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Even a casual reading of the New Testament is enough to give one a sense that Jesus was (while not soft on sin) softest on sinners, and harshest on the outwardly religious (I wrote a bit about this last Friday)–the ones who claimed to have all the answers, to have it all together.

That was then, this is now, you might say. There are no more Pharisees. On the contrary, the spirit of Phariseeism is very much alive and well. Ask anyone who’s gone through hard times, has struggled with sin, has been maligned and marginalized because they don’t fit into a neat Evangelical category.

I know this first hand from observing how my wife was treated by well-meaning Christians during her ongoing illness. There were quite a number of assumptions we had to hurdle during this period:

1) That she must have unconfessed sin in her life, (who doesn’t?) and God was punishing her. Sure–“whom the Lord loves, He also chastens.” And sometimes it’s the consequence of living in a fallen world. (See Jesus words about the Tower of Siloam).

2) That she lacked faith for her healing. Tell that to Paul, and his “thorn in the flesh.” In fact, tell that to every saint chronicled in Hebrews 11–of whom the world was not worthy–that they didn’t get what they longed for because they lacked faith.

3) That our media choices–the books we read, the movies we watched–allowed demonic forces into our home, and our bodies. Last time I checked, “greater is He Who is in me, than he who is in the world.” Besides which, it’s not so much the media choices, as it is the why behind those choices, i.e., where the heart is, and where affection and allegiance are given.

I could go on. In fact, I have friends who have chronic illnesses–legitimately diagnosed conditions–who are accused of consorting with demons!

By well-meaning, but wrong-headed, Christians.

I think the fundamental problem lays in how we approach the Scriptures. Now, make no mistake, it has rules in it. But that’s not its primary purpose. Because, if it were, then the Pharisees were right: if we just follow the rules, then we can make our way to God. Paul is very clear on this:

“Touch not, taste not, handle not” all sound great and godly, but ultimately miss the mark. “The kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Because the Bible is primarily a book of relationship. And we all know how difficult and messy relationships are. They take work, intentionality, effort.

But we want neat, easy, categories–because we don’t want mess. We don’t each other’s sin to rub off. So we shun, we ostracize, we make assumptions, and draw (false) conclusions. (Let me put it this way: if a hospital is a place of (physical) healing, shouldn’t the church be a place of spiritual healing? Why then do we do our surgeries with guns? Doctors don’t walk into operating rooms guns blazing; rather, surgeries are careful things–well-planned, and highly monitored. But the church–and Evangelicalism in particular–fosters an environment where we blast first, and ask questions later).

Because life is easier (for us) that way.

Instead, we should jump into the arena, and be accused of being:

Drunkards
Gluttons
Sinners

Because that’s what love looks like. That’s what Jesus did. That’s WWJD.

Friends, we need to stop–in the Name of Jesus–shooting our wounded with our (un)holy word cannons of well-meaning. Stop turning a cold shoulder, and open our arms to one another.

Misunderstanding is the price of love done right.

What do you think?

Just so you know: this post is coming to you entirely devoid of pictures. If you came here hoping for images of gratuitous nursing, what’s wrong with you?

This isn’t that kind of blog. (If that kind of blog exists, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know). Move along elsewhere.

'WE RENT BREAST PUMPS #breast #pump #milk #medical #equipment #rent #rental #dontbuy #usedisbetterthannew #sign #posted #glass #reflection #iphoneonly #instayum' photo (c) 2013, Slipp D. Thompson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

(This is not a service our church offers).

Anyway…

The kids spent the the night at their grandparent’s house, so Lisa and I did that thing that adults do when their kids aren’t around:

We slept in.

Continue Reading…

It’s not bad to feel ashamed when we’ve done shameful things. There is such a thing as a healthy regret. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t.

image

This post is not about that kind of shame. But rather about the shame that we, the culture, and church project. The kind that makes us worry more about our reputations, than about getting the help we need.

Continue Reading…

'VATICAN SURPRISE' photo (c) 2005, Tim Engleman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Bite Me, Joel Osteen.

My Best Life Now? Seriously?

Does that best life include:

My sleep apnea

My wife’s:

Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, and allergies so bad she can’t breathe through her nose for months on end?

My son’s chronic back problems?

Loved ones dying of cancer?

What part of this is “best,” Joel?

“But, bless God, brother,” you say. “You just need to take a hold of it.” Well, d’oh! What do you think I’ve been doing? Playing tiddlywinks? I pray–I believe–everyday.

You say “Well maybe you just don’t have faith? Pray for faith, brother.” Doing this, too, bro.

Everyday.

By my reckoning, I’d say that I have much the same faith as:

Abraham–who died without receiving his inheritance

Gideon–who twice laid out his fleece before God

Barak–who wouldn’t go fight unless Deborah accompanied him

David–who killed Uriah to cover up his sin

Job–who suffered it seems so God could win a bet with the devil

The Apostle Paul–who was shipwrecked, stoned (with actual rocks, not pot), and cast adrift in the open ocean

It seems to me, Joel, that their hope was not in having the best life now, but in having a blessed life now.

Which meant walking with God, and trusting him, through hard things. Not being delivered from those hard things, but rather being delivered through them.

Because it seems to me that having the best life now means having a hope in the hereafter, where “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).

Bite me, Joel Osteen: the best is yet to be.

Joel Osteen’s Smile

randomlychad  —  February 27, 2013 — 6 Comments
'Joel Osteen wisdom' photo (c) 2012, Brianna Laugher - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

You know Joel Osteen–perpetually happy pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston. He’s known for his sunny disposition, and his softball theology.

Sunnier even than his disposition is his smile. I mean his pearly whites shine.

How bright is Joel’s smile?

It shines so bright that:

'A Good Day To Die Hard - billboard - Moor Street Queensway' photo (c) 2013, Elliott Brown - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/John McClane could have used it to guide planes to safety in Die Hard 2.

Sam could have used it against Shelob.

It has its own astrological designation–Alpha Joeltauri.

George Hamilton is jealous. (He thought his were the best bicuspids now).'George Hamilton' photo (c) 2010, vagueonthehow - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

When the lights go out at Lakewood, they hang Joel like a disco ball from the ceiling.

'Benny Hinn' photo (c) 2006, Gordon Joly - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/In fact, his smile burns so bright that even Benny Hinn can’t blow it out.