Donny's Ramblings


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Progress Report: I Still Let Christians Bother Me

It’s 1:30am and I am nowhere close to tired.  Perhaps that’s because I slept in until 1pm after chatting with a friend into the wee hours of the morning.  I don’t remember the last time I was still awake after 4am, as was the case yesterday.

So I’m gonna write a bit, something I haven’t done nearly enough lately.

I still let Christians bother me.  On Sunday night I listened to a message where the speaker said something about how often times the longer a person serves God the further that person gets from the people He wants reached, and that is so damned true, isn’t it?  We get caught up in our iGroups, our church families, our speaking engagements… I remember the honeymoon days, just a bit over two years ago, when I finally encountered and surrendered my life to a living God I’d heard about all my life but had never truly met.  Those days were amazing.  Church politics was something I wanted nothing to do with, and would ask that people leave me out of such discussions.  When I went to this one particular church in town I was ignorant to the fact that almost every aspect of their ministry required the transfer of money, soon to even include paying to “volunteer” one’s service (can you believe that?).  The reason I was ignorant is because I simply went to church to receive from God, and purposely sat in the front so nothing would distract me from that end.  But now I let such things bother me.  Again.  I forget the fact that if God once used a jackass to deliver His message He can surely use money hungry clergymen, in spite of themselves.

I’ve seen myself become more “churchified” and less raw.  And raw, my friends, is where I want to be.  When I called my dad in September of 2006 to tell him I’d given my life to God he told me to remain true to myself as well.  I haven’t done the best job doing so, ’cause if I had I wouldn’t find myself watching my mouth so much, lest I offend the fragile sensibilities of Brother So-and-So.   If you’re one of those who has followed my blog these last few years you may remember the blog post I wrote about Christian Parroting.  Well my friends, the saints still go marching in, speaking an entirely different language than the rest of the world.  And Brother and Sister stick-in-the-butt still think that’s the way things should be.

And I get caught up in all of that.

Instead of ignoring legalism when it raises its head, I argue.  Instead of shutting out problems within the church, I listen.  Instead of spending time with God, I attempt to prove His existence to those who have heard the message and chosen to walk away from it.  And why?  Mostly because I’m argumentative by nature, a battle that wars within me which I’ve not yet won.

Seminary is great.  I’m learning a lot.  My mind is being rewired.  But God please don’t let me become just another typical Christian, wrapped up in my own little bubble world acting nothing like Christ, who is the  MASTER at reaching into the gutter pulling out the stinky and washing them clean with love.  I really need to get my hands dirty again.  May I never become “religious”,  instead simply love and pursue you intently,  letting that love change everything about me.  May I never forget the message that reached me.  May I stop arguing with people who have already been rescued over topics that aren’t reaching those who have not.  May I motivate myself to get off my lazy ass and walk that trail every single day like I used to do, rather than when it “fits my schedule”, because along that trail the two of us have some amazing conversations.  And from that place, all other aspects of life flow smoothly.

I do thank you, my Father, that you’ve placed amazing people into my life (especially BG, who really makes a lot of sense), and I also thank you for those who kicked my butt so much at the beginning of this journey.  May the butt kickings return.  They really did me a lot of good.


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And I Wonder, Still I Wonder

We’re told that if we want to know God we should read our Bible. But how did those He used to write the Bible know Him, and why can’t I encounter Him the same way they did? And since the Canon of the Bible wasn’t decided upon until the 4th century, did all who lived beforehand NOT know Him to the extent those of us who possess a Bible are able to know Him?

Do we put too much emphasis on reading the Bible and not enough on living in communion with God and conversing with Him in person?

These are questions I have, as I study for the exegesis class I’m currently taking.


94 Comments

Is God a Baby Killer?

A few weeks ago I watched John McCain on The View, where he stated that he believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned. On this, I agree with John McCain.  Too bad he has little power to do anything about it.  In another interview he publicly stated that, if President, the Justices he’d nominate to the Supreme Court would NOT have to pass a litmus test in regards to their opinions on abortion.  In other words… business as usual.

18 hours ago I received an email from a woman who attends the same church I attend. She wrote, “I will be so bold as to say that anyone who calls themself a Christian should not be ABLE to cast a vote for a baby killer.”

She is, of course, referring to Barack Obama, who is Pro-Choice.

Abortion is an important topic in our country, and one on which most people have strong emotions one way or another.  My position is clear:  I hate abortion.  I don’t think a woman should be allowed to kill her unborn baby and not face the same consequences any other murderer faces.  And when it boils down to it, that’s exactly what Roe v Wade does:  removes the threat of earthly consequences from the Doctors who perform abortions and the women who CHOOSE to have them.

