Pondering… Numbers and Community

It has long been a concern of mine that people have been reduced to numbers and statistics. It has come more to light recently in the debate over the proposed Indianapolis (2014) city budget. I personally admit to not liking numbers, because at times they can be overwhelming to me in the light of some health issues that I struggle with. But since this is not about me, let me get on to what I believe the point is.
The point is that we can make the/our numbers say whatever we want them to say as we nuance them to fit what we are trying to accomplish.
It is disturbing to me that this is often done at the expense of the very people those numbers represent. We have seen one whole new people group being created; *the free and reduced lunch students group and we use our numbers to represent that group, these kids need our help we say and again we nuance our numbers to meet our agendas, saying it is all for them. I am left to wonder how we are truly serving that people group.
One wonders how any work can get done at all in a political arena that functions under these conditions, instead of serving people we are serving groups/numbers, and most everyone seems to have their favorite. We have depersonalized a process which was never meant to be depersonalized. We have made it about different groups/numbers and not about the overall community, and in this process we have destroyed any real sense of community; a community which is both God ordained and constituted in the founding documents of our republic. We all are a people created for community, but that very community is being destroyed through a political process of number manipulation; people have been conditioned to believe that they are all different and that they cannot exist outside of their own people group (and some have been lumped into several different groups so that any sense of identity has been lost). Their only hope is that someone will be there to fight for them, let us fight for you they have been told and in the end they relinquish the power to fight for themselves. This ultimately leads to a cycle of perpetual hopelessness, destroying communities and neighborhoods. It is at point that the tables are truly turned over on them, they are told that if you would only come together as a community or neighborhood we will come to your aid. But they have no knowledge, ability, power or resources to do so, and so we abandon them on this island of despair that we have created for them. Numbers never lie they have been told and you just don’t have the numbers. But we are more than numbers they pleadingly say and their cry falls on deaf ears, until the time comes again when their number might be needed.

*any people group and comments on that group can be included here

Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream for Community

gary:

As we approach the celebration of King’s birth to honor both his memory and legacy.

Originally posted on Brothergary's Weblog:

Martin Luther King Jr. I have a Dream Speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs) has long stood in my mind as a source of inspiration; it was a great speech, a rallying call for a people, for all people to come together in community, in a community that God intended for us all, where we could all live together and work together for the good of the whole. I believe that in the generations since while his message has made a difference, a generation of people (all people) was changed forever, and future generations of all people are reaping its rewards. But King’s dream I feel for many was for another day and time; that its vision has been fulfilled, believing that; all that it would accomplish, had/has been accomplished. Those who believe such, I believe have no clue as to what King was saying, his dream was not just for a…

View original 382 more words

King’s Legacy Iconic or Eikonic

gary:

Nearing the celebration of King’s birth in honor of his memory and his legacy.

Originally posted on Brothergary's Weblog:

Pondering:

What would be the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. if he had not (in my opinion) been turned into an icon, a brand. A large majority of people, I believe and it brings me great sorrow to say associate King with a brand or as a celebrity.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a son; husband; father; friend to many; a Baptist minister; a renowned civil rights leader; a Noble Peace prize winner, a peacemaker of broad scope and influence. He was many other things to many other people as well, but the one I hear talked about the least is that he was a child of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ, created in the image of God the Father Almighty, that he might bear witness with that image and likeness to a world that desperately needed to hear God’s message of peace that was for all those…

View original 655 more words

A Reflection on New Birth and Advent

 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? Romans 8:22-25 –  ESV 

I wonder if new birth isn’t just a process of striving and struggling in life until we are ultimately fully redeemed, and so we wait for it patiently in the community where God has placed us. We live and breathe and strive and struggle and laugh and cry together in steadfast faithfulness, while all the time God works in all that we do to bring forth new life that we never realized was possible, but yet it ultimately happens.

During Advent we are called to wait patiently for the coming Christ, but of which advent do we speak; his birth as an infant into a world that had been waiting somewhat impatiently for him; his second coming in glory to which we also wait at times impatiently or do we day by day wait for him into come to the world. I believe that all three are important and significant, but the one that proves out our faithfulness, is in believing that he does come daily into all of our lives and that he does and is making all things new on a daily basis until the day that full consummation takes place.

Just when and where will Christ reveal himself to us next, we were never intended to know, instead we are called to wait/ to live in steadfast awareness of his presence today.

Just some thoughts that I am pondering…

Bonhoeffer and Community: more than an Idea

“Humanly speaking, we could understand and interpret the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways. Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience, not interpreting it or applying it, but doing and obeying it. That is the only way to hear his word. He does not mean that it is to be discussed as an ideal; he really means us to get on with it.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Community must move from being just an idea to be coming a real place(s). But in order for it to make that move, do we have to begin with some idea about what it is? I think so, but maybe not… 

I took out “the Sermon on the Mount” from the above Bonhoeffer quote and replaced it with “community” to help me to try and process this. 

