Jesus Never Said That!

Jesus

So I saw a couple Tweeps lamenting the fact that Facebook “friends” were attributing quotations to Jesus that never came out of Jesus’ mouth (at least not that were recorded in Scripture).

As is often the case, I turned it into a game: #JesusSaid.

Then we started listing off famous proverbs and quotations that are CLEARLY not from Jesus.

Here are some of the gems:

Interestingly, one person expressed some discomfort with the game.

I understand the discomfort. In fact, I applaud it. We SHOULD be concerned with the words we put in Jesus’ mouth. The point of the whole game was to say: I can’t believe people are putting these words in Jesus’ mouth!

Like many aspects of our faith, we too often let culture infiltrate and influence us. We get so confused sometimes that we cannot tell Scripture from Shakespeare.

The beauty of the Bible is that, for people of faith, it is God’s revelation to us that shapes and forms us. When we take that seriously then we will take seriously the words contained within it.

So double-check next time before you quote Jesus.

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Racist Old White Dudes and Their Black Girlfriends

Donald-Sterling

By now most people have heard of the drama regarding Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his racist comments.

We should be outraged, but we’re being outraged by the wrong thing.

We shouldn’t be outraged by his racist remarks. His racist attitude wasn’t a secret. People have known about it. Racism isn’t new to this country, and it certainly isn’t going to disappear any time soon.

In fact, the whole idea of freedom in this country is that people are allowed to believe and speak what they believe without fear of punishment. That means you can believe any idiocy you want to believe. You can share that idiocy with others, and you won’t have action taken against you.

Is Sterling an idiot? Clearly. He has a fight with his 1/2 Latina 1/2 African American girlfriend about his negative feelings towards minorities. As the owner of an NBA team he doesn’t want his girlfriend to be advertising that she hangs out with brown-skinned people. Yes, this man is an imbecile.

But that’s his right!

Stop calling for his team to be taken away from him. He owns it. You can respond by not buying Clippers merchandise. You can refuse to attend games. But don’t threaten punitive action for someone’s personal (even though idiotic) beliefs. It opens the door for action against faith groups – it’s a dangerous road to walk.

That’s not what we should be outraged about.

What we SHOULD be outraged about is a married man who has a girlfriend on the side. But nobody is saying a word about this. Why are we not upset about this man flagrantly living an adulterous life?

We seem to have selective morality here. We’ll ignore the girlfriend part but, WHAT’S THIS! HE MADE RACIST COMMENTS?!? CRUCIFY HIM!

As a white man married to a brown-skinned woman, I found his racist comments to be disgusting. I couldn’t even listen to the whole audio clip. But I’m not gonna change the opinion of a racist old white dude. His opinions are his to own. That’s his right.

I just wish we would get outraged about the right things.

Why Disney’s Frozen Will Destroy Your Soul!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme.

Still…the message being sent out by the main song isn’t a great message.

You know the song – “Let It Go.”

If you’re a female under the age of 12 you’ve got the whole thing memorized the way school children use to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance.

As an adult you may not have it memorized but if you have an internet connection you’ve at least HEARD of the song.

Here, have a listen:

I guess my real problem is just with one single stanza:

It’s time to see what I can do,
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me – I’m free

This is a horrible message to be sending to people!

I’m a big believer in Xian Liberty. That is to say, there are many aspects of human behavior the Bible doesn’t address that fall under personal conscious and freedom. At the same time we cannot escape the fact that there IS right and wrong. God doesn’t say, “Anything goes, guys – just be good people and you’re in!”

Even the New Testament, with all of Paul’s “freedom from the law” talk, still contains sin lists and standards of acceptable and unacceptable behavior for people of faith.

Now we have a generation of young people belting out, “No right, no wrong, no rules for me – I’m free!”

We forget that no right, no wrong, and no rules merely leads to anarchy and chaos. Then the strong dominate and the weak die off. It’s a horrible system when you apply it to all of humanity.

In the end, no, I don’t think Frozen will actually destroy your soul. But I do get concerned about the ideals that pop culture is putting into the heads of young people.

