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Second chances for some only – a ‘tolerant’ view

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As Christians we are called to forgive and not judge.  There is no tolerance in this awesome and awful call.  Jesus tells us plainly; “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14,15) And; “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1,2) Christians can’t pick and choose who deserves a second chance because Jesus didn’t; “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And that includes everyone or no one.7cd8b5942e93589775b3e6f2591e0bae

We Canadians pride ourselves as living in a tolerant society but there are real limits to our tolerance. Karla Homolka has become the latest demonstration of this sliding scale of ‘tolerance.’ Chris Selley writes; “By the sound of it, the people of Châteaugay have this well under control. They deserve medals for tolerance, not admonishments to live and let live. It sounds like Homolka’s kids will get the shot they deserve. If the rest of us are of a mind to start sympathizing with criminals and helping them rebuild their lives, I think that’s splendid. Let’s go ahead and sympathize with almost anyone other than Karla Homolka.” (National Post April 21, 2016)  Our secular social tolerance has limits!

And now, Karla Homolka, has yet again fallen under the unforgiving eye of our ‘tolerant’ society with one lone Christian to defend her;

 MONTREAL — As Karla Homolka rushed past news cameras and photographers snapping pictures in front of her children’s private Christian school in Montreal, a woman was pacing behind her, screaming and clapping her hands.
“In the name of Jesus, leave her alone,” she yelled at the throng of reporters. “It is written that everyone of us is sinful and we must forgive, because God is a forgiving God. Leave her alone.”

Jason Magder, Postmedia News May 31, 2017

Althougth the Christian school that Karla’s children attend is not giving in to the lack of forgiveness of some of the parents who take objection to the concept of Christian forgiveness yet they send their children to a Christian school.  I guess they like the idea of Christian values for their families but not for others who they deem ‘undeserving’.  Jason Magder reports;

Several parents told the Montreal Gazette they only became aware of Homolka’s involvement with their school after a man, who called himself a concerned citizen, passed out leaflets to parents back in March. One parent, who tried to raise the issue with the school, was told he would not be welcome back when the new school year starts in September.

Will Karla ever get a ‘second chance?’ What about her children, will they ever be allowed to have a  life free of being haunted by their mom’s record?

Whatever happened to the ‘live and let live’ ethos of our supposedly tolerant secular society?  As we abandon Christianity our tolerance as a society shrinks.

Where can we go to be forgiven?

Alternative Facts Exist!

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There has been a lot of talk in the news about the term ‘alternative facts’.  Some believe ‘alternative facts’ are nothing more than lies.  They could be lies but they don’t have to be.measuring-angles

‘Alternative facts’ do exist in geometry.  Some of us might remember being taught in elementary school that the sum of the angles in any triangle always add up to 180 degrees. We were taught that this is a fact.  It isn’t.   It is an alternative fact!

In Euclidian space the sum of the angles of a triangle all add up to 180 degrees but there are other kinds of spaces and associated geometries.  There are alternative facts for the sum of the angles in a triangle:

Logically speaking, the assumption of a single parallel line is equivalent to the fact that angles in a triangle sum to 180°. Furthermore, if this is true of a single triangle, this is also true of all possible triangles. In the geometry of Gauss, Lobachevsky, and Bolyai, parallels are not unique. This is equivalent to the sum of angles in a triangle being less than 180°. And again, this condition holds for all triangles provided it is true for any one of them. Riemann’s spherical geometry completes a triad: no parallels and the angle sum is (always) more than 180°.

source: Non-Euclidean Geometrie, http://www.cut-the-knot.org/triangle/pythpar/Drama.shtml

‘What does all this have to do with the ‘real world?’, you may ask.  Geometry helps a person understand that ‘alternative facts’ do exist.  Any statement that conflicts with what is known to be true could be a lie or it could be an alternative fact.    In geometry, this means knowing which type of space the person is working in; Euclidean or non-Euclidean. To determine the ‘truth’ of statement you have to know the basic context the statement was made within.   This is important if you want to figure out if an ‘alternative fact’ is really a lie.

