Healing…

This is a small taste of my soap-box rant from this mornings message:

We’re so desperate to find healing, wholeness, and positive affirmations that we’ll look anywhere for it…church, the Bible (these are good places to search)…but when we feel like those are coming up empty, we consult other religions (maybe they have the answer), we ring up our local psychic, we look to  Oprah’s book club, books, like the Secret (a NY Times Best seller), these books tell us that if we just think good things, good things will happen. The truth is, if  we want to find healing…we need to look to the Source of healing…and not fill our minds with Oprah’s trash. But, it’s not just Oprah’s book club that perverts what wholeness is all about…just visit the Christian bookstore and look at the bestsellers. You’ll find books about experiencing “Your Best Life Now” These books tell us what we want to hear. They tell us to run after the things we want because God wants you to have them. It tells you to think good, happy thoughts and good, happy things will happen. Because, after all, God wants you to have your best life now.  I don’t want to shatter this for you…but, have you read the Bible? Your best life now? Is that what this is all about? Because when I read the Scriptures…it talks about not storing up treasures in this world, but in heaven…it talks about how our best life isn’t in the now…our best life is in the world to come. Does God want us to enjoy life? Sure! But, he also told us to expect trials, temptations, persecution, suffering, pain… We’re in need of healing and wholeness and the only One capable of giving us what we need is our Heavenly Father.

Outcasts

Who are the people you avoid? Who are the people that if you see them on the street you attempt to avoid any kind of contact (verbal, physical, eye)? Why do we avoid these people?

In Jesus’ day, he seemed to spend a great deal of time with the people the religious folks avoided. Sinners…unclean folks…this is who Jesus would hang out with. Yet, I spend most of my time with “good, clean religious folks.” There’s a big gap in who Jesus was/is and who I am.

I’ve been dealing with a couple of texts this week that have me thinking about the people I avoid. Why do I avoid them? Is it my own fear and insecurities? Am I too concerned about what the church would think if they heard I was spending time with the outcasts of our day?

Jesus called His followers to go into the world and make disciples of all people…not just the clean folks…not just the people who are “just like me”…not just the people I’m comfortable with…the call was to share the Good News with everyone…even the people that we desire to avoid. Sometimes, the people I most desire to avoid are the very people who desperately need to hear the Good News. And, that’s a tough word to receive.

Yes Sir!

Surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed the MIA, TI, Lil’ Wayne, Kanye, and Jay-Z performance at the Grammy’s! And, I’m looking forward to the Radiohead performance. Kanye was also on point with Estelle. Jennifer Hudson brought the house to its feet…and my wife to the verge of tears. Chris Martin and Jay Z was an interesting mix…quite enjoyable. Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney! Most know I’m not a big Beatles fan…but I dig the Foo and Nirvana…so I’m enjoying watching Dave Grohl have fun. I found the Stevie Wonder and Jonas Brothers mix to be just weird. But, wonder was incredible! Taylor Swift definitely out-classed and out-performed Miley Cyrus (no surprise there). Unfortunately, I missed the U2 performance…of course, I can always watch it later. Carrie Underwood was pretty much what one would expect. Katy Perry proved that she is only in the business because she’s willing to kiss girls and sing songs about it over and over and over…oh, and wear next to nothing doing it. If I feel so inclined, I’ll post some thoughts on the other performances.

Additional: Just watched the Radiohead performance. Yeah, Thom Yorke pretty much killed it. Those USC band kids pretty much just experienced a career highlight. “Performed with Radiohead at the Grammy’s” looks pretty good on a resume! Neil Diamond…not bad. Bo Didley tribute…decent. JT and TI…not impressed. Lil’ Wayne, Robin Thicke, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band…extremely surprising (I really liked it). Oh, Ne-Yo continually impresses me. His voice is just so smooth. He does some incredible stuff…but makes it look and sound so easy…he doesn’t force anything (unlike Jamie Foxx…who does a decent job…but he really pushes…and he has to be one of the most annoying celebrities of all-time…extremely talented, extremely egotistical). And, Smokey Robinson…the man can sing. How old is he anyway?

Bind & Loose

Several times over the last two weeks, while studying or doing devotional reading, I have come across two verses of Scriptures that have caused me to do a great deal of thinking about various issues.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus says, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In the second verse, from John 20:23, Jesus says, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.”

What are we binding on the earth? What are we loosening on the earth? Are these things that we should be binding or loosening?

What are we forgiving? What are we refusing to forgive? Are we forgiving the right things? Are we refusing to forgive the right things?

What do these passages say to us about issues like gay marriage, abortion, war, torture, corporate greed, white collar crime, etc?

These two verses don’t stand alone. They are surrounded by many other important verses. I tend to not be one who grabs one verse and focuses on it. But, over the last two weeks, these two verses have grabbed me. These two verses have been challenging my thinking on issues…both major and minor.

I feel that, at times, the Church (mainly the religious leaders) have been in the business of binding and loosening, forgiving and not forgiving the wrong things. I’m afraid that we have picked the wrong battles. I’m fearful that we’ve had too narrow of a focus. And, we’ve helped create a Christian culture that is more consumed in what we are binding and not forgiving than in what we should be doing.

There are many in the church who are more concerned that two men might join together in a civil union than they are that the divorce rate among Christians is rapidly increasing or that people…children will die tonight because they don’t have clean water or enough food. I’d like to see the Church rise up to stand “for” something, rather than “against” something. We are at our loudest when it comes to gay marriage and abortion. Yet, we are all too silent when it comes to hunger, AIDS, war, torture, greed, divorce, mis-treatment of God’s creation, and so on.

What can we do to make sure we are binding and loosing the right things?