   “Humanly speaking, we could understand and interpret community in a thousand different ways. Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience, not interpreting it or applying it, but doing and obeying it. That is the only way to hear his word. He does not mean that it is to be discussed as an ideal; he really means us to get on with it.”

Hear O Israel(Church): The Lord our God, the Lord he is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. … And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29-31) 

I believe that we were/are created to live in community, it is at its very core part of who we are. Love God, love your neighbor everything flows from those two commands and so does community. 

Peace

 

  

Community as a Way to Save the World

The recent government shutdown and all the turmoil it has caused whether perceived or real has got me to thinking, for those who know me that is sometimes a source for concern. I am one who tends to think out loud, trying to process through certain scenarios, my wife is most often the target of these thoughts that I throw into the air, I sometimes catch a glimpse of her as she receives these thoughts and I notice great concern in her eyes and I remind her that I am just thinking out loud.

A lot of the talk around these debates or lack thereof seems to me to center around groups of people who are represented by the legislators in Washington DC. They say they are just staying true to the ideas of the people that elected them, their constituency back home (their community).

 If that is indeed the case, I have some grave concerns about the direction our country is headed in. We as a country who has as a founding principle of being/becoming a strong community; these “United States”, has lost its focus, it is and has in my opinion been trending for some time now in the direction of more individualized communities that have become the primary focus and concern of our elected legislators (whoever has the strongest community supporting them is the one who gets elected), and if my community elects me then I need to stand up for them; after all they elected me .  I agree with all of that in principal, the problem comes however when we lose sight of the big picture community; as in what is good for the entire community, not just my group, but my town, my city, my state, and my  nation and ultimately the global community.

Our view of community has become much to narrow; we have become communities of exclusion, which in reality is not community at all, because they betray the very notion of what true community is.

I am one who believes that the restoration of true community is the only way to save our world; all of our world, but first we have go back to the basics of teaching the meaning of what true community really is: it is many coming together as one, using their combined gifts to improve the quality of life for all.  We must teach this first and foremost at the local level; in our families and in our schools and if we teach it there first and we can get it to stick, it is something that can be translated into a generation of people who truly care about each other as a community, and a generation whose primary goal will be improve the quality of life of all who live in community (and that would be all of us); and in turn they will become a community that has as its goal, the saving of our world.  

It is time, that we all take the time to learn along with our children the importance and value of becoming a true community. For it is their future that is at stake, if we say that we love and care for our children, then we truly have no other choice.

Just me thinking out loud or pondering true community …      

  

Learning Community – Definition (Always a Work in Progress)

Learning Community:

A place where our children, along with family and other community members learn the intrinsic value of sharing life together, not only, but first in a local place, after which it has the capability of expanding to more universal applications.

CommunityMany coming together as one, for the good of all.  

Com - together/with;

munserving/gifts;

ity – state or quality

Community – A place where every decision you make will either enhance or diminish life; that being said, it is also a place where all outcomes whether good or bad are used to improve the quality of life in the community as a whole.

E Pluribus Unum –  “Out of many, one.”

Why do we do what we do, why do we learn what we learn?  We do it all for the sake of improving the quality of life in our community. 

Still pondering …

 

 

 

 

 

     

Speaking the Truth in Love: Treating Gay the Right Way

This topic has crossed my path numerous times recently, so I thought that maybe I could/should address here…

It is mostly based as response to a question about the best way to teach a teenager about what the Christian faith or God has to say about homosexual or same sex relationships.

This response is not an attempt to solve the problem, it is more an attempt to provide a starting point for conversations to be held. which I think we don’t do well or often enough.

I think sometimes we overload our kids with way to much information. Here are some of my observations and thoughts:

I do believe that the Bible is the best resource for handling the problem that you are addressing, both for what it says and doesn’t say.

You can look up the passages of scripture that mention homosexuality or unnatural relations to get an idea of the context in which they were used these words phrases or ideas were used. Most of the time you find it in the context of being something that places a barrier between people and God.

My belief is that homosexual/same sex behavior is a sin like many other sins and all sin separates us from God, so anyone who practices sinful behavior; that person has chosen disobedience, separating himself or herself from God, God does not do the separating, we do. That person makes a choice to live without God. That may seem a little harsh but please read on.

I define sin as: Any behavior (and I mean any) that breaks our relationship with God, it is not simply missing the mark as some would, have and do say/said, it goes much deeper than that. 