Brian Stelter reports on the responses to Kelleyanne Conway’s use of the term ‘Alternative fact’;

The presentation of “alternative facts” undermines the media’s reporting of reality in a way that decreases public trust in the media — and in facts.
The administration’s tactics in its first days, coupled with Conway’s invocation of “alternative facts,” has observers worried that one of the ways it will “fight back” is to simply deny that two plus two equals four.
“Alternative facts” is “a George Orwell phrase,” Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty said, referring to the science fiction novel “1984.”
“This brings us to ‘1984’ doublethink, where war is really peace, where famine is really plenty. That’s what’s happening here,” political historian Allan Lichtman said on CNN Sunday afternoon.
The phrase was a top trending topic on Twitter during the day. Some people made jokes while others took it very seriously.
“‘Alternative facts’ is a euphemism of propagandists and authoritarians. The new White House administration is full of both. Actual facts,” MTV’s Jamil Smith tweeted.

comparison-withtime-1024x576What is the basic context of the ‘alternative facts’ uttered about the President’s inauguration?  Could it be an attempt at simple misdirection?  Stelter writes; “The administration is likely not all that upset with the discussion it’s started among the press about the truth and its flaunting of it. The Trump aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out a fringe benefit of the administration’s media complaints: ‘By going out and doing this, it took images of people protesting off the TV.’

Rather than rage against the term ‘alterative facts’ why doesn’t the media simply report on the numbers and leave it to the people to decide if they are being lied to?

In any case, we cannot say there are no such things as alternative facts.   You can’t deal with lies by denying other realities.

True community

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His Church, His Mission and Us! 

Community is breaking down in society.  What seems to have replaced true communities are loose collections of individuals that have similar interests in sport, career, political or social areas.  Marriage has broken down and so family life has eroded which in turn has weakened communities. The spiritual dimension of life has been all but lost to most.  Many complain about the lack of  meaning in their lives but don’t know what’s missing.

Community is all about life, living and passing what’s good from one generation to the next.  It’s done by moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts, friends and relatives.   It’s done by all these loving people growing and maturing together at different rates but always in the same direction – towards strengthening their ties to one another and to God.  This is the wisdom of community.family in HIs Hands

Without God none of it works or lasts because God designed and created men and women;  “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)  God defined marriage and so formed the basis of family; “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)  And we all know that the wreck of the first family; Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel resulted from a breakdown of their relationship with God culminating in horrific domestic violence; “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  (Genesis 4:7)  Without God things fly apart because no one is accountable to anyone for their actions.

godly community tetrahedronWe have talked about the marriage triangle with Jesus at one point and husband and wife at the other two.  We see that as each spouse draws closer to Jesus, husband and wife draw closer to each other. We have looked at the basic shape of community that church brings basic family into –  Husband, wife and church in a triangle of community relationship.  This relationship can be sacred or worldly depending on the church’s connection to God which isn’t necessarily part of the structure.  Some churches are so social in nature that God and His Word is in second place at best.tetrahedron_community

How do these relationships fit together because a true community – a church community must have God as part of the structure.  We don’t immediately see that in the Church, husband and wife triangle – something is missing.  And that’s because each depiction is a two-dimensional map giving only a partial picture of the reality.  Just as a flat map of our country doesn’t show Canada  in relation to the world we need a three-dimensional figure –  a globe! – And  by adding another dimension in  this case – a spiritual  one we get a figure made of four triangles – like the crystal structure of your diamond rings – the toughest substance known to human science in nature.  We  celebrate the marriage relationship with this remarkable gem.  Notice it is the individuals(the other two triangular relationships – husband/church/Jesus and wife/church/Jesus) – who establish Jesus in the church not the other way around.  After all a church isn’t a building it’s people!

Godless Community and the church:

If we remove Jesus, we just  have a carnal horizontal community not so different from social clubs.  Without a spiritual connection to Jesus Christ the church community flattens to a humanistic religiosity.  This would be a worldly kind of church and so would be either very weak prone to flying apart or very cult-like clenching people in it so tightly, always on the brink of imploding. Scripture tells us such communities do exist.  They can be formed around self-righteous religiosity or cheap-grace permissiveness.

Jesus nailed the scribes and Pharisees for their demanding grasping religion; “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see.”  (Matthew 23:2-5)  Man-made rules and fake religiosity just won’t work because they are Godless.

Hosea confronted the religious establishment of his day for abandoning God and letting everything fly apart; “The more priests there were, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful. . . .  And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. ‘They will eat but not have enough; they will engage in prostitution but not flourish, because they have deserted the Lord’” (Hosea 4:7-10).  Permissiveness and a casual attitude to God and His Word always results in things flying apart no matter how ‘seeker friendly’ we become by trying to compromise on Biblical principles.the dire reality

This bigger picture also shows the reality of our situation.  Scripture tells that in Christ Jesus we are now at odds with the world and it’s ruler  – the devil; “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)  There is a war on in the heavenly realms; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:12) And the church is at the battle front; “His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”  (Ephesians 3:10)  We are at war!

