Faith That Is Unshakable - Resist or Become Serfs - I Am Revealing Myself - Expand While the Devil Shrinks! - 10 Terms Not to Use with Muslims - A Christian Mistake - Do You Want It? - What happened to Jesus and what's a Christian to do with it?
April 17th, 2009
Faith That Is Un-Shakable - In Financial Hard Times
The current financial shaking that dominates the earth is a spiritual shaking, as well as a marketplace one. Hebrews 12:26 says God shakes not only the earth but also the heavens. And He has an express purpose for it.
"the removal of what can be shaken, that is, what he has made, so that what cannot be shaken may remain."
In a time of shaking, God purifies the inhabitants of the earth of those things that are not of Him, that what is of Him may come forth. Of course many do not receive it, and harden themselves. It is then destructive to them. Believers also experience the shaking, but if we walk in faith, allow Him to expose our hearts and repent, we come forth as gold. The current shaking is working in several ways.
- This Shaking Confronts Mankind About his Fundamental Trust. For those who trust in mammon, the shakings generates fear and anxiety. Most men are looking for financial stability to solve their fears. But what we all need is spiritual stability.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalms 20:7
As Christians we say "we trust in God for our provision".... but our hearts betray us... most of us have the same anxieties as the world! This is OK! It is exactly what God wants to show us. He is using the shaking to reveal that our trust has been in horses and chariots more than Him. Now we can repent and come forth as gold!
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: I Peter 1:7
The Corruptions of Capitalism are Being Exposed. Mans Sinful Systems are Being Revealed. Many Christians feel capitalism is a God given financial system. There are reasons to think this since capitalism allows man the freedom and creativity God made him for. But in reality capitalism is part of mans kingdom and can only work when there are the virtues of honesty and trust. Currently the greed and manipulation that dominate capitalism are being exposed, and many of us invested in it! Lets get it straight, the marketplace has been under the dominion of sin! Capitalism can work for a godly people, but it collapses for a corrupt people.
This calls for a reform of soul, a salvation from corrupt character. Without revival our nations will only descend deeper into the mire of financial sin! In short, without a conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment, there is no hope! Oh church, where is the preacher of righteousness in this hour? Why is the church praying for finances to be saved, rather than souls to be saved? We should be praying that hearts get back on track before we pray for the marketplace to get back on track! It is time to declare that we have been serving mammon and are reaping the rewards of sin. It is time for Gods people to demonstrate righteousness in the marketplace!
The Shaking is Separating the Leaven of the World Out Of The Church Jesus told the disciples to beware of three kinds of leaven. The leaven of the pharisees, the saducees and Herod. Leaven is a way of thinking that permeates everything. The current financial shaking is separating the church from the leaven of the world. Here are some features of the leaven.
The Leaven of The Pharisees is depending on religious performance and legalism, a Christianity without Gods love or grace. This shaking will strip us of the leaven of the Pharisees, and we will see that provision comes because of God's love for us. Our own righteousness does not bring His provision. A few years ago I asked God why we were financially struggling when I tithed and gave. He taught me to depend on His love and not my self righteousness. Jesus taught us that the Father loves us and knows we need these things, and will provide.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt. 6:31-33
The Leaven of the Saducees is a life of unbelief, a Christianity without the supernatural intervention of God. This shaking will strip us of the leaven of the Saducees as we become desperate for His invention. Like the Israelites learned in the desert, either Jehovah acts or we perish! We must learn to depend on Him for daily bread during the crisis. We must expect miracles! Many times my wife and I have seen many times already. I may have no work for my business and bills are mounting. We pray for Gods Kingdom to come, and for our daily bread, and even while the prayer is being said the phone will ring with a Good Paying Contract. He IS the God who acts! We WILL depend on Him for our daily bread.
The Leaven of Herod - is a life of living by expediency, doing our own will, even if it is unrighteous. The leaven of Herod is a Christianity without the Kingdom of God. But for the the kingdom is becoming real. The Lord wants to show us His government on earth. through His people. It is not 'anything that works", but a walk with Him. Sometimes its a road that makes no sense. For example, when I left pastoral ministry five years ago it made no sense. I had no salary. I felt the Lord say I should not receive unemployment insurance. We became desperate and began to learn the lessons about finances and trust that the church faces now. We have been learning a new way of walking with Him seldom seen in the church. He wants a people who know their God!
