential election…and a failed presidential election for all the candidates but one. Did the people who gave their time, talent and treasure to the presidential election forget about the needy?

$7 million spent by Christians in creative pursuits to proclaim the gospel of Christ may seem very  frivolous, even to other Christians, but if our primary work is the proclaiming of the gospel of Christ, our first love and devotion is to Christ himself. I love this passage:

“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. 8But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” Matthew 26:6-13

My own giving will go to a church or a ministry whose primary work is preaching the gospel rather than a government recovery program or an election campaign, but if anyone else feels compassion for heroin addicts, look no further than your own hard earned dollars. Don’t give your money to a politician or a ministry you don’t feel you can support! That is our right and our freedom to give where we wish to give. Even better would be if you are a Christian, give to a Christian ministry that preaches the gospel and treats addictions or join together with like-minded people and start one yourself.

There is a fundamental reason though, that people get mixed up and think it is the church’s primary work to meet every social need society creates. It is the throwing over of the gospel of Christ in favor of the social gospel. A few years ago, a well-known, world religious leader said on more than one occasion that the core and center of the gospel is poverty. It was such a popular statement that it was even reported in the mainstream news, but why would the mainstream news care what a religious leader said about the core and center of the gospel?  They care because it was a statement about the social gospel, which makes an effective impact on people’s views and response to government policy. Regarding the gospel of Christ though, it misleads us into a deadly lie. Christ’s gospel is not about poverty, but about debt. It is about man’s sin debt to God. We cannot repay that debt, except with our own life. “For the wages of sin is death”. Are you willing to die for all of eternity, separated from God in payment for your sin? I don’t want that for you, I don’t want that for me, I don’t want that for Pope Francis or the Dalai Lama. I want to see everyone saved…but none of us can pay that debt to God with our donations, service and government policy. We each own our own debt, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.

Making poverty the value at the center of the gospel obscures Christ’s gospel behind the social gospel, which is no gospel. It prevents people from hearing the gospel of Christ and responding right now for salvation. “Today is the day of salvation” The true gospel, the good news, is that Jesus paid your debt, and my debt and every religious and world leader’s debt on the cross by willingly laying down his perfectly obedient life. You can be materially poor and have no debts. Likewise, you can have material abundance and be deep in debt. Not everyone may be able to identify with what it means to be rich or poor. But everyone knows what it means to be in debt.

How is the debt paid? Every person’s most urgent need is to have their sin debt to God forgiven:

And the Lord said, “… I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” – Acts 26

You will notice there are no words here about poverty and the poor, but rather forgiveness which is a concept that means a great deal to someone who is in debt. A debtor who cannot repay is condemned:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ” – Jesus, In John 3

~L

 

 

 


 

 

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Blogtober 6th – Eating Out

tacoholics

I was working in Henderson and Mark came with me, so we made it into a lunch date. It was a beautiful day and I said I wanted to try one of the restaurants down by the river. The only one open that had patio seating was TacoHolics. So, I tried to order as veg of a lunch as I could while still giving their food proper try. We had chips and salsa and unsweet tea with lemon and lime.

chips and salsa

Mark ordered a steak burrito which was more than enough. It filled the whole basket. I ordered bean burritos and instead of beans and rice on the side, I ordered a salad, with guacamole. The burritos came covered in liquid cheese and there was sour cream on the salad. Hmm. No meat, but Not vegan. In the interest of science, I ate them. 😉 My blood glucose went to 213. I did not walk today. Next week I will try again and change this entree to make it fit my eating plan.

wet burritos

We really like this restaurant. The staff is friendly and helpful and the food is inexpensive.  I want to go here often. So, I’m going to try and figure out what I can eat. I could probably have eaten everything on this plate without the flour tortillas and had no jump in my blood glucose levels.

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Maybe next week after lunch we will go walk along the river…

Blogtober 5th – Grocery Day

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Time to shop!

Its been a long time since I was confident enough to buy this much produce. If there are a lot of convenience foods in the house, we won’t eat much produce. If there are Hot Pockets in the freezer, the beans are ignored. We don’t make salad to go with the diGiorno pizza. Fruit smoothies don’t taste good with an Egg McMuffin.