But, dear Christian, does the legality of abortion make it a viable option for you?  No?  Why not?  Could it possibly be because one’s “choice” is actually a condition of the heart? The ONLY way to rid this country of abortion is to change hearts!  No law will ever change a person’s heart.

Since he is not a Medical Doctor, I think it’s a safe bet to say that Barack Obama has never performed an abortion.

Unless he’s a freak of nature, I think it’s a safe bet to say that Barack Obama has never personally had an abortion, either.

But if Barack Obama is a “baby killer” because he espouses a belief that a pregnant woman should be allowed to make the decision as to whether or not she’ll terminate her pregnancy, if THAT is the criteria to make one a “baby killer”, then perhaps we should consider this question as well:

Is GOD HIMSELF a baby killer?

After all, God gave each of us free will to make choices in our lives, choices which ultimately lead to death, didn’t He?  And millions, perhaps billions, have made those choices, haven’t they?  So does allowing choice make God Himself a murderer?

I’d imagine that all who proclaim a belief in God are also convinced that He has the last word.  He makes the final judgment.  Those who make the decision to murder their children might escape punishment here on earth, but He dishes out eternal consequences.

Senator Obama is not responsible for the choices of pregnant women or the Doctors who perform abortions.  With my own ears I’ve heard him state the opinion that he personally detests the thought of abortion, but believes each woman has the right to make such a choice.  He may favor giving a “pass” from earthly consequences, but Barack Obama is not a baby killer any more than God is a baby killer.  In His infinite power, God could quite easily intercede and stop abortion, or murder, or rape… or any other man made, sin inspired malady.  But He doesn’t.  He allows us to make our choices, yet wishes us to know that there are consequences for our decisions.

There is also redemption available, isn’t there?  There is a cure for the heart condition that leads to a person being capable of ending the life of the innocent.  The final payment for our sins is eternal death.  We can make payment in person, or we can allow God Himself to pay it for us.  The choice is ours.  He’s opened an account in our name for the exact amount owed by each and every one of us for the sins we’ve committed…  sins that have the exact same result as that of a woman or doctor ending a child’s life:  eternal separation from the Creator of the Universe.  The payment in that account can be claimed by any person at any time in any place simply by CHOOSING to say, “I’ll take it!  Thank you SO MUCH!”.

When God made a personal appearance, in the flesh, right here on this earth He asked those of us who have accepted that payment to become His doctors,  offering the cure for this world’s bad heart condition to others.  It seems to me that sometimes we don’t see the bigger picture.  Some of us would rather scream at the young mother walking into an abortion clinic than to embrace her, tell her about the CURE, and offer to help her take care of the child in her womb. Others might think it’s a better use of our time to accuse a man like Senator Obama of being a baby killer based on his opinion that earthly consequences should be removed for those who make this very bad choice.

It’s much easier for us to sit around and complain about HIS opinion than to get out and make an effort to change hearts, isn’t it?  We’d rather sit around talking about who will outlaw what, ignoring more than 3 decades of history that shows no politician is going to do anything to overturn a “flawed decision”, than getting out our doctor bags and making house calls.

I hate that “choice” just as much as anyone.  I also despise the idea of capital punishment because I don’t think it’s any man’s place to decide when any other person’s time to choose Eternal Life should run out.  My stomach turns at the choice that has lead to the killing of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi women and children under the guise of “stopping terror.”

I read one of those email forwards going around in which the following was stated:  “I’m voting Republican because Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush’s daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush Junior needed a ‘we can’t find Bin Laden’ diversion.” Although the intent of the original writer is clear, there’s a good point hidden inside that sentence… there is NO innocence in this election…  neither candidate running for President is innocent.  Barack Obama advocates allowing women to make the choice to end innocent life, yet John McCain supported the decision to ORDER our military personnel to end innocent life.

(that same email also stated, “I’m voting Republican because trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony” but that’s a whole other topic…  one can find hypocrisy wherever he looks)

In wrestling with my decision on which of these two men I’ll be casting my vote for I can’t help but think, “If he was a bit younger, I’d write in Billy Graham (who happens to be a lifelong Democrat by the way) as my choice for President.”  Under his watch, more than 2.5 million hearts from around the world have been united with the cure for what ails ’em.  But since Reverend Graham is more interested in promoting Christ than politics, I doubt he’d accept the position even if it was offered.

When we make ignorant statements like the one that prompted this post we don’t do God any favors.  It’s okay to disagree with Senator Obama in regards to his opinions on abortion.  It’s okay to disagree with Senator McCain’s support of a deceptive decision to go to war.  But I think it’s divisive to bully others into voting our way by calling candidates “baby killers” (or “terrorists”).