The Shaking is Forcing People to Depend On God In many places people are praying as never before. Now they see the shortcomings of their faith. When God was shaking my life I began to ask Him "why am I so dependent on my circumstances?" "Why is my joy tied to money?" "Lord, show me how to live in full dependence on you and not financial circumstances. Teach me how to trust you." David discovered the joy of the Lord apart from circumstances in Psalm 4 and I wanted that joy and trust!
There are many that say, "Oh that we mights see some good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us." (in other words help us in our financial problems. ed.) 7 But thou hast put more joy in my heart, than they have when their grain and wine abound" Psalm 4:6,7
Paul said he learned the secret of living in plenty and want. It's contentment with God! The current shaking is forcing us to face what our heart is like, and LEARN to be content! Remarkably, once we are content He gives us our hearts desire, and supplies us all we need. The secret is contentment, and we can learn it!
I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.But godliness with contentment is great gain. Phillipians 4:11-13
God is Using The Shaking To bring Forth His Kingdom The Spirit of God is transforming His church into a Kingdom people. For nearly two millenea it seems like a cloud has obscured the Kingdom of God from view. In periods of revival there seemed to be breakthroughs, but eventually spiritual freedom and love seemed to be overrun by legalism, worldly systems, or unbelief. Now we are pressing into the kingdom again. Financially we understand the Kingdom of God is different from other Kingdoms. Heres how.
The Kingdom of Creation - Sowing and reaping dominate the created order. Sowing and reaping is fundamental to all living things. God has made us to participate in nature and sowing and reaping .But it is not the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of Man - Buying and selling dominate the kingdoms of man. God gave man ability to create and profit by it. But greed and sin have perverted it and have generated the current crisis. It needs to be redeemed. But this is not the Kingdom of God either.
The Kingdom of God - Giving and receiving dominate the Kingdom of God. God is filled with love and favor toward man. He has reconciled Himself to us at the cross! He is full of mercy and compassion towards us. When we participate in His Kingdom we receive from His bounty and we too are filled with love and favor towards others. We give and bless with the same heart as God. The Kingdom of God flows through the world as it flows through our life..
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29
Total Change Ministries
Resist or Become Serfs
By Chris Hedges
America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite´s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.
We have been in a steady economic decline for decades. The Canadian political philosopher John Ralston Saul detailed this decline in his 1992 book Voltaire´s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.’ David Cay Johnston exposed the mirage and rot of American capitalism in Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill),’ and David C. Korten, in When Corporations Rule the World’ and Agenda for a New Economy,’ laid out corporate malfeasance and abuse. But our universities and mass media, entranced by power and naively believing that global capitalism was an unstoppable force of nature, rarely asked the right questions or gave a prominent voice to those who did. Our elites hid their incompetence and loss of control behind an arrogant facade of specialized jargon and obscure economic theories.
The lies employed to camouflage the economic decline are legion. President Ronald Reagan included 1.5 million U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine service personnel with the civilian work force to magically reduce the nation´s unemployment rate by 2 percent. President Bill Clinton decided that those who had given up looking for work, or those who wanted full-time jobs but could only find part-time employment, were no longer to be counted as unemployed. This trick disappeared some 5 million unemployed from the official unemployment rolls. If you work more than 21 hours a weekmost low-wage workers at places like Wal-Mart average 28 hours a weekyou are counted as employed, although your real wages put you below the poverty line. Our actual unemployment rate, when you include those who have stopped looking for work and those who can only find part-time jobs, is not 8.5 percent but 15 percent. A sixth of the country is now effectively unemployed. And we are shedding jobs at a faster rate than in the months after the 1929 crash.
The consumer price index, used by the government to measure inflation, is meaningless. To keep the official inflation figures low the government has been substituting basic products it once measured to check for inflation with ones that do not rise very much in price. This sleight of hand has kept the cost-of-living increases tied to the CPI artificially low. The New York Times´ consumer reporter, W.P. Dunleavy, wrote that her groceries now cost $587 a month, up from $400 a year earlier. This is a 40 percent increase. California economist John Williams, who runs an organization called Shadow Statistics, contends that if Washington still used the CPI measurements applied back in the 1970s, inflation would be 10 percent.