In previous attempts to start eating plans created by someone else, and written in books, I’ve tried their techniques to be successful, like cleaning out the cabinets, complete abstinence from no-no foods or else start all over, fasting before I start, no dining out, make everything from scratch, etc. Maybe I just don’t have the temperament for these. For instance, Whole30 is the “start over” plan. So, if you get to day 29 and discover there’s glazed almonds in your salad that you ordered at a restaurant and didn’t notice until you ate some of it, you start over. There’s no Whole30 police watching you. Obviously, a sane person can ignore this directive and just move on, but it feels like cheating a game to me. I’m not playing a game. I’m trying to stay well.

So, this month, I’m striving for vegan. I’ve never done this before, but I’m finding it surprisingly easy to stay away from meat of any kind. I may be able to follow close to Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutrarian plan which treats meat like a condiment, after October is over. I want to try to make and drink more bone broth as well. The eating plans I have read about and studied and tried are all helpful in their own way and have taught me important things about nutrition, but what I am most concerned about is food that has traveled far, far away from God’s garden and was robbed of its value by the time it gets to our dinner plate. As a psychology student, I am intrigued by the evidence for psychological side effects from an overly processed diet. The physical effects are already well known.

More Media Cluelessness

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“The media took this as a comment about press freedom rather than its own failure to read the zeitgeist. In fact, it largely failed to tell any story other than its own.

New Yorker editor David Remnick, as good a representative of media virtue as anybody, before he went to bed last night took a moment to throw off a thousand words or so on the death of the republic, rather than to express much interest — awe might have been in order — at the enormity and meaning of what had happened. Truly, really, a new voice had spoken — but in a pitch so high and a language so obscure that none of us in the media picked it up.” – Michael Wolff, The Hollywood Reporter

God on Our Side or We on God’s Side

The use of the bible to defend one’s views is used prolifically among those seeking to hold or retain power. It is by no means confined to modern conservatives or civil war era slave owners. As I’m sure you know, the use of the bible to fight for the ABOLITION of the slave trade was even more vocal and ultimately succeeded. The two current front-runners for president were falling all over themselves not a month ago in competition over who was the most religious. A headline just today was cheerleading the Clinton’s charitable giving over Trump’s, complete with bible verses. Not a day goes by where I don’t see a liberal scolding a conservative, quoting Leviticus this or Genesis that or loving one’s neighbor or judge not lest ye be judged. Always the same predictable passages. It is so pervasive and ridiculous, the nuances of current day discourse will probably be lost on future generations, making it difficult to tell Christians apart on either side of the political aisle. 150 years from now, when the world realizes our generation criminally obliterated millions in the womb, I can just imagine the conversations blaming ALL Christians for the words of the few that got the most media coverage:

“I refer you to the following Google searched quotes for more information on the misuse of scripture by “Christians” in the 21st century to support their backward and atrocious views:

‘Jesus Would be Pro-Choice’
‘Jesus Was a Socialist’
‘Jesus Preached Communism’
‘Jesus Was a Palestinian’
‘Jesus and His Disciples Were Gay’
‘President Prays for and Blesses Abortion Trade Giant, Planned Parenthood’
‘Presidential Candidate Says He Would Make Great Deals With God’
‘Presidential Candidate Says Unborn Have No Right to Life’
‘Legislator States God Loves Gay Marriage’
‘God Hates Fags’
‘Not God Bless America…D*amn America!’
‘God Wants Me to Live Happy and True to My Self’

I could go on, but you should get the gist by now. Just because someone claims the bible supports their views doesn’t mean the bible supports their views. And it is obvious even from a cursory view of history that there are Christians or those claiming to be Christians of every stripe and philosophy. Jesus pointed that out himself. The wheat and the tares will grow up side by side. The sheep and the goats will grow up together. God knows the difference.

It *is* human nature to have a problem with what the bible actually says and there is zero support in scripture for same-sex coupling, killing the unborn’s body in deference to the mother’s body, or believing God is a respecter of a person’s status, whether racial, gender, occupational, political etc.