Can we instead maintain civil discussion, vote our conscience, leave the “conscience” of others between them and God, and decide to unite as one body in our efforts to offer the cure to our country’s heart condition?  Is that too much to ask?

After all, healed hearts make issues like abortion… moot.

Please take the time to read this article, written by best selling Christian author Donald Miller and published today on his blog.


11 Comments

Paul's Thoughts On Sex

I really enjoyed reading this and wanted to share it with you. This is 1st Corinthians 6:12-20 from “The Message” version.

Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!

God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.

There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever-the kind of sex that can never “become one.”

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?

The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.


22 Comments

Paul’s Thoughts On Sex

I really enjoyed reading this and wanted to share it with you. This is 1st Corinthians 6:12-20 from “The Message” version.

Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!

God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not.

There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever-the kind of sex that can never “become one.”

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?

The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.


62 Comments

As a Former Pro-Life Leader How DARE You Support Pro-Choice Obama?

Being self employed means that I sleep until my eyes open on their own. Rarely do I wake up to the sounds of an alarm. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s heavenly. I have a morning ritual of sorts: I grab my iPhone and check my email almost immediately after waking up. Once that has been accomplished, I browse the mobile versions of various news sites to see if any major news stories have arisen, then I’ll sometimes login to the mobile versions of MySpace or Facebook depending on whether or not I’ve received any new messages or friends requests.

This morning was no different.  In my inbox I received notice that a high school friend added me on Facebook, so I logged in to check out her profile and to see what she’s been up to. After reading her profile, I noticed an article posted by another Facebook “friend”: THIS ARTICLE, written by Frank Schaeffer, an Evangelist’s son who grew up in a strict fundamentalist household, just like I did.

But here’s the reason I changed my plans to walk the Sacramento River Trail this morning and to instead spend time writing this blog post: Frank and his family helped establish the Pro-Life Movement yet Frank, as he wrote in this article back in February, is both Pro-Life and Pro-Obama.  I just had to blog about his writings.

Many of the things he wrote in this article could just as easily have been written by me.  In fact, I’ve said some of the same things right here in this blog.  Here are a few lines I identified with:

As you know I was a lifelong Republican until I reregistered as an Independent in 2006, after I just couldn’t take the Rove brigade’s dirty tricks, lies and slime any longer.

Funny, cause I have been a Republican since I was old enough to vote, yet just a few weeks ago re-registered as an Independent because I’m disgusted by some of the things Republicans have been doing to this country, and the world,  and no longer want to belong to the party of the Good Ol’ Boys.

I know rather a lot about the politics of the “life issues.” And I know you know that is true because you are calling me a traitor for supporting Senator Obama because of my leadership in the early stages of the pro-life movement.

I received an email that let me know I was likely not truly a Christian if I could even consider voting for Barack Obama.  True story.

I know (as you pro-lifers do if you’re honest) that the Republicans have milked the abortion issue, as have the Evangelical and Roman Catholic leadership, for every dime it’s worth for fundraising, votes, power and empire-building, without changing much if anything. As I said, I also am fully aware that Senator Obama is pro-choice. I think his pro-choice views are out of character with his otherwise generous and enlightened world view.

That first line… AMEN, Brother Frank!  I’ve said nearly the same things here.  I think mine have always been worded more like this:  Republicans use the abortion issue to gain the Christian vote, and then forget about abortion until it’s time to run for re-election.

That said… First, a nod to reality: even if Roe were reversed (it won’t be no matter who is president) the abortion pill and the acceptance of at least some types of legal abortion by most Americans guarantees there will be access to abortion. Besides, on a state-by-state basis abortion would remain legal in most states no matter what the court does. And as we have seen the Republicans haven’t really changed anything in thirty years.

Again, haven’t we talked about these same things right here in this blog?  Roe-v-Wade will not be reversed, no matter who is President.  I’ve said that numerous times, but I think the point is best summed up by the comments of one of my readers, who wrote:

Anyone who votes Republican with the belief that GOP appointments to the SC will overturn Roe v. Wade should read about Stare Decisis. It is one of the principles that the Court views as a foundation for all decisions. Almost every Federal Judge (on the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts) clearly and unequivocally rejects the notion that the Supreme Court would EVER revisit a previous case and rule the opposite way. This would delegitimate all prior Court decisions and make any other opinion up for grabs if the justices change. The Court is supposed to be apolitical (the reason for lifetime appointments) and as such if it allowed decisions to be switched because of new appointments to the bench it would serve to politicize (to an even greater degree) the Court.