The corporate state, and the political and intellectual class that served the corporate state, constructed a financial and political system based on illusions. Corporations engaged in pyramid lending that created fictitious assets. These fictitious assets became collateral for more bank lending. The elite skimmed off hundreds of millions in bonuses, commissions and salaries from this fictitious wealth. Politicians, who dutifully served corporate interests rather than those of citizens, were showered with campaign contributions and given lucrative jobs when they left office. Universities, knowing it was not good business to challenge corporatism, muted any voices of conscience while they went begging for corporate donations and grants. Deceptive loans and credit card debt fueled the binges of a consumer society and hid falling wages and the loss of manufacturing jobs.
The Obama administration, rather than chart a new course, is intent on re-inflating the bubble. The trillions of dollars of government funds being spent to sustain these corrupt corporations could have renovated our economy. We could have saved tens of millions of Americans from poverty. The government could have, as consumer activist Ralph Nader has pointed out, started 10 new banks with $35 billion each and a 10-to-1 leverage to open credit markets. Vast, unimaginable sums are being placed into these dirty corporate hands without oversight. And they will use this money as they always haveto enrich themselves at our expense.
You are going to see the biggest waste, fraud and abuse in American history,’ Nader warned when I asked about the bailouts. Not only is it wrongly directed, not only does it deal with the perpetrators instead of the people who were victimized, but they don´t have a delivery system of any honesty and efficiency. The Justice Department is overwhelmed. It doesn´t have a tenth of the prosecutors, the investigators, the auditors, the attorneys needed to deal with the previous corporate crime wave before the bailout started last September. It is especially unable to deal with the rapacious ravaging of this new money by these corporate recipients. You can see it already. The corporations haven´t lent it. They have used some of it for acquisitions or to preserve their bonuses or their dividends. As long as they know they are not going to jail, and they don´t see many newspaper reports about their colleagues going to jail, they don´t care. It is total impunity. If they quit, they quit with a golden parachute. Even [General Motors CEO Rick] Wagoner is taking away $21 million.’
There are a handful of former executives who have conceded that the bailouts are a waste. American International Group Inc.‘s former chairman, Maurice R. Greenberg, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday that the effort to prop up the firm with $170 billion has failed.’ He said the company should be restructured. AIG, he said, would have been better off filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection instead of seeking government help.
These are signs of hyper decay,’ Nader said from his office in Washington. You spend this kind of money and do not know if it will work.’
Bankrupt corporate capitalism is on its way to bankrupting the socialism that is trying to save it,’ Nader added. That is the end stage. If they no longer have socialism to save them then we are into feudalism. We are into private police, gated communities and serfs with a 21st century nomenclature.’
We will not be able to raise another 3 or 4 trillion dollars, especially with our commitments now totaling some $12 trillion, to fix the mess. It was only a couple of months ago that our expenditures totaled $9 trillion. And it was not long ago that such profligate government spending was unthinkable. There was an $800 billion limit placed on the Federal Reserve a year ago. The economic stimulus and the bailouts will not bring back our casino capitalism. And as the meltdown shows no signs of abating, and the bailouts show no sign of working, the recklessness and desperation of our capitalist overlords have increased. The cost, to the working and middle class, is becoming unsustainable. The Fed reported in March that households lost $5.1 trillion, or 9 percent, of their wealth in the last three months of 2008, the most ever in a single quarter in the 57-year history of record keeping by the central bank. For the full year, household wealth dropped $11.1 trillion, or about 18 percent. These figures did not record the decline of investments in the stock market, which has probably erased trillions more in the country´s collective net worth.
The bullet to our head, inevitable if we do not radically alter course, will be sudden. We have been borrowing at the rate of more than $2 billion a day over the last 10 years, and at some point it has to stop. The moment China, the oil-rich states and other international investors stop buying treasury bonds the dollar will become junk. Inflation will rocket upward. We will become Weimar Germany. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to simpletons like Sarah Palin to loudmouth talk show hosts, who we naively dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. The elites, the ones with their Harvard Business School degrees and expensive vocabularies, will retreat into their sheltered enclaves of privilege and comfort. We will be left bereft and abandoned outside the gates.
I Am Revealing Myself
I am revealing Myself to My Bride, like I revealed Myself to Jacob. He did not know that I was with him in a new and marvelous way until I showed Myself to him. I did that in a dream that revealed access into the Holy of Holies.