So I choose to use the lyrics as an entry point for conversation with my kids. Let’s talk about right and wrong and rules. I’ll use Frozen like Paul uses the Statue to the Unknown God in Acts 17. Perhaps I’ll be able to get through to my kids the kind of life God desires them to live.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch Frozen with my daughter for the 10th time 😐

In the meantime, have a laugh with these other bits poking fun at Frozen…

Earth Day: You Haven’t Even Read The Post and You’re Already Judging

Yes. This right here…

The Anon Church

As I’m writing this post (April 22), it’s Earth Day. A day, by and large in the culture, devoted to considering the impact we’re having on the environment. Now before you shoot me down, let me tell you that I’m not about to go save any whales. But rather, I pose to you a query:

Why aren’t Christians making a bigger deal about this?

Now, my friends on the right would protest and say that it’s simply a Greenpeace initiative to support the liberal agenda… A fair assumption.

However, my friends on the left would rebut by saying that somebody’s got to call attention to the mistreatment of the planet… Also fair.

So here is my argument: Christians have even…

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You Young Whippersnapper!

Have you ever had that job that was simply the toughest job you’ve ever had to deal with?

For me that’s parenting. HARD! There’s the constant battling over little, itty-bitty things. Things like simply putting on appropriate clothing.

 

But all kidding aside, the Bible puts responsibility for training kids squarely upon our shoulders. Parents are told to train their kids in God’s ways, to talk about it in the home, on the road, everywhere. The Bible points out that if you do the right things when the kids are young they won’t stray far as adults.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a promise from God. Sometimes parents do everything right and kids still choose the wrong paths. But there is a general principle – a truism – that says when we instill things in our kids then those things will stay with them.

One of my favorite folk songs is Teach Your Children, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by.
And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a good bye.
Teach, your children well, their father’s hell, did slowly go by,
And feed, them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you’re known by.

One thing we want our children to learn and care about is their education (spiritual and secular). So we talk about things at the dinner table. We ask what they’ve been talking about in Sunday School. We ask about spelling tests, books they’ve read – stuff like that.

We’ve found that turning learning into a game has worked really well. For example, we play a game called “First Letters.” We pick a letter of the alphabet. Then we go around the table clockwise and each person has to come up with word beginning with that letter (kids can come up with anything, parents have to come up with a word with at least 3 syllables).

Simple, but it is a fun way to talk about words and learning.

All said and done, school and church can only do so much to train kids. It’s really up to us: the parents (and also relatives, friends, and church families). When we engage kids in their learning they’ve got a much better shot of holding onto it as they grow up.

And for faith and for facts, this is a good thing.

Sound off! How have you helped kids engage in learning (sacred or secular)?

Happy Easter, White Jesus

Ain't Nobody Like This Buddy

Ain’t Nobody Like This Buddy

Remember last Christmas when there was a minor kerfuffle going on with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. She was talking about an author who wanted to do away with the idea of a white Santa. Ms. Kelly found the idea to be ludicrous and insisted that there are some people whose ethnicity you cannot touch. Jesus, for example, was a white guy – you can’t change what it is.

Here it is…

Now, here’s the thing. There were a lot of people making fun of Ms. Kelly. I even cracked a few jokes like:

Of COURSE Jesus was white. Who on earth would want to worship a middle eastern Jew?

Please understand that the previous sentence is a joke – I’m not serious. The simple fact of the matter is that Jesus was a middle eastern Jew.

In the midst of the discussion about Ms. Kelly’s goof there were some accusations of racism. We need to be careful about the words we use, because I don’t think racism is at play here.

Racism is treating people as inferior because of their race.

What happened on Fox News was not about inferiority. It wasn’t racism. It was racial bias but not racism. And racial bias is normal. It is a normal human trait to imagine stories from our own perspectives. When we read our imaginations usually make the characters look like us. Even when the author is clear about a character’s description we will often overlook that description in our heads.

There were many fans of The Hunger Games who were upset when the character Rue was cast as a little black girl. They failed to recognize the description the author provided and filled in their own gaps from their own perspectives….

The story of Jesus is no different. We don’t have any photos of the man, so we are left to use our imaginations to see him. Left to ourselves, we fill in the blank spots from our own experiences, culture, and background.

Megyn Kelly wasn’t being racist. Ignorant, sure, but not racist (and honestly, it’s hard not to see Jesus as white when the majority of sacred art we’re exposed to is European…).

One of my most prized possessions is a book called “The Life of Jesus” (1978, Buechner and Boltin). I don’t think it’s in print any more, but you can get it used on Amazon.

It’s the story of Jesus combined with sacred art from around the world. Let me show you some famous art of Jesus…

Christ Crowned with Thorns. Wood. Philippines, 20th Century

Christ Crowned with Thorns. Wood. Philippines, 20th Century

Virgin and Child. Oil on Canvas. Uruguay, 20th Century.