God’s ultimate plan for mankind is the restoration of that broken relationship; today we in the church are called to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-6:13), joining God in this work that he is already doing.    

My belief is also that God loves all of us all just the way we are and not the way others think we should be, that would mean that he loves the homosexual or gay person just as much as he loves you or me.

I just did a search for any form of the word homosexual in the ESV Bible translation on biblegateway.com and only two verses   were returned on that search (1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10) both of which point to the practice of homosexual behavior. I also did a search of the word unnatural and found only one verse; Jude 1:7. I also did a search on the word natural (as used in a sexual context) and found two more verse in Romans 1:26 & 27. Then I did a broader internet search (Google) on: “bible verses about homosexuality” and found passages in: Genesis 19:1-11; Judges 19:16-24 ; 1 Kings 14:24 & 15:12; 2 Kings 23:7; Romans 1:18-32, the rest from that search were passages that I already mentioned above. I hope these verses help you, you may have already found them.

I believe that homosexual behavior is sinful in the eyes of God, but I further believe that there are both physiological and psychology reasons that people practice this behavior; in some cases I believe genetics are very much involved (cases where children are born with both male and female reproductive organs for one),  I do lean toward the possibility that some people are indeed born that way (not that I like that terminology). But to me that does not change the fact that God calls the behavior sinful in scripture as mentioned in the scriptures above.

Some will say “love the sinner, hate the sin” but I personally dislike the phrase, because it seems as though we are placing some sort of condition on God’s love; which is the love that we are called to imitate, I believe that God loves us all unconditionally, and we are called to love others that very same way. In that regard, I applaud those in the younger generation who have chosen to love others without condition the way that God does. I believe that we need to both learn from and also encourage that type of love in our children and we need to trust God to sort those other things out for them in due time, it is most important that they know that they are called to serve a loving caring compassionate God who calls all of us to obedience, for it is only in that atmosphere that they can and will learn the consequences for disobedience , it is only in that atmosphere that they will come to know, trust and love God.

A separate question about evil:

I do believe like you, that there is evil in the world, with that being said though, I believe that a lot of times instead of being influenced by Satan that we simply give in to our own evil desire (James 1:13-15) . It is not always the devil who makes us do it, sometimes it is just us being disobedient and it is easy to cast the blame on Satan instead of taking it for ourselves.

As in all things I generally fall back on the words of Jesus who gives these commands as the most important ones:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40

We shouldn’t pretend to have all the answers for our children, but we should be willing to sit down with our children and others to have open conversations about this topic and many others.

In closing a few a words of advice: Be patient, be persistent, but most of all be loving….

I know that both sides of this debate will probably have problems with what I have written here and I am perfectly okay with that , as long as it gives us a point to at least start talking about it.

To the Church:

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16

Seeking, working and praying for peace in this place. 

 

I confess that I tweet for all the wrong reasons; and some other things as well.

I have a confession to make, I tweet for all the wrong reasons.

I tweet as a distraction to get away from things that I should be doing.

I tweet when I am bored.

I tweet when I can’t focus on anything else.

I tweet when I’m lonely.

I tweet when I am frustrated.

I tweet when I am happy.

I tweet when I am sad.

I tweet when I am mad.

I tweet when I am at work.

I tweet when I can’t focus.

The list about my tweeting for all the wrong reasons could go on for a while.

I tweet and read others tweets pointing me to useful resources, that both benefit my ministry and my life.

The main reason though I tweet to self promote and to draw attention to myself, to see who is reading my tweets and posting responses or maybe even retweeting or making my tweet a favorite.  Often I end up disappointed or waiting for a response in anxiousness, granted I don’t lose any sleep over it, but I do wonder why or why not. 

I confess that I am an approval junkie, I guess I could be a lot worse things, but desiring the approval of others has long been a problem of mine, having in roots in my early childhood. I am not near as bad as I used to be, but I still struggle with it at times, it is just one my many weaknesses. My faith in Christ has helped significantly, I find approval in my relationship with him, but not as much as I probably should, but I continue to work on and grow in that relationship as well as in relationship to others that are my family, my friends, my neighbors, my community members.    

I could probably confess a lot of other things too, but you don’t know me well enough for me to go there.

They say confession is good for the soul , but in all honesty, that only works if we confess to people who truly care for us and us for them. In the book of James (5:16) in talks about this.  “…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”

So with my confession today I do not claim healing, though I do claim peace of mine in knowing that I confessed; maybe someday me and you can get together and we can confess to each other so that both of us can find healing and peace.

Relationship is the key to all of it you know; you knowing me, me knowing you and both of us being at peace with other, certainly sounds like a plan to me. Maybe it just might work out well for others in this crazy world as well, but first let us get to know each other.   

Peace