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12/27/2011

A FACEBOOK KIND OF FAITH

Social networking is a vital and dynamic element in modern 21st century society.  We Facebook, we email, we text, we instant message, we Twitter, we Google+ and probably something else which has not yet been invented! Christians tend to be very purpose driven in their use of these tools.  Christians post scriptures, positive motivational posters, and communicate on religious themes or social issues via a spiritual lens.

This "Facebook Faith" is also frequently lacking in any humor, narrow in its tolerance or acceptance of people with different beliefs, and unable to communicate beyond that bumper sticker-hit and run faith communication.  Like emails which delight in catching "them" (whoever they might be) out, these posters often seem to also approach communication via a Teddy Roosevelt inspired evangelism...type ponderously and sling a super sized Bible.   

Just sharing a Bible verse may satisfy some inner drive to 'share the gospel' but few outside the faith will even read those posts and de-friending will commence.  Sharing a frustration or common experience and reflecting a dependence on God is a better witness.  Some will complain, some may leave,  but your cyber witness will leave a memory of someone in life who reaches out in faith and not just someone spouting verses and dispensing Bible thumping answers.

The Bible invited..."come let us reason together" which infers a discussion, a meeting of disparate minds and varied attitudes.  


12/21/2011

FAITH AND LEARNING

Sometimes in life people try to keep their spiritual life and professional life apart.  They are like two rooms kept for opposing and specific purpose. When we wish to be "spiritual" we go to the Bible.   When we wish to be professional we go to readings addressing professional development.

Many Christian institutions of higher learning are committed to the idea of integrating faith and learning. This means that the two rooms are open and connected allowing a free flow of influence. Spirituality informs how we understand and apply the knowledge we gain.  It provides the values, motives, and behaviors for the professional life.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible argued that the true soul of the artist is always visible in the art they produce.   The same came be said of the academic process when learning and faith are engaged together in consideration of any academic subject.

The lessons and values of scripture are the measuring stick by which we can evaluate and interpret decisions, processes, and in historical or political studies, explore how it influenced those making social or political history.

Rather than being two separate compartments, or rooms, in the integration of faith and learning the two have a healthy and solid relationship.

Scripture is the base and is used to measure the values, actions, problems, and challenges expressed in the text.  Spiritual life is personal but it is lived in a highly public and political environment. 

To adapt Schaeffer's words: "the true soul of the Christian will be seen in the life they live; the true soul of the nation will be seen in the laws and society it creates."

"The logic and knowledge from every discipline is built upon a set of presuppositions. All such presuppositions must be examined and informed by the truth derived from the revealed Word of God and Christian thinking founded on a Christocentric epistemology, so as to create a coherent body of knowledge, i.e., faith informs all of learning’s presuppositional thinking.” (RW, 2009).

Key Biblical Texts: Romans 12:1-2 and Colossians 1:17.

12/18/2011

BEARING FALSE WITNESS

One of the commandments enjoins people of God to not bear false witness against another person. Fingers are pointed to Potipher's Wife as examples of this sin. Today, could be added the thoughtless forwarding of emails whose sole desire is to discredit a politician or political party. 

 These are forwarded often with barely concealed glee at having "caught" someone or in having gotten the "upper hand". Yet the Bible tells us to do something very different:  (Proverbs 27:17) "do not delight when your enemy falls"; 1 Cor. 13:6 urges people to avoid delighting in evil or when one is caught in evil; As I have loved you, so you must love one another(John 13:34). ... Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14).

For example the President's birth certificate.  Challenges to the birth certificate released by the White House is based on three things: 1) The name of the hospital, 2) the name of the birth country of his father, and 3) the use of the term "African" to refer to his father.  Passing this type of information along without verifying the truth or in order to delight in error is not the act of a person of faith. People can question, can learn, and can be silence.

What is the truth?  The hospital name was in use at the time of the birth, 2) the name "Kenya" can be found on a 1924 World Atlas and so it is evident the name was in use in the early 1960's, 3) and the term "African" was sometimes used for people born in Africa as opposed to those born in North America.

So stop and think before  forwarding some of those posts. More are incorrect and generated in order to malign or bear false witness. Do not contribute to that.

12/17/2011

NOT THE MONEY - BUT THE LOVE OF MONEY

In recent months there has been a lot of protest about the rich vs the poor. The people who have a lot and those who wish they did.  The people who are guilty at having things and those willing to increase their guilt.  The issue is something else.

A recent television program looked at lottery winners - ordinary people who suddenly found they has 3 to 93 million dollars.  Some were even near homeless when they won.  As one might expect they immediately rewarded themselves with their new found wealth.  Yet, as one man went through his mansion casually tossing off spending $80,000 dollars on a set of dolls for his wife, $160,000 for two chests, buying 24 classic cars and providing them with space.  All the toys and self-indulgence was a little cloying.  

Excess is, after all, excess.  

The problem with wealth is never acquiring the wealth (if done legally) but in what is done with the wealth once acquired.  

For all the bad reputation of the old "Robber Barons" of the late 19th century they left a legacy of hospitals, libraries, churches, schools, parks, opera buildings, and many other things.

It was called "noblesse oblige", the idea that if you had been blessed with financial riches or other advantages, you were obligated to enrich your world through good deeds.  

When it is considered - each of us is blessed with something and some advantage - we too should feel obligated to enrich the world through service and contribution to those in need.  To begin working to help improve life for all.  It is a cycle of mutual support, skill building, self-sufficiency, and giving.  Instead of demanding what others have, or hoarding what one has, the goal of life should be to do the best you can and be willing to help others.  