Now in this season, I am releasing a rhythmic movement of My Spirit, accompanied with life-altering power. You will understand My intentions towards you and you will advance as I reveal new things to you. You, My bride, will advance out of comfort zones into new areas of ministry. Dreams and visions that you once held dear will spring into life again. You, My elect, will look into spiritual matters in a different light for I will again become to My Bride and be omnipresent with her.
You will recognize Holy Spirits unction, and your senses will be enlightened. You will become walking lamps, full of light through and through, and filled to overflowing. You will experience new understanding through Holy Spirit. You will have the assurance that I am everywhere at once, without exception!
You will walk in a newness that will open an entrance into another level of faith! It will affect all those you come into contact with. I will pour out to you with a new anointing of strength, wisdom, courage and zeal to defeat a foe that has taken many captive. Many will be instantly set free from the sound of your voice as you move in this powerful anointing that I am releasing to you.
Speak plainly and do not seek any glory for yourself. There is no mistaking My presence, My power and My anointing in a yielded vessel, so be full yielded to Me. Then you will run like the wind, and I will carry you into certain chosen places, all for My Glory! Yes, it is all for My Glory!
Expand While the Devil Shrinks!
by Andrew Strom
There is no question that we have covered the "Doom & Gloom" side of the present crisis pretty well. But one thing I feel we have not discussed enough is the amazing OPPORTUNITY that God is setting before us through this crisis. In fact, it may be that what is happening now could be the answer to years of our most fervent prayers.
Have you been praying for God to act and bring massive change to the church and to our culture? Have you been praying for the return of spiritual hunger and reality? Have you been praying for God to open closed doors, to soften hearts, and to allow the real Truth of the gospel to march forth in the land once again? What if this is His answer to all of that - the only way He could bring about the kind of shaking and hunger that is so desperately required? What if He has spent years setting this up? What if it is the golden opportunity of a lifetime? Are we willing? Are we ready?
There is no question that some of our main enemies are on the run right now in the West. In fact, many of them are in rampant disorderly retreat. The great god Mammon is a good example. I don't think the "deceitfulness of riches" will be doing too well in the West for awhile, do you? And Mammon's allies - Comfort, Apathy, Materialism and Humanism are starting to look a little shaky also.
There is a "window of opportunity" starting to open - where a gospel that was once unwelcome will be welcomed again - where change that was once thought impossible comes in like a rush. We are living in a rare moment of history.
In times of Depression - froth, bubble and hype go the way of the dinosaur. People start looking for reality and grounded truth. They want to find a Rock to stand on instead of shifting sand. This happened in the last Depression, and it will happen in this one too.
Are you one who has spent years in the wilderness, waiting for God's moment? Are you a David in the caves, a Joseph in the dungeons? Couldn't it be that this is the very moment that God has been preparing you for, all this time?
You see, the "big boys" with their shallow gospel are in increasing trouble through all of this. They rely on big money, big media, big hype and big budgets to get their message out. And the budget is looking rather sick. Could it be that God is leveling the playing field? Are many that were "last" about to become first? Are the little guys with their message of repentance and heart-holiness about to break through the glass ceiling that has kept them down for so long? Has God actually been planning this for ages?
Personally, I feel like the Lord has been speaking to me lately that as the devil pulls back, I need to expand. There are things that I have put off for years that I need to put into action.
One of these is the "Online Preacher's School" where we send people around the world to preach in far-flung places - after training them first. I get all kinds of invitations from places like Pakistan, India and Africa that I cannot possibly fulfill. It is time that we started doing "basic training and sending" - because the need out there is enormous. And we can do a lot of it online. (-This should be up and running in a matter of weeks). To me, God's message is very clear: We are to expand while the devil shrinks.
Another area that He has been speaking to me about is MUSIC and VIDEO - things that I put aside (to a large degree) years ago. God laid it on my heart before we came to Wales that we need to record a music album here - something we have not done for 8 years. (We had better get on with it, as we only have a Visa to stay in Wales for six months!) There are other things also. And what about you, my friends? Has God begun whispering similar things? Such a crisis comes along only once in a lifetime. Could this be the very hour of Mobilization that He has been preparing you for all these years?
I'd be interested in your comments.
Please send responses to- firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you all.
10 Terms Not to Use with Muslims
By Chris Seiple
Arlington, Va. - In the course of my travels -- from the Middle East to Central Asia to Southeast Asia -- it has been my great privilege to meet and become friends with many devout Muslims. These friendships are defined by frank respect as we listen to each other; understand and agree on the what, why, and how of our disagreements, political and theological; and, most of all, deepen our points of commonality as a result.
