Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Mercy Papers (4)

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(John 3:19-21)

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Reclaim the Bow

Discovering Original Mercy

COPYRIGHT RESERVED, 2017

The Mercy Papers (4)

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In the beginning, we are told that everything God made was very good, and it was good for all of His creation.  There was abundance, and God was intimately available to Adam and Eve all times.  No struggles, no envy, no selfishness.  But it didn’t last.

The freedom God gave our progenitors allowed them to choose who and what they loved most.  They chose themselves as the ones they loved above all, even God, and that put an end to Paradise.  One cannot live in perfect joy if one cannot live within the boundaries God establishes for our protection and satisfaction.  Everything, quite literally, went to hell.  And it’s been sliding that way ever since.

We have been seeing strong vestiges of that hell in our country over the past few years, in a variety of ways, but in no way more troubling and threatening than the racial strife which rears its ugly head over and over again.  One crisis starts to simmer down and another immediately comes to the boil, and there never seems to be any resolution.  The problem, though, isn’t political, but spiritual: racism—in all of its forms, and from all of its sources—is rooted in the sin of choosing self over God, pride over love.  And we’re all infected and affected by it.

The Bible is clear about these matters.  God created us as we are, and His glory is magnified in the uniqueness and diversity of His creation.  If all that He created among the flowers was the rose, we might enjoy it, but we are impressed with the sunflower, the peony, and the daffodil as well.  If all that He created was the horse, we would be blessed, but we are abundantly touched when we also observe the owl, the butterfly, and the moose.  And above all of His other creative efforts, He created humanity to have a special relationship with Him.  If all He had created was people with white skin, we would be bereft of His greater glory in those whose skin pigments are different:  black, brown, yellow, red.  A rainbow of one color is not impressive—it is the multiple colors that make it beautiful.  So it is with our world.


Here is the truth:  to hate, or to be bigoted toward another person, because of their God-given appearance, insults the creative design and glory of God, and doing so is nothing less than sin, for which we shall be judged.  There is no room for this is the Christian’s life, and there is no place for it in the church.  It’s time we all stand up, speak up, and act up about this—without the retaliatory violence we see these days—but with firm insistence that racism go to where it belongs—to hell.

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TMP (4) is from B&B with major contributor Chuck Legvold who is Senior Pastor of Aurora, Illinois' Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Immediate financial assistance is imperative to begin the movement's initiatives.  Please send your seed money to The Grove (4210 Countryside Estates, Poplar Grove, Illinois 61065) or First Presbyterian Church (221 N. Main Street, Belvidere, Illinois 61008) and write "Reclaim the Bow" in the memo. 

You will be glad you did as we join hands to reclaim the bow and discover original mercy.

Forward, duplicate, and disseminate TMPs.

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Blessings and Love!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why Are Preachers Portrayed As Such...?

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(John 3:19-21)

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    I went to see Church Basement Ladies at the Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Illinois on August 13.

    Great friends!

    Great meal!

    Great acting!

    I didn't pay!

    Great!

    Essentially, it's a musical comedy about, uh, church ladies - Isn't that special? - who do their opinionated best to serve their traditional understanding of church if not always Jesus by the book.

    Though it's set in a Lutheran ethos with some insider jokes that befuddle or turn off Catholics and Calvinists, there's a lot of transference and humor at the expense of, uh, church ladies who do their opinionated best to serve their traditional understanding of church if not always Jesus by the book.

    Of course, it feeds ethnic and ecclesiastical pride which - along with political, socioeconomic, ideological, gender, and other idolatrous human inventions - are totally antithetical to what Jesus has in mind as prayed in John 17; but, really, churches and Jesus haven't been on the same page since human arrogance began trumping apocalypse enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture.

    Really, it was a great show and I'm not going to ruin it or dissuade anyone from seeing it by reporting on it like Trump on media or media on Trump.

    Buuuuuuuut there was one thing about it that really bummed me out.

    Pastor Gunderson.

    It wasn't the actor.

    He played the role to pret' near perfection.

    It wasn't the name.

    My favorite faithful friend and chiropractor is a Gunderson.

    It's just that the playwright, director, choreographer, and, I guess, book authors who inspired the show portray the pastor as such a...

    Maybe I'm wrong; but except for that dopey, dark, and sick Preacher show on AMC, people who do what I do for a vocational living are portrayed as such...

    I know churches for better or worse or how you judge aren't as, uh, masculine as they used to be; but why are we of the male gender in vestments portrayed as such...?

    Except for that debauched Preacher, why are most preachers portrayed as such...in movies, musicals, media, and just about everywhere else?

