Being In the World and not Of the World

I’m writing this in response to a comment that was made to me a month or so ago that I have been ruminating about.  The comment was  “But we need the strip clubs and gentleman bars because of all the sexual offenders  being released and other perverts. Let them go there instead of after our women and children.”  And someone else agreed – saying they knew more than I do about this issue.

I disagree with their thinking – and maybe the other person does know more than I do about this issue – but it just doesn’t jive with any of my Christian learning.  We are taught that no one should put a stumbling block in front of another person.  And that everyone who puts a stumbling block in front of a weaker brother or sister will be held accountable for that persons downfall.  This is serious and I’m sharing my thoughts with you.

First – I’m not sure that released offenders have the legal right to attend those places.

Second – I am pretty sure that any offender who gets out of prison has to prove himself (or herself) to be rehabilitated.  So we don’t need these places for them.  Especially because as Christians we are supposed to help them become and remain mature in Christ Jesus with the Power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

Third – Christians are called to be different – Christians are called to a life of purity and holiness.

Christians aren’t the only ones called to purity and holiness – other religions also call people to a life of self-control and discipline.

Those who are strong are always supposed to keep in mind those who are weak.

That being said.  I don’t agree that we need strip clubs and gentleman bars or male strip shows.  I don’t think Jesus would say we need them either.  I think  people need to avoid going to them –  I’m pretty sure Jesus would agree.  I always pray for conversion of the owners of those places – that they would close shop – and rebuild into a business that would bring glory to God and draw their former clientele into a relationship with the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the book Praying Our Way Through Stress: Drawing Wisdom from the Lord’s Life and Prayer I discuss Manifestations of Unresolved Stress and sexual promiscuity and misconduct is one of the manifestations.  We need to help the clientele and employees find better ways of managing stress.  We need to pray for people to rescue the employees and clientele – for them to seek first The Kingdom of Heaven . . . . on earth . . .

 

Lord, Pour your Holy Spirit Out Upon all people and fill them with your power to resist temptation and overcome improper manifestations of stress.   AMEN

 

Making Things New

If you look into the Scriptures and start underlining the word ‘new’ you notice that making things new is not a new thing for God.  It might seem like it’s bad news to some people that God makes things new while to other people it’s good news.

Interesting isn’t it.  We have this conflict even within our own selves, in our hearts, minds and relationships much less think about what this new stuff means to God loving and fearing people when it comes to their religious and spiritual experience.

I don’t think it matters what denomination you are a member of, changes have occurred over the years and it probably occurs in other religions as well – people don’t like some things to change.

Don’t change the liturgy, the prayers, the pews, the songs, the windows, what else don’t people like changed?

I thought about this last night as my husband and I were on our way to an Ascension Service.  We listened to WOW Worship CD’s on the way there.  Then my husband listened as I sang in the choir with people in their 40’s and up, except for two young children, old songs from the 1982 Church Hymnal.  It was a sung service with a chanted psalm and there really were very very few young people there.  I could probably count them on one hand.  And while the older people sometimes ask, where are the young kids – I had received an invitation to another Ascension Service advertising a Handbell  and Youth Choir.

I don’t know how many young people were in the pews at the other service.

I don’t know how many other denominations celebrate Ascension Day – I believe most of the churches that do move the celebration to a Sunday Service.   I don’t know why Ascension Day gets moved to Sunday – maybe it’s for the same reason we move secular Holidays to Mondays – so they don’t interfere with our regular weekday lives.

Does moving the remembrance of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ matter?  Or is it more important that we help more people remember His Ascension and what it means for us?  Maybe the answer is both and that’s why some churches have Ascension Day and Ascension Sunday.

The Disciples were deeply grieved after the Lord’s Crucifixion, they were overjoyed at the knowledge of his Resurrection, they were comfortable enjoying his presence with them as he broke bread and ate with them after his resurrection and when you read about their response to his Ascension – it sounds like for a moment or two they were dumbfounded.  (Acts 1:1-11)

And then, they gathered their wits about them and went back to the upper room and waited with the others.  And there were new things happening shortly after that and then the disciples went out and proclaimed the Good News of God’s Love in a New Way – With the Bread and Wine becoming the new elements of sacrifice – no more bloody sacrifices to the Lord.   That was hugely new and there were many people in that time period who didn’t appreciate or understand the new covenant symbols that Christ raised at the Last Passover meal he celebrated with the disciples until they taught them about it.  And in teaching about that, they taught about so much more – they taught about the Unconditional Love of God for humanity and God’s desire for people to love each other so much that violence becomes a thing of the past.

In the Old Testament we’re told a day will come when war will be taught no more (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3)

Jesus taught about peace in hopes that wars might cease – he told us we’d have trouble and there would be wars and  rumors of wars before he came back.   And I always remember the Scripture that says he’ll come back for us after our room is prepared.  (John 14:2)

But the most important new thing God makes for us, begins with us having a loving relationship with God.  When we have a more loving relationship with God, then we have more loving relationships with each other.

Lord, please give us love for you, love for ourselves and love for other people.  Please help us to teach peace and live in peace with one another.  Help us to participate with you in the creation of a new heaven on earth atmosphere, to the Glory of your Name.  AMEN

 

Our Father or My Father?

for me the emphasis in this prayer is focused on the word Our rather than the word Father. . . In the Christian Church no one has more special ‘access’ to Our Father than another – we can all pray to God, we can all listen, we are all called to be in God’s family.
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Our Daily Bread

In the Lord’s prayer Jesus teaches his disciples about asking for self and others. So often our prayers are focused solely on the needs of others or on our own selves. But in the Lord’s prayer Jesus teaches us to pray in plurals, not singularly . . .
Our_Bread_and_Forgiveness[2]
Our (not only my) Father
Give us (not only me)
Our Daily Bread (not only mine)
and forgive us (not only me)
Our sins/debts/tresspasses (not only mine)
as we forgive (not only me)
those (more than one)
Lead us (not only me)
Deliver us (not only me)

Because thine (only God’s)

How often do we behave as if God’s Kingdom belongs to us? We long for what does not belong to us, but for what God desires for us to receive (thy kingdom come – where do we want God’s kingdom to come? I think it is into . . . Us – into our hearts and minds and souls and not only mine but into others as well – not only me – but we – us – pray for God’s kingdom to fill our beings) Why? So we can live in love with one another.

God loves us so much that God gave US Jesus Christ who in turn gives us the Holy Spirit to unite us as one family – there are many people in one family of God

When we pray Give us this day our daily bread – we are not praying for only ourselves to receive the living word of God and/or physical food – we are praying for others to be given the same thing(s) – – – and it seems to me that what we ask God to give us, is only appropriate for us to ask for others and also for us to give to others – It is the Word of God that feeds us, forgives us, leads us and delivers us. . . AMEN