The Church cannot make peace with the world any more than the soldiers in an army can make individual peace with the enemy army.  Only our Commander-in-Chief, only Jesus has the authority to heal the earth and bring His Peace to us; “. . . at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  (Philippians 2:10-11)

friendsenemiesThose that would have us believe that we can make our world better by being on friendly terms with it ignore Scripture; “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)  It’s not about numbers, attracting members or planting more churches – it’s about God and His people!  Our battle is to bring the Gospel message to the world by being the community of faith that Jesus has called us to be;  “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15,16)

Challenging times are coming.  Our sense of community under Jesus will be openly challenged by the world. Every denial of Jesus either by diminishing Scripture or His leadership in the church, works to remove His strength in our community, marriages and church.  Our mission is to defend the faith we have in Jesus by proclaiming His Gospel boldly.   We can accept our mission in this battle or not. But it won’t go away.  We must choose; “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve:  . . .  but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”   (Joshua 24:15)

Who will you serve?

But all lives do matter!

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We aren’t supposed to say ‘all lives matter’.  If we do we are racist.  To make matters worse – I’m an old white guy with tons of privilege.  Privilege made me fat and sick.  I lost 30 pounds of privilege and  got  a lot healthier but I’m still an old, white male.   A lot of people say I’m the reason for all these racist problems.

Angelina Chapin of the Huffington Post writes; “It’s no surprise that in North America, white men are the group most vocally against efforts to create a more equitable society. They have spearheaded men’s rights groups to combat feminism. They form the base of Donald Trump’s supporters.”  I am a North American white man but I don’t combat feminism and as a Canadian Donald Trump will never have my vote.   But in this world if your guilty on one count  you’re guilty on all counts.john3 16

Exacerbating my white, male privileged position, I must also plead guilty to being a committed Christian.  To God, all lives matter; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)  The Holy Bible tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to fall through the cracks; “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)  If all lives matter to God, all lives matter to me.

To further complicate my life of white privilege my faith demands that I see all people  as equal whatever their background or sex; “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:28)  Jesus makes crazy demands on guys like me; but no wonder – He wasn’t an old white man enjoying a lot of white privilege.

But without Jesus, I’d try to vote for Trump, actively make every effort to stamp out feminism as well as push other people  out of my privileged space.  Now I’m just left agreeing with what the Bible says and trying hard to love God first and my  neighbour as myself.

All lives do matter because God says so in His Word!

 

 

The pride of fake holiness

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Fake holiness is as carnal as it’s opposite – debauchery.  Those that purse their lips and assess others as to what they should and should  not do according to their own notions of purity are in as much danger of hell as any drunk given over completely to his intoxication.

The Pharisees fell into this deadly trap even to the point of judging Jesus’ actions; “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”  (John 7:21-24)

fake holinessThe prideful Pharisees failed to judge correctly which is as sinful as any other sin.  The religious establishment of Jesus’ day was completely given over to intoxicating pride; “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.Everything they do is done for people to see . . . ” (Matthew 23:2-5)  Judging correctly carries a burden of humility and desire to help others in a loving way.

Fake holiness and the idolatrous religion it imposes on others creates havoc; “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:13-14) Fake holiness with great effort and fanfare plants more of its sinful likeness as well as collateral sin in the world.

Fake holiness works on the outside for all to see  while leaving the inside damaged and broken;  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27:28) This ‘fakery’ leaves the church as desolate as it did the temple; “Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (v. 38,39)

The telling note of fake holiness is that it is never satisfied with anything else but itself; “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” (Luke 7:33,34) Fake holiness worships itself.

Paul warned the church against submitting to the judgement of fake holiness; “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.” (Colossians 2:16-18) Jesus was very clear that it isn’t what we take in that defiles us. Rather it is what we bring forth out of our hearts that make us unclean; “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:17-29)love me keep my commands

Judgments about a person’s holiness based on outward shows of religiosity and purity say more about the person making the judgment than the one being judged; “Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” (Colossians 2:18,19) And that head is Jesus Christ – when we lose touch with Him we become desolate and abandoned to our own lusts; “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (v. 21-23)

Jesus calls us back from prideful fake holiness, he calls our burdened victims as well; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

His love is the true Spirit which makes us holy; “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)

This is true holiness – to abide daily with Jesus!