    O.K., I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said he would have become a preacher if so many of them didn't look like undertakers; but, again, do most people think most preachers are, uh, not that, uh, masculine anymore?

    Don't get me wrong.

    I'm all for feminine women and masculine men and, uh, uh, uh,...whatever...if it's/they're true to God's design for 'em.

    I've got no axe to grind against less than feminine women or less than masculine men.

    Jesus loves all of 'em/us; and because I love Jesus, I do too.

    God loves the world and that includes everybody; which is why Brian and I have felt called to Reclaim the Bow and discover original mercy (please click on editions of The Mercy Papers in the right column).

    I'm just curious.

    Why are guys who do what I do for a vocational living portrayed as such...?

    Nothing eternal or even existential against 'em, but Sinead, Tiny Tim, Twiggy, MJ, or Marilyn Manson aren't my vocational role models.

    While Jesus is the perfectly divine pattern for Christians, my lesser human heroes include the desert fathers, Francis, Bonhoeffer, MLK, Jr., Mante, Mother Teresa, Nouwen, Billy and Franklin Graham, Peterson, Chan, and the like who've never been called...

    Again, I'm a reclaiming-the-rainbow-discovering-original-mercy 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 kinda, uh, undershepherding, uh, kinda, uh, guy.

    I'm just curious why, uh, guys like me are portrayed as such...

    Induction?

    Deduction?

    Although Dr. Macleod always said to end with a declarative rather than interrogative, maybe that's too...

    What do you think?

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Blessings and Love!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Mercy Papers - 3

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(John 3:19-21)

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Reclaim the Bow

Discovering Original Mercy

COPYRIGHT RESERVED, 2017


The Mercy Papers (3)

      The Church’s mission is to change the world for Christ’s sake.

            Paul: “Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do; and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.”

            Worldly religionists reimagine reality: “People created God in their own image.  People patterned God after themselves.”

            Wordly believers follow Jesus by the book with enthusiasm and without equivocation.

            With Jesus as Master and the Bible as manual, the Church prays God’s “will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.”

            Kung: “…[The Church’s agenda is]…to discover what is permanent…originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of two thousand years…This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!”

            Worldly religionists reverse the order of sovereignty: “I know that’s what Jesus and the Bible say, but we think…”

            Wordly believers follow Jesus by the book with enthusiasm and without equivocation.

            While there are instances of correspondence, worldly religionists and Wordly believers disagree irreconcilably on the existential within the context of the eternal.

            Worldly religionists wink at eternity in favor of egocentrically existential satisfactions occasionally coincidental to Jesus by the book.

            Wordly believers favor the eternal over the existential; praying/practicing satisfactions increasingly conforming to Jesus by the book.

            Worldly religionists elevate ego over revelation; prompting/promoting inherited, imagined, and learned behaviors.

            Wordly believers subordinate ego to revelation best expressed/enfleshed in Jesus and explained in the Bible; transforming inherited, imagined, and learned behaviors by attending to rather than contending with over 2K years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity.

            Worldly religionists embrace and enable the naturally inherited, imagined, and learned behaviors.

            Wordly believers overcome natural behaviors by supernatural regeneration; feeling/being born again from above by grace through intimacy with Jesus.

            Worldly/natural behaviors are irregular, inverted, irascible, and irreconcilable.

            It is natural to divide and destroy by class, color, gender, religion, politics, and other idolatrous human inventions

            Wordly/supernatural behaviors love through grace and mercy.

            It is supernatural to unite, esteem, and extend agape, forgiveness, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, humility, and self-control without discrimination, segregation, or degradation.

            Worldly religionists bow at the altar of naturally inherited, imagined, and learned behaviors: being “born this way” becomes normative.

            Wordly believers bow only before God and pray/seek/labor to overcome naturally pejorative behaviors insulting God’s holiness and injuring God’s children by supernatural deliverance available to anyone through increased intimacy with Jesus by the book as guided by the Holy Spirit.

            While the worldly will rationalize natural behaviors insulting God’s holiness and injuring His children, the Wordly know they must first transform themselves by conforming to Jesus by the book before changing the world for Christ’s sake.

            If we really want to get along, the natural must be abandoned in favor of the supernatural.

            “Something by Someone more divine” is the only antidote to “It’s only human/natural.”

            It’s only human/natural to hate, hit, and hurt.

            Love through grace and mercy isn’t natural.

            It’s divine.

            Simply, the world won’t change for the better to everyone’s benefit without the Word.

            “Being born this way” is not the answer to the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of the world because natural birth embraces and enables the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance.

