October 28, 2006

Psalm 34 (ESV)

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed in the man who takes refuge in him!
O, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Posted by Leatherwood at 06:25 AM
This post has been classified as "Prayer"

October 26, 2006


I think I ought to add a bit more to my post from yesterday, mostly because I have some misgivings about the comic and want to muse a bit about what I find admirable about it. I haven’t particularly enjoyed the comic thread that lead up to the comic I enjoyed so much. I felt it was a little unfair ... something similar to what Fred said in the comic I highlighted, “don’t even get me started on ... wrongly branding an entire faith and culture with this stereotype.” It’s easy to poke fingers and mock a straw man of a gay-hating, abortionist-threatening, holier-than-thou, prudish Christian without any redeeming characteristics.

Certainly, the preceding characteristics are true in varying degrees and represent a great threat to fundamentalists. Possibly even an unavoidable one. But the fundamentalists I know (and I probably classify as one myself) can also be generous, kind, forgiving, funny, and genuinely inspiring as well. James 3:10–12 notes that “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond produce fresh water.” (ESV) Both good and evil are bound together in the Christian heart ... and in the fundamentalist movement.

It’s is also quite popular to point out that Jesus “taught love, compassion, and understandin’.” It is not so popular to point out that Jesus also taught that even looking at a woman lustfully is sinful, that any divorce, except for the reason of unfaithfulness, is against the purpose of God. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” is popular, but not “I tell you the truth, whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” We live in a culture that no longer recognizes or believes in sin. One could argue that it’s much more necessary these days to educate people in how sinful they are than how nice God is.

I don’t think I’ll make that argument, though. And this series of comics highlights one of the glaring faults of the fundamentalist movement, one I have noted before: that the sins we focus on most relentlessly tend to be sexual, physical sins. I know that Paul says that “all other sins a man commits outside his body, but” [paraphrasing because I’m lazy] sexual immorality dishonors your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit; but I think that sins such as hypocrisy, pride, prejudice, apathy, and worldliness are much more insidious and dangerous because the person committing them is generally unaware of them (and the further one treads down that path, the less one can see). Jesus made lots of converts among prostitutes, but few among Pharisees. He did not come for the healthy, but for the sick. Blessed is he who acknowledges his sickness, not he who believes himself well.

And Fred was dead on the money that Christianity, and the mission of Jesus, is not fundamentally about condemning evil, but about forgiveness. The good news is not that Jesus came to the world and taught us how to be good people, but that Jesus died for our sins, allowing us to be forgiven and restored to friendship with God. And what we bear is the good news. Granted, there is bad news, too—we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I just wish fundamentalists would be less gleeful and shrill and self-righteous in pointing out the sins of the world, and more glad, more joyful, more grateful in celebrating the grace of God. For we are all sinners, and none has grounds to boast. We all rejoice in the boundless grace of God. “He who has been forgiven little, loves little. He who has been forgiven much, loves much.” May each of us come to realize how much we have been forgiven ... and love much.

Posted by Leatherwood at 05:39 PM
This post has been classified as "Musings"

October 25, 2006

Something Worth Noting

This is why I read and enjoy and respect Something Positive in spite of its many warts.

Posted by Leatherwood at 05:12 PM
This post has been classified as "Public Address"
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