Currently (4/22/2013)

So I don’t normally do things like this. I tend to keep the blog pretty serious, but in light of everything that’s happened over the last week, I felt like lightening the mood. Life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time (Preaching to myself here.)

Watching: Parks & Recreation. I can’t help it. In my humble opinion, this is one of the strongest shows on television now, specifically since Steve Carell left The Office. The writing is great, the characters are funny. What more do you want out of a 30 minute comedy show? 

Hating: Pollen. Every year, pollen takes up residence inside my sinuses and does whatever it is that pollen does that makes me want to claw my eyes out and/or rub them with rough grit sandpaper. Either way, if Sudafed hadn’t been invented, I’d probably just take the months of March and April off every year. 

Feeling: Anxious. We are in the process of trying to find a new place to live, and that is crazy stressful. We’re not ready to buy yet, so we’re riding the rent-roller coaster again. Leases, 30 day notices, move in dates, etc. It’s all a little too much to handle. At least this year, if we can’t find a place, we can always just stay where we are. 

Eating: A blended caramel coffee drink thing from the coffee stand down the road from my office. I usually drink my coffee black, but every now and then, a sweet sugary concoction just feels good. Am I right? Something about the sun being out. Probably. Good thing I don’t live in Southern California or I’d have diabetes. 

Excited about: Being done with moving soon, and my youngest girls 1st birthday in May. How is she a year old already? Nuts! 

That’s it. I can’t promise I’ll do this a lot. Feels frivolous, but it was fun today. If you feel so inclined, play along in the comments. 

 

P.S. This idea was lifted from our friend Abi. She just took some family photos, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. Check her out at: http://www.vanillaandlace.blogspot.com

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Boston

Today was bigger than religion. Today was bigger than faith, dogma, personality, culture, or whatever other differences divide us on a daily basis. 
Today was about evil. Evil is real. It is everywhere, but it is not God’s will.

God never desires terror. God never desires the taking of innocent life. God’s desire is for peace, and shalom, and reconciliation, and exodus. 

There will be religious people trying to attach spiritual significance to today’s act. That it was judgment, or retribution, or any number of other things. 

Pay them no attention. 

They are wrong. They are misguided, and they are blind. 

God desires victory, and in the end, it will be his. Days like today make it very hard for me to be a pacifist, but God is bigger than the Satan, and in the end, he wins. 

Hug your kids tight tonight, and thank God for another day. 

“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” 

-1 Thess 5:15 

One Nation Under Who?

People are going to disagree with this post. I’ve already resigned myself to being okay with that. There are people I know, good people, who will disagree with me, call me anti-American, un-patriotic, and tell me I’m wrong.

I’m okay with that.

I was raised in the church. Not only that, I was raised in a pretty conservative denomination of the church. I’m proud of my church heritage. The Wesleyan tradition is a beautiful one that I find myself gravitating back towards as I grow older, particularly the focus on holiness and evangelism.

There is something that has been evident to me from a young age. Something that I see just as much, if not more so today in modern America, particularly in the Conservative Christian culture. That is the notion that America is God’s country. That we are a Christian nation, and as such, the answer to our problems is to as a nation, turn back to God. This will solve our problems.

I passionately disagree.

Let me be clear. I love the country I live in. I believe I am beyond blessed to live in a country like I do. I’ve been afforded opportunities that I may not have had if I had lived elsewhere.

What I disagree with, and quite frankly, think is anti-scriptural, is the idea that I owe my allegiance to my constitution, or my country. I think the constitution is a good thing. I think it was written by men who loved Jesus, at least some of them.

What I’m not okay with is this tendency for Christians to defend their beliefs by clinging to the constitution like it’s an infallible document. Last I checked, the constitution was written by men. It’s not God-Breathed. It’s not sacred. It’s not infallible. It’s not holy.

Does it have good ideas? Sure. Does it grant me rights and freedoms? Absolutely. But let’s not forget something important: It’s a human document, penned by human hands, in reaction to human actions.

It’s words on paper.

What if, as Christians, instead of running to the Constitution, we ran to the Gospels? What if, instead of using the constitution to prove our points, illustrating how we’re right, and everybody else is wrong, we found our authority in the scriptures. What if we looked for our identity not as Americans, but as citizens of the Kingdom of God?

I believe in freedom of religion. But more than that, I believe in freedom from religion. Let me explain. I believe part of what makes America so great is that people are free to proclaim whatever religion they want. We don’t have a state religion. Thank God for that. I don’t want my government telling me what to believe. I want my government to leave my religion alone. And I want religion to leave government alone. The two are not congruent with each other.

For a deeper look at this, read Greg Boyd’s “Myth of a Christian Nation.” He uses the terms Kingdom of the Sword vs. Kingdom of the Cross.

The Kingdom of the Sword is built and designed to exercise authority and power and dominion over others. It is designed to be oppressive and controlling. It thrives on power and control and authority. Power isn’t always bad, but this kingdom should never be confused with God’s Kingdom, or what Boyd calls The Kingdom of the Cross.

The Kingdom of the Cross is built on service, humility, sacrifice, and servanthood. It is radically different than it’s opponent. It is for this reason that Jesus tells Pilate that his kingdom is “not of this world.” It looks nothing like the kingdoms of this world. It is unrecognizable. It is radically opposed to the kingdom of the sword.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m happy to live in the country I do. If I wasn’t, I’d move.

What I’m unhappy with is Christians placing the constitution on equal footing with the scriptures. Using this notion of what I call “Christian Nationalism.” Can I suggest an alternative?

Be about God’s kingdom. His kingdom is not built on oppression, control, power, and militaristic authority. His kingdom is built on service, humility, giving, sacrifice, and love for our enemies.

I live in America, so I will subject myself to the authorities placed over me. I will pray for my leaders. I will pay my taxes. I will not find my identity in my country, my constitution, my political party, or any other nationalist dogma.

I want to be about Jesus and his kingdom, and that kingdom looks nothing like the nationalist agenda.

“My first allegiance is not to flag, a country or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood. It’s to a King and a Kingdom.”
-Derek Webb “A King and a Kingdom”