How the bullied become the bullies

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Feeling aggrieved can lead to a particularly nasty transformation where the victim becomes the ‘victimizer’.  What does this look like?  The most recent Pride Parade in Toronto provides some insight;blm-1

Ever since the sit-in, however, Black Lives Matter Toronto has been the target of vicious, racist emails, some from members of the larger LGBTQ community, said Janaya Khan, a co-founder of the group.

“Particularly our queer and trans members, myself included, we have received dozens and dozens and dozens since the action,” said Khan. “I think that is testament to why we had to create an intervention into Pride in the first place.”

The hate mail, which is “100 per cent” made up of anti-black racism, denounces members of Black Lives Toronto who have identified as queer and trans, said Khan.

“It’s ’You could never be a part of our community, you savage monkey,’ that kind of thing,” she said. “The reality is that gender and sexual diversity doesn’t negate the reality of racism and white privilege…In their minds my blackness made it so that I couldn’t possibly be a part of their community.”

source: Flood of hate mail since Toronto Pride parade sit-in demonstrates racism: Black Lives Matter, by Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press, July 5, 2016

What kind of ‘phobia’ would cause this kind of abuse to be heaped upon Black Lives Matter?

When I was  a child we played a game in the school yard called ‘King of the hill.’  It often ended in fighting among the participants because no one liked to be pushed off the top of the hill after having fought their way to the top.  So the pushing would get rougher and so would the pushback until someone ended up with a bloody nose or split lip.  As kids we all thought we were entitled to be ‘King of the hill’ and took it very personally if someone else fought for the spot.  After  a while, the game always got nasty and wasn’t fun anymore.

Can adults become childish and  drunk with the entitlement of winning what they think is their battle and their battle only – to the point that they want to exclude others?  Is the fear of losing your position the phobia that drives this sort of behaviour?

The Bible warns about the outcome of such behaviour for all sides; “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)

Sadly the participants don’t seem to be  inclined to the wisdom the Holy Bible offers.

The Pony Club – a modern day parable

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There once was a Pony Club that enriched the lives of its members for many years.  But as time went on fewer and fewer people joined.   The Pony Club no longer attracted as many new members because it demanded hard work, determination and perseverance.  All the members that had joined in the past  were all changed by the Pony Club – for the better. The current leaders however were more interested in numerical growth and ‘attracting’ new comers so they changed the Pony Club rather than letting the Pony Club change its members.

pony clubThis story like all parables is based on a true story and contains a story about Truth:

Among a certain cognoscenti it is well known that the most fun a child can have is provided by one humble yet well respected establishment. It is not expensive and it is not exclusive. It embraces hard work, long days, grit and determination and yet it is what many teenagers spend their school days dreaming of.

While incomprehensible to non-members, there is an unspoken understanding among its members, a kind of secret society of those in the know, that the most enjoyment a child can ever have is by being a member of The Pony Club. The 87-year-old institution announced this week it intends to shed its stuffy image.

The comedic, Thelwellesque reputation forged by indomitable district commissioners dressed in tweed jackets and ties, barking orders at a rag tag army of dishevelled children on hairy ponies is no longer desirable. The new chief executive, Pip Kirkby, feels that in order to thrive the club must adapt to the 21st century and embrace a more modern and liberal stance.

The Pony Club may be relaxing its membership rules – but I hope it never changes by Marina Fogle

Truth is timeless and universal.   Truth isn’t about numbers or members. Truth is its own attraction.  People will be drawn to it or not depending on their inclination.  Truth doesn’t need to be liberal, conservative or modern.

The Bible tells us that God’s call is never about numbers and always about commitment.  Time and time again Scripture describes God’s desire for quality and not quantity.  It’s not about numbers it’s about God; “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me,  My own strength has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2)  Yet the world thinks otherwise.  ‘Soulishness’ demands numbers and large memberships. That’s the way of the world.19ea5ed2ed7ef9779c12ead704bcc041

Jesus established His church on the Truth.  He told it simply, without compromise and with authority.  He didn’t sugar the Gospel with easy entrance requirements; “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) Nor did He go easy on His disciples in the hopes that they would naturally want to be better people; “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) He had His eye on eternity not modernity.

But then again, Jesus was establishing His Church not a Pony Club!

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