I have learned much from my Muslim friends, foremost this: Political disagreements come and go, but genuine respect for each other, rooted in our respective faith traditions, does not. If there is no respect, there is no relationship, merely a transactional encounter that serves no one in the long term.
As President Obama considers his first speech in a Muslim majority country (he visits Turkey April 6-7), and as the US national security establishment reviews its foreign policy and public diplomacy, I want to share the advice given to me from dear Muslim friends worldwide regarding words and concepts that are not useful in building relationships with them. Obviously, we are not going to throw out all of these terms, nor should we. But we do need to be very careful about how we use them, and in what context.
- "The Clash of Civilizations." Invariably, this kind of discussion ends up with us as the good guy and them as the bad guy. There is no clash of civilizations, only a clash between those who are for civilization, and those who are against it. Civilization has many characteristics but two are foundational: 1) It has no place for those who encourage, invite, and/or commit the murder of innocent civilians; and 2) It is defined by institutions that protect and promote both the minority and the transparent rule of law.
- "Secular." The Muslim ear tends to hear "godless" with the pronunciation of this word. And a godless society is simply inconceivable to the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. Pluralism -- which encourages those with (and those without) a God-based worldview to have a welcomed and equal place in the public square -- is a much better word.
- "Assimilation." This word suggests that the minority Muslim groups in North America and Europe need to look like the majority, Christian culture. Integration, on the other hand, suggests that all views, majority and minority, deserve equal respect as long as each is willing to be civil with one another amid the public square of a shared society.
- "Reformation." Muslims know quite well, and have an opinion about, the battle taking place within Islam and what it means to be an orthodox and devout Muslim. They don't need to be insulted by suggesting they follow the Christian example of Martin Luther. Instead, ask how Muslims understand ijtihad, or reinterpretation, within their faith traditions and cultural communities.
- "Jihadi." The jihad is an internal struggle first, a process of improving one's spiritual self-discipline and getting closer to God. The lesser jihad is external, validating "just war" when necessary. By calling the groups we are fighting "jihadis," we confirm their own and the worldwide Muslim public's -- perception that they are religious. They are not. They are terrorists, hirabists, who consistently violate the most fundamental teachings of the Holy Koran and mainstream Islamic scholars and imams.
- "Moderate." This ubiquitous term is meant politically but can be received theologically. If someone called me a "moderate Christian," I would be deeply offended. I believe in an Absolute who also commands me to love my neighbor. Similarly, it is not an oxymoron to be a mainstream Muslim who believes in an Absolute. A robust and civil pluralism must make room for the devout of all faiths, and none.
- "Interfaith." This term conjures up images of watered-down, lowest common denominator statements that avoid the tough issues and are consequently irrelevant. "Multifaith" suggests that we name our deep and irreconcilable theological differences in order to work across them for practical effect -- according to the very best of our faith traditions, much of which are values we share.
- "Freedom." Unfortunately, "freedom," as expressed in American foreign policy, does not always seek to engage how the local community and culture understands it. Absent such an understanding, freedom can imply an unbound licentiousness. The balance between the freedom to something (liberty) and the freedom from something (security) is best understood in a conversation with the local context and, in particular, with the Muslims who live there. "Freedom" is best framed in the context of how they understand such things as peace, justice, honor, mercy, and compassion.
- "Religious Freedom." Sadly, this term too often conveys the perception that American foreign policy is only worried about the freedom of Protestant evangelicals to proselytize and convert, disrupting the local culture and indigenous Christians. Although not true, I have found it better to define religious freedom as the promotion of respect and reconciliation with the other at the intersection of culture and the rule of law -- sensitive to the former and consistent with the latter.
- "Tolerance." Tolerance is not enough. Allowing for someone's existence, or behavior, doesn't build the necessary relationships of trust -- across faiths and cultures -- needed to tackle the complex and global challenges that our civilization faces. We need to be honest with and respect one another enough to name our differences and commonalities, according to the inherent dignity we each have as fellow creations of God called to walk together in peace and justice, mercy and compassion.
The above words and phrases will differ and change over the years, according to the cultural and ethnic context, and the (mis)perceptions that Muslims and non-Muslims have of one another. While that is to be expected, what counts most is the idea that we are earnestly trying to listen to and understand each other better; demonstrating respect as a result.
