christian Not Christian

Exploring Contemporary Christianity

Month: November 2016

Welcome to the Re-Launch of My Blog

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Thanks for stopping by!

Please scan my recent posts and take a look around the website. I am still making improvements as I continue to learn about the technology end of things.

Come back next month, when I will add a new page entitled ‘Scripture Study’ where we can discuss passages from the Bible. I will give you my take, and I hope you will join the conversation and let me know what you think as well.

In the near future, I will begin to write about  my journey to faith. It is a very personal story, as it is for most people, but I hope you will join me, and maybe share your story as well.

Please give me your feedback in the Comments section, I really want to know what you think!  The Comment box  can be found at the end of each entry, if you first click on ‘Posts’ and then on one of the titles. (Doesn’t work from the home page, still troubleshooting  this).

I would love for you to subscribe as well! You don’t need to use your real name, and your email address will not be public. I promise not to litter your inbox! I’ll be  posting once a week – max.

Thanks again for visiting and I hope you’ll come back soon!

Sherry

 

Giving Thanks

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It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a gratitude list!

Here’s mine:

  • I’m thankful for Michigan’s beautiful seasons. Fall is my favorite and I never tire of the beautiful display of color from Labor Day to Thanksgiving!     photo-1476728986388-24bf950ea3b3
  • I’m thankful for open discussion and frank conversation, and the ability to do both without fear of governmental reprisal.
  • I’m thankful for the peaceful protestors, the respectful dissenters. And I’m thankful that every 4 years we get another chance to voice our opinion and make that opinion count. Our opinions matter – every one of us.
  • I’m thankful for intelligent conversation, between family and friends, and for those who have not resorted to name-calling, backbiting and insults… 
  • BUT – I’m thankful to live in a country where even when people do resort to unsavory rhetoric, there is no fear of retribution, we are free to air our viewpoint even if we don’t always do it eloquently.  I’m grateful for those who can disagree peaceably and respectfully and without damaging relationships and friendships.
  • I’m thankful for family,  gathering this week. For food on the table and the resources that provide it  all – and so much more.photo-1475502085205-ffe028919c87
  • I’m thankful for  farmers who provide us all the good, healthy food we can eat. They are the backbone of this country – where would we be without them?
  • I’m thankful for our military; the fact that they put their lives on the line,  and their families’ lives on hold. Too many make the ultimate sacrifice  for our safety, for our freedom, and for freedom of people around the world.  There is no greater gift than that.
  • I’m thankful for people whose word still means something. People of integrity, who do their job and honor their commitment like it’s the most important thing on earth. From teachers to health care workers to the kid who bags your groceries and the handyman who shows up when he says he will.  It always touches me when someone does a really good job and  takes real pride in giving you the best service they can.
  • And I’m thankful that we can worship God freely and without fear. Anytime, anywhere, any religionphoto-1461709444300-a6217cec3dff we choose. It’s a pretty awesome privilege, if you think about it.

I urge you to find something to be grateful for this week. And to thank God for it.  No matter how bleak things may seem, there is always something to appreciate!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever. Ps 107:1

At the risk of sounding cliche, life  really is  10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

What’s at the top of your gratitude list?

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Why You Don’t Need to Fear Donald Trump Part II

Take heart, America! We are bigger and better than one man or one woman and it will take a lot more than a single contentious election to bring us down. Have faith. Pray for those in power. Get involved. It will all work out in the end, because God is ultimately in charge.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Ps 118:8
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? Ps 27:1

When we couple our faith with postive, productive action, we can overcome fear. It feels good to rant on facebook but I think we can all agree it doesn’t really do much. Better to use your feelings to propel yourself into action.  I say this respectfully yet regrettably – and I most definitely include myself in this –  The apathy and the ignorance about politics in our country is appalling and  sad.  

That is one thing Donald Trump did for us.  He got people’s attention. He fired us up, whether we were for him or against him. He inspired a call to action for so many. Whether you are happy he won, or you’re upset about it, either way, you’re fired up, you’re motivated. Now is the time to
DO SOMETHING!

Some ideas to consider:

  • Write your congressman about issues that concern you
  • Get on their mailing list to stay informed
  • Read.  Use the internet to educate yourself.photo-1464660756002-dd9f9a92b01b
  • Brush up on our political history
  • Contact your party’s local chapter to see what you can do to help. In Michigan, the websites are:  http://www.migop.org/   http://www.michigandems.com/
  • Volunteer. Anywhere. Becoming more aware of the needs right in your own community makes you a more informed citizen.

For a big picture perspective on how much our Founding Fathers were willing to risk for the sake of our present freedom and democratic society, Here is an excellent video narrated by Paul Harvey about the signers of the Declaration of Independencehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX-APfe3i8Q

After watching what those men and their families were willing to risk to preserve our freedom, I hope you are inspired to get involved, even in some small way.

