Monday, July 27, 2009

Pass The Salt

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it (the Earth) be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." Matthew 5:13

Salt is almost impossible to see. Unless, of course, it is piled into a bowl with other grains of salt, e.g., a church building. Salt is usually felt and tasted before it is ever seen. It is for this reason that a Christian can be judged before they have had a chance to speak. No one sees my K-Love bumper sticker until after I've annoyed them with my driving. By then it's too late. So unless you've been inside a church or tried to get a table at a Ryan's Steakhouse on Sunday afternoon, our visual effects are minimum. But being easy to see is not important.

Jesus' question is hard-hitting. My job is to flavor. So If I'm not flavorful, how shall the Earth be seasoned? Good question. Notice he didn't say, "if the Earth loses it's salt". Jesus never warned his Church about losing their salvation, but He did warn them about losing their flavor. We already know Salvation came from God to us through grace. But Salvation has nothing to do with flavor. Our saltiness is all about influence. We get to go to heaven because of what Christ did. Heaven gets to come to Earth based on how salty we are. Most of us spend too much time trying to look salty, and that's great if you want to build bigger churches, but looking the part only works inside the steeple doors.

Why is it so easy for guys like Jon Stewart and Jay Leno to mock Christians? Jesus answered it. When a Christian ceases to be salty, they become punch lines for comedians, and punching bags for lawyers. How can Christian prayer be prohibited in school, but Muslim prayer allowed in Gitmo? Because the Church isn't as salty as it used to.

I'm embarrassed to say, but most of the meanest people I've known were Christians. And I'm equally embarrassed to admit, that I am probably one of those people for someone else. When I try so hard to look salty, I forget to act like it. There isn't a bumper sticker powerful enough to make up for my lack of flavor. I heard a preacher say once.

"A lot of people died and went to hell today, and most of you don't give a damn. And most of you are more mad that I said the word 'damn' than that people died and went to hell."

And that is the crux of how Christians can be "thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." We are so good at building walls to protect our image that the world comes to one of two conclusions: Christians are full of it, and thus irrelevant, so let's make fun of them, or Christians are really genuine, and still irrelevant, so let's still make fun of them so we can feel better.

Christians, who don't walk on water, are in great demand these days. Jesus never sinned, but he hung out with sinners. We are so afraid of hypocrisy that we never leave church. And when we do interact, we go out of our way to show those damnable sinners how good we really are. I may know the words to "Who Let the Dogs Out" but at least I'm not singing it.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

Jesus understood that being salty isn't about singing and beating the tambourine in the safety of the salt shaker. It's about being salty on the inside to the point of affecting the world around you. If people cheer when you leave the room, that's a clue. I know it's hard. Because I'm salt, I'm drawn to an open wound like a bee to a flower. But that's something God's working in me. It's not an excuse, it's the weather report. However, THIS is an excuse.

"If it weren't for Christians, I'd be a Christian".-- Mahatma Gandhi

Whatever Gandhi! Forget the salt. Pass the hashish.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tandem Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Let's look at the first part. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The word 'substance' here is the Greek word 'hypostasis' and literally means "that which stands beneath". Translated, it literally means foundation, structure, or confidence. Notice that faith is not the same as hope. Hope is the expectation of something desired. It is a feeling, and has no structure or foundation to it. It is for this reason that anyone can hope for anything and not be required to believe or prove it will happen. One cannot have faith that they will win the lottery, one can only hope to. Unless of course, you have the power to control the lottery balls. We can have more than hope that the sun will rise tomorrow, we can have faith that it will. Because the sun has a perfect track record in that department, we have the assurance, confidence, and the foundation to believe it will. We have faith.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. The word 'evidence' is the Greek word 'elegchos' and it means "proof" or "conviction". Some of us will get up and go to work tomorrow because we have faith we will get a paycheck. Our time sheet is the proof that we actually believe there is money to be earned. I haven't seen it yet, but I know it's coming. The fact that I woke up early, got dressed, drove to work, and stayed there eight hours is the evidence that I actually believe I'll get a paycheck. My faith is not a statement, wish, or happy thought. I have backed it with 40 hours worth of evidence that I actually believe it will happen.

So by breaking apart this verse, we can see that faith is two things. Faith is something I can possess. I can watch people jump from an airplane and possess a knowledge that parachutes are able to save. But faith is also the "proof" of an outcome not yet known. I can also jump out of the plane and produce an experience that I would have never known possible had I just stayed on the ground. There is only one way to "prove" a parachute will work. All other ways are theoretical. Where is the evidence, I actually believe it? Geronimoooooooo!