Chris Seiple is the president of the Institute for Global Engagement, a "think tank with legs" that promotes sustainable environments for religious freedom worldwide.
© 2009 Christian Science Monitor All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/134812/
A Christian Mistake
In ominous red and black, last week's Newsweek cover carried the headline, "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." The magazine's cover story by editor Jon Meacham provoked a wide array of reactions from across the spectrum. Whether Meacham is ultimately correct in his observance of these trends and his interpretation of their meaning is yet to be seen. The 1966 Time magazine cover that asked "Is God Dead?" could not have foreseen the development of religion in American public life over the past 40 years, and we shouldn't expect any more from Newsweek. What the latter cover has accomplished is to raise questions vital to both the health of the Christian tradition and for the public discourse of our nation.
The question that struck me and the one I began to address in a short piece for Newsweek was that of the role of religion in public life and politics. Here's what I had to say:
The Religious Right was a Christian mistake. It was a movement that sought to implement a "Christian agenda" by tying the faithful to one political option -- the right wing of the Republican Party. The politicizing of faith in such a partisan way is always a theological mistake. But the rapid decline of the Religious Right now offers us a new opportunity to re-think the role of faith in American public life.
Personally, I am not offended or alarmed by the notion of a post-Christian America. Christianity was originally and, in my view, always meant to be a minority faith with a counter-cultural stance, as opposed to the dominant cultural and political force. Notions of a "Christian America" quite frankly haven't turned out very well.
But that doesn't mean a lack of religious influence -- on the contrary. Committed minorities have had a tremendous influence on cultures and even on politics. Just look at all the faith-inspired social-reform movements animated by people of faith. But Martin Luther King Jr. did not get the Civil Rights Act passed because he had the most Bible verses on his side but because he entered into the public square with compelling arguments, vision, and policy that ultimately won the day. Those faith-inspired movements are disciplined by democracy, meaning they don't expect to win just because they are "Christian." They have to win the debates about what is best for the common good by convincing their fellow citizens.
And that is best done by shaping the values narrative, as opposed to converting everyone to their particular brand of religion. Rather, they are always looking for allies around their moral causes, including people of other faiths or of no religion. The story of Christianity in America in the coming decades will be defined by a multicultural shift as well as a generational one. "New" evangelicals and Catholics, along with black, Hispanic, and Asian churches will now shape the agenda. But also included are the millions of Americans who say they are "spiritual but not religious," finding homes in non-traditional churches, mega-churches that teach that true religion is found in care for "the least of these." Making a real impact on the values and directions that a democracy will choose is, perhaps, a more exciting kind of influence than relying on the illusory and often disappointing hopes of cultural and political dominance.
Barack Obama stirred the pot around this exact question recently with his comment at a press conference in Turkey that "we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation." This statement is not a new one for Obama. He expressed it clearly during a 2006 speech to a Sojourners/Call to Renewal conference. He explained his position this way:
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.
"Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what's possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It's the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one's life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing."
The shift that Jon Meacham describes may be the best news in a long time.
Do You Want It?
Dear one, I have a question for you: Do you really want to do the things that I did when I walked on this earth?
The reason I am asking you this question is because it really is possible for you to do that. I have already promised it to you, and it is very easy to qualify for. In fact, I want it for you--I want you to be on My agenda and I want you to do the works that I did when I walked on this earth. Dear one, I want it for you more than you want it for yourself. So I ask you again--do you really want to do the works that I did when I walked on this earth?
Too many of My own do not want it, for they are not walking in it, even thought it has already been given to them.
Dear one, do not be like them, for it is disobedience born from a lack of faith that grieves My heart. You can have it if you want it--all you have to do is to believe in Me with all of your heart, soul and strength.
Then you need to begin behaving as though you truly believe. Begin stretching out your hand to pray for the sick, and see what happens. Begin to command demons and oppression to leave people, using the authority that I have already placed in your hand. Begin speaking the truth of the Kingdom and the message of the good news of the gospel to those who are without hope, and watch them come alive and receive with gladness.
Dear one, do not try to carry some other message than the one you have been given, for I am love incarnate, and I am sending you out to proclaim that through Me, others may enter into My grace and blessing and love. Through Me, they may have solutions to the very real problems that trouble them...for I desire to be their provision and their protection and their healing and their peace.