And one final suggestion?

  • Pray.  For God to give our next president the grace, compassion, and wisdom to lead our country in the right direction. To keep us safe. To unite and not divide. To help those who truly need it and to do it all fairly, treating everyone with equality and pursuing and preserving liberty and justice for all.

 

 

Why You Don’t Need to Fear Donald Trump

Let’s face it, after a presidential election, roughly half of American voters are  thrilled and the other half are upset. Rarely is an election a run away anymore. Not since Reagan in 1984 (nearly 59%) has a president won with more than 55% of the popular vote.(http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/popular-vote/)  Most presidents are elected with 45-55% of the popular vote.

I feel compelled to mention the following:   Because of the negativity surrounding both major candidates, I decided about a month before the election (when I was still unsure of how I would be voting) that I would not tell anyone who I chose to vote for. Even my husband does not know who I voted for, and I plan to keep it that way. The way I see it, you have five basic choices in each presidential election; Democrat, Republican, Third Party, Write In, or stay home and not vote. In the six elections that I have voted in prior to this one, I have voted twice Democrat, twice Republican, once Third Party and once I wrote in a candidate. So, I am truly an independent voter and have no real affiliation for either major party.

I think what scares half of Americans after this election is the same thing that excites the other half- Trump is not a politician. For sure, he’s going to shake things up. That could go very badly or it could go very well, that remains to be seen. But he is going to be the next president and he needs to be given a chance.

Some things to consider:

  • No one runs this country alone. Trump is a smart, successful businessman. He’ll surround himself with people whose strengths will be utilized to their fullest.
  • His campaign promises will be tempered by sanity. He will adjust the extremes to align with reality. Cooler heads will prevail. “Campaigning is not governing” I have heard the pundits say.
  • Our country has weathered worse; we can withstand anything for four years.
  • The beauty of term limits and re-elections.  An opportunity for change presents itself every four years.

No president can change this country single-handedly in  four short years. President Obama made changes that  some weren’t happy with and now Trump will tweak them back a bit (Obamacare, for instance).  It’s all give and take, the pendulum swings left and right over time, as it should.  No one man or administration can bring our country down. Our foundation was built stronger than that and we are better than that as a people.

Incidentally, if Clinton had gotten in, most of what I just wrote would still apply.

Built-In Safeguards

If you think about the magnificent job our founding fathers did in crafting the constitution, the document our  country is based on, you will realize that they took into account so many possibilities of error, failure and circumstances and adjusted for it.  

Separation of powers, checks and balances, safeguards, the whole nine yards.  I don’t claim to understand it all, but it works, and it works well. We are still standing. We have survived good presidents, bad presidents, riots, protests, scandals, impeachments, the pendulum swinging left and right, and we still manage to be the greatest Republic on earth.

For a great website on our constitution visit http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-amendments/

No single administration, in four or eight years can destroy America. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and  I believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired.  It is no secret that the founding fathers were men of faith and I believe that  God’s guidance played a role in these men coming  up with such a beautiful, complete, all-encompassing plan of governance. The foresight they had was astounding. So respected is this document, that over 100 countries have used our constitution as a template for their own.  (for a great website on our constitution visit  http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-amendments/ )

Another good website to check out is by Tara Ross, a retired lawyer and author of several books on American history and government. She does an excellent job explaining the electoral college here:://www.taraross.com/2016/10/electoral-college-myth-8-candidates-who-lose-the-popular-vote-shouldnt-win-the-white-house-the-system-is-rigged/

Come back next time for part II on this topic

Who Are You Praying for On Election Day?

As Christians, we all know how important prayer is. We pray mostly small, intimate prayers. Prayers about our own lives, our spouses and kids, our  jobs, our finances, our own relationships and then, for the needs of those around us, our families,  friends, acquaintances,  co-workers.

But how many of us go outside our intimate circle and pray for those we don’t know? How many of us really take time to regularly pray for society in general or American politics, for instance.  How many of us pray for our country regularly?  

I’ll be honest, I don’t.praying-man-silloutte

Or, at least, I haven’t until just this week when I was thinking…I wonder what God thinks about the mess we’re in today, in American politics?  I can’t even imagine which way he would want it to go. What does he think when he looks down on us, in this election year. How disappointed he must be in our behavior, attitude and reactions.  Is the average Christian right now praying for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?  If you’re a Democrat are you praying for Trump?  If you’re a Republican are you praying for Clinton?

Jesus said to love God and love your neighbors and that all the commands and the prophets hang on these two.  But shortly after that, he said pray for those who persecute you. Many of us feel that it has come to that in politics. That the other side is ‘persecuting’ us.  