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

God already has the track record of being all powerful. Most of us don't have a problem believing God is ABLE do something significant in our lives. We are just not sure if He is WILLING. We already know God CAN heal us. (We read that part in the Bible.) Our hang up is that we're not sure if He's willing to do it for us. And because we occasionally don't believe he's willing, we occasionally don't bother seeking. Believing that parachutes can save OTHERS is easily affirmed by watching others land safely. Believing that the parachute will save ME requires some action on my part.

We have all grounded ourselves in some way because we really didn't know or believe God was gonna come through for us. Have you ever prayed for "plan A", but after praying, lay-out the steps for "plan B"? I've lost count. There were times I prayed God would provide, but used my credit card because I thought he was taking too long. I didn't pray to God. I wished upon a star, and then proceeded to check my VISA balance. Is that faith?

Remember, faith has two parts. I have already received paychecks from my employer. Those pay stubs represent the "structure" that help me leave for work everyday. I don't blindly go. When I leave, that is the evidence that I actually believe I'm gonna get another one. Because of the history with my employer, I have faith that payday is coming. It is because of my history with God, that I have faith in my future. He has never let me down. And if for whatever reason, I become unemployed, It is my faith in God that will sustain me. Companies, churches, and people will fail you, but God never will.

For the Christian, pain, loneliness, and despair are temporary feelings we get when we jump from the plane. But remember this is a tandem jump. My only job is to go limp and trust him. The more jumps I do, the more my faith builds.

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5

It is real believing faith that pleases God. And unlike hope, good thoughts, and positive thinking, faith requires belief. To please God you have to know that He is already God, and knows what to do. It is one thing to hope, pray, and wish God will provide, heal, and give you a purpose in life. But it completely different to jump like it's a done deal. Don't just expect it, let your life boldly express it.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? James 2:14

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:17

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Missing Link or Missing Kink?

A few weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh quipped "What does God and Obama have in common? Neither one has a birth certificate." While the joke was funny, it is now turning belly laughs into diarrhea cramps. And if your military brass, you might want to pick up some Imodium while its still on the commissary shelf.

U.S. Army Reserve major Stefan Frederick Cook was scheduled to report for deployment to Afghanistan within days, but decided to sue the government because he believed those orders were illegal. Cook's argument is that his orders are illegal because president Obama hasn't proven his eligibility for office.

A gutsy move? Au contraire, mon frère. According to his attorney, Orly Taitz, the military has rescinded his impending deployment orders.
"We won! We won before we even arrived. It means that the military has nothing to show for Obama. It means that the military has directly responded by saying Obama is illegitimate – and they cannot fight it. Therefore, they are revoking the order!"
I have no idea if President Obama is a natural born citizen, and neither does anyone else. The birth certificate he produced on his website was meaningless, and has thus been removed. Hawaii can produce the same "short form" certificate for people born outside the state. But here is what I do know. Obama has a team of lawyers whose only job is to conceal his REAL birth certificate. Obama has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars keeping his identity a secret. If that alone doesn't bring out your inner Arsenio Hall and make you go hmmmmmm, then I don't know what will. Major Cook wanted to serve in Afghanistan, but couldn't seem to shake the "hmmm" factor.

"As an officer in the armed forces of the United States, it is my duty to gain clarification on any order we may believe illegal. With that said, if President Obama is found not to be a 'natural-born citizen,' he is not eligible to be commander-in-chief."

"Then any order coming out of the presidency or his chain of command is illegal. Should I deploy, I would essentially be following an illegal order. If I happened to be captured by the enemy in a foreign land, I would not be privy to the Geneva Convention protections."

Makes sense to me. Apparently it makes sense to the United States Military. They didn't even go to court. When you don't have an argument to stand on, why argue? Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, here we have exhibit A, Obama's original birth certificate. Hey, where did it go. Case dismissed. Cook offered a novel idea.
"You know what. It would be so simple to solve. Just produce the long-form document, certificate of live birth."
You mean the one John McCain had to produce? You mean the one I had to produce for my passport? You mean the one every natural-born U.S citizen has? Your an idea man Major Cook.