Virgin and Child. Oil on Canvas. Uruguay, 20th Century.

The Last Supper. Crayon on Paper. U.S.A., Contemporary.

The Last Supper. Crayon on Paper. U.S.A., Contemporary.

Mother of Divine Grace. Textile. Japan, Contemporary.

Mother of Divine Grace. Textile. Japan, Contemporary.

Crucifixion. Bronze. Italy, 1933.

Crucifixion. Bronze. Italy, 1933.

Adoration of the Magi. Rome, circa 200.

Adoration of the Magi. Rome, circa 200.

The Holy Family. Painting on Silk. Japan, 20th Century.

The Holy Family. Painting on Silk. Japan, 20th Century.

We all tend to fashion the Bible from our own background. Is it wrong to see Jesus as a white guy? As Japanese? As African? Historically, sure – he was a middle eastern Jew. But the whole point of the Incarnation is that Christ is WITH us. God is not far away and removed – He is one of us. So the God who left heaven to be like me might look like me. What other god ever bothered to become like us?

The mystery and magnificence of YAHWEH is the Incarnation. His name is Emmanuel, which means: God with us.

Ms. Kelly should have apologized for her cultural bias and ignorance but I don’t fault her for seeing Jesus from her background and heritage. I don’t really expect my blog will ever cross her path, but if you do know her send her the link, okay? 😉

This Easter season take some time to reflect on the idea that God cares enough for us to become like us. To feel like us. To suffer like us. To die like us.

Yes, even to look like us.

How To Complain and Still Seem Holy

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Xians are good at complaining. We’ll complain about anything that goes against what we want or think is the “right way” to do something. The problem is that complainers get a bad reputation in the eyes of others. There must be a way, then, to complain without actually looking like you’re complaining.

Good news – there is!

If you do it right, you can complain your little heart out and still maintain the appearance of righteousness.

Here’s how:

1. Disguise the complaint in language about “care and concern.” Like this:

“Pastor, you know how much I care about our church, but I’m really concerned when I see ________.”

2. Cleverly lead others to come to the point where they agree and believe that your complaint is also their complaint, then urge them to talk to the pastor about it. Like this:

“Fred, did you ever notice ________.”
“I never thought about it before, but you’re right, Jim!”
“That just doesn’t seem right. What do you think ought to be done about it, Fred?”
“Shoot! I’ll go tell the pastor to jump on it right away, Jim!”

3. Send anonymous cards and letters to slowly emotionally cripple your pastor. Like this:

“I’m so sorry to hear that you’re leaving town. You are leaving, right?”

Follow these steps and you’ll be fast on your way to being among the most righteously ungodly complainer in the congregation.

Never Lose Jesus Again!

Jesus Chain

Tired of people asking if you’ve found Jesus? Perhaps you never should have lost him. We know, we know – he can be a slippery character. He’s elusive. But now you NEVER have to worry!

With our patent pending “Jesus Chain” you’ll never lose him again. Take him to the park. Take him to work. Heck, you can even take him to church with you.

The next time someone asks, “Have you found Jesus?” just give a tug on your chain and say, “Not only have I found him, but he’s not getting out any more!”

Order your “Jesus Chain” today and make sure you never lose your Jesus again.

*From the makers of “Eternal Security Deadbolts” and “Sack-Religious Kitchen Trash Bags”

Xians Say the Dumbest Things

We really do.

Sometimes we joke about it an call it Xian-ese, but there’s really a dialect within Western English that is unique to Protestant faith. Not being Roman Catholic I can’t speak for them. I can only hope that they don’t share some of the same expressions we do.

One of the goofy ones: praying for a hedge of protection.

As if God is a great cosmic gardener.

Hedge of Protection

I know that people who don’t speak the language hear us talking and just shake their heads. “Yup – them there Xians are talking again. Can’t understand a dadblamed thing they’re saying.”

It’s not that I really care about it individual words. My biggest problem is that we have created language that clearly identifies one as in-group or out-group. If you speak the language you’re one of the insiders. Everyone else is excluded – kept at a distance. It’s difficult to win people over when you keep them at arm’s length. How can we possibly meet people where they are when our language is pushing them away? If the Apostle Paul’s behavior in 17 is any example, we should be building bridges to where people are utilizing THEIR lives – THEIR language.

So, whatcha think? What dumb things have YOU heard Xians say?