What exactly are we talking about when we say “liberal” and “conservative”? What were the defining characteristics of these labels prior to the 1980’s? What are the defining characteristics today? The South during the reign of the Confederacy did away with partisan politics to unify against the North, which was a plethora of partisan politics that nonetheless unified against the South. Are you saying that the entire North was liberal and the entire south conservative, as defined by current definitions? That would definitely be incorrect and revisionist. There are no clean lines like that.

My point in my earlier post is that there are Christians, real true Christians, saved by Christ and part of the church invisible in all political camps, of all earthly philosophies. Simplified for our current day purposes and this conversation, LIberalism is a political philosophy that emphasizes individual submission to government created and imposed “values”, whereas Conservativism emphasizes individual liberty and government protection of those liberties. There are Christians on both sides of this issue. In a largely Christian culture, whether by profession or common experience, a person seeking power will appeal to the culture using biblical references, whether chapter and verse or “Golden Rule” type language, because that is the way we communicate and understand the world. Scripture verses will be used to support whatever philosophy one espouses.

From the point of view of the church, Jesus’ main goal for us is to preach the gospel to everyone. This gospel is at home everywhere, because it will always achieve its singular goal for individuals in any culture and under any ideology: That Jesus is good news to all people everywhere, that if we confess with our mouth, Jesus is Lord, and trust Him, believing He lived, died, was buried and rose again, we will be saved from sin and be adopted as heirs with Christ. I’ve had a number of same sex couples live next door or in the neighborhood and had numerous gay or lesbian friends, coworkers or fellow students at school. I’ve shared the gospel with them. I’m almost 50 yo, so this is not a foreign concept or one that has suddenly become part of my life in the last 2 years because liberals have decided to make me aware that they exist. Perhaps white liberals never noticed until 2 years ago and now suddenly feel guilty and have to shove it down everyone else’s throat. I don’t know. I’ve always gotten along just fine with my neighbors without their help. Do some people do this wrong? Of course, but getting it wrong is also human nature and non-partisan.

Blogtober and Halfway Through Another Semester of School

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I have been so happy and thankful to get back to school this fall, fresh off of August’s Global Leadership Summit and the excellent church services recently. I’m always excited to learn new Greek or Hebrew words and their meanings. Some Sundays, our pastor teaches both Greek AND Hebrew! 😀

Before this blog posts gets going, I would like to pray and thank God for his blessings.

“Dear Lord, Thank you for the many blessings you have given to us. Thank you for the days that we can be together, up early and ready to start a new school year. Father, we pray that you will teach us fresh, new ideas to make learning each day challenging and enjoyable. We love you.”

It’s a new school semester for me at college, and  another year into high school as a home school family, with our youngest son. He has added college classes this year, so technically he is a high school junior. Our older son was married last year and although he finished his 2-year degree and works in construction, he started back to college for Christian ministry this fall. Our oldest, and only daughter is a senior in college and will be getting married and graduating in the spring. Interestingly, my brother has also gone back to college. WooHoo for the internet.

Blogtober is here now and although I originally planned it as inspiration to encourage me to blog frequently once October ended, it has actually turned into an annual time to give my blog special attention. I’ve been haphazardly writing blog posts for over 10 years. It makes zero dollars and hasn’t made me famous. But it is here and I like to look at it myself. I have practiced a lot of writing here and tried to organize my thoughts on issues both in the news and in my life. I’ve also put a lot of bible study time in here. So, this is the official starting point for Blogtober, 2016.

My Eulogy

20150115_082243 (2)This semester, I am taking a death, dying and bereavement class. I had to write my own eulogy for my first assignment. I wrote it very quickly, but it is exactly right:

“How do we sum up a life in only a few short moments? How do we do justice to the memory of the person that was known intimately by many here who have come to say goodbye to their mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend? There are many things we could mention that would describe the most familiar and cherished experiences we shared with our dear Laura, but she wanted this last opportunity we all have gathered around her to be spent not reminiscing but rather looking straight into the face of our glorious Savior and rejoicing in a quickly approaching future:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18″