More than a bumper sticker faith

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We need to have some new answers. If someone asks if you are a Christian today, your answer is going to depend a lot on what that person thinks a Christian is. Based on that, you might want to say no. There are so many wrong ideas of Christianity out there now that it’s like stepping through a minefield to just try and talk about faith in Christ in the marketplace. If people have gotten their idea of what a Christian is from the media and a few bumper stickers, well there just isn’t enough room on a bumper to explain it.

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Getting Jesus right

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Yesterday’s title was “Getting the right Jesus.” This is a little different. Having the right Jesus is one thing. “Getting Jesus right” is something else. It’s all about keeping Jesus in His image, not making Him into ours. This is one of the greatest temptations in following Christ — Making Jesus in our image.

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Getting the right Jesus

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Jesus, circa 1971

When God moves upon a generation, divisions dissolve. Denominations become irrelevant. All that matters is: Do you know Jesus? Jesus is the central figure in the church, in the Bible, and, indeed, in all of human history. We calculate the date by when Jesus was here. Nor is Jesus the sole possession of any particular group. No one has an inside track on Jesus. Jesus comes to us by way of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, which is how you will know if you have the right Jesus.

 

 

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Caring about justice

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The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. (Proverbs 29:7)

A quick perusal of the use of the word “justice” in the Bible reveals something that is key to the nature of God. “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing” (Isaiah 61:8). Numerous times He is called a God of justice. Now about half the time this is tied to championing what is right and the judgment of wrongdoing, but half the time it is tied to the innocent, the poor and to foreigners — in other words, people who are not likely to receive justice or fair treatment. “Do not pervert justice or show partiality” (Deuteronomy 16:19).

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‘Come and see’

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Evangelism and discipleship are two big words for what Christians do for those who are Christians and those who are not. Traditionally, we “evangelize” those who are not Christians and “disciple” those who are. And there are countless strategies that have been developed for each of these down through the years, championed by pastors and lay people who have had lots of success with either, and each one claiming to be better and more relevant to the current culture than the last. And yet, I would like to suggest there is one simple biblical strategy that works the best for all aspects of ministry in any culture and any age, and it consists of three simple “Dick and Jane” size words:

“Come and see.”

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Finding a way forward

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Andy wrote me praying for healing for our country and that we might find “compassion, empathy and tolerance to be our guide forward.” I like his choice of words, and believe that if we can take on these attitudes ourselves, we will go a long way towards being part of the solution rather than adding to the problem in our communities and neighborhoods.

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Posted in community, diversity, grace turned outward, racism | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Freedom train comin’

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Velvalea Hortense Rodgers “Vel” Phillips (1923 – 2018) was an American attorney, politician, jurist, and Civil Rights activist, who served as an alderperson and judge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as Secretary of State of Wisconsin (1978-1982), often as the first woman and/or African-American in her position.

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. Isaiah 10:1-2

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. Matthew 23:23

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:24

Justice is a big deal with God. The word is used 130 times in the Bible, 115 times in the Old Testament — 30 times in Isaiah alone. (And that is just the English word, “justice.” There are many other times justice and injustice are spoken of using other words or concepts that mean basically the same thing.) Justice is high on God’s list of values; right up there with righteousness, mercy, faithfulness and love. It is impossible to ignore in the scriptures.

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Posted in Christianity and politics, diversity, freedom, gospel of welcome, grace turned outward, politics, racism | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

We need to be uncomfortable

by Elizabeth Shirk

Elizabeth is our new “millennial writer.” She lives in inner city Chicago where her father is a “missionary” to the art culture there. Elizabeth recently graduated from college with honors and is pursuing a career in teaching. Their home is within earshot of some of the recent rioting. <emshirk00@gmail.com>

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Trinity is a beautiful, intelligent, courageous black teenager. She has participated in peaceful protests several times over the last few days, calling for justice. I had the opportunity to watch this beautiful young woman on a Facebook Livestream the other day. Her words stopped me in my tracks.

We need to be uncomfortable.

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Posted in community, diversity, pandemic, racism | Tagged , | 7 Comments