Here's a another joke for you. What do Iraq's WMDs & Obama's birth certificate have in common? Both were claimed to exist by a U.S. President, but haven't turned up yet.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whites know better?!

In Ohio, six people were attacked by a group of 50 teenage boys during a Fourth of July celebration. The Marshalls, said the crowd of teens assaulted them while watching fireworks outside a friend's home.
"My thing is,'' Marshall said, ''I didn't want this, but I was in fear for my wife, my kids and my friends. I felt I had to stay out there to protect them, because those guys were just jumping, swinging fists and everything.

''I'm lucky. They didn't break my ribs or bruise my ribs. I thank God, they concentrated on my thick head because I do have one. They were trying to take my head off my spine, basically.''
Marshall suffered a concussion and multiple bruises to his head and had to spend five nights in the hospital at Akron General Medical Center.

Before I forget, I need to mention this family was attacked by a group of all black teenagers. Why bring it up? Because the attackers wanted you to know. During the attack, the black crowd shouted "This is our world" and "This is a black world". So are police calling it a hate crime? Absolutely not, the victims were all white.

In the real world, a hate crime would occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his/her membership in a certain religious, racial, or sexual group. But in our alternate universe, located deep within a rabbit hole in time and space, a hate crime victim CAN'T be white. You see, a hate crime is only a crime when it is against one of our "pet" groups. Whites can only hate blacks. Breeders can only hate gays. Christians can only hate Muslims.

First of all, hate crime laws are stupid. We already have laws against assault, vandalism, murder, etc. The only reason to insert hate into existing laws is to give the government room to enforce what people THINK. We have laws to keep people from using sticks and stones to break your bones. But now we need to have laws to make sure their words don't hurt your feelings.

Secondly, hate laws are extremely offensive. If I were black, I would be outraged over the double-standard. For the Akron police department to not classify the attack as a hate crime is clearly racist. Does the Akron police department expect MORE of its white population than it's black? Is white on black crime way more serious than black on white?

Since the attackers shouted "This is a black world", perhaps the police assumed this was normal behavior. Maybe they thought no civilized "white" gang would do such a thing. And if they did, they would be charged with a hate crime because white people aren't supposed to act like that.

Come on "white" Ohio, you should know better than that.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Obama's INMADIDL Tour

It took four days for Obama to respond to the Iranian election protests. And the only reason he did so was because it took that long for the Iranian government to gun down it's own citizens. Yet Obama's response was one of great restraint. He is the President of change, so his response needed to be a complete 180 from what Bush would have said.
"It is not productive, given the history of US and Iranian relations to be seen as meddling in Iranian elections,"
Our President is so engaged and focused on America's problems, he doesn't have the resources to "meddle" in the affairs of other countries. Take that George Bush! America has it's own problems right now.

The good news is that Obama has just finished fixing America and put the country on auto-pilot. Now that America is perfect, Obama has decided to undo the "change" and get back to some good ole Bush meddling. Within HOURS of the Honduran government arresting their president on criminal charges, Obama had this to say.
"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."

"President Zelaya was democratically elected, he had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras, the democratically elected president there."
So when another government attacks it's civilians while protesting election fraud, its their problem and not mine. But when a sovereign nation arrests their own president for breaking the law, Obama made statements faster than Jesse Jackson running to a TV camera.

Obama said that he wanted Honduras to respect democratic norms and the rule of law. What's interesting is that Mr Zelaya was arresting for BREAKING the law. Mr. Zelaya didn't like the idea that he couldn't be President forever, so he decided to have an illegal vote to amend the Constitution by himself. Unfortunately, for Mr. Zelaya, he doesn't have the authority to use white-out on the Honduran Constitution. The courts then ordered a halt to the vote and ordered the military to arrest anyone attempting to carry it out. Mr. Zelaya was arrested while leading a vote parade in the middle of the street.

The Honduran government arrested their own President for breaking the law and attempting the change the constitution on his own. Honduras has "democratic norms" for changing it's Constitution, as well as "rules and laws" to govern it.

Why was President Obama NOT on the side of the Honduran government and it's people to uphold their constitution? Why is he siding with Mr. Zelaya and demanding that Honduras overlook the fact that he tried to bulldoze himself into a dictatorship? Could it be that Obama doesn't want to be seen as a hypocrite when he himself goes after OUR constitution? And so the "Obama: I've Never Met A Dictator I Didn't Like" tour moves on. I wonder where it goes next.