Dear one, I have already placed the power within your hands to do the same signs and wonders that I did--but do them only as a witness to Who I am, so that others might believe in Me.
I have given you the authority to command demons and to heal all sicknesses. But it requires the key of faith--of believing in Me--to unlock that authority in order that you might use it. So start small, with things that you are able to stretch your faith to believe--pray for your friend with a headache, pray provision for the stranger behind you in line at the grocery store who lost their job and does not know how they will continue to feed their family. Release My authority and My provision in their life. When an unsaved acquaintance is plagued with fear and anxiety, command it to leave them in My name and release My peace upon them.
Even the most simple prayer is a testimony to My glory, for when I answer the prayer I will do so in a way that they know it is Me. So start small, dear one, and watch and see what I will do. I want your faith to grow until you are no longer limited by doubt and unbelief, so that you might do the same works that I have done, as a testimony to My name.
Yes, dear one, start small and let your faith grow--but do start! Do not sit back with a "watch and see" type of attitude that is the trademark of disbelief. Begin believing in Me, that you might do the works that I did. Then start behaving as one who believes.
John 14:12-14 "12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
What happened to Jesus and what's a Christian to do with it?
By Eileen Fleming
In the March/April 2008 edition of Tikkun Magazine, Walter Wink, Professor emeritus of Auburn Theological Seminary, pondered upon what happened to Jesus and his disciples:
"No two resurrection accounts in the four Gospels are alike. At the core of all these accounts is the simple testimony: we experienced Jesus as alive The resurrection appearances did not take place in the temple before thousands of worshipers, but in the privacy of homes or cemeteries. They did not occur before religious authorities, but to the disciples hiding from those authorities.
"What happened was every bit as real as any other event, only it was not historically observable Though skeptics might interpret what the disciples experienced as a mass hallucination, the experience itself cannot be denied what may have happened: the very image of God was altered by the sheer force of Jesus being. God would never be the same. Jesus had indelibly imprinted the divine In Jesus God took on humanity, furthering the evolution revealed in Ezekiel's vision of Yahweh on the throne in "the likeness, as it were, of a human form." -Ezek. 1:26.
"Something also happened to the disciples. They experienced the most essential aspect of Jesus as remaining with them after his death after his resurrection, to interpret the unleashing of those powers [to heal, preach, and cast out demons] in themselves, [was] as if Jesus himself had taken residence in their hearts In their preaching they extended his critique of domination. They continued his life by advancing his mission. They persisted in proclaiming the domination-free order of God inaugurated by Jesus." 
When Jesus quoted the psalmist, "I said, you are gods: you are all children of the Most High God" he not only agitated the temple teachers of the law, he challenged state authorities by equating all people as sisters and brothers and co-equals with Cesar.
It has been said, tell me your politics and I will know who your god/God is:
A god of war, or the God of peace? A god of injustice, or the God of justice? A god who seeks vengeance or the God of compassionate mercy? A god of violent retaliation or the God of nonviolence?
When we who claim to be Christian learn of and worship the God Jesus illuminated; the God of peace and nonviolence, not the god of state or nation, we will be a person who seeks peace by pursuing justice and remain physically nonviolent, but never silent.
Jesus was NEVER a Christian; the term 'Christian' was not even coined until the days of Paul, about 3 decades after Jesus/AKA: The Prince of Peace walked the earth and taught that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God, NOT those that bomb, occupy or torture others.
2,000 years ago The Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry.
When JC said: "Pick up your cross and follow me" everyone THEN understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads into Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Empire and Military Occupying Forces.
Jesus, while never a Christian, was a social, justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up against the corrupt Temple authorities and challenged their job security by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God LOVED them just as they were:
Sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under the Roman Empire and Military Occupation.
What got JC crucified was disturbing the status quo of the Roman Empire and Occupying Forces by teaching the subversive concept that God preferred the humble sinner, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under the Roman Empire and Military Occupation above the elite and arrogant.
The early followers and lovers of Jesus were called members of THE WAY-being THE WAY he taught one should be and that his sisters and brothers were those that DID the will of the Father: "What does God require? He has told you o'man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord." -Micah 6:8
"Everyone in the world knows that Jesus and his teachings were non-violent: except Christians."-Gandhi
Jesus has been accused of being a pacifist, but his nonviolent responses to evil were never passive!