As the saying goes - 'live simply so others may simply life.  The Bible had two important sentiments - the love of money is the root of all evil and it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Balance those two and there is a recipe for a successful and happy life.

12/12/2011

THE CHURCH OF PEOPLE

A recent trend is emerging to bring men back to the church, to destroy the feminized church which drives away red-blooded men, and to create 'men-friendly' congregations.

The proponents point to 'foo-foo' decor, sensitive emotional music, and services and ministries designed to get in touch with the softer side of God.    This attempt to 'man cave' the church is not a way to dominate women, they say, but to liberate men.

"Ten Ways to Man Up Your Church" offers some interesting ideas but also infers some interesting things as well.  What is required is a "manly pastor" - therefore no woman can be a pastor of men simply because they fail in the "manly" category.  This also infers that most male pastors are lacking in the testosterone category as well.  An insult to many fine male pastors.  Next, things should be done excellently or not at all.  Another slap in the face of any group anywhere.  Also, an easy "out" to not do it.  Reminds me of someone whose idea of "picnic" was always so over the top, you would have had to cook for a week to prepare for it, and save a month to pay for it. Simple sandwiches and fun would not do. How many picnics did the family take?  None.  This may not be the end result of the strive for excellence but it could be.  It could also lead to a competitive approach to church..."Now, I want you to go out there this morning for this service, and give a 110%!!!"     Issues of giving men "space" and "speaking plain prayers" are valid and needed regardless of gender!   The imperative to respect men's time and avoiding services which drag on and on....are equally applicable to either gender.  Women probably enjoy long drawn out services no less than men.  There should be equal respect and honor of time.  

The basic issue is what have we made of church?  

What would a church decorated by men look like?  A military barracks or monk's cell devoid of anything of the arts or comfort?  Would it look like a ubiquitous sports bar?   Or, the teenage boy's never cleaned room?   Would it be finely appointed or mimalist?   Would it appeal only to men?  

Would every sermon be filled with sport metaphors and stories?  Every prayer time take on the look and feel of a huddle?  Would the sanctuary evolve into a men's area around a large screen TV with recliners with women in kitchen or out shopping?  

Barna research group indicates, though, women are also leaving the church.   It may not be just a gender issue, but a relevance issue.   It is not easy to manage, program, and plan for a church of both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, and the like.  Too many churches have become like cruise ships offering diverse entertainments and activities to fill the time.  We have built long traditions of what has to be in a church service.

Instead of genderizing church even more, even in the name of balance, perhaps the emphasis should be on reshaping church into a more relevant, New Testament place of worship, training, and community.

12/11/2011

Winter Poem. M.A.Hudson

It is the coldest time of the year.
Did anyone think to bring any cheer?
It is the time of sadness everyplace.
Did you try to bring a smile to a face?
There is fear and loneliness everywhere.
Did you help to eradicate despair?
Kindness and peace are in short supply.
Did anyone stop to wonder why?
The long chilly night seems without end.
Will you bring warmth or more bitter wind?
We all hold a candle without any flame.
Will we find the match or bring more of the same?

12/10/2011

THE CHRISTMAS PHILODENDRON

With two teenage boys, my husband and I took a church in a small town several hundred miles away from where we had been living for many years.  He would be attending seminary and would pastor the church.  All was strange, new, and the pocketbook a little on the lean side.   We had left some items in storage because we could not move them and hoped to be able to return for them.  They included a tree, ornaments, and some 'extras' we felt were so important to make Christmas real.  As the holiday approached though, unexpected expenses made it impossible to retrieve the items in storage before Christmas.  In a feeble attempt to keep up the spirit of Christmas, we decorated a large green philodendron in a wicker pot given as a house warming gift by a family in the church.  

Tiny gold bulbs and small colored lights flickered on the plant.  We laughed as we sang, "Oh, Philodendron" and our version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Plant".  We piled our modest gifts around its base telling each other we were discovering the real Christmas.  We created a new tradition of a Christmas eve party after the Christmas Eve Communion Service.   The small treats, special breads, and candies given as gifts from co-workers, church people, and employers, we had saved and spread them out for our party.  We played games, watched Christmas movies, and had fun - despite the lack of a tree.   The gifts were simple and meager but the food was good and the feeling festive.   

Sometimes circumstances make it hard to bring the dream up to the level of reality.  Money gets short, stresses sap a joyful attitude, and disappointment is the norm; hope may be a mere memory.  Attempts to substitute plants for a tree brimming with memories of good times and abundance fall far short.  

So what do we do? Do we give in and say "I cannot do this or this because I [have no money, have no job, have no hope, have no joy, have no love, just fill in the blanks]?"

The following Christmas was much different -  normalcy was restored - the Earth no longer tilted out of balance.    We looked at the green plant as we decorated a traditional tree.   But - we kept the family party because what we learned was it was the family that was important and while we were laughing, eating, playing games, and watching funny old movies - we never looked at that Christmas philodendron a single time.


It was the people and not the tree that made Christmas  what it needed to be for everyone.

Biography

Biography
Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God
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Contact Information

If you would like more information on implementing a Daughters of Huldah or a Sisters of Huldah group in your church or community, or in starting a RFA chapter please contact:

Marilyn A. Hudson
marilynahudsonATyahoo.com
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