            “Being born again and from above” is the supernatural solution to natural ailments.

            As the Word salts, shines, and leavenates, the world turns righteously.


Evolutionary Updates


               TMP (3) contributors are B&B.

               Please consider immediate financial assistance to commence the movement’s initiatives as noted in TMP (1).  Send seed money by check to The Grove (4210 Countryside Estates, Poplar Grove Illinois 61065) or First Presbyterian Church (221 N. Main Street, Belvidere, Illinois 61008) and write “Reclaim the Bow” in the memo.  You will be glad you did as we join hands to discover original mercy and Reclaim the Bow!

               We encourage you to forward, duplicate, and disseminate TMPs.


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Blessings and Love!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Mercy Papers - 2


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(John 3:19-21)

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Reclaim the Bow

Discovering Original Mercy

Copyright Reserved, 2017

    The Mercy Papers (2)

            English is a notoriously imprecise language. Contentions leading to disharmony causing divisions are often provoked when people who may agree substantially, tangentially, minimally, rarely, or not at all cannot or will not communicate semantically.

            An initiative of this movement is to provide opportunities for mature discussions undeterred, detoured, or destroyed by semantics governed by biases that cannot or will not listen patiently as a path to conciliation if not reconciliation.

            Convinced reconciliation is possible through Jesus as focus and filter, we defer immediate as well as eternal judgments to Him alone as Lord and Savior; or as a saint once said, “You love ‘em and let God judge ‘em!”

            With extreme civil, ecclesiastical, political, and socioeconomic partisanship challenging reconciliation, this movement understands conciliation as penultimate to reconciling opportunities through soul-Savior Jesus as Lord of behaviors supernaturally enabling reconciled communities overcoming natural dysfunctions and segregations by class, color, gender, religion, politics, and other idolatries.

            Simply, mercy is a guiding principle of this movement.

            Mercy is complementary to God’s grace-filled love for us and our grace-filled love for others as evidence of loving God.

            Without laboring Biblical languages, the complementary words grace and mercy are intrinsically and irrevocably woven into the fabric of the distinctive agape love ethic of Christianity as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.

            Agape love is praying and laboring for the highest good for everyone regardless of who, what, where, when, or why without needing or expecting response, regard, or reward.

            God expects such love from people who claim to love Him: “Love others as much as I love you…When you are loving others, you are loving Me.”

            Grace is God’s extended and unmerited favor to/for us; providing what we don’t deserve while not inflicting what we deserve.

            Mercy is God’s withheld judgment for insults to His holiness; colloquially, it means He and His “cut slack…cut a break…” Contextually, it means, noting this is a pret’ near perfect example of the challenge of semantics, God errs on the side of gospel over law.  God is our lover not kin to Pharisees.  God and Godly people are kind not cruel.

            Noting our love for God is expressed in our love for others, mercy is when we withhold judgments that proscribe grace-filled love.

            Original mercy is discovered when lavish love is disseminated not discriminated and identifications become irrelevant to the inclusive intentions of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            Original mercy is extended to all without conditions or qualifications.

            Mercy is more about Whom than whom: “God said it!  We believe it!  That settles it!”

            The parable of the Good Samaritan is illustrative.

            A lawyer asks Jesus how he can become righteous and confident about his life after life.

            Jesus repeats the great commandment to love God and love others to love God: “Love God totally and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.”

            Simply, love God and be kind to one another.

            Love God by being kind to one another.

            The parable is provoked when Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?  Who is included in this lavish love?”

            Unpacking the principle of inclusive love through grace and mercy, Jesus tells the story about a man who is mugged and left for dead.  While religious people who don’t walk the talk pass by the man while pursuing their missions not from God, a “good” Samaritan – unexpected hero because of religious profiling and mixed ethnicity – sacrifices time and resources without discrimination to help the man recover and receives recognition from God for proving love for God by loving like God: “He showed mercy…Go and do likewise.”

            Summarily, love through grace and mercy is normative, regular, and even habitual not optional or rare for people who have received Jesus into their heads, hearts, and guts as Lord and Savior.

            As David sang about God through the behaviors of the Godly, “His mercy endures forever!”

            Bob Andrews recorded a conversation parallel to the parable echoing the non-negotiable, compulsory, conciliatory-leading-to-reconciling love/grace/mercy ethic of following Jesus by the book:

                        1st Man: “God forgives you.”
                        2nd Man: “I don’t believe in God.”
                        1st Man: “Well, then, I forgive you, as a friend.  As someone who loves
                                    you, I forgive you.  I believe in you.”