If your candidate doesn’t get in, what are you going to do for the next four year?  Complain, point the finger, sling insults and say see I told you so?  Is that what we’re called to as Christians?  Or are you going to pray for those who persecute you?  We are all in this together. It’s still my country, it’s still your country, either way.   No matter who gets in.  We’re still all on the same side,  we are still all Americans.  The office of the presidency should be respected no matter who is occupying it.  Whoever gets in will represent our country and if the ‘wrong’ person gets in, in your opinion, even more reason to pray for them.

Non- believers will say  “Oh, pray, pray, pray, you’re going to sit in your little prayer huddles and pray and you think that does something –  Well, it doesn’t ”    and you know, I understand that viewpoint.  Three years ago that was my viewpoint – quit wasting your time praying and Do something.  Well I think the ideal lies, as it usually does, somewhere in between.

To just sit and pray is not enough and to do, do, do, without prayer and asking for God’s guidance is not enough either.  So if the ‘wrong’ person gets in, we really, more than ever, need pray and then to mobilize and  do something. We need to motivate even more so if our guy or gal didn’t get in. Pray, yes. But maybe spend some of the time that we use spouting off on social media to write our congressman about a specific issue that hits close to home. Or contact your party’s local  chapter to see what they recommend you do to help and to show your support. It seems like posting on social media satisfies the need to make our voices heard without following it up with any action. There is a false sense of accomplishment.

The concept of praying for your opponents applies in other areas of our lives as well. Are feminists praying for sexists, are the more tolerant praying for the more bigoted, are cops praying for criminals, are those who love praying for those who hate?  Are liberals and conservatives praying for each other? Or are we all just hating whoever doesn’t agree with us?  

We are not going to change another person’s heart by insisting that they see things our way.  Only truth spoken in love can change someone’s heart. We need to stop trying to force our will onto other people. No matter how right you are or how right you think you are, you’re not  going to change someone else by spewing hatred, by demanding that they’re wrong and  you’re right.  Only love is going to change someone’s heart. and it’s not simply love that we possess that can do it.  It’s tapping into the power of God’s love that changes hearts and minds.

God uses us to communicate His love. His power is  in  us. And the best way to tap into the power of God’s love is through prayer.

If you want to change hearts and minds, ask God, in prayer, to help you speak His truth, in love.

Do you believe that prayer can benefit our political system and society at large?

Loving Your Enemies, Praying for Your Adversaries

So, as Christians, in today’s society, we are often thought to be judgemental, hypocritical and homophobic. But what are Christian philosophies, really?

Well, at the very heart of the Christian philosophy of how we should believe and behave are 5 words. And Jesus said them:

Love God… Love your neighbor… (paraphrased from Lk 10:27, Mt 22:37-39, Mk 12:30-31 )

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Simple idea, but not always easy to accomplish. And later Jesus added that we should pray for our adversaries.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Mt 5:44

Hmph. What a concept.

Imagine that. Praying for your enemies. Is anyone out there praying  for ISIS? Are any Democrats praying for Republicans or vice versa?   Are Christians praying for those who are pro choice and pro death penalty? And what about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – are their Christian detractors praying for them, or simply complaining about them and insulting them and criticizing them?

Imagine if each one of us, no matter what ‘side’ we are on, no matter our beliefs, convictions, propensities or affiliations… what if we decided to pray for our enemies and our opponents?  And they for us?

Oh my gosh.  What would happen?

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You don’t have to feel love for them, necessarily, at the get-go.  Just maybe don’t hate them. And then pray for them.  How radical is that?  What could change?

At the very least, praying for someone persecuting you can bring you a measure of peace. Giving the problem over to God, acknowledging that fighting back is not going to solve anything, casting your cares unto God, can bring immense relief.

To be clear, in a physically violent situation, self defense is warranted. I’m not advocating our military put down their weapons and pray instead. Or that if you are being physically threatened, you should not defend yourself any way you can. I am referring more to the arguing, the bickering, the slander and meanness especially as seen in the atmosphere of our current election process. Friends are becoming foes over serious disagreements on policy and social issues and I am suggesting we might do well, instead to pray for a change of heart for those we disagree with.

Jesus was, really, the most radical of all in introducing this new philosophy.  He said don’t fight your enemies. Pray for them. He had a modest upbringing and grew to be a humble servant, and a benevolent, forgiving King.  In those days, he was as radical as they came.  No one expected someone like him. The Israelites were praying for a warrior to come fight their battle. But Jesus came in peace, with peace.  AS peace. Strewing peace in his wake wherever he went.  Jesus said    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…”  Jn 14:27     He prayed for his enemies and he held his peace. It’s no coincidence, I think, that these two things went hand in hand.

To sum it up:  Praying for -instead of fighting-  your enemies  =  increased peace in your life.

And who couldn’t use more of that?

For a more in-depth look at what the bible has to say about peace visit   http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2013/08/31/top-10-bible-verses-about-peace-with-commentary/

 

What do you think:

Can approaching hatred and opposition with peace and prayer really work?