What does your worldview do for the world?

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Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT)

Worldview is critical to our thinking if we want to reach everyone, everywhere with the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward. So it’s important that we check in from time to time on how we are doing with our own personal worldview. The worldview most commonly associated with Christians today does not serve our vision, so we have to be smart.

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Posted in Christianity and politics, Religious freedom, Worldview | Tagged | 3 Comments

The miracle of forgiveness

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Catch MemberPartner, Robert, from Seattle, shared with us a “sore thumb” story about forgiveness. The story was featured on TV, so it reached a large number of people and makes a statement that no sermon could ever equal. And even though it took place 14 years ago, the story is still playing on the internet. Indeed, it’s a story that’s living on and teaching still today, and here we are about to learn from it.

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Posted in Friendship, grace, grace turned outward | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Sticking out like a sore thumb

OIP-28How does it feel to be a sore thumb? Notice I said to be a sore thumb? We’ve all had a sore thumb before but I’m talking about being one.

If you care for the hurting, the hungry and the homeless, you will stick out. If you care for the immigrant, you will stick out. If you defend the defenseless, you will stick out. Whatever political side you are on, if you reach out to the other side, you will stick out. If you refuse to take part in racial slurs or ethnic jokes, you will stick out. If you find something good to say about people others perceive as bad, you will stick out. If someone tries to take the shirt off your back and you give them your coat, too, you will stick out. If you come down on the side of mercy for people who deserve punishment, you will stick out. If you give people a second chance, you will stick out. If someone forces you to go one mile and you go two, you will stick out. If you try to understand those who are different from you, you will stick out. If you do something nice for your enemy, you will stick out. If you pray for those who are against you, you will stick out. If you turn the other cheek, you will stick out.

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Posted in Christianity and politics, grace turned outward | 4 Comments

Justice, freedom and love

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I’d (hammer, ring, sing) out danger

I’d (hammer, ring, sing) out a warning

I’d (hammer, ring, sing) out love between

My brothers and my sisters

All over this land

 

It’s the hammer of justice

It’s the bell of freedom

It’s the song about love between

My brothers and my sisters

All over this land

from “The Hammer Song” by Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes

“The Hammer Song” — originally written in 1949 in support of the progressive movement in America — turned into “If I Had A Hammer” in 1962 as recorded by Peter Paul & Mary and became a banner song of the civil rights movement. (Click on picture below for a link to PP&M’s performance of the song during the historic march on Washington.) Whatever it meant politically in 1949 in support of a small, third party movement, it took on a higher calling in the ‘60s, championing three things at the top of God’s list for humanity in general — freedom, justice and love.

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Posted in diversity, freedom, kingdom of God | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The high road

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“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What an appropriate time to remember Martin Luther King. On the eve of what looks to be a bitter and contentious debate here in America, I can’t think of a better time for the example of this passionate, prophetic, even-handed, unifying voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be heard and heeded.

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Posted in diversity, freedom | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Sinners “R” them (or us?)

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This has been a tough week for me. I’ve been trying to grasp and write about mercy but it’s been alluding me. Twice I’ve had to abandon my first attempt at a Catch because it didn’t get by my first critic — my wife — sending me writing well into the afternoon, which I can’t afford the time to do. I think I may have to admit I’m far more of a Pharisee than I thought. My book 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me) comes to mind. We had to add “like me” to the title to announce a personal connection with this struggle. Once a drunk, always a drunk, they say, you just stop drinking. So, once a Pharisee, always a Pharisee, you just stop judging and separating yourself from sinners.

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Posted in Dealing with sin, Friendship | Tagged | 2 Comments

Love and mercy

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Brian Wilson, mastermind of the famous Beach Boy sound, says he was in his piano room playing “What the World Needs Now” when he got the idea for his 1988 song, “Love and Mercy.” He went on to say that he poured his heart into this song and that it was the most spiritual song he has ever written. Marti and I have been thinking about that song ever since we started thinking about mercy this week. As in, “I desire mercy more than sacrifice.” I want to share that song with you today.

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Posted in God's love, grace | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Getting inside out, and letting outside in

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Thanks to Catch citizen John Fagliano for the following quote from Tim Keller in line with yesterday’s Catch about God desiring mercy over sacrifice.

Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church.

That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.

Hearing Keller’s comments brought to mind an experience I had last summer attending a concert at Hollywood Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California by a singer/songwriter friend of mine from early Jesus Music days. I thought it would be a fun surprise reunion having not seen him for years. I took with me a professor from Biola University whom I knew loved that era of music. It turned out to be everything I hoped but there was a unique twist to the evening as well.

As we drove into the church campus, we passed under a freeway overpass that had been turned into tent city for the homeless. There must have been 20 or 30 people camped there less than a block from the church. It created a stark contrast — the juxtaposition of tent city next to the staid brick Gothic structure established in 1923. It was the broken and marginalized up against the buttoned-down.

On our way home that night, the prof and I talked about what it would have been like to invite the homeless people outside to the free concert inside. They would have loved it, and the people inside would have loved them. Barriers would have been broken down. Us/them thinking would have been defeated. The stereotypes Keller spoke of would have evaporated. But why didn’t we? Why didn’t I? I thought of it, but talked myself out of it by not wanting to disrupt my friend’s concert. However, the real reason was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of hostility from people less fortunate than me. Fear of crossing the line.

We’ve got to get over this, people. We are all one big “We.” There is no “us” and “them.”  We are all in need — the people in the tents, and the people in the pews. We are all much more the same than we are different. We need to get the inside out and let the outside in. Let the church truly be the church of saved sinners — diverse but so much the same.

In a poignant commentary on this situation, one of my favorite songs by the songwriter from that concert is about Jesus clearing the temple of hucksters of religious wares and it ends with these words: “Jesus, He came on through here today and asked everyone to leave.”

Jesus drove the religious hypocrites out and brought in the needy, the sinners and the marginalized. When we welcome these, we welcome everyone.

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Posted in church, diversity | Tagged , | 5 Comments