            Many years ago as a cross was being given to me, the presenter said, “Jesus is counting on you!”

            Discovering original mercy includes knowing Jesus is counting on us to love like Him.

Evolutionary Updates


               TMP (2) contributors are B&B.

               Immediate financial assistance is necessary to begin the movement’s initiatives.  We are especially compelled to produce merchandise that will attract inquiry.  If you are being nudged by the Holy Spirit to help fuel this movement, please send a check to The Grove (4210 Countryside Estates, Poplar Grove, Illinois 61065) or First Presbyterian Church (221 N. Main Street, Belvidere, Illinois 61008) and write “Reclaim the Bow” in the memo.  You will be glad you did as we join hands in discovering original mercy.


               Please forward, duplicate, and disseminate TMPs.

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Blessings and Love!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Overcoming Fainting Faith

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(John 3:19-21)

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Scratching the Surface

of

Rejuvenating Faith

(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Overcoming Fainting Faith)

A son’s friend with fainting faith wrote to him, “Does your dad know of any books that would help me with struggling faith?…I am just struggling to believe…I want something…”

When life’s challenges, disappointments, and sorrows along with the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the modern world start piling up, it’s not uncommon for faith to faint.

Surely, the best method to rejuvenate faith is the one that works for you; so the encouragement below, in no particular order, is a smorgasbord of options for anyone counseling someone with fainting faith or anyone, as my son’s friend confessed, struggling to believe.

Testimony – What has a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior done for you?  Recall to rejuvenate!  The only gospel that some people will ever hear or see is the gospel according to you!  The best testimonies follow an outline like this: “Before I knew Jesus as Lord and Savior, I was…Jesus became a part of my life when…Now that Jesus is a part of my life, I am…If I could leave you with one thing, it would be…”

1 Peter 5:6-11 – Read the following sentences aloud and say your name when a ___ appears: “If ___ will humble her/himself under the mighty hand of God, in His good time, He will lift ___ up.  Let Him have all ___’s worries and cares, for He is always thinking about ___ and watching everything that concerns ___.  Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too.  After ___ has suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ will give ___ His eternal glory.  He personally will come and pick ___ up, and set ___ firmly in place, and make ___ stronger than ever.  To Him be all power over all things, forever and ever.  Amen!”

Invitation Prayer – For the first time or again, pray, “Lord, I invite you into my heart as Lord and Savior.  I am sorry for how I have hurt You and hurt others which is the same as hurting You.  I need Your love, mercy, and forgiveness.  I welcome You into my heart.  I thank You for being in my heart now and forever.  I ask You to help me to be Yours from now on in all things at all times in all places with all people for Christ’s sake; as I pray in His name.  Amen!”

Bible – Read it!  It is God’s personal love letter to you/us/everyone!  Find one that you like to read!  There are many translations; and the best one is the one that works for you!  Start with John and Psalms!  Then let the Holy Spirit direct you and enlighten you and rejuvenate you!

Read the Red Letters – Find a Bible with the words of Jesus in red and read them over and over and over until you feel Him in your heart and can say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live; but it is Jesus living in/through/for me!”

Worship – God inhabits the praises of His people!  God honors those who honor Him! 
Those are promises from God in the Bible for you/us/everyone.  The message, music, and entire liturgy may stink in the service; but God still works supernatural miracles of strong calm sanity along happiness and wholeness and joy and safety and eternal security in/through/for people who show up to worship Him.  It/He happens most in worship!

Holy Communion – Often!  Jesus did not say, “Do this in remembrance of Me quarterly…or monthly…or when it’s convenient.”  What happens during the sacrament?
Dr. Macleod always answered, “We get Christ better!” Read the previous paragraph on worship again!  Worship services faithful to Jesus by the book always include the sacrament.

Fellowship and Mission – Garbage in!  Garbage out!  Hang out with Christians!  Our Lord expects us to love the hell out of those who do not know Him; but never to become like them!  Show everyone love and mercy; but never become like people whose beliefs and behaviors insult His holiness and hurt others!  Serve!  You will get closer to Jesus by serving others for Jesus; for He said, “As you do it to/for them, you do it to/for Me!”

Back to the Book – Stop wasting so much time reading books about the Bible.  Read the Bible!  Spend more time reading the book from God than books about the book from God.
There are only so many hours in every day for reading.  Why spend more time in secondary sources when God’s primary source is available to you?

As a struggling ballplayer, I asked my coach, “How can I get better?”

He said, “Practice!  Practice!  Practice!”

Get it?


If you do and do, you will get Him!

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Blessings and Love!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

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