Frank states the following:

So what do we who find abortion abhorrent do if we want to deal in reality rather than fantasies and slogans of winner-take-all propaganda? The reality is that we need to foster a climate in which we can reduce the number of abortions and also keep the moral — rather than legal — debate alive.

We can’t do this by concentrating on politics, or silver bullets such as trying for that one magic court appointment. It’s the “holistic” approach that is really what’s important if our goal is to reduce the number of abortions rather than just “win” political games.

How many times have YOU heard someone talk about the “Supreme Court Justice” the next Conservative President will appoint?  You know, that magical Justice who will somehow tip the scales and remove Roe-v-wade from before our eyes?  Never mind the fact that Republican appointed Justices, as I’ve pointed out a few times, currently occupy 7 out of the 9 seats.  Never mind the fact that Republican appointed Justices made Roe v Wade a reality to begin with.  Yet, as Frank points out, the Republicans haven’t really changed things on the topic of abortion in 30 years.  And they won’t do so after this election, either!

I enjoyed this paragraph as well:

For all you sanctimonious Evangelicals out there, also note: when it comes to squeaky clean family values, Senator Obama — not Senator McCain — should be your role model. The Republican right wants us to draw back in horror from Obama because he is pro-choice, but this is the same group working to get a philanderer who abandoned his wife because she had a disfiguring accident, elected.

Have you read the stories about this?  I’ve read quite a few of them, from many different view points, but haven’t really said too much about it here on this blog.  Things are already stirred up amongst readers, because so many Christians still buy into the idea that real Christians must vote for the Republican Party.  Please do yourself a favor… find all the information you can about this topic.  Yes, John McCain is a war hero.  But he returned from that war to a wife who had been disfigured by an auto accident while he was gone, and he immediately began cheating on her, eventually leaving her for his current wife.

Frank Schaeffer sums up the reasons I plan to vote for Barack Obama with the first two sentences of this paragraph:

It isn’t just a matter of voting for Obama. Americans who want there to be a country left in which to argue our issues must vote against McCain. As his support for the Bush lies about Iraq shows McCain is hung up on his own version of post-Vietnam traumatic stress disorder. This is a man who would take our civilian culture down in flames and sacrifice it to his sense of death-or-glory military “honor.” How do you “win” a wrong war? McCain will make the world more dangerous. You think Bush was a cowboy? Just try McCain.

I’m NOT a Democrat.  I’m voting AGAINST McCain.  Barack Obama is simply the better of the two viable candidates we’ve been offered this election year.  What can we do to bring a third party into real contention?  Any ideas?  (or how about if all of us Christians write in a candidate, like Billy Graham for instance – tee hee).

The contrast could not have been more clear than on August 16 in the interview between pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church and Obama and McCain. Obama gave real and thoughtful answers, often trying to explore a moral question deeply. McCain offered nothing more than canned applause lines and anecdotes from his tired simplistic stump speech.

McCain fed pre-programed red meat to the Evangelical faithful who were packing the auditorium, but not much more. He parroted all the “right” lines about abortion, the same empty phrases Bush, parrots, Bush’s father parroted and Reagan and Ford parroted.

“When does life begin?” asked Warren. “At conception!” shot back McCain. The Evangelical crowd goes wild! See?! That’s our guy!

And where do the tired canned pro-life “correct answers” get us? Nowhere.

I agree.  100%.

I will be voting for Senator Obama and am fighting for his election because I am pro-life.

Me too, Frank.  Meeeeee tooooooo.

Please, dear Constant Reader, take the time to read the entire article:

Frank!  As a Former Pro-Life Leader How Dare You Support Pro-Choice Obama?

^^^ Just Do It: Click The Link ^^^

And then be sure to read this one too:

Why I’m Pro-Life and Pro-Obama

^^^ Just Do It: Click The Link ^^^

Heck, just read any number of Frank Schaeffer’s articles:

A Listing Of Frank’s Other Blog Posts

^^^ Just Do It: Click The Link ^^^


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Donald Miller's Benediction at the Democratic National Convention

Donald Miller was asked to give the closing Benediction Monday night at the Democratic National Convention.  Here’s the prayer (around 1:44 into the video there is a 10 second silence for some reason):

Before the benediction was given, Don shared his thoughts with Christianity Today magazine.  I really enjoyed what he had to say:

Thoughts?


86 Comments

Donald Miller’s Benediction at the Democratic National Convention

Donald Miller was asked to give the closing Benediction Monday night at the Democratic National Convention.  Here’s the prayer (around 1:44 into the video there is a 10 second silence for some reason):

Before the benediction was given, Don shared his thoughts with Christianity Today magazine.  I really enjoyed what he had to say:

Thoughts?


3 Comments

Focusing on What's Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


6 Comments

Focusing on What’s Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)