Turning the other cheek when struck is the sublime response to resist violence by disarming the attacker by maintaining the highest ground: self-controlled nonviolence.
"In the nations in which Christianity has predominated, Jesus´ teaching on nonviolence has been perverted into injunctions to passive nonresistance, which is the very opposite of active nonviolence Jesus always resisted evil The Greek word translated as resist’ [antistenai], is literally to stand [stenai] against/anti.’
"The correct translation is given in the new Scholars Bible: Don´t react violently against the one who is evil.’ The meaning is clear: don´t react in kind, don´t mirror your enemy, and don´t turn into the very thing you hate. Jesus is not telling us not to resist evil, but only not to resist it violently." 
Programs of practical nonviolent responses to the evil that is violence have been articulated since the days of Hebrew midwives, Jainism, Buddhism, Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the Muslim Badshah Khan.
Jesus vented his righteous wrath when ever confronted with hypocrisy by being outspokenly courageous, aggressive and sarcastically witty. He also was always gentle with humble sinners, children, misfits, outcasts, cripples, diseased, widows, orphans, prisoners, refugees and preferred to spend his time alone in prayer or in the company of regular people.
Legend has it that President Bush got a message from God to go and bomb Baghdad. I contend that had he meditated/thought upon what his self-proclaimed favorite philosopher-Jesus-actually taught and modeled, he would have changed course.
A few months after America began to bomb Baghdad, President Bush granted an interview with a TV reporter who asked had he prayed for Saddam Hussein before bombing his country. Bush looked like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, stuttered some and then admitted he had not.
Jesus was very clear that one must pray for, forgive and bless/do good towards one's enemies.
One's enemies can teach one more about oneself than listening to one's own voice.
Jesus warned the adults of his time to never do anything that would cause harm to children. USA sanctions on Iraq before 2005 had already killed nearly a million people- over half of them children under five.
There is nothing about Jesus' life and teachings that can support the anti-democratic dictatorships and State in the Middle East, some of which would collapse without benefit of American foreign policy and USA tax dollars.
No pretext, rationale or spin can change the fact that Jesus would never condone violence, no matter who wears the uniform or how noble one believes their cause; not for mom, apple pie, democracy or Zionism, would Jesus say it was OK to wage war that terrorize children and all innocent beings.
It will take an evolutionary step-a transformation of hearts and minds to stop the cycle of violence, and the only force that can defeat that evil, is by NOT mirroring it.
Jesus called us to love all our neighbors, to show compassion toward everyone, to seek justice for the poor, to forgive our enemies, to put down the sword and take up the cross of struggle for justice and peace. Jesus laid down our life and calls his followers to risk theirs for love of God in all of humanity, and that includes our enemies.
Jesus' death on a cross said: enough! This violence against another life ends with my broken body. But, many did not know what they were doing, because they did not know god was already within all themselves and every other, for all are gods; all are children of the Most High God.
Jesus might call it a blasphemy what is spun as "collateral damage" for human kind was created in the image of the Divine. The command remains "thou shall not kill" and the promise he gave was that the peacemakers are the daughters and sons of The Lord.
"We live in a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, in a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We have solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on The Mount. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about dying than we know about living."- General Omar Nelson Bradley, Armistice Day, 1948.
About 2,000 years ago, when Christ was about 33, he hiked up a hill and sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people;
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."
In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and sins honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.
How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven't got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.
God's name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, "My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours." -Isaiah 55:8
Christ proclaimed more: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled."
In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what "God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord."-Micah 6:8
"Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy."
In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your 'enemy.'
"For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you" Christ warns his disciples as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God."
In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.
"Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God."
And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires, theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven."
And one fine day the lion will lie down with The Lamb and man will make war no more and that is the Kingdom of God.
"I said you are gods: you are children of the Most High God."-Psalm 82:6.
When we come to that evolutionary realization-as Jesus had-no way would we, could we wage war, harm children or remain silent in the face of injustice, oppression or hypocrisy.
"You may be an ambassador to England or France You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk You may be the head of some big TV network You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome. You might own guns and you might even own tanks you might even own banks. But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you're gonna have to serve somebody."-Bob Dylan, 1979.
Imagine what a transformed world it could be, if every Christian would ponder upon the life of Jesus between today, Palm Sunday and Easter morn and determine, just who is their Jesus, just what god/God do they serve?
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